Context


Cherif Kouachi , on the left and his brother Said

Cherif Kouachi , on the left and his brother Said

This is not an excuse it’s offered to show what made Cherif Kouachi and his brother do such a terrorist type attack on the soul of France.  It like most things that deal with the Middle East, has a history and Cherif Kouachi’s history began with Abu Ghraib; you know that awful part of American history we’d much rather forget and which has been sanitized by media because it was so inhumane and dastardly.  The pictures revealed weren’t even the tip of the iceberg; there were some far more brutal that dealt with rape and bestiality of prisoners…..men, women and children.  In fact they are so bad that the Obama administration has refused to release the remaining ones for fear they would inflame public passions and spark an international outcry.  Abu Ghraib is something we want to forget but the people of Iraq…..God bless them and those who went there like Cherif Kouachi aren’t probably going to forget anytime soon.  Oh forgive, no doubt, American largesse will make them but those like Cherif  who aren’t likely to partake in the purchased conspiracy of silence aren’t going to.

We have this illusion that we, America can do no wrong…that we are the beacon of light for civilization and if we do anything criminal it’s for a greater good or could never equal what others far more barbaric and uncivilized than us could do.  We’re good at setting up false equivalences, but Kouachi no doubt heard it all when he was in Mesopotamia in 2011 and he seethed.  We’ve written about France a lot here on the pages of Miscellany101 and how it’s false claims of liberty and equality are nothing more than sticks they used to beat secularism into their subjects…..Christian, Muslim or Jewish.  For Muslims however there has been a steady eroding of rights to practice their religion, especially for women, like nothing seen since the days surrounding World War II. That fact no doubt also had a lot to do with Cherif’s destructive anger; unemployed and living with or knowing women who might have felt hampered by their government to practice their religion was enough to make him teeter on the edge….until he saw these..

 

 

As you can see they vary in obscenity and many of you depending on your daily diet of murder, mayhem and pornography probably don’t find any of them offensive.  I remember back in the day when the crucifix was submerged in a bottle of what was said to be urine and many people in government were up in arms about that and wanted to cut funding to the arts.  No, it’s not the same thing as what happened in France, not even close, but it underscores the fact that people are entitled to have their religious figures, symbols respected.  Now lest you think I’m trying to make excuses, I tweeted before even seeing these cartoons ‘Did they have the right to publish the cartoons? Yes. Are they offensive? Yes! Should Muslims protest and create acts of violence? No!’…..and quite frankly I stand by that position but before you go off all high and mighty about the right to free speech, think about what you would do if someone willfully posted pictures of your beloved family member for all the world to see and claim to do it in the name of freedom of speech…..

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George Bush today


Jewish Bible InstituteImagine, we elected this man as president twice!  He couldn’t bring on the apocalypse as president so he’s trying to do it as an ex-president?

Next week, former President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser in Irving, Texas, for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization’s goal: to “restore” Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ.

Bush would not be able to engage in such activity as president because it certainly be viewed as a violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state rights but pursuing such an agenda as a private citizen can only make one ask is this the true George W. Bush?  But isn’t this what Christianity believes, that no one can be saved unless they accept Jesus as their savior?  In that regard Bush is doing nothing more than what his religion demands.  The notion that people aren’t good enough as they already are however, is an idea that has to be abandoned if we are to live as citizens of America.

Myth debunked


The number of people employed by the federal government has shrunk under the Obama administration.

It was the summer of 1966. Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and the Great Society was roaring. In August, the federal government had 2,721,000 employees.

Now it is the fall of 2013. There are complaints from Washington about a bloated federal government. Another Democrat, Barack Obama, is president.

In September, before the government shutdown, the government had 2,723,000 employees, according to the latest job report, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That is the lowest figure since 1966. Until now, the lowest figure for the current century had been 2,724,000 federal employees in October 2004, when George W. Bush was seeking a second term in the White House.

Now, the federal government employs exactly 2 percent of the people with jobs in this country. In 1966, the figure was more than twice that, 4.3 percent.

All these figures, by the way, are for civilian jobs. Members of the armed forces are not counted. If they were included, the contrast would be even sharper. In 1966 the Vietnam War was going on, and around 2.6 million people were on active duty. This year the figure is around 1.4 million.

 

Closed for business


shutdownAmerica has been closed for business for quite a long time.  Well before President Obama’s second term began, the #DemonicGop decided the only thing it was going to do was obstruct any initiatives taken by the either party, Democrats or non #DemonicGOP members, in order to make the Obama administration look inept and incompetent even if it was to the detriment to their own party or the American people.  Ultimately the purpose is to show any future aspirants to power that power is reserved for only a few in American society….people of color or faith need not apply, and in case you forget remember what happened to Obama.

The #DemonicGOP is not without help in their agenda.  A #sycophanticMedia has gone a long way to legitimize the fraud coming from the opposition party and leading to the shutdown.  In fact some among the #sycophanticMedia have used terms like “slimdown” to water down the impact of the lunacy coming out of Washington.  But if you really want to know what’s going you’ll have to look beyond the #sycophanticMedia into what’s being said like this

Joan Walsh nods:

On the day the Affordable Care Act takes effect, the U.S. government is shut down, and it may be permanently broken. You’ll read lots of explanations for the dysfunction, but the simple truth is this: It’s the culmination of 50 years of evolving yet consistent Republican strategy to depict government as the enemy, an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans, to the detriment of everyone else. The fact that everything came apart under our first African-American president wasn’t an accident, it was probably inevitable.

BillClintonI’d say it came apart during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the first sign of madness when the Democrats first truly wielded power after the Southern Strategy bore fruit under Reagan. Remember that Clinton was from the beginning regarded as illegitimate because he didn’t get more than 43 percent of the vote. Let us recall Bob Dole’s wordsafter Clinton’s 1992 clear electoral college victory:

There isn’t any Clinton mandate. Fifty-seven percent didn’t vote for him. I’ll represent the 57 percent.

Or Tommy Thompson with an equally surreal view of the Constitution:

Only 43 percent of the people voted for Bill Clinton — that is not much of a mandate. . . . Republicans won nine legislative houses across the country. . . . Republicans have just as much of a mandate as the Democrats.

When you compare this with the Republican view of the 2000 election when George W Bush lost the popular vote and, undeterred by any sense of restraint, doubled down on massive unfunded tax cuts and pre-emptive wars along with budget-busting new entitlements, you get a better sense of who feels entitled to rule in this country, and who is routinely regarded as “illegitimate.”

Now, of course, this merely suggests that it is simply being Democrats that render the last two Democratic presidents inherently illegitimate – since only one was African-American. But remember how Clinton was regarded as “the first black president” by many, including those on the left? Remember his early days fighting for civil rights in Arkansas? You think a white Southerner overturning the success of the Southern Strategy would be deemed acceptable to the Southern right which increasingly dominated the GOP?

Nonetheless, Charles C. W. Cooke rightly notes:

Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush, all of whom presided over fractious shutdowns, might find this insinuation rather perplexing. In the last 40 years, only President George W. Bush was spared such a conflict.

The one president whose legitimacy was actually in some actual doubt escaped the revolt entirely. Hmmm. Quod erat demonstrandum.

More to the point, the other shutdowns were not about demanding the repeal of an already-enacted, constitutionally-approved signature achievement of a re-elected president – only a few years after a massive financial crisis and during a global recession. They were bargaining positions in which both sides had something to offer and a compromise to reach. All the GOP has to offer this time is … shutting down the government. This is not negotiation; it’s blackmail. And blackmail after all the proper avenues for stopping, amending, delaying and reforming the health bill have been exhausted. I mean they repealed the bill 41 times already – proof positive that all constitutional means for opposition have been exhausted. That‘s what makes this different. It’s not about playing hard by the rules. It’s losing and throwing the board-game in the air and threatening the destruction of the US and global economy in consequence. It’s unbelievable.

But when I mention race, I should unpack my point. It’s not a simple one, and I do not mean to be glib or too casual in throwing that word around.obamaracism

I’m talking about the difference between opposition to a president’s agenda and a belief that he is somehow an impostor, illegitimate, and a usurper for reasons that seem, in the end, to come down to racial and cultural panic.Do I have to recount the endless accusations against Obama of such?  No president has been subjected to endless litigation of his birth certificate or his religious faith (as if the latter mattered anyway). No president has been heckled in a State of the Union address with the words “You lie!” as Obama was. There was no claim that George W Bush was illegitimate because he muscled through a huge Medicare expansion as he was destroying this country’s fiscal standing having lost the popular vote to Al Gore. The Democrats didn’t threaten to shut the government down to stop anything he did. And no Republican, facing a major economic crisis, has received zero votes from the opposition in his first year. Both Bushes and Reagan won considerable Democratic support for tax cuts and tax hikes in their early years. The opposition accepted the legitimacy of the election. That’s the difference.

But Clinton was nonetheless regarded as illegitimate despite being what in any other era would be called a moderate Republican. Ditto Obama, whose stimulus and healthcare law were well within conservative policy consensus only a decade ago. I supported both presidents as a moderate small-c conservative (until Clinton revealed himself as sadly lacking the character not to self-implode). So I have long been puzzled not by legitimate opposition to various policies but by the frenzy of it. Call it the education of an English conservative in the long tortured history of American pseudo-conservatism.

In the end, I could only explain the foam-flecked frenzy of opposition to Clinton and Obama by the sense that the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s was the defining event for a certain generation, that the backlash to it was seen as a restoration of the right people running the country (i.e. no minorities with real clout), and that Clinton’s and even more Obama’s victories meant this narrative was revealed as an illusion. This is compounded by racial and cultural panic – against gays, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos etc – and cemented by a moronic, literalist, utterly politicized version of Christianity. This mindset – what I have called the “fundamentalist psyche” – is what is fueling the rage. It’s what fueled the belief that Romney was on the verge of a landslide. It is inherently irrational. It knows somewhere deep down that it is headed for defeat. But it will take down as much of the country, economy and constitution as it can while doing so.

For this time, as they surely know, Reconstruction will not be on their terms. They have no agenda because the multi-racial, multi-cultural, moderate-right country they live in is a refutation of their core identity. So race and culture fuel this – perhaps not explicitly or even consciously for some, but surely powerfully for many. And we are reaching a perilous moment as their cultural marginalization intensifies and their political defeat nears. After that, the rage could become truly destabilizing, unless some kind of establishment Republican leadership can learn to lead again. America and the world need to batten down the hatches.

 

There’s this shellacking for members of the #sycophanticMedia

U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy.gov't suicide

When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)

And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it. The last shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, were not the product of unilateral demands to scrap existing law; they took place during a period of give-and-take budget negotiations. obstructionism

But the political media’s aversion to doing anything that might be seen as taking sides — combined with its obsession with process — led them to actively obscure the truth in their coverage of the votes. If you did not already know what this was all about, reading the news would not help you understand.

What makes all this more than a journalistic failure is that the press plays a crucial role in our democracy. We count on the press to help create an informed electorate. And perhaps even more important, we rely on the press to hold the powerful accountable.

That requires calling out political leaders when they transgress or fail to meet commonly agreed-upon standards: when they are corrupt, when they deceive, when they break the rules and refuse to govern. Such exposure is the first consequence. When the transgressions are sufficiently grave, what follows should be continued scrutiny, marginalization, contempt and ridicule.

In the current political climate, journalistic false equivalence leads to an insufficiently informed electorate, because the public is not getting an accurate picture of what is going on.

But the lack of accountability is arguably even worse because it has the characteristics of a cascade failure. When the media coverage seeks down-the-middle neutrality despite one party’s outlandish conduct, there are no political consequences for their actions. With no consequences for extremism, politicians who have succeeded using such conduct have an incentive to become even more extreme. The more extreme they get, the further the split-the-difference press has to veer from common sense in order to avoid taking sides. And so on.

The political press should be the public’s first line of defense when it comes to assessing who is deviating from historic norms and practices, who is risking serious damage to the nation, whose positions are based in irrational phobias and ignorance rather than data and reason.  corporate-news-poster

Instead journalists have been suckered into embracing “balance” and “neutrality” at all costs, and the consequences of their choice in an era of political extremism will only get worse and worse.

One of the great ironies of the current dynamic is that political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, who for decades were conventional voices of plague-on-both-your-houses centrism, have now become among the foremost critics of a press corps that fails to report the obvious. They describe the modern Republican Party, without any hesitation, as “a party beholden to ideological zealots.”

But as Mann explained in an interview last year, “The mainstream press really has such a difficult time trying to cope with asymmetry between the two parties’ agendas and connections to facts and truth.”

Even with a story as straightforward as the government shutdown, splitting the difference remains the method of choice for the political reporters and editors in Washington’s most influential news bureaus. Even when they surely know better. Even when many Republican elected officials have criticized their own leaders for being too beholden to the more radical right wing.

Media critics — and members of the public — have long decried this kind of he-said-she-said reporting. The Atlantic’s James Fallows, one of the most consistent chroniclers and decriers of false equivalence, describes it as the “strong tendency to give equal time and credence to varying ‘sides’ of a story, even if one of the sides is objectively true and the other is just made up.”

New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen argues that truth telling has been surpassed as a newsroom priority by a neither-nor impartiality he calls the “view from nowhere.”

Blaming everyone — Congress, both sides, Washington — is simply the path of least resistance for today’s political reporters. It’s a way of avoiding conflict rather than taking the risk that the public — or their editors — will accuse them of being unprofessionally partisan.

But making a political judgment through triangulation — trying to stake out a safe middle ground between the two political parties — is still making a political judgment. It is often just not a very good one. And in this case, as in many others, it is doing the country a grave disservice.

So, no, the shutdown is not generalized dysfunction or gridlock or stalemate. It is aberrational behavior by a political party that is willing to take extreme and potentially damaging action to get its way. And by not calling it what it is, the political press is enabling it.

We need a more fearless media.

Is there more to say than that?

Let’s hope none of the respondents were Americans


 

tentAli Abunimah ran the above photograph and chronicled the response of some Israelis and to read what they wrote was quite disturbing.  Look at some of them and tell me whether their suggestions don’t remind you of something that has already happened

Run the tent over with a truck/Merkava tank/a bus/ whatever it takes to crush and kill these children (Rachael Corrie)….

I’d have thrown nerve gas into the tent and closed it and made them breath it until the end…… (Saddam Hussein)

Put a couple of bullets in their heads and we’re done (Adam Lanza)

My point is these people are suggesting things be done that have been done to or by people that we acknowledge as social psychopaths, deviants who have been killed by us or whose death we cheered.  If you read Abunimah’s article you’ll find who some of the people who responded are and its scary because many of them have the means and opportunity to do what it is they are suggesting be done.

The Washington Post gets pwned


I’m not a fan of corporate media because it tends to make unsettling alliances with people of power to insure its profitability through devious journalistic and financial practices but I have a special enmity for corporate media that didn’t do its job during the time of the crisis with Iraq and misled the country with the help of dubious politicians into one of the greatest crimes against humanity that we’ve seen in our lives.  Here is another brilliant piece from Robert Parry about the culpability of the Washington Post

Four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, the Washington Post published an editorial about the disastrous war of choice, a conflict which the Post’s neocon editors promoted with falsehoods and distortions both before the invasion and for years afterwards.

However, if you thought there would be some admission of the newspaper’s long litany of mistakes or some apology to the war’s critics who were routinely maligned in Post editorials and op-eds, you would be sorely disappointed. There was not even a mention of the nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died.

President Barack Obama remains a target of the Washington Post’s outrage over his supposed failure to complete the neocon agenda in the Middle East. Obama is shown here touring the crypt containing the reputed birthplace of Jesus during the President’s visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the West Bank, March 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After a brief acknowledgement that the war’s tenth anniversary “generated plenty of commentary about the lessons of that war,” the Post’s editors said nothing about what, if anything, they had learned. Instead, they remained in positive spin mode, citing one supposed accomplishment from the invasion.

“For the first time in decades, contemporary Iraq poses no threat to its neighbors,” the Post declared. However, even that is a lie on two fronts.

First, Iraq under Saddam Hussein had not been a threat to its neighbors since the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91, unless the Post’s editors were having a flashback to the glory days of 2002-03 when they were disseminating President George W. Bush’s bogus WMD propaganda. Do they still believe that nonsense?

Second, today’s Iraq under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a threat to its neighbors because al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni extremists from western Iraq have crossed the border to Syria where they have assumed a major role in the violent opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

But the Post’s editors want you to believe that the Bush-neocon expedition to Iraq was on the cusp of some great success until President Barack Obama showed up to squander the victory – by not insisting on a continuation of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

“Iran’s influence over Mr. Maliki’s government is mounting, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s failure to agree with Baghdad on a stay-on force of U.S. troops,” the Post wrote, making it seem as if it were Obama’s petulance that prevented the continued U.S. military presence, not the insistence by Maliki’s government of terms in a “status of forces agreement” unacceptable to the Americans.

Lost Influence

In the Post’s frame of reality, however, this failure to keep tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq has led to other terrible consequences: “According to U.S. officials, Iraq has been allowing Iran to fly weapons through its airspace to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Repeated appeals from Washington to stop the traffic have gone unheeded.”

But an objective observer might have noted that it was the Bush-neocon hubris, rushing into a war to oust Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime that led inevitably to the expanded influence of Shiite-ruled Iran within the new Shiite-controlled regime in Iraq. Yet, the Post instead placed the blame squarely on Obama.

The Post’s editorial then returned to its current campaign to pressure the Obama administration into entering a new military conflict in Syria, accusing the President of unmanly softness.

“The civil war in Syria, and the passivity with which the Obama administration has responded to it, have reinforced these negative trends. Mr. Maliki fears that the downfall of the Assad regime could lead to a Sunni-dominated government that would back insurrection in Sunni parts of Iraq.

“As with leaders across the Middle East, he perceives that the United States is unwilling to defend its interests in the region, either by stopping the Syrian bloodbath or countering Iran’s interventions. The risk of greater turmoil or even a return to civil war in Iraq is one of several compelling reasons for more aggressive U.S. action to end the war in Syria.”

The Post then summed up its case by suggesting that Obama has betrayed the great victory that the neocons supposedly had won in Iraq.

“President Obama has often given the impression that he has turned his back on Iraq, and many Americans understandably sympathize with him. But a failure to engage with the fragile state U.S. troops left behind would endanger U.S. interests and break faith with the many Americans who made sacrifices there.”

What is particularly startling about the Post’s editorial, which curiously appears four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, is that the dominant newspaper in the nation’s capital continues to live in a neocon fantasy world or at least refuses to acknowledge key Middle East realities.

In Neocon-land, the big U.S. mistake in Iraq was not forcing the Iraqis to accept an indefinite U.S. military occupation, compounded by the Obama administration’s hesitancy to join Israel in bombing Iran and to jump into another bloody quagmire in Syria – in other words to continue the neocon grand plan of “regime change” across the Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Not only did the Post editorial, entitled “Iraq, 10 years later,” offer no self-reflection on the Post’s many factual errors about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, no apology for its bullying of war skeptics, and no recognition of its complicity in a criminal invasion, but the newspaper’s editors appear to have absorbed not a single lesson from what happened a decade ago.

That inability to utter even the most obvious and necessary mea culpa is disturbing in itself. Indeed, if the Post were still a serious news organization committed to the principles of honest journalism, it would have undertaken a major overhaul of its editorial-page staff rather than keeping in place the same leadership and punditry that was so embarrassingly wrong on Iraq.

But, even worse, the Post’s editors continue to pontificate with an arrogance resistant to the undeniable reality of their own misjudgments, incompetence and immorality. In that sense, the Washington Post has become a threat to the Republic and to the world.

What Happened to the US Press Corps?


U.S. President George W. Bush meets with troop...

U.S. President George W. Bush meets with troops and serves Thanksgiving Day Dinner at the Bob Hope Dining Facility, Baghdad International Airport, Iraq

Beautiful article written by Robert Parry asks the rhetorical question about the ineptness of the American media and then brilliantly answers it and it’s not a pretty answer, but it’s real and honest. Below is an excerpt to remind everyone while we talk about the ten year anniversary of the Iraq invasion of the how complicit media was in that war crime.

Why this history is relevant today, as the United States commemorates the tenth anniversary of the disastrous Iraq War, is that it was the Reagan administration’s success in housebreaking the Washington press corps that guaranteed that only a handful of mainstream journalists would ask tough questions about President George W. Bush’s case for invading Iraq.

Put yourself in the shoes of an aspiring Washington correspondent in 2002-2003. Your immediate editors and bureau chiefs were people who succeeded professionally during the 1980s and 1990s. They climbed the ladder by not reaching out for the difficult stories that challenged Republican presidents and earned the wrath of right-wing attack groups. They kept their eyes firmly on the backsides of those above them.

The journalists who did the hard work during that era suffered devastating career damage, again and again. Indeed, they had been made into object lessons for others. Even progressive publications, which wanted some “credibility” with the mainstream, turned away.

In other words, a decade ago – as in the 1980s and 1990s – there was little or no reward in challenging the Bush administration over its claims about Iraq’s WMD, while there was a very big danger. After all, what if you had written a tough story questioning Bush’s case for war and had managed somehow to pressure your editors to run it prominently – and then what if some WMD stockpiles were discovered in Iraq?

Your career would end in ignominy. You would forever be “the Saddam Hussein apologist” who doubted the Great War President, George W. Bush. You would probably be expected to resign to spare your news organization further embarrassment. If not, your editors would likely compel you to leave in disgrace.

People may forget now but it took guts to challenge Bush back then. Remember what happened to the Dixie Chicks, a popular music group, when they dared to express disagreement with Bush’s war of choice. They faced boycotts and death threats.

At Consortiumnews.com in 2002-2003, we ran a number of stories questioning Bush’s WMD claims and his other arguments for war – and even though we were only an Internet site, I got angry e-mails every time the U.S. invading forces found a 55-gallon drum of chemicals. The e-mails demanded that I admit I was wrong and telling me that I owed Bush an apology. [For details on the wartime reporting, see Neck Deep.]

When I would read those comments, I would flash back to the stomach-turning angst that I felt as a correspondent for AP and Newsweek when I published a story that I knew would open me to a new round of attacks. At those moments, all I had was confidence in my tradecraft, the belief that I had followed the rules of journalism in carefully assessing and presenting the evidence.

Still, there is no certainty in journalism. Even the most careful reporting can contain imprecision or errors. But that imperfection becomes a major problem when the rewards and punishments are skewed too widely, when the slightest problem on one side leads to loss of your livelihood while gross mistakes on the other carry no punishment at all.

That was the core failure of the U.S. news media on the Iraq War. By 2002-2003, a generation or more of American journalists had absorbed this career reality. There was grave danger to question Bush’s claims while there was little risk in going with the flow.

And, if you made that assessment a decade ago, you were right. Even though you were wrong journalistically in promoting or staying silent on Bush’s assertions about Iraq’s WMD, you almost surely continued your career climb. If questioned about why you got the WMD question wrong, you could simply say that “everyone got it wrong” – or at least everyone who mattered – so it would be unfair to single anyone out for blame.

But most likely, no one who mattered would even ask the question because those folks had been traveling in the same pack, spouting the same groupthink. So, if it seems odd to some Americans that today they are reading and watching the same pundits who misled them into a catastrophic war a decade ago, it shouldn’t.

Where’s the outrage?!?!


rageI like President Obama.  I thought he was a viable and even American alternative to the excesses of the Bush presidency,which were rooted in lies and secrecy that I thought threatened the existence of America as we know it.  However,  close examination of Obama’s record, vis-a-vis foreign policy shows that at the least there is no difference between the two administrations or worse that Obama has surpassed Bush’s excesses.

Unfortunately President Obama has gone from an America where detention of American citizens was something hinted at or debated in foreign policy circles in the Bush administration to indefinite detention being codified with NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act.  By widening the ‘war on terror’ or accepting as did Bush that it is an infinite conflict in both time and borders, and with the appropriate laws in place, Obama has made the federal government an usurper of the rights of American citizens to habeas corpus meaning any American anywhere in the world can be captured and held indefinitely for as long as the federal government wants.  This also means, should the government wish it could act  as  executioner of those it wants to target for assassination without giving them a chance to turn themselves in or  have access to the judicial system, so says this  latest bit of news to come out of Washington

…the president can order the killing of a US citizen who is a member of al-Qaida…(without any specificity on)  the “minimum legal requirements” for launching such an operation, (the Administration) insists that the killing would be constitutionally justified as the United States is engaged in an “armed conflict” as defined by international law and authorised by Congress, with al-Qaida and its affiliates.  In a key passage in the document – which is unsigned – (the Administration) argues that for a US citizen who has rights under the due process clause and the fourth amendment, “that individual’s citizenship would not immunise from a lethal operation”.

The Administration also goes on to assert all of this can be done without any over sight from the judiciary…..it is considered too intrusive and burdensome and would get in the way of the President’s ability to act swiftly  against citizens.  Obama also says that such lethal and deadly force can be carried out against Americans even if they are not in the planning stages of an attack or if they are “associated” with terror organizations.  Just what he means by associated with is left up to his discretion alone.  Therefore, it is conceivable that an American citizen can be targeted for assassination by his government because he knows someone who is a member of a terrorist organization even though he may not share the views of his friend or the group to which he belongs.  The prospect is frightening and  horrifying.

If there is any doubt that these measures are designed for Muslims and Muslim Americans, that doubt should be erased just by a casual glimpse of those organizations deemed terrorist by the US government….an overwhelming majority of them are situated in the Middle East and most likely made of those who call themselves Muslim by faith.  That does not mean that the organization is driven by any Islamic ideals or philosophy, however, because of the many different groups the one area of the Middle East which has the most groups designated as a terrorist organization is Palestine with 8 followed by Iraq with five.  Clearly while these groups may be made up of Muslims they  exist to drive out what their members consider invaders or occupiers of their territory, or violators of their sovereignty.  Absent such a foreign influence it may be safe to assume these groups would blend into a normal political structure consistent with governments and politics the world over.

The other indication that Muslims have become targeted by this Administration in ways that exceed what Bush did is with the denial of return to American citizens living and working abroad, forced exile,  or those who may want to travel from America to other countries.  We’ve written extensively here at Miscellany101 about the pesky no-fly list since it was imposed on the American public.  Unfortunately, the Obama administration has chosen to expand upon no fly lists and means of denying travel  in ways that seem to point to it targeting specifically American Muslims.  This from the president who spent most of his first term weathering rumors that he himself was Muslim, now seemingly oppressing Muslims in order to exorcise the label from him. Fix this America!

 

 

 

The prevaricator called Karl Rove


I’m convinced this Karl Rove guy is not a very bright guy.  In a move that could only be labeled ‘the pot calling the kettle black’, Rove made this assertion about Obama

The fact of the matter is if the president continues to make this charge — this outrageous charge — that Mitt Romney is guilty of felonious activity and committed a felony, that’s a big mistake,” Rove opined. “This is gutter politics of the worst Chicago sort.

It doesn’t seem to matter to most people that Rove worked for perhaps the biggest criminal enterprise in modern time, the GWB administration or that he cut his political teeth working for the likes of the Nixon administration during its era of dirty tricks, something that Rove specialized in during his GWB tenure…Rove has always wallowed in the mire of innuendo and prevarication. If you want to know who this Rove guy is…or maybe isn’t…he is such a strange character it’s hard to tell which of the many faces he wears is really his, you can take a gander at some of his work here.

The one that gets me the most is the one with McCain.

After John McCain thumped George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary, with 48 percent of the vote to Bush’s 30 percent, a massive smear campaign was launched in South Carolina, a key battleground. TV attack ads from third groups and anonymous fliers circulated, variously suggesting that McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam left him mentally scarred with an uncontrollable temper, that his wife, Cindy, abused drugs and that he had an African-American “love child.  In fact, the McCains adopted their daughter Bridget from a Bangladesh orphanage run by Mother Teresa.

We all know what happened after that….Bush went on to win the SC primary with a double digit margin and eventually steal the election in 2000. However, resorting to the racist nature of America’s subconscious, Rove was able to pull out a victory for Bush in South Carolina.  I love the Palmetto state, but like my own and all of America, it’s got a problem when it comes to race, and Rove knew it and exploited it.  Why Rove is still able to get air time, after his very tawdry record, to spew his venom is beyond me…the man has no credibility at all.  A brief look at his record should be enough to make him a social outcast, the likes of Jesse Jackson, David Duke and many others, yet he continues to get face time  on the air.  We have FoxNews to thank for that, which is just one more of many  reasons to tune them out America.  That network has given Rove a home base from which to launch his false and misleading diatribes.  My reference to Rove, the pot, calling the kettle (the Obama administration and by extension Obama) black is meant to underscore his, mine and America’s obsession with and denial about race and how it keeps pushing us backwards.  Obama, with all his faults, and he has many America, was America moving forward, Rove is America at its worst.
So the next time you hear something attributed to Karl Rove, just remember who he is and where he has come from and what he’s done.  He should be as unpalatable a pundit as any you can name.  I wish Nancy Pelosi did have him arrested…..then the photo above would have real meaning.

America should NOT share interests with Israel


…not as long as Israel’s racist zionism is the cornerstone of its relationships with other countries in the world, and especially America.  Here’s why.  Suppose you are a faithful and conscientious employee for your boss and a client walks into the establishment where you work and upon knowing that your name is John Doe asks your boss not to have you deal with them because of your name and your ethnicity.  You have done nothing wrong; your boss has no problems with your work record; you are fully observant of the rules and regulations of your job in every way down to attire and grooming, but it’s just that sticky issue of your name and the color of your skin that irks your boss’ client, and your boss agrees with his rather racist customer that you shouldn’t deal with him and removes you from that task.  When you demand to know why it is you were not able to help the rather bigoted client you are further punished by having your salary reduced by 60% and learn that everyone else with your Anglo-saxon like name and complexion has been similarly treated.

That’s what happened to one Mohammed Arafi, pictured below,  who worked for the  Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC when an Israeli delegation came into town and stained the Nation’s capital with their discriminatory notions of doing business.  In their case, however, they didn’t want to be served by Muslims such as Mr. Arafi and told his employers as much. Of course, Mr. Arafi complained and as a result was even more disciplined by his employer. Surely it must have occurred to the Mandarin that it was breaking the law by acceding to the Israelis’ demands; however, they compounded an already bad situation by citing a national security directive from the State Department that seem to question Mr. Arafi’s security clearance and barred him from being around the Israelis.  Evidently the Israeli concern was not that Arafi was a physical danger to them, it was simply that he was Muslim……Arafi had been cleared to work around no less than a former President of the United States, George W. Bush  weeks prior to the Israelis coming to town.

As an American citizen, Arafi has a right to legal redress, which he pursued and thankfully it landed in the lap of US District Court judge Barbara J. Rothstein, who didn’t buy the line that Israel and America can discriminate against American citizens because of Israeli racism, nor did she accept the lame excuse that discrimination against Arafi was because of some made up national security issue, saying

the court determines that the national security exemption does not immunize Defendant (Mandarin Hotel)  from liability as to Plaintiff’s (Arafi) retaliation claim…….. Drawing all inferences in favor of Plaintiff, the court determines that Plaintiff has successfully alleged that he engaged in protected activity when he complained of discrimination…… the court determines that Plaintiff’s complaint advances sufficient facts to support his racial discrimination claim.

 

What’s troubling is that a foreign country’s delegation can insist that an American institution break American law to serve the interests of that foreign power, and what’s frightening is that many are all to willing to do so.  However this has become a pattern in US/Israel relations, where the US, a pluralistic society is asked to give up a lot more than a racialist society like Israel in order to maintain  relationships across a broad spectrum of activity.  Israel has a history of a blatant disregard for the human rights of Arabs and Muslims within its ever expanding borders and has brought that legacy to the shores of America where the likes of Mohamed Arafi are its victims. Luckily for him and us, there are still some in American institutions, like Judge Rothstein pictured above, who believe in the ideals of racial equality that are the antithesis of the Israeli model.  Whether Arafi will be successful in his law suit against his employer is not final yet and the ruling by judge Rothstein admittedly is both for and against the plaintiff but it’s a powerful statement to make that racism will not be imposed in the American workplace even by such a strident “ally” as Israel.

 

Gaddafi is dead


and this is all you need to know about that

A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, was found guilty of the bombing [of Pan Am flight 103] by a Scottish court in the Hague, his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, being acquitted. At long last there was going to be some kind of closure for the families.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong is that the evidence against Megrahi was stretched thin to the point of transparency. Indeed, the court verdict might be dubbed Supreme Court II [a reference to the Bush v. Gore decision that put George W. Bush in the White House], another instance of non-judicial factors clouding judicial reasoning.

The key charge against Megrahi — the sine qua non — is that he caused a suitcase with explosives to be loaded at Malta airport and tagged it so it would pass through Malta, Frankfurt and London airports without an accompanying passenger and without being detected.

That by itself would have been a major feat and so unlikely to happen that any terrorist with any common sense would have found a better way. But aside from anything else, we have this — as to the first step, loading the suitcase at Malta: there is no witness, no video, no document, no fingerprints, no forensic evidence of any kind linking Megrahi — or anyone else — to such an act.

And the court admits it: “The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 [Air Malta] is a major difficulty for the Crown case.”

in other words because of the political winds of the time, not evidence, Libya had to be implicated in an act of terror that they most likely had nothing to do with.  It’s important to keep in mind, as Robert Parry says,

As Americans turn to their news media to make sense of the upheavals in the Middle East, it’s worth remembering that the bias of the mainstream U.S. press corps is most powerful when covering a Washington-designated villain, especially if he happens to be Muslim.

The other thing you need to know about Gaddafi’s death is this tidbit from South Carolina US senator Lindsey Graham who said

Let’s get in on the ground. There is a lot of money to be made in the future in Libya. Lot of oil to be produced. Let’s get on the ground and help the Libyan people establish a democracy and a functioning economy based on free market principles.

I hope the Libyans see this guy coming before he gets there and hoodwinks them much like he has their counterparts here in America.

The Republican Refrain of Dissin’ the President


Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve written extensively here on Miscellany101 about how the GOP is the obstructionist/racist party of today’s America.  It’s really bad however when their partisanship interferes with their governance and what’s good for the public they say they serve.  Why anyone would  accept the declaration of their party’s titular head and one of its stalwarts that it wants to pursue a strategy to soil a sitting president’s term, even if it means pursuing goals that prove detrimental to the country is astonishing, to say the least.  Especially when this president, Obama, has  in cases of foreign policy, almost mirrored the stance taken by George Bush, in effect saving a lot of Bush appointees from the embarrassing specter of being tried for high crimes and misdemeanors, the Republican’s position is meant to humiliate Obama and the country too for electing him.

It’s particulary bad however when former conservatives call the GOP out on their racist tendencies, like this one here

So, Boehner, using the phony excuse that Congress wouldn’t be back in session until 6:30 p.m.—as Roger Simon points out Congress was technically never out of session, a move designed to keep Obama from making recess appointments—essentially did what Massa Rush said to do and he put the uppity Negro in his place.

There you have it, all you doubters about the motives of these guys.  Straight from the mouth of the de facto chairman of the Republican Party.  John Boehner put Obama “in his place.” The President of the United States got “smacked down,” as he “attempted to force his way to the front of the line.”

and no one blinks an eye.  But we’re not done……..

Democratic Governors Association Chair and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday that Republicans were opposed to any plan proposed by President Barack Obama that could lead to job creation.

“I firmly believe that Republicans in Congress, driven by a concerted group, have decided that it is not in their party’s political interest to have the president succeed at creating any jobs,” he said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “And I believe therefore they will do their very best to deny him any victories that could lead to job creation or a speedier recovery.”

“I don’t think there is another rational explanation for much of their opposition,” O’Malley added.

There’s is another explanation, and it lies in the comments of Limbaugh and his ditto heads. It’s about putting the black guy in his place.  The GOP has taken a decidedly antagonistic position in American politics…an ‘in your face’ approach to its opponents and the American people.  We vote for them…….we can NOT vote for them the next time they come up for reelection!

An update on the “American Taliban”


John Walker Lindh, the American who was taken prisoner by US forces in Afghanistan at the very beginning of the Afghan/Iraq war and his subsequent mistreatment both by the Bush Administration and corporate media, which marked the beginning of America’s decent into lawlessness and criminality has always had a stalwart defender in his father Frank Lindh.  The senior Lindh wrote a lengthy, detailed piece for The Guardian newspaper earlier this summer  asserting his son’s  innocence against the charges of terrorism leveled by Bush’s justice department and proclaiming that the son, John met bin laden at some point BEFORE 911 but wasn’t impressed with him and felt no desire to do whatever it was bin laden wanted done in the way of terror.  He also says John was in Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance who at one point was even at odds with the Bush Administration, the implication being Lindh was doing America’s dirty work in fighting the NA until 911 happened.  Below is an excerpt; the entire article is linked above

As they moved among the prisoners, they singled out captives for interrogation. They never identified themselves as American agents, and so they appeared to John and the other prisoners to be mercenaries working directly for General Dostum.

John was spotted and removed from the body of prisoners for questioning. The moment was recorded on video and later seen by millions on television.

In the video, John sits mutely on the ground as he is questioned about his nationality.

“Irish? Ireland?” Spann asks.

John remains silent.

“Who brought you here?… You believe in what you are doing that much, you’re willing to be killed here?”

Still no reply.

Tyson to Spann [for John’s benefit]: “The problem is, he’s got to decide if he wants to live or die, and die here. We’re just going to leave him, and he’s going to [expletive] sit in prison the rest of his [expletive] short life. It’s his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.”

I think it was apparent that Spann and Tyson were American agents, but because they were in the company of Dostum’s forces, unaccompanied by American troops, it clearly was not safe for John to talk to them. They meant business when they said John might be killed by Dostum, and that the Red Cross could only “help so many guys”. John was in extreme peril at that moment, and he knew it.

John was then returned to the main body of prisoners, while others were still being brought out of the basement and forced to kneel in the horse pasture. Then, there was an explosion at the entrance to the basement, shouts were heard, and two prisoners grabbed the guards’ weapons. According to Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s account: “It was then… that Spann ‘did a Rambo’. As the remaining guards ran away, Spann flung himself to the ground and began raking the courtyard and its prisoners with automatic fire. Five or six prisoners jumped on him, and he disappeared beneath a heap of bodies.”

Spann’s body was later recovered by US special forces troops. He was the first American to die in combat in the American–Afghan war. He was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.

There were two groups of Taliban prisoners in the fortress: those who chose to fight and those who hunkered down in the basement of the pink building and tried to survive. John was in the latter group.

By Wednesday, the last of the resisting Taliban fighters had been killed, and Dostum’s soldiers were once again in full control of the fortress. Luke Harding was allowed into the compound along with some other journalists, and he found a horrific scene: “We had expected slaughter, but I was unprepared for its hellish scale… It was hard to take it all in. The dead and various parts of the dead… turned up wherever you looked: in thickets of willows and poplars; in waterlogged ditches; in storage rooms piled with ammunition boxes.” Harding observed that many of the Taliban prisoners had died with their hands tied behind their backs.

On Saturday 1 December, the Red Cross arrived at the fortress and the survivors, who for several days had been trying to surrender, were finally allowed to exit the basement. When they emerged into the bright sunlight, they encountered a confusing horde of journalists, Red Cross workers, Dostum’s soldiers, and British and American troops.

That evening John and the other survivors were taken to a prison hospital in Sheberghan. Although wet and cold from the flooding of the basement, they were transported in open bed trucks in the frigid night air. At Sheberghan, John was carried on a stretcher and set down in a small room with approximately 15 other prisoners. CNN correspondent Robert Pelton came in accompanied by a US special forces soldier and a cameraman. Despite John’s protests, Pelton persisted in filming John and asking questions as an American medical officer administered morphine intravenously. By the time he departed a short time later, Pelton had captured on videotape an interview in which John said that his “heart had become attached” to the Taliban, that every Muslim aspired to become a shahid, or martyr, and that he had attended a training camp funded by Osama bin Laden.

The CNN interview became a sensation in the US. By mid-December, virtually every newspaper in America was running front-page stories about the American Taliban, and the broadcast media were saturated with features and commentary about John. Here was a “traitor” who had “fought against America” and aligned himself with the 11 September terrorists. Newsweek magazine published an issue with John’s photograph on the cover, under the caption “American Taliban”.

Beginning in early December, President Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, members of the cabinet and other officials then embarked on a series of truly extraordinary public statements about John, referring to him repeatedly as an “al-Qaida fighter”, a terrorist and a traitor. I think it fair to say there has never been a case quite like this in the history of the US, in which officials at the highest levels of the government made such prejudicial statements about an individual citizen who had not yet been charged with any crime.

I will offer only a small sample of these statements. In an interview at the White House on 21 December 2001, President Bush said John was “the first American al-Qaida fighter that we have captured”. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence, told reporters at a press briefing that John had been “captured by US forces with an AK-47 in his hands”. Colin Powell, secretary of state, said John had “brought shame upon his family”. Rudy Giuliani, New York mayor, remarked: “I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider.”

John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, staged two televised press conferences in which he accused John of attacking the US. “Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans,” he declared.

A federal judge took the unusual step of writing to the New York Times criticising the attorney general for violating “Justice Department guidelines on the release of information related to criminal proceedings that are intended to ensure that a defendant is not prejudiced when such an announcement is made”.

Even the ultra-conservative National Review thought Ashcroft had gone too far in making such prejudicial comments about a pending prosecution. It criticised the comments as “inappropriate” and “gratuitous”, stating that in the future “it would be better for the attorney general simply to announce the facts of the indictments, and to avoid extra comments which might unintentionally imperil successful prosecutions”.

Once John was in the custody of the US military, the US government had to decide what to do with him. The FBI has estimated that during the 90s as many as 2,000 American citizens travelled to Muslim lands to take up arms voluntarily, and that as many as 400 American Muslims received training in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. None of these American citizens was indicted, or labelled as traitor and terrorist. They were simply ignored by their government, which made no attempt to interfere with their travel. But the 9/11 attacks changed everything, and it was the timing of John’s capture that contributed to his fate. It soon became apparent to me that, rather than simply repatriate my wounded son, the government was intent on prosecuting him as a “terrorist”.

In the days and weeks that followed, John endured abuse from the US military that exceeded the bounds of what any civilised nation should tolerate, even in time of war. Donald Rumsfeld directly ordered the military to “take the gloves off” in questioning John.

On 7 December, wounded and still suffering from the effects of the trauma at Qala-i-Jangi, John was flown to Camp Rhino, a US marine base approximately 70 miles south of Kandahar. There he was taunted and threatened, stripped of his clothing, and bound naked to a stretcher with duct tape wrapped around his chest, arms, and ankles. Even before he got to Camp Rhino, John’s wrists and ankles were bound with plastic restraints that caused severe pain and left permanent scars – sure proof of torture. Still blindfolded, he was locked in an unheated metal shipping container that sat on the desert floor. He shivered uncontrollably in the bitter cold. Soldiers outside pounded on the sides, threatening to kill him.

In June 2002, Newsweek obtained copies of internal email messages from the justice department’s ethics office commenting on the Lindh case as the events were unfolding in December 2001. The office specifically warned in advance against the interrogation tactics the FBI used at Camp Rhino, and concluded that the interrogation of John without his lawyer present would be unlawful and unethical. This advice was ignored by the FBI agent who conducted the interrogation.

Interestingly, in an 10 December email, one of the justice department ethics lawyers noted: “At present, we have no knowledge that he did anything other than join the Taliban.”

John’s lawyers filed a motion to “suppress” the statements that had been extracted him under duress at Camp Rhino. A hearing was scheduled in July 2001, which would have included testimony by John and others about the brutality he had suffered at the hands of US soldiers. On the eve of the hearing, the government prosecutors approached John’s attorneys and negotiated a plea agreement. It was apparent they did not want evidence of John’s torture to be introduced in court.

In the plea agreement John acknowledged that by serving as a soldier in Afghanistan he had violated the anti-Taliban economic sanctions imposed by President Clinton and extended by President Bush. This was, as John’s lawyer pointed out, a “regulatory infraction”. John also agreed to a “weapons charge”, which was used to enhance his prison sentence. In particular, he acknowledged that he had carried a rifle and two grenades while serving as a soldier in the Taliban army. All of the other counts in the indictment were dropped by the government, including the terrorism charges the attorney general had so strongly emphasised and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Mike Spann.

At the insistence of defence secretary Rumsfeld, the plea agreement also included a clause in which John relinquished his claims of torture.

The punishment in the plea agreement was by any measure harsh: 20 years of imprisonment, commencing on 1 December 2001, the day John came into the hands of US forces in Afghanistan. The prosecutors told John’s attorneys that the White House insisted on the lengthy sentence, and that they could not negotiate downward.

On 4 October 2002, the judge approved the plea agreement as “just and reasonable” and sentenced John to prison. Before the sentence was pronounced, John was allowed to read a prepared statement, which provided a moment of intense drama in the crowded courtroom. He spoke with strong emotion. He explained why he had gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban in their fight with the Northern Alliance, saying it arose from his compassion for the suffering of ordinary people who had been subjected to atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance. He explained that when he went to Afghanistan he “saw the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance as a continuation of the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets”.

John strongly condemned terrorism. “I went to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting against terrorism and oppression.” He had acted, he said, out of a sense of religious duty and he condemned terrorism as being “completely against Islam”. He said: “I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.”

After a brief recess, the judge granted a request by John Spann, the father of Mike Spann, to address the court and express his dissatisfaction with the plea agreement. He began by saying that he, his family, and many other people believed that John had played a role in the killing of Mike Spann. Judge Ellis interrupted and said: “Let me be clear about that. The government has no evidence of that.” Spann responded: “I understand.” The judge politely explained that the “suspicions, the inferences you draw from the facts are not enough to warrant a jury conviction”. He said that Mike Spann had died a hero, and that among the things he died for was the principle that “we don’t convict people in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Osama bin Laden is dead. John Lindh, now 30 years old, remains in prison. He spends most of his time pursuing his study of the Qur’an and Islamic scholarship. He also reads widely in a variety of nonfiction subjects, especially history and politics. He remains a devout Muslim.

Another What if post


What if this headline were displayed across newspapers and magazines across the country

A little-known movement of radical Muslims and self-proclaimed prophets wants to infiltrate government, and (pick the candidate of your choice) might be their man.

Well such a headline was written about presidential hopeful Rick Perry and it hasn’t elicited very much conversation, much less outrage in political circles which leads me to wonder whether Perry has been “chosen” by the political elite to be the next president?  If so, that would spell disaster for America on a scale similar to the one we faced after the Bush II presidency four years ago.  More on that later.

Perry has come out identifying himself as an avowed Christian, and while that’s admirable, there’s nothing Christ like about his actions or beliefs as they pertain to the citizens of his state or to this Republic.  Perry has attached his political ambitions to a group called the New Apostolic Reformation which believes among other things

they have a direct line to God. Through them, they say, He communicates specific instructions and warnings. When mankind fails to heed the prophecies, the results can be catastrophic: earthquakes in Japan, terrorist attacks in New York, and economic collapse.

Some consider Freemasonry a “demonic stronghold” tantamount to witchcraft. The Democratic Party, one prominent member believes, is controlled by Jezebel and three lesser demons. Some prophets even claim to have seen demons at public meetings. They’ve taken biblical literalism to an extreme.

… what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take “dominion” over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the “Seven Mountains” of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an “army of God” to commandeer civilian government.

It’s not that we haven’t seen this coming from Perry and his coreligionists.  His national day of prayer and fasting, which we wrote about here should have set off all kinds of alarm bells in print and electronic media but it didn’t. Neither did all of the negative headlines outlining Texas’ shortcomings, which some could say mirror what’s happening on the national level that has inspired Perry to run for election.  So what were some of those other headlines?

For all the controversy over the national debt ceiling, here’s a surprise: Since 2001, the debt load in conservative Texas has grown faster than the federal debt.

Gov. Rick Perry’s……. state’s unemployment rate is the worst in nearly a quarter century.  Despite being one of the loudest critics of President Obama’s stimulus, Perry used billions of dollars of federal money to patch Texas’ budget shortfalls, and was thus able to create and maintain lots and lots of public sector jobs. In fact, if you look at net job creation between 2007 and 2010, it’s clear the only thing keeping Texas buoyant was government jobs.

….Texas now ranks dead last among the 50 states in the percentage of adults who have a high school degree.  That’s down from 38th in 1990.

and those are just for starters.  Perry made remarks about the Federal Reserve chairman which bordered on the insane and caused members of his own party to call him out on them. Yet despite all this, Perry still is considered a legitimate candidate by the public and the media  for the GOP over far more reasonable, legitimate, responsible  and presidential candidates, like Ron Paul, Mitt Romney or  Jon Huntsman.  The fact that anyone considers him legit is a scary reflection of the state of American politics.  Riding the wave of the Tea Party movement that has attracted the total fringe of the conservative movement, Perry’s run for president and his widespread acceptance is a terrible harbinger of what’s to come for America and you needn’t be a member of the New Apostolic Reformation to see that!

 

 

Is this really news?


“We Were a Stalin-esque Mouthpiece for Bush” – fox News Insider

EVERYONE has known for ages that FoxNews is not news but propaganda and most well informed people have been saying that for sometime.  The insider with this latest info on FoxNews claims they were a Bush propaganda machine, but in reality they are more of a strident conservative, nationalist, tea party branch of the Republican party that has all but left behind the GWBush era and in the process forgotten history as well.

Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, virtually every news story is actively spun by the staff, its primary goal is to prop up Republicans and knock down Democrats, and that staffers at Fox News routinely operate without the slightest regard for fairness or fact checking.

“It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats,” says the source. “They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news.”

over time Fox News stopped simply leaning to the right and instead became an open and active political player, sort of one-part character assassin and one-part propagandist, depending on which party was in power. And that the operation thrives on fabrications and falsehoods.

For the first few years it was let’s take the conservative take on things. And then after a few years it evolved into, well it’s not just the conservative take on things, we’re going to take the Republican take on things which is not necessarily in lock step with the conservative point of view.

“And then two, three, five years into that it was, we’re taking the Bush line on things, which was different than the GOP. We were a Stalin-esque mouthpiece.  It was just what Bush says goes on our channel. And by that point it was just totally dangerous.  Hopefully most people understand how dangerous it is for a media outfit to be a straight, unfiltered mouthpiece for an unchecked president.”

“It was a kick ass mentality too,” says the former Fox News insider. “It was relentless and it never went away. If one controversy faded, goddamn it they would find another one. They were in search of these points of friction real or imagined. And most of them were imagined or fabricated. You always have to seem to be under siege. You always have to seem like your values are under attack. The brain trust just knew instinctively which stories to do, like the War on Christmas.”

 

….or like Obama is a secret Muslim, or Shariah wants to take over American law, or the Muslim Brotherhood is an arm of al-Qaida and must be stopped at all costs…..and on and on it goes.  A constant stream of lies and fear mongering designed to influence public policy and make way for the demagogues of the Republican party who have broken off and become the Tea Party. Fox has taken over the role of Hollywood, fashioning a tale about America and her leaders that has no basis in fact, a dream merchant or rather a nightmare merchant intent on scaring and pitting one segment of American society against another.  However, because the news is presented by people who are pretty and in effect look like us who give us harrowing tales about people who look different from us it is very possible to believe what are in essence lies.  In our Nation’s history, media has always played a part in being a tool for government in order to enslave foreign peoples and take their resources as well as enact laws that restrict the freedoms and liberties  of its own citizens.  This is FoxNews’ role the fact that another person who should know has come out and said as such while an incredulous public looks on from the sidelines means the spell FoxNews has on the public is still in place and working.

Stick and Carrot diplomacy


The wingnut “right” does have a place in American politics.  If one is perceptive enough you can vaguely see an outline of the foreign policy objectives of Washington spewing from the mouthpieces of right wing pundits/racists. Despite the apparent “hate” relationship between the present occupant of the White House and those on the vociferous “right” the pundits of insanity, plunder and racism give government an idea of just how far it, government, can go in its never ending battle for empire and dominion. It is not necessary for diplomacy or policy to be carried out in just the same way the racist homo/Islamophobes express but it probably comes close.  Case in point, Sean Hannity’s latest imperialistic diatribe.

With rising gas prices and a stagnant economy, Hannity’s solution of taking over another country’s natural resources because we can most likely strikes a chord in the minds of many a besieged listener who wants to settle scores with the Islamic/Muslim hordes they’ve so assiduously been warned about this last decade.  Current Washington probably has entertained the same ideas while former Bush administration officials said as much when making their case for war with Iraq.  The Obama administration on the other hand, supposedly carries a carrot not a stick, unlike its predecessor.  It must have the appearance of  remaining true to the kinder, gentler prescription for diplomacy, hence this from the Secretary of State, Clinton.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a scalding critique of Arab leaders here on Thursday, saying their countries risked “sinking into the sand” of unrest and extremism unless they liberalized their political systems and cleaned up their economies.

Speaking at a conference in this gleaming Persian Gulf emirate, Mrs. Clinton recited a familiar litany of ills: corruption, repression and a lack of rights for women and religious minorities. But her remarks were striking for their vehemence, and they suggested a frustration that the Obama administration’s message to the Arab world had not gotten through.

Secretary Clinton, taking a page from the wingnuts, makes many in the Middle East who are victims the cause of their victimization.  Lest one forget, there were no WMDs in Iraq which was invaded after a decade long blockade that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; Gaza is an outdoor prison camp, with the West Bank merely an enclave within the modern state of Israel with no territorial sovereignty or integrity and the second largest recipient of US aid is a 30 year long dictatorship.  Notice the tone of the above article.  Words like “vehemence” and “frustration” are designed to send signals that unless things change diplomacy may give way to something harsher.  Let’s not forget that in the 80s Saddam Hussein was Washington’s leader of choice for Iraq, but only 20 years later encouraged and cheered on his execution.  That shouldn’t be lost on the leaders of oil producing countries that serve an insatiable American public the oil which fuels the American economy.  Hannity’s arrogant bluster and frustration regrettably is probably  an outline for future American policy.

Where’s the waterboard?


I’m against waterboarding because I believe it’s illegal, but many on the right clamored for it when we were fighting our war on terror against people with Arabic names who, it was said, posed a threat to our Republic.  The waterboard, that instrument of death, was pointed to as something needed to extract information from even the most diehard terrorist in order to save lives.  When it was presented in those stark terms even some “progressives” demurred in their protests afraid they would be seen as anti-American, traitors or worse, threats themselves and singled out for persecution.  (Regrettably, the latter  may have happened a time or two.)  It didn’t matter that America was a signatory to a law that said we were against torture and would prosecute anyone who committed it, we were told waterboarding was necessary.

After the latest assault on a sitting member of Congress and the murder of a federal judge at the hands of an assassin who resembles a skinhead in all appearances and who had made references to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, there comes news that another congressman has received ominious  threats from places unknown, raising the specter that more death and destruction might be visited on members of Congress.  How can we stop what looks like certain carnage?  Waterboarding and profiling are two solutions offered up by those on the right when they spoke of Muslims and jihadists who were threats to the American way of life and yet not once, except on the pages of Miscellany101 have these tools not too long ago embraced by many Americans, been mention in the latest discourse.  Unfortunately, neither has the matter of whether what Loughner commited is terrorism been discussed much in the media and for obvious reasons.

Terrorists can’t be white, non-Muslims and waterboarding or profiling (racial profiling) can’t be applied to them because it obscures the debate about what’s good and what’s bad for America.  White crime is tolerated and ostensibly good for America…we can build case law around it, institutionalize it and put people to work combating it yet maintain a civil society, or so it seems.  Terrorism many on the right maintain is the purveyor of dark skinned or Muslim people who  threaten  our very civilization and we must fight them by any means necessary, even illegal means that we visit upon them and sometimes ourselves. We have bemoaned that double standard time and time again here on Miscellany101. The right seems to relish, embrace it and heap scorn on those who point it out.

The “wingnuts” on the right have for the past decade managed to escape responsibility for any miscalculations on the political stage.  The WMD fiasco was dismissed because Saddam was a bad guy and we needed to get rid of him anyway, the encroachment on our civil liberties was proposed because it’s government’s job to take care of us, during the administration of Bush, and during Obama because liberals elected him into office and he is a socialist and that’s what socialists do.  The spiteful and intemperate political rhetoric is necessary because it’s a “war” of ideas and too the hearts and minds of the people.  It seems every excuse is made that absolves the right from any responsibility for any misfortune that has occurred over the past decade even though they were the party in power for over half the time.

Now comes the political assassination in Tuscon, Arizona right after the virulent election campaigning of 2010 where the political opposition rode on the backs of people who believe in conspiracy theories that rival those concocted after 911.  This murder didn’t come in a vacuum; it was sparked by a constant barrage of speech that equated a democratically elected  political party  with the equally repugnant foe of terrorists, jihadists and Muslims; some even calling the President a secret Muslim, whose goal is to promote a socialist agenda.  It was against these policies that the right was shaped and the makers of these policies were the focal point of everyone’s  rage.  Loughner who it was claimed by neighbors/friends targeted Congresswoman Giffords wasn’t the only one.  Byron Williams who had a shootout with authorities after planning acts of violence against the ACLU, a favorite target of the right and the Tides Foundation, said he wanted to spark a civil war and he pointed to a radio head pundit as being a primary source of his information and motivation.   Yet the right, the more vocal among them, claim no responsibility for this violent swing in politics even while others among them are asking for de-escalation in the rhetoric. Fat chance.

This is the group that claims when it comes to their enemies that everyone of them is responsible for the crimes committed by one of them; that the idea of collective punishment, something practiced by the Israelis against Palestinians, is a legitimate way of dealing with a threat, not just the kind that a Loughner, or a Williams or the unknown assailant threatening Congressman Renny Davis pose.  So there will be no talk of waterboarding anyone to get information from them about the impending murder of another Congressman, now will there be calls for profiling white males who look like Loughner, or Williams and we won’t hear not one suggestion that the motivating factors behind their rage be investigated  or asked to condemn their murderous impulses because in almost every case they, these perpetrators of terrorism against the homeland are just like the pundits and politicians who use these acts of government coercion on others.  That is the story of America and her injustices and it will plague us for as long as we continue to ignore it.

 

Religious Fundamentalists in the military at it again


The dangers of an active military command structure pushing a fundamentalist religious doctrine upon its soldiers and the rest of the public are obvious and incendiary.   Imagine if you can a group of Muslim imams first conducting a spiritual fitness survey to determine someone’s eligibility to serve  or otherwise flag that individual with regard to his/her value to the military.  Such a revelation would be enough to cause a revolution within the country and it is such a notion many within the birther community think will happen under Obama.  The exact opposite has happened, with the Obama administration like its predecessor Bush falling under sway of the fundamentalist Christian influence within the military.  Many people of that religious persuasion believe in an apocalyptic version of history that has America engaging in a war to end all wars in order to foster the return of Christ Jesus. Of course for anyone in the military to put forward such an ideology is self-serving to say the least if not dangerous for the country and the world. So news that some in the military are evaluating the spiritual fitness of other soldiers is troubling. Even more troubling is the person who made this survey is responsible for the CIA’s torture program.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation learned in December that soldiers were being asked to respond to statements such as “I am a spiritual person” and “I believe there is a purpose for my life.”

If soldiers received a low score on their spiritual fitness questions, they received an assessment that said “Spiritual fitness is an area of possible difficulty for you. … Improving your spiritual fitness should be an important goal.”…..

 

 

Israel brings its racism to America’s shores


A pox on both the American and Israeli houses really for accepting the Israeli condition that no Muslim workers employed at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington,DC  be allowed to assume their regular responsibilities while an Israeli delegation roomed there earlier this month.  The regime in Israel is quite clearly racist in its attitude towards Arabs and especially Palestinians, of any religious persuasion it should be noted, but the fact that America has bankrolled Israel and legimitized it’s racism with huge amounts of cash….subsidizes it’s racism would be a more accurate depiction, does not mean that such overt racism should be accepted towards Americans here in America.  The fact that it is reveals just how deep and intrinsic racism still is in America.  No manager of any hotel chain should have passed along the demand that a co-worker would not be allowed to perform his jobs because of ethnic or racial prejudice but not only was a Mandarin Oriental hotel manager able to give that command with a straight face  but then used it against Muslim employees as a form of racial harassment and intimidation.  While America may not be able to get at an Israeli delegation for their racism, job place racism in America  is illegal, and all involved at the Mandarin should be fired.

But it shouldn’t stop there.  It’s clear Israel has a willing partner in the Mandarin with its racism, so any and all who oppose racism and bigotry should refrain from booking or using the Mandarin Oriental chain any further, or as long as it hosts luminaries like the Israelis who make illegal demands on the establishment.  If the Mandarin isn’t willing to send a clear signal to the Israelis that it won’t tolerate its racist practices, then the public, companies and corporations should in no uncertain terms, let it be known it will not tolerate the bastardization of American law with Israel’s mythology. And less you think it was all about security as the smokescreen that’s now being erected points too, one of the Muslims told not to do t heir job, previously worked in and around the President of the United States, George Bush.  Are the Israelis better than him, or more worthy of protection?

And finally, I get a kick out of how people who manage to escape the arrows of racism feel comfortable somehow that they are not an intended target.  If a group from Saudi Arabia were to demand that no Jewish employees of any hotel, mall or hospital come into contact with Saudi royalty there would be banner headlines bigger than ones Miscellany101 could generate here demanding federal government reprisals against a client state so outrageous in its demands while pocketing billions of dollars in US  military hardware and largess.  No such hue and cry has risen in this case.   Racism is like cancer, once it starts in one part of the body, left unchecked it affects all of the body devouring its host quickly and methodically.  The purveyors of racism are equally methodical.  So the next several times when the Israelis come to town and make their racist demands about Muslims and non-Muslims feel smug that such things won’t be said to or about them, remember the cancer analogy for it won’t be long when an Israeli team will come to town and demand only Jewish employees of this or that place establishment be allowed to work with them, and what will we do then?   Boycott the Mandarin Oriental hotel chain all good people of faith and citizenship.

 

Waterboarding and George Bush


Waterboarding is criminal behavior and and the US government has ratified no less than three international treaties that say so, obligating its lawmakers to prosecute any American citizen who engages in such activity AND it’s torture. So why is George Bush saying it isn’t, and hiding behind the UK to justify it? Perhaps he doesn’t fear prosecution any longer after sweeping Republican gains in this month’s elections or maybe he just doesn’t care. His indifference leaves an indelible stain on the reputation of the country he once led.

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Now just what is waterboarding? Listen to this guy tell what it is. He should know!

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