Thursday, December 22, 2011


There is no proper farewell that can be said to the people of Iraq that would not announce reparations, that would not include expressions of remorse, along with an admission of crimes committed and wrongs done by the US military. President Obama's official ceremonies marking the end of the war were occasions for broad smiles and declarations of unqualified success.

What was begun with bravado and a disregard for the deaths and suffering of Iraqi civilians, has ended with the same superficial rhetoric, the same military preening, the same myths, the same contrived proofs to justify the war and its horrible toll of torture, grief, maiming and killing.  Perhaps a permanent war economy is what Obama and the US Generals meant by using the word, success.

This kind of war spreads beyond Iraq, with constant adaptations and a fluid concept of enemy; with its battlefield declared to exist almost anywhere, including our own country; and this is what has made possible the militarization of our whole society.  The legacies of our presidents are intrinsically arranged by making war and have their origins in violence.  Neither George W. Bush nor the current president, Obama, is to be satisfied with the destruction of one foreign country only, or the deaths of thousands upon thousand of innocents, or the bombing into rubble of works built by the labor of generations. And governments are their targets: some of these are changed, others erased. And the societies are ordered to conform, or else face chaos and disintegration.

The horror of Fallujah doesn't bother "no shock" Obama, as it didn't bother Bush; not the dogs howling during the attack, nor the smell of death saturating the city, a place described after the siege as "a city of ghosts". Bedridden invalids, white-haired husbands and wives, were shot to death in their beds. Families were machine gunned while trying to swim to safety. Boys were denied the opportunity to flee the city with their parents because, for the sake of revenge, the Americans had marked them for death; and one of the young ones was photographed dead, lying face up on the sidewalk, still clutching in his right hand the white handkerchief, with which he tried to surrender.

These wrongs to which we are all answerable cannot be evaded, they cannot be covered over with bluster or national piety; and we remain responsible for holding our leaders responsible.

Chris Floyd is eloquent as he writes about this, and comes directly to the point:
[President Obama] spoke of suffering, he spoke of sacrifice, he spoke of loss and enduring pain -- but only for the Americans involved in the unprovoked war of aggression, and their families. He did not say a single word -- not one -- about the thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of Iraqis killed by this "fulfilled mission," this "extraordinary achievement," this" success." These human beings -- these sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, kinfolk, lovers, friends -- cannot be acknowledged. They cannot be perceived. It must be as if they had never existed. It must be as if they are not dead now.

The divorce from reality here is beyond description. It is only the all-pervasiveness of the disassociation that obscures its utter and obvious insanity. There is something intensely primitive and infantile in the reductive, navel-gazing, self-blinding monomania of the American psyche today. Think of the ancient Greeks, who constructed their psyches and their worldview around an epic poem, the Iliad, that depicted their enemies, the Trojans, with remarkable sympathy, understanding and insight -- while depicting their own leaders as a band of shallow, squabbling, murderous fools. Here was a moral sophistication, a cold-eyed grasp of reality -- and a level of empathy for one's fellow human beings -- far beyond the capacity of modern American society, and infinitely beyond the reach of the murderous fools who seek to lead it.
Democracy and empire cannot coexist. By the time the plutocrats took control of Ancient Rome, they too had stopped paying taxes, and destroyed the republic in pursuit of their selfish aims. They too were intoxicated with the plunder, the profits of military exploits, the pure rapine, the sights of destruction and submission in the Colosseum , the lust of the eye. In the 21st Century, the financial terrorism we are seeing is about constructing obedient and submissive subjects; and it, too, is war waged by other means. This financial malevolence is not only tolerated by our political class but also facilitated by them, because they are willing to sell their services and betray the people. They and their masters have no moral compunctions; and will not hesitate to use war, state terrorism, and financial anarchy, to make slaves of the rest of us.

Our country failed in Iraq. Our leaders told lies about the reasons for going to war. And we were defeated in Iraq because we fell into depravity in that country. And to not be clear in our minds about that war's depravity, is both unacceptable and dangerous, because it invites a deeper defeat.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich sounded alarms last week, concerning the National Defense Authorization Act that passed through Congress, and was handed to President Obama, to sign into law:
This bill authorizes permanent warfare anywhere in the world. It gives the president unchecked power to pursue war. It diminishes the role of this Congress. The founders saw Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which places in the hands of Congress the war power, as essential to a check and balance against the executive abuse of power. This legislation diminishes Congress’ role in that regard.
This legislation authorizes the military to indefinitely detain individuals without charge or trial, including the detention of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. In short, what this bill does is it takes a wrecking ball to the United States Constitution and gives enormous power to the government or the state. I want friends on both sides of the aisle to understand this; we are giving the state more power over individuals with this bill. It’s the wrong direction.
Our children deserve a world without end, not war without end.

Friday, December 16, 2011


"The evil men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." --Julius Caesar

Hitchens could, even near the end of his life, write an essay about Lincoln, that did not bear any of the affectation of his public performances. After 9/11 he went nuts and lost his bearings, in a kind of anti-fundamentalist fundamentalism; but in his time he spoke with some eloquence and wit against Reagan and all his works, against the murderous reign of the death squads, against Kissinger. This does not mitigate the sense of loss about his deterioration in the public square; yet it seems to me that he was once a comrade against authoritarian madness, and fought against injustice in his own fashion. How Hitchens fell into justifying the Iraq War and the Islamophobic worldview, is perhaps explained in terms of a nervous breakdown. I don't know; but it seems such an incomprehensible departure from what once issued as reason from him.

What has been said about his vanity and ego is probably true, along with the dogfight-like debates, which were by no means the best of him. I remember reading his essays many years ago, and thinking that he was a good man to have in our corner.

His personal friend, Robert Scheer, writes of Christopher Hitchens:

Despite the vehemence of our debates, both public and personal, he and his saving grace and wife, Carol Blue, held a gathering at their home to discuss a book I wrote on the subject. This was a man unafraid of intellectual challenge and committed to pursuing the heart of the matter. 
 That was his driving force, a seeker of truth to the end, and a deservedly legendary witness against the hypocrisy of the ever-sanctimonious establishment. What zeal this man had to eviscerate the conceits of the powerful, whether their authority derived from wealth, the state or a claim to the ear of the divine. 
 Hitch was the opposite of the opportunistic pundits who competed with him for public space. He took immense risks, not the least in offering himself for waterboarding before concluding it was unmistakably torture, or challenging the greatness of God, knowing full well that he was exposing himself as an object of wildly irrational hate.

To watch the kind of dissipation Hitchens went through is painful, with his former self blurring in the process.  There was too much drinking, too much grandstanding, too much desire to play the enfant terrible of the Left. Who can occupy such a personal space of ego while our history every day grows sicker? But it is my instinct to feel sad for him, for the fall any human being may suffer, to remember his acts of personal courage, and his talent which once counted for something.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Some disappointed supporters of President Obama have come right up to the edge of disowning the president; but have pulled back from the brink to reconstruct support for him, because they think the alternative is worse. There are other ways I could express this dilemma; but it will probably be for the best, insofar as the best is also appalling, when the Obama team is out of the White House.

Chris Hedges has expressed our problem more elegantly; but the political system is so compromised, especially at the national level of presidential elections, that the candidates of either party are pre-screened and vetted by the corporate powers that run this country. Obama is pliable alright and almost perfectly malleable; but not by us, the people.

The republican suits, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, will fit the bill in their own way, and express the same malleability if they are nominated and elected. But our improvement as a nation lies elsewhere. Our dooms, the ones that are threatening us, are multi-headed to be sure; but there is more people power or constructive energy on the streets of New York, in the Occupy Movement. Our answers and the torch of activism is firmly placed in the hands of the young generation and those who can lend a hand to them.

 The re-election of Obama--if possible-- is a muddle, a waste of time, and a complete political train wreck.

 For the Democratic Party (if it can be salvaged) it is far more important for it to survive President Obama, than to become entangled in his re-election. This Obama administration's corruption, its failure to prosecute criminals, and its coziness with the corrupt elements of this society, are all things that will bury us deeper in the muddle we are already in.

Mitt gave a scary speech a couple of weeks ago, in front of some kids in uniform. It was all about our American religion of being the biggest hombre among nations, strutting our stuff forever, as we have every right to do, adopting as our holy writ, the notion that no nation or group of nations, should ever be allowed to grow so powerful as to even balance us. And this, of course, is the death head's dogma that leads directly to Apocalypse.

 But Obama, whose administration now has its tarry fingerprints all over the Keystone Pipeline, has shown with equal and dreadful portent where our dooms gather and how they grow. The president withdraws from Iraq, since it is a dead loss, and squares off toward bloodier patches in Pakistan, flailing away in Afghanistan, menacing Iran, pacifying Libya into a failed state or a broiling civil war.

The US foreign policy is the same, the underlying belief system is the same, no matter the party in the White House. And if we as citizens keep churning up the same hopeless Faustian bargain, we are lost. The forces in our country of environmental destruction, economic war waged against us, and runaway militarism and aggression are sure to destroy us; if we don't help change this country in a fundamental way.

 It's time that we join hands and go on to organize.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


"This deal trades peoples' livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it".  -- Rep. Raul Grajalva of Arizona
The sideshow of panic and hysteria is over now. The ratcheting up of high drama over a US Government debt default, that was never going to happen, has achieved its intended effect. Wall Street has what it wants. Obama has broken with the Franklin Roosevelt legacy; he is the first Democratic president to offer up the sacrifice, a chipping away at Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The country's owners are smiling now, as its lickspittles in Congress cobble together a consolidated committee, composed of 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats drawn from the House and Senate, to be a kind of political ramrod that will authorize draconian budget cuts, one way or another. The rigged process of this commissar committee, which represents both political parties, will present Congress with decisions which cannot be debated or amended in the normal way before becoming law.

The new commissar committee will also contain a novelty called "a trigger".  This substitutes severe pre-configured budget cuts, in the event that the committee can't reach compromise; and the effect is to keep a sword dangling over the special interests of each party; theoretically these would be armaments or defense funds for the Republicans, and social programs dear to the Democrats.

And the Pentagon got $50 billion up front, as a door prize.

As emotions kept on building, Paul Craig Roberts, Reagan's former Assistant Treasury Secretary, warned that the crisis was an artificial one:
The US government will never default on its bonds, because the bonds, unlike those of Greece, Spain, and Ireland, are payable in its own currency. Regardless of whether the debt ceiling is raised, the Federal Reserve will continue to purchase the Treasury’s debt.  If Goldman Sachs is too big to fail, then so is the US government.
There is no budget focus on the illegal wars and military occupations that the US government has underway in at least six countries or the 66-year old US occupations of Japan and Germany and the ring of military bases being constructed around Russia. [...]  
In contrast, Social Security is solvent.  Medicare expenditures are coming close to exceeding the 2.3 per cent payroll tax that funds Medicare, but it is dishonest for politicians and pundits to blame the US budget deficit on “entitlement programs.” 
There was also the little matter of Section 4, Article XIV of the Constitution:
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law [...] shall not be questioned.
Last December, a reporter asked President Obama whether he wasn't concerned that House Speaker Boehner would use the debt ceiling issue as leverage to get the spending cuts the Republicans were talking up and demanding. Obama's response was that he trusted Boehner to do the right thing. This is the rhetoric of the president's trademark bipartisanship. It has become the record of his presidency, and concerns a big part of his pitiful legacy. The repetition of this pattern is of course absurd; and when the president offered cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, he did so because these cuts were his objective; and he put them on the table without the Republicans even asking for them.

Barack Obama's marketing campaign was so brilliant that we voted for him in the primaries and General Election with no real insight into him, without clear understanding;  some of us without a second thought continued to make excuses for him, until his fakery and favoritism to Wall Street and his pernicious  fancy for George W. Bush's global style of war became too obvious to ignore. We are all punished for electing this man.
Usually a crisis is needed to create a vacuum into which these toxic details are fed. Wall Street does not like real crises, of course – except to make quick computer-driven speculative gains on the usual fibrillation of today’s zigzagging markets. But when it comes to serious money, the illusion of a crisis is preferred, staged melodramatically to wring the greatest degree of emotion out of the audience much like a good film editor edits a montage sequence. [...] --Michael Hudson

 A country that has fallen on hard times, as ours has, must face the grim political realities that exist now. The right-wing is exulting, and it is being seen in the arena of politics, taking what it wants by intimidation. But this is mostly for show because too many elected Democrats are playing along. The Labour Party in Britain and the Socialist Government in Greece have been playing this same double-crossing game. The United States, and other countries as well, are now at the mercy of the central banks, at the mercy of Wall Street; and the warning that issued long ago from FDR's great voice, was about the threat of the moneyed powers, of the few, who if left unchecked, would come to consider the government itself as a mere appendage to their own affairs.

A person of integrity, like Raul Grijalva,  reminds us of the stakes and the risks. But there must be others like him, ready to act with integrity, who have concern for justice, who are involved, who hear the bell that is tolling for each of us, calling all of us to save ourselves and our loved ones, and our country. This responsibility cannot be left to the parties, except on condition that these can be freed from the domination of the few, and learn to serve the people again.

It was certainly by design, and not by crisis, that we ended up with the super-duper committee of 12. But from whom did these spring to life? Who wants to claim any of them? The Tea Party may have played the midwife to this unlucky birth; but the Senate, controlled by Democrats, was nonetheless their mother. And their daddy is none other than Barack Obama.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Persons who would otherwise be willing to speak to me would surely refuse to do so if they perceived me to be not a journalist who keeps his word when he promises confidentiality but one who would break it in the interest of government prosecutors.
--James Risen
Besides the news about James Risen, there are a couple of other items that point to what governments, especially repressive ones, will do to maintain or restore their precious narratives. For instance, it was reported that on her arrival, actress Michelle Yeoh was met by officials in Myanmar (Burma) and was informed that she was blacklisted and was being immediately deported. This was simply because she had played the part in a movie, of the country's number one dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi, the tireless and ever-arrested champion of a return to democracy. The Junta must keep up appearances.

Another example is Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani attorney whose once warm relationship with US officials went cold after he agreed to represent claimants whose relatives were killed by US drone bombers. They are filing suit against the CIA. Suddenly his application for a visa to attend a Columbia University human rights conference in New York has run into a problem; although after several inquiries, the State Department won't disclose what the problem is.
"...[M]y relationship with the US government changed dramatically in 2010, when I decided to take on the case of Karim Khan. Karim Khan was away from home on New Year's Eve 2009 when two missiles fired from what we believe was a CIA-operated drone struck his family home in North Waziristan and killed his son, aged 18, and his brother, aged 35. Informed over the phone of their deaths, he rushed back to find his home destroyed and his brother's family--now a widow and two-year-old son--devastated.
Khan believes his son and brother were innocent victims. His brother, who had taken the surname Iqbal in honour of the famous Pakistani poet, was a schoolteacher who had returned to their ancestral village, shortly after finishing his master's degree in English literature, because he believed education was vital for his countrymen's improvement. Khan's teenage son helped out at another government school in the area. [...]
So, why would the US government want to prevent me from discussing these cases at Columbia law school? Perhaps, it is because our legal challenge disrupts the narrative of "precision strikes" against "high value targets" as an unqualified success against terrorism, at minimal cost to civilian life.
There are some narratives in the Washington establishment that bang around the corridors after office hours like Marley's Ghost-- oblivious to the shuffling and re-shuffling of cabinet officers-- as well as the peculiar personalities of presidents, who are only transient beings. These narratives have become institutional. And if you are able to effectively contradict or damage the state narrative; then you are bound to be in trouble, serious trouble, with this government.

James Risen, who broke stories about Bush's illegal warrantless wiretapping, and wrote about the SWIFT program of data mining of financial records, is presently trying to fight off a subpoena that would bring him before a grand jury. Team Obama wants Risen to help them convict Jeffery Sterling, a former CIA person, who they accuse of leaking intelligence about a bungled Agency operation against Iran, that happened 11 years ago during the Clinton Administration. Risen wrote a book, State of War, released in 2006, that contained a description of "Operation Merlin". In the minds of the CIA, this was a plot to deliver blueprints clandestinely into the hands of Iranian scientists; the idea was to hand them a design, which if it was pursued to construction, would result in a flawed, unusable weapon. The CIA pushed ahead with Merlin, even after a cooperating scientist told them that the flaws in the blueprint were too obvious, and it would be quickly spotted as worthless by the Iranians who would be receiving it.

Glenn Greenwald, who writes with precision about the Risen case and the climate of fear that the DOJ wishes to instill among us, also notes the odd history of the subpoena, which, for a long while, has had Risen's name on it:
The subpoena to Risen was originally issued but then abandoned by the Bush administration, and then revitalized by Obama lawyers.
The objective once pursued by the Bush team is now in the hands of Obama's prosecutors:
The DOJ wants Risen to testify under oath about whether Sterling was his source.
The orthodoxy of information is expressed in the way this government controls the narrative about Iran, and other issues, and the way it seeks to punish those who challenge its tightly-wrapped propaganda.

It didn't matter to the Bush administration that there was no precedent for prosecuting a member of the press under any statute that covered leaking classified information. But that didn't stop the threats that were made against James Risen. In 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales reacted to the publication of Risen's new book, State of War, making it clear that the Justice Department was raising the issue of prosecution of reporters.

In his affidavit to US District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Risen wants the court to quash the Obama administration subpoena that seeks to force his testimony. In Risen's own words:
On January 13, 2006, the week after my book hit the shelves, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales held a press conference at which he publicly announced that the department of Justice was actively considering the prosecution of journalists under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful, classified information.
In mid-March, after Attorney General Gonzales raised publicly the possibility of prosecuting journalists, the director of the CIA, Porter Goss, suggested that it was his "hope" and "aim" that the leak investigations would lead to subpoenas requiring me to reveal my confidential source[s]. Only two months into the investigation, Goss explained:"It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information.
Does the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover still rattle around the FBI's office in Washington? Maybe like Old Marley in Dickens' story, "A Christmas Carol", he rattles his chains late at night? It was Old J. Edgar who said "Justice is incidental to law and order". This seems to have become the unspoken motto of the Obama administration. The new Attorney General has finally put the high officials of the Bush years off limits for prosecution. The crimes done in the White House stay in the White House; that's another way of looking at it.

Obama gave a speech honoring whistleblowers and the service they do for the country; but when Thomas Drake blew the whistle, reporting fiscal irregularities in his government department, the Administration started prosecuting him under the Espionage Act.

Does the Junta need to keep up appearances?

Monday, May 30, 2011


Cornel West, a prominent African-American professor and man of letters, has recently ruffled feathers in parts of the liberal class, by calling President Barack Obama "a black mascot" in the service of Wall Street. The president was already stung by accusations from West that he is not much of a progressive. Such criticisms were not well received by some of the president's admirers either. West played a prominent role in Obama's 2008 campaign.

Chris Hedges has argued for a long time that liberal institutions, which were operating as a political safety valve for justice in American history, have largely failed now, because they have basically become derelict. The universities, the liberal church, the labor unions, the national press, have been made complicit in the country's rush to war, or were bought off, cowed into silence, driven further away from responsibilities they once took seriously; meanwhile, democracy and the law are hauled down, bit by bit.

There is pressure to control the conversation: pressure on teachers who answer to an increasing corporate structure in universities; and there is never-ending pressure on working people to surrender more of their dignity and security in the workplace. There is so much tragic pressure put on our jobless youth, to turn themselves over to the military and its wars of occupation, the madness that destroys minds and bodies.

Bernie Sanders, in his famous Marathon Speech on the floor of the Senate, said "...more tax breaks for the very rich is only one symptom of an economic and political system that is grotesquely failing the average American. The simple reality is that the middle class of America is collapsing, poverty is increasing, and the gap between the very wealthiest people and everyone else is getting wider. How did this happen?"

I saw the other day a story about the protests in Madrid. These are real protests that shake up the establishment. When Hedges writes that liberals have become pragmatists about the choice of lesser evils, that they fancy themselves as a respectable liberal class, it is on condition that they comply with the narrow parameters of political discourse, as it is permitted. The morally courageous are viewed with alarm as soon as they reveal too much. This is the sense I take from what he suggests is prophetic. This is painful in a personal sense because our commitment to justice does not compare favorably with that of protesters on the streets in Tahrir Square or in Madrid.

Nader was vilified in an irrational welter of emotion where it is endlessly claimed that he cost Gore and the country the election in 2000; this is the default position because either this is true or there was coup d’etat that was the beginning of the end of the rule of law in this country. It is too dangerous from a psychological viewpoint to accept responsibility for what happened. Much safer and more comfortable by far to shift the blame.

Reverend Wright was demonized of course for denigrating the idea that God reflexively blesses America. Every US president ends an oration with the words “May God Bless the United States of America”. Many in this country go all clammy and dread the uncomfortable topics whenever conversation turns to our own imperial slaughters abroad, the CIA’s political assassinations, torture, and other of America’s chronic crimes against peace.

Cornel West is revealing the betrayal. And he is attacked as hysterical and trivialized and is accused of petty spite. One would think from the moralizing language of some of his detractors that they suggest that he is like a rejected, wounded suitor. Is it too much to confront the implications of betrayal that is at once personal and political? No we have to go on believing in Obama’s good intentions. In the end the servants and courtiers in the liberal class will rally to his support and will recommend this course of action; moreover they will be crying that the system can still represent the people.

In Madrid, the masses have figured out that the Spanish government doesn’t represent the people. Winner-take-all parties want to bar smaller parties from representation. Voices of the people have been pushed into a place of obscurity, where no elected official hears or responds to them. And the representatives are seen now as wholly owned by corporate powers.

Liberals as a political class have participated in their own moral uprooting, as Chris Hedges has consistently warned us. This is the prophetic part and the sounding of an alarm. All this fiddling with designer politics and “boutique activism of political correctness” distracts us. Those who are committed to the primacy of justice can often be vilified, and have been vilified. We have to be clear about the warning signs in this country; just as a people can civilize themselves and defend what is just, they can also lose sight of justice, and can even debase themselves in the long run, and effectively censor the subjects which are considered unsafe to discuss. They can walk carelessly over virtues they once possessed and be uncivilized.

On Sunday, a couple was arrested for slow dancing in DC inside the Jefferson Memorial. And in other news this past week, the president has shrugged off the legal requirements of the War Powers Act of 1973. He doesn't know what all the fuss is about; after all, Libya is just a little war. The law demands one of these three conditions to be met: "...a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization, or a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."

Saturday, April 09, 2011

copeland morris APRIL ARRIVES BY NIGHT

Tohoku in snow
The daffodils collapse
Lying flat one upon the other.
From the fingernail moon you stole
A kiss, April, as you arrived
By night. Haven’t you revealed
The secret of a fox
To whom you are partial, or what
Favor the rain brings?
You laugh, thinking you can get
Away with no orientation, claiming
No dependents, like a ghost who can be
Unburdened. So where, in this deserted
Teahouse, are those who serve and gather?

Here you are, April, in the plowed furrow,
Having stolen away to the fields,
Your brow heavy with grief for Tarukawa,
Who killed himself over his row of cabbages.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Secrecy is the religion of the political class, and the prime enabler of its corruption. --Glenn Greenwald
After a period of official uneasiness about intervening in Libya's civil strife, the White House did a sudden about face, then ran with a propaganda blitz coordinated between the US, Britain, and France. A rebel uprising that was within days of being quelled in its stronghold in Benghazi, was to have its fortunes reversed, was to receive a flow of arms with perfect coordination, and begin chasing Gadhafi's forces back across the sands of Libya. President Obama celebrates clean hands in all of this, claiming that, at last, here is a chance to "align our interests with our values".

But something odd happened to this policy of humanitarian intervention. It was sold to the western public and to the Arab League as a policy of "defending civilians" with a No-Fly Zone. But the intention all along was to draft an "all measures necessary" provision into UN Resolution 1973. The aim was not impartial defense of people, but regime change. Once the votes were in, Britain and France made no bones about wanting Colonel Gadhafi's scalp. And US military spokesmen were careful to say that the violence was not directed at the Colonel himself, even while his compound, and the grand tent that served for his official receptions, went up in smoke. According to US Top Brass, if Gadhafi happened to get killed, it would be an accident, or the result of his own carelessness or imprudence.

Even though President Obama was ordering up a war, he presented no case to Congress; and in point of fact, he bypassed Congress. And the decision to enter hostilities was announced on March 19th, the anniversary of the war announcement made by George W. Bush, on March 19, 2003.

We all should be concerned if there is some common political ground for neocons and liberal interventionists. But one reason I object to the new war, is that it was advertised as one thing: defense of civilians. It is obvious now that the war is about regime change. It really goes after more than defanging the Gadhafi air force; for this is about arming the rebels (by way of Saudi and Egyptian channels) and making sure they can prevail at every step of their advance. Going from no-fly zone to no-drive zone. When French night-attack aircraft bomb sleeping soldiers on the outskirts of Benghazi, this war is revealed for what it is.

There is a reason why Obama (insert any other US administration) favors toppling someone like Gadhafi but not a Mubarak, someone like Syria's Assad but not Yemen's Saleh; and there is no point in the calculations that touches upon democracy or is concerned about defending civilians.

No African country has so far allowed the US military to base AFRICOM anywhere on its national territories. This will probably change; because for an empire, what cannot be obtained by diplomacy, is had by force. When Libya becomes a protectorate/puppet, the US military command's new AFRICOM will have a home. As in the past, empire uses conquest as its last resort.

The oil is an added goodie alright plus globalism's penetration into Libya. This war came on the heels of meticulous planning and propaganda. Gadhafi is not compliant enough, and would under no circumstances allow American basing in his country.

There is a cold cost analysis that is behind this foreign-armed and assisted coup d'etat. Egypt will end up with a troubling military pressure, on its western flank, the US basing in Libya, as a not so subtle nudge to keep people power under control in Egypt. A Libyan puppet who will take the collar will be a lot less worrisome than the Colonel, and more profitable to the powers that be.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich left a comment on the Guardian website, that references what is, perhaps, the suspect planning behind this war.
On November 2, 2010 France and Great Britain signed a mutual defence treaty , which included joint participation in "Southern Mistral" (, a series of war games outlined in the bilateral agreement. Southern Mistral involved a long-range conventional air attack, called Southern Storm, against a dictatorship in a fictitious southern country called Southland. The joint military air strike was authorised by a pretend United Nations Security Council Resolution. The "Composite Air Operations" were planned for the period of 21-25 March, 2011. On 20 March, 2011, the United States joined France and Great Britain in an air attack against Gaddafi's Libya, pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1973.

Have the scheduled war games simply been postponed, or are they actually under way after months of planning, under the name of Operation Odyssey Dawn? Were opposition forces in Libya informed by the US, the UK or France about the existence of Southern Mistral/Southern Storm, which may have encouraged them to violence leading to greater repression and a humanitarian crisis? In short was this war against Gaddafi's Libya planned or a spontaneous response to the great suffering which Gaddafi was visiting upon his opposition?

UPDATE: It looks like all the wolves will be making a meal of Libya.

Wow That Was Fast! Libyan Rebels Have Already Established A New Central Bank Of Libya

IN OTHER NEWS: Grayson Harper sends us this comment by email:
Biden stuck a reporter in a closet during a posh Orlando fundraiser to keep him from talking to the guests--had him in there an hour-and-a-half. Gave him bottled water and posted a staffer outside the door to stand guard. Sounds like something you'd expect to see on an episode of The Simpsons. We live in an absolute cartoon of a country. We have cartoon liberals and cartoon conservatives.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Simple Twist of Fate

Grayson Harper

Well, here we are in the greatest country in the world. The snow has melted off and the mobs are massing to watch the gladiators have a go at each other. Tickets (in case you're interested) are going for between $3,500 and $20.000. If you don't mind watching it on a big screen outside the Coliseum--er--stadium, last I heard, the price was $200. Probably much higher today. On Super-Bowl Sunday, a thirty-second TV ad is running somewhere in the neighborhood of $3-million.

Meanwhile, half-way around the world, in Cairo, in Alexandria, a different hoard of folks are gathered together. Not just in Egypt, but other places, as well--in Jordan, Tunesia, Syria, Yemen, Sudan. Throngs of people lifting their voices for democracy, crying out to be treated with simple human dignity. The notion of shelling out $3,000 to watch a football game, or even $200 to watch it on a screen, probably would not occur to most of them as an option, not only because probably not one of them has anything close to that kind of money to waste, and perhaps never will, and not only because their reason for coming together could mean life or death, but because of the sheer absurdity of it.

So far, the football fanatics have had to endure snow and icy weather. Pat-downs at the airport. A slab of ice slid off the domed roof of the stadium yesterday and sent someone to the hospital.

And still they come.

Over eleven days, the Egyptians in Tahrir Square have fought off Mubarak's thugs, they've had rocks thrown at them, they've been gunned down in the streets. They've stood up to the lies told about them, by those labeling them as Islamic extremists, by those who say they're being influenced by "outside agitators," by those like Senator John McCain, who brands what's happening in Egypt as a "virus that must be contained." The police have attacked them, the army has threatened them, has made every attempt to shut down the flow of information, including removing news journalists from the streets, taking them who knows where. The army has cut off their food and water supplies.

And still they come.

I wonder how many of them, along with their children, could be fed on all that Super-Bowl money--ad money, football money, money spent on bets on the game, money spent on airline tickets, gasoline, hotels, parties, fine dining, booze, and whores.

How many in my home town could be fed on that money? In my county alone, a fifth of children under the age of 18 live in extreme poverty. In my state, Texas, a quarter of them suffer from food insecurity or outright hunger.

The U.S. President, Barack Obama, and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have told the Egyptians they support them in their cause. Of course, they believe in democracy and human rights. They said they want a peaceful, orderly transition from Hosni Mubarak to the newly selected--not elected--Vice President--Omar Suleiman. Suleiman, the former head of Egyptian Intelligence, the C.I.A.'s point-man in Egypt for renditions and torture.

The President said he would journey to Texas if his beloved team, the Bears, were in the running. But they didn't make it. So today he will be hunkered down in the White House watching the Super Bowl. His guests include entertainers--Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. He did not say he would journey to Cairo to stand in solidarity with a people who have endured thirty years of life under a brutal dictator.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


"When a regime withdraws the police entirely from the streets of Cairo, when thugs are part of the secret police, trying to give the impression that without Mubarak the country will go into chaos, this is a criminal act. Somebody has to be accountable. And now, as you can hear in the streets, people are not saying Mubarak should go, they are now saying he should be put on trial. If he wants to save his skin, he better leave." –-Mohamad ElBaradei
Hosni Mubarak's ominous comment "...the Homeland goes on but the people do not...", in the midst of a speech where ordinary Egyptians were expecting (at least hoping) for him to announce his resignation, served as quite an eye-opener. The immense crowd in Cairo, roared back as they listened to him explain why he is still indispensable until September; and while they massed in the early morning darkness, their shout was for him to just "Leave".

Mubarak's hated police and his more hated Ministry of Interior, have made people recoil in fear for a long time; but the people began shouting back in unison that they would no longer be objects of abuse. When it becomes customary for police to beat or torture people taken into custody, when the face of a policeman on the street becomes that of a snarling bully who manhandles citizens at his whim, it means that civil society is broken.

What is terrifying is that a nation of over 80 million was placed for so long at the mercy of 1.2 million goons, their hirelings, and accomplices. Bernhard, who hosts at Moon of Alabama, describes this problem:
What to do about the 1.2 million people who work for the Interior Ministery and suppressed the people and protected the regime? Leaving them without income is dangerous, keeping them impossible. The economy is in bad shape - a social-democratic middle ground needs to be found to heal it while also lifting the poor from their mess. It will take years.
The US administration, as Hosni Mubarak's not-so-secret benefactor, embarrassed and contradicted itself at every turn. Vice-President Biden, like a stooge in an expensive suit, maintained that Mubarak is not a dictator. Old Hosni was a dear and reliable ally, serving at the pleasure of officials in Washington, as reputable as the derelict American press could arrange for him to be, lionizing him as a stabilizing presence in the region. Mubarak's counterfeit democracy and brutal repression were skimmed over in US newsrooms; and with press releases in their sweaty hands, the scribes hunched over the sacred writ from today's White House salespeople, acting submissively, just as they had done during Bush's years.

In the United States and Israel, the usual suspects persist in adding disinformation to the news; accusing protesters, labeling them, pointing at them, as looters and rioters. The protesters have been militant and defended themselves, but their behavior has been remarkably good in their large numbers, in these circumstances. Their anger at the Mubarak regime is justified. The real looters have been professional; sometimes shot by soldiers, and sent to hospitals, where they were found with police identity cards. This is the practice used by corrupt governments; they foment chaos themselves; they order it done to bring discredit to those who are protesting in the streets, and to prey on the fears of society at large, with the idea that the authorities alone can fend off social collapse.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been tangled up for days in the hypocrisy of their country's insipid diplomatic language. But the real heroism and social responsibility applies to masses of Egyptian people, who have taken steps to heal an abused nation; it is a profound contrast to the world of make-believe, which our president tried to sell to us, in his latest State of the Union speech. The contrivance and junk rhetoric has just worn out its welcome: the stupid recycling of the "Sputnik moment" from a Cold War mentality, morphing into an economic vision of green energy renewal; but for an empire in decline, which can't manage infrastructure or maintain decent wages at home, the US Empire can still build schools and pulverize villages in Afghanistan. And Obama capped all this off by wearing out the phrase, "winning the future".
Winning the future.
Isn't the cry about winning the future just a handy strategy to keep an old exhausted mule tugging at its harness? Winning the future, as rhetoric, is like the long pole with a carrot at the end of it; just enough incentive for a mule.

While Obama points to a worthy citizen in the gallery, and bathes in that person's reflected glory, while he gesticulates and prattles about winning the future, ordinary Egyptians have done something that should humble him, and all the rest of us. Unlike Americans, Egyptians seem to be mastering their fears; and if they can continue this way they will be thinking more clearly. But there is no going back; and it's best to wish them well. They refuse to be coerced any longer by Mubarak's brutality or ever bow down before his brutality again. Once the people take a step like that, they have proven how great they are.

Image: Cairo's Tahrir Square (via Moon Of Alabama)

Monday, January 17, 2011


Now power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, and economic change.

What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
Our country's leaders can no longer define the conditions that would bring peace; and they won't allow us to disengage from our foreign wars. At home, there is a reckless and persistent drumming up of violence by a right-wing that speaks in a way that suggests a right to nullify elections with guns. Death threats and vandalism at political headquarters, the brandishing of guns at public meetings, and rhetoric that assumes the elimination of political adversaries, is all a grim reminder of the sacrifices which were made in the past for a better world, when we mourned the assassination of our leaders.

"Power without love is reckless and abusive."

The assault of power, in the absence of love, can be seen in the manhandling and dehumanization of passengers boarding airplanes in this country. It can be seen in Afghanistan, as US Special Ops kidnap civilians in the middle of the night; and where occupation troops supervise the cutting down of orchards. It is the hellscape where robot drones appear out of the night to kill sleeping children. Because love lies abandoned, because this kind of power is reckless and abusive, the concept of peace and the blessings of peace are not even acknowledged by our politicians. And our silence, too, in the face of this kind of power, can rob us of our humanity.

"And love without power is sentimental and anemic."

 Martin Luther King fell out of favor, after he spoke out against the War in Vietnam. People, even in his own civil rights organization, the NAACP, criticized him; this was because they could accept only the Reverend King of "The Dream" speech; and the Reverend King who rightly described his country as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" was out of step in their view; and suddenly he became an outcast in Washington, an object of suspicion to the Great Society democrats who once praised him. And how can we, or our president, bind up the nation's wounds, when love lacks power?--when political speech is composed of sentimental and anemic words?

Without justice and without laws in which we have confidence, we are lost. Bertolt Brecht, the poet and playwright, once wrote, "What times are these when a conversation about a tree is almost a crime because it contains so many silences about so many crimes?"  When will the president urge us to humility, as he gives his eulogy for American soldiers who commit suicide? Where are the words to bathe and anoint the body of the  next Afghan child,  killed by our bombs?
Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

copeland morris ENTWINED SONNET

Her shaded eyes, her necklace black velvet, onyx. Anguish she spoke; and he carried on, obsessed As only a young man could. An odd harm...