Worth Fighting For (Impeachment; Kucinich)

Dandelion Salad

By Other…
The Jewish Daily Forward
Wed. Dec 26, 2007

Democratic leaders in Congress had their hands full in the past few weeks, trying to pass laws, keep the country running and show voters they could make a difference. It didn’t go well. Between the torture debate, President Bush’s war budget, the energy bill, free trade with Peru, the failed attempt to increase children’s health coverage and the Republican gambit to “recognize” Christmas, it wasn’t a banner season for the Democratic agenda.

With so much on the line, the last thing the party chiefs want now is a floor revolt from mavericks demanding an impeachment. It goes against the button-down image the Democrats want to cultivate, and makes them look like the 1960s radicals they’re often accused of being. They don’t want to sink to the level of the Republican inquisitors who tortured Bill Clinton.

Impeachment would be, in the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a “distraction” from the lawmakers’ job of making laws. Besides, they say, with only a year left to the Bush presidency, impeachment would be pointless even if it succeeded, which it won’t.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


It’s time to impeach our VP and Pres: http://www.wexlerwantshearings.com

David Cole: Enemy Aliens & Constitutional Freedoms (video)

Dandelion Salad

pdxjustice Media Productions
1 hr 19 min 58 sec – Feb 27, 2007


David Cole, Georgetown Law Center professor, legal correspondent for The Nation, and a contributor to the New York Review of Books and NPR’s All Things Considered, discusses “How Double Standards Have Undermined Our Liberty, Our Character and Our Security in the War on Terror.” For more information on these topics, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights website at www.ccr-ny.org.

Continue reading

Manufacturing Threats – Sudan, Iran & The War For Civilisation By David Edwards

Dandelion Salad

By David Edwards
ICH 12/26/07
Media Lens 12.18.07

News that British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons had been jailed in Sudan after allowing her pupils to call a teddy bear Mohammed fed straight into the UK media’s hate factory and its “war for civilisation”.

The Gibbons story was mentioned in a massive 257 articles in UK national newspapers in the first week, providing an excuse to boost claims of “genocide” in Sudan in 10 of these.

The suffering in Sudan has certainly been appalling – it is estimated that the conflict has cost the lives of 100,000 people with two million made homeless. But Iraq is far worse – the occupation has so far resulted in the deaths of 1 million people with more than 4 million displaced from their homes. Whereas, over the last year, the term “genocide” has been used in 246 articles mentioning Sudan – many of these affirming that genocide has taken place – the results of the US-UK invasion of Iraq, and of the earlier sanctions regime, are essentially never described in similar terms.

To its credit, an Independent leader warned that it would be wrong “to treat Ms Gibbons’ case, as some have done, as a harbinger of the supposedly inevitable clash between the ‘enlightened’ West and ‘primitive’ Islam”. (Leader, Ms Gibbons and a teddy bear named Mohamed,’ The Independent, November 30, 2007)

The advice was largely ignored, however. Following Gibbons’ release after eight days in jail, a December 4 Telegraph leader described how the “delight and mutual congratulations that have characterised the agreement between the Sudanese dictator and the British authorities… presents a nauseating picture”. The arrest being, after all, “testimony to the danger of allowing a rogue state to proceed unchecked”. (Leader, ‘Sudan’s grotesque stunt,’ Daily Telegraph, December 4, 2007)

Is Sudan, then, to replace Iraq as the third “rogue” member of the “axis of evil”? Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips appeared to recommend as much, writing a day earlier of how the teddy bear incident was “yet another symptom of the great onslaught being mounted against our civilisation and towards which not one inch of ground must be given if that civilisation is to survive“. (Phillips, ‘The teddy-bear teacher and Labour’s spineless response to a rogue state that threatens us all …,’ Daily Mail, December 3, 2007)

Such preposterous hyperbole belongs in the same category as Hitler’s description of Czechoslovakia as “a dagger pointed at the heart of Germany”. (Quoted, Noam Chomsky, on Power And Ideology – The Managua Lectures, South End Press, 1987, p.33)

Phillips was similarly outraged when 15 British sailors were “kidnapped” by an Iranian warship on March 23 while on patrol in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq. Then, she raged at “a military debacle for Britain – a self-inflicted humiliation at the hands of Iran, at a time when the mortal danger posed to the free world by this rogue state is increasing by the day“. (Phillips, ‘The real issue isn’t Mr Bean selling his story. It’s our utter humiliation by Iran,’ Daily Mail, April 16, 2007)

Iran was, of course, “steadily advancing towards its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons with which it is threatening to bring about the apocalypse it has been working towards for the past three decades”.

Like the rest of the media, Phillips later fell silent when evidence emerged suggesting that the British sailors had in fact strayed into Iranian waters, and had therefore not been “kidnapped” at all. On July 22, the UK Foreign Affairs Committee reported:

“We conclude that there is evidence to suggest that the map of the Shatt al-Arab waterway provided by the Government was less clear than it ought to have been. The Government was fortunate that it was not in Iran’s interests to contest the accuracy of the map.” (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/.pdf)

Martin Pratt, Director of Research at the International Boundaries Research Unit at Durham University, pointed out that the British government’s map was “certainly an oversimplification… it could reasonably be argued that it was deliberately misleading”. (Ibid)

George Monbiot – Iran “Is A Dangerous And Unpredictable State”

This did nothing to dim the enthusiasm of journalists eager to portray Iran as a threat to world peace. George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian last month: “I believe that Iran is trying to acquire the bomb.” He added: “Yes, Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dangerous and unpredictable state involved in acts of terror abroad.” (Monbiot, ‘The Middle East has had a secretive nuclear power in its midst for years,’ The Guardian, November 20, 2007; http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/comment/0,,2213812,00.html)

We wrote to Monbiot on the same day:

Hi George

In your latest Guardian article, you write:

“I believe that Iran is trying to acquire the bomb.”

What is the basis for your belief, please?

You also write:

“Yes, Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dangerous and unpredictable state involved in acts of terror abroad. The president is a Holocaust denier opposed to the existence of Israel.”

Is it your understanding that Ahmadinejad, rather than Khamenei, is the supreme ruler of Iran? If so, why? And which “acts of terror abroad” do you have in mind? Do you include the claims that Iran has supplied EFPs to blow up US-UK tanks and troops in Iraq, for example?

Finally, what is the basis for your belief that Ahmadinejad is “opposed to the existence of Israel”?

Best wishes

DE and DC

We wrote a further two times but received no replies. Monbiot had earlier written to us in February 2005:

“If, as I think you have, you have begun to force people working for newspapers and broadcasters to look over their left shoulders as well as their right, and worry about being held to account for the untruths they disseminate, then you have already performed a major service to democracy.” (Email, February 2, 2005)

These were kind words but they surely overstated the case. In truth, we have little power to hold journalists to account – it is a simple matter for them to ignore our emails.

Monbiot’s comments on Iran recall his pre-war comments on Iraq. At a crucial time politically, he wrote in November 2002: “if war turns out to be the only means of removing Saddam, then let us support a war whose sole and incontestable purpose is that and only that…” (Monbiot, ‘See you in court, Tony,’ The Guardian, November 26, 2002)

We asked him:

“Can you explain why you would prioritise the support of such a war ahead of a war to remove the Algerian generals, the Turkish regime, the Colombian regime, or maybe Putin? Would you also support a war to remove these regimes, if this turns out to be the only way?” (Email, November 26, 2002. See our series of Media Alerts, beginning with: http://www.medialens.org/alerts/02/021202_Monbiot_Iraq.HTM)

He replied the same day:

“The other nations you mention have some, admittedly flimsy, domestic means of redress: in other words, being democracies, or nominal democracies, citizens can, in theory, remove them without recourse to violent means. There is no existing process within Iraq for removing the regime peacefully. Like many of those who oppose this war with Iraq, I also want to help the Iraqi people to shake off their dictator…

“As I suggest in my article, we must try the non-violent means first, and there are plenty which have not been exhausted. But if all the conditions which I believe would provide the case for a just war are met – namely that less violent options have been exhausted first, that it reduces the sum total of violence in the world, improves the lives of the oppressed, does not replace one form of oppression with another and has a high chance of success – then it seems to me that it would be right to seek to topple Mr Hussein by military means.” (Email, November 26, 2002)

We asked him if he thought Iraq was a special case to be singled out for this kind of treatment. He replied:

“I do not believe that Iraq is a special case, or, rather, I do not believe that it is any more special than a number of other cases.” (Email, November 27, 2002)

So why single out Iraq, just then, when the British and American governments were clearly intent on attacking Iraq? He replied:

“… why did I write that column about Iraq, rather than about Burma or West Papua? The answer is that Iraq is the issue over which the ideological battles of the moment are being fought. Yes, of course the reason for this is that the hawks in the US have put it on the agenda.” (Email, December 3, 2002)

The elusive but key truth is that mainstream politics and media have an astonishing capacity to make certain issues seem particularly real and important while consigning others to oblivion. To criticise the actions of the Iranian state, for example, is to have a voice – our words are likely to matter, they may well be heard; they can lead to discussion and even action. To criticise the actions of a government of marginal media interest is to be a voice in the wilderness – we might as well be muttering to ourselves in the bath. The temptation for a professional journalist is to be ‘relevant’, to accept mainstream parameters of debate, and to ignore the costs of his or her actions.

By late 2002, establishment propaganda had made the need to take action to deal with Saddam Hussein’s regime seem real, urgent and important – Monbiot was swept along in the wake of that propaganda. Something similar appears to be happening again, now, over Iran.

On December 18, we analysed the UK national press over the last 20 years searching for ‘gay rights’ and ‘Iran’. We found 79 mentions – 56 of these have been since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq:

2007 – 14
2006 – 9
2005 – 9
2004 – 19
2003 – 6 (5 post-invasion, 1 pre-invasion)
2002 – 2
2001 – 3
2000 – 1
1999 – 1
1998 – 2
1997 – 2
1996 – 1
1995 – 1
1994 – 5
1992 – 1
1989 – 1
1988 – 2

Following the invasion, Iran took the place of Iraq as the West’s official enemy – it was the ideal scapegoat for the catastrophic occupation and a suitable device for maintaining the traditional fear of foreign ‘threats’.

We found a similar pattern when searching for the terms ’Taliban’ and ‘women’s rights’. Since February 1995, there have been 56 mentions in the Guardian. Of these, 36 have appeared since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Following the September 11 attacks, there was the same number of mentions (nine) in the last three and a half months of that year as there had been in the previous three years combined. 90% of the mentions in 2001 occurred after 9-11.

US Spies Confound The Warmongers

Just two weeks after Monbiot’s comments on Iran, his own newspaper covered the latest report by the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which summarises the work of the 16 American intelligence agencies. The report, ‘Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,’ disclosed that Iran has +not+ been pursuing a nuclear weapons development programme for the past four years:

“Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons programme suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.” (Ewen MacAskill, ‘US spies give shock verdict on Iran threat: Intelligence agencies say Tehran halted weapons programme in 2003,’ The Guardian, December 4, 2007)

The report concluded: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons programme.” (Ibid) The programme had not been restarted as of the middle of this year.

Other evidence challenges the claim that Iran is supplying sophisticated weaponry to Iraqi insurgents. In May, the Guardian devoted an entire front page column to anonymous US military sources who insisted:

“Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it’s a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces.” (Simon Tisdall, ‘Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq,’ The Guardian, May 22, 2007. You can see the front page here: http://www.medialens.org/alerts/07/screenshots/guardian_070522_cover.jpg)

Journalists have long taken for granted that Iran is smuggling advanced roadside bombs, known as Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs), into Iraq. However, in October, historian and security analyst Gareth Porter described on Inter Press Service how the US military command had accused Iran last January of providing EFPs despite knowing that Iraqi machine shops had been producing their own EFPs for years. By late 2005, the British military had found clear evidence that Iraqi Shiites were manufacturing their own EFPs.

The US command also had substantial evidence that the Iraqi Mahdi army had received EFP technology and training on how to use it from Hezbollah rather than Iran. In November 2006, a senior intelligence official told the New York Times and CNN that Hezbollah had trained as many as 2,000 Mahdi army fighters in Lebanon. According to British expert Michael Knights, writing in Jane’s Intelligence Review last year, the earliest EFPs appearing in Iraq in 2004 were probably constructed by Hezbollah specialists. Porter noted that British and US officials have long known that the EFPs being used in Iraq closely resemble weapons used by Hezbollah against Israeli forces in Southern Lebanon.

Despite all of this, Porter observed, the US command, operating under close White House supervision, “chose to deny these facts in making the dramatic accusation that became the main rationale for the present aggressive US stance toward Iran”. (Porter, ‘U.S. Military Ignored Evidence of Iraqi-Made EFPs,’ IPS, October 25, 2007; http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39810)

And so, while the media continue to capitalise on any excuse to promote a “clash of civilisations” between the West and “militant Islam”, it remains a remarkable fact that the ‘threats’ faced are mostly invented. Much of the actual violence against the West has been, and will continue to be, in retaliation for grave Western crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere consuming literally millions of lives.

The simplest way for the West to bring its “war on terror” to a successful conclusion would be for it to stop waging war and to renounce terrorism.


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you decide to write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to Melanie Phillips
Email: m.phillips@dailymail.co.uk

Write to George Monbiot
Email: g.monbiot@zetnet.co.uk

Please send a copy of your emails to us
Email: editor@medialens.org

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Global Pulse: The Death of the Death Penalty? (video)

Dandelion Salad


As the state of New Jersey ends capital punishment, and the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of execution by lethal injection, the issue of the death penalty makes news worldwide. Now the UN has even voted to outlaw the death sentence making many question whether this is the beginning of the end for the death penalty, or only more symbolic statements.

Sources: BBC, U.K; TV5, France; DW, Germany; Al Jazeera English, Doha; ABC News, U.S.  Added: December 26, 2007

FCC’s Vote to Rewrite the Nation’s Media Ownership Rules (link)

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!
Dec. 26, 2007

“Today’s Decision Would Make George Orwell Proud”—FCC Commissioner Michael Copps on the FCC’s Vote to Rewrite the Nation’s Media Ownership Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted three-to-two on party lines last week to approve a measure that would increase media consolidation. The new rule pushed through by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin lifts a thirty-year old ban on companies seeking to own both a newspaper and television or radio station in the same city. Michael Copps was one of two FCC Commissioners to vote against the rule. [includes rush transcript]

CIA Torture and other War Crimes By Philip Giraldi

Dandelion Salad

By Philip Giraldi
12/26/07 “Yahoo

Personal accountability has all but disappeared from the American political system. Bill Clinton lied to his entire cabinet about Monica Lewinsky and not a single cabinet member resigned in protest after he was forced to recant. When Alberto Gonzales lied repeatedly during testimony before Congress everyone knew exactly what he was doing but no leading Democrat was willing to impeach him. The hopelessly incompetent Michael Brown was able to resign from FEMA without sanction to “avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission” and later even blamed everyone else for his shortcomings. Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Tommy Franks, George Tenet, and Paul Bremer were all rewarded for their incompetence, some with medals and some with promotions. Recent resignations from the Bush administration stemming from the massive policy failures of the past seven years have frequently been couched in terms of “wanting to spend more time with my family” though sometimes a bit of candor creeps in a la Trent Lott, who believes it is time to step down and follow the money as a lobbyist. Public Diplomacy Tsarina Karen Hughes arguably plans to do both, returning to Texas to rejoin her family while also cashing in through lucrative speaking engagements. During her two and a half years of Texas-style soccer mom diplomacy at State Department and in spite of a large budget, Hughes only succeeded in increasing the number of foreigners who actively dislike the United States. Never is a resignation from government service framed in terms of “Hey, I screwed up.”

The embrace of illegal detentions and torture are among the truly horrific decisions that can be attributed to the Bush White House. It is ironic to read the media accounts surrounding the recent discovery by shocked U.S. Marines of an alleged al-Qaeda torture center in Iraq’s Diyala province because the Marines work for a government that itself publicly embraces torture as an interrogation technique. And it is not just the White House. Torture is bipartisan. The recent House of Representatives intelligence appropriations bill included a clause that requires CIA to abide by the Geneva Conventions in its interrogation and detention policies. One hundred and ninety-nine Congressmen from both parties voted “no.” Even if some of the Congressmen voted against the bill for other reasons, there is a strong sense that many politicians consider torture to be perfectly okay. Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson have all jumped on that bandwagon, endorsing “enhanced interrogation” as a counter-terrorism tool. Mitt Romney, who might bolster his claims to be a Christian by occasionally perusing the compassionate message of the Sermon on the Mount instead of the Book of Mormon, even wants to make Guantanamo prison bigger. Giuliani appears to want to jail and torture lots of people all the time, but he is, admittedly, a pagan.

If senior managers at the Central Intelligence Agency actually worried about committing war crimes more than they cared about getting revenge on ragheads and advancing their careers, they wouldn’t have tortured anyone in the first place back in 2002. Shortly after 9/11, the redoubtable armchair warrior Vice President Dick Cheney, who famously had other priorities and avoided military service by virtue of five deferments during Vietnam, announced that the “gloves are off” in reference to America’s enemies. Those comments set the tone and ushered in the exciting days of “anything goes” when Cofer Black, chief of the Agency’s Counter Terrorism Center, sent out his myrmidons with orders to come back with Usama bin Laden’s head in a box. Somehow, that head turned out to be Saddam Hussein’s.

Ethically, torture degrades the country that permits it, the organization that carries it out and the individuals who perform it. Doctors are not present during torture as it would violate the Hippocratic Oath, so it is up to the torturer to decide how far to go. If a victim dies while being interrogated by torture, as has happened a number of times in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it is both a war crime and murder.

Most intelligence and law enforcement officers reject torture as an interrogation tool, knowing that it more often than not produces false information. The FBI claims that the CIA waterboarding of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah was unnecessary, that he was already cooperating. Waterboarding, which was used extensively both by the Gestapo and by the Spanish Inquisition, is a particularly heinous form of torture as it simulates death. With U.S. troops deployed all over the world at the present time, sanctioning torture lowers the bar for terrorists who might happen to capture an American soldier or diplomat to do likewise. Even in 2002 someone with a bit of foresight might have anticipated the possible consequences arising from the CIA’s use of torture and its more general bull in the china shop approach. Someone with a bit of backbone and an intact moral compass might even have even resigned in protest, but, alas, there were few of those types around.

What has made CIA’s so-called leaders really nervous in the current political environment is not the ethical or moral issue of torture per se. It is the thought of getting sued by the victims and victim advocacy groups, which means hiring expensive lawyers. Donald Rumsfeld’s flight from Paris in late November to avoid war crimes charges also raises the possibility that an otherwise pleasant trip to Provence or Tuscany might have to be curtailed if some Euro-version of a pasty-face peace creep tries to file a lawsuit. Fortunately for all the torturers at CIA, there is now a government reimbursed private insurance program designed to cover contingencies. When former Chief of Clandestine Operations Jose Rodriguez was subpoenaed to appear before a Congressional committee last week, he was able to afford representation by the redoubtable Robert Bennett.

The latest CIA scandal began in 2002 when at least two terrorist suspects were videotaped while they were being subjected to the waterboarding version of “enhanced interrogation.” The questioning took place somewhere in Asia, possibly in a Pakistani or Thai prison but more likely at either Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan or at Diego Garcia Island, in the Indian Ocean, where the CIA maintains “off-sites.” In May 2003, CIA told Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema that there were no recordings or other records of the interrogations. That was a lie. In 2003 and 2004, the Congressional 9/11 Commission made “repeated and detailed inquiries relating to interrogations.” The CIA said there was no additional material, another lie. In June 2005, Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed. The order came, perhaps not coincidentally, just as the Italian authorities were entering into the investigative phase of a major inquiry into CIA renditions in Italy.

CIA now claims that the tapes were destroyed to protect the identity of the agency interrogators involved. That argument is complete nonsense. Unless the cameraman was suffering from delirium tremens and shaking uncontrollably, the camera would have been focused on the victim of the torture, not on those administering it. In any event, terrorists would hardly be able to identify and gain access to an otherwise unremarkable and nameless CIA employee from what they might see on a tape, even if they could get hold of a copy.

The real reason for the cover-up on the tapes is because torture is universally acknowledged to be a war crime and everyone in the CIA and White House hierarchy knows that to be true. The denial that the tapes existed in 2003 and 2004 could not have taken place without the concurrence of Director George Tenet, Deputy Director John McLaughlin, and General Counsel Scott Muller. Probably then-Director of Operations James Pavitt would have also been involved. When Rodriguez destroyed the tapes in 2005, he was not acting alone. Director Porter Goss almost certainly would have been part of the decision making process as well as acting General Counsel John Rizzo and it is tempting to speculate that White House aides like Dick Cheney’s David Addington and President Bush’s Harriet Miers might also have been in the loop.

Looking for war crimes committed by members of the Bush administration is a complicated exercise because there are so many to go around. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo come immediately to mind. The Nuremburg Tribunals at the end of the Second World War defined an aggressive war against another country if that country has not attacked you first or threatened to do so as “essentially an evil thing…to initiate a war of aggression…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” A number of leading Nazis were executed for their unprovoked attack on Poland. The Bush administration has its own Poland in Iraq, and if there is an American attack on Iran it would also fit the Nuremberg definition. Unlike at Nuremberg, however, no one will be held accountable.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Do You HATE Government? A 10-Step Program for Libertarians by Bob Maschi

Dandelion Salad

by Bob Maschi
November 14, 2007

The modern conservative movement is based on bashing government (no matter how lenient they are on the current, incompetent administration). Many libertarians even suggest that government should be completely abolished. If you think that all of your tax money is wasted (not just that portion being sent to Iraq), then here are some suggestions on how you can live without the benefits, or interference, of government.

1 Stop using money. Money is printed and minted by the government. Even if you only use charge cards, the transactions are based on the government’s money supply. Go back to the barter system – demand that your employer or clients pay you in chickens and goats. Then demand that your creditors take chicken and goats as payment.

2 Stop using the government’s roads. This includes bridges, highways and residential streets and all the traffic lights and street signs involved. Even if they weren’t built by government, most are maintained by government. And you might as well hand in your government-issued driver’s license.

3 Get off the Do Not Call List (one of the most consumer-friendly things the government has done in recent years). Then, try to figure out how you’re going to get anything done while being bumblasted by telemarketing calls from New Delhi.

4 Stop using the nation’s banking system. While banks aren’t directly owned by the government, government regulations keep them viable and safe. For example, your funds in banks are FEDERALLY insured, meaning that our government guarantees that your bank accounts are safe. Stick your money under the mattress or in a coffee can buried in the back yard (which is what people used to do during the depression, before the government guaranteed bank funds). And, for the record, the current mortgage mess wasn’t caused by too much government interference, but by too little. Well, that and greedy, bloodsucking lenders.

5 Stop using government-supplied water. Yes, most of America gets its water through reservoirs, wells and pipes installed and maintained by the government. No more showers, washing machines or dishwashers. Use cans of cola to flush your toilets and buy bottled water for drinking and cooking. It’s doubly unfair for you to take advantage of the water supply since government is also usually responsible for treating and disposing of waste water.

6 Car get stolen? Is someone breaking into your bedroom? Is your home on fire? Are you suffering a massive heart attack? Don’t dial 911. Police and fire departments, as well as the 911 emergency systems, are paid for with tax dollars.

7 America’s public schools ensure that all children have the opportunity to be educated (rather than just those who can afford it). State-run and affordable university systems allow many of those students to further advance their educations and careers. So, stop taking advantage of these systems. Don’t go there or don’t send your kids there. Also, don’t employ, work for or work with, anyone educated at public expense.

8 America’s first public library was begun with donations from Benjamin Franklin. Local libraries allow residents to study and enjoy a wide array of books, newspapers, tapes, movies and even computers. All at little or no cost. Actually, forget this one. If you don’t believe in government, you probably don’t spend much time in libraries anyway.

9 Stop using the postal service. Mail your bill payments and other letters through UPS, FedEx or some other private company. Guaranteed, it’ll cost a lot more than the price of a first-class stamp – and it won’t be handled any more efficiently.

10 Stop taking lunch breaks and coffee breaks and give up your overtime pay. For most workers, these aren’t gifts from employers. They are federally mandated.

There are many more things that you can do to distance yourself from the evils of government. But the above are excellent starts and give you the ability to defend yourself against those biting charges of hypocrisy.

The above opinion article may be reprinted and distributed by like-minded individuals and groups provided that it is done so in its entirety, without modification, and INCLUDING THIS PARAGRAPH. Copyright 2007 by Bob Maschi, bmaschi@yahoo.com

h/t: SocialistUS

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

What Does Freedom Really Mean? By Ron Paul

Dandelion Salad

By Ron Paul
12/26/07 “ICH

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

“…man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”Ronald Reagan

We’ve all heard the words democracy and freedom used countless times, especially in the context of our invasion of Iraq. They are used interchangeably in modern political discourse, yet their true meanings are very different.

George Orwell wrote about “meaningless words” that are endlessly repeated in the political arena*. Words like “freedom,” “democracy,” and “justice,” Orwell explained, have been abused so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell’s view, political words were “Often used in a consciously dishonest way.” Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language. As a result, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word “democracy” as a synonym for freedom, and thus to believe that democracy is unquestionably good.

The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with real freedom. Our founding fathers clearly understood this, as evidenced not only by our republican constitutional system, but also by their writings in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere. James Madison cautioned that under a democratic government, “There is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.” John Adams argued that democracies merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect pre-existing rights. Yet how many Americans know that the word “democracy” is found neither in the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence, our very founding documents?

A truly democratic election in Iraq, without U.S. interference and U.S. puppet candidates, almost certainly would result in the creation of a Shiite theocracy. Shiite majority rule in Iraq might well mean the complete political, economic, and social subjugation of the minority Kurd and Sunni Arab populations. Such an outcome would be democratic, but would it be free? Would the Kurds and Sunnis consider themselves free? The administration talks about democracy in Iraq, but is it prepared to accept a democratically-elected Iraqi government no matter what its attitude toward the U.S. occupation? Hardly. For all our talk about freedom and democracy, the truth is we have no idea whether Iraqis will be free in the future. They’re certainly not free while a foreign army occupies their country. The real test is not whether Iraq adopts a democratic, pro-western government, but rather whether ordinary Iraqis can lead their personal, religious, social, and business lives without interference from government.

Simply put, freedom is the absence of government coercion. Our Founding Fathers understood this, and created the least coercive government in the history of the world. The Constitution established a very limited, decentralized government to provide national defense and little else. States, not the federal government, were charged with protecting individuals against criminal force and fraud. For the first time, a government was created solely to protect the rights, liberties, and property of its citizens. Any government coercion beyond that necessary to secure those rights was forbidden, both through the Bill of Rights and the doctrine of strictly enumerated powers. This reflected the founders’ belief that democratic government could be as tyrannical as any King.

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

The political left equates freedom with liberation from material wants, always via a large and benevolent government that exists to create equality on earth. To modern liberals, men are free only when the laws of economics and scarcity are suspended, the landlord is rebuffed, the doctor presents no bill, and groceries are given away. But philosopher Ayn Rand (and many others before her) demolished this argument by explaining how such “freedom” for some is possible only when government takes freedoms away from others. In other words, government claims on the lives and property of those who are expected to provide housing, medical care, food, etc. for others are coercive– and thus incompatible with freedom. “Liberalism,” which once stood for civil, political, and economic liberties, has become a synonym for omnipotent coercive government.

The political right equates freedom with national greatness brought about through military strength. Like the left, modern conservatives favor an all-powerful central state– but for militarism, corporatism, and faith-based welfarism. Unlike the Taft-Goldwater conservatives of yesteryear, today’s Republicans are eager to expand government spending, increase the federal police apparatus, and intervene militarily around the world. The last tenuous links between conservatives and support for smaller government have been severed. “Conservatism,” which once meant respect for tradition and distrust of active government, has transformed into big-government utopian grandiosity.

Orwell certainly was right about the use of meaningless words in politics. If we hope to remain free, we must cut through the fog and attach concrete meanings to the words politicians use to deceive us. We must reassert that America is a republic, not a democracy, and remind ourselves that the Constitution places limits on government that no majority can overrule. We must resist any use of the word “freedom” to describe state action. We must reject the current meaningless designations of “liberals” and “conservatives,” in favor of an accurate term for both: statists.

Every politician on earth claims to support freedom. The problem is so few of them understand the simple meaning of the word.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

We Are All Prisoners Now By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
12/26/07 “ICH

“They’re locking them up today
They’re throwing away the key
I wonder who it’ll be tomorrow, you or me?”
The Red Telephone (LOVE, 1967)

At Christmas time it has been my habit to write a column in remembrance of the many innocent people in prisons whose lives have been stolen by the US criminal justice (sic) system that is as inhumane as it is indifferent to justice.  Usually I retell the cases of William Strong and Christophe Gaynor, two men framed in the state of Virginia by prosecutors and judges as wicked and corrupt as any who served Hitler or Stalin. Continue reading

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade – A Profile in Courage, Honor and Hope by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, December 26, 2007

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was an American contingent of about 2800 volunteers who fought on the side of the Second Spanish Republic during the country’s 1936 – 1939 Civil War against the fascist Nationalist rebellion under General Francisco Franco. From 1937 through 1938, it aimed to stop international fascism under Hitler and Mussolini that led to WW II. This essay explains who the “Lincolns” were, why they’re important, and what their relevance is to America today under George Bush. First a look at the Spanish Civil War and why these Americans fought in it.

The war began when Franco’s troops invaded Spain in July, 1936 to unseat an unstable Republic that developed from the social dislocations after WW I. Post-war saw a wave of revolutionary unrest that led to the military dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera in 1923. Rapid decline followed under him after the boom years of the 1920s. It weakened Spain’s monarchy, returned the country to republican rule, but things weakened when a liberal-Socialist coalition tried addressing agrarian problems that beleaguered all Spanish governments for generations. Reforms failed and so did the coalition. It came apart after an attempted military coup on the right and an anarchosyndicalist insurrection on the left that culminated in the Casas Viejas massacre of Andalulsian peasants in January, 1933.

By summer, Spain’s many parties and organizations began regrouping and polarizing. In November, the Spanish Confederation of Right Groups (CEDA) coalition replaced the liberal-Socialists. Positions then hardened on the left and right leading to the 1934 “October Revolution” when Asturian miners in northern Spain became the epicenter of a general uprising throughout the country. It brought “Army of Africa” commander Francisco Franco from Spanish Morocco to the mainland for the first time in five centuries to defend “Christian Civilization” from “red barbarism.” It was the start of class and regional conflict that became the Spanish Civil War two years later.

It pitted an alliance of Nationalist forces on the right under Franco against a “Popular Front” Republican/Loyalist coalition consisting of trade unionists and their political organizations:

— the General Confederation of Workers (UGT), a labor federation of the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), and an anarchosyndicalist General Confederation of Labor (CNT);

— they, in turn, were allied with the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) coalition of Spanish Trotskyists, Communist Left (ICE), and Workers and Peasants Bloc; the United Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC); and the small Communist Party (PCE).

Few in America remember the Spanish Civil War, its significance or even that it happened which says a lot about the state of education in the richest country in the world. It should be the best anywhere but instead opts for mediocrity, ignorance and an effort to produce good citizens, most barely literate, to serve the nation’s ruling class and not the greater good. That, however, is a topic for another time.

The Spanish Civil War – July 17, 1936 – April 1, 1939

Like all extended wars, this one was ugly. Before it ended in April, 1939, hundreds of thousands died and many by mass killings that included Hitler’s infamous fire-bombing of Guernica on April 26, 1937 that destroyed the town and killed an estimated 1650 people. An eye witness described it as follows: “The only things left standing were a church, a sacred tree, the symbol of the Basque people….There hadn’t been a single anti-aircraft gun in the town. It had been mainly a fire raid….A sight that haunted me for weeks was the charred bodies of several women and children huddled together in what had been the cellar of a house. It had been a refugio.” The same scene was repeated throughout the town. Guernica was in flames, but it was just a warmup, a prelude for what lay ahead.

April 1, 1939 marked the end of the Spanish Civil War. Five months later in September, Hitler invaded Poland, and the world again was at war with Spain staying out of it this time. Franco instead concentrated on solidifying power at home while nominally supporting his fascist allies. He imprisoned and slaughtered tens of thousands of his opponents in a post-war bloodbath/reign of terror. The Spanish war, while it lasted, however, was an historic revolution, and how different things might have been had the other side won. A radical working class movement, never seen before or since, lost out to a fascist alliance that became dominant and is now resurgent in America.

Back then, it was a rare time when oppressed workers, peasants and leftist intellectuals stood on one side and were aided by Soviet Russia, the international Socialist movement and the International Brigades. Against them were centralized state power elitists that included monarchists, the Catholic church, and the landowning and industrial fascist right supported by Germany, Italy and Portugal. Workers wanted a classless, stateless social democracy with implications far beyond a civil conflict in Spain.

They were attracted to it when Franco invaded and threatened their vision. Spontaneously they seized factories and other workplaces, collectivized the land, formed workers’ militias throughout the country, dismantled the pro-fascist Catholic church, confiscated its property, and established political institutions run by workers’ committees. It was a remarkable event for a short-lived social transformation toward a genuinely autonomous, free and democratic society until Franco finally prevailed.

In a decade of economic depression, disillusion, the rise of fascism, torment and turmoil up to WW II, the Spanish revolution was a sign of hope for working-class emancipation across the world, including in the US. It inspired intellectuals, trade unionists, and others as well as freedom-fighting men and women of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. They went Spain to support the type government they wanted at home and hoped would emerge if the “Popular Front” prevailed.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade

They were around 2800 American volunteers who fought alongside the “Popular Front” Republican Loyalists as the American contingent of the International Brigades. From 1937 to 1938, they joined with 35,000 others from 52 countries to defend the free Spanish Republic against Franco’s Nationalist fascist alliance.

They were mostly young men and women from across America, deeply affected by the The Great Depression’s despair, and they feared the fascist scourge engulfing Europe could affect them back home. They were ordinary people – working class, students, teachers, artists, dancers, athletes, the unemployed and others unified in a common belief that it’s “better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”

Most were members of the Young Communist League (CP). They allied with Industrial Workers of the World members (“Wobblies”), socialists forming their own (Eugene) Debs Column, and unaffiliated others. They were all committed in a common struggle. Some sought escape from The Great Depression, others went to fight for a better world unavailable at home, but all wanted to defeat fascism and risked their lives to do it. They also risked arrest or recrimination back home by defying a State Department prohibition against traveling to Spain so by doing it they broke the law.

It was worth it for what many saw as the quintessential struggle between democracy and tyranny. British author, social critic and journalist Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell, felt the same. He went to Spain in 1936 to be with the Republican side and joined with the POUM coalition. He later wrote about it in what some call his finest work – “Homage to Catalonia.” It sold just 50 copies in his lifetime, but another to it with a copy owned, read and admired long ago by this writer. It was more about social revolution than a civil war and centrally about tyranny against socially democratic forces on the left.

The allied groups on both sides, however, had their own agendas. On the left, the socialists (POUM) wanted a worker-controlled government, the communists (PSUC) a centralized one, and the Anarchists/Anarchosyndicalists (CNT) one that was decentralized. On the right, Franco loyalists wanted a fascist Spain like in Germany and Italy, latifundistas (big landowners) wanted a feudal system, and the Roman Catholic Church supported the monarchy and had its own elitist, pro-fascist conservative agenda.

The “Lincolns,” wanted democratic freedom and fascism defeated. Its volunteers became known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade although fighting units chose their own names and identities. In keeping with the “Popular Front” culture, they became part of the Fifteenth International Brigade along with nationals from other countries. They called themselves the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, the George Washington Battalion, and the John Brown Battery that included 125 doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and technicians with the American Medical Bureau. They were all volunteers for a noble cause and among them was the first ever racially integrated unit in US history and first one ever led by a black commander. Most never fired a rifle or had military training, but they were committed to learn and they did fast.

They also practiced what they believed in the ranks and created an egalitarian “peoples’ army.” Rank-and-file soldiers at times elected their own officers and generally shunned traditional military protocol. With them were well-known, or aspiring, writers, artists, composers and filmmakers, including James Lardner (son of Ring Lardner Sr.), Joseph Vogel, Ralph Fasanella, Conlon Nancarrow, Edwin Rolfe, Alvah Bessie, Phil Bard, William Lindsay Gresham and famed author Ernest Hemingway. He supported the “Popular Front,” went to Spain in 1937 to report on the war, and spent most of it with the International Brigades.

After the war in 1940, he wrote his famous novel, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” It became a Hollywood film in 1943 and was the top box office hit of the year even though it failed to tell what really happened on the ground. It’s the story of a young American in the International Brigades attached to an anti-fascist guerilla unit. The novel’s theme is how the main characters react to the prospect of death in a struggle for their vision and how they bond and are willing to die for its sake. It was how Hemingway felt. He spoke publicly on it to raise money for the Republican side he supported.

The “Lincolns” fought bravely and took casualties, including at the town of Brunete near Madrid where half its contingent was wiped out. But they gave as much as they took until Republican forces began losing later in 1938. It took a great toll on both sides, including on the International Brigades as the war continued. It finally ended for the “Lincolns” and other International Brigades volunteers in late 1938. Spanish Prime Minister Juan Negrin struck a futile deal with Hitler to repatriate captured forces and ordered them withdrawn. He didn’t understanding what others later learned that Hitler didn’t make deals. He imposed them.

Of the 2800 “Lincolns,” around one-third perished. Survivors came home heros, got no official recognition for their efforts, were lucky to escape recrimination for breaking the law, but were later harassed and hounded as explained below.

One survivor was its last commander – freedom-fighter, novelist and well-known peace and civil rights activist Milton Wolff. Hemingway described him as “23 years old, tall as Lincoln, gaunt as Lincoln, and as brave and as good a soldier as any that commanded battalions at Gettysburg. He is alive and unhit by the same hazard that leaves one tall palm tree standing where a hurricane has passed.” He was part of Spain’s bloodiest battles at Brunete, Quinto and Belchite but managed to emerge unscathed.

Wolff arrived in Spain in 1937, trained as a medic, became a machine gunner with the Washington Battalion and then its leader. When Commander Dave Reiss was killed, Wolff took over and led its great offensive across the Ebro and Sierra Pandols. He then went home when the International Brigades left Spain in 1938 but continued fighting fascism as an activist, speaker and novelist in spite of being branded a “premature anti-fascist” and getting caught up in the post-WW II anti-communist hysteria. It affected anyone of prominence who was accused of leftist leanings along with many other “Lincolns” hounded by the FBI, Committee on UnAmerican Activities, and Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB). They lost their jobs and were prosecuted under the Smith Act and state sedition laws although few had convictions hold up.

This was how a nation that defeated fascism rewarded them and then wiped them from the historical record for added shame. They’re remembered, however, in the official Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA). The effort was founded in 1979 by Lincoln Brigade living veterans as an “educational and humanitarian organization devoted to the preservation and dissemination of the history of the North American role in the Spanish Civil War….and its aftermath.”

It’s committed to preserving the memory and record of these heroic freedom fighters and their sacrifices by “continually expanding archival collections in exhibitions, educational programs, publications, and performances (to preserve) the legacy of activism and commitment as an inspiration for present and future generations in working conscientiously and effectively toward a better and more just society” – the one “Lincolns” fought and died for 70 years ago without success.

On the eve of the great war, the Spanish Republic ended on April 1, 1939 when Madrid fell to the Nationalists and then Valencia. It held out under great pressure but gave it up the next day. In the end, the revolution failed from its own divergent ideologies and internal conflicts. They frustrated Orwell enough to say “Why can’t we drop all of this political nonsense and get on with the war.” It also lost to a more powerful Nationalist force that outmanned and outgunned them because Hitler and Mussolini supplied many more aircraft, artillery pieces, tanks, bombs, small arms and ammunition to give Franco the edge.

It let him outlast Spanish Republican forces that got less aid from the Soviet Union while countries like Great Britain, France and the US stayed technically neutral. But a careful look shows otherwise. Britain and France refused to supply arms or assist the Republican side. Even FDR’s government was duplicitous. It pressured the Martin Aircraft Company not to honor an agreement made prior to the 1936 insurrection to sell aircraft to the Republic and also strong-armed Mexico not to ship Republicans war materials that were bought in the US for that purpose. The Mexican government complied and instead sent some financial aid.

Roosevelt said companies supplying the Republic were unpatriotic, but had no such feeling for those trading with the Nationalists like General Motors and the Texas Company, now part of oil giant Chevron. It cancelled contracts with Republicans but sold oil to Franco much like the dealings Charles Highham described in his 1983 book, “Trading with the Enemy.” He documented how US corporations like Chase Bank, Standard Oil, Ford, GM and IBM did business with the Nazis in WW II in direct violation of the law. They betrayed their country and got away with it.

The Spirit of the “Lincolns” in the Age of George Bush

In their day, “Lincolns” were anti-fascist freedom-fighters who are still respected by their admirers. Since the Reagan era, however, they’d be called “terrorists” because they oppose unfettered capitalism and all its harshness.

Reagan launched his war on “international terrorism” that was a precursor for what lay ahead. In 1981, his Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, announced the new administration would shift from Jimmy Carter’s so-called “human rights” agenda to one focused on anti-terrorism without saying what it was or that it existed. Unexplained then or now is that the US is the world’s leading exponent of the very scourge it claims to oppose. Empires have that privilege. They get to have it both ways. They make the rules that others ignore at their peril.

They weigh on many today under George Bush who makes Reagan’s era look tame by comparison. Post-9/11, the administration declared permanent war on the world without boundaries in space and time that won’t end in our lifetime. It’s against any designated countries we target with ones with the most energy reserves and independent leaders topping the list.

It isn’t just countries that are in jeopardy. Any group, organization or individual qualifies if they dare challenge US dominance or have views opposing ours. As an anti-fascist group, the “Lincolns” would be targeted because they wanted democratic freedom, not tyranny. During the Great Depression and rise of Nazism, they were galvanized to go to Spain to “make Madrid the tomb of fascism.” They’d now target Washington, their struggle would be nonviolent, but it would put them at risk in an unfriendly environment to dissent and a passion to express it.

Today, there’s a serious threat at home no different from the extremist ideology “Lincolns” fought against in Spain – the scourge of fascism now in America. It mirrors the Nazi kind that was based on corporatism, patriotism and nationalism; a claimed messianic Almightly-directed mission; authoritarian rule; bipartisan support; iron-fisted militarism; and thuggish “homeland security” enforcers.

It illegally spies on everyone, conducts warrantless searches and seizures, makes unwarranted mass arrests and incarcerations, and can designate anyone, anywhere for any reason an “unlawful enemy combatant” with no corroborating evidence needed. It tolerates no dissent at a time the law is what the executive says it is, and checks and balances, separation of powers, and equal justice for all no longer exist. It’s called fascism, despotism or tyranny that masquerades as a model democracy in an America only beautiful for the privileged, no one else. It’s what “Lincolns” fought against in Spain, now threatening the US 70 years later.

The dominant media support it and are part of the problem. They use hard right commentators, pundits, and talk show hosts like CNN’s Glenn Beck who also hosts a nationally syndicated radio program as a platform for his type extremism. Media giant Time Warner put him in prime time (starting May, 2006) to boost ratings and billed him as “an unconventional look at the news.” It barely disguises a hateful hard right agenda. Beck is one of many right wing hawks. He and the others attack anyone opposing the “war on terror” that includes the Bush agenda of iron-fisted militarism, permanent war, repression at home, and gutting social services so the most vulnerable are on their own and out of luck.

Muslims top their target list in the age of “terror.” They’re demonized mercilessly on-air overtly and by innuendo as well as being harassed and persecuted through mass witch-hunt roundups, detentions, prosecutions and deportations. So are Latino immigrants with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shock troops the enforcers and media hosts like Lou Dobbs fully supportive. This writer called him “CNN’s Vice-President of Racism” in an August, 2006 article that included others like him. They target others anyone voicing dissent at a time getting along demands going along.

The “Lincolns” would be targets if they were active and similar groups as well. They’d be savaged in a typical Beck comment like this one about Muslims: “We need to be….lining up to shoot the bad Muslims (meaning all of them) in the head (and) with God as my witness….human beings are not strong enough, unfortunately, to restrain themselves from putting up razor wire (meaning concentration camps, Nazi-style) and putting you (Muslims) on one side of it….(meaning locked up inside).”

He’s serious and is backed by an administration targeting any perceived opposition with hardball tactics that include secretly constructed homeland concentration camps. They’re for tens of thousands of aliens and anyone considered a threat to absolute rule.

It’s extremely threatening because all media giants are supportive. They fill their programming with Beck-like people while opposition voices are silenced. The scheme is to instill fear and demand loyalty of a government that may have in mind ending the republic, replacing it with tyranny, and it’s arguable they’ve already done it.

Renown print journalist George Seldes saw it emerge during the golden New Deal era under Franklin Roosevelt. If fascism threatened then, its could happen any time, and no democracy is secure without constant vigilance. Seldes monitored it around the world as a foreign correspondent and at home. He was one of the great independent journalists of his time and did what’s practically extinct today outside alternative spaces.

In his 1934 book “Iron, Blood and Profits,” he wrote about a “world-wide munitions racket” citing WW I militarists and weapons makers in Europe and America as proof. Fascism was spreading in Europe, and he saw it emerging in America with powerful corporatists behind it. They included munitions makers, industrialists and Wall Street bankers promoting wars for profits. Seldes called them “merchants of death” financing “patriotic organizations” promoting “imperialism (and) colonization – by means of war….the healthfulness of their business depends on slaughter. The more wars (they got) the richer the profits.”

They traded with the enemy, sabotaged disarmament efforts, promoted war scares in newspapers, supported dictators, and lobbied and bribed government officials for continued conflict. “The war to end all wars” was just a slogan as new dark forces arose in the 1930s.

Seldes returned to the theme in his 1943 book, “Facts and Fascism,” that explained “Fascism on the Home Front” in the book’s Part One called “The Big Money and Big Profits in Fascism.” In Parts Two and Three, he went into “Native Fascist Forces” in US industry and the media of his day that had far less reach and influence than now.

Seldes was an archetype crusading journalist. He was a “witness to a century” (the title of his 1987 book) until he died in 1995 at age 104. He saw it all by covering the greats and infamous like Benito Mussolini who expelled him for exposing truths he wanted suppressed. So did Lenin after Seldes interviewed him in 1922. He was very hostile to Seldes’ honesty that was forbidden by Russian journalists.

Seldes also covered the Spanish Civil War and believed it was a dress rehearsal for World War II. In “Facts and Fascism” he wrote: “Fascism in Spain was bought and paid for by numerous elements who would profit by the destruction of the democratic Republican Loyalist government.” He cited generals wanting glory, the right wing conservative Catholic Church, the aristocracy wanting the old order back, and the “force of (big) Money” in Europe and America that wouldn’t let social democracy interfere with business. He named names, knew the risks, but was a rare journalist who did what few others ever do – their job.

Seldes passed before the George Bush era, and the “Lincolns” are just a memory in the ALBA archives collection at New York University’s Tamiment Library. It’s the largest and most important resource available for study that includes their papers, oral histories, films, photos, posters, and selections of the microfilmed records of the International Brigades. They’re maintained to preserve a historic record of their achievements, memory and spirit and as an inspiration to others. They represent courageous freedom-fighters who volunteered to fight and die for equality, justice and social democracy. It’s never handed to us, is always imperiled, and is only gotten and kept when men and women like “Lincolns” risk everything for it. That spirit more than ever is needed now with America’s freedom imperiled.

Sinclair Lewis feared it in his 1935 novel, “It Can’t Happen Here.” It was about a charismatic self-styled reformer, populist and champion of the common man senator who became president. It was all a front to hide his alliance with corporate interests and the religious extremists of his day. He takes full advantage of The Great Depression, supports a strong military, and gets unconstitutional laws passed during a national emergency. He further convenes military tribunals for dissenters who are called unpatriotic and traitors.

Fast forward to the current era when we’re all potential “unlawful enemy combatants,” there are no freedom-fighting “Lincolns,” and the threat of full-blown tyranny may be one more real or contrived “terrorist” attack away. Stopping it needs the same spirit of sacrifice “Lincolns” made when they risked everything abroad for what they wanted at home. Something to reflect on over the holidays. Something to act on in the new year.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on www.TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US Central time.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7683


Spain: The Monarchy’s clash with Socialism by Pablo Ouziel

“Stand fast and fight to the last”: The Spanish Anarchist Collectives by Rich

Anarchy made easy by Rich

El águila y la gaviota (video) (Fraga; Spain; Fascists)

Exclusive: Blair’s chameleonic path to divinity by Trevor Murphy

by Trevor Murphy
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
Dec 26, 2007

Friday 21st December 2007, Tony Blair converted to Catholicism at the private London chapel of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’ Connor, the head of the Catholic church in England and Wales. Murphy O’ Connor said later “I’m very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church”. Obviously Mr Blair’s stance on genocide, gay issues, abortion haven’t affected his right of passage into the church. Continue reading

The Greed Stampede by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Margolis
December 24, 2007

NEW YORK – Western nations have been rightly scourging China for flooding world markets with toxic food, toys, nutritional products, clothing and other tainted goods. China’s government closed its eyes to this malefaction.

But meanwhile, Wall Street was exporting toxic financial instruments called sub-prime mortgages around the globe. Washington’s regulatory monkeys saw no more evil than those in Beijing.

Here’s how the sub-prime mess developed. A single mother, say in East St Louis, was peddled an initially low interest adjustable mortgage by a flim-flam broker. When rates rose sharply, she couldn’t pay and was forced to abandon the home she should never have bought to begin with. Multiply this little human tragedy by hundreds of thousands, and, voilà, the spreading sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Meanwhile, the world’s leading financial institutions built a $500 billion to $1 trillion house of cards based on these sleazy mortgages. They were bundled, chopped up like stolen cars, and peddled everywhere as secure, high-yielding American securities.

Once the sub-prime crisis broke, banks holding such ‘Chinese paper,’ to use an old Wall Street term, panicked. Not only couldn’t they find any more stupid buyers, the wildly inflated values they gave these securities turned out to be totally bogus. This, in turn, gravely undermined the asset base of lending institutions holding ‘Chinese paper.’

Britain’s Northern Rock (aka ‘Northern Wreck’) suffered a run on the bank and is now clinically dead. CIBC lost up to $2 billion. Two of the world’s biggest banks, Citicorp and UBS, lost $9 and $10 billion respectively. They nearly capsized, and had to be rescued by Gulf Arabs and Singapore. Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley face $9-10 billion of write-downs. More banks will soon reveal billions of losses, all thanks to `innovate finance.’

How could the brightest Wall Street’s financiers, who claim unrivaled expertise in managing client’s assets, be so stupid and incompetent?

After the flu and bad taste, few diseases are more contagious than greed. So began the greed stampede as Wall Street bulls charged into the sub-prime Valley of Death.

Blame begins with the Bush Administration. Faced with hugely expensive foreign wars and the dot com bubble, the White House got Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to nearly nothing. This produced the monster property bubble that is now bursting. Cheap credit became a dangerous drug, financial `speed’ arousing false economic euphoria that helped keep Republicans in power and fueled swarms of unregulated, parasitic hedge funds.

Rock bottom US interest rates made bankers and investors search out higher paying investments. Sub-prime mortgages were Wall Street’s answer. In a giant Ponzi scheme, new investor money was used to pay off old investors, building a giant pyramid that collapsed this past fall.

The US Federal Reserve, which is supposed to regulate mortgages, failed its duty. So did other US financial regulators, like Treasury and the SEC. They, and auditing firms, allowed banks to egregiously misvalue their mortgage holdings and create `conduits’ and `off balance sheet’ vehicles that were new forms of accounting fraud.

Many bankers and managers simply failed to understand the mind-numbing complexity of financial derivatives. President George Bush lauded `the new finance’ as the model of Republican economic policy. It turned out to be – the financial equivalent of Iraq. Worryingly, no one knows how much the world’s rickety financial structure now depends on these arcane financial alchemies. We enter 2008 threatened by the prospect of new financial earthquakes and recession.

Instead of facing fraud indictment, CEO’s of the big peddlers of `Chinese paper’ got millions worth of golden handshakes, or raises. While government was busy prosecuting Conrad Black over $3 million, the public was defrauded of tens of billions. No one has yet been prosecuted for these outrageous crimes.

If there was a time for government to justify its existence, it’s now. Prosecute the sub-prime fraudsters, from salesmen to CEO’s. Forget golden handshakes. They deserve steel handcuffs.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Susan Faludi: The Terror Dream: Fear & Fantasy in Post-9/11 America (video)

Dandelion Salad

pdxjustice Media Productions
1 hr 3 min 59 sec – Oct 19, 2007

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the bestselling BACKLASH: THE UNDECLARED WAR AGAINST AMERICAN WOMEN, Susan Faludi, examines America’s psychological response to the 9/11 attacks.

Continue reading