Defeated in Iraq? By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/30/08 “ICH”

Look for it at the pawn shops, the homeless shelters, and the growing number of empty sub-divisions

The United States did not invade Iraq to “stop the violence”. That was never the goal. So, it’s foolish to say that the surge achieved its objective. It hasn’t. Nor has the surge “created the space for a political solution”; another meaningless slogan regurgitated endlessly by the Bush troupe. The political agenda in Iraq has failed utterly. We know that because the Shiite-led government has asked the US to leave “as soon as possible” and for the Bush administration to set a “timetable for withdrawal”. Not a “time horizon” as the administration-spinmiesters like to say; a Timetable, which means a fixed time when the United States must leave. So, if the Iraqi government has asked the US to leave; where is the “political solution” the surge was supposed to create? There isn’t one. The mission has failed; it’s as plain as day. This is not an arguable point.

What the surge really proves is that ethnic cleansing works. Baghdad was a city of roughly 65% Sunnis. Now it is nearly 75% Shiites. Most of the million or so Iraqis who have been killed in the conflict, and most of the 4 million who are either internally displaced or have become refugees, are probably Sunnis. This is an important point and one that Americans should understand. The surge was created to disguise what was really taking place on the ground; ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. No one disputes this. The Sunnis have been effectively purged from the capital. That’s not a “political solution”. It is a war crime.

More important, the United States military has helped the Shiites win their war against the Sunnis. The Shiites control Baghdad now; the Sunnis will never get it back. That is why they are moving on to the next phase of their strategy, which is to demand that the foreign troops leave. So, at least in one respect the surge has worked; it has helped the Shiites and their allies in Tehran win the war. Bush has helped to strengthen Ahmadinejad. Was that the objective?

The Shiites have no experience running the government. That’s always been the Sunnis role dating back hundreds of years. That does not mean they are incapable of leadership, it simply means that the Bush administration decided to break with traditional imperial policy to pursue their colonial ambitions. Normally, imperial powers choose to remove just a few hundred of the top political leaders and leave the existing system in place so the society keeps functioning with as little disruption as possible.

Not Bush. Bush chose to raze the country to the ground; rip-apart the social fabric, destroy the critical infrastructure, and spread chaos far and wide. Now, as author Nir Rosen says, “Iraq no longer exists”. By conceding control of the government to the Shiites, Bush has not established democracy, but anarchy and sectarian hatred. The idea of creating a “Shiite Crescent” in the Middle East is part of a wacky theory cooked up in a Washington think-tank. Imagine if the Russians invaded the United States and decided that the quickest path to political stability was to wipe out the government, disband the bureaucracy, and appoint inexperienced people from the poorer sections of the inner-cities and barrios to run the country. This is the level of stupidity in the Bush administration. The strategy has cost the lives of over a million Iraqis. That’s a high price for stupidity.

There was never the slightest chance that the US would succeed in establishing strategic outposts in the heart of the Arab world. It was doomed from the get-go. The Bush administration points to the temporary lull in the violence as a sign of progress, but they are mistaken. They’re using the wrong yardstick. The Iraqi resistance has achieved what every guerrilla army hopes to achieve; they have undermined their enemy’s ability to wage war. The US is facing growing resistance to its imperial policies around the world, but it can’t address those problems because its army is tied down in Iraq. This is quickly becoming one of the main areas of disagreement in the 2008 political campaign. The world is drifting away from the United States and it isn’t coming back whether Obama or McCain are elected. The superpower model of global government is on its way out.

The real way to measure success or failure in Iraq is to look at the US fiscal budget which has suddenly skyrocketed to nearly $500 billion. This is mainly due to the exorbitant costs of prosecuting an open-ended conflict in the Middle East. The American consumer is not confused by the surge rhetoric; he knows we are losing. He’s not blind. He sees evidence of defeat every time he pulls up to a gas-pump. Tell me: Is $4 dollar per gallon gas a sign of victory or defeat? This isn’t rocket science.

Once again, the individual battles and skirmishes in Iraq are meaningless; what matters is that America’s ability to wage war has been greatly undermined. By the end of 2009, the troops will begin to withdraw or they will be left to fight with sling-shots and bows-and-arrows. The housing market is collapsing, the financial system is in meltdown phase, and the country is facing the greatest funding crisis in its 230 year history. Don’t look for proof of America’s defeat in Iraq. Look for it at home. Look for it at the pawn shops, the homeless shelters, and the growing number of empty sub-divisions which have turned into ghost towns. This is where one can see the true costs of the war; a war that was lost before the first bomb was dropped.
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Congress Probes How New Sports Stadiums Turn Public Money into Private Profit

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!

July 30, 2008

Field of Schemes: Congress Probes How New Sports Stadiums Turn Public Money into Private Profit

A congressional committee is investigating whether New York City and the New York Yankees wildly inflated the value of the site for the team’s new stadium to float nearly $1 billion in tax-free bonds.

Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

MP3 Download

transcript

Guests:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, chair of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

Bettina Damiani, Project Director of Good Jobs New York

Neil deMause, Author of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. His website is Field of Schemes

see

Ralph Nader: New York Yankees Stadium Funding

Dennis Kucinich Responds to Nancy Pelosi’s Statements

Dandelion Salad

videocafeblog

Dennis Kucinich on Democracy Now responding to the statements that Nancy Pelosi made on The View about impeachment.

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***

Democracy Now!

July 30, 2008

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Defends Her Opposition to Impeachment: “If Somebody Had a Crime that the President Had Committed, That Would Be a Different Story.”

On Monday, Rep. Pelosi appeared on ABC’s The View and suggested impeachment is off the table because there is no evidence President Bush has committed any criminal acts. We ask Rep. Dennis Kucinich for a response. Kucinich recently introduced a single article of impeachment against President Bush. The article accuses Bush of deceiving Congress to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

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transcript

see

The surge means CHARGE! by Bruce Gagnon

Impeachment Petition Deadline Wednesday at Midnight (Action Alert)

Take Action – Sign the Petition for Impeachment

Kucinich gets his day

Countdown: The In-House Network + Judiciary Hearing + Worst

Kucinich Testifies on Abuses of Executive Power (text)

Hearing on Limits of Executive Power: Vincent Bugliosi

Executive Power & the Bush Administration (hearing)

Impeach

Mosaic News – 7/29/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

For more: http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“Non-Aligned Movement Holds Summit in Tehran,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Israel And Syria: Peace Talks in Turkey,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Syria Calls for Ending the State of War with Israel,” LBC TV, Lebanon
“Somali Oppostion Splits,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Asian Wokers Strike in Kuwait,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Operation in Diala Province,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Contractor’s Fraud in Iraq,” New TV, Lebanon
“Israel to Form New Government,” IBA TV, Lebanon
“Mourning Youssef Chahine,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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There’s Something About Mary: Unmasking a Gun Lobby Mole

Dandelion Salad

By James Ridgeway, Daniel Schulman, and David Corn
http://www.motherjones.com/
July 30, 2008

This is the story of two Marys. Both are in their early 60s, heavyset, with curly reddish hair. But for years they have worked on opposite ends of the same issues. Mary McFate is an advocate of environmental causes and a prominent activist within the gun control movement. For more than a decade, she volunteered for various gun violence prevention organizations, serving on the boards of anti-gun outfits, helping state groups coordinate their activities, lobbying in Washington for gun control legislation, and regularly attending strategy and organizing meetings.

Mary Lou Sapone, by contrast, is a self-described “research consultant,” who for decades has covertly infiltrated citizens groups for private security firms hired by corporations that are targeted by activist campaigns. For some time, Sapone also worked for the National Rifle Association.

But these two Marys share a lot in common—a Mother Jones investigation has found that McFate and Sapone are, in fact, the same person. And this discovery has caused the leaders of gun violence prevention organizations to conclude that for years they have been penetrated—at the highest levels—by the NRA or other pro-gun parties. “It raises the question,” says Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “of what did she find out and what did they want her to find out.”

…continued

Murder In The Cathedral by Gaither Stewart

Gaither Stewart
by Gaither Stewart
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

July 30, 2008

Murder In The Cathedral

or

How the Sainthood of the Archbishop Became the Epiphany of the King

The worldwide influence of the Roman Catholic Church emanates from the Holy See, the Church’s central government headed by the Pope, physically located within the territory of the Vatican State inside the city of Rome with a population of 821. The Holy See has diplomatic relations with world nations which maintain two separate embassies in Rome: one to Italy and one to the Holy See! Now why the hell, one wonders, should Argentina or the USA, China or Gabon maintain diplomatic relations with a church? Likewise the Holy See has embassies around the world, the nunciatures, while from day to day, from year to year, insists on meddling in Italy’s and world affairs. After his election as Pope in 2006, one of the first acts of Benedict XVI was a triumphant cortege through the streets of “Italy”, just across the Tiber River from the Vatican.

(Rome) One Sunday morning in the unlikely setting of the residential wasteland of Queens, NY, a friend I only thought I had known cited the famous quote of T.S. Eliot, words, he said, that had changed his life. As we lumbered through the barren streets of a non-descript neighborhood of non-descript houses and miniscule front yards of dry yellow grass, he suddenly took my arm and apropos of nothing pronounced:

“The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

To the two young men walking through dismal Queens, both inebriated with the hubris of youth and morning vodka, two doubters unmindful of even the possibility of God and the debate raging about it, those words spoken in the suburban desert rang simple and humbling, menacing and earth-shaking. Silence followed. Neither of us commented.

I have never seen the play performed and of the film of the same name I recall chiefly the scenes of debauchery of two young friends of 12th century England, one a King, the other his Chancellor. But, the text of Murder in the Cathedral is enduring, as befits a Nobel writer (1948). From time to time I pull out the azure and deep red Faber & Faber edition of the book, anxiously awaiting the lines I first heard on that hot Queens street. In these spring days of Pope Benedict’s bid for more and more temporal power and after seeing a documentary on the tragedy of the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, I repeated that old ceremony.

Maybe you have to live in Rome to be aware that the church-state struggle not only continues but has intensified. The Roman Catholic Church seems to see temporal power as the chief aim of its ministry on earth. In any case, without any pretences of literary criticism on my part, I find that Eliot’s play is an auspicious start for a look at the age-old struggle. Though much has been written about the issue and I fear I will not find much original to say, the importance today of the subject of secular vs. religious power justifies the effort … also for the reader. So, pray stay with me.

Perhaps it is a matter of approach, which I intend changing: unlike T.S. Eliot I am more interested in the social aims of King Henry II than in the qualms of conscience of Archbishop Thomas Becket.

The Event

In 1163, the two friends, Thomas Becket (1118-1170), Archbishop of Canterbury and the English King, Henry II (1133-1189), quarreled over the respective power roles of church and state. So stormy and furious was the dispute that Becket subsequently escaped to France to rally support for the Catholic Church against the pressures of the State of Henry II. Seven years later, after an apparent reconciliation with his old friend Henry, he returned to England only to be murdered in his Canterbury cathedral by four of Henry’s knights.

His assassination foreshadowed similar political murders of Martin Luther King and of Archbishop Oscar Romero at the altar of a chapel in El Salvador in 1980, both murdered by reactionary death squads sponsored by the local oligarchy in cahoots with US military and intelligence operatives. Like Becket’s early relationship with the King, Oscar Romero was at first considered an ally of the ruling oligarchy of El Salvador in the grip of US imperialism. After he was named Archbishop in 1977, mounting repression, attacks on the clergy, murders of priests and the misery of the poor changed his views. Romero became a spokesman for the poor and the message of Liberation Theology so despised and feared by the popes of Rome. Oscar Romero boycotted the new President’s inauguration on July 1, 1977, denying him the blessing of the Catholic Church, and declared the election invalid. Romero outlined in a sermon a moral justification for mutiny against state power. As Thomas had intimated 800 years earlier, Romero said: “If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. If the threats come to be fulfilled, from this moment I offer my blood to God for the redemption and resurrection of El Salvador. Let my blood be a seed of freedom.”

Finally in 1997 the procedure for his canonization began. Though he is widely called San Romero in El Salvador, a martyr for the faith, the Roman Church still drags its feet. Joseph Ratzinger, or Pope Benedict XVI, has no love for Liberation Theology which he fought tooth and nail. Recently the Pope said cryptically that Romero “merits beatification”, a statement since deleted from official transcripts. Meanwhile controversial figures such as Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, head of Opus Dei and the Italian mystic Padre Pio who claimed he healed the blind have recently become saints.

In the England of Henry II, the Crown and the Church were at war for supremacy. Thomas was weaker and had to die, a martyr’s death. Three years later he was canonized and pilgrims flocked to his tomb, including a repentant Henry II himself, in search of epiphany.

The reality was less a story of martyrdom—which Thomas in Eliot’s play viewed suspiciously as a human weakness—than it is a story of a political assassination, relevant in all times, as in the USA, as in El Salvador. While Romero’s assassination was in the name of capitalist imperialism, Thomas was murdered by the State of King Henry II in order to supplant Church law with his State courts and trial by jury (especially in the case of criminal clerics who normally escaped real punishment in church courts) and constitutional and legal reforms—the wrong thing though for the right reason.

Eliot’s play—and his view—is thus not just about the murder of Thomas à Becket. It is also about standing up for what is right in the face of the temptations of both power and glory. Henry expected Thomas to allow him to exploit his friendship and his church title in order to abuse the power of the Church for the benefit of the State. Thomas refused—a courageous display of not giving into power’s pressures. Here, the right thing for the wrong reason!

In our lives we don’t have someone as powerful as Henry II breathing down our necks (not yet, at least). But we do face moral challenges. How to say No … at the risk of being different? Join the majority or dare to remain independent? Display your intelligence or be “cool” all-American and act dumb?

As Oscar Romero showed, power struggles are not all the same. But the issues in this play are disturbingly real and perilously relevant to today’s world: man’s nearly meaningless place in the conflicts of the era of authoritarian military-industrial power combined confusedly with the churches of philistine fundamentalism, God-is-on-our-side hypocrisy dominating human affairs.

On the first level, Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral is a play in verse about the dangers of temptations on the way to sainthood or power. Thomas Becket resisted several temptations coupled with cajolery and threat. He is offered a return to political power alongside King Henry while at the same time he is accused of disloyalty to the nation and his ecclesiastical office and threatened physically. He is tempted with a return to his halcyon youth with his friend Henry, and the concomitant danger of being forgotten by history.

Though tempted by sainthood and lured by power, Thomas sees martyrdom and pleasure as human weaknesses. To the tempters he responds with those famous words:

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain;
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

Temporal Power

The temporal power of the Roman Catholic Church refers to the political and governmental activities of the Church as distinguished from its spiritual mission, its eternal power in contrast to secular power.

As Dostoevsky showed in The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor, centuries after Jesus Christ a world church grew up in His name. The Popes of Rome named themselves His vicars on earth. The former Papal States in Italy which included Rome had achieved the status of a country with relations with other countries. When on Christmas day in the year 800 the Pope crowned Charlemagne Emperor, the Church gained power over the entire Holy Roman Empire. Church and State were one. In our times, though officially separated, Church and State are often one. Temporal power remains distant from religious doctrine and the pastoral mission, its temporal bent is in fact one of the Church’s worst aspects. Despite the Church’s explanation that temporal power is one of those unavoidable bridges that must be crossed in order to disseminate the Catholic faith, what can the doctrine of Jesus Christ have to do with power on earth? Besides, over and over again religions have shown they have no capacity whatsoever for temporal power.

We don’t have to go far to see the proof in practice today in the exercise of power in the USA under the sway of the mystical sort of Americanistic religious persuasion bordering on voodooism infected with the disease of false religion.

As Henry II had done before him, Napoleon abolished the Church’s temporal power and in his conquests dissolved the Papal States as natural rivals for power. Temporal power was then restored to the Church by the Congress of Vienna of 1815 when Napoleonic laws were abolished. Immediately the reactionary Church back in power returned to the destruction of modern improvements, forcing society back to medieval days, in Italy banning vaccination against smallpox which then devasted Papal lands. The Jews were again locked in the Rome ghetto, while the Church’s historic neglect of the environment made of Latium—except for rich Papal estates—the most godforsaken and abandoned part of Italy.

Finally, the new Italian Republic which united the diverse states of the peninsula declared an end to the Papal States. Formally, the Church’s temporal power ended in 1929 with a treaty, the Concordat, between the Vatican State and Italy, according to which the papacy was to have no more political interests in Italy and the rest of the world.

Did its meddling end? Not by a long shot. The influence of the Roman Church continues to be worldwide. It has diplomatic relations with many nations of the world, which maintain in Rome two embassies: one to Italy and one to the Holy See! Now what the hell is the Roman Church doing with embassies? And why should Argentina or the USA, Gabon or China, maintain diplomatic relations with a church? And from day to day, from year to year, from election to election, the Church continues to meddle in Italy’s and world affairs. After he was elected Pope in 2006, one of the first acts of Benedict XVI was a triumphant cortege in “Italy”, just across the Tiber River from the Vatican.

Since then the Bavarian Pope and his bishops pressure Italy on a spectrum of civil issues such as marriage and the role of the family, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage and all progressive legislation. Internationally, the Pope makes statements in favor of peace but carefully refrains from serious criticism of the United States from where come substantial funds to pay for the huge Church bureaucracy. In ethics, the Church line is the “defense of life” in all its aspects. But during his recent visit to the USA, Pope Benedict didn’t take strong positions against capital punishment there.

Faith and Politics

Before shifting my point of view to Henry, a few words about Eliot’s faith and a guess at his reasons for writing this powerful text, the second and underlying level of his play. The question is germane. Though he embraced Christianity, one wonders if Eliot really believed? In his play, King Henry only hovers in the background as the representation of Thomas’ past of pleasure, the present of contrast and threat, and the mysterious future. Thomas à Becket stands on center stage. As if Eliot were searching in the Archbishop’s psyche for answers about his own faith—the temptations, doubts and hesitations Eliot the super but uncertain intellectual felt about his faith and his choices.

Among spiritual thinkers and seekers, Eliot had read especially Dante and returns to him as often as to Shakespeare. Dante, whose universe is dominated by Satan and whose Hell has much more to do with Church politics and secular politics than religion. Eliot must have known what he would say if only he had faith! If only he lived in a world of faith. In the voice of Thomas Becket in the end seeking to purify his motives for accepting martyrdom, Eliot says it: “I have had a tremor of bliss, a wink of heaven, a whisper, And I would no longer be denied.”

Most certainly the writer had his doubts. Not as Dostoevsky, yet, a tremor. A clairvoyant glimpse toward the future. I believe Eliot wanted to believe but I don’t believe he really believed or even believed he believed. Born to an age of avant-garde thought defined by its rejection of faith in God, Eliot made faith respectable. Yet his faith seems to have been based chiefly on hope. And it was largely aesthetic, prompting Harold Bloom’s remark that T.S. Eliot aspired to the triple identity he claimed of royalist, Christian, and classicist “with considerable bad faith.” In his Notes Toward the Definition of Culture written after World War II, Eliot wrote of religion in the USSR some lines pertinent today, especially the last phrase:

“From the official Russian point of view there are two objections to religion: first, of course, that religion is apt to provide another loyalty than that claimed by the State; and second, that there are several religions in the world still firmly maintained by many believers. The second objection is perhaps even more serious than the first: for where there is only one religion, it is always possible that that religion may be subtly altered, so that it will enjoin conformity rather than stimulate resistance to the State.” (my italics)

Or the concomitant danger of conformity of the State to religion, he might have added, to reflect the case of puritan America.

You can encounter those super believers anywhere, those supercilious religious people who feel superior, convinced that God sustains their actions. The result is the disconcerting assurance that the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan are holy and that war crimes are just. In their view the just war is a religious war. Religious wars are just. Religion is at the heart of many of history’s wars. The fundamentalist Fascist State has always used religion as a tool to manipulate people. The organized religions through which Power works become malleable tools for perpetrating the crime of wars of conquest. This is not necessarily the fault of the religious impulse in human beings. It is the fault of organized religion which today justifies the odious slogans of “our way of life” and “they (the others) hate our freedoms.” It is the way the self-proclaimed vicars of Christ exploit organized religion.

If not for Eliot’s own religious hang-up, his play Murder In the Cathedral could have centered on politics, not morality and religion. Instead the play is seen strictly from the Church’s point of view.

In that sense the murder of Thomas Becket at Canterbury was of less importance then than the assassination of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador today. Thomas’ was in fact more a rogue killing by soldiers who thought they were carrying out what their King wanted done. Maybe Becket died from an act of stupidity—which was most certainly not the case of the murders of Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King. In the latter, power knew exactly what it was doing.

Still, because of the power of the Church in the England of Henry II, murdering an archbishop was a dangerous act. Not so for the perpetrators in the El Salvador of our times where the hierarchy of the Roman Church stood on the side of brutal imperialist-capitalist power. To Eliot and the modern reader, Thomas’ murder was of less importance than the democratic belief that not even the king is above the law. For that reason, I believe, Eliot centered the play on Becket’s motives for sainthood, not on his resistance nor on Henry’s potential quest for redemption, and who knows? perhaps he really hoped for an epiphany. Though the play was written at the time of the rising of Fascism and Nazism in Europe and can be understood also as an individual’s opposition to authority as in the Greek play Antigone, Becket’s internal struggle over his opposition to Henry II is in my reading secondary.

Having come into conflict with secular authority, the Archbishop is visited by a succession of tempters urging him alternately to avoid conflict and give in to the King, or, to seek martyrdom. While three priests consider the rise of temporal power, Becket instead reflects on the inevitability of martyrdom, which, though he embraces it, he also interprets as a sign of his own fatal weakness. Eliot’s Becket thus becomes a Christ figure whose role is the martyr, reflecting the writer’s own quest for faith—aesthetic or genuine, who knows? In any case, like Christ, Eliot’s Becket is led step by step to provoke violence against himself and to submit to it. Self-murder or suicide? Or martyrdom of both suffering and the resulting glory?

Henry II, Great Grandson of the Norman Conqueror

Though the King never appears in Eliot’s play, his shadow is a powerful presence, his power fills Thomas’s past and present. “O Henry, O my King” he laments, while chorus chants: “The King rules.” Yet, though a shadow, the King is human. And Power is real. The priests declaim: “But as for our King, that is another matter.” Or: “Had the King been greater, or had he been weaker Things had perhaps been different for Thomas.”

Though the author T.S. Eliot leaves little room for partisanship, after a time I began to side with the shadow which is King Henry. In real life the King’s his struggles against a strong-willed wife and unruly sons and his relationship with his friend Thomas Becket detract from his accomplishments and lasting influence on Anglo-Saxon judicial systems. Eliot however did not favor the King role at all which the Tempter notes when he offers Thomas eternal glory after a martyr’s death:

“When King is dead, there’s another king,
And one more king is another reign.?
King is forgotten, when another shall come:
Saint and martyr rule from the tomb.”

Henry II improved the affairs of his kingdom, reaching from Scotland to the Pyrenees. Though he failed to subject the Church to his courts, his judicial reforms endured. His centralized system of justice and modern court procedures available replaced the old trial by ordeal. He initiated the concept of “common law” administered by royal courts, thus encroaching on feudal courts and on the jurisdiction of Church courts. He decreed that priests should be tried in royal courts, not in Becket’s ecclesiastical courts.

Henry’s aim was the overthrow of the feudal system, unknowingly paving the way for the role of the bourgeoisie and capitalism and making him an active link in Marx’s historical dialectic. To achieve that he had to control the Church by combining under the crown of England both State and Church. Neither Becket nor the faith could stand in his way. He didn’t eliminate the Church; he absorbed it and used it. For the same reasons modern political leaders of West and East use it, wrapping themselves in religious language and religious issues—our Christian values, our Christian heritage and God is on our side.

Now, a leap ahead of five centuries to the English Revolution and the three civil wars beginning in 1642. Henry II couldn’t know what he was setting in motion and would have been horrified at the results. For the most radical achievements of the English bourgeois revolution were the temporary abolition and permanent weakening of the monarchy, confiscation of both Church and aristocratic estates. Though not a working-class movement with a revolutionary theory, the English Revolution declared the monarchy “unnecessary, burdensome, and dangerous to the liberty, safety and public interest of the people.” Henry’s impulse resulted centuries later in the execution of the King, a redefinition of the English monarchy and the “dangerous and useless” House of Lords, and the proclamation of a republic.

That is not to say that those 17th century men were particularly foresighted. Still, until recent times western men could see our problems in secular terms because our ancestors had put an end to the use of the Church as a persecuting instrument of political masters.

As long as the power of his State was weak, as Henry II understood, the Church could tell people what to believe and how to behave, as does Pope Benedict XVI—I just read he is called in the USA “ B16” as if he were a stratospheric Flying Fortress bomber. For behind the threats and censures of the Church, all the terrors of hell fire are real for its unfree believers-subjects. Under Church control as in El Salvador social and political conflicts became religious conflicts.

In 17th century England the haute bourgeoisie was terrified of the revolutionary torrent it had let loose. It needed a reformed monarchy responsive to its interests, to check the flow of popular feeling. It also needed the Church of England, The fear then was today’s fear: that the people of our world will rise in revolt in mighty numbers against the rotten capitalist order, which as Marx predicted is rapidly hanging itself with its own rope. Religion was truly seen as the “opium of the people.”

For organized religion remains largely the close and inalienable ally of political power.

A second lesson of the historically under-rated English Revolution was the Revolution’s need for organization. Men must choose sides. To decide, they must know what they are fighting for. One learned that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are the first freedoms to fight for. The ruling bourgeoisie needed the people … yet it feared them. Therefore it kept also the monarchy as a check against too much democracy. The condition of the petty bourgeoisie of 17th century England was similar to that of the former middle class in the USA today, where what was once the middle class, filled with all its false consciousness, is dependent on the corrupt system, dominated, crushed and rocked to sleep by the blandishments and rewards given them by the minute upper class.

Therefore, in order to change things, the urgent need for a movement of the lower classes—and an informed and educated class to lead the way—both liberated from the binds of religious fundamentalists in the pay of the system.

Is that not where we are today in the good old USA?

Civilizations and cultures have meanwhile gone their own ways, some helped along the way, some hindered. Revolution to revolution, social progress and social setbacks. Who knows if civilization has really peaked and its time is up? While we battle for survival, the question of social evolution remains open. The State-Church equation is different today. The issue is Power itself, Power in which religion is so enmeshed as to be one and the same with the disastrous results before us.

As Thomas Becket says to the tempter suggesting a return to his past of power and glory, “singing at nightfall, whispering in chambers”:

“We do not know very much of the future
Except that from generation to generation
The same things happen again and again.
Men learn little from others’ experience.
The same time returns. Sever
The cord, shed the scale. Only
The fool, fixed in his folly, may think
He can turn the wheel on which he turns.”

Gaither Stewart is a Senior Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal/tantmieux, a novelist and journalist based in Italy. His collections of fiction, Icy Current Compulsive Course, To Be A Stranger and Once In Berlin are published by Wind River Press. (www.windriverpress.com ). His recent novel, Asheville, is published by Wastelandrunes, (www.wastelandrunes.com).

He lives in Rome.

Published previously at http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/?p=687

see

With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military

Don Siegelman Discusses Karl Rove’s Political Witch Hunt

Dandelion Salad

TheYoungTurks

Watch more at http://www.theyoungturks.com.

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House panel votes to cite Rove for contempt

Rove-Karl

Mukasey Senate Hearing: Siegelman & Rove; Torture

Atty Gen Mukasey testifies before the House Judiciary Ctte

Siegelman-Don

The government’s war against Sami Al-Arian + video

Dandelion Salad

by Nancy Welch
http://socialistworker.org/
July 30, 2008

Dr. Sami Al-Arian, one of the earliest victims of the “war on terror” within the U.S. itself, continues to languish in jail, where he has been since his February 2003 arrest for the “crime” of speaking out on behalf of the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s apartheid.

Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila Al-Arian, is the author, with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, of Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians. A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, she recently joined Al-Jazeera English as a producer. Continue reading

Persecution in the Pacific Northwest + Tasered (video)

Dandelion Salad

Evan Kornfeldt reports on a police attack on nonviolent environmental protesters in Eugene, Ore.
http://socialistworker.org/
July 30, 2008

THE U.S. government is continuing its campaign against the environmental movement in the Pacific Northwest, with the latest attack in Eugene, Ore., on nonviolent protesters demonstrating against pesticide spraying.

About 40 people turned out for a protest in Ken Kesey Square in downtown Eugene on May 30 to speak out against the spraying of pesticides along roadways. Organized by a campus group at the University of Oregon (UO) called Crazy People for Wild Places, the event included protesters wearing Hazmat suits to symbolize the toxic effects of pesticides.

Ian Van Ornum, an 18-year-old UO student, had a sprayer filled with water and a big skull-and-bones drawn on it. He was spraying along the side of the street as an illustration of the dangers of pesticides, when, according to Carly Barnicle, an event organizer, a white van pulled up, and the driver motioned for him to approach.

It was later learned that the driver was an undercover police officer. Van Ornum, who couldn’t have know who the driver was, went up to him and asked an obviously rhetorical question, “Do you want poison sprayed in your face?”

Later, when the demonstration had wound down to 20 people, Sgt. Bill Solesbee of the Eugene Police approached Van Ornum, who was listening to a speaker. According to a criminal complaint filed later, the officer grabbed Van Ornum by the hair, dragged him across the street and then threw him against the ground.

Then, another officer, Jud Warden, tasered Van Ornum three times. When protesters saw what was happening, they approached the officers and demanded they let Van Ornum go. The police told them to move away. “They just kept pushing me back,” Carly Barnicle recalled. “They almost pushed me over on the concrete.”

In the confrontation that followed, two other people, David “Day” Owen and Anthony Farley, were arrested. Van Ornum was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Owen was charged with interfering with a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Farley was charged with assault, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AFTER HIS release, Van Ornum filed a complaint with the office of the police auditor, alleging that the officers used excessive force. There were a number of complaints filed by people at the protest. An investigation by the Eugene Citizens Review Board was announced. The Eugene Police Department announced they were carrying out an internal investigation, with their report due on August 29.

However, on June 2, a full two months before the investigation was supposed to arrive at its conclusions, Chief Robert Lehner sent an e-mail to Mayor Kitty Piercy and the city council that claimed Van Ornum had resisted arrest and wriggled free from one of his handcuffs and fought with officers, “swinging the other cuff wildly.”

Van Ornum, Owen and Farley have been ordered to appear before a grand jury and face possible felony criminal charges. Many eyewitnesses to the arrests have been subpoenaed to testify.

Local activist Amanda Garty observed, “The Lane County DA, Doug Harcleroad, is trying hard to search for something. Strategically, I’m sure, as punishment for the approximately 12 witness complaints of police misconduct and the media attention that ensued from the May 30 rally. Basically, what was an investigation of police brutality following the witness complaints at the Kesey Square rally has somehow been reversed on the lawfully abiding activists and morphed into a ridiculous criminal investigation bearing potential felony charges.”

Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center said, “It’s almost like a retaliatory slap that they’re going to be roped into a grand jury.” She added, “It’s a real usurpation of what the citizens thought they were doing by coming forward.”

According to the Eugene Weekly:

[A]s a result of Harcleroad’s investigation, the Eugene Citizens Review Board’s inquiry into allegations of police brutality will now be delayed. The internal police review of the case has also been postponed. Sgt. Scott McKee of Internal Affairs, which conducts internal reviews of cases like this that allege misconduct by EPD officers, originally led the police misconduct investigation. He is now leading the county’s investigation into potential felony charges against the protesters.

Several people who were involved in the rally and received e-mails from McKee requesting interviews about the allegations of police misconduct are troubled by McKee’s switching the topic of their interviews to the criminal case involving the grand jury.

Dave Owen has since learned from federal police reports acquired by his attorney that a federal agent was observing the May 30 demonstration. Tom Keedy, a Federal Protective Service (FPS) agent–FPS agents work for the Department of Homeland Security–watched the demonstration from an unmarked vehicle.

According to the Eugene Register-Guard, Keedy notified the Eugene Police that Van Ornum was blocking traffic. Keedy was there “because federal officials worried that the demonstrators might march five blocks to the federal courthouse on East Eighth Avenue.” This begs the question of why they would have done that, since the spraying of pesticides is a county issue. According the Register-Guard, there was another FPS agent at the event, William Turner, who took Owen into custody.

Turner was “cleared” to go to the demonstration by the “Denver Mega-Center,” which is “a dispatch center that monitors federal government facilities across the Western United States.” Lorie Dankers, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which sometimes employs FPS agents), told the Register-Guard that it is “routine” for FPS agents to monitor public demonstrations. “It’s not uncommon,” she said. “Not only in Eugene, but elsewhere as well.”

It also turns out the federal agents mistakenly believed the demonstration was organized by an anti-pesticides group called the Pitchfork Rebellion. This group was organized by David Owen, who says that his family and neighbors were sickened by aerial spraying of pesticides on private timberlands. Owen told the Register-Guard that this organization “is basically me and my wife.” He added, “We aren’t eco-terrorists, and we do not advocate property damage or anything like that. We are totally nonviolent.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ON JULY 9, three witnesses to the event announced that they had filed a criminal complaint against two police officers, Solesbee and Warden, claiming that they assaulted Van Ornum and caused a concussion, which has resulted in a “possibly protracted impairment of health.”

The people filing the complaint–Samantha Chirillo, Josh Sclossberg and Amy Pincus Merwin–are asking that the investigation “be conducted by someone other than the Eugene Police and the Lane County District Attorney’s Office, given that their statements and actions in this matter, to date, reveal their bias toward the officers and reflect an inability to be fair and impartial.”

Chirillo explained to the University of Oregon’s campus newspaper, the Daily Emerald, that the purpose of the complaint is to protect the rights of protesters. “The danger now is that people want to speak out and are having second thoughts about it,” she said.

Among those who have been subpoenaed by the grand jury is Tim Lewis, who videotaped the police officers holding Van Ornum to the ground. Lewis, a local activist and videographer who has a series of online videos called “Picture Eugene,” was ordered to turn over his tapes to the court.

Lewis told the Register-Guard on July 10 that there is “no way” he will hand over the tapes. “I don’t have a whole bunch [on the tape] that would interest them,” he said. “But I can’t set a precedent by giving it to them.”

On July 15, it was announced that prosecutors had withdrawn the subpoena for Lewis’ video. No doubt this was due to the fact that Oregon has a shield law that protects journalists from having to turn over their tapes or notes to the courts.

Activists in Eugene are currently discussing possible actions to show their support for the three accused individuals. All this is happening a little over a year after the sentencing of eco-saboteurs here in Eugene, who set fire to SUV dealerships and to ranger stations. They were given enhanced sentences, because the judge decided that their actions amounted to “terrorism.”

Now, three nonviolent protesters are being persecuted by the criminal justice system. There seems to a deliberate effort by the government to suppress radical environmentalists. The very fact that federal agents were observing a small, nonviolent demonstration shows how determined they are to do this. We must do whatever we can to resist this.

***

Picture Eugene – Tasered

PictureEugene

Students hold a peaceful rally in downtown Eugene at Ken Kesey plaza. Eugene police arrive and taser one of the organizers and arrest two others.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Tased Until Dead: The Epidemic of Taser Crazy Cops + MO police taser injured boy! (updated)

Karadzic extradited to The Hague + Karadzic: Justice Delayed, But Still Welcome

Dandelion Salad

MegaNewsbreak

Radovan Karadzic, the war crimes suspect, has arrived in the Netherlands to face trial at The Hague on charges of genocide for his actions in the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

His departure came just hours after supporters fought running battles in the streets with police.

Many are hoping that as news of Radovan Karadzic’s move to The Hague spreads, the violence of Tuesday night will not be repeated.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reports from Belgrade.

Continue reading

New Page: Books by Lo (updated)

Dandelion Salad

Updated: July 30, 2008

Added several more books to the Books page.  Hope you’ll check them out.  And I do NOT make any money from anyone’s book being sold or from blogging.  ~ Lo

***

November 28, 2007

I made a new page tonight.  Some of my favorite writers’ books with a link to order them.

Books Page

It’s on the very top of my page on the green tab, Books.

Will be adding to it from time to time.

Thanks for checking it out.

~ Lo

Eaten Up By Ed Pilkington

Dandelion Salad

This is a must-read, imo.  Buy this man’s book, too.  See my Books Page.  ~ Lo

By Ed Pilkington
ICH
07/29/08 “The Guardian

Raj Patel’s book Stuffed and Starved predicted the current global food crisis – spiralling food prices, starvation and obesity. Ed Pilkington meets the soothsayer of agro-economics and talks about what will happen when all the food finally runs out

There is a passage towards the end of Raj Patel’s book, Stuffed and Starved, which elevates its author to the rank of soothsayer. He wrote it at the beginning of 2007, well before the roar of anger about rising food prices that resounded across the planet and that he so uncannily and accurately predicted.

The passage begins with Patel’s summary of earlier sections of the book in which he depicts the wasteland, as he calls it, of the modern food system. It is a system that destroys rural communities, poisons poor city dwellers, is inhumane to animals, demands unsustainable levels of use of fossil fuels and water, contributes to global warming, spreads disease and limits our sensuousness and compassion. As if that litany wasn’t enough, he then adds this: “Perhaps most ironic, although it is controlled by some of the most powerful people on the planet, the food system is inherently weak. It has systemic and structural vulnerabilities that lie close to the surface of our daily lives. All it takes to expose them is a gentle jolt.”

When he wrote that passage, Patel had in mind his native Britain and its occasional history of food crises. There was the oil crisis of 1973 that prompted panic-buying in the shops. Or 2000, when protesting truckers blockaded the oil refineries and the shelves again came close to emptying. Those events inspired Patel to contemplate a startling question: “What would have happened,” he wrote, “had all the food on the shelves run out?”

…continued

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If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism By Ian Angus

The coming economic & environment meltdowns … and the possibilities for fighting back

Social change to stop climate change

Wall of Stupidity

A Man-Made Famine + Stuffed & Starved: Interview with Raj Patel

Global Food Crisis: Hunger Plagues Haiti & the World by Stephen Lendman

Bad Samaritans – The Myth of Free Trade & the Secret History of Capitalism

Time for Action Against Monsanto By Siv O’Neall

Food

If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism By Ian Angus

Dandelion Salad

By Ian Angus
July 27, 2008

From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism’s masthead has carried the slogan “Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.” We’ve been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx’s important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism? Continue reading