Sunday, August 31, 2008

APOV's Weekly Revue (08/31/2008)

If it's Sunday, then it is time for APOV's Weekly Revue!

Oh, Canada!
More bloodletting at Canadian Heritage;

Fixed Election Dates... From the mouths of the Horses...;

Fun With Hansard;

It's good to be the king;

The coming assault by Harper's gang on Dion: trying to make him into Dukakis

As The Republican Era Ends In The USA, Will It Also End In Canada?

Oh, U.S.A.!
Huddled Masses Yearning.....;

Loyalty is the New Competence;

The United Police State of America - an ongoing series;

Authoritarianism Is A One Way Street;

McCain, POWs, & the Stab in the Back;

McCain's Dangerous Liason;

McCain’s (Anti-Choice) Hail Mary;

Manifestly Unserious;

Is This the Death Of A Party, or the Death Of A Nation?

What Obama Is Up Against;

King of Ruins?

Spinners and Losers in the Brave New World Order;

We Are At War...Remember?

A Choice of War Criminals.

Oh, Democracy!
Political theatre of the absurd;

Our Stupid Media;

It’s Time To Make Some Tough Choices;

Reality Check: No Matter Who Wins The Election, We’re Still Screwed.

Oh, Holy Smoke!
“An Army of Locusts”.

Thus on this note concludes APOV's Weekly Revue for this August 31st, 2008.

On The Final Steps In "Crossing The Rubicon"

Last year, I wrote the following concerning President G.W. Bush and his seeming never-ending quest for absolute dictatorial powers (emphasis added):

Let us fast-forward to today and focus on the following recent news items:

A) President G.W. Bush considers himself not just the Commander-in-Chief , the Decider and the Decision-Maker anymore, but also simply the Commander Guy;

B) The Bush administration has stipulated that the president had the constitutional authority to decide for himself whether to conduct surveillance without warrants and therefore does not need the consent of Congress to do so;

C) This is in line with the fact that President G.W. Bush has brushed aside hundreds of laws already with his signing statements;

D) Congress has already put in the books the Patriot Act and the Military Commission’s Act, both giving the President the power to deal effectively with America’s enemies (powers which include looser surveillance restrictions, indefinite detentions, use of torture, loss of habeas corpus, etc.);

E) President G.W. Bush, in defense of his veto of an Iraq war spending plan passed by the Democratic-led Congress that would have forced him to begin pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, sent the message to Congress that he considered the legislation unconstitutional because it infringed on his presidential powers;

and F) Meanwhile, cries continue to clamor for the need of a Unitary Executive, of a strong and powerful leader who must be above the quaint laws of the republic, because "in stormy times, the rule of law may seem to require the prudence and force that law, or present law, cannot supply, and the executive must be strong".

With these items in mind, go read the U.S. Constitution (especially Articles I-III which define the powers of the three equal branches).

One does not need be a Constitutional lawyer or expert to understand that, especially with regards to item E), President Bush is essentially claiming that the constitutional roles and powers of the Congress are unconstitutional.

In short: the President now stands above the Rule of Constitutional Law - particularly in times of crisis presented by external (re: global terrorism) or internal (re: home-grown terrorism) threats.

History clearly shows that such points of view and radical interpretations of the separation of powers within a republic, along with the slow erosion of the rule of law and the clamor for a single strong and powerful leader in times of crisis, have lead to the downfall and de facto end of the Roman republic.

Has President George W. Bush effectively "crossed the Rubicon"?

Do these days represent the critical period which will lead eventually to the end of the American republic?
Now read this news item (emphasis and extra links added):
(...) President Bush has quietly moved to expand the reach of presidential power by ensuring that America remains in a state of permanent war.

Buried in a recent proposal by the Administration is a sentence that has received scant attention -- and was buried itself in the very newspaper that exposed it Saturday. It is an affirmation that the United States remains at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban and "associated organizations."

Part of a proposal for Guantanamo Bay legal detainees, the provision before Congress seeks to “acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”

The New York Times' page 8 placement of the article in its Saturday edition seems to downplay its importance. Such a re-affirmation of war carries broad legal implications that could imperil Americans' civil liberties and the rights of foreign nationals for decades to come.

It was under the guise of war that President Bush claimed a legal mandate for his warrantless wiretapping program, giving the National Security Agency power to intercept calls Americans made abroad. More of this program has emerged in recent years, and it includes the surveillance of Americans' information and exchanges online.

"War powers" have also given President Bush cover to hold Americans without habeas corpus (...)

Times reporter Eric Lichtblau notes that the measure is the latest step that the Administration has taken to "make permanent" key aspects of its "long war" against terrorism. Congress recently passed a much-maligned bill giving telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for their participation in what constitutional experts see as an illegal or borderline-illegal surveillance program, and is considering efforts to give the FBI more power in their investigative techniques.

"It is uncertain whether Congress will take the administration up on its request," Lichtblau writes. "Some Republicans have already embraced the idea, with Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, introducing a measure almost identical to the administration’s proposal. 'Since 9/11,' Mr. Smith said, 'we have been at war with an unconventional enemy whose primary goal is to kill innocent Americans.'"

If enough Republicans come aboard, Democrats may struggle to defeat the provision. Despite holding majorities in the House and Senate, they have failed to beat back some of President Bush's purported "security" measures, such as the telecom immunity bill.

Bush's open-ended permanent war language worries his critics. They say it could provide indefinite, if hazy, legal justification for any number of activities -- including detention of terrorists suspects at bases like Guantanamo Bay (where for years the Administration would not even release the names of those being held), and the NSA's warantless wiretapping program.

Lichtblau co-wrote the Times article revealing the Administration's eavesdropping program along with fellow reporter James Risen.

He notes that Bush's language "recalls a resolution, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001... [which] authorized the president to 'use all necessary and appropriate force' against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks to prevent future strikes. That authorization, still in effect, was initially viewed by many members of Congress who voted for it as the go-ahead for the administration to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban, which had given sanctuary to Mr. bin Laden."

"But the military authorization became the secret legal basis for some of the administration’s most controversial legal tactics, including the wiretapping program, and that still gnaws at some members of Congress," he adds.
And let us not forget about torture and other "necessary" actions required to "fight" this now-official, never-ending Global War on Terrorism(TM).

Once again, we should keep very much in mind the ever convenient rationale of security agencies as they perform their "duty":
(...) This means that anything can and will be viewed by our security agencies within the narrow, paranoid prism of terrorism and threats to security.


From blogging to writing a dissenting letter to a newspaper editor to a journalist trying to do investigative work to gathering at a coffee shop to rant about politics to reading "suspicious" stuff (books, blogs) to organizing/participating in activist actions (letter/phone/email campaigns, peaceful protests), etc., etc., etc.

Because any such activities may or may not - immediately or at some point in time or never at all - lead to acts which may or may not "threaten the safety and security of citizens or the integrity of the country's critical infrastructure".

So just in case and to be safe, let's monitor and survey and spy away on the citizenry.

And that is the ever convenient rationale of authoritarian security states for spying on their citizens.
Conclusion - no one is safe indeed:
It is a given, demonstrated fact that governmental security agencies are not seekers of truth, but seekers of guilt. Whenever they are given any powers to spy on their own citizens, they will do so - for reasons frivolous, paranoid or (apparently very rarely as shown so far) actually justified.

Anything and nothing can - and will - be held against you.

Because in the mindset of governmental security agencies, everyone is suspect, everyone is guilty. Period.
Welcome to the Security State governed by the all-powerful President-Pontificate, who will win (someday in the far, distant future, perhaps) the never-ending Global War on Terror(TM).

The last, final few steps in crossing the Rubicon are being be taken.

Should he be still alive today, I am convinced that George Orwell would say: "I told you so".

Thus the slow march toward tyranny is nearing its completion.

Any questions?

(Cross-posted at DKos, NION, The Wild Wild Left, Progressive Historians, The Peace Tree)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shorter Barack Obama

Shorter Barack Obama from his historic, inspiring and superb speech of last night:

"Wake up, America. We need change. You know it, I know it. McCain and republicans just don't get it. Now you make the call."

Shorter G.O.P. response following Obama's speech:

"Lalalalala Barack Obama is still teh noob lalalalala. Lalalalalalala be afraid lalalala. Lalalalalala 9/11 lalalalala."

The "call to make" looks evidently clear indeed - at least to me.

I have to admit that I felt quite heartened when Obama spoke about "personal responsibility" and "mutual responsibility" - from my (ahem) point of view, he was in effect stirring his fellow Americans to be more competent as human beings and citizens ... the opposite of what I have been describing as going on and what I have been carping about on and on and on and on and on here at APOV. Same thing concerning his statement that "we are our brothers' and our sisters' keepers" - indeed:
(...) only incompetents abuse power.

Why is this so? Because, their petty minds are blind to the principle that factual power constitutes that which serves not only to better our own personal lives, but to improve those of others as well. We are indeed the keepers of our brothers, our sisters, our families, our relatives and our neighbors: this is a plain and simple verity, which also happens to define the very essence of Humanity.

It is not coincidence that incompetents invariably forget - or deny - such a fundamental truth.
So, bravo to Obama on these two specific points and, of course, for an overall masterpiece of a political speech.

In short, he sounded like a true leader. It goes without saying that it remains to be established whether he will prove to be a genuine one should he be elected come November 4, 2008.

In this respect, there were five things in Obama's speech which left me uneasy:

1) his overuse of the tired old myth of the so-called American exceptionalism (come on - it hasn't been "only in America" for a long, long time now. The reality is in fact "only in democracy-based nations". Get on with the program, folks!);

2) his continued conflation of al Qaeda and the Taliban with regards to the attacks of 9/11 and consequent misrepresentation of the true (unjustified) nature of the ongoing war in Afghanistan;

3) his continued denial of Georgia's own shame in its dealings with South Ossetia, instead perpetuating the meme that only Russia is to blame for what has happened recently;

4) his lack of specific mention and condemnation of renditions, indefinite detentions, domestic spying and military commissions;

5) his lack of specific mention and condemnation of the use of torture enhanced interrogation techniques.

I can only hope that the Democratic Party nominee for the Presidency of the U.S.A. will strive to correct points 2 to 5 (at least - I'll let pass point 1 for now) in the days, weeks and months to come as he goes out to stump throughout his country.

Doing so would provide a great service on his part to his fellow countrymen and women.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Politics Of Evil - All In The Name Of God

With regards to my recent post on the Age of the President-Pontificate of the U.S.A., I stumbled upon this interesting article which I would like to share along (I would also recommend reading this older post of Glenn Greenwald, in order to complete Teh Big Picture):

The Politics of Evil in the US Elections
The Revelations of Pastor Warren

By Marwan Bishara

I could only shake my head in bewilderment, as I listened to the interviews Rick Warren, a Baptist pastor, conducted with Barack Obama and John McCain, the US presidential candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.

Most absurd during the two-hour special were the exchanges about "evil".

When asked how they would deal with evil if they were elected president - would they ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it - Obama said he would "confront it" while McCain said unflinchingly that he would "defeat it".

After this "civil forum" was broadcast on CNN, the network's so-called "best team on television" commented on the candidates' performance.

This only managed to add insult to injury.

One pundit commended McCain's steadfastness and courage in wanting to defeat, not merely confront, evil if elected president.

For the Republican contender evil is embodied in communism, Islamic fundamentalism and notably Osama Bin Laden, who he promised to hunt down.

Obama was also praised for acknowledging the existence of evil. He thought it present in Darfur but also on the streets of the US as well as in homes where parents abuse their children, and so on.

Evil is the enemy

The last time I checked, there was no legal or strategic interpretation of evil. An open-ended war on evil leads to Armageddon.

It makes absolutely no sense for a future leader of a superpower to speak of dealing with "evil" as commander-in-chief unless this term is used as populist propaganda during election season.

The threat of evil necessitates some sort of definition, otherwise, how can any president evaluate evil and apply the necessary measures to "confront it" or "defeat it"?

Sectarian and tribal wars in Africa and Asia, like religious fundamentalism, are modern phenomena that need to be rationalised first and foremost within our modern world.

In order to be defused or prevented altogether, such conflicts must not be defined or determined by the universal fight between good and evil.

The same applies to street gangs and abusive parents; they require rational explanation and social analyses in order to deter them or best prevent them form carrying out their actions.

In all such cases of violence, there is an urgent need for education, justice, fairness and the rule of law as well as a moral compass, not some religious crusade, to guide us.

But the US media was more than happy to report how the Democratic and Republican candidates were speaking of confronting and defeating evil.

In doing this, US media has pandered to the religious majority in the country.

Keep reading ...

Once Upon A Time ... A McCain Administration!

Following up on yesterday's post, here is an interesting article I wish to share with you good folks:

Once Upon a Time in America
A John McCain Administration

By Robert Fantina

Anyone interested in light-hearted, fanciful reading, need look no farther than the ‘John McCain for President’ website. There the reader will find a curious mix of fantasy, unintended humor and the fruits of a mind-boggling imagination. Let us take a look at a few of the gems offered by Mr. McCain.

Under the curious heading, ‘Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life,’ there are several sub-headings, too numerous to study here. But one of them is titled ‘Protecting Marriage.’ Mr. McCain, we are told “… believes the institution of marriage is a union between one man and one woman.” And Mr. McCain’s beliefs, apparently, are too be forced down the throats of all and sundry. The senator is, of course, an expert on marriage between one man and one woman. A full month elapsed between the dissolution of his marriage to the injured and partially crippled Carol and his wedding to the beautiful, young Cindy. So he can boast that both his marriages were between one man (used twice) and one woman (two different ones, of course). Prince Charming and his two Cinderellas! Although the second one apparently has the means to purchase more castles than Mr. McCain can count.

This particular section closes with these words: Mr. McCain “…is a beloved husband and father.” Beloved, perhaps; loyal, well, we won’t bother to ask Carol.

One of the major concerns facing U.S. citizens is health care; 47,000,000 Americans are without it. Let’s compare that to Canada. The number of Canadian citizens without health care: 0.

But Mr. McCain recognizes this severe problem. One solution he proposes is as follows: “While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit - effectively cash - of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider.”

One hastens to remind Mr. McCain that he is running for president in 2008, not 1958. Employer-based coverage is seldom comprehensive, if offered at all. So ‘every family’ does not have the option of ‘employer-based coverage.’

But his largess extends to these unfortunate families. He will grant them a tax credit of $5,000.00.

A family of this writer’s acquaintance recently told him that, since both the husband and wife are self-employed, and therefore do not have that elusive option of ‘employer-based coverage,’ they are paying $1,500.00 a month for basic coverage for themselves and their teenage son. Now, if one were to take that sum, and multiple it by twelve, they would see a total of $18,000.00. So after the generous sum that Mr. McCain will distribute, they will only owe a mere $13,000.00 out of pocket. Ah yes! Senator McCain is certainly in touch with the American public! They say the sky is falling due to their inability to afford health care, and Mr. McCain will hold it up with magic feather!

Let us move now to what the website calls the ‘Second Amendment.’ “John McCain opposes restrictions on so-called ‘assault rifles’ and voted consistently against such bans.” Now, this must be seen as completely reasonable; something like building a house of sticks. Most states have a restriction on the number of deer, for example, that hunters may shoot. However, at any time that restriction may be lifted, and the dedicated hunter, with his assault rifles, will be able to take down the entire herd before the terrified deer are able to flee. Mr. McCain feels for those hunters.

And what would happen, one might ask, if the entire Chinese army suddenly descended on the poor, unsuspecting United States of America? The largest army in the world, the nation with the world’s most dangerous nuclear stockpile, the most technologically advanced military machine on the planet would be helpless. Yet the average homeowner, armed with the assault rifles Mr. McCain wants to allow them to have, will prove victorious!

Keep reading ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Who/What Is John McCain - In His Own Words

Here are the three bare essentials to know who/what John McCain is, in his own damning words:

1. He is a militaristic authoritarian:
McCain suggests military-style invasion modeled on the surge to control inner city crime

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke to the National Urban League, a group “devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.” When an audience member asked him how he planned to reduce urban crime, McCain praised Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s efforts in New York Cirty before invoking the military’s tactics in Iraq as the model for crime-fighting:
MCCAIN: And some of those tactics — you mention the war in Iraq — are like that we use in the military. You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control. And you provide them with a stable environment and then they cooperate with law enforcement, etc, etc.

2. Despite having been tortured as a POW, he is very much pro-torture, pro-rendition and pro-indefinite detention:
McCain: Gitmo is ‘one of the nicest places in the world to live in’

During a question-and-answer session with Walter Isaacson, Sen. John McCain said Guantanamo Bay is “one of the nicest places in the world to live in.” Later in the interview, McCain was asked about the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Boumediene v. Bush declaring that Gitmo detainees have a right to challenge their detention in civilian court. McCain had previously derided that decision as “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country”.

and 3. He embraces dominionism as well as the "Christianity vs Islam" simplistic view of the times:
McCain’s embrace of ‘Judeo-Christian values’

At Saturday night’s event at Saddleback Church, John McCain told the largely evangelical audience a version of history that the religious right likes to believe: “Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values and principles.”

That is, to put it mildly, historically dubious — the nation was founded on the secular principles, as part of the separation of church and state — but it’s nevertheless a phrase McCain seems to be especially fond of lately.
On a frozen winter evening at a Town Hall meeting in a school in the Manchester, N.H., suburbs, John McCain expressed surprise and irritation with an intelligence report downplaying the threat of Iran’s nuclear program.

At the end of a long list of reasons to be suspicious of the Iranians, McCain declared: "And they sure don’t share our Judeo-Christian values."

It seemed at the time to be an odd thing to say about a Muslim country. After all, even if there were no nuclear program, no oil, and no rabble-rousing president, Iran still wouldn’t have Judeo-Christian values. And it’s troubling to wonder if that alone would be a reason for suspicion.

How about some more of that Kool-Aid, Mr. McCain, while you continue on with your fearmongering and your patriotism-questioning of others?

Be afraid, folks. Be very afraid ...

Which reminds me of this:
History dresses an extensive list of charismatic, decisive and righteous Leaders. However, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of these have consistently proven to be fearful, petty, power-hungry, or violence-prone, authoritarians. To them, the end ever justified the means, as they disguised their incompetence with grandiose ideologies, wrapping themselves in religious, nationalist or racist flags of intractable absolutism, and using their deceitful siren song to stir passion, loyalty and even fanaticism - all in order to gather sizeable followings of narrow-minded, hate-filled, or warmongering, underlings. It is no wonder that people have suffered, one way or another, each time such a Leader rose to prominence.

Hence, never cease questioning those who would conscript you to their cause - if they dismiss, disassemble or scoff at, your questions, then they are being deceptive. Above all, beware the charismatic who speaks to your fears, for he - or she - ultimately seeks to be your Master. Listen instead to those who strive to convince you through honest, open, and patient dialogue, finding common ground while appealing exclusively to your nobler principles - for they indeed truly seek to better the lives of all. Such has ever been the way of genuine Leaders of Humanity.
One incompetent POTUS over the last eight years has been more than enough - is there really need for yet another one for the next four years (at least) to come?

You make the call.

(Cross-poted at DKos, NION and The Wild Wild Left)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

APOV's Weekly Revue (08/24/2008)

Time once again for the Weekly Revue, covering the (ahem) last two weeks because of my missing out on last week (still knee-deep in science writing, folks ... sorry):

Oh, Canada!
- The Canadian Media does the Fundie Propaganda polka!;

- Heckuva job, Harpie;

- Canadians respond to Tony Clement;

- Cadman & Couillard: two more reasons for Harper to flee from Parliament this fall;

- Harper sinks the navy;

- “Changes to the system will take time”;

- Nationalism and the Left.

Oh, U.S.A.!
- A Call For a Third Revolution of Liberal America;

- Will The Dumbing Down Of America and Americans Continue?;

- More on Obama, Celebrity and Miscengenation;

- Conservatism Proven "Superior";

- My friends, there will be more wars: A campaign promise;

- A noun, a verb and POW;

- McCain Offshore Oil Drilling Hype;

- Priming the Pump With Missile Defense: Empty Gestures Full of Blood;

- Why the Silence on Real Torture Timeline?;

- The Face of Evil.

Oh, World!
- Big Bad Russia versus Sweet Little Dainty Georgia;

- Readjustments in Pipelineistan.

Oh, Holy Smokes!
- A State Sanctioned American Terrorist;

- When Does Life Begin?;

- The Power-Driven Preacher;

- The so-called Saddleback debate: fundamentalism creeps further into American national politics;

- Jesusistani Providers Prescribe Hate.

Oh, Civilization!
- Why Critical History in a Postcolonial World?;

- Waking Up in the Universe.

Thus concludes the Weekly Revue for this August 24th, 2008.

The Age Of The President-Pontificate Of The U.S.A.

Last week's Saddleback Civil Forum on Presidency, quite appropriately dubbed "The Faith Forum", heralded a new age for the Presidency of the U.S.A. - that of the President-Pontificate.

For decades now, especially since the late 70's-early 80's, it has become a ritual of sorts for candidates seeking the Office of the Presidency of the U.S.A. (POTUS) to make profuse declarations of faith while seeking the public support of pastors, preachers and priests.

Pious demonstrations of belief in God (the Christian one, of course), humble statements of abundant praying for guidance from the Divine Will, public displays of church attendance, etc. - all such things have become nothing more than par for the course in the (democratic) process of choosing the next POTUS.

Through it all, the political/governing functions of a POTUS have likewise become intimately intertwined with all matters of faith - whether it is the expected utterance of the incantation of "God Bless America", frequent references to God on any and all subject matter (policies, decisions, etc.), the White House prayer breakfasts, the lighting of the White House's Christmas Tree, attending Christmas mass, yet more public displays of piety and praying/church attending, and so on and so forth.

In short - the POTUS has come to acquire an increasingly preeminent function of "Christian faith representative" in the eyes of Americans throughout the years.

Why else would Americans have elected three openly-declared Born Again Christian Presidents (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush) out of the last five who have held office since the 1976 elections?

No wonder then that so-called "moral values" and "moral issues" have come to dominate the American political landscape in the last three decades or so - especially with regards to school praying vs. no praying at school, a woman's right to choose vs. criminalizing abortion, same-sex marriage allowance vs. interdiction, teaching safe/protected sex vs. promoting abstinence, teaching evolution vs. also teaching creationism/intelligent design, etc., etc., etc.

And I will spare you the all-too-known details of the (waning) George W. Bush administration's embrace of fundamentalist Christian "values" and consequent attitudes/actions with regards to all things secular and scientific (see also this recent post of yours truly).

(I remember cringing at that little piece of news when I first read about it some three years ago - that one as well)

Then came 9/11 - and since that tragic day a majority of Americans have apparently locked themselves in a mentality of "Christianity vs. Islam" - what some like to call the "Clash of Civilizations" - a mindset which appears to stubbornly persist to this day, overriding all rational considerations (one more recent example here).

Indeed, 9/11 was in good part responsible for the re-election of George W. Bush, the "War President" fighting the evil islamofascists ...

Which brings us to this year's primaries and the current contest between John McCain and Barack Obama for the Presidency of the U.S.A.

Never before have I witnessed such profusion of declarations of faith from candidates left and right, being asked questions on all matters of Christian faith, morals and values, including whether they believe in evolution or not.

Never before have I witnessed a democratic party presumptive nominee speak more like a pastor as Barack Obama has been speaking throughout this election year - even more so than the born again Christian Jimmy Carter (and I remember a good part of Carter's campaign and his Presidency, because I had "come of age" enough as a teenager to start paying attention to such things already then).

Never before have I witnessed such lingering (ill-informed, uninformed, or deliberately mendacious) questions concerning the "purity" of the Christian faith of candidates - especially regarding Barack Obama ("Is he Muslim or Christian?", "Is he Christian enough?").

Then came last week's Saddleback Civil Forum on Presidency, whereby McCain and Obama got to be vetted on matters of Christian faith, morals and values by an "influential" evangelical pastor, Rev. Rick Warren, in a live broadcast to millions of Americans to see, hear and judge.

Since then, many have parsed through the questions posed by Warren in this so-called Faith Forum and the answers given by McCain and Obama - however, it appears that the sheer precedent enormity of such an exercise has been lost entirely.

Think about it - before McCain and Obama got to face each other for a first time to debate their political ideas, ideologies, visions and solutions, they got to be quizzed/tested by a pastor first about their Christian faith, morals, values and visions.

In other words: they had to demonstrate first and foremost their Christian credentials to the American people above all other (political) considerations.

Talk about separation of church and state, no?

Since 9/11, the American people, through their Congress and Senate, have granted monarchical powers to the Office of the President of the U.S.A. - the Military Commissions Act and the Patriot Act quickly come to mind as but two examples.

In short, the POTUS can spy indiscriminately, detain indefinitely and torture - the pretense being that all of this is necessary in the name of temporal security of the Homeland.

Not unlike the British Monarchs of old.

And now, thanks to the precedent of last week's Faith Forum, the POTUS has become the de facto Spiritual Leader and Keeper of the American Christian Faith.

Again - not unlike British Monarchs who still retain to this day (since Henry VIII) the title and function of Head of the Church of England.

So after some 230+ years after the Declaration of Independance, the Americans managed to give themselves a bona fides British-like Monarch in all ways, shapes and forms.

Makes me wonder what the hell the American Revolution was for, then.

Yet, the conclusion nevertheless remains: thanks to the fear, ignorance and, yes, hate of Americans regarding things non-christian, all still driven by 9/11, the Age of the President-Pontificate of the U.S.A. has officially arrived.

God Bless America indeed.

(and whenever I hear born again Christian Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, throw "God Bless Canada" whenever and wherever he can, I keep wondering whether my country is slowly but surely going the same way as our neighbors to the south ... but I digress)

In the meantime, all I can do is wish - and hope - that enough people out there will never forget the necessity of keeping church and faith fully and completely separate from state.

But in this new Age of the President-Pontificate, I shan't be holding my breath ...

(Aftermath: go read this and that as well - both are definitely worth the click).

(Cross-posted at The Wild Wild Left, NION, Progressive Historians, NetRoots, DKos, The Peace Tree)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

APOV: Apparently "Kicking Ass" ...

And here I thought APOV was all politeness, gentility and docility ... and yet today, Impolitic (author of the ever excellent blog Impolitical) awarded yours truly the distinction of being a Kick Ass Blogger!

Thank you, Impolitic - your wink & nod is most appreciated. I am truly honored and humbled by this (and I say of course: "right back atcha!"), especially when considering that I am occasionally (as in currently) too busy writing science stuff (articles, research grant applications) to blog properly. But I'll keep on striving to improve my blog writing so that some day I may truly earn such a distinction ;-)

So here are the rules for the Kick Ass Blogger award:
  • Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are "Kick Ass Bloggers"
  • Let 'em know in your post or via email, twitter or blog comments that they've received an award
  • Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to
  • Hop on back to the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky then pass it on!
Here are now my five choices for those bloggers (or blogs - I've decided to bend teh rules a little, as matttbastard did - heh) I consider to be kick ass ones - this was not easy, mind you, since I can choose only five among so many that I consider deserving of this distinction (I am also trying not to award this to those who already got one, while also trying to avoid nominating Big/Huge Ones):
1. The Peace Tree - headed by none other than The Poetry Man. Give it a try and you won't be disappointed.

2. Shockfront - Ken Anderson never fails to deliver teh goods.

3. Reconstitution - there's no question about it: JollyRoger is a genuine kick ass blogger. And then some.

4. Far and Wide - Steve V. does it good ...

5. The Wild Wild Left - headed by Diane G., the place kicks ass day in and day out.
So, there you have it - and how I wish I could have nominated more than five. Oh well ...

Do not hesitate to give these blogs a visit - including those blogrolled here at APOV - I read them regularly and they all share one thing in common - they all kick ass.


Towards Better Media ... Not?

Sort of a follow up on this previous post - the following article describes one part the root of the problem with today's MSM/traditional media. That, along with intellectual sloth-driven incompetence on the part of too many news reporters/journalists (yet one more example here), as well as the intellectual sloth-driven need for too many folks to be serviced an opinion instead of forging an informed one for themselves, constitute the whole of the problem - as well as the primary cause for the spreading cancer on the body democratic of our societies.

Here is the article in question:

Downsizing the News And Pretending to Increase Quality
By Walter Brasch

Executive management at the Allentown Morning Call recently laid off more than two dozen persons from its newsroom, most of them veteran reporters drawing higher salaries. Management plans to cut 35–40 positions, according to a letter sent by publisher Timothy Johnson. The cuts are about one-fourth of the news staff. The remaining reporters are being told to write more stories under the same deadline constraints. Coverage of local meetings has been put into secondary importance; bureaus have been combined. The Morning Call is not alone.

About 85 percent of all dailies with more than 100,000 circulation, and about half of all dailies with circulations under 100,000, have cut the number of reporters and editors, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. During the first half of this year, newspapers laid off or froze more than 6,500 news positions. This was the biggest loss in three decades, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

With the layoffs, news quality has suffered. A newsroom filled with younger reporters—they aren’t paid as much as the senior reporters who were terminated or laid off—leaves a newspaper vulnerable to a newsroom with less knowledge of the community and how to gather, report, and write news. Almost no newspapers have proofreaders. About 40 percent of all newspapers report they have fewer copyeditors today than just two years ago. No proofreaders means more typos. Fewer copyeditors means sloppier copy, more factual error, and a lot more stories that are incomplete.

During the past few years, newspaper owners demanded and were getting at 20–40 percent profit, among the highest for any industry—and that includes Big Oil. With newsrooms and the news product already lean, the owners kept taking and taking.

And now there’s an economic recession. Subscribers are questioning their annual $150–250 investments. Businesses are folding, and the ones remaining are reducing newspaper advertising budgets.

Keep reading ...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And The Bottom Line is ...

However much one may try to analyze what has been going on lately in every possible way, the bottom line invariably boils down to one word: incompetence.

Here's a little something I wrote a while back and which bears repeating yet again:
Intellectual sloth reaps ignorance. In turn, ignorance festers fear which, as we know all-too-well, acts as a powerful motor in driving irrational thinking and actions. Furthermore, fear is quite expert in the exercise of nullifying any semblance of intellectual and emotional maturity in people – in other words, fear transforms a supposedly adult (and thus mature) person into an irresponsible, reactionary, judgement-impaired, and comfort-craving, child or adolescent. One who searches for easy and absolute answers (...) And such intellectual sloth, through the fear which it causes in those people guilty of it, eventually brings in turn the incapacity (or lack of willingness) to deal face-to-face with the unknown and the uncertain. Thereafter, the table is set at last for intolerance and hate to arise: the eternal and real justifications (although never self-admitted) behind violence in any of its shapes or forms.

(...) Ignorance breeds fear. Fear fosters hate. In turn, hate leads inevitably to violence (...) when will we acknowledge the fact, once and for all, that it is the incompetents among us who consistently promulgate violence as a solution for anything, to everything? (...) we must strive to forget nevermore that rationalizations supporting the use of violence - other than the need for the rightful exercise of self-defense when set upon by a genuinely clear, present and immediate danger - invariably constitute deceitful fabrications meant to conceal, disguise or justify incompetence ... including our very own for embracing such mendacity.
When Georgian armed forces bombed and entered the de facto (but still largely unrecognized) independent republic of South Ossetia, it was nothing more than an expedient exercise at re-asserting Georgian governance of the region despite having declared itself autonomous and independent some eighteen years ago (i.e. since 1990-1991). It was not the first time that S. Ossetians and Georgians had come to blows - nonetheless, the underlying reason for such conflict remained the same: Georgians simply refused to accept Ossetian independence. Once again, one nation (or empire) refused to acknowledge the aspirations of another, consequently resorting to force in order to "solve" the issue. In between, and very much not surprisingly, Ossetian separatists resorted to terrorism against Georgians, the age old (and all too often demonstrated) ineffectual approach to win one nation's independence from another.

That's the Sixth Principle of Incompetence largely at work here, on both sides of the equation. However, the greater onus lies with Georgia, especially when considering the Georgians' own (successful) aspirations of becoming independent from the former U.S.S.R. and, mainly, Russia.

Georgians should have known better how to react vis à vis Ossetian separatism, showing empathy and understanding in light of their own aspirations and achievement at independence, instead of initially falling swiftly into reactionary, violent territorialism - thus creating a downward spiral of Georgian-Ossetian violence (does this reminds you of anything else?).

But that is incompetence for you.

In turn Russia, a military superpower by any definition, has fared equally incompetently. Evidently fueled by still lingering dreams of empire (after all, it was not even twenty years ago the the old U.S.S.R. and Soviet Bloc disintegrated), Russia has kept meddling in the Ossetian-Georgian conflict. Hence when Georgia entered S. Ossetia last August 7th, Russia was quick to enter the embattled independent republic in turn. With claims of "helping to defend S. Ossetia" notwidtstanding, Russia nonetheless engaged in an expedient exercise of the use of force not only to "secure" S. Ossetia (in truth for itself), but obviously to also retaliate at the same time against Georgians for having separated from Russia to begin with. Since Georgia's declaration of independence in 1991, tensions between Russia and Georgia have ever been high and close to the breaking point of war.

Yet now war it is - with civilians (Georgians and S. Ossetians) paying the price, as usual.

And not surprisingly, Russia is slow (loathe? Too proud?) to leave Georgia, despite pledges of doing so.

Hence once again - what we have here is the Sixth Principle of Incompetence largely at work.

Then there is the U.S. - what can one say of the dizzying flurry of bold and firm statements condemning Russia (and Russia alone) in the last two weeks? A few examples:
"But the message is sent: I, Vladimir Putin, and Russia can do whatever we want to do, and you can’t stop us because we have the oil." - Bill O'Reilly;

"Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used, that will make it – that – when it wishes to deliver a message, and that’s its military power. That’s not the way to deal in the 21st century." - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice;

"In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations." - Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ);

"For anyone who thought that stark international aggression was a thing of the past, the last week must have come as a startling wake-up call." - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ);

"(...) we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression." - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ);

"Russia no longer shares any of the values and principles of the G-8, so they should be excluded." - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ);

"Russian actions, in clear violation of international law, have no place in 21st century Europe (...) We must remind Russia's leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect for the values, stability and peace of that world." - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ);

"This should be unacceptable to all the democratic countries of the world, and should draw us together in universal condemnation of Russian aggression." - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ);

"Military force will not resolve this dispute. The only viable long-term solution is international mediation and peacekeeping." - Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen J. Harper;

"Georgia is a sovereign nation, and its territorial integrity must be respected (...)" - President George W. Bush;

"With its actions in recent days, Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world. Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century. Only Russia can decide whether it will now put itself back on the path of responsible nations or continue to pursue a policy that promises only confrontation and isolation." - President George W. Bush.
Now replace "Georgia" with "(a few choices among so many: Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq)", and "Russia" with "U.S.A.", and then you get - you guessed it - that same old Sixth Principle of Incompetence.

Not taking into account the sheer incompetence-driven hypocrisy likewise at work here.

Hence the conclusion that Russia has acted as responsibly, as a superpower, as the U.S. have been (and still are) acting.

In other words - the bottom line remains: incompetence all across the board.

And I, for one, am getting rather sick and tired of this same old song being played over and over again.

(Cross-posted at NION, The Wild Wild Left, NetRoots, The Peace Tree, and Progressive Historians)

The Neocons Do Georgia

Humanity's Greatest Enemy?
By Paul Craig Roberts

The success of the Bush Regime’s propaganda, lies, and deception with gullible and inattentive Americans since 9/11 has made it difficult for intelligent, aware people to be optimistic about the future of the United States. For almost 8 years the US media has served as Ministry of Propaganda for a war criminal regime. Americans incapable of thinking for themselves, reading between the lines, or accessing foreign media on the Internet have been brainwashed.

As the Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, said, it is easy to deceive a people. You just tell them they have been attacked and wave the flag.

It certainly worked with Americans.

The gullibility and unconcern of the American people has had many victims. There are 1.25 million dead Iraqis. There are 4 million displaced Iraqis. No one knows how many are maimed and orphaned.

Iraq is in ruins, its infrastructure destroyed by American bombs, missiles, and helicopter gunships.

We do not know the death toll in Afghanistan, but even the American puppet regime protests the repeated killings of women and children by US and NATO troops.

We don’t know what the death toll would be in Iran if Darth Cheney and the neocons succeed in their plot with Israel to bomb Iran, perhaps with nuclear weapons.

What we do know is that all this murder and destruction has no justification and is evil. It is the work of evil men who have no qualms about lying and deceiving in order to kill innocent people to achieve their undeclared agenda.

That such evil people have control over the United States government and media damns the American public for eternity.

America will never recover from the shame and dishonor heaped upon her by the neoconned Bush Regime.

The success of the neocon propaganda has been so great that the opposition party has not lifted a finger to rein in the Bush Regime’s criminal actions. Even Obama, who promises “change” is too intimidated by the neocon’s success in brainwashing the American population to do what his supporters hoped he would do and lead us out of the shame in which the neoconned Bush Regime has imprisoned us.

This about sums up the pessimistic state in which I existed prior to the go-ahead given by the Bush Regime to its puppet in Georgia to ethnically cleanse South Ossetia of Russians in order to defuse the separatist movement. The American media, aka, the Ministry of Lies and Deceit, again accommodated the criminal Bush Regime and proclaimed “Russian invasion” to cover up the ethnic cleansing of Russians in South Ossetia by the Georgian military assault.

Only this time, the rest of the world didn’t buy it. The many years of lies--9/11, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda connections, yellowcake, anthrax attack, Iranian nukes, “the United States doesn’t torture,” the bombings of weddings, funerals, and children’s soccer games, Abu Ghraib, renditions, Guantanamo, various fabricated “terrorist plots,” the determined assault on civil liberties--have taken their toll on American credibility. No one outside America any longer believes the US media or the US government.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... Paul Craig Roberts pulls no punches; he calls it as he sees it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

War À La Carte

How the U.S. Invited a War in South Ossetia
By Eric Walberg

Last week, Georgia launched a major military offensive against the rebel province South Ossetia, just hours after President Mikheil Saakashvili had announced a unilateral ceasefire. Close to 1,500 have been killed, Russian officials say. Thirty thousand refugees, mostly women and children, streamed across the border into the North Ossetian capital Vladikavkaz in Russia.

The timing — and subterfuge — suggest the unscrupulous Saakashvili was counting on surprise. “Most decision makers have gone for the holidays,” he said in an interview with CNN. “Brilliant moment to attack a small country.” Apparently he was referring to Russia invading Georgia, despite the fact that it was Georgia which had just launched a full-scale invasion of the “small country” South Ossetia, while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was in Beijing for the Olympics. Twenty-seven Russian peacekeepers and troops have been killed and 150 wounded so far, many when their barracks were shelled by Georgian forces at the start of the invasion. Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili rushed to announce that their mini-blitzkreig had destroyed ten Russian combat planes (Russia says two) and that Georgian troops were in full control of the capital Tskhinvali.

Russia’s Defense Ministry denounced the Georgian attack as a “dirty adventure.” From Beijing, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, “It is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia.” He later added, “War has started.” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev vowed that Moscow will protect Russian citizens — most South Ossetians hold Russian passports. The offensive prompted Moscow to send in 150 tanks, to launch air strikes on nearby Gori and military sites, and to order warships to Georgia’s Black Sea coast.

Keep Reading...

punditman says ...Among many things, the above article goes on to explain that a thousand Israeli military advisers from Israeli security firms have been training the country’s armed forces and were deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to attack and capture the capital of South Ossetia. It's all insane. But you won't read about that little tidbit in your newspaper or hear about it on CNN.

The True Georgia-Russia War Enablers?


Putin’s War Enablers: Bush and Cheney

by Juan Cole

The run-up to the current chaos in the Caucasus should look quite familiar: Russia acted unilaterally rather than going through the U.N. Security Council. It used massive force against a small, weak adversary. It called for regime change in a country that had defied Moscow. It championed a separatist movement as a way of asserting dominance in a region it coveted.

Indeed, despite George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s howls of outrage at Russian aggression in Georgia and the disputed province of South Ossetia, the Bush administration set a deep precedent for Moscow’s actions — with its own systematic assault on international law over the past seven years. Now, the administration’s condemnations of Russia ring hollow.

Bush said on Monday, responding to reports that Russia might attack the Georgian capital, “It now appears that an effort may be under way to depose [Georgia’s] duly elected government. Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century.” By Wednesday, with more Russian troops on the move and a negotiated cease-fire quickly unraveling, Bush stepped up the rhetoric, announcing a sizable humanitarian-aid mission to Georgia and dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region.

Full article...

Friday, August 15, 2008

War (What is it Good For?) - Joan Osborne, Bob Weir

punditman says...An awesome, soul-felt version of the Edwin Starr classic.

Rep. Wexler recommends impeachment hearings 7/25/08

More Neocon Wet Dreams?

Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?
By Robert Scheer

Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?

Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government who ended his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser.

Previously, Scheunemann was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

There are telltale signs that he played a similar role in the recent Georgia flare-up. How else to explain the folly of his close friend and former employer, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in ordering an invasion of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, an invasion that clearly was expected to produce a Russian counterreaction? It is inconceivable that Saakashvili would have triggered this dangerous escalation without some assurance from influential Americans he trusted, like Scheunemann, that the United States would have his back. Scheunemann long guided McCain in these matters, even before he was officially running foreign policy for McCain’s presidential campaign.

In 2005, while registered as a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Scheunemann worked with McCain to draft a congressional resolution pushing for Georgia’s membership in NATO. A year later, while still on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to that country, where they met with Saakashvili and supported his bellicose views toward Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Full Article...

punditman says ...
The article above notes, "What a stark contradiction that the United States, which championed Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, now is ignoring Georgia’s invasion of its ethnically rebellious provinces."

This observation is no surprise to anyone who has ever read Chomsky. In fact, it is the usual hypocritical, propaganda-driven double standard we've come to expect from each and every US administration, obediently parroted by Western media outlets.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When The Press Calls For War (Again)

Press Calls for War in the Caucasus: The Smell of Propaganda in the Morning

There are two sides bleeding and too many dead in what is hopefully the aftermath of a weekend war in the Caucasus. And right on cue, the prime opinion space for the American mind is being occupied this Monday morning by a propagandist for perpetual war.

"Will Russia get away with it?" asks the beaming columnist for the New York Times, his smile winking at you as if no way he could be talking up death and disaster.

On one side of the world, writes the propagandist, you have "the United States and its democratic allies." On the other side, you'll find "dictatorial and aggressive and fanatical regimes" who "seem happy to work together to weaken the influence of the United States and its democratic allies."

"The United States, of course, is not without resources and allies to deal with these problems and threats," hints the propagandist. "But at times we seem oddly timid and uncertain." Which brings us around to his winking question again: "Will we let Russia get away with it?"

But what if we paraphrase a famous movie hero and remind the propagandist that aggressive is as aggressive does. Then, we may ask, which side of the propagandist's world last Thursday picked up its guns and blasted a path through the Caucasus Mountains to the city of Tskhinvali, killing as many local militia as possible and quite a few others who somehow got in the way?

Full Article ...

punditman says ...
As usual Big Media are falling right into line in the service of their political masters who think a new Cold War is a neat idea.
Thus, they (Russia)=always Evil
& We (the West and our wonderful allies) =always Good.
Welcome to kindergarten, kids.
Have any of you seen this movie before?

Monday, August 11, 2008

On Diebold and Draft Beer

punditman says...

Like all humans, punditman requires sustenance. This requires money, or at least the illusion of having it. And like most globalized citizens trying to stay afloat in a sea of chaos and unease, he usually gets it via his ATM access card. (Note: To add a modicum of pleasure and sanity to his hectic life, he is also known to sample local craft beers).

So this morning Punditman drove his broken-down gas-leaking jalopy to his neighbourhood ATM, in an attempt to drive his self further into overdraft. Much to his chagrin, the machine was "temporarily out of service."

It was at this point that he noticed something he had never before observed: he was speaking about himself in the third person! -- just like Tricky Dick Nixon did in his last drunken days in office. More to the point: Punditman also noticed the word Dieobold engraved on the ATM machine -- and though he was not yet caffeinated -- he still was awake enough know this was a bad sign in more ways than one.

For all he knows, Diebold could have been stamped on every ATM machine he has ever used for the last twenty-five years, but being a concept-based learner, Punditman is not known for being all that visually observant, as confirmed by those close to him. He then went to two other ATM locations, only to find the same "out of service" message. It was at this point that Punditman verified a distinct pattern. Punditman now believes that the rot in the US economy has finally spread north and that his bank has actually run out of money. Until such time that cash once again magically flows into his debt-ridden hands through the wonders of drive-through technology, he will keep believing this.

Punditman then waxed philosophically about a bygone era, when the outcome of a Superpower's elections could not be determined by a black box voting system run by corrupt, corporate criminals who just happen to be connected to the corrupt, corporate incumbents in the White House -- and who just happen to run the software and ATM services from which one's very life blood flows.

Punditman also recalled a time when he got his beer money from a bank teller and when he ran out, he had no *overdraft* ;-)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Erratic Blogging Ahead ...

Between "new house" stuff to be taken care of and incoming heavy (writing) load at work, blogging on my part will be erratic over the next couple of weeks, folks.

My apologies for the inconvenience ...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Those Criminals In Power

A high powered trio for tonight's Ode.

First, we have Black Sabbath - The Mob Rules:

Second, we have Judas Priest - Breaking The Law:

And for the finale, we have Metallica - ... And Justice For All:

Pretty much summarizes everything nowadays, no?

Keep on rockin' ...

After The Hamdan "Verdict": Do You Feel Safe Now?

The following article pretty much says it all - I've got nothing really to add, other than what I've previously written here, here, here, here and here:

Do You Feel Safe Now?
By Paul Craig Roberts

Now that military officers selected by the Bush Pentagon have reached a split verdict convicting Salim Hamdan, a onetime driver for Osama bin Laden, of supporting terrorism, but innocent of terrorist conspiracy, do you feel safe?

Or are we superpower Americans still at risk until we capture bin Laden’s dentist, barber, and the person who installed the carpet in his living room?

The Bush Regime with its comic huffings and puffings is unaware that it has made itself the laughing stock of the world, a comedy version of the Third Reich.

Hamdan was not defended by the slick lawyers that got O.J. Simpson off, and he most certainly did not have a jury of his peers. Hamdan was defended by a Pentagon appointed US Navy officer, and his jurors were all Pentagon appointed US military officers with an eye on their careers. Even in this Kangaroo Court, Hamdan was cleared of the main charge.

The US Navy officer who was Hamdan’s appointed attorney is certainly no terrorist sympathizer. Yet even this United States officer said that the rules Bush designed for the military tribunals were designed to achieve convictions. He also said that the judge allowed evidence that would not have been admitted by any civilian or military US court. He said that the interrogations of Hamdan, which comprised the basis of the Bush Regime’s case, were tainted by coercive tactics, including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

Does this make you a proud American?

Do you think you are made more safe when you stand there while “your” government implements its own version of Joseph Stalin’s show trials?

The trial and conviction of Hamdan has made every American very unsafe.

The one certain fact about US law is that it is expanded until it applies to everyone. Consider RICO, for example, the asset freeze law that was intended only in criminal cases involving the Mafia; it wasn’t long before RICO found its way into civil divorce proceedings.

Bush’s multi-year, multi-billion dollar “war on terror” has been reduced to railroading a low level employee, a driver, for “terrorism.”

One would hope that the Hamdan verdict would be enough shame and ridicule for the US in one day. But no, Bush didn’t stop there. On his way to the Beijing Olympics, President Bush expressed “deep concerns” for the state of human rights in China.

But not in Guantanamo, nor in Abu Ghraib, nor in the CIA’s torture dungeons used for “renditions,” nor in Iraq and Afghanistan where the US is expert at bombing weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games, and every assortment of civilians imaginable.

As the good book says, clean the beam from your own eye before pointing to the mote in your brother’s eye.

But Americans, the salt of the earth, have neither beams nor motes. We are the virtuous few, ordained by God to impose our hegemony on the world. It is written, or so say the neocons.

What would President Bush say if, heaven forbid, the Chinese were as rude as he is and asked Mr. Superpower why the land of “freedom and democracy” has one million names on a watch list. China with a population four times as large doesn’t have a watch list with one million names.

What would President Bush say if China asked him why the US, with a population one-fourth the size of China’s has hundreds of thousands more of its citizens in prison? The percentage of Americans in prison is far higher than in China and is a larger absolute number.

What would President Bush say if China asked him why he used lies and deception to justify his invasion of Iraq. China, unlike Bush, is not responsible for 1.2 million dead Iraqis and 4 million displaced Iraqis.

Keep reading ...