Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gov. Spying on Ordinary Americans. . .and Congress stands idly by...

"To renew the inner strength of the nation, the Church Committee first recalled the threats that arise when the executive branch is allowed to operate in secrecy and without constraint:

The natural tendency of Government is toward abuse of power. Men entrusted with power, even those aware of its dangers, tend, particularly when pressured, to slight liberty.

Our constitutional system guards against this tendency. It establishes many different checks upon power. It is those wise restraints which 'keep men free. In the field of intelligence those restraints have too often been ignored.

The three main departures in the intelligence field from the constitutional plan for controlling abuse of power have been: (a) Excessive Executive Power.

In a sense the growth of domestic intelligence activities mirrored the growth of presidential power generally. But more than any other activity, more even than exercise of the war power, intelligence activities have been left to the control of the Executive.

For decades Congress and the courts as well as the press and the public have accepted the notion that the control of intelligence activities was the exclusive prerogative of the Chief Executive and his surrogates. The exercise of this power was not questioned or even inquired into by outsiders. Indeed, at times the power was seen as flowing not from the law, but as inherent, in the Presidency.

Whatever the theory, the fact was that intelligence activities were essentially exempted from the normal system of checks and balances. Such Executive power, not founded in law or checked by Congress or the courts, contained the seeds of abuse and its growth was to be expected.

(b) Excessive Secrecy.

Abuse thrives on secrecy. Obviously, public disclosure, of matters such as the names of intelligence agents or the technological details of collection methods is inappropriate. But in the field of intelligence, secrecy has been extended to inhibit review of the basic programs and practices themselves.

Those within the Executive branch and the Congress who would exercise their responsibilities wisely must be fully informed. The American public, as well, should know enough about intelligence activities to be able to apply its good sense to the underlying issues of policy and morality.

Knowledge is the key to control. Secrecy should no longer be allowed to shield the existence of constitutional, legal and moral problems from the scrutiny of all three branches of government or from the American people themselves.

(c) Avoidance of the Rule of Law.

Lawlessness by Government breeds corrosive cynicism among the people and erodes the trust upon which government depends.

Here, there is no sovereign who stands above the law. Each of us, from presidents to the most disadvantaged citizen, must obey the law. As intelligence operations developed, however, rationalizations were fashioned to immunize them from the restraints of the Bill of Rights and the specific prohibitions of the criminal code. The experience of our investigation leads us to conclude that such rationalizations are a dangerous delusion.

Senator Church was even blunter in his rejection of the "spin" that would have Americans believe their government is protecting them or spreading democracy when it employs secret electronic eavesdropping at home or "covert action" abroad. Covert action, explained the Idaho Democrat, is nothing more than "a semantic disguise for murder, coercion, blackmail, bribery, the spreading of lies, whatever is deemed useful to bending other countries to our will."

The Church Committee's plan to counter the abuses of the executive branch boiled down to a call for Congress to recognize anew that:

The Constitutional amendments protecting speech and assembly and individual privacy seek to preserve values at the core of our heritage, and vital to our future. The Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court's decisions interpreting it suggest three principles which we have followed:

(1) Governmental action which directly infringes the rights of free speech and association must be prohibited. The First Amendment recognizes that even if useful to a proper end, certain governmental actions are simply too dangerous to permit at all. It commands that "Congress shall make no law" abridging freedom of speech or assembly.

(2) The Supreme Court, in interpreting that command, has required that any governmental action which has a collateral (rather than direct) impact upon the rights of speech and assembly is permissible only if it meets two tests. First, the action must be undertaken only to fulfill a compelling governmental need, and second, the government must use the least restrictive means to meet that need. The effect upon protected interests must be minimized.

(3) Procedural safeguards -- "auxiliary precautions" as they were characterized in the Federalist Papers -- must be adopted along with substantive restraints. For example, while the Fourth Amendment prohibits only "unreasonable" searches and seizures, it requires a procedural check for reasonableness-the obtaining of a judicial warrant upon probable cause from a neutral magistrate. Our proposed procedural checks range from judicial review of intelligence activity before or after the fact, to formal and high level Executive branch approval, to greater disclosure and more effective Congressional oversight.

It is notable that Senator Church was especially concerned about the threat posed by the National Security Agency if a future president were to abuse those powers.

"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss," explained Church. "That is the abyss from which there is no return."

Three decades after the Church Committee submitted its final report, President Bush admits to ordering the NSA to spy on the telephone conversations of Americans on American soil without obtaining warrants.

Most of Congress stands idly by.

For the entirely of this article see, or
The Nation,
Frank Church and the Abyss of Warrantless Wiretapping
by John Nichols

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hard Power vs Soft Power and "Coercive Democratization"

Donald Rumsfeld and smart power
Goals such as promoting democracy and human rights are better achieved by soft power. Coercive democratisation has its limits _ as the United States and, hopefully, Donald Rumsfeld have learned in Iraq


The United States' Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, recently spoke about the Bush administration's global war on terror. In this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms in New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere. Our enemies have skilfully adapted to fighting wars in the media age, but for the most part we have not. The good news is that Mr Rumsfeld is beginning to realise that the struggle against terrorism cannot be won by hard military power alone. The bad news is that he still does not understand soft power, the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion.

As The Economist commented about Mr Rumsfeld's speech, until recently he plainly regarded such a focus on soft power as, well, soft part of Old Europe's appeasement of terrorism.

Now Mr Rumsfeld finally realises the importance of winning hearts and minds, but, as The Economist put it, a good part of his speech was focused on how, with slicker PR, America could win the propaganda war.

In other words, in blaming the media for America's problems, Mr Rumsfeld forgot the first rule of marketing: if you have a poor product, not even the best advertising will sell it.

Mr Rumsfeld's mistrust of the European approach contains a grain of truth. Europe has used the attractiveness of its Union to obtain outcomes it wants, just as the US has acted as though its military pre-eminence could solve all problems.

But it is a mistake to count too much on hard or soft power alone. The ability to combine them effectively is smart power.

During the Cold War, the West used hard power to deter Soviet aggression, while it used soft power to erode faith in communism behind the Iron Curtain. That was smart power.

To be smart today, Europe should invest more in its hard-power resources, and America should pay more attention to its soft power.

During President George Walker Bush's first term, Secretary of State Colin Powell understood and referred to soft power, whereas Mr Rumsfeld, when asked about soft power in 2003, replied, ''I don't know what it means.'' A high price was paid for that ignorance.

Fortunately, in his second term, with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes at the State Department and Mr Rumsfeld's reputation dented by failures that in the private sector would have led to his firing or resignation, Mr Bush has shown an increased concern about America's soft power.

Of course, soft power is no panacea. For example, soft power got nowhere in attracting the Taliban government away from its support for al-Qaeda in the 1990s. It took hard military power to sever that tie.

Similarly, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il likes to watch Hollywood movies, but that is unlikely to affect his decision about whether to give up his nuclear weapons programme. Such a choice will be determined by hard power, particularly if China agrees to economic sanctions.

Nor will soft power be sufficient to stop Iran's nuclear programme, though the legitimacy of the Bush administration's current multilateral approach may help to recruit other countries to a coalition that isolates Iran.

But other goals, such as promoting democracy and human rights, are better achieved by soft power. Coercive democratisation has its limits, as the US has learned in Iraq.

This does not mean that Mr Rumsfeld's Pentagon is irrelevant to American soft power. Military force is sometimes treated as synonymous with hard power, but the same resource can sometimes contribute to soft power.

A well-run military can be a source of attraction, and military cooperation and training programmes can establish transnational networks that enhance a country's soft power.

The US military's impressive work in providing humanitarian relief after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 helped restore America's attractiveness, and enhanced its soft power.

But the misuse of military resources can also undercut soft power. The Soviet Union possessed a great deal of soft power in the years after World War II. But the Soviet Union's attractiveness as liberators was destroyed by the way they later used their hard power against Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Brutality and indifference to just war principles of discrimination and proportionality can also destroy legitimacy. The efficiency of the initial American military invasion of Iraq in 2003 created admiration in the eyes of some foreigners.

But this soft power was undercut by the inefficiency of the occupation, the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and the policy initiated by Mr Rumsfeld of detainment without hearings at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

To be sure, no on expects that we can ever attract people like Mohammed Atta or Osama bin Laden. We need hard power to deal with such cases. But today's terrorist threat is not Samuel Huntington's clash of civilisations. It is a civil war within Islam between a majority of normal people and a small minority who want to coerce others into accepting a highly ideological and politicised version of their religion.

We cannot win unless the moderates win. We cannot win unless the number of people the extremists recruit is lower than the number we kill and deter.

Mr Rumsfeld may understand this calculus in principle, but his words and actions show that he does not know how to balance the equation in practice.

Doing so, and thus being in a position to win the war, is impossible without soft power.

Joseph S Nye is a Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard and author of ''Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics''.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2006.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Narcissistic Leaders

April 24, 2006

Narcissistic Leaders

By Sam Vaknin

"It was precisely that evening in Lodi that I came to believe in myself as an unusual person and became consumed with the ambition to do the great things that until then had been but a fantasy."

(Napoleon Bonaparte, "Thoughts")

"They may all e called Heroes, in as much as they have derived their purposes and their vocation not from the calm regular course of things, sanctioned by the existing order, but from a concealed fount, from that inner Spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which impinges on the outer world as a shell and bursts it into pieces - such were Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon ... World-historical men - the Heroes of an epoch - must therefore be recognized as its clear-sighted ones: their deeds, their words are the best of their time ... Moral claims which are irrelevant must not be brought into collision with World-historical deeds ... So mighty a form must trample down many an innocent flower - crush to pieces many an object in its path."

(G.W.F. Hegel, "Lectures on the Philosophy of History")

"Such beings are incalculable, they come like fate without cause or reason, inconsiderately and without pretext. Suddenly they are here like lightning too terrible, too sudden, too compelling and too 'different' even to be hated ... What moves them is the terrible egotism of the artist of the brazen glance, who knows himself to be justified for all eternity in his 'work' as the mother is justified in her child ...

In all great deceivers a remarkable process is at work to which they owe their power. In the very act of deception with all its preparations, the dreadful voice, expression, and gestures, they are overcome by their belief in themselves; it is this belief which then speaks, so persuasively, so miracle-like, to the audience."

(Friedrich Nietzsche, "The Genealogy of Morals")

"He knows not how to rule a kingdom, that cannot manage a province; nor can he wield a province, that cannot order a city; nor he order a city, that knows not how to regulate a village; nor he a village, that cannot guide a family; nor can that man govern well a family that knows not how to govern himself; neither can any govern himself unless his reason be lord, will and appetite her vassals; nor can reason rule unless herself be ruled by God, and be obedient to Him."

(Hugo Grotius)

The narcissistic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture, and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in narcissistic societies.

The malignant narcissist invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and this is further exacerbated by the trappings of power. The narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are supported by real life authority and the narcissist's predilection to surround himself with obsequious sycophants.

The narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".

The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.

The narcissistic leader is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people - or humanity at large - should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, the narcissistic leader became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman".

But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.

In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" - or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to as "nature" is not natural at all.

The narcissistic leader invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial - though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols - not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism - and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" - against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

Minorities or "others" - often arbitrarily selected - constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin ... They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenceless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm - together with Stalin - as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

The narcissistic leader prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime - the narcissistic leader having died, been deposed, or voted out of office - it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely-held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of the narcissist. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform with the narcissistic narrative.

Thus, a narcissist who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite - is highly unlikely to use violence at first.

The pacific mask crumbles when the narcissist has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, the prime sources of his narcissistic supply - have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, the narcissist strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. "The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)", "they don't really know what they are doing", "following a rude awakening, they will revert to form", etc.

When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail - the narcissist is injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized - is now discarded with contempt and hatred.

This primitive defense mechanism is called "splitting". To the narcissist, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. A narcissistic leader is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc.

The "small people", the "rank and file", the "loyal soldiers" of the narcissist - his flock, his nation, his employees - they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated - is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of the narcissist. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

First published here:

Authors Website:

Authors Bio: Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Global Politician, Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101. Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. Visit Sam's Web site at

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Fear Factor by Bob Herbert, NY Times.

The Fear Factor
by Bob Herbert
The New York Times
April 17, 2006

However one feels about Zacarias Moussaoui -- that he's a madman with a martyr complex who had very little to do with the Sept. 11 plot, or that he's a terrorist with the blood of thousands on his hands -- his sentencing trial and contemptible public behavior have reacquainted us with the awful physical suffering and profound emotional agony unleashed by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Moussaoui has gone out of his way to make it clear that the attacks and their stunning toll delighted him. "It make my day," is a favorite phrase of his.

For most observers, the toughest part of last week's proceedings came when tape recordings were played of the voices of men and women trapped inside the World Trade Center. As I listened to the victims pleading desperately for help as the smoke and flames closed in on them, the same thought came repeatedly to mind:

We were attacked by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. What are we doing in Iraq?

On Sept. 14, 2001, in a widely hailed appearance amid the still-smoking rubble of ground zero in Lower Manhattan, President Bush told rescue workers that "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." He was answered with chants of, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"

But the administration's eye was already on Iraq. That's the war the president and his cronies wanted. It didn't matter that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had had nothing to do with Sept. 11. Iraq is where the bulk of our combat forces and most of the money and other resources would be committed.

It seems incredible, but the war against Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda -- a wholly justified war against an enemy that had killed more than 3,000 Americans -- was given short shrift. If you want a sense of this administration's priorities, and the tragic gap between the president's rhetoric and reality, think Tora Bora.

Mr. Bush got a lot of attention with his Hollywood cowboy proclamation that he wanted bin Laden dead or alive. He had his chance. In December 2001, bin Laden was trapped in his mountainous hideout in Tora Bora, in eastern Afghanistan.

You might have thought that Mr. Bush, in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, would have used all the forces at his disposal to capture or kill the man responsible for the worst attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor. But if you thought that, you would have been wrong.

Americans bombarded Tora Bora. But the all-important effort on the ground to surround and close in on bin Laden and his forces was contracted out by the administration to a clownish, quarrelsome group of Afghan thugs and miscreants. When a Marine general all but begged to be allowed to bring his men in to do the job, he was turned down.

Bin Laden escaped into Pakistan and hundreds of his followers scattered.

The man Mr. Bush really wanted was Saddam Hussein. And he pulled out all the stops to get him.

It is time for the American people to wise up. From the very beginning, the so-called war on terror was viewed by the Bush crowd as a magical smoke screen, a political gift from the gods that could be endlessly manipulated to justify all kinds of policies and behavior -- including the senseless war in Iraq -- that otherwise would never have been tolerated by the American people.

The tapes of people trapped in the World Trade Center, and the cockpit recording of the panic and final struggles from United Airlines Flight 93, which was also played at Moussaoui's sentencing trial last week, are chilling reminders that the fear of terror attacks inside the U.S. is based very much on reality.

That fear, and the patriotism felt by so many millions of Americans, have been systematically exploited by the administration. The invasion of Iraq was not about terror. It was about oil and schoolboy fantasies of empire and whatever weird oedipal dynamics were at work in the Bush family.

The war has been a disaster. At the same time, the administration's unscrupulous exploitation of fear and patriotism has opened the door to such gruesome and morally indefensible activities as torture, warrantless spying on Americans and the wholesale incarceration of foreigners -- perhaps for life -- who have no real chance to confront their accusers or answer the charges against them.

All of this should be kept in mind as we consider the fact that the administration that once had its hostile eye on Iraq now has it trained like a laser on Iran.
Posted: April 18, 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

IRAQI BLUNDERS DISSECTED BY NSA DIRECTOR, major foreign policy analysis.,

April 22, 2006


major foreign policy lecture at Brown U.

By Michael Hammerschlag

by Michael Hammerschlag
Full Audio (realplayer) 52 min

Providence, RI: April 7

Former National Security Agency Director Lt. General William Odom dissected the strategic folly of the Iraq invasion and Bush Administration policies in a major policy speech at Brown University for the Watson Institute- America's Strategic Paralysis . "The Iraq War may turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history. In a mere 18 months we went from unprecedented levels of support after being one of the most hated countries. Turkey used to be one of strongest pro-US regimes, now we're so unpopular, there's a movie playing there- Metal Storm, about a war between US and Turkey. In addition to producing faulty intel and ties to Al Qaida, Bush made preposterous claim that toppling Saddam would open the way for liberal democracy in a very short time... Misunderstanding the character of American power, he dismissed the allies as a nuisance and failed to get the UN Security Council's sanction. We must reinforce international law, not reject and ridicule it."

Odom, now a Yale professor and Hudson Institute senior fellow, was director of the sprawling NSA (which monitors all communications) from 1985-88 under Reagan, and previously was Zbigniew Brzezinski's assistant under Carter. His latest 2004 book is America's Inadvertent Empire.

Even if the invasion had gone well, Odom says it wouldn't have mattered: "The invasion wasn't in our interests, it was in Iran's interest, Al Qaida's interest. Seeing America invade must have made Iranian leaders ecstatic. Iran's hostility to Saddam was hard to exaggerate.. Iraq is now open to Al Qaida, which it never was before- it's easier for terrorists to kill Americans there than in the US.. Neither our leaders or the mainstream media recognize the perversity of key US policies now begetting outcomes they were designed to prevent. 3 years later the US is bogged down in Iraq, pretending a Constitution has been put in place, while the civil war rages, Iran meddles, and Al Qaida swells its ranks with new recruits.. We have lost our capacity to lead and are in a state of crisis- diplomatic and military."

Odom believes in an immediate phased withdrawal. "There isn't anything we can do by staying there longer that will make this come out better. Every day we stay in, it gets worse and the price gets higher."

He decried the "sophomoric and silly" titled war on terrorism. "Terrorism cannot be defeated because it's not an enemy, it's a tactic. A war against Al Qaida is sensible and supportable, but a war against a tactic is ludicrous and hurtful- a propaganda ploy to swindle others into supporting one's own terrorism ... and encourages prejudices against Muslims everywhere. What if we said, 'Catholic Christian IRA hitmen?' "

"The hypocrisy is deeper than this. By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In 1978-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism- in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation."

The fixation on spreading democracy was wrongheaded. "Holding elections is easy, creating stable constitutional orders is difficult. Only 8-9 of 50 new democracies created since the 40's have a constitutional system. Voting only ratifies the constitutional deal that has been agreed to by elites- people or groups with enough power- that is guns and money, to violate the rules with impunity. Voting does not cause a breakthrough. One group will win out and take them off the path to a liberal breakthrough .. Spreading illiberal democracy without Constitutionalism is a very bad idea, if we care about civil liberties. We are getting that lesson again in Hamas."

Odom called for a "great reduction in US oil consumption" and pilloried our "energy policy of no energy policy. As long as large sums of money roll into the coffers of a few Middle East states, a lot of it will leak into the hands of radical political activists. A "$2-3 a gallon tax could fund massive R+D programs for alternative fuels and generate a strong demand for greater fuel efficiency. Getting serious about nuclear power could also lessen our oil dependency."

"No government that believes radical terrorist groups in Middle East are serious threat to us would do any less on energy policy."

Withdrawing our troops from Europe and NE Asia was also dangerous, he said. "Large US land forces in Europe and East Asia have been important in keeping the peace among our allies, allowing businessmen to lower transaction costs and account for unparalleled economic growth... President Clinton reduced the Army by about half, but Bush's deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan "will leave the US unprepared to meet any other significant military contingency, leaving only one brigade in Germany and one in Italy", and eroding troop levels in Korea and Japan. Rumsfeld's plans threaten to "hollow out NATO, ensuring the failure of military transformations of its new members."

The adult crowd was wowed by the extraordinary density of strategic wisdom and expertise in the hour lecture and Q+A. Asked about the current NSA spying controversy, Odom said, "Well he just invited you to invite me to commit a felony. 18 US Code798 says 'to disclose anything about how signal intelligence is done is a felony.' " "Oh come on, Bill," joshed a professor to a round of laughter. "After 9-11 Congress was willing to do anything. It's inconceivable to me that they would not have cooperated to find a legal way to do this (warrantless spying)."

Most radically, Odom sees the US obsession with non-proliferation of nukes as damaging. "It dictated the invasion of Iraq, and now inspires calls for invading Iran. At the same time we ignore Israeli nukes, we embrace Pakistan and India, in spite of their nukes. This policy is not only perverse, but downright absurd. We will have more proliferation and we better get used to it."

A reporter's question about the benefits of an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities provoked a fervent response. "I think we could have a rapprochement with Iran. You do that and you put it off for another 20 years. You want to be at war with all the Muslims forever?" Regarding a nuclear terrorist attack on a US city, "It's gonna be bad. But they won't kill us with one nuke. We can track a nuke back to the country where it came from (at least the fissile material, if there is a recorded elemental signature). These people know that! If we deterred the Soviet Union, think we can't deter these pipsqueaks? We're talking ourselves into hysteria. Now we have the incentives so structured that we cause proliferation.. If we bomb, good God man, that tells everyone in the world, get a nuke. We won't bomb you if you have a nuke."

He agreed that a catastrophic 10 year civil war like Lebanon was "a pretty realistic view. Iran has told the Shiites, 'don't fight, do what the Americans tell you- the electoral process will put you in power, meanwhile we're arming you and building up your militias.' The Sunni insurgency is trying to provoke the civil war while we're still there so they're not left to face these militias after we've leave." The Kurds "will get as much autonomy as they can and back out of the system. An independent Kurdistan is likely, but the two factions of Peshmerga might fight. Al Qaida can't operate up there, so that will be a stable little island. But Kurdish independence won't please Iran, Syria, or Turkey- a NATO ally."

The victory of the numerically dominant Shiites (4 to 1) isn't assured. "Odds look better for the Shiites right now. But the organizational capacity of the Baathists remain sufficient to be a serious contender. How much confidence and capability are these Iranian trained Shiite militias developing? They could fragment among themselves. The clerics may or may not be good organizers of the troops and police. The Baathist Party was modeled after the Soviet system- their ability to implement and impose and compel is pretty impressive. Syria is a pretty stable regime; Iraq was a stable regime." The civil war could spread the Shiite-Sunni conflict among Arabs in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, maybe Bahrain.

Iraq "will have some sort of dictatorship- either a highly disciplined party or military organization. We just don't have fragmented societies with such deep sectarian and ethnic divisions that are also nice stable liberal systems. Look at Canada with just two ethnic groups, that teeters occasionally. Where is Saddam when you need him?"

On escaping Iraq: "Once it became obvious I was getting out, I would go to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Turkey, and Iran and say, 'I invite you to this meeting to handle stabilization issues as I get out.' I would have a secret chamber with Iran and say, 'You hate the Taliban, we hate the Taliban; you want to sell oil, we need to buy oil; your alliance with Russia is very unnatural; if you want to discuss the West Bank- I'll talk about it but won't give anything away.' "

" 'Oh, and by the way, I'm taking the nuclear issue off the table. You want nukes, have them. You live in a bad neighborhood.' There's no single diplomatic move that would so revolutionize our position up there."

In North Korea Odom anticipates a collapse. "That regime is very much like the Soviet regime, they do not transform, they degenerate. When the leadership loses capacity or will to blood or terrorize the population, it collapses." He sees a sudden reunification of the Koreas, followed by tensions with ancient overseer Japan. "Those 2 countries don't like each other."

The Koreans say, 'The Americans are crazy.'- just look at the public opinion polls and attitude of the South Korean government. Kim Jong Il knows just what to do to get the US to spin up in the air 3 times and bribe him on the way down. I see us on autopilot on a self-destructive path. China's slowly replacing us. They're becoming the peacemaker- they're the ones who use their hegemony to settle things constructively."

Odom sees ominous parallels with Vietnam. "How did we get in the (Vietnam) war? Phony intelligence over the Tonkin Gulf affair. Once we got in, it was not legitimate to go back and talk about strategic purpose, we were only allowed to talk about how we were doing- the tactics. We would not go back and ask whether this was in our interests. I see the pattern so clearly here. We have Iraqization- if they stand up, we'll stand down. Training troops is not the problem. Political consolidation, not military consolidation, is the issue. Unless troops know to whom they should be loyal, they'll fight some days, not others (and maybe against the wrong side)."

"If they (military power) get ahead of political consolidation, we know what happens then- a military coup."

"This was imminently foreseeable by my poly sci colleagues who did not stand up and speak out loudly enough at the absurdity of spreading democracy when we're really talking about Constitutionalism. Creating Constitutions- we don't know how to do that! (at least not for 220 years) We are essentially paralyzed and can't do much in the world cause we are bogged down in Iraq."

"The declinists wake us up, so that we avoid decline; but the endists urge us to celebrate as we drift towards disaster. Those who urged us to invade Iraq are endists; I'm a declinist. but only to revive my strategic optimism."

Michael Hammerschlag's commentary and articles ( have appeared in Seattle Times, Providence. Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Hawaii Advertiser, Capital Times, MediaChannel; and Moscow News, Tribune, Times, and Guardian. He spent 2 years in Russia from 1991-94, while the Empire collapsed and multiple wars raged in the Islamic southern republics.

NSA Director Gen. William Odom -new (REALAUDIO) Dissects strategic blunders of Iraq, escape strategies, geopolitical consequences, civil war, Iran attack, Korea- April 7 - 52 min- Brown Univ., Watson Institute INFO excellent
MY QUESTIONS on IRAN BOMBING (realaudio) + @ 2:03 HANDICAPPING IRAQ CIVIL WAR - 7:14 min total WindowsMedia

Friday, April 21, 2006


Published on Friday, April 21, 2006 by the Chicago Sun-Times
How Did Seeking Rights Become Wrong?
by Andrew Greeley

(My Perspective: Guess what the American Indian called the first illegal immmigrants in this country? "White man." Fact: We stole most of this country, by hook or crook, from the Indians.)

One hears warnings these days that the massive immigrant rights demonstrations may produce a backlash. Admittedly, the demonstrations have been peaceful, the crowds are well-behaved and the leaders have been moderate in their public statements.

But won't people ask why they dare to demonstrate in favor of their rights? They are illegal, are they not? What makes them think they have rights? Do not their protests increase the anger of those Americans who want to see them sent home or incarcerated as felons? Why don't they go back to acting like frightened chickens, lest the American people rise up in righteous anger and smite them? By definition they have no claim on rights at all. And how dare they wave the Mexican flag when they march?

African Americans, women, gays and just about everyone else have the constitutional freedom to protest the violation of their rights -- and to carry whatever flag suits their fancy, no matter how much their protests and flags offend those who do not like them. Moreover, other immigrant groups have waved Irish or Italian tricolors or Polish eagles, and no one has complained. Why must the Mexicans not demonstrate that they believe that they can be Americans and Mexicans at the same time, that the hyphen is not a disjunction but an equal sign, not a way of opting out of society but becoming American like everyone else?

The answer from the nativists is that those who are illegals have no rights in this country because they have violated the law. In fact, they are not criminals, they are human beings, and they can legitimately claim all rights that accrue to humanity: the right to assemble, the right to seek redress of grievance, the right to a speedy trial, the right to due process of the law. To be in the country illegally is a civil violation -- like driving too fast or smoking in a forbidden place or jaywalking or spitting on the sidewalk. Indeed, if the ineffable Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has his way, Congress will define them as felons. The protests are aimed directly at this felony by definition.

What was it Mr. Jefferson said? All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights?

If their behavior indeed becomes felonious by act of Congress, they have the right to a trial by jury and due process of the law. One wonders how the good congressman intends to process 11 million felony trials. The protests at this writing have been remarkably peaceful, even on some occasions festive, as though the immigrants enjoy at long last a little flexing of the political muscle that is the right of everyone in the country.

The American theory is not that we bestow rights on humans by legislation or constitution. Rather, we affirm what is part of our common humanity. Many countries do not acknowledge the existence of such rights. You have only the rights that the law gives you. In America we believe that laws exist to sustain and protect human rights without regard to race, creed or color. The illegal immigrant has as many rights as do members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

I fear that the protests could become violent, not because the marchers are a violent people -- they are in fact ideal Americans, devoutly and joyously religious, dedicated to family life and hard work, and with the gift of laughter -- but because the yahoos, the neo-Nazis, the folks who strut around in jack boots and leather jackets might initiate violence. Anti-immigrant riots would not be a novelty in American society.

Unless Congress passes some kind of equitable immigration law before summer, violence is a very real possibility. The so-called deadlock on Capitol Hill is in fact the result of the desire of some members of Congress to run against the immigrants in the November election. That is a risky gamble.

We Americans are not Shiiites and Sunnis. However, the hatred of many Americans for the immigrants, allegedly on the grounds that they are guilty of a civil violation, creates a fertile environment for ethnic rage. Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard has suggested that the immigrants will create an American Quebec that will divide the country in two. That's nonsense, but it is in the power of the Congress and the sensible majority of the American people to prevent the imposition of such a divide.

© 2006 Chicago Sun-Times

Thursday, April 20, 2006

a Crisis Almost Without Equal. .. namely the Bush team. . .

Published on Thursday, April 20, 2006 by the Editor & Publisher
A Crisis Almost Without Equal
by Craig Mitchell

No matter which party they generally favor or political stripes they wear, newspapers and other media outlets need to confront the fact that America faces a crisis almost without equal in recent decades.

Our president, in a time of war, terrorism, and nuclear intrigue, will likely remain in office for another 33 months, with crushingly low approval ratings that are still inching lower. Facing a similar problem, voters had a chance to quickly toss Jimmy Carter out of office, and did so. With a similar lengthy period left on his White House lease, Richard Nixon quit, facing impeachment. Neither outcome is at hand this time.

The alarm should be bi-partisan. Many Republicans fear their president's image as a bumbler will hurt their party for years. The rest may fret about the almost certain paralysis within the administration, or a reversal of certain favorite policies. A Gallup poll this week revealed that 44% of Republicans want some or all troops brought home from Iraq. Do they really believe that their president will do that any time soon, if ever?

Democrats, meanwhile, cross their fingers that Bush doesn’t do something really stupid -- i.e. prematurely nuke Iran -- while they try to win control of at least one house in Congress by doing nothing yet somehow earning (they hope) the anti-Bush vote.

Meanwhile, a severely weakened president retains, and has shown he is willing to use, all of his commander-in-chief authority, and then some.

No wonder so many are starting to look for a way to shorten or short-circuit the extended crisis period. Republicans demand a true shake-out at the White House. This week at Vanity Fair online, Carl Bernstein is calling for a Watergate-style congressional probe of possible high crimes and misdemeanors. Even Neil Young is weighing in with a soon-to-be-released song that urges, "Let’s impeach the president -- for lying."

But rather than push impeachment for partisan reasons, the Democrats will actually put it off -- for partisan reasons. An unpopular president helps their drive for votes in November, and everything else is secondary.

So let’s assume, as Nixon might put it, that we do have George Bush to kick around for another almost-three-years. How worried should we be about the possible damage he might inflict -- and what can the press do about it?

Consider Thomas Friedman’s column in The New York Times today, and its implications.

Friedman, who still supports the Iraq war, opens by declaring that given a choice between a nuclear Iran and an attack on that country engineered by the White House, he would choose the former. That’s how little he trusts the diplomatic and military chops of Bush, Rumsfeld, Condi and Co. He cites "the level of incompetence that the Bush team has displayed in Iraq, and its refusal to acknowledge any mistakes or remove those who made them."

But then he goes on: "I look at the Bush national security officials much the way I look at drunken drivers. I just want to take away their foreign policy driver's licenses for the next three years. Sorry, boys and girls, you have to stay home now -- or take a taxi. ... You will not be driving alone. Not with my car."

The problem -- the crisis -- is that Bush and Co. likely WILL be driving the “car” for 33 more months.

Friedman knows this: "If ours were a parliamentary democracy, the entire Bush team would be out of office by now, and deservedly so. ... But ours is not a parliamentary system, and while some may feel as if this administration's over, it isn't. So what to do? We can't just take a foreign policy timeout."

Perfectly said. Again, the crisis, even if he didn’t call it that: "We can’t just take a foreign policy timeout."

Friedman, however, is very late in doubting the competence of this crew, and he still backs away from the scary wider view. What to do? he asks. He suggests that Rumsfeld depart, of course, and then he gets into specifics of how diplomacy might work re: Iran. That leaves hanging the reality of Bush continuing to serve as Master and Commander of the Iraq war and all other foreign policy into 2009.

I don’t have a solution myself now, although all pleas for serious probes, journalistic or official, of the many alleged White House misdeeds should be heeded. But my point here is simply to start the discussion, and urge that the media, first, recognize that the crisis—or, if you want to say, impending crisis -- exists, and begin to explore the ways to confront it.

Greg Mitchell is editor of E&P and author of seven books on politics, media and history. Email to:

© 2006 VNU eMedia Inc.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Descent into Anger and Despair, by James Carroll, Boston Globe

Descent into Anger and Despair
by James Carroll
copyright, Boston Globe

Last week, the rattling of sabers filled the air.
Various published reports, most notably one from Seymour M. Hersh in The New Yorker, indicated that Washington is removing swords from scabbards and heightening the threat aimed at Iran, which refuses to suspend its nuclear project. It may be that such reports, based on alarming insider accounts of planning and military exercises, are themselves part of Washington's strategy of coercive diplomacy. But who can trust the Bush administration to play games of feint and intimidation without unleashing forces it cannot control, stumbling again into disastrous confrontation?

An Iranian official dismissed the talk of imminent US military action as mere psychological warfare, but then he made a telling observation. Instead of attributing the escalations of threat to strategic impulses, the official labeled them a manifestation of "Americans' anger and despair."

The phrase leapt out of the news report, demanding to be taken seriously. I hadn't considered it before, but anger and despair so precisely define the broad American mood that those emotions may be the only things that President Bush and his circle have in common with the surrounding legions of his antagonists. We are in anger and despair because every nightmare of which we were warned has come to pass. Bush's team is in anger and despair because their grand and -- to them -- selfless ambitions have been thwarted at every turn. Indeed, anger and despair can seem universally inevitable responses to what America has done and what it faces now.

While the anger and despair of those on the margins of power only increase the experience of marginal powerlessness, the anger and despair of those who continue to shape national policy can be truly dangerous if such policy owes more to these emotions than to reasoned realism. Is such affective disarray subliminally shaping the direction of US policy? That seems an impudent question. Yet all at once, like an out-of-focus lens snapping into clarity, it makes sense of what is happening. With the US military already stressed to an extreme in Iraq by challenges from a mainly Sunni insurgency, why in the world would Washington risk inflaming the Shi'ite population against us by wildly threatening Iran?

But such a thing happened before. It was the Bush administration's anger and despair at its inability to capture Osama bin Laden that fueled the patent irrationality of the move against Saddam Hussein. The attack on Iraq three years ago was, at bottom, a blind act of rage at the way Al Qaeda and its leaders had eluded us in Afghanistan; a blindness that showed itself at once in the inadequacy of US war planning. Now, with Iran, nuclear weapons are at issue. And yet look at the self-defeating irrationality of the Bush team's maneuvering. How do we hope to pressure Tehran into abandoning its nuclear project? Why, by making our threat explicitly nuclear.

Seymour Hersh, citing a "former official," reported that US warplanes near Iran "have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions -- rapid ascending maneuvers known as 'Over the shoulder' bombing -- since last summer." Such an exercise puts on display an American readiness to use tactical nuclear weapons against Iranian nuclear facilities. Whether the maneuvers have actually been carried out or not, even authoritative reports of them represent an extraordinarily irresponsible brandishing of the heretofore unthinkable weapon: To keep you from getting nukes, we will nuke you.

As if that were not irrational enough, the Bush administration chose this month, in the thick of its nuclear standoff with Tehran, to reveal plans for a new nuclear weapons manufacturing complex of its own -- a major escalation of US nuclear capacity. This represents a movement away from merely maintaining our thousands of warheads to replacing them. The promise of new bombs to come, including the so-called bunker-buster under development, may be the final nail in the coffin of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which binds Washington to work for the elimination of nukes, not their enhancement.

Set the cauldron of Iraq to boiling even hotter by daring Iran to join in against us. Justify Iran's impulse to obtain nuclear capacity by using our own nuclear capacity as a thermo-prod. How self-defeating can our actions get?

Surely, something besides intelligent strategic theory is at work here. Yes. These are the policies of deeply frustrated, angry, and psychologically wounded people. Those of us who oppose them will yield to our own versions of anger and despair at our peril, and the world's. Fierce but reasoned opposition is more to the point than ever.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

Copyright © 2006 Boston Globe

Thursday, April 13, 2006

We are all immigrants. . .don;t freak out.

April 13, 2006

Tell A Friend
In essence, we are all immigrants with blood lines that crisscross the world.

by Allen L Roland

We are a nation of immigrants and should be proud of it. French, English, Irish and Welsh blood runs through my veins and maybe some American Indian.

Soon we whites will be the minority, particularly in California, and the Hispanic, African and Asian Americans will be the majority.

So what ~ In essence, we are all immigrants with blood lines that crisscross the world.

Yes, In truth, we are all brothers and sisters, on this increasingly shrinking planet, who are being forced to unite, cooperate and eventually love one another.

Or as columnist Eugene Robinson wrote ~ Don't freak out, folks. It's not the end of the world ~ You might ask your black neighbors for advice on how to cope.

Allen L Roland


Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

I don't think the immigration debate is about economics . . . It's about culture and it's about fear. Among other things, it's about this voice-mail message: "Para continuar en español, oprima el numero 2. To continue in Spanish, press 2."

Many Anglos in Phoenix and elsewhere were surprised by the size of the protests two weeks ago, but the demonstrations were coordinated and publicized in the open, on Spanish-language radio.

Latino immigrants in this recent wave, whether they intend to stay permanently or just work for a while and go home, are learning English but also keeping their Spanish -- and the fact is the United States now has a de facto second language. That seems to frighten a lot of people. . .

Maybe the real fear is more visceral . . . Maybe it's that you don't have to extrapolate immigration and fertility rates very far into the future to see an America in which minorities -- Hispanic, African and Asian Americans -- are a majority.

To put it another way: an America in which whites join the rest of us as just another minority. That's already the case in our two most populous states, California and Texas, according to the Census Bureau, with others including New York, Arizona and Florida likely to follow soon.

Don't freak out, folks. It's not the end of the world. You might ask your black neighbors for advice on how to cope.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Constant Perks for Corporate Interests, courtesy of Congress

Published on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 by TruthDig
The Daily Drip of Special Favors for Special Interests
by Molly Ivins

We need to keep up with the daily drip, that endless succession of special favors for special interests performed by Congress, or we’ll never figure out how we got so far behind the eight ball. While the top Bushies lunge about test-driving new wars (great idea—the one we’re having is a bummer, so let’s start another!), Congress just keeps right on cranking out those corporate goodies.

Earlier this month, the House effectively repealed more than 200 state food safety and public health protections. Say, when was the last time you enjoyed a little touch of food poisoning? Coming soon to a stomach near you. What was really impressive about H.R. 4167, the “National Uniformity for Food Act,” is that it was passed without a public hearing.

“The House is trampling crucial health safeguards in every state without so much as a single public hearing,” said Erik Olson, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This just proves the old adage, ‘Money talks.’ The food industry spared no expense to ensure passage.”

Thirty-nine attorneys general, plus health, consumer and environmental groups, are opposing the law. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the food industry has spent more than $81 million on campaign contributions to members of Congress since 2000.

The bill would automatically override any state measure that is stronger than federal law, the opposite of what a sensible law would do. The NRDC says state laws protecting consumers from chemical additives, bacteria and ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions would be barred, and that includes alerts about chemical contamination in fish, health protection standards for milk and eggs, and warnings about chemicals or toxins such as arsenic, mercury and lead. Happy eating, all.

Here’s another little gem, one of those “it was after midnight and everyone wanted to go home” deals. Just a no-cost sweetener to encourage oil and gas companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico—and who needs more encouragement these days than the oil companies? The poor things are making hardly any money at all. Just have the federal government waive the royalty rights for drilling in the publicly owned waters. Turns out this waiver will cost the government at least $7 billion over the next five years.

I roared with laughter upon reading that Texas Rep. Joe Barton had assured his colleagues the provision of energy bill was “so non-controversial” that senior House and Senate negotiators had not even discussed it. That’s one of the oldest ploys in the Texas handbook of sneaky tricks and has been successfully used to pass many a sweet deal for the oil industry.

“The big lie about this whole program is that it doesn’t cost anything,” Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey told The New York Times. “Taxpayers are being asked to provide huge subsidies to oil companies to produce oil—it’s like subsidizing a fish to swim.”

Then there are daily drips so strange it’s hard to tell if members of Congress are clear on what they’re doing. You may have heard that more and more corporations are backing out of their pension obligations and dumping the responsibility on an under-funded federal agency.

So the push is on to get companies to pony up for the pension agency. According to the Financial Times: “Employers will be able to slash their contributions to under-funded pension schemes by tens of billions of dollars over the next five years under proposed legislation before Congress that was expected to have the opposite effect. The legislation was proposed by the White House last year to lessen the risk of a taxpayer bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal safety net for pension schemes.”

Brilliant. Anyone know how the White House went from protecting the Benefit Guaranty Corp. to slashing corporate contributions by tens of billions? Did they send Michael “Brownie” Brown to do the job?

Long ago, Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in few hands and the republic is destroyed.”

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In?

© 2006 Creators Syndicate

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

COME CLEAN, MR. CHENEY. Public Trust is involved here.

Paschal: Until straight, verifiable answers are given in this leaking of the cover of a secret CIA agent, there is the possibility of using public trust in a criminal conspiracy to discredit a critic of the war. My Cheney should be required to come clean in a no-holds barred interview, not on White House friendly Fox news, where syncophancy (colloguial phrase is "sucking up") prevails.

Answers, Mr. Cheney
Chicago Tribune,
Published April 11, 2006

Vice President Dick Cheney is among the most secretive members of the Bush administration. But he's been in his bunker long enough. It's time for him to answer some questions--and not in the friendly venue of Fox News
Given the allegations about his role in the surreptitious disclosure of classified information related to the war in Iraq, Americans have a right to hear his story. The best way to get it is by an unscripted news conference in which the vice president confronts all the questions that have been raised. For him to remain silent amid the current turmoil suggests that he--or the president--has something to hide.

Cheney has long been suspected of involvement in revealing the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame--whose husband, Joseph Wilson, had publicly disputed the Bush administration on Saddam Hussein's supposed attempts to obtain uranium for nuclear weapons. The vice president's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges over conversations he had with reporters about Plame.

Last week, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald filed a brief that says Libby also leaked secret information from a CIA report on Iraq. According to this account, Libby says the vice president instructed him to tell a reporter that a key finding of a 2002 intelligence assessment was that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium from Africa. The brief also says Libby was told by Cheney that President Bush had personally authorized the disclosure of this classified material.

The White House has not denied that allegation. In fact, it turns out that the president had ordered the intelligence estimate to be declassified. But whether the facts support what Libby reportedly says--or what Cheney purportedly told him--is yet to be established. A senior administration official told The New York Times that though Bush declassified the report, he did not tell anyone to discuss it with journalists.

So someone is lying. It could be that Libby acted on his own in leaking the information. It could be that Cheney told him to do so without the president's approval. Or it could be that Bush was behind the leak. Those are questions that the Cheney ought to step forward and answer, along with questions about the unmasking of Plame.

Another issue worth scrutiny goes to the accuracy of, and motive for, the leak. It came in July 2003, when the administration was being faulted for its failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq--which sparked claims that it dissembled in the runup to war. The leak was meant to show that the president had solid grounds to think Hussein might acquire nuclear weapons.

We now know, however, that the leak itself was anything but solid. In the first place, the charge about Hussein's quest for uranium was not among the four "key judgments" of the assessment. In the second place, far from confirming that allegation, the report said the evidence was "inconclusive."

Why would someone in the White House want to perpetrate this sort of deception? Excusing the failure to find the forbidden weapons is one explanation. Another, offered by prosecutor Fitzgerald, is that it was part of a "concerted action" to "discredit, punish or seek revenge" against Wilson.

Bush was well within his authority to declassify the report. But for anyone in the administration to misrepresent its conclusions, particularly if the motive was to punish a critic, is an abuse of the public trust on a subject of the gravest urgency--the decision to go to war.

Who was responsible for that apparent misconduct?
We don't know. But the American people deserve an answer. And a no-holds-barred news conference with the vice president would go a long way toward providing one.

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Monday, April 10, 2006

What. A. Freaking. Hypocrite!

'L'etat, c'est moi'

Geov Parrish -

04.10.06 - In 2003, while pledging to fire anyone in his administration found to have leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Wilson to journalists, President George Bush intoned that he did not know of "anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."


Pick your favorite Bush quote on this topic; there are countless good ones, now that we learn that former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, when forced by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to testify under oath to save his own skin, fingered both Bush and his former boss, Dick Cheney. Libby testified that they both authorized the leaking of classified National Intelligence Estimate information on Iraq in July 2003 in order to defend the administration's decision to unilaterally invade Iraq. A president who has ordered the launching of widespread investigations to find leakers in the CIA and State Department, including the polygraphing of scores of intelligence professionals, the man who wants the NSA spying and CIA gulag whistleblowers prosecuted, is himself a leaker. And the same testimony revealed that Bush was aware at every step of the way of the ongoing campaign to publicly smear Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Wilson. Pick your sanctimonious Bush statements about that, too.

What. A. Freaking. Hypocrite.

And, as we've come to expect, a liar. Stop the presses. We're so accustomed to the lies of George Bush being uncovered after the fact, we don't even notice any longer.

And they thought Clinton's behavior brought disgrace to the Oval Office.

Beyond those obvious morsels, however, lies the disturbing legal rationale for the Bush/Cheney leak, offered up by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (naturally) and already arrived at Scott McClellan's mouth. The White House, tellingly, has not denied any of Libby's testimony (including the Wilson conspiracy). The leak was legal and proper, the defense goes, because the president's verbal authority is enough to declassify classified information, and by authorizing its release Bush automatically declassified it.

The White House is sticking to this story even though much of the cherry-picked NEI Iraq data was formally declassified ten days after the leak, so that the Bush administration could further defend its choice to invade. According to the White House, the later declassification shows that the NEI data wasn't all that important and that the leak didn't damage national security. But that misses the point. If Bush's word is enough to declassify classified information, why did the White House feel the need to "formally declassify" the material ten days later? Wasn't the deed already done, on Bush's sole verbal authority?

Now they're claiming that's the case, and the Bush NEI leak rationale follows an all-too-familiar theme: Bush cannot break the law, because Bush is the law. He can't leak a document, because if he says it's OK to release the document it's therefore by definition not a leak. Just like torture is illegal except when George says it's not. Or warrantless domestic wiretapping is illegal, except when he authorizes it.

Bush and the people around him appear to have genuinely believed, for at least the four and a half years since 9-11, that the President by definition is incapable of breaking the law. On his sole authority laws can be ignored, overridden, or changed. Even implicitly. Even retroactively, as when some unappetizing piece of this puzzle inadvertently comes to the public's attention.

Combine this with an administration more intent on secrecy and lack of transparency than any other in U.S. history, and you have a recipe for, well, a dictatorship. Which is exactly what it appears Bush and company believe they are operating in. Oh, of course, in normal times America is a democracy, but these aren't normal times, are they? Why? Because we're at war. Why are we at war? Because the President said so. How long will the war last? Several generations. After that, presumably, the Constitution will be in force again, and Congress and the courts can re-convene if they like.


The tendency will be for this leak headline, as with so many Bush scandals before it, to slip from the news after a few days, with the gutless Republican-controlled Congress rendered irrelevant and the Republican-appointed courts years away from final rulings on any of this nonsense. But the recurrent theme of a President and his administration which believe they are above the law -- Bush on his own say-so, and the rest of them acting on his presumed authority -- is more than a scandal. It is a direct challenge to the Constitution of the United States of America. You know, the "freedom" that politicians like Bush enjoy invoking when talking about the soldiers they're sending to kill and be killed in one or another illegal, pointless War On Brown People.

It is more evident than ever that this President and Vice President need to be impeached. Not because it is or isn't politically expedient; not even because their successors might be any better, or because it will be an advantage for one or another party in 2008. But because this sort of behavior in the most powerful job in the world must be punished, in the clearest possible manner. Justice demands it. Setting an example, to try to prevent similar abuses by future leaders from any party, demands it.

Otherwise, we might as well cancel that 2008 presidential election and be done with this farce we call an electoral process. Sooner or later, should Bush go unpunished, somebody in power is going to try to do exactly that sort of thing. When they do, they'll cite national security and the need for stable and experienced political leadership in a time of war, and when they do, they'll cite the precedents set by George Bush and permitted by the Congress, courts, and American public of his day. And our country's long, mostly successful experiment in representative democracy will be over.

Perhaps it already is.

(c) 2006,

Iraq and the Legacy of Abraham

Iraq and the Legacy of Abraham
by James Carroll
The Boston Globe
April 10, 2006

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are referred to as Abrahamic religions, a description aiming to head off the clash of civilizations by emphasizing a common connection to the patriarch whose name means ''father of multitudes."

Yet Jews, Christians, and Muslims are more than mere cousins. The imaginative breakthrough represented in the story of Abraham offers a first measure of the meaning of human existence. If his descendants were more fully in touch with that meaning, Iraq would be a different place today, and the religions would not be on the cusp of war.

Abraham's story comes to us from Genesis. What makes it important is all that precedes it. The Bible begins as a set of creation myths, narratives about Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah, the Flood, the tower of Babel -- anecdotes that few contemporary readers take in any literal sense. They are stories from the era of ''once upon a time," and they define the concern of the Creator as extending to the entire scope of creation.

But at the end of the 11th chapter of Genesis, something new happens, a shift from the universal to the specific, from timelessness to ''that time then"; from never-never land to a particular locale -- a bridge of land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. One day on our calendar, a specific individual, whom scholars believe actually to have existed, became the subject of the biblical text. That was the true beginning of the world-view we take for granted.

''Leave your country, your family, and your father's house for the land I will show you," God said to this person. ''I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so it will be used as a blessing."

The call of Abraham marks the beginning of human historical consciousness, a direct consequence of the revolutionary affirmation that God meets human beings by meeting one human being at one time, and at one place. The God who addresses Abraham in effect orders him to leave the realm of the purely mythical for ''the land I will show you."

Here is the difference between Abraham's God and the gods of Ur or Egypt: This God acts not out of time, but in it; not in the other world, but in this one; not in heaven, but on earth. This Creator is invested in creation not in general, but in particular. Therefore history -- what happens here and now -- is of ultimate significance. This means that the value of mere abstractions must be measured against the real-world consequences of their implementation.

The war in Iraq today was launched without regard for such consequences, and we see the result. The genius insight of Genesis is that when God is understood as the God of history, then history -- what happens in time among human beings -- takes on absolute value. The ideal, therefore, must always be measured against the real.

The death of each man, woman, and child who has died in Iraq across the last three years equals, in the eyes of the God who called Abraham by name, the death of all that exists. Each person is of infinite worth. If war makers had calculated their decisions on this scale, they would have found another way to proceed. War must be a last resort, not a first reaction.

But the story of Abraham makes another point. In addition to being the God of history, this God is the God of freedom. Not freedom in the shallow rhetoric of American politics, but freedom that defines each human choice as having as much significance as the very acts of God.

Abraham's call, with the fate of multitudes at stake, meant nothing until Abraham said yes to it. But the possibility of that yes presumed the possibility of its opposite. God, in freedom, initiates. Abraham, in freedom, responds. But as subsequent verses of Genesis make clear, Abraham's will and God's are not identical, and that is the way this God wants things to be.

A God of freedom invites a response, but does not coerce it. Why? Because in this way the God of history makes humans responsible for history.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims bear the weight of this precious legacy, embodied in our common ancestor. History matters absolutely. So does each human life. And so does every human choice. Absolute responsibility follows. That this wisdom first showed itself in the landscape across which war now rages is another reason to end it.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe. His most recent book is "Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War."

© 2006 The Boston Globe


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Why Iraq was a Mistake, by a military insider.

Time magazine
Sunday, Apr. 09, 2006
Why Iraq Was a Mistake
A military insider sounds off against the war and the "zealots" who pushed it

Two senior military officers are known to have challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the planning of the Iraq war. Army General Eric Shinseki publicly dissented and found himself marginalized. Marine Lieut. General Greg Newbold, the Pentagon's top operations officer, voiced his objections internally and then retired, in part out of opposition to the war. Here, for the first time, Newbold goes public with a full-throated critique:

In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture--who became career members of the military during those rough times--the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again.

From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough.

I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.

With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.

Before the antiwar banners start to unfurl, however, let me make clear--I am not opposed to war. I would gladly have traded my general's stars for a captain's bars to lead our troops into Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And while I don't accept the stated rationale for invading Iraq, my view--at the moment--is that a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake. It would send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists' message that America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts. If, however, the Iraqis prove unable to govern, and there is open civil war, then I am prepared to change my position.

I will admit my own prejudice: my deep affection and respect are for those who volunteer to serve our nation and therefore shoulder, in those thin ranks, the nation's most sacred obligation of citizenship. To those of you who don't know, our country has never been served by a more competent and professional military. For that reason, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.

What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results.

Flaws in our civilians are one thing; the failure of the Pentagon's military leaders is quite another. Those are men who know the hard consequences of war but, with few exceptions, acted timidly when their voices urgently needed to be heard. When they knew the plan was flawed, saw intelligence distorted to justify a rationale for war, or witnessed arrogant micromanagement that at times crippled the military's effectiveness, many leaders who wore the uniform chose inaction. A few of the most senior officers actually supported the logic for war. Others were simply intimidated, while still others must have believed that the principle of obedience does not allow for respectful dissent. The consequence of the military's quiescence was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, al-Qaeda, became a secondary effort.

There have been exceptions, albeit uncommon, to the rule of silence among military leaders. Former Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki, when challenged to offer his professional opinion during prewar congressional testimony, suggested that more troops might be needed for the invasion's aftermath. The Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense castigated him in public and marginalized him in his remaining months in his post. Army General John Abizaid, head of Central Command, has been forceful in his views with appointed officials on strategy and micromanagement of the fight in Iraq--often with success. Marine Commandant General Mike Hagee steadfastly challenged plans to underfund, understaff and underequip his service as the Corps has struggled to sustain its fighting capability.

To be sure, the Bush Administration and senior military officials are not alone in their culpability. Members of Congress--from both parties--defaulted in fulfilling their constitutional responsibility for oversight. Many in the media saw the warning signs and heard cautionary tales before the invasion from wise observers like former Central Command chiefs Joe Hoar and Tony Zinni but gave insufficient weight to their views. These are the same news organizations that now downplay both the heroic and the constructive in Iraq.

So what is to be done? We need fresh ideas and fresh faces. That means, as a first step, replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach. The troops in the Middle East have performed their duty. Now we need people in Washington who can construct a unified strategy worthy of them. It is time to send a signal to our nation, our forces and the world that we are uncompromising on our security but are prepared to rethink how we achieve it. It is time for senior military leaders to discard caution in expressing their views and ensure that the President hears them clearly. And that we won't be fooled again.

Copyright © 2006 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in wh

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Libby Sings; Bush Smears: Criminal Conspiracy?

Published on Friday, April 7, 2006 by the
Libby Sings
by John Prados

The irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Just a few months ago defenders of the Bush administration were lambasting Justice Department prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald for engaging in a fishing expedition that might hurt President George W. Bush. The pundits considered Fitzgerald’s indictment for perjury of former vice-presidential aide I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby to be politically motivated and wrong.

To recap, Libby’s alleged perjury occurred during his testimony to a grand jury investigating the blown cover of CIA clandestine officer Valerie Plame Wilson, bound up in a White House bid to neutralize criticism of the Iraq war. The Plame affair started as an effort to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whom the CIA had sent to Niger to look into charges that Iraq was buying uranium ore there. Wilson found nothing to substantiate the claim and subsequently became a critic of Bush’s resort to war. His wife was outed in an attempt to undermine Wilson’s charges.

Continued legal filings in the case now reveal Prosecutor Fitzgerald as a guardian of White House secrets and Scooter Libby plus his defense team as assiduously implicating President Bush. For those who questioned George Bush’s modus operandi in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq and afterwards these are perhaps not unexpected developments. But the gradual emergence of the contents of the Libby grand jury testimony is important not only because it contradicts the president’s public denials of the leaks, but also for potentially placing the president at the center of a smear campaign.

Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s April 5 response to the Libby team’s latest motion to compel discovery of a vast array of documents discloses that Vice President Dick Cheney told Libby that President Bush had “specifically” authorized officials in the summer of 2003 to reveal certain contents of the secret U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. There will be an argument over whether Bush or Cheney actually had that authority (which is vested in the Director of Central Intelligence by a law on the books since 1949) but that is not the concern here. Rather, the disclosure of this deliberate Bush leak—given to Judith Miller of The New York Times and others—provides new evidence that the White House regarded the top secret NIE not as an intelligence appreciation but as fodder for political warfare. In fact on July 12 Cheney ordered Libby to speak to the press about the NIE.

The new evidence also says something about Bush secrecy. This administration has moved on many levels to restrict public—and even official—access to information. Cutting off flows of data formerly routinely provided to Congress or the public, defenestrating access to the records of former presidents mandated by the Presidential Records Act, curbing the Freedom of Information Act, refusing to describe to Congress its domestic communications interception program and most recently reclassifying documents in the public domain for years. Suddenly we see President Bush, without a care, releasing secret records he felt would bolster his case.

Moreover, the way in which this was done should send shudders down the spine: according to the Fitzgerald filing, Scooter Libby told the grand jury that “he understood that even in the days following his conversation with Ms. Miller, other key officials—including Cabinet level officials—were not made aware of the earlier declassification even as those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification of the NIE, the report about Wilson’s trip and another classified document dated January 24, 2003,” evidently a reference to the materials assembled by CIA officer Robert Walpole regarding Iraq’s weapons programs and used for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s speech to the United Nations Security Council a couple of weeks later. If Libby’s testimony is accurate, documents were to be simultaneously deemed secret and declassified, depending upon White House whim, convenience, or legal liability.

This is the same administration that is seeking to prosecute those who leaked information considered less favorable to its cause, such as the fact of the National Security Agency’s dubious domestic spying program or the existence of the CIA’s secret prison network. Under the interpretation of the Espionage Act the Bush Justice Department is using to prosecute two former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, even reporters who gain access to such information, media that inform the public of it, or persons who merely possess the information are currently at risk, although the statute appears to criminalize only the act of leaking. Indeed, the law makes it necessary for the NIE data not to be classified in order for Libby to legally leak it. There may be an argument here that under the Bush interpretation of the statute the act of declassification to abet a leak could amount to a criminal conspiracy, in this case by President George Bush himself.

Those who contend that there was no Bush effort to make political use of intelligence in the months leading up to the war will now have an even harder time of it. At various points during those months there were similarly orchestrated leaks—of claims about aluminum tubes supposedly being used in an Iraqi nuclear weapons program and of alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda to name just two. And there were carefully prepared occasions where Bush officials took advantage of those leaks to advance the cause of war. The events of July 2003 demonstrate that this was a standard administration tactic, not an aberration. Given the circumstances, the need for a “Phase II” investigation of the political use of intelligence for the Iraq war becomes inescapable.

The most important aspect of the new evidence is that it locates the center of the effort to discredit Ambassador Wilson, and of the actions taken to further that aim, squarely within the Oval Office. If that project rose to the level of a criminal conspiracy, or if anything done to further that goal was in fact illegal, it is George W. Bush who must be called to account. That is a very troubling development indeed. The censure motion introduced by Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold may turn out to be merely the opening salvo in a very intense political battle.

John Prados is a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., and author of Hoodwinked: The Documents that Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War (The New Press).

© 2006

Friday, April 07, 2006


Would Jesus Be a Democrat or a Republican?
by Jack Clark

Republican Christians certainly would not think that Jesus would be a Democrat, yet -- as with most things -- they are wrong.

We are given some hints in the Bible and the Catholic Church's teachings about whether Jesus would be a Democrat or a Republican:

· In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus proclaims that how you treat the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and other "least of these," is how you treat Jesus himself. And if you fail to help the "least of these," Jesus promises, he will send you to Hell.

· Catholic social doctrine holds that the resources of the earth, and the output of man's work, are meant to be shared equitably by all.

· The Catholic Church calls for a "preferential option for the poor."

· An overwhelming concern for the poor and for economic justice permeates the Old Testament.

· There is the redistribution of wealth injunction of the Old Testament Jubilee Year, when slaves were released and land returned to its original owners. [67]

· And last but not least, do I even have to bring up the clarion words of Jesus repeated in virtual identical fashion in three of the Gospels:

Mark 10:25

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. [other translations] [68]

Such a teaching directly out of the mouth of Christ does not indicate a favorable attitude towards the type of unbridled accumulation of wealth celebrated by Republican right-wing pseudo-Christians. [69]

To hear the Republican pseudo-Christians, the Messiah's real name must have been Jesus “Adam Smith” Christ. Could someone please tell me where Jesus extols the effectiveness – let alone the morality -- of trickle-down economics? Or the genius of the "free market"? Or where Jesus indicates even in the slightest way that the Matthew 25 suffering "least of these" should not be helped?

The average Democrat, at least in his or her concern that the world's goods be distributed equitably and that the suffering "least of these" be helped, seems a lot closer to the words of Jesus, the entire Bible, and Catholic Church social doctrine than does the blind, idol-level market-worship of Republican pseudo-Christians. [70]

In short, is not "Do unto others…" the very essence of Democratic goals, and the opposite of the operating principle of the Republican Golden Calf, unregulated capitalism?

Democrat vs. Republican Jesus: The Big Picture

On the overall question of redistribution of wealth and income, having rich people is fine, as long as no one is dying because the rich hoard too much of the wealth. Once everyone is at least minimally taken care of, then the super-greedy can be allowed to have more than their fair share. [71]

The Democratic case, however, is that because the rich monopolize such a grotesquely huge share of the income and wealth, there's not enough left for everyone else. [72]

The top 10% of individuals in the United States receive 46% of the income and control 71% of the wealth in this country. Globally, 25% of the people receive 75% of the income, and the richest 20% of the world's population monopolizes 86 per cent of global wealth. [73]

In other words: 80% of humanity must try to survive on a mere 14% of the world's wealth. To look at it in perhaps more comprehensible terms: Dividing up $100 among ten people in the same proportions would produce two people with $4.30 each, and 8 people with 18 cents each. How can anyone doubt that such an inequitable division of the world's resources means that those at the bottom will suffer and die as the very least of "the least of these"? [74]

Bottom line: it really isn't about Democrats, Republicans, liberalism, conservatism, or any other -ism. It's only about ensuring the well-being of "the least of these."

The purpose here is not to argue that Jesus would be a "Democrat" and not a "Republican" if he were alive today. It is to point out how ludicrous it is for people who profess to be Christians to hyperventilate solely because serious measures to ameliorate economic injustice are proposed.

At the very minimum, Jesus would be for enough regulation of capitalism to accomplish the Matthew 25:31-46 goals, not for the law-of-the-jungle, let-them-suffer-it's-their-own-fault Hobbesianism of the the Republican right-wing.


This article is an adapted short excerpt from my extended essay entitled:

Matthew 25:31-46: WWJD?

What Would Jesus Do? Jesus Would Send All These Right-Wing Pseudo-Christians Straight
To Hell (And Democrats May Not Be Far Behind)

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