Fear, Procurement, Profit: Permanent War and the American Way

Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 06:07 pm
When it comes to determining the true thrust and implication of world events, the old adage is still valid: "Follow the money."

The lust for long green is not the sole determinant of state policies, of course. For example, there are also the psychosexual anxieties of blustering elites, the soul-corroding pathology of political ambition, the ignorance and arrogance of the powerful and the privileged, the herd instinct that can drive whole populations into self-deluding frenzies of nationalistic fervor -- all kinds of factors in the mix. But money is never not in the center of things.

This is especially true in systems where war and rumors of war have become the foundation of the national economy. This is the ultimate condition of every empire (or rather the penultimate position; the ultimate position is the inevitable decline and fall). And the United States, with its globe-spanning military empire, is no exception. Here we have a nation that has stripped its own industrial base, brutally neglected its educational system, allowed its physical infrastructure to rot, and driven its small-holding farmers from the land, dispossessing its own citizens and degrading their communities, all for the short-term profit of a moneyed elite -- and, what's more, has based its prosperity on the profligate and disproportionate use of a finite resource which it cannot produce in sufficient quantities within its own borders.
.............................................Democrats are going to be "keeping all options on the table." I've always wondered whether this phrase includes the possibility of America and Israel giving up all their nuclear weapons. I mean, that's an option"surely if all options on the table, that means our complete nuclear disarmament is there on the table with all the rest of them.

So the beat " and the beat-downs " will keep going on, around the world, and fear will keep driving procurement, no matter what party is in office. As long as we want to guzzle and glut and "project dominance" in every corner of the world, war is all we've got.

Read the rest from the above link and repudiate/ retort if you have a rational point please
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Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 06:16 pm
And here is one more quote.

"Although I am not a fan of Vladimir Putin (he is certainly not a libertarian), it’s hard to garner much sympathy for the Georgians. The Russian counteroffensive merely gave the Georgians a stiff dose of precisely the same medicine they were planning to give to the Ossetians.

All in all, it was a humanitarian tragedy, but hardly a heartrending tale of Georgian victimhood.

But America long ago ceased to analyze events with anything remotely resembling an objective moral standard. Nowadays, the only yardsticks our imperial elites understand are power and self-interest.

Over the past seven years, the Bush Administration strove to "contain" Russia by establishing Georgia as a regional proxy. This was quickly followed by the now-familiar horror-show of Washington special interest groups. The petroleum lobby wanted to control a vital pipeline that transports Caspian oil to the Mediterranean. The military coveted Georgian territory for "lily-pad" bases. The arms industry saw Georgia as a lucrative market for its new geegaws and gizmos.

It was a wonderful little playground, and everything was going swimmingly until Putin came along and kicked over the apple cart.

But from all the whining in the media, you’d think it was the Russians who actually started the war.
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 06:23 pm
Sorry for my views which hurt the patriotic innocents political affliation.
Here is one more.

"What follows are a few of the basic premises on which I base my thinking. You might or might not agree with them, but may I suggest that you make a list of your own basic premises. It will help you clarify your thinking.
Government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do that task in the most expensive and inefficient way possible.
The American government is corrupt from top to bottom.
If you rely on the mass media to inform you about your community, state and nation, you will, with rare exceptions, be woefully ignorant of what is really going on.
The universal franchise is a bad idea. The notion that the destiny of the nation should be put in the hands of ignoramuses, parasites, boobs, party hacks and idiots is absurd on its face.
Public education in America is a failure and is so flawed it cannot be reformed.
Not much has changed in the past 5,000 years of human history.

All of that might sound cynical, but it really isn't.
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 06:36 pm
Let me pour forth my views in better English.

"War is just a racket. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows

The World War cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 [over $4,000 in today's dollars] to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

I am a non-violent person and a critic of war-mongers
Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 02:17 pm
A profound transformation is occurring in America and those responsible for it don't want you to connect the dots. We are experiencing what has been described as a "fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that have shaped public responsibility for social harms arising from the excesses of private power." From public land to water and other natural resources, from media with their broadcast and digital spectrums to scientific discoveries and medical breakthroughs, a broad range of America's public resources is being shifted to the control of elites and the benefit of the privileged. It all seems so clear now that we wonder how we could have ignored the warning signs at the time. Back in the early 1970s President Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, predicted that "this country is going to go so far to the right that you won't recognize it." A wealthy right-winger of the time, William Simon, President Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury, wrote a polemic declaring that "funds generated by business…must rush by the multimillions" to conservative causes. Said Business Week, bluntly: "Some people will obviously have to do with less…It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more."

We've seen the strategy play out for years now: to cut workforces and wages, scour the globe in search of cheap labor, trash the social contract and the safety net meant to protect people from hardships beyond their control, make it hard for ordinary citizens to gain redress for the malfeasance and malpractice of corporations, and diminish the ability of government to check and balance "the animal spirits" of economic warfare where the winner takes all. Streams of money flowed into think tanks to shape the agenda, media to promote it, and a political machine to achieve it. What has happened to working Americans is not the result of Adam Smith's benign and invisible hand but the direct consequence of corporate money, ideological propaganda, a partisan political religion, and a string of political decisions favoring the interests of wealthy elites who bought the political system right out from under us.
Go for the evidence to such magisterial studies of American history as Growth of the American Republic (Morison, Commager, and Leuchtenberg), and you'll read how they did it: They gained control of newspapers and magazines. They subsidized candidates. They bought legislation and even judicial decisions. To justify their greed and power they drew on history, law, economics, and religion to concoct a philosophy that would come to be known as Social Darwinism - "backed up by the quasi religious principle that the acquisition of wealth was a mark of divine favor." One of their favorite apologists, Professor William Graham Sumner of Yale, said: "If we do not like the survival of the fittest, we have only one possible alternative, and that is the survival of the unfittest. The former is the law of civilization; the latter is the law of anti-civilization."--- Bill Moyers :Another critical humanbeing
Reply Wed 20 Aug, 2008 09:09 am
Any government in the world can be brought down if a mere twenty
percent of the people will march in the streets and demand change. A majority is
unnecessary. Eighty percent can sit home and do nothing if just twenty percent will march.

Votes mean almost nothing in this two party system. Both major parties are controlled, bought and paid for by lobbyists of corporations, the wealthy and foreign interests.

So, your party got fifty-one percent of the votes? That just means that it's your turn to be betrayed. It only means that the people you voted for get a chance to loot and mislead, while the people you voted against see their share of the loot diminished until it's their turn to 'lead' again.

If you want your America back, we will have to take it ourselves -- in the streets, one block at a time. We'll have to shock and awe these cowardly little men who order soldiers to war, while hiding behind their desks and security guards.

These war criminals, these lying, deceiving, murdering thieves who **** on our Constitution, who sent our soldiers to die for Exxon's oil, who stole our tax money, who sent our jobs overseas and rewarded the job-shipping corporations with tax breaks, those people understand nothing but power and force.

Show it to them

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Reply Wed 20 Aug, 2008 05:47 pm
The idea that the U.S. can, should and must be, more or less, in a state of permanent war, and can start wars in a whole host of circumstances having nothing to do with defending the country from an attack or imminent attack, is as close to an unchallengeable, bipartisan article of faith as it gets. We're a country that fights wars and uses military force in far more places and for far broader reasons than any other country in the world, by far. Again, regardless of one's views about whether our wars are really Good and Just -- even if one believes that what we drop on other countries are Good and Loving Freedom Bombs -- it's still just a fact that no country views military action as a more appropriate response in more situations than the U.S. does.

That's why it's so amazing to watch Condoleezza Rice, more or less without contradiction, say things like this:
Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used whenever it wishes to deliver a message and that's its military power. That's not the way to deal in the 21st century.
Other than our media elite, is there anyone who doesn't recognize how absurd it is for Rice to be issuing a sermon like that? Who is the target audience for that? And what does it say about our political discourse that Rice knows she can say things like that with a straight face -- and, before her, that John McCain can do much the same -- without its being pointed out how darkly laughable it is?

-- Glenn Greenwald
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Reply Thu 21 Aug, 2008 04:04 pm
Let me continue my misadventure to expose my ignorance and the hypocratical intellectual acument.
The degeneration of journalism into "infotainment" has been bemoaned by the mandarins of the profession ever since the cable news revolution knocked the networks off their pedestal. Now the Internet is overtaking the cable channels as the place news consumers go to get their infotainment fix " or, alternatively, where they go to find out what the mainstream media isn't telling us. In any case, the perception of a rapid degeneration of the news-gathering business into something other than journalism is not exactly a new complaint. What is new is that this long-standing complaint has a fresh angle on it. With the entire concept of reporting the "news" already endangered, the hysterical warmongering that followed in the wake of 9/11 completed the process of degeneration begun long ago. In the post-9/11 world, the news, as such, no longer exists: what we have now is a "narrative."

Listen long and hard to the talking heads on TV and you'll hear that phrase echoing down through the cable-vision canyons, bouncing off the walls and endlessly repeated by reporters, bloggers, and water-cooler savants: It's the narrative, stupid.

The meaning " and danger " of the narrative was masterfully demonstrated in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The facts were tossed aside, or else cherry-picked and arranged in such a fashion as to mimic the truth while telling a brazen lie. The tallest of tales were woven around a story line, in which the central figure was a power-mad dictator whose quest for "weapons of mass destruction" posed a danger not only to his neighbors, but to the whole world. George W. Bush even suggested that Saddam was about to launch an armed attack on the continental United States. Iraqi drones, specially made to launch biological and chemical weapons, were supposedly assembled and ready to drop WMD on American cities. As dumb as this idea appears to be, some members of Congress apparently fell for it. After the truth came out about the "drones," however " they never existed " at least one vexed congressman found out that the photos he had been shown of these purported "weapons of mass destruction" were fakes, taken somewhere in the American Southwest.
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Reply Thu 21 Aug, 2008 05:09 pm
Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 02:15 pm
If you happen to vegitate and struglle to exist in this holy patriotic part of the world then after your death you will land in hell where many of US will hug you for your past life.
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 02:38 pm

To be sure, Russia, and China, do pose a genuine threat to the American elite's idiotic, arrogant agenda of forcing its will on the entire world.
Thus the frothing nonsense and belligerent posturing -- and murderous military adventures -- of our bipartisan foreign policy establishment will go on.
--------------------Chris Floyd---------------
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 03:28 pm
(don't show the dirty cloth which is your flag.
Join with US and be one among US.
You have spoiled your image by your arrogance which is not a Christian culture nor any decent culture
.Among the two candidates that you have to pick
one is a patriot and other is a challenger to change according to the half backed potatoe journalists.)

Now define patriotism.
One of the American had this definition about patriotism.
"WHAT is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place of childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it the place where, in childlike naivety, we would watch the fleeting clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not run so swiftly? The place where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest each one "an eye should be," piercing the very depths of our little souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of the birds, and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant lands? Or the place where we would sit at mother's knee, enraptured by wonderful tales of great deeds and conquests? In short, is it love for the spot, every inch representing dear and precious recollections of a happy, joyous, and playful childhood?

If that were patriotism, few American men of today could be called upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned into factory, mill, and mine, while deafening sounds of machinery have replaced the music of the birds. Nor can we longer hear the tales of great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of sorrow, tears, and grief.

What, then, is patriotism? "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels," said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment for the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the average workingman.

Gustave Hervé, another great anti-patriot, justly calls patriotism a superstition--one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than religion. The superstition of religion originated in man's inability to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man heard thunder or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and therefore concluded that back of them must be a force greater than himself. Similarly he saw a supernatural force in the rain, and in the various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.

Indeed, conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism.
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Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 04:00 pm
The system is rotten to the core.
Change we need.
But you cannot find in this rotten society.
here is my usual quote.
Britain is the worst country in the Western world in which to be a child, according to a recent UNICEF report. Ordinarily, I would not set much store by such a report; but in this case, I think it must be right"not because I know so much about childhood in all the other 20 countries examined but because the childhood that many British parents give to their offspring is so awful that it is hard to conceive of worse, at least on a mass scale. The two poles of contemporary British child rearing are neglect and overindulgence.
A system of perverse incentives in a culture of undiscriminating materialism, where the main freedom is freedom from legal, financial, ethical, or social consequences, makes childhood in Britain a torment both for many of those who live it and those who observe it. Yet the British government will do anything but address the problem, or that part of the problem that is its duty to address: the state-encouraged breakdown of the family. If one were a Marxist, one might see in this refusal the self-interest of the state-employee class: social problems, after all, are their raison d’être.

Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 11:03 pm
Washington has become Versailles. We are ruled, entertained and informed by courtiers. The popular media are courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are courtiers. Our pundits and experts are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games. We are being had.

The past week was a good one if you were a courtier. We were instructed by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate and lie to the nation. We were repeatedly told by these television courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show host was one of our nation's greatest journalists, as if sitting in a studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. Bush have much to do with journalism.

No journalist makes $5 million a year. No journalist has a comfortable, cozy relationship with the powerful. No journalist believes that acting as a conduit, or a stenographer, for the powerful is a primary part of his or her calling. Those in power fear and dislike real journalists. Ask Seymour Hersh and Amy Goodman how often Bush or Cheney has invited them to dinner at the White House or offered them an interview.

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, and it is the job of the journalist to do the hard, tedious reporting to shine a light on these lies. It is the job of courtiers, those on television playing the role of journalists, to feed off the scraps tossed to them by the powerful and never question the system. In the slang of the profession, these television courtiers are "throats." These courtiers, including the late Tim Russert, never gave a voice to credible critics in the buildup to the war against Iraq. They were too busy playing their roles as red-blooded American patriots. They never fought back in their public forums against the steady erosion of our civil liberties and the trashing of our Constitution. These courtiers blindly accept the administration's current propaganda to justify an attack on Iran. They parrot this propaganda. They dare not defy the corporate state. The corporations that employ them make them famous and rich. It is their Faustian pact. No class of courtiers, from the eunuchs behind Manchus in the 19th century to the Baghdad caliphs of the Abbasid caliphate, has ever transformed itself into a responsible elite. Courtiers are hedonists of power.
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 11:45 am
Those who are engaged to educate others are showing
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:05 pm
"The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life." - Theodore Roosevelt
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 06:23 pm
The real problem, however, was with the question itself.

When we think about the middle class, we tend to think of Americans whose lives are decent but not luxurious: they have houses, cars and health insurance, but they still worry about making ends meet, especially when the time comes to send the kids to college.

Meanwhile, when we think about the rich, we tend to think about the handful of people who are really, really rich " people with servants, people with so much money that, like Mr. McCain, they don’t know how many houses they own. (Remember how Republicans jeered at John Kerry for being too rich?)
An American whose name is PAUL KRUGMAN
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 06:44 pm
-17 is too low assessment be active to show your objective judgment.
Here is one more
War and threats of war have been used historically to distract the population and deflect public scrutiny from economic calamity. As the scheme was summed up in the trailer to the 1997 movie "Wag the Dog" --

"There’s a crisis in the White House, and to save the election, they’d have to fake a war."

Perhaps that explains the sudden breakout of war in the Eurasian country of Georgia on August 8, just 3 months before the November elections. August 8 was the day the Olympic Games began in Beijing, a distraction that may have been timed to keep China from intervening on Russia’s behalf. The mainstream media version of events is that Russia, the bully on the block, invaded its tiny neighbor Georgia; but not all commentators agree. Mikhail Gorbachev, writing in The Washington Post on August 12, observed:

"What happened on the night of Aug. 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against "small, defenseless Georgia" is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity. . . . The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force."4

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power, commented in OpEdNews on August 11:

"The U.S. has long been involved in supporting ‘freedom movements’ throughout this region that have been attempting to replace Russian influence with U.S. corporate control. The CIA, National Endowment for Democracy . . . , and Freedom House (includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Obama foreign policy adviser Anthony Lake) have been key funders and supporters of placing politicians in power throughout Central Asia that would play ball with ‘our side’. . . . None of this is about the good guys versus the bad guys. It is power bloc politics . . . . Big money is at stake . . . . oth parties (Republican and Democrat) share a bi-partisan history and agenda of advancing corporate interests in this part of the world. Obama’s advisers, just like McCain’s (one of his top advisers was recently a lobbyist for the current government in Georgia) are thick in this stew."5

Brzezinski, who is now Obama’s adviser, was Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy adviser in the 1970s. He also served in the 1970s as director of the Trilateral Commission, which he co-founded with David Rockefeller Sr., considered by some to be the "master spider" of the Wall Street banking network.6 Brzezinski later boasted of drawing Russia into war with Afghanistan in 1979, "giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."7 Is the Georgia affair an attempted repeat of that coup? Mike Whitney, a popular Internet commentator, observed on August 11:

"Washington’s bloody fingerprints are all over the invasion of South Ossetia. Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili would never dream of launching a massive military attack unless he got explicit orders from his bosses at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. After all, Saakashvili owes his entire political career to American power-brokers and US intelligence agencies. If he disobeyed them, he’d be gone in a fortnight. Besides an operation like this takes months of planning and logistical support; especially if it’s perfectly timed to coincide with the beginning of the Olympic games. (another petty neocon touch) That means Pentagon planners must have been working hand in hand with Georgian generals for months in advance. Nothing was left to chance."8

Part of that careful planning may have been the unprecedented propping up of the dollar and bombing of gold and oil the week before the curtain opened on the scene. Gold and oil had to be pushed down hard to give them room to rise before anyone shouted "hyperinflation!" As we watch the curtain rise on war in Eurasia, it is well to remember that things are not always as they seem. Markets are manipulated and wars are staged by Grand Chessmen behind the scenes.

Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 01:44 pm
Don't be so lazy my beloved comrades of A2K
Dare to expose your intellectual views.
This thread is a dare devil thread .
Here is one more cut and paste.
Read if you can and repent if you are humanbeing.

"Change” and “hope” are not words one associates with Senator Joe Biden, a man so ripely symbolic of everything that is unchanging and hopeless about our political system that a computer simulation of the corporate-political paradigm senator in Congress would turn out “Biden” in a nano-second.

The first duty of any senator from Delaware is to do the bidding of the banks and large corporations which use the tiny state as a drop box and legal sanctuary. Biden has never failed his masters in this primary task. Find any bill that sticks it to the ordinary folk on behalf of the Money Power and you’ll likely detect Biden’s hand at work. The bankruptcy act of 2005 was just one sample. In concert with his fellow corporate serf, Senator Tom Carper, Biden blocked all efforts to hinder bankrupt corporations from fleeing from their real locations to the legal sanctuary of Delaware. Since Obama is himself a corporate serf and from day one in the US senate has been attentive to the same masters that employ Biden, the ticket is well balanced, the seesaw with Obama at one end and Biden at the other dead-level on the fulcrum of corporate capital.

Another shining moment in Biden’s progress in the current presidential term was his conduct in the hearings on Judge Alito’s nomination to the US Supreme Court. From the opening moments of the Judiciary Committee's sessions in January, 2006, it became clear that Alito faced no serious opposition. On that first ludicrous morning Senator Pat Leahy sank his head into his hands, shaking it in unbelieving despair as Biden blathered out a self-serving and inane monologue lasting a full twenty minutes before he even asked Alito one question. In his allotted half hour Biden managed to pose only five questions, all of them ineptly phrased. He did pose two questions about Alito’s membership of a racist society at Princeton, but had already undercut them in his monologue by calling Alito "a man of integrity", not once but twice, and further trivialized the interrogation by reaching under the dais to pull out a Princeton cap and put it on.

In all, Biden rambled for 4,000 words, leaving Alito time only to put together less than 1,000. A Delaware newspaper made deadly fun of him for his awful performance, eliciting the revealing confession from Biden that "I made a mistake. I should have gone straight to my question. I was trying to put him at ease."

Biden is a notorious flapjaw. His vanity deludes him into believing that every word that drops from his mouth is minted in the golden currency of Pericles. Vanity is the most conspicuous characteristic of US Senators en bloc , nourished by deferential acolytes and often expressed in loutish sexual advances to staffers, interns and the like. On more than one occasion CounterPunch’s editors have listened to vivid accounts by the recipient of just such advances, this staffer of another senator being accosted by Biden in the well of the senate in the week immediately following his first wife’s fatal car accident.

His “experience” in foreign affairs consists in absolute fidelity to the conventions of cold war liberalism, the efficient elder brother of raffish “neo-conservatism”. Here again the ticket is well balanced, since Senator Obama has, within a very brief time-frame, exhibited great fidelity to the same creed.

Obama opposed the launching of the US attack on Iraq in 2003. He was not yet in the US Senate, but having arrived there in 2005 he has since voted unhesitatingly for all appropriations of the vast sums required for the war’s prosecution. Biden himself voted enthusiastically for the attack, declaring in the Senate debate in October, 2002, in a speech excavated and sent to us by Sam Husseini:

I do not believe this is a rush to war. I believe it is a march to peace and security. I believe that failure to overwhelmingly support this resolution is likely to enhance the prospects that war will occur. ... [Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons. ... For four years now, he has prevented United Nations inspectors from uncovering those weapons...

The terms of surrender dictated by the United Nations require him to declare and destroy his weapons of mass destruction programs. He has not done so. ...

Many predicted the administration would refuse to give the weapons inspectors one last chance to disarm. ...

Mr. President, President Bush did not lash out precipitously after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss a new inspection regime. He did not ignore the Congress. At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation. ...

For two decades, Saddam Hussein has relentlessly pursued weapons of mass destruction. There is a broad agreement that he retains chemical and biological weapons, the means to manufacture those weapons and modified Scud missiles, and that he is actively seeking a nuclear capability. ...

We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after.... [Biden confided to his colleagues that this would be a long fight, but was still for it.]I am absolutely confident the President will not take us to war alone. I am absolutely confident we will enhance his ability to get the world to be with us by us voting for this resolution.

In step with his futile bid for the Democratic nomination, Biden changed his mind on the war, and part of his mandate will be to shore up the credentials of the Democratic ticket as being composed of “responsible” helmsmen of Empire, stressing that any diminution of the US presence in Iraq will be measured and thus extremely slow, balanced by all the usual imperial ventures elsewhere around the globe.

Why did Obama chose Biden? One important constituency pressing for Biden was no doubt the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party. Obama, no matter how fervent his proclamations of support for Israel, has always been viewed with some suspicion by the lobby. For half the lifespan of the state of Israel, Biden has proved himself its unswerving acolyte in the senate.

And Obama picked Biden for the same reason Michael Dukakis chose Senator Lloyd Bentsen in 1988: the marriage of youth and experience, so reassuring to uncertain voters but most of all to the elites, that nothing dangerous or unusual will discommode business as usual. Another parallel would be Kennedy’s pick of Lyndon Johnson in 1960, LBJ being a political rival and a seasoned senator. Kennedy and Johnson didn’t like each other, and surely after Biden’s racist remarks about “clean” blacks, Obama cannot greatly care for Biden. It seems he would have preferred Chris Dodd but the latter was disqualified because of his VIP loans from Countrywide.

Obama’s Bad August

By last weekend the alarm bells started ringing in earnest at Obama’s hq. August was turning into a disaster for the Democratic nominee. At precisely the moment the candidate should have been heading confidently towards his coronation in Denver , John McCain had seized the initiative. While the young senator from Illinois practiced surfing in Hawai’i the elderly McCain was busy in the rhetorical trenches, bellowing “We are all Georgians” and staking out an order of battle for the Third World War.

Obama lost the battle of the headlines on Georgia and a week later he was in another no-win mess at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback evangelical church in Lake Forest, which is heartland Republican terrain in Orange County, south of Los Angeles. Obama and McCain each had their solo hour, answering Warren’s questions. McCain won big, with grave, clipped answers on the moral failure of his first marriage, his strategic differences with Ronald Reagan, his opposition to abortion.

What McCain did at Saddleback was bring the important Christian Evangelical vote back into his column. A week earlier a friend of mine from near Spartanburg, S.C. (“the buckle of the bible belt”) called me to say all the evangelicals he knew were going to sit this one out because they didn’t trust McCain. After Saddleback he phoned back to say how impressed he’d been with McCain, predicting that the radio preacher James Dobson, leader of Focus on the Family, might finally endorse the Arizona senator.

Beset with gloomy quotes from leading Democrats about the need for their candidate to ratchet up his game and whack McCain, Obama’s camp tried to break the remorseless rhythm of bad headlines. They leaked the news that Obama would name his running mate as vice presidential candidate in the next two or three days, maybe even Monday afternoon.

The tactic worked. Inside dopester stories in the press duly followed on the possible picks. But on Wednesday the Reuters-Zogby poll reported that McCain had suddenly surged ahead, and was leading Obama nationally 46-41. Reuters-Zogby is well regarded, but this year has a somewhat spotty record. Two other big polls reporting Thursday had Obama leading McCain 45-42

Polls aside, it was obvious Obama has lost the initiative. Democrats were beginning to recall with a shiver John Kerry’s disastrous summer in 2004, when his candidacy began to sag in the face of ruthless battering.

It was not just a matter no-win situations like Saddleback or Obama’s refusal to call for Russia’s immediate nuclear annihilation. Polls showed Obama lagging behind McCain as the man the public trusts on economic policy, a topic on which McCain publicly confessed ignorance earlier this year. Obama even managed to lose the initiative on off-shore oil drilling. In July McCain began taking the oil industry line by saying that, in the interests of the always mythical “US Energy Independence”, irksome environmental restrictions on off-shore drilling should be tossed aside. Since public cynicism about the oil companies has been increasing in direct proportion to the oil companies’ record profits this summer, it shouldn’t have been hard for Obama to paint McCain as a whore for Big Oil and a foe of marine life and usable beaches. The opportunity was enhanced by a 419,000 gallon oil spill into the Mississippi River the very week McCain was pushing off-shire drilling in Louisiana. But Obama, almost always respectful towards large corporations, declined this golden opportunity and duly came out for off-shore drilling himself.

The problem seems to be that a man who’s come to think of himself as the conduit of Mankind’s purest hopes doesn’t want to scuff his shoes by kicking mud in McCain’s face. “McNasty”, as the Republican candidate was dubbed at Annapolis, has no problem doing that, even if his shoes come at $500 a pair.

All the same, Obama’s managers slowed McCain’s surge with the fake leak about a Monday release of the veep nominee’s identity. Then the same affluent wife who buys McCain his $500 shoes bailed out Obama just when the adverse polls were making headlines. This time it was the houses, and McCain’s inability to remember how many he and Cindy own. That’s something Americans can grasp. A man who can’t remember how many houses he has, or runs out of fingers when trying to list them, is someone identifiably out of touch with the realities of everyday life. John Kerry had the same problem with all his and Teresa Heinz Kerry’s numerous mansions, back in 2004.

Then, as my coeditor Jeffrey points out, McCain lost the NASCAR vote by being unable to identify the make of the car he drives. “Check with my staff” he told reporters. Next, McCain’s brother Joe shoved John’s head back under water yet again by trying to explain the Republican nominee’s vagueness about domestic assets. It runs in the family, he said. “The person who took care of all the business was my mother. My father had no idea about the family business, what oil leases he owned in Oklahoma.” Joe’s later attempts to portray the McCain family as scraping by, coupon-clipping for discounts at the grocery store, were unconvincing.

As for the overall state of the race, race remains the big factor. “I still suspect Obama has no chance,” a CounterPunch contributor remarked in an email last week. “Not enough people in enough crucial states will vote for a semi-black metro-sexual, especially when they get through calumniating him. I'd never vote for him myself, but he's probably preferable. I figure he'd only be as bad as Bush. McCain, I think, is unbalanced enough to start a nuclear war, and not stupid enough to be managed by others.”

Meanwhile, Ralph Nader seems to be dropping his bid to the level of knock-about. Following on his prediction that Obama would pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate Nader released a press release Friday arguing that his candidacy helps Obama. “Many Hillary supporters (half according to the most recent NBC/WSJ poll) do not want to vote for Obama. With Nader on the ballot, they have another choice to lodge their vote with other than McCain.” Nader thinks HRC’s crowd will vote for him?

Face it, if you want to stay true to reason and conscience, the man to vote for is Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate. Check out from Friday’s CounterPunch site his stance on Georgia, an issue on which I haven’t yet seen anything from Ralph . “Bad and over blown historical analogies won't help resolve the conflict,” Barr writes, If this war was like Adolf Hitler's attack on Poland, as some have suggested, Georgia would be occupied, its government would be ousted, and its residents would be on their way to concentration camps. No one would be traveling to Tbilisi and we wouldn't be talking to Moscow… The most important American interest is defending America; and intervening on behalf of Georgia against Russia has nothing to do with defending America.”

Countdown to Loofah Day

O’Reilly-haters should be stocking up on loofahs. Only nine days to go. On September 1 you may proceed towards any facility owned by Rupert Murdoch and wave your loofah. As I reminded CounterPunchers last week September 1, 2004 was the night O’Reilly made a lewd phone call to his Fox producer Andrea Mackris, depicting a prospective sexual encounter between the two of them in which the loofah played a significant role. Disclosure of O'Reilly’s reveries led to the public humiiation of this repellent bully and to his payment of an undisclosed sum (anywhere from $2 million to $10 million to ensure Ms Mackris’ silence. CounterPunch has proclaimed September 1 2008 as Loofah Day.

Tempting Offers, Not Involving Loofas

Let’s start with Harry Browne’s terrific new book, Hammered by the Irish, published by CounterPunch/AK Press and available for immediate purchase on this site. In February 2003, five activists from Catholic Worker broke into a hangar at Shannon airport. Swinging hammers and a pickaxe they did more than $2.5 million damage to a U.S. Navy transport plane. They were hit with the full weight of the law, plus a trashing by the press and a goodly chunk of the antiwar movement. But three and a half years later, a Dublin jury made legal and political history, deciding that the Pittstop Ploughshares 5 were innocent of any crime. Harry has written a marvelous account of this brilliantly successful piece of direct action. The people need victories, and this was one of them. Now the victory has its historian.

And while you are in the buying mood, don’t forget to subscribe to our exclusive newsletter. In our latest issue subscribers can read Marcus Rediker’s report of popular resistance in the comunas in Medellín, Colombia. Here at CounterPunch we greatly admire Rediker for his book The Slave Ship, also for his tremendous book written with CounterPuncher Peter Linebaugh, The Many-Headed Hydra. We’re excited to have Marcus aboard.

Not only is Russia giving NATO the finger in the Caucasus -- a well-justified finger in my opinion " it is setting the legal stage for seizing a third of the capital of America’s oldest bank, the Bank of New York, a slimy institution now welded to the Mellon interests. In this latest issue of the newsletter I relate this fascinating affair. Incidentaly, the Bank of New York has had huge operations in Georgia, which it lurks behind a local bank.

Also in the latest newsletter, in a very important article, Ruth Horowitz writes fascinatingly about false confessions either volunteered for complicated psychological reasons or extorted by police interrogators by guile and fraud.

How this plays out in the U.S. justice system and how the abuses of coerced confessions can be curbed is Horowitz’s theme, starting with an appalling case, reminiscent of the “Satanic abuse” trials of the late ’80s and ’90s, where an obviously innocent immigrant, Khemwatie Bedessie, was bullied into a “confession” that has put her in prison for 25 years.

Top these treats off with a fine commentary on the EU by Serge Halimi, director of Le Monde Diplomatique.
Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 01:51 pm
You people cannot belittle our conscience.
Read this and repent if you are decent.

"Conscience and Iraqi deaths

In fact, some Americans have reduced the Iraq War to a mathematical equation, one which holds that any number of Iraqi deaths is worth it if it helps to achieve “democracy.” Conscience has disappeared in that equation.

All too many Americans have convinced themselves that any war in which the U.S. government is involved, including a war of aggression against a country that never attacked the United States, is automatically a just war. Such a conclusion, they feel, relieves them of any exercise of conscience with respect to the consequences of such a war.

But only defensive wars are morally justifiable and consistent with God’s commandment against killing. Does God permit killing people under a fake and false WMD rationale? Does God permit killing a person for the sake of democracy-spreading? Does God permit killing people as part of a “magnet” defense? Does God permit killing people as part of some conjured-up Islamic plan to conquer the Christian West?

Many Americans, including some priests and ministers, don’t dare to ask those questions because to do so might require the exercise of conscience, which is not an easy process to undergo.

The demise of conscience has produced a society of people who go to church on Sunday, where they regularly pray for the troops in Iraq, without permitting their consciences to consider the fact that the U.S. government has no right to be in Iraq and that the troops have no right to be killing Iraqi people.

How many Iraqis have been killed in the invasion and occupation of Iraq? We don’t know the exact number because, again, the Pentagon has steadfastly said that it has absolutely no intention of keeping track of how many Iraqis it kills. But the best estimates indicate that approximately a million Iraqis have been killed as a consequence of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Now, reflect on that for a few minutes. One million people, dead. Not a thousand. Not a hundred thousand. Not half a million. One million dead people. That is not a small number of dead people.

Now, add that million to the estimated hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people who died as a result of the brutal sanctions against Iraq during the 1990s.

The standard attitude among all too many Americans is that it’s all been “worth it” because Saddam Hussein was a “bad man” who needed to be replaced by a U.S. stooge. It was the same attitude of UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, who told Sixty Minutes that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the sanctions had been “worth it” " i.e., worth the attempt to oust Saddam from power and replace him with a ruler acceptable to U.S. officials.

But no American, including U.S. soldiers, had the moral right to kill even one Iraqi, much less a million, simply because Saddam Hussein was a “bad man” whom U.S. officials were trying to oust from power. God does not permit the killing of any person for the sake of democracy-spreading, making them “magnets,” or imaginary threats. The commandment is clear: Thou shalt not kill.

Meanwhile, Americans blithely go about their business at home, indifferent to or even enthusiastic about the number of Iraqi people killed at the hands of the U.S. war machine in a war of aggression against people who never attacked the United States and who did not want war with the United States.

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