The Prophet of Judgement Day Reply

Article by Edmund D. Cohen.

Dr. Cohen discusses the case of radio evangelist and uber-fruitbat Harold Camping, who claims the Christian Judgment Day is going to happen on May 21.
My clearest recurring impression of Camping is his deep, un spoken longing that his way of life—wandering obsessively in circles in the Bible’s semantic wilderness—will be concluded, finished, ruled out for succeeding generations. In 1994, I speculated that he unconsciously desired to trigger a scandal to discourage others from squandering their lives enmeshed in the futility of Bible-belief in the way he had. No one would have expected Family Radio’s listenership to prove so long-suffering that it would simply disregard the episode and continue on blithely as if nothing had happened. Perhaps that constituency has something to teach the rest of us about tolerance for eccentricity. Long live freedom of speech!

By declaring certainty and approving a publicity campaign (with billboards, print-media advertising, missionary junkets, and touring RV caravans), Camping has raised the stakes. It is as if he were deliberately tweaking the noses of the rest of the fundamentalist Christian establishment and the public, seeking to goad us all to react.

Such a motive would also explain Camping’s uncharacteristic foray into gay-bashing. Over all these years, he has never been given to “hot button” rhetoric. His current tract, Gay Pride: Planned by God as a Sign of the End is, however, a full-throated piece of hate literature. It was published under Camping’s name, even though comparably short Family Radio tracts are usually unattributed. It is nothing but an attention-getting stunt in terrible taste. I see it as Camping’s version of Springtime for Hitler. How much more outrageous must Camping become in order to provoke an outcry?

The key to the whole ungainly story could lie in Camping’s stance toward natural science. In recent years, the terminology of formal, numerical proof has cropped up more and more in his parlance. It is easy to detect the frustrated quantitative scientist behind all that fastidious analysis of biblical chronology. How much more satisfying could he have found a life devoted to investigating something real? What a productive natural scientist this man—with his meticulous attention to detail, facility with numbers, and capacity for hard work—might have become had he been influenced toward higher academic aspirations in his youth. He has never really seemed to relish science-versus-religion polemics. He “protests too much” when he lambastes and caricatures scientists. Sometimes on Open Forum, he perfunctorily re cites stock “intelligent design” talking points. What sour grapes. Could that be what is really amiss in his life without his even being aware? These date-setting episodes are all about what happens when a brilliant person’s urge to be creative and original is repressed. It crops out self-destructively.

Camping is poised to succeed in bringing a high-profile media crucifixion upon himself. Most likely, he will find himself hastily trying to walk the prophecy back at the moment of truth. He has done that before. He might even be able to ease things back to status quo ante a second time. He can always appoint his own hundredth birthday as the next scheduled apocalypse. For him to face up to his obligation—incurred on precisely his own terms—to concede that he has unwittingly adduced evidence of the falsity of Bible truth claims is doubtless too much to hope for. We might as well enjoy the show.

Hate Speech Makes a Comeback Reply

Article by Pat Buchanan.
Well, it sure didn’t take long for the Tucson Truce to collapse.

After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot on Jan. 8 by a berserker who killed six others, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and wounded 13, the media were aflame with charges the right had created the climate of hate in which such an atrocity was inevitable.

The Washington Post story on the massacre began, “The mass shooting … raised serious concerns that the nation’s political discourse had taken a dangerous turn.”

Following Barack Obama’s eloquent eulogy and call for all of us to lower our voices, it was agreed across the ideological divide that it was time to cool the rhetoric.

This week, however, hate speech was back in style.

The Crimes of National Pride Reply

Article by David D’Amato.
“Thailand and Cambodia have,” according to BBC News, “reached a ceasefire after a week of fighting along a disputed border … . Both countries said the truce was struck following talks between the two militaries.” The border between the two countries has been contested for years, and “nationalist sentiment” has continued to give rise to intermittent violence. In the past, elections have enkindled the ongoing, if sometimes dormant, dispute, and the latest skirmish comes with elections looming in Thailand.

The language of statism has a remarkable capacity for transforming a turf war between two gangs of thugs into an all-embracing conflict between two nations. The notion that the disputed land “belongs” to either state, that a government could possess rights in any legitimate sense, reveals the derisible assumption underlying the power of all ruling classes.

Because the state is simply systemized aggression, it cannot so much as exist without violating rights. Any claim of right it asserts, then, is an invasion, a trespass against true freedom, and — in the case of land — a theft. Through confrontations like the one between Thailand and Cambodia, crimes are ennobled as matters of national pride.

Politics is necessarily and inevitably divisive. Since political solutions are, perforce, coercive, they are not solutions at all, merely subjecting some to the will of others in violation of the latter group’s autonomy. The common man, the worker who goes about his life peacefully, producing and trading to fill his needs, should not at all identify his interests with those of his government. Appeals to patriotism are the gilding used by the political class to garner popular support for conflicts for power, stemming from power, with no mind to the woes of the productive class.

Rather than a specific implication of the same sort of pride one feels with regard to her familial group or community, patriotism stands opposed to the kinds of friendly ties that bind human beings. It asks Cambodians and Thai to hate one another because they stand on the opposite side of a line on a map, one that has been drawn arbitrarily by members of a ruling class that have no interest but to plunder the societies that exists within their own borders.

Besides its more obvious uses, war is of service to the elite in that it obscures the alignment of interests — across all national, cultural, religious and language divides — between all those who would use only nonviolent, voluntary means in their relations with others. Market anarchism, in advocating mutual respect for individuals’ rights and consensual exchange, does not prescribe a fixed or predetermined vision for society without the vulturine impositions of the state.

It asks only that the ruling class be forbidden from using the artifices of the legal structure, ultimately enforced at the point of a gun, to gain from the constructive achievements of others. Renouncing the hope that the state “could be made an instrument in the hands of the oppressed to alleviate their sufferings,” Lucy Parsons understood that governments are always a vehicle for “the machinations of the scheming few.” And those few do not stand in for the people of Thailand or Cambodia, for the land itself, for separate individuals, or for society at large.

The absurd nationalism at the heart of the Cambodia-Thailand clash, a needless waste of life for the elevation of governments — not people, displays the vile reality of statism. Thailand and Cambodia alike would be better off without their respective states, without a few malefactors exploiting people who could get along just fine without them.

A Pretty Picture Painted With Prison Bars Reply

Article by Darian Worden.
As the British royal wedding fades out of the news cycle, it’s important to take a look at the freedoms that were trampled to make it a perfect day for royalty.

In the days leading up to the wedding, numerous squats and social centers were raided, and their inhabitants detained, by large squads of police. In addition, a member of the Love Police street theater group was detained for conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and breach of the peace. The police activity was pitched as deterring anarchists from crashing the royal party. It’s unclear how much the police believe the sanctity of the marriage spectacle was threatened versus how much the raids were a pretext used to disrupt the state’s opposition. Of course, either way an arm of the security-industrial complex needs to find threats to justify its budget.

While the idea of royalty might be an anachronism, unfortunately the obsession with protecting elites from the freedom of common people is not. When it comes to guaranteeing that the important people have a good time, the people judged less-important are expected to bear much of the cost. They might pay though taxes, detainment, or disruption, but they will be assured that those who outrank them care deeply about their troubles.

A major public spectacle provides those in charge with a useful pretext to disrupt those who oppose them. By acting like the suppression of dissent by squads of enforcers is really just a matter of public safety, they can more easily present the mission of securing power as a mission of securing the general public. Disruption of anarchist and radical left opposition is a very convenient thing to do with May Day coming up. May 1, the traditional workers’ holiday, is frequently used as a date of protest. It must have been especially concerning for British authorities with all the political unrest seen over the past year.

Whatever the state’s other motivations, it should always be remembered that the police and those who supply them want to get paid. More threats mean a bigger budget. And someone will secure contracts for the equipment of surveillance, enforcement, and detention.

In Defense of Royalty 16

Article by Jef Costello.
In recent months, when I would think ruefully of the peculiar life I lead, I took some solace in the thought that soon my invitation to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding would arrive.

Alas it did not, and I am writing these words hours after the nuptials ended – apparently without a hitch (if we don’t count the fashion disaster that was Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York). For weeks prior I was deliberately shocking everyone I know by telling them of my excitement about the Royal Wedding. Americans are all knee-jerk anti-monarchists. I am a knee-jerk pro-monarchist partly because I am a knee-jerk anti-American. My enthusiasm was always met with disbelief. “Who cares?” they would ask, grimacing at me. This question was often followed by the usual ignorant claims about the Royal Family being parasites and nitwits. (The biggest idiots are always the ones who make an exception for Princess Diana.)

Sadly, it’s becoming difficult to find a Brit who seems to think differently. Every time I meet one over here I always find a way to ask what they think about the Royal Family. “Oh, they’re all parasites and nitwits. Except for Diana,” they’ll say. Finding an Englishman who admits to liking the Royals is becoming about as hard as finding a German who admits to liking Wagner. And yet all the polls show the majority of the British public against the abolition of the monarchy. (Just as every summer Bayreuth is full of Germans.)

So, why do I like the British Royal Family so much? Well, partly it just has to do with the fact that I am pro-monarchy – and I am pro-monarchy because I am a Radical Traditionalist. That it is the British monarchy I am so passionate about is no mystery. My ancestry is English and my mother was a staunch Anglophile. She worshiped the Royals and imbued me with a respect for them, and for my English heritage.

One Million Apply for McDonald's Jobs Reply

Thanks to our wonderful neoliberal economy. Article from Daily Kos.
You may have heard about McDonald’s putting on a big public relations blitz about offering 50,000 new jobs around the country. In some places, there were big crowds that showed up to apply and interview.

Today, Bloomberg reported on just how big those crowds were:

McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), the world’s biggest restaurant chain, said it hired 24 percent more people than planned during an employment event this month.

McDonald’s and its franchisees hired 62,000 people in the U.S. after receiving more than one million applications, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. Previously, it said it planned to hire 50,000.

That comes to more than 15 applicants per hire for part time, minimum wage, no benefit jobs. Well, let’s be very careful here. McDonald’s refused to say how many of those 62,000 jobs were full or part time:

The April 19 national hiring day was the company’s first, said Danya Proud, a McDonald’s spokeswoman. She declined to disclose how many of the jobs were full- versus part-time.

This data goes a long way toward disproving two pieces of CW that are far too widely held:

1) People are unemployed because they don’t want to work.

2) The employment picture is improving.

People are desperate for work, and there’s very little out there for them.

Monarchy, Nation-States, And The Failed Reign of “Elizabeth The Useless” Reply

Article by Sean Gabb.
Because it is unwritten, and because its various conventions are in continual flux, the English Constitution can be rather opaque to foreign observers. Some of these fail to understand the nature of convention, and assume that the Queen of England is an absolute monarch—though more genteel than the King of Saudi Arabia. Others see the conventions as the only reality, and regard England as an odd sort of republic.

Both are wrong. Our Constitution is based on an implied contract between people and Monarch. This is that, in public, we regard whoever wears the Crown as the Lord’s Anointed. In return, the Monarch acts on the advice of a Prime Minister, who is accountable to us.

But this implied contract has one important limiting term. It holds only so long as politics is other than a cartel of tyrants and traitors. But just such a cartel is exactly what has emerged in Britain as the 1960s radical generation completed its Gramscian “Long March through the institutions”, as I have documented in my pamphlet Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back (free PDF download here).And once the politicians make themselves, as a class, irremovable, and once they begin to abolish the rights of the people, it is the duty of the Monarch to step in and rebalance the Constitution.

The need for this duty to be performed has been apparent since at least 1972, when we were lied into the European Union. The Conservatives did not fight the 1970 general election on any promise that they would take us in. When they did take us in, and when Labour kept us in, we were told that it was nothing more than a trade agreement. It turned out very soon to be a device for the politicians to exercise unaccountable power. The Queen could and should have acted then, beginning by insisting on a General Election after the terms of Britain’s entry were settled.

There have been many times since when she should have acted. At all times, she could have sacked the Government and dissolved Parliament without provoking riots in the street.

But so far as I can tell, the Queen has acted only twice in my lifetime to force changes of policy—typically, on behalf of the emerging Politically Correct consensus. In 1979, she bullied Margaret Thatcher to go back on her election promise not to hand Rhodesia over to a bunch of black Marxists. In 1987, she bullied Margaret Thatcher again to give in to calls for sanctions against South Africa.

And that was it.

The Tea Parties Now Have Their Man Reply

Article by Chuck Baldwin.
At this point, it may be helpful if I give a little history lesson. The Tea Party movement began in 2007 as a grassroots effort to support the 2008 Presidential candidacy of Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. I am proud to say that I was part of that effort. In fact, I actively campaigned for Dr. Paul in at least four states during that election cycle: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, and South Carolina. I was even honored to represent Dr. Paul in a major South Carolina GOP banquet, in which sitting US congressmen and senators were selected from around the country to represent most of the other Republican Presidential candidates. (I wish readers could have been a fly on the wall to witness the goings on at the speaker’s table during the banquet as these GOP congressmen and senators tried to figure out who I was, and what the heck I was doing there. It was quite a sight!) I well remember that, as I came down from the speaker’s platform, one US Senator told me that my promotion of Dr. Paul’s candidacy that night was the best presentation on behalf of the Texas congressman that he had ever heard. Since then, I have spoken at numerous Tea Party events and appeared on both local and national media outlets (and numerous private videos and recordings) discussing the merits of the Tea Party movement and promoting the candidacy of Dr. Paul.

We need to get this straight: the Tea Party movement was never about electing Republicans–especially neocon Republicans! The Tea Party movement began as a grassroots effort to reduce the size and scope of the federal government; to rid America of the oppressive tax burden under which it currently groans; to eliminate the Federal Reserve; to return America to sound money; to stop the federal government’s obsession with foreign entanglements and wars; and to return America to constitutional governance. And there was only one man within the two major parties that was going to bring about those changes in 2008: Congressman Ron Paul, which is why the Tea Party was birthed as a grassroots extension of his campaign.

Since then, however, many GOP shills and toadies have jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon and have attempted to redefine its goals and objectives, including many of the talking heads on FOX News. In truth, many Tea Party activists regularly look to Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and other “conservative” celebrities to champion their cause.

Need I remind everyone that Hannity has hardly ever met a Republican that he didn’t gush over. And I couldn’t count how many times we’ve seen Mr. Neocon himself, Newt Gingrich, on Hannity’s show. And as much as many people will cringe to hear this (and as much as I appreciate many things that Beck has to say), it was Glenn Beck who literally sabotaged a legitimate Tea Party candidate, Debra Medina, on his show. I would even dare say that Medina might have been elected Texas governor had it not been for the hatchet job Beck did on her. And as much as I like Sarah Palin for her fervent pro-life and pro-Second Amendment convictions, when it comes to foreign affairs, she is just another shill for the pro-war, military-industrial complex that has dominated US foreign policy since the days of Lyndon Johnson.

In Praise of Hypocrisy 2

Article by Scott Locklin.
I admire hypocrisy: the more brazen, the better. It makes people strive toward something better than what they are. Hypocrisy is just faking it until you make it. The anti-hypocrites would prefer that everyone wallow in their vices rather than attempting to become better people. But virtue of any kind is impossible without some hypocrisy. Being against hypocrisy is moral nihilism.

The way the rhetorical game works for the hypocrite-hunters, you can be an extremely bad person as long as you’re consistent about it: sort of like Barney Frank. You’re not allowed to encourage people to be good or even vaguely sensible without being saintlike in your perfection. In fact, if you’re a big enough hypocrite, your opinions don’t count at all. Hypocrites are often considered nonpersons, much like racists, believers in sexual dimorphism, and other modern thought criminals.

A few years ago, media ding-dongs went into foaming paroxysms of ecstasy when it turned out that former American “Drug Czar” William Bennett likes to gamble. Or that like many rich people, Al Gore is a fat guy who, despite preaching the virtues of living small, owns large houses, a private jet, and boats with hot tubs in them. Or that Rush Limbaugh was addicted to drugs. Why is any of that interesting? Drugs are still bad and you should avoid them, lest you end up muttering to yourself like Charlie Sheen or a Berkeley City Council member. Gambling…so what? Bennett may be an annoying neocon gasbag, but he is right that people should have more virtues such as self-discipline. Apparently he had enough personal restraint that gambling was never a problem in his personal life. Sure, Al Gore has giant houses and a jet; that doesn’t mean folks shouldn’t be frugal and modest, even if the fat moron can’t manage a halfway decent hair-shirt routine to impress the rubes. Personally, I find Al Gore contemptible because the man can’t even cadge a handjob from a paid middle-aged masseuse, but I don’t mind that he has boats with hot tubs yet wants other liberals to eat gruel. The inventor of the Internet can apparently use all the help he can get with the ladies. The fact that Rush Limbaugh has no self-control with his pill stash doesn’t mean you should start shooting heroin or cut any slack for people who do, or that none of his other opinions have merit. Laugh at Rush for his melodramatic rants or his portly figure, but he obviously knows something about drug problems.

On the fading away of the Church and the State Reply

Interesting observations from Vinay Supta.
* The “fading away of the state” is a long-held dream of many radical political ideologies. I never believed it was possible, and then I realized something.
* The Church and State were once peers. Over the past few centuries, the Church has basically vanished as a political force. Over the past 20 years the Vatican has become a joke even in strongholds like Ireland.
* If the Church can fade away (not the religion, but the political power structure that grew on top of it), then why not the State?
* Imagine a future in which people would no more obey an edict from Central Government than an edict from the Pope.

Suddenly I feel much better about the future. Now all we have to do is square that freedom with global environmental restraint.

Markets Without Capitalism: Kevin Carson's Transition Proposals Reply

Article by Michael Bauwens. Required reading.
This is a follow up on yesterday’s post, arguing that the idea and practice of markets, should be divorced from their present embeddedness in an unsustainable infinite growth system such as capitalism.

Today, we look at the ideas of mutualist Kevin Carson. I will follow this up in a next installment by some of my own ideas on a commons-centered economy.

Kevin sends us the following contextual info to link the two articles together:

“The only thing I would add, to flesh it out: the two pieces you quote from involved dismantling the infrastructure of state capitalism from the top down. The other side of the strategy is the kind of stuff I talked about in the “Building the Structure of the New Society Within the Shell of the Old” post–building counter-institutions from the bottom up to fill the void. It’s a sort of dialectical strategy, with the agenda you quoted providing political cover and room for the alternative economy to grow.

Royal Wedding: Police Raid Social Centers and Squats Reply

From Infoshop.
As far as we are aware police have left the Offmarket social centre and Grow Heathrow site, but the operation is still ongoing at the Ratstar. There is currently 12 TSG vans outside the building with a crowd of around 40 people outside in support. As we understand it the arrests have been for ‘abstraction of electricity’ and there has been further arrests of 7-8 people in another part of the Ratstar building. Other occupiers are being detained in the carpark by TSG and it is unknown if they will be arrested. A further arrest was made by plain clothes police outside the building as they recognised someone in the crowd from their ‘March 26th wanted’ spotter cards. This person has been taken to Walworth Road police station.

Helen Thomas and the Political Cleansing of America Reply

Article by James Abourezk.
You remember Helen Thomas? She was the senior White House Correspondent who always opened Presidential press conferences and closed them by saying the magic words: “Thank you Mr. President.” Her Wikipedia entry cites her professional accomplishments:

“Helen Thomas (born August 4, 1920) is an American author and former news service reporter, member of the White House Press Corps and opinion columnist.[1] She worked for the United Press International (UPI) for 57 years, first as a correspondent, and later as White House bureau chief. She was a columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010, writing on national affairs and the White House. She covered every President of the United States from the last years of the Eisenhower administration until the second year of the Obama administration. She was the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and the first female member of the Gridiron Club. She has written six books; her latest, with co-author Craig Crawford, is Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do (2009).”

Helen was cashiered from her position as a Hearst columnist after she answered a question by a Rabbi with a video camera who asked her to talk about Israel. She answered—honestly—that the Israelis should get the hell out of Palestine. The Rabbi’s follow up question was, “Where should they go?”

“Back where they came from,” she answered, citing Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.

Now, we all know that those countries that were so murderous and cruel to European Jews are not what they were in the 1940s. But, judging from the reaction of the media, and from Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, one would have thought that she was sending Israeli Jews back to the 1940s. It was a media firestorm that engulfed her, sending a message to anyone else who might stray from the official party line on Israel.

What the Drug War has Wrought Reply

Article by John Sinclair.
Only the most nave, cynical or deluded among us can subscribe to the pervasive mythology of drug police, prosecutors and judges as fearless warriors valiantly fighting a depraved horde of heartless pushers and evil dope fiends whose anti-social pursuit of self-gratification by getting high threatens to destroy the American way of life and everything it stands for.

The War on Drugs has served primarily to construct a police state apparatus basically unchecked in its pursuit of power and control over elements of our society deemed undesirable and detrimental to the economic and cultural forces that shape and direct our national life.

Start with this: There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with getting high. People have been getting high as long as there have been people. People get high on beer, wine, whiskey, vodka and gin without criminal sanction. They get high on pills prescribed by their doctors or purchased on the black market. And people get high on marijuana or cocaine or heroin or whatever they desire for the physical and mental effects.

People get high when they want to. They obtain the drugs they crave however and wherever they can, and if they can’t buy them over the counter somewhere they will find them in the drug underworld and pay whatever price is required to get what they want. People are relentless in their pursuit of the drugs they want to get high on, and they generally devise some sort of way to make it happen despite the various obstacles thrust in their way by economic circumstances, physical dislocation and the formidable forces of law and order arrayed against them wherever they turn.

Marijuana was legal in the United States until 1937. Cocaine could be purchased over drugstore counters until well into the 20th century, and heroin wasn’t really demonized until the second half of the 1940s. In passing their draconian laws against use, possession and distribution of these once-tolerated recreational substances, our federal and state legislative bodies repeatedly cited ethnic and cultural minorities as the principal offenders and feared that their example would corrupt and undermine the very fabric of American life.

Planet Clarion Calling Reply

Article by Alexander Cockburn.
Americans were offered closure Wednesday to one of among the multifarious strands of our national dementias. It took the drab guise of the “long-form” birth certificate, signed and filed in Hawaii on August 8, 1961, indicating that the president is a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. But will the White House’s release of the certificate finish off the “birther” movement? Certainly not. We’re dealing here with cognitive dissonance.

Harold Camping, president of Family Stations Ministry, has been preaching for some time now to a vast and devoted national audience that God’s plan is to inaugurate the Second Coming and end the world by flooding on May 21, 2011 (thus achieving a Judeo-Christian planetary closure before the prime current pagan rival, the end of the Mayan calendar, scheduled for December 21, 2012.)

It’s a safe bet that Camping and his disciples will be saying on May 22 that his math was merely a year or two off, and the end is still nigh. His congregation will have its faith fortified. Membership will probably increase, as it did after the failure of Camping’s last prediction of the Second Coming, which he scheduled for September 6, 1994.

Sociologists call the phenomenon of increased commitment to a batty theory, at the very hour of its destruction by external evidence, “cognitive dissonance.” The theory was developed by three sociologists, Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter, who infiltrated a group headed by Dorothy Martin of Chicago who had received messages from the Planet Clarion that the world was scheduled for destruction by flood in the predawn hours of December 21, 1954. A flying saucer would save the group, whose members had abandoned, often at considerable expense and upheaval, all terrestrial commitments, pending transfer to Clarion.

The sociologists theorized that, when neither spaceship nor flood materialized, the group’s best strategy to avoid public humiliation would be to dismiss the failure of the prophesied events as due to minor miscalculations and then to proselytize vigorously, advertising a re-dated flood and interplanetary rescue. Dissonance between nutty theory and reality would be diminished amid growing popularity of the nutty theory. Anyone following the growth of the Christian religion in its early decades, or the Lesser of Two Evils crowd advocating support of a Democratic candidate, will recognize the dynamics.

A more militarized CIA for a more militarized America Reply

Article by Glenn Greenwald.
The first four Directors of the CIA (from 1947-1953) were military officers, but since then, there has been a tradition (generally though imperfectly observed) of keeping the agency under civilian rather than military leadership. That’s why George Bush’s 2006 nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden to the CIA provoked so many objections from Democrats (and even some Republicans).

The Hayden nomination triggered this comment from the current Democratic Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein: “You can’t have the military control most of the major aspects of intelligence. The CIA is a civilian agency and is meant to be a civilian agency.” The then-top Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, said “she hears concerns from civilian CIA professionals about whether the Defense Department is taking over intelligence operations” and “shares those concerns.” On Meet the Press, Nancy Pelosi cited tensions between the DoD and the CIA and said: “I don’t see how you have a four-star general heading up the CIA.” Then-Sen. Joe Biden worried that the CIA, with a General in charge, will “just be gobbled up by the Defense Department.” Even the current GOP Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, voiced the same concern about Hayden: “We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time.”

Of course, like so many Democratic objections to Bush policies, that was then and this is now. Yesterday, President Obama announced — to very little controversy — that he was nominating Gen. David Petraeus to become the next CIA Director. The Petraeus nomination raises all the same concerns as the Hayden nomination did, but even more so: Hayden, after all, had spent his career in military intelligence and Washington bureaucratic circles and thus was a more natural fit for the agency; by contrast, Petraues is a pure military officer and, most of all, a war fighting commander with little background in intelligence. But in the world of the Obama administration, Petraeus’ militarized, warrior orientation is considered an asset for running the CIA, not a liability.

‘Mr. Y’ and the Decline of the American Empire Reply

Article by Justin Raimondo.
While the rest of the “news” media was busy covering the Great Birth Certificate Drama, Rachel Maddow spared her audience yet another hour of having to watch that walking hairpiece make a fool of himself (and us), and instead focused on the real news: a US-trained Afghan pilot had turned on his trainers and killed 9 Americans – the biggest single casualty report since 2005. Not only did Rachel report this story, she also wondered aloud at its implications – the doubtful feasibility of a policy that assumes the Afghans will “stand up” as we “stand down – and wryly noted how the Obama White House is even utilizing the same phraseology we all remember from the Bush years.

My ears perked up. Is someone who often seems like a dyed-in-the-wool Obama cultist and partisan hack finally rebelling against the Great and Glorious Leader? Well, maybe, maybe not: in any case, she proceeded to give a platform to Prof. Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, and, most recently, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. Bacevich is a retired US Army colonel who graduated from West Point, fought in Vietnam, and now teaches at Boston University: he lost a son in Iraq and has become an eloquent conservative critic of our foreign policy of global intervention.

Bacevich spent a good deal of his time talking about an article recently released by the Wilson Center, “A National Strategic Narrative,” [.pdf] signed by “Mr. Y.” He started out by saying that the publication of the article is important less for the actual content of the piece and more because of who wrote it – “Mr. Y” is a pseudonym for U.S. Navy Captain Wayne Porter and U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Mark Mykleby, who both work for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. As he describes it, “What they are saying is our approach to national security policy has been excessively militarized, we really need to pay more attention to what goes on inside the country.”

Bacevich went on to note that these two officers are not alone. Rather than being resistant to change – that is, to a substantial cut in our misnamed “defense” budget, and the demilitarization of our foreign policy – quite the contrary seems to be the case. He cites the many emails he gets from serving officers basically agreeing with his non-interventionist views, and indeed many in the military hierarchy raised objections to the Iraq war, to such an extent that the neocons were screaming at one point about keeping the soldiers in their barracks and out of “politics.”

It was great to hear Bacevich lay into the Democrats for not having “the necessary moral courage to take the sort of political risks that are involved in saying we are not going to dominate the world, we are going to bankrupt the country and squander our moral standing” – on MSNBC! That almost makes up for Chris Matthews forgetting he’s supposed to be a journalist.

The Corruption of Law Leads to Tyranny Reply

Article by Paul Craig Roberts.
Remember when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the world that Guantanamo Prison held “the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth” and gave assurances that nevertheless “we’re treating these people as if the Geneva Convention applied?” The files on each prisoner, leaked by a US government whistleblower to Wikileaks and now available to the world, prove beyond all doubt that Rumsfeld was lying as was President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney when they repeated the lies.

The successor Obama administration in Washington, after the release of 607 of the “most dangerous men on earth” for lack of any evidence that represented any kind of danger at all, many after being tortured and abused, now claims that the remaining 172 are too dangerous to release, despite the lack of any evidence that would allow the government to try them.

Since the US government admits it was wrong in 78 percent of the cases, how do we know that the government is right about the remaining 22 percent?

Astonishingly, the government is afraid to attempt to try more than 40 of the remaining prisoners even in its special kangaroo courts – Military Tribunals – set up specially for the purpose of trying people with secret, non-declared evidence. That leaves 132 to be held in prison for their lifetimes without any evidence ever being presented against them – not even show trial “evidence.” Even Joseph Stalin’s victims got a show trial.

The Guantanamo prisoners were a collection of the most unlikely “dangerous people in the world.” How dangerous is an 89-year old villager suffering from senile dementia or a 14-year old boy who had been kidnapped?

Cincinnati Housing Cooperative Under Attack by City Government Reply

Article by Michael Earl Patton.
I need a lawyer, not because I did anything wrong, but apparently because I am in the cross-hairs of the city. I will explain the “crime,” such as it exists in the eyes of the city, below.

I am the secretary of the board of trustees of the Community Land Co-operative of Cincinnati (CLCC), a non-profit housing organization that works predominately in the West End. I do this as a volunteer, and have served in different capacities for years with this organization, and always as a volunteer. I have never received any pay for this work.

Some years ago the city found lead paint in one of our houses. As I understand it, a few years later they got around to notifying us. The executive director at the time informed the board then. He did tell us he was working on the problem. The board eventually asked that executive director to resign due to performance problems.

The board hired a new executive director. We applied for a grant from the city to remediate the lead paint. To our surprise, the city then took us to court, saying that the paint had not been remediated. The CLCC hired an attorney, who talked with the court. He said that the CLCC could enter into a diversion program and avoid fines if we would admit to the violation. No jail would be possible since we were an organization. Since I was secretary, I said that I would sign a statement admitting the violation for the CLCC. He emphasized that this was for the CLCC, not me personally.

I signed, it was admitted into court. Nothing about pleading guilty or anything like that—just if I was authorized to sign. The CLCC lawyer left, saying that someone would come out later and meet me with the paperwork.

As I left, a man introduced himself as being with the city and said that the CLCC would not be getting the grant this year or the year after that, and probably not the year after that either. Therefore he was putting me on notice that I personally had to make certain the paint was remediated, and if the CLCC had no money then I had to spend my own personal funds. I said that someone from the CLCC would call him to discuss and he said that under no circumstances would he talk to anyone but me now that I had signed that paper.

Eventually, a woman did come out with some paperwork which said that I personally was now enrolled in the diversion program. I said no, the CLCC was. She said no, that they did it this way so that they could “control” me, and that the paperwork that I personally—not the CLCC—had admitted guilt. She said that I would have to make regular court appearances to detail progress that I had made regarding the lead paint. If I didn’t, I personally would have to face the consequences. It was not the CLCC anymore, it was me. It was clear that she was talking about jail, as I have seen how the city and court handles lead paint issues. The city and court constantly threated 6 months in jail at everyone the city brings before the housing court.

I asked for a copy of that paperwork and she said I would have to get it from the lawyer. I said that was the lawyer for the CLCC, not me, and she said that she would refuse to talk to anyone else, including any other lawyer that I might ask to call her.

I, of course, was furious. I immediately tried calling the lawyer but he never would return my calls. A lawyer friend of mine did some checking on line and could find nothing. The CLCC did eventally get a hold of their lawyer and he said that he would take care of it. The executive director, Lisa Carter, said that she had talked to him and and that it was straightened out, that her name would be on the document and not mine. She said that she had even managed to verify this with the court, though she said this was a huge problem getting them to talk to her.

Today, months later, and much to my surprise, someone left me a message on my answering maching and said that I was being “terminated” from the diversion program and that and that I had to be in court on the 10th at 1:20 and to bring my lawyer. Due to the overall hostile attitude previously (such as refusing to talk to me or to any personal attorney of mine), I take this to mean potential trouble for me.

As you know, I have often made my voice heard. This includes opposing the big new jail and the ill-conceived streetcar. It means opposing the huge corporate hand-outs to the favored, especially including 3CDC. It means opposing selective property tax abatements, again for the favored. It means accurately predicting that the 2010 census population would be below 300,000. It also includes when a housing inspector from the city demanded a bribe or he would have a house condemned that the CLCC owned. (That house, by the way, was very near this other house with the lead paint.) We refused to pay the bribe and I did complain to city council, who of course did nothing. The house was structurally sound, and the inspector refused to discuss any actual issues unless we FIRST “satisfied” him. The CLCC lost the house—we sold if for almost nothing since the city did condemn it and we never did pay him off.

I need a lawyer. A lawyer who will be heard.

Sending Out an S.O.S Reply

Article by James Clingman.
For years now we have been involved in movements, events, and initiatives organized for the purpose of saving Black people from the ravages and vestiges of historical discrimination, disparity, and disenfranchisement. We have had meetings, conferences, forums, and seminars whose purpose was to provide a roadmap to true freedom for Black folks. Our public discourse, in large part, at least among the so-called “conscious” among us, has been centered on self-reliance, political and economic empowerment, and self-determination. Reflecting on the results of our rhetoric, I offer the following insights and, if I may, recommendations.

In light of the fact that Black people have no real voice in the political process, not with the President, not with the Black Caucus, and not even with many of our local Black politicians, it seems to me that we must do as the folks in the Tea Party did – start our own party and let our voices be heard via that collective. And, because politics is local, as Tip O’Neill said, we must act on a local level to appropriate the benefits we need to survive and thrive in our own neighborhoods, by electing Black folks – and others – who have our best interests in mind and are unafraid to act on our behalf. If the Black vote is as important as everyone says it is, then why aren’t we leveraging it to the extent that Black people get something back for it?

On the education front, we see an increased assault on our young people after we turned them over to be educated by a system that cares nothing about them. Read Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, and get a real handle on what is happening when it comes to schools, jails, and Black folks.

Economically, Blacks are in deep trouble. We have the highest debt and the lowest net worth. We have the highest unemployment and the lowest savings. We have the highest interest rates and the lowest asset base. We have the highest dependency and the lowest self-sufficiency. We demand the most and supply the least. In many cases around this country, if a crisis arises, Black people could not feed ourselves for a couple of weeks; we could not take care of our children’s needs; and we could not provide assistance to others. We have no infrastructure to deal with crises, thus, we would all be isolated in our own cocoons individually trying to fend for ourselves.