Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Media Coverage Omits about U.S. Hikers Released by Iran

By Glenn Greenwald

September 26, 2011 "Salon" -- Two American hikers imprisoned for more than two years by Iran on extremely dubious espionage charges and in highly oppressive conditions, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were released last week and spoke yesterday in Manhattan about their ordeal. Most establishment media accounts in the U.S. have predictably exploited the emotions of the drama as a means of bolstering the U.S.-is-Good/Iran-is-Evil narrative which they reflexively spout. But far more revealing is what these media accounts exclude, beginning with the important, insightful and brave remarks from the released prisoners themselves (their full press conference was broadcast this morning on Democracy Now).
Fattal began by recounting the horrible conditions of the prison in which they were held, including being kept virtually all day in a tiny cell alone and hearing other prisoners being beaten; he explained that, of everything that was done to them, "solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives." Bauer then noted that they were imprisoned due solely to what he called the "32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran," and said: "the irony is that [we] oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility." After complaining that the two court sessions they attended were "total shams" and that "we'd been held in almost total isolation - stripped of our rights and freedoms," he explained:

In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they'd remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.

We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments - including the government of Iran - to act in kind.

[Indeed, as harrowing and unjust as their imprisonment was, Bauer and Fattal on some level are fortunate not to have ended up in the grips of the American War on Terror detention system, where detainees remain for many more years without even the pretense of due process -- still -- to say nothing of the torture regime to which hundreds (at least) were subjected.]

Fattal then expressed "great thanks to world leaders and individuals" who worked for their release, including Hugo Chavez, the governments of Turkey and Brazil, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, Mohammad Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Desmond Tutu, as well as Muslims from around the world and "elements within the Iranian government," as well as U.S. officials.

Unsurprisingly, one searches in vain for the inclusion of these facts and remarks in American media accounts of their release and subsequent press conference. Instead, typical is this ABC News story, which featured tearful and celebratory reactions from their family, detailed descriptions of their conditions and the pain and fear their family endured, and melodramatic narratives about how their "long, grueling imprisonment is over" after "781 days in Iran's most notorious prison." This ABC News article on their press conference features many sentences about Iran's oppressiveness -- "Hikers Return to the U.S.: 'We Were Held Hostage'"; "we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten" -- with hardly any mention of the criticisms Fattal and Bauer voiced regarding U.S. policy that provided the excuse for their mistreatment and similar treatment which the U.S. doles out both in War on Terror prisons around the world and even domestic prisons at home.

Their story deserves the attention it is getting, and Iran deserves the criticism. But the first duty of the American "watchdog media" should be highlighting the abuses of the U.S. Government, not those of other, already-hated regimes on the other side of the world. Instead, the abuses at home are routinely suppressed while those in the Hated Nations are endlessly touted. There have been thousands of people released after being held for years and years in U.S. detention despite having done nothing wrong. Many were tortured, and many were kept imprisoned despite U.S. government knowledge of their innocence. Have you ever seen anything close to this level of media attention being devoted to their plight, to hearing how America's lawless detention of them for years -- often on a strange island, thousands of miles away from everything they know -- and its systematic denial of any legal redress, devastated their families and destroyed their lives?

This is a repeat of what happened with the obsessive American media frenzy surrounding the arrest and imprisonment by Iran of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, convicted in a sham proceeding of espionage, sentenced to eight years in prison, but then ordered released by an Iranian appeals court after four months. Saberi's case became a true cause célèbre among American journalists, with large numbers of them flamboyantly denouncing Iran and demanding her release. But when their own government imprisoned numerous journalists for many years without any charges of any kind -- Al Jazeera's Sami al-Haj in Guantanamo, Associated Press' Bilal Hussein for more than two years in Iraq, Reuters' photographer Ibrahim Jassan even after an Iraqi court exonerated him, and literally dozens of other journalists without charge -- it was very difficult to find any mention of their cases in American media outlets.

What we find here yet again is that government-serving American establish media outlets relish the opportunity to report negatively on enemies and other adversaries of the U.S. government (that is the same mindset that accounts for the predicable, trite condescension by the New York Times toward the Wall Street protests, the same way they constantly downplayed Iraq War protests). But to exactly the same extent that they love depicting America's Enemies as Bad, they hate reporting facts that make the U.S. Government look the same.

That's why Fattal and Bauer receive so much attention while victims of America's ongoing lawless detention scheme are ignored. It's why media stars bravely denounce the conditions of Iran's "notorious prison" while ignoring America's own inhumane prison regime on both foreign and U.S. soil. It's why imprisonment via sham trials in Iran stir such outrage while due-process-free imprisonment (and assassinations) by the U.S. stir so little. And it's why so many Americans know Roxana Saberi but so few know Sami al-Haj.

An actual watchdog press is, first and foremost, eager to expose the corruption and wrongdoing of their own government. By contrast, a propaganda establishment press is eager to suppress that, and there is no better way of doing so than by obsessing on the sins of nations on the other side of the world while ignoring the ones at home. If only establishment media outlets displayed a fraction of the bravery and integrity of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who had a good excuse to focus exclusively on Iran's sins but -- a mere few days after being released from a horrible, unjust ordeal -- chose instead to present the full picture.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Flight of the Plucked Chicken

Abu Mazen’s Gambit

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that’s politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous – almost insulting to the reader – to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength – Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis – only they – who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It’s the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple – the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas “a plucked chicken”.

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of “free officers” that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: “Sit, Anwar!”

To the utter amazement of the experts – and especially the Israeli ones – this “nonentity” took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas’ status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat’s under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: “my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, “a well-tailored idiot.”). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world’s only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: “So what did they gain from it?” But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas’ move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA’s miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America’s status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn’t. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him – will be remembered. The “plucked chicken” is soaring into the sky.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Killing and Lying in Our Names

The Constant Mind Rape

The physical violence of a crime is often accompanied by another kind of violation, an assault against the mind, for the criminal must disguise his evil deed. A murderer, rapist or merely adulterer will lie and spin, to conceal and/or rationalize what he has done.

For an empire, then, whose crimes are myriad, for it takes so much violence to maintain worldwide dominion, this assault against the mind is relentless, a blanket of nonsense that suffocates night and day, a miasma of photo ops and jive that poisons the conscience.

Thus, a chirpy CNN reporter talked about “terrorists” attacking the US Embassy in Afghanistan. She didn’t even called them “insurgents,” but simply and unequivocally “terrorists,” “terrorists,” “terrorists,” like a mantra, as she excitedly recounted how they had disguised themselves as women before overwhelming Afghan cops guarding a unfinished high-rise, killing them. Their aim was to gain a vantage point to rain rockets onto the US Embassy.

Of course, the CNN reporter could not point out that these men were classic nationalists, for a nationalist is one willing to defend his homeland against a foreign invader. Also, this paid-for mouth piece could not admit that these men were courageous and bold, as well as noble and selfless, for they had no escape plan. They were trapped inside that building. They knew that as they attacked, they would be surrounded by American soldiers, yet to do what was just and laudable to their own people, these brave individuals were willing to be killed by their hated enemy. They chose death and honor before subjugation and humiliation. Patrick Henry should be proud of them.

After this incident, US officials accused Pakistan of being the mastermind. Besides justifying continued drone and missile strikes against Pakistan itself, this charge also discredited the attackers as foreign agents and mercenaries, but let’s think about this for a second. A mercenary fights for money. He doesn’t choose certain death. Any Afghan willing to die battling foreign invaders, be them Americans or Soviets, is a nationalist, period.

Similarly, a Libyan is a nationalist if he’s fighting the vast American-led coalition, this oil-soaked crusade of mostly white, Christian countries that’s been attacking Libya for over six months now, but, no, the American media is calling him a “Gaddafi loyalist.”

Such deformation of facts also affects American victims of empire. When Pat Tillman was shot at close range by an American soldier, he was presented as a hero killed in action, a victim of the Taliban. A death loses its meaning and dignity when it’s perverted to serve someone else’s interest, and when a corpse is used to glorify the murderer, you have one of the worst of possible crimes, something akin to necrophilia. The empire will kill you, then screw you. It will derive pleasure from your cadaver.

Likewise, though it has been proven in court that the US government was behind the killing of Martin Luther King, he now has a huge statue on the National Mall, the very Mall where he organized Resurrection City, a poor people’s protest which hastened his assassination. With typical cynicism, our government is celebrating and appropriating a man it exterminated in cold blood.

Likewise, 9/11. It was nauseating for me to watch the ten-year commemoration of that tragedy without any airtime given to those who desperately wanted to probe deeper into exactly what happened. The many architects, engineers, pilots, first responders and relatives of victims who doubted the official version 9/11 were shunted aside so a self-justifying and congratulatory narrative from this criminal government could proceed without interruptions. This was the moment for sinister butchers like Bush and Obama to appear caring and statesmanlike, as father figures consoling us in our moment of grief, when they are in fact the authors of so much past and ongoing grief.

The truths about many key events in this nation’s history, Pearl Harbor attack, Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Martin Luther King’s, John’s and Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations, etc., have never fully come out, or only came out decades after the fact, so Americans should have learnt to suspect, by now, routine duplicity from Washington, yet many of us continue to believe. Such is the power of brainwashing. As they kill and lie in our names, we keep nodding and nodding.

We are not expected to ask questions, but merely to swallow whole the spoon-fed kitsch and bullshit. Recently, Americans were shown a photo of a dog that refused to leave the coffin of his master, a dead SEAL member, one of those “heroes” who supposedly killed Bin Laden. Though there was no physical proof whatsoever, no corpse, film or photo, we were told that a successful raid had occurred, and though an American helicopter tail was left behind, no American had died, incredibly, then we were told, three months later, that 22 of the SEALs involved, i.e., potential witnesses who could contradict the official narrative, were conveniently killed in an unprecedented attack by the Taliban.

These fairy tales are so bizarre but, before you can pause to parse one, if you’re so inclined, and most of us are no longer inclined or capable, another one comes down the chute, then another, then another. When one commits as many killings, lootings and rapes as this government does, one must lie constantly.

A Knack for Bashing Orthodoxy

September 19, 2011
A Knack for Bashing Orthodoxy

OXFORD, England —You walk out of a soft-falling rain into the living room of an Oxford don, with great walls of books, handsome art and, on the far side of the room, graceful windows onto a luxuriant garden.

Does this man, arguably the world’s most influential evolutionary biologist, spend most of his time here or in the field? Prof. Richard Dawkins smiles faintly. He did not find fame spending dusty days picking at shale in search of ancient trilobites. Nor has he traipsed the African bush charting the sex life of wildebeests.

He gets little charge from such exertions.

“My interest in biology was pretty much always on the philosophical side,” he says, listing the essential questions that drive him. “Why do we exist, why are we here, what is it all about?”

It is in no fashion to diminish Professor Dawkins, a youthful 70, to say that his greatest accomplishment has come as a profoundly original thinker, synthesizer and writer. His epiphanies follow on the heels of long sessions of reading and thought, and a bit of procrastination. He is an elegant stylist with a taste for metaphor. And he has a knack, a predisposition even, for assailing orthodoxy.

In his landmark 1976 book, “The Selfish Gene,” he looked at evolution through a novel lens: that of a gene. With this, he built on the work of fellow scientists and flipped the prevailing view of evolution and natural selection on its head.

He has written a string of best sellers, many detailing his view of evolution as progressing toward greater complexity. (His first children’s book, “The Magic of Reality,” appears this fall.) With an intellectual pugilist’s taste for the right cross, he rarely sidesteps debate, least of all with his fellow evolutionary biologists.

Although he is a political liberal, he has taken on more than a few leftists in his writings — particularly those who read his theory of genes as sanctioning rapacious and selfish behavior.

Of late he has taken up the cudgel for atheism, writing “The God Delusion,” an international best seller. When Martin Rees, Britain’s astronomer royal, recently accepted a prize from the John Templeton Foundation, which promotes a dialogue between science and religion, Professor Dawkins was unforgiving. Dr. Rees, he wrote, is a “compliant quisling,” a traitor to science. Dr. Rees declined to counterpunch.

Professor Dawkins often declines to talk in San Francisco and New York; these cities are too gloriously godless, as far as he is concerned. “As an atheistic lecturer, you are rather wasting your time,” he says. He prefers the Bible Belt, where controversy is raw.

He insists he frets before each lecture. This is difficult to imagine. He is characteristically English in his fluid command of words written and spoken. (Perhaps this is an evolutionary adaptation — all those cold, clammy English days firing an adjectival and syntactical genius?)

He is gracious without being gregarious. Ask him to explore an idea and he’ll rummage happily. But he keeps the door to his private life firmly latched.

(Briefly, he has a daughter, who is a doctor. He is married for the third time, to the actress Lalla Ward. He is on friendly enough terms with his first wife, the zoologist Marian Stamp Dawkins, that she wrote an essay for a 2006 book celebrating her former husband’s lifetime of accomplishment.)

African Roots

Clinton Richard Dawkins was born in Kenya, where his father was an agricultural specialist with the colonial service. He later returned with his parents to England and in due course arrived at Oxford, an intelligent enough boy. “I didn’t have a very starry school career,” he says. “I was medium to above average, nothing special.”

He lighted his own intellectual fire at a university peculiarly suited to his temperament. Oxford relies on the tutorial system, in which students burrow into original texts rather than textbooks.

“I loved it; I become easily temporarily obsessed,” Professor Dawkins says. “I did not end up as broadly educated as my Cambridge colleagues, but I graduated probably better equipped to write a book on my chosen subject.”

(From that experience he drew a dislike of the current establishment insistence — bordering on mania — for standardized tests and curriculums. He views this as antithetical to true learning.)

After graduating in 1962, he studied with Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Nobel-winning scientist, and taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Oxford in 1971. He was working out his thoughts on sociobiology, which took form a few years later in “The Selfish Gene.”

At the time, the predominant popular view of evolution was that animals and insects worked together, albeit unconsciously, and that natural selection acted on individuals to do what was good for their species. Cooperation, again unconscious, seemed woven into nature.

Professor Dawkins’s voice slides playfully into High David Attenborough style as he mimics the mellifluous tone of BBC documentaries of the time: “The dung beetle is the refuse collector of the natural system, and where would we be without them? And male deer fight but take care not to kill each other.”

He stops. “That sort of thinking was pretty dominant in the culture.” Artful pause. “And it’s plain wrong. I wanted to correct that ubiquitous misunderstanding.”

Genes, he says, try to maximize their chance of survival. The successful ones crawl down through the generations. The losers, and their hosts, die off. A gene for helping the group could not persist if it endangered the survival of the individual.

Such insights were in the intellectual air by the mid-1960s. But Professor Dawkins grasped the power of metaphor — that selfish gene — and so made the idea come alive. Andrew Read, a professor of natural history at Penn State, recalls reading “The Selfish Gene” and feeling his world change.

“Gone in a stroke was the intellectually barren ‘it just is’ hypothesis,” he wrote in an essay. “ ‘The Selfish Gene’ crystallized it and made it impossible to ignore.”

Not everyone bought the argument. The moral implications proved deeply troubling, suggesting that altruism disguised selfish, gene-driven behavior. “Many readers experienced the book as a psychic trauma,” wrote Dr. Randolph Nesse, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. “It turned their moral worlds upside down.”

Prominent scientists and intellectuals cast Professor Dawkins as the herald angel of a selfish culture, accusing him and his fellow sociobiologists of setting the cultural stage for the “I got mine” age of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin, a man of the political left, painted a picture out of a George Orwell novel. “If biological determinism is a weapon in the struggle between classes,” he wrote with two other scientists, “then the universities are weapons factories, and their teaching and research faculties are the engineers, designers.”

To Professor Dawkins, this badly distorted his science and his political leanings, which are resolutely liberal. (He opposed the Vietnam and Iraq wars, admires President Obama and votes most often with Labor. More recently, he voted for the Liberal Party in his district, as he admired the fact that the member of Parliament was insistently secular. The member lost in 2010, to an evangelical Conservative.) He was writing about the behavior of genes, not about psychological and emotional states.

Our glory as a species is that we can overcome our genetic impulses, he says, acknowledging that the book’s title “perhaps lent itself to misunderstanding.”

“It’s not the selfish individual, and certainly not the selfish species,” he says. “My book could have just as easily been called ‘The Altruistic Individual.’ ”

But true to himself, he does not stop at this concession. “What would our critics have had us do, falsify the algebra?” he asks, and says of the criticism, “It was irritatingly stupid, actually.”

Progressive Evolution?

Professor Dawkins’s great intellectual conviction is that evolution is progressive, and tends to lead to more and more complexity. Species, in his view, often arrive at similar solutions to evolutionary puzzles — the need for ears, eyes, arms or an octopus’s tentacle. And, often although not invariably, bigger brains. So the saber-toothed tiger shows up as a cat in Europe and Asia, and as a marsupial in South America. Different species seized on the same carnivorous solution. (He most certainly does not, however, view evolution as progressing toward us, that is humans — were we to disappear, some other species most likely would fill our evolutionary niche.)

“There are endless progressions in evolution,” he says. “When the ancestors of the cheetah first began pursuing the ancestors of the gazelle, neither of them could run as fast as they can today.

“What you are looking at is the progressive evolutionary product of an arms race.”

So it would be no great surprise if the interior lives of animals turned out to be rather complex. Do dogs, for example, experience consciousness? Are they aware of themselves as autonomous animals in their surroundings?

“Consciousness has to be there, hasn’t it?” Professor Dawkins replies. “It’s an evolved, emergent quality of brains. It’s very likely that most mammals have consciousness, and probably birds, too.”

(He has embraced the Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer’s Great Ape Project, which would accord legal rights to apes, including a prohibition against torture.)

His theory of progressive evolution, it should be said, is controversial. Professor Dawkins had a single great rival in writing about evolutionary biology: Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard.

Professor Gould, who died in 2002, was adamant that evolution was contingent — that while a species might progress in leaps and bounds, it was equally likely that it might reach a dead end, or regress. If a meteorite hit Earth and destroyed all intelligent life, he argued, the chances are vanishingly small that complex, intelligent life would evolve again.

As the writer Scott Rosenberg put it, Professor Gould saw our species as “simply a tiny accident occurring on a minor side-branch of the evolutionary tree.”

The two evolutionary biologists had well-armored egos, their intellectual battles were spectacular, and they did not share laughs over pints afterward. Professor Dawkins acknowledged their prickly relationship in writing an appreciation of his rival, who died of cancer: “Gould and I did not tire the sun with talking and send him down in the sky.”

Professor Dawkins feels more than a tinge of regret that he and Professor Gould did not appreciate each other more.

“Gould wanted to downgrade the conceit that it all progressed towards us, towards humans, and I fully approved of that,” he says now, even as he makes sure to add, “But evolution most certainly is progressive.”

There is a final cosmic joke to be had here.

The two men quarreled about everything save their shared atheism. But Professor Dawkins’s closest intellectual ally on progressive evolution and convergence is Simon Conway Morris, the renowned Cambridge evolutionary paleontologist.

And Professor Morris, as it happens, is an Anglican and a fervent believer in a personal God. He sees convergence as hinting at a teleology, or intelligent architecture, in the universe.

Ask Professor Dawkins about his intellectual bedfellow, and his smile thins. “Yes, well, Simon and I have converged on the science,” he says. “I should think in the world there are not two evolutionary scientists who could rival each other in their enthusiasm for convergence.”

As to Professor Morris’s religious faith? “I just don’t get it.”

Impatience With Religion

Aren’t the theologian’s questions — Why are we here? Is there something larger than us? Why do we die? — central to the human project?

Professor Dawkins shakes his head before the question is out. His impatience with religion is palpable, almost wriggling alive inside him. Belief in the supernatural strikes him as incurious, which is perhaps the worst insult he can imagine.

“Religion teaches you to be satisfied with nonanswers,” he says. “It’s a sort of crime against childhood.”

And please spare him talk of spiritualism, as if that were the only way to meditate on the wonder of the universe. “If you look up at the Milky Way through the eyes of Carl Sagan, you get a feeling in your chest of something greater than yourself,” he says. “And it is. But it’s not supernatural.”

It is a measure of Britain’s more resolutely secular culture that Professor Dawkins can pursue his atheism and probing, provocative views of Islam and Christianity in several prime-time television documentaries. In one, he interviewed young women in a Muslim school that receives state funds.

“One said her ambition was to be a doctor. But she explicitly said if there is a contradiction between science and the Koran, then the Koran was right,” he says. “They were lovely girls, but utterly brainwashed.”

Critics grow impatient with Professor Dawkins’s atheism. They accuse him of avoiding the great theological debates that enrich religion and philosophy, and so simplifying the complex. He concocts “vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince,” wrote Terry Eagleton, regarded as one of Britain’s foremost literary critics. “What, one wonders, are Dawkins’s views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus?”

Put that charge to Professor Dawkins and he more or less pleads guilty. To suggest he study theology seems akin to suggesting he study fairies. Nor is he convinced that the ecumenical Anglican, the moderate imam, the Catholic priest with the well-developed sense of irony, is religion’s truest representative.

“I’ve had perfectly wonderful conversations with Anglican bishops, and I rather suspect if you asked in a candid moment, they’d say they don’t believe in the virgin birth,” he says. “But for every one of them, four others would tell a child she’ll rot in hell for doubting.”

That, he says, explains why he is writing a book for children. He wants to raise questions — Why is there a sun? What is an earthquake? What about rainbows? — and provide clever, rational answers. He has toyed with opening his own state-sponsored school, though under the British system he would have to come up with matching money.

But it would not be a school for atheists. The idea horrifies him. A child should skip down an idiosyncratic intellectual path. “I am almost pathologically afraid of indoctrinating children,” he says. “It would be a ‘Think for Yourself Academy.’ ”

Human Gods

After two hours of conversation, Professor Dawkins walks far afield. He talks of the possibility that we might co-evolve with computers, a silicon destiny. And he’s intrigued by the playful, even soul-stirring writings of Freeman Dyson, the theoretical physicist.

In one essay, Professor Dyson casts millions of speculative years into the future. Our galaxy is dying and humans have evolved into something like bolts of superpowerful intelligent and moral energy.

Doesn’t that description sound an awful lot like God?

“Certainly,” Professor Dawkins replies. “It’s highly plausible that in the universe there are God-like creatures.”

He raises his hand, just in case a reader thinks he’s gone around a religious bend. “It’s very important to understand that these Gods came into being by an explicable scientific progression of incremental evolution.”

Could they be immortal? The professor shrugs.

“Probably not.” He smiles and adds, “But I wouldn’t want to be too dogmatic about that.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe

by Chris Hedges

I arrived in Times Square around 9:30 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. A large crowd was transfixed by the huge Jumbotron screens. Billows of smoke could be seen on the screens above us, pouring out of the two World Trade towers. Two planes, I was told by people in the crowd, had plowed into the towers. I walked quickly into the New York Times newsroom at 229 W. 43rd St., grabbed a handful of reporter’s notebooks, slipped my NYPD press card, which would let me through police roadblocks, around my neck, and started down the West Side Highway to the World Trade Center. The highway was closed to traffic. I walked through knots of emergency workers, police and firemen. Fire trucks, emergency vehicles, ambulances, police cars and rescue trucks idled on the asphalt.

The south tower went down around 10 a.m. with a guttural roar. Huge rolling gray clouds of noxious smoke, dust, gas, pulverized concrete, gypsum and the grit of human remains enveloped lower Manhattan. The sun was obscured. The north tower collapsed about 30 minutes later. The dust hung like a shroud over Manhattan.

I headed toward the spot where the towers once stood, passing dazed, ashen and speechless groups of police officers and firefighters. I would pull out a notebook to ask questions and no sounds would come out of their mouths. They forlornly shook their heads and warded me away gently with their hands. By the time I arrived at Ground Zero it was a moonscape; whole floors of the towers had collapsed like an accordion. I pulled out pieces of paper from one floor, and a few feet below were papers from 30 floors away. Small bits of human bodies—a foot in a woman’s shoe, a bit of a leg, part of a torso—lay scattered amid the wreckage.

Scores of people, perhaps more than 200, pushed through the smoke and heat to jump to their deaths from windows that had broken or they had smashed. Sometimes they did this alone, sometimes in pairs. But it seems they took turns, one body cascading downward followed by another. The last acts of individuality. They fell for about 10 seconds, many flailing or replicating the motion of swimmers, reaching 150 miles an hour. Their clothes and, in a few cases, their improvised parachutes made from drapes or tablecloths shredded. They smashed into the pavement with unnerving, sickening thuds. Thump. Thump. Thump. Those who witnessed it were particularly shaken by the sounds the bodies made on impact.

The images of the “jumpers” proved too gruesome for the TV networks. Even before the towers collapsed, the falling men and women were censored from live broadcasts. Isolated pictures appeared the next day in papers, including The New York Times, and then were banished. The mass suicide, one of the most pivotal and important elements in the narrative of 9/11, was expunged. It remains expunged from public consciousness.

The “jumpers” did not fit into the myth the nation demanded. The fate of the “jumpers” said something so profound, so disturbing, about our own fate, smallness in the universe and fragility that it had to be banned. The “jumpers” illustrated that there are thresholds of suffering that elicit a willing embrace of death. The “jumpers” reminded us that there will come, to all of us, final moments when the only choice will be, at best, how we will choose to die, not how we are going to live. And we can die before we physically expire.

The shock of 9/11, however, demanded images and stories of resilience, redemption, heroism, courage, self-sacrifice and generosity, not collective suicide in the face of overwhelming hopelessness and despair.

Reporters in moments of crisis become clinicians. They collect data, facts, descriptions, basic information, and carry out interviews as swiftly as possible. We make these facts fit into familiar narratives. We do not create facts but we manipulate them. We make facts conform to our perceptions of ourselves as Americans and human beings. We work within the confines of national myth. We make journalism and history a refuge from memory. The pretense that mass murder and suicide can be transformed into a tribute to the victory of the human spirit was the lie we all told to the public that day and have been telling ever since. We make sense of the present only through the lens of the past, as the French philosopher Maurice Halbwachs pointed out, recognizing that “our conceptions of the past are affected by the mental images we employ to solve present problems, so that collective memory is essentially a reconstruction of the past in the light of the present. … Memory needs continuous feeding from collective sources and is sustained by social and moral props.”

I returned that night to the newsroom hacking from the fumes released by the burning asbestos, jet fuel, lead, mercury, cellulose and construction debris. I sat at my computer, my thin paper mask still hanging from my neck, trying to write and catch my breath. All who had been at the site that day were noticeable in the newsroom because they were struggling for air. Most of us were convulsed by shock and grief.

There would soon, however, be another reaction. Those of us who were close to the epicenters of the 9/11 attacks would primarily grieve and mourn. Those who had some distance would indulge in the growing nationalist cant and calls for blood that would soon triumph over reason and sanity. Nationalism was a disease I knew intimately as a war correspondent. It is anti-thought. It is primarily about self-exaltation. The flip side of nationalism is always racism, the dehumanization of the enemy and all who appear to question the cause. The plague of nationalism began almost immediately. My son, who was 11, asked me what the difference was between cars flying small American flags and cars flying large American flags.

“The people with the really big flags are the really big assholes,” I told him.

The dead in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania were used to sanctify the state’s lust for war. To question the rush to war became to dishonor our martyrs. Those of us who knew that the attacks were rooted in the long night of humiliation and suffering inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians, the imposition of our military bases in the Middle East and in the brutal Arab dictatorships that we funded and supported became apostates. We became defenders of the indefensible. We were apologists, as Christopher Hitchens shouted at me on a stage in Berkeley, “for suicide bombers.”

Because few cared to examine our activities in the Muslim world, the attacks became certified as incomprehensible by the state and its lap dogs, the press. Those who carried out the attacks were branded as rising out of a culture and religion that was at best primitive and probably evil. The Quran—although it forbids suicide as well as the murder of women and children—was painted as a manual for fanaticism and terror. The attackers embodied the titanic clash of civilizations, the cosmic battle under way between good and evil, the forces of light and darkness. Images of the planes crashing into the towers and heroic rescuers emerging from the rubble were played and replayed. We were deluged with painful stories of the survivors and victims. The deaths and falling towers became iconographic. The ceremonies of remembrance were skillfully hijacked by the purveyors of war and hatred. They became vehicles to justify doing to others what had been done to us. And as innocents died here, soon other innocents began to die in the Muslim world. A life for a life. Murder for murder. Death for death. Terror for terror.

What was played out in the weeks after the attacks was the old, familiar battle between force and human imagination, between the crude instruments of violence and the capacity for empathy and understanding. Human imagination lost. Coldblooded reason, which does not speak the language of the imagination, won. We began to speak and think in the empty, mindless nationalist clichés about terror that the state handed to us. We became what we abhorred. The deaths were used to justify pre-emptive war, invasion, Shock and Awe, prolonged occupation, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, massive aerial bombardments, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11. The best that force can do is impose order. It can never elicit harmony. And force was justified, and is still justified, by the first dead. Ten years later these dead haunt us like Banquo’s ghost.

“It is the first death which infects everyone with the feelings of being threatened,” wrote Elias Canetti. “It is impossible to overrate the part played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must procure or invent a first victim. It needs not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone quite unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership of the group to which one belongs oneself.”

We were unable to accept the reality of this anonymous slaughter. We were unable because it exposed the awful truth that we live in a morally neutral universe where human life, including our life, can be snuffed out in senseless and random violence. It showed us that there is no protection, not from God, fate, luck, omens or the state.

We have still not woken up to whom we have become, to the fatal erosion of domestic and international law and the senseless waste of lives, resources and trillions of dollars to wage wars that ultimately we can never win. We do not see that our own faces have become as contorted as the faces of the demented hijackers who seized the three commercial jetliners a decade ago. We do not grasp that Osama bin Laden’s twisted vision of a world of indiscriminate violence and terror has triumphed. The attacks turned us into monsters, grotesque ghouls, sadists and killers who drop bombs on village children and waterboard those we kidnap, strip of their rights and hold for years without due process. We acted before we were able to think. And it is the satanic lust of violence that has us locked in its grip.

As Wordsworth wrote:

Action is transitory—a step, a blow,
The motion of a muscle—this way or that—
’Tis done; and in the after-vacancy
We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:
Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,
And has the nature of infinity.

We could have gone another route. We could have built on the profound sympathy and empathy that swept through the world following the attacks. The revulsion over the crimes that took place 10 years ago, including in the Muslim world, where I was working in the weeks and months after 9/11, was nearly universal. The attacks, if we had turned them over to intelligence agencies and diplomats, might have opened possibilities not of war and death but ultimately reconciliation and communication, of redressing the wrongs that we commit in the Middle East and that are committed by Israel with our blessing. It was a moment we squandered. Our brutality and triumphalism, the byproducts of nationalism and our infantile pride, revived the jihadist movement. We became the radical Islamist movement’s most effective recruiting tool. We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too. The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Francis Anthony Boyle

Francis Anthony Boyle (born 1950) is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law.[1] Boyle received a J.D. degree magna cum laude and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in political science from Harvard University. He also practiced tax and international tax with Bingham, Dana & Gould.

Background and legal work

Boyle serves as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the Palestinian Authority. He also represents two associations of citizens within Bosnia and was involved in developing the indictment against Slobodan Milosevic for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over his career, he has represented national and international bodies including the Blackfoot Nation (Canada), the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation, as well as numerous individual death penalty and human rights cases. He has advised numerous international bodies in the areas of human rights, war crimes and genocide, nuclear policy, and bio-warfare. From 1991-92, Boyle served as Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations. He also served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, as a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee, and on the Advisory Board for the Council for Responsible Genetics. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, that was approved unanimously by both Houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.[2]

Activism and views

Amnesty InternationalAs member of the board of Amnesty International USA at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, he claimed that Amnesty International USA acted in ways closely related to United States foreign policy interests. He stated that Amnesty, along with other human rights organisations in the US, failed to sufficiently criticise the Sabra and Shatila Massacre in Lebanon.[3] Boyle stated his suspicion that the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, based geographically in London, UK, was also subject to this bias. He attributes the alleged links between Amnesty International and US and UK foreign policy interests to the relatively large financial contribution of Amnesty International USA to AI's international budget, which he estimated at 20%.[3] Boyle also stated that Amnesty international was instrumental in publicizing the "Iraqi soldiers dumping children from incubators in Kuwait" hoax.[4] Boyle also claimed that aspects of organisational continuity and survival came ahead of human rights aims in Amnesty International. He stated "Amnesty International is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns."[3]

US foreign policy since 9/11

Boyle is a harsh critic of the foreign policy of former American President George W. Bush. In 2007 Boyle denounced the "ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by the Bush Jr. administration and its nefarious foreign accomplices in allied governments such as in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Georgia, etc." He also stated that the Bush administration "would welcome the outbreak of a Third World War" and "is fully prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons against Muslim and Arab states and peoples." He also stated that American treatment of Muslims and Arabs since the attacks of September 11, 2001 is "almost to the same extent that America inflicted upon the Japanese and Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor." He concluded his speech by calling on American lawyers to "lead the fight against the Bush Jr. dictatorship."[5]

Boyle has requested that the International Criminal Court Prosecutor obtain International Arrest Warrants for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales.[6]

Federal Government of the United States

In October 1992 Boyle participated in the International Tribunal of Indigenous Peoples and Oppressed Nationalities in the United States of America that convened in San Francisco. Boyle, acting as a "Special Prosecutor," petitioned the Tribunal to issue the following:

"An Order proscribing the Federal Government of the United States of America as an International Criminal Conspiracy and a Criminal organization under the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles;" and
"an Order dissolving the Federal Government of the United States of America as a legal and political entity."
In the conclusion of a 37-point legal brief, Boyle proclaimed that:
"[the Federal Government of the United States] is hostis humani generis: The enemy of all humankind! For the good of all humanity, this Tribunal must condemn and repudiate the Federal Government of the United States of America and its grotesque vision of a New World Order that is constructed upon warfare, bloodshed, violence, criminality, genocide, racism, colonialism, apartheid, massive violations of fundamental human rights, and the denial of the international legal right of self-determination to the Indigenous Peoples and Peoples of Color living in North America and elsewhere around the world."[7]


In 1993, Boyle gave a speech in which he called for Hawaiian independence from the United States.[8]

In December 2004, Boyle stated that the United States is illegally occupying the state of Hawaii and has encouraged Native Hawaiians to press for independence and, if necessary, unilaterally proclaim their own state. In a three-hour speech entitled "The Restoration of Hawaii's Independence," Boyle claimed that the United States has conceded it unlawfully occupied the Kingdom of Hawaii and that fact alone "gives the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) the entitlement to restore their independent status as a sovereign nation state." Boyle argued that, like the Palestinians, Hawaiians should "exercise their right of self-determination," instead of asking the permission for it. Boyle stated that "the plight of the Hawaiian people is generally well known in the world and there's a great deal of sympathy." He concluded his speech by stating that "Hawaii should send the strongest message to Washington it can. Letters carry no weight. The number of people in the street do. Gandhi threw the mighty British out of India with peaceful, nonviolent force. People power, submit to it."[9]


Boyle has urged Iran to sue the United States in the International Court of Justice in order to discourage a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities and prevent the imposition of new sanctions by the U.N. Security Council. He has also offered to represent Iran and recommended that Iran begin drafting lawsuits for presentation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). [10]


Boyle is a harsh critic of Israel, Zionism, and American foreign policy towards Israel. In May 2008, Boyle offered to "represent Iran in an international tribunal for trying the Zionist regime on charges of genocide of Palestinians", and reportedly demanded that his proposal be submitted to Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[11][12]

In 1986, Boyle filed a lawsuit against Israeli General Amos Yaron for alleged involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacre on behalf of several relatives of victims, but lost when the United States State Department claimed that Yaron could not be tried due to the diplomatic immunity he enjoyed as a military attachè to the United States. Boyle countered that under the Nuremberg Principles, there are no privileges and immunities for suspected war criminals, but the court decided that since President Reagan had given Yaron a "formal certification", "this was a political question and the court could not do anything to the contrary". Boyle has since followed all lawsuits against Israelis internationally, and blames "Zionist control and domination of the American judiciary" for the failure of these lawsuits in the United States. Boyle also proposed that the United Nations General Assembly set up the "International Criminal Tribunal for Israel" (ICTI) as a "subsidiary organ" under Article 22 of the United Nations Charter. His suggestion was endorsed in the UN by Malaysia and Iran, and supported by several dozen Arab and Muslim countries.[13]

Boyle has campaigned for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel since first calling for the establishment of the movement in 2000.[13]

Boyle has referred to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip as "genocide", and the Gaza War as a "massacre", claiming that Israel's actions raise the element in the Genocide Convention "of murder, torture, and things of that nature", and urged the Obama Administration to force Israel to lift its blockade.[13] In January 2009, Boyle wrote that "Israel’s genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948... Zionism’s “final solution” to Israel’s much touted “demographic threat” allegedly posed by the very existence of the Palestinians has always been genocide."[12] Following the Gaza War, he advised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to file a declaration under Article 12, Paragraph 3 of the Rome Statute, requesting the prosecution of Israeli officials.[13]

Boyle has referred to Israeli settlements as "clearly illegal and criminal", and stated that "all these so-called settlers are committing war crimes, except the children, who are obviously not old enough to formulate a criminal intent".[13]

Views on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton

In interview which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on October 26, 2010 (as translated by MEMRI), Boyle sharply criticized Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, stating that "Obama was bought and paid for by Zionists. That's why Rahm Emanuel was his chief-of-staff" and that "Mrs. Clinton sold her soul to the Zionists in New York to get elected as senator from New York."[14]

In the same interview, Boyle stated that "all the major US news media sources are Zionist – every one of them. Likewise, higher education, here, in America, has become predominantly Zionist in its orientation."[14

Views on Alan Dershowitz

Boyle is a sharp critic of pro-Israel scholar Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel. In a February 2010 interview, Boyle stated that "Dershowitz is not a trained international lawyer; he's not a trained human rights lawyer." He also stated that "Dershowitz is a {prima facie} war criminal, who should be prosecuted himself" and that "it would be great to get him out of Harvard Law School - my dis-alma mater - and ship him over to Israel with all the other war criminals over there." In the same interview, Boyle expressed support for other critics of Dershowitz and Israel such as Norman Finkelstein and Israel Shahak.[15]

Prediction of the collapse of Israel

In an article published in Veterans Today, Boyle stated that "God had no right to steal Palestine from the Palestinians and give Palestine to the Jews to begin with. A fortiori the United Nations had no right to steal Palestine from the Palestinians and give Palestine to the Zionists in 1947. He expressed support for the "B.D.S. campaign that will de-legitimize Israel and Zionism all around the world" and predicted that the state of Israel "will continue its rapid descent into pariah state status...When Israel collapses, most Zionists will have already left or will soon leave for other states around the world" and that "Palestinians will then be able to claim all of the historic Mandate for Palestine as their State, including the entire City of Jerusalem as their Capital."[16]

Regarding a potential peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Boyle wrote that "The only thing that could save Zionism in Palestine is for the Palestinians to conclude any type of so-called comprehensive Middle East Peace treaty with Israel...There is no reason for the Palestinians to give the Zionists a new lease on life in Palestine by signing any sort of peace treaty with Israel...The Palestinians must sign nothing and let Israel collapse!"[16

Israel as a "Jewish Bantustan"

In interview which aired on Al-Jazeera TV, October 26, 2010 (as translated by MEMRI), Boyle stated that Israel is "nothing more than a Jewish Bantustan, set up by the Western colonial powers, in the Middle East, to control and dominate the Middle East at their behest. It is that simple...The British, the Americans, and the French created Israel as a Jewish Bantustan and stuck it there in the heart of Palestine and the Arab world to control and dominate that region of the world."[14]

"Jewistan" suggestion

In an article published on October 21, 2010, Boyle suggested that Israel change its name to "Jewistan -- the State of the Jews" because:

"Israel has never been anything but a Bantustan for Jews setup in the Middle East by the White racist and genocidal Western colonial imperial powers in order to serve as their racist attack dog and genocidal enforcer against the Arab and Muslim world. From the very moment of Western imperialism’s genocidal conception of Israel in 1947-1948, Israel has historically always functioned as Jewistan...Israel might as well change its name today to Jewistan, own up to its racist birthright, and make it official the rest of the world to acknowledge."[17][18]

He concluded the article by stating:

"The Palestinians should sign nothing with Jewistan/Israel and let this Bantustan for Jews collapse of its own racist and genocidal weight. Good riddance!"[17][18]

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Oh, The Pain of The Believer

August 30, 2011 :

Barack’s Betrayals Offer Lessons We Can’t Deny

Danny Schechter
Journalists are not supposed to have political opinions, and yet we all do. Our “biases” are usually disguised, not blatant or overtly partisan, and can be divined in what stories we cover and how we cover them,

Even ‘just the facts, ma'am,’ journos for big Media have to decide which facts to include and which to ignore.

Our outlooks are always shaped by our worldviews, values and experience, not to mention the outlets we work for.

Which brings me to the challenge of seeking truth and recognizing it when you see it.

I have to admit that I was seduced by the idea of Barack Obama. I wanted to believe because I needed to believe, needed to believe it was possible to change the American behemoth, to believe that, as he kept saying, “it could be different this time.” (photo: Celeste Hodges)

The idea of a black President, the idea of a young President, the idea of an articulate President, and the idea of a man married to such a stand up woman from a working class family was hard to resist.

Here’s a guy who seemed really smart, not just because he went to Harvard but because professors there I liked were impressed with him. (I taught at Harvard, and know very well how not so smart many students there can be!)

In the end, it doesn’t mean much, but in that period he lived about a block away from the house I once shared on Dartmouth Street in Somerville.

Was that a degree of separation?

He had also been a community organizer, starting in politics at the grassroots in Chicago. I also worked at Saul Alinsky-style organizing and even knew the iconic organizer personally.

Was that another degree?

He’s invoked the spirit of the civil rights movement but was not part of it. He treated Dr. King as a monument before the new memorial was conceived, embracing him as a symbol of the past, not a guide to the future.

He took an anti-war stance on pragmatic grounds only, preferring Afghanistan to Iraq. He hasn’t extricated us from either battlefield.

His strategy borrowed heavily from the Bush Doctrine. What’s the difference, really, as US troops now intervene worldwide and Guantanamo remains open for business?

There was a lot I didn’t know. I didn’t know the backgrounds of those that groomed him and funded him. His relationship with the centrist DLC was murky as were the details on the services he performed for a shadowy firm, Business International, said to have CIA links.

There were those who warned, but I guess I didn’t want to listen.

Why? I didn’t want to reinforce my own skepticism and sense of despair. I feigned at being hopeful even as I took quite a few critical whacks at his positions in my blog. His deviations from a liberal agenda and his paens to the “free market” were considered necessary for his “electability.”

I was also influenced by the euphoria for him overseas that had become infectious but has since soured.

To be honest, I was so disgusted with eight years of George Bush for all the right reasons that I wanted him gone full stop, as did millions of Americans.

Hillary didn’t appeal to me, not because she’s a woman but because of her slavish affinity for the Israel lobby and middle of the road Democrats. (Yes, Obama, did his mea-culpa to AIPAC too!)

I was denounced as a super sexist by a few for not buying into her centrist Clintonista crusade.

She had gone from a student advocate to part of a ruling family; he went from bottom-up activism to top-down elitism.

When she joined his “team,” you knew they were always in the same league.

When the right bashed him for associating with radical Bill Ayers, who I knew, it made me suspect he might even be cooler than I thought, even as he raced to distance himself. His membership in Reverend Wright’s church hinted at a deeper consciousness until he buckled in the media heat and threw the man that married him under the bus.

And yet, I wanted to believe because I needed to believe, needed to believe it was possible to change the American behemoth, to believe that, as he kept saying, “it could be different this time.”

As the late writer David Foster Wallace put it, “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life…there is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship… else (what) you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things - if they are where you tap real meaning in life - then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough.”

So, in a sense, I became a worshipper like so many, not of the man or the dance he was doing in an infected political environment, but because I convinced myself that I worshipped possibility, that there are times when the unexpected, even the unbelievable occurs. I had seen Mandela go from prison to the presidency of South Africa.

After all, how does a progressive blast a candidate who has Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger singing the uncensored version of “This Land Is Your Land” at his inaugural?

Yet, there was always a nagging question: was he with us or just co-opting us?

Yes We Can?

Slowly, despite the glow and the aura, deeper truths surfaced, realities I had winked away. Its not surprising that his mantra has gone, as the Washington Post reports, from the “fierce urgency of now,” to “Be patient, democracy is big and tough and messy.”

Yes, I knew, I may have been rationalizing a false god, who was only another, if more attractive, politician who says one thing and does another in a political system where power, not personalities prevail.

Like many of his predecessors he would be “captured” by the power structures, by the military men and contractors at the Pentagon and the money men on Wall Street.

He was in office but never really in charge. Clearly, he didn’t have the votes to enact a real change agenda. But that was because his own party was long ago bought and paid for.

He never had a chance, even if as I wanted to believe, he wanted one. He said he wanted to be transformational figure but the system transformed him—and quickly.

Everyone runs “against Washington,” even a Senator, who was part of it.

And so I held my nose and voted, hoping against my wiser instincts. I even made a positive film about the campaign that showed how he used social media and texting to mobilize new voters. When I tried to get a copy to the White House, through an insider there, I found they couldn’t be less interested.

By then, he had gone from playing the “outside game” to opting into the “inside game” built around compromise in the name of “pragmatism," or "getting it done,” in his words. In the end he was a rookie who may have outsmarted himself or just served the interests who put him there.

He couldn’t dump his most passionate and issue-oriented followers fast enough.

While his backers were still hot to trot, he became cooler toward them, and, in effect, repudiated them with few progressive appointments. He put on his flag pin and relished the symbolism of the “office.” He became the master of the uplifting speech disguising a quite different policy agenda.

He spoke for the people but served the power. His wanted the other side to love him too, even as his stabs at “bi-partisanship” proved non-starters.

When you lie down with those “lambs,” (or is it snakes?) you betray not only supporters, but their hopes. FDR was soon spinning in his grave.

I am not surprised that knowledgeable critics of his economic policies not only consider him bull-headed and wrong, but actually corrupt, aligned and complicit, with the banksters who are still ripping us off. No wonder he’s "bundled” more donations from the greedsters and financiers this year than in 2008! No wonder he turned his back on consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren and is trying to kill prosecutions of bank fraud in high places.

Christopher Whalen who writes for Reuters say there will be a cost for his doing nothing: “The path of least resistance politically has been to temporize and talk. But by following the advice of Rubin and Summers, and avoiding tough decisions about banks and solvency, President Obama has only made the crisis more serious and steadily eroded public confidence. In political terms, Obama is morphing into Herbert Hoover.”

Yet, at the same time, many of us who now know how we have been used, will vote for him again, because, as he rightly calculates, there is no one else, and the alternative is even worse. Watch and weep as today’s rebels become next year’s rationalizers.

It reminds me of when activists were asked to vote for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 with the slogan “Part of the Way with LBJ.” That way ended with an endless escalation of war in Vietnam, and guns trumping butter. Sound familiar?

The search for truth and reality has hit a wall but has to continue. The lessons need to be learned. We have to say we were wrong, when we were, not in our beliefs, but in pinning our hopes on a shrewd, ambitious, and double-faced political performance artist.

While people who still back him dismiss the accusation that’s he’s a hidden socialist, Kenyan, or space alien, all too many suspect he may be a secret Republican. He is who he is, aloof, cautious, and a man in the middle. He’s staying there.

Let’s give David Foster the last word.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconscioussness,…

… It is about simple awareness - awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over…”

Mediachannel’s News Dissector Danny Schechter investigates the origins of the economic crisis in his book Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal (Cosimo Books via Amazon). Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

more Danny Schechter .Login or register to post commentsE-mailPrintShareTwitter Facebook Digg Google Google Buzz StumbleUpon Delicous Newsvine Yahoo .More... .Discuss..171 Comments so farShow All Posted by polycarpeAug 30 2011 - 10:05am.“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconscioussness,…
… It is about simple awareness - awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over…”
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by raydelcaminoAug 30 2011 - 10:24am.That said, it was very apparent to me in June 2008 when the Obama campaign turned down public financing in order to get unlimited corporate money, that Obama would be beholden to the wealthiest 1%. the content of Obama's subsequent campaign speeches demonstrated that he was no different than Hillary and that he either didn't understand the root of US and global economic problems or he was delivering Wall Street's spin.
Candidate Obama's zealous promotion of an unconditional TARP in September 2008 confirmed that Obama's first term would be Dubya's third term.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by polycarpeAug 30 2011 - 10:37am.I was just commenting on the Wallace quote.
I passed over the rest of the article for the reason I pass over many of the "come-to-Jesus" postings on who Obama really is or how we were betrayed by him.
The reason?
There is no palpable anger.
Look, in my life when I realize I've been betrayed by someone who I trusted, I don't sit down and right 1000-word analyses of my inner psychic struggles and reflections on said behavior.
Here's my essay.
It's called "Betrayal" but don't worry it won't offend anyone who reads it, kay?
No, I get f*cking angry.
And NONE of these writers on said subject ever displays any true anger at what happened to them.
That, unfortunately, is how the exquisite propaganda in this country works.
Not only does it obfuscate reality but it once reality can no longer be hidden, it seeks to mold and shape people's reactions to said reality and make it all palatable.
Exhibit 1,454,543: the above article.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by ChrisIIAug 30 2011 - 11:56am.I agree. Where is the outrage? Exhausted, most probably, by too many vile actions to contemplate. I, for at least one, would never vote for Obama under any circumstances.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by onemorethoughtAug 30 2011 - 12:43pm.I find I get f*cking (extremely) angry also, it being at Obama and his ilk. I don't do anything with the anger... it passes. I never get angry at Republicans; I never feel betrayed by them.
It seems the on-line "progressive" commentaries include analysis these days about where "we" went wrong and also what needs to be done to "fix" it. It seems a bit sisyphusian to me in that we always seem to have "lessons to learn" and "the search for truth must go on," etc, before we can finally arrive.
Pain may be a consistant and patient teacher, but perhaps humanity is not always interested in learning or looking at the truth on any given day. Pushing a stone up a hill over and over is part of life too?
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by bgcdAug 30 2011 - 1:22pm.Agreed. Schecter is one of the comfortable pundits. He is a member of the elite (liberal wing) so he and his family and friends are never going to suffer personally from the consequences of Obama's collusion and collaboration with the big moneyed interests and so these consequences are to him merely academic. His grieving is the grieving of a comfortable spectator, while he goes about his secure affluent existence. Thus he feels no anger.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by bardamuAug 30 2011 - 2:40pm.The importance of this and similar articles is that Schecter and many other more or less similar people *are* indeed members of the "liberal" elite or self-identify with similar ideas, yet are *not* comfortable with what had recently been a comfortable compromise.
Surely any educated and articulate person with the will to do so could have written a more damning criticism of Obama or better enumerated O's abandonment of his nominal base. But this is not the writer's purpose nor the article's topic or importance.
To whatever extent this comfortable elite feels it must disengage itself from Obama's 2012 candidacy, that is an event.
The edifice peels and crumbles in places before it falls.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by bgcdAug 31 2011 - 12:59pm.I hope it falls soon.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by LibWingofLibWingAug 30 2011 - 6:03pm.Right, the real point of this article is to convince us that we will just have to hold our noses and vote for him.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by adpprofAug 30 2011 - 9:54pm.not me. and I think our numbers are growing.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by True PatriotAug 31 2011 - 7:30am.by adpprof:
"not me. and I think our numbers are growing."
Agreed. And Liberals are smarter--that should count for something, right? LOL
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by wantrealdemocracySep 1 2011 - 12:06am."We will vote for him again, because there is no one else, and the alternative is even worse" says Danny Schechter. Is the man brain dead? We have been betrayed and lied to and we will vote for more of the same? The alternative is worse? No. The other corporate party is JUST THE SAME. The evil of the terrible two is equal.
We MUST NOT VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN. We must not vote for the Republican either. I hope you are not brain dead. Is this crap all you want and deserve? Ready for austerity? You'll do just fine being jobless, hungry and homeless? And your kids too? Is this all you deserve and hope for?
The wealth of our nation has been stolen from the workers who made it. We must stop serving the rich and wishing we could be like them. NOT ME! I don't want to be a greedy selfish bastard who has too much and only wants more. Decent human beings want a community of people of honor who are willing to care for each other and share the bounty of the earth. Stand up and have some pride. Don't accept what the rich offer you if you just be quiet. Get out and get mad and LOUD. We don't have to take it any more.
And we shouldn't.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by gardenernorcalAug 30 2011 - 10:09am."Yet, at the same time, many of us who now know how we have been used, will vote for him again, because, as he rightly calculates, there is no one else, and the alternative is even worse."
There's always more than one candidate in the presidential race. I think his performance has demonstrated one thing: That the alternative can't be any worse. Consider next years vote as installing a temp worker to take over the duties of someone that failed to perform. GW had 8 years and look how that worked out. Eventually if neither party can provide us with someone of integrety and determined to invest in the American Society in general and not just Wall St., maybe then a third party will stand a chance of being heard above the high priced "marketing" cackle.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by raydelcaminoAug 30 2011 - 10:18am.Americans who vote for Dims and repugs often accuse those of us who vote for third party candidates of "wasting our vote".
I contend that Americans who vote for candidates who work against them (while ignoring third party candidates who will work for them) are wasting their votes.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by Truthseeker58Aug 30 2011 - 6:50pm.You said it right, Raydelcamino!!
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by Michael FAug 30 2011 - 10:46am."Yet, at the same time, many of us who now know how we have been used, will vote for him again, because, as he rightly calculates, there is no one else, and the alternative is even worse. Watch and weep as today’s rebels become next year’s rationalizers."
Until I read that paragraph, I could feel some sympathy for Schechter and his cohorts. Yes, ridiculous as it was, maybe some really believed Saddam was going to spray poison gas across the length and breadth of America with his Mig-19. And yes, ludicrous as it was, maybe some really believed we had to militarily engage the Taliban to prevent their freedom-hating talibanic hordes from sweeping over us from coast to coast. Even as no student in our schools should ever be given a grade less than an A for anything.
But to reward such mendacity and perfidy with the promise of yet another vote?
To believe that there could be worse than Obama bespeaks a credulity beyond understanding...and beyond empathy.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by LohmannAug 30 2011 - 1:27pm.I totally agree.
To have an ardent true believer like Mr. Schechter honestly share the pain of how the scales were removed from his eyes was an absorbing, even cleansing read. I always delight when a zealot, of any stripe, finally opens his/her eyes. I was with him the whole way.
And then I read that phrase: "...will vote for him again..." And I almost retched with disgust at the enormity of his political blind spot. What kind of activist believes in Margaret Thatcher's TINA?
It's because of people like this that America has been perpetually doomed to always elect the lesser of two evils. Schechter is so enmeshed in the battered spouse syndrome that it seems cognitively impossible for him to consider that there are alternatives to voting for someone you just spent a thousand words denouncing. Doesn't it make sense that a vote for the lesser of two evils still steers the ship of state towards evil? If so, then why express shock and dismay when the ship of state lands on the shores of Hell? And then, what's the response? To vote for the captain to lead the landing party? What kind of sense does that make?
It boggles my mind that people who repudiate fascism would still vote for Mussolini instead of Hitler only because of a perception that MLK doesn't have a chance...
Danny Schechter -- you're one of the people responsible for the state the country is in. Though your eyes were temporarily opened and you feel the pangs of regret for being carried along on a wave of hope based on bullshit, you admit you'll shut them tight when electing this known charlatan again, no matter how much worse the alternative is (as if there were only two choices...). If, as William Gaddis asserts, stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance, then you, sir, are stupid.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by Franciszek2Aug 30 2011 - 4:31pm.Schechter is an "ardent true believer .... responsible for the state the country is in... and also stupid"
I have to disagree. I've met real ardent true believers ... and they don't sound anything like Schechter. In fact, a true believer would probably be disgusted by Schechter's article here. A true believer does not let the notion that Obama is a paid employee of wall street enter their brain. A true believer would find the idea that Obama is a conservative trojan horse to be incomprehensible (I know because I told a real TB exactly that.) Furthermore, Schechter says he was skeptical of candidate Obama and only voted for him reluctantly. If true, then that statement alone essentially disqualifies him from being a TB. A true believer cannot also be a skeptic, or reluctant.
A true believer gets red in the face and white in the knuckle when confronted with even the most basic and obvious criticisms of Dear Leader. Schechter is a different animal altogether. A resigned cynic maybe?
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by LohmannAug 30 2011 - 4:52pm.Thank you for the clarification, with examples. I defer to your assessment.
That said, I don't know which is worse: a zealot who, blinded by their faith, is incognizant of the ramifications of their actions; or someone aware of the truth of the situation, yet who willfully decides to continue being complicit in perpetuating an evil status quo because they're too intellectually lazy (or dishonest) to discover (or even consider) alternatives.
In some ways you can't fault someone who doesn't know better, so I tend to think the latter is worse, since they're knowingly committing a folly that has social consequences... (Eg: a premeditated crime is worse than one committed accidentally.)
I do know, though, that Schechter's attitude sickens me even more than it angers me.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by Franciszek2Aug 31 2011 - 10:13am.I actually think his assessment of Obama was pretty good. As was his prediction that many progressives will succumb to the false logic of lesser-evilim. I think it remains an open question whether or not Schechter himself can be counted among that group, but I did not see anything in the article that appeared to be an explicit, implict, or underhanded, backdoor endorsement-by-omission of Obama.
I'd say Schechter's view is closer to someone like Chris Hedges than John Nichols or Katrina van Demshill.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by tovangar2Aug 30 2011 - 2:27pm."To believe that there could be worse than Obama bespeaks a credulity beyond understanding...and beyond empathy."
Thank you for that Michael.
I told my kids in 2008 that if Obama wasn't assassinated before the election it would prove he was one of them. He wasn't & he is.
If he had been any kind of "credible threat" he never would have made it to election day, but would have joined MLK, Malcolm X, JFK & RFK in martyrdom. The system doesn't allow alternative voices that become too effective. I'm not gonna vote for Ron Paul, but I hope he has great security (although the MSM has been pretty effective so far in disappearing him - that may save his life).
I don't know who I'm gonna vote for as a write in, if I vote. If we have voting machines here I won't vote cuz it's pointless.
Is Kucinich running again? Or is he too compromised to bother with? They'd just kill him if he got close anyway.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by jlknapp505Aug 30 2011 - 11:19am.I didn't vote for Obama, because I didn't see any evidence that he would discover a principle where he would stand and not compromise. I still haven't seen that principle. But I cannot vote for anyone aligned with the Republicans; I haven't forgotten that they were willing to take the nation to the brink of default in order to make political points off Obama.
It's time to start the (bloodless) revolution: don't vote for any candidate because he's affiliated with a party. Vote solely because the candidate has a philosophy, and is willing to buck the establishment in pursuit of it, a philosophy that you like. Definitely no TEA Party, either. Independents, hopefully? The party system has dragged the nation very close to ruin.
Taxation for individuals and corporations must be reformed from top to bottom; no favored status for those who contribute the most to candidates (call it bribery, because it is; they only bribe those who will vote their agenda), no special loopholes/exemptions from investment income and such. Tax everything imported to the point that it's more expensive than what's domestically produced. No taxes, no access to the American market. Simple. Make imports something that happens because of better quality, not lower prices. Tax corporations in this country at the international average so that they aren't encouraged to move offshore, a rate of about 18-20%. The taxes on imports, call it a gross-receipts tax so that there are fewer loopholes, will make up for that. No more fleet MPG average; start taxing motor fuels. Add an immediate $.25 tax this year, add another next year, another quarter the year after, and in four years you'd have added only $1, less than went to speculators when the last gas runup happened. Meantime, the idea of constant higher prices would discourage fuel use and encourage economy, encourage electric cars and provide incentive to invest in battery research, and provide income to the government.
If I can come up with these ideas, why can't anyone in DC? Maybe Obama is getting his advisors and secretaries from the wrong place, Wall St. Bankers and traders have a mentality where they feel entitled to your money and don't worry overmuch about whether they return value for that money, as exemplified by adding monthly fees to users to make up for losing the exorbitant overdraft fees. The foxes are in control of the henhouse; or perhaps the inmates are now running the asylum.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by tovangar2Aug 30 2011 - 2:07pm."But I cannot vote for anyone aligned with the Republicans; I haven't forgotten that they were willing to take the nation to the brink of default in order to make political points off Obama."
That was a Dem/Repug charade to panic the public into accepting the Debt Deal/Super Committee. Obama was totally in on that. He co-planned that. He could have invoked the 14th Amendment, but didn't. He had already told the bond holders he wouldn't default. Even the default date was phony. They said it was 2 Aug just so Congress could go on vacation on time. Please wake up. It's not the clowns that are the problem, it's the whole damned circus.
Please do not cooperate with this corrupt system. The people's will to resist is the most powerful tool we have. We are many, they are few.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by dwyerj1Aug 30 2011 - 2:14pm.F*** "stand a chance"! People must stop allowing themselves to fall for the most illogical of fallacies! The "fatal alternative" is no excuse for voting against one's conscience. Do not vote for a candidate you _know_ is a charlatan and an evil person (even in sheep's clothing). Vote your conscience. Vote with a write-in for your mother-in-law. But never vote for a liar, a perfidious, treacherous, weak-spined Judas.
Do not vote for that fatal alternative. Write in someone whom you admire. But utterly refuse to put your vote into backing someone you know is wrong.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by JMALHAug 31 2011 - 4:24am.Agree! Most probably there will not be anyone on the ballot for president who is even 1% worthy of the office. Write in someone you admire!
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by bogi666Aug 31 2011 - 10:18am.The requisites for being nominated for the presidency does not require integrity or dignity. It requires being a socio-psychopath.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by peacemakerAug 30 2011 - 10:13am.Betrayal we can believe in.
The author describes the hopes many or most of us had when we held our noses and voted for The Tom in 2008. But now, the same group has been kicked in the balls by The Tom. There is no illusion of hope left. Not even a crumb.
So, who is the "Default Write-In Candidate?" (DWIC)
Mr. Nader has stated that he doesn't want to run again, and I can't blame him. But there is no way in hell that I will ever vote for the uniparty again. Let's choose someone and agree to vote for him/her in 2012. It may not matter much whether the chosen DWIC wants the job or is even still alive. My write-in DWIC vote simply says, "I'm mad as hell, and I won't take it anymore."
Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bill Moyer, Amy Goodman, Cornel West, Glenn Greenwald, Marisa Tomei, . . . Doonesbury, . . .
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by pjd412Aug 30 2011 - 10:28am.We need a forceful-populist-progressive in the model of Huey Long, Nestor Kirchner or even Hugo Chavez. The existing US politician who fits this model the best is Alan Grayson, but he is already running to re-take his Florida congressional seat in 2012.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by RVingRetireeAug 30 2011 - 1:05pm.Part of the Right's strategy is to mimic Germany, 1932, working for bad economic conditions their people can harness to get a fake rightist "populist" into office with expanded powers to deal with the crisis. Think "Enabling Act" ...
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by awesomeAug 30 2011 - 10:20am.Republican Pres., three steps backward, Democratic Pres., two steps backbard, so I guess we save a step. What a farce.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by AtomskAug 30 2011 - 4:25pm.Not quite. To murder you metaphor, imagine that the Democrat side stands behind the Republican side - they can go back more steps than the Republicans because no one is standing behind their backs pretending to want to slow the backwards walk :-)
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by Greg RAug 30 2011 - 10:20am." Obama is morphing into Herbert Hoover." Hoover was actually a more dynamic leader than Obama when Hoover was Obama's age. However, when Hoover was president his ideology constrained him in ways which left him impotent. Obama, in his middle-of-the-roadness, has forged his own impotence.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by iowapinkoAug 30 2011 - 10:20am.As I read Schechter's description of his infatuation with the Obaaamabrand tm, I realize that if true salvation is to arise in human form, it will manifest as a force that is the polar opposite of Obaaamatm.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by readytotransformAug 30 2011 - 11:24am.Hi there iowapinko!
I would say we need to realize that no one is coming to 'save' us. Never has happened. That is a fairy tail/belief of major proportions. In fact, until that assumption is rooted out of mass consciousness, i don't think much is going to change on this planet.
That is what i see as being the polar opposite of Obamaism - not waiting for someone to resuce us.
Hope you are well,
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by DemonstormAug 30 2011 - 11:52am.That is the way I see it, as well. Our government has changed from FDR's time from a quasi-democracy into a full-blown Plutocracy today. NO president can change the Beast. NO president has the power to overcome the moneyed corporatocracy that rules Amereicha and Washington. Both chambers of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, the White House, and every single agency and sub-agency and sub-sub-sub-sub agency is beholden to the moneyed interests. PERIOD. That kind of system cannot be defeated by a single man, even if he is President of the U.S.
Time to stop putting so much adoration and worship and awe and "hope" into the office of the President every 4 years. It is a 100% bought and paid for position, regardless of which man or woman steps into those shoes. Only a corporate whore can be pre-vetted for even a chance to be on the ticket in the first place, for starters, but even if a rogue slipped through somehow, he/she would soon find themselves on their knees before the corporate overlords that run everything in this country, gagging and reaching for tissues, or outright assassinated if they didn't play ball.
Any hope and true change will need to come from we the people, not in the polling booths.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by tovangar2Aug 30 2011 - 2:41pm.Vote with your feet, Vote with your streets
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by BeForKidsAug 30 2011 - 5:46pm.Demonstorm, you left out the Fourth Estate, which has become the Fifth Column.
Until we the people get that, there will be no change.
In the 1960s the rallying cry was "Don't trust anyone over 30". Now it needs to be "Don't trust millionaires". We used to have "news anchors". Now we have "news personalities". And they are all millionaires.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by iowapinkoAug 30 2011 - 6:17pm.Hi Rita,
Good to see you around, seems like its been a while...
Yes, I agree completely, that's why I used the term "a force" instead of a person. Our salvation will arise from our transformation/activation as a community I guess I didn't express my thoughts very well, sorry.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by readytotransformAug 30 2011 - 11:15pm.I actually haven't been around as much, and yes, there was a 'while'... ;-)
It is good to 'see' you again as well!
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by Stephen V. RileyAug 30 2011 - 10:27am.So let's get ready for the surge of ever so smart CD posters who knew Obama was a phony from the very beginning,
The most powerful message pissed off democrats can send to America is to vote the socialist ticket in 2012.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by pjd412Aug 30 2011 - 10:36am.Unfortunately, Pennsylvania's, and many other state's corrupt and arduous ballot-access rules are such that getting a SP-USA candidate on the ballot is very difficult. With the exception of when Nader ran on their ticket, even the PA Greens have never succeeded in getting a statewide candidate on the ballot.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by AmerangloAug 30 2011 - 10:55am.In reddest Oklahoma there's not a chance in hell of getting a 3rd party on the ballot:
From Wiki
"Oklahoma: A party is defined either as a group that polled 10% for the office at the top of the ticket in the last election (i.e., president or governor), or that submits a petition signed by voters equal to 5% of the last vote cast for the office at the top of the ticket. An independent presidential candidate, or the presidential candidate of an unqualified party, may get on the ballot with a petition of 3% of the last presidential vote. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation in which an independent presidential candidate, or the presidential candidate of a new or previously unqualified party, needs support from more than 2% of the last vote cast to get on the ballot"
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by tovangar2Aug 30 2011 - 1:54pm.Does OK allow write-ins?
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by actualleftistAug 30 2011 - 2:33pm.I'm a PA Green and THAT IS NOT TRUE.
The Greens have had MANY statewide candidates on the ballot, from president to PA Attorney General - I think I've voted for Marakay Rogers ON THE BALLOT for the latter at least twice. What state do you live in? If it's PA you must not have been here long...
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by cicero_confusedAug 30 2011 - 4:16pm.my guess is that the reference was only to presidential elections
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by cicero_confusedAug 30 2011 - 10:44am.I guess I would be one of those "smart" posters you are referring to.
In reality it didn't take any smarts to figure out Obama was a fake. All one had to do was to observe who was the highest recipient of campaign contributions from Wall Street among Democratic primary contenders. I looked it up and saw that Obama was that person (and Hillary was a close second).
I voted happily for him so that he would be president, then go on to predictably disappoint millions and millions of people, and later give me ammunition, when I debate mainstream liberals, for making the case that voting Democrat is a waste of time, and that we better get busy creating one or more third parties, and a more vibrant political culture along the way. I see the Obama presidency as an important step to waking up more people, and that is needed for the long term effort of broadening our politics. The two-party paradigm is suffocating, and outright dangerous to the health of the Republic.
I enjoyed the article but found it pathetic that the author commits to voting for Obama again. Truly pathetic, and toxic too. Basically he is starting the Democratic Party groundwork of insinuating that even though you are totally disappointed with Obama, voting for him again is the right thing to do. Yeah right; good try.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by Franciszek2Aug 31 2011 - 7:55pm.I enjoyed the article too, but I'm not so sure Schechter committed to voting for Obama again. It sounded to me like he was lamenting over the fact that many progressives will undoubtedly turn back to Obama is 2012. I'm not sure that he was saying that he would be one of them, or that he was endorsing lesser-evilism at all.
I agree that O's presidency has done a lot to open people's eyes to the completely fraudulent two-party system. I wonder if doubling down on O in 2012 would further help to dispel the illusion. Maybe. But he's going to have to do it without my vote this time.
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by readytotransformAug 30 2011 - 11:22am.Uh oh, would that include..................me. ;-)
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by abvodvarka@yahoo.comAug 30 2011 - 10:22am.Darn, Danny Schechter, I thought you were sharper than this. Forgive me if I say that a couple of months into Obama's campaign it was absolutely clear that he was "corrupt, aligned and complicit". It was common knowledge that Wall street was his biggest campaign donor. You're a man of words, Mr. Schechter, couldn't you hear that he was saying next to nothing in those torrents of touchy-feely oratory? And once he had won the election and was making his appointments and left exactly the same people in the Treasury and Pentagon as engineered the disasters of the Bush regeme, it was absolutely clear that he was a Republican Trojan Horse. Hate to say it but Obama was a transparent fraud from the very beginning. As H.L. Mencken said, "No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American People".
Tony Vodvarka
.Login or register to post comments...Posted by mtdonAug 30 2011 - 10:22am.Obama won the 2008 election by Expanding the number of voters who turned out and actually voted.
Many of these were 1st time voters who actually bought into the PR campaign that Obama Was Different - These same people now know it was BS.
They stayed home in 2010 - and they stayed home during the Wisconsin recall elections.
My guess is there is a good chance they Will Not Vote Again -
Empire Wins Again.
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