Monday, December 11, 2006
By Joe Mowrey
The United States' most plentiful and seemingly inexhaustible national resource is collective denial. I have an acquaintance whose son, a senior in college (not high school mind you, but college) only recently found out about global warming. Another acquaintance, when asked what she thought of the war in Afghanistan said, "Oh, I didn't know we were still at war there." Show the average soccer Mom (or Dad) a picture of a dead Iraqi baby and their likely response will be to head for the nearest mall to do some serious therapeutic shopping. If only we could fuel our SUVs with willful ignorance we might be able to quit marauding around the globe in search of other people's oil.
Some forty years ago our corporately controlled government instigated an illegal war of aggression in Vietnam. In the last five years, having learned nothing from our own forgotten history, we have allowed a similar cabal to launch major wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, there were many brutal imperialist transgressions in the years in between. Add to these facts our refusal to acknowledge what is arguably one of the most damaging foreign policy commitments of our time, the United States' unquestioning support of Israel's colonization of Palestine, and the pattern is clear. We have an overwhelming willingness as a nation to ignore the immoral actions of our ruling class and a disastrous ability to deny the consequences of those actions.
The recent feel-good moment of an end to the Republican domination of Congress has resulted in victory parties and backslapping the likes of which we haven't seen since Clinton defeated Papa Bush. The results are going to be just as illusory in the long run. The glow of economic prosperity in the 90s facilitated, while at the same time obscured, the rise to prominence of the more overt corporate wing of the Democratic Party. The conservative revolution may have suffered a temporary setback but the smiling face of fascism (originally defined by Benito Mussolini as the partnership between government and corporations) continued to shine. Different corporate lackeys, similar agenda. Meanwhile the American people stocked up on gas-guzzling mini-vans and large screen TVs. Our "gimme gimme, more more" culture of denial always manages to thrive.
The image of Democrats with subpoena power has progressives drooling over the prospect of accountability in government, while they remain conveniently oblivious to the fact that corporate lobbyists have already begun to redeploy. Defense industry shills have been in bed with both parties for so long they won't even need to change the sheets. According to The New York Times, at a recent strategy session of drug company lobbyists in Washington D.C. there was much hand wringing and consternation about the future of the most profitable industry in the world: legalized drugs. It comes as no surprise that a major biotechnology firm has already hired as a lobbyist George Crawford, a former chief of staff for Representative Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House. The pharmaceutical giant Merck hired Peter Rubin, a former aide to Democratic Representative Jim McDermott of Washington state. There is certain to be enough graft and corruption to keep the Democratic Party's troughs full, and no shortage of swine to belly up to them.
Empty rhetoric about enabling Medicare to negotiate drug prices is one of the latest sound bites that assuages progressives. Yippee! Future drug company lobbyists currently working for the government will be able to negotiate cheaper prices for those overpriced and often unnecessary drugs the pharmaceutical industry hawks to us. Not that this will help the average working stiff. National health care? Democrats won't take that one on anytime soon. But they'll be more than willing to engage in back room negotiations with insurance industry representatives. Corporate money may change pockets; it will never stop changing hands.
The brief sigh of national relief we allowed ourselves when the carnage in Vietnam finally bled itself out may have been mildly cathartic, but it was premature. There were many more episodes of aggression yet to air in the lead up to the imperialist insanity we are now witnessing in Iraq. And you won't want to miss next season's thrilling premiere, "Attack on Iran." Yet the root causes of the mayhem we unleashed in Southeast Asia, the specter of American imperialism and corporate hegemony, went unaddressed in the rush to put the human costs of that nightmare behind us. We didn't even attempt to treat the disease, preferring instead to mask our symptoms with the flowery rhetoric of denial. We put a large portion of Vietnam veterans out into the streets to become an army of invisible homeless.
For civilians, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. became a silent repository for the anguish and sorrow of a generation intent on ignoring the reasons why those names are etched in granite in the first place. It would have been a more constructive national monument if instead of the names of the dead it had the words of journalist I.F. Stone chiseled into it 58,195 times: "Governments lie." The families of the deceased might have benefited more in the long run from making tracings of that message of truth to take home and frame on their living room walls.
Then there is the giant elephant in the Middle East: Israel, the Jewish state. Even within the anti-war movement the mantra of Israel's right to defend itself rolls blithely off the tongue in complete abandonment of any notion of human rights or social justice for the Palestinian people. Few care to admit that until Israel is compelled to mete out racially impartial justice to the Palestinians whose lands they have colonized and occupied for the last sixty years (with our full support and encouragement) there will be no peace in the Middle East.
Israel's illegal colonization of the West Bank, those infamous "facts on the ground" that Zionists hoped would make the establishment of an independent Palestinian state an impossibility, have succeeded. Israel has created a brutal system of apartheid in Palestine that ultimately may bring about an end to the misguided dream of a Jewish state. The final outcome is liable to be modeled on the South African example instead. The "Promised Land" could become one Palestinian state governed by a Palestinian majority that with any luck will be more beneficent than their Jewish counterparts. Jews might one day find in the lands of their biblical forebears a refuge from centuries of persecution. The irony would be if it is the Palestinian people they have to depend on to provide them that refuge.
But all other policy considerations aside, the real tragedy concerning Israel is the willingness of its supporters to deny that Zionism is a morally bankrupt ideology with blatant racism at its core. The Nazis claimed to have been the "superior race." How is that statement anything but an echo of the Jews' claim to be "God's chosen people?" What then does God choose for the Palestinians: ethnocide and oppression in a series of bantustan-like ghettos? The reality is that any solution to the conflict in Palestine which leaves a Zionist nation in its wake will be little more than a temporary accommodation. Israel as a Jewish state will remain a ticking time bomb of racial intolerance waiting to explode. Eventually it will have to be disarmed.
Likewise, any attempted solution to the problem of America's rampaging foreign policy, say in the guise of the election of Democrats instead of Republicans, which leaves a corporate-dominated (read that as "fascist") state behind will do little more than shuffle the reigns of power. As long as corporate rights trump human rights and the military industrial complex holds sway over national and international policy, the United States' wars of aggression, both over and covert, will continue unabated around the globe.
Tune your radio to the local classic rock station (most likely owned by Clear Channel) and listen to some old-time rock n roll. It won't be long before you hear Peter Townsend wailing over the strains of a loud guitar, "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss," and "... pray we don't get fooled again." But it's not a matter of us being fooled. It's a matter of us closing our eyes. The catastrophic results of imperialism, fascism and racism are all around us. We just choose to ignore them.
The good news is, though it may sound naively optimistic, I believe a tradition of dissent is a resource that is also in no short supply in the United States, along with a dormant seed of revolutionary zeal. We are an independent and ornery bunch who don't like to be told what to do. We will remain complacent in our denial up to a point. But once our dissatisfaction with the status quo reaches a critical mass, finding a few million of us willing to show up in Washington D.C. to take back our government, peacefully and nonviolently, won't be difficult. Resistance is as much a part of our cultural mythology as is 'truth, justice and the American way."
The American dream, in all its various philosophical incarnations, is not so much a failed ideology as it is an illusory history that has never actually been implemented. The concept of an egalitarian nation serving as a beacon for the world rather than the predatory corporate plutocracy we have become has a certain appeal. Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western Civilization answered, "I think it would be an excellent idea." Maybe we should give that notion a try.
Joe Mowrey is a peace and social justice activist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
"Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind," wrote George Orwell in his prescient essay "Politics and the English Language."
Beset as we Americans are by a misguided war, errant governance, unaddressed environmental threats and growing social injustice, it is perhaps easy to downplay the importance of language in solving our problems in a rationale manner.
While Orwell became familiar with the manipulation and corruption of language through the fascist and communist movements of the 1930s, he would most certainly be discouraged by the degree to which mutant parlance has advanced since he wrote his celebrated essay 50 years ago. Borrowing from the commercial advertisers and PR "consultants," politicians now spin, distort and lie to sell themselves with ever greater impunity, creating deceptive virtual worlds of pseudo reality in the process.
In the last few years, the wanton corruption of the meaning of words in political discourse has reached a perilous point where it is difficult to take the utterance of any public figure at face value. The Bush administration's tortured defense of the Iraq war effort leading up to the congressional elections could serve as Exhibit A.
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity," Orwell continued. "When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were to long words or exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink."
Orwell was not the first historical figure to point out how, when a people lose control of their language, they may also lose control of their destiny.
In observing the downfall of Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars, Thucydides described a similar decline: "To fit in with the change of events, words too had to change," he wrote as Athens launched the misbegotten Sicilian campaign that led to its downfall.
"What used to be described as thoughtless acts of aggression was now regarded as the courage that one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was taken to be just an attempt to disguise one's unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides was taken to mean that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was taken as the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was viewed perfectly legitimate self-defense. ... Indeed, most people were more willing to call villainy rather than cleverness simple-minded honesty. They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the latter."
The avalanche of corrupted and abused language and sophistry that has been generated by the Bush administration and the Republican Party has become our contemporary "cuttlefish ink." Consider the following terms born out of the Iraq War:
Camp Victory: The name of the huge U.S. military base at Baghdad International Airport might now be more accurately described as Camp Defeat.
Extraordinary renditions: A banality that hides the repugnant reality that allows suspects to be kidnapped, spirited abroad, interrogated and even tortured in a foreign country without any due process.
Information extraction: A euphemism that has come to be synonymous with the torturing of suspects into giving confessions.
Waterboarding: A term that while it seems to be describing some harmless recreation sport -- perhaps a cross between skateboarding and surfing -- is actually a cruel and unusual form of punishment.
The Healthy Forests Restoration Act: The name of a piece of legislation that was in large part an invitation for the wood products timber industry to exploit the nation's forestlands.
Clear Skies legislation: A law that was actually a watered-down substitute for a different piece of legislation that would have gone much further in limiting dangerous levels of acid and mercury emissions from power plants.
With regularity, such reassuringly positive-sounding names have often been deceptively used to make their darker purposes more palatable so that the real situation is obscured by a linguistic misnomer calculated to confuse the public.
And then, of course, there is the bait-and-switch ruse of renaming things in such high-speed, serial fashion that finally the public grows so utterly confused and bewildered that cynicism about language is the only plausible reaction. Recently, "benchmarks" for determining progress in Iraq have become "timetables" and "milestones," even as the Bush administration denies that any such measures -- or pressures -- were being imposed by the United States on the so-called Iraqi government.
Indeed, so far out of alignment with any reasonable interpretation of reality has Bush administration language become that it is almost as if we as citizens were now forced to live in two parallel universes, one real and one delusional.
As words have lost their descriptive power, we have suffered a break in the normative order. Our whole process of describing, thinking, discussing and acting has been corrupted at its source. Indeed, it is hard to know how to break out of this self-perpetuating feedback loop characterized by spin and deception so that political discourse actually conveys truth and meaning.
"If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought," Orwell continued. "To think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers."
So advanced is the degradation of language into artifice, and so confused have so many people become over the verbal deception heaped on them by political leaders, that if our republic is to survive, it is a truly urgent matter that an antidote be found.
When a disciple asked Confucius, an itinerant philosopher of the sixth century B.C., what he would do first if a king were to entrust him with a kingdom, he did not hesitate to say: "My first task would be to rectify the names." Explaining what he meant to his perplexed disciple, he said: "If the names are not correct and do not match realities, language has no object. If language has no object, action becomes impossible -- and therefore all human affairs disintegrate."
One perhaps hopes, doubtless in vain, that our leaders might consult the works of the great Chinese sage on the need for language and reality to be in sync, read Thucydidices about how Athenian democracy fell, or allow themselves to be reminded by George Orwell that the debasement of language is the equivalent of encouraging mutations in the basic building blocks of life to occur.
The warnings are there, if we care to heed them, that when a country's democratic leaders lose the ability to describe reality accurately and in a believable way, its people become handicapped in their quest to understand and solve their problems.
Orville Schell is dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. Contact us at email@example.com.
Two influential federal advisory groups have added their voices to an emerging national consensus that voting machines must produce a voter-verified paper record if they are to be trusted. One of those groups, the one dominated not by scientists but by election officials, was more grudging than it should have been. But their analyses should give further support to members of Congress who plan to push next month for a strong federal law requiring voter-verified paper records.
More than half of the states now have laws requiring electronic voting machines to produce paper records that voters can review to ensure that their votes were correctly recorded. Voters understand that without this paper, there is no way of knowing if the software registered their choices incorrectly, either by accident or by design.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency that promotes good standards in everything from medical devices to smoke detectors, recently concluded that paperless electronic voting is unacceptable. The agency’s scientists said that for electronic voting to be trustworthy, it must be “software independent,” meaning there has to be a means apart from the machines’ own software to prove that the vote tallies are correct.
The obvious way to do this is a voter-verified paper record. The institute allowed that there could be other ways, like a video or audio record of votes cast, but those technologies remain unproven.
December 11, 2006
'PERSUASION involves both incentives and penalties," Henry Kissinger once remarked. "So there is an element of implied coercion." Last week saw the publication of a masterpiece of persuasion. But whom will it persuade? And with what sticks and carrots?
Most commentators have interpreted the report of the Iraq Study Group as a well-crafted admission of defeat. Predictably, that was exactly how President Bush himself reacted to it. "I … believe we're going to succeed," he told reporters Thursday. "One way to assure failure is just to quit." Addressing one of the report's key recommendations, he bluntly declared that Iran and Syria "shouldn't bother to show up" for negotiations about Iraq if they don't understand their "responsibilities to not fund terrorists" and if the Iranians don't "verifiably suspend their [uranium] enrichment program."
Yet anyone who bothers to read the report carefully — as opposed to skimming the executive summary — can see that it neither proposes "quitting" Iraq nor pins serious hope on Iranian or Syrian assistance. Quite the reverse.
Persuasion in the realm of grand strategy is more a matter of rhetorical art than science. The first essential step is to identify your target audience. Most readers of the report assume that it is directed at Bush. That is wrong. Its principal target audience is Congress, and particularly the new Democratic majorities in both houses. And the aim is not to persuade a stubborn president to admit defeat. Rather, the report's aim is to convince legislators that withdrawal from Iraq — no matter how much their constituents may yearn for it — is not an option. The report's other intended readership is Arab governments throughout the Middle East. The message for them is the same: A U.S. exit from the region is what you most have to fear.
The second step in the process of persuasion is to conjure up a nightmare vision of the future if the action you envisage is not taken. The worst-case scenario proposed by the Iraq Study Group is the one about which I have been writing since February: "Sectarian warfare, growing violence or a slide toward chaos," leading to "the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe." Here are the report's most important lines: "Neighboring countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread … across the Islamic world. [There could be] Shia insurrections — perhaps fomented by Iran — in Sunni-ruled states. Such a broader sectarian conflict could open a Pandora's box of problems."
The consequences would be much more than a propaganda victory for Al Qaeda and a humiliation for the United States, which is what they worry about on Capitol Hill. In such a conflagration, no Mideast government — with the exception of the fundamentalist Shiite regime in Tehran — could feel secure. And that is precisely why Arab rulers should dread an American exit.
Step 3 in the art of persuasion is to propose remedies that sound attractive to your target audience. These the Iraq Study Group has certainly produced — in profusion. But you need to read the small print of all 79 recommendations. Consider the long-anticipated "diplomatic offensive to build an international consensus for stability in Iraq and the region," involving Iran, a reviled member of Bush's "axis of evil," as well as Syria, no friend of the U.S.
"A nation can and should engage its adversaries and enemies," declares the report (in a sentence that Co-Chairman James A. Baker III must surely have written) and should offer them "incentives as well as disincentives." Note that word "disincentives." Baker's idea here is not to go cap in hand to Damascus and Tehran. Rather, as he explained to the media last week, it is to "flip the Syrians" by appealing to Sunni solidarity, and to isolate the Iranian regime by exposing its "rejectionist attitude." In other words: Get the leaders of all Iraq's neighbors into the same room and play "spot the Shiites."
Now let's read the small print on troop withdrawals. "By the first quarter of 2008," the report says, "all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq." This has been widely interpreted as the first step toward the exit. It says "out of Iraq," right?
Wrong. Look more closely at some of the report's other recommendations:
• The number of U.S. military personnel "embedded" in Iraqi army battalions and brigades should be increased from 3,000 or 4,000 to between 10,000 to 20,000.
• The number of U.S. police trainers should be expanded.
• The U.S. Department of Justice should lead the work of organizational transformation in the Interior Ministry.
• A senior advisor for economic reconstruction in Iraq is required.
• The U.S. State Department should train personnel to carry out civilian tasks associated with a complex stability operation; it should establish a Foreign Service Reserve Corps.
Does that sound like "out of Iraq" to you? I'd say it sounds more like "stay in Iraq" — only this time, let's not screw it up.
The media have fixated on the possibility of a quantitative reduction in U.S. troops — which is in any case conditional on there being no "unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground" — while missing the underlying argument for qualitative improvement.
Hats off, then, to Baker and his team. This turns out to be a classic work of persuasion. Its target audiences have been well chosen. Its worst-case scenario is plausible. And its recommendations are so carefully phrased that they sound like disengagement while actually signifying better engagement.
It is certainly not the exit strategy Americans want. But it might just help avoid a Middle Eastern Armageddon.
|Former President Talks About his Controversial New Book, ‘Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid’|
|By Kane Farabaugh |
11 December 2006
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The recent report of the Iraq Study Group says the Israeli-Palestinian issue is key to greater peace in the Middle East. That search for peace was a hallmark of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's administration in the late 1970s.
It was a moment that defined President Jimmy Carter's foreign policy initiatives: the Camp David accords that brought peace between Egypt and Israel in 1979.
Th accords also outlined ways to achieve a Palestinian state and further peace in the region; something President Carter says has evaporated in recent years.
"In the last six years, since Bill Clinton left office, there hasn't been one single day of negotiations or peace effort made between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” said Mr. Carter. “And the whole world, particularly the Muslim world, feels that the United States has taken a completely biased attitude towards circumstances and do not and does not care as a government about what happens to the Palestinians."
The charge the Bush administration has not done enough to foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians was disputed by President Bush Thursday during a news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In response to a reporter, President Bush restated his commitment to a two-state solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Our secretary of state [Condoleezza Rice] is very much engaged in this issue. She works hard on the issue,” said Mr. Bush. “And as much as we'd like to impose the settlement, it's important for you to understand, sir, that the Israelis and the Palestinians must accept responsibility and must sign off on an agreement."
Concern about the Palestinian issue is the driving force behind President Carter's latest book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," his 21st published work. He says the books give him a voice on important issues. "The main thing they do for me in a very controversial arena like Palestine, is to give me a forum to discuss that situation and maybe to bring it to the attention of readers and listeners and viewers of this program that I wouldn't otherwise have."
But this book has ignited controversy for the use of the word "apartheid" in the title. President Carter feels the term accurately reflects the way Israel treats the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
Israel has refused to negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian government because of its refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence. The Israeli government has also stated it has a right to defend itself against Palestinian rocket and terror attacks.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, has weighed in on the book, and says President Carter "abandons all objectivity and unabashedly acts as a virtual spokesman for the Palestinian cause."
Mr. Carter answered that charge. "They are horribly persecuted by the Israelis to deprive them of their basic human rights and this is a fact that is not known and is not debated in this country. In Israel it is debated intensely every day. In Europe and in other parts of the world the whole issue is known and understood and at least discussed. In the United States, this discussion is almost completely absent, and that is why I wrote this book."
This book is also in the spotlight for other reasons. Emory University professor and Middle East scholar Kenneth Stein resigned his position as a fellow at The Carter Center in Atlanta over the book, reportedly accusing Carter of plagiarism and factual omissions.
Amid the controversies, Carter explains his book outlines the plight of the Palestinians since the founding of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, through the current conflict in Lebanon this summer.
President Carter has long advocated Israel's right to exist in the Middle East. But he is also an outspoken critic of the recently constructed wall that now separates parts of Israel and the West Bank. He says numerous trips throughout the region have led him to the conclusion that most Israelis favor a withdrawal from Palestinian territory in exchange for a lasting peace.
"Over a period of time though, because a minority of Israeli leaders have wanted to take and hold Palestinian land, that peace effort has been subverted."
In "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," Carter says the United States, along with Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union, must implement the Bush administration's so-called "Roadmap for Peace."
Former President Carter, now 82, is determined to continue making an impact on the world stage in the cause of peace. He plans to write two more books to be released next year.
by Michael C. Tuggle
In Friday's FrontPageMag feature, Jamie Glazov interviews Robert Kagan. Kagan is a well-known Neocon writer and courageous advocate of sending Americans off to fight wars he supports.
The title of Glazov's interview with Kagan says it all: America and Empire. In the interview, Kagan argues that America was founded on universal principles so noble and inspiring that they propelled Americans to ignore George Washington's advice in his famous Farewell Address:
"The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible."
The reason Washington urged his countrymen to avoid these connections was simple: to avoid Europe's wars, which would only harm our republican principles:
"Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."
Wrong, says Kagan. America was not meant to be a peaceful republic, but an ideological empire with the mission of transforming the world:
"And from the Revolution until today, Americans have been ideological expansionists, driven by the universal principles of the Declaration of Independence. They have sought to transform the world, or at least as much of the world as they had the power to transform, to conform with American principles, ideals, as well as American interests."
America, then, is really an empire. Not just any old empire, mind you, but an idealistic empire driven by the burning desire to spread democracy. Kagan's view of the Spanish-American War of 1898, for example, is that it wasn't fought for selfish reasons, as critics charge, but "was almost entirely fought for humanitarian and moral ends." Well, of course. Tell that to the 600,000 Filipinos who died resisting US occupation.
And what does Kagan say to those who point out that it was the US that first intervened in the Middle East, thereby inciting Muslim hatred against us? Nonsense, he says:
"Now, when critics of American foreign policy point out that American actions in the Middle East helped spur Osama Bin Laden to action, they usually mean to suggest that the United States should stop acting in ways that offend Islamists. I would argue that:
(a) we should not stop attempting to spread our principles and our influence
(b) we could not stop it even if we wanted to, because ideological expansionism is embedded in the American DNA."
Maybe George Bush can use that defense at his war crimes trial. "I couldn't stop myself! My DNA made me do it!"
And for those delicate American souls who might feel a twinge of guilt for the mayhem and destruction their tax dollars fund, well, the important thing to remember is that bloodying the world for its own good is just a thing we do, even remember is that bloodying the world for its own good is just a thing we do, even when we're not aware of it – after all, it is in our DNA. Americans are so democracy-driven, we can't help ourselves, and if it appears we're a tad careless while tossing our bombs, we should just ignore those who don't appreciate us for what we are – ravenous zombies of liberation:
"What I would suggest is that Americans stop letting themselves be surprised by the reactions they, often unconsciously, provoke in others."
December 11, 2006
Michael C. Tuggle [send him mail] is a writer and activist living in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Copyright © 2006 LewRockwell.com
Rush Limbaugh Crosses the Line
by Roy Perdue
Though it has been several years since I degraded my intelligence so far as to listen to the Rush Limbaugh show, it was brought to my attention (by a friend from Alabama) last night that Limbaugh has finally crossed the line. Apparently Rush was on another of his many rants about how great Abraham Lincoln was, and how wrong the South was in the conflict commonly called the American Civil War. I listened to Limbaugh a great deal in the late 1990s and up until about 2002. I finally became fed up with his bobble-head attitude that every thing that Bush and the GOP do is holy. Limbaugh has on numerous occasions claimed that those that expose the corruption in the GOP are liberals and working for the Democrats. As John Stossel would say, "Give me a break!" Limbaugh has also stated many times that he would like to see America be taken over by a "conservative" dictatorship, even going so far as to say that he could straighten out the country within two years if he were named the dictator! Not likely El Rushbo.
While the world’s most lovable moron was spouting his claims that Lincoln was the greatest leader of mankind, one patriot from Louisiana had had enough, and called Limbaugh on his idiocy. The transcript is available online at RushLimbaugh.com. Limbaugh has kept up his long-standing habit of labeling anyone who disagrees with him as being a "Kook." He places a wide swath of people in this category including, but not limited to: socialists, communists, liberal Democrats, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, people who believe the Southern version of history and Fundamental Christians (the biggest "kooks" of all). The transcript to this conversation was placed in the "From Across The Fruited Plain" category of Limbaugh’s website, and is entitled "Confederate Kook Still Smarts Under Civil War ‘Occupation’." How noble of the lovable little hairball, I mean fur ball! Name-calling is never too low for the great man behind the golden microphone.
The patriot from Louisiana immediately called into question Limbaugh’s blatant disregard for the Constitution by praising Lincoln’s tactics in the so-called Civil War. Limbaugh was quick to point out that the Constitution was not, and probably is not, important, that the preservation of the union was. I find that interesting. A man, who claims to love freedom and independence, would rather have a despotic empire as long as the "union" is still intact. When Limbaugh was asked again about the Constitution, he conveniently avoided the question, and like a politician, replied with his own question, not on the same topic of course.
Later in the call Rush began to sing Lincoln’s praises once more. Limbaugh even said that Lincoln did some things that he wished Bush would do. Like suspending the writ of habeas corpus, running people out of the country that are opposed to Bush’s policies and wars, and arresting those civilians. Sounds more like El Rushbo is a Nazi to me. Lincoln arrested people in the middle of the night, held them in prison without charge or cause, and never brought them to trial – all so that he could get his way of "preserving the Union." Anyone who thinks that Lincoln was a great president, and the hero of America needs to read Thomas DiLorenzo’s book, The Real Lincoln, and find out the truth about the "Great Emancipator." Lincoln’s Gestapo tactics were reminiscent of King George III, whose tyranny Americans had desperately sought to avoid.
Rush Limbaugh has finally crossed the line that should be visible to all Americans, especially Southerners. He is no friend of freedom, liberty, the Constitution or the Bill of Rights! He is fan of tyrants, and a lover of despotism, and should be treated as such. Fellow patriots: whether the intentions are good or not, a dictatorship is still wrong, and always brings tyranny.
Below is the transcript: "Confederate Kook Still Smarts Under Civil War Occupation," 12/04/06, rushlimbaugh.com.
December 4, 2006
RUSH: John in Shreveport, Louisiana. Hello.
CALLER: Mr. Rush, don't you think you're being a hypocrite when you're not – when you don't want the Iraqis to decide the problems themselves, especially since Abraham Lincoln took two – two generals named Lincoln [sic –Grant] and Sherman who were responsible for the deaths of 59,000 southern people? And since you hate Confederate heritage that much, don't you think that we should allow the people of Iraq to decide their own fate?
RUSH: (Laughing.) Gee. I hate Confederate heritage?
CALLER: No kidding.
RUSH: On the basis of what do you say that?
CALLER: Okay, allow me to quote you from 2001: "The American Civil War was the first conflict in human history to set a people free from the bondage of slavery." Your quote, sir.
CALLER: And that's not –
RUSH: Well, the point is, we fought –
CALLER: – power –
RUSH: Are we going to have this argument, Steve?
CALLER: Yes, sir, we are, if you've got the nerve to hold it!
RUSH: I'll have this argument with you any time you want. I've been hearing from you guys since I started this show. I know, it's about states' rights, it was about freedom; it was about independence. But it was about preserving the union – and Abraham Lincoln knew that you couldn't preserve an America with the institutions defined by our Constitution if one man was allowed to own another.
CALLER: Well, you could not preserve the Constitution as long as you could override it by military power and invasion.
RUSH: Well, there was the preservation of the union that was the number one –
CALLER: How about the preservation of the Constitution, shouldn't that be predominant?
RUSH: Look, you still want to secede? What's your solution?
CALLER: We have no choice, we're under occupation now. The thing about it is you still have to lie about Abraham Lincoln to prove your, to make your point.
RUSH: I'm not lying about Abraham Lincoln. What do you mean, you're still under occupation?
CALLER: Put it this way. The South was not allowed to vote its own way; we're not going to allow Iraq to vote its own government, either.
RUSH: But we did.
CALLER: Do you think we're really abiding by that? What they voted for, we're trying to subvert it by military occupation. No difference than what they did here for 12 years in Louisiana. You don't think we don't see that? You don't think we don't see you as a hypocrite for what you say about, oh, yeah, preserve the union, but let's never mind, let's take away the vote from those who are the voting citizens –
RUSH: I cannot believe this!
CALLER: – Constitution!
RUSH: I can't believe this. You are taking out your frustrations at having lost the Civil War on me and claiming I'm a hypocrite because of my stance on the Iraq war?
CALLER: Yes, sir.
RUSH: Which I don't even think you know what it is.
CALLER: I don't think you know – I don't think you know who Abraham Lincoln was.
RUSH: I certainly know who Abraham Lincoln was. He's one of the greatest presidents in the history of the country.
CALLER: Who said that –
RUSH: And it wasn't because he defeated the south. It was because he preserved the union.
CALLER: He preserved the union by trampling the Constitution!
RUSH: He did not trample the Constitution. He suspended habeas corpus. He did do some things I wish Bush would do.
CALLER: Like kill 59,000 innocent civilians?
RUSH: Are you talking about Sherman's march through Atlanta?
CALLER: And – and – and Grant's shelling the city of Vicksburg. Hello?
RUSH: It won the war, didn't it? You ever heard of Gettysburg? It won the war and that was the objective. I'll tell you what I wish Bush would do that Lincoln did. Take all these anti-war agitators and send 'em to Canada. Send the National Guard in there. Send Harry Reid over to Baghdad if he's going to be so socially –
CALLER: Like that Ohio Congressman Vallandigham, huh?
RUSH: Absolutely, like that Ohio congressman, that Democrat that was snatched out of his house and sent down to Jefferson Davis, who also didn't want him.
CALLER: Well, at least I got you to acknowledge that.
RUSH: Acknowledge what?
CALLER: Well, the fact that Lincoln did have his secret police who went into people's houses, pulled them out in the middle of the night, and had them – and had them –
RUSH: You know what? I hope before you die you learn to thank God for Abraham Lincoln.
CALLER: I hope before you die you learn what a racist and a bigot and a power-hungry maniac he was.
RUSH: I'm the racist and the bigot?
CALLER: I didn't say you were. I said he was!
RUSH: Oh. Abraham Lincoln? How in the world you can call a guy who ended slavery a racist and a bigot? I have heard everything now. Everything, in 22 years of hosting this program, I have heard everything.
December 11, 2006
Ray Perdue [send him mail] is a history teacher at Carolina Baptist Academy in Reidsville, NC.
Copyright © 2006 LewRockwell.com
"I died for freedom, this I know,
For those who bade me fight have told me so."
~ Lines from a poem published in England during the early months of WW1
Can you smell it too? For a moment I thought it was the mangrove swamp.
Time to find out what’s polluting the shades of America. It’s been stinking up the U.S…. and the world… for six years now. How could anybody miss it? It’s reeking to high Heaven. Behold: a monstrous Rodentia Giganticus that chews glass and eats its young.
Folks, what we have here is a massive scam that’s just like all the others our government has been pulling on the taxpayers since… well, let’s just go back as far as 2000 when our Dear Leader, Bush 43 (George W. Bush), was handed the presidency by Bush 41’s (that would be Bush The First, George H.W.) supreme court.
We have been – and are still being – scammed.
It’s the oldest Federal game in the book. Convene a war, rally the plebes to their "patriotic duty," and then sit back and watch the Fat Cats’ profits soar. The U.S. government has been engaged in this dodge since… oh who’s counting?
Major General Smedley D. Butler of the Marines, twice decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor, dedicated his life to defend democracy abroad. One day he woke up to smell the afore-mentioned Rodentia Giganticus. Written in the wake of World War One, his book’s title says it all: War Is A Racket.
Who pays? The same helpless, naïve, conned taxpayer: You. Who profits? The profits go to the same place from which the propaganda derives: those slimy bloodsuckers in league with the devil: the Industrial-Military Complex.
Former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin referred to these people when he described the 1918 House of Commons as "a lot of hard-faced men who look as if they had done very well out of the war." Baldwin is also famous for saying that: "War would end if the dead could return."
But I digress.
I’m not even going to mention the dead, mutilated and mentally ruined soldiers and their families who have paid with heartache. I shall forgo discussing the meagre wages, the post-traumatic stress, the broken down equipment with which they fight and the dearth of graves back home in which to bury them.
I’m talking about those who get off easy by only having their pockets picked to death and about those who pick the pockets.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no different from the ones in which Major General Butler served, except that the causes of George’s wars are more blurred, shadowy and secret, in short, devious, than any past U.S. wars. Still, there is cause for joy in Mudville: for some the outcome has been more profitable… if you are a mercenary or other war profiteer, that is.
Not counting subcontractors, there are today in Iraq and Afghanistan an "army" of 100,000 private contractors hired to serve the U.S. military. Where do they come from? One account states that the US is furthering its pursuit of offshore outsourcing by drumming up these soldiers of fortune in Chile and South Africa. What do they do? They provide security for our multi-million dollar army. Say what?!
The DOD must think war is like a computer game.
Why does the professional mercenary company Blackwater USA provide security, which is really the military’s job. What security? Last I heard, our beloved leader could not get into Iraq to meet Prime Minister Maliki. Due to insurgency activity, the Baghdad airport was closed.
One wonders if mercenaries buy innocent civilians from warlords and then turn them in to the military, for a reward, as "terrorists"? As it is, we do know that hapless Iraqi and Afghani civilians are whisked away to Gitmo for permanent vacations. Gee, that sounds like a good racket to me. The mercenary would get paid twice for the same job! Bounty hunting has never been so good. Who cares if the captured are innocent or guilty?
What else do contractors do in Iraq? Some peel potatoes for the troops. Whatever happened to that time-honored military tradition? Many of these contractors are "rebuilding Iraq." Rebuilding Iraq?! What the hell! What a load of codswallop! We haven’t finished destroying it yet! Isn’t that a little bit like putting the Howitzer before Der Kublewagen? You bet it is. And it’s not by accident either. It’s by design.
How many of those private contracting companies are actually doing honest work?
Let’s see, Parsons Corp. have robbed congressionally approved borrowed money to build such edifices as the fabulous open-sewer Baghdad Police College. Offshore outsourcing at work! Providing microbe-infested water in support of the troops, Halliburton is the most famous for tax-dollar travesty.
How about all that oil that was supposed to pay for the war? Ignore for a moment the fact that stealing, smuggling and selling oil across the border has turned out to be a cash cow for the insurgents. Just how was this oil money supposed to pay for anything anyway? It wasn’t. The "Holy Grail" of the oil industry was always slated, and still is, if they can find a way to get their hands on it, to be the sole property of Big U.S. Oil.
Did any of those Iraq war money bills passed by Congress state that the money would come from Iraqi oil? Or was that funding to be conjured out of thin air? In other words, conjured out of your taxes, present and mostly future. That means your children and grandchildren will carry the brunt of paying for George’s war.
This seems an awfully shabby trade off for a war created by lies and deceptions. And we’re not even winning it! Of course "winning" isn’t really the idea. The profits come to an end if we "win." "Maintaining" the war is the idea. Let the good times roll.
And what’s this? The Pentagon wants what… more money? What a surprise! Well, why not? We have to "support our contractors," er "troops." The Pentagon wants at least another $100 billion. Now that’s staying the course! But God forbid we should consider spending less of the taxpayer’s money. We may be getting ripped off to a tune of at least $4 billion a year through corruption. Seems like a rather low figure to me. I’d say "corruption" is ripping us off by at least $348 billion and counting so far.
Oh well. All that tax money going into the pockets of the Bush Dynasty, Cheney Family "Trust" and the other slimy bottom feeders is all for a good cause. We’re paying to defend a slogan – The Global War on Terror!
Major General Smedley D. Butler must be turning over in his grave. Considering the circumstances, he must be glad he’s six feet under and not fighting George’s war "over there."
Elizabeth Gyllensvard edited and contributed to this story.
December 11, 2006
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.
Copyright © 2006 LewRockwell.com
By ALEX DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press Writer 59 minutes ago
DuPont Co. is cutting 1,500 jobs and consolidating manufacturing in its agriculture and nutrition division, and the chemical company said it will put the $100 million in annual savings into its seeds business as it steps up competition with rival Monsanto.
The changes announced Monday are expected to affect about 10 of the division's 250 sites worldwide, but DuPont spokesman Doyle Karr said the company was not disclosing which sites would be affected.
"It's a commitment that DuPont made earlier about realigning its resources toward high growth opportunities, so Ag and Nutrition is looking at streamlining its low return activities and low growth areas and then investing those savings into high growth areas," Karr said.
The changes include the closing or streamlining of the manufacturing units, with most of the changes expected to be completed in 2007, the company said.
DuPont expects to book a related $200 million pretax charge in the fourth quarter to cover the restructuring.
In a separate announcement, the company sharply increased its fourth-quarter earnings target to reflect a series of tax gains that will more than offset the restructuring charges.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont said it now expects to earn $3.25 per share in the quarter, including $370 million, or 39 cents per share, in net one-time gains. The previous estimate was for profit of $2.86 per share, including a gain of 1 cent per share.
The $370 million includes a gain of $500 million to reverse tax accruals and tax valuation allowances, and finalize taxes related to the return to the United States of profits earned abroad. The amount also includes a pretax gain of about $60 million related to insurance recoveries.
Karr said the $500 million was money the company had set aside for taxes. DuPont plans to report fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 23.
Shares of DuPont rose 54 cents to $47.44 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
By SAMUEL MAULL, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago
Peace activist Cindy Sheehan and three other women were convicted of trespassing Monday for trying to delivery an anti-Iraq war petition to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and refusing to leave.
A Manhattan Criminal Court judge sentenced them immediately to conditional discharge, which means they could face some form of penalty if they are arrested in the next six months, and ordered them to pay $95 in court surcharges.
Sheehan and about 100 other members of a group called Global Exchange were rebuffed last March when they attempted to take a petition with some 72,000 signatures to the U.S. Mission's headquarters across a street from the United Nations.
Prosecutors said they were arrested after ignoring police orders to disperse.
The four were acquitted of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration. They had faced up to a year in jail if convicted of all counts.
Sheehan, 49, of Vacaville, Calif., lost her 24-year-old son Casey in Iraq on April 4, 2004. She has since emerged as one of the most vocal and high-profile opponents of the war, drawing international attention when she camped outside President Bush's Texas ranch to protest the war.
The women, calling their campaign "Women Say No To War," had hoped to give the petition to Peggy Kerry, the mission's liaison for non-governmental organizations and sister of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as they had in 2005.
Kerry refused to meet with the women in the presence of Cindy Sheehan and the news media. She testified during the trial that the presentation seemed like a publicity stunt.
The women ignored police orders to leave and were reading it aloud on the sidewalk when police moved in. The women sat on the sidewalk and were carried to patrol wagons.
Sheehan's co-defendants were Melissa Beattie, 57, of New York; Susan "Medea" Benjamin, 54, of San Francisco; and Patricia Ackerman, 48, of Nyack, N.Y.
December 8, 2006
by Jim Harper
Jim Harper is director of Information Policy Studies and the author of Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood. He is coauthor of the forthcoming Cato policy analysis, "Effective Counterterrorism and the Limited Role of Predictive Data Mining."
When the Department of Homeland Security put into effect its Automated Targeting System this week, it added to a growing list of programs that use information about ordinary Americans to seek after terrorists. An outgrowth of systems used to track cargo, ATS now assigns a "risk score" to Americans crossing the border, using data about them from a wide variety of databases.
ATS appears to use data mining to single out people as suspected terrorists or criminals. If data mining worked to catch terrorists, a program like ATS would deserve widespread endorsement. Unfortunately, data mining does not have this capability.
Data mining is a technique for extracting knowledge from large sets of data. Scientists, marketers and other researchers use it successfully to identify patterns and accurate generalizations when they do not have or do not need specific leads.
For example, 1-800-FLOWERS has used data mining to distinguish among customers who generally only buy flowers once a year — on Valentine's Day — and those who might purchase bouquets and gifts year-round. It markets to the first group less often, and to the second group more often. With thousands of customers to study, their researchers get useful information from data mining.
However, despite the investment of billions of dollars and unparalleled access to U.S. consumer behavior data, the direct marketing industry achieves response rates ranging from 5.78 percent for telephone solicitation to 0.04 percent for direct response television. Marketers do not know which potential customers will come to a new store, much less what they will buy. Data mining cannot predict such specific information.
Data mining for terrorism prediction has two fundamental flaws:
— First, terrorist acts and their precursors are too rare in our society for there to be patterns to find. There simply is no nugget of information to mine.
— Second, the lack of suitable patterns means that any algorithm used to turn up supposedly suspicious behavior or suspicious people will yield so many false positives as to make it useless. A list of potential terror suspects generated from pattern analysis would not be sufficiently targeted to justify investigating people on the list.
In a paper to be issued by the Cato Institute on Monday, Jeff Jonas, the founder of data analysis firm Systems Research and Development, and I write that using data mining in an attempt to find terrorists would waste national security resources and threaten the privacy and civil liberties of the thousands of innocents whose lawful activities coincide with a purported terror pattern.
Data mining may be useful for targeting common crimes, about which there is enough information to develop relatively accurate patterns. It may reveal potential identity fraud or credit card fraud. A certain transaction pattern might justify, for example, a credit card company calling a customer to see if she made a certain purchase. But whether data mining can be used to give government authorities reasonable suspicion of ordinary crime is fraught with difficulty. One thing is certain: They won't catch terrorists this way.
Nearly a year ago, The New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency was monitoring the international phone calls of Americans. During the course of the year, additional revelations emerged of telephone companies providing domestic call logs to the NSA and a European financial network providing records of Americans' financial transactions to the Treasury Department.
In October, National Journal reported that much of the Total Information Awareness program that Congress explicitly had rejected had reconstituted itself under the name Tangram. We take as a given that the government officials involved are people of good faith trying to protect the country from terrorists. But Americans are right to be concerned that large storehouses of data about their lives are being used without the benefit of a clear legal structure and robust oversight.
They also are right to worry that our national security services might be wasting time and money on data mining, rather than employing effective counter-terrorism methods that are known to work.
The 9/11 Commission report showed how investigators following leads and using traditional investigative techniques could have foiled al-Qaida's plans, although hindsight is 20/20. Had anyone in the national security bureaucracy known the devastating consequences the attacks would have, they would have had the focus to prevent them. That this did not happen is not an indictment of traditional investigative techniques, nor does it call for using data mining on problems it can't solve.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that solves the security conundrums created by terrorism. Data mining is a useful technique in many areas, but not this one.
This article appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch online on December 7, 2006.
By E&P Staff
Published: December 10, 2006 9:30 AM ET
NEW YORK As noted elsewhere on this site, Stephen Colbert won a big one Saturday with the announcement that his defining 2006 word "truthiness" has been named Word of the Year in the annual Merriam-Webster competition. A hat tip to you, Sir!
So here is the original Colbert Report segment that launched it into the zeitgeist.
Click here to watch.
The question is now being asked in relation to Iraq, as some military families wonder if lives are not only being lost but wasted. The story of the last American to die in a previous mistake, Vietnam, may hold lessons for today.
By Greg Mitchell
(December 10, 2006) -- In the wake of the November elections, the release of the Baker-Hamilton report, and the latest surge in American fatalities in Iraq, a familiar phrase has resurfaced in the press. It’s an updating of John Kerry’s famous question in 1971, as a Vietnam veterans’ leader, now reading something like, “How do you ask someone to be the last American soldier to die in Iraq for a mistake?” Indeed, today’s Washington Post features an article by Christian Davenport and Joshua Partlow about the emerging split among military families over that very question.
All of this has caused me to wonder: Well, who WAS the last soldier to die for the Vietnam mistake?
To my surprise, with a little research, I discovered that there is a consensus on who that individual was. We’ll get to his name in a moment, but what’s most relevant is that he died almost five years after that “mistake” was widely acknowledged. How many will die from now until the last American perishes in Iraq? Gallup and other polls show that a clear majority of American have already labeled the Iraq invasion a "mistake."
We are at a haunting juncture in the Iraq war. Forgive me for another “back in the day” reference, but I recall very well that the public only turned strongly against the Vietnam conflict with the mass realization that young American lives were not only being lost but truly wasted. Now, a woman named Beverly Fabri says in today’s Washington Post, almost three years after her 19-year-old son, Army Pvt. Bryan Nicholas Spry, was killed, "I'm beginning to feel like he just died in vain, I really am.” That’s because she believes, "We are not going to win this war. And we shouldn't have gotten involved with it in the first place."
Another echo of Vietnam: press reports of military officers in Iraq saying, off the record, that they are cutting down, or eliminating, certain patrols because they no longer think the effort is worth the death of any of their men. What’s next in this Vietnam flashback? Fragging of officers who do send their men foolishly into harm’s way?
Now, who was that last American to die in Vietnam?
According to Arlington National Cemetery, and numerous other sources, he was Army Col. William B. Nolde, a 43-year-old father of five. He was killed Jan. 27, 1973, near An Loc – just 11 hours before the U.S. signed the Paris Peace Accords -- when an artillery shell exploded nearby.
This is how Time magazine reported it the following week: “The last hours of the Viet Nam War took a cruel human toll. Communist and South Vietnamese casualties ran into the thousands. Four U.S. airmen joined the missing-in-action list when their two aircraft were downed on the last day. Another four Americans were known to have been killed—including Lieut. Colonel William B. Nolde, 43, of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., who was cut down in an artillery barrage at An Loc only eleven hours before the ceasefire. He was the 45,941st American to have died by enemy action in Viet Nam since 1961.”
His Wikipedia entry opens: “Born in Menominee, Michigan, Nolde was a professor of military science at Central Michigan University before joining the army. As an officer, he served in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War, acting as an advisor to the South Vietnamese forces in the latter&hellip.
“While other Americans lost their lives after the truce was enacted, these were not recorded as combat casualties. During his time in the armed forces, he had accumulated four medals, including the Bronze Star and Legion of Merit.”
His full military funeral was so momentous -- it included the same riderless horse who accompanied President Kennedy's coffin -- it was covered on the front page of The New York Times on Feb. 6, 1973. That story began, “The Army buried one of its own today, Bill Nolde. And with him, it laid to rest – symbolically, at least – its years of torment in Vietnam.”
How many more years of torment and wasted lives remain in Iraq?
Greg Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of E&P.
Current world events are beginning to increasingly resemble the 2,500 year old bible prophecy made by Ezekiel in chapters 38-39. Ezekiel foresaw the rise of Russia (or Turkey, depending on the interpretation) in a coalition with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries (Sudan, Ethiopia and Libya).
The coalition is foretold to attack Israel from the north in a bid to destroy it during the earth's "last days," commonly known as the "war of Gog and Magog."
Throughout history it was thought that the prophecy had been put on hold, until perhaps today when it seems frighteningly more feasible.
In Joel C. Rosenberg's book "The Ezekiel Option," the author points to Ezekiel's prophecies in chapters 36-37, which have largely come true.
Rosenberg then asks the obvious question: If prophecies such as "the rebirth of the State of Israel, the return of the Jews to the Holy Land after centuries in exile, the re-blossoming of desolate desert land to produce abundant food, fruit and foliage, and the creation of an exceedingly great army" materialized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then why shouldn't the next prophecies come true in our lifetime?
Let's try and place the biblical names and locations into today's reality, and see the parallel unfolding of events:
Gog is commonly believed to represent a person's name rather than a place, a tyrannical leader who may hatch an evil plan – in today's reality this "honor" could be most suited to the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad, or perhaps Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon .
Magog, according to some scholars, refers to Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union, or perhaps Turkey. Others will argue that the exact location has not been fully ascertained and that the word Magog may simply be a generalization for an enemy of Israel, leaving the location open.
According to the prophecy in question, "many peoples with you" who will attack along "the mountains of Israel" implies that other countries will be involved in the Russian (or Turkish), Iranian, Sudanese, Ethiopian and Libyan coalition, and who border on the mountains of Israel. This includes Lebanon, Syria and possibly Jordan as well.
Is it so farfetched to imagine the axis between Hizbullah, Iran and Syria, especially after the second war in Lebanon when these three forces overtly united and continue to support each other's goal to destroy Israel?
In his book, Rosenberg notes a conspicuous absence of Egypt and Iraq in the original prophecy, which also makes a lot of sense at this point in time. Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and Iraq is embroiled in its own war of survival and both are unlikely to join a coalition against Israel.
According to the prophecy Magog "will build a military coalition and prepare a strike against Israel." Gog "will use overwhelming force against Israel" - could this be referring to nuclear force? And his coalition will "come like a storm…like a cloud covering the land."
But let's not become hysterical. According to the prophecy, there is no need for Israel to become alarmed, "as the Lord God will bring judgment upon the enemies of Israel beginning with Gog (the tyrant)."
Ezekial prophesizes a great earthquake and the turning of Gog's forces against each other. The next step, which prophesizes God subjecting the enemy to "pestilence, blood, torrential rains, hailstones and fire from heaven," is unclear and sounds like someone pressed the nuclear button, and if so, then who, and who in the region would survive it?
But as in all happy endings, Israel, it is prophesized, will regain its economic prosperity.
So the question remains: Should we wait for future developments and hope for the best, or look more closely at Ezekiel's prophecy and consider preemptive action to stop what may be seen as an imminent threat rising from the "anti-Israel coalition?"
With this said, Ezekiel's prophecy says nothing about an Israeli pre-emptive strike to avert a possible attack – and indeed, it appears such a strike is unlikely considering the current state of our dubious, weak leadership.
Ines Ehrlich is an editor at Ynetnews
WASHINGTON - Lieberman presents solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman addressed an audience at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington where he presented his political agenda: "Israel has the right to demand full allegiance from all its citizens. He who is not ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state, cannot be a citizen in the country. This applies to extremists of the Neturei Karta as well as to extremist factions of the Islamic Movement."
He slammed Israeli Arab MKs for meeting Syrian and Lebanese officials and expressing their support for Hizbullah .
"It is unacceptable that a senator or a representative in the American house of representatives assist Afghanistan during the war and meet with Bin-Laden and al-Qaeda leaders, express his support for their war against the US and be allowed to return to serve in Congress," he said.
"The peace process is based on three false basic assumptions: That the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main fact of instability in the Middle East, that the conflict is territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict."
Lieberman tried to portray himself as someone who cares for the Palestinians: "Any political process has to secure an improvement in the Palestinians' quality of life and education. Attempts to bring about a political arrangement before securing peace to the Israelis and economic improvement for the Palestinians are likely to fail."
Lieberman will meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday.
Patrick Hosking, Banking and Finance Editor
Call for more information on fees
Promise to look at relaxing rules
Day of the locust
More than 20 hedge funds are likely to collapse each year, the chairman of the Financial Services Authority predicted, as he called for more transparency from the industry.
Sir Callum McCarthy said that the failure rate of hedge funds was relatively small at 0.3 per cent, but, with 8,000 funds worldwide, “we might expect slightly over 20 to come to collapse this year”.
The chief City regulator called on the industry to provide more information on fees, redemption penalties and other opaque areas before plans to open it up to small investors.
It was “increasingly anomalous” that UK retail investors were prevented from investing in funds of hedge funds, he said, promising a consultation early in 2007 to relax the rules.
Referring to the implosion of Amaranth Advisors, the American hedge fund that lost its investors about $7 billion (£3.6 billion) in September after being wrongfooted by naturual gas prices, Sir Callum said that investors had been undaunted by its failure. He said that the FSA was relaxed about hedge fund failures as long as there was no danger to the stability of the financial system. Addressing fellow regulators in Germany, Sir Callum tried to diffuse German hostility to hedge funds, arguing that demonising the industry was to miss the point.
Hedge funds were converging with so-called traditional fund managers and many banks, brokers and insurers were already carrying out trades indistinguishable from hedge funds.
In an oblique reference to one senior German politician’s famous attack on hedge funds as “locusts” two years ago, Sir Callum said: “Luckily. . . I am a regulator and not an entomologist.”
Sir Callum called for hedge fund managers to spell out details of their fee structures. Typically they charge 2 per cent of funds under management plus 20 per cent of profits. Yet the true cost to investors is often buried in complex conditions governing hurdle rates of return and allowable expenses.
“Any hedge fund manager, like other asset managers, should disclose these clearly to potential investors,” Sir Callum said.
They should also fully disclose redemption arrangements, including the existence of so-called side letters, documents conferring favourable terms on some investors. There also needed to be more detail on valuation procedures, a controversial area for hedge funds that often own illiquid assets for which there is no market price. Sir Callum said there was “potential for dishonesty” in valuing complex instruments like collateralised debt obligations and catastrophe bonds.
Times Staff Writer
December 10, 2006
Five years ago, high-powered Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff went to a dinner with top officials of the Interior Department, representatives of the White House and leaders of the National Mining Assn.
That Georgetown dinner has now come back to haunt one of the guests — William G. Myers III, who was the Interior Department's top lawyer at the time and for the last three years one of President Bush's most controversial nominees for a federal judgeship.
Last week, Myers was asked to explain why he testified earlier to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had never met Abramoff.
Virtually every major environmental group in the country as well as civil rights, women's, labor and American Indian organizations have vigorously opposed Myers' nomination to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate Democrats have succeeded in blocking his appointment, saying they feared Myers, who has spent much of his career as a lawyer and lobbyist for mining and grazing interests, would be an anti-environmental activist on the bench.
Myers' backers counter that he would bring balance to the 9th Circuit, which they maintain is too liberal.
Immediately after the November midterm election, Bush announced his intention to renominate Myers — who now practices law in Boise, Idaho — to the San Francisco-based court.
In recent days though, questions have arisen about Myers' March 2005 response to a query by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democratic on the judiciary committee. Leahy asked Myers whether he had ever had any contact with Abramoff, then the subject of intense federal investigations who later pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud and is serving 70 months in prison.
"I have searched my memory and files," Myers responded. "To the best of my recollection, I have never had any contact with Mr. Abramoff. I do not recall ever meeting him, speaking to him by phone, corresponding with him at any time, or otherwise having any contact with Mr. Abramoff."
A week ago, however, the Denver Post published a story based on information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing that Myers was among two dozen people attending the dinner on Sept. 24, 2001, with Abramoff. Sponsored by the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, the event was held at the home of Republican fundraiser Julie Finley.
On Tuesday, Leahy asked Myers in writing to explain the "discrepancy between your testimony to the Judiciary Committee and the documents obtained by the Denver Post."
Myers sent a written response to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), outgoing chairman of the judiciary committee, saying, "I simply have no recollection of encountering Mr. Abramoff at the event. I did not know him or who he was. Nor do I have any recollection of meeting him after the event."
On Friday, Leahy said on the Senate floor that the Post story remained "unrefuted and unexplained." Leahy, who is set to become chairman of the judiciary committee in January, said Bush had "squandered an opportunity to fill Idaho's vacancy on the 9th Circuit" by renominating Myers.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has opposed Myers' bid for a judgeship on the grounds that he lacks the necessary qualifications and independence, was more pointed. "The revelation that Mr. Myers gave seemingly misleading responses to the judiciary committee about his contact with Jack Abramoff raises yet another question about his nomination," Feinstein said.
"In light of the many concerns about Mr. Myers' fitness to serve on the second highest court in the nation and the bipartisan Senate opposition to Mr. Myers' nomination, I hope that the president will choose not to renominate Mr. Myers in the 110th Congress," Feinstein added.
But Blair Jones, a White House spokesman, said the president had no intention of withdrawing the nomination. "We believe that Mr. Myers is well-qualified, and we look forward to his confirmation," Jones said Friday afternoon
Representatives of environmental groups and Indian tribes said the latest revelations heightened their concerns about Myers.
Among their earlier concerns: Myers' role in promoting a proposed 1,600-acre open-pit gold mine that would be adjacent to federally designated wilderness in Imperial County. The area contains 55 recorded historic properties eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as religious sites, including prayer circles, ceremonial places, shrines and petroglyphs. While serving as the top lawyer at the Interior Department, Myers supported development of the mining operation by Glamis Gold Ltd. of Canada.
Attorney Courtney A. Coyle, who represents the Quechan tribe, said in a telephone interview last week that the new documents showed that Myers was at the Sept. 24, 2001, dinner — whose guests included Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton and top leaders of the National Mining Assn. who supported the Glamis project — and that he met the next day with Interior Department lawyers to discuss the project.
In October 2001, Myers reversed his predecessor's opinion to block the Glamis project and allowed it to move forward.
Two years later, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that Myers had "misconstrued the clear mandate" of the Federal Lands Policy Management Act, which "by its plain terms, vests the secretary of the Interior with the authority — and indeed the obligation — to disapprove" mines that "would unduly harm or degrade the public land."