Family Business/Shadow Warriors

Written by Chris Floyd 28 September 2005 4631 Hits

The piece below was first published in The Moscow Times on January 25, 2005. The first half deals with the then-breaking (and now forgotten) Enron scandal. The second half of the column deals more directly with the Bush Faction's use of torture and other illegal methods in the Terror War.

Family Business
Enron the Great, "The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth," has fallen. The vast wake of its collapse has covered the White House with stinking pitch, and occasioned much excited comment amongst the punditry. Unfortunately, most of these editorial exhalations have veered between tortured defenses of the Dear Leader and gleeful gibes of the most unnuanced sort: e.g., "How is George Bush just like Bill Clinton? They'd both do anything for a Lay."

Here at the Global Eye, of course, we eschew the bitter prose of partisanship and the low tone of sniggering frivolity. As always, we seek to elevate the level of public discourse, to give, as it were, a choral voice to what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature." Toward that end, we have today invited a very special guest commentator on the Enron scandal: James, the brother of Jesus.

Rebbe James has no little experience with the troublesome nexus between government and powerful special interests. He spent several decades as the undisputed head of his brother's religious organization, an extremist variant within Judaism that espoused radical asceticism and stressed charitable works over theological posturing.  Resisting both the modernizing pressures of the Western infidels occupying his country and the relentless ambitions of the devious Roman collaborator, Saul of Tarsus, James held the group together until he was executed in a political plot engineered by Roman functionaries and local intriguers. His brother's organization was eliminated a few years later when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and proscribed all local sects except the collaborationists: a few Jewish splinter groups – and the followers of Saul.

James' central role was later suppressed by the Saultines, who were now almost exclusively Gentile, and overwhelmingly anti-Semitic. They had bigger fish to fry: seizing the wealth and power of the Roman Empire. This Christian coalition – which operated according to Saul's conspiratorial dictum of being "all things to all men," then lowering the boom once you're in control – condemned the remaining loyalists to Jesus' family as heretics, and relegated James to the back pages of their anthology of folk myth and theological posturing, The New Testament. The rest, as they say, is history – and a pretty sordid tale it's been, too.

But as they also say, you can't keep a good man down. So, through the miracle of modern publishing, we are pleased to welcome Rebbe James back to the "marketplace of ideas," to give us his views on the Bush-Enron debacle, and its deeper implications for global business culture – especially the vexing question of labor relations. Take it away, James!

"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

"Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat at your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

"Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

"Hearken, my beloved brethren: hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs to the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"

Wonder if we will see testimony of this caliber on Capitol Hill anytime soon? Or will the Enron-spattered Democrats let the Enron-encrusted Republicans wriggle free, out of mutual self-interest for the profitable status quo? [Note, September 2005: Yep, that's exactly what they did.]

As for the president, and his transparent lies about his relationship to Enron's influence-peddling chairman, Kenneth Lay, we'll let the venerable Rebbe have the last word: 

"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."

Shadow Warriors
Meanwhile, the latest Saultine Emperor has set his own private army loose in Afghanistan. Yes, the pale riders of the CIA are back in the saddle again, operating under "greatly relaxed rules of engagement" as they do Bush's covert bidding, the Boston Globe reports.

Bush is building a "shadow military organization" within the CIA, top US officials say – proudly. Like the "unlawful combatants" of Al-Qaeda, these troops wear no uniforms, are not bound by the rules of war like honorable soldiers under their country's flag, engage in terrorist actions as well as combat, and answer to no one but their divinely-inspired leader.

Do these Osamic echoes trouble the self-proclaimed defenders of democracy and civilization? Not a whit.  ''If we didn't think it was appropriate, we wouldn't be doing it," said a senior Bush official. "If the commander in chief didn't think it appropriate, we wouldn't be doing it. If it ain't broke, why fix it?"

Why indeed? After all, a similar set-up worked wonders back in Vietnam, where the CIA's Phoenix Program murdered anywhere from 20,000 (the CIA's own admission) to 70,000 people. But hell, they were just a bunch of commies, right? Or suspected commies. Or suspected commie sympathizers. Or their families. Or whatever. As one Phoenix vet told Congress: "Quite often it was a matter of expediency just to eliminate a person in the field rather than deal with the paperwork."

Now those happy days are here again. ''We are doing things I never believed we would do – and I mean killing people!" enthused one of Bush's new Praetorians.

Rebbe James? Any comments?

"The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

Heretic! Appeaser! Send this nut to Guantanamo Bay!

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Dark as a Dungeon

Written by Chris Floyd 28 September 2005 8392 Hits

Below are a couple of vintage pieces that will be used as sources for the upcoming Global Eye column this week, which deals with the revelations of Captain Ian Fishback about the widespread, systematic, countenanced and encouraged use of torture in Bush's Terror War gulag. Fishback's devastating evidence, corroborated by other soldiers and gathered over the course of 17 months with the help of his fellow officers, adds even more weight to the mountainous bill of indictment against the Bush Faction. The good captain's moral courage stirred a mild flurry of media interest over the weekend, but now the usual dignified silence is settling over the affair. There will be much more on this in the MT column, which will be posted here as well.

The articles below will be used as sources for the passages in the column noting that torture was endemic, systematic -- and openly approved by the top levels of the Bush administration -- from the earliest days of the Terror War. Both of the columns were first published in January 2002. This descent into atrocity and dishonor didn't start with Abu Ghraib or even the criminal invasion of Iraq. The taint had set in long before that.

Pretzel Logic (Jan. 18, 2002)
Family Business/Shadow Warriors (Jan. 25, 2002)

Below is an excerpt from "Shadow Warriors":

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The Good Captain

Written by Chris Floyd 28 September 2005 5988 Hits

In regard to the item below, dealing with the further revelations of torture in the Bush gulag brought to light by Army Captain Ian Fishback, we offer this brief ballad in the good captain's honor.

The Good Captain

Good captain, good captain, now what have you done?
You've laid out the dead in the light of the sun.
You've opened the door where the dark deeds go on,
Where the fine words of freedom are broken like bones.

Good captain, good captain, you tell us of crime
Done in the name of your country and mine.
Of torture and murder, perversion and lies,
In a land where no echo will carry the cries.

Good captain, good captain, now who do we blame
For the horrors you bring us, for this undying shame?
Should we lay all the guilt on the grunts with no name,
Or the high and the mighty who set up this game?

Good captain, good captain, don't you know the fate
Of all those who speak the hard truth to the State,
And all who disturb the people's sweet dreams?
They're mocked into scorn and torn apart at the seams.

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Gangster's Paradise

Written by Chris Floyd 28 September 2005 4834 Hits

The indefatigable impresario of this site, Richard Kastelein, has posted an important story in The Pub today, dealing with rapidly deepening implications of the Jack Abramoff scandal. As Rich and his links point out, the Abramoff affair is not a "lobbying scandal": it's the linchpin of a vast criminal enterprise involving every facet of the Bush Administration. Josh Marshall has been leading the way on this story, which could indeed be the "key to all mysteries" in piercing the dark heart of the Bush Faction's nefarious operation.

The breaking stories all underscore a theme that we've sounded here many times: The Bush Faction is not a political group interested in governing the country; it's a criminal gang of thugs in silk suits intent on enriching themselves and their cronies. There will be more, much more on all this to come. And as Rich notes today, it is now taking a decidedly sinister turn, with mafia-style contract killings now entering the mix. Check out his posting, and feel free to add your own info and comments.

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Down in the Flood

Written by Chris Floyd 28 September 2005 5979 Hits

When that sad sack of shinola Joe Biden starts gearing up for his quadrennial failed run for the presidency in 2008, let's be sure this little clipping gets a wide airing:

Strict Bankruptcy Law New Blow for [Storm] Victims (NYT).

Biden – the highly perfumed courtesan of the credit card companies headquartered in his home state -- was one of the chief proponents of this draconian bill (which, by the way, the NYT completely mischaracterizes in typically pro-corporate fashion in the above item). Biden's staunch support helped knee-cap any effective Democratic opposition to the measure. This is the same Joe Biden who, every time it looks like anti-war sentiment is gaining traction among national Democrats, runs like the teacher's pet to Tim Russert or Brit Hume to declare that he supports the president's war – it's just that we ought to do the goldang job better, that's all.

The fact that this silly suit of clothes is considered one of the "giants" of the Democratic Party tells you everything you need to know about the utter degradation of our political system today.

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The Politics of Personal Destruction

Written by Chris Floyd 23 September 2005 9191 Hits

This blog would be remiss if we failed to denounce, in the strongest terms, the widespread dissemination around the Internet of a scurrilous National Enquirer story to the effect that President George W. Bush has "fallen off the wagon" and started drinking again. My god, how low can the "progressive" blogosphere go? To peddle such tabloid tripe, spreading it around the world like a malignant virus, traducing the President's good name with "anonymous sources" -- it's a moral outrage. We here at Empire Burlesque would never take part in such an odious campaign of personal defamation. We pledge never to link to stories like this one:


Nor we will we try to score cheap laughs and shallow satirical points by employing unflattering photos, like the one on the right, to imply that Mr. Bush is some sort of sniveling little sauce-head who can't take the heat and has to look for his dwindling manhood inside a bottle of hootch. That's just plain wrong. We won't play that petty game. We say that unless and until our President is found by Cokie Roberts lying face down in a pool of his own urine at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, we will not spread malicious rumors about his sobriety. And we strongly urge other bloggers to do the same. After all, how can we ever expect to be taken seriously by the Democratic Leadership Council or the Washington Post editorial board if we engage in such unprofessional behavior?

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"The Light Shines in Darkness"

Written by Chris Floyd 23 September 2005 10423 Hits

Published in the Sept. 23 edition of The Moscow  Times. Annotations and sources are available here.

The sea was pink with sunset, the last light draining as high tide slowly reclaimed the beach. A huge harvest moon, flecked with clouds, was hanging just above the horizon in a sky still barely blue. On the distant line where the world curved away, you could see the white speck of the Channel ferry, bound for Calais.

Standing on the high seawall – with no one around, no sound but the insistent boundless roar of the waves – you watched and waited, waited for the hint of wind to rake the clouds away from the moon. The pink sea shaded into gray, first one and then another of the seawall steps was covered by the swarming tide: the waves and the darkness were advancing together. You waited. A horsehead cloud flashed black against the vast yellow presence, then bowed its neck, drifted on – and the moon emerged.

A rapier of light appeared on the surface of the water, a restless, shifting dazzlement, reaching all the way to the foot of the seawall, the edge of the tide. Wherever you stepped it followed, a pointillist blade aimed straight for your eyes. Imperceptibly but swiftly, the moon rose higher, grew harder and smaller, while the band of light, paradoxically, widened: now a broadsword, now a road, now a river of diamonds pouring through the middle of the waves.

Astonishing, unlooked-for, this eruption of beauty, so perfect in its meaninglessness. It was just there, portending nothing, without signification. There was no goddess in the moon, no spirit in the sea: just form, line, curve, light – combining, dissolving, recombining at every moment. A truth emptied of all utility, all contention, all continuity, of everything except the eternal imprint of reality.

How far removed from this realm of ordinary miracle is the sordid world of politics and power. There, meaning and agency, instrumentality and exploitation rule the day. There, the wordless roar of the sea gives way to the ceaseless howl of lies. To deal with politics is nothing more or less than waste management, a necessary evil to preserve public health, trying to keep the corruption down to a reasonable, endurable level.

Of course, corruption is just another word for greed; and greed – self-serving -- is endemic to human nature. No political system is antiseptic in this regard – nor should it be. A little corruption is not fatal; some built-in slack for human failure keeps a system from becoming merciless and inhumane. But when the level of graft rises too high, when it overtops and breaks down the levees of law itself, when it swarms the land, rips out communities and families, when it kills and crushes, when it exalts the mighty few beyond all reason and justice – then it must be resisted, exposed, and condemned. Then, in order to carve out some space for meaningless beauty and reality's truth to flourish, we must plunge into the muck again.

And so here we go: George W. Bush's plan to reconstruct the Gulf Coast is the biggest crony cash-cow in American history (aside from the pork-orgy he's throwing for his pals in Iraq). Bush is using his emergency powers to strip American citizens of their legal protections against exploitation, handing out no-bid contracts to his pals and paymasters and allowing them to pay coolie wages to build their new commercial empires on the bones and blood of the hurricane's victims.

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Look Back in Anger

Written by Chris Floyd 23 September 2005 8844 Hits

Once again, Roger Gathman at Limited Inc is on the money, this time on the bitter benefits of hindsight in viewing the murderous debacle in Iraq. The whole piece needs to be read, but here are some excerpts:

Lately, the media has decided to respond to the fact that the war is unpopular in this country (and will be extremely hard to finance, come the next supplemental) by posing the rhetorical question, don’t we have the moral responsibility to remain in Iraq? This is a sort of cruel joke question. It is as if Cortes were to justify the conquest of Mexico by saying, don’t we have a responsibility to the Aztecs to remain in Mexico? The answer to the media’s new concern with our moral obligation is that an occupying force that makes promiscuous use of air power on its occupied territory, razes cities Grozny style, and establishes interlocking groups with organized kleptocrats to pump money out of the occupied territory seems to have somehow misread the story of the Good Samaritan. I don’t know how much more American charity Iraq can take...

Hindsight should tell us this: Iraq was able, two years ago, to stand on its own two feet. The American occupation has been aimed at preventing an independent Iraq, not at creating one. The idea of indefinite occupation, ie colonizing Iraq, depended, however, on two factors: that Iraq would eventually be a cash cow, and that the American population would go along with Bush’s plan. The first pillar of the Bush plan has collapsed. The second is collapsing. Iraq is in the hands of Iran’s allies. The cost of continuing the war is unsustainable. Moreover (although the Americans still don’t know this), American has become irrelevant to the ultimate outcome in Iraq. Under the shadow of the American shock troops, the real political fight has been happening, in which the American side is represented by a Kurdish faction – and even that faction is becoming impatient with their ally.

Give me more hindsight is the LI slogan. Let's shed as much light as possible on the the monsters who rule us.

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Happy Campers in Clover

Written by Chris Floyd 22 September 2005 4708 Hits

Roger Gathman at Limited Inc gives one of the best explanations for the Democratic Party's flaccid "opposition" to the Bush Faction steamroller that I've seen in quite a while. There is of course no genuine opposition to Bush at all in the American power structure; there are only varying degrees of craven collusion, punctuated by occasional spasmodic regurgitations of sham dissent – cynical evocations of past glories, all talk, no action.

Gathman, displaying his usual slashing erudition, takes off from a demolition of David Mamet's recent piece in the Los Angeles Times, moves on to the court of the Byzantine emperors and brings the hammer down squarely on the agonizing reality of the present day.

A Rule for Reading Newspapers
The whole piece is worth reading, but here's an excerpt:

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Broken Light: Work, for the Night is Coming

Written by Chris Floyd 21 September 2005 6563 Hits
(Below is an excerpt from the book, Empire Burlesque. It might help explain a little bit of the ethos behind this blog, for anyone that's interested.)

Black milk of daybreak, we drink it at evening.  
-- Paul Celan, "Deathfugue"

The children were walking to school. The young people were going out to a dance.
The children stepped on a booby trap planted by a soldier. The young people were shredded by the nails of a suicide bomb. They were all blown up, destroyed.

One moment, the force of life animated their biological matter
, their brains seethed with billions of electrical impulses, the matrix of consciousness brought the entire universe into being, within them, within each of them, each solitary vessel of knowing.

The next moment, only the matter remained: inert, coagulated, decaying. There was no more knowing, no more being; the universe had come to an end.


We drink it at midday and morning; we drink it at night.

They would have us believe it is because Ishmael warred with Jacob. They would have us believe it is because this or that Divine Will requires it. They would have us believe it is because ethnicity or nationality or religion or some oth
er arbitrary accretion of history and happenstance must override both the innumerable commonalities of all human beings and the radical, irreplaceable uniqueness of each individual.

They would have us believe anything other than the truth: that everyone and everything will die; that all nations, ethnicities, religions and structures will fall away into rubble, into nothingness, and be forgotten; and that even the planet itself will be reduced to atoms and melt away, like black milk, into the cold deeps of empty space. And in the face of this truth, nothing matters ultimately but each specific, fleeting instance of individual being, the shape we give to each momentary coalescence of atomic particles into a particular human situation.

That's all we have. That's all there is. That's what we kill when we murder someone. That's what we strangle when we keep them down with our boot on their throat.

We drink and we drink.

Is it not time to be done with lies at last? Especially the chief lie now running through the world like a plague, putrescent and vile: that we kill each other and hate each other and drive each other into desperation and fear for any other reason but that we are animals, forms of apes, driven by blind impulses to project our dominance, to strut and bellow and hoard the best goods for ourselves. Or else to lash back at the dominant beast in convulsions of humiliated rage. Or else cravenly to serve the dominant ones, to scurry about them like slaves, picking fleas from their fur, in hopes of procuring a few crumbs for ourselves.

That's the world of power -- the "real world," as its flea-picking slaves and strutting dominants like to call it. It's the ape-world, driven by hormonal secretions and chemical mechanics, the endless replication of protein reactions, the unsifted agitations of nerve tissue, issuing their ignorant commands. There's no sense or reason or higher order of thought in it -- except for that perversion of consciousness called justification, self-righteousness, which gussies up the breast-beating ape with fine words and grand abstractions.

And so the fine words and breast-beating goes on and on -- prosperity, freedom, holiness, security, justice, glory, our people, our homeland, God's will be done, we will prevail.

We shovel a grave in the air where you won't lie too cramped.

Beyond the thunder and spectacle of this ape-roaring world is another state of reality, emerging from the murk of our baser functions. There is power here, too, but not the heavy, blood-sodden bulk of dominance. Instead, it's a power of radiance, of awareness, connection, breaking through in snaps of heightened perception, moments of encounter and illumination that lift us from the slime.  (c0ntinued)
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