Hard Right, Hard Heart: The Record of John Roberts

Written by Chris Floyd 14 September 2005 4891 Hits
Excellent piece by William Taylor in NYR: John Roberts: The Record

An excerpt: The most intriguing question about John Roberts is what led him as a young person whose success in life was virtually assured by family wealth and academic achievement to enlist in a political campaign designed to deny opportunities for success to those who lacked his advantages. It is a question of great relevance to Roberts's candidacy for the Supreme Court. As the late Charles Black has written, no serious person is under the illusion that "a judge's judicial work is not influenced...by his sense, sharp or vague, of where justice lies in respect to the great issues of his time."
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Deja Vu All Over Again

Written by Chris Floyd 14 September 2005 8290 Hits
U.S. Deploys Slide Show to Press Case Against Iran (WP)
Here we go again: "sexed-up dossiers," "smoking guns in the form of a mushroom cloud" and of course, the all-time clincher, "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

Excerpts: ...
The presentation has not been vetted through standard U.S. intelligence channels because it does not include secret material. One U.S. official involved in the briefing said the intelligence community had nothing to do with the presentation and "probably would have disavowed some of it because it draws conclusions that aren't strictly supported by the facts."

The presentation...includes a pictorial comparison of Iranian facilities and missiles with photos of similar-looking items in North Korea and Pakistan. Pakistan largely supplied Iran with its nuclear infrastructure but, as a key U.S. ally, it is identified in the presentation only as "another country."

Corey Hinderstein, a nuclear analyst with the Institute for Science and International Security, said the presence of a weapons program could not be established through such comparisons. She noted that North Korea's missile wasn't designed for nuclear weapons so comparing it to an Iranian missile that also wasn't designed to carry a nuclear payload "doesn't make sense."

-- Not supported by the facts? Doesn't make sense? My god -- this means war!
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Georgia Crawl

Written by Chris Floyd 14 September 2005 4114 Hits
Jim Crow rises again from the red clay earth of Georgia:
Georgia's New Poll Tax (NYT)

Excerpt: "In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver's licenses -- a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly -- to pay $20 or more for a state ID card. Georgia went ahead with this even though there is not a single place in the entire city of Atlanta where the cards are sold. The law is a national disgrace..."

-- Next up, another carefully crafted piece of legislation from the prodigious bowels of the Georgia Republican Party: "Privatizing Certain Aspects of Law Enforcement in Order to Effect Timely and Commensurate Justice Upon Certain  Elements of the Public at the Behest of Certain Other Elements of the Public."

Well, why not? If you can bring back the poll tax, why not a sleek new version of lynch law? You know that Bushist motto: Everything Old is New Again!

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Another Levee Breaks: The Death of Rehnquist Means More Disaster

Written by Chris Floyd 05 September 2005 5311 Hits
"When you think that you've lost everything,
You find out you can always lose a little more...."
-- B. Dylan, "Trying to Get to Heaven"

Looks like America has hit the trifecta of disaster in the past wee
k: first the storm, then the flood and now the death of rightwing hatchet man William Rehnquist. Like the destruction in the Delta, Rehnquist's long-expected but still-untimely death is a disaster whose malign effects will reverberate far into the future.

Rehnquist's death gives Bush another opening on the Supreme Court -- another youngish rightwing hatchet man (or hatchet woman) to poison the system for decades to come -- and the opportunity to name the Chief Justice. It is the cruelest irony: in the very week that the gross criminal incompetence of the Bush Faction has been exposed for the whole nation to see -- the consequences of their exaltation of cronyism and ideological crankery above everything else, including the lives of their own people -- the Bushists now get to cement this wicked mindset into the Supreme Court for generations to come.

Will a Court led by judges appointed by this pathetic little cretin -- this liar, this betrayer, this prancing, st
rutting little ass -- uphold any measures that might be taken to alleviate the kind of brutal racial and economic barriers that were exposed by the abandonment of New Orleans? Not bloody likely. Of course, with the Bush Faction in charge of Congress -- and the Democratic "opposition" bought and sold by the same corporate bosses who gorge the Faction -- it's not likely that any substantial effort to grapple with American society's murderous inequalities and corrosive imbalance will take place anyway. At the very most, the Democrats might exert all their feeble strength and manage -- possibly -- to postpone a vote on the latest tax cuts for the rich (including the Pamper Paris Hilton Act, or the gutting of all estate taxes which is now Bush's top priority) for, oh, a few weeks. Or maybe they won't even manage that.

But even if the murder of New Orleans were to prompt a great wave of public revulsion, and sweep a new generation of genuinely public-minded public officials into office, their best efforts will be constantly undercut, hollowed out and shot down by the Bush Court, which will be working its deadly mischief long after the strutting cretin has left the national scene.
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World Gone Wrong

Written by Chris Floyd 02 September 2005 12584 Hits

"Strange things have happened, like never before.."
-- World Gone Wrong, trad., arr by Bob Dylan

A roundup of stories and commentary on the Delta disaster:

Smoking guns don't come much smokier than this:
Budget Cuts Delayed New Orleans Flood Control Work (Reuters)

White Folk Gone Wild!
Aussies Loot to Survive (Sydney Morning Herald)
Really, they're just animals, these people. What would Jonah Goldberg and Michelle Malkin and Peggy Noonan say? These thugs should be shot on sight.
(Excerpt): Trapped Australian tourists describe hurricane-raved New Orleans as a war zone, with them and everyone else driven to looting just to survive. They told Channel Seven News the streets were lawless with dead bodies everywhere. Mr Jones said survivors were terrified of the violence."It's a battle zone. There's shooting, dead bodies in the street," he said, adding that he and his wife were forced to steal to survive."We're looters like everyone else," he said…

Left Behind I
Local Officials Criticize Federal Government Over Response (NYT)
(Excerpt) Meanwhile, the situation in New Orleans continued to deteriorate. Angry crowds chanted cries for help, and some among them rushed chaotically at helicopters bringing in food. Although Mr. Nagin speculated that thousands might have died, officials said they still did not have a clear idea of the precise toll.

"We're just a bunch of rats," said Earle Young, 31, a cook who stood waiting in a throng of perhaps 10,000 outside the Superdome, waiting in the blazing sun for buses to take them away from the city. "That's how they've been treating us."

Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals "preyed upon" passers-by, including stranded tourists. Mr. Compass said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops - as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food - needed to stabilize his now "very, very tenuous" city.

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," he said "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."

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Filter Tips: Chemical Weapons in the Assault on Fallujah

Written by Chris Floyd 01 August 2005 6495 Hits

Original version published in The Moscow Times, March 18, 2005.


President George W. Bush often complains about the "media filter" that distorts the true picture of his Administration's accomplishments in Iraq. And he's right. For regardless of where you stand on Mr. Bush's policies in the region, it's undeniable that the political and commercial biases of the American press have consistently misrepresented the reality of the situation.


Here's an excellent example. Earlier this month, the American media completely ignored an important announcement from an official of the Iraqi government concerning the oft-maligned U.S. operation to clear insurgents from the city of Fallujah last November. Although the press conference of Health Ministry investigator Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli was attended by representatives from the Washington Post, Knight-Ridder and more than 20 other international news outlets, nary a word of his team's thorough investigation into the truth about the battle made it through the filter's dense mesh. Once again, the American public was denied the full story of one of President Bush's remarkable triumphs.


Dr. ash-Shaykhli's findings provided confirmation of earlier reports by many other Iraqis – reports that were also ignored by the arrogant filterers, who seem more interested in hearing from terrorists or anti-occupation extremists than ordinary Iraqis and those like Dr. ash-Shaykhli, who serve in the American-backed interim government vetted and approved by Mr. Bush. But while the media elite turn up their nose at such riff-raff, the testimony of these common folk and diligent public servants give ample evidence of Mr. Bush's innovative method of liberating innocent Iraqis from tyranny:


He burns them to death with chemical weapons.

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The Perfect Storm

Written by Chris Floyd 01 September 2005 113139 Hits
"The river rose all day,
The river rose all night.
Some people got lost in the flood,
Some people got away all right.
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemine:
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.

"Louisiana, Louisiana,
They're trying to wash us away,
They're trying to wash us away…."
-- Randy Newman, Louisiana 1927

The destruction of New Orleans represents a confluence of many of the most pernicious trends in American politics and culture: poverty, racism, militarism, elitist greed, environmental abuse, public corruption and the decay of democracy at every level.

Much of this is embodied in the odd phrasing that even the most circumspect mainstream media sources have been using to describe the hardest-hit victims of the storm and its devastating aftermath: "those who chose to stay behind." Instantly, the situation has been framed with language to flatter the prejudices of the comfortable and deny the reality of the most vulnerable.

It is obvious that the vast majority of those who failed to evacuate are poor: they had nowhere else to go, no way to get there, no means to sustain themselves and their families on strange ground. While there were certainly people who stayed behind by choice, most stayed behind because they had no choice. They were trapped by their poverty - and many have paid the price with their lives.

Yet across the media spectrum, the faint hint of disapproval drips from the affluent observers, the clear implication that the victims were just too lazy and shiftless to get out of harm's way. There is simply no understanding - not even an attempt at understanding - the destitution, the isolation, the immobility of the poor and the sick and the broken among us.

This is from the "respectable" media; the great right-wing echo chamber was even less restrained, of course, leaping straight into giddy convulsions of racism at the first reports of looting in the devastated city. In the pinched-gonad squeals of Rush Limbaugh and his fellow hatemongers, the hard-right media immediately conjured up images of wild-eyed darkies rampaging through the streets in an orgy of violence and thievery.

Not that the mainstreamers ignored the racist angle. There was the already infamous juxtaposition of captions for wire service photos, where depictions of essentially the same scene - desperate people wading through flood waters, clutching plastic bags full of groceries - were given markedly different spins. In one picture, a white couple are described as struggling along after finding bread and soda at a grocery store. But beneath an almost identical photo of a young black man with a bag of groceries, we are told that a "looter" wades through the streets after robbing a grocery store. 

Almost all of the early "looting" was like this: desperate people - of all colors - stranded by the floodwaters broke into abandoned stores and carried off food, clean water, medicine, clothes. Perhaps they should have left a check on the counter, but then again - what exactly was going to happen to all those perishables and consumer goods, sitting around in fetid, diseased water for weeks on end?  (The mayor now says it could be up to 16 weeks before people can return to their homes and businesses.) Obviously, most if not all of it would have been thrown away or written off in any case. Later, of course, there was more organized looting by criminal gangs, the type of lawless element - of every hue, in every society - whose chief victims are, of course, the poor and vulnerable. These criminal operations were quickly conflated with the earlier pilferage to paint a single seamless picture of the American media's favorite horror story: Black Folk Gone Wild.

But here again another question was left unasked: Where were the resources - the money, manpower, materiel, transport - that could have removed all those forced to stay behind, and given them someplace safe and sustaining to take shelter? Where, indeed, were the resources that could have bolstered the city's defenses and shored up its levees? Where were the National Guard troops that could have secured the streets and directed survivors to food and aid? Where were the public resources - the physical manifestation of the citizenry's commitment to the common good - that could have greatly mitigated the brutal effects of this natural disaster?

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The Dance of Death: Ignorance on the March

Written by Chris Floyd 30 August 2005 4965 Hits

Two stories from the Guardian today give blazing illumination to the death-dealing ignorance of that hideous conglomeration of bagmen and fanatics known as the Bush Faction.

First, Bush's hypocritical pandering to religious extremists is killing people in Africa, as the UN's special envoy for AIDS reports:
Bush Accused of AIDs Damage to Africa

Next, Bushist bagmen for Big Oil are cracking down, Joe McCarthy-style, on leading climate change experts:
Republicans accused of witch-hunt against climate change scientists

In Africa, Bush's extremist "base" is throttling condom distribution, thus crippling one of the continent's most effective anti-AIDS programs and condemning thousands of people -- mostly children -- to an early, agonizing death. This in the name of their "Christian" faith.

Of course, as anyone who has ever read the scripture knows, Jesus of Nazareth didn't apply a sexual, racial, political or sexual litmus test before helping the afflicted. Although he might give a gentle admonishment to "go and sin no more" afterwards, his ministrations were offered unconditionally. But then, as Harper's magazine recently pointed out, studies show that the majority of "Christians" in America have no idea what the Bible actually says. And it's an absolute dead certainty that the gibbering poltroon in the White House can be found among this ignorant throng.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the anti-earth faction has a new hero in Texas congressman Joe "Bonehead" Barton, left. Bonehead is a Big Oil bagman from way back, and as chairman of the House committee on energy and commerce, he's been carrying water for his masters for 11 years. Now he's taken aim at America's leading climate change scientists, demanding that they turn over all their sources of funding, methods and everything they have ever published. Barton will then hold public hearings into the "validity" of their work.

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The Not-So-Lost Cause

29 August 2005 7362 Hits

Jim Crow is back in the catbird seat:

Justice Deparment Approves Georgia Voter ID Law. (AP)

The problem for which this law was ostensibly designed is, of course, non-existent; i.e., huge numbers of illegal voters showing up at the polls with fake non-photo IDs.

But the problem for which this law was really designed is, of course, all too real: i.e., huge numbers of legal voters of dusky hue showing up at the polls and voting against Republicans.

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