Moot Court: Harriet, Jughead and Judicial Jokery

Written by Chris Floyd 07 October 2005 8684 Hits

This is an expanded version of the column published in the Oct. 7 edition of The Moscow Times. For annotations and sources, see the Times version here.

Last week, George W. Bush filled the final vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court – and right on cue, all the knee-jerk Bush-bashers were up in arms, sputtering the usual objections: Unqualified crony! Right-wing apparatchik! Fawning, groveling Bush Family factotum! Wheel-greasing goon in high-priced threads!

Poor little dissident lambkins. They must be the only people left in the United States who still take the country's governance seriously. For it's obvious that the nation's political elite – whatever party label they happen to wear – do not. No ruling class that was actually serious about governing would ever countenance the pair of jokers whom Bush has foisted on what is supposed to be the ultimate guarantor of law in the land. Yet the first bad joke sailed through with bipartisan support and the second is bound to follow. Clearly this is an Establishment in the throes of nervous breakdown, collapsing in a fit of hysteria-induced giggles while a pack of ruthless thugs loot the store and burn down the house.

For its sheer brazen mockery of the judicial system, Bush's nomination of his personal lawyer Harriet Miers to the high court outdoes the installation of hard-right knee-capper John "Jughead" Roberts as Chief Justice. Jughead spent most of his early career trying to screw the poor and the dark-skinned out of whatever meagre rights and protections they had won after hundreds of years of slavery, exclusion and savage repression. He really made his bones, however, with his stalwart service in the Busha Nostra's shutdown of the Florida recount in 2000. For this, Jug was elevated to the federal appeals court, where – while he was negotiating for the Supreme slot – he upheld Bush's imperial right to "disappear" anyone on earth into his own rigged system of military tribunals.

Miers, who has zero judicial experience, is cut from the same cloth. Bush first hired Miers to dig into his own past and bury the skeletons she found there as he limbered up for his presidential run in the 1990s, AP reports. Miers delivered the goods, brokering a convoluted $23 million payoff to former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes and his business partner. Barnes said he'd used political pull to get young war-coward Georgie into the National Guard back in the Vietnam day, the Washington Post reports. With payoff in hand, the whistleblower's memory suddenly became all fuzzy. Miers was also instrumental in wangling Bush out of a jury duty assignment: the standard jury questionnaire would have revealed the drunk driving conviction that Bush had hidden for more than 20 years, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. (Yes, Bush is the first convicted criminal ever elected – or in this case, selected – as president.)

Miers – an ex-Catholic turned hardcore Protestant evangelical – has broader experience, of course. She was the managing partner of a high-powered Texas law firm that, under her gentle Christian guidance, paid out more than $30 million in two separate cases of helping corporate clients defraud their investors, The Huffington Post reports. At the firm, Miers also walked in Our Saviour's footsteps by specializing in union-busting and gutting worker safety protections. As the firm's prospectus proudly noted: "We defend [safety and injury] claims of any type, including multiple death cases." If you accidentally fed a few of your coolies into the company wood-chipper, no worries: Holy Harriet and her crew would have your back. (continued)

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Woman, Thou Art Loosed (Not)!

Written by Chris Floyd 06 October 2005 3959 Hits

More of the peculiar brand of freedom that Bush has brought to Afghanistan:

Editor of Afghan women's magazine arrested (via AP)
Excerpt: The editor of an Afghan women's rights magazine was jailed after a presidential adviser accused him of publishing un-Islamic material — including an article critical of the practice of punishing adultery with 100 lashes, officials said Friday. Minority Shiite Muslim clerics in Kabul objected to that article and another in the monthly Haqooq-i-Zan— or Women's Rights — that argued that giving up Islam was not a crime, Police arrested the magazine's editor, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, on Saturday. (end)

Note that this draconian action was taken at the instigation of a top adviser to Hamid Karzai, the fashion-plate hand-picked by Bush to lead the American satrapy in Afghanistan; the same Karzai who has made deadly alliances with mass-murdering warlords and despair-peddling dopelords. Extremism, enforced religious belief, murder, crime, misogyny and corruption: that's Bush's idea of freedom and democracy -- one which he is busily applying not only in ancient lands but in the heartland of the Homeland itself.

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God's Errand Boy: The Revelation of St. George

Written by Chris Floyd 06 October 2005 5935 Hits

Original version published in The Moscow Times, June 27, 2003.

So now we know. After all the mountains of commentary and speculation, all the earnest debates over motives and goals, all the detailed analyses of global strategy and political ideology, it all comes to down to this: George W. Bush waged war on Iraq because, in his own words, God "instructed me to strike at Saddam."

This gospel was revealed, appropriately enough, in the Holy Land this week, through an unusual partnership between the fractious children of Abraham. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz was given detailed minutes of a negotiating session between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and faction leaders from Hamas and other militant groups. Abbas, who was trying to persuade the groups to call a ceasefire in their uprising against Israeli forces, described for them his recent summit with Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush.

During the tense talks at the summit, Bush sought to underscore the kind of authority he could bring to efforts at achieving peace in the Middle East. While thundering that there could be "no deals with terror groups," Bush sought to assure the rattled Palestinians that he also had the ability to wring concessions from Sharon. And what was the source of this wonder-working power? It was not, as you might think, the ungodly size of the U.S. military or the gargantuan amount of money and arms America pours into Israel year after year.

No, Bush said he derived his moral heft from the Almighty Himself. What's more, the Lord had proven his devotion to the Crawford Crusader by crowning his military efforts with success. In fact, he told Abbas, God was holding the door open for Middle East peace right now – but they would have to move fast, because soon the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe would have to give His attention to something far more important: the election of His little sunbeam, Georgie, in 2004.

Here are Bush's words, as quoted by Abbas in Haaretz: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me, I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

You can't put it plainer than that. The whole chaotic rigmarole of Security Council votes and UN inspections and Congressional approval and Colin Powell's whizbang Powerpoint displays of "proof" and Bush's own tearful prayers for "peace" – it was all a sham, a meaningless exercise. No votes, no inspections, no proof or lack of proof – in fact, no earthly reason whatsoever – could have stopped Bush's aggressive war on Iraq. It was God's unalterable will: the Lord of Hosts gave a direct order for George W. Bush to "strike at Saddam."

And strike he did, with an awesome fury that rained death and destruction on the mustachioed whore of Babylon, with a firestorm of Godly wrath that consumed the enemy armies like so much chaff put to the flame – and with an arsenal of cruise missiles, cluster bombs, dive bombers and assault helicopters that killed up to 10,000 innocent civilians: blasted to pieces in their beds, shot down in their fields and streets, crushed beneath the walls of their own houses, boiled alive in factories, ditches, and cars, gutted, mutilated, beheaded, murdered, women, children, elders, some praying, some wailing, some cursing, some mute with fear as metal death ripped their lives away and left rotting hulks behind. This was the work of the Lord and His faithful servant, whom He hath raised high up to have dominion over men.

And this is the mindset – or rather, the primitive fever-dream – that is now directing the actions of the greatest military power in the history of the world. There can be no doubt that Bush believes literally in the divine character of his mission. He honestly and sincerely believes that whatever "decision" forms in his brain – out of the flux and flow of his own emotional impulses and biochemical reactions, the flattery and cajolements of his sinister advisers, the random scraps of fact, myth and fabrication that dribble into his proudly undeveloped and incurious consciousness – has been planted there, whole and perfected, by God Almighty.

And that's why Bush acts with such serenity and ruthlessness. Nothing he does can be challenged on moral grounds, however unethical or evil it might appear, because all of his actions are directed by God. He can twist the truth, oppress the poor, exalt the rich, despoil the earth, ignore the law – and murder children – without the slightest compunction, the briefest moment of doubt or self-reflection, because he believes, he truly believes, that God squats in his brainpan and tells him what to do.

And just as God countenanced deception on the part of Abraham, just as God forgave David for the murders he ordered, just as God blessed the armies of Saul as they obliterated the Amalekites, man, woman and child, so will He overlook any crime committed by Bush and his minions as they carry out His will. That's why Bush can always "do whatever it takes" to achieve his goals. And by his own words to Abbas, we see that he places his election in 2004 above all other concerns, even the endless bloodshed in the Middle East.

So what new crimes will the Lord have to countenance to keep His appointed servant in power?

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God Ordered Iraq War, Says Bush

Written by Chris Floyd 06 October 2005 15442 Hits

I don't like to strike a personal note here, but for more than two years, I've been getting angry emails from people about an article I wrote in June 2003: God's Errand Boy: The Revelation of St. George. The story, which appeared in The Moscow Times and CounterPunch, was taken from a Haaretz piece which told of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' report to his colleagues of his recent summit with Bush and Sharon. Abbas said that Bush declared: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me, I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

I thought the story was a perfect example of the religious megalomania that Bush has often exhibited, believing that his murderous conquest of Iraq and the torture he inflicts throughout his Terror War gulag are God's will. I did make one error in the original report, writing "Here are Bush's exact words," when I had earlier noted that this was of course a second-hand quote, Abbas' recollection of Bush'swords. A couple of readers rightly took me to task for this, and it was corrected in all subsequent appearances of the article (and in the Empire Burlesque book). But most of the critical emailers simply refused to believe that Bush would ever say such a thing: I was just a fringe crank without any credibility writing for obscure publications, peddling Ay-rab propaganda, indulging in baseless Bush-bashing -- and besides, didn't I know that Bush's own spokesman had denied the story? Case closed! And so on. I don't know where and how often this article has popped up on the internet, but I've gotten such emails as late as last month.

Today, that obscure fringe-crank outlet known as the BBC announced a "major three-part series" -- Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs -- which features this very conversation. The earlier account of Bush's declaration of his divine mission is confirmed on film by both Abbas and Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath. In the film, Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

The BBC story was supposed to embargoed until later tonight, but someone else broke it and it's all over the net, so you can take a gander at it now: God told me to invade Iraq, Bush tells Palestinian ministers.

An excerpt from the original column I wrote in June 2003 is here:

And this is the mindset – or rather, the primitive fever-dream – that is now directing the actions of the greatest military power in the history of the world. There can be no doubt that Bush believes literally in the divine character of his mission. He honestly and sincerely believes that whatever "decision" forms in his brain – out of the flux and flow of his own emotional impulses and biochemical reactions, the flattery and cajolements of his sinister advisers, the random scraps of fact, myth and fabrication that dribble into his proudly undeveloped and incurious consciousness – has been planted there, whole and perfected, by God Almighty.

And that's why Bush acts with such serenity and ruthlessness. Nothing he does can be challenged on moral grounds, however unethical or evil it might appear, because all of his actions are directed by God. He can twist the truth, oppress the poor, exalt the rich, despoil the earth, ignore the law – and murder children – without the slightest compunction, the briefest moment of doubt or self-reflection, because he believes, he truly believes, that God squats in his brainpan and tells him what to do.

And just as God countenanced deception on the part of Abraham, just as God forgave David for the murders he ordered, just as God blessed the armies of Saul as they obliterated the Amalekites, man, woman and child, so will He overlook any crime committed by Bush and his minions as they carry out His will. That's why Bush can always "do whatever it takes" to achieve his goals. And by his own words to Abbas, we see that he places his election in 2004 above all other concerns, even the endless bloodshed in the Middle East.

So what new crimes will the Lord have to countenance to keep His appointed servant in power?

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Notes From a Gilded Age

Written by Chris Floyd 06 October 2005 3566 Hits

In the department of dog-bites-man news, the NYT reports: At the Very Top, a Surge in Income in '03.

Excerpt: After falling for two years, the share of income going to the richest slice of Americans - the top tenth of 1 percent - grew significantly in 2003 while the share going to 99 percent of Americans fell, tax data released yesterday showed. At the same time, the effective income tax rates paid by the top tenth of 1 percent fell sharply, declining at more than 10 times the rate reduction for middle-class taxpayers, the new report, by the Internal Revenue Service, showed...

The I.R.S. data tend to understate incomes for those at the very top because of different rules for reporting wages and capital gains, meaning the actual disparity was larger than the official data show. Other data show that among major world economies, the United States in recent years has had the third-greatest disparity in incomes between the very top and everyone else. Only Mexico and Russia, among major economies, have greater disparity. (End)

Third place? America in third place? By God, we'll just have to try harder! If we can't beat corrupt oligarchies like Mexico and Russia in the corrupt oligarchy stakes, then for god's sake what kind of corrupt oligarchy are we? Come on, people!
 

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Goon Show: Lunacy's Long March

Written by Chris Floyd 06 October 2005 4093 Hits

Max Blumenthal notes this chilling example of how the violent extremist right-wing fringe has migrated to the very center of national power: You've Come a Long Way, Crazy! Check out Max's site to get the full sourcing on this disturbing story.

10/02/05:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 /Christian Wire Service/ -- National Clergy Council president, the Reverend Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK), today attended the annual Red Mass that included President George Bush and newly appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as other prominent officials including Supreme Court associate justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer.

"After today's service, it would be hard for anyone to argue that America doesn't have a strong Judeo-Christian heritage. You had the heads of the executive and judicial branches and representatives from the legislative branch fully participating in the prayers, hymn singing and even in a clear profession of Christian faith," said Reverend Schenck. "There was no separation of church and state today."

1992:
At the 1992 Democratic Convention, Schenck was arrested and detained by the Secret Service for rushing Bill Clinton with a dead fetus in his hands, screaming about abortion. He and his brother were the people who first invited Operation Rescue to Buffalo to picket Dr. Barnett Slepian, a local abortion provider. For years, they marched outside Slepian’s home and office with threatening signs, some of which called the doctor “pig.” In 1998, Slepian was shot dead at his home. His alleged murderer, James Kopp, was arrested in France in late March.

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Heat Dry Up My Brains

Written by Chris Floyd 05 October 2005 4207 Hits

The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette gives us a glimpse of compassionate conservatism in action: No aid planned to help low-income families, seniors with energy costs.

Excerpt: The Bush administration yesterday said it has no plans to ask Congress for additional funds to help low-income families and financially stretched seniors deal with rapidly escalating home heating bills. The Energy Department is projecting that this winter's natural gas prices will run as much as 77 percent more than last winter in parts of the Midwest; home heating in the Northeast could rise by as much as 33 percent, while electricity in the South could go up 18 percent, the department's analysts said. That could mean that thousands of households won't be able to afford enough heat or electricity. But Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman... said asking Congress to increase money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program "is not on the agenda" for the administration "at this point." (End)

Of course it isn't. But that's not to say that the comp-cons of the Bushist Party don't have a plan for the poor, the old, the sick and the vulnerable who face a winter of despair and deprivation. Through methods we'd rather not mention, Empire Burlesque has obtained a draft of the Energy Department's new guidelines for "at-risk" households, written by Armstrong Williams and set for a mass mailing early next month:

A Handy Dandy Guide for Dealing With the Cold
The United States Department of Energy

President George W. Bush is your friend. President George W. Bush doesn't want you or anyone else to be cold this winter, except of course for America's enemies skulking in their caves. President George W. Bush, who protects us all from America's enemies, wants you to be warm, so you can enjoy the American way of life, which America's enemies want to destroy but can't because of President George W. Bush. So your friend and protector, President George W. Bush, wants to give you these "handy dandy" hints to help you get by in case the very minor fluctuations in fuel prices caused by all the hurricanes and terrorists and looters and Democrats and not by President George W. Bush put you in a very temporary and very minor "jam" about home heating. Are you ready? Then let's begin!

When things get a little nippy, you can always:

1.  Set yourself on fire.
2.  Climb inside the microwave and set it on "high" for 20 minutes. (If you do not have a microwave, you can always just climb inside an ordinary stove set at 180 degrees for 3 hours. Be sure to turn yourself at least once every 30 minutes.)
3.  Run round and round the house with 60 pounds of buckwheat strapped across your back.
4.  Body heat is an excellent source of winter warmth. Invite friends and family over, strip naked and pile yourselves into a pyramid. This is even more fun if everyone is wearing canvas bags over their heads and have their hands bound with plastic cuffs!
5.  Make a burnt offering unto the Lord.
6.  Hire yourself out as stoop labor building condos for Young Republicans in the new Allbaugh Heights district of New Orleans.
7.  Sign up for President George W. Bush's special all-expenses-paid* "Commander-in-Chief Holiday Excursion" to the sun-kissed climes of ancient Babylon!

*Price of body armor not included.

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Notes From Underground: Exposing the Maw of Bush's Gulag

Written by Chris Floyd 30 September 2005 10456 Hits
This is a slightly expanded version of the column published in the Sept. 30 edition of The Moscow Times, where you will find full annotations and links to sources for this piece. For more, see the earlier posts on this issue: The Good Captain and Dark as a Dungeon. The illustration is by the incomporable Bogorad, the artist for The Moscow Times.

Quietly, firmly, relentlessly, the good captain laid out the list of atrocities committed at
the order of the enemies of freedom: "Death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment."

A catalogue of depravity, all of it designed – with diabolical sophistry – by self-exalted men cloaking their violent perversions with sham piety and righteous sputum. This was terrorism on a grand scale, chewing up the innocent and guilty alike.

The good man in question is of course Captain Ian Fishback, the born-again U.S. Army officer who has blown the whistle on the systematic abuse of captives rounded up in George W. Bush's Terror War. Fishback, frustrated after 17 months of trying to get the above atrocities investigated through official channels, finally turned to Human Rights Watch – and top Republican senators – seeking redress for the bloody dishonor that Bush has brought upon America.

In one sense, Fishback's revelations – corroborated by other soldiers, now lying low to ward off the inevitable reprisals by Bush minions – are not news. For example, I've been writing in Counterpunch and elsewhere about the use of torture in Bush's global gulag since January 2002. It was no secret; at first, the Bushists even bragged about it. "The gloves are coming off" was a favorite phrase of the deskbound tough guys cracking foxy to an enthralled media.

They also boasted of "unleashing" the CIA, which set up its own "shadow army" of non-uniformed combatants operating outside the law – i.e., "terrorists," in Bush's own definition – while creating secret prisons all over the world. As one CIA op enthused to the Boston Globe: "'We are doing things I never believed we would do – and I mean killing people!" A senior Bush official proudly pointed to the ultimate authority for this deadly system: "If the commander-in-chief didn't think it was appropriate, we wouldn't be doing it."  (continued)

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Five Feet High and Rising

Written by Chris Floyd 30 September 2005 1869869666 Hits
Our webmaster, toastmaster and master of all trades, Rich Kastelein, digs up this important story from Democracy Now:  After the Flood: Where Have All the Prisoners Gone? More Than 500 From New Orleans Jail Still Unaccounted For.

These were prisoners abandoned by guards as the flood waters rose. Some had to break out of their own cells, with the water chest-high; others descended to the lower levels of the jail to rescue other prisoners. And lest Bill Bennett and his ilk think this was just a matter of hard-core criminal scum getting no better than they deserved, Rich digs out this telling quote: "Some of these prisoners were in fact serving misdemeanor sentences, and others were picked up for parole violations, but the vast, vast majority of the prisoners being held at Orleans Parish Prison were pretrial detainees. They had only been charged. They had not been tried and convicted."

Of course, it wouldn't make any difference if they were all hard-core convicts; the inhumanity of abandoning them to the flood would be just as egregious. But we'll certainly keep tracking this story as it develops.

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Miraculous Organ: The Revelation of Saint William

Written by Chris Floyd 29 September 2005 7982 Hits

Virtuous Bill Bennett dreams of genocide:

"I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."

That was Bennett, Reaganite moral scold and gambling junkie, holding forth on his radio talk show this week. (Via Media Matters.) To be sure, Wild Bill then pulled a classic Nixonian maneuver: divulging an evil intent, then qualifying it, for public consumption, with pious contextualizing. Nixon, as we all recall so fondly, once rounded off a discussion on procuring a million dollars in political slush fund money with a stirring aside -- aimed squarely at the secret microphone he knew was recording the entire conversation: "We could do that -- but it would be wrong." Of course, his minions were in on the scam -- and the slush money duly flowed.

In like manner, Bennett followed up his astonishing disclosure of the secret dreams of a vast swathe of Bush Faction faithful with some quick butt-covering for his 'abort 'em all' remark: "That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do...." So far, so hypocritically good; but even at this point, even though he obviously realized that he'd given away too much of the game (hence the backpedaling), he still couldn't let go of the idea. Instead, he finished the sentence by going right back to the "justification" for -- and let's be clear about this -- the destruction of the black race in America, by saying: "But your crime rate would go down."

The crime rate among African-Americans was not even the topic of the exchange that gave rise to this outburst; it was a discussion about Social Security and the purported effects that 30 years of legal abortion has had on reducing the tax base to support the program -- typical right-wing, rag-chewing arcana. That's what makes Bennett's genocidal image even more remarkable: it just sprang into his head as the perfect illustration of an abstract point he was trying to make on an entirely different subject. It was just there, in his mind, as a template, a thought pattern, a mental connection -- an idea he had already envisioned.

And of course, Bennett's idea of eliminating African-Americans entirely is directly tied to the widespread -- and largely open -- right-wing  belief in the  inherent criminality of  black  people: a belief that was on naked display during the destruction of New Orleans, when the wildest rumors of "savagery" among the flood survivors were taken as gospel truth and amplified throughout the media (and not just the openly right-wing media). We now know that almost all of these horror stories -- child rape and wanton murder in the Superdome, vast armed gangs seizing control of whole quadrants of the city, etc. -- were completely false. But this racist meme -- which obviously lies behind Bennett's gruesome fantasy -- is impervious to reality.

All in all, a most revealing emission from the primordial ooze of the Bushist mind. Or as Shakespeare once said: "Murder, though it hath no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ."

(This is an updated version of the earlier post.)

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