Corrected Vision

Written by Chris Floyd 02 November 2005 4585 Hits

Here's "news" that should not be news but will obviously come as news to most Americans who never hear news like this: Muslims don't like terrorism or Islamic extremists. From the Daily Telegraph (you didn't think it would be in a US paper, did you?): Anti-terror Ramadan TV drama stirs the Arab world.

Excerpts: A blockbuster Ramadan television drama broadcast across the Arab world has broken new ground by daring to question the motives of terrorism committed in the name of Allah. The plotline of al-Hur al-Ayn (Beautiful Maidens), has…been hugely popular with an Arabic-speaking public fed up with the cliched portrayal of all Muslims as gun-toting fanatics….

The title of the programme is taken from the widely held belief that Islamic terrorists willing to become martyrs do so because the Koran promises them 72 virgins in heaven. In fact, the Koran makes no mention of 72 virgins and does not encourage suicide bombing or self-martyrdom.

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The Reality of Empire

Written by Chris Floyd 02 November 2005 4694 Hits

Wise man Juan Cole points us to this story, which is not just a smoking gun but a veritable MOAB which utterly destroys the big Bush lie that his war of aggression has brought "democracy" to Iraq. Jalal Talabani, the president of the supposedly "sovereign" nation of Iraq, has admitted – in front of the United Nations – that he has no power to stop the United States from using his "sovereign" nation as a launching pad for attacks on other countries – even though Talabani adamantly opposes such actions.

Middle East On-Line reports [Excerpt] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he opposed military action against neighbouring Syria but lacked the power to prevent US troops from using his country as a launchpad if it chose to do so. 

"I categorically refuse the use of Iraqi soil to launch a military strike against Syria or any other Arab country," Talabani told the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview published Tuesday. "But at the end of the day my ability to confront the US military is limited and I cannot impose on them my will." [End]

Professor Cole sums up the harsh reality of the situation:  "So let's get this straight. The president of Iraq elected six months after the US 'turned over sovereignty' on June 28, 2004 is saying before the United Nations that George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld decide whether his country can be used as a base to attack other countries, and he is unable to influence such decisions-- even though he categorically rejects any such action.

"For all those 'Bush's Iraq' boosters who laud the 'democratic' elections of January 30 and the recent constitutional referendum, this clear admission that Iraq remains under American military occupation, and that its government is helpless before American decisions about the fate of Iraq, is a rather strong refutation. After all, no country is a "democracy" where the military calls the shots, overruling the civilian president-- how much less so if it is a foreign military! Talabani is saying that Iraq is more like Burma, Pakistan or the Sudan than it is like democracies such as India or Brazil."

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Hounds of Heaven: Bush's Rabid Base and the Hunting of Harriet Miers

Written by Chris Floyd 31 October 2005 6397 Hits

We hold no brief at all for Harriet Miers: she is a simpering factotum and cheerleader for the worst president in American history (whom she idiotically refers to as "the most brilliant man I know") and her appointment to the Supreme Court would have been a sickening travesty. It's good thing that she's out of the running – but the manner of her leaving is almost as disturbing as her nomination itself. She was basically run out of town on a rail by Bush's own "base" (or "al Qaeda," in the more apt Arabic) of partisan, pseudo-religious cranks.

Dennis Roddy has an excellent column on the matter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Roddy goes to the source, interviewing the Rev. (sic) Rob Schenck, one of the tinpot generals leading the pseudo-Christian soldiers that have bolstered, even worshipped the corrupt and bloodstained twerp from Texas for so long. As Roddy notes, Schenk, head of the National Clergy Council, is one of the many fringe extremists "with surprising access to power players" in Bush's Washington. (continued)

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The Unsung Triumph of George W. Bush

Written by Chris Floyd 30 October 2005 12979 Hits
You know, George W. Bush gets a lot of guff these days about his "incompetence" as a war leader, with critics harping on and on about the bloodsoaked spiral of chaos, death, ruin and atrocity that continues to gush from the open wound that he has made of Iraq. But strangely enough, you never hear these nabobs of negativity talk about the indisputable success of the larger conflict that Bush has directed since his first day in office: the War on the Poor. From his smashing victory in the first Battle of the Elitist Tax Cuts to the scorching blitzkrieg triumph of the Bankruptcy Bill, Commander Bush has gone from strength to strength in his relentless crusade to grind the poor, the sick, the weak and the millions of hard-working people living on the margins into the dirt beneath his thousand-dollar boot-heel.

We here at Empire Burlesque pledge to redouble our efforts to bring President Bush's masterful leadership in the War on the Poor to the general public, breaking through the liberal media "filter" that won't tell the truth about the Leader's devastating prowess. So below are a few bulletins from the front-line (all courtesy of the indispensible Buzzflash), where you can see the Great Commander tearing through the rabble like a column of crack German Panzers.

Texas Leads Nation in Household Hunger (AP)
Congress Weighs Big Cuts to Medicaid and Medicare (NYT)
Rich Senators Defeat Minimum-Wage Hike (Helen Thomas/Hearst)
and
House Panel Votes $844 Million Cut in Food Stamps (Reuters)
(Excerpt) On a party-line vote, a Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to cut food stamps by $844 million on Friday, just hours after a new government report showed more Americans are struggling to put food on the table.

About 300,000 Americans would lose benefits due to tighter eligibility rules for food stamps, the major U.S. antihunger program, under the House plan. The cuts would be part of $3.7 billion pared from Agriculture Department programs over five years as part of government-wide spending reductions...

"This is not a giveaway program that results in windfall profits," said North Carolina Democrat G.K. Butterfield in opposing the cuts. "That is not moral. That is not American." Antihunger activists said hunger rates were up for the fifth year in a row, so the cuts were a mistake. "It is hard to imagine any congressional action that is more detached from reality," said James Weill of the Food Research and Action Center. (end)

Who cares about Valerie Plame, 2000 dead, Katrina, Harriet and all that jazz? The juggernaut rolls on!
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Gainspotting: Terror War Meets Drug War

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 23024 Hits

Here is some eminent good sense from Norm Stamper, former police chief of Seattle on how to vastly reduce crime – and America's scandalously high prison population – and, not incidentally, stanch the relentless spread of corruption throughout government and the business world, while helping to heal some of the nation's most greivous racial and class divides. What's the secret? It's simple: legalize drugs.

The Los Angeles Times is to be applauded for publishing such a provocative piece, which flies in the face of deeply entrenched (and deeply profitable) conventional wisdom – and to be condemned for trying to undercut it at the same time with a headline designed to set middle-class teeth on edge: "Let Those Dopers Be." As Stamper makes clear, you don't have to be a "doper" to see the incalcuable damage being done to American society and politics by the horrendously stupid and counterproductive "war on drugs."

Then feel free to take a hit of the piece below. This is the first installment of several excerpts from the book, "Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, 2001-2005," that we will be running in the week ahead, while your correspondent trots the globe. This is from November 2001, and shows the connection between the 30-year-old "war on drugs" and the "war on terror," then in the first bloody bloom of youth.

Gainspotting: Terror War Meets Drug War
November 30, 2001

Among the isolated, out-of-step losers who dare open their mouths to mutter "doubts" about America's military campaign in Afghanistan, you will sometimes hear the traitorous comment: "This war is just about oil."

We take stern exception to such cynical tommyrot. No one who has made a clear and dispassionate assessment of the situation in the region could possibly say the new Afghan war is "just about oil."

It's also about drugs.

For, although we must now hail the warlords of the Northern Alliance as noble defenders of civilization, the fact is that for some time they have also functioned as one of the world's biggest drug-dealing operations. Indeed, one of the main sticking points between the holy warriors of the alliance and their ideological brethren in the Taliban has been control of the profitable poppy, which by God's grace grows so plentifully in a land otherwise bereft of natural resources. (Always excepting the production of corpses.) ....

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Flop Sweat

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 6209 Hits

Having railed at the wanton criminality of the Bush Faction for so long, this site naturally partakes of the general glee arising from the looming possibility of genuine, grade-A grand jury indictments for some of the gang's top thugs.

Of course, we all know that the fix is in: if anyone in the White House is actually indicted and convicted for the high crime of exposing the identity of an undercover agent – in wartime, no less – they will certainly be pardoned when George W. Bush finally limps away from the steaming, stinking, blood-soaked ruin of his presidency. As we noted here the other day, nobody will do any hard time; in the end, the whole sick crew will simply pass through the golden revolving door into the lifetime gravy train of corporate grease and rightwing lecture-circuit glory.

Still, it is heartening to see the fever-sweat of fear popping out on the brows of these swaggering world-shakers, these third-rate goons and half-wit cranks posing as great statesmen, if only for a little while. Fear has always been their weapon of choice: they've used it to foment aggressive war, to subjugate the conquered, to crush political opposition, to manipulate the electorate, and to mask their own incompetence, corruption and greed. Now they're getting a taste of it themselves – and they can't take it.

You can see it in their darting eyes, their twitches and fidgets, you can smell it on them: the fear, the nagging worry that perhaps – just perhaps – they haven't got it all nailed down this time; that perhaps – just perhaps – the law is something more than a fancy cane to beat the poor with; that it might – just might – apply to them as well. The sight of Bush's porky puppetmaster, Karl Rove, tottering out of his fourth grand jury appearance last week, with the shadow of manacles dangling before his pinched, bloated face, was an image to warm the cockles of every American patriot's heart.

But this schadenfruede, however tasty and effervescent, is no substitute for the strong meat of justice. And even in the unlikely – not to say inconceivable – event that the entire pack of jackals gets herded into the hoosegow for the agent-outing conspiracy, it will not bring back the innocent dead murdered at their command. It will not restore the shattered families writhing in the pits of grief and loss, from Baghdad to Burbank. It will not be recompense for the pointless sacrifice of soldiers and reservists sent on a criminal errand, plunged into a brutal and brutalizing hell – for nothing, for a chimera, for ideological lunacy, for the enrichment of cats already so fat they can barely stand up and waddle to the dish for another slurp of cream.

Not unless every one of the war conspirators and their chief minions – George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice, Scooter Libby, George Tenet, Andrew Card, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Karen Hughes, John Yoo, Zalmay Khalilzad, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, Stephen Hadley, Jerry Bremer, Nicholas Calio, Richard Perle, Tony Blair and all the rest – were lined up in the public square with the entrails of their victims draped around their necks would anything approaching justice be done. But as Shakespeare told us long ago, "in the corrupted currents of this world, offence's gilded hand may shove by justice."

For while official Washington strains to read the special prosecutor's tea leaves, Bush's war crime grinds on. Last weekend saw the "passage" of the much-ballyhooed Iraqi constitution – a desperately thrown-together rigamarole that quietly preserves the special privileges for Bush's business cronies imposed by the former satrap, Bremer, while also exacerbating the violent ethnic rivalries that Bush has unleashed across the tortured land.

This "victory for democracy" – achieved, in typical Bushist fashion, through outrageously rigged vote counts, as the New York Times reports – is in fact a blueprint for disaster. The victorious Kurds will accelerate their U.S.-backed "ethnic cleansing" of the oil-rich north, while the Iranian-backed Shiite militias in the oil-rich south will accelerate their already murderous imposition of Talibanic religious rule. The once-dominant Sunni Arab minority, now marginalized and impoverished, will swell the ranks of the growing insurgency, as Baghdad and the nation's central provinces plunge further into Somali-style anarchy. Terrorist freebooters, set loose in the one of the world's most strategic locations by Bush's destruction of the Iraqi state, will continue to thrive in the chaos.

With no chance for the deliberately enfeebled central Iraqi government to take responsibility for the nation's security, American forces will remain knee-deep in the quagmire, killing and being killed without rhyme or reason – or hope of escape. Indeed, Bush is already signaling "a longer, broader conflict" in his speeches on the war, the NY Times reports. There is no "exit strategy" because Bush has never intended to leave. The installation of a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq has been the war conspirators' loudly proclaimed goal for many years, long before Bush was shoehorned into power – as we have noted here incessantly since 2002, citing chapter and verse from their own publications.

This is why they lied their way into war, this is why they outed a CIA agent whose husband exposed one of their lies: to pursue their dream of "global dominance," of endless war profiteering and oil baksheesh. The prosecutor might give them a pinch, but the damage is already done: the dead will stay dead, the maimed will stay maimed, the tortured will never escape their nightmares. And the killing, the wounding and torment will go on.

A version of this column will appear in the Oct. 21 edition of the Moscow Times.

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Going Nuclear for Fun and Profit

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 6716 Hits

It seems the uber-macho pair of Bush and Blair (one a prep school cheerleader, the other nicknamed "Emily" by his schoolmates) are limbering up for more he-man action on the warfront -- this time against Iran. Although, as the Guardian reports, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors have found that Iran is now in compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Bush and Blair strongarmed the IAEA board into overruling their own experts and referring Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council. Now we are hearing the exact same noises we heard before the invasion of Iraq: somber warnings that this is Iran's "last chance to avoid war," with the bloated thug that Bush has installed at the UN, John Bolton, belching that old standby at the Security Council: do what we want or you will lose your "revelance" -- and we'll "solve the problem" on our own.

The Guardian's Dan Plesch has much more on these alarming, if little noted developments -- which have been greatly exacerbated by a recent spate of terrorist bombings in Iran. These terrorist attacks followed hard upon Blair's public declaration that Iran has been providing Iraqi insurgents with sophisticated bombing technology that has killed several British soldiers. Naturally, Blair offered no evidence for this charge; the last time he tried this evidence thing, with the "sexed-up dossier" before the Iraq War, it just backfired on him. Much neater just to open your mouth and spew charges without any substance, the way Georgie does it. Of course, as Juan Cole, among others, points out, Blair's charge makes little sense: Why would Iran, which is closely aligned with the Shiite parties that dominate Iraq's new government, support Sunni rebels in their attempt to overthrow the Iranian-allied regime?

At any rate, someone has started a terrorist campaign inside Iran at the same time the Cheerleader and Emily have begun waggling their little swords again. (And according to the Telegraph of India, "top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that the US has plans to invade Iran before Bush’s term ends.") And once again, the question of nuclear proliferation is at the center of the storm. Certainly nuclear proliferation is an unmitigated evil in this world -- but that doesn't mean you can't make money from it.  Below, in another excerpt from the Empire Burlesque book, we see how the old warlord himself, Don Rumsfeld, make a pile of cash by dealing nuke-stuff to what is certainly one of the worst regimes on the face of the earth: North Korea. And he pocketed this tainted coin while he was supposedly leading the fight against, er, nuclear proliferation in North Korea. So take a gander at the instructive tale below, keeping in mind one burning (or glowing) question: Which Bushists are making money from Iran's nuclear program? Besides, of course, the usual masters of war who benefit from the increased "defense" spending when the macho men grease up for another fight.

Swing Blades: Big Don Rumsfeld Bats for Both Teams
February 28, 2003

It's a well-known fact – oft detailed in these pages – that the boys in the Bush Regime swing both ways. We speak, of course, of their proclivity – their apparently uncontrollable craving – for stuffing their trousers with loot from both sides of whatever war or military crisis is going at the moment.

That's why it came as no surprise to read last week that just before he joined the Regime's crusade against evildoers everywhere (especially rogue states that pursue the development of terrorist-ready weapons of mass destruction), Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld was trousering the proceeds from a $200 million deal to send the latest nuclear technology – including plenty of terrorist-ready "dirty bomb" material – to the rogue state of North Korea, the Swiss paper Neue Zurcher Zeitung reports.

In 1998, Rumsfeld was citizen chairman of the Congressional Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, charged with reducing nuclear proliferation. Rumsfeld and the Republican-heavy commission came down hard on the deal Bill Clinton had brokered with North Korea to avert a war in 1994: Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for normalized relations with the United States, plus the construction of two non-weaponized nuclear plants to generate electricity. The plants were to be built by an international consortium of government-backed business interests called KEDO.

Rum deal, said Rummy: those nasty Northies would surely turn the peaceful nukes to nefarious ends. What's more, even the most innocuous nuclear plant generates mounds of radioactive waste that could be made into "dirty bombs" – hand-carried  weapons capable of killing thousands of people. The agreement was big bad juju that threatened the whole world, Rumsfeld declared.

Of course, that didn't prevent him from trying to profit from it. Even while he chairing commission meetings on the "dire threat" posed by the Korean program, Rumsfeld was junketing to Zurich for board meetings of the Swiss-based energy technology giant, ABB, where he was a top director. And what was ABB doing at the time? Why, negotiating that $200 million deal with North Korea to provide equipment and services for the KEDO nuclear reactors, of course!...

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Logical Conclusions: Taking the True Measure of the Situation

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 4516 Hits

Not a day goes by without someone in the Bush Gang telling us that things are "getting better" in Iraq, that every new terrorist bombing or insurgent attack is actually evidence that "the insurgency is weakening," growing more desperate, in its "final throes". (Even if, as Condi Rice notes, those throes may last for 10 years or more.)

Of course, we've been seeing this same witless cud dribbling out of Bushist mouths for years now. Below, in an excerpt from the Empire Burlesque book, we see this logical conclusions applied, er, logically, to other great moments in history.

Logical Conclusions: Taking the True Measure of the Situation
November 6, 2003

The President, speaking a day after attacks in Iraq killed at least 35 people, said such attacks should be seen as a sign of progress because they showed the desperation of those who oppose the U.S.-led occupation. "The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," Bush said. "The more progress we make on the ground…the more desperate these killers become." – Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2003

"In a long hard war, we're going to have tragic days," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said [after 16 American soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down by Iraqi insurgents]. "But they're necessary. They're part of a war that's difficult and complicated." -- Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2003

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Chicago Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson the day after members of Al Capone's gang murdered seven people in a slaughter already being dubbed the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. "The more progress we make on the ground, restoring safety and security to our neighborhoods, the more desperate these killers become. Sure, they're killing more people now, running more scams, selling more hootch, breaking more legs –  but any expert will tell you that the more successful you are in fighting crime, the more, er, crime you have on the street. It's tragical, but these murders are necessary. It shows we're doing our job."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Japanese Prime Minister Kuniaki Koiso, the day after 100,000 civilians were killed in a single night during the firebombing of Tokyo by American forces. "The more progress we make in our East Asia Prosperity Sphere, liberating nations from their repressive colonial regimes and bringing them the blessings of free trade and open markets, the more desperate these killers become. That flesh-devouring rain of fiery hell yesterday should be seen as a sign of our progress! We mourn for these deaths, of course, but they're necessary. They're part of a war that's difficult and complicated."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said U.S. General George Custer, in a battlefield interview during a brief lull in what he termed "a light skirmish" with Indian forces at Little Big Horn. "The more progress we make, liberating these poor people from their oppression by unelected chiefs, bringing them all the benefits of democracy, freedom and open markets, the more desperate these 'dead-enders' like Sitting Bull become. Sure, we're losing a few boys here today," said Custer, pausing to pull a arrow from the bleeding eye socket of his adjutant, "but that's necessary. It's all part of a war that's difficult and complicated."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Napoleon Bonaparte, the day after a dawn raid by Russian partisans killed 50 French soldiers in a rearguard action outside Smolensk. "The more progress we make in bringing the Continental system of open markets and free trade to this benighted land, liberating the serfs from their oppression, fostering the development of a thriving modern society – and protecting our own security from the threat of this unstable, autocratic regime – the more desperate these terrorists become. I know the critics out there in the 'media filter' say we had no real plan after capturing Moscow, and that our current strategic re-positioning is some kind of retreat or 'quagmire.' But I always said regime change in Russia would be a long, hard slog. Sure, we'll have tragic days like this. But they're necessary. It's all part of a war that's difficult and complicated. And if these so-called partisans want to attack us, my answer is: Bring 'em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Prescott Bush, director of Union Banking Corporation, the day after a raid by British bombers damaged operations of UBC's Silesian American Corporation near Oswiecim, Poland. "The more progress we make on the ground, creating jobs and increasing profits for our German partners and our shareholders in the Homeland, the more desperate these killers become. Our freedom-loving friends in Berlin have liberated this suffering land, bringing the blessings of free trade and open markets to the entire region. No longer are foreign investors bound by the onerous quasi-socialistic labor practices of the dead and discarded past. Instead, the forward-looking liberators are now supplying us with a skilled workforce of non-remunerated employees whose strong ethnic ties make for a happy and enthusiastic workplace. As we like to say at Oswiecim: Work will make you free!

"True, millions of people are dying in the unfortunate misunderstanding that has arisen between our free-market German partners and the pinko scumbags of the Roosevelt Administration," Bush continued, "but that's necessary. It should be seen as a sign of progress. I'm sure that whatever happens – even if, say, our assets are seized by the United States government under the Trading with the Enemy Act or some such – we will not be charged as traitors, collaborators or sugar daddies for Hitler, but will actually have our assets returned after the war so we can cash them in and launch a family political dynasty based on war profiteering and military aggression. It's all just part of a war that is difficult and complicated."

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"Broken Light": Work, for the Night is Coming

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 8821 Hits

Below is the epilogue from the Empire Burlesque book, providing a glimpse of the ultimate viewpoint from the which the book, and this blog, is written. Most of the chapter was originally published as a column in the Moscow Times.

Broken Light: Work, For the Night is Coming

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.

 Why?

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 other 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.

It takes ten million forms, could be in anything – a rustle of leaves, the tang of salt, a bending blues note, the sweep of shadows on a tin roof, the catch in a voice, the touch of a hand, a line from Mandelshtam. Any particular, specific combination of ever-shifting elements, always unrepeatable in its exact effect and always momentary. Because that's all there is, that's all we have – the moments.

The moments, and their momentary power – a power without the power of resistance, defenseless, provisional, unarmed, imperfect, bold. The ape-world's cycle of war and retribution stands as the image of the world of power; what can serve as the emblem of this other reality? A kiss, perhaps: given to a lover, offered to a friend, bestowed on an enemy – or pressed to the brow of a murdered child.

Both worlds are within us, of course, like two quantum states of reality, awaiting our choice to determine which will be actuated, which will define the very nature of being – individually and in the aggregate, moment by moment. This is our constant task, for as long as the universe exists in the electrics of our brains: to redeem each moment or let it fall. Some moments will be won, many more lost; there is no final victory. There is only the task.

We drink you at morning and midday; we drink you at night

So do we counsel fatalism, a dark, defeated surrender, a retreat into bitter, curdled quietude? Not a whit. We advocate action, positive action, unstinting action, doing the only thing that human beings can do, ever: Try this, try that, try something else again; discard those approaches that don't work, that wreak havoc, that breed death and cruelty; fight against everything that would draw us down again into our own mud; expect no quarter, no lasting comfort, no true security; offer no last word, no eternal truth, but just keep stumbling, falling, careening, backsliding, crawling toward the broken light.

And what is this "broken light"? Nothing more than a metaphor for the patches of understanding – awareness, attention, knowledge, connection – that break through our darkness and stupidity for a moment now and then. A light always fractured, under threat, shifting, found then lost again, always lost. For we are creatures steeped in imperfection, in breakage and mutation, tossed up – very briefly – from the boiling, chaotic crucible of Being, itself a ragged work in progress toward unknown ends, or rather, toward no particular end at all. Why should there be an "answer" in such a reality?

This and this alone is the only "ideology" behind these writings, which try at all times to fight against the compelling but ignorant delusion that any single economic or political or religious system – indeed, any kind of system at all devised by the seething jumble of the human mind – can completely encompass the infinite variegations of existence. What matters is what works – what pulls us from our own darkness as far as possible, for as long as possible. Yet the truth remains that "what works" is always and forever only provisional – what works now, here, might not work there, then. What saves our soul today might make us sick tomorrow.

Thus all we can do is to keep looking, working, trying to clear a little more space for the light, to let it shine on our passions and our confusions, our anger and our hopes, informing and refining them, so that we can see each other better, for a moment – until death shutters all seeing forever.
 
We drink and we drink.

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Render Unto Caesar: The End of Law

Written by Chris Floyd 01 November 2005 6463 Hits

As oft noted here, Colin Powell is one of the consummate liars of the age. But last week, in an extraordinary development, his former chief of staff did something almost unheard of in official Washington, especially from an ex-high muckity-muck in the Bush Regime: he spoke the truth.

And what a truth. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson confirmed, openly, what Bush critics have been saying for years: that the regime of systematic torture that has been established in Bush's worldwide Terror War gulag was instigated and condoned by the White House. Here's a quote, from the FT:

"The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was 'a concrete example' of the decision-making problem, [Wilkerson said],with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.'"

The colonel had more hot beans to spill about how the "cabal" of Cheney and Rumsfeld "hijacked" the government and ran circles around their clueless and incurious boss; you can find it all here. But of course, in so many ways, this is old news: torture, rendition, wanton, murderous lawlessness in the highest reaches of the Bush government. Below, in another excerpt from the "Empire Burlesque" book, you can see how all these things were operating very early on in the Terror War -- operating in broad daylight, where any member of the media/political Establishment could have seen it, and tried to stop it, or at the very least spoke out against it. But as we now know, our high and mighty ones, our good and great, our eminent worthies, turned a blind eye and kept a closed mouth as the atrocities mounted.

And while we applaud Colonel Wilkerson's candor now, we also must ask: Where was he then? And why did he keep silent as his own boss helped facilitate the ultimate international crime of aggressive war?

Render Unto Caesar: The End of Law
March 15, 2002

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Freedom's Just Another Word for Blowing up Buddhas and Killing People

Written by Chris Floyd 19 October 2005 13965 Hits

The peculiar understanding of "liberation" that George W. Bush imposes upon the countries he conquers was on vivid display in Afghanistan this week. AP reports that the Taliban wild man in charge of blowing up two giant, 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha in 2001 -- an unconscionable crime against culture, against history, indeed, against humanity -- has been duly elected to parliament, where he will add his wise voice to the guidance of policy in the regime of warlords, druglords and virulent extremists installed by Bush.

No doubt the Rt. Hon. Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, MP -- former governor of Bamiyan province -- will work comfortably with President Hamid Karzai, whose "religious adviser," Mohaiuddin Baluch, has been busy jailing magazine editors who dare speak up for women's rights, religious freedom and protection from barbaric punishment. Baluch has also been keeping an eye -- a very close, focused, intense, riveted eye -- on Afghan hussies who are appearing "half-naked" in beauty pageants around the world. Their actions are "illegal under Islamic law," says Baluch, who will doubtless have the expatriate harlots jailed should they ever return to their homeland.

The Buddha-busting MP will also approve of Karzai's use of secret executions to silence whistleblowers who threaten to spill the blood-dripping beans about his partners in Bushpower. The International Herald Tribune reported this disturbing story last year -- a scandal involving mass murder, wanton terror and gruesome atrocities. Naturally, this dull subject matter was completely ignored by the American media, which at that time was fixated on the all-important question of John Kerry's 35-year-old war wounds. But as Patricia Gossman reported, Karzai's premptory execution of Abdullah Shah put the kibosh on attempts to unearth the truth of Afghanistan's anguished past -- and the key role played by Bush-backed warlords in causing that anguish.

Excerpts: Shah was widely known to be a commander under Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the leader of a militia that human rights groups say was involved in mass rape and the disappearance of hundreds of people.
 
When I interviewed Shah in jail in February, he did not deny his part in war crimes, but said Sayyaf gave the orders. He did not ask for release or claim that he was innocent - only that he be transferred to the custody of another ministry where he might have some protection from what he said were plans to silence him....

Since the defeat of the Taliban, Sayyaf has had extraordinary power over Karzai. Shortly after the interim government was established in December 2001, Sayyaf leaned on Karzai to appoint as Supreme Court chief justice Mawlavi Fazl Hadi Shinwari, an extremely conservative former head of a religious school in Pakistan. Shinwari has since appointed like-minded mullahs as judges across Afghanistan, with the power to ban any law they deem contrary to the "beliefs and provisions" of Islam.
 
In a revealing move, Shinwari said that Shah should be executed, even before the trial was over. And the trial, Amnesty International said, fell short of international standards: Shah had no defense counsel and witnesses were not subject to cross-examination. The execution, Amnesty said, "may have been an attempt by powerful political players to eliminate a key witness to human rights abuses." [End excerpt]

Ignorance, repression, brutality, corruption, extremism, violence and death: this is what Bush means by "freedom," in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in that other sad and broken land he conquered: the United States of America.

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