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Freeze Frame: Flopsweat and Farce in the Hollow Halls of Power

Yet another day, yet another bout of liberal handwringing over yet another jilting by Barack Obama. This time, their hero has let them down with his planned freeze on "discretionary" spending. (Which doesn’t include funding for the war machine and the security organs, of course; as always, that’s "imperative" spending – we are allowed no "discretion" whatsoever when it comes to gorging our fat cats on blood money and fear-profiteering.) Tuesday morning saw no less than five major pieces on decrying Obama’s "panic," his unworkable "gimmick" which will "doom the economic recovery," his "farce" in repeating Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937

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The Silence and the Shield: Depraved Indifference to the Atrocities of Power

Scott Horton draws tellingly on Auden and Homer in this follow-up to his remarkable piece, "The Guantanamo ‘Suicides’," the story of three captives – all of them innocent men, cleared for later release – who were almost certainly murdered in a secret site in the American concentration camp in 2006, apparently for protesting prison conditions. (We examined Horton’s story here.) The men were evidently killed during "strenuous interrogation" — i.e., they had rags stuffed down their throat while being beaten. When they died, a ludicrous story of a mutual suicide pact — under impossible physical conditions — was concocted by

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See Rome: Innocents Die as Imperial Pot Boils

Barack Obama has come out swinging following his party’s rout in Massachusetts, vowing to "fight Wall Street" with a "populist" proposal whose main thrust seems to be the reinstatement of some of the common-sense regulations imposed almost 80 years ago to separate banks and investment firms. (I say "seems to be," because one can only guess what, if anything, Obama really intends to do about the matter. For despite the usual elevated rhetoric, he is, as usual, "leaving crucial details to be hashed out by Congress," as the NY Times reports. And we know how populist those paladins can be

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Terrorism Defined: Bill Clinton Lights Our Way to Truth

For years, the all-consuming international struggle against the scourge of terrorism has been hampered at times by the fact that no one has been able to provide us with a rock-solid, comprehensive definition of the term. What, exactly, is “terrorism?” Great minds have grappled with this question in learned journals, academic symposia, think-tank fora, government entmoots, and across the commanding heights of the media. The matter is of some moment, as any person or organization to whom this ill-defined label is applied automatically becomes a target for “the path of action,” to borrow the stirring phraseology of former U.S. president

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Critical Mass: Dem Agenda Opens Right-Wing Doors

Democrats and progressives are crying doom over the party’s defeat in Massachusetts. The loss, we’re told, is a blow to Barack Obama’s political agenda, and so it is. They say it’s a shame that yet another rightwing zealot who advocates torture is now in the Senate, and so it is. But it is precisely that agenda that led to the loss, and the shame. It is that agenda which has resurrected a rightwing party that was dead in the water, and empowered its most extreme elements. And what is Barack Obama’s agenda? What is his political program? It breaks down

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Death by Bottleneck: Musclebound Militarism Hampers Haiti Relief

With international turf battles and diplomatic spats slowing the distribution of food, water, medicine and security in Haiti, the stricken people are now fleeing to the countryside. This may actually help the situation in one sense, as it might be easier to get aid to more people in unruined areas; however, it will also put a great strain on regions which are themselves mired in poverty and deprivation, and lacking in infrastructure. Meanwhile, in Port-au-Prince,  as aid begins to trickle in, anguished medical professionals are lamenting the multitude of unnecessary deaths that the bureaucratic bottlenecks have caused. As the Guardian

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Dark as a Dungeon: A Brutal System Stripped Bare

If you really want to know the truth about the sickening wretches who run our country, if you want to know exactly what they will commit, what they will command, what they will countenance and conceal, all the way to the very top of the blood-greased pole of the Oval Office, then read every word of this astounding piece by Scott Horton in the new edition of Harper’s: "The Guantanomo ‘Suicides.’" This is a full-length article which the magazine is making available for free on its website. In it, Horton unfolds the story of three men, almost certainly innocent, who

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What I Can Do

What I Can Do Sometimes in life’s threadbare curtain A glint of hard truth will shine on through And if you need to share that dreadful burden Let me see what I can do Let me see what I can do I don’t know how much you’ve suffered It would probably break me if I knew But before the storm engulfs you Let me see what I can do Let me see what I can do Can you tell me how to tell you The secrets that could set us free Can you tell me how to touch you And

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Fractured Narrative: Haitian Calm, American Cynicism

One can almost feel the disappointment amongst Western media mavens that earthquake-stricken Haitians have not, in fact, degenerated into packs of feral animals tearing each other to pieces. Day after day, every single possible isolated incident of panic, anger, “looting” (as the removal of provisions from ruined stores by starving people is called) and vigilantism has been highlighted — and often headlined — by the most “respectable” news sources. [As you can imagine, Britain’s truly vile — but eminently “respectable” and politically pampered — Daily Mail is a leader in this odious field, with stories about “slum warlords” leading gangs

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King for a Day

To mark the day set aside to honor that cuddly, kindly American hero of yesteryear, we offer this paraphrase from Woody Allen: "If Martin Luther King Jr. came back and saw the things being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up."

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