Ernest Partridge's Blog -- 2005
More Ernest Partridge Blogs:
January 2, 2005
BUMPER STICKER: “Better ten thousands die, than George Bush admit a
a. “Democratic countries do not wage aggressive wars.” (George W.
b. The US is waging an aggressive war in Iraq.
c. Ergo: The US is not a democracy.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew, 5:9)
So, shouldn’t faithful Christians be reluctant to endorse and be involved in
Not at all, says Rev. Jerry Falwell. In fact,
“God is Pro-War.”
The good Reverend instructs us:
Christians have struggled with the issue of war for centuries. Before
Jesus arrived on he scene, all good people wrestled with war and the
existence of evil. Thankfully, the Bible is not silent on the subject...
Many present-day pacifists hold Jesus as their example for unvarying
peace. But they ignore the full revelation concerning Jesus pictured in
the book of Revelation 19, where He is depicted bearing a “sharp sword”
and smiting nations, ruling them with “a rod of iron.”
Moreover, the Song of Victory in Exodus15 hails God as a God of war: “...
The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.” And, as the verses [in
Ecclesiastes] that open this column indicate, there is indeed a time for
God actually strengthened individuals for war, including Moses, Joshua and
many of the Old Testament judges who demonstrated great faith in battle.
And God destroyed many armies challenging the Israelites. I Chronicles
14:15 describes God striking down the Philistines.
Read the column and you will find that in support of the “warrior
God,” Falwell cites the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. There is
no citation from the Gospels, or from the Epistles that follow. Small
wonder. I doubt that there is a recorded word from the mouth of Jesus
that sanctions war. (In Matthew 10:34, Jesus says “I came not to send peace,
but a sword.” But this is a prophecy of hard times ahead – not a call for
his followers to lift up their swords). Quite the contrary, Jesus instructs
us to “love our enemies,” (Matthew 5:44), to “turn the other cheek” and to
“resist not evil.” (Matthew 5:39).
The Old Testament is quite another story, for it is soaked with the blood of
the unfortunate tribes -- the citizens of Jericho, the Philistines and the
Midianites -- that stood in the way of the conquering “armies of The Lord.”
As for the book of Revelations – the ravings of the madman of Patmos –
Falwell and his Rapturite brethren interpret that book as a prophecy that
The Lord, in his infinite love and mercy, will soon cast into eternal
damnation and torment, every human soul who ever lived, except those very
few who happen to share Jerry Falwell’s religious convictions.
To Falwell and his literalist ilk, there is One God, of one mind, who wrote
(through various prophets) every inerrant word of the Bible. So if we have
trouble reconciling a God who sanctions the parental execution of
disobedient children (Deut. 21:18), the stoning non-virginal brides (Deut.
22:13), or those who work on the Sabbath (Ex. 35:2) – a God who also
commands the genocidal slaughter of whole cities and tribes – with the
loving and forgiving God described in the Gospels, well that merely proves,
as St. Paul counsels, that “the wisdom of God” appears as foolishness to us
mere mortals. (I Cor. 1:21).
There is another view of The Bible, shared by most historians and biblical
scholars (all of whom are, of course, condemned to be thrown into the fiery
pit of Hell). According to this perspective, The Bible is not, strictly
speaking “a book” – it is an anthology of books written over the span of
about 800 years, by unknown or little-known authors, and distorted by
numerous translations and editings. Instead of giving us a unified code of
morality, these books portray a maturation of morality, through historical
ages, from a savage tribalism and constraining legalism of the Old
Testament, evolving, among the minor prophets late in the Old Testament and
into the New Testament, into an ethic of pacifism, humility, compassion and
universal inclusiveness. Jesus of Nazareth spoke of this moral maturation
when, as in The Sermon on the Mount, he repeatedly said: “It hath been
said...., but I say unto you....” (See for yourself: its in Matthew, Ch. 5).
That moral evolution as depicted through the books of The Bible is itself an
inspiring moral lesson, though not of the sort that the fundamentalists
recognize and endorse. But because these books contain a wide spectrum of
moral messages, those who regard each verse as equally infallible, while
unperturbed by flat-out inconsistency, can find therein “scriptural
justification” for all sorts of abominable beliefs – for example, the belief
that “God is pro-war.”
Though I am confident that Rev. Falwell would have no inclination to follow
the advice of this sinner and agnostic, I would still urge him, and those
persuaded by his worship of a "warrior God," to contemplate two passages of
scripture, one from the Old Testament, and the other from the New Testament.
He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong
nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and
their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against
nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and
none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath
For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will
walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.”
Note above: “... every one in the name of
his god,” and the
implied message of religious toleration.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world.
For I was hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me
drink: I was a stranger, and yet took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in
prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an
hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you,
inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have
done it unto me.
Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave
me no drink.
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not:
sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying Lord, when saw we thee an
hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and
did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily say unto you, Inasmuch as ye
did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous
into life eternal.
If, as the fundamentalists believe (and I do not), each soul in the
hereafter must appeal for its salvation before the throne of the Almighty,
I’d venture that the Reverends Falwell, Robertson, Sheldon, and their kind
will be quite amazed and horrified when they are directed to “the left hand”
and reminded: “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye
did it not to me.”
PostScript: Quoth the Reverend Falwell:
Some reading this column will surely ask, “Doesn’t the sixth
commandment say, ‘Thou shalt not kill?’”
Actually, no; it says: “Thou shalt not commit murder.”
Sorry, Rev., but my Bible says “Thou shalt not
kill.” (Exodus 20:13).
(Same with the King James and the Revised Standard translations). Falwell
reputedly preaches that every word in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
Is he “improving upon” God’s “inerrant word” here?
The Furriners Get it Right
The latest [global
Market Insite] poll found that more than two thirds of European and
Canadian consumers have had a negative change in their view of the United
States as a result of U.S. foreign policy over the last three years.
Nearly half believe that the war in Iraq was motivated by a desire to
control oil supplies, while only 15 percent believed it was related to
Nearly two thirds of European and Canadian consumers also said they
believe U.S. foreign policy is guided primarily by self-interest and
empire-building, while only 17 percent believe that the defense of freedom
and democracy is its guiding principle.
Half of the entire sample said they distrusted U.S. companies, at least in
part because of the U.S. foreign policy. Seventy-nine percent said they
distrusted the U.S. government for the same reason, while 39 percent said
they distrusted the American public.
Are Cut-Throat Competitors, Cutting Their Own Throats?
Those of you who have seen
the “Buy Blue” lists, (e.g., at
“Donkey Rising”) may have noticed that a disproportionate number of
gasoline companies, consumer electronics chains, hotels and restaurants
contribute heavily to the Republicans.
What are they thinking? Don’t they realize that by supporting Bush
and his policies, they’ve booked passage on the Titanic?
Here’s why. As we well know, Bushenomics is “reverse Robin-Hoodism:”
it takes from the poor (and the middle class) and gives to the rich.
For example, over the past four years, the median family income has dropped
by some $1500, as the costs of medical care, insurance, gasoline, and other
basic necessities have risen. At the same time, consumer debt has also
This can’t go on. Sooner or later, and most likely sooner, consumer debt
will “max out,” and as disposable cash moves out of the pockets of the
masses and into the portfolios and offshore accounts of the super-rich, the
economy must slow down – and quite possible cascade down into a depression.
As payments for necessities – food, shelter, clothing, heating, health care
– must be met, luxuries will be foregone. Families will “wait one more year”
before buying another car, and that car may have to be purchased from a
used-car lot. Vacations will be cancelled or downgraded. There will be fewer
“nights out” and fewer purchases of electronic gadgets. (See my
The problem is compounded by the falling value of the dollar, brought on by
Bush’s massive federal deficits. As the dollar drops, the cost of imported
goods (which means most electronic and computer components) rises.
And so, the first industries to be effected by an economic slowdown, will be
those aforementioned gasoline, consumer electronic, hotel, entertainment and
Somehow, in their short-sighted greed for still more tax breaks for the
wealthy or their craving for de-regulation (or whatever else may have
motivated their contributions to the Republicans), these GOP fat-cats seem
to have forgotten a simple but inescapable economic law: there can be no
sales without buyers. And a public with increasing debt and decreasing
disposable income is less able to purchase "dispensable" good and services.
Is all that too complicated for these business geniuses to understand?
If all this theory will not persuade, history repeatedly teaches us that
short sighted class warfare of the rich against the masses works to the
disadvantage of all. Under Clinton, stock prices tripled, as the federal
budget eventually produced surpluses and the dollar held its value. Under
Bush stock prices have been stagnant, federal deficits have soared, and the
dollar is falling.
Arthur Blaustein asks, "are Republicans better economic managers than
Democrats?" The answer:
Guess which president since World War II did best on these eight most
generally accepted measures of good management of the nation's economy.
You can choose among six Republicans — Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M.
Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bushes 41 and 43 — and five Democrats —
Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and
Clinton. Which president produced:
1. The highest growth in the gross domestic product?
2. The highest growth in jobs?
3. The biggest increase in personal disposable income after taxes?
4. The highest growth in industrial production?
5. The highest growth in hourly wages?
6. The lowest misery index (inflation plus unemployment)?
7. The lowest inflation?
8. The largest reduction in the deficit?
The answers are:
1-Truman; 2-Clinton; 3-Johnson; 4-Kennedy; 5-Johnson; 6-Truman;
7-Truman; 8-Clinton. In other words, Democratic presidents trounced
Republicans eight out of eight. If this isn't enough to destroy the
perception that the economy has performed better under Republicans, then
let's include stock market performance under Democrats. The Dow Jones
Industrial Average during the 20th century rose an average of 7.3% a year
under Republican presidents. Under Democrats, it jumped 10.3%, a whopping
41% gain for investors. During George W. Bush's first three years as
president, the stock market declined 4%."
Michael Kinsley concurs:
"It turns out that Democratic presidents have a much better [economic]
record than Republicans. They win a head-to-head comparison in almost
every category. Real growth averaged 4.09 percent in Democratic years,
2.75 percent in Republican years. Unemployment was 6.44 percent on average
under Republican presidents and 5.33 percent under Democrats. The federal
government spent more under Republicans than Democrats (20.87 percent of
gross domestic product, compared with 19.58 percent), and that remains
true even if you exclude defense (13.76 for the Democrats; 14.97 for the
Republicans). What else? Inflation was lower under Democratic presidents
(3.81 percent on average, compared with 4.85 percent). And annual deficits
took more than twice as much of GDP under Republicans as under Democrats
(2.74 percent versus 1.21 percent)." (See also Mark Hulbert:
Pop quiz on
the markets: Which is better, GOP or Democrats?, CBS.MarketWatch.com, November 13, 2002).
Why is this? Put simply, it appears that the Democrats’ policy is to feed
the golden goose. The Republicans, on the other hand, prefer to cook it. In
other words, the Democrats, by looking after the needs and interest of the
producers of wealth – workers, educators, researchers -- nourish the
economy. Republicans starve the economy by exploiting it.
Even if, as the progressives complain, the Republicans and The Right are
deaf to appeals to compassion and economic justice, one would suppose that
they might be moved by appeals to their self interest, and that they would
support the party which, as history confirms, best serves that
But then, the Bush team no longer claims to be “reality based.”
February 1, 2005
A postscript to my reprised essay,
“Creationism and the Devolution of the Intellect.”
The persistent fundamentalist opposition to the Theory of Evolution, despite
overwhelming evidence and the universal acceptance by all life scientists,
reminds me of similar dogmatic resistance to Galileo’s scientific advances.
In his monumental History of Western Philosophy, W. T. Jones
describes Galileo’s encounter with his colleagues at the University of
When invited by Galileo to look through the newly invented telescope
and see for themselves the satellites of Jupiter, they refused. They knew
that Jupiter could not have satellites; hence what Galileo reported that
we saw could only be witchcraft or sleight of hand. After all, the whole
universe demonstrated again and again the importance that God has assigned
the number seven. It was therefore sacrilegious and against all reason to
suppose that there could be more than seven heavenly bodies.
The Paduan Philosophers’ thus argued:
There are seven windows given to animals in the domicile of the
head.... From this and many other similarities in nature, such as the
seven metals, etc., which it were tedious to enumerate, we gather that the
number of planets is necessarily seven. Moreover, these [alleged]
satellites of Jupiter are invisible to the naked eye, and therefore can
exercise no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless, and
therefore do not exist. Besides, [from the earliest times, men] have
adopted the division of the week into seven days, and have named them
after the seven planets. Now, if we increase the number of the planets,
this whole and beautiful system falls to the ground.
Plus ça change, plus la même chose!
(W. T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, Second Edition, Vol. 3,
Harcourt Brace and World, 1969, p. 101).
Some Enduring Wisdom from Will Pitt. (No, not that
In November 18, 1777, William Pitt wrote the following letter to the
House of Lords. It was titled, “An English Plea For Peace With The American
My Lords, this ruinous and ignominious situation, where we cannot act
with success, nor suffer with honour, calls upon us to remonstrate in the
strongest and loudest language of truth, to rescue the ear of Majesty from
the delusions which surround it. You cannot, I venture to say, you CANNOT
conquer America. What is your present situation there? We do not know the
worst; but we know that in three campaigns we have done nothing and
suffered much. You may swell every expense, and strain every effort, still
more extravagantly; accumulate every assistance you can beg or borrow;
traffic and barter with every pitiful German Prince, that sells and sends
his subjects to the shambles of a foreign country: your efforts are
forever vain and impotent-doubly so from this mercenary aid on which you
rely; for it irritates to an incurable resentment the minds of your
enemies, to overrun them with the sordid sons of rapine and of plunder,
devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty!
If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was
landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms! Never! Never! Never!
Are the Iraqi “insurgents” all that different from our patriot forebears?
(Thanks to Allen L. Roland for bringing this quotation to our attention).
February 17, 2005
A Warning from Easter Island
UCLA Geographer, Jared Diamond, is the author of the best selling book
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In a lecture
last month at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Dr. Diamond explained
how the Polynesian society on Easter Island collapsed when all the trees on
that once-heavily forested island were cut down.
Diamond then asked: "what do you think the Easter Islander ... said as
he was chopping down that last tree? ... I wonder if he said, 'never fear,
technology will solve our problems, we'll find a substitute for wood.' Or
perhaps he said, 'your environmental models are untested, we need more
research. Action would be premature. You are fear mongers.' Or perhaps he
said, 'this is my tree and this is my land, and I'll do with it as I please
I'm here to maximize a profit. Get the big government of the chiefs off my
"Maybe it was one of those three things [that caused] the collapse of Easter
Petroleum is the primary energy source upon which industrialized society
depends. It now appears nearly certain that sometime in the next decade,
world oil production will "peak," after which the price of oil, and hence
almost all other commodities, will rise sharply. When the energy required to
extract the oil approaches the amount of energy contained in the oil,
industrial civilization will collapse, resulting in the death of billions of
human beings. (See my
"The Oil Trap").
Unless the industrialized nations embark immediately upon a massive and
sustained effort to reduce oil consumption and to develop the "next" source
This is not the policy of those Texas "oil-men," Bush and Cheney. Instead,
their "solution" is to invade foreign countries and to seize their oil.
If successful, it can only postpone the inevitable catastrophe. And
there is every indication that the Bush-Cheney "solution" will not succeed.
And why won't they face the hard facts and respond appropriately to the
catastrophic threat immediately before us?
Listen closely, and you may find that they are sounding very much like
Prof. Diamond's Easter Islander, hacking away at that last tree.
The Judicial Conundrum
There is a great deal of concern that after the Bush-Cheney regime leaves
office, their legacy will include a Supreme Court and a Federal Judiciary
that are overwhelmingly right-wing-regressive. (I refuse to call them
Will there be no remedy for this?
Here's a thought: Just suppose that, at long last, it is proven that the
Presidency and the Congress were "stolen" in 2000, 2002, and 2004, by voting
fraud, accomplished through the secret ("proprietary") source codes and the
paperless e-voting machines, owned and programmed by GOP supporters.
Might not a "counter-revolutionary" Congress and administration then enact
and enforce legislation that would decree that the Bush-Cheney
administration was illegitimate, and thus the judicial appointments of that
administration null and void?
The courts, of course, would attempt to over-rule such legislation, after
which all Hell would break loose.
Admittedly, this sounds like a fantasy. But consider: who could have
imagined just four years ago that we would be experiencing the political
nightmare that we find today. And today's conditions are just a snapshot
along a road that will probably lead to still worse horrors ahead.
In any case, we're in for a rough ride!
"Scandal?" What "Scandal?"
In an excellent article severely critical of the Bush administration and
Craig Roberts writes:
The conservative media will never recover from its role as Chief
Sycophant for the Bush administration. Journalists who demanded that
Clinton be held accountable for a minor sex scandal (Monica Lewinsky) and a minor financial scandal (Whitewater) now serve as apologists and
propagandists for the Bush administration's major war scandals. (EP
Dizikes writes: "Here are 34 scandals from the first four years of
George W. Bush's presidency -- every one of them worse than Whitewater."
Kennedy Jr. falls into the trap: "Sleazy scoundrels ... make the
endlessly broadcast Clinton-Whitewater scandal look like a
Sunday-school romp, yet they are invisible in the press."
And on and on. How often do you, dear reader, encounter the coupling of
"whitewater" and "scandal"? I can tell you that I flinch every time
that I see it -- all too often, as it happens.
So once again, let's set this straight (and everyone repeat after me):
There Was No "Whitewater Scandal!"
After eight years, over 50 million dollars, and the labor of an army of
lawyers and investigators, Ken Starr and his minions could find no
wrongdoing whatever in Bill and Hillary Clinton's losing Whitewater
And yet today, the press, including friends and supporters of the Clintons,
just can't get that exoneration into their heads. "Whitewater scandal" has
become a "meme" -- a mind-virus that just cannot be dispatched, no matter how
much light is shed on it.
And that's just one of a myriad of political word-tricks at large in the
public discourse that cloud our judgment.
Now don't get me started on "compassionate conservatism."
The California Purge.
Three years ago, California Governor Gray Davis was hot on the trail of
The Great Enron Robbery, that cost California electric rate-payers billions
And we all know what happened to Gray Davis. And the Enron suit?
Disappeared without a trace.
California Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley, led the successful effort to
decertify the paperless Diebold voting machines in California, and in
addition instructed the Attorney General
to file civil and
criminal charges against the Diebold Corporation.
A week ago (February 5),
Shelley resigned, amidst charges of "misconduct," none serious enough to
merit a criminal indictment. Governor Schwartznegger appointed Republican
Assemblyman Bruce McPherson to succeed Shelley.
No further word of the charges against Diebold or the future of e-voting in
We report, you decide.
Kristin Breitweiser for Congress!
On December 7, 1993, Dennis McCarthy boarded the Long Island Railroad in
lower Manhattan for his usual commute to his home in Mineola Long Island.
This time, he didn't make it. He was murdered along with five others by a
crazed gunman, Colin Ferguson. McCarthy's son, Kevin, was severely
wounded in the shooting.
McCarthy's wife, Carolyn, was not a typical grieving widow. She was angry,
and determined to act. A lifelong Republican, she announced in 1996 that she
would run as a Democrat against Daniel Frisa, an opponent to the assault
She won the election in 1996, and every election since.
Carolyn McCarthy's story inevitably brings to mind Kristen Breitweiser, the
articulate and indomitable 9/11 widow who, along with the other "Jersey
Girls," has been a major force behind the investigations of the World Trade
Center attack, much to the irritation and chagrin of the Bush regime.
Last week I learned that Ms. Breitweiser also happens to own a law degree
from Seton Hall University.
This splendid lady must not now fade from public life. Surely she should
follow the lead of Carolyn McCarthy and run for Congress as a Democrat even,
perhaps, for the Senate, should Frank Lautenberg (as is likely) choose not
to run again in 2008.
At the time of the WTC attack, Ms. Breitweiser was a Republican.
the Hell, nobody's perfect! Besides, there is ample reason to suppose,
in view of her recent encounter with Republicans, that she has
re-evaluated her politics.
Kristin Breitweiser for Congress!
Provided, of course, they don't use the Diebold, ES&S or Sequoia
paperless e-voting machines in New Jersey. For if they do, Ms.
Breitweiser would be wasting her time by running for Congress.
February 26, 2005
An All-Star Staff for "The Anti-FOX:" Progressive News TV.
Let’s face it: the progressive counter-revolution is going nowhere unless
and until it gains a conspicuous presence on TV. Cable TV will do quite
well, at least for a start.
Earlier, many of us had hoped that Al Gore would be the catalyst.
Unfortunately, but his not-quite-ready IndTV (due to debut this summer) looks to be only marginally political.
But don’t despair; there may soon be some spectacular breakouts. There is a
rumor about on the progressive internet that George Soros and Warren Buffet,
along with a few other liberal tycoons, might be about to launch a
progressive cable channel. After reading the enthusiastic speculation
recently posted at
The Democratic Underground, one can only hope that it is true.
If so, then the debut of the Anti-FOX simply can’t be too soon.
Just think of the line-up of celebrities and talent available for such an
enterprise! Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Peter Arnett, Eason Jordon, and
many more who were all fired for the unforgivable offense of truth-telling.
Then there are others, still at work at mainstream TV, but standing on
thinning ice. Keith Olberman comes immediately to mind. And finally, there
are noteworthy individuals who are personae non gratae on the
networks and cable: Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Dan Rather, Al Gore, Bill
Clinton and Jimmy Carter (what the hell, the last two are the ex POTUSes).
And we’ve not even mentioned all those progressive show-biz celebs.
Perhaps one of the most important consequences of the progressive Anti-FOX
channel would be the emergence of a “safety net” for the muzzled staffs of
the uniformly-right-wing channels. As Donahue, Banfield, Arnett and Jordan
can testify, when one is tossed out of one of these organizations (e.g., CNN
and MSNBC) one is effectively tossed out of the profession. But suppose that
these and other “punished” talents were hired by the Anti-FOX channel. This
would mitigate the threat to the personnel at the other channels, who might
then be willing to exercise more journalistic integrity and independence.
So please, Mr. Soros et al, get with it and put the Anti-FOX on the air, the
sooner the better. There is no weapon for the progressive counter-revolution
that is more urgently needed in the struggle to restore our democracy, and
to reinstate the good name of our republic before the community of nations.
The Darkening “Gray Lady”
The editors of The New York Times complain that bloggers, lacking
the experience, traditions and professional integrity of legitimate
journalists, should refrain from “muddying the waters” and leave the
reporting and interpreting to the pros.
My reply to the New York Times can be stated in a very few words:
Wen Ho Lee
Headline: “Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices
Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote” (November 12, 2001)
Judith Miller, Ahmed Chalabi and the WMDs
Phoney-baloney, in each and every case.
Even more significant, perhaps, is the “Legitimate Press” as the watchdog
that didn’t bark.
For example, what has The New York Times told us about:
Bush’s AWOL from the Texan Air National Guard
Bush’s insider- trading of Harken stocks,
Bush’s business dealings with the Bin Laden family?
Bush’s drug use, and the Texas court’s judgment of “community service”?
The falsehood of the smears against Al Gore (“Inventing the internet,”
The lies of Colin Powell before the UN Security Council, February, 2002
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
The listening device worn by Bush during the 2004 debates.
All this from “the flagship of American Journalism.”
Even so, “Truth crushed to earth, will rise again.”
As it did in the “Committees of Correspondence” during the American
Revolution, and in the Soviet Union in “Samizdat.”
And so today, finding no other outlet, Truth must apparently “rise” out of
the internet – amidst, admittedly and regretfully, tons of trash.
Defend Liberalism, not “Liberalism.”
As anticipated, some visitors to The Smirking Chimp took exception to my
proposal that progressives “shed the soiled garment” of the word
“liberalism,” while steadfastly defending the political program heretofore
referred to by that label.
Two typical complaints:
I don't think that liberals should apologize for being liberals. I also
don't think that it would be very difficult to redeem the term if liberals
made any effort to do so.
Hey, I totally do my part to reclaim the word ''liberal''. When
someone calls me one, I say, ''Yes, that's right. I'm an admirer of FDR
and Harry Truman and JFK and George McGovern, and I don't have to hang my
head when I say it.''
With due respect to my critics, it appears that they have fallen victim
to “word-magic” – as have we all, more or less. One of the primary
objectives of critical thinking is to minimize that victimization as much as
possible. In the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein, to “battle against the
bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”
We begin by understanding that the association of words with their
referents is arbitrary. Quoting Juliet once again, “a rose by any other name
would smell as sweet.” Accordingly, on the one hand there is the word
“liberal,” and on the other there is a body of political convictions, liberalism, that has heretofore been referred to by that word “liberal.”
But now, due to a relentless campaign by The Right, the word “liberalism”
has been unjustly stained with connotations of “bleeding heart,” “elitism,”
and even “treason.” And every time someone proudly announces to the world,
“I am a liberal and proud of it!” those connotations accompany the label.
Perhaps this is why Bernie Sanders, the admirable Independent Congressman,
recently told his Vermont constituent Thom Hartmann, “I am not a liberal, I
am a progressive.” If so, it was a wise decision.
Face it: to the average citizen today, “Liberalism” no longer means what it
once meant. Yet the body of beliefs and policies once referred to when FDR,
Adlai Stevenson, JFK, and others called themselves “liberals” – these
beliefs and policies are as valid and urgently relevant as ever. So lets
protect them by awarding them a new name: “progressivism.” Be assured that
if we do so, “liberalism” (in the original sense) will “smell as sweet.”
And so, to reply to my critic, I too don't think that liberals should
apologize for being liberals. But they should discard a label that causes
them much more harm than benefit.
“Words,” as Thomas Hobbes noted, “are wise mens’ counters; they are the
money of fools.”
The "Count Every Vote Act." Good, but Not Good Enough.
Senators Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton have introduced the “Count
Every Vote Act of 2005.” Prospects of passage are slim.
The chief features of the act are the following:
The voting system shall produce an individual voter-verifiable paper
record of the vote that shall be made available for inspection and
verification by the voter before the vote is cast.
The voting system shall provide the voter with an opportunity to correct
any error made by the system in the voter-verifiable paper records before
the permanent voter-verified paper record is preserved...
Very good! – a giant step in the right direction.
But even if this is enacted, we’re not yet safe at home.
For in addition (a) there must be safeguards in place in the compilation of
votes (e.g., statewide level). In the 2004 election, 80% of votes were
compiled by Diebold and ES&S, and it is here, I strongly suspect, that
Election 2004 was, for the most part, stolen.
(b) It is not enough to require paper record of each vote. There must also
be assured access to this paper record in the event a contested election or
a recount. Consider, for example, the case of the optical scan ballots in
Florida in the past election. If, as appears likely, the Florida optical
scan totals were rigged, this could be determined by a manual counting of
those ballots. But Glenda Wood, Jeb Bush's Secretary of State, will not
allow access to those ballots.
(c) The very notion of a privatized voting system is anathema to democracy.
It should be abolished. Also, the involvement of voting administrators (e.g.
Kathryn Harris and Ken Blackwell) in partisan politics should be forbidden.
(d) Violations of voting laws (e.g., the Voting Rights Act) should be
vigorously prosecuted. If they had been in 2000, 2002 and 2004, Harris,
Blackwell, and numerous Diebold employees would now be in prison or under
(f) There must be less hesitation to void corrupted elections and order new
elections, under scrupulous supervision. Were this done in the past three
elections, there is no doubt that Gore would have taken the Presidency in
2000, the Democrats the Congress in 2002, and that a Democrat would now be
President (presumably a re-elected Al Gore).
March 8, 2005
The Indispensable "Big Gummint"
Right-wing regressives who demand endlessly that we “get government off
our backs,” too easily forget how much they cling to the back of government
– how much, that is to say, they benefit from the assistance of government
In a recent article,
“Dearth of a
Nation,” Benjamin Wallace-Wells makes the point supremely well:
The pharmaceutical, financial, and airline industries blossomed thanks
to the creation of the FDA, SEC, and FAA, which gave customers some
assurance of safety when they popped pills, traded stocks, or boarded
flights. The G.I. Bill provided a generation of veterans with the college
educations they needed to build the post-war middle class. The creation of
the federally-guaranteed 30-year mortgage proved the decisive tool in the
growth of the post-war American suburb.
These investments and regulatory changes aren't merely tools of the past;
it is impossible to imagine the '90s boom emerging without them. Early
investment from the Pentagon helped nurture the internet. The algorithm
that powered Google was developed when co-founder Larry Page, then a
Stanford graduate student, won a federal grant to write a more efficient
sorting and search engine for libraries. The innovative new medicines that
have driven the expansion of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries
arose from university research largely financed by the National Institutes
Of course, private initiative and enterprise are essential to a thriving
As the fall of Soviet communism proves, government can’t do it all.
Neither the computer with which I am writing this blog nor the internet
through which you are reading it would ever have been developed entirely
through government bureaucracies. Government is simply too risk-averse and
too intolerant of maverick geniuses.
But that’s just half of the story. The regressive-right chooses to ignore
the other half – the contribution of government agencies and investment to
While it is true that the transistor was invented by Bardeen, Brittain and
Shockley in1947 at the corporate Bell Laboratories, the development of
microcircuitry was funded by NASA when the reduction of payload weight
became a critical concern in the space program. And the internet had its
origin in the government network, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects
Our competitors in Europe, Japan, and Korea are well aware of the necessity
of cooperation between government and private industry in the advancement of
technology. The scientific and technological leadership of the United States
in the second half of the twentieth century proves the necessity of this
However, that lesson apparently has not been learned by the Bush
administration, which has cut funding for the National Institutes of Health
and the National Science Foundation. If the Bush budget cut is approved, NSF
will be awarding 1,000 fewer research grants.
Private enterprise, they are convinced, can do it all. No need for help from
the government – apart from tax relief, of course.
Once again, dogma triumphs over experience.
March 24, 2005
"Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961) Demands a Judgment Today.
A couple of weeks ago, while laboring past midnight into the early
morning hours, I quite accidentally noticed a listing on the satellite TV of
the 1961 movie, "Judgment at Nuremberg," a film that I had not seen in over
forty years. Intrigued, I popped a cassette into the VCR for later viewing,
and went back to my work.
When I sat down to watch the movie the next day, I was stunned. The
screenplay spoke to us today with an impact that producer/director Stanley
Kramer, and writer Abby Mann, could not have imagined. The fictional trial
takes place in 1948, as the cold war is emerging. The movie was released
during the first year of John Kennedy's presidency and a year before the
Cuban missile crisis. The disarming and deflation of Senator Joe McCarthy at
the hands of Joseph Welch and Edward R. Murrow had occurred a mere six years
earlier. (See the PostScript below). So "Judgment at Nuremberg" was timely
when released. But unfortunately for all of us, it is much more relevant
The first of two dramatic "peaks" of the movie takes place when one of the
defendants, the indicted judge Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) asks to be
heard by the court. The second is the verdict, delivered by the tribunal
judge, Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy).
Here is a transcription that I made from the DVD of the movie. Read it and
ask yourself: are the two judges -- the guilt-stricken German defendant, and
the presiding American -- warning us today? If so, who is listening?
Ernst Janning addresses the tribunal:
There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of
We had a democracy, yes. But it was torn by elements within. Above all,
there was fear; fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors,
and fear of ourselves.
Only when you understand that, can you understand what Hitler meant to us.
Because he said to us: "Lift your heads. Be proud to be Germans. There are
devils among us: Communists, liberals, Jews, Gypsies. Once these devils
will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed."
It was the old old story of the sacrificial lamb.
What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies,
and worse than lies?
Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country.
What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their
rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their
rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going
through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be
discarded sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of
the shadows. We will go forward. "Forward" is the great password.
history tells how well we succeeded, your Honor. We succeeded beyond our
wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that
mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world.
We found ourselves with sudden, powerful allies. Things that had been
denied to us as a democracy were open to us now.
The world said, "Go ahead, take it."
Take it! Take the Sudetenland, take the Rhineland, remilitarize it.
Take all of Austria. Take it.!
And then one day, we looked around and found that we were in an even more
terrible danger. The ritual that began in this courtroom swept over the
land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase,
had become the way of life.
Your Honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content
to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name.
Until I realized, that in order to save it, he would have to raise the
specter again. You have seen him do it. He has done it here in this
courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of
the people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the
Once more, it is being done, for love of country.
It is not easy to tell the truth. But if there is to be any salvation for
Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it. Whatever the pain and
My counsel would have you believe we were not aware of the concentration
Not aware! Where were we?
Where were we when Hitler began shrieking his hate in the Reichstag?
Where were we when our neighbors were being dragged out in the middle of
the night to Dachau?
Where were we when every village in Germany has a railroad terminal where
cattle cars were filled with children being carried of to their
extermination? Where were we when they cried out in the night to us? Were
we deaf? Dumb? Blind? ...
My counsel says we were not aware of the extermination of the millions. He
would give you the excuse, we were only aware of the extermination of the
hundreds. Does that make us any the less guilty?
Maybe we didn't know the details. But if we didn't know, it was because we
didn't want to know.
Judge Haywood delivers the verdict.
The real complaining party at the bar in this courtroom is
The principle of criminal law in every civilized society has this in
common: any person who sways another to commit murder, any person who
furnishes the lethal weapon for the purpose of the crime any, person who
is an accessory to the crime, is guilty...
[The Defense Counsel asserts that] the defendant Janning was an
extraordinary jurist and acted in what he thought was the best interest of
his country.... Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he
loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his
soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and the death of millions
by the government of which he was a part.
Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that
has emerged from this trial. If he and all of the other defendants had
been degraded perverts, if all the leaders of the Third Reich had been
sadistic monsters and maniacs, then these events would have no more moral
significance than an earthquake or any other natural catastrophe.
But this trial has shown that under a national crisis, ordinary, even able
and extraordinary men, can delude themselves into the commission of crimes
so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination. No one who has sat
through the trial can ever forget them. Men sterilized because of
political belief. A mockery made of friendship and faith. The murder of
children. How easily it can happen.
There are those in our own country, too who today speak of the protection
of country, of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every
nation, at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat.
Then it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the
enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way.
The answer to that is: survival as what?
A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it
stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the
Before the people of the world, let it now be noted, that here in our
decision, this is what we stand for: justice, truth, and the value of a
single human being.
Where are our political leaders willing to take a stand today against our
country's descent into despotism? Very few come to mind: Russ Feingold, the
only Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act, Barbara Boxer, the only
Senator to protest the Ohio election fiasco, Congressional Black Caucus
members, John Conyers, Sheila Jackson Lee, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones.
As for the rest, the intimidated and silent Democrats, the moderate
Republicans whose party has been stolen from them, the "journalists" who are
reduced to service as stenographers to Karl Rove's "Ministry of Truth" --
are they all willing to be passive accomplices to the theft of our
Don't they know what is happening to our Republic? Or is it simply the case,
as Ernst Janning warned, that they don't know because they don't want to
They simply have to know. For the compelling facts are inescapably before
them and before us all:
American citizens are incarcerated indefinitely, without charge,
without access to counsel, with no prospect of trial, all this in direct
violation of five of the ten articles of the Bill of Rights.
Most of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo are probably
innocent, yet they are still held, some at Guantánamo for over three
years, with no prospect of appeal or release.
The Geneva conventions against torture are violated, and the Bush
regime unilaterally withdraws the US from the International Court of
Justice provisions on consular relations, so that US death sentences
against foreign nationals can not be appealed.
The original justifications for the Iraq War have all proven to be
Over 1500 US soldiers have died in the Iraq war, and reportedly over
100,000 Iraqis, including women and children.
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do
nothing ." (Attr. to Edmund Burke).
This is a movie that you must see. The DVD of Judgment at Nuremberg is
available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other online vendors for a mere
ten dollars. Buy it. Show it. Lend it and urge others to buy it.
*This is a direct quote from Justice Robert Jackson's opening
statement at the Nuremberg Tribunals, November, 1945.
PostScript: Edward R. Murrow's closing remarks from his CBS "See it Now"
program on Senator Joseph McCarthy, March, 1954:
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear
into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine;
and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who
feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were
for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Senator
McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny
our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the
result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his
responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a
tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of
freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend
freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior Senator
from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and
given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not
really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited
it -- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus,
is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
May 3, 2005
Chicago Tribune Debunks Election Skeptics -- Partridge Replies
Don Wycliff, the "Public Editor" of the Chicago Tribune, writes:
When winning isn't everything
Published April 28, 2005
If someone had told me 30 years ago that I would one day invoke Richard M.
Nixon as a moral example, I'd have said the person was nuts. But that's what
I'm about to do.
Legend has it that after the 1960 presidential election, an aide informed
Nixon that there was enough evidence of irregularities in the results of the
balloting in Illinois that a strong challenge to John F. Kennedy's victory
here could be mounted.
To his credit, Nixon is said to have rejected a challenge as not worth
putting the country through. In other words, winning wasn't the sole end of
That Nixon legend came to mind this week as I opened what seemed the 1,000th
e-mail in which the writer declared that the results of the 2004
presidential election are suspect and suggested that, instead of pursuing
evidence of election theft and corruption, the Tribune and the rest of the
"corporate media" are intent on ignoring the facts.
The most recent of this correspondence commends to the attention of the
newspaper's editors a column, "The Silent Scream of Numbers," written by a
fellow Tribune Co. employee, Bob Koehler.
Koehler is an editor at Tribune Media Services, the company's syndication
arm, and also writes a syndicated column. He wrote The Silent Scream of
Numbers, after attending what was dubbed the National Election Reform
Conference earlier this month in Nashville. It was, he wrote, "an
extraordinary pulling together of disparate voting-rights activists--30
states were represented, 15 red and 15 blue--sponsored by a Nashville group
called Gathering to Save Our Democracy. It had the feel of 1775; citizen
patriots taking matters into their own hands to reclaim the republic."
That's one way of looking at it. Another is as a convocation of conspiracy
theorists, unable to come to terms with the fact that their guy lost and
that, as in sports, it's not the pre-game prognostication and expert
opinions that count, but the numbers on the scoreboard after the contest has
actually been played.
Koehler is sensitive to the "conspiracy nut" charge and attempted in his
"silent scream" column to blunt it by avoiding the question whether the 2004
election was "stolen."
Instead, he posed questions like "why the lines were so long and the voting
machines were so few in Columbus and Cleveland and inner-city and college
precincts across the country"; "why so many PhD-level mathematicians and
computer programmers and other numbers-savvy scientists are saying that the
numbers don't make sense"; and what about "those exit polls, which in years
past were extraordinarily accurate but last November went haywire,
predicting [John] Kerry by roughly the margin by which he ultimately lost to
I'm not sure that all of Koehler's questions could ever be answered. But
because so many of them seem to involve the conduct of the election in Ohio,
I decided to ask the most reliable authority I know: Tribune national
correspondent Tim Jones.
An Ohio native, Jones spent a great deal of time in the state last year,
including the last two weeks before the election. On Election Day he was in
the Columbus area, visiting polling places that ranged from silk-stocking
suburban to poverty-ridden inner city. At the latter, he said, "I talked to
people who waited in line four hours and were determined to vote."
Jones pointed out that in Columbus and Cleveland--where Koehler says"lines
were so long and the voting machines were so few"--final decisions on where
to place the available voting machines belonged to local election officials,
who in each case were Democrats.
It's always possible that these Democrats were secretly working for Bush's
re-election, but not likely. What's more likely is that they based their
decisions on placement of people and equipment on earlier elections, when
turnout in inner-city and college precincts lagged that in other areas.
Jones said he has talked at length with people in Ohio whose credentials as
non-partisan and unbiased are beyond question, and they, he said, "found no
Koehler and those who have been boosting his "silent scream" column make one
very powerful point: It is the duty of the news media, as watchdogs of our
democracy, to study, identify and shine a spotlight on weaknesses and abuses
in our most fundamental democratic activity--elections.
But if the real agenda of the election reformers is to call into question
the legitimacy of the 2004 election, they would be better advised to follow
the example of Richard Nixon. Winning isn't the sole end of politics.
Don Wycliff is the Tribune's public editor. He listens to readers' concerns
and questions about the paper's coverage and writes weekly about current
issues in journalism. His e-mail address is email@example.com. The views
expressed are his own.
Don Wycliff, Public Editor
The Chicago Tribune
RE: Your column of April 28.
Dear Mr. Wycliff,
It's "defenses" such as yours that further convince me that the 2004
election was fraudulent. If this is the best that you, or anyone, can come
up with in defense of the legitimacy of the election, then the integrity of
our democracy is seriously in question.
Of course, there is no positive proof of that integrity -- the Republican
partisans who build and operate the touch-screen machines and the central
compiling computers have seen to that. The source codes are secret and there
is no independent audit trail. Moreover, as a myriad of computer
professionals have proven, and as Howard Dean and Bev Harris demonstrated to
the public on CNBC, vote totals can be readily altered without leaving a
trace of the hacking.
Your citation of Nixon's alleged acceptance of the 1960 results (probably an
urban myth), is totally irrelevant. Nixon's behavior in 1960 has not the
slightest bearing on the issue of the validity of the 2004 election.
Meanwhile, you offer not a shred of rebuttal to the strongest evidence of
fraud -- the patterns of exit poll discrepancies and the statistical
analyses of these patterns.
As for the Ohio election, there is a record of sworn testimony before the
Conyers Committee, along with voluminous reports and documents collected by
the Ohio Citizens' Alliance for Secure Elections and the Columbus Free
Press. In rebuttal you offer us hearsay remarks by unidentifiable
The integrity of our ballot is at the heart of our democracy. Without it,
there is no democracy. Accordingly this issue surely deserves thorough
investigation by our media. If, as you claim, the election was honest, then
answer the critics with something more than irrelevancies and ad hominem
insults (e.g., "conspiracy theorists"). If your position has merit and the
support of solid evidence (which I doubt), then at last the issue might be
put to rest.
Instead, The Chicago Tribune, and regretfully all of the mainstream media,
has elected to ignore the question of whether or not we now have a
legitimate government in Washington.
The silence is deafening.
But I assure you, the issue will not go away -- not while the compelling
evidence of fraud accumulates and goes unanswered.
Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers.
May 19, 2005
Another letter to a Christian/Republican Friend. This one is
Last August I wrote and circulated
A Letter to a Republican Friend.
It was a faux letter to an imaginary friend (albeit a composite of many
actual acquaintances). As it happens, a real-live Christian/Republican friend, who I
have known since we were both in high school, sent me a thoughtful letter
which, after an inexcusable delay, I answered at length. As my reply will
reveal, my old friend had some strange, but alas typical, ideas about "what
But rather than get into all that, let's go directly to the letter, most of
which appears below.
You will be surprised to learn that we disagree much less, politically, than
you might imagine. Philosophically there is much distance between us, but
much more in the area of theology than ethics.
A lot of opportunistic politicians have attempted to divide individuals of
our respective views and, sadly, they have been successful -- as I hope to
Let's begin with religion. I have much love and respect for authentic
Christians, and much distain for what I call "professional Christians."
Among the former, I include Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, and Martin Luther
King. Among the latter I include Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and George
Bush. My complaint against the latter group is that these "Christians" are
insufficiently Christian. It surpasses my understanding how anyone who has
read and claims to adhere to the Beatitudes can launch or support a war
against an unthreatening nation resulting in the slaughter of tens of
thousands of innocent men, women and children, or can enact policies of
"reverse Robin-Hoodism" that take from the poor and give to the rich,
dismantle the public schools, and raid the Social Security fund . (Today,
the average Fortune 500 CEO earns in half a day, what his median worker
earns in a year. Twenty years ago, it took the CEO a week to earn his
worker's annual salary). "Blessed are the poor?" Not to these folks!
Jesus' greatest rebuke was to the hypocrites. I find very little inclination
among the "professional Christians" to "go and sell that thou hast, and give
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow
me." (Matt. 19:21) I suspect that they would have great difficulty passing
through that eye of the needle. (Matt. 19:23) These, I contend, are the
Pharisees and Sadducees of our day, who would be the first in line to nail
Jesus to the cross. (Dosteyevsky had it right in "The Grand Inquisitor") .
Yes, I read the Bible. Most recently, the gospels two years ago. You can
read the result at my essay, "What Would Jesus Do?"
While I admit that I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God
(except in the sense that we are all children of God), I believe that the surviving record
of his life conveys a supreme ethic. It is an ethic that is shared by the
noblest of men and women of all ages and all creeds: Moslem, Hindu,
Confucian, Taoist, Shinto and even atheists. Thus I am repelled by the dogma
of salvation through faith, not works. Am I to believe that the scoundrel's
deathbed confession of faith will give him a ticket to paradise, while the
entire life of an honest, compassionate, just and courageous unbeliever will
not spare him damnation? If heaven is to be populated by the likes of Falwell and Robertson, and hell by non-believers such as Socrates,
Jefferson, Gandhi, Rousseau, Mandella and Sakharov, then quite frankly I am
content to go to Hell. I would much prefer the company. But of course, I
can't conceive how one who truly believes in a just God, can believe that He
would condemn billions to eternal damnation, and "save" ("rapture") a few
hundred thousand believers. I think that the prophet Micah had it right:
"what more doth the lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8).
On to politics. I too endorse free enterprise. Which is why I also endorse
government regulation. History shows that unregulated free enterprise is
self-defeating, and leads to monopolies -- the death of free enterprise.
Hence the anti-trust laws (enforced, gasp!, by government). Just because
some criminals go free, and some destructive fires destroy property, it
doesn't follow that we must abolish the police and the fire departments.
Instead, we should improve them. So too with government. The remedy for bad
government is better government, not no government. The founders of our
republic tried that with the Articles of Confederation, and soon repented
and drew the Constitution with a strong central government (Read the
We share an abiding concern for the condition of the environment.
Libertarians believe that the environment can best be preserved by
privatization of all environmental resources, unconstrained by government.
In a published essay, I have crafted a careful refutation of that claim. You
want to protect the environment? Then if you think it through, you must also
endorse government protection.
Government is good, or government is despotic and evil. It depends on the
government, and the people who sustain it or, in worst cases, tolerate it.
But government, in the civilized condition, is indispensable. If you
disagree, then you disagree, not just with me, but with Jefferson and the
Founders: "... to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
We both deplore pornography and smut, and I would add to that the depiction
of violence in the media. But please note that this is the result of
unregulated "free-enterprise" in action. The Government doesn't promote
these evils. Quite the contrary. Thus I note, with some amusement, the
current Congressional response to Janet Jackson and "boob-gate." "Bring on
the regulation!" And the so-called "conservatives" are leading the charge.
I must tell you that this 2nd Amendment business really ruffles my
(Partridge) feathers! Again, not because we disagree, but because we agree
-- and some scoundrels have taken great political and financial advantage
over a concocted but essentially bogus issue.
You say, "private ownership of fire arms is viewed as politically
By whom, pray tell? I have known hundreds of "liberals," and not one of them
believes in the confiscation of private firearms. Sure, there are fringe
nut-cases who advocate total abolition of guns. But they are universally so
regarded -- as kooks. But the opposite fringe, I maintain, holds that there
should be absolutely no restriction or regulation of weapons -- be they
bazookas, TOW missiles, cop-killer bullets, assault weapons. Even the NRA
endorses regulation and restriction of gun ownership by felons. Somewhere in
the middle between these extremes, honorable citizens of good will can
disagree, and should debate their differences calmly and rationally. For
myself, I see little harm and much benefit in the registration of deadly
weapons -- all guns should be identified by serial number and ballistic
"fingerprints." This, for the advantage of law enforcement. We register
vehicles, so why not firearms? Beats me. But if anyone wishes to offer a
calm, well reasoned rebuttal, I will respectfully listen and deliberate.
So we agree: private citizens have a constitutional right to own firearms.
And I suspect that some 98% of the population (liberals included) also
agree. Those who contend that "the liberals are out to take away your guns"
are up to political mischief.
Liberal press? Consider: Paul Begala did a Nexus-Lexus search of news
stories during the 2000 campaign, and came up with this:
There were exactly 704 stories in the campaign about this flap of Gore
inventing the Internet. There were only 13 stories about Bush failing to
show up for his National Guard duty for a year. There were well over 1,000
stories -- Nexus stopped at 1,000 -- about Gore and the Buddhist temple.
Only 12 about Bush being accused of insider trading at Harken Energy. There
were 347 about Al Gore wearing earth tones, but only 10 about the fact that
Dick Cheney did business with Iran and Iraq and Libya."
And of course, Gore, in fact never claimed to have "invented the internet,"
and the Buddhist temple event was entirely innocent.
I rest my case. And if you are still unconvinced, read Eric Alterman's "What
To sum up, I confess that I am thoroughly confounded by political rhetoric
today. Most self-described "conservatives" aren't conservative at all --
they are radical anarchists, out to tear up our Constitution and undo the
social progress of the past century. Witness the "Patriot Act," "First
Amendment zones," and the Bush budget. Progressives ("liberals" if you
prefer) such as myself, are struggling to preserve our liberties, our
received rule of law, and the Founders' checks and balances -- in short, we
are the authentic "conservatives."
No need to go on, since I've written and published about all this at length.
But if you can stand a further dose of my political rantings, see my
"Conscience of a Conservative" (that's me!) ...
I close as I began: we agree much more than may have suspected. And our
agreements, as friends and as citizens, are far more important than our
differences. I think you may agree that our differences are best dealt with
in the context of a well-ordered and civil political arena, based upon
"conservative" principles of justice and tolerance, envisioned by the
Founders of our republic, and of late banished in the corrosive political
diatribe of the present day. I trust that we are united in our desire to
restore the civility in the body politic that we knew and respected in our
Your enduring friend,
"Habemus Papem" -- and perhaps a rough road ahead for us heathens.
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI, William Cole
of the Associated Press
reported the following:
On Monday, Ratzinger, who was the powerful dean of the College of Cardinals,
used his homily at the Mass dedicated to electing the next pope to warn the
faithful about tendencies that he considered dangers to the faith: sects,
ideologies like Marxism, liberalism, atheism, agnosticism and relativism -
the ideology that there are no absolute truths.
"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled
today as a fundamentalism," he said, speaking in Italian. "Whereas
relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every
wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's
If "liberalism" is now anathema to faithful Catholics, may we now expect a
mass excommunication of Catholic liberals? A tiny Baptist Church in South
Carolina appears to be leading the way. I had heard that Popes John XXIII
and John-Paul II were "liberals." Will they now be declared "Anti-Popes"?
(Better put a hold on that fast-track beatification of JP-2).
To be fair, the new Pope delivered that homily in Italian, and perhaps there
is some nuance to the word that was translated as "liberalism." So we'll
await some clarification.
The Pope's condemnation of "relativism" has struck a responsive note amongst
the (largely protestant) religious right in the US. However, "relativism"
has numerous interpretations, not explicated by the Pope in that homily. I'm
working on an essay that will spell these out, which I will share with you
when it is done. The working title, "In Praise of Relativism" may suggest
where I stand.
Finally, Max Blumenthal has excavated
this remarkable quotation by (then)
Cardinal Ratzinger in 1990:
At the time of Galileo the Church remained much more faithful to reason than
Galileo himself. The process against Galileo was reasonable and just.
No doubt, this gives great comfort to the embattled "Intelligent Design"
crowd in Kansas and elsewhere.
Modus Operandi of Right Wing Talk Radio.
For a glance at how right-wing operates, go to
this transcript of Bill
O'Reilly's broadcast of 12/1/03. The guests are Katrina Vanden Heuval,
Editor of the progressive The Nation, and Tammy Bruce, FOX "contributor" and
"fake democrat." (Note: Be warned of false labeling -- Bob Novak also claims
to be a Democrat).
Here's a "snippet:"
KVH: The tax cut that George Bush rammed...
OR: No, no, no...
KVH: ...down this country's throat.
OR: ...look, they do a poll, Ms. Van Heuvel...
KVH: Not what Americans wanted. If they wanted health care, they wanted
education for their kids.
OR: Look, okay, speeches are fine.
KVH: Let us hope President Bush...
OR: You're a journalist. You deal in facts.
KVH: ...is unseated in 2004 because America will be a better place for it.
OR: Okay, good. Yes.
KVH: But more important...
OR: I'm going to stop you...
KVH: ...as someone who believes in democracy...
OR: ...Ms. Vanden Heuvel, I'm going to stop you now because your speech is
lost on this audience. They know you're an ideologue. We don't care that you
have a speech prepared.
KVH: You don't like to hear from anyone who disagrees with you.
OR: No, I don't disagree with you at all.
KVH: Mr. O'Reilly, don't you believe in the marketplace of ideas?
OR: You won't answer the question.
KVH: This country is better and more democratic.
OR: Ms. Vanden Heuvel...
Don't even bother to read the whole transcript. Just notice this: Vanden
Heuvel is rarely able to complete a sentence without interruption. Bruce
completes whole paragraphs without interruption. If this appears to be
"cherry picking" of an extreme example, just tape and examine other
"cross-fire" between a liberal and a regressive on (e.g.) Rush Limbaugh's,
Sean Hannity's or other such programs.
Advice to progressives invited to appear on FOX. Don't accept without a firm
agreement that you will be allowed to complete your sentences. Cite that
agreement at the beginning of the interview. If no agreement, don't accept.
If FOX agrees, then breaks the pledge on the air, get up and leave.
Some Mind-Benders, quoted without comment:
"There is no greater power than the power to define. If you can determine
how people use language, you really are able to determine how they think. If
you can fill the word "liberal" with the meaning that you want it to have,
which nowadays is weak, feminine, cowardly, so much so that even liberal
want to run away from it, the you've won an enormous battle for control."
Steven J. Ducat, Buzzflash Interview.
"There is actually more long term profit for business in a society based on
justice, fairness, equality, mercy, learning, tolerance, openness and the
active, meaningful participation of engaged citizens in ordering the life of
the nation. There's more stability in such a society, more security, more
freedom for innovation and invigoration in every aspect of life. But our
ruling cliques -- epitomized by the Bushists -- are afflicted with
third-rate minds, stunted imaginations, lizard-brain yearnings for immediate
gratification, the short-term money. They will ultimately destroy the
community that sustains them. They will end up devouring their own entrails
-- after they've despoiled the nation, and the world, with their blind,
brute greed." Chris Floyd
"God had been drafted into national politics before, but Hitler's success
infusing racial dogma with Germanic Christianity was an immensely powerful
element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized he moral perils
of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was
the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his
success, notably in Protestant areas."
Fritz Stern, "Lessons from German History"
Foreign Affairs (May-June, 2005)
May 31, 2005
“BIBLICAL INERRANCY” AND THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT
I posted in my blog the following clip from Rev. Jerry Falwell’s column:
Some reading this column will surely ask, “Doesn’t the sixth commandment
say, ‘Thou shalt not kill?’”
Actually, no; it says: “Thou shalt not commit murder.”
Sorry, Rev., but my Bible says “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13). (Same
with the King James and the Revised Standard translations). Falwell
reputedly preaches that every word in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
Is he “improving upon” God’s “inerrant word” here?
Last week, I received a letter with a putative “correction:” “You take Jerry
Falwell to task for saying the 6th Commandment says "thou shalt not murder,"
and you point out correctly that in the King James ... it says "thou shalt
not kill." However, in the original Hebrew it does say, "murder".
No, as a matter of fact, the Hebrew version does not say “murder” (not a
Hebrew word), it says: “ratsach” which some versions translate as “kill” and
others as “murder.” As for “the original Hebrew,” that source is lost
forever – there are no original documents available. We only have copies of
copies of copies.... etc.
However, either translation – as “kill” and as “murder” – pose huge
First: “Thou Shalt Not Murder” is not a commandment, it is a tautology – an
Let me explain: (Scholarship alert! Rough Ride Ahead) .
Presumably we take the “Thou Shalt Nots” to be statements of (allegedly)
God’s commandments as to what conduct is, or is not, morally justifiable in
The Lord’s eyes. Thus “Thou Shalt Not...” means “it is forbidden” or “it is
Now “murder” is surely defined as “unjustified killing” – i.e., not in
self-defense, or in a just war, or by God’s command.
Hence “Thou Shalt Not Murder” parses out as: “Unjustified Killing is
Unjustified.” Gee, thanks!
Begin to spell out the meaning of “justification,” and you are returning to
the realm of moral guidance.
Now to “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”
Surely this commandment is universally violated, and moreover, well it
should be. As noted, self-defense and just warfare are legitimate
exceptions. Still worse, those who believe the words of the Old Testament
must come to terms with the fact that therein God commands the Israelites to
kill, for example the inhabitants of Jericho and the Midianites – every last
man, woman and child of them. (See my
Warriors of the Lord). Also, the
same book of Exodus that commands “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” specifies capital
punishment for a variety of offenses. (Among them, adultery, a child’s
disobedience, working on the Sabbath, etc.).
So the Bible itself teaches that the Sixth Commandment must read, “Thou
Shalt Not Kill, except when...” What exceptions? Volumes upon volumes of
Talmud have been written in an attempt to spell out the answer.
"Interpretations," ergo disputes, ergo not "inerrant."
Returning to the question of “the correct translation.”
When the fundamentalists claim that the Bible is “inerrant” – literally true
from back to front – which Bible are they talking about? If they mean the
English translations, then there is no point going back to original Hebrew,
Aramaic, or Greek texts to dig out the “correct meaning.” It’s there in
plain English. The Lord God apparently guided the hands of King James’
scholars, through every word. Or if not those scholars, then those who
translated a different Bible into English.
But which? If God won’t tell us, then to the degree that those many Bibles
differ, to that degree they are “errant” – subject to error.
So instead, like my correspondent, we look to the sources, for the
“original” words and meanings. But again, which sources?
It gets worse. No one fully understands ancient languages. The best experts
on the meaning of ancient Hebrew or classical Greek and Latin were those who
spoke it and wrote it as their first languages – and they are all dead, of
course. (For that matter, “living” natural languages are inherently vague
and ambiguous to some degree – but let’s not get into that. To get some idea
of what I mean, one should read the late works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and I
wouldn’t wish that on anyone).
So modern scholars do the best they can by reading ancient texts as they try
to “get into the heads” of those who wrote them. And, of course, those
scholars disagree with each other – even if one or another of them
entertains the colossal conceit that they are reading, and understanding,
the “inerrant word of God.”
So who will tell which of these worthies really has a grip on “God’s Words.”
Is it just possible that none of them has that grip?
The Mormons’ eighth “Article of Faith” reads, in part: “We believe the Bible
to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly...” This is
presumably the position taken by most Christians who believe the Bible to be
The kicker is that “translated correctly” bit. Who is to decide whether a
translation is “correct” or not. On this, God is silent. So when the
preacher pounds his Bible and says "THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD (assuming, of
course, it is translated correctly, which we can't know for sure)" he can
not claim to be speaking God's “inerrant” truth.
It comes to this: If there is no “inerrant” way to determine which
translation or interpretation of text is the one, singular, “inerrant” Holy
Truth of the Bible, then there is no “inerrant”Biblical truth. Once you add
the qualifier, “as far as it is translated correctly,” you have given away
Some logicians call this “the bottleneck problem,” but it might better be
called “the weakest link in the chain problem.”
Here’s another example. According to Catholic doctrine, the Pope speaks “the
infallible truth” when he speaks “ex cathedra” – from his “office” -- on
matters of faith and morals.
Let’s assume he does so. (Of course I don’t, but let’s be hypothetical
here). But do we know, infallibly, when the Pope is speaking infallibly (ex
cathedra)? If not, then nothing the Pope says is infallible. The “fallible”
ex cathedra criterion is the weak link in the chain.
To sum up: Let’s suppose that when the Pentateuch (the first five books) was
written (presumably in Mesopotamia during the Babylonian Captivity in the
sixth century BC) The Lord God Himself was in the room dictating inerrant
Holy Truth to the scribes. He did so in a language half forgotten today, and
on a manuscript that is long lost. The “chain of custody” – copies of
copies, translations of translations – is long and replete with uncounted
“weak links.” This is equally the case with New Testament texts.
Because the “weak links” in this “chain of custody” are fallible (“errant”),
so too is the received text that we have today – no matter how perfectly and
“inerrantly” true the original message might be.
So when some preacher tells you that he is speaking the inerrant word of
God, hold fast to your critical intellect, and to your wallet.
“Henry Drummond” (patterned after Clarence Darrow) said it well in the play
and movie, “Inherit the Wind:” “The Bible is a Book. A good Book. But it’s
not the only book.”
June 28, 2005
Who Are You Going to Believe, Prof. Griffin or Your Own
Prof. David Ray Griffin, Author of
The New Pearl Harbor, would
have us believe that the World Trade Center was brought down
demolition charges. (See also these reviews of The New Pearl Harbor
in “Interlink” and
The accusation has recently been seconded by
Morgan Reynolds, a former economist in the administration of Bush the
As with Prof. Griffin’s accusation that the Pentagon was hit by a missile on
9/11 (see my blog of May, 2004),
this hypothesis is too much for me to swallow.
If, in fact, the professor is right, then the WTC caper was an amazing feat
of timing and coordination. I dare say an unbelievable feat.
1. No one doubts that the towers were hit by commercial airliners. There
were hundreds of eyewitnesses, and the impacts were recorded on tape, which
we all have seen many times.
2. It is also certain that the planes were taken over by “Arab-looking” and
Arabic-speaking hijackers. This was observed and reported by the flight crew
and passengers on the doomed airliners.
3. As we have all seen many times, the collapse of both towers began at the
points of impact. The south tower, you may recall, tilted at that
point as it began to fall --
as you can see here.
Given all this, this must be the scenario that Prof. Griffin would have us
1. The caper involved ultra-right conspirators (The CIA? Neo-Cons?
Busheviks? Who knows?) allied with a bunch of Arabs who were somehow
persuaded to sacrifice their lives for some unidentified (and scarcely
imaginable) purpose in concert with the domestic conspirators.
2. The demolition charges were set to go off at the moment of impact, which
means that the conspiracy involved the convergence of two separate chains of
3. Those who set the charges had the uncanny knowledge beforehand of exactly
where the planes would hit the towers, and placed the explosives at those
locations. (Otherwise, the towers would not have begun to collapse at the
points of impact). Furthermore, the charges would have to survive the
impacts and the conflagration of jet fuel before they were set off.
Furthermore, Prof. must explain these troubling anomalies:
4. If, as claimed by "eyewitnesses," demolition charges were set at
the basement and/or ground floor, they were duds. As we have all seen
on TV, planned demolitions with charges set at the ground floor, collapse
from the ground up. Not so with the WTC. All photographic
evidence shows the towers collapsing from the points of impact, down.
(Show me authentic footage of the towers collapsing at the ground, and I
5. There is no photographic evidence whatever of explosions other than the
fuel fireballs seen at the moments of impact.
Sorry, but it’s just too much. This time "the official version" makes
complete sense. The supporting structure of the WTC towers was along
the outside walls, not, as usual with skyscrapers, at the center.
Thus, when the side was taken out by the impact, and the remaining sides
were weakened by the intense heat, the collapse of the buildings due to the
overhead weight was inevitable.
Equally implausible is Griffin's theory that the Pentagon was hit by a missile, notwithstanding
photographic and eyewitness evidence that an airliner was involved,
possessions of the victims and airliner parts found among the rubble, and a
failure to explain where Flight 77 Might have gone if the missile theory
were correct. (But that’s another story. About which,
see my April, 2004 blog).
Maybe I’m missing something, and to be honest, I haven’t read Griffin’s book
– deterred by the prima facie implausibility of his claims. And quite
frankly, I would hate to be proven wrong should this case ever be “broken.”
So I’ll hear him out and read further, but I will do so mindful that he has
a huge burden of common sense objections to overcome.
To repeat my concluding comments about Griffin’s Pentagon/Missile
The case against the Bush administration is overwhelming: election
fraud in Florida [and in Ohio], demonstrably false grounds for initiating a war, the
"purchase" of federal offices and public legislation by campaign
contributors, and on and on. All this cries for removal of the Busheviks
from office at least, and more appropriately for criminal prosecution.
This case must be proclaimed persistently and vehemently. But the case is
not served by wild and demonstrably false fantasies. The Bushistas, and
their media camp-followers, are desperately looking for means to divert
public attention from the crimes of this administration. Wild accusations
such as those put forward by Griffin, by inviting a smear of the
opposition with the tar of "kookery," can only give aid and comfort to
Seems to me that this is, if anything, more true today than it was when I
wrote it more than a year ago.
A Postscript -- July 26, 2005.
The Crisis Papers received numerous letters critical of this analysis,
which is unusual for a blog. The following is my reply to many of
those letters posted in the July 5 CP update (no longer available, due to
our "Three Week Rule"):
Those who have read my work will know that I have
no particular motivation to defend Bush and his cohorts and no
inclination to accept uncritically an "official version" of
anything issuing from Bush's Administration.
My reflections on the Pentagon and WTC attacks are based on nothing
more than what appears to be abundant evidence and common sense.
Because I can't respond to these replies point by point, instead I
will recapitulate what strikes me as the most compelling reasons to
disbelieve (a) the missile attack on the Pentagon, and (b) the
controlled demolition of the WTC.
1. The eyewitness problem. Google "pentagon september-11
eyewitnesses" and you will get 17,200 hits.
here you will find eyewitness accounts by dozens of named
individuals, testifying that they saw a plane hit the Pentagon. Many
more accounts if you surf the Google list. Still more physical
evidence, including photos of airplane parts at the scene, can be
Finally, read the debunking from the indispensable
Now am I asked to believe that hundreds of eyewitnesses, many of them
commuters on the freeways, were either hallucinating or all part of a
gigantic cover-up plot? Were the conspirators so thorough that they
arrived on the scene and scattered thousands of airplane parts, along
with personal effects and body parts of the passengers of Flight 77 just to
cover-up the missile attack? Gimme a break!
2. The missing airliner and passengers. Prof. Griffin shrugs
off this little anomaly with the remark, "I have no idea what happened
to Flight 77." It's a bit like a defense attorney saying at trial, "I
have no explanation as to why my client was found at the scene of the
crime with a smoking gun in his hand, but never mind all that." So we
are asked to believe that, simultaneously with the Pentagon attack, a
commercial airliner disappeared "somewhere," along with the crew and
passengers, and no trace has yet been found of the aircraft or any of its
passengers. No missile theory can be credible without some explanation
offered as to the (allegedly alternative) fate of Flight 77. I
have read no such explanation.
3. The collapsing at point of impact at the WTC. Once again, the collapse of both
towers began at the points of impact. Its on video tape and film, and
we've all seen it time and again. And if that's not good enough,
see it again
here. The "controlled demolition theory" requires
that the collapses begin where the charges were set. How remarkable
that those who set the charges and those who aimed the planes all knew
beforehand at just what floor in each tower, the planes would hit. As
for the other alleged demolition charges, show me the photographic evidence. And falling
debris does not cut it.
As for the demands that I read Griffin's book, I reply with a emphatic
"maybe." I will also continue to read still more essay-sized accounts
of the conspiracy theories. Life is short, and I have a website to run
and a book to write. Because some hard choices must be made, not all
"leads" can be followed, and not all suspicions have an equal claim on
my time and attention.
Several years ago, I happened to notice at the grocery check-out
stand, a tabloid headline that shouted: "Twelve US Senators are Space
Aliens." Somehow, in that case I felt no obligation to "read further."
But, as Dennis Miller says, "that's just my
opinion, and I may be wrong." But if so, kindly show me the
evidence and explain the anomalies.
How the Democrats Might “Select” Our Next President.
It’s complicated and very unlikely, but still conceivable and completely
As we well know, those of us who are eager to see Dubya impeached and
removed from office, hesitate at the thought that he would be succeeded by
Not to worry. The Veep can be impeached along with the President, and God
knows there are more than adequate grounds to toss out Cheney along with The
The next in line would be the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947).
Clearly, Bush/Cheney could only be impeached if the Democrats took the House
in January, 2007, following the November 2006 election. In that case, there
would be a new Democratic Speaker.
If both Bush and Cheney were impeached by the House, and subsequently
removed by a vote of two-thirds of the Senate, the Speaker would become
Now it gets interesting. As the vote on conviction and removal approaches,
the Democratic Party might leaders deliberate as to who would be the ideal
President – perhaps Al Gore, perhaps John Kerry, perhaps someone else.
The Democratic Speaker volunteers to be a "conduit" to this succession.
Bush and Cheney are then removed, and the Speaker becomes President.
In accordance with the 25th Amendment (1967), the new President then nominates the Democrat’s choice as Vice President, who is
then confirmed by the Congress, whereupon the “interim President” resigns.
The selected Vice President then becomes the President.
Hail to the Chief!
IRAQ TO US: THANK YOU, NOW GO HOME!
Almost by accident, I learned that a sizeable portion of the Iraqi
Parliament has requested that the occupying American forces leave their
country, post haste.
Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum called for the
withdrawal of foreign forces from their country in a letter released to
the media June 19....
Eighty-two Shiite, Kurdish, Sunni Arab, Christian and communist deputies
made the call in a letter sent by Falah Hassan Shanshal of the United
Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the largest group in parliament, to speaker Hajem
In the letter, Shanshal said the 275-member parliament was the Iraqi
people’s legitimate representative and guardian of their interests.
”We have asked in several sessions for occupation troops to withdraw,” the
letter said. “Our request was ignored.” ...
”Therefore we must reject the occupation’s legitimacy and renew our demand
for these forces to withdraw,” the letter added.
And where did I find this bit of conceivably significant news? In
Agence France Presse (Paris), June 24.
In the American mainstream media? Nada. Nichivo.
So I guess it never really happened.
Just like the Downing Street Memos.
October 26, 2005
After a hiatus of four months, it is long past time to revive this blog.
This neglect is due to a book in progress, and the plain fact that the
management and maintenance of The Crisis Papers is simply too much
for three people, however dedicated. The blog is something I do when all
else is done and some spare time is available. Well, I rarely get that far
down the priority list.
But now, clearly, the pace of history is accelerating, and momentous events
are afoot. So the blog returns.
THOUGHTS ON FITZMAS EVE.
In the Chinese language, "crisis" is written by combining the
characters designating "danger" and "opportunity."
It is likely that in a few hours -- quite possibly before you read this --
Patrick Fitzgerald's indictments (if any) will be announced. Last chance for
As usual, the mainstream media continues to treat the Bush regime as if it
were a legitimate government -- fairly elected and constrained by the rule
of law -- instead of the crime syndicate
that it is. Thus we are expected to assume that Fitzgerald is an
independent prosecutor, free to follow the evidence where it leads.
Few appreciate that if he and his grand jury hand down indictments that
reach into the White House, this will be an act of extraordinary courage,
perhaps too much courage to expect of ordinary mortals. For this prosecutor
is no fool, and he is well aware of the fate of Paul Wellstone and Mel
Carnahan, and of the still unsolved anthrax attacks on Tom Daschle and
Patrick Leahy. Perhaps coincidences -- but can he, and we, be certain of
this? Is the Bushevik regime really capable of pre-meditated murder? Ask the
parents, wives and children of 2000 lost soldiers, and the tens of thousands
of bereaved Iraqi families.
We too easily forget just how much is at stake in this investigation.
Billions of dollars have been looted from the public treasury and put in the
hands of the super-wealthy individuals and the corporations that "sponsor"
the Bush regime, as the nation's wealth flows ever-faster from those workers
who create the wealth into the hands of those who own and control the
wealth. And these very few privileged individuals fully intend to keep their
ill-gotten gains, no matter what the cost. Federal and international laws
have been openly violated by the Busheviks, far beyond those investigated by
Fitzgerald and his grand jury: an aggressive war, torture, deliberate
lies to Congress and the American people, graft, obstruction of justice,
voting fraud, open violation of civil liberties clearly specified in the
Bill of Rights. The felons responsible for all this are well aware that if
they are undone by the enforcement of the law and lose control of the
federal government, they face, not comfortable retirement, but imprisonment.
Do you really suppose that they are now dumb-frozen, like shackled
defendants at trial, passively awaiting the judgment of the law and
incapable of resistance and retaliation? The media would have you believe
In fact, if the prosecutor and the grand jury indict, they will do so at
great personal peril.
And yet, they might nonetheless follow the law and their sworn duty, in what
might be the last chance to restore our republic to the people -- to "the
consent of the governed."
I desperately hope that in the next day or so, they will do just that -- and
that, at last, the media and the American people, of all political
persuasions, will stand behind them and in defiance of the oligarchs who
have all but stolen our country from us.
If those indictments are handed down tomorrow or the following day, it will
not be an ending, it will be the beginning of a deadly and prolonged
This gathering storm in the life of our republic reminds me of Costas-Gravas'
1969 movie, "Z," which depicts the revolution in Greece. As the reformers
are at the brink of victory and a restoration of democratic government, a
leader of the reform is assassinated, the military takes brutal control, and
a dark night of tyranny descends.
Consider too the brief moment and the fate of the reformist Kerensky
government following the Russian revolution of 1917.
Can it happen here?
The beast is wounded and cornered, and thus very dangerous.
Yet we cannot abandon the field -- not if Patrick Fitzpatrick and the grand
jury hand down indictments, and with them an opportunity for the American
people to take back their government and their country.
AN OMINOUS ALERT FROM THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL
Philosophers on a number of public and private university campuses have
become targets of a nationally funded and well-organized campaign to achieve
what is seen as political balance and the reduction of liberal bias.
Supporters propose the establishment of government oversight of curricula,
teaching, hiring, and promotion, through Academic Bill of Rights legislation
introduced in several states and the U.S. Congress. The APA Committee for
the Defense of Professional Rights of Philosophers is also concerned about
recent incidents that have employed harassment and defamation of character
to express opposition to the alleged political views of professors of
philosophy and other professors. Such incidents include students' disrupting
instruction (e.g., by posting unauthorized "class cancelled" signs) and
publicly labeling faculty members "communists" or "terrorist sympathizers."
Because such actions have a chilling effect on academic freedom, they have
been reported to the committee, which urges all APA members to inform
themselves about such egregious actions. It also urges them to study the
implications of the "Academic Bill of Rights" campaign for the exercise of
APA Committee for the Defense of Professional Rights of Philosophers.
October 28, 2005
The Mountain Has Labored and Brought Forth a Mouse
"Fitzmas" has arrived, and the American people have been given a lump of
coal for their stockings.
At least, that's how it appears to this observer, a scant few hours after
Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby --
and no one else.
To be sure, there are hints that Fitzgerald's investigations will continue
with a new grand jury, and that Karl Rove remains legally vulnerable. We can
always hope, but prepare yourselves for a disappointment. In the meantime,
as Rove, Cheney and Dubya apparently dodge these legal bullets, the
right-wing screech merchants on AM radio and the camp-following pundits will