Recent Entries in Politics

Neat essay on the politics and US foreign policy by Noam Chomsky.

Noam Chomsky is a major figure in twentieth-century linguistics. Born in Philadelphia in 1928, he's taught since 1955 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became a full professor at the age of 32.

In addition to his work as a linguist, Chomsky has written many books on contemporary issues. His political talks have been heard, typically by standing-room-only audiences, all over the country and the globe.

In a saner world, his tireless efforts to promote justice would have long since won him the Nobel Peace Prize, but the committee keeps giving it to people like Henry Kissinger.

If you're used to thinking of the United States as the defender of democracy throughout the world, you'll find much of what you read in this book incredible. But Chomsky is a scholar; the facts in this book are just that, and every conclusion is backed by massive evidence (see the notes for references to some of it).

It was very hard to compress the vast sweep of Chomsky's social thought into so small a book. You'll find a list of his other political books, which cover the topics introduced here in infinitely greater detail, on p. 102.

Hundreds of tapes and transcripts of Chomsky's talks and interviews (and those of many other interesting speakers) are available from David Barsamian, 2129 Mapleton, Boulder CO 80304, 303/444-8788 (free catalog on request).

Uncle Sam: Editors' forword

Hrmmm. Apparently now they consider creationism to be a "religion"....

The Tulsa Park and Recreation Board voted 3-1 on Tuesday in favor of a display depicting God's creation of the world in six days and his rest on the seventh, as told in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

The vote came after more than two hours of public comment from a standing-room-only crowd.

Zoo employees, religious leaders and others spoke in opposition, saying religion shouldn't be part of the taxpayer-funded scientific institution.

But those who favored the creationist exhibit, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, argued that the zoo already displayed religious items, including the statue of the Hindu god, Ganesh, outside the elephant exhibit and a marble globe inscribed with an American Indian saying: "The earth is our mother. The sky is our father."

CNN.com - Zoo to feature creationism display - Jun 8, 2005

U.S. government authorities may prosecute sick people who smoke pot on doctors' orders, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state medical marijuana laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug.

The decision is a defeat for medical marijuana advocates who had lobbied successfully in 10 states to allow marijuana use for medical reasons.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.

CBS News | Prescription Pot Laws Up In Smoke | June 6, 2005�20:30:25

HUMAN EVENTS asked a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders to help us compile a list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Each panelist nominated a number of titles and then voted on a ballot including all books nominated. A title received a score of 10 points for being listed No. 1 by one of our panelists, 9 points for being listed No. 2, etc. Appropriately, The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, earned the highest aggregate score and the No. 1 listing.

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

  Fox News Admits Bias!

Sound the klaxons! Corporate Message breakdown at Fox News! This is not a drill. Repeat: This is not a drill. Assume battle stations! Fire in the hole! A-woo-ga! A-woo-ga!

The usually disciplined foot soldiers at Fox News have long maintained that their news organization is not biased in favor of conservatism. This charade is so important to Fox News that the company has actually sought to trademark the phrase "fair and balanced" (which is a bit like Richard Nixon trademarking the phrase "not a crook"). No fair-minded person actually believes that Fox News is unbiased, so pretending that it is calls for steely corporate resolve. On occasion, this vigilance pays off. Last year, for example, the Wall Street Journal actually ran a correction after its news pages described Fox News, accurately, as "a network sympathetic to the Bush cause and popular with Republicans." Getting one of this country's most prestigious newspapers to state that up is down and black is white is no small public-relations victory, and if we can't admire Fox News' candor, we can at least marvel at its ability to remain on message. Or rather, we could admire it, before Scott Norvell went and shot his big mouth off.

Fox News Admits Bias! - Its London bureau chief blurts out the political slant that dare not speak its name. By Timothy Noah

The right-wing's multi-front war on American democracy now aims at our core belief in separation of church and state. It includes an attempt to say the founding fathers endorsed the idea that this is a "Christian nation," with an official religion.

But the founders---and a vast majority of Americans---repeatedly, vehemently and with stunning clarity denounced, rejected and despised such beliefs.

Nowhere in the Constitution they wrote does the word "Christian" or the name of Christ appear. The very first phrase of the First Amendment demands that "Congress shall make no law concerning an establishment of religion."

The Free Press -- Independent News Media - Harvey Wasserman

Amnesty International said Wednesday that the United States' treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib had emboldened abusive regimes and weakened human rights around the world.

The group's annual report, "The State of the World's Human Rights,'' provides a harshly worded critique of U.S. conduct toward its prisoners alongside accounts of oppression in China and genocide in Sudan, saying the U. S. behavior "grants a license to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity.''

William Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, called on foreign governments to consider prosecuting top-ranking officials --

including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- if the U.S. refused to conduct a more thorough and independent investigation.

American treatment of prisoners assailed / Conduct weakens rights around world, group says

I cannot get out of my mind the recent news photos of ordinary Americans sitting on chairs, guns on laps, standing unofficial guard on the Arizona border, to make sure no Mexicans cross over into the United States. There was something horrifying in the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have carved up what we claim is one world into 200 artificially created entities we call "nations" and armed to apprehend or kill anyone who crosses a boundary.

Is not nationalism--that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder--one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking--cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on--have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica, and many more). But in a nation like ours--huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction--what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

The Scourge of Nationalism

British Member of Parliament George Galloway returned to the UK Wednesday confident he won a fiery showdown with U.S. senators who have accused him of profiting from the U.N.'s defunct oil-for-food program in Iraq.

Galloway said he was "absolutely" convinced he had been vindicated from allegations that he received vouchers for 20 million barrels of oil from Saddam Hussein's regime.

"These people think they can smear people without them having the right to speak back and this time I got that right and I knocked them for six," he told reporters before leaving the U.S.

CNN.com - Galloway: I won Senate showdown - May 18, 2005

The Pentagon on Friday recommended closing 33 major military installations in the United States in a realignment that apparently also would cut 29,000 military and civilian jobs.

The 28-page list of recommended changes appeared to show a net loss of 10,782 military positions and 18,223 civilian positions, with 2,818 added contractor posts created.

Military officials said the document also called for closing or realigning 775 smaller military locations.

CNN.com - Closure list targets 33 major U.S. bases - May 13, 2005

  Apocalypse Soon

Robert McNamara is worried. He knows how close we've come. His counsel helped the Kennedy administration avert nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Today, he believes the United States must no longer rely on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. To do so is immoral, illegal, and dreadfully dangerous.

Foreign Policy: Apocalypse Soon

Prime Minister Tony Blair paid at the polls for his friendship with George W. Bush and his backing of the Iraq war. Now he may have trouble playing the role of faithful U.S. ally on any future military mission.

The prime minister was able to drag Britain into war despite resistance among the public and even within his own Labour Party largely because his huge majority of 161 seats in Parliament gave him a broad mandate to dictate foreign policy.

Voters' Slap Likely to Limit Tony Blair

Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday.

"Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," Robertson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"I think we have controlled Al Qaeda," the 700 Club host said, but warned of "erosion at home" and said judges were creating a "tyranny of oligarchy."

Confronted by Stephanopoulos on his claims that an out-of-control liberal judiciary is the worst threat America has faced in 400 years - worse than Nazi Germany, Japan and the Civil War - Robertson didn't back down.

New York Daily News - World & National Report - Robertson: Judges worse than Al Qaeda

The U.S. is not Argentina. Certainly not.

Real wages in this country aren't 20 percent lower than they were seven years ago, goods imported from Europe don't cost more than four times as they did then and 40 percent of the population isn't living in poverty.

Still, there are some disturbing parallels between the U.S. of today and the Argentina of the 1990s when the country was living well beyond its means, borrowing abroad to finance large budget and current account deficits, while government leaders ignored the urgent need for more prudent fiscal policies.

Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg Columnists

  But Did He Inhale?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a cigar is an economic prop to a brutal totalitarian regime. Arguing against loosening sanctions against Cuba last year, DeLay warned that Fidel Castro "will take the money. Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor."

TIME.com: But Did He Inhale?

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Tuesday to succeed Pope John Paul II, was a close confidant of the late pontiff and fellow conservative.

The newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, who turned 78 on Saturday, will be expected to maintain John Paul II's deeply conservative line.

At the age of 14, he joined the Hitler Youth, as was required of young Germans of the time, but was not an enthusiastic member.

Joseph Ratzinger, an ex-member of Hitler Youth- The Times of India

Iraq, Kashmir, Palestine, Northern Ireland: The root causes of the world's hottest conflicts lie in the break-up of Europe's colonial empires. But who dares admit it?

Do you want to know the real scandal of the year 2005?

According to The Sun in England and the world press, the scandal occurred when Prince Harry (son of British Crown Prince Charles) in January showed up at a party in Wiltshire, wearing a German Nazi uniform.

Aljazeera.Net - Original axis of evil: Colonial empires

Conspiracy theorists and civil libertarians, fear not. The U.S. government will not use radio-frequency identification tags in the passports it issues to millions of Americans in the coming years.

Instead, the government will use "contactless chips."

Wired News: RFID Cards Get Spin Treatment

In a blistering report made public Thursday, a presidential panel said that U.S. intelligence agencies were "dead wrong" in almost all their assertions before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The commission said that the inaccurate intelligence assessment, frequently voiced by senior U.S. officials as the reason for going to war, brought harm to U.S. credibility around the world.

"We conclude that the intelligence was dead wrong in almost all its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," the panel said.

The harm caused by the failure "will take years to undo," said the panel, headed by retired Judge Laurence Silberman, a Republican, and former Democratic Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia. "We simply cannot afford failure of this magnitude."

Critical U.S. intelligence gathering remains a serious problem, the panel said, noting that the Central Intelligence Agency and the rest of the spy community know "disturbingly little about the nuclear programs of many of the world's most dangerous nations."

Modbee.com | The Modesto Bee

In 2004 the atrocity of US troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the dark side of human rights performance of the United States. The scandal shocked the humanity and was condemned by the international community. It is quite ironic that on Feb. 28 of this year, the State Department of the United States once again posed as the "the world human rights police" and released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. As in previous years, the reports pointed fingers at human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions (including China) but kept silent on the US misdeeds in this field. Therefore, the world people have to probe the human rights record behind the Statue of Liberty in the United States.

People's Daily Online -- Full text of Human Rights Record of the US in 2004

  Life Everlasting

The religious right and the right to die

This is the ballad of Doctor Lloyd Thompson, who may or may not have hastened a patient's death. This is a song about American secular democracy, which may be under a sentence of death, and about those forces gathering at the gallows. Most of all, this is a song about who owns your life.

Dr. Thompson will never be as well known as Timothy Quill or as notorious as Jack Kevorkian. He will be remembered, and doubtless would choose to be remembered, as a founder of one of Vermont's first hospice programs, which serves the geographical area where I happen to live and where I hope, not any time soon, to die. He also makes house calls, and therefore might have merited a ballad even without careening so close to outlawry.

Life Everlasting (Harpers.org)


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