Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 30:

1886 : Folies Bergere stage first revue

Once a hall for operettas, pantomime, political
meetings, and vaudeville, the Folies Bergère in Paris
introduces an elaborate revue featuring women in
sensational costumes. The highly popular "Place aux
Jeunes" established the Folies as the premier
nightspot in Paris. In the 1890s, the Folies followed
the Parisian taste for striptease and quickly gained a
reputation for its spectacular nude shows. The theater
spared no expense, staging revues that featured as
many as 40 sets, 1,000 costumes, and an off-stage crew
of some 200 people.

The Folies Bergère dates back to 1869, when it opened
as one of the first major music halls in Paris. It
produced light opera and pantomimes with unknown
singers and proved a resounding failure. Greater
success came in the 1870s, when the Folies Bergère
staged vaudeville. Among other performers, the early
vaudeville shows featured acrobats, a snake charmer, a
boxing kangaroo, trained elephants, the world's
tallest man, and a Greek prince who was covered in
tattoos allegedly as punishment for trying to seduce
the Shah of Persia's daughter. The public was allowed
to drink and socialize in the theater's indoor garden
and promenade area, and the Folies Bergère became
synonymous with the carnal temptations of the French
capital. Famous paintings by Édouard Manet and Henri
de Toulouse-Lautrec were set in the Folies.

In 1886, the Folies Bergère went under new management,
which, on November 30, staged the first revue-style
music hall show. The "Place aux Jeunes," featuring
scantily clad chorus girls, was a tremendous success.
The Folies women gradually wore less and less as the
20th century approached, and the show's costumes and
sets became more and more outrageous. Among the
performers who got their start at the Folies Bergère
were Yvette Guilbert, Maurice Chevalier, and
Mistinguett. The African American dancer and singer
Josephine Baker made her Folies debut in 1926, lowered
from the ceiling in a flower-covered sphere that
opened onstage to reveal her wearing a G-string
ornamented with bananas.

The Folies Bergère remained a success throughout the
20th century and still can be seen in Paris today,
although the theater now features many mainstream
concerts and performances. Among other traditions that
date back more than a century, the show's title always
contains 13 letters and includes the word "Folie."

Impeachment Day: December 10th

Impeachment Events on December 10 Multiplying Fast

More and more groups and individuals are planning events to mark Human Rights and Impeachment Day on Sunday, December 10. (Except NYC which will be Saturday December 9.)

This is a chance to get organized locally and learn what's needed to lobby the new Congress for the investigations and impeachment hearings that will restore the rule of law to America.

You can sign up to attend a town hall forum, rally, vigil, training session, or house party in your area.

Or create a new event and post it online for others to sign up and attend.

If you choose to organize a new event or to help organize one that's already being planned, you'll want to check the list of available speakers and the many useful resources (petitions, information sheets, talking points, tools for honoring fallen troops, dramatic plays, videos, songs, imPEACHment food, shirts, signs, puppets) linked to from this page:

Be the Media

Please remember to send us reports, photos, and links to audio and video of your event.

Events Already Planned

  • New York, NY, (Dec. 9th) with Elizabeth Holtzman, Cindy Sheehan, Bob Fertik;
  • Santa Barbara, CA, with Ann Wright, David Swanson, Rae Abileah, Elizabeth De la Vega, Dennis Loo, Geoff Millard;
  • San Francisco, CA, Under the spot where the UN signed its charter 60 years ago, with Larry Everest, Peter Phillips, musicians, and Human Rights "carolers" in Orange Jump Suits;
  • Los Angeles, CA, an Impeachment Workshop providing materials for people to become media/street heat activists on the topic of Impeachment;
  • San Fernando Valley, CA, with Paul Koretz; Elizabeth de la Vega; Dennis Loo, David Swanson;
  • Chula Vista, CA, with Jeeni Criscenzo;
  • Seattle, WA, Rally;
  • Walla Walla, WA, Rally;
  • Friday Harbor, WA, (Dec. 1st) Rally;
  • Taos, NM, with Keith McHenry, Lisa Law;
  • Las Cruces, NM, Discussion;
  • Eden Prairie, MN, Rally and Demonstration;
  • Paragould, AR, Demonstration;
  • Chicago, IL, Rally: bring signs and banners;
  • Kalamazoo, MI, Poetry, video, forum, demonstration;
  • Athens, GA, Discussion;
  • Tallahassee, FL, Rally for War Crimes Trials with speakers, petitions, and fact sheets;
  • Gainesville, FL, Impeach, Indict, Imprison! event;
  • Jacksonville, FL, Rally to demand impeachment of Bush and Cheney;
  • Washington, DC, panel-led discussion and multi-media presentation, with Bush Chain Gang;
  • Washington, DC, (Dec. 4th) forum with Cynthia McKinney, Chris Hedges, Ray McGovern;
  • Wayne, NJ, Why New Jersey Must Impeach the Bush Gang;
  • Brooklyn, NY, Musical Ceolebration with Yikes McGee, George Mann, Julius Margolin, Alec Duffy;
  • Providence, RI, Rally and March;
  • Cambridge, MA, forum with notable musicians, activists, and orators.

Sign up to attend any of these events, or organize your own event, large or small:


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ED KEMMICK, BILLINGS GAZETTE, MT Steve Corrick, an election-reform
advocate in Missoula, has a simple formula for ensuring the most
reliable election results: "Trust paper, and then count the paper."

That, in essence, is also what is required under Montana law. A bill
enacted by the 2005 Legislature requires all voting technology in the
state to use paper ballots that also can be counted by hand.

That's why the most recent election - when the eyes of the nation were
trained on a handful of all-night tabulations in Montana, with the
balance of the U.S. Senate at stake - didn't turn into a Florida-style
debacle. It may have been a long night, but nobody questioned the
results the next morning.

It is also why the balance of the Montana House of Representatives will
be decided Tuesday in Yellowstone County, where a tie vote in a Laurel
House race will be subjected to a hand recount of nearly 4,500 ballots.
Some states use electronic voting devices that involve a touch screen.
With those, there is no paper trail, no way of verifying results or
conducting a recount. In Montana, 16 sparsely populated counties still
hand-count ballots, but even in counties where optical scanners are used
to tally votes, the ballots, with their penciled-in ovals, can be
examined by hand, as in the recount planned for Tuesday.

Having those paper ballots to fall back on is a distinction that makes
Montana the envy of election activists in many states.

Warren Stewart, a Californian who is the policy director for Vote Trust
USA, said there is no replacement for being able to examine individual
paper ballots manually filled out by voters.

"By and large, the system you have in place in Montana is the system we
advocate most strongly for," he said.

John Gideon of Seattle, executive director of Voters Unite, said paper
ballots are "the gold standard.". . .

Rep. Brady Wiseman, D-Bozeman, who introduced the law requiring paper
ballots in the 2005 session and who was elected to a second term on Nov.
7, said the next reform needed is a law mandating an audit of election
results. The audit would involve hand-counting a large sample of paper
ballots from each precinct in counties where vote-counting machines are
used, then running those votes through the machines again to measure
their accuracy. . .

Wiseman said a private company looking to buy machines to perform a
function as important as counting votes would insist on a "huge number
of acceptance tests" before closing the deal, and election officials
should insist on no less. "The missing link in our election technology
at this point is random audits on vote-counting machines," Wiseman said.
. .

Sara Busey of Missoula, the Help America Vote Act representative for the
Montana League of Women Voters, said the requirement for an
audit-recount will be the league's top priority for election reform in
the upcoming legislative session. She said 26 states have some kind of
mandatory paper trail for votes, and 15 of those require random audits.
. . .

BRAD BLOG - Ron Rivest visited Georgia on Nov. 7 and has recently
reported on what he saw as he visited with the head of the state's
elections and some polls in different counties. He was told by Kathy
Rogers, the state elections boss, that the state did illegally use
uncertified software in 2002. Rivest also found that the state seems to
have decided it's OK to violate federal law as they turn voters with
questionable registrations away from the polls without offering them a
provisional ballot. . .

BRAD BLOG - The Alaska Division of Elections is violating the public
records law and should immediately release copies of the electronic
records of the 2006 election results so they can be examined before the
election is certified, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe said
today. . . On Nov. 7, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides
ordered the Division of Elections to preserve backup copies of the
state's 2006 electronic computer database and subsequent tallies of the
election results. The Division of Elections had refused to make backup
copies of the Diebold computer GEMS database in response to a request
from the Alaska Democratic Party, which then sought an emergency court
order requiring that copies be preserved of these election records. The
Judge agreed with the Democratic Party and issued a temporary
restraining order . . .



ZOGBY - Just two years after 40% of Hispanic Americans voted for
Republican President George W. Bush's reelection, far fewer say they
think the Republican Party understands them best, a new Zogby - Hispanic
PR Wire telephone poll shows. Barely one in five Hispanic voters - 23% -
said they felt the Republican Party understands them best, compared to
56% who said they think Democrats know them better, the new survey

Even among Hispanics who said they were themselves Republicans, just 76%
said they thought the GOP understood them best. Another 8% said the
Libertarian Party best understood them, 7% thought Democrats knew them
better, while 10% of Republicans said that either another party better
understood them, or that they were unsure. Among Democratic Hispanics,
83% said their own party better understood them, while 4% said
Republicans understood them best. Another 7% of Democrats said other
minor parties had the best understanding of them, while 7% were

Asked which political party is best equipped to manage a handful of
important issues, Hispanics who said they had voted in the recent
congressional midterm elections favored Democrats on each by wide
margins, including immigration, where 49% said Democrats were better
equipped to manage the issue, compared to 26% who favored the

The longer the respondent's family had been in America, the more likely
they were to support Democrats over Republicans on the issue, the survey
showed. While 43% of those not born in the U.S. said Democrats were
better equipped, 56% of those who were fourth-generation Americans or
greater favored Democrats, suggesting that the more familiar Hispanic
voters were with Republican policies, the less they liked them.

The survey also asked a broader pool of respondents including both
Hispanic voters and non-voters which issues they believed were most
important to the nation, where a significant majority cited the Iraq war
as the dominant issue.

While 60% said the Iraq war was one of the two most important issues,
25% cited jobs and the economy as a top concern. Terrorism was mentioned
by 15%, while 13% said dealing with the illegal immigration problem was
a top concern. As with non-Hispanics across the nation, Democratic
Hispanics were more likely than Republican Hispanics to say the Iraq war
was a top concern.



ANDY BROMAGE, NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE - A collective "I told you so" will
ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher
Lohse's study gets out. Lohse, a social work master's student at
Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many
progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between
mental illness and support for President Bush. . .

The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three
Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse's
study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and
statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of
a person's psychosis and their preferences for president: The more
psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic,
listen to Lohse's explanation. "Our study shows that psychotic patients
prefer an authoritative leader," Lohse says. "If your world is very
mixed up, there's something very comforting about someone telling you,
'This is how it's going to be.'". . .

"Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues,
government and politics than those who supported Kerry," the study says.
Lohse says the trend isn't unique to Bush: A 1977 study by Frumkin &
Ibrahim found psychiatric patients preferred Nixon over McGovern in the
1972 election. . .

For his part, Lohse is a self-described "Reagan revolution fanatic" but
said that W. is just "beyond the pale."



LISA SANDBERG EXPRESS-NEWS, TX - A Texas official who receives any sum
of cash as a gift can satisfy state disclosure laws by reporting the
money simply as "currency" without specifying the amount, the Texas
Ethics Commission reiterated. The 5-3 decision outraged watchdog groups
and some officials who accused the commission of failing to enforce
state campaign finance laws. "What the Ethics Commission has done is
legalize bribery in the state of Texas. We call on the commission to
resign en masse," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, who heads Texas Citizen, an
Austin-based group that advocates for campaign finance reform.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, said the
"currency" interpretation would render it "perfectly legal to report the
gift of 'a wheelbarrow' without reporting that the wheelbarrow was
filled with cash." In a letter to commissioners, Earle called such an
analysis "absurd and out of step with both the law and current public
attitudes and concerns about corruption in government." Monday's ruling
was preceded by little discussion.

At their last meeting, commissioners said they would welcome more
precise reporting but were powerless to require it, based on current

"The question here is whether the description of a gift of cash of over
$250 is required to include the value of the gift," the Ethics
Commission opinion said in part. "The term 'description' is not defined
in Chapter 572 of the Government Code, nor is it defined anywhere else
in the Government Code."

"In our opinion, the requirement to describe a gift of cash or cash
equivalent may be satisfied by including in the description the
following: 'currency,' or a description of the gift, such as 'check' or
'money order,' as appropriate," the ruling stated.



[Modern media tends to use itself as a guide to reality. Hence NBC
thinks Iraq's civil war started with its pronouncement that it had.
This, of course, is nonsense, witness the following. Although we did not
run this particularly item, we cited Beeman during both parts of the
Iraq War (under Bush I & II) If NBC had spent less time with "military
experts" and more time with people like Beeman who actually knew the
area, they wouldn't have had to wait so long to make their ex cathedra

one of Islam's holiest shrines not only killed an important Shi'a
leader, it also signals the first shot in an Iraqi civil war that Middle
East experts warned would ensue if Saddam were removed without careful
planning. One of the most consistent and ominous prewar warnings to the
Bush administration by Middle East experts was that removal of Saddam
Hussein without the most careful political and social engineering would
result in the breaking apart of Iraq into warring factions that would
battle each other for decades.

The hawks in the White House would not listen. They were so wedded to
the fantasy scenario that the removal of Saddam in an act of "creative
destruction" would result in the automatic emergence of democracy. They
brushed aside all warnings.

Present-day Iraq was three provinces of the Ottoman Empire before World
War I. It was cobbled together by the British for their own convenience
after that conflict.



[From the Hunger Action Network of New York]

Myth: The government would dictate how physicians practice medicine.

In countries with a national health insurance system, physicians are
rarely questioned about their medical practices (and usually only in
cases of expected fraud). Compare it to today's system, where doctors
routinely have to ask an insurance company permission to perform
procedures, prescribe certain medications, or run certain tests to help
their patients.

Myth: Waits for services would be extremely long.

In countries with NHI, urgent care is always provided immediately. Other
countries do experience some waits for elective procedures (like
cataract removal), but maintaining the US's same level of health
expenditures (twice as much as the next-highest country), waits would be
much shorter or even non-existent. Compared to most other countries with
universal health care, it is the US with the long waiting times -
especially for the tens of millions without health insurance. There
would be no lines under a universal health care system in the United
States because we have about a 30% oversupply of medical equipment and
surgeons, whereas demand would increase about 15%

Myth: People will over-use the system.

Most estimates do indicate that there would be some increased use of the
system (mostly from the 42 million people that are currently uninsured
and therefore not receiving adequate health care), however the
staggering savings from a single-payer system would easily compensate
for this.

Myth: Universal Health Care Would Be Too Expensive

The United States spends at least 40% more per capita on health care
than any other industrialized country with universal health care.
Federal studies by the Congressional Budget Office and the General
Accounting office show that single payer universal health care would
save 100 to 200 billion dollars per year despite covering all the
uninsured and increasing health care benefits. The United States spends
50 to 100% more on administration than single payer systems. By lowering
these administrative costs the United States would have the ability to
provide universal health care, without managed care, increase benefits
and still save money.

Myth: A single payer system Would Result In Government Control And
Intrusion Into Health Care Resulting In Loss Of Freedom Of Choice

There would be free choice of health care providers under a single payer
universal health care system, unlike our current managed care system in
which people are forced to see providers on the insurer's panel to
obtain medical benefits. There would be no management of care under a
single payer system unlike the current managed care system which
mandates insurer pre-approval for services thus undercutting patient
confidentiality and taking health care decisions away from the health
care provider and consumer

Myth: Universal Health Care Is Socialized Medicine And Would Be
Unacceptable To The Public

Single payer universal health care is not socialized medicine. It is
health care payment system, not a health care delivery system. Health
care providers would be in fee for service practice, and would not be
employees of the government, which would be socialized medicine.
Repeated national and state polls have shown that between 60 and 75% of
Americans would like a publicly financed, universal health care system




RILEY YATES, UNION LEADER - Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech
to meet the threat of terrorism. Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester
awards banquet, said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce
terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and
get out their message. "We need to get ahead of the curve before we
actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade,"
said Gingrich, a Republican who helped engineer the GOP's takeover of
Congress in 1994.

Gingrich spoke to about 400 state and local power brokers last night at
the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, which fetes
people and organizations that stand up for freedom of speech.

Gingrich sharply criticized campaign finance laws he charged were
reducing free speech and doing little to fight attack advertising. He
also said court rulings over separation of church and state have hurt
citizens' ability to express themselves and their faith. . .


Experts Concerned as Ballot Problems Persist

By Ian Urbina and Christopher Drew
The New York Times

Sunday 26 November 2006

After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation's voting system, this month's midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls, including failures in sophisticated new voting machines and confusion over new identification rules, according to interviews with election experts and officials.

In many places, the difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots. Still, an association of top state election officials concluded that for the most part, voting went as smoothly as expected.

Over the last three weeks, attention has been focused on a few close races affected by voting problems, including those in Florida and Ohio where counting dragged on for days. But because most of this year's races were not close, election experts say voting problems may actually have been wider than initially estimated, with many malfunctions simply overlooked.

That oversight may not be possible in the presidential election of 2008, when turnout will be higher and every vote will matter in what experts say will probably be a close race.

Voting experts say it is impossible to say how many votes were not counted that should have been. But in Florida alone, the discrepancies reported across Sarasota County and three others amount to more than 60,000 votes. In Colorado, as many as 20,000 people gave up trying to vote, election officials say, as new online systems for verifying voter registrations crashed repeatedly. And in Arkansas, election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000.

"If the success of an election is to be measured according to whether each voter's voice is heard, then we would have to conclude that this past election was not entirely a success," said Doug Chapin, director of, a nonpartisan election group that plans to release a report Wednesday with a state-by-state assessment of voting. "In places where the margin of victory was bigger than the margin of error, we looked away from the problems, but in 2008 we might not have that luxury."

Accusations of missing ballots and vote stuffing were not uncommon with mechanical voting machines. But election experts say that with electronic voting machines, the potential consequences of misdeeds or errors are of a greater magnitude. A single software error can affect thousands of votes, especially with machines that keep no paper record.

There were a few signs of progress this month. Several states that faced computer difficulties in the primaries fixed the kinks by Election Day and were better stocked with backup paper ballots. Fears that more stringent identification laws in Indiana and Arizona would create confusion at the polls did not pan out.

And though recent test runs of new computerized voter registration rolls in Indiana and Missouri revealed large numbers of errors, on Election Day reports of problems with the databases were few and isolated. The National Association of Secretaries of States, which represents top election officials from across the country, has said Nov. 7 was generally "a good day."

But some of the biggest states have not been able to overcome problems with new technology or rules and the lightly trained poll workers who must oversee them. In Ohio, thousands of voters were turned away or forced to file provisional ballots by poll workers puzzled by voter-identification rules. In Pennsylvania, the machines crashed or refused to start, producing many reports of vote-flipping, which means that voters press the button for one candidate but a different candidate's name appears on the screen.

Perhaps most notoriously, officials in Sarasota County say nearly 18,000 votes may never have been recorded by electronic machines in a Congressional race, even though many voters said they tried to vote.

The recent problems will probably help propel legislation that has stalled for months in Congress mandating that electronic voting machines have a paper trail to better enable recounts. Less clear, experts say, is whether anything will be done to address concerns about the lack of technicians to troubleshoot machines, polling places with too few machines and poorly trained workers, and a system run by partisan election officials who may decide conflicts based on politics rather than policy.

"These types of low-tech problems threaten to disenfranchise just as many people, if not more, but they tend to get less attention," said Tova Wang, an elections expert with the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan research group in New York. "We still have a long way to go toward fixing the biggest problems with our election system."

Election workers and experts say the advances in technology have simply overwhelmed many of the people trying to run things on the ground. At a hearing in Denver last week, one focus was on how hard it has become for the poll workers, often retirees getting paid $100 for a 14-hour day, and what it would take to attract younger people who are perhaps more savvy about computers.

"It used to be that you would come in, set up the machines, make a cup of coffee and say hello to your neighbors," said Sigrid Freese, who has worked at Denver polling places for more than 20 years. Now, she said, the job is complicated and stressful, and "I know a lot of people who said, 'Never again.' "

After widespread confusion and controversy caused by the hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 to help states phase out old-fashioned lever and punch-card machines and to introduce electronic voting equipment. But with malfunctions reported from a handful of states in the primaries earlier this year, many voting experts and state officials feared that the new technology might have only swapped old problems for newer, more complicated ones.

On Election Day, two voting-rights groups, Common Cause and the Election Protection Coalition, fielded nearly 40,000 telephone calls on two national hot lines from voters' reporting of problems or seeking information, and both groups are due to release their findings within the next two weeks. An initial review of their data, along with interviews with officials and experts, reveals that Florida, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania were among the states with the most calls reporting trouble, including long lines, names missing from voter registration rolls, poll worker confusion and computer failures.

In a few places, the difficulties started as soon as voters walked up to the sign-in tables.

In Ohio, even a congressman, Steve Chabot, a Republican, was turned away from his polling place because the address listed on his driver's license was different than his home address. Mr. Chabot was able to vote only after he returned with a utility bill. The state's top election official had to fax a midday notice to all precincts that such minor discrepancies were acceptable.

In Denver, the culprit was a new electronic poll book, which workers had to consult through laptop computers. The system was supposed to verify each voter's name in less than a minute. But it started slowing at 7 a.m. and eventually had to be turned off and rebooted, after taking up to 20 minutes to find each name.

As a result, voters waited in line for two to three hours. Liz Prescott, a computer industry executive, said she twice tried to vote but was deterred by the lines. "I'm just flabbergasted that this system at all levels failed," Ms. Prescott said.

John Gaydeski, Denver's election director, acknowledged that the system had not been tested properly before the election.

In Arkansas, Florida and Pennsylvania, the questions were about the voting machines themselves. In addition to the Sarasota issue, which may have been caused by a software problem, there were similar problems in the Florida counties of Charlotte, Lee and Sumter. In those counties, said Barbara Burt, vice president and director for election reform at Common Cause, more than 40,000 voters who used touch-screen machines seemed not to have chosen a candidate in the attorney general's race. But since one candidate won by 250,000 votes, the anomaly has been generally overlooked.

On election night in Arkansas, officials discovered that erroneous results had been tallied in Benton County. After retabulating the votes, they announced that the total number of ballots cast had jumped to 79,331 from 47,134, which meant a turnout of more than 100 percent in some precincts. After a third tallying, the total dropped to 48,681.

In Pennsylvania, computer problems forced polling places in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties to stay open late. In Westmoreland County, a programming error in at least 800 machines caused long lines.

Mary Beth Kuznik, a poll worker in that county, said she had to reset every machine after each voter, or more than 500 times, because the machines kept trying to shut down.

Howard Shaub, the elections board chairman in Lancaster County, counseled patience. "We used those old lever machines for 20, 30 years," Mr. Shaub said. "We just have to have better quality control and the new machines will work fine."

But Ms. Kuznik said one man refused to vote on the electronic machines and demanded a provisional ballot. "At least my vote will be on a piece of paper," Ms. Kuznik recalled his saying.

Bob Driehaus contributed reporting from Cincinnati.


No One to Lose To

By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Saturday 25 November 2006

After the Thanksgiving Day Massacre of Shiites by Sunnis, President Bush should go on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and give an interview headlined: "If I did it, here's how the civil war in Iraq happened."

He could describe, hypothetically, a series of naïve, arrogant and self-defeating blunders, including his team's failure to comprehend that in the Arab world, revenge and religious zealotry can be stronger compulsions than democracy and prosperity.

But W. is not yet able to view his actions in subjunctive terms, much less objective ones. Bush family retainers are working to deprogram him, but the president is loath to strip off his delusions of adequacy.

W. declined to tear himself away from his free-range turkey and pumpkin mousse trifle at Camp David and reassure Americans about the deadliest sectarian attack in Baghdad since the U.S. invaded. More than 200 Shiites were killed and hundreds more wounded by car bombs and a mortar attack in Sadr City. October was the bloodiest month yet for civilians, and in the last four months, some 13,000 men, women and children have died.

American helicopters and Iraqi troops did not arrive for two hours after Sunni gunmen began a siege on the Health Ministry controlled by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who has a militia that kills Sunnis and is married to the Maliki government.

Continuing the cycle of revenge yesterday, Shiite militiamen threw kerosene on six Sunnis and set them on fire, as Iraqi soldiers watched, and killed 19 more.

The New York Times and other news outlets have been figuring out if it's time to break with the administration's use of euphemisms like "sectarian conflict." How long can you have an ever-descending descent without actually reaching the civil war?

Some analysts are calling it genocide or clash of civilizations, arguing that civil war is too genteel a term for the butchery that is destroying a nation before our very eyes. Anthony Shadid, The Washington Post reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his Iraq coverage, went back recently and described "the final, frenzied maturity of once-inchoate forces unleashed more than three years ago by the invasion. There was civil-war-style sectarian killing, its echoes in Lebanon a generation ago. Alongside it were gangland turf battles over money, power and survival; a raft of political parties and their militias fighting a zero-sum game; a raging insurgency; the collapse of authority; social services a chimera; and no way forward for an Iraqi government ordered to act by Americans who themselves are still seen as the final arbiter and, as a result, still depriving that government of legitimacy. Civil war was perhaps too easy a term, a little too tidy."

It will be harder to sell Congress on the idea that America's troops should be in the middle of somebody else's civil war than to convince them that we need to hang tough in the so-called front line of the so-called war on terror against Al Qaeda.

With Iraq splitting, Tony Snow indulges in the ludicrous exercise of hair-splitting. He said that in past civil wars, "people break up into clearly identifiable feuding sides clashing for supremacy." In Iraq, "you do have a lot of different forces that are trying to put pressure on the government and trying to undermine it. But it's not clear that they are operating as a unified force." But Lebanon was a shambles with multiple factions, and everybody called that a civil war.

Mr. Snow has said this is not a civil war because the fighting is not taking place in every province and because Iraqis voted in free elections. But that's like saying that the Battle of Gettysburg only took place in one small corner of the country, so there was no real American Civil War. And there were elections during our civil war too. President Lincoln was re-elected months before the war's end.

The president's comparison to how Vietnam turned out a generation later, his happy talk that Iraq is going to be fine, is preposterous.

As Neil Sheehan, a former Times reporter in Vietnam who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning "A Bright Shining Lie," told me: "In Vietnam, there were just two sides to the civil war. You had a government in Hanoi with a structure of command and an army and a guerrilla movement that would obey what they were told to do. So you had law and order in Saigon immediately after the war ended. In Iraq, there's no one like that for us to lose to and then do business with."

The questions are no longer whether there's a civil war or whether we can achieve a military victory. The only question is, who can we turn the country over to?

At the moment, that would be no one.


Wartime Sacrifices

By Arlen Parsa
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

Sunday 25 November 2006

Never before in American history has such a costly war been fought with so little immediate sacrifice asked of all Americans. Less than one year into his first term, President Bush made clear the terms of his war: every other country was either with us, or against us.

Just this year, the president raised the stakes again, saying that his "War on Terror" (how you can wage war against a tactic escapes me) is the "calling of our generation" and that America is once again a participant in a grand "struggle for civilization." This rhetoric should come as no surprise considering that the commander in chief has already likened himself to other wartime leaders such as Winston Churchill and compared his "War on Terror" to World War II. Even his branding of the two sides involved in the fight - the "Axis of Evil" versus "America and her allies" - is the same "axis versus allies" language used in Churchill's war. Yet, for such a war with so much in the balance, our leaders have asked surprisingly little of us.

President Bush has encouraged Americans to go about their daily lives: take vacations, he once suggested. He certainly took his own advice, having taken well over 300 days off so far. Clinton took only about 150 days off in all of his eight years as president - and he wasn't even leading the free world in a struggle for civilization itself.

More Americans have now died as part of the president's so-called "War on Terror" than perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11th. America has now been fighting in the name of "civilization itself" for longer than it ever was during World War I and World War II. Outgoing secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld has predicted that it could take "any number of years ... five, six, eight, ten, twelve years" to achieve peace in Iraq alone - much less win the "greater War on Terror."

At the same time, President Bush became the very first American president ever to grant tax cuts during a time of war. The largest corporations have gotten billions of dollars of taxes back from the government, and the wealthiest Americans annually get more money back in the form of tax refunds than the average American earns in a year. Meanwhile, the largest federal surplus ever (which Bush inherited from Clinton) quickly turned into the largest deficit ever. When President Bush's Democratic predecessor left office, American national debt lingered around 5.5 trillion dollars, and was shrinking at a faster rate than it ever had before. Years into Bush's presidency, we find ourselves with the largest national debt in history (the president's new debt ceiling is now 9 trillion dollars, which the US is expected to surpass before he leaves office).

This is perhaps ironic because Republicans have always prided themselves in their ability to reduce the size of government and maintain fiscal responsibility. Democrats, on the other hand, are oft portrayed as irresponsible, big tax-and-spend liberals. Under the current White House administration, however, it seems that the Republican party has become the party of big-spenders and no-taxers. If there's a worse way to run government during a war that supposedly threatens every civilized culture in the entire world and will supposedly drag on for ages (many in the administration are already calling it "The Long War"), I can't think of it.

Of course, they didn't plan things this way. Originally, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld had wanted to wage his war in Iraq "on the cheap." He ignored the suggestions of his top generals who said that his mission would need far more troops than he had allotted. Rumsfeld even fired highly-decorated four-star general Eric Shinseki after the latter maintained that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed in Iraq to secure the country after invasion and prevent an insurgency (key members of the White House administration later claimed that nobody had predicted an insurgency would arise after the invasion). Instead, a meager force of American troops went into Iraq with lightly-armored humvees and inadequate body armor.

Our soldiers resorted to bulking up their 'thin-skinned humvees' with scrap metal they found in Iraqi junkyards (which they termed "hillbilly armor"). Later on, a group of Congressional Republicans voted against sending more body armor for American soldiers because they wanted to keep the budget down. Poor military families back home passed collection plates at church asking for donations that would help cover the few hundred dollars it would cost to send their sons and daughters the life-saving vests that they had been deployed without. "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want," Rumsfeld told one soldier who confronted him about it with a trembling voice at a televised question and answer session.

The White House has promised time and time again that during this conflict (in which the entire world is at stake) there would be under no circumstances a draft. Rich sons and daughters would never be called up to serve alongside their less-well-off fellow Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else. "We will have an all-volunteer army" the president has loudly proclaimed. The military for its part has kept quiet, but bent over backwards not to reinstate conscription.

The Pentagon has lowered the IQ requirement and lowest acceptable test scores of enlistees, and increased the maximum age at which people can enlist (now 42 years old). And now, there are even foreigners serving in our armed forces. Still no gay people allowed, though. (It was reported earlier this year that Pentagon manuals still defined homosexuality as a mental disorder like schizophrenia, a consensus that the medical community abandoned in the 1970s.) The Reserves and National Guard have been sent to Iraq, and some of them are on their second tour of duty. Reports circulated not long ago that one recruiter was so desperate to fulfill his monthly enlistment quota, he persuaded an autistic kid to sign on the dotted line (after great embarrassment, the Army was later forced to let him go).

President Bush and his fellow powerful Republicans have viciously attacked Democrats and others who don't embrace their war endlessly. When the president is challenged (which is seldom), he backs away from his harsh rhetoric and replaces it instead with a condescending glare. People who don't agree with me aren't unpatriotic, he replies; they just "don't understand the stakes in the War on Terror."

December is coming up, and President Bush is expected to be on vacation for much of the month. If he continues taking time off at the rate he has been, by the time he leaves his second term, the president will have vacationed for more than 1 of his 8 years in office. Earlier this year, the Pentagon ordered an entire brigade of soldiers back to Iraq - before they had even made it home from their first tour. They literally turned around and boarded airplanes headed in the opposite direction. At least the president will be home for Christmas. Not everyone is so fortunate.

During World War II, Churchill ordered strict food rationing. World War I vets formed the British Home Guard to fend off the potential German invasion with pitchforks and shotguns more suited to hunting with bird-shot (while all the younger men and equipment were on the front lines fighting the Axis). Nowadays, putting yellow "Support Our Troops" magnets on your SUV is strictly optional and tax cuts are mandatory. President Bush thinks history will look back upon his war as just as important as the one Churchill and the rest of the world waged half a century ago. From the way this president acts, you wouldn't think so.

Arlen Parsa is a documentary film student at Columbia College Chicago. In between classes, Parsa writes about American politics and current events at



Big Energy Firms Crimping Oil Supplies
An Associated Press analysis suggests that big oil companies have been crimping
supplies in subtler ways across the country for years. The analysis, based on
data from the US Energy Information Administration, indicates that the industry
slacked off supplying oil and gasoline during the prolonged price boom between
early 1999 and last summer, when prices began to fall.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Dem to Bush: None of your beeswax

Posted by Evan Derkacz at 8:11 AM on November 29, 2006.

But don't break out the bubbly quite yet...
Remember when I told you I'd kill you last?

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One of the Senate's newest members took steps to avoid Bush recently, but the wily prez is apparently smarter than he's given credit for being:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Apparently, this episode made him want to slug the commander-in-chief.

Before you break out the bubbly and start high-fiving, it's good to remember that this brand of maverick-dom goes both ways. Webb, first of all, is no liberal. Far from it.

While many were dissing his opponent George Allen's legislative swan song, legalizing the possession of concealed weapons in national parks, they'd have been smart to note that Webb supports the bill as well.

According to Bloomberg: "He's pro-gun ownership, and he takes a harder line on illegal immigration than many Senate Republicans."

But he is against the war, and having one senator with a son serving in the military can't be a bad thing...


Tagged as: jim webb, bush

Evan Derkacz is an AlterNet editor. He writes and edits PEEK, the blog of blogs.

Colbert Tivos Bush/Cheney lies [VIDEO]

Posted by Evan Derkacz at 9:02 AM on November 29, 2006.

They were for WWII analogies before they were against them...

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Colbert shoots fish in a barrel in this Tivo skit. Cheney lied... the Titanic sank, the sun set in the West...

This is a good time to read up on the latest study showing that Bush supporters are more likely to be mentally ill...


Tagged as: wwii, cheney, bush, colbert

Evan Derkacz is an AlterNet editor. He writes and edits PEEK, the blog of blogs.

Olbermann: 'Civil War' naming is Iraq's Walter Cronkite moment [VIDEO]
Bush admin in denial, can't begin its 12-step on Iraq...
Post by Evan Derkacz. November 28, 2006.
Daily Show on calling Iraq a "Civil War" [VIDEO]
"Faith-based melee"... "the ongoing scuffle between varying sectarian groups..."
Post by Evan Derkacz. November 28, 2006.
South Park does Dawkins [VIDEO]
A Godless future!
Post by Evan Derkacz. November 27, 2006.

Tomgram: Elizabeth de la Vega, Indicting Bush

a project of the Nation Institute

To send this to a friend, or to read more dispatches, go to

Tomgram: Elizabeth de la Vega, Indicting Bush

Think of it as a milestone. This is now the first website to "indict" the President, the Vice President, and their colleagues for defrauding us into war in Iraq. I put that "indict" in quotes because what follows, as former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega makes clear in her new book United States v. George W. Bush et al., is "not an actual indictment." It can't be, of course; but consider it the second best thing.

De la Vega has, in her career as a prosecutor, prepared numerous fraud indictments and, as she argued in the first excerpt from her book posted at Tomdispatch earlier this week, "A Fraud Worse than Enron," what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their senior officials committed was a crime, not just in the colloquial sense of the word, but in the legal sense too (and not a victimless crime either). While their crime was of a magnitude that puts even Enron, no less run-of-the-mill fraud cases, to shame, it also has all the elements of a typical, small-time scam.

De la Vega's "hypothetical indictment" of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell that you are about to read remains, unfortunately, in the realm of fantasy. But only for now. Until our world comes more fully to grips with the criminal nature of the Bush administration's acts, you can at least turn to the full de la Vega book. A special project, produced in conjunction with Seven Stories Press, a wonderful independent publisher, it's officially published on December 1st (but available now).

You won't want to miss it. It's superbly done and -- though I hesitate to say it, given the nature of the subject matter -- genuinely enjoyable to read because De la Vega turns out to be as skilled a writer as she is a prosecutor, and applies both her talents to the book. So check out the indictment, read the first day of grand jury testimony (which will be posted at this site on Thursday), and in the meantime get the investigative ball rolling by purchasing the book at or, if you want to give all involved a few extra cents, directly at the Seven Stories website. After all, the excerpts at Tomdispatch can only give you a taste of the full case De la Vega makes. This book should be the political stocking-stuffer of the Holiday season. Tom

The Indictment

United States v. George W. Bush et al.
By Elizabeth de la Vega

Assistant United States Attorney: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. We're here today in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. In addition to President Bush, the defendants are Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- who's now the Secretary of State, of course -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It's a one-count proposed indictment: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. I'll explain the law that applies to the case this afternoon, but I'm going to hand out the indictment now, so you'll have some context for that explanation. Take as long as you need to read it, and then feel free to take your lunch break, but please leave your copy of the indictment with the foreperson. We'll meet back at one o'clock.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

ZNet Update, Chomsky, Achcar, Shalom book interview and excerpt


This is a ZNet Update. You can add or remove addresses from our free update list via the top page of ZNet which is at

This mailing follows our pattern of offering information about books by our writers, in this case the book is by Noam Chomsky, Gilbert Achcar, and Stephen Shalom.

Their new book of edited dialogues came out some months ago but has yet to receive much visible attention. Hopefully this message will rectify that problem. And hopefully, in response, many ZNet users will find the book useful.

Here we offer the ZNet book interview, in which Shalom, the book's editor, answers our usual author questions, and we also include an excerpt from the book itself.


Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice

By Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar.
Edited by Stephen R. Shalom.
Boulder, CO; Paradigm Publishers, 2006.
Interview by Stephen R. Shalom
(1) Can you tell ZNet, please, what your new book, Perilous Power, is about? What is it trying to communicate?

Perilous Power is a dialogue about U.S. policy in the Middle East between two of the most astute analysts of this part of the world: Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar. Chomsky, of course, needs no introduction to ZNet readers. This is his first totally new book devoted exclusively to the Middle East since The Fateful Triangle. Achcar, whose writings on the Middle East have appeared often on ZNet, grew up and lived for many years in Lebanon. He is the author of, among other books, The Clash of Barbarisms and Eastern Cauldron, and editor of The Israeli Dilemma.

In this new book, Chomsky and Achcar bring to bear a keen understanding of the internal dynamics of the Middle East and of the role of the United States, taking up all the key questions, including such topics as terrorism, fundamentalism, conspiracies, oil, democracy, self determination, anti-Semitism, and anti-Arab racism, as well as the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the sources of U.S. foreign policy.

This current book is not two writers' separate essays strung together. It is based on a dialogue between them -- sometimes agreeing, sometimes complementing one another's analysis based on their own perspectives and information, and sometimes disagreeing -- and as such it represents more than the sum of its parts. Through their conversation, a richer understanding emerges from their shared commitments and their varied expertise and experiences.

The book aims to provide an introduction to U.S. policy in the Middle East for the general reader, but it also has much that will be of interest to those with some background on the region. Whether discussing the Israel lobby, the role of Saudi Arabia in U.S. policy, or the different Iraqi political forces, Perilous Power offers many useful insights. And the exchange on short-term solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should prove particularly provocative.

(2) Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?

Noam and Gilbert decided from the outset that it would be useful to have a third person present to moderate their face-to-face conversation, and I was invited to serve in this role. This project was to be a two-way conversation, but where a third party would pose the questions, keep the discussion on track, and take care of the technical process of recording, enabling the two discussants to concentrate on their analyses and arguments. As much as possible, I tried to keep out of the conversation, just moving it along as necessary.

The procedure we followed involved several steps. We began by developing a list of questions to be addressed. The three of us got together in Noam's office at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for three days of conversation in early January 2006. The recordings were transcribed and I prepared a rough edit, eliminating redundancy and tangents, reordering some of the sections, and improving readability. Then Gilbert and Noam each went through and edited their remarks. The goal here was not to produce a faithful verbatim transcript of the conversation. Rather the idea was to allow each of them to clarify or expand on their remarks (though not to change a major argument to which the other had already responded). We took the view that oral comments made without access to sources should not serve as the last word. So we verified facts and checked and filled in quotations as necessary. And, because we believe that readers should not be expected to take what authors say on faith, we felt it important to add in documentation for all non-obvious or controversial claims. In the Summer of 2006, each of the authors wrote an Epilogue in which they commented on more recent developments.

(3) What are your hopes for Perilous Power? What do you hope it will contribute or achieve, politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, what will you deem to be a success? What would leave you happy about the whole undertaking? What would leave you wond ering if it was worth all the time and effort?

A fundamental change in United States policy toward the Middle East would make us more than happy. But the effort will have been worthwhile if it helps to make the average person in the West and especially the United States more informed about and uncomfortable with current U.S. policies in the Middle East and if it helps critics sharpen their analysis and understanding. Too often critics discuss Iraq as if the categories "collaborator" and "resistance" are sufficient to make sense of what is going on. Or that U.S. policy in the Middle East can be fully explained by reference to the Israel lobby. Or that Islamic fundamentalism must either be accepted as a justification for Washington's imperial foreign policy or dismissed as a figment of the Bush administration's imagination. With a fuller appreciation of the Middle East situation, critics should be better able to oppose U.S. policy and work for a more just and peaceful world.

[You can purchase the book at a 15% individual customer discount at]


Other Major Powers and Iraq

Shalom: Back in February 2003, when prowar forces in the United States were pouring out all their French wine and renaming French fries because France wasn't cooperating in the Security Council, a lot of people in the antiwar movement were sort of cheering on France and Germany and Russia, and other governments that opposed the war. How reliable are these governments in their antiwar stances?

Chomsky: Their reliability is approximately zero. Sensible antiwar activists don't ally themselves with governments. There was something important about their position -- namely, there was a reason why they were being so bitterly denounced by U.S. elites: They were meeting minimal conditions of democracy. For whatever reason -- pure cynicism, in fact -- they were acting the way a democratic government is supposed to act. In short, they were responding to the will of the overwhelming majority of their populations. The position of the antiwar movement should have been that it's fine that these governments are paying attention to their populations, whatever their reasons may be, but we certainly don't ally with them, or have any trust in them. What happened here was quite intriguing, but was basically ignored. I can't recall any display of hatred and contempt for democracy as extreme as what took place in those months in the United States, pretty much across the spectrum. There was what Rumsfeld called "Old Europe" and "New Europe." Under his definition, they are distinguished by a very sharp criterion: Old Europe consists of the countries where the governments took the same position as that of a large majority of the population; New Europe -- the "hope for democracy" -- is the governments that disregard an even larger percentage of the population. Some of it was almost comical, like Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi being invited to the White House as the representative of the hope for democracy. You don't know whether to laugh or cry. But the worst case was José María Aznar, the Spanish prime minister. He was so lauded by Bush and by British prime minister Tony Blair as the hope for democracy that he was brought to their summit in the Azores, where they basically declared the war a couple of days before the invasion. Aznar joined in this war declaration right after polls in Spain showed that the war had the support of 2 percent of the population, so therefore he's the great hope for democracy.[1] He was willing to follow orders from Crawford, Texas, with 2 percent of the population supporting him. What does that tell you about the attitudes toward democracy?

Some of it became surreal. When the Turkish government, to everyone's surprise, including mine, went along with the opinion of 95 percent of its population and refused to allow a U.S. offensive through Turkey, the Turkish government was bitterly condemned for lacking democratic credentials -- that was the phrase that was used -- because it went along with the opinion of 95 percent of the public. That great dove, Secretary of State Colin Powell, immediately announced we're going to have to have sanctions against Turkey.[2] Most extreme was former undersecretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz. He is the person identified in the United States and, as far as I know, the European media as the leading force in democracy promotion -- the "idealist in chief," as he was called in the Washington Post.[3] He berated the Turkish military for not intervening to compel the government to overrule 95 percent of the population; he basically ordered them to apologize to the United States, and to say, "Let's figure out how we can be as helpful as possible to the Americans."[4] And this was supposed to be democracy. And this farce went on, without comment. The fact that anyone can talk about democracy promotion, after this display, is astounding.

This is what the antiwar movement should be emphasizing. And if there are a couple of governments that for their own cynical reasons happen to agree with the majority of the population and take the right position, fine, but that's the end of it; there's nothing more to say about them. Tomorrow they'll do the opposite, because they're acting out of pure cynicism -- power interests -- anyway.

Achcar: Noam's quite right to stress the importance of this feature of our times. There's a general trend at the level of the mainstream media to praise those ruling politicians who rule without considering the polls; that is deemed a great virtue. But behind it is the very elitist idea, also embedded in the very concept of "representative democracy," that, once elected, a representative is free to do whatever he or she wants, even against the unanimous will of his or her constituency. But I must also say that in the case of the three governments that we've mentioned -- France, Germany, and Russia -- it was certainly not out of any consideration for democracy that they were against the war. I don't need to elaborate on the Russian government. But even the French and German governments do not hesitate to pursue the most unpopular neoliberal policies and assaults on social gains. On the issue of Iraq, their motivation was definitely not any democratic principle: There were much more down-to-earth considerations at stake.

Iraq is a country where there was a direct clash of interests, in a very primary economic sense, between the United States and Britain, on the one hand, and France and Russia -- one could add China -- on the other hand. The Soviet Union and France were the main partners of Saddam Hussein for many years, providing him with arms. France, especially, was his main military backer in the war against Iran. And despite Russian collusion and French participation in the 1991 war on Iraq, Saddam Hussein tried to play his traditional partnership with France and Russia, during the UN embargo years, as a counterweight to the United States and Britain in the Security Council. French and Russian companies were granted important oil concessions that were conditioned on lifting the embargo. That is why at some point Paris and Moscow changed their attitude, trying to find ways to lift the embargo, and were blocked on that by Washington and London. The United States and British refusal to lift the embargo -- that is, to allow the lifting of the embargo if and when UN inspectors determined that Iraq had disarmed -- was rightly perceived by Paris and Moscow as a refusal to permit them to take advantage of the oil concessions they had been granted. And they very much saw the dedication of Washington and London to invade Iraq as a desire to snatch the prize from them. Actually one of the first proclamations after the invasion was that all contracts granted by Saddam Hussein were to be considered null and void. So that's the main reason why Paris and Moscow opposed that war. Had the Bush administration offered them a substantial slice of the cake, I'm sure they would have joined in. But the Bush administration was so arrogant that it didn't want to grant them much of anything, and that's why they kept opposing the war to the end.

In the German case, there were no direct economic interests at stake. At best, if one were generous with German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, one could grant him some concern over superior geopolitical considerations -- for example, to say that he had some concerns about the fact that the United States should not have all the levers over Europe -- and one could link that also to the very close relationship he had nurtured with Putin, and the deals being worked out for a new gas pipeline going from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. But that would be a generous assessment of Schröder's motivation. If one wanted to be less generous, one would just stress that there's a big dose, not of democracy but of opportunist electoralism, behind his stance, because the preparation for the invasion of Iraq happened at a time when the German chancellor was projected as the loser in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, because of his neoliberal social program, which caused the traditional constituency of social democracy to be reluctant to support him; and therefore, the only popular issue he could find was opposition to the war, at a time when, indeed, the polls were showing that the overwhelming majority of German public opinion was opposed to the war.

Rulers like Chirac, Putin, or Schröder should definitely not be regarded as allies by the antiwar movement, especially since they are themselves hawkish warmongers when their interests are at stake. Russian forces are waging a terrible quasi-genocidal war in Chechnya. The French government still considers itself a colonial power in Africa, and behaves as such. Not to mention the fact that both France and Germany are involved in Afghanistan, along with the U.S. troops. To that we should add that although Paris and Berlin did not support the invasion of Iraq politically, technically speaking they did everything they could to facilitate it: the Germans, of course, by letting the whole U.S. military infrastructure on their territory be used for that purpose,[5] the French by opening their airspace to U.S. warplanes. So we should not be fooled by such governments. The antiwar movement, at least its most dynamic sectors, is closely linked with the global justice movement, and I believe that's a very good combination because these are two facets of the same reality: opposition to imperial wars and to neoliberalism.

Chomsky: I could add an analogous comment about U.S. attitudes. I don't think it's just arrogance; the United States has a real interest in undermining France and Germany, because they are the industrial, commercial, and financial center of Europe. The rest is a kind of periphery. The United States has had a deep concern back through the 1940s that Europe might strike out on an independent path. That's one of the reasons they were so concerned about French president Charles de Gaulle, with his call for a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. And the forces that might impel Europe that way today are "Old Europe." That's one of the reasons the United States was so much in favor of expanding the European Union (EU) to include the former Soviet satellites, which it plausibly assumes it can control. And it's one of the reasons also why U.S. policymakers are so supportive of getting Turkey into the EU -- not because they love Turkey, but because that's another way of diluting the influence of the powerful sectors in Europe and ensuring, they hope, that Europe will remain under U.S. control. Whatever position Germany and France had taken on the Iraq war, that would remain constant.

It's also what happened in 1990 when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to allow Germany to be unified, which from the Russian point of view was an enormous threat. Unlike the United States, Russia has real security concerns. Germany alone practically destroyed Russia twice in the first half of the twentieth century. For a unified Germany to be incorporated into a Western military alliance was a tremendous threat. So Gorbachev agreed to German unification, but on one condition: that he get a firm pledge from Bush Sr. that NATO would not expand to the east. Within a couple of years, however, Clinton just reneged on the commitment, and expanded NATO to the east, right to the borders of Russia. Russia responded, as you'd expect, by beginning to increase its offensive military capacity. Russia had been pressing very hard for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and it had declared -- as the United States and NATO had not -- that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. After Clinton's backing down on the NATO pledge, Russia backed down on its moves and moved toward a more militaristic, offensive posture, extended more under Bush Jr. These are really important developments that are part of the background of the hysteria about Old Europe and New Europe. New Europe is important for the United States as a way of undermining European independence.

Achcar: I quite agree. But we should also stress the fact that in New Europe public opinion was overwhelmingly against the war, even more so than in Old Europe!

Chomsky: The only place prowar sentiment reached 10 percent was Romania.[6]

Achcar: So it was in New Europe that governments most disdained the opinions of their own populations.

Chomsky: But they are obedient to the United States when they dilute European independence.

1. Agence France Presse, "Majority of Spanish Against War on Iraq," February 22, 2003. According to this article, 2.3 percent supported a war waged by the United States and its allies without UN authorization (the actual war that was waged), 11.8 percent opposed war unless there was UN authorization, and 84.7 percent opposed war in all circumstances.

2. Richard Boudreaux and John Hendren, "U.S. Drops Its Bid to Base Troops in Turkey," Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2003, p. A5.

3. David Ignatius, "A War of Choice, and One Who Chose It," Washington Post, November 2, 2003, p. B1.

4. Mark Lacey, "Turkey Rejects Criticism by U.S. Official over Iraq," New York Times, May 8, 2003, p. A15. Wolfowitz said: "Let's have a Turkey that steps up and says: 'We made a mistake. We should have known how bad things were in Iraq, but we know now. Let's figure out how we can be as helpful as possible to the Americans.'" Wolfowitz "singled out the Turkish military for criticism. 'I think for whatever reason, they did not play the strong leadership role that we would have expected.'" For Turkish poll data, see Philip P. Pan, "Turkey Plans for 62,000 U.S. Troops," Washington Post, February 26, 2003, p. A17.

5. This is apart from the allegations that German intelligence helped the American military during its invasion. See, for example, Richard Bernstein, "2 German Roles: Opposing War and Aiding U.S.," New York Times, March 3, 2006, p. A12.

6. See Gallup International, Iraq Poll, conducted 2003, available online at
[Excerpted from Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy, by Noam Chomsky & Gilbert Achcar, edited with a Preface by Stephen R. Shalom, published by Paradigm Publishers, pp. 90-95. To purchase the book at a 15% individual customer discount, go to]

Kansas Outlaws Practice Of Evolution

TOPEKA, KS—In response to a Nov. 7 referendum, Kansas lawmakers passed emergency legislation outlawing evolution, the highly controversial process responsible for the development and diversity of species and the continued survival of all life.

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Lawmakers decried spontaneous genetic mutations.

"From now on, the streets, forests, plains, and rivers of Kansas will be safe from the godless practice of evolution, and species will be able to procreate without deviating from God's intended design," said Bob Bethell, a member of the state House of Representatives. "This is about protecting the integrity of all creation."

The new law prohibits all living beings within state borders from any willful adaptation to changing environmental conditions. In addition, it strictly limits any activity that may result in enhanced health or survival beyond the current average lifespan of their particular species.

Violators of the new law may face punishments that include jail time, stiff fines, and rehabilitative education and training to rid organisms suspected of evolutionary tendencies. Repeat offenders could face chemical sterilization.

To enforce the law, Kansas state police will be trained to investigate and apprehend organisms who exhibit suspected signs of evolutionary behavior, such as natural selection or speciation. Plans are underway to track and monitor DNA strands in every Kansan life form for even the slightest change in allele frequencies.

"Barn swallows that develop lighter, more streamlined builds to enable faster migration, for example, could live out the rest of their brief lives in prison," said Indiana University chemist and pro-intelligent-design author Robert Hellenbaum, who helped compose the language of the law. "And butterflies who mimic the wing patterns and colors of other butterflies for an adaptive advantage, well, their days of flaunting God's will are over."

Human beings may be the species most deeply affected by the new legislation. Those whose cytochrome-c molecules vary less than 2 percent from those of chimpanzees will be in direct violation of the law.

Under particular scrutiny are single-cell microorganisms, with thousands of field labs being installed across the state to ensure that these self-replicating molecules, notorious for mutation, do not do so in a fashion benefitting their long-term survival.

Anti-evolutionists such as Hellenbaum have long accused microorganisms of popularizing "an otherwise obscure, agonizingly slow, and hard-to-understand" biological process. "These repeat offenders are at the root of the problem," Hellenbaum said. "We have the fossil records to prove it."

"No species is exempt," said Marcus Holloway, a state police spokesman. "Whether you're a human being or a fruit fly—if we detect one homologous chromosome trying to cross over during the process of meiosis, you will be punished to the full extent of the law."

Although the full impact of the new law will likely not be felt for approximately 10 million years, most Kansans say they are relieved that the ban went into effect this week, claiming that evolution may have gone too far already.

"If Earth's species were meant to change over successive generations through physical modifications resulting from the adaptation to environmental challenges, then God would have given them the genetic predisposition to select mates and reproduce based on their favorable heritable traits and their ability to thrive under changing conditions so that these advantageous qualities would be passed down and eventually encoded into the DNA of each generation of offspring," Olathe public school teacher and creationist Joyce Eckhardt said. "It's just not natural."

Some warn that the strict wording of the law could have a deleterious effect on Kansas' mostly agricultural economy, since it also prohibits all forms of man-made artificial selection, such as plant hybridization, genetic engineering, and animal husbandry. A police raid on an alleged artificial-insemination facility outside McPherson, KS on Friday resulted in the arrest of a farmer, a veterinarian, four assistants, one bull, and several dozen cows.

Agribusiness leaders, who rely on evolution science to genetically modify crops, have voiced concerns about doing business with Kansas farmers.

"If Kansans want to ban evolution, that is their right, but they must understand that we rely on a certain flexibility in the natural order of things to be able to deliver healthy food products to millions of Americans," said Carl Casale, a vice president with the agricultural giant Monsanto. "We're not talking about playing God here. We are talking about succeeding in the competitive veggie-burger market."

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