Paul Joseph Watson
December 8, 2009
The guru of President Barack Obama’s science advisor, John P. Holdren, who in his 1977 book Ecoscience called for draconian population control measures including sterilizing the water supply and introducing forced abortions, wrote that large amounts of carbon dioxide should be pumped into the atmosphere in order to aid plant growth and solve the food crisis.
Lamenting on page 140 of his 1954 book The Challenge of Man’s Future, Harrison Brown – a geochemist who supervised the production of plutonium for the Manhattan Project, wrote that “the earth’s atmosphere contains only a minute concentration – about 0.03 percent” – Brown observed, “It has been demonstrated that a tripling of carbon-dioxide concentration in the air will approximately double the growth rates of tomatoes, alfalfa, and sugar beets.”
Brown was a guru to White House science czar John Holdren, who co-edited a 1986 book in his honor.
“There are between 18 and 20 tons of carbon dioxide over every acre of the earth’s surface,” Brown noted on page 142. “In order to double the amount in the atmosphere, at least 500 billion tons of coal would have to be burned – an amount six times greater than that which has been consumed during all of human history.”
The fact that Holdren was a disciple of Brown again goes to show how dramatically Holdren’s convictions about climate change have flip-flopped in order to accommodate whatever scientific fad holds sway at the time.
In the 70’s, Holdren was busy talking up the drastic threat of global cooling, warning that it would produce giant tidal waves and environmental devastation.
In a 1971 essay entitled “Overpopulation and the Potential for Ecocide,” Holdren and his co-author Paul Ehrlich wrote that global cooling would ensue as a result of , “a reduced transparency of the atmosphere to incoming light as a result of urban air pollutions (smoke, aerosols), agriculture air pollution (dust), and volcanic oil.”
Holdren and Ehrlich predicted, “a mere 1 percent increase in low cloud cover would decrease the surface temperature by .8C” and that “a decrease of 4C would probably be sufficient to cause another ice age.”
They continued: “Even more dramatic results are possible, however; for instance, a sudden outward slumping in the Antarctic ice cap, induced by added weight, could generate a tidal wave of proportions unprecedented in recorded history.”
Of course, Holdren and his ilk were spectacularly wrong with their doomsday predictions about global cooling, but almost entirely the same crowd are now telling us that global warming is a gargantuan threat and that only a carbon tax paid directly to the World Bank can stop it.
- Andrew Kadi and Aaron Levitt
- guardian.co.uk, December 8, 2009 12.30 GMT
Last month, a Brooklyn-based non-profit organisation called the Hebron Fund, which supports Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied city of Hebron, held a fundraiser at the New York Mets‘ stadium, Citi Field.
The fundraiser went forward despite calls for its cancellation from grassroots human rights organisations from the US, Palestine and Israel. The fact that the Hebron Fund likely raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for extremist Israeli settlers at a major US venue with little public scrutiny is a troubling sign for those who hope that the US can play a constructive role in achieving a just peace in the Middle East.
Perhaps more worryingly, according to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius: “A search of IRS records identified 28 US charitable groups that made a total of $33.4m in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organisations between 2004 and 2007.” Some of the larger organisations, including Friends of the Ateret Cohanim and Friends of Ir David, both leading the Jewish settler takeover of Palestinian East Jerusalem, are based in New York City.
Israeli settlements violate the Geneva convention’s prohibition against an occupying power transferring its population into occupied territory, and Israeli settlement expansion directly contradicts the US call for a settlement freeze.
Hebron’s Jewish settlers, who are supported by the Hebron Fund, are openly fundraising in New York City. Under the protection of the Israeli military, they are expanding settlements in Hebron’s Old City and driving out the Palestinian residents.
The Hebron Fund’s extremist positions are clear. Hebron Fund executive director Yossi Baumol told The American Prospect that “[d]emocracy is poison to Arabs”, “Israel must not give Arabs a say in how the country is run” and “[y]ou’ll never get the truth out of an Arab”. Hebron’s chief rabbi, Dov Lior, a featured participant in some Hebron Fund events, recently praised a new book that says it is permitted for a Jew to kill civilians who provide moral support to an enemy of the Jews, and to even kill young children, if it is foreseeable that they will grow up to become enemies.
Settlers and the Israeli army routinely attack and terrorise Palestinians in Hebron, according to human rights groups such as B’Tselem in Israel. In 1994, Hebron settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 unarmed Palestinians who were praying in a Hebron mosque. One of the honorees at the 2009 Hebron Fund dinner, Noam Arnon, called Goldstein “an extraordinary person” in 1995. In 1990 Arnon called three Jewish terrorists who were convicted of killing three Palestinians and maiming two Palestinian mayors “heroes”.
Though the Hebron Fund tells the IRS that its purpose is to “promote social and educational wellbeing”, in 2008 Baumol assured New York radio listeners: “There are real facts on the ground that are created by people helping the Hebron Fund and coming to our dinners.”
A 2007 appeal explained: “Dozens of new families can now come live in Hebron … waiting for you to be their partners in the redemption of Hebron.”
Baumol dedicated the 2009 fundraiser to protesting at “racist limitations, led by President Barack Obama on Jewish growth”.
Settlers frequently claim that preventing Jews from living anywhere they want in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is “racist”, regardless of the settlers’ severe infringement on the rights of longstanding Palestinian residents. Settlers justify their takeover of Hebron by invoking the massacre of 67 Jewish residents of Hebron by Palestinians in 1929. But rather than equality, Hebron’s settlers aim for superior rights enforced from the barrel of a gun.
Non-profit organisations like the Hebron Fund play a substantial role in fuelling the Middle East conflict, but largely fly under the radar in the US. They brazenly hold public fundraisers, and the media generally ignore them. Major US advocacy organisations that claim to oppose Israeli settlements typically fail to criticise them. In one rare mainstream media report, David Ignatius highlighted the US government’s self-defeating policy, writing that “critics of Israeli settlements question why American taxpayers are supporting indirectly, through the exempt contributions, a process that the government condemns”.
Until the public, advocacy groups, media and the US government scrutinise and rein in settlement non-profits like the Hebron Fund, policy statements about peace in the Middle East will do nothing to stop the daily violence and dispossession suffered by Palestinians.
• Andrew Kadi is an IT professional and a member of the Middle East rights organisation, Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East. Aaron Levitt has volunteered as a human rights monitor in Hebron and is a member of Jews Against the Occupation-NYC
‘If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it’
By Cade Metz in San Francisco • 7th December 2009 19:56 GMT
If you’re concerned about Google retaining your personal data, then you must be doing something you shouldn’t be doing. At least that’s the word from Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” Schmidt tells CNBC, sparking howls of incredulity from the likes of Gawker.
But the bigger news may be that Schmidt has actually admitted there are cases where the search giant is forced to release your personal data.
“If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”
There’s also the possibility of subpoenas. And hacks. But if any of this bothers you, you should be ashamed of yourself. According to Eric Schmidt.
Gawker highlights the irony of Schmidt’s typically haughty proclamations. After all, this is the man who banned CNet for a year after the news site published information about him it had gleaned from, yes, Google.
But the larger point here is that Schmidt isn’t even addressing the issue at hand. Per usual. When the privacy question appears, Google likes to talk about the people asking the questions. But the problem lies elsewhere: with the millions upon millions blissfully unaware of the questions.
If you’re concerned about your online privacy, you can always put the kibosh on Google’s tracking cookies. You can avoid signing in to Google accounts. And, yes, you can avoid using Google for anything Eric Schmidt thinks you shouldn’t be doing. But most web users don’t even realize Google is hoarding their data.
CNBC asks Schmidt: “People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?” But he answers by scoffing at those who don’t trust Google at all.
Not that you’d expect anything less. As always, Schmidt’s holier-than-thou attitude is wonderfully amusing. Except that it’s not. ®
Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images
The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN’s role in all future climate change negotiations.
The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals.
The so-called Danish text, a secret draft agreement worked on by a group of individuals known as “the circle of commitment” – but understood to include the UK, US and Denmark – has only been shown to a handful of countries since it was finalised this week.
The agreement, leaked to the Guardian, is a departure from the Kyoto protocol‘s principle that rich nations, which have emitted the bulk of the CO2, should take on firm and binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, while poorer nations were not compelled to act. The draft hands effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank; would abandon the Kyoto protocol – the only legally binding treaty that the world has on emissions reductions; and would make any money to help poor countries adapt to climate change dependent on them taking a range of actions.
The document was described last night by one senior diplomat as “a very dangerous document for developing countries. It is a fundamental reworking of the UN balance of obligations. It is to be superimposed without discussion on the talks”.
A confidential analysis of the text by developing countries also seen by the Guardian shows deep unease over details of the text. In particular, it is understood to:
• Force developing countries to agree to specific emission cuts and measures that were not part of the original UN agreement;
• Divide poor countries further by creating a new category of developing countries called “the most vulnerable”;
• Weaken the UN’s role in handling climate finance;
• Not allow poor countries to emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon per person by 2050, while allowing rich countries to emit 2.67 tonnes.
Developing countries that have seen the text are understood to be furious that it is being promoted by rich countries without their knowledge and without discussion in the negotiations.
“It is being done in secret. Clearly the intention is to get [Barack] Obama and the leaders of other rich countries to muscle it through when they arrive next week. It effectively is the end of the UN process,” said one diplomat, who asked to remain nameless.
Antonio Hill, climate policy adviser for Oxfam International, said: “This is only a draft but it highlights the risk that when the big countries come together, the small ones get hurting. On every count the emission cuts need to be scaled up. It allows too many loopholes and does not suggest anything like the 40% cuts that science is saying is needed.”
Hill continued: “It proposes a green fund to be run by a board but the big risk is that it will run by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility [a partnership of 10 agencies including the World Bank and the UN Environment Programme] and not the UN. That would be a step backwards, and it tries to put constraints on developing countries when none were negotiated in earlier UN climate talks.”
The text was intended by Denmark and rich countries to be a working framework, which would be adapted by countries over the next week. It is particularly inflammatory because it sidelines the UN negotiating process and suggests that rich countries are desperate for world leaders to have a text to work from when they arrive next week.
Few numbers or figures are included in the text because these would be filled in later by world leaders. However, it seeks to hold temperature rises to 2C and mentions the sum of $10bn a year to help poor countries adapt to climate change from 2012-15.
Here Come the Apologists
By HELEN REDMOND
December 8, 2009
Already defenders and apologists for the Democrat’s health care legislation are busy at work. In the next few weeks they will be working overtime to persuade, cajole, shame and ruthlessly attack if necessary, anyone opposing health care legislation. They’ll reserve special hysteria, invective and contempt for those of us who continue to support a single-payer, national health care system. And because it is the holiday season, we will be called heartless health care Grinches and silly, single payer, Bernie Sanders Scrooges. There will be accusations: “If you don’t support health care reform legislation, you support the status quo.” Implicit in the indictment is single-payer advocates, with their pie-in-the-sky idea that health care is a human right for all, will be responsible for the continued impoverishment and immiseration of the American people if a bill doesn’t pass.
Joshua Holland [has] begun the onslaught.
In a piece posted on AlterNet November, 24th titled, “Is the House’s Health Bill Really Worse than Nothing?” Holland attacks Dr. Marcia Angell, author, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and a leader of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP.) Dr. Angell opposes the House bill and believes it’s “worse than nothing.” For that she earns the disdain of Joshua who just can’t accept there isn’t something in the bill worth supporting, even though he agrees with her trenchant criticism of the bill’s gaping defects. He claims she ignores the “primary thrust of the legislation” which for Holland is “the fact that the House legislation would do quite a bit for millions of real Americans struggling through a very real health care crisis.” “Real” Americans, a “real” health care crisis? The insinuation is Angell, and by affiliation PNHP, isn’t operating in the real world of real suffering if they don’t support whatever bill Congress delivers to the Oval Office for a signature. That’s interesting. An organization of 16,000 doctors that conducts research on major aspects of the health care crisis and have been on the frontlines for real reform for decades doesn’t understand what’s real?
Holland argues Angell negates her original thesis when she writes, “The bill has a few good provisions (expansion of Medicaid, for example) but they are marginal.” It doesn’t. Her central contention is even with an expansion of Medicaid and a few other “good” provisions, the bill is a bomb because on balance, it entrenches the power and profits of the private insurance industry – the source of the health care crisis.
This isn’t the first time an expansion of Medicaid has been offered as a partial panacea for the health care crisis. And it has to be said: It isn’t necessary to create a huge, complex and expensive piece of national legislation in order to expand the Medicaid Program. Any state can decide at any time to change eligibility rules and insure more residents (Massachusetts did in 2006.) But the overall trend has been the opposite.
According to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, “Medicaid programs in all 50 states implemented cost-savings strategies, including benefit reductions, cost sharing and tightened administrative rules during the recent economic downturn.” Medicaid operates within the dysfunctional, multi-payer health care system and has suffered from an expand-contract cycle since its inception. It’s a favorite target for blame-the-victim politicians who want to get poor people off welfare (and health care) and into the workforce with no health care. Under the Clinton Administration’s “welfare reform,” hundreds-of-thousands of mostly women and children lost Medicaid coverage. The Medicaid program is not an entitlement or a right. An onerous redetermination is done every year in most states. And in fact, losing Medicaid coverage for a variety of reasons is the norm.
It’s true – the expansion of Medicaid would help millions of low-income Americans, but for how long? Expansion of Medicaid is a short-term, incremental fix, not a permanent one. And that should be the goal of legislation – a permanent fix to the health care crisis so there is no longer a health care crisis.
Holland thinks the subsidies are “rather generous.” It’s curious he isn’t asking these questions: If the government were truly reforming health care, why would millions of people need subsidies? Shouldn’t the cost of coverage come down so much its affordable without government assistance?
Here’s the conundrum – if you support subsidies to help people buy insurance and the expansion of Medicaid, you are forced to support the transfer of billions of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of the investor-owned insurance industry and a mandate that criminalizes and punishes people. You also have to accept the Stupak Amendment and the denial of health care to millions of undocumented workers.
There are more poison pills to swallow. Holland thinks it’s fine insurance will still be linked to employment – tell that to the millions who are unemployed and being laid off by the thousands every day. In the House bill, if employers offer insurance, they must pay at least 72.5 percent of the premium for individuals and 65 percent for families. That’s too low and gives companies who pay a higher percentage an incentive to shift costs onto employees until they hit the government-mandated limit. Workers will then be dumped into the insurance exchange because it will be cheaper for employers and once there, because of the mandate, forced to buy stripped down plans with no limits on premiums.
Currently, there are over twenty-five million people underinsured. The majority of people who declared medical bankruptcy started out with insurance. That is the wave of the future. The government will claim more people are insured and technically they will be, but are you really insured if you have a $5000 deductible, high co-pays and less than one-hundred percent coverage for hospitalizations, expensive medication and diagnostic tests?
And what about the much ballyhooed public option which was supposed to keep the rapacious insurers honest and give millions quality, inexpensive health care that Joshua argued for at the expense of advocating for single-payer which he is a supporter of? Eviscerated, not robust at all, and what Paul Krugman now calls “medium-strength.” It’s not even that. The “progressive” Democrats abandoned Holland and his ilk and voted in favor of the bill after they swore not to if it didn’t contain a robust public option with rates tied to Medicare. These are the same “regressive” Democrats that voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment. Holland argues if the final legislation contains Stupak it can’t be supported. But if “Progressive-Regressive” Democrats voted for it the first time, they will vote for it a second time because they don’t have the spines to stand up to President Obama, or for abortion rights.
Toward the end of his assault on Dr. Angell’s position, Holland writes, “…drawing the line at the House bill is privileging ideology over getting something done in the short-term, however imperfect it might be overall.” But that is precisely the problem. For decades short-term, imperfect reforms are offered that inexorably lead right back to the crisis. Then more short-term, imperfect reforms are offered and the cycle continues. Instead of attacking the privileged ideology of for-profit, corporate controlled health care, Joshua attacks single-payer ideology and argues to abandon it in order to get something, anything done.
Single-payer supporters also reject his false choice of “trying to push for the best package possible or leaving a disastrous status quo in place…” The not so subtle message is if a bill doesn’t pass we will be responsible for the disastrous status quo that is the state of health care in this country. Sorry Joshua, but that responsibility will rest with the Obama Administration that at every turn placated the profit hungry, parasitic insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
And if a bill does pass this year, we can hurry up and wait 4 years because that’s when it will be enacted! So, disastrous status quo for 4 more years, then in 2013 implementation of a disastrous bill that will continue to leave 20 million uninsured. I can hardly wait.
Hundreds of Afghans have held anti-US and anti-government demonstrations against a recent US-led attack which reportedly claimed the lives of 15 non-combatants.
The civilians were killed on Monday after US soldiers stormed a house on the outskirts of the provincial capital Mehtar Lam of the eastern province of Laghman, witnesses told a Press TV correspondent.
Speaking to our reporter in the aftermath of the attack on Mehtar Lam’s Armal neighborhood, the locals confirmed the number of the casualties which, they said, included women, children and an Afghan reporter.
The protesters stormed the streets the next morning, holding the bodies overhead. In scuffles with Afghan security forces, four protesters died, Reuters reported.
The US-led International Security Assistance Force said the victims of the Monday raid were all Taliban militants. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, condemned the attack which, his office said, killed six civilians.
US forces comprise the majority of the foreign soldiers operating in the eastern province.
The forces have also launched land and air assaults on the southern Afghan province of Helmand. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says civilian casualties in southern Afghanistan have risen by 20 percent this year. The rise, the committee said, was consonant with the increase in the number of foreign forces there.
The ICRC has warned of more casualties as the US plans to commit 30,000 more forces to the mission in Afghanistan while the NATO plans to reinforce the surge by 7,000 additional troops.
The war-stricken country is currently struggling with unprecedented violence despite the presence of around 110,000, mostly American, foreign soldiers.
By Renata Giraldi – December 8, 2009
Brazilian diplomats believe that the administration of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva plans to expand Brazil government’s outward signs of support and solidarity to Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
According to them, last week’s visit of Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, to the Iranian city of Isfahan to arrange Lula’s visit to Teheran is just another proof of the Brazilian leader’s intention.
Amorim’s talks in Iran spelled out the details of Lula’s trip to Tehran, which should occur on or before April 2010. The minister also spoke of the Brazilian commitment to intensify trade and technology exchange with Iran
Countering the criticism levied against Brasília, the Brazilian negotiators say the Lula administration doesn’t fear that the Iran-Brazil relationship will be used as currency by the Iranians to seek new opportunities in the international political scenario.
Amorim’s initiative, say these diplomats involved with the negotiations, show that Brazil is in favor of opening a dialogue with Iran. According to Lula’s interlocutors, the Brazilian government wants to show it supports Iran’s nuclear program including uranium enrichment, as long as used for peaceful purposes.
In recent days, Lula put the matter on the agenda in several bilateral talks he held with European leaders. According to the diplomats, it is necessary to make room for the Iranians so they can show and prove that their nuclear program doesn’t need to be object of suspicion.
However, on November 27, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution reproaching the construction of a plant to enrich uranium because it suspects that Iran’s nuclear program has military purposes.
In his trip to Brazil on November 23, Ahmadinejad has denied the charges and blamed the great powers for the complaints raising questions about the purpose of Iran’s nuclear program.
The plants that are part of Iran’s nuclear program have been subject to several inspections. Despite that, the Iranian government is accused of concealing the development of research and production of nuclear weapons.
December 8, 2009
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s justice minister reportedly called for basing the country’s judicial system on Torah laws.
“Step by step, we will bestow upon the citizens of Israel the laws of the Torah, and we will turn halachah into the binding law of the nation,” Ya’akov Ne’eman said Tuesday morning at a Jewish law conference in Jerusalem, according to Ha’aretz. “We must bring back the heritage of our fathers to the nation of Israel. The Torah has the complete solution to all of the questions we are dealing with.”
Ne’eman received applause for his comments. Many rabbis and rabbinical judges were at the convention.
In a statement released later Tuesday, the Justice Ministry’s spokesman clarified Ne’eman’s comments.
“The minister clarifies that his address did not contain an appeal to replace the state’s laws with the laws of halacha, neither directly nor indirectly,” the statement said. “The minister spoke in general and broad terms about returning the glory of Hebrew law and the importance of Hebrew law in the state.” … continue
Resistance movements deny responsibility for attacks while TFG crumbles
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Pan African News Wire
December 8, 2009
A bomb blast at the Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu has further destabilized the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that is backed by the United States through the deployment of 4,500 troops under the auspices of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). The attack killed over 20 people including four ministers in the government headed by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
The TFG has never had control over more than a section of the Somalia capital despite the allocation of millions of dollars in weapons and equipment to the AMISOM forces from both the Bush and Obama administrations. The government’s position has become even more precarious with the expulsion of three top military officers in the TFG bringing to light the splits within the regime.
On December 6 it was announced that new police and military commanders were being appointed to handle the worsening security situation. Garowe online said that “Gen. Ali Mahamed Hassan [Madobe] is the new police chief, replacing Gen. Abdi Hassan Awale [Qaybdid] while Gen. Mahamed Gelle Kahiye is taking over the military from the sacked Gen. Yussuf Hussein Osman [Dhumaal].” (Garowe Online, December 6)
This same report went on to state that “The embattled Somali government recently sacked Somali military and police commanders for failure to curb the rampant insurgency in the war-torn country.” Although the TFG cabinet and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke praised the newly-appointed police and military commanders, there was opposition to the decision which was reflected in demonstrations of hundreds of people in the capital who supported the former officials.
In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, the TFG placed blame on the main Islamic resistance organization, Al-Shabab, which denied responsibility for the attack. The other organization fighting the TFG, Hizbul Islam, also refuted the allegations that they were involved in the explosions that took place during a graduation ceremony for Benadir University.
A spokesman for Al-Shabaab, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, said that “We declare that al-Shabaab did not mastermind that explosion…. It is not in the nature of al-Shabaab to target innocent people.” (Al Jazeera quote from Reuters, December 4)
The al-Shabab spokesman went on to stress that “We know that some so-called government official left the scene of the explosion just minutes before the attack. That is why it is clear that they were behind the killing.”
Nonetheless, the Somali police have warned of other attacks by al-Shabaab which controls large sections of the southern and central regions of the country. According to Abdullahi Hassan Barise of the Somali police, “Our intelligence reports say al-Shabaab has prepared two suicide bombers in high-ranking police and military uniforms. They are going to target the airport and seaport. We have alerted all our forces. They should not be deceived by these al-Shabaab suicide bombers.” (Reuters, December 8)
by John V. Walsh – December 08, 2009
In a scene replicated all over the country, a small, dispirited crowd protested on Boston Common following Obama’s West Point declaration of more war on the unfortunate people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama intends to out-Bush Bush on Af-Pak, which has finally thrown some cold water on his supporters.
The large printed placards ordered up for the demo called for an end to the war on Af-Pak, but only three scraggily handmade signs mentioned Obama. The speeches ordained by the organizers also made scant mention of Obama, with two exceptions, one from Vets Against the War and another from Military Families Speak Out. When one guy took advantage of an open mike, not readily yielded to him, to criticize both Obama and the antiwar leadership of United for Peace and Justice, “Progressive” Democrats of America, and their bedfellows, there was a quiet over the crowd. It was the only speech without at least token applause. One could only wonder where this “movement” was headed next.
A clue came if one listened to the buzz on the sidelines. It was all about another election, the Democratic Party primary today to fill the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Each of the candidates has taken up an antiwar mantra as the polls have shown that the people of Massachusetts want no more of this game of empire in Central Asia. Michael Capuano, congressional representative from the Cambridge/Somerville/Boston area, had the early lead in establishing his antiwar bona fides, since he did vote against the Iraq war in his early days in Congress. But is he really a dove? Are Democrats with antiwar constituencies like Capuano’s in Cambridge genuinely against war and empire? The answer is no, and every now and then a vote comes along that shows how it all works.
One such crucial vote came in the winter of 2007, shortly after the Democrats took control of the House in the 2006 elections on a tidal wave of antiwar sentiment. Bush was at that time requesting another supplement for the wars on Central Asia, and the Democrats had inserted a dreaded “timeline” into the appropriation bill. This led the Republicans to vote against the bill, and if they were joined by enough Democrats, then funding of the wars would end at that moment: a golden opportunity if ever there was one. Faced with this potential debacle, Nancy Pelosi scrambled to get all the Democrats to vote for the bill to fund the war. Every vote was needed. What did Capuano do? What did other “antiwar” Democrats of the Massachusetts delegation do? The entire delegation voted for the bill, as Pelosi instructed, including Michael Capuano, James McGovern, Barney Frank – every member of the the most “liberal” delegation in Congress. There were only nine Democrats who stood up to Pelosi that day, including Dennis Kucinich, Maxine Waters, Lynne Woolsey, and Barbara Lee. If the bill had had only one more opponent, the funding would have been cut off, so close was the vote. But that lone vote did not materialize from Massachusetts. So the funding bill passed, and the war was alive and well.
That is the way the game is played. So long as the war machine does not need the votes of congressmen with strong antiwar constituencies, these representatives are free to cast a vote to mollify their voters. But when the chips are down and every vote is needed, the charade is called to a halt and these counterfeit progressives cast their votes as instructed by Pelosi or whatever gauleiter happens to be in charge at the moment. Thus the empire rules by demanding loyalty to one of the two War Parties over the will of antiwar constituents. Of course, this emerges even more clearly in presidential elections, when each and every Democrat, even the nine mavericks of winter 2007 – Kucinich, Woolsey, Waters, et al. – line up to dutifully support pro-war candidates such as Kerry or Obama.
As the late Eugene McCarthy pointed out in 1968 in the snows of New Hampshire, drawing on the words of Daniel Webster, wars of empire continue because the people’s “representatives” put loyalty to party over loyalty to the people and to principle. Thus the Vietnam War ground on, and thus does the U.S. empire’s deadly game in Central Asia continue.