Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Poison Gas

Speech laws, including laws against hate speech, are like poison gas. They seem like a great idea when the wind is blowing away from you. However, when the wind changed direction, you become the target of your own efforts.

Here we see a very disturbing example of this in canada.

Chris Cook of the University of Victoria Gorilla Radio (GO-rilla, as in, our furry friends or cousins… or descendants, depending on your evolutionary perspective and level of optimism about the human race) writes:

“For American readers who value and feel protected by the First Amendment (right to free speech), it may seem strange that a country would enshrine in law the opposite condition; but Hate Crime legislation in this country is widely supported. Canada is an ethnically and politically diverse country, consisting of minority populations from the world over, and it was deemed fair-minded to ensure all are protected from the “tyranny of the majority.” But it’s a double-edged sword, making possible an abuse of the statutes, allowing an equally odious tyranny, the stifling of dissent and criticism by a dedicated minority.”

Cook’s problem is that one edge of this sword just fell on a web-site he edits, the Peace, Earth and Justice News, “a non-profit, all-volunteer, non-hierarchical media organization” based in Victoria whose mission (as described in its Constitution) is to report on “climate change and other environmental issues, war and peace in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and human rights and other matters of social justice.”

PEJ has been operating since 1996 and is owned by the small (annual budget of a few hundred dollars and all volunteer staff), non-profit Prometheus Institute, British Columbia, where Cook was a senior editor until February this year.

On May 17 PEJ publisher Alan Rycroft received a letter from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, signed by the deputy secretary general Richard Tardiff, claiming that PEJ had violated Canadian law by posting anti-Semitic material, according to a complaint filed with its legal department by Harry Abrams, a Victoria businessman and British Columbia representative for the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith, Canada, which joins him in the complaint.

PEJ publishes materials from activists around the world, including some who have published on American websites like Counterpunch and Dissident Voice. It is an alternative paper that by definition carries news not covered in the mainstream press and those stories are naturally controversial, often criticizing the actions of powerful entities, including governments. Naturally, that includes the Canadian government. And naturally, also, the Israeli government.


Anita Bromberg, in-house legal counsel for B’nai Brith, Canada, has joined Mr. Abrams in the complaint against PEJ’s peace activism, because, she says, the articles “are virulently anti-Israel to the point that they meet the criteria of crossing the line of legitimate criticism of the state straight into anti-Semitism.”

What, according to the complaint, is anti-Semitic?

“The idea that Israel has no right to exist or that Israel is an apartheid state,” says Mr. Abrams. Also, any comparison of Zionists to Nazis. [While this may, or may not, be accurate, it is not anti-semitism.]

Were there such articles?

In the context of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Lebanon, several pieces did compare Israeli policy with Nazi persecution of Jews [It is perfectly legit to compare.] and question the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. [So opposistion to sectarian states is anti-semtic?] One, by Chris Cook, “We Should Nuke Israel,” for instance, was a parody of a column in The Toronto Sun [Neocon owned] proposing a tactical strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Cook simply replaced the word “Iran” with “Israel,” “Ahmadinejad” with “Olmert,” “Muslim” with “Jew” and tagged the following paragraph at the end, ironically recommending that the article be acted upon by the Human Rights Commission:

“This amazingly ignorant, hateful, and frankly criminal article has been redacted. ‘Israel’ appears where the murderous and racist author, Michael Coren originally wrote ‘Iran.’ Likewise other slight alterations have been performed. There is, in what remains of this country Canada, hate crime legislation. Unlike Mr. Coren’s, and his Toronto Sun publisher’s heroes in the United States, Canadian media is expected to live up to certain standards. Promoting hatred and proposing the destruction of human life fail miserably to live up to the expected, and legislated, mandates for publishers. I recommend those offended by Mr. Coren’s modest proposal write the Sun, Coren, and the CRTC. Mr. Coren can be reached here.”

This is strong language, yes. But why, we wonder, does the Canadian Human Rights Commission not also write a letter to the columnist in The Toronto Sun, who proposed a real nuclear hit on Iran with a straight face. Why instead attack a column written in transparent satire in response to the former? Are the human rights of Iranians — or of Palestinians — less worthy of attention than the human rights of Israelis? [Yes, Why????]

By the way, here in the U.S., words as strong, such as “ethnic cleansing” and even “genocidal” have been applied to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, in academic and law journals such as Gonzaga University’s (10 Gonz. J. Int’l L. 370, 2007). It’s hard to see why the killing and dispossession of civilians shouldn’t be called ethnic cleansing or genocide. [Yes, very hard to see.]

And, would the CHRC also rush so zealously to investigate on behalf of an organization that claimed Canada — or the U.S. — was a Christian country? [Hmmm.... Nope, they would probaly go after that organization for hate speech!!!]


The fact that it has shows clearly that PEJ was, in this instance, simply following its mission of attacking injustice wherever it finds it and defending human rights, no matter whose. Its criticism of Israel as a race-based state was simply part of its universal secular defense of human rights. [And even if they didn't do this, they should still be allowed to say what they said.]

But defending universal secular human rights which, by the way, is stated policy in the State Department turns out now to be the promotion of “ongoing hatred affecting persons identifiable as Jews and/or as citizens of Israel.” Indeed, Harry Abrams and B’nai Brith state that Abrams has “reasonable grounds for believing that I have been discriminated against.”

The only trouble with that is that the criticism in the articles is directed at the policies of the state of Israel, not at Mr. Abrams personally.

Should we conclude that Mr. Abrams sees himself as indistinguishable from the Israeli government? Or that B’nai Brith’s interest in human rights is indistinguishable from the vested interests of the Israeli government? [Yes, that is a good question.]

So far, Canada’s Globe and Mail, which published the story on May 24, has also published PEJ’s vigorous characterization of the charges as “calumnies.” [a false and malicious statement] But for how long?


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Rom Paul on Bill Maher

Ron Paul is doing a greatjob of exposing the misinformation about the causes for 9/11 and terrorism effors against america in general.

Here is a clip of him on the Bill Maher show on April 25. I think Mr. Paul comports himself very well.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fabrication from Feith

Feith caught in an outright lie?

Douglas Feith is one gressy dude. He always seems to leave himself a tiny bit of room to hedge his lies as "opinion" or some other wiggle word. However, it would seem that this is evidence of an outright lie:

On or around 25 July 2002, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (OUSDP) of the US gave a briefing entitled 'Assessing the Relationship Between Iraq and al-Qaida'. This alternative intelligence report wrote that Osama Bin Laden's al-Hijra Company had contacts with the Netherlands-based company Vlemmo NV, which was allegedly involved in the purchase by Iraq of military equipment, Verhagen confirmed.

But "the company Vlemmo is unknown in the Netherlands," according to the minister. "The company has never been registered with the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands and is also not known to the tax service. That the company may have served as a front for illegal arms trade with Iraq is equally unknown to me."

This is a shocking development indeed. Read more at Juan Cole and Dutch News

Monday, May 21, 2007

Romney leads Republicans In Iowa

Running on the Iraq war does not seem to be paying dividends for Rudy Guliani:

Mitt Romney has sprinted ahead of presidential competitors John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in a new Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucus participants.

The Des Moines Register poll shows Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is the top choice of 30 percent of those who say they definitely or probably will attend the leadoff Iowa caucuses in January.

Now, Romney is not running an anti-war campaign by any means, but he is not foaming at the mouth like Guliani and McCain.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pensioners Will Pay for Israel

Neo-conservatives have succeeded in getting Barack Obama to jump through a big hoop for them. In particular, Sen. Obama has introduced the follow bill:

The bill, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007, would require the federal government to publish a list of U.S. overseas subsidiaries and foreign companies that have invested more than $20 million dollars in Iran’s energy sector. It would also authorize state and local governments to divest the assets of their pension and other funds from any company on that list and protect fund managers who divest from listed companies from lawsuits by investors unhappy with the results.


The sponsors of this bill are the same people who dragged us into the Iraq war causing over 3400 US deaths and federal spending of some 500 billion dollars and counting. These are the same people who are responsible for killing 100,000 - 600,000 Iraqis as well as driving millions out of the country in order to "liberate" it. These are the same people responsible for destroying Iraq’s infrastructure by imposing 10 years of sanctions and bombing followed by the ongoing war. These are the same people who caused the Republican Party to lose majorities in both houses of congress and who have severely damaged the United States reputation internationally.

Now, these same people want to use the state pension systems as their next vehicle for conducting foreign policy experiments. If I were depending on these pensions I would be nervous. I wouldn’t want the Neocons to do for my pension what they have done for Iraq.

Exxon has been one of my best performing stocks over the last few years. I am sure most other energy related companies have also done well (in part thank to the Neocons). Some of these stocks will be made unavailable to state pensions making their already difficult job of generating high yields even more difficult.

The bill's significant risk to pension fund performance is well understood by the sponsors of this legislation. They have purposefully included a clause protecting the pension fund manager from lawsuits. They know the activities contemplated in this bill are very likely to hurt fund performance.

The policies contemplated by this bill will also hurt American businesses. Companies doing profitable business Iran will be tempted to stop doing so to get off this list. Consequently they will miss valuable business opportunities thereby opening doors for unencumbered foreign competition to step in (Russia, China, Europe, for example). US employees involved in these projects may loose their jobs, and America may loose access to value energy sources and supplies.

Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal crowd likes to point out when discussing trade with China, our best way to liberalize a country to is to promote trade with them. We should use this same policy with Iran.

So, again we see one of the many costs imposed on the US for our unthinking and unjustified support for Israel. I suppose past performance is no guarantee of future results. Anyone with a state pension better hope this is the case.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It is Not About US Security

Ron Paul shed some light on the concept of blowback last nigh at the Republican debate last night. We are not in conflict with Iraq because of "our freedom."

The strong reaction from leading war monger Giuliani shows that the neocon-right is very afraid of such a dialog. They are afraid because if our "policies" in the mid-east are responsible for the terrorist backlash then someone might have the audacity to suggest our support for Israel is one of those policies, although Ron Paul did not say such a thing.

But it is also interesting to note that some security measures go "to far" even for Guilani. These would include policies that actually try to keep terrorists out of the United States:

He was almost certainly going to launch into the most idiotic argument in modern political debate: "If we don't fight them over there, we'll have to fight them over here."

Well, we won't have to fight them over here if we don't let them in. When he was New York City mayor, Giuliani went all the way to the Supreme Court to defend his "sanctuary" plan for illegals.. And like all the other leading GOP contenders, he supports that amnesty- that-dare-not-speak-its-name.

Paul is for closing the borders and enforcing immigration law. It's no wonder the party hacks are talking about excluding him from future debates. If he's going to keep spouting Republican ideas in a Republican primary election, that just isn't fair to candidates like Giuliani.

This immigration policy is particularly interesting in light of the most recent terrorist threat coming from illegal Albanians.

This only makes sense when you understand that protecting Israel, rather than America, is the objective.

NJ Star Ledger

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Planned Chaotic Collapse

Very interesting backgrounder on the pre-Iraq-invasion information gathering by the neocons at takimag:

The “chaotic collapse” we see today in Iraq was anticipated, “expedited” and even welcomed. It came as little surprise to Washington “neocon” insiders like Wurmser, Feith, et al. No doubt the implosion of Iraq as a nation-state was also anticipated by AIPAC’s pro-Likud lobbyists on Capital Hill, who were riding herd over an obsequious, look-the-other-way Senate and Congress.

Worth reading the whole thing at Web of Lies.

Selling out for Nothing

As Christians are being driven from the middle east in Droves due to anger over Iraq and Israel, James Dobson continues to spew nonsense on Iraq. From RawStory:

“I was invited to go to Washington DC to meet with President Bush in the White House along with 12 or 13 other leaders of the pro-family movement," Dobson disclosed on his radio program Monday. “And the topic of the discussion that day was Iraq, Iran and international terrorism.


“Many people in a position to know are talking about the possibility of losing a city to nuclear or biological or chemical attack. And if we can lose one we can lose ten.


Later in his broadcast, during a discussion about Iran with author and self-proclaimed “prophecy expert” Joel Rosenberg, Dobson drew a parallel between current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Adolf Hitler.

The point here is not that just that this is more "AgitProp," which it is, but rather what are Dobson and the other evangelicals leaders going to receive for this last bit of loyalty? Very little, it seem to me. In fact, it is going to cost them dearly.

When the Republicans are crushed during the next election, this group is going to loose decades of hard work. The democrats will move forward to have gay marriage recognized and to further secure the right to abortion in the courts.

These are core issues for this crowd. So, when all the progress they have made is lost, they will see that they sold out their core issues for something that will end up being a complete failure - a war that cost hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of deaths for US citizens.

That doesn't sound like a fair deal to me, and it will be the source of much friction the Republcan party for years to come.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Iraq Parliament Calls for US Withdrawl

Didn't Bush say we would leave Iraq when the Iraqi's asked us to go? Base on this statement from meet the press it seems like they have:

[T]he duly elected people's bodies, the U.S. Congress and the Iraqi parliament, say they want a troop withdrawal. That's more than a poll. Isn't that the voice of the people?

So, what are we waiting for?


Israel's Ethnic Cleansing Attempt

The Antiwar Blog discusses Israel's attempt to make Jerusalem Jewish:

For four decades, Israel has pushed to build and expand Jewish neighborhoods, while trying to restrict the growth in Arab parts of the city.

I can’t imagine the vitriol that would be packaged as journalism if some southern US state were to, say, subsidize the construction of white neighborhoods and yet refuse permits for private building in overcrowded black neighborhoods. In 2007. It would be the only news for weeks. But it’s Israel, so the New York Times shrugs.


Antiwar Blog

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Speaking for the Church?

Did Leibermann have to make a speech like this?

A case in point: Ahead of next week's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, some in the state have received an eight-page criticism of the Mormon religion from an anonymous sender, questioning whether it's politically dangerous and referring to Mormon texts as hoaxes.

The whispers could get louder, however, and that may move the Romney campaign to address the matter head on.

"There's been a lot of talk about whether or not he needs to give a speech like John Kennedy did in 1960 in which he says, 'I don't speak for the church, and the church doesn't speak for me,' " said Scott Helman, a Boston Globe reporter who has covered Romney for years. "At this point, his advisers feel he doesn't have to do that. But the more his religion is in the headlines, I think the more they have to consider it."

Kennedy was the United States' first Catholic president.


Thursday, May 10, 2007


A measure requiring Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq in nine months lost "255-171, with 59 Democrats joining almost all Republicans in opposition."

I think two Republicans voted for the bill.

So, something like 42 votes remain. As the 2008 election and associated primaries come closer, 42 votes will not be hard to find.

Phase II Report Coming

Via Laura Rosen and antiwar blog:

“The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, and the Vice Chairman, Senator Kit Bond, announced today that the Committee has adopted its Phase II report on prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq. The Committee will submit the report to the Director of National Intelligence for classification review. Following declassification, the Committee will release the report to the public.”

The report will get spun no matter what is says, but there might be some new information in it that is useful.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lots of News

It does seem like the tide is turning a bit on the war. As pointed out on Zossen, we have:

Vlad comparing the US to the Third Reich

Moderate Republican Telling Bush They Can't Continue to Support the War

General's Put out Video Against Bush and War

Now is a really good time to tell your Congressperson and/or Senator that you want a timeline to end the war in any funding bill. Even if you have a hard core Republican as your Rep they will still feel the heat.

Also, any money you can contribute to get this video on the air is very helpful.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Hero Among Cowards

It is certainly worth remembering those who stood up for what is right when it was most difficult to do so.

There was only one principled Senator of either party who stood up to the juggernaut, and made a fight of it. That man was Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia. He attempted to mount a filibuster against the war resolution, but he was cut off by a 75 to 25 vote. Byrd was regarded as an eccentric, a foolish old timer. He steadfastly refused to succumb to the hysteria. He knew what he was talking about, and recognized the Administration’s pack of lies for what it was when it was proffered. Byrd should now be regarded as a hero. He was right all along, but at the time his views were ridiculed.

This stands in stark contrast to men like George Tenet.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Letter to George Tenet

Six former CIA agents involved in the information gathering process prior to Iraq detail the information was available before the decision to attack Iraq was made in recent letter to George Tenet. The letters shows that "the whole world" did not think Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or ties with Al Queda.

In fact our own CIA thought just the opposite. What the White House did, with the help of tenet, was to make sure that no one was able to listen to our CIA. And we are paying for that dearly.

This [letter] is not a case of Monday morning quarterbacking. You [Mr. Tenet] helped send very mixed signals to the American people and their legislators in the fall of 2002. CIA field operatives produced solid intelligence in September 2002 that stated clearly there was no stockpile of any kind of WMD in Iraq. This intelligence was ignored and later misused. On October 1 you signed and gave to President Bush and senior policy makers a fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)—which dovetailed with unsupported threats presented by Vice President Dick Cheney in an alarmist speech on August 26, 2002.

You were well aware that the White House tried to present as fact intelligence you knew was unreliable. And yet you tried to have it both ways. On October 7, just hours before the president gave a major speech in Cincinnati, you were successful in preventing him from using the fable about Iraq purchasing uranium in Africa, although that same claim appeared in the NIE you signed only six days before.

Although CIA officers learned in late September 2002 from a high-level member of Saddam Hussein's inner circle that Iraq had no past or present contact with Osama bin Laden and that the Iraqi leader considered bin Laden an enemy of the Baghdad regime, you still went before Congress in February 2003 and testified that Iraq did indeed have links to Al Qaeda.

You showed a lack of leadership and courage in January of 2003 as the Bush Administration pushed and cajoled analysts and managers to let them make the bogus claim that Iraq was on the verge of getting its hands on uranium. You signed off on Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations. And, at his insistence, you sat behind him and visibly squandered CIA's most precious asset—credibility."

George Tenet is a sad and tragic figure. He was used and abused by the Bush administration, but still doesn't have the courage to really fight back.

He was not the reason we attacked Iraq, but he was an enabler, a classic buruecrat with little or no spine.