Category Archives: The Empire

Max Blumenthal Interviews Fellow Jews on Gaza

Not much I can say about this except that as you watch you might want to remember that these are the people making our Middle East policy.

It’s Confirmed: America Has Been Officially Militarized

Glenn Greenwald confirms what I wrote five years ago: that the militarization of our politics was a Bush/neocon goal and that it has succeeded. Joe Biden, a supposed Democrat, is referring to Obama as our next Commander-in-Chief.

Biden’s formulation here is a particularly creepy rendition, since he’s taunting opponents of  Obama that, come Tuesday, they will be forced to refer to him as “our commander in chief Barack Obama” (Sarah Palin, in the very first speech she delivered after being unveiled as the Vice Presidential candidate, said of John McCain:  “that’s the kind of man I want as our commander in chief,” and she’s been delivering that same line in her stump speech ever since).

This is much more than a semantic irritant.  It’s a perversion of the Constitution, under which American civilians simply do not have a “commander in chief”; only those in the military — when it’s called into service — have one (Art. II, Sec. 2).

Worse, “commander in chief” is a military term, which reflects the core military dynamic:  superiors issue orders which subordinates obey.  That isn’t supposed to be the relationship between the U.S. President and civilian American citizens, but because the mindless phrase “our commander in chief” has become interchangeable with “the President,” that is exactly the attribute — supreme, unquestionable authority in all arenas — which has increasingly come to define the power of the President. 

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“Bush? Bush? Never Heard of Him,” Whispers the GOP

At the nominating convention of the party in power, a party whose leader had 8 years – two full terms – in office that they presumably would be celebrating if they thought they had a reason, they’ve shuttled the Emperor off to one side. He wasn’t even allowed to attend in person – the ultimate insult – instead, making an appearance via satellite on closed circuit tv.  Adding insult to injury, they then gave the major speaking slot to John McCain’s real running mate (and potentially co-president a la Bush/Cheney), Joe Lieberman.  Lieberman. An ex-Democrat so far to the right that even Harry Reid has given him up for lost.

President Bush, relegated to a minor role at the Republican National Convention, praised John McCain Tuesday night as “ready to lead this nation,” a courageous candidate who supported the war in Iraq despite risks to his campaign for the White House.

I’m sorry, what??!! McC is courageous because he followed the pack? Did what he was told? Licked the Emperor’s boots? This is what passes for courage in the Republican party?

You gotta love the way these people are always the gutsy victims of some vicious, over-powering enemy even when they massively out-number that enemy and have every conceivable advantage. It’s sort of like hearing the Roman Senate bragging about how their heavily-armored and highly trained Legions stopped a revolt of slaves armed with rocks and sticks, only the way they tell it the Romans had the rocks and the slaves had 50mm Howitzers and the Empire was in grave danger from those 47 slaves and their sharpened thornbushes – or balsawood planes, if you’d rather.

But while George was lost in his usual fantasy of imagining himself and his GOP cohort as some combination of Winston Churchill & and the ’39 RAF and Leonidas & his 300 at Thermopylae, back in the real world (comparatively) Fred Thompson was going after the people who’ve been going after Li’l Sadie P.

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If a Republican Wins, Head for Tierra del Fuego

I didn’t watch the GOP debate last night because there’s no point to it. They’ve established a pattern and it’s always the same: 2 or 3 of them get into a vicious fight over who’s most like a dictator, who’d violate the Constitution the most often, who’d break more laws, who’d give the oligarchs the most tax breaks, who’d torture more innocent people, who’d invade the most Muslim countries, and/or who’d make sure a maximum number of the poor would starve, freeze to death, and end up homeless, roaming the streets.

And just to be sure we’re clear, those aren’t attacks against their opponents. They’re boasting.


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Impeach Bush – For Everybody’s Sake

England is a land with a long sad history of brutal, stupid, and outright crazy kings, so it’s not perhaps unusual that a Brit should see more clearly than we do how monarchical George Bush has made America. Last week in the Nation, Simon Prentis laid it on the line.

To those of us here in Britain, there is an Orwellian edge to the news that George Bush is invoking executive privilege to protect his policies from Congressional investigation. Just like that scene in Animal Farm, when the newly liberated animals start to believe that some are more equal than others, it sounds like the President of the United States has reverted to the divine right of kings.

Actually, it’s more like the divine right of emperors but why quibble. The supposed divinity of emperors rests on the supposed divinity of kings, one simply an extension of the other. Prentis’ basic point is dead on: while the corporatocracy and its conservative handmaidens want to return America to the Glory Days of the Robber Barons after the Civil War, Bush and his right-wing enablers have pushed the clock even further back – to before the Revolution, before Washington and Jefferson and Adams, when America was ruled by a monarch who threw people in jail whenever he felt like it for any reason or no reason at all, when the Colonies were vassals of an unstable, very sick king (porphyry, they say, which afflicts its sufferers with fits that resemble insanity not a little) and who had no political representation and were subject to arbitrary punishments and ludicrous laws.

For some reason, we still, 230 years later, have Tories – monarchists – in our midst, and two of them are running the country. Prentis asks, “Wasn’t that something you guys fought so hard to escape from?” and the ironic echo of the question bounces between the walls of conscience like the condemnation of a friend betrayed. Yes, we did. And now we have finally turned against our beginnings, our founders, and our tradition by allowing a self-appointed, self-anointed king to build himself a throne in our very capital.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

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Imperial Democrats and the Gullible Left

I like Glenn Greenwald and consider his Salon blog a Must-Read most days but his insistent refusal to accept the deliberate nature of right-wing pundit fantasizing has become annoying and his benefit-of-the-doubt criticisms of the MSM and Democratic inactivity may be downright dangerous. Fortunately, his readers aren’t as backward as he is.

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Imperial Democrats: Levin v Maliki

Powerful Democratic Sen Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has become the first openly imperial Democrat by assuming that he has the right to tell Iraq what to do with its government.

Declaring the government of Iraq “non-functional,” the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said yesterday that Iraq’s parliament should oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet if they are unable to forge a political compromise with rival factions in a matter of days.

“I hope the parliament will vote the Maliki government out of office and will have the wisdom to replace it with a less sectarian and more unifying prime minister and government,” Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) said after a three-day trip to Iraq and Jordan.

Levin’s statement, the most forceful call for leadership change in Iraq from a U.S. elected official, comes as about two dozen lawmakers are traveling to Iraq during Congress’s August break to glean firsthand assessments before receiving a progress report next month from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander there, and Ryan C. Crocker, the U.S. ambassador.

Levin’s comments show just how deeply the Democratic leadership has internalized the foreign policy establishment’s unquestioning acceptance of the fundamental neoconservative belief that the US is and ought to be an imperial power, complete with satraps and client states. It seems not to have occurred to him that Iraq’s internal politics are none of his business.

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Maybe the Dems Want Authoritarian Powers

Digby is befuddled by the Democrats’ race to authorize more wiretapping power to a patently untrustworthy administration.

Let’s set aside the idea that “trusting” the Bush administration with warrantless wiretaps is like trusting your four year old with a zippo lighter, what kind of bucket-of-lukewarm-spit kind of politics is this? What are they afraid of, that the Bush administration will blame them if a terrorist attack occurs and they didn’t approve another blank check? Guess what? It wouldn’t matter if the Democrats named Bush king with the power to draw and quarter hippies and Muslims on the white house lawn, they will still blame the Democrats if there is another terrorist attack.

I do not know what this latest program is, but whatever it is, it needs to be approved by somebody other than the White House. I’m sorry, but that should be non-negotiable. Dick Cheney has delegated to himself virtually limitless power and he is borderline insane. The executive branch cannot be trusted with additional power of any kind. They have quite enough, thank you.

(emphasis in the original)

Avedon Carol writes at Eschaton (where she was sitting in for Atrios) wondering about lambert’s question at corrente: why aren’t the Dems explicitly condemning the Bush Admin’s anti-Constitutionality and promising to restore the rights Bushies have stolen from us?

The Democrats are under tremendous pressure from the right-wing spinnners on The Hill and their media handmaidens to ignore these important issues. They’re going to ask them about haircuts and cleavage.
So, when we have a chance to get them to talk about important questions, we’d damn well better take it.
We have to push back. That’s what democracy is all about: We have to tell them what we want – and when they are running for office, we have to ask them how they plan to give us what we want.

eRobin at Fact-esque, who was, as usual, ahead of everybody, wrote last week:

I want all the presidential candidates  to, at every opportunity, condemn specific steps this president has taken to undermine the Constitution and to pledge to reverse them ALL on his/her first day in office. I am vastly more concerned with their reluctance to do that than I am even with BushCo’s persistence on his unconstitutional path. (from BushCo I worry that we’ll get another 9/11) The damage he’s done can be contained not only by impeachment (which would be my first choice in a reasonable world but is not in this one) but also by immediate repudiation of what he’s done over the last two terms by whoever gets elected to succeed him.

Putting these two concerns together raises a disturbing question, and since it seems to be my function to think the unthinkable and verbalize the thoughts no one else wants to admit having, I will do my duty and turn over the rock.

The Democrats, like everyone else in the known world, are assuming that the White House will belong to them in ’09. Given the Pubs’ apparent determination to self-destruct by strenuously opposing a withdrawal from Iraq and obstructing legislation everybody wants, like the SCHIP expansion, even as they demand more debt-borrowing to finance energy companies, it’s entirely possible that for once they’re right. So:

Is it conceivable that Democrats are reluctant to explicitly condemn the unConstitutional powers assumed by our imperial president because at some level they themselves wants access to at least some of those powers when they gain control again?

The answer, I’m afraid, is Yes.

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Iraq Vets Talk (Updated)

Three years ago I predicted, based on my experience with Viet Nam vets, that the day was going to come when we read of atrocities committed by our troops in Iraq.

I thought it would come as My Lai came or the depredations of Tiger Force–in gonzo attacks on Iraqis in the field. I expected Fallujah might very likely be that moment. Marines storming into a beleagured city where you can’t tell the enemy from the friendlies and mowing down everything in sight without fear or favor. It’s still possible, don’t kid yourself. The troops are exhausted, angry, betrayed by their own commanders (anybody remember “fragging”?) and by the President who lied to get them there and then put them in the position of jail-keepers, only the jail they have to watch over is an entire country. It is hard enough to control an army when it believes in its mission; it is almost impossible when it doesn’t.

I’m not making excuses for those involved, only trying to put what’s happened into the context of the reality they are now facing, a reality most of us–lucky us!–will never have to face. If you ask young men and women to die for you in the name of some great humanitarian cause and it turns out to be a crock, it turns out that you’ve asked them to die for some cock-eyed dream of empire or the piling up of your personal wealth or the fortunes of yourself and your family–and in this case, your contributors–you have turned those young men and women into mercenaries, Hessians. You have made them not a force of liberation but a force of occupation, not liberators but oppressors, and don’t think they don’t know it. Their rage, depression, and growing sense that everything they’ve just done was pointless, worthless, a sham, has to go somewhere.

Unfortunately, though we haven’t yet seen fragging*, we’ve seen massacres of civilians in Haditha and elsewhere, and a slaughter of probable innocents in Baghdad. I warned in a different post (that I can’t find at the moment) that the effect of a dirty war on the men and women who had to fight it wasn’t going to be pretty, especially when they came home and had to somehow learn to live with what they’d done.

The Nation has just published a major report (via Sadly, No) that proves it’s happening.

Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.

Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported–and almost always go unpunished.

The effect on the troops who do such things or see them done is devastating.

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Re-Defining Imperialism

Ultra-conservative commentator Max Boot, who normally just looooves the rattling of sabers, has decided that the only problem in Iraq was the way Bremer handled the PR. Along the way, he decides to re-define ‘imperialism’ as ‘foreign intervention’–and then defend it.

With the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded and L. Paul Bremer III back at home, it’s time to ponder the future of American imperialism. Many, of course, will huffily reply that U.S. imperialism has no future, and they will point to all the troubles we’ve encountered in Iraq during the last year as evidence.But whatever happens in Iraq, there will continue to be strong demand for U.S. interventions around the world. Failed states and rogue states constitute the biggest threats to world peace in the foreseeable future, and only the United States has the will and the resources to do anything about them. Even many of those who detested the invasion of Iraq plead for the U.S. to bring order to places like Darfur, a province in Sudan where genocide is occurring. The U.S. cannot shrug off the burden of global leadership, at least not without catastrophic cost to the entire world, but it can exercise its power more wisely than it did in Iraq over the past year.

One of Bremer’s chief failings was that he tried to act the part of an imperial proconsul. He and his spokesmen hogged the media spotlight, which only exacerbated Iraqis’ tendency to blame them for everything that went wrong, from too many car bombings to not enough electricity.

Apparently it isn’t just Karl Rove and the BA who have an unstinting belief in the power of imagery. See, we didn’t make any mistakes in Iraq and nothing bad is really happening there and we didn’t cut the Iraqis out of the chance to reconstruct their own country in order to hand $$BILLIONS$$ in contracts to the Vice President’s Corporation, Halliburton, and other US companies with long histories of overcharging and shoddy work and fraud. No, uh-uh. The problem is, rather, that Paul Bremer was on tv too much.

Having once read a book about it, Boot goes on to argue for his favorite form of empire–the British Empire of the 19th century–a direct slap at Paul Wolfowitz who has made it quite plain that he prefers the Roman Empire as a model. Because that’s the real argument in proto-neocon circles. They’re not debating whether or not America is to become an empire; as far as they’re concerned, that train left the station when the Soviet Union collapsed (‘only the United States has the will and the resources’). No, no. America’s destiny is as an Empire. They’re arguing over which form the empire should take.

If you want to know which form a second Bush Admin would take, Mr Boot has thoughtfully laid it out for you: it will begin the formation of the New American Empire (format yet to be determined), an Empire we simply have no choice but to create, and it will do it openly–no more pussy-footing around, pretending occupations aren’t occupations and puppet govts are genuine. No, we will be calling the shots, and Mr Boot prefers that when we do it, we don’t do it in front of cameras so the whole world can see us doing it. He thinks we should run our New Empire…discretely. With rapacious ruthlessness, to be sure, but also with the good taste not to brag about it too much or be overly heavy-handed. He thinks it will last longer that way.

But I have an alternate suggestion, since it’s all PR anyway. The New American Empire: Let’s not and say we did.

Is the US clever enough to rule the world?

It’s a good question even if the answer is obvious to all but the most die-hard neocons. Ian Williams of the Asia Times tries to answer it without belaboring that obvious answer.

Former United Nations secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who unsuccessfully tried to teach US secretary of state Madeleine Albright the art of statecraft, once noted that neither the Roman Empire nor the US had any patience for diplomacy, which is “perceived by an imperial power as a waste of time and prestige and a sign of weakness”.However, as the Goths, Huns and Vandals, among others, demonstrated soon enough, this was a dangerous misperception for the Romans and is currently proving equally dangerous for the Americans.

[N]o one would accuse either the Bush or even the Clinton administration of Cartesian logic in its recent policy formulations. Indeed, what makes recent US foreign policy so anomalous is how often it is in violation of any rational national interest, let alone of abstract moral and legal principles.In this less than perfect world, real powers with real problems will occasionally bend and stretch the rules, but this administration has gone further. It has challenged the rules themselves, and denied their normative power.

The doctrine of preemptive strikes and unilateral action, and the scorn for the United Nations and its Charter, represented a fundamental threat to the very global order that the US did so much to bring about in 1945.

He sounds surprised. The truth is that that challenge was the whole point of the policy: to prove that the neocon fantasy of American domination is feasible. As with what eagle2 used to call ‘Rocco’s Gang’–a reference to the movie ‘Key Largo’–enough is never enough, more is never enough, they will never feel ‘secure’ or that the country is secure until they own or run everything. As long as there is a perceived enemy or a perceived profit to be made, they will be grabbing for more, more, always more. They will tell us, they will tell themselves that it’s ‘necessary’, ‘the way of the world’, or, more baldly, ‘we deserve it because we’re the greatest country on earth and who should have it if we don’t?’ They will use the excuses of safety, economic survival, and peace but what they will mean is global destabilization, economic ruin for everybody else, and peace at the point of a gun if necessary–and they’ll make sure it is.

Ian is asking the wrong question, in a way. It doesn’t matter whether they’re clever enough; what matters is that they’re strong enough and willing enough to try to do what every empire-dreamer has longed to do since the beginning of civilization: own and operate the planet for their own benefit, which they will assume–and believe–means for our benefit no matter how often and how loudly we tell them that we’re not interested. Daddy knows best. And if he doesn’t? He’ll be holding the gun, so it amounts to the same thing.

They won’t do it because they’re smart enough. They’ll do it because they can and there’s nobody around who can stop them.

They think.

US Empire: The Big Picture

Robert Jensen nails it. Rather than restating his points in my own words, I’ll fall back on my bad habit of extensively excerpting:

Republican politicians took potshots at House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi last week after she called President Bush “incompetent” and criticized his judgment and leadership. Her conclusion — “the emperor has no clothes” — understandably made Republicans angry, because it is so obviously accurate.

Pelosi’s remarks deserve scrutiny, but not because she was too harsh on the president. The lies and distortions that Bush and his top officials used to promote the U.S. invasion of Iraq were exposed long ago, and day-by-day the disastrous consequences of the occupation are obvious to all but the most fanatical of the Leader’s faithful.

But the problem is not just that the EMPEROR is bare, but that the U.S. EMPIRE has no clothes, and in that respect mainstream Democrats stand before the world as naked as the most reactionary Republicans.

…The modalities of control change, but the game remains the same; set the terms for the world economy and derail the possibility of independent development by any means necessary, with a gargantuan military on call when violence is required.

Nor do the differences in style and tactics make Democratic administrations any less imperial than Republicans. The Cold-War liberals of the Democratic Party had no greater qualms than Republicans about using the military to extend U.S. power in the Third World…

That pattern continues up to this day. We should not forget that for all the talk of Bill Clinton’s “multilateralism,” he launched an illegal attack on Iraq in 1998 and insisted on maintaining the harshest economic embargo in modern history on that country for eight years, which killed as many as 1 million Iraqis — policies that had virtually no support in the world. In short, Clinton killed more Iraqis than Bush as he ignored international law and world opinion. I doubt the fact that Clinton is smarter and more rhetorically gifted than Bush makes much difference to the dead in Iraq.

Neither Republicans nor mainstream Democrats seem capable of admitting that the invasion of Iraq was never about weapons of mass destruction, terrorist ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, or creating democracy; it was simply an intensification of the longstanding U.S. project of controlling the strategically crucial energy resources of the Middle East. That project has gone on under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, taking different forms but always with that same goal of expanding U.S. power.

It’s not just the Iraq War that is immoral. The whole rotten project of empire building is immoral — and every bit as much a Democratic as a Republican project. When politicians from both parties offer platitudes about America’s benevolent intentions as they argue about the most appropriate strategies for running the world, we should remember this trenchant comment after World War I from W.E.B. DuBois: “It is curious to see America, the United States, looking on herself, first, as a sort of natural peacemaker, then as a moral protagonist in this terrible time. No nation is less fitted for this role.”

This analysis doesn’t mean voters can’t judge one particular empire-building politician more dangerous than another. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sometimes make strategic choices to vote for one over the other. It simply means we should make such choices with eyes open and no illusions.

Here, I borrow phrases from Pelosi’s condemnation of Bush: “When are people going to face reality? Pull the curtain back.”

Indeed, Rep. Pelosi, pull the curtain back. You will see naked emperors, Republican and Democratic. You will see the cowardly legislators who chose to step aside before the war, when spirited opposition in Congress might have helped derail the disaster that is playing out in Iraq.

Pull the curtain back, and step in front of the mirror.

Bush’s Feet: Holy?

Our old friend Seattle points us to yet another gem, Jimmy Breslin’s column published today. Get a load of this:

For days now, the job at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County has been to follow the order from the White House through the Secret Service and down to the park workers:“The president’s feet are not to touch the dirt.”

So all yesterday, large crews drawn from all county parks worked to ensure that, as always in his life, George Bush’s feet do not touch the ground when he appears in the big park today.

Bush arrives for a fund-raiser at a restaurant in the park. That is indoors and he doesn’t have to worry about his feet there. But he has to go over ground to an administration building where he is to meet with families of 9/11 victims. After that, he has to go over more ground to get to the site of a memorial to the victims.

He doesn’t want his feet on the ground and he will be at a groundbreaking ceremony. (emphasis added)

His Holy of Holiesness has found a new way to boost employment and at the expense of somebody else’s budget–have some workers build walkways so his feet never have to touch the ground.

Is this a symbol of how far Junior is out of touch or is it not? Glorioski, Sandy, heaven forfend the tootsies of Our Glorious Leader should ever be forced to make contact with the actual Earth he’s so determined to see exploited. His True Place is in the Clouds far from the rabble madding crowd below, not ruining his new shine with the common dirt in which us low-life vermin live.

They put up a concrete sidewalk from the parking lot to a ramp leading into a side entrance to the building.The rain and sleet made it impossible for the concrete to dry. So they changed from concrete to the asphalt used on streets. They hoped the president wouldn’t mind this. After all, it would protect his feet from touching the earth. Gravel and hot steaming asphalt.

When they finally had it done, a full-fledged asphalt path, a Secret Service agent put his foot through the steam and left a large footprint in the walk that was to keep the president’s feet off the ground.

The Secret Service man walked on blithely. He gave no indication that he knew where he was. The workmen muttered and had to go back and fix the walk.

It was the least they could do. The mind reels….,

The Emperor Alienates…Everybody

The arrogant imperialist Bush Administration has so far managed to piss off:

*The Democratic members of Congress, naturally, who have been treated by the Publican leadership as if they were either escaped criminals, mentally deficient, or children who should be seen and not heard;

*Rank-and-file Democrats, of course, who are lined up ten-deep in the Dump Bush line after 3 solid years of broken promises, Orwellian policies (Healthy Forests, No Child Left Behind, Support Our Troops, etc etc etc), Bushian logic (if things are getting worse, that means they’re getting better), and the most obvious and wide-spread crony-capitalism since Warren Harding;

*The US Intelligence Community, which BushCo has made the scapegoat for 1) their own failure to defend the US from threatened terrorist attacks that the CIA, Mossad, MI6, Interpol, and the out-going Clinton NSC all repeatedly warned them were coming and which finally took place without any interference from BushCo on 9/11, 2) their refusal to listen when CIA analysts insisted that the UN inspectors were right and there was no evidence of WMD’s in Iraq before the war, and 3) their insistence on crediting master con-artist Ahmad Chalabi’s fairy tales about a country he hadn’t seen in more than 40 years despite the IC’s evidence that he was lying and hugely misrepresenting both his own influence in Iraq and that of the INC;

*Some of their own pet Congressional Republicans, angry over stonewalling, lies under oath, and treatment similar to what they hand the Democrats if they dare to question the WH’s revised version of history;

*Sizeable segments of the military after: lying to them about Iraq; cutting their benefits, cutting their pay, cutting their school allowance, cutting their health care, cutting their housing allowance, cutting their death benefits, making them pay their own way home when they finally get leave from Iraq, and even refusing to pay soldiers tortured during the First Gulf War their legally mandated compensation (Scott McClelland’s answer in today’s Press Briefing seemed to amount to “No amount of money can compensate them for what they went through, so that’s what we’ll give them–no amount.” [see Tom Tommorrow for the link and an excerpt]);

*The whole rest of the world for so many reasons it’s impossible even to list them all, from the wholesale pull-out of the Bush Admin from virtually every international treaty in which we were involved (including the International Treaty on Children’s Rights, for god’s-sake) to its screw-you-we-can-do-what-we-want-we-don’t-need-you attitude before the Second Gulf War.

According to the NY Times, we may be able to round out this list by adding the Supreme Court:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 — Setting the stage for a historic clash between presidential and judicial authority in a time of military conflict, the Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether prisoners at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are entitled to access to civilian courts to challenge their open-ended detention.

Why would the heretofore Bush-friendly SCOTUS suddenly be willing to entertain a question they’ve been ducking for 2 years? Methinks it might have something to do with this argument from Solicitor General Ted Olsen, the man who convinced them to break all their own precedents to put George on the throne in the first place:

The brief filed for the Britons and Australians by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a liberal public interest law firm in New York, told the court that “we alone exercise power at Guantánamo Bay” and that the base should therefore be treated for jurisdictional purposes as part of the United States. In the administration’s view, not only is that conclusion incorrect but it is not one that the court is free to make. The determination of sovereignty over a particular territory is “not a question on which a court may second-guess the political branches,” Solicitor General Olson said in his brief. (emphasis added)

IOW, “Butt out, The Court’s got no right to tell us what to do.” Uh-huh. It’s at least possible that having the Admin lawyer center his argument around their irrelevancy ticked them off just a tad. As a result, the SCOTUS threw out the way Olsen framed the suit:

It was evident on Monday that this, too, was a question on which the justices want to have the final word. That conclusion emerged from a comparison of how the administration phrased the question presented by the two cases with how the justices phrased it in their order granting review. Solicitor General Olson said the question was whether the federal courts had jurisdiction to decide the legality of detaining “aliens captured abroad in connection with ongoing hostilities and held outside the sovereign territory of the United States at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.”The Supreme Court, by contrast, said it intended to decide the jurisdiction of the courts to hear challenges to “the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.” The court’s question incorporated no assumption about whether the base was or was not “outside the sovereign territory of the United States.”

So when Olsen argued it was none of their beeswax, they replied, “Wanna bet?”

Junior ought to be more careful who he’s blowing off; he might need the SCOTUS to ride to the rescue again if there’s another squeaker in 2004, and they might not be quite so eager to c his a as they were last time if he keeps telling them that what they think doesn’t matter.

What am I saying?

Forget what I said, G; never mind the future, you’ve got it sown up. A couple of hundred $$Million$$ more in the War Chest plus some low-interest financing from the Wall Street sector, and you’ll be able to buy the country and take it private. You don’t have to worry what 9 old fogies think. Fuck it–take ’em out, just like you did with Saddam.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Happy Veteran’s Day From BushCo:Thanks for putting your lives on the line for Bechtel and Halliburton even though:

**Your equipment is substandard and you had to buy a lot of it yourselves;
**We lied to you about the reason we sent you;
**We lied to you about the way you’d be received;
**We lied to you about the length of time you’d have to serve;
**We cut your pay;
**We cut your health benefits;
**We cut the amount we pay to the schools that educate your kids;
**We cut your combat pay;
**We cut your death benefit;
**We cut the VA budget–again;
**We made you pay your own way home when you finally got a long-overdue leave;
**And we even refused to pay legally-mandated compensation to those of you who were tortured by the evil Saddam in the First Gulf War.

We know we promised not to do any of those things, but, hey, some of our contributors needed that tax cut so they could buy those new yachts they’d been wanting, and the yachting industry really needed a shot in the arm after the neglect of the Clinton years. You understand. Yah gotta have priorities, right? Keep your eye on what’s important: we’re creating jobs! (in the boating industry)

The rest? Oh, that went to Halliburton in a no-bid contract. We can’t reneg on that like we did with you; we have a moral obligation to pay those overcharges, and the only way we can do it is by short-changing you.

You understand. In a time of war, everybody needs to make sacrifices (except us and Halliburton), and we surely do appreciate yours.

And btw, don’t expect to see any of us at any of your funerals1. It’s bad publicity, see? Makes it look like you’re dying over there. Which you are, but we don’t want it to look that way, get the picture? You understand.

Thanks again,


PS. You can afford to pay your own funeral expenses, can’t you? Thanks. We’ll cut that next.

PPS. Anybody who complains about any of this will be court-martialed. Have a nice day.

1. From Newsday‘s Jimmy Breslin (by way of Body and Soul):

The other Sunday, in high excitement, Sgt. Perez got on a helicopter that was going to start him home to his wife, Milagros, and 15-month-old daughter in time for the wedding anniversary, which was yesterday, the day they put him into the ground in Newark.He had not told his wife that he was coming home and the others in the family kept it secret. He got on that helicopter because he had a Bronze Star and Purple Heart from the fighting.

Now, yesterday, he was a name on a list of the dead. If I had not been typing out this list, I wouldn’t have known that Perez was the short ride away at Newark.

There is no public display over the death and all these others on the list accompanying this column. Bush and his people sent them out to get killed and now you can’t get one of them in Washington to mention these dead.

Your government would prefer that night falls and the dead are buried in darkness. We must keep them remote, names on a list, and concentrate on things like patriotism, exporting democracy and shipping freedom – all those big words that Joyce said make us so unhappy.

The list:

Here is your war so far this week:Staff Sgt. Paul J. Johnson, 29, of Calumet, Mich. Killed Oct. 20 in Fallujah, Iraq.

Spc. Paul J. Bueche, 19, 131st Aviation Regiment, Army National Guard, killed Oct. 21 when the tire he was changing on Black Hawk helicopter exploded. Home, Daphne, Ala.

Pvt. Jason M. Ward, 25, 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, lst Armored Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died in Baghdad on Oct. 22 of non-combat related injuries. Home, Tulsa, Okla.

Spc. John P. Johnson, 24, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, lst Armored Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died in Baghdad of non-combat related injuries on Oct. 22. Home, Houston.

Capt. John R. Teal, 31, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed on Oct. 24 when an improvised explosive device struck his convoy in Baghdad. Home, Mechanicsville, Va.

Spc. Jose L. Mora, 26, C Company, lst Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. Died of wounds received from an enemy mortar attack Oct. 24 in Samaria, Iraq. Home, Bell Gardens, Calif.

Sgt. Michael S. Hancock, 29, lst Battalion, 320 Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed on Oct. 24 when shot while on guard duty in Mosul, Iraq. Home, Yreka, Calif.

Spc. Artimus D. Brassfield, 22, B Company, lst Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died of wounds received from an enemy mortar attack on Oct. 24 in Samaria, Iraq. Home, Home, Flint, Mich.

Staff Sgt. Jamie L. Huggins, 26, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed on Oct. 26 on patrol when his vehicle was hit by improvised explosive device. Home, Hume, Mo.

Pvt. Joseph R. Guerrera, 20, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed when his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device while he was on Patrol on Oct. 26 in Baghdad. Home, Dunn, N.C.

Lt. Col. Charles H. Buehring, 40, Army Central Command Headquarters (Forward) Fort McPherson, Ga. Fatally injured during a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the El Rashid Hotel in Baghdad on Oct. 26. Home, Fayetteville, N.C.

Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld, 19, 537th Military Police Company, V Corps, Giesen, Germany. Killed Oct. 26 during mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib Police Station. Home, Waupun, Wis.

Pfc. Steve Acosta, 19, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on Oct. 26 from a non-combat gunshot wound. Home, Calexico, Calif.

Pvt. Jonathon L. Falaniko, 20, A Company, 70th Engineer Battalion, lst Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed on Oct. 27 while on duty near the police station in downtown Baghdad when a vehicle containing an improvised explosive device detonated. Home, Pago-Pago, American Samoa.

Sgt. Aubrey D. Bell, 33, 214th Military Police Company, Alabama National Guard. Killed in Baghdad on Oct. 27, when an improvised explosive device detonated at his location at the Al Barra Police Station. Home, Tuskegee, Ala.

Spc. Isaac Campoy, 21, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed on Oct. 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his tank was hit with an improvised explosive device. Home, Douglas, Ariz.

Sgt. Algernon Adams, 36, 122nd Engineer Battalion, Army National Guard. Died on Oct. 28 of non-combat related injuries at Foreward Operating Base, St. Mere, Iraq. Home, Aiken, S.C.

2nd Lt. Todd J. Bryant, 23, lst Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, lst Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died on Oct. 31 when an improvised explosive device blew up while he was on patrol at Fallujah. Home, Riverside, Calif.

Spc. Maurice Johnson, 21, 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Fort Captvell, Ky. Killed in Mosul, Iraq, on Nov. 1 when when the high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device. Home, Levittown, Pa.

1st Lt. Joshua Hurley, 24, 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed when vehicle he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device. Home, Virgina.

2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, 30, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, lst Armored Division, Giessen, Germany. Killed when he was struck with an improvised explosive device while responding to a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Home, Kent, Wash.

The following were killed in the crash of the Chinook helicopter at Al Fallujah, Iraq, Nov. 2:

Sgt. Daniel M. Bader, 28, Air Defense Artillery Battery, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo. Home, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sgt. Ernest G. Bucklew, 33, Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo. Home, Enon Valley, Pa.

Spc. Steven D. Conover, 21, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Wilmington, Ohio.

Sgt. Anthony Dagostino, 20, 16th Signal Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Waterbury, Conn.

Spc. Darius T. Jennings, 22, of 16th Signal Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Cordova, S.C.

Pfc. Karina S. Lau, 20, of 16th Signal Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Livingston, Calif.

Sgt. Keelan L. Moss, 23, of 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Houston, Texas.

Spc. Brian H. Penisten, 28, Air Defense Artillery Battery, lst Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo. Home, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Sgt. Ross A. Pennanon, 36, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Oklahoma.

Sgt. Joel Perez, 25, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

lst Lt. Brian D. Slavenas, 30, F Company, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, Peoria, Ill. Home, Genoa, Ill.

Chief Warrant Officer Bruce A. Smith, 41, Detachment I, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, Davenport, Iowa. Home, West Liberty, Iowa.

Spc. Francis M. Vega, 20, 151st Adjustant General Postal Detachment, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.

Staff Sgt. Paul A. Velazquez, 29, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, III Corps Artillery, Fort Sill, Okla.

Staff Sgt. Joe N. Wilson, 30, of 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Mississippi.

Sgt. Paul F. Fisher, 39, Detachment I, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, Davenport, Iowa. Home, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Sgt. Francisco Martinez, 28, of B Detachment, 82nd Soldier Support Battalion (Airborne) Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed on Nov. 4 in convoy when improvised explosive device exploded. Home, Humacao, Puerto Rico.

Sgt. lst Class Jose A. Rivera, 34, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed on Nov. 5 while part of a patrol at Mumulktdyah, Iraq, that came under rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. Home, Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Spc. Robert T. Bensonm, 20, of Company A, lst Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, lst Armored Division, Smith Barracks, Germany. Died from a non-hostile gunshot wound. Home, Spokane, Wash.

The following were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by unknown enemy ordinance Nov. 7 in Tikrit, Iraq:

Chief Chief Warrant Officer (CW5) Sharon T. Swartworth, 43, (identified by Pentagon as “female”), regimental warrant officer for the Judge Advocate General Office, Headquarters Department of the Army, Pentagon. Home, Virginia.

Chief Warrant Officer (CW3) Kyran E. Kennedy, 43, of Boston, Mass.

Staff Sgt. Paul M. Neil II, 30, of S.C.

Sgt. Scott C. Rose, 30, Fayettville, N.C.

Kennedy, Neil and Rose were assigned to 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 10th Airborne Division, (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky.

Spc. James A. Chance III, 25, of C Company, 890th Engineer Battalion, Army National Guard, Columbia, Miss. Killed Nov. 6 when his vehicle struck a landmine in Husaybah, Iraq. Home, Kokomo, Miss.

Staff Sgt. Morgan D. Kennon, 23, of 3rd Batallion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed on Nov. 7 in Mosul, Iraq, while guarding a bank in downtown when he came under rocket propelled grenade attack. Home, Memphis, Tenn.

Staff Sgt. Mark D. Vasquez, 35, of lst Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, lst Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Killed on Nov. 8 in Fallujah, Iraq, when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Home, Port Huron, Mich.

Spc. James R. Wolfe, 21, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo. Killed on Nov. 6 in Mosul, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device was detonated in his convoy. Home, Scottsbluff, Neb.