Friday, November 9, 2007

The Jingoist's Growing Pains

"Thank You!!!"

Thank you for your support during the past several months.

I have worked hard to alert you to the attacks being perpetrated against our nation and our liberty by those entrusted to protect and preserve both. I have tried my level best to AWAKE a great nation. A "Sleeping Giant" lulled to sleep by decades of careful but methodical media propaganda and political manipulation.

And, apparently my hard work is paying off! The Jingoist family is experiencing rapid growth.

During the next few weeks, I will be away from "Eagle's Perch" updating The Jingoist to better serve you.

Please check back periodically to monitor my progress. I look forward to seeing each of you at the new and improved "The Jingoist."

Again, thank you all.


Mukasey confirmed as attorney general

by LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press - Nov 9, 2007

The Senate confirmed retired judge Michael Mukasey as attorney general Thursday night to replace Alberto Gonzales, who was forced from office in a scandal over his handling of the Justice Department.

President Bush thanked the Senate, even though the margin had been whittled down from nearly unanimous by a sharp debate over Mukasey's refusal to say whether the waterboarding interrogation technique is torture.

"He will be an outstanding attorney general," Bush said in a statement from his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Republicans were solidly behind Bush' nominee. Democrats said their votes were not so much for Mukasey as they were for restoring a leader to a Justice Department left adrift after Gonzales' resignation in September.

In the end, Mukasey was confirmed as the nation's 81st attorney general by a 53-40 vote. Six Democrats and one independent joined Republicans in sealing his confirmation.

The choice, according to one of those Democrats, was essentially between "whether to confirm Michael Mukasey as the next attorney general or whether to leave the Department of Justice without a real leader for the next 14 months," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

"This is the only chance we have," she said, referring to Bush's threat to appoint an acting attorney general not subject to Senate confirmation.

But members of her own party didn't agree. Mukasey, his opponents argued, refused to say whether waterboarding is torture and put the onus on Congress to pass a law against the practice.

"This is like saying when somebody murders somebody with a a baseball bat and you say, 'We had a law against murder but we never mentioned baseball bats,'" said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "Murder is murder. Torture is torture."

Being better than Gonzales or an acting attorney general is not enough qualification for the job, said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

"The next attorney general must restore confidence in the rule of law," he said. "We cannot afford to take the judgment of an attorney general who either does not know torture when he sees it or is willing to look the other way."

The confirmation vote capped 10 months of scandal and resignations at the Justice Department. Mukasey's chief Democratic patron, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., drove the probe into the purge of nine federal prosecutors that helped push Gonzales out.

The debate came after a tense day of negotiations that at one point featured Majority Leader Harry Reid threatening to postpone Mukasey's confirmation until December. His confirmation had long been certainty despite the debate over waterboarding.

Waterboarding, used by interrogators to make someone feel as if he is going to drown, is banned by domestic law and international treaties. But U.S. law applies to Pentagon personnel and not the CIA. The administration won't say whether it has allowed the agency's employees to use it against terror detainees.

"The United States will not be viewed kindly if we confirm as chief law enforcement officer of this country someone who is unwilling or unable to recognize torture when he sees it," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat.

Mukasey has called waterboarding personally "repugnant," and in a letter to senators said he did not know enough about how it has been used to define it as torture. He also said he thought it would be irresponsible to discuss it since doing so could make interrogators and other government officials vulnerable to lawsuits.

"He felt that he could not make that pronouncement without placing people at risk to be sued or perhaps even criminally prosecuted," said Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mukasey, who received a strong endorsement from Schumer, was the White House's first choice to replace Gonzales. Gonzales announced his resignation on Aug. 27, and the White House interviewed Mukasey the same day. Three weeks later, Bush introduced the 66-year-old Mukasey as "a tough but fair judge" and asked the Senate to confirm him quickly.

Mukasey, the former chief U.S. district judge in the Manhattan courthouse just blocks from ground zero, was first appointed to the bench in 1987 by President Reagan. He also worked for four years as a trial prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York's Southern District — one of the Justice Department's busiest and highest-profile offices in the country.

Mukasey oversaw some of the nation's most significant terror trials in the years before and after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He sentenced Omar Abdel Rahman, known as the "blind sheik," to life in prison for a plot to blow up New York City landmarks, and he signed in 2002 the material witness warrant that let the FBI arrest U.S. citizen Jose Padilla. That warrant marked the start of a case that wound its way through several federal courts as the government declared Padilla an enemy combatant and held him for 3 1/2 years before he was convicted last month on terrorism-related charges.

In an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal, Mukasey criticized U.S. national security law as too weak in some areas by noting that prosecutors are sometimes forced to reveal details of cases at the risk of tipping off terrorists. He is also a supporter of the government's anti-terror USA Patriot Act, wryly writing in 2004 that the "awkward name may very well be the worst thing about the statute."

Mukasey, a partner at New York-based law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, is also a close friend to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican. He stepped down as an adviser to Giuliani's presidential campaign, on which he served as part of an advisory committee on judicial nominations.

Besides Schumer and Feinstein, Democrats voting to confirm Mukasey were: Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper of Delaware, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Of the Senate's two independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut voted for confirmation and Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted against.

Not voting were Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Clinton of New York, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Barack Obama of Illinois. All four had said they opposed Mukasey's nomination.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona also was absent, as were GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Cornyn of Texas.

Bhutto under house detention in Pakistan

by ZARAR KHAN, Associated Press - Nov 9, 2007

Pakistani police backed by armored vehicles detained opposition leader Benazir Bhutto at her Islamabad residence Friday and reportedly rounded up 5,000 of her supporters to block a planned mass protest against emergency rule, officials said.

Authorities were adamant the rally Bhutto planned in nearby Rawalpindi would not go ahead — under the government's emergency powers President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared last weekend, mass gatherings are banned. Mayor Javed Akhlas also said there was a "credible report" of six or seven suicide bombers in the city.

"We condemn this government move. It shows that the government is scared of Benazir Bhutto's popularity and it does not want her to be among masses," said Sen. Babar Awan, Bhutto's lawyer.

There was confusion among her aides about whether she would attempt to go to the venue in Rawalpindi, which had been sealed off by riot police backed by armored vehicles. The headquarters of Pakistan's army Musharraf's residence are also located in the city.

Nazir Dhoki, a spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said the former prime minister still planned to leave on schedule for Rawalpindi, but Sen. Enver Baig said party leaders were meeting to discuss whether the rally would go ahead or not.

Pakistan's military leader showed no signs of letting up on his political foes despite his announcement Thursday, following pressure from the U.S. and other Western allies, that elections would go ahead by mid-February, a month later than originally planned.

Bhutto's party claimed Friday that authorities had arrested 5,000 of its supporters in the last three days across the eastern province of Punjab, where Rawalpindi is located.

"It is a massive crackdown on our party," said Raja Javed Ashraf, a lawmaker from the party.

The government offered no immediate public comment. But the security official said 1,000 Bhutto supporters had been detained.

Bhutto was not formally under house arrest, Information Minister Tariq Azim said. But "we will not allow any leader to carry out any rally," he told The Associated Press.

Azim said he didn't know what would happen if Bhutto tried to leave her house.

Musharraf has been under pressure to quickly hold elections and step down as the country's army chief since he suspended the constitution and took other emergency measures, saying they were needed to put an end to political instability and to fight Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants.

Thousands of lawyers and opposition parties activists have been rounded up countrywide, and police using batons and tear gas have squashed attempts by lawyers to protest on the streets.

President Bush, who counts the Pakistani leader as a key ally in the war on terror, telephoned Musharraf to urge him to restore democracy, and the White House was quick to hail Thursday's pledge to hold elections by mid-February.

Some Pakistani officials earlier said elections could be delayed by up to a year.

But Bhutto on Thursday dismissed the announcement and demanded Musharraf give up his second post as army chief within a week. She said Friday's protest would go ahead despite warnings it could be targeted by suicide bombers.

"We want an election date, we want a retirement date" for Musharraf to quit his powerful military post, Bhutto told reporters. "This is a vague statement. We want the uniform off by Nov. 15."

Bhutto had been in talks with Musharraf on a post-election political alliance. But she pulled back after the emergency was imposed, and her decision to join in anti-government protests was another blow for Musharraf, who has seen his popularity slide this year amid growing resentment of military rule and increasing violence by Islamic militants.

Critics argue that Musharraf — who seized power in a 1999 coup — declared the emergency and ousted independent-minded judges to maintain his own grip on power. The moves came days before the Supreme Court was expected to rule on whether his recent re-election as president was legal.

Musharraf, who appeared Thursday on state-run Pakistan TV dressed in a business suit rather than his army fatigues, said the polls "must be held before Feb. 15, 2008," even though the schedule would be tight.

Officials must coordinate both national and provincial ballots, which are to be held at the same time.

He reaffirmed he would be sworn in for a new five-year presidential term and resign as military chief once the Supreme Court — now purged of his sharpest critics — validates his re-election.

Musharraf could lift emergency measures soon after that happens, observers say.

Bhutto returned to the country from eight years in exile to contest the parliamentary polls. Her homecoming procession in Karachi was shattered by suicide bombers, leaving more than 145 people dead. She escaped injury. Islamic militants were widely blamed.

Rawalpindi, hit by a series of suicide attacks targeting the military, had hundreds of riot police on the streets Friday, moving through the city while other security personnel patrolled on motorcycles, horseback and in armored vehicles.

Streets normally jammed with people stood empty, shops were closed and the road leading from Islamabad to Rawalpindi had been blocked by two tractor trailers and a metal gate. Friday is also a public holiday in Pakistan.

"Since the government has not given permission for it due to security reasons, we will not allow any one to gather here for the rally," the city's police chief, Saud Aziz, told The Associated Press.

He added police had "made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order."

Apart from the Bhutto supporters, police were also on the lookout for potential suicide bombers, who Aziz warned Thursday were preparing another strike. He called the situation "very serious."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Israel attacks Press TV journalists

Press TV News - Nov 8, 2007

Israel's military has attacked Press TV journalists covering an incursion into Umm al-Nasser village in the northern Gaza Strip.

A Press TV correspondent at the scene said that eight journalists came under the fire of Israeli tanks and Apache helicopter gunships.

Israeli troops were also shooting at the journalists lying on the ground for cover, he added.

It is not the first time that Press TV correspondents are attacked.

In October, Fayez Khurshid, a Press TV correspondent in Afghanistan, was kidnapped and tortured by US forces in the country.

What's the fuss about?

What Mearsheimer and Walt say about the need to treat Israel as a normal state is common currency in most of Europe.

by Jonathan Steele - Nov 8, 2007

What on earth is the fuss about? Two mild-mannered academics, talking calmly and reasonably about a vital issue of foreign policy, marshalling facts, rebutting critics with detailed argument, making a powerful case for change - isn't that what analysis and debate are meant to be about?
As you listen to them doing the rounds of London's various think-tanks promoting their book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, you cannot help wondering why John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have to suffer such hostility in the United States.

Is it just that the Atlantic is wider than we often remember? That the culture of elite debate is so much more self-limiting in the United States than Europe? That the mainstream political spectrum is depressingly narrow? What M&W say about the need to treat Israel as a normal state, to stop giving its policymakers a blank cheque, and to dare to criticise them publicly when you disagree is common currency in most of Europe. Why, then, is it so controversial in America?

Their book poses the question but also supplies the answer. How many other books of 355 pages have an extra 106 pages of footnotes, just to make sure they are not tripped up on some minor inaccuracy? Especially as the major attacks on their book have hardly been based on scholarship. On the contrary, the critics prefer to deal in prejudice and falsehood, or - the weakest claim of all - the complaint that by raising uncomfortable questions the authors give ammunition to anti-semites. Asking people to censor themselves is of course the most dishonest form of censorship.

M&W were first published in Britain by the London Review of Books, because they found no enthusiasm for their views in the United States. Yet when they put their essay up on a Harvard website, they got more than 275,000 downloads.

Now expanded into a book, their contribution obviously goes further than the original, in part by offering positive prescriptions on how US Middle East policy should change and how the Israel lobby's power could be made more constructive.

They also explain in more detail how the lobby's hardliners deliberately constrict debate within Jewish institutions within the United States, like the American Jewish Committee and the Zionist Organisation of America. "More sensible voices in the Jewish community will have to discard the taboo against public criticism of Israel," they write.

Three cheers for that. The cure begins at home. America's Jewish community is as multifaceted and pluralistic as any other group of hyphenated Americans, but until free speech and open debate over Israel prosper and develop within it, the hardliners will continue to hold the whip hand.

Blackberry Apocalypse

by Nicholas Guyatt - Nov 8, 2007

Only a year ago, American evangelical Christians seemed more powerful than they had ever been. They had helped to re-elect George W. Bush in 2004, in spite of a rickety economy and the disastrous invasion of Iraq. They had waged a successful campaign in Washington to restrict access to late-term abortion. They had launched a series of ballot initiatives intended to prevent states or judges legalising gay marriage. And they had encouraged the Bush administration to appoint sympathetic justices to the Supreme Court. (In 2005, they secured their long-standing goal of a conservative majority on the court.) As the mid-term elections approached, worried liberals were warning that an American theocracy was just around the corner.

Then things started to unravel. When Americans went to the polls last November, both branches of Congress fell to the Democrats and the Republicans lost control of the House for the first time since Newt Gingrich’s triumph in 1994. Some of the religious right’s most loyal allies were vanquished. Tom DeLay, the former bug exterminator from Texas who had been a steadfast friend to evangelicals during his time as House majority leader, was dethroned in a corruption scandal before the election. The voters of Pennsylvania rejected Rick Santorum, perhaps the strongest voice for the evangelical agenda in the Senate, who had opposed gay marriage with unusual fervour. (In 2003, he told Associated Press that marriage should legitimate neither gay unions nor ‘man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be’.)

Meanwhile, one of the most powerful evangelical leaders in America, Reverend Ted Haggard of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, was caught up in a sex scandal. Haggard was a trusted adviser to the president on social issues and had drawn plenty of attention from skittish liberal journalists. Days before the November elections, a male prostitute from Denver told the press that Pastor Ted (who is married with five children) had paid him for sex on numerous occasions during the previous three years. Haggard had spiced up their encounters by taking crystal meth, his accuser claimed. To the amazement of evangelicals, Haggard admitted that he was a ‘deceiver’ guilty of ‘sexual immorality’. (He also admitted that he’d bought the drugs, though not that he’d used them.) He was fired from New Life and retreated for a period of spiritual contemplation, claiming that he was ‘completely heterosexual’.

Things got worse. In May this year, Jerry Falwell, arguably the most influential evangelical of the last three decades, died suddenly of a heart attack in his office at Liberty University in Virginia. Falwell had founded Liberty in 1971 as a private religious college and it played an important role in nurturing Christian causes, from the pro-life movement to Bible prophecy. It was the more embarrassing, then, that a Liberty student was arrested at Falwell’s funeral with homemade bombs in his car. He told police he’d brought them just in case liberal protesters threatened the cortège.

Now, with Congress in the hands of the Democrats and the party’s leading presidential candidates raising record-breaking sums of money, Christian conservatives find themselves in an unenviable position. They don’t have a strong candidate for 2008 and aren’t keen on any of the Republican frontrunners. Rudy Giuliani was the mayor of New York City, Sodom to Las Vegas’s Gomorrah, and his Manichean view of the war on terror can’t make up for his pro-choice position or his other bracingly liberal views. (Giuliani camped out at a gay couple’s flat after he left his second wife and children in 2000, and he has made several public appearances in drag.) John McCain has shown himself to be unreliable on terror with his liberal-sounding objections to torture at Guantánamo and is too friendly to illegal immigrants. With Mitt Romney, it’s hard to know which is the more off-putting: that he served as governor of hippie Massachusetts or that he is a Mormon. Mike Huckabee, who was a Southern Baptist minister before he became governor of Arkansas, has cluttered his anti-abortion platform with liberal ideas about fighting poverty, protecting the environment and limiting the pay of corporate executives. Even the dark horse of the race, senator-turned-actor-turned-candidate Fred Thompson, has a liberal skeleton in his closet: his lobbying firm did work for pro-choice groups during the Clinton years. In 2000 and 2004, the religious right could rally behind a candidate who said, with apparent sincerity, that Jesus Christ had ‘changed my heart’. This time, the leading Republican candidates sound unconvincing when they court Christian conservatives – if they try to court them at all.

This gloomy picture of political decline will come as a surprise to those who have read any of the recent books attacking the religious right. At least half a dozen of these have appeared from major publishers in the last year: the list includes polemics by the likes of Kevin Phillips as well as alarmed reporting by American journalists like Salon’s Michelle Goldberg and Chris Hedges, who reported on Bosnia and the Middle East for the New York Times in the 1990s. Hedges’s thesis is simple: religious conservatives in the United States are incubating a form of fascism that could eventually destroy America’s political and intellectual traditions, exposing the nation and the world to a terrifying form of theocracy. He’s not the first to indulge in reductio ad Hitlerum as he bears witness to what’s going on in the megachurches: viewers of Richard Dawkins’s documentary The Root of All Evil? might remember his opening salvo against a pre-scandal Ted Haggard, in which Dawkins said that a New Life Church service reminded him of the Nuremberg rallies. (Haggard eventually chased Dawkins out of the church parking lot.) Hedges has a more sophisticated way of dealing with religious Nazis; he reprints a brief essay by Umberto Eco on ‘Eternal Fascism’ and, like other critics of the religious right, seizes on Sinclair Lewis’s line from the years of the Great Depression: ‘When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.’

According to Hedges, an evangelical movement in the United States is trying to establish a government based on scripture rather than the constitution. This movement, he argues, is not interested in dialogue or rational thought. It will distort, suppress or otherwise crush the opinions of its opponents. ‘It is not mollified because John Kerry prays,’ Hedges notes, ‘or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school.’ By the end of the book, Hedges is pleading with liberal readers to give up ‘naive attempts to reach out to the movement’. This is a call to arms: it’s time for liberals to meet intolerance with intolerance. After all, ‘this movement is bent on our destruction.’

The postwar revival of the religious right is one of the strangest stories in recent American history. In 1925, religious conservatives in Tennessee challenged the rising tide of secularism by enforcing state laws against the teaching of evolution in schools. The resulting trial of the pro-Darwin teacher John Scopes pitted the attorney Clarence Darrow against William Jennings Bryan, the ex-Populist and fervent evangelical. Bryan, who had been secretary of state in Woodrow Wilson’s first administration, was persuaded to take the stand as a witness for the truth of the Bible; Darrow delighted his captive audience of big-city reporters and East Coast intellectuals by making a mockery of Bryan’s heedless scriptural literalism. No matter that Scopes was convicted (though the verdict was overturned on appeal). Religious conservatives were laughed out of the cultural and political mainstream and the elder statesmen of the modern Christian conservative movement can still remember the advice of their mentors in the 1940s and 1950s: stay out of the dirty business of politics.

This attitude began to change in the 1960s, with a Republican uprising against the Democratic Party and the liberal intelligentsia. The rebellion broke out in the Sunbelt states of the Southwest and found expression in tough-minded Cold Warriors like Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon. With his strongly libertarian streak, Goldwater turned out to be a poor fit for the religious sensibility of the new movement and in the 1980s he delivered from the floor of the Senate some of the most vitriolic rhetoric ever uttered by a US politician against the religious right, even though its adherents had been central to the Sunbelt conservatism he pioneered. Nixon was readier to appease them, but the first presidential hero of the religious right was Ronald Reagan.

Ironically, it was the liberal thinking of Reagan’s predecessor, Jimmy Carter, that catalysed Christian conservatism on the national scene. Carter, a born-again Baptist from Georgia, had been maddeningly unreliable on social issues after taking office in 1977. He didn’t seem exercised by the Supreme Court’s pro-choice decision in Roe v. Wade, he put pressure on Israel to return land to Egypt and he was insufficiently bullish towards America’s godless Communist enemies. He even chose a humanist, Walter Mondale, as his vice-president. In the early 1970s, Christian leaders had started building the alternative networks of communication and scholarship that still define the evangelical movement: this was the moment when Christian television channels began to proliferate and ‘research institutes’ were established to promote creationism. But it was during Carter’s unhappy term in the White House that Jerry Falwell and others built the national political organisations that were to become the vehicles of the religious right. When Reagan was elected in November 1980, the long exile of evangelicals from Washington had come to an end.

It would be a mistake to imagine that the religious right has controlled American politics for the past quarter-century. Despite the present spate of books decrying a fundamentalist takeover of the Republican Party, there has been plenty for evangelicals to complain about even since the triumphs of Bush and Karl Rove. As Thomas Frank argued in 2004 in his book What’s the Matter with Kansas?, the striking thing about the Republican alliance with evangelicals has been the thinness of their legislative achievements: abortion is still legal, campaigners for gay rights have made real strides and the wall between church and state remains largely intact in American classrooms. Frank suggested that legislators had pulled off a confidence trick in their courting of evangelicals. The people who became Republican senators and congressional representatives in the 1980s and 1990s didn’t want to live in an America pockmarked by backstreet abortions or hate crimes: they talked the talk at election time but did very little in office to suggest they’d implement an evangelical agenda even if Republicans seized all three branches of government (which they did in 2005).

How to make sense of the contradiction between Frank’s analysis and the desperate alarm sounded by Hedges? In defence of Hedges, the grassroots efforts of Christian conservatives since 2004 have tested the idea that the separation of church and state is an unassailable principle in America. Those ballot initiatives attacking gay marriage were an unusually public sign of a more assertive Christian agenda; a good deal of work has been going on behind the scenes to advance the concerns of evangelicals and even to change the composition of the federal government so that conservative Christians are less reliant on the whims of elected officials. For example, the Justice Department has been quietly overhauled by evangelical appointees, to the point that civil rights laws are now regularly invoked to protect religious groups (Christian evangelicals, in the main) rather than racial minorities. The most troubling example, however, is the securing of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court with the appointment of Samuel Alito in 2005. The new court has already issued opinions on late-term abortion, affirmative action and campaign funding which have cheered religious conservatives, though whether the court will feel bold enough to overturn Roe v. Wade is another matter.

Still, I’m not sure that Hedges is right in his extreme assessment of the threat from religious conservatives or his hardline prescription for how liberals should counter it. For all their organising skills, squabbles and faultlines divide the would-be theocrats. Last year, as research for a book about Christians in the US, I spent a month talking to evangelicals who believe that the End Times are imminent. On my travels through the Bible Belt, I saw the San Antonio televangelist John Hagee accuse tens of millions of evangelicals of being ‘counterfeit Christians’, since they support preachers who sound ‘more like Dr Phil or Sigmund Freud than St Paul’. Tim LaHaye, doyen of the modern prophecy movement, told me that he took ‘vicious exception’ to Hagee’s suggestion that it might be easier for Jews to be saved by God than for other potential believers to win salvation. I heard Jerry Falwell attack a San Antonio rabbi for suggesting to the Jerusalem Post that Falwell went along with this line of thinking (the public denial was prompted by the Post’s screaming headline: ‘Falwell: Jews Can Get into Heaven’). And I heard just about everyone in the evangelical community attack Joel Osteen, pastor of America’s largest megachurch, for being too timid about his commitment to Christ in an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live. Osteen has written a string of national bestsellers and his congregation in Houston has become so large that he’s converted the local NBA basketball arena into a church with 17,000 seats.

Beyond the personal rivalries and posturing of evangelical celebrities, there are deep divisions within the religious right, as there are among conservatives more generally, over political issues such as climate change and immigration. Pat Robertson, who is probably the country’s best-known evangelical now that Falwell has died, declared himself a ‘convert’ on the issue of global warming last summer, insisting that ‘we really need to address the burning of fossil fuels.’ Even on immigration, an issue that traditionally unites conservatives, the religious right has struggled to adopt a single position. Richard Land, the powerful Southern Baptist leader, joined with Ted Kennedy in March to promote reforms that would enable illegal immigrants to gain legal resident status; Joel Osteen and others offered their support. Savvy evangelicals have struggled with this issue because they recognise two competing conservative constituencies: the core of white Protestant evangelicals who have traditionally been hostile towards immigration, especially from Mexico and other Catholic nations in Latin America; and the tens of millions of Latino Catholics – citizens, legal residents and illegal aliens – who might be willing to ally with Protestant conservatives on some social issues, notably abortion.

The eagerness of some of today’s evangelicals to court Catholic immigrants would have horrified the religious conservatives of 19th-century America. As European immigration in the 1830s and 1840s brought millions of Catholics to the United States, mainstream Protestants joined Methodists and Baptists in complaining about lax border restrictions and permissive naturalisation laws. ‘Catholic Europe is throwing swarm on swarm upon our shores,’ the Presbyterian Lyman Beecher warned in an 1835 tract. Comparing the ‘tremendous tide’ to the ‘locusts of Egypt’, Beecher detected a conspiracy by the pope and the Catholic powers of Europe to bring down the American republic through a demographic revolution.

Only in recent decades has the religious right been able to overcome its aversion to the Catholic Church and the future of this new alliance will determine whether the nightmare scenario Hedges paints is realised. As the religious right has outlined its social programme, it has become increasingly dependent on Catholics to do the political and intellectual heavy-lifting. Until he dropped out of the 2008 presidential race last month, the most serious candidate for evangelicals was Sam Brownback of Kansas, a senator who left the Topeka Bible Church in 2002 and converted to Catholicism. On the Supreme Court, the five conservative justices are all Catholics.

The dependence of American Protestants on their oldest enemy suggests the intellectual fragility of the evangelical cause. Will Clarence Thomas or John Roberts allow the United States to become a theocracy? It’s possible, but very unlikely. Instead of worrying about such things, it would be more prudent to confront the immediate dangers to abortion provision and affirmative action presented by the new alignments of religious conservatism in America. Liberals might also look out for areas in which Catholic intellectuals and Protestant moderates are unwilling to march in lockstep with evangelical extremists. For example, along with a raft of conservative decisions, the Supreme Court also produced opinions that were attentive to the threat of climate change. Brownback may have let out a cheer from his desk when the Senate passed legislation outlawing ‘partial-birth’ abortion, but he has taken a liberal position on the immigration debate and has teamed up with Barack Obama and George Clooney to raise awareness of the violence in Darfur.

According to Hedges, we may be only one cataclysmic event away from a total reordering of American politics and a takeover by the theocrats. Many of the Christian conservatives I spoke to last year fully expect another 9/11, but their gloomy view of the future has more to do with Ezekiel than the Fox News Channel. According to recent polls, tens of millions of Americans believe that the apocalypse will take place in their lifetime. Prominent evangelicals have suggested that the End Times might have already begun with 9/11 and that in the short period before the return of Christ and the beginning of the millennium, there will be neither a pax Americana abroad nor a theocracy at home. Instead, true Christians around the world – and especially in the heartland – will be teleported to heaven and spared what follows. European nations will soldier on after the Rapture, since only a few of their citizens will disappear. But the United States will be devastated by the loss of so many good people and the most powerful nation on earth will fall by the wayside. The Antichrist will emerge and bring peace to the Middle East. He will unite the economies and governments of the world, including the former United States, and institute a new religion in which everyone worships him. For the seven years that follow – the Tribulation – those left behind after the Rapture will endure terrible torments if they defy their ungodly leader. Then Jesus Christ will return, the Antichrist will be routed, and the millennium will begin.

This scenario provides one of the most powerful ways for millions of American evangelicals to think about what lies ahead in world politics. (Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series, a sequence of 16 apocalyptic novels which imagines the realisation of Bible prophecy in today’s headlines, has sold more than sixty million copies since 1995.) Not everyone has been seduced by the notion of the End Times; the so-called Dominionists, the bogeymen in Hedges’s book, are especially withering about apocalyptic Christians. Dominionists make up only a fraction of the evangelical movement but are the strongest proponents of theocracy. In their view, prophecy preachers encourage Christians to abdicate the project of fashioning a Christian society. Dominionists would very much like to see Deuteronomy as the law of the land, but they struggle to convince fellow evangelicals, who are waiting for the rise of the Antichrist rather than an American Moses.

The religious right should not be treated as a monolith; nor should it be assumed that its adherents are interested in the same political outcomes. It may be that the liberal obsession with theocracy rather than apocalypse has distracted attention from some of the threats posed by Bible prophecy enthusiasts, especially in the field of US foreign policy. While prophecy believers have tended to retreat from the political arena, or limit themselves to producing speculative treatises that map contemporary events onto Micah or Revelation, today’s apocalyptic authors and televangelists are much more engaged with the debates and personalities in Washington.

The veteran preacher Hal Lindsey tells his television audience to support Israel unconditionally, secures exclusive interviews with neocon favourite Benjamin Netanyahu and urges the US government to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran. John Hagee has created a huge lobbying organisation to take the support-Israel/ bomb-Iran message directly to Congress and has told his followers that a US strike on Tehran may initiate the sequence of apocalyptic events related in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Joel Rosenberg, who used to work as a political consultant to Steve Forbes and Netanyahu, now tours the studios of CNN and Fox imploring Americans to take note of the danger from Iran and Russia (Ezekiel provides him with his intelligence about the threats). You can watch Hal Lindsey on America’s leading Christian TV networks. John Hagee’s recent book urging the US to attack Iran sold more than 700,000 copies in a few months. And Joel Rosenberg will send the latest Bible prophecy news to your Blackberry.

American Fascists, like many recent attacks on the religious right, assumes a unity of purpose and a level of organisation among evangelicals that just don’t exist. This still leaves the question of how to engage with biblical literalists and prophecy believers, especially when they lobby for more conservative legislation or insist that the White House reconciles its Middle East strategy with the Book of Daniel. In the past few months, Christopher Hitchens has been shouting at many of these people on conservative talk shows. Keith Allen, who travelled to Kansas earlier this year to make a Channel 4 programme about the founders of the ‘God Hates Fags’ website, ended up screaming ‘Fool!’ at his host. Hedges tells us that ‘debate is useless’ and warns that ‘tolerance coupled with passivity is a vice.’ It seems unlikely that any of this will encourage evangelicals to become more moderate. For the prophecy enthusiasts in particular, liberal invective merely fuels their belief that the great deceiver is on his way. A more productive strategy would be to note the faultlines among religious conservatives, to point out the inconsistencies (often scriptural) that confound even the most scrupulous literalist and to look for common ground with the majority of evangelicals.

Although it has hardly been a progressive force in American history, patriotism may yet be the lingua franca that enables liberals and religious conservatives to keep talking to each other. On my travels last year, I found little enthusiasm for a theocracy among conservative Christians. Although I invited evangelicals to disparage the separation of church and state, very few obliged. (One of my interviewees told me that Mitt Romney’s candidacy demonstrated why the United States benefited from a ‘secular government’.) Instead, America itself is an object of veneration and evangelicals still admire the constitution, the Founding Fathers, the legacy of popular presidents like Lincoln and Reagan and the achievements of Americans during the wars against Nazism and Communism. Tapping into this form of political religion comes with its own risks for liberals, not least since it encourages a blindness to the darker moments in American history. But I’m less convinced than Chris Hedges that patriotism and theocracy are natural bedfellows. It would take a good deal of home-schooling and curriculum revision – or a very large bomb – to upset the currents of American mythology, which lead away from a frigid theocracy and towards a soupy consensus of inclusion and liberty.

Super-patriotism’s Intercourse With the Secret Sect of Power

by Gaither Stewart - Nov 8, 2007

“Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.” - Oscar Wilde

The menace posed to society by distorted paranoid patriotism manifests itself in mysterious ways. One of the most insidious characteristics of the super-patriot is the support he lends to the sect of Power. In our times he melds intimately with Power, and is its vanguard. He joins in with its secret societies circulating invisibly in the community, and secretly influencing ordinary people who don’t suspect that the sects of Power and its enlisted agents are forever observing them and stalking them and evaluating them in order to determine if they measure up to the requirements of acceptable patriotism. But for Power the super-patriot is no more than a pawn.

Ordinary things, on ordinary days. Your exultant “patriotic” neighbor hangs out bigger and bigger Stars and Stripes. Your four-year old son practices the Pledge of Allegiance for his kindergarten debut. On your way to work, every second car sports a “good ole USA” bumper sticker. Oh well, you think at first, just a few eccentrics. Then you meet the hecklers and the ugly faces surrounding the peace marchers and their shouts of “traitors” and “terrorists” and “Al Qaeda lovers” and their patriotic “defend our boys in Iraq.” And you see they are everywhere.

You might feel guilty. At least you feel different.

Then, overnight it seems, the new laws of the land to back up the charges are in place. Soon arrive the denunciations, the house searches, the eavesdropping, the controlled e-mails and cellphones, the No Fly lists, the 750,000 persons on the suspects lists, the arrests for abusing the flag or for loitering outside the White House or for carrying an anti-war placard.

And then come the reports of legalized torture and the desaparecidos of America.

And the tension spirals upwards.

Patriotism and Patriotism

The USA Patriot Act passed just 45 days after 9/11 suggests the necessity of taking a hard look at just what patriotism really is. Or at what people believe it is. Most certainly the name “Patriot Act” did not arrive arbitrarily, out of the air, out of nothing. In effect, the Patriot Act appears anti-patriotic, in line with the official new-speak.

It should be known that in reality the Patriot Act threatens fundamental freedoms at home and abroad. It gives the US federal government, actually the executive, the power to access your private life, to gather information about your friends and what books you read, to secretly search your home and to make arbitrary arrests. Abroad, it conducts and sanctions arbitrary and criminal activities, the black night flights of mysterious aircraft of the CIA and other agencies in the kidnapping, secret jailing in foreign lands and torturing of suspected “terrorists.”

Such powers are the essence of Fascism.

In its first sense, the word Patriotism—from the Latin patria for “fatherland”—suggests the citizen’s love for and loyalty to his country. With varying degrees of intensity, most Americans consider themselves patriotic citizens. Patriotism has always been defined as love for one's country and marked by readiness to defend its perceived interests.

In France during the revolutionary era of 1789, patriots were the followers of “new ideas” in opposition to the aristocrats. The word then was synonymous with revolutionary. During upheavals in the Italian unification period of the 19th century the word patriot was applied to those who fought to overthrow foreign domination.

In pre-revolutionary America a patriot was defined by colonial power as ‘a factious disturber of the government’ and ‘patriotism the last refuge of the scoundrel.’ Whether an act or an attitude is patriotic or seditious depends on the point of view.

Again today, reservations about the inherent virtue of patriotism are a theme of commentary. The Left’s mistrust of patriotism prompts the bitter accusation by disgruntled jingoists that ‘Patriotism has become a dirty word’. Likewise in the American Revolutionary War patriots were revolutionaries against the British crown.

America itself was born out of the dissent of patriots.

Since the Revolutionary War however the word Patriotism has taken on narrow political implications and has been co-opted by rightwing causes and shied away from by the leftwing. Today, as a result of neocon fascistic-imperialistic ideology combined with its 9/11, the label Patriot in its partisan sense has shifted even farther to the right. Super-patriotism is now identified exclusively with the Right, and the competition as to who is the most patriotic American is intense.

The degeneration of the meaning and the essence of the word patriotism is doubtless one of the major social changes in America of the last seven years. In contemporary America, in a land where the flag is used as a weapon and the hate for everything not American is common, patriotism has finally morphed into vicious jingoism.

Just as yesterday in Nazi Germany, today’s co-opted patriotism does its part to keep Fascists in power in America and simultaneously muzzles potential opposition.

It has become obvious that the ability to capture and apply the word Patriot has come to determine political power. The patriotism label remains an important criterion of what Power considers the “good” and the “positive” in today’s American public life.

In recent times I have heard and read the Nazi-Fascist charge against the US government often but at this moment I don’t recall official denials. They don’t care. The support of the less than 30% share of the people—the super-patriotic component—suffices nicely to stay in power.

As Oscar Wilde warned, American patriotism today is a vicious affair, and moreover a danger to the world at large.

Meanwhile, paramilitary militia movements across the USA have also appropriated the word. They are not only filled with hate for everything foreign and/or intellectual—making them partial allies of Power—but equate Patriot with the firm conviction of white American supremacy. Paradoxically, sometimes in parts of the heartland it even reflects hatred for the federal government—not for what it does, of course, but for what it does not do.

Patriotism and Nationalism Patriotism includes pride in the fatherland’s achievements and culture, the desire to preserve its character, its values and the bases of its culture. It also implies identification with other members of the nation. Patriotism requires that the individual place the interests of the nation above both his personal and group interests. In wartime the sacrifice extends to the patriot’s own life. Death in battle for the fatherland is the archetype extreme patriotism.

In day to day life patriotism is expressed by those symbolic acts we know so well, such as displaying the flag, singing the national anthem on every possible occasion, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, participating in mass rallies, putting a patriotic bumper sticker on your car, or any other public proclamation of allegiance to the state.

Thus patriotism is associated with nationalism and often used as a synonym for it. In fact, patriotism in the USA has many faces, ranging from Americanism, to super-patriotism and ultra-nationalism, to chauvinism and jingoism.

Patriotism has the advantage that it does not require a program of action; it alone suffices to stimulate nationalism, even if it itself is not always truly nationalistic. Strictly speaking, nationalism is an ideology that promotes patriotic attitudes as desirable and appropriate.

Patriotism too has salient ethical connotations: it implies that the fatherland is a moral standard or a moral value in itself. The expression my country right or wrong is the extreme form of this belief.

In this sense, patriotism remains forever a borderline affair, love for the homeland on one side, belief in its supremacy on the other. It is untrustworthy. Patriotism was, is and always will be not many steps behind jingoism. Sometimes it is even the respectable face of jingoism. One recalls that as a patriotic expression, nationalist political movements like Nazism and Fascism were viscerally negative toward other people's fatherlands just as the US government today is negative toward the world at large. No one knows the extent of official US antagonisms being cultivated and hatched in the dark cellars of Power.

Symbolic patriotism in wartime is intended to raise morale, in turn contributing to the war effort. This is the case in the USA today. The permanent war of the USA for over half a century is jingoism’s perfect creator and container. But then, afterwards, in peacetime, the super-patriot would be expected to continue his manifestations more or less by rote, criticizing and punishing those who don’t, and diligently searching for new exterior enemies to whom their colors can be shown tomorrow.

Iraq yesterday, Iran today.

Some demands made on patriotism are tactical, as in war, transitory and circumstantial. But that is not all. Not by a long shot. Patriots are encouraged to keep a sharp eye for expressions of non-patriotism and to label it un-American. This is where patriotism gets nasty. This again is fascistic. Denunciations by patriots were the basis of the system of control used by the Nazi Gestapo and in the post-war by one of history’s most invasive secret police organizations, the STASI of former East Germany, both of which must have served as models for Homeland Security.

Patriotism and Morality

In ethics the basic implication of patriotism is that a person has greater moral duties to fellow patriots than to foreigners. In that sense, patriotism becomes selective in its acts of altruism. Criticism of patriotism in ethics is directed at this moral preference: that is, it borders on and easily morphs into racism.

On the other hand, the view that moral duties apply equally to all humans is known as cosmopolitanism, despised and abhorred by dictatorial regimes and by extreme nationalists. American super-patriots today, as in Nazi Germany, see cosmopolitanism as the opposite of patriotism and equate it with treason. The predictable result is that dissenters are considered traitors and peace movements anti-American.

While patriotism implies the preference for a specific community, universalistic beliefs on the other hand reject specific preferences, in favor of a wider community. In the European Union today some political thinkers advocate a European-wide patriotism coupled with a belief in the supremacy of European culture. The Roman Catholic Church promotes its brand of Catholic patriotism in its missionary message of the supremacy of Christianity over other beliefs. This is “new world order” thinking.

At the same time, traditional patriotism in Europe is again raising its head—the old kind of patriotism-nationalism. This is a perplexing development because it is the patriotism that created the range of diverse cultures in Europe that enriched Western civilization but that also provoked centuries of nationalistic wars. Such patriotism refers to the ethnic state, especially in France, Great Britain and some East European nations. It coincides with and benefits from what is called Euroskepticism of those who place greater value on national traditions and a tighter ethnic national community.

Each ugly display of American patriotism abroad however reinforces an already negative view of Americans in the world at large where it is perceived as arrogant bullying and imperialistic bluster.

In ethics supporters of patriotism regard it as a virtue. However, the problem with treating patriotism as an objective virtue is that patriotisms conflict. Iraqis, once they found an invader on their soil, rebelled. Iranians today feel patriotism and love for their ancient culture vis-à-vis threats from the USA. Soldiers of both sides in a war feel equally patriotic, creating an ethical paradox: If patriotism is a virtue, then the enemy is equally virtuous, so why try to kill him?

The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre in his article "Is patriotism a virtue?" argues that modern politics has no place for patriotism anyway since there is no longer a real patria. For example, one begins to wonder where the United States of America ends: it is no longer confined to the coast-to-coast territory and its borders with Canada and Mexico. One speaks of a North American Union to incorporate the latter two, while the imperialist tentacles of America already reach around the world, with its military installations in over 100 countries.

In any case, though nationalism and jingoism exist in the USA, objectively there is less and less room for genuine healthy affection for the nation because of the absence of a common program or projects that the people can share with their rulers. That even 30% of Americans support the present government rings incomprehensible.

Incomprehensible, but true. For they are Power’s allies. The sect of Power and the secret societies standing behind it have at their disposal the super-patriots, Power’s spies and infiltrators. Power counts also on the acquiescence of countless numbers of unwitting semi-patriots in the wings. They are all allies, deceived by senseless propaganda and demagogy and repetition of slogans, or cowed by fear of punishment or loss of their material possessions.

In this technological era those secret forces can determine our destiny, our failures to measure up, our exclusion from society and even our death. In their role the super-patriots appear as a universe of the blind in the service of super-Power. Yet, although Power gleefully uses these super-patriot robots, it also despises them, as demonstrated by the fact that it does next to nothing for them, their most loyal citizens.

It is a paradox that the lower on the social-economic scale, among the poorest and most trampled on, the most neglected and abused, the more paranoid patriotic the patriots are.

How can the people intelligently or even emotionally share their government’s wars today? Can they share its aspirations for global power? Impossible! That appears as a serious miscalculation on the part of Power. The people cannot be part of Power’s projects for world supremacy. There simply exist and perhaps have always existed, in all times and in all places, secret aspirations for power in which normal people cannot share.

We like to think that as a man grows and matures in freedom he will come to find it unnecessary to appear as a pillar of whatever society he happens to live in, ever politically correct, ready to recite the Pledge of Allegiance on every occasion to prove he is a good citizen as he was forced to do as a child in school. And that he will understand that hanging out Old Glory does not make him patriotically superior to anyone.

As the difference between patriotism and jingoism becomes clear, the citizen might begin to wonder about the identity and intents of those obscure sects and the shadowy members of the secret societies gathered in their inaccessible conferences inside the dark caves and deep caverns and dank grottoes of Power. And in a brilliant burst of understanding he will come to see the usurpers of power for the troglodytes they are.

Bedouin widow and 5 children remain homeless after Israel destroys home

Ruins of the family's home (Photo: Suliman Abu, the Council for Unrecognized Villages)

As DesertPeace says in her take on this, "ILLEGAL OCCUPIERS DEMOLISH ILLEGAL HOME IN PALESTINE." And, the world stands by in silence because Israel is a Jewish state. All I can say is, GOD don't like ugly. And, He is Just!

by Yonat Atlas - Nov 8, 2007

The Negev's Local Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages is planning to rebuild the home of a widow, mother of five children, which was destroyed on Wednesday by the Israel Lands Authority.

Three illegally constructed homes were destroyed yesterday in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Bir al-Hamam, near Tel Sheva and Nebatim.

Demolition crews were accompanied by large police forces, and destroyed, among others, the home of a widow, a mother of five children aged 8 – 14. During the destruction of the house the mother fainted a number of times, and her eight-year daughter lay on the ground crying, and asked: "Mom, why are they destroying the house?"

Afterwards the mother took hold of a gas balloon and asked to end her life, as well as those of her children, but village residents succeeded in dissuading her and managed to calm her down.

The Chairman of the Council of Unrecognized Villages, Hussein al-Rafiya, has decided to set up a protest tent near the site of the destroyed home, and to remain in it until a new structure is built.

Speaking to Ynet, a shocked and saddened mother said: "I tried to make progress and advance my children, but the state failed me. Every penny I saved I built this home with so that there will be a roof for the children. A democratic state can't treat its citizens like this. We live here without electricity, even the chickens in the neighboring Jewish villages have electricity in the barns. So what should we think? I feel that the government doesn't want to make progress in negotiations with us, and I don't know what I'll do now."

Hussein al-Rafiya told Ynet: "We are planning to rebuild the home that was destroyed. All of the men of the village will come to help and we won't leave her without a roof." He added that he felt a stirring up among young Bedouin men. "Something is going to explode. I don't know what will happen exactly, but something not good will happen in the unrecognized villages."

The Interior Ministry said in a response yesterday that the National Monitoring Unit for Southern Construction destroyed the homes in cooperation with the police in accordance with an administrative demolishment decree placed against illegal construction. The structures were built on agricultural lands and the demolishing is part of the monitoring activities of the Southern District for Locating Illegal Construction.

Drown by Law

The Bush administration's position on waterboarding is all wet

by Jacob Sullum - November 7, 2007

In 1902 a U.S. Army captain wrote a letter to The New York Times about allegations that American soldiers had used an interrogation technique known as "the water cure" on Philippine insurgents. He claimed "unauthorized methods" had been used only against members of armed groups that were essentially criminal gangs. "From the results obtained it became simply a case where the end justifies the means," he wrote. "A legitimate combatant was never ill-treated."

That letter, quoted by law of war scholar Evan Wallach in a recent Columbia Journal of Transnational Law article, anticipated the arguments the Bush administration would employ a century later to defend its use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding.

One crucial difference is that the Bush administration pretends waterboarding is perfectly legal.
That stance put attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey in a bit of a spot. During his confirmation hearings he acknowledged that torture is not only illegal but unconstitutional. He also said the president is not at liberty simply to ignore statutory and constitutional restrictions on the treatment of detainees, even if he thinks doing so is necessary to protect national security.

Since the CIA has used waterboarding on suspected terrorists, calling it a form of torture would implicate not only interrogators but superiors who authorized the technique, possibly including President Bush, in federal crimes. Investigating your boss is not the most auspicious way to start a new job.

Not surprisingly, Mukasey decided to reserve judgment on the question of whether the CIA's waterboarding qualifies as torture. He pleaded ignorance of the details and emphasized the need to avoid an "uninformed legal opinion based on hypothetical facts and circumstances."

That stance sounded reasonable but seemed less so upon reflection. As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who turned against Mukasey's confirmation over this issue, put it, "No American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture."

Federal law defines torture as an act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering." It defines "severe mental pain or suffering" as "the prolonged mental harm" caused by, among other things, "the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering" or "the threat of imminent death."

Is there any way that tying someone down, tipping him backward, covering his face with cloth or plastic, and pouring water over him to produce the sensations of drowning would not qualify as torture? What classified detail could redeem a method Mukasey himself called "repugnant" and "over the line"?

As Wallach shows in his journal article, "U.S. courts have consistently held artificial drowning interrogation is torture." Military tribunals have punished Japanese soldiers for doing it to Americans, and U.S. courts have called it torture in criminal prosecutions of police officers and in a lawsuit against former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

The technique, variations of which date back at least to the Spanish Inquisition, is also known as "water torture," a term that clarifies the current debate. In essence, the Bush administration's defenders are declaring, "Water torture is not torture."

What they really mean, I think, is that sometimes torture is justified. If a detainee may have information that could be used to prevent a terrorist attack, for instance, isn't waterboarding the lesser of two evils? As that Army captain put it in 1902, doesn't the end justify the means?

I'm inclined to think it doesn't, not least because a government that asserts the authority to eavesdrop on people at will and imprison them at will is apt to make some terrible mistakes if it also has the authority to torture them at will. But this is an argument about what the law should be, not an argument about what it is.

The Bush administration has a tendency to confuse those two issues. Mukasey's unanticipated trouble on the way to confirmation reflects the expectation that the nation's chief law enforcement official will resist that tendency.

US applauds election plan in Pakistan

by DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press - Nov 8, 2007

The Bush White House on Thursday applauded Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's decision to proceed with elections in Pakistan, which has been convulsing from his imposition of emergency rule last week.

"We think it is a good thing that President Musharraf has clarified the election date for the Pakistani people," press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement given to reporters who were accompanying the president on a trip to Texas later Thursday.

The administration issued the statement welcoming the election the day after President Bush exhorted the embattled Musharraf in a telephone call to hold elections and to step down as head of the military in the Southwest Asian nation that has been riddled by unrest for the past several days.

"You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," Bush said Wednesday, telling reporters about the 20-minute telephone call he had with Musharraf. Said the president: "I had a very frank discussion with him."

The conversation was the first communication the U.S. president had with Musharraf since the Pakistani declared emergency rule last Saturday and granted sweeping powers to authorities to crush political dissent.

In Islamabad Thursday, Musharraf announced after a meeting of his National Security Council that elections would be held in February, a month later than had been planned previously. The announcement, nevertheless, was seen as a signal that the state of emergency there would not last long and that security restrictions would likely have to be eased to allow campaigning.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden, D-Del., who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, renewed his criticism of the Bush administration's way of dealing with Musharraf in a telephone news conference Thursday.

"I wonder why the president wasn't on the phone the first day with him," Biden said, "Why it took five days to talk to him."

Biden, after talking to Musharraf by telephone on Tuesday, said he had urged him to "take off his uniform" and "restore the rule of law."

At his news conference Thursday, Biden said, "We have to move from a Musharraf to a Pakistan policy... We have to be more directly involved behind the scenes."

The senator did not rule out Musharraf being "a player" in a more democratic government. But Biden said "if he engages in a permanent suspension of the Constitution that is not a recipe for democracy."

Bush talked about his message to Musharraf as he joined visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a tour of George Washington's home in Mount Vernon, Va., Wednesday.

"My message was very plain, very easy to understand, and that is, the United States wants you to have the elections as scheduled and take your uniform off," he said.

For several days, the administration had faced questions about why Bush was taking a softer line on Pakistan than he did, for instance, against Myanmar where military rulers cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in September.

Bush defended his response to both governments.

"Look, our objective is the same in Burma as it is in Pakistan, and that is to promote democracy," Bush said. "There is a difference, however. Pakistan has been on the path to democracy. Burma hadn't been on the path to democracy. And it requires different tactics to achieve the common objective."

Former interrogator: Waterboarding Should be Banned

by LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press - Nov 8, 2007

A former interrogation instructor for the Navy said the words Thursday that congressional Democrats wanted to hear from Attorney General-designate Michael Mukasey: "Waterboarding is torture, period."

"Waterboarding is torture and should be banned," Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a former Navy instructor of prisoner of war and terrorist hostage survival programs, told a House constitutional subcommittee. "I believe that we must reject the use of the waterboard for prisoners and captives and cleanse this stain from our national honor."

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said at the panel's hearing that he is against torture but that "sometimes we have to take measures to protect the innocent that we do not like."

"Severe interrogations are sometimes part of doing that," added Franks, the ranking Republican on the panel.

The exchange came as Senate leaders struggled to agree on the timing of a confirmation vote for Mukasey, who has refused to equate waterboarding with illegal torture.

The former retired judge is expected to win confirmation handily, but his nomination has sparked a fresh round of bitter debate about the legality of waterboarding.

The interrogation procedure makes the subject think he's drowning, and has been banned by domestic law and international treaties. Those policies don't cover the CIA's use of the technique, however, and the Bush administration has sidestepped questions about whether it has allowed the agency's employees to use it against terror detainees.

Mukasey's repeated refusal to testify that waterboarding is illegal torture cost him the votes of numerous Democrats in the Senate. But with an assurance that he would enforce any ban on the practice passed by Congress, he won back the votes of two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, enough for a majority on the panel and a vote by the full chamber.

Both houses of Congress are considering legislation to ban the procedure in all circumstances.

The debate shifted to the House Thursday morning, as the subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., convened a hearing on how the procedure is carried out and whether it meets the legal definition of torture.

As a former master training specialist in survival programs, Nance said that he underwent waterboarding as part of his training and that he personally led or was involved in using the procedure on hundreds of other trainees at the Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School.

Nance described the experience as a "slow motion suffocation" that provides enough time for the subject to consider what's happening: "water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel(ing) your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs."

"The victim is drowning," Nance said in materials submitted with his testimony. The intent during training, he added, is to stop the process before death occurs.

Training sessions are where waterboarding belongs, not as part of efforts to gain intelligence information from foreign agents, said a second witness.

Such "coercive" interrogation techniques aren't as effective as those that elicit cooperation, because false information is often elicited under harsher methods, said Col. Steven Kleinman, a senior intelligence officer and military interrogator for the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

"Tragically, many of these same tactics have migrated into the repertoire of interrogators seeking intelligence information," Kleinman said.

Others have said, however, that suspected terrorists have revealed information under harsh interrogation techniques that include waterboarding, such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A third witness who had agreed to testify said the Pentagon prohibited him from appearing.

Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, appellate judge of the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, said he was willing to testify when permitted to do so by the Department of Defense.

In a March 31 Wall Street Journal story, Couch said he had refused to prosecute a suspected terrorist because he believed the evidence had been tainted by torture.

Al-Jazeerah or Al-Jajewrah?

by Patrick Grimm - Nov 7, 2007

You’ve got to hand it to the crooks in the Jewish supremacist movement. They are covering all their bases, dotting all the I’s, crossing all the T’s and generally battening down the hatches as they tear out the vocal cords (figuratively and occasionally literally) of their opponents. If this strategy sometimes requires too much wet work (and wet work is more strenuous than Jewish money-lending), they can grab onto other strategies for controlling the flow of information, both quantitatively and especially qualitatively, because sometimes it’s not a matter of what they tell the viewer or listener, but what they don’t disclose. The truth is, Jewish supremacism can never survive with a free, open and unobstructed flow of unbiased information. Their evil program will shrink and melt like the wicked witch on a straight Dasani diet.

But fortunately for the Jew Supremes, more lying and more cash have caused more confusion and less awakening among our people. They are still manipulating the means of communication, and now as the stakes only soar higher and the Jewish moral tone of our culture drops to a nauseating nadir of unhealthiness, the Jews are pulling out all the stops. What are they up to now? Well, I’ll give you one example that had my blood boiling and my mouth almost agape with the shock at how my warnings, and the warnings of others in this movement are gradually coming to pass and to a sudden fruition, a fruition that only empowers one collection of criminal conspirators, the oldest gang of haters in recorded history.

As some may be aware, I send my articles and essays out to a variety of websites, bloggers and authors who are interested in the subject matter I write about. One such website on my list is Al-Jazeerah Magazine, the Arab news website, which is reportedly not directly affiliated with Al-Jazeerah television. Having never watched Al-Jazeerah television, I can’t attest to the quality or lack of, found there, but I must say that a recent experience with the website seems to confirm some of my darkest fears related to Jewish media monopolies, in even the most unlikely of places.

I mailed out my November 4th essay “Truth As The Objective” to a large number of different websites, and to my surprise received a reply back from the editor of Al-Jazeerah. If the reply surprised me, then the content of the reply thoroughly flummoxed and discombobulated me. Below is the e-mail I found in my Inbox from the Al-Jazeerah editor in response to the article I wrote. The aforementioned article dealt with the myriad ways that Jewish supremacists could try listening to their critics for a change and quit persecuting them. Also, it touched on the falsehoods of the errant and ever evolving Holocaust story:

Thanks Pat.

It’ll be published in the Nov 8 issue with changing the word Jew into the word Zionist.

Please make this change in your future writings because there are non-Zionist Jews who would agree with all what you wrote here.

Hassan El-Najjar, Ph.D.

Editor &

Imagine that! An Arab, I assume a Muslim as well, telling me that he would be completely re-editing my work to remove any references to Jewish supremacists or extremists, even erasing the word ‘Jew’ from the piece entirely and confining my context to the tame and politically correct realm of polite critiques of Zionism. This, despite the fact that there are many Jews who are “anti-Zionist” in some nebulous sense, yet who still jump like a spring to defend every other plank of the global Jewish agenda being stamped upon Gentile nations with indelible Hebrew ink. In fact, I can think of no supposed Jewish anti-Zionist who will even broach the subject of Jewish extremism or supremacism or ethnocentrism or anything else connected to the Jewish people or the intolerant Jewish religion.

Yet, Al-Jazeerah, a supposed news magazine and website that exposes both United States and Israeli excesses, mainly because some Arab countries have been victims of those same excesses, won’t allow an essay, a simple op-ed piece that names the biggest threat to every nation, religion, culture and heritage. Something has definitely gone awry. Something is askew at this Arab media organ.

Here was my reply:

Dr. El-Najjar,

With all due respect, I won’t be changing the word ‘Jew’ to ‘Zionist’ in any of my future writings, and if you insist on making this change, then I would ask that you not publish this article in your Nov. 8 issue. You are correct that there are indeed non-Zionist Jews out there, but to me this issue is bigger than Zionism, a movement only spanning a little more than a century. The major factor at play in both the European and Arab world is not only Zionism, but Jewish supremacism and extreme ethnocentric factions in the Diaspora. For example, George Soros would probably label himself an anti-Zionist, but it has been said by many writers, that Soros’ financial and monetary manipulation is causing “anti-Semitism” amongst moderate Muslims. Jewish extremism is the issue here. On this I will not compromise or hide behind politically correct phraseologies like “Zionist” or “Zionism.”

A recent commentator stated that the English version of Al-Jazeerah had been taken over by Jews, and your response to my article submission causes me to suspect that he was right. Zionism is only part of the global crisis we face. Jewish supremacism and the globalism that has been spawned by internationalist Jews is the entirety of the problem. Stop equivocating and providing a cover for these criminal elements of the Jewish community. I only want my work published if it will not be watered down by those who cower “for fear of the Jews.”

Thank you for your time.


Dr. Hesham Tellawi during his keynote speech at the first day of the No More Wars For Israel conference told the attendees that the English language version of Al-Jazeerah was equivalent to the Fox News Network in its softball fluff reporting and that it was a propaganda machine that the Jews have taken control over. His assertion may sound farfetched to some, but I believe he was absolutely correct. I have heard other commentators in this movement speculate that Jews have a 50% share of Al-Jazeerah and enough leverage over this Arab media outlet that they can shape, mold and convolute its content enough to neutralize any truth-telling ability it may have once possessed. Of course, we know that Jewish extremists now gently fondle both sides of most issues in this country, corralling the heads and tails of the political spectrum to do their will. Whether a news pundit is “liberal” or “conservative”, you can be sure that nary a word of critique will be leveled at the Chosen or the Chosen’s favorite nation in the Middle East. Rarely will any meaningful discussion take place on the role of Jews in America or any mass exposure of their never-ending cavalcade of crimes be allowed before the viewer’s eyes. Why, he might start thinking for a second!

The Jews have a knack for taking command of info spigots, and they turn them on and shut them off at their own good pleasure. If they even permit a tiny morsel of damaging data about Israel or an individual rabbi diddling a boy in a synagogue or a Jew in some Wall Street scandal to make the airwaves, you can be damn sure that it will be offset by an ocean of anti-white, anti-Iran, pro-illegal immigration, pro-multiculturalism, pro-multiracialism, pro-homosexuality stories which they will ejaculate into the media stream 24-7. All this will be witnessed in between a steady diet of TV commercials promoting race-mixing, miscegenation and the stupidity of middle-class white men, especially fathers.

I really do believe that the Jewish lust for power and domination is an immutable genetic defect, a mutation that is now permanent after centuries of close Jewish intermarriage within a gene pool that is limited, and possibly in need of a spoonful of chlorine. The penchant for jumping on top of others, wrestling any type of authority, leadership or dominance from their grasp (especially if they are white Europeans) is now a perpetual character flaw. Would they do the same thing with Arab media, thirsting to even twist and subvert the modest media conglomerates of the Muslim world to their advantage? Of course they would. The Jewish true-believers want to manipulate all sides of every message. No one is going to convince me that they haven’t already deeply infiltrated some Muslim media as well, burrowing their way in through the power of the purse. It’s not in their nature to leave well enough alone. That would be too prudent, too moderate, too un-chutzpah-like and Goyish.

So instead of Al-Jazeerah, perhaps this Arab news site and magazine should be more fittingly titled. Hmmmm, how does Al-Jajewrah sound? Nah, I don’t like it much either.

Israel pins no hope on 'pathetic Abbas'

Press TV News - Nov 8, 2007

Israeli intelligence circles see Abu Mazen as incapable of implementing any agreement reached at the upcoming Annapolis conference.

A joint document by the notorious General Security Service (Shin Bet), the Mossad and military intelligence reported that Israel's intelligence community considers the Head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas, a powerless figure 'who even has difficulty controlling car thieves and drug dealers in his own territory.'

"There is a total detachment between Abbas and the Palestinian people," said the document, adding " if a pact is agreed at the upcoming conference of Annapolis, the Head of the Palestinian Authority has no security apparatus capable of implementing it. "

In July, US President George W. Bush called for a summit to invite Zionist officials, the Palestinians and some of the world leaders to resume the so-called Middle East peace talks.

Analysts and some Palestinian political figures, however, have expressed skepticism over the outcomes of the conference, arguing that the summit would not address the core issues of the conflict, including the issues of al-Quds and Palestinian refugees.

Attack on Iran 'opens Pandora's Box'

Press News - Nov 7, 2007

Defense think-tanks warn Washington that any military strike against Iran will result in catastrophic consequences for the White House.

London-based defense analyst Andrew Brookes believes while Washington expects to have the superior firepower, the Iranian army would strike back against US forces in Iraq.

Amid growing tension between Tehran and Washington over Iran's nuclear program, analysts suspect President Bush could launch 'surgical military strikes' against Iran's nuclear sites before he leaves office in January 2009.

"The hard bit is what comes afterward and that is opening Pandora's Box," said Brookes, who works for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank.

Defense analyst Tim Ripley has said the nightmare scenario for the White House would be launching a war it could then not finish.

While Tehran has repeatedly emphasized it would never initiate a war on any state, the Islamic republic has warned the West of a 'quagmire deeper than Iraq', should Washington and its allies launch any military strike on the country.

Hagee: Jesus IS NOT the Messiah?

No man can serve two masters and it looks like Pastor Hagee has chosen Zionist Jews and Israel over Jesus

Click here:

Christian right comes apart

Split endorsements signals trouble among zealots

by LIBBY QUAID - Nov 7, 2007

The splintering of prominent Christian conservatives over the Republican presidential contenders reflects a schism — between the dogma of God, guns and gays and the desire to beat Hillary Clinton.

Months of disagreement within this important GOP voting bloc culminated this week in a flurry of endorsements:

Televangelist Pat Robertson is backing Rudy Giuliani. Conservative Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas is supporting fellow Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Moral Majority co-founder Paul Weyrich is going for Mitt Romney.

All the candidates are flawed in the eyes of the Christian right, which is why some evangelical leaders are holding out and might favor a third-party candidate.

"You've got a wide-open primary, and you have various people who are ideologically acceptable — not perfect, but ideologically acceptable," Brownback said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press.

"If they're acceptable and can win, that's better than losing," Brownback said, speaking by telephone on a campaign swing through Iowa with McCain. "I think you're seeing a more pragmatic expression taking place."

For his part, Robertson said he worries not about electability but about terrorists. Also, he feels reassured that Giuliani would appoint Supreme Court justices who view abortion from a conservative stance.

"To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists," Robertson said.

"I don't think evangelicals have coalesced around any candidate," he said Wednesday in Washington, with Giuliani at his side. "I just believe that I needed to make a statement, and I am speaking for myself, that ... Rudy Giuliani is, without question, an acceptable candidate."

There is very little any politician can do about abortion without a major shift in the federal judiciary, Robertson said, and Giuliani has promised to appoint judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia.

Not everyone will take a favorable view of Robertson's endorsement. While his television show, "The 700 Club," draws an estimated one million viewers daily, many evangelicals have distanced themselves from him. He drew criticism shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for saying they happened because Americans had insulted God and lost the protection of heaven by allowing abortion and "rampant Internet pornography."

This is not the first time evangelicals have split. In 1996, they were divided for months between former Sen. Bob Dole and conservative pundit Pat Buchanan. Christian conservatives rallied late in the process around Buchanan, but Dole became the nominee and later lost to Bill Clinton.

If evangelicals don't rally behind a single Giuliani rival, that could help the former New York mayor, who is the GOP front-runner in national polls.

Among voters describing themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians, 24 percent have said they would vote for former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and 20 percent for Giuliani, according to Associated Press-Ipsos polls. Some 22 percent didn't have a favorite candidate.

As for Giuliani, "he's working relentlessly to try and curry favor with conservatives," said GOP consultant Greg Mueller, who noted that Giuliani made a special trip to Washington last month to ask Brownback for support. "He's trying to find common ground, because he knows he's got vulnerabilities."

Evangelicals don't seem to feel all that good about any of their choices.

Not only does Giuliani back abortion rights, the former New York mayor has been married three times and has had frosty relations with his children.

Evangelicals still have bad blood with McCain, who has feuded for years with them and in 2000 called Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance."

And there is mistrust of Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, both because he has changed his mind on issues like abortion and because of his Mormon faith.

Other candidates are trying to take advantage of these flaws; Thompson began running TV ads in Iowa this week promoting his conservative voting record. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, reminds voters he is a die-hard social conservative.

Today, discord within the movement may run deeper than in the 1990s. The Christian right is maturing and has a new generation of leaders interested in issues beyond abortion and gay marriage, such as the environment and Darfur violence.

For example, pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren invited Sen. Barack Obama to speak at an AIDS summit at his mega-church last year, despite Obama's support for abortion rights.

"Part of this may very well be generational change," said John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

"The Christian right has been around for about 30 years," Green said. "Its founders are long in the tooth — Falwell passed away; Robertson is in his 70s. There is a new generation of leaders coming up behind them that see things differently."

Brownback said he's been caught up in the generational discord.

"There is a divide within the movement on topics like the environment and, to some degree, immigration," said Brownback, who has endured criticism for supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. "I've felt the buffeting from both sides."

He predicted that in the coming weeks, candidates will start talking about issues important to the new generation of evangelical leaders, such as poverty. Differences are not always bad, he said.

"I think it's actually a good thing; I think it broadens the movement," he said. "That probably is a more realistic picture of the faith, too. It's more faith-oriented, not less."

Suddenly, Ron Paul is a contender

Flush with cash, Ron Paul has high hopes in New Hampshire

by NORMA LOVE - Nov 8, 2007

Pumped up by a record day of online fundraising, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul said Wednesday he hopes to do well in a New Hampshire campaign in which he's emerging as a potential spoiler — or more.

In an Associated Press interview, he said people startled by the $4.3 million take from his volunteer-led fundraising blitz Monday might be surprised on Election Day as well.

"They said if the candidate doesn't call and pander to special interests you can't raise enough money. But here, we found out the campaign is very spontaneous and volunteers are coming," he said.

"So, I would say a campaign like ours would surprise others."

More important than money is his message, Paul said before starting a full day of campaigning in the first-primary state, with promises of more to come.

"I will be here a lot more but I think there's something in the air that says people are starved for a different message, and I have that message," he said.

Paul, a Texas congressman considered an extreme long-shot for the presidency, has stood out at Republican debates as the strongest advocate for a quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. But he said much of his support comes from people frightened about the economy — jobs, health care and the prospect of $100-a-barrel oil.

"We have to stop spending the money excessively. We have to stop printing the money," said Paul, who favors returning to the gold standard to shore up the dollar.

After the interview, Paul spoke to about 150 students at Nashua South High School and won applause for his remarks on Iraq. He said if he's elected, U.S. troops wouldn't come home in a day but could be withdrawn in two to three months.

In Wednesday's interview, he also dismissed Pakistan's embattled president as "nothing more than a puppet government for the United States."

Though he reiterated his call for ending foreign aid and using the money at home, he did not say whether he favors immediately ending aid to Pakistan.

The campaign's Internet prowess has drawn comparisons to Democrat Howard Dean, the Democratic front-runner in 2004 until Iowa and New Hampshire. Dean also strongly opposed the war.

Paul said the U.S. failure in Iraq is much clearer now, and his message is much broader than Dean's.

"He didn't have a non-intervention foreign policy. I talk about policy overall," he said.

Even before Monday, Paul had crept up to fourth in state GOP polling, with 7 percent in a survey last month by SRBI Research for Saint Anselm College. That put him behind Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain and essentially tied with Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson.

People are suddenly paying attention.

"I could see if Ron Paul gets 10 percent he could finish in fourth place," said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. If Romney, Giuliani or McCain slip up, Paul could do even better, Smith said.

Smith said Paul's anti-establishment image, similar to underdog winner Pat Buchanan's in 1996, appeals to voters unhappy with what the mainstream candidates are offering.

But Dante Scala, a University of New Hampshire political scientist, said Paul needs to expand his base beyond the young, the libertarian and the disaffected.

"There is a ceiling on his coalition of voters," said Scala. "He's going to have to break through that ceiling and, at least in New Hampshire, reach out to more moderate Republicans."

Paul agreed.

"I think that's where our greatest strength is, is the fact that the unhappy Republicans and independents have turned against the Republicans because the Republicans claimed they were conservatives and they weren't. They spent too much. The debt exploded and the war has been poorly run. We shouldn't have been in it," he said.

Paul reiterated his faith in the grass-roots effort propelling his campaign forward later in the day at a pizza shop in Concord where reporters outnumbered staff and patrons.

"I think people are very unhappy" with other candidates' messages, he said. "They hear something different from me. ... What I talk about is believable."

Smith said the depth of that discontent, and Paul's ability to tap it, remain to be seen. Without winning, Paul simply fulfills the role of an ideological candidate pushing his position, Smith said.

"And then they fade," he said. "Voters want to see someone who can win in November. The nominating process is all about picking a winner."