"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Corporate Welfare Chronicles

Today's installment of the Corporate Welfare Chronicles features the latest outrage from "our" elected public servants in service to Big Oil. What's most frustrating about this Public Citizen report is that many of the members of Congress voting Big Oil its most recent sweetheart deal are lame-ducks--they have already been voted out of office and are serving out what remains of their terms (they end in January). Loyal to fault, however, to their true constituents these bought and paid for corporate shills ensure that the fat-cats of Big Oil will encounter no impediments to their record-breaking profit margins in the near future.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Problems? What Problems?

It's always facinating to me when the mainstream "liberal" media tackles the most pressing isssue concerning our country today, namely our illegal occupation of Iraq at the cost of tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars per day from our treasury. One who shares in this wonder is Paul Street, a frequent contributer to journals of progressive opinion. What follows is an example of what the mainstream media is not--a platform from which one speaks truth to power. Read on.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Real Journalist Revisited: The Price of Courage

Its been far too long since my last post. My apoligies, but I found myself in a "perfect storm" of sorts which has kept me from posting since the 22nd of November. First I changed internet providers, then my system crashed, followed immediately by work becoming extremely busy.
Enough about my problems.

I was inspired to post today after comming across an article by Robert Parry, a journalist who helped break the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration back in the 80's. Parry pays tribute to Gary Webb, the late San Jose Mercury News journalist who had the temerity to connect the dots between the CIA trained and funded Contra terrorists and the emergence of the crack cocaine epidemic on the west coast.

A question for my fellow police officers out there: ever feel like you're running in place as far as the "war on drugs" are concerned? Robert Parry goes a long way towards explaining why. Reflect on the price Gary Webb paid in exposing this obcenity the next time the mainstream corporate media pats itself on the back about its vaunted "integrity".

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Onward Soldiers

So you thought our forces were mired in a quagmire of Team Bush's choosing in Iraq? According to a recent article in the The New Yorker by Seymour Hersh, if "Vice" President Dick Cheney has his way Iran, a nation with three times the population of Iraq and with a viable military infrastructure, is next.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Censoring The Unpalatable Truth

Recently the moderator on the SCC blog refused to publish my response to a True Believer in the "Hidden Homicides?" thread who described those of us, particularly in law enforcement, who held principled objections to the US war of aggression in Iraq as "cowards".

This Super-Patriot then went on to challenge us to tell returning veterans, "that they did not accomplish anything to help the Iraqis". To this I reasonably responded that the opinions of American veterans were entirely irrelevant to the issue. What should concern us is what do Iraqis think of our (unasked for) "assistance"? According to recent polls of Iraqi public opinion--not much. Frankly, most Americans aren't overjoyed either.

What prompted this challenge alert, however, was the moderator's amazing rationale for censoring my post after I alluded to the number of Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion, destruction, and occupation of the rubble that is now Iraq. His explanation serves as an instructive example of what happens when conventional wisdom is challenged by clear evidence to the contrary within a highly regimented intellectual culture. Particularly in a culture were propaganda has become the unassailable Truth.

Challenge Alert #2

For those who have not been following this soap opera, it has long been my habit when discussing or writing about the number of Iraqi civilian dead as a result of the March 2003 US invasion of that country to reference the peer-reviewed mortality survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2004 and, most recently, in October of 2006. Both reports were published in the highly respected British scientific journal, the Lancet. Their latest estimate published on October 11, 2006 places the number of Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the US invasion at 655,000 deaths in excess of what would have occurred had the US not invaded the country. The SCC moderator and other apologists for Team Bush war crimes, however, prefer the useful fictions reported by the British research group Iraq Body Count (IBC), which has consistently under reported Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the invasion by at least a factor of six. What follows is the SCC moderator's stunning reply to my post:

"We aren't publishing your comment for a couple of reasons, first of which is we said to STOP publishing the bullshit numbers from the Lancet". He then goes on to remind me that he has provided me with information regarding a website (IBC) "that is non partisan and mostly accurate".

What a startling admission on your part SCC. You are in essence stating that you are qualified to pass judgment on the work of leading epidemiologists whose work has been published in a respected peer-reviewed scientific journal (Lancet).

I am happy to report that I was quite aware of the IBC and its work well before I ever became aware of the Second City Cop blog.

Are you aware that the IBC has no epidemiologists on its staff?

Are you aware that the IBC uses primarily western media reports from the conflict zone to determine their estimations?

Are you at all aware of the background and experience level of the distinguished scientists who conducted the study published in the Lancet?

In what way are you qualified to dismiss as "bullshit" the work of the following: Dr. Les Roberts PhD, Dr. Shannon Doocy PhD, and Dr. Gilbert Burnham MD of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dr. Riyadh Lafta of Al Mustansiriya University Baghdad? These were the authors of the Lancet report, and they have conducted similar studies in war zones as far flung as Kosovo, Darfur, and the Congo using the standard accepted methodology in each example--cross-sectional cluster sample surveys.

This is what John Sloboda, co-founder and director of the IBC admitted to David Edwards of Media Lens in an e-mail on 14 January 2006,

" Our work is, and always has been, to systematically record civilian deaths reported by two or more recognized media sources which conform to the basic criteria set out in our methodology. (My emphasis)
This means that deaths unreported in these media are not in our data base. We have always publicly acknowledged that our numbers must underepresent (sic) the true figure".

Need I remind you SCC that the vast majority of western media personnel are, for obvious safety reasons, restricted almost exclusively to the Green Zone and have almost no independent access to the rest of the country.

SCC, I have enough respect for the intelligence and innate curiosity of the Second City Cop blog community to trust that they can determine for themselves whether or not the following series from Media Lens qualifies as competent journalism. They provide their correspondence not only with the director of the IBC and the authors of the Lancet report, but with other leading epidemiologists in the field as they investigated the validity of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health report which was published in the Lancet to such controversy.

As investigators, most of us are comfortable with the process of sifting through evidence to determine the path to the truth. I ask you to approach the material that follows as though you were investigating a crime. Are the witnesses credible? What does the evidence suggest? Think independently.

Part I and Part II cover the initial western media response to the first report published in 2004 (that 100,000 figure).

The April 10, 2006 report features the challenge of IBC's methodology by journalist John Pilger and a leading epidemiologist.

The October 18, 2006 report covers the release of the updated Lancet study (that 655,000 figure) and its methodology.

The October 31, 2006 report featured Lancet report co-author Dr. Les Robert's response to questions about his work and that of his colleagues on the study.

Last but not least, I leave it to you the reader to judge for yourself the worth of the Lancet Report and draw your own conclusions.

SCC, the rest of your statements regarding the cost of the war, Iraqi public opinion (see link above), and my "attempts to tie Saddam's atrocities to the political winds of the 80's", will be addressed in turn. Stay safe.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Told You So

Sadly it appears that the fears and suspicions of progressives are being realized as the "opposition" party prepares to take the reins in Washington. Paul Craig Roberts explains.

In related news, Justin Raimondo explores the neo-con dilemma as the Disaster in Mesopotamia continues to unfold in a pattern long predicted.

Last but not least, I would like to recommend a book written by former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, a 22 year veteran of that agency. Scheuer led a task force at CIA charged with capturing and/or killing Osama Bin Laden at a time when the Bush administration considered the terrorist (and former client) a low priority. His book is Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. As the following excerpt makes clear, misrepresenting the valid grievances and consequences of massive Muslim populations living under US-backed tyrannical regimes as "islamo-fascism" will only deepen and prolong the misery that Team Bush ( with bi-partisan support) has unleashed.

Scheuer further expands on this theme in the following interview with Harper's Ken Silverstein back in August of this year.

Challenge Alert #1

Response to "Doubter":

In the "Let The Games Begin" thread of the Second City Cop blog, a poster going by the "Doubter" handle, wrote the following in response to my position that Bush administration policies such as warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, the blatant violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions regarding prisoners of war, and the ubiquitous "signing statements" the president attaches to legislation--in effect declaring that he will submit to laws as he sees fit--posed a clear threat to the Constitution and the rule of law:

"Wiretaps. The federal courts have already decided that the NSA wiretaps are legal . In Re. Sealed Case. The court not only rebuked the FISA court for its excesses--it noted that the FISA court 'may have exceeded the constitutional bounds'--but ruled that the president had 'inherent authority' under the Constitution to conduct needed surveillance without obtaining a warrant"

What "excesses" he refers to in regards to the FISA court--the court Team Bush bypassed in route to the illegal wiretapping of Americans--is a complete mystery to me. It would likely be a mystery to most legal scholars who've written extensively on the matter as well. For example, read the following essay which originally appeared in the August 10, 2006 issue of the New York Review of Books by David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University on how the US Supreme Court "struck back".

When you finish that piece, read this essay by former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega and I think you will see why Bush scrambled to sponsor legislation granting retroactive immunity (again with critical bi-partisan support) for those responsible for clear violations of federal law and the Geneva Conventions.

The Challenger Series

I've been tossing around in my head a new concept for the Lair that will allow me to continue posting introductions to the work of various progressive writers, while occasionally responding to the assertions of posters and the moderators on that great sounding board better known here as the Second City Cop blog. These "challenge alerts", will comprise my detailed response to challenges from over there that will likely require more space than the SCC moderators are likely to allow. Often the alert will tie into the general theme of the post that day, but sometimes not. The inaugural challenge alert will follow shortly.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Free Trade Fantasies

Recently, a poster on my favorite antidote to writer's block, the Second City Cop blog, wrote a gushing endorsement of Vietnam's recent acceptance of a "free trade" agreement with the US. The fact that these neo-liberal "globalization" schemes have left utter devastation in their wake wherever they have been imposed is clearly beyond the awareness of this anonymous poster, which no doubt generalizes to a large portion of the American public.

What a wonderful opportunity this is to introduce to you a very important contributor to this debate! Noam Chomsky has been writing, virtually non-stop, on American foreign and domestic policy for 40 years--all while (simultaneously) forging groundbreaking discoveries in the field of linguistics. As perhaps America's foremost dissident, Chomsky has suffered the slings and arrows that befalls anyone who walks against the flow of the stampeding herd. A virtual icon in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, much of Chomsky's work is studiously ignored (or vilified) in the country of his birth. As the author of over 80 books and thousands of articles and essays which have appeared in many of the leading academic journals and publications of popular opinion, Chomsky is listed in the Arts & Humanities Index as number 7 behind a short list that includes Freud, Marx, and Jesus, as the most cited intellectuals alive (or dead).

It would behoove you to read carefully Chomsky's analysis of the "free trade" phenomenon, then in its infancy when he wrote this essay back in 1993. The subject of his attention was the North American Free Trade Agreement which at the time had been ravishing the Mexican economy for nearly a year. By the following year, the Mexican economy had completely collapsed and led directly to the spectacle of millions of Mexicans flowing north of the Rio Grande in order to survive. The strictures of NAFTA virtually de-populated the countryside as the local oligarchy transformed their land holdings to agro-export crops better suited to the American market and not for local consumption. Millions faced starvation. Naturally, worker protections evaporated overnight as the NAFTA treaties virtually outlawed unions.

Most Americans are only dimly aware of what Chomsky details in his essay, Notes of NAFTA: The Masters of Man. It's time for that to change, most critically because if Team Bush and its principal supporters amongst the owners of our society have their way, we will all get a taste of what has befallen Mexico, Argentina, Haiti, (soon Vietnam) and a host of other nations that have accepted (with little public input) neo-liberalism's chilly embrace.

In a related speech from 1997, Chomsky sketches a broader outline of the neo-liberal agenda, what it ultimately holds in store for this country, and how it relates to the so-called free-trade agreements. The speech was titled, Market Democracy in a Neo-Liberal Order: Doctrines and Reality, and is perhaps the best summation of the so-called globalization phenomenon that I have yet to encounter. Think of it the next time a frothing neo-con extols the virtues of "globalization".

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Aftermath

I've had so much fun amusing myself reading the lamentations of GOP supporters throughout the blogsphere that I've neglected my own site. What an interesting turn of events! None of what occurred to the GOP on Tuesday came as much of a surprise to those who've been paying close attention to the poll figures over the past nine months or so, but for the True Believers who had insisted that those poll numbers were liberal distortions and not truly reflective of public sentiment, well... no amount of tissue can stem the flow of their tears.

As I stated in my "Election Time" post, a Democratic majority in one or both houses of Congress is not cause enough to celebrate. What follows are observations along this theme from some of the leading progressive voices in the US--one of whom may be new to you.

As always, the Lair welcomes analysis from Tom Englehardt whose blog is linked on this site. Read his latest missive on the" fall of the New Rome" as Bush The Decider's Outlaw Empire Meets the Wave.

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting covers the post-election debate among the news readers and pundits of the corporate media who desperately tried to put the results in "proper perspective" for us rubes.

Finally, I'd like to introduce you to Professor Brian Leiter (PhD, JD Univ. of Michigan, AB Princeton), whose blog the Leiter Reports, is now on my link list. Leiter holds the Baker Chair in Law at the University of Texas and is also a professor of Philosophy there. He has been a visiting professor of law at Yale and is currently serving in that capacity at the University of Chicago Law School. I think you will find his Post-Mortem Election Thoughts as informative as I did. I strongly encourage you to explore his blog further. Enjoy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Paul Street On The Kerry "Controversy"

How could I possibly have missed this?

Election Time!

No, the choices aren't great, but there can be no question about the urgent need to send a message to the dangerous reactionaries who are hurdling this nation towards the precipice. Hold your nose and vote, but don't stop there. Those whom we elect to serve us must do just that--serve us rather than kneel at the altar of corporatism.

Merely exchanging one group of corporate shills for another will do little to alter our nation's course. In his latest essay, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) founder Jeff Cohen demonstrates why a "victory" by the Democrats on Tuesday will not be cause for voters with progressive values to pat themselves on the back. The battle will only have just begun. Remember, the big guns still hold the high ground in Washington. Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Finance, the major media corporations, and the "defense" industry, among a host of other well financed special interests groups have battalions of lobbyist with which to seduce the new arrivals. If they succeed, then all we will have managed to accomplish on Tuesday is exchange the deck chairs on the Titanic. There is a great deal of work to be done. Read on.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Response To "Old Grey Guy"

On November 2nd at the Second City Cop blog under the post, "We Couldn't Have Said It Better", the moderator(s) fell all over themselves in praising a post by a Vietnam War veteran and retired Chicago Police officer who blogs under the "Old Grey Guy" moniker. The target of Old Grey's attack was frequent SCC Blog contributor Leftisthebest, who, like yours truly, has often been the target of abuse on that site for ( to borrow from Orwell) "thought crimes" , i.e espousing positions which flaunt conventional wisdom regarding American foreign and/or domestic policy.

Lefty had the temerity to point out that most of the desk-warriors in Congress and Bush's administration who've sent America's sons and daughters off on various imperial ventures around the globe, have never served in the armed services. And of those who did "serve", many, like The Decider, managed to land cushy state-side National Guard assignments during the Vietnam War.The focus of my response will be on this issue of the Vietnam conflict for it seemed to dominate the thread after Old Grey's diatribe.

Let's begin with the moderator's estimation of Old Grey's comments that they "couldn't have said it better". That struck me as rather odd because immediately after reading this veteran's comments, another narrative became apparent to me. It went something like this:

The people of Vietnam posed the exact same threat to America in 1961 (the year the US began its assault on South Vietnam) that the people of Iraq posed to this country in 2003--that is to say none at all. It thereby stands to reason that the US assault on Vietnam and the bordering nations of Indochina was--like the war of aggression in Iraq--unjustified and fundamentally immoral.

How about that? Sound better? Sure does to me. Furthermore, what I have just written reconciles with the historical record.

Let me first be perfectly clear. I have nothing against those who served in Vietnam. Most of those young men were draftees and, like soldiers everywhere, went where they were told to go and killed whom they were told to kill. The American servicemen in Vietnam were in many ways as much victims of our government's criminal policy as those they had been sent to slaughter. Almost.

The servicemen may have my sympathy, but I have an abiding respect for those who refused to partake in America's imperial adventure in southeast Asia. These young men understood at the time that their nation had neither the right or the competence to decide--by force of arms--how another people should organize their society. It takes moral courage to resist the State, particularly where the elite classes and their institutions have determined that acts of aggression and the war crimes that follow are in the "national interest".

It's important to recall that between 2 to 3 million Vietnamese would perish during the 21 year US assault on that country--17% of the population. An equivalent ratio of American deaths would have represented 25 million souls. More ordinance was dropped on this Third World country, than in both the European and Pacific theaters of the Second World War combined. All that because the people of this largely agrarian, peasant society, refused to submit to Western colonialism.

A Brief History

After a bloody struggle that would span a century, the Vietnamese finally broke free of their shackles following their defeat of the French Army on May 7, 1954 at Diem Bein Phu. But did America, the self-proclaimed champion of self-determination for all people, acknowledge and accept the hard-earned liberation of the Indochinese? Of course we know the answer don't we Old Grey Guy? The Eisenhower administration moved at once to undermine the 1954 Geneva Peace Accords--specifically Chapter III Articles 16 through 19. These Accords called for general elections to be held in 1956 which would re-unify the northern and southern provinces of Vietnam--at the time temporarily divided along the 17th parallel. It was clear to all that the irredeemably corrupt regime of Ngo Dinh Diem stood no chance of winning a popular election (Diem along with his cohorts had collaborated with the French colonials for decades). Likewise, it was equally clear which party had the support of the overwhelming majority of the population; the same force that resolutely resisted the French occupation for over half a century--the National Liberation Front (NLF).

Diem frankly warned Eisenhower that if he didn't assist in halting the '56 elections, then the communists (NLF) would win in a landslide, for he was completely devoid of popular support. The masses had fully embraced the domestic platform of the NLF which included a massive land reform program and a more equitable distribution of the nation's rich natural resources. It was readily apparent that, left to their own devices, the people of Vietnam would have organized a society based upon socialist principles. For the Cold Warriors of the Eisenhower administration, however, that would just never do.

Here's the part where you come in Old Grey Guy.

You were not "defending America" during your tour in Vietnam Old Grey. Was the NLF planning to row their canoes across the Pacific and launch an attack on California? How would a Third World, agrarian society without benefit of a navy or air force, invade, conquer, and occupy the most powerful nation in all of recorded human history?

No Old Grey, what you were doing was "draining the swamp". What does that mean? Well, you see it was understood by the American architects of the war (much like the French before them) that the NLF relied on massive support from the peasants in the southern provinces of Vietnam (particularly the countryside) in order to survive and conduct operations. What does one do when the overwhelming majority of the population supports the "enemy"? It was lost on no one but the American public that the southern peasants of Vietnam and the NLF were one and the same. No guerrilla movement can survive much less succeed without a powerful undercurrent of popular support.

"To kill the mosquitos one must first drain the swamp", or so the saying goes. The "mosquitos" in our example were of course the NLF, and the "swamp" were the peasants of South Vietnam--their base of support. This explains why you and your fellow soldiers concentrated all of your efforts on controlling the "swamp". Massive US exercises such as Operation Wheeler Walla (of which the My Lai massacre was but a small footnote) were designed to herd the peasants into "pacification camps"--or if we are to accept their conventional definition--concentration camps. This was the ultimately unsuccessful attempt by US planners to deny the NLF its lifeline--the people themselves. So in essence Old Grey, you were "defending" South Vietnam from its own population.

I read your words with a mixture of sadness and pity Old Grey. Sadness because it was clear that you were used by your government like toilet paper in pursuit of elite interests that never concerned you or most Americans for that matter. That sadness, however, turned to pity when I realized that you still believe, and will likely go to your grave believing, that you were defending your country.

Although it will probably make no difference, I'll state the obvious:


The NLF in the South, and the NVA in the North were defending their country from foreign aggressors, of which you were one. The Vietnamese had a long history of fighting off invaders before you arrived in 1965 Old Grey. The French before us, the Japanese before them (briefly taking over from the Frogs during WWII), and the Chinese (for millennia) before them all.

Did the NLF, the only force defending the peasants of the South, launch an attack on the United States of America? Pure nonsense. Did the NLF/NVA take on all comers in defense of their sovereignty? You bet. Wouldn't we? How would you respond Old Grey, to the presence of foreign troops on American soil, "standing up" leaders of their choosing to manage our affairs. Would you turn the other cheek to the spectacle of those same troops turning our wives, daughters, and sisters into their "comfort whores" to pass the time (tell us all about Da Nang buddy). How many of your children would you bury before you took up arms against the forces of another power, whose unrequested attempts to "help" us, require that they "kill us to save us"?

I was also fascinated by your blistering attack on those you condemn as "unpatriotic" for their opposition to the war in Vietnam and now in Iraq. What makes your position so fascinating is that you are genuinely oblivious to the fact that neither of these countries posed a threat to your own. Would anyone be sympathetic to similar complaints from say, a German soldier who served his nation faithfully during the atrocities in Poland in '39 through the siege of Stalingrad in '44? Or for a Russian soldier's fulminations about the lack of support on the home front during his rampage through Afghanistan? Somehow I doubt it.

It is a testimony to the level of our society's indoctrination that a sizable portion of the American public note no sense of irony when the very people responsible for the most aggressive foreign policy in our nation's history, claim to be peacemakers.

Other Voices

I couldn't help but notice Old Grey, that you cast doubt on the accounts of Kerry and other veterans who admitted that they either witnessed or participated in war crimes during the Vietnam War. I'm curious to know what your reaction is to this series of stories on just that very subject by Deborah Nelson and Nick Turse of the Los Angeles Times. Stay safe.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Someone You Should Know

When I began this blog, one of my promises was to share access to the writing of those whom I respect and admire though their work is often marginalized due to its ideological "inappropriateness". One such writer is Dennis Perrin whose blog, Red State Son, is included on my link list as "The Red One". Perrin has written everything from sketch comedy, to ad copy, to full scale autobiographies. His specialty is political and social commentary which is invariably infused with not only penetrating insight but great humor as well.

Read his blog entry of 30 October 06 (Ass Kicked Conclusion) about the state of America's Democratic "opposition" party and I believe you'll be hooked as I was long ago. Bookmark his blog, or pass through to him from here. Either way you can't go wrong.

A Good Read

I recently finished a very good book by Fairness and Accuracy In Media (FAIR) founder Jeff Cohen in which he recounts his misadventures in the media mainstream. Cohen freely admits that he was naive to believe he could effectively carve out space for progressive viewpoints on mainstream cable news, however, the insights he gained from observing the news "process" from the inside was invaluable.

In his book, Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, Cohen recounts his experiences as a producer and occasional on-air pundit for CNN, FOX News, and finally (and most disastrously) MSNBC. What Cohen would run up against was the brick wall that protected the interests of corporate power from scrutiny or debate on the public airwaves. This book is a must-read for those who are curious about how the Fourth Estate, which so prides itself as the institution no democracy can do without for it speaks truth to power, so miserably failed us during the lead up to aggression in Iraq.

Friday, October 27, 2006

In Plain English For Slow Learners

I am consistently amazed by the display of willful ignorance on the part of a few of my fellow Chicago police officers running the popular Second City Cop Blog (see link list). Known simply as "SCC" in their posts, they never fail to respond to any challenge to approved conventional wisdom on US foreign or domestic policy with hysterical rants that are always short on analytical content but high in entertainment value.

In one of their latest posts (Whine, Whine, Whine) they rise valiantly in defense of the Prince of Darkness himself, "Vice" President Dick Cheney who let it slip in a recent interview that the Bush administration's legitimizing of torture and the suspension of habeas corpus in the ongoing War On A Tactic was something to celebrate. These are desperate times for neo-cons and their ardent supporters who can all read polls. No matter how the administration spins it, their policy in Iraq is an abysmal failure (to say nothing of an unconscionable crime) and Americans are finally fed up with it. This both angers and frightens the True Believers such as SCC who have invested so much of themselves emotionally in the neo-con global quest for hegemony--a quest that ultimately will be denied them since it is now abundantly clear that (1) most Americans are unwilling to go along, and (2) despite America's military might, that alone is not enough to force this agenda down the throats of the global South.

So what's a neo-con to do? Well of course, turn up the "terror" volume. There is nothing left to cling to so this will just have to do. In a credit to The Dear Leader, SCC turns in a tour de force. If I were less informed, their "arguments" would no doubt have me hiding under my computer. To be so ill-informed this late in the game, however, requires a tremendous degree of will-power. One must studiously ignore the voluminous public record that confirms Iraq played no hand in the 9/11 atrocities--that in fact secular Saddam Hussein and fundamentalist Al Qaida were implacable enemies. That intelligence analysts had warned in advance that an unprovoked attack on Iraq would transform that country into a seething cauldron of resentment of everything American. That America's hyper-aggression in the Middle East has served to make this already volatile region even more combustible. Lets compare and contrast the neo-con fantasy world illustrated by SCC in which America is virtually under siege, with the reality of a country under actual US occupation.


The Iraqi WMD "threat", which had been the original justification for the US invasion without UN Security Council authorization and in defiance of international law, has long been exposed as cynical fraud played upon a frightened American public in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Next, after WMD were nowhere to be found (as UN inspectors had long maintained), the rationalization for the invasion and occupation of sovereign Iraq became the promotion of "democracy" at the barrel of M-16s. Tom Engelhardt, whose indispensable blog TomDispatch.com has long been one of my inspirations, will take it from here with two essays that should put to rest any further doubts you may have about the abject failure of Bush's policy in Iraq and the moral depravity of his apologists. Read Engelhardt's "Playing the Numbers Game With Death in Iraq", then (most importantly) "Truths of a Lost War". Afterwards, when you re-read SCC's "analysis" in the Whine, Whine, Whine post--try not to laugh.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

For Those Still In Doubt

Mohamed Elbaradei, the 2005 Nobel laureate and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently warned that up to 30 nations could possess the means to produce nuclear weapons in a relatively short period of time. What does this say about the alleged "Leader of the Free World"? I recall a time when the US at least paid lip service to its obligation to rid the world of this threat to humanity. It was understood that if other nations were to feel secure and thus refrain from developing nuclear weapons themselves, then the major powers which possessed nuclear armaments would work to reduce and ultimately eliminate their own stockpile.

That all of course went out the window when Bush and his merry band of neo-crazies took power. At once the Bush administration withdrew America from its Salt II treaty obligations with Russia in order to increase and improve upon our weaponized nuclear stockpile--in direct violation of both the letter and spirit of that treaty which had been to seek the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States (NSS) introduced to the world the concept of "preemption". This remarkably provocative concept declared America's "right" to challenge any potential rival to her military supremacy with attack. The 2002 NSS put the world on notice that America reserved to itself alone the right to intervene in the affairs of other nations when its interests were threatened irrespective of the UN Charter and its treaty obligations to the rule of law.

In March 2003, the Bush administration launched an unprovoked attack against a virtually defenseless Iraq on fabricated pretexts as a demonstration of its willingness to follow its words with deeds. What was lost to no one, however, was the fact that of the so-called axis of evil nations (Iran, North Korea, & Iraq), only Iraq--the weakest--was attacked and destroyed. Those with a credible deterrent to US aggression such as North Korea, a declared nuclear power with massed artillery aimed at South Korea and American forces there, and Iran, a viable nation state with the means to utterly disrupt commercial traffic through the Persian Gulf, were not attacked.

As the IAEA's Elbaradei has reasonably implied, US foreign policy has made the world considerably less secure as other nations scramble to obtain a nuclear deterrent to the American hegemon. Thanks Mr. President.

Kevin Tillman Breaks His Silence

The brother of slain former Arizona Cardinal Pat Tillman has broken his silence. As many of you will recall, in 2002 Pat Tillman walked away from a multi-million dollar NFL contract in order to do what he felt was his patriotic duty and enlisted into the Army to defend his country. Tragically Tillman was killed in a friendly-fire incident which the Army clumsily attempted to cover-up. Needless to say this back-fired in a major way.

What Kevin has to say about the lies and deceptions from our government that ultimately led to Pat's death as well as scores like him is finally beginning to dawn upon the general US population thankfully at last. In other words, we are beginning to see our own government in same light from which the rest of the world views it. Better late than never.

As you read Kevin's powerful indictment of the criminal Bush administration, keep in mind that he too was an Army Ranger who believed the veracity of the fictional threats to our nation as deeply as his brother had.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Voices in the Wilderness

I must apologize for the dearth of postings lately but I must attend from time to time with That Which Pays The Bills, more commonly known as the Job. That said I managed to find some encouraging words from dissidents on both sides of the Atlantic and would like to share them with you.

As you are no doubt aware by now the Bush administration finds its back against the wall--a wall now crumbling around it--over its Iraqi debacle. Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, conveys his regrets about not exposing the deceptions of the Johnson administration during the lead up to the Vietnam war much sooner than he had. Ellsberg recognized, too late, that exposure of government malfeasance must be placed before concerns for one's career, public standing, or personal loyalties--even imprisonment--with so much at stake. Over 58,000 US troops and perhaps as many as 3 million Vietnamese would die as a result of American aggression in Indochina. If the American public had been informed of the true nature of its government's role in the impending slaughter back in 1961 when the assault on the peasants of South Vietnam began in earnest, then scores of people would still be alive.

Ellsberg acknowledges this as his failure for he had access to information that could have changed the course of history but did nothing about it. Likewise, there are men and women today who had full knowledge of the Bush administration's lies and deceptions during the lead up to aggression in Iraq but chose to quietly resign in protest rather than provide firm evidence--before the invasion--of what they knew: 1) Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction; 2) Iraq was not a party to the 9/11 atrocities; 3) Iraq posed no credible threat to its neighbors, much less the United States. Their reticence has led directly to the deaths over 650,000 Iraqis and nearly 3,000 US soldiers. At this very moment the Bush administration is finalizing plans for an unprovoked attack on Iran--likely after the November mid-term elections. Ellsberg's essay, "The Next War" is an open letter to those in our government with access to information to have the courage to do what he failed to do 40 years ago--expose a sitting administration's deceptions before the rivers of blood flow from an unnecessary and immoral war.

Other Voices

I would be remiss if I did not include William Blum's latest ruminations on the current state of American Empire. Please consider the implications of his words carefully.

On the other side of the pond, reverberations are now being acutely felt in the halls of power and influence amongst our British allies in the Disaster in Mesopotamia. Matthew Parris explains their dilemma.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Crossroad

I recently came across an essay by Tom Engelhardt whose essential blog, TomDispatch.com, is an invaluable resource for those seeking alternatives to the corporate media for information. What troubles Engelhardt here is what has also been my obsession since Bush launched the war of aggression in Iraq, namely, the degradation of the US republic and the threat this poses not only to Americans but the world at large.

Many independent thinkers and iconoclasts whom I deeply respect have sat before Engelhardt's tape recorder over the years and this installment brings many of them back with important insights at a time when our republic faces its greatest threat since the Civil War.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pension Fadeout

The following essay from Jack Rasmus, an long time union advocate, should serve as a cautionary tale for those of you in the public sector who may be unaware that your pension as you now know it is under serious threat.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Gilbert Achcar on Image and Reality in Mid-East

So much garbage passes for information in the mainstream corporate press here in the US that we Americans can be forgiven if we're often the last to know when our government's latest foreign policy initiative is found to have been constructed on a foundation of sand. The debacle in Iraq is only the most recent example, but there have been countless others. As I intimated in my first post on this blog (Maiden Voyage Sep. 06) one of my goals is to provide a place where alternative perspectives on US policy in the post 9/11 era can be explored and hopefully debated. Clearly such is not the case with regard to the Free Press (regardless of its pretensions) which has largely served as the Bush Administration's echo chamber.

Political scientist and activist Gilbert Achcar, who is of Lebanese decent and teaches at the University of Paris VIII, provides analysis of the Middle East that, try as I might, I've never seen reproduced in my local Chicago Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune (or for that matter anywhere in the mainstream). Much of what Achcar discusses here would be common knowledge if we had the benefit of an actual independent media seeking to help us make informed decisions. Of course, the key ingredient for such an outcome would be information as opposed to the accustomed propaganda that served us all so well during the lead up to aggression in Iraq.

I suggest you read Achcar's comments with the full knowledge that the Bush administration has every intention of launching a strike against Iran sometime after the November mid-term elections.

Dancing Through Minefields

It seems that our Dear Leader has found yet new ways of threatening our security with his reckless foreign policy. So intent are the Bush "neo-cons" on checking any challenge to US hegemony, that they would risk an accidental nuclear conflict with Russia.

In further troubling news, it seems Team Bush has assembled a "Wack Iran" lobby to help drum up support for yet another war of aggression against a nation that poses no threat to us.

Last but not least, Robert Parry explores the Bush administration's "solution" to the current FUBAR status that is US policy in the Middle East.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Time To Worry

November 7th, 2006 may be the day future historians point to when marking the death of the American Republic. Sound improbable? Then perhaps you haven't been paying attention. The mid-term elections will be held on that fateful day and I hope you'll take them seriously.

The Bush administration will either get a mandate to radically alter the DNA of our republic, or a clear message from the American people that his "unitary executive " theory, which destroys the separation of powers that defends our liberty, and a foreign policy that threatens World War III, cannot be reconciled with their values or interests.

Read this carefully and worry.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

David Morse On Hypocrisy In Two Acts

The word "appeasement" has been on the lips of many in the Bush administration of late--including those of The Man himself. Barely ten minutes will pass on a Fox News broadcast before a Team Bush member tosses the obligatory A-word at a member of the rival party or anyone else not displaying sufficient enthusiasm for "staying the course" in Iraq and our interminable War On A Tactic. The companion piece to the favored word is of course, "Islamo-fascism". What better way to stampede a terrified public into supporting (yet another) war of aggression against a fabricated threat, than to conjure up the specter of goose-stepping mullahs marching triumphantly down New York's Park Avenue?

Missing from all this talk of "appeasement" and "fascism" is any serious inquiry from the Free Press about the Bush administration's curiously timid response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Darfur region of Western Sudan. Writer David Morse contributed two essays to TomDispatch.com that addressed this very subject. In the first he outlines the confluence of Big Oil, ethnic cleansing, stupendous profits, and Bush in the ongoing atrocities. His latest piece, however, provides an illuminating look into the world of realpolitik--where moral questions do not arise when "vital interests" are at stake.

While reading these essays by Morse I ask that you keep the following words in mind: hypocrisy, mendacity, hubris, and moral depravity. When applied to US foreign policy, they come dangerously close to the mark.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Third World Musings

Michael Parenti is one of those scholars whose voice is curiously missing from mainstream discourse on US foreign and domestic policy. If he has ever appeared on CNN or FOX I surely missed it.

Parenti received his doctorate in political science from Yale, and has authored some 19 books--all of which deserve your attention.

What caught my attention, however, was a recent article he wrote that appeared on Znet. It focused primarily on the connection between the wealth and subsequent foreign policies of the First World, and persistent poverty in the Third World. What could that be? Well, I'll let Dr. Parenti explain.

There is a critical component to what Parenti describes in his essay that if you aren't paying close attention you could easily miss. This model is coming to our own shores, courtesy of the so-called neo-liberal agenda that sees aggressive privatization as the panacea for all that ills us. The "trickle-down effect" will miraculously sustain an ever-growing middle class, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Here in Chicago mayor Daley, fresh from his triumph over the will of 80% the city's population in vetoing a living wage ordinance in service to yet another corporation (Wal-Mart), has moved to sell the city's assets to the highest bidder. He sold the Skyway Tollroad to a corporation for 1.8 billion dollars and couldn't stop crowing about the "windfall". With only a moment's reflection, however, an obvious question arises: how do we replace the revenues generated by the Skyway--that now serve the bottom line of a private enterprise--once the last dime of the "windfall" is spent?

While your thinking about that, think about this. Daley has hatched a similar plan for Midway airport. That's right. If this bought and paid for corporate shill has his way, Midway will be in private hands making money hand over fist for a corporation that couldn't care less about Chicago's, schools, libraries, infrastructure, the effectiveness of its police & fire departments, or any of the 101 other things this valuable public asset helps to fund. Naturally O'Hare would be next.

Illinois Gov. Blagojevich has proposed to sell the state lottery to a private corporation for between four and five billion dollars. The payments are to be spread out over a four year period and (theoretically) will be used to fund the state's public schools. And when the four years are up? The schools are on their own.

Are you beginning to see a pattern? The Third World model of aggressive privatization in which valuable public assets are transferred into the hands of corporations (largely unaccountable to the public), is now emerging here in the US. Much as in the Third World, organized labor is also under assault in this country--along with many of the hard fought protections and worker's rights earned during a century of struggle (and bloodshed).

The Bush administration struggles mightily to strip the environmental protections that ensure clean air and potable water for future generations--all in service to special interest groups (read corporations and major investors) whose eyes are forever focused on the bottom line no matter the social costs.

Unless Americans stand up and demand that their elected officials serve the public interest, we are all going to gain first-hand knowledge of what Michael Parenti has so vividly described in that Other world.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Crossing The Rubicon On Torture

Today the Senate completed the job begun by the House Wednesday in approving compromise legislation that gives the Bush administration the green light to reinterpret, i.e circumvent the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war. The Bush administration felt congressional cover was essential given the recent Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to prisoners held by the US at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and elsewhere. This ruling left senior members of the administration (including the President) vulnerable to future prosecution for war crimes. Our domesticated Congress, however, saw to it that Bush and his merry band of henchmen--the same dangerous reactionaries that have led our nation along its current path to pariah status-- will never be held accountable for their actions.

Where does this leave us? Will these controversial methods of interrogation--long in practice but now given a veneer of legitimacy--be effective in protecting the American public from acts of terror? Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky who would spend a dozen years in Soviet prisons, labor camps, and "psychiatric hospitals", for his human rights activities begs to differ.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Do You Feel Safe?

It has been rather amusing to watch the contortions the Bush administration has to go through in order to explain away the latest findings from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report that confirms what analysts had predicted prior to the invasion of Iraq. It was well understood by intelligence professionals at the time that Iraq would become a terrorist training camp following an unprovoked US attack on the country and they advised against it. These men and women, however, were told to "get with the program" or find other employment. And so, four years later here we are as William Blum so eloquently explains in his latest essay (25 Sep 06).

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Open Letter to Rue St Michel

Every now and then I need an amusing distraction to pass the time. Today I happened upon just the thing I had in mind. This particular nugget was generously provided by the Rue St Michel blog. In a post under the title "Nobel, No More" (18 Sep 06), the Ruester implies that Nobel laureates such as Bishop Desmond Tutu are hypocrites because they don't speak out enough about how things "really are" in South Africa today. This sort of thing is generally outside the scope of what I like to pay attention to, but it's in many ways instructive. It takes impressive discipline and dedication to discover such heretofore unknown suffering.

Notice how the Ruester completely ignores THIS during his hysterical rant.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sliding Down The Slippery Slope

Let's play a game of make-believe. Imagine if disgraced former Illinois governor George Ryan were an ally of his replacement, Governor Blagojevich. What would you think of our state legislators and the moral fiber of Gov.Blagojevich (suspend disbelief that he HAS moral fiber) if the Governor, with bi-partisan support, were to introduce legislation that granted Ryan immunity from prosecution for the crimes he committed by, in essence, rewriting the laws he violated then retroactively apply them to the former governor? Not very highly I imagine.

Journalist and author Robert Parry sketches out the details of a move in Congress to do just this very thing for the Bush administration. Currently, Bush's War on A Tactic has relied on polices that cannot be reconciled with the Geneva Conventions, i.e they are illegal. In a single stroke, his policies violate both international law and the U.S Constitution. In a functioning democracy, an independent national media would have long held this administration to account. Obviously such is not to be in the US.

No democracy can hope to survive if the public is denied access to information by which it can make informed decisions--not knee-jerk reactions to perceived threats based upon half-truths, sheer propaganda, or, in the case of US aggression in Iraq, a pack of lies.

Friday, September 22, 2006

False Witness As An Art Form

Today I received an e-mail from the people at Media Lens, a British based media watchdog organization that patterns itself after Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). FAIR was founded here in the US by Jeff Cohen 20 years ago after he came to the realization that the mainstream media, largely corporate owned subsidiaries, offered very little to the public that helped them to make informed decisions. On the contrary, much of what was presented as "news" upon careful examination was (and is) revealed to be clumsy propaganda serving powerful vested interests.

Media Lens, like its American counterpart, has consistently challenged the Bush/Blair administration fabrications regarding the justification for and consequences of the war in Iraq. They have restricted their focus, however, on the mainstream media, the party they believe most responsible for the tragedy that has unfolded in Mesopotamia. By not challenging the Bush administration's rationalizations for the "need" to attack an impoverished Third World country already staggering under crushing sanctions, the mainstream press added a veneer of legitimacy to the clear violation of international law. The American public swallowed it all, hook, line, and sinker due largely to a mainstream media that served as what Dennis Perrin of the RED STATE SON blog has called the Bush administration's pom pom squad.

The mainstream press has continued to betray the public with its coverage of the US/UK occupation and Media Lens provides a textbook example of how it works. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Maiden Voyage

Well this is day number one. I've burned more hours than I care to remember posting on the sites of others but never felt I'd have the time for a blog of my own. While I'm still somewhat pressed for time, I think I can make this work.

A little about myself and where I hope this blog is heading.

I am a husband and father who, for several years now, has made a living as a Chicago police officer. Obviously it would mean career suicide if I were to reveal my true identity for the department doesn't much care for opinionated talkative types. Furthermore, my politics are considerably to the left of the mainstream and my contempt for US foreign policy won't sit well with the flag-wavers on the force either.

The inspiration for this blog was provided by the guys over at Second City Cop blog who, to put it mildly, swing decidedly to the right of the political spectrum. I guess I dreamed this up as kind of a counterweight to some of the reactionary statements that regularly appear on that site. The Chicago Police Department's image has been taking enough of a beating lately, what with a new corruption scandal seemingly emerging every few months. The public's opinion of us couldn't be lower--until they get a glimpse into the minds of some of the troglodytes on Second City Cop blog. Having said that, I do not wish to imply that everyone there is in this category, however, there are enough of them to leave the impression that they are representative of the CPD and of law enforcement generally. They are not.

This blog is not intended to be about about police work, or what boss is screwing whom. To be perfectly frank, I rarely think about the job when I'm off duty. When I take off my uniform and put it in the locker, that's where I try to leave the job. I've had a lot on my mind but almost none of it concerns the department. I'm much more concerned with the direction of my country since 9/11. It seems I've been in a foul mood for some time now, and can trace it to 19 March 2003. That of course was the day the Bush administration launched its illegal war of aggression against a third world country which posed no threat to us, nor was a party to the 9/11 attacks. What I have often found frustrating among many of my colleagues is their indifference and/or ignorance of our government's deceptions in justifying wars of aggression, the violation of both the letter and spirit of our Constitution with warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, and the "unitary executive" theory of the ultra-nationalists in charge. I've posted some of these concerns on Second City Cop blog and for my efforts received the indignant vitriol I had pretty much expected.

Slowly it began to dawn upon me that just posting comments in response to the latest outburst from the Insane Clown Posse running Second City Cop blog, was unproductive and, given the quality of discourse, uninteresting. As Gordon Geko so famously said in the movie "Wall Street", Greed is Good. I wanted more.

What I would like to do here is introduce to our rather insular police culture, an alternative interpretation of world events that hasn't been put through what American dissident Noam Chomsky has called the "doctrinal filters" of the mainstream corporate media; that august body which of course served us so well as it unquestioningly swallowed all of the White House fabrications during the lead up to aggression in Iraq. Naturally I welcome a larger audience outside of the law enforcement community, but for now my primary focus is on those of us who "walk the line" so to speak. Any potential blowback from US adventuring abroad will be intimately felt by those of us in law enforcement. I am convinced that the subsequent legislation rammed through a pliant Congress and Senate would likely entail a significant loss of rights. Given the current mood of the country, which has cooled considerably to the Bush administration's "war on terror", resistance to further erosions of our liberty could be significant. As one of my ideological heroes Ben Franklin once said, "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither". I for one am not prepared to don jack-boots in service to a police state. How about you?

What I propose to do here is provide links to the work of independent journalists, intellectuals, and other writers who have heretofore been relegated to the margins. Their message doesn't "sell on Wall Street" so you are unlikely to hear from Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, John Pilger, Norman Finkelstein, or Alexander Cockburn on CNN and FOX. You will here.

I'll try my best to stay topical and the floor will be open for debate. I trust you will be patient with me (I still have to work full-time) as this work in progress evolves.