"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

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.