Sunday, November 2, 2008

Between Barack and a Hard Place:
My November 4th Conundrum

"Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon.
Going to the candidate's debate.
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose."
- Paul Simon


I have no illusions. I am no fool. I very much hope that Barack Obama is the next President of the United States of America. So what am I supposed to do this Tuesday when the people of this country (hopefully without much DieBold influence or voter caging) have a chance to choose their next leader? The knot in my stomach and the ache in my head are working against each other and I am at an impasse. So bear with me...I'm just trying to work my way through this stuff.

I have railed against the policies and positions of Barack Obama for a long time now - both here in this forum and in private conversations with friends - and made the choice not to cast a vote for him (or anyone) on Super Tuesday back in February. I have attempted to explain and justify my beliefs as best I could and have made a number of inflexible statements regarding my lever-pulling intentions come Election Day, among them:
"I could not and will not vote for Obama yesterday [in the New York Primary] or in the future (unless I am convinced otherwise)."

"I compromised my morals in 2004 and voted for John Kerry and I swore I'd never do that again."
and this:
"I will not be a complacent citizen, convincing myself that it is alright to support the inexcusable, picking from a short list of insiders because I think I have to in order to call myself a part of something bigger. Well, I am part of something bigger. A morality that forbids me from voting for someone who supports the occupation of Palestine, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential for a nuclear first-strike and not for reducing military spending and our own nuclear stockpiles. I will not. I will not. I will not."
If these sentiments seem to allow for wiggle room and plausible future deniability, I even made things easy for myself by declaring, quite simply, "I can not and will not vote for him."

So why might I be having a change of heart this late in the game, allowing for an eleventh hour, fourth quarter, ninth inning, two-minute warning, sudden death substitution of voting intention? The answer is anything but cerebral or nuanced:

I hate John McCain and Sarah Palin so fucking much, it makes me physically ill, violently furious, and literally frightened for the rest of the world.

Does this mean I support Barack Obama and Joe Biden? Absolutely not. Quite the contrary, actually. The more I think about what they stand for, believe in, and promote for the future of this country, the more convinced I am that I can not vote for their ticket on Tuesday. And herein lies my dilemma. How do I vote against McCain without voting for Obama? Is this even possible? Let's see...

A vote for a Third Party or truly progressive candidate with no chance whatsoever of winning the election is not a vote against a major party candidate who has a chance of becoming president. The vote is certainly important in its own right, but won't have any impact upon the actual outcome of this election. Using this logic, a vote for Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader, despite completely agreeing with their policies and worldview, is not a vote against John McCain and Sarah Palin; in fact, a strong argument can be made that a vote for anyone except Obama actually helps the McCain cause (though this argument really loses steam if made in New York, which will go to Obama no matter what).

A vote against the Republican ticket can be achieved in only one viable way: by voting for the Democratic ticket. This means making the choice not to vote for someone whose policies I actually agree with, in order to vote against someone whose policies I vehemently oppose.

So, how do I vote for something I believe in, namely real change and truly progressive politics, and also vote against the establishment candidates that seek to further erode civil liberties, deny human rights, destroy the planet, and further expand an aggressive, oppressive, and obviously failing modern empire? Unfortunately, I can't have it both ways. And I recognize that. But it doesn't make the choice any easier. I have to choose between voting for a candidate that I support and voting against candidates that I despise and who I believe are dangerous. Those options are indeed mutually exclusive.

suffragium fero ergo sum

While many people would agree that a ballot cast for an Independent or Green Party candidate is a wasted vote, there are strong arguments to be made for the opposite view. A vote for a progressive candidate is a vote against the historic dominance of the two party system. I believe in what Cynthia McKinney stands for. She has called for the impeachment of US war criminals and the investigation of 9/11. She truly believes in universal human rights, not just the rights of Americans and their supposed allies. She has an outstanding record and would be a real force of change in this country (not in the way that Obama is pretending to be). I agree with her in my head and heart and truly want her to be the next president. She will not be. But does that mean a vote for her is a wasted vote when it is a true expression of whom I support. If a vote against two party rule is a "waste" and "doesn't make a dent" in our political environment, how can any vote for the status quo be a vote for change? As Robert Weitzel, contributing editor to Media With a Conscience, passionately points out,
The corporate-controlled political system in our country is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans who time and again waste their votes on two parties with track records for little more than self-preservation, corrupt-crony politics and for not making a “dent”...unless, of course, it’s to total the entire country.

The campaigns of Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney are not the acts of spoilers or vanity candidates. They are the acts of third party candidates struggling for the magical 15 percent that will allow them to challenge the hegemony of the Democratic and Republican parties in televised debates viewed by over 70 million voters. They are the acts of American citizens who believe it is a constitution rather than a corporate charter that is the governing document of our Republic.

Nader and McKinney are not naïve enough to think they’ll need to keep millions of donors’ dollars in reserve for their inaugural balls. They are campaigning for something more important than the presidency. They are campaigning to bring about systemic changes in the “politics as usual” in America. They are campaigning to redeem Abraham Lincoln’s “radical” ideal of an American “government of the people, by the people, and for [ALL] the people.”
I agree with this. The cause is noble and necessary. Yes, I want to fight against the absurdity of the two-pronged one party system in this country and open up the field to a more democratic exchange of ideas. But I also really really really want to vote against John McCain and, again, a vote for Nader or McKinney is not a vote against McCain, but rather a vote against both McCain and Obama collectively. A vote against both Democrats and Republicans, while absolutely the right thing to do in most or all cases, does not help John McCain lose. And I really want him to lose.

The choice may come down to the issue of an "imminent threat." I certainly believe that a McCain/Palin administration (I just vomited a little in my mouth) is more of a threat to the rest of the world than an Obama/Biden administration (pounding headache). Therefore, it is probably a good idea to protect the planet against an inevitable and speedy doom in favor of certain destruction that may be staved off for a bit longer. In other words, it might be a better idea to grab a bucket, ineffectual as it may be, rather than a fiddle while Rome continues to burn to the ground around you. Emphasis on the might. As Malcolm X once said, "You don't stick a knife in a man's back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you're making progress."

I want desperately to vote against John McCain and Sarah Palin. I want to vote against racism in this country and, more specifically, the staggeringly ignorant and xenophobic campaign that they have run and continue to encourage. I want them to suffer an unparalleled and humiliating defeat on Tuesday. I want their campaign to be forever remembered and referenced with contempt, disgust, and horror. I want their crushing loss to signal the waning influence of neo-conservative thought upon this country's foreign policy. I want the religious right to be blamed for sinking the GOP. I want John McCain to spend the last days of his offensive and dishonest life knowing he blew it, obsessing over his VP selection and his inability to ever surpass the achievements of his father and grandfather, being mocked and sneered at in the halls of Congress, maligned in the press, and denounced by his own despicable political party. I want Sarah Palin to cry herself into a champagne-and-shame-induced coma in an empty bathtub with a leaky faucet, all the while rebuking witchcraft in barely audible mumbles and blaming the Python spirit for her myriad failures.

That's what I want. In order to have played some role (however minor and insignificant) in achieving those goals, I would have to vote for Barack Obama.

To add to my growing list of "wants," I must mention that I want to want to vote for Barack Obama. Our personal histories share many common elements; in many ways, he is the viable candidate I've been waiting for and eagerly anticipating for my entire adult life. But I feel constantly betrayed by Barack Obama. I am consistently disappointed in Barack Obama. I am often offended by the words and actions of Barack Obama.

The Looming Power of FISA

He is a constitutional scholar who refused to pursue the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, despite their numerous and well-known crimes and misdemeanors, and he voted for the renewal of the unconstitutional Protect American Act (which he voted against last year), thereby compromising FISA legislation, supporting warrantless eavesdropping and spying, and approving retroactive immunity for companies that willfully broke the law and curtailed the civil liberties and right to privacy that are enshrined in the founding document of our nation. There seems to be no real explanation for Obama's reversal on this, especially after his claim in February that he whole-heartedly supports the "fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry," continuing, "Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens -- and set an example to the world -- that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America –- no one is above the law." And then he voted to put phone companies above the law and ignored constitutional law when it was convenient for his campaign.

Foreign Policy without Legality or Humanity

Barack Obama not only wants to increase military spending, but also wishes to expand the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marine Corps by 27,000. Time and again, he and his running-mate Joe Biden have vowed to "hunt down and kill" Osama bin Laden. Kill. Elected officials running for the highest post in the land, if not the world, and they are threatening to kill someone? Isn't this country supposed to be the "peacekeeper," laughable though that concept may be considering this nation's actual history? Isn't our country built on laws? How does extrajudicial murder and revenge killing become military policy? How about promising the American people to bring bin Laden to justice? How about renewing our trust in the power of the courts, domestic and international, rather than promoting foreign policy based on vigilantism?

He promises to "end the war [sic] in Iraq" but vows to leave at least 50,000 US occupation forces and the largest embassy/fort in the world in place in order to fight residual terrorism in the country. The troops removed from Iraq will be redeployed in Afghanistan in order to ensure many more civilian casualties and the growth of an even more justifiably anti-imperial resistance to counter the enhanced American hegemonic overtures. Obama has threatened to carry out more military strikes within the borders of Pakistan, despite this being an unquestionable breach of international law, in an effort to further promote American exceptionalism when it comes to, well, everything. Not only has the Bush administration already taken cues from Obama's suggestion that "actionable intelligence" justifies the bombing of a sovereign country , but it is clear that the American people believe that the subsequent murder of innocent people by battery-operated slaughter drones to be, while perhaps regrettable, both unavoidable and easily forgivable. We have heard nothing from Obama regarding the recent US raid in Syrian territory, which blithely violated international law and deliberately targeted civilians. This attack deliberately tested the newly expanded tenets of the already illegal Bush Doctrine, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined yesterday. At this point, the United States reserves the "right" not only to unilaterally attack any state or group that it believes is a threat or is supporting a potentially threatening organization, borders, proof, and rule of law be damned, but has also ominously argued that Washington should expand the doctrine of pre-emptive war to include possible nuclear strikes. Preemptive nuclear war! Remember, Robert Gates may even be asked to remain as Defense Secretary in an Obama cabinet.

Joe Biden, meanwhile, has proven himself to know little about foreign policy, during the VP debate with Sarah Palin in early October. Despite that being his apparent strength and area of expertise, Biden, a proponent of the Iraq War, said, "With regard to Iraq, I gave the president the power [in the October 2002 Iraq War Resolution]. I voted for the power because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the United States, the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted." Foreign policy expert Stephen Zunes tells us,
This was perhaps the most seriously misleading statement of the entire debate.

Palin correctly countered with the fact that "it was a war resolution." Indeed, the resolution supported by Biden explicitly stated that "the president is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate." Biden certainly knew that.

It's also hard to imagine that Biden actually believed Bush's claim that it was necessary to "keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted." There was absolutely no serious effort in the UN or anywhere else at that time to lift any sanctions against Iraq in a manner that could have conceivably aided Iraq's ability to make war, develop "weapons of mass destruction," or in any other way strengthen Saddam Hussein's regime.

It's particularly disturbing that a man who may well be the next vice president seems to think that the United States has the right to try to "to keep the UN in line." The United States is legally bound - by a signed and ratified international treaty pursuant to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution - to provisions of the UN Charter. And the charter prohibits wars of aggression, such as the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The UN's job is to keep nation-states in line regarding international law, which the Iraq War - made possible in part through Biden's vote in support its authorization - was one of the most serious and blatant violations since the world body's establishment in 1945.

In any case, at the time of the Iraq War resolution, the UN had for well over a decade imposed the most comprehensive disarmament regime in history and had already successfully disarmed Iraq of its biological and chemical weapons; its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs; and its long-range delivery systems. Furthermore, at the time of the resolution and as a result of pressure from the UN, Iraq had already agreed to the return of UN inspectors under strict modalities guaranteeing unfettered access to confirm Iraq's disarmament. As a result, Biden's belief that the United States had to "keep the UN in line" is indicative of his contempt for the UN Charter and the post-World War II international legal order, thereby raising serious questions regarding Obama's judgment in choosing him as his running mate.
Additionally, Biden opposes democratic elections in Middle Eastern countries (namely the popular and completely legal West Bank election of Hamas), when the results can not be pre-determined to be pro-US, a dangerous position for an elected official to have as it attempts to rob people of their legitimate voice. He also believes that Hezbollah was kicked out of Lebanon by the US and France, prior to the Israeli attack in 2006, claiming that he and Obama urged NATO action to fill the power vacuum. This is not true, not a single word of it, nor is Biden's claim that Hezbollah and Hamas are proxies of Iran; both parties, despite receiving financial support from the Islamic Republic, follow their own agenda. Biden has said, "I've forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know," and I'm certainly inclined to agree.

MASTURDEBATION!
All the Candidates Agree: Country First
(...but which country?)


"I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on."
- Sarah Palin, to Joe Biden 10.02.08


From watching both the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates and campaigns, it is clear that pledging undying and unwavering fealty to the State of Israel is par for the course for any major candidate running for office in the United States. But to go to such lengths in order to fawn and drool and proclaim "love" for another country, especially one that was created unjustly by imperial will, Western guilt, terrorism, displacement, land theft, and ethnic cleansing is downright creepy and inexcusable. Denying the rights and self-determination of Palestinians and refusing to acknowledge that occupation encourages resistance appears to be a surefire way to get votes in the Jewish American community. Barack Obama, with his scary foreign-sounding name (personally, I think a name like David Ben-Gurion is as scary as you can get) and his VP pick, the self-proclaimed Zionist Joe Biden, have worked very hard over the course of their campaign to espouse as much pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian rhetoric as they can muster.

Also, these days, commitment to Israel's "security" apparently means planning an unprovoked attack on Iran, a country which has threatened no military action against any other country in centuries. The term "second Holocaust" has been flying around more often than "spread the wealth around," "domestic terrorist," "reform," and is a close third behind "my friends," and "maverick." It seems that the entire country, as evidenced by the Obama's recent New York Times endorsement, has succumbed to the rampant lies that Iran is working on nuclear weaponry with the explicit intention to destroy the Israeli people. Clearly, constant repetition and propaganda yields results. Not only does American foreign policy, as dictated by Secretary Gates, enable and allow for illegal attacks on another country, potentially with nuclear weapons, but Obama's own troubling rhetoric seems aimed at beginning a war against Iran. Obama has constantly stated that he believes that, despite Iran having zero nuclear weapons or intention to attack any other country, "there is no greater threat to Israel – or to the peace and stability of the region – than Iran," continuing to claim without any proof that Iran "supports violent extremists," wrongly repeats that President Ahmadinejad "threatens to wipe Israel off the map," and stating that "the danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat." As a quick refresher: Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons, the full military and financial support of the most powerful nation on Earth, and has consistently, in its six decade history, threatened and attacked its neighbors and denied human and civil rights of an occupied native population and many of its own citizens.

The stage is already set, the foundation laid by the Bush administration and the presidential debate talking points, for the invasion of more Middle Eastern countries. And Barack Obama is doing nothing to curb the militarism and threats of this country. In fact, by all accounts, he is eager to march into new invasions and new occupations with deadlier weapons, fewer allies, and weaker rationale than we've had over the past eight years. And that's saying a lot.

War More Years, War More Years!

Despite the surprising, and welcome, shelving of House Con.Res. 362, a recent OpEd in the Washington Post, co-written by two conservative ex-senators, one Democrat and one Republican, suggests the United States immediately prepare to launch "a devastating strike on Iran's nuclear and military infrastructure" in order to prevent, by any and all means necessary, Iran from obtaining or being able to rapidly assemble a nuclear weapon. Setting aside the unequivocal findings of the NIE and IAEA which have concluded that Iran's nuclear program is not only wholly legal (as they are a signatory to the NPT, something which can't be said about such nuclear weapon stockpilers such as Israel, India, and Pakistan) but also that the program is for well-needed peaceful, civilian use, rather than for weaponry or bombs. In fact, not only has the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared that "Iran is no threat to anyone," but has also said that "using nuclear weapons is against Islamic rules. We will not impose the costs of building and maintenance of nuclear weapons on our people. Our explosive source is the power of our faith." Meanwhile, the new OpEd, as well as the oft-repeated bellicose rhetoric of US officials, generals, and Congressmen, blatantly threatens Iran with financial blockades and military attacks, stating that "an initial air campaign would probably last up to several weeks and would require vigilance for years to come."

So what does all this have to do with Obama? Well, the OpEd was written by Chuck Robb and Dan Coats and used, as the basis of their argument, a new report authored by war-mongering ideologues from the Bipartisan Policy Center - apparently attacking another Middle Eastern nation is something politicians of all stripes can agree on. Rob and Coats were also advised by an eleven member panel which included - here's the important part - Barack Obama's Middle East advisor Dennis Ross. Ross, an AIPAC loyalist and supporter of the invasion of Iraq, has had a profound influence on Obama's foreign policy (he co-authored the candidate's infamous AIPAC speech back in June) and has, more recently, been traveling around Florida, shul by shul, to promote Obama to worried Zionists. Speaking with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz in October, Ross, who co-founded the AIPAC-sponsored Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is currently the chairman of a new Jerusalem-based think tank, the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute which is funded and founded by the Jewish Agency, reassured tentative readers with these comforting words:
Preventing Iran from going nuclear is a very high priority for him [Obama], not only because it's such a threat to Israel, but because it's such a threat to the United States.

On the question of Israel, I talk about what I saw during his trip to Israel, how I saw his understanding of the relationship with Israel - he would describe it as a commitment of the head and heart. He looks at Israel and sees us as being two countries with common values [subjugation of a native population, land theft, occupation, segregation, disenfranchisement, and extrajudicial killings? - LB]. But he also looks at Israel and sees that whatever threatens Israel also happens to threaten the United States. So we have a [common] interest, because we end up facing the same threats.
If Barack Obama is such a transformative figure, such a beacon of hope and change, why is he getting foreign policy advice from a hawkish Zionist who has held prominent roles in the Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton administrations? Ross, along with such visionaries as Alan Keyes, Scooter Libby, and Paul Wolfowitz, helped define and carry out Reagan's foreign policy goals. This is not some silly attempt to link Obama with nefarious cronies whom the media dubs dangerous - no, no, this is a real connection, an advisor to the campaign and someone who will very likely hold a high-level position in the Obama administration. If this is the kind of person Barack Obama is getting his information and advice from, then what are we really in for over the next four years? By the same token, why would cross-party endorsements from the likes of Christopher Buckley and Christopher Hitchens, let alone one from Colin Powell, whose egregious lies did much to strengthen support for the illegal US invasion of Iraq, be tauted as a positive by Obama's campaign? To me, these connections are far more dubious than William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi, three people who strive passionately for social justice.

Astoundingly, or perhaps obviously, I would support Barack Obama if what his detractors were saying about him were actually true; that is, if he were an Arab-sympathizer, Palestinian rights-activist, UN-loving, peacenik socialist, diplomacy-whore citizen of the world, with close ties to the Weather Underground and the Electronic Intifada, whose election foretells the "death of Israel" (politically, not violently) and the end of American hegemony. But he's not. Not even close. He's a left-leaning centrist, at best, with many neo-liberal economic, imperialist and exceptionalist ideals. He's an all-star panderer who has no qualms about abandoning long-time friends at the behest of a rabid media and opposition propaganda.

Even running-mate Joe Biden has been clear that a President Obama wouldn't be some peace-seeking, progressive pansy, going so far as anticipating a new 9/11, "an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy" within the first six months of his inauguration. "I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden continued, mentioning Russia and Middle Eastern countries as possible culprits. "We're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right.” Alexander Cockburn of Counterpunch wonders, "What exactly is Biden hinting at in that last sentence? From the context of that whole paragraph it’s clear enough to me he’s suggesting that despite hopes that post-Bush/Cheney America might backpeddle from hasty military confrontations, President Obama will stand tall and lose no time in going eyeball to eyeball with those who would test his resolve....So don’t write off that attack on Iran quite yet. On Iran Obama is more hawkish than McCain; on Afghanistan and Pakistan too."

Also, let's not forget that Obama was quoted as telling Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he is eager to meet with Iranian diplomats in order to lay down the law and issue ultimatums. "If after that, they still show no willingness to change their nuclear policy, then any action against them would be legitimate," Obama said.

Whoopty-doo.

Joe The Plumber vs. Barack The President

So far, the strongest argument for voting for Obama on Tuesday has been seeing video clips of McCain/Palin faithfuls, frothing at mouth in their support of the Keating Five war criminal and the moose-killing Creationist, spewing ignorance and racism with every word. Yes, there is a clear distinction between the two major party candidates; one is worse than the other. One of these two guys will win the election. One of these guys will be the next president of the United States. But does that mean I can't rather one of these guys win and vote against both of them?

Then again, is it disingenuous for me to sit on the edge of my seat, watching the returns with bated breath and begging the people of this country to bestow the world with an Obama victory, without having cast a vote for him that day?

But wait, what's more disingenuous: Voting for someone I agree with most (if not all) of the time, who opposes the worst in this troubled nation of ours, or voting for someone whom I disagree with much of the time and who does not represent substantive change for this nation, but is merely a "better" choice than the worst this country has to offer, embodied in both John McCain and Sarah Palin? Look, I want to be surprised. I want to be wrong about what I fear will happen. I hope all my friends are right about Obama and that things in this country and the world will change (for the better). Maybe the best I can hope for is to be convinced by four years of potentially better leadership that I should vote for Obama's reelection in 2012.

I once wrote, "I just want to be able to go to sleep knowing that I did not support someone whom I don't support." So what should I do? Vote for the symbol? Vote for what I actually believe in? Maybe I should take a cue from Frederick Douglass, who wrote,
I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.
Thanks Mr. Douglass, I think I know what to do.

*****

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Don't Call Me Bigot, Whitey

A few days ago, I was unlucky enough to read one of the horribly racist and offensive Obama-bashing emails that have been traversing the cybertubes and scaring ignorant Americans into fearing big bad Barack because his name is typed out in close proximity to the bogus term "Muslim male extremist."

Needless to say, it made me furious. Frustrated with the rampant racism of America and demonization of "the other," I decided to pen a response, in the style of the original, that speaks to fears of a nation and encourages learning from history. Whom should we really fear and how should that influence our vote come November 4th?

To read the original email, click here.

Here's my reply:

READ THIS PEOPLE, DON'T BE BLIND.

I knew there was something I didn't like now I know what it is. If you plan on voting, read this first.


This is not a matter of opinion. Opinions are subjective. These are facts.

My personal opinion? I agree with facts because they're factual.

If after reading this email you disagree, please, feel free to reply back to me. Your opinion is yours and that's fine, but you should be able to justify it, don't you think?

*******************************

A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine that America can inflict horrific damage upon the rest of the world without any facing any consequences.

Moreover, there seems to be a whole lot of fear-mongering going around these days, exploiting the xenophobia, racism, mistrust and misunderstanding of "the other," and the cultural and ethnosupremacy of many white Americans, who are the descendants of European Christians.

So, please, pause a moment, reflect back.

These events are actual events from history.

They really happened!!!

Do you remember?

1. 1095-1291: The Crusades, a series of religiously-motivated military campaigns with the intent of brutally conquering and claiming the Holy Land and fought primarily against Muslims, were waged by white Christian men. Death toll: 3-5 million human beings.

2. 1478-1834: The Spanish Inquisition, a bloody effort to create a politically and religiously homogeneous kingdom wrested from the hands of Muslims and Jews through forced conversion, censorship, repression, and torture, was sanctioned and carried out by white Christian men. Death toll: 32,000 human beings.

3. Over the course of four hundred years, beginning in the fifteenth century, witch hunts led by white Christian men were responsible for the deaths of about 60,000 human beings.

4. 1562-1598: For thirty-six years, religious battles were waged in France among different factions of white Christian men. Death toll: 2-4 million human beings.

5. 1618-1648: The Thirty Years War, also fought among conflicting factions of white Christian men, cost the lives of about 7 million human beings.

6. 1803-1815: The Napoleonic Wars, immediately following the French Revolutionary Wars, had a death toll of upwards of 6 million human beings and were waged by white Christian men.

7. 1415-1914: Over the course of five centuries, white Christian men consistently, compulsively, and competitively conquered and colonized the majority of five continents, in an effort to expand economy, exploit resources, subjugate native populations, and exert unabashed hegemony, imperialism, and chauvinism upon the non-European world.

8. The conquest of the New World by European explorers, beginning in earnest in 1492, led to the systematic and deliberate genocide of over 100 million human beings, an unspeakable act of ethnic-cleansing in the name of Manifest Destiny and perpetrated by white Christian men.

9. 1500-1880: The African Slave Trade in the Americas was responsible for forcibly removing over 24 million human beings from their homes. Fewer than 50% survived the trip to the New World and spent the rest of their lives in brutal bondage. This abhorrent crime against humanity was funded, executed, promoted, and fought for by white Christian men.

10. Over the course of 150 years, beginning in 1770, the indigenous population of Australia (who had lived sustainably on their own land for over 40,000 years) was all but wiped out, due to colonization, violent re-settlement, disease, and cultural disintegration inflicted by white Christian men.

11. Even after the abolition of slavery in the United States, Jim Crow Laws that limited or denied the civil rights and liberties of minority groups were in place for almost a century, until 1965. This legalized racism, segregation, and the paradoxical bigotry of the "separate but equal" doctrine were conceived and enforced by white Christian men.

12. 1899-1902: U.S. Marines slaughtered over a million Filipino civilians, as a result of the American occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, one of the first imperial exercises of the United States government, which was controlled (as always) by white Christian men.

13. 1938-1945: Well over 30 million civilians were killed by the Nazis and Fascists during World War II, an estimated 12 million of those in concentration camps. Who's to blame for this genocide? Yup, white Christian men.

14. February 13-15, 1945: In an unjustified and unnecessary series of air raids, the U.S. and British Air Forces dropped about 4,000 tons of bombs on the city of Dresden, destroying about 13 square miles and at least 30,000 human beings. Who gave the orders? White Christian men.

15. August 6 & 9, 1945: After six months of devastating firebombing of almost 70 other cities, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing the deaths of over 220,000 human beings. These criminal acts of civilian murder, and the only attacks using nuclear weaponry in the history of the world, were carried out by an executive order by a white Christian man.

16. For over 40 years, beginning in 1948, the Apartheid system in South Africa legally dictated the domination of one race over all others via institutionalized discrimination and segregation that affected citizenship, identity, freedom of movement, living locations and conditions, marriage, education, employment, and health care. As in the U.S., people of different races were prohibited from using the same restaurants, restrooms, and swimming pools. This violation of human rights, with its wholesale contempt and rejection of equality, freedom, and justice, was enacted, supported, and administered by white Christian men.

17. Between 1950 and 1975, militaries led by white Christian men caused the deaths of over 7 million civilians in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Over 2.5 million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos and Cambodia alone, more than double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany and about 14 times the number dropped on Japan during WWII.

18. Since 1893, the sovereign governments of Hawaii, Cuba, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil, Greece, Iran, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chile, Grenada, and Panama, among many others have been overthrown by U.S. government and CIA-supported coup d'etats, incited by white Christian men.

19. Since its creation in 1865, the Ku Klux Klan has advocated white supremacy and violently supported their racist agenda with intimidation, lynching, murder, terrorism, and hate speech. At its peak, the Klan boasted over 4 million members, all of whom were (and still are) white Christian men.

20. The recent illegal and immoral invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, including atrocities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, bombings of wedding celebrations, massacres in Haditha and Mahmudiyah, and the Blackwater shootings in Baghdad, committed by and the behest of white Christian men, have cost the lives of well over a million human beings and have displaced over 3 million others.

21. Assassins John Wilkes Booth and Charles Guiteau, serial killers Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer, dictators Augusto Pinochet and Francisco Franco, terrorists Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh, bigots Billy Graham, James Hagee, Rush Limbaugh, and David Duke, cult leaders Jim Jones and David Koresh, as well as every single U.S. President and Vice President in history have all been white Christian men.

Clearly, there's a pattern here. As a result, I think all Americans should be very wary of electing another leader of such dubious character and affiliation.

The next U.S. President will be the commander-in-chief of the most active and most expensive military on the planet. The U.S. spends over $600 billion dollars a year on its military, more than the rest of the world combined (Our nearest competitor, China, spends one-tenth what we do). The U.S. sells more weapons to other countries than any other nation, has more than 700 military bases in 130 countries around the world and over 6000 bases in the U.S. and U.S.-controlled territories.

Would you want to place this devastating amount of power in the hands of another white Christian man?

Have the American People completely lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason?

Also, in response to the bogus claims of the "Book of Revelations" prophecy...

The ridiculous statement, as repeated in numerous e-mail forwards attempting to link Barack Obama's popularity to the end of the world, is as follows:

"The Anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40's, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal....the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, he will destroy everything."
Ok, just some simple corrections:

1. There is no "Book of Revelations" in the Bible. It's called the "Book of Revelation." Singular.

2. Nowhere in "Revelation" is the word "Anti-Christ" mentioned.

3. There is also no mention of a man in his 40's (or of any age for that matter).

4. The mention of a "Muslim" is clearly absurd considering Islam (and thus the term Muslim) was a religion founded in the early 7th Century, about five hundred years after the New Testament was written. Nice try, idiots.

5. The subsequent descriptions of the so-called Anti-Christ are found nowhere in the Book of Revelation. They are pieced-together ideas from disparate parts of the Bible, taken completely out of context, and filtered heavily through End Times theology and Rapture mythology.

Basically, the whole thing is made up. Kudos, racists.

It would behoove all those flag-waving church-over-state patriots to remember the words of our founding father Thomas Jefferson, from his Notes on Virginia:
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites."
Too wordy? Maybe this other Jefferson quote sums it up better:
"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
And what about this gem from Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason:
"Of all systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity."

There you have it. Amen.

********************************

So, hey, if you've gotta vote on November 4th, it's safer to vote against the white guy. Those fuckers are dangerous.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great Pander, The Racist Schlep:
Fighting Racism with More Racism

Is a youth movement that attempts to bring truth and tolerance to its elders actually encouraging the deep-rooted bigotry of the very population it is hoping to influence? Can the movement’s good intentions be undermined by its own unconscious racism?

As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha!"

The last several weeks have seen a growing mobilization on the part of the Jewish Council for Education and Research and its election year pet project JewsVote to get out a pro-Obama elderly Jewish vote in the Sunshine State come November 4th. It's called The Great Schlep and is, as its own website states, aimed at having "Jewish grandchildren visit their grandparents in Florida, educate them about Obama, and therefore swing the crucial Florida vote in his favor." The grassroots campaign is supposedly focused on discrediting false information, allaying undue fear, and dispelling mudslung mythologies about the Junior Senator from Illinois.

Unfortunately, The Great Schlep's seemingly noble concept, whimsical Yiddish name, and immensely popular endorsement video by comedienne Sarah Silverman hides a disappointing truth. Not only are many of the grandparents of self-described progressive Jews apparently extremely racist, xenophobic, and ill-informed, but their grandchildren, who are signing on to this project in droves, are hardly any better informed - they just think they are.

The Great Schlep is explicitly Rovian in its desire to exploit cultural bias in a coordinated effort to manipulate a specific demographic to vote a certain way come election time. It makes no attempt to dismantle the general racist ideologies of certain elderly Jews or to actually disseminate any factual information or analysis beyond simple ethnocentric bullet points. The tact of appealing to the lowest common denominators of Jewish and American exceptionalism and extreme Zionist jingoism is troubling and does a great disservice to the project's mantra of education, truth-telling, and myth-debunking.

According to its own helpful Talking Points guide, aimed at facilitating a discussion with one's elders by having fun facts at the ready, The Great Schlep's Weltanschauung is that of noble American imperialism and hegemony, frightening and untrustworthy schwartzes, evil Arab terrorists, and Israeli righteousness - essentially the exact world view shared by the ignorant "Country First" crowd. Pandering to the fears and racist beliefs of this segment of the population, even in order to swing a vote from the inevitable Fascism of a McCain administration to the slightly better pseudo-Fascism of an Obama administration, is dishonest and serves only to solidify and further enable the offensive ideologies of a misinformed community.

These Talking Points, as well as Silverman's video clip, are awash with pandering statements and arguments, made-to-order for a discussion based on incorrect assumptions and oft-repeated lies, all which carefully (and purposefully) side-step the underlying issues of whether or not the assumptions themselves are false and racist. The Great Schlep, in a bombshell, affirms American (not only elderly Jewish) racism while attempting to project Barack Obama as "one of us" rather than the scary and unpredictable "one of them." Obama is shown to be a friend to the Jews, intent on blindly supporting Israel, a black man cut from a whiter cloth than those radical activists who fought for equal rights and the abolition of segregation. Obama is presented as safe and palatable for an audience (and citizenry) who prefers white American and Jewish superiority to continue to dominate the globe, while avoiding criticism, resistance, or outrage. The Great Schlep is designed not to promote Obama's unifying strengths over racial and divisions, but instead to fit Obama's political platforms and statements into an already established racist framework. Rather than demonstrating Barack's ability to transcend race, it proves that he can be just as racist as you are. At the bottom of some squalid cesspool in hell, George Wallace is laughing his ass off.

THE GOOD, THE BLACK, AND THE ZIONIST

According to The Great Schlep's organizers, the only type of black man fit for the highest office is one who will strengthen American hegemony, disassociate himself from the black community, and credit his success and the progress of the civil right movements to American Jews. Basically, this means a black guy who behaves like a Zionist white guy. This effort to whitewash Barack Obama's true ethnicity is evident in bullet points such as this one from the Talking Points memo:

Obama represents a different kind of black leadership, less interested in the confrontational tactics favored by many who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.
It is obvious that a community that idolizes Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ariel Sharon for promoting ethnic cleansing and selective democracy would shun or denounce the tactics of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Medger Evers and Bobby Seale that fought against discrimination, white supremacy, police brutality, and espoused a primarily socialist ideology? Perhaps Florida Jews should pay more attention to the Guess Who's Coming To Dinner style comments of self-described Zionist Joe Biden, who referred to Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

The Schlep's Talking Points, too, clearly point out that Barack Obama is a new breed of educated black man, someone different than Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright, one passive enough to ignore the glaring injustices in this country but will pledge undying fealty to Zionism and the oppression of foreigners, intent on "dramatically increas[ing] America’s influence with other nations" and unafraid to engage in "aggressive diplomacy coupled with a willingness to use force when necessary." Peaceful candidates need not apply. The language of violent nationalism and military intervention apparently speaks to those elderly folks who suffered from perhaps the most horrific ethnic oppression and racially-motivated genocide in modern history.

One of the very first issues for Schleppers to address with their racist elders, we are told, is that Barack Obama "is a Christian and has never been a Muslim." This frantic disassociation with one of the world's most popular religions is disgraceful and offensive. Sure, Obama and his supporters should correct the misperceptions, the simple truth being that, no, Obama is not a Muslim. But this McCarthy-esque statement, echoed emphatically on Obama's own website ("Obama is not and has never been a Muslim"), clearly reveals that being called a Muslim in the current American atmosphere is a "smear" tantamount to being a terrorist, an anti-Semite, and a threat to national security. Nowhere on the Schlep site (or on Obama's site for that matter) does it condemn the broad racism that underlies the statement in the first place. Jews, having been victims of the same kind of blind bigotry, should know better and not be at all susceptible to such racist propaganda. The Great Schlep’s perspective is that being a Muslim is a bad thing, something to be condemned and abhorred, a sign of anti-American and anti-Semitic treachery and malevolence. Whereas John McCain is rightly castigated for claiming that Arabs or Muslims are mutually exclusive of decent, family-oriented, or law-abiding American citizens, elderly Jews seem to get a pass on the same matter, as if the trauma of the Holocaust somehow justifies their anti-Islamic suspicions. For the record, let's just remember that absolutely none of the Germans in concentration camp watchtowers and at gas chamber controls were Arabs or Muslims. They were all Christians.

The xenophobia of both the grandparents and grandchildren involved in The Great Schlep is evident in the following statement by Sarah Silverman in her endorsement:
"You know why your grandparents don't like Barack Obama? Because his name sounds scary, it sounds Muslim, which he's obviously not. Yes, Barack Hussein Obama, it's a super fucking shitty name...The name Barack is a Hebrew word, it means lightening."
Not only does this blithely offensive statement demonstrate the lack of understanding and clarity of the Schlep, but it's also patently untrue. Obama's first name is not the same as the Hebrew word "barak," which does mean "lightening" (though, granted, they sound identical); it is a Swahili derivative ("baraka") of the Arabic word "bariki" meaning "blessing." Its Hebrew equivalent is actually the word "baruch." Sorry, Sarah, you should do your homework.

[Incidentally, Obama's own website feels the need to go one step further by asserting that the candidate's middle name is not Mohammed, a fact they repeat three times in quick succession, with no other explanation: "OBAMA'S MIDDLE NAME IS NOT MOHAMMED. Barack Obama's Middle Name Is Not Mohammed. Barack Obama's middle name is not Mohammed." Check it out, it's weird.]

The most important issue raised by the Schlep (under the Talking Points title: Obama ♥ Israel And So Do You) addresses the actual fears of Jewish retirees from Boca to Palm Beach: Is Barack Obama good for Israel? With this question should come a bevy of counter-queries, rather than a race to scream "Yes!" at the top of one's Zionist lungs. First, is what's good for the United States the same as what's good for Israel? And also, what exactly does "good" mean?

Realistically, can a history and institutionalized policy of genocide, displacement, illegal immigration, land theft, house demolitions, arbitrary incarceration, paramilitary violence, martial law, military conquest, colonial expansionism, occupation, apartheid, limiting freedom of movement, collective punishment, and a total disregard for international law or human rights of a native population be good for Israel?

There is little doubt that two illegal invasions and occupations, the use of private mercenary armies, unconstitutional domestic spying and wiretapping, offshore torture, extraordinary rendition, and an unwillingness to conduct genuine diplomacy with countries that won't backdown to American bullying and aggression has not been good for the United States. Just look at the damage it's done to the economy and our reputation around the world.

Do checkpoints, expanding settlements, segregated roads, and a separation barrier ensure the safety and security of the Israeli population? Is it not obvious that brutal occupation, rampant militarism, cultural destruction, and systematic dehumanization justifiably breed fear, anger, resentment, and resistance in the oppressed society? Shouldn't Jews, with their own tragic history, promote equality and human rights above all else, strive to create a unified society that values and rewards diversity, tolerance, and justice, and eschew fierce nationalism, cultural superiority, and racial exclusion at all costs?

But these questions are never asked. Israeli actions are assumed to be noble. US-backed and bankrolled military strength is paramount. Resistance groups and legitimate political parties like Hamas and Hezbollah are labeled "terrorist" entities. Iran is called an existential threat to the state, and the word “Palestinian” appears nowhere in the Talking Points. What is the result of these repetitive and spurious claims? The organizers and supporters of The Great Schlep become just another conservative mouthpiece, using the language of the Bush administration and the McCain campaign to promote American Empire and Israeli hegemony and reinforcing the long-established framework of dangerous US foreign policy and Zionist mythology. This is not the sort of change we should count on because, obviously, this is no change at all.

In her four-and-a-half minute YouTube presentation, Schlep-supporter Sarah Silverman asserts that "Jews are the most liberal, scrappy, civil-rightsy people there are. Yes, that's true, but you're forgetting a whole, large group of Jews that are not that way.” While she is clearly generalizing and referring only to Jewish septua-, octo-, and nonagenarians living out their twilight years in stubborn suspended animation, Silverman would be more accurate if she just said what the UN General Assembly stated back in 1975: Zionism, by its nature of exclusion, aggression, militarism, colonialism, and nationalism, is “a threat to world peace and security,” a “racist and imperialist ideology,” and “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Zionists, young or old, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, are racists.

The Great Schlep's intentions are clearly to sway a vitally important demographic in a key battleground state with a dubious voting history into favoring an obviously superior, more qualified and dignified candidate into the White House. But in its effort to assuage the damage done by McCain's negative rumor mill, the movement absentmindedly adopts the same hateful language and racist prejudice of the very campaign its attempting to defeat. In so doing, The Great Schlep utilizes racial stereotypes to undo others.

And, by legitimizing the hypocrisy of their Jewish elders, Schleppers feed the fires of Jewish nationalism and reaffirm the false and racist mythologies that plague much of the elderly Jewish community. Unfortunately, members of The Great Schlep don’t seek to teach old dogs new tricks, but rather to trick the old dogs into throwing them a bone.

*****

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Debate & Switch: A Palin v. Biden Preview

Are you going to watch the VP debate in order to learn about the candidates, or in order to see just how stupid Sarah Palin actually is and how badly Joe Biden can blow a perfect opportunity? Why has politics turned into a Real World/Road Rules challenge? Would the debate get better ratings if Biden was debating William Hung? How would Hung fair against the Alaska governor (no flutes allowed)?

The answer to all these questions is kill me.

In anticipation of tonight's sad entertainment (no, not The Joe Girardi Show on the YES Network), here's a quick run down of what we're all in store for:

mentions "diplomacy": 4

mentions "killing Bin Laden": 1

mentions "justice": 0



mentions "The Bridge to Nowhere": 1

begins sentences to nowhere: 16

mentions "hardworking Americans": 6



refers to various dark-skinned foreigners as "terrorists": 4

praises Israel: 2

scratches crotch/picks wedgie: 3



mentions "victory in Iraq": 5

refers to various dark-skinned foreigners as "terrorists," "evil-doers," "bad guys," and/or "people who wish us harm": 8

says that she'll "sure up" the economy: 3



repeats lie about Russia attacking Georgia: 2

stares in disbelief at his opponent's idiocy: 4

makes off-color, racist joke: 57



mentions "strong fundamentals": 2

mentions, but doesn't elaborate on, reform: 7

brings up freedom or 9/11: 9



lies about totally legal Iranian nuclear program: 2

lauds his own "good judgment": 4

mentions his affinity for Steeley Dan: 1



mentions Vladmir Putin (rearing head, optional): 2

is bewildered by straight-forward question and/or passes out: 24

says "Osama" instead of "Obama" accidentally on purpose: 1

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

No Country For Olmert?
A Rosh Hashanah Shocker: Carterizing the Wounds of Palestine

In order to actually achieve a realistic and substantive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, a top Israeli government official has conceded that a near-total withdrawal from occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories, encompassing West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, is the only viable solution to the seemingly intractable situation. He also admitted that the institutionalized militarization that permeates all of Israeli society is worthless and, in fact, destructive to any hopes for security in the region. He also called Israeli saber-rattling against a sovereign nation of 70 million people a symptom of Zionist megalomania and demonstrates a complete loss or lack of Israeli self-awareness.

So who is this left-wing, pinko nut job? Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Guh?

Yes, it's the year 5769 and it seems like the out-going Israeli Prime Minister might be taking the upcoming Yom Kippur atonement more seriously than ever. In an interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot on Monday, Ehud Olmert expressed regrets and ideas that, until now, have never been uttered by a prominent (if any) Israeli leader - let alone by the top executive. Whereas none of his comments during the so-called "legacy interview" could be viewed as a complete paradigm shift of policy (say, from a staunchly pro-Kadima, ethnic democracy, Eretz Yisrael stance to a progressive, humanitarian desire to see a viable, binational one-state solution prevail), the solutions and revelations opined by Olmert are profound nonetheless.

After a military and political life dedicated to Israeli supremacy, Palestinian subjugation, and the maintenance and expansion of an illegal settler society, Olmert's interview took a startlingly pragmatic approach to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In fact, he sounded more like post-Zionist peace activist and former Irgun militiaman and MK, Uri Avnery, than the political partner of militarized right-wing ethnic cleanser Ariel Sharon - sort of.

Olmert's comments are a departure (though not necessarily an about-face) from a strict policy of avoiding responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians and the lack of Israeli security held by most pro-Zionist Israeli hard-liners. His statements, as Time's Scott MacLeod puts it, "form a swan song of historical importance. Peace advocates, Israeli dreamers, Arab skeptics and U.S. mediators in a future McCain or Obama Administration should read his words carefully and take note."

Such vital final status issues such as settlements and Israeli infrastructure (illegal according to the UN, Geneva Conventions, and the International Court of Justice) and land-for-peace "compromises" were discussed candidly (from a two-state solution point of view, that is), with the Prime Minister revealing,"We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories, including in East Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights," adding, "We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace."

When pressed for a more specific indication of the territorial swap between the Israelis and Palestinians, were Israel to maintain control of major settlements on Palestinian land, Olmert said the exchange would have to be a "more or less one-to-one" ratio. This is certainly a shift towards reason, responsibility, and equality by an administration whose ideological doctrine is defined by the opposite.

Regarding the controversial (from the Zionist perspective only) issue of Jerusalem, Olmert revealed his (sudden?) realization that the Zionist fantasy of an undivided and ethnically cleansed capital of Israel is just that - a fantasy - saying,

"I am the first who wanted to enforce Israeli sovereignty on the entire city. I admit it. I am not trying to justify retroactively what I did for 35 years. For a large portion of these years, I was unwilling to look at reality in all its depth.

"Whoever wants to hold on to all of the city's territory will have to bring 270,000 Arabs inside the fences of sovereign Israel. It won't work.

"A decision has to be made. This decision is difficult, terrible, a decision that contradicts our natural instincts, our innermost desires, our collective memories, the prayers of the Jewish people for 2,000 years."
Perhaps more surprising were Olmert's comments regarding the Israeli obsession with its own military capabilities and strength. Of the military generals and strategists who seem content with the 60 year old policy of the methodical conquering of foreign land, violent displacement of the native population, and the establishment and defense of settlements and Israeli outposts, Olmert said, "With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop," adding, "All these things are worthless. Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the state of Israel's basic security?"

In reference to the previous Israeli threats of a unilateral and unprovoked assault on Iran, professed numerous times by Olmert himself, the Prime Minister dispelled the rumors as empty, bellicose rhetoric and admitted, "Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here [in Israel] about Iran. We are a country that has lost a sense of proportion about itself." Truer words have never been spoken - by an Israeli Prime Minister, at least. One must wonder if war criminal John McCain, upon hearing this, rolled over in his soon-to-be-grave, crying in disbelief that people might say what they mean, "Now, you don't do that. You don't say that out loud!"

So, wait, is Olmert going to join the ranks of organizations like B'Tselem and Gush Shalom? Of course not. Scott MacLeod explains,
"Olmert is no Arab-loving pacifist. As Prime Minister, he ravaged half of Lebanon in 2006 in a military offensive after Hizballah killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers. He has unmercifully turned the screws on Hamas-controlled Gaza. Olmert's comments reflect a profound shift toward realism among Israeli rightists, akin to what Palestinian and Arab nationalists started going through three decades ago, when Israel was in the prime of its strategic strength. The shift is evident not only in Olmert's prescription for a peace settlement, but also in his severe critique of a righteous Israeli mind-set that has turned out to be self-destructive.

"'Forty years after the Six-Day War ended, we keep finding excuses not to act,' Olmert says. 'We refuse to face reality ... The strategic threats we face have nothing to do with where we draw our borders.'"
Olmert even touched upon the issue of the Syrian Golan Heights, annexed and occupied by Israel since 1981, a move never legitimized by the international community. In reference to the "disputed" territory, Olmert said, "I'd like see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with the Syrians without eventually giving up the Golan Heights."

Maybe this is less of a surprise than it seems. As reported by Tim McGirk in Time, Olmert, in the last cabinet meeting of his tortured tenure as Israeli PM, "told his ministers that 'the notion of a Greater Israel no longer exists, and anyone who still believes in it is deluding themselves' — suggesting that Israel will have to give up settlements built outside its 1967 borders, often on the claim of a Biblical right, if its wants peace with the Arab world."

Also, as we recall, his commitment (in words, at least) to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is consistent and is based upon the fear that Israel may lose its "Jewish character," a racist notion central to the Zionist ideology. Last November, he warned during the Annapolis Conference that,
"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished."
He continued, "The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents," thereby tacitly (or maybe explicitly?) admitting that the 41-year old Israeli policy of occupation, separation, humiliation, and Jewish supremacy in the Palestinian Territories is, in fact, comparable - if not tantamount - to Apartheid.

MacLeod writes that Olmert's interview seems to admit his feeling "that Israel never went quite far enough in accommodating the Palestinians' basic requirements for peace," and that "the realism behind Olmert's change of heart is of tremendous import, summed up by one sentence: 'The international community is starting to view Israel as a future binational state.'"
"Echoing views he initially expressed in 2003, Olmert reasons that without an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the Jewish state faces the self-inflicted, mortal danger of being destroyed by demographics, overwhelmed by Muslim and Christian Arabs demanding political representation. Olmert fears that the international community could ultimately favor a one-state solution, thus spelling the death of the two-state partition that has been at the core of an acceptable Israeli-Palestinian solution for decades. "Time is not on Israel's side," Olmert says. "I used to believe that everything from the Jordan River bank to the Mediterranean Sea was ours ... But eventually, after great internal conflict, I've realized we have to share this land with the people who dwell here — that is, if we don't want to be a binational state."
In his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, former President Jimmy Carter states that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land." It appears that Ehud Olmert has finally come around to the Carter way of thinking. But why? An attack of conscience after a lifetime of racism? Are these the desperate words of a disgraced lame duck? Now that he's on his way out, after being maligned at home and abroad and having enjoyed worse approval ratings than even his moronic American counterpart (due mostly to the clear defeat of the Israeli military by Hezbollah during the 2006 war on Lebanon), maybe he just has nothing to lose. And when you've got nothing to lose, why not tell the truth, right?

"What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me," Olmert said frankly. "The time has come to say these things."

Unfortunately, Ehud, the time was when you were still in power and every single day for the past 41 years. As Walid Awad, a Fatah official who termed Olmert's remarks "excellent, but too late," adds, "If he believed in these things why didn't he do them when he was properly in office?"

*****

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Give Peace a Chancellor:
Nazi Zionist Youth Descend on UN to Demonize Iran

Yeah, it's been a while, but luckily for me and the rest of the world, during my time away from the blogosphere it seems that all our problems have been solved. Bush has been successfully impeached and exiled to an ailing oil rig in the hurricane-heavy Gulf of Mexico with only a Quantum Leap-like hologram in the form of Osama Bin Laden to keep him company; Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Condi have lost their second war-crimes appeal at the Hague and have been sentenced to an eternity of co-ed naked waterboarding by Iraqi and Afghani widows; Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba have collectively bailed out the US economic collapse and now own a controlling interest in our financial markets; the occupation and apartheid in Palestine has come to a sudden and peaceful end, with the unifying of Palestine/Israel into the new multicultural haven called Falastisrael and the overwhelmingly popular election of dual presidents Bassam Aramin and Yonatan Shapira, along with Ilan Pappe as acting prime minister (Olmert, Barak, Livni, and the comatose Sharon have been relocated to a poorly-supplied refugee camp in Sarah Palin's frozen tundra); in an unexpected turn, the American and Iranian national soccer teams have merged into one (albeit mediocre) super team and expect a strong showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Alas, none of these things has actually come to pass (though I do take solace knowing that human rights abuser and war criminal Ariel Sharon is still in a - hopefully nightmarish - coma) during my three month hiatus from cyber-whining. I have long been trying to get myself back into the blogging spirit, but besides such uninspiring post titles as Biden His Time and Beyond The Palin I haven't had much to say. Things seem particularly bleak these days - save that the Palin Bump seems to be subsiding a bit (and no, I don't mean the bastard child gestating inside Bristol "Jesus didn't use condoms either" Palin's jailbait womb) and the McCain campaign is turning more farcical and embarrassing by the minute. So that's the good news, I guess. What's the bad news, then? Everything else.

So why am I finally back? What could have possibly awakened me from my blogging slumber? Yup, you guessed it! Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is back in town for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly and with him returns the heightened ire of American xenophobes, misinformed dullards, and racist ethno-supremacists. Usually, the same old anti-Iranian rhetoric should be ignored (oh wait, have you seen my blog? nevermind), but I was unfortunate enough to witness first-hand what kind of war-mongering, hate-spewing, and hypocritical nonsense is used to promote Zionist idealism and pro-colonial mentalities, and it really fucking bothered me.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2008 - YOM LELO EMET

This past Monday morning, a new Jewish holiday was added to the Fall calendar of Yamim Noraim, already bursting with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. It's called Yom Lelo Emet, or "Without Truth Day," a festive celebration of intolerance dedicated to propagating egregious lies in order to demonize an elected world leader, an entire country, and by extension, an entire religion and its followers. Under the banner of the "Rally to Stop Iran Now," organized by a broad coalition of Jewish groups, such as the powerful Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the United Jewish Communities, the UJA, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, all manner of bellicose blowhards, young and old, came together on the midtown streets of New York City to symbolically burn a crescent on the lawn of the United Nations in anticipation of the Iranian President's General Assembly speech on Tuesday.

Coincidentally (or not), the rally took place on the 28th anniversary (to the day) of the beginning of the bloody Iran-Iraq War, when, as Cyrus Safardi of IranAffairs.com recalls, "Iraqi aircraft ineffectively attacked six Iranian air bases and four army installations." The very next day, on September 23, 1980, "Saddam Hussein's army crossed the border into Iranian territory in a four-pronged, six-division ground attack along a 400 mile front, igniting a war that was to last nearly eight years." In honor of this previous illegal, US-supported war against Iran, event organizers, speakers (including Nobel Prize winner Elie "I support Israel—period" Wiesel - for shame!), and attendees seemed intent on bolstering yet another aggressive strike almost three decades later. The vast turnout and collective attitude - the fierce support of a militarized society built upon ethnic supremacy and the brazen confidence of righteous conviction - would have made Leni Riefenstahl beam with unbridled glee.

I decided to skip out of work for a bit to head uptown and see what all the fuss was about. As I walked West from First Avenue on 48th Street, I never could have imagined what was in store for me one block away. I've never been to a Klan meeting in Alabama and wasn't privy to the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, but I assume this was similar: tens of thousands of enthusiastic bigots, waving signs, flags, and banners bearing ethno-supremacist mantras and racist ideologies against the "other" and framing themselves as perpetual victims of injustice and oppression. Especially striking and disillusioning was the vast number of blustering teenage Zionists and Zionettes, all smiles and brainwash - a veritable American Gadna - prancing up and down the sidewalk, yelling vile invective at passers-by who might not want to bomb an innocent country into oblivion. I saw these representatives of the next generation spitting the most horrific venom at the far-more-pious, Jewish Orthodox members of Neturei Karta, pushing and shoving all those who reveal to them the atrocious hypocrisy of hiding behind the phrase "Never Again" while denying (or oblivious to - which is worse?!) their own support for the systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing currently occurring in their name in their supposed homeland. I saw them picking fights with counter-protesters who know far more about Middle East history and the actual stipulations of the IAEA and NPT than their ignorant and racist parents do. Throngs of yarmulke-donning Shia LaBeoufs, tzitzit flapping against their thighs, cheering occupation and threatening violence to all those who disagree (and are far better informed) were patrolling Second Avenue. Even more startling were their tittering female counterparts: gaggles of young, profanity-shrieking Jewish girls, wearing tight-fitting "We Stand With Israel" t-shirts and looking more like Northeastern drama camp day-trippers, taking a break from trust falls and John Guare monologues to troll Manhattan thoroughfares, than a well-indoctrinated army of apartheid sympathizers bussed in from Yeshivas and synagogues all over the East Coast wielding inflated blue-and-white missiles, better described as noise-making phalli, emblazoned with pro-Zionist slogans. These are the new brownshirts. This is our future.

The thousands-strong gathering at Dag Hamarskjold Plaza proved one thing: in Zionism, dissent and diplomacy are to be shunned, stifled, and ridiculed at all cost and there is no equality among all people - there is a righteous "us" and a hateful "them" at all times - the Jew seeks preservation while the Arab only knows destruction; demonization and dehumanization are rampant and required and the identification of an "enemy" is necessary to maintain the constant self-image of innocence and victimization of the colonial occupier. The only existential threat to an archaic and racist ideology is the that of crumbling legitimacy and waning support.

History is nothing if not ironic, and the truly devastating paradox of supporting mass murder and "transfer" to protect the descendants of a similar, if not more sinister, injustice and horror was on full display that day. But the total lack of self-awareness among the militant crowd was all too palpable, even without witnessing the blank stares that followed asking a group of Zionist tweens holding an "Israel Now and Forever" placard if they knew what the Hitler Youth was. Every sort of absurdity was represented on the assorted signage held by the crowd, from the unintentionally ironic posters calling for the Iranian President to "take your hate back to hell" to moronically political banners pleading for supporters to "Prevent a nuclear Iranian Holocaust on Israel, vote McCaine-Palin [sic]" to hilarious (and hopefully true) placards reading "Dems hate Sarah Palin more than they hate the Islamofascists."

Name-calling was the blue (and white) plate special of the day and the rally's numerous speakers couldn't seem to get enough. Ahmadinejad was labeled as, not only a threat, but as the devil incarnate, the anti-Israel bogeyman lurking under Upper East Side beds and behind chuppas ready to jump out and revisit a devastating genocide upon an already beleaguered people. He was called crazy and arrogant, dangerous and evil, a recalcitrant fanatic and a madman. Even the New York Times chimed in by publishing an bizarrely biased piece by Clyde Haberman that very morning which twice referred to Ahmadinejad as "the Israel-threatening, Holocaust-denying, nuke-building and child-hanging president of Iran." (And this is the paper of record?) Knesset member Dalia Itzik likened the Iranian President to Freddy Krueger by complaining that "he wants us to suffer, to have nightmares, to be afraid." In addition to equating Ahmadinejad with Hitler, Itzik elaborated that the Iranian President enjoys sugarplum-like visions of concentration camps and gas chambers and that he "is responsible for bringing back the horrors of the past."

So, does Ahmadinejad really dream of another Jewish genocide? Hardly. The demise of the Zionist fantasy is the establishment of one democratic state in Israel/Palestine, a state wherein all people have the right to vote and thereby the right to self-determination. As he recently articulated, "We [representatives of the Iranian government] are opposed to the idea that the people who live there should be thrown into the sea or be burnt. We believe that all the people who live there, the Jews, Muslims and Christians, should take part in a free referendum and choose their government.”

Also, let us remember that there are about 20,000 Jews in Iran (the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel), who have a representative in Parliament. Middle East expert Juan Cole further explains the misplaced scapegoating,
If Ahmadinejad wanted to launch a second Holocaust, would he not begin at home? It is tiresome to keep having to repeat it, but, moreover, Ahmadinejad does not have the power to launch any massacres, since the presidency in Iran is a weak position similar to that of our secretary of the interior. The commander in chief of the armed forces is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has pledged an Iranian policy of no first strike against any country.

As for Jews in Israel, Iran has not threatened to kill any of them, much less all of them.
Professor and polyglot Yakov Rabkin, in a letter to the International Herald Tribune published on July 27, 2008, summed up the American/Israeli rhetoric quite simply, writing,
To justify an assault on Iran, one has to present the Iranian president as an anti-Semite. While overtly anti-Zionist, he is not anti-Jewish. Indeed, had he been anti-Semitic, he would harass Iran's Jews rather than challenge a nuclear-armed regional power.

But the emotionally charged allegations hurled at the Iranian president have become established truth and, moreover, ground for action in Israel and the United States. One should not mistake a wish to see a regime change for a physical threat to Israeli civilians. Like many non-Zionist Jews, he wants Israel to evolve from a state for the Jews - a major source of the Israel/Palestine conflict - to an inclusive state of all its citizens.
But enough of truth and reason. Back to sensationalism and propaganda!

Another rally speaker, noted author and clownish Zionist Elie Wiesel, in truly juvenile 'rain rain go away' fashion, cried out, "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, go home and stay there, we don't want you here. America doesn't want you here. Nobody wants you!," thereby completely missing the point that Ahmadinejad wasn't visiting the United States but rather fulfilling the duty of an elected government official to attend the UN General Assembly, which, although located in Manhattan, is actually an international entity. Also, it seems the laughable hypocrisy of trying to deny Ahmadinejad a right to speak at the UN due to Iran's reputation for stifling free speech at home was lost on Mr. Wiesel and the ignorant masses to whom he was speaking.

Wiesel also called for Ahmadinejad's indictment by an international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, a suggestion so riddled with irony that it boggles the mind to even try and comprehend it. If international law was respected by Israel-supporters, don't you think the settlements, apartheid wall, collective punishment, and illegal occupation might be first on the agenda? Also, what war crime has Ahmadinejad committed? Even if what they claim he has said was true (which it's not), he has neither dropped any bombs, killed anyone, nor invaded and occupied any country...nor has any Iranian leader in the past few centuries. I wonder how many Israeli prime ministers or recent American presidents would answer to those charges.

But, of course, Zionists see themselves as the champions of human rights (which Iran admittedly needs a lot of work on) and are unable to see themselves as the perpetrators of any sort of injustice. As former deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky told the crowd, "We believe the most important responsibility for people of faith is tikkun olam, to heal the world. For them [Iranians? Muslims? Ahmadinejads?], the most important thing is to kill as many people as possible." Tell that to the Palestinians, Natan. Oh wait, you probably have, during some sort of bombing raid, extrajudicial murder, chargeless imprisonment, or at one of the hundreds and hundreds of illegal checkpoints. That's some good ol' fashioned world healin' for ya!

Clearly, sloganeering is "in" this season, truth is out.

During my infuriating and illuminating two hour stay at the rally, I did wind up learning a few things about the way Zionists think . For instance, did you know that there is, in fact, no occupation of Palestine? Did you know that there is no apartheid nor are there any Jews-Only roads in the West Bank? Did you know that Jewish militias before the implementation of Plan Dalet were merely peace-keepers and defensive forces against the aggressive Arab hordes? (Apparently, the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem by the Jewish nationalist group Irgun was an unavoidable act of self-preservation - one that, with 91 casualties and 45 wounded, still remains the single deadliest act of terrorism of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict - IDF operations in Gaza in late February/early March 2008 notwithstanding.) I learned that the only definition of "terrorist" is a mean person who gets on a bus with a backpack bomb, hoping to murder innocent people (because, remember, they're mean) - no context, no exceptions. Were you aware that the Palestinian victims of the massacres of Deir Yassin and Eilabun had it coming and essentially forced Jewish militias to brutally murder them by simply not obeying the basic tenets of Jewish nationalism, colonial Zionism, and willingly leaving their ancestral homes? Silly!

Even more fascinating was when I learned that Israelis are actually the perpetual victims of Palestinian oppression - what a relief! I can finally stop being such a bleeding-heart and rest easy that those villainous Arabs were expelled from their homes, their property stolen, their families murdered, their villages leveled, their livelihoods destroyed, their statehood and independence denied, their movement restricted, and their food, water, and electricity rationed for a damn good reason (they're all anti-Semitic terrorists remember?). Whew! Plus, whenever the Israeli fait accompli of the Palestinian Nakba is questioned or condemned (how dare they!) by some pesky human rights fanatic, I now know just to shrug, smirk, and say "That was, like, a really long time ago, why don't they just move on? The Palestinians need to get over it!" (Thanks to that girl in the David Project shirt for this brilliant retort - naturally, the same courtesy of "needing to get over it" is not extended to the families of Holocaust victims who seem to enjoy Never Againing all the livelong day by equating Palestinian resistance to a brutal Israeli occupation to the tragic Aryan genocide of European Jews. And please don't ask why Palestinian resistance to occupation over the past 60 years isn't compared to French resistance to occupation 64-68 years ago...that just makes Zionists angry.)

My education wasn't just limited to Israeli mythology...uh...I mean, history. I was also set straight about a number of issues pertaining to Iran as well. I learned that President Ahmadinejad is a terrorist. He also supports terrorists. He is a dictator. And an Islamic fundamentalist extremist meanie bad guy. He's also Hitler. And a member of Al Qaeda. And Bin Laden's brother. And Barack Obama's poker buddy. He also has his finger on some sort of button. He wants to "wipe Israel off the map." He is also personally responsible for 9/11, the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, and has joyfully throttled American soldiers to death with his bare hands. Ahmadinejad is also in charge of the human resources department at Lehman Brothers; he created hanging chads, taught Bill Buckner how to react to slow dribblers up the first base line, lip-synchs, has cooties, doesn't know how many houses or cars he owns, cancelled Arrested Development, and broke up the Beatles. Iran is also trying to build nuclear weapons, even though, as I was told more than once, it apparently already has them aimed at Tel Aviv.

So, basically it all comes down to this: Iran, a scary country controlled by a raving maniac, is illegally pursuing nuclear weapons that they will unleash mercilessly upon an unwitting, innocent, and peace-loving Israel due to a crazy, apocalyptic religious doctrine of death and destruction. Simple enough, right? Too bad it's all ridiculous.

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin. I suppose I just need to divide and conquer (I learned that from Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon) the issues and address them one by one. So stay tuned...

*****

"Rejection of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed, and longing for peace constitute the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world, particularly the new generations and the spirited youth, who aspire a world free from decadence, aggression and injustice, and replete with love and compassion. The youth have a right to seek justice and the Truth; and they have a right to build their own future on the foundations of love, compassion and tranquility."

- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, 09.19.2006