Monday, July 26, 2004


I'll be in NYC, Boston, and Portland, ME this week, so no blogging until the weekend. Check the overlord website for a complete schedule of shows.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Democratic National Convention

To the Editor:

Daniel Rubin's piece asks whether the site of this week's Democratic National Convention is really liberal or conservative, noting that Massachusetts has been both. With its policies of fiscal irresponsibility, global adventurism and religious fundamentalism, it's too bad the Bush administration has never been either.
Americans Want Missile Defense, Missile Defense Insiders Say

from SpaceDaily.Com

"The men and women of the Sunshine State have made it clear that they want a missile defense system, they want it now, it's money well-spent, and they want their elected representatives to make it happen," Riki Ellison, MDAA's CEO.
But the fixed-income retiree is not alone in his love of extravagant, unwieldly, anachronistic defense schemes. More hard data from:
New Hampshire


Who are the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance? Why not ask someone on the board of directors? He knows a lot about the importance of national security.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

States Cut Health Insurance for 145,000 Kids

from Reuters
Some 145,000 poor children were dropped from a U.S. federal-state health insurance plan in the second half of 2003, with more than half the cuts made by Texas, a health-care research foundation said on Friday.
Pentagon Finds 'Destroyed' Bush Service Records

from The Associated Press

A Pentagon official said the earlier contention that the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bush Cuts Hurt Philly

To the Editor:

One of the biggest scandals of the Bush administration is playing out all across Philadelphia this summer: the city wants to close eight fire engine and ladder companies. Some of these firehouses have served our community for more than 100 years. How exactly, in our post-9/11 world, with firefighters being our first line of defense against domestic terrorism (not to mention, say, fires), can anyone justify this? We need new ambulances, Mayor Street tells us.

Excuse me? Since when have Americans had to choose between one basic emergency response service and another? If the city doesn't have money because the state doesn't have money, where is the federal government? Where is the Department of Homeland Security? Isn't it their job to make certain localities have the tools, equipment, and personnel needed to respond to an emergency?

There's a name for what's going on: the Bush tax-cuts. George Bush gave the 300 billion dollar surplus he inherited from Clinton away in the form of tax-cuts to people who didn't need them--the kind who can buy their own personal fire engines, if you know what I mean. Well, that's money that could have been used as federal aid to the states, to pay for all the stuff you and I rely on, like firefighters, or enjoy, like city pools, libraries, and affordable public transportation.
Halliburton's $167 Million Overcharge

from The Associated Press
A separate report from congressional Democrats said Halliburton charged the government $2.68 per gallon to import gasoline to Iraq from Kuwait, but a government agency did the same work for $1.57 a gallon. That difference had cost the government an extra $166.5m, the report said.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Coalition of the Leaving

The US Should Reconsider its Policies, Not Castigate its Allies

from The Daily Star
There are serious questions to be asked of the White House, and someone will have to pay the price. It should not be civilians taken hostage in Iraq.
Kerry and the Policy of Pre-emption

Correspondence with a Co-worker

Dear Abraham,

I wanted to say something about the AP article you forwarded:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he would be willing to launch a pre-emptive strike against terrorists if he had adequate intelligence of a threat.
This is actually the opposite of the Bush doctrine, which reserved the right to launch a pre-emptive strike against terrorists with no intelligence or proof of a threat whatsoever; and not simply a strike--a full-scale invasion and occupation. And not against terrorists, either. Apparently they were all in Iran.

Remember, the problem isn't the policy of pre-emption. Pre-emption has a meaning roughly approximating what Kerry describes, as laid out by the UN Charter. If someone is going to attack you, and you can prove it, then you can use force pre-emptively to stop the attack. Of course, it doesn't say anything about taking over other countries. It says you are permitted to use an amount of force proportional to the threat, etc. And, as always, the burden of proof is on the people advocating use of force.

Anyway, what is wrongly being called Bush's "pre-emption" policy is not pre-emption at all but rather a doctrine of global dominance as laid out by the neo-cons in the National Security Strategy of 2002. In effect, the US has the right to maintain global dominance by force against any threat, perceived, imagined, or otherwise, in order to destroy the challenge before it becomes reality. That's not pre-emption. That's unprovoked aggression, in the name of US interests.

Do neo-liberals tend towards militarism in solving world problems? Yes. But that doesn't make them the same as neo-conservatives, per se.


War Planners Divide Iraqi Spoils Among Friends, Associates

from The Los Angeles Times
Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey is a prominent example of the phenomenon, mixing his business interests with what he contends are the country's strategic interests. He left the CIA in 1995, but he remains a senior government advisor on intelligence and national security issues, including Iraq. Meanwhile, he works for two private companies that do business in Iraq and is a partner in a company that invests in firms that provide security and anti-terrorism services.
The "Good" War

from The Progressive

I was introduced as a veteran of the Army Air Corps, a bombardier who had flown combat missions over Europe in the last months of the war. I wasn't sure how this audience would react to what I had to say about the war, in that atmosphere of celebration, in the honoring of the dead, in the glow of a great victory accompanied by countless acts of military heroism.

This, roughly, is what I said: "I'm here to honor the two guys who were my closest buddies in the Air Corps--Joe Perry and Ed Plotkin, both of whom were killed in the last weeks of the war. And to honor all the others who died in that war. But I'm not here to honor war itself. I'm not here to honor the men in Washington who send the young to war. I'm certainly not here to honor those in authority who are now waging an immoral war in Iraq."

- Howard Zinn
Greenspan: Wealthy Gain Most from US Recovery

from Reuters
Economic reports showing the U.S. economic recovery has primarily benefited the well-off are accurate, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Tuesday.
MoveOn's Debate Ad

from MoveOn PAC

Although the debates between George Bush and John Kerry are still 10 weeks away, we've put together a sneak preview. Our latest ad morphs each candidate into the folks he really speaks for. Bush is represented by corporate CEOs; Kerry is represented by hard-working Americans. The ad ends with a succinct description of the Presidential contest: it's the corporations' choice versus the people's choice. When we tested the ad by running it in one city for a week, it produced an amazing 6% shift in the vote toward John Kerry.

Monday, July 19, 2004

House Strikes 'Stolen Election' Comment from Record

from The Associated Press
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to strike a Florida representative's words from the congressional record after she said Republicans stole the closely fought 2000 U.S. election.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Enlightenment Tradition

from "Notes on Anarchism"

With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order. In fact, on the very same assumptions that led classical liberalism to oppose the intervention of the state in social life, capitalist social relations are also intolerable.

- Noam Chomsky

The idea here is that if you recognize government as a form of centralized authority, and you accept that centralized power is dangerous, then it stands to reason that you will view other forms of concentrated power as dangerous, also. In other words, even someone like Adam Smith, who is credited as the founder of free-market capitalism, based his vision on a pre-industrial world: it presupposed a relative equality of property within the society, including productive property, meaning the resources and tools used to produce--land and livestock for farming, for example. (Chomsky often notes that contemporary students of Smith never read the chapters in "Wealth of Nations" where Smith specifically warns against high concentrations of economic power.) Modern-day conservatives, if they are honest, will acknowledge the danger of concentrated power in any form, since their (otherwise legitimate) critique of government is based on it. So, ironically, conservatism is one of the best arguments against the type of system that Republicans currently represent.

How Corporate Power is Driving the War

from The Guardian

As the corporate interest moves to power in what was the public sector, it serves the corporate interest. It is most clearly evident in the largest such movement, that of nominally private firms into the defence establishment. From this comes a primary influence on the military budget, on foreign policy, military commitment and, ultimately, military action. War. Although this is a normal and expected use of money and its power, the full effect is disguised by almost all conventional expression.

- John Kenneth Galbraith
Classical Liberalism

from The eJournal Website

Q: Prof. Chomsky, you have said in the past that you respect "conservatism" and that there are many true "conservatives" who oppose what the Bush Administration is doing. I want to ask is there such a thing as classical conservatism and how different is that conservatism from the alleged conservatism practiced by the likes of Thatcher, Reagan, Bush 1, Brian Mulroney and Bush 2?

A: If by "conservatism" one means "classical liberalism" (a traditional conception), then, yes, I think there is much there that deserves respect. Personally, I agree with Rudolf Rocker (and others) that classical liberal ideals were destroyed by capitalism, and that resurrecting them is a step towards advancing towards libertarian socialism (anarchism, in one sense of that term).

If by "conservatives" one means those who at least approach these ideals in some way--e.g., by opposing the resort to state violence in the interests of pathological creations of state power such as corporations--then, yes, I think there is a lot to respect in these circles as well.

But if by "conservative" one means radical statist reactionaries of the Reaganite-Thatcher-Bushite type, that's a wholly different matter. They simply defame the honorable term "conservative"--which is not to say that I would personally align myself with genuine conservatives, though (again speaking personally) I do respect them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The "New" Conservatives

from What Conservatism Means

Particularly intriguing about Huntington’'s argument is that it perfectly predicted what was to happen in the 1960s. In that decade, there was a powerful upsurge of radicalism, associated initially with the Civil Rights movement and protest against the Vietnam War but quickly going beyond that to reject the whole fabric of American society. New Deal liberalism was denounced and rejected as “Cold War liberalism” or worse, and the radicals began their long march through our institutions.

It was in these circumstances that a group of liberal intellectuals, —almost all of them members of the Democratic Party, many of them prominent members of the New York intellectual community, —began to oppose the radical movement, to defend American institutions and values with classic conservative arguments. They were attacked from the left and derisively labeled “neoconservatives.” It was meant as an insult but readily accepted by Irving Kristol, —the godfather of neoconservatism—, and his colleagues.

They became an important force in American politics and have remained so. Many joined the Republican Party. They brought with them intellectual and polemical skills that had been in scarce supply on the Right, and by the 1980s they had seized the intellectual initiative from the Left.

Under the neoconservatives’ guidance, we now have a president committed not only to nation building in Iraq but also to region building throughout the Middle East. The belief that democratic institutions, behavior, and ways of thought can be exported and transplanted to societies that have no traditions of them is a profoundly unconservative, indeed a radical, belief. Conservatives traditionally have believed in the slow, organic growth of political institutions, not their imposition from without. Yet the most enthusiastic advocates of exporting democracy are American neoconservatives, which perhaps suggests that their break with their earlier modes of thought has been less than complete.
Arguing with Bush yet Again

from Informed Comment

Bush must think we are a nation of retards if he believes we will buy this language of Saddam having the "capability" to produce weapons of mass destruction. All countries have the "capability." The point is that Iraq had given up its WMD programs and destroyed the stockpiles. The US was not in any danger from Iraq, and so cannot be safer because it was invaded.

- Juan Cole

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

World Court Condemns Israeli Wall

"Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated."

- International Court of Justice

Kerry Vs. the War

To the Editor,

Columnist John Podhoretz is correct when he says that John Kerry no longer supports the Iraq war, even though he did at first. So did most Americans. Thank goodness there's an alternative to the man who sent our children into harm's way, only to let the real bad guys get away.

James Ryan Boyd

Kerry Vs. The War, by John Podhoretz
Phillipines Lets the Terrorists Win, and Not a Moment Too Soon

"It's our fault for getting into this."

- Nereus Acosta, Philippine House of Representatives
Brokaw: Moore Not "Objective" Journalist

Of... concern to him and other top network newspeople, however, is the sense that some moviegoers consider Michael Moore's film more credible than their own reports.

- Chicago Sun-Times

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Hatriotism of Michael Moore

LEE WEBB: Our guest today says that director Michael Moore and others like him, actively promote an agenda he calls Hatriotism. Ergun Caner is a Turkish-born immigrant who was raised as a Muslim. He is now a Christian and Professor of Theology and Church History at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is also the co-author of eight books about Islam, including the latest, Christian Jihad. Dr. Caner, welcome back to the program.

ERGUN CANER: Thank you, Lee.

WEBB: I am curious about -- Hatriotism. Tell us what it is, and tell us why you believe Michael Moore is the leading exponent of Hatriotism.

CANER: I think that what Michael Moore and others like him have done is to spit on the graves of my dead countrymen, who longed for the freedom that America has brought them. I think that Hatriotism is the new, modern, culturally relevant idea where it is popular to rouse up a crowd by making fun of America … or the administration, or the troops. The radicals are those who stand for the truth. I was tired of listening to man after man after man insult my people, by saying this was a war about oil, or a war about personal agendas.

- The Christian Broadcast Network
Veteran's Workers Thank Moore

"It's a disgrace, that during a time of war, our president has failed to adequately fund programs for veterans," said Alma Lee, president of AFGE's National VA Council, which represents health care professionals in the Department of Veterans Affairs. "Those who care for veterans every day are heartened by the attention Michael Moore brings to the need to allocate more federal money to veterans' programs."

- US Newswire
Nader/Dean Debate

At the National Press Club, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader debates former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.


Reagan to Speak at DNC

Reagan, 46, has been critical of the Bush administration’s restriction of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research and the war in Iraq.


Conservatives apoplectic over Reagan betrayal.
Fearing Election Disruption, Bush Seeks to Disrupt Election

The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Christopher Cox of California, said on "Late Edition" that he sees Ridge's request as part of a prudent effort to plan for "doomsday scenarios."

The Biggest Party On Earth: Republican National Convention 2004

All Not Quiet on the Eastern Front

(from the Open Newswire): Scene report of the RNC Protests by local NYC anarchists.

The RNC protests are going to be huge! Hundreds of thousands will flood the streets: Democrats toeing the party line, liberals of all stripes, and communists of all sects. Even "the UNIONS are coming"! The hip hop kids are coming, the college kids are coming, the Greens are coming, Al Sharpton’s coming, the NGOs, Starhwak, the libertarians and tons of assorted wing-nuts will make an appearance. And don’t forget the millions of New Yorkers who hate Bush or are simply pissed-off because they have to be inconvenienced by closed-off streets, delayed subway trains, or police barricades--they’ll be there too. And more power to them, right?

- nycanarchistgrapevine

Just don't forget your earplugs!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

It is Bakan's psychology background that drives the movie's No. 1 point: that the corporate profile--inherently self-interested, asocial, and utterly free of guilt or remorse--is equivalent to that of a psychopath.

Ballad of the Undeserving Poor

"There have always been poor people living among the prosperous, and the prosperous have always sought to justify their good fortune and thus relieve their consciences. Intellectuals who can help them do this have always been in great demand."

- Supplement to John Kenneth Galbraith's "How to Get the Poor Off Our Conscience"

Friday, July 09, 2004

Howard Stern Interviews Michael Moore

Health Versus Wealth

If we ever get a clear national debate about health care and taxes, I don't see how President Bush will win it.

- Paul Krugman

The Great Disappearing Draft Notice

Syntax isn't the only frightening thing about this sentence:

If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men, who submit a claim, receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on Federal guidelines.

- Selective Service

The Memory Hole

Thursday, July 08, 2004

'Stupid Dirty Girl'

The Emperor Has No Chance

When a reporter noted that Edwards was being described as "charming, engaging, a nimble campaigner, a populist and even sexy" and then asked "How does he stack up against Dick Cheney?" the president immediately responded, "Go f--- yourself."
What Your Taxes Actually Buy

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

US Finds Its Own WMD In Iraq

"A major achievement... to keep potentially dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists."

- U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham

Monday, July 05, 2004

Film Review: Berry's Catwoman 'Purr-fectly Preposter-ASS'

Reagan Pyramid Nears Completion

Slave manpower was doubled this week in an effort to ensure that erection of the gigantic Reagan Pyramid remains on schedule to be completed in time for the 40th president's mummification and ascension into the Afterworld.

- The Onion
Moore Considers $10,000 Reward For Fact Checkers

"There's lots of disagreement with my analysis of these facts or my opinion based on the facts. But... there is not a single factual error in the movie. I'm thinking of offering a $10,000 reward for anyone that can find a single fact that's wrong."

- Michael Moore

"This is a film that doesn't require us to actually view it to know that it's filled with factual inaccuracies."

- White House spokesman Dan Bartlett
The Sudan Crisis

What is happening in Sudan?

The Islamic Arab government of Lt. Gen. Omar el-Bashir is simultaneously trying to suppress two rebellions. One civil war, against black African rebels in the south, has been dragging on for 20 years; 2 million people have died in that conflict. In 2003, black Africans in the western region of Darfur also rose up against the government in Khartoum, the nation’s capital. El-Bashir responded with a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing. Sudan’s air force has repeatedly bombed the villages of Darfur, dropping crude bombs onto the straw-roofed huts. Then the Janjaweed—Arab militias mounted on camels and horses, armed with AK-47s and whips—sweep in to murder the men, rape the women, kidnap the children, and steal the cattle. More than 30,000 people have been slain, and 1 million have fled their homes. Most of the refugees are starving, and some are dying in the mine-strewn border region of neighboring Chad. One U.N. official has called the carnage “the world’s greatest humanitarian and human-rights catastrophe.”

- The Week

Action: Tell Secretary of State Colin Powell and Congress to do something to help.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

On Politics

I like discussions, and when I am asked questions, I try to answer them. It’s true that I don’t like to get involved in polemics. If I open a book and see that the author is accusing an adversary of “infantile leftism” I shut it again right away. That’s not my way of doing things; I don’t belong to the world of people who do things that way. I insist on this difference as something essential: a whole morality is at stake, the one that concerns the search for truth and the relation to the other.

- Michel Foucault
In America

...Internally, it’s a pretty free society. And there is a lot of protection of civil liberties that doesn’t come from the government; it comes from the population. There’s a deeply rooted tradition by now and they’re not going to give it up. Furthermore, civil liberties are protected by the rich and the powerful, because they benefit from them. They do not want the state to be powerful enough to carry out actions against citizens that could harm them. They want a compliant state, not a powerful state.

So a more developed form of state capitalism will tend to have civil libertarian protections. And they have these gains like freedom of speech, which is very well protected in the United States by comparative standards. That’s not a gift; it’s not in the Constitution; it’s not in the Bill of Rights, contrary to what they may teach you in school. Didn’t say anything about freedom of speech. Those were rights that were won by giving meaning to the First Amendment through struggle. In fact, it was pretty recent.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the United States crossed the main barrier, which has not been passed by any other country to my knowledge, and eliminated--the Supreme Court eliminated--the rule of the law of seditious libel--the law that says that you can’t assault the state in words. Even if what you say is true, you can’t defame state authority, [that’s] seditious libel. As far as I know, every other country still has those restrictions, including England. But they were overcome finally in the United States in 1964, and that was in the course of the civil rights movement. It grew out of the civil rights protest. That’s the way these rights were established and pretty firmly rooted.

There is an attempt to undermine them, you’re right, but, frankly, I don’t think it’s going to get very far.

- Noam Chomsky, responding in a Q&A session in India

Corporate censorship is just as dangerous as government censorship, you know, and self-censorship can be the most insidious form of pulling punches. Pressures to go along, to get along, or to place the needs of advertisers or companies above the public's need for reliable information distort a free press and threaten democracy itself.

- Walter Cronkite
The Role of Third-Parties in US History

Third parties often focus on a single main issue and force it into the mainstream of American political life. It was third parties that first pressed for emancipation, female suffrage, prohibition, and an end to child labor. Socialist Eugene V. Debs lost both his 1912 and 1920 presidential runs, but much of his platform, like Social Security, ultimately formed the basis of the modern welfare state.

- The Week
The Budget Wars

Getting government off your back, one fire-engine at a time.

Philadelphia Daily News

CBS News
Independence Day

This year I've resolved to feel good about the fourth of July. There's no benefit to being the family crank at barbecues and weddings, after all. Yesterday I even watched the FOX News channel, with its ubiquitous American flag graphics, and nonetheless felt right with the world. Today, the vascular integrity of my brain thanked me.

For the engaged citizen, the United States can be a stroke-inducing affair, indeed. But there's no reason to lose sensation or mobility in the left hemisphere of your body if you don't have to. America was founded on the idea that concentrated power is dangerous and deserves to be challenged--overthrown, I think they said. Any conservative worth his weight in ethnic-stereotypes will concede at least this much. And that leaves all of us with a lot more to say to each other.

Last night I ate dinner with a libertarian I like to call my cousin. One might not expect much to be shared between two family members, one who believes in expanding social programs and another who wants to dismantle them. But while I don't know a lot about right-libertarianism beyond Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, I'm pretty sure they would both roll over in their respective graves if they saw the terrific sham masquerading as "free-trade" today: socialized market protection for the wealthy and powerful (e.g. government bailouts), and market "discipline" for the poor (e.g. politically imposed third-world debt). Honest conservatives understand this; at least, that's the theory Ralph Nader is banking his "I'll-draw-from-the-right, too" presidential campaign on: classical liberals and conservatives have more in common with each other than they do with either wing of the American corporatist party, which advocates socialism for the privileged, owning classes, and "less government" for the rest of us.

The tradition of one person, one vote is much older than the tradition of one dollar, one vote. The United States was founded on ideals that ordinary people, in pursuing their own mutual benefit, make real when their leaders don't--by challenging power and authority in the traditional, American way.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Re: Comments

Recent strife in the "comments" portion of this blog has prompted me to make a general statement. First, everyone is welcome to comment. Second, I am not going to moderate any of it. People are certainly free to say what they want, and no doubt they will--along with everything one might expect. Thankfully, we're not responsible for what other people do, just how we carry ourselves in response.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Richard Cohen, Abject Object of My Ire

Dear Richard,

I watched the film last Sunday with my family and we left the theatre in tears. Most of the other people I know who have seen the film also found it compelling, emotional, and posing important questions. Apparently military and 9/11 families have endorsed the film and have asked the president to respond to the issues raised.


Re-reading your column, I'm struck by how forcefully you criticize the film without responding to it. In fact, you don't say anything meaningful about the film at all; you simply reiterate how much you didn't like it, and then talk at length about anything else.

Assuming you did watch the film, perhaps I can remind you of its central themes: the potential conflict of interest between our heads of state and regimes that support terror; the erosion of our civil liberties under the Patriot Act; and the idea that while one class declares wars, another class fights them. I think these are the things Americans are concerned about, thanks to this film.