Harris For Jesus
The soon-to-be-disappeared-and-never-brought-to-mind Kathleen Harris, who is being crushed in her congressional re-election bid can still spit bile and ignorance:
"If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," she told interviewers, citing abortion and gay marriage as two examples of that sin. "Whenever we legislate sin," she said, "and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don't know better, we are leading them astray and it's wrong . . ."
Friend and foe alike have dumped on the unlikable Ms Harris:
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said she was "disgusted" by the comments "and deeply disappointed in Rep. Harris personally ... [it] clearly shows that she does not deserve to be a Representative." State Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, demanded an apology, saying the statements were "outrageous, even by her standards. "What is going through this woman's mind?" said Slosberg.
Ruby Brooks, a veteran Tampa Bay Republican activist, said Harris' remarks "were offensive to me as a Christian and a Republican." And Jillian Hasner, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said: "I don't think it's representative of the Republican Party at all. Our party is much bigger and better than Katherine Harris is trying to make it."
During the same interviews, Harris said that separation of Church and State was wrong. Separating religion and politics is
"so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers. And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women," then "we're going to have a nation of secular laws. That's not what our founding fathers intended and that's (sic) certainly isn't what God intended."
University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said the comments will appeal to Christian fundamentalists who typically turn out for Republican primaries. "It's insane," he said. "But it's not out of character for Katherine Harris."
Maybe the depths to which she has fallen in the polls gives her a certain freedom to just say what she feels without concerning herself with the political consequences. That's a good thing in and of itself. And politically, as Sabato says, she will now attract a certain kind of fundamentalist voter that a more centrist Republican would eschew.
Either way she's a goner in the primary. Hopefully she will make the next few weeks' campaigning laughingly memorable.
How Many Amendments Come Before The First?
It appears that America is scared to have people watch Hezbollah TV. That's the only message that can be taken from the story that the FBI have arrested Javed Iqbal of Staten Island, NY. He is charged with having economic relations with a terrorist organization because his Brooklyn-based HDTV offered al Manar, a Hezbollah-backed TV station, to satellite TV customers of his in the New York area.
The district attorney was harsh in his desire to hold Mr Iqbal:
“The charge lurking in the background is material support for terrorism,” Stephen A. Miller, an assistant United States attorney, told United States Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein. He said Mr. Iqbal, 42, was a flight risk because he has family in England and Pakistan. “We think there is a strong incentive for him to run,” Mr. Miller said.
Mr Iqbal's defense attorney countered that:
"He’s a fun-loving guy."
Interested by-standers saw the deeper issues at stake:
“It appears that the statute under which Mr. Iqbal is being prosecuted includes a First Amendment exemption that prevents the government from punishing people for importing news communications,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Such an exemption is constitutionally necessary, and the fact that the government is proceeding with the prosecution in spite of it raises serious questions about how free our marketplace of idea is.”
Out of the Mouths of Babes
Mary Maxwell is running for Congress as a Republican in New Hampshire's 2nd District. She is a Republican who believes
"... the U.S. government had a role in killing nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, so it could make Americans hate Arabs and allow the military to bomb Muslim nations such as Iraq ... to soften us up . . . to make us more willing to have more stringent laws here, which are totally against the Bill of Rights . . . to make us particularly focus on Arabs and Muslims . . . and those strange persons who spend all their time creating little bombs,” giving Americans a reason “to hate them and fear them and, therefore, bomb them in Iraq for other reasons.”
Not exactly mainstream GOP talking points.
She also believes it was the British, not the Germans, who sank the Lusitania in 1915 as a ploy to bring the US into the First World War. I bet there are a lot of GOP candidates who can't even spell "Lusitania".
She had more to say of course:
"Maxwell said the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq. She also questioned whether Congress authorized the war and said its members can’t explain that 2002 vote ... “Legally, we shouldn’t have gone to Iraq if Congress can’t explain why,” she said.
Maxwell described herself as a strict Constitutionalist, a candidate who wants to bring the country “back to basics.” The Constitution grants more power to the legislative branch than the other two branches, but Congress has allowed the executive and judicial branches to diminish its influence, she said. She also said the U.S. shouldn’t immerse itself in the international community by signing trade and security pacts. These agreements have weakened national sovereignty, she said.
At the end of a recent meeting with the editiorial board of the influential Nashua Telegraph, she
"pounded her fist on the table and asked editors of The Telegraph why they weren’t publishing more stories about the government’s role in the terrorist attacks or proliferation of nuclear weapons."
Now that's how to make friends and influence people! It may come as no surprise that Ms Maxwell -- the Republican! -- has no previous political experience.
At Least They Haven't ....
... declared this as another "mission accomplished" -- at least not yet. The government is admitting to having spent $5 billion of taxpayers' money to destroy Colombia's coca crop and yet "the price, quality and availability of cocaine on American streets [remains] virtually unchanged."
It is no surprise that
"Bush administration officials say that coca farmers are on the run, and that the leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries who feed on drug profits are weaker than ever. That has made Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in a tumultuous region, more stable, they say."
However, "that claim was disputed by a wide range of drug policy experts." And the government's own facts and figures belie the politicians' statements:
- As much coca is cultivated today in Colombia as was grown at the start of the large-scale aerial fumigation effort in 2000, according to State Department figures.
- Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, the leading sources of coca and cocaine, produce more than enough cocaine to satisfy world demand, and possibly as much as in the mid-1990’s, the UN says.
- The government’s tracking over the past quarter century shows that the price of cocaine in the US has tumbled and that purity remains high, signs that the drug is as available as ever.
If they are admitting to $5 billion wasted, it seems certain the true cost was much higher. Add billions more for the FBI and DEA and other local law enforcement involved in the War on Some Drugs in the US itself. Add many more billions for the cost of drug-fuelled incarceration rates. And add billions and billions more for the failed Afghani front of the War on Some Drugs. This is a whole bunch of your tax money they are spending.
Can anyone say any of it has done any good?
Free enterprisers everywhere must be cheering the news that opium production in Afghanistan has reached record levels this year. Proving that government regulations restraining an industry can be overcome even against overwhelming firepower. The corporatist elite that underwrites the Bush Administration should surely be cheered by this exercise in freedom. After all,
"opium cultivation has surged since the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001. The former regime enforced an effective ban on poppy growing by threatening to jail farmers - virtually eradicating the crop in 2000 ... This year's increased poppy cultivation follows a 21 percent drop the previous year, suggesting the government has not followed through on warnings to farmers against planting poppies. Although 37,065 acres of poppies were eradicated this year, according to the Ministry for Counternarcotics, a campaign by police to destroy crops fell short of expectation."
Bravo for the fighting spirit of capitalism!
But oddly enough, the fine people of America don't think that heroin dealing is a trade they should support. Therefore, at least until the force of aggravated circumstances allows them to cancel or better control elections, the regime in Washington is obliged to put treasure and manpower into appearing to fight the War on Some Drugs. Hundreds of millions of dollars, and tens of thousands of American and allied troops. But oddly enough, that is fine too because this way the "defence" industry leg of the Military-Industrial-Media complex gets paid.
It's only Joe Schmo in America and Abdul Abdul in Afghanistan who get hurt. No wonder this guy looks bemused.
Another mission accomplished.
Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is one of the most astute editorial cartoonists today. The following are two of his latest salvos:
The Government Needs Your Panic
Through everything I have read in the past week I have learned that the governments of the US, the UK, Canada and probably all the others have known about the possible use by terrorists of liquid explosives on airplanes for many years. Why then did they suddenly rush to put in place new restrictions overnight? It is obvious that the alleged British plot could have been disrupted well in advance had the new rules been in place months or years earlier.
The only explanation that makes sense is that governments need to instil a sense of immediate panic. By creating such a sense of emergency they are able to impose "security" regimes far in excess of those required to deal with the immediate situation; ongoing mass surveillance of private citizens being the prime example, as Chertoff called for this week.
Without a doom-laden sense of fear, do we really believe that most people would accept government agents trolling through our bank accounts, our phone records and our email transcripts on a daily basis? No. They need the depth of fear created by these emergency announcements, not to deal with particular terrorist threats, but to extend and expand their control of our daily lives; an expansion we would never otherwise accept.
Hypocrisy As Irony
As regular readers of this sheet will know, I am an anarchist and, therefore, I care nothing for socialistic totalitarianism. However, at the same time I am a strong admirer of Fidel Castro and the Cuban people who have stood up to the might of American imperialism for many decades. I admire their grit, their determination to be independent, and I admire the social benefits that Castro has brought to the Cubans in the form of health care, education and the like. And all this in the face of the tightest economic blockade any nation has had to overcome.
Commenting today on the state of Castro's help, US Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon said that it was important that Cubans "define their own future". To help this, the Americans -- not themselves Cubans as I recall -- will spend a further $60 million. In other words, a foreign power will spend a bunch of money to try to force the Cubans to move in the direction the foreign power wants. And this in the name of allowing Cubans to define their own future. The irony is of course lost on Mr. Shannon and all those around him.
I am sad to learn of the death of Murray Bookchin, one of the foremost anarchist thinkers of our age. He developed the theory of social ecology which strongly influenced Green movements around the world. I certainly didn't agree with everything he wrote -- he was entirely wrong in my opinion that anarchism should be the extreme left wing of socialism (thus rejecting individualism) -- but I can say that his ideas on the environment and its relationship to capitalism have informed much of my own opinion.
"If we do not do the impossible we shall be faced with the unthinkable."
August 9th 1961
Forty-five years ago today, US aircraft sprayed dioxin-laced Agent Orange over the central highlands province of Kon Tum, Vietnam. This was the start of the largest and most sustained chemical warfare campaign launched by man against man.
Lest we forget the inhumanity of these war crimes.