New Hampshire: What We'll Wish After A Nuclear Attack

As all the establishment candidates chant "change," "change," change," actual candidates who have actually advocated actual change are excluded from the debates and mocked in the media.

The people of New Hampshire and lauded by the pundits for their "independence" -- by voting for the the novel choices of Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain -- who has called the media his base. It's like a slick salesman congratulating a naive customer on the wisdom of buying from him.

It would all be funny if the stakes were not so enormous.

ABC's Charlie Gibson at the debate on Saturday: "The next president of the United States may have to deal with a nuclear attack on an American city. I've read a lot about this in recent days. The best nuclear experts in the world say there's a 30 percent chance in the next 10 years. Some estimates are higher. Graham Allison, at Harvard, says it's over 50 percent. Senator Sam Nunn, in 2005, who knows a lot about this, posed two questions that stick in my mind. And I want to put them to you here.

"On the day after a nuclear weapon goes off in an American city, what would we wish we had done to prevent it? And what will we actually do on the day after?"

Some of us who are paying attention will have wished Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were not excluded from that debate so they could outline how we need to change U.S. policy.

In terms of what will happen after a nuclear attack: probably some sort of martial law, possibly against anyone who would say something like the previous sentence.

See Noam Chomsky: We Must Act Now to Prevent Another Hiroshima -- or Worse.

But progressives are constantly told Kucinich, Gravel and Ron Paul are quirky, so don't support them. Be a player, not a citizen. Deal with the political game, don't try to prevent another Hiroshima. But remember to be surprised when we get there.

[originally published at on Jan. 9, 2008]

Another Brave Attack on Kucinich

The Simpsons, created by presumed progressive Matt Groaning, is the latest media to mock Kucinich (at least for the next 7 minutes). Premise of the episode was that Springfield moves its primary to before New Hampshire, the candidates and media descend. The following exchange (roughly, I'm doing this from memory) takes place in Moe's Bar:

Principle Skinner: The media are not covering the issues, they're just declaring a front runner and going back to their mansions.
Someone else (Lenny or Homer I think): We should make the most ridiculous candidate the front runner.
Apu: Dennis Kucinich?
A two-foot Kucinich: Hey! I'm right here!
Homer: No, someone totally ridiculous.

They end up pushing Ralph Wiggum (the son of police chief Wiggum) who is known for spouting idiocies and picking his nose. Ralph actually ends up saying some politically decent things, sort of out of "Being There" -- "if we talk to other countries, then the only boom will be in our pants" and sweeps the nation with the motto "Vote Ralph! Pick a Winner!"

Take a look at -- most people who have taken it actually agree with Kucinich on the issues -- but he's the nut ball.

[originally published at on Jan. 7, 2008]

Largest Civil Disobedience Movement in U.S. History Is Underway?

An interesting piece by Max Obuszewski: "Largest Civil Disobedience Movement in U.S. History Is Underway".

Possible conclusions are:

  • Civil disobedience is nearly useless

  • There is a quiet revolution afoot

  • The civil disobedience hasn't been done right

  • It hasn't been properly highlighted

  • The national leadership has failed to use this

  • People are using these actions as a way of washing their hands of the situation without a real drive to change things ("not in my name")

  • Corollary: People will stop these actions if it seems they might change something

  • Others?

Poster cartoonist Mike Flugennock responds in the comments section to the article:

If this crap were actual "resistance" -- that is, direct, active interference with troop movements, shipments of war material, any other actions with serious impact on "business as usual" -- it might be worth mentioning. As it is, it's a bunch of people who got arrested at some contrived CD action, got toted off to jail, paid their fines, and were released, with no impact whatsoever on business, fascism and imperialism as usual.
[originally published at on Dec. 12, 2007]

Huckabee vs. Jesus on the Marital Ideal

Huckabee: "Let's understand what sin means -- sin means missing the mark," he responded. "Missing the mark can mean missing the mark in any area. We've all missed the mark. ... How we miss the mark is less important than we all miss the mark. The mark is that we have marriage -- men and women, they marry, they create children, and they train their replacements and you have a future generation then that creates their replacements and trains them. That's the mark. If we didn't have that as the ideal, we wouldn't have a civilization that was able to perpetuate."
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

The exchange between Jesus and his disciples shows how misunderstandings can show the soul. The disciples seem to think that pre-marital sex is fine while Jesus obviously doesn't. He places as an ideal being a "eunuch" -- not procreating. While Jesus indicates how God is revealed over time, Huckabee's "ideal" -- 2,000 years later -- is a retrograde of Jesus's. Talk about missing the mark.

[originally published at on Dec. 11, 2007]

The Idol of Nationalism

Charles Krauthammer writes today: "The God of the Founders, the God on the coinage, the God for whom Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving day is the ineffable, ecumenical, nonsectarian Providence of the American civil religion whose relation to this blessed land is without appeal to any particular testament or ritual. Every mention of God in every inaugural address in American history refers to the deity in this kind of all-embracing, universal, nondenominational way. (The one exception: William Henry Harrison. He caught cold delivering that inaugural address. Thirty-one days later, he was dead. Draw your own conclusion.) I suspect that neither Jefferson's Providence nor Washington's Great Author nor Lincoln's Almighty would look kindly on the exploitation of religious differences for political gain. It is un-American. It is unfortunate that Romney has had to justify himself in response."

Some similarities to the Washington Post's own editorial: "'Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government,' Mr. Romney said. But not all Americans acknowledge that, and those who do not may be no less committed to the liberty that is the American ideal."

[originally published at on Dec. 7, 2007]

The Depth of Mitt Romney's Faith

Mitt Romney: "Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government." From his speech today.

During a debate on May 16 of this year: "I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo."

Other precious lies and hypocrisies from today's speech: "We believe that every single human being is a child of God -- we are all part of the human family. The conviction of the inherent and inalienable worth of every life is still the most revolutionary political proposition ever advanced. John Adams put it that we are 'thrown into the world all equal and alike.'"

"America took nothing from that Century's terrible wars -- no land from Germany or Japan or Korea; no treasure; no oath of fealty."

[originally published at on Dec. 6, 2007]

Giuliani, Robertson, Israel and Thanksgiving

Many from across the political spectrum seemed surprised when Pat Robertson recently endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president, but this was only the most recent manifestation of one of the worst aspects of the relationship between Christianity and the state. As Blase Bonpane, whose books include "Liberation Theology and the Central American Revolution" has written:

Back in the fourth century when the Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea on the Turkish coast ... imperial theology was born. The sword and the cross came together in building empires, in the Crusades, the Inquisition, the conquistadors and most recently among the 'Christian' war mongers who are cheerleaders for the war in Iraq.

Bill Berkowitz has noted the most pertinent statements from Giuliani and Robertson:

"We had a lot of time coming back from Israel to talk about our understanding of how important Israel is to the United States, how important they are in this whole vast effort that we're involved in this terrorist war against us," Giuliani recently told Radio Iowa. "We realized that we agreed on far many more things than we disagreed on." ...

For Robertson, Election 2008 is not about the bread and butter social issues that have fueled the conservative Christian movement for more than two decades. Rather, it is about the "defense of our population against the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists," Robertson told the National Press Club audience. "Our world faces deadly peril...and we need a leader with a bold vision who is not afraid to tackle the challenges ahead."

All this is notable, but it only touches on some of the deeper reasons why you see an alliance between the likes of Robertson and Giuliani and what that says about the nature of how religion is used in the political sphere today and for centuries -- going back to the oldest books of the Bible.

While the Bible has been misused and many great things in it are too seldom noted (a recent exception is Cindy Sheehan's "Faith and War") there are sinister aspects of it that are even more rarely scrutinized. Chief among these is the biblical mandate to exterminate and ethnically cleanse. While many are unaware, or at least unconscious of such biblical teachings, it's doubtful that Giuliani, and especially Robertson, are. Consider Deuteronomy 7:1-6:

When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations -- the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. ... This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones ... and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

This facilitated not only conquests by the ancient Israelites, but also European colonialism of the last half millennium. Rev. Michael Prior, who died a few years ago, wrote in an essay titled "The Right to Expel: The Bible and Ethnic Cleansing" for the book "Palestinian Refugees: The Right of Return":

Many Puritan preachers referred to the Native Americans as Amalekites and Canannites, who, if they refused to be converted, were worthy of annihilation. Thus Cotton Mather, [now mostly remembered for his connection to the Salem Witch Trials] author of Magnalia Christi Americana, [which is still excerpted in the Norton Anthology] delivered a sermon in Boston in September 1689, charging the members of the armed forces in New England to consider themselves to be Israel in the wilderness, confronted by Amalek: pure Israel was obliged to 'cast out [the Indians] as dirt in the streets' and eliminate and exterminate them.

The Catholic dioceses of the U.S. continues to draw a celebratory parallel between the Israelite and European conquests. The Preface of the Catholic Eucharistic Prayer for the liturgical celebration of Thanksgiving Day states:

Once you chose a people and gave them a destiny and, when you brought them out of bondage to freedom, they carried with them the promise that all men would be blessed and all men could be free. ... It happened to our fathers, who came to this land as if out of the desert into a place of promise and hope. ...

This was used by an Archbishop to welcome the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican in 2005, saying "The Preface compares God's chosen people with Americans -- and some people think this is an exaggeration, but I don't."

Prior writes that the Israelite ethnic cleansing was the origin of the term and distinct: "Indeed, the term 'ethnic cleansing' itself, I suggest, is related to a conflation of the biblical notions of 'unclean'/profane' with the command to 'drive out' the inhabitants of Canaan (Exodus 23-24; Numbers 33; Deuteronomy 33 and Joshua), because, according to the biblical legend, they had defiled themselves by their evil practices (Leviticus 18:24). Uniquely in ancient literature, the biblical legend projects the extermination of the defiled indigenes as a divine mandate. With the authority of its religious provenance that value system has been incorporated into European imperialist ideologies, 'legitimizing' the destruction or displacement of indigenous peoples."

The biblical text calling for extermination and ethnic cleansing in historic Palestine and by European colonialists to justify genocide in the "New World" have now come full circle. Since before its creation, Israel has been engaged in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians with the support of the U.S. government -- see "Israel's Approved Ethnic Cleansing" by Edward Herman for example. There is much other than the use of biblical text to connect Palestinians with Native Americans, see Ramzy Baroud's "Palestinians and Native Americans: The Inherent Struggle for Freedom and Justice."

While in 1948, about 750,000 Palestinian were driven from their homeland -- my father among them -- that process is continuing today, in slow motion. As the Israeli activist Uri Avnery writes: "But there are other ways to implement ethnic cleansing: not dramatically, but slowly, daily, even routinely. Like, for example, what's happening now in Bethlehem."

The continued drawing out of the "peace process" as Israel continues to expand colonial settlements, expropriate water, economically suffocate Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and bomb their neighborhood while the U.S. government delays and then organizes hollow talks such as those coming in Annapolis, gives Israel time to continue the slow motion ethnic cleansing process -- and possibly wait for an "opportunity" for another mass expulsion. Obviously, Palestinian violence against civilians is immoral and gives propaganda pretext to massive Israeli violence.

Many today look aghast at the crimes perpetrated against the Native Americans, but seem reluctant to confront Israel's crimes at their height. Others focus on what Israel is doing today as if this were unique in history, ignoring the legacy of European and U.S. settler colonialism.

The U.S. and Israel are the most militarized of the nations born of overwhelming ethnic cleansing in the last several centuries. They are settler colonial enterprises. This doesn't mean they have no good aspects, it's just a fact -- a fact that begins to explain some of their worst behavior and the religious basis for it that should be confronted.

[originally published at on Nov. 22, 2007]

What are the US and UK "Shared Values"? Liberty?

The day the Bush administration announced a major arms deal to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Gulf States, Bush and Brown talked about the US and UK's relationship:

Bush: "But it's an important relationship primarily because we think the same. We believe in freedom and justice as fundamentals of life. There's no doubt in my mind that freedom is universal; that freedom is a gift to each man, woman and child on the face of the earth, and that with freedom comes peace. And there's no doubt in my mind those of us who live under free societies have an obligation to work together to promote it."

Brown: "Call it the special relationship; call it, as Churchill did, the joint inheritance; call it when we meet as a form of homecoming, as President Reagan did -- then you see the strength of this relationship, as I've said, is not just built on the shared problems that we have to deal with together, or on the shared history that is built, as President Bush has just said, on shared values. And these are values that he rightly says are universal. They're the belief in the dignity of the individual, the freedom and liberty that we can bring to the world, and a belief that everyone -- everyone -- should have the chance of opportunity."

[originally published at on July 21, 2007]