Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let Them Light Candles

AS reported by news media around the world, Israel decided several days ago to interrupt fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel -- actually on the township of Sderot, 1 kilometer from the Gaza border. In view of the Palestinian attacks on innocent civilians, Israel’s intermittent power cut seemed to bespeak a super human patience and forbearance. Why God Himself could hardly be as mild in his judgements. Inconvenient? Well Let them light candles!

But there is always the “fine print”. Overlooked in all the blather about electricity cut offs was the following, courtesy of the New York Times:
"Israel said Sunday day that they had begun reducing fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip and had closed one of the two crossings through which food, medicine and other supplies pass into the area. ... As a result, only limited supplies of basic goods are allowed to enter the strip, and all exports of produce are prohibited. ...
"[According to a government spokesman,] the number of trucks of food and other goods entering Gaza will be reduced to roughly 55 trucks a day from 100 to 120, “We will allow in the minimum amount of food and medicines necessary to avoid a humanitarian crisis,” he said.”
A fifty percent reduction in food supplies? On a per-capita basis that boils down to a starvation diet. The “humanitarian crisis” Israel labors hard to avoid means what? The avoidance of “mass death”? But wait, what do starvation diets lead to?

Perhaps one could take a page from Raphael Lemkin’s seminal work “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.” According to Lemkin, who coined the term, genocide operated on cultural, social, economic and biological levels. Lemkin writes:
“The destruction of the foundations of the economic existence of a national group necessarily brings about a crippling of its development, even a retrogression.”
The physical debilitation and even annihilation of national groups in occupied countries is carried out mainly in the following ways:
1. Racial Discrimination in Feeding. Rationing of food is organized according to racial principles throughout the occupied countries. "The German people come before all other peoples for food," declared Reich Minister Göring on October 4, 1942. In accordance with this program, the German population is getting 93 per cent of its pre-war diet, while those in the occupied territories receive much less: in Warsaw, for example, the Poles receive 66 per cent of the pre-war rations and the Jews only 20 per cent.
2. Endangering of Health. The undesired national groups, particularly in Poland, are deprived of elemental necessities for preserving health and life. This latter method consists, for example, of requisitioning warm clothing and blankets in the winter and withholding firewood and medicine. . . . Such measures, especially pernicious to the health of children, have caused the development of various diseases.
Lemkin’s schema of genocide has not been fully incorporated into international law. Nevertheless, it provides a cogent framework for analyzing genocidal policies from sociological and ethical perspectives. Cutting back on food deliveries in Gaza is strictly analogous to the General Gouvernement’s food “policies” in occupied Poland.

To argue that such measures are “reprisals” against a so-called barrage of rocket attacks on civilian Sderot is simply beside the point. International law prohibits indiscriminate reprisals. The whole purpose of the prohibition is precisely to put limits on the kinds and degrees of retaliation allowed. The limitations presuppose that there is something to retaliate over in the first place. To argue that the “right to retaliate” wipes away limits is simply to wipe away international law itself.

Precisely that kind of “they-started-it” argument was rejected at Nuremberg. The Nazi leveling of Lidice, in Czechoslovakia, was done in response to the unlawful, indisputably terrorist murder of Heydrich, the duly appointed administrator of those occupied territories. What made the Nazi response to that and other partisan acts of sabotage and murder a crime was not that retaliation was not allowed, but rather that the retaliation employed was excessive and indiscriminate, if not altogether an excuse to engage in counter-terror over and above deterrence and extermination over and above lawful reprisal.

Israel's trail of tu quoque’s can ultimately only lead back to the inceptional fact that European Zionists sought to colonize and invade a land that was not theirs by any genealogical or mythological stretch. That aside, the you started it gambit doesn’t work because the “its” are neither militarily nor morally equivalent.

Palestinians and Israelis are engaged in a conflict over land. But in this conflict, Israel -- among the world’s foremost military powers -- holds all the cards. It has control of Gaza’s borders. It has control of Gaza’s finances. It has control of Gaza’s air space. It has control of Gaza’s electricity and power. It has control of all entry and exit into Gaza. When democratic elections produced results Israel did not appreciate, it simply resorted to economic strangulation. No Indian Reservation was so controlled as Gaza whose only historical analog in recent memory are Lodz and Warsaw -- and, like Lodz and Warsaw , Gaza is one if not the most crowded places on earth. To claim some kind of moral equivalence from such state of inequality is simply perverted.

All animals will resist their capture and imprisonment. The human animal is no different. It is entirely natural that Palestinians, not wanting to live under Israeli domination, should resist. One should not expect otherwise . To self-righteously intone that they ought not to resist is to dress up in flimsy moral tissue a demand for abject and acquiescent submission.

Gazan resistance is in fact puny and pathetic. They cannot inflict any real damage on Israel. The facts bespeak the inequalities. According to Human Rights Watch, since 2005 there have been 2,700 Q’assam rocket attacks “into Israel”. The holocaustian horror conjured up by such a phrase qua headline is that of Jerusalem, O Jersualem recoiling under a barrage of missiles. Reading the usual zionist histrionics, one might think that a new “holocaust” was in the making. But these “missiles” (jumbo firecrackers really) have a range of a few kilometers and no more. In fact, just about the only place they can hit is the border village of Sderot. Human Rights Watch reports that as a result of these 2,700 attacks four Israeli civilians have been killed and 75 injured.

Contrast these “horrendous” casualties with the almost daily reports of 9, 5, 17, 23, 4, ...... Palestinians killed in some Israel counter-action. We have gotten so accustomed to the daily reports of Palestinian dead that no one pays attention. Adding insult to injury, these dead are brushed aside as “collateral damages”. Israel routinely has some low level corporal announce that Israel was targeting a “military installation” and oooops ... just happened to blow up the surrounding civilian neighborhood. Needless to say, the “military installation” is the rooftop from which the Q’assam rocket was allegedly fired.

Who the hell is the one taking the punches here? Any moron can see that it’s the Palestinians who are hemorrhaging. How the hell does it all add up here? Very simply this: Palestinians and Israelis are trading punches. In this wretched game of retaliation, Israel consistently gets in the better and more bloody punch. So be it. But now comes Israel decked out in the usual sack cloth and ashes and says that in addition to its regime of retaliatory collateral damage it has decided that it “has to” further retaliate by putting all of Gaza under a starvation regimen.

Shit by any other name stinks just as bad; and putting an entire civilian population on a “minimal” allotment of food and medicine qualifies as genocide.

©WCG, 2007

07/10/30 Israel Restricts Gaza Crossing as Firing Persists - New York Times

Rafael Lemkin on Web:

Human Rights Watch Reports

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How Zio-Cons seek to Deride & Deflect Criticism

“I would say, as a card-carrying member of the neoconservative conspiracy,” said William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, “that Giuliani, McCain and Thompson are all getting really good advice

Ah yes!. The ridicule that admits. How does this work?

Prima facie, there is no such thing as a card-carrying neo-con conspirator. In the American historical lexicon, the phrase alludes to McCarthy era “card-carrying communists” and is intended to suggest (1) an organized, (2) secret (3) subversive (4) economic & political (5) conspiration. The image conjured up is that of communists infiltrators and spies, meeting in dark corners, leaving messages in telephone booths and burrowing their way into government, a la Tinker Tailor & Spy

Of course the analogy is rife with an inherent ridiculousness. Not only are conservatives not communist but neo-conservatives are, in fact, apostated communists. However, since the unmistakable allusion is to the discredited McCarthy hearings which are generally viewed as an disgraceful example of “witch hunting,” bear baiting and official persecution, the phrase infuses the ridicule with a strong flavor of odiousness.

The art of making something loathsome and ridiculous at the same time is the hallmark of the Meister Sophist, propagandist and rabble-rouser. If you've ever wondered why Bill Kristol has a perpetual smirk on his face, now you know why.

However, in the hierarchy of eristical sophistries, Kristol ascends higher than a mere monsignor; for, it will be noted that in this case, Kristol has inverted the trick. It is not the "card-carrying conservative" who is exposed as ridiculously loathsame, but rather the characterization of conservatives as "card carrying"

No one has actually gotten up and accused that neo-cons of being “card carrying conspirators”. No one has actually drawn an analogy to the Communist Party of the 30’s and 40’. The only one who has done that is Kristol himself. What Kristol has managed is something like a pre-emptive strike, making pre-ridicule of something that has not been said, and letting it be known that it would be ridiculous to even think of saying it. Deride and Deflect.

But Kristol’s tactic has a deeper allusion; one that is intimately and intuitively understood by neo-conservatives themselves. McCarthy’s harum scarum about card-carrying communists was itself an allusion to the older fascist accusastion directed at Jewish-Communists or Jewish Bolsheviks. It is odd how for certain purposes the human ear seems to require certain alliterations; but, in all events, McCarthy took the anti-semitic race card and replaced it with a carrying card. These deeper allusions are congenitally understood and would never be overlooked by neo-conservatives since their founding lights -- Irving Kristol, Norm Podhoretz et al. -- were exactly the people McCarthy and fascists alluded to: Jewish Communist-Leftists.

Of course, the whole point of neo-conservativism is that it founders apostated from anything remotely “left”. With this history in mind, Kristol’s ridicule is structured into the very paring of “card-carrying” with “conservative” and adds a strong dash bitterness to the broth.

What is understood equally by then Jewish-Communists and now Jewish neo-cons , is that the "Jewish-Bolshevik" label of the early 1900's was itself an offshoot of the infamous Protocols of Zion of the 1860’s. For those innocents who may never have heard, the Protocols was a forged document which was allegedly “discovered” by the Tsarist secret police and which detailed a plan for Jewish World Domination. The Protocols became the totem of anti-semites.; and it is fair to say that no one who considers himself a Jew is not alive to any hint of Protocol-talk. Thus, at bottom, Kristol’s preemptive strawman is aimed at denying and denigrating the notion that neo-conservativism might be a Jewish or Zionist “conspiracy”.

But the question has to be asked, why would Kristol go out of his way to dredge all this crap up, just in order preemptively ridicule it? Has anyone accused the neo-conservatives of meeting in dark subway tunnels to plot jewish world domination? Well.... anyone not in Idaho, at least?

Neo conservatives seem to think so. According to Joshua Muravchik, a Jewish fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, "Neocon” is now widely synonymous with “ultraconservative” or, for some, “dirty Jew.” [ here ] Is this paranoia or what? While there certainly has been growing criticism of the pro-Israeli tilt in U.S. policy, critics have gone out of their way to avoid equating "zionism" and "judaism" and have carefully avoided anything that might smack of "dirty Jew" talk. No - it is Kristol and Muravchik who are in fact playing the “race card”. What they are saying is don’t even dare to think, much less say, that we are a card carrying jewish conspiracy.

Why not? Facts are facts. The fact is that neo-conservatices are card-carriers. They carry identity cards that allow them into the halls and conclaves of AIPAC, WINEP, JINSA, and AEI (to say nothing of Israel itself). Let these institutes speak for themselves:

AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Committee) was founded to “help make Israel more secure by ensuring that American support remains strong."

WINEP (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) was founded in 1985 by Martin Indyk, then research director for AIPAC and later U.S. ambassador to Israel, in order to promote[ ] an American engagement in the Middle East committed to strengthening alliances, nurturing friendships, and promoting security, peace, prosperity, and democracy for the people of the region."

JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security) was established (1) "To educate the American public about the importance of an effective U.S. defense capability so that our vital interests as Americans can be safeguarded; and (2) To inform the American defense and foreign affairs community about the important role Israel can and does play in bolstering democratic interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East."

AEI (American Enterprise Institute) was established primarily to promote international neo-liberalism, but it's policy paper track record has been unmistakably and markedly pro-Israel, and Islamic and in favor of "preemptive" strikes against nations it labels as "terrorist".

The policy statements of these organizations themselves make it crystal clear that they are pursuing a pro-Israeli, zionist agenda which they have conflated with U.S. interests. Moreovoer, a cursory look at their actual papers will reveal that they are the ones who most conflate "judaism" with "zionism" and deny the existence of those Jewish voices that are not zionist and that are appalled by Israel's conduct.

I am not here arguing the merits of this agenda; I am simply pointing out that it exists. There is a group of people a substantial percentage of which are Jews, who are united in an political agenda and who meet regularly (behind closed doors, in fact) to churn out papers and strategies to advance that agenda...which, among other things, is unquestionably supportive of Israeli-Zionist aims.

Are the merits of this agenda a proper subject of discourse? Yes. Does Kristol seek to pre-empt debate on the merits by a pre-emptive veiled accusation of anti-semitism? That too yes. Kristol and fellow zio-cons should recall, if they can, that their tactics usually become self-fulfilling prophecies.

©WCG, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mr. Depravity To Spew More Sulfur

The presidential imbecile is scheduled to throw an official temper tantrum before a crowd of Cuban hysterics, White House staffers announced today. According to the New York Times, Bush will warn Cuba, in stern and unbending terms, that he will not accept a transfer of power from Fidel to Raul Castro. Of course, the transfer occurred last year. But never mind.

Imbecile is expected to demand that Cubans continue to resist the Castro regime, as they most certainly must have been doing for the past 60 years.

His Depravity is expected to blather that “while much of the rest of Latin America has moved from dictatorship to democracy” Cuba “continues to use repression and terror to control its people” who have “suffered economically” as a result of Castro’s rule.

No. No. No. Cuba has suffered economically as a result of a US imposed embargo (aka siege) designed to strangle and starve.

No. No. No. The ones who terrorized their people were US-imposed scum like Videla who tossed kids out helicopters, Stroessner who walled up people alive and Pinochet who had women waterboarded and bottle-raped.

It is certainly true that about half of Latin America has moved from US backed dictatorships to US extorted neo-liberal sell-offs. Either way, half the continent continues to live lives of no-win, economic struggle and deprivation while the even less fortunate, the bands of ragged kiddie orphans wandering through Foochimori’s Lima, struggle to find enough sniffing glue to dull the hunger pains.

It is true that, as a communist state, Cuba does not permit capitalist multi-party democracy, that it has curtailed dissent and, at times, imprisoned opposition that went no further than words. At worst, such a record would put Cuba politically on par with a number of Latin-American "democracies" and many others as well. The difference is that the Cuban leadership works for the people's health, education, housing and welfare as best it can; whereas beneath Mr.Depravity's spew of liberal slogans -- odious on account of the policies to which they have been prostituted -- is the naked aim to turn Cuba into yet another third world cesspool where human beings can toil for $1.00 a day and be reduced to picking for scraps on festering garbage heaps.

While the smirking punk that besmirches the Offal Office may congratulate himself on his pimping for corporate brutality and greed; the other half of Latin America has had enough of Hell’s Nostrums, US style "democracy" and malignant US corporations bankrolling murderous bands of White Guard thugs. That half, is closing US bases, sending the IMF packing, founding its own development bank and elaborating economic polices and social programs that actually help their fellow human beings.

May Batista’s snarling exiled Ferengi gag -- and gag deeply -- on Mr. Depravity's sulfurous fuming.

©WCG, 2007

Yet Another Revolting Week (14-21 October 2007)

In what has become a never ending cycle of grotesquerie, the week began with a nominee for Attorney General struggling not to condone torture and ended with the Vice President urging an attack on Iran. In between, the world was fetted with the Imperial Imbecile threatening World War III now that France can once again be counted as an ally.

Simulated Mistakes Worse than Sin

Given the Supreme Court’s je suis trop fatigué performance the week previous, it could hardly come as surprise that the wannabe Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Nation (CLEON) would sound the trumpet for Imperial Prerogative while palavering excuses for torture. Testifying before Congress, former federal Judge Mukasey imperfectly suggested that torture was a “sin” while dribbling marbles over whether “waterboarding” constituted torture. Mukasey just couldn’t figure it out. After all waterboarding only “simulates” the feeling of drowing; and since the “subject” is not actually drowning it can’t be all that bad, right? Well gee..... why don’t we just interrogate victims by feeding them chocolate coated brandy bon bons?

The fact is (for those blessed with the most minimal inferential faculties) that waterboarding “simulates” drowning by cutting off air-flow. There is no other way to simulate drowing. None. And, for all who have experienced it, a lack of airflow is extremely painful causing the body to convulse with all desperate force to locate and get air. Does it really make a goddam bit of difference whether the deprivation of oxygren occurs because your nose and mouth are “blocked” or your head is dunked under water? No, it does not. And most humans will talk -- and talk anything -- if only because it gives them a chance to get air.

Credit where credit is due. Senator McCain expressed incredudilty at Mukasey’s slithering response. Hanoi taught McCain something, that’s for sure.

In old days “simulated drowining” was called dunking. It was done (judicially of course) to witches in New and Olde England. At some point in the late 18th Century, the practice came to be condsidered a national disgrace -- a disguting barbarity of which we were ashamed. We were taught, then, that mankind -- at least the civilized portion of it -- had progressed and that this sort of thing was no longer tolerated. We could point to the Eighth Amendment which prohibted cruel and unusual punishment even for those who were convicted of something -- the authors of the Bill of Rights evidently considering it superfluous to state that torture of the presumptively innocent was also prohibited.

Given his excuse-making for dunking, Mukasey’s avowed condemnation of torture didn’t float very well. According to Mukasey, the infamous Brybee Memo from the Office of Legal Counsel condoning torture was “worse than a sin, it was a mistake.” A “mistake” is worse than a “sin”? Is that the kind of idolatrization of expediency that passes for a “moral construct” in the U.S. government? One is left to suppose that Mukasey regards the the Crucifixion of Christ as a tactical error. Well... dunkings, hangings, “three-meals and a Koran “ (Mukasey’s describption of Guantanamo’s human kennels) are certainly stepping stones.... Jay Brybee is now a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and there is no mistaking that Mukasey will be confirmed as CLEON.

The Kick-Ass Duo -- Yeeeeeehaw!

While Mukasey was entertaining the Senate with his moral low-wire acts, His Imbecility was appalling the rest of the world with his belligerent blatherings. Perhaps Imbecile was simply trying to show friendliness to our new-found, old ally, La Belle France which has, it would seem, joined in the war against terror sans frontiers.

The election of Nikolas Sarkozy as president of France was generally seen as signalling a raprochement with Washington. Sarkozy’s subsequent appointment of Bernard Kouchner as Foreign Minister could only be seen as an accouchement with the zio-con war hawks in Washington. That Kouchner was openly partial to Israel was one thing; that he not too subtly threatened Iran with war was quite another.

Is it at all surprising that imbeciles rush in where devils are backpedaling out of ? Kouchner’s Jolly Roger was hauled down almost as quickly as it had been run up. To keep it down, Vladmir Putin seized the occasion of this week's conference of Caspian Sea Nations to rebuke Kouchner’s “‘misunderstood” remarks. “We should not even think of making use of force in this region,” Mr. Putin declared. That in turn brought a rebuke from Imbecile himself who took to his podium to declare that Iran was threatening Israel and “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having [the] knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

No one in the mudia saw fit to ask who the hell “you” was. Perhaps Imbecile meant Helen Thomas sitting in the front row? Anyone who can connect dots could see that “you” was none other than erstwhile soul-mate “Puti.” The threat was not directed so much at Iran as it was at Russia. Oh that’s just great. Goes to show Imbecile really has balls.

The dismal week ended fittingly enough with the Administration’s Albrecht emerging from his subterranean cave to scowl and growl and threaten Gotterdamerung should Iran get the fabled ring of nuclear power. Speaking to the converted at the pro-zionist Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an ever-grimacing Cheney said, “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” To this end, Cheney threatened that the U.S. and other nations were “prepared to impose serious consequences” on Iran.

Although Virginia Senator Jim Webb stated last week that a military strike on Iran, was Cheney's “fondest pipe dream”, the subservient Anglo-Murkan press repeatedly intoned that “The vice president made no specific reference to military action.” But Cheney did not need to say the boogeyword -- certainly not to this audience of war-mongering zionist hawks. It is often the case that to understand the speaker one has to understand the audience, and Cheney’s audience on Sunday was none other than the Israeli promoted war-on-Iran crowd. A wink and a slur would do for them.

While Cheney’s scowling could perhaps be viewed as a “downward correction” of Imbecile’s far greater threat, the core question that has to be asked is what kind of criminal madmen could fondly pipe dream about igniting a regional holocaust, to say nothing of World War III? Does the stunted, infantilized Murkan consciousness even grasp the destruction and suffering such words signal?

Resorting to its tried and trite savant mode, the New York Times reported with detachment that the Bush-Cheney remarks were viewed as ratcheting up the diplomatic rhetoric in what is apparently a game of “hold-me-back!” What ought to be remembered is that war whoops usually lead to war.

©WCG, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Struggle for Perfect Security

Homeland Security Leader, Michael Chertoff, has nullified a court ruling halting the construction of a border security fence until further environmental impact studies were completed. Chertoff's swift and summary executive aktion will be appreciated by those who value safety above all else and who have little patience for quibbling courts getting in the way of our National Security.

Ever quick to see the core issue and seize the highground, Chertoff explained that he was confident the lower court would ultimately have been overruled in any case and so was merely hurrying things up a little. Chertoff also told us that dirty Mexicans were strewing lots of environmentally degrading garbage in the area which was far worse than bulldozing the whole damn preserve and turning it into a clean if lifeless swatch of concrete.

Of course, what applies to environmental laws applies to any law and we can all rest secure in the knowledge that one man will decide what is best for us and will let nothing stand in the way of securing the nation as tight as the screw will bear.

©WCG, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Supreme Shame.

This week, the United States Supreme Court covered itself with indelible, shame. It prostrated itself before the Imperial Executive's invocation of raison d'etat and denied judicial view to a German litigant who had sued the C.I.A. for kidnapping, false imprisonment and torture.

It would be unright to say that with "a stroke" the Supreme Court undid the very principle of legality upon which this country was founded. The Court was so utterly supine that its "act" of declining to hear an appeal from a lower court dismissal of the suit consisted in assuming a posture of complete judicial passivity and indifference to its own raison d'etre. A crown agent all but walked into the Atrium of Justice, pronounced two words and the court vanished itself like so much water receding into sand.

There was a time when every eighth grader understood that judicial review was the sole bulwark against the evil of secret state security courts like the dreaded Star Chamber. What made the Star Chamber infamous was not that it was irregular or arbitrary. On the contrary, like any inquisitorial court, the Chamber was governed by precise procedures designed to insure the reliability of its judgements. Except, that is, for those special procedures later embodied in the Fifth and Sixth amendments of the Bill of Rights which have been considered necessary to insure fundamental notions of fairness.

What procedures? Nothing more than the right against self-incrimination, the right to be informed of the charges, the right to confront and examine one’s accusers, the right to produce evidence in self-defense and the right to a speedy, full and fair hearing with the assistance of counsel in open court.

Why "fundamental"? Because the justness and necessity of these rights is either self-evident or it is not. These rights are "axiomatic" because they cannot be proved right or wrong. They comprise the Constitutional Faith on which this country was founded. There are arguments that can be made -- and that have been made even by certain Harvard and Yale professors -- in favor of secret proceedings, interrogations in the dark and torture. They are even "reasonable" arguments based practical calculations of risks and benefits. But, for all that, they are not "what we are about." And "what we are about" -- as a People of a certain political faith -- is reflected in the Bill of Rights and the principle of Judicial Review.

There was a time when every eighth grader had read the story of Lord Coke's confrontation with King James I when the Chief Justice approached the Throne and announced that the King himself was subject to the Law. James grew "mightily wroth" and moved to strike Coke who was ushered away. But it was a judicial shot across the bow of executive power. Three years later, in 1610, Coke handed down the decision in Dr. Bonham's Case. The problem in that case was that Bonham was not much of a doctor and had been tried, convicted and fined by the Royal College of Physicians for practicing without a license. Coke and two other judges ruled that the College could not act as a judge in a case in which it was also a party, even if Parliament had given it the "right" to do so. In rendering judgement, Coke announced that "the common law doth control Acts of Parliament, and sometimes adjudge them to be void ... as when an Act of Parliament is against Common right and reason, or repugnant...." By "the common law" Coke unmistakably meant the judiciary. As Chief Justice Marshall would put it near two hundred years later, in Marbury v Madison, "It is emphatically the province of the judiciary to say what the law is."

"What the law is..." is not a question of mere legality. After all, in Bonham's Case Parliament had passed a law authorizing his trial and conviction by the College of Physicians. But for Coke that was not enough because, in his view, that law was "against Common right and reason." To say as much was something of a judicial pun or feint of pen. Because it would have been logically nonesense to state that a law was illegal, Coke subordinated the common law to something higher -- to something he called "common reason". It is this subordination of legality to higher, concepts of due process, reason and fairness that is the foundation of Anlgo-American constitutionalism, and this subordination of law to reason necessarily entails an ultimate subordination of the Executive to the Judiciary.

Later in his career, after consistently making life difficult for his sovereign, Lord Coke went on to draft the Petition of Right one of a long line of English antecedents to the US Bill of Rights. Building on the principles announced in Magna Carta, Coke declared that all men -- not only Lords, Barons and Peers of the Realm -- had a right against arbitrary state actions and exactions. The petition declared unconstitutional certain actions of the king, such as levying taxes without consent, housing soldiers in homes, setting up martial law, and having men imprisoned, disinherited or put to death "without being brought to answer by due process of law."

Lord Coke's career illustrated that judicial review, constraint on executive power, constitutionalism and individual rights, are all strands in one seamless garment. Each implies the other and without any one the fabric unravels. Ultimately, these principles protect our right to breathe free and unshadowed by fear -- fear of unwarranted arrest, night-time detentions, renditions to dark and unknown places and torture. It was not for nothing that the bronze doors to the Supreme Court depict Lord Coke barring King James from sitting as a Judge.

Not for nothing? This week, a crown agent, in effect, pushed through these very doors and with two words -- "National Security" -- barred the Justices from sitting as Judges and denied a man the right to have his case heard in court. This was a case in which the United States Government violated every known principle of "due process" by abducting, imprisoning and torturing a man without even telling him why and on what basis it was subjecting him to such a nightmare. Like all tyrants, the Government condoned itself with the usual spew about safety and necessity. And hiding in their Mausoleum of Justice, Coke's wretched descendants did nothing. There will doubtlessly be those legal hacks who will try to explain away the Court's judicial decadence by blathering about "ripeness of issues" or the need to await the "appropriate vehicle" in the "correct procedural posture." Bullshit.

Tuesday October 9th was a funereal day for the little that was left of five hundred years of constitutionalism. Odious in the eyes of those who apprize liberty, the scum on the court have earned their place in the gutters of history.

©WCG, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Between the Gringo & the Gachupin

It was a sobering if not unforeseeable denouement from the Spirit of Salamanca where in 2005 Latin American leaders united in a spontaneous show of gratitude for the tireless efforts of King Juan Carlos to promote Ibero-American cooperation. Now, two years later, in Santiago, Chile, at the annual summit of Hispanic nations, an exasperated monarch told Hugo Chavez to shut up, and shortly thereafter walked out of he summit’s plenary session to underscore his royal displeasure at criticism of Spanish economic policies in the region.

Needless to say, the neo-liberal media around the world was all a-blast and a-blather with headlines El Rey espetó a Chavez: Por qué no te callas?” It was only a matter of time before Fox or the Daily News would screech: King to Hugo: Shut Up! The monarch’s language was indeed strong. Spitting out a question without using the deferential subjunctive was a notch above the barrack bark of command. Anglo-Americans who care little about Ibero-America and know even less could easily be persuaded that nasty Hugo at last got his well deserved comeupance. Don’t cry for Venezuela... if the full-of-trouble half-breed gets what’s coming

But yesterday’s events can only be understood in their historical context; and for those minimally acquainted with the disaster and tragedy of Spanish and American history, it was a depressing state of affairs.

From the outset, the relationship between Spain and the AmerIndian World was problematic and paradoxical, to say the least. The Iberian conquest of las Américas was a necessary historical event. Simply put, it is a worse than absurd fantasy to maintain that half the world should have stayed at home for 3000 years until the other half made it from stone age to iron age and could deal on equal footing. Even the Indians understood the inscrutable necessity which drove Spaniards to their shores, which is why, knowing full well otherwise, they wrote apologetically that they had thought Cortez was a god.

Spanish rule brought a necessary technological development and cultural amalgamation to the new world. While these changes partially destroyed the indigenous cultures, they also gave painful birth to new hybrid customs and awarenesses which are marvelous in their own right.

But Spanish rule also brought voracious economic exploitation and political discrimination. This latter was not confined to the effective exclusion of the Indian; it included as well a de jure discrimination against native born Spaniards, or criollos as they were known. Spain adopted a mercantalist policy whereby the the colonies in their social and economic entirety existed as the boiler room for the Spanish Ship of Empire. As in the English Colonies, such policies did much to spur the spirit of resentment and revolt.

However, contrary to nationalist myths, the collapse of the Spanish Empire was not brought about by American independence movements -- by the Bolivarian Revolution, the Argentine uprising and the Mexican War of Independence. Rather it was the collapse of Empire that allowed and indeed necessitated the independence of the American states. The political map of Latin America -- what Ché called “divisiones inciertas e ilusorias” -- was not so much the product of genuine grass-roots movements but simply chunks of empire fallen to pieces. What brought the Spanish Empire to its end was a Bonapartist invasion of Spain following on 200 years of Anglo-American piracy and subversion.

The opening salvo in this assault was Cromwell’s propagation of the Black Legend, a spurious and sado-masochistic libel of Spanish cruelty published under the title of The Tears of the Indians and which was used as justification for the “liberation” of Jamaica. Once liberated, the English promptly imported 500,000 slaves, evidently not giving much of a rats ass about the Tears of the Africans.

But the propaganda of Belgian babies roasted on bayonetes only goes so far. To undo an empire, an ideology is needed. This was found in the liberal mantra of “free markets” and “free trade.” Washed of its perfume, what the ideology came down to was a demand to poach on what Spain felt was hers. An entré. A fair slice of the pie. A bite at the apple. Share a bit of what’s yours Jack, it’s only right.

Needless to say, there were those in the colonies -- mostly criollos -- who could not have agreed more. These liberales -- like liberals everywhere -- embellished it all with copious Rouseauian and Jeffersonian flourishes -- but the bottom line was basically simple. If, say, you owned a ranch that produced 1,000 hides a year, you could make more money selling them on the free global market than you could paying the state monopoly prices dictated by privileged merchants in Seville.

Even worse than the merchant-guilds of Seville were the gachupines -- old country Spaniards who were granted the cream off the top. Armed with royal licenses and patents, they would arrive in the New World, make a killing and return home with a new or refurbished title. To the Indian, it is fair to say, old- or new- world Spaniard was a distinction without a difference. But to the mestizos and criollos, these peninsular Spaniards were loathed for their rapaciousness and for that exquisite arrogance of which only the Spanish are capable. Death to the Gachupines became the battle cry of a hemisphere.

As much as the hammer of Bonapart’s regiments, Liberalism was the wedge that shattered the Spanish Empire which became the felled beast and ravaged prey of English and American pirates, smugglers and carpet-bagers allied with tin-pot “local liberators” and oligarchs in the host lands.

In truth, Hispanic America had simply traded one predator for another. For the next 100 years, both Spain and her once glorious colonies slid into a century of what might be called cold anarchy -- a state of perpetual political unrest and uncertainty whose only beneficiaries were foreign investors and their local presta-nombres (name-lenders), venda-patrias (country-sellers) and oligarchs. The Anglos had won at last and las Américas became the economic colony of the Brits and the Americans with supporting roles by the Dutch and the French.

The acrimoniousness that followed in the wake of “collapse and independence” cannot be underestimated. On both sides of the Atlantic, the Spanish world turned not so much inward as away from one another as if the other did not deserve to exist. On the American side, Argentina was the least resentful; Mexico the most. Mexico’s social-democratic revolution in 1910-1920 and Spain’s national-fascist revolution in 1935-1939 only exacerbated the estrangement. Mexico gave refuge to Spanish republicans and never recognized the Franco regime.

As bad as the political estrangement was the economic stagnation that ensued on both sides of the Atlantic upon years of anarchy, revolt and civil war. Whereas during the colonial period, Hispanic America had been within the developed portion of the world, independence only brought under-development and economic dependence. Argentina did relatively well, especially during the Second World War. In contrast Mexico’s 1910 revolution set back her previously achieved prosperity by 30 years. Spain’s loss of empire had reduced her to an economic midget and her civil war had rendered her destitute midget at that. The grandiosity of fascio-nationalist rhetoric only underscored Spain's hopeless, dried-up condition.

But as is well known, shortly after his accession to the throne, Juan Carlos lent his support to the rejuvenation and democratization of Spain. Less well known were his efforts to re-establish what he called the “Ibero-American community.” Too much bad water had flowed under the bridge to put in place what had been Count of Aranda’s farsighted but shelved plan in 1780 to create a Spanish Commonwealth; but Juan Carlos felt that something like that could still be achieved de facto. Beginning slowly, promoting tourism and cultural exchanges, the young monarch sought to revive the better bonds of memory between the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas.

One of the more popular off-shoots of the royal effort was La Ruta del Quetzal a camping route that would acquaint Spanish kids with the colonial and indigenous culture of Ecuador. It was also no small matter that four years ago, mostly as a result of the King’s efforts, the academic reactionaries of La Réal Academia de la Lengua Española, agreed to incorporate a wealth of Ibero-Indian words into the officially authorized dictionaries. Such efforts ultimately culminated at the 2005 Salamanca Summit where it was agreed to institutionalize the reunions so as to give the idea of Ibero-Americanism an ongoing political and economic presence and purpose.

This week, three years on and with the support of Argentina’s Kirchner, the leaders of the Second Bolivarian Revolution -- Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa -- let it be known they are not about to free themselves from the gringo only to reindenture themselves to the gachupin. They would happily welcome renewed Spanish economic ties, so long as they provided a way of freeing themselves from Yankee neo-liberal plunder. If Spain were willing to do for it’s former colonies what Europe did for Spain in the 1980’s all the better. But a Spanish predator is no better than a NorthAmerican one.

The critique was headed up by the Harvard-educated Correa who criticised the conduct of Spanish companies whose predatory practices had led Ecuador into a “long and dismal neo-liberal night.”

As the Spanish monarch and president Jose Luis Zapatero wilted, Correa redoubled the attack scoring Spanish “birds of prey” -- like Telefónica, Santander, Unión Fenosa, and Repsol -- who, allied with European trusts or U.S. and Canadian multinationals, had produced a "chasm of social inequality in a trail environmental devastation.”

That blast, was followed by Chávez, who rose to criticize former Spanish president José Maria Aznar whom he called a neo-fascist, a lackey and a snake for promoting predatory business practices. Chavez recalled that Aznar had once privately told him that the poorer Latin American nations had “screwed themselves”. Responding to a recent complaint by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce (CEOE) against an alleged “lack of juridical security” in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, Chávez denounced Spanish companies for having (juridically) “sacked” Venezuela.

In fact, by criticising a former president, Chávez was being somewhat less direct than Correa, given the fact that the conduct of the Spanish companies remains the same under the Zapatero’s administration. But this obliqueness went over Zapatero’s head and he demanded an apology from Chávez taking into consideration, he said, that Aznar deserved the respect due someone elected by the Spanish People. Chávez replied, that as a paid lobbyist Aznar was globe-trotting disrespect against Venezuela and that he had a right to defend the Venezuelan People against such attacks.

At that point, as Zapatero and Chávez began to talk over one another, the King exploded and to the shock of everyone present, told Chávez to shut up. Undeterred and addressing Zapatero, Chávez replied that Aznar may have been elected but he was still a fascist.

President Bachelet, the summit’s host, smoothed things over; but not one of the Latin American leaders came to the defense of the Peninsulares. Columbia’s Alvaro Uribe, a neo-liberal himself, later advised Chávez to use less forceful language when referring to known personalities, but he did not defend either the King or his president. The feeling among the American leaders was, that if the summits are to be truly substantive they require frank discussion about conflictive issues.

The frank discussion continued in full force when Chávez was followed by Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega who began by noting that 90% of his country was opposed to the predatory business practices of Spanish companies and then went on to state that European policy had subsumed itself to the “dictatorship of global capitalism, led by the United States.”

He criticized Europe’s policy towards Cuba as hypocritical and stated that both Europe and the United States had historically maintained a policy of interference and destabilization with respect to those Latin Ameircan countries who wished to act with true independence. He called for the creation of a new Organization of American States free from the domination by the United States.

Before he had finished, and with a nod from Zapatero, the King left the chamber.

No doubt Fox News and the New York Times will treat the story in much the same manner as the right wing Spanish press which will huff and puff about how a noble and patient king was exasperated by the uncouth, aggression of a demagogue. The reaction from the left has been more sympathetic:
"Without Videla, Pinochet or Stroessner, these ‘Ibero-American’ summits just aren’t what they used to be. Now these sovereign nations dare top criticise the depradations caused by Spanish multinationals and to defend themselves against Aznar’s attacks waged on behalf imperialist lobbies whose servile creature he is. And when they do, the King looses his cool.
“If the image of the gachupines was already bad enough in Latin America, the monarch’s conduct has done a poor service to his country.”
"Perhaps the tone and words used by Chavez and Ortega were not the ne plus ultra of the Castillian language, but actions not words are what cause social injury and in this respect the balance does not run in favor of the Spaniards in attendance at the summit. .... Borbón y Zapatero forgot that they are not in their colonies and that on this side of the planet they can neither command nor demand. ... Nor were they meeting a group of obsequious lackeys; but on the contrary were obligated to listen and to take into consideration the critiques and opinions of their summit counterparts. Or do Borbón and Zapatero think that Latin America is merely the personal preserve of predatory corporations?
"Both men seem to have forgotten that the Crown and Staff are ultimately not worth a goddamn in these parts if they are not accompanied by honesty, wisdom, and most importantly by democratic legitimacy. Unfortunately, predatory enterprises have always counted on the absolute support of the monarchy and, as we know now, from Zapatero as well. Both are simply mayordomos of interantional capital -- a fact which the Spanish ought to correct...."
King Juan Carlos' efforts at creating an Ibero-American Community were a worthy correction of a tragic history if, and only if, they lead to such investments as respect the natural and cultural environment of the host country and pay back a portion of profit into the social and economic welfare of its people.

©WCG, 2007


http://www.europapress.es/00407/20071110163611/cumbre-ortega-acusa-europa tener-doble-discurso-cuba-onu.html