War Crimes In Gaza, Racism In America, Missile Shield Issue, Cheney’s Bad Back And The Most Corrupt Members Of Congress
The lion's share of blame in the report, however, falls on Israeli forces, which stand accused of planning out a disproportionate use of force, the punishing of a civilian population, and reckless disregard for civilian lives-- all of which are war crimes in international law. The report suggests that some Israeli actions may have gone beyond being mere war crimes to being crimes against humanity. The report will go to the UN Human Rights Commission, which will likely accept it. The findings could in theory drag Israeli officials before the World Court in the Hague, though in practice this outcome is highly unlikely.
Both the Israeli government and Hamas rejected the report as biased, which is a pretty good indication that it is even-handed.
Both rightwing Israeli news sources and Aljazeera English are convinced that the report is so many words on paper and that it will have no effect.
Both rightwing Israeli news sources and Aljazeera English are convinced that the report is so many words on paper and that it will have no effect.
I disagree. Amnesty International has endorsed and defended the conclusions of the report, and Human Rights Watch has also been a supporter of Justice Goldstone. Even the British House of Lords debate on this issue last May displayed a determination that there be no double standard and that Israel be held accountable for any crimes it committed-- likewise Hamas.
Israel's continued inhumane blockade of the people of Gaza and its drive to further colonize the Palestinian West Bank, as well as its tendency to launch wars at the drop of a hat, are increasingly making it an international pariah and impelling a boycott movement, especially in Europe but also Canada. The recent World Council of Churches resolution in favor of some boycotts is also a bellwether. (Nor can such boycotts be avoided by Jewish nationalists' attacks on the academic freedom of boycott proponents such as Neve Gordon; or by Stern Gang character assassination tactics deployed against US academics who protest the policies of the Israeli rightwing.)
Israel is deeply dependent on trade and technological sharing with Europe, and the Goldstone report will give a fillip to the boycott movement. It will also cast a long shadow on future Israeli wars on its neighbors and how they are perceived, as Aluf Benn argues in Haaretz.
The report will color how Israeli politicians' demands for a military attack on Iran are viewed internationally, and it weakens the position of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is defyingPresident Barack Obama by committing to build more Israeli housing on Palestinian land in the West Bank at a time when the US has called for a settlement freeze in preparation for restarting peace talks.
No Israeli official publicly presents a plausible end-game for Gaza and the West Bank. You can't just go on economically strangling 4 million people for decades. Unlike other world conflict situations, Israel is not striving to incorporate the Palestinians as citizens (unlike the case in Sri Lanka, which wants the Tamils as citizens, or in Tibet, where China wants the Tibetans as citizens). In contrast, Israel is keeping the Palestinians stateless, and stateless people have no property or human rights. It is governments that guarantee rights. For those lacking citizenship in a real country, the only glimmer of justice that ever appears is in the form of blue ribbon commissions. Hence Justice Goldstone's report.
The United Nations has finally completed its report and indicted Israel of committing severe War Crimes and possible Crimes Against Humanity in Israel's December 27, 2008 through January 18, 2009 attack on Gaza Strip. ...Pro-Pakistan - http://www.pro-pakistan.com/
The inquiry, headed by a former South African judge, Richard Goldstone, delivered a detailed and damning criticism of the war, accusing both Israel and armed Palestinian groups, notably Hamas, of war crimes and possible crimes against ...
Goldstone Denies Bias In Gaza War Crimes Report
The head of a United Nations commission that charged Israel with committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip during its offensive there ...See all stories on this topic
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Jimmy Carter's blast against Barack Obama's opponents was just, but the left too has problems with people of color
When it comes to respect for former president Jimmy Carter's staunch and consistent anti-racist stance and his fearlessness in speaking what he considers to be the truth without fear or favour, I take a back seat to no one.
He has stated that much of the ire aimed at President Obama's healthcare reforms, his spending plans and other initiatives is based on racism, that there is an inherent sense in America that no African American should be president of the United States. Inherent?
Anyone over three years old knows the United States was built upon race, among other things, and that it remains utterly race-addicted on all sides. Sooner or later, race will always step forward and take a bow. But in the matter of calling opponents to President Obama racists, Carter needs to take the advice he gave to Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential primaries and "give it up".
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you would have to have had a heart of stone not to laugh as the comment pages, the cable networks' politico-comedians, the blogosphere, the twitterati and 24-hour news feeds came alive as a result of Congressman Joe Wilson's boorish and crass outburst on the floor of the House during Obama's address last week.
The man shamed his office, his state, his party and his mother, but heapologised to the president, and the president accepted. But for many, this was not enough. One prominent columnist even opined that "boy!" was the unsaid coda to the outburst.
Fox News's Glenn Beck – a real-life Howard Beale, that crazed broadcaster from the 70s film classic Network – must be rubbing his hands in glee. Once again, the left has stepped in the mess and can't smell it yet.
I watched in horror during the campaign last year as the media, the left and liberals alike jumped on what they thought was surely going to be some kind of post-racial love train with Obama as train driver, conductor, ticket collector and onboard entertainment. For them, nothing was going to stop their revenge – I mean, righteousness.
To call the anti-Obama healthcare protesters in the main racists is to overlook the small but potent coalition that it is. This is a melange of classic anti-big government, pro-small government people: garden variety fiscal conservatives, the hardcore "end-of-days" Christian right, pro-gun and anti-abortion elements, staunch anti-communists and yes, of course, ye olde racists. But they've always been there. Sorry, but where's the news?
And to say, as some do, that no president has been as maligned as Barack Obama is not to have read American history very closely. I can recall, during anti-Vietnam war protests in my student days, marching behind a sign that read: "LBJ Pull Out! Like Your Daddy Should Have Done!" Andrew Jackson's wife was called a prostitute, Wilson insane. In the 44th president's case, race is added to the usual anti-Washington, anti-administration mix. It's nasty. It's scary. It makes you angry. But this is what it is.
I can indeed hear and recognize the code words being shouted out: "give our country back"; "the American people"; "defend the constitution". Add to these words like "tyranny" and "fascism", and anyone can see what President Carter means.
But conservatives and right-wingers are not the only racists. I cringed during the campaign at the drooling of male broadcasters over the candidate's physique; the "cool black guy" envy many of them subliminally expressed in their words and their writing which risked reducing Obama to some kind of fantasy. There still are those lachrymose liberals who can't stop welling up every time they see a black face in their vicinity. And there is the syndrome, whose name is even now being invented by psychologists, for those white people who feel that they can say things to black people that they would not have done before, simply because they stepped up to the plate and voted for Obama. Racism cuts both ways.
Obama's campaign slogan was "Change". We on the left need to change. Change our tired, ideologically driven responses to events. Change our moth-eaten rhetoric. Change our demands on what people of color, women, disabled people, gays and lesbians ought to be when they attain positions of power. Change the arrogance and class bias too often buried in the language the US left uses, such as "astroturf", "cracker nation" and "faux-News" – and change too the establishment oligarchy that shapes our opinions and forms our images.
Above all, we must change the unspoken belief that Barack Obama isour president. However else this presidency ends up, it will be primarily the creation of the person elected to office. Before our eyes, he is building his mission, reshaping, reconfiguring, adjusting.
We have a great man in the Oval Office. With him, we are in uncharted waters. Let's help him keep the ship of state steady – and let's shut up.
Barack Obama has abandoned the controversial Pentagon plan to build a missile defence system in Europe. The move has prompted accusations of betrayal from Washington's eastern European allies but delighted the Kremlin.
In one of the sharpest breaks yet with the policies of the Bush administration, Obama phoned the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic last night to tell them he had dropped plans to site missile interceptors and a radar station in their respective countries. Russia had furiously opposed the project, claiming it targeted Moscow's nuclear arsenal.
Obama is to announce the reversal officially at a news conference today. This morning the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, revealed that Obama phoned him about it last night.
During a visit to Moscow in July the US president indicated he was ordering a 60-day review of the scheme. According to today's Wall Street Journal, the findings, to be released next week, conclude that Iran's long-range missile programme is progressing more slowly than previously thought. Citing US officials, the paper says the White House believes Iran's short to medium-range programme poses a more potent and immediate danger.
A Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, described Obama's decision as a "major adjustment" that would better protect US forces and allies in Europe from Iranian missile attacks.
"We are adjusting our system to make sure our forces and our allies are protected from that changing and growing threat. Just as the threat has developed, so too has our technology. We believe we have a more flexible, capable system to deploy to protect our forces and friends in Europe," he said.
"This improvement to the system has nothing to do with Russia and everything to do with Iran."
Russia hinted that Obama's decision would not be met by any swift or generous concessions. The country's foreign ministry spokesman, Andrei Nesterenko, described the move as "obviously a positive sign for us" but made clear the decision had been a unilateral one taken by Washington alone. He suggested there had been no deals with Moscow on Iran or other issues. "That would disagree with our policy of resolution of any problems in relations with any countries, no matter how difficult or sensitive they may be."
The US decision will cheer many in government in western Europe who believed the scheme was an unnecessary provocation to the Russians. But today the Czech Republic and Poland expressed disappointment at the White House's decision to reverse track after six years of difficult negotiations. Senior sources in Warsaw and Prague said they would insist on the Americans honouring pledges they made to the Nato allies in return for agreeing last year to the plan for missile defence deployments.
Alexandr Vondra – a former Czech deputy prime minister and ambassador to Washington intimately involved in the negotiations with the Americans – said he was surprised. "This is a U-turn in US policy," he said. "But first we expect the US to honour its commitments. If they don't they may have problems generating support for Afghanistan and on other things."
Under the Bush administration the Pentagon spent years planning and negotiating to place 10 silos with interceptor rockets in northern Poland and to build a large radar station south of Prague to defend against a perceived ballistic missile threat from Iran.
The central European countries were keen to acquire the US installations and other military hardware as partial security guarantees against a resurgent Russia. Moscow claimed the project was aimed against Russia and threatened to deploy short-range nuclear weapons in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits inside the European Union.
Obama's climbdown is likely to be seen by Russia as a victory for its uncompromising stance.
Today, however, analysts pointed out the decision would help Obama secure Moscow's co-operation on a possible new sanctions package against Iran and would further his desire to "reset" relations with Moscow following a dismal period under the Bush administration.
It would significantly boost the chances of a new treaty on strategic nuclear arms reduction between Washington and Moscow, they said. Both the US and Russia have agreed to come up with a successor treaty to Start 1 by December, when the current agreement expires.
"Hardliners in Russia don't want an agreement on Start. It will be very difficult now for Russia to avoid an agreement," said Ruben Sergeyev, a defence analyst in Moscow. "It [the decision to drop the US shield] creates a very positive ambience, despite the fact it was really an artificial thing."
The decision strengthens Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, who is due to make his first presidential trip to the US next week for the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. The Obama administration has been keen to boost Medvedev's standing and authority at home, seeing him as a more moderate and less hostile interlocutor than Putin.
Today the Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said Obama's decision was "a positive step". Rasmussen said he had been briefed by the US envoy to Nato about it.
But the timing of the announcement is regarded as disastrous by the Poles. Eugeniusz Smolar, a former chief of Warsaw's Centre for International Relations, said: "We are disappointed." But he added that the Polish government had been assured by the Americans that promises of training with Patriot missile batteries and help in modernising the Polish military remained valid.
A few weeks ago, in a cri de coeur to Washington, several senior eastern European officials and public figures wrote a public letter to Obama complaining that their security interests were being ignored by the west in order to improve relations with Moscow.
Rasmussen, in his first big speech, is to call tomorrow for a new relationship between the western military alliance and Russia, taking more account of Moscow's security and strategic interests.
Russian experts said Obama's decision could only be seen as an unambiguous concession to Moscow, adding that it would severely disappoint the new Nato countries of eastern Europe. Yevgeny Miasnikov, a senior research scientist at Moscow's Centre for Arms Control, said the US administration would now consider ways of assuaging the Poles and Czechs, which might include providing Poland with Patriot interceptors capable of shooting down short- and medium-range missiles.
"Obama has taken a step in the direction of improving US-Russian relations. This will definitely help build a partnership," Miasnikov said. "Russia will also now make some concessions, maybe on strategic talks over nuclear arms reduction or maybe over Iran.
"Moscow will try to catalyse the process of improving US-Iranian relations and will facilitate dialogue between the two sides. I don't think threatening Iran is the way to solve this problem."
Cheney Center is a disgrace
Casper Star-Tribune Online
Cheney helped to do more harm to international relations and our nation's reputation throughout the world than any vice president in the history of our ...
Former Vice President Cheney Undergoing Back Surgery
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney was undergoing surgery on Thursday to treat an often-debilitating back condition caused by pressure ...
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Cheney Hospitalized For Elective Back Surgery
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WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney is having elective back surgery at George Washington University Hospital. Cheney spokeswoman Lucy Tutwiler ...
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Romell Broom's lawyer may ask governor to consider request for clemency
An inmate whose execution was halted when executioners failed to get the needle into a vein after an unprecedented two hours of trying is traumatised, and trying to put him to death again in a week could spell disaster, his lawyer said.
Romell Broom is still recovering from Tuesday's prolonged execution attempt and is physically and emotionally spent, his lawyer, Adele Shank, said yesterday.
"It went so badly when he was walking in without injured veins, to go forward so soon afterward just seems to be inviting disaster," Shank said.
Ohio governor Ted Strickland's decision to stop Tuesday's execution and grant a one-week reprieve appeared to be unprecedented since capital punishment was declared constitutional and the US resumed executions in the 1970s.
Inmates in several states have experienced delays with the injection of lethal chemicals, but those executions have always proceeded the same day.
Shank said one option was to ask Strickland to consider a request for clemency and to commute Broom's sentence.
Strickland said he is reviewing the incident and consulting prison officials and others about the next step.
"That does not mean there will be a review of the larger issue of lethal injections," Strickland said. "That's been settled. Obviously, yesterday demonstrated that we have a problem with this particular set of circumstances."
A prison log released yesterday blamed Broom's past drug use for problems finding a usable vein. The log indicates that executioners made the observation at 3.11pm, more than an hour after first trying to find a vein.
"Medical team having problem maintaining an open vein due to past drug use," said the log reviewed by the Associated Press.
Broom said at one point that he was a heavy heroin user, but then said at another time that he wasn't, a prison spokeswoman, Julie Walburn, said.
Shank said she was unaware of any such drug use. "If there's such a thing, it's got to be at least 25 years old," she said. "I don't thinking it should be having an impact at this late date."
Broom, 53, has been placed in a cell in the infirmary at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, where he is on close watch. "It was the right place to keep him," Walburn said. "The less we can transport an offender, the better."
The night before his scheduled execution, Broom told his brother over the phone that he was ready to die.
"He is tired of being in prison and having people tell him what to do every day," according to the prison log.
Broom was sentenced to die for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton after abducting her in Cleveland in September 1984 as she walked home from a Friday night football game with two friends.
Richard Dieter, director of the non-profit Death Penalty Information Centre, said he knows of only one inmate who was subjected to more than one attempted execution.
A first attempt to execute Willie Francis in 1946 by electrocution in Louisiana did not work. He was returned to death row for nearly a year while the US Supreme Court considered whether a second electrocution would be unconstitutional.
In 2007, the Georgia execution of inmate John Hightower was delayed for several minutes while officials struggled to find a suitable vein in his left arm.
Florida halted executions after the death of Angel Diaz in December 2006 was delayed for 34 minutes because needles were accidentally pushed through his veins, causing the chemicals to go into his muscles instead. Florida resumed executions in 2008 under new procedures.
Ohio has executed 32 men since Wilford Berry in 1999, an execution also slightly delayed because of problems finding a vein.
Elsewhere in the US, a man convicted of killing a suspected drug dealer during a robbery 18 years ago was executed yesterday evening in Texas ‑ the 17th this year in the country's busiest death-penalty state.
The Really Big Flush!!!
Line Of Succession If Obama/Soetoro Removed From Office
NewsWithViews.com - Merlin,OR,USA
The stupid Republicans made a mess of the entire, disgraceful "event"
by ... the former Chief Investigative Counsel of :
the House Judiciary Committee and a ...
With New York Rep. John McHugh now confirmed as secretary of the Army, the special election race to succeed him is about to kick into high gear. Read More
If state lawmakers give Gov. Deval Patrick the power, he will appoint someone to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy until after a Jan. 19 special election. Read More
September 17, 2009, 5:08 AM
Generations ago, industrialists and financiers extracted fortunes from the copper and gold mines dug into the canyons near Salt Lake City. Now, their modern-day counterparts are resisting a government proposal that could shut down what has become another gold mine of sorts, The New York Times’s Eric Lipton writes.
Utah is the nation’s unlikely capital of industrial banks — niche institutions that primarily make loans to businesses. Corporations like Goldman Sachs, Target and General Electric have been attracted to the state to set up such institutions. While they have brought billions of dollars in deposits, thousands of jobs and millions in charitable donations to Salt Lake City, the banks have also drawn fire from Washington.
The Obama administration argues that the banks pose a threat to the economy because their parent companies can engage in risky practices but are often exempt from routine scrutiny by the Federal Reserve. Treasury officials want to require the corporate owners of the nation’s 41 industrial banks to accept more rigorous regulation or be forced to sell or shut them down.
“The president’s regulatory reform plan is not about fighting the last crisis, but trying to avoid the next one,” Michael S. Barr, assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions, told The Times. “If we preserve known loopholes in consolidated oversight, then we will just be inviting the next Bear Stearns or A.I.G.”
But the banks are fighting back. “We are talking about survival here,” Louise P. Kelly, president of EnerBankUSA in Salt Lake City, told The Times.
Defending the institutions as safe and profitable, she and others have mounted a campaign to not only block the administration’s plan, but to expand the number of such banks. The industry is deploying lobbyists, jawboning lawmakers, doling out campaign contributions and trying to persuade Treasury and banking officials.
So far, they appear to be winning some concessions. Sheila Bair, the chairwoman of theFederal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have both said they would favor allowing owners of existing industrial banks to maintain their banking operations.
“They told me that divestiture would be very disruptive, and I agreed,” Mr. Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, told The Times in an interview, referring to Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chief executive at General Electric, and other G.E. executives who met with him in July. “It is not a matter of them wreaking havoc.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and other officials are pressing ahead with their proposal to require the institutions to submit to Federal Reserve oversight, part of a sweeping package of regulatory reforms. But the battle over the banks, expected to intensify now that Congress is back in session, demonstrates how difficult enacting tougher regulation can be.
A Lobbying Battleground
The nation’s industrial banks hold $130 billion, only about 1 percent of federally insured bank deposits. They trace their history to the early 1900s when small lending houses sprang up to offer loans to factory workers who otherwise could not get credit. Today, the banks — almost all are in Utah, Nevada and California — do all manner of lending.
Unlike commercial banks, though, all but the smallest industrial banks are barred from offering checking accounts, so most have no retail branches. And they are not supervised by the Federal Reserve nor are their parent companies required to set aside capital reserves that could be used if a bank gets into trouble.
While no industrial bank has failed in the last year, Capmark Bank and Marlin Business Bank sustained losses that are forcing them to curtail operations. The F.D.I.C. recently ordered another, Advanta Bank Corporation, to stop taking new customers because it was in peril.
Utah became a haven for industrial banks in the last decade, relaxing laws to lure them there after Congress prohibited them in states that did not already have them. Companies like BMW and Pitney Bowes, and major investment banks, including Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, soon set up shop. Assets at such banks in Utah skyrocketed from $3 billion in 1995 to $243 billion last year, although the numbers have since dropped to $106 billion, largely as a result of a rush to convert to commercial bank status to qualify for government bailout money.
In Salt Lake City, the banks have been a welcome presence. They created an estimated 15,000 jobs at the banks and related service companies, and their executives have sprinkled money around to everything from the Utah Symphony Orchestra to housing for the poor.
The Obama administration plan, though, presents a double threat to the state. If the Treasury department prevails in insisting on Federal Reserve oversight for industrial banks, there is no reason for those owned by national financial services companies to be headquartered in Utah. And terminating the industrial bank charter, along with other new requirements, could force manufacturing giants like G.E. to sell their financial arms because of federal prohibitions against commercial companies operating banks.
Indeed, perhaps no company has more at stake in the debate than G.E., which operates its $10 billion industrial bank, GE Capital Financial, at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, 15 miles south of downtown Salt Lake City.
Located in a new office complex, it hardly seems like a bank at all: it has no branches, no A.T.M.’s and hardly any walk-in customers. But it lends to businesses across the nation. It has financed loans to more than 5,000 fast-food restaurants, helped equip about 4,000 dentists’ offices and allowed small businesses to buy tens of thousands of forklifts, delivery vans and other equipment.
“This is boring — forklifts, grills at Burger King,”Russell Wilkerson, a G.E. executive who was visiting his company’s Utah offices last month, told The Times. “It is middle-market America.”
Those loans may be boring, but they have proven to be lucrative. G.E.’s industrial bank ranked as the nation’s 46th most profitable bank earlier this year.
If General Electric had to sell off GE Capital — the large financial unit of which the industrial bank is a subsidiary — it would cost shareholders $40 billion in lost market capitalization, or 22 percent of current market capitalization, according to an estimate by a Goldman Sachs analyst, because of higher taxes, lower net income and higher capital overall requirements. “It is first unnecessary because it did not contribute to the crisis, and second it would be disruptive to the economy and lending,” Brackett B. Denniston, G.E.’s general counsel, told The Times in an interview.
Like other industrial banks here, G.E.’s is regulated by Utah’s Department of Financial Institutions, as well as the F.D.I.C. State officials resent any suggestion that they are lax in their oversight.
“We have proven there is a way to manage these institutions,” Darryle P. Rude, Utah’s chief industrial bank supervisor, told The Times. “So why would you want to eliminate a system that has not been a threat?”
But critics tick off a list of complaints about the banks, including assertions that owning them gives their corporate parents an unfair advantage and encourages risky practices.
Companies that own industrial banks can finance lending operations more cheaply than their competitors by relying on federally insured deposits at their banks, instead of going to the more costly bond market, said Matthew Anderson, a consultant who studies bank industry earnings.
In addition, he and others point out, state regulators and the F.D.I.C. do not have the same powers as the Federal Reserve to demand changes in risky business practices by parent companies that might indirectly threaten their industrial banks.
Treasury officials have not blamed industrial banks for a role in the financial crisis, but they do argue that the regulatory loophole permitted abusive actions by some of their parent companies that fed the problems.
“This is not about picking on anyone, but they contributed to risk in the system,” a Treasury official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the issue, told The Times.
A few industry observers go further in their complaints. Some companies intentionally chose an industrial bank charter — where they could raise money through brokered C.D.’s, investor funds in cash accounts and funds from business clients — so that they could take riskier bets and have higher leverage in their other business units, argued Raj Date, who leads a nonprofit industry research group, Cambridge Winter.
He said that parent companies of eight of what had been the top 12 Utah industrial banks filed for bankruptcy protection or received large allotments of federal bailout funds or other federal financial support in the last year. Those companies — including Merrill Lynch, GMAC, Morgan Stanley and CIT — consumed $70 billion, according to Mr. Date’s analysis. (Those institutions have all closed their industrial banks, in most cases a condition of accepting the money.)
“The United States of America has lost billions of dollars based on inadequate regulation,” James A. Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa and longtime critic of industrial banks, told The Yimes. “Once you set up an exception like the industrial bank charter, the smart and the big are not dumb. They will exploit it. And that is just what they did.”
Executives at industrial banks, including those operated by Harley Davidson, Toyota, Pitney Bowes and G.E., reject criticism they were a factor in the financial crisis, a position shared by Ms. Bair, the F.D.I.C. chairwoman.
The bankers said that many financial institutions without industrial banks also turned to the federal government for a bailout. They added that industrial banks have nearly twice the capital reserves of a typical commercial bank.
“For the last ten years the industrial banks have been the strongest, best capitalized, most profitable, least likely to fail banks in the country,” George Sutton, a former Utah bank regulator who has helped set up several industrial banks, told The Times.
The de facto headquarters for the industry’s lobbyists is a small office building a few blocks from the Utah capitol, where Douglas S. Foxley and Frank R. Pignanelli are based. The partners, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, have tried to persuade skeptics in Washington that the industrial banks are part of the solution to the economic crisis, not a cause.
They have appealed to Utah’s Congressional delegation, the home state delegations of the banks’ parent companies, and Congressional and committee leaders. The banks’ parent companies have made campaign contributions to some lawmakers.
For example, G.E., which has a variety of issues before Congress having to do with its role as a defense contractor, manufacturer and financial powerhouse, made $500,000 in donations to legislators since January, including the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada; Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, the chairman of the Senate Banking committee, and Senator Bob Bennett, Republican of Utah.
“What it comes down to is a lot of blocking and tackling,” Mr. Foxley, the lobbyist, told The Times. “We have to stop this.”
Glenn Beck and The 9/12 Marchers: Subversives From Within
Who are these people?! Where do they come from?! Ordinary Americans might wonder why anyone would stoop so low as to follow Glenn Beck, Fox News and Dick Armey (and their corporate sponsors masquerading as "FreedomWorks") as they organize their "9/12 March On Washington" to cynically exploit the 9/11 attack.
Patriotic Americans might question the organizer's aim to provide a media forum for dimwitted right wingers to scream "Liar!" "Socialist!" "Antichrist!" "Muslim!" "Death Panels!" "He's not an American!" and so on and on and on about the commander in chief charged with defending us from further attacks. And some people might even cry "shame on you!" to the more mainstream Republicans participating that include Dick Armey of FreedomWorks, as well as GOP Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Pence of Indiana, Tom Price of Georgia, and South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint.
Ordinary folks from Planet Earth may ask why the Republican Party, right-wing activists and members of the Religious Right seem so unreachable with mere facts let alone decency and decorum. (As the proud father of a US Marine who fought in Afghanistan, I'm particularly outraged that these people would exploit the 9/11 attacks after my son and others were prepared to give their lives in response to our enemies.)
As a former Religious Right leader, who was raised (and home-schooled by my Evangelical-leader parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer) in the movement, let me explain just why the ordinary rules of decency don't apply to the right these days.
Let me also answer this question: Who are these people?
Protecting Your Children From Satan
A big part of the answer to understanding the heightened climate of outright hate and fear of the "other" is the home school and Christian school movement. It is a modern incarnation of the anti-federal government ideology of earlier firebrands such as John Calhoun who was the 7th Vice President and a Southern politician in the 19th century. Calhoun embraced slavery, states' rights, limited government, and said that Americans should secede from the union if it went against their wishes. (See: "Calhoun Conservatism Raises Its Ugly Head" by Mike Lux in the Huffington Post Sept 11/09.)
In the early 1970s the evangelicals like my late father and James Dobson decided that the our society had fallen so far "away from God" and so far from "America's Christian history" that it was time to metaphorically decamp to not just another country but to another planet:. In other words virtually unnoticed by the media and mainstream political operatives, a big chunk of American society seceded from the union in all but name.
What they did is turn the white race-based in "Christian school" movement of the 1950s into a countercultural phenomena. As tens of thousands of new Christian schools opened, it was no longer just about "protecting" white kids from minorities and African-Americans. It was about protecting your children from Satan in other words the United States government's long reach through the public school system.
To protect your children from Satan -- in other words mainstream, open patriotic and pluralistic America -- you either kept them at home where mom and dad could teach the children right from wrong or sent them to a cloistered private evangelical/fundamentalist school. At home or in school you used curriculum prepared by the likes of James--beat-your-child-and-dare-to-discipline-Dobson, RJ-slavery-was-a-good-thing-Rushdoony, or many and other right-wing anti-American activists. That curriculum presented "secular America" as downright evil. Hating the USA became next to godliness.
The Anti-American Home Schoolers Come Of Age
We are now several generations into this experiment of holier-than-thou withdrawal from our American mainstream culture. If you wonder who it is that's both running and underwriting organizations such as the Family Research Council, Focus On The Family, Freedom Works and other organizers of the 9/12 March and who are the most faithful followers the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh or viewers of Fox News your answer is: it's the home school/Christian school generation of men and women now hitting their thirties and even forties who might as well have been raised on a different planet.
What are these home school and Christian school children taught? Here's a quote from one of the far right's leading home school curricula creators:
"The political question is this: By what biblical standard is the pagan to be granted the right to bring political sanctions against God's people? We recognize that unbelievers are not to vote in Church elections. Why should they be allowed to vote in civil elections in a covenanted Christian nation? Which judicial standards will they impose? By what other standard than the Bible?"
(Gary North of Institute For Christian Economics)
The generation raised on the belief that the US government is illegitimate because it is trying to "impose" non-biblical laws on people has hit the streets. These are the people who grew up indoctrinated into an alternative reality. Today they are out there waving signs of Obama dressed as Hitler. They are buying weapons and ammunition. Some are in the growing and revived militia movement. They are Dick Armey's foot soldiers. People like Armey and Beck can count on the ignorance of their dupes. It's against their religion to read a real newspaper, watch anything but Fox or go to a real school.
Evangelical Red Guards
Over the last 30 years Evangelical fundamentalists have managed to do what Chairman Mao failed to do with his Red Guards: indoctrinate a whole generation of evangelical people to see their own society as the enemy and act like subversives from within the culture. These people are as anti-American as Al-Qaeda. The "Christian Reconstruction" movement is working for theocracy. Reconstructionism (of which Gary North is one leader) says that the law given for the political and legal ordering of ancient Israel is intended for all people at all times.
Reconstructionist leader David Barton gives a definition:
"The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God's law."
Who are Glenn Beck's foot soldiers? In effect what we have is a group of indoctrinated people who have never actually lived in America because they were brought up deliberately cloistered from it by their parents and churches. Because they are legally "Americans" they can move freely around our democracy trying to destroy it working within the United States. Today they are acting like a fifth column, no, they are a fifth column. Some of them have not just seceded metaphorically, there is even a growing movement for states to secede literally.
Today the right wing America haters actually are doing to America what no "illegal" immigrants ever do: work to overthrow our democracy and replace it with a theocracy. The home-schooled, privately educated brainwashed horde are an antidemocratic, fundamentally anti-American political movement. For a start they do not accept the results of the last election.
Liberal/Progressive Wishful Thinking and Blindness
Meanwhile those ordinary Americans including many Democrats, progressives and liberals who work within the system can hardly imagine that there are people so far outside the lines of what they regard as ordinary decent behavior that the progressives seem psychologically unequipped to deal with this reality.
President Obama is one such person. His talk of bipartisanship is a pipe dream. Why?
Bipartisan Pipe Dream
Because you can't be bipartisan with people who don't play by the same rules -- say accepting the will of the people -- as you do. Obama is not alone in his gentlemanly wishful thinking. For instance consider New York Times book review editor Sam Tanenhaus saying in his book (The Death of Conservatism) that the the conservative movement is over.
Tanenhaus rightly points out that the extremism of the right has driven away traditional Republicans. I ought to know! I, as a life-long Republican and former Religious Right activist helped create this situation. But Tanenhaus and others like him just don't get the fact that the far right is resurgent, in fact more dangerous than ever as a wounded animal is dangerous. They don't get it because kindly liberals also live in a bubble.
The kindly liberal reasonable bubble of an open free culture in which reason, argument in fact prevails is far removed from the other America, one of militia training camps, fundamentalist churches, parents who follow Dobson's "parenting" advice by "breaking" their children and whipping them (as Dobson tells them to do in his books) and thus raising the damaged and dangerous automatons of biblical vengeance and sadism.
The Last Chess Game You'll Ever Play
What reasonable people don't understand is this: if one person is playing chess abiding by the rules and their opponent is losing at the chess game it may appear that they have lost the match. But what if one person is willing to change the rules? For instance, if you're playing chess against someone who -- if they start losing -- takes a lead pipe out of their back pocket and smashes you over the head with it the "rules" change.
The real story of the Religious Right and their power to destroy is told by Max Blumenthal in Republican Gomorrah, and Jeff Sharlet in The Family and by me in Crazy For God. What our books have in common is the understanding that you can lose in the political system but still "win" -- according to your destructive agenda -- if your agenda is non-political but rather religious and apocalyptic in nature.
To understand the Religious Right today and how dangerous they are don't think politics -- think serial killers who "win" by "getting even" with the society they perceive as having disrespected them. It isn't about facts. It isn't about election results. It isn't about truth. It's about victimhood and revenge on the "elite" in other words on everyone not like you. It is about the weird combination of sadism and masochism Blumenthal describes in his book.
Think Republicans who have no plan of their own for health care reform other than stopping Obama. Think "Deathers" and "Birthers" who are all about de-legitimizing our system as "evil" because it includes rights for gays.
New Rules: Anarchy and Scorched Earth
What those who think that the power of the Religious Right and/or the Republicans is ended don't understand is that it's only ended if you believe in the rules. When I say the rules I mean, for instance, that if you lose an election the other side gets to legislate. However if your opponent is not interested in the rules and is, A) waiting for Jesus to return and consume all the "infidels" or, B) you are just waiting to take that "lead pipe" out of your back pocket -- say go to public meetings and intimidate people by carrying loaded weapons to those meetings -- or worse, maybe even use them to shoot down someone -- all polite bets are off!
The fact of the matter is we now know what the experiment in raising children outside of the American mainstream means. It means that there's a whole subculture within American culture that mistrusts facts precisely because they are facts. They glory an alternative view of not just politics but of reality.
They frequent the creationist museum and look at dioramas of dinosaurs cavorting with humans. They believe that gay people choose to be gay just stick it to the rest of us and could change if they invite Jesus into their hearts. They believe that before you run for governor of Alaska, for instance, you should get a preacher specializing in "casting out the spirit of witchcraft" to anoint you so you can win against the demonic forces of secularism -- as was the case with Sarah Palin when she first ran for governor. They believe that the NRA was telling the truth when they claimed that Obama would "take away your guns" and so have loaded up with more guns and ammunition. They think the time has come to rise up and overthrow the government. And yes, most of them also believe that black people are inferior to whites, so to have a black man in the White House is itself "proof" of American's fall from grace.
There's no arguing with such people and no winning against them using mere elections. They are not playing by American rules. Their idea of winning is not fair elections but Armageddon.
Religious Right Growing Again
Those who say that the Religious Right and the far right have lost their power are looking through the lens of rule-obeying democratic liberalism. They don't understand that their opponents will always carry the proverbial lead pipe in his or her back pocket. To the progressives who think that the Religious Right and the right wing has lost its power I say this: You're correct when it comes to political facts (for the moment) of the last election, but you're dead wrong when it comes to the way revolutions work.
Second American "Tea Party" Revolution
Revolutionaries never have played by the rules. They don't have to win by the rules. They hate the rules. They don't live in a rule based or fact based universe.
They believe they are serving a "higher cause" so it makes the "mere human" rules unimportant. They're ready to shout down opponents, call out "liar" about someone telling the truth, undermine public meetings and/or commit physical violence. They are also willing to become the tools of cynical corporate lobbyists using them for ulterior purposes, say stalling health care reform.
In order to "win" -- in other words destroy our country as we know it -- the far right merely needs to be true to its own rule which is, to put it very mildly, that coloring outside the lines is not only perfectly okay but required.
Not only do the Religious Right distrust facts to them facts are evil. You are "satanic" if you believe in evolution. You're also satanic if you believe health-care reform is about anything but death panels and abortions. You're satanic if you don't believe that gay people are evil or if you think sex education is sensible. You're satanic if you don't believe in Satan!
The tactics that progressives develop for actually winning against the right have to involve far more than politics. They have to also involve ceaseless vigilance against an enemy that has now -- literally -- raised up an armed, paranoid and deluded alternative nation within our borders and created a fifth column to undermine the United States and our democracy. They need to be called out by the rest of us in no uncertain terms.
Long term the Religious Right subculture has to be understood, then exposed for what it is: an anti-democracy movement built on willful lies with potentially violent underpinnings in the thrall of an apocalyptic cult of revenge on everyone not like "us." It is also the useful tool of corporate lobbyists. Who use these shock troops of the proudly ignorant for non-ideological reasons.
The Religious Right may have lost a round politically but they've still got a "lead pipe" in their back pocket. They can still "win" by making the rest of us lose our democracy by increments. They will even spit in the rest of our faces by exploiting the national tragedy of 9/11 in their 9/12 "Tea Party" march.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and the forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)
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