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Posts tagged Hordak

Cry havoc! and let slip the pronouns of war…

Here’s the New York Times’s report on Hordak‘s latest battle-cry:

BRUSSELS, May 11 — Vice President Dick Cheney used the deck of an American aircraft carrier just 150 miles off Iran’s coast as the backdrop today to warn the country that the United States was prepared to use its naval power to keep Tehran from disrupting off oil routes or gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.

… Mr. Cheney’s sharp warnings appeared to be part of a two-track administration campaign to push back at Iran, while leaving the door open to negotiations. It was almost exactly a year ago that the United States offered to negotiate with Iran as long as it first agreed to halt enriching uranium, a decision in which Mr. Cheney, participants said, was not a major player. Similarly, the speech today was not circulated broadly in the government before it was delivered, a senior American diplomat said. He kind of runs by his own rules, the official said.

With two carrier strike groups in the Gulf, we’re sending clear messages to friends and adversaries alike, he said. We’ll keep the sea lanes open. We’ll stand with our friends in opposing extremism and strategic threats. We’ll disrupt attacks on our own forces. We’ll continue bringing relief to those who suffer, and delivering justice to the enemies of freedom. And we’ll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.

I want you to know that the American people will not support a policy of retreat, Mr. Cheney said. We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and then we want to return home with honor.

— David E. Sanger, New York Times (2006-05-11): On Carrier in Gulf, Cheney Warns Iran

According to the story, after Dick Cheney completes his Middle East mission of sending clear messages, he will return home, sometime next week. No word yet on when American soldiers will complete their mission of opposing, disrupting, relieving, delivering military justice, occupying, keeping the sea lanes open, etc., or when he and his buddies will allow them to return home. Nor is there any word yet on when he and his buddies will stop forcing the American people, i.e. the rest of us, to foot the bill for his plans against our will.

Further reading:

April Fools

Quick review.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, and several other senior government officials in the U.S. and U.K. told us that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. They told us that they were actively trying to find nuclear weapons. They told us that they had connections with the al-Qaeda terrorist network, and that therefore Iraq posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States. Therefore pre-emptive war was necessary, and nothing short of regime change would do.

photo: Dick Cheney

They lied. When Ambassador Joe Wilson told them that their evidence for claiming that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire nuclear weapons was a forgery, they kept citing that completely spurious, forged evidence in public statements. When the U.S. intelligence apparatus was not giving the answers that they needed to justify their policy, they didn’t change the policy; they set up a new intelligence office to give them the answers they wanted. Questions were left unasked and intelligence was cherry-picked and sexed-up and those who offered cautious, qualified, or dissenting views were were marginalized by the
gang at the top and their political appointees at the top of the intelligence agencies
. Needless to say, the caveats and doubts were completely erased in the governments’ public declarations and policy statements. Mysteriously enough, somehow or another, the attitudes of the mad-dog bosses at the top created an environment where groupthink flourished and even though the intelligence community was inundated with evidence that undermined virtually all charges it had made against Iraq (Washington Post 2005-03-31), not one word of this evidence made it past the policy gate-keepers in the President’s cabinet. In other words, they had a goal, they looked for evidence to support that goal, and when they did not find good evidence they repeated evidence that they were informed repeatedly ahead of time was questionable or completely spurious evidence, and they shamelessly bowdlerized the data to in order to hide these opportunities for doubt and hype their war.

And it turns out that what they claimed on nearly every point was false.

photo: Donald Rumsfeld

Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

Iraq had no connections with al-Qaeda.

Iraq was not any threat to the United States whatsoever.

Or to put it another way: they lied through their fucking teeth and, as a result, some 10,000-100,000 Iraqi civilians were murdered, thousands more were brutalized and tortured, and over 1,500 British and American troops have died in a rudderless, pointless bloodbath.

Dead wrong indeed. You fucking assholes.

Now that the latest report on intelligence failures–even while piously avoiding unauthorized inquiries into questions concerning the political use of intelligence in driving war policy, of course–has reiterated these sorry facts yet again, it seems that our august media and government officials are finally turning to serious questions of responsibility and policy, to make sure that something like this never happens again.

For example, The New York Times’ Op-Ed page indignantly blasts the Administration for encouraging the credulous use of shaky testimony from unscrupulous interested parties.

Meanwhile, Kit Bond tells us it’s all Bill Clinton’s fault..

And the commission’s report and Bond and the rest of the blowhard brigade have got an answer. Here it is:

The commission’s report said the principal cause of the intelligence failures was the intelligence community’s inability to collect good information about Iraq’s WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions rather than good evidence.

The single most prominent recurring theme of its recommendations is stronger and more centralized management of the intelligence community, and, in general, the creation of a genuinely integrated community, instead of a loose confederation of independent agencies.

The panel urged Bush to give broad authority to John Negroponte when he is confirmed as the director of national intelligence.

— CNN 2005-04-01: Report: Iraq intelligence ‘dead wrong’

The problem, you see, is how decentralized intelligence-gathering in the United States is. We’ve got to make sure in the future that we can avoid the politically-driven manipulation of data, that we can prevent dissenting or cautious assessments from being filtered out by hard-charging bosses, that decision-makers get all the information and analysis that they need to make a balanced assessment. And the best way in the world to do this is to consolidate and centralize as much of the intelligence apparatus in the United States government as possible.

photo: George W. Bush

Because nothing ensures a wide range of opinion and the integrity of data like making sure that it’s all filtered through a single directorate before it reaches decision-makers.

A single directorate under the control of one all-powerful political appointee, who answers directly to the President.

And that one political appointee should be John Negroponte.

All of this would be really depressing. I’m just glad that it’s nothing more than one sick fucking April Fools’ joke.

Right?

The Spitting Image, His Secret Identity Revealed edition

I’ve mentioned before how much I love the Internet’s resources for cheap political mockery, and I thought that I had Dick Hordak Cheney all figured out. But the following amazing snapshot, nabbed from Rox’s Write Your Own Caption #79, makes me think I had it all wrong. Yes, it’s hard to avoid the resemblence between ol’ Dick and the ruthless leader of the Evil Horde, but in light of the recent photographic evidence, there is one undeniable question that must be asked:

photo: Dick Cheney smiles photo: Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Warner Brothers' Batman (1989)

Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?

Strict Construction

During the late unpleasantness, in spite of a sharply divided electorate and sharply worded debate, there was one point of agreement that you could always count on. To illustrate, here’s George Bush, trying to lay the smack down on Kerry:

When our country is in danger, it is not the job of the president to take an international poll; it’s to defend our country.

And here’s John Kerry doing his best to sidestep the smack down by insisting that he agrees with Bush on the principle:

What I said in the sentence preceding that was, I will never cede America’s security to any institution or any other country. No one gets a veto over our security. No one.

Of course, Bush and Kerry disagree over something here: they disagree over what Kerry’s position is. But of course that disagreement reveals a fundamental agreement between the two: both of them accept the underlying premise that it would be absolutely damning for a Presidential candidate to tie decision-making about when and where the American military is deployed to another country or an international body. In fact, this is a point of political dogma repeated endlessly by almost everyone who has anything at all to say about the matter. Here’s William Saletan in Slate:

It’s clear from Kerry’s first sentence that the “global test” doesn’t prevent unilateral action to protect ourselves. But notice what else Kerry says. The test includes convincing “your countrymen” that your reasons are clear and sound.

And here’s Dick Cheney, direct as ever:

We heard Senator Kerry say the other night that there ought to be some kind of global test before U.S. troops are deployed preemptively to protect the United States. That’s part of a track record that goes back to the 1970s when he ran for Congress the first time and said troops should not be deployed without U.N. approval.

Now, I think that the Right is obviously wrong on the exegetical question of what Kerry actually said and believes, but I won’t belabor the point here (if you want it belabored, I suggest Roderick’s discussion at Austro-Athenian Empire). Let’s take it for granted that neither Bush nor Kerry would give another country a veto over American security policy, and move on to the critical question: do they have legitimate grounds for refusing to do so?

You’d take it from the way the debate has gone that it’s self-evident that they do: everyone in the droning classes seems to take it for granted that no sane governor could reasonably think that you ought to give other countries a veto over American security policy. Yet both Bush and Kerry were running for President–an office whose legal authority is supposed to derive from the Constitution of the United States. And the Constitution (which you swear to uphold when you become President) says, inter alia, that

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. (Article VI, emphasis added)

One of those treaties made under the authority of the United States is the Charter of the United Nations, which was ratified by the United States government in 1945. If you accept the Constitution as legally binding, then you have to accept the provisions of the United Nations charter as legally binding; and among those provisions are:

Article 2

§ 2. All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

§ 3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

§ 4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Article 33

§ 1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

§ 2. The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means.

Article 39

The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Article 40

In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. … The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.

Both Bush and Kerry claim to recognize the legal authority of the Constitution and the treaties made under it, including the U.N. Charter. But the plain text of the U.N. Charter gives other countries a veto over U.S. military policy, through the apparatus of the United Nations. Except in cases of actual invasion (which are exempted Article 51), the United States government cannot go to war without U.N. approval without violating the U.N Charter, and thus also the Constitution.

Now, as an anarchist, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I couldn’t care less about the United Nations: I’d argue that trusting a body constituted by the world’s heads of state and their representatives to protect international peace and human rights is about as wise as trusting a League of Foxes to guard the hen-house (and for precisely the same reasons). For that matter, I don’t recognize the legal authority of the Constitution and I don’t think that the pretenders to government office have any legitimate authority to ensnare the rest of us in legally binding treaties. But I do care about bad arguments. If there’s anyone who doesn’t agree with my peculiar views on the nature of legal authority, it’s John F. Kerry and George W. Bush; they claim to recognize the Constitution as legitimate and either one would swear to uphold it after being elected. If they really believe what they claim to believe about the law, then a decent sense of intellectual shame would demand that they either:

  1. … accept other countries’ veto power over the United States’ decisions to go to war,

  2. … move to formally withdraw the United States from the United Nations, or

  3. … stop claiming that the Constitution is the basis for their legal authority

Something’s got to give; you can’t hold all the positions that John Kerry and George Bush loudly insisted that they hold without getting yourself stuck in a rank inconsistency. It may be too much to expect intellectual decency from politicians and political discourse. But if political discourse has lost its sense of shame, then the sooner it learns it again, the better. And someone has got to start the teaching, by example.

As the French might say, écrassez l’infâme.

The Day After Tomorrow

First of all, John Kerry is a douchebag, but I’m voting for him anyway.

Yes, I know he’s a statist, and a lame-o weak-kneed liberal to boot. Yes, I know that he voted for the authorization of force against Iraq, and that he hasn’t announced any plans to do what any rational and sane person should realize it’s time to do–withdraw immediately and completely. Yes, I know that the process I’m going to be participating in tomorrow has no legitimate authority whatsoever no matter who I vote for–and that strategically, replacing one creepy-looking imperial Executive with another slightly less mad one is no means to long-term change. That sucks, but it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter, because voting is a legitimate form of self-defense and I live in a swing state where a handful of votes may determine whether 17 electoral votes go towards throwing George W. Bush out of the White House or propping up four more years of the same.

Yes, most of the reasons I have for voting for Kerry are purely negative ones. He’s bad on the war, sure–but not nearly as bad as its big fat liar of an architect. Yeah, he’s an unreconstructed statist with a bad record on civil liberties–but not nearly as bad as George W. Bush, who has presided over the largest increase in State bureaucracy and spending since the Great Society, and who believes himself accountable to none save God alone. Sure, his campaign has treated feminists like crap, but, Jesus, it’s not like a second Bush administration is going to bode well for the success of feminist activism. And all of this is important. Given that Kerry is not even worse than Bush (and he’s not), one of the single most important reasons to take the time to get out and vote for Kerry tomorrow (if you’re in a swing state, as I am) is that after everything he’s done, George W. Bush must be thrown out of office. If he’s not punished after all of this, then that means one more blow to the fragile bulwarks remaining for justice and freedom in this country. We have precious few opportunities to pull back the reins on galloping Caesarism, and tomorrow is one of them; there’s no excuse, if you have the chance, not to pull as hard as you can.

And there are a couple of positive reasons to vote for Kerry. First, nearly all of his faults are faults that Bush shares or exceeds. But he is good on abortion; he won’t continue the present gang’s war for control over women’s bodies. Don’t think abortion’s very important? Well, you should; if you don’t think that the right of women–also known as “the majority of the population”–to control their own internal organs, or the use of systematic State violence against women to tread on that right, is a really big deal, well, you had better check your premises. And secondly, Kerry is bad on almost everything else–but a possibility for making things better exists under a Kerry administration that will continue to be vanishingly small in an entrenched, contemptuously secretive, smugly self-satisfied second Bush adminisration.

All that said, we need to remember, as it comes down to the wire, that tomorrow is not the Battle of Armageddon. The world will go on whoever wins, and we will need to figure out what we are going to do–because we are going to face some pretty hefty challenges whether Kerry or Bush is partying at the end of the night (or whether both of them are biting their nails waiting on further legal developments).

So I know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow–voting and then volunteering to go door to door for a few hours before I turn in. And I figure you know what you are going to be doing, too. But here’s the question: what are we going to be doing the day after tomorrow? Come November 3, what can we do that will move things forward whether it’s Bush or Kerry we’re going to have to be dealing with?

For my part, I don’t know entirely, and I’m interested in hearing what y’all think. (Comment away!) But I do know one thing for sure.

I sure am tired of following these assholes.

I’m tired of the two-party duopoly, and I’m tired of incumbents. pinning my hopes on blockheads like Kerry and I’m tired of listening to know-it-all professional blowhards speculate about the color of Kerry’s socks and its impact on undecided Soccer Moms. I know that we are going to need to keep organizing and take the fight to them no matter who wins, but I can’t take federal representative politics much longer and I can’t say that the prospects for meaningful, long-term change through picking between these guys look tremendously bright.

Yeah, Deaniac grassroots politics would help. Sure, we could use instant runoff voting and term limits and lowered ballot access requirements. Fine, I’ll put in my two cents’ worth in favor of building independent parties. I don’t dispute that that would help things a bit. But the more that I think about it the more I think that we (address this to my Libertarian comrades or my Leftist comrades or my Anarchist comrades, whichever you prefer) ought to re-think how we are trying to get things done when we’re working undercover in The System. Because I, for one, am about at the end of my rope.

I’m sure that Kennedy and the rest of the No Treason! crew will take this as as good an opportunity as any to argue that building movements is a dead-end game. I don’t buy that, yet, for a lot of reasons–I suspect that a rigid distinction between volunteer politics and businesses involves some confusions about the nature of the market in a free society, and I have a lot more faith in ordinary people and the historical record of people’s movements. For the time being, at least, I’m more than willing to sign on for political organizing, activism, and evangelism–even working in the belly of the beast, if need be, to help give people some space to breathe and a chance to defend themselves. But not the way we’ve been doing it.

When I go to the polls tomorrow, I won’t just have the chance to pick some idiot or another for federal races. I’ll also have the chance to vote directly on whether or not a number of proposals will be made law. I can do this because Michigan has voter initiatives; and when I vote on an initiative I don’t have to worry about spoilers, parties, trade-offs between candidates, or anything of the sort. It’s a simple up or down and I can make my choices on each issue on the ballot independently–rather than trying to figure out which dude will line up with more of my choices on the whole than the other (and whether that dude can get elected or whether I should vote for someone who’s a bit worse but in a position to win, and…).

Nearly half of the states in this country empower you and I to gather signatures and put laws straight on the ballot without having to lobby legislators or roll logs or hope the least-worst major candidate might consider making a speech about it sometime. Most of us who have been paying attention to voter initiatives have been spending our time fighting them–with good reason, when the initiatives being put out are idiotic stuff such as Amendment 2 in Michigan or Measure 36 in Oregon. But why are we letting these assholes make all the first strikes? We’ve been building a vast network of interlinked volunteers with a do-it-yourself political ethic, from the upsurge of the antiwar movement to United for Peace and Justice to MoveOn and the Dean campaign. So come November 3, how about we start putting those resources to work in the 20-odd states with voter initiatives? (And while we’re at it, bringing them to bear on the state legislature in states that don’t yet have voter initiatives.)

My suggestion would be to focus on campaigns that clearly put the case to the people that the government needs to get its hands out of the till and take its boots from off our necks. Medical marijuana ballot initiatives are a good start–they’ve been extremely popular where introduced and when they win (which they often do) that means one more state in which the federal drug goons have to either get mired down in extremely unpopular campaigns or else just give up. That should be expanded to an effort to roll back the racist War on Drugs more broadly. And here are some other ideas to ponder:

  • Initiatives to curtail corporate welfare–say, for example, abolishing corporate hand-out programs or restricting the power of state and local governments to use eminent domain for corporate development.

  • Death penalty moratorium bills

  • Ending taxes that disproportionately burden people living in poverty–for example, rolling back sales tax on food and other necessities.

  • Resisting the federal warfare State–by passing bills requiring the state government to refuse to comply with the PATRIOT Act, any future draft, or whatever other national security assault on our rights you’d like to single out.

  • Some resources for making it easier when we do have to deal with the party hacks–term limits, recall statutes, lowered ballot access restrictions, instant runoff voting, ….

All of these are simple, practical, incremental changes that would do some good, allow for coalition-building between Leftists, libertarians, and (sometimes, I suppose) small-government conservatives too. We have the resources to mount big door-to-door campaigns, with volunteers and with money raised from supporters; we have the resources to do some real good over the next four years whoever is in office. Better yet, we could start actually talking with each other like rational human beings about issues and whether or not some particular law should be made, instead of dickering over who looks more Presidential and whether Hordak or Smiley Face came off as more of a mindless hack in the latest tete-a-tete.

So, in that spirit, I’m resolving to pitch myself into grassroots politics come November 3. Real grassroots politics–not browbeating the grassroots into supporting some least-worst candidate’s politics, but rather writing letters to the editor, working more with local political organizations. And I’m going to start looking for, and talking about, and acting on, getting some voter initiatives that will make a real move forward on the ballot. I’m tired of following the idiots in the suits; it’s time to take the resources that we’ve got and take our case to the people.

Further reading

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