Progressive Calendar 11.22.05
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 15:17:25 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     11.22.05

1. Uncensored rabblerousing 11.22 6:30pm
2. Mpls transportation      11.22 6:30pm

3. Chante/pics/potluck      11.25 6:30pm

4. Storytelling fest        11.26 12noon
5. Northtown peace vigil    11.26 1pm

6. Sister's Camelot  - Holiday FUNdraiser
7. Jeremy Scahill    - This war cannot be stopped by a loyal opposition
8. ed                - The lesser-evil vote
9. Levenson/Milligan - Thousands in US to get cheaper oil from Chavez
10. Joshua Frank     - Dem hawks: just enough anti-war to deceive Dems
11. Chris Floyd      - Torture R US
12. ed               - Christmas laff riot! (poem)

--------1 of 12--------

Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 01:05:17 -0600
From: patty guerrero <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Uncensored rabblerousing 11.22 6:30pm [ed's head]

This Tuesday, Nov 22, we will have Open Discussion.  Please come and share
your thoughts about what is happening in your life and the life of the
world.  patty

Salons are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to
8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call
651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


--------2 of 12--------

Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 06:37:03 -0800 (PST)
From: Todd Heintz <proud2liveinjordan [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Mpls transportation 11.22 6:30pm

Interested in transportation issues? Attend a workshop where you can share
your ideas about how to improve Minneapolis' transportation system.  The
workshop will be held:

6:30-8:30pm Tuesday Nov 22
East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd St. NE (Bus Route #11)

Those who attend the workshop will get an overview of Access Minneapolis,
the City's 10-Year Transportation Plan, and information on the
transportation challenges facing the city. This is the fourth workshop the
City has sponsored this fall to get input into the plan.

When finished the 10-Year Transportation Action Plan will address a full
range of transportation options and issues, including pedestrians,
bicycles, transit, automobiles, and freight. It also will include
additional resources, such as a Web-based transportation fact book; a
transit and street operations plan for downtown; and new street design
guidelines that reflect the characteristics of the surroundings.

You do not need to pre-register to attend. You are encouraged to arrive on
time since the workshop includes a presentation on transportation
challenges and is followed by structured dialogue.

Upon request, the City will provide reasonable accommodations those with
disabilities or who need a translator. Please submit such requests or
requests for additional information to Charleen Zimmer, Project Manager,
at 612-673-3166 or Charleen.Zimmer [at] ci.minneapolis.mn.us as soon as
possible.
  If you want help translating this information, call- 612-673-3737
  Atención. Si desea recibir asistencia gratuita para traducir esta
información, llama 612-673-2700
  Ogow. Haddii aad dooneyso in lagaa kaalmeeyo tarjamadda macluumaadkani
oo lacag la' aan wac 612-673-3500
  Ceeb toom. Yog koj xav tau kev pab txhais cov xov no rau koj dawb, hu
612-673-2800


--------3 of 12--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Chante/pics/pot luck 11.25 6:30pm

A celebration of Chante Wolf's marvelous photography exhibit
To include a pot luck dinner, spirit and hopefully music

Friday November 25 from 6:30 to 9pm
St Martins Table on Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis

A great excuse to have a party and some excellent Artwork.
All are invited except Bush 43 and associates

Bring a food dish to share or just come as you are.  There will be plenty
for all. Thanksgiving left overs are a good possibility.  If you can add
some Celebratory Talents to this event please do.

For additional info contact Jack Rossbach at 651-488-0524
jack2ros [at] yahoo.com Vets for Peace at 612-821-9141 Or Chante by email --
chantewolf7 [at] hotmail.com


--------4 of 12--------

From: Paulette Warren <PWarren [at] loft.org>
Subject: Storytelling fest 11.26 12noon

Saturday November 26, 12noon-10pm
STORYTELLING FESTIVAL - TELLEBRATION

Family storytelling for all ages, showcasing local storytelling groups and
workshops.  The event happens throughout the day and throughout Open Book
with and evening concert at 8pm. The festival is free and open to the
public. The cost for the evening concert is $12 general admission/$10
students and seniors.  Presented by Northstar Storytelling League and Open
Book partners. For further information: www.northstarstorytelling.org,
612-782-7121 or 612-343-7054

---
From: Rachel Nelson <bardlive [at] usfamily.net>

A gathering of storytellers from many traditions - a wonderful family
event on Thanksgiving weekend. I'll be telling musical stories in the
Family Stories area from 2:00-2:25. All afternoon events, from noon to 5,
are free.

Rachel Nelson BardLive Music/Rising Sun Productions bardlive [at] usfamily.net
www.bardlive.com


--------5 of 12--------

From: Lennie <major18 [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Northtown peace vigil 11.26 1pm

The Mounds View peace vigil group has changed its weekly time and place.
We will now be peace vigiling EVERY SATURDAY from 1:00 to 2:00 pm at the
at the southeast corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University
Ave NE in Blaine, which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall
area. This is a MUCH better location.

We'll have extra signs.  Communities situated near the Northtown Mall
include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden
Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. For further
information, email major18 [at] comcast.net or call Lennie at 763-717-9168


--------6 of 12--------

From: entropy [at] riseup.net
Subject: Sister's Camelot Holiday FUNdraiser

www.sisterscamelot.org

Sister's Camelot (the one and only mobile organic food shelf and
kitchenbus)  has been giving out free organic food in the twin cities
(food which would have otherwise gone to waste) for over seven
years....and this year we are asking for our supportive community here
give us a special holiday gift this year.  This year we want a new office
space in South Minneapolis.  We recently found the perfect space near
powderhorn park, but could not come up with the deposit before someone
else rented the space.

Here are two ways you can help us get our new office so we can move back
to South Minneapolis:

1:  Send a tax-deductible contribution to:
Sister's Camelot
Attn:  Holiday FUNdraiser
1010 N Lyndale Ave
Mpls, MN  55411

2:  Come work pt (get paid) to help us raise money.  Come to our office at
4 pm any weekday and give a try at going out with our door-to-door
canvassing crew.

FOR MORE INFO CHECK OUT www.sisterscamelot.org or call 612-746-3051
Sister's Camelot
Sharing free organic produce and saving the world, one belly at a time!


--------7 of 12--------

Vegetarians Between Meals
This War Cannot Be Stopped By a Loyal Opposition
By Jeremy Scahill
Common Dreams - Nov 18, 2005
http://www.commondreams.org

The refrain of the Democrats about being misled into supporting the
invasion of Iraq has become really tired. And someone other than the White
House smearmongers needs to say it: The Democrats cannot be allowed to use
faulty intelligence as a crutch to hold up their unforgivable support for
the Iraq invasion. What is DNC Chair Howard Dean's excuse? He wasn't in
Congress and didn't have any access to Senate intelligence. Still, on
March 9, 2003, just days before the invasion began, Dean told Tim Russert,
on NBC's Meet The Press, "I don't want Saddam staying in power with
control over those weapons of mass destruction. I want him to be
disarmed."

During the New Hampshire primary in January 2004, which I covered for
Democracy Now!, I confronted Dean about that statement. I asked him on
what intelligence he based that allegation. "Talks with people who were
knowledgeable," Dean told me. "Including a series of folks that work in
the Clinton administration."

A series of folks that work in the Clinton administration.

How does that jibe with the official Democratic line that they were misled
by the Bush administration? Sounds like Howard Dean, head of the
Democratic Party, was misled by....the Democrats. Dean's candor offers us
a rare glimpse into the painful truth of the matter. As unpopular as this
is to say, when President Bush accuses the Democrats of "rewriting
history" on Iraq, he is right.

None of the horrors playing out in Iraq today would be possible without
the Democratic Party. And no matter how hard some party leaders try to
deny it, this is their war too and will remain so until every troop is
withdrawn. There is no question that the Bush administration is one of the
most corrupt, violent and brutal in the history of this country but that
doesn't erase the serious responsibility the Democrats bear for the
bloodletting in Iraq. As disingenuous as the Administration's claims that
Iraq had WMDs is the flimsy claim by Democratic lawmakers that they were
somehow duped into voting for the war. The fact is that Iraq posed no
threat to the United States in 2003 any more than it did in 1998 when
President Clinton bombed Baghdad. John Kerry and his colleagues knew that.
The Democrats didn't need false intelligence to push them into
overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime. It was their policy; a policy made
the law of the land not under George W. Bush, but under President Bill
Clinton when he signed the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, formally initiating
the process of regime change in Iraq.

Manipulated intelligence is but a small part of a bigger, bipartisan
15-year assault on Iraq's people. If the Democrats really want to look at
how America was led into this war, they need to go back further than the
current president's inauguration.

As bloody and deadly as the occupation has been, it was Bill Clinton who
refined the art of killing innocent Iraqis following the Gulf War. One of
his first acts as president was to bomb Iraq, following the alleged
assassination plot against George HW Bush. Clinton's missiles killed the
famed Iraqi painter Leila al Attar as they smashed into her home. Clinton
presided enthusiastically over the most deadly and repressive regime of
economic sanctions in history - his UN ambassador Madeline Albright
calling the reported deaths of half a million children "worth the price."
Clinton initiated the longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam
with his illegal no-fly zone bombings, attacking Iraq once every three
days for the final years of his presidency. It was under Clinton that
Ahmed Chalabi was given tens of millions of dollars and made a key player
in shaping Washington's Iraq policy. It was Clinton that mercilessly
attacked Iraq in December of 1998, destroying dozens of Baghdad buildings
and killing scores of civilians. It was Clinton that codified regime
change in Iraq as US policy. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq but he
could not have done it without the years of groundwork laid by Clinton and
the Democrats. How ironic it was recently to hear Clinton call the war "a
big mistake."

It's easy to resist war with a president like Bush in the White House.
Where were these Democrats when it was Clinton's bombs raining down on
Iraq, when it was Clinton's economic sanctions targeting the most
vulnerable? Many of them were right behind him and his deadly policies the
same way they were behind Bush when he asked their consent to use force
against Iraq. As the veteran Iraq activist and Nobel Prize nominee Kathy
Kelly said often during the Clinton years, "It's easy to be a vegetarian
between meals." The fact is that one of the great crimes of our times was
committed by the Clinton administration with the support of many of the
politicians now attacking Bush.

Herein lies the real political crisis in this country: the Democrats are
not an opposition party, nor are they an antiwar party - never were. At
best, they are a loyal opposition. The Democrats ran a pro-war campaign in
2004 with Kerry struggling to convince people that Dems do occupation and
war better. The current head of the DNC, Howard Dean, never met a war he
didn't adore until he realized he could exploit the energy and sincere
hopes of millions of peace-loving Americans. Dean wasn't ever antiwar. In
fact, during the 2004 campaign he attacked Kerry for opposing the Gulf War
while laying out his own pro-war record.

"In 1991, I supported Gulf War. I supported the first President Bush,"
declared Dean. "Senator Kerry who criticizes my foreign policy, he voted
against that war. I supported the Afghanistan war, because I felt it was
about our national defense - 3,000 of our people were killed. I supported
President Clinton going into Bosnia and Kosovo."

How can Howard Dean look people in the eye today and pretend to speak with
any credibility as an antiwar voice?

When the hawkish Democrat Rep. John Murtha bravely stepped forward to call
for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq this week, he was
quickly blasted by the White House and simultaneously disowned by powerful
Democrats like John Kerry. Occupation lovers together again. The bloody
scandal of the Iraq occupation has opened a rare and clear window into the
truth about this country: there is one party represented in Washington -
one that supports preemptive war and regime change. The reality is that
the Democrats could stop this war if the will was there. They could shut
down the Senate every day, not just for a few hours one afternoon. They
could disrupt business as usual and act as though the truth were true:
this war should never have happened and it must end now. The country would
be behind them if they did it. But they won't. They will hem and haw and
call for more troops and throw out epic lies about the US becoming a
stabilizing force in Iraq and blame the Republicans for their own
complicity and enthusiasm in the 15 years of bipartisan crimes against
Iraq.

All of this begs for a multiparty system in this country and the emergence
of a true opposition. The epic scale of the disaster in Iraq calls for
epic lessons to be learned at home. Like the Bush White House, the
Democrats have lost their credibility. They are undeserving of the blank
check of "Anybody But Bush" and should never be allowed to cash it again.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who heads up the House Democrat's election campaign,
criticized Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal, saying, "At the right
time, we will have a position." It is statements like that that should
result in Emanuel and his colleagues losing theirs.

[Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the
national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time
reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow
at The Nation Institute. He can be reached at jeremy [at] democracynow.org.]


--------8 of 12--------

The lesser-evil vote
ed

Dems are led every election to vote for the "lesser evil" (eg Gore, Kerry,
Hillary).  They say they do because the RP is evil, no one else besides
the Dem is "viable", etc. They say and do this even though the 2000
election was stolen, and the 2004 election was stolen, and the 2008
election will be stolen.  So why vote for lesser-evil Hillary in 2008, as
most Dems will do? Why vote for another lesser evil, when they are almost
as evil as the greater evil? Why put off for election after election
voting your progressive values? If you never vote progressive, are you
really a progressive?

One main underlying reason for this, not discussed widely so far, is that
not to vote lesser-evil is to admit that the Dem party, the party of their
parents, their childhood, their adulthood - their life - has failed them.
And that is to begin the wrenching process of leaving the DP. No one likes
divorce, separation, the death of a loved one, and all the pain and agony
they entail. Leaving one's life party is just as stressful. The battered
wife puts up with weeks and months and years of abuse, just to avoid the
pain of parting. I suspect many Dems put up with years of political abuse
for the same reason.

A Dem might think: If if leave, where will I go? What will I do? Who do I
know? Is there an equally big old established party that will have me? Or
will I have to help build a small party (which? where? how?) slowly over
time? Oh, this is just too distressing. I'll vote lesser-evil Dem again,
Hillary in 2008, and try to forget it won't have any effect - but it will
make me feel better now, take away the pain of leaving the only party I've
ever known and loved (even though it didn't love me back very much).


--------9 of 12--------

Thousands in Mass. to get cheaper oil from Chavez
By Michael Levenson and Susan Milligan
The Boston Globe - Nov 20, 2005
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts

A subsidiary of the Venezuelan national oil company will ship 12 million
gallons of discounted home-heating oil to local charities and 45,000
low-income families in Massachusetts next month under a deal arranged by US
Representative William D. Delahunt, a local nonprofit energy corporation,
and Venezuela's president, White House critic Hugo Chavez.

The approximately $9 million deal will bring nine million gallons of oil to
families and three million gallons to institutions that serve the poor, such
as homeless shelters, said officials from Citizens Energy Corp., which is
signing the contract. Families would pay about $276 for a 200-gallon
shipment, a savings of about $184 and enough to last about three weeks.

The contract is to be signed Tuesday by officials from Citizens Energy,
based in Boston, and CITGO, a Houston-based subsidiary of Petrsleos de
Venezuela SA. The contract was arranged after months of talks between
Delahunt, a Quincy Democrat active in Latin American affairs, and Chavez, a
leftist former paratrooper and fierce critic of the Bush administration.

"We recognized that we had an opportunity," Delahunt's spokesman, Steve
Schwadron, said yesterday.

Chavez showed "an inclination to do a humanitarian distribution" of oil,
and poor families in Massachusetts had a "desperate need" for relief from
high home-heating prices, Schwadron said. He characterized the deal as one
between "a US company and two nonprofits to help them do more of what they
already do, with terms that mean the price is good."

Delahunt was not available for comment yesterday.

Schwadron said the congressman did not get involved in the details of the
contract, but had raised the issue with Chavez and helped connect the
nonprofits with CITGO, which is owned by PDV America Inc., an indirect,
wholly owned subsidiary of Petrsleos de Venezuela SA, the national oil
company of Venezuela.

When the discounted oil arrives early next month, Citizens Energy - whose
chairman and president, former US representative Joseph P. Kennedy II,
also helped arrange the contract - will screen recipients with the help of
local organizations that serve the poor. Some 350 local dealers will then
distribute three-fourths of the oil to local families.

MassEnergyConsumer Alliance, a nonprofit group that also offers discounted
oil, will distribute or sell the remaining quarter to homeless shelters,
food banks, and low-income housing groups, said Larry Chretien, the group's
executive director. Recipients must apply for the help, he said.

Home heating oil prices are expected to increase by 30 percent to 50 percent
this winter because of rising oil prices, Chretien said. Because funding for
the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program is expected to pay for
only one delivery of heating oil to eligible households, the CITGO agreement
could help ease the crunch on some families, he said.

"Fuel assistance is woefully underfunded, so this is a major shot in the
arm for people who otherwise wouldn't get through the winter," Chretien
said. He said he hoped the deal would present "a friendly challenge" to US
oil companies - which recently reported record quarterly profits - to use
their windfall to help poor families survive the winter.

Some foreign-policy analysts said Chavez helped broker the deal in part as
a jab at President Bush. Chavez has frequently belittled the White House,
saying it is not doing enough to help the poor, and he has called Bush an
"assassin" and a "crazy man." Now, he has helped arranged for 285,000
barrels of oil to arrive in Massachusetts at a 40 percent discount over
the next four months. Each barrel contains 42 gallons.

"It is a slap in the face" to the Bush administration, said Larry Birns,
executive director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a group that
tracks Latin American politics and government. "Chavez is involved in
petro-diplomacy."

Chavez has drawn criticism from human rights groups for his treatment of
political foes and curbs on media freedoms. But he has also become a hero
to some on the left who say he has helped improve conditions for the poor
in his country and drawn attention to US foreign policy in Iraq and Latin
America.

On Friday, a US State Department spokesman declined to comment on the oil
deal with Chavez.

Schwadron said Delahunt's involvement had nothing to do with Venezuela's
strained relationship with the Bush administration and was meant as a
specific effort to ease high heating costs for Bay State residents.

Massachusetts already gets a great deal of oil from Venezuela, Chretien
said, and the deal with CITGO means only that the oil will be less
expensive. He added that he has never been approached with such an offer
from a US oil company.

"We did not negotiate foreign policy here," Schwadron said. "We steered
clear of that."

Kennedy said he was not concerned about Chavez's politics.

"You start parsing which countries' politics we're going to feel
comfortable with, and only buying oil from them, then there are going to
be a lot of people not driving their cars and not staying warm this
winter," Kennedy said. "There are a lot of countries that have much worse
records than Venezuela. At the end of the day it's not our business to go
choosing other peoples' leaders, particularly when they are duly-elected
democratic leaders."

Kennedy said Delahunt has been working with Chavez "for years now and has
gone down there many times and developed a personal relationship with
him."

Chavez has used his influence in the global market before.

In August, he offered discounted home-heating oil to poor communities in
the United States after meeting in Caracas with the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

[In addition to Citgo, eight US oil companies were asked if they would
help the poor with cheaper oil. Citgo accepted, the eight US companies
refused. -ed]


--------10 of 12--------

Democratic Hawks: The Avian Flu of the Antiwar Movement
by Joshua Frank
Dissident Voice - Nov 20, 2005
http://www.dissidentvoice.org

They won't pull out troops from Iraq and they won't vote for any strategy
that calls for immediate removal of United States occupation forces. Of
course it took a Republican to put forth an "out-now" resolution, which was
supposedly intended to split the Democrats. But the vote in the House late
Friday didn't slice a wedge in the Democrat Party - on the contrary, it
united them behind a bloody and illegal occupation in Iraq. Of course this
could well have been the Republican strategy all along.

Only three Democrats voted in support of the Republicans' Iraq withdrawal
proposal: Representatives Wexler, Serrano and McKinney. And their point was
well made. They want the troops home now and they don't care who wrote up
the legislation or the reasons why they did it. It was the right move to
make. If US troops were pulled out tomorrow, Iraq would be a safer place for
all of us.

A handful of House Democrats did take to the podium to express their
seething disgust over the Republicans' political feat. Talk is cheap,
however. Votes are what count. If there ever was a subject that should gash
the thin-skinned Democratic Party, it would be the Iraq war. But as the
House vote verified, the Democrats don't want US troops home now, let alone
in six months as Rep. John Murtha proposed last Thursday.

Murtha, a veteran war hawk who championed the Iraq invasion from its
inception, announced at a teary-eyed press conference that he wished to
withdraw the nearly 160,000 US troops in Iraq "at the earliest predictable
date." Recent polls indicate that the majority of Americans agree with
Murtha's call to pull out US forces, which wasn't even close to an "out-now"
proposition. Regardless, the Democrats took cover as Rep. Murtha began
making headlines with his remarks.

"I don't support immediate withdrawal," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
released in a statement following Murtha's call to exit troops.

"Mr. Murtha speaks for himself," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gasped
as reporters asked for her take on the matter.

The Democratic leadership in Washington was making it crystal clear that
they won't be cutting and running from Iraq but from Murtha and the
movement that prompted his change of heart.

The Democrats, however, are proving to be the Avian Flu of the antiwar
movement. They are willing to divvy out just enough fodder in hopes of
luring in the antiwar crowd, and then they strike.

First it was the Senate lock out, which ended up being nothing more than a
charade masked as opposition. After all, debating pre-war intel is a
non-issue - what we need to be worried about is how to bring our troops
home now. But as we well know, the Democrats have neither a plan nor the
desire to bring them home anytime soon.

Senator John Kerry and even Donald Rumsfeld are calling for a reduction of
US troops after December. But the troops they both want to bring home are
the ones they sent over to monitor Iraqi elections in the first place.
Pulling them out afterward was the plan all along. The Democrats, like the
Republicans, still believe there is a mission to be accomplished here. What
this mission is, nobody knows.

US presence in Iraq is only enflaming more anti-American sentiment in the
Middle East and worldwide. It's only increasing potential threats against
the United States. Surely it can't be democracy the Democrats and
Republicans want. If that were the case they'd have yanked out troops months
ago as Iraqis have overwhelmingly declared that's what they desire. No, this
ongoing mission is only about one thing: smug American pride. President Bush
and his Democratic enablers can't admit that this war was waged for no
reason whatsoever. They can't admit that all the lives lost have been for
nothing.

The Democrats in Washington, despite sporadic glimmers of hope, is a
feckless lot. So don't take their bait. Like all the shrapnel and bullets
flying through the air in Iraq - the Democratic Party is a killer.


--------11 of 12--------

[Torture R US]
Body Politics
Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
Published: November 18, 2005
http://context.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/11/18/120.html

Four years ago, President George W. Bush quietly assumed dictatorial
powers with a secret executive order granting himself the right to
imprison anyone on earth indefinitely, without charges or trial or
indictment or evidence, simply by declaring them an "enemy combatant," on
his say-so alone. This week, the assemblage of bootlickers and bagmen that
befoul the U.S. Senate voted to codify the core of this global autocracy
under the pretense of curtailing it.

With great self-fluffing fanfare, the Senate passed two measures
ostensibly designed to stem the flood of torture and tyranny issuing from
the White House. But the twinned amendments to a military spending bill
have the curious effect of canceling each other out: The anti-torture
measure leaves Bush's tyranny intact, while the anti-tyranny measure will
allow torture to continue unabated. This switcheroo, we are told by one of
the scam's sponsors, "will re-establish moral high ground for the United
States," The Washington Post reports.

But what can we actually see from this lofty moral promontory? We see that
all foreign captives in Bush's worldwide gulag have now been stripped of
the ancient human right of habeas corpus. They will not be allowed to
challenge "any aspect of their detention" in court - until they have
already been tried and convicted by a "military tribunal" constituted
under rules concocted arbitrarily by Bush and his minions. Only then,
after years of incarceration without rights or legal protection, will they
be given access to a single federal appeals court that can review their
conviction - subject to the usual "national security" restrictions on
challenging evidence gathered by secret means from secret sources in
secret places. Remarkably, the Supreme Court is expressly prohibited from
any jurisdiction whatsoever over any aspect of gulag captivity, The
Washington Post reports. And of course, Bush can simply skip the tribunal
and keep anyone he pleases chained in legal limbo until they rot. Neither
of the ballyhooed amendments affects this raw despotism.

Meanwhile, U.S. citizens can also be arbitrarily imprisoned indefinitely
without charge or trial. But for now, any Homelanders caught in Bush's net
can at least appear briefly in court prior to their conviction, where they
will enjoy a "judicial process" that Stalin or Saddam would have loved:
Bush officials present the judge with a piece of paper declaring that the
prisoner is one bad hombre, but all the evidence against him is classified
and nobody can see it - especially the prisoner, The Washington Post
reports. And that's it. The captive is then plunged back into the gulag,
to be disposed of according to Bush's whim. Again, this medieval mechanism
of tyranny was left untouched by the Senate's actions.

The Senate originally voted to cast Bush's captives into outer darkness
forever, without a single legal recourse. But then a few prissy hens and
bleeding hearts made the usual squawk about rights and law and all that
pinko jazz. So the compromise of allowing a post-conviction appeal - for
people who have been arbitrarily seized and held in isolation for years
without charges, who have often been tortured, humiliated and driven to
madness or attempted suicide before facing a kangaroo court - was hastily
cobbled together and presented to the world as a triumph of the human
spirit and the American way.

Ah, but what about the anti-torture amendment, sponsored by the Republican
"maverick," Senator John McCain, and hailed by editorialists across the
land as a great leap forward in the evolution of political morality? The
effusions that have greeted this measure are puzzling. It does nothing
more than restate what is already the law of the land. American forces
were already forbidden from subjecting any captive "to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment" as prohibited by the Constitution and
the UN Convention Against Torture. This regurgitation of existing law is
the extent of the McCain amendment, along with an adjuration to
interrogators to follow written guidelines for rough stuff set down by the
Pentagon.

But the partisans of atrocity in the Bush White House knew these laws when
they set up the gulag's torture regimen in 2001. They simply redefined
"torture" to accommodate any brutal technique they cared to implement,
then declared that the commander in chief is beyond the reach of law in
wartime - and that any underlings who commit crimes at his order are
likewise absolved of legal liability. This sinister sophistry is still
very much in operation and remains unchallenged by the toothless amendment
of the "maverick."

The dual amendments are a cynical PR ploy: Torture will be condemned in
public but quietly continued in the former KGB camps and other secret
hellholes that Bush has strung across the world like a barbed-wire
necklace. The Pentagon's own lawyers certainly understand the true nature
of the game. As one told The Guardian: "If detainees can't talk to lawyers
or file cases, how will anyone ever find out if they have been abused?" No
one ever will, of course; that's the point. With habeas corpus denied up
front, the worst cases of torture and false imprisonment can now be buried
forever in "indefinite detention"; the tribunals, with their access to
appeals, will be reserved for open-and-shut showpieces.

These draconian measures reach far beyond a handful of hard-core
terrorists. According to the Pentagon's own figures, more than 21,000
innocent people have been caged without due process in Iraq alone, The
Guardian reports. Hundreds more have been unjustly imprisoned around the
world. A regime that thrives on fear requires a steady stream of "enemy
combatants" to justify its unlimited "war powers." The belly of this beast
will never be full.


--------12 of 12--------

 Pull string, Bush action
 doll spits pisses craps on your
 friends! Christmas laff riot!


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   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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