Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Penury! Debtor's Prison? Meeting adjourned!

Image courtesy the outstanding Black Commentator web site!

Lessons For Progressives

From Passage

Of The


Bankruptcy Bill


Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D.

Christmas came early this year for credit-card corporations, courtesy of Capitol Hill. After an eight-year multimillion dollar lobbying effort by financial-industry giants, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed their heinous "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill (S. 256/H.R. 685) last week by a lopsided 302-126 vote.

Members of the House briefly debated this important matter before they voted.

However, the speeches on both sides tended to be surprisingly simplistic, given the complexity of the bankruptcy bill, largely because the Republican majority leadership chose to display their contempt for democratic processes by:

  • disallowing votes on the 35 amendments the Democrats had proposed;
  • ordering the House Rules Committee to allocate only one hour -- far too little time -- for substantive debate on this complicated 500-page bill; and
  • ordering the House moderator to rudely interrupt every Democratic speaker when they lined up one-by-one to register their objections to the bill in brief biting statements.

When the shallow-but-acrimonious debate ended, 229 Republicans (98.7%) and 73 Democrats (36.1%) supported the bill by voting "yes," whereas no Republicans(0%) and 125 Democrats (62%) opposed the bill by voting "no." Additionally, three Republicans (1.3%) and four Democrats (1.9%) abstained. [1]

The Senate passed the same bill in March by an equally lopsided vote of 74-25, with Senator Hillary Clinton abstaining. And Mr. Bush signed it on April 20th, so it will become this nation's federal bankruptcy law six months from enactment. [2]

What's It All About, Progressives?

Progressives are understandably discouraged because our nationwide grassroots lobbying effort against this bill was, for the most part, ignored by Capitol Hill. Indeed, this latest in a long series of legislative defeats has caused the American progressive coalition to ask itself why Republicans are so united, and Democrats so disunited.

The likeliest answer is that Congressional Republicans lack freedom of conscience. They slavishly adhere to the instructions of their party's neocon leaders because they fear political retribution from both the White House and their Religious-Right extremist base if they vote their conscience.

Of course, another distinct possibility is that the Republican majority simply does not care about the socioeconomic interests of the beleaguered middle and the downtrodden lower classes.

Contrastingly, Congressional Democrats lack accountability. They feel free to vote howsoever they please because they know they WON'T be held accountable by their party's rightward-drifting "centrist" leaders or their Democratic base. Hence, neither party promotes representative democracy; instead, they both promote a bribe-ocracy that is dominated by moneyed special interests -- like the financial industry.

Democrats.com President Bob Fertik said: "We must ask: Where was [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi before today? Why did [House] Minority Whip Steny Hoyer support this outrageous bill? Why did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even try to take credit for this Republican bill? And why did 'New Democrats' Ellen Tauscher, Ron Kind, Artur Davis, and Joe Crowley push this bill on their colleagues? What party do they imagine they belong to? Who do they think elected them to Congress?"

These questions are worth considering! If our Congressional Minority Leaders and "New Democrats" are Democrats In Name Only ("DINOs"), why do their seemingly-clueless Democratic constituents continue to re-elect them? [5]

Progressive Democrats of America Executive Director Tim Carpenter wants more political accountability: "We will remember who voted against the Democratic base. Those 73 House Democrats and 18 Senate Democrats have a year in which to try to make up for this. It's hard to see how they'll be able to do it, but we'll be watching and remembering, and we'll be ready to promote challengers in 2006."

And NOW President Kim Gandy said of the Republicans: "Once again George W.Bush and his Congressional enablers have rewarded their corporate allies at the expense of low- and middle-income working people, single mothers, minorities, veterans and the elderly. This bill further shreds the safety net for even the most financially troubled people. It is a reckless move for Congress to squeeze families in economic and health crises while providing loopholes for corporate executives to skirt their debts. These payouts to big business must stop immediately." [6]

Two Overarching Conclusions: Morally Bankrupt And Deeply Divided.

First, the lopsided House and Senate votes favoring this bill -- 302-126 and 74-25, respectively -- were tantamount to a Congressional declaration of MORAL BANKRUPTCY. Why? Sadly, "money talks and social justice walks" inside the Capitol Hill bribe-ocracy.

Our Congresspersons knew full well that they were allowing the financial industry's predatory lending practices to continue unabated, and yet sharply limiting individual access to debt-liquidating personal bankruptcies. That might be the correct formula for winning political support from the financial industry, but it's certainly not the politics of social justice!

They knew that the foreseeable social consequences of this bankruptcy bill over time will be that millions of financially desperate Americans will either commit suicide because they cannot see any way out of debt slavery, or be forced into the homeless underground, or commence a life of crime. These socially-destructive consequences are the real legacy of supposedly "compassionate" conservatives' bankruptcy bill. [7]

Second, their votes on the bankruptcy bill provide a microcosmic view of what Congress has become concerning domestic issues -- A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST

  • The 70% majority is a Corporatist Greed Uniparty, consisting of Slavish Drone Republicans and Spineless Collaborator Democrats, who support Social Darwinist Dubya's top-down class warfare on behalf of the few filthy-rich "have-mores."
  • The 30% minority is a Socioeconomic Solidarity Party, consisting of Progressive Democrats and Independents, who defend the besieged interests of the many just-barely-hanging-on "haves" and downtrodden "have-nots." [8]

The Bottom Line: Political Accountability Is A Moral Value.

The philosopher Santayana correctly warned that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." If Democrats really want their party's behavior to advance the interests of everyday Americans rather than the elite corporate bribe-ocrats, we must hold our Representatives and Senators personally accountable for every vote they cast in favor of this terrible bankruptcy bill. [9]

And that requires us to collectively remember the bitter taste of this defeat long enough to REMOVE those Spineless Collaborator Democrats and Slavish Drone Republicans from office in 2006. Folks, we should REPLACE them with principled populist progressives -- not silver-spoon "centrist" plutocrats -- who will respond to our nationwide grassroots lobbying efforts. [10]

In short, remember the Debt-Slavery Bankruptcy Bill!


[1] A. Every U.S. Representative's 4-14-05 vote on the bankruptcy bill is tallied here, with the Democrats listed in italics: http://tinyurl.com/8dbhv
B. Every U.S. Senator's 3-10-05 vote on the bankruptcy bill is listed here: http://tinyurl.com/adxxp

[2] Read these excellent articles and essays to learn more about the regressive social impact of the credit-card industry's unconscionably one-sided bankruptcy bill:

A. Rob Hotakainan's 4-15-05 CD/MST article, "Erasing Debts In Bankruptcy To Get Harder" [Reports on debate in the House on the "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill, and lists by name the 73 turncoat Democrats who joined the greed-driven Republicans in voting for this bill.]: http://tinyurl.com/9jook
B. Marcy Gordon's 4-15-05 CHB article, "Congress Passes Stricter Bankruptcy Law" [A crucial deadline looms a half-year away for thousands of anxious Americans weighed down by credit card and other debt following Congressional passage of a measure that makes it significantly tougher to erase indebtedness in personal bankruptcy.]:
C. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 4-12-05 TPV essay, "Last Chance To Defeat Debt Slavery: House Will Vote On Unjust Bankruptcy Bill This Thursday" [U.S.Representatives and Senators who voted for the Republicans' regressive bankruptcy bill unwisely ignored the huge avalanche of opposing phone calls and e-mails that were generated by our nationwide grassroots lobbying effort.]:
D. Debra Saunders' 4-10-05 SFC essay, "Bankruptcy Bill Or Welfare For Usurers?" [This Republican columnist was not fooled by her party's so-called bankruptcy "reform" bill, and offered sound reasons for opposing it.]:
E. David Sirota's 4-5-05 TP article, "So You Support Usury, Senator?" [The House is getting ready to debate the Republican's phony bankruptcy "reform" bill, but Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has introduced another House bill, entitled the "Loan Shark Prevention Act," which is designed to limit usurious interest rates and prevent other unconscionable abuses by commercial banks and credit-card companies.]:
F. Marilyn Gardner's 4-4-05 CSM article, "Bankruptcy Reform Hits Women Hard" [Reports that the credit industry-authored bankruptcy bill will have a disproportionately negative impact on American women, which means it also will harm children.]:
G. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 4-1-05 OJ essay, "Defeat Bush's Social-Darwinist Agenda Now: Regressive Bankruptcy Bill Will Hit Poorest Hardest" [Social-Darwinist Dubya's "Debt-Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill is the poison-tipped spear he'll use to finish off the financially wounded during his vicious top-down class warfare against the middle and lower classes.]:
H. Michael Negron's 3-31-05 TP exposé, "Talking Points Memo: The $2 Million Dollar Flip-Flop" [Shows us how the sleazy credit industry's "campaign donations" bought off 18 US Senators so they would vote against an amendment to the phony bankruptcy "reform" bill, which would have limited interest rates to 30 PERCENT.]:
I. David Swanson's 3-31-05 CD/BC essay, "Debt Slavery: What The Bankruptcy Bill Could Do To You" [A thorough explanation of the Republicans' terribly unjust bankruptcy bill, its politics, and the reasons to vote AGAINST the "Debt Slavery Act of 2005."]:
J. Peter Gosselin's 3-29-05 CD/LAT article, "Judges Say Overhaul Would Weaken Bankruptcy System" [Bankruptcy judges can best evaluate the social impact of this bankruptcy bill, and they say its provisions will NOT reform, but rather DESTROY, personal bankruptcy law.]:
K. The Nation's 3-25-05 CD/TN editorial, "Democrats: MIA":
L. Alan Maass' 3-19-05 CP essay, "Making Bankruptcy A Life Sentence: Washington's Bipartisan Gift To The Bankers":
M. Robert Scheer's 3-15-05 CD/LAT essay, "The Bankruptcy Bill: A Tutorial In Greed":
N. Cynthia Tucker's 3-13-05 CD/AJC essay, "Bush Cheats Those He Owes":
O. David Broder's 3-13-05 CD/ST essay, "A Bankrupt Senate Vote":
P. Matthew Rothschild's 3-13-05 CD/TP essay, "Democrats Cave On Bankruptcy Bill":
Q. Steven Weiss' 3-14-05 CE article, "Money Talks" [Contributions from credit and finance corporations correlate with Senators' votes on the bankruptcy bill.]:
R. Abid Aslam's 3-12-05 CD/OW article, "Bankruptcy Bill Said To Hit Poorest Americans Hardest":
S. RedState's confessional 3-11-05 TP essay, "An Embarrassed Republican" [A red-state Republican blogger laments his party's harsh bankruptcy bill by stating, among other things, that "This is on us, folks, and it's going to hurt a lot of people."]:
T. Arianna Huffington's 3-10-05 CD/AO essay, "The Senate Opens Fire on U.S. Consumers":
U. Paul Krugman's 3-9-05 TO essay "The Debt-Peonage Society":
V. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 3-9-05 TPV essay, "On Attempting To Justify The Unjustifiable With Scripture: Debt Slavery" [The Republicans' harsh bankruptcy "reform" bill is neither scripturally wise nor rationally defensible as a matter of public policy, and yet Republicans claim that their draconian revisions to the bankruptcy code somehow are morally "righteous." This claim proves false when considered from either a scriptural or an ethical perspective. Also see Sean Gonzales' related essay in endnote [3] below.]:
W. Kathleen Day and Caroline Mayer's 3-6-05 WP article, "Credit Card Penalties, Fees Bury Debtors: Senate Nears Action On Bankruptcy Curbs" [Reports that credit-card companies regularly engage in predatory lending practices, such as bait-and-switch tactics that result in usurious 30% to 40% interest rates and astronomical $50.00 late fees. However, the phony bankruptcy "reform" bill does absolutely NOTHING to stop these, or other, outrageous predatory practices!]:
X. Washington Monthly's informative 3-5-05 "Political Animal" column, "The Bankruptcy Bill" [An informative briefing about the bill and its impact.]:
Y. Molly Ivins' 3-3-05 CD/WFC essay, "Bad To Worse: Republicans Vote Down Military Exemption To Bankruptcy Bill, Add Loopholes For Rich":
Z. Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren's 2-12-05 CD/MH essay, "Sick And Broke" [Cites recent studies which prove that the bankruptcy system isn't being abused. The vast majority of bankruptcy filers have suffered a job loss, an illness, or a costly divorce.]:

[3] Sean Gonsalves' 4-19-05 CD/CCT essay, "The Moral Bankruptcy Of Fundamentalism" [The fundamentalist Religious Right studiously ignores numerous biblical passages on social justice because they violate its idolatrous faith in unregulated laissez-faire capitalism.]:

[4] DebtSlavery.org and PDA's 4-14-05 joint press release "Progressive Leaders Say Bankruptcy Bill Battle Is Just The Beginning" [It's the third click-on link underneath the photo.]:http://tinyurl.com/99ov7

[5] This question is addressed regarding the Congressional Black Caucus in Glen Ford and Peter Gamble's 4-22-05 CD/BC essay, "Black Caucus Losing Cohesion: It's Time to Draw Some Bright Lines": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0422-20.htm

[6] National Organization for Women's 4-14-05 DebtSlavery.org press release, "Bankruptcy Bill Awards Huge Payoff To Credit Card Companies" [It's the sixth click-on link underneath the photo.]: http://elandslide.org/elandslide/index.cfm?campaign=debt

[7] Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren's outstanding 2005 academic paper, "The Growing Threat to Middle Class Families" (download it at this URL): http://tinyurl.com/ck5oj

[8] Laura Donnelly's 4-21-05 TP article, "Stuck in The Middle" [Anyone who thinks the Congressional Republicans represent the socioeconomic interests of the middle class should think again! Despite more lenient grading standards than in past years, a Drum Major Institute Report found that more than 90 percent of the Republicans consistently voted against the interests of middle-class families in 2004.]: http://tinyurl.com/9hylw

[9] See those votes at endnote [1] above. Former U.S. Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards (D-NC) admitted recently that he was WRONG when he voted for an earlier version of the bankruptcy bill. He acknowledged that this bill will, indeed, have socially destructive consequences. Read Senator Edwards' 4-14-05 TPM essay, "I Was Wrong" [scroll down and you'll find it under "Guest Blogger: John Edwards"]: http://tinyurl.com/5z36v

[10] Thom Hartmann's must-read 4-18-05 CD essay, "How Rich Is Too Rich For Democracy?" [Insightfully answers this question: "At what point does great wealth in a few hands actually harm democracy, threatening to turn a democratic republic into an oligarchy?"]: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0418-21.htm

About The Author:
Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D.,
is the Executive Director of the
American Center for International Law ("ACIL").
ACIL steadfastly opposed the "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill because it would undermine Chapter 7 provisions that wisely allow desperate individuals to receive a fresh start -- which concretizes one important economic right within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

© 2005 EAPIII

Monday, April 25, 2005



"His focus on results led to this doozie on slavery: 'It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left there to go to America, because their steadfast and their religion and their belief in freedom helped change America.'" - MOLLY IVIN citing our fearless leader's profound words.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The "Anonymous" Super Patriots are crawling out of the mud!

They call it "stealth."

An earlier post from last week on Anwaar Hussain's
The Fountainhead - "linked" in column at left.
From the comments section at The Fountainhead (unedited):
Anonymous said...

THe reason that people were obsessed about the Schiavo case is ... wrap your little rag-head pea brain around this ...THE UNDERLYING DEEP, PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES.
You see, wee boy, EVERYONE IS AGAINST TSUNAMIS. We are all sad it happened and many thousands died. Once the tragedy is mentioned, there is nothing left to discuss, because I reiterate, we all agree that tsunamis are a bad, bad thing.
On the other hand, Schiavo's case brought up deep, dividing issues such as ... what is life ... what is the meaning of an individual life ... what makes us conscious ... what makes a life valuable.... who is to judge the worth of a human life?
ANd this is just scratching the surface.This case focused the considerable brainpower of western critical thinkers on important issues that many believe will change our country, and perhaps destroy it.
These types of hard issues are important because they inevitably change the very direction of something that you know nothing about .... civilization. Western Civilization is built on concepts that you low IQ rag-heads cannot apprehend currently and in fact can never understand. Still, you manage to insinuate yourself into the fringes and enjoy the many benefits. But that's another story.
Boo freaking hoo.
If you cannot discern when the worlds greatest civilization is changing course, with potentially horrible consequences, if you cannot withstand intense deductive and inductive reasoning, if parsing logically deep concepts disturbs you, LEAVE.
Go back home and strap some C4 and shrapnel on yourself and make a difference the only way you moon god worshipping assholes apparently know how.
KABOOM. Behold ... another 72 virgins and a slurpee to go ... Allahahahahahahahahahaha !
Albino bugs, snakes and other fearful political critters.

Dear ‘Anonymous,’ (RH)
I learned a long time ago while running a few country weekly newspapers in Kansas that the occasional ‘Anonymous’ letter to the editor has several socially redemptive characteristics. The confusing series of hidebound remarks posted above on Hussain’s blog by ‘Anonymous’ reminds me of the intellectual pitfalls and plateaus encountered when an editor allows another lesser writer to poison his pages.
It is a dangerous, but sometime fortuitous editorial technique. As one old timer, who died recently, once told me “variety and risk is the spice of life.”

I can boil this down to one sentence, and you don’t have to read any further after these words. ‘Anonymous’ you have fell into our trap, you inarticulate bum of an American, and now you must suffer reading the delightful consequences we are dishing out to the whole world about your crazy nut case brand of America.

‘Anonymous’ should move to Kansas

While I am guilty more than ‘Anonymous’ of subjective rants (see my essay “To conservative readers and Kansas legislators” elsewhere on this site) at least the subjective vitriol was my own and signed as such. According to others, aside from some small grammatical errors, the essay was an honestly American critique about the equally honestly hoodwinked and foolhardy body of Podunks inhabiting my native Kansas, U.S.A.

Alas, ‘Anonymous’ (let us for form profile ‘Anonymous’ as the average angry white American male) ranks below the political food pyramid, even beneath my fellow Kansas Podunks, below in rank of even the notorious Christian Troglodytes in what Kurt Nimmo aptly described as those of the “Deliverance States.”

‘Anonymous’ by my ciphering ranks lower than a snake’s belly sunning on a Kansas slab of limestone. He represents, by content and style, one of the squiggly albino insects that live quite well, under the rock that the “pro – life” snake is sunning on.

‘Anonymous’ actually is far lower than the well – meaning grandmother quietly rolling and kissing her rosaries at the local abortion clinic. I know firsthand because after a three-year murderous run at publishing said country weeklies took on the job of guarding several doctors and clinics in Kansas where the abortion procedure was available with other personal sexual hygiene issues.
I created intelligence dossiers on individuals engaging in illegal activities for consultation with law enforcement agencies in various levels of jurisdictions. I assisted in the apprehension and conviction of over a half dozen individuals who were involved in violations of federal and state laws – many of which would now qualify under the moribund and unnecessary Patriot Act – as domestic terrorists, or illegal combatants, make your label.

‘Anonymous’ fits that violent bill of particulars, as a tough talking red, white and blue domestic terrorist.

Men like ‘Anonymous’ have haunted the self-styled “pro – life” Christian anti – abortion movement for years and most who were violent were not apprehended. Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols were stridently “pro – life” for white women, much like Hitler was for Aryan women. Racialists advocate summary executions for ‘their’ women who deviate from proscribed sexual norms, and as their ideological crisis ensues, advocate the systematic ‘extermination’ through forced labor exploitation and eugenic ‘birth control’ of the non – Aryan people.
Hitler signed in the early periods of his regime several execution warrants for Aryan women who had abortions, while later he industrialized the systematic exploitation and extermination of millions of dissidents of all political and religious stripes. Yet, Hitler remained a Christian (catholic) until he blew his brains out in the Berlin bunker.

‘Anonymous’ not only didn’t think long enough to work on punctuation and basic grammar (which admittedly all writers, including myself suffer from) but surely did a profound disservice to his own American religious cause. It is from no fault of his own; tens of millions indoctrinated in this murderous duality within the American Empire go about their daily lives, and never think about social issues unless told to do so. One may safely assume that without the Terry Schiavo and Pope funeral incidents flooding American corporate media the wiggling maggot representing the American ‘Anonymous’ on Anwaar’s site would have shriveled and dried to a nice piece of protein for secular consumption.

‘Anonymous’ lost … again to an Arab.

‘Anonymous’ reacting and writing as much as another typical inarticulate lush from the Rush “lint-brain” Limbaugh hate radio circuit was stumbling along and pounding his fists in fascist outrage at losing … yes, dear readers, losing to an Arab.

Overlooked by many a ‘Anonymous’ American writers and even those with “the considerable brainpower of western critical thinkers” [which ‘Anonymous’ does not rank with] are the historic mathematical and architectural treasures of the Arabic and Persian people. Algorithmic logic and geometry did not come from “Judeo – Christian” American constitutionalists as much as they would bastardize scientific thought “debunking” evolutionary scientific reasoning in today’s class rooms.

Unlike Christianity, Islamic religious laws have a pronounced elaborate scriptural service to the poor and the education of their children. While Christianity offers a few footnotes from their one communist prophet, Jesus Christ, about the sins of avarice and slavery; Islam offers many anecdotal scriptures against greed and slavery, including the mistreatments of women and the penalties for engaging in such.

I as an American know this, unfortunately ‘Anonymous’ represents the most despicable of Know – Nothing Idiots from Boob Tube Land.

And one thing I have learned about the snake logic of these American writers supporting a reactionary and antiquated moribund ideology – they are cowards.

Maybe this is a redemptive characteristic overlooked by many of us Americans who monitor the extreme form of religious fascism practiced by the American “pro – life” movement that ‘Anonymous’ creeps around with his dishonest use of the phrase “UNDERLYING DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES”. He is, through the courteous allowance of Anwaar Hussain, using the cloak of anonymity and thereby honestly revealing his innermost homicidally racialist and nationalist sentiments.

He is a typical not – so – quiet American.

Old country doctors used a device called a poultice to draw out the infectious pus or poison to the surface in a crude but honest attempt to cure. The poultice was usually composed of some odd concoction of ingredients; various plants or even raw pieces of various livestock animals wandering around the barnyard.
A country poultrice absorbing poison, or a looking glass to see ourselves in?

Maybe, my dear friend Anwaar, has allowed us to look at ourselves through a different looking glass. A looking glass that will make this summer and the possible American bombing of Iran a time to resist and fight back against these maggots and albino bugs destroying our country.
Our editor and publisher, Anwaar Hussain, has given Americans a mirror to reflect upon as we redefine and remake, revolt and recast the mold that America will be for our children and our children’s children.

Michael Caddell

Another tax on working stiffs the Plutocrats deny!

It's the junk mail and television that does it!

Robber Barons in the Junk Mail
Lisa Rowe Fraustino

What fun. I just got off the phone with someone at MBNA, the credit card issuer that "earned 1.5 times more profit than McDonalds in 2004." I called for clarification on some points in the document I had just read, or attempted to read, entitled "Important Changes to Your Credit Card Account," which, fortunately, I had not slung out with all the other junk mail my husband and I receive from credit card companies on a daily basis.

This one also appeared junky-its return address had a post office box and city but no company name anywhere on the envelope, the postage was a preprinted bulk mail imprint instead of a stamp, and my own address had that distinctive spat-out appearance that happens with mass mailings-but it also had a line printed across the bottom stating "Important Amendments to Your Credit Card Agreement Enclosed."


As someone who had once before been burned by a similar amendment, that is, as someone who had once gone through a credit card statement to find an unexpected increase in the interest rate, only to learn upon calling the company that, apparently, the changes had been sent to me but had somehow escaped my notice. Somehow. Like, concealed in junk mail trappings so I wouldn't pay attention. Anyway, I knew to open this one, and with a sinking feeling read the terms.

Yes, on the very same day that Congress approved a bill to protect all those poor abused credit card companies from all those evil deadbeat bunkruptcy filers, I had received notice from the most profitable credit card company in the world that they were changing my terms from a 5.9 percent fixed rate to a higher variable rate; that they were changing the default APR pricing comparably, and the grace period, and the payment due date, plus upping the late fee, etcetera etcetera, and they must have noticed that I went to Thailand in January, or maybe it was my airline and hotel reservations to an upcoming conference in Winnipeg that gave them the brilliant idea to add a "Foreign Transaction Fee" of three percent, and, oh, "the conversion rate will be reduced by one percent campared to the way it was previously determined."

So, anyway, the human voice I finally contacted at MBNA, after many minutes of musical button punching followed by many more minutes on hold, told me that I had read the small print right, that indeed my sweet fixed rate of 5.9 percent would be increasing to a nasty variable rate (currently 8.99 percent), that this would happen as of May 25, 2005, and that I may reject the increase and default APR pricing if I give notice in writing, in which case my rate will remain fixed at 5.9 percent until it is paid off as long as I never use the card again after May 24, or if I do use it then the changes will kick in anyway even if I didn't accept them.

This is an improvement over the last time a credit card company tried to stick it to me-at least I can freeze the rate. The last company allowed card holders to reject terms but only if they paid off the balance and canceled the account. That, of course, I indeed accomplished by switching credit card companies. There's always a better offer coming in the mail, if not today, maybe next next week. And so I will reject these changes in big letters highlighted with yellow marker handwritten on scrap paper to show the underpaid paper pusher at MBNA what I think of her boss, and I will wait for another hungry company to lure me and reel me in. They all want me, you know-I'm very attractive, hot even, with my truly excellent credit rating and my record of always paying bills on time and my secure job teaching at a state university while carrying a stubborn credit balance that refuses to go away.

Hey, I got divorced a few years back. And remarried last summer. And I have three kids in college. And I live in Connecticut. Where I moved from a much cheaper state for a new job in 2002. Any one of those would be reason enough to rack up some credit card debt, but it's getting harder and harder to pay off with the various and sundry ways our economy is causing middle-class ends not to meet. I've always been pretty good with finances, shopping around for the lowest interest rates, trying hard to keep the debt load down, driving used cars with good gas mileage, wearing old shoes and only buying last season's clothes on sale (but not at Wal-Mart).
Meanwhile gas and heat prices have gone up and up and up (one frigid month we had an electric bill of $429 for heat in our 1500-foot home, which we keep at a toasty 65 degrees in winter), and so have the property taxes on said home, by over $800 a year-which, of course, would have made a nice dent in the credit card balance. Thank you very much, Republicans, for that clever little transfer of the burden, which, if I did my math right, adds up to more than my so-called "tax cuts" from Mr. Bush.

My husband and I know full well what we need to do. We need to save money to prevent disaster in the case of disaster like cancer or not getting tenure, but to save we need to stop incurring debt and pay off the mortage and the car loans and the student loans and the credit cards. With the credit card companies increasing their interest rates at the same time as consumer borrowing is increasing to pay for escalating costs in basic needs, it becomes harder and harder for people to pay off debts, save money, and, wow, wouldn't this be nice, maybe even invest in stocks, like, wow, MBNA stocks, which I predict will have a lovely rate of return after May 25, 2005 (just a little hunch, there). But I'm thinking maybe the stock market isn't all that interested in middle-class pocket change, unless it comes out of the big collective pockets of social security.

By the looks of their profit returns, MBNA didn't need to raise my interest rates or anyone else's. They really ought to watch out where they put their greedy fingers. Haven't they heard the old adage about not biting the hand that feeds? What about the consumer economy? Don't they want us to be able to afford to buy new stuff to pay them exorbitant interest on? Do they actually want to drive middle-class people into a back-breaking and inescapable debt ratio just because they can? Are our wealthy citizens who run these businesses and own shares in them really that greedy? Are our elected representatives really that short sighted in allowing credit card companies to change the rules at will, always benefitting themselves and never their consumers?

When we sign papers for fixed rates on mortgages, car loans, and student loans, fixed means fixed. We know the deal and can budget accordingly. But credit card companies get to change all the rules whenever they want, and consumers can't do a damned thing about it except pay up or move debt around. There's something wrong with this system. We might even call it morally bankrupt. Instead of blaming the debtor and making it harder to erase credit card debts in bankruptcy, instead of catering to the desires of big business, our government representatives ought to be taking a hard look at the needs of their constituents.

Constituents. That means people. People who vote. Corporations, the last I checked, don't get to vote. They just get to make profit, and externalize whatever costs they can, including human costs. The constituents who elect government officials are not unfeeling, profit-driven companies but living, breathing people who need government regulations to counterbalance the sociopathic effects of capitalism. I'm all for the aspects of capitalism that promote economic health and democratic principles, but there's a greed line that ought not be crossed in a society symbolized by the Statue of Liberty, on whose pedestal is inscribed: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.."

How rich DO the rich have the right to get? On the backs of the working poor and middle class? It would be understandable if MBNA had to change its terms of agreement for sound fiscal health, but they're already in perfect health and are taking more than their fair share to gain even more wealth, like the robber barons of old. Just because they can.

Why don't our elected officials protect the huddled masses from credit card policies that amount to theft? They ought to. They really ought to.
This essay originally appeared at: http://www.commondreams.org/
Lisa Rowe Fraustino teaches English at Eastern Connecticut State University specializing in children's and young adult literature. Her most recent book is
She can be reached at FraustinoL@easternct.edu.
This essay is reprinted in the Flyer with her permission.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Posted on the Round Rooster Barn Circuit last weekend.

A Country Curmudgeon’s take on:
Tree House Hero’s short feature movie
"Four More Years."

By yer scribbling publisher, Michael Caddell

Tree House Hero
"Four More Years"
[3.5 Meg secured live line feed.]



Someone in Kansas needs to see the scariest short feature movie made before the pope's funeral.

(Since it has been 24/7 wall to wall Popery [post-national vegetative state ala Florida] I think some confession and penitence is in order. The much-awaited but delayed installment of the "Bush Phone Tree" series is my rotten fault. I have confessed to have been to the tree house, did not find anyone there and snuck off with a picture. I credited it at the time when churning on the cut line, but it was without notification. You know the photo of the "white trash" Republican sitting on his porch toilet.

It is located here:
http://tinyurl.com/6vwvb scroll down you cannot miss it. I have stopped gore viewing the pope's funeral long enough and struck by a desire for contrition from the neighborhood Tree House Hero write these words. The internet neighborhood is that small folks. The film "Four More Years" linked upstairs is another genius discomfort production who gave us the sorely missed drunk Republican porch monkey. - see * note below.)

The animated feature "Four More Years" is no flash and burn - quick edit to pounding music. This is the kind of dark humor that will be flashing on public computer monitors along the dirty hallways of some future worker anthill housing our grandchildren.

Believe me the short feature is that good. I have my friends over and watch their mouths drop open from the images while hearing the Bush barely edited voice-over.

The flashes of Bush "666" carved Charlie Manson style upon Mt. Rushmore, the head pikes and crucifixions of Lady Liberty will give the hardest Passion of Christ viewers flashback attacks while eating their vote for our "war on the brain" fearless leader. The visible brain warp shown on the faces of viewers is worth inviting "Last Supper" style the next-door neighbors, or even better Ma and Pa Kettle down the road.

Debt slaves and low wage conservatives need to view this while over to the home sucking suds and yucking over the baseball game on the teevee. The classic runs shorter than the commercials and is a great trick to play on them when it's grill time at the BBQ. Another good setting is to seat them with headsets on at damn near full blast and leave the room.

Tree House Hero is a venerable title of honor among Kansans since so many sodbusters working for the spreading tentacles of the Big Ag Combines are bulldozing down hedgerows in pursuit of every square inch of ground for profit.

A “Tree House Hero” is as good as one can expect to be called in a land where trees are rarely spared the Dust Bowl imperative of free market economics, out here Bush rules are applied. The current rage among farmers has been to cultivate the land for the “bio - diesel” fuel “alternative.” “Bio – diesel fuels” a rather fashionable oxymoronic phrase is sweeping the patriotic “War on Terrorism” rural economy.

Blow-dried, pancake make up graduates from the local University School of Journalism stand in the daunting plowed fields hold their microphones up to the gravel voiced, heavily mortgaged landed tenant pontificate on “doing our part” in making America “free from foreign oil” and “energy independent.”

Bull doze the trees and hedgerows, drive out the wildlife and grow what you ask? More soybeans and corn, of course. Damn few Tree House Heroes in Kansas.

The Internet is spreading throughout the Kansas countryside …

Computer internet hooks in the countryside are popping up everywhere so when the day comes for an internet bar in Nortonville, Ks. I know what I am going to do.

I can see the red-cheeked glow of the same friendly Bush loving Hayseed as he stumbles up to the internet feed at the local veteran's bar and clicks that connection to the Tree House Hero link.

He bobs a little, sways slightly, burps, and starts mumbling about "what that damns Fightin' Cock dick is talking about … a Tree House Hero?"

He clicks and the images start flashing across his face.

Another Kansas hayseed gurgling beer and mumbling about "gettin' screwed again" or some widowed church lady sitting quietly at her computer staring wide – eyed and murmuring in a post – Pope JP haze “I always thought he was evil.”

Go there and check out a real Tree House Hero at:
*A short revision since circulated on the reader list.
See, the internet is that small! Blue Barn HQ just received official word from our Tree House Hero to charge forward with our truthseeking project!
The drunk Republican porch monkey will be returning with new low wage conservative friends in the not - so - distant future. The end is near, hope you have a sense of humor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

He didn't listen then, he's not listening now!

When "pro - life" George didn't listen ... to the "anti - war" Pope.

God's OK On Abortion

"And when he hath made her drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed." (Numbers 5:27-28)

This nonsensical ritual, prescribed by God, to a woman suspected of infidelity, must undergo the drinking of a vile concoction made of bitter water and dust from the floor of a tabernacle. A priest calls a curse upon the woman's head to insure that if she has acted in adultery the drinking of the liquid will cause her to have a miscarriage. If she comes out clean, then she shall conceive.

Regardless of how ridiculous this procedure seems, any person who believes every word of the Bible must come to terms with the realization that the quoted God here sometimes authorizes abortion.
(also see Num. 5:1-25)

The Talking Donkey

"And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, 'What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?' And Balaam said unto the ass, 'Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.' And the ass said unto Balaam, 'Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?' And he said, 'Nay.'" (Numbers 22:27-30)

Here we have, as absurd as it may seem, a talking donkey. If we came across a talking animal, would we not feel amazed? Yet, oddly, Balaam here seems not the least bit concerned and converses with the ass as if nothing unusual had happened!
Given that millions of fundamentalists believe every world in the Bible, they would have us also believe that the Bible has its own version of Mr. Ed.
Notice that Balaam's cruel behavior to the donkey seems to have mimicked God's jealous behavior towards His people. Yet God responds to Balaam: "thy way is perverse before me." (Num. 22:32)

"If the bible had said that Jonah swallowed the whale, I would believe it."
-William Jennings Bryan-

Pray in the Closet

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hyprocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:5-6)

The Religious Right wishes to put into law public prayer. How many Christians realize that the Biblical Jesus strongly opposed public prayer?
The wall of separation between Church and State, actually protects the religious liberties for all of us in the United States and here we have Biblical justification for keeping prayer private.

Happy To Kill Children
"Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." (Psalms 137:9, KJV)

"How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock." (Psalms 137:9, New American Bible)

"Happy the man who shall seize and smash your little ones against the rock!"
(Psalms 137:9, New American Bible)

"a blessing on anyone who seizes your babies and shatters them against a rock!"
(Psalms 137:9, Jerusalem Bible)

Ask a Christian friend whether he or she should feel happy to dash a child against the rocks. Your friend will most likely stare at you in horror, much less believe this idea exists in their sacred Bible.

Many Churches have found this verse quite embarrassing. It gives no wonder why priests, Jews, and Christians alike, who quote from Psalms 137, always leaving out this last verse.
(See also Isaiah 13:16; Hosea 13-16)

God Condones Slavery

"Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids." (Leviticus 25:44 , KJV)

"As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may aquire male and female slaves." (Leviticus 25:44, NRSV)

The Biblical meaning rings clear: God not only condones slavery, but gives permission to buy and own slaves. The Southern United States fought The Civil War over such Scriptural teachings.

God Accepts Slavery

"And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever." (Exodus 21:5-6)

The Bible bears witness to the fact that God accepts not only slavery but violence against such slaves (in this case a awl driven through the ear) for the innocent statement of love for their master, wife and children.

It came from precisely these verses that justified, in many peoples minds, the tortures inflicted on African slaves when they tried to leave their cruel masters in the American colonies. "Good" Christians of the day would drive nails and spikes through the ears of defenseless slaves whose only offense came from the will to no longer serve as slaves.

Not until after the Civil War did federal laws become enacted to protect African Americans from gross physical abuse. Even today, the KKK and "the Aryan Race" use the Bible as justification for their attacks against "Negroes."

Slaughter Of Innocents

"And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain." (Deuteronomy 2:34)

"And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Hesbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities we took for a prey to ourselves." (Deuteronomy 3:6-7)

Such words helped give justification to mediaeval Crusaders who slaughtered men, women and children along their way to Jerusalem and stole the spoils of the cities. Even today, many Christian military men use Scripture to justify their actions. If any soldier harbors doubt about killing his fellow humans, he need only consult a military chaplain or read the Bible to calm their worries. Even George Bush (the First), with Billy Graham beside him, proclaimed the Gulf War as "moral." George Bush (the Second) continued in his father's steps by killing thousands of Iraqi civilians in the Iraqi war. Such moral wars result in thousands of "utterly destroyed" innocent men, women and children.;

(For a few more examples [but not all] see also Deuteronomy 3:3, 7:2, 20:16-17 , 25:19; Joshua 6:21, 8:26, 10-28-40; Numbers 31:17-18; I Samuel 15:3; Isaiah 13:16; and Hosea 13:16)


American Center for International Law

The Battle For World Order IS The Neocon Revolution

A lesser form of "World War IV" might be occurring right now, but it's certainly not the one that Mr. Bush's neocon extremists have concocted in their fevered imaginations. [1]

According to Martin Jacques' latest essay, "The Neocon Revolution," the Bush neocons' "preemptive unilateralism" is a calculated paradigm shift in US foreign policy to shatter the post-WW II collective security agreement.

Furthermore, the neocons are currently attempting to extend their regressive influence into the very architecture of the international order by placing neocons John Bolton at the UN and Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. Hence, Mr. Jacques laments the EU's apparent capitulation to neocon pressure on these appointments.

Finally, he questions both the EU's craven acceptance of the neocons' strategic moves from Washington and Europe's reluctance to stand up for an international order that is based on the rule of law and collective security. [2]

According to former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook's latest essay, "Why American Neocons Are Out For Kofi Annan's Blood," we're immersed in a no-holds-barred power struggle between:
(A) the neocon crypto-fascists, who are attempting to impose American supremacy on an unwilling world by machtpolitik (i.e., by "might-makes-right" politics); versus
(B) UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is attempting to preserve the present egalitarian system of multilateral global governance by initiating a procedural and structural reformation of the UN Security Council. [3]

Overarching Conclusion:
Destroying World Order To Create World Hegemony.

Of course, we mortals cannot know the future with certitude. However, the neocons' ongoing attempt to dismantle the international order must have some strategic purpose. When one considers both Mr. Bush's second-term foreign-policy appointments AND the Pentagon's recently-released national "defense" plan, the clear implication is that the Bush administration has resoundingly reaffirmed its militaristic imperialist offensive strategy, which foreshadows more petro-state wars of aggression. Finally, the essays cited in endnote four will provide more probative evidence that this conclusion is NOT dismissible as mere speculation. [4]

The Bottom Line:

If more unjust and illegal wars of aggression are looming on the horizon, it's our job as responsible people of conscience to stop them through either constitutional impeachment proceedings or collective civil disobedience -- which is to say, through our nonviolent noncooperation with evil. [5]


[1] A. John Brown's 3-30-05 CD/TD essay, "Why World War IV Can't Sell":
B. Jim Wallis' September 2003 Sojourners essay, "Dangerous Religion:
George W. Bush's Theology Of Empire": http://tinyurl.com/4fxwc
[2] Martin Jacques' 3-31-05 CD/GU essay, "The Neocon Revolution": h ttp://www.commondreams.org/views05/0331-27.htm
[3] Robin Cook's 4-1-05 CD/GU essay,"Why American Neocons Are Out For Kofi Annan's Blood": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0401-28.htm
[4] A. Ray McGovern's 4-1-04 CD/MH essay, "Honest Intelligence Needed":
B. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 3-31-05 VH essay, "On The USA's Tragic Withdrawal From The Rule Of Law: Pentagon Confirms that Unilateral Preemptive Strikes Are US Policy": http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=28775
C. Adam Williams' 3-29-05 DV essay, "Terrorism And The New National Defense Strategy Of The U.S.": http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Mar05/Williams0329.htm
D. Mark Jensen's 2-25-05 AOL article, "Scott Ritter Says U.S. Plans June Attack On Iran": http://tinyurl.com/696uc

[5] A. Stephen Zunes' 3-31-05 CD/FPIF essay, "Recognizing the Power of Nonviolent Action": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0331-31.htm
B. Baltimore Chronicle's 3-30-05 article, "Veterans Group Calls On Congress To Impeach George W. Bush And Dick Cheney":
Author: Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D., is the Executive Director of the American Center for International Law ("ACIL").
It is published with Mr. Peterson's permission.
© 2005 EAPIII

A cockadoodle - do heard around the world!

Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter with Kansas" was the spark.

Dear Michael

Today I read your article "A Message to Conservative Readers & Legislators" reproduced by Anwaar Hussain at his blog Fountainhead (linked at left in the Flyer-MC).

The grapevine has it that a few folk got riled! Seems you've touched just about every hot button there is. Folks sure are sensitive. So, I have a recommendation. In future, clean up your language (inter alia, rename the blog presently known as Fightin' Cock Flyer), and tell people only what they want to hear. Paramount: language and PR.

What they want to hear is as follows: America is great and good. In fact, we are the best. Evils committed in the service of nationalistic pride and imperial gain have nothing but the purest motives. Hence, we commit no evil. You know: collateral damage, and all that? Wiping out Fallujah, for example, leaving the residents in groaning misery, with generations to come of DU related disease and torment - a small price for them to pay. Cause look: George says we're bringing them democracy, freedom and liberty. Michael, remember those three words. Weave them into all your articles.

Now, what? Oh, yes, you lie about the state of our economy, and "maybe you dance". I have absolutely no idea whatsoever how the two parts of that sentence fit together, but take no never mind. When we're all steamed up for god and country, some things simply sound good.

If it's all the same, however, I'll skip the dance part, cause I haven't recently read much good relevant political dogma on the subject. As for the economy, your correspondent, together with most of the other idiots who voted for George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and all the other blood thirsty warmongering lying thieves are well and truly ignorant how our economy is being ravaged. Unlikely anything I might say would impact. But there's an excellent book out with the word 'Kansas' in the title. I'd like to recommend it. "What's the Matter with Kansas," written by Thomas Frank.

However, here I must confess. I read only about a third of the book and had to put it down before throwing up. Let me hasten to reassure your readers, however. The author used no "bad language". He simply told the truth. And the truth about Kansas and about this country is real barf material - only for the strong of stomach.

Before coming to Mr. Hussain, let me say one more thing, following on the previous paragraph. I am not an "America hater". I love my country and all its inhabitants.

It shouldn't be necessary to explain, but I will: There are lots and lots and lots of good Americans. And there are lots and lots and lots of rich Americans. I myself live in an area where poverty is not obvious. But, swear to god, George and the neocons are creating poverty that will be our bane for decades to come. Saying this gives me no pleasure, and I happily would eat crow if proven wrong. But what I totally loathe / hate / abhor is that our Constitution is being systematically shredded, that we are never told the truth, that there appears to be no deep national feeling of shame over the wanton destruction we bring to others who have the great misfortune to be deemed "not us" (and, may, incidentally, be sitting on national treasure that we covet).

As though our creator, whoever she may be, made "insiders" and "outsiders", with the bounty of creation intended only for the "insiders" (happily, us). What shortsighted, self-serving, ungodly arrogance. Who is this god we worship?

Now for Mr Hussain, who saw fit to publish your material on his blog, Fountainhead. I assume he did so because he has a certain sympathy with what you write. Indeed, his blog is an alternative point of view, one not commonly indulged in by those fed from the slop put out by mainstream American media. His point of view is shared by millions of people outside the United States. Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves just why that is. That they "hate us for our freedom" is such simple-minded fall-back clap trap.

Far be it for me to make generalizations on behalf of others, but let me make an educated guess why the United States is not winning any international popularity contests. Try these on for size:

The fact that we kill and plunder virtually at will comes at the top of the list.

The fact that we ignore other people's beliefs and traditions merits mention.

The fact that our environmental "policies" and greed are rapidly (possibly irreversibly) rendering uninhabitable this one and only planet that we share doesn't go down too well.

The fact that human rights is now a nearly meaningless concept, attested to by our secret gulag of torture chambers, causes a bit of concern.

If truly, in our national psyche, life were deemed sacred, we would treat it as such. For the American national psyche, however, consumerism is sacred, with multinational corporations (and the neocons) astride the throne, wielding their trillions of dollars, minus any shred of humility or compassion. Therefore, some of us look at the sanctimonious spectacle with full saturation-style drooling media coverage circling around one dying person for weeks on end and we have a word: HYPOCRISY.

Kindest regards,

Monday, April 11, 2005

Help send POAC to the St. Louis Media Reform Convention this May, 2005.

The Project for the Old American Century needs just a few more pullover shirts sold with images like the above to raise the funds for their trip to the important St. Louis Media Reform Convention this early May, 2005. And the refrigeration magnets look nifty at home, too!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

"Naming names and telling it like it is."

An Important Commentary
Printed at CounterPunch, April 2 – 3, 2005 Weekend Edition:
Operation (Un)Truth
A Trojan Jackass for the Anti-War Movement

Fayetteville, North Carolina

"To mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq on March 19, various anti-war groups are planning to protest in Fayetteville, N.C., the home of Fort Bragg. It's not the protest, but the location that has some people upset.

"An organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan said demonstrators are 'wrong and insensitive' to take their complaints to Fort Bragg, because it blames the warriors for the war.

"'The decision makers are not at Fort Bragg, they are in Washington. Rallying against the war by marching at Fort Bragg is like protesting the cows if you don't like McDonalds,' said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Operation Truth."

- from "Anti-War Groups Protesting US Troops Instead of Decision-Makers," by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com, March 17, 2005

Everyone knows the story of the Trojan Horse. An act of friendship used to smuggle the enemy force inside your gates.

Actually, that's the dumbed down version.

The Greeks led the Trojans to believe that the great wooden horse was a Greek war offering to Athena, alleging it had been abandoned on the battlefield. The Greeks left a soldier behind, pretending he was now a non-combatant, to convince the Trojans that if they didn't carry the ligneous steed back into fortified Troy, the Trojans themselves would risk the wrath of the goddess Athena. It's a better story this way. Maybe it's a more apt metaphor, too, for what Paul Rieckhoff and "Operation Truth" are up to with the antiwar movement.

Paul Rieckhoff, a former first-looey in the Reserves who went to Iraq, has now found his political niche as a plant for the Democratic Party, using his outfit's non-profit status to give him plausible deniability. The NGO in question is Operation Truth, which has somehow managed to pass itself off as an antiwar group every since its inception while explicitly not taking a position against the war.

It's a little like calling Camille Paglia a feminist or James Carville a leftist. Say it a couple of times in the press and its riveted together in the public consciousness. Feminist Camille Paglia... "from the left, James Carville." Basically, people can get away with any damn thing these days, or think they can. Not this, though.

Let me be frank. Operation Truth is a sham, and it's staff commandant is a jackass.

Just so no one tries to attribute my remarks to anyone or any organization or any campaign I might be in now, or any in the future, I say again... I am speaking for myself. I have a number of friends and colleagues who are a good deal more diplomatic than I am that can speak for their organizations. But after Reickhoff's creepy little attack on the Fayetteville, North Carolina antiwar action of March 19th , I can hold my tongue no longer on either Rieckhoff or the attempt by the operatives of liberal imperialism more generally to blunt the sharpening anti-imperial edge of the broad movement against the Mesopotamian misadventure.

Let me reiterate again that I am speaking for myself, personally, representing no organization... so no one like Rieckhoff can attribute anything I say to any of my allies in any current or campaign within the antiwar movement.

I'm speaking for myself as an unabashed leftist -- that's someone who opposes capitalism, in case this term is confusing. (James Carville is not a leftist. He is an obnoxious asshole, which is just one current within the Democratic Party... the Republicans have a lot of obnoxious assholes, too.) Leftism is part of the broad antiwar movement, openly so, and we argue openly for our position: that capitalism as a system, and not some moral or intellectual failure, causes these wars.

My reaction here doesn't only include Operation Truth, but the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), and all the rest of these bombardier-liberal shills. I haven't gotten ugly with any of them in public in the past because they were still mixed in with us when the pre-2004-election antiwar efforts were homogenized within a movement that was not antiwar, but anti-Bush. And this is the first time they have very publicly attacked those of us who are organizing among military families, veterans, and GI's.

Just two weeks ago, Operation Truth's Rieckhoff launched a full frontal bullshit assault against that action in the press saying, "If you support the troops, don't protest them in their backyards -- especially not as they're sent to war or returning home."

Of course, the entire call-up for that event was painfully clear from the very beginning that this was not a protest "against troops," which is a red herring in any case, and the speaker line-up was ponderously heaped with the families of military members, veterans, and the surviving families of the war dead. Rieckhoff knew this, and he lied about the character of the demo anyway.

Anyone who cares to search Rieckhoff's Operation Truth website, by the way, hungry for a single statement opposing either the invasion or occupation of Iraq will go home with an empty stomach. That's because it is not an antiwar NGO. It is criticizing the conduct of the war and the actions of the Republican administration on veterans benefits in a way calculated to bewilder people into believing it is an ally of the antiwar movement.

So here's my message to Rieckhoff. We got your number. Go home to your imperial buddies.
The same goes for Eric Gustafson who heads up the Education for Peace in Iraq Coalition (EPIC), another vet mired in the issue-policy swamp of liberal pluralism.

From their own news release in which they piled onto the campaign of lies directed at the Fayetteville action: "Founded in 1998 by human rights advocates, EPIC promotes peace, human rights, and democracy for the people of Iraq. Since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq two years ago this week, EPIC has advocated U.S. and international assistance for Iraqi-led nation-building and opposed the withdrawal of UN-sanctioned forces until Iraq is able to provide for its own security."

EPIC's website claims is "was" against the war, but now... here's the uniform mantra among these fronts... WE cannot "abandon" Iraq. The caps are intentional, and the claim is mendacious. Their opposition was not to invading and occupying Iraq, but to the way in which the neocons went about it... that is, without a resolution from the UN Security Council.
'Give me a Security Council resolution, and I'll release my masculine energy on those wogs in a cloudburst of 500-pound bombs!'

The other speciality of this "tendency" is to red-bait. So I might as well take that away right here. I'm as red as a baboon's ass and proud of it.

I don't have to put on a red hat, though, to talk about this WE business... this WE must not "abandon Iraq." Even my movement allies in the hardly-seditious North Carolina Council of Churches -- who co-sponsored the Fayetteville action -- know that support of ANY continuation of ANY imperial military occupation is NOT antiwar. If you support a military occupation, then you are supporting a war. Two plus two. This is not complicated.

Just for the record, Paul & Eric, the US military is not in Iraq to do a damned thing for the Iraqi people. What particular brand of cheap magical-mystery acid does someone take when he implies that Pizarro should be nominated to help the Incas with reconstruction? WE are the barbarians here!

This benevolent force you are arguing to leave in Iraq has been used to enforce attacks and sanctions that are slouching toward a body count of 2 million, microtoxified the entire environment with a radioactive condiment that produces babies born without brains, slaughtered children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children, trashed the social and economic infrastructure, imprisoned thousands of people in indiscriminate round-ups (including children, by the way), subjected detainees to sexual humiliation, beatings, rape, murder, and other methods of systematic torture, bombed whole neighborhoods, kicked in the doors of sleeping families and waved guns at their infants and grandmothers, surrounded a city (Fallujah, in case WE forgot), then blocked the exits against "military-aged males," who the US armed forces then exterminated, Warsaw-style, by the thousands. You know, Paul & Eric , that I could go on with this list for some time.

That's why the antiwar movement is going to reject your little containment mission for the liberal bourgeoisie (Oh my God, he used another one of those commie words!). It doesn't take a Red to see the White-Man's-Burden stamp across this box of goods you are selling. WE can't abandon the Iraqis, indeed!

There is no WE. There is a THEY. I may as well explain this wild-eyed leftist claim. THEY are an imperial ruling class. THEY really do exist, and with about a month's dedicated research, it would be possible for a small staff to list them out with names and addresses... but then someone would accuse us of developing hit lists.


THEY operate very like a mafia, and THEY rely very much on their US state to keep things running smoothly, including sending out hirelings to kill their enemies and victims. The difference is that the hirelings, who are vast numbers of working class kids, have been convinced all their lives by a zillion-dollar-a-year Orwellian brainwashing apparatus to believe that killing for bankers and currency speculators and politicians is some noble cause.

THEY just sent hundreds of thousands of working class people in uniform to kill hundreds of thousands of unfashionable brown people in order to establish the redisposition of a post-Cold War imperial military into Southwest Asia. THEY have not for one milisecond considered, nor will THEY ever consider, the welfare of Iraqis except when it is politically and militarily expedient.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq will not be converted into a Botticelli painting.
THEY want to establish permanent military bases there, and every day that they stay there puts them one day closer to that... or more likely to some humiliating denouement like Vietnam, so we can ring up the carcass numbers in five figures with the only body count THEY keep -- American dead. Iraqis don't count, you see. So as long as we're playing the pronoun game, let me point out that YOU and the flabby Democratic Party bosses you ultimately work for when you attack us on actions like Fayetteville... YOU are arguing precisely what your correlatives did during the Vietnam occupation.

YOU and all the rest of the civil-societist gasbags in the alphabet soup of issue-policy NGO's are advising moderation in the face of a world that is already deeply in the grip of the very barbarism that Rosa Luxemburg warned us about. (She was red, too.) That's what YOU always do when big sections of the people start to look left. It's your nasty little job, and the latte fumes meandering up from your cups have always masked the smell of spilt blood... because what YOU are endorsing is nothing more nor less than the continuation of Wolfowitz's lethal Caligulan fantasy in Iraq to save capitalism from its own dirty, dangerous, and expensive messes.

In Fayetteville, where you would like to have shut us up, Cindy Sheehan tore open the tender wound of her grief for the hundredth time before a crowd, describing the moment when she learned that the child she pushed out of her own body no longer existed, that he had disappeared in a sustained moment of terror and pain during the Sadr rebellion, a rebellion incited gratuitously by the occupation authorities.

She puts that grief on display again and again in the hope that others won't have to experience it, when she could stay home and let the wound heal. So I am not going to be diplomatic with Paul Rieckhoff and his ilk, when they misrepresent the action in Fayetteville as somehow being directed against those bewildered, economically caged-in workers in uniform we call "the troops."

Of course, class has been off their agenda for a long time. More and more of us already know who is served by trying to check the growing militancy within the antiwar movement, and we recognize the Kiplingesque racism that props up their flaccid argument that the Iraqis are uniquely unqualified to take control of their own destiny. It's not Iraq they are concerned with, after all, is it?

They are worried, just like any Democratic Party boss or entrenched union bureaucrat that the left shift in the movement, where a lot of "ordinary" people now seek out and speak with known socialists, will eat into their careerist base. This has always been the motivation for cluster-bomb Democrats. Nothing freaks them out worse than school teachers and postal workers and janitors who are educating themselves on the deeper meaning of words like "imperialism."

It's this fear that motivates the cheap attack on the Fayetteville action, because when the resistance is carried into the dark heart of the imperial military itself a storm threat appears on the horizon, and not just for the war but for the bosses at home.

The left in this movement is not "against" the soldiers. Speaking for myself, I am on the soldier's side, not as a soldier, but as a human being. I encourage all soldiers to resist. I won't conceal the fact that my encouragement of that resistance is aimed at utterly gutting the capacity of that institution to continue operations in the charnel house they've made of Iraq. Because when the institution of the military can no longer occupy other nations and kill their people, then our sons and daughters will quit returning as torn flesh and pain in mobile burn units, wheelchairs, and body bags.

Oh, but WE can not abandon Iraq! Hearing this from Rieckhoff who has never claimed to oppose the war has created the controversy it has partly because many in the antiwar movement, including the alternative media, feted this barn weasel. They thought that his noisy entreaties for better body armor and more Prozac for PTSD were "progressive" for the same reason people voted for that Boston Basset hound, John Kerry. They believe the war is about George W. Bush instead of capitalism.

One pampered, intellectually challenged, legacy admission to the White House does not explain the direct line that can be drawn between an airplane flying into a skyscraper and a kid that will kill for a pair of shoes. It doesn't explain the straight line from Abu Ghraib to Pelican Bay. It doesn't explain the connection between Ken Lay and My Lai, between the battering of a wife in Cleveland and the sexual torture of a prisoner in Afghanistan, or between a flood victim in Princeville, North Carolina, and a tsunami victim in Aceh.

But there are connections, and they become clearer to people the longer they stay in the antiwar movement, because they want answers. The drivel about staying the course is unsatisfactory. People can see Luxemburg's prediction of barbarism right in front of them. It's here, and this WE finds it unacceptable for future generations.

Take your big wooden jackass home and leave us to be on our way. We taking that left turn ahead in the road.

And to the soldiers... resist!

This commentary is published here with Stan's permission.
Stan Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti" (Soft Skull Press, 2000), "Full Spectrum Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003) and "Sex & War" which will be released approximately December, 2005. He is retired from the United States Army. His blog is at www.stangoff.com.
Goff can be reached at: