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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Response to "The Imperial President" 

I read with some amusement your recent bit in Dissident Voice … “Imperial President and the NSA Spying Scandal” … and just ‘had to’ respond.

The gradual erosion of the protections of constitutionalism, the alleged ‘rule of law,’ beginning, I would aver, with the collapse of the Articles of Confederation, is part and parcel of the history of the country. The so-called “Civil” War saw the beginnings of the corporate ownership of government and the beat continues on. To ascribe the recent imbroglio to the current presidency is something like being angry with the taste of apples when the tree was planted long ago – did the planter know what was to come of his ‘unintended’ consequences – or was he malicious in his intent even then? Did the man who created the shovel know to what purpose his tool would be put? Have all presidents, believing in their own self-righteousness not felt constrained by any and all limitations? This one may seem blatant, but look at his predecessors, all. The problem isn’t so much the USE of the NSA as it is the EXISTENCE of the NSA. Is it the tool, or the use of the tool with unintended consequences that matters? The idea of corporations may not in itself be bad … but they too tend to grow more and more prominent over time … and to suffer from fewer and fewer limitations.

I do not wish to defend Bush the ‘man’ – he has not the depth, breadth nor scope to be president of the local Rotary, much less of theUnited States. (In fact it may be easier to elect an idiot at the presidential level than in the local Rotary – they at least know something of their members.) I do intend to ask how such a ‘man,’ with all of his limitations, could become president in the first place? How is it that trusting such a ‘man’ with tools such as the NSA came about in the first place? Are we not, in the final analysis, complicit as Eichmann was complicit in the holocaust? Are we not all sinners by omission in the same way the so-called victims of 9-11 were victims of the US imperial hegemony? Are we not, as Ward Churchill suggested, all a bunch of ‘little Eichmann’s”?

Oh yes, there is an evil in the land – and it is NOT al Queda – it is greed, and ‘going along’ so that we can continue to do better, even the poor, than the rest of the world. There is, I suspect, as much of Bush in you as there is of you in Bush – in all of us – a persistent little selfish nastiness. That nastiness was the sown seed that spawned the NSA and the ability to spy on our own citizens. That nastiness has allowed each of us to buy into the idea that ‘our way of life’ is the one needing to be preserved … and that nastiness is at least as Random as Bush.


Randall H Gaylor, MLS

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Four Kids from Nowhere 

(Heroes and Enemies in War)

Four kids from an all American town
rusting from a global disease
afflicting only the working class
sign up for the National Guard
four tickets to a college education

Four months later they land in Iraq
fighting a global war
for reasons they will never understand
beyond the pledge of allegiance

Four friends who played football and baseball
and hung out after the final score
talking the talk and building friendships
that would last a lifetime

Four months later a lifetime ends for
one of four and nobody asks: What for?
for duty honor freedom democracy
for babies mothers and summer morns

Four kids from an all American town
a world apart yet together in war
with four from Mosul Baghdad Ramadi
who played soccer and hung out after the score

There are no enemies in Iraq
There are only victims
Heroes if you prefer but victims
just the same.

[See Dissident Voice for Jack Random’s “The Imperial President & The NSA Spying Scandal.]

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

THE IRAQI DEATH TOLL: 140,000 

In response to a rare unscripted question, the president recently acknowledged the death of approximately 30,000 Iraqis as result of the war and occupation.

The general response of the media was to praise the president for his candid admission and to search for the source of his estimate. A consensus emerged that the source was the website Iraq Body Count. Few reports went beyond that revelation to examine the accuracy of the estimate.

As reported by the media-watch group FAIR, the Iraq Body Count provides an extremely conservative estimate of civilian deaths only. The count tallies only those deaths that are reported in the media.

As the reader may recall, the first action in the assault on Fallujah was to seize the local hospital. Hospitals had come under American criticism for releasing information regarding deaths and injuries. The Iraq Body Count, itself, acknowledges that their methodology is designed to provide a low baseline for civilian deaths and that “many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported in the media.” This is particularly true since the purge of independent media from Iraq, including Al Jazeera.

If we assume that the Iraq Body Count underestimates civilian deaths by half, the number rises to 60,000 but it remains limited to civilians. If we further assume that the casualty rate among non-civilians (security forces, military police and insurgents) is at least as high as civilian rates, we arrive at a number that fully confirms the much-criticized estimate of 100,000 deaths by the British medical journal Lancet (10/29/04).

In point of fact, the Lancet study remains the only objective attempt to quantify the Iraqi death toll. If we assume that the casualty rate has remained constant since the Lancet survey over a year ago, we arrive at a number approaching 140,000.

While the media may find fault with such a number, I submit it is eminently more reasonable than the president’s informal estimate.

What does that say for the president’s level of awareness or his compassion for the dead?

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