Sunday, September 18, 2005


By Jack Random


The president’s FDR moment (his pledge to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf communities no matter the cost) has already given way to a stark reality: George Bush is no FDR. He intends to use this disaster as an excuse to prosecute his master plan of economic austerity. He intends to sever the social safety net. He will rebuild New Orleans on the backs of the working poor, the jobless poor, the elderly and infirm. The trickle down policy of tax cuts for the elite will continue unabated while funding for education, health care, unemployment, job training and welfare are cut to the bone. It is what the neocons in the smoke-filled rooms laughingly refer to as “starving the beast.” The government is the beast but it is the people who will starve.


From the floor of the United Nations, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela condemned America’s defiance of international law and international institutions. Echoing decades of demands by the rightwing of the American political spectrum, he called for the United Nations to be relocated outside the United States. His point is well taken. The United Nations will never be the kind of organization that can stand against the lawlessness of its most powerful members. Rather than calling for relocation, however, I suggest an alternative community of nations with an organizational structure more resembling the American system (minus the absurdity of the electoral college). Recognizing that the world’s most powerful and wealthy nations must be represented beyond their numbers, such nations should be allotted additional votes in an upper policy-making body more resembling the United States Senate than the UN Security Council. No nation should ever possess the power of veto. No nation should have a license to commit any act of war or crime against nature with absolute impunity.


Judge John Roberts has distinguished himself as a truly brilliant man who figured out early in life that conservatives had the money and Roberts wanted his share. Within two minutes of observing the Senate confirmation hearings, I came to the following conclusions: First, Roberts is smarter than his inquisitors. If anyone thought there would be a fumble, a Bork or Thomas moment, give it up. Second, it is entirely possible that Chief Justice Roberts will not be what the right wing assumes he is. He has a sense of a constitutional right of privacy. He appears to favor a libertarian approach that will not invade the lives of individuals. He will not overturn Roe V. Wade.


While our eyes were glued to images of shock and despair on the dark skin faces of Americans stranded in the city of jazz, our military launched its latest offensive in the war: Fallujah, Ramadi, Anbar Province, and now Tel Afar. While we were absorbed in the ongoing saga of a drowning metropolis, the Iraqi insurgency answered. In a matter of days, an estimated 200 have been killed and 600 wounded. While our leaders on both sides of the mainstream aisle continue to warn us that, if we pull out, anarchy and civil war will descend, we wonder how anarchy and civil war would look any different than what we observe now.

In a particularly telling incident, insurgents lured a massive crowd to a van with the promise of employment. Over a hundred desperate day laborers died when it exploded.

There are no more jobs in Baghdad today than there are in New Orleans – which is to say, everyone who works, works for Halliburton. All contracts are in the hands of the corrupt corporations that do the government’s bidding. If you work for Halliburton, you work for Bush-Cheney and the occupation forces. There are no more free agents in Baghdad or New Orleans. You are either with us or against us. Either you live to serve us, or you die opposing us. It is the American way.


[NOTE: See for a review of Nicolas Rossier's documentary film, "Aristide & The Endless Revolution."]

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