Looking for an out? Or a way to stay in?

Tom Hayden has published an article on the Huffington Post blog claiming that negotiations are occurring between U.S. officials and the Sunni resistance in Iraq. Hayden writes, “Failures on the battlefield and in the recent American elections are propelling the Bush Administration to consider significant changes in Iraq policy. Having placed the Shiite majority in power, the Administration now wonders if the country is being delivered to Iran.” More mysteriously, “It is not for holiday purposes that George Bush and Condoleeza [sic] Rice are meeting next week with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman while Dick Cheney rushes to Saudi Arabia.” The plan would consist of the following points (quoted from Hayden’s article):

  • The resistance groups reject the ability of the al-Maliki government to unify its government, and therefore wants [sic] an interim government imposed before new elections can be held.
  • The former Baathist-dominated national army, intelligence services and police, whose leaders currently are heading the underground resistance, would be rehired, restored and re-integrated into national structures under this plan.
  • Multinational Force [MNF-I] activities aimed at controlling militias to be expanded.
  • The US-controlled Multi-National Force [MNF-I] would be redeployed to control the eastern border with Iran.
  • A Status of Forces agreement would be negotiated immediately permitting the presence of American troops in Iraq for as long as ten years. Troop reductions and redeployments would be permitted over time.
  • Amnesty and prisoner releases would be negotiated between the parties, with the Americans guaranteeing the end of torture of those held in the detention centers and prisons of the current, Shiite-controlled Iraqi state.
  • De-Baathification edicts issued by Paul Bremer would be rescinded, allowing tens of thousands of former Baathists to resume military and professional service.
  • An American commitment to financing reconstruction would be continued, and the new Iraqi regime would guarantee incentives for private American companies to participate in the rebuilding effort.
  • War-debt relief for Kuwait and other countries.

On Democracy Now!, Hayden explained that “over the past several years, but especially in the past month since the election, there have been contacts at a deniable level.” All this occurs while Iran reportedly offers “to help Washington calm Iraq’s escalating sectarian violence, if the United States drops its ‘bullying’ policy toward Tehran,” “[c]ongressional leaders displayed eroding patience in the Iraqi government on Sunday, adding pressure on President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to find a faster path to peace when they meet this week,” even as “Shiite politicians loyal to the radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr … have threatened to boycott parliament and the Cabinet if al-Maliki meets with Bush” possibly because, as the London Sunday Telegraph reports, “The goal [of a weeklong, high-stakes diplomatic offensive for control of the Middle East] is to marshal a force of friendly Sunni regimes against the radical leadership of Shi’ite Iran, which Washington thinks is trying to develop a nuclear bomb,” and which is also widely believed to have gained considerable influence within Iraq itself. Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, the Iraq Study Group’s “draft report on strategies for Iraq, which will be debated here by a bipartisan commission beginning Monday, urges an aggressive regional diplomatic initiative that includes direct talks with Iran and Syria.”

The upshot of all this is it looks like the Bush administration now seeks to play the Sunnis off against the Shi’ites–importantly including Iran–and seemingly seeks to do it before the Iraq Study Group releases its report. The trouble with this is that the Shi’ites, importantly including Iran, are capable of raising even more havoc than the Sunnis. This really doesn’t look to me like a plan for peace, but a way to provoke the wider war with Syria and Iran that I thought the Bush administration wanted when Hezbollah rebuffed Israel earlier this year.

“Look at all this mess,” said Timur Goksel, a former longtime spokesman for United Nations Forces in Lebanon. “The only one who has overall influence in the region with their military, ideology, money and propensity to cause mischief, are the Iranians.”

Happy Genocide Day

I have a collection of native American speeches which helps to explain the failure of native Americans to unite against the European invaders who would ultimately annihilate the vast majority of their population. It’s important to understand that some native Americans did not perceive the Europeans as a homogeneous group. British, French, and colonists all vied for alliances with the natives. Different groups allied with different Europeans; this not only prevented native Americans from uniting against the scourge, but I imagine that because Europeans were likely less apt to tell one native American from another, likely contributed to an image of native American treachery.

The first of these speeches was given by Acuera, the Timucua chief, circa 1540:

Others of your accursed race have, in years past, poisoned our peaceful shores. They have taught me what you are. What is your employment? To wander about like vagabonds from land to land, to rob the poor, to betray the confiding, to murder in cold blood the defenceless. No! with such a people I want no peace–no friendship. War, never-ending war, exterminating war, is all the boon I ask.

You boast yourselves valiant, and so you may be; but my faithful warriors are not less brave, and this too you shall one day prove; for I have sworn to maintain an unsparing conflict while one white man remains in my borders–not only in battle, though even thus we fear not to meet you, but by strategem, ambush, and midnight surprisal.

I am king in my own land, and will never become the vassal of a mortal like myself. Vile and pusillanimous is he who will submit to the yoke of another when he may be free. As for me and my people, we choose death–yes! a hundred deaths–before the loss of our liberty and the subjugation of our country.

Keep on robbers and traitors: in Acuera and Apalachee we will treat you as you deserve. Every captive will we quarter and hang up to the highest tree along the road.

Now comes this on, of all places, FreeRepublic, a conservative blog:

Origin of Thanksgiving Holiday

Culture/Society Miscellaneous
Source: Univ of Connecticut Anthropology Dept
Author: William B. Newell (Penobscot Tribe)
Posted on 11/22/2000 10:23:07 PST by waonkon

The year was 1637…..700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe, gathered for their “Annual Green Corn Dance” in the area that is now known as Groton, Conn.

While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercernaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building.

The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared : “A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.

For the next 100 years, every “Thanksgiving Day” ordained by a Governor or President was to honor that victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.

Source: Documents of Holland, 13 Volume Colonial Documentary. History, letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the King in England and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, Britsh Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years.

Researched by William B. Newell (Penobscot Tribe)
Former Chairman of the University of Connecticut Anthropology Department.

It’s all that O.J. has left

The story is simply too bizarre. Acquitted of Nicole Brown’s murder, but later found liable for still-uncollected civil damages, O.J. Simpson has confessed, sort of.

I don’t even want to get in to whether or not he actually did it. According to the BBC, “Judith Regan, publisher of ReganBooks, owned by Mr [Rupert] Murdoch’s News Corp, had said she considered the book [If I Did It] Mr Simpson’s confession.”

Murdoch’s media companies were to publish the book and air a television program by the same name, inspiring Debra J. Dickerson to offer this advice in Salon to O.J.: “Better late than never. O.J. — take a powder. Like anthrax. Spare your kids, spare the victims’ families, spare the planet, and embrace the only remaining act of decency left to a human hemorrhoid like you. Leave. Given the living hell that must be your life — and though this is a minor, minor benny — spare yourself the agony of facing that monster in the mirror every day. For once, be a man. Drive into a tree. OD on the suitcase full of psych meds you must be taking. Slit your bloodstained wrists. Drink hemlock. Gouge your eyes out with your Heisman or choke down a “Naked Gun” DVD. Just do the species a favor and go claim that seat Udai and Qusay are saving for you.”

I also don’t want to get into how, according to the BBC, the criminal trial outcome “divided US opinion along racial lines, with most white people feeling that justice had not been done.” African-Americans, I imagine, might remember all too well the lynchings that all too often and all too recently resulted from any relationships between black men and white women, but rarely if ever from relationships between white men and black women.

Dickerson asks, “How did a no-brainer ‘husband kills wife, innocent bystander’ murder become a Rorschach for all of America’s unresolved quandaries of race, gender, socioeconomic status, celebrity and, most of all, justice? Whites blamed blacks for being either too stupid or too primitively tribal to deserve (or understand) jury duty, blacks were so determined to get even with whitey that they demanded and celebrated the acquittal of a vicious double murderer, and the police were so used to framing even the guilty that they don’t even bother to do it well anymore.”

Polls taken following the verdict through 1997 continued to show strong African-American support for O.J., while whites increasingly distrusted the verdict.

And I sure don’t want to get into how this trial attracted much more attention than it deserved, only because of celebrity status, or how O.J. got off because he could afford top-caliber legal help. “If it [the glove] doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” lead O.J. Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran famously pleaded.

Here’s the part where I agree with Dickerson: “Like the painful clarity that comes the morning after a bad, bad night of drinking, one would imagine that America would have long since been too ashamed of its revealing O.J. behavior to have an appetite for more. And yet here we are, and it comes rushing back.”

Why are we listening to Henry Kissinger anyway?

According to the Associated Press, Henry Kissinger told the BBC, “If you mean by ‘military victory’ an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don’t believe that is possible.”

He might be right. But the man known for introducing realpolitik to the Nixon White House was decidedly cynical in his support for U.S. crimes against humanity in southeast Asia. He supported the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and is wanted for questioning by officials in several countries for his role in war crimes in South America.

But for some reason, this war criminal has credibility meriting widespread coverage of his assessment of the situation in Iraq. Why?

The Secret

The claim goes that “great thinkers” (curiously, all men) throughout history have known “The Secret.” It is “The Secret” to whatever you want, riches, fame, whatever. “Like attracts Like,” they claim, calling it the “Law of Attraction.” And of course, everyone, everywhere is bound by this Law.

Sound familiar? It should.

Protestants viewed wealth and success as their god’s reward for hard work. Conservatives ignore mountains of sociological evidence that the vast majority of wealth is inherited to assume that wealth is a reward for merit, a combination of hard work and talent; therefore the rich deserve their money.

It is all a scam for persuading the poor to accept their condition. You are poor because you haven’t worked hard enough, or you haven’t the talent, or, with “The Secret,” you don’t think the right way. It has nothing to do with socioeconomic class (which sociologists think may be the American equivalent of apartheid), corporate welfare, tax breaks for the rich, control of resources, globalization, “downsizing,” or the export of jobs.

Dress it all up as “new age” and bliss out. Ignore the rich, let them carry on, starting all these wars, messing up the environment, and devaluing the work of workers. Just bliss out. You’ll get your reward (in heaven, perhaps?). That is “The Secret.”

No more excuses

Democrat Jim Webb has claimed victory in Virginia. If he’s right, Democrats will have gained majority control of the Senate as well as the House of Representatives. There is some question, as his margin amounts to 0.3%. And the vote is close enough that Republicans might ask for a recall.

With control of both houses of Congress, Democrats would have no more excuses for their policy of appeasement toward the Republicans. If they really represent progressives, rather than just pander for their votes, we should see a cut-off of further funding funding for the adventure in Iraq. We should see serious investigations of White House abuses. And there should be absolutely no further concessions on civil liberties. We should see serious pushes, forcing Bush vetoes or concessions, on economic and environmental issues. We should see a push to repeal all the laws infringing civil liberties that have passed under this administration. We should absolutely see a push for impeachment.

There are lots of other things I’d like to see too. But those would be far too much to expect of the Democrats, who are, after all, really just another group of elites competing for power in what is really a one-party system.

Bad day for the T1

It’s been a bad day for Internet access here at Lupin Lodge. The T1 has been up and down most of the day; the problem appears to be in the final “mile” of the connection, which means we are waiting for Verizon to figure it out. This, of course, means also that all my sites have been up only intermittently and mail is taking longer to get through.


As Republicans face a serious threat to their control of Congress, this has been a wild run-up to the election. The advocacy group, Media Matters for America has protested the attention given to Kerry’s “botched joke” in which he probably meant to suggest that poor scholarship (on the part of George Bush) led us to being stuck in Iraq. But the Mark Foley scandal has also hurt the Republicans, and an unending war in Iraq seems to call for different ideas.

But I cannot endorse the Democrats in this election. They have collaborated with the Republicans in the erosion of civil rights and in our continued involvement in Iraq. Historically, they’ve been as imperialist as anyone. And I am unpersuaded that their appeal to progressives is anything more than an effort to galvanize a group that has few substantial alternatives.

The lack of substantial alternatives, however, is not what persuaded me to register with the Peace and Freedom Party. It was a sickening realization that the Democrats are not an alternative to the Republicans, that they have, on the whole, continued a slide to the right that has led some on occasion to refer to them as Republican-lites. We have, as too many have observed, in fact a one-party state with slightly different groups of elites competing for power.

Here is how I intend to vote:

Janice Jordan for Governor. She is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Stewart A. Alexander for Lieutenant Governor. He is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Margie Akin for Secretary of State. She is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Elizabeth Cervantes Barron for Controller. She is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Gerald Sanders for Treasurer. He is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Jack Harrison for Attorney General. He is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Tom Condit for Insurance Commissioner. He is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Marsha Feinland for United States Senator. She is the Peace and Freedom candidate. Dianne Feinstein’s positions on the issues have simply been too far to the right for me.

David Campbell for Member, State Board of Equalization, District 1. He is the Peace and Freedom candidate.

Mike Honda for United States Representative, District 15. There is no Peace and Freedom or any alternative party candidate listed for this district. Honda has responded favorably on many issues and has a 96% lifetime score from the ACLU.

Ira Ruskin for Member of the State Assembly, District 21. This is primarily in opposition to his opponent, Virginia Chang Kiraly, who describes herself as “liv[ing] the American Dream everyday” and as having “worked at some of the nation’s leading financial institutions.” She is clearly anti-union.

No choices or statements are offered in the Voter Information Guide for a series of judicial candidates: Yes for Joyce L. Kennard for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; No for Carol A. Corrigan for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, who switched to the Republican Party; Yes for Conrad L. Rushing for Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, 6th Appellate District; Yes for Nathan D. Mihara for Associate Justice, Court of Appeal, 6th Appellate District; No for Richard J. McAdams for Associate Justice, Court of Appeal, 6th Appellate District; and Yes on Wendy Clark Duffy for Associate Justice, Court of Appeal, 6th Appellate District, who seems to have ruled appropriately in a few prominent cases.

Michele McKay McCoy for Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 13. Both candidates in this race emphasize toughness on crime, but Tim Pitsker’s statement reveals a conservative bias. McCoy “teach[es] criminal law to police officers, law school students, and college students” and at least acknowledges a need for ethics.

Charlie Ahern for Member, Board of Education, Trustee Area 2. He is unopposed but expresses concern for “struggling children” and an awareness of social problems.

Jack Lucas for Governing Board Member, West Valley-Mission Community College District, Trustee Area 1. Only two candidates in this race actually have statements published in the Voter Information Pamphlet; both seem truly deplorable. One of Lucas’ fellow contestants, John Feemster seems to think that his “experience overseeing six General Electric power plants” has any relevance whatsoever to running an academic environment. At least Lucas, as an incumbent, is unlikely to make things worse. David Montagna seems to rely on a combination of community service and real estate work in his qualifications. I have found nothing of significance on Don A. Cordero, who lists his occupation as a college professor.

Buck Polk for Governing Board Member, West Valley-Mission Community College District, Trustee Area 2. His lackluster statement includes a claim to “a M.A. in Secondary School Administration from Stanford University.” His opponent, Mark Little has no statement published in the Voter Information Pamphlet and I was unable to find anything of significance on him.

Cynthia Chang, Steven Patrick Kahl, and Michele Van Zuiden for Governing Board Members, Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District.

Karyn Sinunu for District Attorney. Her opponent, Dolores Carr, seems entirely too cozy with the law enforcement establishment.

Astonishingly, both candidates for Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District, District 1, have strong statements in the Voter Information Pamphlet. Rosemary Kamei is the incumbent. Ram Singh seems really to be whining about increased costs, rates, and taxes. I’m choosing Kamei.

No on Proposition 1A, which would further complicate the state budget process, apparently preferring an attempt to accommodate an increasingly unsustainable growth in automobile traffic.

Yes on Proposition 1B, which will fund numerous transportation projects, including mass transit.

Yes on Proposition 1C, which will attempt to address housing issues.

Yes on Proposition 1D, which will attempt to address school, college, and university building problems.

Yes on Proposition 1E for flood control projects.

No on Proposition 83, which seems to capitalize on sexual hysteria.

Yes on Proposition 84 for water quality and flood control.

No on Proposition 85, which would limit and delay access to abortion for minors.

Yes on Proposition 86 to make assault (second-hand smoke) more expensive.

Yes on Proposition 87 for alternative energy.

Yes on Proposition 88 for education.

Yes on Proposition 89 to try to reduce the influence of money in campaigns. There may be a problem in that it would only provide smaller amounts of funding to “minor” party candidates.

No on Proposition 90, which appears to favor private property rights over those of the community.

Yes on Proposition A to ensure that people have a say in zoning.

The greatest danger to world peace

The Guardian reports on a survey of Britain, Canada, Mexico, and Israel showing respondents consider George W. Bush a greater threat to world peace than North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il. Only Israelis consider the invasion of Iraq justified; in the other countries, significant majorities believe it unjustified.

Mr Bush is ranked with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety. He is outranked by Osama bin Laden in all four countries, but runs the al-Qaida leader close in the eyes of UK voters: 87% think the al-Qaida leader is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared with 75% who think this of Mr Bush.