Topics on the show included (and beware the list… it’s a doozy [but you'll learn lots])…
A Palin Theocracy?
Marjorie Cohn | September 11, 2008
John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate has invigorated a lackluster campaign. The media can’t stop talking about her. Given McCain’s age and state of health (his medical file was nearly 1,200 pages long), Palin would indeed be a heartbeat away from becoming President. But what would a Palin administration really look like?
Palin is a radical right-wing fundamentalist Christian who would love to create a theocracy. She believes we are living in the “end times” which will result in a bloody inferno from which only true Christians will be saved. Palin recently attended a service in her Wasilla Bible Church run by David Brickner, who runs Jews for Jesus, a group the Anti-Defamation League criticizes for its “aggressive and deceptive” proselytizing of Jews. Those who don’t accept Jesus as their savior will burn in Hell, according to Palin’s brand of theology.
Worshiping the Indispensable Nation
Tom Engelhardt and Andrew Bacevich | September 10, 2008
Can anyone be surprised that, once again, the attacks of 9/11/01 were reflexively ground zero for embattled Republicans? George W. Bush led the way at the Republican National Convention, saying of John McCain, “We need a president who understands the lessons of September 11, 2001.” In his convention keynote address, Rudy Giuliani followed suit, zapping Obama and his supporters this way: “The Democrats rarely mentioned the attacks of September 11. They are in a state of denial about the threat that faces us now and in the future.” Post-convention, it’s evidently time to assure the nation that Sarah Palin is just the pit bull to handle the next 9/11. Now comes the news that this Thursday, the endless presidential election campaign will finally make it – quite literally – to Ground Zero. Barack Obama and John McCain will “put aside politics” and appear together for the yearly ceremonies. By now, however, it’s far too late to “put aside” 9/11, no less remove it from American politics. Our world has been profoundly reshaped, after all, by the decisions Bush and his top officials made in the wake of those attacks.
Still, taking up the President’s implied question, what “lessons” exactly should be drawn, seven years later, other than that you stand a reasonable chance of winning elections by invoking 9/11 ad nauseum? As Andrew Bacevich, author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, indicates below, there are indeed lessons to be drawn. They are, in fact, devastating to the Bush administration, and unless they are grasped, further disaster is undoubtedly in the offing. (To watch a video of Bacevich discussing those post-9/11 lessons, click here.) ~ Tom
9/11 Plus Seven
By Andrew J. Bacevich
The events of the past seven years have yielded a definitive judgment on the strategy that the Bush administration conceived in the wake of 9/11 to wage its so-called Global War on Terror. That strategy has failed, massively and irrevocably. To acknowledge that failure is to confront an urgent national priority: to scrap the Bush approach in favor of a new national security strategy that is realistic and sustainable – a task that, alas, neither of the presidential candidates seems able to recognize or willing to take up.
On September 30, 2001, President Bush received from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a memorandum outlining U.S. objectives in the War on Terror. Drafted by Rumsfeld’s chief strategist Douglas Feith, the memo declared expansively: “If the war does not significantly change the world’s political map, the U.S. will not achieve its aim.” That aim, as Feith explained in a subsequent missive to his boss, was to “transform the Middle East and the broader world of Islam generally.”
Rumsfeld and Feith were co-religionists: Along with other senior Bush administration officials, they worshipped in the Church of the Indispensable Nation, a small but intensely devout Washington-based sect formed in the immediate wake of the Cold War. Members of this church shared an exalted appreciation for the efficacy of American power, especially hard power. The strategy of transformation emerged as a direct expression of their faith.
The members of this church were also united by an equally exalted estimation of their own abilities. Lucky the nation to be blessed with such savvy and sophisticated public servants in its hour of need!
The goal of transforming the Islamic world was nothing if not bold. It implied far-reaching political, economic, social, and even cultural adjustments. At a press conference on September 18, 2001, Rumsfeld spoke bluntly of the need to “change the way that they live.” Rumsfeld didn’t specify who “they” were. He didn’t have to. His listeners understood without being told: “They” were Muslims inhabiting a vast arc of territory that stretched from Morocco in the west all the way to the Moro territories of the Southern Philippines in the east.
Yet boldly conceived action, if successfully executed, offered the prospect of solving a host of problems. Once pacified (or “liberated”), the Middle East would cease to breed or harbor anti-American terrorists. Post-9/11 fears about weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of evil-doers could abate. Local regimes, notorious for being venal, oppressive, and inept, might finally get serious about cleaning up their acts. Liberal values, including rights for women, would flourish. A part of the world perpetually dogged by violence would enjoy a measure of stability, with stability promising not so incidentally to facilitate exploitation of the region’s oil reserves. There was even the possibility of enhancing the security of Israel. Like a powerful antibiotic, the Bush administration’s strategy of transformation promised to clean out not simply a single infection but several; or to switch metaphors, a strategy of transformation meant running the table.
When it came to implementation, the imperative of the moment was to think big. Just days after 9/11, Rumsfeld was charging his subordinates to devise a plan of action that had “three, four, five moves behind it.” By December 2001, the Pentagon had persuaded itself that the first move – into Afghanistan – had met success. The Bush administration wasted little time in pocketing its ostensible victory. Attention quickly shifted to the second move, seen by insiders as holding the key to ultimate success: Iraq.
Fix Iraq and moves three, four, and five promised to come easily. Writing in the Weekly Standard, William Kristol and Robert Kagan got it exactly right: “The president’s vision will, in the coming months, either be launched successfully in Iraq, or it will die in Iraq.”
The point cannot be emphasized too strongly: Saddam Hussein’s (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction and his (imaginary) ties to Al Qaeda never constituted the real reason for invading Iraq – any more than the imperative of defending Russian “peacekeepers” in South Ossetia explains the Kremlin’s decision to invade Georgia.
Iraq merely offered a convenient place from which to launch a much larger and infinitely more ambitious project. “After Hussein is removed,” enthused Hudson Institute analyst Max Singer, “there will be an earthquake through the region.” Success in Iraq promised to endow the United States with hitherto unprecedented leverage. Once the United States had made an example of Saddam Hussein, as the influential neoconservative Richard Perle put it, dealing with other ne’er-do-wells would become simple: “We could deliver a short message, a two-word message: ‘You’re next.’” Faced with the prospect of sharing Saddam’s fate, Syrians, Iranians, Sudanese, and other recalcitrant regimes would see submission as the wiser course – so Perle and others believed.
Members of the administration tried to imbue this strategic vision with a softer ideological gloss. “For 60 years,” Condoleezza Rice explained to a group of students in Cairo, “my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East – and we achieved neither.” No more. “Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.” The world’s Muslims needed to know that the motives behind the U.S. incursion into Iraq and its actions elsewhere in the region were (or had, at least, suddenly become) entirely benign. Who knows? Rice may even have believed the words she spoke.
In either case – whether the strategy of transformation aimed at dominion or democratization – today, seven years after it was conceived, we can assess exactly what it has produced. The answer is clear: next to nothing, apart from squandering vast resources and exacerbating the slide toward debt and dependency that poses a greater strategic threat to the United States than Osama bin Laden ever did.
In point of fact, hardly had the Pentagon commenced its second move, its invasion of Iraq, when the entire strategy began to unravel. In Iraq, President Bush’s vision of regional transformation did die, much as Kagan and Kristol had feared. No amount of CPR credited to the so-called surge will revive it. Even if tomorrow Iraq were to achieve stability and become a responsible member of the international community, no sensible person could suggest that Operation Iraqi Freedom provides a model to apply elsewhere. Senator John McCain says that he’ll keep U.S. combat troops in Iraq for as long as it takes. Yet even he does not propose “solving” any problems posed by Syria or Iran (much less Pakistan) by employing the methods that the Bush administration used to “solve” the problem posed by Iraq. The Bush Doctrine of preventive war may remain nominally on the books. But, as a practical matter, it is defunct.
The United States will not change the world’s political map in the ways top administration officials once dreamed of. There will be no earthquake that shakes up the Middle East – unless the growing clout of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas in recent years qualifies as that earthquake. Given the Pentagon’s existing commitments, there will be no threats of “you’re next” either – at least none that will worry our adversaries, as the Russians have neatly demonstrated. Nor will there be a wave of democratic reform – even Rice has ceased her prattling on that score. Islam will remain stubbornly resistant to change, except on terms of its own choosing. We will not change the way “they” live.
In a book that he co-authored during the run-up to the invasion, Kristol confidently declared, “The mission begins in Baghdad, but it does not end there.” In fact, the Bush administration’s strategy of transformation has ended. It has failed miserably. The sooner we face up to that failure, the sooner we can get about repairing the damage.
Scientology fights critics with 4,000 DMCA takedown notices
Nate Anderson | September 8, 2008
A huge trove of critical videos of Scientology was targeted for takedown late last week by a group called American Rights Counsel. The group sent more than 4,000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube and claimed that every video infringed on its copyrights, according to the EFF.
Those who take on the notoriously litigious “church” of Scientology—including groups like “Anonymous”—know what they’re up against and are willing to take action to keep their messages up. It appears that most of the pulled content has been reinstated already after the various uploaders filed DMCA counter-notices asserting that the videos in question did not infringe copyright.
How Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroying America
Terrence McNally | August 15, 2008.
“It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.” Barack Obama finally said it.
Though a successful political and electoral strategy, the Right’s stand against intelligence has steered them far off course, leaving them — and us — unable to deal successfully with the complex and dynamic circumstances we face as a nation and a society.
Why Does The Illuminati Eye Infest Christian Churches?
Paul Joseph Watson | August 6, 2008
During a visit to a breathtaking, beautiful and ornate Christian cathedral in Lucerne, Switzerland last week, I was taken aback by the sight of something that seemed completely out of context and out of place – a baleful and evil-looking Illuminati eye staring out over a representation of the crucified Jesus. Why do similar depictions infest Christian churches the world over?
The Church of St. Leodegar, popularly called the Hofkirche, in the bustling town of Lucerne in northern Switzerland, was originally built in 735 and the present structure was erected in 1633 in the late Renaissance style. The cathedral’s distinctive twin needles were part of the original structure.
The church is opulently decorated with awe-inspiring golden statues and vibrant paintings depicting stories from the bible.
Knights Templar heirs in legal battle with the Pope
The heirs of the Knights Templar have launched a legal battle in Spain to force the Pope to restore the reputation of the disgraced order which was accused of heresy and dissolved seven centuries ago.
Fiona Govan | August 4, 2008
The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ, whose members claim to be descended from the legendary crusaders, have filed a lawsuit against Benedict XVI calling for him to recognise the seizure of assets worth 100 billion euros (£79 billion).
They claim that when the order was dissolved by his predecessor Pope Clement V in 1307, more than 9,000 properties as well as countless pastures, mills and other commercial ventures belonging to the knights were appropriated by the church.
But their motive is not to reclaim damages only to restore the “good name” of the Knights Templar.
Power brokers due at Bohemian Grove
Annual encampment to start Friday, sans protests
Mary Callahan | July 10, 2008
Legions of summer camp-goers spreading out around Sonoma County will be joined this weekend by some of the nation’s most powerful campers as the annual two-week encampment at the Bohemian Grove opens Friday night.
The super-secret Bohemian Club and its guests meet each summer in the 2,700-acre Monte Rio grove for what they say is fellowship and good-natured high-jinx — a break from the grueling grind of leadership.
But critics, who until recent years mounted protests outside its gates, say the gatherings serve as strategy sessions for a New World Order operating outside democratic institutions.
Bush, McCain & Obama To Visit Bohemian Grove?
Paul Joseph Watson | July 11, 2008
Outgoing President George W. Bush and both of his presumptive replacements John McCain and Barack Obama are rumored to be in attendance at this year’s Bohemian Grove gathering, an annual get-together of the global elite staged inside a sprawling forest encampment which kicks off tonight and runs until July 27.
Bohemian Grove is a 136-year-old all-male encampment complete with restaurants, bars, stages and lodges, which caters to around 2,000 members of the global elite along with Californian hoi polloi on a yearly basis in July. The camp is set within a 2,700 acre secluded forest replete with giant redwood trees.
Former attendees include Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, who both went on to become President, as well as regulars like Henry Kissinger, Alan Greenspan, David Rockefeller, Colin Powell, as well as George W. Bush and his father.
Secrets of a powerful Family
Ian Munro | June 14, 2008
FROM Barack Obama’s incendiary pastor, to Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, to Mike Huckabee’s southern Baptist roots, religion is the constant in America’s choosing of a president. Racism, sexism, health policy, the economy and Iraq have had their moments, but religion renews itself with every fresh controversy.
Even John McCain, relatively secure as presumed Republican candidate, has jettisoned a preacher whose endorsement became politically untenable.
Yet the most influential and enduring religious force in the country – elitist Christian fundamentalism – is mostly unsighted and rarely remarked upon, according to writer Jeff Sharlet.
Scientology founder: “Christ was an alien mind control implant.” Secret cult recording leaked.
L.T. Catnarok | June 11, 2008
A “classified” Scientology cult recording of founder L. Ron Hubbard from Oct 3, 1968 has been leaked to Wikileaks. Contrary to public Scientology statements about the compatibility of Scientology and Christianity, the recording shows that Scientologists believe that, “There was no Christ” and that the stories of Christ are alien mind implants.
Global Thought Police: New Testament is Hate Speech
Rev. Ted Pike | May 10, 2008
The State Department “Office of Global Anti-Semitism” says the New Testament claim that the Jews had Christ crucified is “classical anti-Semitism”—a historic form of hate. It included as an “anti-Semitic incident” the case of a Polish priest who said Jews killed Christ.
Are you one of tens of millions of Christians who agree with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ that Jewish leaders incited a Jewish mob and persuaded Pilate to have Christ crucified? The government now considers you “anti-Semitic.” You are part of a worldwide scourge the U.S., Canada, Australia, and 55 European nations are uniting to suppress.
Christianity in Eclipse
Laurence M. Vance | May 6, 2008
The Christian’s attitude toward the state, its leaders, its military, its wars, its imperialism, and its interventionism should be a no-brainer: contempt, disdain, disgust, revulsion, abhorrence, repugnance, loathing – take your pick. Yet, among Christians one continues to find some of the greatest apologists for the state, its leaders, its institutions, and its evil doings.