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Health Care & Environment

11.18 How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet

11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]

11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

News Media Matters

11.19 The Biggest Threat to Free Speech No One Is Talking About

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]

11.19 Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid

11.19 Trump’s Diminishing Power and Rising Rage

11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder

11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]

11.19 SNL explains Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s HQ2 strategy: trolling President Trump [2:55 SNL video]

11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]

11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]

11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]

11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]

11.17 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare

11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 Trump Is Starting to Panic

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]

11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]

11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

International & Futurism

11.18 New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit

11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]

11.17 Saudi crown prince's 'fit' delays UN resolution on war in Yemen

11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]

11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

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  Death of the Republic, Part CLXVIII
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Death of the Republic, Part CLXVIII

by Chris Floyd
Monday, 1 June 2009

What kind of country passes a "Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009"? Why, a cheap, corrupt, third-rate junta state, which has elevated war and militarism into its supreme value, its "ultimate concern," its divinity -- that's what kind of country.

Glenn Greenwald, among others, is enraged at Barack Obama's eager embrace of the latest disgorgement of third-rate juntaism to belch forth from the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress: the "Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009," sponsored by those ever-stalwart champions of liberty, Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. As Greenwald describes it:

[The bill] literally has no purpose other than to allow the government to suppress any "photograph taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States."  As long as the Defense Secretary certifies -- with no review possible -- that disclosure would "endanger" American citizens or our troops, then the photographs can be suppressed even if [the Freedom of Information Act] requires disclosure...What kind of a country passes a law that has no purpose other than to empower its leader to suppress evidence of the torture it inflicted on people?  Read the language of the bill; it doesn't even hide the fact that its only objective is to empower the President to conceal evidence of war crimes.

What kind of country passes such a law? Why, a cheap, corrupt, third-rate junta state, which has elevated war and militarism into its supreme value, its "ultimate concern," its divinity -- that's what kind of country. What other kind of country did you think was skulking there between Mexico and Canada these days?

Buddies: Obama and Bush

But the perniciousness of the act doesn't lie merely in its immediate goal -- suppressing war crimes evidence to protect the Terror War machinery that Obama has inherited and is expanding. After all, Obama has been working overtime from the beginning to suppress war crimes evidence against his predecessor, whom he treats more and more as a revered elder, not the despised leader of a discredited faction. No, it is, as they say, the principle of the thing: the enshrinement in law of the notion that anything that could be construed as "harmful" to American troops and operatives abroad -- or even the sad sacks back home -- can be suppressed by the government.

Adopting the principle of potential "endangerment" as a justification for government repression is not just an open door to tyranny -- it kicks the door down and brings the rest of the front wall crashing with it. But of course, that edifice crumbled a long time ago. The only thing remotely surprising about this latest Banana Republic Act is that is so blatant in its gutless abandonment of even the slightest pretense that the United States is anything other than a militarist empire. And yet so many people -- including Greenwald at times -- continue to praise the new imperial manager whenever he makes a "good decision" or implements a "good policy" -- presumably with the idea that you can tame or train the president by rewarding him for good deeds and sternly admonishing him when he does wrong.

But almost every leader in history has made some "good decisions" or implemented some "good policies" in one respect or another, even in the worst regimes. For example, both the Nazis and the Stalinists provided unprecedented programs of recreation and self-improvement for ordinary, long-denigrated, long-ignored workers. Hitler designed and promoted one of the world's most efficient and affordable cars, which after the war provided millions of ordinary people with new freedom and mobility. Soviet communism brought literacy, electricity, education and modernity to millions of people mired in a brutal, brutish existence. Saddam Hussein's Iraq did much the same.

It is very easy to pick through the record of any leader in any system and find things worthy of praise. But when the system itself is pernicious, when by its very nature it produces terrible evils on a vast scale -- as, for example, a militarist empire is bound to do -- then such praise, however piecemeal, hedged or nuanced, becomes a kind of unwitting support, or justification, or legitimization of the system.

And the system we are dealing with here is not a constitutional republic -- one gone awry, perhaps, but still a basically sound system that can be put to rights with the proper behavior training of its leaders. No; what we have here is a militarist empire: devoted to war, driven by war and by the constant exercise and growth of authoritarian power that every state of war (and state at war) produces. It seems to me that the best reaction to such a system is the one offered by Thoreau, and quoted many times here before:

"How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it."

The Graham-Lieberman War Crimes Shielding Act is just one more disgrace in a long train. Or as we said here in February 2008, when -- with Barack Obama's help -- the Democratic-controlled Senate voted to uphold Bush's illegal domestic spying program and immunize the corporations that helped carry it out: If the Republic Had not Died Long Ago, This Would Indeed Be the Death of the Republic:

We've been mourning the death of the American Republic here (and at other venues) for many years now, since Congress surrendered its Constitutional responsibilities  with the "Enabling Act" it passed on September 14, 2001, giving Bush a blank check for "all necessary and appropriate force" against any organization or individual that he alone declared was somehow connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. Three days later, Bush then declared that he had the right to kill anyone on earth anytime he felt like it and there wasn't a damn thing anyone could do about it. The many, many outrages that have followed -- the gulag, the torture program, the Hitlerian war crime in Iraq, the  Military Commissions Act (which stripped away the ancient right of habeas corpus and also officially enshrined the concept of the "unitary executive"/presidential dictatorship into law), right down to Tuesday's vote to "legitimize" Bush's illegal keyhole-peeping and the corporate criminals who abetted it -- have simply been further confirmations of the Republic's moribund state. Bush and the Democrats have been abusing the corpse over and over, like the sick and degraded moral perverts that they are.

I don't know what will come next. I don't know if the United States can crawl out of the filthy pit of empire and tyranny over the next few decades and claw its way toward some new manifestation of democracy -- or if it will just keep sinking, raging, rotting, mutating further into a war-and-torture state that must feed constantly on human flesh to survive... But whatever will be, one thing is certain now: the constitutional republic of the United States is a dead letter, a relic of history.

And nothing that happens in November -- when one imperial factotum or another gets their turn at the top of the greasy pole -- will change that basic fact. The Freedom Road is a long road -- and we're still a long way from taking even our first steps on that journey.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



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This story was published on June 2, 2009.

 



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