Democracy has been taken for granted at a time when it is most endangered. Neo-Conservatives are organized to replace it with oligarchy, to replace consent for the rule of law with fascistic allegiance to the executive branch disguised as "patriotism." As a team made up of a political philosopher and a writer, we consider otherwise repressed information from a critical perspective in the hope of elevating the quality of our political dialogue so that it is worthy of a truly democratic society.

Sunday, November 30, 2003


Okay, the story (listed below from the Washington Post) is that the White House is organizing the publicly-funded government information venue - C-Span, to bypass the "filter" of a hostile media industry that "only reports the BAD news about the War in Iraq." The station, "C-Span Baghdad" is a possible violation of the Smith-Mund act by raising the spectre of a domestic market for US propaganda, which the act is designed to protect against. US propaganda brought back home would create what is known as "black journalism" and undermine the legitimacy of the state - in other words, it's unconstitutional.

Equally disturbing, one wonders how it will blur the distinction between "feed" and the increasing limitations on access to information. The ideational distinction between the principles of political jurisprudence and outright plutocracy is less and less clear.

Here is the report from The Washington Post:

Pentagon Plans Iraq Channel
Satellite Link Allows White House to Bypass TV Networks

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 15, 2003; Page A17

In an escalation of White House efforts to circumvent what President Bush calls the news media "filter," the Pentagon plans to launch a 24-hour satellite channel from Baghdad to make it easier for U.S. television stations to air government-authorized news about Iraq.

The satellite link, dubbed "C-SPAN Baghdad" within the administration, is to go on the air in a week or two. It begins at a time when guerrilla violence in Iraq is increasing and the White House is revising and accelerating plans to transfer governing authority to Iraqis.

Administration officials assert that U.S. news organizations have emphasized violence and setbacks in occupied Iraq while playing down progress. The officials say the satellite capability is designed to help local stations interview U.S. authorities in Iraq and offer live coverage of military ceremonies and briefings relevant to their geographic areas.

The channel is the most aggressive yet of several administration efforts to bypass national news organizations, including a succession of interviews for local television stations with Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others.

One Republican strategist expressed skepticism about the project, saying it appeared to be an effort "to improve public opinion back home" before Bush's reelection campaign gets fully underway.

The officials said the channel will offer uncut coverage of government briefings and other events, and they plan to notify U.S. stations when an enlisted person, general, official or business from their area is participating. The project, they said, would have the effect of cutting the broadcast networks out of news transactions between the administration and affiliate stations.

"We want the stations to show not just the shocking picture but the whole picture," said a senior administration official who refused to be named. "Car bombs are news, but there's a journalistic responsibility to paint a more comprehensive picture."

White House communications director Dan Bartlett said a shortage of reliable satellite conduits from Iraq "often makes it difficult for people to follow briefings and the progress that's being made."

"The better technology will make it easier for reporters from news organizations, big or small, to cover the story as it unfolds," Bartlett said. "News organizations will still make the decision whether to use it or not. That's not control. It's access many reporters currently don't get because they are back in the United States."

The project is being headed by J. Dorrance Smith, who was assistant to the president for media affairs in George H.W. Bush's administration and advised the younger Bush on his Florida recount strategy in 2000. Smith was a longtime executive for ABC News, producing Olympics and political convention coverage and serving as executive producer of "This Week With David Brinkley" and "Nightline."

Smith has been working in Iraq since September as an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, headed by L. Paul Bremer. Officials said Smith's mission is to promote what the administration considers to be a more realistic picture of events.

The new channel was first reported by the New York Observer, which quoted Smith as saying that removing the network intermediaries would help prevent news conferences and other events from "getting chopped up in New York."

The administration officials said they will make the satellite coordinates of the transmissions widely available so that stations, government offices and conservative interest groups can pick up the coverage at will. The events also could be picked up by cable and broadcast networks.

Dave Busiek, news director of KCCI, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, said local TV journalists will be "cautious about this new approach, particularly if there's a widespread feeling that the government is trying to go around the networks."

"Part of the argument is that those of us in local TV ask softball questions and aren't skilled enough to separate the real news from the pure spin," he said. "It's pretty insulting. That being said, if I could have a live interview with Ambassador Bremer, for instance, in my 6 o'clock newscast, that's a tempting possibility and I have no doubt it would be valuable for our viewers."

Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, said several local stations have aired stories about the bleak conditions being endured by military families, and she said administration officials might find themselves answering tough questions.

But many stations with large military bases in their areas cannot afford to send a reporter to Baghdad, she said, and would have "tremendous interest" in interviews with local people in the armed services.

The channel is starting amid changes in the administration's communications team. Tucker A. Eskew, director of the White House Office of Global Communications, told officials yesterday he will leave on Dec. 7. He plans to open a consulting firm and serve as a senior adviser to Bush's campaign.

Margaret Tutwiler, who was Bush's ambassador to Morocco, is awaiting Senate confirmation as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs; she is expected to start work this month. Sources said she plans to focus on the Middle East, beginning with an assessment of the audience the United States will try to reach and ways to measure the impact of programs.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

From THE NATION online

Isn't it interesting that a few small percentage points here and there--third- quarter GDP showed an annual growth rate of 8.2 percent and monthly unemployment dropped from 6.1 percent to 6 percent--produces such euphoria about the country's economic upturn?

Before trumpeting this "boom," the Bush Administration and its crony pundits should pay attention to the real state of the economy--where nine million people are out of work, wages and salaries are stagnant or down, health care costs have increased to staggering double digit rates, retirement savings have been ravaged by the stock market crash, school budgets are taking severe hits, tuitions at public universities are soaring and personal bankruptcies are at an all-time high.

Headlines like "Bloom is on the Economy," (The New York Times, 11/8) or "Tough Times Over?" (Washington Post, 11/9) seem foolish, even mean-spirited, when families, communities and whole states are struggling to survive. Consider that in Bush's home state of Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle, 54,000 children have been dropped from the federal-state health insurance program due to budget cuts. Texas, and other states, are also cutting back on subsidies for healthcare, further increasing the number of people with no coverage--now conservatively estimated at 43 million, with their numbers rapidly increasing. And paying for health insurance is becoming a problem for more than just people living on low or fixed-incomes, with many hospitals and neighborhood clinics saying that middle- class people are now joining the poor in seeking their care.

There are more Americans living in poverty now than there were in 1965. Over thirteen million of them are children. (The US has the worst child poverty rate of all the world's industrialized countries.) Last year alone, another 1.7 million Americans slipped below the poverty line, bringing the total to 34.6 million, one in eight of the population, and up from 31.6 million in 2000. (See "Economic Fault Lines in America's States," AFL- CIO report).

And as Trudy Lieberman reported in our pages, the ranks of the hungry are also increasing. About 31 million are now considered to be "food insecure" (they literally do not know where their next meal is coming from.) Hunger is an epidemic in Ohio where, since Bush won there in the 2000 election, the state has lost one in six manufacturing jobs. And two million of the state's 11 million people used food charities last year, an increase of more than 18 percent from 2001. ("Long Queue at Drive-In Soup Kitchen," The Guardian, Julian Borger, November 3)

Economic realities on Main Street, not Wall Street haven't stopped the White House from trumpeting "mission accomplished" when it comes to our supposed economic recovery. Nor has it stopped the Administration's hucksters at the Heritage Foundation from using faulty numbers to "prove" that the Administration's tax cuts are working.

But, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the passage of the most recent round of tax cuts should have led to an economy that produces 306,000 jobs each month. That means that even in the last two months of purportedly "strong economic growth," which produced about 125,000 jobs per month, the economy has produced around 180,000 fewer jobs than the White House promised. And just to keep pace with population growth, the economy would need to produce 140,000 jobs each month.The real "bottom line," taking into account the 3.4 percent gain in population since March 2001, shows that the economy is 6.9 million jobs short of where it would be if payroll levels had remained steady. And, according to Treasury Secretary John Snow's own projection, Bush will end his term with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover in the Great Depression.

"The economic policies of the Bush Administration," economist Jeff Madrick , observes, "have been about as crude and destructive a cocktail of stimulants-- lavish income and estate tax cuts for upper-income Americans, elimination of taxes on dividends, stepped-up military and homeland security spending--as we have ever seen. The result is short-term growth and long-term damage...the administration's policies will weaken the economy over time, fall particularly harshly on its working middle and low-income citizens, and fail to prepare the nation for a century of far more intense global competition."

"The test of our progress," President Franklin Roosevelt said some sixty-six years ago, "is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." But does this current President care that there are tens of millions in this country, many of them children, who have too little? And, if Bush does care, is it conceivable that he believes the best way to feed, clothe, educate and care for them is through tax-cuts whose main purpose is to add to the abundance of the super-rich? We may no longer be the country that Roosevelt saw as one-third "ill-housed, ill- clad, ill-nourished," but, this Thanksgiving in America, we are perilously close.

Bush's Monitoring of Protests Belies His Stated Support for Free Speech

President Bush has expressed repeated support for protestors' rights to express themselves, exclaiming to the Australian parliament in October, "I love free speech."1 But federal law enforcement is showing up at political demonstrations, routinely monitoring such protests for the first time since the 1970's.
Last week, the president responded to interviewer David Frost's question about the protestors expected to greet his presence in London, "Freedom is a beautiful thing, I would first say, and aren't you lucky to be in a country that encourages people to speak their mind. And I value going to a country where people are free to say anything they want to say."2
The New York Times reported Sunday, however, that a weekly bulletin published by the FBI and distributed to local law enforcement included information about organizing tactics of anti-war demonstrators in cities such as Washington and San Francisco. One FBI official was quoted as saying, "We're not concerned with individuals who are exercising their constitutional rights. But it's obvious that there are individuals capable of violence at these events."3
But the memo details and analyzes legal activities, such as using the Internet for fundraising, and tactics used by organizations to recruit demonstrators.4
Indeed, the administration has sent mixed signals on free speech after September 11th. Weeks after the attacks, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that Americans, "need to watch what they say, watch what they do."5 And Attorney General John Ashcroft, came under heavy criticism for saying that critics of the Patriot Act "aid terrorists."6
Reports of the FBI's monitoring have drawn comparisons with the program known as Cointelpro, created during the Cold War and in effect until the 1970's, when the FBI routinely sent agents to infiltrate organizations protesting the Vietnam War.

1. Presidential Speech before Australian Parliament, 10/22/03.
2. Interview with David Frost, BBC, 11/17/03.
3. Ibid.
4. "F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies," The New York Times, 11/23/03, Sec. 1, p. 18.
5. Press Briefing, 9/26/01.
6. "John Ashcroft," Associated Press, 2/26/03.

Administration Grants Restricted Access to President's Intelligence Briefing

Nearly one year after its creation, the 9/11 Independent Commission announced an agreement with the Bush administration Wednesday about access to the Presidential Daily Briefing.1
President Bush, who originally opposed the formation of an independent commission, said at the ceremony signing it into law that the investigation should, "carefully examine all the evidence and follow all the fact [sic], wherever they lead."2 But last month, frustrated by the lack of response by the administration in key areas, Republican Chairman Tom Kean warned the White House that the commission may subpoena the documents it wanted, indicating that no document can be "beyond [the commission's] reach."3
Two days later, the President offered a milder statement of support for the commission's access, saying, "I do want to be helpful to Chairman Kean and [Vice Chairman] Lee Hamilton."4
But the deal struck this week allows the White House to edit the documents before they are released to the commission representatives, and limits the number of commission members who have access to the report.
The specifics of the agreement were not released publicly, but two Democrats on the panel objected to its limitations. Former Congressman, Timothy Roemer, pointed out, "Our members may see only two or three paragraphs out of a nine-page report."5 And former Senator Max Cleland has described the agreement as unconscionable.
The White House had refused for months to grant access to the Presidential Daily Briefing, or PDB, citing security concerns. The commission is required to present its final report on May 27, 2004, which the law states should be "a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks."6

1. "9/11 Panel Reaches Deal On Access To Papers," Washington Post, 11/13/03, p. A01.
2. Presidential Bill Signing, 11/27/02.
3. "9/11 Commission Could Subpoena Oval Office Files," New York Times, 10/26/03.
4. Presidential Press Conference, 10/28/03.
5. "Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit Papers," New York Times, 11/14/03.
6. PL 107-306.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

WR 122 -- Possible Topics for Essay III

Cave - “The Spam Spoils of War”

Explain Cave’s hypothesis that the connection between war and capitalism in the American psyche reveals our methods of understanding and coping with crisis. Then choose one or two of the following options:
A) Examine the range of political messages expressed in 9-11 commodities you were exposed to (i.e. don’t just give examples from the essay). How did the range of messages (or lack of range) assume the character of proxy debate about crisis, security, foreign policy and justice?
B) Explain the use of market to cope with war. Is the market the best way of dealing with such a problem? Compare and contrast advantages and disadvantages. Expand the claim by describing the US fixation on military consumption as a connection between war and capitalism which illuminates our psychology. Is this an effective mechanism for meeting our needs, realizing our interests and solving our problems?

Barber - “Jihad vs. McWorld”

In the video, Barber claimed that Americans see themselves as separate from the rest of the world because they have been solely responsible for their own historical triumphs in ways which have nothing to do with problems outside US borders. Explain how this attitude contributes to the naïve view of differences between globalism and tribalism he describes in the essay, and choose from the following topics to discuss the reality behind the false perception:
A) Explain Barber’s claim that Jihad and McWorld are a dialectical force that destroys the conditions for democracy. Flesh out the explanation with substantial discussions drawn from the video.
B) Respond to Barber’s complaint about the erosion of democracy by arguing for new global policies that would stabilize and strengthen the preconditions for democracy. (note: to do this, you’ll need to understand specifically the way in which democracy is threatened)
C) Synthesize Barber’s argument with Cave’s hypothesis that the unity of war and capitalism in the American psyche reveals our attitudes about crisis. How does Cave’s argument expand and perhaps augment Barber’s claims? Does the phenomenon Cave describes contribute to the destruction of democracy in a way Barber would recognize?

Reflect on the following nearly-verbatim paraphrase of Barber’s conclusions in the video:

“America cannot preach democracy abroad and practice plutocracy: the hegemony, the sovereignty of economic interests over political interests – the sovereignty of the wealthy over the rest. Capitalism is a magnificent economic system which has enabled production and prosperity, but it is bad at distribution. It needs democratic oversight and regulation to distribute its goods well. But the global economy doesn’t have any democratic regulation, which is why there is a runaway global economy and people who we think should be grateful because we have given them markets actually see the global economy as a force for marginalization and exclusion, and are NOT grateful because it doesn’t give them the kind of opportunities it gives the wealthy.”

Choose one or more of the following themes:
A) Explain the WTO and IMF as international institutions which consolidate the forces of the global economy but do not bring fairness, because they protect the interests of the already wealthy by subjugating markets in developing countries to needs of first-world investors. Discuss concrete cases of loans and investments being offered to the developing world on the condition that domestic spending on the needs of citizens is eliminated.
B) Building on themes in A, consider Barber’s conclusion that American progress toward liberty and equality requires securing liberty and equality for the rest of the world. Does economic globalization support or erode this progress? Can global liberation and equity be achieved by means of, or perhaps in spite of, global capitalism?

Friedman - “Revolution is U.S.”

Explain Friedman’s hypothesis that the forces of globalization are identical with Americanization. (Note: you’ll need to understand why the US economic system differs from other market systems) Choose one or more of the following themes:
A) Friedman claims that the world is ambivalent about Americanized globalization because it simultaneously represents opportunity and disempowerment. Take a position with regard to this apparent irony – explain the argument, and then form your own answer to the question of what globalization represents.
B) Divide the gas stations into two groups: Group A includes Japan, Europe and Communist nations, while Group B includes the US and the developing world. By comparing and contrasting the structural assumptions of each group, explain how the distinction between them illuminates the logic of economic globalization.
C) Pick up Friedman’s point about homelessness outside the US gas station. Look into what has happened to the conditions of economic prosperity at home in the name of globalization. Using the internet, research the phrase “Crisis of overproduction” (a Marxist critique of the inherent irrationality and unsustainability of capitalism). Decide whether the impact of globalization in the US reflects a crisis of overproduction, and speculate on what this means for the system as a whole. Do such conditions result from the contradictions in the capitalist world-economic system, or can the crisis be managed with international trade organizations such as NAFTA and the WTO?

Barber and Friedman on Capitalism, Foreign Policy and Liberation.

Barber and Friedman each describe the way in which the US uses the international institutions of economics, the military, and the products of culture to open up the markets and political systems of other nations for exploitation and investment by the first world. Analyze the contradictions that exist between these processes and our rhetoric of freedom. Choose one or more of the following topics:
A) Does the US preach democracy and practice plutocracy? (Barber) Do the forces of American corporations, military power, and cultural products work together to create a world which is insensitive to the need for global cooperation and dialogue about what values and policies are important for human well-being? (Friedman)
B) Expand on the discussion in A. Using the internet, find the “National Security Statement” which explains the foreign policy of the current Bush administration. This can be found on the White House website. Using the document, explain how the US understands freedom as the right of all humanity, and explain how the US proposes to use capitalism and military force to create the conditions it sees as being in its (and the rest of the world’s) interests. Section 7, I believe, discusses the use of global capitalism more specifically in this regard. Does this document illustrate the positions of Barber and Friedman as described in A? Decide whether this approach is effective and reasonable, or deeply problematic.

Frontier Values and US Foreign Policy

Explain Barber’s argument to abandon the rhetoric of independence in favor of interdependence. How have frontier values shaped our international attitudes toward the rest of the world?
A) Explain frontier values in US foreign policy. Referring to the conclusions of Shames and Goewey that frontier values are belied by factual contradictions, would you or would you not support the conclusion that US foreign policy exhibits similar contradictions? What alternatives are implied by the language of interdependence?
B) Synthesize Barber’s claim that frontier values shape US foreign policy with Shames’ claim that frontier values shape US economic policy. Do the shared frontier values (if they exist) confirm Friedman’s hypothesis that the powers of the American state, the American military and the American dollar work in tandem in the service of a common interest?
C) Reflect on the common presumption that the US is entitled to global hegemony in markets, politics and the military. Reflecting on the complaints against King George in the Declaration of Independence, consider whether this sense of entitlement is consistent with the principles of democracy: liberty, equality, the rule of law, popular sovereignty, etc.
D) Expanding on the discussion in C, evaluate the likelihood that the US will remain the global hegemon by considering the variety of threats it faces: rising competitive markets in China, Japan and Europe, the problem of global terrorism, the increasing reliance on deficit spending to subsidize corporations and fund military spending at the expense of a social safety net, etc. Are these bona fide threats, or are they the nightmares of the paranoid? Explain your answers.

US Global Hegemony and Terrorism

Combine the insights of Shames, Cave, Barber and Friedman to discern whether any contradictions exist between the power of the US and the forces of terrorism. Does the US support and reinforce terrorism in specific ways? If you discern such ironies, describe them in terms of a relationship to the forces of tyranny and terror which begin from the assumptions of American political, military and economic power. Then choose from among the following themes:
A) Flesh out the dialectical unity between America as the last superpower and terrorism as forces of anti-democratic autocracy. Turning to CONCRETE historical examples, show how Jihad and McWorld have reinforced and redefined one another through American support for covert wars, support for repressive dictators who were friendly to capital investment, instigation of civil wars to prevent peasants from demanding social equality, hiring mercenaries to destabilize regimes that once cooperated with the US but eventually lost favor, and abandoning military struggles it instigated and fueled once its most immediate interests appeared to be met.
B) Using the Friedman hypothesis about the unity of American culture, politics, militaries and markets, evaluate the coherence of the following claim: “They hate us because of our freedom.” Using the internet, research how often the phrase was used in public debate, and what debates it purported to clarify. Does the phrase have a measure of truthfulness, or is it the simplistic division of the world into those who love good and those who love evil which serves ultimately no good purpose? Is it possible it does both?

Posted Saturday 29 November 2003


"'I'm pleased to report back from the front lines that our troops are strong, morale is high and our military is confident we will prevail,' the president said in his weekly radio address."


Jeebus, where to begin with that horsheshit? That the little-p president's staff mandates staged interactions with troops? That troop morale has been shown to be anything but high despite increasing attempts by the little-p's regime to silence opposing views? That the probability of a statistical majority of troops thinking we will will "prevail," however one quantifies that, is likely also completely bogus? When do the banners of The Great GW/Cheney/Rumsfield Liberation go up all over the country? People, it's TIME to react. Sit-ins and 60's-style protests don't cut the mustard. Reaction must be new, striking, and reasoned. It must be non-violent but loud. It must be based in your own moral conviction that the GW Bush regime is evil.


Posted Saturday, 29 November 2003

Yes, I have a dorky side

I finally got around to seeing the second X-Men movie, and while I'm not a real big fan of blockbuster movies of any kind, I did really enjoy this flick (and the DVD is a cool package, FYI) because the many weird characters seem to evince depth of one sort or another (except, oddly, the main villain--Brian Cox, an actor I usually love). So I took this online quiz to see "which X-Man you're most like," and I can live with the results (Professor Xavier) even if he doesn't get a snazzy outfit.

professor x
You are Professor X!

You are a very effective teacher, and you are very
committed to those who learn from you. You put
your all into everything you do, to some extent
because you fear failure more than anything
else. You are always seeking self-improvement,
even in areas where there is nothing you can do
to improve.

Which X-Men character are you most like?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted Friday, 28 November 2003
From The Rocky Mountain News:

Gag order leaves troops, reporters speechless

November 25, 2003
By Mike Littwin

"COLORADO SPRINGS - Before the press was herded into the giant hangar in advance of George W. Bush's pep rally/photo op with the Fort Carson troops, we were given the rules.

"No talking to the troops before the rally.

"No talking to the troops during the rally.

"No talking to the troops after the rally.

"In other words, if I've done the math right, that means no conversation at all - at least, while on base - with any soldiers. After all, who knows where that kind of thing could lead?

"Just as an example: It could lead to a discussion about why the president has time to get to so many fund-raisers and no time to attend a single funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq.

"There could have been debate, and we all know the risks in debate, as to whether it's really the families' privacy that is being guarded by the rule against photos of coffins as they arrive from Iraq. Or whether it's the president's standing - the latest Gallup Poll showed 54 percent disapproved of his handling of Iraq - that is being guarded from what one general once called 'the Dover test.'

"Or somebody might have wanted to reminisce about Cpl. Gary B. Coleman, 24, of Pikeville, Ky., giving flesh-and-blood detail to the chilling statistic that Coleman was the latest casualty from Fort Carson, a post that has now given up 31 lives to the war in Iraq. Coleman, who was on patrol when his car crashed into a canal, trapping him inside, left behind a wife he had married only weeks before shipping out." [...]

Full text can be found here.

HEY STOURLEY, can you edit any posts for the next several days to come AFTER the list of essay topics i am posting for my students? that way they can find it easily - you can very easily manipulate time of posts so that they appear to have come earlier, which i never make use of, but in this case it would be helpful. There is NO WAY i am going to turn these questions into a handout - it would be too many pages. THANKS!
That's fine with me. I have a feeling I'll be swamped with stuff to do this week anyway. I almost quit my job last week because people in Montana ARE CRAZY. More later.
Hey, why don't you drop the Grizzly Adams ethos and move to the West Coast where we are ruled to a greater degree by reason and not the law of the jungle? Look for a job in Washington, California or Oregon and leave the hostility of aggressive libertarian apologia and half-cocked militias far behind.
Re: Re: Re:spect
Heee. You're right, of course.
I was contacted by what is probably the best private school in Seattle and invited to apply for a job with them next year. I just sent off my packet to them with fingers crossed. And I'm in the process of looking for work in those very states you mentioned. Today our headmaster made some weird apologies to me but also included phrases like "If you feel the need to part ways," and "possible financial settlement," and "no need to publicly harm the school," that was all kind of gross. After tomorrow we get the rest of the week off, and I'm going to scour the West for job possibilitites. Ah, humanity. I never imagined I'd ever be in a place that considered ME the "liberal wacko." World's gone crazy, children, but I'm hanging in.
For some bizarro reason, I had a dream last night that took place in that burrito shack we ate in that had the arctic air conditioner.

Dead Tree Another Casualty of Bush Regime

I just came home from doing some work at school, and I heard a commotion of big rig horn toots out my front windows (I live above a downtown gallery on the old part of Main Street). I parted my living room curtains in time to see a semi truck bedecked in green and red and bearing banners announcing its contents as the President's Christmas Tree, a gift from the people of Idaho (what were you people thinking?). This truck had a police escort, all flashing lights and hoopdie-doo. As the truck inched right past my living room I reflected on the travesty that is the Bush regime. It's an enormous tree, by the way. What's another dead tree? The truck will take the tree to the White House, where it will be ceremoniously decorated and lit . . . and then ogled by GW as a sign of something or other. While our brothers and sisters and friends are killed and maimed in a country that doesn't want us there (which one?), and the families of reservists have yet to see paychecks as they struggle to support themselves. As American-based multinationals get fat off of the sweat of third-world workers and light their cigars with federal tax breaks and government contracts perfumed by deregulation and pork politics. And GW does not give one damn. I curse you George W. Bush.
From today's New York Times:

F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies

Published: November 23, 2003

"WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads, according to interviews and a confidential bureau memorandum.

"The memorandum, which the bureau sent to local law enforcement agencies last month in advance of antiwar demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco, detailed how protesters have sometimes used 'training camps' to rehearse for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money and gas masks to defend against tear gas. The memorandum analyzed lawful activities like recruiting demonstrators, as well as illegal activities like using fake documentation to get into a secured site.

"F.B.I. officials said in interviews that the intelligence-gathering effort was aimed at identifying anarchists and 'extremist elements' plotting violence, not at monitoring the political speech of law-abiding protesters." [...]

Read the full, worrisome article here. (Requires a free, one-time registration)


The following "headlines" would become coherent commentary 'postings' if i had enough time to research them and write them out.

1. Bush Administration's state visit to Great Britain reveals two developments: A) US occupation is undermined by terror threats targeted at international supporters, B) decline of international support forces Republican-controlled administration to use diplomatic ties with Great Britain as photo-op to reassure public that international support is strong, and the adminstration retains some measure of international legitimacy.

2. Bush's claim that US will not back down in role as occupying power in Iraq is incommensurable with Bremer's order to have US troops out by next election - the strategy is not to refuse to back down, but to back down and declare hasty victory so as not to lose face.

3. Iraqi claim to offer last-minute negotiations between Bush and Hussein contradicts administration's claim that war was the last alternative.

4. Bush praises Great Britain as a "free" state where dissent is legal, and then skips appearance before Parliament out of fears of Heckling - as witnessed in Australian Parliament. Bonafide dissent is uncomfortable if you are an autocrat.

5. Republican energy bill borne of Cheney's energy task force, which refused to hand over records for Congressional oversight, subidizes energy industry with tax dollars, makes corporate producers of environmental toxin immune from public lawsuit for contaminating drinking water, and employs federal tax dollars to pay damages to any existing suit. (notice we are paying ourselves here) This bill was drafted in secret by Republican lawmakers without democratic input and forced onto the floor for vote without public review. Republicans accuse Democrats who delay passage of bill in favor of more time for legislative review as "playing politics." (It is at this point acceptable to refer to them as playing 'Tyrant Faction')

6. Republican drug-benefit bill includes rider clauses to privatize medicare in the next 10 years. Republicans verbally abuse Congressional democrats for quibbling over rider clause to force structural elimination of primary responsibility of welfare state to hands of private investors as 'delaying progress' on the passage of a prescription drug benefit package. Oh, if only it WERE that simple!

7. This explaims why young college students are more likely to vote republican than their older, wiser counterparts - American college students score worse-than-embarrassingly against international counterparts - as we see the 18-24 age group in the US electorate is more likely to approve of Bush administration, see US on continual path to positive change and economic prosperity, and know the LEAST about US/World history and current affairs. Pure ideology, folks. The truth will hurt, believe me.

8. The claim that whether the war was right or wrong, we should all rally behind the president, the troops and support the reconstruction of Iraq is a bogus piece of argumentative tripe. The fact is that in order for this war to go down, serious questions about it s legitimacy that were raised by prominent citizen and international organizations were not just ignored, they were meticulously scrambled. Think for a moment - after 9/11 no one said, let's forget about how this came to happen, let's just pull together and be unified. Bullshit - people wanted to know WHO did it, WHY they did it, etc. We should submit this failure of US diplomacy to the same standards of evaluation. Those who are responsible for the illegal war should not be coddled by the protections of the old maxim "Don't Switch Dicks in the Middle of a Screw - Vote for Nixon in '72" - they should be impeached and sent to jail as international war criminals.

9. The WTO has ruled that US tarriffs to protect domestic goods at home against foreign commodities are illegal. The US responds by saying it is only defending itself against a European competitor who wants only the "law of the jungle" when it comes to international markets, and that the US wants a level playing field. How ridiculous is this? The US of COURSE wants to protect its home markets as the consumer base for its own corporations, and this is illegal according to the standards of the WTO - what is good for the good is FINALLY good for the gander. Has the US EVER constructed a level playing field between itself and the developing world? Don't make me laugh if you're too dim to know the answer... Will the US submit to the fact that the rule of law is marked by universality, and does not operate solely in the interest of the stongest? New calls to protect US sovereignty by pulling out of the WTO demonstrate that the US can dish it out, but can't take it.

9. Think that the market can preside over the regulation of the material conditions for social well-being? Think again - new scandal surfaces suggesting that mutual funds are next sector of finance capital to exhibit infiltration of structural fraud. And YOU BOYS WANT TO PRIVATIZE even more aspects of the WELFARE STATE? You'd better hope we're all dead before we need medicare, fuckers.

10. So-called "Houston Miracle" which legitimates Bush's "No Child Left Behind" policy shows that teaching the test became more important than teaching students to think, and students who ultimately brought down the averages of the school districts in Houston were (ahem) "reassigned" on the rolls as having transferrred to another district, even though most stayed home and flunked out. In other words, the "houston miracle" is a FARCE: Houston districts showed a zero drop-out rate by cooking the books. What's good enough for Wall Street is good enough for the Bush Administration's national education secretary.

11. The federal Dept. of Labor wants to eliminate millions of workers from eligibility for overtime pay. The Environmental agencies fork over public trusts to corporations, and the state dept. and the DOD are locked in mortal combat to control the future of US foreign policy. The appointment of Condi Rice over tasks once portioned out to Rumsfeld indicates the Administration is trying to backtrack over some unwise Neo-Con foreign policy and preserve military engagements with enough international legitimacy to weather the mounting criticism that the US has finally given Al-Quaeda a legitimate war-zone, sufficient to ignite large parts of the Arab world in unrest. Now is the time for the diplomacy-centered STATE DEPARTMENT to take over for the illiberal tongue of the DOD. But Americans still love John Wayne foreign policy - do they still want Al-Quadea to "bring it on?" Bravado will force them to put their money where their mouths are. You pay for it, you register for the draft, you make a democracy in an area where there once was none. AND you answer to the UN in a way which is not patronizing, but respects the rule of law. The law does not privilege the strong over the weak. The US is not powerful enough to act outside the law without fucking everything up. The US should beg the international community to take over the burden of nation-building, and renounce its occupation.

12. Finally, the US is violating the international laws of war by restructuring the Iraqi economy to fit the model of first-world capitalism. According to (i believe) the Geneva convention, the conquering power cannot restructure the economic base of the conquered territory in any substantial way. Bush has recently declared that all US corporations which have participated in the reconstructing of the Iraqi economy are immune from prosectution - a federal executive order, i might add, which is UNCONSTITUTIONAL but which will probably not be declared so until it is too late, and the iraqi economy is in the hands of US and European capitalists.

Fuck Fukuyama's end of history in the eternal principles of liberalism. The liberal nation-state that is capitalist and governed by a military-industrial complex is autocratic, hegemonic and anti-democratic. It is a liberal form of tyranny.


I still don't have much time to post here until my internet connection at home is really up and working. I thought that was going to be this week, but this is still unclear. I can check when i get home and it may well be the case, so hope i guess springs (as you would expect) eternal. I have two weeks of teaching and writing left before the end of the term, and i am violently late on many bills and behind schedule in my academic responsibilities, so i am not going to labor over any of this. Going through the breakup has really taxed all my capacities, and sadly what seems to be first to be sacrificed is school. I hate that i am the only one who recognizes this as a serious problem.

Anyhow, i think i have finally hit on what will ultimately be the argument of my first chapter, although it is now my second chapter. The first chapter will be a model from which to proceed in explaining/critiquing the developments of liberal democracy though Rawls and Dewey. I should not fret about the perfection of every single argument, but rather write out the whole and expect the details to be added as we go.

I am looking forward to Christmas, and thinking about my dear friends. I am looking forward to the time when i am united with each of you again.

Did you know that the disparity between the rich and the poor is now at a level which has not been seen since the great depression? Chew on THAT, critics of the welfare state. Your rollback of the New Deal has NOT brought an efficient market, it has allowed you to export jobs, disintegrate worker's gains domestically, relieve yourself of social responsibility in the form of tax burdens, etc., and eliminate state-sponsored funding of humanitarian programs in the form of welfare, etc. But here is your fatal flaw, you champion efficiency in the form of short-term profit increase over long-term human interest: by 'globalizing' your production outside the US, you impoverish your first-world consumer base. No one can buy back the shit you produce, and your profit margin will inevitably fall. Your wars may prolong your market hegemony, but they will not forestall your crisis of overproduction. We are now locked desperately in the race toward the bottom. The disparity of pay between CEOs and average employees is as vast as it was during the days of Louis XVI -- and you KNOW what happened to him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Bush Greeted By Bajillions of Disgusted Britons with Rotten Tomatoes

At least I hope so . . .

Nice little cranky website worth a lunchtime mull over at:

Monday, November 17, 2003

I think i'll be back tomorrow...

The internet should be back on at my house tomorrow, with any luck. At the very least i'll be on again in a few days. It will be good to get posting again and get back in touch with you, eric.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

From the Associated Press today:

U.S. Troops More Hostile With Reporters

Nov 12, 7:09 PM (ET)


"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - With casualties mounting in Iraq, jumpy U.S. soldiers are becoming more aggressive in their treatment of journalists covering the conflict.
Media people have been detained, news equipment has been confiscated and some journalists have suffered verbal and physical abuse while trying to report on events.

"Although the number of incidents involving soldiers and journalists is difficult to gauge, anecdotal evidence suggests it has risen sharply the past two months.
The president of the Associated Press Managing Editors, an association of editors at AP's more than 1,700 newspapers in the United States and Canada, sent a protest letter to the Pentagon on Wednesday urging officials to 'immediately take the steps to end such confrontations.'

"'The effect has been to deprive the American public of crucial images from Iraq in newspapers, broadcast stations and online news operations,' wrote Stuart Wilk, managing editor of The Dallas Morning News.
In October, the Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists, which includes unions representing 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries, complained of increased harassment of reporters, including beatings of some, since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"'Guidance has been passed to units throughout the coalition explicitly stating that reporters are not to be interfered with or cameras and films seized,' said Maj. William Thurmond at the Coalition Press and Information Center.

"'Does that take place all the time? No.' Thurmond said. 'We are aware that individual soldiers have not followed those instructions.'

"In Washington, representatives of 30 media organizations wrote to the Pentagon expressing their dismay about the harassment of journalists in Iraq. In a letter to Larry Di Rita, acting assistant secretary of defense, the Washington bureau chiefs pointed out that the Pentagon's own guidance to troops says 'media products will not be confiscated or otherwise impounded.'

"The military command says it's working to cut down on incidents by issuing credentials and badges to journalists. This system worked well with embedded reporters during the war, when confrontations were almost unheard of.
But as coalition forces come under increasing pressure from guerrilla attacks - 37 American soldiers have died so far in November - signs of stress are evident.
A number of journalists, particularly Iraqis and other Arabs working for foreign media organizations, say they are now routinely threatened at gunpoint if they try to film the aftermath of guerrilla attacks. Some have been arrested and held for short periods.

"Sami Awad, a Lebanese cameraman working as a freelancer for a German TV network, said that when his crew tried to check out a report Friday about hand grenades being thrown at a U.S. patrol in Baghdad, they encountered a roadblock at which soldiers told him to go ahead and film.

"But as the crew proceeded down the street, more soldiers appeared, threw them to the ground and pointed their weapons at their heads, Awad said.

"'They checked our identity badges and then let us go, saying they thought we were with Al-Jazeera,' he said. 'Each group of soldiers acts on its own, and most of them are very scared and inexperienced.'

"Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based television network, has repeatedly been accused by U.S. officials of biased reporting, charges the station denies.

"Two weeks ago, coalition troops detained two Al-Jazeera staffers covering an explosion at a police station in western Baghdad on allegations they had prior knowledge of the car bombing. Al-Jazeera dismissed the charges as ridiculous, and the men were later freed.
A TV news producer in Baghdad for a major U.S. television network said his crews had been threatened at least 10 times in recent weeks with confiscation of their equipment. He asked not to be quoted by name because of his company's policy against giving interviews to other media.

"Journalists have been shot at several times by U.S. troops, including an incident in August in which Reuters television cameraman Mazen Dana was killed while videotaping near a U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad following a mortar attack.

"The military later said the troops had mistaken Dana's camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. An investigation concluded the soldiers 'acted within the rules of engagement,' although the U.S. Army has never publicly announced those rules, citing security reasons.
In September, U.S. soldiers shot up the car of an Associated Press photographer in Khaldiyah after an American convoy was hit with a roadside bomb. The photographer, Karim Kadim, and his Iraqi driver jumped from the car and ran for cover when they saw a tank aim at them. They were shot at with a machine gun as they ran and the car was badly damaged. Neither man was hurt.

"In the same incident, a U.S. tank's .50-caliber machine gun fired at AP correspondent Tarek al-Issawi as he viewed the scene from a nearby rooftop. He also escaped injury.

"AP filed a protest and U.S. commanders promised to investigate, but no information on the results of the probe has been received.

"After a series of missile and rocket attacks in recent weeks on the so-called 'Green Zone' in central Baghdad that houses the U.S.-led occupation administration, security precautions there have been tightened to unprecedented levels.

"As a result, journalists invited to cover news conferences at the press center are now required to arrive 90 minutes early to be frisked and have their equipment checked by sniffer dogs. But guards can announce without warning that the building is closed, blocking those still waiting in line outside from entering.

"'If you don't like the way the military works, I can't help you,' Capt. William Pickett told a group of reporters left standing outside the gate after being invited to cover a briefing Monday with Australia's defense minister, Robert Hill. "

Sunday, November 09, 2003


I am working on a computer out of town, with no A drive, and still no internet access at my house (or functional A drive). I am posting an outline of my second chapter that i have been working on to cut out repetitive discussion. I have no other way to work while out of town. (BTW i am posting it in "pieces" so very likely the whole thing is not here anyhow - i just need to somehow be able to copy it from a library computer once i am back in Eugene)


Liberal states have not necessarily been democratic. The development of liberal democracy presumes that 1) liberal principles enable political self-determination and are realized by them, 2) political self-determination displays to some degree democratic features, 3) a symmetrical relationship between political and economic self-determination can be achieved.
A society that manifests greater levels of self-determination will generally be regarded by the liberal as more free than the society which de-emphasizes such matters. Democracy as a procedural system to realize such liberal ends will be regarded as more just than more autocratic or authoritarian systems.

However, there are obstructions preventing coherence between liberal procedures and liberal values. The obstructions are the consequences of socio-economic policies based on liberal values of the free market. The sovereignty of the wealthy has trumped the sovereignty of the politically-organized public. In recent decades we have begun to witness declining conditions of justice in liberal democracies. By promoting a view of social freedom in which laissez-faire market interests trump the interests of popular sovereignty, such a form of government fails to satisfy its own criteria for success. The need for political reorganization of the economic base of society cannot likewise be appreciated when we view the interdependence of economic and political development from a limited, ahistorically metaphysical standpoint.

I. Liberal Democracy Justified: The Coherence of Theoretical Principles and Procedural Content

Most critiques of Liberal Democracy critique the inadequacy of theory itself, or claim to demonstrate the inadequacy of theory by pointing out failures of actual states. In either case, the critic has failed to realize that the justification for Liberal democracy depends upon means/ends coherence between principles and procedures. There are 3 such justifications for LD, each of which describes democratic procedures in terms of intstrumental values as methods for realizing liberal values. These are as follows:

a. Liberal values are realized by procedural politics
b. The Liberal Democratic process has virtues found in no other political process
c. Results are most beneficial when states embody such liberal democratic processes

Critiques of these justifications depend on demonstrating the failure of normative principles to cohere with democratic processes. It is insufficient to critique either principles or procedures without establishing their coherence as the criterion for workable justifications to begin with. Just as these justifications depend on the coherence between these two elements, so the theories and practices of the liberal democratic tradition are open to such inquiry. Likewise, liberal democracy has used similar methods of undermining justifications of monarchy as a means of distancing itself from the old autocracies of Europe. In fact, in the last analysis it is not clear that there is any avenue outside the coherence between principles and procedures from which to conduct inquiry and criticism anyhow.

The point at which the justifications for liberal democracy fail to cohere is the relationship between the metaphysical account of the dynamic that exists between the free market and the development of human freedom, and the policies the liberal state must regard as necessary for preserving it.

II. The Market Metaphysics of Social Development

The possibility of a 'special relationship' between liberal democracy and capitalism presumes that certain spheres of human freedom are facilitated by market rather than political mechanisms. The mutual entailment of these two systems proceeds from the assumption that each works to expand a particular sphere of human agency by creating effective opportunities for individual decision-making. This often requires "necessary" sacrifices to popular sovereignty so that the productive base of society can be as efficient and unhindered as possible. However, this response is based on a metaphysically inadequate view of social life, in which modes of freedom are functions of economic evolution.

Hayek gives clearest modern articulation while claiming to not endorse vulgar laissez-faire - ie he admits some proper relationship between political procedure and economic functions. However, because he employs a fallacious evolutionary theory for the cooperative development between moral and structural systems, liberal principles of equality do not extend to the economic sphere. In order to support progress, economic systems must inherently be inegalitarian. Still, they cannot be subject to the kind of deliberate social-planning that is represented by legislative branches of democracy, because such subjection would allow unnecessary interference by the political ‘public’ in the invisible hand of the market.

Hayek establishes a number of metaphysical premises in the interest of this conclusion. Interestingly, these conclusions represent pragmatic views of liberal ends, which even if incommensurable with the only versions of 20th century liberalism worthy of responding to the challenge, still demostrate coherence in the liberal tradition from laissez-faire capitalism to the substantive debates of social democracy. Hayek begins from an association he draws between liberation and progress, insofar as human society is disposed to progress so long as it does not attempt unnecessarily to subject the market to political regulation.

a. Causal forces independent of human agency make progress possible. Rationality is, if anything, a problem-solving device which is not always adequate to cope with the rate of transformation that sweeps society up in its process.
b. Moral systems that help with such transitions win out over those which do not facilitate development. As successful systems develop, the store of human knowledge is increased and available to compete in the limitless process of confronting future conflict, etc. Classes are 'natural categories' - they persist as a result of natural human differentiation and make coping with social transition ultimately beneficial for everyone involved. Class dynamics are not moral systems, and thus stand outside the boundaries of justice, except insofar as they facilitate the evolution of a free society in general.
c. Political systems which acknowledge the sanctity of free-markets are based on socio-ethical strategies for liberating human agency and the forces that propel progress. Progress is a function of preserving affluence, because affluence spurs innovation, renovation, and material well-being if left to its own historical devices.

Political regulation of the market that addresses these principles is a “free-market” state, as opposed to the “planned economy.” The planned market attempts to control the development of sectors of the market artificially, and this is in effect to restrict the principles of growth and progress to the perceived imminent desires of a society which is incapable of regulating such large and complex systems in the first place. This ends in coercion and cultural stagnations for a variety of reasons.

A free market, by comparison, is governed by the state only insofar as the conditions for competiton are secured through political policies designed to enhance the free movement of money and other economic resources can be preserved. Entrepreneurship is the fulcrum of development. For this reason, a class of elite powerbrokers should be tolerated for their insight into the dynamic possibilities of the market.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

[Welcome back, Lisa! It's -10 degrees here this morning, but I'm considering a job in Seattle!]

From today's New York Times, two articles:

Lawyers at E.P.A. Say It Will Drop Pollution Cases

Published: November 6, 2003

"WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — A change in enforcement policy will lead the Environmental Protection Agency to drop investigations into 50 power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act, lawyers at the agency who were briefed on the decision this week said.

"The lawyers said in interviews on Wednesday that the decision meant the cases would be judged under new, less stringent rules set to take effect next month, rather than the stricter rules in effect at the time the investigations began.

"The lawyers said the new rules include exemptions that would make it almost impossible to sustain the investigations into the plants, which are scattered around the country and owned by 10 utilities.

"The lawyers said the change grew out of a recommendation by Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, which urged the government two years ago to study industry complaints about its enforcement actions. The Bush administration has said its goal is to ensure cost-effective improvements to air quality." [...]

Full text of article is available here (requires a free, one-time registration).

Iraq Said to Have Tried to Reach Last-Minute Deal to Avert WarBy JAMES RISEN

Published: November 6, 2003

"WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — As American soldiers massed on the Iraqi border in March and diplomats argued about war, an influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman: Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal.

"Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search. The businessman said in an interview that the Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, he said, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.

"The messages from Baghdad, first relayed in February to an analyst in the office of Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy and planning, were part of an attempt by Iraqi intelligence officers to open last-ditch negotiations with the Bush administration through a clandestine communications channel, according to people involved.

"The efforts were portrayed by Iraqi officials as having the approval of President Saddam Hussein, according to interviews and documents.

"The overtures, after a decade of evasions and deceptions by Iraq, were ultimately rebuffed. But the messages raised enough interest that in early March, Richard N. Perle, an influential adviser to top Pentagon officials, met in London with the Lebanese-American businessman, Imad Hage." [...]

Full text available here (requires a free, one-time registration).

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


Lisa here, sorry for the month long absence, but i haven't had an internet connection. It will be back up w/in the week and i'll be back to my usual bad behavior. Everything is well at the Blasch Menagerie.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

A Political and Historical Anniversary I Remember Too Well

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and I can hardly believe it has been eight years. That day is marked heavily in my head for a number of reasons, but it remains in my psyche chiefly because I was living and working in Ankara, Turkey at the time. As a teacher in a private Turkish school made up of 99% Turkish students, and in a country approximately 98% Muslim, I came to know many Muslim families in ways most Americans simply never do. And I remember watching the BBC when it was first reported that the PM had been shot. My neighbors said, "Oh, please don't let it be a Muslim," for reasons you can likely imagine. When it was revealed that Rabin's assassin was a Jew, there was both an odd sigh of relief in Ankara (and, surely, in most of the Middle East), and also a question mark. Rabin had worked steadily toward peace negotiations with the Palestinian authority, yet opponents within his own nation felt he would give too much away, and so what happened happened. I am no fan of Israel, which is not to say I am anti-Semitic, as a number of reactionaries might claim. One may be one without being the other when it comes to tolerance and acceptance of the Jewish faith versus the nation of Israel, which, as I see it, wields its aging victim status as a bludgeon. An article from the AP today:

Tens of Thousands Remember Slain Rabin

[from the AP]

Nov 1, 3:04 PM (ET)


"TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Saturday night to mark the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, showing their continued support for the stalled peace process.

"The peace rally took place in the Tel Aviv plaza where Rabin was fatally shot on Nov. 4, 1995, by an extremist Jew opposed to his peace efforts.

"'For me, this is reassurance of the desire for peace, reassurance for people against violence, and reassurance of Rabin's way,' said Zvi Friedman, one of the rally's organizers.

"A large picture of Rabin hung behind the stage, with the words 'Eight years since the murder.' Many of the people in the crowd carried banners backing the peace process, saying, 'There is no other way.'

"Labor party leader Shimon Peres, who was with Rabin at the plaza moments before he was gunned down, said he felt his old partner's presence at every memorial rally.

"'Every time I mount these stairs, at this building, at this time of evening it is as if I am coming to shake Yitzhak's hand,' he told the cheering crowd.

"Hours earlier, Palestinian leaders, meeting to form a new government, welcomed a new offer from the Israeli government to resume peace talks. But they said any negotiations must come with efforts to stop violence and halt Jewish settlement building on land claimed by Palestinians. [...]"

Full article available here.

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