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, February 29, 2004


This story is interesting to me because it reminds us of the significance of using the word 'terrorism' in political and economic contexts to refer to groups or views legitimately opposed to your own. Clearly, the danger is that democratic protections for organizing citizen opposition to state and corporate institutions will be weakened so that the faction in power will enjoy greater in ease determining policy.

Earlier this month Bush's secretary of education referred to the largest teacher's union in the country as a terrorist organization. This week, the head of the nation's largest insurance company referred to trial lawyers as terrorists. Why would teacher's unions and organizations of trial lawyers represent a terroristic threat to sound public policy? The most direct answer is that they represent the organized power of labor and consumer interest in the spheres of education and health care. They form a countervailing force to state bureacracy designed to promote corporate growth by scaling back on the power people can wield vis-a-vis political and economic institutions.

The neo-Con social agenda is to privatize the task of managing public goods in a way which allows them to retain political control over who will gain the most from such policies. This is a revealing paradox in their ideology. They chant the mantra of smaller government, more local control over the daily affairs of life in order to increase the access of corporations to fields of healthcare and education. At the same time, they act ruthlessly against the citizen-based organizations that oppose the power of bureaucracy.

The problem is that their libertarian views do not coincide with their need to control the distribution of wealth. They affirm no limits to the rights of corporations or individuals to own as much as they please. However, they suddenly invoke an economically just 'whole' to condemn individuals or groups who redistribute the wealth by negotiating in the courthouses and legislative halls of our capitals. The quote from Greenberg at the bottom of the following Reuter's release describes the trial lawyer industry reaping 2% of the GDP as a travesty. Free market capitalism apparently is completely consistent with corporate lawyers who help industry get away with having no public accountability, but apparently inconsistent with lawyers who work to take a chunk out of their profits. Never in a million years would they consider that rampant profit at the expense of the workers and citizens they prey on as terrorism, although it has created far more human misery historically and continues this pattern to this day. What a system!

AIG Chief Calls Some Lawyers 'Terrorists'
Tue Feb 24, 2004 04:59 PM ET
By Tim McLaughlin

BOSTON (Reuters) - The chairman of American International Group Inc. (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , the world's largest insurer by market value, on Tuesday called lawyers opposed to tort reform "terrorists" and said class-action lawsuits are a "blight" on the United States.

AIG Chairman Maurice "Hank" Greenberg's remarks came a day after U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige sparked an uproar when he called the nation's largest teachers' union a "terrorist organization" during a meeting with U.S. governors. The White House said he later apologized. In remarks to business executives in Boston, Greenberg likened the battle over reforming class-action litigation to the White House's "war on terror." AIG insures corporations against multibillion-dollar claims of damages in asbestos lawsuits, for example. "It's almost like fighting the war on terrorists," Greenberg told Boston College's Chief Executives' Club. "I call the plaintiff's bar terrorists."

That drew a swift rebuke from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, which called Greenberg's remarks "an insult to the American people and the American Constitution." "I think it's outrageous to try to use the specter of terrorism against the trial bar," ATLA President David Casey said. The group, which counts 60,000 lawyers, represents on a pro bono basis more than 1,700 families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United State, Casey said. "We're truly on the side of angels," Casey said.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush has often used the word "terrorist" to describe various groups and individuals, but some critics say the term has been overused. Paige's comment about the National Education Association, which represents 2.7 million teachers and other educators, sparked immediate criticism from Democrats and the union. Paige made the remark while discussing the federal "No Child Left Behind" education law with governors at the White House, said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, who attended the meeting.

Greenberg used graphic language as he railed against an American tort system that sometimes awards staggering sums to people who claim injuries from corporate actions or products, for example. He accused plaintiff's lawyers of venue shopping in hope of winning big awards from receptive juries or judges. "You know you're going to get raped...when you appear there," Greenberg said. "Our legal tort system is out of control," he said, estimating class-action lawsuits shave 2 percent off the U.S. gross domestic product every year. "It's a blight on the country."

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.


In a report that was leaked from the nation's innermost military sanctum, the Pentagon welcomes us to a grim view of the 21st century where the rich will hoard resources at the expense of the lives of the poor and the international community will disintegrate to barbaric wars of survival.

The official Pentagon response to the much-mentioned climate change report is to characterize it as an exercise in preparing for what could possibly be the worst-case scenario assuming global warming is scientific fact, rather than a prediction of what is likely to transpire in the actual future. Aside from the fact that one wonders why such worst-case scenarios were not more influential in determining the Bush administration's foreign policy with regard to Iraq, the more unsettling question concerns the accuracy of the science itself. The Bush administration uses pseudo-science driven by corporate interest to try and persuade the public that global warming is a matter of scientific debate rather than scientific certitude. Once that layer of abstraction is peeled away, is this report a hypothetical sketch or a solemn warning? When that time comes, will we still be blathering the mindless Bushian mantra about freedom as the Divine's universal gift to all of humanity?

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us (full text here)

· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday February 22, 2004
The Observer

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.

Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.

A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch.

One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible.

Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change.

Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'

Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.

'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.

'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.

Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.

Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.'

Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.

'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.'

So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.

The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.

Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.'

Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added.


For those of you who have been under a rock for the last year or so, we now know that the British and American intelligence agencies were used to spy on Kofi Annan, Hans Blix and other diplomats in an effort to forestall the UN's attempts to spare Iraq from war through diplomacy. Because of brave individuals such as Catherine Gunn and others, we know that the British were pressured by the Americans to help surveil the UN, and that Downing street was receiving transcripts of conversations between ambassadors. Without denying the veracity of the accusations, Tony Blair has called the leakers of the espionage story "deeply irresponsible," begging the question how any government official can "responsibly" condone breaking international law.

Right now this issue is more pressing for Tony Blair, whose government is backing off charging Catherine Gunn with violating the British official secrets act, which contains a loophole clause that allows whistleblowers to leak secrets in the event that the government is behaving illegally. Gunn turned herself in after leaking the request for assistance in bugging Kofi Annan's floor (one of the most secure in the entire building, btw, suggesting it would take more than just a spook or two). Now, with her lawyers demanding that the Blair government disclose the legal case for war, which was not even turned over to high officials, the government is backing off. Why? Because the document will show that Blair had no legal recourse to war, and resorted to sampling the language from the first Gulf War resolution to support the case for pre-emption.

On a related note, the law lords are now working hard to eliminate the whistleblower clause from the official secrets act, making it illegal to disclose ANY state secrets EVEN if the government is behaving illegally. So much for liberal democracy, which is based on the presumption that the state tends to become an enemy of the people.

On another note, it is important to remember that espionage at the UN is a violation of THREE international treaties. Talk about high crimes and misdemeanors.

The following is a commentary on the espionage debacle from Juan Cole, professor of history in Michigan:

We may as Well Just Record all our Telephone Calls and send them to Maryland

Philip Knightley and Kim Sengupta describe how the US National Security Agency and the British Government Communications Headquarters eavesdrop on the whole world. The NSA is forbidden from listening in on Americans without a warrant, but the US government circumvents this problem by formally allowing the GCHQ to spy on Americans. The NSA listens in on British calls, and then the two just swap the information.
The NSA is ten times larger with regard to personnel than the CIA, with a budget larger than the other intelligence agencies as well ($8 bn. out of about $30 bn. total). Frankly, after September 11 I think most Americans would be happier if it listens in on calls in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Hamburg a little more intently than in the past. It is not so clear that they would be happy to know it was listening in on Americans not under any suspicion of criminality.
The GCHQ was founded in 1946, but I heard somewhere that the deal on having the US spy on British citizens and the British on US, and then swapping the data, goes back to World War II.
The current row over GCHQ in New York monitoring UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's phone calls was in some sense begun in spring of 2003 when GCHQ employee Katharine Gunn blew the whistle on the US and the British governments, revealing that the US had asked GCHQ to listen in on the phone calls of the UN ambassadors of 6 swing vote countries on the Security Council with regard to the building Iraq war. The British government seriously considered prosecuting Gunn, but backed off just a few days ago. Some have suggested that the British authorities began worrying that if the case went to court, Gunn's attorney would demand to see the memos of Lord Goldsmith, the British attorney general, on the legality of the Iraq war. We know from one leaked memo that he felt that without a UN Security Council resolution, a prolonged Anglo-American occupation of Iraq would likely involve the two in policy making that contravened international law (as it has). Others say that it just seemed highly unlikely a British jury would convict Gunn, given how unpopular the war and occupation have been in the UK.
This week, ex-British cabinet member Clare Short, who broke with Tony Blair over the Iraq war, revealed that while on the cabinet she had seen transcripts of Kofi Annan's telephone calls.
Now it turns out that whenever UN weapons inspector Hans Blix was in Iraq, his cell phone was monitored. That Blix was under surveillance and that transcripts of his phone calls were shared among the US, the UK, Australia and Canada, puts a new spin on the Blix allegation last summer that he had been the object of a smear campaign by officials in the US Department of Defense. If Feith, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld had his personal phone calls, they were in a position to cook up plausible smears against him. Blix maintains that the authority of the United Nations has been perhaps irretrievably damaged by the very countries who should have been supporting it.
The Blix wiretaps raise an interesting question. Did the US and UK know even more about the lack of evidence for weapons of mass destruction than we thought, from what Blix was saying privately in spring of 2003 before the war?
While the GCHQ listening in on phone calls in the US is apparently just a regular occurrence, tapping Kofi Annan's line would be illegal because the UN headquarters is not considered US soil. Whatever deal Roosevelt and Churchill made about each spying on the other's citizens doesn't apply at the UN.
The framers of the US constitution wanted individuals to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their own homes, and wanted the police to leave them alone unless there was good evidence they had committed a crime. The rise of the National Security State during WW II and in the Cold War has effectively gutted the constitution in this regard for all practical purposes. The Patriot Act more or less repeals the Bill of Rights, which has bedevilled successive US regimes, especially that of Richard Nixon, who now finally has his revenge.
I suppose the real question is whether, when Bin Laden boasted, "I will take away their freedom," it was an empty boast or an accurate prediction.
(from www.juancole.com)

Friday, February 27, 2004

From Bob Herbert in today's New York Times:

"The opponents of gay marriage are on the wrong side of history. The interests of civilization are not served by driving mature love underground. And the interests of the United States, which is supposed to be the quintessence of a free society, are not served by enshrining bigotry in law."

Thursday, February 26, 2004

From The Advocate Online:

Kerry backs Mass. amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage

"Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Thursday he supports amending the Massachusetts constitution to ban gay marriage as long as such an amendment would provide for civil unions for same-sex couples. He stressed that he was referring only to the state, and not the federal, constitution. The Massachusetts senator has criticized President Bush's support for an amendment that would change the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual institution.

"'If the Massachusetts legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection,' Kerry told The Boston Globe. He has said he would oppose any amendment that didn't include a provision for civil unions. 'I think that you need to have civil union,' he said. 'That's my position.'

"Kerry's remark angered supporters of gay marriage, who said his position could help a stalled proposal offered by state legislators that would define marriage as a union of one man and one woman and create same-sex civil unions. Massachusetts lawmakers are set to reconvene their constitutional convention on March 11. 'It is harmful for us and could well affect the vote,' said Arline Isaacson, cochair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, which opposes the amendment.

"'We disagree strongly with Senator Kerry's statement that he would support amending the Massachusetts constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage so long as the amendment 'provides for partnership and civil unions,' said Matt Foreman, executive director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 'As the Massachusetts supreme judicial court so eloquently stated, 'The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal.'"

"Said Cheryl Jacques, president of gay rights group Human Rights Campaign: 'Make no mistake--civil unions single out a group of people for second-class treatment. That is discrimination, and it does not belong in any constitution. While we acknowledge the senator's strong opposition to a federal constitutional amendment, supporting a divisive measure in his own state is exceptionally disheartening and, frankly, muddies the water on his actual position.'

"Kerry has said he opposes gay marriage but has not previously given his opinion on any specific amendment under discussion in the Massachusetts legislature. In 1996 Kerry voted against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union of a man and woman. At the time, Kerry said he opposed gay marriage but that he felt that DOMA amounted to gay bashing."

Mr. Kerry, this is unacceptable. I will not vote for you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Gay Democrats ask for marital history of GOP legislators
By Tim Evans
February 24, 2004

"Claiming divorce -- not same-sex unions -- is undermining the
sanctity of marriage, a group of gay Democrats on Monday asked state
GOP Chairman Jim Kittle to identify Republican legislators who have
been divorced.

"The request comes as House Republicans are attempting to force a
vote on a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex
marriage. The amendment -- which Republicans last week called 'the
most important issue we're dealing with this session' -- was
approved by the Senate but has been stalled in the House by
Democratic leadership.

"'We think it is fair to ask during this debate how many legislators
who are demonizing gay marriage have actually committed the most
grievous possible injury to the institution they claim to want to
protect,' said Linda Perdue, president of the Indiana Stonewall

"The political action committee, which works to elect gay and
gay-friendly candidates to public office, also asked Kittle to
release the marital histories of the party's two candidates for
governor, Mitch Daniels and Eric Miller -- and their stands on a
proposed constitutional ban.

"'We will not be issuing a response to this,' Kim Preston, press
secretary for the Indiana Republican Party, told The Indianapolis

Read more: http://www.indystar.com/articles/3/123589-3253-098.html

Attention Fundamentalists: We Heteros are Doing a Perfectly Good Job of Undermining Marriage All On Our Own, Thank You Very Much! How about giving a little credit where it's due?

I am depressed to watch the punditocracy reduce the intellectual sophistication of the debate over Constitutionalism to entrenched moral positions, and worse yet to know that these are the lame-assed opinions that seep into public consciousness and poison the possibility for enlarging the sphere of civically-responsible debate. The most disheartening fallacies are Constitutional, and I posted a comment on the flawed approach of the Bush administration to the foundational document yesterday (which i wouldn't mind carrying on a conversation about publicly - nudge nudge).

One central fallacy of their argument which is less directly related to constitutional muster concers the exact NATURE of the threat posed by gay marriage to the sacredness of the institution. How, exactly, will allowing Gays to marry erode the foundations of marriage? Will straight Sneeches suddenly not want to do it anymore because the gay Sneeches now have Stars on Thars?

One argument they seem fond of is the view that gay marriage will cause straight marriage to explode with the fury of 100 million divorces. Why there should be any correlation between divorce between straights and gay marriage is never clarified, and this is a serious weakness because after all, these claims are reasonable only if they actually reference some kind of social data. Perhaps it is really the sinking feeling that people might not tolerate being married to a member of the opposite sex if they think they can explore their sexual horizons and still get all the perks. Perhaps they can't stand the idea that there might be pressure to rent out their pious little houses of worship for the wedding of Adam and Steve. Perhaps it is because they figure that gays are incapable of monogamy, and if they are entrusted with marriage, they'll set a bad example for the straights.

Believe me, straight people don't need a marriage between a gay couple to pursue a liberal policy of terminating their own. Many straight people don't even bother getting married anyway, and live in long-term domestic partnerships. How do you explain the increasing number of heterosexual people who choose to reject marriage altogether? Maybe it's the fault of the gays who can't marry who are setting a bad example for these non-marrying straights. Maybe the fact that gays aren't marrying but living as families in committed partnerships is encouraging heterosexuals to just live in sin.

Clearly i'm being sarcastic here, but with good reason. The crisis of heterosexual marriage predates this debate, not just in terms of skyrocketing divorce statistics but in terms of refusal to marry altogether. If we knock down the fundamentalist "divine law" argument against gay marriage, they revert to "original intention" arguments. When those are knocked down on the basis that there is no legal precedent in the constitution to regulate marriage, they recede to the "social stability" argument - it's just better for society (and in particular children) if gays are NOT married. Most of us can attest to having our lives fucked up by heterosexual parents. In the absence of any correlation between Divorce and gay marriage, it's not clear that there is any other relevant basis for the final objection. Believe me, straights do not need gays to turn them on to the divorce fad - because we invented it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

(if you're totally daft, this implies that we are less than free...)

Here is an article from www.Chicagopride.com that takes us back to the good old days when social conservatism actually meant keeping government OUT of the privacy of your home. However, as we all know, the war on terror and the terroristic gays changed the world forever. Now we need the Great Frankenstein's Monster - the agendas of the military-industrial complex and the religious Right united to destroy civil rights. Thank god that Bush is on a mission from god to defend the American people, because if this regime stands for much longer there won't be a Constitution to do it.

And by the way, with Cheyney pulling of THIS kind of flip flop in his approach to matters of Constitutional interpretation, Bush has No Fucking Business criticizing the Democrats for saying one thing and doing another, just as he has No Fucking Business for criticizing Kerry's corporate ties. Bush raises more special interest money in one night than any other candidate raises over the period of months.

But then again, when have they really ever pursued a policy of openness and integrity in either thought or action?

Cheney Flip-Flops On Gay Marriage
By 365gay.com
January 11, 2004
Printer Friendly | Email this Article to a Friend

WASHINGTON, D. C. - Vice President Dick Cheney says he will support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, a reversal of his stand during the 2000 presidential campaign.

In a nationally televised debate in 2000 with then Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Cheney was asked about gay marriage.

"The fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody," Cheney said. "And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.

"The next step, then, ... is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction, if you will, of the relationship," said Cheney. "That matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area."

But that was before the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled the state cannot prevent gays from marrying, before California and New Jersey passed domestic partner laws, before the extreme right in the GOP lambasted him for his support of same-sex rights (albeit limited) and before a Colorado Republican drafted legislation in Congress last year restricting marriage to a "union between a man and a woman."

Now, Cheney says he will support President Bush if the president pursues a ban on gay marriage." Obviously, the president is going to have to make a decision in terms of what administration policy is on this particular provision, and I will support whatever decision he makes," Cheney said in an interview with the Denver Post.

Cheney would not say whether his changed opinion was the result of White House pressure or if he, as the parent of a gay child, has discussed same-sex marriage with the President.

Cheney's daughter Mary is a lesbian and served as an advisor in the 2000 campaign. Prior to that she worked for the Colorado Rockies and the Coors Brewing Co. where, among other duties, she worked on outreach to gays and lesbians. During the 200 campaign the fact she is gay and has a committed partner became national news.

So far Mary Cheney has not commented on her father's new stance on gay marriage or said if she will be involved in his 2004 campaign.

by Doreen Brandt
365Gay.com Newscenter
Washington Bureau
©365Gay.com® 2004

Homos Gone Berserk!

I think I freaked out my mom this past weekend when I told her that LesBiGayTrans rights was the one issue for which I was willing to die (I also added, "But I shouldn't have to, you know?"). But the more I think about it, the more I feel it, not the least of which is because of my pathetic geographic location (Case in point: my boss said to me not too long ago, "You're not gay, are you? 'Cuz they'll string you up around here if you are." When I mustered the courage to call him on that comment he said I "must have taken it the wrong way"). Too, and while no one is more surprised by this than am I, I am suddenly dating someone in this godferasken state. It makes me feel over the moon, and I know what will happen the minute I feel the urge to hold his hand down Main Street just like you know what will happen just like GW Bush knows what will happen. Except GW Bush thinks it's what we deserve. How can I, as a tax-paying, community-minded, conscientious American voter not react to (semi) elected officials who would deny me my right to be a part of this country to the fullest equal extent granted married-for-a-day Britney Fucking Spears? I have few illusions about asking for trouble in Montana--flee to a safe haven vs. stay and slug it out on the fronts. I don't know what is right. It shouldn't require a fight. I know it will come to fighting. Will this country be prepared? And what of my job the day I must explain to my students why their teacher has a black eye and is missing a tooth? I'll tell you what: reality.

The Bush administration's willingness to sack the constitution to appeal to the bible-thumping Right has everything to do with rallying their fundamentalist base, but the issue is more significant than the mere fact of the November election.

Bush's decision to support the House proposal to amend the US Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman has NO CHANCE of passing. Nevertheless, this development is revealing in many ways. First of all, it suggests that Bush is actually aware of his vulnerability in the upcoming election. Although the proposed amendment will not pass the Senate, and is unconstitutional anyway, it stands as an attempt to galvanize the conservative base who worry that gay marriage will undermine traditional patriarchal nuclear families.

The attempt to force the law to conform to Christian morality is, however, particularly interesting, because it begs the question of what it means for a law to pass constitutional muster. Now, many leftists denounce the Constitution as a legal framework for class war. This is the view of notable thinkers such as Howard Zinn, and as an empirical claim it is dead accurate. However, the normative content of the debate about constitutionalism is the inverted truth of political liberalism which must be plucked from the smouldering ashes of the rule of law and reinvented as a triumph of popular sovereignty, rather than its ruination.

But how should the rule of law coincide with popular sovereignty? This is a question of apparent paradoxes - the conflation of the document which tells us what can be considered legal, and the right of the people to author the codes of their society for themselves. I am a constitutionalist, which is to say that I supplement my Marxism with a heavy dose of Rawls and Dworkin. The purpose of the constitution, and of the rule of law in general, is to tie the hands of the faction in power. The constitution sets limits regarding what and what cannot be legislated or decreed by power mongers - in its ideal form it is an obstacle to tyranny.

There is a plurality of approaches to Constitutional interpretation, but only three are relevant for the problem we're talking about now. The first is the view is based on "Original Intention" and holds that the criterion for all questions of interpretation refer to the original intention of the founders. The second is the "positivist" view that standards of right and wrong exist objectively and independently of human history. According to this view, what is right is right transcendentally, as a matter of eternal, or in the case of the Bush administration, divine law. The law must conform to the metaphysical truth of the good. The third and final view is my own, and that of Rawls and Dworkin, the "coherence" view. This view acknowledges that the founders provided a shell document, which would be amended over time as the needs of the public posed conflicts between constitutional principles that would need to be resolved through judicial review. The first view denies the role of the social contract in the development of a body of law, and reduces constitutional claims to a private contract between the founders. The second eliminates the contract altogether and reduces legality to trancendental moral principles which have no direct relation to social context. The third is the only view which redeems popular sovereignty as a normative category. Of course, the founders recognized the pragmatic implication of law - from any particular historical perspective, it is not possible to see the whole. The Constitution was designed to allow the public to reinterpret the judicial horizon to which they would submit themselves.

However, if the Constitution is a pragmatic document, what stands to prevent the religious Right from declaring that the time has come to seek a Constitutional ban on gay marriage? Let me tell you right now, and you Bushies better not forget it. The pragmatic character of the rule of law is bounded by the demand for coherence between not only the original document, but the amendments as well. I take this point straight from Dworkin: as society is shaped by history, revisions and restructuring of principles such as equal protection and rights of privacy must be balanced against one another in ways which cohere with the development of principles and laws themselves.

The Bush administration takes an "original intention" view and a "positivist" view simultaneously. It demands that the law model religious principles, and then referrs back to the "christian" principles that were the supposed intent of the founders. In other words, it flouts the demand for coherence when it plucks principles such as equal opportunity from racial questions (the traditional framework for the development of that particular principle) and applies them arbitrarily to questions of federal support for religious agendas, a debate which has NOT been developed according to such a principle. Basically, it arbitrarily redefines the coherence of the constitution and applies principles, which by their nature are contradictory, without reference to the body of law. It applies rules to cases rather than cases to rules. This is a collapse back into the tyrannical use of law that the founders guarded against, because the law is used to advance a political agenda without being tested against the original document that serves to limit aggressive politics. This is particularly ironic when the Right claims that the founders based the Constitution on religious values. First of all, they did not, and second of all, one cannot claim to uphold half of the original intention of the founders (religion, which was not original intention anyway) and disregard the more central intention - that the law be applied in such a way that the integrity of the law is not compromised.

SO, what stands to show that an amendment to ban gay marriage is unconstitutional? Two things: when deciding what principle is applicable to the question of marriage, the history of the institution and the laws that surround it are the basis for judicial interpretation. The only respect in which the history of the institution of marriage is relevant from a judicial standpoint concerns its function as a mechanism for the patrilineal transfer of property between generations, and the protections of those who are left behind in the event the marriage is terminated by death or divorce. The history of marriage as an expression of religious values is NOT RELEVANT TO THE LAW - to say that it is would be a category mistake.

The second relevant factor is really a more specific application of the first: the history of the civil rights movement. The issue of gay marriage doesn't arise in the legal context of private religious belief (and YES, RELIGIOUS CONVICTION IS PRIVATE DAMMIT! THERE IS A WALL OF SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE! I DON'T CARE IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, YOU MUST ACCEPT IT IF YOU ENDORSE DEMOCRACY - PERIOD, PARAGRAPH), it arises in the context of civil rights law. For this, we must refer back to the fourteenth amendement, section 1, which is as follows:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This is the "Rights Guaranteed Privileges and Immunities of Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection" clause of the constitution, and the basis of the civil rights movement. Now, the argument for the unconstitutionality of a ban on gay marriage proceeds as follows:

P1: Marriage is a legal contract which establishes the rights of property and property transmission, parental protections for minors in their charge, and similar entitlements which are not available between citizens who stand outside such a contract. It provides protections and entitlements which are not available otherwise.

P2: Marriage is a states rights issue which has been regulated between states according to the principle of reciprocity, which ensures that the marriage contract will be respected between the states equally.

P3: As the Dred Scott case illustrated, equal protections under the law is not contingent upon a particular state's interpretation of citizen rights. Dred Scott was free in one state and unfree in another, this caused a constitutional crisis which was eventually resolved in the Fourteenth Amendment, which means there must be coherence between states which have differing judgments on questions of morality (as opposed to legality).

P4: The federal court must step in to review the problem of reciprocity between the states over the issue of gay marriage, given the fact that many citizens are coming to the inevitable conclusion that withholding the legal right to marriage on the basis of a moral interpretation is unconstitutional. Citizens are now in the process of exercising recently recognized rights to marriage which without coherence and reciprocity between the states will cause a breakdown of the institution.

P5: When the high court rules, it must refer back to the fourteenth amendment to clarify the coherence of the law from a legal, not a moral, framework. The question must be whether there is any constitutional justification for denying equal opportunity to rights for all citizens on the basis of sexual orientation. This is in constrast to the Bush position that marriage is a "sacred" institution. This position cannot be the basis of legal precedent, nor can it subvert legal precedents which already define the institution. Marriage is at this point defined constitutionally ONLY in juridical, not moral terms. There is no constitutional basis for its redefinition.

P6: The moral perspective which underlies the campaign against the constitutional extension of the rights and protections of marriage for citizens cannot define sexual orientation as a principle by which the legal contract is provided for some and not others. In other words, sexual orientation is not relevant to the constitutional right to marry.

C: Since marriage is a legal institution it cannot be construed as having a theological foundation, and therefore religion cannot specify sexual orientation as a demarcation for selective extension. The high court must declare that religious views cannot determine equal access to rights and privileges of citizenship, and enforce reciprocity between the states for equal recognizition of same sex marriage, much as it did when it outlawed segregation at the national level.

The question for Constitutional coherence is whether, in the face of historical change, we will apply constitutional principles to cases as if they were transcendentally self-evident, and from which we could deduce the proper decision in hard cases, rather than looking at the particular case and deciding how it must cohere in the body of law. The Bush position is that divine law - that which endows marriage with sacred meaning - exists out there somewhere and can be handed down for all citizens without the protection of judicial review based on the particularity of accumulated historical experience. Judge Hercules has had his job outsourced to Port au Prince.

Or, How Lou Dobbs Redeemed His Conservativism in One Fell Swoop

The following is a transcript from Lou Dobbs' Moneyline, in which he flays Conservative ideologue Catherine Mann for her role as the heroine of outsourcing, and shows that she cannot specifiy any way in which outsourcing is ultimately a long term benefit for the US economy.

My guest tonight is also a supporter of outsourcing. Catherine Mann is senior fellow at the Institute For International Economics.

And it is a pleasure, Dr. Mann, to have you with us.


DOBBS: You are quoted roundly, extensively as -- one would almost think you were the architect of outsourcing American jobs to overseas labor markets.

I've talked with CEOs. I've talked with journalists, various people, all walks of life who say, Dr. Catherine Mann says it's a great idea. In point of fact, we're losing jobs. We have a huge trade deficit. We have major issues in this economy. How can we defend it?

MANN: Well, I think we want to divide it up into a couple much different pieces.

First, if we go back to the 1990s -- and I think it's important to go back to that same period, because it was a period of time when the U.S. economy expanded at a more than 4 percent rate for an extended period of time. Unemployment fell to below 4 percent, stayed there for a while. This was also a period of time where the external balance, the trade deficit, widened even more than it has to date.

And it was a time when there was a tremendous amount of outsourcing. So if we go back to the 1990s, we find that there is a very strong growth, strong productivity, lots of job creation at the same time as there is outsourcing. So the question is, what is different today?

DOBBS: Just to be clear, Dr. Mann, when you say outsourcing, during the '90s, there was not outsourcing to cheap foreign labor markets compared to anything that we've seen in the last few years in this country, based on our research.

MANN: Well, I think we have to be very careful. I mean, data are open to interpretation. But in terms of...

DOBBS: I think we should say, too, that data here is dismal.

MANN: Terrible. Yes, we will agree on that, no question.

DOBBS: You and I are agreeing too much already.

MANN: Well, I think what we need to go back to is, how much has outsourcing contributed to GDP growth, and to productivity growth and to job creation. We do have enough data to look at some of the numbers with respect to information technology. How important that was in the 1990s for generating the economic condition.

What's different today, and what I think is key to addressing this question today, is that it's services. Even the manufacturing jobs that we see outsourced today, the higher proportion of them are in the services. The blue collar workers got outsourced in the 1990s, increasingly it's the people who are in the corner office -- not the corner office, but in the other offices and the cubes with the computers who are also being outsourced.

DOBBS: That loud cheer you heard go up when you said corner office was from those who have been outsourced some distance from that office.

MANN: Right. Well, so the issue is, is that there are more jobs being outsourced in the services sector. Not just manufacturing, but also services sector. So it's white collar jobs that we're addressing here.

The change has been very rapid. The scope of the labor force that's being affected by outsourcing is much broader, because, of course, white collar jobs are a larger share. Plus, the skill level of the jobs that are currently vulnerable is higher than it used to be.

What that means is that there are many more people who are at risk, and that is a recipe for coming up with better public policy to address the issue of adjustment that has been ignored up to now.

DOBBS: That public policy to now has led us under the guise of what I refer to simply as the polar extremes of those who would like to distort the argument. As you well know, there is no such thing as free trade. We have people who say they're free trade proponents, meanwhile they're watching subsidized agriculture in this country in the tens of billions of dollars, manufacturing as well, through the export/import bank (ph), all of the others, or on the other polar extreme of that argument is protectionism. No one, to my knowledge, has advocated protectionism. But those who want to defend the status quo under the name, the rubric of free trade and the outsourcing of jobs, say, well, if you manage your policy, that's protectionism.

But does it not seem to you that what we really are talking about in both instances, whether it be protectionism or free trade, is sort of faith-based economics? And in point of fact, sort of absolves all of us from the responsibility for the fact that we have a $3 trillion trade debt. We have a $7 trillion public debt. And we have a program of outsourcing in corporate America right now that is devastating, potentially.

MANN: Well, again, trade is currently the lightning rod for everything that's wrong in the U.S. economy. And it's certainly the case that job creation...

DOBBS: I would suggest to you -- I would suggest to you, Dr. Mann, I could give you a list of a lot of things that are wrong. But this is the one we're focusing on.

MANN: But my point is, is that trade policy is being viewed as the only tool we have available to us to effect change. What I'm arguing is that what we ought to be focusing on is not trade policy per se, but look at the source of the issue, which is worker adjustment questions, how to get that person from one job to another, if they become -- you know, if they lose their job. And more importantly, as we're seeing more of the high skilled jobs being vulnerable, is how do we take the worker who is incumbent in the workplace and move them up the skill ladder. Those are really the essence of the issue, and we want to be able to have workers move from one job to another. That's part of the advantage of the U.S. economy.

DOBBS: Absolutely. The mobility of our workforce, our hard- working middle class, across the board, that's absolutely critical.

But what I hear you saying is that the only response outside of trade policy on a short-term basis is to simply -- to retrain, to train as a response. That's to deal with the result of what is, in my opinion, a trade policy that's been pure folly.

Why would it not be within the purview of trade policy to say, yes, we're going to make a determination about what kind of country we want this to be. We want to preserve a standard of living, a quality of life, and that it's not all about return on investment or short- term profits on Wall Street, that there is a responsibility to the stakeholder. And I know that goes well beyond the purview of your studies. But isn't it central to economics to consider those questions, the value question?

MANN: Well, the value question, for sure, means that we ought to be focusing on the worker. We ought to be focusing on training. And I'm glad to see you're going to be working on education for the next -- for this week, in terms of your special programs. But trade policy as a response to what is a longer term issue, is missing the point. I mean, trade policy is relevant. It certainly is. And there are a number of issues that we ought to address. For example, one of the big reasons for why we have a trade deficit as large as it is today, and I agree that that's a big issue, is that there has been a collapse in export growth.

DOBBS: That's right.

MANN: And part of that is the dollar. Part of that is slow growth abroad. Part of that is not having open markets for competitive U.S. service providers, who, as you know, the service sector is the one area that actually has a balance of trade surplus, and not a deficit.

DOBBS: Dr. Mann, as you -- we're going to have to leave it here. I hope you'll come back as we discuss this and try to illuminate it. And as you suggest, free trade has hardly been reciprocal in most instances, and we've paid the price for it.

MANN: Right, yes.

DOBBS: Dr. Catherine Mann, great to have you here. Please come back soon.

MANN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

Or, "Congress is Sick" and Other Marxist Observations by America's Most Beloved Civil Rights Leader

Why was it such a big deal that Bush laid a wreath on the grave of Martin Luther King Jr. at the same time he was waging an aggressive, illegal war on behalf of the American military industrial complex? Most folks can't really explain why, and often express the view that those who were angry ought to just get over it. The problem, however, is the historical re-definition of King's legacy. This is a redefinition so extreme that even the radical Republican oligarchy attempt to align themselves with his message. King has become a sort of washed-out figure whose mantle any asshold can take up if he wants to make himself look good to nostalgic whites.

But this "openness" of the King legacy is only possible once we have emptied his views of any substantial content. Only a scant few decades after his death, Americans have managed to canonize Martin Luther King jr. as a saintly, pacifistic liberal preacher. In the process we have forgotten that King was a political radical with a contempt for capitalism that qualifies him as one of the most important Marxist-influenced activists of the 20th century. This February, why not get in touch with what Martin really advocated? If we continue to view him as the washed-out impotent saint, we'll always be missing the most fundamental issues of the struggle for civil rights which remain unredressed to this very day.

Here is an article on King myths and reality which can be found here. A note about this essay, though, it is written by a conservative undergraduate who argues that conservatives should not find a role model in King. So, it's not useful for the force of the normative claims, but for its description of King's actual positions on key social issues. For that reason i'm going to edit out his blathering on marital infidelity and plagiarism - those discussions are immaterial. One particular point of contention I have with the author concerns his view that King has become palatable to the Right because the Right has moved to the left. This is inaccurate claptrap for the most part. King has become palatable to the right because they see claiming his legacy as a means for capturing the votes of black folk without having to legislate in their interests. It's not ideological growth, it's the cunning hypocrisy of politics.

Myths of Martin Luther King
by Marcus Epstein

There is probably no greater sacred cow in America than Martin Luther King Jr. The slightest criticism of him or even suggesting that he isn’t deserving of a national holiday leads to the usual accusations of racist, fascism, and the rest of the usual left-wing epithets not only from liberals, but also from many ostensible conservatives and libertarians.

This is amazing because during the 50s and 60s, the Right almost unanimously opposed the civil rights movement. Contrary to the claims of many neocons, the opposition was not limited to the John Birch Society and southern conservatives. It was made by politicians like Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, and in the pages of Modern Age, Human Events, National Review, and the Freeman.

Today, the official conservative and libertarian movement portrays King as someone on our side who would be fighting Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton if he were alive. Most all conservative publications and websites have articles around this time of the year praising King and discussing how today’s civil rights leaders are betraying his legacy. Jim Powell’s otherwise excellent The Triumph of Liberty rates King next to Ludwig von Mises and Albert J. Nock as a libertarian hero. Attend any IHS seminar, and you’ll read "A letter from a Birmingham Jail" as a great piece of anti-statist wisdom. The Heritage Foundation regularly has lectures and symposiums honoring his legacy. There are nearly a half dozen neocon and left-libertarian think tanks and legal foundations with names such as "The Center for Equal Opportunity" and the "American Civil Rights Institute" which claim to model themselves after King.

Why is a man once reviled by the Right now celebrated by it as a hero? The answer partly lies in the fact that the mainstream Right has gradually moved to the left since King’s death. The influx of many neoconservative intellectuals, many of whom were involved in the civil rights movement, into the conservative movement also contributes to the King phenomenon. This does not fully explain the picture, because on many issues King was far to the left of even the neoconservatives, and many King admirers even claim to adhere to principles like freedom of association and federalism. The main reason is that they have created a mythical Martin Luther King Jr., that they constructed solely from one line in his "I Have a Dream" speech.

In this article, I will try to dispel the major myths that the conservative movement has about King. I found a good deal of the information for this piece in I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King by black leftist Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson shows that King supported black power, reparations, affirmative action, and socialism. He believes this made King even more admirable. He also deals frankly with King’s philandering and plagiarism, though he excuses them. If you don’t mind reading his long discussions about gangsta rap and the like, I strongly recommend this book.

Myth #1: King wanted only equal rights, not special privileges and would have opposed affirmative action, quotas, reparations, and the other policies pursued by today’s civil rights leadership.

This is probably the most repeated myth about King. Writing on National Review Online, There Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding wrote a piece entitled "Martin Luther King’s Conservative Mind," where he wrote, "An agenda that advocates quotas, counting by race and set-asides takes us away from King's vision."

The problem with this view is that King openly advocated quotas and racial set-asides. He wrote that the "Negro today is not struggling for some abstract, vague rights, but for concrete improvement in his way of life." When equal opportunity laws failed to achieve this, King looked for other ways. In his book Where Do We Go From Here, he suggested that "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him, to equip him to compete on a just and equal basis." To do this he expressed support for quotas. In a 1968 Playboy interview, he said, "If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas." King was more than just talk in this regard. Working through his Operation Breadbasket, King threatened boycotts of businesses that did not hire blacks in proportion to their population.

King was even an early proponent of reparations. In his 1964 book, Why We Can’t Wait, he wrote,
No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America down through the centuries…Yet a price can be placed on unpaid wages. The ancient common law has always provided a remedy for the appropriation of a the labor of one human being by another. This law should be made to apply for American Negroes. The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measures which could be regarded as a settlement in accordance with the accepted practice of common law.
Predicting that critics would note that many whites were equally disadvantaged, King claimed that his program, which he called the "Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged" would help poor whites as well. This is because once the blacks received reparations, the poor whites would realize that their real enemy was rich whites.

Myth # 2: King was an American patriot, who tried to get Americans to live up to their founding ideals.

In National Review, Roger Clegg wrote that "There may have been a brief moment when there existed something of a national consensus – a shared vision eloquently articulated in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, with deep roots in the American Creed, distilled in our national motto, E pluribus unum. Most Americans still share it, but by no means all." Many other conservatives have embraced this idea of an American Creed that built upon Jefferson and Lincoln, and was then fulfilled by King and libertarians like Clint Bolick and neocons like Bill Bennett.

Despite his constant invocations of the Declaration of Independence, King did not have much pride in America’s founding. He believed "our nation was born in genocide," and claimed that the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were meaningless for blacks because they were written by slave owners.

Myth # 3: King was a Christian activist whose struggle for civil rights is similar to the battles fought by the Christian Right today.

Ralph Reed claims that King’s "indispensable genius" provided "the vision and leadership that renewed and made crystal clear the vital connection between religion and politics." He proudly admitted that the Christian Coalition "adopted many elements of King’s style and tactics." The pro-life group, Operation Rescue, often compared their struggle against abortion to King’s struggle against segregation. In a speech entitled The Conservative Virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King, Bill Bennet described King, as "not primarily a social activist, he was primarily a minister of the Christian faith, whose faith informed and directed his political beliefs."

Both King’s public stands and personal behavior makes the comparison between King and the Religious Right questionable.


King also took stands that most in the Christian Right would disagree with. When asked about the Supreme Court’s decision to ban school prayer, King responded,

I endorse it. I think it was correct. Contrary to what many have said, it sought to outlaw neither prayer nor belief in god. In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right.

While King died before the Roe vs. Wade decision, and, to the best of my knowledge, made no comments on abortion, he was an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood. He even won their Margaret Sanger Award in 1966 and had his wife give a speech entitled Family Planning – A Special and Urgent Concern which he wrote. In the speech, he did not compare the civil rights movement to the struggle of Christian Conservatives, but he did say "there is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger's early efforts."

Myth # 4: King was an anti-communist.

In another article about Martin Luther King, Roger Clegg of National Review applauds King for speaking out against the "oppression of communism!" To gain the support of many liberal whites, in the early years, King did make a few mild denunciations of communism. He also claimed in a 1965 Playboy that there "are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida." This was a bald-faced lie. Though King was never a Communist and was always critical of the Soviet Union, he had knowingly surrounded himself with Communists. His closest advisor Stanley Levison was a Communist, as was his assistant Jack O’Dell. Robert and later John F. Kennedy repeatedly warned him to stop associating himself with such subversives, but he never did. He frequently spoke before Communist front groups such as the National Lawyers Guild and Lawyers for Democratic Action. King even attended seminars at The Highlander Folk School, another Communist front, which taught Communist tactics, which he later employed.

King’s sympathy for communism may have contributed to his opposition to the Vietnam War, which he characterized as a racist, imperialistic, and unjust war. King claimed that America "had committed more war crimes than any nation in the world." While he acknowledged the NLF "may not be paragons of virtue," he never criticized them. However, he was rather harsh on Diem and the South. He denied that the NLF was communist, and believed that Ho Chi Minh should have been the legitimate ruler of Vietnam. As a committed globalist, he believed that "our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation. This means we must develop a world perspective."

Many of King’s conservative admirers have no problem calling anyone who questions American foreign policy a "fifth columnist." While I personally agree with King on some of his stands on Vietnam, it is hypocritical for those who are still trying to get Jane Fonda tried for sedition to applaud King.

Myth # 5: King supported the free market.

OK, you don’t hear this too often, but it happens. For example, Father Robert A. Sirico delivered a paper to the Acton Institute entitled Civil Rights and Social Cooperation. In it, he wrote,

A freer economy would take us closer to the ideals of the pioneers in this country's civil rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized this when he wrote: "With the growth of industry the folkways of white supremacy will gradually pass away," and he predicted that such growth would "Increase the purchasing power of the Negro [which in turn] will result in improved medical care, greater educational opportunities, and more adequate housing. Each of these developments will result in a further weakening of segregation."

King of course was a great opponent of the free economy. In a speech in front of his staff in 1966 he said,

You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry… Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong…with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.

King called for "totally restructuring the system" in a way that was not capitalist or "the antithesis of communist." For more information on King’s economic views, see Lew Rockwell’s The Economics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Myth # 6: King was a conservative.

As all the previous myths show, King’s views were hardly conservative. If this was not enough, it is worth noting what King said about the two most prominent postwar American conservative politicians, Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.

King accused Barry Goldwater of "Hitlerism." He believed that Goldwater advocated a "narrow nationalism, a crippling isolationism, and a trigger-happy attitude." On domestic issues he felt that "Mr. Goldwater represented an unrealistic conservatism that was totally out of touch with the realities of the twentieth century." King said that Goldwater’s positions on civil rights were "morally indefensible and socially suicidal."

King said of Reagan, "When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor, can become a leading war hawk candidate for the presidency, only the irrationalities induced by war psychosis can explain such a turn of events."

Despite King’s harsh criticisms of those men, both supported the King holiday. Goldwater even fought to keep King’s FBI files, which contained information about his adulterous sex life and Communist connections, sealed.


When faced with these facts, most of King’s conservative and libertarian fans either say they weren’t part of his main philosophy, or usually they simply ignore them. Slightly before the King Holiday was signed into law, Governor Meldrim Thompson of New Hampshire wrote a letter to Ronald Reagan expressing concerns about King’s morality and Communist connections. Ronald Reagan responded, "I have the reservations you have, but here the perception of too many people is based on an image, not reality. Indeed, to them the perception is reality."

Far too many on the Right are worshipping that perception. Rather than face the truth about King’s views, they create a man based upon a few lines about judging men "by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin" – something we are not supposed to do in his case, of course – while ignoring everything else he said and did. If King is truly an admirable figure, they are doing his legacy a disservice by using his name to promote an agenda he clearly would not have supported.

January 18, 2003

Marcus Epstein [send him mail] is an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, where he is president of the college libertarians and editor of the conservative newspaper, The Remnant. A selection of his articles can be seen here.

Copyright © 2003 LewRockwell.com


Terrorism was a convenient pretext, wasn't it?

Bush admits wanting new Iraqi regime before 9/11
Invasion plot not addressed

By PATTY REINERT Jan. 13, 2004, 6:13AM
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

MONTERREY, Mexico -- President Bush acknowledged Monday that he has been in favor of regime change in Iraq since entering the White House.

But he dodged the question of whether he was plotting direct U.S. military action to take out Saddam Hussein long before Sept. 11, 2001.

"The stated policy of my administration towards Saddam Hussein was very clear. Like the previous administration, we were for regime change," Bush said. "And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with Desert Badger, or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, as so we were fashioning policy along those lines. And then, all of a sudden, September the 11th hit."

The remarks were Bush's first response to criticism from former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who contends in a new book that Bush was already planning to oust Saddam within days of taking office.

The former Iraqi dictator was forced into hiding when a U.S.-led coalition defied former allies to launch an invasion of the country last March. Saddam was captured late last year and is being held for trial.

Bush justified the preemptive strike by saying military action was necessary to strip the country of weapons of mass destruction. The theory was that Saddam could use the weapons himself, or they could fall into the hands of terrorists.

On Monday, Bush was asked to respond to O'Neill's allegations during a joint news conference with Mexican President Vicente Fox after the two leaders met on the fringes of the 34-nation Special Summit of the Americas.

Asked if he felt betrayed by O'Neill, Bush said, "I appreciate former Secretary O'Neill's service to our country. We worked together during some difficult times."

Bush said that after Sept. 11, the most solemn obligation of a president is to protect his people. "And I took that duty very seriously," he said.

"And as you know, not only did we deal with the Taliban ... we made it clear that Saddam Hussein should disarm. And like he had done with a lot of previous resolutions, he ignored the world's demands. And now he's no longer in power, and the world is better for it."

Bush's Democratic rivals for the White House have made claims on the campaign trail that the president had always planned to attack Iraq in revenge against Saddam, who attempted to assassinate his father, the first President Bush, in 1993.

But Bush said it was the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks along the East Coast that changed his view of his nation's security.

"September the 11th made me realize that America was no longer protected by oceans, and we had to take threats very seriously no matter where they may be materializing," he said.

Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked about O'Neill's contention that the White House began discussing Saddam's ouster at the first National Security Council meeting of Bush's fledgling administration in January 2001.

McClellan didn't deny the issue was discussed. But he said the president "exhausted all possible means to resolve the situation in Iraq peacefully" before attacking.

"And the president believes, in the aftermath of September 11th, that it's important to confront threats before it's too late," McClellan said.

He added that the book, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill, was "more about trying to justify personal views and opinions" than about looking at all Bush has achieved.

Or, Why The Bush Economy is Trickling Down W's Leg

In the last month i have seen everyone from Bush administration officials, their pundits and spokesmen and even Steve Fucking Forbes defend the "hot new trend" in measuring job growth. Instead of looking at jobs created/terminated, they propose to interview households and find out how many members of the family have a job. THis way, they claim, we will see that there has been a net INCREASE in the rate of job creation.

One of the most obvious problems with this is that it doesn't account for the fact that companies are now dividing ONE job amongst TWO or THREE people - commonly called "job sharing." One job can now get counted at least twice if not three times. In a similar vein, it reports less directly on whether jobs are full or part time, whether they are living wage jobs or McJobs with no benefits and which are frequently given out to non-citizen workers who will accept less compensation and benefits. This is their best resource for disguising the largest number of lost jobs since the Hoover administration.

But listen to what economic analysts actually say. Here are links to two essays on the nature of the deceptive methodology by Daniel Gross, one from Oct. 2003 and another published as recently as January. Both can be found at www.slate.msn.com.

The partisan duel over the latest Bush trick to embellish economic data.
By Daniel Gross
Posted Friday, Oct. 3, 2003, at 2:27 PM PT

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly payroll and unemployment numbers have become the hottest economic data in the presidential campaign. Republicans cite any uptick as a sign of the incipient Bush boom, fueled by the brilliantly calibrated tax cuts, and Democrats tout any payroll decline as further evidence of miserable failure. (In September, for the first time since January, the economy added payroll jobs—some 57,000. Temporary jobs, a potential harbinger of growth increased by more than 30,000.)

But in recent weeks, there's been an emerging campaign, mostly by Bush partisans, to discredit the BLS payroll numbers. It is both a serious economic inquiry and a political effort to distract attention from the ugly job figures.

Last Friday, on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Allan Meltzer, an economist at Carnegie Mellon and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute pleaded: "Don't believe the widely reported loss of millions of manufacturing jobs since the Bush administration took office." Why? "All these alleged facts are either wrong or greatly exaggerated, based on the same faulty source."

That "faulty source" is the BLS Establishment Survey, which provides the payroll jobs number. Instead of relying on the Establishment Survey, Meltzer says, we should pay attention to the BLS Household Survey, on which the unemployment rate is based. "For the year ending in August, the Establishment Survey shows a loss of 463,000 jobs. The Household Survey shows that the economy added 313,000 new jobs in the same period."
What gives? It turns out the Bureau of Labor Statistics each month takes snapshots of the labor market using two different cameras. Each ends up photographing slightly different phenomena, and each has its own flaws and quirks.

To compile the Establishment Survey, BLS gathers data from some 400,000 businesses around the country and then estimates the total number of jobs. This survey explicitly does not include people who work in agriculture. The payroll data don't capture the self-employed, newly formed businesses, or domestic employees. For that reason, the survey might be expected routinely to undercount the number of adults who are actually working. In September, it found that there were 129.9 million Americans with "jobs."

By contrast, the Household Survey is based on surveys of individuals in 60,000 households. It includes farm workers, the self-employed, and people who may work off the books, such as nannies. And it has a rather liberal interpretation of what constitutes a job. "If you did any work for pay or profit in their own business, even as much as one hour of work during the survey reference," that counts as a job, says BLS economist Karen Kosanovich. (For a full explanation of how the government calculates unemployment, see here.) In September, the Household Survey found there were 137.6 million Americans with jobs.

That's a big difference—nearly 8 million—especially at a time when the numbers have such large political consequence. So, you can see why Bush partisans might want to boost the Household Survey.

By relying on existing businesses, the Establishment Survey may miss potential growth, especially when a recovery is underway. But it doesn't only underestimate. There are ways in which the Establishment Survey can overcount. Say you work 20 hours at Starbucks and 30 hours at Wal-Mart in a week, you'll be counted as two payroll jobs when you're really only one employed person. There are about 7 million such multiple job holders in the United States. Plus, while it's slow to count new companies, the Establishment is also slow to register dying companies. "The payroll survey probably overstates the weakness in the job market. I just don't think it overstates it by any significant amount," says Mark Zandi, the straight-shooting chief economist of Economy.com.

And even with its flaws, the Establishment Survey is "measurably more accurate than the Household Survey," says Zandi. It's bigger and more comprehensive. BLS says it has become more adept at latching onto new companies, by, for example, checking state records more frequently.

The Household Survey has its share of fuzzy math, too. BLS economists make calculations based on sampling and the census' estimate of population, which is a constantly moving target. One of the reasons the household figures look so good is that a census revision caused it to add more than 500,000 working Americans in January.

It's important to remember that the monthly numbers BLS reports are preliminary and the bureau often revises the monthly data it has already reported. In his paper, John Kitchen suggested that in a period when the Household Survey is rising, we should expect the payroll surveys to be revised sharply upward—in other words, BLS should provide ex post facto acknowledgement that it misread the true health of the job market. But so far in this cycle, that has yet to happen—in fact, BLS is actually revising recent figures slightly downward—suggesting that the Household Survey increases aren't yet as significant as its advocates hope.

The Establishment Survey may not be the best means for predicting job growth in the future. But the Household Survey, it turns out, isn't necessarily a better means for predicting job growth in the past.

It's the Data, Stupid
How Bush explains away America's employment problems.
By Daniel Gross
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004, at 11:34 AM PT

Some of the harshest criticism of President Bush's State of the Union address came from unlikely quarters. Andrew Sullivan dubbed it Bush's worst yet, in part because he displayed "complete insouciance toward the deficit and, more importantly, toward those who have not yet benefited from the economic recovery. ... To brag about a growing economy without some kind of passage of empathy for those still struggling reveals major political obtuseness."

The job market is plainly pretty lame. The economy created just 1,000 payroll jobs in December, even though economists had expected it to create at least 150,000. The unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent, but largely because hundreds of thousands of Americans stopped looking for work.

For Bush to acknowledge this directly in a State of the Union address would only provide an opening to opponents. But it's not just politics—obtuse or astute—that account for the president's skirting of the issue, or so the administration says. According to Bush and his supporters, the problem isn't the weak job market. It's the data that suck.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures employment in two ways. In the Establishment Survey, it gathers payroll data from 400,000 companies and then estimates how many Americans have jobs at companies. The payroll figures are derived from these numbers. The Household Survey is based on surveys of individuals in 60,000 households, and it produces the unemployment rate. Occasionally, the two surveys show divergent trends in job growth, and the payroll survey has been known to undercount jobs when an economy is coming out of recession. Last October, I dubbed the debate over the two surveys "antidisestablishmentarianism."

In the past two weeks, antidisestablishmentarianism has become the creed the White House and its sympathizers are busy broadcasting. After the December employment was released on Jan. 9, Brian Wesbury, chief economist at Griffin, Kubik, Stephens & Thomson, Inc. and a noted antidisestablishmentarian wrote in this report: "there is something terribly wrong with the non-farm payroll statistics and the Establishment survey that produces them. We find it very hard to believe that the December increase of just 1,000 jobs was anywhere near accurate."

In his brief reaction, Treasury Secretary John Snow engaged in another favorite antidisestablishmentarian tactic. He changed the subject from unfavorable payrolls to the more favorable unemployment rate. "Following five months of job growth, the unemployment rate fell in December to a 14-month low."

Next, N. Gregory Mankiw, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, tried to put an epistemological sheen on the antidisestablishmentarian line in an interview with Louis Uchitelle of the New York Times:

[Mankiw] said in an interview that the official job count showing 1,000 new jobs in December was not accurate by itself. "I view all economic statistics as imperfect," he said. "They have to be taken with a grain of salt." In challenging the reliability of the official count, Mr. Mankiw sought to water down its message, which is that 2.3 million jobs have disappeared since President Bush took office in January 2001. ... The household survey has employment rising by 689,000 jobs in the Bush years. "I am not going to take a stand as to which survey is more meaningful," Mr. Mankiw said—challenging in effect the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Congressional Budget Office, which have declared the establishment survey the more reliable one.

The comparatively strong Household Survey figures were also one of the reasons cited by Republicans in Congress when they decided not to extend unemployment benefits last month.

Last night, Bush didn't mention many specifics about jobs figures other than to note that "Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise." (Of course, high productivity is one reason that jobs may not be on the rise.) His grab bag of proposals called "Jobs for the 21st Century"—more emphasis on reading and math in schools, encouraging science professionals to teach in high schools, more Pell Grants, and more cash for community colleges—dodged the question of employment doldrums.

At this late date, changing the subject and casting doubt on the validity of payroll numbers seems like the best strategy for Bush appointees and supporters. It's looking ever more likely that Bush will indeed be the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a four-year term in which payroll jobs fell. Does that sound a wee bit demagogic? Absolutely. Under Hoover, the nation lost 24 percent of its payroll jobs. Under Bush, the United States has lost fewer than 2 percent. But it's effective rhetoric.


Their claim of course is that war was the last option. When all the evidence is added up, it appears that it was the first. As it has been infamously put: patriotism is the first, last and perennial refuge of scoundrels. If the world could not wait for the UN inspection team to find the weapons before war was necessary, you'd think the administration would have given them the resources to find them. Now of course, we know the information was pure fabrication.

(full text from www.MercuryNews.com)
U.S. Withheld Iraq Arms Details
New York Times
Posted on Sat, Feb. 21 2004

WASHINGTON - The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged that it did not provide the United Nations with information about 21 of the 105 sites in Iraq singled out by U.S. intelligence before the war as the most highly suspected of housing illicit weapons.

The acknowledgment, in a Jan. 20 letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., contradicts public statements before the war by top Bush administration officials.

Both George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said the United States had briefed U.N. inspectors on all of the sites identified as ``high value and moderate value'' in the weapons hunt.

The contradiction is significant because congressional opponents of the war were arguing a year ago that the U.N. inspectors should be given more time to complete their search before the United States and its allies began the invasion. The White House, bolstered by Tenet, insisted that it was fully cooperating with the inspectors, and at daily briefings the White House issued assurances that the administration was providing the inspectors with the best information possible.

In a telephone interview on Friday, Levin said he now believed that Tenet had misled Congress, which he described as ``totally unacceptable.''

Senior administration officials said Friday night that Rice had relied on information provided by intelligence agencies when she assured Levin, in a letter on March 6, 2003, that ``United Nations inspectors have been briefed on every high or medium priority weapons of mass destruction, missile and UAV-related site the U.S. intelligence community has identified.'' Tenet said much the same thing in testimony on Feb. 12, 2003.

(while Garner admits an opportunistic bid to expand American military presence in the Middle East)

(full text here at www.AlterNet.org)

One piece in the puzzle of "inconsistencies" is becoming clearer - the relationship between US intelligence and the Iraqi National Congress, a group of exiled nationalists who told the Bush administration what it wanted to hear in the hopes of getting a sweet deal like Hamid Karzai. Chalabi, who gained not only politically but economically, stands to retain a large share of power in any provisional government and yet had not been in Iraq prior to the 2003 US invasions for decades. His family left when he was still a young boy.

Notice that the article ends with a frank admission from Jay Garner that a primary motivation for the war was to establish bases under a regime friendly to US interests to accomodate the loss of military presence in Saudi Arabia. What a surprise.
Bush Lies Uncovered

By Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service
February 23, 2004

For those still puzzling over the why the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq, two key players offered important, but curiously unnoticed, clues this week.

Statements made by both men confirmed growing suspicions that the Bush administration's drive to war in Iraq had very little, if anything, to do with the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or his alleged ties to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda – the two main reasons the U.S. Congress and public were given for the invasion.

Separate statements by Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and U.S. retired Gen Jay Garner, who was in charge of planning and administering post-war reconstruction from January through May 2002, suggest that other, less public motives were behind the war, none of which concerned self-defense, pre-emptive or otherwise.

The statement by Chalabi, on whom the neo-conservative and right-wing hawks in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office are still resting their hopes for a White House-friendly transition to self-rule, will certainly interest congressional committees investigating why the intelligence on WMD before the war was so far off the mark.

In a remarkably frank interview with the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, Chalabi said he was willing to take full responsibility for the INC's role in providing misleading intelligence to George Bush, Congress and the U.S. public to persuade them that Hussein posed a serious threat to the United States that had to be dealt with urgently.

The Telegraph reported that Chalabi merely shrugged off accusations his group had deliberately misled the administration, saying, ''We are heroes in error.''

"As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful," he told the newspaper. "That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants."

It was an amazing admission, and certain to fuel growing suspicions on Capitol Hill that Chalabi, whose INC received millions of dollars in taxpayer money over the past decade, effectively conspired with his supporters in and around the administration to take the United States to war on pretenses they knew, or had reason to know, were false.

Indeed, it now appears increasingly clear that defectors handled by the INC were sources for the most spectacular and detailed – if completely unfounded – information about Hussein's alleged WMD programs, offered not only to U.S. intelligence agencies, but also to U.S. mainstream media, especially the New York Times, according to a recent report in the New York Review of Books.

Within the administration, Chalabi worked most closely with those who had championed his cause for a decade, particularly neoconservatives close to Cheney and Rumsfeld – Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby.


It appears that Chalabi, whose family has extensive interests in a company that has already been awarded more than $400 million in reconstruction contracts, is signaling his willingness to take all of the blame, or credit, for the faulty intelligence.

But other statements made by Jay Garner this week in an interview with The National Journal suggest that the administration had its own reasons for the war. Asked how long U.S. troops might remain in Iraq, Garner replied, ''I hope they're there a long time," and then compared U.S. goals in Iraq to U.S. military bases in the Philippines between 1898 and 1992.

''One of the most important things we can do right now is start getting basing rights with (the Iraqi authorities)," he said. ''And I think we'll have basing rights in the north and basing rights in the south ... we'd want to keep at least a brigade."

Garner added, ''Look back on the Philippines around the turn of the 20th century: they were a coaling station for the navy, and that allowed us to keep a great presence in the Pacific. That's what Iraq is for the next few decades: our coaling station that gives us great presence in the Middle East."

While U.S. military strategists have hinted for some time that a major goal of war was to establish several bases in Iraq, particularly given the ongoing military withdrawal from Saudi Arabia, Garner is the first to state it so baldly. Until now, U.S. military chiefs have suggested they need to retain a military presence just to ensure stability for several years, after which they expect to draw down their forces.


Jim Lobe writes about U.S. foreign policy for Tom Paine, AlterNet, and Foreign Policy in Focus

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