It is a shame when some people feel their counter-arguments are so weak that they must resort to such attacks.
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How much damage can one man inflict and still be treated like a saint and savior in Washington?
Ben Bernanke’s career answers that question. The Establishment media has rallied around the current Fed chairman as if his reign was the triumph of wisdom and goodness – instead of a debacle of bursting bubbles and ruined lives.
Even though the Federal Reserve is supposedly independent [insert guffaw here] – Bernanke will not be permitted to continue in his job unless the Senate votes this week to grant him another term.
Sen. Russell Feingold, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. Byron Dorgan announced last week that they will vote against another term for Bernanke. Unfortunately, I doubt that most Republican senators will have the courage or gumption of these Democrats on this vote.
The Senate will be voting on Bernanke while having little or no idea what the Federal Reserve has done in recent years. That is why Congress must pass Ron Paul’s legislation to Audit the Fed.
These are only first steps, but they would be a giant leap back in the direction of fiscal sanity. The Federal Reserve has been bankrolling the war machine in this country for decades, and a loss for the Fed would make it more difficult to use a charge card for the current or next war.
Continuing on the subject of Eliâ€™s last post, it might be worthwhile to examine in more depth the burgeoning alliance between right-wing supporters of Israel and the European far right. The importance of this topic was driven home by the publication of a new Gallup poll on Americansâ€™ attitudes towards various religions. The poll, which found that over half of Americans view Islam unfavorably, also found that â€œthe strongest predictor of prejudice against Muslims is whether a person holds similar feelings about Jews.â€
While the poll deals with the American rather than the European context, it is a reminder that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have typically gone hand in hand. This is worth remembering when looking at the rise of European far-right leaders like Jean-Marie Le Pen of France and the late Jorg Haider of Austria. Hostility to Muslim immigrants forms the centerpiece of their political stance, but their parties have also tended to espouse anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial â€” a reminder of their neo-fascist roots.
But this anti-Semitism has quite naturally prevented them from making common cause with neoconservatives and other right-wing Zionists in America, whose militant stance towards â€œIslamismâ€ (very broadly defined) would otherwise make them natural allies of the European far right. Hence we have seen in recent years that the savvier of the European far right leaders â€” such as Filip Dewinter of the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang (VB) â€” have dropped the explicitly anti-Semitic elements of their platforms and doubled down on Islamophobia. They realize that by portraying themselves as staunch supporters of Israel and allies in the war against Islamofascism, they can acquire a new set of influential and well-connected supporters in America â€” the likes of Daniel Pipes, Mark Steyn, Frank Gaffney, etc. (Eli, Ali and I wrote about the connections between Wilders, his U.S. supporters, and the VB this past February.)
While focusing on Islamophobia rather than anti-Semitism is certainly a savvy move, whether it is sincere is another question. The VB, for example, is a successor to the Vlaams Blok, which disbanded in 2004 after being convicted of â€œrepeated incitement to discriminationâ€; its fall was precipated by top VB official Roeland Raesâ€™s widely-publicized Holocaust denial on Dutch television. Despite the VBâ€™s claims to have cleaned up its act since the Raes scandal, the Belgian Jewish community isnâ€™t buying it. They maintain that, regardless of whatever philo-Semitic noises the top leadership makes in public, the group has a clear pattern of associating with anti-Semitic and neo-fascist elements. (Right-wing apostate Charles Johnson has in recent years provided the most thorough coverage of the devilâ€™s bargain that the American Islamophobic right has made with the European far right.) Similarly, although Wilders himself does not come from the neo-fascist milieu, there can be little doubt that his base of popular support contains many of the same elements as Le Penâ€™s and Haiderâ€™s.
All this is to say that Daniel Pipes and his compatriots are playing with fire when they embrace Wilders and other European Islamophobes. While the European far right has proven increasingly willing to say the right things about Jews for tactical reasons, all indications are that hatred of Muslims frequently goes hand-in-hand with hatred of Jews.
I hope that anyone who has not already done so will read Scott Hortonâ€™s important piece in Harperâ€™s investigating the cover-up of the 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo detainees, deaths which were publicly reported as suicides. (Or, in the Strangelovian language of the baseâ€™s commander, as acts of â€œasymmetrical warfare against us.â€) Based on the testimony of several former Guantanamo military personnel, Horton provides strong evidence suggesting that the three detainees â€” none of whom had been charged with any crime â€” may in fact have been killed while being interrogated at a secret â€œblack siteâ€ outside the main Guantanamo base.
It is not terribly surprising that the leading apologists for the Bush-Cheney torture regime â€” the likes of Marc Thiessen, Thomas Joscelyn, and so on â€” have refused to respond to Hortonâ€™s piece. What is more surprising, however, is that the major U.S. papers have paid little attention as well. After remaining silent all day, the New York Times and Washington Post finally posted an AP wire story on the revelations this evening, but it is nowhere to be found on their main pages. The Los Angeles Times still appears to have nothing whatsoever on the story.
By contrast, the major British papers (with the exception of Rupert Murdochâ€™s Times) have all followed up on Hortonâ€™s piece. It is by now a depressingly familiar pattern that the British media exhibit far more interest in the abuses of the Bush/Blair years than their American counterparts. Still, one would think that a possible triple homicide of detainees in U.S. custody, and the subsequent cover-up by both the Bush and Obama administrations, would merit some U.S. news coverage â€” even given the almost exclusive focus on Haiti and Massachusetts at the moment.
Scott Horton of Harper’s has a great piece online on how three detainees at Gitmo were killed during interrogations. The military responded with an elaborate coverup that claimed the three men committed suicide as an “act of asymmetrical warfare.”
The military’s story has been blow to bits in large part by former Gitmo guards who have courageously put themselves at risk by coming forward with the truth.
Horton, a lawyer, has done some of the best and most courageous writing on the torture scandal. He is one of the most credible critics of Bush era abuses.
I assume there will be far more revelations coming out in the coming weeks and months on this case.
Televangelist Pat Robertson said Wednesday that earthquake-ravaged Haiti has been “cursed” by a “pact to the devil.”
“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” he said on Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club.” “They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it’s a deal.”
Robertson said that “ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other” and he contrasted Haiti with its neighbor, the Dominican Republic.
“That island of Hispaniola is one island. It is cut down the middle; on the one side is Haiti on the other is the Dominican Republic,” he said. “Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to god and out of this tragedy I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now we are helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.”