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It’s Bush and Cheney, Damn It April 22, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in About George Bush, About Human Rights, About Justice, About Repubicans, Criminal Justice, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Torture.
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Roger Hollander, www.rogerhollander.com, April 22, 2009


No one is more outraged than I am about the Bush administrations gross violations of domestic and international law and the Obama administration complicity in what amounts to no less than a cover-up.  The release of the infamous “torture memos” along with Obama and Rahm Emanuel granting immunity to both the lawyers who wrote the phony justifications for torture or the CIA agents who carried out the acts of barbarism, has us debating which level of subalterns should be held legally accountable.


While there is no doubt given the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg principles that no one who participated in these crimes against humanity should be let off the hook, there is a long tradition in American jurisprudence of convicting lower level criminals while those who had the power to make the decisions go scot free.  The Abu Ghraib convictions are a case in point.


While it is impossible not to support initiatives such as the possible indictment of the “Bush Six” by Spanish Justice Baltasar Garzón, the movement to impeach Justice Jay Bybee, and various other proposals for Congressional investigation, Commissions of Inquiry, etc.; if the focus is not on Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the others at the highest level of government, then there is virtually no chance that the kind of justice demanded by the events will be fulfilled.


Realistically speaking, given the strength of the neo- Fascist Right in the country along with the high degree of spinelessness if not outright complicity within the Democratic Party, it is hard to picture a scenario where criminal charges are laid and prosecuted against Bush and Cheney.  But I would argue that this is no time for realism, that the war crimes and constitutional violations that were carried out with impunity are too serious to overlook in the name of pragmatism.


As we reel in disbelief and disgust at the perversion of language and morality that are contained in the newly released torture memos, we must not lose sight of the enormity of the overall thrust of the crimes committed by the Bush/Cheney cabal, the warrantless wiretapping, the extraordinary renditons, the politicization of the Justice Department, the signing statements, the intelligence neglect that enabled 9/11, and – above all else – the deceit and lies that were used to justify the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the consequence of which in terms of death and human suffering is beyond comprehension.


There is an old Negro spiritual that we sung during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s: “Keep your eyes on the prize …”  The Prize is no less than the indictment and conviction of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  From there we move on to lesser but no less guilty culprits.

Harass Sarah? November 12, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Repubicans, Sarah Palin.
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As the author of the (soon to be if not already) famous PALINdrome: “harass Sarah,” I take it upon myself to do just that.


But first let me apologize for giving more attention to the VP manqué.  She should just go away and leave us alone.  If there were a God in Heaven, she would do just that.  But alas, thanks to the most hypocritical straight shooter in the history political chicanery, John “Off-the-Tracks” McCain, we may be stuck with Ms. Palin for a long time.  Our goal should be to shorten that purgatorial interlude as much as possible.


There is no question that McCain’s selection of Palin was the most single act that doomed his candidacy.  If there is to be blame, it lies with him, not her.  She was just being her bewitching self.


Not one to give up easily, McCain has just made a statement to the effect that Gov. Palin will play a big role in the future of the country (again, God forbid, albeit perhaps not her God).  He went on to describe her as a “great reformer.”  Such a laudatory endorsement coming from the likes of McCain, who himself needs to be on the lookout for the vultures circling above, should be about as welcome as a phone call from the IRS.


Palin herself has blamed Bush for the Party’s big loss on November 4.  But she gave old Dubya a good run for the money.  A recent AOL poll had 36% saying it was her presence on the ticket that doomed McCain against 42% who gave the prize to Bush’s policies.  Not bad for a beginner going up agaist a seasoned veteran loser.


Americans need to ask themselves some hard questions about Sarah Palin.  


Do we want or need a future leader who:


·        Is well to the Right of Genghis Khan


·        Gets her kicks killing wildlife from the safety of a helicopter


·        Defends to the death the right to life of a conglomeration of foetal cells while she nukes Iran


·        Has a foreign policy that consists of a glance across the Bering Strait


·        Welcomes a nuclear holocaust-like Armageddon so that she and the rest of the (self) righteous can go to be with Jesus and no longer have to share a planet with the likes of matrimonial minded Gays and Lesbians or religious apostates like Mahatma Ghandi


I could go on, but you long ago got the point.


And now that I give it some more thought, perhaps there is no need to “harass Sarah.”  As I said earlier, just being herself is what sunk the good ship McCain.  Maybe her just continuing to be herself is all we need for her to fall off the political radar screen.


For the sake of our children and grandchildren and the future of the planet, let’s hope so. 


A Leftist Defends Palin (sort of) September 29, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Repubicans, Sarah Palin.
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Roger Hollander/September 29, 2008


As a lifetime political activist and a former municipal councillor of a major North American city, I may have a unique perspective of the Palin phenomenon.


Of course, I believe her selection by McCain was perhaps one of the most self-serving, idiotic and unpatriotic acts in recent U.S. political history.  As either vice president or president (and that is not just a possibility, but from what I have heard about McCain’s cancer, a likelihood), she would be an unmitigated disaster; and given the past eight years of Bush/Cheney, that is saying a lot.


However, it is not her lack of knowledge or experience, as so aptly demonstrated in the Couric interview, that I find unacceptable.  IT IS HER PAST RECORD AND HER VALUES.  As these are by now well known to the general reader, I need not say more.


For the most part, lawyers and businessmen fill the chambers of our legislative assemblies at all levels of government.  I have no problem whatsoever with a “housewife” as president.  It would be a refreshing change.  It has been my experience that anyone with normal intelligence and the capacity to learn and be diligent and flexible has the capacity to govern, or, rather, to represent a constituency at the government level.  At all levels of government, political appointees and civil servants are in abundant supply to provide information and advice.  It is what an elected official does with such information and advice, and the kind of leadership given to her or his subalterns, that determines the effectiveness of a legislator or executive.


Over the years I have come into contact with literally of thousands of human beings, so-called “ordinary folks,” with whom I would trust legislative or executive authority over those whom the lobbyists have put in place.  Pick any two names at random out of the latest U.S. census and they are likely by far to be less dangerous and more advantageous to the U.S Republic than Messers (uppers) Bush and Cheney.


So find me an “ordinary” citizen with intelligence, compassion, progressive values, an analytic mind, and a capacity to learn quickly and to work hard – and she or he would have my support at any level of government over the majority who currently fill the positions.  A little known and vastly ignored chapter in recent history — the Paris Commune of 1871 — demonstrated the capacity of working people to legislate justly and effectively (the Communards were slaughtered in a bloodthirsty massacre by the French Bourgeoisie).


There is no doubt that Sarah Palin is NOT that person.  Perhaps she has best served her country by demonstrating the utter incapacity for John McCain to make intelligent and patriotic decisions and his cynical opportunism.


From what I have read and seen of Sarah Palin and her family, I cannot say that they are the kind of people for whom I can muster much, if any, sympathy (I believe, for example, that wolves are noble animals that should be protected, not hunted mercilessly in helicopters).  But, I have little doubt that the Palins will come out much the worse for what McCain has put upon them; and they are in a real sense a victim – along with the rest of us – of his patent unscrupulousness.


Elections in the U.S., Canada and Ecuador, and the Influence of Karl Rove September 24, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Canada, About Ecuador, About Repubicans, Canada, U.S. Election 2008.
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I have ties with three countries, the United States, Canada and Ecuador, which happen to be — all three– in the midst of election campaigns.


A single word comes to mind: Rove.  As in Karl Rove.  In the States Rove and his protégés are firmly in control of the McCain campaign.  And it’s all about Sarah Palin, who combines the characteristics of motherhood and apple pie at the same time as she comes across, as one commentator described her, as a toned down porn star.  Issues be damned.  It’s about Sarah, right to life (for the foetus if not for American soldiers and Iraqi and Afghani civilians), gay marriage, flexing American muscle in the face of terrorism, taking advantage of every vestige of racism that remains strong in the American psyche, and, of course, playing the religion card.  It’s a form of triumphalism that would make Joseph Goebbels proud.


In Canada, where a former Prime Minister, once famously said elections are no place to discuss issues, Conservative PM Stephen Harper has not forgotten the infamous Willie Horton commercial that sunk Michael Dukakis in the 1988 U.S. presidential election.  He is promoting life sentences for 14 year old gang members (with parole eligibility after 25 years – let no one ever say that Harper doesn’t have a heart).  In an attempt to paint his opponents as latte drinking, quiche eating elites, he has justified his cutting of funding to arts and culture because ordinary folks don’t care about the arts.  He went on to add: “average Canadians have no sympathy for ‘rich’ artists who gather at galas to whine about their grants.”


But it is in Ecuador, which is in the midst of a referendum to approve or reject a new progressive Constitution, that even Karl Rove could learn a thing or two.  The “No” campaign has stooped to lows that the master of lies, distortion and spin might not dare to descend.  The Ecuadorian right, along with its conservative allies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, are shouting at the top of their collective voice (with the support of most Ecuadorian media) that the under the proposed new Constitution, the State will promote abortion, homosexuality, dictatorship, poverty and hunger (including the latter two is bitterly ironic in that those who for generation have held power and are desperate not to relinquish it, are the very ones responsible for the high degree of poverty and hunger that exist in the country in the first place).


Riding through the streets of Guayaquil, the nations largest city and principal seaport, I saw scores of humble apparently home-made “No” signs.  I said to myself that the “No” campaign must be somehow getting to ordinary people.  On closer look, however, I discovered that the signs, which appeared to be clumsily made with ball point pens, were in fact mass produced lithographs.  You might try that one some day, Karl.


No here is what for me is the most interesting irony.  In the U.S. and Canada, the Rovite candidates are poised to celebrate victory.  In Canada, Conservative PM Stephen Harper seems to be on the verge of converting his minority government into a majority one.  In the States, McCain still holds a slight edge over Obama, despite the fact that the popularity of the Republican Party is at an all-time low.  These campaigns are far from over, and could still turn around in favor of more moderate parties.


In Ecuador, however, despite the heavily financed campaign for the “No” vote coming from the traditional rightist parties and their corporate sponsors, and despite the backing of most of the media and political pundits for a “No” vote; the “Yes” campaign appears to hold a solid majority.  The majority of Ecuadorians, who live in a country where the levels of illiteracy and under education far exceed those of the United States and Canada, somehow have found a way to see through the lies and manipulations and have continued to support the Alianza País Party (which has created the proposed new Constitution) and its President, Rafael Correa, who have maintained high degrees of popularity despite constant attacks from the right and the media.


There is a powerful slogan that is often used at political rallies: “El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido” (“the people, united, will never be defeated”).  In Ecuador, this seems to be developing into reality.  I have hopes for the same in the two North American alleged democracies.