Even as the Iraq war claims yet another casualty, in the form of Senator John McCain, another Republican sets himself up for political destruction by insisting that America, should persist in this unpopular enterprise. McCain, once hailed as his party’s all-but-inevitable nominee for the presidency, is near the end, out of money and firing senior members of his campaign staff, who retaliate by denigrating those left on the sinking ship.
It’s been obvious for months that the path to the White House in 2008 does not lie in endorsing Bush’s disastrous enterprise. Yet McCain did so and is now having to pay the bill, voyaging to Iraq and insinuating from inside a vast security cordon, his venerable torso encased in body armor, that it was as safe to stroll around Baghdad and its suburbs as Phoenix, in his home state of Arizona. Most Americans scoffed with incredulity at this claim, one so obviously at odds with reality that CounterPunch coeditor Jeffrey St Clair speculated to me that McCain was setting the stage for a sudden turnaround on the war in the fall, saying that though he’d given Bush every chance, quitting time was here.
But, as often in life, satisfactory explanations from the pages of Machiavelli are no match for the bray of confident miscalculation. Flag-wagging isn’t a vote-getter this campaign season, at least yet. Most Americans don’t like the war, want the troops out, will vote for politicians who promise to get them home and punish those who don’t. John McCain’s treasury is empty. Money is flowing into the campaign accounts of the libertarian Republic peace candidate, Ron Paul, a remote outsider whose polling numbers shoot up on the rare occasions he can shoulder his way into the Republican debates.
Now, undeterred by McCain’s impending political extinction as a the prime pro-war candidate, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is seizing the battle standard from the senator’s stricken hand. Giuliani named his list of foreign policy advisers last week. This is an important political ritual, whereby political commentators can run their eyes down the list and assess at a glance what sort of headway the candidate is making in winning the support of the political establishment, starting with Henry Kissinger. Giuliani’s list is heavily freighted with pro-war types, including the apex neo-con, Norman Podhoretz.
No candidate lofting tossing the name Podhoretz into the laptops of the press corps, is aiming at the peace vote. Podhoretz is former editor of the American Jewish Committee’s Commentary magazine, the neocons’ in-house journal. He’s been touting war on Islam and pretty much everywhere on the planet else barring Israel ever since the mid-70s, when he worried that America would quit its support for Israel just as it slunk out of Vietnam. He denounced the Democrats as pro-Arab, pro-gay, pro-terror pinkoes and stumped for Reagan. His wife, Midge Decter, became a moving spirit in the Committee on the Present Danger, his so-in-law Elliot Abrams went to work for Reagan, plead guilty to lying to Congress about the US role in the Reagan-era shuttle of arms and money, labeled the Iran-Contras scandal. These days Elliot in the Bush White House and Norman is now at Giuliani’s elbow.
By publicly identifying Podhoretz as one of his foreign policy advisers, Giuliani is not only emphasizing his view that the United States should stay in Iraq for the long haul. He’s saying that he esteems the counsel of a man who is calling for an immediate attack on Iran. In “The Case for Bombing Iran”, an essay in the June edition of Commentary, Podhoretz trundled his mid-70s arsenal of calumny out of the museum, rehabbed for current conditions: “Looking at Europe today,” he wailed, “we already see the unfolding of a process analogous to Finlandization [a vintage neo-con slur from the Cold War years]: it has been called, rightly, Islamization.” Podhoretz set for the choices in what he calls the Fourth World War. Either bomb Iran now, or “we could wake up one morning to find that Iran is holding Berlin, Paris or London hostage to whatever its demands are then.”
Given their track record it’s not implausible to argue, as many do, that by attacking Iran at some point in the coming months Bush and Cheney will try to revive their administration’s fortunes and the presently abysmal prospects of Republican candidates–not just the presidential candidate–in the 2008 elections. Even though the ordinary folk are not enthused, there’s considerable bipartisan support for such an attack among the political elites.
The Israel lobby has been publicly pushing for it for over a year. Senator Joseph Lieberman recently put up a resolution in Congress stigmatizing Iran as the prime instigator of the deaths of US personnel in Iraq and such supposed Democratic liberals as California’s two senators–Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer–voted for it. Last week, around 70 Democrats let it be known they could not approve any plan for Iraq that didn’t schedule an immediate start to withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Good for them, but that leaves two thirds of the Democrats in the House NOT supporting such a plan. Plus every Republican except Ron Paul, the only Republican in the House to vote with the 70-odd Democrats on this issue.
Giuliani–now vying with Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and the (to me) entirely unconvincing former Tennessee senator and actor Fred Thompson for the front-runner’s spot on the Republican side for the presidential nomination–seems to have realised soon enough that waving the Iraqi battle standard isn’t a vote-getter in the sticks. No sooner had he fronted Poddy as the Wise Man at his elbow than he also attacked Bush’s strategy in Iraq, saying it was draining resources and attention from the true war on terror–which is the default option for Democratic contenders such as HRC. Staking his future on the war option, even as McCain’s bier is hauled from the field, is a posture that may play well in New York and Washington, but probably not in the hinterlands of New Hampshire and Iowa, where Giuliani will have first to make his mark.
Vick, Pit Bulls and Pigs
The federal indictment of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick on conspiracy charges associated with his pit bull breeding and training operation at Bad Newz Kennels in Smithfield, Virginia, contains searing descriptions of dreadful cruelty towards these creatures. Tears stained the venerable cheeks of Senator Bobby Byrd as the former Klan Grand Cyclops* bewailed the monstrous conduct of the black football star and his co-conspirators.
Indeed, the cruelties as laid out in the indictment are horrible and Vick and his coconspirators deservedly face serious penalties, if convicted on the charges. But there are the usual double standards lightly vaulted over by those busy savaging Vick.
Judi Giuliani, the current wife of a candidate, hasn’t caught much heat for her infamous past as a dog torturer and killer. Judi’s job at US Surgical was allegedly to demonstrate her company’s staple stitches’ efficacy on cuts made on drugged dogs. According to Patricia Feral, president of the Connecticut-based Friends of Animals, US Surgical’s reps did sales-demonstration stapling on hundreds of dogs through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Feral says the dogs were “either put to death following the sales demonstrations because they can’t recover from them, or they die during them.” The stapling had to be done on live dogs because, as one US Surgical CEO put it back in the 1980s, “A dead dog doesn’t bleed. You need real blood-flow conditions, or you get a false sense of security.”
For institutionalized cruelty to animals, consult any book on the meatpacking business. I recommend Dead Meat, put out in the mid-1990s by Four Stories, Eight Windows Press. It contained Sue Coe’s extraordinary paintings and drawings of slaughter houses, along with the journal of this intrepid artist as she and her sister traveled from one abattoir to the next, at considerable risk to their lives. I wrote a 17,000 word introduction ( “A Short, Meat-Oriented History of the World, From Eden to the Mattole”) to this volume, an essay ultimately published in its most complete form in New Left Review in 1996 which you can find in NLR’s online archive. Here’s a paragraph from it to remember next time you slice into your pork chop:
Such is the swollen empire of pork in North Carolina. Its reeking lagoons surround darkened warehouses of animals trapped in metal crates barely larger than their bodies, tails chopped off, pumped with corn, soy beans and chemicals until, in six months, they weigh about 240 pounds, at which point they are shipped off to abattoirs to be killed, sometimes by prisoners on work release from the county jail. Near the town of Tar Heel, in Smithfield’s Carolina Foods abattoir, half the workforce are Latin American immigrants; a number of others are prisoners. The sows are killed after about two years or whenever their reproductive perfor- mance declines. It takes maybe eight to ten people to run a sow factory, overseeing two thousand sows, boars and piglets. A computerized ‘fin- ishing’ farm, where the pigs are fattened, may just require a part-time caretaker to check the equipment and clean up between arriving and departing cohorts of hogs. The noise in these factories is ghastly, and many workers wear ear pads against the squealing and crashing of the animals in their cages. When the Raleigh News and Observerdid a series on North Carolina’s pig barons in early 1995-following a pioneering arti- cle in Southern Exposure in 1992-readers were told they could call the paper’s number in Raleigh, 5495100, extension 4647and listen to a recording of this terrible sound. Thus do we travel toward necropolis from Olmsted’s visit to Porkopolis nearly a century and a half ago.
Just how high or low on the Klan totem pole is Grand Cyclops? As far as I can see, they were regional grandees. Here’s the Klan’s definition, in its “Order and Principles of the Ku Klux Klan, 1868:
Titles: Section 1.
The officers of this Order shall consist of a Grand Wizard of the Empire and his ten Genii; a Grand Dragon of the Realm and his eight Hydras; a Grand Titan of the Dominion and his six Furies; a Grand Giant of the Province and his four Goblins; a Grand Cyclops of the Den and his two Night Hawks; a Grand Magi, a Grand Monk, a Grand Scribe, a Grand Exchequer, a Grand Turk, and a Grand Sentinel.
Section 2. The body politic of this Order shall be known and designated as “Ghouls.”
Territory and Its Divisions
Section 1. The territory embraced within the jurisdiction of this Order shall be coterminous with the states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee; all combined constituting the Empire.
Section 2. The Empire shall be divided into four departments, the first to be styled the Realm and coterminous with the boundaries of the several states; the second to be styled the Dominion and to be coterminous with such counties as the Grand Dragons of the several Realms may assign to the charge of the Grand Titan. The third to be styled the Province and to be coterminous with the several counties; provided, the Grand Titan may, when he deems it necessary, assign two Grand Giants to one Province, prescribing, at the same time, the jurisdiction of each. The fourth department to be styled the Den, and shall embrace such part of a Province as the Grand Giant shall assign to the charge of a Grand Cyclops.
A Big Mile Marker on our March into the Police State
If you haven’t checked out the executive orders flowing from Bush’s White House like sewage into a pig-rearing lagoon, try this appalling order, signed by Bush on July 17. I remarked here last week that the sort of solidarity work done in the 1980s here in relation to Nicaragua and El Salvador would have one instantly facing serious federal conspiracy charges today. Bush’s dictats have thus far aroused only trivial commentary in the press.
“Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, July 17, 2007
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:
(a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,
(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:
(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or
(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;
(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to,
(i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and
(ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
(a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:
(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;
(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and
(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.
Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.
Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.
Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.
Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
July 17, 2007.
You can find this online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/
Here’s Bush’s simultaneous message to the Congress:
“Message to the Congress of the United States Regarding International Emergency Economic Powers Act,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, July 17, 2007
Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order blocking property of persons determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. I issued this order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. In these previous Executive Orders, I ord ered various measures to address the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in that country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq.
My new order takes additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315 by blocking the property and interests in property of persons determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. The order further authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, to designate for blocking those persons determined to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provi ded fi nancial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person designated pursuant to this order, or to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
I delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, the authority to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of my order. I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order I have issued.
GEORGE W. BUSH
The White House,
July 17, 2007.
This is to be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/
Go from this executive order to the exchanges between Hilary Clinton and under-secretary of defense Eric Edelman, described by Gary Leupp in his piece on this site today. Clinton had asked Defense Secretary Gates for information on contingency plans for withdrawal from Iraq. Edelman answered
“Given the express will of the Congress to implement a phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq and the importance of proper contingency planning to achieve that goal, I write to request that you provide the appropriate oversight committees in Congress—including the Senate Armed Services Committee—with briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Alternatively, if no such plans exist, please provide an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning.”
Edelman replied, to the Senate committee:
“Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. [S]uch talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.”
Note the words “reinforces enemy propaganda” That could easily fall among the indictable conspiracies the Executive Order has in mind.