Archive for the ‘American Watch’ Section

Posted on September 11, 2008 in Bush Effect by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish39 Comments »

I was talking via email with an American friend the other day – and this was someone I already knew to be a conservative Republican – when he threw me by saying that he ‘really feared Obama’. And the ‘really’ was capitalised. We don’t usually talk politics and I am not about to do so with someone who does not want to but I would have liked to have heard just what the basis of this ‘fear’ is. There have been, and still are, people who get themselves into power and damn well should be feared. Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin and, more recently, Sadam and Mugabe are just the tip of the iceberg. But Barack Obama? What can be so scary about him? Bush is scary. Cheney is scary. But Obama? I don’t get it.

If you really need someone scary then look no further than Sarah Palin, VP running mate of the not really that scary John McCain. This is one scary woman. This woman is so delusional that not that long ago she would have been locked up.

The vast majority of Americans are ordinary people. They live normal lives, they work, they raise everyday families and are, on the whole, decent people just living their lives. Politically they might lean towards the Democrats or sway a bit more right towards the Republicans and that’s all good for the mix. Many of them are members of their local church and follow a Christian path and there is nothing wrong with that.

Then there are the right wing fanatics who may call themselves Christians but are disowned by the majority of Christians around the world. These people, these vicious, nasty people are extremists of the worse kind – often racist, often advocating violence – they have taken the Christian message and distorted it beyond recognition to the point where if Jesus Christ himself were to return and wander into one of their church meetings he would be lucky to escape with his life. Exactly what motivates these people is beyond me although I suspect an enormous feeling of insecurity and a low IQ both play a big part which leaves them vulnerable to being sucked in by one of the hate-mongering, evangelical ‘Christian’ corporations.

Their God, and apparently, Sarah Palin’s God, tell them things that He doesn’t tell other, ordinary believers. For the majority of Christians the world over, the message is about peace, tolerance, love and respect. It is about living a good, honest and productive life, about helping those less fortunate, about fairness and selfless behaviour. For Palin and others like her, their religion is about hatred and intolerance, about war and conquest, about loathing those that are different and about money. In short, it is built on outrageous hypocrisy. These people sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a “task that is from God.” And it is, apparently, “God’s Will’ that a gas pipeline be built across Palin’s state of Alaska.

Anyone that believes their God cares about such things as a gas pipeline is either seriously deluded or, as I suspect, is using the name of God to claim a moral high ground to sucker these fanatics into a vote. And to suggest that the Christian God of peace and tolerance personally directed the USA to invade another country is just an attempt to use religion to mask something rotten and sick within the core of the current American political administration.

Bush is scary because he has proved himself inept, corrupt and quite plainly fairly stupid. Cheney is scary because, at the end of the day he is little more than a political thug in the pocket of corporate America. I now find McCain scary for the simple reason that at his age, if he dies in office he will leave the White House in charge of someone who is, perhaps, scarier than all of them.

The only reason I can see that people would fear Obama is the very reason he would make a good choice to heal the self-inflicted wounds of the Bush years. And this is that he is a highly intelligent and honourable man with a strong set of moral values that the Christian extremists claim as their own while proving, with their every action and incantation of Gods name, they are actually completely bereft of.

Posted on October 23, 2007 in Patriot Act by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish18 Comments »

I have recently returned from a two week trip to the USA where I visited both Washington DC and New York. I have always enjoyed visiting America – I like the country and I like the people… well, most of them anyway. But as the Bush/Cheney era has plunged the country more towards true fascism, it is getting harder and harder to contemplate making future visits with any degree of pleasure.

In just two short weeks, I lost count of the number of times I had to empty my pockets into trays to be x-rayed, had to take my jacket and shoes off and walk through a metal detector. It seems that almost anywhere you go the men in black with their dour no-nonsense expressions, firearms at their side, are waiting for you while you join yet another security checkpoint line. And being a ‘foreigner’ almost guarantees a special bag search at airports or a quick scan with the wand.

I experienced the contrast most noticeably when I visited the NEC at Birmingham at the weekend. If this had been America the queue for security would have snaked out of the front doors while visitors were scanned, x-rayed and visually scrutinised. Being England, there was a polite notice suggesting that random bag searches may take place – sorry for the inconvenience. As it was there were just a small handful of guys keeping watch at the entrance and, no doubt, somewhere deep in the bowels of the building, a team watching the CCT feeds. Yet we are just as vulnerable to acts of terrorism as our friends across the ocean.

I have long argued that the new US security industry, fostered and mandated by the White House mafia, is mere window dressing and is, generally, a pointless exercise. After all, what better target for a suicide bomber than a few hundred people standing idly in tightly packed queues for a security check? It really only serves two functions: to make it appear that something is being done to protect the public and to keep that same public in a heightened state of fear.

The truth, of course, is that unless you really do have hard and reliable intelligence, there is not much you can do to stop a terrorist attack. To pretend that hardened and determined terrorists are going to be put off by security checks is quite obviously absurd. And if anyone really believes that a terrorist is going to try and get something nasty that can be easily found through an x-ray machine and metal detector, then they do not have the intelligence that most terrorists themselves have.

The New York University School of Law’s ‘Center on Law and Security’ has recently published statistics on US terrorism related arrests and convictions. (Source: PDF: Terrorist Trail: Report Card). This report takes into account every federal case in which terrorism was allegedly a factor between September 11th, 2001 and September 11th 2006. The numbers make for interesting reading.

In the period of the five years following the attack on the World Trade Towers, a period during which the Bush/Cheney administration focused so much money, effort, energy, manpower and media headlines on their so-called ‘War On Terror’, there were 510 arrests where terrorist related activity was a stated offence. Of those 510 defendants arrested, only 163 were actually indicted under a terrorist related activity. Of those 163 subsequent prosecutions, the total convictions are: 4.

(They are Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid, Chao Tung Wu and Shahawar Matin Siraj. These individuals were convicted of attempting to commit terrorism. Three of the four had ties to militant Islamic fundamentalism. Moussaoui, once thought to be the 20th 9/11 hijacker, turned out not to be. Reid, the “shoe-bomber,” was apprehended by other passengers on a transatlantic flight. Wu tried to import Chinese surface-to-air missiles into the United States. Siraj was convicted for planning to bomb a New York City subway.)

What is more, the report states:

Nobody affiliated with a radical Islamic group has been charged with crimes related to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

The spin that the report, the White House and Fox News put on these numbers is, of course, that their anti-terrorism measures are working. But the more reasonable and thoughtful amongst us can see a very clear alternative explanation. As the report concludes:

In sum, these numbers – and the stories behind them – tell us either that the threat is much less than we thought, or that the policies of the United States have reduced the threat of terrorism through deterrence, and, yes, through excessive vigilance. The overall record revealed in these charts suggests the presence of few, if any, prevalent terrorist threats currently within the U.S. Any future policy must be premised on this conclusion. It is time, after five years, for a sustained and comprehensive conversation about the domestic prosecution of terrorists.

The method of terrorism is to sow the seeds of fear – to engender in a population a state of fright and insecurity – a worry that they will be the next ones to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As one who has lived through many years of constant terrorism and been in more bomb scares than airport security checks, the real terrorists in the USA seem to me to be those who live on Pennsylvania Avenue and out close to the Washington Observatory.

Posted on January 30, 2007 in Patriot Act by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish4 Comments »

Mike Power bought this to my attention a few weeks back and I’ve been meaning to follow it up ever since – and now I’ve missed it! The great Minnesota Book Burning bought to you by the National Socialist Movement of the USA. In their own words:

Tonight nearly 100 men and women from the National Socialist Movement and allied Comrades gathered near Downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. The night began with Dinner at a local restaurant, where we nearly filled the place. After Dinner, the massive convoy of cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans drove to the inner City area where we held the First ever Book Burning organized by National Socialists in the United States.

A nice Minnesota Temperature of approx. 3 degrees prompted the men to work extra fast, and get the fire going quickly. Standing in a massive circle many in attendance stood close to the flames, the torches were then lit, and it began! As flames whipped high into the air, several announcements were made, and I offered the first of many items to the flames. The first thing to hit the pyre was several letters from the German Government telling us how music from our Record Label (NSM Records) is banned in Germany.

After that, an Israeli flag was set to burn. Then the books came hurling into the flames, The Talmud went up in flames along with its brother the Communist manifesto, then came books promoting homosexuality/bestiality, and so on.

Upon viewing either the high flames or perhaps hearing the shouts of White Power in the inner City, the Police soon showed up. They walked through the snow to see what was going on, and asked us to move a vehicle that was parked off of the road. After that they watched on from the road on a hillside. (Original misspellings corrected – errant capitalisation retained!)

I thought the pre-book burning dinner was a nice touch! And all this was followed by rock and roll courtesy of local metal band ‘Total War’.

I need some help here. Is this for real? Or is it a parody site because it sure reads like parody. Sadly, I know the answer – these people are for real. This is what can happen when people don’t study history. And this is what can happen when our elected leaders don’t study history either.

Posted on December 14, 2006 in Bush Effect by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish4 Comments »

Is anybody there? How about Tacoma? Portland? Eugene? Is the beautiful little town of Yoncalla, Oregon still there? What about the south coast then; did anything come along this year and finish what Katrina started? Is Florida devastated? Has the Mississippi burst it’s banks and swept everything away?

Back in May of this year, I wrote up a little weather-related piece (And God Said Let There Be Hurricanes), relating the forecast for the storm season by none other than, well, God himself. At least, it was God’s weather forecast as given to the human cockroach, Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, friend of The Shrub and, he tells us, God’s chosen conversationalist. Huge storms were going to lash the south coast of the USA, we were told. But even worse, a possible Tsunami was going to be unleashed on the North West Pacific coast.

So, as the end of 2006 approaches with the hurricane season well and truly behind us, I was just wondering about Seattle. Was it so bad that nobody knows it’s not there anymore? Has anyone heard from anyone in Seattle over the last month or so? What about Alabama? Anyone been there lately. Did you need a boat to get around?

It’s possible, I suppose, that God was lying to Pat – or perhaps playing a little game with him. But I don’t believe that for one minute. Why would a supreme deity and omnipotent being bother with a lie? Or even a sudden sense of humour? Maybe Pat misheard God. Well – that’s a possibility I guess although if he is so chummy with his maker you would think that God would have pointed this out the next day.

In reality, of course, the answer is far simpler. Pat Robertson made it up. He lied. Like all rational people everywhere knew he did back in May.

Posted on November 15, 2006 in Bush Effect by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish2 Comments »

World Net Daily reported today that in exchange for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip last summer, Fox News – the 24 hour US conservative brown-nosing news channel – handed over $2 million to their terrorist kidnappers.

The terror leader, from the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, said his organization’s share of the cash was used to purchase weapons, which he said would be utilized “to hit the Zionists.” He said he expects the payments for Centanni and Wiig’s freedom will “encourage Palestinian groups to carry out further kidnappings”. The payment was confirmed by officials associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jim at Irregular Times has an interesting take on this story. He points out that under the provisions of the recently passed, and Bush sponsored, Military Commissions Act, the FOX News executives who authorised the money transfer are now “unlawful enemy combatants,” under the following provision of the law signed by George W. Bush:

(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant’ means–

(i) A person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces);

“Material support” is specifically defined in section 2339A(b) of title 18 of the U.S. Code:

The term “material support or resources” means any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.

Leaving aside for a moment the appalling consequences of dumping £2 million into the outstretched hands of a terrorist knowing you and your countrymen are on his list of legitimate targets, it is all rather amusing. Especially when you consider that Fox is the most rabidly right-wing news service the USA has ever seen or – as Jim puts it – ‘the most gung-ho, kill-them-Ayrabs, kiss-ass-Republican, Bush-is-God, Stop Questioning Authority, Christian reconstructionist bunch on the airwaves‘!