The Bush legacy: When speaking ill truths of the dead is a duty

Sanitisation of Bush’ problematic legacy conceals elements of the past that are vital for understanding the present.

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Cutting through the bush of media's posthumous propaganda is not about disrespecting George HW Bush in his death, but about respecting the lives of those victimised by his policies, writes Kanji [AP]
Cutting through the bush of media’s posthumous propaganda is not about disrespecting George HW Bush in his death, but about respecting the lives of those victimised by his policies, writes Kanji

If “the present conducts the past the way a conductor conducts an orchestra,” bringing forward “these particular sounds, or those, and no others” – as the great Italian novelist Italo Svevo observed in an often quoted metaphor – then American mainstream media’s posthumous treatment of George HW Bush can only be described as a one-note symphony of glorification, contrasting the 41st president’s supposed virtues with the vices of the office’s current occupant. “The only part of [the past] that is highlighted,” as Svevo had noted, “is that part that has been summoned up to illumine, and to distract us from, the present.”

Among the instruments of selective historical memorialisation is the taboo against speaking ill of the dead -which is articulated as a universal principle but applied, in reality, with extreme partiality.

When luminary of the South African anti-apartheid struggle Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died in April, Western media coverage rushed to highlight her alleged participation in acts of violence. The very first sentence of the New York Times’ story about her death, for example, stated that Madikizela-Mandela’s “hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa’s liberators was eroded by scandal over corruption, kidnapping, murder, and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela,” and the Times’ original headline (subsequently revised following complaints) described her as a “tarnished leader of South Africa’s liberation.”

But for George Bush, who had the privilege of directing acts of mass violence from afar, the abuses and atrocities tarnishing his leadership have been treated as mere footnotes to the main story – if they are accorded any attention at all. While commentators have fawned over cartoons depicting Bush’s projected arrival in heaven, they have erased the victims consigned to hell on Earth by his policies.

Expunged from the hegemonic hagiographies is Bush’s complicity as CIA director with Operation Condor: a CIA-supported collaboration between South American military dictatorships that kidnapped, tortured, murdered, or disappeared thousands of political dissidents – including former Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated on American soil during Bush’s directorship of the agency. While the New York Times, the Washington Post, and MSNBC all managed to feature in-depth analyses of Bush’s penchant for patterned socks, not one bothered to mention the far more significant pattern of the CIA‘s involvement in projects of state-sponsored terror, such as Operation Condor under Director Bush.

Bush’s decision as president to banish thousands of Haitian asylum seekers to detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, which his administration claimed laid outside the protections of international law, has also been completely ignored – in notable contrast to his decision to banish broccoli from his dinner table, which was the subject of fond reminiscences in the Washington Post and New York Times.

In the hands of the panegyrists at the Washington Post, the US-led “humanitarian intervention” in Somalia initiated by Bush in 1992 has been framed as an example of the former president’s guiding “concern for humanity.” Omitted was the fact that the operation quickly degenerated into an assault on Somali humanity – bombings of hospitals and gatherings of elders, unprovoked shootings of unarmed civilians, and culminating in the slaughter of approximately 1,000 Somalis in the Battle of Mogadishu – by American soldiers heard repeating the slogan “the only good Somali is a dead Somali.”

Bush’s 1989 invasion of Panama has likewise been repackaged and sold as a humanitarian triumph: “a successful invasion to oust Panama’s strongman General Manuel Antonio Noriega,” in the words of the New York Times. Nevermind that the United Nations General Assembly condemned it at the time as a “flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of [Panama],” and that it “inflicted a toll in civilian lives that was at least … twelve to thirteen times higher than the casualties suffered by US troops,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Similar deficits of truth-telling are apparent in representations of Bush’s military follow-up to Panama, the First Gulf War, almost universally depicted as a courageous confrontation against the evils of dictator Saddam Hussein. Inconvenient details – that Hussein’s evils had been enabled by Bush, who facilitated sales of military equipment to the Iraqi leader and continued to protect him from sanctions even after he massacred thousands of Kurds with poison gas at Halabja in 1988; that the war was sold to the American public with deliberately fabricated lies about Iraqi soldiers ripping babies from incubators; and that the execution of the war itself involved such atrocities as the annihilation of the Amiriyah bomb shelter, which killed at least 400 civilians, and the use of enough depleted uranium weaponry to toxify the land for 4.5 billion years – have been scrubbed from the record.

A CNN panel of journalists reflecting on Bush’s presidency contrasted him favourably to Donald Trump for having “respected media’s role” – neglecting to mention that the Bush administration imposed unprecedented restrictions and censorship on media coverage of the First Gulf War, turning media into a mouthpiece for jingoism.

While mainstream American media organisations rail against the proliferation of “fake news,” they continue to propagate half-news: a severely partial perspective in which Trump is portrayed as an aberration in American political history rather than a product of its deeply entrenched regressive forces. The recent eulogies masquerading as journalism not only sanitise Bush’s individual legacy, but conceal and distort elements of the past that are vital for understanding the present.

Operation Condor, for instance, prefigured the CIA’s extensive use of terrorising tactics such as extrajudicial assassination, extraordinary rendition, and torture in the name of counterterrorism.

George HW Bush’s treatment of Guantanamo Bay as an extra-legal warehouse for unwanted humanity laid the foundations for his son’s employment of Gitmo as an indefinite detention and torture camp for “war on terror” detainees.

The disaster in Somalia exposed the persistently racist dynamics underlying military operations pitched as “humanitarian interventions,” presaging the recurrent failures and abuses of such interventions across the formerly officially colonised world, from Haiti to Libya.

The invasion of Panama “inaugurated the age of pre-emptive [American] unilateralism, using ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ as both justifications for war and a branding opportunity,” as New York University historian Greg Grandin has observed.

And the use of governmental deception and media control to manipulate public opinion in the First Gulf War foreshadowed the politics of misinformation in the Second Gulf War, Bush Jr’s 2003 illegal war of aggression on Iraq.

Cutting through the bush of media’s posthumous propaganda is not about disrespecting George HW Bush in his death, but about respecting the lives of those victimised by his policies – and the lives of those who will continue to suffer as long as the structures of American imperial power he helped construct remain in place and immunised from critique.

Your Education Secretary, Rape-Apologist Betsy DeVos proposes overhaul to college campus sexual misconduct rules.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (2nd L) attends an East Room event at the White House October 24, 2018 in Washington, DC.
The new guidelines aim to give greater protections to accused students while giving schools flexibility to support victims who don’t file formal complaints.

 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday proposed a major overhaul to the way colleges and universities handle complaints of sexual misconduct, adding protections for students accused of assault and harassment, and narrowing the types of cases schools would be required to investigate.

Under the plan, schools would be required to investigate complaints only if they occurred on campus or other areas overseen by the school, and only if they were reported to certain campus officials with the authority to take action.

The Education Department says the proposal ensures fairness for students on both sides of accusations, while offering schools greater flexibility to help victims who don’t want to file formal complaints that could trigger an investigation.

“Throughout this process, my focus was, is, and always will be on ensuring that every student can learn in a safe and nurturing environment,” DeVos said in a statement. “That starts with having clear policies and fair processes that every student can rely on. Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”

DeVos previously said the existing rules were too prescriptive, pressuring schools to take heavy action against students accused of misconduct without giving them a fair chance to defend themselves.

The new proposal adds protections for accused students, giving them a presumption of innocence throughout the disciplinary process and the right to review all evidence a school collects. They would also be able to cross-examine their accusers, although it would be done indirectly through a representative to avoid personal confrontation.

If finalized, it will tell schools how to apply the 1972 law known as Title IX, which forbids discrimination based on sex in schools that receive federal funding.

In September 2017, DeVos rescinded a set of 2011 rules that were created under the Obama administration and guided schools on how to handle complaints.

Advocacy groups for victims say the Obama rules forced schools to stop brushing the issue under the rug, while advocates for accused students say it tipped the scales in favor of accusers. Some college leaders complained that the rules were too complex and could be overly burdensome.

Among other changes, DeVos’s proposal narrows the definition of what constitutes sexual harassment. It would be defined as unwelcome sexual conduct that’s “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity.”

It also allows schools to use a higher standard of proof to determine if a student should be found responsible for misconduct. While the Obama guidance told schools to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, meaning the allegation is “more likely than not” true, the new proposal would allow a “clear and convincing” standard, meaning the claim is highly probable.

The department will collect public input on the rules before they can be finalized.

NYT: Trump regrets hiring Sessions

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

d

On the Consumer Council presentation that was supposed to take place today.

Bill, the Director of the PRC asked if he could postpone the presentation until next week.  He wanted to distribute the final draft of our proposal for a consumer council amongst his minions so that they’ll be well versed come next thursday.  Next Thursday at 3:15pm.  We’ll keep you posted.

 

 

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Peace!  Drummer Dave

The Revolutions Proposal for a Consumer Council at the Preble Street Resource Center

The Preble Street Consumer Council

We envision a consumer council consisting of five elected members, the one who received the majority of votes during the election, seated as President. Members of the Council must be homeless.

Anyone could attend Council meetings. We think that it would be advantageous for there to be two advisory positions on the board, one held by a member of the Preble Street Case Management Team and one held by a representative of the Holistic Recovery Project (or by someone formerly homeless.)

We would like to see the Council meet weekly, and to have a representative briefly attend Staff Meeting to report any issues. Once a month, the Council could conduct town-hall meetings at PRC. The Council could create work groups to deal with individual issues brought to it’s attention.

The Election Process.

The whole idea, of course, will have to be explained to the population at a town hall meeting at PRC.

We create a nomination form like the one below:

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(Note that in addition to the nomination itself, the form contains a few lines for people to write in what they would like to see improved or changed at PRC. This will give the council, once seated, a list of issues which they could immediately discuss. ) In addition to forms being available at the desk and in the kitchen, volunteers would present the form to as many members of the population as possible, encouraging the recipient to write down their own name, or that of someone else. Anyone. At first we thought that the period for nominations should be a week, but really, to keep the population interested, we decided that a week of nominations would lose it’s luster pretty quickly. So, let’s say that we have just a day for nominating.

At the end of the day (dinner), the names will be gathered, amongst food and fanfare, announced to the population. All the names will be put onto a ballot, like the one below:

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Election day will be a week after. Anyone who wishes to actively campaign could be given full support (wacky 8″x 11″ posters, etc.) During this week, we could stage other events to gather interest, like a debate, or a photo op. with local politicos. I really think that building hype is the key here. Maybe there could be a special edition of the hobo news dedicated to the campain. Debates? Hmm.

On election day, much like with nominations, there will be ballots and a box at the desk and one in the kitchen, but, volunteers will want to circulate and collect as many ballots from the unmotivated buffalo as well. At the end of the day, again, good food, music and fanfare, Bill announces the top 5 vote getters. These folks gain a seat on the council, with the top vote getter winning the seat and title of president.

What then? Well,

If any electee doesn’t want his/her seat, we just go down the list of other candidates and grab the one with the most votes down the list.

We see the Council sitting for 4 month periods. If at any point the population is unhappy with the current council, we feel that it should only take twenty signatures to call for a Confidence Vote. In such a case, we could hand out forms like the one below:

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Unfortunately, many peeps won’t want to be on the council to help anyone, and that’s okay. In order to keep people interested in belonging to council, we’d like to see special badges printed out for council members, and whatever perks might appeal to the masses.

The issues the council could deal with are endless, from bathrooms to trash to getting volunteers to help out in the kitchen or even passing out soap at the desk. Of course, once seated, the Coucil can feel free to tweak this proposed system: number of members, term length, etc.

We will lead these buffalo to water and they will drink!

Questions:

Time frame

Specific perks and duties.

Local politicos, papers who would be interested in tossing a little press our way.

That’s all I have for you!

Take a look and let’s set up a meeting.

Be well!

The Revolution.