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Evil and the Empire (12/03)

Here’s an unpleasant political fact: When leaders feel compelled to MIS-lead, they often tend to declare war on something.

Back in the late 1960s, for example, President Nixon – whose secret plan for "peace with honor" in Vietnam was to bomb Southeast Asia back to the Stone Age – declared war on unemployment. But that was really a way to prematurely end a different war – the "war on poverty." We lost that one, too.

President Ford declared war on inflation, desperately calling his crusade WIN – for Whip Inflation Now. And Reagan declared war on drugs, a move both misleading and ironic in the world’s most drug-dependent society. This one turned into a attack on campesinos and freedom fighters in Latin America, while doing nothing to reduce drug use at home. read more

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Lying at the Top (09/03)

As the rationale for the most recent US intervention abroad unravels, outrage and disbelief have been expressed over the possibility that President Bush and his team "misled" Congress and the public. When Bush asserted in his 2003 State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein was seeking African uranium, was he simply misinformed or purposely deceiving us?

At various points, administration spokesmen also asserted that Iraq was a) responsible for the 9/11 attacks, b) directly linked to al-Qaeda, c) trying to import aluminum tubes to develop nuclear weapons, d) still hiding vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War, e) capable of developing smallpox, f) obstructing weapons inspectors, and g) able to deploy weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes. None of this is turning out to be true. read more

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Secrets R Us (3/02)

It was classic spin. When NATO’s US and British troops in Macedonia began evacuating Albanian rebels in June, officials claimed they were merely attempting to help Europe avert a devastating civil war. Most media dutifully repeated that as fact. But the explanation only made sense if you ignored a troublesome contradiction, namely US support for both the Macedonian Armed Forces and the Albanians fighting them. Beyond that, there’s a decade of confused and manipulative Western policies, climaxing with NATO bombing and the failure to impose “peace” through aggression in Kosovo. Together, these moves have effectively destabilized the region. read more

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Prison Business (8/01)

Beeville, Texas: 4.30 a.m.

One by one the bosses clip-clop over to one of the guard towers that surround the prison. They chat for a while among themselves, waiting amiably on horseback. Above them, the picket guard attaches a rope to a plastic milk crate, then lowers the crate over the side. Inside the crate are the bosses’ guns.

They are .357 Magnums, and the bosses are authorized to shoot to kill. When the crate reaches saddle height, each boss dips in and grabs one. There is one more guard on horseback, and he stays aloof from the others. He is known as the Highrider, and he is armed not with a pistol, but with a rifle: a .30-30 capable of picking off a running inmate at several hundred yards.  read more

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Bush: campaign to advance reactionary Right (12/02)

When almost-elected President George W. Bush announced his “war on terrorism” in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, he also launched a campaign to advance the agenda of the reactionary Right at home and abroad. This includes rolling back an already mangled federal human services sector, reverting to deficit spending for the benefit of a wealthy creditor class, increasing the repression of dissent, and further expanding the budgets and global reach of the US military and other components of the national security state. read more

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Enron’s Global Game (12/01)

Until it imploded last October, Enron — long known as End-Run by its critics — was often described as just another aggressive corporation eager to expand its portfolio and open routes into new markets, albeit sometimes with "strong arm" tactics. The implication in most press reports was that, so long as consumers and shareholders came out on top, how it operated was a matter of little public concern.

But Enron was never just another company. It was a major architect and proponent of utility deregulation, with close friends in both the Clinton and two Bush Administrations. Headquartered in Houston, TX, it was also the largest contributor to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, giving at least $550,000 to Bush himself and an estimated $1.8 million to the Republican Party during the 2000 elections. Since then, however, it has also emerged as one of the biggest corporate rip offs in history. Early evidence indicates that its executives hid at least half a billion in debt while enriching themselves through insider trading and financial gimmicks. In the end, they ran the company into the ground. Citgroup, J.P. Morgan and other banking houses were either hoodwinked or accomplices. In either case, they lured in shareholders with empty promises. read more