September Song

For the days dwindle down
To a precious few -
September, November....

They woo you with words and a clover ring
But if you examine the goods they bring
They have little to offer but the songs they sing
And a plentiful waste of time of day -
And a plentiful waste of time.

Oh, it's a long, long while
From May to December.
And the days grow short
When you reach September....

The New Ugly Americans

by George Ochenski
Reprinted with permission from the Missoula, MT Independent.

Secretary of State Colin Powell was jeered, booed, and heckled when, as America’s top official at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, he attempted to defend the unconscionable Bush energy development and consumption agenda and explain away the environmental consequences. Hate to say it, but he got what he deserved. Global protests are increasing over the perceived use of America’s superpower military to bully other nations on trade, politics, and the environment. Both at home and abroad, a tide of resentment against the new "ugly Americans" is rising—and this tide shows no signs of ebbing any time soon.

The Dead and the Guilty

Simon Schama
guardian unlimited

For one afternoon, at least, it was grievously simple: Britons and Americans gathered, indivisibly, to mourn a shared massacre.

No terrorist attack in history had ever claimed more British lives: 67. So it seemed right that a dark Manchester drizzle was falling on Fifth Avenue on September 20 as mourners - and we were all mourners - climbed the steps of St Thomas's church, a piece of pure Barsetshire dropped into midtown Manhattan.

The usual suspects filed in: the Clintons; Kofi Annan, Mayor Giuliani, Governor Pataki. But before Tony and Cherie Blair arrived, a side door beside the choir opened and the British bereaved walked in to take their pews at the front of the church.

At once the brittle stylishness of the city collapsed into pathos.

A Puritan on the warpath

by Tristram Hunt
guardian unlimited

The Biblical zeal with which the US President is waging a moral crusade against Saddam Hussein owes much to the dissenting protestantism of America's original settlers

As America's war drums beat ever louder, the Bush administration has embarked upon an unprecedented exercise in diplomatic softening-up. Under the fashionable rubric of 'public diplomacy', the White House is aiming to legitimise war in Iraq by explaining to a global audience the selfless idealism of the American way. While Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld appeal to the 'kick-ass' militarism of the US mainstream, new more subtle pro-American radio stations and cable channels proliferate throughout the Middle East. In Washington, the urgent need to challenge hostile media perceptions has seen the public diplomacy spin unit moved from the State Department to the White House West Wing.

It's the Economy

As long ago as February of 2002, economists such as Paul Krugman of Princeton and Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley urged caution at concluding that a slowing in new unemployment claims and a stabilizing of industrial production signaled economic recovery. Rather they warned at the possibility of an appropriately named "W-shaped" recession -- also known as a "double dip" recession. Factors in February suggesting a double-dip included:

  • The impact of unemployment. Although the number of workers without jobs had stabilized, many had been out of work for months and had exhausted their benefits.
  • Local governments out of funds. Many local governments were expected to cut spending and lay off workers, further depressing the economy.
  • The so-called tax refund. The psychological impact of owing $300 more than expected (because the so-called refund was really an advance on future tax cuts) had the potential to dampen consumer spending.

Bush held up plan to hit Bin Laden

by Julian Borger
guardian unlimited

The Bush administration sat on a Clinton-era plan to attack al-Qaida in Afghanistan for eight months because of political hostility to the outgoing president and competing priorities, it was reported yesterday.

The plan, under which special forces troops would have been sent after Osama bin Laden, was drawn up in the last days of the Clinton administration but a decision was left to the incoming Bush team.

The Corporate Corruption Administration

"At least you can't say Bush doesn't know what he's talking about when he admonishes corporate America to avoid breaking the rules," wrote Clarence Page in the July 7 Chicago Tribune. "He has seen it happen from the inside." Two days later Bush sternly lectured Wall Streeters that "there's no capitalism without conscience. There is no wealth without character." The speech was widely seen as an effort to get in front of the news story that had pushed the war on terrorism off the front pages: the wave of revelations of accounting irregularities that began with Enron, leading to huge restatements of corporate earnings, or outright failures. Having once called Enron the work of a few "bad apples" Bush was now warning of a threat to "our entire free enterprise system." Yet his concern might more appropriately have been for his own image, and the Republican system of values he has embraced during his entire political life, as his own dubious business practices and those of his administration came under renewed scrutiny.

Insanity or Security?

by John Chuckman
Reprinted from YellowTimes.org.

Informing as part of an open society? Indeed, under Mr. Bush's proposed Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS for short) - a kind of national, atomic-mutation of Neighborhood Watch - an estimated four percent of Americans will join a long and glorious tradition of state-security informants.

The tradition of citizen informants has roots going back at least to the French Revolution. During the Terror, citizens were encouraged to inform on neighbors and even children to inform on their parents. More than a few harmless people went to the guillotine just on the basis of a hateful neighbor denouncing them.


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