Backtalk, September 9, 2005

What’s Next, Mr. War President?

“What will it take for Americans to reestablish accountability in their government? Bush has gotten away with lies and an illegal war of aggression, with outing CIA agents, with war crimes against Iraqi civilians, with the horrors of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture centers, and now with the destruction of New Orleans.”

Indeed, what WILL it take to bring these foaming canines to heel?

First, it will require citizens to understand that empires have been shown by history to be impossible to maintain and we must dismantle our own and come home for good.

Second, citizens will have to realize they must take care of themselves, for demanding services on every front only empowers those whose interests are beyond the interests of we, the people.

Third, citizens must simply say no to extortionary tax rates at the federal level, for the quickest way to end the empire is to choke off its lifeblood, money.

Fourth, citizens must come to understand that elected officials are no better than those who elected them and should act this way, not as pompous, preening peacocks who care not a whit for people, only the power vested in them by the people.

There are many others, but becoming self-supportive and refusing to pay high tax rates at the federal level will go a long way to bringing that cabal of destroyers to heel and hasten the destruction of empire.

~ Kirk A. Hayes


Bush is fantastic, but many Republicans who want to be reelected will now turn on him. He has now created more quandaries for the U.S. than any president since Lincoln.

This is a first-rate comment.

~ Gabriel Kolko

In the attempts of the Bush administration to divert blame to the state officials, I think there are some key questions that need to be answered that I have never heard anyone ask. They have to do with the federalization of the National Guard with respect to Iraq.

Federalized troops, due to very sensible laws keeping the federal government out of local law enforcement, are forbidden from undertaking any law enforcement activities, including stopping looting in the streets. On the other hand, if they are not federalized, it is one of their primary duties to back up law enforcement activities as required in this sort of situation.

The remaining Guard troops in the area: were they considered still federalized? Did their command structures answer to the local authorities or to Bush? How is this reconciled with any recent tours in Iraq? Does the federal government only federalize them for the duration of their tour, and then dump them on the states to recover between tours, hoping they will be ready the next time they need to be sent to Iraq?

Whatever the answer to the preceding questions, how much did the confusion in command structure and other aspects of service in Iraq make the troops who happened to be home recovering less ready and less able to respond to the needs of the state? Were they really available before the storm to help with evacuation, who commanded all the remaining equipment that might have been brought to bear on reinforcing the levees after the storm was gone, etc.? And what about the obvious confusion when the leaders claim they kept ordering what helicopters they had to go back and reinforce the levees, only to find that they would go out rescuing people off from housetops instead (at a time that the levees had not collapsed yet)?

~ Ray Whitmer

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

A very good question. I do not know if the National Guard troops in the U.S. remain federalized due to war call-ups. However, we do know that Bush sent federalized regular U.S. military troops into New Orleans, thus violating the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

Dear writers:

I just wanted to express my genuine appreciation for your efforts to wake up the average American and show him/her what is really going on in our government. It’s too bad the media is so biased, that they willingly manipulate the average American mind, by withholding anything critical of the Bush administration and its ridiculous actions. Being the son of Middle East immigrants (Lebanese), I have been able to witness, firsthand, the gradual demise of our reputation, through many trips abroad – including trips to Lebanon, Brazil, France, Saudi Arabia, Amsterdam, etc.

When I first began my travels, I was greeted with envy to every country I visited, just for the fact that I was an American. People would tell me how lucky I was, and how they hoped to one day emigrate to the U.S. Now, anywhere I go, people ask me, “What happened to your country?” And also questions like, “Why is the great American democracy allowing itself to be used by the neocons for their pro-Israeli agenda?” and “Why is America allowing itself to become a dictatorship, under the rule of a lying, money-grubbing idiot?” and “Are you here to tell us how to live our lives? Or is that only the job of your dictator?” Honestly, I don’t even tell people I am visiting from the U.S. anymore. I say Canada, out of fear for my own well-being. And, I’m not even talking about Lebanon; more so France, Saudi Arabia, and Amsterdam.

Anyway, thank you for your truthful and informative articles. Keep up the good work, and if you ever need any help with anything in the Detroit area, please let me know.

~ Hasan Abbas

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Hasan Abbas tells us what I hear from many Americans who still travel abroad.

Roberts’ article is exactly on target! Everything he has stated is correct, especially his remarks about the neocons. Bush and his suggestion that everyone read Sharansky’s artifice of a book concerning democracy in the Middle East cannot be supported. Moreover, Bush’s plans for permanent U.S. bases in Iraq is a tragic error that will be compounded against U.S. citizens.

The U.S. through the Bush administration must pressure Israel to make a fair and equitable peace with a separate Palestinian state. No more U.S. tax dollars for Israel. In particular, there must be no cash aid to the Israelis – only aid that is spent in the United States. Paul Craig Roberts is heroic in telling the truth to Americans!

~ June Cassidy

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

I believe that June Cassidy is correct that the U.S. is mired in a costly situation in Iraq for no other reason than the Likud Party’s determination not to reach an accord with the Palestinians.

What I find puzzling is, number one, last year when Florida had all of those hurricanes, disaster relief was ready before they hit, and Bush was there immediately afterwards, handing out bottled water. Number two, since the majority of the people that were stranded in NO had no transportation, then why didn’t the government use those school buses, rolls upon rolls of them that were submerged in the flood waters, beforehand to to get people out of there? Hmm?

~ T. Ikard

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

These are good questions. Many readers have suggested to me that the Bush administration took no action to help New Orleans until desperate people went looting for food, water, and a drug fix. Many readers are of the opinion that the Bush administration intentionally left the stranded poor in New Orleans in order to provoke looting so that the administration would escape criticism for rushing in regular U.S. military troops in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1978. Readers point out that by violating the act of congress, which prohibits military from performing civil police functions, Bush is subject to both fine and two years in prison. I looked up the act and read it, and that is what it clearly says. Readers tell me that New Orleans was left to suffer in order that federal power could gain a new precedent and unleash U.S. military troops on civilian populations. Readers point out that the National Guard is organized by state and is regarded as something like a state militia in order to avoid the restrictions the Posse Comitatus Act places on the civilian use of the military. We have to ask ourselves why Bush sent regular U.S. Military into New Orleans if there were enough National Guard forces available. You have to wonder, too, why the National Guard is in Iraq and regular U.S. military troops are available to be sent to New Orleans.

How New Orleans Was Lost

I have no argument with your country embarking on fools’ missions. I would add that the Iraq venture is a thief’s venture intending to steal someone else’s natural resources.

My point is that the engineers who built the NO levies to withstand a Cat3 hurricane also have lobbied the U.S. government for decades for an upgrade to the levies. So, if you want to lay blame for inadequate levies on a president I think you should do so for every president for the last century.

~ Lorne Dyck

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

This person is confused. The flood control projects had been ongoing until Bush started slashing the budgets in 2003.

Message from Paul Craig Roberts:

I received a number of responses to my column, “How New Orleans Was Lost.” For the most part, they were letters letting off steam.

Bush supporters were indignant that I would blame Bush for the hurricane. They said blaming Bush for an act of nature demonstrated my bias and hatred. Of course, I did not blame Bush for the hurricane. I merely reported the statements from emergency management chiefs that money for New Orleans levee and hurricane protection projects had been diverted by the Bush administration to fund Homeland Security and war in Iraq. Some “homeland security” when criminal negligence costs us our largest port and destroys most of one of our most famous cities.

Immigration proponents objected to my line about protecting the U.S. from invasion by illegal immigrants. It is their opinion that illegal immigrants have a right to America. Citizenship, they assert, is an artificial construct invented by government, like a radio license, and has no meaning in a just world.

Libertarians objected to New Orleans being located where it is as it requires federal subsidies. Many agreed with the speaker of the House that the city should not be rebuilt. This position is so ahistorical as to be nonsensical.

A few readers took me to task for not blaming "the Jews" for inciting us to war, with the consequence that resources were diverted from our pressing needs at home. I certainly do not accept that it is anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli government policies; however, I know for a fact that not all Israelis are members of the Likud Party. Many Israelis oppose the genocidal policies against the Palestinians. There is much open discussion and criticism of the Likud Party in the Israeli press, and far more criticism of the Israeli government’s stance against Muslims than can be found in the American media. Therefore, I do not agree with blanket criticism of Jews. There is more honest discussion in Israel than in the U.S.

What struck me most is that the Bush supporters are in total denial about the diversion of the funds allocated to protect New Orleans, just as they are in denial about the war in Iraq. Bush supporters regard facts that stack against Bush as expressions of anti-American hatreds. Giving these people factual information calls forth the following response: “If you hate America so much, why don’t you go live in Cuba?” Little wonder a government supported by such low intellects left New Orleans exposed to catastrophe.

Sorry, but this is a bunch of baloney. I’m no great supporter of Bush or war, but this is just a silly bit of non-logic. New Orleans is a venerable “old” city, but is located at or below sea level in a place subject to hurricanes and other causes of floods. These causes have been present for thousands of years. The levies were built only “recently.” They were built before the Bushes were born and they have been inadequate to defend against a category 4 or 5 hurricane since before the Bushes were elected. They could have been improved during the FDR era, or the LBJ era, or the Reagan, or the Clinton, etc.

This is an historic tragedy that has devastated and will continue to devastate so many lives. You do your own cause harm to try to sweep this in as something that’s “Bush’s fault.” There are plenty of other things you can find that are Bush’s fault without being absurd and blowing your credibility.

~ Richard Marshall

Matthew Barganier replies:

The effects of flooding could have been greatly mitigated using just a tiny portion of the money (some of it specifically diverted from Army Corps of Engineers projects in New Orleans) spent in Iraq. This is from Fox News contributor Radley Balko: “Levees, Money, Bush, Iraq.” Of course, Bush only bears the blame for the last five years of the empire’s long, tragic misuse of the taxpayers’ money.

Katrina, Iraq, and the Know-It-All Syndrome

Dear Mr. Raimondo,

I have been a subscriber to National Review since the early 1960s. I was really burned by their “Unpatriotic Conservatives” article, but let it pass. However, these disgusting remarks by Goldberg and Lowry on New Orleans did it. I canceled my subscription. Besides, the magazine has stunk for at least the last five years anyway.

~ T.R. Quinlan, Staten Island, NY

Dear Raimondo,

I approve of the article in general, but a caution: You open with positive coverage of this heroic former Special Forces guy calling for full-scale military takeover of the city. The neocons would love to have a full-scale military takeover of all the cities. The fact they didn’t find it worthwhile to do it in this flooded city full of poor black people doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love to do it in some place full of difficult liberal people making waves. We need to be very careful about calls for martial law at this time.

~ Jim Gibson

A Death Threat

Although Mr. Calderon’s article about a possible revolutionary scenario was in bad taste, and obviously directed at those he dislikes, and something he wouldn’t mind seeing played out, it does not constitute a death threat. Wishing someone dead, which is the mindset every day for many people, is not prosecutable except as a thought crime in a police state. Being the object of hate goes with the territory of political commentary, especially when that commentary rings true and upsets the political establishment as Justin’s commentary almost always does.

~ DW

Matthew Barganier replies:

No one here reported Mr. Calderon to the police or urged others to do so.

He can fantasize about assassinations all he wants, but there should be consequences (even if only ostracism, as advocated here) for inciting others to violence.

Now Comes Katrina

Bless your efforts, BUT quit preaching to the choir and tell us where we need to turn. The Democrats are in league with Cheney (forget Bush) and want to win this war. Clinton and Bush are two sides of the same phony coin. We don’t need for you to tell us where we are, we need for you or someone to tell where we ought to go. The future of not only America but the whole world is at stake.

~ Harold O’Leary

Gordon Prather replies:

On the contrary, I believe it to be my function – indeed my duty – to present to you as best I can the facts on those issues for which I have particular expertise. Not my opinion. The facts. When they are not actually lying to you, the neo-crazy media sycophants – frequently in league with the humans rights crowd – are desperate to keep those facts from you. Our system will not work – cannot work – with an uninformed or misinformed citizenry.

Congress failed to stop Clinton from bombing Kosovo and Baghdad and to stop Bush from invading Iraq. But perhaps the governors of these United States can put a stop to Bush sending their National Guardsmen to fight in wars of aggression – unauthorized by Congress and not sanctioned by the Security Council.

Iraq War Splurge Hits Home at 150 MPH


I take it that you were among the members of the howling mob that saw the disaster coming and desperately tried to warn Bush about the danger. I can’t quite recall, but didn’t you – with characteristic farsightedness – personally try to tell the president that a natural disaster was fast approaching? You MUST have. That MUST’VE been you I saw frantically pounding on the White House door in the forlorn hope of telling someone, ANYONE that the sky was about to fall. Otherwise, I might be forced to conclude that your article was based on perfect 20-20 hindsight and nothing more. Well, maybe one thing more: a simpleminded political opportunism that reveals your incapacity to grasp the realities of the times we live in and the war we’re fighting. All I can say to you – and I know I’m a bit early – is “Happy May Day, Comrade!”

I feel a lot less informed for having read your drivel.

~ Anton Salanski

Jim Lobe replies:

You’re right, I didn’t warn the president personally. But perhaps what you might have picked up from my article and many others that are now “flooding” the media was that there were many, many people who were telling the president and his chief aides that New Orleans faced a very serious situation. These included his own Army Corps of Engineers, the Louisiana congressional delegation (yes, including Republican members), and the most important newspaper in the state. It’s quite clear he and his advisers and cabinet secretaries had other things – and higher priorities – on their minds. Now he and the victims and the nation will have to live with the consequences.

Americans Last

This blog is an utter travesty. I am surprised it has been given the light of day. Are you all so bound up with political correctness you can’t face the truth? Our British students were taken out of the dome because they were white – yes – and because they were being vilely racially abused and their physical welfare was under threat. Face the facts here. Racism isn’t just a white problem. Bleeding heart liberals take off your blinkers and start reporting the actuality please.

~ Elizabeth, England

Will the Government’s Abysmal Response to Katrina Recur During a Terrorist Attack?

I am a strong states-rights liberal. While a central staff attorney for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Shreveport, I was the go-to person on state-federal questions.

A tornado spinning through my part of Texas, part of Tornado Alley, is a local concern. A terrorist attack? A hurricane? Ohio/Mississippi River Valleys’ levees? Those are federal problems.

The water that threatens New Orleans is not Louisiana water. It comes from upriver, crossing state lines, or it comes from the ocean – federal turf.

Louisiana could easily afford to pay for its own levees if permitted to tax the billions of dollars in goods floating down the Mississippi or coming upriver. Wisely or foolishly, the Constitution leaves those functions to Washington, not Baton Rouge.

Therefore it is up to Washington to pay the piper. The feds could empower and greatly expand the Coast Guard, or fund local efforts. FEMA could have more regional and local offices. After all, the Post Office is a federal outpost in every hamlet and actually does an outstanding job compared to the rest of the federal government.

Locals can generally handle emergencies from internal problems, and presidents have been too quick to declare “federal” disaster areas that have nothing to do federal concerns. Terrorists? Hurricanes? Old Man River? Washington needs to pony up.

~ David Cole

Bolton in a China Shop

Dear Dr. Prather:

Another of your fine pieces. As a member of the steering group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), I am naturally happy to see any sign of sanity and thus look forward to your comments.

I would note here that the egregious Bolton as our ambassador to the UN is not acting on his own initiative. One assumes that he takes his instructions from Secretary of State Rice and that she takes hers from the White House. I think it would be good to emphasize that while Bolton’s manner of presenting them may be all his inimitable own, the proposals he puts forward are those of the administration he serves.

~ David MacMichael

The Disastrous Proof of a Failed Foreign Policy: The Specter of New Orleans

Mr. Deliso,

Sir, thank you for this article!

Indeed this represents a huge failure of our government. It is Friday morning, and aid is just now arriving. Our governor, Ms. Blanco, was near tears from this disaster. Mayor Nagin is totally frustrated.

Me, I am totally pissed off at the slow response.

If I weren’t disabled and had I the training in rescue, I’d have been in New Orleans with a pickup truck load of supplies on Tuesday morning. I live in central Louisiana, my luck held this time. No damage here. It could have been much worse. Had Katrina come ashore a bit more to the west, we would be refugees also.

Our government sends resources to Iraq for lies. Now the troops are needed here. Imagine the morale of our National Guard troops in Iraq. They are being killed for a lie. Until Monday morning, at least they figured their families were safe. Now they see the pictures of New Orleans and must wonder what in the bloody damn hell they are doing half way around the world.

Bring the troops home, NOW!

Screw Iraq, we have made it a terrible mess, and will never make it any better. I feel so ashamed of what we did to Iraq. Nothing we ever do will make it any better. Just like what we did in Vietnam. (I am a former Marine, Vietnam vet.)

At some point we need to elect antiwar leaders to high public office. The ONLY war we should ever fight is one in which we are attacked. And then we should kick the sh*t out of our “leaders” for getting us to the point of being attacked.

We are indeed reaping the “rewards” of the Shrub’s war on terror. Homeland security obviously does NOT include being secure in one’s own home or city.

This is a national shame. This slow response will (hopefully) haunt this administration forever. Katrina and her aftermath: We will NEVER forget!

~ Charlie Ehlen, Glenmora, LA


As a former Naval officer, I have looked on with a sense of awe and disbelief at the extent of the War Party’s machinations à la neocon cabal. The current situation confronting this country borders on disbelief. I simply don’t recognize my country anymore. The pernicious extent of this quasi-fascist rogue bunch of pseudo-intellectuals who line their pockets with war profits while young American men and women are sacrificed to the Altar of Mars ought to make every American regardless of political persuasion retch with contempt. As a moderate who has voted for candidates of both political parties, I find myself, politically speaking, undergoing a metamorphosis to the left.

If these cretins remain in power, I will probably be to the left of Che Guevara. I salute as spokesmen for the “traditional right” and applaud your true conservative stance, which this “Republican” administration has tossed to the wind. Historically, we were duly warned by the last true Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell speech admonishing the nation to be on guard against the military-industrial complex. Both parties have remained hostage to this war-induced phobia with adverse ramifications for our civil liberties and world reputation, and if not arrested soon, we will simply go the way of other empires. Continue your fine work!

~ Patrick Amoroso

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