Friday, February 27, 2009

Two plus One

“Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government.”

--Lenny Bruce

Here is a video of the late great Sonny Stitt playing the beautiful ballad I Can’t Get Started (With You) written by Vernon Duke. The song itself as written is gorgeous but Jazz musicians rarely play standards as written and Stitt mostly just hints at the melody which is fine with me. I generally don’t have much appreciation for mediocre players with poor technique but you never need worry about that with Stitt. Stitt basically does everything right. He has a great sound whether he is playing alto sax or tenor sax and in the video notice how his fingers hardly seem to move as opposed to fingers flying way off the keys. His articulation is superb as is his mastery of the Jazz idiom in the swing feel department and a nice use of vibrato as in not overly done.

Stitt claimed he wasn’t influenced by Charlie Parker but developed his playing on his own and I believe him mainly because he doesn’t sound like Parker to me. His phrasing, harmonic approach, and tonal quality all sound unique. Of course some people say he sounds like Parker but I don’t agree and believe that they are just confusing the fact that Stitt and Parker are playing the same type of music on the same type of instrument but whatever. The bottom line is that if you are familiar with Stitt he is instantly recognizable as is Parker which says it all as far as originality goes in my opinion.

At any rate here is the music.

Paul Desmond is also a favorite of mine and here he is playing Emily (sorry, don’t recall the composer) another lovely ballad. In this case the melody itself remains much more intact than I Can’t Get Started as played by Stitt but that is the prerogative of the Jazz musician. Desmond is much more understated than Stitt and provides a nice contrast of style. Notice that Desmond is the only one who solos on this in contrast to the Stitt performance where the pianist and bassist solo. Ballads are slow and difficult to keep interesting for the audience so I tend to like ballad arrangements that feature only one artist which keeps the performance shorter. Also notice Desmond only hints at the song as written in the last chorus rather than playing it as he did in the first chorus.

This next one is for my friend Dennis Perrin. This a video featuring Lenny Bruce who was a Jazz fan himself working with who I consider to be the greatest Jazz musician of all time, Cannonball Adderley, a great combination and fun to watch.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I just moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area and am loving it. Whoever said you can’t go home again was not completely correct, in some ways true but not always. I have a bunch of stuff to take care of including going back to the sticks to get my house ready for sale and getting settled into my new abode so I won’t be posting much for the next month or so.

As you can tell I never cared for Obama and I like him less with each passing day. But what is especially sickening to me is the Obama-mania that seems to be gripping the nation. I think after eight years of Bush anything looks better – to some – but the Obama-mania makes Obama doubly dangerous from where I am sitting. It simply allows this slippery eel to get away with murder, literally. And I don’t use the word literally very often for more than one reason.

State murder is still murder no matter how much window dressing you apply. It is unforgivable, it is contemptible, it is soul sickening. I don’t care if the murderer loves puppy dogs and big eyed kittens. I don’t care if the murderer donates to the boy scouts. I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care. A murderer is a murderer is a murderer. There is no half-way ground when it comes to murder and Obama has already murdered. You simply cannot slice it any other way no matter how hard you may try.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Droning On

In a previous post I mentioned…

Obama continues to use drone attacks against people on the Pakistan border and though the news media has now seen fit to remain silent on just who is being killed I believe it goes without saying that many of the murdered are civilians.

The reason I mentioned that the news media is silent on who exactly is being killed in Afghanistan was due to the fact that in the first drone attack ordered by Obama the news media, or some of the news media, didn’t seem shy about mentioning that civilians were being killed. True, the various reports didn’t agree as to the exact numbers but they all agreed that civilians were paying the ultimate price while in the more recent bombings the news now seemed to assert that only “terrorists” were being killed yet this seemed out of character for what typically happens in bombings.

Chris Floyd who works much harder at writing about this than anyone else writes about civilian deaths in Afghanistan taking the news media to task which they certainly should be.


We reported here last week about another in the barrage of stories detailing civilian deaths at the hands of American-led forces in the "good war" in Afghanistan, now being escalated by Barack Obama. (And not only in Afghanistan; Obama is also rapidly expanding American attacks inside Pakistan to include forces there with little or no involvement with the war in Afghanistan -- along with the usual blood-fruit harvest of civilians, of course.)

In last week's post, we took note of Washington's claim that U.S. missiles had killed "15 militants" in a raid that Afghan officials said actually killed 13 civilians, including six women and two children. Today, the New York Times reports that Pentagon has now admitted that they did indeed kill 13 civilians in the raid, and only 3 militants -- precisely as the Afghan authorities had claimed.

Not that this will give our cool, adorable, Buddha-like president a moment's pause, but the incident and its reportage gives us yet another timely reminder that the claims by Afghan authorities about civilian casualties are almost always highly accurate, while the first instinct of the Pentagon is to lie, deceive and spin -- with the sure knowledge that its initial claims will always be greeted as authoritative by the Homeland press, while the inevitable climbdowns and qualifications that come later will pass largely unnoticed.

Also, it should be stressed that the reports of civilian deaths at Western hands in Afghanistan that do make it into the mainstream press are almost always based on investigations by Afghan authorities -- that is to say, by officials who are part of the American-backed Afghan government. There is is a great myth among many backers of the "good war" in Afghanistan that accounts of horrendous "collateral damage" caused by American bombs, missiles, ground raids and covert operations are simply propaganda spooned out to the "liberal media" by the Taliban. This is itself another self-serving lie of the American war machine and its many sycophants.

Now I know that many people don’t agree with me when I call Obama a moron and perhaps you believe I am being unfair. After all, Dear Leader wrote a book! But let me clarify if I may. And no I don’t expect people to agree, I don’t even care all that much if you do or not.

Anyone who runs for the office of the presidency of the United States is already completely indoctrinated in the American myth of American superiority to all other nations past, present, and no doubt future. People who are thusly indoctrinated are not exactly what you would call thinking people. In fact I posit that the indoctrinated have long since ceased to think. Though Obama supporters touted Obama as the “peace” candidate Obama continues to destroy human life but because he is indoctrinated it hardly bothers him at all nor does it bother his supporters who for sure don’t think I am being fair to the big O. Consider that during his campaign he promised to escalate the Afghan war with more troops and he has honored that promise (his peace candidate supporters ignore this or justify it with nonsensical arguments) yet he made this promise without a plan or a goal in mind! All Obama knew was that he wanted to escalate the war yet there was no thought behind his desire to pursue the escalation. This can hardly be described as thinking and as far as I am concerned people who don’t think are morons.

Of course I am lying and making all of this up because I am ever so evil since I am not goo-goo-gah-gah for Obama yet consider the following link from a previous post.


The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

Larry Korb, a defence expert at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, said: “Obama is exactly right. Before he agrees to send 30,000 troops, he wants to know what the mission and the endgame is.”

This is really quite clear. If Obama had to ask what the endgame was that can only mean one thing. He wanted to send additional troops as he said during his campaign but he had no idea why he wanted to send more troops.

In my book this makes Obama a moron. Only a non-thinking fool would endanger the lives of more people be they military or civilian without any real plan or goal. And naturally people will say “Oh Obama had to say that to be elected” yet if that were the case he could have chosen not to send more troops yet he recently gave the order for an additional 17,000 troops to be sent to Afghanistan. Or perhaps Obama believed that throwing more troops into the fray is all that was needed to …what? Win what? What is there to win? A democracy in Afghanistan? Does anyone in their right mind really care if Afghanistan has a democracy? Why? Are you addled? Is your brain-pan leaking grey matter? Are you qualified to tell the Afghans how to lead their lives? If you believe you are qualified then you are just as indoctrinated as Obama. And just as thoughtless. Think about it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

22 February 2009

photo:David Sutton,

Some odds and ends:
UNT's CyberCemetery to preserve Internet sites from Bush administration. The UNT Libraries will preserve all federal government agencies' web sites that were created during the Bush administration.

Allison Kilkenny : "Obama’s War on Terror May Resemble Bush’s in Some Areas"

from Mark Kleiman's "Same Facts" blog: Jonathan Zasloff,
The Politics of Child Poverty

Admittedly this is from some three months ago, but I've been meaning to mention it.
(And it hasn't suddenly lost relevance in our post-GWB era of goodness and light.)

Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan (Thanks for Ruining America)By William Kleinknecht,AlterNet.

The Onion:"Nation's blacks creeped out by all the white people smiling at them"

from The Motley Fool:
"This bailout is great" and

"This bailout is terrible", both by Richard Gibbons.

Why this photo? The Oscars were on tonight but I didn't watch them. I generally did watch in my teens and twenties when I still thought they were relevant, but that was then. The girls are still pretty, of course, and I imagine they still do the luminaries-who-died-last year bit, so I thought that apropos of that I'd include this b&w image of Charlton Heston, who passed away in '07, seen here in his snazzy Jaguar E-type. I didn't care for most of his politics but it's hard to criticize his choice of wheels. Cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Six Pack, Twelve Pack, USA, AOK

In the general vein of my previous post I continue to be fascinated with American’s flagellating self-love, arrogance, and all-around delusional views of its own greatness which seems to be based mostly on having the “greatest military ever” which in itself is highly questionable considering the U.S. usually limits its attacks against other nations to those that are militarily much weaker than the U.S though I note that despite the apparent weakness of our victims they usually seem to survive our gentle “humanitarian” Midas touch of incompetent and all-around mediocre leaders (including Obama). I believe one of the most complimentary things the European generals in WWII said about American generals was that if you point them in a direction they will go there. I mean like the only reason there is any less violence in Iraq under general Petraeus is because we paid the “insurgents” to stay home and not kill anyone.

In regards to the ongoing drone attacks along the Pakistan border I don’t believe that anyone has noted the abject cowardice of such murderous pastimes. If you look at the thing what we have is some schmuck in some secret cave in Arizona many thousands of miles away from any danger piloting what is in effect a model airplane equipped with missiles, bombs or whatever and pulverizing what is most likely a bunch of poor farmers and their families in the dead of night. I wonder what said schmuck thinks of himself or herself as the case may be. Does the schmuck believe the schmuck is clever? Brave? True blue? A Patriot? A modern day warrior? After all, said schmuck is just a sneaky weasely sluggo who murders people by remote control at no danger to himself. This I find to be the epitome of how the U.S. conducts its imperial wars. God we are fucking great, eh?

But Americans are so trusting in their leaders and I keep wondering why? Where is the proof that we are being led by anyone that has the capacity to add two and two and come up with four? Almost every interference in the business of other nations has blown up in our leader’s faces. Bush forces an election in Gaza and essentially puts Hamas in power. Kennedy's involvement in the Vietnam War sets the stage for a war that is escalated out of complete control by two other dolts – LBJ and Nixon of the sweaty face.

From the National Security Archive (John Prados)

Records of the Kennedy national security meetings, both here and in our larger collection, show that none of JFK's conversations about a coup in Saigon featured consideration of what might physically happen to Ngo Dinh Diem or Ngo Dinh Nhu. The audio record of the October 29th meeting which we cite below also reveals no discussion of this issue. That meeting, the last held at the White House to consider a coup before this actually took place, would have been the key moment for such a conversation. The conclusion of the Church Committee agrees that Washington gave no consideration to killing Diem. (Note 12) The weight of evidence therefore supports the view that President Kennedy did not conspire in the death of Diem. However, there is also the exceedingly strange transcript of Diem's final phone conversation with Ambassador Lodge on the afternoon of the coup (Document 23), which carries the distinct impression that Diem is being abandoned by the U.S. Whether this represents Lodge's contribution, or JFK's wishes, is not apparent from the evidence available today.

A second charge has to do with Kennedy administration denials that it had had anything to do with the coup itself. The documentary record is replete with evidence that President Kennedy and his advisers, both individually and collectively, had a considerable role in the coup overall, by giving initial support to Saigon military officers uncertain what the U.S. response might be, by withdrawing U.S. aid from Diem himself, and by publicly pressuring the Saigon government in a way that made clear to South Vietnamese that Diem was isolated from his American ally. In addition, at several of his meetings (Documents 7, 19, 22) Kennedy had CIA briefings and led discussions based on the estimated balance between pro- and anti-coup forces in Saigon that leave no doubt the United States had a detailed interest in the outcome of a coup against Ngo Dinh Diem. The CIA also provided $42,000 in immediate support money to the plotters the morning of the coup, carried by Lucien Conein, an act prefigured in administration planning Document 17).

The ultimate effect of United States participation in the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem was to commit Washington to Saigon even more deeply. Having had a hand in the coup America had more responsibility for the South Vietnamese governments that followed Diem. That these military juntas were ineffectual in prosecuting the Vietnam war then required successively greater levels of involvement from the American side. The weakness of the Saigon government thus became a factor in U.S. escalations of the Vietnam war, leading to the major ground war that the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson opened in 1965.

(Emphasis added by me)

Someday it may occur to Americans that we are led by people who shouldn’t be allowed to lead a troop of cub scouts. But to be perfectly fair perhaps people aren’t capable or even needed to lead other people. Now there’s a concept.

To the relief of some I will not be posting for a few days. I’m heading to the Bay Area to seek an apartment in Palo Alto in a bold escape from rural America. I never should have left the Bay Area my home for most of my life. I can’t wait to get back. Actually I have found many of the inhabitants of rural America to be very decent people but this place ain’t fer me.

For more betterer reading than my own hackiness on the topic of leaders I would suggest this by Ioz.

And this by Dennis Perrin.


One of the stranger aspects of the U.S. psyche is the tendency for Americans to fawn over and defend the actions of their presidents more specifically liberals who defend the actions of their Democratic presidents and conservatives who defend the actions of their Republican presidents. Out of this strange phenomenon myths arise concerning the true nature of our leaders. Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to be our greatest leader who fought the good fight to free blacks. However Lincoln never intended black Americans to be on an equal footing with whites and was likely a racist himself. Consider the following quotes.

"If all earthly power were given me," said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, "I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land." After acknowledging that this plan's "sudden execution is impossible," he asked whether freed blacks should be made "politically and socially our equals?" "My own feelings will not admit of this," he said, "and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not ... We can not, then, make them equals."

And this.

There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people to the idea of indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races ... A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as an immediate separation is impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas ...

In fact Lincoln wanted to expel blacks from U.S. soil.

Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be.

Obviously there is the myth and then there is the man.

I believe that it is equally obvious that many liberals will willingly defend Obama no matter what he does. Some say that it does no good to criticize Obama but I do not accept that as a valid view. Obama has surrounded himself with a collection of warmongers and has kept the same group of people in power that brought about what appears to be another great depression, the same people who donated ten million dollars to his election, and left them in charge of “fixing” the economy.

Mike Whitney writes…


Most of the economists say one thing while the bankers say the exact opposite. It's no surprise; they want to save their own skin. But bailing out the banks again is not in the public interest.

Most of the bad paper and non-performing loans appear to be concentrated in the very largest banks. By some estimates Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan-Chase and Wells Fargo are holding two-thirds of all the toxic mortgage-backed paper. Therein lies the problem. These banking Goliaths have powerful constituencies and substantial political power. Keep in mind, the Obama campaign received over $10 million in contributions from Wall Street, the largest contributors by far. This suggests that Timothy Geithner is point-man for the banksters and his job is to fend off nationalization. Geithner admitted as much on Tuesday in an interview with Brian Williams when he said that he intended to "keep the system in private hands". If that's the case, then the taxpayer better get ready for a real shellacking, because it will take many trillions to keep these dinosaurs from extinction.

And this.

The problem goes well beyond the failed banks. The issue can't be resolved because important clients of the banking lobby have a stranglehold on the Dept of Treasury and are sabotaging the rescue operation. In fact, it's looking more and more like Obama's election was part of a quid pro quo to ensure that Geithner, Summers and the other "big bank" loyalists would continue to control the levers of political power during the stormy years ahead, otherwise they would do what is necessary and and shut them down now.

People have been wondering if Obama would conduct investigations into the illegal activities of the previous administration and as it turns out we find Obama defending the very crimes that some had hoped he would investigate.


Despite President Obama's vow to open government more than ever, the Justice Department is defending Bush administration decisions to keep secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

In half a dozen lawsuits, Justice lawyers have opposed formal motions or spurned out-of-court offers to delay court action until the new administration rewrites Freedom of Information Act guidelines and decides whether the new rules might allow the public to see more.

In only one case has the Justice Department agreed to suspend a FOIA lawsuit until the disputed documents can be re-evaluated under the yet-to-be-written guidelines. That case involves negotiations on an anti-counterfeiting treaty, not the more controversial, secret anti-terrorism tactics that spawned the other lawsuits as well as Obama's promises of greater openness.

"The signs in the last few days are not entirely encouraging," said Jameel Jaffer, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed several lawsuits seeking the Bush administration's legal rationales for warrantless domestic wiretapping and for its treatment of terrorism detainees.

The documents sought in these lawsuits "are in many cases the documents that the public most needs to see," Jaffer said. "It makes no sense to say that these documents are somehow exempt from President Obama's directives."

Groups that advocate open government, civil liberties and privacy were overjoyed that Obama on his first day in office reversed the FOIA policy imposed by Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft. The Bush Justice Department said it would use any legitimate legal basis to defend withholding records from the public. Obama pledged "an unprecedented level of openness in government" and ordered new FOIA guidelines written with a "presumption in favor of disclosure."

But Justice's actions in courts since then have cast doubt on how far the new administration will go.

On and on it goes and with each passing day we find very little change on some of the most pressing and important issues of the day. It seems quite clear that Obama has inherited many of the grossly unjust and illegal powers that Bush claimed during his time in office and fully intends to keep them intact. Obama continues to lie about Iran with the same scare tactics used by the Bush administration with claims he and Panetta -- the new CIA chief -- make regarding Iran’s supposed pursuit of WMD. These are the same scare tactics used to lead the U.S. into war with Iraq and now we see them being used to possibly lead us to war with Iran. Obama continues to use drone attacks against people on the Pakistan border and though the news media has now seen fit to remain silent on just who is being killed I believe it goes without saying that many of the murdered are civilians. Indeed Obama had blood dripping from his hands in the first week of his term, the blood of innocent children. Yet still people insist we should remain silent, after all, Obama is a Democrat, as if being a Democrat is a panacea for all things evil.

Rather than remaining silent I think it is time Americans grew up and did away with the need to have another person take the place of momma and poppa on into our adulthood. Now is the time to speak out rather than walking about in a daze amazed like so many idiots by a two faced liar like Obama. It may well be that there is little we can do against the powers arrayed against us in the form of the wealthy banksters, and their lackeys who represent them in the government who control the judicial processes, the police, and the military. But I do not intend to go gentle into that good night.

Just one other point I would like to make and that is that yes there are powers that are influencing Obama, to deny that would be idiotic. Yet it is a falsehood to believe that Obama is not a willing participant and believer in everything those powers stand for. Obama is one of them and is so by choice. I think that is an important distinction to make which belies the view that Obama is a victim. We are the victims and the people in far-flung lands who are being murdered even as I write this are victims, not Obam

Monday, February 16, 2009

When the Sky and Sea Burned in Gaza

Via Juan Cole

I know that a majority of Americans including progressives supported the murderous attack against Gaza but you should at least watch the video above. If that doesn’t move you then I don’t think anything will. Take a good look at the results and perhaps it will move you because that is what war is -- human suffering, look at the horribly burned children screaming in pain. There is nothing noble about this but then insanity never is.

Apparently medical supplies are still in short order for Gaza causing unimaginable suffering even after the assault ended. Please go to this link and donate what you can. If any bloggers are reading this please pass the word along.

Click here to donate.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Good and the True

Democrat versus Republican and Other Fairy Tales

It is fascinating to see the extent of the mental contortions that some will go through to justify, ignore, and refute that the Democrats are no better and in fact likely worse than the Republicans in perpetuating a brutal foreign policy and an oppressive authoritarian domestic policy all aimed at enriching and maintaining the power of the ruling class. Today we are still embroiled in active imperialism whose roots can be traced back to 1901 with the U.S. invasion of the Philippines. It is actually a much older tale as the very inception of the U.S. was a brutal act of invasion, coercion, plunder, and murder that required the genocide of nearly an entire native population.

What I write about is not a Democrat versus Republican theme, something that I believe is misleading regarding the nature of our government and in fact it is merely a useful tool used to obscure reality. Aside from this political tribalism people have written reams on conspiracy theories with the emphasis on theories yet one need not indulge in complex theories when there is a plethora of established facts that one may consider to explain the behavior of our government.

It’s called history.

Obama himself, despite the vapid emotional hysterics that people shower him with, is actually not all that important in the scheme of things. I have noted many times that presidential elections represent nothing more than a changing of the guard. The system as it exists today is largely but not exclusively due to World War II which led to the so-called Cold War and the military-industrial-scientific-complex. It also exists because of the nature of power and money which is the logical and natural outcome of capitalism mixed in with the idealism that the ruling classes use to justify their own actions. There are many elements of this system that are self perpetuating including organizations like the Pentagon which is known for its use of propaganda or the CIA who are known for providing intelligence to presidents that is tailored to their needs in order to implement the presidential agenda and who mainly act for their own preservation and survival for obvious reasons much like living organisms. What these various organisms all share is that they are tools for the ruling class. This was clearly and undeniably demonstrated, in the case of the CIA, with the stove piping of questionable and unverified intelligence regarding Iraq’s supposed connection to terrorist groups and nuclear and biological weapons during the build-up to the Iraq War which was a perfect example of how the CIA was used to provide faulty information used by Bush and the neocons for their own disastrous dreams of conquest. Surely most can recall the fiasco of yellow cake and aluminum tubes as well as Powell’s performance before the UN with his little vial of snake oil. Presidents do not base their foreign policies on intelligence rather it would be more true to say that intelligence is invented to justify presidential foreign policy.

However all that may be the disastrous foreign policies of the Bush administration are nothing new, in fact Bush’s foreign policies resemble those of presidents past spanning a time period of more than one hundred years long before the existence of the Pentagon or the CIA.

The main reason I concentrate my criticism of government upon the Democratic Party is not because of Obama and his “historic” rise to power rather it is because of the prevalent belief among liberals that the Democrats are the true and the good or if you prefer the lesser of two evils. I submit that the Democratic Party is neither the good and the true nor the lesser of two evils. In fact there is really only one political party whose differences can be found in style rather than substance most especially when it comes to the universal belief in U.S. imperialism held by both the Democrats and Republicans.

Outer Marches of the Imperial Road

It could be argued that the beginnings for the main thrust of U.S imperialism began with the ending of the Spanish American War which was the beginning of America’s occupation of the Philippines for which there are some interesting parallels to the kind of thinking we heard so recently during the build up to war in Iraq. It was believed that the Filipinos would greet Americans as liberators, sound familiar?

Dewey's Pacific Squadron quickly defeated Spanish naval forces at Manila Bay, but the question remained, Kramer said, how U.S. forces should engage with a Philippine revolutionary movement that broke from Spain in June 1898 and declared the first republic in Asia. U.S. forces attempted to make use of Filipino revolutionaries - who were defeating Spanish land forces in the islands - without recognizing their government. Filipinos, they assumed, would greet U.S. forces as "liberators." When Spain surrendered, Filipino diplomats were not invited to treaty negotiations. U.S. negotiators pressed Spain to relinquish "sovereignty" over the Philippines - an archipelago Spain no longer controlled - for $20 million.

In February 1899, U.S. forces outside of Manila fired on soldiers of the declared Philippine Republic and the Philippine-American War began. It would in no sense be either "splendid" or "little," Kramer said. It lasted more than three years, in some places as long as 10. It involved 126,000 U.S. troops and resulted in nearly 5,000 U.S. casualties, an estimated 12,000 Filipino military casualties, and the death by violence, dislocation and disease of an estimated 250,000 Filipino civilians. It began as a conventional struggle, but facing early defeats, Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo opted for guerrilla tactics in November 1899.

There are also interesting parallels between recent current events and the American military involvement in the Boxer Rebellion which began in 1899. President Mckinley ordered American troops to enter China without even asking Congress setting a precedent that still haunts us today as in the recent American naval shelling of Somalia done without consent of Congress.

In the summer of 1900, as the Boxers are besieging the foreign ligation in Beijing and threatening to kill all of the foreigners they can get their hands on, McKinley has to make a historic decision. And the decision is whether or not to send US troops out of Manila and onto the mainland of Asia. Obviously, American troops had never fought in this theater before and what McKinley does is not only order the troops onto the Asian mainland to fight in China, but he does it without consulting anyone. He essentially goes to war without asking Congress anything about it. He uses his commander-in-chief powers and it becomes a very important point historic precedent, the kind of precedent that later American Presidents will use to order American troops around the world.

Note how it was McKinley that first goes to war without the consent of Congress as did Bill Clinton in the case of Bosnia. In fact one might argue that George W. Bush, at least in the case of the Iraq War, stuck closer to the spirit of the U.S constitution by getting a green light for invasion from Congress who were only too eager and willing to give Bush the proverbial blank check which was then summarily cashed and the rest is history albeit an ongoing history much to the dismay of many.

Jumping over to the Vietnam War era recall that it was President Kennedy who embroiled us in that disaster, part of the communist hysteria that gripped the nation in those bygone days. Later it was President Johnson who fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident in order to escalate that ill-fated military adventure which cost so many lives both Vietnamese and American and pitted American against American here in the States the echoes of which still reverberate in the U.S. psyche. President Johnson himself later admitted that he created the incident for his own political gain, a sad comment on the nature of government. In a way I suspect that the failure of the Vietnam War is what gave rise to the neocon movement of today as most neocons had their origins as former liberals and who for the most part declined to participate in that bloody war which in their own twisted minds eviscerated their manhood which they overcompensated for by embroiling the U.S. in the Iraq War to prove their worth by transforming into warmongers of the worst sort. Sadly this has led to further destruction of human life and set the stage for another protracted war in Afghanistan now championed by Obama. This also illustrates the continuity of presidential regimes. In the case of the Vietnam War that was escalated by Johnson it was President Nixon who provided the continuity of that war to its savage ending and in the case of the Iraq and Afghanistan it is now Obama who is providing the continuity. If nothing else these examples should illustrate how little difference there is between the two main political parties and how useless it is to argue which party is better.

History Revisited

One example that liberals tend to fall back on to give credence to the trueness and goodness of the Democrats is the case of Jimmy Carter. Yet upon closer examination of Carter’s history reveals once again how mistaken this liberal belief really is.

I turn your attention to this article written in 1994 by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon.

Jimmy Carter And Human Rights: Behind The Media Myth

Jimmy Carter's reputation has soared lately.

Typical of the media spin was a Sept. 20 report on CBS Evening News, lauding Carter's "remarkable resurgence" as a freelance diplomat. The network reported that "nobody doubts his credibility, or his contacts."

For Jimmy Carter, the pact he negotiated in Haiti is the latest achievement of his long career on the global stage.

During his presidency, Carter proclaimed human rights to be "the soul of our foreign policy." Although many journalists promoted that image, the reality was quite different.

Inaugurated 13 months after Indonesia's December 1975 invasion of East Timor, Carter stepped up U.S. military aid to the Jakarta regime as it continued to murder Timorese civilians. By the time Carter left office, about 200,000 people had been slaughtered.

Elsewhere, despotic allies — from Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines to the Shah of Iran — received support from President Carter.

In El Salvador, the Carter administration provided key military aid to a brutal regime. In Nicaragua, contrary to myth, Carter backed dictator Anastasio Somoza almost until the end of his reign. In Guatemala — again contrary to enduring myth — major U.S. military shipments to bloody tyrants never ended.

After moving out of the White House in early 1981, Carter developed a reputation as an ex-president with a conscience. He set about building homes for the poor. And when he traveled to hot spots abroad, news media often depicted Carter as a skillful negotiator on behalf of human rights.

But a decade after Carter left the Oval Office, scholar James Petras assessed the ex-president's actions overseas — and found that Carter's image as "a peace mediator, impartial electoral observer and promoter of democratic values...clashes with the experiences of several democratic Third World leaders struggling against dictatorships and pro-U.S. clients."

From Latin America to East Africa, Petras wrote, Carter functioned as "a hard-nosed defender of repressive state apparatuses, a willing consort to electoral frauds, an accomplice to U.S. Embassy efforts to abort popular democratic outcomes and a one-sided mediator."

Observing the 1990 election in the Dominican Republic, Carter ignored fraud that resulted in the paper-thin victory margin of incumbent president Joaquin Balaguer. Announcing that Balaguer's bogus win was valid, Carter used his prestige to give international legitimacy to the stolen election — and set the stage for a rerun this past spring, when Balaguer again used fraud to win re-election.

In December 1990, Carter traveled to Haiti, where he labored to undercut Jean-Bertrand Aristide during the final days of the presidential race. According to a top Aristide aide, Carter predicted that Aristide would lose, and urged him to concede defeat. (He ended up winning 67 percent of the vote.)

Since then, Carter has developed a warm regard for Haiti's bloodthirsty armed forces. Returning from his recent mission to Port-au-Prince, Carter actually expressed doubt that the Haitian military was guilty of human rights violations.

Read the rest.

I find Jimmy Carter’s history to be somewhat less than a shining example of the good and the true. I would suggest that liberals will have to look elsewhere for an exemplary Democratic president.

In the end there is only the ruling class and the rest of us. If people wish to indulge in their fantasies that is their own business and none of mine, accept or reject, manufacture straw men arguments, invent your own reality, but don’t expect me to go along with it.

Or as Groucho Marx said…

"Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Past is prologue, again

Glenn Greenwald is outraged by the new Administration's continuation of Bush's stance on state secrets. David Sirota has an article over at Salon which pretty much says that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, a line of thinking often expressed among many of my friends and acquaintances on the Left. And no matter the rhetoric the results of each political party often seem to give us the same thing.

But every administration, and each party, and each President, is different. Here's my analogy: 8 is 8 whether you arrive at it by addition, multiplication, subtraction or division. But how you get there is as important to understanding the process of politics as is the destination. My point is that it does no good for political analysis to only compare similarities and discount differences. What's important is why we seem to end in the same place.
Here's where I'd start:
Obama has gotten a lot of grief from the Left about retaining Robert Gates as head of the Defense Department. Obama, and Obama through Gates, keeps up the nuclear lie about Iran and supports the ratcheting up of the heat in Afghanistan without much explanation about the purpose of that war. Gates was even the designated member of the cabinet kept away and hidden in an undisclosed bunker, ready to step in as President in case something drastic happened during the Inauguration and Washington, D.C. had been wiped off the map. (Stick that wad of symbolism in your cheek for awhile.) During the campaign Obama was criticized from the Left for switching his position on FISA. What was that about? And what's with putting Hillary Clinton in at State? My first thought about that was "Otto Otepka". These are signs that the permanent government may very well continue without so much as a bump through Obama's term.
At one point during the campaign Obama seemed like a tempting alternative to some progressives but now the Left is painting him as the familiar right-of-center Democratic profile that keeps winding up in the White House on those few occasions when a Democrat actually gets into the White House.
But back to the question here: Why would Barack Obama keep Robert Gates around?
I'd like to offer a few paragraphs from the foreword of The Man Who Knew Too Much by Dick Russell. The book itself is an extraordinary investigation of a military intelligence officer, Richard Case Nagell, who apparently was trying to stop President Kennedy's assassination before it could happen.
In the foreword Carl Oglesby, author of, among other books, The Yankee and Cowboy War, begins:

In May 1992, CIA Director Robert Gates told the Senate Intelligence
Committee that the CIA could not release certain elements of its large secret
file on accused JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald because to do so would compromise
the security of its collection methods.

Especially compromising, Gates held, would be the release of a secret
280-page report prepared in 1978 by the staff of the House Select Committee on
Assassinations. This document reported the discovery of solid CIA evidence that
Oswald was actually impersonated in the famous confrontations at the Soviet
Embassy and the Cuban consulate in Mexico City a month and a half before Dealey
Plaza--scenes adduced by the Warren Commission to show that Oswald was a
belligerent radical looking for trouble.

Clearly, if Oswald was impersonated in these episodes, then in the first
place they no longer prove the least thing about him except that--point two--he
was someone whose name the Mexico City mystery man chose to use, which may be
something very interesting to learn about Oswald indeed. A key part of the
Warren Commission theory of the crime would crumble, and the guardians of the
official theory would have another sinister character to explain away.

But in the third place and much more important, proof of politically
motivated impersonations of Oswald so near the moment of the assassination would
necessarily and resoundingly raise the question of what in the world was going
on. Why might someone want to impersonate a "nobody" and a "loner" such as
Oswald and go to such great lengths to establish Oswald's name and a violent
image of Oswald to Communist diplomats in Mexico City? Was Oswald not really a

Is there something more about Oswald we ought to know?

Maybe, too, there's something more about Robert Gates we ought to know.

Maybe, too, there's something more about Robert Gates we ought to know.
When then-CIA Director Robert Gates was withholding information from the Senate Intelligence Committee in May 1992 the President was George H. W. Bush. If you remember the legend of George H. W. Bush, he left his preppy Ivy League background to make it on his own as an oil man in Texas. He became involved in Republican politics and while never before having had anything to do with the CIA had been named its Director in 1976 by then-President Gerald Ford, just in time to help keep many government files away from such ongoing Congressional investigations as the Church Committee, the Pike Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, all generated in the aftermath of Watergate, all trying to plumb the dark depths of our secret services. And though he was an outsider, the story goes, Bush was so beloved by careerists in the Agency that they named its headquarters building after him. All this for less than a year in the office of Director of the CIA.
Contrast this to how the status quo in the Agency treated his replacement, outsider Stansfield Turner.
One document in the JFK files that had been declassified and released earlier and became a slight problem in the 1988 election was this:

The document was written in the days after the JFK assassination, in 1963, by J. Edgar Hoover. Please note the key line from the letter is: "The substance of the foregoing information was orally transmitted by Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency..." Of course, that would contradict the official legend of George H. W. Bush that he had not been involved with the CIA prior to being made its Director in 1976. The document was written about in The Nation and caused a minor scandal at the time, minor because very little of the mainstream media chose to mention it or its implications. No one wanted to go there. When the document came out the Bush campaign claimed that there was another George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency feeding post-assassination intelligence to J. Edgar Hoover. Two George Bushes, if you will. And there were two George Bushes. The official explanation was that the one in the CIA who'd been quoted by Hoover, who was a file clerk at the CIA, then went on to become a file clerk in another federal agency; the other one who was not in the CIA eventually became the head of the Agency (and then President). Got that?

(It turns out that George H. W. Bush was also at least a "business acquaintance" of the mysterious Count George de Mohrenschildt, Oswald's "friend" in the year before the assassination. De Mohrenschildt is believed to have been a CIA operative working under the cover as an oil industry functionary who was Oswald's "handler" in Dallas. In de Mohrenschildt's address book was Bush's home phone number alongside Bush's nickname "Poppy". But that's not all. And would it surprise you that the Count was suicided in anticipation of his appearance in front of the HSCA after he sent a letter to DCI Bush asking for help regarding the ongoing Congressional investigation?)
Let's review our scorecard: We have a President, the father of our newly ex-President, who, once as Director of Central Intelligence and once as President, blocked classified documents about the Kennedy assassination and who also is suspected of being a CIA agent filing a report on the assassination to J. Edgar Hoover as well as having had an association with a player in the alleged assassin's background. And we have the past and future Secretary of Defense who as head of the CIA blocked documents about the Kennedy assassination for a former President (GHW Bush). And that same President G. H. W. Bush himself had been appointed DCI by a President who'd been appointed as Vice President and then moved into the top chair in the wake of Watergate. And that President, Gerald Ford, had been on the Warren Commission.
It's all rather cozy, eh? It would certainly explain why four years after the above document slipped through to public attention that the first President Bush wouldn't want more documents about Oswald being released by DCI Gates, or that when he reluctantly signed the Assassinations Records Review Act he anticipated his son by inserting a signing statement that gave the President the right to hold back troublesome documents.
(A brand new book, Family Of Secrets by investigative reporter Russ Baker, gives the most detailed description yet of the web of class, crime and greed surrounding the Bushes and their cronies through the last sixty years or so of American history, including the 1963 doings in Dallas. How well-connected everyone is up there in the ruling class kleptocratic stratosphere will amaze and depress you.)
Eventually lots of documents were released through the Assassinations Record Review Board during the Clinton Administration. But not all of them. Probably the most interesting of the reading material is still tucked away in the archives.
Harvey & Lee by John Armstrong is a thousand-page opus that uses a lot of the documents that were released by the ARRB. It meticulously posits that "Oswald" had been a long-term CIA project from at least the early fifties. Armstrong does a good job of showing that this alleged CIA project had two concurrent "Oswalds", men who looked very similar. Initially the purpose of the Oswald project was to insert an intelligence agent behind the Iron Curtain. (One Oswald did eventually go behind the Iron Curtain while another Lee Oswald, who remained in the U.S. at the same time was, among other things, negotiating a contract for trucks for a reactionary Cuban group in New Orleans.) Armstrong shows that from 1953 the documented record of "Lee Harvey Oswald" is consistently contradictory. Children in different grade schools at the same time, different heights, different medical records. Different missing teeth in different dental records. Jobs in different places. Even different mothers who appear to witnesses as either tall and attractive or short, unattractive and with an unpleasant personality. Different-acting Oswalds assigned to different military bases. After the assassination the FBI essentially picked and chose from the two parallel lives to create a composite life for Lee Harvey Oswald for the Warren Commission. Things like school or military records that conflicted with the Oswald legend were collected by the FBI and then disappeared in the days after Dealey Plaza.

Which leads us to this passage from Harvey and Lee:
In January 1953 the HUAC [House Unamerican Activities Committee] in New York
made reference to a "Mrs. M. Oswald" in a CIA Office of Security file. The file
contained references to "1941", "Nazis", and "New Jersey". Judge John Tunheim of
the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) [this in the 1990s], wrote to
Henry Hyde in an attempt to get the HUAC files on Lee and Marguerite Oswald
released, but his request was refused.
1953 would be at the beginning of Armstrong's "two-Oswald" trail. We know that the original Lee Harvey Oswald and his mother Marguerite had been moving back and forth between Texas and New Orleans in the forties and early fifties before the two moved to New York City in 1953. So what's this about Nazis and New Jersey in 1941? And why would Henry Hyde, that Republican seeker of truth, want to hide information that might link the Oswald saga to perhaps Nazi Bund organizations back in the forties?
Wouldn't you like to know?
And another passage from Armstrong's book:
Visits to the Cuban and Russian embassies by an Oswald no one identified by
sight as Lee Harvey Oswald took place on September 27. That evening, a "Leon
Oswald," probably Lee Oswald, was in Dallas visiting Silvia Odio.

In the afternoon of the following day, Mrs. Lorena Brayshaw and her
daughter Carol met and spent time with Oswald, probably Harvey Oswald, in New
Orleans in the French Quarter.
[Armstrong keeps track of the two different Oswalds by calling one "Lee" and the other "Harvey". One actually hated the name Harvey and the other liked it.]

That same day, September 28, with an Oswald in Mexico City, and Harvey in New
Orleans, Lee Oswald arrived at the Sports Drome Rifle Range driving a 1940 Model
Ford. He asked Mr. Price, a friend of the owner of the facility, to help him
sight in his rifle. With car lights shining on the target, Mr. Price sighted in
the rifle.

Silvia Odio was the daughter of an anti-Castro leader living in Dallas. When an Oswald was in Dallas visiting Odio there was another Oswald in New Orleans and still a third man impersonating Oswald in Mexico City. Often in the past the credibility of various witnesses could be attacked because of evidence that Oswald was somewhere else. That actually is a function of having two agents using the same identity. For example, Castro used identical twins as intelligence agents. While one was involved in risky business the other was establishing an alibi for his look-alike. In the Oswalds' case, while one was living his life (which included playing the part of a Marxist in public street theater while being a government agent) another Oswald was creating a darker, more violent legend. And a third one, in Mexico City, was trying to establish Oswald's bona fides as the raging homicidal Marxist with ties to the USSR and Cuba who was about to kill the President. It was sort of like having two George Bushes in the CIA at the same time, in case one gets caught. But in Oswald's case, it was creating two Oswalds with the intention of one of them getting caught.
Above was just one example of multiple Oswald sightings at the same time. There's plenty more. Oswald buying a money order for the purchase of the assassination rifle on the morning he's accounted for, across town working at Jaggers-Chiles-Stovall. Oswald taking a new car for a test drive, racing it around and telling the car salesman how great the Soviet Union was while another Oswald (who did not have a driver's license) is accounted for, working at the Texas Book Depository. Oswald taking a rifle to a gun store to have a sight put on it while Oswald is accounted for, working at the TBD. You get the idea. Once you realize that there were two Oswalds (and occasionally three) then it all becomes clear.
Here are photos of the three different Oswalds:

The fact alone that someone was impersonating Oswald in Mexico City should be enough to blow the Warren Report out of the water. Multiple Oswalds mean that the official version of the assassination and all those appended versions foisted on us over the years by the government and its allies in the media just aren't true. And since the photo of the Mexico City Oswald was taken by the CIA and in the government's possession at the time of the assassination it is clear that from the start that the Warren Commission's purpose was to cover up what by any coherent thinking had to have been an inside job. Quite simply, elements within the government assassinated the President. If you're looking for the culprits you can start in Langley, Virginia.
From immediately after the assassination those elements in the government have been keeping this information from us. And they continue to do so. Twice information gatekeepers have been rewarded by becoming President (Ford, for his work on the Warren Commission, didn't even have to be elected; Bush, for his work as DCI under Ford, would have been President a lot earlier if Reagan hadn't survived the assassination attempted on him), and the son of one of those gatekeeper Presidents became a President himself. Robert Gates, another gatekeeper if you will, got to be the emergency designated President and remains the head of our military, left behind to keep an eye on things.
As time goes on and we get farther away from the Kennedy assassination people who were around it have been dying off, like the generations of veterans of our past wars. But the Central Intelligence Agency as an institution continues to have an investment in keeping the secrets covered up. And the permanent government seems to have an investment in keeping the CIA covered. Why do you think that would be?
The myth of America is that, no matter how badly we may stray, we are a democracy. The will of the people eventually triumphs, or at least has the potential to triumph. But what if the last forty-five years have been a lie? What if the President was actually removed by what are essentially our international Pinkertons, and what if the Executive Branch and to a great extent all branches of government have been controlled by them and their allies all these years, and that elections are just cast changes for the longest-running show off-Broadway?
While it would be consonant with many leftist views of American democracy that it's a fixed game ultimately controlled by the rich and powerful, acknowledging this coup actually adds a new dimension. It's one thing to tsk-tsk our violent military overthrows of governments around the world and our intrusions into other countries based on brutal corporate money-making schemes. Who could write a history of Chile's last fifty years without mentioning the overthrow of Allende and the fascist Pinochet's seizure of power? But what does it mean if our own government was overthrown? If we can recognize the real power structure of the Roman Empire versus its theoretical schematics as a kind of democracy then why can't the critics see our government through the emperor's clothes? Why can't structural analysis admit the actual structure here in the homeland? Can anyone acknowledge it or does reality betray some vested social theory?
Why is it that Carter's White House didn't have the power to change the culture of the CIA but the CIA was strong enough to undermine Carter's administration? How come Clinton and the Democrats didn't pursue all the law-breaking done by the CIA and their shady allies during the Iran-contra, savings-and-loan and BCCI scandals? Why does the Obama Administration suddenly flipflop on state secrets? If you graph power by what decisions all administrations have made since 1963 you will see that benefits keep accruing to the darker corners of the military-industrial complex, and the deformations in our laws and Constitution sag in favor of our secret services. It is consistent no matter who is President. It is only more apparent and shocking to us when a Democrat is in the White House.
Criticizing Obama for being too far to the right would have to be in the context that his options are limited by those who really hold the reins of power. Maybe his change of heart on the FISA vote happened because of the mechanical difficulties his plane had experienced in the air a couple days prior to the vote. Or because of the lax security he was given on the campaign trail in Dallas. Or maybe just because at some point, in some private briefing, someone showed Obama his dossier and then explained the real parameters of his job. Or maybe all the means of controlling who even runs and who wins elections or who is even acknowledged in the media are so fundamentally fixed that the same conglomeration owns all the horses in every race.
Wouldn't that be depressing?
I think that many critics of American politics are content to criticize the foibles and character failures of Presidents who are unable to overcome the boundaries set for them without even admitting to those boundaries. Historians like to find the flaws in great men, and we are all historians at heart. Obama the man is not the problem. The problem is a lot bigger than Obama. It's easy to say that Obama is the same as, or no better than, or hardly better than Bush, and to find parallel policies or to point out appointees who have worked both sides of the political ditch. But to say that the system is so rigged that no one can succeed with a progressive agenda in this crooked casino is a soul-crippling revelation. Most people won't go there. Most critics of Obama have no willingness to understand who holds the real power in America and how that power is delegated. And just blaming Obama doesn't get you anywhere near the source of the problem.
No political leader will succeed in getting real change in the structure of power until Americans understand and admit to what has happened here. That includes the intelligentsia on the Left who don't have the courage or sense to recognize what is in front of their faces.
Obama was only a toddler when JFK was murdered. I doubt he was having his diapers changed on the Grassy Knoll. I'd suggest that Obama didn't choose Robert Gates. Rather, Gates came with the furniture.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cécile Manorohanta


BBC,"Madagascar defense minister quits":

Cécile Manorohanta said her conscience could not endure the bloodshed. She was replaced by the chief of military staff, Mamy Ranaivoniarivo. It comes amid a bitter power struggle between President Marc Ravalomanana and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina.

VOA News,"Madagascar Defense Minister Resigns After Bloodshed":

Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina has vowed to continue demonstrations that began last month. Rajoelina accuses President Marc Ravalomanana of being too authoritarian.

Over the weekend, police killed at least 28 demonstrators in Madagascar's capitol and Ms. Manorohanta resigned in protest, citing, besides her conscience, her role as a mother. I'll admit that before this weekend I didn't even know about the recent political unrest in Madagascar, let alone had I heard of Manorohanta.

But when I came across this news today, I couldn't help but think of Donald Rumsfeld, our last defense minister, er, secretary, to resign prematurely, and how different his reasons were: because he served "at the pleasure of the president", and the president was embarrassed by the outcome of the 2006 mid-terms. I also thought that I could never see anybody in the Bush II OR the Obama administration resigning over something like that. Condoleeza Rice? Hillary Clinton? Robert Gates?

Am I being unfair? I don't know. Although I think in many ways our government is probably just as corrupt as Marc Ravalomanana's seems to be, nobody's shooting Americans in the streets. And although it would be nice if Americans cared about their own government's many failings the way Madagascar's protestors do, obviously we shouldn't wish for a leader as (openly)thuggish as Ravalomanana.

But I also wonder: do people here make the connection, when we occasionally hear about stories like this one, why is it that Americans sometimes say that other countries need to be "taught" about democracy? I don't know what the level of formal education of the anti-government protesters who died this weekend might be, but I seriously doubt they wanted or needed any lessons from Americans about democracy.

one last snippet(it might be helpful to ignore writer Jonny Hogg's Thatcherist attitude, but I thought I'd include it anyway, for perspective):

BBC, "Deadly power struggle lays Madagascar low":

The damage to Madagascar's international reputation could be equally harmful. Under President Ravalomanana the country had been taking its first tentative steps into the global market after decades of socialist stagnation. Multinational corporations including Rio Tinto and Exxon Mobil have arrived, pouring millions of dollars into government coffers. The president himself has seen his own business interests - anything from dairy products to cooking oil - rise and rise.

However, in appealing to foreign investors the government alienated many Malagasy people. Food and fuel have become more expensive whilst the foreign funds have not improved the quality of life for most people. President Ravalomanana's reputation in the eyes of his critics has not been helped by his aggressive business approach and the fact that as his wealth continued to grow, the population was becoming poorer.

Equally harmful?

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom

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Monday, February 09, 2009


I find it worrisome that people have turned their brains off

trusting that Obama will fix things. From what I have read about his plans for the economy it is more like giving a terminal cancer patient a shot of morphine than a cure. The plan for rebuilding the infrastructure is fine but in the long run it will do nothing to bring manufacturing back to these ravaged shores. Once the bridges and roads are built or rebuilt we will be exactly where we were, nowhere. To be sure manufacturing isn’t the cure-all for every problem and it certainly is far from being a perfect system as a base for sound economics but this pile of confused and malodorous dung we are presently abiding in is better?

Obama’s plan to increase the size of the military is simply rabid dog nuts. Obama’s plans for the continuation of “nation building” are a fantasy and a fraud. Spreading democracy is not only an arrogant fool’s errand it’s just plain stupid. And it isn’t only Obama but almost every person in congress is dedicated to this mush brained scheme of dominating the world for U.S. interests which in itself is highly questionable as to just whose interests they actually are in.

Oh yeah, I woke up this morning and I had an epiphany to bring democracy to Lower Slobovia. Once the seed was planted in my mind I could think of nothing else. From now on my life will be dedicated to improving the lot of Lower Slobovian citizens. If only they could be like me, my wonderful and wondrous self. Imagine the glory of it! Maybe the Slobovians would sculpt a heroic bronze statue of me riding a rearing stallion and place it in a public square. Maybe they would name bridges and civic buildings in my honor! The Rob Payne Slobovian National Library! Yes! I’ll be immortal at last! Or at the very least once I am a homeless bum they will let me stay in their library on a cold wintery day. I’m a moron with a mission! Now if only I could find it on a map.

And now my fevered brain kicks into hyper-drive and I wonder how history will remember me. Will they recall me as Genghis Payne and his Golden Hordes? Robexander the Great? Robilliam the Conqueror? Robilla the Hun? A Robolean without a Waterloo? Ah, I can just picture it. Me, myself, striding down through the pages of history, a man for all seasons, perhaps I will be credited for bringing about a latter day renaissance where I shall be recalled as the shedder of light into those dark and dingy redoubts of non U.S. territories. Maybe I should have my head examined.

Paul Craig Roberts has a good essay that takes all the elements of the economy and the Terror Wars as well as the pinheads who lead us and weaves it into a coherent picture.


Unless US corporations can be required to use American labor to produce the goods and services that they sell in American markets, there is no hope for the US economy. No one in the Obama administration has the wits to address this problem. Thus, the economy will continue to implode.

Adding to the brewing disaster, Obama has been deceived by his military and neoconservative advisers into expanding the war in Afghanistan, a large, mountainous country. Obama intends to use the draw-down of US soldiers in Iraq to send 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan. This would bring the US forces to 60,000 -- 600,000 fewer than US Marine Corps and US Army counterinsurgency guidelines define as the minimum number of soldiers necessary to bring success in Afghanistan--and less than half as many as the army that was unable to occupy Iraq.

The Iranians had to bail out the Bush regime by restraining its Shi’ite allies and encouraging them to use the ballot box to attain power and push out the Americans. In Iraq the US troops only had to fight a small Sunni insurgency drawn from a minority of the population. Even so, the US “prevailed” by putting the insurgents on the US payroll and paying them not to fight. The withdrawal agreement was dictated by the Shi’ites. It was not what the Bush regime wanted.

One would think that the experience with the “cakewalk” in Iraq would make the US hesitant to attempt to occupy Afghanistan, an undertaking that would require the US to occupy parts of Pakistan. The US was hard pressed to maintain 150,000 troops in Iraq. Where is Obama going to get another half million soldiers to add to the 150,000 to pacify Afghanistan?

One answer is the rapidly growing massive US unemployment. Americans will sign up to go kill abroad rather than be homeless and hungry at home.

But this solves only half of the problem. Where does the money come from to support an army in the field of 650,000, an army 4.3 times larger than US forces in Iraq, a war that has cost us $3 trillion in out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs. This money would have to be raised in addition to the $3 trillion US budget deficit that is the result of Bush’s financial sector bailout, Obama’s stimulus package, and the rapidly failing economy. When economies tank, as the American one is doing, tax revenues collapse. The millions of unemployed Americans are not paying Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes. The stores and businesses that are closing are not paying federal and state income taxes. Consumers with no money or credit to spend are not paying sales taxes.

The Washington Morons, and morons they are, have given no thought as to how they are going to finance a fiscal year 2009 budget deficit of some two to three trillion dollars.

But go read the whole essay.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Beyond Beyond

Speaking of morons, check out what Biden had to say in Munich.


"We must all strengthen our cooperation with the people and government of Pakistan, help them stabilise the Tribal Areas and promote economic development and opportunity throughout the country." (Reporting by Ross Colvin)

This is how stupid and idiotic Obama and Biden really are. They don’t have a fucking clue regarding how to save our own economy because for one they don’t realize that nothing they do will save it. Secondly not realizing the first point they think they can promote development and economic opportunity in other nations. The Stygian depths of their idiocy are beyond abysmal, it is beyond all reckoning and I hereby nominate both Obama and Biden for the Darwin Awards.

The Undertaker

” Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more. It is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.”

William Shakespeare
- Macbeth, Act V, scene 5

In a previous post I suggested that Barack Obama didn’t know why he was planning to “surge” the troops and lo and behold…


The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

Larry Korb, a defence expert at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, said: “Obama is exactly right. Before he agrees to send 30,000 troops, he wants to know what the mission and the endgame is.”

You gotta love Korb’s comment but I mean really, looks like Obama is flying by the seat of his pants. B-b-b-but Obama must have some kind of grand strategy right? This brings us to the hope and change part.


It really required a Democratic president full of hope and change to cut Social Security.

With people losing their jobs and the elderly losing their income due to low interest rates the Grand Poobah is looking to demolish social security, for some elderly their only income. Of course you notice there is no mention of cutting back on military spending, oh heaven forbid we should ever do that.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Al jazeera on rural Iran and the revolution

see also John Caruso's "Entire world menaced by better Iranian phone reception."

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Friday, February 06, 2009


I was gratified to be mentioned in a post by Who is Ioz which surprised me greatly since I really have very few readers so that was kind of Ioz to take notice of a nobody like myself so thank you Ioz.

I have often asked myself why I write and there are really only two reasonable answers the first being it is a form of self therapy finding myself surrounded by lunatics and secondly it helps me to sort out my own world views on what is happening and why. I really don’t expect to ever be popular nor do I really wish to be. That would be far more responsibility than I would ever wish to be burdened with. However I have to admit it is nice to be noticed by someone occasionally which I believe is only natural. I make no claims to be on the same level of political savvy or writing ability as Dennis Perrin, Chris Floyd, Ioz, Arthur Silber, Jonathan Schwarz, Justin Raimondo and the like but I do like to let off a little steam and hopefully my writing is getting better with time.

My own political views have changed greatly in the past several years having been formerly an apologist for the Democrats who I now view with avid disgust. In fact I view the entire government with avid disgust. I think that the libertarians are probably much closer to my present day views though I don’t really identify with any political party now in existence. I hope that someday humanity will advance past the point of even needing governments and political parties whose reason for existence seems to be to cause everyone else to live in abject misery. As Arthur Silber has pointed out many times anyone who wishes to run other people’s lives or even believes that they know better than everyone else and that they should run other peoples lives because of this is someone you would never ever want to meet. This is a fundamental truth in my opinion. This is not to say that some people are not more aware of the state of politics than others because nothing could be more evident. This is also not to say that I believe that people are inherently bad or anything of that nature though I do believe that people can be made to behave badly through the effects of the way our cultures have evolved. I firmly believe that what most take for granted as being natural most certainly is not natural in any way. The reality that for better or worse which we live and act in is only one possibility among many and only exists as it does through a series of accidents of history. Things could be much worse yet they could be much, much better.

Most of the more brutal aspects of life, for example, such as the horrific conditions that the Palestinians have been forced to live in, are not a result of some basic bestial nature of humanity rather it is the result of the effects of the Israeli culture on the Israeli which is basically Eurocentric as is ours here in the States. Also it is worth noting that it is through the machinations and propaganda of the Israeli government as well as our own that causes the majority of the Israeli citizens and Americans to have supported the recent assault on Gaza. To argue that the nature of man is internalized and that it is too easy to blame external forces is to ignore the power and all-encompassing effects of culture that defines our own nature, world views and behavior. When I see a film of Israeli children throwing rocks at Palestinians I believe they are merely emulating the behavior of the adults around them. It is without a doubt just as possible to have raised these children to be something quite different. But that is the power of culture and we ignore it at our own very great risk of relegating humanity to exist in the self-made hell that we now inhabit.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Silent State, Secret State, State of Terror

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last eight plus years most of us are aware of the illegal wire tapping of U.S. citizens, and the ability for the federal government to look at your library records in case you are a terrorist intent on blowing up whatever and have been looking up how to make a bomb. You would also be aware that the mostly manufactured threat of terrorists is one of the biggest hoaxes ever which has been used to justify domestic spying, to continue the War on Terror, even though it is taking a huge toll on human life and breaking the bank which is already broken, and to provide huge profits for the war industry. Oil is certainly a consideration as well. All of these grease the rails for politicians to gain those all-important campaign contributions needed to win elections. Think of it as the proverbial perpetual motion machine. It is a system that feeds on itself like the Worm Ouroboros of mythology. You should realize as well that the U.S. has been doing this for many, many years long before Bush came into office. Indeed Bush was just more unabashed about it than previous presidents, a matter of style if you will.

Another aspect of this state of terror is the extraordinary rendition carried out by the federal government where people are kidnapped and sent to secret prisons to be tortured and perhaps murdered. This is done in the name of national security but surely it is madness, as loony as the whole war on terror is itself which by any sane standard is idiotic and pointless. In a previous post I linked to an essay by Allan Nairn who described the process of secret torture prisons utilized by the U.S. government, grim places where the victims of extraordinary rendition are sent. Below is an excerpt to refresh your memory.


If you're lying on the slab still breathing, with your torturer hanging over you, you don't much care if he is an American or a mere United States - sponsored trainee.

When President Obama declared flatly this week that "the United States will not torture" many people wrongly believed that he'd shut the practice down, when in fact he'd merely repositioned it.

Obama's Executive Order bans some -- not all -- US officials from torturing but it does not ban any of them, himself included, from sponsoring torture overseas.

Indeed, his policy change affects only a slight percentage of US-culpable tortures and could be completely consistent with an increase in US-backed torture worldwide.

The catch lies in the fact that since Vietnam, when US forces often tortured directly, the US has mainly seen its torture done for it by proxy -- paying, arming, training and guiding foreigners doing it, but usually being careful to keep Americans at least one discreet step removed.

That is, the US tended to do it that way until Bush and Cheney changed protocol, and had many Americans laying on hands, and sometimes taking digital photos.

The result was a public relations fiasco that enraged the US establishment since by exposing US techniques to the world it diminished US power.

But despite the outrage, the fact of the matter was that the Bush/Cheney tortures being done by Americans were a negligible percentage of all of the tortures being done by US clients.

For every torment inflicted directly by Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the secret prisons, there were many times more being meted out by US-sponsored foreign forces.

Those forces were and are operating with US military, intelligence, financial or other backing in Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Nigeria, and the Philippines, to name some places, not to mention the tortures sans-American-hands by the US-backed Iraqis and Afghans.

What the Obama dictum ostensibly knocks off is that small percentage of torture now done by Americans while retaining the overwhelming bulk of the system's torture, which is done by foreigners under US patronage.

Obama could stop backing foreign forces that torture, but he has chosen not to do so.

I suggest you read the whole essay but the above gives you a good idea of what is happening with the issue of torture and how Obama is only giving it a cosmetic makeover.

One of the hopes of the Obama faithful is that Obama will make what our government does less secret and more transparent, something Obama himself has laid claim to doing.


President Barack Obama boldly proclaimed recently that “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

This sounds mighty fine but is it real? Like so many other aspects of Obama it is mostly cosmetic, sugar coated garbage meant for public consumption. The Guardian reports on the case of Binyam Mohamed, a UK resident held in Guantánamo by the U.S. government.


The government was accused last night of hiding behind claims of a threat to national security to suppress evidence of torture by the CIA on a prisoner still held in Guantánamo Bay.

An unprecedented high court ruling yesterday blamed the US, with British connivance, for keeping the "powerful evidence" secret, sparking criticism from lawyers, campaigners and MPs, who claimed the government had capitulated to American bullying.

Two senior judges said they were powerless to reveal the information about the torture of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident, because David Miliband, the foreign secretary, had warned the court the US was threatening to stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK.

In a scathing judgment, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said the evidence, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because according to Miliband, the American threats meant "the public of the United Kingdom would be put at risk".

The judges made clear they were unhappy with their decision, but said they had no alternative as a result of Miliband's claim. Their ruling revealed that Miliband stuck to his position about the threat to the UK even after Barack Obama signed orders two weeks ago banning torture and announcing the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

Last night Miliband seemingly backtracked on his office's submission, saying there had been no threat by the US to break off intelligence co-operation. "It's American information and it is for the Americans to decide whether to publish their information," Miliband told Channel 4 television.

Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, the legal charity and human rights group which acted for Mohamed, said last night: "The US is under a legal duty to investigate the crime of torture, not to suppress evidence that it happened ... For the foreign secretary to give in to these illegal demands by the Bush administration is capitulation to blackmail, pure and simple."

Yesterday's ruling was the latest in unprecedented court hearings into the abduction of Mohamed, who was seized and held incommunicado in Pakistan in 2002 before being secretly renditioned to Morocco, where he says he was tortured. He was subsequently flown to Afghanistan before being sent to Guantánamo Bay. He has been on hunger strike and the US and UK are discussing his possible return to the UK.

The ruling, studded with thinly disguised attacks on the attitude of the foreign secretary and the American authorities, came after the judges last year invited the Guardian and other media groups to overturn Miliband's refusal to disclose information in the documents given to him by the US. In a telling passage, the judges said: "Given [the documents'] source and detail, they would ... amount to powerful evidence". None of the contents at issue could possibly be described as sensitive US intelligence, they said.

In further stinging comments they said: "Moreover, in the light of the long history of the common law and democracy which we share with the United States, it was, in our view, very difficult to conceive that a democratically elected and accountable government could possibly have any rational objection to placing into the public domain such a summary of what its own officials reported as to how a detainee was treated by them and which made no disclosure of sensitive intelligence matters.

"Indeed we did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials ... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be." The judges said yesterday: "It is plainly right that the details of the admissions in relation to the treatment of [Mohamed] as reported by officials of the United States government should be brought into the public domain."

They urged the Obama administration to reconsider the US position and also said that parliament's intelligence and security select committee must investigate the case in line with extended powers the committee had been granted by Gordon Brown. But the judges noted that the committee meets in private and the prime minister can censor its reports.

This is an extremely clear example of how national security and the bogus war on terror is being used by the U.S. to do whatever it wishes including destroying habeas corpus, to kidnap and torture innocent people, to hide behind a cloak of secrecy all in the name of national security when nothing could be further from the truth. And if all this seems to be a tale told by idiots that is because this whole farce is idiotic. As for the naïve comment about democracies and the rule of law I would once again point out that the rule of law is only for the general public not the ruling classes. It is just about as silly as the idea that democracies do not wage unjust wars or would not war with each other despite the very recent evidence of one democracy, Israel, waging war against another democracy, Palestine, which has been one of the cornerstones behind the ideology of “nation building” pure piracy by any other name.

But getting back to Obama and his soaring rhetoric concerning more transparency the Guardian article continues with the following.

In earlier rulings judges described the American attitude in the case as "deeply disturbing". Miliband is expected to stand by what he told the high court, in a Commons written statement today. He is also expected to repeat the government's condemnation of torture.

A spokesman for the US state department said: "The US thanks the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long standing intelligence-sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens. The US investigates allegations and claims of torture ... such as those raised by Binyam Mohamed."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said last night: "Despite best efforts to shine a light on the grubbiest aspects of the 'war on terror', the Foreign Office has claimed that the Obama administration maintained a previous US threat to reconsider intelligence sharing unless our judges kept this shameful skeleton in the closet. We find this Foreign Office allegation ... surprising." David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, said it implied that torture had taken place and British agencies may have been complicit.

If this is Obama’s transparency it is a curiously opaque transparency.

This is all yet further proof that there is nothing sacred about democracies for it has been two democracies, the U.S. and Israel, that have been waging their own brand of terror against essentially weak and helpless nations and peoples for a very long time now with the hypocritical audacity to accuse its victims of being “terrorists” because they for some reason object to the state terror that has been wreaked against them in the most brutal means possible in the form of invasion, assassinations, and the murder of innocent civilians around the world, and that is no secret.