Sunday, March 29, 2009

What's the Yoose?


Criminal proceedings have begun in Spain against six senior officials in the Bush administration for the use of torture against detainees in Guantánamo Bay. Baltasar Garzón, the counter-terrorism judge whose prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet led to his arrest in Britain in 1998, has referred the case to the chief prosecutor before deciding whether to proceed…

…The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.

Excuse me if I don’t get too excited over the criminal proceedings. First of all the orders for torture came from the top meaning Bush and Cheney. Cheney practically bragged about it on TV. It’s not that I bear any love for the likes of Yoo and the rest of the fry and would dearly enjoy seeing Yoo and the others tossed into prison but why go after them when Bush and Cheney are so clearly and undeniably guilty? Still, even so, I suppose it could open up a whole can of worms for our two worms though I doubt anything would come of it. Secondly it really obscures the fact that the U.S. is still sending prisoners to secret prisons in foreign lands to be tortured and killed. How can Obama possibly open up a criminal investigation regarding the use of torture when essentially he is just as guilty of using torture as the people being investigated? That could be very embarrassing. It is also probably a very good reason why a serious investigation by the U.S. will never happen. Any way, we know how marvelous and wondrous things are wrought when the government investigates itself.

Torture is an ongoing crime it’s not a single incident that took place in the past, so in that light Spain should be investigating not only Bush and his administration but Obama and his administration as well. And a herd of hippopotamuses might fly out of my butt.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Samantha Power 2.0

samantha power talking

I saved this screenshot of Samantha Power nearly exactly one year ago, meaning to make some childishly silly yet trenchant point about her, and by extension about US foreign policy, at around the time she resigned from being an official Obama campaign advisor because of something or other. I don't remember what, but it which was covered pretty extensively at the time by Jonathan Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution and Dennis Perrin.

I remember thinking, "man, if I was a bigshot blogger I could have a caption contest. Sure seems like a shame I'm not, what with me having this screenshot which doesn't belong to me, of Sam Power making some kind of point, talking to an unseen audience member." (she was talking to Henry Kissinger.*)

Why do I mention this now? Because Jon Schwarz at ATR just posted about her again(last week), wondering if she'll resign again if Obama ends up waffling regarding his previous denunciation of the Armenian Genocide. I also left a stupid comment at ATR, based on confusing two Asia theater US airbases.(I threw that "Asia Theater" thing in there to sound smart, but you guessed that.)

Anyway, if you want to treat this as a caption contest you can, and you can even specify a different audience member, like Thomas Friedman or Dennis Perrin or Chaka Khan if that helps you to respond creatively. The prize is whatever I offered last time.

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

from "Russia Today" Saturday's antiwar protest in D.C.

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Space Patrol

While I was out driving I found myself behind a car with two bumper stickers. One sticker said “Obama” and the other sticker said “Peace.” So in the minds of Obamerites Obama is the peace president, or at least he was the peace candidate. I see the big O as continuity and though Obama probably didn’t mind being thought of as the peace candidate nothing could have been further from the truth. Remember not too long ago when China shot down one of its own satellites which made everyone shiver? This was quickly followed by the U.S. shooting down one of our own satellites which made it kind of a cosmic pissing match thereby proving once and for all that there are no adults, not really. Well, besides all that, under Obama we are still sinking billions of greenbacks into space weapons systems because, of course, wars today are managed via satellite, military satellites. Because wars are managed via satellite the domination of space by the U.S. is paramount in the eyes of the paranoid, basically our federal government. The question is not if can we afford to waste billions on space weapons but should be why do we continue to pursue the imperial road?

Nobody is asking why about much of anything these days, I mean what the heck we got Obama, right? Obama couldn’t have come along at a worse moment in time. He continues with much of Bush’s policies but nobody seems to care. And because Obama can get away with it, because of the silence of the masses, all the evil created in the Bush years continues to roll along unhindered and unfettered by any of the baggage Bush carried in his waning years. So just when we really needed to change our foreign policy we instead get more of the same, the timing couldn’t be worse.

Rather than sanity we have a bunch of lunatics in the government whose heads are stuffed with old cliff hangers from bygone days when Commando Cody rocketed through the sky and became involved in fisticuffs on the moon with strange oriental moon beings.


A little-known congressional study from1989 called Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years spells out much of the Pentagon's plan for achieving dominance in space. The Air Force Association published the report in book form, and congressional leaders like Representatives Ike Skelton (D-MO) and John Spratt (D-SC), Senator John Glenn (D-OH) and now-Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) signed the forward.

In the book, congressional staffer John Collins reports: "Military space forces at the bottom of the Earth's so-called gravity well are poorly positioned to accomplish offensive/defensive/deterrent missions, because great energy is needed to overcome gravity during launch. Forces at the top, on a space counterpart of 'high ground,' could initiate action and detect, identify, track, intercept, or otherwise respond more rapidly to attacks."

Collins goes on to propose to Congress that the United States needs bases on the moon, at the top of the "gravity well," and on armed space stations on either side of the lunar surface. He writes, "Nature reserves decisive advantage for L4 and L5, two allegedly stable libration points [on either side of the moon] that theoretically could dominate Earth and moon, because they look down both gravity wells. No other location is equally commanding." Collins then concludes that, "Armed forces might lie in wait at that location to hijack rival shipments on return." Space piracy is born.

I’m rather surprised that the worthy Collins didn’t include a few Death Stars in his imaginative study. Though these loony plans are likely seen as “defensive” in nature it seems to me that they are inherently offensive. If Nova Scotia shot a missile at the U.S. an anti missile missile located on the moon would have to travel 238,855 miles in order to intercept the missile fired by Nova Scotia. How useful is that? So it would seem that nuclear armed moon bases would be more useful as a threat than a defense. Moon bases might even be useful for taking pot-shots at Chinese satellites but again wouldn’t it be easier to shoot them from the surface of the earth than from 238,855 miles? Perhaps Collins has that covered as well. I think the main reason little of this topic makes any sense at all is that the people involved in this space stuff are existing on the same emotional and maturity level of a five year-old and these space weapons are really just their Tonka toys. The whole thing is nuts.

Be sure to tune in next week, same time, same station, we’ll be giving away free Commando Cody Decoder Rings.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the culture of blah blah blah

cross-posted, blah blah blah.

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the politics of lyme disease

Sara Robinson of Orcinus has an exceptional essay on Lyme disease and the politics of restricting treatment, apropos of a recent shooting at a Baptist church in Illinois. It's a lengthy article, well worth reading in full. Here's an excerpt:

The shooter, Terry Sedlacek, had struggled for years with long-term, chronic Lyme disease, contracted after being bitten by a tick some years ago. Though this description of his symptoms seems extreme even among Lyme patients, his struggle to get treatment is an infuriatingly common one. The media debate over the role this disease may have played in the shooting has tapped into one of the most furious and tragic medical debates in modern medicine. On one hand: there are doctors on TV claiming that it's entirely possible that Lyme can create the kind of psychiatric problems that would lead to this kind of catastrophe. On the other are doctors saying that it's impossible -- Lyme is a relatively benign bacterial infection that's easily treated with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Infectious disease specialists-- represented by the Infectious Disease Society of American (ISDA) -- have for decades held to the firm position that Lyme is a spirochete that can be killed with a 28-day course of doxycycline. If you're still sick when the month is over, whatever you have isn't Lyme (and, in practice, is generally assumed to be psychosomatic). And this is true, as far as it goes: if you're lucky enough to catch the disease in the first few months after you're bit -- or you've got one of the many strains that's amenable to this treatment -- a short course of doxy usually does do the trick.

However, once some strains of Lyme get dispersed and embedded in the body's tissues, the standard treatment won't touch them. Worse: the standard Lyme tests won't, either, so the results will likely come back negative. The shady politics of how the approved Lyme tests were developed would take a whole separate post to explain; but suffice to say that they're only 70% accurate on their best day, which would make them patently unacceptable as a diagnostic tool were it any other disease. Far more accurate and sensitive tests are available, but insurance companies won't cover the $400 fee.

That's because the IDSA panel doesn't approve of these tests (even though the "controversial" proteins it tests for -- the only ones common to all Lyme strains -- are the same proteins some of these same doctors once tried to build a Lyme vaccine on). It also doesn't accept Lyme's shapeshifting nature; the existence of a chronic form of resistant Lyme that requires long-term treatment; the importance of seeking out and treating co-infections; or the neurological and cognitive issues it can cause. All of these facts are well-documented by the peer-reviewed science; but IDSA's Lyme panel has actually purged new members who brought these studies up for consideration.

All this is part of the background for the dueling doctor interviews we're seeing on TV this week.

The Great Divide
Why would ostensibly caring doctors be so resistant to accepting new and better data? As always, follow the money. The IDSA's minimalist view of Lyme is greatly favored by insurance companies, who really don't want to be on the hook for expensive testing or more than a month of treatment. On a broader note: they're absolutely terrified (with good reason) that Lyme could turn out to be another huge budget-busting epidemic like AIDS, and want to do everything they can to make sure they're not stuck with the bills for it. To that end, they've made sure that the ISDA's Lyme experts have been richly rewarded with grants, consulting fees, and so on for aggressively defending the narrowest possible case definition and the most limited treatment standards. For their part, IDSA's Lyme group has held up their end of the deal so reliably that last May, they became the first medical standards board in the history of American medicine to be successfully sued (by the attorney general of Connecticut, no less) for corruption.

I don't normally make a habit of quoting so extensively, but I want to encourage you to go read her essay in its entirety, here.

Cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some thoughts on AIG's confidence game.

This is a comment I left over at Jonathan Schwarz's blog, A Tiny Revolution. Primary post by Schwarz is here. Comment thread is here.

Below is the full text of my comment. I just posted it at 4:00 PM EDT. I'm curious as to what comments will follow.

This whole post is cross-posted at my blog here.


Does anyone dare to wonder whether AIG's "tanking" is a long-con?

I spent a decade as an insurance lawyer in the NYC area, working for --among other clients-- AIG and its many subsidiaries. My particular expertise was and is in the realm of insurance company regulation, and insurance company corporate transactions -- acquisitions and sales of subsidiaries, mutualization/demutualization, corporate reorganization. In my travels I learned that AIG became the world's leading insurance conglomerate through the ruthless business model crafted by its father, Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. The model was to be extremely conservative on all of the financial aspects of the insurance company's operation. Specifically, to be tight-fisted on claims payment, to be over-cautious on the investments side, and to be very careful on the reinsurance of the company's accepted risks.

The news that AIG was tanked by unforeseen volatility in credit default swaps causes me to laugh louder than I have in a long time. Why? CDSs are highly volatile, unpredictable vehicles and their volatility is both their primary character, and why they were created. No competent business person dealing regularly in CDSs would be likely to fail to appreciate their volatility. Hank Greenberg wouldn't fail to appreciate it. The typical AIG employee wouldn't fail to appreciate it.

CDS risks on the insurance side would be laid off on reinsurers, as part of the AIG company at issue's reinsurance portfolio.

CDS risks on the investment side would be countered with hedges of a very conservative nature, in an amount equal to utter failure of the CDS investments.

Those are the principles on which AIG grew, and on which it operstes.

How, then, can I believe that AIG was tanked by CDS volatility?

I can't.

No informed insurance industry expert should believe it.

Unless he/she is paid nicely to believe it.

What does AIG have that the Fed Govt would want? Well, Hank Greenberg's background is CIA work (OSS, actually... CIA's forerunner). And, writing business coverage for many international businesses gives the AIG underwriting divisions a whole lot of valuable information on any business entity -- information that would be highly valuable to that business's competitors.

AIG and the CIA have been intertwined for decades.

So with all that... you tell me. How was AIG undone by CDS risks? Was that actually what happened?


Interesting related thoughts on AIG by James Abourezk here. Well worth reading.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Various items

Foreign Policy, March 2009, "The Worst Kind of Stimulus: why a global weapons boom is the last thing we need" by
Travis Sharp

from Fora TV[video]: Does the US Spend Too Much on Foreign Aid? - Peter Singer(longer version here).

??AIDS and Germ warfare [video]

Two items from 2007; I never posted them and they merit being noted:

Gary Farber discusses the reputation of Gregg Easterbrook, which he deems inflated.

CNN's Arwa Damon on prostitution in Iraq

finally, from Slate, Feb. 2003: "who's for the war, who's against it"

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Turkey: Skull found at suspected mass grave

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

High Seas Adventure: No Buckle on the Swash

I was reading a recent NYT article about the supposed “Most horrible and serious incident in all of maritime history” between the U.S. and China.

But in fact,” this most serious incident” consisted, in part, -- they also “surrounded” the USS Impeccable and even tried to grab a cable with a hook -- of some Chinese sailors throwing some wood in front of the USS Impeccable.

Yet according to Dennis Blair…


WASHINGTON — The confrontation between a United States naval vessel and five Chinese ships is the “most serious” military dispute between the countries since a midair collision in 2001 forced an American surveillance plane to land on Hainan island, the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, said Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

My goodness, do a few pieces of wood tossed in front of a giant U.S naval ship by a few small fishing boats really rate right up there with a midair collision? And Dennis Blair is director of national intelligence?

Here, according to the Times, is what the attacking armada consisted of…

The Chinese ships consisted of a naval intelligence vessel, two smaller trawlers, a fisheries patrol boat and an official oceanographic ship, Pentagon officials said.

Since there really wasn’t enough menace for the news casters to frown and look all ominous over the New York Times throws in a freebie…

China has invested heavily in a new fleet of diesel-powered attack submarines and maintains a submarine base on Hainan. The waters where the confrontation took place would probably be plied by Chinese submarines.

Mind you, there were no actual diesel-powered attack submarines in the incident but they could have been plying the waters. I’m not sure why the Times felt the need to add that bit of intelligence but that’s the kind of quality writing you expect from the Times where they go that extra mile. If the story isn’t interesting enough, why then, its time to get creative and invent a few maybes and perhapses. I suppose that there could have been diesel-powered Chinese attack submarines plying those waters. If not, maybe a few giant squid or even a sea serpent or two.

If the story isn’t interesting what is interesting is how the NYT never fails to report ludicrous claims made by various national leaders as if what ever is said is pure gold. Maybe platinum.

"what a continuously proven wrong dickhead"

Fora TV has an excerpt of a talk Thomas Friedman gave at a bookstore recently, above.
In the comments, whoo689 wrote:

"Is Friedman a conservative or libertarian? My friend says he's libertarian, but I dunno. The only "libertarian" aspect of him seems to be his stance on free trade."
I responded that I doubted that he had a coherent political philosophy, and that mainly

"he's just a guy with a high-powered rolodex of connections who puts his finger to the wind periodically to figure out what kind of book to write next, something that will please the PBS tote bag crowd. I like to think of him as the Robin Leach of globalization."
But perhaps "poop121" said it best(above). Far more succinct too.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

More from Jim Rogers

More from Jim Rogers, this time sans bowtie:
"Britain & America have no clothes", part 1 of 3.

And, Part 2 and part 3.

I don't entirely agree with Rogers' views. For example, I think the massive US debt going forward means we do need to raise taxes on the wealthy to prevent stimulus-oriented public spending from causing inflation, and to prevent panicking foreign banks contemplating a possible collapse of the dollar.

In part two Rogers says, of the creditor-debtor relationship between China and the US, that

"it's the first time in history that an undeveloped nation financed a developed nation."

I don't know about that-- it seems to me that Europe and the US forced undeveloped nations to finance their growth, through the economic plunder of colonialism. But having said all that, there's still a lot of value to what he offers, and I think his misgivings about the bank bailouts are apt.

(Of course, as with any would-be economic sage-slash-teevee-talking head, it's useful to keep in mind how they might benefit or be hurt by different policies the government may take. This of course applies to Rogers, as well as Warren Buffet and Alan Greenspan, etc. It's very much to Rogers credit that he readily talks about his investment in Asia in this regard.)

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Why we must reject the current Fed Govt

Let me ask you something, reader.

Let's assume you live and drive in a state where motor vehicle liability insurance is mandatory. If you were in a car accident involving another vehicle, and you were the innocent party, wouldn't you expect to get insurance coverage for your non-fault damages to the car and medical expenses for your personal injuries?

That is the essence of insurance, is it not? To get coverage when you're injured? To get compensated?

In Great Britain, insurance is called "assurance." I like that word better, it's more accurate and intuitive. You are buying peace of mind, assurance.

Now, what if your insurer was willing to give you the coverage, but instead of paying you for your car's damage and your personal injuries, it paid those sums to the at-fault driver... and then increased your insurance premium rates as well?

Don't you expect that when you're injured by someone else's fault, the reparations will go to you, as the injured innocent party?

Isn't that basic human social justice?

Now, let's say you are a "struggling" bank, seeking money from Mr Barack Obama, Mr Henry Paulson, Mr Timothy Geithner. You're asking them (along with the Mighty and Noble Mr Harry Reid and Ms Nancy Pelosi) to give you money earned by American citizens and paid to Uncle Sam.

But who ran your business down, caused it to "struggle"? Wasn't that you? Weren't you operating the business?

So why are you expecting that your bad business decisions have earned you free US Taxpayer money that isn't even yours and wasn't even earned by anyone related to you, commercially or contractually speaking?

Mr Barack Obama has asked us all to make some sacrifices so that the bank bailout may work. Has he asked the banks to make any sacrifices?


Will the banks be making any sacrifices?

Almost certainly not.

No, instead they will receive gifts, very large gifts. With almost no strings attached, so that there is no assurance that the US Taxpayer $$ will be used to rehabilitate the banks. For example, it might just be used to buy the Bank's Chairman of the Board a new Audi, Mercedes-Benz, or BMW. Or to buy the Bank President a new house in Aspen. Or to buy the Bank's majority shareholder's mistress a new condo in Palm Beach. Or on a gambling spree weekend in Las Vegas.

Yet who caused the bank troubles in the first place?

* * * * * * * * * *

The Fed Govt is preparing to help the failing mortgage banks by giving money to the banks.

The justification is that it will help restore "the economy."

The justification is not that it will help people remain in their homes, instead of being foreclosed upon by their mortgage lender.

Think about that, reader.

The justification says that "the economy" is more important than having a place of shelter for yourself and your loved ones, where you may sleep in peace, store goods, cook food, feed yourself.

The justification says that the mortgage banks are the ones really being hurt here.

The justification says that the human cost is irrelevant.

And the justification, it's being offered to us by our Federal Government.

Which is supposed to represent us.

But which is representing corporate business entities instead.

* * * * * * * * * *

It seems to me that if you want to take US Taxpayer $$$$ and pump it into "the economy," the place to put it is in the hands of the US Taxpayer.

Are there individual people in dire need of assistance right now, for financial/economic purposes, for reasons beyond their control? Such as, losing their job (not being fired), or incurring extraordinary medical expenses from an unexpected illness?

Wouldn't the money be better in the hands of those who have suffered, rather than in the hands of those who have caused the suffering?

And shouldn't our Fed Govt be responding to us, rather than to corporate business entities?

Anyone with a mote of self-respect should be steaming, honking mad right now. Mr Barack Obama and his Administration, and the US Congress, are prepared to bankrupt innocent individual Americans in order to line the pockets of the people who bear primary responsibility for our economic crash.

Clearly, they're not serving us any longer.

* * * * * * * * * *

Read all about the chicanery from these writers:

Arthur Silber

Michael Hudson

Mike Whitney

Bruce Dixon

and then, if you would, be reminded that I said this was what would happen, and I said it back before the election in 2008 -- that we'd get flayed, drawn & quartered by the masters of Big American Finance.

First in July 2008 I made the general thematic observation in Small Scale Example No. 3: the saga of Donald Key.

And then in September I said we were being Wrecker'd by a group of sharp con men in Big Finance, and in October I expanded upon the Wreckage, and asked whether the housing bubble was predictable... whether the claim of unexpected corporate deficits is a bunch of malarkey. And based on work I did for AIG as outside counsel on corporate, regulatory and coverage matters, I also offered some skepticism on the claim that AIG was legitimately blind-sided and left crippled by unexpected devaluations in its own investments, and argued that we've been CHUMPED by AIG.

Another significant development in October was Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart saying that his Department would not enforce foreclosure evictions during the winter months, and observed that in that situation, the banks were accusing the Sheriff of improper acts!

So this isn't anything new, really. It's just becoming more and more obvious to me, and as I read the comments around the interwebtubez, apparently to others.

If you're not convinced that things are as I say, or as Arthur Silber, Mike Whitney, Bruce Dixon and Michael Hudson say, then maybe you should give yourself a half-hour or so to sit down and read Dmitry Orlov's recent entry, Social Collapse Best Practices, and see if some of Orlov's observations don't sound wise and prophetic, with some of the past prophecy being justified by quite a few developments in the American economy and global politics. Orlov's also got a good presentation on the stages of a society's collapse, as taken from the collapse of the USSR and compared to the recent history in the USA. It's called Closing the Collapse Gap.

What I'm saying here, reader, is that we can't expect to be saved by the Federal Government, for two very practical reasons. First, we don't have any say in its operation any longer -- well at least those of us who aren't very wealthy, we don't. And second, a lot of what is happening now is an inevitable result of the way our businesses have pursued profit and ignored long-term effects of using shell-game vehicles (derivatives, credit swaps, massaging interest rates, finding new things on which to impose specious fees) for profit.

We're going to have to fix this one ourselves, people. We are going to have to set up a parallel system that isn't waiting to be saved by the Feds. Or we can throw all the bastards and bitches out. The latter course would require lots of bloodshed; the former course is safer but longer in duration.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Jim Rogers, "helping your friends"

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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Keeping the Little Fish

So the International Criminal Court is going after a head of state, one President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan. Can you imagine Bush or even Obama being prosecuted for war crimes by the ICC? There have been plenty to choose from in the way of war crimes since the ICC opened its doors in 2002. One very large war crime jumps to mind almost immediately but I have heard nary a word about that from anything like the ICC. But as the big O likes to say we need to move forward and not look back.


PARIS — Judges at the International Criminal Court ordered the arrest Wednesday of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity for a concerted government campaign against civilians. They did not include the charge of genocide requested by the prosecutor.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Get Out of Town


One of the more disturbing developments in the Middle East is a growing consensus among Israelis that it would acceptable to expel—in the words of advocates “transfer”—its Arab citizens to either a yet as unformed Palestinian state or the neighboring countries of Jordan and Egypt.

56 percent agree with the statement that “Arabs cannot attain the Jewish level of cultural development”;

And from Abraham Lincoln…

"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."

No, heaven for forbid that they be made equals or approach those rarified heights of cultural development enjoyed by whites. This, of course, is how we justify the brutal violence that we inflict on “lesser” nations or peoples. Sub human, uncivilized, not amendable to reason, which makes it all so much easier to exterminate the vermin by starvation, bombing, or evicting them.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Altered State?

When I read the following news article regarding Gaza I was struck by a few things. In the attack on Gaza 1,300 Palestinians were killed and something like 12 or 14 Israeli were killed. That alone reveals the true nature of the attack, a very one-sided affair. So it wasn’t surprising to read that Hamas tried to set up negotiations with the Israeli government before the attack and that the Israeli government would have no part in talks with Hamas falling back on that worn out old saw “Israel won’t negotiate with terrorists” as if we don’t know who the real terrorists are. The article claims this alters the propaganda that led up to the invasion of Gaza yet it seems to me that with some exceptions most of the world didn’t buy into the reasons put forth by Olmert and with good reason. The fact is that it had already come out that Israel had been planning the attack for quite some time regardless of any cease-fire. It’s probably safe to say that the Palestinians could have been shooting rubber bands at Israel with the same vicious Israeli attack occurring (Israel has the right to protect itself from rubber bands) since the home-made missiles fired by Palestinians were just a convenient excuse to justify the murder of so many Palestinians. The true driving force of the Gaza assault was Israeli expansionism, the same expansion of Israel that has been ongoing for sixty years. In that sense nothing is or has been altered except perhaps for the malignant intensity of Israeli state violence which reflects our own state violence albeit on a smaller scale.


Hamas, the militant Palestinian organisation, attempted to conduct secret talks with the Israeli leadership in the protracted run-up to the recent war in Gaza - with messages being passed from the group at one stage through a member of prime minister Ehud Olmert's family.

Confirmation of attempts to establish a direct line of communication between Hamas and Israel - and the willingness of senior figures in Hamas to contemplate direct negotiations - fundamentally alters the narrative of the build-up to the war in Gaza which claimed more than 1,300 Palestinian lives and led to about a dozen Israeli deaths.