Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Can You Keep A Secret?

For your information, the Israelis used Pollard to obtain our attack plan against the USSR, all of it. The coordinates, the firing locations, the sequences. And for guess who? The Soviets! ---William Casey, director of the CIA, 1981-87

    Everybody spies on everybody all the time. When allies get caught snooping on each other, the penalty is usually a slap on the wrist. At worse, the culprits get a couple of years in the jug.
    That was going to be the fate of Jonathan Pollard, an American caught spying back in 1985 for our good buddy Israel. But then Casper Weinberger, our then Secretary of Defense who was a Jew and a staunch supporter of Israel, stepped in. He wrote a letter to the sentencing judge detailing what Pollard had purloined and where some of it ended up.  The judge read it and threw away the key. Pollard got life in prison, where he still sits today. But maybe not tomorrow.
    The Israeli government and Pollard’s supporters have always claimed that the secrets he filched while serving as an intelligence analyst for the Navy were about stuff the Israelis needed to know to help defend themselves and be a better ally of the U.S. In other words, their intentions were benign.
    What we do know is that Pollard swiped everything in sight: documents occupying some 360 square feet of floor space. Worse, what a lot of knowledgeable people say is that, right in the middle of the Cold War, the Israelis were peddling parts of the Pollard trove to the Soviets in exchange not only for bucks but for Russian Jews, tens of thousands of whom settled in Israel in that period.  It was their double dealing with our communist enemies that that got Weinberger, the judge and our spooks so ticked at the Israelis.
    Ever since, the Israeli government and Pollard’s supporters in the states have been campaigning to spring him. For all these years, they have stuck to the line that Pollard’s spying was not as bad as it looked and that the stories about Israel peddling our secrets to the Russkies weren't worth a reply. What they were worth was a cover-up with the complicity of the American media that remains until today.  Thus we find ourselves in a situation where its okay to report that our spies are furious about the Pollard case, but bordering on treason to say why they're still so angry.        

     Every time an American president looked like he would cave into to the Israelis and free Pollard, the CIA and the Pentagon would rise up in outrage. Caught between the military-intelligence complex and the Israeli lobby, the White House would yet again back burner the issue and change the subject.
    But it won’t stay down.  A page one story in the NY Times of April 1 says that Obama will soon release Pollard. In exchange, Israel will pretend to negotiate with the Palestinians into 2015 to make it appear that the  peace talks are moribund rather than in rigor mortis.  But even this last effort looks like a still birth
    There’s no serious purpose here. Anyone with half a frontal lobe knows that “Israel will never allow the emergence of a Palestinian state.” Still, there’s something in the heads of American pols that demands endless peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, no matter how phony and futile they are.  It’s probably a nervous disorder related to the one that has them nonsensically warning for decades that Iran is minutes away from getting the bomb.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing Pollard go free--so long as it activates truth telling about his case and the reasons for the prolonged punishment he earned.  It’s been obvious for years that while we Americans are all for Israel, so are the Israelis all for Israel. It’s time we grow up about a part of the world where we really have no friends, let alone trustworthy ones.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

More Empty Threats
 There is no corner of the earth so remote, no nation so insignificant, that it does not represent a vital interest of the United States--former Secretary of of Defense Casper Weinberger
     Barack Obama and John Kerry just made the stupidest decision a leader can make: they picked on someone their own size.
    Russia is the world’s largest energy producer, supplying 30 percent of the fuels that keep Europeans warm and lit. It’s the biggest supplier of industrial metals. It’s a huge, largely self sufficient land.  In 1945, it emerged a winner in a war that killed 20 million of its people. because of its ruthlessness and ability to take punishment. And that’s not to mention that it possesses hundreds of nukes and with them the ability to instantly erase these United States.
     In short, there’s no feasible way for Washington to slap, sanction, bully, threaten or intimidate the Russkies.
    You would think the honchos of a country that regularly gets roughed up by medieval tribes might have taken that into account. But Obama, Kerry and the yahoos are apparently more in love with hearing their own empty threats than dealing with reality.
    Why are our leaders doing such a dumb thing?  It’s because they’re single-minded imperialists who can’t stop treating the world the way Bain Capital picks takeover targets.
    It was two decades ago that the decrepit USSR busted up into 15 or 16 countries, most of which Americans had never even heard of.  Within a few years, we had military bases in a half dozen of them and were pressing them to forget about their economic needs and replace their Soviet-era weapons with new American ones. And, of course, we wanted a Mickey D’s and a Sunglass Hut on every street corner from Latvia to Siberia. We had won the Cold War and the old Soviet Empire was going to be our new one
    Ukraine was at the top of our wish list. It was big, resource rich and an important part of NATO’s plan to project itself right up to Russia’s borders even though it had officially forsworn such an aggressive policy.
    The problem was that the Russkies had been the dominant power in that part of the world for 350 years and were not about to surrender it to Uncle Sam.  The Crimea is Russia’s only outlet to warm water, without which it could not be a world power. So the Ukraine and Crimea are life and death matters for Moscow.
    The notion that Putin might let Obama pull off a pro.-U.S. coup there a la Honduras was sheer madness. Unlike those drawn in sand by Obama, Putin’s red line will stand. Either that or we’ll have a new Cold War--this one centered in a hot spot that could blow at any moment. Europe wants to keep its lights on and homes warm.  Except rhetorically, it will not follow Obama down the road to confrontation with Moscow. As in Latin America, the U.S., the great isolator, will find itself yet again isolated.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Don't Mention It, Por Favor     
    Six hundred million people live in Latin America and the Caribbean.  That’s twice the population of the USA. At the end of January, the presidents of each and every one of those nations met in Havana to forge greater economic and political unity amongst themselves. Cuba was not only the host but the outgoing president of CELAC, Spanish for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries. The U.S. and Canada, regarded as imperialists by one and all, were pointedly not invited.
    This major summit received not a mention in the NY Times. (The link here is from the UK press service, Reuters). However, the Feb. 5 Times did give coverage in its international section to the defection of one, just one, of the 5,378 Cuban doctors hired by Brazil over the last year to provide health services to the poor. This was a perfect example of the money media policy of either slagging or ignoring the independent nations south of the border.

    The collapse of the Soviet empire 25 years ago came as a big surprise to our pols and press. Likewise, the onrushing transformation of Latin America from Tio Gringo’s backyard into a free and independent community of nations is having a hard time sinking into the consciousness of such as the editors of the Times, who apparently believed that a story about a Cuban doctor who would rather live in Brazil was of more interest and import to their readers than the quakings of the vast continent next door to ours. How is it that we spend so much on intelligence to receive stupidity in return?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

 Remembering Pete
    One of the worst thing about being a radical lefty back in the 50’s and 60’s was the paranoia and mistrust generated by being constantly surveilled by the Feds and the various local red squads. (No, it didn’t start with 9/11).
    The best thing about being a lefty back then was that we were always singing. We sang at meetings, on picket lines, at rallies and, best of all, at summer camp in the country and winter hootenanies in the city.
    Pete Seeger was always there, long and lean like a Giacometti sculpture come to life, his battle sword a long-necked Vega. From the first time I saw him when I was probably nine or ten, I was awed. And I’ve stayed that way ever since.
    I bought my first banjo, a cheap Kay, because of Pete.  I bought my second, a Paramount, because Pete’s book, a booklet really, on how to play the banjo introduced me to Earl Scruggs. Still today, when I pick up the instrument and get ready to play, the first tune that invariably comes out, as if by itself, is “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.”
    It’s because of Pete that I went south to do the folk festivals. The best part of my trip with Dylan was joining voices with what became the Freedom Singers in Atlanta and the students at Tougaloo.
     Pete, like my parents, was for a time a big C card-carrying communist. But he was Yankee wayback and my folks were foreign born Croats. In a home where English was a second language, I grew up thinking that reds most likely were foreign agents peddling an alien ideology. Pete, among others, taught me differently. He was probably the most patriotic American I had ever encountered. He was immersed and in love with the music, culture and history of his country. His politics, never harsh or accusatory, were always aimed at getting the people themselves to make their country better.
    I’m lucky to have spent my 74 years in the time of two American civic saints. One of them, Ralph Nader, is still raising hell for all of us, whether we appreciate it or not. The other, Pete Seeger, left us on Monday, like his buddy Woody, bound for glory.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Welcome to Kleptocracy
                                 Linked: Obama chauffeurs UBS banker Robert Wolf has become increasingly clear that no prominent banker would be prosecuted for fraud in the run-up to the financial crisis.

    With the exception of the unfortunate William Henry Harrison, every president has left his mark on history. So far, Barack Obama’s distinction is turning these United States from a plutocracy into a kleptocracy.
    While he’s avid about detaining, disappearing and droning whistle blowers, and even terrorists, he remains well disposed to the perpetrators of the biggest financial crimes in history. Rather than prosecuting them, he prefers golfing with them.
     Of course, there’s nothing new about the rich getting away with almost everything. But up until Obama that ‘almost’ consisted of some felonious financiers actually getting their comeuppance. In the Great Depression, Richard Whitney, head of the New York Stock Exchange, did three years in the clink. In the big savings and loan scandal in the 80’s, 700 banks went belly up and over a thousand bankers were prosecuted. Bernie Madoff, if you recall, was arrested when Bush was still in the White House. He paid dearly for his scams because he robbed a lot of rich people. And that's not allowed in capitalist America.

      But cheating the unrich has become a flagrant business under Obama. Typically, the media reported that Bank of America and its peers openly hired  people at $10 bucks an hour to forge mortgage documents. Usury, a crime in the Bible but no longer in America, has become ubiquitous.
     Though the wealthiest banksters are obviously immune from criminal prosecution no matter the nature of their crimes, their corporations have been obliged to share a small part of their swag with Uncle Sam. There are loads of lawyers at the Justice Department busily negotiating fines with the culpables. They often announce big numbers, like the $13 billion JP Morgan Chase is supposed to pony up for its predations. Little noted is that many of the penalties are tax deductible or, that after cases quiet down, the Feds reduce or forgive the fines. So the bad guys are sometimes slightly discomfited, but not enough to bother business as usual. That's why their share prices keep rising despite the penalties.
      Not surprisingly, we have been treated to a spate of stories recently about how well Wall Street has weathered all the wrist slaps Obama has laid on them. Below are two recent headlines with their links that tell us that we indeed live in a kleptocracy

Steep Penalties Taken in Stride 

By JPMorgan Chase  

Bank of America Fourth-quarter Profit Rises
As Bank Shakes Off Financial Crisis

     I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that if you commit crimes, the punishment ought to abash you a bit and discourage you from committing others in the future. Crime should not make you richer, fatter and happier--unless, of course, you live in Obamaland.

Friday, January 3, 2014

At Least, He's Good at Something

"The United States is quietly rushing dozens of Hellfire missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to Iraq to help government forces combat an explosion of violence by a Qaeda-backed insurgency that is gaining territory in both western Iraq and neighboring Syria."

"The new signs of an energized but fragmented jihadist threat, stretching from Mali and Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, have complicated the narrative of a weakened Al Qaeda that President Obama offered in May in a landmark speech heralding the end of the war on terrorism. The leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, raised warnings...when they said that Americans were 'not safer' from terrorist attacks than they were in 2011."

 "Baghdad — Radical Sunni militants aligned with Al Qaeda threatened Thursday to seize control of Falluja and Ramadi, two of the most important cities in Iraq, setting fire to police stations, freeing prisoners from jail and occupying mosques, as the government rushed troop reinforcements to the areas."

 "Turns out I'm really good at killing people...Didn't know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine".--Barack Obama

    As the above quotes reveal, Barack Obama’s self-proclaimed “strong suit for killing” hasn’t added much to the empire’s military prospects. A dozen years after we used 9/11 as an excuse to make futuristic war on the feudal tribes of west Asia, it looks like the tribes are surging while we’re scrambling.
   Over this lost decade of faraway fighting, American have learned exotic words like jihad, taliban, Pashtun and al qaeda. But they have forgotten a perfectly common English word named victory.  It’s been all but banished from official discourse. The reason is that our leaders, with their stupid scorn of history, have finally learned the hard way that there is rarely victory when you make war between the Levant and the Hindu Kush. Instead, there are constantly shifting alliances, episodes of advantage and disadvantage, and few scorecards. For example, see the currently kissyface Saudis and Israelis worrying that Obama will cut a deal with evil Iran that leaves them in the dumper. Such gallimaufry is as good as it gets.
     And so neither Dems nor Reps, libs nor cons call for the impossibility of victory in Iraq, Afghanistan, Waziristan, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, etc.  In fact, they don’t say much at all about those places. They just keep signing the  bills for additional billions in arms and aid to keep the conflicts roiling and the Pentagon's gun runners fat and happy.
    Thus here we are a dozen years on, still fighting the same feudal foes with nothing much to show for it--apart, that is, from Barack Obama discovering that he’s far more adept at presiding over real death panels than helping Americans to be healthier

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Commie Christmas  
  I grew up in a family and a community in which not being religious was the same as not being Martian. In other words, it was something never contemplated. Both of my parents were born into the Catholic culture of Dalmatia. My father, an easy-going sort, simply ignored religion as a reactionary relic for which he had no need.  He called the church the “Black lnternational” as opposed to the “Red International” fathered by Karl Marx.
    My mother went sincerely to church from childhood, but in the 1930’s switched to a rival faith called communism. Unlike my father, she was an angry apostate, disillusioned by the cynicism and corruption of the Roman circus.
    Despite all that, we celebrated a traditional Christmas every year.  We picked out a tree, decorated it, laid presents beneath it, cooked all sorts of Dalmatian goodies, dressed the turkey, and enjoyed a noisy feast populated by cousins, aunts and uncles presided over by the pious and imperious Matija, a grandma among grandmas.
    One year, I got a brace of Roy Rogers cap guns with real leather holsters. But the best year was when I got a set of Lional Trains. Just like Ralphie in “The Christmas Story,” I really wanted a Red Ryder BB gun. I never got one because ‘it could put your eye out.’
    I married a rootless cosmopolitan like myself and we raised our son without a thought about religion. Nevertheless, we also celebrated a traditional Christmas every year. When my kid was younger we played carols together with him on violin and me on banjo. When we could find them, we enjoyed heritage turkeys (dearer, tougher, more patriotic and far more flavorful than factory birds). In other words, we godless enjoy Xmas a lot--although not enough to do much shopping.
    Fox News and the righties demonize atheists like me and mine as being at war with Christmas. As with so many other issues they are simply full of shit.

 Note to the NSA and any other official bodies who may surveille this blog: My commie parents have been beyond the reach of repression lo these decades. As for me, I cop to being a not very active Green Party adherent and a member of the Bubble Bath Car Wash Club.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Crocodile Tears

Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger had adopted a policy known as the Tar Baby Option, according to which the US sought to maintain close relations with the white rulers in South Africa. Ronald Reagan continued to support links with South Africa, describing the ANC as "a terrorist organization", but congressional pressure forced increased distance between the two governments.--Wikipedia

If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world it is the United States of America. They don't care for human beings. Who are they now to pretend that they are the policemen of the world, the ones that should decided for the people of Iraq what should be done with their government and their leadership?--Nelson Mandela

      It was a CIA tip in 1962 to their buddies in the fascist South African police that put Nelson Mandela in prison for 27 years. And it was only five years ago, long after Mandela had served as president of his country, won the Nobel Peace Prize and had become a universally admired figure, that Washington finally removed him from its terrorist watch list.
    Official America and its kept media hated Mandela just as they hated Martin Luther King. To them, Mandela was a communist terrorist, the worst things, apart from also being a Muslim atheist, that anyone could be. (In fact, he was for a time a member of the South African Communist Party.)
    In other words, most of the encomiums to Mandela we’ve heard from on top in recent days are, like the Mafia attending the funerals of its victims, obscene exercises in cynicism.
    Back when the apartheid regime was at its murderous worst, the pro-Nazi racists who ran it were reassured that the U.S. and Israel*, its two best friends in the world, had its back.
    But in time, the forces of freedom won out, sending apartheid rule to hell and inspiring the beaten down across the globe.  Washington had to reluctantly join the celebratory crowd, lest it lose propaganda points by mourning or, worse, trying to revive the ancien regime

     Plus there were business opportunities aplenty in the new democratically-ruled South Africa. Calling its president a criminal was obviously not the way to make friends and profits. And so the official U.S. designation of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist was quietly dropped by the Bush administration in 2008. Pols and pundits switched gears as they had done with Chairman Mao back in 1970 and began pretending that Mandela was their hero all along.
    Mandela was lucky. If he had remained on the list after 2008, Obama might have droned him.

*See: The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa by Sasha Polokow Suransky.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Murder and Mendacity
    I wasn’t going to write anything about the murder of JFK to mark this 50th anniversary. Been there, done that to a fare thee well. But then a certain line of endlessly repeated bullshit by the media this week prompted me to make just one point about that long ago event.
    The particular bovine excrement spread by the prosties of the press is that “conspiracy theories” about the killing are born of a refusal by Americans to believe that such an awesome crime was committed by a lonesome nobody.
      In truth, the DNA-proven father of “conspiracy theories” is the ongoing refusal of those in power to supply coherent and plausible accounts of the Kennedy and Oswald killings.
    By now there’s a library full of books dealing in painstaking detail with the facts and forensics of the case. It is the official finding of the House Special Committee on Assassinations that there was, in fact, a conspiracy. Among the serious and honest, the report of the Warren Commission attributing sole guilt to Oswald has long since been relegated to the fiction shelves.
    That our media sluts repeat nonsense about Oswald being a solitary screwball shows them to be lazy at best and corrupt at worst.  If they had a shred of integrity, they could show it by demanding that the CIA open its still secret files on Oswald and, in particular, release his income tax returns for the years before the shooting. Let's see who he was working for. After half a century, I’m not holding my breath. 

   PS--If all the ballyhoo has gotten you interested in the case, a good place to start is with two of the early books that carefully examined the official evidence: Sylvia Meagher's Accessories After The Fact and Mark Lane's Rush To Judgment.
Straight Skinny on Obamacare
    On a totally different subject, I just read what I consider the best single piece on what Obamacare is all about. Click this LINK if you're interested.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Enemy Index
      It’s been a while since we moseyed over to the threat board and adumbrated our adversaries. We found something different this time. Instead of a country like Iran, a clan like the Pushtuns or a creed like Islam, our list of dreaded enemies is now topped by an individual human being. 
    Of course, it’s Edward Snowden. Scouring my memory and that of Wiki, I’ve yet to find a single person who has made a bigger dent in modern history simply by dint of taking his work home with him.
     Thanks to Snowden millions of Americans have learned that their government is just as megalomaniacal when it comes to invading our privacy as our military is about invading countries that have done us no harm.
    At the same time, hundreds of millions of foreigners have learned that there is more to Yankee imperialism than simply suffering its diktats.  The empire also aims to be a global Stasi, snooping on everyone everywhere about everything.  
    It looks like Snowden’s store of secrets will just keep flowing into the indefinite future. I can foresee two revelations that would bring on the biggest political mess since the failure of the Articles of Confederation. The fit would hit the shan with proof that the NSA was spying on our elected politicos. And all heck would break loose on evidence that the White House or some other  executive branchlet was using the NSA to surveil Congress.
    Meanwhile, as the revelations pour out, Snowden’s stock rises while that of Obama and the quasi-Stazi state he presides over sinks. Abroad, even old allies are saying suffit to Washington's increasingly absurd 'leadership,' while at home lefties and rightwing libertarians are finding that they finally agree on something: reining our self-destructive propensity to snoop and strafe the planet. So far, this is, for a change, all to the good.
    I’ll catch up with the other culprits on the old threat board with my next blog.