Sunday, July 20, 2014

 Run, Run, Run, Runaway
    When the Cubans won their revolution in 1959, the American officer in charge of advising the army of dictator Batista called on Fidel Castro. He offered to set up a U.S. training mission for the new rebel army just as he had done for the departed tyrant. Why, Castro asked, would I hire those who trained the losers?
    In the last stages of that revolution, the U.S.-armed and advised Batista forces threw away their weapons and faded into the wood work. Ten years earlier, Chinese Nationalists sponsored by Washington skedaddled before the Red Chinese. In 1975, the South Vietnamese army created by the Pentagon at the cost of billions likewise collapsed.  In recent days, the Iraqi army, designed down to the last detail by the American military, took flight, top brass running fastest, when attacked by a far smaller force of Sunni fanatics known as ISIS. Left in their dust were the ruins of the decade-long, trillion dollar effort to remake Iraq as the centerpiece of the American empire’s dominance of the Middle East.
    All of these failures at arms--like the ones to come--have a common history: a dictatorship set up or succored by Washington finds its people in revolt. The U.S. moves in to crush the revolt by rebuilding the dictatorship’s military. But no matter how much training or how many shiny new weapons the Pentagon hands out, the recruits for the puppet army balk. They don’t want to kill their own people at the behest of  the foreigners propping up the dictatorship they hate. So they run away.
    It’s perfectly understandable.  How many Americans would willingly kill other Americans under orders of a foreign military?
    Washington can't deal with that reality. It believes its own propaganda that the other 95 percent of the world, with the exception of a few troublemakers, should be willing to fight and die for the American way of life in preference to their own. 
    Will our leaders ever accept that people everywhere, and not just in America, want to be ruled by their own kind? No!  If they did, the justification for U.S. “global leadership” would  collapse and a lot of rich and powerful people bent on global domination would become less rich and powerful.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Official Line   
    Check the news on the mass media and, with rare exceptions, you will be fed the official line. It will be served to you directly or as the presumption behind whatever story is being covered.  Media that do not spout the official line are considered “alternative” at best and “subversive” at worst.
   If you haven’t figured out the official line lately, it goes something like this: America is the greatest country on earth. This is a unique category: there’s no such thing as a second or third greatest country. Being the greatest means the following:
    Americans have and do things better that other countries. If that’s not always so, we don’t want to know about it.
    We are a peaceful country. We say this despite the fact that we lead the world in arms and in the number and size of foreign wars we have undertaken over our history.
    We are a democratic country. We claim this despite the reality that our political system is a thoroughly corporatized profit center designed to benefit the richest one percent of the population and bamboozle the other 99 percent.
    We are a free country. This we claim even though we have by far the world’s biggest prison population (2.3 million) and are all subject to surveillance and control in just about every aspect of our lives by an ever growing and increasingly militarized national security state.
    We grant ourselves the prerogative to “lead” the other 95 percent of the world, whether the rest of the world agrees or not. Disobedience of our global writ can draw penalties ranging from sanction and subversion to full scale invasion.  

    Our sovereignty is inviolable. The sovereignty of other countries depends on their ability to prevent us from violating it. For instance, we can force down the presidential jet of the small country of Bolivia, but not that of a big country like Russia.
    When countries we regard as adversaries do good things, it’s always for bad reasons. When we do bad things, it’s always for good reasons. For instance, when Venezuela provides free
eye surgery for millions of Latinos, it’s to gain propaganda points. When we destroy whole societies, it’s to fight terrorism.
    If you’re a young idealist who gets a jobwithin the machinery of capitalism and/or the empire, you will soon discover that the official line is pure bunkum and reality much more fraught. If you tell others about your discovery, some will label you “anti-American” for doubting the official line.  Others will mock you as a sucker for ever having bought it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Megalobamia

    America must always lead on the world stage...The military is...and always will be the backbone of that leadership...The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it.--Barack Obama at West Point. May 28, 2014
 
    In fiction, people who want to rule the world are depicted as megalomaniacal villains. In real life, though, Americans take it as normal when their politicians, pundits and militarists endlessly tout the necessity of U.S. “leadership” over the other 95 percent of humanity. Neither do they get alarmed when their president says that their military (meaning endless war) is their main means of global dominance. Quite the opposite: the nation’s conservative majority and a good part of its liberal minority remain unabashed jingoes no matter how many wars we lose.
    U.S. claims to be humanity’s honcho don’t have much resonance beyond our borders. The other 95 percent is moving, however fitfully, towards a multi-polar world. Big grown-up countries like China, Brazil, India, Russia and Germany see no reason to be led. Smaller countries are getting together in regional groupings and find little need for a godfather.
    Not only is the other 95 percent getting more independent, the U.S. is becoming actually and relatively weaker. We’ve done some incredibly self-destructive things in recent decades: starting pointless, losing and debilitating wars, shifting from making things to manipulating money, gutting public services, dumbing down education, and, weirdly and uniquely, hosting the growth of a popular movement denouncing science, the basis of modern civilization. 
    When your population leads the globe in prison inmates, obesity and debt, when you get trounced in wars by medieval tribes, and when your political and civic systems no longer function while avoidable disasters pile up, you’re not the kind of country other nations will obey, let alone emulate. Just ask the Taliban.
    Back in another era, a typical form of lunacy was pretending to be Napoleon, who also sought to rule the world. I don’t know but wouldn’t be surprised if those deluded with grandeur nowadays see Obama as their model.

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

...it 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.