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.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Our Secret Syria
      Revolt and civil war. A government that poisons its rural population with chemical agents and directs death squads to deal with the political opposition. Hundreds of thousands of dead. Millions of internal refugees and more hundreds of thousands who have fled to neighboring countries.
    No. It’s our bloody best buddy Colombia, the Syria just to the south of us.
    As opposed to the endless news reports from that distant Arab country, coverage of the horrors that go on in Colombia range from miniscule to non-existent. Instead, what we’re told about Colombia is that it’s a ‘developing’ democracy and our best ally in Latin America. If pressed, our leaders admit that Colombia could do a tad better when it comes to human rights. But don’t worry, they’re working on it.
    There are lots of reasons for our media blackout on Colombia. One is that Washington doesn’t want the truth out about its sponsorship by way of billions in weapons, training and direction of what other Latins call a “death squad democracy.” It doesn’t fit with our pretense of being a champion of freedom.
    Another reason is that to acknowledge the millions of Colombian refugees is to admit to the enormity of the evils being committed there. It also turns our propaganda upside down. We are supposed to believe that people are fleeing from leftist countries like Ecuador and Venezuela. How do we explain hundreds of thousands flocking into those countries to escape Washington-sponsored ‘democracy?’
    Thankfully, the latest news from Columbia isn’t all bad. The current president, Santos, is a shade more reasonable than his murderous predecessor Uribe. And there are peace talks going on in Havana between the rebels (who have been at it for 60 years) and the government. But still atrocities go on as in Catatumbo.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gasus Belli 
I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.--Winston Churchill, 1919 
    Old Winston was cogitating about the most effective ways to punish Iraqis (nee Mesopotamians) who had the impertinence to rise up against rule by Perfidious Albion.
    Back in the day, it was permissible for colonial powers to use any weapon. no matter how horrible, to teach the wogs a lesson. We gringos, for example, pioneered dive bombing back in the 1920s. Our targets were refractory Nicaraguan peasants. The Nazis adopted the technique as a central element of their Blitzkrieg strategy.
    In Indochina we ended or extended the misery of millions of Vietnamese with the chemical Agent Orange. Then we helped our erstwhile ally Saddam Hussein gas Iranians and Kurds back in the ‘80s. And all of our recent wars have included the use of depleted uranium weapons.
    So it should be difficult for Washington to threaten war over alleged Syrian gas attacks on civilians with a straight face. But, then again, who in Washington
has a straight face?
    I have no idea about why such a self-destructive decision was made, but it appeared a couple of days ago that Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama was on the verge of making war on Syria, yet another distant country that has done us no harm.
    It seemed so because the media, in place of the usual political drivel, started rolling out the warhawks to salivate about weapons and tactics. Their jingoism was tempered this time by the worry that Syria may have means to defend itself.  Picking fights with those who can fight back has long been a no-no for the Pentagon and its contractors.
     Yesterday, Tuesday, the media was announcing war by tomorrow, Thursday. Now they seem to be backing off a bit. There’s talk of giving the UN inspectors more time. A NY Times headline finds the U.S case for war “muddied” by the refusal of the Arab League to endorse an attack on Syria.    
     After a dozen years of blood-letting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world’s most powerful empire only managed to make everything worse. It's all but guaranteed that a more awful result will result from a war on Syria. But, hey, the Pentagon contractors make a ton of bucks every time we fire off a million dollar cruise missile. So it's not all bad.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tales of Terror 
  WASHINGTON — The United States intercepted electronic communications this week among senior operatives of Al Qaeda [since identified as Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of the global terrorist group, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] in which the terrorists discussed attacks against American interests in the Middle East and North Africa...
    The above lede from the NY Times  raises some questions. For instance:
    It’s been 12 years since the world’s  most powerful military, informed by the world’s most expensive intelligence apparat, began waging relentless war on Al Qaeda. Yet this latest alert implies that the longest war in our history hasn’t accomplished much. Washington is tacitly admitting that, after all those drone strikes and special ops, Al Qaeda still has “senior operatives” able to plan wide-ranging attacks by way of conference calls. 
     Were these Al Qaeda confabs conducted in clear or in code? If it was the former, Al Qaeda executives are among the stupidest terrorists ever. If they were in code, then U.S. intelligence operatives are the stupidest counterterrorists ever for revealing by their alert that they had broken Al Qaeda’s code.
     And why, 12 years after 9/11, do the terrorists still “chatter” about their plans even though they know they’re being listened to? Why do they alert Washington by increasing that chatter whenever an attack is said to be imminent? You think they should have learned better by now.
    Popular  fiction about terrorism tends to be far more plausible than the nonsensical stuff put out by Washington. Would that our leaders could rise to the level of the writers for Chuck Norris movies. Then again, why should they when their tired old tales still work? Consider that it’s been 34 years, a third of a century, since Washington started warning us that Iran was on the verge of developing a nuke? And that inveracity remains serviceable to this day.
    Meanwhile, the Times did not completely give itself over to the terror tattlers. It reported deep in the same story cited above that, “Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the NSA's data-collection programs, and that if it showed the intercepts had uncovered a possible plot, even better.”
    That’s a take I can take.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Just Throw Money

WASHINGTON -- The House passed a defense budget Friday that exceeds the deal cut by Congress and President Barack Obama last summer, and that would have to be paid for with cash taken from poverty programs, health care and the federal workforce.--Huffington Post

    One of the oddest anomalies about us Americans is our willingness to endlessly spend treasure and blood and to sacrifice our living standards in a vain effort to rule a world about which we are otherwise ignorant and indifferent.
    Typically, a  few months back, there was a brouhaha about security screw-ups at our consulate in Benghazi that cost the lives of four Americans. An informal poll showed that the Congress people making the loudest noise about the incident had no idea of where Benghazi was.
    Rightwingers and liberals might seemingly be at each other’s jugulars in Washington, yet still bloated budgets for the Pentagon and its endless overseas adventures pass with massive majorities by both Reps and Dems.
    And this goes on, decade after decade, no matter the failures of the empire. I’m old enough to remember a time when, if we lost a war or yet another country turned “anti-American,” there was consternation in Congress with charges of treason and betrayal flying everwhere. If I recall, it was our “loss” of China in 1949 that fueled McCarthyism and the great big red scare.
    Today, no one seems to care that the empire is shrinking. Where’s the anger over the fact that our corrupt and incompetent military has been humiliated by feudal tribespeople in Afghanistan, or that we’ve left Iraq a messier and more dangerous place than when we stupidly invaded it?
    Such anger no longer exists because our interest in the world--never very high--has all but disappeared.  What’s replaced it is the belief that if we throw trillions at the Pentagon and our spying and security apparats, we need bother ourselves no further about the other 95 percent of humankind. Why worry when Hillary and now John Kerry are so good at their jobs?   
   Where will these endless trillions come from? Ordinary Americans, of course.  How will they be accounted for?  They won’t. Who will tote up the results, good and bad, from the constant intrigues, insurrections, coups and wars launched from Washington? No one.
    And who will get the blame when the debacles of our martial and financial regimes again sink the economy? The usual suspects, meaning the poor and powerless who serve as our national scape goats.
     So, it’s on to liberate Syria, or will it be Ecuador? No reason for us common folk to think about such stuff. The pols and generals know what they’re doing. And even if they don’t, zillion dollar drones will make the world obey us again.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Where’s Jack McCoy 
When We Need Him?
    He’s killed Americans with no more than an emperor’s thumbs down in place of due process. He’s committed or condoned countless war crimes. He’s rewarded rather than prosecuted the authors of the greatest financial ripoff in history. And now it looks like Barack Obama and his meta minions are also violating the national security and privacy laws of just about every nation on the planet. 
    And not just countries. The latest is that the U.S. was spying on the European Union’s offices. NSA spooks got a tip that the EU was full of foreigners and they apparently assumed that some were terrorists disguised as pencil pushers. Who knows if drone attacks on Brussels were contemplated? The Europeans, who take privacy a lot more seriously than we ‘let it all hang out’ Yanks, are so furious they’re contemplating canceling trade deals.
    As I noted in my last missive, when you tote up the billions being spent and vast facilities being built by the United Stasi of America, the logical conclusion is that, just as Washington seeks military mastery of Earth and space, so does it demand access and control over all the world’s electronic communications. That, of course, is megalomania, not to mention against a load of laws from here to Hobart.
    What’s needed from the illuded 95 percent of the world are prosecutors as gutsy as Law and Order’s fictional JackMcCoy or Spain’s actual Baltasar Garzón who are willing to indict Obama and his henchpersons. Edward Snowden, his laptops loaded with primo proof, would make an excellent witness for the prosecution.
    It was Garzón who filed charges against Washington’s good buddy and bloody dictator Augusto Pinochet of Chile for the torture and murder of Spanish citizens. Pinochet was visiting the UK at the time and Mrs. Thatcher’s government detained him in luxury before allowing him to go back to Chile. He avoided a host of charges at home by getting sick and dropping dead. Not being a right winger accused of torturing 30,000 men, women and children, it’s doubtful that Edward Snowden would be accorded such genteel treatment by our UK flunky.
     Doubtless the leader of the world’s most lawyerful empire would find ways to avoid or beat the rap. But just having indictments hung around Obama’s neck like leis from his Hawaiian home place might well dissuade future presidents from playing Ghengis Khan with a keyboard. 

     We've seen brave hackers like Edward Snowden step forward to challenge the empire. Now it’s time to see some brave jurists join the fray.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Honest, We Only Do It To Foreigners
    Ever since Edward Snowden gave his fellow Americans more proof that our spy services were busily turning the country into an East German-style surveillance state, the Obama administration has been trying to placate us by lying that it’s only snooping on foreigners.
    That wasn’t very bright, given that 95 percent of the world are foreigners. Not only that, many live in countries that take citizen privacy seriously and have laws against bugging that render the U.S. an outlaw.
    On his stop in Germany last week, Obama got an earful from foreigners, who, after experiencing the Gestapo and the Stasi, weren’t too happy about Uncle Sam violating their laws by emulating those awful organizations in their own country.
    Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe in Hong Kong, the same snoops we lavish with billions to secure us from the bad guys, were embarrassing Obama and the government by letting the desperately wanted Edward Snowden, formerly one of their own, slip through their nets and get away clean. It makes one ask how efficient these expensive spooks really are? In the end all they could do was to hurl empty threats against the nations that helped Snowden.
     And which countries were they? There was Russia, which we are continuing to surround with military bases 20 years after the Cold War. There was China, whose emergence on the world scene Washington and Wall Street expected to “manage.”  Instead, the Chinese committed the horrible anti-American act of managing themselves. There was Cuba, a country we’ve been trying to starve to death for half a century.  And there was Ecuador, whose highly popular government is not exactly in love with us since we tried but failed to overthrow it and kill its president back in 2010. Are those any reason for them not to love, cherish and obey us?
    What’s shocked official Washington is this outright disobedience of the great empire, beginning with the hitherto pliable Hong Kong authorities who let Snowden board a Russian airliner. Typical were the angry remarks by New York’s Senator Schumer, berating Russia’s Putin for defying the empire on Iran, Syria and now Snowden. He sounded like a plantation overseer fuming at an onery slave. 
    Given a carte blanc budget and the massive facilities it’s building, it’s an easy guess that our super duper surveillance state is not all about terrorism, so far a minor problem in the big scheme of things (In fact, since 9/11 we Americans are more likely to be run over by a Hupmobile driven by Judge Crater than fall victim to terrrorism.).
    Rather, it’s apparent that NSA and its public and private confederates want to mine all the world’s data. Not because it would somehow protect us but simply because bureaucracies are infinitely ambitious and treat those who would limit their limitless power as treasonous.
    As usual in such scandals, our corrupt media focus on discrediting the messenger and ignoring the message.  The secret documents revealed by Snowden, Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg and others tell us that Washington and Wall Street operate a global criminal empire that spawns cruel repression, coups and conflicts, endless wars, and untold misery--all to the profit of a tiny few.
    I know, most Americans don’t want to know that.  They'd rather remain blissfully ignorant or indulge the fantasy that our leaders always mean well despite the evils they commit.
    Snowden has done us a great service at the risk of his life. I hope he enjoys a long one.  I can picture him as an old man rocking contentedly on the porch of his finca somewhere special south of the border.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Longest War In Short 
    Q. How long was America’s longest war?
    A. Twelve years (2001 to 2013), or three times the length of World War II.
    Q. Where was it fought?
    A. Mostly in Afghanistan and partly in Pakistan?
    Q. Who was the enemy?
    A.The Taliban (meaning students), a reactionary Islamic movement composed mainly of Pushtoons, a medieval and largely illiterate tribe armed only with light infantry weapons..
    Q. How many died?
    A. Over 2,000 Americans, and the rest we don’t count.
    Q. How much did the war cost?
    A. A trillion or so, but, as I said, who’s counting? 

    Q. Anything special about these costs?
    A. Yes. Afghanistan was so backward that it didn’t have a banking system. So Washington flew over shrink-wrapped pallets of $100 bills, each pallet worth a million.  It’s estimated that up to 
$12 billion in cash disappeared, often right off the tarmac as the planes were being unloaded.
    Q. Where did the money end up?
    A. A lot went to the Gulf states, where well-connected Afghanis built mansions and invested in businesses. Some of it came back here to finance the boom in private military contractors we’ve been enjoying.
    Q. Was anyone ever prosecuted?
    A. A few Wilmers for show.
    Q. Can you give me other examples of misdeeds?
     A. Sure, at one point a shipment of 180,000 rifles and pistols disappeared, a lot ending up with the Taliban. And then there was the revelation that our military was paying up to $400 a gallon to the locals for gasoline. Talk about high test.
    Q. How was the war fought?
    A. A main tactic was busting into houses in the middle of the night, looking for Taliban. Since, without banking, Afghans kept their valuables at home, this tactic was very popular among U.S. troops.
    Q.  What’s happening now?
    A. U.S. forces are pulling out by 2014. And Washington is negotiating Afghanistan’s fate with the evil Taliban. But, in fact, everything's iffy and likely to blow up in everyone's face.
    Q. So who won the war?
    A. We don’t talk about that.
    Q. Wait a sec. You mean the world’s most powerful, not to mention expensive, military couldn’t beat a ragtag feudal tribe! That’s an epic scandal. There should be inquiries and investigations. Heads should roll.
    A.  As I said, we don’t talk about that.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Back In Business
    First, heartfelt thanks to the hordes of you who wished me luck and a rapid recoup. I've had my fair share of the first and I'm now taking the second to heart.
                         May 10, the day after                                                                            
Bed goes up, bed goes down” was Homer Simpson’s delighted observation on the American health care system. I like that part, too. There are other things I like about it as well.  For one, people who work in hospitals want to help other humans more than those in the hedge fund and drone trades. And that makes them nicer to get to know.
    I marvel at their learning and skill--at the fact that cardiac bypass, such as I experienced, is both routine and revolutionary with new tools and techniques coming along all the time. I’m alive because of all that.
    Unfortunately, all those smart and good people only partially make up for an institution in big, bad trouble. A quote in the NY Times tells it the way it is:
    "The "system" [meaning health] we have is not a system at all but a morass, a mess and a mind-boggling maze of incomprehensible fees and charges that no one can untangle without changing the "’system’" itself.”
    That reminded me of the fat manila envelope I have at home stuffed with forms filled with numbers that make no sense.  These are from Medicare’s private contractor and the only important thing on them is the box that says: Patient Responsibility. You always want that to be filled with zeros.
      We dearly need a world class health care system to match the world class care that a few of us lucky ones manage to get despite our broken system. That’s something we should all be working towards. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What, We Worry?     
    I bet the nine questions below do not top your list of worries.
    1. How can we keep China from replacing the U.S. as the dominant power in the China Sea?
    2. How can we keep Persia from replacing the U.S. as the dominant power in the Persian Gulf?
    3. Does rising Indian influence in the Indian Ocean pose an incipient threat to U.S. interests?
    4. How can the U.S. reverse the trend of Latin Americans taking over Latin America?*
    5. How can the U.S. make the North Koreans give up their nukes so that we can intimidate them again?
    6. How can the U.S. strive harder to do whatever Israel tells us to do?
    7. How can the U.S. get Hamid Karzai, the president Washington installed in Afghanistan, to do what we bribe him to do?
    8. Ditto for the regime the U.S. props up in Pakistan?
    9. Will the CIA finally succeed in assassinating Fidel Castro before he dies of old age?
    With our busy schedules, scurrying between the unemployment office and the soup kitchen, few Americans have time for foreign policy. They leave that to President Obama and his administration. Since we already know from grade school that we’re always the good guys, we assume that anyone Obama is warning or warring on must be bad guys.
    Not only are they bad, they’re so evil that we have no choice but to violate every law of God and man to combat them. Many of us don't enjoy torturing people, but sometime it’s just plain necessary to waterboard someone 183 times.
    Not only that, fighting the bad guys invariably requires stupendous sums of tax payer money, even if our enemies are impoverished feudal tribes living in mud huts. Lots of Americans can’t understand why Washington has no dough for civic and social needs, but unlimited moolah to zap $10 mud huts with million dollar missiles. That’s because Americans are unsophisticated. It’s the same reason  few of us fret the questions above.
    The solution:  I know it’s not easy, but to be better informed we have to begin spending less time with Jerry Springer and more time with Wolf Blitzer. 

*Produce The Deed, Secretary Kerry
In recent days, John Kerry, our Secretary of State, revived the long standing claim by the United States that it owns Latin America, presumably including its 500 million people. He described the Western Hemisphere as "our backyard," headlined in the south of the border media as "el patio trasero de los Estados Unidos." But as in past, the U.S. official supplied no paper work supporting this claim.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Terror, Terror and Terror
    "Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups. Yet there is no end in sight, and nowhere that ordinary men, women and children...can go to feel safe.”
    Boston last week? No. Northwest Pakistan any week. Or Guatemala in the 1980s. If you were focused on the Boston bombing, you might have missed a couple of other terrorism stories in recent days: 
    In Pakistan, former close American ally, Daily Show guest and all-around tyrant, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, thought it was safe for him to go home and run for office.  Instead, he was arrested  on charges ranging from murder and abuse of power to treason. It was Musharraf who secretly authorized the ongoing droning by the U.S. of his own country. The effect on his own people is reflected in the quote from CNN at the top of this blog.
    In Guatemala, former dictator General Efrain Rios Montt, a sub-commander of Ronald Reagan in our never-ending war on the leftists of Latin America, is finally standing trial for genocide. Roughly 200,000 men, women and kids, mostly Mayan Indians, were butchered by his regime in the 1980’s, their villages flattened by troops advised and armed by the U.S. and Israel. The crime of the Mayans was that for millenia they practiced a communal way of life. We don’t permit socialism in our backyard.
    Including the Boston Marathon bomber, that’s three terrorists facing judgment.  Imagine if we could prosecute all of them. That would make work for every lawyer in Washington.   

Monday, April 8, 2013

Your Tax Dollars At (Dirty) Work 
   Back in 2006, the anti-Democratic regime of strong man George W. Bush spent at least $15 million subverting the popularly-elected government of Venezuela.  We know the amount from a new WikiLeak of a secret memo sent by the then U.S. Ambassador in Caracas to SouthCom, the Pentagon command assigned to strong arm the shrinking South American division of the empire. The document covers four points: “penetrating Chavez’s political base,” “dividing Chavismo,” “protecting vital US business” and “isolating Chavez internationally.”
    No doubt, a lot more money was spent that year for the same purpose by other branches of our government. And it wasn’t even an election year in Venezuela, when the big bucks pile in from Washington (meaning us) to impress our brand of droneocracy on its people.
    It’s still going on--and it's obviously a waste of coin. If anything, the revolution in Venezuela has been putting down deeper roots and becoming more popular over the years. That’s what tends to happen to governments that stop serving the the rich and are obliged instead to share their powers with ordinary citizens and provide tangible benefits and services to them. 

     For instance, in Venezuela there is no Chavezcare equivalent of Obamacare designed to profit insurance companies. Instead, they have free medical care for everyone. Like in Christendom. And that bad example is one of the reasons that Washington remains intent on getting rid of the responsive regime in Venezuela and the other progressive countries to the south of us. 
    If you take the trouble to peruse the links in this blog, including the full text of the WikiLeak's memo, remember that the constant positive use of the word democracy by Ambassador Brownfield has little to do with its dictionary definition. What the ambassador and  our other policymakers mean by democracy is our political economy characterized as it is by lootocracy and the extreme concentration of wealth and power.

   Venezuela is having an election in a few days to choose a successor to the late President Chavez.  It looks like Vice President Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and labor activist, is a shoo-in. No doubt, all the opprobrium heaped on the beloved Chavez will now rain down on Maduro.  And no doubt the American embassy will keep on buying "democracy" with dollars just like Obama spreads freedom with his kill lists.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reviled Yet Respected
     ABC is running a series called Scandal in which the President of the United States murders a Supreme Court justice while his top advisor tries to cover up the election he rigged to put the killer and his scheming wife into the White House.
    Showtime has a hot series called Homeland in which a Congressman, who is also a Marine hero and a Muslim terrorist, kills the Vice President of the United States. The daddy of these shows was “24” which depicted the U.S. government as chock-a-block with traitors, intriguers and incompetents, and whose one and only savior, Jack Bauer, was a demento killer and torturer who was the issue of a criminal clan.
    Moving across the Atlantic to the large church just over the wall from our former digs on the Via Niccolo Quinto, there are endless articles, books, plays, movies and tv series (check out The Borgias on Showtime) recounting the rogueries of the Roman Church over the last two millenia. Any evil that man has done, from simple simony to rape of the innocent and the waging of war for plunder and torture for pleasure, not to mention the perpetuation of spiritual quackery, has been committed by and for pontiffs and Curia and all that they command.
    Compared to these dastardly depictions of our sacred and profane leaders, the faults I find with them in this blog amount to flicking my belly button lint at the Capitol or the Vatican--for which, I guess, I could be charged with littering if the authorities were able to come up with the evidence.
    Whether watching the perpetual conspiracy that hatches popes in Rome or the endless chicanery that governs Washington, what intrigues me is that the media giants who entertain us by trashing those institutions as perdurably corrupt deliver exactly the opposite message in their news divisions.
    Over on the news side, the most incredible, be they popes or politicos, are afforded endless credibility. No matter how spurious or merely stupid their utterances, they are accepted as mainstream and worthy of respect merely because of their provenance. A perfect example: the thoroughly discredited  Newt Gingrich, recently labeled a “prick” by fellow reactionary Roger Ailes of Fox News, continues his lamentable record for being invited on Meet The Press more than anyone else ever.
      All of this must be confusing to the faithful-citizen-viewer.  Who should they believe?  The producers of Scandal who warn us that Washington is the devil’s backroom or those of This Week With George Stephanopoulos who reassure us that, no matter how terrible things appear, our leaders always mean well?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hugo Chavez
      How things change.
    Fifty years ago, at the height of its imperial power, Washington persuaded all the member nations of the Organization of American States, with the brave exception of Mexico, to expel Cuba from its ranks.
    Today, the OAS is moribund, replaced by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. Cuba is currently chair of this continent-wide organization while the increasingly isolated U.S. has been excluded.  

     What’s significant about CELAC, as it’s known by its Spanish initials, is that both progressive and conservative governments hastened to join this organization in which the U.S. empire would have no say. Whether left or right, they agreed that their future lay in their own independence and unity. CELAC was just one of the dreams that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela brought to reality.
    His other great accomplishment was to lift millions of his own people out of poverty and powerlessness. To do this, he obviously had to brave the wrath of the multinationals and their comprador allies who were reaping billions from Venezuela’s oil while millions went hungry.
    The empire threw everything short of invasion at him: coup plots, sabotage, strikes by the bosses, endless assassination attempts. It even put up candidates for election.  But each assault on the revolution only made it stronger.
    Venezuela still has huge problems: crime, entrenched bureaucracy and the ever looming counter-revolution. It’s attempting to create a real socialist democracy at home while forging unity in the hemisphere. No one knows how far Venezuela will go towards realizing Chavez’s vision for his country and his continent. But after 14 years, the revolution has made solid gains and put down deep roots. Latin America has, by and large, broken free of the empire’s cruel grip.
    I believe that people and movements make history, so I’m not one for the ‘great man’ theory. Still, it cannot be doubted that leaders who really change things do occasionally appear. Latin America had Bolivar, Juarez and Marti. Chavez will be remembered alongside them.
    For a fuller view of Hugo Chavez’ legacy and Venezuela’s prospects, I’ve added this and this link from CEPR, one of the best sources for honest economic news we have.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

 Easy But Impossible 
    In John Kerry we have a new Secretary of State who actually speaks the language of diplomacy, that being French. Thus when his demarches are dismissed and things go de mal on pis he’ll be au courant.
    Lots of people thought his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, was terrific at the job even though a list of her tangible accomplishments wouldn’t fill the back of a post card from one of the countless exotic locales where she looked in on the empire’s endless interests.
    That she left the empire weaker than she found it is no mark against her tireless efforts. It’s just a fact of life that ever more nations are finding ever fewer reasons to obey Washington and Wall Street. By the same token, WWS have ever fewer means to enforce their writ on the other 95 percent of the globe.
    The big guns of the empire used to be military, industrial and financial power. The first two are suffering long-term decline, and the third, though growing like poison ivy, requires ever more debt to fertilize itself. 

  The problem with the military is that its multi-trillion dollar success at enriching contractors has not been been matched by competency in combat. It’s hard for an empire to intimidate its adversaries and rivals when it's losing wars to third world countries and feudal tribes.
    America’s non-pareil industrial might was dismantled and delivered to the Chinese, among others, because they worked cheaper. Bad move. Better to have a country full of people making cars than people washing cars.
    Only finance has made out--literally like a bandit. Indeed, it overwhelms the global economy. A new survey by Bain & Company of Romney repute tells us that, “Today, total financial assets are nearly 10 times the value of the global output of all goods and services.” In other words, a business that exists as pixels on screens and numbers on paper is worth ten times more than everything else on earth--including Jay Leno’s car collection.
    Though we are still the leader in finance, that doesn’t mean much.  First, because we’re also hopelessly in debt. Second, because finance is an easy game for resource- and cash-rich countries to play. That means we’ll have ever-growing competition when it comes to turning deals. Third, because finance is inevitably a house of cards.
    So that doesn’t give son excellence Monsieur Kerry much to work with.  That’s if he expects to help the empire grow despite its parlous condition. He’ll have it a little easier if he and his bosses in the White House and on the street are realistic enough to begin sensibly managing its dotage. Lots of former imperial states are doing well (the global capitalist crisis aside).
    Sadly, realism was banished from Washington some time ago. America’s problems abroad and at home are easy but impossible to fix. Easy because they are reparable through reason and impossible because the greedheads and crazies who run the place have subject reason to rendition.
    So, good luck to you, Secretary Kerry.  I trust you will serve President Obama as ably as William L. Marcy served Millard Fillmore.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two For One Week

LET'S MAKE A DEAL--You’re out to buy a new car. You go to the dealership, pick out the model you want and start bargaining with the salesperson. You affect a tough look and make your opening bid:
    “I’m prepared to pay $2,000 over list price--but, if you insist, I’ll go $5,000 over list.” 
    “No way,” the smiling salesperson answers. “I’ve got a kid in college. The best I can do is $10,000 over list.”
    “OK,” you say. “Will you take $7,000 over list?”
    “It’s a deal!” says the now giggling salesperson.”
    Obama and the Dems in Washington call that hard bargaining. And they’re proud of their skill at it.
    Last year, Ob and the Dees came up with a clever new version of it. They got a sequester bill passed (don’t ask me what that word means in congressional context) that said, in effect, if the Republicans don’t accept our concessions we’ll punish them by drastically reducing government come March 1, 2013.
    “That’s not punishing them,” a wag pops in. “That's giving them exactly what they want. You’re just selling out.”
    “Keep talking like that,” say Ob and the Dems, “and you better start worrying about the objects flying overhead.”

THE GREAT (CON) GAME--The Iranians celebrated the anniversary of their 1979 revolution this month. That means 34 years since our leaders started warning us that, as well as being a threat to the Persian Gulf,  the Persians were on the verge of acquiring a nuke. Meanwhile, it’s 12 years since we started targeting the apparently unlimited top executives of Al Qaeda and tussling with the tenacious Taliban. So far all we have to show for this are the profit margins of our war makers and a couple of juicy ass for brass scandals by our generals.  Given the apathy of Americans. our leaders can keep these con jobs going for at least as long the Crusades. They went on, inconclusively, for two centuries, if I recall.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ben There, Done That   
     Almost as venerated by Americans as the almighty dollar, the Pope of Rome is just another politician to Italians. Thus this morning on NPR the news of the demission of Joey Ratz was treated in a speak-no-ill-of-the-infamous tone.  That was until Sylvia Poggioli, NPR’s longtime Rome correspondent with a typically European secular outlook, came on air to assess Benedict XVI’s reign. She got into the negatives pretty quickly since the positives were so paltry. At that point, Poggioli’s piece was cut short with the obviously agitated anchors excusing that they had to move on to another story.  (That is, one of lesser import since the papal pensioning was the lead item that morning).
    The pontifical Benedicts, a parade stretching back a millenium, were not exactly a heaven-sent bunch.  No. 3 was  rumored to have really been a German girl named Joan whose robes hid her pregnancy. No. 4 presided mostly over chaos, which killed him.  No. 5 was a libertine who had his head cracked opened personally by the Holy Roman Emperor. No. 6 was strangled on orders of Pope Boniface VII. No. 8 was a lay warrior, noted for banning marriage by priests because they were leaving church property to their heirs. No. 9, an antipope, was chased out of Rome by angry mobs and later captured and convicted of corruption. No. 12 was known for harsh interrogations and, more positively, starting the construction of the wonderful papal palace at Avignon. No. 13 was the Bernie Madoff of popes, bringing on the financial collapse of the Vatican.  On the bright side, No. 14 favored literature and the arts. No 15 was a noted peacemaker who made the deal with Mussolini that led to the creation of the modern Vatican state.
    Below is a tribute to the departing No, 16, who, to be fair, was in the Hitler Youth but never joined the party:

   L'ultimo comunicato ufficiale di Joey Ratz dalla Santa Sede: Informiamo tutti i Credenti che stare a letto nudi, in compagnia di qualcuno, e urlare:"Oh mio Dio! Oh mio Dio!" 

(Last official Communication from Joey Ratz of the Holy See: We inform all believers that being in bed naked with someone and shouting: "Oh my God, Oh my God!" is not considered prayer.)
               Grazie a Rosella per l'immagine

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Murder By Memo 

NBC News, to its credit, yesterday released a Justice Department memo that reveals more scary details about the Obama administration’s murderous attack on the Constitution and the rule of law.  Below is an update of my blog of May 21, 2010, when I first learned some of the awful truths.

     In Catch 22, General Dreedle, annoyed by Major Danby’s moaning, orders that he be taken out and shot. Dreedle’s son, Colonel Moodus, whispers to him and he replies in surprise: “‘You mean I can’t shoot anyone I want to?’ He pricked up his ears with interest as Colonel Moodus continued whispering. ‘Is that a fact?’ he inquired, his rage tamed by curiosity."
    The reason General Dreedle couldn’t shoot anyone he wanted to is western civilization. Once upon a time, kings and generals killed people and started wars at their whim. Over centuries, the rule of law and popular consent gradually replaced Caesar’s thumbs up or thumbs down. Thus the west became civilized.
    It was a long process. In 1215, King John of England was forced by his barons to sign a document stripping him of many of his ‘divine’ powers. Called the Magna Carta, it codified habeus corpus. No longer could the king simply off you on his say-so. If he thought you had committed some infraction, he had to produce you, bring charges and let a trial decide your guilt or innocence.
    Five hundred later, the U.S. Constitution declared that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law.” And now we have a  leader, a lawyer no less, and his followers acting as if these two documents did not exist.
     Before these latest revelations about yet another Murder Inc. operating from the Oval Office  (Lyndon Johnson accused JFK of running one, if you recall), Barack Obama gave us several indications that, even though he was a professor of law, his devotion to it was casual at best.
    He declined to prosecute the war crimes charged to the Bush administration.  He said they were in the past and he was looking to the future.  Try that with a judge the next time you get a traffic ticket. Then he backed away from trying the perpetrators of the greatest financial crime in history. Such cases, with all those numbers, were too complicated to bring, his non-prosecutors said, adding that, in any event, the obvious culprits were too rich and too powerful to punish.
    Had a Republican president committed such derelictions, the Dems and liberals would be having conniptions. But since a Dem was doing the devil’s work, they changed the subject or took naps. What did you expect?
    The people who own and run this country are much sharper than us.  Decades ago, when they wanted to do business with super commie Red China, they picked hard-line anti-communist Richard Nixon to cut a deal with Mao.  Now, when they’ve decided that the rich and imperial must be protected from law and order at any cost, they cast a reputedly “liberal” black constitutional lawyer to be their hitman. And still the hopeless liberals nap, undisturbed not only by the killing of “terrorists” a world away but also indifferent to the news that Obama’s FBI considers the Occupy movement here at home a “terrorist” organization.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Which Side Are We On?
      Even though we owe them our independence, the Frenchies have always been our bêtes noires. The same unwritten but strictly observed law that forbids Americans from faulting Israel also bans any flattering of France. Still, our two countries have usually found ourselves on the same side in our recent wars. Indeed, we went so far as to pay for their colonial conflict in Indochina and then keep it going after they took a shellacking at Dien Bien Phu. Except for our invasion of Morocco early in World War II, where U.S troops overwhelmed  French forces uncertain in their loyalty to the fascist Vichy regime, the two nations have never really fought.
    Well, there’s a first for everything. Right now, French troops are in combat not with Americans per se, but with renegade Malian forces equipped, trained and advised until recently by the Pentagon.  Here's how a revealing NY Times dispatch puts it:
    “For years, the United States tried to stem the spread of Islamic militancy in the region by conducting its most ambitious counterterrorism program ever across these vast, turbulent stretches of the Sahara.
    "But as insurgents swept through the desert last year, commanders of this nation’s elite army units, the fruit of years of careful American training, defected when they were needed most — taking troops, guns, trucks and their newfound skills to the enemy in the heat of battle, according to senior Malian military officials.
"It was a disaster," said one of several senior Malian officers to confirm the defections. Then an American-trained officer overthrew Mali’s elected government, setting the stage for more than half of the country to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. American spy planes and surveillance drones have tried to make sense of the mess, but American officials and their allies are still scrambling even to get a detailed picture of who they are up against."                
     Right there, you have a $500 million screw-up. Not that anyone in charge will make a stink about it: the only thing as sacrosanct as the Pentagon is Wall Street.
    More interesting will be how the U.S.-trained rebels fare against the Frenchies. Which side will the Pentagon generals be rooting for down in their guts? An army that they proudly created, even if it did surprisingly switch sides (as is typical in the region), or the forces of the mission civilisatrice who are on our side but whom we really can’t countenance?

      To My Reader: Taking a break. 
Back in two weeks

Friday, January 11, 2013

Learning The 3R's
     There are two AARPs. The better known one sells insurance and discount laxatives to duffers. The lesser known one, the American Association of Rightwing Propagandists, decides what our news should be.
    This second AARP publishes a poster displayed in newsrooms from Fox to NPR. Titled Reactos Rules of Reporting, it’s designed to teach tyro journalists what they can and cannot say in their stories.
     The first RRR proscription is that Israel must never be criticized. The second is that the free market, even when it becomes monopolized,  must always be described reverentially and as the cure for every civic and social ill. The third is that Israel must always be praised.

     The fourth is a ban on the use of the phrase big business. All businesses, even Exxon Mobil, must be described as small, friendly and helpful to the community. A corollary rule is to never even hint that businesses raise prices to make more money for themselves. Rather, they do it to improve their product and benefit the community. Also, when corporations are convicted of wrong-doing, never describe such instances as crimes, but rather as mistakes and inadvertencies. Likewise, Israel's dubious actions must always be put in the best light.
      Never, under any circumstances, must it be revealed that the biggest, most important, most expensive and dangerous thing the U.S.A. does is to run a global empire. Always say instead that the U.S. is the world’s leader because it helps other, usually ungrateful, countries.
    When referring to countries that publicly provide health care to all of their citizens at reasonable cost, always claim that their people have to wait years and decades for treatment. Never reveal that Israel has such a public system.
    In stories about the Iranian “threat,” never mention that Washington has been warning about Iran’s proleptic nukes for the last 34 years. It might make some citizens cynical.
    Finally, it must constantly be reiterated that the U.S. is the greatest country in the world--except, of course, for Israel.
     The above  is only a sample. For your free copy of the complete RRR poster, write to RRR, Liar’s Bend, AZ.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Giveaway of Giveaways
    The Connecticut state budget for the upcoming year is $20.5 billion. That’s walking around money for Bridgewater Associates of Westport, Connecticut, reckoned to be the biggest and most profitable hedge fund and money manager in the universe. Richer than God, as they say.
    Bridgewater disposes over $120 billion in assets, or six times  CT’s budget.  Last year, Bridgewater paid Ray Dalio, its founding partner, $3.9 billion. That’s enough to tip every Connecticit resident a grand and still leave $400 million for Mr. Dalio to scrape by on.     

     Connecticut is a solidly liberal state. The governor is a Dem and the Dems dominate both legislative houses. Reps are rare and tea baggers are strictly from Liptons. So you might think, that with such leadership, Connecticut would be giving the little guys a break and letting the big guys fend for themselves. Think again.
    You may then gulp at the news that Governor Malloy is taking millions from education and social services to give to Bridgewater. That’s $115 million, to be precise, to be transferred from taxpayer to titan. And this while slashing state services to cover a $365 million budget shortfall. Though my better half says that the analogy is not quite apt, I say that’s like donating your wedding ring to Tiffany’s to help with their bottom line. 
    The next time you move to a different town within Connecticut, you might ask the governor to pay the movers.  That’s, in effect, what he’s doing for Bridgewater. It has outgrown its Westport headquarters and says it needs a lot more room to store its ever increasing mountain of money bags. The taxpayers’ hundred mill is to help the hedgie settle into ampler digs with water views in Stamford, which just happens to be Malloy's hometown
    According to the gov, the payoff for Connecticut will be a thousand new jobs at Bridgewater over the next decade. That assumes that the markets remain buoyant. Otherwise there may be a thousand fewer jobs. But that hardly matters.  Private companies always promise to use public largesse to hire people. I have never heard of a single instance in which a company’s failure to do so was even noticed, let alone sanctioned.
   For decades now, the main business of this country has been transferring wealth from the poor and middling classes to the richest of the wealthy class. The Bridgewater deal couldn’t be a more shameless example of this.

I was pleased over the holidays to be a guest of my old pal Mike DeRose on his New Focus radio program out of Hartford.  Stations and listening times are as following:

WWUH (91.3FM) or (U of Hartford): Friday @ 12 Noon and Tues @ 8:30PM.

WHUS (91.7FM) or (UConn):  Friday @ 5PM.

(88.1FM) or (Wesleyan U): Monday @ 1:30PM.