Thursday, January 31, 2008

THE THEATRE



Rivers and Roads


Provinces


Ethnic

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

THE REAL NEOCON PLAN


the real neocon plan, the secret one not disclosed to the American people. It involved the use of Iraq as the U.S. political and military base in the Middle East, dictation of terms to surrounding nations, protection of our oil dependencies, long term occupation, and the construction of permanent military bases. All of this would be administered by a proconsul of Roman proportions, safely sequestered behind a multi-billion dollar fortress now known as the Green Zone.

...The costs to the American taxpayers, who the Republicans constantly say they care about, of a fifty year American presence in Iraq will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, not to say the potential tens of thousands of American casualties ("casualty;" killed or wounded).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BREAKOUT



through the breach surged some 350,000 Palestinians. And what did they do on the other side? They went shopping for the essentials of daily life, denied them by an Israeli siege imposed with the Wehrmacht logic of collective punishment.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

OLIGOPSONIES GENERATE OLIGOPOLIES = OLIGONOMY


We live under an unleashed transnational limited-liability profiteers' boardroom hegemony,

trying to get uncle to re-leash the bastards is nothin but a rubes' game. Fool me once....

Source

Oligonomy defined

The vocabulary of economists has no word to describe an increasingly common phenomenon. An oligopoly, as you know, is a market sector in which there are few sellers. An oligopsony is a market sector in which there are few buyers. But there are an increasing number of market sectors in which the same companies are both oligopolies and oligopsonies. This situation I propose to call an oligonomy.

In an oligonomy, companies act as an oligopoly to one group, as an oligopsony to another. For example, a handful of companies (McCormick, Durkee) buy most of the culinary herbs grown around the world. To the farmers, they constitute an oligopsony, and the farmers are at a disadvantage to them. To the markets that resell their wares, they are an oligopoly, with an advantage over those retailers. That is a simple oligonomy, basically where a few firms act like the gatekeepers between producers and retailers.

Another example occurs in the television sector. The handful of companies that own TV channels (Viacom, Disney, GE, etc.) are an oligopoly to those companies who want to buy ad time. They are an oligopsony to those studios that produce and sell programs.

But, as we've said, oligopolies breed oligopsonies, as companies must consolidate to try to defend their interests. Only an oligopsony can stand toe-to-toe with an oligopoly. When several layers of the market have this opposition set up, we have a tiered oligonomy. Some examples: ...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


FALLING OUT AMONGST THIEVES WORKING FOR GLOBAL CAPITALISM

source


Also, the shell - the façade - of a people power movement can be used by a national elite to seize power for international capital. Rather than use the term populist/people power to refer to ODM, it is appropriate to borrow a term from the International Republican Institute. The term the IRI uses is "consolidating democracy," referring to a technique it used in the Ukrainian Orange Revolution and in Haiti against Aristide. Consolidating democracy translates into bringing together civil organizations (religious, universities, local NGO's, women's organizations etc), and uniting various opposition factions into one large electoral force. The sole purpose of consolidating democracy is to remove the sitting government. There is no coherent underlying ideology in this goal - no interest in empowering the people, or returning economic and political institutions to them. Rather than develop real roots with the people so that when in power ODM becomes an extension of them, ODM has taken the easy route of consolidating democracy following the IRI model.

"Not all opposition parties are anti-imperialist or opposed to the move by global capital to consolidate the world."

We urgently need to distinguish between people power movements (such as those we have seen in Latin America), populist movements, and neo-liberal opposition movements that consolidate democratic institutions for global capitalism. People power movements are a fifth force usually in opposition to legislative, executive, judiciary and military influences. When they seize power through democratic means, they immediately attempt to transform the other four forces into revolutionary instruments. Laws nationalizing resources or redistributing land and resources are passed. The army is transformed from an instrument of intimidation into one that helps in times of disasters - in short a people power government places the people at the center of the state. When a movement that has been consolidating democracy gets into power it does the opposite, and the democratic structures become instruments of global capital and US Foreign policy. (Liberia, for example, after working with IRI is one of the few countries to open its national door to the US African Command Center). If missionaries paved the way for colonialism, evangelists of western democracy like IRI pave the way for US foreign policy.

TAIBBI - OATMEAL


And when Hillary finally arrives, her speech turns out to be the same maddeningly nonspecific, platitude-filled verbal oatmeal that every candidate has spent the last year slinging in all directions -- complete with the same vague promises for "change" we've heard from every last coached-up dog in this presidential hunt, from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney.

"Some people think you get change by demanding it," says the former first lady. "Some people think you get change by hoping for it. I think you get change by working hard for it every single day."

Hillary attacking "hope" amounts to a major rhetorical offensive. "Hope," after all, is Barack Obama's own personal spoonful of oatmeal, and by disparaging it, Hillary has given this gym full of political hacks tomorrow's sports headline.

And the hacks deliver, right on cue. AN OBAMA-CLINTON TEMPEST BREWS roars The Los Angeles Times, noting that Hillary's shot at "hoping for change " is directed at Obama, while "demanding change" is code for John Edwards.

Obama responds by crowing, "I don't need lectures about how to bring about change." The "change-demander," Edwards, stakes out his own platitudinal turf, insisting that change isn't about work or hope at all, but about "toughness" and "courage."

The real stuff happens behind closed doors, where armies of faceless fund-raising pros are glad-handing equally faceless members of the political donor class, collecting hundreds of millions of dollars that will be paid off in very specific favors over the course of the next four years. That's the real high-stakes poker game in this business, and we don't get to sit at that table.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

RALPH NADAR PROVIDES A LIST




Unfortunately neither the Democans or Republicrats will be talking about any of this. If your candidate is not forcefully talking about these issues along with specific and immediate reforms then he/she is wasting your time and hers/his because nothing of significance will change.

This is a redaction of the original.

The complete original can be found here

  • call for a national crackdown on the corporate crime, fraud, and abuse that have robbed trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders, taxpayers and consumers. Among the reforms that won’t be suggested are ...
  • demand that workers receive a living wage instead of a minimum wage. ... repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, ...forming or joining trade unions ... Wal-Mart or McDonald’s levels.
  • call for a withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA. Renegotiated trade agreements should stick to ...
  • a call for our income tax system to be substantially revamped so that workers can keep more of their wages while we tax the things we like least, ... that corporations should be required to pay their fair share;
  • a call for a single payer health system. ... a program with quality and cost controls and an emphasis on prevention.
  • stand up to the commercial interests profiting from our current energy situation. ... major new initiatives in solar energy, doubling motor vehicle fuel efficiency, ... clean energy technologies. ... recognition that current fossil fuels are producing not just global warming, but also cancer, respiratory diseases, and geopolitical entanglements. ...ending environmental racism that leads to more contaminated water, air, and toxic dumps in poorer neighborhoods.
  • reduction in the military budget that devours half the federal government’s operating expenditures at a time when there is no Soviet Union or other major state enemy ...a wasteful defense weakens our country and distorts priorities at home.
  • call for electoral reform. Both parties have shamelessly engaged in gerrymandering,
  • Other electoral reforms ...reducing barriers to candidates, same day registration, a voter verified paper record for electronic voting, run-off voting to insure winners receive a majority vote, binding none-of-the-above choices and most important, full public financing to guarantee clean elections.
  • a failed war on drugs that costs nearly $50 billion annually. And the major candidates will not argue that addicts should be treated rather than imprisoned. .. repeal the “three strikes and you’re out” laws that have needlessly filled our jails or to end mandatory sentencing that hamstrings our judges.
  • stop ignoring the diverse Israeli peace movement whose members have developed accords for a two state solution with their Palestinian and American counterparts. .. a real Washington peace show for the security of the American, Palestinian, and Israeli people.
  • stand up to business interests that have backed changes to our civil justice system that restrict or close the courtroom to wrongfully injured and cheated individuals, but not to corporations. ...campaign against fraud and injury upon innocent patients, consumers, and workers?
Voters should visit the webpages of the major party candidates. ... email or send a letter to any or all the candidates and ask them why they are avoiding these issues.

Breaking the taboos won’t start with the candidates. Maybe it can start with the voters.

...BECAUSE THE "BOGOTA TERRORIST" WAS BOMBING THE HELL OUT OF THEM, THAT'S WHY.

Alvaro Uribe and his financial backers
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Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (L) and former U.S. president Bill Clinton wave during a meeting in Bogota June 22, 2005. Clinton is in Colombia to participate in 'Expogestion', a seminar for Colombian businessmen. Photo by Daniel Munoz

**President Hugo Chávez stands with Consuelo González de Perdomo, far left, and Clara Rojas, right of him, behind an official. Howard Yanes/Associated Press

Justin Delacour in his Latin American News Review posts an inconvenient truth from the Argentine daily Pagina 12 because Simon Romero, the "reporter" covering Latin America for the NYT cannot be relied on for anything more than propaganda.

The story is about the first failed Colombian hostage release. One of the released hostages, Consuelo Gonzalez, says that the reason she and Clara Rojas were not released before the New Year, as arranged, was that they were under heavy attack, including bombardment, from the Colombian armed forces. This is also what the FARC, Colombian Senator Piedad de Cordoba, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed at the time.

Justin Delacour translates the key passage from Página 12 here

POSEUR



Extraordinarily well posed candidate



Yes. The Obamania is sound and fury signifying nothing. And the clearest sign of the fact is that the usual bromides about "color blindness" and "change" are being floated by the media.

The bottom line is that until such time as the "democratic" party is willing to defend the rights of their constituency- and to speak openly about not one, but two elections that the ruling class has now robbed the U.S. electorate of- they are completely unworthy of trust. They said nothing about the disenfranchisement of Blacks in Florida in 2000, they've said nothing about the accumulation of evidence of computer fraud in Ohio in 2004. They are afraid to take on the "presidency" of a man whose obvious gangsterism puts decent people to shame. And Barak Obama is a big, kool-aid grinning phoney who is just playing the Jimmy Carter ticket over again, replete with all Carter's flaws but none of his virtues.

Incidentally, what has "Brother" Obama had to say about the disenfranchisement of Blacks in Florida in 2000? Nothing. Zip. Oh, yeah, the U.S. is now "color-blind" and embracing "change".

It ought to be obvious to all that nothing would benefit the U.S. oligarchy more than having house slaves out defending the aims of the empire. Colin Powell and Condalezza Rice are the clearest evidence of that fact. Black folks who still buy into this bullshit, out of some desperate hunger to see a Black face leading this parade of chiselers need to grow up. Period.

Posted by Michael Hureaux | January 5, 2008 7:31 PM
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Deconstruct the Democratic Party here

THE CLINTONS: IN SEARCH OF A NARRATIVE - A WORKING DRAFT





The Clintons were elected to put the Democratic Leadership Council in control of the party. The DLC is a the right-wing lobby within the Democratic Party that was founded in 1985 to adapt the party’s policies to the “free market” and pro-corporate voodoo economics and quackery of the Reagan administration and repudiate any connection to or program arising out of the social reform policies dating back to Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

They finished off what was left of the Democratic Party.

The welfare reform bill that left thousands of women black, white, yellow and brown destitute. Clinton supported and signed welfare legislation that shredded the federal safety net for the poor from which he personally had benefited."

Their administration saw a high rate of black incarceration as a result of Draconian drug laws that occurred during his regime.

And interrupting his campaign to get a mentally disabled black man, Ricky Ray Rector executed.


The "neoliberalization" and "asset stripping" of Russia with Yeltsin, the same with Pakistan with Bhutto, the Rwanda project put into play to lead to the war and economic theft of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first trade agreement with several to follow with the NAFTA/Salinas project that sent thousands of jobs out of the country , the destruction and neoliberalization of Yugoslavia, the continued "quiet" destruction of Iraq with more Iraqis dead than the Bush years, a quantum leap in the militarization of Colombia with Plan Columbia's support for the death squads and the introduction of paramilitary forces of DynCorp.

Somalia

Haiti

deepening intervention in Somalia, invading Haiti, bombing Bosnia, and finally going to war over Kosovo.

The crucial and obvious difference is this: Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo were humanitarian ventures--fights for right and good,

It would also include the perfecting of "asset stripping" of US corporations, the rise of "financial capitalism" and the wholesale removal of the US industrial base to China.

The list goes on.

And now there is ample evidence to support the claim that they "diebolded" the New Hampshire primary.

When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he appointed neoconservative Democrat James Woolsey to head the CIA. Then, in a gesture of bipartisanship, the new President pulled the plug on ongoing investigations of Reagan-Bush-era wrongdoing regarding secret arms deals with Iran and Iraq.


Deconstruct the Democratic Party here

Analysts note that the idea of NATO expansion has its roots in Bill Clinton’s administration, which reversed the first Bush administration’s policy of treating Moscow with caution. President Clinton moved quickly to expand the alliance eastward into areas that Russia had long considered its sphere of influence.

In January 1994, Clinton announced it was no longer a question of if NATO would expand but when. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland all became NATO members in March 1999,

Obama will have to confront Alvaro Uribe and determine any meaningful change to Plan Colombia - a Pentagon "war on terror" gambit disguised as a failed, Bill Clinton-born anti-drug program.

Monday, January 14, 2008

THE FAILED STATE HUSSLE


It's a common US strategy with covert intelligence support,

Washington's scheme is "to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation."

From it, a new political leadership will emerge that will be "compliant," have "no commitment to (Pakistan's) national interest," and will be subservient to "US imperial interests, while concurrently....weakening....the central government (and fracturing) Pakistan's fragile federal structure."

It includes "balkanizing" the country Yugoslavia-style the way it's planned for Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran - a simple divide and conquer strategy.

Pakistani military and intelligence (that worked up to now) has been scrapped in favor of political breakup and balkanization." The scheme is to foment "social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup" of the country.

"expand the authority of the CIA and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan" against Al-Queda and the Taliban to counteract their efforts and "destabilize the Pakistani government."

US strategy aims to trigger "ethnic and religious strife," abet and finance "secessionist movements while also weakening" Musharraf's government. "The broader objective is to fracture the Nation State....redraw the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan"

It may as internal secessionist elements are strong, especially in energy rich (mostly gas) Balochistan province, and "indications" are they're supported by "Britain and the US." The idea is a "Greater Balochistan" by integrating Baloch areas with those in Iran and southern Afghanistan.

the 2005 National Intelligence Council-CIA report predicted a 'Yugoslav-like fate' for Pakistan" through internally and externally manufactured "economic mismanagment."

US Special and other forces already operate in Pakistan, and head of US Special Operations Command, Admiral Eric Olson, "US Hopes to Use Pakistani Tribes Against Al Queda" in the country's "frontier areas."

US Central Command Commander Admiral William Fallon ... saying we're ready to provide "training, assistance and mentoring based on our experience with insurgencies," but he left out the bribing part that's part of these deals.

"Bhutto Killing Roils Province, Spurring Calls to Quit Pakistan" and calls Bhutto's native Sindh province (second largest of Pakistan's four provinces) the "Latest Fault Line In a Fractured Country; Like Occupied Territory."

Mourners filed past Bhutto's grave chanting "We don't want Pakistan," and in the wake of her death "Sindh has been swept by nationalist rage." Many in the province are "calling for outright independence," and support for separation has grown among rank and file PPP members. There's even talk of an "armed insurgency" as anger is directed against neighboring Punjab, the largest province, and home of the military, ISI and government.

what's happening in Sindh is already in play in the Northwest Frontier province where central government authority withered in recent years.

THE "NON-VIOLENT" REGIME CHANGE HUSSLE


The tragedy of Burma, whose land area is about the size of George W. Bush's Texas, is that its population is being used as a human stage prop in a drama which has been scripted in Washington by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the George Soros Open Society Institute, Freedom House and Gene Sharp's Albert Einstein Institution, a US intelligence asset used to spark “non-violent” regime change around the world on behalf of the US strategic agenda.

Burma's “Saffron Revolution,” like the Ukraine “Orange Revolution” or the Georgia “Rose Revolution” and the various Color Revolutions instigated in recent years against strategic states surrounding Russia, is a well-orchestrated exercise in Washington-run regime change, down to the details of “hit-and-run” protests with “swarming” mobs of Buddhists in saffron, internet blogs, mobile SMS links between protest groups, well-organized protest cells which disperse and reform. CNN made the blunder during a September broadcast of mentioning the active presence of the NED behind the protests in Myanmar .

In fact the US State Department admits to supporting the activities of the NED in Myanmar . The NED is a US Government-funded “private” entity whose activities are designed to support US foreign policy objectives, doing today what the CIA did during the Cold War. As well the NED funds Soros' Open Society Institute in fostering regime change in Myanmar . In an October 30 2003 Press Release the State Department admitted, “The United States also supports organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute and Internews, working inside and outside the region on a broad range of democracy promotion activities.” It all sounds very self-effacing and noble of the State Department. Is it though?

In reality the US State Department has recruited and trained key opposition leaders from numerous anti-government organizations. It has poured the relatively huge sum (for Myanmar ) of more than $2.5 million annually into NED activities in promoting regime change in Myanmar since at least 2003. The US regime change, its Saffron Revolution, is being largely run according to informed reports, out of the US Consulate General in bordering Chaing Mai , Thailand . There activists are recruited and trained, in some cases directly in the USA , before being sent back to organize inside Myanmar . The USA 's NED admits to funding key opposition media including the New Era Journal , Irrawaddy and the Democratic Voice of Burma radio.

The concert-master of the tactics of Saffron monk-led non-violence regime change is Gene Sharp, founder of the deceptively-named Albert Einstein Institution in Cambridge Massachusetts , a group funded by an arm of the NED to foster US-friendly regime change in key spots around the world. Sharp's institute has been active in Burma since 1989, just after the regime massacred some 3000 protestors to silence the opposition. CIA special operative and former US Military Attache in Rangoon, Col. Robert Helvey, an expert in clandestine operations, introduced Sharp to Burma in 1989 to train the opposition there in non-violent strategy. Interestingly, Sharp was also in China two weeks before the dramatic events at Tiananmen Square .

THE CHALLENGE OF HOPE

(just what in the hell does that mean?)
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Rhetoric that soars and takes flight, but alights nowhere.
It declares that together we can do anything, but doesn’t mention any of the things we can do



Obama
  • ‘Something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it’
Clinton
  • ‘I intend to be the President who puts your futures first’
  • You want this election to be about you.’
  • ‘I believe in what we can do together’

Mike Huckabee said:
  • ‘This election is not about me, it’s about we’

John McCain’s pledge
  • ‘make in our time another, better world than the one we inherited’

Sunday, January 13, 2008

NWFP & FATA



Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat

From Long War Journal

Friday, January 11, 2008

SO THE NEOCONS *DID* INVADE IRAQ TO SECURE ISRAEL?


This just in from the Jerusalem Post

During a short verbal exchange Wednesday at the Ben-Gurion Airport Terminal, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger thanked President George W. Bush for the US's military intervention in Iraq.

"I want to thank you for your support of Israel and in particular for waging a war against Iraq," Metzger told Bush, according to the chief rabbi's spokesman.

Bush reportedly answered that the chief rabbi's words "warmed his heart."

In a related story, Metzger was chosen as one of the 12 most influential religious figures in the world for a CBS documentary called In God's Name that appeared at the end of December.

Newsweek also devoted a story to the documentary complete with pictures of Metzger and the other religious leaders.

Metzger was chosen along with figures such as the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams and heads of the Sikh and Muslim religions.

WHO IS RUNNING NEW YORK MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG


On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, a group of prominent Democrats and Republicans held a forum at the University of Oklahoma to press the demand for “unity” and bipartisanship.

Democrats:
  • David Boren (now president of the university)
  • Sam Nunn
  • Bob Graham of Florida,
  • Charles Robb of Virginia and
  • Gary Hart of Colorado.
Republicans in attendance included former senators
  • Bill Brock of Tennessee,
  • William Cohen of Maine and
  • John Danforth of Missouri, and retiring
  • Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Most of the Democrats have been associated with the Democratic Leadership Council, the right-wing lobby within the Democratic Party that was founded in 1985 to adapt the party’s policies to the “free market” and pro-corporate nostrums of the Reagan administration and definitively repudiate any connection to the social reform policies dating back to Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

The star of the Oklahoma event was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Democrat-turned-Republican who left the Republican Party last spring and declared himself an independent. Bloomberg, whose personal fortune is estimated at $11 billion, has been toying with the idea of running as an independent candidate for president.

The conference issued a statement calling on the Democratic and Republican candidates to embrace bipartisanship and pledge to establish a “government of national unity” with cabinet members from both parties. Many participants held up the threat of running an independent ticket, headed up by Bloomberg, should the two parties fail to heed their advice.

It would be used, , as a political lever to shift the direction of the campaigns of the two major parties and ultimately tip the balance in favor of one or the other party.

The Democratic 110th Congress is a testament to the fundamental unity of the two parties on all issues—
  • war,
  • the further enrichment of the financial aristocracy,
  • the assault on democratic rights
—that are critical to the American ruling elite.

The concentration of wealth has reached unprecedented levels, with the top 1 percent of families owning 40 percent of the nation’s net worth. And the economic disparities continue to grow.

A call for the unity of the corporate elite against the working class. The billionaire Bloomberg is possessed of the wealth required to launch a 50-state independent campaign, at a cost estimated at $500 million to $1 billion, Bloomberg’s message to both parties is: Don’t stray too far from the consensus positions of the financial oligarchy, or I can single-handedly upset all your electoral calculations.

Neither Obama or Clinton has any answer to the social crisis affecting ever wider layers of the population, and both defend the use of military force to secure the global interests of the US corporate-financial elite. The Democratic Party is an instrument of the financial elite that monopolizes the wealth and dominates the political life of the country.

Leading lights of the Republican right have joined in the praise for Obama. The editorialists of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times’ Republican columnist David Brooks and such conservative media pundits as Peggy Noonan, William Bennett and Rush Limbaugh have all had good things to say about him.

The promotion of Obama is motivated in part by calculations that he will be easier to defeat in the general election than Clinton.

There is a common thread in the efforts of the media to promote Obama’s call for bipartisanship and the intervention of Boren, Bloomberg and company.

In the 2008 elections, the politically explosive question of an unpopular war has been joined by a deepening economic crisis that is fueling growing anxiety over jobs, prices and living standards. With
  • unemployment sharply rising,
  • food and gasoline prices soaring and
  • home foreclosures at a record high and expected to hit another 2 million households over the next year,
the ruling elite fears that a sharply contested and protracted election process could become a focus for rising social discontent. It wants, in the name of “unity,” to suppress any real discussion of the social crisis.

the American oligarchy is seeking to lay down the law—to delegitimize any critique of the establishment political consensus behind militarism and imperialism, and proscribe any challenge to the ever-greater concentration of wealth at the very top of American society.

It is an effort to discipline the political squabbling within the US ruling elite in order to face a far greater danger: an eruption of social conflict produced by the increasingly desperate conditions facing the vast majority of the American people.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

THE CORPORATE MEDIA


MATTHEWS: Tom, we're going to have to go back and figure out the methodology, I think, on some of these [polls].

BROKAW: You know what I think we're going to have to do?

MATTHEWS: Yes sir?

BROKAW: Wait for the voters to make their judgment.

...does not and cannot even occur to Chris Matthews. That -- the most elementary nuts and bolts of standard, healthy journalism -- is way, way beyond the scope of what our media stars are able to do or want to do.


Petty personality-based gossip and speculative, worthless chatter is all they know. Drudge, after all, rules their world. He's their Walter Cronkite. And they wallow exclusively in the Matt Drudge currency, what two of their most revered members -- Mark Halperin and John Harris -- described as their fixation with the "attacked-based, personality-obsessed politics" pioneered by their Ruler.

Are Gloria Borger and Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman and Wolf Blitzer suddenly going to abandon their desire to impose shallow, melodramatic narratives on our elections and spend their time, instead, analyzing the candidates' responses to:
  • Charlie Savage's questionnaire on presidential power, or
  • the dominant, corrosive role lobbyists and large corporations play in our political culture, or
  • the widening rich-poor gap, or
  • the strain and stain on our country from our imperial policies?

The question is so absurd, so laughable, that to ask it is to answer it. None of them could remotely do that even if they wanted to, even if they were allowed to, and they don't and aren't.

Our entire media edifice is structured to operate the Drudgian Freak Show and its stars are the ringleaders, chosen for their affinity for it. In that sense, Matthews really is right and Brokaw absurdly wrong, almost delusional.

If our media stars ceased spewing the type of worthless (though destructive) chatter that (when directed at Hillary Clinton) has been more apparent in the last week than it has been for a long time, they'd be left with nothing to do. As Matthews says, if they didn't do that, they might as well stay home. It's who they are.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

PAKISTAN HISTORY - PART II

See Part I here

Benazir's father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan's People's Party (PPP) was deposed in a military coup d'Etat on July 5, 1977, which spearheaded Pakistan into a process of virtually uninterrupted military rule. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was subsequently executed, in a judicial assassination, on the orders of the US sponsored military junta.

Under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a secular postcolonial government had developed. Economic nationalism was promoted. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government, which had the support of a large majority of the electorate, was committed to a broad program of economic, social an institutional reforms.

From his early days as foreign minister in the 1960s, Bhutto had called for an independent and non-aligned foreign policy, free of US encroachment as well as the closing down of US military bases. In the course of the 1970s, a nationalization program of key industries under the PPP government was carried out, which undermined the interests of multinational capital.

In the Aftermath of the 1977 Military Coup

Following the 1977 military coup, the structures of democratic government were dismantled. The Constitution was abolished and martial law was established under the rule of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who became President in 1978.

The postcolonial political process had been reversed. At the outset of the Zia-ul-Haq regime, the populist PPP nationalization and agrarian reforms of the Bhutto era were reversed and undone.

In turn, the new military rulers sought, with Washington's support, to undermine the secular structures of the Pakistani State.

Islamism became embedded in the functioning of the State under military rule. The tenets of "Islamic fundamentalism" sponsored by US intelligence were adopted by the military dictatorship of General Zia, with a view to undermining the structures of civilian government and the Rule of Law.

In 1980, the Parliament was replaced by a bogus consultative assembly, the Majlis-e-Shoora composed of scholars and professionals, all of whom were appointed by President Zia. A reign of terror marked by arbitrary arrests and imprisonment was installed in the name of Islam.

State violence under military rule supported the concurrent implementation of "free market" reforms under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank. IMF sponsored macro-economic reforms contributed to destroying the fabric of Pakistan's economy. The external debt spiraled. Poverty became rampant. The commercial banking system was largely taken over by Western financial institutions.

Since 1977, a military dictatorship has largely prevailed. The short-lived democratically elected governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif did not, in a meaningful way, break the continuity of authoritarian military rule. Both Sharif and Bhutto served US interests and accepted the economic diktats of the IMF

The 1977 military coup in Pakistan, leading to the demise of the PPP government of Ali Bhutto, was a precondition for the launching of the CIA's covert war in Afghanistan.

In April 1978, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), seized power in Afghanistan in a popular insurrection directed against the dictatorship of President Mohammed Daud Khan. The PDPA government instigated a land reform program, expanded education and health programs and actively supported women's rights. Afghanistan's relationship with the Soviet Union was also strengthened.

"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention." (Former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Interview with Nouvel Observateur, 15-21 January 1998)

SCHISM IN THE ELITES

NEO CONSERVATIVES

Since at least August there has been a fairly open schism in the elites who run American foreign policy. Recent reports of near hostilities in the Strait of Hormuz between the US Navy and Iran reflects a desperate attempt by one elite camp to precipitate war. That camp, whose leading faces are Cheney and Bush, have fought rear-guard actions since the B-52 flight from Minot the Louisiana was exposed. The NIE report marks another milestone. This camp favors China's ascendancy.

Candidates for this group in descending order of preference are: Guiliani, Clinton, Bloomberg, McCain, Thompson,

REALISTS/INTERNATIONALIST

The other elite camp wants war and chaos on the periphery of Eurasia, to check Russia and China, and to enrich financial and military-industrial interests during this struggle, without completely exhausting the patience or ability of the American
people to accept continuous war. Their champion, Z. Brzenski, had held to this goal for over 30 years, going back to his days in the Carter Administration.

Candidates for this group in descending order are: Obama, Edwards, Romney

OUTSIDERS

Hucklebee, Ron Paul

Sunday, January 06, 2008

"WHY DONT THEY ATTACK CANADA, WHY DONT THEY ATTACK SWITZERLAND?"


But Giuliani saved his most forceful comments for religious extremism in the Muslim world. "They've perverted their religion into a hatred of us," he said. "Our foreign policy is irrelevant, totally irrelevant, if you read what they write if you bother to listen to what they say, this comes out of their own perverted thinking."

Taking up his repeated role as a thorn in Giuliani's side, Rep. Ron Paul took great umbrage with the former New York City mayor's assertion. "Why do they not attack Canada," he asked, "why don't they attack Switzerland?"

HUCKLEBEE HAS NO FOREIGN POLICY ESTABLISHMENT ADVISORS



The first thing about Hucklebee is that he came in fourth in Iowa overall.

Regarding his connection to the foreign policy community, Hucklebee claims to have spoken to John Bolton on one occasion and to Richard Allen on another. Both men quickly and unequivocally deny ever speaking to him.

Hucklebee appears to be a true outsider.

Compare Hucklebee's lack of policy elite connection to those of the candidates below.



Mike Hucklebee
none

Rudolph Giuliani’s advisers include
Norman Podhoretz, Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer, Stephen Rosen, Peter Berkowitz Ex-Senator Robert Kasten, .

John McCain’s list of official and formal policy advisers includes
Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, William Kristol James Woolsey. Alexander Haig, Max Boot, Bud McFarlane Brent Scowcroft,

Mitt Romney’s top advisers is
Cofer Black, Mark Falcoff and Roger Noriega, Dan Senor,

Fred Thompson.
Elizabeth Cheny

FIRST TRIP EVER


Bush, leaves January 8

The US president is making his first trip in office to Israel and his first ever trip to the West Bank

Saturday, January 05, 2008

THE NEW ORIENTALISM


Iranian literature specialist Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz (Washington University in St. Louis) has classified 'The Kite Runner' as one of the recent works that she argues constitute a “New Orientalist” narrative in her book 'Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran'. (Dr. Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University also has written about New Orientalism and expatriates who serve as “native informers” or “comprador intellectuals” in respect to the Middle East).




Keshavarz broadly characterizes the New Orientalist works thusly:
Thematically, they stay focused on the public phobia [of Islam and the Islamic world]: blind faith and cruelty, political underdevelopment, and women’s social and sexual repression. They provide a mix of fear and intrigue-the basis for a blank check for the use of force in the region and Western self-affirmation. Perhaps not all the authors intend to sound the trumpet of war. But the divided, black-and-white world they hold before the reader leaves little room for anything other than surrender to the inevitability of conflict between the West and the Middle East.


demonization of the Muslim world and glorification of the Western world-what Keshavarz terms the “Islamization of Evil” and the “Westernization of Goodness”




...functions as an allegorized version of the colonial/neo-colonial/imperial imperative of “intervening” in “dark” countries in order to save the sub-human Others who would be otherwise simply lost in their own ignorance and brutality. .. purely self-sacrificial expressions of the superiority of the imperial peoples’ humanity and ideology.




other New Orientalist works on the Islamic Middle East, such as

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner
Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran,
Asne Seierstad’s The Bookseller of Kabul,
Geraldine Brooks’ Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women,
Bernard Lewis’ What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response.


Keshavarz, Fatemeh. Interview. Jasmine and Stars: New Orientalist Narratives. ZNet. 2007 <http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13448>.

Dabashi, Hamid. “Native Informers and the Making of the New American Empire.” Al-Ahram Weekly 1 June 2007. <http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2006/797/special.htm>.

Dabashi, Hamid. Interview. Lolita and Beyond . ZNet. 2007. <http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=10707>

ADVISORS TO THE CANDIDATES

...no difference on the basic principle of, are you against the killing of civilians and are you willing to enforce the murder laws. If we were willing to enforce the murder laws, the headquarters of each of these candidates could be raided, and various advisers and many candidates could be hauled away by the cops, because they have backed various actions that, under established principles like the Nuremberg Principles, like the principles set up in the Rwanda tribunals, the Bosnia tribunals, things that are unacceptable, like aggressive war, like the killing of civilians for political purposes. So, in a basic sense, there is no choice.

Advisers to Hillary Rodham Clinton include many former top officials in President Clinton’s administration:


former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, she was the main force behind the Iraq sanctions that killed more than 400,000 Iraqi civilians

former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger,

former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. in the Carter administration he was the one who oversaw the shipment of weapons to the Indonesian military as they were invading—illegally invading East Timor and killing a third of the population there, and he was the one who kept the UN Security Council from enforcing its resolution against that invasion.

General Wesley Clark, he was the one who ran the bombing of Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, came out and publicly said that he was going after civilian targets, like electrical plants, like the TV station there.

Strobe Talbott, he was the one who, during the Clinton administration, oversaw Russia policy, a backing of Yeltsin, which resulted in turning over the national wealth to the oligarchs and a drop in life expectancy in much of Russia of about fifteen years—massive, massive death.

General Jack Keane, Michael O’Hanlon and others. various backers of the Iraq invasion and occupation and the recent escalation


Senator Barack Obama’s list includes

President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, created the whole Afghan jihadi movement, the movement that produced Osama bin Laden.

Anthony Lake, he was the main force behind the US invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years during which they brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster in Haiti.

former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke,

former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross. advised Clinton and both Bushes. He oversaw US policy toward Israel/Palestine. He pushed the principle that the legal rights of the Palestinians, the rights recognized under international law, must be subordinated to the needs of the Israeli government—in other words, their desires, their desires to expand to do whatever they want in the Occupied Territories. And Ross was one of the people who, interestingly, led the political assault on former Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Carter, no peacenik—I mean, Carter is the one who bears ultimate responsibility for that Timor terror that Holbrooke was involved in. But Ross led an assault on him, because, regarding Palestine, Carter was so bold as to agree with Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa that what Israel was doing in the Occupied Territories was tantamount to apartheid. And so, Ross was one of those who fiercely attacked him.

Sarah Sewall, who heads a human rights center at Harvard and is a former Defense official, she wrote the introduction to General Petraeus’s Marine Corps/Army counterinsurgency handbook, the handbook that is now being used worldwide by US troops in various killing operations. That’s the Obama team.General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre in East Timor in ’91 that you and I survived, he was—I happened to see on Indonesian TV shortly after that—there was General McPeak overseeing the delivery to Indonesia of US fighter planes.Rudolph Giuliani’s advisers include Norman Podhoretz, one of the fathers of the neoconservative movement.

Senator John Edwards is a little different. The list of his foreign advisers is not as complete, so it’s not as clear exactly where they may be coming from, but it’s interesting. Last night on TV, one of the top Edwards advisers, “Mudcat” Saunders, was complaining about the fact that there are 35,000 lobbyists in Washington. And it appears, from the Edwards list, that many of the military lobbyists are working on the Edwards foreign policy team, because the names that—the Edwards names that are out there mainly come from the Army and the Air Force and the Navy Material Command. Those are the portions of the Pentagon that do the Defense contracts, that do the deals with the big companies like Raytheon and Boeing, etc. One of those listed on the Edwards team is the lobbyist for the big military contractor EADS. So, although Edwards talks about going after lobbyists, if he tries to go after the military lobbyists, he may get a little blowback from his own advisers.

Rudolph Giuliani’s advisers include

Norman Podhoretz, one of the fathers of the neoconservative movement.

Daniel Pipes, who—and I don’t remember if you had mentioned, but—has been leading the charge against “Islamofascism” on college campuses, has put out his Campus Watch, in terms of going after professors that he deems are not pro-Israel enough.

Martin Kramer, Stephen Rosen, Peter Berkowitz of the Hoover Institution. He has basically a small galaxy of neoconservatives from familiar think tanks as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Hoover, the Hudson.

Ex-Senator Robert Kasten, an old major backer of the Pakistani military dictatorships and the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, he’s another key Giuliani adviser.

John McCain’s list of official and formal policy advisers includes

former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger,

General Colin Powell,

William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and

former CIA Director James Woolsey. One of

General Alexander Haig, who oversaw the US policy of mass terror killings of civilians in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, when American nuns and religious workers were abducted, raped and murdered by the Salvadoran National Guard. General Haig said those nuns died in an exchange of gunfire, the pistol-packing nuns.

Max Boot, who now points to El Salvador, where 70,000 civilians were killed by American-backed death squads, as a model counterinsurgency, a model for what the US should be doing today.

Bud McFarlane from the Reagan administration, who was a key backer of the Contras.

Brent Scowcroft, who these days is popular with some liberals because he opposes—he opposed the Iraq invasion, who is a leader of the realist school—the realist school basically says, yes, kill civilians, but make sure you win the war. went to China right after the Tiananmen Square massacre and reassured the Chinese leadership, “Don’t worry about it, we’re still behind you.”

Mitt Romney’s top advisers is

Cofer Black, the former CIA official who now serves as vice chair of Blackwater Worldwide. a longtime CIA operative who was one of the key people behind the invasion of Afghanistan. During the course of that, according to Bob Woodward, he went in and said, “We’re going to go into Afghanistan. We’re going to cut their heads off.” He’s the one who organized Detachment 88 in Indonesia just recently, the supposed antiterrorist outfit that recently went after a Papuan human rights lawyer

Mark Falcoff and Roger Noriega, Two key figures in backing the old US policy in Central America, are also on the Romney team. And

Dan Senor, who viewers probably remember as the voice of the early invasion and occupation of Iraq, he’s one of the Romney guys. Now, as you mentioned—

Fred Thompson.

Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth is advising


Allan Nairn, Independent journalist. Runs the web-blog “News and Comment.” http://newsc.blogspot.com

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Freelance journalist in Washington. Her article on presidential advisers titled “War Whisperers” appeared in the American Conservative.

Friday, January 04, 2008

THE CLINTONS


With Madelyn "let a million iraqi children die" Albright, Gen. Wesley "the butcher of Belgrade" Clark, and Antonio "looks like I bet on the wrong horse" Villaraigosa in the background.


There is the audacity of hope that the Democratic Party might, after all it's suffered in recent years, has the good sense NOT to nominate another mealy-mouthed "moderate" who will "triangulate" against the grassroots base of the party. The simple fact is that President Bill Clinton left the Democratic Party in far worse shape when he left the White House than it had been in when he entered. Hillary Clinton promises more of the Rahm Emanuel-type betrayal of the progressive wing of the party. She is the Establishment's choice and she will betray progressives on behalf of Wall Street just as her husband did in the 1990s. We are light years past that being a desirable outcome for our nation today.

The Dems are halfway home. Now if they will just dump number 2 corporate shill and pick up John Edwards...

More here

Exit polls in November 2006 showed that these voters (and a majority of Democratic voters) were looking for Democrats to stand up forcefully for the Constitution, and to put an end to the Iraq War.

They were double-crossed. The Democratic Congressional leadership, under the Clintonesque direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have done none of those things, choosing instead to simply pretend to be an opposition, while actually doing nothing on either front.

It's an approach that Hillary Clinton clearly would continue to follow if she were somehow to manage to get herself elected to the presidency: a fawning obeisance to the wishes of corporate America and Wall Street, continued foreign wars and occupations, continued "tough talk" on crime with little or no effort to attack its causes (poverty, drugs, racism and hopelessness).

HERMES SCARF

The modern Hermès scarf measures 90cm square, weighs 65 grams and is woven from the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons. The per-pound cost of a scarf today is approximately $1,965.00 (compared to a pound of steel at $0.19).

All Hermès scarves are hand-printed using multiple silk screens (43 is the highest number of screens used for one scarf to date, the charity scarf released in 2006, one for each color on the scarf) and the hems are all hand-stitched. Two scarf collections per year are released, along with re-prints of older designs and limited editions. Since 1937, Hermès has produced over 2,500 designs.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

THE NEW ATHEISTS


...the leading British feminist theologian, Tina Beattie, argues that the threat of religious fanaticism is mirrored by a no less virulent and ignorant secular fanaticism which has taken hold of the intellectual classes in Britain and America.

Its High Priest is Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, but its disciples and acolytes include well-known public figures such as philosophers Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and A C Grayling, journalists Christopher Hitchens and Polly Toynbee, and novelists Martin Amis and Ian McEwan.

AITZAZ AHSAN AND THE PAKISTAN LAWYER'S MOVEMENT



Tariq Ali says,

Some of us had hoped that, with her death, the People's Party might start a new chapter. After all, one of its main leaders, Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Bar Association, played a heroic role in the popular movement against the dismissal of the chief justice. Mr Ahsan was arrested during the emergency and kept in solitary confinement. He is still under house arrest in Lahore. Had Benazir been capable of thinking beyond family and faction she should have appointed him chairperson pending elections within the party. No such luck.

Ahmed Quraishi says,

..."color revolutions" where Western governments covertly used money, private media, student unions, NGOs and international pressure to stage coups, basically overthrowing individuals not fitting well with Washington's agenda.

All this groundwork completed and chips were in place when the judicial crisis broke out in March. Even Pakistani politicians were surprised at a well-greased and well-organized lawyers' campaign, complete with flyers, rented cars and buses, excellent event-management and media outreach.