Friday, July 04, 2008


  • Anti-integrationist
  • Opposed Martin Luther King day
  • Name is on the Helms-Burton act, the centerpiece of the embargo against Cuba
  • against ALL Affirmative Action programs
  • voted to bail out the savings and loan industry AND to slash school lunches for impoverished children, medical care for disabled veterans, prescription drugs for the elderly, and wages for working families
  • absolutely hated all gay people
  • supported apartheid in South Africa
  • From a Mother Jones article
    a staunch ally of right-wing military rulers like Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Raoul Cedras in Haiti, and Roberto D'Aubuisson in El Salvador. Confronted with evidence that D'Aubuisson directed death squads to murder civilians, Helms made it clear that some things are more important than human life. "All I know," he replied, "is that D'Aubuisson is a free enterprise man and deeply religious."
  • Routinely fought against AIDS research from the beginning, blaming people suffering from the disease for it.
  • In 1993, sang Dixie to the first african american senator, Carol Mosely-Braun, and promised to make her "cry."
  • Hell burns hotter tonight!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. So good. The book that goes along with it, from what I read, is as good as you'd expect.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Like Powell at the U.N., Bush trots out another general puppet

Petraeus is Bush. Say it again and again, if you have to. The puppet might as well have Bush's hand sticking in his back for all the independence he has. Bush's credibility is shot on the war and Petraeus is his proxy, a new untarnished voice, to repeat Bush's script. And every journalist and politician who, in turn, repeats Petraeus's findings is either a moron or someone in on the take. Petraeus is just another prop at the photo-op over the wreckage.
This can happen because the corporate media, for all it's self-deprecatory apologies for cheerleading us into this war (though always in past tense), continues to fight for the war. This is the liberals' grossest moment, from the New York Times and Jon Stewart on down, their champions tinker with rhetoric and pander to argument, but only push responsibility and tell us to believe it means more war. It all indicts the left, a left that doesn't even exist, because we're not smashing this whole machine apart.

This moment is truly depressing in so many ways. We have the republicans panting blood from eating children wholesale and the internal hemorrhaging of a party run by career criminals and simplest minds. Democratic politicians, the naked army they have always been (Obama, the great hope™, threatening more war on the rest of the world, Clinton the Corporate Lawyer shamelessly pandering knowing full well she will leap right if she gets the primary, etc), trying their best to play "republicaner."
And still no left.
Let's take stock. The liberals, represented by Kos and his ilk, who write a good game, but who are the indentured servants of the democratic party - no more independent than junkies - and smart enough to know that the Party is a collosal failure, yet still hooked to the gills. Then you have the institutional left, old C.P. fronts, who are still yoked to the throat with party line, infighting, and the verse-chorus-verse of New York Times Ad-March on Washington-Paper Sales. I actually love and care for this last group quite a bit, but the same old song and dance gets tired after awhile and it's frustrating that instead of fifteen little groups, we can't have one or two bigger groups getting to work.
Then there are the anarchists, who seem to be permanently arguing a propaganda of the deed that says "Anarchism isn't going to work." Like a list serv flame war that meets in person, it is the politics of a mob who happened to attend Sarah Lawrence. Some promise all the fun of hardcore Maoist cadres with none of the actual discipline and others who're just seeking riot porn to star in or videotape. But reacting against the anti-practice of the university marxists means an anti-theory of spontaneity navigated by the radicaler-than-thou only after it has been authorized by the purer-than-thou and vetted by the colorfully dressed unimaginative ones. A generation of kids who wore the clothes of the seventies growing up in the nineties reduced to reenacting the sixties and afraid of the future.
Every once in awhile, I catch a glimpse of the promise and the excitement rekindles, but I didn't today. These are depressing times and we need to get our act together.

Petraeus is bush and there is no left, repeat if you have to. We need to ignite a left and get rid of the the whole system that bush rides.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Before we get to the death of Lady Bird Johnson, let's examine the impending (metaphorical) death of another onerous loser: McCain's spectacular dreams, for higher power coming crashing to earth. It is remarkable that on the day his top aides quit and the crowds murmur that he's bleeding money out of a slipshod operation, he announces that his two campaigns, against the people of Iraq and towards his presidential aspirations, are going just dandy. While it is tempting to draw further parallels, we must be careful: his campaign for president is teetering on failure, but the venture in Iraq is a criminal enterprise. So while we're weakly rooting for someone better for president, our hearts and minds go out to the Iraqi people and we have no joy in celebrating the butchery McCain has designed and abetted for them.
This is important to point out because a lot of commentators, and liberals especially, buy into this claptrap about the war "not going well." A presidential campaign can go well or it cannot go well; this rape and murder of a nation can never "go well." Ever. So while we will get drunk on cake and celebrate when McCain eventually bows out (and we'll recall his simultaneous statements on his dual Titanics), it is important to be clear about where the parallels lie and where they just obfuscate the obvious truth.
Speaking of obfuscation, CNN should fire their puppet Sanjay Gupta*, who out-and-out lies repeatedly and clearly willfully, in his libeling of Michael Moore and his new film SiCKO. If the first clip of Moore being ambushed on Wolf Blitzer isn't enough to make your blood boil, Gupta's blatant disregard for the truth on the Larry King follow-up is fairly outrageous. Of course, firing Gupta doesn't solve the real problem: Fox News is as bad as CNN. Maybe people think it should read the other way around (i.e., CNN is as bad as Fox), but if they're equal, why split hairs? Fox gets hammered time and again, deservedly so, for its racist, sexist, war-mongering demagoguery. Yet CNN regularly features the racist salvos of Glenn Beck and the racist capitalist droolings of Lou Dobbs, just to mention the worst of the pack. Yet liberals who dis Fox cop to CNN as if it's better.
Obfuscation and propaganda didn't start with the cable news channels and it doesn't end with them, either. We can look no further than the gross obit of Lady Bird Johnson who just seems so sweet and charming after being written up in her New York Times obit. The Times has the temerity to suggest that, well let me just quote:
"She was an early supporter of the environment and, in championing highway beautification, worked to banish billboards and plant flowers and trees."
Lady Bird Johnson's husband held a bloody shift conducting one of the most criminal and evil chapters in the history of humans on this earth, the american war against the people of Indochina. I've never heard hide nor hair of her criticism of these crimes at all. In particular, LBJ personally authorized the use of Agent Orange, an anti-life herbicide that obliterated miles and miles of vegetation and killed millions of animals and people. Her steadfast resolve in defending and standing by the scum that was her husband is clear in the obit, but nowhere is pronounced her complicity and the blood on her hands for any of this. As we like to say around here, Hell Burns Hotter Tonight.

*Call 404-827-1500 and press #2 to tell them.

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Friday, June 15, 2007


Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham, died. Her obit in the Washington Post features this telling tidbit:
At a political rally in 1975, just as President Gerald Ford was about to speak, she got up from her seat, grabbed a war protester's sign, sat back down and slipped the sign under her white pumps. She told the media, "The man had every right to his opinion. But when the president of the United States is speaking, it is definitely not the place to express his opinion."

Roast, Ruth, roast.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A few notes

Bush's spokesperson, Tony Snow, has just announced that he has cancer and we are observing two responses. Liberals, perhaps a bit shocked on the response of Edwards staying in the presidential race after his wife's own cancer announcement, were quick to wish Snow, a fellow human being, well. The corporate media immediately tossed any petty issues to the side and have embraced him for his fight ahead.
Unfortunately, our response must be less kind and solipsistic. Tony Snow is the messenger dog of the empire using depleted uranium against the people of the world, Iraqi civilians and American soldiers included. It is said that new parents in Iraq are met with a new first question. No longer "Is it a boy or a girl?," but "is it normal?" The radiation across Iraq, from the current war and the previous ten years of constant bombardment, has poisoned everything and nowhere is it more apparent as in the deformities of a newborn. The chart above features the rate per 1,000 births of congenital malformations observed at Basra University Hospital, Iraq (reported by I. Al-Sadoon, et al., writing in the Medical Journal of Basrah University). The data for the period 1990-2001 show an incidence increase of 426% for general malignancies, 366% for leukemias and of over 600% for birth defects, with all series showing a roughly increasing pattern with time.
Currently, there are over five hundred news articles about Tony Snow in the latest news cycle. Where is the balance? Whose life is valued in this system? The same system that gloats over the murder of Saddam Hussein (who was gross in his own right and knowingly supported by the U.S. empire during his very worst crimes).

Saw The Wind That Shakes The Barley. Go see it. It is amazing.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Updated World Map

We uploaded the updated map on US Foreign policy, mostly because the coverage of Bush's trip to Brazil has been so embarrassing. Corporate media is essentially offering a big "huh?" on why virtually all of Latin America doesn't trust the United States government. You have these completely inane comments from Washington scum who are like "well, we just haven't properly presented what we have to offer." You'd think that after a century of of the US government funding, training, and organizing death squads and ultra-right wing dictatorships who "disappear" any critics just as fast as they welcome in the Walmart and nike sweatshops, that most Latin Americans would have a pretty good sense of what the Bush calls "free trade" and "democracyTM." I just picture these commentators laughing when they get off the phone like "geez, those idiots will believe whatever I feed them!" Anyway, check out the map.

We're going to keep updating this map, so if you have suggestions or want to copy-edit any of the countries, send us an email. We're going to keep doing this until we can "trick" someone who knows flash into teaching us how to make the map in flash. If you are that person or know that person, send us an email too.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Edward Bernays

Oy Vey! So, maybe we're overdoing it on the posting whole books, but we came across a doozy the other day and it is now up. We'll let the Noam introduce the author and the work:
[The] American business community was also very impressed with the propaganda effort. They had a problem at that time. The country was becoming formally more democratic. A lot more people were able to vote and that sort of thing. The country was becoming wealthier and more people could participate and a lot of new immigrants were coming in, and so on.
So what do you do? It's going to be harder to run things as a private club. Therefore, obviously, you have to control what people think. There had been public relation specialists but there was never a public relations industry. There was a guy hired to make Rockefeller's image look prettier and that sort of thing. But this huge public relations industry, which is a U.S. invention and a monstrous industry, came out of the first World War. The leading figures were people in the Creel Commission. In fact, the main one, Edward Bernays, comes right out of the Creel Commission. He has a book that came out right afterwards called Propaganda. The term "propaganda," incidentally, did not have negative connotations in those days. It was during the second World War that the term became taboo because it was connected with Germany, and all those bad things. But in this period, the term propaganda just meant information or something like that. So he wrote a book called Propaganda around 1925, and it starts off by saying he is applying the lessons of the first World War. The propaganda system of the first World War and this commission that he was part of showed, he says, it is possible to "regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies." These new techniques of regimentation of minds, he said, had to be used by the intelligent minorities in order to make sure that the slobs stay on the right course. We can do it now because we have these new techniques.
This is the main manual of the public relations industry. Bernays is kind of the guru. He was an authentic Roosevelt/Kennedy liberal. He also engineered the public relations effort behind the U.S.-backed coup which overthrew the democratic government of Guatemala.
His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn't smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield. You know all the techniques—models and movie stars with cigarettes coming out of their mouths and that kind of thing. He got enormous praise for that. So he became a leading figure of the industry, and his book was the real manual.

—Noam Chomsky

Propaganda (1928) by Edward Bernays
(Chomsky's intro is repeated with the article).

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton says that if people want to find someone who regrets their vote for Iraq, there are a lot of other candidates. We're two years out to the election and while we're quite critical of the entire election process, we still vote, and the watchword for Clinton for the next two years will not deviate: she told us to look elsewhere and even if we were never going to vote for her anyway, we can only advise all people against the war to not vote for her as well. Even if she wins the primary.

In better news, if you are in the nyc region this weekend, the grassroots media conference is happening. Be there or be square.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

9/11 fantasists pose a mortal danger to popular oppositional campaigns

Rarely do we print a full article on the blog. This was too good to pass us (and by too good, we mean to say that we agree with it one hundred percent):

9/11 fantasists pose a mortal danger to popular oppositional campaigns
These conspiracy idiots are a boon for Bush and Blair as they destroy the movements some of us have spent years building

George Monbiot
Tuesday February 20, 2007
The Guardian

'You did this hit piece because your corporate masters instructed you to. You are a controlled asset of the new world order ... bought and paid for." "Everyone has some skeleton in the cupboard. How else would MI5 and special branch recruit agents?" "Shill, traitor, sleeper", "leftwing gatekeeper", "accessory after the fact", "political whore of the biggest conspiracy of them all".

These are a few of the measured responses to my article, a fortnight ago, about the film Loose Change, which maintains that the United States government destroyed the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Having spent years building up my leftwing credibility on behalf of my paymasters in MI5, I've blown it. I overplayed my hand, and have been exposed, like Bush and Cheney, by a bunch of kids with laptops. My handlers are furious.

I believe that George Bush is surrounded by some of the most scheming, devious, ruthless men to have found their way into government since the days of the Borgias. I believe that they were criminally negligent in failing to respond to intelligence about a potential attack by al-Qaida, and that they have sought to disguise their incompetence by classifying crucial documents.

I believe, too, that the Bush government seized the opportunity provided by the attacks to pursue a longstanding plan to invade Iraq and reshape the Middle East, knowing full well that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Bush deliberately misled the American people about the links between 9/11 and Iraq and about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. He is responsible for the murder of many tens of thousands of Iraqis.

But none of this is sufficient. To qualify as a true opponent of the Bush regime, you must also now believe that it is capable of magic. It could blast the Pentagon with a cruise missile while persuading hundreds of onlookers that they saw a plane. It could wire every floor of the twin towers with explosives without attracting attention and prime the charges (though planes had ploughed through the middle of the sequence) to drop each tower in a perfectly timed collapse. It could make Flight 93 disappear into thin air, and somehow ensure that the relatives of the passengers collaborated with the deception. It could recruit tens of thousands of conspirators to participate in these great crimes and induce them all to have kept their mouths shut, for ever.

In other words, you must believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their pals are all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful, despite the fact that they were incapable of faking either weapons of mass destruction or any evidence at Ground Zero that Saddam Hussein was responsible. You must believe that the impression of cackhandedness and incompetence they have managed to project since taking office is a front. Otherwise you are a traitor and a spy.

Why do I bother with these morons? Because they are destroying the movements some of us have spent a long time trying to build. Those of us who believe that the crucial global issues - climate change, the Iraq war, nuclear proliferation, inequality - are insufficiently debated in parliament or congress, that corporate power stands too heavily on democracy, that war criminals, cheats and liars are not being held to account, have invested our efforts in movements outside the mainstream political process. These, we are now discovering, are peculiarly susceptible to this epidemic of gibberish.

The obvious corollorary to the belief that the Bush administration is all-powerful is that the rest of us are completely powerless. In fact it seems to me that the purpose of the "9/11 truth movement" is to be powerless. The omnipotence of the Bush regime is the coward's fantasy, an excuse for inaction used by those who don't have the stomach to engage in real political fights.

Let me give you an example. The column I wrote about Loose Change two weeks ago generated 777 posts on the Guardian Comment is Free website, which is almost a record. Most of them were furious. The response from a producer of the film, published last week, attracted 467. On the same day the Guardian published my article about a genuine, demonstrable conspiracy: a spy network feeding confidential information from an arms control campaign to Britain's biggest weapons manufacturer, BAE Systems. It drew 60 responses. The members of the 9/11 cult weren't interested. If they had been, they might have had to do something. The great virtue of a fake conspiracy is that it calls on you to do nothing.

The 9/11 conspiracy theories are a displacement activity. A displacement activity is something you do because you feel incapable of doing what you ought to do. A squirrel sees a larger squirrel stealing its horde of nuts. Instead of attacking its rival, it sinks its teeth into a tree and starts ripping it to pieces. Faced with the mountainous challenge of the real issues we must confront, the chickens in the "truth" movement focus instead on a fairytale, knowing that nothing they do or say will count, knowing that because the perpetrators don't exist, they can't fight back. They demonstrate their courage by repeatedly bayoneting a scarecrow.

Many of those who posted responses on Comment is Free contend that Loose Change (which was neatly demolished in the BBC's film The Conspiracy Files on Sunday night) is a poor representation of the conspiracists' case. They urge us instead to visit websites like, and, and to read articles by the theology professor David Ray Griffin and the physicist Steven E Jones.

Concerned that I might have missed something, I have now done all those things, and have come across exactly the same concatenation of ill-attested nonsense as I saw in Loose Change. In all these cases you will find wild supposition raised to the status of incontrovertible fact, rumour and confusion transformed into evidence, selective editing, the citation of fake experts, the dismissal of real ones. Doubtless I will now be told that these are not the true believers: I will need to dive into another vat of tripe to get to the heart of the conspiracy.

The 9/11 truthers remind me of nothing so much as the climate change deniers, cherry-picking their evidence, seizing any excuse for ignoring the arguments of their opponents. Witness the respondents to my Loose Change column who maintain that the magazine Popular Mechanics, which has ripped the demolition theories apart, is a government front. They know this because one of its editors, Benjamin Chertoff, is the brother/nephew/first cousin of the US homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff. (They are, as far as Benjamin can discover, unrelated, but what does he know?)

Like the millenarian fantasies which helped to destroy the Levellers as a political force in the mid-17th century, this crazy distraction presents a mortal danger to popular oppositional movements. If I were Bush or Blair, nothing would please me more than to see my opponents making idiots of themselves, while devoting their lives to chasing a phantom. But as a controlled asset of the new world order, I would say that, wouldn't I? It's all part of the plot.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Victor Jara

On the train yesterday, I was overcome with emotion reading Joan Jara's moving story of the first days of the coup in Chile, saying good-bye to her husband for the last time, and claiming his body at the morgue. Victor Jara, a popular folk singer in Chile and member of the “Nueva canción Chilena”(New Chilean Song) movement, was clearly a wonderful and courageous man and his widow's writing manages, despite the best efforts of the forces of evil, to bring him back to life.
The coup in Chile was the direct result of American intervention. The absolute horror of it is difficult to convey, but in her words, we can begin to understand the sheer wall of fear and evil. Kissinger should be in prison. Three chapters are now on History Is A Weapon. We encourage you to read them:
Three chapters from Victor: An Unfinished Song by Joan Jara

Charles Horman, an American journalist, was also among the thousand rounded up and executed after the coup. His parents went down afterwards to look for him and his father wrote an amazing book, Missing, that was later turned into a haunting film starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. If you get a chance to check either the book or the film, they're worth your time. I remember seeing the film when I was twelve or thirteen and reading the book soon after and just getting dazed. I'm always disturbed seeing Kissinger on shows like Jon Stewart.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007


If you're like a lot of political people on the internet, you skim the liberal blogs. There's a lot of them, some of them are actually well-written, and while the political analysis is often misses the mark, they can sometime surprise you with some sharp critique (usually before ruining it with their standby solution: simply vote and contribute to candidate X). And they hate them some Bush and that's always fun to read.
But like candy, there's always a price to pay for enjoying the sweetness. If I was a better writer, I'd extend this metaphor into something about a lack of teeth. I'm not a better writer. In the Bush-bashing case, it is a critique that focuses an entire system into a single man and then argues that a different single man would make everything better or at least get us headed back in the right direction. Except that Bush is simply a representative of a system and anyone else the system picks to represent it is simply a different face on the same body. In this case, the system is modern capitalism (and it's auxiliary cultural components of white supremacy and patriarchy). Changing the face is not enough: it's like giving a concentration camp a paint job. If that seems a bit strong, ask the Iraqis living under the gun.
So now the ugly ugly beast is waving its fangs over at Iran. Now, before I go any further, I don't think that the U.S. is going to invade Iran. I also know that there is dissent within the ruling class, personified in some instances by the Democratic Party, against the idea of invading Iran. This doesn't change our criticism one whit: first, the U.S. isn't going to invade Iran because the generals aren't morons. Iranian president Ahmadinejad can pretty much say to Bush's bullying "Yeah? You and what army?"
Besides that, the U.S. for all it's bluster doesn't invade countries that have a chance. Think back about the last two decades of U.S. invasions: Grenada and Panama. We used proxy armies to terrorize most of Latin America and I don't think they'd employ that strategy again in the middle east even if they could: remember Osama Bin Laden and his origins in Afghanistan. Yugoslavia and even the first Gulf war? Big coalitions. Not happening anytime soon on Iran. The U.S. is a rogue nation and a bully and, even if we're moving a bunch of big ships into the gulf, we all know that it's just bluster.
As for those Democrats in congress hedging and hawing about the idea of invading, if Iraq had gone smoother, they'd be right in line to invade. Their criticisms are about the strategy and not the goal.
Now let me go out on a real limb and advance an argument that I have and that I never thought I'd even think. I think Iran has a pretty convincing case on needing nukes to prevent war. Think about it and put yourself in Ahmadinejad's shoes. A few years ago, America's ruling regime announces three primary enemies: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Now you're Iran. Iraq obeys and disarms, lets the weapons inspectors in, and what does it get? Bombed, occupied, robbed, raped, and cut up. The U.S. installs its main architects of '80s Latin American Death Squad strategy, ferments strong ethnic rivalries, build a bunch of permanent bases, and starts stealing oil wholesale. North Korea? Disobeys and immediately ramps up production of a nuke. Even though the thing may not even work, what does the U.S. do? Whimper and insist on new negotiations. It's like an old Highlights Goofus and Gallant strip. Be honest: if you were Iran, who would you emulate?
Reagan wanted nukes and that sick scumbag should've been arrested. Ahmadinejad isn't even making the case, but I'd support it.
Where do the Liberal bloggers come in on this? I was reading "Crooks and Liars" the other day and they asked about Bush's Iran bluster: where's the evidence? Though they were channeling MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, they said it was the question everyone needs to be asking right now. Now they meant where is the evidence for Iran wanting to harm the U.S. This is the most psychotic response ever. If Ma Barker showed up at your door and said she needed help because there was a bank downtown that was threatening her, you wouldn't you ask for the evidence. The evidence is that Ma Barker has a history robbing banks. Now imagine that you happen to bump into Ma Barker in the bank mid-robbery and she says to you: "I know this doesn't look good, but we have to succeed, and the bank next door has been threatening me so we have to go there, too."
Iran is just another bank to these people and we have all the evidence we need: the war in Iraq is a crime on a barely imaginable scale, we need to have criminal prosecution of the criminals, and anyone who tries to change the subject to debating the legitimacy of Iran needs to be corrected sternly.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New Panther Arrests

It was reported today that new charges were mounted against 8 former Black Panthers for the 1971 killing of a cop. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) smartly compared the 1973 torture and interrogation sessions to the frighteningly similar ones at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Besides the clear parallels in response to people of color resisting empire, domestically or far, far away, this is a painful reminder that while the state demands a monopoly on violence, it also boasts of a long memory. There have been whispers that there may be more cases like this in the coming months and years. It is paramount that people of conscience mount campaigns of support and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the struggle.
It is unclear if there is a support system set up yet, but when we find it, we'll pass it along.

In peripherally related news, E. Howard Hunt, scum, died today. Scum, I mean Hunt, assisted in organizing a criminal invasion of both Cuba and Guatemala before assisting in the Watergate break-ins that led to the resignation of Nixon. What is interesting is this: Hunt served 33 months for, essentially, spying on the Democrats and lying about it. Then he was released and lived free until his death. This guy ushers in a forty year plus death squad regime in one country and tries to do the same thing in another and no one in D.C. blinks an eye. Thousands upon thousands of people killed. He's never held for war crimes. No house arrest even like Pol Pot. Nope, he can just shop at walmart like anybody else. A single police officer's death from thirty-five years ago? Continued investigation, grand juries, and indictments.
Rule of law? Rule of scum.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam, Ford, and a new addition

After typing in our newest addition, Excerpts from Scanlan's Guerrilla War in the U.S.A. January 1971 Issue, it is pretty remarkable to witness this particular week in America. On the one hand, there is a certain American bloodlust for the execution of Saddam Hussein. The right, vampires that they are, are just exhausting their necrophilia. The liberals, under their usual delusions of "pragmatism," lament that the execution won't lead to a more docile colony. Ugh. Saddam was a bad man, but we do no one service by pretending for moment that he was some sort of vanguardist against empire OR that his crimes, monstrous as they were, can even approximate the wholesale brutality of Bush 1 or 2 or Clinton. Clinton's Secretary of State, the always smiling and friendly seeming Albright, was asked about killing half a million Iraqi children and didn't blink an eye in, not challenging the charge number, but defending the murder. With all due respect to A.Y. Davis's Prison Abolitionism, Saddam should be in a cell somewhere and his cell mates should be Billy, Georgy 1, and Georgy 2.

Yet, same news cycle, we get the veneration of Ford. "Nice guy, Ford." You have to appreciate the degree with which the media personalizes the guy. As if he was the friendly guy who hung out around the water cooler and bought an extra box of their kid's girl scout cookies, instead of, say, the guy who green-lighted the Indonesian genocide of a third of East Timor's population. Why is Ford celebrated? Because he pardoned Nixon, showed that the system worked, and that "we as a nation" needed to heal. So let's get this straight: Nixon, bloodthirsty murderer of Vietnam, gets a pardon because we need to heal from his legendary crimes (not that he was even prosecuted for the crime of Vietnam), but Saddam has to swing from the neck because a puppet court says so? Imperial justice: No Justice, Just Empire. (and lastly, to keep our contradiction level high, Ford apparently said something about how Gay couples "ought to be treated equally. Period." Geez, and Carter is referring, correctly, to Israel as an Apartheid state. How these guys change when they're no longer in power and thirty years have passed.)

In other news, the United Arab Emirates is apparently switching some holdings from Dollars to Euros. Muy Interesante!

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

When it rains, it pours

First Kirkpatrick, then Pinochet? Pardon the joy, but it must be yippy skippy week for LAtin America as all the old monsters finally croak. Hopefully, this won't become an obituary blog, but as there are probably other people who read the scum obits and grit their teeth through the "balanced" rememberance. For instance, while we learn that Pinochet killed and tortured thousands through his ruthless coup, one is also told that he corrected the Chilean economy after the rough Allende years. Nowhere does it mention that any roughness in the Allende years was caused by the same forces that brought Pinochet into power: the American and Chilean elites. It's like not mentioning the decade of U.S.-enforced embargo against Iraq and then remarking that, despite the bloodshed of the U.S. plundering of Iraq, at least the economy is running better. One might respond that the Iraqi economy isn't running better by any rational metric which makes the parallel all the more true.

In fact, let's continue this Iraqi-Chilean with our dear friend, geographer David Harvey:

What the US evidently seeks to impose by main force on Iraq is a full-fledged neo-liberal state apparatus whose fundamental mission is to facilitate conditions for profitablecapital accumulation. The sorts of measures that Bremer outlined, according to neo-liberal theory, are both necessary and sufficient for the creation of wealth and therefore for the improved well-being of whole populations. The conflation of political freedom with freedom of the market and of trade has long been a cardinal feature of neo-liberal policy and it has dominated the US stance towards the rest of the world for many years. On the first anniversary of 9/11, for example, President Bush announced in an op-edpiece published in the New York Times, that "We will use our position of unparalleled strength and influence to build an atmosphere of international order and openness in which progress and liberty can flourish in many nations. A peaceful world of growing freedom serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites America's allies....We seek a just peace where repression, resentment and poverty are replaced with the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade," these last two having "proved their ability to lift whole societies out of poverty." Today, he concluded, "humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to offer freedom's triumph over all its age-old foes. The United States welcomes its responsibility to lead in this great mission." This same language appeared in the prologue to the National Defense Strategy Document published shortly thereafter. It is this freedom, interpreted as freedom of the market and of trade, that is to be imposed upon Iraq and the world.
It is useful to recall here, that the first great experiment with neo-liberal state formation was Chile after Pinochet’s coup on the “little September 11th” of 1973 (almost thirty years to the day before Bremer’s announcement of the regime to be installed in Iraq). The coup, against the democratically-elected and leftist social democratic government of Salvador Allende, was strongly backed by the CIA and supported by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It violently repressed all the social movements and political organization of the left and dismantled all forms of popular organization (such as the community health centers in poorer neighborhoods). The labor market was “freed” from regulatory or institutional restraints (trade union power, for example). But by 1973 the policies of import substitution that had formerly dominated in Latin American attempts at economic regeneration (and which had succeeded to some degree in Brazil after the military coup of 1964) had fallen into disrepute. With the world economy in the midst of a serious recession, something new was plainly called for. A group of US
economists known as “the Chicago boys,” because of their attachment to the theories of Milton Friedman then teaching at the University of Chicago, were summoned to help reconstruct the Chilean economy. They did so along free-market lines, privatizing public assets, opening up natural resources to private exploitation and facilitating foreign direct investment and free trade. The right of foreign companies to repatriate profits from their Chilean operations was guaranteed. Export-led growth was favored over import substitution. The subsequent revival of the Chilean economy in terms of growth rates,
capital accumulation, and high rates of return on foreign investments, provided evidence upon which the subsequent turn to more open neo-liberal policies in both Britain (under Thatcher) and the US (under Reagan) could be modeled. Not for the first time, a brutal experiment carried out in the periphery became a model for the formulation of policies in the center (much as experimentation with the flat tax in Iraq is now proposed).
The Chilean experiment demonstrated, however, that the benefits were not well-distributed. The country and its ruling elites along with foreign investors did well enough while the people in general fared badly. This has been a persistent enough effect of neo- liberal policies over time as to be regarded as structural to the whole project. Dumenil and Levy go so far as to argue that neoliberalism was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power to the richest strata in the population. Commenting on how the top one percent of income earners in the US fared, they write:

Before World War II, these households received about 16 percent of total income.
This percentage fell rapidly during the war and, in the 1960s, it had been reduced to
8 percent, a plateau which was maintained during three decades. In the mid 1980s,
it soared suddenly and by the end of the century it reached 15 percent. Looking at
total wealth, the trend is broadly identical….”

Almost certainly, with the Bush administration’s tax cuts now taking effect, the concentration of wealth in the upper echelons of society is continuing a-pace. Dumenil and Levy also noted that “the structural crisis of the 1970s, with rates of interest hardly superior to inflation rates, low dividend payout by corporations, and depressed stock markets, further encroached on the income and wealth of the wealthiest” during those years. Not only were the 1970s characterized by a global crisis of stagflation, but this was the period when the power of the upper classes was most seriously threatened. Neo-
liberalism arose, the argument goes, as a response to this threat.

This analysis is important, but let's not forget that Pinochet ordered the torture and murder of countless activists, students, and academics. His death is a good thing, but it can not erase the heavy crime he committed or the guilt of his many American con-conspirators who are still alive and well.


Friday, December 08, 2006


The scum that was Jeanne Kirkpatrick is dead. Good. The blood on her hands was carved out of our histories, her crimes against Latin America were legion, and her name should only be mentioned followed by a brief curse under one's breath.