Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Fraudulent War

Just finished reading a fascinating internet book: The Fraudulent War by Richard W. Behan.
It's a rapid read. Here's page 4:

When people who are honestly mistaken learn
the truth, they will either cease being mistaken or
cease being honest.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pilger on ObaMac - merging

A prediction from John Pilger writing in the New Statesman has come true:

As their contest for the White House draws closer, watch how, regardless of the inevitable personal smears, Obama and McCain draw nearer to each other ... “We lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good,” said Obama. “We must lead by building a 21st-century military... to advance the security of all people ... Both candidates have paid ritual obeisance to the regime in Tel Aviv, unquestioning support for which defines all presidential ambition ... Like all the candidates, Obama has furthered Israeli/Bush fictions about Iran, whose regime, he says absurdly, “is a threat to all of us”.

On the war in Iraq, Obama the dove and McCain the hawk are almost united ... Obama has now “reserved the right” to change his pledge to get troops out next year. “I will listen to our commanders on the ground,” he now says, echoing Bush. His adviser on Iraq, Colin Kahl, says the US should maintain up to 80,000 troops in Iraq until 2010 ... Like McCain, he would extend the crippling embargo on Cuba.

The American media love both Obama and McCain. Reminiscent of mating calls by Guardian writers to Blair more than a decade ago ...

Pilger has seen this phenomenon of a "media affair" with a candidate for a nation's highest office before -- both in Great Britain 10 years ago, and 40 years ago in the United States, when he was covering Bobby Kennedy's campaign.

The objects of these uncontrollable passions are as one in their support for America’s true deity, its corporate oligarchs ... “Washington lobbyists haven’t funded my campaign,” said Obama in January, “they won’t run my White House and they will not drown out the voices of working Americans when I am president.” According to files held by the Centre for Responsive Politics, the top five contributors to the Obama campaign are registered corporate lobbyists.

Since that piece was written, Obama has of course dropped his opposition to telecom retroactive immunity under the proposed new FISA statutes.

In a more recent piece Pilger offers a sobering reflection on the likely arc of an Obama Presidency.

The foregone nomination of Barack Obama, which, according to one breathless commentator, "marks a truly exciting and historic moment in US history", is a product of the new delusion. Actually, it just seems new. Truly exciting and historic moments have been fabricated around US presidential campaigns for as long as I can recall, generating what can only be described as bullshit on a grand scale ... all subsumed by marketing and “image-making”, now magnified by "virtual" technology ... only those who both control and obey the system can win.


Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionist. He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton demonstrates. Obama’s difference may be that he feels an even greater need to show how tough he is.

The U.S. wars in my lifetime were all ended by republican presidents: Eisenhower ended the Korean War (which Truman started, and called a police action, in order to avoid the necessity of congress to declare war); Ford ended the Vietnam War (the origins of which can be traced back to 1945 when the first official protest of U.S. military presence in Vietnam was produced by U.S. merchant marines who were offended that their ships were being used to transport Japanese officers to Vietnam to help the French military reestablish control rather than using the ships to transport American troops back to the states; in 1946 the first American soldier was killed in Vietnam, and in 1951 or 52 the first American prisoners of war were taken in Vietnam; by 1954 the U.S. was funding 80% of the French military effort to fight the Vietnamese communists). Ronald Reagan ended the War on Grenada. George H.W. Bush ended the war on Panama and the first Gulf War.

Truman started and escalated the Korean war. Kennedy and Johnson escalated the Vietnam war. The myths surrounding the "Camelot Court" of Kennedy together with his assassination have precluded him from bearing an adequate blame for the escalating the Vietnam war, but when Kennedy came into office, he ignored Ike's warning that the hot spot in South East Asia would be Cambodia, and advised the outgoing President that instead, it was Vietnam that his administration saw as the threat.

Should Obama be elected President, he will inherit the occupation of Iraq. We can only pray that he will not inherit a war on Iran (which makes NO sense for national security). What will he do in Iraq? The mere fact that Exxon Mobile, Shell, Total and BP, as well as Chevron have got their no-bid contracts to start procuring Iraq's oil suggests these companies have enough confidence in the "stability" of the region to recommence drilling there suggests STRONGLY that they have assurances of a significant U.S. military presence for a LONG time -- whether McCain or Obama wins the election.

Let us pray.

You elitist, you - what could be worse?

Everybody's talking at "B" calling him an "elitist" -- which really must be bad, because the republicans always charge the democrats with being the worst kinds of ... well, everything -- traitors, prevaricators, and flip-flop operators. Of course, HRC called him an "elitist" also, so there must be something about the word that resonates somewhere, and gives the one doing the calling some sense of superiority.

Long time ago definition of elitism - Random House Dictionary of English Language, unabridged version. In the dictionary, you have to start with elitism (an "ism") before you can find out just what an elitist (an "ist") is. Of course, the definition is circular, so you have to go to elite so you can understand understand elitism.

Interesting. NOT like going from communism to communist (in the RHDoEL) since communism gets a definition all its own, and so does communist. I digress.

elitism, n.

1. practice of or belief in rule by an elite
2. consciousness or pride of belonging to a select or favored group
-- elitist, n.

elite, n.

1. choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons
2. persons of the highest class
3. a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger organization
4. a type, apx. 10-point, and widely used in typewriters and having 12 characters to the inch
-- adj, 5. representing the most choice or select, best

The American Heritage online Dictionary, 4th edition manages to define elitism without referring to elite:

elitism: noun

1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

other forms: elitist

And thus, an elitist has gone from being one who IS of the highest class (back in the days of my youth), to one who is presently PERCEIVED to be superior, and those are quite different things. Perceptions may be false. We know that people perceive things differently for many reasons -- values and perceptions vary by economic strata of birth, religion, education, geography, expectations, and life experiences, among other things.

So, now consider the American Heritage online definition of

elite: noun

1a: a group or class of persons, or member of such a group enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status

1b: the best or most skilled members of a group

2: a size of type on a typewriter equal to 12 characters per linear inch

ETYMOLOGY: French elite, from old French, eslit, from feminine past participle eslire, to choose, from Latin - eligere. See elect.

Okay - it's the French thing all the while.

Certainly, there are only 100 Senators in the United States. Out of 300 million people, that's a pretty small group. I'd have to say, that's an elite group (in the sense that they have the power). So for HRC to call B an elitist ... well, it doesn't track.

Same deal with op-ed columnists, TV pundits, radio talking heads with annual incomes of, say, $1,000,000 or more. By definition, they are elites - wealth elites, political elites. They're calling the shots. If Obama being an elitist is a "bad" thing, is it because he's not one of them (oh, but wait, he already is).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

International Political "Cartoons"

One picture says 1,000 words - part I.

You can link to this cartoon from the China Daily to get an idea of how East views West (and East views East). This cartoon tells vividly how the West gets it wrong on China by conflating the Great Panda Bear (whose diet is 99% bamboo and is a highly threatened and endangered species and which many find to be cute - since it is not a danger to humans) with a more sinister looking Brown Bear whose diet, while consisting mainly of roots and fungi, also includes fish and small mammals. Unlike the Great Panda, the Brown Bear is listed as a "least concerned" species.

Note how the cartoon credits "Western Media" with vilification of the Panda, using paste and cut techniques. Cut off the cute head of the Panda, replace with the sinister head of the Brown Bear, thus turning China from a non-threatening, cuddly, safe creature into a ravenous, rapacious, hungry, carnivore. Western Media's propaganda makes China appear to represent the danger that is "in actuality" the danger that Russian poses.

One picture says 1,000 words, part II:

More bears - one of which is Russian, come to us from a Singapore paper. Quite an visual with Bush 43 caught between two bears and a hard place -- being chased by a bear market (hasn't lost the shirt off his back yet, just his shoe) -- going to meet Putin, another world leader, who has the Russian Bear (economy) under tight control. A lot of interesting things going on here.

One picture says 1,000 words, part III:

There is much value in seeing ourselves through the eyes of another -- for an individual human being, seeing ourselves through the eyes of another human being, who may have a less favorable impression of us than we hold of ourselves. Same goes for how the citizenry of one nation views the actions of our government (which in a Democracy ought to reflect the will of the people, although, the U.S. form of government, of course, is a Republican form of government).

This commentary on the Iraq occupation comes to us from Beijing, China. The U.S. invasion of Iraq viewed as a high stakes game of black-jack, and Uncle Sam has lost a LOT of many and all his clothes except his undershorts. There is NO question that he's just about tapped out, but, he while pounding his fists on the table defiantly demands of the dealer "Haven't had enough yet?"

Wow! Initially, I didn't like this cartoon, because it stripped away all the human costs, the devastation, the suffering, and reduces war to ... and then I looked again ... a "game" the U.S. can't win, and couldn't win, EVER; the war game, the invasion game, the occupation game, the imperialist game. And yes, for those politicians who make the decision to go to war, it's truly as sterile as this. They have no blood in it. They have no suffering in it. All about bluster, pride, ego. And war, that smug, unruly, confident, greedy corrupt "thing".

Somewhere, early in my internet reading (circa 2002), I found this description of the face of war: War looks like a baboon's hind quarters.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Smoke on the water

While enjoying the company of friends with whom we share similar political beliefs, Tom noted that Jim Leher was back on PBS for the first time in quite a while. This led to a discussion of the travails of the newspaper industry which has been laying off staff and cutting down on content. I mentioned that the Bush Administration has continued to cut funding for PBS, and the trend for PBS and NPR to "get that other point of view out there" in an attempt to soften charges of liberal bias.

"The way things are going, where are we going to get our news?" asked Tom.

Al-Jazeerah's pretty good, I offered. So's CBCnews (Canada), The Black Commentator. BBC, perhaps.

So I've been perusing "foreign" press lately. Here's more on extreme weather, fires in California, from CBCnews:

Lightning strikes have been blamed for starting about 1,000 fires recently in northern California, which has seen drought conditions for the past two years.

Areas hardest hit by the lightning fires include Butte County, where fires threaten 1,200 homes; Mendocino County, with 121 fires threatening 900 homes; and Shasta-Trinity counties, where 230 homes are at risk.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked President George W. Bush on Friday for a federal emergency declaration to free up more resources, saying most of the major fires are less than 20 per cent contained.

The blazes also have spread a smoky haze over much of the San Francisco Bay area and Central Valley, prompting air regulators to urge people to stay indoors.

This is pretty extreme stuff - 1,000 fires, most less than 20% contained, smoky haze. All entirely consistent with the phenomena called global warming.