Archive for the Sorrows of Empire category

January 4th, 2011

?? Russians say Wheeler assassinated re US chemical weapon disaster in Arkansas ?

Ed Note: See comments below to follow this strange story as it evolves — or more likely disappears in a cloud of web nonsense and, perhaps, professional disinformation.

JOHN WHEELER was the leader of the Vietnam Vets Memorial movement, among other things.

Career Air Force with sensitive assignments.

Showed up murdered in a dumpster the other day.

Meanwhile thousands of birds have been dropping dead out of the sky in Arkansas.

Now Inteltrends publishes a report that claims to have seen a Russian intel report saying that Wheeler was killed, by the Americans, because he

threatened to expose a U.S. Military test of poison gas that killed hundreds of thousands of animals in Arkansas this past week.

January 4th, 2011

Wikileaks

“The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions, are tasked to act on them.”

– Julian Assange, 2007 blog entry

Having looked into the Wikileaks a bit, one sees that Julian Assange is a new-age hero, and reaffirms that the American republic is dead.

New Yorker profile of Assange from earlier this year — must read.

Ron Paul’s reaction on the floor of the House — hear, hear him.

The great cache of pieces at The New York Times

Hackers of the World Unite in attacks on corporate and other sites in reaction to harassment of Assange

An overview of the American Empire’s lying machine

Upcoming data dump will focus on one of the big banks, perhaps the great zombie Bank of America:

“It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume,” Assange said in the November 2010 interview with Forbes. “For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron e-mails.”

January 2nd, 2011

Happy New Year:
Orwell succeeds Huxley

It’s a familiar question — Who was right, Orwell or Huxley? 1984 or Brave New World?

And the answer “both” is familar.

Here Chris Hedges updates the view for the new year.

December 13th, 2010

Guys from nine big banks control derivative trading

I didn’t know this committee existed.

Interesting.

November 22nd, 2010

JFK dead 47 years

Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig is a good way to begin to remember.

November 22nd, 2010

Chalmers Johnson dies

Alas.

The author of Blowback in 2000, The Sorrows of Empire in 2004, and Nemesis in 2007 — all about the death march of American militarism.

And, just this past August, Dismantling the Empire, a collection of half hopeful essays about how the worst might yet be averted.

Here’s a good and comprehensive chat, from 2007 or so it seems:

Speaking Freely – Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony from Ice Goldberg on Vimeo.

November 9th, 2010

Lindsay Graham wants war with iran

From Roger Cohen at the Times:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, immediately put President Obama on notice.

Resurgent Republicans would be looking for him to “be tough with Iran beyond sanctions.” If it came to war, the United States should “sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime.”

Sure, Graham conceded, “you can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose.” Another war is the “last thing America wants.” But a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable and containment “off the table.”

This follows upon David Broder going on in the Post recently about how war with Iran would stimulate the economy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/29/AR2010102905810.html

November 3rd, 2010

Michael Moore
talks turkey Election Night

Wow. The gosh darn truth, it seems to me.

He’s talking late night election night (November 2010) at Democracy Now, with John Nicolls and Laura Flanders in the studio with Amy Goodman.

He touches on the blackout, during the autumn campaign weeks, on the wars — indeed, foreign policy in toto. This was the first thing that came to mind as Jon Stewart concluded his interview with Obama two weeks ago. Not a word about Pakghanistan, Iraq or Israel. Not a fucking word. Clearly Obama demanded that silence in exchange for the appearance.

It’s also noteworthy, when he speaks of the Left’s guilt for its early support of the Iraq war, 2002-04, and names a few names and nods at institutions, that what he’s pointing to are prominent Jews of the Left, who supported the war persuaded in good part that it served Israel’s interest, and then recanted.

But Michael daresn’t say that to Amy. Not right out.

The recantation of Tom Friedman of the Times suddenly comes to mind as one of the most spectacular. But he was nothing like alone within the New York media. The New Yorker itself, of Remnick and Hertzberg. Perhaps I’ll find links.

Most broadly, the so-called Left here will never mount the kind of power challenge its constituency needs until it faces the huge ideological chaos within its ranks.

I mean, in nutshell: Identity Politics vs (marxian!) Universalism.

This came to mind again yesterday watching a group of three at Busboys & Poets Cafe in DC on Democracy Now. Nothing but racism. Seeing everything thru that narrow lens. Calling themselves Progressives even yet, after 30 years of getting fucked in the ass by the rich.

But … their ideas are so rooted in Academia, where so many people of lefty persuasion retreated after the assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, that what seems necessary also seems all but impossible. At least in my time.

But … it’s no wonder the Left is so powerless. Most Americans listening to the guys at Busboys & Poets would just shake their head and vote no.

Laura Flanders, following Moore, is also good. Maybe go buy her book (she gives the website during the chat — not available at Amazon etc):

And here’s something re his most recent — and, he suggests, his last — documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story.

November 3rd, 2010

Coming Soon:
The Social Security food fight

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson — the chairs of Obama’s Debt Commision — talk in February 2010 about the clear and present options for the future of Social Security:

– Increasing the utterly regressive and already onerous (15% or so — or has it crept well beyond that?) SS tax.

– Reducing SS benefits across the board.

– Reducing benefits on a sliding scale need-tested basis. Ie, the better off you are, the less SS you collect. Seems rather reasonable. Don’t it? But to enforce …

It’s interesting, to say the least, that the Final Solution will be wheeled out during these coming two years of, ahem, shared responsibility, given yesterday’s elections.

Within GOPher ranks alone a food fight of epic proportions seems likely, given the ideas and emotion separating Speaker Boehner from Senate minority leader McConnell (who more than once has expressed disdain for the rising Boehner) and of course the new Tea Party kids.

Did Team Obama lure the GOPhers into this snake pit?

M

November 3rd, 2010

For Files:
Jesse Ventura re 9/11

The former SEAL and Governor of Minnesota speaking about Huffington Post pulling his story re Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Simple things. Well worth watching.

November 1st, 2010

Knesset member shot by Israeli police: “No chance for two states”

Posted in Israel, Sorrows of Empire by ed

A Halloween video interview with Haneen Zoabi, the first woman representing an Arab party to be elected to the Knesset — two days after being fired upon by Israeli police in Umm al Fahm.

And here’s an earlier print interview from the summer, shortly after her Privilege in the Knesset was revoked, rather violently, because she had participated in the Gaza Flotilla.

The headline over the video interview reads No Chance for Two States.

This follows, of course, upon the Great Finger that Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, gave the UN General Assembly in September: Peace with Palestinians? Let’s talk in 20 years after we deal with Iran.

Team Obama, meanwhile, as supine as ever in the face of renewed East Jerusalem construction despite public requests to the contrary from the White House.

If the president who gave the Cairo speech does nothing, what hopeless enmity shall follow? World war over there (with Israel our Syracuse) and real terrorism over here (none of this Gang who Couldn’t Bomb Straight stuff) seems more likely than ever, post Lieberman.

Shocking thought: Might one vote for Jeb Bush in 2012 simply because his father (with whom he bears much more in common than his dopey black-sheep brother) was the only US president to have disciplined Israel since advent of Reagan?

October 31st, 2010

Note to Files: Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam gets Peace Prize from Gorby after Bush-Cheney bounce him off an airliner

Posted in American Gestapo, Music, Russia by ed

M

Note to Files after seeing Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens on stage with Jon Stewart at the Sanity rally in Washington yesterday.

But first — here’s a blog entry re the 60s he wrote earlier this month.

And one from today re the Sanity affair. Pretty cool.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s foundation awarded a Peace Prize to CS/YI in November 2004, months after the singer-songwriter was bounced off a jetliner by the Yanks, his name having appeared on the chaotic Bush-Cheney No Fly list.

But of course it was more than that. He wasn’t merely barred from boarding. He did board. Then the Yanks sent up fighters and guided the plane to an emergency landing and … Ludacris crap.

Gorbachev himself awarded the prize at a ceremony in Rome. Two of my favorite people on the planet.

M

October 25th, 2010

Daniel Hopsicker: More
re CIA and the narcotics
business in Florida

Daniel Hopsicker here elaborates his investigation of the businesslike drug importation business run in Florida by members of the American so-called intelligence apparat.

This follows Hopsicker’s WELCOME TO TERRORLAND, the astounding book that details Mohammed Atta’s activities in Florida, including an extended interview with his local girlfriend there. The picture that emerges is one of a fellow working with western so-called intelligence apparatchiks.

The Venice, Florida airport has been used to import narcotics on a businesslike basis, with labor and protection provided by so-called intelligence apparatchiks, for a long time. Wally HIlliard has been the boss there for a while.

Atta and friends were housed and given their fight training by one of Hillard’s aviation outfits in Venice, despite the fact that their photos were hanging on the Able Danger corkboard in the Pentagon — until “Pentagon lawyers” under Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, found out and had Able Danger shut down.

October 13th, 2010

John le Carre:
Big Banks & Money Laundering
The Iraq War, etc

September 30th, 2010

Pakistan shuts Khyber Pass
to US war machine as
September to Remember closes

Ed Note: See here for background reaching back to August 2008, when the CIA commenced bombing Pakistan with drone missiles.

And see comments below to follow events henceforth, including the Peace Talks that turned out to have been attended by a Flim Flam Man in the guise of the Taliban. How long can this travesty go on?

M

M

Pakistan today closed off the main Khyber Pass portal that the US and its meagre coalition-of-the-willing use to supply their war efforts in Afghanistan, after the latest of recent US helicopter attacks killed three uniformed Paki servicemen.

Across the three days prior to the latest attack, Islamabad had expressed outrage at the helicopter raids, which at that point had killed many civilians among some sixty dead.

As the border closing was announced,

The Pakistani interior minister, Rehman Malik indicated that NATO strikes in Pakistan were being taken extremely seriously. “We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies,” he said Thursday.

The move to challenge the Americans also comes just two days after Pakistan’s top generals and American officials all expressed loud displeasure with the Islamabad government led by Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari:

American officials, too, say it has left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a deeply unpopular president who was elected two and a half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. …

In a meeting on Monday that was played on the front page of Pakistan’s newspapers, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, confronted the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, over incompetence and corruption in the government.

According to the press and Pakistani officials familiar with the conversation, the general demanded that they dismiss at least some ministers in the oversized 60-member cabinet, many of whom face corruption charges.

The civilian government has so far resisted the general’s demand. But the meeting was widely interpreted by the Pakistani news media, which has grown increasingly hostile to the president, as a rebuke to the civilian politicians and as having pushed the government to the brink.

After the meeting, the president’s office issued a statement, approved by all the men, saying they had agreed “to protect the democratic process and to resolve all issues in accordance with the constitution.”

A Pakistani official close to the president who was familiar with the conversation but did not want to be identified, said, “The president made it clear that he would not leave, come what may.”

“Sanity had prevailed,” the official added. …

In his most recent visit to Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, the American special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the international community could not be expected to provide all the billions of dollars needed to repair the flood damage, a warning interpreted here as a rebuke of the civilian government and its mismanagement.

But Washington, not unlike Pakistan’s military, is caught, American officials say, because there is no appetite for a return of military rule. Nor is there desire to see the opposition politician and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, resume power.

The last is interesting in that Sharif would be popular and even more difficult for Washington to control. But the Times report reports he has no interest in stepping up at the moment given the general chaos.

So it seems that just as Washington has abandoned President Karzai in favor of a perhaps imaginary reprise of Northern Alliance (non-Pashtun) so-called warlords, so across the border it may be looking for a collection of Men We Can Work With.

And as Fletcher Prouty pointed out (while discussing the assassination of President Diem of Vietnam in 1963), when Washington withdraws support of an allied leader, the latter’s native enemies soon swarm and conduct a coup. This may be the week that President Zardari became a walking dead man slated to join his wife in martyrdom. Or perhaps friends in Paris.

Along those lines, note that two weeks ago, September 17, in London, emigre Paki leader Imran Farooq was murdered, leading to great unease in Karachi (the New York of Pakistan), where the MQM party, which he once led and still helped manage, is a major power:

As [Robert Mackey's] colleague Carlotta Gall explained last week, the M.Q.M. represents families who moved to what is today Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947:

“Political power struggles in the country’s sprawling port city of Karachi have degenerated into an ethnic turf war between two parties in the governing coalition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, whose support base is drawn from Urdu-speaking immigrants, and the Awami National Party, whose base is mostly Pashtun. Targeted killings left 165 dead people in August, including some senior political figures.

Now tens of thousands of people displaced by the floods, most of them ethnic Sindhis, are arriving in Karachi, adding a volatile new element to the political dynamic there. While Sindhi nationalists are welcoming them, opponents, like M.Q.M. members, warn that they will create more violence.”

In 2007, the BBC explained that the M.Q.M.’s leaders have effectively run large parts of Karachi from London for years. At the time, a party spokesman said it was not necessary for the city’s leaders to actually be in Pakistan, since, “in these days of high-tech communication why not govern Karachi from London? It’s a new form of outsourcing.”

And note that two days before Farooq was killed, the former Paki president General Pervez Musharraf announced he would return from friendly exile to start a new political party.

Meanwhile the long delayed NATO offensive to cleanse Kandahar of people who don’t side with the Kabul government of Karzai (whom the americans themselves have been steadily defaming for more than a year) seems to have muddled but continues. It began in mid August. Two days ago the American commander Petraeus told the press of peace talks of some sort . between Karzai and that loose coalition of unwilling various Afghans in arms referred to in the press as the Taliban.

All this comes against the great disaster of the summer in Pakistan — flooding of biblical proportions, which the western world reacted to largely with a yawn, but which since beginning in late July has (says the Times) “ruined just about every physical strand that knit this country together — roads, bridges, schools, health clinics, electricity and communications.”

Has Pakistan this September, under such pressures, begun to cease to exist as the state we’ve dealt with since the Soviet invasion next door?

September 26th, 2010

The Bonds of August:
Refinancing the Twin Towers
on the eve of destruction

M

James Bamford’s latest book, The Shadow Factory, about the National Security Agency shortly before and since the 9/11 attacks, leaves his first two re same (The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets) seeming quaint, jolly, the Good Old Days. That Obama has only elaborated what Bush-Cheney began means we are surely beyond the pale and point of return.

But for the moment, a look back, to the weeks preceding the attacks.

Mr Bamford writes that:

– Mohammed Atta & co bought their airline tickets August 25-29, 2001.

– Up until then, across the summer, Atta had been refusing pressure from his Al Qaeda contact to set the date of the attack and git it done.

The first point is in tune with the FBI’s public chronology of the alleged terrorists’ actions. But the second point is new to my eyes.

Mr Bamford writes that Atta, on July 8, with all his fellow hijackers now safely on US soil, flew to Spain to meet Ramzi Binalshibh — “his former roommate and the man who was helping bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed coordinate the operation from his base in Germany.” (p59)

Binalshibh told Atta that bin laden wanted the attacks carried out as soon as possible because he was concerned about the large number of operatives in the US at the same time. But Atta said he was still unable to provide an exact date for the attacks because he was too busy organizing the arriving soldiers. In addition, he still needed to coordinate the timing of the flights so that the crashes would occur simultaneously. Atta said he needed about five to six more weeks before he could provide an accurate attack date. (p60)

The rationale for delay seems rather weak.

Note that Mr Bamford does not provide a single citation for the chapter in which he tells this story of how Atta finally came to select the date and set the attacks in motion. Given Bamford’s history, readers seem invited to assume the sources are NSA intercepts (phone calls and emails) and deep background interviews with the NSAyers who handled them.

This newly public story of the date’s selection folds into old thoughts about the leasing and securitization of the Twin Towers, a refinancing project with curious consequences which — in contrast to Atta — was racing across that summer toward the day of infamy in September.

So then.

M

M

Two things to note about the date of the attacks:

– The nexus of military exercises those early days of that week in September was such that most of the east coast was stripped of jet fighter protection. (Webster Tarpley’s book is perhaps the best source for this.)

– the complex deal that financed the long-term leasing of most of the Trade Center by Silverstein Properties Inc had only recently closed — on August 21 — when the Twin Towers were securitized in a bond issuance.

Housekeeping note: The leasing by SPI (agreed to in the spring and finalized on July 24) and the bond sale by its banker that followed in August, each encompassed WTC buildings 1 and 2 (the towers) and 4 and 5 — four of the seven that comprised the Trade Center complex. (References henceforth to “Twin Tower bonds” are to the whole package, ie, bonds based on the securitization of buildings 1, 2, 4, and 5.)

Not part of the deal were: Building 3 — a big hotel on site. Building 6 — the US Custom House. And building 7 — the Spook House, where about every police and secret police agency one might call to mind rented space.

WTC 7 is the odd man out for a number of reasons. It was not truly part of the WTC complex, having been built across the street during the 80s — by none other than Larry Silverstein, the principal of SPI. The building was then refinanced by a (separate) securitization and bond sale in 1999. And, of course, shortly after 5 pm on 9/11, the building, having suffered only minor damage in the attacks, suddenly collapsed in its footprint in what looks to have been a professional demolition.

And now, our featured presentation.

There are three details worth noting about the August securitization of WTC 1-2-4-5.

(1) The SECURITIZATION was RUSHED and SHABBILY DONE.

In particular, the insurance coverage for the buildings required by the securitization was inconsistent with the coverage required by the lease. And a good deal of the insurance coverage stipulated was not contracted before the securitization closed — even though such coverage was a precondition to the sale of the bonds.

And note that time just kept on flying: A big chunk of the stipulated insurance remained uncontracted when the jetliners arrived on 9/11.

All of this came out at the two insurance trials subsequent to the attacks. The insurance broker for SPI testified at gory length as to the chaos and unprecedented (in his experience) late summer rush to get the bond deal done without dotting Is and crossing Ts. (The best sources here are the insurance trade journals, which covered the trials in depth.)

(2) The KEY MONEY on the LEASE was SUBSTANTIAL.

When SPI finalized its 99-year managerial lease of 1-2-4-5 on July 24, it paid $491 million in cash to the Port Authority in key money.

SPI borrowed borrowed this key money (and more, $563 mm) the same day from its anchor banker, GMAC, the then-proud new-age investment bank run by General Motors. Henceforth much of the monthly rent paid by WTC tenants would go not to the PA or SPI but rather to GMAC, as interest on the loan.

EXCEPT that, a month later, GMAC got all its money back in a lump — by selling $563 million in Twin Tower bonds to institutional investors worldwide. Henceforth much of the monthly WTC rents would flow to these numerous, scattered investors, tagged as interest on their new bonds.

That is: The whole point of the securitization of 1-2-4-5 was to make GMAC whole by transferring the SPI key-money loan to the new bondholders.

(3) The SECURITIZATION had an UNUSUALLY LARGE RESERVE FUND.

That is, an unusually large amount of the proceeds of the bond sale were held in reserve by the bond trustee (Wells Fargo), rather than delivered to the issuer of the bonds (a new shell vehicle, more or less a “trust,” created to issue the bonds on behalf of GMAC).

This reserve fund came in handy when the business-basis of the bonds went up in smoke twenty days after they were sold — the most dramatic instance of “collateral decay” in finance history, one imagines. Despite that calamity, the reserve allowed the bonds to continue paying interest until insurance money started to dribble in.

Perhaps the import of the three points noted above is as clear as mud.

The gist is this: When the bonds were sold on August 21, it completed a two-step deal that:

(a) via the lease, took the Port Authority of NY & NJ — which owned the Trade Center and until July 2001 had always managed it — off the hook for a lot of headaches and for the next five years of rent on 1-2-4-5.

(b) via the August securitization, took GMAC — which had financed the leasing with (in essence) a bridge loan — off the hook.

The Port Authority was off the hook in two simple respects:

(i) The $491 million in key money it received at lease signing constituted over five years worth of rent on 1-2-4-5. If by chance the buildings were to disappear from the face of the earth tomorrow, well, the PA had five years to rebound. And as for the headaches …

(ii) The 99-year managerial lease transferred responsibility for rebuilding in case of mishap from the PA to SPI.

In short sum: The SPI lease had the effect of cushioning the Port Authority from the blast of 9/11.

And the bank that provided the financing to make it happen backed out of the deal twenty days before the jetliners arrived.

Readers of the news wondering or already persuaded that controlled demolition was employed on 9/11 might surmise that somebody wanted the Twin Towers to come down that day, but nobody wanted to destroy the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the process.

The leasing & securitization, willy nilly, served that end, by transferring the lion’s share of the risk of owning WTC 1-2-4-5 across the next five years from the PA to the bondholders, the insurance companies and SPI.

Funny — The first interest payment on the bonds was made on September 10. One imagines a proud bondholder, early the next morning, hanging up after confirming the payment with his broker and turning to his wife — “Honey, we got a piece of the Rock!” — while she aghast over the ironing board watches the North Tower burn.

And interesting — The Twin Tower bonds never defaulted. Interest continued to be paid out of the reserve fund, and then the bonds were called and cashed out early, when enough insurance money came in and was approved for the purpose. The bonds were built stronger than the towers, one might say.

To return, then, to the business of selecting a date.

M

M

As seen above, circa July 9 in Spain, Atta told Binalbshih he needed another five or six weeks to pick a date. In emails across the subsequent weeks (Bamford writes) Atta:

suggested that the attacks not happen until after the first week in September, when Congress reconvened. [ED: Again the rationale seems weak.] For months Binalbshih had been communicating bin Laden’s impatience and his desire for a date for the operation, and by mid-August Atta was ready to give it to him. (p71)

About three or five business days before closing a securitization, the “pricing” of the deal occurs. This is the final negotiation among the bankers, the rating agency analysts and (usually) the institutional investors who will buy the bulk of the bonds, which process, when complete, fills in all the blanks — dates, dollar amounts and percentage figures — in tune with current interest-rate and other market variables.

So — in Bamford’s “mid August,” when Atta was finally ready to give Binalbshih a date — the Twin Tower bonds were priced. And days later they were sold, on August 21, leaving GMAC whole and closing the two-step process of leasing the Trade Center for 99 years.

Then, Bamford writes:

With the date now set in stone, Atta again flew up to Newark [on August 23] to meet with Hazmi and begin coordinating the complex task of picking just the right seats on just the right flights on just the right type of aircraft … (p 71)

We all recall, I hope, Atta’s picture on the Able Danger corkboard in the Pentagon.

And anyone who has read Welcome to Terrorland by Daniel Hopsicker has reason to believe that Atta was playing at least two sides of the table in the so-called intelligence world.

So readers of the news may wonder:

– if the securitization was rushed and shabbily done because someone with the power to influence it, and with a wish to get GMAC off the hook, knew that the window in early September when the Air Force would be elsewhere was fast approaching; and

– if that same or a similar someone made sure that the reserve fund was fat enough to pay the interest on the Twin Tower bonds for a year or two; and

– if, in order to hit that window in September and to give GMAC time to close its deal, all across the summer the attacks were delayed — frustrating Al Qaeda central — by Atta’s colleagues/controllers somewhere within the world wide web of so-called intelligence operators. Maybe, for instance, the “Pentagon lawyers” who, we are told, turned off Able Danger in 2000 due to concerns for the civil rights of its targets.

Even if all those IFs are in fact counterfactual — it’s fascinating to learn (assuming Bamford is accurate) that Atta organized his calendar such that it fell into sync with those of the Air Force and the WTC leasing project, even as Al Qaeda Central pressed for attacks in summer.

M

M

September 25th, 2010

Curious George Goes
to the War

Curious George Goes to the War

I don’t want the war
Don’t want the war I
Want the war I know
The war I know what
War I know what wars
I know what wars are
Know what wars are like.
I know the destruction and
Know the destruction and death
The destruction and death that
Destruction and death that comes
And death that comes with
Death that comes with them.
I am the one who
Am the one who has
The one who has to
One who has to comfort
Who has to comfort mothers
Has to comfort mothers and
To comfort mothers and widows
Comfort mothers and widows of
Mothers and widows of thee
And widows of the dead.
Of course for us that
Course for us that would
For us that would be
Us that would be the
That would be the best
Would be the best solution.
Besides it would save us
It would save us fifty
Would save us fifty billion.

August 21st, 2010

A terrible thing to waste

This new ad on the NY subway (like Starbucks) seems asking and aching for a stencil campaign.

The old NAACP (if memory serves) motto comes to mind: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I see it stenciled, shouting, across this wannabe actress’s face.

M

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The caption up top (clipped as I snapped the photo) reads in full: “Education for the Real World.”

Indeed:

– The world of Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, who spent the first decade of the New American Century turning five public schools in Chicago into ‘military academies.’ No need to even begin going through the motions of education. Just teach’em how to spit and shoot and salute and send them off to patrol the mideast.

– And the world of our First Lady — who a few weeks ago explained that America’s kids need to lose weight so they qualify for military service.

June 28th, 2010

Obama’s new Space policy:
Shades of JFK

The administration’s newly announced Space policy, looking mostly to undo Bush-Cheney unilateral militarism and return to the norms of Reagan, Bush pere and Clinton, modest as it seems, echoes a bit ominously.

To begin, it seems intended to put NASA out of the spaceship business.

M

NASA in 1963 was a deeply Cowboy institution. And when the president that year signed National Security Action Memo No 271 — headed “Cooperation with the Soviet Union on Outer Space Matters” — the reaction from the national security apparat was pale.

The same day Kennedy signed a less well known memo headed “Classification review of all UFO intelligence files affecting National Security” which referenced NSAM 271 and directed the CIA, which had recently taken over the UFO beat from the Air Force, to begin declassifying UFO files with an eye toward partnered investigation with the Soviet Union.

Jim Marrs, author of worthwhile books on both JFK and UFOs, reports:

In this memo Kennedy stated, “I have initiated [blacked out] and have instructed [then NASA Administrator] James Webb to develop a program with the Soviet Union in joint space and lunar exploration. It would be very helpful if you would have the high threat cases reviewed with the purpose of identification of bona fide as opposed to classified CIA and USAF sources. It is important that we make a clear distinction between the knowns and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence gathering of their defense and space programs.”

Kennedy then asked for all files on “Unknowns” to be turned over to the NASA authorities and an interim report be forwarded to the White House no later than February 1, 1964.

Kennedy signed the two memos on November 12 and ten days later was dead.

M

Werner von Braun and his President

M

After running in 1960 as a Colder Warrior than Nixon, then nearly getting sunk by conniving brass and spooks at the Bay of Pigs some 70 days after taking office, after being embarrassed and outfoxed by Khruschev in Vienna then outlasting him at the psy ops battle of West Berlin, and after defusing the Cuban missile crisis by outfoxing his own warmongering brass while brokering a back-channel compromise with the Reds …

After all that, Kennedy during his last summer confirmed his fundamental turn with a commencement address at American University. For a few months it was rather in the news:

“Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other.

“And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least twenty million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland — a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.

“Today, should total war ever break out again — no matter how — our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first twenty-four hours.

Kennedy then voiced clear comprehension of what Eisenhower had been struggling with since making his truce in Korea with Peking and then had spoken of with quiet thunder in his farewell address days before Kennedy took office.

“And even in the cold war [Kennedy said in '63], which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this nation’s closest allies — our two countries bear the heaviest burdens.

“For we are both devoting to weapons massive sums of money that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.

“In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. …

“So, let us not be blind to our differences — but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

The speech, written by young brain-truster Ted Sorenson, had opened more abstractly, contesting the notion that war was the inevitable condition of modern states, taking clear cue here from FDR’s speech at Chicago in 1937.

Kennedy then broke some surprising news, announcing that the US would henceforth refrain, unilaterally, from testing nukes in the atmosphere, and that talks had been set in Moscow “looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty.”

He then concluded:

“Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. … ‘When a man’s ways please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’

“And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights — the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation — the right to breathe air as nature provided it — the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war ….”

M

M

It’s only against JFK in June 1963, and Eisenhower in 1961, and FDR in 1937, that one can fully appreciate the depths to which we’ve been pulled by the Bush-Cheney doctrine and practice of preemptive war. Indeed, the contrasting lines of argument are so strong that Vladimir Putin at Munich in 2007 reminded the world of FDR at Chicago, in long, loyal paraphrases, while trying to organize the international community in opposition to the American warmongering.

It bears repeating that the Baby Bush Doctrine was promulgated for the most part by the American Likud Lobbyists gathered under the umbrella of The Project for the New American Century in DC.

And lo. Unilateral and exclusive military exploitation of space is high on the agenda of the manifesto published by the group in 2000, two months before the failed election. Half a dozen leading PNAC “Vulcans” were then advising baby Bush’s campaign and months later two dozen would take command of his War Room.

And so it’s only natural to wonder what today’s Apparat thinks of Obama’s announcement about peacefully sharing the last frontier.

March 18th, 2010

Health Dare dead:
Dennis Kucinich gives up
“A dangerous moment …”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more remarkable interview from Washington.

This sad concession signals the death of the movement for health care reform in D.C that began during the Long Campaign and then crested — Who knew? — with Obama’s inauguration.

Poor Dennis looks dead on his feet.

This comes against news stories in the past two weeks reporting that Obama made explicit promises to the insurance companies last summer to reject a bill with a public plan.

The other shoe will drop with the hopeless wars, leaving Obama toast. Romney seems a shoe-in as successor.

Then we revisit Highway 61.

I was talking to someone in Dennis K’s office Thursday, suggesting that he might be more effective in Ohio, as a governor, working the angle he repeatedly holds hope out for in the interview here.

If he thought the same, his argument for voting Yes here would falter. He could go out with a significant NO, like Eliot Richardson and Wm Ruckelshaus in 1973, and use it as a rallying cry back home.

But I guess Dennis still thinks there is a reason to be in Washington. He chairs an important subcommittee. Although that comes and goes with the Donkey majority, and the latter is hardly a clinch in November.

It’s March 2010. Do you know where your future is?