Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 06, 2005

Open Thread 05-35

Your news, views, opinions ...

Posted by b on April 6, 2005 at 17:26 UTC | Permalink


Maybe it is not Iran, maybe it is Venezuela! What is going on in backyard of the US? What is one to make of the following article?

Is Washington planning a bloodbath in Caracas?

The United States openly supported a military coup against the Chavez government in April 2002, which was reversed two days later by a popular uprising. Since then, however, the US Congress-funded National Endowment For Democracy has poured millions of dollars into the groups that supported the coup.

Washington’s aim is to crush the popular revolution being carried out by Venezuela's working people — who are organising on a mass scale to take control of the country out of the hands of the privileged oligarchs who have traditionally governed.

The US is targeting Chavez because of his role in encouraging the mass mobilisation of Venezuela’s poor. However, killing Chavez would only be prelude to further intervention aimed at physically crushing the revolutionary masses. The death of Chavez, the leader of the revolution, could trigger the kind of confusion and chaos that Washington could use to justify military intervention — directly, through US allies in Colombia or through counter-revolutionary Venezuelans. This would almost certainly be accompanied by a violent campaign to exterminate the popular organisations and the revolutionary militants in the cities and countryside, just as was done in Chile in 1973 when the CIA-backed Pinochet dictatorship overthrew the democratically elected President Salvador Allende.

Posted by: Fran | Apr 6 2005 17:57 utc | 1

welcome back to the 1980's -- Reviving Cold War Reporting on Nicaragua

Posted by: b real | Apr 6 2005 18:04 utc | 2

@Fran - probably too early on Venezuela - where are the troops needed? The US generals would not like it.

Last time the Venezuelian army did not intervene heavily and now Chavez is even proping them up. So I just don´t see it now. Without Iraq, yes, definitly.

Posted by: b | Apr 6 2005 18:06 utc | 3

Another Marc Faber piece: No Joy In Greenspan's Wonderland!
Interesting graph about US profits breakdown by major sector...

Posted by: b | Apr 6 2005 18:23 utc | 4

Friends of Dorothy not welcome in Kansas any more

Posted by: Toto | Apr 6 2005 18:24 utc | 5>Sci Am's April Fool's Editorial this year is more poignant than funny, given recent events in the US.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.[...]

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do.

there's a bit more. short, punchy, dripping with sarcasm and [to my ear] frustration and alarm.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 6 2005 18:36 utc | 6

good article from michael hudson in this month's harpers - The $4.7 Trillion Pyramid: Why Social Security Won't Be Enough to Save Wall Street

The one sure mark of a con, though, is the promise of free money. In fact, the only way the stock market is going to grow is if we the people put a lot more of our money into it. What Bush seeks to manufacture is a boom—or, more accurately, a bubble—bankrolled by the last safe pile of cash in America today. His plan is a Ponzi scheme, and in that scheme it is Social Security that is being played for the last sucker.

Posted by: b real | Apr 6 2005 18:46 utc | 7


Why don't you send that in its entirity to all the media whoredoms, starting with the Washington Post.


Posted by: FlashHarry | Apr 6 2005 18:52 utc | 8

Ich möchte meine Glückwünsche geben den amerikanischen Leuten

Posted by: Joseph Goebbels | Apr 6 2005 19:08 utc | 10

LA Times They're In — but Not Home Free

Herron put no money down for her tidy one-bedroom, borrowing the entire purchase price of $211,000. To keep her monthly payments as low as possible, she got an adjustable-rate mortgage that won't require her to pay any principal for three years.

Thanks to her "interest-only" loan, the 911 police dispatcher was able to afford, barely, her first home. She now has a stake in California's sizzling real estate market. As her home increases in value, she plans to use some of that equity to pay down her credit cards.

But Herron is also setting herself up for a day of reckoning: Nov. 1, 2007.

That's when she has to start paying off her loan principal. If interest rates are higher than when she bought her home last fall — something many economists consider probable if not inevitable — her monthly payment will increase by as much as a third.

"I don't know what I'll do," said Herron, 32. "I'm already working overtime to pay my bills."

2004 - 48% of the homes bought in California were financed with interest only adjustable mortgage loans. Uchhh.

Posted by: b | Apr 6 2005 20:57 utc | 11

YOU can make money by using the Bible as your guide! How rare to have fundamentalism, Evangelical affection for Israel, and wacky Christian Science in one handy little article to share with your friends! The fun part is that the reference to Asher dipping his foot in oil refers to olive oil! I guess you can burn that in your multi-fuel Hum-Vee!

Oilman Seeks Gusher From God in Israel
(From Reuter News on AOL News 4/6/05

KIBBUTZ MAANIT, Israel (April 4) - A Texas oilman is using his Bible as a guide to finding oil in the Holy Land.
John Brown, a born-again Christian and founder of Zion Oil & Gas of Dallas, can quote chapter and verse about his latest drilling venture in Israel, where his company has an oil and gas exploration licence covering 96,000 acres.
"Most blessed of sons be Asher. Let him be favoured by his brothers and let him dip his foot in oil," Brown quotes from Moses's blessing to one of the 12 Tribes of Israel in Deuteronomy 33:24.
Standing next to a 177 foot high derrick at Kibbutz Maanit in northern Israel, Brown said the passage indicated there is oil lying beneath the biblical territory of the Tribe of Asher, where the agricultural community is located.
Geological surveys and an attempt by an Israeli-based company to find oil at the same site 10 years ago, a venture he said was abandoned for lack of funds, led Brown to pick the spot where new drilling will begin this week.
Brown said he raised money for "Project Joseph" from fellow evangelical Christians in the United States.
"From the investment standpoint, they certainly hope to have a return of the money," he said. "But the basis of it is Genesis, chapter 12."
In that passage, God promises to shower blessings on those who bless the "great nation" sired by the Hebrew patriarch Abraham

Posted by: diogenes | Apr 6 2005 22:06 utc | 12

the Hebrew patriarch Abraham

What makes someone think Abraham was a Hebrew?

Posted by: b | Apr 6 2005 22:16 utc | 13

A very good point B. If anything, Abraham was an..well... an Ur-ite?

Posted by: diogenes | Apr 6 2005 23:59 utc | 14

um, it is just me, or does it seem a bit ahistorial to read that passage and think that it was crude oil for that foot?

olive oil, maybe?

so, in other parts of the bible, when it talks about anointing someone's head with oil, was that 10w40?

and, does this mean that John Ashcroft was not really blessed when he substituted Crisco?

who knows, maybe the guy will find oil, but boy, that sounds whole spiel sounds like it was taken from First Elmer Gantry, Verse 1: Thou shalt find a sucker born every minute, and if thou createst a ponzi scheme, though shalt rake in the dough. Just be sureth to park it offshoreth.

Posted by: fauxreal | Apr 7 2005 0:15 utc | 15

fauxreal: Most of these idiots probably don't even realise that it was written in Hebrew, not in a boring confuse 17th century English translation that is so outdated it should be considered as a work of pure fiction by any serious 2005 scholar. But then, they probably think Julius Caesar and King Lear actually spoke in 1600 English - assuming they even know who these guys are.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Apr 7 2005 0:30 utc | 16

Do you want fries with that, lard-ass?

On obesity in currency expending units and rudeness among currency intake transaction enabling units.

Posted by: Svelte | Apr 7 2005 1:12 utc | 17

fauxreal: "...thou shalt rake in the dough..."

good belly-laugh faux

This stuff is reaching the critical point - I mean, it is standard procedure to do a rip-off whenever possible. Doesn't that mean our culture is going down the tubes?

Posted by: rapt | Apr 7 2005 1:42 utc | 18

Some thoughts on the ruling class and what we peasants can do about 'em, or what may be happening next...>Catherine Sundburg muses on 'What They Can't Control' -- they can't force us to watch TV, to buy useless/worthless stuff, to own SUVs, etc. -- not yet anyway. Sundburg argues for personal, individual revolt against the hypercapitalist, hyperconsumer culture: " We each have the power to change our own attitudes and actions; the choice is ours and ‘they’ cannot do a thing about it."

For those who (like Kassandra here) are staring fixedly down the ski slopes of Hubbert's Peak (Jerome worries about a Hobbesian, brutal expensive-energy future, Jared Diamond worries about the collapse of Anglo-American civilisation, etc), here are a couple of bar snacks.>What did Tainter really say? Well of course we should go read him in the original, but here's a summary of what Tainter (the guy that Diamond mysteriously failed to mention let alone cite) said about the "collapse" of civilisations.

Here,>a thoughtful blogger suggests that we "Imagine the end of the world in moderation. It's hard. We tend to imagine that either the "economy" will recover and we'll go on like 1999 forever, plus flying cars, or else one day "the apocalypse happens" and every component of the industrial system is utterly gone." The author goes on to challenge this dichotomy (almost Manichaean in its extremism) and suggest that as seen from the perspective of an individual human lifetime, the peak oil event is likely to induce a "slow collapse", not an Instant Mad Max [just add hot -- I mean radioactive -- water] movie scenario.

Lastly, in concert with these other three threads of thought, I return to>Hakim Bey and his concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone. It may be that a collapsing (in the Tainter sense) future means a multiplication of TAZ -- various flavours, some of which I would not care for myself -- as centralised control and the fossil-intensive technology that enables it, start to fray.

Maybe the future looks not so much monotonically, systematically, consistently grim and violent [a monocrop of Mad Maxes], as bewilderingly kaleidoscopic, fractal, astonishingly diverse and unpredictable? What our corporate masters want is the Taylorised future -- controlled consumers buying in controlled markets, working under close supervision in controlled workplaces, travelling only under the control of government agencies, using a controlled currency, investing in controlled and rigged financial schemes, etc. -- Company World. But it takes an awful lot of fossil fuel to keep that game going. Maybe the first victim of peak oil will be, not ourselves, but the web of control which corporate/wingnut power-elites are trying to tighten about us even now (with their biometric passports, their high-tech and high-energy "superweapons" and the like.

Or maybe I'm just looking for a silver lining. But if "our culture is going down the tubes" that may, just possibly, mean not only bad things but potentially some good things. There are aspects of "our culture" that I could watch flow away down those tubes without a tear of regret.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 7 2005 3:58 utc | 19

OK,>just one more snack and then I really must do something constructive. At this link, evidence that most people in the world think that Euroland should have more influence in world affairs -- and guess what the most highly regarded (has the most positive effect) country is? France! All right, you "arrogant French," it looks like your arrogance has foundation.

"The US edges out Russia for the dubious distinction of having the largest number of countries rating it as having a negative influence in the world, with 15 countries saying it has a negative influence and just 6 countries viewing it as positive."

USA, We're Number One!

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 7 2005 4:10 utc | 20

I can stop any time I want to...>Oh No -- It's Smellovision!

seriously, at one time (about 20 years ago) I would have said "Oh Boy! Nifty!" but now I think, "Oh Gawd -- how far can I get from anywhere that this horrible technology might be installed?" it was bad enough when characters in the Matrix movies walked through and past whispering holographic ads (ugh, ugh, ugh) -- just imagine them with scent, taste, and tactility. Jaysus. roll on, Hubbert's Peak.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 7 2005 4:17 utc | 21


I'm with above link #3 (thoughtful blogger). Have'nt seen anybody do that yet, one paragraph per bite through the whole apple. And not one bite could I disagree -- my favorite:

All the worst mass-killings of history have been top-down. Genocide happens not when central control stops but when it stops holding back. If the killers are not direct agents of government or industry, they are ordinary people who know they have both the protection and the ideological guidance of the biggest bad-ass of the moment. Usually the ideology is utopian: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, French revolutionaries, American "settlers," and now American neoconservatives and dominionists, all have justified their mass murders with a grandiose vision of a noble conflict to wipe the world clean and build heaven. The danger is not "terrorism" or "chaos" -- the danger is a new order that declares you the danger.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 7 2005 5:07 utc | 22

Thanks DeA!

That blogger is really a good read.

Posted by: b | Apr 7 2005 5:52 utc | 23

I don't know if this article on an
unwanted outbreak of democracy in Bahrein
has already been signalled here. If not, it's worth a look.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Apr 7 2005 7:03 utc | 24

Someones sneeking away

South Korea reducing troops in Iraq

South Korea, which has the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Iraq, is cutting its military presence by 270 soldiers to 3270, defence ministry officials have said.
South Korean media reports quoted US sources as saying the cuts had involved more than 500 military personnel and that Washington had not been notified of the move.

Posted by: b | Apr 7 2005 8:04 utc | 25>linkOn curveball and the strikeout

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 7 2005 10:03 utc | 26

@anna missed
also from the baltimoresun website, "curveball" redux. if the link doesn't work use to get to the story.Unfortunately, Iraq spy story seems destined to have a sequel

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 7 2005 13:14 utc | 27

Oh, and a little "Flashback" for ya: U.S. Develops Lethal New Bio-weapon Viruses

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 7 2005 13:18 utc | 28

HKOL, nice find on Bahrain; one really bad wing-nut acquantaince of mine is going there next week; hope the holiday isn't spoiled ;)

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 7 2005 14:14 utc | 29

DeA's link to Hakim Bey is an excellent read too. I gives a lot of structure to some of my internal thoughts/feelings on the conflict between govt and freedom.

I haven't yet found a definition of the term TAZ though, which seems to be central to the whole thing.

Anyone willing to help here?

Posted by: rapt | Apr 7 2005 16:28 utc | 30

temporary autonomous zones

find the rhizomes, baby.

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 7 2005 16:44 utc | 31

Today's high school shooting - latest

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 7 2005 17:06 utc | 32

DeA, rapt -
Not coincidently John Robb (you may not like him, but he has some good thoughts)describes TAZ within his Global Guerilla concept. He says the pirate network's temporary autonomous zones concept is used by todays guerilla networks and thinks about ways to shut them down.

If you prefer living in a TAZ read him to know what your enemy may do.

Posted by: b | Apr 7 2005 17:18 utc | 33

OT: that disembodied hand in the john robb picture is very unsettling.

Posted by: b real | Apr 7 2005 17:58 utc | 34

Casualties in Cairo blast

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 7 2005 18:29 utc | 35

Back in the day, when I was an undergrad and the world seemed a bit less dark and foreboding, we used to have really, really cheap movie fests. This was before ubiquitous home video -- the film club rented movies on reel, and there was a projector. For 50 cents or a buck you could see two or three films in an evening.

The fare varied considerably, but what I am remembering is the British films from the WWII era and shortly after. In the opening credits there was often a "chalkboard shot" (B and W of course) of some text affirming that this film had been approved by the British Board of Censors. And of course we all -- at an American college in the late 70's -- used to laugh like hell and throw paper balls at the screen, etc.

Well,>Looky, looky here.

The government-funded nonprofit group that oversees public broadcasting appointed two veteran journalists to critique the work of public radio and TV programming, following recent criticism over what is seen and heard on the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was created by Congress to pass federal funds to public broadcasters, appointed former NBC newsman Ken Bode and former Reader's Digest editor William Schulz to the new positions of CPB ombudsmen. Bode and Schultz periodically will review public radio and TV shows after the programs have aired and report on their journalistic balance and accuracy.

OK, it's not pre-emptive censorship, but it is a minder. (And for those who don't remember, Reader's Digest has always been one of the far right-hand stops on the Mighty Wurlitzer.) So now, producers and writers will -- O, nostalgic shades of the old Soviet media -- be worrying about the post-air-time "report card" issued by the ombudsmen. Welcome to "Fair and Balanced" public radio and TV?

Maybe I read too much into this, but it seems to me a straw in the wind.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 7 2005 18:58 utc | 36

Behind the New Iraq

It's emerging that the real meaty matters in Iraq - federalism, who gets oil-rich Kirkuk, and, crucially, what happens to the oil industry overall - will be settled by the constituent assembly. But two developments are ominous. The attribution of ministries for the "new" government once again will be sectarian. And every faction will remain armed to their teeth. The Kurds keep their independent peshmerga militia, and financed by Baghdad. The SCIRI keeps its Badr Brigades. The Da'wa Party also keeps its own militia. None of these will answer to Baghdad - which mobilizes its own, US-trained Iraqi security forces. Cynically, one might add that outside the political process, the Sunni resistance will also keep its thousands of fighters.

It's too soon to perceive the substantial details of the Shi'ite-Kurd deal - between them they hold more than two-thirds of the 275 seats in parliament. But what's happened since January 30 is definitely not a good omen.

Among the 275 parliamentary players involved in the nine-week political football, there were only 17 Sunni Arabs, as the majority of Sunni Arabs boycotted the elections. Clearly, these Sunnis are unlikely to be representative of the Sunni Arabs, who make up 20% of the population. The crucial Sunni Arab grievance is that because they are a demographic minority - although nobody really knows for sure, there is no census and there may be more Sunni Arabs than Kurds - this does not mean they have to accept their political marginalization as a fait accompli. The fact that Sunni Arabs involved in the political process are viewed by many Sunni Arabs as illegitimate explains why former president Yawer didn't want to become parliamentary Speaker.

Indeed, the manner in which the new Sunni Arab parliament Speaker, Hajim al-Hasani, was picked upset the Sunnis. Of the 17 Sunnis in parliament, three contested the elections on the UIA list - so they were unacceptable to the Sunnis themselves. Of the remaining 14, 12 were parliamentarians under Saddam Hussein or had some kind of Ba'athist credentials, so they were unacceptable to the Shi'ites and the Kurds.

So there were only two Sunnis with standing: Yawer and Hasani. Both are non-Ba'athist former exiles. Hasani, a native of Kirkuk and a former member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a successor of the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood, studied and lived for years in the US. And that goes to the heart of why he was not the Sunni first choice for Speaker: he had been an exile for too long; and to make matters worse, during the leveling of Fallujah - when he was one of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's ministers - he refused to resign, unlike the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Muhsin Abdul Hamid (the party later expelled Hasani).

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 7 2005 19:24 utc | 37

John Snow : Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac threaten the U.S. economy

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 7 2005 19:52 utc | 38

pbs and npr haven't attempted to be fair & balanced for a long, long time. executives that come from such straight-up propaganda operations as voa and radio marti have no place in a true public sphere. schulz will fit right in w/ his anti-commie fanatacism.

Posted by: b real | Apr 7 2005 20:03 utc | 39

Bangladeshi, Guinean 16-year-old girls detained in New York amid allegations of suicide bombing plot

……Investigators were concerned that girls might be recruited sometime in the future for a suicide mission by a suspect in an ongoing terrorism investigation, one of the officials said. They decided to detain the pair before they could become involved, the official added. …

Be careful who you let your kids talk to, but don’t worry too much about it because under our pre-emptive arrest program sometimes they’ll be picked up before they even get the chance to meet anyone who might lead them astray – unless we’re talking drugs and prostitution, those are still traditional and legitimate vocations. How’s that for Homeland Security?

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 7 2005 20:16 utc | 40>Apropos of not much except the craziness of the times -- Joe Bageant in a real, or imagined, correspondence with a crazy -- or sane -- man.

A slower pace and a more moving, moody tone than Bageant's signature style. He chides the Left for its lack of affect and its blanket rejection of the spiritual. Basically comes down to a rampaging rewrite of "Yea though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not charity..."

Meanwhile, the sheer carnage of our terrible national enterprise is staggering! Yet no one mentions the back rooms of research facilities filled with mutilated tortured beings kept alive for study or force-fed Drano to see how long it takes fifty-percent of them to die. I am always astonished at how very few people know what goes on in medical and corporate research labs, not to mention the meat industry. "For every action... " It's the nature of reality. It's physics. There will be a reckoning for the culture that creates a holocaust of that magnitude. The fact that there is something terribly wrong with anyone who does such a thing, and that this same "lack" will therefore affect EVERYTHING he/she does, eventually creating magnificently awful problems. Elevating carnage to cultural protocol is very dangerous. And official rationalization of it is disastrous. Why isn't someone talking about these things?" We have no examples. We have no ideals. We have only corruption and self-justifying silliness in service of capitalism as it runs further and more terribly amok.

Thus spake Bageant's "crazy man". But how crazy is he?

Elevating carnage to cultural protocol is very dangerous. And official rationalization of it is disastrous.

Sounds pretty darned sane to me.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 7 2005 20:39 utc | 41

Bageant. ;-) I often think about him and the Rude Pundit at the same time, for what it's worth. No doubt in my mind that both of them are as least as sane as I am. LOL.

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Apr 7 2005 22:19 utc | 42

when using inflamed language i imagine people forget the barbarism that lies behind language & the english languase as used by the vast majority of journalisys

it is a language that speaks of the massacre & deaths of the 'other' as if it is nothing. if they are mentioned & that is mostly not the case - they never have names, histories or destinies. i find that far crueler & less ignoble than the crude thought of lenin's ghost. it is impulsive & stupid & i imagine that that poster knows that having written posts here of quality. but the language of death is very considered & even on the left there is a speaking as if the death of a people or a culture are not worthy of anything other than a peripheral regard

as i sd here last week the natural death of the pope worries me not at all except in its pornographic pomp & its jangled jingoism. let me be clear on this christian culture is a peace of lying shit. mendacious in its morality. erroneous in its ethics

the murder of the hassan family at a 'checkpoint' in iraq is to me far more important in every detail. this family is as worthy of life as you & i yet they are dusted under the carpet of our civilisation as if they are nothing of note

we are going to pay for this reign of murder. we are going to pay for our neglect. we are going to pay for our informed detachement from the facts

& the fact are these - we are carrying out a war of anhilation against the arab people. it is being carried out in a way - that these ghosts will haunt our days & nights. they will not be forgotten.

& here i will again upset slothrop because i remember in detail & precision the suffering of the vietnamese people. the 3,000,000 dead while the american wept & wept ober their war - their self centred solipsistic songs about themselves. always about themselves. there is not one cultural project from america that treats what was done to the vietnamese people. not one. the films produced in america on this subject are beneath contempt - even when their approach is thought of as critical. they are not. they are deeply comprimised. the legitimise the deaths of the 'other' in all their works

latin americans are forgotten. in costa gavras's 'missing' it is the american we are supposed to care about meanwhile many thousands of others are forgotten in chile & all over latin america

the deaths of indonesians does not matter. 'the year of living dangerously' is about a journalist

on & on the deaths of others of the 'other' is used to create tears for the americans. i cannot & will not. the film maker will say we use the american subject as a means of opening up the question to the greatest number of people. this is simply never true. the films, the books & the art legitimise murder.; they are 'fascinatin' fascism. the real people are forgotten. always forgotten. that to me is obscene.

but it is considered. it is not an accident that american culture cannot remember. refuses to remember.

american culture was borne in genocide & it has continued in this vein ever since. that cannot be seriouslly doubted

yes yes. i am an olf fashioned fellow. the 'spiritual truths' of the indigenous people on many continents are the real treasure of the country. they are the real memory. they constitute the honourable impulse

white christian culture celebrates death in as orgiastic a way as any islamic fundamentalist

it is rotten to the core & its language merely the obscene clothing to hide the most terrible deeds

as my old american comrades would say - john brown - live like him

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 7 2005 22:32 utc | 43

Saw something in a swedish paper about Berlusconi planning to call early elections this fall (instead of having them next spring).

Dan of steele,
you are in Italy if I am not mistaken. Do you know why? Seeing he lost the local elections big time it does not make sence to me. Is his coalition partners bailing or what?

Any other person(s) with insights in Italian politics are of course also welcome to answer.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Apr 8 2005 0:28 utc | 44

b - i guess you can delete this - I was just curious.

Who Links Here

Posted by: DM | Apr 8 2005 1:58 utc | 45

Finished your cookies? Then have some more.

Posted by: Spycatcher | Apr 8 2005 2:20 utc | 46

Bolton under investigation for trying to muddy intelligence re Cuba's biological weapons capabilities

These guys have always been itching to invade somebody, haven't they?

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 8 2005 3:21 utc | 47

DeA posted about the saddling & bridling of npr/cpb:
"OK, it's not pre-emptive censorship, but it is a minder. (And for those who don't remember, Reader's Digest has always been one of the far right-hand stops on the Mighty Wurlitzer.) So now, producers and writers will -- O, nostalgic shades of the old Soviet media -- be worrying about the post-air-time "report card" issued by the ombudsmen. Welcome to "Fair and Balanced" public radio and TV?

Maybe I read too much into this, but it seems to me a straw in the wind."

Straw in the Wind. How about the Triumph of Rupert Murdoch. Trying to ascertain truth or reality is no longer the ideal.

But then Amy Goodman's funders have already imposed this standard on her - Pirates & Fascists now regularly appear out of the bowels of AEI, etc. doing little "debates".

Think forward from this story, consider what they did to Goodman, & ask yourself how far are we from the time when NO ONE WILL BE ALLOWED TO APPEAR ON ANY NPR STATION UNLESS THE FASCISTS/PIRATES APPEAR TO REBUT THEM?? Will our local NPR affiliate be able to broadcast an hour lecture of Chomsky, David Korten, Arundhati they now regularly do? Or will the Murdochization only apply to the news? Or will they be too frightened to try? (Our wonderful little affiliate run by a school district is already under assault by the fascists.)

(I've already stopped listening to NPR 'cuz these bastards are always around. Hope they have fun when it comes time for fund-raising. But then, never over-estimate the Sheeple I suppose.)

Anybody else wonder why this should apply to NPR but not Limbaugh??

Posted by: jj | Apr 8 2005 3:26 utc | 48

They decided to detain the pair before they could become involved, the official added.

@Nugget - you shouldn't worry too much - not until bloggers and barflies start mysteriously disappearing. I keep an eye on people like Kurt Nimmo - and don't even start to worry unless he stops posting for more than 3 or 4 days.

Posted by: DM | Apr 8 2005 4:02 utc | 49

rememberinggiap - right on, brother. communication - context - community. you are so correct.

one time i read a quote from floyd henry allport that i think is crucial to effecting any change, if it is indeed possible at all: our consciousness of ourselves is largely a reflection of the consciousness which others have of idea of myself is rather my own idea of my neighbor's view of me. so long as our neighbors and victims do not continuously speak the truth about us collectively, we will continue collectively killing, ourselves included, w/ little regard for others. getting past the strangling mass-media feeding tubes at a societal level is a tough proposition in this era of big & little murdochs and increasing media concentration so the key has to be education at the individual level. thank goodness for the signs of humanity present in this community.

Posted by: b real | Apr 8 2005 15:26 utc | 50>Iraq Falls Apart.

Surely some partition arrangement benefits U.S.?

Damn. Where's Pat?

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 8 2005 15:45 utc | 51>Saving the Village

OK. I pulled this from cursor, but it made my jaw drop.

Desperation causes many necessary beliefs.

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 8 2005 15:54 utc | 52

BushMath: 1+1 = minus $1.7 Trillion

Posted by: Fran | Apr 8 2005 16:02 utc | 53

Slothrop, at this stage it's a matter of the least disadvantageous outcome for the US not the most beneficial. What they've started could lead to the whole region going up in flames. Probably won't do, but could, and god knows the arrogant fools in the US administration can't hell but throw matches and see if anything catches.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 8 2005 16:05 utc | 54

haven't found a jukebox in this joint yet, but in the meantime here's a good feature on afrobeat

Posted by: b real | Apr 8 2005 17:51 utc | 55

I can't help noticing that ad image at the upper right on the Hill (Saving the Village link above). It says boldly "FREEDOM" illustrated by -- guess what -- several different flavours of ice cream. With the subtitle "Americans are free to choose." Could you ask for a more succinct reduction of "freedom" to consumer choice, or a more deft infantilisation of the choosing public/consumer? We aren't even invited to choose between important things like two different doctors, two or more schools for our kids, two different complicated real estate deals, two or more different jobs -- no, our choices are as trivial as which flavour of ice cream to order at the counter. The semiotics of American advertising tell us more about "elite theory" than a shelf full of books imho.

(sigh) it is time for me to transcribe, laboriously, Kofsky's brilliant Appendix on conspiracy theories. maybe this weekend.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 8 2005 19:13 utc | 56

Looks like under the radar of the Iraq events a lot of stuff is happening in South America.

Who's Afraid Of Venezuela-Cuba Alliance?

For a long time there was only one country in Latin America offering free health care to all its citizens. Now there are two. The governments of both countries regard health care as a basic human right. So Cuba, rich in health care, and Venezuela, rich in oil, have arranged a barter deal for the benefit of each population. This would seem to be a major historical example of beneficial free trade. Who could possibly object?

One example is literacy: "Both parties will work together and in coordination with other Latin American countries to eradicate illiteracy in third countries" (Article 5). The Cuban teaching method known as "Si se puede" (Yes I can) is rapidly increasing literacy among Venezuelans and is already used in many other countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Peru. What could be more conducive to creating the democracy that George Bush claims to want to bring to the world? Why should Washington not support the expansion of literacy that is a necessity for true democracy?

The aim "to eradicate illiteracy in third countries" strikes fear in the Bush administration. In that same interview last October, Rice said "the key" to stopping Hugo Chávez "is to mobilize the region to both watch him and be vigilant about him and to pressure him." She explained, "We can't do it alone....But the OAS (Organization of American States) can do a lot." On November 20, with Rice on her way to the State Department, The Washington Post followed up with an editorial called "Watch Venezuela," advising that Rice's plan to isolate Chávez "sounds like a wise policy."

With Cuban doctors making a difference in the world, fear of the Cuban example increases among those who have no intention of dealing with the great challenges of our time: the millions of people around the world without health care and without literacy. Writing from Honduras in her February 18 column, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, The Wall Street Journal's senior editorial page writer and one of the most vociferous opponents of both Castro and Chávez, reports that Cuba sent 350 doctors to Honduras in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc in a country already poverty-stricken. O'Grady is concerned that the Cuban doctors have stayed to look after Honduran people and that 600 Hondurans are studying medicine in Cuba so that they can return to provide medical care for their people. O'Grady calls the Cuban doctors "Fidel's foot soldiers" with "the potential for soft indoctrination, a kind of tilling the soil in the poor countryside so that it is ready when political opportunity presents itself as it has in Venezuela of late." To a rational human being, Cuba's ability to provide health care and Venezuela's eagerness to work with Cuba to provide health care present quite a different potential: that is, human potential for unselfish cooperation.

And the Bush paranoia seem to increase.

Posted by: Fran | Apr 8 2005 20:06 utc | 57>An Excess of Democracy?

At least nine US states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, and West Virginia have either passed or introduced legislation that would preempt local cities and counties from restricting the sale of genetically modified seeds.

The bills are viewed as a nationally coordinated attempt to block GMO-free ordinances similar to those approved by citizens in Mendocino and Marin counties in California in 2004.

In March, Iowa's House of Representative passed a bill, House File 642, that would preempt "a local governmental entity from adopting or enforcing legislation which relates to the production, use, advertising, sale, distribution, storage, transportation, formulation, packaging, labeling, certification, or registration of agricultural seed." A similar bill was introduced into the Iowa Senate.

Mustn't allow the plebes to initiate those pesky populist bills and ordinances.... BTW where are the gun-totin' States' Rights gang when we need 'em?

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 8 2005 20:23 utc | 58

What A Difference Three Years Can Make: Bush Rebuffed in Venezuela (Again)

Though the U.S. has tried to diplomatically isolate Chavez, with State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher accusing Venezuela of playing a “destabilizing role” in regional affairs, these efforts have not yielded tangible result. To the contrary: U.S. efforts to pressure Venezuela through third parties such as Spain seem to have backfired.

Posted by: b real | Apr 8 2005 21:06 utc | 59

b real

yes, bush seems to be playing out a very bad film by john ford or anthony manne - hopefully it can only get worse

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 8 2005 21:23 utc | 60

Who forged the Niger documents?

Do we know who produced those documents? Because there’s some suspicion ...

I think I do, but I’d rather not speak about it right now, because I don’t think it’s a proven case ...

If I said “Michael Ledeen” ?

You’d be very close . . .

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 8 2005 21:52 utc | 61

(sigh) it is time for me to transcribe, laboriously, Kofsky's brilliant Appendix on conspiracy theories. maybe this weekend.

@DeAnander. I know you would die rather than pay for software, but if you buy yourself even a cheap (USD50), desktop scanner it should come complete with OCR software. You could then unlaboriously avail us with fair use portions of Kofsky.

Posted by: DM | Apr 8 2005 22:19 utc | 62

Is this General Satler headed to Camp Pendelton for good? Is he going against his will? Wouldn't he rather stay in Fallujah, and finish the job as he sees it?

What's with these American generals? They no sooner perfect their Arabic than they head off for some Anglophone post or other....

This can't be the best example for junior officers to follow....

Posted by: alabama | Apr 8 2005 22:43 utc | 63

"Fallujuh is the future of Iraq"

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 8 2005 22:48 utc | 64

Mike Ledeen is a very helpful chap - at least since he got thrown out of academia & dumped his wife & child/children, happily for them, and found his true calling of eroticizing & implementing male violence. His writings are the most fun of any of the clowns 'cuz he most overtly expresses the Pornography of Power. I wish I had my favorite one handy to link, but if you google about you can get the idea.

So, it's hardly surprising he'd do whatever is necessary to advance his sexual agenda of getting all those virile young men marching off to war, as he expresses it. Read him a bit, & you'd bet anything that he's the one who introduced Gannon-Guckert to Rove. (He is/was Rove's adviser on Iran.)

Posted by: jj | Apr 9 2005 2:01 utc | 65

Jihad al-Pharmacy hots up

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 9 2005 2:35 utc | 66>Mike Whitney is in full-on Doom Mode

The country has been intentionally plundered and will eventually wind up in the hands of its creditors as Bush and his lieutenants planned from the very beginning. Those who don't believe this should note the methodical way that the deficits have been produced at (around) $450 billion per year; a systematic and orderly siphoning off of the nation's future. The value of the dollar and the increasing national debt follow exactly the same (deliberate) downward trajectory.

This same Ponzi scheme has been carried out repeatedly by the IMF and World Bank throughout the world; Argentina being the last dramatic illustration. (Argentina's economic collapse occurred when its trade deficit was running at 4%; right now ours is at an unprecedented 6%.) Bankruptcy is a fairly straight forward way of delivering valuable public assets and resources to collaborative industries, and of annihilating national sovereignty. After a nation is successfully driven to destitution, public policy decisions are made by creditors and not by representatives of the people. (Enter, Paul Wolfowitz)

Did Americans really believe they could avoid a similar fate?

If so, they'd better forget about it, because the hammer is about to come down big-time, and the collateral damage will be huge.

OK, I continue to be schizoid on this subject of "whether it is time to panic yet" and I wish someone could convince me one way or the other. I know a teeny bit about the collapse of Argentina, having for a while had a pen pal there who reported (when the power was on and the networks were up) via email. It was not slow (as Ran Prieur suggests the American collapse will be) and ordinary Argentinians (politically astute ones anyway) knew damn well what was happening and whose fault it was. So I have evidence that the IMF can and does crash national economies when it deems them "naughty" and in need of "discipline" (i.e. ripe for skinning and wholesale piratisation) -- and that the human suffering was considerable and is not over. Economic collapse can happen fast.

However, there is always the cynical possibility that vocal Prophets of Doom on the US financial scene are those who have already invested in gold, or are buddies with folks in the precious metals investment biz, trying to talk up a Perfect Storm scenario so as to spook everyone into rushing out and buying the yellow stuff. OK, that's pretty damn cynical. But a lot of people made out like bandits during the Y2K scare (not to mention the duct tape and Visqueen boom courtesy of Ridge and his stupid "alerts") by purveying falling-sky predictions.

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether the prophet on the street corner is trying to warn us or just to herd us. B, Jerome, and some of our other regulars are far more "in touch" with the weird world of abstract money than a prole like myself; I'd sure like to know whether they consider this alarmism a kind of tinfoil hattery, or words of warning to be taken seriously. Is there really any substantial chance of a major market crash w/in the calendar year? Not that there is much I could do about it anyway :-( but I'd kinda like to know whether to dismiss Whitney as a Chicken Littlist or take him seriously and maybe buy a couple more solar panels :-)

inquiring (and anxious) minds would like to know. is it any comfort to identify the engine plate on the train that barrels down on you as you lie tied to the tracks? maybe so...

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 9 2005 4:11 utc | 67

De- asks:
" Is there really any substantial chance of a major market crash w/in the calendar year?"

Coming from a business monoculture family myself, my capacity for reason ceases when the dollar sign appears, but here's what Chalmer's Johnson wrote in an article entitled "Wake Up!" on 3/31/05:

" Sinking the Ship of State

First, the United States faces the imminent danger of bankruptcy, which, if it occurs, will render all further discussion of foreign policy moot. Within the next few months, the mother of all financial crises could ruin us and turn us into a North American version of Argentina, once the richest country in South America. To avoid this we must bring our massive trade and fiscal deficits under control and signal to the rest of the world that we understand elementary public finance and are not suicidally indifferent to our mounting debts."


And you can infer that things could get worse more quickly if Senate, in hearings beginning Monday, approves John Bolton's nomination to be UN Ambass. (Listen to interview on today w/Phyllis Benis on the subject. We're under such sustained assault from so many directions here, that it's easy for us to overlook how seriously destructive this will be for xUS relations w/the world that is currently keeping us afloat financially.)

Posted by: jj | Apr 9 2005 5:01 utc | 68>US attempts to redefine China as "illegal currency manipulator"

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 9 2005 5:48 utc | 69

I can't help noticing that ad image... It says boldly "FREEDOM" illustrated by -- guess what -- several different flavours of ice cream. With the subtitle "Americans are free to choose." Could you ask for a more succinct reduction of "freedom" to consumer choice, or a more deft infantilisation of the choosing public/consumer?

nice catch. made me reach for the stuart ewen -

Integrating the mass consumption of goods into the negative political process of combatting bolshevism and "class" politics in general, consumerism...assumed a positive political character in the ideology of business. Within the political ideology of consumption, democracy emerged as a natural expression of American industrial production - if not a by-product of the commodity system. The equation of the consumption of goods with political freedom made such a configuation possible. Expounding on the notion of political democracy, [Edward] Filene noted that within the expanding industrial context, "the masses must be taken into full citizenship. They must achieve, not mere literacy, but culture." The culture to which he referred was one based on the process of "fact-finding" - acquainting oneself with the variety of goods with which one might live in this "machine civilization." For consumer economist Elizabeth Hoyt, a woman who shared the view of consumption as a democratizing process, the definition of this democratic culture was part of a task by which industry determined "for a people what they consider worth consuming." Yet within each of these notions of political democracy, there was an implicit acceptance of the centralization of the political process. Democracy was never treated as something that flowed out of people's needs or desires, but was rather an expression of people's ability to participate in and emulate the "pluralism of values" which were paraded before people and which filtered downward from the directors of business enterprise."

-- stuart ewen, captains of consciousness: advertising and the social roots fo the consumer culture

assemble the freedom pie regiments. this is what democracy tastes like.

Posted by: b real | Apr 9 2005 6:33 utc | 70

15 Iraqi soldiers killed near Latifiyah

Will that put a damper on today's 'anniversary celebrations'? Probably not. In a parallel universe it IS an 'anniversary celebration'.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 9 2005 7:19 utc | 71

Everyday reading around the blogs the kassandra epoch gains increasing definition, and everyday the corporate media while oblivious shows signs of running up against the emerging truth with either more obvious smoke and mirror ala DeLay or a kind of subtle disengagement to avoid the enevitable rope burn of towing to strong a line. What happens when such a perception dawns upon the general population is hard to predict, but my guess is the republicans are in the initial stages of a death spiral, politically. Clearly, whats been happening is the consolidation of capital via corporate power has unleashed an ever diminishing future prospect upon an unwitting public that has been ginned into thinking personal power resides in loyality to ideology. This Rovian yarn has been spun into a parachute of exceptionalist glory that is reliant upon individual failure that can be ironocally demonised as Gods will. While this may be the plan, I doubt the (religious) American consciousness is so pious as to willingly take the vow of poverty, personally, and for real. Really, can you keep touting economic recovery! on the way, for 6 or 8 years? No I think the unravelling has begun, the absurdity of it all, like waking up, hung over and not remembering how you got into that cheap motel or what you did -- or what to do now. And surely, bad things have happened.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 9 2005 11:15 utc | 72

Somewhere in a recent thread it was argued nazism was popularized by improvements in the standard of living. This claim intended to disprove the role of fascist ideology in cultivating popular legitimation for a fascist tyranny.

This is partly true, however, more important, is the conjunction of fascist ideology (statism, external threat, nationalism, racism) with the very deep exploitation of labor intended to improve profits.


If, on the other hand, capital succeeds in decisively weakening, or even smashing, the trade unions and all other organizations of the working-class - including their political organization; if it succeeds in atomizing and intimidating the proletariat to such an extent that any form of collective defence becomes impossible and workers are once more relegated to the point from which they started - in other words, the 'ideal' situation, from the point of view of capital, of universal competition of worker against worker, then it is quite possible 1) to use the pressure of unemployment to bring about a significant reduction in real wages; 2) to prevent wages returning to their previous level even in the phase of upswing following a crisis, i.e., to lower the value of the commodity of labour-power in the long term; 3) to force the price of the commodity of labour-power down, by means of manipulations, deductions and various swindles, even below this already diminished value; 4) simultaneously to achieve a significant increase in the average social intensity of labour and even to attempt, in tendency, to prolong the working day. The outcome of all these changes can only be a rapid and massive rise in the rate of surplus-value.

This is exactly what occurred in Germany following the victory of Fascism under Hitler. The pressure of mass unemployment had forced German workers to bear with significant wage reductions in the years 1929-1932. These were less catastrophic in real than in nominal terms, for there was a simultaneous fall in the price of consumer goods - but they were nonetheless considerable. The average gross hourly wage fell from the index figure of 129.5 in 1929 to 94.6 in 1932, i.e., by more than 35%. The average hourly wage of skilled workers in 17 branches of industry dropped from 95.9 pfennigs in 1929 to 70.5 pfennigs, i.e., by 27%; in the case of unskilled workers the drop was less severe: from 75.2 to 62.3 pfennigs, or only 17%. These percentages must be multiplied by the fall-back in the hours worked. However, since the price of foodstuffs declined by nearly 20% in the same period, and the price of industrial goods fell by a similarly high percentage, the decline in real wages was not as steep as would appear from the abrupt plunge of nominal wages. At any rate, it was not as grave as might have been assumed with unemployment near the 6,000,000 mark and a catastrophic collapse in profits.='' The rate of surplusvalue fell - as it mostly does in severe economic crises - partly because of the devalorization of the commodities embodying surplusvalue, and partly because a portion of the surplus-value produced could not be realized, but most of all because the production of surplus-value was itself declining due to part-time work and the decrease in the number of hours worked, since it is not possible to reduce the number of working hours necessary to reproduce labourpower exactly as much as the length of the total working day.

Thus, fascism is an excellent means of extracting profits via the ideologically justified exploitation of workers.

Now just consider all those, especially white-collar, workers taking it on the chin now, making the necessary sacrifices to realize the "American Dream" always under attack by muslims, et al. ...

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 9 2005 21:24 utc | 73

Short version of my post: fascism makes possible the preconditions of improved profits by stripping away in a more radical way workers' organizational power and also by expanding armament production needed to meet the demand caused by fascist wars of aggression.

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 9 2005 21:32 utc | 74

@ ASKOD It is his coalition
partners bailing out, especially
the UDC, the part of the old
DC that migrated to Berlusconi's
party, Forza Italia, and to a lesser extend the neo-fascist
Alleanza Nazionale. The left (or at least what passes for
"la sinistra" these days) won
some rather amazing victories
in these "regional elections",
including Nicchi Vendola in Puglia, an openly gay candidate
from Rifondazione Communista who won in Puglia, one of the most culturally and politically conservative parts of Italy. In Lazio (Rome) too there was a surprising victory of the left
against Francesco Storace, a neo-fascist who had the
open support of both Cardinal Ruini and Giulio Andreotti (but
was bitterly opposed by il duce's granddaughter Alessandra
Mussolini after a rather clumsy attempt by Storace's allies to keep her party off the ballot) .
The leftist victory was surprising in its scale, and has sown confusion, discord and
near panic
within the ranks of Berlusconi's rightist coalition. One hopes that finally Berlusca has become "just another politician", and not the charismatic political star he has been for many here in Italy. Still, if history is any guide, by the time next years parliamentary elections roll around, the left will have found a way to dissipate its present popularity.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Apr 11 2005 10:31 utc | 75

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