Friday, January 29, 2010

Chomsky and Klein on Uncle O.



And on the late Howard Zinn.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lost It

In the wake of Obama channeling Reagan (straight from hell) in his State of the Corporation speech, looks like most of the remaining print and broadcast Hope-a-Dopes have jumped off Good Ship "Yes, We Can!"

Paul Craig Roberts:
The election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate by Democratic voters in Massachusetts sends President Obama a message. Voters perceive that Obama’s administration has morphed into a Bush-Cheney government. Obama has reneged on every promise he made, from ending wars, to closing Gitmo, to providing health care for Americans, to curtailing the domestic police state, to putting the interests of dispossessed Americans ahead of the interests of the rich banksters who robbed Americans of their homes and pensions. But what can Obama do other then spout more rhetoric?
Bob Herbert:
The anti-Iraq war candidate who escalated the war in Afghanistan; the opponent of health insurance mandates who made a mandate to buy insurance the centerpiece of his plan; the president who stocked his administration with Wall Street insiders and went to the mat for the banks and big corporations, but who is now trying to present himself as a born-again populist. Who is Barack Obama? If Americans don’t get the answer soon, or don’t like the answer, the president’s current problems will look like a walk in the park.
Olbermann:



Maddow:



Joan Walsh(!!):
Who do they think they're fooling? If they're telling the truth, and dozens of social programs will be exempt from the freeze, or even increased -- hey, we can even pass a second stimulus! -- then why is Obama selling what he's doing as a freeze? To win Republican support? Not gonna happen. To make Evan Bayh happy? (The freeze is exactly what Bayh recommended to Bloomberg's Al Hunt on Friday.) Who cares? And do they think all Republicans are stupid and/or completely cut off from the liberal blogosphere, so they won't learn that this is just a pretend freeze, that will let Democrats grow social spending for their priorities? Bernstein said it would let Obama cut "wasteful spending" and thwart the lobbyists who defend every imaginable government program. Really? If everyone knows the freeze isn't real, and it's just about proving your program is important to the recovery or health care or some other protected priority, it will be a lobbyists' free for all anyway.
Andrew Leonard:
If ever there was a time to pull out the old Karl Marx chestnut, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce," that moment is now. Prominent members of Obama's own administration have warned against repeating the errors of 1937, namely, Franklin Roosevelt's decision to cut spending and balance the budget too quickly, thus strangling a nascent recovery from the Great Depression. But with the U.S. economy far from healthy, the president has decided, once again, to bow to the political winds and make the deficit priority number one. The Times' Jackie Calmes writes that the move "would signal to voters, Wall Street and other nations that Mr. Obama is willing to make some tough decisions at a time when the deficit and the national debt, in the view of some economists, have reached levels that undermine the nation's long-term prosperity." Strangely, however, bond investors have yet to signal in any meaningful way that they are worried about current levels of debt. The U.S. government is still able to borrow on extraordinarily good terms. So what this really looks like is the exact opposite of a tough decision. As Obama has stressed all year long, substantively reducing the deficit will require addressing booming health care costs. So "a tough decision" would be fighting for health care reform. Or pushing for a climate change bill with teeth. Or banging the drums for a second stimulus. Those would also be tough! A spending freeze, on the other hand, is nothing but a gimmick aimed at shoring up political support. It will be perceived as exactly that, and the end result will be Obama looking weaker than ever.
Bob Scheer:
Shame on Obama for now telling us after wasting many trillions on Wall Street and the Pentagon, that he will now seek to balance the biggest indebtedness in U.S. history not by cutting from that greasy pork but rather into the bone of our civic life, found in funding for schools and other desperately needed social services. That is the opposite of a New Deal for ordinary folks in need of their government’s assistance more than at any other time since the days of that last great Democratic president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Will we ever have another?
Robert Reich:
Obama’s package of middle-class benefits is small potatoes. They’re worthwhile but they pale relative to the size and scale of the challenge America’s middle class is now facing. Obama can no longer afford to come up with lists of nice things to do. At the least, he’s got to do two very big and important things: 1) Enact a second stimulus. It should mainly focus on bailing out state and local governments that are now cutting services and raising taxes, and squeezing the middle class. This would be the best way to reinvigorate the economy quickly. 2) Help distressed homeowners by allowing them to include their mortgage debt in personal bankruptcy -- which will give them far more bargaining leverage with mortgage lenders. (Wall Street hates this.) Yet instead of moving in this direction, Obama is moving in the opposite one. His three-year freeze on a large portion of discretionary spending will make it impossible for him to do much of anything for the middle class that’s important. Chalk up another win for Wall Street, another loss for Main.
And Paul Krugman:
These days quite a few people are frustrated with President Obama’s failure to challenge conservative ideology. The spending freeze — about which the best thing you can say in its favor is that it’s a transparently cynical PR stunt — has, for many, been the final straw: rhetorically, it’s a complete concession to Reaganism. But why should we be surprised? Here’s one from the vault. Two years ago, I was deeply frustrated with Obama’s apparent endorsement of the Reagan myth. There was a lot of delusion among progressives who convinced themselves, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, that Obama was a strong champion of their values. He wasn’t and isn’t. That doesn’t mean that there’s no difference between the parties, that everything would have been the same if McCain had won. But progressives are in the process of losing a big chance to change the narrative, and that’s largely because they have a leader who never had any inclination to do so.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Coup d’état Against the Rule of Law

As Obama jokes with Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson:
White House lawyers are mulling the legality of proposed attempts to assassinate an American citizen, Anwar al Awlaki, who is believed to be part of the leadership of the al Qaeda group in Yemen, according to two people briefed by U.S. intelligence officials.

One of the people briefed said opportunities to "take out" Awlaki "may have been missed" because of the legal questions surrounding a lethal attack which would specifically target an American citizen.

A spokesperson said the White House declined to comment.

Hundreds of FBI and other federal agents will fan out this week as part of a secret operation to pursue leads about Americans with connections to Yemen that were previously dismissed as not significant, according to law enforcement officials.
Not arrest, detain, interrogate, and try Awlaki -- no, murder him outright.

The FBI and "other federal agents" (Blackwater perhaps?) will fan out this week? Will every US citizen who ever visited Yemen be arrested? Sent to Gitmo or Bagram? Disappeared? Perhaps given the same treatment accorded by the FBI and "other federal agents" to Mark Clark and Fred Hampton?

I defy anyone to see daylight between the Obama Administration approach to law and that showed by the pre-1938 Third Reich.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

World War II Ended 65 Years Ago

So get the hell out of Okinawa.
TOKYO — A candidate who opposes the relocation of an American air base on Okinawa won a crucial mayoral election on Sunday, raising pressure on Japan’s prime minister to move the base off the island, a move opposed by the United States.

The election in the small city of Nago could force Japan to scrap, or at least significantly modify, a 2006 deal with the United States to build a replacement facility in the city for the busy Futenma United States Marine air station. The base is currently in a crowded part of the southern Japanese island.

The fate of that deal has already become the focus of a growing diplomatic rift between the United States and Japan, its closest Asian ally. The Obama administration has been pushing Japan to honor the deal, but the new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has said he will take until May to decide whether to support it or name a new site for the base.

Political experts have said losing Nago as a site for the base would complicate Mr. Hatoyama’s decision, because few other Japanese communities appear willing to host the base and its noisy helicopters.
Hatoyama Yukio has turned out to be everything Barack Obama has not. Noisy helicopters, rampaging crime and corruption, disgusting pollution, the daily running down (or over) of Okinawans by US military vehicles, non-prosecuted murder, and the regular rape of local adolescent girls by Bwana: time is up.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Steel

Frank Rich has a fine Sunday column about what Barack Obama may be forced to do going forward: grow a backbone. His column ends with an example from history:
Last year the president pointedly studied J.F.K.’s decision-making process on Vietnam while seeking the way forward in Afghanistan. In the end, he didn’t emulate his predecessor and escalated the war. We’ll see how that turns out. Meanwhile, Obama might look at another pivotal moment in the Kennedy presidency — and this time heed the example.

The incident unfolded in April 1962 — some 15 months into the new president’s term — when J.F.K. was infuriated by the U.S. Steel chairman’s decision to break a White House-brokered labor-management contract agreement and raise the price of steel (but not wages). Kennedy was no radical. He hailed from the American elite — like Obama, a product of Harvard, but, unlike Obama, the patrician scion of a wealthy family. And yet he, like that other Harvard patrician, F.D.R., had no hang-ups about battling his own class.

Kennedy didn’t settle for the generic populist rhetoric of Obama’s latest threats to “fight” unspecified bankers some indeterminate day. He instead took the strong action of dressing down U.S. Steel by name. As Richard Reeves writes in his book “President Kennedy,” reporters were left “literally gasping.” The young president called out big steel for threatening “economic recovery and stability” while Americans risked their lives in Southeast Asia. J.F.K. threatened to sic his brother’s Justice Department on corporate records and then held firm as his opponents likened his flex of muscle to the power grabs of Hitler and Mussolini. (Sound familiar?) U.S. Steel capitulated in two days. The Times soon reported on its front page that Kennedy was at “a high point in popular support.”
As Rich mentions, Kennedy's rage expressed itself in more than just Obama-ian words. Attorney General Robert Kennedy used the FBI (much to the displeasure of J. Edgar Hoover) to waken steel company executives in the middle of the night, pat them down, bug their phones, have them followed, threaten them with ending price supports and tax breaks. Best of all: vowing to award all future federal steel contracts to only middle- or lower-level steel companies. As Rich also points out, it worked.

(Until Dallas.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Olbermann On

He's often an annoying hysteric, but Reich Justice Minister John Roberts -- poster apparatchik for sexually-abused Catholic boys -- ended American democracy today, so hysteria is certainly in order.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

World Without End

It's over.

Arguments can be made that the American Republic, moribund for decades, actually passed away on 9/11/01. Or maybe it was 12/13/00, the day the US Supreme Court ratifed George W. Bush's theft of the 2000 Presidential election. Perhaps it was much longer ago than that: 11/4/80 perhaps, the night Reaganism triumphed. Or, 11/22/63.

No. The American Republic died today, in the form of yet another Supreme Court decision.
Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The ruling was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace will corrupt democracy.

The 5-to-4 decision was a doctrinal earthquake but also a political and practical one. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision, which also applies to labor unions and other organizations, to reshape the way elections are conducted.
(How nice the decision also applies to labor unions -- here's hoping John L. Lewis's war chest is flush.)

Endgame. The decision is the moment totalitarian Corporatists have been moving toward since November 1980: a world with an absolute connection between wealth and political influence; a world with no connection between public needs and public policy. How tragic the American Democratic Experiment will soon result, less than 250 years since it started, in the most total of totalitarian states, one where the air we breathe, the water we drink, the hopes and dreams we have for our children will all be commodified.

So it's over. American politics, during the best of times mostly a war among (usually hidden) elites, yet previously with enough cracks in the system to allow true citizen influence -- now has all the cracks paved over.

Welcome to 1936 Germany, the Pepsi-Cola version.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Sometimes it all just comes together. How lovely that the fine people of Massachusetts kicked Barack Obama in the nuts on the one-year anniversary of his ascension. (Those who claim the clear Republican win -- of Jack Kennedy's old seat! -- was not all about Obama are media-liars.) What a foul, reactionary year it's been!


A year ago today, millions of people around the world prayed the long, 30-year-period of American reaction had finally ended. Some 2,000,000 of them gathered in Washington DC to celebrate the dawning of a New Age. What the world and America received instead were an endless (continuing) series of actions, appointments, and policy pronouncements turning the hopes into rage, despair, confusion, and the considerable strengthening of the belief that Establishment politics never really matter, that the corporate capitalist house always wins.

The turn began within minutes of Obama taking his oath. The world and the times waited for an Inaugural Address to rival Kennedy's or FDR's. Yet before making any reference to the social and economic crisis gripping America and the world, Obama began instead with a re-declaration of the United States War on Terror. He then went on to assert that the worldwide financial collapse was the fault of the American people, when in fact it was a catastrophe entirely the making of the vampire ruling class. And off we go . . .

Obama maintained, even strengthened, the US occupation of Iraq.

He massively increased troop levels in Afghanistan, and expanded that war into Pakistan.

In several major speeches, Obama explicitly endorsed and expanded the Bush-Cheney doctrine of preventive war. (Formerly known as "aggressive war" at Nuremberg.)

He began a war against Yemen.

He increased threats against Iran, including the recent American "wink" leading to the Israeli assassination of a top Iranian scientist, murdered in Tehran.

The earthquake in Haiti has been used to carry out a military occupation of the country, a Katrina-ization of Haiti.

Guantanamo remains open.

Torture and renditions continue, often at an acclerated pace.

Obama insisted that no one from the Bush-Cheney Administration or CIA will be held accountable for past war crimes and violations of international law.

He staffed his administration -- beginning with the election week selection of Israel-Firster Rahm Emanuel -- with criminals from Wall Street, turning over his entire economic policy to Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tiny Tim Geithner, the major perps in the economic collapse.

Replaced a progressive and brilliant Supreme Court justice with a center-right mediocrity.

Refused to sign an international treaty banning land mines -- unexploded ordinance that kills thousands of children every year.

As of today, $25,000,000,000,000 of American taxpayer money has gone to Wall Street: no strings attached. No firings, no takeovers (remember those dreams of bank nationalization?), no congressional investigations, no Justice Department investigations, no new rules or regulations, no enforced give-backs, no trials, no sentences, no executions.

Meanwhile, no relief offered to the millions of American workers who lost their homes, jobs, and medical coverage.

The UAW, the last great industrial union, destroyed by Obama's team in the forced bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.

"Card Check" -- candidate Obama's major promise to union-workers -- died the day Rahm Emanuel was appointed White House chief-of-staff. (Three days after election.)

"Cap-and-Trade" -- originally a proposal to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions in order to help save the planet -- has been hijacked by the Goldman Sachs crime family, and reduced to just another dirty commodity scheme.

The Obama White House has refused to provide relief to the states, most of which are bankrupt, causing unprecented destruction of public education, parks, libraries, police and fire departments, bridges, roads, tunnels.

Health Care Reform -- candidate Obama's primary domestic issue -- became a give-away to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, forcing all uncovered Americans to purchase plans many cannot afford, rationing health care in many cases, and drastically cutting Medicare spending. (Thanks to the good people of the Bay State, this piece of reaction may be dead anyway. And thanks to Obama, genuine health care reform will now be impossible for yet another generation.)

Many Bush-appointed officials were kept on by Mr. Change, most repulsively in the reappointment of bloodsucker Robert Gates as SecDef. And now the latest piece of "bipartisanship": Obama's nauseating appointment of unrepentant war criminal George W. Bush to co-head the Haitian "relief" effort.

Just today, Obama withdrew the nomination of potential Transportation Security Administration head Erroll Southers because opponents of Southers claimed he would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining rights. 

And now Obama will begin his second year by announcing in the upcoming State-of-the-Union message an agenda of budget-cutting and austerity. In order to finance the ongoing bankster bailout, and the expanding US war on the world, Obama will propose a slashing of entitlement programs and an increase of regressive taxes on working Americans.

On to the future!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Critical Mass

Chris Floyd:
Democrats and progressives are crying doom over the party's defeat in Massachusetts. The loss, we're told, is a blow to Barack Obama's political agenda, and so it is. They say it's a shame that yet another rightwing zealot who advocates torture is now in the Senate, and so it is. But it is precisely that agenda that led to the loss, and the shame. It is that agenda which has resurrected a rightwing party that was dead in the water, and empowered its most extreme elements.

And what is Barack Obama's agenda? What is his political program? It breaks down into three main elements: unwinnable wars, unconscionable bailouts, and unworkable, unwanted health care "reform" that forces people to further enrich some of the most despised conglomerates in the land. It is, in every way, a recipe for moral, economic and political disaster. It is a gigantic anchor tied around the neck of the Democratic Party, and it will drag the whole lumbering wreck back to the bottom in short order.

It also provides a fertile breeding ground for the willful, belligerent ignorance of the Right to thrive. With such an egregiously stupid and destructive agenda at work in the White House, opponents need only say that they are against it, and they are guaranteed a wide following. Who would not be against unwinnable war, unconscionable bailouts and unworkable boondoggles serving rapacious elites? The actual positions held by these opponents – the actual policies they will pursue once in power – are given little scrutiny in such circumstances. The opponent represents change from a hated status quo – and that's enough. Later, when their odious positions come to light, it is too late.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Commoner and King

As we celebrate Dr. King, let us express our honor on the occasion not only of his 81st birthday, but also toward the brave, heartbroken people of Haiti, and on the one-year-anniversary of the coming to power of a man whose emergence King made possible, Barack Obama. We must also honor Dr. King as we listen to Obama's "State of the Union" address, a speech which will no doubt be a justification for the most serious ideological sell-out in US presidential history, but will also be a primer for the even further drift to the right to come, beginning the Democrats' Year of Wrath. (Beginning last November actually, but with a major turning of the screw with the loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.)

Chris Floyd on the commoner's lowest point yet:
Barack Obama's cynicism in placing George W. Bush, of all people, as a figurehead of America's "abiding commitment" to Haiti is jaw-dropping. Not only did Bush preside over one of the most colossally inept and destructive responses to a natural disaster in modern times -- while also inflicting the unnatural disaster of mass murder in Iraq -- it was his administration that engineered the latest coup in Haiti, saddling it with an unpopular, powerless government that simply collapsed in the earthquake. Choosing Bush to spearhead relief for Haiti is like hiring Ted Bundy as a grief counselor for murder victims.

Bush's co-figurehead, Bill Clinton, is hardly a better choice, of course. As we noted here earlier this week, it was Clinton who imposed a brutal economic and political stranglehold on Haiti as his "condition" for restoring the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1996 -- after Aristide had been ousted earlier in a coup engineered by the first President George Bush.

Both of these ex-presidents bear great responsibility for creating the conditions of dire poverty, ill health, corruption and political instability that have made the effects of this natural disaster so much worse. Yet these are the men that Obama has made the public face of America's humanitarian mission.
King's greatest and bravest speech, his crossing of the Rubicon in connecting the nature of the American system with the evil inherent within it, and inherent within the American evil caused around the world, was his "A Time to Break Silence" address the night of April 4th, 1967, Riverside Baptist Church, Harlem New York. Much like John Kennedy's public turning at American University, June 1963, King's words at Riverside Church mark the moment when a powerful leader within the Establishment jumps it. Exactly one-year to the night of King's address, he would be shot dead in Memphis, as the Restorationists of '68 began full fury.

The text and most of the audio can be gotten here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Good Germans (update)

A new poll from McClatchy:

"Would you give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safer from terrorism?"

Asked after more than eight years of doing little but "giving up" civil liberties to make the country "safer," the results:

YES: 51%
NO: 36%

Support at airports for:

Full body scans/searches: 74%/19% agree
Eliminate all carry-ons: 57%/34% agree
Banning all electronic devices (cells, laptops, cameras, media players): 50%/42% agree

UPDATE:
McClatchy's a breath of fresh air compared to today's Quinnipiac Poll:

"If you had to choose between national security and civil liberties, which would you choose?"

National Security 63
Civil Liberties 25

Support for:

Airport body scanners: 84-13
The War in Af-Pak: 59-35
Try "terrorists" in secret military tribunals, instead of public civilian courts: 59-34
Cops should be able to single-out individuals based on "Middle-Eastern looks": 52-44
Travelers from "Muslim countries" should be subject to more intensive "screenings": 79-16
Do NOT close Gitmo: 63-30

Come to think of it, even 1930s Germans weren't this stupid.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

He Wouldn't Even Harm a Fly

Has the President of the United States lost his mind? Just yesterday, on his watch:

NATO Troops Kill Afghan Protesters
KABUL, Afghanistan — A volatile town in southern Afghanistan erupted Tuesday as rumors spread that American servicemen had desecrated a Koran and defiled local women in a nearby village. When the march was over, at least eight protesters were dead and about a dozen wounded, supposedly shot by Afghan intelligence officers, but much of the town of Garmsir blamed Americans.

2 US Troops, 4 Afghan Soldiers Killed in Attacks
Two United States service members were killed Wednesday in a bomb blast in eastern Afghanistan. Their deaths brought to 12 the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan so far this month; 16 other soldiers from the international coalition have died this month.

16 Killed in US Drone Attack in Afghanistan
The U.S. this week used aerial drones to kill 16 freedom fighters in volatile southern Afghanistan, a rare instance of the U.S. and its allies using a tactic more commonly employed against targets across the border in Pakistan. U.S. military officials said both attacks took place in Helmand province, one of the most violent regions of Afghanistan. In the first strike, ISAF said, a drone fired a Hellfire missile at a suspected safe house early Tuesday morning, killing 13 insurgents. A separate drone strike Monday killed three.

Obama to Request $33,000,000,000 for Wars
The Associated Press is reporting President Obama plans to ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year. The request would come on top of an expected $708 billion sought for the Pentagon, the first time a Defense Department budget request would exceed $700 billion.

If he has lost his mind -- or does -- would it be world's end?

The assumption of Barack Obama cool, collected and calm has been a universal since this unknown individual began to gain presidential timbre through the campaign of '07. The media persona and Obama's two droning books convinced us that this "child of the 60s" was the very opposite of a hip-shooter: deeply thoughtful about most things; no personal experience with physical violence (has he ever been in a fistfight?); abstract and diffident; a professor from the Ivy League; most important, the child of a mother and father who separately personified the best of that glorious decade -- independent, free-spirited, anti-establishment, each with a virulent hatred of war and violence.

But what if it's altogether to the opposite? Rather than the happy product of such a union, maybe Barry Soetoro experienced those years and those parents in a much different way. An absent father, more concerned with his newer family, newer children, and political/diplomatic career than with the boy, to the extent that Obama never met his dad until the child was 10. And the absent mother: dumping her little boy onto his maternal grandparents, also more concerned with lifestyle, lovers, and profession.


The baboons of the American Right have made hatred of the 1960s their number one obsession for 40 years now. Nixon got elected on the wind of that hatred. So did Reagan. And George W. Bush made lots of hay in the darkness of that collective loathing. But theirs was political/power/values stuff. Not the result of private, everyday resentments, loneliness, confusion and heartbreak caused by the abandonment by two obviously self-absorbed parents. Barack Obama's Sixties hatred is honest and well-earned.

What if under the too-cool-for-school face burns a rage, a life- and self-hatred forever burning no matter what the ego satisfactions of the man's enormous accomplishments? What if his whole career has been little other than vengeance taken upon absent parents and all they represented? What if he is just another ego-prick, assassin, user, liar? Now in charge of the greatest criminal enterprise in world history -- Empire USA -- that and his actions as President make more sense than the Miracle of Hope and Change.

A man whose identity is forever hidden because of his wayward parents grabs the ultimate brass ring by pretending to be a Man of Peace (the insanity of this guy accepting the Nobel the same week he begins a new war must have particularly appealed to Obama's psychology), then governs as a Man of Total War. How long can he contain such outrageous private contradictions on such a public stage?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In the Name of the Father

Of Robert Francis Kennedy's twelve children, none has carried forward the bright, brave, tender flame as intensely and honorably as the second son. RFK Jr. has been among the most courageous of American environmentalists, and when Senator Barack Obama was running for the Democratic presidential nomination (during what now seems like the pathetically naive years of 2007/08), Obama gave every indication that RFK Jr. would get a top environmental post in an upcoming adminstration, perhaps even head of the EPA. When the time came, though, Robert Kennedy's son didn't get so much as a sniff. (All top environmental posts, in keeping with the rest of the ObamaHillaryEmanuel Adminstration, went to corporate state flunkies.)

Among RFK Jr.'s many good works is his push for media alternatives to the mainstream, including a terrific webcast for GoLeftTV. This week he has a fascinating interview with Matt Taibbi, called "Obama's Big Sellout."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Blackwatergate

More on Obama's SS.



And from the always great Chris Floyd.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Patterns

If you've lived in New York City since 9/11 and were blessed with at least half-a-brain, you've developed an exquisite bullshit-detector regarding claims of Al-Qaeda Doom. What was it Condoleeeeeeeza Rice said in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion? "There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly al-Qaeda can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud over Manhattan."

Of course the Bush gang would've liked nothing better than a mushroom cloud over Manhattan. It would've provided them the necessary license to turn the USA into a corporate gulag, but it didn't happen on their watch. Many such scare tactics since Rice's have fallen on deaf ears, because the warnings have come exclusively from hysterics, hidden-agenda setters, punks, junkies, liars, snitches, and Giulianis.

Justin Raimondo isn't any of those. In fact, Raimondo's been one of the rare blessings of our post-9/11 age of gutless (and gutter) journalism. His columns at AntiWar.com (and now also at TheHill.com & Chronicles Magazine) are models of passion and insight.

This week Raimondo posted his most disturbing column yet. He argues -- in a piece called "The Long War: Who's Winning?" -- that the same pattern of distraction, failed provocations, and "chatter" which existed in the six months prior to September 11, 2001 can now be seen again over the past several months of 2009. Yes, we've had 8 years of terror codes and terror alerts and warnings galore.

This seems different. And very scary, for the Al-Qaeda endgame this time may truly be endgame.
So what is al-Qaeda up to? A number of analysts have stated that the "drone" attacks mean al-Qaeda is exhausted, and unable to launch a major attack on US soil: they are flailing about, sending these losers on suicide missions that have little chance of success, and, even if successful, would have little impact on the American colossus. This view is utterly mistaken.

In order to see what is really going on, I believe we have to go back to the seminal event, the 9/11 attacks, and get a clear picture of what was happening in the months and weeks prior to that fateful day in September.

Al-Qaeda was already entrenched in the US, having placed its foot soldiers on our soil years before, patiently training and waiting for The Day. In addition, in the months prior to September 11, 2001, a massive effort to penetrate sensitive US government and military facilities was underway. The National Counter-Intelligence Center (NCIC) published an "alert" averring that groups of individuals who described themselves as "Israeli art students" were showing up at government offices and military installations, trying to gain entry:

"In the past six weeks, employees in federal office buildings located throughout the United States have reported suspicious activities connected with individuals representing themselves as foreign students selling or delivering artwork. Employees have observed both males and females attempting to bypass facility security and enter federal buildings."

They were also showing up "at the homes of senior officials," according to the NCIC, a development that must have set off alarm bells throughout the counter-intelligence apparatus. An inter-agency report was compiled and leaked to the public, which named names and gave a very specific account of who these Israeli "visitors" were, and what they were up to: many had backgrounds in intelligence and the military, with a specialty in electronic eavesdropping.

The activities of these "art students" were reported by Christopher Ketcham in a piece for Salon.com, but it was Carl Cameron, at Fox News, who really blew the lid off of the "Israeli art student" story in the aftermath of 9/11, in mid-December, 2001, with a four-part series on Israeli spying in the US. His first report started off with a bang. Noting that "more than 60" (later, around 200) Israelis had been picked up in the wake of 9/11 under the same anti-terrorist rubric as the "sweep" of Arabs living in the US, Cameron averred:

"There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, “evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information."

As Oliver Schrom wrote in Die Zeit, the respected German weekly, there is convincing evidence that the 9/11 hijackers were being trailed by Israeli agents:

"Not until after the attacks of September 11 did the consequences of the spy ring become clear. Apparently the agents were not interested in military or industrial facilities, but were shadowing a number of suspects, who were later involved in the terrorist attacks against the US. According to a report of the French intelligence agency that Die Zeit examined, ‘according to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida from December 2000 to April 2001 in direct proximity to the Israeli spy cells.’"

Like the recent wave of al-Qaeda bombers, the "art students" were pretty ineffective – drones, easily detected and/or prevented from carrying out their missions. Ketcham theorized that the Israelis were a planned diversion, designed to draw attention and resources away from the 9/11 hijackers and focus it on the platoons of "art students" who were suddenly showing up at government offices – some of which weren’t on any map or in any telephone directory. Citing an anonymous intelligence official, Ketcham wrote:

"The art student ring was a smoke screen intended to create confusion and allow actual spies – who were also posing as art students – to be lumped together with the rest and escape detection. In other words, the operation is an elaborate double fake-out, a hiding-in-plain-sight scam. Whoever dreamed it up thought ahead to the endgame and knew that the DEA-stakeout aspect was so bizarre that it would throw off American intelligence. According to this theory … Israeli agents wanted, let’s say, to monitor al-Qaida members in Florida and other states. But they feared detection. So to provide cover, and also to create a dizzyingly Byzantine story that would confuse the situation, Israeli intel flooded areas of real operations with these bumbling ‘art student’” – who were told to deliberately stake out DEA agents."

Confused, preoccupied, and stretching their personnel and resources to the max, the US intelligence-gathering agencies were blinded to the warning signs that indicated the 9/11 plot. The Israeli "art student" smokescreen worked like a charm.

The same sort of smokescreen effect has blinded us to al-Qaeda’s future plans, focusing our attention on airliners and anticipating a repeat of the methods employed by them on 9/11, i.e. using an airliner as a weapon of mass destruction. Indeed, the parallels with the pre-9/11 landscape are ominous, including the strong suspicion that the al-Qaeda bombers and would-be bombers, such as Mr. Muttalib, had some sort of outside assistance: see the account of the "well-dressed Indian man" described by Michigan attorney Kurt Haskell. Haskell was a passenger on the plane, and, as he was waiting to board, overheard the Indian trying to get Muttalib on the plane without the proper papers. And then there is the suggestion that the investigation into Muttalib – the apparent indifference of the CIA and/or the US State Department to the warnings of the would-be bomber’s father that his son posed a danger – was deliberately scuttled. This isn’t just some fringe crank making this suggestion, but MSNBC reporter Richard Wolfe:

"The question is why didn’t the centralized system of intelligence that was set up after 9/11, why didn’t it work? Is it conspiracy or cock up? Is it a case of the agencies having so much rivalry between them that they were more determined to stymie each other or the centralized system rather than the terrorist threat or was it just that there were so many dots no one could connect them because it was just all too random to figure out. It seems that the president is leaning very much towards thinking this was a systemic failure by individuals who maybe had an alternative agenda."

"An alternative agenda"? In the context of al-Qaeda’s ongoing campaign to inflict a mortal blow on the US, what can this "alternative agenda" consist of?

Keith Olbermann, naturally, is hysterically implying that this is all a Republican plot to discredit Obama and oust the Democrats, but once we get past such juvenile rantings, and take Wolfe’s reporting at face value – that the President of the United States is "leaning very much toward" the idea that the vetting of Muttalib was deliberately botched – the possibility that al-Qaeda has allies in high places is taken out of the realm of the fantastic and given real legs.

Let’s step back, once again, and see where we are: a series of post-9/11 incidents involving individual terrorists on the periphery of al-Qaeda, suicidal "drones" sent to inflict damage without much care taken to ensure their success. And, recently, the pace of these attacks is picking up…

This, I fear, is an effective smokescreen for what al-Qaeda is really planning: a large-scale terrorist assault, perhaps involving nuclear materials, that rivals 9/11 in scope and destructive power. While we’re fighting off these little pinpricks in the form of the Shoe-Bomber and the Panty-Bomber, the real deal is looming right around the next corner – and, perhaps like last time, with those "art students," they have some sort of outside assistance (how else did Muttalib get on that plane?).

Our ports are unguarded: every day millions of tons of cargo pass through, without being inspected. Our nuclear facilities are far from secured (remember those nukes that went missing?) Our borders are notoriously porous, especially our southern border, across which pour tens of thousands of illegal immigrants on a daily basis: why not al-Qaeda?

In the name of a "war on terrorism," we have gone abroad, seeking monsters to destroy – when the monsters, in seems, are in our very midst. Or, if they aren’t, then al-Qaeda is more incompetent than I’m willing to believe.

To answer the question posed at the beginning of this column: we are losing the "war on terrorism," big-time. By concentrating our attention abroad, rather than on the home front, we have made bin Laden into an Islamic folk hero, swelled the ranks of al-Qaeda – and wasted our resources, opening ourselves up to a debilitating attack that could make 9/11 pale in comparison. In short, we have never been more vulnerable, or clueless, when it comes to facing the very real threat posed by al-Qaeda and its allies and enablers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Heart of Darkness

Noam Chomsky, speaking of the Central American terror-wars launched by Reagan during the 1980s, goes to the heart of the matter:
The Reagan Wars in Central America achieved its primary aims, leaving in its wake a culture of terror that domesticated the expectations of the majority and undermined aspirations towards alternatives antagonistic to those of the powerful.
Last week in Afghanistan, a CIA station was blown up by a Jordanian suicide-bomber, killing 8 agents (including the station chief) and wounding many others. From within our US corporate media prison, we "understood" this terrible event as just another example of raghead life-hatred, jealousy of all things American, sexual dysfunction, and anti-democratic Evil-Doing. CIA Director Leon Panetta:
The officers were doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism.
Barack Obama:
The officers were part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life.
Doug Valentine has been one of our bravest war correspondents, intensely and brilliantly un-embedded. His Vietnam War Trilogy (The Phoenix Program, TDY, and Hotel Tacloban) remains one of the best understandings of that genocide. His more recent masterpiece is the two-volume history of the American drug wars: Strength of the Wolf and Strength of the Pack.

Valentine has now investigated the background to last week's CIA bombing and it truly is a trip into the fantastic. It seems the attack on the CIA station was payback for the deliberate death-squad murders, in the middle of the night, of eight Afghan schoolboys, ages 11 to 17. The boys were all asleep when the cadre of American executioners broke into their home, woke up and handcuffed the boys, then shot each one in the head. Others in the house, or nearby, were also executed.

Eight teenage schoolboys. A helicopter lands two kilometers from the village. The operation is carried out. The American "soldiers" return to base. (Was this another Blackwater hit?)

Valentine's investigation:
On New Year’s Day, Washington Post staff writers Joby Warrick and Pamela Constable began to fill in some of the blanks that the initial propaganda had ignored. Warrick and Constable reported that the CIA officers were “at the heart of a covert program overseeing strikes by the agency's remote-controlled aircraft along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.”

In the past year, those strikes have killed more than 300 people (perhaps as many as 700) who are invariably described by the U.S. news media as suspected “militants,” “terrorists” or “jihadists" -- or as collateral damage, people killed by accident.

There is never any distinction made between Afghan nationalists fighting the U.S.-led occupation of their country and real terrorists who have inflicted intentional violence against civilians to achieve a political objective (the classic definition of terrorism).

Indeed, despite the U.S. news media’s frequent description of the Dec. 30 attack on the CIA officers as “terrorism,” it doesn’t fit the definition since the CIA officers were engaged in military operations and thus represented a legitimate target under the law of war, certainly as much so as Taliban commanders far from the front lines.

Many U.S. press accounts also have suggested that the suicide attack was in retaliation for drone strikes on Taliban forces. But there is now some speculation that the suicide bomb attack on the CIA personnel may have been payback for the Dec. 27 killing of 10 people in Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern Afghan province of Kunar.

The 10 Afghanis were shot to death during a raid by American commandos, apparently a Special Forces unit.

The commandos, often Green Berets or Navy SEALs detailed to the CIA’s Special Activities Division, operate outside traditional legal restrictions on warfare. During the post-9/11 “global war on terror,” these teams have engaged in kidnappings, killings and executions of suspected “terrorists,” “insurgents” and “militants.”

NATO spokesmen initially labeled the 10 victims in Ghazi Khan as “insurgents” or at least relatives of an individual suspected of belonging to a “terrorist” cell that manufactured improvised explosive devices used to kill U.S. and NATO troops and civilians.

But later reports from Afghan government investigators and townspeople identified the dead as civilians, including eight students, aged 11 to 17, enrolled in local schools. All but one of the dead came from the same family.

According to a Dec. 31 article published by the Times of London, the American-led raid faces accusations “of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them. … Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.”

An official statement posted on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s Web site said government investigators who were dispatched to the scene concluded that the raiding party “took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead.”

Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, told The (UK) Times that the U.S. unit flew by helicopter from Kabul, landing about two kilometers from the village.

“The troops walked from the helicopters to the houses and, according to my investigation, they gathered all the students from two rooms, into one room, and opened fire,” said Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province. “It’s impossible they [the victims] were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent.”

The Times also quoted the school’s headmaster as saying the victims were asleep in three rooms when the raiding party arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him, they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

The guest was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said, adding that six of the students were in high school and two were in primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews.

A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their school books covered in blood,” he said, according to The Times.

The Afghan National Security Directorate, which usually is a compliant outlet for CIA communiqués, said "international forces from an unknown address came to the area and without facing any armed resistance, put ten youth in two rooms and killed them.”

Protests over the killings erupted throughout Kunar Province, where the deaths occurred, as well as in Kabul. Hundreds of protesters demanded that American occupation forces leave the country, and that the murderers be brought to justice.
If this is what is required to protect "our way of life," then our way of life must end.

Why murder eight sleeping schoolboys in the middle of the night? Because they can. And because it will -- they think -- teach the Afghan people that resistance is futile and Occupation is forever. Just as they thought in 'Nam.

Give or take a million casualties, this will work out the same way.

Amy Goodman has more:



UPDATE:
Two suspected US drone missile strikes killed at least 12 people Wednesday in an area of Pakistan's volatile northwest teeming with militants suspected in a recent suicide attack that killed eight CIA employees in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

The lawless North Waziristan tribal area hit Wednesday is home to several militant groups that stage cross-border attacks against coalition troops, including the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network. Counting the latest strikes, suspected US drones have attacked North Waziristan four times since the CIA bombing a week ago, killing at least 20 people.
Get that: "the lawless North Waziristan tribal area." The United States murders a dozen people from the air, in a sovereign country with which the US is at peace.

Guess the law pertains only to sand niggers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

Story #1:
According to Vanity Fair, in 2004 the CIA sent a team from Blackwater to Germany to kill Mamoun Darkazanli, who was investigated for years by German authorities on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda. The hit team reportedly tracked Darkazanli for weeks, but Washington authorities ended up calling off the assassination. Vanity Fair also reported that the CIA considered having Blackwater assassinate A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.
Story #2:
The Los Angeles Times reports President Obama’s plan to begin phasing out nuclear weapons has run up against powerful resistance from officials in the Pentagon and other parts of the national security establishment. In April, Obama laid out his vision of a nuclear-free world in a speech in Prague. But nine months later, the administration is locked in internal debate over a top-secret policy blueprint for shrinking the US nuclear arsenal and reducing the role of such weapons in America’s military strategy and foreign policy. The US currently maintains an estimated 9,400 nuclear weapons.
I guess the point here is that the prison guards of the National Security State, who always get their way, believe that Barack Obama -- who ran as an anti-war progressive and has governed as someone after Hermann Goering's heart -- is not enough of a stooge. Obama campaigned for two years denouncing Blackwater and promising to end all US involvement with the gangster organization. (Blackwater being no more than the classical assassination wing of the old CIA, outsourced.) Obama has more than enough testimony and evidence to put the executive officers of Blackwater (now known as Xe Services) under the guillotine. Instead, they are Reichsführer Stanley von McChrystal's right arm in Obama's new Af/Pak/Yemen wars.

And that nuke thing? They've started pushing, so expect Obama to announce a whole new generation of advanced weaponry by early Spring. Besides, since he's the front man for the forces who hope to recreate the emerging American corporate/military prison across the planet -- well, who wants to live on that sort of planet, nuke-free or otherwise?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mourning in America

All you need to know about Barack Obama and his Historic Mission.

Goldman Sachs Tax Bill
2008 (last year under Bush): $6,000,000,000
2009 (first year under Obama): $14,000,000

Goldman Sachs Tax Rate
2008 (last year under Bush): 34.1%
2009 (first year under Obama): 1.0%

Sunday, January 3, 2010

World at War


On September 16, 2007, seventeen Iraqi civilians were driving home from work, school, play, marketing. All of them happened to make a turn onto Baghdad's Nisour Square. All of them wound up dead (with more than two dozen others wounded), murdered by panicked sissies from the American death squad known as Blackwater. Five of the sissies were indicted on manslaughter charges, brought about because one Blackwater agent (Jeremy Ridgeway) copped a deal and turned State's evidence. (Ridgeway is soon to enter the Jimmy Hoffa Zone.)

Over the New Year's weekend, all charges were dropped against the five murderers, by a George W. Bush-appointed judge by the name of Ricardo Urbina.

Amy Goodman speaks with Harper's Scott Horton.



In other events from ObamaLand:
In his January 2nd radio address, Barack Obama claimed for the first time that Al Qaeda was indeed behind the attempted destruction of Northwest Flight 253. Channeling Dick Cheney, Mr. Changin' and Hopin' said "our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, and we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend our country."

The United States and British embassies have been closed in Yemen, anticipating a major military strike against the country.

New sanctions are announced against Iran, directed against businesses "linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps."

The Administration has officially rejected the 2008 United States National Intelligence Estimate which said that Iranian scientists had ended work on designing a nuclear warhead in 2003. A clear escalation of American/Israeli efforts to achieve regime change in Iran.

Over a 72-hour period beginning on New Year's Eve, the U.S. launched three separate drone missile attacks on Northern Pakistan, killing 10 people.

On December 30th, an American missile strike killed 9 Afghan civilians.

Also on December 30th, the US International Trade Commission approved new duties of 15 percent on Chinese exports of steel pipes. The previous day, the US imposed "anti-dumping" duties against steel products from China. Also imposed, a 35% tariff on Chinese tires. Beijing bitterly denounced these moves.

In addition, the Obama Adminstration announced the sale of Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan. Beijing again denounces the action.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Born