Two from Oliver Stone.
Looking for Fidel (2004)
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.
Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don’t reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.
Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add - principally for the youth - that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.
Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí’s example. I even ask myself if he needed to die or not in Dos Ríos, when he said, “For me, it’s time,” and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle,” stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.
Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, “My flag is that which has never been mercenary...” immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, “If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day… our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!” Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens of meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.
Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half a century has transpired since that time.
Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:
“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us:
“We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. President continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”
The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution - that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.
In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries
As for the pro-yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.
The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn’t even talk about this, if I didn’t have the elemental duty to respond to Obama’s speech in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.
Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama’s behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela’s life reached my hands, and - surprise! - the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela’s handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.
Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than 10 or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.
I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.
There is an important issue:
Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”
I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?
Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.
I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.
Monday, November 28, 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
The greatest revolutionary leader of the 20th Century is dead.
Fidel Castro embodied with burning passion the values of communion, courage, joy, humor, compassion, sorrow, remembrance, true justice and -- perhaps most important -- HONESTY. Comandante Castro, for all the Cold War nonsense regarding East vs. West and North vs. South, was the greatest Christian leader of his time: Christian in fact, in deed, in thought -- rather than the vampires and their minion who have so degraded the term.
How many people throughout history have been blessed with the guts, strategic brilliance and cunning to become their nation's leader? And blessed with the deep sympathy and understanding of the powerless, the weak, the sad? Fidel Castro was one of the great intellectuals of his age and one of the great political historians. (Imagine the United States being led by a combination of Malcolm X and Noam Chomsky.) Comandante Castro was a man who could have used his power to be just another exploiter, pimp, or baboon -- instead he chose to be a protector of all those needing protection. And yes, by any means necessary. Yes -- any means! Why give up the weapons of violence to the scum of the earth?
In the Big Dark of the American End of Empire, it is very easy to feel a daily despair. Think of Castro: his humor, outrage, faith, brilliance, and total honesty. One example:
"The fascists stop at nothing. They try to find the weak spot. They invent the most ridiculous lies. They try to create terror and unrest among the people by telling the most outrageous lies. Their appeal is always to the gutter instincts: hatred, fear, racism, economic insecurity, selfishness, ignorance. They feed off of keeping people stupid. They resort to every method they can think of. And what do fascists do when their own institutions no longer guarantee their domination? How do they react when the mechanisms they've depended on historically to maintain their domination fail them? They simply go ahead and destroy those institutions, without a moment's look back. The fascists stop at nothing."
Friday, November 25, 2016
We worship an economic system which values the God of money over human beings. A system that uses billions to rescue banks during times of financial crisis, but fails to invest even one thousandth of that money to help refugees and migrants fleeing their home countries who die in the Mediterranean Sea during their journey.The great Leonard Cohen, RIP:
What is wrong with the world today? When a bank files for bankruptcy there's an immediate, outrageous sum of money, but when this bankruptcy occurs in humanity there's not even a one-thousandth portion to save these brothers who suffer so much? We must free ourselves from the economic ties that produce an attachment to material things such as luxury cars and designer clothing.
I am often asked if this means a Marxist type of society. Well, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom.
Unfortunately, often these policies are opposed by populations that are afraid of losing jobs and of lower wages. Money is against the poor as well as against immigrants and refugees, but there are also poor people in rich countries who fear the arrival of their fellows from poor countries. It is a vicious circle and it must be broken.
We must break down the walls that divide us: we must try to increase well-being and make it more widespread, but to achieve this we need to break down walls and build bridges that allow us to reduce inequality and increase freedom and rights.
No one should be forced to flee his or her homeland. But the evil is doubled when, facing terrible circumstances, the migrant is thrown into the clutches of human traffickers to cross the border. And it is tripled if, arriving in the land where he or she hoped to find a better future, one is despised, exploited or even enslaved.
The gap between the peoples and present-day forms of democracies is widening ever-more due to the enormous power of economic and mediatic groups that seem to dominate. Because fear, besides being good business for merchants of weapons and death, weakens and destabilizes us, destroying our psychological and spiritual defenses, anesthetizing us to the suffering of others and, in the end, making us cruel.
Do not fall into the temptation of being put into a box that reduces you to secondary actors or, worse, to mere administrators of the existing misery.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows
And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows
And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows
Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Posted by EJK at 12:00 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Friday, November 11, 2016
Thursday, November 10, 2016
“There’s no place like home.”
That’s the lesson. Even when home is Kansas.
The real meaning of this election is not, as bitterly disappointed Hillary supporters still maintain with tears in their eyes and fear in their throats, a victory for racism and sexism.
The real meaning of this upset is that Wall Street’s globalization project has been rejected by the citizens of its homeland.
This has major implications for the European nations that have been dragged along into this ruinous project.
Hillary Clinton was the candidate of the military industrial complex and international finance capital. She designed herself to be the figurehead of those forces, as queen of regime change. She aspired to be the one to remake the world in the image Wall Street dictates. It was a project enthusiastically and expensively supported by the one percent who profit from arms contracts and the trade deals they write themselves for their own interests.
To distract from the genuine significance of her candidacy, the Clinton campaign appealed to the desire for respectability of educated city dwellers, portraying Trump supporters as racist yokels motivated by a hateful desire to scapegoat minorities as revenge for their own inadequacies. They were “deplorables”, and you wouldn’t want to be one of them, would you?
Trump was sexist, because he referred to certain women as “bimbos”. Elizabeth Warren called him out for this, on a platform where Hillary sat listening, mouth wide open in delight – she who had referred to Bill’s girlfriends as “bimbo eruptions”. Sleaze and hypocrisy drowned out policy discussions. The worst the Clinton campaign could come up with was an eleven-year-old locker room exchange – just words, hardly comparable to Bill’s chronic actions.
Still, millions who were taken in by the Clinton campaign line are devastated, terrified, convinced that the only reason Trump won was the “racism” and “sexism” of that lower caste in globalized society: white heterosexual working class males.
But no, Virginia, there were other reasons to vote for Trump. Racism and sexism are surely low on the list.
Trump voters were scandalized by Hillary’s lies and corruption. Many of them would have voted for Bernie Sanders if they had the choice. That choice was taken away from them by Democratic Party manipulators who were sold on their own advertising campaign to elect “the first woman President.” A brand new product on the Presidential election market! Be the first to vote for a woman President! New, improved!
Bernie’s success already showed that millions of people didn’t want that woman. But the Democratic Party manipulators and their oligarch sponsors went right ahead with their plans to force Hillary Clinton on an unwilling nation. They brought this defeat on themselves.
Contrary to what you could believe by reading the New York Times, there were even intellectuals who voted for Trump, or at least refused to vote for Hillary, for the simple reason that Trump appears less likely to lead the world into its third and final Great War. He said things giving that impression, but such statements were ignored by mainstream media as they worked overtime to inflate the ogre image. No war with Russia? You must be a Putin puppet!
Trump voters had several reasons to vote for Trump other than “racism”. Most of all, they want their jobs back, jobs that have vanished thanks to the neoliberal policy of transferring manufacturing jobs to places with low wages.
But racism is the only motive recognized by the globalized elite for rejecting globalization. British citizens who voted to leave the European Union in order to recover their traditional democracy were also stigmatized as “racist” and “xenophobe”. Opposition to racism and xenophobia is the natural moral defense of a project of global governance that deprives ordinary citizens of any important power of decision.
This extraordinarily vicious campaign has brought out and aggravated sharp divisions within the United States. The division between city and countryside is most evident on the electoral maps. But these real divisions are exacerbated by a campaign that portrayed Donald Trump as a racist madman, a new Hitler about to bring fascism to America. The antiracism of this campaign, denouncing “hate”, has actually spawned hate.
No, Virginia, Trump is not Hitler. He is the Wizard of Oz. He is a showman who pulled off an amazing trick thanks to the drastic moral and intellectual decline of the American political system. He is neither as dangerous as his opponents fear, nor as able to “make American great again” as his supporters hope. He is the Lesser Evil. What will become of him in Washington is anybody’s guess.
Monday, November 7, 2016
From Chris Floyd:
Well, here we are: at the bottom of the barrel under forty feet of slag. Tomorrow, we’ll know our fate: the five-alarm fire of Trump Rule (oh, how those police unions are chomping at the bit!) or the Clinton Age of Hyper-War (oh, how those neocons are chomping at the bit!). In either case, the entrenched coagulation of corporate interests and war profiteers that have strangled the peace, prosperity and prospects of the American people will not be budged an inch. The change that people are so desperately hungry for — so hungry that that some of them might well elect an Establishment insider whose sinister clowning makes him appear to be a ‘rebel’ — will not come. Thus their bitterness will grow deeper, more sour, erupting more and more often in physical violence: from militarized police against protestors, from Trump-empowered racists (if he wins or loses), from extremist militias, from angry, maddened people on every side. And of course there will be more — much more — of the horrific, never-ending, globe-spanning violence of the bipartisan Terror War that churns on and on, no matter who is sitting temporarily in the White House.
There’s no use in pretending that’s not what we face. But there’s also no use in pretending that this situation is somehow sui generis, some terribly unlucky conflation of unforeseen circumstances coming together at this particular time. It is in fact the culmination and embodiment of the deliberate choices of the most powerful forces in society: the choices to enrich themselves beyond all reason and extend their military and economic dominance over the earth.
It doesn’t matter that many if not most of the practitioners and functionaries of this system “believe” in its rightness. It doesn’t matter that brutal neoliberal nostrums and extremist imperial notions have become religious dogmas for those who see themselves as the “meritocracy.” It doesn’t matter if the leaders and factotums genuinely believe in the “exceptionalism” they preach or if they are cynical power-seekers. It doesn’t matter if they actually believe their rapacious financial machinations are reflections of the “natural law” of the “the market” that will eventually benefit all, or if they know themselves to be what they really are: ugly souls disfigured by greed. The end result has been the same: a long series of deliberate choices by a bipartisan elite that have hollowed out the lives and communities and futures of millions of Americans, and created a living hell of war, ruin and hatred over much of the earth.
This is a system that has delegitimized itself, a system that has undermined its own institutions. Through its own actions, it has rotted out the foundations of trust and reason which once upheld it. Some might say, “Oh, but there’s been a decades-long, concentrated effort by right-wing billionaires and corporate forces to foment ideological and religious extremism to undermine the legitimacy of secular government, which might restrict their profiteering or let more people have a share in power.” And that’s true. But it’s been accompanied at every step by the collusion and cowardice of the putative opposition. The so-called New Democrats, exemplified by the Clintons, jettisoned concern for the common good to embrace “centrist” and “technocratic” policies: i.e., to adopt the neoliberal dogma that unbridled pursuit of private profit by a connected elites will somehow, someday, lead to general prosperity. The idea that the party should fight to improve the lives of ordinary people in the here and now, to fight for their quality of life in a genuine, substantive way, came to be seen as old-hat, a quaint and fusty notion of has-beens and dreamers who didn’t understand the way the world really worked. A true, savvy “moderate” knows you must compromise every ideal, show yourself to be a willing and avid servant of the monied interests and the militarists, in order to gain power so you can … make a few cosmetic changes around the edges, a few little social improvements here and there (but only — of course! — in “partnership” with private interests), but never, ever challenge the system at its core.
This is the only deal in town: outright, unvarnished right-wing rule, or simpering, cowardly “moderate” management of a violent, rapacious system. That’s been the choice on offer since 1976. That’s the choice on offer today. The only difference is that the system has metastasized to a monstrous degree over the years: lacking any genuine opposition, the system has grown more violent, more rapacious.
Establishment collusion — and Democratic cowardice — finally and completely degraded and delegitimized the American electoral process 16 years ago, when the Supreme Court — with two members who had direct family ties to the Bush campaign — stopped a recount that would have resulted in the actual winner of the election to take office. This outrageous action was accepted by every single organ and institution of the American system. (With the momentary exception of the Black Congressional Caucus, whose members tried, in vain, to get a single Democratic senator to challenge the result.) Instead, Americans were encouraged to applaud the fact that power had changed hands “without tanks in the street.” That is, we were to celebrate that an actual coup d’etat had taken place before our eyes without the slightest show of resistance.
Once in place, the coup regime — staffed at the highest levels by extremists who a year before had publicly called for a vast militarization of American policy and society, even if the public had to be “galvanized” by “a new Pearl Harbor” — led the nation into a disastrous war based on false pretenses, a vast crime that not only killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people but has led directly to unbridled turmoil, extremism, conflict and corruption around the world. The elite-supported coup regime instituted torture programs and death squads, and launched an orgy of war profiteering unprecedented in world history. The regime then presided over the worst economic collapse in generations.
Not a single member of the regime was ever tried — or even investigated, at even the most preliminary level — for a single crime committed during its time in power. There were no high-profile Congressional investigations into the hideous carnage and ruin and instability they wrought; not even a “Chilcot Commission” into the origins of the war, as the UK belatedly launched. Instead the regime’s leaders and top factotums were heaped with honors and wealth. Today their endorsement is eagerly sought — and gained — by the “progressive” Democratic candidate for president.
In 2008, the desperate electorate turned to a figure presented to them as an outsider who would at last bring real change. He had the trappings of difference — a black man with a Muslim name, who spoke eloquently of peace and social justice, who most people thought was far to the left but voted for him anyway. But Barack Obama was of course a meritocratic “centrist” to his core. Riding an enormous wave of popularity, and a strong Congressional majority, he proceeded to … bail out Wall Street fraudsters and finaglers with tax money and create a health care system based on the plan of a rightwing think-tank that prioritized corporate profit — and probably killed the chance for a genuinely public health care system for generations, if not for good. He also doubled down on the Terror War, expanding it to more countries, extended Bush’s death squads, helped destroy nations like Libya and Yemen (thus spawning more chaos and terror), expanded illegal surveillance of the populace (and the world) to an extent beyond the wildest dreams of the Stasi or KGB. And after saving Big Money from itself and securing the guaranteed profits of the healthcare-insurance corporate complex, he spent most of his time on the domestic front trying to strike a “grand bargain” with Republicans to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Again, all hopes of any real change were thwarted. So now the nation swings from being ready to embrace a perceived leftist to the brink of voting in a bellicose rightist as it seeks the genuine change no one will give them. Of course, after the scorched-earth tactics of bipartisan neoliberalism and the inevitable moral degradation and brutalization that comes from year after year after year of vicious aggressive war, the choice for Trump is more nihilistic. It’s as if people believe positive change is no longer possible — so let’s tear everything down and see what happens. (This is the actual, open philosophy of the Breitbart gang, who are now directing Trump’s campaign.)
Even if Clinton wins, this nihilism will still be rampant. And given that she happily embodies the bipartisan Establishment now roundly despised on all sides for its many depredations, the nihilism will grow even worse — especially as she has given no indication whatsoever that she will even try to make substantive changes in the neoliberal-militarist system that is strangling us. Quite the contrary.
So yes, this has been a campaign like no other — but mostly because it has brought the systematic decay of the Republic into the sharpest possible relief, and has shown, more clearly than before, that the neoliberal-militarist ascendency offers no hope for a better life, a better world; indeed, that it offers nothing at all — except more violence, more bitterness, more ruin, more degradation for us all.
Posted by EJK at 4:03 PM