Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hooray for Democracy Cha Ching!!

You'd have to be naive to think no hanky-panky would plague those much ballyhooed elections earlier this year in Iraq. Mr. Bush and his boys, and girls, (don't forget Condi!) reassured us the elections would be fair and free, and Washington would stand aside to let the Iraqis decide. Yeah... well, reality is always a little more icky. It seemed only a matter of time for a story on U.S. backdoor dealing vis-a-vis the elections to come out. And now it has in the New Yorker by Seymour Hirsch, about the only Yank journalist holding up the mantel of journalistic ethics. Here's how AFP summarizes what he found:

President George W. Bush's administration sought to influence the outcome of Iraq's January elections, using covert operations to avoid a landslide by Shiite Muslims close to Iran, according to a US magazine article released Sunday. The Bush administration debated last year whether to give direct support to former Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite favored by US officials, and other parties seen as close to the United States, according to the New Yorker. But the plan was opposed by non-governmental organizations brought in to help with the elections, and then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage put an end to the project, according to the article. In the same period, however, "the White House promulgated a highly classified presidential 'finding' authorizing the CIA to provide money and other support covertly to political candidates in certain countries who, in the Administration's view, were seeking to spread democracy," the magazine said, citing former military and intelligence officials. "The finding was general," a recently retired high-level CIA official told the New Yorker. "But there's no doubt that Baghdad was a stop on the way."

The great thing about the whole thing is how it's haloed in faux legitimacy. The White House issues a "Finding" to justify subverting the democratic process. Makes it sound clean and neat, not some decision reached in some back room in hushed tones. This story is another one you can file away in the soon to be consigned to the memory hole. Yoohoo!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hohum Memos War Was Foregone Conclusion

It's been a while; I apologize to my audience of zero. But all the noise in the press about these so-called memos from the British government and their revelations... well who couldn't chime in on that? Well, nearly the entire American press corps. So we have damning proof that Bush the Lesser was planning the Iraqi quagmire-to-be behind the scenes, looking for a political context to justify it, as we've long suspected. Now, we have official documents, spelling it out nice and neat. But our press hounds aren't impressed. Yawn, we knew that all before. Nothing new there. But Times reporter Michael Smith - a rah-rah Iraqi invasion supporter -- maybe put it best in a recent on-line chat at the Washington Post website.
"It is one thing for the New York Times or The Washington Post to say that we were being told that the intelligence was being fixed by sources inside the CIA or Pentagon or the NSC and quite another to have documentary confirmation in the form of the minutes of a key meeting with the Prime Minister's office. Think of it this way, all the key players were there. This was the equivalent of an NSC [National Security Council] meeting, with the President, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, George Tenet, and Tommy Franks all there. They say the evidence against Saddam Hussein is thin, the Brits think regime change is illegal under international law so we are going to have to go to the U.N. to get an ultimatum, not as a way of averting war but as an excuse to make the war legal, and oh by the way we aren't preparing for what happens after and no-one has the faintest idea what Iraq will be like after a war. Not reportable, are you kidding me?"

It's truly eerie the mindset that has swept the American press corps. Yes, there never truly was a time when journalists, the bulk of them anyway, operated outside the parameters of interpreting events as set by power. But today, they have sunk to a frightening new Orwellian low.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Time Out

Argh, when Ann Coulter is considered worthy of a 6,000-word cover-page profile for her, ahem, contributions to the public discourse, you know we're in trouble. I kinda feel sorry for the hack who penned the thing, taking lots of flack, rightly so, for fawning all over that .... lady. Hey Time's had Hitler and Stalin on their cover, so why not Coulter, he offered. Boy, with that measuring stick, anyone and everyone could hope to get their puss on the front page of that rag. While I'm ranting on Time, what's with this 100 top personalities? Didn't really look at it too closely, but it seems very Americo-centric. It mentions sports figures, like this basketball player, LeBron James, as one of its influentials. No David Beckham, no Ronaldinho, no soccer players at all, and this the world's top sport. Time, we all know American is the World Empire, but sheesh, give the rest of the world a little recognition.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

U.S. or U.N., I forget

Pity the poor ol' U.N. For a few, the U.N., despite all its warts, represents a noble ideal, to secure, or try at least, world peace, as its charter spells out. For others, like the Foxy faux news gazers, the U.N. is an evil force working in the shadows to stir up a batch of one-world-socialist poison. To this crowd, Washington was strongarmed into joining the organization, unwittingly manacling itself to this monolith. If only it were so. From the get go, it was Washington, or more specifically at the time, FDR, who was the mason putting together the U.N. edifice, brick by brick. And Washington made sure the structure was a little wobbly, for why would the U.S., or any power at that, create an institution so powerful, its might would eclipse that of its founders? Today, there's talk about the worthlessness of the U.N, that it hasn't lifted a finger to stop the bloodletting in Sudan's Darfur, before that in Bosnia, and Rawanda. And then there's the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, tantalizing for the role of Kofi Annan's son picking up wads of cash in dubious deals. All legitimate points, after all the U.N. is a huge bloated bureaucracy, and this after lots of fat trimming. But the U.N.'s deeper problems are rooted in its roots. For all its talk of supporting democracy, blah blah blah, the U.N. is one of the most un-democratic institutions around. Think about it, five nations, out of its 191 members, can say yea or nay to anything that comes before the world body. And then there is the General Assembly, a grandiose talking shop, a sop to the world's little nations. The General Assembly can pass resolutions, but they are non-binding, meaning they mean nothing more than the paper they're printed on. But that's the way it was supposed to be. After WW II, the U.S. was the dominant power. It could do and act pretty much as it wished anywhere it wanted. But most Americans wanted their boys home from the front, and let the world go to hell. Woodrow Wilson had tried to create the League of Nations, but that got shot down by isolationists in the Senate, who vetoed American membership. But after World War II, things were different. American business now understood their profits lay in opening foreign markets, and that U.S. foreign policy needed to support that goal, sa if it never did. As Thomas Dewey said, politics is merely the shadow of business. But how to get Joe Q. Public to go along? Wrap your mercantile goals within the clothe of lofty humanitarian goals, that's how. The U.N., with its awesome global membership, could be a key arrow in any hegemon's quiver, read U.S. So under the cloak of global peace and under the U.N. blue shield, the U.S. could pursue a more activist foreign policy. So why would Stalin go along with that? Stalin's objectives were much less grandiose. His domain lay in ruin, some 20 million of his subjects were dead from the war. All Stalin wanted was Eastern Europe as a buffer. So eager to get their U.N., the Truman administration threw that bone to the psychopathic son of a Georgian cobbler. Harry Hopkins was instructed to tell the Russians that "Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Austria (sic), Yugoslavia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, et al, make no difference to U.S. interests." Stalin was placated. To make sure America's right to act wasn't at all infringed, Nelson Rockefeller insisted the U.N. charter did not rule out regional alliances, making NATO possible, or SEATO, or the Baghdad Pact,and another less well known pact with corrupt Latin American leaders, called the Chapultepec Pact. Washington would in no way be straightjacketed by the U.N. The San Francisco Conference, establishing the U.N., was anti-climatic, if not theatrical, given that most of the details had been hammered out behind the scenes a year earlier in 1944 at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington. After a laughable signing ceremony, the charter was placed in a seventy-five pound safe and the ark with its sacred covenant was flown out under heavy guard to Washington where a be befuddled Truman in short-sleeves and armed with a whiskey was on hand to receive it. While the League of Nations, was greeted with hostility, the new and emasculated U.N. left Beltway pols fairly pleased with what had been and is an American project.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Here We Go Again

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has shown our prez some dirty pictures. Seems Israeli intelligence has pix of Iranian nuclear installations, which are up to no good, or so the neo-cons and the Likudites tell us. Are the Iranians developing nukes? Well, the UN nuclear watchdog says it has no evidence of that. Would the Iranians want them? Sure, why not, Israel's got 'em. Oops, wait that's never been verified, for you see, the Israelis wont tell us. Actually one of 'em did, they locked him up in isolation for decades for that little transgression. So, here we are again, unconfirmed reports of an enemy state having or close-to-having those everywhere but nowhere weapons of mass destruction. The gears of the propaganda machine are now grinding away. Mr. Sharon spooks an American audience on CNN about Iran's alleged apocalyptic intentions, sow a little fear in the people whose sons and daughters will eventually be sent to do the heavy lifting for empire and our chosen-one friends in the Middle East. The only glimmer of hope that more needless killing won't occur is the situation in Iraq. Even the mighty US military machine would be stretched 'pacifying' in both Iraq and Iran. On the other hand, the stakes are high. As Michael T. Klare points out in a must-read piece on, Iran has the "second-largest pool of untapped petroleum in the world." And as those of you filling up at the pumps these days know, prices are rising for this commodity. But, don't expect the press poodles to suggest any military attack on Iran would be over oil. You see that's the talk of that fringe, freak set, on the periphery of the internet. Whatever it's about, don't be surprised if it comes.....

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's As Clear as Sun-day

It stares us in the face every week. That day, Sunday. It says it all right there. The day of the Sun, now our holy day. It's pretty clear Christianity, like all religions present and past, are nothing more than Sun worship. I don't have a problem with that, I like the Sun. The stories they tell chronicle the path of the Sun through the Zodiac through the year. Is it just a coincidence, Mithras and Jesus are born on December 25, just around the time the Sun starts its yearly climb back in the northern hemisphere? That Easter falls around the start of spring when the Sun starts to work its wonders turning the brown, dead fields, green and vibrant? Didn't the Greeks think Bacchus had lived? Hercules? Osiris? What will people say in a few thousand years about Christ?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

For anyone wondering why some in the so-called "progressive camp" are not all that awed by the Democrats. This from Tuesday's edition of the Washington Times:

The Democrats' postelection war about what they should stand for is heating up again, with centrists challenging liberals to "real fights" within the party about staking out a tougher position against terrorism. In an attack on the party's dominant left wing, anti-war base, and a warning for new Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean "to do no harm," the centrist-leaning Democratic Leadership Council said it is "a delusion to think that if we just turned out our voters, we could win national elections." Instead, the DLC called on the party to dramatically change its message to "recapture the muscular progressive internationalism of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy and convince voters that national security is our first priority."

Hurray for Muscular Progressive Internationalism! All together now, MPI, MPI, MPI....

Anyone Starting to Sweat Over Oil?

Oil prices keep creeping up and up, breaking the 58 buck a barrel barrier just a few days ago. If you missed it, that radical institution, Goldman Sachs investment bank, predicted oil prices could go over $100 in the not too distant future. Why? Instability in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, where an al-Qaida problem is blossoming quite nicely and growing world demand especially in India and China, which recently overtook Japan as the number two user of oil after the U.S. Just imagine what a gallon of gas will cost then. What will all those downtrodden SUV and pickup drivers do? Funny how car ads these days make nary a mention of how many miles a gallon such-and-such a car gets. It wasn't all that long ago.... well it was long ago... after the 1973 oil crisis... that cars were shrinking, mileage was going up, and all the ads played up the miles per gallon prominently. Those days are long gone. Cars are getting bigger and bigger as world oil supplies shrink and shrink. Oh, here we go again, more malarkey about the coming end of oil. The oil is not about to dry up in Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere, but it's not as abundant as it once was and that doesn't mean problems are just around the corner. In a shocking first, 2003 was the first year that no major oil fields were discovered anywhere around the globe. Nadda, none! U.S. oil peaked in the 1970s, North Sea oil peaked in the 1990s, Caspian Oil will not live up to all the hype. Companies are backing out of projects there. However, oil companies are pumping up their reserves. Not by pumping out more black gold from the ground, but by buying up the reserves of other oil companies! Less money is being sunk into exploration. Why? The companies are not putting their money where the oil is not. And more and more, they don't think it's worth the money to drill for oil, which is harder and harder to find, and deeper, as well, making it more costly to get out. What happens if oil goes over $100. Can you say four dollars a gallon.... depression.... end of cushy life as we know it....

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Great Liberal Media Canard

the media... right... well there is no such thing as liberal media, as defined by the rightwing attack machine. Yes some journalists are liberal on certain issues, most probably are pro-choice, anti-gun, anti-capital punishment, and throw a few other pro this or anti-that into the pot as well. It's not important. What is is that journalists are wheenies, wusses, cowards, supine, however you want to put it. They suck up to power, they love to hide behind authority. A story sourced to authority is more credible, less likely to be questioned by your editor, and eventually more safe, leaving our little computer-key clacking geek in no danger of the ultimate fear, the firing. So, if Greenpeace comes out with an exhaustive, well researched study on some pending ecological disaster, it will most likely be ignored. For you see, Greenpeace has an agenda. Of course, those granola crunchers are going to cry wolf above the planet, that's there game. But, say the Bush administration makes a case of weapons of mass destruction, not maybe, being all over Iraq, but definitely there and everywhere within its borders, the newsmen/women will transcribe ever word and regurgitate it on the pages of papers across the country. This example is convincing since it actually happened. We all know now how the press gobbled up gobs of government propaganda to sell its war in Iraq. It issued mea culpas, sort of, after the fact, but rest assured, they'll do it again every time the war drums, or another government crusade comes a calling, just look at the "crisis" with Social Security. They can't help it, it's the nature of the game.....

Start of Something Downright Miniscule

The news is awash with popephanalia. Pope this, pope that. Enough is enough already. CNN has got its tallons into his carcass and won't let go. Here in godless Europe -- "new Europe", that is, according to Mr. Rumsfeld, the Czech Republic -- things aren't that bad, but bad enough. Actually, the Czechs are the biggest atheists on the continent, and many quite proud of the distinction. On a radio talk show, an irritated elderly caller asked what all the fuss is about, the Pope was 84, had a long life that ran its course, longer than most. In future posts, I hope to share some of my thoughts on the way media work. I think I may have something to offer on that.