by Chris Floyd
While the American election campaign thrashes toward the finish line with the usual spasms of witless diversion and hyper-mendacity â€“ an echo chamber of utter bullshit roaring in a media bubble murderously detached from reality â€“ in the actual world of flesh and blood, the destruction of Iraq engineered by George W. Bush is entering a new phase that could make the previous three years of all-devouring hell look like a sojourn in paradise.
Baghdad is under siege, as Patrick Cockburn reports in the Independent; the city has been encircled by Sunni militias who have cut almost all the roads leading into the capital. Inside the city, "the scale of killing is already as bad as Bosnia at the height of the Balkans conflict," says Cockburn. And it will inevitably, inexorably grow worse, as Shiite militias consolidate their hold within Baghdad while trying to break the blockade from outside. Already, "food shortages are becoming severe" in some parts of the city, he reports, while almost a thousand Iraqis are being slaughtered each week, mostly in Baghdad. Meanwhile, at least 1.5 million internal refugees have fled the ethnic cleansing by both Sunni and Shiite militias, joining the hundreds of thousands who have fled the country altogether. Again, these numbers dwarf those in the Bosnian and Kosovo wars â€“ while the total dead from Bush's war, a very credible estimate of at least 650,000, is approaching the level of the Rwandan genocide.
by Mickey Z.
Every now and then, a series of events (and the reaction to those events) converge to effectively illustrate just how deeply the indoctrination runs in the home of the brave/land of the free. Senator John F. Kerry was the catalyst for the most recent such convergence. His "botched joke" laid bare the passionate cult of the soldier, America's enduring military fetish.
It has been and remains career suicide for any public figure to even hint at criticizing the men and women in uniform. Consider Kerry's apology: "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform." It's not even an issue of actually being critical of the military. Among a war-loving people, you must be cautious to not even "wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform." Kerry himself said people were "crazy" to think he would denigrate America's military. As profound as this may be, the realities exposed by the "stuck in Iraq" affair go much deeper than that.Add a comment
by Dave Lindorff
There are so many things to say about the John Kerry gaffe, it's hard to know where to start.
Just the idea of President Bushâ€™s scolding Kerry and telling him that "words are important" is beyond belief. This, after all, is the guy who for five years has been warning Americans about various "nookular" threats facing us. A guy who has his every utterance scripted for him and yet still manages to screw up his lines with regularity. A guy who had to have a cueing device hidden in his ear canal during his debates with that selfsame Kerry, so he'd avoid just standing at the lectern and saying "duh" in response to questions.
But let's not stop there. Kerry himself was right in character. He clearly didn't write his own joke, and was too slow-witted
to get the joke he was supposed to deliver, which reportedly was that if students didn't work and study hard might end up
someday being ignorant incurious leaders like President Bush, and getting the country into another mess like Iraq. It wasn't
much of a joke, but by bunging it up, Kerry revealed his Boston Brahman snobbishness, saying instead that if students didn't
study hard, they'd end up in Iraq--the clear implication being that he thinks that the US troops fighting and dying in Iraq
are there because theyâ€™re uneducated.
Kerry, the candidate who voted for the war but opposes the war, who voted for funding for the war and voted against it,
is now trying to say that the joke he told is not the joke that was written for him, but that's not going to work. He certainly
should have understood instantly what he was saying when he said it, and realized how smarmy it was. What we're left with
is the unavoidable conclusion that Kerry doesn't know anything about what he's saying when he says it. Like Bush, he's just
reading a script, and like Bush, he's bungling it badly.
By Tom Chartier
Yes, thatâ€™s right you heard
me. Who let the COW into the classroom? No, no, no, not the mooing,
milk-producing, four-legged bovine. Iâ€™m talking about COW: Curriculum On Wheels, a teaching device produced by Ignite! Learning.
COWs are the latest gadgetry
in a long line of â€œeasy teachingâ€ scams swallowed by incompetent
school administrators, lazy teachers and helpless parents desperate
for any sign of learning from their childrenâ€¦ like a grade of C+ in
Basically, COWs are self contained
software projectors complete with all the bells and whistles one wants
in the â€œiStupidâ€ age. Miss Crabtree is being replaced by a machine.
Real teaching is going down the swirly bowl in favor of catchy jingles
and cute cartoons. Hey kids. Letâ€™s see how Mr. Bighead explains Plutoâ€™s demotion from planet
to mere space rock.
by Mickey Z.
Sigmund Freud sez: "America is gigantic; but a gigantic mistake.".
America is a nation built upon myth. If you don't believe me, consider the
Florentine merchant-adventurer after whom this country was named. Amerigo
Vespucci probably made at least two voyages to the Americas, but he was not
the leader of any expedition or the first European of his era to set foot on
the mainland. (America named after a self-hyping fraud? It's just too
perfect.) Yes, the USA is a nation built upon myth...and the greatest myth
of all is that the land of the free is gonna last forever.
I'm sure the Aztecs, the Incas, the Romans, and the Mongols were pretty damn pleased with themselves and figured what they were doing could never end.
by James Petras
Numerous writers, journalists, public officials and academics on the Right and Left have noted changes in relations between the US and Latin America. Those on the Right bemoan the â€˜end of US hegemonyâ€™, the growth of a â€˜New Leftâ€™, the â€˜revival of populismâ€™ and the â€˜loss of US influenceâ€™. Those on the Left herald the purported changes as a moment of progressive regional realignment. The Right speaks pessimistically of the threats to â€˜national security and democracyâ€™, and access to energy and other resources. One sector on the Left claims to perceive a new regional â€˜axis of counter hegemonyâ€™ led by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia sweeping the continent. While other prudent conservative observers argue that a broad â€˜center-leftâ€™ alternative headed by â€˜social democraticâ€™ regimes like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay are replacing traditional US allies and challenging both the Leftist regimes and past US policies.Inside the US Government, policymakers focus on isolating and destabilizing the Left, downplaying the challenges from the center-left and emphasizing political continuities and economic opportunities with neo-liberal regimes.
Faced with radically different assessments of the strength and weakness of US influence in Latin America, an independent analysis of the historic context for measuring the rise or fall of US power is required. This requires a serious assessment, which avoids overblown generalizations, and examines specific issues, areas and particular conjunctures in which agreements or disagreements between the US and Latin America occur. This includes looking at how differences are resolved as well as the structural convergences and divergences.
by Stephen Lendman
On December 3, 2006 voters in Venezuela will again get
to choose who'll lead them as President for the next
six years. There's no doubt who that will be as the
people's choice is the same man they first elected
their leader in December, 1998 with 56% of the vote
and reelected him in July, 2000 after the adoption of
the Bolivarian Republic's new Constitution with a 60%
total. They then saw him survive three failed
US-directed and funded attempts to unseat him
beginning with the aborted two-day coup in April,
2002, followed by the 2002-03 crippling oil strike,
and then the failed August, 2004 recall referendum.
Chavistas must believe the man they revere has at
least more six lives and will use one of them in a few
weeks to continue in the job the Venezuelan people
won't entrust to anyone else as long as he wants the
They may also hope he has as much good fortune and as
many lives as his friend and ally Fidel Castro who in
nearly 48 years as Cuba's leader survived over 5,700
US-directed terror attacks against his country and
about 600 US attempts to kill him - an astonishing
survival record against a powerful and determined foe
still trying to remove him to reinstate oligarchic
rule over the island state. The Bush administration
has the same fate in mind for Hugo Chavez Frias and
won't sit by quietly allowing Bolivarianism to
flourish and spread which it's doing as more people
in the region and beyond are fed up with the old order
and want the same benefits Venezuelans have. It's
playing out now in Bolivia, on the streets of Mexico
and in the run-up to the December 3 Venezuelan
presidential election where the people show up in
massive numbers most every time Chavez makes a public
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Via sources unknown and by
methods unclear ("Stuff happens" â€“ the Hon. Donald R. Rumsfeld),
Atlantic Free Press has come into possession of a recording of a
psychoanalytic session between Dr. Jungen Freudant and one of this
patients, a certain G.W. Bush. Our senior writer, Paul William Roberts, has been so good as to provide the yeoman service of transcribing the tape for our readers.
SESSION 237 FRIDAY NOV 3
Dr Freudant: Good to see you, George. How are you?
George W. Bush: Been havinâ€™ problems, Docâ€¦
JF : Yes?
GWB: Big fuckinâ€™ problemsâ€¦
JF : Tell meâ€¦
GWB: My Dad wont take my callsâ€¦My wifeâ€™s foolinâ€™ around on meâ€¦my senior advisers just admitted theyâ€™ve been lyinâ€™ to meâ€¦and my best friend brought me a present back from Englandâ€¦
JF : A Tony Blair voodoo doll?
GWB: No, I already got oneâ€¦It was a T-shirt that says, â€œBush is just another word for cunâ€”erâ€¦for vaginaâ€¦but in Englishâ€¦â€
JF : And how does that make you feel?
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"The past is never dead; it's not even past." -- William Faulkner
WATERTOWN, Tennessee â€“ The 20th century was well into its seventh decade, but he still came to the back door every time he needed to see "Mister Edsel" about some business or other. No amount of cajoling would induce him to knock on the front door. Finally, one day, in exasperation, my father told him: "Jim, if you don't come around to the front next time, I'm not going to talk to you. This just won't do." Jim shook his head, perplexed; it seemed a concept too radical to grasp or accept: knocking on a white man's front door.
The past lives longer in the South, as Faulkner, that great bard of race and sex, knew well. Habits of subservience from the days of slavery more than a century before were still lingering here and there, as I could see on my own back porch that day, watching Jim and my father.
It was like a scene from To Kill a Mockingbird; and indeed, "Mister Edsel" had come to play the role of Atticus Finch in the town: an advocate and mediator for people like Jim â€“ a black man from the country, deprived of education, shunted into stoop labor, living in the margins, forever under arbitrary threat from an uncaring officialdom or from sudden outbursts of the deeply-ingrained racial enmity that lurked beneath the placid surface of the white faces all around him.
It was an unsought role that came to my father simply because he was one of the few white men who treated black people like they were ordinary, fully-fledged human beings, not lepers or clowns or dangerous trash. It was a rare attribute in those days â€“ and it is still much rarer than most would care to admit, even in the "New South," where Tennessee congressman Harold Ford Jr. stands within reach of becoming the first African-American senator from the old Confederacy since Reconstruction (or as some still like to call it, "the Yankee Occupation").
Ford's surprisingly strong campaign has exposed fault lines long buried beneath Tennessee's creeping â€“ or rather, galloping â€“ suburbanization, where old ways, both good and bad, are rapidly being submerged in the undifferentiated glop of modern American franchise culture. But when money and power are on the line, atavism is the order of the day: ancient fears and hatreds re-emerge â€“ or are mightily encouraged to re-emerge, with all the subtle and not-so-subtle arts of high-tech mass persuasion stoking the flames.
For the stakes in the battle for Tennessee's Senate seat â€“ once considered a lock for the Republicans â€“ have suddenly grown exceedingly high. A Ford win could wrest control of the chamber away from the GOP, putting a serious crimp in the party's bacchanal of greed and graft. What's more, it opens up the possibility of investigations, subpoenas â€“ and worse â€“ for an Administration that is not only suppurating with massive corruption, incompetence, extremism and deceit, but has also openly acknowledged several criminal actions, including torture and warrantless surveillance. The Bush Faction simply cannot afford to face accountability for its monumental failures and misdeeds.
And so in late October, with Ford rising rapidly in the polls, even overtaking his opponent â€“ Bob Corker, a typical tycoon-politician with a bland manner masking sharp practice in his murky business dealings â€“ the Bush Party got serious and whipped out a barn-burning theme from days of yore: the "hot black buck with nothing but white women on his mind."
(more after the jump; plus an MP3 on a related theme at the end.)
by Phil Rockstroh
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A strange genus of the former has overgrown the land. It began as a small hybrid, a member of the Bush family, growing mostly in southern and western states. Some theories hold that its origins were in Connecticut; although, when it was transplanted to Texas, it spread, unchecked, due to the fact that there are few herbivores in the region to limit its pernicious growth. There, in the dry Texas soil, it grew dense and thorny, and thrived when watered with blood and oil.
Left unpruned and unregulated, it grew thicker than an ancient oak, larger than a redwood: It became a Paranoia Sequoia, growing ever larger in the hot greenhouse gases of global climate change; its massive branches spread across the world, casting a shadow of fear and revulsion beneath it.
And it has bore strange and terrible fruit, indeed â€“ as well as proliferate assorted nuts.
by Rod Amis
Three years ago, I began an outline for a foreign policy article, the major thesis of which was that it seemed inevitable at the time that Europe, Africa and South America â€“ if not Australia, for reasons I'll elucidate below â€“ would have to tilt toward the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC,) if for no other reason than to counterbalance the growing economic and military will-to-hegemony of the United States. It was meant to be a reasoned, long-form, foreign policy article to which I could refer back in future considerations.
The impetus for the article was that I believed not enough serious foreign-policy consideration was being made from a dissident and (far) leftist perspective at the time.
Looking back on that outline today, for an article never completed, it's easy to pat oneself on the back for being prophetic. But, as Conan Doyle wrote, it was "elementary." There was nowhere else for the world to go. There were two reasons for that conclusion three years ago and those same two reasons obtain today:
Nature abhors a vacuum. The very notion of a unipolar world contradicts everything we know about the dynamics of power in international relations. Even during the Roman empire, let alone the British, there were constant threats and challenges from the community of nations which undercut the will-to-hegemony of the then-dominant power.
In the case of Britain, there was always Austria-Hungary and intermittently France and Spain. In the case of the Romans, there was Carthage, Egypt and those forces that the victor's historians characterized as "barbarians" or "pirates" since they represented no formalized nation states. There was also the formidable and tragic Jewish rebellion. That is was no small matter is evidenced by the fact that Jerusalem was the second city, after Carthage, to be completely razed and sown with salt.
Nonetheless, all of these actors put brakes on the hegemonic impulses of the Great Power of their age to far greater degrees than did internal and domestic political influences. There is a paradigm here worth consideration.
Other (and more astute) students and commentators on history and geopolitics have noted that nation-states, per se, are not the only dominant actors in the world we face in the twenty-first century.
There are now corporate "states," so to speak, with budgets that exceed those of most nations and influence that is genuinely transnational. Thus, it is not a stretch to suggest that Microsoft Corporation, Wal-Mart â€“ the world's largest corporate entity â€“ or certain Non-governmental Organizations â€“ such as those founded by Soros or Gates â€“have as much potential impact on geopolitical development as do the nation-states still clinging to their atavistic and nationalistic sense of self-importance and "destiny."
by James Kunstler
My travels last week took me to small college town in Georgia and into the heart of Vermont, and the contrasts were instructive. To protect some sensibilities, I call the Georgia town "Peachville." There are lots of places like it down in Dixie, and they all suffer from similar problems. Peachville's surrender to the tyranny of the automobile is total. For a region whose people like to yap about "defending freedom," their own capitulation to the car is complete. Practically every street in this town of 40,000 has been turned into a multi-lane mini-freeway. If you wanted to walk, or needed to walk -- and a number of faculty members at the college where I spoke said they did -- then your experience would be frightening and miserable because there are so few sidewalks, and the distances between things is scaled to cars, not people.
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The quality of the buildings was another striking thing. The remnants of Peachville's little main street downtown was composed mostly of one-story buildings so ugly that they seemed to be missing some essential DNA. They were mean little brick boxes lacking any ornament, denoting an utter disregard for the public realm of the street. Along a couple of blocks, the town officials had recently carried out a "street upgrade program," meaning they added a center median with trees in a few places, but the buildings themselves are so weak and homely that no amount of tarting up the streetscape will make much difference.