Thursday, June 25, 2009

False Saviors - LBJ

Without superior air power America is a bound and throttled giant, impotent and easy prey to any yellow dwarf with a pocket knife.

-----Congressman Lyndon Johnson, 1948

I'll always remember LBJ as a demented half-drunk mockery of manliness, a dirty young, middle-aged and old man who called in secretaries to give him head and generals to give him body counts with equal relish.

-----Journalist Andrew Kopkind

He was vain, vindictive, and ignorant. Years went by without his reading a book, and he never read if he could avoid it. Though he preferred to receive information orally, he rarely listened.

The prototypical extrovert, he was devoid of scruples but gripped by a passion to "get things done." From his earliest days the shallowest of status markers captivated him: to enlarge his reputation, surpass the achievements of all his rivals and friends, to gain greater power, to earn more money than anyone else. In pursuit of these ends he became a long-winded bore, endlessly repeating cliches about freedom, especially the entrepreneurial freedom to pile up money. In fact, money and power were all he thought about.

His ideological moorings were nationalist, racist, and sexist. He rated the white race superior to all others, Americans superior to other nationalities, and men superior to women. He held doubters in contempt, even as he questioned his own masculinity, and he yearned to be judged a manly man by John Kennedy's "Best and Brightest," who he feared found him lacking in balls.

He divided males into men and boys. Men were activists and doers who forged business empires and preferred action to talk. Their aggression and can-do optimism gave them the edge in a tough and savage world of other men, and earned them the respect of dominant men. Boys were talkers and writers and intellectuals. Like women, they sat around thinking and criticizing and doubting instead of acting. When he discovered that a member of his administration had turned dovish on Vietnam, Johnson once complained, "Hell, he has to squat to piss."

Elected to the House in 1937 as a New Dealer, he quickly joined forces with anti-labor Southerners. In 1943, he voted to override FDR's veto of the anti-labor Smith-Connally Act, which allowed the government to seize industries threatened by strikes, and four years later he did the same to override Truman's veto of Taft-Hartley, which required union leaders to take an anti-Communist loyalty oath. When he ran for the Senate in 1948 he launched his campaign with Herman Brown of Brown & Root, one of the most anti-labor employers in the country, sitting approvingly on the platform behind him. Once elected he advocated "right-to-work" laws, i.e., illegal to unionize. His anti-labor record proved so extreme that Texas unions were induced to endorse Johnson's right-wing opponent,"Coke" Stevenson, the first time Texas labor had endorsed a candidate for the Senate in half a century. Remembering his friends, Johnson removed a fair labor standards provision in an $8 billion highway bill during his first term as Senate majority leader.

Though Vietnam was his greatest crime, Johnson was also responsible for a series of other coups or interventions that ultimately slaughtered thousands of civilians. In 1964, for example, the Johnson Administration overthrew the democratically elected government of Brazil. The administration of Joao Goulart had committed the grave sin of introducing agrarian reform, ending capital flight, and nationalizing a subsidiary of International Telephone and Telegraph, which they ungratefully complained was "bleeding the Brazilian economy." Washington quickly sounded the alarm at Brazil's "anti-Americanism" and "drift to the left."

The coup began with the U.S. Sixth Fleet standing by offshore while Brazilian troops and tanks advanced on Rio de Janeiro. Encountering only scattered resistance, the Army seized power with U.S. approval, cutting short a Brazilian investigation of C.I.A. bribery. U.S. Ambassador Lincoln Gordon cabled Washington that the Generals had carried out a "democratic rebellion," which constituted "a great victory for the free world," one that "should create a greatly improved climate for private investments."

General Castelo Branco emerged as the president of Brazil's new neo-Nazi national security state. He shut down the Congress, murdered his political opponents, suspended habeas corpus for "political crimes," outlawed criticism of the president, placed labor unions under government control, and maintained internal security by death squad. As protests against his dictatorship mounted, his security forces fired into crowds, burned down homes, and tortured disobedient priests defending the poor. Washington and Wall Street applauded his program of "moral rehabilitation."

The result was the usual free market "miracle." Income distribution shifted sharply upward, the investment climate improved, the World Bank came running with loans, and U.S. aid increased in tandem with torture, killing, hunger, disease, infant death, and profits. A 1975 World Bank study - the high water mark of the economic "miracle" years - reported that 68% of Brazilians had less than the minimum caloric requirement for normal physical activity and that 58% of children suffered from malnutrition.

A year after the coup in Brazil Johnson sent 23,000 Marines to invade the Dominican Republic and suppress a democratic revival there. In 1963, Dominicans had celebrated the end of 31 years of dictatorship under Rafael Trujillo (who had governed by systematic terror and been shot to death) by electing Juan Bosch en masse. Bosch refused to buy planes for the air force, announced agrarian reform, supported a divorce law, low rent housing, and modest nationalization of business, and raised wages. Fed up with the "Communist" administration after just seven months, Generals Toni Imbert and Wessin and Wessin, both graduates of the U.S. School of the Americas in Panama, deposed Bosch in a barracks revolt at dawn. The Johnson Administration quickly recognized the new regime of generals.

In 1965, the people rose in revolt attempting to restore Bosch to the presidency. Rooftop snipers machine-gunned loyalist troops, rebel units (loyal to Bosch) occupied street corners and patrolled the highways, and ecstatic radio announcements propelled thousands of Dominicans into the streets shouting "Viva Bosch." There they snatched up weapons from arsenals thrown open by the rebel army, and fashioned Molotov cocktails using gasoline donated by filling stations. When Bosch forces took over the public air waves a parade of locals appeared on T.V. denouncing the misery wrought by dictatorship and IMF austerity.

The U.S. Embassy shrieked of ransacked embassies, Castro-style mass executions, and victorious Bosch supporters parading through the streets with their victims' heads on poles. Johnson declared that, “some 1,500 innocent people were murdered and shot, and their heads cut off.” This was pure fabrication. The only large-scale massacres were carried out by loyalist troops with the military and diplomatic support of the Johnson Administration. Thousands of Bosch party activists, local leaders, and members were jailed, beaten, or killed. Declaring he would not permit a second Cuba, Johnson dispatched the Marines, their fifth appearance in the Dominican Republic in the 20th century. Landing at the Generals' air base at San Isidro they fought side-by-side with the junta's troops, blasting through rebel forces on the Duarte bridge with bazookas, 106-mm recoilless rifles, and machine guns. President Johnson brazenly lied to the American people, saying that the U.S. was a neutral arbiter between the contending forces and had "attacked no one."

The U.S. immediately recognized the new police state headed by Donald Reid Cabral, a pro-American businessman who U.S. Ambassador William Taply Bennett fondly called "Donny." The "non-totalitarian" (i.e., anti-Communist) dictator received more money - $100 million - in direct and guaranteed loans from Washington than any Dominican regime in history. The fact that Cabral "had no popular support," according to secret U.S. polls, and that Bosch and his party were still the legally constituted authority of the Dominican Republic, didn't matter at all to LBJ. Nor did the fact that no Dominican lives need have been lost had Washington given support to Bosch's movement.

1965 was also the year that Johnson massively escalated the war in Vietnam, embarking the U.S. and the world on a disaster that would ultimately cost millions of lives. Johnson could never shake his conviction that the U.S. enjoyed a Divine Right to determine the internal politics of Vietnam, and that the series of South Vietnamese dictatorships imposed by Washington deserved "independence" from the overwhelmingly popular National Liberation Front attempting to dislodge them.

LBJ insisted on Hanoi's unconditional surrender in Vietnam. He couldn't stop patting himself on the back for his "generosity" in being willing to let them surrender. If North Vietnam stopped helping the National Liberation Front try to expel the U.S. from the country, LBJ was willing to order his occupying army to cease fire, but not to leave. His moral blindness was so extreme that he never understood that the Vietnamese people had every right to insist on their independence and expel a government imposed on them by a foreign power.

For U.S. troops the war was a pointless slaughter. Battles were a succession of ambushes and fire-fights in mid-jungle. Holding fixed terrain was impossible. Patrols traversed the same ground repeatedly in vicious manhunts for "Vietcong," who were indistinguishable from the civilian population that the Pentagon conceded overwhelmingly supported them. Progress was marked by kill ratio, a statistic that defined massacre as victory.

U.S. soldiers fought in defense of a military junta that had had ten changes of government between 1963 and 1965. At the Honolulu Conference in the latter year, Johnson told then South Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky, (who declared that Hitler was his only hero) that "when you talk about building schools instead of beheading teachers, and when you speak of erecting clinics instead of firing mortars and destroying them, you speak our language." Bertrand Russell, with far greater realism, called LBJ's war policy "a barbaric . . . aggressive war of conquest." LBJ never realized that backing Hitler enthusiasts could hardly produce any other kind of war.

Anyone who was insufficiently optimistic about the prospects for U.S. "victory" in Vietnam, let alone those who opposed Washington's war policy regardless of its prospects for "success," Johnson quickly condemned as unwitting dupes of Communist conspiracy or outright traitors. In 1965 he told his staff that "the communists already control the three major networks and the forty major outlets of communication." He ordered the F.B.I. to spy on Congress. He described the Soviets as being "in constant touch with anti-war Senators." He said the wayward Senators "ate lunch and went to parties at the Soviet embassy; children of their staff people dated Russians. The Russians think up things for the Senators to say." Faced with massive protests in the spring of 1967 he told Time Magazine's Hugh Sidey that "most of the protests are Communist-led." He had every government intelligence agency investigate, spy on, and undermine anti-war activists. He rejected a C.I.A. analysis that concluded that the peace movement was not under Communist direction.

He never questioned the wisdom of basing economic "health" on massive war spending. During Johnson's time in office the U.S. spent about $50 billion a year in pump-priming war expenditures, nevertheless he never declared that his "Great Society" required putting an end to these gargantuan allocations in support of imperial war. Quite the contrary. He agreed that "the business of America was business" and no business was better than the war business.

Johnson also gave support to one of the greatest massacres of the 20th century. In 1965, after an alleged Communist coup attempt in Indonesia, pro-U.S. General Raden Suharto launched a bloodbath that killed hundreds of thousands of people, mostly landless peasants, while hundreds of thousands more were jailed in terrible conditions and held for years without trial. A National Intelligence Estimate in September 1965 pinpointed the source of the problem, warning that if the efforts of the mass-based PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) "to energize and unite the Indonesian nation" were to succeed, "Indonesia would provide a powerful example for the underdeveloped world and hence a credit to communism and a setback for Western prestige." The threat was overcome via mass slaughter and the installation of the Suharto dictatorship. With the massacre underway Johnson's Secretary of State Dean Rusk cabled U.S. Ambassador Marshall Green that the "campaign against PKI" must continue and that the Indonesian military was the "only force capable of creating order" and must continue doing so with Washington's help for a "major military campaign against PKI."

H.W. Brands, author of a work claiming that "The United States did not overthrow Sukarno, and it was not responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths involved in the liquidation of the PKI," concedes however that it did what it could to encourage the Indonesian army to wipe out the only mass popular organization in Indonesia; subsequently hesitated to become directly involved only because it feared such efforts might prove counterproductive; and finally, greeted reports of accelerating massacre as "good news," after which U.S. aid to Indonesia flowed freely and Washington eagerly turned to assisting Suharto's military dictatorship. In 1967, Robert McNamara told LBJ privately that U.S. military assistance to the Indonesian army had "encouraged it to move against the PKI when the opportunity was presented." Especially valuable, he said, was the program bringing Indonesian military personnel to the U.S. for training at American universities, where they apparently learned lessons of great usefulness at home. A U.S. Congressional report concluded that U.S. training and continued communication with Indonesian military officers had paid "enormous dividends."

As if this were not enough, Johnson was also a fervent Zionist who knew that nuclear bomb materials were being diverted from a U.S. plant in Apollo, Pennsylvania to Israel, but did nothing to stop it. And he covered up Israel's involvement in the attack on the clearly marked U.S.S. Liberty, which was sailing off the Gaza Strip in international waters during the Six Day War. Johnson referred to the strike as a "deliberate attack" in an off the record press briefing, and his ambassador to the U.N. Arthur Goldberg told Israel's ambassador to the U.S. that U.S. tape recordings revealed that the Israeli pilots knew they were attacking an American ship. Thirty-four men were killed and seventy-five wounded. Johnson helped insure the American public never heard about it.

Johnson was most proud of his domestic social policy. Announcing the War on Poverty in January, 1964, he declared grandly: "This Administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America . . . Our aim is not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it, and, above all, to prevent it."(emphasis added) But in reality LBJ had no clue how to end poverty and proved unwilling to commit the resources necessary to waging a serious fight. He naively accepted the anti-poverty "wisdom" of poverty experts, who recommended overcoming the "culture of poverty" by "maximum feasible participation." In other words, they saw nothing wrong with the capitalist system, only with those it oppressed, and as good liberals they could never understand poor people's lack of enthusiasm for "participation" in degrading and exploitative social relations.

Unsurprisingly therefore, LBJ's Great Society programs were premised on the idea that giving a little to the poor - very little - would make it easier to continue giving a lot to the rich. He was quite incapable of seeing the situation with the clarity of writer James Baldwin, who correctly noted that, "the civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo." So it was that LBJ launched his doomed crusade, which as I.F. Stone noted in 1965, even with expenditures doubled, which LBJ called for that year, produced barely $1 billion in new spending for social programs. In short, the "Great Society" had but a microscopic claim on resources compared with the tens of billions of dollars the U.S. was spending annually in its effort to obliterate Indochina. And, when push came to shove, LBJ deliberately held down poverty relief expenditures in order to fund the Vietnam slaughter.

Even on racial matters, supposedly LBJ's crowning achievement, Johnson was no bargain. He proved unwilling to seat the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (mostly black, but open to all races) when it arrived at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City in 1964 to challenge the segregationist delegation representing Mississippi that year. Johnson attempted to bribe the MFDP by offering them two "at large" seats alongside the white supremacist delegates, but MFDP's Fannie Lou Hamer, indignant at his proposed compromise, protested: "We didn't come all this way for no two seats!" Johnson tried to prevent her from speaking at the convention. Said his Vice President Hubert Humphrey: "The President has said he that he will not let that illiterate woman speak on the floor of the Democratic convention." The following year when Johnson declared to a joint session of Congress, "we shall overcome," radical journalist Andrew Kopkind, just back from Vietnam and observing the speech from the House Press Gallery, "grew suddenly dizzy in the head and queasy in the stomach and nearly pitched over the railing." (Kopkind, "The Thirty Years' Wars," p. 251)

Furthermore, when riots exploded in black ghettos, LBJ faulted not his own prioritizing of war over social spending, but black people themselves for being "ungrateful" for the token efforts he had made on their behalf. Even the establishment press saw more clearly than LBJ. The Boston Globe commented in the wake of the 1967 Newark riots that they represented "a revolution of black Americans against white Americans, a violent petition for the redress of long-standing grievances." The Globe insisted that the civil rights laws and antipoverty measures so boasted of by LBJ had actually done little to alter fundamental conditions for blacks, who continued to live in slums, attend inferior schools, suffer high unemployment, and experience pervasive hostility from the wider white society. The Kerner Commission, assembled to investigate the causes of U.S. race riots, agreed, saying that a national commitment to spending large amounts of money on job training, welfare, housing, and anticrime programs was necessary if racism and poverty were to be cured. But the kind of money the Commission was talking about was earmarked for Vietnam.


Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant - Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973, (Oxford, 1998)

I.F. Stone, In A Time of Torment, 1961-1967, (Little, Brown and Company, 1967)

Andrew Kopkind, The Thirty Years' Wars - Dispatches and Diversions of a Radical Journalist 1965-1994, (Verso, 1995)

William Blum, Killing Hope - U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, (Common Courage, 1995)

Todd Gitlin, The Sixties - Years of Hope, Days of Rage, (Bantam, 1987)

David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, (Penguin, 1969)

Edward S. Herman and Frank Brodhead, Demonstration Elections - U.S. Staged Elections in The Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador, (South End, 1984)

Noam Chomsky, Year 501 - The Conquest Continues, (South End, 1993)

Noam Chomsky, "Hegemony or Survival - America's Quest For Global Dominance," (Metropolitan Books, 2003)

Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, (South End, 1979)

Tad Szulc, Dominican Diary, (Dell, 1965)

Michael Parenti, The Anti-Communist Impulse, (Random House, 1969)

William H. Blanchard, Aggression American Style, (Goodyear, 1978)

Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire - Century of the Wind, (Pantheon, 1988)

Michael Albert, Parecon - Life After Capitalism, (Verso, 2003)

David Harris, Our War (Random House, 1996)

Philip Caputo, A Rumor of War, (Ballantine, 1977)

Lawrence Wittner, Cold War America: From Hiroshima to Watergate, (Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1978)

Alfred Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection - What Price Peace? (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1978

Tom Segev, 1967 - Israel, The War, And The Year That Transformed The Middle East, (Henry Holt, 2005)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coup Plotters Unlimited: "This Is Not A Coup"

The United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran's affairs. Some in Iran - some in the Iranian government, in particular, are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the election. These accusations are patently false.

---------Barack Obama, Washington Post, June 23, 2009

Never believe anything until it's officially denied.

---------Claud Cockburn, father of U.S. journalist Alexander Cockburn

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bulletins From Konsciousness Kontrol

The USA has lessons to teach the bloody, repressive, fanatic, murderous, anti-Semitic ,totalitarian Iranian dictatorship about real, true democracy. Independent American presidential candidate Ralph Nader was not allowed to participate in any debates with ruling party candidates in both the 2004 and 2008 elections, while Iranian president Ahmedinajad debated no less than three opposition candidates on Iranian TV during their presidential campaign. See?... SEE?

Reverting to an earlier tax rate on the state’s wealthiest residents and creating a new tax on oil drilling could bring bankrupt California billions more dollars in revenue, which is why the working class majority should oppose taxing the leisure class and petroleum interests lest they emigrate to another country and take their money with them, leaving everyone all alone and without work or oil. Then what’ll they do?

The more than half a million americans idled every month by the present economic crisis should just watch American Idol and pray that they will be struck by lightening, talent and looks good or bad enough to guarantee them money to pay their cable bills so that they can continue being distracted by this and other important expressions of art, culture and reality evasion.

New serious, very harsh , bold and domineeringly restrictive rules created by the Obama administration will put bankers and other financial capitalists in charge of regulating bankers and other financial capitalists. Citizen consumers who don't know the difference between communism and the public library should demand an end to socialist government in the USA

Color coded democratic revolutions in foreign countries organized and financed by western capital need to be seen as true expressions of the people because of great mobs demonstrating against repressive regimes, but massive mobs demonstrating against america’s foreign wars are meaningless expressions of communist and terrorist inspired ungratefulness for the privileges afforded our shopping masses by their wealthy corporate benefactors.

Questioning any aspect of the holocaust assaults the memories of those hundreds of thousands who - miraculously - survived it , and especially those who weren't born when it happened or who weren't anywhere near europe when it happened, and should mean loss of jobs and/or prison sentences , understandable in the pursuit of historical accuracy, freedom of speech and whatever. Death to the Dictator!

Monty Python is suing twits, twitters, the twittish, and their sister group the twats, who stole their label for fools and use it to claim the opposite. "A twit is an ass, but twitters are a class", said a spokesperson for the national organization TWIT ( Totally Without Intellect) , but pythoners claim copyright infractions and general american stupidity. A python spokesman hissed "Why can’t they just spread celebrity gossip, movie news and color coded revolutions by putting up highway billboards or sending western union teletubbies or some other quaint and backward american practice? "

If Ahmedinajad isn’t replaced , assassinated or converted to Christianity , he will destroy the entire planet, after stealing Israel’s nukes because Iran doesn't have any, but Israel also doesn't really have any and would never really use them if they had them, except for high holiday celebrations or if anti-Semites existentially threatened the european apartheid state they created in a semitic land which is the middle east’s only real democracy. Read it again.

Obama is a socialist , the Democratic party is controlled by communists and America was founded by white martians who came here to escape persecution by interplanetary dark skinned anglo saxon protestant illuminati jewish mafia lesbian free mason abortionists who circumsized moses, crucified christ, planned and executed 911 and were behind the last Yankee world series victory. Really. It was on Fox.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't Worry: The Free Market is Self-Correcting

The patient is hemorrhaging to death on the floor. We've given 787 billion blood transfusions to the gang that knifed him 42 times, but for some reason the patient is slow to recover. We need to take a "wait and see" approach to find out how much of the gang's blood will trickle down into the dying patient at some unspecified point in the future. Of little can we be certain, but experts agree that the patient will not be able to sit up, let alone walk, for years to come, if ever.

In short, recovery is on the way and our medical system is sound.

Friday, June 19, 2009

False Revolution in Iran

by Michael K. Smith

Every time you think the U.S. media can't misrepresent reality any more preposterously, they turn around and outdo themselves, as they have with the current attempt to portray the losers of the Iranian elections as revolutionaries leading the way to a democratic dawn.

The media czars appear to be quite untroubled by the fact that no evidence has surfaced to substantiate the claim that the Iranian elections were fraudulent. What we are left with, then, is an election with an 85% turnout, far beyond anything seen in the United States, in which Prime Minister Ahmadinejad was the choice of 63% of the voters, with Mousavi gaining slightly more than half that. Moreover, unlike in the U.S., it was a multi-party race in which even candidates that ended up receiving a tiny percentage of the vote were allowed to debate the issues before a national audience. In the United States this is not permitted. Ask Ralph Nader.

How quickly the ballots were counted and who won and who lost in whose hometown does not constitute proof of anything other than a suspicious cast of mind. One can suspect anything one likes, of course, but to substantiate a factual claim one needs proof. Of fraud, there is none.

What about the street violence?

What about it? What would happen in the U.S. if mobs unhappy with an election outcome burned banks and torched buses and attacked the police? What would happen if all this occurred while a foreign state vastly more powerful than the U.S. were engaged in covert operations to overthrow the U.S. government, while it repeatedly stated its willingness to bomb the country and carry out terrorist acts within its territory, as the U.S. and Israel have threatened to do to Iran for years now?

Indeed, what happened at Waco Texas in the Clinton years with no violent provocation at all? Answer: Dozens of American citizens were burned alive by their government.

What about women having to wear the hejab? What of it? Many women feel no conflict in wearing it, convinced they are honoring Allah, not male supremacy. In any case, if the man down the block forces his wife to wear a uniform, does that mean a bully who lets his wife wear what she wants has the right to take over his house?

For Americans to cry foul over the Iranian elections, in sheeplike adherence to our media mind managers, is particularly absurd. A little recent history will show why.

In 1953 the C.I.A. overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran after it nationalized its own oil. The country was turned over to the Shah of Iran, who proved an able student of Nazi torture techniques, which he learned from his Western benefactors, going on to murder and mutilate Iranians on a gargantuan scale. In 1976, Amnesty International reported that his secret police (SAVAK) had carried out more official executions than any other country in the world, a rate Amnesty characterized as "beyond belief." Many victims vanished without a trace. Many were tortured even after they were convicted.

Meanwhile, the U.S. deluged the Shah with billions of dollars of lethal technology, including air-to-air missiles, smart bombs, and aerial tankers, "everything but the atomic bomb," according to a State Department official. An anti-Communist, the Shah was a greatly admired leader of the "Free World," and, as a result, his nuclear program, similar to Iran's nuclear program today, was strongly supported by the U.S..

In 1977 President Jimmy Carter dined with the Shah in the Niyavaran Palace on New Year's Eve. When his turn came to speak, he effusively praised "the great leadership of the Shah," and proclaimed Iran "an island of stability" in a "troubled" region of the world. The region was "troubled" primarily because Arabs and Muslims did not take kindly to Israel murdering and dispossessing them. Carter said Iranian stability was a great tribute "to you, Your Majesty," and to "the respect and the admiration and love" which the Iranian people allegedly felt for him. Overlooking the thousands of political prisoners suffering torture in the Shah's jails, Carter added that, "The cause of human rights is one that also is shared deeply by your people and by the leaders of our two nations." Concluding on a note of utter devotion, he said: "There is no leader with whom I have a deeper sense of personal friendship and gratitude."

The Shah was thrilled. The Iranian people were not. Carter didn't even notice the thousands of young Iranians pelting the army with rocks as he was driven to the airport. Not long after, nationwide riots broke out.

In 1978, the Shah's miserable subjects, fed up with hunger, squalid huts, 13-hour workdays, and the ravages of untreated disease, rocked Teheran with furious protests. Attempting to quell the growing turbulence, the Shah's troops machine-gunned a crowd in Jaleh Square, killing and wounding hundreds. In Washington, President Carter told the Shah's son: "We're thankful for this move toward democracy. We know it is opposed by some who don't like democratic principles but his progressive administration is very valuable, I think, to the entire Western world." The Shah's ambassadors politely queried Washington on its appetite for terror: "Would you accept five thousand deaths? Ten thousand? Twenty thousand?"

In 1979 the Shah was overthrown. When President Carter subsequently allowed him to enter the U.S. to receive medical treatment for cancer at a New York hospital, enraged Iranian protesters seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran along with 66 Americans inside. They held 52 of them for the remainder of the Carter presidency (until January 20, 1981) During this "hostage crisis" the U.S. media portrayed Iranian street demonstrations as circuses manipulated by mad clerics caught up in religious frenzy, never giving credit to the many legitimate grievances they had with the U.S. Conceding that the ex-Shah had tortured his subjects, the Washington Post found it inconsequential, since "it can be argued that it was entirely in the tradition of Iranian history." By this logic, a foreign power could take over the U.S. and lynch its victims, since lynching is entirely consistent with U.S. history.

Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, which killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of Iranians, many of them in repeated poison gas attacks. In 1981, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, a group acting on behalf of the Iraqi regime exploded a 60-pound bomb at a meeting of the ruling Islamic Republican Party in Teheran, blowing apart 71 party leaders who were listening to a speech by the chief justice of the supreme court. Among the dead were four cabinet ministers, six deputy ministers and 27 members of the Iranian parliament. In 1988, the U.S.S. Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian plane in an ascending flight path, killing 290 people on board. Returning to the docks in San Diego, the Commander of the ship was given a hero's welcome. Later he was awarded a medal. Vice President George Bush (Sr.) declared: "I'll never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are."

In recent years the U.S. has been involved in another coup attempt in Iran. In 2007 President George W. Bush authorized the C.I.A. to destabilize the Iranian government. These operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, include a coordinated propaganda campaign, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iranian currency and international banking transactions.

U.S. and Pakistani intelligence backed a separatist militia of militant Sunni tribesmen from the Baluchi region of Iran. The group - Jundallah (Soldiers of God) - carried out murderous raids into Iran from bases in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. "I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran," said Vali Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker confirmed the story, stating that the U.S. was intent on "undermining Iran's nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change." He added that the U.S. Congress had approved up to $400 million to fund the destabilization efforts. "The irony is that we're once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties. Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11 attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

In short, lack of democracy in Iran is a longstanding U.S. value, just as it is around the world. Washington cannot tolerate independent nationalism, and even less a leader who tells the truth to its face about Israel, and refuses to kowtow to Holocaust orthodoxy. Now the Iranian people have spoken and elected Ahmadinejad to a second term. The proper way to respond to this event has been demonstrated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who issued the following statement upon receiving the news:

"The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in the name of the Venezuelan people, confirms to the people and government of the Islamic Republic of Iran its recognition of the extraordinary democratic day evidenced this past Friday, June 12, when presidential elections with historical levels of popular participation took place and resulted in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela hereby declares its firmest rejection of the vicious and unfounded campaign to discredit the institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, unleashed from outside the country, designed to confuse the political climate of our brother country. From Venezuela we denounce these acts of interference in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, at the same time as we demand an immediate end to the maneuvers of intimidation and destabilization against the Islamic Republic.

"The people and government of Venezuela are certain that the Iranian people will know how to solve its internal problems and will continue the path of the Islamic Revolution."

Now there's a gentleman who respects democracy.


Robert Fisk, The Great War For Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East (Knopf, 2005)

William Shawcross, The Shah's Last Ride, (Simon and Schuster, 1988)

Lawrence S. Wittner, Cold War America: From Hiroshima to Watergate, (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1978)

Pierre Salinger and Eric Laurent, Secret Dossier: The Hidden Agenda Behind The Gulf War, (Penguin, 1991)

Noam Chomsky, Towards a New Cold War - Essays on the Current Crisis and How We Got There, (Pantheon, 1973-1982)

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, (South End, 1979)

Reza Baraheni, The Crowned Cannibals, (Vintage, 1976)

Edward Said, Covering Islam, (Vintage, 1981)

Steve Weissman, How Uncle Sam Diddles Democrats From Ukraine to Venezuela, Truthout, June 18, 2009

Chavez saludo y reconoce triunfo de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad y quiere hacer desaparecer Globovision,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Devil’s in the Retails

“Things seem to be getting worse more slowly. There’s some reason to think we’re stabilizing.” Paul Krugman

Economists say the recession is getting better , was never all that bad, will end soon, or is already over. Yes, and the corpse is only slightly dead. Our economy seems like an organism nearing the end of life , with medical salesmen insisting youthful health will return with just one more exorbitantly expensive injection of an imaginary drug .

As consumer shopping becomes less a spending spree on useless waste and more a serious search for the needs of survival, that’s good for humanity, but it’s bad for this economy. The malls look lonely with only bargain stores and thrift shops showing signs of life in a downward trend still relatively slight here, by comparison to the suffering being experienced elsewhere. But even if we are truly nearing an end of one in a series of recessions, it will still be a time of great hardship for millions without credit, jobs or savings. And many members of the upscale class are likely to see a serious downscale in their buying power and life styles.

The collapse of our financial market casino and its forced rescue by taxpayers was a result of the latest scam to bring greater private profit to some of us by delivering greater social loss to most of us. An actuarial capitalist ponzi scheme relied on massive number crunching, with billions of calculations to perform what was called debt leveraging . This was simply the insurance equivalent of selling enough policies so that those who are maimed, crippled or diseased can be paid off, while still leaving plenty left over for profit . But life is not simply complex logarithms, despite what overpaid math majors believed, and ultimately 3 + 2 will always equal 5, not 6 , unless we change the numerical system . What we really need to change is the economic system that not only allows but demands such mathematical immorality. And we need that change more urgently with each delusionary attempt at maintenance of a deadly status quo.

The enormous debt accumulated during this surge of hypothetical calculation marketing is all being assumed by the public, without any democratic control of our investments save for lots of happy talk rhetoric from the latest white house occupant, an affirmative action triumph of late capitalism. He, and especially those who selected and groomed him for the hopeless job of maintaining a collapsing system , are the problem and hardly the solution. Unfortunately, only fundamentalist fanatics of the right are most publicly critical of the new regime, making it difficult to get through the worshipful cult around the president without sounding like an anti-hope fiend. And our programmed ethnic and racial divisions only help highlight individualist solutions that distract us from dealing with our common social problem.

Americans reduced to identity-by-hyphenation need to focus on what follows the hyphen with far more intensity than what precedes it. Divide and conquer politics distract us from understanding the minority group at the commanding heights of the political economy, the one which is being bailed out by all the minorities which compose an unrepresented majority . The now at least partly multicultural minority at the top , thanks to affirmative action, should demand all our attention.

It is foolish for a culturally defined segment of the population to derive satisfaction when one of its alleged members is chosen for a ruling class post, when that person is of the top 5% of the economically defined minority at the top of society, and they are of the bottom 95% . Whose interests will that individual really serve, given the sector it has been chosen by and for? Barriers separating people with common economic interests need to come down so that the employed and unemployed, whether labeled upper middle class, middle class or working poor, can achieve unity to confront the real political and economic problems made worse by supporting that minority at the top , and not remain confused by false divisions among themselves.

We need to become a democratic majority to insure our survival, not as cultural minorities , hyphenated ethnicities or racist subdivisions, but as members of the only scientifically verifiable identity group in which we all hold membership : The human race.

While we are manipulated to support laws that charge individuals with something called hate crimes, we are kept oblivious to a global economy that is one horrendous hate crime, a malevolent social disease that threatens the future of all humanity. The borrowing of more artificially inflated money that is then used to purchase goods and services of materially deflated value can only continue us on the path towards a fate much worse than financial failure.

Many states and municipalities are at or close to bankruptcy and drastically cutting social services when they are most desperately needed. How much more funny money can the federal government print to help them, itself, but mostly finance capital , without a real national calamity? Our combined public and private debt is probably far more than fifty trillion dollars. How much longer will a majority pay interest on that debt, to an undeserving minority, while it squabbles about which identity sector of the majority gets more or less benefits, while not noticing the minority group above them that gets all the benefits, all the time?

Global forces working against the blindly aggressive political economics of environmental and social destruction need to join together, and soon, in order to turn around the inexorable march toward disaster. Retail individual shopping doesn't contradict wholesale social action. Consumers at a fire sale need to become citizens creating democratic power, or the fire next time may consume us all .

Copyright (c) 2009 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

frank scott

Friday, June 5, 2009

Interminable Verbal Diarrhea - Obama in Cairo

Who will get the natural gas concession to Obama's mouth? His intellectual flatulence is apparently uncontainable and his latest burst - in Cairo - takes its place in a long line of hollow Obama addresses that sound bad and smell worse.

Obama speaks, as always, in the value-neutral language of corporate liberalism, sidestepping questions of justice with meaningless concessions of the "mistakes were made" variety.

He says there is "tension" between "the United States and Muslims around the world" but does not say - cannot say - that the U.S. is guilty of systematic and longstanding injustice against both Muslims and Arabs. The words Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Fallujah, U.S. and Israeli war crimes, do not fall from his hypocritical lips.

He claims that the identified "tension" between Islam and the West is "rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate," though there cannot be much doubt that if the U.S. withdrew its support for Israel's apartheid state, Muslim-U.S. tension would drastically decline and perhaps vanish altogether. But Obama does not support such a development, which means he is in favor of perpetuating the vast majority of the "tension" his disingenuous remarks are supposedly designed to dissolve.

Obama does allude to U.S. policy error (but never crimes), however the alleged mistakes always remain safely in the past, and he wants us to believe they were made inadvertently. For example, he says that "Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies" during the Cold War, an inadvertent and forgivable sin because the U.S. was (allegedly) fighting the Evil Empire on behalf of all humanity. He neglects to mention that (1) Muslim-majority countries are still treated as proxies today long after the Soviet Union vanished from the world scene, and (2) the Soviet Union deterred the U.S. from its worst behavior throughout the Cold War. Who can believe that Washington's wars against Yugoslavia and Iraq would have been dared in the face of a Soviet nuclear deterrent?

Obama does concede, however weakly, that the U.S. "played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government," the 1953 Mossadegh government. With the unanimous backing of parliament and overwhelming public support, Prime Minister Mossadegh had dared to nationalize Iranian oil. The CIA retaliated with a coup, overthrowing Mossadegh in favor of Shah Reza Pahlavi. General Fazollah Zahedi, a Nazi collaborator and staunch partison of American oil interests, emerged as the new Iranian Prime Minister, while the CIA's Kermit Roosevelt became Vice-President of Gulf Oil. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles refused to divulge details of the new arrangements on the grounds that "making them public would affect adversely the foreign relations of the United States." The New York Times hailed the destruction of Iranian democracy as "good news indeed," calling the putsch "an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid" by a country that "goes berserk with fanatical nationalism." Thousands of Mossadegh supporters were dispatched to jail, torture chambers, and graveyards. Why didn't Obama mention these details? Perhaps because they make his professed belief that "no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other" look ridiculous.

But even without them his statement that, "we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children" sounds patently absurd. There is no state on earth that kills more innocent civilians than the United States and nothing has changed in that regard under the Obama Administration. We are still killing Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, and Palestinians and we have no intention of stopping. Quite the contrary. Obama declared in Cairo that it is his first responsibility to "protect the American people," which means a continuation of just such policies.

Furthermore, in treating torture as an excess of Washington's post-911 policy, Obama overlooks the fact that U.S. torture long pre-dates 911 and will certainly continue by proxy even in the wake of Obama's proud declaration that "I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States."

Meanwhile, while condemning anti-Semitic stereotypes in the Muslim world Obama said nothing about Jewish demonization of Islam, which is the successor to the demonization of Communism that made possible the infliction of massive U.S. injustices on peoples struggling for their basic human rights throughout the world. In Cairo he said that "repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong" but he didn't even mention the vile stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims as congenital terrorists that constantly occurs in the U.S. media and movie industry. If this is fair play, prejudice is superfluous. Moreover, it should be pointed out that USrael's injustices against Muslims today are no more inadvertent error than were injustices committed against "Marxists" and "Soviet proxies" in the past; both were and are conscious policies designed to advance Zionist and U.S. corporate interests over the interests of Muslim and non-Muslim peoples alike, whatever the human cost. Obama has not broken with this tradition whatsoever.

Obama repeatedly refers to "violent extremists" as being the problem that should draw everyone together, but U.S. leaders somehow don't fit the designation, in spite of the massive violence they commit against civilians throughout the world, while those who take up arms to deter further such attacks do merit the label. Nowhere does he see fit to mention what ought to be done about Washington illegally invading sovereign nations and slaughtering civilians. The only national security question that deeply interests Obama is whether U.S. wars are to be designated "of necessity" (smart wars) or "of choice" (dumb wars). According to this peculiar optic slaughtering Iraqis is "dumb" (though forgivable) while slaughtering Afghans and Pakistanis is "smart." But in both cases he regards U.S. leaders as morally blameless, and he specifically mentions in the case of Iraq that the Iraqi people are "better off" without Saddam Hussein. Of course, the United States might very well have been "better off" without George Bush as president, but did this mean that another nation had the right to kill him and occupy the country? Obviously not.

Clearly, Obama would like us to forget that disastrous liberal leaders regularly claim, as he does, that "violent extremists" threaten good people everywhere and justify a U.S. policy of permanent counterinsurgency and war. This is what we were told about Korea and Vietnam, "police actions" that killed millions of civilians. This is what we were told about El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, whose tiny populations have been tortured and murdered by U.S. imperialism on an appalling scale. This is what we were told about the PLO when virtually the entire world recognized it as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This is what we are still told about Hizbollah, Hamas, and the government of Iran, though all three are legal entities elected to power. Somehow it escapes Obama's attention that it is the U.S., endlessly beholden to "violent extremists" who refuse to allow any alternative to Jewish supremacy and corporate capitalism, that is far and away the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," as Martin Luther King reminds us in one of his greatest speeches. Don't expect President Obama, supposedly a great admirer of Dr. King, to use that quote anytime soon.

Furthermore, Obama claims nonsensically that "resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed," adding that "it was not violence that won full and equal rights" for black people in the U.S. This is a curious and inconsistent position. In the first place, if violent resistance truly is wrong, then it does not matter whether it succeeds or not. Wrong is wrong. Secondly, with the exception of a few pacifists no one, including Obama, really believes that violence is ineffective. Did the American Revolution triumph without the aid of violence? Obviously not. Does Obama look favorably on the American Revolution? Obviously, he does. So violent resistance can work. Furthermore, it is simply not true that black people non-violently won "full and equal rights" in the United States. Aside from the important question of whether black people in the U.S. enjoy equal rights even today, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution were a product of the Civil War, which ended chattel slavery via horrendous violence and laid the basis for legal equality through endless challenges in the courts. Without these, the civil rights movement could have played no role at all.

Obama also ignores U.S. and Israeli imperial violence, preferring to reduce intractable conflict to a psychological problem. "The cycle of suspicion and discord must end . . . . So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace." But is the cycle really "suspicion and discord," or rather, injustice and resistance? And how is it possible, let alone advisable, to ignore the distinction between oppression and resistance? Obviously, in Obama's eyes, those who take up arms against U.S. and Israeli imperial violence are guilty of "sow[ing] hatred." But is this really vile hatred, or rather, appropriate hatred of injustice? One can certainly debate the morality of violent resistance, but one is supposed to hate injustice.

In a show of false high-mindedness, Obama claims that "it is easy to point fingers" when in fact the personal and political cost of blaming the Jewish state for its hideously racist actions is more than daunting. Professors critical of the Holy State are run out of academia, politicians hounded out of office, newspapers harassed and defunded, books marginalized, careers ruined. And only the suicidally reckless dare wonder whether hugely disproportionate Jewish influence in the U.S. mass media is a factor in producing the relentless anti-Muslim, anti-Arab bias seen in its programming. Easy to point fingers? Quite the contrary. It is far easier to suck up to power, which is how Obama got where he is.

Obama claims that "six million Jews were killed" in an "unprecedented Holocaust" during WWII, and adds that, "denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful." He neglects to indicate how this nice round figure is arrived at, and does not bother to mention that even Raul Hillberg, the dean of Holocaust historians, puts the figure at 5.1 million, with other well-regarded writers adhering to even lower estimates. Is Obama saying that Raul Hillberg was an ignorant and hateful man? Probably not, but that is the logical import of his remarks.

Furthermore, why is it hateful to state that one does not believe a fact, or an alleged fact, that is widely accepted by others? This makes little sense. Most U.S. citizens vastly understate the number of deaths caused by the U.S. holocaust in Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, but this hardly means that Americans are hateful towards Vietnamese, or Asians in general, and it would be bizarre to insist on the validity of such tortured logic. But organized Jewry is apparently entitled to a separate standard. Why?

Supposedly a brilliant man, President Obama thinks in the vague language of impotent cliche, repeatedly warning us to "make no mistake" and "let there be no doubt," just as Richard Nixon constantly declared "let me make this perfectly clear." He speaks vacuously of "moving forward," when he obviously doesn't know which way he's facing. He talks piously of "seeking common ground," "listening to each other," "respecting one another," "learning from each other," "sharing common aspirations," "focusing on the future," not being "bound by the past," of "deepening ties," of "undeniable progress," of "flames of division," and of "fear" and "mistrust," all divorced from any social context or set of political actors that would reveal where moral responsibility for injustice lies. But this is just the point. If he spelled out precisely the political context he is referring to, his empty rhetoric would be seen for what it is - an irrelevant distraction from horrendous conflicts Obama has no remedy for and, in fact, intends to perpetuate.


William Shawcross, "The Shah's Last Ride," (Simon and Schuster, 1988)

Cedric Belfrage, "The American Inquisition, 1945-1960," (Thunder's Mouth, 1973)

Noam Chomsky, "Towards a New Cold War," (Pantheon, 1973)

Lawrence S. Wittner, "Cold War America: From Hiroshima to Watergate," (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1978)