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Wed

01

Nov

2006

The Balance of Power: China and Wal-Mart

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 – if not Australia, for reasons I'll elucidate below – 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 – the world's largest corporate entity – or certain Non-governmental Organizations – such as those founded by Soros or Gates –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."



 

Mon

02

Oct

2006

War in Heaven: Woodward's Book and the Establishment Insurgency

Bob Woodward has long been the voice of the American Establishment – or of certain quadrants of it, at any rate. When Richard Nixon's criminal depredations and mental instability had gone too far and it was decided to rein him in, former military intelligence officer Woodward was there as a safe pair of hands to receive the damning revelations of "Deep Throat" and help bring down the Nixon presidency. When the Establishment decided it was best to throw in with the Bush Faction's aggressive militarism after 9/11 – lots of big money to be made out of war and fear, and those tax cuts were just too sweet to pass up -- Woodward was there again, with a series of stories and books which, as Michiko Kakutani notes in the New York Times, "depicted the president — in terms that the White House press office itself has purveyed — as a judicious, resolute leader, blessed with the 'vision thing' his father was accused of lacking and firmly in control of the ship of state."

 

Wed

13

Sep

2006

War, Crime, Propaganda, and Judeo-Fascism

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Slithered back recently into the lexicon of the Bush administration, Israel's Ohmert crowd, and their supporters in the corporate media, a new meme to help you better understand what the dated, "War on Terror" really means, and what it demands of the citizenry: "Islamo-Fascism," and its interchangeable synonyms, "Islamic Fascism," and "Islamic Terrorism" are the action phrases of the day, and as with much of the language heard coming from these actors over the past years, the au courant terms describe best their authors' values and methods.


www.PEJ.org

 

Wed

01

Nov

2006

US-Latin American Relations: Ruptures, Reaction and the Times of the Past

by James Petras


Introduction


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 ‘end of US hegemony’, the growth of a ‘New Left’, the ‘revival of populism’ and the ‘loss of US influence’. Those on the Left herald the purported changes as a moment of progressive regional realignment. The Right speaks pessimistically of the threats to ‘national security and democracy’, and access to energy and other resources. One sector on the Left claims to perceive a new regional ‘axis of counter hegemony’ led by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia sweeping the continent. While other prudent conservative observers argue that a broad ‘center-left’ alternative headed by ‘social democratic’ 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.


 

Thu

21

Sep

2006

Immaculate Conception: A Squirt in the White House

George W. Bush's innumerable sycopants like to potray him as a down-to-earth man of the people: a man's man, tough and fearless, a good-ole-boy Texas rancher more at home in the scrub brush and desert dirt than in the clean, carpeted corridors of power in Washington.

What then to make of the jarring cognitive dissonance that arises from the portrait of Bush evoked by a passing anecdote briefly noted in the Washington Examiner: the president as a prissy, panicky, possibly obsessive-compulsive prig, requiring a servant to stand next to him and sanitize his hands after pressing the flesh with a visitor?


 

Wed

07

Jul

2004

Jason Leopold: Armitage Shmarmitage

By Jason Leopold

In April, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald filed a court document in the CIA leak case claiming his staff had obtained evidence during the course of the three-year-old probe that proves "multiple" White House officials were engaged in a coordinated effort to discredit former ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Those officials, Fitzgerald said, eventually disclosed Wilson's wife's covert CIA status to the media as retribution for his public criticism of the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

But the mainstream media has chosen to ignore those facts now that former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage broke his silence Thursday and admitted that he told syndicated columnist Robert Novak and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

According to these mainstream publications, Armitage's mea culpa proves there wasn't a White House campaign to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife's identity.

Oh really?

 

Thu

02

Nov

2006

Who Let The COW Into The Classroom?

By Tom Chartier  

Yes, that’s right you heard me. Who let the COW into the classroom? No, no, no, not the mooing, milk-producing, four-legged bovine. I’m talking about COW: Curriculum On Wheels, a teaching device produced by Ignite! Learning

COWs are the latest gadgetry in a long line of “easy teaching” scams swallowed by incompetent school administrators, lazy teachers and helpless parents desperate for any sign of learning from their children… like a grade of C+ in “health studies.” 

Basically, COWs are self contained software projectors complete with all the bells and whistles one wants in the “iStupid” 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. Let’s see how Mr. Bighead explains Pluto’s demotion from planet to mere space rock. 

 

Wed

01

Nov

2006

Midterm Elections 2006: It's Always Darkest, Right Before ... It Goes Completely Black

by Phil Rockstroh

If voting could change the system, it would be illegal.
--Theodore Adorno

"I can't go on. I'll go on.
--Samuel Beckett


One's actions grow out of one's beliefs. Beliefs grow out of the ecosystem of our collective lives known as culture. In this way, cultures are organic: they germinate, sprout, grow, bloom, bear fruit, then fade in accordance with the climes and terrain of the times.

America now grows: paranoid delusions and wishful thinking. These are our national plant and staple crop, respectively.

 



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 – as well as proliferate assorted nuts.

 

Wed

01

Nov

2006

America the Temporary

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.

 

Tue

31

Oct

2006

The "War for Oil" Comes Home
by Chris Floyd

U.S. Drops Bid Over Royalties From Chevron

The "War for Oil" is not just being fought in Iraq, you know. For as the Warmonger-in-Chief never tires of telling us, the "Homeland" itself is a major front in his never-ending war on – not terror, because his policies are fomenting and exacerbating terrorism around the world – but on anything and everything that might impinge in the slightest degree on the profits, power and privilege of the tiny clique of predatory elites that he represents.

The NYT story, an excellent piece of explanatory journalism by Edmund Andrews, lays out the details of the scam – just one of many by which Big Oil uses its hired hands in Washington to cheat the American people out of billions of dollars in fees and royalties from the use of public land for corporate profit. As Andrews makes clear, the entire system is honeycombed with sweetheart clauses and deliberate ambiguities that allow the oil barons to take vast rake-offs – some of which they obligingly return in various forms of baksheesh to their political servants.


 

Wed

01

Nov

2006

Threats to Hugo Chavez As Venezuela's December Presidential Election Approaches

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 job.

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 campaign appearance.

 

 

Mon

30

Oct

2006

Imperial Default for Dummies

by Paul William Roberts

 

Editor's Note: Our Senior Writer, Paul William Roberts, gives us a rollicking tour of the Bush-induced Gotterdamerung in Iraq. Roberts, whose book, A War Against Truth, is one of the very best accounts of the mad march to aggression, was in Iraq during the earliest days of the invasion, as "Shock and Awe" gave way to shakedown and atrocity. If you want to grasp the realities about the Middle East, about the Iraq war, ask someone who knows. Paul William Roberts knows. 

A friend of mine in Baghdad wrote to me a few days ago about a conversation he’d had with an elderly lady from West Virginia who was seated next to him on an airplane between Los Angeles and Washington earlier this year. The subject under discussion was how Iraqis generally view the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, and my friend was trying to find an analogy that would work for a sweet eighty-five-year-old grandmother who had never traveled anywhere beyond the USA in her life. He came up with this:

Imagine you are visiting with one of your daughters who is married to a man who is a bit of a brute. He beats the kids occasionally and has knocked her about from time to time as well. You don’t like it, she doesn’t like it, the kids don’t like it, but at the end of the day he’s Dad, he works hard, he provides, and no one’s going to break up the family after all this time – besides, the monster’s mellowing with age and hasn’t hit anyone very hard in a long while.

So there you all are, watching TV one night, the kids doing their homework or playing downstairs, your daughter preparing dinner in the kitchen, the son-in-law having his beer and reading the sports page….When all of a sudden, the front door is smashed open, there are loud explosions all around the house, and five men come crashing in through the windows on ropes, as another five pour through the broken door firing guns.

One of the kids is killed, another staggers around covered in blood screaming, a third lies groaning somewhere nearby, then flames erupt from the kitchen as your daughter runs out, her body on fire, and you feel something smash into your knee breaking the leg. Before anyone can work out what’s happening, there’s another terrifying explosion above and the house rocks from side to side as the roof caves in and the whole structure collapses around you in rubble and dust. As you wipe the gravel and concrete from your face, you see that some of the intruders have handcuffed the son-in-law and are dragging him away at gunpoint. One of these gunmen then comes over and identifies himself as a representative of the Chinese Children’s Aid Society of Beijing, saying they would have come sooner but they had trouble getting visas.

They were here now, though, and your family was at last free of the brute and you could finally relax. Another gunman sweeps a bit of rubble to one side with a broom and apologizes for the mess, giving you the business card of a local contractor who also happens to be a friend of his brother and specializes in fixing houses reduced to rubble for a reasonable price. The men then say in a chorus, Have a nice day! They throw the brute into a van and are off leaving you sitting there alone in the dark with raindrops starting to pitter-patter on your head. How do you think you would you feel about all this?

“Well, I wouldn’t be happy,” the old lady apparently replied.

“And that’s pretty much how we feel,” said my friend.


 

Wed

01

Nov

2006

THE COUCH POTATO: Psychoanalysis of a President

Via sources unknown and by methods unclear ("Stuff happens" – 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 havin’ problems, Doc…

JF : Yes?

GWB: Big fuckin’ problems…

JF : Tell me…

GWB: My Dad wont take my calls…My wife’s foolin’ around on me…my senior advisers just admitted they’ve been lyin’ to me…and my best friend brought me a present back from England…

JF : A Tony Blair voodoo doll?

GWB: No, I already got one…It was a T-shirt that says, “Bush is just another word for cun—er…for vagina…but in English…”

JF : And how does that make you feel?

 

 

Tue

31

Oct

2006

McMarching Through Georgia

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.


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.


 

Wed

01

Nov

2006

Postcards of the Hanging: Race and Sex in Tennessee

"The past is never dead; it's not even past." -- William Faulkner



WATERTOWN, Tennessee – 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 – 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 – 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 – or rather, galloping – 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 – 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 – once considered a lock for the Republicans – 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 – and worse – 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 – Bob Corker, a typical tycoon-politician with a bland manner masking sharp practice in his murky business dealings – 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.)

 

Tue

31

Oct

2006

The Enlightenment of Resistance

by Manuel Valenzuela

 

Only by understanding ourselves and the parameters of our existence can a better humanity arise. Only through deep introspections of history past and humanity present can resistance commence and renaissance be born. We must mold who and what we are into a higher being, forming from the clays of Earth a better, more evolved human species, learning from our mistakes, advancing through our triumphs, understanding ourselves and those unknown, joining our strengths and eliminating our weaknesses, in the end working in concert towards the betterment of six billion, not simply 300 million.

 
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