Comments: Honduras: some hope, not enough change

After being in Honduras from May 25, 2009 to July 20, 2009, I yearn to see the country not turned over to the communist, and from what I have seen it is not hard to see the agenda of Zelaya and the Media covering him. Following the likes of Chavez, Ortega, and Castro and others. So how come people can not see that the only agenda of Michelleti and the congress is to prevent it from taking over their country. Why are people so set on getting Zelaya back in with only a few months left to be in office, by law and constitution. If Zelaya was only looking out for the best interest of Honduras, he would have resigned, after he was caught red handed,and he was, if he thinks he has a chance of the left, the media and Chavez to get him back in office he'll be there at any cost.

Posted by Jess Turner at August 8, 2009 06:59 PM

Remember Iran/ Contra? Round 2 in progress. The best thing the Hondurans can do for themselves, 1) arrest and deport ANYONE named Olie or North or both. 2) Don't expect anything in the way of constructive help from the USA. 3) Read their history books, especially the part mentioning modern LEADERSHIP PROBLEMS in IRAN.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 8, 2009 07:22 PM

Thanks to Jess Turner for ripping the lip off the communist agenda of the Media. Giant corporations like ABC, NBC, CBS and the New York Times have always wanted to the turn the country over to the communist. The communist must be stop.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at August 8, 2009 08:05 PM

Unfortunately, the administration is still applying military aid elsewhere: http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/1813-tons-of-imperial-fun-hellfire-hillary-pours-oil-on-somalias-fire.html

Posted by Jenny at August 8, 2009 08:38 PM

The post by Jess Turner was helpful because it nicely demonstrates exactly how the Right, both here in the US and in Latin America, views the situation in Honduras. There is an article by Miguel Tinker Salas about this at Counterpunch.

http://www.counterpunch.org/salas08072009.html

I wonder about this Jess Turner, because I'm not in the frame of mind given the antics of the GOP of late to see such things as uncoordinated. There is, as it so happens, a Jess Turner who gave quite a lot of money to Texas Republicans last year. He identifies his employment as "Self Employed/Industrial Securities." That certainly is tantalizingly vague, and apparently that job is lucrative enough for that Jess Turner to shell out many thousands of dollars in political contributions to the Texas Right, which is just south of crazy and just east of evil. I wonder if it's the same Jess Turner, or perhaps a relative, and I also wonder what the patriotic Jess Turner who posted at ATR was doing down in Honduras starting in May. (How could I see the word "Dallas" and not wonder that? You can't beat that to yank my chain.)

Anyway, enough of the Jeff Turner mystery. Here's the link.

http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/contributions/jess-turner.asp?cycle=08

Whatever the deal is with Jess Turner, all those new U.S. bases in Colombia don't bode well for what's going on in SOCOM. Think of something more productive to do or start getting ready to light some more candles, because the South American right and the U.S. military are unquestionably NOT going to let this populism in Latin America continue to grow indefinitely. That hasn't been our approach since the Good Neighbor Policy died with FDR, and we don't seem to be on the verge of embracing that sort of neighborly view of international relations again anytime soon. Maybe Obama can hold off trouble for a while, if like me you think that is his leaning, but there are more than a few ways to force a President's hand even if he is reluctant. (It's too bad we can't know what is going on within the Administration or know what the military and the right wing NGOs have been doing in Honduras on their own.)

I have to get any info I can find these days from links that Nell and others provide, which for me have been very informative. Just remember that whatever you read probably understates the reality. The Right in Latin America views this as a battle for their way of life and even survival, and our military is very aggressive about protecting what they view as our national interests, so there isn't much that the two together can't rationalize. They won't hold back forever, even if that ultimately means rivers of blood. If you look at a timeline of bloody U.S. interventions in the region, we're overdue.

Posted by N E at August 8, 2009 10:14 PM

I've been following Honduran events closely, Nell, and I'd say that is a fair summary. And kudos to you for fessing up that your initial take was incorrect. The "progressive left" sites that pushed the Iran story non-stop have apparently decided to ignore the Honduras story because they either want the coup to succeed or, more charitably (but not much so), because they just don't want to embarrass Obama and derail the (crappy) health care reform and other items on the "progressive" agenda.

The Honduran people, however, have proved mighty impressive and may very well derail the plans of the golpistas and the White House/Foggy Bottom. For the sake of Honduras and the rest of Latin America, I sincerely hope they do.

Posted by Rojo at August 8, 2009 10:42 PM

@ N E: "Maybe Obama can hold off trouble for a while, if like me you think that is his leaning [...]"

I can make sense of this only if understood as the Obama regime preferring to *defer* the rightist, military offensive against Latin American left popular movements/governments to a more opportune time. I can't imagine that anyone remains under any delusion that Obama is a 'liberal' in any meaningful sense.

Posted by Phillip Allen at August 8, 2009 11:35 PM

I always thought the New York Times was Communist.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 8, 2009 11:45 PM

Philip Allen:

Just because it's called the "Obama administration" and just because Obama is "Commander in Chief" doesn't mean he is always in effective control of what is going on throughout the vast National Security state we have. That isn't so at all. Those National Security types take National Security a lot more seriously than democracy. They became National Security types and not election workers for a reason.

We do actually still have some rather Neanderthal warmongers around in the military, in the federal bureaucracy, in the private sector, in Congress, in the media, in the NGOs that you don't hear about that have been getting lots of federal funding for a long while and that do mischief abroad, and damn near everywhere else. Throw a rock and you might well hit one. Those folks don't just become powerless when a new President takes over. Seriously. Those are the people who want to kill Latin American populism. I do not count Obama as their ally or friend.

I hope you don't think that what our military is doing in Central Asia and the Middle East and Latin America and everywhere else is happening because Obama decided that's the way it should be. Your intuition should tell you that the National Security State isn't something an elected President can direct any which way, at his whim, once he takes office. All Presidents are basically preselected because of the need for huge amounts of money to campaign, and because a hostile media would also be ruinous to them, as it was to Ron Paul, so they have to sign onto the program before being allowed to win the election. In that sense, it is correct that Obama cut a deal with the devil, as every President does. But that's just the crappy system we have, and everyone with any chance to win cuts that deal.

So Obama isn't the root of the problem, even if he isn't a solution either. And now that he's President, he has a tiger by the tail. I'm sure he doesn't want to invade Venezuela, and my only question is whether he'll eventually get maneuvered into it. I hope not.

Posted by N E at August 9, 2009 01:31 AM

N E, your points are taken. Obama and his government are merely the executive committee of the ruling class; their task is to manage empire more effectively than their challenging faction was projected to do. The differences between the factions are primarily tactical and only sometimes strategic. On matters of principle there is virtual identity between them.

I don't believe that Obama would have any qualms whatever with invading Venezuela, if doing so did not complicate other projects of empire already underway elsewhere and did not interfere with managing the ongoing looting of the domestic population. I think that whatever personal moral, ethical or political beliefs Obama may have are completely irrelevant to his performance as spokesmodel for the empire. He didn't get where he is by having any real issues with the status quo. He's not an Agent of Hope and Change, he just played one on TV and suckered millions who were sick on the horrors of the Bush years into believing that the Jubilee was at hand, if he were but elevated to be president.

What we find we have is Bushist politics in a new package -- All New! Improved! Now With More Melanin!

Posted by Phillip Allen at August 9, 2009 10:15 AM

Just substitute thew word "jew" for communists and Jess Turners imperialist world view is easily seen for what it is.....

"So how come people can not see that the only agenda of Michelleti and the congress is to prevent it-the world wide jewish conspiracy- from taking over their country."

Ho-hum...more imperial alibis passed of as just the disinterested and benevolent actions of the Washington branch of the Red Cross.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 9, 2009 10:20 AM

Philip Allen: I don't agree with any of that, but i'm going to try to stay on topic.

There is a recent article on the shutting down of some medical facilities in honduras at the Huffington post. I thought it good, though it attributed to the Guatemalan Rios Montt both Mao's famous analogy about guerrilla war and the US military's counter-insurgency response, developed in response to Mao by the US military after WWII and ever since taught at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning to the Latin American military elites.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/honduran-coup-government_b_254033.html

Posted by N E at August 9, 2009 10:47 AM

Thanks, Rojo.

My take on the libs' silence on Honduras is more charitable: it's small, it's extremely poor, only Latin Americanists and Central America solidarity types in the U.S. know the first thing about the country, coup supporters successfully muddied the media narrative of the background to the events of June 28, and hemispheric intervention is a classic example of an issue that highlights the divide between left and liberal.

However, it's time for those of us who are following along more closely to enlist the help of liberal friends and bloggers. After a month and a half, the U.S. silence on the coup regime's abuses is just deafening. Bloggers who haven't been covering this could still make a real contribution by giving the situtation publicity on Tuesday, as their contribution to the Global Day of Action.

Al Giordano's emphasis on the role of the popular movement in resistance to the coup is a welcome counterweight to "analysis" that focuses only on political and diplomatic maneuverings at the top. His summary of the cracks that have appeared recently in the coup-supporting Honduran power structure is very worthwhile, and just about the only such account in English. But he's over-the-top triumphalist about what the Honduran people can win in the short term.

What the U.S. government does will make a difference. For the sake of our own democracy as well as in the rest of the hemisphere, we need to call out the Obama administration and make some specific demands:

- Recognize and condemn the human rights violations being committed by the coup regime in Honduras.*

- Formally declare it a military coup to trigger the Foreign Assistance Act: cut off U.S. economic aid and withdraw Ambassador Llorens.

- Revoke the diplomatic visas of all coup participants and supporters.

- Freeze the U.S. assets of all coup officials and funders.

- Join with other Latin American governments to pledge not to recognize the results of the November elections unless they're held under the legitimate elected government headed by Pres. Zelaya.

-----
*These include: Illegal decrees suspending constitutional freedoms and imposing arbitrary curfews; media suppression; violent response to peaceful demonstrations: tear gas, water cannon, live fire that has already killed two people and wounded many more, beatings, and mass arrests; threats to, attacks on, and assassinations of coup opponents and their families. These and more have been documented by several human rights groups, in the most detail by an international investigating committee; their preliminary report of July 23, and the final report [Spanish]

Posted by Nell at August 9, 2009 11:37 AM

Philip Allen @10:15am/tony @10:20am: EXACTLY.
NE @1:31am: AGREED.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 9, 2009 11:38 AM

After all of the greening of the Internet over the disputed election in Iran, you have to wonder what the appropriate color to change your Twitter icon is if you wanted to take note of an actual coup in Honduras.

Posted by darrelplant at August 9, 2009 01:49 PM

darrelplant: Concidering THEIR history, green works or maybe lightgreen.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 9, 2009 02:14 PM

I made a comment some hours ago now that has quite a few links. Jon, can you help free it from moderation?

Posted by Nell at August 9, 2009 02:23 PM

Nobody is going to organize media coverage for the poor who support Zelaya in Honduras. The coup in Honduras was planned, not spontaneous, and the media blitz that followed it almost certainly wasn't done on the fly either, because it wouldn't be smart to have a coup without getting the advance work done for the inevitable media attention that would follow. Nor would the Pentagon and the American corporate interests and NGOs likely have been out of the loop. That is almost inconceivable, given the closeness of those relationships. What we don't know is what information made its way to the NSC and from there to Obama. My presumption, based on what has happened in the past, is probably not that much. There may even have been a belief that Obama was preoccupied and wouldn't want to take political risks right about now, making it a relatively good time to act.


Iran is basically the flip side of the same story. The social class most benefitting from all that twittering in Iran was the urban educated. The political class benefitting from it seemed to be corrupt former officials who would prosper from opening up the Iranian political system, and who have in the past have had lucrative dealings with Western corporate and government interests and intel (not much difference). Each would prefer more liberalization and closer relations to the West and all that Western money. Western interests, principally related to energy, have a lot at stake in and around Iran. The precise objective of all that we don't know, but I doubt there was any expectation that Khameini and Achmadinejad would lose power. I presume the goal was to further isolate Iran politically and make it difficult for Obama and the multilateralists around him to strike a deal with the Iranians that the Western unilateralist hard-liners don't like. But neither the unilateralist hard-liners nor the multilateralists want Iran to make progress toward getting nukes, because that would change the balance of power regionally. The worry isn't that Iran will use nukes itself, but that it would be emboldened in the region by not having to worry so much about the possibility of being obliterated. We, the big dog, don't like the little dogs trying to eat some of our food.

The election protests in Iran, and certainly the resulting media response, certainly seemed very well orchestrated. And that almost had to be true of Honduran coup too. The same entities and interests, ideologically classifed, must have been involved in each case, though the individuals were probably different. In both instances, the goal was to undercut "populist" forces in the region that are perceived as enemies and escalate regional tensions, which inevitably leads to a greater U.S. regional role and strengthens the hand of our military. They like that.

So goes life in the empire.

Posted by N E at August 9, 2009 03:25 PM

Just realized that I have the wonder-working power to free my own comment from moderation; it's at 11:37 am above. I'm updating the post to highlight the actions our government needs to be urged to take.

Posted by Nell at August 9, 2009 04:02 PM

CONTROL of OPEC! hint: The dollar is joined at the hip to OIL.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 9, 2009 04:05 PM

pshh who cares about ~AFRICA~ anyway?

Posted by tim at August 9, 2009 04:21 PM

@ Philip Allen

Why is NE's implication so difficult for you to grasp? Is it not clear to you by now that Obama is a prisoner of his own administration? Against overwhelming odds he's really trying man. Can't you see that?

Just give him time. Such negativity.

Posted by Coldtype at August 9, 2009 07:49 PM

Nice sarcasm Coldtype. Sarcasm is almost as effective as negativity, so if you just add a touch of cynicism, the world will be your oyster. Maybe you can put a curse on Obama and see if that helps.

In the meantime, if you've got time for it, you could respond to Nell's call for help. Whether or not Obama is the real bad guy, generating political pressure on the administration to do something can only help. As I see things, this isn't a good time for the administration to have a fight with the bureaucracy and military, so they'll probably need more than a little pushing.

You also might see if you can think of a way to prepare to deal with the longer term problem, which doesn't disappear or even get smaller when we're not thinking about it. Those bases in Colombia are not good.

Posted by N E at August 9, 2009 08:46 PM

Nell: YOU have persuaded me. I'll promote those 4 points when I call Nan(1-202-225-0100)EVERY business day.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 9, 2009 09:27 PM

Nell: I mention the removal of JAY BYBEE from the 9th circuit bench, FIRST thing each day. So I must point out the HYPOCRACY I WILL be promoting, concidering GITMO.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 9, 2009 10:49 PM

As I see things, this isn't a good time for the administration to have a fight with the bureaucracy and military...

I would love to see what "a good time for the administration to have a fight with the bureaucracy and military" looks like. I imagine it's something like "a good time for the administration to have a fight with Goldman Sachs." Or "a good time for pigs to sprout wings and fly."

That's why the military-industrial complex has gone unchallenged for the past 60 years. There's just never a good time for it.

Posted by SteveB at August 10, 2009 08:42 AM

SteveB:

"That's why the military-industrial complex has gone unchallenged for the past 60 years. There's just never a good time for it."

That's not far off the mark, though you really haven't been paying attention all that much if you think the 'military-industrial complex' has gone unchallenged for the past 60 years. (There was that one President who got shot in the head, for example. And that civil rights leader who started opposing the Vietnam war and got shot within the year. And that Presidents younger brother who also got shot in the head when he looked like he was going to be our next President and get us out of Vietnam. And that Democratic Congress in the 70s that tried to reign in the CIA for a time, before getting tarnished as unpatriotic liberals. And there was that Democratic President who fired most of the CIA's Department of Plans and soon got a taste of what sort of political problems that gets you. But I get your point--it has been a while.)

My point, and it's buttressed by this deal with the pharmaceutical companies that smells bad to me, is that Obama doesn't have a lot of extra political capital to spend right now, and given how highly your average American prioritizes Honduran democracy, Obama will probably need a lot of pushing to be willing to get aggresive with the Honduran bad guys right now. That's all I meant to say. Isn't that sort of obvious?

So you better call Mike Meyer's friend Nancy Pelosi, the State Department and everybody else extra often to try to make this an issue the administration is willing to fight about. And tell them to stay out of South America while you're at it.

Posted by N E at August 10, 2009 10:16 AM

My point, and it's buttressed by this deal with the pharmaceutical companies that smells bad to me, is that Obama doesn't have a lot of extra political capital to spend right now...

The lesson you draw from Obama's corrupt secret deal with Big Pharma is that "Obama doesn't have a lot of extra political capital to spend right now"?

Really? Because I draw a completely different lesson. The lesson I draw is that Barack Obama is a man who has built his entire political career on getting powerful interests into a room and asking them, "What will it take to make you happy"?

I have plenty of evidence I can point to in support of this belief, including everything Obama has done since taking office. What evidence do you have?

Posted by SteveB at August 10, 2009 07:33 PM

I'm with SteveB on this one, as my post should make clear. The side deals on health care the White House is cutting are especially offensive in light of their pretense that they're letting Congress take the lead.

Just as mocking anti-coup activists with the charge that we've somehow become interventionists is especially offensive -- when the smooth m.f. hasn't said a single word in criticism of the murders, assaults, martial law, and media censorship.

Posted by Nell at August 10, 2009 08:53 PM

SteveB:

You wrote: "The lesson I draw is that Barack Obama is a man who has built his entire political career on getting powerful interests into a room and asking them, "What will it take to make you happy?"


That certainly sounds sinister, especially with all that unmentioned evidence you are holding back, but if you want me to take that particular criticism of Obama seriously, please give me a point of comparison by naming a President or two of whom you don't think that was true so I know what Obama should be striving for in that regard, in your view.

Posted by N E at August 10, 2009 08:56 PM

Nell/Steve B: one word---groupie. Love is indeed blind.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 10, 2009 09:35 PM

t if you want me to take that particular criticism of Obama seriously, please give me a point of comparison by naming a President or two of whom you don't think that was true...

I have no idea what you're getting at here. I didn't claim Obama is worse that other presidents. I claimed that his modus operandi is to get powerful actors in a room, find out what they want, and then give it to them. That's certainly what he's done with the banking industry, with the coal industry, with the pharmaceutical industry and the health insurance industry and the military-industrial complex. The starting point for all legislation under Obama is what industry is willing to accept. Then things get worse from there.

Your claim, as far as I can understand it, is that Obama does these things (or at least you haven't denied that he does these things) but he doesn't want to, and is forced to by circumstances beyond his control. Given that you're essentially making an argument about the contents of Barack Obama's head, I can't even imagine what kind of evidence you could produce to back up this claim. So I won't bother to ask a second time.

Posted by SteveB at August 10, 2009 10:32 PM

Maybe it's only me, but it still isn't clear to me how we should regard events in Honduras. The measures Nell recommends sound modest and possibly appropriate, and make me wish-- no doubt in vain-- that such modest steps were the most we would ever do in terms of interfering with other countries' affairs.

Also, I am somewhat surprised to find myself agreeing with SteveB's assessment of Obama's modus operandi-- which, when you think about it, is basically like Dick Cheney's but with less glowering.

Posted by grimmy at August 11, 2009 03:28 AM

REMOVE ALL FOREIGN AID FROM HONDURAS, call Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100. Why finance YET another military junta?

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 11, 2009 10:54 AM

Obama's modus operandi-- which, when you think about it, is basically like Dick Cheney's but with less glowering.

To be fair to Obama, this is the modus operandi of all American presidents (which, I think, was NE's point above.) For all intents and purposes, we're ruled by corporations, but it's not convenient for the CEO of Goldman Sachs to get on national TV to explain to the public why he's taking $700 billion of our money, so the job is delegated to someone else, a person who we've been encourage to like and trust, a person who, if necessary, will put on a show of opposition to the corporate agenda while privately assuring our corporate overlords that he means no disrespect to them, and represents no real threat to their profits.

I'd even go so far as to argue that the only purpose of our elected officials today is to act as intermediaries between the rulers and the ruled, because the folks with real power can't be bothered wasting their time talking directly to the proles.

Put simply, in a sexual metaphor that I won't spell out explicitly here, Barack Obama plays the role of the K-Y Jelly.

Posted by SteveB at August 11, 2009 01:49 PM

SteveB:

I certainly don't have to get into Obama's head to understand what his goals and ideals are, and what he generally believes politically. I mean, he actually does speak and write. Of course, he's a politician, like all those other Presidents you view as all more or less the same, so of course he makes compromises and accomodations and even backroom deals. You basically concede that you are railing against Obama for being just like every other President, a job you say you view as filling the role of KY jelly. That may be fun to say, but what's the point? Your view either makes you a revolutionary or a separatist, because it doesn't leave you any room to draw any distinctions at all between the choices that actually exist. If they all suck, why bother with them? Just do your own thing, or support whoever offers you more personally. That's actually a common view and contributes to the remarkable functioning of our thriving present system of keeping things screwed up forever. You and grimmy even end up thinking there's no difference between Dick Cheney and Obama, except more glowering from Cheney. I guess from far enough away, everyone looks about the same, but it's not an opinion that benefits from a closer look at the two of them. And that's the only thing I can say that wouldn't doom my effort to avoid snarkiness.

Posted by N E at August 11, 2009 02:35 PM

So NE, who/what do you think forced Obama to say that people who want the US to do what Nell is suggesting here are actually asking for US intervention in Honduras. Do you think he was right?

Posted by empty at August 11, 2009 02:58 PM

NE, even though you aren't addressing me, let me try to address your most recent points-

I think one of the reasons many people on the left are angered at Obama is that, after 8 years of even more conspicuously miserable imperial management than average and a sinking economy, liberals recognized that 2008 represented a point at which the general public was more ready than they might ever be again-- for meaningful progressive change. And even though we were skeptical that Obama's brand of change was mere platitudes and lip service, finally the timing and conditions were more right than they would ever be-- for restoring union and worker's rights, fixing healthcare and the social safety net in general, and dismantling the empire. We even had a resurgent right-wing figure(i.e. Ron Paul) who achieved substantial traction with the dismantling empire message earlier in the election-- and now Obama seems eager to squander all of this.

I compared Obama to Cheney because both seem eager to cut deals outside the glare of the public spotlight, and both take a paternalistic view of the American voter. (Also, his eagerness to expand the Af-Pak war should trouble you more, frankly.) As far as the excuses you make for Obama,

I think you anger people here because they look at your excuses for Obama and, writ large, they see a huge constituency within the democratic party that seem to have the same frame of mind, that obtaining and maintaining a majority trumps principles and sound policy-making, and that pretty much any concession is worth making to get more Arlen Specters to defect. And if the actual policies enacted are basically republican policies without the onward-christian-soldiers messianic frosting, well, big deal: principles and policy are fungible, majorities aren't.

I'm not saying that you believe this, and I suspect you don't. But your sentimental, too-forgiving attitude towards BHO is precisely the one that allows well-meaning people to become water-carriers for people within the democratic leadership who couldn't care less about ordinary people and who do believe that policies and principles are fungible-- as opposed to turf. I know that Donald Johnson said some of this before, better than me, but maybe it bears repeating.


Posted by grimmy at August 11, 2009 04:55 PM

Empty:

Of course Obama wasn't right to say that. And I'm sure no one forced him to say that. I don't even know if anyone whispered it in his ear. I didn't like that statement, as I don't really like a great deal of what he does and says. But I can't think of a President about whom I couldn't say that, including the ones I consider great like Lincoln and FDR and most certainly JFK. If you read what I say, there are significant parts you skip.

Posted by N E at August 11, 2009 05:55 PM

grimmy:

There wasn't public support remotely sufficient to begin dismantling the Empire. I like the part of Ron Paul's message that related to that, and he had support that merited attention he didn't get in the media, but that doesn't mean there was enough public support for Obama to undertake what you apparently think he could. Just doing what he is doing is touch and go, if you haven't noticed.

I have actually directly said that our Presidents are preselected before they are elected, and I have not only addressed the Af/pak war, i have referred people to read Pepe Escobar's excellent analysis of it currently, which explains Obama's position and why the military and energy companies likely backed that approach. I firmly believe Obama is where he is in large part because Cheney's plan in Afghanistan went south. And he's not there because of you or me, but because he offered an alternative that powerful interests backed. I'm not naive about how our politics work. But I don't think much of that analogy of SteveB suggesting that all Presidents are KY Jelly. A little funny, but not really possessing any explanatory usefulness.

I'm sentimental? Then sentimentality really is in trouble. You are sounding a lot like Donald Johnson to me too, and I think I get where you both are coming from, and it's getting unproductive. I don't have much else to add on this.

Posted by N E at August 11, 2009 07:37 PM

" it's getting unproductive."

Now there's a point of agreement. Though for me finding out for sure just how far your theories go (in the other thread) was useful.

Also, unless everyone is burnt out, it might be a good idea if someone with keys to the blog started an open thread, maybe on a regular basis, where all of us prone to arguments about this sort of material could do so, while everyone else gets to ignore it. Or, as seems likely, when the argument flares up in a new thread people can just take it to the open one.

Posted by Donald Johnson at August 11, 2009 08:08 PM

Donald Johnson:

I think everyone just quickly skims over this stuff, almost without a pause unless the topic catches their eye.

"Though for me finding out for sure just how far your theories go (in the other thread) was useful."

I'm interested in how that's of use to you, though I think I know. Some thoughts and ideas can be quite frightening, or at least disturbing, even to people who are otherwise brave, as you may well be. Nobody wants to get hunted like a wolf, socially speaking, as Charles Sanders Pierce noted is the result of accepting the wrong ideas, though more people than you realize do so.

Posted by N E at August 11, 2009 09:19 PM

Hunted like a wolf? Not really my concern. It would matter if I were a politician, but not for me. Lots of ordinary people have all sorts of strange beliefs or anyway beliefs that others would think strange and few people care so long as you aren't a pest and don't shove your beliefs down their throat. I have been a pest on some subjects. It doesn't bother me to think that most people are dead wrong about really important mainstream beliefs and that I know better--if anything, some people or maybe a lot of people are predisposed to think that way and it's not necessarily a good trait. One can be a contrarian in part because it makes one feel one is in the know, in a sense better than other people, the fools who accept what the MSM or mainstream science or mainstream history tell them is true. Creationists are always comparing themselves to Galileo.

Believing in conspiracy theories about JFK is practically mainstream with ordinary people though not in the press and I wouldn't rule it out myself, but don't have the time and energy to go through the endless rounds of BS on this subject, which I think comes from all sides. It seems to be a subject that attracts obsessives, either obsessives determined to prove their out of mainstream theory (I just saw a new one "proving" Castro did it) or the obsessives who have to prove it absolutely had to be Oswald all by himself. The latter, of course, have most of the mainstream support. Bugliosi gets rave reviews, your James Douglas is ignored. I don't give a shit. I think the atrocities we know beyond doubt that mainstream libs and conservatives agree to do overseas is more important than wading through the JFK crap and then when people start linking all the assassinations together, my eyes glaze over. Yeah, protective reflex, no doubt. Or else a childhood spent as a kid reading Charles Fort and UFO books and books on undiscovered animals (my interest far predated the History Channel's decision to run shows on these things) and knowing some of the symptoms of obsessiveness and a belief that one is special because one knows something really important that most people don't and as one grows up, becoming suspicious about that feeling.

But the 9/11 stuff and the WTC7 building being a classic case of building demolition just takes things up a whole other level. I'm no demolitions expert, but good lord, just how many people would have to know at least some of the truth to pull something like that off? Also, I've seen the claims that the standard explanations aren't physically possible, so that apparently means the mainstream structural engineering community (which I presume had some interest in the events of 9/11) is either woefully incompetent or part of the coverup. Remind me not to step inside any tall buildings, if that's the case.

As for my open thread notion, it is something people do at other blogs and it would be a good place for people to trot out their Theories of Everything. And then people could go off on tangents to their heart's content, because that would be the point.

Posted by Donald Johnson at August 11, 2009 09:58 PM

re productivity, etc: me bleary-eyed 2.

These discussions, at least in theory, are most useful to persons not familiar with any of the assumptions being tossed around.

So maybe when we realize we're going off topic we should agree to toss in random SEO words to attract hapless googlers, like Britney Spears, vampire lesbian cash for clunkers, etc. Or maybe I'm the only one who's this childish.

Posted by grimmy at August 11, 2009 10:39 PM

You and grimmy even end up thinking there's no difference between Dick Cheney and Obama, except more glowering from Cheney.

Can't speak for Grimmy, but that's not the case with me. Why, I'm even personally benefiting from Obama's election, through a subsidy for COBRA payments inserted into the stimulus bill that I'm sure McCain wouldn't have supported. There's more than a dime's worth of difference, and in my case, the difference will be several hundred dollars a month.

Having said that, I still think there's some value in taking a step back and looking at how the whole rotten system works. It's three years til the next Presidential election, we don't need to concern ourselves with who to vote for right now, so that should give us some freedom to speak honestly about who these guys really are. And I stand by my claim that Barack Obama isn't much more than an especially smooth tube of K-Y.

Posted by SteveB at August 11, 2009 11:13 PM

Donald Johnson:

I don't dislike your open threat idea. It's fine with me.

You're right that you wouldn't be hunted like a wolf, nor would I. Hell, Alex Jones predicted on TV in July 2001 that Osama bin Laden was about to be blamed for a major terrorist event, and he wasn't hunted like a wolf--he was ignored. Most people can be easily ignored, even people with a cable TV show of a certain sort. It doesn't matter if people have suspicions. Someone just has to throw some crap on TV and people aren't able to figure out what is what or don't care enough to realize how completely ridiculous it is. What you saw about Castro having killed JFK is a perfect example. Like you, most people don't ultimately give a shit. Most people feel that way about the things you care about too. But if you don't think this sort of thing is important, you certainly don't have much business ragging on anyone else for not caring about people in Afghanistan. Or at least I don't get it.

On the other hand, what some people say matters a lot. If you were in the media and you took an interest in investigating the collapse of WTC 7, you would learn what Charles Sanders Pierce meant about being hunted like a wolf. And if you worked for a government contractor and started speaking publicly about 9/11 having been an inside job, you might not plan on more promotions and start looking into a new employer. Then you might think Pierce was onto something too.

You and others will make up your own minds about 9/11 and everythign else according to your own lights, and that's all anyone can do, but your opinions on this subject rest on some unfounded presumptions. You seem to think that no one in the "mainstream" world holds these views, but that isn't at all so. You just don't hear about it. Many accomplished people think the government has concealed the truth about 9/11 and let it happen or actually actually did it or some combination thereof, if there is a difference between all those things. Pilots and other aviation professionals, ex-military people, ex-government people, architects and engineers and other building specialists, physicists, large numbers of them think the government story is bogus. Plenty of people from the intel world have said so. Everyone who thinks this isn't a crazy college kid putting something on Youtube. There are plenty of accomplished professionals, including military and defense personnel with lots of specialized knowledge, seriousness of mind, skills, and no lack of patriotism in the traditional sense. Bear in mind, as I have suggested, that there are no rewards for this skepticism, and there are definite punishments for it in professional life. Most people, including engineers, don't think about it for much the same reaons you don't. As I hope you realize, that doesn't really mean anything.

For me the interesting questions are the reasons for this social blindness, which plays a big part in all our foreign wars, and the most important question is what if anything can be done about it, because if all you have to do to start a war is create an incident and then trust that everyone will presume that the government couldn't possibly have been behind it, as you more or less have and most people do, that's a pretty easy way to get your war. And if you think the whole fate of the US economy, or the safety of the world, hangs in the balance, that's an easy call for a person willing to make tough decisions. I haven't got an answer for what if anything can be done about it, and I wish I did.

Posted by N E at August 11, 2009 11:40 PM

grimmy:

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Posted by N E at August 11, 2009 11:46 PM

NE:
That wasn't some kind of a poke at you. I really was interested in your answer.
Donald:
I come here partly for the posts by the proprietors and also for the commentary. It would be great to have open threads.

Posted by empty at August 12, 2009 12:03 AM

Actually, NE, I do know a little of that--the professionals who think it was an inside job. Trouble is, every eccentric theory, true or false or outright batshit crazy, has at least a few seemingly serious supporters. This is where my childhood experience reading about paranormal phenomenon comes in handy. And knowing a fair amount about creationism and intelligent design and who supports that. Some have advanced degrees, sometimes even in relevant fields. Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe (sp?) were and presumably are standard references for creationists (though they were/are astrophysicists, not biologists). IIRC, some people think Hoyle might have missed out getting a Nobel Prize because of his anti-evolution ravings.

This is where an open thread would come in handy--you could post links or make arguments and so forth and the rest of us could dip in or out as we chose. Or others could make the case for their own ideas.

Posted by Donald Johnson at August 12, 2009 12:03 AM

Donald Johnson: I agree with that. I was only addressing what you put forward along with your sighin--that it can't be true or respectable people in the mainstream would speak out to say so. I don't really think roll calls are helpful either.

I don't think it will be hard for you to figure out what happened on 9/11 if you ever get motivated to do that. Same for the JFK assassination. You can never know exactly what happened about everything, especially when info remains classified or withheld for whatever reason, but you should be able to figure out more than enough if you ever want to.


As for me, I think i'm going to try some meditation. I need it.

Posted by N E at August 12, 2009 12:39 AM

"I don't think it will be hard for you to figure out what happened on 9/11 if you ever get motivated to do that. "

Triple mega-sighs. It's just conceivable that most of us already know.

Posted by Donald Johnson at August 12, 2009 07:52 AM

NE:
There wasn't public support remotely sufficient to begin dismantling the Empire.

I'm intrigued by your claim that public opinion and US foreign policy are somehow related. What's the threshold at which public support for dismantling the Empire would translate into actually dismantling the Empire? 51%? 61%? 81%? And how does this square with your claim that presidents who try to dismantle the empire get shot in the head? People who are willing to kill a president to get what they want pay attention to opinion polls?

Posted by SteveB at August 12, 2009 08:45 AM

NE,

"There wasn't public support remotely sufficient to begin dismantling the Empire."

I too was struck by this statement and dont know what it could mean? The population as I have said on this blog over and over and over is to the left of both parties on issue after issue....there is plenty of poll data to support the claim...so I dont really know what your statement means...

the populations is opposed to the US being in Iraq...is that about to happen anytime soon, or ever? Not likely....The population is in favor of cutting military spending and using the money for social spending like universal health-care. Is that about the happen anytime soon....not likely but it not happening has nothing to do with the attitude of the population or what the population wants etc and so on...

I will post links to poll data if you want to see them, but the last time I tried to do that with some links for some articles from Paul Street my message did not post...I got some kind of an error message so I didn't try to post them a second kind...anyway if you want the poll info I will try to post here again.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 12, 2009 09:13 AM

"There wasn't public support remotely sufficient to begin dismantling the Empire."

NE,

I dont understand the above statement.....The population is to the left of both political parties on issue after issue....I have said this before in other posts and gave examples....I guess it depends on what you mean by "Empire" and "dismantling." The population is in favor of cutting military spending and increasing social spending like say universal health care...This has been the norm for sometime now...There are plenty of other examples....

So your comment is questionable since there is plenty of poll data to suggests that the public may think and feel differently than you think they do...whether what the public thinks and feels has any significant impact on what the govt does is a different matter...It doesn't in IMHO, unless the public is willing to raise the stakes for the govt through direct popular action and agitation...which is not the case as of now...at least not in the numbers needed.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 12, 2009 09:24 AM

sorry for the double post...the first one I thought didnt go through but I guess it did.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 12, 2009 09:27 AM


As one example of poll data see link below. Again this is just the tip of the iceberg...

The comments are pulled from the link-Tony

Defense spending received the deepest cut, being cut on average 31percent—equivalent to $133.8 billion—with 65 percent of respondents cutting. The second largest area to be cut was the supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, which suffered an average cut of $29.6 billion or 35 percent, with two out of three respondents cutting. Also cut were transportation (cut $12.6 billion or 18 percent), federal administration of justice ($8.7 billion or 21 percent), and space research and science ($1.2 billion or 5 percent). Majorities of 53-58 percent of respondents favored cuts in each of these cases.

The largest increases were for social spending. Spending on human capital was especially popular including education which was increased $26.8 billion (39%) and job training and employment which was up $19 billion or a remarkable 263%. Medical research was upped on average $15.5 billion (53%). Veterans benefits were raised 40 percent or $12.5 billion and housing went up 31 percent or $9.3 billion. In most cases clear majorities favored increases (education 57%, job training 67%, medical research 57%, veteran’s benefits 63%), though only 43 percent of respondents favored increases for housing.


http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/brunitedstatescanadara/85.php?nid=&id=&pnt=85

Posted by tony at August 12, 2009 09:38 AM

SteveB and tony:

I was responding to grimmy's position in his comment at 4:55 pm about why he and other people are so disappointed in Obama, that there was an opportunity after eight years of crap to begin dismantling the empire and also do many other progressive things. I certainly don't think poll data has much to do with what can actually get done in our government.

I agree with tony that one of Chomsky's good points is that the public really agrees mostly with him, not what the government does or the major parties support. Our governement was largely set up to thwart the will of the majority, and it works pretty well. My point was just that Obama didn't have anything close to the conditions or support that would have permitted him to do all the things grimmy mentioned, including what i focused on, dismantling the empire. So I'm not disappointed in him for recognizing what he can and can't do. A big part of why I'm not disappointed in him is low expectations. I just don't think, as some of you do, that he's no good at all. I actually like him as practical politicians go, even though he does a lot of things I don't like and even that I think are shitty. I cetainly recognize that he works mostly for powerful interests, not ordinary people. But we've covered all this ground.

Posted by N E at August 12, 2009 10:49 AM

Donald Johnson: "Triple mega-sighs. It's just conceivable that most of us already know."

Such sighing! I don't quite grasp what you know already. You've more or less admitted you know nothing about the subject. You just have an opinion anyway, which you presume most people share, but you really don't even know that.

I just was trying to intimate that the evidence and issues themselves aren't that hard to figure out for someone who gets past the psychological resistance. Maybe you won't do that. Maybe you'll be better off if you don't do it. And quite probably it's not really that important anyway, because even if you do most people won't. I am fatalistic about that. I engaged on the subject in response to something Mike of Angle said. You chimed in, so I responded to your remarks.

I haven't given any presentation of evidence about 9/11 or tried to proselytize, and though I know a great deal about it, I can't really think of ever having done that. I don't even have a bumper sticker or t-shirt. But it is noteworthy that you don't think it's worth trying to figure out the true facts of the seminal event in recent American history, which has shaped American foreign policy for the last eight years and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives and likely quite a bit beyond. Obviously only crazy people would try to understand the true facts in connection with an event like that. Of course, the government wants you to feel that way for the same reason that it tried to stifle all investigation from the start, and you might remember that every time you sigh, because whether you admit it or not, you've made the choice that it was hoped and expected you would make.

Posted by N E at August 12, 2009 11:19 AM

I was responding to grimmy's position in his comment at 4:55 pm about why he and other people are so disappointed in Obama, that there was an opportunity after eight years of crap to begin dismantling the empire and also do many other progressive things. I certainly don't think poll data has much to do with what can actually get done in our government.

But that is not what you originally said...you said that "There wasn't public support remotely sufficient to begin dismantling the Empire." The poll data I gave-and there is plenty more- certainly suggests otherwise to what you originally said...

Yes, I agree that poll data does not have much to do with "what can actually get done" because we dont live in a democracy, but again that was not your point, I think, in you original post.

I agree with tony that one of Chomsky's good points is that the public really agrees mostly with him...

actually its the other way around, Chomsky and myself agree with the general population on a whole of issues...


Our governement was largely set up to thwart the will of the majority, and it works pretty well.

For the elite who run the counrty, not the general population who suffer the consequences ....thats the history of states and elites who dominate them...its one of the reasons I consider myself an anarchists.

My point was just that Obama didn't have anything close to the conditions or support that would have permitted him to do all the things grimmy mentioned, including what i focused on, dismantling the empire.

But this begs the question that this is what Obama wanted to do in the first place which is just nonsense....he would have never been in the position to even be seriously considered if he was in fact interested in dismantling the empire...no institution openly undermines its own power and authority...let alone one dominated by a small elite that controls the economy and the political process through funding it and so on ...that will only come about by massive public pressure to do so....

as to whether he is a nice guy or not it is besides the point...its just marketing to make him appeal to the general population...sure he is nice guy who is also a war criminal and a defender of empire and inequality....it cant be otherwise.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 12, 2009 03:05 PM

toni:

I don't think my "original" point was what you do. I have been responding to other comments for a long time.

You can have all the public support you want for anything, like single-payer health care, and that doesn't mean Obama or anyone else can get it passed in our present system. What most or even the great majority of people want doesn't matter that much. that's all i was saying, and i think that's chomsky's view too, and probably yours, so maybe we're typing past each other.

i don't care whether the public agrees with chomsky and you or you and chomsky agree with them. on a lot of stuff i agree with all of you.

i don't think it makes sense to talk about what obama originally wanted to do, as if there is any such thing. that isn't what politicians do. they try to get things done given the optioms they have. I'm sure obama doesn't think much about alternate universes. I agree that if he did, or if he had some program that isn't what powerful interests want, he wouldn't have the job. i've said that about eight million times and it's a big part of my whole position.

i agree that it doesn't matter whether obama is a nice guy, or what he intends. But there's a problem with your approach. Even when a president is just a lackey for the most part, or even when he is "constrained" by poor options to keep using my offensive word, which i'm prepared to concede, there are times when he has the decisive role. If, for example, sometimes down the road obama doesn't want to bomb venezuela or iran but the pentagon does, obama might have the last word. (Fingers crossed on all that.) Of course, maybe he actually will want to have another war so he can be even more of a war president, but I don't see a reason to think that's so. At times when it is really up to the President, as during the last Presidency, who is in the WHite House and maybe the Vice President's house can make a big difference. That's not to say that it always will make a difference, but it can. And at times in the past it has. There are reasons that the wingnuts don't like most past Dem Presidents, even if the Dems are a disappointment. And I don't think it's possible to know how the President is handling all the infighting and intrigue around him. People do jockey for position and influence around decision-makers, and i am sure there is more going on than we realize. I don't presume that every compromise or conciliation makes is necessarily stupid, even if i don't like the result. Nor do I presume he is getting it right. I wish we knew more, but that isn't part of the system either.
That's frustrating.

Posted by N E at August 12, 2009 03:24 PM

You can have all the public support you want for anything, like single-payer health care, and that doesn't mean Obama or anyone else can get it passed in our present system. What most or even the great majority of people want doesn't matter that much. that's all i was saying, and i think that's chomsky's view too, and probably yours, so maybe we're typing past each other.

Ok...agreed


i don't care whether the public agrees with chomsky and you or you and chomsky agree with them. on a lot of stuff i agree with all of you.

well to say that Chomsky is right and the population agrees with him is elitists and authoritarian...something he is certainly not, but I understand what you mean and agree...

i don't think it makes sense to talk about what obama originally wanted to do, as if there is any such thing.

well it is important to know where he stands regardless of his rhetoric or if he is a nice guy or whatever...So given the way political process works it is very much important to understand that and see past the populists progressive rhetoric and see what the candidate-be it Obama or whomever-is actually for, not just the pretty words......One way to see this is to see who he surrounds himself with, who his advisers are, where his funding is from and so on...after looking just at that alone it boggles my mind that people could think Obama is anything else than what he is...a corporate backed middle of the road "new democrat" who believes that the US has the right to act as it wishes regardless of law and no matter how people it kills in its pursuit of its perceived vital interests...That is hardly someone ready to start reducing military spending.

Has there been a presdient who didn't think this?

they try to get things done given the optioms they have. I'm sure obama doesn't think much about alternate universes.

well maybe I dont understand the comment, but this sounds pretty elitists and condescending since what the population wants has nothing to do with alternate universes or pie in the sky, but maybe I dont understand....


But there's a problem with your approach.

Which is what exactly as you see it?

I believe in people taking matters into their own hands and doing something about their condition by their own actions...I dont look to elites for salvation or to the political process in general which at best is reformist, which is certainly ok as far as it goes but not the end of the struggle by far. History, it seems to me, is pretty clear on this matter..the US hasnt changed because of saints or great men in positions of authority and power, but I think we have a fundamental difference regarding this.


Even when a president is just a lackey for the most part, or even when he is "constrained" by poor options to keep using my offensive word, which i'm prepared to concede, there are times when he has the decisive role..

I dont deny this...I have said in the past Obama was a better choice than the mad bomber and sensible choice have to be made given the circumstances, but dont think he is some kind of empire destroyer or anything approaching such...The idea is nonsense...Its like saying Goldman Sachs is against the profit motive...


Of course, maybe he actually will want to have another war so he can be even more of a war president, but I don't see a reason to think that's so. At times when it is really up to the President, as during the last Presidency, who is in the WHite House and maybe the Vice President's house can make a big difference.

Well here we have just have a different view of how the world works....I dont have any hope that any president will do anything good..I dont hope, or cross my fingers, hoping the president will do what is right...It is not something to hope for, pie in the sky...If left to the whims of the President, or the pentagon, or whomever, we can be sure that acts of aggression will continue regardless of who is in office...sure some are worse than others but all are awful just in different degrees....I dont think I need to spell out all of the acts of aggression carried out by democrats over the years...either directly or through their votes...so to hope for things to change is just senseless without acting for such...


At times when it is really up to the President, as during the last Presidency, who is in the WHite House and maybe the Vice President's house can make a big difference.


Yeah it can, but are we still at war? When havent we been in the past 60 or so years?

well you seem to just have faith in the integrity of individuals and see politics as just the result of in fighting between the Pentagon, Generals,or some kind of machinations of the above, and hopefully noble presidents who will have the resolve to stand up for what is right and so on...at least thats how I read what you say...we are just going to have to disagree about all of that...Its not how I see presidents...I see them all as criminals and the political process in general as inherently corrupt that one can spend their time on if they want...people have to decide for themselves where their time is best spent etc and so on, but you can just look at past US history and you will see wars, violence and so forth regardless of who the president is....voting someone new in every four years is not going to change that.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 12, 2009 04:54 PM

NE, Tony and others- re the Empire:

You and Tony debate what level of public support is necessary to accomplish things that ordinary people may want that the overclass etc is unlikely to want, and the consensus appears to be that the public's desire is irrelevant. I don't agree, although I'm at a loss to quantify it; I'd allow that it's a lot less relevant then you might wish, but we have a system that invests the president with enormous power.

I do think that a president who is willing to be a one termer and to be(rhetorically) pilloried by the mainstream press for his wrongheadedness and sundry personal shortcomings can nevertheless accomplish something lasting.

The Soviet Union had a far more insular system, yet Gorbachev was able to start the process of dismantling the empire, even if it meant an end to his political career. Closer to home Jimmy Carter managed to negotiate a peace between Egypt and Israel, even if, arguably, he paid for it with the failure of Operation Iron Eagle to rescue the hostages in 1980.

(btw, thanks for the polling info, Tony)

Posted by grimmy at August 12, 2009 04:57 PM

grimmy:

"we have a system that invests the president with enormous power."

BS. Maybe to do what the military and megacorporations want, but otherwise not in the slightest. There is no evidence at all for that position.


"I do think that a president who is willing to be a one termer and to be(rhetorically) pilloried by the mainstream press for his wrongheadedness and sundry personal shortcomings can nevertheless accomplish something lasting."

--So if a President were just willing to become a lame duck out of the gate, he could do whatever he wanted? Your idea is that are all cursed by trying to succeed? It's a nice theory, but it's fact free. There's a lot of that in this venue.

Gorbachev did accomplish something, though the incredible drop in life expectancies in Russia and the FSU in the mid to late 90s suggests that it wasn't entirely the great thing we hear about in our media. Most people in the US would consider everyone dying three or four years earlier on average bad. But in any case it has nothing to do with our political system.

As for Jimmy Carter and the peace between Israel and Egypt, that's not such a hot example for your point. Henry Kissinger started that peace process in motion before Jimmy Carter even became President, largely through the same Rockefeller aegis as Kissinger always had. That peace treaty is by not evidence of the effectiveness of an idealistic, maverick President. Not just the US, but Israelis wanted that peace treaty with Egypt, the Israelis because they really never like fighting the whole arab world all at once, the US because pan-arabism was always the threat number one in the region at that time, and getting Egypt at peace with Israel was the final nail in that coffin and made our dominance, including through Israel, all the more secure. By the way, most of our problems today are the direct result of building up the Islamic fundamentalist right as a counterweight to that Nasseristic pan arabism, and the Israelis helped make that monster too. But that's a digression. Back in the late 1970s, the peace with Egypt freed up Israel to go into Lebanon, which you might recall they did soon thereafter. Sadat probably wouldn't have liked that had he not been assassinated by then, and he wouldn't have liked the lack of progress with regard to the Palestinians either, and he might have had the stature to cause some problems, but his CIA-trained security detail did a bad job for him, so Musharaff got a promotion and has been there ever since, not exactly showing arab leadership. I'm sure all that's a coincidence, of course, like everything else.

Posted by N E at August 12, 2009 05:50 PM

The AMERICAN PEOPLE are warlike in OUR very nature. that's why Presidents get away with starting so many of them. The kids are raised to love guns and violence. Obama, being a NATIVE BORN AMERICAN CITIZEN, probably owns several guns himself and probably watched cowboy movies growing up. Its OUR culture that's OUR MOST TOXIC ASSET.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 12, 2009 07:39 PM

i'm gonna stop capitalizing, so mike meyer can have all my capitals. also, less work for me.

Posted by grimmy at August 12, 2009 07:49 PM

grimmy: U have an interesting handwriting.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 12, 2009 10:13 PM

Grimmy,

You and Tony debate what level of public support is necessary to accomplish things that ordinary people may want that the overclass etc is unlikely to want, and the consensus appears to be that the public's desire is irrelevant. I don't agree, although I'm at a loss to quantify it; I'd allow that it's a lot less relevant then you might wish, but we have a system that invests the president with enormous power.

I dont think the publics desire is irrelevant...I think it is very important and shows the disconnect between the political/ruling class and the general population...My contention is that we should not look to others to bring about the changes we want seen...It is something for us to work on...we have to give the political/ruling/economic class a choice...either change policy or you may not be the political/ruling/economic ruling class any longer...as i see it, this is only accomplished in one way..by direct action, not by voting every four years for the latest product rolled out from some PR campaign....Again, I dont deny there are differences and they can be significant, but both represent corporate america and all that that stands for...both accept the legitimacy of the US to intervene in the affairs of others as the US see fit and so on....I think pretty much everyone on this board agrees with that? Its what to do about it where the differences arise..So again I dont think it is a matter of voting for this nice guy over that nice guy...thats not how it works.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 13, 2009 08:36 AM

Tony,
When you say "direct action" what do you mean?

And how do you envision things getting to the point where "either change policy or you may not be the political/ruling/economic ruling class any longer" is a real threat?

I'm honestly asking, because when I think about these issues, I immediately run up against the technology and money that the corporate state has at its disposal. It's not Russia in 1917; we're not talking about the Czar's palace guard firing rifles into the mob, as terrible as that was. We're talking about a much more violent, much more terrible conflict, with lots and lots of blood, 99% of which would be ours, not theirs.

History tells me (and I could be wrong) that most people will not die for an ideal, a cause, or a leader. And frankly, most ideals, causes, and leaders turn out not to be worth that kind of sacrifice. If mass action against an armed state is our best hope, we're fucked. Even if we're 100% right, which we might not be.

Am I missing you entirely? If not, can you give me your thoughts on these matters? What am I missing?

Posted by Mike of Angle at August 13, 2009 01:54 PM

Mike of Angle: ALL ya need is 40centsand make that call. I personally don't own a phone of any sort so I "borrow" my next door neighbor's phone to call Nan and have for YEARS.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 13, 2009 02:19 PM

Tony,
When you say "direct action" what do you mean?

Hello Mike,

I mean exactly what you think of when you here the term....People in the streets, work place occupations,sit ins, strikes and so forth....I know we don't currently have a populace so inclined to act in this fashion in any sustained manner...that only comes about through organization and the raising of peoples level of radical consciousness etc...its hard work..I have often been accused as being naive in all of this or even being a romantic..so be it.. but I seriously dont know of any other way to bring about real change in this country unless the general population acts to make it so...

As you can guess from comments in the past I do consider myself a radical and an anarchist which I know most people dont agree with it but it seems to me to be the only way to make real change-throught radical actions, and then work toward an anarchist/libertarian socialist vision of society....There are people doing lots of good work on all of this that more people would know about if the left had any sort of infrastructure and so on which we dont have in any sustained and well organized way.. I have also said in the past that a re-birth of the labor movement in this country would be a positive step in this direction..so if we could stop the economy through something like a general strike-which does happen in Europe-then we would be moving in the right direction.

I'm honestly asking, because when I think about these issues, I immediately run up against the technology and money that the corporate state has at its disposal. It's not Russia in 1917; we're not talking about the Czar's palace guard firing rifles into the mob, as terrible as that was. We're talking about a much more violent, much more terrible conflict, with lots and lots of blood, 99% of which would be ours, not theirs.

well I think you are right....it will be the people on the streets getting beaten over the head and shot...I dont think there is anyway around the fact that the state is violent and it will use its force, but then again the Soviet Union fell apart and it was not all that bloody....sufficient amounts of people are already on our side as shown through years of public opinion polls..we just cant seem to organizing them in any meaningful way, but then again there are groups all over the place working for change...many are small and diverse but there is plenty of sentiment in the country that the system is corrupt and needs to be changed....Ill post some recent ones regarding peoples perception of corporations when I have the chance....

Also you might want to look at what is going on in one country after another in Latin America and see what they are doing as far as taking matters into their own hands and such....If they can do it there is no reason why we cant....

History tells me (and I could be wrong) that most people will not die for an ideal, a cause,


I dont agree with this...people have put their lives on the line for many causes and ideas and to make the world a better place...the labor movement in this country being a prime example...people trying to stop the Vietnam war being another, or the civil rights movement and so on....there are plenty more


And frankly, most ideals, causes, and leaders turn out not to be worth that kind of sacrifice.

well you have to make that determination for yourself...

I do agree about leaders!

If mass action against an armed state is our best hope, we're fucked. Even if we're 100% right, which we might not be.

well again you have to come to these conclusions on your own....Like I said the Soviet Union went belly-up..maybe the US will finally fall apart because of its own internal contradictions and such as suggested by someone like Chalmers Johnson...I dont know if that will happen or not, but if it does something positive better be there to replace it because the possibilities if there isn't are not pretty.-Tony

Posted by tony at August 13, 2009 04:46 PM


Since I mentioned Chalmers Johnson, here is the article i had in mind.-Tony


http://aep.typepad.com/american_empire_project/2009/07/three-good-reasons-to-liquidate-our-empire.html

Posted by tony at August 13, 2009 05:07 PM

Thank you, Tony! I look forward to reading that article.

Posted by Mike of Angle at August 13, 2009 07:10 PM

Hello again Tony,

Still enjoying the commentary, although I think putting actual "quotes" when your quoting commenters would help me understand the comments a great deal.

Well Tony, I fly the black flag too and believe that organization is where its at. I'm thinking outside our usual riots, assassinations and civil wars tactics but its not like thats viable right now anyway.

The labor movement is the heart and soul of the anarchists whether it was in the Ukraine, U.S. or Spain. The problem is somehow getting past our barriers of language and culture. German anarchists are still the only ones who celebrate May Day with the annual riot but whos to say whether Chinese or American workers will learn German just because they were told to?

Frankly, anarchists and organization don't mix frequently anyhow, I'd venture to see how we'll figure that out for sure.

Posted by Nikolay Levin at August 14, 2009 04:13 AM

Still enjoying the commentary, although I think putting actual "quotes" when your quoting commenters would help me understand the comments a great deal.

Hello Nikolay,

Yes, I know I should make clear who is saying what since I always quote people when I reply to them...I have to be more careful with all of this but usually-in my own defense!-I am pressed for time when I reply so I type very quickly and make mistakes with spelling and so on....I will try to be more careful from now on!


NL: "Well Tony, I fly the black flag too and believe that organization is where its at. I'm thinking outside our usual riots, assassinations and civil wars tactics but its not like thats viable right now anyway."

well I am not one really for the use of violence in order to achieve a political aim....it seems to me that it always leads to the innocent being killed and so forth....I do believe people have a right to defend themselves from the violence of the state which you can be sure will happen if we ever get any kind of mass protest movement going in this country....The state is always going to have the monopoly on the use of violence...so I am not sure that using such is a wise move.


NL:'The labor movement is the heart and soul of the anarchists whether it was in the Ukraine, U.S. or Spain. The problem is somehow getting past our barriers of language and culture."

I think this is a problem but not a great one to over come.

NL:"German anarchists are still the only ones who celebrate May Day with the annual riot but whos to say whether Chinese or American workers will learn German just because they were told to?"

I am not sure what you mean by this but I dont think anyone needs to learn german!!

NL:"Frankly, anarchists and organization don't mix frequently anyhow, I'd venture to see how we'll figure that out for sure."

Well I am no sure I agree. Anarchists are for organization but it is matter of what kind of organization...top down or bottom up...authoritarian or libertarian...Anarchists throughout history would not have survived for one minute, let alone fight wars against fascism-(Franco and the Bolsheviks), if they weren't organized. Yes we lost both, I know!

Let me borrow from the excellent and remarkable-given its scope and sources and understanding of anarchists thought and theory-the Anarchist FAQ found at the link at the end of the quote. I have never seen anything even approaching this resource...I think the writer, or writers, posted here a few times in other threads.-Tony

"while the Greek words anarchos and anarchia are often taken to mean "having no government" or "being without a government," as can be seen, the strict, original meaning of anarchism was not simply "no government." "An-archy" means "without a ruler," or more generally, "without authority," and it is in this sense that anarchists have continually used the word. For example, we find Kropotkin arguing that anarchism "attacks not only capital, but also the main sources of the power of capitalism: law, authority, and the State." [Op. Cit., p. 150] For anarchists, anarchy means "not necessarily absence of order, as is generally supposed, but an absence of rule." [Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book, p. 13] Hence David Weick's excellent summary:

"Anarchism can be understood as the generic social and political idea that expresses negation of all power, sovereignty, domination, and hierarchical division, and a will to their dissolution. . . Anarchism is therefore more than anti-statism . . . [even if] government (the state) . . . is, appropriately, the central focus of anarchist critique." [Reinventing Anarchy, p. 139]

For this reason, rather than being purely anti-government or anti-state, anarchism is primarily a movement against hierarchy. Why? Because hierarchy is the organisational structure that embodies authority. Since the state is the "highest" form of hierarchy, anarchists are, by definition, anti-state; but this is not a sufficient definition of anarchism. This means that real anarchists are opposed to all forms of hierarchical organisation, not only the state. In the words of Brian Morris:

"The term anarchy comes from the Greek, and essentially means 'no ruler.' Anarchists are people who reject all forms of government or coercive authority, all forms of hierarchy and domination. They are therefore opposed to what the Mexican anarchist Flores Magon called the 'sombre trinity' -- state, capital and the church. Anarchists are thus opposed to both capitalism and to the state, as well as to all forms of religious authority. But anarchists also seek to establish or bring about by varying means, a condition of anarchy, that is, a decentralised society without coercive institutions, a society organised through a federation of voluntary associations." ["Anthropology and Anarchism," pp. 35-41, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, no. 45, p. 38]"

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/index.html

Posted by tony at August 14, 2009 09:10 AM

"...in my own defense!-I am pressed for time when I reply so I type very quickly and make mistakes with spelling and so on..."

Well Tony, it seems as this comment thread comes to a close, we're the only ones here. So I especially don't mind. But hey, if you're posting from work (as it seems like) hey, its completely your call. I didn't quite know that beforehand so point taken.

"...The state is always going to have the monopoly on the use of violence...so I am not sure that using such is a wise move."

In the anarchist movement I guess it depends on who you ask. Some anarchists think that the destruction of private property is a legitimate struggle because the moral or political applications of taking lives doesn't apply. Thats why you see burning police cars in anarchist apparel and not necessarily..erm...burning policemen. But the disagreements are pronounced enough that they can occur in the same riot. While some anarchists think its a good idea to overturn cars, others are content with throwing rocks and riot police and occasionally charging their ranks with placards (brings whole new meaning of getting a message across) and thats Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark. In one of his last speeches Martin Luther King decried the breaking of glass windows during a protest. If something like that can go wrong for a march specifically meant to be peaceful, we can both understand what to expect in anarchist riots with as little words.

'I think this is a problem but not a great one to over come.'

Really? Well you got me. Gilad Atzmon has an informative article on the Palestinian struggle about this. Unlike Christianity, in Islam you don't have a religious "part" of your life and a "secular", they're combined. You must eat in an Islamic way, you must wash in an Islamic way and in essence, you have to live an Islamic way. Combine the fact that Judaism is one and the same and the conflict is destined to be religious in nature without even mentioning the significance of Muslim holy sites. You add in countries with a history of oppression (China) and organization is complicated further.

At least we have an official language!

"I am not sure what you mean by this..."

Now you know.

"[Reinventing Anarchy, p. 139]"

You know, I always knew I was missing something when I was debating my college roommates. That's the clincher.

Thanks. I obviously need to catch up on my own ideology! Any other books, websites and especially forums you personally recommend?

Posted by Nikolay Levin at August 14, 2009 04:36 PM