Monday, October 30, 2006

"The Creation and Maintenance of Public Myths" (Who is Philip Zelikow?)

He was. of course, co-author of a book with 'Condi' Rice; and, five years later, (despite the vehement protests of the bereaved families) executive director of the 9-11 Commission.

But there's more to him than that. Another of his literary collaborators was a former CIA chief, and their article, published in 1998, was just as remarkably prescient as the
PNAC team's premonition of a New Pearl Harbor.

- From an article by Mike Whitney, in the Online Journal, Oct 25, 2006:

"Stealing the midterm elections and the power of myth"

[...] In researching the Bush administration’s manipulation of public perceptions, I came across an interesting summary of the State Department’s Philip Zelikow, who was executive director of the 9-11 Commission, that greatest of all charades.

According to Wikipedia:

“Prof. Zelikow’s area of academic expertise is the creation and maintenance of, in his words, ‘public myths’ or ‘public presumptions’ which he defines as ‘beliefs (1) thought to be true (although not necessarily known with certainty) and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community.’ In his academic work and elsewhere he has taken a special interest in what he has called ‘searing’ or ‘molding’ events (that) take on 'transcendent’ importance and therefore retain their power even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene. . . . He has noted that ‘a history’s narrative power is typically linked to how readers relate to the actions of individuals in the history; if readers cannot make the connection to their own lives, then a history may fail to engage them at all.”

(“Thinking about Political History”, Miller Center Report, Winter 1999, pp. 5-7)

Isn’t that the same as saying there is neither history nor truth; that what is really important is the manipulation of epochal events so they serve the interests of society’s managers? Thus, it follows that if the government can create their own “galvanizing events,” then they can write history any way they choose.

If that’s the case, then perhaps the entire war on terror is cut from whole cloth; a garish public relations maneuver devoid of meaning.

Wikipedia helps to clarify this point by adding:

“In the Nov-Dec 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs he (Zelikow) co-authored with the former head of the CIA) an article entitled 'Catastrophic Terrorism' in which he speculated that if the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had succeeded, ‘the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the
Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949. Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force.”

(Philip Zelikow, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

That was written in 1998!

Amazing. It is almost like Zelikow knew what was going to happen on 9-11 and was drawing attention to the “draconian measures” (scaling back civil liberties) which may seem attractive to ruling elites in the policy establishment.

Now, (coincidentally) everything has evolved almost exactly as Zelikow predicted. Just like Pearl Harbor, 9-11 has “divided our past and future into a before and after.” The post-9-11 world relates to a world in which personal liberty is no longer protected, and where surveillance, detention and the use of deadly force are all permitted. It is a world in which “America’s fundamental sense of security” has been shattered and will continue to be shattered as a way of managing public opinion.

As Zelikow presciently implies, the post 9-11 world depends entirely on “public myths”; fairy tales invented by society’s supervisors which perpetuate the illusion of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

So, how does this apply to Karl Rove?

There are only two weapons in the imperial tool chest; force and deception. I expect that the anticipated Democratic landslide will be preempted by massive voter fraud accompanied by some type of “searing event”; that way the fantastical outcome of a GOP victory can be neatly folded into a larger and all-pervasive "myth."

As we have been reminded many times: Reality no longer matters; only the perception of reality. The power of myth reigns supreme.

- Full article here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

For Lenin's Tomb and Alexander Cockburn

A 16-minute extract from a film.

They know why.

"We [the CIA] threatened grievous injury to his children"

From the former news-magazine Der Spiegel (affectionately known as "the house journal of the CIA in Germany") comes the following pseudo-critical interview, in which we learn that:

- "The President likes to talk to operators" [i.e. torturers].

- There is such a thing as "hot waterboarding".

- When the CIA's secret prisoners refuse to talk even under torture, then "the operators" threaten to torture the prisoners' kidnapped children.

- The CIA has considered using misinformation. (Don't laugh.)

- All of this torture has brought as good as no information at all from Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

- These two men are alleged to have been the two head honchoes in the September 11th attacks, yet they will never be brought to trial.


"The President Knows more than He Lets on"

One hundred suspected terrorists from all over the world are still being held in secret American prisons. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, CIA expert [sic] Ron Suskind accuses Washington of "running like a headless chicken" in its war against al-Qaida. He reserves special criticism for the CIA's torture methods, which he argues are unproductive [sic].

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Suskind, the Red Cross recently visited all of the prisoners at Guantanamo who had been transferred from secret CIA prisons, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh. Do we know more about these CIA prisons, or "Black Sites" as a result of this visit?

Suskind: We know that almost everything from the tool kit was tried: extraordinary techniques that included hot and cold water-boarding and threats of various kinds. We tried virtually everything with Binalshibh. But he was resistant, and my understanding of that interrogation is that we got very, very little from it. At one point, there was some thinking that we should put out misinformation that Binalshihb had been cooperative, he had received money and he was living in luxury. So that would mean that his friends and family, who obviously are known to al-Qaida, might face retribuition, and we ended up not doing that.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: And what happened to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed?

Suskind: He was really the prize. He is the 9/11 operational planner [in the same way that SpongeBob is the Pope - Q.], a kind of general in the al-Qaida firmament. He was water-boarded, hot and cold, all matter of deprivations, beatings, threats. He told us some things, but frankly things that professional interrogators say could have been gotten otherwise.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: With waterboarding, the prisoner is made to feel as though he is drowing, even if he isn't really at risk of dying. There are reports that Mohammed was a kind of unoffical record-holder when it came to waterboarding.

Suskind: With extraordinary minutes passing he earned a sort of grudging respect from interrogators. The thing they did with Mohammed is that we had captured his children, a boy and a girl, age 7 and 9. And at the darkest moment we threatened grievous injury to his children if he did not cooperate. His response was quite clear: "That's fine. You can do what you want to my children, and they will find a better place with Allah." ...


The interview continues at this bloody site. Caveat lector.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"I didn't go to school until I was 12 or so."

I didn't go to school until I was 12 or so. My parents thought that traveling in a house trailer was as enlightening as sitting in a classroom, so I escaped being taught some of the typical lessons of my generation: for instance, that this country was "discovered" when the first white man set foot on it, that boys and girls were practically different species, that Europe deserved more textbook space than Africa and Asia combined.

Instead, I grew up seeing with my own eyes, following my curiosity, falling in love with books, and growing up mostly around grown-ups -- which, except for the books, was the way kids were raised for most of human history.Needless to say, school hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn't prepared for gender obsessions, race and class complexities, or the new-to-me idea that war and male leadership were part of human nature. Soon, I gave in and became an adolescent hoping for approval and trying to conform. It was a stage that lasted through college.

I owe the beginnings of re-birth to living in India for a couple of years where I fell in with a group of Gandhians, and then I came to the Kennedys, the civil rights movement and protests against the war in Vietnam.

But most women, me included, stayed in our traditional places until we began to gather, listen to each other's stories and learn from shared experience. Soon, a national and international feminist movement was challenging the idea that what happened to men was political, but what happened to women was cultural -- that the first could be changed but the second could not.

I had the feeling of coming home, of awakening from an inauthentic life. It wasn't as if I thought my self-authority was more important than external authority, but it wasn't less important either. We are both communal and uniquely ourselves, not either-or.

Since then, I've spent decades listening to kids before and after social roles hit. Faced with some inequality, the younger ones say, "It's not fair!" It's as if there were some primordial expectation of empathy and cooperation that helps the species survive. But by the time kids are teenagers, social pressures have either nourished or starved this expectation. I suspect that their natural cry for fairness -- or any whisper of it that survives -- is the root from which social justice movements grow.

So I no longer believe the conservative message that children are naturally selfish and destructive creatures who need civilizing by hierarchies or painful controls. On the contrary, I believe that hierarchy and painful controls create destructive people. And I no longer believe the liberal message that children are blank slates on which society can write anything. On the contrary, I believe that a unique core self is born into every human being -- the result of millennia of environment and heredity combined in an unpredictable way that could never happen before or again.

- From here, via Dougald Hine.

Well, Hello Martial Law: Bush alters The Insurrection Act

Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

Frank Morales

October 26, 2006

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006. In a sense, the two laws complement one another. One allows for torture and detention abroad, while the other seeks to enforce acquiescence at home, preparing to order the military onto the streets of America. Remember, the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is "martial law."

Section 1076 of the massive Authorization Act, which grants the Pentagon another $500-plus-billion for its ill-advised adventures, is entitled, "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." Section 333, "Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law" states that "the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of ("refuse" or "fail" in) maintaining public order, "in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy." ...

- continues at uruknet.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Rather, what is significant about her death is this: Why doesn't America have an Anna Politkovskaya? Why don't we have someone as courageous as she was to tell the story of how we razed Fallujah to the ground Grozny-style? How we bombed to smithereens and ethnically cleansed a city of 300,000 people in retaliation for the deaths of four American contractors? Where is the American Anna Politkovskaya who will tell us about how we directly killed roughly 200,000 Iraqis, and indirectly are responsible for about half a million Iraq deaths since our invasion? Why isn't there a single American willing to risk almost certain death, the way Politkovskaya did, in the pursuit of truth and humanity?

One reason why is because they risk getting killed not only by Iraqi insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists, but also by the highly efficient American forces. (Not that this stopped Politkovskaya, but it stops America's righteous Politkovskaya-bearers.) And even if they get the story out, it gets quashed by the mainstream press, you lose your job, and you get met by a hostile, even bloodthirsty public who doesn't want to hear about it.

Take the case of Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi correspondent for Knight Ridder. Salihee was shot by an American sniper with a bullet to his head on June 24, 2005. At the time, he was gathering material for an investigative piece about how the US was training death squads -- the very same death squads which are now responsible for the savage civil war that kicked into high gear this year.

Salihee was killed; the American sniper was cleared; and Knight Ridder washed its hands, declaring "there's no reason to think that the shooting had anything to do with his reporting work." Imagine an analogous situation in Chechnya, the hue and cry from the Applebaums -- it'd be as inversely loud as the silence over Salihee's death. At least even the Kremlin admits Politkovskaya was killed for her reporting.

Indeed Salihee is just one of a number of journalists killed in Iraq, by far the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. And it's not all the insurgents' fault either. Some more marginal journalists, from Robert Fisk to Dahr Jamail, have written about how US forces in Iraq target journalists for murder. But no one wants to hear that -- so these kinds of reports stay on the margins. Journalists were targeted and killed at Al Jazeera; at first, reports that the Americans targeted them were dismissed as "conspiracy theory" talk, but recently, admissions that Bush, Blair, and a former Blair minister all explored ways to bomb Al Jazeera during the war are finally raising questions. Well, not really. Should be raising questions, leading to impassioned editorials by the Post and Anne Applebaum. But they're not, because they're too busy demonizing Russia.

Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist who was kidnapped last year in Iraq and freed by an Italian intelligence agent, was shot and wounded (the agent was killed) by US forces when she was returning to freedom. She insisted that US troops deliberately targeted her. A smear campaign in the US press -- labeling her a Communist and an anti-American with Stockholm Syndrome-- effectively nullified her story, but even pro-Bush Berlusconi was so incensed by the incident that he started to back away from Bush's war.

Italian TV later discovered evidence that US forces had used an illegal WMD, white phosphorus chemicals, during its destruction of Fallujah the year before. In spite of all the evidence, including burned corpses whose clothes were still intact, eyewitnesses, and even friendly Iraqi ministers who denounced it, the American media largely ignored it. Why the fuck did Italian TV, and not American TV, break this story? Where was Anne Applebaum on the atrocities in Fallujah?

The case of Eason Jordan, CNN's longtime superstar news chief, might explain the mainstream American media's silence. This is what happens when you're a mainstream American media man who dares to tell the ugly truth about Iraq. While hobnobbing with the Global Aristocracy at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January of 2005, Jordan made the mistake of telling his fellow elite what was really happening in Iraq: American forces were "out to get journalists, and some were deliberately targeting journalists."

Within two weeks, the longtime CNN honcho was out of work. His resignation came complete with a Stalin-esque confession that's chilling to read today:

"After 23 years at CNN," he wrote, "I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq. I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise."

Cheney: Torturer and Proud of It

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called "water-boarding," which creates a sensation of drowning.

Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.

- Of course he needs it. Where would the 9/11 yarn be without it?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Schocked, schocked.

Chancellor Merkel and the fine journalists at Axel Springer's Bild-Zeitung are schocked, schocked, that some of the nation's paid killers have been having fun with dead bodies.

In 1999, Wiglaf Droste ended up in court for repeating Kurt Tucholsky's simple truth: that Soldiers are murderers. Here, he asks the pertinent question: What should we call them instead, then? Fax machines? Tennis rackets?

Sind Soldaten Faxgeräte?

Mörder darf man sie nicht nennen
Denn Soldaten sind sensibel
Legen Hand auf Herz und Bibel
Fangen dann noch an zu flennen:
"Ihr sollt uns nicht Mörder nennen!"

Ja, wie soll man sie denn nennen?

Faxgeräte? Sackgesichter?
Zeugungsfähiges Gelichter?
Freddies, die auf Totschlag brennen?
Weder Geist noch Güte kennen?
Oder sind sie Schnabeltassen?
Tennisschläger? Liebestöter?
Kleiderständer? Brausepöter?
Die sich das gefallen lassen:
"Schütze Arsch! Los! Essen fassen!"
Sind sie vielleicht Käsesocken?
Die auf Pils und Deutschland schwören?
Und gern "Tote Hosen" hören?
Wenn sie auf der Stube hocken
Und um Gonokokken zocken?

Ach, wie soll man Mörder nennen?

Man zerfleddert nur die Wörter
Nennt man Militärs nicht Mörter.

Selbst wer schlicht ist, muß erkennen:

Mörder soll man Mörder nennen.

Waging war or going insane?

Maybe no clear distinction can be made. In any case, elephants are not just raping rhinos, but killing people, and each other, at an increasing rate, as they themselves are killed and displaced at an ever-increasing rate.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stop Bono before he kills again.

Bono is at a U2 concert in Glasgow when he asks the audience for some quiet.

Then, in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands.

Holding the audience in total silence, he says softly and seriously into the microphone:

"Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies......"

A voice from near the front pierces the silence: "Well, fucken' stop doin' it then!"

(From Counterpunch, via sau at PoV.)

Our Mengeles, our innocence.



What is it, exactly?

The technique was characterized in 2005 by former CIA director Porter J. Goss as a "professional interrogation technique"[2], [and] involves tying the victim to a board with the head lower than the feet so that he or she is unable to move. A piece of cloth is held tightly over the face, and water is poured onto the cloth. Breathing is extremely difficult and the victim will be in fear of imminent death by asphyxiation. Journalists Brian Ross and Richard Esposito described the CIA's waterboarding technique as follows:

The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head lightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last over two minutes before begging to confess.

NOTE: The "confessions" thus extracted from Khalid Sheik Mohammed (and from Ramzi Binalshibh) are practically the only "evidence" ever adduced against the 19 alleged hijackers of September 11th. We are expected to take it on trust that they made such confessions, and that such confessions are credible. No one outside of the US military has ever seen either of these two men since their alleged arrests.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Abu Aardvark:

This is not just a video which suggests that Republicans will be better at fighting terror. It actually very closely resembles real al-Qaeda videos. It has the same tempo, the same images, the same juxtaposition of translated statements by al-Qaeda's leaders with glorified portrayals of powerful fighters waging jihad. The images don't just resemble those used in al-Qaeda videos: many were actually taken from real al-Qaeda videos, and you can still see the al-Sahab label faintly in the background (do you suppose that the RNC paid royalties?). A political ad? This video would not look out of place on a jihadi forum, and it wouldn't surprise me if it actually gets posted on them and admired (although the production values are a bit low for an actual al-Sahab product).

Anyone involved in analyzing or combating al-Qaeda's media strategies has to be astounded that the Republican National Committee has financed, produced, distributed on the internet, and aired on US television what is for all intents and purposes an al-Qaeda recruitment video.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Virility [sic]

All lads together...
Putin's 'rape joke' played down

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has been overheard joking about the virility of his Israeli counterpart, who is accused of multiple rape. A Russian journalist said Mr Putin joked that President Moshe Katsav was a "mighty man", adding "we all envy him".

Mr Katsav is facing allegations that he raped members of his staff. He strongly denies the claims. A Kremlin spokesman admitted Mr Putin made a joke, but said it was not meant to be overheard.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Cornell study on TV and autism

A Slate article discusses a new Cornell University study that suggests a significant link between TV and autism in children:

The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Penn-sylvania, and Washington state. They found that as cable television became common in California and Pennsylvania beginning around 1980, childhood autism rose more in the counties that had cable than in the counties that did not. They further found that in all the Western states, the more time toddlers spent in front of the television, the more likely they were to exhibit symptoms of autism disorders.


The Cornell study makes no attempt to propose how television might trigger autism; it only seeks to demonstrate a relationship. But Waldman notes that large amounts of money are being spent to search for a cause of autism that is genetic or toxin-based and believes researchers should now turn to scrutinizing a television link.

Elephants raping rhinos

From an article by Charles Siebert, originally published in the NYT, October 8 2006:

In ‘‘Elephant Breakdown,’’ a 2005 essay in the journal Nature, Gay Bradshaw and several colleagues argued that today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.


What Bradshaw and her colleagues describe would seem to be an extreme form of anthropocentric conjecture if the evidence that they’ve compiled from various elephant resesarchers, even on the strictly observational level, weren’t so compelling. The elephants of decimated herds, especially orphans who’ve watched the death of their parents and elders from poaching and culling, exhibit behavior typically associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related
disorders in humans: abnormal startle response, unpredictable asocial behavior, inattentive mothering and hyperaggression. Studies of the various assaults on the rhinos in South Africa, meanwhile, have determined that the perpetrators were in all cases adolescent males that had witnessed their families being shot down in cullings. It was common for these elephants to have been tethered to the bodies of their dead and dying relatives until they could be rounded up for translocation to, as Bradshaw and Schore describe them, ‘‘locales lacking traditional social hierarchy of older bulls and intact natal family structures.’’

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The War on Terra, via Aqua

Prensa Latina reports that George W. Bush has just bought 100,000 acres of land in northern Paraguay, between Brazil and Bolivia.

This gigantic piece of real estate just happens to be atop the Guarani Aquifer, one of the world's largest aquifer systems and an important source of fresh water for its people.

From the Wikipedia entry:

The Argentine film called Sed, Invasión Gota a Gota ("Thirst, Invasion Drop by Drop"), directed by Mausi Martínez, portrays the military of the United States as slowly but steadily increasing its presence in the Triple Frontera (Triple Frontier, the area around the common borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil). The overt reason for the increasing presence of U.S. troops and joint exercises, mainly with Paraguay, is to monitor the large Arab population which resides in the area. However, Martínez alleges that it is the water which brings the Americans to the area, and she fears a subtle takeover before the local governments even realize what is going on.

Similar concerns were lifted following both the signature of a military training agreement with Paraguay, which accorded immunity to U.S. soldiers and was indefinitely renewable (something which had never been done before, while Donald Rumsfeld himself visited Paraguay and, for the first time ever, Paraguayan president Nicanor Duarte Frutos went to the White House), and the construction of a U.S. military base near the airport of Mariscal Estigarribia, within 200 km of Argentina and Bolivia and 300 km of Brazil. The airport can receive large planes (B-52, C-130 Hercules, etc.) which the Paraguayan Air Force does not possess. [2] [3]. The governments of Paraguay and the United States subsequently ostensibly declared that the use of an airport (Dr Luís María Argaña International)[1] was one point of transfer for few soldiers in Paraguay at the same time. According to the Argentine newspaper Clarín, the U.S. military base is strategic because of its location near the Triple Frontier, its proximity to the Guaraní Aquifer, and its closeness to Bolivia (less than 200 km) at the same "moment that Washington's magnifying glass goes on the Altiplano [Bolivia] and points toward Venezuelan [president] Hugo Chávez — the regional devil according to the Bush administration — as the instigator of the instability in the region" (El Clarín [3]).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

For the sake of completeness

Click on the video link below the photo on the BBC website and listen to the full four-minute interview:

And The Winner Is Orhan Pamuk

Welcome, Mr. Pamuk, to the canon. Your White Castle is more relevant than ever.

So I decided, encouraged by a certain girl in glasses from whose hand a cigarette was never absent, to publish the story which I returned to read over and over again. My readers will see that I nourished no pretensions to style while revising the book into contemporary Turkish: after reading a couple of sentences from the manuscript I kept on one table, I'd go to another table in the other room where I kept my papers and try to narrate in today's idiom the sense of what remained in my mind. It was not I who chose the title of the book but the publishing house that agreed to print it. Readers seeing the dedication at the beginning may ask if it has a personal significance. I suppose that to see everything as connected with everything else is the addiction of our time. It is because I too have succumbed to this disease that I publish this tale.

Long Sunday, the group theory blog that holds symposia, complete with assigned texts, calls for submissions, and post-presentation sessions of find Pico in the Pizza ("that cheese reminds me of Althusser's favourite sweater", "this mushroom strikes me as a composite of Tacitus and Bachelard"), hosts a spat about this project and its suspicious efforts to regulate or attain distinction via escape from the freedom® of the blogsphere to the value and hierarchy production rituals and customs of a virtual ivory tower.

Apparently poking fun at such things is a right one must earn the hard way, with hard work, like the virtuous brokers at Smith Barney.

Complicating matters, a pretty large chunk of American academic product, what Henry Farrell has called 'The Bernard Lewis school of analysis', was criminalised in France this week. You could get thrown in jail now in France for teaching or publishing what in the academy in the United States is considered not only a legitimate but prestigious 'version' of 20th century history. There may eventually be a real practical need for subdivision of the list into Law Abiding and Criminal Academic Blogs.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Society must go on, I suppose, and society can only exist if the normal, if the virtuous, and the slightly deceitful flourish, and if the passionate, the headstrong, and the too-truthful are condemned to suicide and to madness.
- Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

9/11: Press for Truth

Google video, instant download, colour, 84 minutes. Directed by Ray Nowosielski and featuring interviews with Paul Thompson and the Jersey Widows.

If there is a worse actor, a more blatantly obvious liar or a more clearly frightened man than George W. Bush, I have yet to see him. This admirably-focused film would be worth watching just for its compilation of the few moments when the Resident has actually been confronted with the issue in front of a camera.
In Year Six of the War on Terror, with habeas corpus now abolished in the US and Iraq transformed into an abattoir the size of France, Nowosielski's film is a true must-see -- especially while the 'antiwar' left represented by Alexander Cockburn, David Corn and Lenin's Tomb continues either hysterically missing the point or studiously ignoring the unignorable.

Ex-Mossad chief discusses the outcome of Israel's attack on Lebanon Was Israel defeated by Hezbollah during the war?

Efraim Halevy: I do not think that Israel was defeated by Hezbollah during the war. I believe that Israel did not achieve all of its objectives. In my view, the following are the indications that Israel did succeed in seriously damaging Hezbollah in Lebanon and limiting its freedom of action:

i) Hassan Nasrallah has publicly stated that he misjudged Israeli reaction to his incursion across the international border on July 12 when his forces killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two soldiers from within Israel territory. He has publicly stated that had he had the faintest indication as to how Israel would react, he would not have mounted the operation.

ii) From almost day one of the Lebanese war of summer 2006 Hezbollah and Iran and Syria, its mentors, daily appealed for a ceasefire. A winning force does not appeal for a ceasefire but accedes to requests of others.

iii) Initially, Hezbollah strongly objected to the entry of an international force into Lebanon with the mission of aiding the regular Lebanese army to deploy along the UN recognised Lebanese-Israeli international border. It also objected to Lebanon accepting the other provisions and stipulations of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1701 which lays the blame on Hezbollah for starting the recent conflict. This resolution was unanimously approved by the UNSC and Iran and Syria are obligated to honour it.

iv) Nasrallah has been forced to order his remaining men in the south not to parade openly with their weapons and for the moment is respecting the letter of the ceasefire.

v) UNSC resolution 1701 calls for the total disarming of the Hezbollah. Nasrallah and his forces are defiant in their refusal to abide by this decision and, as a result, are flouting the wishes and demands of the entire international community, including the major states in the Middle East and the Arab world.

vi ) Hezbollah is now engaged in an intense internal struggle inside Lebanon. It has labeled Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, a traitor and is calling for the replacement of his government with a national unity government. This demand has been rejected.

The result of the war is, therefore, a unique one. Israel may not have won the war as it hoped, but Hezbollah clearly lost it by its own testimony.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Enduring Freedom

"I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they’re willing to — you know, that there's a level of violence that they tolerate."

The Impermanence of Limitlessness

On progress, imperialism and development: five quotes from The Age of Exuberance, by Jason Godesky:

1. Plato, describing the effects of wheat agriculture in ancient Greece:

What now remains of the formerly rich land is like the skeleton of a sick man. ... Formerly, many of the mountains were arable. The plains that were full of rich soil are now marshes. Hills that were once covered with forests and produced abundant pasture now produce only food for bees. Once the land was enriched by yearly rains, which were not lost, as they are now, by flowing from the bare land into the sea. The soil was deep, it absorbed and kept the water in loamy soil, and the water that soaked into the hills fed springs and running streams everywhere. Now the abandoned shrines at spots where formerly there were springs attest that our description of the land is true.

2. Toby Hemenway:

As researchers examine the Amazon more carefully, it appears that huge areas contain not only wild plants, but have been stocked with people-friendly cultivars of useful species. More and more, it looks as if the Amazon, like much of the Americas, was a carefully cultivated garden before the Europeans showed up and abused it into a thicketed wilderness. It appears that our idea of wilderness—black forest so dense you can barely walk, where people "take only photographs and leave only footprints"—is a notion burned into our psyches during an anomalous blip: the first two centuries following the Mayflower, in which the gardeners who had tended the Americas for millennia were exterminated, leaving the hemisphere to descend into an neglected tangle of "primeval forest." It's likely that this so-called intact forest had never existed before, since humans arrived here as soon as the glaciers receded and began tending the entire landmass with fire and digging stick. The first white explorers describe North America's forests as open enough to drive wagons through. Two centuries later these agroforests had deteriorated to the black tangles immortalized by Whitman and Thoreau.

Wilderness may be merely a European concept imposed on a depopulated and abandoned landscape. The indigenous people of the Americas were master terraformers, using a hard-learned understanding of ecological processes to preserve the fundamental integrity of natural systems while utterly transforming the land into a place where humans belonged and could thrive.

3. Charles Mann, author of 1491:

I asked seven anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians if they would rather have been a typical Indian or a typical European in 1491. None was delighted by the question, because it required judging the past by the standards of today—a fallacy disparaged as "presentism" by social scientists. But every one chose to be an Indian. Some early colonists gave the same answer. Horrifying the leaders of Jamestown and Plymouth, scores of English ran off to live with the Indians. My ancestor shared their desire, which is what led to the trumped-up murder charges against him — or that's what my grandfather told me, anyway.

4. J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, in his Letters from an American Farmer:

There must be in the Indians’ social bond something singularly captivating, and far superior to be boasted of among us; for thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those Aborigines having from choice become Europeans! There must be something very bewitching in their manners, something very indelible and marked by the very hands of Nature. For, take a young Indian lad, give him the best education you possibly can, load him with your bounty, with presents, nay with riches, yet he would secretly long for his native woods, which you would imagine he must have long since forgot; and on the first opportunity he can possibly find, you will see him voluntarily leave behind all you have given him and return with inexpressable joy to lie on the mats of his fathers.

5. William Catton:

[B]etween 1650 and 1850, a mere two centuries, the world's human population doubled. There had never before been such a huge increase in so short a time. It doubled again by 1930, in only eighty years. And the next doubling was to take only about forty-five years! As people and their resource-using implements became more numerous, the gap between carrying capacity and the resource-use load was inevitably closed, American land per American citizen shrank to a mere 11 acres—less than half the space available in Europe for each European just prior to Columbus's revolutionizing voyage. Meanwhile, per capita resource appetites had grown tremendously. The Age of Exuberance was necessarily temporary; it undermined its own foundations.

Most of the people who were fortunate enough to live in that age misconstrued their good fortune. Characteristics of their world and their lives, due to a "limitlessness" that had to be of limited duration, were imagined to be permanent. The people of the Age of Exuberance looked back on the dismal lives of their forebears and pitied them for their "unrealistic" notions about the world, themselves, and the way human beings were meant to live. Instead of recognizing that reality itself had actually changed—and would eventually change again—they congratulated themselves for outgrowing the "superstitions" of ancestors who had seen a different world so differently. While they rejected the old premise of changelessness, they failed to see that their own belief in the permanence of limitlessness was also an overbelief, a superstition.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Shutting down a hate group

via the unapologetic mexican

Columbia University invited Minute Men leader Steve Gilchrist to speak at the university recently. Students shut down the racist hate group's leader before he could even get started on his speech...

Friday, October 06, 2006


There are two basic points here.

One, that there is a concerted effort to “shape” the opposition in America by limiting its focus to the role of “neocons” in the prosecution of the Iraq war. In fact, my larger thesis, which I will attempt to develop on this site, is that much of the “opposition” in the U.S. is kept effectively in check by the power structure through manipulation, infiltration and even, at times, direct control.

Two, because the neocons, as originally defined, are almost exclusively Jewish, this is uncomfortably close to Jewish control theories popular on the extreme right. In fact, as I began to discuss in my Heinberg post, neofascist ideology is making inroads into the left and progressive communities within a variety of movements such as Peak Oil, environmentalism and 9/11 truth. I’ll have much more to say about those at a later time.

In this post, I’d like to deal with the first point. I thought it was self-evident that the idea that this “neocons made us do it theme” is finding increasing acceptance on the left. Evidently, not everyone has noticed.

My job is...

Hard Working George

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Helpful Resource

You ask: Should I use blackface on my blog? This flowchart will help you answer that ever-so-difficult question.

An Objective Evil

Deobfuscation Zone:

Opposing the materialistic, reductionist, individualist viewpoint, is a conception that is holistic and whole, which spreads as a feeling from the centre of the being, encountering the experienced material universe and enveloping and relating to it in an motion which can only be described as love. It can't be measured, or really judged; it sounds foolish and frail and contingent. But as it's experienced (and its experience arrives in billions of forms any second to all living beings - when not actively prevented, because systemically occluded) - it's undeniably the greater truth.

When we say opposing, it is as if we are pitting rival ideologies against each other; and this leads to the conclusion that for one to win, they must engage each other in a fight. But this isn't the case. The spiritual conception, which knows and respects no names, which is available to all, which could be found for example in the firmest atheist, and not at all in the most professed religious person, flees like dew from grass from the project of fighting or asserting material ascendancy. The latter project can only belong to its substantive opposite.

We can see the tragedy in the current situation; people professing to be Christian fight in the cause of Mammon, utterly contradicting the teachings of Christ. People professing Enlightenment values of tolerance and liberty institute the polar opposite following illegal conquests.

The responses of their victims to these aggressions wouldn't need to be religious, but because in many cases the victims are religious, naturally their responses are expressed in religious terms, which adds (from the point of view of imperialist domestic audiences) fuel to the fire of a 'clash of civilisations' thesis.

Thus we have the lunacy of hell becoming true on earth; of American soldiers calling their Iraqi victims 'hajis', a blessed and sacred epithet signifying someone who has experienced heaven on earth, in the form of the pilgrimage to Mecca. Of reading news reports of Palestinians killed by capitalist invasion, with the given names of prophets and peace.

The materialism embodied in capitalism, which has gained objective existence in our social processes and subjective ascendancy in the hearts and minds of those who lead and travel in our social vehicles (e.g. imperialist nation states), brings everyone with it; it constitutes an objective evil, which threatens us all not just materially but spiritually too. This might ultimately be the greater tragedy - that all of us people, encountering the objective material situation in the world (in all the different ways - needing to make a living; experiencing and witnessing the terrible and mortal effects of capitalism which arrives precisely coterminously with the ways we have to make our living), find our faith precluded from existing and being developed, have our faith coopted into vehicles which bear the same names but none of the content; find our faith and our holistic conception, which must always and non-negotiably value human life above matter, and always and non-negotiably knows all human life to be of equal value, offended and occluded and evaporated in myriad ways every moment. Not just human bodies are wrecked and tortured by capitalism and imperialism; human minds are lost in mental illnesses and despair and depression; and souls burdened with the "sins" borne of the illusions of particularity and reductionism, of the continual profitable hiding of holistic realities, of the system.

That the truth of life - an unending opportunity to experience and express grace and serendipity and beneficence, in the form of creativity and cooperation and experience - is equally unendingly, continually, simultaneously precluded from ever occurring, by the objective existence of the system.

So it might be that in liberal societies, tragically, for all the sometimes emancipatory potential and intent of liberal ideas, that spiritual values are excluded, to the profit of materialism. This because the innate and throughout-patterned opposition of spiritual life and matter is not understood; or understanding deliberately removed; the opposition continually misassigned (as an inheritance of the scientific enlightenment; or rather, of the deliberate intent of capitalist ideological production). So that capitalism can spread like a parasite on a host which is no longer fighting it, to exclude that which is of life within the body - viciously attacking it anew for all it presents opposition to it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Silent Comedy

A videotape is brought to us by the industrious and remarkably well-connected Yosri Fouda. He tells us that it "emerged" "through a previously tested channel". This is reassuring. It starts off with a tall guy addressing a bunch of people in the desert. Then there's a cut: we see two jolly students sitting round chatting, ten days later, indoors, somewhere or other. They look as if they are taking the piss, which is quite a common pastime amongst students. One of them has a right good laugh trying on a hat before deciding it doesn't suit him. Eventually, they take turns reading something or other to the camera. This is where it gets exciting, but unfortunately the camera couldn't record sound. Anyway. Yosri Fouda tells us that the tape is "chilling" and that it shows "suicide pilots at Bin Laden’s HQ". What a scoop. But although those two speakers address that camera face-on, in close-up, for minutes on end, "a US source" says that their words can't be lip-read. What a let-down. They must have been speaking Old High Gaelic with a strong Kerry accent, or Martian.

This tape proves something, apparently.