Thursday, December 29, 2011

Persian Gulf Follies

Yesterday, it was reported that Iran has threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz if the USA follows through on plans to impose a total embargo upon the Iranian oil industry.

Today, we are informed that our nation's government has responded with counter-threats, and that a representative of the US 5th Fleet, (which is permanently assigned to the Persian Gulf, and based in Bahrain), chimed in with further hawkish saber-rattling.

This raises a number of questions in the tiny marsupial mind of your faithful correspondent. Not least of these would be, why do we have an independent statement by the 5th Fleet? Is the US Navy now a power unto itself? Does the State department no longer handle diplomatic chores for the United States of (corporate) Amerika? A minor point, you may opine, but still one more indicator that we live in a post-democratic nation-state.

On to the substance of the issue.

The painful part about being a student of history, is that one can often see the parallels, and guess what happens next. The hazardous part about being a student of history, is that one can often guess wrong. None the less, let's play the game of historical parallels for a bit, shall we?

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred on December 7th of 1942, roughly seventy years and three weeks ago, should not have been a surprise. The Anglo-Dutch-US consortium which controlled all oil resources in the Pacific at that time had imposed a complete oil embargo on Japan, using the colorful excuse of Japanese expansion in China.

Yes, I use the term "colorful excuse" deliberately. The Rape of Nanking occurred in 1937, and its details were known in western capitals within weeks, at most. So it took the powers-that-be four long years to decide that those naughty Japanese must be punished? Horseshit. In 1937, nobody in the West gave a damn about the Chinese. By 1941, Roosevelt was desperately seeking an excuse to drag the USA into another European war.

And so the device of an oil embargo was decided upon. Japan, then as now, was totally dependent upon oil imports. US economists predicted that the Japanese economy would collapse within six months without oil. And yet, when Japan responded with a military assault upon the colonial possessions of the embargoing powers, we were caught by surprise? Again I say, horseshit. Anyone who knew anything about Japanese culture and history could have predicted that Japan would fight rather than fold. And even a cursory study of Japanese military history would have revealed that the surprise attack was an old favorite tactic.

Now fast-forward 70 years. Granted Iran and Japan are very different nations, with very different cultures and historical traditions. Imperial Japan was territorially expansionist; Iran hasn't invaded a neighbouring country for over 200 years. The Achilles' Heel of Imperial Japan was oil imports, and that of Iran is its oil exports.

And yet, there are parallels. In both cases, the nation being embargoed was perceived to be a threat to the power of the US Navy. In both cases, the nation being embargoed was perceived to be a threat to the colonial practices of the Western Powers. And in both cases, the subtle hand of the Zionists was at work behind the scenes.

Whoa, Possum, you say! That came out of left field; how the fuck do you figure that?

In 1941, the Zionists wanted the USA committed to the European disaster that we now call World War II, both in order to defeat Germany and also to follow through on plans for the creation of Israel.

Here in late 2011, the Zionists want the USA committed to war with Iran, in order to further the interests of Israel, or at least the perceived interests of the ultra-conservative cabal which currently controls Israel's government.

(And this is as good a place as any to gently remind ourselves that there are good people in Israel, and blaming all Israelis for the horrid crimes of the Israeli government would be every bit as unjust as blaming all Americans for the horrid crimes of the US government.)

So, once again, we have an oil embargo being used to provoke an armed conflict. And yet, the world of 2011 is vastly different from that of 1941. Today, we have stern warnings against precipitate action from the Russians and Chinese, both of whom have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, with the veto power granted by that permanent seat.

As horrid as the thought may be, as painfully as my heart cries out in grief for the potential suffering of the common people both in Iran and here in the USA, I am very much afraid that the reactionaries will succeed in provoking a shooting war involving Iran, sometime in 2012.

What the consequences of that war will be, dear reader, that I cannot begin to say. And neither can the criminal psychopaths who control Washington DC and Tel Aviv.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2003 Redux

Just as the US government stampeded us into a totally unjustified invasion of Iraq in 2003, based upon fabricated evidence, so there is another effort underway to justify an attack on Iran.

Yes, I've said this before, but it's serious business, and worth repeating. Washington DC has apparently gone bugfuck crazy, and embarked upon another of those "we are an empire now; we create our own reality" escapades.

Watch the video, or at least the first 10 minutes of it, and see for yourselves. Change we can believe in, yeah, but not a change we would have picked if we'd had a choice. I am almost wishing I'd voted for McCain. Things would be just as bad, I'm sure, but at least we'd have an open enemy in the White House, and not this wolf-in-sheep's-clothing called Obama.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here)

Again, the usual disclaimer. This video is from PressTV, which is an Iranian news service. You should keep the salt shaker handy, and your bullshit filters firmly in place, as you should when screening news from any source, foreign or domestic.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cheap Possum Excuses

If Mary and Joseph rode into Bethlehem today...

Greetings, dear reader. Your faithful marsupial correspondent has been slacking off shamelessly on the blog posts this month, it's true. I'm claiming the holidays as my official Cheap Excuse ™

Since I still don't have anything intelligent (or even semi-intelligent) to talk about, here are some visual things to hopefully distract you. Hey, look, a squirrel!

The three wise men in Bethlehem today...

And as far as the NDAA nightmare, well, it's all been said. Goodbye, America. Skulz Fontaine of Graphic Visigoth captures it well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lost Drone Followup

Herewith, dear reader, a quick followup to yesterday's "lost drone" story. As always, you should maintain a reasonable degree of skepticism in evaluating this or any other video, from any national government or news organization.

(Open Salon readers can view the video here.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Somewhere, Francis Gary Powers Is Laughing

Oh, the more it changes, the more it stays the same. At least this time there's no pilot involved.

A "stealth drone" operating somewhere in Western Afghanistan, (i.e. along the border with Iran), has been "lost", (don't you just love the euphemisms?), and apparently recovered by the Iranians largely intact.

I think we all know what happened. The CIA was spying on the Iranians with this stealth drone, and either they crashed it, or it malfunctioned. But of course our government can't just come out and say that. For some reason. Apparently, Washington is highly allergic to plain truth.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here)

Oh, what schadenfreude!

Debt Jubilee

The time has come for a debt jubilee.

By now, it should be clear to everyone that the current status quo is absolutely unsustainable. The world's governments are staggering under a crippling load of debt. And, because of this, the bankers have taken control of the government of every major nation in the world. The working people of the world, those fortunate enough to still have a job, are likewise staggering under a never-ending mountain of debt, and facing a lifetime of economic enslavement.

The only answer to saving our nations, the only answer to breaking the power of the bankers, is a complete repudiation of all debts, by governments, by small businesses, by individuals, by everyone except corporations.

Of course those who profit from the status quo will scream bloody murder at the suggestion. Of course they will heap scorn upon the idea, and predict that it will bring about the apocalypse. Of course the powers-that-be will do anything they can to prevent this idea from even being seriously considered. But let's think about it logically.

Who would suffer, in the end? Well, the bankers would. Individuals would prosper, small businesses would prosper, governments would be relieved of a huge and crippling portion of their mandated budgets. There would no longer be any excuse for cutting vital social programs, and of course the Conservatives would hate it for that reason alone.

The only people who would really suffer would be the rich,. and the banks they control. Yes, the banks would take it in the ass. But, who caused this financial crisis in the first place?

Well, the bankers did.

Why is it so outrageous to suggest that those responsible for creating the problem should pay the price of fixing the problem?

Think about it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Endgame in Pakistan?

As most of you are probably aware by now, last week US helicopter gunships crossed the border into Pakistan and attacked an outpost of the Pakistan army, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers, and wounding 13 more. There can be little doubt that this was a deliberate attack, ordered and approved at the highest levels of the Obama administration. It is virtually certain that the President himself approved the attack.

How do we know this? Well, consider the fact that as soon as the attack started, the Pakistanis radioed NATO command, and told them that their helicopters were attacking an outpost of the Pakistan army. The gunships then broke off their attack and left. But, fifteen minutes later, they returned to renew the attack. How do you explain that as an accident?

This was done after a blunt warning from the Chinese a few months ago, to the effect that any US attack on Pakistan could lead to war.

And a similar blunt warning from General Hamid Gul, former head of the ISI, (think Pakistan's CIA), in May of this year, as seen in the video below.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here)

If you're short on time and patience, drag the slider to 10:00 and watch the last 2 minutes of the video.

Now, with regard to General Gul. As a former head of the ISI, there can be no doubt that he has bloody hands up to his armpits. I'm not suggesting for one moment that he is an angel, or a nice guy. But I cannot help but respect him for his strategic acuity, and most of all for his willingness to state the blunt truth. After all, dear reader, this was the man who had the courage to say openly that the "War on Terror" was nonsense, and entirely a product of George Bush's imagination.

So, having said all that, the obvious remaining question is, what the fuck is going on is Washington? Have they succumbed to the Bush-era thinking that "we are an empire now; we create our own reality"? Are they utterly stark, raving insane? Or are they pursuing a dark agenda which has not yet become apparent, even to those of us who attempt to sift through the mega-tons of media bullshit, and follow events in the world outside our borders?

In all truth, dear reader, I do not have a clue. Your guess is as good as mine.

Friday, November 18, 2011

War on Iran: Follow Up

As a follow up to my last scribble, from the 9th of this month, about the campaign to launch a war against Iran, let me offer you another video from Press TV.

Again, remember that this is an Iranian news agency, but note that the vast majority of the video consists of an interview with Jeffrey Steinberg, editor of the Executive Intelligence Review in Washington DC.

The reason why I continue to monitor Press TV, and post their videos here, is because their reports do not simply consist of propaganda, but rather in large part of interviews with Americans who do not support the establishment view. In what seems to be almost a variation on the classical Socratic Method, Press TV is very fond of interviewing Westerners, asking them the relevant questions, and letting their audience be explained to by people who look like us, talk like us, dress like us, and therefore have more credibility with us.

In this interview, note carefully how Mr Steinberg points up the parallels between the propaganda that led up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the blatant war propaganda being directed at Iran by the Zionist Lobby today.

Open Salon readers can view the video here

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Iran: The Other Side Of The Story

Once again, the War Drums are being beaten hard and loud against Iran, beaten by the Israel Lobby and its paid lackeys.

First came the farcical accusation of a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, a story so patently threadbare that even reliably conservative establishment media outlets questioned its credibility.

Now we have hysterical accusations from the new US-sponsored head of the IAEA, (International Atomic Energy Agency), to the effect that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program. Let us remember, at this point, that the US spent years trying to get the IAEA under al-Baradei to issue such an indictment. But al-Baradei was, (and is), his own man, and stated repeatedly that there was no evidence of Iran attempting to build a nuclear weapon.

So, in detail, what do these accusations consist of? They consist of two things.

First, an accusation that the Iranians have attempted to create a computer model of an atomic weapon. Excuse me, but, how many game companies have done the same thing? Attempting to create a computer model of something is not the same as making the thing itself.

Second, IAEA under Amano, its new puppet boss, has accused Iran of doing preliminary design work on a metal casing which could possibly be used to contain a nuclear weapon, if one was ever constructed.

And so, dear reader, do you begin to see how incredibly contrived and insubstantial these accusations are? And is it coincidence that this is all happening, in the IAEA which is now coltrolled by the United States, and in the US media which is largely controlled by Zionists, at the same time that Israel is openly threatening to attack Iran? Right, of course it is! Why, you'd have to be crazy to suggest some sort of conspiracy...

But all is not rosy for the Zionist plan. France has issued its usual strongly-worded caution against military aggression, (as they hose the dust of Libya off their warplanes), but France isn't really going to do anything.

Russia, on the other hand, has issued a blunt warning that any attack on Iran, "could have severe consequences and even lead to war". This is Russia's backyard, let us remember, and a region with a long history of Russian interest and intervention, a record going back to the Czars.

So, what are the Iranians themselves saying about all this? Below is a video from Press TV examining the subject at some length. Press TV is an organ of the Iranian government, so by all means keep your salt shaker handy. But while their opinions, (as reflected in their choice of adjectives), is definitely slanted, I have never caught them in an outright falsehood. In my experience, when Press TV cites hard facts, those facts are accurate. Which is certainly more than one can say for Fox News.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peaceful Protest And Limits

Well, well, well. The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

In response to the brutal attack by Oakland PD upon peaceful demonstrators at the Occupy Oakland site, Desertpeace has a lovely quote from Jack London, (of all authors!), specifically a largely-unknown work of his entitled "The Iron Heel" -

We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that power we shall remain in power…We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words–Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power.

Certainly not what you think of when you hear the name Jack London, is it? In contrast, the rest of his works seem like books for children.

And just yesterday my own father emailed me in response to a video I'd sent him last week, showing a similar crackdown by our own local cops against the Occupy San Diego site. What did my Dad have to say? "It's too bad, but the 'occupy movement' or any other form of peaceful protest just doesn't do any good."

Uh huh. Do I really need to say that I agree?

And yet, in a certain coldly cynical sense, peaceful protest does serve a purpose. It demonstrates its own futility, so that all can see other measures are also necessary. And it provides a casus belli, to which The People may afterward point and say, "We tried".

For an interesting historical example, see the Boston Massacre of 1770, and the death of Crispus Attucks. Note that these events took place five years prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord, which are generally considered to have begun the American Revolution.

And on the other hand, Desertpeace, on a relentlessly optimistic note, also offers us this little homily to John Lennon

Monday, October 17, 2011

The "Occupy" Movement Shames Us

So, how about this Occupy Wall Street movement? A bunch of people actually started an Occupy Washington action on the 15th, and some of them, including Prof Cornell West, were arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday. I find this all pretty inspirational stuff.

But yesterday I was doing my usual early Sunday morning grocery shopping, and as I waited outside for the store to open, I asked the other middle-aged guy standing there what he thought about Occupy Wall Street. I was surprised at the bitterness with which he pronounced them all to be "idiots". Vehemently, he insisted that they would accomplish nothing. I was feeling patient and curious, so I asked him a few questions, in that Socratic method that I have worked so hard to develop, and it soon became apparent he hadn't really thought the issue out at all, but he was bitter, angry, and resentful at the folks in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I have seen a surprising amount of this attitude in the last week or so, and it puzzles me. I spent most of the rest of the day pondering that, in a back-of-the-mind sort of a way, and sometime in mid-afternoon it occurred to me in a blinding flash. They're ashamed.

People like the man I spoke with outside the grocery store are ashamed because they know they should be doing something. They see the problems with America, they know it is ultimately their responsibility as citizens to correct the situation, and yet they do nothing. And they feel shame for doing nothing, so they make excuses, saying that the movement will accomplish nothing, and angrily denouncing its members as idiots. They trivialize the Occupy movement in order to assuage their own feelings of guilt.

The anger arises from shame, and guilt.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Bullshit "Bomb Plot"

I'm not the first to say it, but this whole business of accusing Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador stinks to high heaven.

How dreadfully convenient that something like this should come up just as the Occupy Wall Street movement really starts to gain momentum. How convenient for Obama, and convenient for the corporate puppet-masters who so obviously pull his strings.

But most of all, the story is just not credible.

In the words of Pepe Escobar -

"No one ever lost money betting on the dull predictability of the US government. Just as Occupy Wall Street is firing imaginations all across the spectrum - piercing the noxious revolving door between government and casino capitalism - Washington brought us all down to earth, sensationally advertising an Iranian cum Mexican cartel terror plot straight out of The Fast and the Furious movie franchise. The potential victim: Adel al-Jubeir, the ambassador in the US of that lovely counter-revolutionary Mecca, Saudi Arabia."

Or, for a more Conservative view of the subject, try this piece by Hamid Dabashi, who says plaintively-

I am of a certain generation and analytical bend of mind that I cannot believe that Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, can in bright daylight come to national television and just straight lie about a matter so dire and dangerous in its actual and potential consequences.

We have no way of challenging the veracity of what he says. He is privy to intelligence. We are not. He is a figure of authority - we must take what he says seriously. The very assumption and presumption of a democracy is that people in position of such power and authority don't just lie.

Right, Hamid, sure thing. What, our government, lie to us? Say it ain't true!

What's that you say? You want something more mainstream? OK, how about The Atlantic, FFS?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

UN Report Finds "Systematic Torture" in Afghanistan

Quoted from Al Jazeera English -
A United Nations report has found "compelling evidence" that Afghan intelligence officials at five detention centres "systematically tortured detainees for the purpose of obtaining confessions and information".

Yes, I know, you're thinking, "well, no shit, Sherlock...", but let's go through the motions, shall we?

Here is the original UN document, entitled UNAMA report: Mistreatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan facilities.

Essentially, it confirms what we have already known for years. Beginning with the Bush administration, and continuing under the Obama administration, innocent people were randomly arrested by NATO forces and handed over to the Afghan government for torture. We knew that, or at least we had ample reason to suspect it. But this report gilds the lily by proving that our worst suspicions were and are true. This report documents the torture, again. As if Abu Ghraib were not enough.

See the official response by NATO's spokes-animal here.

Read the story on Al Jazeera English here.

And, of course, the question is, now what?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Pogrom

Were you ever at a lynching? Were you ever someplace where an unbridled mob was beating you and your friends and then chasing you to beat you again? Were you ever the victim of wild violence before the blind eyes of policemen who ignored your desperate calls for help? Have you ever felt abandoned? The following story begins with with blood, but its point is the abandonment.

What happened Friday afternoon at the entrance to the settlement of Anatot was a pogrom, a lynching. There’s no other way to describe an event in which hundreds of large men are wildly beating and pursuing a nonviolent group of male and female activists for an extended period of time. There’s no way to convey to those who weren’t there the threatening sense of the approaching dark – not in words, not in pictures, not even in video.

The above is a quote from a new article at Desertpeace.

I'll let you go and read the rest for yourself. What needs to be said is that this is not an isolated incident. This is sadly typical of what is being done to the Palestinian people in the Occupied West Bank every week.

This is the kind of ugly story that the mainstream media here in the USA will never cover. Why? I think you know the answer to that...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Even A Blind Pig...

As the old saying goes, even a blind pig finds an occasional acorn.

Foreign Policy magazine is not one of my favorite online publications, being altogether too conservative and mainstream for my taste, but every now and then, they do publish something worth reading. Such is very definitely the case in the latest column by Stephen M. Walt.

This column is the latest is an ongoing editorial catfight between the author and Jeff Goldberg, an ardent Zionist who writes for both Atlantic magazine and Bloomberg. This little spat all started when Mr Walt wrote a blurb for the fly cover of a book which dared to criticize Israel. So now Mr Goldberg has accused Mr Walt of being an anti-Semite, (oh noes!), etc, etc, ad nauseam. And the column linked above is a response by Mr Walt and his associate John Mearsheimer.

"Possum," you think, "why are you wasting my time with an editorial bitchfest between two over-educated East Coast Establishment assholes?".

Well, because in the course of his oh-so-genteel defense, John Mearsheimer makes some very interesting points about what was actually said and not said, and about the nature of the whole Zionist debate.

The book in question is "The Wandering Who", by Gilad Atzmon. In spite of the title, it has nothing to do with Pete Townshend or Roger Daltrey. (And, no, I'm not making any money off the link to Amazon).

As I said, there are some interesting points made here, which is why I'm posting about this whole issue. Not least among these interesting points is a sterling example of just how the Zionists use partial truths to slander people. let me quote one paragraph -

Let me make one additional point about Goldberg's mining of Atzmon's blog posts. Goldberg ends his attack on me with the following quotation from a Feb. 19 blog post by Atzmon: "I believe that from [a] certain ideological perspective, Israel is actually far worse than Nazi Germany." That quotation certainly makes Atzmon look like he has lost his mind and that nothing he has written could be trusted. But Goldberg has misrepresented what Atzmon really said, which is one of his standard tactics. Specifically, he quotes only part of a sentence from Atzmon's blog post; but when you look at the entire sentence, you see that Atzmon is making a different, and far more nuanced point. The entire sentence reads: "Indeed, I believe that from [a] certain ideological perspective, Israel is actually far worse than Nazi Germany, for unlike Nazi Germany, Israel is a democracy and that implies that Israeli citizens are complicit in Israeli atrocities." This is not an argument I would make, but what Atzmon is saying is quite different from the way Goldberg portrays it.

See what I mean? The author offers up an agonizing observation on the moral dangers of representative democracy, in which the leaders which we elect can then take unilateral actions, of an utterly reprehensible nature, in which we are morally complicit. And Goldberg massages that into a simple statement of extremism.

Take the time to read the column linked above, my friends. It's not easy reading, but it is worth your while.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Obama Sucks Israel's Cock Again

Proving once again that he is Israel's whining bitch apologist, Barak Hussein Obama, our ever-so-noble President, in all his Nobel prize winning glory, stood up and delivered a speech to the UN that Desertpeace has quite accurately described as "a defense of Jim Crow in Israel".

Way to go, Mr President. I'm sure Abraham Lincoln, whom you so admire, would have totally agreed with your unconditional support of a racist, fascist Israeli government.

Meanwhile, Israel is busily arming its mad-dog, religious-fanatic "settlers" even more heavily than before, and drawing them pictures of when to shoot.

Oh, but tonguing Israel's anus wasn't enough for our President, oh no, not by half. He had to go for broke with comments like this...

I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place -- Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization -- remained at large. Today, we've set a new direction.

A new direction, Mr President? You mean by killing Habeas Corpus and escalating drone attacks in Pakistan, drone attacks that kill 39 times as many civilians as "militants"?

At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq -- for its government and for its security forces, for its people and for their aspirations.

Yeah, right, but we'll leave behind 10,000 fully-armed "trainers" and roughly 4 times that many mercenaries in the guise of "private security personnel". Oh, but we're completely withdrawing from Iraq, really!

As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.

No, asshole, the war in Afghanistan is just getting to the crucial stage, and the Taliban have momentum on their side. You ain't seen nothing yet. And how can you talk about "building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people" when most of them hate our guts because we have occupied their nation and murdered their kin? Just how stupid do you think we are, Mr President, to swallow blatant bullshit like this? What kind of brain-dead morons do you take us for?

The fact is peace is hard. But our people demand it. Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.

No, you worthless cock-bandit, peace is easy. You just stop killing people and end your occupation of their countries, you stop supporting fascist governments that murder their own people, you stop pandering to the corporations and the Zionist Lobby.

In short, Mr President, you simply retrieve your misplaced testicles from wherever you have them hidden, and do your job. You remember the words of your oath of office and live up to them. Of The People, By The People, For The People. It's very simple. You quit being a whimpering pussy and be a President.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Did The US Assassinate Burhanuddin Rabbani

Did The US Assassinate Burhanuddin Rabbani?

Somebody killed the man, and the Taliban are adamantly denying any involvement. Personally, I have long suspected that the US has been behind many of the bombings and killings which are commonly blamed on the Taliban.

Let's ask ourselves, cui bono? Who profits from this?

First, as with anything in Afghanistan, one must look at tribal issues. Rabbani, a former President of Afghanistan, was not a Pashtun (from southern Afghanistan), but a Tajik, (from northern Afghanistan). Furthermore, he was one of the few Tajik with enough prestige on both sides to act as a respected broker for talks between the government and the freedom fighters. By all reports, Rabbani was doing just this.

The Karzai government gains nothing from his death; they desperately want a negotiated solution, preferably one which excludes the USA.

The Taliban gain nothing from his death; they may or may not be serious about negotiating, (remember the "peace talks" between the US and North Vietnam?), but merely by forcing the government to negotiate with them, they gain immense prestige. So why on earth would the Taliban kill Rabbani, knowing that this would harm their credibility with the Afghan people?

So who profits? The US government does, Haliburton does, the oil companies do. They profit by scuttling any serious attempt to negotiate a solution in Afghanistan, thereby justifying their continued occupation of Afghanistan. And make no mistake, dear reader, the corporations are reaping immense profits from the occupation.

These are only my own thoughts and opinions, of course. And what do I know? Nasty, suspicious-minded Possum, bad boy, bad!

Open Salon readers can view the video here

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Straight Talk From A Spook

I have said this before, but it's more true than ever. I am really coming to seriously admire Robert Grenier.

This man can speak the truth so compellingly, and yet manage a sense of the whimsical, a brief and eloquent thought spared for what-might-have-been. Who would ever have expected it from a former spook? I am forced to reconsider my image of the CIA, in spite of their manifold and heinous crimes against humanity, their crimes against sanity.

The article to which I refer is here.

Then again, what is the CIA, really?

On the one hand, if you go to their website, at, and choose World Factbook from the blue menu at the right, you can find a truly excellent online reference source, one which contains blunt, factual, astonishingly undiplomatic appraisals of any number of nations and situations around this world of ours. Back at the main site, if you examine the menu on the left, there is a listing for the CIA "Kids' Page". I confess, I haven't had the courage to look. My excuse is that I'm not a parent, (much to my sorrow and regret), and therefore I'm not qualified to assess the situation. If you're a parent and you do have the courage, let me know what you find, please.

On the other hand, we all know their reputation. There are some who describe the CIA as essentially the private army of the Bush Dynasty. I suspect that the CIA to which these folks refer is essentially the directorate of operations. But who knows?

In conclusion, let me offer a personal anecdote from years ago. In the late 1970's, I was contemplating career decisions, of the sort we all have to make long before we have any realistic idea what we are committing ourselves to, or just how far-reaching the effects of such decisions will be. An older female relative, whom I most emphatically will not identify by name, asked me if I'd considered a career with the CIA. I replied that no, I had not thought about it, and added that it was my understanding that one could not merely walk in and apply for such jobs, but that one must be invited to apply. She looked me right in the eye and asked, "would you like to be invited?".

The point of this story is not that this female relative of mine was an evil woman. She was rather stern and serious for my tastes, and hellishly judgmental, but she was not evil by any means. The point of this story is that the CIA is composed of people, people much like thee and me.

For the record, I said No, thank you. Just imagine how different a man I might be today, if I had said Yes, thank you. Granted, with my basic irreverence for authority, I might well have wound up dead or in prison. But, on the gripping hand, I might have wound up a man much like Robert Grenier.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Greece Being Abandoned?

With their own financial problems growing apace, the EU nations are showing some signs that they may perhaps abandon Greece.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, (who belongs in a prison cell for his role in the 2008 meltdown, and subsequent robbery of the US taxpayer), took the unprecedented step of actually attending a meeting of EU Zone financial ministers. And if, at this point, you find yourself wondering just why this is unprecedented, join the club.

Watch carefully the comments of Finnish Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen in this video. And speaking of her, how come the Finns get a hottie like her, and we get stuck with an ugly jug-eared motherfucker like Geithner? There is no justice in the world.

Open Salon readers can view the video and an AJE text article with some further information here.

And, for a totally different take on the issue, see this editorial at The Asia Times. Be aware as you read, however, that this is a very conservative paper, in financial terms.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trumpka as Hoffa?

My attention was directed to this raving right-wing excuse for a blog by some forum friends. Yes, I'm actually linking to a blog I adamantly disagree with. Not a clever thing to do in terms of traffic management, but who cares.

The author of this blog, apparently one Doug Ross, pretends to mistake Trumpka for Jimmy Hoffa Junior, saying "All these labor leaders look alike to me". Given that he'd just mentioned Frederica Wilson, Maxine Waters, and Jesse Jackson, I suspect that this was right-wing code-speak for "all black people look the same". Ahh, the more it changes, the more it stays the same.

(Edit: Yes, I realize that that Trumpka and Hoffa, Jr are both white)

What we have here is transference, in which the the Right accuses the Left of the transgressions which the Right itself has instigated. The violent demonstrations of the Teabaggers are retroactively justified by pointing a finger at the Left and screaming "Violence! Commies! Revolution!" as soon as the Left dares to defend itself, and this while blithely ignoring the calls for revolution which have been coming from the Tea Party, (and other loathsome creatures of the Far Right), for over three years now.

I sometimes wonder if maybe I shouldn't avoid all discussion of the Left/Right divide on this blog, because it plays right into the divide-and-conquer game, and the last thing we need is to fight among ourselves. But on the other hand, how can I avoid this subject when the GOP has waged a war against the poor and the unemployed for over a decade now?

This is certainly not to say that the Democrats as a whole have been anything more than lukewarm friends to the unemployed and disadvantaged, and Obama might as well be a Republican for all he's done to help (which is, let's face it, more or less nothing).

From 1776 to 1861, the people of the USA managed to compromise, and built one of the greatest nations on earth. Then that willingness to compromise was sabotaged by powerful men who had a vested financial interest in seeing it destroyed, men who reaped huge profits from the chaos of war via fat government contracts.

And the nightmare of the War Between The States does not need to be explained to any of you, I'm sure.

Again today, we stand on the brink of chaos, our willingness to compromise and agree to disagree having been sabotaged by powerful men, (and women), who stand to profit from the resulting nightmare.

Lenin said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then as farce.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Got Nothing

Blame it on the heat, but my muse is on strike, and this morning my mind is a complete blank. Yes, even more so than usual. Here's an Onion video that sums it all up very well, complete with bullshit commercial for gas-guzzling, obsolete trash that nobody in their right mind would waste money on.

Open Salon readers can view the video here

Steve Jobs Resigns After Realizing Technology Has Gone As Far As It Can

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Picture... worth a thousand words.

Here, from the pen, (or the computer), of Skulz Fontaine, proprietor of the site called The Graphic Visigoth!, is a picture that captures it all better than anything I could ever write.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Remember Fukushima?

Hey folks, remember Fukushima? You know, that Japanese nuclear plant in partial meltdown, the one that has been dropped from the news in favor of political nonsense surrounding the Republican silly season?

Well, the problem hasn't gone away just because it's dropped off the mainstream media. In fact, there are signs that we haven't seen the worst of things yet. And the Japanese government is lying shamelessly to its own people about the extent of the radiation release. Aren't you glad we live in Amerika, where our government would never lie to us?

The only good news is that people are stepping up to conduct their own monitoring, and sharing the information. Check out this report by Safecast. Interesting, no?

But the radioactive chickens inevitably come home to roost, and it appears that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is about to resign. At least he's not required to fall on his sword. Oh, cheap shot, Possum, cheap shot.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Short-Selling Explained

This brief video offers a good explanation of just what short-selling is all about.

The relevance of that issue at the moment is that 4 European nations have just banned the practice, as there is evidence that it has been used in the very recent past to manipulate financial markets for the gain of certain rich elites. And of course, such manipulations do immense harm to all those of us who are not rich.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here, or at my main site here)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A New Campaign For The 99ers

The problem we 99ers have is that we have become invisible. We get no attention from media or politicians, and ignoring us has become far cheaper and easier than helping us. Now, we cannot do anything about the cost of helping us. That is a fixed number, although it keeps creeping up as we grow in numbers.

So, the problem is that variable A (cost of helping us) is greater than variable Z, (cost of ignoring us).

We need to reverse that, so that Z, (cost of ignoring us), is greater than A, (cost of helping us).

And we cannot reduce the value of variable A, (cost of helping us).

Therefore the only way to achieve our goal is to increase the value of variable Z, the cost of ignoring us.

In summary,we have to make it prohibitively expensive to keep ignoring us. And, at least for now, we need to accomplish this without breaking the law.

So, here is a simple suggestion for a first little baby step in that direction.

I want to convince every 99er in America to re-apply for unemployment once a month. There is no rule against this, there is no prohibition whatsoever. We just fill out a new application every calendar month, telling the full and honest truth. And every month, the state unemployment machinery has to process all those applications, and send us a form letter saying "you have already received the full 99 weeks of blah blah blah, etc, etc".

The California EDD admits that there are 469,000+ of us in California alone. That means about 120,000 applications a week for them to process, deal with, and respond to.

There is also a secondary benefit to this idea. If and when something like HR 589 should ever be passed, all of us will still be active in the files of our state unemployment departments. Until today, Cal EDD hadn't heard from me in over a year. If HR 589 did pass, would they remember me?

Anyhow, I am truly fired up about this idea. It's something we can do, and do for free, and in most states we can do it online.

Monday, August 8, 2011

London Is Burning

Watching the live video from the London riots on Al Jazeera English, I was amazed at how many times a commentator said something to the effect that this was "difficult to understand". Anyone who feels that way, obviously has a job.

It's almost amusing to listen to the government Talking Heads like Nick Clegg declare indignantly that "there is no excuse", calling the rioters thugs, criminals, etc. While I'm not suggesting that the situations are equivalent, the similarity of the UK government's rhetoric to that being employed by the Syrian government is impossible to ignore.

Then again, they are not completely dissimilar. In both cases, there is an incumbent government which does not represent the people, but rather a rich elite. In both cases, that government employs force to repress the popular will.

So now, on the third day, the rioting has spread to Birmingham and Leeds. And the Cameron government is still frantically denying that this could possibly have any connection to the recent round of vicious cuts to public services, to the brutally high unemployment rate, to the whole ruthless package of "austerity measures".

While my sympathies are with the rioters, that doesn't mean I think what they're doing is at all clever. Burning down their own neighbourhood is dumb, and puts no pressure at all on those actually responsible for their misery. If they want to do some good, they need to march to the neighbourhoods where the rich people live, and burn down their houses.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Turning Points

It is commonly recognised that in a conventional war, there are turning points which are, at least in the clarity of 20-20 hindsight, fairly obvious.

Midway was the turning point of WWII in the Pacific, as Stalingrad was the turning point of the War in the East. At such decisive battles in a conventional war, one side suffers losses of men and material that tip the balance decisively and irrevocably in favor of the other side. At Midway, the IJN lost four fleet carriers. At Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht lost the entire 6th army, some three-quarters of a million men.

Insurgencies are more nebulous. They have no formal beginning, and in many cases, never a true ending either. FARC have been fighting in Colombia for 40 years now. The obvious exception is a successful revolution, in which the insurgents become the new government.

And yet insurgencies also have their turning points, though they can be far more difficult to recognise.

The turning point for the French war in Indochina was either Dien Bien Phu, in April/May of 1954, or the Destruction of Mobile Group 100 in June of that year.

The turning point for the US involvement in Vietnam was the Tet Offensive of 1968. Note carefully that in the strictly military sense, this offensive was a victory for the US, and a disaster for the Communists. Yet in the political arena, that outcome was completely reversed. And an insurgency is not primarily a military struggle, it is a political struggle. It is the failure of US leadership to grasp this basic fact which has prevented the US from ever conducting a successful counter-insurgency.

The destruction of a CH-47 Chinook on Friday, 30-35 miles outside Kabul, which apparently resulted in the deaths of 22 Seals, a dozen others, and the helicopter crew, is being claimed by the Taliban. While claims mean little in a situation of this sort, unless it was a major mechanical failure, they probably did shoot it down.

Is this a turning point?

Militarily, no. Politically, perhaps.

Again, note that this happened just outside of the capital of Kabul, not off somewhere along the Pakistani border. That fact alone magnifies the political impact of the event.

And if the Taliban have finally managed to obtain at least semi-modern shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, then all bets are off, and the whole equation has changed.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here)

Print story (and the same video) here

Friday, August 5, 2011

US Credit Rating Reduced; Geithner Eats Crow

Standard and Poor has followed through on its threat, and reduced the credit rating of the US Government from AAA to AA+, at the same time as the other two major credit rating agencies confirmed their AAA ratings.

Here's the story, just broken at The Hill about an hour and a half ago. Note that they did this late on a Friday, so that it will tend to fall into the "black hole" of the weekly news cycle.

Oh my!

Now, here's another story, from back in April of this year, in which Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says there is "no risk" that the US will lose its top credit rating.

Ohhhhh, Timmy! What will you do now? Your record isn't looking very good, is it?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Possum's Budget Plan

Early in my working life, I learned that you should never go to your boss and point out a problem, unless you also have a proposed solution in hand.

Given that I'm totally against, with every fibre of my being, the proposed "give away the store" budget plan agreed to by our thoroughly emasculated Eunuch-in-chief, I felt I should offer my own counter-proposal.

So, without further ado, your favorite marsupial varmint presents, The Possum Budget Plan -

Raise the maximum tax rate to 95%.

Eliminate the capital gains tax, and tax all income the same.

Cut the Intelligence budget by 50% over three years; cutting 20% the first year, 35% the second year, and 50% in the third year.

Put an absolute end to "black budgets" for the intelligence community. Such practices are pernicious to democracy, and they have no place in a free state.

Cut the Pentagon budget by 50% over three years; cutting 20% the first year, 35% the second year, and 50% in the third year.

End all special appropriations for the Pentagon. No more off-budget special appropriations of $60 Billion whenever the generals ask for it. If they can't afford the war, then don't start the war.

Immediate forced retirement of 30% of all military officers of flag rank, (O-7 and above, i.e. generals and admirals), without the customary automatic promotion on retirement. No further promotions to O-7 or above except on a one-for-one basis as existing flag officers retire. (Explanation- The circa 400-ship US Navy of today has more admirals than it did in the days of the 600-ship Reagan navy. There is no need for that much useless, clueless brass. They just interfere with the captains and lieutenants who actually get things done in the military.)

End all federal subsidies to corporations. All of them, no exceptions. Agricultural subsidies to individuals can stay on the books.

Terminate the existence of the Most Favored Nation trading status.

Place an immediate 30% tariff on all imports, of everything, with no exceptions, unless Congress determines that certain imports need to have an even higher tariff.

Immediately and permanently terminate the H-1b visa program, and give all current H-1b visa holders 90 days to leave the country.

Compensate for the item above by instituting a massive government program to re-train American workers, with preference given to veterans, the unemployed, and those over 45 years of age.

Institute an immediate and absolute moratorium on all immigration until the U-7 unemployment rate in the USA has fallen below 3%.

Require the immigration service to conduct frequent raids on businesses that hire illegal aliens. Require that each single illegal alien employed by a business be considered separately for purposes of assessing fines and other legal penalties, rather than allowing a judge to lump them all together and impose but a single fine. In short, make it prohibitively expensive for anyone to employ illegal aliens.

Institute an immediate and absolute moratorium on all foreign aid, in any form, until the U-7 unemployment rate in the USA has fallen below 3%.

Permanently end all aid to Israel, and institute collection proceedings against Israel to recover the approximately $1 Trillion in US taxpayer money already embezzled by the Zionist mafia. We want our money back.

Declare AIPAC and its mouthpiece WINEP to be what they are, paid lobbying organs of a foreign power, and an arguably hostile foreign power, at that. Order the FBI to commence an immediate criminal investigation against AIPAC for massive political bribery and influence-buying.

Open a true investigation of the sinking of the USS Liberty, with no white-wash this time. File a case before the World Court to collect compensation from Israel for the next of kin of those US servicemen murdered by Israel in that sad incident.

Institute new Labor legislation at the Federal level to empower unions, to make it easier for employees to unionize, and to prevent union-busting by the state governments.

I think that would do the job of balancing the budget quite nicely.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dems Fold Again

Well, the news out of DC is grim as hell, but I cannot claim it's unexpected.

The Democrats are apparently set to bend us over and spread our cheeks for the Republicans, again. And this time, we're not even getting any Astroglide.

You can read the story at The Hill linked above, but the gist of it is $3 Trillion, (yes, Trillion), in cuts to things like Social Security and Medicare, with no additional revenue at all. None, zilch, zip, nada, bupkis. Not even closing any tax loopholes, let alone actually raising taxes rates on the ultra-rich, who are paying less taxes now than at any time in the last 75 years. Oh, no, the Republicans insist that we must not tax the "job creators".

But there's a problem with that label. Over 90% of the new wealth created in the last decade has gone to the uber-rich. Yet, at the same time, the US job market has seen its worst decade since the Great Depression. If the ultra-rich are the job creators, where are the jobs they should have created in the last decade, with all that new money they made? Obviously, those jobs were not created. So, clearly, labeling the ultra-wealthy as "job creators" is total bullshit.

And where is our Fearless Leader in all of this? Wringing his hands and playing the Peevish Professor, or scolding us like "Dad" in some 1950's black and white TV show. Gee, Mr President, I'm really sorry. Can I have a job now, please?

My "wishful thinking" side cannot help but imagine how different this could be if Hilary had won the Democratic nomination back in 2008. The woman is not a saint by any means; if anything she's a ball-busting bitch. But I doubt she'd have gotten herself into this ugly a budget mess in the first place, and if she did, I'm sure she'd have the courage to fight her way out of it.

Gods have mercy, but we are so well and truly screwed.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bug Splat

They call it "bug splat", the splotch of blood, bones, and viscera that marks the site of a successful drone strike. To those manning the consoles in Nevada, it signifies "suspected militants" who have just been "neutralised"; to those on the ground, in most cases, it represents a family that has been shattered, a home destroyed.

So begins a new article on the drone war in Pakistan, by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad.

I do suggest you take the time to read this article. This is a watershed moment in history, I am convinced of that in an overall sense. And this is a very relevant subject.

Here's the gist of it - the USA has killed 2500 Pakistanis with drone strikes. Of that total, thirty-five were actual targets. The rest were all civilians.


Go read it, please.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bullshit Bomb Plot

Oh my, another bomb plot foiled. The world is safe for Democracy again, thanks to the vigilance of your Amerikan Law Enforsement. They can't spell for shit, but they have guns and badges and egos the size of Texas, yeehaw!

OK, to begin, a practical concession to the current environment of "security" paranoia. This scribble is not intended to encourage anyone to make things that go boom, or to teach anyone how. Demolitions is scary shit, even when working with good quality, commercially manufactured ordnance, and I discommend it. Demolitions of the improvised sort are an order of magnitude more unstable, and I strongly discommend it. Period, full stop, end of sentence.

This scribble is intended to highlight certain practical aspects of hypothetical construction of such improvised demolitions, in order to show how law enforcement and their tame media regularly distort the facts of such alleged cases.

There are two main things you need to know.

First, smokeless powder is not an explosive.

Second, the detonators are the issue.

Point One - Gunpowder

The stuff of Hollywood. We all grow up thinking we know what it is. Well, with a helpless shrug of apology to Woody Allen, let me present to you, dear reader, "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Gunpowder, But Were Afraid To Ask". I will keep this short and simple, I promise.

Basically, there are two types of gunpowder.

The original gunpowder is called Black Powder, and was apparently devised by the Chinese, and used as far back as the Three Kingdoms period, circa the 3rd century AD. Black Powder is a mixture of charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter.

Black Powder is a true explosive, albeit what is classified as a "low explosive".

In the mid-to-late 19th century, Smokeless Powder came into use. Smokeless Powder is a form of nitrocellulose; the first variety was made by pouring nitric acid on cotton, and was called guncotton. Later, nitroglycerin was added to the process.

Smokeless Powder is not an explosive.

Let me say that again. Smokeless Powder is not an explosive.

There are immense quantities of detail which I have omitted for purposes of brevity, but that is the gist of the issue.

Point Two - Detonators Are The Issue.

Every time a story like this breaks, the media breathlessly inform us that "bomb-making materials" were found in the suspect's car/home/backpack/rectum/whatever.

Take a deep breath. You have "bomb-making materials" in your home. So do your neighbours. So does your minister, (rabbi, priest, high priestess, imam, prayer leader, church elder, whatever). "Bomb-making materials" are everywhere. If you don't believe me, root around and find a copy of the old Anarchists Cookbook. Yes, yes, it's verboten reading material these days, but there are still copies floating around out there. FFS, do not, repeat not, try any of the recipes in there, because half of them are likely to blow up in your face, but the point remains the same.

Bomb-making materials are everywhere.

Timmy McVeigh (allegedly) blew up the OKC Federal building with a bomb improvised from lawn fertilizer. In actual point of fact, there were obviously demolitions planted inside the building as well, as attested to by the fact that the broken ends of the concrete beams were rounded rather than jagged, but the point remains, he made a hell of a big boom with explosive improvised from materials you can buy at Home Depot.

The issue is detonators.

It is not possible to improvise an effective and reliable remote detonator, using readily available materials. It cannot be done. The only practical solution is to use commercially produced electrical detonators, what are commonly called "blasting caps".

And those cannot be bought. The only way to obtain them is to steal them, usually from a construction company. And if you're going to break in and steal detonators, why not steal the commercially produced explosives stored nearby (yes, they really do that), at the same time?

So, next time you read another breathless announcement about "bomb-making materials", stop and think about this. Are you getting facts, or a ration of shit?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thor's Day

Ah, what lovely times in which to live!

I'm not even going to rant about the aftermath of the Norwegian Shooter incident, except to say that the discourse in Israel, on the Hebrew language websites, is disgusting. There are far, far too many Israelis saying that the Norwegians "had it coming" for supporting Palestine. Such bigoted, hateful, narrow-mindedness sows the seeds of its own destruction, and when it happens, perhaps the world will say that Israel "had it coming".

Ted Rall points out the creation of another astroturf (fake grassroots) cat's paw organization called Americans Elect. ("Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"). One is tempted to ask how stupid they think we are, but the probable answer is too painful to contemplate.

Al Jazeera English has an Op-Ed on the "Censorship of War Casualties in the US" which I found to be worth reading. It is a fact that the MSM goes out of its way to avoid showing Mr and Mrs America the blood and gore that is the inevitable by-product of American Imperialism.

Paul Rosenberg has an interesting piece on the New Apostolic Reformation, again at AJE. Oh, those wacky fundamentalists. If they weren't so scary, they would be highly amusing to watch.

And it was pointed out to me today that Obama has a serious problem on his hands. Well, yes, OK, he has a whole basket-full of them, but give the man a break. Middle East diplomacy is hard! Pardon the cheap shot, but I'm still thinking about the administration's comment that bringing peace to the Middle East had turned out to be much more difficult than the President had expected.

I mean, no shit, Sherlock! Just think about the colossal arrogance or colossal ignorance that comment betrayed. There has only been an issue here since 1948. That was during the administration of Harry Truman. Since then, Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, and Bush Jr have all wrestled with the issue. Eleven different administrations have tried to bring peace to the Middle East. If you want to be cynical and say that nobody before Nixon tried very hard (or even at all), that's still seven Presidents, seven administrations, that have struggled with this intractable tarbaby of an issue. But Obama thought he was just going to waltz in there and fix it all up in time for the midterms of 2010.

Either the man is stupendously arrogant, or he was just ignorant of foreign affairs to a truly frightening degree. And his grasp of international issues does not seem to be improving with experience.

So, to the current issue. International support for a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood is snowballing rapidly. It is becoming obvious that the Palestinians will have enough support in the General Assembly to pass their measure with ease this September, barely a month from now. This is going to leave the US playing the dog in the manger by vetoing it in the Security Council.

Now, Obama is in re-election mode, utterly and shamelessly. Can he afford to alienate his Democratic base by a Security Council veto of Palestinian hopes, against the clear majority of international opinion, and just hope desperately they have forgiven him by next November? Or will that be the straw that breaks the camel's back, on top of the ugly cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare that he is crying out to give the Republicans? With the economy stalling badly, the real unemployment rate just under 20% and climbing, and jobs nowhere to be found, just how much more can Obama afford to piss-off the Left?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Buchanan Paradox

Al Jazeera English has just posted an interview by Riz Khan, another in his One on One series. The subject of this particular interview is none other than Pat Buchanan.

Pat is an old man these days, being well into his eighth decade, and the years have taken a visible toll. He wanders a bit at times, as old men will, and gets a bit long-winded with stories that could interest only a historian.

But in the 25 minute interview, there are about eight minutes of material that are very worth watching.

For example, drag the slider on the video to 1:40 and listen to Riz Khan ask Pat about the rise of the Neo-Cons, and listen carefully to the answer he gives.

Then drag the slider to 18:20 and listen to Pat answer a question about what caused him to become disillusioned with the Republican Party. He talks again about the end of the cold war and the beginning of the current interventionist foreign policy, and how that was a Neo-Con policy not at all in line with traditional Conservative thinking. Then he talks about the exodus of good jobs, and admits he was wrong about Free Trade. "But American workers cannot be made to compete with workers in Singapore and Malaysia who are making one dollar or two dollars an hour"

In fact, if you have the patience to suffer through a brief bit about the Reform Party bid in 2000, the rest of the interview from that point is worth watching.

There are many people who loathe Pat as simply one more Conservative asshole, but that opinion does the man a serious injustice.

When Pat Buchanan talks about being against an interventionist foreign policy, that's not a typically conservative opinion. In fact, it's very much the opposite.

When he speaks against Free Trade, and against the outsourcing of jobs, and says that US workers cannot be made to compete with the cheap labor markets in Asia, that's not a typically Conservative opinion. In fact, it's very much the opposite.

I disagree vehemently with Pat Buchanan on a very great number off issues. But I do not dismiss him as simply one more Conservative asshole. Like it or not, for better or for worse, he is a unique American.

But he can be an asshole at times.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oslo? OSLO? Why Norway?

An explosion in Oslo, Norway early this morning, (early morning, California time; it was just after 3pm in Oslo), has now been officially confirmed to have been a bomb. At least two people are confirmed to have died, and thus far we have no idea about injuries

There is speculation as to the target; the blast did occur very close to the office of the Prime Minister, but so far no definite idea. Some have mentioned an Islamic activist who is being deported to Iraq. Some have mentioned the recent re-printing of "anti-Islamic" cartoons by a newspaper whose offices are nearby the blast. Others have pointed to Norway's participation in the NATO missions in Libya and Afghanistan. There is always the possibility of a false-flag attack by Mossad, in order to discredit Islam in general, prior to the expected UN showdown in September over a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

At this point, all we know for certain is that this is the ugliest thing to happen in Norway since World War II.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Year

Well, well, how time flies when you're having fun. It was one year ago today that I published my first blog at; the cross-post at Open Salon came about somewhat later.

Three hundred sixty-five days, and one hundred fifty-three scribbles later, here we are.

In all sincerity, I want to thank my dear old dad, whom we will refer to simply as "George", in order to protect his privacy. Without you pushing me to do this, father of mine, I'd never have gotten started. Thank you, with all my heart.

And so, dear reader, l'll spare you the tedious year-in-retrospect bullshit. But ask yourself, are you better off than you were a year ago? Are we, the human race, better off than we were a year ago?

I don't think so...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sad Times In Africa

In addition to the hideous situation in Somalia, which is spilling over into northern Kenya, (and which has made the news cycle), there is more grim news out of Africa.

South Africa is preparing a mass expulsion of between 1 million and 2 million Zimbabwean refugees. Now, to refresh your memory, those Zimbabweans fled across the border to South Africa because their nation has been reduced to a basket case by 30 years of dictatorship under a man named Mugabe. More specifically, they fled a cholera epidemic, government violence against political opponents, and an inflation rate that ran into five digits. Yes, I'm serious.

Zimbabwe, where to begin. Zimbabwe is one of the most promising nations in sub-Saharan Africa, and all of that promise has been squandered, murdered, bastardized, prostituted, and sold down the river. Zimbabwe was once a major exporter of food to its neighbours. Today, Zimbabwe is a major importer of food. Zimbabwe once had the best educational system on the African continent. Even today, after thirty years of neglect, 90% of all Zimbabweans over age fifteen are literate in English. Yes, the official language of Zimbabwe is English.

It's enough to make you scream for the sheer criminal waste of human potential.

And further north in Kenya, the government has just carved a big chunk off the Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage site, in order to make room for a uranium mining project.

Now, let's think about this. A game preserve, a place where a small fragment of East Africa's rapidly vanishing wildlife is given a home relatively safe from poachers and bulldozers. And they're going to carve a chunk off of that for a massively polluting, incredibly toxic uranium mining complex.

Granted, there are other problems closer to home. Granted, as a 99er, I have umpteen bazillion things to worry about, and which have more to do with how well I eat next month, and whether I can keep lights, water, and internet turned on for another 30 days. But in the end, I am only one person. If I fall over dead five minutes from now, the planet will keep spinning and life will go on and the species will survive. But if we irretrievably fuXX0r our planet, the species Homo sapiens will not survive.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

South China Sea, Part V

It's been a month since I last mentioned the subject of the South China Sea, and there have been a few new developments, so I suppose it's that time again. Though I must say the degree of apparent interest in this topic here in the US has been underwhelming to non-existent.

China at the moment is playing it very soft on the subject of the South China Sea, because they have other more pressing subjects to pursue. Specifically, they are busy making friends in Europe by establishing stronger economic ties and offering financial support. Europe's bankers, who essentially run the EU, will not forget this support at a time of crisis. And China is also busy applying heavy pressure behind the scenes to get Washington to hammer out a budget deal and raise the debt ceiling. China has invested very heavily in US government debt, and would take a huge loss if Uncle Sam should default.

Behind the scenes, however, the Chinese have been as busy as the proverbial beaver.

This month, July 2011, will see China deploy to the Spratly Islands region the biggest oil exploration, drilling and support rig in existence, a rig constructed at an investment of 8 Billion US dollars.

July 2011 will also see the official launch by the Chinese Navy of its first aircraft carrier, and there is a long tale of deception behind that. Back in 1998, the Chinese bought an unfinished aircraft carrier from the Ukraine, saying that they intended to make a floating casino out of it. The carrier, named Varyag, was a leftover from the USSR, and Ukraine had no use for it. In a truly epic voyage, which deserves a post of its own, the Chinese then towed the Varyag to China, where it has been in drydock ever since. This month, the completed aircraft carrier will be launched, with no casino facilities. Now, let it be understood that this is not a fleet carrier like those used by the US Navy. It is in fact a smaller "ski jump" design of the type once employed by European navies.

And speaking of European navies and aircraft carriers, there are three different Chinese consortia bidding on the former HMS Ark Royal. The story this time is that it will be converted into "the world's largest floating exhibition platform for high-end appliances". I can't even keep a straight face while typing that. Come on, guys, can't you at least cook up a halfway-credible cover story? Not all of us are complete and total idiots...

Olivia Chung's story on the Ark Royal sale in Asia Times Online

Retired US diplomat David Brown has raised another interesting point about the South China Sea area, (we have got to make up a handy acronym for that), namely the existence of Methane Hydrates in vast quantities under the sea. When heated, these Methane Hydrates release methane, or natural gas. Biting my tongue here.

According to David Brown's article-

A 2007 Chinese report estimated that the methane hydrate deposits found so far in the South China Sea may hold as much exploitable energy as 10 billion tons of oil.

I confess that one made me scratch my head a little. Oil is usually measured in barrels, no? Well, it turns out that's mostly an American thing. There can be 6 to 8 barrels of oil in a ton of oil, depending on density. And whose ton we're talking about. But let's use the lower figure.

The equivalent of Ten Billion tons of oil. Six barrels per ton. Sixty Billion barrels of oil, equivalent.

And I think we now understand why the Chinese want the South China Sea so badly.

David Brown's Folly And The South China Sea, also in Asia Times Online

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Golden Gate Bridge, Made In China

The New Golden Gate Bridge, Made In China

Yes, sadly enough, I'm serious. The replacement for the old Golden Gate Bridge, to stretch across the San Francisco Bay to Oakland, is being made in China.

The claim is that the state of California has saved "millions" in labor costs by building the bridge in Shanghai. But let's think about that. If those millions had been paid to California workers, what would have been different?

They'd have paid income tax, to both Federal and California governments.
They'd have paid Social Security taxes on that money.
They'd have spent that money here in California.
The follow-on effects would have generated more millions in economic activity.
And we'd have an American-made bridge.

So, given that all of this is painfully obvious, my questions are as follows.

Why hasn't the mainstream media reported on this?
Who was bribed to make this happen?
Who profits from this boondoggle, other than the Chinese?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hidden Lies In June Jobs Report

So, you've seen the June jobs report by now. According to the Obama administration's official figures, only a net 18,000 jobs were added in June. In evaluating that, remember that we need to add 150,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with new workers entering the workforce, before we can even start making any headway on putting the unemployed back to work.

Well, that 18,000 is a lie. The truth is that the net number of jobs added was negative. The economy actually lost 157,000 jobs. Yes. The truth is not +18K but rather -157K.

Let's look at the deceits employed to make that appallingly negative number look at least a little positive.

First, the administration chose to add a totally imaginary 131,000 to that number. Their explanation is that they "believe" this many new jobs were created by newly formed companies, and therefore they are invisible. They have no evidence of this, not a thing to base it on, they just pulled a number out of their collective ass because they felt like it.

But that still left them with a net loss of 26,000 jobs, and they couldn't have that. So they moved 44,000 jobs from May to June. That's right, they just arbitrarily adjusted the May report downwards by 44,000, and moved those jobs into June instead, in order to get themselves the positive number they felt they needed. To quote John Crudele, "It's like moving the fences at Citi Field so the Mets players can hit more home runs. It might make Jose Reyes feel better, but it doesn't actually make him more powerful."

Read the rest of the Crudele's report here.

I can't wait to see how the Obamapologists spin this one-

"He had to do it, there was no choice!" or
"The Republicans forced him to!" or even
"Bush did it too, you know" or maybe that tired old standby
"You just don't understand economics"

As if that wasn't bad enough, the U-6 unemployment rate, the number that really matters, increased from 15.8% to 16.2%, and that number doesn't even include the six million 99ers.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

One Wife Not Enough

Ah, marriage, domestic bliss. Hey, what are you laughing about?

Two stories here.

Michelle Bachmann, the Great White Hope of the Clueless Right, has signed a 14-point pledge, (hey, she can count to 14, that makes her smarter than Sarah Palin), eschewing things like "polygamy, adultery, and polyandry", along with a few minor points like homosexuality, (no Bachmann-Palin slash fanfic), and Sharia Islam. Just, you know, in case she felt the urge to suddenly recite the Shahadah...

And it's interesting that she didn't include polygyny.

You can check the links above, but here's a summary.

Polygyny is a man with two or more wives, in which there is no direct marriage bond between the wives. This is what Islam endorses. This is typical of the patriarchs in the Old Testament of the Christian bible. This is also what Fundamentalist Mormons practice, although neither LDS nor RLDS endorse it.

Polyandry is a woman with two or more husbands, in which there is no direct marriage bond between the husbands. This is rare.

Polygamy is a marriage with more than two partners, in which each partner is married to each of the others. In the USA, we usually call this group marriage.

Meanwhile, back in Jordan, land of the last Hashemite king, the "Committee For Supporting Polygamy" has been launched to promote polygyny, although they call it polygamy. Confused yet? No? Well then, read on by all means. It only gets better. "Spinsterhood," says the founder, "is a dangerous social phenomenon that, if unabated through marriage, would lead to social and ethical degeneration."

Now, those of you who read this blog regularly, know by now that I am a staunch opponent of Islamophobia. I'm no Arab-basher. And I grant you that my North American perspective on society is not well-suited to judge social phenomena in the Middle East. But...

Back to the story. It seems that in Jordan, the number of unmarried women over thirty is 15 times what it was in 1981.

Now, if you want to hear a calm, reasonable Jordanian, from a charity that pays for weddings for those who cannot afford them, explain why he thinks "polygamy" (polyandry, dammit) is not a good idea, read the story and watch the video. The gentleman in question comes on about 1:15

So, the other man, at the beginning of the video, who just married his third wife. Islam allows him a total of four, do you think we could get him to marry Michelle Bachmann?

There exist a number of related posts on polyandry among the Jewish community over at the Mostly Kosher blog, much to my surprise. Life educates us every day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Porn Crazy On A Bitter 4th

Happy 4th of July, we say.

Just what's so fucking happy about it?

At least 20 million Americans are unemployed. At least 10 million more are underemployed. At least 7 million of the unemployed, the 99ers, have completely exhausted their unemployment benefits, and have nothing at all, since they still cannot find a job.

14% of the population of the USA is now receiving Food Stamps.

And meanwhile, we are on track to break the barrier of Four Trillion US dollars spent thus far on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Oh, but don't worry, it's only about 3 and a half Trillion so far.

Our constitutional rights have been raped away by the bitterly misnamed Patriot Act. The President has murdered Habeas Corpus. And the US Supreme Court is dominated by reactionaries who have declared corporations to have the same rights as people.

The Gulf of Mexico is dying, we still haven't been told the brutal truth about radiation leakage from the Fukushima plant in Japan, and our President is the most painfully inadequate eunuch to sit his unworthy fundament in the Oval Office since Warren G Harding.

Oh, but hey, Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Then again, (gasp!) perhaps my brain has been re-wired by pornography. That is the breathtakingly unoriginal assertion of Naomi Wolf in a recent article at AJE.

If you really have nothing better to do than read her regurgitated drivel, you will find that it's a tired recycling of old and discredited theories from the grossly-misnamed "War on Drugs", just re-targeted on pr0n instead. "They need more and more powerful drugs to get them off" has become, "They need more and more hardcore porn to get them off".

Oh, and to justify that breathless exclamation about "rewiring the male brain", she then solemnly invokes the word "dopamine", ooooooooh, Naomi, that's science! The whole article is a series of sloppy assertions, pseudo-validated by phrases like "we now know" and "there is an increasing body of evidence to support". And yet, not once in the whole article does she cite a single reference to back up any of these assertions. In fact the only reference in the whole article, and a half-assed one at that, is in support of a passing reference to the alleged effects of porn upon women.

If dear Naomi knew anything at all about pr0n, she'd know that while addictive personalities and those who have been raised in a sexually-repressive atmosphere may go crazy with it, most men simply get incredibly bored with it in fairly short order.

In short, this is nothing more than a socio-political hit piece, targeting 49% of the human race.

If you want to argue against porn, there are far more credible ways to approach the subject. My mother, late in her life, changed her position on pr0n, and decided that she was against it, simply upon the pragmatic grounds that, (in her opinion), it leads men to have unreasonable expectations of women. Now, you may or may not agree with that, but we can at least discuss the assertion, although it doesn't do anything to address the First Amendment aspects of the debate.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Turkey May Attack Syria?

This is an odd story.

I was making my usual rounds of foreign online publications, and in Today's Zaman, a Turkish newspaper/website, I found this story.

Now the Turkish story quotes a Kuwaiti media story claiming that Turkey has notified the other members of NATO that it may attack Syria. And down at the bottom of the column it also quotes al-Akhbar, a Lebanese paper said to be close to Hezbollah sources, as saying that Iran has warned Turkey that Iranian forces would attack Turkey if NATO attacks Syria.

Yeah, read that one a few times, it's confusing.

Who knows what basis there is to all this, if any. So far, I can find no trace of this story, or group of stories, being reported in any US Mainstream Media, or even on Al Jazeera English.

Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader.

Bachmann Needs A Boobjob

So I woke up this morning, had a shower, and made myself a substantial breakfast of chicken Parmesan sausage, ($3.99 a pound at Henry's, nomnomnom!), hash browns with onions, and eggs. This turned out to be a good thing, because I needed all the fortification I could get before discovering that Michelle Bachmann (brief pause while the clouds part, the sun shines down, and the angels sing Hosanna), has felt a calling to run for President of these here Yoonited States of Amerika.

Of course, we all knew it was coming. But there's a difference between abstract knowledge of impending disaster, and actually getting kicked in the nuts.

Given that Obama is going to be a one-term President, there is a grim inevitability to the whole thing. Oh, I suppose if the Archangel Michael came down from Heaven with a flaming sword and announced in a voice of thunder that it was the Will of God that Obama be re-elected, it might happen. But short of that, he's almost certain to be kicked out on his worthless ass.

And the sad part is that everyone knows this. The Republicans know it, the Democrats know it, my cousin's dog in Shawnee Mission knows it. But the Democrats will nominate him anyhow, simply because that's what they have always done, and the Amerikan political machine worships at the anus of business-as-usual.

So, whatever, we're fucked, and there's really nothing to be done about it until people are desperate enough to start listening to the Anarchists; then the real party will begin. But until then, we might as well have fun with it, no?

So I put on some Wagner, as I often do when in an Gotterdammerung sort of mood, and all at once it came to me. Bachmann needs a boob job!

I mean, come on now, Palin has the rack, and it does get attention. After all, never forget Rule One.

(Possum's Guide To Understanding The Male Of The Species, Chapter 2-Axioms, Rule One - "Men are pigs".)

Yes, pigs. Grunting, oinking, squealing, rude, inconsiderate, farting, belching, perpetually horny animals. And most of us here in the USA have a raging obsession with boobs. Big boobs. So, clearly, the smart move for A-cup Michelle Bachmann is an expensive set of first-class implants. Now, if she's going to do this, it's going to be obvious. After all, that's the whole idea. So what point in subtlety?

No, no, they hang you for a sheep, they hang you for a lamb, may as well steal the whole buggering flock. Our dear Michelle should clearly throw caution to the winds and go for the Godzilla-does-Tokyo broke with a set of the Hitomi Tanaka-style monsters. (Be aware that any search you do on that name will very probably yield results which are decidedly NSFW, but check Jlist-dot-com if you're curious. And at home.)

Now picture her doing a campaign ad, with the winged helmet and the iron bra, with Ride of the Valkyrie playing in the background, shaking her spear in the air and displaying The Twins for all those anal-retentive, mother-fixated, closet Nazis that are the stalwarts of the Republican party.

Tell me that's too crazy for US politics. Tell me it would never happen. Go ahead.