The Greanville Post • Vol. VIII All captions, well-deserved insults, and pull quotes provided by the editors, not the authors. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:22:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 #BBCTrending: Camel abuse sparks outcry in China Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:22:53 +0000

•••BBC Trending


Pictures showing a mutilated camel being forced to beg on the streets of China’s south-eastern Fuzhou city, have prompted an outcry on Chinese social media.

The images were reported to have originated on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and were soon picked up and widely circulated across various other social media sites. They drew fierce debate about whether the beggars had deliberately mutilated the animals to trigger public sympathy. The pictures seemed to show a camel whose limbs had been lost, tethered to two men who were begging for money. “These people have to be such soulless creatures to be able to do that to the poor beast and parade it around like that. What kind of society have we become, exploiting animals for profit and greed?” commented one Weibo user. “Their plan to buy sympathy has clearly failed: anyone would look at their act with disgust,” another said.

Wild camels are protected by law in China, but the unfortunate ones in the photographs have been identified as domestic Bactrian camels. These are commonly used across the country for transport and do not come under protection laws, activist John Hare tells BBC Trending. His charity, the Wild Camel Protection Foundation, aims to protect the animals in China and Mongolia, and has since circulated the images to the authorities. He has advice for concerned Chinese citizens: “If the public does not want any confrontation with the beggars, they should inform the authorities. But unfortunately as the pictures show, people tend to walk by, say nothing and do nothing.”

Several online petitions were also set up, demanding the perpetrators be punished. One petition, which was posted on, called for a street vendor caught abusing his camel to be prosecuted. Another petition, which drew close to 15,000 signatures, called for ‘urgent action’ from the Chinese government to create legislation against animal abuse.

Reporting by Heather Chen


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American Unawareness Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:27:36 +0000

By Denis A. Conroy, Cyrano’s Journal Today

John Wayne in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

John Wayne in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) / click to expand

Is America’s folk image of itself derived from a cinematic narrative that defines its national character as one representing a ‘can-do-force’ fostering trade in the world for the common good? To date, American settler culture has tried to mould the rest of the world — unsuccessfully — into this ‘productive’ image of itself via hard power. The more the American Empire Enterprise garrisons the globe with military bases, the more skeptical the world community becomes. The time has come, it seems, for the spirit and energy of the American people to address itself more diplomatically to the world community. The task of creating a whole new soft power for the purpose of defining its relationship with the rest of the world is long overdue. The tertiary educated servants administering the status quo have let the system down by being merely compliant. Their focus, and that of the nation, has been too narcissistic for too long.

Perhaps the Hollywood Wax Museum is the real church of the American imagination, personifying the nation’s pioneering achievements in ways that aggrandize the power of individual identity and wealth, a value system John Wayne personified, a whole way of thinking about America. American cinema, in true Hollywood fashion, quickly applied itself to the task of crafting an ideological pedigree based on hard-power.

John Wayne was called “The American”. His style was muscular can-do, cold, calculated and macho in a way that stated what his fans would want America to be. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Barack Obama were some who recalibrated their cultural stem cells to produce a working image of themselves that was compatible with America’s no nonsense unilateralism. Hubristic masculinity  became necessary in order to maintain a metaphoric bridge between the oval office and  America-The-Movieland — currently morphing into a video game. For historians, the realisation  that we can change the script-writer, but the folk context remains the same, is academic. We all star in the same movie, but for most of us, it is merely a bit-part or nothing at all. In cinematic parlance, America floats all boats…or so was the case until billionaire capitalism sucked the marrow out of the system.

John_Wayne - sands of iwo jimaWho, then, are the heroes who make it to folk status by virtue of their ability to mesmerise an audience by tapping into the desires and expectations inherent in this shared narrative?

The protagonist-hero, in the American folk milieu has a God-given right to traverse any boundary, disregard the sovereignty of any state, in his or her fortune-hunter’s self-righteous commitment to profiteer in the name of enterprise. This cinematic logic was developed in the twentieth century in America as a means of capturing the populist heartbeat and steroiding the national character into achieving fighting-fitness for the purpose of establishing Mr. Joe Sixpack as action hero with appeal for every Dirty Tom, Dick and Harry.

The seeds of American exceptionalism were sown in a technological medium that projected the message of super celebrity status and action-hero mythology via the silver screen to Mr. Joe Sixpack and Miss Plain Jane.  Later, when corporate America came along to introduce the expert as hero, the narrative went into free-fall.  The individual was abstracted, the “expert” became the medium within the message, a moving-finger-that-wrote the prescription that would separate the ‘folk’ from the shared narrative.  Thus a new alienated world came into being for the masses.

As the 20th century developed, John Wayne’s — “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much” — remained ‘par for the course’, at a time when boots-on-the-ground meant swaggering into town with two Colt 45’s at the ready and justice in the eye of the beholder. But along the way, American hardware became airborne and boots-on-the-ground gave way to a cock-pitted John Wayne version of sheriff America as lawman. Replete with aerial steed and super-duper-fast-action Hellfire Missile Colt replacements, the sheriffs of the sky were soon targeting civilians in the bad-lands that hadn’t as yet come under American control. Muslim and Asian populations were targeted in order to loosen their hold on assets that were potentially available to the American behemoth.

Come 1979, the cinematic narrative that mesmerised America, gave us Francis Ford Coppola’s APOCALYPSE NOW, starring Marlon Brando. John Wayne turned sociopath — to great acclaim. That it was applauded as a seminal moment in America’s introverted love of self via cinema and deemed culturally, historically or aesthetically significant, is significant in itself. No insights into why America was bombing the shit out of a military and political movement supported by the majority of the South Vietnamese peasantry, were ever offered. The mesmerised American public, comfortable on their couches in the stalls, and agog at the actions on the big silver screen, remained ignorant of what was happening off-screen.

Over time, the actions of the covert intelligence agencies, PR machines, cankerous lobbyist groups and other forms of institutional borse-creep became harbingers of secrecy, thus keeping classified information hobbled to the expert’s need for control in the elite echelons. The sense of centre that the silver screen had evoked, soon fell foul to the bunkered paranoia mentality of the Military Industrial Complex, a ‘big brother’ controlling the imaginative energy of a people through surveillance, meant that the ‘folk’ were pushed off the page.

Intelligence agencies alone now cost the American tax-payer in excess of $60 billion a year. Obama’s drone program is something else again and done in the name of cross-border security. From his oval hole, the peace laureate acts in secret, dispensing and remitting extrajudicial killings with a lurid contempt for accountability, while slaughtering innocents in far away places in order to make the homeland safer ..and like an institutional Wayne, comes across as self-contained and a big man doing a big man’s job.

Wayne’s on-screen persona was always backed up by fire-power as has been the case with all recent Presidents who so freely deferred to the bloviated military to project law and order, American style, outside its own borders. Wayne…”The American” was both impregnable and intractable. He stood like a force of nature. He relied on brute strength to win the day, so he never softened or capitulated . He didn’t much believe in community sensitivities either.  Henry Kissinger must have had a ‘Wayne’ moment when he bombed the poor defenceless Cambodian peasants to smithereens?

Richard M. Nixon once said that Wayne’s “Chisum” was a model for law and order. Nixon didn’t stay around long enough to see a Day-of-The-Triffids surveillance culture impose blindness on all who were seduced by the security-experts-de-jure-machine. So then,what’s new in the new-fashioned Eastern-Midwestern-far-Western-Middle-East that can have any meaning to your average Joe or Jane when it comes to understanding humanitarian homicide as a means of achieving peace in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc?

Why does America continue to produce more than its fair share of wacky individuals? — piano-playing Condoleezza Rice, serendipity-painter George Bush, potty-mouth Dick Cheney — “Go f*ck yourself.” — to Sen. Patrick Leahy …and “There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Donald (15 watt globe) Rumsfeld, as well as wolf-in-sheep-clothing AIPAC the Zionist muse — we-advise-on-regime-change. and you better listen because we get to wreak havoc in the Middle East. were allowed to shock and awe the bejesus out of Muslim countries under the rubric of liberation, while underhandedly sequestering their oily assets with venomous stealth.

So what does it take to begin to extricate ourselves from “There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” To acknowledge that American soft-power, at home and abroad, is on life-support because of the failure of the mesmerised multitude to deal with hard-power, requires immediate attention. To go along with the notion that experts are in charge — of everything — telling us what economic system to accept, or what foreign policy we must support, is to miss the point. If we were to stop and think for a moment, we would find that most experts are deficient in imagination. They are there to defend the status quo that feeds them. They are generally found wanting because they are talking from that place where the sun never shines.

The above collection of buffoons and their scriptwriters would have been laughed out of town in Shakespeare’s time. It was common practice to attend Elizabethan Theatre with a stash of over-ripe fruit for the purpose of hurtling squishy tomatoes at those who appeared egregiously callow, vain, or just plain stupid. Neo-Con-American Foreign Policy and its enablers come to mind as a deserving target to receive the fruity defecations of an irate public trapped in their stalls and captive to a monochromatic screen that only runs the shibboleths of the war party. Maybe the lesson we can learn from all this is, if we can’t throw squishy tomatoes at these mediocre people, we can at least work to throw them out of office and into the dumpster where they belong.

What has become apparent over time, is that America has near zero understanding of what constitutes the Middle East. Dick Cheney is on record as saying “We go where the business is.” when alluding to Iraq and its oil.  What he didn’t say was — after we overcame their resistance. We cannot fathom why the Muslim world might hesitate to forfeit their customs for ours.

So John Wayne has left the building, but his folk-imprimatur is still at the heart of the American Empire. The spirit of John Wayne is currently in every cockpit now over Iraq and Syria, serendipitously bombing the shit out of everything that moves in the hope of vanquishing all resistance to American hegemony. We don’t really know who we are bombing, but quantitatively speaking, there’s a lot to bomb, because there’s a lot of oil down there.

So when did ‘expertise’ — as in leave it to the specialists — become antithetical to the voice of the people; how did the social glue that kept the narrative alive, so easily slip into a fascination for celebrity-observation that left the masses mesmerised by the life-styles of the rich and famous. With screens of one kind or another proliferating, the mesmerised multitude slid seamlessly into anonymity as they ogled off the vapid lives in the entertainment loop. Entertainment relieved boredom while commodified reality became mesmerizingly desirable.

Then finally, what is the value of this American-style democracy that is being touted across the world? If it works as badly as it seems to do on its home patch, why would the rest of the world want to experience the grave inequality that renders so many of its citizens irrelevant? In February of this year, $24 billion was cut from the food stamp programme while $67 billion was added to the military as a way to BOMB away the national treasure.

But a final thought: maybe there is an awareness of some kind stirring in our better selves? A new mood formulating a cinematic trailer for the national psyche. A new form of born-againness waiting in the wings to reclaim a common shareable speech that consensually recognises the need for a change of direction. After all, we are a people, not a machine, and along the way, we might just discover that Muslims are people too, not amorphous collateral.


Originally published at Dissident Voice.

Denis A. Conroy is a retired businessman and journalist, and a voracious follower of matters political outside of the mainstream arena. Read other articles by Denis A..


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Hong Kong’s Umbrellas are ‘Made in USA’ Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:14:25 +0000



Hong Kong may be in the grip of the latest US-manufactured (or abetted) “color revolution.” (click to expand)

The Washington neo-cons and their allies in the US State Department and Obama Administration are clearly furious with China, as they are with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. As both Russia and China in recent years have become more assertive about defining their national interests, and as both Eurasian powers draw into a closer cooperation on all strategic levels, Washington has decided to unleash havoc against Beijing, as it has unleashed the Ukraine dis-order against Russia and Russian links to the EU. The flurry of recent deals binding Beijing and Moscow more closely—the $400 billion gas pipeline, the BRICS infrastructure bank, trade in rubles and renminbi by-passing the US dollar—has triggered Washington’s response. It’s called the Hong Kong ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in the popular media. 

In this era of industrial globalization and out-sourcing of US industry to cheap-labor countries, especially to China, it’s worth taking note of one thing the USA—or more precisely Washington DC and Langley, Virginia—are producing and exporting to China’s Hong Kong. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China has been targeted for a color revolution, one that has been dubbed in the media the Umbrella Revolution for the umbrellas that protesters use to block police tear gas.

The “umbrellas” for Hong Kong’s ongoing Umbrella Revolution are made in Washington. Proof of that lies not only in the obscenely-rapid White House open support of Occupy Central just hours after it began, following the same model they used in Ukraine. The US State Department and NGOs it finances have been quietly preparing these protests for years. Consider just the tip of the Washington Hong Kong “democracy” project.

Same dirty old cast of characters…

With almost by-now-boring monotony, Washington has unleashed another of its infamous Color Revolutions. US Government-steered NGOs and US-trained operatives are running the entire Hong Kong “Occupy Central” protests, ostensibly in protest of the rules Beijing has announced for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections. The Occupy Central Hong Kong protest movement is being nominally led by a 17-year-old student, Joshua Wong, who resembles a Hong Kong version of Harry Potter, a kid who was only just born the year Britain reluctantly ended its 99-year colonial occupation, ceding the city-state back to the Peoples’ Republic. Wong is accompanied in Occupy Central by a University of Minnesota-educated hedge fund money man for the protests, Edward Chin; by a Yale University-educated sociologist, Chan Kin-man; by a Baptist minister who is a veteran of the CIAs 1989 Tiananmen Square destabilization, Chu Yiu-ming; and by a Hong Kong University law professor, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, or Benny Tai.

With almost by-now-boring monotony, Washington has unleashed another of its infamous Color Revolutions. US Government-steered NGOs and US-trained operatives are running the entire Hong Kong “Occupy Central” protests…



No doubt some people are true believers in the causes of their revolution because the Chinese government could stand some improvement. Washington’s meddling, however, is not triggered by ethical considerations. (Click to expand)

Behind these Hong Kong faces, the US State Department and its favorite NGO, the US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED), via its daughter, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), is running the Occupy Central operation. Let’s look behind the nice façade of peaceful non-violent protest for democracy and we find a very undemocratic covert Washington agenda.

Start with Chu Yiu-ming, the Baptist minister chosen to head Occupy Central. The most reverend Chu Yiu-ming is a founder and sits on the executive committee of a Hong Kong NGO– Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM). HKHRM as they openly admit on their website, is mainly financed by the US State Department via its neo-conservative Color Revolution NGO called National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

They state their purpose: “HKHRM briefs the press, the United Nations, local and overseas governments and legislative bodies on Hong Kong human rights issues both orally and through written reports.”  In their 2013 Annual Report, the NED reports giving Rev. Chu Yiu-ming’s HK Human Rights Monitor a grant of US$ 145,000. You can buy a boatload of umbrellas for that. Chu’s HKHRM also works with another NED-financed creation, the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA).

When Occupy Central top honchos decided to (undemocratically) name the very reverend Chu as leader of Occupy Central this past January, 2014, Chu said it was because “I have more connections with different activist groups, and experience in large-scale social campaigns.” He could have named NED as activist group and the CIA’s 1989 Tiananmen Square as a ‘large-scale social campaign,’ to be more specific. The Baptist preacher admitted that he was named de facto leader of Occupy Central by two other leading organizers of the civil disobedience movement, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man, who wanted him “to take up” the role.

Benny Tai is also familiar with the US State Department. Tai, law professor at the University of Hong Kong and co-founder of Hong Kong Occupy Central, works with the Hong Kong University Centre for Comparative and Public Law which receives grants from the NED subsidiary, National Democratic Institute for projects like Design Democracy Hong Kong. The Centre Annual Report states, “With funding assistance from the National Democratic Institute, the Design Democracy Hong Kong website was built to promote a lawful and constructive bottom-up approach to constitutional and political reform in Hong Kong.” On its own website, NDI describes its years-long Hong Kong law project, the legal backdrop to the Occupy demands which essentially would open the door for a US-picked government in Hong Kong just as Victoria Nuland hand-picked a US-loyal coup regime in Ukraine in February 2014. The NDI boasts,

The Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) at the University of Hong Kong, with support from NDI, is working to amplify citizens’ voices in that consultation process by creating Design Democracy Hong Kong (, a unique and neutral website that gives citizens a place to discuss the future of Hong Kong’s electoral system

The Hong Kong wunderkind of the Color Revolution Washington destabilization, 17-year-old student, Joshua Wong, founded a Facebook site called Scholarism when he was 15 with support from Washington’s neo-conservative National Endowment for Democracy via its left branch, National Democratic Institute and NDI’s NDItech project. And another Occupy Central leading figure, Audrey Eu Yuet recently met with Vice President Joe Biden. Hmmmm.

Cardinal Zen and cardinal sin…

Less visible in the mainstream media but identified as one of the key organizers of Occupy Central is Hong Kong’s Catholic Church Cardinal Bishop Emeritus, Joseph Zen. Cardinal Zen according to the Hong Kong Morning Post, is playing a key role in the US-financed protests against Beijing’s authority. Cardinal Zen also happens to be the primary Vatican adviser on China policy. Is the first Jesuit Pope in history, Pope Francis, making a US-financed retry at the mission of Society of Jesus founder (and, incidentally, the Pope’s real namesake) Francis Xavier, to subvert and take over the Peoples’ Republic of China, using Hong Kong as the Achilles Heel?

Vice President Joe Biden, whose own hands are soaked with the blood of thousands of eastern Ukraine victims of the neo-nazi civil war; Cardinal Zen; Reverend Chu; Joshua Wong; Benny Tai and the neo-conservative NED and its NDI and a bevy of other State Department assets and NGO’s too numerous to name here, have ignited a full-blown Color Revolution, the Umbrella Revolution. The timing of the action, a full two years before the Hong Kong 2017 elections, suggests that some people in Washington and elsewhere in the west were getting jumpy.

The growing Eurasian economic space of China in conjunction with Putin’s Russia and their guiding role in creating a peaceful and very effective counter-pole to Washington’s New World (dis-)Order, acting through organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS, is the real target of their dis-order. That is really quite stupid of them, but then, they are fundamentally stupid people who despise intelligence.


F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”
First appeared:


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Why Pro-War Pundits Are Always Wrong Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:06:24 +0000
Screenshot 2014-10-23 18.46.08

Max Boot: the man has made good in America. Russian born, Boot has had a terrific career at the core of a morally corrupt empire. He is now Jeane J. Kirkpatrick (fitting for the heir of another intellectual assassin) Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. You can’t get any more highfalutin than that.

The self-impressed intellectual vermin of a corrupt republic.

Always Erasing the Victims


There is no shortage of men and women – but mostly men, typically white – willing to write 800- to 1,000-word editorials on the need for Decisive Action or Continued Resolve in Whereverthehellistan. Some of these people are historians, some are journalists, but all have attained material success in the field of arguing about war without ever once having to go through the trouble of being right. It is a full-time profession where it undeniably pays to be wrong and speak to power only what power wants to hear, with American advocates of mass killing from El Salvador to Iraq some of the last in their homeland to earn a living wage.

Damning the individuals is good, wholesome fun, but the problem is the systemic reward. Those with all the money and power by and large support and profit from America being in a constant state of war, which one of the country’s most decorated Marines, Major General Smedley Butler, long ago recognized as a “racket” that enriches a select few – arms makers, those who monopolize control over natural resources, and those who lend them all money – at the expense of poor at home and abroad.

There’s no need for a behind-the-scenes conspiracy to personally promote those who defend these polices for those who personally promote them are quite capable of seeing for themselves which road leads to Op-Ed page celebrity and think-tank riches. There are capitalists who don’t directly profit from militarism, but the maintenance of capitalism as a system requires that foreign markets be forcibly opened and maintained by imperialism – call it “Western hegemony” or “American power projection” if that word offends – and in 21st century America most institutions capable of funding a would-be intellectual’s lifestyle continue to be owned by capitalists. There are of course exceptions, and even the Council on Foreign Relations pays a dove or two, but the rule is plain to see. And for each brilliant peacenik with a platform, there a hundred replaceable pro-war dumbies vomiting hundreds of words about Adolf Hitler’s latest successor.

That being the case, when the Council on Foreign Relations calls a man with the name Max Boot “one of America’s leading military historians and foreign-policy analysts,” one can rest assured: that means he’s been wrong about a lot of things. A “senior fellow for national security studies” at the council, whose staff directory could very well be entered as evidence in a war crimes tribunal, Boot is an unreconstructed neoconservative: a man with a stupid name who reliably advocates US military intervention wherever, whenever, for seemingly whatever reason. If ever there’s someone arguing we should be bombing something that we’re not, he will be that someone. Air strikes for democracy? Love it! Funneling arms to overthrow a democratic government? Oh hell yeah. War, direct or by proxy, is always the answer – for democracy or against it – and so long as some elite conception of a national interest can be said to have been satisfied, military intervention will always be said to have worked, fidelity to the imperial narrative requiring a flexible definition of “working.”

There’s no reason to believe Boot isn’t sincere, though it’s not to say he’s dishonest to point out he has a financial incentive to believe what he does. And what he believe, well: because the system of punditry generally rewards pro-war buffoonery, it can lead to the curious situation of the editorial page buffoon out-militarizing the actual militarists.

The man whose yes-it’s-real name has prompted no conservative calls to see his birth certificate – white privilege privileges again – is currently upset at the CIA, which has gone all soft by admitting in a classified review that covertly training and arming insurgents “rarely works,” according to a report in The New York Times. Commissioned amid a debate on whether the US should further intervene in the Syria conflict, the report found that past efforts to aid insurgencies “had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict.”

Putting aside the morality of aiding death squads, as the Reagan administration did throughout Central America, the report analyzed US efforts on strictly amoral grounds and found that, by and large, funding and arming the sort of people the US generally funds and arms – right-wingers with little to no popular support – isn’t a terribly reliable way to bring about lasting social change that US policymakers see as a positive.

Boot, writing in the far-right magazine, Commentary, is willing to defend the CIA even when the CIA isn’t. “Talk about politicized intelligence,” he writes, conflating the agency’s admission of imperfection with the run-up to the war Boot advocated in Iraq, when the CIA’s top officials cherry-picked raw intelligence to bolster the Bush administration’s decision to go to war. “As a historian, I’m all for studying history,” Boot says, but the report, “which needless to say I have not seen,” fails to note all the CIA’s great victories.

At this point, Boot achieves greatness. Sure, there have been failures, he concedes, “But there have also been notable successes such as the US support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s.” That support empowered those who would go on to form the Taliban – and al-Qaeda – but Boot writes that development off as “a lack of follow-up.” The CIA’s efforts helped replace a Soviet client state with a repressive, fundamentalist regime, with terrible results for the people who lived there, but using the amoral metrics of geopolitical politics: Success! At least for a year or two. It didn’t have to end horribly for everyone but the butchers we empowered, Boot effectively is saying in its defense. In fact, things worked out pretty darn well in the alternate history I just hastily imagined for this blog.

“The CIA’s support for the contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s was also successful, contrary to the CIA report,” Boot asserts, “because even though the contras didn’t seize power at gunpoint, they pressured the Sandinistas into holding elections, which they lost.” Here it is revealed just how little concern there for foreign human life the pro-war-everywhere pundit possesses; they never even figure in to calculations of whether an intervention is “successful” or not.

The Nicaraguan people dared overthrow a US-backed dictator and, in the name of democracy, the Reagan administration responded by funding and arming a right-wing insurgency that killed over 50,000 people – on a per capita basis, fewer people died in the US civil war. When that insurgency failed to seize power by force – again, in the name of democracy – the Reagan administration encouraged the conservative opposition to boycott the free and fair election Nicaragua did indeed have in 1984, seeing that as only way to harm the legitimacy of a popular government that would no doubt win the election (which it did, with 70 percent of the vote).

In 1990, after six more years of foreign-funded insurgency, the Sandinistas held another election and did in fact lose it, but that one was hardly free and fair: If the Sandinistas beat the US-funded opposition, the administration of George H.W. Bush had threatened to maintain a crippling economic embargo and support for the cocaine-funded contras. Given a choice between superpower-imposed suffering and a promise of a superpower-funded aid package, the Nicaraguan people chose the latter – and then after 16 years of successively more corrupt conservative governments, returned the Sandinistas to power in 2006. They’ve held on to it ever since.

Supporting an anti-democratic proxy army that sought to seize power by brute force in the name of democracy can only be said to have “worked” in that it temporarily eroded popular support for a democratically elected, center-left government that is now back in power. It “worked” in that it forced the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere to spend a decade diverting precious resources away from development and toward beating back an army of brutal mercenaries whose own mothers probably did not love them (in Syria, the US is once again abandoning those who are actually fighting for democracy in favor of its own, more controllable – that is, disreputable – proxy force). And there was a lesson imparted by those tens of thousands of killed for no good reason: Think twice, people of Earth, before replacing a right-wing US proxy with a left-wing government – though even Boot isn’t cynical enough to spell that out.

Boot also isn’t the only far-right intellectual desperate to claim a national interest served by what normal human beings would view as a senseless slaughter, like the 2003 invasion of Iraq ostensibly over ties to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. Somewhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million people – men, women and children; mother, fathers, daughters and sons – died as a direct result of that war, but over at the National Review, columnist and very serious fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, Deroy Murdock, is set on proving one thing: “Bush Didn’t Lie.”

Bush didn’t lie, according to Murdock, but he did – for some reason, nobody with a brain stem knows why – cover up the evidence of Iraq’s WMDs. The evidence Murdock provides for that assertion is a recent report that the Pentagon has, in fact, been covering up the number of soldiers in Iraq who were exposed to chemical agents as they were decommissioning munitions they came across during the war, many of which had been buried underground and all of which were produced before the 1991 Gulf War, back when Iraq was still a US ally. Murdock takes this to mean: “The late dictator Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass death, and the United States of America was correct to invade Iraq, find these toxins, and destroy them.”

Except, none of that. As The New York Times noted in its report on the cover-up, “The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale,” which in 2002–03 the Times had itself credulously reported: that Saddam Hussein “was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program.”

Indeed, rather than retroactively bolster the case for war, the findings demonstrate that the only WMDs Saddam Hussein ever had were WMDs the US government and its allies gave him. “In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents,” the Times reported, “the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies.”

And rather than destroy these toxins, Murdock himself notes the US left many of them unprotected and, though most are so degraded they can no longer be reliably used as weapons, they are nonetheless in “the humane and prudent hands of the Islamic State.” And whose fault is that, Deroy?

But Murdock, writing for people he knows will never willingly read a New York newspaper that isn’t the Post, doesn’t mention any of that (he doesn’t even mention The New York Times). Instead, he bemoans a lost opportunity, arguing that if the Bush administration did lie – and it did, repeatedly, claiming to have solid evidence Iraq was actively developing and stockpiling chemical, biological and nuclear weapons – it was in claiming that it wasn’t wrong about WMDs. For reasons unknowable, “Bush’s political team” – conservative code for “suspected liberals” – “concealed proof that America’s chief casus belli actually existed. Instead, the howling hyenas of the Left were allowed to gnaw away at Bush’s political corpse.”

In this case, the corpse is a metaphor. Murdock, like others who write pro-war fiction, doesn’t mention the actual corpses: the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who were killed so that American soldiers could be exposed to US-designed chemical weapons – weapons no one would have been exposed to otherwise – and then leave Iraqi society so broken that half the country is now in the hands of jihadists. These people, the millions murdered from Nicaragua to Iraq as a result of a foreign policy its chief propagandists speak of only in abstract terms of “interests” or “security” (for Americans), are never mentioned so they may as well not have existed. One thing’s for sure: they don’t anymore. And for all the lofty talk of liberation, their liberators are fine with that. The erasure of their existence from this planet served an interest – a national one, perhaps, as defined by those who run the nation, but for America’s militarists, at defense contractors and think thanks, a personal one for sure. As wrong as they were and as wrong as they are, Deroy Murdoch and Max Boot have never wondered how they’re going to come up with next month’s rent.

Charles Davis can be reached through his blog: Free Charles Davis.





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Weird Al Franken Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:30:51 +0000

The Strange Darling of the Liberals

Al Franken: Yet another liberaloid turncoat.  (click to expand)

Al Franken: Yet another liberaloid turncoat. (click to expand)


Ireceive a continuous stream of emails from “progressive” organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough.

Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, would like you to believe that he’s been against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to Iraq at least four times to entertain the troops. Does that make sense? Why does the military bring entertainers to soldiers? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? All the charming war crimes and human-rights violations that I and others have documented in great detail for many years. Doesn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?


A year after the US invasion in 2003, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.” Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad? No more so than Barack Obama.

Observing Franken and many other mainstream liberals before him, the question arises: are liberals inveterate hypocrites by definition or are they just plain stupid? Either way, they are worse than useless. They suck up the oxygen that should belong to the real left. 



Visiting the boys. Way to go, Al! (click to expand)

Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.”

While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.”

Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.

Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is the mind of an American liberal in all its beautiful mushiness.


William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War IIRogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He can be reached at:


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Noam Chomsky – The Political Economy of the Mass Media – Part 2 Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:19:36 +0000


It is absolutely essential for American citizens to understand how the corporate media bamboozle them every day, and indispensable for activists. The syntax of propaganda is not rocket science, but most people ignore the value of becoming literate in this underhanded governmental and ruling class art. Here’s an introduction to the topic as good as you’re liable to get anywhere, by a respected student of the discipline.

“Voices from the Archive” lecture by Noam Chomsky, March 15, 1989 – “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” – Part 2 – Recorded at the Memorial Union Theater on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wisconsin. 


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Noam Chomsky – The Political Economy of the Mass Media – Part 1 HD Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:12:02 +0000


It is absolutely essential for American citizens to understand how the corporate media bamboozle them every day, and imperative for activists. The syntax of propaganda is not rocket science, but most people ignore the value of becoming literate in this underhanded governmental and ruling class art. Here’s an introduction to the topic as good as you’re liable to get anywhere, by a respected student of the discipline.


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Evo Morales’ Victory Demonstrates How Much Bolivia Has Changed Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:46:59 +0000

By Federico Fuentes
TeleSUR English


Predictions by pollsters and commentators that Evo Morales would easily win Bolivia’s October 12 presidential elections were confirmed when the incumbent obtained over 60% of the vote.

Most however differ over why, after almost a decade in power, Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) continues to command such a huge level of support.

Their explanations tend to focus on specific economic or political factors, such as booming raw material prices or the MAS’s ability to control and co-opt the country’s social movements.

However, to understand why Morales will soon become the longest serving head of state in a country renowned for its history of coups and rebellions, it is necessary to start with an acknowledgement of the profound changes that Bolivia has undergone during his presidency.

Economic transformation

For some, the old saying “it’s the economy, stupid” neatly summed up the reasons for Evo’s victory.

They argue Morales simply rode the wave of high commodity prices, or promoted the ongoing expansion of lucrative extractivist industries, irrespective of social or environment costs, in order to use these funds to boost his popularity.

Yet, these views ignore (or purposely conceal) a basic truth, namely that Bolivia’s economic success is a direct result of the MAS government’s program for economic transformation.

This program has focused on weakening transnational control over the local economy and diversifying the economy away from its position of dependency on raw material exports.  A key plank of this program was Morales’ 2006 decree nationalizing the all-important gas sector.

Support for Morales is actually a result of the economic transformation that has taken place in Bolivia.

Without this move, any increased windfall from higher commodity prices would have inevitably flowed out of the country, as it had under previous governments.


President Morales holding a coca leaf. The plant has received a bad rap, he says. Few leaders can match his record of original and productive governance. His agenda, reflecting the vision of indigenous peoples, is by far the most ecologically and philosophically advanced in the entire world. (click to expand)

Instead, the capture and dramatic internal redistribution of Bolivia’s gas wealth helped fuel a huge surge in domestic demand, as ordinary people were lifted out of poverty and finally able to attend to their basic needs.

In fact, Bolivia’s record growth rates had more to do with a booming internal market than with external demand, which actually had a negative affect on growth during the global economic crisis.

Increased revenue derived from nationalization also enabled the Morales government to take steps towards making the local economy less dependent on raw material exports.

The government launched its industrialization program, which will soon see Bolivia go from a position of importing processed gas to exporting liquefied petroleum gas and other derivatives (for much higher returns).  Furthermore, the redistribution of gas revenue to other productive sectors has facilitated growth in non-extractive based industries.

This is particularly true for those sectors that provide livelihoods for a majority of the MAS’s social base, which is largely comprised of small-scale farmers, cooperative miners, street vendors and those employed in family businesses or micro-enterprises.

Economic diversification has also meant that growth in manufacturing outpaced both the mining and gas sectors last year.

The idea that Morales’ success is the result of external or internal economic factors such as high commodity prices or dependence on existing extractive industries is as simple as it is wrong.

The truth is that support for Morales is actually a result of the economic transformation that has taken place in Bolivia.

Political revolution

Many analyses also ignore the critical role that Bolivia’s indigenous and social movements have played in revolutionizing the country’s political set-up.

While the nationalization of Bolivia’s gas was officially decreed by the Morales government, it was in fact the direct result of years of struggle by the Bolivian people.

At the heart of these struggles was the demand to nationalize the gas in order to redirect this wealth towards meeting peoples’ needs.

Unsurprisingly, opinions differ as to what exactly should be done with this wealth.

Given the highly organized and mobilized nature of Bolivia’s popular classes, these differences have often been contested in the streets. As a result, the second Morales government (2009-2014) witnessed the highest rate of protests for any government in Bolivian history.

Only a tiny minority of these protests focused on issues to do with resource extraction.

The overwhelming bulk revolved around disputes over resource redistribution. This includes protests over access to basic services through to the redistribution of electoral boundaries and concurrent changes in funding allocation, and mobilizations against particular economic measures (for example, attempts to clamp down on contraband or impose taxes on cooperative miners).

The record number of protests would seem to go against the idea that the MAS has successfully co-opted Bolivia’s social movements. Yet, it also begs the question: if the Bolivian population is staging more protests than ever, why does Morales continue to maintain his popularity?

The explanation lies in the fact that Morales’ election heralded much more than the arrival of the first indigenous person to the presidential palace. It marked the onset of a political revolution that has gradually seen Bolivia’s old political elites dislodged from power and replaced by representatives from the country’s indigenous peoples and popular classes.

For this majority, the MAS government represents a safeguard against a return to the Bolivia of yesteryear, run by corrupt, white elites. More than that, for most indigenous people and social movements, the MAS government is “their” government.

This does not mean that the people have handed the MAS a blank check. Already on several occasions the MAS government has been forced to back down on certain policies due to popular pressure.

However, none of these protests have posed a fundamental challenge to the MAS’s overall vision for Bolivia, precisely because this vision is largely informed by the struggles and demands of the people themselves.

Instead, these conflicts have primarily been disputes over how best to make this vision a reality.

The MAS’s response to date has been to follow an approach of seeking dialogue and consensus, retreating where necessary but always attempting to continue to drive the process forward towards its goal.

Morales constantly sums up this approach using the Zapatista slogan “to govern by obeying”.

It was this approach that enabled the MAS to come into the elections with the backing of all of the country’s main indigenous, campesino, worker and urban poor organizations and to ensure its thumping victory.

The failure of opposition forces and critics to recognize or accept the fact that a political revolution has taken place and important economic transformations are underway explains why they are so far out of touch with the majority of Bolivian society.

Bolivia’s process of change is far from complete, and it may yet falter. It may also be dramatically impacted by events in the region, for example a change of government in neighboring Brazil.

For now, however, Bolivians have once again overwhelmingly chosen to push forward with their process of change.

[Federico Fuentes is co-author, together with Roger Burbach and Michael Fox, he is the co-author of Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Socialism (Zed Books 2013).]


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