The events in Egypt cannot help but remind me of Portugal. Here, there, and everywhere, now and before, the United States of America, as always, is petrified of anything genuinely progressive or socialist, or even too democratic, for that carries the danger of allowing god-knows what kind of non-America-believer taking office. Honduras 2009, Haiti 2004, Venezuela 2002, Ecuador 2000, Bulgaria 1990, Nicaragua 1990 … dozens more … anything, anyone, if there’s a choice, even a dictator, a torturer, is better. William Blum
From — “Hutch” — Stuart Hutchison of Prosecute Them Now
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• WILLIAM BLUM •
The Anti-Empire Report — 3 February 2011 — by William Blum — The events in Egypt cannot help but remind me of Portugal. Here, there, and everywhere, now and before, the United States of America, as always, is petrified of anything genuinely progressive or socialist, or even too democratic, for that carries the danger of allowing god-knows what kind of non-America-believer taking office.
IN JULY OF 1975 I WENT TO PORTUGAL because in April of the previous year a bloodless military coup had brought down the US-supported 48-year fascist regime of Portugal, the world’s only remaining colonial power. This was followed by a program centered on nationalization of major industries, workers control, a minimum wage, land reform, and other progressive measures. Military officers in a Western nation who spoke like socialists was science fiction to my American mind, but it had become a reality in Portugal. The center of Lisbon was crowded from morning till evening with people discussing the changes and putting up flyers on bulletin boards. The visual symbol of the Portuguese “revolution” had become the picture of a child sticking a rose into the muzzle of a rifle held by a friendly soldier, and I got caught up in demonstrations and parades featuring people, including myself, standing on tanks and throwing roses, with the crowds cheering the soldiers. It was pretty heady stuff, and I dearly wanted to believe, but I and most people I spoke to there had little doubt that the United States could not let such a breath of fresh air last very long. The overthrow of the Chilean government less than two years earlier had raised the world’s collective political consciousness, as well as the level of skepticism and paranoia on the left.
Washington and multinational corporate officials who were on the board of directors of the planet were indeed concerned. Besides anything else, Portugal was a member of NATO. Destabilization became the order of the day: covert actions; attacks in the US press; subverting trade unions; subsidizing opposition media; economic sabotage through international credit and commerce; heavy financing of selected candidates in elections; a US cut-off of Portugal from certain military and nuclear information commonly available to NATO members; NATO naval and air exercises off the Portuguese coast, with 19 NATO warships moored in Lisbon’s harbor, regarded by most Portuguese as an attempt to intimidate the provisional government. In 1976 the “Socialist” Party (scarcely further left and no less anti-communist than the US Democratic Party) came to power, heavily financed by the CIA, the Agency also arranging for Western European social-democratic parties to help foot the bill. The Portuguese revolution was dead, stillborn. [William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” pages 187 and 228]
• Oppressive Rule Never Lasts •
The events in Egypt cannot help but remind me of Portugal. Here, there, and everywhere, now and before, the United States of America, as always, is petrified of anything genuinely progressive or socialist, or even too democratic, for that carries the danger of allowing god-knows what kind of non-America-believer taking office. Honduras 2009, Haiti 2004, Venezuela 2002, Ecuador 2000, Bulgaria 1990, Nicaragua 1990 … dozens more … anything, anyone, if there’s a choice, even a dictator, a torturer, is better.
We are so good even our enemies believe our lies.
I’ve devoted a lot of time and effort to the question of how to reach the American mind concerning US foreign policy. To a large extent what this comes down to is trying to counterbalance the lifetime of indoctrination someone raised in the United States receives. It comes in news stories every day.
On January 27th, the Washington Post ran a story about the State Department personnel who were held hostage at the American embassy in Tehran, Iran for some 14 months, 1979-81. The former hostages were preparing to hold a 30th anniversary remembrance the next day.
Our Military’s Already Got It All Classified,
Prepared For Its Brave New World
“It was wrong on every conceivable count,” said L. Bruce Laingen, who was the charge d’affaires. “It was absolutely wrong. … That is my most vivid memory today.” Former political officer John W. Limbert agrees, saying that he “would take any opportunity” to tell his captors “what a terrible thing they had done by their own criteria.”
What criteria, I wonder, did the man think his Iranian captors were guided by? In 1954, the United States had overthrown the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh, resulting, as planned, in the return to power from exile of the Shah. This led to 25 years of rule by oppression including routine torture as the Shah was safeguarded continuously by US military support. Is this not reason enough for Iranians to be bitterly angry at the United States? What was Mr. Limbert thinking? What do Americans who read or hear such comments think? They read or hear distorted news reports pertaining to America’s present or historical role in the world every day, and like in the Washington Post article cited here — there’s no correction by the reporter, no questions asked, no challenge put forth to the idea of America the Noble, America the perpetual victim of the Bad Guys.
• Revolution Or Rebellion? •
Atheist: “Blasphemy is a victimless crime.”
Salman Taseer was murdered in Pakistan a few weeks ago. He was the governor of Punjab province and a member of the secular Pakistan People’s Party. The man who killed him, Mumtaz Qadri, was lauded by some as a hero, showering rose petals on him. Photos taken at the scene show him smiling.
Taseer had dared to speak out against Pakistan’s stringent anti-blasphemy law, calling for leniency for a Christian mother sentenced to death under the blasphemy ban. A national group of 500 religious scholars praised the assassin and issued a warning to those who mourned Taseer. “One who supports a blasphemer is also a blasphemer,” the group said in a statement, which warned journalists, politicians and intellectuals to “learn” from the killing. “What Qadri did has made every Muslim proud.” [Washington Post, 5 January 2011]
Nice, really nice, very civilized. It’s no wonder that decent, god-fearing Americans believe that this kind of thinking and behavior justify Washington’s multiple wars; that this is what the United States is fighting against — Islamic fanatics, homicidal maniacs, who kill their own countrymen over some esoteric piece of religious dogma, who want to kill Americans over some other imagined holy sin, because we’re “infidels” or “blasphemers.” How can we reason with such people? Where is the common humanity the naive pacifists and anti-war activists would like us to honor?
To See and Rate a 4½ minute video,
“The Video that Fueled the Egyptian Revolution”
• They Demonize Islam to Cover Their Imperialist Plans •
But war can be seen as America’s religion — most recently Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and many more in the past — all non-believers in Washington’s Church of Our Lady of Eternal Invasion, Sacred Bombing, and Immaculate Torture, all condemned to death for blasphemy, as each day the United States unleashes blessed robotic death machines called Predators flying over their lands to send “Hellfire” (sic) missiles screaming into wedding parties, funerals, homes, not knowing who the victims are, not caring who the victims are, thousands of them by now, as long as Washington can claim each time — whether correctly or not — that amongst their number was a prominent blasphemer, call him Taliban, or al Qaeda, or insurgent, or militant. How can we reason with such people, the ones in the CIA who operate these drone bombers? What is the difference between them and Mumtaz Qadri? Qadri was smiling in satisfaction after carrying out his holy mission. The CIA man sits comfortably in a room in Nevada and plays his holy video game, then goes out to a satisfying dinner while his victims lay dying. Mumtaz Qadri believes passionately in something called Paradise. The CIA man believes passionately in something called American Exceptionalism.
World Food Prices Hit Record High:
United Nations Agency
Most Terrorism Comes from Within
When a Nation has a Nervous Breakdown
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Radio Netherlands Worldwide/Agence France Press — 4 February 2011 — by RNW and AFP — World food prices reached their highest level ever recorded in January and are set to keep rising for months, the UN food agency said on Thursday, warning that the hardest-hit countries could face turmoil. Millions of people’s lives are at risk.
RISING FOOD PRICES have been cited among the driving forces behind recent popular revolts in north Africa, including the uprising in Egypt and the toppling of Tunisia’s long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
• Picture of an American Child •
And in its latest survey, the Food and Agriculture Organization said its index which monitors monthly price changes for a variety of staples averaged 231 points in January — the highest level since records began in 1990.
• It Happens in Suburbia Too •
“The new figures clearly show that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating. These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come,” FAO economist and grains expert Abdolreza Abbassian said in a statement.
The Index rose by 3.4 percent from December — with big increases in particular for dairy, cereal and oil prices. The rises were most significant in China, India, Indonesia and Russia, data from FAO’s monthly report showed.
• THERE’S NO EXCUSE FOR THIS •
“There are a lot of factors that could spark turmoil in countries and food is one of them,” Abbassian said, pointing out however that several countries have become better at managing prices after a series of riots in 2007 and 2008.
“They have learnt from previous episodes,” he said, adding however: “These are obviously not very easy times. There is now no hope that prices will return to anything we can consider normal, at least until the summer.”
The data from the Rome-based FAO showed that prices for dairy products rose by 6.2 percent from December, oils and fats gained 5.6 percent, while cereals went up by 3.0 percent because of lower global supply of wheat and maize.
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“The increase in prices follows stronger export demand during the last month and concerns about tightening supplies of high quality wheat. The market was also supported by higher oil prices and a weaker US dollar,” FAO said.
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The Tea Party Wags The Dog
• In 1944 FDR Warned Of Rightest Reaction Causing Fascism in the USA •
• Ignorance Breeds Fear And There’s A Lot Of Ignorance Going Around •
Most Terrorism Comes From Within
When A Nation’s In A Nervous Breakdown
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The New York Times — 30 January 2011 — by Frank Rich — It tells you all you need to know about the G.O.P.’s overall tilt to the right that not just the Tea Party is making barely veiled threats to play dangerous political games with the debt limit. Mitch McConnell and Cantor did so last weekend, as have a plethora of potential 2012 presidential candidates, from Tim Pawlenty to Gingrich. The Bachmann-Beck-Palin tail is now firmly wagging the Republican dog.
ANY LINGERING DOUBTS ABOUT BARACK OBAMA’S DETERMINATION TO APPROPRIATE RONALD REAGAN’S POLITICAL SPIRIT EVAPORATED just before the State of the Union. No American brand is more associated with Reagan than General Electric, and it was that corporation’s chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, who popped up as the president’s new wingman when the White House rolled out its latest jobs initiative on January 21st. Obama’s speech on Tuesday, with its celebration of the nation’s can-do capitalist ingenuity, moved him still closer to Reagan’s sweet spot as a national cheerleader. The president even offered a remix of the old Reagan-era G.E. jingle “We bring good things to life” — now traded up to the grander “We do big things.”
Obama’s rhetorical Morning in America is exquisitely timed to coincide with the Gipper’s centennial — and, of course, the unacknowledged start of his own 2012 re-election campaign. It’s remarkable how completely the G.O.P. has ceded the optimism of its patron saint to the president just as the country prepares for a deluge of Reaganiana. Obama’s post-New Year’s surge past a 50 percent approval rating — well ahead of both Reagan’s and Bill Clinton’s comeback trajectories after their respective midterm shellackings — may have only just begun.
There was no drama to Obama’s address — just a unifying theme, at long last, as he reasserted the role of government in rebooting and rebuilding the country for a new century and putting Americans back to work. The president wisely left any theatrics to his adversaries, and, as always, they were happy to oblige.
This time we were spared a “You lie!” But once Obama segued into a rambling laundry list and the “prom night” bipartisan photo ops lost their comic novelty, the night’s storyline inevitably shifted to the reliable diva antics of Michele Bachmann, the founder of the House’s Tea Party Caucus. For all the Republican male establishment’s harrumphing, it couldn’t derail her plan to hijack the party’s designated State of the Union response with one of her own. More Katherine Harris than Sarah Palin, Bachmann is far more riveting television bait than Paul Ryan, the bland congressman officially assigned the Bobby Jindal memorial slot after the New Jersey governor Chris Christie was savvy enough to take a pass.
• How To Set Up A Murder •
The G.O.P. grandees’ consternation was palpable. Earlier in the day Bachmann had dispatched an e-mail announcing that her speech would be carried live by Fox News. But when the time came, Fox relegated the live feed to its Web site, forcing viewers to scurry to CNN, of all places, and delaying its own television recap until after prime time in the East. Rupert Murdoch’s other major organ, The Wall Street Journal, toed the same line, burying Bachmann’s speech in a half-sentence in its print edition the next morning. By then, John Boehner, seconding the disdain of Eric Cantor, was telling reporters that he hadn’t watched Bachmann because of “other obligations.”
• The Lunatic Moloch Still Lurks In Our Lives •
What were they all afraid of? The answer cuts to the crux of the right’s plight less than three months after its supposed restoration. Having sold itself in 2010 as the uncompromising champion of Tea Party-fueled fiscal austerity, the enhanced G.O.P. caucus arrived in Washington in 2011 to discover that most Americans prefer compromise to confrontation and favor balanced budgets in name only.
A CNN poll this month found that just one American in five regards deficit reduction as pressing enough to justify cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Only one in four would choose balancing the budget if it meant reducing education programs. Indeed, a new Gallup poll reveals that there’s exactly one category of government spending that a majority of voters favors slicing — foreign aid (which amounts to some 1 percent of the budget). Incredible as it sounds, even current government outlays to science, the arts, farmers and anti-poverty programs still enjoy 50 percent-plus support.
Remember You Can’t Overestimate Their Power
With So Much Money Behind Them
Bachmann, like such other newly empowered Tea Party tribunes as Rand Paul and Jim DeMint, rattles G.O.P. leaders because she doesn’t pull punches in specifying how she would wield an ax. The only public opinion she cares about is that of her base. But as it turned out, Bachmann specified no cuts on Tuesday night, if only because she was too busy attacking Obama with unreconstructed pre-Tucson vitriol. In the end, her substance differed little from Ryan’s. She chastised government spending six times (vs. Ryan’s 13), and, like him, mentioned the twin federal money pits — Social Security and Medicare — not once. For a night anyway, these G.O.P. fiscal hawks were actually less forthright about entitlements than the Democratic president, who at least paid lip service to someday finding “a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security.”
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