Malasian Air Flight 17

July 19, 2014   

The terrible crash of Malaysian Air Flight 17, last Thursday, has been made worse by the increasingly obscene behavior of some in our own government and press – from the President’s almost non-stop comments that this lies squarely at the feet of Russia for Putin’s meddling in Eastern Ukraine, (damn, has he looked in the mirror lately?) to the opinion piece by David Remmick in the New Yorker, yesterday in which, after two paragraphs of suppositions and innuendoes, he says :
“But let’s stop here and register the proper cautions and caveats: There has been no investigation, no conclusive proof. (And there won’t necessarily be a proper and convincing investigation, either, considering the deliberately chaotic and militarized state of eastern Ukraine these days, and Russia’s clear interests.) We shouldn’t pretend to know for certain what we don’t.”

Then, he goes on for the next dozen or so paragraphs to pretend just that.

It’s a hard thing for this old Liberal to confess, that the most non-inflammatory thing I read on the internet Thursday was an AP article on which consisted of a simple statement about how, as unthinkable as the shooting down of a commercial airliner was, it had happened before and a list of eight examples, (all of which I remember from the last forty years).

Of course, our meddling in Ukraine over the last eight or so years – including the recent meddling in the coup that started this war- serves our own interests just as much as it does Putin’s, so it would behoove us to ask, in the midst of this propaganda blitz of Putin-blaming, whether the tragic downing of this plane doesn’t also serve our own interests as much or more than his.

After all, as Paul Craig Roberts points out near the end of one of his pieces, “Among the reports or rumors there is one that says Putin’s presidential plane flew a similar route to that of the Malaysian airliner within 37 minutes of one another. This report has led to speculation that Washington decided to rid itself of Putin and mistook the Malaysian airliner for Putin’s jet. RT reports that the two airplanes are similar in appearance.”

With President Putin having just met with the other BRICS members to set up their own development bank and currency reserve, in challenge to the US dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund, wouldn’t the declining Empire take seriously this threat to its hegemonic grip on world trade?  We certainly did in Libya.  And it was at least one of the reasons we took out Saddam Hussein.

With our own CIA “advising” the Kiev government (which also has the Russian made missile batteries rumored to have brought the plane down) in its war with Eastern Ukraine, might it not be in the Empire’s “national interests” to try and take out Putin by such a false flag operation and accidentally bring down the wrong plane?

I feel certain that the Russian media are just as busy pointing this out to their people as ours and our European allies are busy pointing out the contrary view to the world.

So we can see how easy it is to play this vile game of accusation and innuendos over the bodies of the victims of that terrible crash, even before the crash scene stops smoldering. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time one of our Presidents used such a tragedy for propaganda gain. (President Reagan did just that, with the shooting down of the Korean airliner by a Russian fighter jet in 1983 – even though we knew it was accidental, from our own intelligence gathered at the time.)

Aside from the unbelievable cruelty of such games in regard to the families and friends of the crash victims, there are broader consequences. There is a real war going on in the Ukraine, instigated as much by us as by Russia. And whatever happened in the crash of MAL Flight 17, real people who had nothing to do with that war died as a result.

The declining Empire, in it mad frenzy to retain world hegemony, has – despite promises to the contrary – pushed NATO and its missiles right up to the borders of Russia in country after country. It and its NATO allies have destroyed one country after another in North Africa and the Middle East.

We are in overreach economically, militarily and financially. At some point, all this hubris will catch up with us. We will make another costly mistake, as we have in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and, perhaps, Ukraine/Russia. We can only throw so many oil and resource rich countries into chaos before the cost to us and our allies is too great.  When it is, let us hope the scramble to be on top of the heap over what’s left doesn’t result in WW III.

And let us hope the propaganda war we’ve instigated over MAL 17 isn’t a new step down that very road.

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The Unpeopled

July 12, 2014

The world rushes into madness again as the crumbling Empire which designates itself indispensable becomes, in fact if not in its fictions, dispensable and the exceptional people who rule the Empire and its vassal states around the world become, in their vanity and greed, unexceptional.

And the rest of us? We who are not exceptional people? Depending on where we are on the Empire’s enemies list – whether Palestinian, East Ukranian, Syrian, Libyan, Russian, Chinese or just children fleeing across our borders to escape the violence in their home countries – we are discounted, denigrated and dehumanized. Even our allies are not immune. (Remember how French fries suddenly became Freedom fries when the Empire felt France was not subservient enough in our foray into Iraq?)

As John Pilgar pointed out his Counterpunch article, today, we are, everywhere, propagandized into “unpeople” by our leaders and a compliant media.

“We?” you might say. “Not us. We’re Americans. We’re too exceptional.”

Are you sure? Read through some of the twenty or so pages of articles at Police State, USA or similar sites on the internet. Or just read your daily newspaper without the jaundiced eye.

Right now, it’s the poor or homeless, the mentally ill, the handicapped, the elderly poor, minority poor, petty criminal or juvenile offender who – even though crime rates overall are down – are everywhere unpeopled in the Empire as police become more militarized and everyone who has never really been one of “us” becomes a suspect.

And have you noticed how as the Empire declines, it becomes more paranoid here at home? Everyone becomes a potential enemy, everyone becomes a possible terrorist to be spied on in our communications, or groped or detained or put on lists as we go from place to place to carry out our business.

We are even encouraged to see each other as enemies – Democrats when Republicans are in power; Republicans when Democrats control the government; Muslim- Jewish- Christian- Atheist-American, teacher, student, pastor, penitent, gay, straight, black, white, brown – anyone who might not resemble “us” in some manner, great or small.

Look a little closer, because even people we once thought were members of “us” have now been declared traitors and unpeopled –Manning, Snowden, Swartz among an increasing number who have sacrificed to bring us the unvarnished truth. Now, even a few main stream reporters like Risen have made the list of unpeople. We are all slowly being unpeopled to each other by an Empire terrified of its own citizens.

This is what almost always happens when empires fall. Those countries who threaten the Empire in some way, who decline to bend to its will in some manner, are declared enemies and unpeopled first.

Next, those who have allied with the empire, but disagree with or resist some policy that is untenable or damaging to them are unpeopled – perhaps temporarily, but more permanently the longer they are seen to threaten the “national interests” of empire as the decline accelerates.

Finally, the empire begins to devour itself from within – the poor and vulnerable are first, then the middle class and petty bureaucrats, followed by the wealthy, the political class, the military and the ruling class until at last the sheer weight of unpeople within and without bring it and its civilization to a bloody end.

Each day that we believe the propaganda, each day we choose to fear, each day we unpeople another group of our fellow human beings, we bring that fate closer.

We become the unpeople and that which we feared will have come upon us.

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The Faces of War

July 5, 2014

Yesterday was Independence Day here in the United States – the day we celebrate our Declaration of Independence from England, 238 years ago. I didn’t celebrate it; I haven’t celebrated it for years; I can’t imagine that I will ever celebrate it again in my lifetime.

The nation born from that declaration and the subsequent war of independence died long ago in the hubris of bloody empire and (whatever else we may tell ourselves) its corporate resource wars.

Whether they are fought by direct military intervention, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, or by proxy, such as in Libya, Syria and, currently, Ukraine, the outcome is always the same – shattered lives, shattered countries and a mad rush by our corporations and the elite of Empire to grab the resources and protect the profits.  

I used to believe that we, the people could change all that; I no longer do. The Empire is dying and, in its death throes, is becoming as dangerous to us as it has been to the rest of the world. It doesn’t matter whether we are Democrats or Republicans, Tea Party, Libertarian, Green or Independent. We are increasingly spied upon, ignored by our “representatives”, and every movement toward an alternative put down as soon as it is perceived as a threat to Empire. Our domestic police have been, everywhere, militarized by our own government and neighbor turned against neighbor to keep us fractured and fearful.

For the most part, we are sheltered from the consequences of those wars, (unless you are among the unlucky who have died, been wounded or lost loved ones among our own casualties in the Empire’s wars.) Our own dead and wounded are touted as heroes, fighting to protect our freedom and democracy, while the others are denigrated as enemies who hate us for our freedoms, their dead civilians dismissed as mere collateral damage. We are urged to fulfill our patriotic duty, not by sacrifice but by buying an endless supply of trinkets – made, of course, by the spoils of those wars – even if we have to go in debt up to our eyeballs and shop until we drop. We are rarely allowed to see the real face of war; that would be too discomforting.

But I want to discomfort you. That’s why I’ve scattered their pictures throughout this blog post, so you’ll have a harder time ignoring them. It doesn’t matter which war they’re from, whether it’s our soldiers or their civilians, the faces are all the same. The dead are all the same. The horror, the pain, the anger, the war weariness, It’s All The Same.

The Empire is fighting a proxy war in Ukraine; we have begun to re-engage in Iraq (where no one I know thinks that we will stop with “advisors” or embassy protection because their oil is too important to the Empire). At some point in these grabs for diminishing resources, theEmpire will over reach.                  

Whether we attack the wrong country, the rest of the world gets tired of suffering the effects of our resource grabs and WW III begins, the imperial government has to maintain control at home, or a crazed “patriot” militia makes their own power grab and starts another civil war here. As the Empire declines, the blow-back will come home.

Look carefully at these faces because, sooner or later, the faces of war will be our faces.

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June 28, 2014   images

“Round and round she goes and where she stops, nobody knows”.

This has been a good week in my little corner of the world. Goldilocks weather – not too hot, certainly not too cold – meant I still have not had to use my little air conditioner. Mostly sunny days with periods of clouds and occasional rain meant I haven’t had to water the garden except to add some fertilizer. The man who mows the lawn has mowed and he and his son, who works with him when he’s not in college, have cleared the fence of all the tree sprouts and small trees that I could no longer handle, giving me at least a chance of keeping things tidy along the fence from here on. I did buy a new pair of hedge clippers and a branch pruner to do just that.

The cool nights mean I can get out in the yard and garden, to get done what I need to do before the day heats up or it rains and still have my afternoons free to putter around the house.

The tomatoes and squash are beginning to bloom; the potatoes are growing in their straw mounds, and the garden is finally beginning to take on the shapes and colors of a “real” summer garden.

The lower utility bills have allowed me to tuck away a few extra canned goods in the pantry and food in the freezer, with enough after the monthly bills are paid to get some of the repairs done and still have a little left over. And all of this seems to have conspired to keep me in good health.

I am fortunate. Unlike billions of people in this world, I have everything I need.

That said, I realize, to a certain extent, this is subject to the whims of nature and man. I’d love to think I’m in control of all this, that it’s all due to my great life skills or above-average intelligence or hard work. But it’s not. I have those things plus a loving family and dear friends, but mostly I have and have had a goodly amount of blind, dumb luck. And I know it.

Tomorrow, all that could change. I could die, my health could fail, my house could burn down or a tornado could hit it, we could have a drought or flood, the Empire  could miscalculate, pick a fight with the wrong country and we could be the country getting bombed, the economy could fail, food and energy prices could eat up my small income or the government could give it away to Wall Street.  No matter how well we plan, how smart we are, or how hard we work, we are guaranteed nothing.

Today, I am alive and healthy and content. I may have to start over again, tomorrow.  But today, I am fortunate.  Today, I have enough.

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Who’s on First?

June 21, 2014  

Okay, let me see if I can get this straight. The Saudis (our Sunni friends) trained ISIS (their Sunni terrorists) to fight in Syria (their Shia enemies) and we supported them because they were the “good” terrorists (therefore, friends of our friends) until they went rampaging through Iraq and threatened the (Shia) government (therefore, the Saudi’s enemy, and, if not our friend, at least originally our hand-picked puppets) and to protect that now re-elected Shia government in Iraq, but only if they play nicer with the Sunni and Kurd populations (not sure if they’re our friends, or just not our enemies, yet,) we’re thinking of working with the Shia Iranians (the Shia enemies of our Sunni friends, the Saudis,) who are friends of the Shia Iraqi government (and, therefore, are our enemies, but might become our friends if they cross their eyes and hold their tongues just right) but are enemies of  Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who don’t seem to want to be friends with anyone (except the neo-Nazis in Ukraine – enemies of our enemies, the Russians) and who want to send in the troops – again – and basically bomb, bomb, bomb the crap out of everybody …

So, who’s on First?

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Crazy Terrorist Rabbits

June 14, 2014   220px-Wild_rabbit_us

It’s a lovely day here in southwest Missouri, sunny and seventy-one degrees as I write the blog post although the wind gusts are rather strong, as the creaks and groans of my old house will attest.

Up until yesterday, we’d had only two days without rain in the previous couple of weeks. So, it was with great gusto I weed-whacked the grass around the perimeters of the garden, began the task of taming the shrubs around the house (to be continued after the next two days of more rain,) and ran barefoot through the wet grass like a wild woman on the evening before last, throwing whatever I could find at the rabbits that had been scarfing up my vegetable transplants as fast as I put them in the ground.

Happily, any neighbors who care about such things already know I’m a little off my noodle (in a completely harmless way). Sadly, my lunatic behavior didn’t discourage the rabbits’ return last night, although they did appear to be leaving the veggies alone and dining on grass and weeds – which are now plentiful, thanks to the rain.

You win some; you lose some.

Speaking of winning some, losing some and lunatic behavior, the Empire – for all its running through the backyards of the world, chasing “terrorist” rabbits – seems to be having about as much luck as I did in my own backyard, (though the Empire is not nearly so harmless as I am).

One by one, all the places we’ve been mucking about in, lately – Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and, now, Iraq – are going (as my doomer friend, Simba, likes to say) “fucko-bazzoo” while senile, old Senators yell, “Bomb ‘em, bomb ‘em,” and pompous newscasters intone about all the “blood and treasure” we invested.

Damn those “crazy terrorist rabbits.” How could they treat us that way?

Listen up, folks. They have no more reason to give a crap about the blood and treasure the Empire has wasted over the last sixty years trying to bring them carnivorous capitalism and plutocracy at the end of a gun than we gave a crap about the blood and treasure they spent trying to defend themselves against our and our lackey allies’ plunderings.

We are not the indispensable nation; we are not the shining city on the hill. We are a gluttonous, failing Empire that devours its young and theirs while plundering the very earth that sustains all of us in order to protect its privileged elite and keep the rest of us pacified with ever more trinkets.

Those “crazy terrorist rabbits” don’t hate us for our freedoms. They hate the Empire for its hypocrisy, for its hubris. Most of all, they hate it for its constant meddling in the affairs of other countries for its benefit and their detriment.

The Empire has built a Garden of Eden for our elites from that plundering, with the illusion that any one of us can join them if we just work hard enough. But the illusion is wavering; the garden is becoming overgrown with weeds.

The petro dollar, the globalized financial market and the mountain of debt we have run up to build that illusory garden are beginning to fail. The resources needed to maintain it are peaking and diminishing. And the very air and earth that we need to sustain it are collapsing under the weight of our waste.

The bountiful garden we all could have enjoyed, if we had been willing to share it equitably with the rest of the world, is crumbling under our feet. Other countries have allied themselves with us or copied our ways, but more than any other nation, we have led the way to this current massive destruction. And I don’t see any real hope that it will change its ways until  forced to.

So, who is the crazy terrorist rabbit, now?

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Down the Memory Hole

June 7, 2014   ww2pic6

About 14 million American and allied soldiers (including all military services) died in WW II. Of those, about a half million were Americans. Surprisingly, (to me, at least) three to four million were Chinese and over eight million were from the old Soviet Union, especially Russia.

I certainly don’t want to take away from the courage and commitment of the men whose storming of the beaches at Normandy we remembered this week – especially those who lost their lives there. But, all this week, I’ve heard how we stormed the beaches of Normandy and won the war, as if none of the sacrifices that went on before counted. Over eight million soldiers in Russia and the Soviet Union died repulsing the German push to the east; the battle of Stalingrad destroyed the best of the German Wehrmacht. Over three million Chinese soldiers died in fighting Japan’s expansion across Asia, without which we might not have survived the war  long enough to drop the atomic bombs on Japan.

But Germany and Japan are now Imperial allies, while Russia and China are on the Empire’s shit list, having apparently rebuffed our demands that we be allowed to spread “freedom and democracy” via NATO troops  missile batteries and military bases right up to their doorsteps.

We accuse China of the very same kind of spying on our corporations that our government and corporations do on China, even indicting five of their military (though, unless we are so stupid as to try and kidnap them, they will never be handed over to us for prosecution). And we have surrounded them with military bases and created the same type of imaginary monsters out of China that we have made of Russia, for the same reasons – money, oil and power.

In designating ourselves as the exceptional and indispensable nation, a shining city on a hill, chosen by God to go forth and maintain order (our version, anyway) globally, we are in danger of believing our own propaganda. We have not had a clear cut victory in any of the wars we’ve fought since “we” won WW II. Now, there are those in our military and government who have convinced themselves we can win a nuclear war with Russia and China if necessary. (Though they haven’t seemed to consider what would remain of the world they so want to rule, by “winning” such a war.)

It is never wise to base your policies on your own propaganda. The peaking of conventional oil has come and gone, the peaking of unconventional sources is just ahead, climate change is accelerating and so are its costs and, despite the illusions of a soaring stock market – pumped up by QE3 – our economy and financial structure is no more sound than it was in 2008. We are not in any shape to fight a war – economic, conventional or nuclear – with Russia and China.

And if history teaches us anything, it is that alliances shift, Empires fall and complex systems can grow or fail in ways both unexpected and non-linear. We are fools if we let these lessons of history slip down the memory hole.

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