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Member since: Tue Feb 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
Number of posts: 3,056

About Me

Long time reader on DU and liberal/progressive. Up until recently I have not posted a lot. But I am very concerned about the situation in Ukraine and the people there. Liberals need to understand what is really happening, because Ukrainians are in a very dangerous situation and the geopolitical thing (US/Russia) is actually distracting from the realities that Ukrainians are facing on the ground there. So I have been posting a fair amount about that situation.

Journal Archives

It’s not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe

It’s not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street

Center-left pundits have carried water for the president for six years. Their predictable excuses all ring hollow
Thomas Frank


As the Obama administration enters its seventh year, let us examine one of the era’s greatest peculiarities: That one of the most cherished rallying points of the president’s supporters is the idea of the president’s powerlessness.

Today, of course, the Democrats have completely lost control of Congress and it’s easy to make the case for the weakness of the White House. For example, when Frank Bruni sighed last Wednesday that presidents are merely “buoys on the tides of history,” not “mighty frigates parting the waters,” he scarcely made a ripple.

But the pundit fixation on Obama’s powerlessness goes back many years. Where it has always found its strongest expression is among a satisfied stratum of centrist commentators—people who are well pleased with the president’s record and who are determined to slap down liberals who find fault in Obama’s leadership. The purveyors of this fascinating species of political disgust always depict the dispute in the same way, with hard-headed men of science (i.e., themselves) facing off against dizzy idealists who cluelessly rallied to Obama’s talk of hope and change back in 2008.

It is, in other words, a classic apologetic. The pundit, a clear-thinking, reality-based fellow (and yes, they are almost always fellows), knows that if you paid attention back in 2008 you understood that Obama wasn’t promising anything great. Plus, the president has delivered all kinds of subtle but awesome stuff that his soft-headed fans overlook. Besides, there are those awful racist Republicans. Good Christ! Would we rather have one of them in the Oval Office?


We created Islamic extremism: Those blaming Islam for ISIS would have supported Osama bin Laden

Excellent Piece. The historical pictures are worth a look alone! Reagan sitting with the Taliban. This period of history is remarkable (and tragic)

We created Islamic extremism: Those blaming Islam for ISIS would have supported Osama bin Laden in the ’80s

Jingoists conveniently forget the West's Cold War strategy was to arm the Islamic extremists that became al-Qaida
Ben Norton


Osama bin Laden, reported on favorably in the U.K.’s The Independent in 1993 (Credit: Imgur)


Gore Vidal famously referred to the USA as the United States of Amnesia. The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai put it a little more delicately, quipping, “One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.”

In order to understand the rise of militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida; in order to wrap our minds around their heinous, abominable attacks on civilians in the U.S., France, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan and many, many more countries, we must rekindle this historical memory.

Where did violent Islamic extremism come from? In the wake of the horrific Paris attacks on Friday, November the 13, this is the question no one is asking — yet it is the most important one of all. If one doesn’t know why a problem emerged, if one cannot find its root, one will never be able to solve and uproot it.

Where did militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida come from? The answer is not as complicated as many make it out to be — but, to understand, we must delve into the history of the Cold War, the historical period lied about in the West perhaps more than any other.

How the West cultivated Osama bin Laden

Continued: http://www.salon.com/2015/11/17/we_created_islamic_extremism_those_blaming_islam_for_isis_would_have_supported_osama_bin_laden_in_the_80s/

We needn’t reach back far into history, just a few decades.

(Credit: U.S. government)

Learning How Not to Rule the World

Learning How Not to Rule the World
John Grant


(Al Qaeda’s) strategic objective has always been … the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.
– John Gray, Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern

Al Zarqawi … is an example of how the west has created bogeymen. Al Zarqawi is also an example of how the bogeymen have a habit of, eventually, fulfilling the role we give them.
– Jason Burke on the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq and, by extension after his death, ISIS

I know it’s not patriotic, but every time I hear some politico talk of bombing Iraq and Syria in response to the gruesome massacre in Paris I think of The Battle Of Algiers and the scene where a leader of the guerrilla movement is captured by the French military. A French reporter asks the man how he can justify the gruesome carnage from explosions in cafes and bars. “We’ll be glad to exchange our satchel charges for your jet bombers,” he says.

Always angling to be the farthest right of his fellow Republicans, candidate Ted Cruz honed in on the moral issue from Dick Cheney’s dark side. Cruz questioned whether a concern for civilian deaths was fitting when it came to the need to bomb ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Jeb! said we should only protect Christian refugees. Trump hollered to his fans, “We need to bomb the shit out of ISIS!” Rubio decried not having thorough dossiers on the refugees. The brilliant surgeon smiled beatifically. Pressed by the reactionary right of Marine Le Pen’s National Front, French President Hollande publicly declared war (whatever that meant in 2015) and increased the number of bombing raids on targets inside Syria provided by US intelligence. Reports suggested there were significant civilian casualties. Anti-Assad activists pleaded on Twitter for the French and other western forces to restrain their bombing, since, as Cruz understood, western bombs kill lots of people victimized by ISIS. Being caught in the crossfire between ISIS and the bomb-crazy West helps drive refugees to flee to Turkey and Europe. Sympathy for these refugees is evaporating rapidly, since fear-mongering demagogues are stigmatizing them as potential terrorists. Twenty US governors have said, “Not in my backyard. Send them back to where they came from.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews got worked up into a lather and wanted all the able-bodied refugee males to return to Syria as a fighting force. Not a bully Teddy Roosevelt type, the Peace Corps veteran didn’t volunteer to lead it.


Dark Humor: Western Media Makes Light of Political Repression in Ukraine

Dark Humor: Western Media Makes Light of Political Repression in Ukraine

by Eric Draitser

Political repression and violence are allegedly incompatible with Western liberal democratic values. Respect for human rights, freedom of expression, and protection of the rights of minorities are all purportedly the hallmarks of “free societies,” the goals toward which all nations should be striving. And yet, such standards of freedom and democracy are only selectively applied, and only when beneficial to the Western (US-UK-EU-NATO) agenda.

Western media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are quick to highlight abuses, both real and imagined, in countries where it is politically useful to do so, such as in North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Russia, and China. However, when it comes to the US-EU project in Ukraine, magically the liberal democratic values and human rights are no longer of central importance. Indeed, were one to read the Western media coverage of Ukraine, not only is political repression and violence not concerning, it’s downright funny.

The Real Story

An article published in the exalted liberal pages of Britain’s The Guardian ran with the headline The force awakens (in Ukraine): Darth Vader statue replaces Lenin monument (23 October 2015). The story highlighted the transformation of a statue of Lenin in the city of Odessa, into the Star Wars villain Darth Vader by Ukrainian artist Alexander Milov. The lighthearted tone of the piece, with tongue-in-cheek references to “the Force” (a Star Wars plot point) of the WiFi being radiated from the statue’s head belies the seriousness of the issue – the intimidation and violent repression of political forces in the ‘New Ukraine’ – which the author conveniently downplays.

The story makes only passing mention of the “decommunization laws” – conspicuously referenced in parentheses with a hyperlink, as if they were an afterthought – under which this statue has now legally been defaced and destroyed. In fact, the “controversial decommunization laws” were not merely an attempt to erase the symbols of Soviet history, but part of a broader process of political repression that has included violence, kidnappings, and death. In fact, the appropriation of the Lenin statue is merely an outgrowth of the repeated attacks upon the Communist Party and its grassroots organizers all throughout Ukraine, as the pro-fascist government and police systematically attacked, and ultimately dissolved the entire Party which had been traditionally one of the most popular in the country.

In a grossly dishonest bit of writing, the author of the article noted that, “Darth Lenin is in a factory in the Black Sea port city, which has been the location of clashes between separatist and pro-Ukraine forces, and recently saw pro-western former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili installed as governor of the region.” Note the twin distortions embedded in the excerpt.



Embracing The Dark Side: A Short History Of The Pathological Neocon Quest For Empire

An (somewhat) entertaining history of the Neocon Warmongers:

Embracing The Dark Side: A Short History Of The Pathological Neocon Quest For Empire

When Bill Kristol watches Star Wars movies, he roots for the Galactic Empire. The leading neocon recently caused a social media disturbance in the Force when he tweeted this predilection for the Dark Side following the debut of the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Kristol sees the Empire as basically a galaxy-wide extrapolation of what he has long wanted the US to have over the Earth: what he has termed “benevolent global hegemony.

Kristol, founder and editor of neocon flagship magazine The Weekly Standard,responded to scandalized critics by linking to a 2002 essay from the Standard’s blog that justifies even the worst of Darth Vader’s atrocities. In “The Case for the Empire,” Jonathan V. Last made a Kristolian argument that you can’t make a “benevolent hegemony” omelet without breaking a few eggs.

And what if those broken eggs are civilians, like Luke Skywalker’s uncle and aunt who were gunned down by Imperial Stormtroopers in their home on the Middle Eastern-looking arid planet of Tatooine (filmed on location in Tunisia)? Well, as Last sincerely argued, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru hid Luke and harbored the fugitive droids R2D2 and C3P0; so they were “traitors” who were aiding the rebellion and deserved to be field-executed.

A year after Kristol published Last’s essay, large numbers of civilians were killed by American Imperial Stormtroopers in their actual Middle Eastern arid homeland of Iraq, thanks largely in part to the direct influence of neocons like Kristol and Last.

That war was similarly justified in part by the false allegation that Iraq ruler Saddam Hussein was harboring and aiding terrorist enemies of the empire like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The civilian-slaughtering siege of Fallujah, one of the most brutal episodes of the war, was also specifically justified by the false allegation that the town was harboring Zarqawi.

Much more at: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-28/embracing-dark-side-short-history-pathological-neocon-quest-empire

NYT Hypes Russian Threat to the Internet

NYT Hypes Russian Threat to the Internet

by Ben Schreiner

As if Americans didn’t already have enough to worry about in regards to the recently resurrected Red Menace, we can now add the fear that those devious Russians are threatening to–horror of horrors–bring down the Internet.

As the New York Times‘ David Sanger and Eric Schmitt report, “Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of conflict.”

As Navy spokesman Cmdr. William Marks adds, “It would be a concern to hear any country was tampering with communication cables.”Indeed. Well, unless those tampering with international communication cables happen to be working on behalf of the “good guys” in the National Security Agency, or their equally good partners in Britain’s GCHQ. In that case, don’t consider it “tampering,” but rather something more akin to protecting the homeland from 21st century threats.

Of course whenever official Washington warns of a looming foreign cyber threat (China and Iran being the other favorite punching bags of the Times in this regard), it’s worth remembering that it was in fact the U.S., in partnership with Israel, that was the first state to actually launch a major offensive cyber attack on a sovereign nation. The attack being the Stuxnet virus set loose back in 2009 on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. Such aggression was codified earlier this year when the Pentagon formally unveiled a cyber warfare doctrine sanctioning the use of preemptive strikes. But down the memory hole, it appears, with all that.

And so with all that out of mind, it’s back to Russia’s rising “aggression.” At least as the paper of record would have it.


It is unfortunate that the NYT, which used to be a good paper, has been allowing itself to be a tool for the MIC in forwarding less than truthful "Narratives". The MIC needs to keep the fear up so out come stories like this which have no real substance, but do a good job working up some of the public. Thus more money for the MIC.

SALON: The NYT’s journalistic obedience

SALON: We restarted the Cold War: The real story about the NATO buildup that the New York Times won’t tell you

Are We Really at War Against Islamic Extremism?

Are We Really at War Against Islamic Extremism?

by Thomas S. Harrington
October 16, 2015
Are We Really at War Against Islamic Extremism?

by Thomas S. Harrington

Either that, or she has bigger plans on her mind than actually curing you, like say, pumping up the profits at a cardiology practice where she is a silent partner.

I am reminded of this fictional doctor when I consider the actions undertaken in the Middle East by the US and its allies over the last 14 years.

We are told again and again, in both explicit and implicit ways, that we are locked in an existential struggle with Islamic extremists in that region and the rest of the world.

And who, in the Arab world have the US and its allies attacked during the same period? The answer here is Iraq (2003), Lebanon (2006), Libya (2011) and Syria (2011-present).

That’s right, we have systematically attacked those societies where women can walk around uncovered in public and drive cars, where you can have a beer or a glass of wine when you want, and where Christians and other non-Muslims have lived fairly freely for centuries, while at the same time giving virtually unlimited and unqualified diplomatic and military support to the country where almost none of these things are possible.

Imagine going to your doctor and being told that, based on an initial examination, you may very well have a serious and fast-moving form of cancer, and then being a handed a referral to see a heart specialist first thing the next morning.

I think you’d agree that a doctor acting in this way is either deeply incompetent or flat out crazy.

Complete article:

Know your NeoCons: The Kagans - A Family Business of Perpetual War

A Family Business of Perpetual War
March 20, 2015

Exclusive: Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan have a great mom-and-pop business going. From the State Department, she generates wars and – from op-ed pages – he demands Congress buy more weapons. There’s a pay-off, too, as grateful military contractors kick in money to think tanks where other Kagans work, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia – and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

Prominent neocon intellectual Robert Kagan. (Photo credit: Mariusz Kubik, http://www.mariuszkubik.pl)

Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.


Obama, Putin: Checkmate

October 1, 2015
Obama, Putin: Checkmate

(Story at counterpunch http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/01/obama-putin-checkmate/)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message at the UN General Assembly was stark; either sovereign states get together in a broad coalition against all forms of terror, and the principle of statehood is respected as enshrined in the UN charter – or there will be chaos.

This UN General Assembly revealed that the Obama administration’s perpetual newspeak does not cut it anymore. A review of UN speeches by both Putin and Obama is almost painful to watch. Putin acted like a serious global statesman. Obama acted like a poseur flunking a screen test.

Putin’s key talking points could not but be easily accessible to the Global South – his prime audience, much more than the industrialized West.

1) The export of color – or monochromatic – revolutions is doomed.

2) The alternative to the primacy of statehood is chaos. This implies that the Assad system in Syria may be immensely problematic, but it’s the only game in town. The alternative is ISIS/ISIL/Daesh barbarism. There’s no credible “moderate opposition” – as there was not in NATO-“liberated” Libya.

3) Only the UN – as flawed as it may be – is a guarantor of peace and security in our imperfect, realpolitik geopolitical environment.

Gotta slay those myths


Neoliberals With Chainsaws: Rampant Deforestation in Peru and the Future of the Amazon

Neoliberals With Chainsaws: Rampant Deforestation in Peru and the Future of the Amazon


Since the election of President Ollanta Humala in Peru in 2011 priority has been given to neoliberal policies, free trade agreements, integration into the Pacific market through the Pacific Alliance (with Mexico, Colombia and Chile), and the intent to increase exports in order to promote wealth in the country. It appears, if one takes a look at macroeconomic indicators, that the economic situation in Peru is going very well: the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased 25 percent since 2010 with a growth rate around 6 percent in the past 5 years, the country debt has decreased from 25 percent of the GDP to 20 percent, and inflation remains impressively low at about 3 percent.

While the economy is on the rise, Peru´s economic model is based on a certain abundance of natural resources. The main exports of Peru are primary products due to excessive mining and deforestation leading to many problems for local populations and Indigenous People. Gold represents around 20 percent of the country’s exports, copper ore around 18 percent, the refined petroleum nearly 7 percent while lead and refined copper account for 4.2 percent each, which means that more than half of Peruvian exports are based on extraction of resources. This economic model, based on primary resources, is now at its limits because of new global economic turmoil. The demand for commodities will decrease and competition will intensify among countries that export their resources with the decline for European markets and the difficulties of the Chinese to shift from an export-driven economy to one based on internal consumption. If this pessimistic forecast holds, decreasing commodity prices and increasing production due to competition will result in an environmental catastrophe.

Deforestation and economic development

Economic growth has been set as the most important goal of the Peruvian government under President Ollanta Humalla and is a priority that Peru wants to achieve at all costs. As stated by Mary Menton from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), an international center of investigation that conducts research on the use and management of forests in less-developed countries, “much of this growth is happening — and is likely to keep on happening — at the expense of the Peruvian Amazon.”

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