This piece was written for Truthout.org.
I. Echoes From the Past and Future
The images look familiar, even comforting in a way, steeped in the heroic black-and-white tints of classic movies and World War II newsreels. Unshaven, wisecracking G.I.s slogging gamely through urb an combat. Tanks crawling over broken walls, past burned-out buildings. Quick cut to the skies: lumbering bombers releasing their payloads over sprawling cities, while fighters dart in and out around them and black clouds of ack-ack explode with sudden menace. A brief sweep of the enemy dead, frozen in their final agonies across a churned-up field. Then a long line of refugees, plodding along the edge of a highway while American troop trucks, jeeps, and half-tracks roar past them in the opposite direction.
But there's something slightly wrong, something askew in the pictures. The shop signs in that ruined city â€“ they're all in English. The road signs in that shot of the highway are in Spanish. And those refugees aren't white German burghers or French villagers; they'reâ€¦brown, like Mexicans, maybe. And look, the fighters swooping in to strafe our bombers â€“ they've got maple leafs painted on their fuselages. And there, amongst the enemy dead, a corpse still clutching his battalion's flag: a Union Jack.
This is the kind of cognitive dissonance evoked by a new screenplay from renowned director Alex Cox: "Our War Against Canada." The British-born Cox â€“ long resident in the United States â€“ is planning a three-part, 90-minute documentary on the all-too-true story of serious American plans to wage war against Canada, Mexico and Great Britain in the years before World War II. These detailed schemes are filled with "echoes from the future," in Pasternak's apt phrase: eerie prefigurements and deep-rooted patterns that have been played out â€“ in reality, not just on paper â€“ over and over down through the decades, and now confront us once again, most starkly and horribly, in Iraq. Add a comment
Ecuador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal is still counting the votes in the November 26 presidential runoff election but the results seem clear - with one-half of them tallied so far they show: the peoples' candidate, Rafael Correa, 68% and the bible-toting billionaire banana tycoon oligarch who's also the richest man in the country, Alvaro Noboa, - 32% - results consistent with two exit polls and an unofficial citizens election watchdog group, but without the completion of the suspended vote count in the Guayas province that's a Noboa stronghold that when done should raise his percent of the total but nowhere near enough to close the current electoral gap against him.
The people have spoken, and the Washington-directed election-riggers failed for the second time this month to arrange for their man to steal what the people of Ecuador voted en masse to deny them - the same way it turned out on November 7 when Nicaraguans reelected Daniel Ortega despite strong opposition to his candidacy from Washington. Again the people won, and it's a good omen for Hugo Chavez six days before Venezuelans vote on Sunday hoping to prove what the latest independent polls show - that he should win reelection impressively and get to serve another six year term as the country's president.
Ecuadorans voted for populist economist and self-styled "humanist, leftist Christian" candidate Rafael Correa who promised big changes in another Latin American country ruled up to now by and for the interests of capital and against the public welfare. Washington's choice was Alvaro Noboa who as of last night hadn't yet conceded but may have by now as Correa's lead is too great for him to overcome, barring any yet to be uncovered mass vote fraud undiscovered so far but that can't be ruled out.
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My wife and I moved into a new apartment earlier this year. Just a few blocks from our old place, it's been a major quality of life improvement in almost every possible way. One unexpected adjustment, however, was closet space. This moderately sized one-bedroom apartment has only two narrow closets. (You couldn't fit a scandalous skeleton in them if you tried.) Keeping in mind that the building is more than 78 years old, how might we explain this egregious "oversight"?
a) The architects were idiots
b) The architects callously cut corners
c) Americans had far less "stuff" in 1928
d) All of the above
Accepting as a given that all humans are idiots that callously cut corners, the can't-miss answer is, of course, D. However, in this particular case, I believe C is far more accurate. In fact, I'll bet the original tenants here considered themselves mighty lucky to even have two closets. They may have believed that whatever didn't fit inside was superfluous. Imagine that: A two-closet existence.
Long before shopping became hard-wired into human biology, Voltaire said,
"When it's a question of money, everybody is of the same religion."Add a comment
[Remarks to the first in a series of â€œLast Sundayâ€ community gatherings in Austin, TX, November 26, 2006.]
We billed Last Sunday as a place for people to come together to explore the intersections of the political, artistic, and spiritual. The idea came out of conversations among friends: Eliza Gilkyson, a singer/songwriter with interests in politics and spirituality; Jim Rigby, a minister who has a knack for stirring up trouble, theologically and politically; and me, a professor involved in a variety of political groups.
There are lots of organizations and movements taking up issues that we care about. Last Sunday was designed not to compete with those, but to create a different kind of space, where people could bring all aspects of themselves for conversation and connection. The name plays off the â€œFirst Thursdayâ€ tradition on South Congress Avenue, with perhaps an invocation of the Last Supper for some, though I want to be clear that none of us has any messianic inclinations.
We hope people will not only listen to what comes from the stage, but connect with friends and allies in the hall. We hope that existing progressive projects will be strengthened and that new ideas will emerge from those conversations.
So, thereâ€™s no hidden agenda tonight. Weâ€™re not recruiting or selling anything. Like so many, weâ€™re just hungry for that conversation, that connection, that sense of community.
Okay, but what is Last Sunday really about?
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â€œPeople do not forget. They do not forget the death of their fellows, they do not forget torture and mutilation, they do not forget injustice, they do not forget oppression, they do not forget the terrorism of mighty powers. They not only donâ€™t forget; they also strike back.â€
Harold Pinter, Nobel Laureate
The central tenet of American foreign policy hasnâ€™t changed since the early 1980s when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger summarized our involvement in the Iraq-Iraq War saying, â€œI hope they kill each other.â€ Kissingerâ€™s dictum reveals the basic racial and religious odium which animates the current policy and has become the organizing principle for maintaining the global empire.
Now that the Muslim world has been systematically ravaged from the southern-most part Gaza to the northern tip of Afghanistan, we can see that the application of the Kissinger Doctrine is an effective method for decimating societies where coveted resources are located.
By all accounts, itâ€™s been a huge success.
The policy seems to be working best in Iraq, where provocative counterinsurgency operations have incited a massive sectarian war. The conflict produces an ever-increasing number of civilian casualties many of whom have been killed by other Iraqis. No doubt Kissinger is gratified that his theory is working out so splendidly.
The western media portrays the disaster in Iraq as the natural upshot of years of repression under the former dictator, Saddam Hussein. But, Saddam had nothing to do with the violence which is ripping Baghdad apart. Thatâ€™s just a way of pacifying the American public so they can go on their Christmas buying-spree without pangs of remorse. In fact Saddam is no different than Americaâ€™s other tyrant-friends in Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. He simply stood in the way of Big Oilâ€™s dream of direct control of Iraqâ€™s resources and created a likely rival for â€œgood friendâ€ Israel.
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Last week, I had one of those clarifying moments when the enormity of the American fiasco stirred my livers and lights again. I was riding in a car at sundown between St. Cloud and Minneapolis on I-94 through a fifty-mile-plus corridor of bargain shopping infrastructure on each side of the highway. The largest automobile dealerships I have ever seen lay across the edge of the prairie like so many UFO landing strips, with eerie forests of sodium-vapor lamps shining down on the inventory. The brightly colored signs of the national chain fried food parlors vied for supremacy of the horizon with the big box logos. The opposite lane was a blinding river of light as the cars plied north from the Twin Cities to these distant suburbs in the pre-Thanksgiving rush hour.
All that tragic stuff deployed out on the prairie was but the visible part of the storm now being perfected for us. On the radio, Iraq was coming completely apart and with it the illusion of America being able to control a larger set of global events -- with dire implications for all glowing plastic crap along the interstates, and the real-live people behind the headlights in those rivers of cars.
The main fresh impression I had amidst all this is how over it is. The glowing smear of auto-oriented commerce along I-94 (visible from space, no doubt) had the look of being finished twenty minutes ago. Beyond the glowing logos lay the brand new residential subdivisions full of houses that now may never be sold, put up by a home-building industry in such awful trouble that it may soon cease to exist. If suburbia was the Great Work of the American ethos, then our work is done. We perfected it, we completed it, and, like a brand new car five minutes after delivery, it has already lost much of its value. Add a comment
Women, kids, old, sick most at risk in Iraq, says Reuters. To which we say: Ho-hum. Old news. We've killed hundreds of thousands of these weaklings already, been killing them for years, with sanctions, bombs, snipers, chaos, deprivation, whatever. Who cares? You know what's really important? If Jim Baker can "seal his legacy in the realm of statesmen" by spraying enough perfume on the shitheap that Junior Bush has made of Iraq so that the high and mighty of the American Establishment can slither out of the mire without smelling too bad.
That's what it's all about, baby, that's the kind of thing that counts. How a lifelong, bloodstained bagman can become a "second Disraeli." How Hillary and Obama can nuance their positions to squeeze maximum political mileage out of the American-made mass slaughter in Iraq. How many he-man poses John McCain can strike on his knees as he grovels to the slavering extremists he thinks will make him president.
That's where the focus of our political discourse will be from here on
out. (With frequent side dishes of stern condemnation of the worthless
Iraqis for "failing" us, of course.) This time next year â€“ when U.S.
forces have either high-tailed it "over the horizon" into Kuwait or
else are hunkered down in the (supposedly) permanent bases from which
the Bush-Cheney faction have always intended to plunder the spoils of
the hydra-headed war they've engendered â€“ the chattering classes that
control the public debate will still be chewing the clot-smeared rags
of the Beltway power game.
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These are the days of large, desperate measures. This is the era of dictators, threats and wars. Unmodified by reasoned debate, lacking the rule of law, this is the age of the mob and demagogue.
Once respected for its freedom, justice and economic opportunity, the United States of America today is reviled for being a police state at home and a perpetrator of illegal wars of abroad.
Americaâ€™s bright beacon of liberty has been extinguished by the arrogance of neoconservativism. Loathed by a world grown fearful of its motives and actions, America is a shadow of its former self.
How did this happen? Where did we go wrong?
In a Soma-like six years, Americans have allowed men of dubious integrity to transform the U.S. into the very sort of bellicose monarchy above which this country originally was established to rise.
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by Paul William Roberts
"... and therefore the Egyptian law pressed this affair well, 'Let all that break their word and oaths die for it; because they are loaden with a double iniquity,... they destroy piety and reverence towards God, and faith amongst men, which is the greatest ligature of society.' And if princes do falsify their word and lie, their neighbours can have no entercourse with them but by violence and war, and their subjects none but fear and chance. For princes to lie is the greatest undecency in the world: and therefore Diodorus Siculus tells that the Egyptian princes used to wear a golden chain mixed and distinguished with curious stones, and they call it Truth; meaning that nothing was a greater ornament to a prince, nothing ought to be more sacred, or more remembered."
â€” Jeremy Taylor
All three levels of Canadian government â€“ federal, provincial, and local â€“ proved themselves on Thursday November 23 to be devoid of all substance, deceitful to the electorate and fascistic at heart, unshakably convinced that the cure for what ails society lies with the power of the state to punish those accused of crimes. Standing shoulder to shoulder, the Conservative Prime Minister, along with the Liberal Premier of Ontario and the newly re-elected and allegedly â€˜Leftistâ€™ Mayor of Toronto, shamelessly announced new legislation that will, if it is passed, effectively destroy the presumption of innocence that is a key part of the very foundation upon which the English legal system rests.
As history demonstrates repeatedly, throughout the 2500 years during which we have bothered to record it with any continuity, the public that is sufficiently frightened will grant its rulers unlimited powers in the interests of its own safety, but when these powers are abused assiduously by the state possessing them â€” and they always are â€” it is too late to regret conferring them without falling foul of the same legislation.
I have lived in Canada for the last twenty years solely because I felt it was the best place on earth to be that also had a language I spoke. I came to realize, furthermore, that Canadians in general actually were the decent, fair-minded and peaceable people they thought they were, and indeed, with their intensely multicultural cities, might one day be viewed as a prototype for global citizenry.
This may yet prove to be the case, but the evidence for it has been increasingly less convincing recently, and yesterdayâ€™s convocation of traitors to the cause of liberal democracy showed with painful clarity that Canadians need to wake up to the neo-conservative cancer that has been diligently working away for several months now at strangling the arteries feeding their countryâ€™s political and social freedoms. Add a comment
This week on GR, What on earth are you eating? National Coordinator for the Canadian office of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, Bill Jeffery on food labelling legislation. And; Canadian Action Party leader Connie Fogal and the impending death of Canada. And; Janine Bandcroft bringing us up to speed on some of the good things to get up to in and around Victoria this week.
Gorilla Radio for Monday November 27, 2006
C. L. Cook
November 27, 2006
If we are what we eat, then most Canadians have no idea of just what consistutes their...constitutions. Canada is experiencing a health crisis. Diabetes rates are skyrocketting for both types I and II; heart disease, and the myriad health complications associated with obesity are making ill and killing thousands of citizens every year, and yet the country is getting fatter by the day. And the forecast for future generations doesn't look good if current trends continue.
But how to address the issue?
Bill Jeffery is the National Coordinator for the Canadian office of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit health advocacy organization specializing in nutrition and food safety issues in Canada and the United States. The centre is a supporter of MP Tom Wappel's proposed Bill C-283, an act to amend food labelling laws in this country.
Bill Jeffery in the first half.
Connie Fogal is the leader of the Canadian Action Party, and constitutional law lawyer, who says â€œunder agreements entered under the Liberal regime post 9/11 including the Smart Border Plan and the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement, Canada is now but a step away from surrendering national sovereignty and being subsumed into a so-called North American Union.Connie Fogal and the death of a nation in the second half.
And Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with all that's good to do in and around Victoria this week. But first, Bill Jeffery and getting the goods on the food we eat.
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So, the Democrats won, Rummy quit, why am I not jumping for joy and getting out here in cyberspace with more rah, rah postings? Perhaps a psychological impediment has grabbed hold; or could it just be plain old skepticism? But then again, it may just be a case of the blahs, caused by the daily bombardment of â€œstuff.â€
Iâ€™m generally â€œthe glass is half fullâ€ kind of person, and meditate on a semi-regular basis, which tends to help through most down episodes. But, sometimes you want to just chuck it all and scream, â€œstop the world, I want to get off.â€ Read a piece recently on AlterNet titled â€œThe Clownification of Americaâ€ by Stephen Pizzo. He wrapped an article around that particular quote by James Howard Kunstler. It summed up for me-in a small way- just why I am feeling a bit of disquiet right now.
Weâ€™ve been American Idolized damn near to the point of no return. It is, after all, Orwell personified; up to and including the ubiquitous electronic eyes and ears of Big Brother surrounding us completely.
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â€œFor Sale.â€ The Classified Advertisement Column.
Isnâ€™t it a sorrowful day reading the front page news? Itâ€™s also filled with absurdity for me to have decided to put-up my farm truck For Sale. About the best occupation, IMHO, is to be in the organic farm business. To be out of harmony with multi-millions of people I canâ€™t manage to live without, (we all need to eat) joins me to them in fate and destiny to offer up for sale, my used 1948 Studebaker farm truck. Or, and I question, if trying to sell something, in a worse sense a potential vanity symbol, offering it to my fellow human kin, something, I am not supposed to get? What is the monetary worth of a running farm truck soul? Iâ€™m the worst one alive to give others financial advice. The answer is beyond my ken.
Money is not important. When we have been robbed and become broke money is very important. People have declined offers to sell the soul and have witnessed a Black Friday procession of crowsâ€™ line up to haul-off loads of material objects post-thanksgiving which will just possess and benumb them. To ask, â€œHow to keepâ€ things which can imperceptibly ruin â€˜usâ€™ is like buying worry-wrinkles for our forehead. Taking advice from me about financial investments and â€œhow to keepâ€ things is to try to learn if maybe I can sell my version of a status SUV. Who wants to gain status? A progress in life when we were born was learning to place foot in front of foot. We learned how to walk. Yet come what may, â€˜we peopleâ€™ all march along to finish lifeâ€™s journey some way or another. In other words, as we grow with age, itâ€™s best not to horde corn in our barn that may mildew.
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