Just a note to say that the comment function on the blog will be shut down for the time being, while a few issues get ironed out. Apologies for any inconvenience.
A recent painting by American artist R.A. Zimmerman offers oblique but apt observations on the eternal bullshit of empire:
On Wednesday -- the day before Britain's unions launched the largest strike the country has seen in almost 90 years -- the UK's coalition government finally removed its mask of 'moderation' and showed its true, ravenous face. The government's economic honcho, George Osborne -- a young, smirking, smarmy upper class twit who makes George Bush look like Will Rogers -- announced yet another round of savage cuts that will batter and cripple the lives of the poor, the vulnerable, the young, the sick, and ordinary working people. It is all part of a relentless program of "austerity" that is ostensibly designed to "cut the deficit" but is actually a ruthless, draconian -- and very deliberate -- attempt to radically remake society for the benefit of the wealthy few. (And considering how elitist British society has always been, this is ideological extremism at it most fanatic and frothing.) But it's important to remember that this is not just a Conservative government. It is a full and formal coalition with the Liberal Democrats -- precisely the kind of "moderate centrists" and "serious, savvy progressives" so highly praised by the American commentariat. The LibDems are, in essence and practice, "Blue America": the goodhearted liberal folks who know "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and are willing "to work within the system," making the "tough choices" and sausage-grinding compromises necessary to mitigate the system's worst elements and maybe, just maybe, make things a...
Who are these comrades who died like the dry leaves?The radio tells me they are just deportees .....
Taking down the dribbling idiocies of Thomas Friedman is, of course, like shooting dead, bloated fish mired in utter, immovable stillness on the surface of a barrel full of thick, congealed liquid. Even so, as this gormless goober continues to serve as one of the most respected and representative voices of our gooberish overlords, it remains a salutatory exercise to pull out the shotgun now and again and point it, once more, into the festering barrel. Belen Fernandez at the LRB blog performed this yeoman service for us this week, in a short piece reprising some of Friedman's latest and greatest hits. Well worth a quick read.And just for the hell of it, why not take a gander of my own blunderbuss outing at Friedman's stinking fish, way back in the day: Hideous Kinky: The Genocidal Fury of Thomas Friedman. Here are a few clips:
William Pfaff casts a cold eye on the Peace Laureate's latest tinpot strutting in Australia:
I am glad to see the renewal of interest in "vulture funds," where predatory elites buy up bits of the debt of impoverished nations from various creditors – at pennies on the dollar – then use the courts of the 'developed,' 'civilised' world to force the debtor to cough up the full amount, plus punitive interest payments. The Guardian is running a series of articles on this heinous practice (here, here, here, here, here, here and here), and CounterPunch has a good piece as well.I wrote about vulture funds back in 2007. This was one of the many posts which were destroyed in the many hack attacks on the website. So I'm taking the opportunity to re-post it full here, as background to the new push to combat these avid feasters on human misery.
I had the pleasure and privilege of doing an interview with Cindy Sheehan on her radio show not long ago. She is, of course, one of the original modern 'Occupiers,' having "occupied" public space outside the fake dude ranch of George W. Bush (and other spaces) in the heroic attempt to force the twerpish little errand boy of empire to explain why America was waging aggressive war in Iraq -- a war that took the life of Sheehan's son, and shocked her into the life of dissent and activism that she carries on, bravely, today.
A billionaire media baron presiding over a deeply corrupt plutocratic government -- no, not Berlusconi; Bloomberg -- has swept in to crush a small protest movement that dared question the legitimacy and efficacy of the ruling oligarchy. The 'ideological cleansing' of Zuccotti Park -- in the dead of night, with no warning, by hordes of heavily armed police, and the press literally penned up far from the action, all in the classic police-state style to which most Americans seem happily habituated -- is a temporary setback to the Occupy movement in New York.
My old Moscow Times colleague, Matt Taibbi, has this to say about Occupy Wall Street:
Thomas Jones, at LRB, says what I wanted to say about the exit of the plutocratic goon Silvio Berlusconi from his post as Italian prime minister:
One day several years ago, I was killing time -- and trying to cool my nerves -- before a job interview. I was wandering in a bookstore, leafing idly through this book and that, when I came across a slim volume called "Responsibility to Awe." It was poetry by someone named Rebecca Elson. I read a few of the poems, and liked them. Then I looked at the back and saw that she had died not long before, at 39, of lymphoma. This had special resonance to me, for personal reasons, but other parts of her biography were striking as well. She had been an astronomer, born in Canada and ending her career at Cambridge. She studied "dark matter," the invisible, mysterious substance -- known only by inference from its effects on other matter -- which is believed to make up the bulk of the universe, holding it together. And, as the book bio said, her work "also focused on globular clusters, teasing out the history of stellar birth, life and death."I bought the book, which also contained a long section from her journals, and poems in manuscript, and other fragments. Not long after, this song came to me. I recorded the very rough sketch here in a back room a couple of years ago; one of these days, I'll do it up right maybe, and do her more justice.