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.
Hugh Roberts' new article in the London Review of Books is the best story I have yet read about the war of regime change in Libya. It is meticulously detailed, rich in context -- historical, cultural, political -- carefully measured and soberly expressed.
Update, November 5: Many thanks to everyone for your condolences. It was very kind of you all, and I really appreciate it. Chris.
I had the honor of talking with Cindy Sheehan tonight, recording an interview for her radio show, which I believe will air on Sunday. She made mention of the "police riot" -- as she aptly phrased it -- in Oakland Tuesday night, as a Democratic administration moved in with gas and other weapons of war to clear the streets of American citizens taking part in the Occupy movement.Ms. Sheehan also noted the fact that the Occupy movement's terminology about "the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent elite" is not entirely accurate; far too many of the 99 percent are serving as willing tools of the 1 percent -- in the police forces, in the media, even in the general public, where you can always find plenty of people eagerly genuflecting to the high and mighty, even as they and their own families and communities sink deeper into the mire.The Oakland debacle is a prime example of this, as cops -- putative public servants whose pay scales put them deep into the 99 percent -- waded into the Occupy citizens, breaking heads and driving away the very people trying to stand up for their interests.The New York Times reports on one victim of these first strike-backs by our panicky overlords. And he is a most telling victim indeed: a military veteran, who had served two tours in the imperial war of aggression in Iraq, then turned against the War Machine and joined that stalwart band of humanity's patriots, the Iraq Veterans Against the War: (See original for links and video.)
Barack Obama has announced that all American troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year. This was presented as America honorably adhering to the agreement signed years ago by the Bush Administration. At the same time, White House and Pentagon spinners were planting stories to make clear that the United States had fully intended to continue its military presence in Iraq past the deadline, but was thwarted by the Iraqis' unconscionable refusal to allow American forces to commit crimes with impunity -- and immunity -- on Iraqi soil.These backroom "process" stories -- filled, as always, with unnamed insiders providing savvy "nuance" -- were detailed, laying out a long series of negotiations, ending in what was clearly the Americans' chief goal: a military presence of 3,000-5,000 troops, placed strategically around the country, with a main focus in Baghdad. These negotiations failed; hence Obama's announcement that he was being forced to honor the existing agreement on withdrawal.At the same time, however, we are also told that the State Department will maintain "at least" 5,000 armed "security personnel" -- mercenaries of various stripes. These 5,000 militarized (if not officially military) troops will be stationed in strategic locations around the country, where the United States will establish mini-fortress "consulates" in Iraqi cities, with a main focus in Baghdad.So the Americans had a baseline goal of 3,000 armed personnel remaining in Iraq; they will now...