Last week, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate met with the crown prince of Bahrain and "reaffirmed" the United States' "strong commitment" to the regime of unelected autocrats. The Peace Laureate -- who in his acceptance of the Prize wrapped himself in the mantle of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi -- also "expressed strong support" for the regime's "ongoing efforts to initiate national dialogue ... [and] forge a just future for all Bahrainis."President Obama had dropped in a meeting the prince was having with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who likewise extolled the autocrats for their "national dialogue" and "important work."There is indeed "important work" going on in Bahrain these days, and the autocratic regime's "ongoing efforts to initiate dialogue" -- the campaign lauded by the Laureate -- are quite vigorous. Here, for example, The Independent details a case study of just how the crown prince and his family's regime is pursuing "national dialogue" in the manner so warmly approved by the presidential peacenik:
I watched them marching toward the border. Row upon row of them in the hot, bright sun. They marched without guns, without tanks and missiles -- although some, like the shepherd boy David, did pick up a few rocks to hurl into the impossible distance.I watched them stream down the green hill toward the heaps of dirt and wire. I saw them, old and young, walk toward the occupied land. I saw them come closer -- close enough for the heavily-armed occupying force to have them in range. From a distance -- behind the barbed wire, with the occupiers, where the cameras that showed the scene were set -- I heard the dull pops and parps of the guns as they fired. I saw the marchers kept streaming down the hill, although the first wave was now breaking in disarray. I heard the guns again. I saw some marchers fall, others scramble back, and still more coming down.Pop. Pop. Parp. The dull sounds, intermittent, careful. The bullets whizzed across the distance -- the impossible distance, which no stone could traverse. The bullets threw up clouds of dirt, they struck flesh. I saw bodies twisting and going down. The march became a rescue party. The dead and wounded were lifted onto sheets and stretchers as the bullets kept coming: dull, intermittent, careful. Pop. Pop. Parp.Finally, as many lay dead, many lay bleeding in bright, hot sun, finally, across the distance, from behind the barbed wire and hot-barrelled weapons, I watched the canisters of tear gas sailing through the air, trailing...
As always, I hate to do this, but I just wanted to put out a brief call for donations, if anyone feels moved to pitch a few coins into the hat. Regular financial support for this site has dwindled down to almost nothing; there is now only one regular subscriber, where once there had been dozens. (Was it something I said?) People do chip in from time to time, and I'm enormously grateful for that. And of course, times are hard all over, and there are needs far greater than mine. (Arthur Silber, for one; don't you dast give anything here without giving there first.) Still, the income once generated by my political writings has essentially disappeared, and one does feel that gap every now and then. So if you've got a few pennies, and you've taken care of your own needs and those of others in more need, and you take a notion, we would be mighty grateful and much beholden for anything you might toss this way.Meanwhile, pressing personal business of various sorts have kept me preoccupied of late. So in lieu of my own deathless take on various issues of the day, please take a gander at a few of these important articles which have appeared in the last few days.War Against Humanity, Part 1A new drive has been launched to end the so-called "War on Drugs." A whole raft of Establishment worthies -- conveniently out of power now, alas -- have signed their names to a new call to end what is probably the most pernicious, corrupting, and corrosively evil movement of our time. The "War on...
Here’s a nice piece of work, via Truthdig: Ry Cooder channeling Uncle Dave Macon (a trenchant observer of the high crimes and low comedy of politics in his day) with a new song, “No Banker Left Behind.”
In the last few days, Barack Obama has delivered two “major,” “landmark,” even “historic” speeches, which apparently have “reset” American policy in the Middle East, reaffirmed the overwhelming importance of “the West” (i.e., Britain and America) to the proper functioning of the world, and, we are told, “squarely” put the United States on the side of the dissidents and rebels of the Arab Spring. All of these claims, put forth in reams of earnest analysis and paeans of praise, call to mind the immortal words of Brick Pollitt: “Wouldn’t that be funny if that was true?”
From that place where the inner eye is sharp, and truth's grip is tight -- around your throat.
Can cops now invade your home without a warrant anytime they feel like it? Sure they can. Doesn't this completely and literally eviscerate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and specifically requires the use of a warrant? Sure it does. So, was there really any point in having an American Revolution, if we have ended up with a tyranny far more implacable, intrusive, violent and extremist than anything in the wildest dreams of the most retrograde royalist serving King George III? Reckon not.
In honor of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, here's a reprise of a piece I wrote back when he was just a whippersnapper of 63: There's a legend in my family that we are kin to Uncle Dave Macon. We are for certain distant cousins to the Macons of Wilson County – and Uncle Dave lived in the next county over. My parents met him once, driving to his farm one afternoon when they were teenagers, not yet married. This was not too long before his death. They found him sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. He greeted the young strangers like the kinfolk one of them might well have been, invited them into the house, showed them his memorabilia, and gave my mother – one of "them pretty girls from Tennessee" he sang about so often – a small, delicate glass deer as a memento of the visit. Back out on the porch, he picked up his banjo and did a couple of comic numbers from the rocking chair, feet keeping time on the wooden boards. There looked to be some whisky in his friendly manner, they said; perhaps a noonday dram before they had arrived. It was all over soon enough, but a photograph survives to record the event, a black-and-white print taken with my mother's camera. Uncle Dave is in the rocking chair, legs crossed, battered hat perched on his head, banjo in his lap. His face is puffy, pitted, cadaverous; the fire that had stoked him since his hot young days – in the still-churning wake of the Civil War – is finally going out. A dying man, from a dying world. But he played...
1. Aiding Enlightenment Arthur Silber, one of the great voices of enlightenment in our benighted age, is in the direst of straits, suffering through one of the worst bouts of the chronic ill health that has afflicted him for years. He has not been able to write for many weeks, but has now surfaced, very briefly, to give us the good news that he is still alive, and the bad news that he is suffering mightily, and that one of his beloved companions also needs medical care. If you have any money to spare, please consider making a contribution to Silber's website; it is his only means of support, and of course, donations fall when he is not able to write. The tragedy of seeing such a mind, such a spirt, forced to such perilous margins is painful indeed. Please help if you are able.
The Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas died late last month at the age of 93, having survived persecution and exile at the hands of American client-tyrant Augusto Pinochet. His obituary in the Guardian quoted these apt Rojas lines:I tear out the visionsI tear out my eyes every dayI will not and cannotsee men die each dayI prefer to be of stoneto be in darknessthan to tolerate the disgustof going soft insideof smiling right and leftand getting on with businessUnfortunately, America's bipartisan imperium is still "getting on with business" in Latin America in much the same manner as in Pinochet's day. And yes, this includes the progressive Nobel Peace Laureate (and rootin' tootin' hit man) in the White House.
Why have a million innocent people been killed in Iraq by the cataclysm unleashed by the Anglo-American invasion and occupation? Here's why: