• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

World Condemns U.S. Unilateral Blockade of Cuba

The News: With three dissents and two abstentions the World Community in General Assembly voted near unanimously to condemn the U.S. blockade of Cuba. The three dissents were: the United States, Israel and Palau. The two abstentions were Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

The Note: In other words, the United States and Israel stood alone against the entire rest of the world except for three welfare States totally dependent on US aid. The US media, of course, did it's dutiful best to insulate the American public from the opprobrium of the rest of humanity.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Extending Zones of Democratic Peace

The News: U.S. Blackhawks and special forces attacked the village of Sukkariyeh, Syria, on the border with Iraq, and claimed to have killed a “top” Al Qaida operative during a gun fight at an alleged terrorist “compound.” Syrian officials said that the attack killed eight people including four children. U.S. military spokesmen denied that any“women or children” had been killed and said that “"American troops [i.e. the attackers] put themselves at risk to ensure children and women would not be killed in the Syria incident." Another spokesman told the Associated Press that "This operation is just part of a wider campaign to take the fight to (al-Qaida in Iraq) not just inside Iraq but to other areas."

The Note: What needs to be understood is that this small village raid is not simply “an incident” in the evolving chaos of the Iraqi war but rather an essential and integral component of the neocon policy of homeland security-through-war. To understand how this is so, it is necessary to see how this policy evolved from the broader tradition of U.S. hegemony.

In the early days of the Cold War, various policy wonks (mostly neo liberal types) concocted a theory to the effect that global peace and prosperity could be promoted by setting up zones of democratic peace around the world. The nearly absurd premise was that “democracies” don’t wage war against one another but are rather naturally inclined to do nice things such as engaging in commerce and cultural exchanges. Western Europe was such a zone, and the goal was to establish such zonal outposts until the world become one happy network of prosperous democracies.

Alas! The theory’s definition of “democracy” all but crashed on the rock of absurdities. An early definition held that a democracy was a country that held periodic elections in which at least 10% of the population voted. Later definitions argued that democracy existed when 30% of the males acquired the franchise. Virtually all definitions have equated democracy with market and free trade economic policies.

Of course, it was all just pamphletering in the cause of American hegemony. As against this onslaught on credulity, one would rather the up-front honesty of the ancient Athenians who said simply enough: We have the best way of life and we are going to make sure you share in it.

The inspiring thing about Jack Kennedy was his essentially Athenian spirit. There could be no question that he espoused the aims of “zonalism” but pursued these goals by dressing them in altruism and appealing to youthful enthusiasm, as was the case with the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress. The essential feature of such programs was simply that they propagandized our way of life through peaceful (and often helpful) means. It is difficult to fault an empire for pursuing it’s imperial aims by peaceful means.

To be sure, Kennedy zonalism was not all wine and roses. The other side of his policy was confrontation with the Soviet Union, the Bay of Pigs, the assassination of Diem and the establishment of “special forces” -- the first open and institutional acknowledgement that the U.S. was prepared to engage in dirty war for the sake of democratic peace.

We shall never know how Kennedy might have balanced light and dark. Under Johnson and McNamara, Vietnam became our first modern zonal war, waged disgracefully and ending in defeat. Nixon ended the “police action” disaster by, in effect, turning it into a full-theater regional war which we won for a sufficiently decent interval to wash our hands and claim that the denouement was none of our affair. Thereafter Nixon and subsequent US policy contented itself with a lower profile zonalism based on routine black ops, such as assassinating elected leaders or assisting in remote jungle brush battles and the occasional sabre rattling.

Putting aside the First Gulf War as a basically exceptional international police action against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, U.S. zonal policies became more ostensible and pro-active under the Clinton Administration. The fall of the Soviet Union enabled us to throw our weight around more easily and we did, most particularly in Yugoslavia and later in our ongoing aerial degradation of Iraq. It is not necessary to review the heap of lies and excuses smothered in the smarmy sauce of hypocritical hortatory that was served up to justify these policies. The basic fact is that the United States reverted to a more proactive zonal policy which did not shy from the overt use of force to establish puppet states around the world.

Enter the Ghouls of Neoconservatism, whose contribution to U.S. foreign policy was clearly and candidly set forth in September 2000 in a document entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses. While this document’s protocols drew quick attention abroad, even today, eight years on, they remain effectively ignored in what passes for American public discourse. Back in 2002, the Moscow Times called the document an “American Mein Kampf” And with reason

In summary essence, what the neocons argued was that the use of force was “nothing to be ashamed about” (their words). The United States should dispense with elaborate justifications and intricate diplomatic dances aimed at achieving some facade of multi-national cooperation and international legality. If we could “use” diplomacy to get other nations or institutions to subserviently tag along with the shots we were calling, fine. If not, to hell with them. The means and goal of American policy should be to “project” our power around the world. To this end, the United States had to have the ability to: (1) wage multiple simultaneous full theater wars; (2) control space and cyberspace and (3) engage in ongoing “constabulary” actions designed to “secure and extend zones of democratic peace.”

Under these geo-military protocols, the concept of zones of democratic peace was metamorphosed from a network of allied client states to what the neocons called the Homeland’s forward based “security perimeter.” In the immediate near term, this so-called security perimeter was to extend from the Baltic States, through the Balkans, to the Caucasus and South Central Asia. It also included converting Iraq and Afghanistan into “zones of democratic peace” which were to be secured by “constabulary” actions.

In neocon jargon, “constabulary” actions are not traditional peacekeeping operations which are explicitly rejected. Constabulary operations are those which meld isolated special forces operations with traditional military engagements so as to carry out hybrid military-police actions in regional areas. These forces are to be equipped with blackhawks, missiles and drones on the one hand, and “intelligence” units, the aim of which is to “penetrate” local society so as to “shape the security environment”.

The key to understanding constabulary operations lies in a conjunction. Under neocon doctrine, the overall mission of constabulary forces is to “secure and extend” zones of democratic peace.

Thus, given that Iraq and Afghanistan are each zones of democratic peace, the goal is not simply to “secure” them (that is to destroy civil society and reduce them to exploitable and rubble) but also to “extend” them. The only way to extend a zone is to incur and invade into the neighboring zone, which is precisely what the U.S. is currently doing in Pakistan and now Syria and which it tried unsuccessfully this summer in Georgia. The perverted theory behind these “actions” is that “the Homeland’s” security (and that of our “key” regional allies) is promoted only by degrading and rubbelizing our regional neighbours.

In short, everything we see happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere has gone exactly according to neocon plans -- first drafted by Cheney in 1991 and ultimately published by the P.N.A.C. in 2000. What is important to grasp is not simply the evolving genesis of this execrable doctrine, but also not to loose sight of the substantive alteration of policy embodied in the changes of means and degree. When all is said and done, American hegemony in the Fifties and early Sixties did in fact seek to “build up” liberal societies around the world and this involved appreciable degrees foreign aid and other essentially constructive measures. Neocon policy could give a damn. It is only interested in destruction and despoliation and seeks only to metastasize itself around the world in an ever spreading stain.

In its waning days, the neocon Bush Administration is adhering to its protocols with iredentist mindlessness. It will be up to an Obama Administration to put an end to this psychotic derangement masquerading as policy and to return us to the happier cold war policies of the Eisenhower years.

©WCG, 2008


Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Woodchip Gazette Endorsement for President of these United States of America

The present election has presented the American People with a stark choice between marching forward toward a new vision for the future or holding fast to half-baked measures rooted in the policies of the past.

On the Homeland Front, the presidential contest has presented Americans with a choice between economic policies aimed at feeding the rich in the hope that more crumbs will thereby fall to ground or using extended powers of government to insure equitable and secure allocations of wealth through direct jobs creation, progressive taxation and guaranteed livable minimum wages. Likewise, it has confronted Americans with a choice between health insurance for profit or true universal health care for all; between higher education that provides a true start in life versus crushing indebtedness; between retirement programs managed by the same banksters that have brought us global financial collapse or government guaranteed social security for all.

On the issues of civil and constitutional rights, the campaign has confronted Americans with a choice between limiting the intrusive powers of government to regulate personal choices and to spy on personal activities or allowing the bogus threats of "terrorism" "drugs" and "pornography" to intimidate them into accepting the dubious security of a police state.

On the foreign policy front, the presidential race has offered Americans a choice between pursuing by "adjusted" means essentially the same unilateralist and aggressive policies of the Bush Administration or fundamentally altering our policies so as to end a bankrupting war, restore our trashed diplomatic standing and work toward reestablishing cooperative international institutions focused on maintaining peace. Similarly, the campaign has given the American electorate a choice between sticking with trade policies that were designed to promote corporate plunder at the expense of the environment and ordinary people at home and abroad or between radically reoriented policies designed to promote real environmental protection as well as sustainable and equitable economic development.

In short, the election cycle that is at last coming to a close has offered the Country a choice between true and fundamental change or sticking with the same old free market, free trade and free-fall ideology of the past albeit with some minor readjustments and cosmetic refurbishments. The importance of the election cannot be understated and the Editorial Board of the Gazette has given the utmost thought and attention to its all important endorsement.

But as the old adage has it, "politics is the art of the possible" and, on balance, as much as we woodchippers favor radical and fundamental change, the likelihood of a massive write-in for Dennis Kucinich is not in the cards and so, in the alternative,  the Gazette endorses Barack Obama in the belief that rehashed acorns are better than none.

©WCG, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Murkan Mantra, Bimbo Bugaboo & Robinson Crusoe

The News: Speaking for millions, Joe (Wurzelbacher) the Plumber has denounced candidate Obama's plan for a 3% tax rate increase on incomes over $250,000 as "un-American". According to Joe, Obama “wants to distribute wealth. ... that’s kind of a socialist viewpoint. You know, I work for that. You know, it’s my discretion who I want to give my money to; it’s not for the government decide that I make a little too much and so I need to share it with other people. That’s not the American Dream.”

The Note: Actually Joe, it's known as "society" and all societies are "socialist" to the extent that every single society that has ever existed has depended on distributing wealth. Society could not exist otherwise. Building a road, setting up a school, providing for fire-brigades, doing any of the thousands of things societies do, all require "distributing wealth" -- taking wealth from some people and distributing it to others for other purposes.

The knuckleheadedness of Joe the Dumber and fellow-travelling morons is beyond belief.... In fact, beyond belief of even the average, hard-clobbering Neanderthal.

Joe's "Socialism Bugaboo" is the correlative of a deeper dementia -- what Karl Marx called Robinsonades, the mythical capitalist apology which foists the notion that every man is his own Robin Crusoe as if "society" were no more than a collection of islands.

The core fallacy of the Robinsonade is to confuse self-reliance with self-sufficiency. Self-reliance is a good thing. All animals practice it; man should do no less. But unless man is to live like an animal, sheltering under a bush and cracking nuts with his teeth, self-reliance is not sufficient. To enjoy even the most minimal tools, shelter, clothing and simple variety of food-stuffs requires the time, talent and treasure of others. No man could possibly do it all himself; not even Robinson Crusoe who survived only because he was able to salvage a treasure trove of tools and basic supplies from the wrecked ship -- tools and supplies which had been provided by none other than society.

The vast and bountiful expanse of a continent that helplessly awaited the rape and plunder of English settlors gave rise to the Robinsonade's aura of self-evidency. Anglo-Americans eagerly swallowed the lore that all they had to do was Go forth and chop. It was as if the Pioneer on the Hilltop, basking in God's silvery rays, became the illusion we used to hide our sins of despoilation, aggression and plunder.

Of course, it was all utter nonsense because the Robinsonade is nonsense. If this continent was settled and civilized it was not through individual effort but through social organization. The earliest colonial settlements, both in Massachusetts and Virginia, were chartered affairs -- complex social contracts which, particularly in the Bay Colony, regulated every aspect of social and economic life. ... to say nothing of mandatory tithes. The early push West, through the Cumberland and Altoona passes and via the Eerie and Baltimore-Ohio canals, were municipal enterprises, organized and underwritten by the governments of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. The long caravans of wagons, winding their way West were likewise ad hoc cities on wheels, drawn up by charter, requiring subcription and above all highly regulated norms of conduct. In short, nothing was possible and nothing is possible without social division of labor and allocation of value -- without a distribution of "wealth" in its various forms.

And yet despite this obvious social fact, evident to the first jungle-men and to all men ever since, the Republican Party repeatedly sounds the Robinsonade as millions of mindless morons like Joe the Dumber reflexively jump to the call. "It’s not for the government decide that... I need to share [my wealth] with other people."

If Joe allocated a tenth of the energy he spends on egotism to taking a look about, he would realize that the government is always deciding how much he must share; and that what the government under successive neo-liberal administrations has done, is to share his wealth upwards towards Big Plunder and Big Hoard and Big Hedge. Sometimes government does this by regressive tax policy and at other times through complex "unseen" financial manipulations that devalue the worth of Joe's dollar.

Of course, the malevolents that run the Republican Party understand which way is up, even if Joe doesn't and the only thing more nauseating than Joe's stupidity is their venality, cunning and hypocrisy.

©WCG, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe The Dumber Accuses Obama of "Tap Dancing" -- NAACP Demands Tattoo Check

October 16, 2008 - Buelah, Ohio -- Joe "Skin Dude" Plumber -- McCain's poster-boy for the average Murkan Neanderthal, accused Obama of "tap dancing" like Sammy Davis Jr., in front lawn comments made to a throng of Fourth Estate lemmings. Wilbur C. Jackson, president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, responded by demanding that Joe Wurzelburger submit to a tattoo check. "We need to see up front exactly where Joe's been plumbing around," Jackson said.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

McCAIN Vows To Create New Department of Filth

October 9, 2008 - Grand Rapids, MI. -- Republican presidential candidate John ("Crashboy") McCain vowed today to set up a new Department of Filth & Mud Resources, if elected. It was time, he said, for government to step in a coordinate shit- flinging and dirt-scooping in public life. Speaking to a cheering crowd of Country Firsters, the candidate said ""We also need a standard, national code for racist slurs

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Voice of Respectability Shrills Again

The News: Cook County Sheriff, Thomas J. Dart, announced that he will refuse to carry out foreclosure evictions in his bailiwick. Dart explained that too many of the evictees were innocent rent-paying tenants of landlords who had failed to pay their mortgages. Although landlords pocketted the rent money, they never bothered to inform their tenants who remained unaware of the foreclosure suits until deputies showed up with a Get-Out-Now order. Under Illinois law mortgage companies are supposed to advise the court of the building's occupants before asking for an eviction, but of course hadn't bothered to do so.

The llinois Bankers Association is outraged. Simply outraged. The Association declaimed that Dart "was elected to uphold the law and to fulfill the legal duties of his office, which include serving eviction notices." Getting haughtier still, the Association chastised the sheriff for "ignoring the law and his legal responsibilities" and indulging in "vigilantism at the highest level".

The Note: This is why it is easier to thread a rope through a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. They will not part with a penny out of sufferance for the poor and they parade the corpse of oppression in the mantel of justice. It is also why, on the latter day, it is a comfort to knit and drink wine while the blade chops.

©WCG, 2008


Friday, October 3, 2008

These Empty Times

The News:
Judith Warner, an op-ed contributor at the NY Times writes that the (alleged) Sinking of Wall Street is no time for schadenfreude.

"Schadenfreude is impossible (she writes) because the fat cats — the ones who bent the rules, the ones who pushed the envelopes, ... the ones who opposed regulations on the banking and mortgage industries — are taking us down with them."
No... Instead, according to Warner, "A great emptiness — and a gnawing kind of fear — has taken its place"

Yes, it's so true. A great, great emptiness, as when Marie Antoinette looked at her silver breakfast platter and realized there was no more brioche!!

This is the kind hollow, self-absorbed kitsch-angst that ranks the Times as All the News that's Fit for the Litterbox. Has it ever ever occurred to Warner or anyone on the Times that while they "made do" in Manhattan the GREAT EMPTINESS of HUNGER filled the bellies of children from the heart of Africa to the heights of the Andes?

No ... it never occurred to these toney-trendies. It never occurred to the likes of Warner, writing books about the travails of life on the Upper West Side (or was it East?), that some people were being gnawed at by more than fear... that the neoliberal policies of the Times had already taken down millions of the truly poor the globe over.

For them... for those on empty stomachs, sleeping on cold door stoops, schadenfreude is the only satisfaction they have left.

©WCG, 2008

Palin Bats Eye Lashes in Triumph

The News
: The Great Veep Debate was held yesterday evening, billed as "Palin vs. Biden" as if it were some World Federation Wrestling match. When it was over, most of the insta-comment called it a draw, although most of the insta-polls gave it to Biden 65-35 or thereabouts.

The Note: Given that these debates are Non-Substantive Occasions (NSO), Palin clearly won; not simply because she "held her own" without making a complete ass of herself, but because she is a great communicator, a runner up to the Great Ronnie himself.

First off, Palin had culled and organized her bumper stickers. That's more than anyone can say for Bush who simply blabbers sound bites with little regard for consistency and coherence.

Second, Palin's sound-bites resorted to tried and tested clich├ęs that sell-well with the American demos. Bush's sound bites have largely resorted to unfamiliar themes of fear and revenge that most Americans feel vaguely uncomfortable with once the Yeeehaw Moment has passed. Palin reverted to the Golden Granola Morning motifs of the Great Ronnie. To the extent that there was an edge, it was the ol' "... if Govmint caint help it can at least git outta da way..." What can be more American than, "Awwwww Mom... I can do it myself."

Third, Palin "connected" with her audience, with her twinkle eye-lash batting, teasing smiles and little bang-shakes of the head. She came across as "genuine," and "earnest" and -- this is key -- not self-important. In fact, her presence had an aura of self-humour about it that said "this is totally crazy for me to be here, but heck it's fun." Not since Ronnie has anyone been able to connect with the Vast of America in this down home, upbeat way.

I should be clear, that if a woman or a job applicant came on to me the way Palin was coming on to Us Folk, I'd say, "Save your time, honey, save your time." But then again, Ronnie never did much for me either. Hell, I couldn't even sit through Kings Row without reaching for the Bromo.

©WCG, 2008