What Baloney...A Cold War Redux?

punditman says...

If we are going to have another Cold War, can we at least have a good reason to once again spend billions on theormonuclear weaponry? Like, I dunno, say Russian missiles in Cuba or something?

Regarding the ongoing tensions resulting from the recent flare-up between Russia and Georgia, dare I say, that the Russians may actually have a point?

By saying such a thing, I almost feel like I've been cast back in time to some late night drunken debate in my undergraduate residence. In those days, merely pointing out that Russia had a legitimate sphere of interest meant that you risked being labeled a "Commie sympathizer" or a "useful idiot" and therefore part of their plan for global domination. Such talk could cause great personal distress and was therefore generally reserved to like-minded audiences, such as fellow anti-nuke marchers.

A loose analogy would be to try to look at things from the perspective of the average Pashtun tribesman today, or to take an honest look at the recent history of warfare in Afghanistan. You may as well shut up, lest your voice fall upon deaf ears, with many a glazed eye looking at you like you have 5 left feet; whilst the fat-assed cracker at the end of the bar spontaneously combusts all over your nitrate-laden sausage.* It's usually not worth the risk.

Seriously, has history taught us nothing? The Commie empire may be long gone, but irrational fear of the Russian bear is alive and well.

The Russians point to a growing NATO naval presence in the Black Sea and accuse the West of using aid shipments as cover to rearm Georgia after Russia's bloody foray into Georgia earlier this month left Georgia's military decimated.

According to Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, "It's not a common practice to deliver humanitarian aide using battleships."

Ah, yeah -- he does have a point. And saying so doesn't mean I support Russia's recent incursion into Georgia. It merely means I understand something about geopolitics, distasteful as it often is.

Should anyone be surprised, if in fact, these Russian accusations are true? After all, the West has been arming Georgia with military advisors, weapons sales and the promise of NATO membership -- NATO being that "Western" organization, of course, created as an anti-Soviet military alliance. The alliance apparently sees fit to go stomping around Afghanistan to do the bidding of its hegemonic power, the United States (Note: They should at least re-brand themselves because the "North Atlantic" Treaty Organization is so 20th century!)

I digress. In this case at least, NATO is doing its usual job of surrounding Russia and we are to assume that this is an inalienable right handed down from the heavens, and so shall it always be. But imagine the reaction in Washington, Ottawa and London if an "Eastern" alliance was expanding into Mexico. Such thoughts are reserved for people who live on other planets, I suppose.

Meanwhile, much to the chagrin of the old Russian security establishment, a thousand Israeli military advisers from Israeli security firms have been training Georgia's armed forces and were deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to attack and capture the capital of South Ossetia. What the hell? As usual, Israel gets a pass. And why not? They too have the God-given right to covertly mess around in other countries without a peep out of CNN.

Did the Bush administration actually prod the Georgians into their ill-fated, amazingly stupid attack on the breakaway South Ossetians? Was it part of an election ploy by the McCain team, as some have suggested? Or did the US and the Europeans just completely botch up the diplomacy aspect, big time?

Either way, it is a dangerous game that NATO is playing in the Russian backyard, and we have no business playing Nicky Nicky Nine Door on their back porch.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband may not be personally interested in starting up a new Cold War, (as he stated on a recent visit to the Ukraine), but there is clear evidence that many neo cons in the US government want precisely that.

The inconsistency of, on the one hand -- recognizing the independence of Kosovo earlier this year, but on the other hand -- not recognizing the disputed province of South Ossetia, is clear for all to see. But in order to see, one needs open eyes and a little effort with a keyboard because such glaring hypocrisy on the part of the West barely merits mention in the mainstream press.

What you won't read or hear about offline is the following perspective, put so succinctly by Nebojsa Malic over at antiwar.com:
It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to communicate with someone so obsessed with managing the perceptions of reality that they've become incapable of recognizing reality altogether. In the Bizarro World of the Atlantic Empire, the bombing of Serbia was humanitarian, the invasion of Iraq was defensive, the occupation of Afghanistan was democratic, and the separation of Kosovo was legal – while the Russian intervention to neutralize the Georgian army and save the Ossetians from ethnic cleansing was "aggression" befitting Hitler or Stalin.
In fact, even punditman is somewhat amazed to witness the near complete re-demonization of the Russians within a few short weeks. As expected, the Big Media commentators have fallen into line, dutifully parroting the predictable horse manure spewing from the White House. But, at least according to a few informal discussions I've had with otherwise intelligent folks, many a common citizen has likewise fallen back under the radioactive spell of their Cold War programming from that bygone era. Duck and cover everybody, the Russian boogeyman is gonna get you!

People seem to forget that Russia does in fact have nukes, and that for very good historic reasons they are just a tad sensitive about their borders. Playing chicken with them is phenomenally reckless as is setting the time machine back several decades. I would hope that any drunken undergraduate student of history could tell you that.

*in truth, punditman typically does not eat sausage, bacon or baloney.

Really Proud

by billmon

"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop."
-Martin Luther King April 3, 1968
Readers of my old blog, the Whiskey Bar, probably know I have had a long and conflicted relationship with the Democratic Party -- one that generally ranges between reluctantly supportive (on the really good days) to utterly disgusted (most days).

To compare it to a bad marriage would be an insult to unhappy couples everywhere.

Read on...

Peacenik thinks Billmon, formerly of the Whiskey Bar blog, was the best blogger in the blogosphere until he retired a couple of years ago. It's nice to see him coming out of retirement as he begins to post at Dailykos.com. This post "Really Proud" reminds us that no matter how disillusioned we can get by U.S. politics and society we should celebrate when something good happens. Maybe a positive vibe can coalesce into something more significant. Sometimes there are glimmers of hope.


AT&T Thanks the Blue Dog Democrats With a Lavish Party

by Glenn Greenwald

Last night in Denver, at the Mile High Station -- next to Invesco Stadium, where Barack Obama will address a crowd of 30,000 people on Thursday night -- AT&T threw a lavish, private party for Blue Dog House Democrats, virtually all of whom blindly support whatever legislation the telecom industry demands and who also, specifically, led the way this July in immunizing AT&T and other telecoms from the consequences for their illegal participation in the Bush administration's warrantless spying program. Matt Stoller has one of the listings for the party here.

Armed with full-scale Convention press credentials issued by the DNC, I went -- along with Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher, John Amato, Stoller and others -- in order to cover the event, interview the attendees, and videotape the festivities. There was a wall of private security deployed around the building, and after asking where the press entrance was, we were told by the security officials, after they consulted with event organizers, that the press was barred from the event, and that only those with invitations could enter -- notwithstanding the fact that what was taking place in side was a meeting between one of the nation's largest corporations and the numerous members of the most influential elected faction in Congress. As a result, we stood in front of the entrance and began videotaping and trying to interview the parade of Blue Dog Representatives, AT&T executives, assorted lobbyists and delegates who pulled up in rented limousines, chauffeured cars, and SUVs in order to find out who was attending and why AT&T would be throwing such a lavish party for the Blue Dog members of Congress.

Read on...

Peacenik hates feeling disgusted, outraged and demoralized early in the morning, but this article by Glenn Greenwald certainly did some trauma to Peacenik's psyche. Peacenik knew all this anyways, but sometimes getting his face rubbed in it is a good reminder of just how corrupt the political process is. Peacenik needs a beer, and it's only 8:45 am.

Rich Countries Once Used Gunboats to Seize Food. Now They Use Trade Deals

The world's hungriest are the losers as an old colonialism returns to govern relations between wealthy and poor nations

by George Monbiot

In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis tells the story of the famines that sucked the guts out of India in the 1870s. The hunger began when a drought, caused by El Niño, killed the crops on the Deccan plateau. As starvation bit, the viceroy, Lord Lytton, oversaw the export to England of a record 6.4m hundredweight of wheat. While Lytton lived in imperial splendour and commissioned, among other extravagances, "the most colossal and expensive meal in world history", between 12 million and 29 million people died. Only Stalin manufactured a comparable hunger.

Now a new Lord Lytton is seeking to engineer another brutal food grab. As Tony Blair's favoured courtier, Peter Mandelson often created the impression that he would do anything to please his master. Today he is the European trade commissioner. From his sumptuous offices in Brussels and Strasbourg, he hopes to impose a treaty that will permit Europe to snatch food from the mouths of some of the world's poorest people.

This article by George Monbiot is something a little different from Peacenik. Yes there are lots of top-of-mind problems the world faces. But Peacenik rarely considers some of the implications of the food he eats. This quote from the Financial Times: "the nightmare scenario of crops being transported out of fortified farms as hungry locals look on "conjures up a distopian future worthy of a Cormac McCarthy novel.


Biden, Iraq, and Obama’s Betrayal

by Stephen Zunes

Incipient Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's selection of Joseph Biden as his running mate constitues a stunning betrayal of the anti-war constituency who made possible his hard-fought victory in the Democratic primaries and caucuses.

The veteran Delaware senator has been one of the leading congressional supporters of U.S. militarization of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, of strict economic sanctions against Cuba and of Israeli occupation policies.

Most signigicantly, however, Biden, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the lead-up to the Iraq War during the latter half of 2002, was perhaps the single most important congressional backer of the Bush administration's decision to invade that oil-rich country.

Peacenik has returned from the news-free wilderness and has quickly made himself queasy by watching CNN's coverage of the Democratic convention. They have Glen Beck on as a special commentator forchrissakes.....and every story so far is about disunity at the convention. Every right wing mouthpiece will no doubt get a good workout on CNN this week. Peacenik had to boat to a newsbox to get a paper to find out who Obama picked as his running mate. Given the options, Peacenik was initally relieved that Biden was the pick, although Jack McCafferty, on CNN, is right now discussing how picking Biden might cost Obama the election. While Peacenik contemplated how peaceful and relaxing the wilderness was, reading this article by Stephen Zunes quickly jarred him back to reality. Peacenik wonders if this election will make any difference.


McCain's Warped Worldview

**No posts this weekend. Punditman is working on his tan somewhere, and Peacenik is heading north, into the wilderness.....**

by Robert Scheer from TruthDig.com

The world according to John McCain is one in which America is triumphant at home and abroad thanks to the Bush legacy, rolling to victory internationally and mastering its domestic economic problems. If daily news, like reports of the 10 French soldiers killed by a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and the U.S. government's imminent nationalization of much of the American mortgage-lending industry, would seem to deny such a rosy scenario, then that only shows skeptics lack the courage that sustained McCain as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

There you have it encapsulated, the McCain campaign for president, an irrational melange of patriotic swagger and blindness to reality that is proving disturbingly successful with uninformed voters. How else to explain the many millions of Americans who tell pollsters they prefer a continuation of Republican rule when so many of them are losing their homes to foreclosure and the nation is devastated by out-of-control military spending?

Peacenik doesn't understand when he reads recent Zogby polls showing McCain leading in the presidential race. And Peacenik doesn't understand when he reads articles, like Scheer's, that point out that a big chunk of America supports McCain even though he promises more of the same. More of the same? More of the same? Peacenik stands by his early prediction that, in spite of everything, Obama will be the next president of the United States.


The US Missile Defence System Is the Magic Pudding That Will Never Run Out

Poland is just the latest fall guy for an American foreign policy dictated by military industrial lobbyists in Washington

by George Monbiot

It’s a novel way to take your own life. Just as Russia demonstrates what happens to former minions that annoy it, Poland agrees to host a US missile defence base. The Russians, as Poland expected, respond to this proposal by offering to turn the country into a parking lot. This proves that the missile defence system is necessary after all: it will stop the missiles Russia will now aim at Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK in response to, er, their involvement in the missile defence system.

The American government insists that the interceptors, which will be stationed on the Baltic coast, have nothing to do with Russia: their purpose is to defend Europe and the US against the intercontinental ballistic missiles Iran and North Korea don’t possess. This is why they are being placed in Poland, which, as every geography student in Texas knows, shares a border with both rogue states

Read on...

Peacenik enjoyed this George Monbiot article about the U.S. missile defense system. Peacenik has been following this boondoggle for years. Professor Ted Postol, an MIT physicist, has made a career out of debunking the missile shield. The missile defense system does not work. It has not been successfully tested. It is welfare for the military industrial complex. But countries hosting this boondoggle do place a target on themselves for that favorite neo-con boogey man......Russia.


Reality Bites Again

by Jim Kunstler

The feeble American response to Russia's assertion of power in the Caucasus of Central Asia was appropriate, since our claims of influence in that part of the world are laughable. The US had taken advantage of temporary confusion in Russia, during the ten-year-long post-Soviet-collapse interval, and set up a client government in Georgia, complete with military advisors, sales of weapons, and even the promise of club membership in the western alliance known as NATO. These blandishments were all in the service of the Baku-to-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which was designed specifically to drain the oil region around the Caspian Basin with an outlet on the Mediterranean, avoiding unfriendly nations all along the way.

Read on...

Peacenik can't resist passing on Jim Kunstler's latest take on the fiasco that is the U.S. policy in Georgia and surrounding regions. Today's essay includes this quote "Nations do make tragic errors of the collective will. The cluelessness of George Bush is nothing less than a perfect metaphor for the failure of a whole generation." The question now is, is it too late to "wake the fuck up"?

Dr. Doom

Published: August 15, 2008

On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing. In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession. He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Read on...

Last week Peacenik started your week off with a nice little doom and gloom essay by novelist Jim Kuntsler. This week the New York Times' Sunday Magazine presents an interesting profile of one of the masters of doom, Nouriel Roubini. Read this profile and you'll know as much or more about the present and future economic situation than most television economic pundits know. The tv pundits real job is to simply shill for Wall Street and big business.


The Neocons Do Georgia

Humanity's Greatest Enemy?


The success of the Bush Regime’s propaganda, lies, and deception with gullible and inattentive Americans since 9/11 has made it difficult for intelligent, aware people to be optimistic about the future of the United States. For almost 8 years the US media has served as Ministry of Propaganda for a war criminal regime. Americans incapable of thinking for themselves, reading between the lines, or accessing foreign media on the Internet have been brainwashed.

As the Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, said, it is easy to deceive a people. You just tell them they have been attacked and wave the flag.

It certainly worked with Americans.

The gullibility and unconcern of the American people has had many victims. There are 1.25 million dead Iraqis. There are 4 million displaced Iraqis. No one knows how many are maimed and orphaned.

Iraq is in ruins, its infrastructure destroyed by American bombs, missiles, and helicopter gunships.

We do not know the death toll in Afghanistan, but even the American puppet regime protests the repeated killings of women and children by US and NATO troops.

We don’t know what the death toll would be in Iran if Darth Cheney and the neocons succeed in their plot with Israel to bomb Iran, perhaps with nuclear weapons.

What we do know is that all this murder and destruction has no justification and is evil. It is the work of evil men who have no qualms about lying and deceiving in order to kill innocent people to achieve their undeclared agenda.

That such evil people have control over the United States government and media damns the American public for eternity.

America will never recover from the shame and dishonor heaped upon her by the neoconned Bush Regime.

The success of the neocon propaganda has been so great that the opposition party has not lifted a finger to rein in the Bush Regime’s criminal actions. Even Obama, who promises “change” is too intimidated by the neocon’s success in brainwashing the American population to do what his supporters hoped he would do and lead us out of the shame in which the neoconned Bush Regime has imprisoned us.

This about sums up the pessimistic state in which I existed prior to the go-ahead given by the Bush Regime to its puppet in Georgia to ethnically cleanse South Ossetia of Russians in order to defuse the separatist movement. The American media, aka, the Ministry of Lies and Deceit, again accommodated the criminal Bush Regime and proclaimed “Russian invasion” to cover up the ethnic cleansing of Russians in South Ossetia by the Georgian military assault.

Only this time, the rest of the world didn’t buy it. The many years of lies--9/11, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda connections, yellowcake, anthrax attack, Iranian nukes, “the United States doesn’t torture,” the bombings of weddings, funerals, and children’s soccer games, Abu Ghraib, renditions, Guantanamo, various fabricated “terrorist plots,” the determined assault on civil liberties--have taken their toll on American credibility. No one outside America any longer believes the US media or the US government.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Paul Craig Roberts pulls no punches; he calls it as he sees it.

How the U.S. Invited a War in South Ossetia

War a la Carte



Last week, Georgia launched a major military offensive against the rebel province South Ossetia, just hours after President Mikheil Saakashvili had announced a unilateral ceasefire. Close to 1,500 have been killed, Russian officials say. Thirty thousand refugees, mostly women and children, streamed across the border into the North Ossetian capital Vladikavkaz in Russia.

The timing — and subterfuge — suggest the unscrupulous Saakashvili was counting on surprise. “Most decision makers have gone for the holidays,” he said in an interview with CNN. “Brilliant moment to attack a small country.” Apparently he was referring to Russia invading Georgia, despite the fact that it was Georgia which had just launched a full-scale invasion of the “small country” South Ossetia, while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was in Beijing for the Olympics. Twenty-seven Russian peacekeepers and troops have been killed and 150 wounded so far, many when their barracks were shelled by Georgian forces at the start of the invasion. Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili rushed to announce that their mini-blitzkreig had destroyed ten Russian combat planes (Russia says two) and that Georgian troops were in full control of the capital Tskhinvali.

Russia’s Defense Ministry denounced the Georgian attack as a “dirty adventure.” From Beijing, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, “It is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia.” He later added, “War has started.” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev vowed that Moscow will protect Russian citizens — most South Ossetians hold Russian passports. The offensive prompted Moscow to send in 150 tanks, to launch air strikes on nearby Gori and military sites, and to order warships to Georgia’s Black Sea coast.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Among many things, the above article goes on to explain that a thousand Israeli military advisers from Israeli security firms have been training the country’s armed forces and were deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to attack and capture the capital of South Ossetia. It's all insane. But you won't read about that little tidbit in your newspaper or hear about it on CNN.


Putin’s War Enablers: Bush and Cheney

by Juan Cole

The run-up to the current chaos in the Caucasus should look quite familiar: Russia acted unilaterally rather than going through the U.N. Security Council. It used massive force against a small, weak adversary. It called for regime change in a country that had defied Moscow. It championed a separatist movement as a way of asserting dominance in a region it coveted.

Indeed, despite George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s howls of outrage at Russian aggression in Georgia and the disputed province of South Ossetia, the Bush administration set a deep precedent for Moscow’s actions — with its own systematic assault on international law over the past seven years. Now, the administration’s condemnations of Russia ring hollow.

Bush said on Monday, responding to reports that Russia might attack the Georgian capital, “It now appears that an effort may be under way to depose [Georgia’s] duly elected government. Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century.” By Wednesday, with more Russian troops on the move and a negotiated cease-fire quickly unraveling, Bush stepped up the rhetoric, announcing a sizable humanitarian-aid mission to Georgia and dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region.

Full article...

How the Democrats Can Blow It ... in Six Easy Steps

Michael Moore's stuff on Amazon

A blueprint for losing the most winnable presidential election in American history

For years now, nearly every poll has shown that the American people are right in sync with the platform of the Democratic Party. They are pro-environment, pro-women's rights and pro-choice. They don't like war. They want the minimum wage raised, and they want a single-payer universal health-care system. The American public agrees with the Republican Party on only one major issue: They support the death penalty.
So you would think the Democrats would be cleaning up, election after election. Obviously not. The Democrats appear to be professional losers. They are so pathetic in their ability to win elections, they even lose when they win! So when you hear Democrats and liberals and supporters of Barack Obama say they are worried that John McCain has a good chance of winning, they ain't a-kidding. Who would know better than the very people who have handed the Republicans one election after another on a silver platter? Yes, be afraid, be very afraid.

Read on...

Peacenik continues to feel queasy as he watches what passes for an election in the U.S. The Swiftboat liars are back with a new book, Obama Nation. Go to Media Matters for a honest deconstruction of this pack lies, distortions and misrepresentations. And yet the MSM treats the book and the author as if he is making an honest contribution to the democratic process.

On the foreign affairs front, the media is falling all over itself in declaring McCain a winner in the Russia - Georgia war. If the public is swayed by McCain's tough talk it is simply another confirmation that the public has been completely brainwashed by 30 years of conservative dominance of the political debate. A candidate can't even admit to being a liberal forchrissakes. Let alone a progressive. The process is broken. It is corrupt. And it breaks and corrupts those that take part in it. But in spite of Peacenik's queasiness he summoned up the fortitude to read and recommend Michael Moore's article on 6 ways Obama can lose the election.


Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?

By Robert Scheer

Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?

Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government who ended his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser.

Previously, Scheunemann was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

There are telltale signs that he played a similar role in the recent Georgia flare-up. How else to explain the folly of his close friend and former employer, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in ordering an invasion of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, an invasion that clearly was expected to produce a Russian counterreaction? It is inconceivable that Saakashvili would have triggered this dangerous escalation without some assurance from influential Americans he trusted, like Scheunemann, that the United States would have his back. Scheunemann long guided McCain in these matters, even before he was officially running foreign policy for McCain’s presidential campaign.

In 2005, while registered as a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Scheunemann worked with McCain to draft a congressional resolution pushing for Georgia’s membership in NATO. A year later, while still on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to that country, where they met with Saakashvili and supported his bellicose views toward Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Full Article...

punditman says...
The article above notes, "What a stark contradiction that the United States, which championed Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, now is ignoring Georgia’s invasion of its ethnically rebellious provinces."

This observation is no surprise to anyone who has ever read Chomsky. In fact, it is the usual hypocritical, propaganda-driven double standard we've come to expect from each and every US administration, obediently parroted by Western media outlets.


There's Something Happening Here

What it is, Is exactly clear

by Peacenik

Peacenik wonders whatever happened to the post cold war peace we were all supposed to enjoy. The world is more chaotic now than at any time for decades, with dangerous conflicts wherever one looks.

The conflict in Georgia raged on while George Bush played beach volleyball at the Olympics and Condoleezza Rice was on vacation and nowhere to be seen. Charitably, she was reported to have made some phone calls. Making phone calls is hard work. Heck of a job, George and Condi.

To help Peacenik try to make sense of what is happening, he read some sites that are noted below. The article from Globalresearch highlights an ominous buildup of US forces in the Persian Gulf. It's hard to believe that this doesn't have some purpose other than burning tons of fuel while tooling around the Gulf.

The posts from Boomantribune, Slate and Dailykos all try to make sense of the Russia -Georgia conflict. There are lots of issues: an oil and gas pipeline to Europe, accusations of Georgian ethnic cleansing in the pro-Russian territory of Ossetia, Bush's empty promise to the Georgians that they would not stand alone on their path to freedom and democracy, Georgia's imminent joining of NATO and Russia's total lack of respect for, and fear of, the near toothless United States.

And in case we forget the origins of Bush's failed foreign policy, there is a new report out from the Rand Corporation that says the US is all wrong in its approach to fighting the war on terror. Read it all, then you and Peacenik will at least have an inkling as to why the world seems to be going to hell.

Oh yeah, and while you're reading, have CNN on in the background and listen to the warmongers and politicians try to outdo each other in demanding an escalation of the conflict. Peace seems to to be an alien concept in the testosterone driven world of what passes for public discourse. That much is clear.


Shoulder Season

by Jim Kunstler

America is on vacation from its financial, fiscal, and economic problems, having left the centers of power in Wall Street and Washington for a Nantucket-of-the-mind, where, in a haze of artisanal vodka and bong smoke, it's out in the cool grass watching imaginary whalefishes blow, leaving only the TV Bubbleheads behind back home. Larry Kudlow of CNBC was practically drooling into his cufflinks on screen when the dollar popped against the Euro, and crude oil slumped, and the equity markets climbed up a flagpole.

This sort of euphoria is actually an alarming pre-crash symptom, in this case of a patient (the US) entering the terminal phase of sclerosis. Our society and all its playerz -- especially the appointed communicators -- just can't fathom the reality of the threats we face, which are 1) the loss of primary energy resources, 2) the loss of technological potency, and 3) the loss of a comfortable standard of living.

Read on...

In a follow-up to Punditman's ATM adventure, which hints at a bleak economic future, Peacenik offers up Jim Kunstler's Monday morning essay, Shoulder Season. Kunstler is the authour of The Long Emergency and his essays are worth reading for the entertaining writing alone. In this brief essay he contemplates the disconnect between the reality of imminent collapse and the cluelessness of the public, which is about to experience the collapse. If you're concerned about the banking system, Wall Street, oil shortages, hurricanes, etc., this modest doom and gloom essay is a great read to start the week with.

Press Calls for War in the Caucasus: The Smell of Propaganda in the Morning



There are two sides bleeding and too many dead in what is hopefully the aftermath of a weekend war in the Caucasus. And right on cue, the prime opinion space for the American mind is being occupied this Monday morning by a propagandist for perpetual war.

"Will Russia get away with it?" asks the beaming columnist for the New York Times, his smile winking at you as if no way he could be talking up death and disaster.

On one side of the world, writes the propagandist, you have "the United States and its democratic allies." On the other side, you'll find "dictatorial and aggressive and fanatical regimes" who "seem happy to work together to weaken the influence of the United States and its democratic allies."

"The United States, of course, is not without resources and allies to deal with these problems and threats," hints the propagandist. "But at times we seem oddly timid and uncertain." Which brings us around to his winking question again: "Will we let Russia get away with it?"

But what if we paraphrase a famous movie hero and remind the propagandist that aggressive is as aggressive does. Then, we may ask, which side of the propagandist's world last Thursday picked up its guns and blasted a path through the Caucasus Mountains to the city of Tskhinvali, killing as many local militia as possible and quite a few others who somehow got in the way?

Full Article...

punditman says...
As usual Big Media are falling right into line in the service of their political masters who think a new Cold War is a neat idea.
Thus, they (Russia)=always Evil
& We (the West and our wonderful allies) =always Good.
Welcome to kindergarten, kids.
Have any of you seen this movie before?


On Diebold and Draft Beer

punditman says...

Like all humans, Punditman requires sustenance. This requires money, or at least the illusion of having it. And like most globalized citizens trying to stay afloat in a sea of chaos and unease, he usually gets it via his ATM access card. (Note: To add a modicum of pleasure and sanity to his hectic life, he is also known to sample local craft beers).

So this morning Punditman drove his broken-down gas-leaking jalopy to his neighbourhood ATM, in an attempt to drive his self further into overdraft. Much to his chagrin, the machine was "temporarily out of service."

It was at this point that he noticed something he had never before observed: he was speaking about himself in the third person! -- just like Tricky Dick Nixon did in his last drunken days in office (and just like Peaecenik does on this blog...hmmm). More to the point: Punditman also noticed the word Dieobold engraved on the ATM machine -- and though he was not yet caffeinated -- he still was awake enough to know this was a bad sign in more ways than one.

For all he knows, Diebold could have been stamped on every ATM machine he has ever used for the last twenty-five years, but being a concept-based learner, Punditman is not known for being all that visually observant, as confirmed by those close to him. He then went to two other ATM locations, only to find the same "out of service" message. It was at this point that Punditman verified a distinct pattern. Punditman now believes that the rot in the US economy has finally spread north and that his bank has actually run out of money. Until such time that cash once again magically flows into his debt-ridden hands through the wonders of drive-through technology, he will keep believing this.

Punditman then waxed philosophical about a bygone era, when the outcome of a Superpower's elections could not be determined by a black box voting system run by corrupt, corporate criminals who just happen to be connected to the corrupt, corporate incumbents in the White House -- and who just happen to run the software and ATM services from which one's very life blood flows.

Punditman also recalled a time when he got his beer money from a bank teller and when he ran out, he had no *overdraft* ;-)


Exclusive: To Provoke War, Cheney considered proposal to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians and shoot at them.

by Faiz
July 31, 2008
Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker, revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President's office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.

Read on...

Peacenik has been busy watching Olympic floor exercises, beach volleyball and some class of sailing. 15 minutes of sailing and still no graphic to tell Peacenik what the sailing class is. And while Peacenik watches sports in which he has zero interest, the Neo-cons never rest from their efforts to start a war. This post from the blog Think Progress tells a scary story. Oh well, the Canadian boat has tacked left and everyone else is going right. Que sera sera.


The Olympics: Unveiling Police State 2.0

by Naomi Klein

So far, the Olympics have been an open invitation to China-bash, a bottomless excuse for Western journalists to go after the Commies on everything from internet censorship to Darfur. Through all the nasty news stories, however, the Chinese government has seemed amazingly unperturbed. That’s because it is betting on this: when the opening ceremonies begin friday, you will instantly forget all that unpleasantness as your brain is zapped by the cultural/athletic/political extravaganza that is the Beijing Olympics.

Like it or not, you are about to be awed by China’s sheer awesomeness

Read on

Peacenik is a little disillusioned with the whole Olympic movement. This story by Naomi Klein paints a picture of a possible future for all of us. So while you're drinking your drinks, and eating your snacks, and marvelling at the grandiose opening of the games.....have a thought about 300,000 surveillance cameras, a police state, widespread arrests, and how all of this...the games and the police state are being brought to you courtesy of a partnership between the Chinese government and public U.S. corporations. But even Peacenik will be sucked into cheering for Canadians once the competition begins. Even Peacenik is a hypocrite.


Why Obama Could be in Trouble

Instead of acting like journalists, the mainstream media have become McCain's personal assistants, regurgitating his B.S. without question.

It might seem unlikely that the United States would elect John McCain to succeed George W. Bush when that would ensure continuation of many unpopular Bush policies: an ill-defined war with the Muslim world, right-wing consolidation of the U.S. Supreme Court, a drill-oriented energy strategy, tax cuts creating massive federal deficits, etc., etc.

Read On...

Why does Peacenik read stories like this that make him feel sick? Peacenik is very sick of the 20 or 30 media types who seem to shape the public's perception of an election campaign. The Cokie Roberts, David Broders and George Wills of the media elite. But there is hope. At least the media has not spent multiple news cycles on the cost of Obama's haircuts. At least the media has not accused Obama of plagiarizing an academic paper. And at least the media hasn't spent weeks speculating on whether or not Obama wears French cuff shirts. There is hope.....there is hope.


Press Release: Ad Hoc Group Against Israeli Attack on Iran

Press Release: August 6, 2008

Ad Hoc Group Against Israeli Attack on Iran

More than 100 hundred Israeli academicians and peace activists have signed the following declaration:

There is no military, political or moral justification to initiate war with Iran

A constant flow of information bears witness to the fact that the Israeli government is seriously considering attacking Iran, in order to disrupt its nuclear plans. We do not disregard irresponsible actions by the Iranian government - we also oppose atomic weapons in principle and support the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the region. However, it is clear that the main source of the immediate danger of a new, widespread war stems from the policies of the Israeli government and the flow of threats from it, backed by provocative military maneuvers.

After serious consideration, we reiterate our position that all the arguments for such an attack are without any security, political or moral justification. Israel might get caught up in an act of adventurism that could endanger our very existence, and this without any serious effort to exhaust the political and diplomatic alternatives to armed conflict.

We are not certain that such an attack will occur. But the very fact that it is being weighed as a reasonable option, makes it imperative that we warn and caution against the destructive results of an offensive strike against Iran.

Coordinating Group:

Prof. Gadi Algazi; Judy Blanc; Prof. Rachel Giora; Prof. Anat Matar; Prof. Adi Ophir; Prof. Yoav Peled; Reuven Kaminer, Prof. Haggai Ram; Prof. Yehuda Shenhav; Prof. Oren Yiftachel

(contact: reuven.kaminer@gmail.com )

punditman says...

Let's hope sanity prevails in Israel and elswhere.


War! (What is it Good For?) - Joan Osborne & Bob Weir

punditman says...What a great soul-felt rendition of the Edwin Starr classic!

Why McCain Has Caught Obama and What Obama Can Do About It

by Cenk Uygur August 4, 2008
There are two principal reasons why John McCain has caught Barack Obama in the national polls. 1) McCain has changed the whole conversation about this election into one question - do you want to vote for or against Obama? This is genius. Obama needs to switch the conversation if he wants to win. 2) Obama has only played defense so far and has not attacked at all. This is weakness and a sure-fire way to lose an election


Peacenik is totally flummoxed by this article by Cenk Uygur. How is it possible that McCain can out poll Obama after Obama's wildly successful trip to the Mideast and Europe. How is it possible that McCain can out poll Obama when McCain's campaign has been a laughing stock and McCain's performance has been incompetent. And how is it possible that a Republican can out poll, even for a day, a Democrat; when this Republican administration has so much baggage; corruption, incompetence, economic disaster, war crimes, impeachable offenses, and on and on. Read Cenk's analysis. Peacenik is very worried about who is pulling the levers in the polling stations. If voters get what they deserve....watch out.


FBI was told to blame Anthrax scare on Al Qaeda by White House officials

WASHINGTON - In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda, but investigators ruled that out, the Daily News has learned.

After the Oct. 5, 2001, death from anthrax exposure of Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, Mueller was "beaten up" during President Bush's morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide.

"They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East," the retired senior FBI official told The News.

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punditman says...
Imagine my shock!