American Antiwar Movement Plans an Autumn Campaign Against Policies on Afghanistan

Peacenik wishes Peacenik had some confidence in the American Antiwar movement. But the war movement is so entrenched, the antiwar movement can barely get any attention. Same thing in Canada.

Right now the warmongers have managed to conflate war with patriotism, war with supporting the troops,and war with security. To criticize the war is to criticize the troops to be anti Canadian/American and to cheer for the terrorists. The media and politicians are fully on side. So even if there is a million protesters out you probably won't hear about it. It's Obama's war now and Obama seems to love being commander in chief. Likewise Stephen Harper loves sending the boys into battle.

by James Dao

A restive antiwar movement, largely dormant since the election of Barack Obama, is preparing a nationwide campaign this fall to challenge the administration’s policies on Afghanistan.

Anticipating a Pentagon request for more troops there, antiwar leaders have engaged in a flurry of meetings to discuss a month of demonstrations, lobbying, teach-ins and memorials in October to publicize the casualty count, raise concerns about the cost of the war and pressure Congress to demand an exit strategy.

Read on...


Dampening Debate

punditman says...
As Peacenik muses about Apocalypse 2012, and the end of whatever, Punditman has been pondering more mundane matters, such as the stifling of debate on all the stuff that we still have to deal with before December 21, 2012.

Punditman thinks that on December 22, 2012, there's a good chance we'll still be dealing with stuff like this. It's the kind of thing that drives punditman bonkers. If you think you live in a free society, then read, watch, listen to, or attend a debate. Any debate. Chances are, you will not get the spectrum of opinion that you would hope a truly free society would offer. The panel discussion I refer to is one that took place at the Brookings Institute on August 25 concerning Afghanistan, and it is summarized by author Robert Dreyfuss. The self-described "nonpartisan public policy organization" presented four panelists who were all hawks. None of them questioned the legitimacy of the war. Only how to win it, and how long it would take. That's a friggin' debate?!

A debate is supposed to involve opposing arguments. To quote Michael Palin in Monty Python's Argument Sketch, "An argument is a collective series of statements intended to establish a proposition." Aparently the so-called "liberal" Brookings Institute is not the right room for an argument.

You might find diversity of opinion in some obscure panel discussion in some back water college somewhere or on some internet radio show that has twenty-seven loyal listeners. Or you may find a bunch of people agreeing with themselves there as well.

The point that punditman is trying to make is that when it comes to the big issues of our times, such as war, terrorism, Iran, civil liberties, swine flu or rising beer prices, you are being bamboozled into a type of fascist groupthink by Big Media and Big Experts from Big Institutes.

Sure there are debates-- fake ones that is, where "opposing" viewpoints are presented, but in reality, it's just a bunch of elitists and politicians screaming over top of one another for entertainment value (afterwards, the rivals can be spotted in the pub next to the studio congratulating each other on their performances and caring nothing of rising beer prices).

As Noam Chomsky and others of his ilk have been saying for years, despite the myth of a free and open "marketplace of ideas," the framework for debate within most democracies has always been relatively narrow when it comes to the big issues, compared to the potential. The reasons have to do with profit, advertising revenue, self-censorship and concentratrion of media ownership. Now this may seem counter-intuitive in the internet age, but punditman intuits that despite the abundance of new media, a narrowing of opinion on crucial matters is more evident than ever before.

Observe the following statements:

The war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity and a noble cause.
Terrorists hate us because of our freedom.
Iran is a monolothic Islamofascist state intent on nuking Israel.
Swine flu is a dangerous pandemic that requires everyone to be vaccinated even if we don't have time to safety-test the vaccine.
Beer prices need to rise because...ummm, rising costs or something...

Whether you agree with any or all of these statements or not, ask yourself whether you think the counterpoint to each of these statements gets a fair shake.

Apocalypse 2012

This is a relief. Peacenik has been thinking that the big collapse was more imminent. But a Mayan phrophecy says Peacenik has a couple of more years to think about the dystopian future. But what really caught Peacenik's attention was the source of this article. Playboy still exists? Peacenik knows Peacenik can be wildly out of touch with some aspects of popular culture but Playboy magazine still exists? If Playboy can survive this long what else will survive? Is there hope? Is this a sign? Hugh Hefner is a great American. Have a good weekend.

by Frank Owen

According to ancient Mayan prophecies, the world will end three short years from now. Earthquakes, pestilence and revolution will bring humanity to its knees. Across the globe, thousands have already begun to prepare.

"For me, being prepared for 2012 is a stress reliever. I spend an average of $200 to $300 per month on my supplies. I’ve been training myself in what I call frontier living—dehydrating, canning, preserving, cooking without modern appliances. Last weekend I started decorating our attic (almost 3,000 square feet) to store my reserve because people I know are getting suspicious of the amount of ‘hurricane’ supplies I keep. I’ll never be Martha Stewart, but I feel very good about the variety and quantity I have amassed. I believe in the three Gs of preparedness: God, guns and groceries.”—Susan Skains, Texas Gulf Coast

Dressed in blue jeans and a red short-sleeve shirt, Steve Pace stands guard atop a bucolic hill on the outskirts of Poplar Bluff in the Missouri bootheel. The scene is as rural as it gets; there’s nothing out here but rolling hills and big sky. A lonely sentinel with a shiny silver revolver strapped to his waist, the retired U.S. Army sergeant scans the wooded horizon with a pair of binoculars for signs of the coming cataclysm. He sees things others don’t—the apocalyptic omens that, he says, are everywhere if you know how to connect the dots.

Read on...

Obama's War: Afghanistan Is Spelled V-I-E-T-N-A-M

Peacenik is sick and tired of Obama's necessary war. Will someone remind Peacenik of why it is necessary? Some terrorists supposedly set up camp in Afghanistan and then may have had some involvement with 911. The terrorists camps were wiped out. Why is it necessary to pacify a county that history tells us cannot be pacified. Another 911 could be orchestrated from any country. Is the U.S. going to invade and occupy any country where a terrorist attack is planned. Face it, terrorists could be in Canada, planning an attack. What's the U.S. going to do?

The terrorist camps no longer exist in Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO and Canada should have exited long ago. The occupation of Afghanistan is not impeding the terrorist cause. But it is helping to bankrupt The U.S. and Canada. That's right, no health care for North America, there are bombs to be dropped. Peacenik says bring the troops home now.

by Dave Lindorff

President Barack Obama has staked his presidency on winning his “necessary” war in Afghanistan. Coming into office, one of his first acts, on Feb. 18, was to boost US troop levels in that country by 17,000, bringing the total number of soldiers and Marines in the country to about 57,000, to which one must also add about 33,000 other soldiers from NATO countries and Australia. That’s 100,000 foreign soldiers fighting against Taliban fighters.

Ominously, even with the new US troops, US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen this month has described the situation in Afghanistan as being “serious and deteriorating.” The Afghani national government—if an organization that is basically confined to the capital city of Kabul and a few other cities can be called a national government, is hopelessly corrupt and ineffective, and a current national election, which US forces sought to “protect” by sending troops to election districts, appears to have been a disaster, plagued by vote rigging and with low turnout.

Read on...


Thoughts on Swine Flu: Again!

punditman says...
Punditman has posted extensively about what he thinks of the swine flu threat and the mass distraction/mass vaccination/mass profit that he suspects is underway. Punditman doesn't understand why folks don't take a more skeptical view of this issue. Perhaps it is still early days.

Or perhaps the truth is too ugly to face. Maybe even uglier than lying about war or economic crises. Maybe people can't get their heads around the idea that global and national government health agencies don't always know what they're talking about, that their data is unreliable or manipulated, that the lack of debate and the near complete blackout of critical viewpoints concerning swine flu is actually a natural occurrance; as with other issues it is part of a bureacratic and media groupthink reminiscent of the herd mentaility in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Moreover, perhaps it is too scary to consider that authorities could put at risk the health of millions through possibly unsafe vaccines while shady corporations with horrible track records make massive profits?

It's no wonder people would rather think otherwise. After all, it is much easier to believe that governments and Big Pharma are putting forth a heroic effort to combat a dangerous pandemic, that their vaccine is necessary and safe, that everything they say and do is in the interest of protecting humanity. And that only wingnut conspiracy theorists would question the way this whole thing has unfolded.

Is swine flu an example of a very big lie? Punditman doesn't know for sure. But read this. Then decide for yourself.

Bankrupt Auto Parts Suppliers Seek $100 Million In Executive Bonuses

How business ever sold to the public the necessity or fairness of obscene executive pay and bonuses is a bit of a mystery. But just like the sheeple will defend their right to not have universal health care, the sheeple will defend the right of executive over-compensation. The media and politicians of course are fully supportive of executive over-compensation. It seems to Peacenik that companies only exist to enrich the managers. The sheeple was silent if there was stock price appreciation. But now we see that these genius managers ran companies into the ground and ripped off the shareholders and the public. Bankrupt companies, propped up by public bailouts, are still handing out bonuses, based on the old discredited rationale, and the sheeple are silent. Peacenik says its time to roll back executive over-compensation, confiscate past over-compenstation, and jail executives who have committed crimes.

by Mish Shedlock

In every corner, greed continues to amaze. Please consider Bankrupt suppliers seek exec bonuses.

A growing number of bankrupt auto suppliers are seeking court approval to pay tens of millions of dollars in bonuses to key executives, as they shed employees and cut costs.

Some of the bonuses have come under sharp criticism from General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., as well as the trustees named by the Justice Department to monitor bankruptcy cases.

"Considering the condition of the automotive industry and the adverse effect on auto suppliers, it is unclear why payments are even needed to retain employees who may have limited options to find employment elsewhere," said Diana G. Adams, the U.S. trustee in objecting to a plan by Lear Corp.

Read on...


Company Cleared To Test Swine Flu Vaccine Fighting Off Liquidation

Peacenik is not anti flu vaccine. Peacenik has gotten the regular flu vaccine for years. But Peacenik really will ponder whether to take a swine flu vaccine, if there is one. The company is in bankruptcy? That inspires confidence. Plus the timeline in this story suggests this vaccine will miss this flu season in any case. Of course regulators can always cut corners. Why not. To much regulation stiffles innovation, and progress, and crime, and the rip-off of the public. Will there be a flu vaccine this fall for swine flu? Will it be properly tested? Do you trust the government to protect your interests? Will you take the vaccine if there is one? Will Peacenik? Will Punditman?

By Jacqueline Palank

As a new White House report raises the possibility that up to 50% of the U.S. population could contract swine flu this season, one drug maker has come a step closer to distributing a vaccine. That is, if the involuntary bankruptcy filing against it doesn’t get in the way.

Protein Sciences Corp., of Meriden, Conn., is a privately held vaccine maker that last week won federal approval to kick off clinical trials of its vaccine for the H1N1, or swine flu, virus, the Hartford Courant reported. That means Protein Sciences’ PanBlok vaccine will be tested on humans as soon as the next few weeks. Such trials have already started in Australia, where winter - and flu season - are underway.

Read on...

Daily Kos Sun's Magnetic Field Fading, No One Knows Why

Regular readers will know that Peacenik give great credence to many potential problems society faces. Swine flu. The economy. Food shortages. Peak oil. Global warming. Corruption. War. Incompetence. The price of beer. And on and on. Some correspondents wonder how Peacenik can sleep at night. Now Peacenik comes across this nugget, the sun's fading magnetic field. Peacenik doesn't even know what it means. But Peacenik thinks it portends doom. Peacenik thinks it is bad news. Peacenik wonders how many more problems the earth and mankind can cope with. Or will this in some perverse way be a positive? Maybe. Nobody knows. Peacenik is encouraged. Peacenik is an optimist.

by FishOutofWater

Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 05:07:32 PM PDT

Normal sunspot on left. Recent solar pore - sunspot with a weak magnetic field - on right.

The solar wind is the lowest ever measured, the sun has had most spotless days in 100 years, and the solar magnetic field is inexplicably fading away.

By National Solar Observatory FishOutofWater

(On the right) An image consisting only of pores—weak sunspots with no penumbral structure—taken from the (SOHO) spacecraft on 11 January 2009; this is an example of what is observed today at solar minimum.

* FishOutofWater's diary :: ::

NASA solar physicist David Hathaway discovered in 2006 that the sun's "Great Conveyor Belt" had slowed to the lowest rates ever measured. This slowing portends for a very inactive solar cycle in the cycle after the coming cycle.

Read on...

Scott Horton Interviews Gareth Porter

punditman says...Punditman is back and he has noticed that Afghanistan is headlining the news a lot lately. The war is going badly; the election a mess. As usual, Scott Horton and Gareth Porter help cut through the fog.

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for Inter Press Service, discusses how Afghan election violence is a portent of things to come, Hamid Karzai’s lead in the “vote for me or I’ll burn down your house” category, Afghan warlords preparing to stuff ballot boxes and how U.S. claims that Iran is supplying arms to Iraq ignore the vibrant Middle East black market.

MP3 here. (27:37)

Gareth Porter is an independent historian and journalist. His articles appear on the Huffington Post, Inter Press Service News Agency and on Antiwar.com.

Beer price hikes are brewing

Peacenik does not think this is the time to raise beer prices. Peacenik never thinks it is time to raise beer prices. What happened to deflation? Do you raise prices in a depression? Peacenik will continue to monitor beer prices.


By Jerry Hirsch

August 26, 2009

Here's some sobering news: Beer prices are going up.

The nation's two largest beer sellers said Tuesday that they planned to raise prices, although they provided few specifics.

"We feel like we will take a moderate price increase on our portfolio," said Peter Marino, spokesman for Chicago-based MillerCoors, maker of Miller Lite, Coors Light and Blue Moon. He blamed higher costs for the price hike.

Read on...


Financial Crisis Called Off

Peacenik was a peripheral guest at an extravagant wedding on Sunday. It gave Peacenik a chance to see how the barons of Wall St. and Bay St. actually spend their money. Peacenik thinks they waste it, but I guess stimulating the flower shops in the Bay of Quinte helps some folks out. Just like buying a beer at the pub, but on a slightly different scale. Maybe the recession is over. Hell Peacenik had lobster and salmon for dinner and the steaks were 3 inches think. Is the recession over? Kunstler in this piece below doesn't think so. And neither does Peacenik. Walking to the wedding alter on a rose petal path may feel good, but you can't eat rose petals.


by Jim Kunstler

Whew, what a relief! Everybody from Ben Bernanke and a Who's Who of banking poobahs schmoozing it up in the heady vapors of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to the dull scribes at The New York Times, toiling in their MC Escher hall of mirrors, to poor dim James Surowiecki over at The New Yorker, to - wonder of wonders! - the Green Shoots claque at the cable networks, to the assorted quants, grinds, nerds, pimps, factotums, catamites, and cretins in every office from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the International Monetary Fund - every man-Jack and woman-Jill around the levers of power and opinion weighed in last week with glad tidings that the world's capital finance system survived what turned out to be a mere protracted bout of heartburn and has been reborn as the Miracle Bull economy. Our worries over. If you believe their bullshit. Which I don't.

All this goes to show is how completely the people in charge of things in the USA have lost their minds. They seem to think this mass exercise in pretend will resurrect the great march to the WalMarts, to the new car showrooms, and the cul-de-sac model houses, reignite another round of furious sprawl-building, salad-shooter importing, and no-doc liar-lending, not to mention the pawning off of innovative, securitized stinking-carp debt paper onto credulous pension funds in foreign lands where due diligence has never been heard of, renew the leveraged buying-out of zippy-looking businesses by smoothies who have no idea how to run them (and no real intention of doing it, anyway), resuscitate the construction of additional strip malls, new office park "capacity" and Big Box "power centers," restart the trade in granite countertops and home theaters, and pack the turnstiles of Walt Disney world - all this while turning Afghanistan into a neighborhood that Beaver Cleaver would be proud to call home.

By the way - and please pardon the rather sharp digression - but does anybody know if they buried Michael Jackson yet? It's only been a couple of months. And, if not, is that the stench now wafting across the purple mountains' majesty from sea-to-shining sea? Isn't it a little indecent to keep the poor fellow waiting? Or is a really surprising comeback secretly planned, with product tie-ins and all?

Read on


Stranded, abandoned, abroad

Punditman just texted Peacenik and asked Peacenik to post this article. Peacenik doesn't have time to comment.

From Mexico to Nairobi, they wait in vain for help from 'amateur-hour' Canadian officials
Canadians travel at their own risk

Aug 22, 2009 04:30 AM

Linda Diebel

Anab Issa's 25-year-old autistic son, Abdihakim Mohamed, is stuck halfway around the world in Nairobi, Kenya, stateless and without proper care, while she fights to prove he's a Canadian citizen so she can bring him home.

Sound familiar? It's yet another story of a lost Canadian, among scores abandoned by the federal government and dumped among the world's stateless pariahs.

It's been a frustrating, multi-year battle for Issa, and she's terrified for her son's safety. A big man who can turn aggressive when frightened, he's been bloodied by street gangs and harassed by police in Nairobi. "If you run, they shoot at you," she says.

Read on...

Watching Myths Unwind

This article gave Peacenik a slightly different take on the media and political leadership's seemingly willful ignorance of reality. Is it possible they really do believe the myths propping up America? Maybe. Or they don't believe them but can't imagine any other course of action other than trying to get the status quo back. Leaders don't preserve the status quo. Losers do.

by Dan Bednarz, PhD

A few generations from now our descendants will wonder, “What took them so long to figure out that we’d reached the limits to growth?” The answer, of course, is that growth is the core of the myth holding the American psyche together. If it’s false, what’s the meaning of “life, the universe, everything?”

Karen Armstrong writes:
“We are meaning-seeking creatures. Dogs, as far as we know, do not agonise about the canine condition, worry about the plight of dogs in other parts of the world, or try to see their lives from a different perspective. But human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a larger setting, that revealed an underlying pattern, and gave us a sense that, against all the depressing and chaotic evidence to the contrary, life had meaning and value.”

Read on...


Is Michelle Obama showing too much skin?

Is there any hope for the U.S. media, or Canada's for that matter? This story is on the front page of the Toronto Star. (online version). Is there any hope for countries that, in the midst of several wars, and the worst economic crisis since the 1920's, deem this newsworthy. There is no hope. Even if Michelle was wearing short shorts, which she is not, this is not newsworthy. The media is sick. Is Peacenik sick for getting sucked into posting this story?

First lady pushes envelope with thigh-baring outfit


Aug 21, 2009 04:30 AM


Michelle Obama has firmly established her sartorial right to bare arms. But baring thighs may be another matter.

Photographs of the first lady descending the steps of Air Force One in shorts have the media in a sweat. Some are saying Michelle Obama, on her way to the Grand Canyon for a family vacation, may have revealed too much skin.

Obama is no stranger to public scrutiny over her fashion choices, such as exposing her bare arms or wearing expensive sneakers to a soup kitchen. When Huffington Post style editor Anya Strzemien saw Obama's shorts, she knew there would be interest.

Read on...

Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs

Peacenik thinks this overview from Paul Craig Roberts is on the mark. The unanswered question is "what happens when more and more formerly affluent middle class Americans become serfs?" Americans are happy, and loyal, and patriotic because they don't view themselves as serfs. They think they are the masters of the universe. Poor Americans are out on the streets demanding that their right to not have access to healthcare be protected. But as more and more sheeple slip into serfdom Peacenik thinks there will be trouble and violence. When the American dream goes poof, there are going to be a lot of angry sheeple.


by Paul Craig Roberts

“In a little time [there will be] no middling sort. We shall have a few, and but a very few Lords, and all the rest beggars.” R.L. Bushman

“Rapidly you are dividing into two classes--extreme rich and extreme poor.” “Brutus”

Americans think that they have “freedom and democracy” and that politicians are held accountable by elections. The fact of the matter is that the US is ruled by powerful interest groups who control politicians with campaign contributions. Our real rulers are an oligarchy of financial and military/security interests and AIPAC, which influences US foreign policy for the benefit of Israel.

Have a look at economic policy. It is being run for the benefit of large financial concerns, such as Goldman Sachs.

Read on...


Dirty work

Peacenik made it back to civilization. Peacenik spent a lot of time staring at the lake and thinking about the problems that Peacenik enjoys thinking about. Peacenik saw lots of very big very expensive boats towing kids around on tubes and skis. And lots of happy consumers bombing back and forth up and down the lake on personal water devices. When Peacenik ventured into town the lineups at the beerstore and grocery store and baitshop were long. The town was packed with consumers. Peacenik realized how easy it is to adopt a new reality. Escapism. Peacenik was escaping too. A bit of escapism is good.

Now Peacnik is back to getting emails from Peacenik's emplower about plans for dealing with swine flu. And Peaceik is reading about problems with the economy. And listening to the traffic outside Peacenik's basement bedroom window. And Peacnik is reading about the fraudulent elections in Afghanistan. Maybe escapism is the new reality. The financiers on Wall Street, the happy consumers in the pub, the remaining autoworkers, the politicians all escaping. Can escapism fuel a new economy? Can escapism cure swine flu? Can escapism fund Peacenik's pension. Is escapism the answer? Or are fractals?

by Garth Turner


Yesterday I wrote a little about countries that export their primary jobs. You know the kind – the work that came before the work most of us do now. Designing and making things. Growing stuff. Processing materials. Jobs with tangible results.

Lately leaders’ heads have been jammed with globalization thoughts. The result has been a migration of historic proportions. Factories close in southern Ontario and open in that huge industrial park outside Shanghai. Even call centres in Mumbai replace ones in New Brunswick. Our largest industrial corporations, the car companies, stagger in and out of bankruptcy. And the biggest corporation of all, Wal-Mart, becomes the largest employer in North America. What do the people there work at?

Yeah. Selling things made in China.

Read on...


Both Punditman and Peacenik on Vacation

punditman says...that Punditman is at the cottage. In the meantime, Peacenik is still in the wilderness, at Peacenik's compound. This leaves nobody in charge of the blog. Peacenik should return to posting before Punditman does, possibly by the end of the week. Maybe.


How Harperites are damaging our citizenship

punditman says...

A lot of stupid comments follow this article in the Toronto Star, if you get that far. This woman's freedom was stolen from her for almost three months, and some wingnuts still want to blame the victim. Punditman heard a call-in radio show the other day whereby people recalled their nightmare stories of misfortune when traveling abroad, and the "I don't give a damn" reception they got at Canadian embassies. Scary stuff. We only hear about the high profile ones, but stories abound of traveling Canadians befallen by misfortune abroad (such as being robbed and losing one's passport) and falling into a bureacratic black hole of indifference. Who the hell do these people think they are working for, if not us, the citizenry?

And that's to say nothing of Maher Arar or the horrors of extraodinary rendition. Or several other cases that punditman doesn't have time to list.

Governments are nasty pieces of business in this post 9-11, fear-driven world. Encoraching fascism is real.

This event is yet another example of the kind of brash cruelty we've come to expect from our politicians. Clearly, the Canadian government doesn't give a damn about its citizens anymorewhether they travel to the ends of the earth or to the end of their street. May she sue the Canadian and Kenyan governments and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines big time.


Welcome home, Suaad Hagi Mohamud.

Her case has raised a host of questions. First, who's to blame for her 11-week ordeal? The officials at the Canadian embassy in Nairobi? Or the politicians in Ottawa?

If the former, would some bureaucratic heads roll?

If the latter, as has been the case in several incidents of Canadians stranded abroad, the Stephen Harper government has a lot to answer for: Is it racist? Anti-Muslim? Too ideological? Prone to micromanagement? Or just plain incompetent?

Whatever the reason(s), why have the Tories been so tin-eared to so much public outrage in this regard? Or is there a method to their madness, namely, that they ignore public opinion because they only care about catering to their core constituency of Conservatives?

Finally and more broadly, what responsibility does the federal government, regardless of the party in power, have toward citizens imperilled abroad?

Keep Reading...


The Dead: Into The Mystic, Rothbury, Michigan. 7-4-09.

punditman says...Punditman wishes that Punditman had been at the Rothbury Festival last month. It's the weekend. It's the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Enjoy some music.


When the Dead Have No Say

punditman says...In today's Toronto Star, army groupie, Rosie Dimanno, who, by recollection, never met a military intervention she didn't applaud, paints a fairly rosy picture of the new Canadian/US/NATO strategy in Afghanistan. The article outlines the admitted problems with the previous undermanned strategy, but now that the Yanks have landed in big numbers, we are led to believe that things are looking up! It's all thanks to a new "...strategic shift ordered by U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan, which puts the emphasis on populated areas in order to separate the Taliban from the people." Just train up those Afghan army units, and stability is on the way.

Sure, in the
year 2525.

Unfortunately, with their whack-a-mole strategy, the Yanks have proven—from Vietnam to Iraq—to be piss-poor imperialists. What makes any rational observer think they will somehow get it right in Afghanistan of all places—graveyard of empires? The US and NATO can neither win nor lose in Afghanistan. Is endless war something to cheer about? Don't ask the dead.

by Norman Solomon

Official Washington is buzzing about "metrics." Can the war in Afghanistan be successful?

Don’t ask the dead.

Days ago, under the headline "White House Struggles to Gauge Afghan Success," a New York Times story made a splash. "As the American military comes to full strength in the Afghan buildup, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with a long-promised plan to measure whether the war is being won."

Don’t ask the dead. They don’t count.

The Times article went on: "Those ‘metrics’ of success, demanded by Congress and eagerly awaited by the military, are seen as crucial if the president is to convince Capitol Hill and the country that his revamped strategy is working."

Don’t ask the dead. They won’t have a say.

Keep Reading...


History Never Ends: I Hate to Bother You

punditman says...Ever feel like we live in an arse over tea kettle world? You are not alone. Here are some questions that rarely pierce the matrix.


I’d like to share with you some questions--some flies that keep buzzing in my head.

Is justice right side up?

Has world justice been frozen in an upside-down position?

The shoe-thrower of Iraq, the man who hurled his shoes at Bush, was condemned to three years in prison. Doesn’t he deserve, instead, a medal?

Who is the terrorist? The hurler of shoes or their recipient? Is not the real terrorist the serial killer who, lying, fabricated the Iraq war, massacred a multitude, and legalized and ordered torture?

Who are the guilty ones--the people of Atenco, in Mexico, the indigenous Mapuches of Chile, the Kekchies of Guatemala, the landless peasants of Brazil—all being accused of the crime of terrorism for defending their right to their own land? If the earth is sacred, even if the law does not say so, aren’t its defenders sacred too?

According to Foreign Policy Magazine, Somalia is the most dangerous place in the world. But who are the pirates? The starving people who attack ships or the speculators of Wall Street who spent years attacking the world and who are now rewarded with many millions of dollars for their pains?

Why does the world reward its ransackers?

Keep Reading...


Different Stories

punditman says...As promised, Punditman is trying to fill Peacenik's shoes while Peacenik is off in the wilderness at Peacenik's compound learning how to make dandelion tea or wine or whatever he feels will help him in the near-to-medium-to-long-term-to-weird future.

Since Peacenik usually covers the Ilargi front, Punditman offers up this rather bleak picture of the so-called economic recovery. Punditman is not sure what to think, but Punditman tends to think things are going to get weird in America and most places in the not-to-distant future. It is hard to dispute the following figures: 25% of US homeowners will be underwater by 2010, and 30% by 2011 (or, according to the Deutsche Bank, 50% by 2011). Punditman was just reading another article that says tent cities are appearing all over America, full of homeless unemployed. Please let me know if you are reading this on your laptop in your tent, because, while Punditman surely knows about the tent cities, Punditman would not get a reminder of this by turning on Punditman's television, would Punditman? Punditman tries not to turn on his television lately.

Meanwhile the Obama administration is spending $1 billion to build a mega-embassy in Pakistan (not to be out-done by Dubya who did the same in Iraq). At the same time, by Christmas, 1.5 million Americans will have run out of unemployment benefits while unemployment continues to rise. When in doubt, time for some more Pentagon socialism to the tune of a $636 billion defense bill. It is hard to understand how any recovery based on reality can happen amidst all this. Here's Ilargi.

Ilargi: Right. So government spending, as we've of course mentioned before, is going through roofs never dreamt of until recently. The request for a higher government debt ceiling is but one of the many signs of this. One that may be far more important is the roles played by Ginnie Mae and the FHA, roles that both have been stealthily increased by stunning percentages since the present administration took office.

The idea, undoubtedly, is to take all that's bad and suspect on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's elusive books, wrap it up in glitzy fancy gift paper, and throw it in a vault somewhere that still has space left on top of or beneath the toxic paper it already holds. And sure, it will look good at the surface. Just propose an opaque bad bank construction for Fannie and Freddie, so you can keep hiding the losses from view, and continue the policies that led to their inevitable demise through other (semi-private) enterprises.

There's something terribly wrong here. And since it threatens to transfer additional trillions of dollars in losses to the taxpayer, that taxpayer had better beware.

Somewhere behind these ideas is the faith that the economy, and hence home prices, will rise again. It's slightly reminiscent of Hank Paulson claiming 11 months ago that the taxpayer would actually make a healthy profit off the TARP rescues. That went well, didn’t it? We’re all much better off.

Keep Reading...


Chris Hedges "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle"

punditman says...This is an interesting interview with Pullitzer prize-winning author Chris Hedges. The signs of inverted totalitarianism (where politics is subordinate to economics) are everywhere. Toss in the modern obsessions with celebrity and consumerism, and you can see why democracy has been subverted. As for the American empire, Hedges observes that a culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion dies.


punditman says...Many of you may have noticed the absence of Peacenik. You would be right; he is off in the wilderness once again training for the collapse of everythingand vacationing at the same time until the 20th. In the meantime, Punditman will try to fill Peacenik's shoes. Punditman has trouble finding a pair of tennis shoes to fit Punditman's quirky feet, so filling two people's shoes simultaneously should prove challenging.

I'll give it a shot.

The article below is a good place place to start, because it deals with several crises all at once: President Obama's escalating war in Afghanistan, the threat of war with Iran, the collapse of the "bailout bubble" and finally, the mother of all bubble burstings, the collapse of the American hyper-power empire. That outta keep your neurons firing for awhile.

The Celente thesis: war as the "solution" to economic depression
by Justin Raimondo

An American president is launching the most ambitious, the most expensive, and certainly the most dangerous military campaign since the Vietnam War – and the antiwar movement, such as it is, is missing in action. After a long and bloody campaign in Iraq and the election of a U.S. president pledged to get us out, our government is once again revving up its war machine and taking aim at yet another "terrorist" stronghold, this time in Afghanistan. Yet the antiwar movement’s motor seems stuck in the wrong gear, making no motions toward mounting anything like an effective protest. What gives?

We shouldn’t doubt the scope of the present war effort. Make no mistake: the Obama administration is radically ramping up the stakes in the "war on terrorism," which, though renamed, has not been revised downward, as the Washington Post reports:

"As the Obama administration expands U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, military experts are warning that the United States is taking on security and political commitments that will last at least a decade and a cost that will probably eclipse that of the Iraq war."

There are always "warnings" in the beginning, aren’t there? For some reason, however, they are never heeded. Instead, we just barrel ahead, undaunted, into the tall grass where ambush awaits us. War opponents predicted the Iraq invasion would prove unsustainable – and we were right. We said that, far from greeting us with cheers and showers of roses, the Iraqis would soon be shooting at us and demanding our ouster – and we were right. We said the rationale for war was based on a series of carefully manufactured and marketed lies – and that was the truth, now wasn’t it? Yet it seems we are caught in an endlessly repetitive nightmare, where the same prophetic voices are being drowned out by a chorus of "responsible" voices – to be followed by an all-too-familiar disaster.

The problem, however, is that the scale of these disasters seems to be increasing exponentially. As Gerald Celente, one of the few economic forecasters who predicted the ‘08 crash, put it the other day, "Governments seem to be emboldened by their failures." What the late Gen. William E. Odom trenchantly described as "the worst strategic disaster in American military history" – the invasion of Iraq – is being followed up by a far larger military operation, one that will burden us for many years to come. This certainly seems like evidence in support of the Celente thesis, and the man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash, the fall of the Soviet Union, the dot-com bust, the gold bull market, the 2001 recession, the real estate bubble, the “Panic of ‘08,” and now is talking about the inevitable popping of the "bailout bubble," has more bad news:

"Given the pattern of governments to parlay egregious failures into mega-failures, the classic trend they follow, when all else fails, is to take their nation to war."

As the economic crisis escalates and the debt-based central banking system shows it can no longer re-inflate the bubble by creating assets out of thin air, an economic and political rationale for war is easy to come by; for if the Keynesian doctrine that government spending is the only way to lift us out of an economic depression is true, then surely military expenditures are the quickest way to inject "life" into a failing system. This doesn’t work, economically, since the crisis is only masked by the wartime atmosphere of emergency and "temporary" privation. Politically, however, it is a lifesaver for our ruling elite, which is at pains to deflect blame away from itself and on to some "foreign" target.

Keep Reading...


CNN Poll: US Support for Afghan War Plummeting

punditman says...Perhaps there is hope after all. Americans are waking up to a new/old quagmire: "Oh yeah. ..Afghanistan, thanks for reminding us, Mr. President. We think it's a mess. Please tell us when we can leave." Obama may find himself in Lyndon Johnson's shoes soon enough. Instead of, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?", try this: "Hey, hey, Barak, how many kids did you zap today?"

Where do Canadians stand on the ongoing debacle? Has anyone seen a recent poll lately?

By Jason Ditz


Following July’s record death tolls, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll shows that US popular support for the war is also at an all-time low, with 54 percent of respondents opposed to the ongoing war and 41 percent in favor.

This was a monumental change from the May version of the same poll. which showed 50 percent in favor of the war and only 48 percent against. President Obama has made escalating the war the centerpiece of his foreign policy campaign.

The finding was largely in keeping with an AP-GfK poll released late last month, which also showed growing opposition to both wars, and a 53-44 percent split on the Afghan war. This poll too showed a strong split along party lines, with most Republicans supporting the continued conflict and the vast majority of Democrats opposed.

While opposition to the Iraq War has been significant for years, it is only recently that opinion on the nearly eight-year long Afghan conflict is starting to shift. Ironically, it is perhaps President Obama’s desire to escalate the war that has made it significant enough to catch the attention of an increasing number of Americans, and sparked the growing war exhaustion the polls are now showing.

How Is America Going To End?

Peacenik just came across this game and Peacenik is afraid Peacenik is going to spend all day playing it. It is fun. "Choose Your Own Apocalypse." How could it not be fun? Peacenik played a quick initial game, without looking at all the squares. In game one Peacenik turned out to be a "anthropocentric pragmatist". Play along with Peacenik and tell Peacenik what you were in the game in the comments. By the way, Peacenik choose "peak water", "peak oil", "dirty bombs", "obesity" and "internal guerilla warfare" in game one. Back to "choose your own apocalypse". Have a good weekend.

By Josh Levin

"Choose your own Apocalypse" lets you map out the death of the United States.

If and when America expires, we probably won't agree on the cause of death. For proof that autopsies of empires are inconclusive, consider the case of Alexander Demandt, the German historian who set out in the 1980s to collect every theory ever given for why Rome fell. The final tally: 210, including attacks by nomads on horseback, blood poisoning, decline of Nordic character, homosexuality, outflow of gold, and vaingloriousness.

In tribute to Demandt, I've gone looking for every possible reason why America could fall. I've paged through the work of scholars who have studied the characteristics of declining and failed societies. I also collected theories from futurists, doomsayers, separatists, economists, political scientists, national security experts, climatologists, geologists, astronomers, and a few miscellaneous crazy people. The result: a collection of 144 potential causes of America's future death.

Read on...

Update: Peacenik is addicted. Peacenik goes cold turkey. This is Peacenik's final game. Peacenik hopes. Peacenik doesn't even like online, electronic games. In this final game the result is: "You are a humanitarian internationalist. You're convinced mankind will terminate America—but at least we won't off ourselves in the process. You'll know you're right when: Everyone on Earth pledges allegiance to a world government; the feds default on the national debt." Peacenik chose: China unloads U.S. treasuries, default on debt, deficit spending, state bankruptcies, and FDIC fails. This game comes from Slate's website. The leading causes of Apocalypse on Slate's website are: Loose Nukes, peak oil, Israel-Arab war, China unloads U.S. treasuries, and obesity.

Peacenik repeats, "this is Peacenik's final game."


Honduran Coup: The US Connection

As you read this story you will recognize all the crazies from the last 30 years of Latin American unrest who were probably involved in the Honduran coup. Peacenik did. And what is really scary is that these crazies are entrenched in American politics, society, academia, and military. And lets not forget the media. The media treats these fascist nutjobs with deference. Opus Dei might have been involved. Supreme Court Justice Scalia is a member of Opus Dei. That's right folks. Being a fascist,or a member of an extreme right wing organization doesn't dis-entitle you from participating in American leadership. It is probably an asset. Hell, it's probably a requirement.

Honduran Coup protest

by Conn Hallinan

While the Obama administration was careful to distance itself from the recent coup in Honduras — condemning the expulsion of President Manuel Zelaya to Costa Rica, revoking Honduran officials' visas, and shutting off aid — that doesn't mean influential Americans aren't involved, and that both sides of the aisle don't have some explaining to do.

The story most U.S. readers are getting about the coup is that Zelaya — an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — was deposed because he tried to change the constitution to keep himself in power.

That story is a massive distortion of the facts. All Zelaya was trying to do is to put a non-binding referendum on the ballot calling for a constitutional convention, a move that trade unions, indigenous groups, and social activist organizations had long been lobbying for. The current constitution was written by the Honduran military in 1982, and the one-term limit allows the brass-hats to dominate the politics of the country. Since the convention would have been held in November, the same month as the upcoming presidential elections, there was no way Zelaya could have remained in office in any case. The most he could have done was to run four years from now.

Read on...

Obama Pentagon Plans Speeding Up 'Bunker Buster' Bomb

So on the one hand we've got some modest overtures to Iran on the negotiating front. And on the other hand we've got the steady drumbeat for war from the neocons. Peacenik thought he read somewhere that Obama wants a nuclear free world. Then why is Obama continuing to develop the weapon that George Bush created, and that caused the U.S. to abrogate the nuclear non-proliferation treaty? Peacenik thinks Obama is keeping the neocons happier than he is keeping the peacemakers. Why does Obama care more about the neocons? Why? Why?

Agence France Presse

[Boeing's 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator. The US Defense Department on Monday said it wants to speed up production plans for the enormous "bunker buster" bomb.]Boeing's 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator. The US Defense Department on Monday said it wants to speed up production plans for the enormous "bunker buster" bomb.

WASHINGTON - The US military said on Monday it wants to speed up production plans for an enormous "bunker buster" bomb, amid international concern over underground nuclear sites in Iran and North Korea.

The Pentagon has asked Congress for extra money to ensure the massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) would be ready by July 2010, spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

"The department has asked for reprogramming of about 68 million dollars to start production for some of these in 2009," Whitman said.

"This will help it accelerate some if it's approved."

Read on...


Protests as US Air Strike Kills Four Civilians in Afghanistan’s Kandahar

punditman says... A glimpse of reality: the sheeple's governments continue to kill and maim innocent people halfway across the world in an ill-fated war and for no damn good reason. But don't worry, sheeple. NATO has once again promised to investigate. You can get back to your fake reality (show) now.

By Jason Ditz


Residents of Kohat Village in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province marched into Kandahar City with the bodies of four civilians, including three children, to protest their killings in an overnight US Air Strike. The four were relatives, three brothers and an adult cousin.

Witnesses say that a helicopter attacked the four in their sleep. Another brother and the father of the cousin were also wounded in the strike on the family’s compound. The US denied any knowledge of the incident but claimed that four “insurgents” had been killed in the area.

The father of the slain children, who was among the protesters, said two missiles were fired at his home, and asked “what was the fault of my innocent children? They were not Taliban.”

Such incidents have become all too common as the international military effort in Afghanistan has escalated, but this one is particularly embarrassing as it came during the visit of new NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, an advocate of continung the war. NATO has promised to investigate the incident.

DNC Goes All In: Denounces Right Wing Angry Mob [Video]

Remember the extreme right wing conspiracy of Bill Clinton's day. Turns out there was one. And there is one. They same wingnuts who financed Jennifer Jones and Troopergate are financing these mobs trying to disrupt health care town hall meetings. Peacenik never would have believed that John Kerry's military service would become a liability for him. But the swiftboaters succeeded. And now we have goofballs chanting to save their non-existent healthcare from a socializing Obama. By the Way when Lou Dobbs reported this story last night he smirked and suggested it was just people expressing their democratic right. And CNN has refused to carry Media Matters ads attacking Lou Dobbs for his support of the 'birther' fringe. Will mobs shut down health care town hall meetings? Will the media report this as anything other than paid agents of the right wing? Is the health care debate getting turned upside down? Right now it looks to Peacenik like any reasonable healthcare reform is looking most unlikely.

Healthcare town hall protesters

Share this on Twitter - DNC Goes All In: Denounces Right Wing Angry Mob [Video]

Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 08:35:56 PM PDT

Wow. I don't know what to say. This is one of the most hard-hitting ads I've ever seen. It just lays it all out there. No punches pulled. No insuination. Just a full-bore attack. This ad will leave your mouth gaping for sure. It is important to note this is a WebAd, and as such is probably more to get play on cable outlets, than to pay to have it run. Still, given this ad fires with both barrels, it's likely we'll be seeing this on air for the next couple of days.

Read on...

The Scope -- and Dangers -- of GE's Control of NBC and MSNBC

This is a complex story. Illustrative of a simple fact. You cannot trust anything you see or hear on tv or read in the newspapers. The media is corrupt. And the media has a corporate slant. The media is in thrall to conservative/republican ideology. The media willfully participates in the brainwashing of society.

So how does Peacenik get information that Peacenik can trust? How does Punditman? How do you? Peacenik isn't sure. Watch any newscast. Pick any story. And think about who is telling the story and why. Filter it. And filter it again. Were the 3 Americans arrested in Iran really only hiking. Peacenik doesn't know. But it doesn't sound plausible does it?

But back to GE. They told Keith Olbermann to stop picking on FOX news and Bill O'Reilly. In return FOX would stop reporting negatively about GE. GE is the company whose financing arm GE Financial is bankrupt and received a huge taxpayer funded bailout. And of course GE is a huge component of the military industrial complex. Read Greenwald's analysis. Is the corporate media doing their job? Do you trust it? Peacenik doesn't.


by Gleen Greenwald

I want to return to the subject of GE's silencing of Keith Olbermann both because there are new facts I've obtained that shed light on what happened here and because this is one of the most blatant examples yet of pernicious corporate control over America's journalism. The most striking aspect of this episode is that GE isn't even bothering any longer to deny the fact that they exert control over MSNBC's journalism. They've brazenly dispensed with the long-held fiction of the sanctity of journalistic independence from interference by the corporate parents that own America's largest news organizations.

Instead, GE is now openly and proudly boasting of their editorial control over the news organizations they own, and publicly rubbing it in the faces of NBC News journalists that they're subservient to GE's corporate agenda. Look at this smug, creepy quote from GE executive spokesman Gary Sheffer explaining in The New York Times why GE issued its gag order preventing Olbermann from criticizing Fox and O'Reilly, all but mocking NBC and MSNBC journalists as nothing more than GE's office of corporate spokespeople:

"We all recognize that a certain level of civility needed to be introduced into the public discussion," Gary Sheffer, a spokesman for G.E., said this week. "We’re happy that has happened."

Read on...


Scott Horton Interviews Eric Stoner

punditman says...The Afghan War is going badly. The peace movement is going badly too; here is some analysis on what to do.

Eric Stoner, freelance journalist based in New York, discusses the use of nonviolence to force political changes, the decline in the antiwar movement after Obama’s election, the need for more creative and assertive protests, the replacement of soldiers with remote controlled robots and why there is no such thing as a humanitarian war.

MP3 here. (30:25)

Keeping Their Eggs in Their Backyard Nests

Peacenik has been promoting self sufficiency for a while. Urban gardens. Foraging. Solar heat. Getting off the grid. Burying money in your back yard. All kinds of stuff to help you in the dark days ahead. But Peacenik is also a little alarmed by the cavalier attitude of a lot of backyard chicken farmers. Seems everyone wants to get in on the act. Peacenik merely wants to point out once again that bird flu, H1N5, got started in countries where humans and poultry live in close proximity. You might think having some chickens in your backyard is cool, but Peacenik says check out the cost of a bio-hazard suit first.

Published: August 3, 2009
As Americans struggle through a dismal recession, many are trying to safeguard themselves from what they fear will be even worse times ahead. They eat out less often. They take vacations closer to home. They put off buying new cars.

And some raise chickens. Lloyd Romriell, a married father of four in Annis, Idaho, recently received seven grown chickens and a coop from a relative. The hens lay a total of about two dozen eggs a week.

“It’s because times are tough. You never know what’s going to happen,” Mr. Romriell said. Although he manages a feed store, he had not kept chickens since he was a child. “If you lose your job tomorrow, you’ve still got food.”

Read on...

Tamiflu causes sickness and nightmares in children, study finds

punditman says...There are tons of media reports on the internet saying that Tamiflu will not work against Swine Flu, and furthermore, that even regular seasonal flu strains are becoming resistant to it. And yet governments have stockpiled billions of dollars worth of it. What a freaking waste of everyone's money (in less of case you own stock in it). Furthermore, Tamiflu may be very bad for you! In 2007, the FDA finally began investigating some 1,800 adverse event reports related to the anti-viral drug. Serious symptoms included convulsions, delirium or delusions, and 14 deaths in children and teens as a result of neuropsychiatric problems and brain infections (which led Japan to ban Tamiflu for children in 2007). And yet they are handing it out to children like candy. What a crime.

-your friendly neighbourhood wingnut.

by David Rose

Children report a range of side-effects, but the official advice is that Tamiflu is safe.

More than half of children taking the swine flu drug Tamiflu experience side-effects such as nausea and nightmares, research suggests.

An estimated 150,000 people with flu symptoms were prescribed the drug through a new hotline and website last week, according to figures revealed yesterday.

Studies of children attending three schools in London and one in the South West showed that 51-53 per cent had one or more side-effects from the medication, which is offered to everyone in England with swine flu symptoms.

The research by the Health Protection Agency emerged as Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said that swine flu infections “may have reached a plateau”.

Releasing the latest figures, Sir Liam said that an estimated 110,000 new cases of the H1N1 virus were diagnosed by doctors in the week to Sunday. That did not include those using the new National Pandemic Flu Service for England to obtain antiviral drugs without seeing their GP.

Keep Reading...

A Yard Sale in Chernobyl

After a long weekend Joe Bageant is like a tonic to clear the cob webs away. Here Joe is ruminating on what a disaster the U.S. has become. And how the sheeple have been propagandized into submission. Joe has a point. Peacenik is sometimes ridiculed when Peacenik offers a negative perspective on the end of the recession or the world. Negativity is somehow socially unacceptable. Enough said. Read Joe.


C hernobyl

by Joe Bageant

"It's only a system," she said, as we floated through the sprawling supermarket's gleaming commodity lined indoor streets. "THE HELL IT IS! It's a goddamned air conditioned zombie hell of waste and gluttony," I thought to myself, before the usual vertigo completely enveloped me. Just back from Central America's simple, comprehensible mercados, bodegas and street cart vendors, the effect of this most common American shopping venue was, as always, one of vertigo. Head splitting light beats down on pyramids of plastic eggs, as if to incubate their hatching of the ladies stockings within, dozens of kinds of toothpaste, well scrubbed dead chickens, lurid baskets of too-perfect flowers, plastic wraps, tissue for faces, asses and wrapping gifts, row upon row of polished vegetables and fruits standing like soldiers waiting for the annihilation of salads or the ovens of casseroledom.

And all those hushed and not so hushed shopper cell phone conversations, this one consoling someone at the home base pod:

"Oh I am so sorry, baby, but I think they've quit making the Ranch flavored Pringles. Yes I know you don't like the jalapeno Pringles. I am so sorry. Really I am." Both parties seemed genuinely distraught.

Read on...