Sunday, January 9, 2011


Major tragedies loom large in our minds, conscious and unconscious. They partly organize our perception of reality. In their light, we interpret our daily trials and travails. We construct their significance in ways that are meaningful to us as individuals and groups, from a daily to a historical scale. It isn't surprising then that in one tragedy, we find messages from another, that we interpret tragedies in terms of each other. Some tragedies are the result of unthinking, such as the sinking of the Titanic, or the fire on Apollo 1. Some are the result of planning, such as 9/11 and the mass shooting in Tuscon that has severely injured Representatve Giffords, killed six, and injured numerous others.

Regardless of their planning or their unplanning, because they serve the same function in our minds, taken together, all tragedies present an intricate web of synchronicities, or perhaps more accurately, tragichronicities. They can be positively arresting. The floor drops from under our minds when we hear that Christina Green, one of the most tragic victims of this shooting, was born on 9/11. Some may register a bit more astonishment on hearing that her grandfather's name is Dallas, the scene of another great political tragedy, another famous headshot, and the he managed both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, the city's two teams.

Speaking of Dallas, most will at least register the fact that the Tuscon shooter's middle name is Lee, and that bucking the trend set by John Q. Public, who never calls himself John Quentin, but following in the footsteps of previous American political assassins and serial killers since at least John Wilkes Booth, he prominently uses both his given names and his family name.

Some souls blessed with superior awareness, which some call paranoia, may have caught the fact, briefly reported on the news, that a helpful physician named David Bowman, himself at the scene of the shooting, saved lives, perhaps including Giffords'. They may subconsciously not have been surprised that Giffords is married to an astronaut scheduled to be in command of the Space Shuttle's final mission this summer, a dramatic and some would say tragic event in its own right. Here we have the interesting case in which the fictional tragic loss of an astronaut in an epoch defining novel, winks at us from the midst of a real tragedy. The loss in space of the fictional David Bowman, of course reminds us of the loss of the Discovery crew, a ship which Giffords' husband also commanded before its tragic accident.

Finally, a tiny coincidence firmly grounds us back into the present, in which Arizona's eighth district was the scene of a great tragedy this January 8th.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Anyone read Fidel's blog this week?

He is certainly going out on a thin limb here, and perhaps his missile crisis flashbacks are causing him to see mushroom clouds dancing in his head, but I think he's got the logic of the situation nailed. Unless he knows something we don't (entirely possible), his estimate on the timing of this is as good as anyone else's, but he is describing a very standard US M.O. Use your bigger bulk to back someone into a corner and give them a choice between striking out or suffocating to death. Japan was the classic example in the late 1930s.

It is entirely possible that Iran will feel compelled to retaliate in some way if the recently transited Suez Armada of Doom starts intercepting all its shipping. I mean, what choice would they have other than to recognize that they are no longer a sovereign country? The same choice Japan had in 1940 when the oil embargo was set up. The Americans of course, learned this trick from the Brits in 1812. Once the Iranians push back, or in any way assert their sovereingty, they will have provided the US and Israel with a Casus Belli for the nuking of their nuclear research centers. Every one has been saying and will continue to say that the strikes won't be very effective, but it doesn't matter because the actual purpose of the strikes is not to destoy the Iranian program, but to let the nuclear genie out of the bottle in a way that is at least cosmetically acceptable, ie though the use of bunker busters to prevent proliferation. Nukes should only be used to prevent the spread of nukes. Orwell would be both impressed, and no doubt depressed.

The other two main American methods for getting into a shooting war with a semblance of moral high ground are, obviously, the sucker punch, executed beautifully by GHW in 1990 at the expense of Iraq (and at the cost of a minor gambit: April Glaspie's career), and the false flag, Gulf of Tonkin, Maine type shadowy operation. Not much scope for a sucker punch here, but perhaps the Iranians could be given a bit of less than candid flag help if they turn out to be too timid.

Fidel's atomic shoot out could be pre-empted if the Iranians just decide to let the Americans run rough shod over them. In which case the US will keep poking them with ever sharper sticks.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

State of Playing on public perceptions

I just happened to see this All the President's Men (ATPM) look alike recently. This is quite a dangerous film. The central message seems to be that the traditional print big media are the guardians and saviours of the nation. And the point is not made subtly either. Brecht is all nuance and allusion in comparison.

Mind you, it is a good film, and highly watchable. Excellent acting, stark lighting, nearly seventiesesque grit. But from the very start, the emphasis is on the demonstration that blogs and other grass roots journalism are inherently bad, and even dangerous. Cleverly, the film tries to ride the wave of disillusionment with government and the growing fear of corporate malfeasance and collusion to glorify one of the main organs of government and corporate control. That's very gutsy, and I fear it works very well on most viewers.

The film seems to do exactly the same thing as ATPM, for exactly the same reasons, and in a very similar political context. The period from 65 to 75 saw repeated assaults on public trust in government and corporations, in the form of constantly broken promises on Viet-Nam, the overt use of domestic surveillance, and government and corporate abuse of power. Likewise the period since 9/11 has seen the increasing domestic use of intelligence and military forces, corporate scandals such as Enron that cost large numbers of people their livelihoods and retirements, and increasing involvement in two unpopular wars.

Just as ATPM, State of Play tries to show how the corporate and government controlled big media are in fact our guarantee of freedom from abuse by government and corporations. The added element in State of Play is the attempted murder of big media's growing competition on the internet.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On September 18th 2008, around mid-day, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke briefed members of the US Congress to tell them that since the opening of the market that day, around 500 billion dollars had been withdrawn from money market accounts. They said that if Congress didn't do something drastic right then and there, the US economy, and the world's economy with it, would collapse immediately. This seems to have decided Congress to pass the first financial rescue or stimulus package of 700 billion in Fall 08.

The markets had started taking a dive on the 9th of September when Lehman Brothers stock dropped 45% in one day, and then again on the 11th. Several other Wall Street investment banks seemed to be on the brink of collapse, and there was talk of a credit crisis. But as the debate on the first stimulus package dragged on into its second week, many were the voices that asked what the emergency really was, and whether (borrowed) tax payer money should be sunk into the apparently bottomless hole of the sub-prime mess. It seemed that something even more dire than the collapse of some investment banks was required to convince Congress to hand 700 billion to Henry Paulson with little to no oversight measures. And of course, something more dire did happen: a 500 billion electronic run on the money markets over a period of 2 hours. Who withdrew the money, where had it come from in the first place, and where did it go?

Between 2001 and 2007, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress appropriated over 650 Billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan operations of the War on Terror. Some have wondered exactly how that money was spent, and how it is possible that it hasn't resulted in the pacification of either country. One possibility is that most of it wasn't spent there at all. One possibility is that it was laundered and invested in money markets, ready to be pulled out in a sort of 9/11 part 2. This would have both helped create the post 9/11 financial bubble, made money for accomplices, and created the opportunity to, as someone put it, hijack the financial system and crash it into the economy. And with the right foreknowledge, those same few accomplices could have made a nice profit on shorting the very institutions that handled the laundered funds, only to then be given 700 billion more in public money.

In this scenario, the first stimulus package is the financial equivalent of the Patriot Act. Prepared and readied long before it was actually needed, and the emergency that made it necessary created for the occasion. The next obvious question is: what will that 700 billion be used for?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Coincidental deaths as the Democratic convention nears

For part of the day, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was reported dead. She was then reported to be in critical condition after suffering a burst brain aneurysm while driving her car last night. Her death has now been confirmed by the Hospital where she fought for her life for the past 24 hours. Jones was a Democratic member of Congress from Ohio, the pivotal state in George Bush’s 2004 Electoral College victory. She was one of the few members of congress to vote against the certification of the electoral college results. She also happened to be the co-chair of the Democratic National Committee. Her disappearance from public life five days before the Democratic convention will no doubt make life much more difficult for the party.

On August 14th, Chair of the Arkansas Democratic Party Bill Gwatney was shot and killed by an assailant at his party headquarters in Little Rock. Fifty year old Timothy Dale, who had just lost his job as a shelver at a Target store, walked into the party office, asked to see Gwatney to discuss volunteering for the campaign, pulled out a pistol, and shot him three times in the chest. Dale then led police on a 50 km highway chase before being killed in a shootout.

Arkansas is of course noted as the home of the political machine that generated the Clinton presidency and era. It was recently governed by Republican presidential candidate and McCain VP short-lister Mike Huckabee. Just like the near-death of Tubbs Jones, Gwatney’s tragically violent end will certainly affect the convention. With rumors of a surprise Clinton move growing, many will miss the Arkansas Chair, who, like Tubbs Jones, and in his capacity as a superdelegate, had recently endorsed Senator Obama after supporting Clinton throughout the campaign. The disappearance of both a co-chair of the DNC and the Chair of the Arkansas Democrats within days of the national convention certainly leaves a disorganising gap that will be hard to fill.

After these quite momentous events, the death of 26 year old Congressional Aid Frederick Hutchins on July 29th now seems a distant memory. Hutchins was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head next to his car on a Virginia road. A handgun was found under his body. He was a rising star of Virginia Democratic politics, predicted by his boss, Senator Jim Webb, to have been in Congress within ten years. Coincidentally, Webb was an early front runner for the VP slot on the Obama ticket. Early in July, he emphatically stated that "under no circumstances" would he accept the nomination, and apparently sent the Obama campaign a note to that effect.

At least there haven’t been any small plane crashes. yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Iraq and Georgia: Only the names have changed

On July 25th 1990, Saddam Hussein summoned hapless US ambassador April Glaspie to a meeting. He wanted an official opinion on an eventual American reaction to his planned invasion of Kuwait, or as he later put it, his reclaiming of Iraq’s 18th province. Ambassador Glaspie gave him the textbook answers: "We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflict" and "the issue is not associated with America". She was under direct instructions from GHW Bush and Secretary of State James Baker to seek a warmer relationship with Iraq.
But Saddam’s long-time allies and supporters in the Reagan-Bush Whitehouse did not react so well to his invasion of Kuwait, launched just a few days after the meeting. On September 11th 1990, GHW Bush told an extraordinary joint session of Congress that the new war in Iraq, now known as Gulf War I, was "a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times...a New World Order can emerge". By January, a half million coalition troops launched an air and later ground assault to drive the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. By doing so, they eliminated one of the most powerful and destabilizing military forces in the region, and ensured American dominance in the Gulf for the following two decades. That dominance was recently reaffirmed, and the American presence increased, in Gulf War II.
I very much doubt that Glaspie was Saddam’s only way of getting the Godfather’s blessing for his venture. She was likely the last check, just a way of confirming officially and on the record what the backchannels had been carrying for months, if not for years. The Soviet Union was in an advanced process of decay, and Saddam had just finished soaking up huge losses as the front man in America’s ten year proxy war on Iran. It only made sense that his friends in Washington would now reward him and allow him to recoup some of those losses.
Instead, they double crossed him in a move worthy of the best Noir scenario. They used him one last time to justify their invasion of the Persian Gulf and their grab at China’s and Russia’s oil future.
On August 7th 2008, US aligned Georgian President Saakashvili launched a military operation to regain control of South Ossetia, a more or less autonomous and pro-Russia Georgian province. The Russians, it seems were just waiting for the word Go, and they responded by over-running northern Georgia within two days.
On August 7th 2008, Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama began his vacation in Hawaii, leaving the stage open to Republican candidate John McCain. Obama has been criticized for his lack of experience in international affairs, and was universally condemned for being on vacation in paradise while an international crisis was unfolding. Following a cue from a popular electoral advertising campaing, McCain asked where Obama was when his 3 AM moment came.
The result, documented today by Bill Schneider on CNN, is an avalanche of new polls, showing Obama in a dead heat with previously distant McCain. The main factor in McCain’s comeback: Foreign policy experience.
It seems the totalitarians on both sides of the Atlantic have an interest in swinging the US election. They are using old MOs: The strategy of tension, by creating an international crisis and conditioning the voters through fear, and the ruthless sacrifice of minor allies, like pawns in a gambit. In both cases, the only winners are those who run the military-industrial complex.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Against the "big conspiracy" argument

Imagine a group of 5 individuals. Lets call them The Committee. Their goal is to overthrow the US Government.

The Committee hire a specialist, whom we will call Control. The Committee draft a series of objectives for Control to accomplish: Carry out a major terror campaign against US interests. The campaign must have significant economic effects. It must create a climate in which civil liberties can be eroded.

Control has no idea what The Committee's goal is. It could be to bring down a major corporation, to swing an election, to get a certain piece of legislation through congress, or it could be to overthrow the USG. Control has no interest in finding out and doesn't spend much time worrying about it.

Now picture a number of branches radiating out from the center where Control is located. Each of those branches is thick at first and runs to twigs at its end. The head of one branch knows that the goal is to crash aircraft into the WTC, Pentagon and White House. The head of another branch knows that the goal is to embezzle money from charities to secretly fund martydom operations, perhaps in the Middle-East. The head of a third branch knows that the goal is to cripple the US postal service. And so on. One branch is very short and thick. We can call it The Cleaners. More on them later.

None of the heads of branches know that there are other branches, and none of them know that they are part of something larger. Why should they? Control knows the job. Meanwhile The Committee know nothing of the means Control is using to accomplish the mission.

Moving down the branches, the head of a twig knows that the goal is to make a few thousand dollars by providing housing for 5 brothers for three months, quietly. This twig might be a Dutch widow with a heroin habit and a few empty bedrooms. Or it might be a Midwestern property owner with an expensive daughter. Why should the twig care where the money is coming from? Why should the twig suspect that it is lying at the end of a large branch connected to a center? The twig rents rooms.

Another twig might know that the goal is to highjack an American airliner out of Boston to secure the liberation of Political prisoners in Israel. Yet another twig might know that the goal is to warehouse an old friend's milling equipement in her basement while his business moves from one location to another. Perhaps there is a slip here, perhaps she dies of inhaled Anthrax. There are many such slips at the level of the twigs, but who would think of connecting them?

In this system, information moves downstream, always. Never upstream. Control gets information from the Committee, and control gives information to the heads of branches. Control certainly has no need or desire to find out who The Committee might be.

In such a long-range campaign (certainly years, perhaps decades), The Committee has no idea what the operations are, and certainly doesn't want to find out ahead of time. But The Committee must know which events are part of the campaign, because they have their own moves to carry out in the wake of these events. Yet, for security reasons, Control can't initiate communication with The Committee.

But any yahoo can blow up a bus or a tube in a large capital. In fact, the Committee is fervently hoping that Control's activities will be emulated. It can only help them. The Committee has specified an open code that Control is to use to reveal his operations. A code that will be self-evident to those who know it, but largely invisible to those who don't.

There is another security measure. The dangerous operatives, those that could easily guess what they are a part of (or those that have), must be eliminated. Hence the Cleaners. The Cleaners know absolutely nothing. They get a name, photo, and travel advance. Control probably uses a different cleaner every time, and avoids recruiting them from the same source.

How large is this conspiracy to overthrow the USG? Five people who know what the goal is, but have no idea what the means will be. One person who knows what the means will be, but has no idea what the goal is. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals who will never have any idea that they are part of it.

Control might deal directly with a total of 8 or 9 people, all under false pretense, and most under false flags. So 15 people might have knowledge that might be recognized as dangerous by someone who knows the whole plan. But no one knows the whole plan. The rest is a constellation of unconnected dots.