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Journal: Propaganda and historical revisionism 1

Journal by Deskpoet

When I was a lad growing up with good ole American public education, it was drilled into us how evil the Soviet system was when it came to re-writing the past. The typical comparisons to Orwell were always bandied about; even without reading Solzhenitsyn, it was a given that *them* over there were different from *us* over here.

Sadly, that's not the case. While, yes, there are no gulags here (yet, though one can certainly wonder at the conundrum of professed "freedom" and the reality of America as the largest prison state in the world, openly practicing capital punishment as a social virtue; small wonder the evils of the Chinese system are now seen as market opportunity instead of state terror), the function of the "free press" to service the needs of the State certainly has not changed, and now seems to openly emulate the classic soviet "journalism", i.e. the lies the State tells about itself through its lackeys in the Fourth Estate now lack any integrity, as well as historical context, in their reportage of events.

This article from FAIR shows how much and how quickly things can change when Big Daddy needs to shoot his gun.

What A Difference Four Years Makes
Why U.N. inspectors left Iraq--then and now

The U.N. orders its weapons inspectors to leave Iraq after the chief inspector reports Baghdad is not fully cooperating with them.

-- Sheila MacVicar, ABC World News This Morning, 12/16/98

To bolster its claim, Iraq let reporters see one laboratory U.N. inspectors once visited before they were kicked out four years ago.

--John McWethy, ABC World News Tonight, 8/12/02

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The Iraq story boiled over last night when the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Richard Butler, said that Iraq had not fully cooperated with inspectors and--as they had promised to do. As a result, the U.N. ordered its inspectors to leave Iraq this morning

--Katie Couric, NBC's Today, 12/16/98/

As Washington debates when and how to attack Iraq, a surprise offer from Baghdad. It is ready to talk about re-admitting U.N. weapons inspectors after kicking them out four years ago.

--Maurice DuBois, NBC's Saturday Today, 8/3/02

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The chief U.N. weapons inspector ordered his monitors to leave Baghdad today after saying that Iraq had once again reneged on its promise to cooperate--a report that renewed the threat of U.S. and British airstrikes.

--AP, 12/16/98

Information on Iraq's programs has been spotty since Saddam expelled U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998.

--AP, 9/7/02

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Immediately after submitting his report on Baghdad's noncompliance, Butler ordered his inspectors to leave Iraq.

--Los Angeles Times, 12/17/98

It is not known whether Iraq has rebuilt clandestine nuclear facilities since U.N. inspectors were forced out in 1998, but the report said the regime lacks nuclear material for a bomb and the capability to make weapons.

--Los Angeles Times, 9/10/02

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The United Nations once again has ordered its weapons inspectors out of Iraq. Today's evacuation follows a new warning from chief weapons inspector Richard Butler accusing Iraq of once again failing to cooperate with the inspectors. The United States and Britain repeatedly have warned that Iraq's failure to cooperate with the inspectors could lead to air strikes.

--Bob Edwards, NPR, 12/16/98

If he has secret weapons, he's had four years since he kicked out the inspectors to hide all of them.

--Daniel Schorr, NPR, 8/3/02

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This is the second time in a month that UNSCOM has pulled out in the face of a possible U.S.-led attack. But this time there may be no turning back. Weapons inspectors packed up their personal belongings and loaded up equipment at U.N. headquarters after a predawn evacuation order. In a matter of hours, they were gone, more than 120 of them headed for a flight to Bahrain.

--Jane Arraf, CNN, 12/16/98

What Mr. Bush is being urged to do by many advisers is focus on the simple fact that Saddam Hussein signed a piece of paper at the end of the Persian Gulf War, promising that the United Nations could have unfettered weapons inspections in Iraq. It has now been several years since those inspectors were kicked out.

--John King, CNN, 8/18/02

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Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov criticized Butler for evacuating inspectors from Iraq Wednesday morning without seeking permission from the Security Council.

--USA Today, 12/17/98

Saddam expelled U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998, accusing some of being U.S. spies.

--USA Today, 9/4/02

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But the most recent irritant was Mr. Butler's quick withdrawal from Iraq on Wednesday of all his inspectors and those of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iraqi nuclear programs, without Security Council permission. Mr. Butler acted after a telephone call from Peter Burleigh, the American representative to the United Nations, and a discussion with Secretary General Kofi Annan, who had also spoken to Mr. Burleigh.

--New York Times, 12/18/98

America's goal should be to ensure that Iraq is disarmed of all unconventional weapons.... To thwart this goal, Baghdad expelled United Nations arms inspectors four years ago.

--New York Times editorial, 8/3/02

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Butler ordered his inspectors to evacuate Baghdad, in anticipation of a military attack, on Tuesday night--at a time when most members of the Security Council had yet to receive his report.

--Washington Post, 12/18/98

Since 1998, when U.N. inspectors were expelled, Iraq has almost certainly been working to build more chemical and biological weapons,

--Washington Post editorial, 8/4/02

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Butler abruptly pulled all of his inspectors out of Iraq shortly after handing Annan a report yesterday afternoon on Baghdad's continued failure to cooperate with UNSCOM, the agency that searches for Iraq's prohibited weapons of mass destruction.

-- Newsday, 12/17/98

The reason Hussein gave was that the U.N. inspectors' work was completed years ago, before he kicked them out in 1998, and they dismantled whatever weapons they found. That's disingenuous.

--Newsday editorial, 8/14/02

User Journal

Journal: Not every Brit is a US lapdog.... 2

Journal by Deskpoet

The following came from the Brit Sunday Herald, 15 September 2002, written by Neil Mackay. And though a bit bombastic in its delivery, it certainly explains where Dubya--the coke-nosed adolescent who would be King--came up with his axis of evil. (Think tanks are good for that; they help the helpless with their geography.)

A secret blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001.

The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'

The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.

This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as possible', the report says. It also calls for the US to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'.

The report describes American armed forces abroad as 'the cavalry on the new American frontier'. The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by Wolfowitz and Libby that said the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'.

The PNAC report also:

refers to key allies such as the UK as 'the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership';

  describes peace-keeping missions as 'demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations';

reveals worries in the administration that Europe could rival the USA;

says 'even should Saddam pass from the scene' bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently -- despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of US troops -- as 'Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has';

spotlights China for 'regime change' saying 'it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia'. This, it says, may lead to 'American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratisation in China';

calls for the creation of 'US Space Forces', to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent 'enemies' using the internet against the US;hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the US may consider developing biological weapons -- which the nation has banned -- in decades to come. It says: 'New methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal', biological -- will be more widely available ... combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool'

and pinpoints North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes and says their existence justifies the creation of a 'world-wide command-and-control system'.

Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP, father of the House of Commons and one of the leading rebel voices against war with Iraq, said:

'This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks -- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war.

'This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.'

User Journal

Journal: Entrenched ideology 14

Journal by Deskpoet

My old friend, Neocon, wrote a message to me today, asking me--well, let's quote him so there's no misunderstanding (from this posting):

"Funny, I was in downtown Manhattan on September 11, about a block and a half from 1 WTC, and it sure looked like a battlefield to me...

But as you see no purpose in our nation seeking to defend itself except (in your phrase) to `spend excess ordinance', perhaps you'd care to explain how we should deal with those who are planning further such attacks?"

The question put to me, then, is how should "we" (in his words, "our nation") defend ourselves (again, the collective form is used; it appears Mr. Neocon has no identity outside of his chosen affiliation) against those faceless evil doers who are even now plotting greater peril for the Empire (the inherent paranoia in this view speaks for itself.)

There are solid levels of ideological purity reflected in this message. On the one level, as symbolized in the first paragraph, we have the Witness testifying to the Truth of the State. Like Walter Cronkite, he was there, and knows the "war" is real, because he has experienced it. Never mind that no bullets flew over his head, nor any depleted uranium rounds are irradiating his environment; Mr. Neocon sleeps well in his bed tonight, dreaming of his revenge against the wanton criminals who dared strike against his god (the State, in this case the US government). That thousands died in this terrible tragedy is enough only to justify the deaths of thousands more for him; justice isn't necessary in the land of the free and the home of the brave. He knows this because he has seen it, felt it, and by god, there will be a reckoning. (Yes, this is all a bit purple, but the "eye-for-an-eye" mentality *is* purple to those who can see it for what it is, particularly in the context of human destruction. In the world of true believers, there is never enough blood to be had; kill them all and let god sort them out is the mantra for the perfect little citizen in the modern State.)

On another level, after establishing his moral authority through his "eyewitness account", Neocon demonstrates his devotion with his rhetorical device of the second paragraph, drafted in such a way as to elicit response--not all that different from a flame, really--with the unspoken understanding that the question cannot be answered in any "logical" way other than what his ideology makes self-evident to him. Literally for Neocon, views outside his strigently defined worldview do not exist; they are heretical in the most insane way--like explaining quantum mechanics to a goldfish, it's just nonsense to him. An advocate of a position other than Neocon's manufactured belief system is simply beyond the pale. Yes, they're disloyal, unpatriotic, perhaps even ee-vil, but they're just fundamentally *wrong*, in the same way the natives were when Columbus and the missionaries arrived: poor savages, they can still be saved, if only the Neocons of the world can shake them from their madness. That's Neocon's raison d' etre for posting on Slashdot, after all--folks like me need to be rescued: we need to be taught the Way of the State.

However, if I were to take his question at face value and answer it (which will go unheard even as Neocon's eyes scan this entry), I would answer it thusly: remove all US troops from the Middle East, Asia, and wherever else they are risking their lives supporting oppressive regimes (dependent on them to protect the profits of multinational corporations whose extorted booty winds up in places off the shores of the US anyway), and work through the legal mechanisms established in the civilized world (largely ignored by the US, except when supporting the ideological aims of the Washington Consensus) to bring the criminals to justice. Simply, if the US behaved like a true world leader, as opposed to a rogue state defending a failed ideology--neo-liberalism, corporate capitalism, whatever one wishes to call the socio-economic policy that condemns most of humanity to misery--most of the motivation the fanatics use to wrap themselves in dynamite would disappear. (Yes, this is not a truly "anarchistic solution", but I'm not too far gone from pragmatism that I deny the victims of 911 their right--and the human necessity--of punishing those who wantonly murder. What I do deny is the autocratic use of force by *any* State, and the greatest of these, the US, is not exempt from this. If the US was a just state, administered by just people, this would not even need to be said.)

I've a feeling, though, that the entrenched ideology of the Neocons is going to drive thousands--maybe millions--more to their deaths. They'll feel good doing it, too, because they're right, damn it--how can they not be?

User Journal

Journal: Is Capitalism Sick? 4

Journal by Deskpoet

These aren't my words, but they certainly speak to me (courtesy of ZNet Interactive.)

Is Capitalism Sick?

by Paul Foot
The Guardian
June 13, 2002

"Is capitalism sick?" inquires a challenging headline in the Sunday Times. The answer, over many paragraphs, is no. Capitalism, the article reveals, is in fine fettle. The only thing wrong with it is the occasional rotten or greedy capitalist.

Hank Paulson, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, warned the National Press Club in Washington last week: "Business has never been under such scrutiny. To be blunt, much of it is deserved." The Sunday Times moaned its way through a litany of recent scandals.

First there was Enron, whose disgraced chief executive Kenneth Lay is a close friend of President Bush, whose audit committee was chaired by former Tory minister Lord Wakeham, and one of whose more ideological paid advisers, Irwin Stelzer, still has a weekly column in the Sunday Times.

Now there is Tyco - presumably short for tycoon - whose former chairman, Dennis Kozlowski, is charged with tax evasion and whose director, Lord Ashcroft, is a former treasurer of the Tory party and a generous donor to British state education. ADT College, named after Ashcroft's company, still teaches children in South London, but perhaps now it should change its name, since ADT was swallowed by Tyco in 1997.

Last week there was great news for another great A: Bill Allan, chief executive of a telecoms company ludicrously called Thus. Allan and his fellow directors got bonuses worth 70% of their salaries to mark something called "exceptional business performance", presumably a reference to the 72% fall in the company's share price.

Last week, these heroic As were capped by a sensational B - for Bonfield, the knighted former chief executive of ailing British Telecom, which recently wound up its final-salary pension scheme for ordinary workers, but somehow managed to find a few million to "top up" Sir Peter's already vast pension by another £2,000 a week.

Bonfield has a perfectly good job elsewhere, but when he left British Telecom he took a year's salary (£820,000) and a bonus of £615,000, no doubt as a mark of respect for his record as mastermind of one of the most disastrous privatizations of modern times.

These companies and individuals, Paulson argued, are letting down the system. They are giving capitalism a bad name. If only individual capitalists didn't lie, cheat, perjure themselves in libel actions, stuff their pockets with grossly excessive or ill-gotten gains, deceive the taxman by buying expensive paintings with other people's money and then hanging them on their own walls, if only their accountants didn't spend their extremely valuable time thinking up complicated schemes to avoid tax and then shredding the documentary evidence, then the beautiful symmetry of the capitalist system would shine forth. If only the rotten apples could be rooted out of the capitalist barrels, the full glory of the fruit could be properly appreciated.

The problem with this argument is that it overlooks the central feature of capitalism: the division of the human race into those who profit from human endeavor and those who don't. This division demands freedom for employers, and discipline for workers; high pay and perks for bosses, low pay for the masses; riches for the few, poverty for the many.

Under capitalism the gulf between rich and poor grows wider and wider. The whole point of the system is that it works against equality, against co-operation. It stunts, insults and criminalizes the poor; glorifies, cossets and pardons the rich. All human life is corrupted in the process. So even if you could discipline all the offenders, lock up all financial advisers to the US president, ban from public life all former Tory vice-chairmen, even if company directors spent a year in jail for every bonus they steal, there would still be no hiding place from capitalism. The rotten apples are the barrel.

Reading last week's sermon from Paulson, I was reminded of a brace of challenging headlines in the Guardian on December 10 1993. These headlines highlighted the difference between a group of 26 million people who shared $2.2bn and another group of only 161 people who shared $2.6bn. The first group was the entire population of Tanzania, the second the partners of Goldman Sachs, the company Paulson heads. And however much he lectures his capitalist colleagues about their individual misdemeanors, he cannot and will not correct the intrinsic flaw in the economic system he represents, so starkly symbolized by the greed of the people who run his bank.

Is capitalism sick? Yes, disgustingly so. Its sickness is terminal, and it urgently needs replacing.

User Journal

Journal: Being called to account--and ignoring it 2

Journal by Deskpoet

I had a discussion--well, an exchange of messages--with a /. user known as Neocon today. It didn't go very far because, amongst other things, I'm not a "good debater", insofar as the arbitrary rules of "reasoned" discussion mean very little to me.

I'm not ashamed of that. I've colored within the lines all of my life, but I'm weary of the stand on chivalrous behavior so many of these lunatics wrap themselves in to get through the waking nightmare of their daily existences. I want to strip it all away, down to the barest, most essential thing, the brutal honesty that gushes forth when the veneer of civility is pushed aside like the dying husk it is.

Sadly, I didn't say as much in the exchange; at least, it was not noted in so many words. Rather, in a voice lacking any measure of nuance, I focused on the concept that debate is a joke when two unknown entities trade text in open forums without accountability. I imagine all the corresponding truisms were lost on this fellow--he seems convinced of his own voice, anyway, so I feel there was no harm done. It's not like his carefully constructed playland is going to fall into the sea tomorrow, so he can find out for himself where Reality lives.

Speaking of realities, lately I've been flipping through Morrison's Invisibles, which I missed during my decade hiatus from sequential art. I mention it here because it plays a few riffs on the themes of the day--as if they've changed any in the last five hundred years. The struggle is against the State (whether that's the Archons or the Britons), and the Scared Monkey is losing the battle with his creation. Soon, if the "good" people have their way, we'll all be humming the same aria from the Ring Cycle.

Of course, this doesn't really bother me all that much. I've given up on the concepts of "justice" and "freedom" in relation to our *very* humble species--most of us want neither, and wouldn't know what to do if we were confronted with them. I still can't watch or read the "news" as it makes me so angry I unequivocally feel the Shiva impluse, but since we've decided that children aren't an option for us, the combination of righteous indignation and the desire to protect posterity isn't strong enough to move me to action. Man is a flawed construct, and deserves whatever hell he permits his leaders to create for him. (Yeah, there's a bit of that "blaming the victim" streak in me, too. More evidence of flawed character?)

In any case, natural selection will weed out the flawed who call themselves anarchists or libertarian socialists (some might even get their moments of fame on the Cross), and the world will be one big Walmart, with oodles of happy consumers.

Today is a good day. It looks like a Brave New World instead of 1984. Amazing what a little sunshine can do.....

Slashdot.org

Journal: A moderation that lacked moderation

Journal by Deskpoet

After posting a few times over the past weeks as an AC, I decided that I would own my opinion today, and posted the following message, which some moderator, in their infinite wisdom, rated as "flamebait":

Best in a contest of losers....... (Score:1, Flamebait)
by Deskpoet on Friday June 07, @03:39PM (#3662683)

Even though this posting is not news and it seems to matter only to arrested adolescent fanboys, I'll throw this comment into the ring:

How can anything be called "the best" when there is nothing of note anywhere on the horizon? I suppose in a world where Buffy flies star-fighters or Dark Angel wields a light-sabre, but since these cosmic convergences/market-driven plotlines have yet to be realized, one has to look at the present lot, and strongly qualify what one means by best. Indeed, one should refrain from using the word at all when discussing current televised speculative fiction.

A Friday afternoon on /. is becoming more and more like hanging out at Cheers with Norm and Cliff.

Now, I'll grant that this was a bit harsh for a throw-away thread such as this, but flamebait? Perhaps only to those who are offended by their striking resemblence to the fanboy remark.

When I moderate, even if I don't agree with what's being said, points are given for levels of sophistication above "fuck you". In this message, I *was* saying this, in effect, to the lamers who drool their hours away in front of the Sci-Fi Channel (what an ugly phrase; where's Harlan Ellison when you need him?), but in a manner that was lacking in profanity, while staying within the theme of the question, and extending the discussion using a television allusion to comment on the sad quality of /. "news" on a Friday afternoon. One wonders what little droid took this to be an entreaty to flaming; one wonders if moderator points are dispensed too easily to fragile personalities suffering from borderline autism (the next step in evolution, they'll assure you, with their soulless eyes.)

I realize not everyone can separate themselves from their distractions, but to mod this particular posting as "flamebait" is an abuse, I think. (I could see Over-rated, maybe, but flamebait?)

User Journal

Journal: Musings after a day with lunch with the guys 5

Journal by Deskpoet

Today was the first time I came close to actually expressing my political views in a work-derived environment. (Yes, I've always been an Anonymous Coward at heart.)

I didn't actually say anything overtly political; I confined my comments to a simple universal that stopped the conversation in its tracks: the problem with war is that it's rarely those "responsible" for the war to die as a result of the conflict; it's generally the soldier on the field or the citizen in the home who gets it.

Death should not be visited on any individual for any political or social reason. That our species does it so often for so many self-justified "reasons" clearly points up that we are not worthy of the gift of intelligence, if our manifestation of it can truly be called a gift. "Intelligence" has turned out to be just another evolutionary adaptation that has facilitated the killer within us as much as the artist, and if we weren't such horny monkeys, our thanatonic urge would certainly have allowed our flawed strain to fade into time by now, replaced by a species truly worthy of the "gift". Perhaps the dolphin?

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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