Monday, June 30, 2008

For the Record: The Constantines Rock Band are NOT Named After Alex Constantine

The Constantines Reject Irony
By Adrian Mack

For the record—and contrary to information published on Wikipedia and in numerous articles—the Constantines are not named after author Alex Constantine. In fact, vocalist-guitarist Bryan Webb confesses to having only a vague knowledge of the self-styled “antifascist researcher”, whose incendiary book The Covert War Against Rock examined the deeper mysteries behind the killing of John Lennon, among others.

“Honestly,” he tells the Straight, as his tour bus glides into Edmonton, “the name came from a Coast to Coast With Art Bell episode where he was playing recordings of ghost voices in static, and the guy’s name was Constantine. Ultimately, it just became something like the Ramones for us, like a family name.

“So,” he continues, “I can tell you that we haven’t been influenced by that book. Yet.”

Wikipedia editors, please take note. It would seem that the five natives of Guelph, Ontario, take a significantly different view of their industry from the muckraking Mr. Constantine. As an acclaimed Canadian indie band, the Constantines are also a long way from the life-and-death game he’s bent on exposing. Still, Webb allows, “Some corners are darker than others, I guess. You just have to be careful who you give your music to. The best thing for us has always been finding people that listen to what we want.”

For the Constantines ’08, this means the relatively cozy environment of Toronto label Arts & Crafts, which released the band’s fourth album, Kensington Heights, in April. ...


from Tal Levesque's Research Services
June 11, 2007

‘Creating a mythos’ to control people. Program of psychological warfare (PSYOP) or ‘Mind War’. ...

A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or "the Course"), [originally published in 1975] is a book considered by its students to be their "spiritual path".

According to Dr. Helen Schucman and the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP), Dr. Helen Schucman and Dr. William Thetford "scribed" the book by means of a process coming from a divine source through a form of channeling which Schucman referred to as "inner dictation". Schucman described the divine source of her channeling as none other than the person of Jesus Christ.

Well.... Dr. William Thetford, headed the CIA's "Mind Control" MK-ULTRA SubProject 130: Personality Theory, while at Columbia University between 1971-1978.

Dr. Thetford’s Professional Bio, also available on the A Course in Miracles web site, makes reference to his involvement in a Personality Theory Research Project while Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University, but the information does not specifically cite this as a CIA MK- ULTRA SubProject.

There is a connection between Unity Church, "A Course In Miracles", MK-ULTRA Artichoke Subproject 130 ; Scientology ; the UFO Myth and the Stanford Research Institute.

"A Course in Miracles" was a CIA manipulation device.

It was an experiment orchestrated by the CIA/US government.

Many were DAMAGED by it.

It was implemented Bill Thetford (an agent of the CIA) at Columbia University.

Search for info on Thetford and MKUltra (the government's well-documented mind-control program) to find more.

The agenda, according to those interested in this sphere of investigation, is to inflitrate and dilute the American left with New Age ideas and inward-focussed, anti-rational religious movements.
The Making of 'A Course in Miracles'

Excerpt from :

William Thetford, also a Columbia professor, was a mysterious character, and "probably the most sinister person I ever met," the priest recalled. Only after he retired from teaching did Thetford's Columbia colleagues (who knew him best as a rare-books expert) discover that all during the years they worked with him, the man had been employed as an agent of the CIA--one who was, among other things, present at the first fission experiment conducted by physicists assigned to the Manhattan Project. Thetford also was "the most religious atheist I have ever known," Groeschel recalled, and conceived a great enthusiasm for A Course in Miracles, personally arranging for its publication. Schucman was embarrassed, Groeschel remembered, and confided to the priest her fear that the book would create a cult, which of course it did.

Groeschel initially read the Course as "religious poetry," but grew steadily more negative in his assessment of it as the years passed and sales of the three volumes passed into the millions of copies. From his point of view, A Course in Miracles served to undermine authentic Christianity more effectively than just about any other work he could recall, and while he was inclined to reject the position of St. John of the Cross that "these things are diabolical unless proven otherwise," doubts had crept in over the years. Most troubling to him by far was the "black hole of rage and depression that Schucman fell into during the last two years of her life," the priest explained. She had become frightening to be with, Groeschel recalled, spewing psychotic hatred not only for A Course in Miracles but "for all things spiritual." When he sat at Schucman's bedside as she lay dying, "she cursed, in the coarsest barroom language you could imagine, `that book, that goddamn book.' She said it was the worst thing that ever happened to her. I mean, she raised the hair on the back of my neck. It was truly terrible to witness."

William Thetford

William N. Thetford, Ph.D. (April 23, 1923–July 4, 1988) was trained as a psychologist, and remained professionally active in this field throughout his life. Thetford worked in a collaborative venture with Dr. Helen Schucman in writing A Course In Miracles (ACIM), and also with its initial edits. [1] He died in 1988, aged 65, in Tiburon, California, after having made his involvement with the ACIM material and its study the most central focus of his life.

Early childhood

Thetford was born on April 23, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois to John R. and Mabel K. Thetford as the youngest of three children. At the time of his birth and early childhood, his parents were both regular members of the Christian Science Church. At the age of seven, the untimely death of his older sister caused his parents to disavow their affiliation with the Church of Christian Science. Afterwards, for the next few years, Thetford sampled various other Protestant denominations.

At the age of nine he contracted a severe case of scarlet fever, which led to rheumatic fever and a debilitating heart condition. These resulting health problems forced him to spend the next three years at home recuperating. During his forced recuperation period he took advantage of the many free hours, using the time to satisfy his voracious appetite for reading. Despite his absence from the classroom, he entered high school at the age of twelve.
[edit]University education

Following graduation from high school, he was awarded a four-year scholarship to DePauw University in Indiana where he graduated with majors in psychology and pre-medicine in 1944. During the course of his university studies, Thetford eventually settled on the idea of specializing in psychology, and in 1949 he received his Ph.D. in this field from the University of Chicago.

While he was a student during the early 1940s he served for a time as an administrative assistant for the Manhattan Project, the World War II atom bomb development project.[citation needed] The Metallurgical Laboratory where the first atomic reactor was assembled was located under Stagg Field at the University of Chicago during those years. In his graduate studies he was fortunate to be one of the first students of the renowned psychologist, Carl Rogers.

Career and hiring of Dr. Helen Schucman

For the next five years after his graduation in 1949, Thetford worked as a research psychologist in both Chicago, and later in Washington, DC. According to Dr Colin Ross, from 1951 to 1953 Thetford worked on Project BLUEBIRD, an early CIA mind control program [2]. He spent 1954 and 1955 as the director of clinical psychology at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. From 1955 to 1957 he was an assistant professor of psychology at Cornell University's CIA-funded[3] Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology[4].

In 1958 he accepted an assistant professorship, which later developed into a full professorship, at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. During a portion of this same period he also served as the director of clinical psychology at the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. It was here that he would stay for the next 20 years, and it was here that he first met and hired Dr. Helen Schucman, hiring her as a research psychologist and assistant.

Thetford's "Invitation" for ACIM

The working relationship between Thetford and Schucman was apparently often somewhat strained, yet throughout these difficulties they would always maintain a certain level of professional courtesy and respect for one another. The story is often retold that it was into this environment of inter-relational strain between Thetford and Schucman that the ACIM material was in a sense first “invited” into this world. This “invitation” came in the form of an exclamation by Thetford one day, in the midst of one of their periodic difficulties, in which Thetford exclaimed, “There must be another way!” This exclamation was followed by a certain speech he made to Schucman describing how he believed that it was time for them to try to refocus their energies on constructive and helpful agendas, rather than being forever hyper critical and hyper competitive with one another. Expecting a typically condescending response from Schucman, the studied silence that followed his speech was then followed by a most surprising concurrence from Schucman, fully supporting his new proposal. This speech was given in June of 1965.[5][6]

The next four months were filled with a number of unusually vivid dream sequences and even some unusual waking experiences for Schucman.

Amongst her vivid dream sequences, she began to become familiar with a certain internal character who spoke to her as Jesus in her dreams. Little did she know that the voice of this dream character would soon come to dominate the rest of her life. Many of her unusual experiences during these four months are recorded in the biographical work, ‘Absence from Felicity’, by Kenneth Wapnick.[7] Schucman appears to have confided her experiences with Thetford, who acted as a sort of a calming, encouraging and stabilizing influence for Schucman during this period.

The years of ACIM transcription

Finally in October of that year, the transcriptions of what is now known as ACIM first began. According to both Thetford and Schucman, due to Schucman’s intensely divided feelings about the work of the transcription, Schucman would at times require a great deal of reassurance from Thetford in order to complete the process that eventually resulted in the first typewritten copy of ACIM, (which later became known as the Urtext).

According to Thetford, Schucman was sitting at home on the night of October 21st, 1965, when she heard an internal "voice" say to her, "This is a course in miracles. Please take notes." When she first heard this internal voice, she thought she recognized it as the same voice of the dream-sequence character that in her recent dream sequences had represented the person of Jesus to her. Schucman then wrote down about a page of notes before she realized that this request was going to be of much greater significance, and would require a far greater commitment in time than it had ever asked of her before. In a panic, she phoned Thetford to ask for his advice. Thetford encouraged Schucman to do what the voice asked, and to take the notes. He offered to meet with her the next morning before work, to review her notes, to discuss them further with her, and then to determine what she should do with this "Voice".[8]

On the following morning, after Thetford's review of the notes, he was so impressed with what she read to him that he encouraged Schucman to continue with the note taking. Schucman was initially taken aback by Thetford's reaction, but then apparently after giving herself enough time to recover from her initial jitters to honestly review the notes herself, she agreed. Soon they recognized that the notes, which eventually became ACIM (referred to as The Course by ACIM students), was their answer, the "other way" that they had agreed to find together four months earlier.

Classifying this transcription process as one of Schucman’s unusual waking experiences is an understatement at best. During the process Schucman claimed to have the mental equivalent of a tape recorder in her thoughts, which she described as being able to turn on and off at will, at her convenience, so that she might be able to transcribe into shorthand notes, what she was internally hearing. This voice identified itself as none other than the historical Jesus.

During the beginning of this process, one of Thetford’s gentle complaints was, “In the beginning I spent most of my time while typing these notes with one hand on the typewriter and the other on Helen’s shoulder”. After some months of experiencing an initial struggle in this process, eventually they both began to experience less subconscious resistance to the process, and the initial transcription began to move along more smoothly.

From 1965 through 1972 Thetford directly assisted Schucman with the transcription of the first three sections of the work, which was in fact the great bulk of the material. Then in 1972, somewhat to both of their reliefs (yet on some levels to their dismay) it appeared that the writing was complete, which for the most part it was.

In 1972 Thetford and Schucman were first introduced to Dr. Kenneth Wapnick whom they later invited to assist them with the voluminous amount of editing that was required to render the rough draft of the ACIM manuscript into a publishable format. Wapnick readily accepted this invitation, and was eventually instrumental in assisting them in accomplishing this task. Thetford, Wapnick and Schucman, the three principle transcriber-editors of ACIM were to remain friends for the rest of their lives, throughout the arduous process of seeing this manuscript through to first successful publication, and beyond to witness the initial spreading of its teachings.

After the completion of the bulk of the initial scribing/ transcribing process, for brief periods during 1973, 1975, and 1977 the short transcriptions of Psychotherapy,[9] of Clarification of Terms, and of the Song of Prayer,[9] which are the remainder of the standard material of ACIM, were transcribed in similar fashion.

From 1971 to 1978 Thetford, along with David Saunders, headed the CIA mind control Project MKULTRA Subproject 130: Personality Theory. [10] [11]

Move to California

In 1978 Thetford resigned from his positions at both Columbia University and at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. In 1980 he packed up his household, and at the apparent invitation of Judith Skutch Whitson, moved to Tiburon California, where Whitson was by now employed full time in the publication and distribution of ACIM.

Now at age 57, in Tiburon Thetford transitioned into a sort of semi-retirement, no longer accepting any demanding positions of heavy responsibility in either his professional life, or in his involvement with the ever growing readership of ACIM. In California Thetford took on two part time professional positions; one as a psychology consultant at Travis Air Force Base and the other as one of the directors of the ACIM related Center for Attitudinal Healing in Tiburon, as offered to him by his friend and fellow student of ACIM, Dr. Gerald Jampolsky.

Here in California, Thetford spent the final eight years of his life, regularly attending meetings of fellow ACIM students where ACIM principles would be discussed, but only rarely engaging in these discussions in any kind of an authoritative manner. Instead, during this final period of his life, he appears to have been primarily concerned with his own personal study of the ACIM material, and with enriching his own grasp of its message. Still, some of his interchanges with his associates during this period are somewhat illuminating.

Anecdotal accounts of Thetford's California life

During one such interchange with his friend Judith Skutch Whitson[12], Whitson describes calling Thetford during a moment of extremely high tension in her relationship with Jampolsky. In the phone conversation Whitson went on at length, describing what she perceived to be Jampolski’s many faults. Thetford listened intently until Whitson finally ran out of breath. He then quietly said, "Judy, the Course (ACIM) can be summed up in the question, 'Are you willing to see your brother sinless?' "
"No!" Whitson screamed.

"Well, dear," Thetford replied, "when you are, you will feel much better." And then he hung up!

On July 4th, 1988, at age 65 Thetford died of a massive heart attack. In this instance another illuminating account, related to this, is told by Whitson. According to Whitson, just prior to Thetford’s heart attack, she and Thetford had been having an interesting conversation. Thetford explained to Whitson that he was feeling particularly good on this July 4th, because for some reason he felt especially ‘independent and liberated’ on this day. He then went out for a ‘short’ walk, but never returned.


• The Scribing of A Course in Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.
• Ross, Colin (2000). Bluebird: Deliberate Creation of Multiple Personalities by Psychiatrists. Manitou Communications.
• Marks, John (1991). The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN-10: 0393307948; ISBN-13: 978-0393307948.Available online [1]
• Price, David H. (June 2007). "Buying a piece of anthropology - Part 1: Human Ecology and unwitting anthropological research for the CIA". . Anthropology Today, Vol 23 No 3, June 2007 Available online [2].
• Wapnick, Kenneth (1991). Absence from Felicity, pp. 93 ff
• Foundation for Inner Peace, The Scribing of A Course in Miracles
• pp. 97-131
• ibid., p. 199
• a b (1996) Supplements to A Course in Miracles: 1. Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice 2. The Song of Prayer. Viking Adult. ISBN 0-670-86994-5.
• RA: MKULTRA de-classified documents
• Dr. Willian N, Thetford Vita
• Jessuph, Joe Miracle_Studies


Wapnick, Kenneth (1999). Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles, 2nd Ed., New York:

Foundation for A Course in Miracles. ISBN 0-933291-08-6.

Miller, D. Patrick (Aug 1997). Complete Story of the Course. Fearless Books. ISBN 0-9656809-0-8.

Skutch, Robert (1996). Journey Without Distance: The Story Behind A Course in Miracles. Mill Valley: Foundation for Inner Peace. ISBN 1-883360-02-1.

Losing Latin America: What Will the Obama Doctrine be Like?

by Greg Grandin
June 10th 2008

Google "neglect," "Washington," and "Latin America," and you will be led to thousands of hand-wringing calls from politicians and pundits for Washington to "pay more attention" to the region. True, Richard Nixon once said that "people don't give one shit" about the place. And his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger quipped that Latin America is a "dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica." But Kissinger also made that same joke about Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand—and, of the three countries, only the latter didn't suffer widespread political murder as a result of his policies, a high price to pay for such a reportedly inconsequential place.

Latin America, in fact, has been indispensable in the evolution of U.S. diplomacy. The region is often referred to as America's "backyard," but a better metaphor might be Washington's "strategic reserve," the place where ascendant foreign-policy coalitions regroup and redraw the outlines of U.S. power, following moments of global crisis.

When the Great Depression had the U.S. on the ropes, for example, it was in Latin America that New Deal diplomats worked out the foundations of liberal multilateralism, a diplomatic framework that Washington would put into place with much success elsewhere after World War II.

In the 1980s, the first generation of neocons turned to Latin America to play out their "rollback" fantasies—not just against Communism, but against a tottering multilateralist foreign-policy. It was largely in a Central America roiled by left-wing insurgencies that the New Right first worked out the foundational principles of what, after 9/11, came to be known as the Bush Doctrine: the right to wage war unilaterally in highly moralistic terms.

We are once again at a historic crossroads. An ebbing of U.S. power—this time caused, in part, by military overreach—faces a mobilized Latin America; and, on the eve of regime change at home, with George W. Bush's neoconservative coalition in ruins after eight years of disastrous rule, would-be foreign policy makers are once again looking south.

Goodbye to All That

"The era of the United States as the dominant influence in Latin America is over," says the Council on Foreign Relations, in a new report filled with sober policy suggestions for ways the U.S. can recoup its waning influence in a region it has long claimed as its own.

Latin America is now mostly governed by left or center-left governments that differ in policy and style—from the populism of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela to the reformism of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Michelle Bachelet in Chile. Yet all share a common goal: asserting greater autonomy from the United States.

Latin Americans are now courting investment from China, opening markets in Europe, dissenting from Bush's War on Terror, stalling the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, and sidelining the International Monetary Fund which, over the last couple of decades, has served as a stalking horse for Wall Street and the Treasury Department.

And they are electing presidents like Ecuador's Rafael Correa, who recently announced that his government would not renew the soon-to-expire lease on Manta Air Field, the most prominent U.S. military base in South America. Correa had previously suggested that, if Ecuador could set up its own base in Florida, he would consider extending the lease. When Washington balked, he offered Manta to a Chinese concession, suggesting that the airfield be turned into "China's gateway to Latin America."

In the past, such cheek would have been taken as a clear violation of the Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed in 1823 by President James Monroe, who declared that Washington would not permit Europe to recolonize any part of the Americas. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt updated the doctrine to justify a series of Caribbean invasions and occupations. And Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan invoked it to validate Cold War CIA-orchestrated coups and other covert operations.

But things have changed. "Latin America is not Washington's to lose," the Council on Foreign Relations report says, "nor is it Washington's to save." The Monroe Doctrine, it declares, is "obsolete."

Good news for Latin America, one would think. But the last time someone from the Council on Foreign Relations, which since its founding in 1921 has represented mainstream foreign-policy opinion, declared the Monroe Doctrine defunct, the result was genocide.

Enter the Liberal Establishment

That would be Sol Linowitz who, in 1975, as chair of the Commission on United States-Latin American Relations, said that the Monroe Doctrine was "inappropriate and irrelevant to the changed realities and trends of the future."

The little-remembered Linowitz Commission was made up of respected scholars and businessmen from what was then called the "liberal establishment." It was but one part of a broader attempt by America's foreign-policy elite to respond to the cascading crises of the 1970s—defeat in Vietnam, rising third-world nationalism, Asian and European competition, skyrocketing energy prices, a falling dollar, the Watergate scandal, and domestic dissent. Confronted with a precipitous collapse of America's global legitimacy, the Council on Foreign Relations, along with other mainline think tanks like the Brookings Institute and the newly formed Trilateral Commission, offered a series of proposals that might help the U.S. stabilize its authority, while allowing for "a smooth and peaceful evolution of the global system."

There was widespread consensus among the intellectuals and corporate leaders affiliated with these institutions that the kind of anticommunist zeal that had marched the U.S. into the disaster in Vietnam needed to be tamped down, and that "new forms of common management" between Washington, Europe, and Japan had to be worked out. Advocates for a calmer world order came from the same corporate bloc that underwrote the Democratic Party and the Rockefeller-wing of the Republican Party.

They hoped that a normalization of global politics would halt, if not reverse, the erosion of the U.S. economic position. Military de-escalation would free up public revenue for productive investment, while containing inflationary pressures (which scared the bond managers of multinational banks). Improved relations with the Communist bloc would open the USSR, Eastern Europe, and China to trade and investment. There was also general agreement that Washington should stop viewing Third World socialism through the prism of the Cold War conflict with the Soviet Union.

At that moment throughout Latin America, leftists and nationalists were—as they are now—demanding a more equitable distribution of global wealth. Lest radicalization spread, the Trilateral Commission's executive director Zbignew Brzezinski, soon to be President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, argued that it would be "wise for the United States to make an explicit move to abandon the Monroe Doctrine." The Linowitz Commission agreed and offered a series of recommendations to that effect—including the return of the Panama Canal to Panama and a decrease in U.S. military aid to the region—that would largely define Carter's Latin American policy.

Exit the Liberal Establishment

Of course, it was not corporate liberalism but rather a resurgent and revanchist militarism from the Right that turned out to offer the most cohesive and, for a time, successful solution to the crises of the 1970s.

Uniting a gathering coalition of old-school law-and-order anticommunists, first generation neoconservatives, and newly empowered evangelicals, the New Right organized an ever metastasizing set of committees, foundations, institutes, and magazines that focused on specific issues—the SALT II nuclear disarmament negotiations, the Panama Canal Treaty, and the proposed MX missile system, as well as U.S. policy in Cuba, South Africa, Rhodesia, Israel, Taiwan, Afghanistan, and Central America. All of them were broadly committed to avenging defeat in Vietnam (and the "stab in the back" by the liberal media and the public at home). They were also intent on restoring righteous purpose to American diplomacy.

As had corporate liberals, so, now, neoconservative intellectuals looked to Latin America to hone their ideas. President Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, for instance, focused mainly on Latin America in laying out the foundational principles of modern neoconservative thought. She was particularly hard on Linowitz, who, she said, represented the "disinterested internationalist spirit" of "appeasement"—a word back with us again. His report, she insisted, meant "abandoning the strategic perspective which has shaped U.S. policy from the Monroe Doctrine down to the eve of the Carter administration, at the center of which was a conception of the national interest and a belief in the moral legitimacy of its defense."

At first, Brookings, the Council on Foreign Affairs, and the Trilateral Commission, as well as the Business Roundtable, founded in 1972 by the crème de la CEO crème, opposed the push to remilitarize American society; but, by the late 1970s, it was clear that "normalization" had failed to solve the global economic crisis. Europe and Japan were not cooperating in stabilizing the dollar, and the economies of Eastern Europe, the USSR, and China were too anemic to absorb sufficient amounts of U.S. capital or serve as profitable trading partners. Throughout the 1970s, financial houses like the Rockefellers' Chase Manhattan Bank had become engorged with petrodollars deposited by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and other oil-exporting nations. They needed to do something with all that money, yet the U.S. economy remained sluggish, and much of the Third World off limits.

So, after Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential victory, mainstream policymakers and intellectuals, many of them self-described liberals, increasingly came to back the Reagan Revolution's domestic and foreign agenda: gutting the welfare state, ramping up defense spending, opening up the Third World to U.S. capital, and jumpstarting the Cold War.

A decade after the Linowitz Commission proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine no longer viable, Ronald Reagan invoked it to justify his administration's patronage of murderous anti-communists in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. A few years after Jimmy Carter announced that the U.S. had broken "free of that inordinate fear of communism," Reagan quoted John F. Kennedy saying, "Communist domination in this hemisphere can never be negotiated."

Reagan's illegal patronage of the Contras—those murderers he hailed as the "moral equivalent of America's founding fathers" and deployed to destabilize Nicaragua's Sandinista government—and his administration's funding of death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala brought together, for the first time, the New Right's two main constituencies. Neoconservatives provided Reagan's revival of the imperial presidency with legal and intellectual justification, while the religious Right backed up the new militarism with grassroots energy.

This partnership was first built—just as it has more recently been continued in Iraq—on a mountain of mutilated corpses: 40,000 Nicaraguans and 70,000 El Salvadorans killed by U.S. allies; 200,000 Guatemalans, many of them Mayan peasants, victimized in a scorched-earth campaign the UN would rule to be genocidal.

The End of the Neocon Holiday from History

The recent Council on Foreign Relations report on Latin America, arriving as it does in another moment of imperial decline, seems once again to signal a new emerging consensus, one similar in tone to that of the post-Vietnam 1970s. In every dimension other than military, Newsweek editor Fareed Zacharia argues in his new book, The Post-American World, "the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from American dominance." (Never mind that, just five years ago, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, he was insisting on the exact opposite—that we now lived in a "unipolar world" where America's position was, and would be, "unprecedented.")

To borrow a phrase from their own lexicon, the neocons' "holiday from history" is over. The fiasco in Iraq, the fall in the value of the dollar, the rise of India and China as new industrial and commercial powerhouses, and of Russia as an energy superpower, the failure to secure the Middle East, soaring oil and gas prices (as well as skyrocketing prices for other key raw materials and basic foodstuffs), and the consolidation of a prosperous Europe have all brought their dreams of global supremacy crashing down.

Barack Obama is obviously the candidate best positioned to walk the U.S. back from the edge of irrelevance. Though no one hoping for a job in his White House would put it in such defeatist terms, the historic task of the next president will not be to win this president's Global War on Terror, but to negotiate America's reentry into a community of nations.

Parag Khanna, an Obama advisor, recently argued that, by maximizing its cultural and technological advantage, the U.S. can, with a little luck, perhaps secure a position as third partner in a new tripartite global order in which Europe and Asia would have equal shares, a distinct echo of the trilateralist position of the 1970s. (Forget those Munich analogies, if the U.S. electorate were more historically literate, Republicans would get better mileage out of branding Obama not Neville Chamberlain, but Spain's Fernando VII or Britain's Clement Richard Attlee, each of whom presided over his country's imperial decline.)

So it has to be asked: If Obama wins in November and tries to implement a more rational, less ideologically incandescent deployment of American power—perhaps using Latin America as a staging ground for a new policy—would it once again provoke the kind of nationalist backlash that purged Rockefellerism from the Republican Party, swept Jimmy Carter out of the White House, and armed the death squads in Central America?

Certainly, there are already plenty of feverish conservative think tanks, from the Hudson Institute to the Heritage Foundation, that would double down on Bush's crusades as a way out of the current mess. But in the 1970s, the New Right was in ascendance; today, it is visibly decomposing. Then, it could lay responsibility for the deep and prolonged crisis that gripped the United States at the feet of the "establishment," while offering solutions—an arms build-up, a renewed push into the Third World, and free-market fundamentalism—that drew much of that establishment into its orbit.

Today, the Right wholly owns the current crisis, along with its most immediate cause, the Iraq War. Even if John McCain were able to squeak out a win in November, he would be the functional equivalent not of Reagan, who embodied a movement on the march, but of Jimmy Carter, trying desperately to hold a fraying coalition together.

The Right's decay as an intellectual force is nowhere more evident than in the fits it throws in the face of the Left's—or China's—advances in Latin America. The self-confidant vitality with which Jeane Kirkpatrick used Latin America to skewer the Carter administration has been replaced with the tinny, desperate shrill of despair. "Who lost Latin America?" asks the Center for Security Policy's Frank Gaffney—of pretty much everyone he meets. The region, he says, is now a "magnet for Islamist terrorists and a breeding ground for hostile political movements… The key leader is Chávez, the billionaire dictator of Venezuela who has declared a Latino jihad against the United States."

Scare-Quote Diplomacy

But just because the Right is unlikely to unfurl its banner over Latin America again soon doesn't mean that U.S. hemispheric diplomacy will be demilitarized. After all, it was Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush, who, at the behest of Lockheed Martin in 1997, reversed a Carter administration ban (based on Linowitz report recommendations) on the sale of high-tech weaponry to Latin America. That, in turn, kicked off a reckless and wasteful Southern Cone arms race. And it was Clinton, not Bush, who dramatically increased military aid to the murderous Colombian government and to corporate mercenaries like Blackwater and Dyncorp, further escalating the misguided U.S. "war on drugs" in Latin America.

In fact, a quick comparison between the Linowitz report and the new Council on Foreign Relations study on Latin America provides a sobering way of measuring just how far right the "liberal establishment" has shifted over the last three decades. The Council does admirably advise Washington to normalize relations with Cuba and engage with Venezuela, while downplaying the possibility of "Islamic terrorists" using the area as a staging ground—a longstanding fantasy of the neocons. (Douglas Feith, former Pentagon undersecretary, suggested that, after 9/11, the U.S. hold off invading Afghanistan and instead bomb Paraguay, which has a large Shi'ite community, just to "surprise" the Sunni al-Qaeda.)

Yet, where the Linowitz report provoked the ire of the likes of Jeane Kirkpatrick by writing that the U.S. should not try to "define the limits of ideological diversity for other nations" and that Latin Americans "can and will assess for themselves the merits and disadvantages of the Cuban approach," the Council is much less open-minded. It insists on presenting Venezuela as a problem the U.S. needs to address—even though the government in Caracas is recognized as legitimate by all and is considered an ally, even a close one, by most Latin American countries. Latin Americans may "know what is best for themselves," as the new report concedes, yet Washington still knows better, and so should back "social justice" issues as a means to win Venezuelans and other Latin Americans away from Chávez.

That the Council report regularly places "social justice" between scare quotes suggests that the phrase is used more as a marketing ploy—kind of like "New Coke"—than to signal that U.S. banks and corporations are willing to make substantive concessions to Latin American nationalists. Seven decades ago, Franklin Roosevelt supported the right of Latin American countries to nationalize U.S. interests, including Standard Oil holdings in Bolivia and Mexico, saying it was time for others in the hemisphere to get their "fair share." Three decades ago, the Linowitz Commission recommended the establishment of a "code of conduct" defining the responsibilities of foreign corporations in the region and recognizing the right of governments to nationalize industries and resources.

The Council, in contrast, sneers at Chávez's far milder efforts to create joint ventures with oil multinationals, while offering nothing but pablum in its place. Its centerpiece recommendation—aimed at cultivating Brazil as a potential anchor of a post-Bush, post-Chávez hemispheric order—urges the abolition of subsidies and tariffs protecting U.S. agro-industry in order to advance a "Biofuel Partnership" with Brazil's own behemoth agricultural sector. This would be an environmental disaster, pushing large, mechanized plantations ever deeper into the Amazon basin, while doing nothing to generate decent jobs or distribute wealth more fairly.

Dominated by representatives from the finance sector of the U.S. economy, the Council recommends little beyond continuing the failed corporate "free trade" policies of the last twenty years—and, in this case, those scare quotes are justified because what they're advocating is about as free as corporate "social justice" is just.

An Obama Doctrine?

So far, Barack Obama promises little better. A few weeks ago, he traveled to Miami and gave a major address on Latin America to the Cuban American National Foundation. It was hardly an auspicious venue for a speech that promised to "engage the people of the region with the respect owed to a partner."

Surely, the priorities for humane engagement would have been different had he been addressing not wealthy right-wing Cuban exiles but an audience, say, of the kinds of Latino migrants in Los Angeles who have revitalized the U.S. labor movement, or of Central American families in Postville, Iowa, where immigration and Justice Department authorities recently staged a massive raid on a meatpacking plant, arresting as many as 700 undocumented workers. Obama did call for comprehensive immigration reform and promised to fulfill Franklin Roosevelt's 68 year-old Four Freedoms agenda, including the social-democratic "freedom from want." Yet he spent much of his speech throwing red meat to his Cuban audience.

Ignoring the not-exactly-radical advice of the Council on Foreign Relations, the candidate pledged to maintain the embargo on Cuba. And then he went further. Sounding a bit like Frank Gaffney, he all but accused the Bush administration of "losing Latin America" and allowing China, Europe, and "demagogues like Hugo Chávez" to step "into the vacuum." He even raised the specter of Iranian influence in the region, pointing out that "just the other day Tehran and Caracas launched a joint bank with their windfall oil profits."

Whatever one's opinion on Hugo Chávez, any diplomacy that claims to take Latin American opinion seriously has to acknowledge one thing: Most of the region's leaders not only don't see him as a "problem," but have joined him on major economic and political initiatives like the Bank of the South, an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the Union of South American Nations, modeled on the European Union, established just two weeks ago. And any U.S. president who is sincere in wanting to help Latin Americans liberate themselves from "want" will have to work with the Latin American left—in all its varieties.

But more ominous than Obama's posturing on Venezuela is his position on Colombia. Critics have long pointed out that the billions of dollars in military aid provided to the Colombian security forces to defeat the FARC insurgency and curtail cocaine production would discourage a negotiated end to the civil war in that country and potentially provoke its escalation into neighboring Andean lands. That's exactly what happened last March, when Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe ordered the bombing of a rebel camp located in Ecuador (possibly with U.S. logistical support supplied from Manta Air Force Base, which gives you an idea of why Correa wants to give it to China). To justify the raid, Uribe explicitly invoked the Bush Doctrine's right of preemptive, unilateral action. In response, Ecuador and Venezuela began to mobilize troops along their border with Colombia, bringing the region to the precipice of war.

Most interestingly, in that conflict, an overwhelming majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries sided with Venezuela and Ecuador, categorically condemning the Colombian raid and reaffirming the sovereignty of individual nations recognized by Franklin Roosevelt long ago. Not Obama, however. He essentially endorsed the Bush administration's drive to transform Colombia's relations with its Andean neighbors into the one Israel has with most of the Middle East. In his Miami speech, he swore that he would "support Colombia's right to strike terrorists who seek safe-havens across its borders."

Equally troublesome has been Obama's endorsement of the controversial Merida Initiative, which human rights groups like Amnesty International have condemned as an application of the "Colombian solution" to Mexico and Central America, providing their militaries and police with a massive infusion of money to combat drugs and gangs. Crime is indeed a serious problem in these countries, and deserves considered attention. It's chilling, however, to have Colombia—where death-squads now have infiltrated every level of government, and where union and other political activists are executed on a regular basis—held up as a model for other parts of Latin America.

Obama, however, not only supports the initiative, but wants to expand it beyond Mexico and Central America. "We must press further south as well," he said in Miami.

It seems that once again that, as in the 1970s, reports of the death of the Monroe Doctrine are greatly exaggerated.

Greg Grandin teaches history at New York University. He is the author of Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism and The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War.

Neo-Nazi Jailed for Terror, Pedophile Offences

Nazi Pedophile Martyn Gilleard

LONDON (AFP) — A court on Wednesday ordered a 16 year jail term against a neo-Nazi who made nail bombs designed to attack black, South Asian and Jewish people.

A judge in Leeds told Martyn Gilleard, who was found guilty by a jury of terror offences Tuesday, that he believed he intended to cause "havoc" with the devices, which were found under a bed at his home. Police made the discovery in October last year when they went to the property in Goole, near Hull, as part of a child pornography inquiry.

There they found about 39,000 indecent images of children as well as large quantities of extreme right-wing literature from the violent far-right group Combat 18.

Military paraphernalia was discovered, such as ammunition, gunpowder, fuses, weapons, camouflage clothing, balaclavas, survival guides, the home-made bombs and a notebook with anti-Semitic and other racist views. A Nazi swastika and Combat 18 logo was also found on a high-visibility jacket at his workplace.

Sentencing him to 11 years for terrorism offences and five years for the child pornography charges, Judge John Milford said Gilleard may not have formulated any specific targets and appeared to be a "lone wolf".
But he added: "It's clear to me you have a deep-seated hatred of persons who are black, Asian and Jewish. You believe that the time has come to stop the talking and to engage in direct action against them.

"I'm satisfied that they were mosques or some other place where black or Asian people were gathered together or demonstrations by those of the left who were opposed to your white supremacist views."

Gilleard, 31, admitted he was a member of far-right groups, including the National Front, the British People's Party and the White Nationalist Party, and told police he sympathised with white supremacists.

But the forklift truck driver claimed the nail bombs were not intended for serious violence and he only made them because he was bored.

Police on Tuesday said Gilleard was an "extremely dangerous individual" and "a terrorist, a man prepared to use violence to divide, or perhaps even attack, our communities."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oregon University Hosts Talk by David Irving

Author convicted of denying Holocaust speaks at Oregon
Associated Press
June 9, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - A British author convicted of denying the Holocaust has been invited to speak at the University of Oregon - but not at the school's invitation.

David Irving served 13 months in prison in Austria for violating the country's law against denying the Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews during World War II.

Irving was invited by the Pacifica Forum, a group that arranges talks at the Oregon campus. University officials say the Pacifica Forum is not affiliated with the school, and Irving's talk was scheduled under a policy that allows retired professors to book rooms on campus.

Irving has been met by protesters at other talks in the past, including Oxford University last November. In April, he lost a court fight against a bed and breakfast owner in England who threw him out after he apparently upset guests.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

'Old Lady' Stadium with a Nazi Past
June 28, 2008

Ernst Happel Stadium in Leopoldstadt, the 2nd district of Vienna, known as the Prater Stadium (Praterstadion) prior to 1992. The stadium was renamed in honour of Ernst Happel following his death in 1992. It will host the Euro 2008 final on 29 June.
For more, see:

VIENNA (AFP) — It may be called rather fetchingly the 'Old Lady' but the stadium for Sunday's Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain has a dark past - it was formerly a site for Nazi propaganda and racial experiments. ...

Story continues

Ky. Official Continues to Work after Conviction

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON, KY. -- An attorney for a Knott County official who was convicted by a federal jury of election fraud said the official will stay in office while he fights the charge.

Judge-Executive Randall C. Thompson was one of four county officials who were convicted Thursday in a scheme to offer paving work in exchange for votes.

His attorney, Terry D. Jacobs, said he will continue to show up for work as long as he is allowed to do so.

Allison Martin, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office, said state law allows Thompson to stay in office while his appeals are pending, even if he is in prison.

Thompson was were found guilty on one count of conspiracy to buy votes and conspiracy to misappropriate federal funds and one count of misappropriating federal funds.

Federal prosecutors said the officials conspired to pave private driveways and repair private bridges in exchange for votes.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Al Gross, CIA Inventor of Walkie Talkie

Globe and Mail
January 16, 2001

Radio phone inventor 'born too soon'

PHOENIX -- Al Gross, Canadian-born inventor of the walkie-talkie and a father of wireless communication, once said he believed he was born 35 years too soon. He died Dec. 21 in Sun City, Ariz., at age 82. When Mr. Gross, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Cleveland, demonstrated his prototype pager at a medical conference in 1956, it flopped. Doctors told him they didn't want to be bothered during their golf games. Decades later, it delighted him to see such wide use of cellular phones and pagers, a technological offshoot of his first devices.

He earned a degree in electrical engineering at Cleveland's Case School of
Applied Science, now Case Western Reserve University.

Seeing the potential for walkie-talkies, the U.S. military recruited Mr.
Gross into the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the Central
Intelligence Agency.

There he developed a ground-to-air, battery-operated radio that could
transmit up to 50 kilometres. The device is credited with saving lives
during the Second World War. After the war, he formed the Citizens' Radio
Corp. in Cleveland to produce two-way radios for the public. His success
gave Mr. Gross the freedom and money to continue inventing. In 1949, he
devised the first wireless pager. That was followed in 1951 by his wireless
telephone. In 1959, he began to work in the aerospace industry,
contributing critical work for timing devices in Titan, Atlas and Minuteman

His contribution to pop culture came in the late 1940s, when Dick Tracy
cartoonist Chester Gould visited the Gross workshop. Mr. Gould saw two
items that sparked a brainstorm: a watch with a built-in beeper and a
wireless microphone. "Can I use this?" he asked the inventor, who agreed to
the request. In 1948, the comic-strip detective made his debut as a crime
fighter aided by a two-way wrist radio. Mr. Gross's ideas, for which he
held many patents, were so far advanced that most expired before the world
was ready for his inventions, and he didn't make much money.

"I was born 35 years too soon," he once told the Arizona Republic. "If I
still had the patents on my inventions, Bill Gates would have to stand
aside for me."

2003 Introduction to "The Seizing of the American Broadcasting Company"

Note: Andy Boehm, author of "The Seizing of the American Broadcasting Company," was the editor of Prevailing Winds, the now-defunct anti-fascist samizdat catalogue that ran my articles in the mid-'90s, and first published the subject of this essay by Jim DiEugenio, Andy's classic study of Cap Cities/ABC and its bonds to the CIA. Andy is also a close friend of mine. He was hit by a car while crossing the street in Santa Barbara a few years ago, and suffers chronic incapacitation and pain. He is no longer writing. Andy's contributions to legitimate journalism, all too rare in the Fox Age, were guttered by the accident, an immense loss to the Mae Brussell school of political research and the journalistic wasteland beyond. - AC

William Casey

At the time it appeared, Andy Boehm's article was the most thoughtful analysis of William Casey's maneuvering to take over ABC. In fact, it was the only article we were aware of to consider the serious questions that this leveraged buyout posed. At the time it occurred, it was the most blatant attempt yet at controlling the broadcast media by an intelligence officer who was also a friend, ally, and investor in corporate sponsored media; in this specific case, Cap Cities, the entity Casey used to orchestrate the buyout. Of course, Casey's 1985 maneuvering foreshadowed a creeping control by corporate-CIA friendly investors that later broke into a full gallop. Two present day examples would be the Fox Network controlled by rightwing GOP crony Rupert Murdoch, and the Clear Channel radio network whose Texas owners are friendly with President Bush and reportedly sponsored the pro-Iraq war demonstrations to blunt the effect of the huge anti-war demonstrations held last year. Perhaps if more reporters would have examined the Cap Cities/ABC buyout, the warning sounds of what was to come to pass in American media would have been clearer and louder.

Boehm's article was generally overlooked at the time. Although today, in light of the above, it has even more relevancy than when it was published. But the article has one serious shortcoming that necessitates this introduction. It does not spell out clearly enough why CIA Director Casey was so angry with ABC and so determined to get his friends and fellow investors at Cap Cities to move in on it. Boehm refers to this in a brief section of his essay as follows: " The CIA was ostensibly upset because on Sept. 19-20, 1984, ABC News had aired allegations that the agency had contracted for the murder of Ron Rewald, a Honolulu swindler who claimed that his scams were directed by the CIA, of which he claimed to be a secret agent." (Italics added) ...

Story continues

Visual Arts: Grappling with Fascism's Genetic Obsessions

" ... The current exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, The 1930s: The Making of "The New Man," continues in this tradition. It grapples fearlessly with a gargantuan theme - the rise of fascism in Europe ... "

Grappling with fascism's genetic obsessions

A new National Gallery show explores the scientific seedbed in which many Nazi notions took root.

Globe & Mail
June 14, 2008

OTTAWA -- The term "blockbuster" tends to give off a bad smell in critical circles, conjuring up visions of Monet water-lily umbrellas, coffee mugs à la Degas and crowds, crowds, crowds. In Canada, two men have been largely responsible for lifting us above this commercialized morass: Jean Clair, the Paris-based writer, curator and former director of the Musée National Picasso, and his Canadian colleague Pierre Théberge, now in his final year at the helm at Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada.

Their association goes back to 1967, when Jean Clair was in his salad days, serving briefly as a curator at the NGC. (His legal name is Gérard Régnier; he had created his nom de plume in 1961 for the publication of his first novel, as a genuflection to French filmmaker René Clair.) Théberge was also working at the gallery as a fledgling curator at the time, and the two shared a creative flair for showmanship unusual in the museum world.

As their careers ascended, so did the scale of their ambitions. When Théberge moved to the directorship of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1986, Jean Clair helped to orchestrate a number of its most memorable and meaty shows, among them The Twenties: Age of the Metropolis, and Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe. After Théberge's move to the NGC in 1998, the collaboration continued, with Jean Clair producing the 2004 exhibition The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown.

The current exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, The 1930s: The Making of "The New Man," continues in this tradition. It grapples fearlessly with a gargantuan theme - the rise of fascism in Europe - with an eclectic reach and an amiable air of non-conformity. Like Jean Clair's earlier shows, it feels pulled from the oven before it's been fully baked - some of the themes are not clearly developed enough - but it leaves you with lots to think about and a sheaf of new images floating in your head. As an experiment in popular education, it must be counted a success.

There have been many exhibitions about the thirties, a period much mined by historians and art historians alike. This show, however, takes a somewhat novel approach, underscoring the rise of science - in particular biology and the study of regeneration and genetics - as the ideological seedbed in which dangerous notions of human perfectibility and genetic hygiene took root. The idea of man having the capacity to fashion his own future, to modify, control and improve the self in accord with a heroic vision of newly industrialized society, held enormous allure. Western culture from Leningrad to Los Angeles was besotted with notions of modernity, progress and human mastery. Who knew where it would lead?

The exhibition opens with a display of biomorphic abstract sculptures. Max Ernst's Mysterious Egg, a sculpted granite form bedded down in sand, greets you at the entrance, where it keeps company with related works by Hans Arp, Naum Gabo and others, objects inspired by the photographs of cellular life that had suddenly become widely available to the mass public.

The show includes a suite of such photographs by German Carl Struwe, and a film on cell division in Stickleback fish eggs by Jean Painlevé, a French filmmaker with an underground following among artists of the period. Wassily Kandinsky found these images a great inspiration, and the show includes several canvases demonstrating his indebtedness to these scientific sources.

But here's the show's vulnerability: Those paintings exemplify the theme, but they are not great Kandinskys. Thematic concerns are permitted to trump aesthetic accomplishment at several critical junctures in this show, and at times the dreck quotient gets close to overflowing. Ultimately, though, the composite of the good, the bad and the ugly allows you to develop a sense of the period unfiltered by art history's calcified hierarchies. It's a tricky balance, but Jean Clair pulls it off.

The show progresses through its argument, with a room devoted to surrealism - visceral and disturbing bronzes by French-American sculptor Gaston Lachaise (his Female Acrobat: a multibreasted organism with erupting labial cleavage); photo-collages of cut-up dolls by Hans Bellmer; André Kertesz's hallucinatory distortions; Alberto Giacometti's convulsive sculpture Woman with Her Throat Cut; and Picasso's figurative hybrids of man, beast and machine - all of them works that violently rebel against minimalist utopian purity.

Turning from this salon of unreason, though, you meet the stern gaze of Mussolini - a chillingly sleek bronze bust by Adolfo Wildt that stands at the entrance to a gallery filled with representations of the era's dictators. Here, again, one discovers a mixed bag: scorchingly satirical anti-Nazi collages from 1935 by German John Heartfield share the stage with Gerardo Dottori's Il Duce, a hackneyed, quasi-Cubist portrait embellished with bombs and fighter planes. Shifting gears, the viewer must navigate a terrain of aesthetic high and low, of political left and right, but the different kinds of artistic works brought together deliver a three-dimensional view. If it's social history you're after, kitsch can sometimes be as revealing as a work of genius.

Throughout, Jean Clair has chosen his themes judiciously. The show takes us through the collective fascination with the health and purity of the body (expressed by the fetishization of athleticism, and the dark art of eugenics), revealed with particular clarity in the photographs of Alexander Rodchenko. Here, the human body takes on a kind of machine-tooled perfection. One gallery is devoted to the motif of Mother Earth (in fascist iconography, the Earth is invariably mother, the leader is the father, and the citizens are the children); another, to the embrace of classical motifs by dictators who sought to honour themselves by association.

The most striking passages, from an aesthetic standpoint, are the galleries devoted to the humanist portrait, a strength in 1930s art that arose in response to totalitarianism. (Among the high points are the hyperrealist paintings by Christian Schad and Stanley Spencer; and an exquisite self-portrait by Otto Dix); and August Sanders's eloquent photographic series, People of the 20th Century, a portrait of German citizens - from bricklayers to artists to university professors to financiers - installed here within earshot of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. Subsequent galleries bring together photos and paintings of crowd scenes, and representations of the apocalyptic pan-European conflict that brought the modernist obsession with human perfectibility to a head.

This section, near the show's conclusion, includes some of the exhibition's most spectacular loans, such as Salvador Dali's famous 1936 painting Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), in which an enormous human figure (reminiscent of Goya's giants) seems to divide like a cell, one part of his anatomy holding the other in a fierce grip of terror. A small figure who looks like Lenin picks his way through the rubble of this shattered landscape.

In the show's final room, Jean Clair creates a mood of reverence and stillness, assembling a display of drawings made in concentration camps by Canadian war artists Alex Colville and Aba Bayefsky, Gershon Iskowitz (a Polish émigré to Canada who was a prisoner at both Auschwitz and Buchenwald), and Zoran Music (a survivor of Dachau). The exhibition, which began with the motif of the egg and the idea of regeneration, ends up here, in a pile of bones - the remnants of lives annihilated by ideas that haunt us still.

The 1930s: The Making of 'The New Man' continues at the National Gallery until Sept. 7 ( or 1-800-319-2787).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Right-wing Coup Threat in Bolivia

June 16, 2008
Karl Debbaut

Bolivia is awash with rumors about an impending right-wing coup against the elected government of president Evo Morales. These rumors took on more importance as the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez invited Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, and Carlos Lage, vice-president of Cuba, to Caracas for a summit to discuss how to defend the Bolivian government in the event of a coup.

If the ruling class persist with their attempts to overthrow the Morales government, the country could be drawn into a civil war with devastating consequences. What is developing today in Bolivia is a struggle between revolution and counter-revolution. This poses the immediate question for the working class and poor of what measures are needed to avoid defeat.

The Morales government has been in power for just over two years. It has been a popular government but at no point has it sought to organize the mass of the population and workers to implement a socialist program. To avoid defeat it is now urgent to cast aside the illusion that Bolivia can have socialism without affecting capitalism.

The situation now unfolding in Bolivia calls for the immediate mobilization and organization of the working class to take the revolution forward and avoid repeating the mistakes of the Allende government in Chile in the early 1970s.

Autonomy to Referendum

Evo Morales, the first indigenous president in the history of Bolivia, fulfilled his election promise to rewrite the country’s constitution and give more rights to the country’s indigenous majority - who throughout Bolivia’s history have been exploited and discriminated against by a minority of European descent.

His government party, MAS (Movement towards Socialism), promised to nationalize the oil and gas industry of the country and to implement far-reaching land reform.

The road toward the acceptance of a new constitution, written by the delegates of an elected constitutional assembly, has repeatedly been postponed and sabotaged by the right-wing minority around the opposition party Podemos.

The MAS has the majority in the Bolivian Chamber of Deputies with 72 seats against the 43 seats of Podemos. In the Senate, Podemos holds a small majority. After a long struggle the Senate approved the text of the constitution on 28 February 2008 to be put to a national referendum while the right-wing in the states of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Chuquisaca and Cochabamba announced simultaneous local referenda on autonomy.

In this way, the ruling elite in the Eastern states, which still refuses to acknowledge the proposed draft constitution, is trying to split the country, provoke a political confrontation and prepare for violence including the possibility of civil war.

The MAS government abided by the ruling of the national electoral commission and called off the constitutional referendum. The department of Santa Cruz, the focal point of the opposition to the MAS government, went ahead with its referendum on autonomy.

Land and Freedom?

The Eastern lowlands are where the bulk of Bolivia’s oil and natural gas deposits are to be found. It is also where most of the arable land is owned by a small minority in huge estates.

In Santa Cruz 15 families control half a million hectares of land. For the peasants working on these landholdings conditions have been the same for 200 years. At least 500 families live in serfdom, tied to the land and the landlord. More than 8,000 children between the ages of 5 to 14, work on sugar plantations without receiving wages, education or health services.

Part of the proposed constitutional referendum is to limit the size of the landed estates to 5,000 or 10,000 hectares and to give ‘autonomy’ to the indigenous people. Of course, the right wing in the east wants autonomy for itself - the autonomy to exploit the natural resources and the people.

The right-wing in Santa Cruz and the east use racism and discrimination as a method to sustain their rule. Racism and discrimination against the indigenous people has been a central feature in Bolivia, as in most other countries in Latin America, from the time of the colonization by Spanish imperialism.

Armed Repression

The landowners employ paramilitary forces to protect their holdings and to expand their lands illegally, evicting indigenous groups and subsistence farmers.

The Comité Pro-Santa Cruz, the campaigning organization for autonomy for the east, is made up of the main business organizations in the department.
Together with the Juventud Crucenista and several semi-fascist organizations, they are terrorizing anyone who dares to challenge their authority. The houses of local trade union leaders have been fire-bombed and pro-MAS demonstrations are attacked by thugs.

The MAS was one of the most popular party in Santa Cruz, both in the 2005 elections and in the elections to the Constituent Assembly. The key issue, however, is that the MAS has not been able to undercut the social basis of the right-wing, has stalled on land reform and has let itself be intimidated by armed groups.


It is clear that the right wing in Santa Cruz together with the elite which has plundered Bolivia in the interests of international capitalism for decades is not going to allow power to slip from its hands without a fight. The weakness of the Morales government has been that it has not used its majority to break the power of the right wing by overthrowing capitalism.

The renegotiation of the hydro-carbon contracts with the multinationals was hailed by the majority of Bolivians as a step in the right direction. Since then the illusion entertained by the government that it is possible to come to a compromise with the ruling class and build ‘Andean capitalism' has paralyzed the government.

The weakness of the Morales government and its refusal to build the MAS from a coalition of movements into a political party capable of leading a united struggle of the workers and poor, has invited more right-wing aggression.

A coup or a civil war would have devastating consequences for the workers, poor and indigenous people of Bolivia. Immediate measures must be taken to counter the threat of a coup. The CWI calls for the formation of a defense organization, bringing together the trade unions, social movements
and the indigenous federations.

Measures should be taken immediately to organize propaganda among the army, organize the conscripts into committees for the defense of the revolution, to prepare to refuse to obey orders that are aimed against the government, and to agitate in favor of the election of officers. Workers
and peasants’ militia should immediately be formed.

The elected committees in workplaces and local communities should come together on a city, regional and national level, organized on a socialist program, and start taking over the daily running of society. This would be the embryo for organizing a peasants’ and workers’ government, and a
future workers’ and peasants’ state to start building a socialist society.

The CWI calls for an international campaign to be organized in defense of the Bolivian revolution.

"Drill Now" Usual Rightwing Diversion from Real Energy Independence Policy

By Nathan Newman
Policy Director, Progressive States Network

"Drill now" for oil off our state coasts may make for cute, well-polled political rhetoric, but it is sadly typical of the oil-industry-funded propaganda that has diverted attention from real energy solutions for decades. This particular campaign is thebrainchild of Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives who resigned his office in disgrace, and now John McCain is aping Newt's rhetoric. Here's the reality of the proposal for offshore drilling:

No Help for Gas Prices Now: McCain's own top economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, admitted it would have no immediate effect on supplies or prices and McCain himself said the plan would have mostly "psychological" benefits. In fact, the Energy Information Administration says that new offshore drilling wouldn't have "a significant impact" on gas prices until 2030 (yes, that's twenty-two years from now).

Little Help in the Future: Combine estimates of offshore oil and drilling in Alaska's ANWR reserve and you still, decades from now, add only an additional 1 percent of world production in the far off future -- an amount that economist Dean Baker estimates would lower prices by about $0.08 on a $4.00 gallon of gas.

But "Drill Now" is a Big Fundraiser for the Rightwing: On the other hand, Newt Gingrich's new "American Solutions" front group has reportedly raised millions hyping this rhetorical distraction on his fundraising page.

At best, instead of pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the hands of countries and companies based thousands of miles overseas, consumers will be pumping a portion of those billions to Exxon Mobil running rigs a hundred miles or so offshore.

No energy jobs for most communities from drilling, but plenty from kicking the oil habit: That kind of "energy independence" won't create jobs in most communities, since those oil dollars will still be pumped right out of your community and state. As U.S. PIRG highlights in a new report published just this week, Squandering the Stimulus, the federal stimulus checks are not helping local economies since increased gas prices mean families are essentially just signing their checks over to big oil companies like Exxon Mobil or sending them to oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia.

On the other hand, high gas prices can be transformed by state policymakers into local green jobs with the right political will. For example:

• As General Motors and other companies promise to deliver plug-in electric cars within two years, it's worth remembering that the electricity powering those cars can then come from local sources -- solar, wind, cogeneration, biofuels -- which will create jobs in states across the country.

• Expanding mass transit means not only power can come from local sources, but there will be jobs building the mass transit network, something many cities are recognizing.

• If we retrofit homes and businesses to use less or no oil fuel, we will create tens of thousands of new construction jobs, replacing many jobs lost with the current subprime meltdown of new construction.

Americans are spending hundreds of billions of dollars ever year on oil and gasoline. Instead of propping up that oil habit with false promises of offshore drilling, we can instead spend that money on green transit and heating options that will not only help save the planet from a climate catastrophe, but will also create green jobs in every community.

Sources of Additional Information

PERI, Job Opportunities for the Green Economy: A State-by-State Picture of Occupations that Gain from Green Investments

Apollo Alliance, State Leadership for a New Energy Future

COWS, Workforce Alliance, and Apollo Alliance, Greener Pathways

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, A Better Way to Go: Meeting America's 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit

Nathan Newman, a lawyer and Ph.D., has an extensive history of supporting local policy campaigns, from coalition organizing work to drafting legislation. Previous to coming to Progressive States Network, he was Associate Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, Program Director of NetAction's Consumer Choice Campaign, co-director of the UC-Berkeley Center for Community Economic Research, and a labor and employment lawyer. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and has written extensively about public policy and the legal system in a range of academic and popular journals.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Path to 9/11: PART 19 - Los Alamos, Fleishman Hillard, ES&S Revisited & an Original Blue Dog


Baltimore: Police Spying Alleged

" ... Officials from the NSA said they were unable to comment. Thursday's suit is the latest in a series of battles among local peace activists, the NSA, and federal and local law enforcement. Previous court documents in related cases have shown that the NSA has used law enforcement agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, to monitor anti-war groups such as Pledge of Resistance, a group loosely affiliated with the local chapter of the American Friends Service Committee. The committee's members include many veteran city peace activists with a history of nonviolent civil disobedience. ... "

Suit claims Md. State Police surveilled peace activists
By Brent Jones
Sun reporter
June 12, 2008

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is suing the Maryland State Police to get records it believes may show local authorities aided the federal government in spying on peace activists during several annual protests outside the National Security Agency.

Filed Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court, the lawsuit alleges that state police have refused to disclose a record related to the surveillance despite public information requests.

Court papers state that a "Baltimore Intel Unit" had monitored many individual peace activists as they gathered at the American Friends Service Committee and prepared to protest in 2003 at the NSA, based at Fort Meade.

The monitoring of individuals and groups before protests, according to the lawsuit, went on for years, and was documented in part by state police. In August 2006, the groups, which include the American Friends Service Committee, Jonah House, Baltimore Pledge of Resistance and Baltimore Emergency Response Network, filed public information requests through the ACLU with federal, state and local organizations seeking the records.

NSA officials, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense have all acknowledged that they have information related to the requests, but none has released the records, according to the ACLU.

NSA officials have cited a backlog of public information requests, while the Department of Homeland Security has not determined what records to release, according to ACLU documents.

ACLU officials say they are waiting to hear from the Department of Defense, which is in the process of determining what, if any, documents to release.

David Rocah, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, said the lawsuit was filed against state police because the department has flatly refused to turn over documents. State police officials said in a January 2007 letter to lawyers for the ACLU that the identity of a confidential source would be compromised if the documents were released, as well as investigative techniques.

"Well why is there is a confidential source? I don't need to know the person's name, but why is there one in the first place? In order to invoke that exception, they have to provide evidence that they promised someone confidentiality. And they haven't done that," Rocah said. "The root cause for all this is to try and find out who were surveying these political protesters and why."

Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman, said the department could not address the specifics of the case. "The Maryland State Police is aware of the lawsuit. Our legal counsel staff is addressing it," Shipley said.

Officials from the NSA said they were unable to comment.

Thursday's suit is the latest in a series of battles among local peace activists, the NSA, and federal and local law enforcement.

Previous court documents in related cases have shown that the NSA has used law enforcement agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, to monitor anti-war groups such as Pledge of Resistance, a group loosely affiliated with the local chapter of the American Friends Service Committee. The committee's members include many veteran city peace activists with a history of nonviolent civil disobedience.

An internal NSA e-mail, posted on two Internet sites in January 2006, showed how operatives with the "Baltimore Intel Unit" provided a minute-by-minute account of Pledge of Resistance's preparations for a July 2004 protest at Fort Meade. An attorney for the demonstrators said then that he obtained the document from NSA through the discovery process.

In 2005, a federal judge in Baltimore threw out charges against two protesters charged with trespassing at the NSA. The protesters, Ellen E. Barfield and Max J. Obuszewski, had been ordered by an NSA police officer in July 2004 to move from a guard shack to a visitors parking lot during a demonstration.

Barfield and Obuszewski declined and were given criminal citations charging them with failing to obey an order to leave the agency's property. But the judge ruled that the guard shack and parking lot were within the protected space.

Those two are part of many individuals and groups who have protested at the NSA every year since 1996 -- with more recent visits opposing the war in Iraq and the agency's electronic surveillance program.

Antonin Scalia and Police-State Rule

" ... The media frequently refers to 'the brilliant Antonin Scalia.' ... He is a thug in black robes, who talks and acts like a gangster. When asked about criticism that the 2000 election ruling was based on his personal political preferences, Scalia replied with consummate arrogance that people should 'Get over it.' ... "

By David Walsh
14 June 2008

On June 12 the United States Supreme Court, by a 5-to-4 vote, ruled that so-called “enemy combatants” held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba have the right to challenge their detention in US courts.

Many of the inmates have been held for six years at Guantánamo, under barbaric conditions. None of them have been found guilty of a crime in a court of law.

The four dissenting Supreme Court justices, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Joseph Alito, defend the right of the Bush administration to proceed in its “war on terror” with utter disregard for the Constitution and elementary democratic rights. They are, in essence, proponents of authoritarian rule. The savagery at Guantánamo is not a source of shame or even concern for them, but the wave of the future.

Chief Justice Roberts, in his dissenting opinion, denounced the majority view, arguing that the “political branches” (the executive and the Congress) had “crafted these procedures [for trials of detainees] amidst an ongoing military conflict, after much careful investigation and thorough debate.” The former—“the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants,” according to Roberts—include interrogation through coercion and torture and kangaroo courts run by the military.

Roberts, in one extraordinary passage, observes that “The majority rests its decision on abstract and hypothetical concerns.” There is nothing “abstract and hypothetical” about the denial of basic rights to the Guantánamo prisoners or the character of their detention. In December 2004, for instance, the Washington Post reported the allegations of an FBI agent who revealed that inmates at Guantánamo “were shackled to the floor in fetal positions for more than 24 hours at a time, left without food and water, and allowed to defecate on themselves.” Other techniques included the use of growling dogs, extreme heat and cold and sexual humiliation. ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero told the Post that the incidents described in the FBI documents “can only be described as torture.”

While Roberts retains a “respectful” tone throughout most of his dissent, Antonin Scalia cannot control his anger and venom. In his dissent, this extreme right-winger writes a political diatribe. He begins by lambasting the “disastrous consequences of what the Court has done today.”

Scalia then adds up the American victims of the alleged “war with radical Islamists.” He goes on, “The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Shamelessly, Scalia argues that had the military not been assured by Bush administration legal advisers that Guantánamo was outside the jurisdiction of the federal court system, it would not have transported the detainees there, “but would have kept them in Afghanistan, transferred them to another of our foreign military bases, or turned them over to allies for detention. Those other facilities might well have been worse for the detainees themselves.”

He heaps scorn on the majority for refusing to bow down before Bush and Congress and declaring unconstitutional provisions of the 2006 Military Commissions Act. Scalia observes bitterly at one point that the majority “cannot resist striking a pose of faux deference to Congress and the President,” when presumably they should be showing genuine deference to a widely despised president and a discredited Congress, responsible for an illegal, unpopular war.

The court majority in its ruling, claims Scalia, “elbows aside” not only the military, but “Congress and the Executive—both political branches,” which “have determined that limiting the role of civilian courts in adjudicating whether prisoners captured abroad are properly detained is important to success in the war that some 190,000 of our men and women are now fighting.” This is simply a right-wing, demagogic appeal, not a reasoned legal opinion. He concludes, threateningly, “And, most tragically, it sets our military commanders the impossible task of proving to a civilian court, under whatever standards this Court devises in the future, that evidence supports the confinement of each and every enemy prisoner. The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.”

The media frequently refers to “the brilliant Antonin Scalia,” in an attempt to endow a veneer of intellectual respectability to a legal “philosophy” that draws its inspiration from the religious obscurantism of the Inquisition and the political aims of extreme reaction. It is well known that Scalia’s approach to legal issues is unprincipled and cynical. Scalia decides his cases on the basis of political convictions, which are rabidly antidemocratic, and then works backward to concoct a sophistical justification for the objective he has decided on in advance.

In calling a halt to the recount of the presidential vote in Florida in 2000 and installing George W. Bush in power, for example, Scalia and the four other majority justices insisted that their ruling set no precedent and could not be used to justify any future court decision. When it suits his purpose, as in the present case involving the Guantánamo detainees, Scalia denounces “judicial activism.”

He is a thug in black robes, who talks and acts like a gangster. When asked about criticism that the 2000 election ruling was based on his personal political preferences, Scalia replied with consummate arrogance that people should “Get over it.”

A number of observers have noted the apparent influence of reactionary German legal thinker Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) on Scalia and other right-wing judges.

A thoroughly unsavory figure, Schmitt became a professor at the University of Berlin in 1933, the same year he joined the Nazi party. Hermann Göring appointed him Prussian State Councilor and Schmitt became president of the Union of National-Socialist Jurists in November 1933. In October 1936 he put himself forward as a rabid anti-Semite, calling for German law to be cleansed of the “Jewish spirit” and all publications of Jewish scientists to be marked with a small symbol. He later had a falling out with sections of the Nazi movement, but he retained his professorship thanks to Göring.

Schmitt, a virulent anticommunist and opponent of liberalism, is closely identified with the concept of “exception,” which asserted that rapid changes in the political situation rendered any legal system built on fixed legal codes unstable. He is a kind of theorist of permanent emergency powers. A well-known example of the practical implications of the theory of exception was given by Schmitt in the aftermath of the “Night of the Long Knives” on June 30, 1934, during which Hitler carried out a bloody purge of suspected dissidents within his own movement. Schmitt sanctioned the event—involving the murder of several thousand people—as the highest form of administrative justice.

Scott Horton on the Harper’s magazine web site noted June 13 that “the notion of a state of exception ... underlies the whole architecture of Bush war on terror policies. Simply put, these policies argue that while the Executive is limited by the checks and balances of the American constitution during peacetime and at home, all those shackles fall away when war erupts and when he acts outside the nation’s territory.”

Horton continues: “The true roots of this notion lie in the thinking of a troubling figure, Carl Schmitt. The most important conservative legal thinker on the European continent between the wars, Schmitt felt that modern liberal democracy crafted on the Anglo-American model was too weak to cope with the social and political shockwaves that racked Europe between the wars.... For the past seven years, Americans have witnessed an effort to engineer a ‘state of exception’ to the American constitution.”

Scalia and the other extreme right-wingers on the Supreme Court, not to beat around the bush, represent a fascistic element, who hold democratic rights in contempt and in whose theory of jurisprudence the interests of the state take precedence over everything else.

If Scalia proceeds with a peculiar arrogance and self-confidence, it is because he feels, on the one hand, that he has a definite political constituency behind him, and on the other, that his liberal opponents will wring their hands but do nothing. And in this latter conviction, he is entirely correct.

While the right wing has never shied away from slandering and calling for the removal of Supreme Court justices of which it did not approve, such as William O. Douglas and others, no one in the establishment liberal media, much less the Democratic Party, would suggest that the current filthy lot of right-wing conspirators on the high court should simply be impeached and removed.

Friday’s New York Times editorial exemplified this impotent approach. While the Times recognizes that Bush “has denied the protections of justice, democracy and plain human decency to the hundreds of men that he decided to label ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ and throw into never-ending detention,” and that the Supreme Court “turned back the most recent effort to subvert justice” only by the narrowest of margins, its editors draw no far-reaching political conclusions from these extraordinary and alarming facts.

“It was disturbing,” writes the newspaper, “that four justices dissented from this eminently reasonable decision.” The Times, as always, puts the mildest interpretation on the event and fails to investigate the socio-political significance of the fact “that habeas hangs by a single vote in the Supreme Court of the United States,” i.e., that one vote separates the American political machinery from an open endorsement of police-state rule.

The editorial’s punch line, of course, is that the decision is “a reminder that the composition of the court could depend on the outcome of this year’s presidential election.” But recent history, the Times’ own lack of outrage, and the character of the Barack Obama campaign put the lie to this claim.

American liberalism has done nothing to prevent the wholesale assault on democratic rights over the past decade—the hijacking of a national election, the stampede to an illegal war, the ripping up of the Bill of Rights. On the contrary, the Democrats have either stood by uselessly or joined in the assault, voting in large numbers to authorize the war against Iraq, helping to pass the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act and a myriad of other pieces of reactionary legislation. To rely on Obama, the Times, and the corpse of American liberalism to defend habeas corpus or democratic rights as a whole would be fatal.

See Also:

US Supreme Court upholds habeas corpus for Guantánamo Bay prisoners
[13 June 2008]
Supreme Court overrides US voters: a ruling that will live in infamy
[14 December 2000]