Olbermann: Filibluster (video)

Dandelion Salad

July 18, 2007

Advertisements

Kissinger’s Secret Meeting With Putin By Mike Whitney

Kissinger’s Secret Meeting With Putin

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/18/07 “ICH

“RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian strategic bombers heading for British airspace yesterday, as the spirit of the Cold War returned to the North Atlantic once again. The incident, described as rare by the RAF, served as a telling metaphor for the stand-off between London and Moscow over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.” (Times Online, Richard Beeston; “RAF scrambles to intercept Russian bombers, 7-18-07)

Men are always wicked at bottom unless they are made good by some compulsion.” Niccoló Macchiavelli

When a political heavyweight, like Henry Kissinger, jets-off on a secret mission to Moscow; it usually shows up in the news.

Not this time.

This time the media completely ignored—or should we say censored—Kissinger’s trip to Russia and his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, apart from a few short blurps in the Moscow Times and one measly article in the UK Guardian, no major news organization even covered the story. There hasn’t been as much as a peep out of anyone in the American media.

Nothing. That means the meetings were probably arranged by Dick Cheney. The secretive Veep doesn’t like anyone knowing what he’s up to.

Kissinger was accompanied on his junket by a delegation of high-powered political and corporate big-wigs including former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., former Senator Sam Nunn and Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David O’Reilly.

Wow. Now, there’s an impressive line up.The group was (presumably) sent to carry out official government business as discreetly as possible. The media obviously complied with White House requests and kept their mouths shut.

Isn’t the First amendment great?

The array of talent in Kissinger’s delegation suggests that the US and Russia are engaged in sensitive, high-level talks on issues ranging from nonproliferation and Missile Defense, to energy exploration and development, to the Iranian “enrichment” program and partitioning of Serbia (Kosovo), to the falling dollar and the massive US current account deficit. The US and Russia are at loggerheads on many of these issues and relations between the two countries has steadily deteriorated.

No one really knows what took place at the meetings, but judging by Kissinger’s parting remarks; things did not go smoothly. He said to one reporter, “We appreciate the time that President Putin gave us and the frank manner in which he explained his point of view.”

In diplomatic phraseology, “frank” usually means that there were many areas of strong disagreement. Presumably, the main “bone of contention” is Putin’s insistence on a “multi-polar” world in which the sovereign rights of other nations is safeguarded under international law. Putin is ferociously nationalistic and he will not compromise Russia’s independence to be integrated into Kissinger and Co.’s wacky the new world order.

The Empire Strikes Back

Less than 48 hours after the “Russia-USA: A View on the Future” conference had ended, British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband announced that the British government “would expel four diplomats from the Russian Embassy in London in response to Russia’s refusal to extradite Andrei K. Lugovoi, whom the British prosecutors accused of using radioactive Polonium 210 to poison a Kremlin critic and former K.G.B. agent, Alexander Litvinenko, last fall.” (New York Times)

The expulsion of the diplomats is a clear indication that Bush ordered his “new poodle” Gordon Brown to begin a campaign of harassment against Russia.

The British action is unprecedented and outlandish. The Russian Foreign Ministry was evidently thunderstruck by the move. After all, Britain has refused to honor 21 requests from Russia to extradite gangster-oligarch Boris Berezovsky and the Chechen rebel leader Akhmed Zakayev, who currently live in London. As Deputy foreign minister Alexander V. Grushko said, “If Russia used the same formula, the British embassy would be short about 80 diplomats now.” The hypocrisy is shocking to say the least.

Besides, who is going to believe that the British government has taken a sudden interest in the death of a former-KGB agent? Heck, the Brits kill more Iraqis in a day around Basra then anyone in the Kremlin kills in a year. The whole thing stinks of political opportunism much like the investigation of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Russia is presently exploring its options for retaliation, but the implications of unexpected clash are obvious; the US and Britain have placed Russia on their “enemies list” and are planning to execute a guerilla war of harassment, slander, and covert operations intended to deepen the divisions between Europe and Russia. Naturally, Putin will continue to be demonized in the western media as a looming threat to democratic values.

Ultimately, the goal is to pit Europe against Russia while the Pentagon, the CIA, and M-15 settle on a long-term strategy for gaining access to vital petroleum and natural gas supplies in Central Asia and the Caspian Basin. That is still the main objective and both Putin and Kissinger know it.

So far, Putin appears to have the upper-hand in this regard because he has skillfully strengthened alliances with his regional allies–under the rubric of the Commonwealth of Independent States—and because most of the natural gas from Eurasia is pumped through Russian pipelines. An article in “Today’s Zaman” gives a good snapshot of Russia’s position vis a vis natural resources in the region:

“As far as natural resources are concerned Russia’s hand is very strong: It holds 6.6 percent of the worlds proven oil reserves and 26 percent of the world’s gas reserves. In addition, it currently accounts for 12 percent of world oil and 21 of recent world gas production. In May 2007, Russia was the world’s largest oil and gas producer.

As for national champions, Putin has strengthened and prepared Gazprom (the state-controlled gas company), Transneft (oil pipeline monopoly) and Rosneft (the state-owned oil giant). That is why in 2006 Gazprom retained full ownership in the giant Shtokman gas field (7) and took a controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 natural gas project. In June 2007, it took back BP’s Kovytka gas field and now is behind Total’s Kharyaga oil and gas field.” (“Vladimir Putin’s Energystan and the Caspian” Today’s Zaman)

Putin–the black belt Judo-master–has proved to be as adept at geopolitics as he is at “deal-making”. He has collaborated with the Austrian government on a huge natural gas depot in Austria which will facilitate the transport of gas to southern Europe. He has joined forces with German industry to build an underwater pipeline through the Baltic to Germany (which could provide 80% of Germany’s gas requirements) He has selected France’s Total to assist Gazprom in the development of the massive Shtokman gas field. And he is setting up pipeline corridors to provide gas to Turkey and the Balkans. Putin has very deliberately spread Russia’s influence evenly throughout Europe with the intention of severing the Transatlantic Alliance and, eventually, loosening America’s vice-like grip on the continent.

Putin’s overtures to Germany’s Merkel and France’s Sarkozy are calculated to weaken the resolve of Bush’s neocon-“Trojan Horses” in the EU and put them in Russia’s corner. Putin is also attracting considerable foreign investment to Russian markets and has adopted “a ‘new model of cooperation’ in the energy sector that would ‘allow foreign partners to share in the economic benefits of the project, share the management, and take on a share of the industrial, commercial and financial risks’”. (M K Bhadrakumar “Russia plays the Shtokman card”, Asia Times) All of these are intended to strengthen ties between Europe and Russia and make it harder for the Bush administration to isolate Moscow.

The CFE and the impending Missile Defense Crisis

Last week Russia announced the suspension the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) in retaliation for Bush’s plans to put missile defense system into Poland and Czechoslovakia. The United States had never really complied with the provisions of the treaty anyway, but that hasn’t stopped Europeans from reacting with genuine concern. Russia is now free to redeploy its troops and heavy weaponry to its western-most borders. This is bound to cause a stir among the former-Soviet states in Eastern Europe. The move does nothing to enhance Russian security, but it does raise awareness of how Bush’s provocative Missile Defense is putting Europe on the firing-line. Missile Defense is a “lose-lose” situation for everyone involved; it greatly increases the likelihood of a slip up which could end in a nuclear exchange. Still, the expansion of NATO is a crucial part of the neocon plan for controlling the world’s dwindling resources; so we can expect that the present stand-off will only intensify as the warring parties jockey for position. The sudden appearance of Kissinger, Schultz, Rubin and Nunn suggests that the situation has gotten so worrisome that the Masters of the Empire are actually emerging from the shadows and getting directly involved. They have dropped the silly pretense that our celluloid-figurehead president is actually directing foreign policy at all. He isn’t.

But what can they do?

It is true that NATO has pushed itself into Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. But to what advantage? Putin will never allow NATO in Ukraine or Georgia—even if it means turning off the gas spigot and letting Europe freeze to death in the dark.

Cheney calls this blackmail.

Maybe. But to others it looks like a straightforward way of telling people that there’s a price to payfor bad behavior. If that’s blackmail—let them hire an attorney.

Kosovo: “The chances of independence are nothing”

Russia and the US are bitterly divided on the issue of Kosovo independence. “Kosovo independence” is a nothing more than a catchy moniker that was cooked up in a far-right think tank to express the geopolitical objectives of its advocates. It’s also a way of minimizing the US-generated ethnic cleansing which has made “partition” seem palatable. Its supporters are the usual assortment of western busybodies, neocons and globalists. Their dream is to weaken Serbia by splitting it up and making it more accessible to foreign interests.

Pro-American Secretary General Ban Ki Moon tried to quickly push through a resolution on independence at the UN Security Council this week, but Russian diplomats stopped him in his tracks.

No dice, Ban.

“I am deeply concerned about the lack of progress,” Ban muttered apologetically. “Any further delay is not desirable for the Balkan States or the European countries.”

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was uncharacteristically outspoken in his rejection of the proposed resolution. When he was asked by a reporter about the likelihood of the Kosovo independence”, Churkin growled, “The chances of that are nothing.”

Well said, Vitaly.

Kosovo is an interesting case that sheds a bit of light on the maneuverings of the globalist-claque and their plans for world domination. Chaos and death follow their every move. Their modus operandi is “divide and rule” through the indiscriminate violence and massive clandestine operations.

Russia deserves credit for not buckling under US pressure. Putin is opposed to rewarding “separatist” movements or of letting the United Nations dissect sovereign nations according to the whims of its main contributors. This angers the scheming globalists, but it is a sensible position. The UN’s mandate is to prevent wars of aggression—not redraw national borders. Just ask the Palestinians how well it worked out last time the UN got involved in the “nation-inventing” business.

Irina Lebedeva reveals the real motives behind Kosovo independence in her article “USA-Russia: Hitting the same Gate, or playing the same game?”

“The North Atlantic alliance documents indicate that the bloc aims at the “Balkanization” of the post-Soviet space by way of overtaking influence in the territories of the currently frozen conflicts and their follow-up internalization along the Yugoslavian lines are set down in black and white. For example, a special report titled “The New North Atlantic Strategy for the Black Sea Region”, prepared by the German Marshall Fund of the United States on the occasion of the NATO summit, already refers to Black Sea and South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) as a “new Euro-Atlantic borderland plagued by Soviet-legacy conflicts.” And the “region of frozen conflicts is evolving into a functional aggregate on the new border of an enlarging West.” Azerbaijan and Georgia in tandem, the report notes, provide a unique transit corridor for Caspian energy to Europe, as well as an irreplaceable corridor for American-led and NATO to bases and operation theatres in Central Asia and the Greater Middle East.”


Okay. So, NATO’s real goal is to break-up existing countries into smaller parts, undermine nationalism, incite ethnic conflicts and create a “new Euro-Atlantic borderland” that provides a “transit corridor for Caspian energy to Europe” as well as a jumping off spot for other military bases.


Sounds a lot like Iraq, doesn’t it?

 

This should dispel the notion that the US cares about the Muslims of Kosovo or that America bombed Belgrade into rubble to “get rid of the dictator, Milosevic”. That’s all half-truths, misinformation or outright lies. America’s only interests are bases and oil. Period.

 

Escalation and the prospect of a Wider War

 

An article was posted last night (7-18-07) by the Times Online:

 

 

“RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian strategic bombers heading for British airspace yesterday, as the spirit of the Cold War returned to the North Atlantic once again. The incident, described as rare by the RAF, served as a telling metaphor for the stand-off between London and Moscow over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. While the Kremlin hesitated before responding to Britain’s expulsion of four diplomats, the Russian military engaged in some old-fashioned sabre-rattling. (Times Online, Richard Beeston; “RAF Scrambles to intercept Russian bombers) http://www.timesonline.co.uk

This is a good example of how quickly hostilities can escalate when leaders feel overly confident in their poor judgment. Russia is not to be trifled with. Putin will not be hounded or humiliated into submission. He won’t be starved like the Palestinians, bombarded like the Iraqis, or abducted and tortured like the Empire’s other so-called enemies. If Brown and Bush decide that its “good sport” to poke the Bear with a stick—so be it. But, they should be aware of the consequences. Russia only spends 5% of what the US allocates yearly for military expenditures, but it can still flatten Washington and London in a matter of minutes. That’s always worth considering.

Putin: “Glavny protivnik”, the main enemy?

Putin is not America’s enemy. He is a fierce nationalist who has led his country out of depression and anarchy into prosperity and resurgent patriotism. He has stabilized the ruble, consolidated his regional power, and elevated the standard of living for every class of Russians. The Russian Federation now has the third largest FOREX reserves, the largest natural gas deposits, and—on many days—provides more oil to foreign markets than Saudi Arabia. The country has regained its international prestige and it has become a force for peace and stability in the region.

The West—and particularly the United States—needs to come to grips with Russia’s ascendant place on the world scene. Russia is not going away. Petroleum and natural gas are becoming scarcer and more costly by the day. Russia’s power will naturally grow in proportion to the diminishing of crucial supplies. This cannot be avoided without initiating a third and, perhaps, final world war.

America’s preeminence in the world depends to great extend on its ability to control the global economic system. That system requires that the dollar continue to be linked to oil reserves. But everywhere the petrodollar is under attack. The only solution is to control two-thirds of the world’s remaining petroleum –which is in the Caspian Basin—and demand payment in dollars.

But that plan has failed. The war in Iraq is lost and the longer America stays, the harder the fall will be. Oil will not continue to be traded in petrodollars, the USD will lose its place as the world’s “reserve currency”, and America will slide into a long and agonizing economic downturn.

The machinations and secret “shuttle diplomacy” of Kissinger and his cohorts will amount to nothing. The situation is irreversible. Geography is fate.

We need to extend the olive branch to Russia and prepare for the inevitable shifting of world power. In the meantime we need to withdrawal from Iraq and let the inescapable struggle for political power begin. Our presence only increases the violence.

American leadership can still be salvaged if we eradicate the cancer that has infected the body-politic and restore the principles of republican government. But that won’t be easy. The small cadres of ruling elites who control policy are driven by a force more powerful than the procreative urge or even the will to survive. They are overwhelmed by a sense of “entitlement”—the fanatical belief that they were born to run the world. This is the rich man’s fundamentalism.

The only way the US can play a productive role in the world’s future, and participate in the species-threatening decisions which face us all (global warming, peak oil, nuclear proliferation, famine, disease) is by removing this poisonous element from our political life and holding them accountable for their long list of crimes. Otherwise our confrontations with Russia, Venezuela, Iran and others will become increasingly uncontrollable and violent causing suffering and death on an unimaginable scale.

It’s up to us.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Iraqi Oil Experts Critique Oil Law + Hundreds of Iraqis protest draft oil law (video link)

Iraqi Oil Experts Critique Oil Law

Thanks to
Malcolm

for sending me the link to this story and the video.

Dandelion Salad

Iraqi Oil Experts Critique Oil Law

WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI)

More than 100 Iraqi oil, economic and legal experts sent a letter to Iraq’s Parliament urging it to consider their critique of the draft oil law.
A senior Iraqi government official was also given a copy and agreed with the technocrats’ assessment.

“With our conviction for the need of a law to organize the upstream sector and its development, and due to its extreme importance, we emphasize the importance of acting steadily,” the letter states, “and not rushing its issuance before enriching it with more discussions and carry out amendments that ensure the interest of all the Iraqi people.”

The letter calls for a strong central government arm in maintaining and developing Iraq’s vast oil and gas sector, though with the “participation of the regions and the governorates in the operations of planning, implementation and management within a comprehensive vision that ensures the maximum benefits for the whole people of Iraq.”

The oil law has been in negotiations since last summer. The Kurds claim the rights to strong regional control over their share of Iraq’s 115 billion barrels of proven while others want a varied amount of central control. Also at issue is how the sector may be opened up to foreign, private investment.

Iraq produces 2 million barrels per day, of which more than 75 percent are sent to the global market.

The letter, signed by 108 experts, calls for the oil law to be put on hold until ongoing constitutional wrangling is completed. “There are ongoing discussions aiming to amend the Iraqi constitution, including the items relating to oil and gas,” it states. “Hence we do not see, from the legal and technical point of view, the necessity to enact the law presented to you now before the constitutional amendments are finalized.”

The senior Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called for a thorough examination of the law, especially as the U.S. benchmarks requiring the law’s passage by September loom large.

“I think it’s a legitimate call,” the official said. “This law is going to affect our lives; it’s going to affect the lives of our children.”

Ben Lando is UPI Energy Correspondent.
Take Action


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

***

Hundreds of Iraqis protest draft oil law

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.liveleak.com posted with vodpod

.

LINK

 

 

New York AG Cuomo Sues ExxonMobil Over Catastrophic Greenpoint Oil Spill

Thanks to
Mary

for sending me the link to this story.

Dandelion Salad

All American Patriots
Wed, 07/18/2007

New York State’s legal action takes on world’s largest, most profitable oil company

NEW YORK, NY (July 17, 2007)

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today filed suit against the ExxonMobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) and ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company to force the cleanup of a 17-million-gallon oil spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and to restore Newtown Creek, the contaminated waterway separating Queens from Brooklyn.

“ExxonMobil – the largest, most profitable oil corporation in the world – has continually refused to accept responsibility for what is one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This company cannot ignore the harm its oil spill has caused to the environment and residents of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. With today’s action, we will hold ExxonMobil accountable for the damage it has created. This suit sends the message that even the largest corporations in the world cannot escape the consequences of their misdeeds.”

Continued…

Ship of fools – Johann Hari sets sail with America’s swashbuckling neocons


Dandelion Salad

The Iraq war has been an amazing success, global warming is just a myth – and as for Guantanamo Bay, it’s practically a holiday camp… The annual cruise organised by the ‘National Review’, mouthpiece of right-wing America, is a parallel universe populated by straight-talking, gun-toting, God-fearing Republicans.

By Johann Hari
ICH
07/13/07 “
The Guardian

I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, both chilling and burning, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. “Is he your only child?” I ask. “Yes,” she says. “Do you have a child back in England?” she asks. No, I say. Her face darkens. “You’d better start,” she says. “The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they’ll have the whole of Europe.”

I am getting used to these moments – when gentle holiday geniality bleeds into… what? I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old Californian designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, watching the gentle tide. When I hear her say, ” Of course, we need to execute some of these people,” I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. “A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country,” she says. “Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that’s what you’ll get.” She squints at the sun and smiles. ” Then things’ll change.”

I am travelling on a bright white cruise ship with two restaurants, five bars, a casino – and 500 readers of the National Review. Here, the Iraq war has been “an amazing success”. Global warming is not happening. The solitary black person claims, “If the Ku Klux Klan supports equal rights, then God bless them.” And I have nowhere to run.

From time to time, National Review – the bible of American conservatism – organises a cruise for its readers. I paid $1,200 to join them. The rules I imposed on myself were simple: If any of the conservative cruisers asked who I was, I answered honestly, telling them I was a journalist. Mostly, I just tried to blend in – and find out what American conservatives say when they think the rest of us aren’t listening.

I. From sweet to suicide bomber

I arrive at the dockside in San Diego on Saturday afternoon and stare up at the Oosterdam, our home for the next seven days. Filipino boat hands are loading trunks into the hull and wealthy white folk are gliding onto its polished boards with pale sun parasols dangling off their arms.

The Reviewers have been told to gather for a cocktail reception on the Lido, near the very top of the ship. I arrive to find a tableau from Gone With the Wind, washed in a thousand shades of grey. Southern belles – aged and pinched – are flirting with old conservative warriors. The etiquette here is different from anything I have ever seen. It takes me 15 minutes to realize what is wrong with this scene. There are no big hugs, no warm kisses. This is a place of starchy handshakes. Men approach each other with stiffened spines, puffed-out chests and crunching handshakes. Women are greeted with a single kiss on the cheek. Anything more would be French.

I adjust and stiffly greet the first man I see. He is a judge, with the craggy self-important charm that slowly consumes any judge. He is from Canada, he declares (a little more apologetically), and is the founding president of “Canadians Against Suicide Bombing”. Would there be many members of “Canadians for Suicide Bombing?” I ask. Dismayed, he suggests that yes, there would.

A bell rings somewhere, and we are all beckoned to dinner. We have been assigned random seats, which will change each night. We will, the publicity pack promises, each dine with at least one National Review speaker during our trip.

To my left, I find a middle-aged Floridian with a neat beard. To my right are two elderly New Yorkers who look and sound like late-era Dorothy Parkers, minus the alcohol poisoning. They live on Park Avenue, they explain in precise Northern tones. “You must live near the UN building,” the Floridian says to one of the New York ladies after the entree is served. Yes, she responds, shaking her head wearily. “They should suicide-bomb that place,” he says. They all chuckle gently. How did that happen? How do you go from sweet to suicide-bomb in six seconds?

The conversation ebbs back to friendly chit-chat. So, you’re a European, one of the Park Avenue ladies says, before offering witty commentaries on the cities she’s visited. Her companion adds, “I went to Paris, and it was so lovely.” Her face darkens: “But then you think – it’s surrounded by Muslims.” The first lady nods: “They’re out there, and they’re coming.” Emboldened, the bearded Floridian wags a finger and says, “Down the line, we’re not going to bail out the French again.” He mimes picking up a phone and shouts into it, “I can’t hear you, Jacques! What’s that? The Muslims are doing what to you? I can’t hear you!”

Now that this barrier has been broken – everyone agrees the Muslims are devouring the French, and everyone agrees it’s funny – the usual suspects are quickly rounded up. Jimmy Carter is “almost a traitor”. John McCain is “crazy” because of “all that torture”. One of the Park Avenue ladies declares that she gets on her knees every day to ” thank God for Fox News”. As the wine reaches the Floridian, he announces, “This cruise is the best money I ever spent.”

They rush through the Rush-list of liberals who hate America, who want her to fail, and I ask them – why are liberals like this? What’s their motivation? They stutter to a halt and there is a long, puzzled silence. ” It’s a good question,” one of them, Martha, says finally. I have asked them to peer into the minds of cartoons and they are suddenly, reluctantly confronted with the hollowness of their creation. “There have always been intellectuals who want to tell people how to live,” Martha adds, to an almost visible sense of relief. That’s it – the intellectuals! They are not like us. Dave changes the subject, to wash away this moment of cognitive dissonance. “The liberals don’t believe in the constitution. They don’t believe in what the founders wanted – a strong executive,” he announces, to nods. A Filipino waiter offers him a top-up of his wine, and he mock-whispers to me, “They all look the same! Can you tell them apart?” I stare out to sea. How long would it take me to drown?

II. “We’re doing an excellent job killing them.”

The Vista Lounge is a Vegas-style showroom, with glistening gold edges and the desperate optimism of an ageing Cha-Cha girl. Today, the scenery has been cleared away – “I always sit at the front in these shows to see if the girls are really pretty and on this ship they are ug-lee,” I hear a Reviewer mutter – and our performers are the assorted purveyors of conservative show tunes, from Podhoretz to Steyn. The first of the trip’s seminars is a discussion intended to exhume the conservative corpse and discover its cause of death on the black, black night of 7 November, 2006, when the treacherous Democrats took control of the US Congress.

There is something strange about this discussion, and it takes me a few moments to realise exactly what it is. All the tropes that conservatives usually deny in public – that Iraq is another Vietnam, that Bush is fighting a class war on behalf of the rich – are embraced on this shining ship in the middle of the ocean. Yes, they concede, we are fighting another Vietnam; and this time we won’t let the weak-kneed liberals lose it. “It’s customary to say we lost the Vietnam war, but who’s ‘we’?” the writer Dinesh D’Souza asks angrily. “The left won by demanding America’s humiliation.” On this ship, there are no Viet Cong, no three million dead. There is only liberal treachery. Yes, D’Souza says, in a swift shift to domestic politics, “of course” Republican politics is “about class. Republicans are the party of winners, Democrats are the party of losers.”

The panel nods, but it doesn’t want to stray from Iraq. Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s one-time nominee to the Supreme Court, mumbles from beneath low-hanging jowls: “The coverage of this war is unbelievable. Even Fox News is unbelievable. You’d think we’re the only ones dying. Enemy casualties aren’t covered. We’re doing an excellent job killing them.”

Then, with a judder, the panel runs momentarily aground. Rich Lowry, the preppy, handsome 38-year-old editor of National Review, says, “The American public isn’t concluding we’re losing in Iraq for any irrational reason. They’re looking at the cold, hard facts.” The Vista Lounge is, as one, perplexed. Lowry continues, “I wish it was true that, because we’re a superpower, we can’t lose. But it’s not.”

No one argues with him. They just look away, in the same manner that people avoid glancing at a crazy person yelling at a bus stop. Then they return to hyperbole and accusations of treachery against people like their editor. The ageing historian Bernard Lewis – who was deputed to stiffen Dick Cheney’s spine in the run-up to the war – declares, “The election in the US is being seen by [the bin Ladenists] as a victory on a par with the collapse of the Soviet Union. We should be prepared for whatever comes next.” This is why the guests paid up to $6,000. This is what they came for. They give him a wheezing, stooping ovation and break for coffee.

A fracture-line in the lumbering certainty of American conservatism is opening right before my eyes. Following the break, Norman Podhoretz and William Buckley – two of the grand old men of the Grand Old Party – begin to feud. Podhoretz will not stop speaking – “I have lots of ex-friends on the left; it looks like I’m going to have some ex-friends on the right, too,” he rants –and Buckley says to the chair, ” Just take the mike, there’s no other way.” He says it with a smile, but with heavy eyes.

Podhoretz and Buckley now inhabit opposite poles of post-September 11 American conservatism, and they stare at wholly different Iraqs. Podhoretz is the Brooklyn-born, street-fighting kid who travelled through a long phase of left-liberalism to a pugilistic belief in America’s power to redeem the world, one bomb at a time. Today, he is a bristling grey ball of aggression, here to declare that the Iraq war has been “an amazing success.” He waves his fist and declaims: “There were WMD, and they were shipped to Syria … This picture of a country in total chaos with no security is false. It has been a triumph. It couldn’t have gone better.” He wants more wars, and fast. He is “certain” Bush will bomb Iran, and ” thank God” for that.

Buckley is an urbane old reactionary, drunk on doubts. He founded the National Review in 1955 – when conservatism was viewed in polite society as a mental affliction – and he has always been sceptical of appeals to ” the people,” preferring the eternal top-down certainties of Catholicism. He united with Podhoretz in mutual hatred of Godless Communism, but, slouching into his eighties, he possesses a world view that is ill-suited for the fight to bring democracy to the Muslim world. He was a ghostly presence on the cruise at first, appearing only briefly to shake a few hands. But now he has emerged, and he is fighting.

“Aren’t you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?” Buckley snaps at Podhoretz. He has just explained that he supported the war reluctantly, because Dick Cheney convinced him Saddam Hussein had WMD primed to be fired. “No,” Podhoretz replies. “As I say, they were shipped to Syria. During Gulf War I, the entire Iraqi air force was hidden in the deserts in Iran.” He says he is “heartbroken” by this ” rise of defeatism on the right.” He adds, apropos of nothing, “There was nobody better than Don Rumsfeld. This defeatist talk only contributes to the impression we are losing, when I think we’re winning.” The audience cheers Podhoretz. The nuanced doubts of Bill Buckley leave them confused. Doesn’t he sound like the liberal media? Later, over dinner, a tablemate from Denver calls Buckley “a coward”. His wife nods and says, ” Buckley’s an old man,” tapping her head with her finger to suggest dementia.

I decide to track down Buckley and Podhoretz separately and ask them for interviews. Buckley is sitting forlornly in his cabin, scribbling in a notebook. In 2005, at an event celebrating National Review’s 50th birthday, President Bush described today’s American conservatives as “Bill’s children”. I ask him if he feels like a parent whose kids grew up to be serial killers. He smiles slightly, and his blue eyes appear to twinkle. Then he sighs, “The answer is no. Because what animated the conservative core for 40 years was the Soviet menace, plus the rise of dogmatic socialism. That’s pretty well gone.”

This does not feel like an optimistic defence of his brood, but it’s a theme he returns to repeatedly: the great battles of his life are already won. Still, he ruminates over what his old friend Ronald Reagan would have made of Iraq. “I think the prudent Reagan would have figured here, and the prudent Reagan would have shunned a commitment of the kind that we are now engaged in… I think he would have attempted to find some sort of assurance that any exposure by the United States would be exposure to a challenge the dimensions of which we could predict.” Lest liberals be too eager to adopt the Gipper as one of their own, Buckley agrees approvingly that Reagan’s approach would have been to “find a local strongman” to rule Iraq.

A few floors away, Podhoretz tells me he is losing his voice, “which will make some people very happy”. Then he croaks out the standard-issue Wolfowitz line about how, after September 11, the United States had to introduce democracy to the Middle East in order to change the political culture that produced the mass murderers. For somebody who declares democracy to be his goal, he is remarkably blasé about the fact that 80 per cent of Iraqis want US troops to leave their country, according to the latest polls. “I don’t much care,” he says, batting the question away. He goes on to insist that “nobody was tortured in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo” and that Bush is “a hero”. He is, like most people on this cruise, certain the administration will attack Iran.

Podhoretz excitedly talks himself into a beautiful web of words, vindicating his every position. He fumes at Buckley, George Will and the other apostate conservatives who refuse to see sense. He announces victory. And for a moment, here in the Mexican breeze, it is as though a thousand miles away Baghdad is not bleeding. He starts hacking and coughing painfully. I offer to go to the ship infirmary and get him some throat sweets, and – locked in eternal fighter-mode – he looks thrown, as though this is an especially cunning punch. Is this random act of kindness designed to imbalance him? ” I’m fine,” he says, glancing contemptuously at the Bill Buckley book I am carrying. “I’ll keep on shouting through the soreness.”

III. The Ghosts of Conservatism Past

The ghosts of Conservatism past are wandering this ship. From the pool, I see John O’Sullivan, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher. And one morning on the deck I discover Kenneth Starr, looking like he has stepped out of a long-forgotten 1990s news bulletin waving Monica’s stained blue dress. His face is round and unlined, like an immense, contented baby. As I stare at him, all my repressed bewilderment rises, and I ask – Mr Starr, do you feel ashamed that, as Osama bin Laden plotted to murder American citizens, you brought the American government to a stand-still over a few consensual blow jobs? Do you ever lie awake at night wondering if a few more memos on national security would have reached the President’s desk if he wasn’t spending half his time dealing with your sexual McCarthyism?

He smiles through his teeth and – in his soft somnambulant voice – says in perfect legalese, “I am entirely at rest with the process. The House of Representatives worked its will, the Senate worked its will, the Chief Justice of the United States presided. The constitutional process worked admirably.”

It’s an oddly meek defence, and the more I challenge him, the more legalistic he becomes. Every answer is a variant on “it’s not my fault” . First, he says Clinton should have settled early on in Jones vs Clinton. Then he blames Jimmy Carter. “This critique really should be addressed to the now-departed, moribund independent counsel provisions. The Ethics and Government [provisions] ushered in during President Carter’s administration has an extraordinarily low threshold for launching a special prosecutor…”

Enough – I see another, more intriguing ghost. Ward Connerly is the only black person in the National Review posse, a 67-year-old Louisiana-born businessman, best known for leading conservative campaigns against affirmative action for black people. Earlier, I heard him saying the Republican Party has been “too preoccupied with… not ticking off the blacks”, and a cooing white couple wandered away smiling, “If he can say it, we can say it.” What must it be like to be a black man shilling for a magazine that declared at the height of the civil rights movement that black people “tend to revert to savagery”, and should be given the vote only “when they stop eating each other”?

I drag him into the bar, where he declines alcohol. He tells me plainly about his childhood – his mother died when he was four, and he was raised by his grandparents – but he never really becomes animated until I ask him if it is true he once said, “If the KKK supports equal rights, then God bless them.” He leans forward, his palms open. There are, he says, ” those who condemn the Klan based on their past without seeing the human side of it, because they don’t want to be in the wrong, politically correct camp, you know… Members of the Ku Klux Klan are human beings, American citizens – they go to a place to eat, nobody asks them ‘Are you a Klansmember?’, before we serve you here. They go to buy groceries, nobody asks, ‘Are you a Klansmember?’ They go to vote for Governor, nobody asks ‘Do you know that that person is a Klansmember?’ Only in the context of race do they ask that. And I’m supposed to instantly say, ‘Oh my God, they are Klansmen? Geez, I don’t want their support.'”

This empathy for Klansmen first bubbled into the public domain this year when Connerly was leading an anti-affirmative action campaign in Michigan. The KKK came out in support of him – and he didn’t decline it. I ask if he really thinks it is possible the KKK made this move because they have become converted to the cause of racial equality. “I think that the reasoning that a Klan member goes through is – blacks are getting benefits that I’m not getting. It’s reverse discrimination. To me it’s all discrimination. But the Klansmen is going through the reasoning that this is benefiting blacks, they are getting things that I don’t get… A white man doesn’t have a chance in this country.”

He becomes incredibly impassioned imagining how they feel, ventriloquising them with a shaking fist – “The Mexicans are getting these benefits, the coloureds or niggers, whatever they are saying, are getting these benefits, and I as a white man am losing my country.”

But when I ask him to empathise with the black victims of Hurricane Katrina, he offers none of this vim. No, all Katrina showed was “the dysfunctionality that is evident in many black neighbourhoods,” he says flatly, and that has to be “tackled by black people, not the government. ” Ward, do you ever worry you are siding with people who would have denied you a vote – or would hang you by a rope from a tree?

“I don’t gather strength from what others think – no at all,” he says. “Whether they are in favour or opposed. I can walk down these halls and, say, a hundred people say, ‘Oh we just adore you’, and I’ll be polite and I’ll say ‘thank you’, but it doesn’t register or have any effect on me.” There is a gaggle of Reviewers waiting to tell him how refreshing it is to “finally” hear a black person “speaking like this”. I leave him to their white, white garlands.

IV. “You’re going to get fascists rising up, aren’t you? Why hasn’t that happened already?”

The nautical counter-revolution has docked in the perfectly-yellow sands of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, and the Reviewers are clambering overboard into the Latino world they want to wall off behind a thousand-mile fence. They carry notebooks from the scribblings they made during the seminar teaching them “How To Shop in Mexico”. Over breakfast, I forgot myself and said I was considering setting out to find a local street kid who would show me round the barrios – the real Mexico. They gaped. “Do you want to die?” one asked.

The Reviewers confine their Mexican jaunt to covered markets and walled-off private fortresses like the private Nikki Beach. Here, as ever, they want Mexico to be a dispenser of cheap consumer goods and lush sands – not a place populated by (uck) Mexicans. Dinesh D’Souza announced as we entered Mexican seas what he calls “D’Souza’s law of immigration”: ” The quality of an immigrant is inversely proportional to the distance travelled to get to the United States.”

In other words: Latinos suck.

I return for dinner with my special National Review guest: Kate O’Beirne. She’s an impossibly tall blonde with the voice of a 1930s screwball star and the arguments of a 1890s Victorian patriarch. She inveighs against feminism and “women who make the world worse” in quick quips.

As I enter the onboard restaurant she is sitting among adoring Reviewers with her husband Jim, who announces that he is Donald Rumsfeld’s personnel director. “People keep asking what I’m doing here, with him being fired and all,” he says. “But the cruise has been arranged for a long time.”

The familiar routine of the dinners – first the getting-to-know-you chit-chat, then some light conversational fascism – is accelerating. Tonight there is explicit praise for a fascist dictator before the entree has arrived. I drop into the conversation the news that there are moves in Germany to have Donald Rumsfeld extradited to face torture charges.

A red-faced man who looks like an egg with a moustache glued on grumbles, ” If the Germans think they can take responsibility for the world, I don’t care about German courts. Bomb them.” I begin to witter on about the Pinochet precedent, and Kate snaps, “Treating Don Rumsfeld like Pinochet is disgusting.” Egg Man pounds his fist on the table: ” Treating Pinochet like that is disgusting. Pinochet is a hero. He saved Chile.”

“Exactly,” adds Jim. “And he privatised social security.”

The table nods solemnly and then they march into the conversation – the billion-strong swarm of swarthy Muslims who are poised to take over the world. Jim leans forward and says, “When I see these football supporters from England, I think – these guys aren’t going to be told by PC elites to be nice to Muslims. You’re going to get fascists rising up, aren’t you? Why isn’t that happening already?” Before I can answer, he is conquering the Middle East from his table, from behind a crème brûlée.

“The civilised countries should invade all the oil-owning places in the Middle East and run them properly. We won’t take the money ourselves, but we’ll manage it so the money isn’t going to terrorists.”

The idea that Europe is being “taken over” by Muslims is the unifying theme of this cruise. Some people go on singles cruises. Some go on ballroom dancing cruises. This is the “The Muslims Are Coming” cruise – drinks included. Because everyone thinks it. Everyone knows it. Everyone dreams it. And the man responsible is sitting only a few tables down: Mark Steyn.

He is wearing sunglasses on top of his head and a bright, bright shirt that fits the image of the disk jockey he once was. Sitting in this sea of grey, it has an odd effect – he looks like a pimp inexplicably hanging out with the apostles of colostomy conservatism.

Steyn’s thesis in his new book, America Alone, is simple: The “European races” i.e., white people – “are too self-absorbed to breed,” but the Muslims are multiplying quickly. The inevitable result will be ” large-scale evacuation operations circa 2015″ as Europe is ceded to al Qaeda and “Greater France remorselessly evolve[s] into Greater Bosnia.”

He offers a light smearing of dubious demographic figures – he needs to turn 20 million European Muslims into more than 150 million in nine years, which is a lot of humping.

But facts, figures, and doubt are not on the itinerary of this cruise. With one or two exceptions, the passengers discuss “the Muslims” as a homogenous, sharia-seeking block – already with near-total control of Europe. Over the week, I am asked nine times – I counted – when I am fleeing Europe’s encroaching Muslim population for the safety of the United States of America.

At one of the seminars, a panelist says anti-Americanism comes from both directions in a grasping pincer movement – “The Muslims condemn us for being decadent; the Europeans condemn us for not being decadent enough.” Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz’s wife, yells, “The Muslims are right, the Europeans are wrong!” And, instantly, Jay Nordlinger, National Review’s managing editor and the panel’s chair, says, ” I’m afraid a lot of the Europeans are Muslim, Midge.”

The audience cheers. Somebody shouts, “You tell ’em, Jay!” He tells ’em. Decter tells ’em. Steyn tells ’em.

On this cruise, everyone tells ’em – and, thanks to my European passport, tells me.

V. From cruise to cruise missiles?

I am back in the docks of San Diego watching these tireless champions of the overdog filter past and say their starchy, formal goodbyes. As Bernard Lewis disappears onto the horizon, I wonder about the connections between this cruise and the cruise missiles fired half a world away.

I spot the old lady from the sea looking for her suitcase, and stop to tell her I may have found a solution to her political worries about both Muslims and stem-cells.

“Couldn’t they just do experiments on Muslim stem-cells?” I ask. ” Hey – that’s a great idea!” she laughs, and vanishes. Hillary-Ann stops to say she is definitely going on the next National Review cruise, to Alaska. “Perfect!” I yell, finally losing my mind.

“You can drill it as you go!” She puts her arms around me and says very sweetly, “We need you on every cruise.”

As I turn my back on the ship for the last time, the Judge I met on my first night places his arm affectionately on my shoulder. “We have written off Britain to the Muslims,” he says. “Come to America.”

A version of this article has appeared in ‘The New Republic’ (www.tnr.org)
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

How to create an Angry American (video; Jon Stewart; Sean Penn)

Dandelion Salad

So what are you going to do about it?

puppetgovcom

*CENSORED By YouTube. This video was listed as #22 on YT’s All Time News/Politics Video and was pulled and erased from that standing overnight.

So What Are You Going To Do About It?

Song: “All the things that I have done”
By: THE KILLERS

PLEASE CHECK OUT OUR OTHER VIDEOS TOO!
http://www.puppetgov.com

PUPPETGOV w/ Billy Vegas

Added: July 14, 2007

Continue reading

America Has No Surplus Democracy to Export by Ahmed Amr

Dandelion Salad

by Ahmed Amr

Dissident Voice
July 18th, 2007

George Bush just gave another vulgar performance in the remodeled James S. Brady Press Room. As usual, he stayed on message — like a vacuum cleaner salesman who touts his machines as the only weapons capable of winning the ‘eternal war on dust.’

With a straight face, Bush blamed General Tommy Franks for the disastrous post-invasion plan. Apparently, Franks was awarded the Medal of Freedom for giving us bum advice on troop requirements for stabilizing Iraq. Without missing a beat, Bush went on to declare that he would resist making decisions based on public opinion polls or even the advice of GOP senators. Rather, he would leave future decisions to his new general — David Petraeus.

Continued…