The normal condition of man ruling over men resorts to the practice of coercive force. Statism so aptly reflects this system of compliance. When you strip away all the rhetoric and institutional validation, what is left is a doctrine of kingship. Governments are fashioned to exert control over people. Contemplate the intrinsic contradiction of this structure of dominance with the message of the Golden Rule.
“The Golden Rule is based on the principle Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
The significance of Jesus Christ’s statement here is huge. What we call the Golden Rule is the summation of God’s entire way of life.”
Christianity professes that Jesus is divine. Earthly governments strive to minimize God’s authority and substitute temporal supremacy. “Fundamentally, the idea of Jesus being King of kings and Lord of lords means that there is no higher authority. His reign over all things is absolute and inviolable.” This refusal to submit and humble oneself to our supreme creator is the essence of the worldly nightmare.
The lessons from history are mostly ignored in the frantic diversions of modern life. Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD makes a perceptive observation in The Philosophical Basis of the Conflict Between Liberty and Statism.
“Plato was the first statist. He offers his vision of the ideal state in the Republic. An elite group of philosopher-rulers run it. They are wise and all knowing. The rulers are not accountable to the public, and they require absolute individual devotion and submission to the good of the state. In Plato’s republic only philosophers can have access to objective knowledge, philosophers being, as he puts it, people “who are capable of apprehending what is eternal and unchanging” — those few individuals who can sit down in a quiet place and think clearly. Everyone else, the rest of us, he describes as “those who are incapable of this [and] lose themselves and wander amid the multiplicities of multifarious things.”
Note that the gods of the Greeks did not teach the purity of the Christian faith as revealed in the Sermon on the Mount. Natural law is predicated upon celestial creation and inspired purpose, designed to include every soul. When temporal powers impose arbitrary submission, their righteous claim on authenticity must be questioned and frequently resisted.
Philosophical Statism and the Illusion of Citizenship by Frank van Dun expresses a basic departure from the academic tranquil Platonic vision of the Philosopher King.
“Liberals all too easily acquiesced in the state’s claim to represent or embody the law, in its usurpation and monopolisation of legislative, judicial and executive powers. In the end, few people were able to understand that law should be seen as the restraining condition of legislation rather than as its product. The state, the institutionalised form of (preparedness for) lawless war, came to be regarded as a necessary institution of lawful peace.
To the extent that liberals subscribed to this view—and they did so en masse—they conceded the main point of political ontology to the apologists of statism: that war, not peace, is the normal or natural condition of human life. This is perhaps the most basic axiom of statism. It implies that there can be peace only inside an organisation designed to fight and win wars. It implies that there is no natural society, no “spontaneous order” (as Hayek would say). Man plus man equals war. The whole of the statist philosophy is contained in that simple statement.”
Statists have substituted the political order for divine worship. Christians accept the “Prince of Peace” as the alternative to perpetual warfare. While faith in His teachings is routinely ignored, the continuous wickedness that engulfs the planet expands as a prelude to the final conflagration.
In the account “Javert’s Religion of Statism” a secular viewpoint of what has become the Statist creed, is acknowledged. Since the Illuminati Victor Hugo, was a Grand Master of thePriory of Sion, his sentiments needs reassessment within the larger context of the broader,Inspector Javert Society.
“In 19th century France, and in 18th century America, the belief that there was a line that the government must never cross gave rise to what was known as the liberal movement of which both Victor Hugo and Frederic Bastiat were members. Hugo had the poetry and the drama. But it was Bastiat who saw the answers in the form of economic freedom.
Sixteen years after Hugo wrote Les Misérables, Bastiat wrote “The Law”- a brilliant tract that explained that the answer to social and economic problems was not a different form of government- republican legislatures, democratic mobs, or autocratic monarchs can all be oppressive- but to devolve all power away from government to people in their capacity as owners and self-managers.”
The Enlightenment thinkers hardly differed from Protagoras in their acceptance that “Man is the measure of all things“. Where is that elusive human progress that is incessantly preached by countless regimes of political governance? The horrors of the last two centuries have been a continuous reign of terror.
The philosophical basis for removing God from civic conscientiousness and the public square is fundamental to the “Sanctification of the State”. Salvation and redemption is outside the abilities of governmental administrators. The Grand Inquisitor Planet of Fydor Dostoevsky presents the consequences, “The rejection of God, as a condition to serve man, is the work of the devil.” For those who scorn the notion of daemon metaphysics, the herculean task of explaining away the savagery of government destruction and pillage becomes essential.
The proponents of Statism have a long line of tyrants to model upon their oppressive aspirations. The practice of entrenched totalitarianism has a long record in both the old and new worlds. The difference between Christian communalism and secular communism is frequently blurred, when liberation theology supplants the fundamental message of the gospels.
America has lost its way as identified in the article, German Statist Philosophy, the legacy of Frederick Jackson Turner.
“Since the materialistic conception of history is the foundation stone of the socialist movement and was invented by Karl Marx there is no doubt that Turner had produced an American historical account fitting into the socialist principle. Leftist books are replete with accounts of Turner’s major theme that the frontier is gone and opportunities for personal advancement have dried up. This theme fits into the socialist premise that the only way out now is a controlled collectivist society.”
When the sins of the Catholic Papacy or the heresies of Protestant Dispensationalists spurn the evangelistic teachings of Jesus, ruthless despots of Statism seize the opportunity to expand and consolidate their pernicious rule over humanity.
The failings of institutional religion to actively oppose the collectivization of society under the auspices of spurious state legitimacy, is a betrayal of cardinal Christian doctrine. While resistance to tyranny is indispensable, having the courage to express your belief openly in a Statist authoritarian system, often takes virtuous faith and trust in God.
Redemption of the individual is a gift from God and no government or temporal power can extinguish the light of HOPE. Politics is interminable, while salvation is eternal.
Nicholas Marville writes in The scourge of Christianity.
“By saying humility is voluntary, slave morality avoids admitting that their humility was in the beginning forced upon them by a master.
A good example of this is the rule “turn your enemy the other cheek”, as Jesus taught:
“Christians should pray for Osama bin Laden’s soul even though he was their enemy, as forgiveness is a key teaching in the Bible, a cardinal told an Italian daily in an interview out today.
“I have prayed for the soul of Osama Bin Laden. We have to pray for him just like we pray for the victims of September 11. It’s what Jesus teaches Christians,” French cardinal Albert Vanhoye, 87, told Il Messaggero daily.
“Jesus obliges us to forgive our enemies. The ‘Our Father’ that we recite every day says that. Does it not say ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’?” Vanhoye said.”
Turning the other cheek does not mean you are prohibited from resisting evil governments. The effective means of opposition are naturally ordained in your nature. Forgiveness may be a foreign concept to the Statist, but to the faithful Christian the prophecies of a Second Coming provide the promise of a just final judgment for every mortal.
Destructive politics is inherent in this ungodly world of government worship. Immortality of Statists is impossible. Their propensity to destroy all that is good and substitute every Luciferian evil imaginable is all that can come from the supremacy of the State.
Nations need to atone before their governments can be reformed. Statist philosophies of any school of thought are intrinsically anti-Christian. Only sincere prayer and repentance that begs for Almighty mercy for intervention will save this planet.
“…for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument?” — Shakespeare, Henry V
Even as the presidential candidates meet in ersatz agon to spew their self-serving lies and scripted zingers in a “debate” on foreign policy, the real campaign — the campaign of blood and bone, of death and terror, being waged in Pakistan by the American government — goes on it all its horror.
This week, the Mail on Sunday — one of Britain’s most conservative newspapers – published a story outlining, in horrific detail, the true nature of the drone killing campaign begun by George W. Bush and vastly expanded by Barack Obama. Coming on the heels of a recent report (“Living Under Drones“) by teams at Stanford and New York universities on this ongoing war crime, the Mail on Sunday story brings the humanity of the victims — and the inhumanity of perpetrators — to the fore. The story concerns legal action being taken in Pakistan on behalf of families of drone-murder victims by Pakistani lawyer and activist Shahzad Akbar and the UK-based human rights group, Reprieve. As the MoS reports, two court cases have been filed that could “trigger a formal murder investigation into the roles of two US officials said to have ordered the strikes.”
The MoS quotes the Living With Drones report to set the context:
…Between 2,562 and 3,325 people have been killed since the strikes in Pakistan began in 2004. The report said of those, up to 881 were civilians, including 176 children. Only 41 people who had died had been confirmed as ‘high-value’ terrorist targets.
As the paper notes, full figures on the killings are hard to come by, due to the convenient fact that “the tribal regions along the frontier are closed to journalists.” The true death count of civilians is almost certainly far higher.
So who are the thousands of people being slain by brave American warriors sitting at computer consoles on a military bases on the other side of the world? From the MoS:
The plaintiff in the Islamabad case is Karim Khan, 45, a journalist and translator with two masters’ degrees, whose family comes from the village of Machi Khel in the tribal region of North Waziristan. His eldest son, Zahinullah, 18, and his brother, Asif Iqbal, 35, were killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone that struck the family’s guest dining room at about 9.30pm on New Year’s Eve, 2009.
Mr Khan said: ‘We are an educated family. My uncle is a hospital doctor in Islamabad, and we all work in professions such as teaching. We have never had anything to do with militants or terrorists, and for that reason I always assumed we would be safe. Zahinullah, who had been studying in Islamabad, had returned to the village to work his way through college, taking a part-time job as a school caretaker. ‘He was a quiet boy and studious – always in the top group of his class.’ Zahinullah also liked football, cricket and hunting partridges. Asif, he added, was an English teacher and had spent several years taking further courses to improve his qualifications while already in work. Asif had changed his surname because he loved to recite Iqbal, Pakistan’s national poet.
Well, that’s what they claim, right? No doubt the button-pushing drone “pilot” parked safely in his cushy padded chair back in Nevada could ascertain through the computer screen that the quiet student and the poetry-loving teacher were actually “active terrorists, who are trying to go in and harm America,” to quote the Nobel Peace Laureate in the White House, in his only public acknowledgement of the drone campaign. Such miscreants, said the Laureate, are the only people everkilled by this “targeted, focused effort.”
Mr Khan, who had been working in Islamabad at the time, hurried back to the village when he got the news. This is what he found:
He got home soon after dawn and describes his return ‘like entering a village of the dead – it was so quiet. There was a crowd gathered outside the compound but nowhere for them to sit because the guest rooms had been destroyed’.
Zahinullah, Mr Khan discovered, had been killed instantly, but despite his horrific injuries, Asif had survived long enough to be taken to a nearby hospital. However, he died during the night.
‘We always bury people quickly in our culture. The funeral was at three o’clock that afternoon, and more than 1,000 people came,’ Mr Khan said. ‘Zahinullah had a wound on the side of his face and his body was crushed and charred. I am told the people who push the buttons to fire the missiles call these strikes “bug-splats”.
‘It is beyond my imagination how they can lack all mercy and compassion, and carry on doing this for years. They are not human beings.’
In this, however, Mr Khan is wrong, and therein lies the tragedy: the people who killed his brother and thousands of other innocents, and have carried on doing it for years, are indeed human beings — all too human. The lack of mercy and compassion they exhibit is one of our endemic human traits — and one that has been assiduously, relentlessly, deliberately — and profitably – cultivated for years by our bipartisan elites, who sow fear and hatred and dehumanization to advance their agenda of domination, playing upon — and rewarding — what is worst in our common human nature, while mocking, denigrating and punishing what is best.
One of the officials targeted in the lawsuit is former CIA general counsel John Rizzo. As the paper notes:
Mr Rizzo is named because of an interview he gave to a US reporter after he retired as CIA General Counsel last year. In it, he boasted that he had personally authorised every drone strike in which America’s enemies were ‘hunted down and blown to bits’.
He added: ‘It’s basically a hit-list. The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.’
That’s nice, isn’t it? Noble, worthy, honorable, isn’t it? Again, these are the mafia thug values being embraced, lauded, supported and reinforced at every turn by the most respectable figures throughout American politics and media, including of course the popular media, where TV shows and movies abound with tough guys “doing whatever it takes” to kill the dehumanized “enemy” and “keep us safe.”
The second case now before the Pakistani courts involves “signature strikes,” the policy of killing unknown people simply because you don’t like how they look or how they act. No evidence — not even false evidence, not even the thin scraps of rumor and innuendo and ignorance that constitute the overwhelming majority of “intelligence reports” — is required before the well-wadded Cheeto-chewer in Nevada crooks his finger and fires a drone. The MoS quotes a Pakistani official describing the signature strikes:
‘It could be a vehicle containing armed men heading towards the border, and the operator thinks, “Let’s get them before they get there,” without any idea of who they are. It could also just be people sitting together. In the frontier region, every male is armed but it doesn’t mean they are militants.’
One such signature strike killed more than 40 people in Datta Khel in North Waziristan on March 17 last year. The victims, Mr Akbar’s dossier makes clear, had gathered for a jirga – a tribal meeting – in order to discuss a dispute between two clans over the division of royalties from a chromite mine.
Some of the most horrifying testimony comes from Khalil Khan, the son of Malik Haji Babat, a tribal leader and police officer. ‘My father was not a terrorist. He was not an enemy of the United States,’ Khalil’s legal statement says. ‘He was a hard-working and upstanding citizen, the type of person others looked up to and aspired to be like.
“What I saw when I got off the bus at Datta Khel was horrible,’ he said. ‘I immediately saw flames and women and children were saying there had been a drone strike. The fires spread after the strike. The tribal elders who had been killed could not be identified because there were body parts strewn about. The smell was awful. I just collected the pieces that I believed belonged to my father and placed them in a small coffin.’
…He added that schools in the area were empty because ‘parents are afraid their children will be hit by a missile’.
This is another aspect of the drone campaign that I noted in a recent post here about the drone campaign: it is not just an illegal military operation, it is — and isdesigned to be — a terrorist campaign. It is meant to terrorize the population of the targeted regions, to keep the people there enslaved to fear and uncertainty, never knowing if the buzzing drone flying high and unreachable above their heads will suddenly spew out a Hellfire missile on their house, their school, their farm, their hospital, and blow them or their loved ones into unidentifiable shreds. It is a terrorist campaign — not a random attack here and there, not an isolated spasm of violence — but a continual, relentless, death-dealing campaign of terror designed to poison the daily lives of innocent people and force their cowed acquiescence to the dictates of domination.
It goes without saying that this story, or the Living Under Drones report, or the abominable implications of the terrorist campaign were not discussed during the “debate” Monday night between the two clowns who are fighting for the chance to drench themselves in human blood for the next four years. (For the most thorough — and harrowing — consideration of these implications, including the electoral implications, see this powerful piece by Arthur Silber.) The fact that the drone campaign is actually one of the greatest threats to the national security of the American people will not impinge upon the “debate.” Why should it? Neither candidate is the least bit interested in the security of the American people. In fact, both are firmly committed to imposing the drone terror campaign on the American people themselves (as Silber, again, notes here).
In a recent article, Daniel Ellsberg — a courageous and worthy dissident for many decades — shocked many by cataloging the many war crimes and moral atrocities of the Obama Administration, then ending with a fervent rallying cry for us all to …. support Obama. (Vast Left has more on this.) Here, Ellsberg echoes a familiar argument during this election cycle, voiced more vehemently not long ago by another honorable campaigner, Robert Parry. My response to Parry thenapplies equally to Ellsberg now, and to all those good progressives who advocate a ‘reluctant’ but ‘realistic’ vote for Obama:
Parry believes he is preaching a tough, gritty doctrine of “moral ambiguity.” What he is in fact advocating is the bleakest moral nihilism. To Parry, the structure of American power — the corrupt, corporatized, militarized system built and sustained by both major parties — cannot be challenged. Not even passively, not even internally, for Parry scorns those who simply refuse to vote almost as harshly as those who commit the unpardonable sin: voting for a third party. No, if you do not take an active role in supporting this brutal engine of war and injustice by voting for a Democrat, then it is you who are immoral.
You must support this system. It is the only moral choice. What’s more, to be truly moral, to acquit yourself of the charge of vanity and frivolity, to escape complicity in government crimes, you must support the Democrat. If the Democratic president orders the “extrajudicial” murder of American citizens, you must support him. If he chairs death squad meetings in the White House every week, checking off names of men to be murdered without charge or trial, you must support him. If he commits mass murder with robot drones on defenseless villages around the world, you must support him. If he imprisons and prosecutes whistleblowers and investigative journalists more than any other president in history, you must support him. If he cages and abuses and tortures a young soldier who sought only to stop atrocities and save the nation’s honor, you must support him. If he “surges” a pointless war of aggression and occupation in a ravaged land and expands that war into the territory of a supposed ally, you must support him. If he sends troops and special ops and drones and assassins into country after country, fomenting wars, bankrolling militias, and engineering coups, you must support him. If he throws open the nation’s coastal waters to rampant drilling by the profiteers who are devouring and despoiling the earth, you must support him. If he declares his eagerness to do what no Republican president has ever dared to do — slash Social Security and Medicare — you must support him.
For Robert Parry, blinded by the red mist of partisanship, there is literally nothing — nothing — that a Democratic candidate can do to forfeit the support of “the left.” He can even kill a 16-year-old American boy — kill him, rip him to shreds with a missile fired by a coddled coward thousands of miles away — and you must support him. And, again, if you do not support him, if you do not support all this, then you are the problem. You are enabling evil.
I confess I cannot follow such logic. But in his article, Ellsberg compounds the puzzlement when he tries to clinch his case by citing Henry David Thoreau, of all people. Ellsberg writes:
I often quote a line by Thoreau that had great impact for me: “Cast your whole vote: not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.” He was referring, in that essay, to civil disobedience, or as he titled it himself, “Resistance to Civil Authority.”
In other words, Ellsberg is using a call for resistance to civil authority to justify supporting a civil authority which he himself acknowledges is committing war crimes and destroying American democracy. Again, I find this “reasoning” unfathomable.
But I too often quote a line by Thoreau that has had a great impact for me. In fact, I would say that it encapsulates my entire political philosophy in this dirty, degraded Age of Empire:
“How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”
If only more of our compatriots would say the same.
Source: Chris Floyd
Universally admired, Pussy Riot (or PR for short) have been promoted as superstars. But what are they? A rock or punk group they are not. A British journalist marvelled: they produce no music, no song, no painting, nada, rien, nothing. How can they be described as “artists”? This was a severe test for their supporters, but they passed it with flying honours: that famous lover-of-art, the US State Department, paid for their first ever single being produced by The Guardian out of some images and sounds.
We are able to stomach obscenity and blasphemy; I am great admirer of Notre Dame de Fleurs by Jean Genet, who combined both. However the PR never wrote, composed or painted anything of value at all. Chris Randolph defended them in Counterpunch by comparing them with “the controversial Yegor Letov”. What a misleading comparison! Letov wrote poetry, full of obscenity but it still was poetry, while the PR have nothing but Public Relations.
Hell-bent on publicity, but artistically challenged, three young women from Russia decided well, it sounds like a limerick. They stole a frozen chicken from a supermarket and used it as dildo; filmed the act, called it “art” and placed it on the web. (It is still there) Their other artistic achievements were an orgy in a museum and a crude presentation of an erect prick.
Even in these dubious pieces of art their role was that of technical staff: the glory went to a Russian-Israeli artist Plucer-Sarno of Mevasseret Zion, who claimed the idea, design and copyright for himself and collected a major Russian prize. The future PR members got nothing and were described by Plucer as “ambitious provincials on the make”, or worse.
Lately they have tried to ride a bandwagon of political struggle. That was another flop. They poured a flood of obscene words on Putin – in Red Square, in subway (underground) stations – with zero effect. They weren’t arrested, they weren’t fined, just chased away as a nuisance. And they did not attract attention of people. It is important to remember that Putin is an avowed enemy of Russian oligarchs, owners of the major bulk of Russian media and providers of the Moscow literati, so they print on daily basis so much of anti-Putin invectives, that it’s lost its shock value. You can’t invent a new diatribe against Putin it has been already said and published. And Putin practically never interfered with the freedom of the press.
My foreign journalist friends are usually amazed by unanimity and ferocity of anti-Putin campaign in Russian media. It can be compared with the attacks on G W Bush in the liberal papers in the US, but in the US, there are many conservative papers that supported Bush. Putin has practically no support in the mainstream media, all of it owned by media barons. A valuable exception is TV, but it is expressly apolitical and provides mainly low-brow entertainment, also presented by anti-Putin activists like Mlle Xenia Sobtchak. So PR failed profoundly to wake up the beast.
Eventually the young viragos were mobilised for an attack on the Church. By that time they were willing to do anything for their bit of publicity. And the anti-Church campaign started a few months ago, quite suddenly as if by command. The Russian Church had 20 years of peace, recovering after the Communist period, and it was surprised by ferocity of the attack.
Though this subject calls for longer exposition, let us be brief. After collapse of the USSR, the Church remained the only important spiritual pro-solidarity force in Russian life. The Yeltsin and Putin administrations were as materialist as the communists; they preached and practiced social Darwinism of neo-Liberal kind. The Church offered something beside the elusive riches on earth. Russians who lost the glue of solidarity previously provided by Communists eagerly flocked to the alternative provided by the Church.
The government and the oligarchs treated the Church well, as the Church had a strong anti-Communist tendency, and the haves were still afraid of the Reds leading the have-nots. The Church flourished, many beautiful cathedrals were rebuilt, many monasteries came back after decades of decay. The newly empowered church became a cohesive force in Russia.
As it became strong, the Church began to speak for the poor and dispossessed; the reformed Communists led by the Church-going Gennadi Zuganov, discovered a way to speak to the believers. A known economist and thinker, Michael Khazin, predicted that the future belongs to a new paradigm of Red Christianity, something along the lines of Roger Garaudy’s early thought. The Red Christian project is a threat to the elites and a hope for the world, he wrote. Besides, the Russian church took a very Russian and anti-globalist position.
This probably hastened the attack, but it was just a question of time, when the global anti-Christian forces would step forward and attack the Russian Church like they attacked the Western Church. As Russia entered the WTO and adopted Western mores, it had to adopt secularization. And indeed the Russian Church was attacked by forces that do not want Russia to be cohesive: the oligarchs, big business, the media lords, the pro-Western intelligentsia of Moscow, and Western interests which naturally prefer Russia divided against itself.
This offensive against the Church began with some minor issues: media was all agog about Patriarch’s expensive watch, a present from the then President Medvedev. Anti-religious fervour went high among liberal opposition that demonstrated against Putin before the elections and needed a new horse to flog. A leading anti-Putin activist Viktor Shenderovich said he would understand if the Russian Orthodox priests were slain like they were in 1920s. Yet another visible figure among the liberal protesters, Igor Eidman, called to “exterminate the vermin”- the Russian Church in rudest biological terms.
The alleged organiser of the PR, Marat Gelman, a Russian Jewish art collector, has been connected with previous anti-Christian art actions which involved icon-smashing, imitation churches of enemas. His and PR problem was that it was difficult to provoke reaction of the Church. The PR made two attempts to provoke public indignation in the second cathedral of Moscow, the older Elochovsky Cathedral; both times they were expelled but not arrested. The third time, they tried harder; they went to St Savior Cathedral that was demolished by Lazar Kaganovich in 1930s and rebuilt in 1990s; they added more blasphemy of the most obscene kind, and still they were allowed to leave in peace. Police tried their best to avoid arresting the viragos, but they had no choice after the PR uploaded a video of their appearance in the cathedrals with an obscene soundtrack.
During the trial, the defence and the accused did their worst to antagonize the judge by threatening her with the wrath of the United States (sic!) and by defiantly voicing anti-Christian hate speeches. The judge had no choice but to find the accused guilty of hate crime (hooliganism with religious hate as the motive). The prosecution did not charge the accused with a more serious hate crime “with intent to cause religious strife”, though it could probably made stick. (It would call for a stiffer sentence; swastika-drawers charged with intent to cause strife receive five years of jail).
Two years’ sentence is quite in line with prevailing European practice. For much milder anti-Jewish hate talk, European countries customarily sentence offenders to two-to-five years of prison for the first offence. The Russians applied hate crime laws to offenders against Christian faith, and this is probably a Russian novelty. The Russians proved that they care for Christ as much as the French care for Auschwitz, and this shocked the Europeans who apparently thought ‘hate laws’ may be applied only to protect Jews and gays. The Western governments call for more freedom for the anti-Christian Russians, while denying it for holocaust revisionists in their midst.
The anti-Putin opposition flocked to support the PR. A radical charismatic opposition leader, the poet Eduard Limonov wrote that the opposition made a mistake supporting the PR, as they antagonise the masses; the chasm between the masses and the opposition grows. But his voice was crying in the wilderness, and the rest of the opposition happily embraced the PR cause, trying to turn it into a weapon against Putin. The Western media and governments also used it to attack Putin. The Guardian editorial called on Putin to resign. Putin called for clemency to the PR, and the government was embarrassed by the affair. But they were left with no choice: the invisible organisers behind PR wanted to have the viragos in jail, and so they did.
Commercially, they hit jackpot. With support of Madonna and the State Department, they are likely to leave the jail ready for the world tour and photo ops at the White House. They registered their name as a trade mark and began to issue franchises. And their competitors, the Femen group (whose art is showing off their boobs in unusual places) tried to beat the PR by chopping down a large wooden cross installed in memory of Stalin’s victims. Now sky is the limit.
In August, vacation season, when there is not much hard news and the newspaper readers are at the seashore or countryside, the PR trial provided much needed entertainment for man and beast. Hopefully it will drop from the agenda with the end of the silly season, but do not bet on it.
Today in Riverside Superior Court, Department 8, I attempted to execute a citizen’s arrest of an attorney. Toni Eggebraaten, the attorney for the Family Trust for which I am a beneficiary, filed an accounting in which she attempted to obscure her embezzling thirty thousand dollars. Alarmed at the accounting, I had contacted a lawyer who surveyed the accountings and confirmed for me that she had, indeed, embezzled thirty grand and had attempted to hide her crime.
The court opened for business at 8: 30 this morning. Probate Judge Thomas Cahraman announced he was going to shuffle the order of the docket and call the Phelan case first. He began by complimenting me on my writing ability, saying, “You must have some education.” He began to wax on about the cadence and lift to my writing style. He then noted that I had filed no objections to the petition by Eggebraaten.
Correction, I said. I wrote in my pleading that she embezzled thirty thousand dollars and that there is absolutely no point to my filing objections. I wrote that you always find against me, no matter what I present to the court.
That’s not true, protested the judge. “I have made many decisions in your favor.”
Not a single one, I replied truthfully. And then I switched into high gear. “Toni Eggebraaten has embezzled thirty thousand dollars and I am therefore executing a citizen’s arrest. Bailiff, take Ms. Eggebraaten into custody.”
The judge began to rattle on, ignoring what I had just said. “Excuse me”, I said, “I am executing a citizen’s arrest. I am exercising my legal right to do so. Bailiff, please take Ms. Eggebraaten into custody.”
“If you keep on this way I will revoke your right to appear by court call”, said the judge.
I repeated that I was executing a citizen’s arrest.
“Nothing you file ever has legal merit,” cried the judge.
“Really?” I said.” Look at my current filing. I have attached as an exhibit proof that the Trustee is attempting, through her accountant, to affix liability onto me for the taxes on the income to the Trust. This is a violation of Title 26 Section 641 of the US Code. Is that also lacking legal merit?”
“I am terminating this hearing,” said Cahraman and hung up on me.
The pleadings in front of the judge delineated a number of laws violated in this case, including embezzlement, deprivation of rights under color of law and violations of the IRS code. By so obstructing my efforts to execute a citizen’s arrest on Toni Eggebraaten, the judge committed misprison of felony and obstruction of justice. He could also be considered an accessory after the fact to the thirty thousand she illegally pocketed.
The citizen’s arrest of Toni Eggebraaten will be taking place at a later date. There will also be an attempt to execute a citizen’s arrest of Judge Thomas Cahraman for his part in this pretense of justice.
One can play nice only so long. Like so many who are attempting to exact justice out of a turnip court, I have gone to court over and over only to be deprived of my rights to due process and of my rightful inheritance. The fact that at the core of this case lies a murder, the murder of my mother, Dr. Amalie Phelan, who was under a conservatorship overseen by this court, takes the issue to another level.
Title 18 Section 242 of the US code, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, may mandate the death penalty for a judge who so violates an individual’s rights. The deprivation of rights by a Riverside Superior Court judge resulted in my mother’s death. Also potentially invoking the death penalty is a murder committed in the course of another crime, such as theft. The continuing efforts by the court to cover up this murder and also to whitewash the theft of funds, which have gone to pay off Judith Phelan for her part in the murder of her mother, escalate this case into a death penalty matter—for the involved judges and the lawyers who are stealing to pay off matricide. Judith, by the way, has changed her name to Anna Bloom in order to mitigate unwanted attention since she made off like a bandit. Judith/Anna is now residing in the San Francisco Bay area. http://elder-abuse-cyberray.
Her are the closing remarks in the pleadings that were in front of the judge today:
“At some future date, historians will look back on this period in the United States as the equivalent of a Dark Ages in terms of political oppression, evidenced in part by corruption of the legal system. Indeed, some authors, such as Morris Berman and Chris Hedges, are already so declaring this. The actions by this particular court in this specific case aptly demonstrate the genteel brutality of a Pretender Court, a court which is operating in violation of the Constitution of the United States of America. It is a court of privilege and abuse, of murder and theft, not a court of law.
I declare under penalty of perjury that this court is rogue and is not operating as a lawful, unbiased and honorable court of law. Its decisions and actions do not reflect the law of the United States of America or the State of California. The proceedings are sham proceedings. The theft and abuse, however, are quite real.”
The time has come for the citizens of the United States to rise up against judicial oppression. I strongly suggest that community groups come together and start executing citizens’ arrests of judges, magistrates and commissioners who violate the Constitution. The time is long past for pleadings and prayers to courts which are hell- bent on murder and theft.
This is a story about Patriots’ Day, April 19, and Patriot Day, September 11, and is about better days in the United States, when a man could be known and elected President even with truly ”gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions” lurking in his past. It is also a story about Paul Revere.
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
On the Eighteenth of April in Seventy-five.
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.”1
And so it was that Paul Revere, his father nez Apollos Rivoire,2 galloped from town to town in the wee hours of the morning of April 19, 1775, warning the townspeople in Eastern Massachusetts that British Regulars were planning to stage surprise raid on the towns for guns and gunpowder. Instead, the Redcoats were surprised by local militia defending their homeland security. That morning took place the battles of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, first battles of the American Revolution, and the date became a much-honored state holiday in Massachusetts, Patriots’ Day, not to be confused with Patriot Day, September 11, officially marking the first day of the first decade of the War Against Terror.
Paul Revere was a man of many talents. On the date of his ride he was described in a British “who’who” of American rebels as a “silver smith.”3 His silver “is regarded as one of the outstanding achievements in American decorative arts.” 4 His copper cooking ware has been known for centuries as “Revere Ware” although with the loss of 500 American jobs in the nineties,it is now manufactured in India. He was a dentist, although the story that he made George Washington’s falsies, is disputed. He was one of the instigators of the Boston Tea Party, although he also served to protect the ship against vandals after that event. And he was a skilled engraver of copper plates. He is said to have been present at the Boston Massacre, and his engraving of the events there brought folks to a fever pitch, about ready to organize a lynch mob against the British Regulars who shot five Boston citizens at the Massacre.
The British had quartered regiments equal to approximately one fourth of the population in
Boston to enforce the taxes that were to be the subject of the Tea Party, and relations were, to say the least, strained. British soldiers were regularly pelted with stones and snowballs. As depicted in Revere’s engraving, the Massacre took place, appropriately enough, in front of the Old State House,
which has been the site of as many significant events in American history over the last two and a half centuries as the Capitol itself. Take a good look, for instance, at the balcony, which you can see above the gun smoke in Revere’s engraving. That’s one of two spots where the Declaration of Independence was read to the assembled masses on July 4, 1776, and again by British Queen Elizabeth on July 4, 1976.
But Paul Revere’s depiction of a defenseless and unarmed gathering being shot at by a line of red-coated marksmen, is said to have been better politics than reporting. What apparently occurred was that a British soldier was doing sentry duty when a boy taunted him with something like, “Why won’t you pay the bill for your wig?” whereupon the soldier belted the boy, whereupon the boy recruited help and so did the soldier, whereupon a crowd gathered who began pelting the soldiers with stones and snowballs and someone, either a soldier or someone from the crowd, yelled “Shoot them,” whereupon the soldiers began shooting, leaving five dead. One man taunts another over a wig, and five men end up dead. “When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?”5 One of the five, a leader of the crowd, Crispus Attucks, an African-American who has subsequently been considered one of the heroes of colonial American history, was depicted by Revere as white.
Revere’s engraving circulated in Boston and its surroundings, and the public became incensed at the British soldiers who had shot five citizens dead.
Fearful for their careers and even their lives, all the lawyers approached to defend the soldiers refused. John Adams was, like Barack Obama a Harvard-educated lawyer who would later be President, but there, apparently, the similarities end, Adams stepped forth, declared that the Redcoats had the right to a fair trial and that he would defend them. He did so, and well. Most of the British soldiers were acquitted, based essentially on self-defense. For many months Adams was treated as a traitor. His legal business dropped by half. A few months after the trial, there is the notation in his journal, “Never in more misery my whole life.” But in his old age, the retired President was able to look back at his defense of the British soldiers in 1770 as “one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.”7 ] And so it was.
If the Revolution had its Boston Massacre, then the War on Terror had its 9/11. But Patriots’ Day is not to be confused with Patriot Day. Barrack Obama did not perceive things as had John Adams. When the alleged perpetrators of the killings in Boston were arrested, they received a fair trial and were even acquitted. When the alleged mastermind of 9/11was caught, he was summarily shot dead, apparently on orders of President Obama. No arrest, no trial, no opportunity to give his side of what actually occurred.. And now the
President’s “right” to have the country’s perceived enemies shot on sight, even on American soil – no arrest, no trial – has been established by law.John Adams, where are you when we need you?
1 The full text of the poem, required of many a
school child in Massachusetts to be put to memory, is:
Paul Revere’s Ride Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”
Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
2. Like many an American patriot,
Paul was born of political refugees from Europe.
3 “Tory Account of Whig Leaders Before the
4 History of American Women,
By now, you probably think your opinion of Goldman Sachs and its swarm of Wall Street allies has rock-bottomed at raw loathing. You’re wrong. There’s more. It turns out that the most destructive of all their recent acts has barely been discussed at all. Here’s the rest. This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world.
It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it “a silent mass murder”, entirely due to “man-made actions.”
Earlier this year I was in Ethiopia, one of the worst-hit countries, and people there remember the food crisis as if they had been struck by a tsunami. “My children stopped growing,” a woman my age called Abiba Getaneh, told me. “I felt like battery acid had been poured into my stomach as I starved. I took my two daughters out of school and got into debt. If it had gone on much longer, I think my baby would have died.”
Most of the explanations we were given at the time have turned out to be false. It didn’t happen because supply fell: the International Grain Council says global production of wheat actually increased during that period, for example. It isn’t because demand grew either: as Professor Jayati Ghosh of the Centre for Economic Studies in New Delhi has shown, demand actually fell by 3 per cent. Other factors – like the rise of biofuels, and the spike in the oil price – made a contribution, but they aren’t enough on their own to explain such a violent shift.
To understand the biggest cause, you have to plough through some concepts that will make your head ache – but not half as much as they made the poor world’s stomachs ache.
For over a century, farmers in wealthy countries have been able to engage in a process where they protect themselves against risk. Farmer Giles can agree in January to sell his crop to a trader in August at a fixed price. If he has a great summer, he’ll lose some cash, but if there’s a lousy summer or the global price collapses, he’ll do well from the deal. When this process was tightly regulated and only companies with a direct interest in the field could get involved, it worked.
Then, through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into “derivatives” that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in “food speculation” was born.
So Farmer Giles still agrees to sell his crop in advance to a trader for £10,000. But now, that contract can be sold on to speculators, who treat the contract itself as an object of potential wealth. Goldman Sachs can buy it and sell it on for £20,000 to Deutsche Bank, who sell it on for £30,000 to Merrill Lynch – and on and on until it seems to bear almost no relationship to Farmer Giles’s crop at all.
If this seems mystifying, it is. John Lanchester, in his superb guide to the world of finance, Whoops! Why Everybody Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, explains: “Finance, like other forms of human behaviour, underwent a change in the 20th century, a shift equivalent to the emergence of modernism in the arts – a break with common sense, a turn towards self-referentiality and abstraction and notions that couldn’t be explained in workaday English.” Poetry found its break with realism when T S Eliot wrote “The Wasteland”. Finance found its Wasteland moment in the 1970s, when it began to be dominated by complex financial instruments that even the people selling them didn’t fully understand.
So what has this got to do with the bread on Abiba’s plate? Until deregulation, the price for food was set by the forces of supply and demand for food itself. (This was already deeply imperfect: it left a billion people hungry.) But after deregulation, it was no longer just a market in food. It became, at the same time, a market in food contracts based on theoretical future crops – and the speculators drove the price through the roof.
Here’s how it happened. In 2006, financial speculators like Goldmans pulled out of the collapsing US real estate market. They reckoned food prices would stay steady or rise while the rest of the economy tanked, so they switched their funds there. Suddenly, the world’s frightened investors stampeded on to this ground.
So while the supply and demand of food stayed pretty much the same, the supply and demand for derivatives based on food massively rose – which meant the all-rolled-into-one price shot up, and the starvation began. The bubble only burst in March 2008 when the situation got so bad in the US that the speculators had to slash their spending to cover their losses back home.
When I asked Merrill Lynch’s spokesman to comment on the charge of causing mass hunger, he said: “Huh. I didn’t know about that.” He later emailed to say: “I am going to decline comment.” Deutsche Bank also refused to comment. Goldman Sachs were more detailed, saying they sold their index in early 2007 and pointing out that “serious analyses … have concluded index funds did not cause a bubble in commodity futures prices”, offering as evidence a statement by the OECD.
How do we know this is wrong? As Professor Ghosh points out, some vital crops are not traded on the futures markets, including millet, cassava, and potatoes. Their price rose a little during this period – but only a fraction as much as the ones affected by speculation. Her research shows that speculation was “the main cause” of the rise.
So it has come to this. The world’s wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won. Their Wasteland moment created a real wasteland. What does it say about our political and economic system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?
If we don’t re-regulate, it is only a matter of time before this all happens again. How many people would it kill next time? The moves to restore the pre-1990s rules on commodities trading have been stunningly sluggish. In the US, the House has passed some regulation, but there are fears that the Senate – drenched in speculator-donations – may dilute it into meaninglessness. The EU is lagging far behind even this, while in Britain, where most of this “trade” takes place, advocacy groups are worried that David Cameron’s government will block reform entirely to please his own friends and donors in the City.
Only one force can stop another speculation-starvation-bubble. The decent people in developed countries need to shout louder than the lobbyists from Goldman Sachs. The World Development Movement is launching a week of pressure this summer as crucial decisions on this are taken: text WDM to 82055 to find out what you can do.
The last time I spoke to her, Abiba said: “We can’t go through that another time. Please – make sure they never, never do that to us again.”
Source: The Independent
The battle for justice in the Middle East is our battle. It is part of the vast, global battle against the 1 percent. It is about living rather than dying. It is about communicating rather than killing. It is about love rather than hate. It is part of the great battle against the corporate forces of death that reign over us—the fossil fuel industry, the weapons manufacturers, the security and surveillance state, the speculators on Wall Street, the oligarchic elites who assault our poor, our working men and women, our children, one in four of whom depend on food stamps to eat, the elites who are destroying our ecosystem with its trees, its air and its water and throwing into doubt our survival as a species.
What is being done in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, is a pale reflection of what is slowly happening to the rest of us. It is a window into the rise of the global security state, our new governing system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” It is a reflection of a world where the powerful are not bound by law, either on Wall Street or in the shattered remains of the countries we invade and occupy, including Iraq with its hundreds of thousands of dead. And one of the greatest purveyors of this demented ideology of violence for the sake of violence, this flagrant disregard for the rule of domestic and international law, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
I spent seven years in the Middle East. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I lived for two of those seven years in Jerusalem. AIPAC does not speak for Jews or for Israel. It is a mouthpiece for right-wing ideologues, some of whom hold power in Israel and some of whom hold power in Washington, who believe that because they have the capacity to war wage they have a right to wage war, whose loyalty, in the end, is not to the citizens of Israel or Palestine or the United States but the corporate elites, the defense contractors, those who make war a business, those who have turned ordinary Palestinians, Israelis and Americans, along with hundreds of millions of the world’s poor, into commodities to exploit, repress and control.
We have not brought freedom, democracy and the virtues of Western civilization to the Muslim world. We have brought state terrorism, massive destruction, war and death. There is no moral distinction between a drone strike and the explosion of the improvised explosive device, between a suicide bombing and a targeted assassination. We have used the iron fist of the American military to implant our oil companies in Iraq, occupy Afghanistan and ensure that the Muslim world remains submissive and compliant. We have supported a government in Israel that has carried out egregious war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza and is daily stealing larger and larger portions of Palestinian land. We have established a network of military bases, some the size of small cities, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait, and we have secured basing rights in the Gulf states of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. We have expanded our military operations to Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Algeria and Yemen. And no one believes, except perhaps us, that we have any intention of leaving.
And let us not forget that deep inside our secret world of offshore penal colonies, black sites, and torture and interrogation centers, we practice the cruelty and barbarity that always accompanies unchecked imperial power. There were scores of graphic pictures and videos from the prison in Abu Ghraib that were swiftly classified and hidden from public view. And in these videos, as Seymour Hersh reported, mothers who were arrested with their young sons, often children, watched in horror as their boys were repeatedly sodomized. This was filmed. And on the soundtrack you hear the boys shrieking. And the mothers were smuggling notes out to their families saying, “Come and kill us because of what is happening.”
We are the biggest problem in the Middle East. It is we who legitimize the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads, suicide bombers and radical jihadists. The longer we drop iron fragmentation bombs and seize Muslim land, the longer we kill with impunity, the more these monsters, reflections of our own distorted image, will proliferate.
“If you gaze into the abyss,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “the abyss gazes into you.”
I am no friend of the Iranian regime, which helped create and arm Hezbollah, is certainly meddling in Iraq, has persecuted human rights activists, gays, women and religious and ethnic minorities, embraces racism and intolerance, and uses its power to deny popular will. And yes, it is a regime that appears determined to build a nuclear weapon, although I would stress that no one has offered any proof this is occurring. I have spent time in Iranian jails. I was once deported from Tehran in handcuffs. But I do not remember Iran orchestrating a coup in the United States to replace an elected government with a brutal dictator who for decades persecuted, assassinated and imprisoned democracy activists. I do not remember Iran arming and funding a neighboring state to wage war against our country. Iran never shot down one of our passenger jets, as did the USS Vincennes—nicknamed Robocruiser by the crews of other American vessels—when in June 1988 it fired missiles at an Airbus filled with Iranian civilians, killing everyone on board. Iran is not sponsoring terrorist strikes within the United States, as our intelligence services and the Israeli intelligence services currently do in Iran. We have not seen five of our top nuclear scientists since 2007 murdered on American soil. The attacks in Iran include suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, sabotage and “targeted assassinations” of government officials and other Iranian leaders. What would we do if the situation were reversed? How would we react if Iran carried out similar acts of terrorism against us?
We are, and have long been, the primary engine for radicalism in the Middle East. The greatest favor we can do for democracy activists in Iran, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the states that dot North Africa, is to withdraw our troops from the region and begin to speak to Iranians and the rest of the Muslim world in the civilized language of diplomacy, respect and mutual interests. The longer we cling to the doomed doctrine of permanent war the more we give credibility to the extremists who need, indeed yearn for, an enemy that speaks in the same crude slogans of nationalist cant and violence that they do. The louder the Israelis and their idiot allies in Washington call for the bombing of Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions, the happier are the morally bankrupt clerics who are ordering the beating and murder of demonstrators. We may laugh when crowds supporting [President] Ahmadinejad call us “the Great Satan,” but there is a very palpable reality that informs the terrible algebra of their hatred. And since even the most optimistic scenarios say that any strike on Iranian nuclear installations will at best set back Iran’s alleged weapons program by [only] three or four years, we can be sure that violence will beget violence, just as fanaticism begets fanaticism.
The hypocrisy of this vaunted moral crusade is not lost on those in the Middle East. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Pakistan, India and Israel did not and developed nuclear weapons programs in secret. Israel now has an estimated 400 to 600 nuclear weapons. The word “Dimona,” the name of the city where the nuclear facilities are located in Israel, is shorthand in the Muslim world for the deadly Israeli threat to Muslims’ existence.
What lessons did the Iranians learn from our Israeli, Pakistani and Indian allies?
Given that we are actively engaged in an effort to destabilize the Iranian regime, given that we use apocalyptic rhetoric to describe what must be done to the Iranian regime, and given that Israel could obliterate Iran many times over, what do we expect from the Iranians? On top of this, the Iranian regime grasps that the doctrine of permanent war entails making “pre-emptive” and unprovoked strikes. And they know that if Iraq, like North Korea, had had a bomb they would have never suffered American invasion and occupation.
Those in Washington who advocate attacking Iran, knowing as little about the limitations and chaos of war as they do about the Middle East, believe they can cripple nuclear production and neutralize the 850,000-man Iranian army. They should look closely at the 2006 Israeli air campaign in southern Lebanon, which saw Hezbollah victorious and united most Lebanese behind the militant Islamic group. If the massive Israeli bombing of Lebanon failed to pacify 4 million Lebanese, how can we expect to pacify a country of 70 million people? But reality never seems to impinge on the neoconservative universe or the efficacy of its doctrine of permanent war.
I have watched over the years as these neoconservatives have meddled disastrously in the Middle East. The support by neoconservatives of the Israeli right wing—and I covered Yitzhak Rabin’s 1992 campaign for prime minister when prominent AIPAC donors poured money and resources into Likud to defeat Rabin—is not about Israel. It is about advancing this perverted ideology. Rabin detested these neoconservatives. When he made his first visit to Washington after being elected prime minister he dismissed requests from the lobby for a meeting by telling aides: “I don’t speak to scumbags.”
These neoconservatives, who like our own neoconservatives hide behind the rhetoric of patriotism, national security and religious piety, are not wedded to any discernable doctrine other than force. They, like all rabid nationalists, are stunted and deformed individuals, only able to communicate in the language of self-exaltation and violence.
“The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus,” the Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš wrote. “Nationalism is the line of least resistance, the easy way. The nationalist is untroubled, he knows or thinks he knows what his values are, his, that’s to say national, that’s to say the values of the nation he belongs to, ethical and political; he is not interested in others, they are no concern of his, hell—it’s other people (other nations, another tribe). They don’t even need investigating. The nationalist sees other people in his own images—as nationalists.”
AIPAC does not drive Middle Eastern policy in the United States. I am afraid it is worse than that. AIPAC is one of an array of powerful and well-funded neoconservative institutions that worship force and drive our relations with the rest of the world. These neoconservatives choose an enemy and then our compliant class of journalists, specialists, military analysts, columnists and television commentators line up to serve as giddy cheerleaders for war. Moments like these always make me embarrassed to be a reporter. Our political elite, Republican and Democrat, finds in this ideology a simple, childish allure. This ideology does not require cultural, historical or linguistic literacy. It reduces the world to black and white, good and evil. The drumbeat for war with Iran sounded by AIPAC is part of this broad, sick, binary vision of a world that can be subjugated by force, a world where all will be made to kneel before these corporate and neoconservative elites, where none, including finally us, will be permitted to whisper dissent.
Pre-emptive war, under post-Nuremberg law, is defined as a criminal act of aggression. George W. Bush, whose disregard for the rule of law was legend, went to the U.N. for a resolution to attack Iraq, although his interpretation of the U.N. resolution as justifying the invasion of Iraq had dubious legal merit. But in this current debate over war with Iran, that pretense of legality is ignored. Where is Israel’s U.N. resolution authorizing it to strike Iran? Why isn’t anyone demanding that Israel seek one? Why does the only discussion in the media and among political elites center around the questions of “Will Israel attack Iran?” “Can it successfully carry out an attack?” “What will happen if there is an attack?” The essential question is left unasked. Does Israel have the right to attack Iran? And here the answer is very, very clear. It does not.
These neoconservatives were too blind and too enamored of their own power to see what invading Afghanistan and Iraq would trigger; so too are they unable to comprehend the regional conflagration that would be unleashed by attacking Iran, what it would mean for us, for Israel, for our allies and for tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of innocents.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish,” the Bible warns.
And since our elites have no vision it is up to us. The uprisings from Tunisia to Egypt to Greece to Occupy Wall Street to our gathering outside AIPAC’s doors in Washington are the same primal struggle for sanity, peace and justice, for a world wrenched free from the grip of those who would destroy it. And the abject fawning of our political elite, including Barack Obama, before AIPAC and its bank account is yet another window into the moral bankruptcy of our political class, another sign that the formal mechanisms of power are useless and broken. Civil disobedience is all we have left. It is our patriotic duty. We are called to make the cries of mothers, fathers and children in the squalid refugee camps in Gaza, in the suburbs of Tehran and in the bleak industrial wastelands in Ohio heard. We are called to stand up before these forces of death, the purveyors of violence, those whose hearts have grown cold with hatred. We are called to embrace and defend life with intensity and passion if we are to survive as a species, if we are to save our planet from the ravages of corporate greed and the specter of endless and futile war.
The Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai, in his poem “Rypin,” translated by Peter Cole, examined what power, force and self-worship do to compassion, justice and human decency. Rypin was the Polish town his father escaped from during the pogroms.
These creatures in helmets and khakis,
I say to myself, aren’t Jews,
In the truest sense of the word. A Jew
Doesn’t dress himself up with weapons like jewelry,
Doesn’t believe in the barrel of a gun aimed at a target,
But in the thumb of the child who was shot at—
In the house through which he comes and goes,
Not in the charge that blows it apart.
The coarse soul and iron first
He scorns by nature.
He lifts his eyes not to the officer, or the soldier
With his finger on the trigger—but to justice,
And he cries out for compassion.
Therefore, he won’t steal land from its people
And will not starve them in camps.
The voice calling for expulsion
Is heard from the hoarse throat of the oppressor—
A sure sign that the Jew has entered a foreign country
And, like Umberto Saba, gone into hiding within his own city.
Because of voices like these, father
At age sixteen, with your family, you fled Rypin;
Now here Rypin is your son.
Source: Chris Hedges | Truthdig.com
What did the last decade accomplish in the occupation of Afghanistan? Other than streamlining the opium shipment trade, what did this foreign expedition achieve?Wikipedia reports, “As of December 29, 2011, there have been 2,765 coalition deaths in Afghanistan as part of ongoing coalition operations (Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF) since the invasion in 2001.” This may seem a small number by recent loss standards, but the excuse of fighting the CIA invention and bogyman, Al Qaeda is the height of hypocrisy.Not much, comfort for the Pat Tillman family or confidence in the inept cover-up mission to silence would be whistleblowers. The convenient idiot Osama bin Laden overstayed his usefulness. Too bad that Seal Team 6 knew too much to risk their loyalty on future escapades. The sick foreign policy that orders the ritual killings of their own military trained assassins offers up their heroes as necessary sacrifices for the New World Order.
The Insider provides several mainstream media references in the article; CIA created al-Qaeda and gave $3 BILLION to Osama bin Laden. “The US government trained, armed, funded and supported Osama bin Laden and his followers in Afghanistan during the cold war. With a huge investment of $3,000,000,000 (three billion US dollars), the CIA effectively created and nurtured bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network using American tax-payers money.”The definitive source in opposition to the Afghanistan debacle, antiwar.com is invaluable. Back in 2009, Philip Giraldi wrote inThe Cost of War:
“Why are these wars so expensive? The main supply route starts in Karachi, Pakistan, and works its way up through the Khyber Pass, at which point the truck convoys are frequently attacked by insurgents. When a convoy is destroyed the US Army assumes the loss as no one will insure such a perilous enterprise. Sometimes the trucking companies pay off the attackers to be left alone, ironically putting US taxpayer-provided money into the hands of those seeking to kill American soldiers.
The Pentagon estimates that the cost of fuel delivered to the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq averages $45 per gallon, including all expenses but excluding legacy costs like interest on borrowing money to buy the fuel in the first place.
A total of one trillion dollars has been spent already in Iraq and in Afghanistan but legacy costs to include paying off the money that was borrowed and medical care for the many thousands of wounded soldiers and marines will drive the total cost of the war past the $5 trillion dollar mark even if the two wars were to end tomorrow.”
Over two years ago, a video entitled, Afghanistan War Is a Failure provided a visual account of the “so called” progress on the ground. The NeoCon “chicken hawks” will dismiss the losses as regrettable but necessary. That is the basic issue. What is essential about keeping foreign legions on distant soils when the cause for such deployment is based upon a false premise? As long as the phony war on terror is used to wage aggressive warfare and maintain a permanent garrison presence, victory will never bring national security.The conflict between using military combat forces and private contractors for implementing search and destroy operations poses a serious issue. While both are voluntary participants, the public would want to deny that each is a mercenary. Separated by the pay scale may seem harsh to many, but the patriotic enlistee is often in training to become a Blackwater thug. Burning Koran’s is just learning the drill before graduating to work for the corporate elite.
Now the Uniform Code of Military Justice is certainly a welcome standard for conduct, but pirate Xe Services armies, are restrained only by their own demons. Such reliance on using private black bag enforcers is hardly consistent with the illusive notion of nation building. Endemic corruption is inevitable when money and brute force controls the border. Paying tribute in order to wage war exemplifies the absurdity of the military machine. Their only fear is the ending of the campaign.
The You Tube Blackwater / Xe May Get $1 Billion Afghanistan Training Contract Despite Failure with Border Police video illustrates this sentiment.Aspiring Rambo’s fighting the next Charlie Wilson’s exploit lacks the self-defense excuse of being the victim of First Blood. The Taliban that was shipped stinger missiles to defeat the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan were the product of a policy gone awry. Selig Harrisonfrom the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars states,
“The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan.” The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan’s demand that they should decide how this money should be spent.”
The consequences of this legacy are devastating. The covert army that operates in Afghanistan to engage in Obama’s Wars is a well-known fact. Author of Watergate fame, Bob Woodward reveals in his book, that the C.I.A. has a 3,000 man “covert army” in Afghanistan counterterrorism pursuit teams
Called, “C.T.P.T., mostly Afghans who capture and kill Taliban fighters and seek support in tribal areas. Past news accounts have reported that the C.I.A. has a number of militias, including one trained on one of its compounds, but nothing the size of the covert army.
Mr. Woodward reveals the code name for the C.I.A.’s drone missile campaign in Pakistan, Sylvan Magnolia, and writes that the White House was so enamored of the program that Mr. Emanuel would regularly call the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, asking, “Who did we get today?”
The video 3,000 CIA-trained Afghan assassins in Afghanistan and Pakistan, expands on this operation. Roaming goon squads inflicting increased levels of atrocities is a demented extension of an evil empire.Historically, Afghanistan is probably one of the least desirable locations to carry on maneuvers. However, the imperialist empire must demonstrate its ability to project and drone anyone to death. It seems that all the hard-learned lessons of Viet Nam are lost. The memory banks of the officers that direct and carry out the dictates of a civilian authority, who love to play soldier, pervert their command. Playing video games is not entertainment when human body parts explode from bombs that rain down from the sky.
Standing down and rejecting unlawful orders are the supreme duty that escapes most military careerists. The fear of Courts Martial proceedings 10 U.S.C. § 502 and 5 U.S.C. § 3331 keep the system shouting gung-ho.
“It seems appropriate that military members swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States rather than simply swearing to support and defend the United States simpliciter. This is significant. It means that military members are more than just neutral tools of the political party in power. This oath places an affirmative responsibility on military members to read and understand the Constitution, to recognize the source and limits of the authority they have, and to uphold the specific system of government that the Constitution sets forth.”
The Afghanistan adventure, in now the longest imperium war, that even the mass media laments. ABC news observes,
“Vietnam and Afghanistan do have this much in common: they are distant, profoundly complex, and ill-understood campaigns. Not surprisingly, then, they defy easy resolutions. And, in their own ways, these two wars have tested the mettle and patience of a nation.”
The “mettle and patience” of the military is the real concern. As long as there is no draft, crisis of conscience are confined to those who succumb to obeying illegal orders for trumped up assignments. The American empire is a prime cause and reason for the destruction of the nation. The government is not the country nor is it legitimate when it acts as a belligerent.
The War on Terror is a pseudo fraud. Claims of an existential threat to America are bogus. The despotic War Party regime that fosters continuous international intervention wants a perpetual state of war. The hysteria that keeps citizens in a self-delusional trance pushes the military into uninterrupted carnage.
Alexander the Great discovered the limits of the Macedonian empire in Afghanistan. The English also discovered the hard way. Rudyard Kipling’s poem THE YOUNG BRITISH SOLDIER sums up well.
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!
A CIA report concludes that the lessons learned from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan indicate: “There is no single piece of land in Afghanistan that has not been occupied by a Soviet soldier . . . no single military problem that has arisen and not been solved, and yet there is still no result.” Unfortunately, the most prolific attribute of American foreign policy is stupidity. The palpable explanation is that the best interests of the country are suppressed for the benefits of the ruling global elite. It is time to recognize that ill-placed patriotism is a guarantee for destruction.
Hanna Jaeckel had made up her mind. After carefully considering the current economic and political situation in the United States, the sixty- seven year old Danish –born woman weeded through a lifetime of possessions, packed up her Chevrolet SUV and, accompanied by her Rottweiler Katinka, took off for the Mexican border.
Jaeckel, who had been residing in the U.S. for over 40 years, punctuated by a couple of years when she and her former husband lived in Indonesia, had already secured a rental in Progreso, a fishing village in the Yucatan Peninsula. Progreso is popular with the American and Canadian “snowbirds.” Snowbirds, as they are called, are retirees who spend the winter months down South and migrate back up North for the spring and summer.
But Jaeckel is no snowbird. When she closed the doors on her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, it was to be for good. Her home of twenty- four years had been foreclosed upon and, after several months of reviewing her options, she opted to move to Mexico. She hadn’t counted on overzealous American border officials attempting to block her egress.
It took Jaeckel four days to drive from Connecticut to the Brownsville/Matamoros border crossing. On approaching the border, she reports that she was detained by two American border guards, who told her to turn around and go back. “We can’t let you go,” they told her. She informed them she was intent on going. She states they then adopted an authoritarian manner with her, and began to demand more and more documents.
They initially told her that her Danish passport “wasn’t enough.” They asked for proof of ownership of her car. She provided title and registration. They then asked if she had any other proof of identity. She reports pulling out her Danish driver’s license and an international driver’s license. The guards then told her that these documents weren’t valid. When she informed them that the Bridgeport DMV had told her differently, they switched gears and demanded her Danish birth certificate, which she provided them.
At that point, she reports they retired to a nearby building. When they returned, she heard one of them informing the other, “I ran her and she is not on any of our lists.” Jaeckel wonders what lists those were and why that would be of any issue.
The guards then began another tack. “Mexico is very violent. We don’t think it is safe for you to travel there. We are only trying to protect you,” one of them offered. When she declared she was going anyway, one of the guards informed her, “We don’t think we are going to let you go.” At that point, Jaeckel reports pulling out her cell phone and stating she was calling the Danish Embassy. The guards relented and let her cross over.
All told, Jaeckel was detained for two hours. She reports making the trip to Progreso in four days without further incident. “The United States has become a police state, “ she declares. “They had no right to try to prevent me from leaving and if I hadn’t threatened to call the Embassy, they would not have let me pass over.”
Jaeckel says she is delighted with her new home in Progreso, which is about a quarter of a mile from the ocean. “I am very impressed with the openness and friendliness of the Mexican people,” she says. “There is an underlying fear I have sensed in America in the last four years and I don’t feel it here.” She says she feels fortunate in having decided to leave when she did. “If there is another 911- type event,” she says, “they may close the borders. I’m so glad I got out when I did.”
Does anyone think that if our governments fail to keep to their austerity targets and fail to keep bailing out the banking sector, that the banks will just shrug and say, “Well, thanks for trying” and accept their fate? Or do you think the banks might have a Plan B of their own?
First let’s be clear about Plan A. That plan is to enforce an era of long-term austerity cuts to public services, in part to cut public expenditure so as to free up money for spending on the banks, but perhaps more importantly to further atrophy public services so that private providers can take over. A privatization of services which will bring great profits and cash flow to the private sector and to the banks who finance them, and a further general victory for those who feel that private debts rather than public taxes should be what underpins our national life and social contract.
Plan A therefore requires that governments convince their populace that private debts should be taken on to the public purse and that once taken on, the contracts signed by governments on behalf of the tax payers/citizens, are then sacrosanct and above any democratic change of mind. If governments can hold their peoples to this,then the banks are ‘saved’ with the added bonus that democracy and the ‘Rights’ it once guaranteed will all have been redefined as subordinate to finance and its contracts, and our citizenship will have become second to one’s contractual place in a web of private debts. Debts to the private lenders will become more important than taxes to the public exchequer. And as they do the State will wither away, leaving free-market believers and extreme libertarians exactly where they have always wanted to be – in charge – by dint of being rich. It is, in my view, a bleak future which I once described as A Toxic Debt Wasteland.
BUT it does all depend on governments being able to suppress discontent and to outlaw opposition in the sense of saying to people you may disagree but we have now declared these debts and their repayment to be outside democratic control and immune to any attempt to rescind or repudiate the agreed debt contracts. As the severity of the austerity cuts to social services (health, education, pensions etc) becomes painfully clearer to people and the ‘necessity’ for them is ‘regretfully’ extended year after year, it will become harder and harder to justify, let alone impose, such suffering. We will enter an era of vicious sectarian blame. We are already in it, but it will get much darker.
The banks and those whose wealth and power is tied to them, would obviously prefer Plan A to succeed. It makes governments do all the dirty work and it would profit the banks far more in the long run. If you want to bleed a man – kill him and you get about 5 litres/quarts. But strap him to a gurney with a catheter in his arm and a drip feed in his nose, and he will bleed for you for as long as his system can stand it. That is Plan A. But what if it fails?
I cannot believe the banks, with everything at stake, have not thought it prudent to have a plan B. So here are my thoughts on what that plan could be. Let me say now, I do not think this plan was a long term conspiracy. I do not think the end game was in mind when the first elements were put in place. It has, I think, been constructed opportunistically. But the end result is no less dark and threatening.
What I offer from here on is thinking out loud. I obvioulsy have no proof at all that there is a plan B. All I can hope to do is show you the elements which I think could make a Plan B for the banks. Then my argument is that if the mechanism I describe could work, if I have not simply misunderstood something, then I think the banks will surely have thought of it before me. And so it either already exists or it will. I think there are scraps of information that suggest it does exist and the collapse of MF Global might even be the first example of Plan B in action. The MF Global case certainly contains all the clues.
MF Global imploded when it could not get the short term funding it needed. There were two kinds of funding MF Global relied upon for its liquidity/cash flow: repo and hypothecation. For those not familiar, Repo is when a bank or brokerage ‘sells’ an asset for cash but with the agreement that it will re-purchase – hence ‘repo’ – the asset at an agreed date for an agreed price. It is not really a sale but a loan. Repo is the oxygen the financial world breathes. Repo is a $10 Trillion market.
The other main source of the essential short term funding was Hypothecation. This is when a bank or brokerage pledges an asset to a ‘lender’ in return for cash but the asset remains in the possession of the borrower. What the ‘lender’ gets is hypothetical control of the asset. Although the asset never actually changes hands, the new ‘owner’s’ hypothetical control of the asset allows her to do what she wishes with the asset. Including re-hypothecating the asset to another bank or brokerage. If she does so then the hypothetical control passes to yet another ‘owner’. Even though physically it remain where it started.
Like repo – hypothecation and re-hypothecation are truely massive parts of modern debt-based banking. So the first thing the MF Global case tells us is that what happened is not due to some peripheral, parochial rogue trader-esque, isolated problem. What happened was as a result of a mechanism right at the very heart of the financial system.
In the MF Global collapse what ZeroHedge, and following them, I and others wrote about, was the way in which not only did MF Global go bankrupt, but so also did some of their clients when they found the money they thought MF Global was holding for them, went unaccountably missing. Client’s money went missing because it was ‘mingled’ with the brokerage’s money when it should not have been. Brokers should keep them separate. But it seems in the ‘re-hypothecation’ of assets it was mingled. Former CEO of MF Global, Mr Corzine has sworn under oath he knew nothing about his co-mingling nor the irregularities with his company’s re-hypothecation. It has been rumoured the client’s money may now be, possibly, in the hands of JP Morgan.
This hint of illegality has grabbed everyone’s attention. But I think it is actually the legal part of the story not the possibly illegal part which is by far the more important.
In my opinion the key to the bank’s Plan B is in understanding why any money/assets were taken from MF Global after it had gone bankrupt and how exactly it went under in the first place. We all know MF Global had huge holdings of dicey European sovereign debt. But those debts have not become worthless so what caused MF to collapse? .
The answer to all these questions lie in a change to Bankruptcy laws that happened around the world between 2002 and 05. This might seem like a detour into nerd city but it is not. It is the key.
When a company declares bankruptcy there is what the Americans call an ‘automatic stay’, which means all the assets left in a company at the moment it goes bankrupt are protected from the rush of creditor’s demands until appointed auditors can sort out who should get what. The automatic stay prevents a first come first served disorderly looting where those with the most muscle getting everything and everyone else getting nothing. As we are all painfully aware now, there is a legal pecking order to who gets paid before who, with Senior bond holders at the top. But, in America culminating in 2005 with the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) the order was changed. And that change is the crucial event.
At the time the law was being passed few were aware of this change and even fewer were aware of how important it would become. At the time the furore was all about changes to personal bankruptcy. The Credit Card industry (AKA Banks) had spent more than a decade and its rumoured as much as $100 million lobbying to make bankruptcy much harder and more punitive for ordinary debtors.
An article from 2005 in the Boston Globe quoting a very senior Republican Senator, gives a flavour of what was then being said about ordinary people who fell into debt.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has said that millions of Americans are bankrupt or near-bankrupt because “they run up huge bills and then expect society to pay for them.”
After 4 years of bailing out banks who did exactly that the irony is enough to gag on.
But what was not talked about was an amendment which was put into the bill and, as far as I know little debated. Don’t let the word ‘amendment’ mislead you. Amendments are generally not there as refinements and improvements on the original idea. Whenever a bill goes through Congress every lobby group and industry with something it wants done, gets their tamed/owned/ political friends to tack on the change in the law that suits them in return for supporting the original bill. The bill emerges from this process festooned with ‘amendments’ to other vaguely related laws. Amendments are the price of getting the original bill passed. They are often little understood, written by and for the benefit of the sponsoring lobby group and can be far more influential than the bill they are smuggled in on. This is certainly the case here.
According to a scholarly article in the American Bankruptcy Law Review,
“the provisions [in the amendment] were derived from recommendations from the President’s Working Group and revisions espoused by the financial industry”
The President at the time was Bush and one of the most vociferous sponsors of the amendment was none other than Senator Leach whose other claim to fame was the Gram-Leech-Bliley Act which repealed most of the Glass Steagal Act of 1933 whose repeal virtually assured that the present debt crisis would happen. When bankers play pocket billiards, Senator Leach is what they prod their balls with. Ribaldry aside Senator Leach can certainly be described as one of the principle architects of our present global misery. But I digress.
What was this ammendment? The ammendment exempted repos (and hypothecated and re-hypothecated assets) and a whole range of derivatives from the automatic stay. It also allowed lower quality assets to qualify for the exemptions.
The special bankruptcy treatment given repos and derivatives means that repo lenders and parties to derivative contracts can keep the collateral if their trading partner becomes insolvent. This exempts them from the “automatic stay” rule in bankruptcy, which prohibits most creditors from trying to collect ahead of others.
Or as the official report from the US Financial Crisis Inquirey Commission said,
under a 2005 amendment to the bankruptcy laws, derivatives counterparties were given the advantage over other creditors of being able to immediately terminate their contracts and seize collateral at the time of bankruptcy. (p. 48)
So when a bank goes bankrupt, BEFORE even the most senior bond holders, the repo lenders and derivatives traders can remove, or keep all the assets pledged to them.
This amendment which was touted as necessary to reduce systemic risk in financial bankruptcies also allowed a whole range of far riskier assets to be used, making them too immune from the automatic stay in the event of bankruptcy. Which meant traders flocked to a market where risky assets would be traded and used as collateral without apparent risk to the lender. The size of the repo market hugely increased and riskier assets were gladly accepted as collateral because traders saw that if the person they had lent to went down they could get your money back before anyone else and no one could stop them.
It also did one other thing. Because the repo and derivatives traders ran no risk – they could get their money out of a failing bank before anyone else, it meant they had no reason at all to try to stop a bank from going under. Quite the opposite.
All other creditors – bond holders – risk losing some of their money in a bankruptcy. So they have a reason to want to avoid bankruptcy of a trading partner. Not so the repo and derivatives partners. They would now be best served by looting the company – perfectly legally – as soon as trouble seemed likely. In fact the repo and derivatives traders could push a bank that owed them money over into bankruptcy when it most suited them as creditors. When, for example, they might be in need of a bit of cash themselves to meet a few pressing creditors of their own.
The collapse of both Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG were all directly because repo and derivatives partners of those instituions suddenly stoppped trading and ‘looted’ them instead.
According to Enrico Perotti, professor of international finance at Amsterdam Business School speaking at the London Conference on The Future of Bank Funding, held in June of this year, 2011,
The financial crisis happened when repo lenders and derivative parties lost confidence in the mortgage-backed securities they’d accepted as collateral for repo loans and credit default swaps. They demanded to be paid, forcing their troubled trading partners into fire sales of their holdings to raise cash. They were unconcerned that they might drive their trading partners into bankruptcy, because they were exempt from the automatic stay.
Professor Perotti went on to say,
As often in financial regulation, this leads to unintended consequences. As a default leads to repossession of collateral for all safe harbor claims, repossession accelerates fire sales, resulting in a disorderly resolution, with a rush to sell collateral ahead of others, creating a downward spiral in valuations. The timing of the jumps in risk spreads on Lehman, two days after the default, demonstrates this effect, as does AIG.
Should the bankers and their political fluffers like Mr Leach have known? Well they were warned at the time. In 2005 a paper entitled “Derivatives and the Bankruptcy Code: Why the Special Treatment?” by Franklin R. Edwards and Edward R. Morrison, in the Yale Journal of Regulation
… the Code’s special treatment of derivatives contracts cannot be justified by a fear of systemic risk…. Indeed, exempting derivatives counterparties from the automatic stay may make matters worse by increasing systemic risk….Our analysis, however, should worry members of Congress and legislators in other countries. They have been lobbied heavily by special interest groups (such as ISDA) to expand the special treatment of derivatives on grounds that such legislation is necessary to prevent a systemic meltdown in OTC derivatives markets should a derivatives counterparty suffer financial distress.
Our analysis casts serious doubt on this proposition. Systemic risk may be a real threat, but bankruptcy law has no role to play in addressing it.”
The same changes to the bankruptcy laws were also adopted in the UK and throughout Europe. In fact they may well have preceded them. I simply have not done that research yet. And the changes in the UK and Europe were also lobbied for and sponsored by the banks via among others the ISDA (International Swaps and Derivatives Association). Most of the Big banks are ISDA members.
OK all of that was the back-ground to show you how we got here and that it is all ‘legal’. On the basis of laws sponsored by the banks of course. Now lets come to the present.
MF Global is where I started. There was something about its collapse which did not seem right to me. Mr Corzine’s claim that he ‘didn’t know’ where his clients’ money had gone might be true, but I was and am still, left with the feeling that there is a deeper story here.When I wrote about MF Global and the renewed crisis of bank lending, I came across the fact that in the six months to June 2011 the global trade in Derivatives increased by 18% to an astonishing $707 trillion in nominal value (the face value of all the contracts). And remember the Repo market is $10 trillion.
Somehow MF Global’s collapse and the huge increase in derivatives trading felt related. For me it was not the huge exposure to risky European bonds which MF Global had deliberately amassed, it was the nature of its demise, the trigger, and what happened to its assets afterwards, which were key. MF Global collapsed because it could not get short term funding. It could not get other financial institutions to accept its assets as collateral for Repo agreements nor hypothecate tham any longer.
When MF Global went down it did so because its repo, derivaitve and hypothecation partners essentially foreclosed on it. And when they did so they then ‘looted’ the company. And because of the co-mingling of clients money in the hypothecation deals the ‘looters’ also seized clients money as well. The co-mingling story is what brought the whole thing into the light but also provided a wonderful distraction.
The important point is that the change in the Bankruptcy laws. The change, as illustrated by Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG has made the markets more not less systemically unstable. Yet the banks have defeated all attempts to reform these unwise laws. The Dodd Frank financial reform act in eth US did nothing to address them AT ALL. Mr Dodd was lobbied very hard to make sure of this.
Here, finally, is my answer.
Let us say you are a bank or broker that has bought up a lot of European bank and sovereign bonds from Italy, Spain and Greece for example. You would be very exposed to great losses should those countries or their banks default. You are relying on the politicians forcing their tax payers to bail out you and the other banks you trade with. What if they don’t?
One solution would be to sell as many of those bonds as you could accepting the inevitable losses as being better than a much larger loss if the banks or nations or both, defaulted. The other solution, counter-intuitively, would be to do more business with them. But make sure it is repo lending and derivative trading. Specifically offer the banks in troubled nations CDS insurance on their own bad debts and currency swaps. How would this help?
First, lets keep in mind that the trade in both these types of derivatives did increase by 18% in the first 6 months of 2011 precisely as the Euro crisis has worsened.
If a bank or nation was to default on you as a mere bond holder, you would have to wait in a the queue of creditors to see what you were going to be given back. And some ‘hair cut’ would be likely. But if you had done rather a lot of derivatives trading (CDS insurance and currency swaps are both derivative trades) then you would not have to wait. You would seize all the collateral the bank had pledged to you for repo lending or derivative trading and walk away. Now you will say that if you had done CDS insurance then you might well have to pay back out the money you had seized. Except that possession is nine tenths of the law. While lawyers set about arguing about what you owe, the critical fact is that in the mean time, in the height of the crisis you HAVE the money. JP Morgan allegedly has MF Global money while other people’s lawyers can only argue about it.
This will also be true if you have also rather wisely been on the right side of lots of re-hypothecation deals and repo deals with the collapsed bank. In both cases if the collapsed bank had pledged to you assets for Repo or hypothecation then you get to keep all those assets in the case of the bank going bankrupt. We have the clear proof of this already. As Zerohedge reported some days ago, “HSBC Sues MF Global Over Disputed Ownership Of Physical Gold”. It seems HSBC’s gold may have been hypothecated or re-hypothecated. Someone else, some other bank, has their gold and all they have are lots of lawyers charging them fat fees.
So what we have, courtesy of the change in the bankruptcy laws is the means for banks to loot each other. Simply become a major short term funder via repo or hypothecation or a major counterpary in derivatives deals with the ailing bank and in both cases should the bank you are lending to go bankrupt, you will keep all the assets it pledged to you before any other creditor get a chance.
If I am right then MF Global was the first hint of Plan B in action. The bankruptcy laws allow a mechanism for banks to disembowel each other. The strongest lend to the weaker and loot them when the moment of crisis approaches. The plan allows the biggest banks, those who happen to be burdened with massive holdings of dodgy euro area bonds, to leap out of the bond crisis and instead profit from a bankruptcy which might otherwise have killed them. All that is required is to know the import of the bankruptcy law and do as much repo, hypothecation and derivative trading with the weaker banks as you can. To me, this gives a possible answer to why there has been such a surge in derivatives trading.
If I am right about all this, I think this means that some of the biggest banks, themselves, have already constructed and greatly enlarged a now truly massive trip wired auto-destruct on the banking system. If they have and they have explained any of this to our politicians then it would explain why our governments have been so abjectly willing to bail out any and all of the biggest banks and sacrifice anything else in the process. Any hint of relucatnace and the banks can make veiled reference to the extreme ‘risk’ of systemic ‘panic’ and forced liquidations. None of which is really a panic, since they have engineered it.
Are the banks threatening us? No, no, good lord no! Just pointing out the reality of the state of the system. There just happens to be a gun pointed at our head and the banks just happen to find their finger on the trigger. All they ask is that we do nothing to make them feel that their best interests are served by pulling it. And all we have to do to avoid that is stick to plan A. Simple.
But now I come to the really ugly part.
For the last four years who has been putting money in to the banks? And who has become a massive bond holder in all the banks? We have. First via our national banks and now via the Fed, ECB and various tax payer funded bail out funds. We are the bond holders who would be shafted by the Plan B looting. We would be the people waiting in line for the money the banks would have already made off with.
It is the money we have been putting in to bail out the biggest banks which they have then been using as collateral for offering weaker banks in weaker nations, repo loans or hypothecation. And the money or government bonds the weaker banks are using to pledge as assets and collateral for those loans or in derivative deals with the bigger banks is also from us. We have and are funding both sides of the deal.
The result is that the assets which the big banks would be legally allowed to seize and keep in the event of the failing bank actually going under would be ours.
To give a concrete example. Spain or Greece puts its tax payer money in to one of its insolvent banks.That bank then uses that money to get a short term repo or hypothecated it for loan. Or it uses it to hedge its currency problems via a currency swap or buys CDS insurance on assets it is deeply worried about. If the weak bank then goes down all those assets are seized by the big bank who was lending or was the counter-party to the derivative deals. The tax payer gets zero. And there is no redress. It was legally done. And the money the Big bank would have used to get themselves into this position would be the bail out money we had earlier given to the mega banks. They would have used that money against us – again.
The largest banks, those with the greatest exposure to bank and sovereign bonds from the most indebted euro nations, have the most to gain from doing derivative. repo and hypothecation deals with the troubled euro area banks and nations. The more assets the weak banks and nations have pledged in deals with teh Big banks, the more theBig banks will walk away with in the event of a crash. I suggest this is why, even as this crisis has worsened, the Big banks have been increasing by 18% their trade in derivatives and why Repo and hypothecation is as large or larger than even before the crash.
I am sorry this has been such a long piece but I wanted you to see exactly how I came to this because I hope you can show me how I am wrong. Please do so politely and I will go downstairs and celebrate my stupidity with a cup of tea, before apologizing to you all. I would very much like to be wrong.
But if I am not wrong, then the banks have created a financial Armageddon looting machine. Their Plan B is a mechanism to loot not just the more vulnerable banks in weaker nations, but those nations themselves. And the looting will not take months not even days. It could happen in hours if not minutes. Our leaders would have only a few hours to decide who they would side with: the banks or us. The past four years give me no faith they would chose us.
David Malone is author of the “The Debt Generation“. David has a career spanning nearly twenty years producing and directing documentaries for both the BBC and Channel4. His series Testing God was shortlisted for the Royal Television Society best documentary series and was described by The Times as “moving and startling – as close to poetry as television gets.” For the last three years David has focused considerable attention on the financial system. His BBC documentary High Anxieties- The Mathematics of Chaos, first broadcast in September 2008, was one of the first films to be made about the financial crisis accurately anticipating the problems that were to unfold in the economy. The Debt Generation was published in November 2010.
David Landy, an Irish-Jewish academic and a Palestinian solidarity activist has written a book about Jewish Identity and Jewish dissent in the Diaspora. The book, published on 7th July 2011, was largely ignored by most pro-Palestinian outlets and dissident journals. Almost four months later, Landy’s book was re-launched by JFJFP (Jews for Justice for Palestinians), in the hope, presumably, that it might divert attention from my own The Wandering Who.
Following the JFJFP’s enthusiastic endorsement, I was looking forward to reading Landy’s book, expecting to find, for the first time, some arguments that may counter my own take on Jewish identity politics. But I was disappointed: Landy’s findings only supported my reading of the subject in general, and confirmed my critical take on Jewish anti Zionism in particular.
Like me, Landy, makes a clear distinction between ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and ‘Jewish anti Zionist activism’: “I do not call them (the Jewish anti Zionists) Palestinian solidarity either” (pg. 6). He prefers to refer to his ‘Jewish Diaspora dissident voice’ as ‘Israel-Critical Jews’. Landy has grasped that Jewish dissent is actually more about ‘Jewish liberation’ than about liberating others. It is largely about Jewish secular craving for identity as opposed to any attempt to really change the reality in Palestine: “Few, if any, of my interviewees thought that they were working exclusively for the Palestinians” says Landy and goes on to explain that “This is partly because some participants think they’re protecting the Jewish collectivity from anti Semitism by promoting peace in the Middle East” (pg. 26.)
Such an observation should have alerted Landy to the possibility of something slightly dishonest within the ‘Jewish anti Zionist’ cell. After all, we know that Landy’s ‘Israel-Critical Jews’ completely fail to confront the Jewish Lobby in the UK or the USA. And if that were not enough, they will even join forces with Zionists and hasbara, and are clearly willing to use every possible means to stop others from attempting to expose the lobby and the extent of its political influence.
Despite Landy’s attempt to portray a growing, vibrant Jewish dissent, he is at least honest enough to admit that the Jewish Diaspora is largely supportive of Israel, and that ‘Israel critical Jews’ are still no more than a marginal calling.
But this is more or less where the good news ends, for unfortunately, on every other front Landy’s book is totally lacking in substance. .
For some reason, Landy has completely failed to address the criticism leveled by a rapidly growing number of Palestinian solidarity activists and intellectuals against his protagonists, the ‘Jewish anti Zionists’
In the last few months in the UK, more and more exiled Palestinians and solidarity activists have been kicked out from PSC and other solidarity organisations, thanks to relentless pressure from the so-called ‘Israel Critical Jews’. Francis Clark- -Lowes, former Chair of the National PSC was thrown out of the PSC a few months ago due to demands mounted by the infamous Jewish activist Tony Greenstein. Admired Palestinian poet and writer Nahida Izatt was also cleansed . This time it was no Israeli or a ‘Zionist’ who barred her from her local Palestinian solidarity group – it was a Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist Greg Dropkin who had been harassing her and other intellectuals for years. A similar fate was awaiting Gill Kaffash, an admired London activist, who was asked to resign from being Camden PSC’s Secretary. Sammi Ibrahem, Palestinian activist and radio journalist, originally from Gaza, was Chair of Birmingham PSC – at least he was, until he too was expelled due to Jewish ‘anti’-Zionist pressure.
Landy fails to address the embarrassing fact that here in Britain, there is now a wide awareness of the negative and subversive input of some of his ‘Israel critical Jews’. Through the years, Jewish ‘anti’-Zionist Roland Rance achieved a reputation as a leading figure amongst the notorious ‘Wikipedia Jews’. Rance specialises in vandalising Palestinian Solidarity entries on the free online encyclopedia. Tony Greenstein is famous for repeatedly harassing, smearing and defaming an endless list of both Palestinians and solidarity icons. Naomi Wimborne Idrissi, the leader of J-BIG (Jew Only Boycott Campaign) has been exposed numerous times for running clandestine operations against myself and other pro-Palestinian activists. Earlier, in 2005 I myself exposed the ceaseless activity of JPUK members intent on blocking free and vibrant discourse.
One is entitled to ask: how could Landy, a supposedly impartial academic, possibly fail to address the growing fatigue that so many of us feel towards this bunch of ‘Israel critical Jews’? How did Landy manage to miss the glaringly obvious fact that the subjects of his research are regarded by so many of us as being little more than a bunch of AZZ (anti-Zionist Zionists), people who are on the verge of actually being Israeli sayanim ? Landy’s failure to address the subversive McCarthyite nature of the Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist operation is indeed disappointing – but it is hardly surprising.
Landy spends a lot of time elaborating on the need for an alternative ‘Jewish identity construction’; yet he fails to ask the most crucial question -is such an identity a viable concept?
‘Identity construction’ only becomes meaningful once ‘identification’ comes into play, once one is consciously and practically ‘identifying’ with the ‘constructed identity’, yet such a mental or intellectual process can only carry one away from authenticity or authentic realisation.
Moreover, Jewish anti-Zionism may aspire to ‘universalism’ – but Jewish culture is fundamentally tribal, ethno-centric and, in most cases, racially oriented. It represents categorically, the direct opposite of universalism. So it is not clear how an inherently tribal, political, ethno-centric and exclusive setting can genuinely uphold a universalist standpoint.
Thus, it was inevitable for Zionism to become the voice of world Jewry and a dominant Jewish identity political discourse.
As opposed to the ‘anti Semitic’ early Zionist school of thought, post-1948 Zionism is shaped as a wet dream – it is supremacist; it is tribal; it is expansionist; but most importantly, it is saturated with self-love. Zionism provides the Diaspora Jew with an opportunity to love oneself against all odds. Israeli military and technological power, for instance, can be realised from a Jewish perspective, as a valid verification of chosen-ness and superiority.
Yet, from an identity perspective, anti-Zionism offers the Jew very little, if anything at all. None of the alleged ‘Jewish anti Zionist’ values are in any way truly Jewish. Solidarity with others is certainly not Jewish (Jewish solidarity is based on clannish brotherhood); universalism is far from being Jewish; and peace, harmony and reconciliation are certainly no Jewish inventions.
Landy provides us with some quotes from his ‘critical Jewish’ interviewees. They all speak in the name of ‘Jewish universal values’ and ‘Jewish justice’; and yet, neither Landy nor anyone else ever provides us with a single reference to a text that actually portrays or explicates Jewish secular universal standpoints. Instead, Landy refers to Jewish ‘diasporist identity’. He tries to draw lessons from Jewish Marxist intellectual Isaac Deutscher, who regarded himself as a ‘non-Jewish Jew’. But Deutscher was the complete opposite of Landy’s ‘Israel Critical Jews’: Deutscher had little time for ‘Jewish politics’ joining the Communist Party in Warsaw rather than the ‘Jews only’ Bund whose ‘Yiddishist’ views he so opposed. Unlike Landy’s ‘Israel Critical Jews’ who are largely driven by Jewish self-interests, Deutscher was captivated by, and adhered to a universal thought. He believed in unconditional solidarity with the persecuted. Deutscher didn’t need a secular synagogue, a ‘Jews only’ cell or a Jewish party. He was a successful product of Jewish emancipation, an individualist who shaped his ethical views by means of judgment rather than by adherence to any orchestrated ‘identity’ with a ‘constructed emblem’.
The 2nd Category Jews Vs. Landy’s Israel-Critical Jews’
In The Wandering Who I divide Jews who identify themselves as Jews into three categories:
1. Those that follow Judaism.
2. Those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin
3. Those who put their Jewishness over and above all of their other traits.
I have no doubt that Isaac Deutscher belongs to the 2nd category; while Landy’s ‘Israel critical Jews, who all operate within ‘Jews only’ political cells, fall into the 3rd category. .
Here, I am about to make a most arrogant suggestion. I’d better just come out with it. My guess is that Landy could have done with reading a bit of Atzmon. It would have saved him from many categorical blunders. And it would certainly have made his text more relevant.
Landy has systematically managed to miss the significant contribution of the 2nd category Jews – those who are genuinely interested in universalism and ethical thinking, yet refuse to operate within ‘Jews only’ political and spiritual cells. It is clear that those amongst those ethically driven Jews who express solidarity and empathy with Palestinians, operate as ordinary human beings by stripping themselves of any trace of Jewish exceptionalism and exclusivity. Amongst those Jews you will find some of our leading thinkers and writers such as Lawrence Davidson, Jeff Blankfort, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, and many others.
It is also true that Landy’s ‘Israel Critical Jews’ have produced a rather limited body of intellectual work, if any at all. They certainly write enough about ‘anti Semitism in the movement’; they tell us what is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’ for Palestine, and they spend a lot of time pursuing any activists who don’t fit into their kosher vision of Palestinian solidarity. They, consciously and enthusiastically, use hasbara tactics – smear, defamation and misinformation – and, if necessary, are not averse to joining forces with their Zionist brothers and sisters. But still, they write little, if anything, about their own identity or ideology. They don’t produce any music, poetry, cinema, plays, literature, plastic art or indeed anything that could be seen as a uniquely Jewish cultural contribution, something that could be considered as offering an alternative ‘identity construct’. That Landy has managed to miss this obvious and crucial fact is staggering.
This lack of Jewish anti-Zionist culture is particularly significant when compared to the wide and varied cultural contributions of Israeli and ex-Israeli dissident voices. Laor, Avnery, Weitzman, Yoav Shamir, Gideon Levy, Shahak, Israel Shamir, Tzabar, Beit-Halahmi, Pappe, Abarbanel, Bereshit and many others are at the forefront of the discourse and in the vanguard of the cultural anti-Zionist battle. Unlike Landy’s ‘Israel-Critical Jews’ (noticeably uncreative culturally and lame intellectually) the ‘Israel-critical Israelis’ operate as a fountain of ideas, using their creativity to push forward the Jewish Diaspora identity discourse. .
I suppose Landy has failed because he was just too engaged in sociological jargon and mired in postmodernist clichés without understanding the true uniqueness of his subject matter; i.e. Jewish identity. Philosophical thinking also seems alien to Landy so he is unable to grasp the metaphysical depth of questions connected to identity, identification and authenticity in the context of Jewish culture and ideology.
But most important, Landy fails because he is a politically motivated activist, and his reading of his subject matter is shaped by political considerations and political ‘correctness’ rather than by a desire for genuine truth seeking.
Though the aspiration of this book is promising and challenging, the result is slightly disappointing.
To buy Landy’s Book Jewish Identity & Palestinian Rights on Amazon.co.uk
The Wandering Who-A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics, available on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
 Sayanim – Diaspora Jews who provide assistance to Israel and the Mossad.
 Early Zionism may be viewed as a unique critical moment in Jewish history. It was often defined as a promise to ‘civilise the Diaspora Jew’ by means of re-settlement, labour and productivity.
With this assassination of Osama bin Laden under his belt, President Obama has fulfilled yet another of his campaign promises. It was during the Presidential debates when then Presidential-hopeful Obama solemnly declared: “We will track down Osama bin Laden and kill him.” And it was at that precise moment that my decision was made–I would not be casting my vote for Barrack Obama.
The issue of who initiated the attacks of 911 has deeply polarized the U.S. and it is not the intent of this reporter to dive into that briarpatch at this point in time. Rather, it is the implications of his statement that merit revisiting– that a man who would be President expressed such disdain for our legal system, a system which vehemently protects the accused until he is proven guilty in a court of law. And to add to my growing unease, this Presidential hopeful proudly declared himself to be a Constitutional scholar.
By making that declaration during his bid for the Presidency, Obama was clearly pandering to the deep psychic wound inflicted on the United States by the events of September 11. Obama played a psychological card with his kill-call, a card which revealed an opportunistic mindset which considers Constitutional protections to be irrelevant And I remember wondering, who will he go after next?
It didn’t take long for that question to be answered. In 2010, Obama ordered the targeted assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Muslim cleric. As reported in the UK telegraph at the time, ”officials now argue privately that Americans who side with the country’s enemies are not ultimately “entitled to special protections”…..Dennis Blair, the director of US national intelligence, confirmed that its security agencies had the authority, having obtained specific permission, to kill American citizens if they posed a direct threat to the United States.”
While some argue that these two men, Osama and Al-Awlaki, are “enemy combatants,” it has become clear that the war on terror has redefined the concept of a battlefield. No longer restricted to a physical location, defined by longitude and latitude, where men draw arms and attempt to diminish, if not destroy, an enemy army, the “war on terror” has broadened the concept of the battlefield to include the entire world. In this world wide war, assassination is now an acceptable weapon against a “terrorist”–who is a person who has not been so determined by a bonafide legal proceeding but only through a dictum of a head of State.
In other words, The Red Queen had nothing on Obama. The nemesis of Alice in Wonderland, the mad Red Queen, also cried “Off with her head!”
We can only expect that the “terrorist” designation will expand outward. Indeed, in 2007 Jane Harman sponsored the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which passed in the House but failed in the Senate. Dennis Kucinich called the Act a thought- crime bill, containing language which seemed to promote the identification and detention of U.S. citizens who harbored animus towards the stripping of rights which was the fallout from 911.
This fallout– the destruction of our Constitutional protections– should be a matter of gravest concern. In 2009, the Department of Justicepublished a report concerning the surveillance programs launched by Bush after the events of September 11. The report openly admitted that there were two programs in effect, one targeting “the terrorists.” The report declined to discuss “the other” surveillance program, ostensibly targeting us. The unclassified report, in fact, referred to the “other” surveillance program as classified.
The destruction of our freedoms and our rights has been a heavy price to pay. Many Americans are not aware that these Constitutional protections, largely dismantled after September 11 by the passage of the U.S. Patriot Act and concomitant legislation, were in place to protect us NOT from “terrorists” or “Communists” or other bogey men- of- the- moment, but from intrusion and attack by our own government. We are now more vulnerable, more at risk than any other time in U.S. history to abuse of process and actual abuse by agents of the United States itself.
So now that the big bad wolf is dead, what becomes of this massive surveillance and targeting machinery put into motion following 911? Does it get dismantled? Now that the arch enemy has been hunted down and slaughtered, are we gonna get our rights back?
A few days ago, I published a short piece about a BBC global poll gauging attitudes towards various countries worldwide. In the poll, Israel came pretty much at the bottom. The world seems to dislike the Jewish State, and this is not a big surprise.
The text of the BBC Poll can be found here.
The text is actually far more revealing than I had initially realised.
The following diagram illustrates the popularity and unpopularity of Israel in various countries.
In the last decade Israel and Zionist lobbies have been doing their very best to incite anti-Muslim feelings amongst Europeans. Yet, it seems as if this revolting tactics has backfired. It is actually the Jewish State which European seem to dislike. In France 56% hold negative opinions of Israel and in Britain the figure is 66%.
In spite of the relentless and powerful Jewish lobbies operating in both France and Britain, the people actually see Israel for what it it. They seem to detest the Jewish State in rapidly growing numbers.
But here is the most significant statistic. In spite of the emotional blackmail the Germans have been subjected to for the last sixty years, it is becoming clear that Germany is just about to liberate itself from the Shoa tyranny of collective guilt . In Germany only 15% are positive about Israel. 65% expressed a coldness towards the Jewish state.
It might well be possible that the Germans have grasped by now that the Palestinians are the last victims of the Hitler. It is also possible that German’s regret of their past has eventually matured into a collective humanist insight , and perhaps it might be that they now realise it is the Israelis that are the ‘Nazis of our time.’
As much as Israel’s world popularity is at its very lowest level, the BBC poll reveals that Germany is “the most positively viewed nation, with 62% rating its influence as positive.”
I guess there is a clear message here for Zionists and Israelis: your dirty game is over — Germany and the rest of the world are now officially liberated.
However, I wonder how long it might take for Germany before it gets the stomach to officially strip itself of its guilt, and look at its glorious past with pride, for they are responsbile for some of the world’s greatest symphonies, philosophy, science, poetry and industry.
I wonder, how long will it take for the Germans to look into their history with no fear ?
I guess that it will happen pretty soon.
[Orlando, Florida] – It wasn’t just a hot one in O’Town on the last Sunday of February 2011, because the thermometer registered 83 degrees in the shade at Lake Eola during the first Arab American Cultural Festival, but because of the heat that emanated from voluptuous belly dancers, award winning Debkeh dancers, singers and passionate hip hop poets who energized the crowd of thousands and caused hundreds to dance in celebration of a culture that most of the non-Arab Americans in attendance had never experienced before.
Hip Hop artist, Omar Offendum is also “an MC/Architect hailing from the great nation-state-of-mind known as ‘SyrianamericanA’ where everything is connected and everyone is welcome.”
SyrianamericanA” is also the title of Omar’s first solo CD.
From center stage that was adorned with an American flag draped on top and flanked below with flags from the United Arab Emeritus, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia, and other Arab states, Omar explained that hip hop is the modern incarnation of the blues, jazz, rock and roll, reggae and as over 60% of the population of the Middle East is under 30, Rap has become the music of The Revolution.
Inspired by the power of the people of Egypt that recently rose up, several notable musicians from North America teamed up to release a song of solidarity and empowerment, entitled “#Jan25″ which commemorates the date the Egyptian protests officially began in Egypt, and its prominence as a trending topic on Twitter.
Omar Offendum, appeared on Al Jazeera to explains that this track is a testament to the revolution’s effect on the hearts and minds of today’s youth, as well as all who unite in the spirit of resistance in solidarity for justice for oppressed people:
Omar informed this reporter, “My family is Arab Syrian and I use Hip-Hop as a platform to express opinions of my community to make our struggle relate-able to the average American, as our struggle is the universal struggle for peace and justice.”
Remi Kanazi, is a Palestinian-American poet whose kinetic energy and unabashed poetry of resistance and searing indictments of the military occupation and ethnic cleansing of his homeland awed me.
Remi’s “POETIC INJUSTICE: WRITINGS ON RESISTANCE AND PALESTINE” is a collection of poems and includes a CD, highly praised by Pulitzer Prize winners, award winning journalists, drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Ronnie Kasrils, the former South African Government Minister and anti-apartheid activist.
Remi brought me to tears with “A POEM FOR GAZA” not because I am Palestinian or Arab, but because I grew up comfortable in Greenwich Village and on Long Island, but after my first of seven trips to Palestine beginning in 2005, I have not been able to look away because the injustice made me hot, loud, angry and political.
On September 29, 2009 the Goldstone Report was released and it accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes perpetuated during the 22 days of assault on Gaza when the Israeli military launched Operation Cast Lead; a full-scale attack on Gaza that killed 13 Israelis and 1,400 Palestinians.
Operation Cast Lead also injured over 5,000 Palestinians and 400,000 were left without running water.
Operation Cast Lead destroyed 4,000 homes and rendered tens of thousands homeless because of Israel’s targeted attacks upon them, their schools, hospitals, streets, water wells, sewage system, farms, police stations and UN buildings.
Operation Cast Lead’s, 22 days of attack on the people of Gaza was enabled by US-supplied weapons and we the people of the US who pay taxes provide over $3 billion annually to Israel although Israel has consistently misused U.S. weapons in violation of America’s Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.
America is the worlds largest arms supplier to Israel and under a Bush negotiated deal with Israel-which Obama signed onto during Christmas 2009, we the people who pay taxes in America will now also provide another $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade.
For Operation Cast Lead’s assault on Gaza, “Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault was decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza. 
In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.
“Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.
“Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.
“Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.
“In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren’t in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died.” [Ibid]
During the 22 days of attack on Gaza, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross, and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire, but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called “self defense.”
In November 2006, Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza warned the world:
“Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry…people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope.
“Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles…Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate…Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom.
“Gaza cannot sleep…the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!”
I asked Remi what is the one thing he wants non-Arab American’s to understand and he replied, ”Fundamentally when people come together they can make a difference-not the cliché Barak Obama way-but in the Tunisian, Egyptian, South African and Palestinian way, which is an anti-apartheid struggle.”
On July 5, 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return by which Jews anywhere in the world, have a “right” to immigrate to Israel even if they have no historical ties to the land which is known as Palestine.
Israel’s very statehood was contingent upon upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines Article 13:
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
But ever since the state of Israel was established in 1948, they have denied that inalienable right to the indigenous people.
The following nine categories make up the necessary, sufficient, and defining characteristics of apartheid regimes:
1. Violence: Apartheid is a state of war initiated by a de facto invading ethnic minority, which at least in the short term originates from a non-neighboring locality. In all main instances of apartheid most if not all members of the invading group originate from a different continent. The invading ethnic minority and its self-defined descendants then continue to dominate the indigenous majority by means of their military superiority and by their continuous threats and uses of violence.
2. Repopulation: Apartheid is also a continuation of depopulation and population transfer. One example is seen in the obliteration of the indigenous Bedouins that Israel denies free movement to graze their herds and are silently transferring the Bedouins to new locales, such as atop of garbage dumps.
3. Citizenship: The indigenous people are often denied citizenship in their own country by the apartheid state authorities, which are ironically and irrationally, run and staffed by the recent arrivals to the country.
4. Land: Apartheid entails land confiscation, land redistribution and forced removals, almost without exception to the benefit of the invading ethnic minority. Usually, members of the ethnic majority are forced on to barren and unfertile soils, where they must also try to survive under impoverished and overcrowded conditions.
5. Work: Apartheid displays systematic exploitation of the indigenous class in the production process and different pay or taxation for the same work.
6. Access: There is ethnically differentiated access to employment, food, water, health care, emergency services, clean air, and other needs, including the need for leisure activities, in each case ensuring superior access for the favored ethnic community.
7. Education: There are also different kinds of education offered and forced upon the different ethnic groups.
8. Language: A basic apartheid characteristic is the fact that only very few of the invaders and their descendants ever learn the language(s) of the indigenous victims.
9. Thought: Finally, apartheid contains ideologies or ‘necessary illusions’ in order to convince the privileged minorities that they are inherently superior and the indigenous majorities that they are inherently inferior. Much of apartheid thought is shaped by typical war propaganda. The enemy is dehumanized by both sides’ ideologies, words and other symbols are used to incite or provoke people to violence, but mostly so by the invaders and their descendants. 
Also at the festival at Lake Eola, was Dr. Khaled Diab, whose life was the inspiration for my first book, KEEP HOPE ALIVE
Dr. Diab stated, “For those who say that it is not the right time to have a Festival when so many are dying in the Middle East, I say we celebrate the victories and the bright future that Democracy and Freedom will bring. We pray for the Martyrs who gave their lives to give us better life and future. According a verse from the Quran, ‘Wala tahsabanna allatheena qutiloo fee sabeeli Allahi amwatan bal ahyaon AAinda rabbihim yurzaqoona.’”
Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord -3:169
Dr. Diab continued, “Freedom and Democracy will come to all the Middle East Arab nations no matter how long it takes. I pray and support freedom and democracy similar to what we have and enjoy and not for the false democracies that sponsors Occupation and Dictatorships. I am also very certain that it will come to the Palestinians and they will be free from Occupation. Here is a manifest that is being circulated by the youth of Palestine.”
We call on the governments of the West Bank and Gaza to respond to the legitimate demands of the people:
1 – the release all political detainees in the prisons of the PA and Hamas
2 – the end of all forms of media campaigns against each others
3 – the resignation of the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad to re-build a government of national unity agreed by all Palestinian factions representing the Palestinian people.
4 – the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to contain all the Palestinian factions and get back to its initial aim: Palestine’s freedom
5 – the announcement of the freeze of negotiations until the full compatibility between the various Palestinian factions on a political program
6 – the end of all forms of security coordination with the Zionist enemy
7 – the organization of presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the time chosen by all the factions.
Another manifest by Remi Kanazi – Coexistence
Truly audacious hope was understood by St. Augustine who wrote, “Hope has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are and the second is COURAGE to do something about it.”
And truly audacious hope also makes one hot, loud, angry and political for justice!
2. Paraphrased from pages 71-73, Apartheid Ancient, Past, and Present Systematic and Gross Human Rights Violations in Graeco-Roman Egypt, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine, By Anthony Löwstedt. Page 77.
“Love in the Time of Dinosaurs”
Dinosaurs and insightful writers…or am I being redundant? Well, I’m happy to say reports of their mutual demise have been greatly exaggerated. Case in point: Love in the Time of Dinosaurs by Kirsten Alene.
The Portland, Oregon resident is the author of Chiaroscuro (2009), a poetry chapbook and “several stories and poems currently circulating the worldwide web.” Most recently, she’s penned the above-mentioned Love in the Time of Dinosaurs, a novella from Eraserhead Press, that’s been said to portray “a world filled with complex politics, spirituality, history, and a sense of actual existence in some parallel dimension.”
As I dug into Alene’s novella, I was at the ready for metaphors, allusions, and other buried treasures within the Bizarro context. After just one chapter, I was too busy getting attached to the characters, plot, and pace to analyze. That could wait for the ensuing interview…which went a little something like this:
Mickey Z.: Extinct creatures have returned to wreak havoc using modern weapons. Seemingly pious monks are trapped by long-obsolete paradigms. Limbs and other body parts haphazardly reattached and reanimated with help of magical kung fu. Forbidden love. And so much more. Can you provide a roadmap of sorts through the metaphors and meanings?
Kirsten Alene: All summed up in those words, I would say the only roadmap is that I was very recently a teenager. I will try to say this without being poetic but, to be young is to be at war with the world, isolated, estranged, in conflict internally and externally, and dying all of the time just to be sewn back together again by people you don’t really like. That’s where that could probably came from. When I was writing it I was just thinking that dinosaurs with guns are fucking awesome. The plastic guns were inspired by a character in Cameron Pierce’s Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden who has something like the Midas Touch only he turns things into mannequins.
MZ: It feels to me that you’re still at war – not with the world but with those fucking up the world, those using all kinds of new weapons to create all kinds of new extinctions. Yet at the root of the story is star-crossed love, growing and thriving amidst all the sliced off limbs.
KA: Well…. I’m getting married in eight days, so there had better be some epic romance in there. I’ve been in the love-y mode. Maybe my next book will be less obvious on that front.
MZ: I’ve written: “All you need is love…and a small, well-trained army.” Looks like you might agree?
KA: And some chickens and a goat. And also 2-3 solar panels and a large plot of land. And corn. Other than that – yes.
MZ: Can you walk us through the process that brought you to not only becoming a writer but a writer of Bizarro fiction?
KA: When I was seven (soon after winning a school poetry contest with a touching prose poem entitled “I Opened My Eyes”), I told my grandfather I was going to be a writer when I grew up. He told me that was fine, but that I would need to get a real job. I decided to be an English professor. For practice, I read every book on the Harvard Classics Library bookshelf and preached obnoxiously to my three younger siblings. But despite my classical literature obsessions, I’ve always written weird, disjointed fiction where a lot of people die and get eaten by monsters. I started talking to Cameron Pierce a year ago and he directed me to a free download of Andersen Prunty’s Zerostrata. It was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to write. It made me angry that someone else had written it. I read a bunch of Bizarro really quickly after that and Love in the Time of Dinosaurs erupted out of my brain.
MZ: Was the book’s relatively short length by design?
KA: I felt like it was a story that needed to be told relatively quickly and without any nonsense. (My goal was 20,000 words and it ended up being about 19,000.) I am a huge fan of short novels. There is beauty in brevity.
MZ: Any advice for wanna-be writers?
KA: About writing: write all the time and be published everywhere. Short stories, news articles, poems, horoscopes, it doesn’t matter.
About editors: be gracious and not afraid of compromise. No story is ever complete when the author finishes writing it. Most editors know what they’re talking about, even if you’re 55 and they’re 22.
About books: people have told me over and over, and I have discovered myself that no one can ever do more for your book than you can. Agents, publishers, editors…no one is going to promote your book as well as you.
MZ: William Burroughs once said that artists were the true architects of change. What would you like readers to take away from reading Love in the Time of Dinosaurs? What change might your work inspire?
KA: I think the only thing I (and this book) want to tell people is that they should love one another and themselves. That sounds a bit lame. But it’s the only thing worth telling people. This book doesn’t have a message – but I think every time love sneaks into a conversation or a story and changes someone, it’s a little triumph for people.
Kirsten Alene is also the editor of the webzine Unicorn Knife Fight.
“America Plops and Fizzes”
Some guy named Percy Shelley once said poets were the “unacknowledged legislators of the world.” So, I’m thinking maybe Percy’s been hanging out in Canton, Ohio with Andrew Rihn, author of the inventive new poetry collection, America Plops and Fizzes from sunnyoutside press.
the best things
Rihn’s no Ivory Tower purist or coffeehouse boor. Sure, he’s the got the English degree from Kent State and six chapbooks to his name but as he told me, “My politics are reflected in my writing. Much of my writing deals with working class issues.” Putting his values into practice, Rihn has run creative writing workshops in a domestic violence shelter and currently volunteers reading manuscripts for a non-profit (Reentry Bridge Network) that connects prisoners with the performing arts. (Reentry Bridge Network publishes four books per year of prisoner’s writing.)
are more meaningful
“The concept of ‘responding’ is a central one in my writing and activism,” explains Rihn and the 50 poems in America Plops and Fizzes, to me, read not only as “response” but also as a provocation to respond. Described as deviating to the “edge of formlessness,” Rihn’s latest collection (and the excellent, complementary artwork by David Munson) seems to build a momentum as you read through it—the poems sneaking up on you, gaining steam, daring you to stop and contemplate…and perhaps even take action?
to the sparring
“Being a writer is such a privilege,” says Rihn, “and the ability to respond is just one of the ways to fulfill the responsibility that comes along with it.”
Our conversation went a little something like this…
Mickey Z.: America Plops and Fizzes kinda reminds of the story about when an art writer declared that Jackson Pollock’s paintings lacked a beginning or an end and Pollock replied, “He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.” Did you embrace of “no form” by design or by natural process?
Andrew Rihn: By both, actually. America Plops and Fizzes was written while I was an undergraduate at Kent State, and one of the important tasks for writing instructors is to expose their students to a diversity of forms. Good students are able to learn these forms, but good writers must also I think experience a sense of un-learning, that is, embracing these forms in different ways. I was very conscious of forms like haiku and haibun, as well as less formal styles like aphorisms and contemporary advertising slogans, but the decision to blur and blend was a very natural one.
Having “no form” implies the existence of form, and vice versa. I find that tension fundamental to language, and it is made especially visible in creative writing. Humans seem to have an innate impulse towards language, but the languages we create are of course human systems, and imperfect. They’re terrific because they make our thoughts visible; at the same time, structuring our thoughts imposes limits on them as well. So there’s a regulatory function to any formal structure.
But as David Munson’s artwork in the book illustrates, sometimes that regulation can be a good thing.
MZ: Patti Smith once said the role of the poet was that of a Paul Revere of sorts, e.g. not necessarily about solutions but all about waking up the populace. Any thoughts on that appraisal?
AR: I think that’s a wonderful description! Poetry is a rhetoric: a way of writing and speaking that shapes the way we interact with the world. It’s a way of thinking. In that regard, it’s the opposite of advertising. Good poetry, like good food, is a slow process. It takes time to digest; it gives you strength. But we’re inundated with junk food – empty calories, empty words. Fast food, Twitter updates, celebrity marriages. We’re left, individually and culturally, bloated, weak, and constipated.
MZ: But do you see any chance of us to a more nutritious, poetry-based diet? Perhaps one day, long after industrial civilization has imploded, humans will live a modern version of the clan or village-based life and this would be more conducive to storytelling?
AR: I think a balanced diet should include a bit of poetry, but also some fiction. And non-fiction: histories, biographies, academics, manifestos. I’m not a nutritionist, but I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to limit our diets to just one thing. We need painting, and music, and theatre, too. I don’t know how exactly an arts-based civilization would function, but it would be a welcome change from ours based on property, militarization, and surveillance.
Poems will never be as flippant as the “Twinkie defense,” or pad the profit margins like a marketing campaign. A poem will never have the same impact as a bomb, but I’m pretty comfortable with that.
MZ: If not the impact of a bomb, what then did you have in mind as you compiled America Plops and Fizzes in terms of both choosing poems and the order appear in and potential reader response?
AR: At his sexiest, and most subversive, the poet Pablo Neruda said “I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.” That’s the kind of explosion I am interested in. Of course, Neruda said it in Spanish so most of us in the US need a translator to read his poems. But that’s something I wanted to capture in this book as well: translation, negotiation, reconstruction.
Our memories are always selective – just ask a racist about the cause of the Civil War – but in critically reflecting upon our experiences we can begin to see the spaces where real, potentially radical options existed. What I hope these poems will do is reconstruct, little by little, the reader’s own experience, the way bricks from a torn down wall can be used to build something new.
It is one thing to know where you have been and where you’re heading, and that’s vital, but is something altogether different to look at where you could have been, where you could be going. So it’s that moment of stepping forward, after the book has been read and put down, that I’m most interested in. I want to encourage people to disrupt the paths of least resistance – the political, the social, the personal – and to do so creatively, emphatically, and with love.
MZ: One last thing – since you suggest it in your new book – what is the poet’s equivalent to a sparring partner?
AR: A boxer’s sonnet, maybe. A martial artist in blank verse.