"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto: Her Life and Death in Context

Tariq Ali's analysis of Benazir Bhutto, her clan, and Pakistan's the cut-throat political arena is indispensable for anyone hoping to make any sense out of what occurred yesterday and what the future may hold for the Pakistani people. Ali's essay was published in the London Review of Books back in November and it unburdens you of the need to wade through much of the nonsense you're likely to encounter on this subject elsewhere in the western mainstream media. So as not to delay you any further I'll let Tariq Ali take over from here with, Daughter of the West.

Al Gore and an "Inconvenient Truth"

Generally whenever you see footage of Al Gore lately, his brow is furrowed and lip a'trembl'in in righteous indignation over the issue of global warming and the negative role played in this unfolding tragedy by the US and other industrial societies. As an exercise, I propose that the next time you come across Righteous Al on the tube you think of this.

Fascism A' Creepin'

It's not easy to listen to the conversation of those around me these days. I find myself oddly out of sync with the general themes of these discussions and before long I just drift away. I'm not anti-social and never have been. No, this is something else. My problem is that I have so far been unable to come to grips with the sheer indifference most people have to the profound transformation our republic has undergone under the criminal Bush II regime. Therefore, I cannot bring myself to care about the relative merits of the iPhone, or whether or not the New England Patriots will go undefeated this year. I read that an unfortunate tiger slipped its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and made a lunch out of three unfortunate guests but find myself strangely unmoved.

Can it be that others cope with the reality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Patriot Acts I & II, retroactive immunity for the telecoms and government actors complicit in the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens by a process of cognitive dissonance? If I shop enough, exercise enough, and play enough all the threats to my liberty will vanish. I read somewhere that most Americans loosely fall into one of two categories: cowards or conformists. It stung but I could offer no rational defense. When citizens of a republic fail or refuse their duty to hold their elected officials to account the consequences are never good, as the merest glance at history reveals.

Ray McGovern, a 27 year veteran of the CIA (retired), has noticed an ominous thread in our recent history that can be traced to the dissolution of the German republic in the early 1930's. The dangerous combination of a largely indifferent population and a highly aggressive, reactionary political leadership imbued with a corporatist agenda is a trademark our nation now shares with the doomed German republic.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reflections on the Oprah-Obama Hustle

Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report had a few interesting observations two weeks ago about the Oprah Winfrey/Barack Obama celebrity lovefest that I neglected to post at the time. My error. So, two weeks late but still relevant...please take it away Mr. Dixon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More on Obama

It has been awhile since I've visited the subject of Barack Obama. Now that he's surprised the Clinton camp with his strong showing in Iowa, in fact leading Hillary in polls there, it's time again to take the measure of this man. Many among the Democratic Party faithful cling to the belief that Obama represents the best ideals of their party and is in genuine opposition to the plutocratic Team Bush agenda (itself a mere continuation of policies initiated by Nixon, enhanced by Reagan, and supported by every Democratic administration that followed). Once again the ever relevant Paul Street deconstructs this fantasy in his latest essay, “Obama Speaks”.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Screaming At Shadows

Though it's probably pointless at this point, some people just can't help trying to communicate to the American public how close we are to the brink of genuine disaster.
Edward S. Herman and David Peterson in a recent Znet post had this to say.