December 23, 2011

Happy Fucking Holidays

The DOJ has rejected a Freedom of Information Act request from the New York Times that asked the agency to reveal the legal basis for the newly unveiled American program of strategic drone-attack assassinations of American citizens off the field of battle.

* The government dropped a bomb on a U.S. citizen,

* who, though a total dick and probably a criminal, may have been engaged only in propaganda,

* which, though despicable, is generally protected by the First Amendment;

* it did so without a trial or even an indictment (that we know of),

* based at least in part on evidence it says it has but won't show anyone,

* and on a legal argument it has apparently made but won't show anyone,

* and the very existence of which it will not confirm or deny;

* although don't worry, because the C.I.A. would never kill an American without having somebody do a memo first;

* and this is the "most transparent administration ever";

* currently run by a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
I'm a bit confused about the calendar. Was 1932 three years ago, or is it next year? Or maybe I'm thinking of 1934.

Well, it doesn't matter. Anyway, you don't care. No, you actually don't. How do I know that? Because in numerous ways, you still support this system. How do you support it? Ah, something to consider over the holidays. I could provide lots of links to previous articles here to help you out, but ... eh. You don't follow them when I do. Phooey to that.

Besides, I'm very sick right now. My major concern is trying to avoid having to call 911. For the third time. I don't want to do that. Three strikes and you're out, and all that. Hey, maybe I'll have a fatal heart attack on Christmas Day! That would be, like, totally cool, man. I could still hang out with you -- as an angel. Seriously, dude! Seventy-seven percent of adult Americans think angels are real! Seventy. Seven. Percent.

I guess this is what it feels like to wake up and find that you're trapped in an asylum for the incurably insane, where the administrators arbitrarily kill inmates now and then, just to pass the time.

So Happy Holidays to me! And to you, natch, and to the angel hovering over there. Look out, that angel's gonna launch another drone! Hahahaha.

God bless us, every fucking one.

December 10, 2011

OMFG! Criminals Commit ... Crimes!!

James B. Stewart is, like, a smart dude. His bio says that he "shared the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 1988, when he was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal." That was, um, twenty-, uh, thirty-, no, well, like a lot of years ago. When they had VHS tapes and mastodons and shit. And no iPhones!! Primitivo, man.

But what a sweet, big-hearted guy. He shared the Pulitzer ("Hey, dudes, I could never have done it on my own!"), for "explanatory reporting." He explains stuff. To the rest of us, who are The Stupids. Here's the rest of his bio. He's a way privileged white dude. I'm, like, totally amazed. Privileged white dudes are the best. They keep telling us that, so I figure it must be true. I mean, they have the most stuff, man. And they make movies. Making movies is da bomb. Ask Jimmy Cameron, an awesomely smart, rich, white dude. Who, like, saves whole worlds. Privileged white dudes make lots of movies, including about funny shit like rape. Really privileged white dudes have a totally unique slant on things. I figure that's because they can do whatever the fuck they want. Like rape women and children. Or destroy whole countries.

Or even, like, create whole countries. That is so awesome, man! Those privileged white motherfuckers set up an entire country just for themselves. They killed all the people who were already there, enslaved a gigantissimo bunch of other people, and made sure only privileged white motherfuckers, who were men (which was, like, totally a coincidence), could run things. And this is true even when the privileged white motherfuckers look like they aren't white. Only supercool, way smart white dudes can think up shit like this. You try it. See? You can't. We're dumb fucks, man. C'mon, it's the truth. The truth will set us free. Free to be poor, dumb fucks.

And Stewart -- I like to call him JamB, which is like a totally cool nickname (doncha love the capital B at the end, cuz it's his middle initial, man -- that is so cool, it is, shut up, man) -- he teaches business journalism. At Columbia! I'm groveling, JamB! You are amazing! And he writes a column for The. Fucking. New. York. Times. His column is called "Common Sense." Isn't that sweet? I think it's sweet. It's like he's saying, "Yeah, I'm like so much better than you that we're not in the same universe. I'm like a kind visitor from another world, like in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Klaatu barada nikto! Do what I say or I'll, like, kill you, man! Hahahaha! Just kidding, dude. I call my column 'Common Sense' so you'll think I'm not really all that special -- it's just common sense, see? You can do it, too. Except you can't. Nope, no sirree, no way, not gonna happen. You need a smart, rich guy like me to explain shit. But we're really all the same. Except we aren't. But if I come across like just another not-special dude, you won't mind so much when I totally fuck you over! Hahahaha! Hey, man, kidding. Like I would ever do that! C'mon, dude, relax."

It's like those people who call themselves "Dr." whatever. Dr. Phil. Dr. Laura. The "Phil" and "Laura" is so you think they're like your best bud, just a pal you hang with. The "Dr." is to remind you that they're "experts." So they're smart and shit, they're authorities, and you should listen to them and do what they say. Then, when they fuck you over, you won't mind so much. See how that works? You don't get to be rich and privileged by being a dumb shit.

So okay, here's JamB's latest "Common Sense" piece, all about Corzine and MF Global. This is how JamB starts:
Are customer accounts at brokerage firms safe?

Until the collapse of MF Global, that’s a question I thought I’d never have to ask.
JamB is, like, stunned. He's totally amazed. The protection of customer assets is "considered a sacred obligation." That's what some privileged dude at the SEC told JamB, and it's what JamB had believed. These are way smart dudes, and they are as innocent as fucking lambs. These innocent lambs are being taught life lessons, man. Life lessons are harsh. The privileged smart dudes are sad.

JamB spells out the life lesson he learned when more than a billion dollars of customer assets at MF Global "had vanished." It's like magic, man! It's here, it's gone. It vanished! JamB says:
How could such a thing happen? I had always assumed it was impossible and that strict internal controls existed at all brokerage firms so that firm officials couldn’t tap segregated customer funds even if they were willing to break the law. Thanks to MF Global, it’s now apparent that isn’t necessarily true. “If people are determined to misuse customer funds, they will misuse them,” said Ananda Radhakrishnan, the director of the division of clearing and risk at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
This is how JamB announces -- in the holy pages of The. Fucking. New. York. Times. -- the discovery of A Great Truth: Criminals commit crimes, like, ah, er, um, stealing.

If we didn't have totally smart privileged white dudes explaining this shit to us, we'd never understand anything, man. Give thanks to JamB! But, but, but there are rulz against bad shit like stealing, man!, sez JamB, crying like a little baby. Besides the fact that those dinosaur-times white motherfuckers stole, like, the whole country in the first place, who does JamB think wrote the rulz? And who enforces them? Or, you know, doesn't? Those are real stumpers, huh? Gee, I wonder who does all that ... oh, yeah, I explained all that just recently. I have to keep explaining it, because I can't remember it, cuz I'm a dumb fuck.

My man JamB does mention a few cool things that I hadn't known about. Like this:
This week, the [Commodities Futures Trading Commission] issued new rules restricting how client assets can be invested, which had grown under C.F.T.C. interpretations to include sovereign debt and transactions known as “in-house repos,” or repurchase agreements, in which a firm contracts with itself to use customer assets as, in effect, interest-free loans to finance its inventory of Treasury bonds. MF Global was apparently a heavy user of in-house repos, and before his firm collapsed, Mr. Corzine had argued strenuously against the C.F.T.C.’s proposal to ban them.
Now that is cool. You make deals with yourself using other people's money. It's, like, total genius. Only supersmart white dudes (or not-white dudes who actually are white dudes, heh-heh, chortle, snicker) can do stuff like that. You can't do it. I can't either. Boo-hoo us.

It's almost like, well, there's no such thing as "law" at all. OMFG!!! Or, maybe, it's like the law depends on who has power. It's legal if we say it is! Oh, yeah, I've been through this before, and before that.

And about Corzine ... well, fuck me. Actually, Corzine sorta fucked everybody, didn't he? Awesome rich white dude move. And like he's ever going to jail. Hahahaha, yeah, right after George W. But Jonny went to D.C. to explain what happened and, like, he's completely stumped! Seriously, he has no idea at all:
How did the customer assets ever leave the segregated accounts to begin with? In testimony on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Mr. Corzine only added to the mystery. He said that transferring customer funds was “a complex process” and, asked who could execute such a transfer, said “I wouldn’t know probably who that person is.”

While Mr. Corzine said he had “no intention” of authorizing any transfer of segregated funds and “didn’t intend to break any rules,” he left open the possibility that someone might have thought he did.
"Hey, Jonny, how come there are like twelve bloody, mutilated, dead bodies in the bed you slept in last night?"

"Gee, well, I dunno. Murdering people is, like, a complex process. I guess, like, somebody murdered them, but I wouldn't know probably who that person is. I didn't want to murder anybody, but I guess, maybe, it's possible someone might have thought I did."

This shit is completely awesum! I can't pull crap like this when I steal a goddamned chocolate chip cookie. And the best part? Corzine will totally get away with it! You think that a bunch of superprivileged fucks are gonna put another superprivileged fuck in jail? And Corzine still has a gabillion fucking dollars. Ain't nobody messing with that.

This is such a fucking great country. Well, not for you or me or most of us, but for these shitheads it's the greatest racket ever invented. It's like the whole country is a legal scheme to make the rich and powerful even more rich and powerful.

Oooooohhhhhh ... man, I am, like, humbled. I never would have thought of that. A whole country ... fuck me. Fuck us.

JamB proves he's a fully deserving member of the Shithead Club in his article. He says the problem is that "the commodities and securities industry is mostly self-regulating, and self-regulation ultimately depends on the integrity of the regulated." So if we stop all this "self-regulating" and come up with some new rules, there won't ever ever be any more stealing or anything unseemly, everyone will be happy and fat, and there will be puppy dogs and kitty cats and rainbows everywhere. I don't know how to break this to you gently, but this is more of the Stuff that Privileged White Fucks Dudes Like.

So, yeah, these lying weasels won't "self-regulate." Instead, we'll turn over all the regulatin' stuff to completely disinterested, selfless agencies of the gummint. Like, you know, robots or something. (Klaatu barada nikto!) Of course, those agencies are run by other members of the Shithead Club, and the rules are devised and implemented by powerful, privileged fu--, uh, people. Must. Appear. Serious. And. Respectable.

Here's a respectable discussion. And an earlier one -- hey, you'll like this one, "It's not the sex. It's never the sex." (See, you go right to that one, cuz it mentions sex. I would, too. Woohoo! And I admit I really like that article. Sex!) And here's a passage I wrote on the eve of the elections in -- 2006. (I was twelve years old when I wrote it. I was. Just be quiet, or I'm telling Jonny C. about you.) That's when, as I'm sure you'll remember, all the liberals and progressives were overcome with joy because soon-to-be-elected Democrats would investigate all the crimes of the Bush mafia, come up with brand new regulations for, like, everything, and ... rainbows!

Or, you know, not:
Ah, but the Democrats will investigate the Bush administration's endless crimes. The investigations will restore honesty, decency and "true" American values to government. All the universes will be saved! Do people actually believe this nonsense? All such investigations will be exactly like all other government investigations of itself. People seem congenitally incapable of grasping that all politicians are now part of the same corrupt system, which aims only to protect itself and its existing prerogatives, as it simultaneously seeks to expand them. (The exceptions in the political class are so few that they don't matter.) In the end, all such investigations and committee hearings will conclude just as the 9/11 investigation concluded (and any other investigation you care to name): some criticisms will be made, general fault will be found but no one in particular will be condemned in terms that might cause distress, and some new guidelines and regulations will be proposed and enacted. Neither party wants to judge the other too harshly or cause irreparable harm: they don't want to, because they count on the same consideration in return. Both parties are happy to accede to this deal, for it is precisely how their system continues on its merry course, guaranteeing their lives of immense comfort and privilege, together with their hold on power. Many of the rest of us, both here and abroad, will be screwed, maimed or dead -- and just when exactly did that concern the governing class?

And then, in a year or two or five, and as on every other similar occasion, inventive ways will be found to circumvent the brand spanking new guidelines and regulations -- and the corruption and dishonesty will continue pretty much as before, via new routes and avenues. It's all a charade, by means of which politicians, the major media, and "serious" commentators (and bloggers) can convince themselves of their own virtue, that this time they really mean it, and that everything will be different now. An interesting question is how many times people can fall for such complete bullshit, and still be regarded as serious, credible or intelligent to any degree at all.

It helps to perpetuate the charade -- one that encompasses every aspect of domestic and foreign policy -- that most people know nothing of history, either our own or that of other countries. It's as if none of it ever happened before. For most of these people, it's as if nothing ever happened before. No wonder they so easily believe that this time will be different. For them, there are no other times at all. Everything is new to them, even and especially their own iniquity.
That is, like, fucking timeless, man.

But, as we all know, governing and shit is a complex process. I guess I could have gotten this whole thing wrong. Maybe this time will be different. It's gonna be beautiful. After all, I'm sure they have the best of intentions. Just so long as they're still the richest and most powerful. Hahahaha. But ...


I was gonna do this in a separate post, but then I realized this is, like, the perfect time. So like I said, I'm a poor dumb fuck. I'm not smart like my buds JamB and Jonny C., who are way more awesome than I could ever be. Thanks to readers' kindnesses, I was able to pay the December rent and a few of my monthly bills. I thank everyone who has donated -- you are truly awesome, in ways JamB, Jonny C. and their friends can't even dream of -- and I especially want to thank the small group of regular donors, who leave me close to speechless with their immense thoughtfulness and generosity (people like K.R., M.B., H.G., W.B. and a few others, who know who they are -- my apologies for not including all of you in this list).

But I still have to pay an electric bill, my internet provider, and ... well, food and stuff. After I've paid for that, I'll be close to totally broke. I mean, except for about a hundred dollars, I'll be totally broke. (Cyrano just looked up. "Does this mean we'll be getting 'food' like Friskies? Do I have to start emailing the ASPCA again???" And Sasha looks crestfallen and deeply troubled. This isn't just about me, you know. And Cyrano needs to go to the vet. "WHAT??" Sweetheart, I'm sure it's nothing serious -- I am pretty sure about that -- but there are a few things that need checking out. "I repeat: WHAT???" Can we talk about it in a few minutes, Cyrano? "Yeah, sure, whatevs.")

And just in time for Christmas. Christmas. I bet Corzine will have a wonderful Christmas. And the fab First Family will be in Hawaii.

Being a poor dumb fuck sucks. Hey, I'm working on several new big essays. One of them is about what I call the problem of "The Omniscient Commentator." Lots of that going around. Some others deal with extensions of my tribalism essays. I'm talking big stuff. Totally new!

Doncha wanna help a poor dumb fuck? At the most beautiful time of year? Have a listen to Leontyne Price singing "O Holy Night." That comes from one of the most beautiful Christmas albums I've ever heard: treat yourself to it. And Cyrano imploringly says: "Keep the Friskies away!" (C'mon, don't sue us. It's just his opinion. Besides, we're judgment-proof.)

My great thanks as always for your wonderful kindness. And let us all say, as Corzine surely does, "Happy Fucking Holidays TO ME!!!"

December 08, 2011

The Face of the Killer Who Is Your President

The killer said:
“Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement,” the president fired back at an impromptu news conference at the White House.

“Or whoever’s left out there,” he added. “Ask them about that.”
Watch the video at the link provided above. It's instructive, particularly Obama's expression when he adds, "Or whoever's left out there." He speaks of murder, yet the words are breezy and casual: this is a murderer so used to killing that he talks of his past and future victims interchangeably, and in terms of approximation. Just "whoever's left out there." He wants to be sure you know he'll order all of them killed in time. His face is expressionless, the eyes dead. This is a man without a soul in any healthy, positive sense. He murders -- and he's proud of it.

More than a million innocent Iraqis were murdered as the result of the United States' criminal war of aggression on that country. Obama has heralded America's "success" in Iraq as "an extraordinary achievement."

The continuing murders in Pakistan and Afghanistan are so numerous and so regular that they barely merit notice for more than a few days, at least as far as the United States government and most Americans are concerned. Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, the United States government murdered at least 25 Pakistanis. (NATO and the U.S. government are indistinguishable in any matter of importance, in any matter of murders of this kind.) Pakistan is deeply angry and unhappy. The United States government and Obama are concerned only to the extent that Pakistan's unhappiness might interfere with the U.S.'s intention to dominate and control that part of the world. The U.S. government and Obama aren't particularly upset about the murders, but about the strategic problem that might result from the murders.

On the same weekend: "Six children were among seven civilians killed in a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Thursday." The story has already fallen into the well of forgetfulness. It must be the case that incidents like this occur at least once a day given the number of military operations ordered by the Murderer-in-Chief and carried out by those who follow his orders. Perhaps only one innocent person is killed. "Only" one. Perhaps we should ask "whoever's left out there" what that one loss signifies.

Earlier in November, there was this story:
Last Friday, I met a boy, just before he was assassinated by the CIA. Tariq Aziz was 16, a quiet young man from North Waziristan, who, like most teenagers, enjoyed soccer. Seventy-two hours later, a Hellfire missile is believed to have killed him as he was travelling in a car to meet his aunt in Miran Shah, to take her home after her wedding. Killed with him was his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan.

Over 2,300 people in Pakistan have been killed by such missiles carried by drone aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper, and launched by remote control from Langley, Virginia. Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed in this way to 175, according to statistics maintained by the organisation I work for, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.


Unless the CIA can prove that Tariq Aziz posed an imminent threat (as the White House's legal advice stipulates a targeted killing must in order for an attack to be carried out), or that he was a key planner in a war against the US or Pakistan, the killing of this 16 year old was murder, and any jury should convict the CIA accordingly.
These are only a few of the stories we know about, and only from a very brief period of time. Countless other murders take place all over the world, and we can only gather the dim outlines of what is occurring. This is not to mention numerous lesser acts of cruelty and violence, many of which will alter lives in searing ways, for all the desolate years to follow.

Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that 70 times and you're done... for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world's countries.


Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command [SOCOM] spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. "We do a lot of traveling -- a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq," he said recently. This global presence -- in about 60% of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged -- provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.


In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once "special" for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura.
No minimally decent human being would choose to have anything whatsoever to do with a government which systematically engages in acts of this kind. This is true of anyone who is part of the national governing apparatus, or wishes to be. It is most especially true of anyone who wishes to become president. Even if a person declares his or her absolute commitment to ending all of this, it is impossible for one person to do it. The massive bureaucracy of death which carries out these acts was erected over decades; all such bureaucratic monstrosities take on lives of their own. It will not be dismantled by a single individual overnight, or even in a matter of months or probably years. That means the murders will go on.

It may be that at some point this machinery of death will be brought down comparatively quickly. If that happens, it will not be the result of one person's actions, but of calamitous events on a momentous scale: widening war, catastrophic natural disasters, widespread financial collapse, and/or massive social unrest and violence. In the meantime, a reverence for life demands that we see the Death State exactly for what it is -- and walk away to the fullest extent we can.

That is not the course Barack Obama chose. He wanted to be, he now is the Murderer-in-Chief. He is proud of his achievement.

Thus, the words I wrote over five years ago continue to hold a relevance and meaning that fill me with the deepest despair. I desperately wish that I had never had cause to compose this passage, and that I did not feel compelled to repeat it now:
If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer -- a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed -- can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer.

The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means -- and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a "success."


We can appeal all we want to "American exceptionalism," but any "exceptionalism" that remains ours is that of a mass murderer without a soul, and without a conscience. ... It is useless to appeal to any "American" sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong.

December 07, 2011

A Solemn Day

Ah, yes, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Verily, a day of punishing, religious genuflection on the stony ground of national myth-making. Innocent, noble America, sneakily attacked without notice or warning by vicious "little yellow bastards." The phrase is from Time magazine. That was mild. Admiral William "Bull" Halsey declared, "The only good Jap is a Jap who's been dead six months." And:
Everyone from journalists to President Roosevelt routinely used the dehumanizing slang term "Jap," and regularly compared Japanese soldiers and civilians to monkeys, baboons, and gorillas. Admiral Halsey was especially fond of the monkey metaphor, invariably attaching "yellow" to it. At one point Halsey said he could hardly wait to put to sea "to get some more monkey meat."
The sainted FDR. Such a darling man. Many of the New Dealers were sweethearts of like kind:
New Dealers and others around the president made no attempt to alter this dehumanizing war against the Japanese. In September 1942, Admiral William Leahy, Roosevelt's White House chief of staff, told Vice President Henry Wallace that Japan was "our Carthage" and "we should go ahead and destroy her utterly." Wallace noted this sentiment without objection in his diary. Elliott Roosevelt, the president's son, told Wallace some months later that he thought Americans should kill "about half the Japanese civilian population." New Dealer Paul McNutt, chairman of the War Manpower Commission, went him one better, recommending "the extermination of the Japanese in toto."
Well, the United States did her best to kill as many of them as possible, even when surrender was at hand. There's that American know-how and determination! The above excerpts are from Thomas Fleming's The New Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II. More excerpts will be found in this post from the time dinosaurs walked the earth.

And let us not forget that the sainted FDR was generously encompassing in his hatreds:
An American cannot read these two books without total revulsion at the reaction of his own government to Hitler's policies against the Jews. Both authors detail the methods by which American politicians and bureaucrats, while maintaining an appearance of great humanitarianism, used immigration policies to prevent Germany's Jews from escaping to the United States. Morse writes:

"In 1938 the Nazis burned every synagogue in the nation, shattered the windows of every Jewish establishment, hauled twenty-five thousand innocent people to concentration camps, and forced the Jews to pay 1,000,000,000 marks for the damage.

"Five days later, at a White House press conference, a reporter asked the President 'Would you recommend a relaxation of our immigration restrictions so that the Jewish refugees could be received in this country?'

"'This is not in contemplation,' replied the President. 'We have the quota system.'

"The United States not only insisted upon its immigration law throughout the Nazi era, but administered it with severity and callousness. In spite of unprecedented circumstances, the law was constricted so that even its narrow quotas were not met. The lamp remained lifted beside the golden door, but the flame had been extinguished and the door was padlocked."
To return to the high holy day commemorating the spectacle of good, virtuous, open-hearted America set upon by a gang of sallow, murderous monkeys: the seriousness of the required obeisances is underscored by the apex of observance in America -- a television special on the History channel, and reviewed in The New York Times. In light of the above, it is hardly a surprise to read: "More ignominiously, in that first day [after the attack] the president also set in motion the detention of Japanese-Americans." The man was a goddamned saint.

Hell, I'm sorry. This isn't the history we're supposed to remember, especially today. Time for a song! What a jaunty little tune. Fun times. You can read about some of the popular music written in response to the Pearl Harbor attack here, and learn about charming numbers like "We're Going to Find a Fellow Who Is Yellow and Beat Him Red, White and Blue."

Another fun musical fact: one of the most popular songs of World War II was "I'll Be Seeing You." Guess where the melody came from. Go on, take a wild stab at it.

Give up? The melody was lifted virtually unchanged from the last movement of Mahler's Third Symphony. Don't take my word for it (or Deryck Cooke's): listen for yourself. "I'll Be Seeing You" begins at 1:16. If you want to be transported to a wonderful place, set aside half an hour and listen to the entire movement. The notes appended to the Youtube entry include this: "Of the great finale, Bruno Walter wrote, 'In the last movement, words are stilled—for what language can utter heavenly love more powerfully and forcefully than music itself?'" It's one of my favorite pieces of music in all the world, and I intend to write about it at greater length one of these days. (In the meantime, I recommend this performance of the Mahler Third. It's sublime. The Youtube post is Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic. I love sinking into a leisurely reading of Mahler as much as anyone -- well, anyone except Bernstein when he entered his somewhat solipsistic, self-indulgent period. Bernstein's performance is often too slow, so that the music loses direction and force, and sometimes even musical coherence. Abbado's reading is stunningly right in every respect, at least to my ears.)

To return to the blasted heath of our Day of Remembrance: to talk of a perfidious "sneak" attack disregards the mountain of historical evidence that FDR and his henchmen desperately longed for an attack as the required means of propelling a reluctant, even resistant American public into the conflict. Many Americans still had raw, bleeding memories of the First World War, that devastating, entirely unnecessary crusade which had been promised to be the end of war. It should also be remembered, as I have noted before, that the sainted, progressive Woodrow Wilson had only dragged an even more resistant American public into the earlier conflagration by relying in significant part on a vicious, comprehensive, anti-German propaganda campaign that was never even approached by the vilified Bush-Cheney gangsters of recent years (as loathsome as they were, and as I have said on numerous occasions).

FDR and his fellow hoodlums not only longed for an attack: they did everything within their power to provoke one. Robert Higgs explains:
In June 1940, Henry L. Stimson, who had been secretary of war under Taft and secretary of state under Hoover, became secretary of war again. Stimson was a lion of the Anglophile, northeastern upper crust and no friend of the Japanese. In support of the so-called Open Door Policy for China, Stimson favored the use of economic sanctions to obstruct Japan's advance in Asia. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes vigorously endorsed this policy. Roosevelt hoped that such sanctions would goad the Japanese into making a rash mistake by launching a war against the United States, which would bring in Germany because Japan and Germany were allied.

Accordingly, the Roosevelt administration, while curtly dismissing Japanese diplomatic overtures to harmonize relations, imposed a series of increasingly stringent economic sanctions on Japan. In 1939 the United States terminated the 1911 commercial treaty with Japan. "On July 2, 1940, Roosevelt signed the Export Control Act, authorizing the President to license or prohibit the export of essential defense materials." Under this authority, "[o]n July 31, exports of aviation motor fuels and lubricants and No. 1 heavy melting iron and steel scrap were restricted." Next, in a move aimed at Japan, Roosevelt slapped an embargo, effective October 16, "on all exports of scrap iron and steel to destinations other than Britain and the nations of the Western Hemisphere." Finally, on July 26, 1941, Roosevelt "froze Japanese assets in the United States, thus bringing commercial relations between the nations to an effective end. One week later Roosevelt embargoed the export of such grades of oil as still were in commercial flow to Japan."[2] The British and the Dutch followed suit, embargoing exports to Japan from their colonies in southeast Asia.

Roosevelt and his subordinates knew they were putting Japan in an untenable position and that the Japanese government might well try to escape the stranglehold by going to war. Having broken the Japanese diplomatic code, the Americans knew, among many other things, what Foreign Minister Teijiro Toyoda had communicated to Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura on July 31: "Commercial and economic relations between Japan and third countries, led by England and the United States, are gradually becoming so horribly strained that we cannot endure it much longer. Consequently, our Empire, to save its very life, must take measures to secure the raw materials of the South Seas."[3]

Because American cryptographers had also broken the Japanese naval code, the leaders in Washington knew as well that Japan's "measures" would include an attack on Pearl Harbor.[4] Yet they withheld this critical information from the commanders in Hawaii, who might have headed off the attack or prepared themselves to defend against it. That Roosevelt and his chieftains did not ring the tocsin makes perfect sense: after all, the impending attack constituted precisely what they had been seeking for a long time. As Stimson confided to his diary after a meeting of the war cabinet on November 25, "The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves."[5] After the attack, Stimson confessed that "my first feeling was of relief ... that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people."
I realize it's almost impossible to believe that so many saints have led the pure and virtuous American State.

I suppose that's more than enough of history that almost no one remembers, and that almost no one ever acknowledges. And after all, we wouldn't want to interfere with the devotional ceremonies that so many find so fulfilling. As with God, worship of the mythology of the American State requires only unquestioning faith and unthinking obedience.

And most Americans are only too eager to comply, offering their minds, souls and bodies on the blood-altar of power and death.

December 02, 2011

"The opera is your life. Your life is the opera."

Alex Ross:
As promised, Philip Glass spoke to an Occupy Wall Street demonstration at Lincoln Center tonight, after a performance of Satyagraha at the Met. The protest, which was directed not at the opera itself but at a certain disparity between its lofty moral message and the machinery of corporate arts funding, got under way during the third act; police cleared everyone from the plaza, loitering music critics included (I had gone to the Mahler Tenth at the New York Philharmonic), and so the crowd assembled on the sidewalk at the foot of the steps. When the Satyagraha listeners emerged from the Met, police directed them to leave via side exits, but protesters began encouraging them to disregard the police, walk down the steps, and listen to Glass speak. Hesitantly at first, then in a wave, they did so. The composer proceeded to recite the closing lines of Satyagraha, which come from the Bhagavad-Gita (after 3:00 in the video above): "When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again."
Be sure to watch the video at the link.