Randy Newman’s Best Defense of America

I invite you to listen to this great Randy Newman song again: Just a few Words in Defense of Our Country.

Newman’s satire is so easy going, so fast and loose, so intelligent and so insidious that when you think he’s talking about other people–stupid, vain, greedy, hypocritical other people–little by little you begin to perceive yourself in the picture he has painted.

American Legion Convention 1964

This photograph by Gary Winogrand, taken 44 years ago, seems to me not to have lost any of its powerful meaning. If anything, it’s more relevant today than when it was made. It is, I think, a reminder of lessons that were never learned.

American Legion Convention 1964

Scan courtesy of Masters of Photography

I’d Like You to Meet Lewis Lapham

Louis LaphamI’ve been an unconditional admirer of Lewis Lapham ever since I discovered Harper’s Magazine many years ago. Lapham was the editor of Harper’s for 30 years, from 1976 to 2006. His current title is “editor emeritus,” which is not to say he’s retired. He still writes his regular Notebook feature for Harper’s and he’s embarked on a new history-journal project called Lapham’s Quarterly. The journal’s interest goes beyond its excellent content, for the three media it employs simultaneously: online, print and radio. Not to drag this introduction out, I just want to offer you some of Lapham’s comments on YouTube. There are a couple of hour-long interviews, along with some shorter features. All of them are worth spending your time. Lewis Lapham is a singular American. If there were 100 like him it would be a different country. Continue reading

The American “Freedom” Fraud

freedomAre You in Favor of Freedom? Invade a small country!

United States governments and companies are the greatest promoters of freedom in the world today. They’re unanimously in favor of “freedom,” without ever explaining clearly to the rest of the world (nor to their own citizens) just which freedom it is they’re in favor of, seemingly without ever reflecting upon the the implications of the question themselves.

That is to say:

  • Freedom for whom?
  • Freedom from whom?
  • Freedom for what?
  • Freedom from what?
  • Freedom to live?
  • Freedom to trade one’s freedom for security?
  • Freedom to grab?
  • Freedom to hoard?
  • Who benefits, who suffers?
  • Who manipulates?
  • Who kills in the name of “freedom?” Continue reading

Who Sees What from Where and Why

vision

One of the main assertions of my book, The Turncoat Chronicles, is that there are aspects of American society which can be seen better from abroad than from “under the American bell jar.” What we outsiders can see clearly–while wondering why the Americans themselves have so much trouble discerning the same phenomena– is how the United States interacts both with other countries around the world, as well as with their domestic minorities. From abroad we see cynicism, manipulation, lies, pre-emptive warfare, economic abuses, and torture. Inside of the United States we see a troubled and truculent populace armed to the teeth, the world’s largest prison population, and the loathsome death penalty. I’m sorry. That’s what we see in the media, both domestic and foreign, online and offline, along with the unending attempts by the U.S. establishment to cover it all up or simply deny it. Continue reading

The Ford Foundation and the CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – III/III

Orthrus

American academic, Joan Roelofs, in Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003) argues that Ford and similar foundations play a key role in co-opting opposition movements:

While dissent from ruling class ideas is labeled ‘extremism’ and is isolated, individual dissenters may be welcomed and transformed. Indeed, ruling class hegemony is more durable if it is not rigid and narrow, but is able dynamically to incorporate emergent trends. Roelofs reports that John J. McCloy, while chairman of the Foundation’s board of trustees, ‘…thought of the Foundation as a quasi-extension of the U.S. government. It was his habit, for instance, to drop by the National Security Council (NSC) in Washington every couple of months and casually ask whether there were any overseas projects the NSC would like to see funded.’ Roelofs also charges that the Ford Foundation financed counter-insurgency programs in Indonesia and other countries. Continue reading

Iraq: Who Won the War?

Child flees from Iraq fightingThis article in today’s Independent provides a nice summing up of what the U.S. and Britain have achieved with their war on Iraq.  Authors Raymond Whitaker and Stephen Foley have prepared a thorough and dispassionate report from an independent British point of view. It makes fascinating–and depressing–reading.  At the end of the piece they offer us two lists, one of winners, the other of losers:

  • Winners: Dick Cheney, Iran, Sir John Scarlett, Al-Qa’ida, the Kurds, Tim Spicer
  • Losers: George Bush, the neocons, Tony Blair, the Palestinians, the US media, Afghanistan, British security

If you find that article fascinating, you might also have a look at Lord Owen analyses Tony Blair’s psyche from today’s Times of London, written by Tony Blair’s ex foreign minister, David Owen, and which portrays Blair’s character as profoundly flawed due to his own hubris. It happens that Lord Owen, besides being a lifelong Labour politician, is also a neurologist.