Friday, October 29, 2010


Come tuesday we'll see if Georgians have shaken off the long-enduring custom of voting against their own interests. I throw out this post/drawing as a desperate act, like calling upon the Gods to intercede or sticking a pin in a voodoo doll. I want to believe it is only a fringe group susceptible to the hysterical rantings of highly paid hucksters, clever and diabolical, or merely emotionally disturbed recruits in the class war (which they deny exists except when some naive soul asks for justice and fairness). Then I note that Fox News has a lion's share of the ratings and I reacquaint with the meaning of REACTION.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lesser of Two

I find it discouraging sometimes, the choices we are presented with at the ballot box. A parliamentary system would allow one to vote their real choice and, since it is not winner take all as here, your choice, green party for example, would be represented to the degree that it got votes. North Carolina, i'm told, is instituting an instant run-off system which is a really good idea: you vote first and second choices and if your first choice doesn't win and there's no clear winner your second choice is counted... opens up the process - tho i've heard the e-voting machines don't know how to handle this so we'll see what happens. On the presidential and senatorial level we tend to get two corporate-approved candidates, one they are enthusiastic about, one they'll settle for so for corporations it's pretty much win-win and for us it's lesser of two evils. Worth the effort though since the difference between candidates can be significant in some areas and thus create or reduce real suffering and damage vis a vis peace, justice and ecology. BTW, the system as it works now allows corporate funding of campaigns (with a vengeance given the recent Supreme Court ruling) so as Molly Ivins said, "You dance with who brung ya." If it's the public who finances your campaign maybe you'll dance with them (us) instead of corporations.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juggling Priorities

These drawings are part of my current activism, desperately trying to insert some sort of influence on the up-coming Georgia election, especially the governor's race. Odds are way against the Democrat despite what should be advantages... as across the country, the right-wing hysteria is warping the electorate. It shouldn't even be close. Of course the media, contrary to what the right claims, is center-right to hysterical right. When 1,000 people protest a mosque in NY it's major coverage but I remember a million people marching against the Iraq war in NY and millions in Rome, Paris, Germany, England, with very little coverage in the mainstream. Of course the peace movement didn't have a major network promoting its agenda, flagrantly lying and smearing the excluded opposition. Just as the U.S. attacks any nation that attempts an alternative to capitalism, U.S. media support the status quo and ignore or attack anything else. I'm tempted to describe the Tea Party folks as storm troopers defending the patriarchy (the white patriarchy), mostly unconscious, just reacting. Doesn't sound too far off for the mainstream either.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Legacy of Ashes, The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner, A Review

I did this drawing in grad school, 1975. Somethings never change.

The fact that the author of a book about the CIA writes for the New York Times raises skepticism in some quarters, the ones where I live for example… confirmed in the writer’s ambivalence about CIA’s mission and in his failure to highlight the Bush/Cheney role in having intelligence fabricated and tailored to suit their intention to attack Iraq, blaming instead the agency itself, and in his acceptance of “U.S. interests”, security “needs” and “enemies”. The “need” for intelligence on and operations against other countries is never questioned and the idea of conducting straight-forward, transparent relations with other nations seems never to occur to the writer. He accepts the use of the word “we” as if it refers to the people rather than a ruling elite. Despite these misgivings Weiner exposes many unsavory CIA projects. A few highlights featuring both morally ugly practices and incompetence:

CIA used gangsters in France and Italy, post-world war II., to disrupt unions - not terrorists, not criminals but UNIONS! Political parties not favored by the U.S. were disrupted with various sabotage and dirty tricks and those favored (right wing of course) were supported with bribes and other funding.

CIA lavishly funded the Gehlan Group, (Gehlan was Hitler’s chief of military intelligence). The group of former SS eventually became West Germany’s intelligence agency. Gehlan’s counter intelligence chief turned out to be a Soviet mole, accounting for the failure of almost all CIA operations in post-war Eastern Europe. These operations included dropping what can only be called terrorists into Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe. The mole insured that nearly all of these infiltrators were either killed or used to feed disinformation back into the west. Imagine the response if the Soviet Union had been air-dropping saboteurs and terrorists into the U.S.

CIA Chief of Counter Intelligence James Angleton, a serious alcoholic, was responsible for protecting against double-agents. He coordinated closely with high-ranking British Intelligence officer Kim Philby, also a serious alcoholic and long-time Soviet spy.

CIA spent millions, at a time when a million was a chunk, buying fabricated and useless information from imaginative con-artists in Europe and Asia. Very few CIA officers spoke the language or had studied the culture of the countries they worked in.

CIA overthrew a democratically elected parliamentary system in Iran (1954), installing the Shah and his secret police and torture chambers. A similar operation took place the same year in Guatemala, and the agency was complicit in democracy-undermining coups in Indonesia (1965), Brazil (1963), Chile (1973) and supported death squad governments in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba (before Castro)… a long list continuing today in Columbia, Honduras and an aborted coup in Venezuela.

CIA Phoenix Program: an operation in Vietnam where bounties were paid on human beings; paid informers created lists of suspected communist sympathizers - a minimum of 20,000 Vietnamese were tortured, killed or assassinated.

CIA assassination stories were leaking during congressional investigations in 1975 so President Gerald Ford called a meeting of the editors and publisher of the NY Times to explain that public discussions of CIA history would ruin the reputations of every president since Truman and not serve the “national interest”. This makes sense only if you consider it in the “national interest” of a democracy to keep the people (voters) in the dark about criminal activities of its government.

CIA torture and rendition-for-torture in Iraq and Afghanistan (on-going) with the prohibition against spying on U.S. citizens lifted (not for the first time).

The ideologues in the agency and their supporters/enablers in Congress and the media, seemed never to be troubled by the gross contradictions between U.S. rhetoric around “freedom and democracy” and the consistent siding with undemocratic regimes and forces throughout their history. This apparent puzzle evaporates once one realizes that, to them, the “enemy” is not brutality, dictatorship, tyranny but the appearance of any organized alternative to capitalism. Apparently insecure in their belief that free people would or should always choose “the market” over any alternative economic system, any alternative “threat” must be smashed. Though they were unable to completely stem the tide in Western Europe they did limit the “damage” and were wildly successful in many other parts of the world. State opposition to U.S. workers organizing in the early twentieth century, where National Guard and police were assigned to take the side of owners against workers, is an insightful domestic parallel revealing the actual values behind the rhetoric of what Chomsky calls the servants of power.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Fair Deal

The governor’s race is not looking good for the people of Georgia, who have been known to vote against their own interests. Republican Nathan Deal, a retired representative, some say just ahead of an ethics probe, despite this and other questionable financial revelations is leading former democratic governor Roy Barnes in polls. The discouraging thing for progressives, as usual, is that the democrat, though measurably superior to the republican in terms of trust, honesty and ideology, still is a long way from questioning corporate rule. He, understandably – this is Georgia - felt compelled, on veterans day, to praise our troops for “fighting for freedom” when anyone who knows a little history can see the absurdity of that claim. Most Georgia politicians live in a climate where, regardless of their own view, they must deny or avoid the subject of climate change. Right wing media have a firm grip here – a psychological history might help understand this phenomenon but it’s not likely to be funded by Coca Cola.