María Corina Machado, the patriotic…Panamanian?

machado-bush

The other day, I saw that a certain right-wing Venezuelan parliamentarian, legendary for whining to anyone who will listen (including the Shrub, above) about how her country’s been ruined, had spoken to the OAS using Panama’s seat. At the time I wondered how that could be — and why was that even allowed? She wasn’t allowed to kvetch about Venezuela, so that much was good. But what the hell was she doing there when she had a parliamentary seat back home to occupy? Why was she neglecting her own duties?

Well, mystery solved:

The president of the Venezuelan national assembly, Diosdado Cabello, informed on Monday that María Corina Machado had quit being a deputy of the Republic upon accepting and exercising her duty as alternative representative of the government of Panama before the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington.

Cabello pointed out that the right-wing spokeswoman violated Article 191 of the Venezuelan constitution, which states: “Deputies of the National Assembly may not accept or exercise public charges without losing their investiture, except in cases of docent, academic, accidental or assistant activities, always without exclusive dedication.”

“Being there (in the OAS), Ms. María Machado made declarations, actions, petitions, as a funcionary of the Panamanian government. That is public, notorious and communicational, when she acted she was accepting any duty the Panamanian government gave her,” said the president of the Venezuelan parliament, who also read out Panama’s communiqué to the OAS, in which Machado’s accreditation was solicited “as an alternate representative of the delegation of the Republic of Panama before the OAS, as of this date (March 20, 2014).”

Cabello said that this was not an accidental nomination, not for one day but “as of this date”, and Machado currently occupies a seat as alternate representative of Panama before the OAS.

Machado also violated Article 149 of the Venezuelan constitution, which states: “Public functionaries may not accept charges, honors or recompense from foreign governments without the authorization of the National Assembly.”

“That would be a violation of Article 149, because being a public functionary, she accepted a charge from a foreign government without the authorization of the National Assembly,” Cabello pointed out, referring to Machado’s nomination to the OAS, where she expressed her support for violent actions perpetrated inn certain sectors of the country from February 12 onward, on the part of shock-groups of the Venezuelan right, which have caused the deaths of more than 30 persons, as well as much damage and destruction, with the objective of unseating the government of President Nicolás Maduro, elected by the majority of the people.

The right-wing spokeswoman, the National Assembly president pointed out, represents “a government hostile to the government and people of Venezuela”.

On March 5, the Venezuelan government decided to suspend political, diplomatic and economic relations with Panama, following the interference of the government of Ricardo Martinelli in Venezuela’s internal affairs, and having promoted sanctions against Venezuela at the OAS.

Cabello recounted that last week, the Attorney General of Venezuela had received proofs in order to initiate an investigation and trial against Machado, on presumption of involvement in crimes against the independence and security of the nation, calls to violence, instigation to crimes, terrorism, violations of the Constitution, and treason, with the objective of promoting a coup d’état and foreign intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

With the objective of rescinding her parliamentary immunity, the president of the National Assembly, along with the socialist bloc, presented the Attorney General with documents which give evidence of the alleged ties of Machado to the events in question.

On Monday, the deputy stated that now there was no need to strip Machado of parliamentary immunity, “because according to Article 191, according to this nomination (on the part of Panama), and according to her own actions and behavior, Ms. Machado has ceased to be a [Venezuelan] deputy.”

Cabello said that the opposition spokeswoman had the right to express herself and associate as she liked, but not to violate the national consitution.

He added that the now ex-deputy, who had signed the Carmona Decree which derogated all the powers of the Republic on April 12, 2002, will no longer have access to the Parliament, and her seat will be occupied by a replacement deputy, with all attributions according to law.

“What does it mean that she is not a deputy? That she doesn’t have parliamentary immunity, she doesn’t have access to the National Assembly (as would any deputy), she can be directly investigated for all the things that have been taking place, and to that can be added, with more force — high treason,” stated Cabello.

Last Friday, at OAS headquarters, María Corina Machado received the rejection of the hemispheric organization, which decided not to make public her speech in the Ordinary Session of the Permanent Council.

In a customary debate over OAS meetings, Nicaragua proposed to hold a closed-door meeting, a proposal which received the support of 22 ambassadors of the member states, while 11 voted against and one abstained.

Following the vote, the Brazilian representative, Breno Dias da Costa, who voted in favor of the closed-door session, stated that this decision was not to “impede a dialogue, but to prevent a ‘show’ for an outside audience.”

Translation mine.

So, there you have it. MariCori wasn’t fired; she quit. She thought she was going to get a greater international platform for her crapaganda. But this move is gonna backfire on her, because the name of Martinelli and his government, just like that of her “democratic unity table” back home, is MUD.

Actually, it’s backfired already, as the rejection of the OAS ambassadors has clearly shown. Rather than let MariCori have an open bully pulpit, they moved to a closed-door session. And while she wasn’t shut out, she was forced to shut up about Venezuela, at least…a country in whose parliament, as of her appearance at the OAS in Panama’s seat, she is now persona non grata. Ha, ha.

Compare and Contrast: Bradley Manning vs. Dubya

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Here, have my earworm.

This has been in my head all day, for reasons understandable if you’ve been reading me lately. Now, let it infiltrate YOUR head:

Oh, you want lyrics too? All righty then:

Working Latin America

The Yankee is afraid that you’ll rise up,
Working Latin America,
I don’t know, why don’t you do it?
The Yankee is afraid of the Revolution,
The Yankee fears the call:
Yankee go home!
Yankee go home…

And rising up over the Amazon,
Comes the rebel cry of the Carioca*,
And comes to unite with his brother,
The Venezuelan worker…

Working Latin America,
Working Latin America,
Latin America…

Lift up in your hands the flag of the Revolution
Working Latin America,
and shout, forcefully:
Yankee go home!
Yankee go home!
Yankee go home!

“Gringo, go home.
The workers of Latin America are telling you:
Gringo, go home!
Yankee go home!”

Lift up in your hands the flag of the Revolution
Working Latin America,
and shout, forcefully:
Yankee go home!
Yankee go home!
Yankee go home!

Translation mine.

*A Carioca is a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since the Brazilian Amazon region borders on Venezuela’s own Amazonas state, there is a geographic connection between the two lands. Alí Primera is making the case for unity between the workers of these two and all other Latin American countries, as well. And I like to think he’d smile if he saw how Chavecito’s election paved the way for Brazil’s Lula and Dilma, who are from the Workers’ Party, and both strong allies of Venezuela…and its workers.

Iraq, ten years later: Rumsfeld edition

I don’t know if Rummy tweeted this himself, or if he had a flunkie do it for him. But I rather hope he did it himself, just to see the outpouring of, er, AFFECTION that followed:

rummy-10-yrs-later

The Petraeus scandal widens

Meet another possible participant in the Petraeus affair…one whose strange behavior came to light in the course of the FBI’s investigation into some other strange behavior:

US general John Allen, chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, is being investigated for sending “inappropriate” e-mails to Jill Kelley, the same woman who received threatening messages from Paula Broadwell, the alleged mistress of ex-CIA chief David Petraeus, according to sources at the Pentagon.

This revelation comes a few hours after FBI agents searched Broadwell’s home. Petraeus had to step down due to his extramarital affair. Now the Petraeus scandal has touched the man who was to be chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, who was found in the course of the investigation to have exchanged numerous e-mails with Jill Kelley, described as a family friend of Petraeus.

General John Allen, 58, was assigned to the supreme command of the allied forces in Afghanistan starting next spring. Allen was to appear at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, but the White House has suspended his nomination.

The investigation has been confirmed by the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who announced early Tuesday morning on board a flight to Perth, Australia, that he ordered the investigation of the US’s troops in Afghanistan, and that the inspector general of the Pentagon was going through some 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them e-mails, according to the New York Times.

Panetta read a communication to the journalists who were also travelling with him to the Australia-US summit, stating that he had been informed by the FBI on Sunday of the investigations surrounding the general and his relations with the woman said to be a victim of cyber-stalking by General Petraeus’s biographer-mistress.

Asked by reporters whether the FBI had decided upon a criminal investigation, the defence secretary said that “that will be up to the FBI to decide”, although he didn’t rule out a possible connection to the Petraeus scandal.

Panetta said that the general, who, like Jill Kelley, is married, denied having behaved inappropriately, and added that he “deserves due process”, also emphasizing his successful leadership in the Afghan war.

Meanwhile, at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, a group of FBI agents entered the home of Paula Broadwell in Charlotte, North Carolina. They inspected the home over the course of two hours, then left the premises without recording any of what had transpired during the search.

The scandal blew open when the FBI began to investigate some menacing e-mails allegedly sent by Broadwell to Jill Kelley, a Washington socialite and family friend of Petraeus.

Kelley and her husband, Scott, sent out a press release stating that they have been friends of the Petraeus family for the past five years, and asking that their privacy be respected. Sources of CNN described Kelley as an “innocent victim”. After the scandal broke, Petraeus was forced on Friday to go before the media to acknowledge that he had had a love affair with Broadwell, a 40-year old “journalist” who had written his biography, and to tender his resignation.

Translation mine.

Suddenly, we have a pretty good idea of why Jill Kelley lawyered up with a very high-powered attorney yesterday. I guess this answers Gawker’s question! If Jill Kelley has been carrying on with a general — not Petraeus, but another commander in the Afghan war, this one much more recent, and tapped to head the entire NATO mission come next spring — it would explain a lot. There is a lot more at stake here than just some titillating extramarital hanky-panky; we are now looking at more than one possible very high-level national security breach. At the very least, this means two generals will be under investigation, and an exhaustive search of their e-mail correspondence, both personal and professional, is in order. Might as well inspect them all, say I…and do a radical rethink of why the CIA and the US military have so much power to begin with, while you’re at it. All this military hagiography is surely NOT good for the country.

Now, the only thing I still wonder is who was the FBI agent who sent shirtless pics of himself to the glamorous Mrs. Kelley, who looks like she could be a cousin of the Kardashians (albeit a much more tastefully dressed one.) Josh Marshall says he makes Petraeus look like the sanest of the bunch, and I’m inclined to agree. Hey, who’s to say we can’t enjoy the theatricality of this whole spy circus a bit? There’s gonna be plenty of serious shit surrounding the Benghazi débâcle before long. Might as well enjoy the comic relief while we can get it, kiddies…

PS: The plot thickens. Perhaps we should call our new soap opera As the Pentagon Turns? Also, oops!

PPS: And more thickening! NPR reports that Paula Broadwell is NOT the actual author of All (Up) In (My Vagina), the hagiography of Fmr. Gen. Petraeus. That honor goes to a WaHoPo columnist, Vernon Loeb. Which begs the question: Just exactly what WAS she doing the whole time she was with the general? Clearly not just compiling research files, ha ha.

PPPS: And back to Jill Kelley. Think I should wank-list her for not understanding what “honorary” means?

A few random thoughts on a former general

I have a terrible confession to make: When the news of the Petraeus sex scandal broke this past week, my first reaction was to chuckle. Not in the usual “ha ha, another cheatypants got caught, serves him right” sense (although there was no small amount of Schadenfreude there, either); it was more out of a sardonic sense of irresistible metaphor. It was all about an irony that had been hiding, as all such ironies do, in very plain sight.

And yes, I have to admit, the embarrassment of it all tickled me, too. Aren’t intelligence agents constantly being warned about the dangers of seduction, when they’re not being instructed to use it to gain information they can’t get any other way? How delicious, then, to see the head of the world’s most feared and hated spy agency caught in the same trap his covert agents have set repeatedly, all over the world. And how hilariously ironic that the same terrorist traps the FBI keeps setting in vain, under the auspices of the so-called Patriot Act, ended up catching not some obscure cell with nefarious world-takeover plans, but a four-star general who’d at one point led the war against precisely such insurgencies. Or so we’re told by our lovely presstitutes.

After all, the former general and CIA director wasn’t just boinking some boring little bottle-blonde secretary; the Other Woman was his chief hagiographer. She was a military veteran and West Point grad herself. Just like him, she was in the business of selling neoconservatism, bad ideologies, and wars that cost a fucking fortune in every conceivable sense. She did not keep a low profile, as Other Women are wont to do. She was constantly thrusting herself into the spotlight to sing his praises (and promote her magnum opus). She was the person who spit-shined his medals to a high gloss in a “biography” that seemed to be written, at times, from straight inside his pants. There was no pretense of objectivity, only a constant, unremitting effort to elevate David Petraeus to divinity. A divinity which, even then, we peaceniks and Dirty Fucking Hippies knew he did not deserve.

But the media brushed right past us. It ignored what the former intelligence professionals were saying, too, about the BushCo wars being unwinnable. They hopped right on the pro-war bandwagon. They praised the “brilliant” strategy and lost sight of the reality on the ground. Gosh oh golly gee wow, isn’t David Petraeus wonderful? Yeah, that Iraq surge went great. So great that Iraq is now permanently fucked. Petraeus made that.

And that’s not all he made. He damn near dragged the Obama administration into yet another unwinnable neo-con war, this one with Iran. And on the flimsiest and dumbest of pretexts, too:

One person familiar with the Obama administration’s thinking said President Obama was never close to Petraeus, who was viewed as a favorite of the neoconservatives and someone who had undercut a possible solution to Iran’s nuclear program in 2011 by pushing a bizarre claim that Iranian intelligence was behind an assassination plot aimed at the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

As that case initially evolved, the White House and Justice Department were skeptical that the plot traced back to the Iranian government, but Petraeus pushed the alleged connection which was then made public in a high-profile indictment. The charges further strained relations with Iran, making a possible military confrontation more likely.

At the time, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a favored recipient of official CIA leaks, reported that “one big reason [top U.S. officials became convinced the plot was real] is that CIA and other intelligence agencies gathered information corroborating the informant’s juicy allegations and showing that the plot had support from the top leadership of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the covert action arm of the Iranian government.”

Ignatius added that, “it was this intelligence collected in Iran” that swung the balance. But Ignatius offered no examples of what that intelligence was. Nor did Ignatius show any skepticism regarding Petraeus’s well-known hostility toward Iran and how that might have influenced the CIA’s judgment.

As it turned out, the case was based primarily on statements from an Iranian-American car dealer Mansour Arbabsiar, who clumsily tried to hire drug dealers to murder Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, though Arbabsiar was actually talking to a Drug Enforcement Agency informant. Arbabsiar pled guilty last month as his lawyers argued that their client suffers from a bipolar disorder. In other words, Petraeus and his CIA escalated an international crisis largely on the word of a person diagnosed by doctors of his own defense team as having a severe psychiatric disorder.

Despite the implausibility of the assassination story and the unreliability of the key source, the Washington press corps quickly accepted the Iranian assassination plot as real. That assessment reflected the continued influence of neoconservatives in Official Washington and Petraeus’s out-sized reputation among journalists.

The neocons, who directed much of President George W. Bush’s disastrous foreign policy and filled the ranks of Mitt Romney’s national security team, have favored a heightened confrontation with Iran in line with the hardline position of Israel’s Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the post-election period, it is a top neocon goal to derail Obama’s efforts to work out a peaceful settlement of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. The neocons favor “regime change.”

If ever there was a reason to be glad Mitt Romney lost the election, there it is. One more foreign policy disaster. Brought to you by the same PNAC/Likud faction that brought you the Afghan and Iraq catastrophes. Let’s not forget that Iran was always on the keeker; it was part of the “Axis of Evil”, remember?

Thankfully Barack Obama wasn’t dumb enough to fall for that flimsy tale. (You can see now why he was wise to end the Iraq invasion, too, can’t you? We’ll talk more about Afghanistan when he realizes it’s past time to shut that one down, too. Maybe now he’ll finally start firing all those BushCo leftovers on his team and start fresh with sane people. Hope ‘n’ change, people — get the fuck ON with it.)

Meanwhile, the same media imbeciles who were so busy promoting every highly-polished Petraeus turd that they couldn’t even look up for an instant, are in mourning. The same David Ignatius who took the Iranian lunatic’s lie and ran with it is now weeping tears of blood. Too bad he forgot something:

Ignatius adoringly adduces the following quote from Petraeus as proof of the ex-general’s acute vision: “As I see it, strategic leadership is fundamentally about big ideas, and, in particular, about four tasks connected with big ideas. First, of course, you have to get the big ideas right — you have to determine the right overarching concepts and intellectual underpinnings to accomplish your organization’s mission.

“Second, you have to communicate the big ideas effectively through the breadth and depth of the organization. Third, you have to oversee the implementation of the big ideas. And fourth, and finally, you have to capture lessons from the implementation of the big ideas, so that you can refine the overarching concepts and repeat the overall process.”

Got that? That’s probably right out of Petraeus’s PhD dissertation at Princeton, or from a how-to book that might be called “Management Rhetoric for Dummies.”

If only Petraeus and his colleague generals remembered the smaller – but far more relevant – ideas inculcated in all of us Army officers in Infantry School at Fort Benning in the early Sixties. This is what I recall from memory regarding what an infantry officer needed to do before launching an operation – big or small – division or squad size.

Corny (and gratuitous) as it may sound, we were taught that the absolute requirement was to do an “Estimate of the Situation” that included the following key factors: Enemy strength, numbers and weapons; Enemy disposition, where are they?; Terrain; Weather; and Lines of communication and supply (LOCS). In other words, we were trained to take into account those “little ideas,” like facts and feasibility that, if ignored, could turn the “big ideas” into a March of Folly that would get a lot of people killed for no good reason.

Could it be that they stopped teaching these fundamentals as Petraeus went through West Point and Benning several years later? Did military history no longer include the futile efforts of imperial armies to avoid falling into the “graveyard of empires” in Afghanistan?

What about those LOCS? When you can’t get there from here, is it really a good idea to send troops and armaments the length of Pakistan and then over the Hindu Kush? And does anyone know how much that kind of adventure might end up costing?

To Army officers schooled in the basics, it was VERY hard to understand why the top Army leadership persuaded President Barack Obama to double down, twice, in reinforcing troops for a fool’s errand. And let’s face it, unless you posit that the generals and the neoconservative strategic “experts” at Brookings and AEI were clueless, the doubling down was not only dumb but unconscionable.

Small wonder all the talk about “long war” and Petraeus’s glib prediction that our grandchildren will still be fighting the kind of wars in which he impressed the likes of David Ignatius.

Ike Eisenhower wasn’t kidding when he talked about the Military-Industrial Complex. And Smedley Butler wasn’t talking out his hat either when he said that war was a racket. What Ray McGovern, the veteran intel pro who opposed these wars from the outset, understands that the media doesn’t, is that wars are not won or lost on the basis of who’s got the “big ideas” and “overarching concepts”. The people on the ground don’t give a shit for those. And the locals will only see foreign invaders and oppressors, NOT Big Ideas And Overarching Concepts. They’re not stupid; they know what a foreign uniform and gun mean. Their hearts and minds are not winnable with big talk; you might as well be tossing cluster bombs to their kids as candy from the tank turrets.

The salesmanlike bullshit of Petraeus ought to be apparent even to those of us who don’t have the privilege of a West Point officer-training course. If you’ve heard similar things from some civilian in a cheap suit and dismissed it accordingly (and I have, and I bet you have too), why buy it when it comes courtesy of some big-brass guy with a folksy-shucksy grin and a chestful of medals?

Oh yeah, that’s right: the only bright spot, if you can call it that, in the Bush Recession, was that there were plenty of job opportunities for young, poor, barely-educated cannon fodder. It’s the economy, stupid! At a time when well-paying manufacturing jobs are being cut and shipped overseas to where labor is so cheap that at times it amounts to outright slavery, what’s left at home? The so-called service economy. Which is also so poorly paid that it might as well be slavery. You can’t afford rent, much less a starter home, on a McJob paycheque. So when the handsome young guys in the spiffy uniforms approach you, ever so personably, at the mall, trying to interest you in the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines, and tell you you can get your college education and better job opportunities that way, you start to think of entering a different kind of service opportunity, one that will glorify you some day as a Veteran. Assuming that you come out alive. Would you like fries with that?

So yeah, the snickering from my corner is full of a sense of vindication. What has the whole neo-con project been, if not a vast international fuckfest replete with lies, deception, doubletalk and crapaganda? One in which the media whores focused with lover-like intensity on the well-polished turds falling from the lips of “institute” hacks and four-star generals alike, while troops on the ground were killing and dying for, well, nothing?

Ah, maybe I shouldn’t say nothing. They killed and died, committed atrocities and fell victim to atrocities, for something, all right.

They did it all for bullshit.

Why Stephen Harper stole our elections

I have a terrible confession to make, kiddies: I feel absolutely no pity or sorrow for Stephen Fucking Harper, now that his chickens are finally coming to roost after more than 20 years. Yeah, I know that the man has been our so-called prime minister only since 2006, and with a very mediocre electoral showing at best (two minorities, followed by a majority which, we now know, was obtained only through electoral fraud). But trust me, what we see of him now is just the tip of the iceberg; he’s been honing his creepy craft for a very long time. One does not get to be the Prime Fraudster without a lot of careful, diligent training in the black arts of weaselry and chicanery. And, as Murray Dobbin writes, Harpo learned it from a true master of deception:

I have tracked Harper’s political career for twenty years and for the first part of that period I also tracked Preston Manning. The two men present an interesting contrast. Manning really was a Christian and I always found it interesting that while he would bend the truth to the breaking point and was a master practitioner of what I called calculated ambiguity (able to deliver totally different messages in the same statement) he never in my experience actually lied.

You had to know how to corner him to tell the truth but if you could (almost no journalist ever even tried) in the final moment of the sparring he would not lie. I once called into a talk show and tried to get him to admit he supported a GST with no exemptions. He had garnered probably 40% of his party’s membership in the early ‘90s on his opposition to the GST but I knew that he actually supported this tax – as all neo-liberals did.

In fact, he had invited Sir Roger Douglas, the man who transformed New Zealand into a free market wasteland, to speak at the party’s biggest policy convention in 1990. He actually introduced him by highlighting the fact that he had introduced a value added tax with no exemptions. That he could get away with this while opposing the GST at the same time was a testament to the sway he held over his adoring membership.

On the talk show in question I kept pushing him to tell me his position (the party was debating its GST policy at the time). He kept dodging and weaving, avoiding the question until finally the host got fed up and said “Come in Mr Manning, it’s a straight forward question.” There was a long pause and then he said it, “Yes, I would prefer a GST with no exemptions.” I thanked him for informing Saskatchewan voters that he would put a tax on their groceries.

Murray Dobbin frames this in light of Preston Manning’s professed Christianity, which is itself at odds with his politics. Jesus, as we well know, was an early socialist who told the rich to give up their excesses if they really wanted to follow him. He also preached that you could not serve both God and mammon. The two went together.

Preston Manning, like all good right-wing weasel politicians, managed to neatly decouple the two, embodying in the process the cognitive dissonance of all the so-called Christians who vote for right-wing candidates. Their smug hypocrisy, their need to feel rewarded on Earth (as opposed to heaven) for their superior righteousness, and his willingness to pander shamelessly to that (hey, he was a victim of it himself, the man couldn’t help it!), was the key to his success. Promise them Family Values — an anti-choice, homophobic, sexist, authoritarian platform that Jesus himself notably NEVER preached — and they’ll swallow anything that you feed them. They’ll honestly believe that whatever they gain at the expense of the common good, however paltry and ultimately hollow, is “earned”. They’ll even vote against their own best interests with a smile on their doughy faces. And while they may comprise just one Canadian voter in five (the same fraction, I might add, as comprised Hitler’s prime voting base in Germany), they will never waver in their support. They are such convinced True Believers that you will never lose them no matter how you abuse them. It’s important to keep that base of sheeple blatting along with everything you say, because otherwise, your credibility would be nil.

Of course, Preston Manning didn’t just come up with that strategy on his own, either. He in turn learned it from other masters. The US Republican party, in other words; the slimiest party on the continent, perhaps even the world. There is literally nothing that is beneath them; the famed “Southern Strategy” should make that abundantly clear. The willingness of Ronald Reagan to play to the right-wing base’s prejudice was made clear when he kicked off his presidential campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi — the scene of the infamous “Missisippi Burning” murders (significantly, of three voter-rights activists.)

Abraham Lincoln would not recognize what had become of his party a scant hundred years after the Civil War, were he to return at the time that Ronald Reagan was dog-whistling at the racists of the South. Just as Canadians don’t recognize their own country, a scant five or six years after Harpo & Co. took the helm here. These Nixonian dirty tricksters, who modeled their strategies on those of Donald Segretti and Karl Rove, have infiltrated our own Parliament, and packed our Senate with a raft of rubber-stamping, bobble-headed Yes Men (and a scattering of token Yes Women) who can be counted on, not to provide Sober Second Thoughts, but only ratification for whatever fascistic move Harpo decides to pull on us next.

It isn’t at all hard to see how Harpo stole our elections; not a damn thing that man did was the least bit new or original. He learned dog-whistling and doubletalk from dear ol’ Preston Manning, and dirty tricks from Dick and Dubya. And he deployed all that quite ably to get his majority-that-isn’t. Bravo!

But…why did he do it?

Ah, there’s the rub. Warren Kinsella asserts that the SupposiTories didn’t need to commit election fraud, as “they were always going to win the damn thing anyway”. That’s not only a jaw-droppingly silly thing to say, it is demonstrably false. After two successive minorities, and an election in which the NDP was on a roll and bidding fair to become, if not the next government, then a loyal opposition that would put some serious, socialistic brakes to a third Harper minority, it was becoming obvious that Canadians had had it to the gills with Spiteful Stephen’s petulance, proroguing and all-around abuses of our parliamentary system. Last year’s election was a make-or-break one for the Harper Government™, and things looked like they would go the way of “break”.

Until the numbers rolled in. And, unbelievably, they had Majority stamped all over them. It wasn’t even close!

I could not then, and I do not now, believe that there were really that many stupid Canadians out there, who would honestly vote for such a band of brigands. After all the hammering the SupposiTories’ reputation had taken in the weeks and months leading up to that election, one would have expected heads to roll, and blue-clad arses to go flying out of Parliament by the dozen. One seriously expected the existing Harper minority to become a rump, and perhaps an NDP/Liberal/Green coalition to form and put an end to all the shenanigans. Instead, that already ill-deserved minority morphed into a majority. And right away, I blurted out to my parents: “They stole this one. I don’t know how, but they must have stolen it. There’s just no way!”

And of course, I was right. They DID steal it. (I tawt I taw a coup d’état. I DID! I DID tee a coup d’état!)

How they stole it is just now beginning to come out in the media, so there’s no need for me to talk about that here. Instead of the how, let’s focus on the WHY.

We already know that parliamentary democracy presented a severe inconvenience to the whole Harper Government™ agenda. It would have stalled all their plans, from NAFTA to Fortress North America to the dismantling of the long-gun registry (which, BTW, still enjoys popular support; after all, a majority of Canadians voted for it!) And we know full well that Stevie Peevie was in the habit of proroguing Parliament for no good reason, other than that it wouldn’t give him the votes he needed to impose his agenda. He knew he couldn’t get away with that hold-your-breath-until-you-turn-blue nonsense forever. So he had to get a majority, which would mean a cutoff for all debates (that’s the essence of parliamentary democracy, kiddies!), and no more need to prorogue when you could just slash and burn everything, unhindered.

And if you can’t get a majority the honest way — and he couldn’t, being fundamentally dishonest like all right-wingers — you get it any way you can. By any means necessary. And if that means copying the same dirty tricks that worked so well for Richard Nixon and that little turd, George W. Bush, well, so be it.

And far be it from me to give a man credit where due. The sheer diligence of this one is remarkable, and I cannot begrudge him my grudging admiration. Stephen Fucking Harper learned it from the masters, and he learned it to the hilt. And he applied it all without scruple or shame. We no longer recognize our own country today, because the slimiest dirty-trick politics from south of our border have been imported so subversively and applied so successfully.

Bravo, Spiteful Stevie, bravo.

Orwell Rolls in His Grave

A documentary made a few years back, but still broadly relevant today. It’s all about how corporate lobbyists control government, and how corporate interests control media, and the dangers to democracy that result from this high degree of corporatization. The specific example here is that of the United States of Amnesia, but the implications are global, as corporations and their lobbyists, wherever unchecked, can undermine virtually any democracy in the world, falsify election results to their liking, marginalize popular candidates and parties, and send the truth itself down the Memory Hole.

The one heartening thing in the film is the fact that corporate control has not YET taken the reins of the Internets. And, as the Arab Spring, the Occupy movements, and other rebellions stemming directly from the revelations of Wikileaks have shown us, that means that the real power today lies not in the hands of corporate media, but — for as long as the Internets remain open — in the hands of the people who make the revolutions. Word of mouth still travels too fast for the corporations to contain, and therein lies the hope for democracy.

How Wired missed the real Assange/Manning story

A couple of days ago, Bradley Manning celebrated his birthday behind bars for the second year in a row. He’s still awaiting trial, with no word on when it will begin. But the outcome of the trial looks to be a foregone conclusion already. Wired, which also broke the story about Adrian Lamo turning Bradley Manning in, today claims to have found the definitive link between Manning and the man who published all the shocking classified materials Manning gave him:

A government digital forensic examiner retrieved communications between accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning and an online chat user identified on Manning’s computer as “Julian Assange,” the name of the founder of the secret-spilling site that published hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables.

Investigators also found an Icelandic phone number for Assange, and a chat with another hacker located in the U.S., in which Manning says he’s responsible for the leaking of the “Collateral Murder” Apache helicopter video released by WikiLeaks in spring 2010.

Until Monday’s revelation, there’s been no reports that the government had evidence linking the two men, other than chat logs provided to the FBI by hacker Adrian Lamo. Assange is being investigated by a federal grand jury, but has not been charged with any crime, as publishing classified information is not generally considered a crime in the U.S. But if prosecutors could show that Assange directed Manning, that could complicate Assange’s defense that WikiLeaks is simply a journalistic endeavor.

The news of the chat logs came on the fourth day of Manning’s Army hearing being held to determine whether he’ll face court martial on 22 charges of violating military law for allegedly abusing his position as an intelligence analyst in Iraq to feed a treasure trove of classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks.

Mark Johnson, a digital forensics contractor for ManTech International who works for the Army’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit, examined an image of Manning’s personal MacBook Pro and said he found 14 to 15 pages of chats in unallocated space on the hard drive that were discussions of unspecified government info, and specifically referred to re-sending info.

Pretty damning stuff, eh?

Yeah, I’ll admit it doesn’t look good for Bradley Manning, or Julian Assange either. If you believe that the two of them should be tried for espionage, this certainly seems to bolster that contention. But the real point of the story, which would blow the whole “espionage” theory out of the water, has been missed: It’s not how Manning got his hands on all that data (which we’ve already known about for quite some time), nor how he fed it to Julian Assange.

The real story, the part Wired isn’t reporting, is not the HOW, but the WHY.

And the WHY is no secret. It has already been reported elsewhere, but bears reiterating here. Bradley Manning saw what the US was really up to in its many overseas missions, diplomatic and military, and that it was all rotten. He hated what he saw, and he wanted to make sure everyone, no matter who or where they were, knew what he knew. He didn’t spy for any foreign government; he blew the whistle on his own. He wanted the whole world to know what was really going on in Iraq, because horrible, graphic footage like this…

…was obviously not going to make it onto any nightly newscast.

Mainstream media would only spin that video, at best; at worst, they would censor it altogether. The Internet is the only place that would disseminate a video as damaging to the US’s international reputation as Collateral Murder has turned out to be. And the Internet is the only place where such a video would be mirrored, as many times as needed, so that censorship could never take hold of it.

That’s why Bradley Manning leaked the classified materials to Julian Assange, and why Julian Assange posted it to Wikileaks.

It’s not that the two of them are spies. Spies, by definition, work for somebody else, an outside entity. An outside enemy. Neither Bradley Manning nor Julian Assange can be demonstrated in a court of law to be in the employ of an enemy, so espionage charges would make no sense (although I’m sure the US government is looking to press them anyhow). They were neither working for the enemy nor seeking to BE the enemy. Their only crime, if a crime indeed it was, was exposing the unattractive truth about US foreign policy. A truth which foreign nationals have long known, and which complicit media in the US and elsewhere have long covered up.

And for that awful truth, Bradley Manning may hang. Literally.

I don’t think he did anything wrong, myself. What is wrong with telling the truth, even when powerful interests don’t want it known?

NOTHING.

But there is plenty wrong with what we see in the Collateral Murder video. And if anyone in uniform should go on trial for anything, let it be the as-yet-unnamed helicopter pilots, “Bushmaster” and “Crazyhorse”, who deliberately and coldly killed the Iraqi journalist for Reuters, Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh. And who also fired on innocent Iraqi civilians, including some kids in a van, who stopped to try to help the two wounded men.

And while we’re at it, let’s send the entire Bush Administration to The Hague. After all, they are the ones who sent “Bushmaster” and “Crazyhorse” to Iraq to play real-life shooter games with innocent Iraqis as targets. The war is now officially over. How about prosecuting those who declared it, on a false pretext, and for greed?

Oh yeah, I forgot. High-ranking criminals can’t be prosecuted. And Barack Obama has already (shamefully) taken that option off the table. So unless someone stages a citizen’s arrest of any of those thugs while they’re visiting a foreign country, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any of THEM subjected to the abuses and indignities that have befallen Assange and Manning. Much less any legal prosecution.

The shameful complicity of the US government, corporations, and media in crimes against humanity just never seems to end. And that’s the real story that Wired, like other mainstream sources, will never print.

What is up with Ol’ Pineapple Face?

Russia Today has the backgrounder; the CBC has the story:

Former military strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega was flown home to Panama on Sunday to be punished once again for crimes he committed during a career that saw him transformed from a close Cold War ally of Washington to the vilified target of a U.S. invasion.

Noriega left Orly airport, south of Paris, on a flight of Spain’s Iberia airlines, delivered directly to the aircraft by a four-car convoy and motorcycles that escorted him from the French capital’s La Sante prison. The flight, which stops in Madrid, left at 8:08 a.m. local time, about a half-hour behind schedule.
Noriega has spent more than 20 years in U.S. and French jails for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The French Justice Ministry, in a one-line statement, said France turned Noriega over to Panamanian officials on Sunday in accordance with extradition proceedings. It was the only official remark.

“Drug trafficking and money laundering”. Ain’t that a pip? Meanwhile, his worst crimes have gone not only unpunished, but untried. Now why do you suppose THAT is?

Noriega began working with U.S. intelligence when he was a student at a military academy in Peru, said Everett Ellis Briggs, the United States ambassador to Panama from 1982 to 1986.

As he rose in the Panamanian military during the 1970s and 1980s, Noriega co-operated closely with the CIA, helping the U.S. combat leftist movements in Latin America by providing information and logistical help. He also acted as a back channel for U.S. communications with unfriendly governments such as Cuba’s.

What the CBC isn’t telling us is that Pineapple Face was BFFs with Dubya’s dad during that entire time. George Bush the Elder actually referred to him as “my boy”. (No, I’m NOT kidding.) And their coke-smuggly friendship even made the nightly news at one point (as well as a cameo appearance in Donnie Darko):

The only thing Michael Dukakis did wrong here was to pull his punches. He could have very credibly tied Bush Sr., a former CIA head, to the cocaine trade. Mike Ruppert did, as did Gary Webb.

If Manuel Noriega is ever tried for his real crimes, I know who will have to stand in the dock alongside him. Unfortunately, since he’s a former POTUS, VP and CIA head, his role will be permanently consigned to the memory hole.