The Reagan Convictions

July 1, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Michael Evans [Public domain].

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Michael Evans [Public domain].

Conservatives over in America, in an effort to find any scandal possible to throw at the President, are obsessing daily, still, over the events that lead up to Benghazi. It’s an interesting scandal, because it seems to be one in which those shouting the loudest, are doing so simply to destabilise the President, rather than caring too deeply for those affected by the horrendous tragedy in Benghazi. I would hazard a guess that most cannot name the victims. It is used simply as an excuse to call for secession, or impeachment, or casting out demons, or any other craze the far-right in the US has decided to cling onto today.

And yet, ask most right winged, angry Americans who the greatest President of all time was, and most will say Ronald Reagan. Some will note President Lincoln, others may say Thomas Jefferson. Both of whom are examples of Presidents who overstepped Constitutional executive power, both increased the size of government, and Jefferson especially was incredibly anti-Capitalism (as I note here, in my article on Jefferson, and the Tea Party). So it is of no surprise, that the Reagan Presidency is also a rather hypocritical Presidency to be particularly fond of, if you’re a right winged American. Reagan’s Presidency was perhaps the most corrupt in living memory. And here is why:

President Reagan’s Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, Michael Deaver was convicted in 1987 of committing perjury in statements submitted to a Congressional subcommittee and then grand jury, in relation to his secret lobbying activities within the administration. He was sentenced to three years, later reduced to probation for three years and a $100,000 fine, along with 1,500 hours of public service.

Reagan’s National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane was imprisoned in 1990 and fined $20,000 for his part in the Iran-Contra affair in ’86, in which the Reagan Administration ignored the arms embargo on Iran, and initiated the selling of weapons. The money gained through sales would then be slyly diverted to help train and fund the violent contra’s in Nicaragua; a group that had been struck off the US funding list, by Congress in ’82 and ’84. But of course, McFarlane’s clear corruption and overstepping of Federal executive power, was ignored when President Bush – another Republican – pardoned him in 1992.

In 1982, Reagan appointed California State Republican Rita Lavelle to the position of assistant administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for solid waste and emergency response. She was in control of around $1.5bn to be used for chemical spills and hazardous waste. She was convicted in 1984 of lying to Congress, over her misuse of the $1.5bn fund. She served three months, paid a $10,000 fine, and was place on probation for five years.
In 2005, Lavelle was convicted again, this time of wire fraud, and making false statements to the FBI, in relation to forged documents and trying to defraud another company out of $36,000.

The 43rd United States Secretary of the Interior, appointed by President Reagan in 1981, was James Watt. He held the record (until a President W Bush appointee) of protecting the fewest endangered species on the list, in US history. In 1995 Watt was indicted on 25 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for giving false statements to a grand jury during an investigation into Department of Housing and Urban Development influence peddling, of which Watt lobbied in the 1980s. He plea bargained, paid a $5000 fine, five years probation, and ordered to give 500 hours of community service.

Five years after nominating Rita Lavelle, and whilst Secretary of the Interior was running up his record of caring little for endangered species, Reagan nominated another dubious character, to Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Deborah Gore Dean was convicted by jury of accepting an illegal gratuity, on three counts of trying to defraud the Federal Government, on four counts of perjury. She was eventually sentenced on the first two conspiracy counts and ordered to pay $2,500 for each.

President Reagan’s Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger was fully pardoned by President Bush before he could stand trial for two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing justice for his role in Iran-Contra. He was responsible for selling Hawk missiles to Iran.

John Poindexter, another National Security Advisor, was convicted in 1990 on five charges of lying to Congress by obstructing Congressional investigations into Iran-Contra. His conviction was later overturned due only to the wording of the case against him. President George W Bush later recalled Poindexter to head up DARPA Information Awareness Office. He eventually retired, after proposing a market for future contracts, based on predicting events (such as assassinations) in the Middle East. Former Senator Byron Dorgan said of the idea of the idea:

“The idea of a federal betting parlor on atrocities and terrorism is ridiculous and it’s grotesque.”

Another President Reagan appointee, and President Bush pardonee, is Elliott Abrams. Quite horrifically, Abrams was Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, whilst Human Rights Watch and Amnesty accused Abrams of covering up human rights offences in Latin America. This can be noted, when in 1993, the UN’s Commission on the Truth for El Salvador found that 5000 civilians were rounded up and executed in 1981, whilst being supported by the US. Prior to the ruling, when reports were hitting the US press of executions in El Salvador in the 1980s, Abrams said the reports were misleading, and left wing propaganda.
So good at this position of covering up Reagan’s funding of human rights violators and terrorists, that he was later promoted to Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs. In this role, he was 100 hours community service for his role in Iran-Contra. President Bush Sr pardoned him. President Bush Jr promoted Abrams to Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council just after taking office in 2001. This is about seven years before Sarah Palin continuously attacked President Obama for “palling up to terrorists” for once maybe having spoken briefly to Bill Ayers. Republican hypocrisy at its finest.

The list goes on; Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, Silvio D. DeBartolomeis, Joseph A. Strauss, Anne Gorsuch Burford, Thomas Demery.

It isn’t just President Reagan’s administration that was deeply corrupt, violent, extreme, and criminal; it was the next Republican President also. President Bush is guilty of pardoning criminal after criminal, simply because he could. They were not treated to the same level of justice that ordinary American citizens are treated to. They were considered above the law, by their powerful friend in the White House. President George W Bush brought a couple of them back into political life. Republican sleaze. If this had all happened in 2013, under President Obama; I dare say Glenn Beck would be holding “Throw Obama in Prison” rallies whilst drawing parallels to Stalin and lack of Jesus in schools; Fox News would be indecipherable through the sound of daily venomous rage; calls for secession because the President is “destroying America” would be even more irritatingly loud; and Congressional Republicans would be trying to impeach at every possible second. Instead, the most aggressively corrupt administration in US history, is ironically, the administration of the conservative hero, President Reagan. Big government wasn’t the problem. Reagan-style government was, and is the problem.

Bobby Kennedy

June 5, 2011

Forty-three years ago today, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed as he campaigned at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Languishing in hindsight and speculation, I will say that I believe Bobby Kennedy would have been one of the greatest President’s the United States has ever had, had he not been cut short on the campaign trail in 1968. If he’d have lived, there may have been no President Nixon, No President Ford, and maybe even no President Reagan. If his ideas and sentiments not been crushed in the following years by a vicious right winged neoliberal elite, and less eloquent and less popular and far less charismatic liberal politicians made to sound like the ramblings of archaic socialists, the World might not have had to endure thirty years plus, of the rise of the Hayekian New Right. The spirit of the ’60s was firmly shot down in 1968.

I wanted a short blog today on RFK, and a quote that I felt summed up his political philosophy, and why he remains one of my political heroes.

“Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Perfect quote.

Privatise profit, socialise risk

November 29, 2010

I am not an economist.
Never studied economics.
The graphs, the analyses, the spreadsheets, the intricate data fine tooth-combing is not something I do on a regular basis. Even if I had studied economics, I might have a better understanding of the language we use to describe capital flow and its merits and contradictions; but I can’t honestly say i’d understand economics as a science, any better. When the Queen asked top economists at the London School of Economics, why they didn’t see the credit crunch coming, they couldn’t answer. They knew nothing. All those years at a top economist school taught them nothing when it came down to it. So therefore, I, like everyone else, can only comment on the relationship between society and economics as I see it, from my perspective.

This is how I interpret the financial crash.

The first thing to note, is that this isn’t Capitalism. This is a system of perpetual yet flimsy consumerism. It is not a free market system. It is a Financial Sector system.
The obvious link between this crises, and society as a whole is also the catalyst for the problems. The subprime mortgage market began plunging around 2005. It was largely ignored because those who were losing their homes and livelihoods in cities like Detroit in the US, were predominantly Hispanic or African American. The media did not question it. The economists did not question it. The Bush administration did not question it. But it was a small basement fire that before long would engulf the World.

When white middle class towns and cities around California for example started to experience a wave of foreclosures, and people started owing more than their properties were actually worth, the World took note. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae all but died. Lehmann was allowed to collapse. AIG, who snook onto the gravy train, expecting the housing market to be on an upward turn forever and ever, were bailed out and then faced a liquidity crises. It’s a funny thing, because this started to happen in 2007. Two years after the poorer black communities felt the pinch hard. Suddenly millions were losing their homes in the US. This didn’t appear to upset those who actually caused the mess in the first place.

Wall Street gave out bonuses of well over $30bn in 2007, despite crushing the entire system. Often you will hear Right Wingers defend these obscene bonuses with “you have to pay the best to get the best”. These people aren’t the best. If Wayne Rooney single handedly drives Manchester United down into the First Division, from the Premiership and then the Championship, he isn’t likely to get a massive bonus at the end of it.

The point of neoliberalism today, as it was in the 1980s, is to protect financial institutions at all costs. An it has worked. It concentrates wealth within the Nations with big powerful financial institutions. A report by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University found that 1% owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults own 85% overall. In the US, it was found that 38% of the Nation’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population.

A similar study from the Federal Reserve shows that between 1989 and 2004:

“there are indications that wealth became more concentrated”


“from 1992 to 2004 the wealth share of the least wealthy half of the population fell significantly to 2.5 percent of total wealth”

During the 1980s, real wage growth stagnated both here in the UK and in the US. Money did not trickle down. This great neoliberal Thatcherite/Reaganomic experiment actually did nothing but make the wealthy, very very wealthy. The poverty rate under Thatcher was higher than it has been since. The wages and assets of the guys at the top increased massively at the same time as the average workers’ wage stagnated. You see for example, the fact that you have to earn far over the National average to be able to afford a home now. We cannot afford homes, and we are working in the UK the longest hours in Europe. We have nothing to show for it, except stagnating wages, and massively inflated wages for the guys at the very top. But, the propaganda of Neoliberalism, tells us that they deserve their wealth, and we deserve nothing. So we get nothing. This creates a problem, because the workers are in the majority and they are where the demand comes from for the economy to flourish. How do you fill the gap between keeping the wealthy very wealthy, and making sure the masses can afford to consume? Well, if you’re a financial institution you employ an idiot to come up with the idea of easy credit. Give everyone a credit card. Give everyone store cards. Give everyone subprime mortgages. You are essentially giving people money that doesn’t yet exist, in the optimistic view that everything will be okay, and the money will exist sometime in the future. I was offered a Student Credit Card with £1500 on it. I’m 24, but presumably my bank had also offered this non-existent money to 18 year olds. They are only just allowed to legally buy alcohol, and banks are already luring them into this hellhole of consumer capitalism.

David Cameron, when accused of socially cleansing London of poorer people, with his plans to cut housing benefit, said:

“The point everyone in this House has got to consider: are we happy to go on paying housing benefit of £30,000, £40,000, £50,000?

“Our constituents working hard to give benefits so people can live in homes they couldn’t even dream of? I don’t think that’s fair.”

This is interesting for a few of reasons. Firstly, housing benefit has only gone up recently, because many people have been kicked out of their jobs as a result of the failings of the Neoliberal system David Cameron holds so dear. The benefit is a safety net for those who were unfortunate enough to lose their jobs. It is fine, if you managed to escape the chop, and can still afford your house. But no one knows what the future brings. What if double dip recession hits as a result of these cuts the Coalition are introducing? A lot more people will lose their jobs, and wont be able to find one for quite some time, when 10 or 12 people are chasing the same job. So, do they get kicked out of London too? They aren’t scrounging. They are victims of a crises of Neoliberalism.

Secondly, the comment suggests that David Cameron sees no inherent problem with the way the housing market actually works. He hasn’t said he’ll make it easier for people to be able to actually afford a house. He simply offers ways to prop up a grossly overvalued housing market. The reason that “constituents working hard” can’t afford home they “even dream of” is because the Tories of the 1980s sold all social housing, and the Financial Institutions have been ripping people off ever since. Apparently, Cameron has no issue with this.

And thirdly, kicking the poor out of London isn’t going to free up housing for Cameron’s “hard working constituents“. These hard working people wont suddenly flock to the City of London for homes that are now magically cheaper; purely because these hard working people are having to deal with stagnated wages, inflated prices, and a mass of debt encouraged by the Tories, Labour and the Banks for thirty years. The homes will be bought up by property developers, and people who want nice little London bachelor pads, becoming a city of croissant-at-Canary-Wharf-eating businessmen.

British households, on average, tripled their debt over the past thirty years, mostly housing market debt. They had to, in order to keep up. Now, what happens what you can no longer pay that debt back? The subprime crash happens. And then suddenly banks stop lending, because they have no money themselves. They gave out this fake money, that not only didn’t exist before, but doesn’t exist when they suddenly need it. So now business can’t borrow. So unemployment shoots up. But then demand across the marketplace falls, because people have less and less disposable income. So businesses go bust. Good times!

Millions became unemployed, millions lost their homes, the suicide rate shot up, the homeless rate was at a forty year high, and yet bonuses on Wall Street in 2008 were close to $32bn. Quite a nice rewarded for ruining lives.

Consumerism obviously can only exist and perpetuate if there is some sort of emotional attachment to it. The need to “fit in”. I HAD to have Nike trainers at school because kids have their own social heirarchy going on, and we all have to try to fit in with it. We are what we own, that is how consumerism, supported by governments and the media have presented life. Volvo embodied this idea beautifully, with the slogan “Life is better lived together”. We need to buy an XBox 360 because all our friends play online together, we don’t want to be left out. How can we afford it? Ah yes, student credit card. Or, buy on finance, on which you pay about one and a half times as much as you would have done if you’d have brought it from a shop. Easy credit rears its ugly head once more, to ease our need to “fit in”.

The Financial institutions keep getting fatter that way. Wealth becomes very concentrated. Capital becomes just as powerful and destructive, as the Unions were in the 1970s. This isn’t helped by the fact that businesses everywhere, and in fact, our consumer haven itself, relies on the Financial sector. The sector truly is too big to fail. They weren’t lying. Which means those working within the Financial sector are very very powerful people. And so people start to pump money into the Financial sector.

A few economists have pointed out, that although capital accumulation appears limitless, when you start to make a lot of money, you start to look for other avenues to invest in, in order to get one over on your competition. You need to expand. But there are limits to expansion (scarcity of labour supply, consumption, production etc). But those limits are barriers that need to be broken, according to Capitalist thought. Marx stated that “Every limit appears, as a barrier to be overcome” as being a massively destructive force at the heart of the Capitalist ideal. The consequence of being unable to use this mass amount of surplus profit in expansion, was that more money was pumped into speculating on the stock market, in unproductive ventures with absolutely no social good. When the stock market tanked, the money tanked with it.

When an entire financial system is built essentially on fake money, it is no wonder it didn’t last. For Nobel prize winning economists and top level financial experts at the Bank of England or the Federal Reserve, not to notice this, is a massive failure and quite frankly, disastrously unnerving. This isn’t Capitalism. It is a financial sector consumer economy. And out of nowhere, its failings are socialised. Suddenly we blame the public sector. Suddenly government spending on help for single mums has to be cut. Why? What have they done? They didn’t gamble away the Nation’s money on dodgy packages and risky easy credit. In fact, they took on the easy credit, because without it, they can’t afford to eat, what with wages stagnating across the board, and unemployment at a decade long high. Irresponsibility in the Financial sector has been ignored, and blamed entirely on the public sector.

That is how I viewed the crises.

America’s tortured brow

September 13, 2010

– Reagan meets the Taliban and refers to them as Afghanistan’s founding fathers, despite their remarkable ability to deny even the most fundamental of human rights.

Prior to 1986 the UN’s judicial wing, the International Court of Justice was supported by the United States. However, all that changed in 1986. In that year, that fantastic year (my birth), Nicaragua became indescribably pissed off with the US’s involvement in supporting Right Winged terrorists in their country, that they bought a case against the US, to the Court of Justice. The charge was, that:

(a) That the United States, in recruiting, training, arming, equipping, financing, supplying and otherwise encouraging, supporting, aiding, and directing military and paramilitary actions in and against Nicaragua, had violated its treaty obligations to Nicaragua under:
Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter;
Articles 18 and 20 of the Charter of the Organization of American States;
Article 8 of the Convention on Rights and Duties of States;
Article I, Third, of the Convention concerning the Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife.
(b) That the United States had breached international law by
1. violating the sovereignty of Nicaragua by:
armed attacks against Nicaragua by air, land and sea;
incursions into Nicaraguan territorial waters;
aerial trespass into Nicaraguan airspace;
efforts by direct and indirect means to coerce and intimidate the Government of Nicaragua.
2. using force and the threat of force against Nicaragua.
3. intervening in the internal affairs of Nicaragua.
4. infringing upon the freedom of the high seas and interrupting peaceful maritime commerce.
5. killing, wounding and kidnapping citizens of Nicaragua.

The US defended itself, not by denying any of the above, but by suggesting that everything it had done in the region, all the terrorist activity and the dead civilians and the economic warfare, and the torturing, was justified because it was preemptively “exercising a right of collective self-defense” for the benefit of other Latin American countries.

As proceedings were clearly going against the US, the lawyers for this new Roman Empire, who answer to no one but themselves, decided to throw their toys out of the pram, by suggesting (and being the only Country to ever suggest) that the International Court of Justice is “semi-legal, semi-juridical, semi-political body, which nations sometimes accept and sometimes don’t.” This obviously setting themselves up to say that when the court inevitably finds in favour of Nicaragua, the US wont listen. And so that is exactly what happened.

The Court found that the US was guilty of attacking key infrastructure in Nicaragua, and arming, training and financing Right Winged terrorists in the Country, although admits that the US probably wasn’t directing the operations of the terrorists. They simply picked them, funded them, armed them, and then said “okay….GO!“. The court also found that the Nicaraguan government had absolutely no part in any arms flow between Nicaragua and insurgents in other Latin American Countries. It found that no Latin American Country had asked for US support in these matters.

The judgement reads:

“Decides that the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State;”

Decides that, by laying mines in the internal or territorial waters of the Republic of Nicaragua during the first months of 1984, the United States of America has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State, not to intervene in its affairs, not to violate its sovereignty and not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce;

Finds that the United States of America, by producing in 1983 a manual entitled “Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas”, and disseminating it to contra forces, has encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law; but does not find a basis for concluding that any such acts which may have been committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United States of America;

Decides that the United States of America, by the attacks on Nicaraguan territory referred to in subparagraph (4) hereof, and by declaring a general embargo on trade with Nicaragua on 1 May 1985, has committed acts calculated to deprive of its object and purpose the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956;

The list goes on.

America of course disagreed and ignored the verdict. Nicaragua took it to the UN Security Council, asking for all members to respect international law. The US Vetoed it. Because the US don’t like being told what to do. It is the equivalent of a murderer being found guilty, but then walking out of the court because he doesn’t like the verdict and saying “Yeah, I don’t really take it seriously now, i’m going home” and being allowed to.

Nicaragua then took it to the General Assembly, who passed the Resolution by 94 votes to 3. The 3 anti votes, being obviously the US…….. of course you can guess the second….. Israel, and the third being El Salvador, who at the time were the recipient of huge US aid, to fight the Left Wing uprisings in the Country. The US then tried its hardest since the decision, to discredit the ICJ for being a “hostile forum”, simply because the decision went against the US. I wonder if they’d have followed the same path of trying to discredit the ICJ, if the decision went their way. Something tells me they wouldn’t. And so Nicaraguans had to deal with even further American involvement in their Country. Reagan imposed tougher economic sanctions, and denounced the elections in Nicaragua as suspicious, despite the fact that Canada, Ireland, the European Economic Community and religious groups sent to oversee the elections all said that they were perfectly fair and free.

The US Congress then banned all funding to the Right Winged terrorists in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration carried on covertly. They did this by selling arms to Iran and sending the money gained, to the terrorists in Nicaragua. In 1996 it was revealed that the Reagan administration used money raised through drug trafficking to support the terrorists in Nicaragua. And today, those very same conservative Americans who masturbate furiously over the mere mention of Reagan, are claiming Obama is the one pissing on the Constitution, by trying to improve the Healthcare system. Fickle, despicable, moronic; the American Right Wing.

This is why it amazes me, that it was the Middle East that lost it’s mind first, and began fighting America. Muslim Extremists are the equivalent of the barbarians that sacked Rome. Pissed off at their treatment by this wretched superpower, but just as pathetic, barbaric, and evil as the bastards they are fighting.

Two days ago, marked 9 years since the September 11th 2001 terrorist atrocity in New York City. It was unquestionably one of the most vile and senseless attacks the World has witnessed. The inhumanity was beyond comprehension and it strikes me as utterly counter to human compassion and decency, to assume such an attack is justifiable. That being said, I cant help but wonder why we in the Western World are only ever exposed to this one side of the story.

Almost 3000 people died that day in 2001. Since then, and because of that act, 2071 soldiers have died in Afghanistan, 4736 soldiers have died in Iraq, 14,240 civilians have died in Afghanistan, and as many as 104,595 civilians have died in Iraq, with thousands upon thousands more displaced, starving, and living in poverty that they were not in prior to US led military action. One wonders what this has achieved? One also wonders why we never hear about those deaths? Why is a declaration of war considered a legitimate and almost entirely ethical justification for the deaths of almost 200,000 innocent people? Why are America not considered far far worse than the terrorists who attacked on 9/11? 3000 people is one building. 200,000 people, is an entire city. Imagine waking up, in your city, and finding everyone dead. Children included. How is that in any sense justifiable?

Does anyone in the West know the significance of the date April 28th 2003? I doubt it. It was the date that the Americans imposed a curfew on the people of Fallujah (if Iraqis invaded America and demanded people stay in their homes after a certain time, would Americans agree? No, of course not). The people defied the curfew, and the 82nd Airborne shot and killed 17, and injured over 70. Two days later, a protest in Fallujah against the shootings took place. The US shot two people dead. American terrorism and imperialism at its finest. The documentary ‘Fallujah: The hidden massacre’ gives compelling evidence of an even greater evil, committed by the US against ordinary civilians in Fallujah, including children. It shows footage of White phosphorus being used in residential areas, which breaches human rights conventions. It then shows us footage of children and other victims of the attacks, in the areas in which the White phosphorus was used. Ex soldier Jeff Englehart backs up the claims and the evidence by admitting the use of the banned substance. A Labour MP Alice Mahon pressured the British MOD to respond to the claims. The MOD then confirmed that US forces used MK77 during the invasion. The US defended its actions by saying they gave civilians enough time to evacuate. Overall, 39,000 homes were badly damaged and 10,000 destroyed, along with 60 schools, hospitals, and 65 mosques in Fallujah, by the US, in 2004. They have not been reconstructed. 32,000 compensation claims altogether. It is now 2010, and only 2,500 have received any form of compensation. Is America still convinced these people simply ‘hate our freedoms’?

We as a species seem to have instilled in us, a sense of revenge, as well as an impulse to assume we are the ones hard done by. American governments, including the Obama administration, play the innocent far too often. The usual story across the World, from Latin America, to Afghanistan, is America attempts to control a Country for resource purposes, the people fight back, America refers to them as evil, they refer to America as evil, America attacks and refer to themselves as freedom givers, the locals attack back and America refer to them as insurgents and terrorists, America attacks again, the locals attack again, and so on. All the time, Americans are shocked that anyone could dislike them for any reason, after all they assume quite amusingly that they are the beacon of hope and freedom. And so the cycle goes on. What does it achieve? Nothing.

Right now, the Muslim World assumes it is entirely innocent, and America assumes it is entirely innocent. Both are not innocent. Do I consider America to be terrorists? Damn right I do, quite horrific terrorists too. What is unnerving, and deeply regressive in terms of the history of humanity, is that both sides assume they are fighting a morally just war, for their own abstract concept; One side is fighting for their religion – a man made concept, something that doesn’t exist, a fairy tale. The other side is fighting for a Nation State – again, a man made concept that has no scientific or empirical worth, is not biological, is an archaic throw back to Colonialism, and is simply a social construct that certainly is not worth killing or dying for. It is unbelievably short sighted, because it will never end. America as a Nation are never likely to admit they have been utter bastards across the World for the past 50 years. Islam as a religion is never going to accept it has anger issues and takes its fairy man in the sky a little too seriously.

One problem, from a Western perspective, is that since 9/11 at least, we have had this us VS them mentality. We believe the West is right, and the Muslim World are evil bastards who we tried to help, but were beaten down for it. It emanates from America. We never hear stories of American terrorism; of which there are countless examples. We are made to believe the Office of President of the United States of America is an honourable office. It REALLY isn’t. It’s like the office of Roman Emperor. It means you have the power to impose your will on much of the World, through force if necessary and build a public reason for it, but keep the real reason private. It is an office of criminals. Very little more. The castle of the Presidency is built on pillars of sand, not rock. They will not talk about the fact that when Reagan was President, he helped to create the Mujahideen as an anti-communist force, despite the fact that they were also a very violent human rights abusers. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an ex Prime Minister of Afghanistan is currently on the run from America, who have him labelled as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’. This man is responsible for countless deaths. Yet, conversely. according to the book ‘Afghanistan, the bear trap: defeat of a superpower‘, Hekmatyar was the recipient of the most US covert funding (thought to be around half a billion dollars…….. apparently Tea Party activists didn’t really care about this) ever, and total immunity from the CIA for his role in the Drug trade.

During the Afghan-Soviet war, America funding the creation of over 35,000 religious schools throughout Afghanistan, in order to help train people against Soviets by teaching an extreme form of Islam in the hope that what the crazed Muslim extremists are doing now to America, would be aimed entirely at the Soviet Union. When their anger was aimed at the Soviets, America referred to them as Freedom Fighters. The moment that anger spilled over in the direction of America, they suddenly became known as terrorists. But, the Americans created the problems. They didn’t care if terrorism that they funded was being aimed at Americas enemies. They didn’t care how many people would die, from funding the creation of the monster of Islamic Extremism. It suited their needs, so it was fine. Now it is going against them, and they suddenly find it to be an evil that needs to be defeated.

President Eisenhower famously used his farewell speech to warn the US that the ‘Military-industrial complex’, in other words, private military and arms manufacturers, as a concept, runs entirely at odds with the objection of peace. That when a situation arises in which certain people and groups have material interests in being continuously at war, there can never be peace. Eisenhower said:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Today, this is more crucial a point, than at any time during the past fifty years. A fifty years in which the US has never had a moment where it has not been involved in the affairs of other Nations. The vast economy of the military machine, is the very source of international terrorism, and it is based entirely in the US. Eisenhower recognised it. I think we are all beginning to recognise it. Especially after Iraq.

There will never be an end to terrorism. Because terrorism is not limited to extreme Muslims. Terrorism takes on many forms, and one of them includes direct funding from the very superpower that in public appears to be so anti-terrorism, it goes beyond the realm of hypocrisy and becomes laughable. Whilst money exists, whilst Nation States exist, whilst America exists, and whilst Religion exists – terrorism will also exist.

A game played by “adults”

June 8, 2010

According to several sources, our wondrous new coalition government of nasty bastards, are to spend £4m on new “reintegration” centres in Afghanistan, to send unaccompanied Afghanistan child asylum seekers back to Afghanistan. This was announced, on the very same day that BBC News reported the deaths of 10 Nato troops, as fighting in Afghanistan escalated.

In an horrendous move to the right, it isn’t just immigration that the Tories intend to clamp down on, but now quite horrifically, it is children they have taken aim at. Overall, I find the idea of limiting immigration whilst further opening our borders to trade and capital, a silly idea based solely on the Colonial model of Nation States. But then, I find Nation States to be an outdated, and damaging principle. A silly social construct of National pride, that really has its origins around 1534 here in the UK, and is wholly inconsistent with a postmodern World built on Capitalist principles. But children, who really do not have a notion of this largely fatuous and arbitrary system of National borders, or trade, or capital flows, are now becoming the innocent victims of a game played by “grown ups“. I read the article, and just sat thinking how evil the whole idea of Nation States really is.

The Western World has spent decades destroying Afghanistan. We have armed the Taliban against the Soviets, because it suited us. In fact, in 1985, American President Ronald Reagan referred to the Taliban as;

“These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.”

Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted recently, that the creation of the Taliban, was pretty much entirely down to the US. Which in turn, means the problems that Afghanistan, and in a sense, Pakistan now face, are largely due to the policies of the USA, in its vain attempts to defeat whomever they have designated an “enemy” in that particular decade:

“It seemed like a great idea, back in the ’80s to– embolden– and train and equip– Taliban, mujahidin, jihadists against the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. And with our help, and with the Pakistani support– this group– including, at that time, Bin Laden, defeated the Soviet Union.”

A decade later, an American oil company called Unocal attempted talks with the Taliban in an effort to secure the rights to a major oil pipeline that would shoot through Afghanistan. Unocal were forced to back out, after they were criticised for dealing with the Taliban.

Add another decade, and George Bush bombed the entire Country back into the stone age, for no real reason whatsoever, whilst referring to the Taliban, as part of an axis of evil (it’s ironic that a fucking evil President, has the balls to refer to another regime as evil). The very same well equiped, and fundamentalist Taliban, that the US created and armed in the first place. The US didn’t seem to give much of a shit about the Taliban’s human rights record when Reagan was funding them. But then, the same can be said for the rather evil right winged groups throughout Latin America that Reagan’s administration funded. Reagan, should have been thrown in prison, and left to rot miserably in a cell for the rest of his life. Bill Clinton, is just as to blame.

According to the Times of India, 2001;

“In the 1980s, the CIA provided some $5 billion in military aid for Islamic fundamentalist rebels fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, but scaled down operations after Moscow pulled out in 1989. However, Selig Harrison of the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recently told a conference in London that the CIA created the Taliban “monster” by providing some $3 billion for the ultra-fundamentalist militia in their 1994-6 drive to power.”

Apparently Americans are not too keen on their money being spent on keeping their population healthy, but are perfectly fine with $5bn being spent on arming crazed Religious fundamentalists, who are now responsible for mass oppression and child sex trafficking.

Given the not-too-surprising violence that is rife throughout Afghanistan, why would any genuinely decent person, suggest sending children anywhere near a country like that? If I were Prime Minister, not only would I not give two shits about the moronic English Nationalists who must now be at home wanking furiously over this; i’d happily tell them they are scum; i’d also publicly state that there is absolutely no way I am sending any child into a Country whose child sex trafficking market is one of the biggest in the World, regardless of our pathetic sense of National Pride. Regardless of our immigration and asylum policies, regardless of the “burden” to tax payers. Regardless of their skin colour or what language they can or cant speak. They are children. And I could not live with myself, if I had openly agreed to hand a child back to a Country in the midst of war, and losing a battle against child sex trafficking. Especially given that the UK, has had a helping hand in destroying that Country in the first place. It strikes me as being a fundamental problem with the way the World works, that we have billions to give to dirty banks and bad business practice, which in turn contributed to the huge pension packages of people like Sir Freddy Goodwin, who fucked the entire system and now lives in luxury; but we complain incessantly about any money from the tax payer, going to help children who happen to have a different skin colour.

A US State Department Report on Human Trafficking, from 2009, reported:

Afghan boys and girls are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriage to settle debts or disputes, forced begging, as well as forced labor or debt bondage in brick kilns, carpet-making factories, and domestic service. Afghan children are also trafficked to Iran and Pakistan for forced labor, particularly in Pakistan’s carpet factories, and forced marriage. Boys are promised enrollment in Islamic schools in Pakistan, but instead are trafficked to camps for paramilitary training by extremist groups. Afghan women and girls are trafficked within the country and to Pakistan and Iran for commercial sexual exploitation and temporary marriages. Some Afghan men force their wives or daughters into prostitution. Afghan men are trafficked to Iran and Pakistan for forced labor and debt bondage, as well as to Greece for forced labor in the agriculture or construction sectors. Afghanistan is also a destination for women and girls from Iran, Tajikistan, and possibly China trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Tajik women are also believed to be trafficked through Afghanistan to Pakistan and Iran for commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficked Iranian women transit Afghanistan en route to Pakistan.

Not only that, but according to the World Fact Book:

Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, and the Afghan Government’s inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan’s living standards from its current level, among the lowest in the world.

It does not matter how the children found their way to the UK. Whether they were trafficked here, whether they were sent by their parents, or whether they found their own way here out of desperation, it is irrelevant. Motives, are irrelevant. They are children. They are not a pawn in an adult game of economic warfare and its obsession with labeling people “illegal” if they weren’t born here. If a couple of pence in every pound of tax money goes to helping these children, rather than sending them to hell, then good! We are a decent country, with a sense of compassion built into us. We are not a country of the social Right. The Liberal Democrats, should be utterly ashamed of this.

This represents a major shift to the social Right, for the Tories. It shows that they have indeed wore a moderate mask for the past few years; hidden behind moderate centre-right rhetoric, but scratch gently below the surface, and we are confronted with the same old vicious, nasty party of old. A party without a sense of human decency, who focus solely on economically driven policies rather than human policies.

Left Wing Progressives, should work together to force real economic and social policy change. We need to understand how much the West is to blame for the hellhole of Afghanistan. We cannot simply exploit countries for the benefit of our business interests, rip the country to shreds, and then throw their children onto the scrap heap. Afghanistan has spent decades as a pawn in a game played by “adults“.

The Reagan Legacy

March 2, 2010

Ronald Reagan, in my estimation, was a nightmare. He is adored as a grandfather like figure who transformed America, whilst his equally as evil minion, Thatcher “transformed” Britain. A Corporate bitch at best, a war criminal for what he did with Guatemala at worst. Reagan once commented on Guatemala:
“President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. … I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”
President Rios Montt, staunch anticommunist, and funded almost entirely by the Reagan administration, was according to a Roman Catholic investigation, guilty of commanding widespread torture, rape, political murders and genocide against the indigenous population if they happened to show left wing sympathies.
Greg Grandin, a reputable historian found that:
“In Nicaragua, the U.S.-backed Contras decapitated, castrated, and otherwise mutilated civilians and foreign aid workers. Some earned a reputation for using spoons to gorge their victims eye’s out. In one raid, Contras cut the breasts of a civilian defender to pieces and ripped the flesh off the bones of another.”
Quite ironically, one of America’s most wanted terrorists, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was funded almost exclusively by the Reagan administration, whilst also given full immunity for cocaine trafficking, people trafficking and other horrific offences, purely because he didn’t really like the Soviets either.

Whilst Reagan was quite happily knowingly funding rape, death, and genocide over in Latin America; back in America he was launching an all out assault on organised labour. His Chief of Staff (ex-chairman of Merrill Lynch, and vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange) Donald Regan helped build policy around this new Neoliberalist ideal. In 1981, air traffic controllers went on strike to demand better working conditions. 12,000 in all. When 12,000 people go on strike, ones instant reaction is that perhaps management isn’t all that great. 12,000 people are not holding the industry to ransom; the management is holding the people to ransom. Reagan didn’t see it that way. He had them all fired. As a result, management could now just replace striking workers, meaning workers didn’t dare speak out against poor working conditions. Which meant that management could do whatever the fuck they wanted. The median real wage did not grow, during the entire 1980s. But, the gap between rich and poor more than doubled, and the homeless rate was at the highest in decades. As a result of his tax cuts for the rich, the deficit reached record highs. After forcing a recession on the American public, he then managed to cut Federal low income household funds, by 84%.

What about the middle class? According to research undertaken by Wallace Peterson, author of “The Macroeconomic legacy of Reaganomics“, The middle class share of the economy in 1980 was 61.7%. In 1985, that had shrunk to 58.2%. Similarly, the poverty rate under President Carter reached a peak of 12.1% before falling to 11.9% by the end of his term in Office. Under Reagan, between 1981-1986, the poverty rate shot up to 14.7%. Unemployment under Carter started falling and finished at 7.5% by the end of his term. Between 1981-1986, under Reagan, unemployment shot up to 8.1%.
Under Obama, the unemployment rate has dropped from 10% to 9.7%, whilst U.S. Department of Commerce states that 4th quarter GDP growth went from 5.7% to 5.9%, the best rate of growth in seven years. Obama doesn’t have Fox News on his side, Reagan still does. That’s the difference.

What Reagan essentially did, with his ideal of cutting the size of government and slashing aid to those who needed it most, was to bankroll the rich, spit on the poor, create a new class of homeless people, and use this new smaller government (which in fact, had more federal employees than any government before it) to undertake the task of destroying any left wing opposition in Latin America. That was the American Government’s new mission. Constitutional? Apparently so, if you ask Republican America.

Economist Mark Weisbrot is quoted as stating that Reagan’s economic policies were “mostly a failure”. Free-market-failure-denial-sufferers, will never accept that Reagan was an utter failure. Weisbrot goes on to point out that: “The median wage was flat, and there was a massive redistribution of income, with wealth going to the top one or two percent of the population

Was he the most popular President of the past century as some conservatives would have us believe? No. He never reached the 90% approval rating that even George W Bush and his father achieved, and Bill Clinton managed roughly the same rating during his two terms, surpassing Reagan in the second half of each of their terms.

The hysteria about the debt and stimulus across the U.S, is crippling the recovery. America needs more stimulus. As does Britain. It didn’t go far enough. What the World doesn’t need, is another Reagan or Thatcher propagating the rumour that neoliberalism is the only way out of recession, because for millions upon millions of people, it certainly isn’t. During a recession of such huge proportions, a lack of easily affordable healthcare (a universal system), lack of a safety net, and lack of foreclosure federal help, means the majority is far more at risk from financial ruin and psychological depression. One of the many reasons i’ll never vote Conservative.

Reagan’s legacy was one of homelessness, selfishness, arrogance, lack of compassion or empathy, hate, Corporate greed, death, and misery. All in the name of an economic policy disastrously known as “trickle down”. History will remember both him and Thatcher as little beacons of horror and misery. That’s all.

Obama now needs to man up, recognise that he’s President, recognise that the Democrats control Congress, and make sure the Republicans – as well as being a laughing stock for the entire World – know that they are largely irrelevant now.