Landmarks of Loss and Love: Being Human in Horrible Times

Written by Chris Floyd 28 November 2014 2880 Hits

Moscow-based American writer and critic John Freedman has penned a tremendously powerful piece on his blog, Russian Culture in Landmarks. Writing a response to an article by Russian-born writer Martha Gessen in the New York Times, Freedman has encapsulated, in so many ways, the experience of those of us who, in this grim and ugly century, have "lost" both our countries -- the America that gave us birth, and the Russia which, as with Rilke, became our "spiritual homeland" -- to bizarre, brutal, murderous, belligerent, xenophobic, mean-spirited, wilfully ignorant perversions of themselves. In America, in Russia, and in so many other places around the world, what is best in human nature has indeed been “captured by aliens and stuffed into a trunk” — to borrow Freedman’s chillingly apt evocation of the poem by Alexander Timofeevsky. Freedman writes:

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Battle Cry: Candidate Paul Appeases the Masters of War

Written by Chris Floyd 25 November 2014 2527 Hits

Oh dear. Rand Paul, favorite candidate of those who dream of an anti-imperial coalition of hardcore libertarians and the antiwar left, has popped many a bubble this week with his proposed Senate bill to declare war on ISIS.Supporters will doubtless say that Paul (like another young politician on the make who served as a blank screen for his followers' aspirations for genuine hope and change) is merely playing "11th dimensional chess" with the move, trying to put America's war machine back on a Constitutional footing, while outflanking potential rivals for the GOP nomination who might otherwise have painted him as "soft" on killing large amounts of people with massive amounts of expensive and profitable machinery. But Paul is not simply calling the war machine's bluff. As Antiwar.com points out, he has already been supporting the American return to war in Iraq; he now wants to codify it, constitutionalize it -- and, remarkably, expand it beyond the admittedly porous "limitations" that the Warmonger-in-Chief has placed on the effort so far. As with every other intervention in the West's great Terror War, even the militarists' own intelligence services are pointing out the obvious fact that the war on ISIS is actually strengthening extremism throughout the region and elsewhere. Yet Paul -- who has garnered broad national interest chiefly through his antiwar and anti-imperial rhetoric -- wants to double down on the new war. He could have moved to have Obama impeached for...

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Red Mist Rising: Inside the World's Most Powerful Terrorist Organization

Written by Chris Floyd 19 November 2014 3409 Hits

Glenn Greenwald notes the blizzard of bellicose propaganda pieces pouring from the High Media lately concerning the Peace Laureate's latest flurry of drone killings. In story after story, headline after headline, we hear of "militants" slaughtered by the dead-eyed machinery that floats above the distant villages of the "recalcitrant tribes" who bedevil the Empire with their disobedience -- or, in the case of the drone campaign, which overwhelmingly kills innocent civilians, with their mere existence.Greenwald draws on a new article by Steve Coll in the New Yorker, which provides a detailed -- and damning -- look at the Progressive Way of State Terror as practiced by our noble Nobelist in the White House. Coll in turn draws on the remarkable efforts of photographer Noor Behram, who for years has been going to the actual sites of American drone strikes to record the truth behind the horseshit headlines. As Greenwald notes:

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Children of Lies: Fragments From the Long and Wasted Years

Written by Chris Floyd 06 November 2014 3121 Hits

Below is a slightly revised version of my column in the latest print edition of Counterpunch Magazine.In the course of a massive clean-out the other day, I came upon a box of overstuffed folders and musty papers — copies of some of the first pieces I’d ever had published, going back 35 years. For almost two decades they’d lain unseen in the bottom of an old trunk in my parents’ basement, stored there during one of the several peripatetic upheavals that punctuated my early adulthood. Then a freak flood hit the town, and most of the papers were damaged beyond rescue, fused into bundles that couldn’t be prised apart without crumbling into pieces. Only one small box made it through; it had been sitting on top of a cache of love letters and other tender memorabilia destroyed by the water. This survivor I duly carted back across the ocean, to my home in England, where my peripateticism had come to an end. There it was promptly relegated to a new dark corner, to molder and yellow for several years more — until last week’s day of cleaning.Naturally, I took the opportunity to let nostalgia draw me away from my chores, and spent an hour or so leafing through the articles. But beyond the bemusement at my early style (an odd mix of hellfire preacher and Gore Vidal manqué), I was most struck by the grim continuity between then and now. The same themes, and in many cases virtually the same content, sounded over and over, like “an echo from the future,” as Pasternak put it. With only a...

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Revenge of the Interceptors: Oligarch's Team Mugs Renegade Taibbi

Written by Chris Floyd 31 October 2014 4599 Hits

A few random thoughts on the imbroglio over Matt Taibbi leaving the media stable of oligarch Pierre Omidyar -- and the remarkable response to this by the oligarch's remaining celebs, led by Glenn Greenwald. 1. The Intercept article on Taibbi's departure -- bylined under the names of Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and John Cook, but almost certainly written mostly by Greenwald -- is, at its core, a scurrilous piece of work. Purporting to be a boldly transparent piece -- it even (lightly) criticizes the Boss! -- it is instead, transparently, an attempt by the oligarch's organization to get its side of the story out first before the famously acerbic Taibbi makes any statement. 2. It is also a means for the authors to laud themselves as "fiercely independent journalists" (yes, Greenwald actually wrote that about himself) who, despite being radical bohemians who "view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain," were able to heroically grapple with their employer and procure for themselves "a sizable budget, operational autonomy, and a team of talented journalists, editors, research specialists, and technologists working collaboratively and freely in the manner its founders always envisioned" … unlike that loser Taibbi, who obviously lacked their moxie and got slapped around by the Big Boss Man.3. The poison shiv of the article is buried deep in the acres of Greenwald's ever-deadening slabs of prose (as well as deep in Taibbi's back): the accusation of...

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Pale Riders: The Moral Blindness of our Leading Liberals

Written by Chris Floyd 29 October 2014 3497 Hits

Behold the quintessential earnest progressive liberal in the highest moral dudgeon: Digby railing with thunderous fury at the possibility (the very distinct possibility) that Barack Obama is going to suppress the Senate's report on CIA torture. Digby quotes the recent letter from some of Obama's fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates, who are calling on Obama to release the report (and close the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, for good measure.) Worthy sentiments and justifiable anger indeed. But then Digby adds this gloss:

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Being Human: Supporting the Vital Work of Arthur Silber

Written by Chris Floyd 28 October 2014 3891 Hits

Friends, I hope you will attend to this brief but important message. One of our very best, most insightful, powerful writers is now in extremely low water. Long-time readers of this column will know that Arthur Silber has faced a relentless barrage of health difficulties in recent years. He is once more in extremely poor shape, and faces the very real risk of losing his home — a fate which, as he points out in his latest post, will effectively be the end of him. How can we afford to lose such a voice: humane, caring, witty, wise – and always open, searching, ever-more inquisitive? Arthur has something to say, something worth hearing, worth thinking about, worth taking in and acting upon. His work offers something beyond the bounds of ordinary political commentary. I think his is one of the most vital voices we have today, in any format, anywhere.Times are hard all over, I know. Especially for the small band of readers who still cast an eye toward this blog. There are no 1 Percenters here. Many of the regular readers are in straitened circumstances themselves. I understand that. But I do ask that if anyone out there who sees this feels that they can contribute something toward keeping Arthur’s work — and life — going, then please head over to his blog and throw something in the hat. Thanks.

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The Dark Alliance of Media and Empire: The ‘Dissident’ Smear of Gary Webb

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2014 3186 Hits

I assume that most of the rapidly dwindling number of people who read this blog have already read Tarzie’s takedown of The Intercept’s curiously CIA-slanted smear of Gary Webb, who revealed the Agency’s instrumental involvement in the 1980s crack epidemic that devastated America’s inner cities in order to fund the illegal Contra war in Nicaragua.

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Negative Capability: Glimpses Beyond the Brutalities of Power

Written by Chris Floyd 15 October 2014 3412 Hits

When you write regularly of politics and empire, you necessarily spend much time steeped in the very worst aspects of human nature. The reality of power is overwhelmingly brutal, ugly and negative; and if as a writer you wish to engage with reality, then the negative will be prominent in your work. I make no apologies for that — except perhaps to apologize that my skills are not sufficient to convey the full “negativity” of our reality. So when I hear the charge that my work is “negative,” I shrug my shoulders. I’m writing about politics and power; how could it not be negative?But of course, anyone who spends time raging against the depredations of power, against the negativity of our reality, possesses somewhere within them a more positive vision of what life is, or what it could be, both on public level and in the deeper, murkier depths of the individual personality. It is the violation and degradation of this vision by the brutishness of our reality that evokes the outrage in the first place. If these more positive intimations did not exist, then there would be no cause for anger or resistance; there would be nothing but a nihilistic acceptance of the unchangeable ugliness of reality. To me, such positive intimations are always elusive (and allusive), on the margins of perception, seen in the glimpse and the glance. They can’t be captured or hammered into dogma, but are part of a ceaseless process; a process of change and churning, of “breakage and mutation,” of new...

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