Category Archives: History

Quote of the day: Neoloberalism and the Clintons


From Robin Corey, writing in Jacobin:

[N]eoliberalism, of course, can mean a great many things, many of them associated with the Right. But one of its meanings — arguably, in the United States, the most historically accurate — is the name that a small group of journalists, intellectuals, and politicians on the Left gave to themselves in the late 1970s in order to register their distance from the traditional liberalism of the New Deal and the Great Society.

The original neoliberals included, among others, Michael Kinsley, Charles Peters, James Fallows, Nicholas Lehmann, Bill Bradley, Bruce Babbitt, Gary Hart, and Paul Tsongas. Sometimes called “Atari Democrats,” these were the men — and they were almost all men — who helped to remake American liberalism into neoliberalism, culminating in the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

These were the men who made Jonathan Chait what he is today. Chait, after all, would recoil in horror at the policies and programs of mid-century liberals like Walter Reuther or John Kenneth Galbraith or even Arthur Schlesinger, who claimed that “class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination.” We know this because he so resolutely opposes the more tepid versions of that liberalism that we see in the Sanders campaign.

It’s precisely the distance between that lost world of twentieth century American labor-liberalism and contemporary liberals like Chait that the phrase “neoliberalism” is meant, in part, to register.

And now for something completely different. . .


Would you believe Germans vs The Donald.

The principal German in Question is Jan Böhmermann, a political satirist with a regular late night TV show [Neo Magazin Royale] who is currently facing charges of lèse-majesté [really] for allegedly besmirching the alleged honor of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a truly beautiful sendup since pulled offline by his German network.

Böhmermann’s sin was to respond to a complaint from the Terrible Turk that a gently satirical song was defamatory with a poem that truly was defamatory [referring to penis size, sexual practices, and much more] as proof that his original vocal offering wasn’t defamatory.

The criminal charges sought by Ankara couldn’t be pressed without the permission of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who promptly knuckled under to Erdogan, all the while decrying the statute in question and promising to see it overturned. . .afterwards.

Ignacio Chapela, a friend and UC Berkeley prof the university once tried famously to oust because of research he conducted that Monsanto didn’t like, forwarded this link from Switzerland, where he’s currently conducting research.

From Neo Magazin Royale [and it’s in English]:

BE DEUTSCH! [Achtung! Germans on the rise!]

Program notes:

The world is going completely nuts! Europe feels threatened by 0.3% refugees, the USA are about to elect a man, of who no one really knows who is pulling the strings under the toupee and just as if that was not bad enough, Germany of all nations has to disabuse the world of how to behave morally right. I mean GERMANY! They did not even win one single world war in history!

Obama’s arrogance and bin Laden’s murder


We can’t say we have been disappointed by Barack Obama because we never had any great expectations of him, in part because he was a product of the Chicago Democratic Party political machine, one of the most corrupt institutions we’ve ever investigated.

Chicago’s organized crime syndicate was not, like the more traditional Sicilian crime families, a monolithically ethnic operation. Al Capone was of Neopolitan heritage, not Sicilian, and the Outfit, as syndicate was known, included Jews [the Korshak brothers], a Welshman [Murray Humphreys], a Japanese [Ken Eto], and even a Greek [Gus Alex] — though none of African descent.

To the more traditional La Cosa Nostra families, the Outfit was like a crazy half-brother who had fallen in with some bad, though dangerous, friends..

The Outfit was on life support when Obama was on the rise, and we’ve never heard anything to link him to the enfeebled syndicate. But the political milieu nurtured by the Outfit remains alive and well, and corruption is still endemic, though the beneficiaries are more like to meet in Wall Street boardrooms and country clubs than in suites in mob-run hotels.

So when Obama was elected, we were mostly by the fact that this country had finally elected a person of color, while recognizing that Obama’s color would also useful to Republican strategists as a tool to play on the nation’s never-healed racial divides.

And given his close ties to Rahm Emanuel, a man of violent instincts with a terrorist for a father, and his corporate connections. we figured Obama would offer little change from business as usual on Pennsylvania Avenue.

We were confirmed in our suspicions when he named Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, a violent interventionist by nature and a tool of Wall Street, as demonstrated by her record in the Senate.

Nowhere were Obama’s failures more evident than in his handling of events in the Mideast, southwestern Asia, and North Africa, where he seemed convinced that more violence would somehow lead to peace.

Evidence was already clear that forcing regime change only lead to more violence, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, yet the Obama/Clinton team pushed for just that in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. While Egyptian violence was quickly contained by another round of regime change restoring the status quo ante of a military dictatorship, the tragedies that are Libya and Syria continue unabated, with the violence extending to the streets of Paris and San Bernardino.

All of which is a very long preamble to a fascinating interview of a journalist who rose to fame for his investigation of another tragedy of another failed American military intervention, the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

A Pulitzer Prize winner and the dean of American investigative journalists, Seymour Hersch is still going strong at 79, and in this interview with Thom Hartmann he describes an act of extrajudicial murder ordered by Obama himself, a killing that epitomizes all that’s wrong with American foreign policy and yet another reminder of what to expect should Hillary Clinton claim the White House.

From The Big Picture:

Great Minds/Seymour Hersh – Bin Laden- A Prisoner of War. It Was a Hit…

Program notes:

Seymour Hersh, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, joins Thom. Seymour Hersh, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, joins Thom. For tonight’s Conversations with Great Minds I’m joined by one of America’s most importatn journalists – legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Mr. Hersh has broken some of the most important stories of the past half century – and his revelations abou the My Lai Massacre and Abu Ghraib prison quite literally changed the course of American and world history. He’s also won numerous awards for his work – including the Pulitzer Prize – and is also the author of a number of books – including his latest “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” – a deep dive into the real story of the Obama years.

Drones, deaths, and the toxic legacy of Vietnam


The Vietnam war was America’s first and last experiment in allowing journalists unrestricted access to one of this country’s imperial wars.

Because journalists were able to hitch rides on helicopters and air transport planes, they saw death in the raw, and the images and stories they produced led directly to a militant antiwar movement and massive demonstrations, often violently repressed.

Journalists in subsequent wars to consolidate the global reach of the United States were tightly controlled, leading to the concept of embedding, where journalists were assigned to particular units and obligated to remain with them for the duration — the noxious notion of “embedding.”

Why noxious? Because living constantly with the same group for an extended period leads to identification with the group. Rather than cultivating the detachment so prized by journalists during the Vietnam War, reporters in America’s Iraqi invasions ate, drank, slept, partied with and depended on the same small group, invariably leading to an experience of war as us against them.

Couple with the ongoing downsizing of the increasingly consolidated mainstream media, journalism became less about questioning and much more about cheerleading.

Meanwhile, war itself was undergoing a transformation, epitomized in that radical new weapon of American war-making, the pilotless drone, operated from afar with joysticks by technosavvy geeks who grew up on videogames.

But that brave, new warfare exacted a price on both sides of the video screen, and digital warfare became a force for mobilizing its victims, a lesson the military failed to learn from World War II, where mass bombings of German cities failed to destroy civilian morale and even helped in prolonging German resistance.

In this, the latest edition of RT’s Going Underground, host Afshin Rattansi interviews Cian Westmoreland, an Air Force veteran who built the communications infrastructure of the drone program.

What he experienced there led him to become an antiwar activist and a leading opponent of drone warfare:

‘It Feels Like Murder’ – Obama Drone Program Whistleblower

Program notes:

Afshin Rattansi goes underground on drones. Cian Westmoreland, whistleblower and former drone technician for Obama’s top secret drone program talks about the indiscriminate targeting that means that civilians are dying when they are searching for terrorists. Plus how responsible are drones in the radicalisation of civilians?

Puerto Rico, red meat to predatory banksters


The power of predators to draft American financial laws should be apparent to anyone by now, but it’s still shocking to see how viciously those laws impact the lives of men, women, and children who are both citizens and colonial subjects.

Puerto Rico is the classic example, a territory whose natives are by birthright U.S. citizens, yet are simultaneously exempt from laws created to protect citizens who happen to be born in states rather than territories.

Leave it to John Oliver and his gifted staff of researchers to get to bottom of things, with a little musical help from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the hottest ticket on Broadway.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Puerto Rico

Program notes:

Puerto Rico is suffering a massive debt crisis. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins John Oliver to call for relief.

Headline of the day III: Not on the Grassy Knoll


From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Tabloid says it has proof: Ted Cruz’s father is mystery man in Lee Harvey Oswald photo

  • National Enquirer claims photo is proof that Rafael B. Cruz was standing alongside JFK assassin
  • Cruz campaign dismisses allegation as ‘garbage’
  • Cruz’s father had been pro-Castro but had turned on him when Cuban leader said he was a communist

Ocean plastic levels may be greater than thought


We’ve been concerned about plastics for years, in part because, well, no other material epitomizes so well the nature of the cancerous consumer society decried by Aldous Huxley in the quotation that flies on this blog’s flag.

In addition to their role as chemicals making us fatter, giving us cancer, lowering our sperm counts, triggering the growth of breasts in young boys, and so much more, plastics are also a plague upon the environment.

Back when esnl was knee high to a grasshopper, whenever we needed some coin to buy a comic book or a candy bar, we would go out and hunt for pop bottles, with each one giving us two cents at a time when candy bars cost a nickel, comic books a dime, and a four-hour Saturday afternoon matinee at the Plaza Theater was fourteen cents.

But plastic has replaced the bottle, and unlike glass which, even when broken, breaks down into mere sand, plastics work their way through the environment, polluting at each step of the way.

And so for Earth Day, we bring you this, the latest indictment of the substance that also gave rise to one of the most quoted movie lines of our youth.

From the University of Delaware:

Plastics are all around us. They are found in containers and packing materials, children’s toys, medical devices and electronics.

Unfortunately, plastics are also found in the ocean.

A 2015 paper published in Science estimates that anywhere from 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic were dumped into the ocean in 2010 alone. One metric ton equals approximately 2,200 pounds.

As people celebrate Earth Day on Friday, April 22, new research by University of Delaware physical oceanographer Tobias Kukulka provides evidence that the amount of plastic in the marine environment may be greater that previously thought.

Troubling tiny travelers

Plastic in the ocean becomes brittle over time and breaks into tiny fragments. Slightly buoyant, these microplastics often drift at the surface where they can be mistaken for food by birds, fish or other marine wildlife. Microplastics have turned up in the deep ocean and in Arctic ice, too.

“You have stuff that’s potentially poisonous in the ocean and there is some indication that it’s harmful to the environment, but scientists don’t really understand the scope of this problem yet,” explains Kukulka, an expert on ocean waves and currents, and associate professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment’s School of Marine Science and Policy.

One technique scientists use to try and quantify how much plastic is in the marine environment is to drag a tow net over the surface for a few miles in one of the world’s five ocean gyres, then count the number of plastic fragments. This number is then used to calculate a concentration considered representative of the amount of plastic in the area.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading