April 30, 2011

Israel: Latest victim of America’s weird foreign policy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 5:44 pm

Don’t even get me started on America’s failed foreign policy in the Middle East. Just try to name even one country east of Suez that America hasn’t tampered with and made a mess of. “Israel?” you might say. Yeah right. Just imagine what Israel would be like today if America had resisted the temptation to interfere with its policies, the direction it was taking and its priorities.

America, like some strange King Midas in reverse, seems to have completely screwed up everything that it touches in the Middle East. And, yes, this statement appears to include Israel too.

First of all, in any kind of sane world Israel would have gotten its hand slapped for bombing the USS Liberty back in 1967. But it didn’t. 34 U.S. sailors were deliberately and callously murdered by Israeli armed forces and apparently no hand-slapping was involved — with the possible exception of some bizarre spy vs. spy story from Wayne Madsen about America then sinking an Israel submarine in retaliation and then Israel sinking a French submarine to get even and also sinking a U.S. cargo ship returning empty from Iran after dumping off tons of weapons from Reagan to the Ayatollah, thus getting in the last word.

If this bizarre story is true, however, America’s and Israel’s leaders’ foreign policies and moral compasses are even more off-base than we thought!

And after the USS Liberty incident, Israel’s leadership must have been on top of the world. “Wow!” they must have said to themselves in stunned disbelief. “If Americans let us get away with deliberately murdering 34 U.S. sailors in cold blood, they’ll let us get away with anything! Let’s go for it guys.” And apparently they did.

America over the past several decades has appeared to support every single bad thing that Israel has done since its inception. “America NEVER sends us to our room without any supper — no matter how badly we behave!” seemed to the message that America sent to Israel’s leadership after the USS Liberty was heartlessly attacked, bombed and strafed.

So Israel, like some naughty child, was allowed to pull as many wings off as many Middle East butterflies at it wanted to. That mess in Lebanon in the 1980? That mess in Lebanon in 2006? The heartless bombing of Gaza with deadly white phosphorus that killed hundreds of women and children in 2008? Rachel Corrie’s death-by-bulldozer in 2003? Go for it!

And even more important, Israel has suffered inestimable harm to its international reputation as a religious nation. And it has suffered economic harm. And moral harm. And its citizens have become racists and murderers without even a qualm. The whole country looks like South Africa during Apartheid or Warsaw during World War II. Yuck!

Not to mention the price Israel has to pay as its returning soldiers suffer from PTSS.

Not to mention the price Israel has to pay as its entire civilian population suffers from PTSS!

“But Jane,” you might say, “if Israelis hadn’t fought back, then Palestinians would have thrown them into the sea!” Not true. That “Poor Me, underdog, David vs. Goliath” story is getting more and more unbelievable every day days. Did David own a whole fleet of F16 jets or over 200 nuclear weapons? I think not.

Not only that, but a huge number of Israelis these days are voluntarily throwing their own selves into the sea. We will never know how many Israelis with European roots have packed up their families in the middle of the night and moved back to Europe where it is safe and where Europe’s leadership doesn’t use them as fall-guys for some real estate grab and their children won’t grow up to be bigots. I’ve heard that there are more Israelis living in Berlin right now than there were even back in the 1930s.

In an article entitled, “Three Myths of Israel’s Insecurity,” Ira Chernus lists three frequently-told stories that are actually purely myths. “Myth Number 1: Israel’s existence is threatened by the ever-present possibility of military attack. In fact, there’s no chance that any of Israel’s neighbors will start a war to wipe out Israel….

“Myth Number 2: The personal safety of every Jewish Israeli is threatened daily by the possibility of violent attack. In fact, according to Israeli government statistics, since the beginning of 2009 only one Israeli civilian (and two non-Israelis) have been killed by politically motivated attacks inside the green line (Israel’s pre-1967 border). Israelis who live inside that line go about their daily lives virtually free from such worry.

“Myth Number 3: Israel’s existence is threatened by worldwide efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Early in 2010, Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that the country was not ‘suffering from terror or from an immediate military threat.’”

Now let’s talk about the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) economic movement worldwide — where both Israeli and American companies who support apartheid are being boycotted. This movement is putting Israel in more danger than possibilities of violent attack. And the BDS movement is a direct result of Israel having been influenced by America’s ineffective, weird and immoral foreign policies in the Middle East. And I have the YouTube flash mob videos to prove it!

Of course I could continue to cite you cases in point here all night about how Israel’s military, economic and racist policies are failing it bigtime all over the Middle East, and also in the eyes of world opinion, with regard to Israel’s military and foreign policy strategy. For instance, there’s the case of the new Arab Spring movements that appear to have been originally inspired by Arab hatred of injustice in Palestine. However, I am more of a philosophical person than a military fact-checker or foreign-policy wank and would prefer to focus on investigating how Israel’s American-inspired-and-funded cruel, unjust and apartheid policies appear to be also destroying Israel from within as well as allegedly from without.

Most practicing Jews — both outside of Israel and inside it — are religious and righteous people who put a heavy emphasis on observing mitzvahs and pursuing justice. And slowly but surely these practicing Jews are becoming fed up with the vicious persecution of Palestinians that currently makes Israel more resemble Warsaw than the Promised Land.

And not only that, but Israelis have stolen — stolen! — millions of olive trees from Palestinian farmers. You gotta sink pretty low in order to steal some poor farmer’s olive trees. Where in the Talmud does it say that olive-tree-stealing is kosher? Nowhere!

Arab Jews in Israel are also getting fed up with being prejudiced against — even though they are in the majority in Israel. In an article published recently by a group of Arab Jews in Israel, young Mizrahi Jews stated that, “We believe that, as Mizrahi Jews in Israel, our struggle for economic, social, and cultural rights rests on the understanding that political change cannot depend on the Western powers who have exploited our region and its residents for many generations.”

Arab Jews are also getting prejudiced against in Israel — remember those famous ringworm experiments that maimed thousands of Jewish children of Arab origin? The ones where children were irradiated deliberately? And paid for by America?

It’s not only Christian Arabs and Muslim Arabs that are getting kicked around in Jerusalem. Arab Jews are getting kicked around there too. That’s just wrong!

For decades, America has offered Israeli leaders billions and billions of dollars if Israel only will serve as its cats-paws in the Middle East. And Israeli leaders just hold out their hands, happily selling out their country, willingly corrupted by wealth.

And then there’s that infamous Subaru ad where a Zionist driver thinks it’s just peachy to run over Palestinian children. Now tell me again how Israelis could have sunk so low morally? It’s amazing what the power of American money will do when it is waved in your face.

Just like Americans have been corrupted into believing that killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of women and children in the Middle East is both necessary and cool, Israelis have also sold their birthright as moral human beings in order to serve bogus U.S. foreign policy goals in the Middle East that do NOT serve Israel’s own national interests at all — nor America’s either.

PS: Here’s a link to an article written by Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, “As a Holocaust Survivor, AIPAC Does Not Speak for Me”: “At the end of one of my first journeys to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2004, I endured a shocking experience at Ben-Gurion Airport. I never imagined that Israeli security forces would abuse a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor, but they held me for five hours, and strip-searched and cavity-searched every part of my naked body. The only shame these security officials expressed was to turn their badges around so that their names were invisible….”


April 28, 2011

“Don’t you know there’s a war going on?”

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:25 pm

Say the words “National Park” in front of a New York City resident and he (or she) will have a Rorschach reaction and immediately conjure up images of grouchy grizzly bears, surly rattlesnakes, and insatiable bloodthirsty mosquitoes lurking in vast patches of poison ivy.

There is, however, a slim hope that they can be weaned away from their natural aversion to any location perceived by them as harboring a vast array of examples of photosynthesis at work and that ultimately they can be convinced to visit a countervailing example which can be found in Richmond California where the Department of the Interior has established the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park to commemorate the effort civilian workers provided for America’s participation in the FDR era defense of the Four Freedoms.

Visitors to this unique tourist attraction won’t need to lug along a bird-spotting guidebook nor a botanist’s knowledge of poison oak and/or ivy. The only plant they will see is a facility for making Ford automobiles that was converted into a segment of the Kaiser Shipbuilding assembly line that was located in the East Bay section of the San Francisco Bay.

Park visitors should bring a curiosity about history and a vivid imagination, which is tempered by accurate period information. Those visitors who augment their tourist experience by conjuring up Busby Berkeley-ish images of a beehive of homogenous and harmonious workers toiling in synchronized hall of mirrors type images, will have their illusions shattered by park ranger Betty Reid Soskin. She will tell visitors about the animosity and rancor that was rampant during the period of unified purpose. She should know; she can provide a vivid “what it was really like” description of the WWII events because she was part of it. That last sentence may raise the hackles of even the most amateurish fact finder, but you read it right.

If anyone had attended the 20th birthday party for Betty Reid Soskin, they might have faced a wall of incredulity if they had (accurately) predicted that almost seventy years later, she, as the oldest National Park Ranger in America, would be blogging about her work and the preparations for receiving her doctoral degree at an institute of higher learning because, in November of 1941, she would, in the next four years, have to contend with problems of race and gender discrimination, minimum wages, inflation and cost of living raises, and seven day work weeks.

According to our recollections of some serendipity reading of back issues of Time and Newsweek, dated soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, some politicians advanced the idea that the (relatively) recent laws, enacting overtime pay after 40 hours of work within one week, should be suspended for the duration of the war in order for workers not to be guilty of war profiteering. Ironically, later in World War II, workers had to call wildcat strikes because their regular wages were not keeping pace with the War Time rate of inflation.

Dealing with capitalists on wage issues brings to mind a Laurel and Hardy comedy routine in which a coin would be flipped to make a decision. Laurel (or was it the other one) would toss the coin and the conditions of the call (Heads – I win; tails – you loose!) would be given to the other guy while the coin was flipping through the air.

Many years ago, there was an Oped piece in the New York Times that related an insidious example of discrimination in America at work during World War II. A roadwork gang in Kansas was doing a very commendable day’s work and came upon an isolated rural café. The officer in charge of the German prisoners of war and their guards decided that everyone had earned a break. The café owner permitted the German prisoners to come in and eat, but refused to let the Negro American guards come inside his establishment.

[When Republicans take their oath for a political office don’t they have the option of inserting this additional wording: “I solemnly swear to uphold the rights of the rich and protect and defend them from the insatiable greedy demands of the loathsome and reprehensible workers, so help me God!”? What true fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers football team would object to that codicil?]

Would Ayn S. Rand condone the use of World War II as a lever for increasing a capitalists’ profit margin? Are wild bears Catholic?

The expression “Rosie the Riveter” was popularized during the war by a Norman Rockwell painting used as a cove for the May 29, 1943 edition of the Saturday Evening Post magazine and by the “Rosie the Riveter” song performed by the Four Vagabonds.

During World War II, 747 ships were built by the Richmond shipyards.

The park is seeking stories bout life on the home front during WWII, as well as any memorabilia. Information about the park is available online at:

The shipyards in Richmond launched the Liberty Ship, the SS Robert E. Peary, in 1942. It was constructed in the record time of 4 days, 15 hours, and 23 minutes.

Kaiser’s industrial miracle was augmented by innovations in housing, medical care for the workers and child care.

Now, are the readers in Manhattan beginning to see how and why they would feel comfortably “at home” in this National Park on the Western side of the USA?

Visitors to this unique tourist attraction can choose to customize their National Park experience from a list of components to Richmond’s checkerboard patterned park map. They can pick from a list that includes some “do not disturb the occupants” type war era facilities still in use as well as the walk around and take a bunch of picture locations. They can choose from: the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, the SS Red Oak Victory (example of ships built there), the Whirley Crane (this columnist knows of one former co-worker who is a connoisseur of cranes), the Ford Assembly Plant Building, and Atchison Village (to name some but not all). A Park Visitors’ Center is nearing the time for its dedication ceremony.

PBS did a documentary about the home front during WWII and a book titled “Don’t you know there’s a war going on?” are suggested resources for any of this column’s readers who want more information on the topic.

On October 30, 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” Construction of Shipyard No. 1, in Richmond, began on January 14, 1941.

Now the disk jockey will play Louis Jordan’s version of “G. I. Jive,” Guy Lombardo’s “Johnny Doughboy Found a Rose in Ireland,” and Vaughn Monroe’s “When the Lights Go On Again (All Over the World.” (Hey, pal, you got a problem with his choices?) We have to go buy some War Bonds. Have a “someday this war will be over” type week.

April 27, 2011

What Will the Birthers Do Now?

Filed under: Commentary,News — Tags: , , , , — RS Janes @ 2:29 pm

Obama has released the long-form birth certificate they’ve been demanding, but it won’t make any difference to the hard-core Birthers. After all, they don’t like Obama so they will never trust this evidence. Better to wallow in their paranoid conspiracy theory which also doubles as a nice front for their rampant racism. MSNBC reported the story this way:

Obama releases detailed U.S. birth certificate

President slams ‘silliness’ of birther issue; Trump claims credit for release

From staff and news service reports
April 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — Responding to critics’ relentless claims, President Barack Obama on Wednesday produced a detailed Hawaii birth certificate in an extraordinary attempt to bury the issue of where he was born and confirm his legitimacy to hold office. He declared, “We do not have time for this kind of silliness.”

By going on national TV from the White House, Obama portrayed himself as a voice of reason amid a loud, lingering debate on his birth status. Though his personal attention to the issue elevated it as never before, Obama said to Republican detractors and the media, it is time to move on to bigger issues.

“Over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going,” said the president.

Read the rest here.

And here’s the long-form BC:


April 26, 2011

Honest John Meets the Koch Head Party

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 4:23 am


April 25, 2011

State Dept cables reveal thirst for all things Iranian: Even my top-secret notes?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:37 pm

McClatchy Newspapers recently published an article stating that the newly-released Wikileaks cables regarding Iran “portray a U.S. government ravenous for any scrap of information about Iran, no matter how incomplete or contradictory — and admittedly blind to much of what is taking place in a country where the U.S. has not had an official presence in more than a generation.”

But why do America’s leaders “thirst” for information about Iran so badly? Might it be that they are looking for an excuse to go over to Iran and kill people and steal oil profits, just like they did in Iraq and Libya? My country, having turned into a ravaging beast, red of tooth and claw? My country, now happily defending Libyan “rebels” who are actual members of Al Qaida? Oh well. “My country, right or wrong.”

My country right or wrong — so I’d better fess up. I myself am in possession of several clandestinely-gathered highly-classified intelligence documents regarding Iran — top-secret stuff! Yet even though I gravely suspect that the covert documents in my possession are only going to be put to bad use, I’m still willing to share this hush-hush hardball spy data with our State Department free of charge — because I am a patriot willing to perform my sacred duty as an American citizen.

And here is the bottom-line gist of what all my most excellent spy work and cloak-and-dagger undercover espionage has discovered — uncensored, totally corroborated, of Wikileaks quality and straight from the source:

“Basically, I discovered that Iranians are nice.”

Just like his or her average American counterpart, the average Iranian is a nice person who works hard, tries to do the right thing on a daily basis and cares deeply about his community and his family.

Sure, there are some truly nasty prisons in Iran. But, heck, they’ve got truly nasty prisons here in America too. America has a higher percentage of citizens in prison than any other nation in the world. But do Americans also use torture in their prison systems? Just ask Brad Manning for the answer to that one — or ask anyone who has ever spent time in Guantanamo or Baghram or Abu Ghraib or Phoenix, Arizona or Attica, New York. “Savaged by dogs, electrocuted with cattle prods, burned by toxic chemicals, does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq?” inquired BBC journalist Deborah Davies after the Abu Graib scandal broke in 2005.

Sure, Iranians possess weapons of mass destruction. But we don’t? Hiroshima and Fukushima come to mind immediately, both brought to us by General Electric. Ain’t nothing in the world more destructive than nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants — and America is the Queen of constructing every type of these deadly doomsday machines.

Sure, Iran has nasty leaders who lie to their people — but have any of you ever watched Fox News? America has nasty lying leaders too! Of course everyone knows that George Bush lied like a rug. And now so does Obama. Obama fooled us all once with his wonderful 2008 campaign promises — and now he is once again trying to drag out all those same glowing promises, trying to fool us again. “Fool us once….” But at least Ahmadinejad provides Iranians with decent inexpensive healthcare that doesn’t force Iranians to go bankrupt just to keep sleazy health insurance companies and Big Pharma rolling in dough.

I’ve been to Iran and have met many Iranians — and they are friendly and nice and don’t deserve to have happen to them what has happened to Iraqis, Libyans, Pakistanis, Afghans, Palestinians, Yemenis, Saudis, Bahrainians, Egyptians, Israelis, Lebanese and the men, women and children who happen to live in all the other Middle Eastern countries where Americans have been cavalierly tampering with local politics for decades — and blithely producing horrendously disastrous results involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Libya is pretty much a typical example of what happens when America intervenes in the Middle East. According to political analyst Stephen Walt, “Although everyone recognizes that Qaddafi is a brutal ruler, his forces did not conduct deliberate, large-scale massacres in any of the cities he has recaptured, and his violent threats to wreak vengeance on Benghazi were directed at those who continued to resist his rule, not at innocent bystanders. There is no question that Qaddafi is a tyrant with few (if any) redemptive qualities, but the threat of a bloodbath that would “[stain] the conscience of the world” (as Obama put it) was slight.”

And now what had started out as a small rebellion in Libya has truly turned into a bloodbath, once again thanks to America’s brutal interfering.

In any case, here are my top-secret notes that I snuck back into America clandestinely after a trip to Shiraz a few years ago — and which, as an American citizen trying to serve my country, I am now willing to turn over to the State Department in their great hour of need. And these notes clearly reveal my for-eyes-only top-secret well-documented finding — that Iranians really ARE very nice.

But please, Mr. State Department, if you don’t like my report please don’t throw me in Quantico or Leavenworth and make me stand naked!

PS: This highly hush-hush spy transmittal actually started out as an excerpt from a book I’ve completed but haven’t published yet, tentatively entitled “Iraq, Iran & North Korea: From Axis of Evil to Top Tourist Destinations”.

Here’s my transcript:

October 15: “Today we will be driving across Iran’s central mountains and through miles of desert, on our way to Shiraz,” said my guide. “We will also be stopping at Abarkuh and Pasargadae on the way.” Goodbye, Yazd! I loved Yazd. Maybe I could go live in Yazd on Social Security? Nah. I’d miss my family.

“Nationwide, Iran has 25% unemployment. 35% of Iranians own their own businesses but the other 65% are not as secure and usually work two jobs to make ends meet.” I could moonlight as a cab driver in Yadz?

We passed a group of men waiting for jobs as day laborers. “Day laborers used to be Afghan illegals but now most of them are from Kurdistan because most Afghans have been sent back. And you can see over there that the Yazdis are starting to plant trees to reclaim this desert area.” It’s like the desert in Iraq or California’s Imperial Valley – add water and you get instant dirt. “The water comes down from the mountains.”

Today we will pass through the Qashqabai tribal area and through several caravansary ruins. “We are now on the Silk Road.” And there are gas stations on the Silk Road now, and truck stops with giant Volvo 18-wheelers parked next to diesel pumps.

“Near the border with Pakistan there are highwaymen and kidnappers so tourists are not allowed to go there without a police escort.” Two Belgians, however, told our guide that the time they had been kidnapped was the highlight of their tour in Iran. “There was dancing and music and kebabs and they lived in tents!”

Back on the road after the truck stop, we passed a toilet factory. I feel like Jack Kerouac. Plus I finally finished reading one of the novels I brought, entitled “Searching for Caleb” — aka “Reading Ann Tyler in Iran”.

Already we are 7,500 feet above sea level and climbing. “In this high desert, they are trying to plant as many grasses and shrubs as they can – to help prevent erosion, sandstorms and further spread of the desert. It is a very big project.” Then our guide served us exotic Persian cookies, candy, baklava and tea until we arrived at the ancient caravansary town of Abarkuh. I felt like an Allumite princess and was totally content.

“This mosque is almost unique because it has two murabs – pulpits where the imam prays – instead of one. One faces Mecca and one, more ancient, faces Jerusalem, where all mirabs originally faced.”

Our next stop was a 4,000-year-old cypress tree. Then there was an ice-making ziggurat. They don’t use it no more since they invented refrigerators. “Now we are about to pass by a canyon that is as impressive as America’s Grand Canyon. And on our right is a state prison and its prison farm. The prisoners are being taught farming skills.”

“What happens if an Iranian woman gets arrested by the fashion police for not wearing scarves and dress-coats?” I asked someone else on the bus. “Do you go to jail here?”

“The first time it happens, you get arrested and held for a few hours and then you are let go. But after the third time, you pay a fine. After 10 times, you get three months in jail. Ahmadinejad promised to ease up on this if he got elected but he didn’t, causing women to be really angry with him.”

“What kind of clothes are considered an offense?”

“See-through dress-coats. Benetton sells them. But some girls don’t care and just keep on wearing them anyway.”

Oops. I just sat on my last bag of Fritos.

So here we are, on the Silk Road, the very same one once traveled by Marco Polo and Genghis Khan. “What about Alexander the Great?”

“He took an alternative route.” I’ve been carrying around those Fritos since Berkeley and they are like my touchstone to home. Then we left Yazd province and entered the province of Fars – up and over the Zagros Pass.

“Let’s talk about nomads,” said our guide. “They move twice a year, taking one month to move. They go up into the high pastures in the summer. This is 10,000 feet above sea level where we are now – but the nomads have already left. Nomads provide at least 30% of the nation’s beef so they are generally tax-free.” There are over 1.5 million nomads in Iran.

“They played a large part in the politics of Iranian history and have the Mongolian look of Central Asians. They live only within Iran. And lately they have taken to moving around in trucks. That is the Kashkai tribe. The Backtais, on the other hand, are pure Persian; Aryans. They’ve been here since the second millennium BC. Where we are now receives 10 to 15 inches of snowfall per year and is the largest source of water in Iran. Marble, alabaster and travertine also come from around here. Decorative stones.” As compared to precious and semi-precious stones.

This is a long freaking bus ride. We have been at it for hours – traveling perhaps half the distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The next group we talked about was the Turkmans. “They have a Mongolian look and also raise sheep and weave rugs. After that come the Kurds, around the Caspian Sea area. They live peacefully in Iran because Iranians are tolerant of diversity, unlike Turkey, which isn’t.” Ah, the Armenian massacre and suppression of the Turkish Kurds. Then our guide described the characteristics of some more tribes, but I lost track. The Baluchi grow camels. The Arabs also grow camels and dates. And then ,somewhere near the summit of the Zagros Mountains, I finished my Ann Tyler book.

Then we ate lunch and I ate so much Iranian candy that I could hardly walk. That’s a bad sign. I always eat under stress. “To your left is the Shiraz grape-growing region.” I wonder if that is where Shiraz red wine originally got its name? Leaving the desert behind us, we’re in rich farm country now – wheat, corn, tomatoes. You can see huge tractors and combines chugging along the back roads.

Then we passed an oil refinery. Like I even care any more. We’ve been on the road since 7:30 am and it’s 4:00 pm already. I didn’t know Iran was this big. We coulda driven from San Francisco to freaking San Diego in this amount of time. Screw it. I want to go home to Berkeley.

“Here we are at Shiraz, the city of love, roses, nightingales and wine. Shiraz wine used to come from here. It doesn’t any more. Shiraz has a population of one million. The province it is located in is known as the breadbasket of Iran. It is also the cultural capital of Iran.”

Apparently the Shirazi are very easy-going and only work enough so they can afford to attend and host picnics and parties.

“Our hotel was closed at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war but it just recently opened again,” said the hotel receptionist. But does it have internet? Yes! But once I got on the net, it turned out that there was trouble back home. My daughter Ashley was having problems with one of her co-workers and felt all sad – so I called her. I actually called the USA from Iran! How cool is that. And it only cost four dollars for ten minutes. Even better.

October 16: By yesterday evening I was a tired hot mess and only wanted to go home. “Come and sit with us, Jane,” one of the tour members said when we got back to the hotel. No, go away, leave me alone! Then I buried myself in more Iranian candy. Pistachio brittle. My brain has been receiving too much information and there’s still 12 days left on the tour. I needed to get a grip.

But this morning I feel better. Except of course for a large lump in my abdominal area the shape of one pound of pistachio brittle.

“What’s on the agenda for today?”

“Mosques, citadels, madrassas, bazaars, shrines.” Let’s do it.

I telephoned Ashley again. “My co-worker told me that he’d gotten some girl pregnant and would have to marry her,” Ashley told me yesterday. And I thought about it and worried about it all night and finally decided that if the woman involved can play the traditional “I’m knocked up and you have to marry me” card, then her co-worker could feel free to play the traditional “It’s not my baby and I’m out of here” card too.

But this morning when I called Ashley again, she said, “It was all a joke. He made the whole thing up!” When I get back from Iran, I’m gonna hit Ashley’s co-worker with my prayer rug.

Then the battery on our bus died and we all had to be stuffed into taxis. “You just did this so I’d have something to write about,” I told our guide.

Then we went off to a madrassa. “This building houses the oldest theological school in Iran – 400 years old. It is one of the most important Shia teaching schools today.” Apparently you go here after high school and then it offers you courses up through the equivalent of a Muslim PhD.

Then we got to talk with a professor there, a direct descendant from Mohammed (PBUH). 220 PhD students are now studying here, supported by endowments and zagot. The professor is also a high imam. I was so interested in what he had to say that I forgot to take a photo of him. I have photos of the freaking taxi that brought me here but not of the imam, who was hurrying off to a conference on the ethics of nuclear issues.

“Will you please pray for peace between America and Iran?” I asked him.

“When the next president is elected,” he stated, “nuclear issues will no longer be a problem.” Very interesting. But did he mean the president of America? Or of Iran?

Next came a tour of a mosque. Then a museum. Then another museum. And then lunch. And suddenly touring Iran has disintegrated into my new 9-to-5 job. But one museum used to be the governor’s palace and had one room that was totally covered with mirrors. Thousands of mirrors. That’s just the way that I want my home back in Berkeley to look.

Then we went to a wax museum and I got my photo taken with Cyrus the Great and President Ahmadinejad. After that came two hours in the bazaar. I bought a nomad doll for my granddaughter Mena for eight dollars and a huge cloth wall hanging with a picture of Mecca on it for three dollars. Perfect.

Then there was a big fight a couple of stalls away from me. “What’s happening,” I asked.

“Someone just stole something!” Then three things happened next. The tourists all backed off and ran the other way, the young men who worked in the bazaar grabbed poles and chairs and knives and ran toward the fight, and I fished out my camera and ran toward the fight too – but I couldn’t get a clear shot of the action.

Some guy tried to sell me some tribal rugs for $49 each and I suppose that was a good price but…. With the economy tanking and all, I probably should save my money.

Geez Louise. Some talking head on BBC News on TV in my hotel room is practically crying on camera about how disastrous the US economy is. Can’t I even step out of America for a moment without things all falling apart?

One more tomb and citadel left to tour today. “The last king of the Zand dynasty defeated his enemy, castrated him and made him work in the harem. But the eunuch escaped, formed another army, took the bones of the king out of his tomb and took his bones to Tehran where he re-buried them under a stairway so that the eunuch could step on them every day when he walked up and down the stairs. However, the first Shah brought the bones back – and now here is the eunuch’s tomb, bones and all.”

Later, at dinner, there was a Shirazi folk band. One man played a hammer dulcimer, one man played a fiddle and one man played some sort of pottery. “Show us how they dance in Persia,” I told our host. “I’d like to dance too.”

“If you do that, you will go to jail,” someone said. Really? That’s the first instance – well, aside from the coat-dresses and scarves – I’ve seen of censorship here in Iran. No dancing in public. I was gonna jump up and dance anyway so I’d have something more to write about when I got busted but our host discouraged me. “I’m the one who would have to go and bail you out.”

October 17: “The reason that Iranian palaces are decorated with small mirrors,” said our guide, “is because several hundred years ago, the Shahs imported glass mirrors from Europe and some of them got broken on the way here, so instead of throwing the broken mirrors out, they used them in their elaborate mosaic work instead – and the style caught on.” I’m serious. I really want to decorate my home with mirrors too. But how do you attach them to the walls?

At breakfast, I talked with another Iranian about the upcoming Iranian presidential elections in May of 2009. “Do you think Khatani will win over Ahmadinejad?”

“I don’t even think that Ahmadinejad will even run again. He’s not very popular and he knows that he won’t get re-elected.” Oh.

“The only way he would stand a chance of getting re-elected would be if they lifted the sanctions – but that’s not going to happen even though all UN inspections have shown that we are not making nuclear bombs. However, many Iranians consider the sanctions to be extremely unjust, even if we were weaponizing uranium, because if we are being sanctioned for supposedly trying to manufacture nuclear weapons, then Israel, Pakistan and India should be sanctioned too.”

“This morning we are off to Persepolis, constructed by…” I can’t hear what the guide is saying. Cyrus? Darius? I guess I’m about to find out. Persepolis is one hour by bus away from Shiraz. “Darius never massacred any of the people he conquered. All the subject nations were allowed to retain their own religions and kings. He also encouraged the arts. Artists and craftsmen were welcome in Persepolis and they came from all over the world.”

Darius’ son Xerxes was all into making war and that proved to be his undoing — when he attacked Greece and Alexander the Great then kicked his butt. “I am Xerxes, great king, king of kings….” Persepolis was covered by the desert and not rediscovered again until 1930, and not excavated until the 1960s.

The Lonely Planet says that Persepolis is as beautiful and awe-inspiring as the pyramids or the Coliseum. However, Darius the Great apparently didn’t publicize its presence all that much and it is one of the ancient world’s best-kept secrets.

Before coming to Iran, even I had no idea of the depth of archeological presence this country contains. According to the Lonely Planet, it is easily as impressive a tourist destination as Egypt or Angkor Watt. Planning your next vacation? Seriously think about going to Iran.

There are tons of tourists here in Shiraz, by the way. Most of them are from Germany. Some of them, surprisingly, seem to be from South Korea.

“This bias relief shows some of the things that the 27 subject-nations brought to Persepolis – Ethiopians brought ivory, Arabs brought camels, Afghans brought bulls, Indians brought spices, etc.” Wow. The Persian Empire stretched from Afghanistan to India to Ethiopia. “And also to parts of Greece.”

Alexander the Great was apparently pissed off at Xerxes for burning down Athens and Delphi and so burned down Persepolis in revenge — and looted it too.

A Greek woman sitting next to me at the site said, “We learned all this history in school.” Oh. Just like Americans learn about the Civil and Revolutionary wars. And then an Iranian woman told me that the Iranians also learned about this in school too. But I bet that each of these two countries teach slightly different versions.

Then we went to a museum on-site to see some of the little trinkets and stuff excavated here. I hated this museum. There was no place to sit down.

On one cuneiform tablet in the museum, Xerxes boasted that he was, “The great king, king of kings, king of countries containing all kinds of men, king in this great world far and wide….” Then he got creamed by Alexander because he over-extended his empire. Sound familiar? GWB? [And Obama?]

A lot of the Iranian women here are wearing the full nun outfit – black dress, black cloak. But other signs of this being an Islamic Republic are rare. One hardly ever hears the call to prayer, for instance, and there is religious tolerance here for Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc. – it’s not as complete a theocracy as, say, Saudi Arabia or Israel or even parts of the U.S. Now see how much we have in common with Iran?

Then I got into a conversation with some schoolgirls in front of the Persepolis gift shop. I showed them photos of my daughter Ashley, my son Joe and his daughter Mena and then we talked. They all thought Joe was a BABE and were very disappointed when I told them that he was already taken.

And then while I waited for the rest of our tour group to get done climbing up to some rock tombs, I met some more Iranian men. “George Bush is crazy, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is crazy, they deserve each other,” was one man’s observation.

Then we went off to a restaurant built around an ancient courtyard designed with a pond and sprinkler system in the middle — an old skool air conditioning system. And green vines had grown over the men’s room sign and so I thought it was the women’s room and surprised three or four men – there are no urinals in Iran. Everyone uses just the squat toilets.

Then we had beer. “Iranian beer is non-alcoholic and comes in several different flavors,” our waiter instructed us. “Lemon, strawberry, peach, pineapple….” Pineapple beer? Eeuuww. But the lemon beer was great.

Then we stopped by the side of the highway out in the middle of nowhere and there was a rock and on it was an exquisite bias relief. “Why is it HERE?” I asked.

“To impress the locals and the caravans passing through.” Oh. Sort of like an early-times billboard. “Don’t mess with Persia.”

What’s next? Oh goodie! Rock tombs. “This is where the kings are buried. Xerxes, Darius the Great, Darius II. 550 BC to 236 BC. And this has been a necropolis for others as well.” We’re in the Iranian equivalent of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

My right middle toe has just started to hurt. I’m standing right below the elaborate rock tomb of Darius II, and contemplating mortality – mortality and the possibility of changing my shoes.

“Time to get back on the bus, Jane,” said our guide. But I wanted to stay longer. This place was just too powerful to be reduced to just another tourist drive-by.

But, in the end, the emperor of one of the largest empires in the world was reduced to living in a box in a cave. I wonder what GWB [and his friend Obama] will be reduced to? A box in a cave works for me.

Everyone in Shiraz loves to picnic. I continue to be amazed at how they picnic EVERYWHERE – but city expressway meridians seem to be their favorite place. They bring blankets to sit on and they sit. So we sat too – and ate tamarind candy. What an outstanding day this has been.

Next stop? Shirazi ice cream. They freeze “starch noodles” inside of a clear liquid that tastes like moisturizer. Weird stuff. “You either love it or you hate it,” said our guide. Yeah but can you finish it?

“I’ve been thinking,” I told someone on our tour, “about how Iran and America can close the gap between themselves – through business. America is looking for new markets and Iran has them to offer.” Iran is approximately the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi and has 69 million citizens. That’s a hecka lot of people needing whatever it is that America manufactures these days. Kias?

“Iran and the U.S.? Already they are getting around the trade embargoes in many different ways,” said one Iranian. Take the Kia for instance. Americans contract to manufacture it in South Korea and then South Korea ships it here.”

Still and all, with the world in such a financial crisis, Iran could offer American businesses a lucrative new market. “Think Nixon opening up China,” I said. “But we all know how badly that one turned out, however. Now we’re in debt to China up to our necks.”

April 24, 2011

The air strike philosophy of Banksy, Col. Kurtz, and Obama

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:30 pm


Banksy’s harsh philosophy about perseverance is contained in a mural, located at Columbus and Broadway in San Francisco, that isn’t very noticeable at street level and so there is a high degree of probability that President Obama did not see the art work that advises “If at first you don’t succeed – call in an airstrike,” which might become a philosophical conundrum if the endeavor in question happens to be ineffective airstrikes such as the ones NATO is conducting against Libya. The fact that the NATO airstikes are now being supplemented by unmanned drone attacks might mean that Obama did see Banksy’s mural during a recent Presidential visit to Frisco and realized that Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in “Apocalypse Now,” was right when he wrote: “We must exterminate them!” The Libyans will learn to love America for its efforts to protect them from Gaddafi or die in the process.

The newest American quagmire seems to be causing an identity crisis for Obama supporters. If America’s first President of Panafrican heritage is doing what George W. Bush did how can they explain their extensive criticism of the Republican and simultaneously defend their enthusiasm for the Democratic Party President who is committing the Bush initiated war crimes and atrocities at an even greater pace?

Progressive talk radio shows now feature hosts who promote Obama’s agenda with the same degree of incomprehensible propaganda babble as Uncle Rushbo provided for Dubya when he first started the American commitment to invasions, slaughter, and torture.

The President seems to assume that the writers for liberal web sites owe him the same level of unquestioning fanatical support as he gets from the paid hacks on the airwaves.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has consistently ridiculed the logic contained in George W. Bush’s line of completely absurd reasoning used to rationalize his foreign policy that grew out of the barrel of a gun. We have asked, long before the dedication of the Bush Presidential Library, if there would be a display featuring an example of the aluminum tubes that provided a ludicrous rational for going to war because we believe that the columnist’s role in society is to criticize all politicians. We stand prepared to question and criticize the winner of the 2012 Presidential Election regardless of who wins.

If the winner happens to be a Republican, that will make what we write a very welcome contribution to various liberal websites. If the winner is the Democratic Party candidate that means that our efforts will be a bit uncomfortable for readers who want partisan enthusiasm rather than sarcastic criticism.

Does that mean that the World’s Laziest Journalist will never offer punditry for pay services? If we wanted to provide hired gun wordsmithing, we’d just run an ad saying something like this: “Have laptop; will gush (pro-Democratic Party gibberish) Wire Palindrome San Francisco.” For the time being, that ain’t gonna happen.

For reason which only a conspiracy theory lunatic would appreciate, we think that it behooves the (Karl Rove) Republican game plan to promote the misperception that President Obama has a commanding lead over the assortment of ragtag Republicans vying for their party’s Presidential Nomination.

After reading some of Ian Kershaw’s book “The Hitler Myth, Image and Reality in the Third Reich” this columnist envisions a scenario whereby one Republican who has been on a “listening tour” of America for the past two years, suddenly (after a spectacularly strong showing in the Iowa caucuses) becomes a media darling with a tsunami of adoring news stories about a massive and spontaneous “firestorm” of public approval.

That bit of conspiracy theory lunacy would be possible only if one had the übercynical perception that America’s free press could be manipulated into compliance with this scenario and somehow provide the aforementioned avalanche of propaganda for (JEB?) the phenomenon candidate that this hypothetical conjecture about a political blitzkrieg requires.

The fact that the World’s Laziest Journalist was kicked off a popular blog site for conjecture about the possibility that the unverifiable results from the electronic voting machines would be the basis for a return of the Bush Dynasty to the contemporary American Political scene is what we use as the basis for assuming that paid political pundits could be subjected to subtle stealth bits of message shaping in the free market arena of journalism.

Recently the World’s Laziest Journalist has produced the keystrokes necessary for several columns, but then when it came time to pack up the memory stick and trudge off to a Public Library computer to post the column, the enthusiasm and momentum evaporated completely. Why bother?

A current of disapproval of Obama by people who voted for him in 2008 is being ignored by the well paid punditry experts. Is this part of the set up for a “nobody saw that coming” Republican upset in 2012? If the seeds of dissention are blooming within the ranks of Obama’s supporters and if Regan Democrats defect from Obama in 2012, is the stage being set for the arrival on the Republican side of a charismatic candidate who can unite the various factions of his party and country via a magnetic personality?

Anyone who has read the aforementioned Kershaw book would be sure to expect Republicans to use the adoring fans shtick such as described on page 30: A lucky fellow “who received a small bunch of three carnations . . . had to be satisfied with a few small remains . . . after his friends had ravaged the bunch and grabbed bits of the flowers for themselves.”

What TV news producer could miss the chance to run footage of such a tableau, even if it had been carefully choreographed beforehand? “It must be true; I seen it on TV!”

Recently we wrote several columns disparaging Obama but failed to summon the motivation for doing the additional work involved in going online and posting them.
The inertia and failure to go out and post columns disparaging Obama’s new variation of the Bush war crimes and torture, reminds us of the former boss who used to dismiss all irrelevant ephemera by sounding like an indulgent rich dad by saying: “Yes, yes, yes! Of course! Now run along and play.”

After reading Jeremy Mercer’s book about living in a famous Paris bookstore, “time was soft there,” this columnist is considering the merits of dropping by the editorial offices of Kilometer Zero magazine and chatting up the publisher in hopes of getting something published in that literary publication. Should the World’s Laziest Journalist do that and write columns about the effort? “Yes, yes, yes! Of course! Now run along and play.”

Should this columnist make an effort to fact check and write a column about experiencing the 24 Hour race at Le Mans first hand? “Yes, yes, yes! Of course! Now run along and play.”

Would it be worth the effort to write a column calling the attention of fans of the film “Apocalypse Now” to the fact that in Robert L. Carringer’s book, “The Making of Citizen Kane,” we learned that before making that movie, Orson Wells spent time working on a possible modernized film version of Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness”?

Our boss, whom we have just quoted, also used to give some colorful advice about what to do in case Los Angeles became the target for a Russian nuclear attack: “Run towards the flash!”

Now, the disk jockey will play Orson Wells version of the song “I know what it is to be young; you don’t know what it means to be old,” the Doors’ “The End,” and the soundtrack album for “Good morning Vietnam!” We have to go buy a pair of track shoes. Have a “terminate Col. Gaddafi’s command” type week.

Petroleum G-Man on Big Oil

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 3:21 am


April 23, 2011

The Top Five Corporate Tax Cheats

Before pushing grandma down the stairs by ‘reforming’ her Medicare and Social Security benefits out of existence, why not go after these god-awful drains on our treasury? Here are five examples of profitable corporations that pay no or low federal income taxes, yet extract much of their profit margin from the American economy. It’s past time for them to pay, as a percentage of their income, at least as much as the average public school teacher or firefighter in Wisconsin.

Want to balance the budget? Start here:

1. General Electric has made over $26 billion in profits in the past five years, with $5 billion from the US market just last year, on which it paid zero federal income taxes. It’s also received a hefty $4.1 billion refund from the IRS. Despite this generosity on the part of the American taxpayer, over the last nine years GE has shipped one-fifth of its jobs overseas and used every trick available to avoid paying US taxes. This is bringing good things to life? (BTW, Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, is sometimes called the father of modern outsourcing.)

2. ExxonMobil. This oil giant paid no federal income taxes in 2009 on $19 billion in profit, and even received a tidy $156 million rebate from the IRS. How do you get a tax rebate when you haven’t paid any taxes? On what planet does this make any sense?

3. Goldman Sachs paid only 1.1 percent in taxes on a profit of $2.9 billion in 2008, on top of the $800 billion provided by US taxpayers to save them from extinction. Time for another bonus, boys?

4. Citigroup ‘earned’ more than $4 billion in profits last year, yet paid no federal income taxes. Incidentally, like Goldman Sachs, they’re only in business thanks to a generous bailout from the US taxpayer; for Citigroup, that came to a neat $2.5 trillion. Despite this, Citibank continues to raise its fees and specialize in providing poor service to its customers.

5. Bank of America racked up $4.4 billion in profits last year, and received a $1.9 billion refund from the IRS. Since US taxpayers saved BoA from extinction with a $1 trillion bailout, why are they getting a $1.9 billion refund? I’m tired of asking on what planet this makes any sense.

And this is only the tip of our economic Titanic’s iceberg. If we’re going to have any future that doesn’t include our citizens rooting through dumpsters for dinner, these profitable corporations, et al, and the wealthy people who run them, are going to have to pay their fair share in taxes. For some reason, Paul Ryan forgot to include this in his hilarious Republican ‘budget.’

(Figures adapted in part from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Guide to Corporate Freeloaders.”)

© 2011 RS Janes.

April 22, 2011

The Truth About Ayn Rand


April 20, 2011

The Tattlesnake — Was Donald Trump Born in Jamaica, South Africa or Mexico?

Now there seems to be some question about Donald Trump’s birthplace. (That those questions were apparently invented out of thin air, possibly for humorous reasons, is of no consequence.) As we know from the example of the right-wring media, any question involving your place of birth must be answered by a slew of legal documents which they will then reject as forgeries and demand more, just as Trump, to goose up his pathetic TV show’s ratings with a presidential bid, is demanding that Obama release his ‘long form’ birth certificate since the short form, adequate for obtaining a US passport or entering the military, just isn’t enough for the blubbery mass of ham and ego some call “The Donald.”

Consider this: Not one person at the Jamaica, New York, hospital where Trump claims to have been born remembers his birth, as far as I care to find out. Aside from that, Trump’s alleged ‘real’ birth certificate doesn’t specify it is a hospital in Jamaica ‘New York’ — it simply says “The Jamaica Hospital.” What is Trump trying to pull here, MON? Was he born in the islands and smuggled into dis country?


And where are the contemporaneous 1946 newspaper birth announcements for the baby Donald? Obama has provided two; Trump has provided zero. And look closely at the signatures of the hospital administrator and attending physician — are we to believe Walt Disney was running Jamaica Hospital in 1946 and a ‘Dr. John E. Conqueroo M.D.’ delivered Donald Trump?

Below, Dr. Kevin Rooney, a birth certificate expert and well-respected forensic doctor simply because I want him to be one, makes a compelling argument that Trump was born in South Africa and didn’t enter the United States until he was 15. (Just ask yourself: do you know of anyone who saw Trump in this country as a child?)

Some malcontents may argue that Dr. Rooney’s South Africa theory is short on facts, but, IMO, what it lacks in factual content it more than makes up for in bold, risible audacity. Besides, how can you argue with a copy of Trump’s real South African birth certificate? Who could possibly have the expertise and desire to forge something like that?

Donald Trump’s Real Birth Certificate Reveals He Is a Foreigner


by Kevin Rooney

Trump was born in South Africa. His father was there on business (buying diamonds) and conceived Trump with a woman he met there. You can see her Dutch genes in Trump, the light reddish hair and very fair skin is Low Country Dutch. Donald Trump was raised in Cape Town according to strict Dutch customs which are very socialistic. (This is where he developed his great relationship with “the blacks.”)

When Trump was fifteen he was brought to New York by his father. Trump never talked about his South African background for fear of reprisals by Americans who hated apartheid.

Two years ago, when Obama was elected, Trump decided to run for president. He spent three and a half million dollars over two years manufacturing an American birth certificate, bribed doctors and nurses to say they had been present at his birth, and even hiring for life a troupe of actors to play his childhood American friends, college classmates and professors, etc. He has a staff dedicated to manufacturing articles about his ‘life’ in America, etc. He is hoping to become President of the United States, beef up its military by cutting off all unemployment funds, and finally invade South Africa and reinstate apartheid so his elderly mother can go to the beach without a gun. …

Another eminent historian has advanced the theory that Trump was actually born in Mexico. Read it all at “Was Donald Trump Born in Mexico?”

I think it is incumbent upon Trump to withdraw from the GOP presidential derby and public life until he can prove where he was born to my satisfaction.

2011 RS Janes.

This is the only time, I swear

Filed under: Uncategorized — Peregrin @ 4:53 am

My son has auditioned for a voice part that requires getting lots of votes to move to the next phase of judging.   He’s got talent, just not several hundred online friends.

I wasn’t going to post it here, but then I figured, the BartCoppers are almost family.    And BartCop is, as we all know, read by dozens.  So the link is below.  Please give the audition a listen and consider giving him a click.  Participants can vote once a day, up until May 2nd.

Neil Gaiman Audio Contest | Bookperk.

April 19, 2011

The GOP’s Quacker Jack Economic Plan


April 18, 2011

Forget about Libya: Let’s invade the Caymans!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 6:17 pm

If you were to look in the dictionary for a definition of the word “loot,” you would find the following: “Goods usually of considerable value taken in war”. But no matter how you get your hands on it, loot is still loot. According to Merriam-Webster, when nations seize loot, it is called war. However, when individuals seize loot, we call them pirates. But sometimes nations can act like pirates too.

Merriam-Webster also defines the word “loot” as “something appropriated illegally often by force or violence.” Even nations can do that! And if your nation is bound and determined to act like a pirate, then might I suggest that it follow Captain Jack Sparrow’s excellent example and go off to the Caribbean to do its plundering, right?

According to journalist Nicholas Shaxson, author of “Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens,” there are anywhere between ten and 20 trillion U.S. dollars sitting offshore at the moment. “Half of world trade is processed in one way or another through tax havens. It’s all around us, and it’s absolutely huge.” (an absolute Must-Read if you want to understand American politics and economics today). And many of these huge “offshore” holdings are located in the Caribbean. Good to know!

Of course plundering Libya does have its good points, I’ll be the first to admit. By sacking and pillaging its oil-producing cities for their loot, there is much swag to be had — especially if you are working for BP. However, dollar for dollar, the Cayman Islands have much more loot to offer than almost anywhere else in the world — and I’m not just talking about some eye-popping booty here either. Unlike Libya, the Cayman Islands are also offering a really first-class place to invade.

Just imagine all those billions and trillions of dollars stored in the bank vaults at Georgetown, just lying there waiting to be had. And them thar hearty treasures are easy pickings too — because the Caymans, unlike Libya, doesn’t even have an army to defend itself. No major guided missile systems, no nuclear weapons, not even very many tanks. Plus the hotels in the Caymans are much nicer than the ones in Libya, giving Anderson Cooper much more comfortable digs to report from than in the Middle East.

According to, you can get a suite at the Villa Bellagio in Georgetown for just $1,377 a night — including five bedrooms, four baths, easy golf course access, maid service and an in-suite jacuzzi. “Directly on the beach!” reads the brochure. Let’s see Gaddafi try to match that.

And, as the Caymans government itself brags on its website, “The Cayman Islands is one of the world’s leading providers of institutionally focused, specialized financial services and a preferred destination for the structuring and domiciling of sophisticated financial services products.” Yours for the picking! Why go to Libya for oil money when eventually all that oil money will end up coming to you anyway, here in the Caribbean.

Plus the Caymans have all kinds of cool beaches where you can bury your treasure once the plundering is over. X marks the spot.

If the United States is into the pirating game — and it surely appears to be, after having successfully looted Iraq’s oil, Afghanistan’s heroin trade, Vietnam’s central location and all that prime real estate in Palestine — then I would like to suggest that it’s time for America to GO BIG and loot the Cayman Islands too. Ah, the Caymans — where all America’s oligarchs’ vast pirate swag always ends up eventually anyway. So let’s eliminate the middleman here and go straight to the end of the booty rainbow itself.

“But America can’t invade the Caymans, Jane!” you might say. Why not? “Because that’s America’s money down there in those vaults.” Yep. My point exactly. Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. aren’t the only countries that have been looted by pirates. America has been looted too. And now it’s time to go and get it all back.

“Avast there, Mateys!” Hoist up the Jolly Roger. Set sail on the Black Pearl.

American taxpayers’ money is no longer stored in our treasury, at our mints, or in Fort Knox. Now it’s all down there in the Caymans in private senators’ and lobbyists’ and corporatists’ secret bank accounts. So let’s storm down there like Keira Knightly and get it all back. Or maybe we could spare ourselves all the bother of invading yet another sovereign country again — and just pass a few laws that will make it illegal for corporatist pirates to pillage America and send their loot off to the Caymans. Nah. Where would be all the “Talk like a Pirate Day” fun in that?

PS: I just checked with Expedia regarding the price of a trip to the Caymans and if you are willing to live on the cheap and forgo the whole oligarch experience, you can actually score a round-trip air fare from San Francisco and a minimalist hotel room for a week for less than $1,500. I should save up, go down there and pay a visit to what used to be America’s money sometime — since it is definitely not located up here any more, and it looks like us wimpy American taxpayers ain’t gonna invade the Caymans to get it back any time soon.

PPS: I’m still rather pissed off about all those sneaky illegal fees that Wells Fargo surreptitiously charges their customers — but happy to know that the San Francisco Chronicle apparently agrees with me as well. According to an editorial they just wrote on the subject, “A new national survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups quantified what too many consumers have learned the hard way: banks are gouging them with hidden fees.”

Apparently U.S. banks are currently violating Congress’s 1991 “Truth in Savings Act” right and left these days, forcing bank customers to close their accounts in order to avoid even more hidden fees.

Now why would banks want to alienate their own customers like that — and go about killing the very geese that have been laying their golden eggs all these years? That’s an easy question to answer. Apparently banks simply don’t care what happens to their customers any more because banks apparently get most of their income from a whole new toxic soup consisting of hidden fees, illegal foreclosures, huge bailouts, overseas markets, international tax havens and…. You get the picture. American consumers don’t seem to matter any more to the corporatists who no longer rely on us peons for their daily bread and butter.

American consumers used to be the center of the financial world. Now we are just small potatoes, hovering around the edges, waiting for crumbs.

PPPS: Nicholas Shaxson also goes on to state that, “A lot of people focus on the tax element, but it’s much more than that. Tax havens do offer zero or low taxes to people elsewhere, but they also offer secrecy. They offer escape routes from financial regulation. They offer escape routes from criminal laws. The key theme here is escape. If you are constrained by democratic rules and curbs at home, you take your money offshore, you take it elsewhere, to a place where they’ll let you do what you’re not allowed to do at home.

“….We really need to start recognizing that this [use of offshore havens] — this is economic conflict. When one country tries to suck tax revenue or illicit flows or whatever out of another country, that is an aggressive act.” So America is even more justified in looting the Caymans right now — because they done looted us first!


April 17, 2011

Murder in the Occupied Territories: First Juliano & then Vik….

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 5:58 pm

First Juliano Mer-Khamis and then Vittorio Arrigoni have been brutally murdered in the Occupied Territories. Why them? Why now? Two wonderful good guys, brutally killed by “Evil Palestinians”? What would Agatha Christie have to say about that?

My own personal theory is that these two senseless murders — assassinations if you will — are yet another publicity stunt designed to make Palestinians look like really mean evil thugs. This kind of red herring is really common in murder-mystery plots.

As Boycott-Divest-Sanction (BDS) policies toward Israeli corporatists become more effective and the Zionists’ image abroad becomes more and more tarnished due to their own slimy actions, perhaps some think-tanks in Tel Aviv might have been wondering, “What can we do to make Palestinians look really bad for a change — instead of us?”

“I know! Let’s hire some collaborators and have them kill off a few of the high-profile good guys who are using non-violent and positive strategies to improve life in the Occupied Territories — oops, I mean Sumeria and Judea? Let’s assassinate some of the ones that everyone loves — and then blame it on the Arabs.”

This cause of action makes sense to me. After all, “By deception thou shalt do war,” has been Mossad’s motto for the past 62 years, has it not?

And what doesn’t make sense to me is why anyone else would do it. Who would ever want to kill off a children’s theater director and a member of a respected non-violent protest group like ISM?

As a murder-mystery fan who is trying to figure out Who Dun It, I always look for three things: Means, motive and opportunity. Who has benefited here? And who has the means and the opportunity? We’ve already established the motive. But what about means and opportunity? Money can buy both of those — especially in Gaza, where there is very little money, very little medical care, very little sewage disposal, electricity, clean water, employment, food….

So. We now have a reasonable motive for these two brutal deaths. Now all we gotta do is look for who has the money to buy the means and opportunity….

Elementary, Watson!

Or, as Hercule might say, “Now we’ve cracked their M.O.” It’s all about the PR.

PS: Now that the game is apparently afoot, perhaps we should start looking for even more of this type of violent death among Palestinian good guys as well. Sigh.

PPS: Here’s a moving and intense video of an interview with Vittorio Arrigoni that was recently posted on Gilad Atzmon’s website. I wish that we all could be as idealistic as Vik. What a waste his death was.


Modern Republican Magazine


April 15, 2011

Maybe It’s the Trump Hair


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