Another day that will live in infamy

It was December 12, 2000. For me, it really was the day the music died, and in terms of its negative impact on the fate of the world it was right up there with 911. Read the article and the comments, and weep.


Living in China – has its usefulness expired?

Adam and I often disagree with one another, at least on matters related to the Middle Kingdom, and while I don’t fully agree with him on his outspoken new post about the Living in China megablog, I agree more than I disagree.

I have been amazed in recent days at how this site seems to have lost its focus and direction. Considering its quest to be all things to all people in all places, this isn’t surprising. As Adam notes,

LiC’s parent group Living on the Planet suffers from a lack of any context, as well as a pretty lame name. And I’m an expert at lame names. Who isn’t a site that calls itself “Living on the Planet” aimed at? Someone who … doesn’t live on the planet? Imagine a magazine that says “Living on Earth.” Yuck. Death by lack of focus if you ask me. Just a bunch of links with no indication of what’s going on at all.

And as Adam notes, Simon’s Asia by Blog is now more useful than the once-invaluable LIC aggregator.

So what happened? I can’t pinpoint it , but go take a look at the aggregator and you’ll see it’s cluttered with a lot of crap. Now, that is a terribly subjective judgement, but somebody’s got to say it. By becoming a clearinghouse for every blog in the region that wants in, it has become something of a cesspool. (I know that’s strong language, but it’s exactly what I was thinking last night, as I saw there were about 20 posts in a row by a new blogger, each of zero interest or relevance to the LIC readers.)

I know that nowadays about 50 percent of my own posts are irrelevant to LIC. Maybe they need to discriminate, and bounce posters like me. But I don’t think so — they just need to look with a critical eye at anyone who wants to be included and ask, “Does this blogger contribute enough that is China-related to make it worthwhile?” Right now, it is so diluted and amorphous, it’s all but meaningless.

In addition, instead of becoming more user friendly and simple, the exact opposite has occurred. The aggregator now shows the post headlines — but it doesn’t tell you what blog it’s from! There used to be a simple link to see the list of contributing bloggers, but now you need to hunt for it. And somehow, it has lost its sense of community. Last summer it was the place to go for the latest news and commentary, thanks to those featured articles. Now it’s dead.

What happened? Was there a collective loss of interest? Is it because one of the founders moved away? I don’t know, but I wish there were a way to do an overhaul and get it back on track. I don’t want to see it go, but as it stands it’s near useless.

Be sure to read Adam’s post. Maybe your comments there and here will help initiate some badly needed change.


Hearts and minds

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis won’t be that hard to do after all. How could they not love us?

Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis – most of them civilians – as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder.

According to the ministry, the interim Iraqi government recorded 3,487 Iraqi deaths in 15 of the country’s 18 provinces from April 5 – when the ministry began compiling the data – until Sept. 19. Of those, 328 were women and children. Another 13,720 Iraqis were injured, the ministry said.

While most of the dead are believed to be civilians, the data include an unknown number of police and Iraqi national guardsmen. Many Iraqi deaths, especially of insurgents, are never reported, so the actual number of Iraqis killed in fighting could be significantly higher.

And we’re surprised no one’s offering us flowers and chocolates.

iraqi boy.jpg
Heart and minds — your tax dollars at work.

Card via Infinite Jest – check it out.


A real ad from the RNC

You probably read about it already, but you have to see it to fully grasp just how sickening it is.


Our president’s grandpa, Hitler’s banker

Anyone who has read up on the history of the Bush family knows about the cozy relationship Prescott Bush, goatboy’s grandfather, enjoyed with the Nazis during the mid-30s right up to the declaration of war with the US in 1942. (And maybe even after that.)

This was one of numerous things I first learned from Joseph Bosco during the time we spent together this past winter. He pointed me to Kevin Phillips’ must-read America Dynasty, which makes it clear the Bush family’s long-rumored friendship with the Nazi regime is no myth. Now, in a post that he obviously holds dear to his heart, Joseph has once more brought to our attention a new exposee of this shameful episode in the Bush family’s sordid history.

Dear readers, for more years than you care to know about, I have been trying to get the story of Prescott Bush’s long-documented history as Adolph Hitler’s American banker from out of the Congressional Record and into the mainstream press. It has finally happened! I can take none of the credit, other than to know that my voice and keyboard were among the legions of other serious researchers of the shameful Bush family legacy always working the story, hoping to break through the strange crystal box that has long enveloped the Bush family, protecting it to a degree unlike any other American political family.

Oh, excuse me–who is Prescott Bush, you ask? He was the father of Bush 41 and the grandfather of bush 43. He was the man who was censured by the United States Congress in 1942 under the Trading With the Enemy Act and stripped of his Nazi businesses–almost a year into the war to defeat the Nazi killing machine! Prescott had been at it for a long time, too. He and a few of his confederates had financed Hitler’s rise from a Munich beer hall in the mid 1920’s to the pinnacle of murderous power as the Fuhrer of the Third Reich. Without cash and munitions there never would have been an effective Nazi Party. Prescott Bush and his anti-democracy cohorts made certain Hitler had plenty of both.

The reason for Joseph’s (and my own) excitement is a groundbreaking article in today’s Guardian that uses previously undisclosed documents to trace Prescott Bush’s dealings with the Nazis via German industrialist Fritz Thyssen. This relationship apparently allowed Bush’s company to profit from the use of Jewish slave labor in Poland.

It is a complicated web of relationships and you need to wade through the article to piece it all together. The writers interview one John Loftus, now writing a book about the Bush family’s Nazi ties, and here’s one of several money quotes.

The author of the second book, to be published next year, John Loftus, is a former US attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the 70s. Now living in St Petersburg, Florida and earning his living as a security commentator for Fox News and ABC radio, Loftus is working on a novel which uses some of the material he has uncovered on Bush. Loftus stressed that what Prescott Bush was involved in was just what many other American and British businessmen were doing at the time.

“You can’t blame Bush for what his grandfather did any more than you can blame Jack Kennedy for what his father did – bought Nazi stocks – but what is important is the cover-up, how it could have gone on so successfully for half a century, and does that have implications for us today?” he said.

“This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich’s defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted,” said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St Petersburg.

“The Union Banking Corporation was a holding company for the Nazis, for Fritz Thyssen,” said Loftus. “At various times, the Bush family has tried to spin it, saying they were owned by a Dutch bank and it wasn’t until the Nazis took over Holland that they realised that now the Nazis controlled the apparent company and that is why the Bush supporters claim when the war was over they got their money back. Both the American treasury investigations and the intelligence investigations in Europe completely bely that, it’s absolute horseshit. They always knew who the ultimate beneficiaries were.”

While it’s important to note that there’s no evidence the Bush family sympathized with the Nazi’s program or philosophy, they certainly knew who it was they were doing business with.

So is it of any relevance today? Yes, because it is part of a long pattern within this family to profit from war. Its involvement with the Carlyle Group today is simply part of a natural progression. The episode is also symptomatic of the family’s love of the secret deal and of conspiracies, for playing beneath the radar screen. This is what much od Kevin Phillips’ book is about — this is the most untransparent of America’s super-rich families.

As the article says in its conclusion, “More than 60 years after Prescott Bush came briefly under scrutiny at the time of a faraway war, his grandson is facing a different kind of scrutiny but one underpinned by the same perception that, for some people, war can be a profitable business.”

Update: American Street also has a good post about this. Here’s the point:

[T]his is not to say George W. Bush is in any way responsible for his grandfather’s actions during that time. Instead, it’s interesting to see the double standards applied with this story in how it has escaped scrutiny for so long (can you imagine if it had been discovered that the Clinton’s family had helped Stalin rise to power?!), and how some people can be more interested in making a buck that they will even do business with the enemy to pad the bottom line. Halliburton anyone?


China arrests dangerous criminal; we can all go outside again

To think that only a month ago Ye Guzhou was free to roam the streets of Beijing, a dire threat to all, boggles the mind. Thank God that the Chinese authorities finally recognized the imminent danger and took firm but appropriate action. I only hope it isn’t too late.

China has formally arrested a man detained nearly a month ago for trying to organise 10,000 people to protest against abuse of power and widespread evictions, a state newspaper said today.

Ye Guozhu and his son organised the protest after the government razed their restaurants and then their home and neighbourhood as part of a Beijing facelift for the 2008 Olympics.

The protest would have been the biggest since practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement held a sit-in near the heavily guarded compound of China’s leaders in 1999.

It would have come at a sensitive time, when the Communist Party’s elite was holding a meeting in Beijing this month.

The Beijing Youth Daily said Ye had petitioned several government and party offices and his actions ”seriously interfered with the work and order of the state organs, and public order”.

In one incident almost a year ago, he unfurled a banner, shouted slogans and ”made trouble” in Beijing’s showcase shopping district, Wangfujing, it said.

”The small number of people who unreasonably make trouble and disturb social order in the name of reporting problems are bound to be subjected to legal punishment,” the newspaper quoted a police official as saying.

Let’s each of us utter a prayer of thanks and support to the CCP and their diligent thugspolice, and wish them well in hunting down each and every poor petitioner. Until they do so, none of us is safe.


The Laowai is back

And as great as always. More!


The 2004 election, captured in a single cartoon

Click to enlarge.

via TPM.


All you can do is laugh

Donald Rumsfeld made history today with the nuttiest quote out of this administration’s mouth to date, comparing hte violence in Iraq to what you’d encounter in your average US city.

We had something like 200 or 300 or 400 people killed in many of the major cities of America last year. Is it perfectly peaceful? No. What’s the difference? We just didn’t see each homicide in every major city in the United States on television every night. It happens here in this city, in every major city in the world. Across Europe, across the Middle East, people are being killed. People do bad things to each other.

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Phoenix I’ve never seen a suicide bomber. None of my my neighbors has been kidnapped, and only a few of my friends have been beheaded. I only occasionally see masked terrorists in the alley firing rocket-propelled grenades. And shooting down helicopers and dancing in the streets wielding the body parts of slain contractors is rare indeed.

Is Rumsfeld totally out of his mind?


Vanity Fair’s David Margolick on the Florida Election Highjacking

Vanity Fair, which doesn’t post its articles on the Web, is running a sensational follow-up on the 2000 hijacking of the US election in Florida. Veteran David Margolick does a brilliant job, making you feel as though you’re right there in the smoky rooms. And there is not a bit of doubt about it — this election was stolen, an early and terrifying sign of what these people were capable of. And I mean terrifying. There are description of Republican goings-on that can only be decribed as thuggery.

We are all very lucky, because this huge article has been provided by a caring blogger. It is in two large PDF files, and it is a great read. Don’t bother skimming or scanning. This has to be read carefully and digested.

What emerges is a clear picture of the birth of a new age in American politics. September 11 may have “changed everything,” as the clichee goes. But the crime of the 2000 election changed everything just as much, and maybe more so. To borrow from Richard Clarke: Our leaders failed us, the Supreme Court failed us, and our beloved laws failed us. And in keeping with the tone of this election, almost overnight America became a nastier, uglier and less honorable place. Washington has been highjacked by gangsters.