Cyrano's Journal

The Essentials

Must read articles picked by Cyrano's editors*


widmark---or else...

MINDFUL ECONOMICS (A REVIEW) Understanding American Capitalism, Its Consequences & Alternatives| “The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own.”—Gordon Gekko to Bud Fox (Wall Street, 1987, directed by Oliver Stone) This is an important book about an important subject—economics—which, except for hermits, affects just about everyone, every single day, whether we like it or not. Understanding economics—or rather, to be more precise, the nation’s political economy, a term I amplify later— is critical to any person wishing to make sense of the world, and essential to choosing rationally on the political map. [READ ON]

PLAN IRAQ—PERMANENT OCCUPATION | Congress is back from its July 4 break and with it more bluster and political posturing on changing course to keep things the same, including everything not working in place. It’s the same old scheme, back again, to fool enough of the people all the time and most all of them long enough to move on to the next change of course mission shift starting the whole cycle over again. Even the blind can see the hopelessness of staying the course in Iraq. Aside from its lawlessness and immorality, pushing on with a failed effort qualifies as a classic definition of insanity: continuing the same failed policies, expecting different results. [READ ON]


THE WAR PROFITEERING RACQUET: "Why They Hate Us" | By Gary Corseri |This is an infuriating book. It infuriates the way truth does when you get a cold splash of it and you learn how you’ve been taken. (Example: In 2004, Halliburton, the world’s largest energy services corporation, and the happy hunting grounds of its former CEO, Dick Cheney, charged American taxpayers $27,500,000 to deliver $82,000 worth of heating oil from Kuwait to Iraq.) [READ ON]

ANOTHER BACON BURGER, ANYONE? | By Jason Miller | Despite the obvious signs that our nation is declining rapidly and despite the increasing global animosity against us for our greed, excesses, hypocrisy, and belligerence, we US Americans are defiantly “staying the course”. Neither harsh reality nor the ire of the world community has shaken our foundations. Mouthing hollow platitudes about freedom and liberty while supporting a war machine perpetrating genocide in Iraq, we mindlessly buttress a socioeconomic system some of history’s most notable fascists would envy. [READ ON]

PUTTING BLACK FACES ON IMPERIAL POLICY | By BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford | As African Americans contemplate the possibility of Barack Obama in the Oval Office, they should consider the ramifications of a Black face at the helm of an unreconstructed imperial policy. During the Secretary of State tenures of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the face of U.S. aggression and lawlessness in the world, has been Black - a hell of an image to present to the planet! Barack Obama shows no inclination to abandon imperialism as state policy - only to avoid "dumb" wars, while placing U.S.-designated "interests" above international law. [READ ON}

HERE COME THE ARMANI DEMOCRATS By Joe Mowrey | |Voting—argues the author—actually ends up legitimating the rule of what is by now a morally bankrupt plutocracy driving the nation and the world to chaos, planetary death, and endless war...We agree. For when the game is utterly rigged, it's time to head for the exits. [MORE]

DEMOCRACY OR PLUTOCRACY? By Charles Sullivan | It is universally assumed by the great majority of citizens that we are living in a free and Democratic society. The idea has been ingrained in us from cradle to grave. In spite of this, I have come to believe that the term ‘Democracy’ is bandied about to our detriment with great recklessness. [MORE]

UNDERSTANDING NORTH KOREA By Stephen Gowans | North Korea is a country that is alternately reviled and ridiculed. Its leader, Kim Jong-il, is demonized by the right and -- with the exception of Guevara in 1965 and many of his current admirers -- mocked by the left. Kim is declared to be insane, though no one can say what evidence backs this diagnosis up. It’s just that everyone says he is, so he must be. If Kim had Che’s smoldering good looks he may have become a leftist icon, leader of “the one remaining, self-proclaimed top-to-bottom alternative to neo-liberalism and globalization,” as Korea expert Bruce Cumings puts it. Make no mistale about it: This is the definitive guide to the Korean puzzle. MORE]

OBSTINATE MEMORYRescuing history from those who would murder it | A CJO selection by Stephen Gowans | Wherein Gowans analyzes the unbending reality of Iraq, who actually won WW2, and where the system's apologists have relegated the communist contribution to peace and civilization in their scramble to justify capitalism. [MORE]

THE WAR ON IRAN By Stephen Gowans | The war has already begun and it has nothing to do with nuclear weapons and threats against Israel and everything to do with who rules America. [MORE]

SIX FLAGS OVER NEO-NUREMBERG —Bush, Oprah, the San Diego Chicken, and a Proto-Fascist Panopticon of the Mind By Phil Rockstroh | For this reason the corporatist order needs a consummate propagandist like Oprah; a charismatic mountebank who, by means of her stem-twisting tales of personal redemption, dangles before her credulous audience the elusive and illusionary carrot of success..." [MORE]

THE COVERT KINGDOM By Joe Bageant |After a lifetime of identity conflict, I have come to accept that, blood-wise, if not politically or spiritually, these are my people. And as a leftist it is very clear to me these days why urban liberals not only fail to understand these people, but do not even know they exist, other than as some general lump of ignorant, intolerant voters called "the religious right," or the "Christian Right," or "neocon Christians." [MORE]

THE HERO'S JOURNEY By William Kotke | We are all looking at the end of the world as we know it. Our attention is focused on the holes in the ozone layer, planetary warming, Peak Oil, the spread of DU weapons, the collapse of the house of credit cards, and the prospect of the planetary financial elite quickly establishing fascist control of the planet. Below this threshold of conscious awareness our biological survival systems are rapidly eroding. At this point some twenty percent of the planet’s soils erode each twenty-five year period. [MORE]

ART, TRUTH AND POLITICS By Harold Pinter | Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed. [MORE]

THIS WAS A GUILTY VERDICT ON AMERICA AS WELL By ROBERT FISK | So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". [MORE]

THE HEROIC MUST BECOME THINKABLE (AGAIN) By Patrice Greanville | As Americans we are so conditioned to avoid pain and inconvenience, so pansified by the endless mendacious ministrations of the system, and so unthinkingly devoted first to matters of home and the pacification of the insatiable "me, me, me" instead of principle...[MORE]

FIRST (ABRIDGED) CATALOG OF U.S. MEDIA BIASES By Patrice Greanville | Superficial treatment is traditionally applied to the description of problems afflicting American society or similarly organized societies. Since real news analysis (i.e., in-depth, no-holds-barred investigation) is shunned or suspect as not sufficiently "objective and professional," etc., only the symptoms of problems are permitted circulation. [MORE]

INTERVENTION: WHOSE GAIN? WHOSE PAIN? By Michael Parenti | Since World War II, the U.S. government has given more than $200 billion in military aid to train, equip, and subsidize more than 2.3 million troops and internal security forces in more than eighty countries, the purpose being not to defend them from outside invasions but to protect ruling oligarchs and multinational corporate investors from the dangers of domestic anti-capitalist insurgency. [MORE]

SMOKED OUT BY Paul D. Thacker | In his final column of the year, science columnist Steven Milloy listed "the top 10 junk science claims of 2005." For number nine, Milloy attacked the research of Michael Mann...[MORE]

STOP SUPPORTING EVERY BLACK FACE: End the Jim Crow Mentality By Glen Ford | Despite the defeat of the GOP’s three Black candidates for statewide office in last week’s elections, Republicans succeeded in achieving their overall goal of garnering a significant share of Black votes in Maryland and Ohio. The Right has learned well an historical lesson: the Black polity can be split by displaying Black faces in political races. [MORE]

TO HELL WITH CENTRISM: WE MUST RECLAIM THE INSPIRED EDGE By Phil Rockstroh | Rumsfeld is gone. Mehlman is gone. Delay is gone. Yet -- let's not have our progressives' version of a strutting on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier moment. Because mission has not been accomplished. [MORE]

EVERYONE KNEW HER AS NANCY By Ernest Stewart | For six years folks on the left have talked of little else than taking back the House and the Senate from the the far right and bringing those criminals in the Junta to justice. [MORE]

BARACK OBAMA AND THE WINDS OF WAR: TURNING RIGHT By Glen Ford | Barack Obama — who has never claimed to be a Black leader – is in fact not a leader at all. Nowhere is this more evident than in the most critical issue facing Americans and the world at this dangerous juncture in history: the war in Iraq...[MORE]

MICHAEL ALBERT INTERVIEWS NOAM CHOMSKY ON IRAQ | By Michael Albert | Why did the U.S. invade Iraq? (And why did important sectors of the political elite, like Scowcroft, oppose doing so?) What are the U.S.motives for staying? [MORE]

CUBA IN THE CROSSHAIRS —WHY SOME LIBERALS BASH THE REVOLUTIONARY ISLAND | As Washington, at present mercifully distracted by its maladventure in Iraq, stealthily prepares for the opportunity to intervene more muscularly in Venezuela and Colombia, an assault that will surely include the devastation of Cuba and probably military attacks to set up some form of "democratic beahhead," Cuba and her leader, Pres. Fidel Castro, find themselves under increasing attack by coteries of American liberals and Social Democrats. [MORE]

WHY SOCIALISM? | By Albert Einstein | —>Monthly Review | "Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends..." [MORE]

THE CURTAIN FALLS ON JB: A PERSONAL HOMAGE By John Steppling | Uncle Remus' Zippity-Dooh-Dah, zippity-ay* was a comforting pop hit in 1946, but, contrary to what the amiable character sang, not "everythin' was satisfactual" in much of the South...or the rest of America. The wounds of racism were still fresh and ...[MORE]

TEHRAN'S HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE By Stephen Gowans | It’s pretty clear how Western journalists summed up the event. The point of the conference was to assemble the world’s most notorious Holocaust-deniers and Jew haters, among them KKK kook David Duke, to lend support to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claims that the Holocaust is a myth and to cheer on the Iranian president as he prepares to perpetrate a genocide against the Jews and ‘wipe out’ Israel. The problem is, matters aren’t quite as black and white as all that. Not even close. [MORE]

THE SPOTLIGHT MOVES ON By Doug Moss | When Kanye West quipped on national television last September, as an astonished Mike Meyers looked on, that George Bush “doesn’t care about black people,” he was only partly right. George Bush doesn’t care about white people, either. In fact, George Bush only cares about rich people. [MORE]

CLIMATE-CONTROLLED WHITE HOUSE By Paul D. Thacker | In February, there were several press reports about the Bush administration exercising message control on the subject of climate change. The New Republic cited numerous instances in which top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and scientists at the National Hurricane Center sought to downplay links between more-intense hurricanes and global warming. [MORE]

WHERE ARE TODAY'S MURROWS? Hughes for America | Our broadcast media are failing us. This, perhaps even more than the gripping political drama, is the greatest lesson to take from a viewing of George Clooney's important movie. And the media will continue to fail us as long as those in power believe the bottom line to be more important than an educated populace. [MORE]

THE WORLD EXHALES: BUSH HUMBLED By John Maxwell | The world breathed a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday night when it became clear that the American people were a lot smarter than their President and his advisers. [MORE]

FUCK'EM, I SAY By John Steppling | There seems little reason to go over the obvious "positions" of the newly elected democrats. Others will do that, and the obvious should be obvious. The Democrats are barely distinguishable from the Republicans. I've used the above quote because I somehow have stopped being able to really analyse the various Democrats and what they want or pretend to think is best. [MORE]

BUSH SILENCES A DANGEROUS WITNESS | By Robert Parry | Like a blue-blood version of a Mob family with global reach, the Bushes have eliminated one more key witness to the important historical events that led the U.S. military into a bloody stalemate in Iraq and pushed the Middle East to the brink of calamity. [MORE]

POLEMICS: REACTION TO SADDAM'S EXECUTION | Selected Blog reactions from Guardian Unlimited (UK). [MORE]



PROGRESSIVE CUBA-BASHING By Richard Levins | Cuba is not a dictatorial regime. There is a whole complex of elected assemblies at all levels, mass organizations of labor, women, and farmers, and all sorts of NGOs that make Cuban socialism what it is (more on this below). It is facile and disingenuous to brand this profoundly participatory political system as "dictatorial. [MORE]

VOTING IN THE ABSENCE OF CHOICE By Charles Sullivan | Too many Americans harbor the illusion that we live in a democracy simply because we have the right to vote But let us be clear about something: voting matters only where real choices are allowed. It is universally understood that special interest money runs the American political system and thus defines what the choices will be. [MORE]

A TALE OF TWO TEDS By Patrice Greanville | PATRICK McCARTHY's BENIGHTED OPINION OF TED NUGENT is testament to the truth of Bessimer's infamous dictum. Idiots may always be with us. But what's the reality behind the well-polished good 'ole boy act? At 57, Ted Nugent, heavy metal rock star for several decades, has been cheerfully "whacking" animals for 44 years. "Whacking", of course. is Ted's own cute term for what he loves to do best when he comes across an unsuspecting animal. [MORE]

THE PACKAGED CONSCIOUSNESS By Herbert Schiller |The lore of laissez-faire capitalism has given rise to many self-serving myths, and nowhere have they found a more hospitable soil than in America. The reasons for this are many, and probably deserve a separate article, but suffice it to say here that the upshot has been a dismal state of comprehension of contemporary realities. [MORE]

THE SHABRA AND SHATILA MASSACRE By Stephen Gowans |September 16 marks the 24 anniversary of the massacre by Phalangist militias of between 700 and 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese refuges at the Sabra and Shatila camps in west Beirut. The massacre, carried out while the Israeli army ringed and sealed off the camp... [MORE]

WHY DID THE GERMANS KEEP SUPPORTING HITLER TILL THE BITTER END? By R.J. Evans | Why did Germans keep supporting Hitler and the Nazis until the end of the war? Why didn't they rise up against a regime that was committing mass murder and atrocity on an unimaginable scale? Why didn't the mass Allied bombing of German cities lead to a popular revolt against Hitler? [MORE]

SADDAM DIED BEAUTIFUL—A SPECIAL EULOGY By Gary Brecher | Saddam told the ski-mask monkeys they weren't real men. And he had the right to say that too. Call him what you want, but Saddam was a man, a real man. One of the last..." [MORE]

SADDAM'S EXECUTION WAS A GARGANTUAN PR DISASTER By Matt Taibbi |"[T] he engine behind this entire escapade was really the great mass of ordinary Beltway apparatchiks and media creatures who cheerfully assented once the idea squirted out of Bush's mouth. You're talking about a bunch of half-bright golfers from the Virginian suburbs, people raised on Archie comics and fuzzy patriotic platitudes and old saws gleaned from William Holden war movies and their postwar corporate-executive Dads..." [MORE]



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