Site Updates for November 23

Weekly Interviews, Article Update, & A Few Noteworthy Links

SibelsBFLogoOur Boiling Frogs Show is now officially a weekly-based Podcast interview series. The interviews will be posted every Friday afternoon. Our upcoming guests: Mizgin Yilmaz, Kristina Borjesson, Mark Klein, Pepe Escobar, and Russ Baker. We are scheduling several other exciting and informative interviews; stay tuned.

We have an updated version of Joe Lauria’s FROM FLATBUSH TO THE STREETS OF KANDAHAR here. My site statistics report says it’s been widely clicked-upon & downloaded, so check it out if you haven’t read this solid piece, and go back and re-read it if you’ve read the original piece and want more!

Noteworthy Stories & Links

Welcome Comrade Maobama

Pepe Escobar has a two-part series on Obama’s China Visit at Asia Times. For those of you who may not know; I happen to be a big fan of Mr. Escobar, his solid track record in investigative journalism, his bold and witty writing style, and his untainted and independent stand when it comes to real reporting. When you get a chance check out ‘The Best of Pepe Escobar’ at Asia Times . Here is his part I:

Welcome Comrade Maobama, Part I

As mentioned above, last week we interviewed Mr. Escobar, and will publish the interview in about 4 weeks. 

Lobbyists Boldly Craft & Insert Provisions to the House Bill

As the numbers and actions of sold out spineless representatives in Congress increase, the lobby industry’s takeover of Congress and our legislation gets bolder and bolder. Here is a recent example presented by the Sunlight Foundation:

More than a dozen lawmakers inserted statements supporting a biotechnology provision added to the House health care bill that was crafted by lobbyists for the biotechnology firm Genentech.

Wait a minute before you start waving the ‘oh the shameless Republicans,’ or ‘sold out spineless Democrats’ flag, because this ain’t partisan, as most significant problems rotting our nation are not:

The Genentech lobbyists crafted two statements — one for Democrats and one for Republicans — for lawmakers to insert into the Congressional Record. The collection of lawmakers is very bipartisan with ten Republicans and eight Democrats issuing near identical statements. (One Democrat, Rep. Heath Shuler, inserted the Republican statement.)

As for the implications? Here is a sound, important, but still micro-level conclusion on implications being cited by several sites and forums:

The words spoken or inserted into the official Congressional Record carry an import that those spoken in a television interview or campaign speech do not. These are official words placed in an archived government document, preserved for posterity. The use of the lobbyist written script by these eighteen lawmakers amounts to full-throated endorsement, not just of the biotechnology provision, but of the interpretation of what that provision means to one particular company, Genentech and their parent company Roche, Inc.

These statements will aid the industry when they lobby the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the implementation of the law and the attendent rules that relate to the biotechnology industry. They also help by putting these lawmakers on the line in official support of Genentech’s view of the provision. In turn, these lawmakers will likely see a hefty rise in campaign contributions from Genentech and their friends. Perhaps Genentech or another biotechnology firm will decide to fund a research project in their district. Even better, the lawmaker could earmark a research grant that could only be filled by Genentech.

And here is my own macro-level, blunt, and totally un-diplomatic conclusion:

Wake up America. This is only one of thousands of diseases inflicting our nation’s governing body. As long as we put off debating, pushing, and fighting for macro-level changes, such as  badly needed campaign finance reform, we’ll be seeing thousands more of these - and worse!

CIA vs.  DNI: The Real Intelligence Wars

The Atlantic has a pretty good analysis of the turf battle between the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence over covert action oversight and the status game when it comes to the White House:

Through intermediaries, Panetta and Blair crossed swords over who should appoint senior intelligence representatives in foreign countries. Now, through interviews, new details are emerging about other, more sensitive conflicts between the two men and their agencies, including which agency is responsible for oversight of the CIA's controversial and classified Predator drone program.

...

Competition between the CIA, the nation's intelligence service, and the DNI, its new intelligence manager, has become fierce in the Obama administration. A victory for one side is seen by the other as a loss of power and authority. As part of the agreement, Blair and Panetta plan to meet weekly with National Security Adviser Jones. Face time with the president is preserved for both men. Blair, or his representative, briefs the president daily. Panetta has a standing meeting with the commander in chief at least one a week. In bureaucratic terms, both the CIA and the DNI need buy in. They need the White House to recognize their formal and informal authorities.

I won’t take up the space by quoting too much; here is the link to the article written by Mark Ambinder: Click here.

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Comments

  1. JamesLaffrey says:

    Dear Sibel,
    I admire you, and I agree with your “macro-level” statement:
    “Wake up America. This is only one of thousands of diseases inflicting our nation’s governing body. As long as we put off debating, pushing, and fighting for macro-level changes, such as badly needed campaign finance reform, we’ll be seeing thousands more of these – and worse!”

    BUT I think you’re not going macro enough. Campaign finance reform can’t happen — just as honest health insurance, war, and banking reforms can’t happen — in the current system. Congress would have to write it and vote for it, and the president would have to sign it. They won’t.

    They must be replaced. Yes, replaced. We need strategy and leadership for doing that level of macro change. And some of us will be murdered as we achieve some successes along the way. That’s the level of commitment and action that we need.

    I see that we have many commenters with a sufficient level of understanding on your site, and on Glenn Greenwald’s site, and on Jeremy Scahill and Bill Moyers sites, etc., yet I don’t see any organizing for effective action on a macro scale. I see a lot of people who think that clicking on SUBMIT COMMENT is a sufficiently rebellious action. It isn’t.

    I’m a nobody. We need some brave leadership from a somebody or a small group of somebodies. So, WHO? And then, as a group, what do we DO? (I have some ideas.) That’s how we’ll make a difference. We already KNOW how deep and wide the criminal corruption is throughout our government. Now, let’s DO things about it. ACTION.

  2. I think supporting this site financially is a good start for a nobody like me. When names get named and veils get lifted, that’s real pressure.

    Maybe it’ll become the Boiling Frogs Movement for Truth & Justice, with thematic mass marches and “leap-ins”. But I’m proud of what’s happening already.

  3. @James Laffrey: I agree with almost all your points. What we lack ‘leadership,’ a real organized movement. So far, as you stated, it is limited to yack & yack. I’m sick & tired of all that yacking, including sometimes my own croaking. I am trying to gather enough of us under one roof, boiling frogs, and move from there. Bring in your ideas.

    @Zica Tanka:You are NOT a nobody. It takes you and every one of our supporters to make that objective a reality. This is only a ‘start,’ it all starts with collective croaking, and then marching the frogs:-)

  4. Pepe Escobar?! OMG, I LOVE Pepe Escobar! Thanks for bringing him here. And Russ Baker, too, I really enjoyed the interview GRITtv’s Laura Flanders did with him and John Perkins.

    I read the piece by Mizgin, RE; Armitage the drug-dealer (http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2009/11/11/armitage-part-i-the-early-years-the-golden-triangle/). Blew. My. Mind (and I was so sure it had already been blown away for good). Thanks for lifting that veil.

    @JL: I agree, I share your frustration with the pace of macro events. However, action isn’t limited to “kinetic activity” alone: Writing, meeting, reading, discussing, educating, learning; all these, too, are actions. This is the power of kenosis, of thin leaves of grass to burst through asphalt from within.

    @SE re: ZT: Good answer! When people say to me, “Oh, no one cares about that, no one can fight city hall, the powers that be, blah blah blah,” you know what I tell them?

    If no one cares, if we lack some one to save us, then, paraphrasing Odysseus, I am NO1 and Some1 both.

    We all are. The power of democracy isn’t found outside of us, it’s the same power we express, for example, by typing or reading, marching or shouting.

    If we’re going to save ourselves, there’s only one way to do it. Two word answer, and I’ve already said it, can you guess?

    We can only save ourselves in the same way we do everything, the same way these words are working right now: from within!

    Power is not an elemental thing, that you go out and acquire, it is essentially, inalienably what we are. That’s the source of the truth in the chant, “The people, united, will never be defeated!” We don’t just have the power, we ARE it!

  5. @kbu: Right on. I think you and Sibel missed the context of my response to the comment above mine. Believe me, I’ve been personally involved in fighting City Hall (literally). It shaped my upbringing in ways that allowed revelations concerning society and politics at an early age.

    What I was trying to say was that financially supporting this website/project, in particular, is an impressive way to “do something”. One drop of rain, pool starts to fill.

  6. Great job on getting Pepe Escobar, Sibel! He’s great in interviews; he’s witty while letting all the cats out of the bag. And his pieces at Asia Times on the Central Asian region are always right on target.

    Biji Heval Pepe!

  7. @ZT: A belated bow in your virtual direction. I didn’t mean to slight your comment, just to amplify SE’s reply. Strangely enough, my home zendo is One Drop Tahoma, near Freeland, Washington here on lovely Whidbey Island.
    http://onedropzendo.org/

  8. Freeland, where Cloud Water changes. Sounds admirable. I’ll check out the site.

  9. @Mizgin: Word! For people who want to catch up on his work, may I suggest two Escobar sources:

    1) http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/Escobar.html

    Absolutely must-read material for anyone wanting to understand the method to our madness in Eurasia.

    For example, I literally leapt to my feet (and sent my wireless keyboard across the room) when I read the following:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Asia Times Online
    South Asia
    Sep 3, 2009

    THE ROVING EYE
    US’s ‘arc of instability’ just gets bigger
    By Pepe Escobar

    The New Great Game is not only focused on the face-off between the United States and strategic competitors Russia and China – with Pipelineistan as a defining element.

    The full spectrum dominance doctrine requires the control of the Pentagon-coined “arc of instability” from the Horn of Africa to western China. The cover story is the former “global war on terror”, now “overseas contingency operations” under the management of President Barack Obama’s administration.

    Most of all, the underlying logic remains divide and rule. As for the divide, Beijing would call it, without a trace of irony, “splittist”. Split up Iraq – blocking China’s access to Iraqi oil. Split up Pakistan – with an independent Balochistan preventing China from accessing the strategic port of Gwadar there. Split up Afghanistan – with an independent Pashtunistan allowing the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline bypassing Russia. Split up Iran – by financing subversion in Khuzestan and Sistan-Balochistan. And why not split up Bolivia (as was attempted last year) to the benefit of US energy giants. Call it the (splitting) Kosovo model.
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KI03Df01.html
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    2) http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=74&jumival=Pepe+Escobar&search=search

    About 80 videos, definitely must-see for his in-depth, first-hand explanation of Pipelineistan, full-spectrum dominance, and the New Great Game. Zbigniew Brzezinski plays a prominent role in PE’s analysis, as he does in the incomparable work of Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gregory.
    http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2009/11/11/podcast-show-11/

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    BOILING FROGS INTERVIEW #11 / PETER B. COLLINS PODCAST #68
    http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2009/11/11/podcast-show-11/

    PETER B. COLLINS @35:30: Paul, a little while back there I cut in on you, I apologize, do you do you recall it, do you want to make it now?

    PAUL FITZGERALD: Yeah, I just wanted to, if I can, I just wanted to bring up this Anthony Cordesman report from CSIS, The New Metrics of Afghanistan, is what it’s called, and he starts this report out—now my my point about this is, if this is coming out of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, then what exactly is going on here? This is a quote from the report:

    No one who works with the unclassified data on Afghanistan can fail to be aware of how poor and contradictory much of that data now are. In general, no NATO/ISDAF government – including the United States – has yet provided an honest or meaningful picture of the war. Far too often, official reporting has been tailored to report success when the Taliban, Hekmatyer, and Haqqani were actually scoring major gains. In other cases, key problems in the Afghan government, the NATO/ISAF effort, and the economic aid effort were ignored or disguised as successes.

    (PAUL FORD): It goes on! I mean it’s absolutely an indictment of the way in which—just the basic way in which—the United States has has been conducting this campaign for the last for the last 8 years. (@39:50)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Indeed it does, with a perfect description of a myth-jacking in progress:

  10. JamesLaffrey says:

    @SibelEdmonds: Thanks for your strong reply. It gives me both hope and patience.
    @ZicaTanka: “Leap-ins.” Nice.
    @knowbuddhau: I like your metaphor, “thin leaves of grass to burst through asphalt.” Yet, as all metaphors have their limitations, I want to say that those thin leaves don’t burst through asphalt: Somebody or something has open cracks for them. Let’s do that.

    So, we’re still focused on pulling fellow Kermits and Hegets out of the pot, eh? (Heget, the only female frog I know!)

    You know, the neocons got it done with a relatively small group. Of course, they had (and have) big money, positions of power, and know no ethical constraints. Nonetheless, our relatively small group can get it done. We’ll have to be creative.

    Here’s ONE of my ideas. We “demand” resignations. Start with Obama and perhaps all key leaders of congressional committees. Through both legal means and novel public events, we charge that they have broken their oaths of office. We don’t have to wait for the next election. (We could list their crimes, of course, but for media consumption, we need to have a simple and clear message.)

    Replies? Retorts?

  11. D’oh, that should be Elizabeth Gould.

  12. @JL: Thanks, nice of you to say. However, I don’t really think someone has to go around and open cracks for apical meristems of roots and shoots to grow.

    Kenosis, self-emptying, happens just like the way you’re hearing these, my unspoken words, in your head. Did I have to be present, did someone have to crack open your ears in order for these words to self-empty their meaning?

  13. @JL encore: Thanks again for the provocative comment. Come to think of it, perhaps we’re talking about different aspects of the same process.

    Cultivation is the process of opening cracks for leaves of grass to grow, right? And kenosis is the endogenous process by which that growth occurs.

    Just so, SE has graciously invited us to join the croaking chorus here at Boiling Frogs Post. Now, it’s up to us to raise our voices from within.

    Regarding your resignation demand. Let’s suppose they miraculously do so. Then what? With whom do we replace them? Do you suggest we go through the order of constitutional succession? Or extra-constitutional, aka some kind of populist coup?

    Throw the bums out–and then what?

    IOW, yeah sure, we could demand all their resignations, but that’s not the problem. We’re “human, all too human,” as Nietzsche put it

    IMO, our modern conception of being in the world needs to catch up with the demands of our constitution. Our political economy demands the active participation of well informed self-sovereign citizens. What we’re educated and socialized to be, sorry to say, are loyal subjects, fans or maybe foot soldiers, of patriarchal masters of a mechanical cosmos.

    IOW, as the obscene disparity between the budgets of the Departments of Defense and Education demonstrate, it’s still a game of who’s the biggest ape with the most kinetic force at hand. Take the “rapport-based interrogations” v. “torture” conflict. We thought we’d grown, as civilized humans, beyond torture, but no, that was a myth. Or, as Edward Bernays would rather have us call it, not propaganda, either, but “public relations.”
    http://www.newstatesman.com/north-america/2009/07/pilger-obama-america-world

    Our elite spend money on the military like drunken pharaohs outfitting pyramids for the afterlife. What kind of economic sense does that make? It doesn’t, it’s insane, of the same order of patriarchal egomania that doomed the Easter Islanders and, I venture guess, the majority of empires in history. Yes, I’m saying it’s a d!ck thing.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    NOVA: Secrets of Easter Island

    “Most scholars point to the cultural drive to complete the colossal stone projects on Rapa Nui as the key cause of depletion of the island’s resources. But it wasn’t the only one. Palm forests disappeared, cleared for agriculture as well as for moving moai. Van Tilburg comments, “The price they paid for the way they chose to articulate their spiritual and political ideas was an island world which came to be, in many ways, but a shadow of its former natural self.”

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/easter/civilization/first.html
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I’m suggesting that rearranging our moai won’t do us a bit of good while we still believe raping Mother Nature for all she’s worth is the very epitome of “the good life.”

  14. JamesLaffrey says:

    OK. I read the latest post (State Secrets Privilege: The Puppets and Puppet Masters). It’s another fine post. I was a journalist. I saw the shit myself. Anyway, I did my homework: Googleing and skimming for tone and cases mentioned. Now I’m back to see that this thread has probably played out.

    But I think it’s my duty to add this follow-up to my first “idea” (in an above comment).

    We need a high-profile group for media attention: some people with legal weight, some with a good kind of fame. Meanwhile, we push legal cases. The pressure snowballs. If we actually succeed in getting resignations, it will mean that we’ve gained some legal and popular standing. Then the first wave of replacements (for example, Vice Pres. Biden) ought to be far more responsive to We The People. That’s when real reforms – campaign finance, health insurance, bankster-military-intelligence – become possible.

    Of course, we don’t quit there. We intend to govern. We get some of our leaders elected. If we don’t lie, if we don’t break the trust we’ve earned among the population, we’ll maintain the kind of support Obama had but betrayed. Our successes will build, one upon another. And we’ll achieve the best representative democracy yet. We’ll achieve the best Founding Fathers’ dreams.

  15. @JamesLaffrey: Count me in. Good to have a more positive, optimistic, tone like this regularly.

  16. @JL: Thanks for the elaboration on your first idea. I don’t have your experience in journalism, nor in organizing. I respect your suggestions. The weakness I see is the expectation that the replacements will be any better. But hey, it’s worth trying. People do change, esp. when their political fortunes are challenged.

    What we share is the desire to educate and lead America out of the present Waste Land in which we’ve been wandering for god know’s how long now. I really don’t see the problem as being tied to the identity of our present leaders, nor their positions, but the system and culture which sponsor their growth.

    @SE: What am I? Chopped liver? ;-}

  17. Wow. Not a single syllable, not even a “thanks for playing, buh bye.” OK, I’ll take that for a ‘yes, you and your poetics are chopped liver.’

    All I’m saying is, give a poet a chance.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The reader hardly need be reminded that the images not only of poetry and love but also of religion and patriotism, when effec­tive, are apprehended with actual physical responses: tears, sighs, interior aches, spontaneous groans, cries, bursts of laughter, wrath, and impulsive deeds. Human experience and human art, that is to say, have succeeded in creating for the human species an en­vironment of sign stimuli that release physical responses and direct them to ends no less effectively than do the signs of nature the instincts of the beasts. The biology, psychology, sociology, and history of these sign stimuli may be said to constitute the field of our subject, the science of Comparative Mythology. And although no one has yet devised an effective method for distinguishing be­tween the innate and the acquired, the natural and the culturally conditioned, the “elementary” and the “ethnic” aspects of such human-cultural catalysts and their evoked responses, the radical distinction here made by the poet Housman between images that act upon our nervous structure as energy releasers and those that serve, rather, for the transmission of thought, supplies an excellent criterion for the testing of our themes.

    “I cannot satisfy myself,” he writes, “that there are any such things as poetical ideas. No truth, it seems to me, is too precious, no observation too profound, and no sentiment too exalted to be
    42 PRIMITIVE MYTHOLOGY

    expressed in prose. The utmost that I could admit is that some ideas do, while others do not, lend themselves kindly to poetical expression; and that these receive from poetry an enhancement which glorifies and almost transfigures them, and which is not perceived to be a separate thing except by analysis.”

    When Housman writes that “poetry is not the thing said but a way of saying it,” and when he states again “that the intellect is not the fount of poetry, that it may actually hinder its production, and that it cannot even be trusted to recognize poetry when it is produced,” he is no more than reaffirming and lucidly formu­lating the first axiom of all creative art–whether it be in poetry, music, dance, architecture, painting, or sculpture–which is, namely, that art is not, like science, a logic of references but a re­lease from reference and rendition of immediate experience: a presentation of forms, images, or ideas in such a way that they will communicate, not primarily a thought or even a feeling, but an

    impact.

    [Joseph Campbell. (1968). Masks of God: primitive mythology, pp.40-42. New York: Penguin.]

    Pushkin’s Remembrance

    [Trans. published September 21, 2008 by Harpers.org]

    When the noisy day of mortal men grows still
    With illusory nocturnal shadows.
    And sleep, the harvest of a day’s exertion,
    Sinks down upon the silent city streets
    This is my hour of the night, when silent hours
    Drag by in painful attentiveness:
    During the indolent night the wound of my heart’s serpent
    Rises up in me more powerfully;
    Imagination surges: my mind, numbed by yearning,
    Entertains a parade of tortured thoughts;
    Before my eyes, quiet remembrance
    Unfurls its lengthy parchment;
    Thus set back, I rehearse the course of my life,
    I quake and I curse,
    I shed bitter tears and complain painfully,
    But alas the dismal lines cannot be purged.

    –Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin, Remembrance (Воспоминание) (1827)(S.H. transl.)
    http://www.harpers.org/subjects/NoComment#hbc-90003572

  18. Liver and onions
    A fork resting on a plate
    Ol’ factory smells

  19. word press will not log me out!!!!!!!

  20. Another Specific Name: Dr Sami Al-Arian. A Bush administration TURKEY.
    Quote from the Internet:

    Special Report

    The Un-American Treatment of Sami Al-Arian
    By Charley Reese

    Dr. Sami Al-Arian as seen in the award-winning documentary “USA vs. Al-Arian.” A list of upcoming screenings is available at the film’s Web site, (www.usavsalarian.com.)

    WHEN OUR government acts, it acts in our name. If its acts are lawful and honorable, all’s well and good. When they are dishonorable, we have a choice: Either we dissent or assent, even if by our silence.

    In the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, the Bush Justice Department has acted in a most disgraceful manner. Al-Arian was arrested in February 2003 with great fanfare (U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the arrest). The voluminous indictment in general terms accused al-Arian of supporting terrorism by being the U.S. leader of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian pro-independence group the U.S. government chooses to call a terrorist organization.

    The first dishonorable act was to deny him bail. He was held in prison, innocent in the eyes of our law, for two years before they got around to a trial. That lasted five months. The government’s case was so nonsensical that his lawyers did not even present one witness. They rested their case as soon as the prosecution rested its case.

    The jury saw it the same way. It voted not guilty on practically all of the counts and reported that it was deadlocked, 10 to 2, in favor of acquittal, on the others. Al-Arian’s reaction to the verdict: “God bless America.” The government should have released al-Arian while it made up its mind whether to retry him on the remaining counts. Instead, he was kept in prison.

    By this time, Al-Arian was broke, his family distraught, so he negotiated a plea bargain. In the plea bargain, the Justice Department agreed that what he was pleading guilty to (helping some immigrants) involved no violence, no victims and no support for a forbidden organization. The Justice Department also agreed to a minimum sentence. BUT AL-ARIAN MIGHT HAVE BEEN DOUBLE-CROSSED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.

    Sibel, is Al-Arina still in Jail??

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