Left Eye on Books

Friday, February 17, 2006

Alfred McCoy on Democracy Now!

Alfred McCoy, author of “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror” is featured on Democracy Now! today. He emphasizes the long term roots, the efficacy and pain of so called 'torture-lite' methods.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Al Franken's distinguished author of the day

Al Franken's guest of the day: G. Gordon Liddy. I kid you not. Air America: what a waste of liberal money.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Phyllis Bennis on Democracy Now!

When I got up this morning, John Perkins was already holding forth on Democracy Now! So it was only later when I listened to the entire show that I discovered Phyllis Bennis had been on earlier (got that?). Anyway, she was promoting a new book "Challenging Empire: How people, governments and the UN defy US power". Sounds like more truth, less truthiness, than John Perkins.

Perkins again

Today, John Perkins is on Democracy Now!, claiming a top Brazilian official revealed the logic of Lula's turn rightward--Americans had been filming this official's exploits at parties when he was in college, and are now blackmailing him and others to do their bidding. Oh please. It's well known that Lula himself is a heavy drinker. Who in Brazil would care if some bureaucrat danced naked on tables or did a little coke in college? You don't need dark plots of seducing people like Perkins with money and women. Everyone knows that if you get in the good graces of the US there is plenty of money to be had, and with the money comes women. Nothing underhanded about this arrangement. The US doesn't need to drive disobedient finance ministers from office by revealing the possession of the secret sex tape from ten years ago. All they need to do is start a campaign in the media about how this minister is not 'moderate', is 'generating concern in the international business community', etc. and the drumbeat for his resignation will begin.

Anti-intellectualism on the American left is always leading it into these conspiratorial corners--anyone remember the 'shadow government' of the eighties? Why not direct outrage at what is right in the light of day? The US doesn't make a secret about bullying countries to do its bidding. Here is a headline from the Times, dated February 13: US and Israel are said to talk of Hamas' ouster. Today there is a followup story US and Israel deny plans to Drive Hamas from power. The lead sentence is "American and Israeli officials warned again Tuesday that they would cut off aid and transfers of tax receipts to a Hamas-led Palestinian government if it did not renounce violence and recognize Israel". All that's being denied is that this is an attempt to drive Hamas out, although it is difficult to see how this is not the case.

US power could never function globally without the active complicity of thousands of elites in hundreds of countries. The idea of a secretive network directly controlled by the US is convenient for a number of groups on the left, in the US and elsewhere. This does not mean it is true. How sad that Democracy Now! has fallen for this pseudo-oracle.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man continues to sell well, settling into the paperback top ten. Put me on record as suspecting there may be a bit of a James Frey story here, given that Perkins, previously the author of such works as Shapeshifting: Techniques for Personal and Global Transformation, has repackaged the well-known fact that the US bullies countries to do its financial bidding as a mysterious, cloak and dagger tale.

Chris Patten's 'Chutzpah'

The New York Times is at its worst when it brings in a hack from the Hoover Institute to sniff out antisemitism among 'establishment' European opinion:

The prime target of Patten's rapier is American neoconservatives who "considered George H. W. Bush's policies, particularly his failure to topple Saddam Hussein, anemic and deficient in chutzpah." They "strongly supported" Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party and clamored for a rematch against Hussein. Why the Yiddish "chutzpah"? Why not "guts" or "resolve"? So that we would know who "they" are, those clever manipulators who had subverted the American national interest? Patten could not have meant Bush and Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld, who probably don't even know what chutzpah is. At any rate, their world was "dangerous to us all because, in Edmund Burke's famous phrase, 'a great empire and little minds go ill together.' "

Its amazing how the 'liberal establishment' in the US can't even tolerate a little criticism from those people in the world who constitute its most natural allies. Of course, the Times rarely even bothers to acknowledge that there is a world of opinion beyond the US and Europe quite a bit more critical than Chris Patten (please note: whatever its supposed ethno-religious significance, the use of the word 'chutzpah' in the Chris Patten quote above is entirely incorrect, since this is never a desirable characteristic in people).