March 30, 2014
"Where to start? Once upon a time we lived in a fair brown land. Most of it’s still brown and used to be fair, or so we thought, but today it’s like living in a nightmare with right-wing sell-out merchants supposedly representing us in parliament handing over their authority to the privateers and flogging off everything not nailed to our shrinking floorboards. Don’t these nincompoops know that once our public assets are sold, they’re gone for all time? Kaput! No money coming in to government coffers while costs to mug punters like us go through the roof and basic maintenance goes down the drain along with any public accountability. Look what happened to our once-great SEC, Gas and Fuel, public health system and Board of Works. Buggered. Now it’s Medibank’s turn. Off to the private knackery leading us ever closer to what passes for health care in the US of A. Despite keeping other health providers in line and returning healthy annual profits, these certifiable lunatics are planning to build roads from the sale of our assets, when we are screaming out for decent public transport and decent public everything else. In the meantime Lords and Ladies, climate change is upon us.
" Last week my friend Tony Benn died. Loved by many, loathed by the establishment, Tony never stopped fighting for socialism, for unions, for his constituents and anything to do with peace and justice. An eloquent speaker, he often expressed disgust at the moral vacuity of Britain’s Labour Party that he believed had lost its way. He loathed Tony Blair but never left the party, spending the last years of his life on internationalism, solidarity, equality and anti-war activities. Another fine man died suddenly in England at almost the same time. Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) was only 52. A dedicated socialist and militant champion of workers, Bob Crow worked tirelessly to improve their lot. A passionate voice for safety on the railways and for those who worked on them, he never held back from calling a strike. Like Tony Benn, Bob Crow was demonised by the right-wing press.
"A different kind of man altogether, Barack Obama, who’s been in power long enough to do something worthwhile, but hasn’t. People are asking, what’s his presidency for? If there was a plot, he’s lost it. If there was a point, few know what it is. The gap between rich and poor and white and black have grown during his tenure, Guantanamo is still open and bankers continue making obscene profits. In December, he pursued whistleblower Edward Snowden and kept another, Chelsea Manning, in the clink while he told the crowd at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, presumably with a straight face: ‘There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people.’ Putin must be wondering who he’s dealing with. The Americans promised Gorbachev they wouldn't take NATO into Eastern Europe, but they did. They withdrew from the ABM treaty and then did a deal with Poland to deploy anti-ballistic missile bases on Poland’s border with Russia claiming their purpose was to protect Europe against terrorists when anyone with half a brain knows they are directed at Russia. They support terrorists in Chechnya, trained and equipped the Georgian military and gave it the green light to attack Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. Washington financed ‘colour revolutions’ in Georgia and Ukraine and hope to do so in the Russian Federation itself. Every single day, they are busily expanding NATO training forces, building bases and making deals.
"In the real world of Washington, politicians look more like impotent idiots compared with their real masters, the spooks and the spies who shuffle the deck and deal the cards and hide their violent intrigues behind bland initials - the CIA and NSA. The Soviet Union imploded in 1991 and their careers (built on anti-communism) looked headed for extinction when 9/11 came along and saved their bacon. The CIA embraced global torture and officialdom looked the other way. The men in black plucked ‘terrorists’ off the Arab street and shipped them off to less fussy countries where US agents could use medieval methods to inflict pain and punishment, techniques prohibited by US law. CIA operatives even taped the cruelty for their archives. They might have got away with it except some computer geeks blew the doors off government secrecy. Once again, where was Mr President in all this? He didn’t fire the CIA or NSA chieftains even though both had lied to Congress and everyone else. He didn’t launch a seriously independent inquiry nor does he seem to understand that responsibility lies squarely with him. Why isn’t he angry? Because he knows he’s vulnerable to reprisal. The spies know what he knows and can always make use of it. This is the core of the game played by the intelligence establishment and it didn’t start with Barack Obama. As the agencies take the White House ever deeper into the black box, it becomes harder for a president to dissent. It’s easy to see that western-style democracy is like religion, a ritual declaration that means bugger-all.
"I’ll leave the last word to Vladimir Putin who commented a few weeks ago: ‘I sometimes get the feeling that somewhere across the huge puddle, in America people sit in a lab and conduct experiments as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing.’