Don’t tell my mother I work at the White House. She thinks I play the piano in a whore house.
The Republican presidential campaign has tried to make a big issue of Barack Obama at one time associating with Bill Ayers, a member of the 1960s Weathermen who engaged in political bombings. Governor Palin has accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”, although Ayers’ association with the Weathermen during their period of carrying out anti-Vietnam War bombings in the United States took place when Obama was around 8-years-old. Contrast this with who President Ronald Reagan, so beloved by the Republican candidates, associated with. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was an Afghan warlord whose followers first gained attention by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. This is how they spent their time when they were not screaming “Death to America”. CIA and State Department officials called Hekmatyar “scary,” “vicious,” “a fascist,” “definite dictatorship material”. None of this prevented the Reagan administration from inviting the man to the White House to meet with Reagan, and showering him with large amounts of aid to fight against the Soviet-supported government of Afghanistan.
Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, palled around with characters almost as unsavory during his first campaign for the presidency in 1988. His campaign staff included a number of genuine pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic types from Eastern and Central Europe. Several of these worthies were leaders of the Republican campaign’s ethnic outreach arm, the Coalition of American Nationalities, despite the fact that their checkered past was not a big secret. One of them, Laszlo Pasztor (or Pastor) had served in the pro-Nazi Hungarian government’s embassy in Berlin during the Second World War. This had been revealed in a 1971 page-one story in the Washington Post. When this past was again brought up in September 1988, the Republicans were obliged to dump Pasztor and four others of his ilk from Bush’s campaign.
And who has John McCain been palling around with? Who has been co-chair of McCain’s New York campaign and a foreign policy adviser to McCain himself? None other than the illustrious unindicted war criminal and mass murderer Henry Kissinger, who must be very careful when he travels to Europe for there are committed and serious people in several countries there who will again try to have him arrested for the crimes against humanity he’s responsible for … Chile … Angola … East Timor … Vietnam … Laos … Cambodia …
By contrast, there is no evidence that Bill Ayers was involved in any Weathermen bombing that killed anyone; nor have I seen any evidence that on the very rare occasion that an anti-Vietnam War bombing in the United States resulted in a casualty that it could be ascribed to the Weathermen.
John McCain’s bombings certainly killed – some two dozen aerial attacks upon the people of Vietnam, people who had neither done nor threatened any harm to him or his country. What label do we give to such acts, to such a man? His level of violence is matched by his degree of hypocrisy. Speaking of Ayers, McCain asked: “How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?”
In his 2001 memoir, “Fugitive Days,” Ayers writes: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” This is something very few Americans can accept, and I wouldn’t even make the attempt to persuade them. But I personally didn’t blame the Weathermen then, and I don’t blame them now. The Vietnam War was in its eighth year of barbarity. I and the rest of the army of the powerless needed a few points up there on the scoreboard against the lords of the national-security corporate state. A bombing, with a suitably war-criminal target – like the State Department or the Pentagon – and taking care to prevent any casualties, told the bastards that we were still out there, that their impunity was not total, that this is how it feels to be bombed. Armed propaganda. It told the public that there was something more serious going on than a town-hall difference of opinion that could be reasonably resolved by reasonable people discussing things in a reasonable manner. And like an unhappy child having a temper tantrum, we needed some instant gratification. We were struggling against the most powerful force in the world.
The Weathermen were on the right side of that war. John McCain on the wrong side.
And who has Sarah Palin herself been palling around with? John McCain, and the Alaska Independence Party, a secessionist party her husband belonged to for seven years. “My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand,” Joe Vogler, who founded the party, once declared. Earlier this year Governor Palin shouted out to party members: “Keep up the good work. And God bless you.”
I do believe that secession of a state from the union is somewhat frowned upon by the powers that be, and if memory serves me, the last time it was seriously tried the government actually went to war. Who do these Alaskans think they are, the Kosovo gangsters whose secession from Serbia was immediately recognized by Washington?
This just in: John McCain (yes, the same one), as a congressman, met in 1985 in Chile with General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world’s most notorious violators of human rights, credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians, jailing tens of thousands of others, and torturing a great many of them. McCain met with Pinochet apparently without any preconditions, which is what McCain has repeatedly criticized Obama for saying he would do with certain present-day foreign leaders whom McCain doesn’t like. At the time of the meeting, the US Justice Department was seeking the extradition of two close Pinochet associates for an act of terrorism in Washington, DC – the 1976 car-bomb assassination of former Chilean ambassador to the US, Orlando Letelier, a prominent critic of Pinochet, and his American assistant. McCain made no public or private statements critical of the dictatorship, nor did he meet with members of the democratic opposition in Chile. Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy, meeting with Catholic church and human rights leaders and large groups of opposition activists.
The John McCains of America, in and out of Congress, would much sooner pal around with Augusto Pinochet than Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro or Bill Ayers.
The bourgeois triumphalism that attended the funeral of the USSR
Greed is a hot topic now. Stock brokers and others involved in the current financial crisis are angrily accused of being greedy. Time magazine declared that the nation’s current troubles were “the price of greed”. “Blame greed,” echoed the Chicago Tribune. But these establishment publications can’t be taken too seriously. Like other believers in the system, they’re convinced that greed is a built-in, valuable, and necessary feature of capitalism and capitalist man, that it’s indispensable for motivating entrepreneurs, and that it results in all manner of innovation and invention. During the years of the Cold War, this was a key element of the interminable discussions cum arguments between defenders of free enterprise and defenders of socialism; the arguments still continue, although most people now think that history has answered the question – capitalism has won. “The end of history”, leading conservative Francis Fukuyama called it in his well-received book in 1992. He asserted that we couldn’t expect to find a better way to organize society than the marriage of liberal democracy and market capitalism. Subsequent world movements such as anti-globalization and political Islam caused Fukuyama to have some second thoughts about whether history had actually come to an end. (He also came to renounce the war in Iraq which he had initially embraced on the premise that it would bring the joys of liberal democracy and market capitalism to the benighted Iraqi people.)