Bulletin N°406



May Day 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
At the dinner table recently I asked my 11-year-old daughter which she would prefer: to be poor in a wealthy society, or to be wealthy in a poor society. I explained she could have access to anything she wanted in both societies --but in the first, commodities and services would be under public control and available to everyone; while in the second society, production would be restricted by the private profit motive and only the most wealthy (which would be her hypothetical situation) could have access to everything that was produced.

In 10 seconds she produced her answer: "I'd choose to live poor in a wealthy society and have what I want."

When I asked why, she replied, "Well, wouldn't you?"

I insisted, but why would you? She spoke about feeling guilty seeing poor people, but I suggested she could avoid them and besides they would be useful in building her self-esteem, by allowing her to feel superior to them. She could think she was better than them because she was rich, and she could use it as evidence that she really was better than other people.

She did not quite see how she could avoid seeing poor people, since they did most of the work in our society. And anyway, everyone is superior at something, and no one is superior at everything. So what the hell was I talking about, superiority being axiomatic . . . ?

Her impatience gave me pause. There is something in the human composition similar to a spring ready to uncoil at any moment. Moral outrage is just beneath the surface. It's not something you want to get close to, unless you are prepared to die.

Bearing in mind the old adage, "A coward dies a thousand deaths," I ask my daughter one last question: "Do you love me?" She smiled and left the room.

A Brief Report on our Cours Alternatif this week in American Civilization : "The American Healthcare System In Question".
Where : In front of the Emergency Room of the Grenoble General Hospital
When : Wednesday, 29 April 2009, 15h à 17h
Purpose : To participate in the formation of social consciousness in the community where we live.

The tradition of public intellectual may be returning to France, as it is in the United States. During the past weeks of the French university strike, teachers and students have gone off campus to conduct cours alternatifs. This pedagogical experiment  has aroused much interest in town. Our discussion of issues which very often relate directly to the lives of all citizens have been met with enthusiastic response and appreciation by the non-students with whom we have come in contact, on the tram lines and now at the hospital exit.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, 29 April, I met with about 20 students in front of the hôpital du Nord Salle d'Urgence, and there we held our alternative course on "The American Healthcare System in Question," discussing Elisabeth Chamorand's book, Le systyem de santé américain: poids du passé et perspectives (Paris: les études de la documentation française, 1996) and recent articles from Nation Magazine, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, as well as Internet documents related to Michael Moore's recent film, SICKO.

We began our course outside the hospital in a gentle rain, standing under the protection of a small tram station shelter. We hung up our shingle announcing who we were and what we were doing; then introduced the first subject: "Life expectancy in America and elsewhere."

A brief historical review of world demography was presented, to the interest of many bystanders coming out of the hospital: the world population in the year 1 A.D. is estimated to have been no more than 300 million and in 1000 A.D. it had grown to only 310 million. By 1800, the population of the world had reached 1 billion, and by 1900, 1.6 billion people inhabited our planet. This figure rose rapidly after 1900: in 1950, 2.5 billion; in 1960 3 billion; in 1980, 4.5 billion; in 2000, 6.1 billion; and in 2010, the projection in around 6.8 billion.

During the period of the Roman empire, the average life expectancy was no more 25 years (due to the high infant mortality rate). By 1900, the world average had risen to 30 years, and in 1985, the world average live expectancy was 62 years.

I then pointed out the 2008 United Nations statistics on live expectancies in various countries, along with the rates of infant mortality. The world average for live expectancy, according to this UN report in 2008 was 67.2 years (65 for males, and 69.5 for females). The United States was ranked number 38 out of a total of 191 countries for human longevity, the average life expectancy from birth being 78.2 years (75.6 for males, and 80.8 for females). By contrast, France was ranked number 10, with an average of 80.7 years (77.1 years for males, and 84.1 years for females). In first place was Japan, averaging 82.6 years (79 for males, and 86.1 for females). The infant mortality rates of the above countries were as follows: Japan = 3.3 per 1000; France = 4.4 per 1000; and the USA = 6.8 per 1000.

We commented on the statistics give, pointing out that life expectance improves as one gets older. By the time a child reaches 1 year of age, his/her life expectancy improves. For example, the average life expectancy in the USA is around 78 years, but for those who are 65 years old, their life expectancy is almost 83 years.

But by far, the statistics which attracted the most interest in this early discussion concerned the Former Soviet Union. Our purpose in this course was to question the privatization of health care in the United States, and the FSU offered a "before and after" picture of the liberal takeover of health care in a society. In Russia, we found that the life expectancy in 2008 had fallen since the collapse of the Soviet Union, to an average of 65.9 years (59 for males, and 73 for females). This was all the more interesting when compared to China, where the average life expectance in 2008 was 72.8 years (71 for males, and 75 for females). The statistics that brought a shock to everyone standing around were related to infant mortality in these two formerly socialist countries: The infant mortality rate in China was higher than that of Russia (25.3/1000 compared to 19.5/1000), but despite the higher infant mortality rate in China, the life expectancy in Russia was lower by 12 years for males and by 2 years for females than that of China.

At than moment, a man just leaving the hospital and joining the crowd around us spoke up: "Do you know," he spoke in perfect English (although our cours alternatif was being conduced in French so that the people around us would understand), "what the life expectancy of homeless people in France is?  It is 49 years for men, and 52 years for women!" he shouted out. I asked him to say it in French so everyone would understand. After repeating it in French, he thanked us for including him in the discussion and excused himself, taking the tram to his destination.

We continued our discussion of the healthcare system in the United States for two hours, finally leaving the hospital area at around 17h30.

Students proposed that our next cours alternatif should be on the question of Homelessness in America, with homeless people living in Grenoble invited to participate in the discussion. 

The philosophy of our cours alternatif is to look beyond the Sarkozy Period of French history, and to attempt to create positive traditions and institutional functions that will better serve the French nation, which now finds itself under attack by the capitalist offensive to create new sources of private profit. While the French population is being exploited as never before by this tiny group of parasites, we wish to create a future better than the past, and establish a new role for students and intellectuals in French society. As usual, we are looking for the signs of the future in the present, and not in some phantasy of final "success" and absolute "security".

The 6 items below were received by CEIMSA recently and represent a tide of democratic movement toward de-privatization of the necessities of life: such as health, education, food, and culture.

Item A., sent to us by Truth Out, is a copy of Sameer Pandya's article, "The Financial Carnage on Campus," in which he describes the "double bind" of being a university student in the United States today.

Item B., sent to us by Grenoble University undergraduate, Anaël Aminot, is a copy (in French) of the "Charte de Grenoble," an historic document from 1946, when the national student association, Union National des Etudiants de France (UNEF) met on 20 April 1946, to draw up and sign their famous declaration elaborating on the role of students in post-war French society.

Item C., sent to us by Grenoble University undergraduate, Mélisa Kidari, is an announcement (in French) by Avaaz.org, an international non-government organization which tries to influence the policies of governments around the world. (In this case the policy is climate control.)

Item D., forwarded to us by Professor James Cohen, is an article by Al Giordano on " How The "NAFTA Flu" Exploded".

Item E., from Information Clearing House, is a short article giving an official describing of the state of America's economy. (Hold on to your safety belts!)

Item F. is an article by John Pilger on "Obama's first 100 days", followed by critical comments at the ZNet site.

 And finally, from The Real News we have a report on the current machinations of the giant Agri-business industry in the midst of the international Swine Flu controversy :


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Dircector of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Truth Out :
Date: 28 April 2009
Subject: Financial Carnage on Campus.

Sameer Pandya, Miller-McCune.com: "Despite the presence in the popular imagination of the scrappy entrepreneur who makes his fortune with barely a high school education, or in the case of, say, Bill Gates or Kanye West, for whom being a college dropout is perceived as being an important source of their success, a university education continues to be an enduring, robust metaphor of American opportunity and upward mobility."

The Financial Carnage on Campus
by Sameer Pandya


from Anaël Aminot :
Date: 30 April 2009
Subject: The Student "Charte de Grenoble" signed in 1946 at the 35th congress of the Union National des Etudiants de France (UNEF).

Professor Feeley,
Here is a copy of the text I showed you yesterday at our cours alternative in front of the hospital. It is called "Charte de Grenoble" signed in 1946 @ the 35th congress of the Union National des Etudiants de France (UNEF) which will evolve and be divided in two: one part became the UNEF-ID ; the other will remain divided into smaller structures which are now  the actual Bureau Des Etudiants and Corpo ( association historique des étudiants en droit, medecine et pharmacie).

"Charte de Grenoble" adopté par le 35° Congrès de l'Union nationale des étuidiants (UNE) réuni à Grenoble, le 20 avril 1946

Les représentants des étudiants français, légalement réunis en Congrès national à Grenoble, le 24 avril 1946, conscients de la valeur historique de l'époque;

l'Union Française élabore la nouvelle déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du citoyen;

s'édifie le Statut pacifique des nations;

le monde du travail et de la jeunesse dégage les bases d'une révolution économique et sociale au service de l'Homme;

Affirment leur volonté de participer à l'effort unanime de reconstruction;

Fidèles aux buts traditionnels poursuivis par la Jeunesse étudiante lorsqu'elle était à la plus haute conscience de sa mission;

Fidèles à l'exemple des meilleurs d'entre eux, morts dans la lutte du peuple français pour sa liberté;[]

Constatant le caractère périmé des institutions qui les régissent;

Déclarent vouloir se placer, comme ils l'ont fait si souvent au cours de notre histoire, à l'avant-garde de la jeunesse française, en définissant librement, comme bases de leurs tâches et de leurs revendications les principes suivants :

Article premier
L'étudiant est un jeune travailleur intellectuel.


Article II
En tant que jeune l'étudiant a droit à une prévoyance sociale particulière dans les domaines physique, intellectuel et moral.

Article III
En tant que jeune, l'étudiant a le devoir de s'intégrer à l'ensemble de la Jeunesse nationale et mondiale.


Article IV
En tant que travailleur, l'étudiant a droit au travail et au repos dans les meilleures conditions et dans l'indépendance matérielle, tant personnelle que sociale, garantie par le libre exercice des droits syndicaux.

Article V
En tant que travailleur, l'étudiant a le devoir d'acquérir la meilleure compétence technique.


Article VI
En tant qu'intellectuel, l'étudiant a droit à la recherche de la vérité et à la liberté qui en est la condition première.

Article VII
En tant qu'intellectuel, l'étudiant à le devoir :
[] de chercher, de propager et défendre la vérité, ce qui implique le devoir de faire partager et progresser la culture et de dégager le sens de l'histoire;
[] de défendre la liberté contre toute oppression, ce qui, pour l'intellectuel, est la mission la plus sacrée.

from Mélisa Kidari :
Date: 30 April 2009
Subject: Visionnez notre annonce sur le climat.

Chers amis,

Le temps passe et devant l’inaction internationale, nous nous dirigeons droit vers une catastrophe climatique. Or, des progrès pourraient être accomplis cette semaine lorsque les 17 principales économies mondiales se réuniront à l’invitation du Président américain pour discuter d’un nouveau traité international contraignant sur les changements climatiques.

Malheureusement, cette rencontre est accompagnée d’un blitz intense de publicités et de lobby de la part des industries polluantes. Le but d’un tel blitz? Désarmer, mal informer et influencer les négociateurs présents à la rencontre, les médias et le public.

Nous tentons donc de contrer ce message à l’aide de notre propre message destiné à la télévision. Ce message sera un pastiche humoristique des publicités de la plus grande compagnie pétrolière du monde : ExxonMobil. Même si vous n’avez pas vu les publicités originales, tous les négociateurs présents à la rencontre de cette semaine les ont vues. Si nous arrivons à collecter 100 000$ ou plus dans les prochaines 48 heures, CNN et d’autres chaînes diffuseront notre message fréquemment durant toute la réunion du Président sur le climat. Visionnez l’annonce ici:

Visionnez l’annonce ici!

Un traité international contraignant est devenu essentiel : Les preuves scientifiques des changements climatiques sont claires et les conséquences d’un réchauffement climatique notable sur les droits économiques et sur les droits de l'homme sont des plus effrayantes. Or, les dirigeants mondiaux qui veulent faire changer les choses par des actions sérieuses font actuellement face aux obstructionnistes les plus déterminés et les plus riches de la planète : le lobby des énergies fossiles, qui risqueraient de perdre des milliards de dollars en profits si ces actions sérieuses étaient entreprises.

Les compagnies de pétrole et de charbon pensent qu’elles peuvent nous faire renoncer à espérer la conclusion d'un traité énergique à Copenhague, par la seule force de leurs publicités assenées à coups de dollars. ExxonMobil en particulier, qui a enregistré ce mois-ci les plus gros bénéfices de l’histoire des entreprises américaines , a envahi les ondes médiatiques sur plusieurs continents pour faire passer le message que les profits liés aux carburants fossiles étaient bénéfiques pour l’environnement et favorisaient le développement durable. Une des publicités d’ExxonMobil a été retirée des ondes l’an dernier au Royaume-Uni parce qu’elle était mensongère.

Nous ne pouvons pas orchestrer une campagne aussi coûteuse, mais nous possédons tout de même deux avantages sur ces compagnies : Premièrement, nous avons la vérité de notre côté et deuxièmement, nous constituons un mouvement citoyen puissant pour une action climatique. Ensemble, utilisons les millions de dollars de l’industrie du pétrole à notre avantage. Visionnez notre pastiche d’une annonce d’ExxonMobil et donnez dès maintenant pour rappeler aux 17 plus grandes économies mondiales à qui ces lobby servent vraiment :


Le temps presse et nous devons convaincre les dirigeants mondiaux de sauver la planète. Le secteur des énergies renouvelables et le secteur environnemental sont largement dépassés en nombre par les lobbyistes des énergies fossiles, le ratio étant de 1 pour 8. Ensemble, nous ne pourrons peut-être pas contrer toute leur propagande, mais avec des campagnes ciblées et intelligentes, nous pourrions avoir un impact sur les ambitions des Etats-Unies et des autres grandes économies mondiales pour les négociations sur le climat.

Gardons l'espoir! Ben, Taren, Iain, Brett, Pascal, Alice, Ricken, Graziela, Paul, Paula et le reste de l’équipe d’Avaaz


Plus d’informations sur le Forum sur le climat tenu à Washington :

Les grands pollueurs réunis en forum à Washington

Washington franchit un pas historique contre le réchauffement climatique http://www.lesechos.fr/info/energie/4855576.htm

L'administration Obama oeuvre sur deux fronts face à la question climatique http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2009/04/27/l-administration-obama-oeuvre-sur-deux-fronts-face-a-la-question-climatique_1185960_3244.html



Avaaz.org est une organisation non gouvernementale indépendante à but non lucratif, qui mène des campagnes mondiales pour faire en sorte que les opinions et les valeurs des peuples influent les décisions mondiales. (Avaaz signifie "voix" dans de nombreuses langues). Avaaz ne reçoit aucun financement d'aucun gouvernement ou entreprise. L'équipe d'Avaaz est basée à Londres, New-York, Paris, Boston, Genève, Buenos Aires et Rio de Janeiro. +1 888 922 8229

Pour contacter Avaaz, ecrivez-nous à info@avaaz.org. Vous pouvez aussi envoyer un courrier à notre bureau à New York : 857 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10003 U.S.A.


from James Cohen :
Date: 30 April 2009
Subject: "NAFTA Flu" / la grippe du libre-échange.

forwarded by James Cohen from:
C. Zepeda-Millan
PhD Candidate
Department of Government

How The "NAFTA Flu" Exploded :
Smithfield Farms Fled US Environmental Laws to Open a Gigantic Pig Farm in Mexico, and All We Got Was this Lousy Swine Flu
by Al Giordano
(Special to The Narco News Bulletin)

US and Mexico authorities claim that neither knew about the “swine flu” outbreak until April 24. But after hundreds of residents of a town in Veracruz, Mexico, came down with its symptoms, the story had already hit the Mexican national press by April 5. The daily La Jornada reported:

Clouds of flies emanate from the rusty lagoons where the Carroll Ranches
business tosses the fecal wastes of its pig farms, and the open-air
contamination is already generating an epidemic of respiratory infections in
the town of La Gloria, in the Perote Valley, according to Town Administrator
Bertha Crisóstomo López.
The town has 3,000 inhabitants, hundreds of whom reported severe flu symptoms in March.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reporting from Mexico, has identified a La Gloria child who contracted the first case of identified “swine flu” in February as “patient zero,” five-year-old Edgar Hernández, now a survivor of the disease.

By April 15 ­ nine days before Mexican federal authorities of the regime of President Felipe Calderon acknowledged any problem at all ­ the local daily newspaper, Marcha, reported that a company called Carroll Ranches was “the cause of the epidemic.”

La Jornada columnist Julio Hernández López connects the corporate dots to explain how the Virginia-based Smithfield Farms came to Mexico: In 1985, Smithfield Farms received what was, at the time, the most expensive fine in history ­ $12.6 million ­ for violating the US Clean Water Act at its pig facilities near the Pagan River in Smithfield, Virginia, a tributary that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The company, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dumped hog waste into the river.

It was a case in which US environmental law succeeded in forcing a polluter, Smithfield Farms, to construct a sewage treatment plant at that facility after decades of using the river as a mega-toilet. But “free trade” opened a path for Smithfield Farms to simply move its harmful practices next door into Mexico so that it could evade the tougher US regulators.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect on January 1, 1994. That very same year Smithfield Farms opened the “Carroll Ranches” in the Mexican state of Veracruz through a new subsidiary corporation, “Agroindustrias de México.”

Unlike what law enforcers forced upon Smithfield Farms in the US, the new Mexican facility ­ processing 800,000 pigs into bacon and other products per year ­ does not have a sewage treatment plant.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, Smithfield slaughters an estimated 27 million hogs a year to produce more than six billion pounds of packaged pork products. (The Veracruz facility thus constitutes about three percent of its total production.)

Reporter Jeff Teitz reported in 2006 on the conditions in Smithfield’s US facilities (remember: what you are about to read describes conditions that are more sanitary and regulated than those in Mexico):

Smithfield’s pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like
barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and
fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn
around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of
a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight,
straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall
into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can
wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their
mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes,
stillborn pigs­anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that
drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in
the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and
everything bursts out into a large holding pond.

The temperature inside hog houses is often hotter than ninety degrees.

The air, saturated almost to the point of precipitation with gases from shit and chemicals, can be lethal to the pigs. Enormous exhaust fans run twenty-four hours a day. The ventilation systems function like the ventilators of terminal patients: If they break down for any length of time, pigs start dying.

Consider what happens when such forms of massive pork production move to unregulated territory where Mexican authorities allow wealthy interests to do business without adequate oversight, abusing workers and the environment both. And there it is: The violence wrought by NAFTA in clear and understandable human terms.

The so-called “swine flu” exploded because an environmental disaster simply moved (and with it, took jobs from US workers) to Mexico where environmental and worker safety laws, if they exist, are not enforced against powerful multinational corporations.

False mental constructs of borders ­ the kind that cause US and Mexican citizens alike to imagine a flu strain like this one invading their nations from other lands ­ are taking a long overdue hit by the current “swine flu” media frenzy. In this case, US-Mexico trade policy created a time bomb in Veracruz that has already murdered more than 150 Mexican citizens, and at least one child in the US, by creating a gigantic Petri dish in the form pig farms to generate bacon and ham for international sale.

None of that indicates that this flu strain was born in Mexico, but, rather, that the North American Free Trade Agreement created the optimal conditions for the flu to gestate and become, at minimum, epidemic in La Gloria and, now, Mexico City, and threatens to become international pandemic.

Welcome to the aftermath of “free trade.” Authorities now want you to grab a hospital facemask and avoid human contact until the outbreak hopefully blows over. And if you start to feel dizzy, or a flush with fever, or other symptoms begin to molest you or your children, remember this: The real name of this infirmity is “The NAFTA Flu,” the first of what may well emerge as many new illnesses to emerge internationally as the direct result of “free trade” agreements that allow companies like Smithfield Farms to escape health, safety and environmental laws.

from Information Clearing House :
Date: 30 April 2009
Subject: The Immanent Economic Collapse in America.

It's official. The United States is mired in its worst economic downturn in half a century, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Data released by the department show that the U.S. economy shrank by 6.1 percent during the first three months of the year – a full percentage point worse than what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had been predicting.

U.S. Commerce Department: U.S. economy worst in 50 years


from John Pilger :
Date: 30 April 2009
Subject: Mad Men Did Well.

Obama's 100 Days -- The Mad Men Did Well

by John Pilger

The BBC's American television soap Mad Men offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the "smart" people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relations, became a way of deceiving dreamt up by those who had read Freud and applied mass psychology to anything from cigarettes to politics. Just as Marlboro Man was virility itself, so politicians could be branded, packaged and sold.

It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The "Obama brand" has been named "Advertising Age's marketer of the year for 2008", easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama's election campaign as "an institutionalised mass-level automated technological community organising that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force". Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarised from the Latino union organiser César Chávez - "Sí, se puede!" or "Yes, we can" - the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush.

No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush's wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush's warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King's legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous "Change you can believe in", it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. "We will be the most powerful," he often declared.

Perhaps the Obama brand's most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as "adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion . . ." (Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: "Many spiritually advanced people I know . . . identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who . . . can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet."

In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush's gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not "persons", and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of "defence", Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

All over the world, America's violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, "the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of 'smart bombs' and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel" and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.

In Afghanistan, the US "strategy" of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the "Taliban") has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely. Obama's policy, one unchanged since the Cold War, is to intimidate Russia and China, now an imperial rival. He is proceeding with Bush's provocation of placing missiles on Russia's western border, justifying it as a counter to Iran, which he accuses, absurdly, of posing "a real threat" to Europe and the US. On 5 April in Prague, he made a speech reported as "anti-nuclear". It was nothing of the kind. Under the Pentagon's Reliable Replacement Warhead programme, the US is building new "tactical" nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war.

Perhaps the biggest lie - the equivalent of smoking is good for you - is Obama's announcement that the US is leaving Iraq, the country it has reduced to a river of blood. According to unabashed US army planners, as many as 70,000 troops will remain "for the next 15 to 20 years". On 25 April, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, alluded to this. It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered - especially as the nation's economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama's principal economic adviser, is throwing $3trn at the same banks that paid him more than $8m last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in.

Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America's "grand design", as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it. In advertising terms, Bush was a "brand collapse" whereas Obama, with his toothpaste advertisement smile and righteous clichés, is a godsend. At a stroke, he has seen off serious domestic dissent to war, and he brings tears to the eyes, from Washington to Whitehall. He is the BBC's man, and CNN's man, and Murdoch's man, and Wall Street's man, and the CIA's man. The Madmen did well.

Comments :

1) Susceptible Journalists
By Small, Brian

Of the 64% of eligible voters that bothered, 52% voted for Obama, 46% for McCain. What percentage of the population believe{d|s} the branding? It makes you want to go back to Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent and countless web writings about how the 'mandarins' or intellectuals are most susceptible to PR propaganda, (sorry for the redundancies) How many regular people are as taken with the new brand? How much do they really expect???

No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush's wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush's warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King's legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous "Change you can believe in", it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. "We will be the most powerful," he often declared.

Perhaps the Obama brand's most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as "adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion . . ." (Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: "Many spiritually advanced people I know . . . identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who . . . can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet."

Reply to this Comment

2) 1984
By Mason, Mark

Oh, I needed to read this blog entry by Pilger today! Right on. Obama is a total sell-out. How he fails to take a moral position on waterboarding is disgraceful. He's a slick opportunist. No other word comes to mind than "opportunist" when thinking of American presidents. No on can reach the White House without exhibiting the appropriate obedience to corporate power and the military-industrial-congressional complex.

I would surely leave the US for parts unknown without Z-Space. Knowing that we're not alone is crucial to combatting cynicism and resignation. It's so painful to look at the corruption of American government. It's bad enough that the workplace is a tyranny of corporate masters. Has Obama no shame? Doesn't he have any part of his personhood which reacts violently to his own corruption. Doesn't he know that he's a sell-out. Doesn't Obams know that his behavior is inprincipled and mere opportunism? Doesn't Obama have any shame that he puts his rhetorical skills to use as a tool to cover up high crimes and misdemeanors? The corporate media is in collusion.

They really aren't "one of us." The US does have a power elite which has no moral footing. There are people unlike anyone I know. It's so hard to imagine anyone willing to drop bombs and pretend that it's okay for the past president to engage in torture, and to take money out of the pockets of the many to put in the pockets of the powerful bankers.

What happened to my country? FDR didn't do this during the depression. He put people to work. Where is the WPA (Works Progress Administration) when you need it?. Who stole my country?

Who stole my country? The only way to get it back is to organize resistance, but I don't see anyone in the streets. Where is everybody? Where are the unemployed, the homeless, and the exploited working poor?  The most disturbing element of modern life is that it's so quiet. 1984.

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3) Re: Obama's 100 Days -- The Mad Men Did Well
By Wolfe, Marthe

Actually, it is way PAST time to take to the streets.

I drew up a blurprint for taking Washington DC on the plastic progressive site CommonDreams almost 3 years ago.

Folks whined and puled and sniveled that it wasn't convenient and that a few people might get killed.

Look what you have now


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4) Obama's 100 Days -- The Mad Men Did Well
By Forbes, Donald

I don't know what to think of this column. Pilger is my favorite reporter. I have been a critic of Obama's foreign policy but hopefully this column was a little harsh. We will have to wait and see how some of the things Pilger predicted come to pass. The system demands some of the Obama's policies if he wants to remain effective. Hopefully he will see the error of his ways if enough people demand it.

FDR once said to a group whose policies he agreed with "I agree with you that this should be done now make me" A politician in this country has to be made to do the right thing. It is time to take to the streets.