AuthorTopic: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?  (Read 465 times)

Offline Surly1

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How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« on: May 22, 2018, 08:44:24 AM »
Starting a thread to answer the musical question someone recently posed, probaby rehetorical, as to "how did we allow things to get so fucked up?" These two articles are conjoined and start with the origins of covert statecraft under Ike and Dulles, and lead through Daniel Ellsberg. It's long-- pack a lunch-- but some of the findings along the way may well surprise you. The central article below is from 2003, so we've known all of this for 15 years. Except that we don't.

What the Pentagon Papers were really all about
ASSASSINATIONS, TORTURE, DRUG DEALING,
MONEY LAUNDERING – BY THE CIA


 

DANIEL SHEEHAN EXPLAINS

You’ve heard about the Pentagon Papers and they were a big deal. But what were the Pentagon Papers really all about?

Assassinations, torture, drug dealing, money laundering – by the CIA.

You never heard that part, did you?

Here’s the story:

While Eisenhower played golf (and recovered from a heart attack), the fledgling CIA grew fangs.

Maybe it was his exposure to the mass slaughter of WW II, but whatever the reason Eisenhower was a big fan of covert – and illegal – operations.

The CIA succeeded in using illegal, covert operations to remove the secular and popularly-elected Mossadegeh from power in Iran in 1953 and did the same thing in Guatemala in 1954.

In 1954, something called NSC 5412 was written to set up to give the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State and the President oversight over this secret, un-elected new branch of government.

The so called “Pentagon Papers” were the first public look into the operations of the 5412 committee.

But there’s more to the story than that.

Under the conniving of Allen Dulles, the 5412 committee soon calcified into a weak review board and the real action of the CIA was carried out “off the books” and away from the oversight of the 5412 committee.

That’s how the Vietnam war really started. It had little to do with the Pentagon at all.

Confused yet?

Good.

Now to go deeper down the rabbit hole…

Who exactly was Daniel Ellsberg?

For starters, he was a war hawk.

Then after proving his bona fides as a Marine Lieutenant he was loaned by the Pentagon to the CIA’s proto-Phoenix Program where he engaged in the “pacification” of the Vietnamese people under the direction of none other than CIA officer/Air Force General and overall maniac Edward Landsdale.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Long story short: The Pentagon Papers were released by a CIA operative who managed to keep the attention OFF the CIA and on the Pentagon.

There is no video on this, but there is this excellent article by Douglas Valentine: Will the real Daniel Ellsberg please stand up.

***

Will the Real Daniel Ellsberg Please Stand Up!

 

 

Political activist Daniel Ellsberg became an icon in 1971 after he leaked The Pentagon Papers. This “act of conscience” helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War, and contributed to the demise of President Richard Nixon, whose felonious minions, the infamous Plumbers, sent CIA officer E. Howard Hunt, and former FBI agent (and self-professed rat-eater) G. Gordon Liddy, to burglarize confidential files from Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office. Hunt and Liddy thought they could trump the anti-War movement by showing that Ellsberg was a mentally deranged LSD-abuser, but their slap-happy plan backfired, and instead opened up the Pandora’s box of the CIA inspired dirty tricks the Republican Party relied upon (and still uses today) to wage political warfare.

Starting on March 9th, the Pentagon Papers story will be broadcast as a made-for-TV movie on the popular F/X network. Based partially on Ellsberg’s autobiography, the movie will star quirky James Spader as Ellsberg, and will feature Hayley Lochner as “the wife,” Jonas Chernick as CIA connected New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan, and Paul Giamatti as Anthony Russo, the man who went to prison on Ellsberg’s behalf.

Be forewarned: nowhere in this revisionist history will be audience be presented with the cast of Corsican drug smugglers and CIA agents that shaped Ellsberg’s sensibilities and sent him on his path to New Left notoriety. But as the reader shall see in this article, somewhere between the official Pentagon Papers story, and the CIA’s involvement in international drug trafficking, is a disturbing clash of facts from which Ellsberg will not emerge with his icon status intact.

Ellsberg And the Quiet American

The first thing the reader needs to know is that Ellsberg was not always a pacifist “dove” intent on ending the Vietnam War. At first he was an aggressive “hawk.” His militant approach to the Cold War ? he was all for nuking the Soviet Union ? was shaped during a tour of duty as a Marine lieutenant, and precisely because of his hard-line attitude, and his ability to articulate it, he was offered a job as a Defense Department analyst.

Then in 1965 he was assigned as a Pentagon observer to the CIA’s Revolutionary Development (RD) Program in South Vietnam. Here Ellsberg came under the influence of his mentor, CIA officer cum Air Force General Edward Lansdale. The mass murderer Graham Greene used as the model for Alden Pyle in “The Quiet American,” Lansdale was the architect of the CIA’s anti-terror strategy for winning the Vietnam War. When not engaged in typical RD Program “Civil Affairs” activities, such as helping the local Vietnamese build perimeter defenses around their villages, Ellsberg and his fellow RD advisors, under the tutelage of Lansdale, dressed in black pajamas and reportedly slipped into enemy areas at midnight to “snatch and snuff” the local Viet Cong cadre, sometimes making it appear as if the VC themselves had done the dirty deed, in what Lansdale euphemistically called “black propaganda” activities.

Functioning as a gruesome “shadow warrior” was not Ellsberg’s only claim to fame in South Vietnam. It will not be addressed in the TV docudrama, but Ellsberg was exceedingly charming and possessed with the uncanny ability to reproduce conversations verbatim–talents that made him a highly prized asset of John Hart, the CIA station chief in Saigon. Hart and the CIA’s foreign intelligence staff wanted to know what influential Vietnamese citizens and officials were privately thinking, and plotting, so they introduced Ellsberg into Saigon’s elite social circles, and he began reporting directly to station chief John Hart on matters of political importance.

And if what his CIA colleagues say is true, Ellsberg was not only as a superb spy, he was also as a swashbuckling swordsman who romanced numerous women, including the exquisite Germaine. One part French and three parts Vietnamese, Germaine was the object of every red-blooded American man’s desire, and when Ellsberg met her at a swinging Saigon party, the hot-blooded cocksman immediately rose to the occasion, heedless of the fact that she was engaged to an opium-addicted Corsican drug smuggler named Michel Seguin.

It is here, with Ellsberg’s love affair with Germaine, that the discrepancy between fact and fiction has its origins. According to Professor McCoy, at the time Ellsberg met Germaine, Ellsberg’s close friend, CIA officer Lucien Conein, was negotiating a “truce” with the Corsican gangsters who supplied South Vietnam’s top military officers and government officials with that most lucrative of black market commodities, heroin.

Ellsberg’s Perilous Peccadilloes

Legendary CIA officer Lou Conein was an Old Vietnam Hand. As a member of Detachment 202 of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Conein had fought with the French Special Forces in Indochina in World War II. After the war he married a Vietnamese woman and remained in Vietnam. He joined the CIA upon its creation and after a tour of duty in Europe, he returned to South Vietnam in 1954, as an aide to the aforementioned Ed Lansdale, to help organize the CIA’s anti-communist forces in North Vietnam. As a measure of his knack for deceit and deception, it is worth noting that one of Conein’s favorite “dirty tricks” was “to stage funerals without a corpse, and bury the coffin filled with weapons for later use by the anti-communists.”1

“Black Luigi” Conein departed South Vietnam in 1958 after Lansdale had safely ensconced his Catholic prot?g?, Ngo Dinh Diem, as President of South Vietnam. Conein spent the next few years in the opium rich outlands of Iran as a military advisor to the Shah’s special forces. In 1962 he returned to Vietnam as a “floating emissary,” reporting directly to the Kennedy White House, while secretly coaching the cabal of generals that murdered President Diem and his opium-addicted brother Nhu on 2 November 1963.

After the bloody coup d’etat, Conein remained in South Vietnam, but not without further controversy. As noted, professor McCoy contends that Ellsberg and Conein formed a fast friendship at the exact same moment Conein was arranging a “truce” between the CIA and unnamed Corsican drug smugglers in Saigon.

Conein, however, adamantly denied the allegation that he arranged a drug-related “truce.” In a 1972 letter to McCoy’s publisher, he insisted that his meeting with the Corsicans, “had to do with ameliorating a tense situation engendered by Daniel Ellsberg’s peccadilloes with the mistress of a Corsican.”

Here we return to enchantress Germaine, her opium-addicted Corsican fianc?, Michel Seguin, and a new character in our passion play, Frank Scotton. In 1965 Scotton was ostensibly employed by the U.S. Information Service, though his undercover job as a CIA officer was forming assassination squads around Saigon in what was the prototype of the CIA’s infamous Phoenix Program. Through this experimental “counter-terror” program, which fell under Lansdale’s RD Program, Scotton and Ellsberg met and became the best of friends. In fact, it was Scotton who invited Ellsberg to the party where the fateful encounter with Germaine occurred.

What happened next is subject to conjecture–and it must be emphasized that in order to understand how the Discrepancy might occur, the reader must need be aware that rumors, whisper campaigns, and half-truths are the preferred weapons of political warriors. CIA dirty tricks and deceptions are meant to misdirect and discredit, so one must examine these statements closely to discover what is being concealed, and why. Complicating the already convoluted situation is the fact that Ellsberg’s closest friends, Lou Conein and Frank Scotton, were CIA officers. Which is not meant to cast guilt through association on Ellsberg, but it is intended to warn the reader that one must carefully study their conflicting stories.

Scotton and Conein, in separate interviews with this writer, claimed they warned Ellsberg to sever his relationship with Germaine. But Ellsberg, they said, would not be kept from his lover’s embrace. Scotton and Conein claimed that Michael Seguin hired a Vietnamese assassin to kill Ellsberg, but, they said, they were able to intercept the assassin before he could carry out his contract.

In an interview with this writer, Ellsberg admitted to having had the affair with Germaine, and he confessed that Seguin put a gun to his head and warned him to stay away from the woman they both cherished. But Ellsberg vehemently denied that either Scotton or Conein intervened on his behalf. Their stories, he said, were standard CIA disinformation, designed to make him seem beholden to former CIA comrades, and thus cast doubt on his motives for leaking The Pentagon Papers.

Ulterior Motives

Theoretically, it seems logical to conclude that one of the conflicting stories hides an ulterior motive. And in a search of the recorded history of the time, there is only one source that sheds any light on the situation. All we know, according to Professor McCoy, is that CIA agent Lou Conein met with Corsican gangsters to arrange a “truce” regarding drug smuggling in South Vietnam, and that after this “truce” the Corsicans (including, one would presume, Michel Seguin) continued to serve as “contact men” for the CIA in the drug smuggling business.

This is where The Discrepancy reaches critical mass, for Ellsberg denies that his CIA mentor, Edward Lansdale, or his CIA friends, Lou Conein and Frank Scotton, were involved with Corsican drug smugglers.

Recapping: McCoy claims that Conein arranged a” truce” with the Corsican gangsters over drug smuggling in South Vietnam; Conein denied the allegation and said the meeting concerned Ellsberg’s affair with Germaine; and Ellsberg denies (1) that Conein and Scotton intervened on his behalf, and (2) that Conein, Lansdale and Scotton were involved with drug smugglers.

Who is telling the truth? Could a CIA officer with a photographic memory not be aware that his colleagues were involved with drug smugglers? Or is McCoy’s research fatally flawed? Did the alleged “truce” occur? Was the good professor, who has prompted so many people to question the CIA’s role in international drug smuggling, misled by dirty trickster Conein. Was the ulterior motive to move McCoy toward the Corsicans and away from the CIA’s unilateral drug smuggling operation? Thinking the Unthinkable

It was 1970 when the mainstream American press first reported the CIA’s involvement in international drug trafficking, and it was 1970 when the U.S. Senate launched a potentially explosive investigation into the CIA’s Phoenix “assassination” Program, a special unit of which was providing security for the CIA’s unilateral drug smuggling operation.

The House of Representatives launched deeper probes into CIA drug smuggling and the CIA’s Phoenix Program in early 1971, and, naturally, the CIA at this critical time took extensive countermeasures in a concerted effort to conceal these facts. What is relevant to the discrepancy is the that in June 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the aptly named Pentagon Papers, shifting blame for the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War from the CIA to the military, while distracting public attention from the investigations of the CIA’s Phoenix Program and the CIA’s involvement in drug smuggling.

Ellsberg is aware of the rumor that Conein and Scotton asked him to leak the Pentagon Papers as part of the CIA’s disinformation campaign. But he shrugs off the insidious rumor as yet another instance of ? CIA disinformation designed to cast doubt on his motives for leaking The Pentagon Papers.

While it is definitely politically incorrect within what passes nowadays for the New Left to even make the suggestion, is it unthinkable that Ellsberg might have suffered such a whisper campaign in order to prevent his CIA friends from being indicted for drug smuggling and mass murder?

The Politics Of Heroin (And War Crimes) In America

After Ellsberg leaked The Pentagon Papers, the CIA’s plot to cover-up its unilateral drug smuggling operation moved forward with greater gusto. According to the Justice Department’s still classified DeFeo Report, Conein in the spring of 1971 was called out of retirement by CIA officer E. Howard Hunt and asked to become an advisor to President Nixon’s “drug czar” (and Plumber) Egil Krogh, on matters regarding “problems of narcotic control in Southeast Asia and the Pentagon Papers.”

Consider that in 1971 the relationship between the French intelligence service and Corsican drug smugglers in its employ was exposed after a series of spectacular drug busts made in America with the assistance of the CIA. Concurrently, Conein was called out of retirement and immediately, in June 1971, told McCoy about the “truce” with the French-connected Corsicans, one of who put a gun to Ellsberg head.

Consider also that Egil Krogh’s investigators stumbled upon the CIA’s unilateral drug smuggling operation at this time, and that in July 1971, President Nixon declared the burgeoning war on drugs to be a matter of national security. Nixon went after the CIA and quick as a flash, E. Howard Hunt (Conein’s comrade from OSS Detachment 202) bungled the bugging of the Watergate Hotel. Washington Post reporter and former Naval Intelligence officer Bob Woodward, then assigned to cover Nixon’s war on drugs, was approached by the still anonymous Deep Throat, and based on unsubstantiated rumors, incrementally engendered the Watergate scandal and effectively neutralized Nixon, and his war on drugs.

In the summer of 1972 came the publication of McCoy’s book, which implicated the CIA in Corsican drug smuggling operation in Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Laos. But no CIA officer was ever indicted for drug smuggling. In fact, the CIA boasted that it was actually helping, by infiltrating the Corsican operation, to wage the war on drugs. Amazing as it may sound, McCoy’s exposure in 1972 of the French Connection drug smuggling operation also helped to divert public attention from the CIA’s unilateral drug smuggling operations.

That same summer of 1972, Lou Conein became a consultant to the newly created Office of National Narcotics Intelligence (ONNI) at the Department of Justice. After the Drug Enforcement Administration was formed in July 1973, Conein became chief of a special operations unit that in 1975 was investigated by the U.S. Senate for the dubious distinction of assassinating drug lords.

The Pentagon Papers, Drugs, and Political Assassinations

Today only questions remain. Why did Conein meet the Corsicans in 1965? Was the rumor of an assassination attempt on Ellsberg concocted to provide Conein with a plausible cover story for his “truce” with the drug smuggling Corsicans? If so, why does Ellsberg deny that his CIA comrades, Lansdale, Conein and Scotton, were involved in drug smuggling, as McCoy contends? And, finally, was McCoy deliberately led by Conein in a wide circle around the CIA’s unilateral drug smuggling operation?

Unless these questions are resolved, the truth about Watergate and the Pentagon Papers will continue to elude historians, and this quiet discrepancy will serve, like the TV movie based on Ellsberg’s autobiography, only to perpetuate the myths, mysteries, and half-truths that define American history–a history that hauntingly reflects standard CIA operating procedures.

DOUGLAS VALENTINE is the author of The Hotel TaclobanThe Phoenix Program, and TDY. His new book The Strength of the Wolf: the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968 will be published by Verso. Valentine was an investigator for Pepper on the King case in 1998-1999. For information about Valentine and his books and articles, please visit his website at [url=http://www.douglasvalentine.com]www.douglasvalentine.com[/url].

He can be reached at: redspruce@attbi.com

Valentine’s last article for CounterPunch was: An Act of State: the Assassination of Martin Luther King

 

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 11:54:21 AM »
When I was a little kid, before I started school even, I remember my Mom had a cousin......who was, like my Dad (and every male adult I knew practically), a WWII vet.

He lived in DC when he was in-country, but he worked (supposedly) for the Dept, Of Agriculture and he was stationed in Cambodia. This would have been around 1960, and we were having some kind of family reunion. Somebody mentioned Viet Nam, which at that point I'd never heard of. The cousin (his name escapes me) always struck me as a really smart guy, even as a kid. He seemed much more sophisticated than my parents, after having lived inside the Beltway. LOL.

I know that he tried to recruit my father to come to work for him. My Dad was tempted, but since both my parents grew up in houses with no flush toilets, he wasn't that anxious to take Mom somewhere where they'd have to go outdoors to go potty again. That's how my Mom put it.

Since I've been aware of the real story of Viet Nam, I always wondered if he was a spook.

I can't recall exactly when I figured out that Viet Nam was a total lie to the American people. The war was long over, I know that.  I remember reading about the war in the Encyclopedia Britannica sometime in the 1980's after I bought encyclopedias for my kids. (Remember encyclopedias?). I had an aha moment.

The CIA apparently learned how to raise money selling drugs during Viet Nam, and as far as I know, they probably still do it. I don't believe every conspiracy story I hear, but I think Mike Ruppert had a lot things right about that topic. It was part of Iran-Contra, for sure. I never read Ruppert's longer book (Crossing the Rubicon?) that details his personal travails, but I know about it. I lean toward most of it being true.

I always think about McNamara and how he got religion in his old age. And Ellsberg. I call Ellsberg a patriot.




What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Karpatok

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 01:14:55 PM »
Very interesting as I remember Elsberg well and what a hero he was to the academic left surrounding me. And then I just decided to let following it all go. I'd had enough on the fringes and wanted a real life. And I suppose being presently once again sickened and outraged by all the outright blatant lack of integrity with seemingly every single American institution and aspect I may endure possibly a few more bits of time until I just wash my hands for the last time. Maybe I agree with Eddie as against Palloy whom I like and understand, that real life of human relations and attachment to the natural environment is what is really important. All of these people, ALL! Connected to this obviously flawed and overhyped so called republic, are Slimebags. I've known them all down to the, smaller sniveling little bureaucrats working their conniving way up. I grew up in Washington, lived there most of my life, went to school with the spawn of these people. Why give a shit? Truth and Honor are nowhere among these scrabblers. Never were at any time. They are all parasites even more so now that America is collapsing. I think that I'm becoming a libertarian more so everyday. Sorry Palloy, Hello GO! Was Daniel Ellsberg a patriot? Hell no! Just a self promoting self interested conniving bastard like all the rest. It all stinks of rot to high heaven. That's government by human beings in every case be it hypocrisy of democracy or tyranny of socialism.

Offline Eddie

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2018, 02:31:52 PM »
Dammit, I actually like Palloy too, even though I'm pretty angry with him lately.

He's just really, really morally superior and judge-y, and quick to call people (or me at least) insulting names. I have treated him with respect, and he WILL treat me with respect or suffer the consequences. I am trying to communicate with his semi-autistic ass, so that he understands me. I am not his intellectual inferior, and I don't have the kind of character defects he'd like to ascribe to me, and I don't need him to tell me what to think, or what to do about collapse.

And I don't suffer Enneagram type 1's gladly, anyway. People who are always so sure they know what's right and what's wrong and feel justified in telling other people what they should do?.....they usually lack perspective. It ain't ever that simple.

We see things very differently, he and I. That's fine. That can make for a good forum and a good discussion.

Ellsberg is still alive. I've listened to him in several interviews, and I'm inclined to think he's one of the good guys. Could he have gone to bat to save certain people? Maybe, but I'm not completely persuaded. He blew the whistle, and that was a service to the country, whether his motives were pure or not.

 
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline agelbert

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 02:52:47 PM »
This is very interesting. Thanks for posting it, Surly.  :emthup:

By the way, do you know who the man to the right of Sheehan is? He is Dr. Steven Greer. He is the guy that has been trying to get the USA to admit it has UFO technology and dead ETs for over 20 years. And NO, Greer is not a crackpot. The guy is as serious as they come. I see him wagging his head as Sheehan speaks. It is clear that Dr. Greer (his uncle was a spacecraft designer in NASA) has been in on a lot of the info the rest of us are not privy to for quite some time. Dr. Greer claims he has not been "suicided" because of his "dead man switch" (files to be released in the even of his untimely death).

After the Dullles brothers had Kennedy killed, it's been all skullduggery downhill in the US Fascist Dictatorship. 
 

« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 03:36:28 PM by agelbert »
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
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if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Karpatok

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2018, 03:23:46 PM »
Dammit, I actually like Palloy too, even though I'm pretty angry with him lately.

He's just really, really morally superior and judge-y, and quick to call people (or me at least) insulting names. I have treated him with respect, and he WILL treat me with respect or suffer the consequences. I am trying to communicate with his semi-autistic ass, so that he understands me. I am not his intellectual inferior, and I don't have the kind of character defects he'd like to ascribe to me, and I don't need him to tell me what to think, or what to do about collapse.

And I don't suffer Enneagram type 1's gladly, anyway. People who are always so sure they know what's right and what's wrong and feel justified in telling other people what they should do?.....they usually lack perspective. It ain't ever that simple.

We see things very differently, he and I. That's fine. That can make for a good forum and a good discussion.

Ellsberg is still alive. I've listened to him in several interviews, and I'm inclined to think he's one of the good guys. Could he have gone to bat to save certain people? Maybe, but I'm not completely persuaded. He blew the whistle, and that was a service to the country, whether his motives were pure or not.
Hi Eddie. You see I'm an Enneagram 1 myself, I think. And that's why I get Palloy. And that's why I like him and feel like I could trust him. Because he is basically an idealist and a purist and he thinks that is the most rational path. And probably I agree accept in the dark night of my soul, I know that I am as flawed as everybody else. Like the good Nazi fathers who went home and loved their families after a hard days work. You said yourself we are all human beings racists by way of who we came from and who we prefer. So what? We are all flawed. We are all sinners. We all have hurt others and have much repentance to do. Integrity in my book is being able to acknowledge ones own short comings in relation to the ideals one holds up for everybody. And it's hard, very hard to see and acknowledge that potential for wrong doing in one's self when one thinks one's self to have worked so hard to be good and live up to those ideas. I, for example, am a bad one to talk, and I condemn and condemn and curse. I don't blame you for feeling put on the defensive, you have been a good person. And Palloy is also a very good person. And I admire both of you for continuing to try and communicate about these really important things. We all need each other and need community. So does the US. It has made enemies out of the whole world through its hateful paranoia and aggression. And bye the way,
 Johan Galtungs most important contribution in my view was the speech he gave at George Mason Univ. for the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution called "Global Projections of Deep Rooted Pathologies". This paper is available in entirety on the Internet. I would love to know what you think.  Thanks.

Offline Golden Oxen

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 03:28:58 PM »
Quote
I think that I'm becoming a libertarian more so everyday. Sorry Palloy, Hello GO! Was Daniel Ellsberg a patriot? Hell no! Just a self promoting self interested conniving bastard like all the rest. It all stinks of rot to high heaven. That's government by human beings in every case be it hypocrisy of democracy or tyranny of socialism.

Welcome to the club if you decide to join, thought you would have appeared much earlier.

Of course Ellsberg was just another POS scuzz ball but you are being much too selective K. WE all are, you, me, everybody. That's the point, and why you should want to be a Libertarian. Who but the Dim want another conniving, self serving fucking maggot, or group of them, lording over him?

Offline Golden Oxen

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2018, 03:37:09 PM »
Quote
Ellsberg is still alive. I've listened to him in several interviews, and I'm inclined to think he's one of the good guys. Could he have gone to bat to save certain people? Maybe, but I'm not completely persuaded. He blew the whistle, and that was a service to the country, whether his motives were pure or not.

Interesting but his motive is the point of the discussion.

As far as being a service to the country; that of course is merely your opinion. Mentioned by me only because it appears to me, by the way it is presented, that you state it as a fact.

Offline Surly1

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2018, 05:12:16 PM »
Quote
Ellsberg is still alive. I've listened to him in several interviews, and I'm inclined to think he's one of the good guys. Could he have gone to bat to save certain people? Maybe, but I'm not completely persuaded. He blew the whistle, and that was a service to the country, whether his motives were pure or not.

Interesting but his motive is the point of the discussion.

As far as being a service to the country; that of course is merely your opinion. Mentioned by me only because it appears to me, by the way it is presented, that you state it as a fact.

I always thought he "was one of the good guys" too, for the same reasons. Then you read an article, and remember that everything we know (or think we know) has been sorted ands sifted through a propaganda mill. Were Ellsberg's motives all that pure if he was in fact just dropping a dime on the Pentagon to protect the CIA?

Do we really "know" anything?

I doubt everything I "know," which is a bitter pill at this age. The only useful tools are deduction and inference. And it is quite clear that Trump is hastening the days in which the rest of the world is going to announce how tired they are of taking the FSoA's shit.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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The Novel That Asks, ‘What Went Wrong With Mankind?’
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2018, 01:42:49 AM »
I found myself awake at 3:30 this morning and just read this in the June Atlantic. Immediately knew it belonged here. Exponential growth, finite systems and talking trees. Perfect.

The Novel That Asks, ‘What Went Wrong With Mankind?’
Richard Powers’s climate-themed epic, The Overstory, embraces a dark optimism about the fate of humanity.


DAWID PLANETA

“People see better what looks like them,” observes the field biologist Patricia Westerford, one of the nine—nine—main characters of Richard Powers’s 12th novel, The Overstory. And trees, Patricia discovers, look like people. They are social creatures, caring for one another, communicating, learning, trading goods and services; despite lacking a brain, trees are “aware.” After borers attack a sugar maple, it emits insecticides that warn its neighbors, which respond by intensifying their own defenses. When the roots of two Douglas firs meet underground, they fuse, joining vascular systems; if one tree gets ill, the other cares for it. The chopping down of a tree causes those surrounding it to weaken, as if in mourning. But Powers’s findings go beyond Dr. Pat’s. In his tree-mad novel, which contains as many species as any North American forest—17 are named on the first page alone—trees speak, sing, experience pain, dream, remember the past, and predict the future. The past and the future, it turns out, are mirror images of each other. Neither contains people.

 Powers is the rare American novelist writing in the grand realist tradition, daring to cast himself, in the critic Peter Brooks’s term, as a “historian of contemporary society.” He has the courage and intellectual stamina to explore our most complex social questions with originality, nuance, and an innate skepticism about dogma. At a time when literary convention favors novelists who write narrowly about personal experience, Powers’s ambit is refreshingly unfashionable, restoring to the form an authority it has shirked. A former computer programmer and English major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Powers has written novels about the history of photography, artificial intelligence, nuclear warfare, race and miscegenation, the Holocaust, neuroscience, virtual reality, the chemical industry, and genetic engineering. It was only a matter of time before he took on the greatest existential crisis human civilization faces: the destruction of the natural conditions necessary for our own survival.
 
“What the Fuck Went Wrong with Mankind” is the central question of The Overstory, as posed by Douggie Pavlicek, a Vietnam War veteran who reinvents himself as a radical eco-activist. Powers has assembled a cast of impeccably credentialed characters to come up with an answer. Douggie himself participated in the Stanford Prison Experiment as a college student, which led him to conclude that “the greatest flaw of the species is its overwhelming tendency to mistake agreement for truth.” Adam Appich is a psychologist who studies the ways in which people blind themselves to catastrophes, particularly those that unfold gradually. Ray Brinkman is an intellectual-property lawyer who asks whether trees can be said to have legal rights. Nicholas Hoel is the heir to a family art project—several generations committed to photographing, once a month, the growth of a chestnut tree—that has instilled in him an awed appreciation of human transience. (The Hoel Chestnut photographs may have been inspired by a similar project undertaken in Norwich, England, from 1914 to 1942, while Patricia Westerford’s discoveries resemble those of the Canadian forest ecologist Suzanne Simard, and of a German forester with the same initials, Peter Wohlleben, whose 2015 best seller, The Hidden Life of Trees, appears to be the basis for Patricia’s book, The Secret Forest.)

 

Powers’s dominant mode of narrative is synopsis, a necessary crutch given the novel’s mob of characters and epochal chronological scale. The opening section proceeds through five generations of Hoels; three generations of another family, the Mas; and the entire youth of most of the other main characters. Five of them later converge in a series of tree-saving “actions” that imitate the tactics of Earth First (a group itself inspired by a novel, Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang) and the more radical Earth Liberation Front: human barricades, tree-sitting, sabotage, arson.

By the end of the novel, all but one of the nine have become committed activists. Two end up in federal custody, one dies, one commits suicide, two go into hiding. But all of them earnestly embrace the same platform: Forests must be preserved, or nature will have its revenge. The argument is divided democratically among the book’s voices, but it is unerringly consistent. Each of the following reflections belongs to a different character:

“Some of these trees were around before Jesus was born. We’ve already taken ninety-seven percent of the old ones. Couldn’t we find a way to keep the last three percent?”

“We don’t make reality. We just evade it. So far. By looting natural capital and hiding the costs. But the bill is coming, and we won’t be able to pay.”

“It’s so simple,” she says. “So obvious. Exponential growth inside a finite system leads to collapse. But people don’t see it.”

The towering, teetering pyramid of large living things is toppling down already, in slow motion, under the huge, swift kick that has dislodged the planetary system. The great cycles of air and water are breaking. The Tree of Life will fall again, collapse into a stump of invertebrates, tough ground cover, and bacteria, unless man …

Reefs blanch and wetlands dry. Things are going lost that have not yet been found. Kinds of life vanish a thousand times faster than the baseline extinction rate. Forest larger than most countries turns to farmland. Look at the life around you; now delete half of what you see.

Each might also just as easily belong to Powers, whose authorial voice speaks in unison with his characters. When enormous ancient trees are chopped down, the sound is “like an artillery shell hitting a cathedral.” The tree-ramming bulldozers are “the color of bile.” The police are uniformly faceless and brutal, swabbing a protester’s eye with a Q-tip laced with chemical agents and beating others senselessly. The life of a tree-sitter, by contrast, is idyllic. After Nicholas spends weeks in the branches of a redwood, his senses clarify, his thoughts deepen, his spirit rises—he no longer minds that he has to use his feces as compost for the wild huckleberries that serve as the foundation of his diet. “Who could stay on the ground, once he has seen life in the canopy?” Nobody in his right mind is the tacit rejoinder.

The most rhapsodic prose is reserved for the trees themselves. Powers writes of a character being “drugged” by the glory of the green world, but every one of his characters becomes an addict. Many have visions. One is visited by beings of light, another by a ghost, a third by premonitions—all urging solidarity with threatened trees. When Patricia travels to the Brazilian rain forest, she overdoses:

There are trees that flower and fruit directly from the trunk. Bizarre kapoks forty feet around with branches that run from spiky to shiny to smooth, all from the same trunk. Myrtles scattered throughout the forest that all flower on a single day. Bertholletia that grow piñata cannonballs filled with nuts. Trees that make rain, that tell time, that predict the weather. Seeds in obscene shapes and colors. Pods like daggers and scimitars. Stilt roots and snaking roots and buttresses like sculpture and roots that breathe air. Solutions run amok. The biomass is mad.

Why would anyone want to destroy all this? Powers’s characters blame the usual human motivations: greed, ignorance, inertia, primitive instinct. Nicholas rues the fact that every tree visible from his canopy perch “belongs to a Texas financier who has never seen a redwood but means to gut them all to pay off the debt he took on to acquire them.” We never meet this Texas financier, however, or anyone else who might profit from development or deforestation, apart from several anonymous voices making threadbare arguments about well-paying jobs and preserving their “way of life.”

Such frail opposition is easily overwhelmed. When Patricia gives expert testimony in court, a skeptical judge quickly comes around. “I never imagined!” he marvels, as if ready to cast off his robe and climb the nearest ponderosa pine. “Trees summon animals and make them do things? They remember? They feed and take care of each other?” Patricia and the rest of the activists are right, of course. The great cycles of air and water are breaking, the Tree of Life is collapsing, things are going lost that have not yet been found, and people don’t see it. The bill is coming and we won’t be able to pay.

But why make these points in a novel and not, say, a tract, journalistic report, or polemic? Powers addresses this question within the pages of The Overstory. Ray, the intellectual-property lawyer, blames the collapse of human civilization on fiction itself: “The world is failing precisely because no novel can make the contest for the world seem as compelling as the struggles between a few lost people.” Adam, the psychologist, throws a novel against a wall because he is tired of reading “about privileged people having trouble getting along with each other in exotic locations.” (That does, in fairness, sound like a crappy novel.) But Adam’s critique is extraliterary: “The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” There is a term for stories written with the purpose of converting minds to support a cause. And it is the opposite of literature.

When Douggie sees from the air the effects of clear-cutting in the Pacific Northwest, he observes that “it looks like the shaved flank of a sick beast being readied for surgery. Everywhere, in all directions. If the view were televised, cutting would stop tomorrow.” Would it? If more people understood what was at stake, would they cease to consume fossil fuels or, as one character urges, “become indigenous again”? Is all that stands in the way of enlightenment the lack of a robust public-information campaign or a climate-themed Uncle Tom’s Cabin?

You’d think powers, if not his characters, would recognize the flaw in this argument. The climate problem is a human problem. A short-term species cannot adequately prepare for the long term—and won’t, if doing so means sacrificing present convenience. No amount of bad news will change that. No amount of bad news has changed it. That the culprit is misinformation, or a failure to excite the imagination, is a persistent, but self-defeating, fantasy.

Most Americans do not understand the perils of climate change—or of deforestation, clear-cutting, habitat loss. But those who perpetuate the disinformation campaigns, including the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the House and Senate majority leaders, and the president of the United States, likely do. It is easier, politically, to claim scientific murkiness than to tell the truth: They value their self-interest over the condition of the world their grandchildren will grow up in. Whether this self-interest is venal or foolish is irrelevant. It’s human nature. And that raises a more difficult question: not whether we should take action, but how to come to terms with the fact that our species has proved itself incapable of doing so.

“Humankind is deeply ill,” Adam concludes. “The species won’t last long.” This is the consensus among Powers’s characters, and it’s a darkly optimistic one. Optimistic for the planet, pessimistic for the fate of humanity. Once man clears out, nature will return. “Hang on,” Douggie thinks, addressing his beloved Douglas-fir seedlings. “Only ten or twenty decades. Child’s play, for you guys. You just have to outlast us. Then no one will be left to fuck you over.” The best way to cure man’s “endless suicidal appetite” for growth is to hasten the inevitable suicide. From death, life will burst. It’s the foundational lesson of forest science.

Powers’s characters embrace the urgency of activism and the passivity of fatalism, but he rarely places the two forces in opposition to each other. The only character who is consumed by this kind of self-questioning is the novel’s most convincing one. Neelay Mehta, paralyzed in a childhood tree-climbing incident, becomes a Silicon Valley mogul after he creates one of the most popular computer games on the planet—a world-building enterprise that resembles SimCity. Its millions of players sit cocooned in their bedrooms, bathed in the glow of verdant pixels, creating new Earths. With time, however, the game’s exoticism fades. The virtual Earths come to resemble ours, ravaged by gluttony, overdevelopment, and rapacious, short-term profiteering.

“We have a Midas problem,” Neelay tells his indifferent project managers. “There’s no endgame, just a stagnant pyramiding scheme. Endless, pointless prosperity.” He argues for land-use regulations and consumption taxes. His project managers think he’s gone nuts. What’s the fun in limits? And why jeopardize the game’s profitability? Let the obsessed players keep building infinitely, earning ever-increasing profits. The name of the game, after all, is Mastery.


This article appears in the June 2018 print edition with the headline “Rhapsody in Green.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Agent Graves

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2018, 04:50:16 AM »
I would have said I could not have expressed the problem better myself, except that I would never legitimize a word to abhor and forbid race mixing, by failing to place it in inverted commas. Calming down, I will add another question; what if the trees not only get revenge, but the irony or poetic justice of reincarnation places the humans attached to this earth into trees as their next life? Where else could they go if all animal life were extinct anyway. Just the other day I was arguing against the possibility of humans reincarnating as plants, saying it served no purpose. However i forgot an experience I once had where I thought I could tune in to the personalities of trees, alone in the forest. I later thought I had only imagined it. Nonetheless, they say every child has a guardian angel, yet some are allowed to endure hellish abuse and the only way to reconcile that with a just universe, is if this is letting the punishment fit the crime. Hence Jim Quinn is born black,
John Podesta etc become the spices on a pizza and the sheeple who dont mind at all that 10km2 of forest is being cleared every day in Queensland alone, might have hundreds of years of wooden existence to gain a new appreciation.
Junior  Operative, FBI Counter-Doomsdaycult Taskforce

Offline Eddie

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2018, 06:09:18 AM »
It could be that being reincarnated as a tree is a move up for humans, not a punishment at all.

Trees have most of what we don't have. Patience, connection to their environment, community ,resilience, and long life. And peace, if humans leave them alone. I have often wondered what wisdom I could learn from the ancient pecans on my place. Some of them were around before the white man came. They've seen a lot of changes and taken a lot of hits. I imagine that I can feel their sadness when I look at them.

The oaks don't seem as concerned. They ignore me completely. The Junipers  are more like us, too thirsty, ready to drink all the water and crowd out the other species. Elms, the trailer trash of my forest, spring up over a few years and don't have the same perspective as the hardwoods.

The trees aren't all exactly the same. But they have a sentience we don't understand. To them, we're here today and gone tomorrow. Their strategy is to wait it out.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2018, 06:17:28 AM »
The trees aren't all exactly the same. But they have a sentience we don't understand. To them, we're here today and gone tomorrow. Their strategy is to wait it out.

Or die consumed in an Inferno.


RE
SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

Offline Eddie

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2018, 06:26:59 AM »
That's the downside to being a tree. I've thought about that too. A fire, or a bunch of little humans scurrying around clear-cutting.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: How Did Things Get So Fucked Up?
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2018, 06:35:08 AM »
That's the downside to being a tree. I've thought about that too. A fire, or a bunch of little humans scurrying around clear-cutting.

Trees can't Prep Up.  They can't get out of the way of immediate disaster like a Forest Fire or slower going  Climate Chnge like drought.  That will do the job also.(although of course the two are closely related  and climate change isn't going so slow for the lifespan of a tree.)

You're in a better position as a Homo Sap then a Tree is in the face of Collapse. You CAN move, and you CAN adapt.

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SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

 

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