Archive for America

The ruling class…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by unvarnishedtruth

rulingclassAll this talk prior to the election about how Obama was going to bring in his Socialist friends and turn the United States into New Russia seemed silly then, to anyone with half a brain and an education beyond Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Now, with most of Obie’s cabinet appointments announced, it appears downright ludicrous.

As many of his suckers supporters have noted, since winning this agent of “change” has stacked his future White House with The Old Guard—picks from either the Clinton years or Bush holdovers, otherwise known as The Usual Gang of Idiots.  Particularly with regard to foreign policy and especially Iraq, it’s going to be hard to tell the new place from the old place.

As this article in Politico states today, Obama’s many supporters from the left and even left-center are becoming dismayed at what lies underneath once the mask has come off, and not just regarding appointments.  First there was the pledge to immediately repeal Bush’s tax cut for the hoity-toity, but now he’s reversed that, and wanna bet the cuts become permanent at the end of 2010?  He’ll find some reason—the economy is just starting to move, and stimulus spending by the business community is helping to create the new jobs we need to grow.  —Gee, that’s pretty good; maybe I should be his speechwriter.  Of course, there will be a slight uptick in jobs, and he’ll tell you it’s because business-owners are spending again that’s the reason, but it will be no such thing.  Instead the gov’ment will just jiggle the numbers as they always do to make things look at least slighty better than they are.  Wanna save this posting till 2010 and see if I’m right?

But that doesn’t surprise me so much.  What does make me pause is his change of position on the Iraq war.  The audacious commander-in-chief-elect had campaigned very pointedly on ending the war “on day one.”  I actually thought there might be some truth to that, since he was against it from the very beginning and consistently voted down any aid to the effort.

But things have changed again.  (Maybe that’s what he meant by “Change is coming soon.”)  Now Obama merely says he will, on day one, begin to design a plan that includes a responsible draw-down.  Boy, that’s pussy-footing that even a Michael Dukakis couldn’t match.

Somewhere recently—and now I forget where—I was reading a post about how America really has a set ruling class (with many of the participants named either “Clinton” or “Bush”) no matter who runs the show.  I wish I’d bookmarked it, because I’d link to it here as my parting shot.  It’s true.  You say potato* and I say spud, it’s all the same thing.  Here’s to another four years of tacking to the right, hemming and hawing on Guantanamo, Abu Graib, civil liberties, tax cuts for working people, corporate accountability, Pentagon accountability, and a host of other issues we were promised would see “change.”  The audacity of it is, 2012 is just around the corner, so soon we’ll start hearing about “change” again.

*Or potatoe if you’re Dan Quayle.

Once again, Ted nails it…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 22, 2008 by unvarnishedtruth

president-elect

I was going to write about why the Obama victory, good as it was, wasn’t the victory, wasn’t the mandate, wasn’t the “change,” it’s being hyped as being.  Why it was scary that 48% of the people still voted for more of the same thing, despite the fact that this time the same thing showed up with a parody of a statesman (statesperson) in lipstick next to him.  Why it was amazing that Obama’s popular vote win was only by a margin of three percent.  I was going to get around to all that…

Then Ted Rall did it for me.  So being I’m in a lazy mood this month, I’ll just turn the mike over to him.  Come on up, Ted, and talk to the stupid folks who think “change” is in the air…

And when you’re done reading Ted, take a gander at this great cartoon:

Sarah: The world is flat (as seen from a helicopter)…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 9, 2008 by unvarnishedtruth
Sarah and an unidentified woman look in on the librarian they imprisoned for subversion.

Sarah and an unidentified woman look in on the librarian they imprisoned for disobedience.

Sarah Palin.  The more we learn about her, the better it gets. For the first few days after McCain’s announcement, I was hoping he’d hold a press conference and say, “My friends, my friends, I made a mistake.  I meant to pick Michael Palin.”  No such luck.

While mayor of that small town that cartographers and cable-TV installation companies are adding to their maps right now, Sarah intimidated and tried to fire a public librarian because she wouldn’t censor books.  (Damn, librarians are getting uppity these days.  Once upon a time we’d never stand for such disobedience.)  She put the screws on Alaska’s Public Safety Commissioner because the guy wouldn’t fire an State Trooper after he went through a messy divorce with her sister.  Don’t fuck with hockey moms.

I wonder what Sarah’d do if McCain ever disagrees with her on some policy issue.  Use the army to take him out?  Loosen the rotor screws on Marine One?  Hide his Icy Hot?  Or Cindy’s Good ‘N’ Plenty?

Or maybe she’ll let him loose in a wildlife “preserve” and shoot him from an airplane.  To some this kind of “sport” may be hard to understand, but Repiglicans, remember, love it.  It resembles the way they go to war—pick on an enemy a fraction of your strength and act as though it’s a legitimate threat, so that you look and feel heroic and macho.  Kinda like what we did in Iraq.  And many other countries in the past.  Only in Iraq, the animals are winning.  Whoops! (They did that in Vietnam too, as John could surely tell Sarah if he can keep from flashing back to the bamboo cage one more time, which is doubtful.)

Apparently only rednecks thinks it’s cool to kill defenseless animals from airplanes and helicopters; most Alaskans, err, shot down the aerial “safari” measure.  But Sarah doesn’t take NO from her citizens; only a liberal wuss would do that.  As it says here:

This is the third time there’s been a statewide vote on this issue.

The other votes were in 1996 and 2000, both against aerial shooting.

The first vote was overwhelmingly against the issue and the second vote was a very strong majority.

However, the state Legislature overturned both of those decisions.

Thanks, Sarah, for doing “the people’s business.”  I guess that’s what you and Johnny Maverick mean by “Change.”

There’s more.  Aside from not believing in Evolution and saying global warming has nothing to do with all the crap we’re belching into the air, Sarah’s a member of the Flat Earth Society.

—Okay, okay, I fooled you.  She’s not.  At least as far as I can tell.  (Who knows what we’ll discover about her next week.)  But think for a second—it was not so out of the question that you didn’t consider it for a moment (or longer), right?  (Also note that the Flat Earth Society’s URL starts out “www.alaska.net.”  —Just coincidence?  Jesus kooks tell us there’s no such thing as coincidence.  It’s all Divine.)

Here’s something to ponder: When she and Johnny Mac are elected—and I’m sure they’ll win; they’re ignorant and feeble and without substance, just like the people voting for them—both will make George W. look like a Rhodes Scholar.  Which is exactly what he has made Ronald Reagan look like.  If you’re as old as me, you remember how stupid Reagan was considered when he took office.  (The first time Gorbachev met him, he said he was shocked by how little he knew.)  Today they want to put the fart on Rushmore.  Remember that great movie Being There, about the autistic man who ends up being floated for the presidency at the end?  It’s not a satire any longer.  Jesus Christ, we’re going down…

Sarah Prayzes Jeyzuz!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2008 by unvarnishedtruth

Mandatory reading for ignorant Americans… (THIS MEANS YOU)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2008 by unvarnishedtruth

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American Notes by Rudyard Kipling

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Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

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The Outline of History (two vols) by H.G. Wells

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Domestic Manners of the Americans by Frances Trollope

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Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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American Notes by Charles Dickens

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Voltaire’s Bastards by John Raulston Saul

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In Defense of Lost Causes by Slavoj Zizek


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The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Out of the Dark by Helen Keller

The land of freedom (just keep your hands up)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 20, 2008 by unvarnishedtruth

Police state. It’s odd when you meet foreigners to admit that you live in one when your country is always puffing its chest about how it’s the freest nation on earth. Actually compared to most countries not Third-World we have relatively few personal freedoms, but since only 20 percent of Americans even own passports, let alone use them, most have no frigging idea what’s going on in other countries, unless cable TV news tells them, which it rarely does beyond headlines and soundbites.

And it appears necessary, because the country that values nothing more than the pursuit of material objects does not bother to teach its children morals or values or judgment. The only lesson: get yours. The only goal: to die with more beans than the other guy. Sure we love values—the kind we can buy or hang on the review mirror of our car or paste on the back bumper or wear around our necks. Did you see that ghetto kid robbing the store who had the peace medallion around his tattooed neck? Or was it a Mercedes logo?

Funny how other countries, so inferior to us in so many ways, under awful socialistic societies where the sick supposedly can’t get access to a doctor and no one has disposable income because they’re all paying into the till, do not have this crime problem. They do not have bands roaming the streets in England, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, or about fifteen other countries I could name. They do not have a populace afraid to walk the streets after dark, or shootings that are so common that local TV news doesn’t even bother to report on them anymore because it lacks the satellite trucks to cover all of them. In Europe I roam any night past midnight, not fearing for my safety. In Europe they have television shows similar to Cops, but their officers investigate relatively small violations most of the time—license plate expirations, immigration papers not in order, two-bit streetwalkers. Europeans have this odd believe that in a free society, you should be able to walk around at night. See, dummy, that’s what freedom is, not a decal of a flag on a car.

Read this article from the UK Independent to see how insane they think our life is over here, and why although we seem to think The American Way is the Greatest In The World, the one every other country is striving to emulate, most people in other industrialized, socialist (gasp!) countries respectfully would rather see things stay the way they are. They are happier, safer, richer, healthier and more content. Oh, and when you’re finished that, you might want to check out this essay from a few years back that ran in The New Yorker.

Tell me exactly why they’d all want to adopt our ways? Aside from Mexicans and other denizens from Central America, the reality is nobody is climbing over our borders to get in. Immigrants to European countries have a considerably higher per-capita income and education level. (You have to to get in.) That’s where the brains are going. America ain’t the shining beacon anymore. Wake up, dummies.

God bless America…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2008 by unvarnishedtruth

Read the article below and then please tell me why the United States of Hypocrisy is any different from the Soviet Union, the ability to amass huge amounts of wealth aside?

(Special thanks to the Associated Press)

Truth emerges too late for Kim Soo-im

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

Back in the days of “Commies” and “pinkos,” of Red scares, black lists, suspicion and smear, Kim Soo-im stood out as a one-woman axis of evil, a villainess without peer.

“The Korean Seductress Who Betrayed America,” as the U.S. magazine Coronet labeled her, was a Seoul socialite said to have charmed secret information out of one lover, an American colonel, and passed it to another, a top communist in North Korea.

In late June 1950, as North Korean invaders closed in on this teeming, panicked city, Kim was hastily executed by the South Korean military, shot as a “very malicious international spy.” Her deeds, thereafter, only grew in infamy.

In 1950s America, gripped by anticommunist fever, one TV drama told viewers Kim’s “womanly wiles” had been the communists’ “deadliest weapon.” Another teleplay, introduced by host Ronald Reagan, depicted her as Asia’s Mata Hari. Reviled as the Oriental queen of a vast Soviet “Operation Sex,” she was even blamed by Washington columnist Drew Pearson for igniting the entire Korean War.

Kim Soo-im and her love triangle are gone, buried in separate corners of a turbulent past. But in yellowing U.S. military files stamped “SECRET,” hibernating through a long winter of Cold War, the truth survived. Now it has emerged, a half-century too late to save her.

The record of a confidential 1950 U.S. inquiry and other declassified files, obtained by The Associated Press at the U.S. National Archives, tell a different Kim Soo-im story:

Col. John E. Baird had no access to the supposed sensitive information. Kim had no secrets to pass on. And her Korean lover, Lee Gang-kook, later executed by North Korea, may actually have been an American agent.

The petite woman smiling out from faded photographs, in silken “hanbuk” gown, may have been guilty of indiscretions. But the espionage case against her looks in retrospect — from what can be pieced together today — like little more than a frame-up.

Baird and fellow Army officers could have defended her, but instead the colonel was rushed out of Korea to “avoid further embarrassment,” the record shows. She was left to her fate — almost certainly, the Americans concluded, to be tortured by South Korean police into confessing to things she hadn’t done.

The story of Kim Soo-im is a cautionary tale of political hysteria, fear-mongering and sensationalist media, from a time when historians now believe the Seoul regime secretively executed at least 100,000 leftists and supposed sympathizers.

Those killings came en masse and long ago. But this one woman’s death remains, for one American, a living, deeply personal story.

Wonil Kim — son of Kim Soo-im and Col. Baird — is on a quest to learn all he can about his mother and her ordeal, to restore the truth and destroy the lies. Thus far, he says, he has found her “an intelligent woman with a passion for life, a strong woman caught up in the torrent of historical turmoil, and drowned.”

The son, a theology professor at California’s LaSierra University, was the first to discover the declassified U.S. documents, a 1,000-page trove of hidden history. Now he has also found an ally, Seoul movie director Cho Myung-hwa, who plans a feature film to tell the “human story” of Kim Soo-im.

“He betrayed her,” Cho said of Baird. “He had a high position and the power to save her. He could have testified. But he just flew back stateside to his American family.”

The precise, soft-spoken theologian, 59, and the veteran moviemaker, 63, both say that to grasp the Kim Soo-im story one must understand the Korea of the 1930s and 1940s, when people united in opposing Japan’s colonial rule, and younger, educated Koreans leaned to the left in envisioning land and other reforms to modernize their feudal society.

Cho pointed out a little-known fact: In 1946, a year after the U.S. Army occupied southern Korea at World War II’s end, a U.S. Embassy poll found that 77 percent of southerners wanted a socialist or communist future.

Instead, the U.S. military government kept many of Japan’s right-wing Korean collaborators in power, and the U.S. commander, Lt. Gen. John R. Hodge, vowed to “stamp out” the communists.

Kim Soo-im, born in 1911, was among the educated elite. An orphan, she was schooled by American missionaries, eventually graduating from Seoul’s prestigious Ewha women’s college, a U.S. Methodist-founded institution.

In 1936, as a female office administrator, something rare in Korea, she was featured in a Seoul magazine article on the new generation of liberated young women. Smart and fashionable — a fox-trot dancer, it was noted — she had a circle of sophisticated, politicized friends, including Moh Yoon-sook, later Korea’s best-known poetess.

In 1941, Kim met an older married man, Lee Gang-kook, a German-educated intellectual active in Seoul’s clandestine leftist movement. She became his lover, and he rose in political prominence, gaining a seat on the Central People’s Committee, a broad nationalist coalition that sought to take over Korea from a defeated Japan in September 1945.

Hodge’s crackdown stifled that effort, and within a year Lee, facing arrest as an alleged security risk, fled to communist-run northern Korea.

Kim Soo-im’s fluent English, meanwhile, had made her valuable to the U.S. occupation. She was hired as an assistant by Baird, the Americans’ 56-year-old, Irish-born provost marshal, or military police chief, and was soon overseeing his network of Korean informants monitoring the black market, thievery of U.S. materiel and other crimes.

Baird secured a house for her and took to spending nights there, or slipping her into his officer’s quarters, according to Korean and American witnesses in the declassified record.

“She had a baby by Col. Baird,” Kim’s friend Nancy Kim would later tell U.S. interrogators. “We all knew. He was the only man friend of Kim Soo-im. He slept in the house many times. The baby looks like the father.”

When the U.S. occupation army withdrew in 1949, succeeded by an advisory corps, Baird shifted to assisting the national police, and his American wife came to Korea to join him. In North Korea, meanwhile, Kim’s ex-lover Lee, risen to important posts, made broadcasts denouncing the southern regime.

Finally, on March 1, 1950, Kim, no longer U.S.-employed, was arrested by South Korean police, joining thousands of others ensnared in President Syngman Rhee’s roundups of leftists — workers and writers, teachers, peasants and others with suspect politics.

“It was witch-hunting,” said historian Jung Byung-joon, who has studied the case. “The South Korean police and prosecutors hated her because she was the lover of Lee Gang-kook, and then of Col. Baird, and nobody could touch her. They waited for their chance.”

On June 14, 1950, nine days after Baird sailed from Korea, Kim Soo-im faced a five-judge South Korean military court and a long list of alleged crimes, including obtaining vehicles from the colonel that she lent or sold to “communist” friends, keeping guns at her house, and transporting Lee Gang-kook to the northern border in 1946 with a U.S. Army jeep.

The most serious charge at the trial, a headline event in Seoul newspapers, accused her of eliciting the classified 1949 U.S. withdrawal plans from Baird, and relaying them to the northern communists.

As her court-appointed lawyer noted, the government presented neither material evidence nor witnesses to back up the charges. The court even rejected guns the prosecutors offered as exhibits. “The Korean police at the time were notorious for fabricating evidence that didn’t exist,” said Wonil Kim.

But on the trial’s third day, according to a summary in the declassified U.S. file, Kim Soo-im confessed. She said she had asked Baird about withdrawal plans, and shared the information with friends, only because they were worried about their future U.S. employment.

Her friend Moh pleaded for mercy, “moving the audience to tears” with the story of Kim’s deprived childhood, the summary says. But the court sentenced her to death.

Just weeks after her execution, however, and across the Pacific, U.S. military investigators reviewing Baird’s role were hearing confidential testimony from Army officers and enlisted men indicating Kim’s conviction was a contrivance of the Seoul authorities.

On point after point — alleged illicit use of jeeps, an Army truck, sedans, a radio and other items for “communistic activities” — Baird staunchly denied such dealings with Kim, and the inspector general’s office repeatedly found that “the evidence does not substantiate the allegation,” according to the long-secret record of the 1950 Pentagon inquiry.

On the key count of espionage, officers up to Gen. Hodge himself testified Baird had no access to the details of classified plans for the troop withdrawal. Besides, the outlines of the withdrawal had been reported in Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper available to all.

The investigators concluded there was only a “remote possibility” Kim Soo-im used Baird as alleged. Since she was dead, they said, that couldn’t be fully disproven.

Col. William H.S. Wright, head of the Korea advisory group, had testified that her confession was probably forced through “out and out torture,” probably near-drowning, or waterboarding, as it’s now known.

“The water cure is a very common method,” Wright said. “Electric shock and the use of pliers is frequent.”

A Korean source backs this up. In a 2005 Seoul TV report on Kim Soo-im, longtime government propagandist Oh Jae-ho, a staunch anticommunist, said he learned from a police official that the defendant had to be carried into the courtroom to confess on the final day.

“It was truly an emotional moment for me to hear him say it,” recalled Wonil Kim. The son believes Kim Soo-im gave in because otherwise “they would send her right back to the torture chamber.”

In the turmoil of war, this year-old orphaned boy was adopted by a church administrator and his wife, a head nurse at the hospital where Kim gave birth. In 1970, the Korean family moved to the United States, where Wonil Kim eventually earned a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies.

He had been told about his birth mother as a teenager, and her old friends and others later informed him about his father, to whom he bears a strong resemblance. The painful legacy never left his mind.

Not long before Baird died in 1980, at age 90, Wonil tracked the old colonel down, finding him in a Rhode Island nursing home. Baird rejected his illegitimate son, speaking instead of a “Mr. Smith” as the father, Wonil Kim said. But after Baird’s death, his family was “very warm and accepting.”

Baird would never have “really stuck his neck out to save her,” Wonil Kim said. But he also knew that the writer Moh, in her memoirs, recounted that the American officer “came to her begging her to save her, my mother.”

It wasn’t until he discovered the long-classified Baird investigative files that Wonil Kim began to learn of the flimsy case that condemned Kim Soo-im. But crucial questions remain — about the mysterious Lee Gang-kook, for example.

A confidential profile drafted by Army intelligence in 1956 said Lee was reported to have been employed by the CIA’s covert “JACK” — Joint Activities Commission, Korea. And, in fact, the North Koreans executed Lee as an “American spy” after the Korean War ended with a 1953 armistice.

Historian Jung, who discovered that declassified profile at the National Archives in College Park, Md., still believes with other historians that North Korean leader Kim Il Sung had Lee and other southerners executed to eliminate potential rivals.

The isolated document remains a puzzle, nonetheless, raising further questions about Kim Soo-im’s tangled relationships. Wonil Kim suspects that his mother, entrusted with a U.S. military vehicle, did help her lover Lee get to northern Korea in 1946, a time when it was still easy for intelligence operatives to cross the 38th Parallel. Was Lee somehow linked to the Americans?

The Baird file, meanwhile, leaves another question unanswered.

Completing its 1950 investigation, the Army inspector general’s office recommended that Baird be court-martialed for bringing discredit on the Army through his scandalous liaison with a Korean mistress. But within a month the file was stamped “Case closed.” The facts on Kim Soo-im were locked away for a half-century. Who blocked a trial and why?

As moviemakers must, Cho will fill in such unknowns with best guesses or surprise twists of plot. But Wonil Kim still seeks the truth, a quest that this June led him to a surprising figure, a feeble, 88-year-old Seoul lawyer who as a young army officer was one of five judges who sent Kim Soo-im to her death.

After meeting the son, elderly ex-soldier Kim Tae-chung spoke briefly with the AP, defending the long-ago verdict, but saying he’d told Wonil that Kim Soo-im “to me didn’t look like a bad person.”

Was she tortured? the AP asked.

“All I know is what happened in the courtroom,” Kim Tae-chung protested. “I don’t know anything beyond that.”

The theologian son said he didn’t meet with the old judge in order to challenge him. In fact, he found him “a very gentle kind of soul … honest in his own way … a very anticommunist and conservative Christian” who “believes he did the right thing.”

Their hour together proved “cathartic,” “redemptive” for both men, Wonil Kim said. And for a son on a sad, dutiful mission, it proved essential.

“I just needed to be with someone who was in the courtroom with her,” he said — to talk about his mother, to summon up the memory of Kim Soo-im, before that memory slips finally, forever into the grave.

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Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in College Park, Md., multimedia producer Jenni Sohn and researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York, and reporter Jae-soon Chang in Seoul contributed to this report.