23 August 2010

Noam Chomsky on Ronald Reagan

Another stunning illustration of the success of propaganda, which has considerable import for the future, is the cult of the great killer and torturer Ronald Reagan, one of the grand criminals of the modern era, who also had an unerring instinct for favoring the most brutal terrorists and murderers around the world, from Zia-ul-Haq and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in what’s now called AfPak to the most dedicated killers in Central America to the South African racists who killed an estimated 1.5 million people in the Reagan years and had to be supported because they were under attack by Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, one of “more notorious terrorist groups” in the world, the Reaganites determined in 1988. And on and on, with remarkable consistency.

Now, his grisly record has been quickly expunged in favor of mythic constructions that would have impressed Kim Il-sung. Among other feats, he has been anointed as the apostle of free markets, while raising protectionist barriers more than probably all other postwar presidents combined and implementing massive government intervention in the economy. He was a great exponent of law and order, while he informed the business world that labor laws would not be enforced, so that illegal firing of union organizers tripled under his supervision. His hatred of working people was exceeded perhaps only by his contempt for the rich black women driving their limousines to collect their welfare checks.

Well, there should be no need to continue with the record, but the outcome tells us quite a lot about the intellectual and moral culture in which we live. For President Obama, this monstrous creature was a “transformative figure.” If you go over to Stanford University’s prestigious Hoover Institute, he’s a colossus—I’m quoting—whose “spirit seems to stride the country, watching us like a warm and friendly ghost.” Well, painfully to record, many of the people whose lives he was ruining join in the adulation, and hasten to shelter under the umbrella of the power and the violence that he symbolized.

from an address to the Left Forum, New York City
(broadcast on the May 31st, 2010 edition of Democracy Now!)

20 August 2010

Keith Richards at Nellcôte

Keith needed heroin. Tony Sanchez described one way they got it. He and Keith ran into Count Jean de Breteuil, who introduced himself as a friend of William Burroughs. De Breteuil's fashion signature was red suspenders, leading Keith and Sanchez to refer to him as Johnny Braces. Learning that Keith was looking for a connection, de Breteuil returned, at the wheel of a Bentley, with heroin that Sanchez describes as looking and smelling "like pink talcum powder. Pure Thai heroin."

Impressed with the quality of the goods, Keith expressed interest in a steady supply. When de Breteuil got back to London he called his dealer, a Corsican based in Marseilles, and asked him to arrange regular deliveries to Nellcôte. Tony Sanchez describes the arrival of the first batch: "They were two burly Corsicans, perspiring heavily in their Daks lightweight suits and carrying identical black fiberglass executive attaché cases. After a brief exchange of pleasantries the stouter of the two clicked open his case to reveal a polyethylene bag approximately as large as a two-pound sack of sugar....Keith cautiously snorted the mixture and after a few minutes lapsed into unconsciousness. When he came to, he said, 'Okay, I'll take the lot.'"

David Meyer, Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music, p.348