United States conservative wants Pinochet-style dictatorships


This 1 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Conservative Pundit Calls For ‘Pinochet Type’ Dictators

In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, Erick Erickson was the type of conservative pundit many despairing liberals wanted to see. Erickson, a popular conservative radio host and commentator, had been a fierce critic of Trump, disinviting him from a 2015 conservative conference for “inappropriate” comments on Megyn Kelly. He also wrote a November 2016 op-ed for The New York Times in which he talked about the need for conservatives to “reach across the aisle and go outside Washington” and was profiled by The New Yorker.

Read more here.

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First jellyfish genome sequenced


This 30 November 2015 video says about itself:

Formerly Considered Single-Celled, This Parasite Is Actually A Jellyfish

Genome sequencing of myxozoans has determined that the parasitic creatures are microscopic jellyfish—challenging our definition of what an animal is.

A common aquatic parasite, long-studied for its devastating impact on commercial fishing, is essentially a microscopic jellyfish. Researchers from the University of Kansas, or KU, sequenced the genome of myxozoans and discovered the parasites are “highly reduced” cnidarians—belonging to the same phylum as jellyfish, sea anemones and corals.

The team also discovered that myxozoa have an extremely small genome, several orders of magnitude less complex than typical jellyfish. One thing they do have in common is their stinger.

Paulyn Cartwright, the project’s principal investigator, explained, “Because they’re so weird, it’s difficult to imagine they were jellyfish. They don’t have a mouth or a gut. They have just a few cells. But then they have this complex structure that looks just like the stinging cell of cnidarian.”

Originally considered single-celled organisms, myxozoa are rewriting the biological textbook. That’s because the parasites lack a certain type of gene previously believed necessary for animal development.

But Cartwright is adamant, “Myxozoa is definitely an animal because its evolutionary origin is shared with jellyfish, and we use species’ ancestry to define them. But animals are usually defined as macroscopic multicellular organisms, and this is not that. Myxozoa absolutely redefines what we think of as animal.”

From the University of California – Davis in the USA:

First jellyfish genome reveals ancient beginnings of complex body plan

December 3, 2018

Summary: The first in-depth look at the genome of a jellyfish — the moon jelly Aurelia aurita — shows that early jellyfish recycled existing genes to gain the ability to morph from polyp to medusa.

Jellyfish undergo an amazing metamorphosis, from tiny polyps growing on the seafloor to swimming medusae with stinging tentacles. This shape-shifting has served them well, shepherding jellyfish through more than 500 million years of mass extinctions on Earth.

“Whatever they’re doing has really worked for them,” said David Gold, an assistant professor of paleobiology in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

The first in-depth look at the genome of a jellyfish — the moon jelly Aurelia aurita — reveals the origins of this successful survival strategy. The Aurelia genome, published online Dec. 3 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, indicates early jellyfish recycled existing genes to morph from polyp to medusa. The results suggest animals can radiate into new niches and forms fairly easily.

“These findings provide further evidence that evolution doesn’t necessarily make the genetic code more complex”, said Gold, a lead researcher on the genome study. “Jellyfish can build a big, complex life history using many of the same genes found in simpler animals.”

The research team was led equally by Gold, who performed much of the work as a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, and by Takeo Katsuki, a project scientist at the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at UC San Diego.

The genome: a multi-use tool

Jellyfish come from one of the oldest branches on the animal family tree, the phylum Cnidaria, which includes corals and anemones. Jellyfish were probably the first muscle-powered swimmers in the open ocean. They appeared in the late Precambrian Era, a period of major geologic and ecological changes that preceded the Cambrian explosion of animal life.

At some point in their evolution, jellyfish gained the ability to transition from a stationary polyp to a swimming medusa. The transition involves major changes in the jellyfish nervous system, muscles and weaponry, aka the stinging cells called cnidocytes. To accomplish this, the medusa life stage often co-opts existing developmental gene networks and cell types present in polyps, the researchers found. In addition, Aurelia appears to pattern its different life stages using many of the same genes found in animals such as fruit flies and humans, the study reports. (all of these animals share a common ancestor, albeit an ancient one.)

There is a second, more controversial explanation for what the scientists found in the jellyfish genome. Perhaps the similarities between the moon jellyfish genome and “higher” animals demonstrates that the Cnidaria originally had a medusa life stage, which animals like corals and sea anemones lost.

“Our results can’t distinguish between these two scenarios”, said Gold. If the second hypothesis turns out to be correct, “Swimming, carnivorous animals may be even older than we think.” In addition to questions of evolution, the Aurelia genome will prove valuable in many other areas of biology, Gold said. Aurelia is an important model for studying the development and function of nervous systems, and can offer insights into animal wound healing and regeneration. Moon jellies are also a major culprit in environmentally and economically damaging jellyfish blooms, which are becoming more common. For example, giant swarms of moon jellies have clogged water-intake pipes, forcing the shutdown of nuclear plants in Florida and Sweden. An improved understanding of Aurelia genetics could offer new ideas for controlling the blooms.

“In many ways, the ancient oceans in the late Precambrian are very much like what the modern oceans will look like in the near future,” Gold said “meaning studying how jellyfish evolved in the past can tell us about their potential impact on the future.”

Journalist John Pilger organises film festival


This 29 November 2018 video from Australia says about itself:

Video featuring The Power of the Documentary on ABC News

Power of the Documentary is a film festival curated by John Pilger and in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring 26 different documentaries.

Video Credit: ABC News Weekend Breakfast, Journalist Miram Corowa.

By Richard Phillips in Australia:

“Well-paid journalists have become gormless cyphers of the propaganda of war

John Pilger discusses his “The Power of Documentary” film festival

3 December 2018

Veteran investigative journalist, documentary filmmaker and author, John Pilger, is currently hosting a special film festival in Australia. Entitled The Power of the Documentary: Breaking the Silence, the festival is on at Riverside Theatres in the western-Sydney suburb of Parramatta and at the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay in central Sydney. It will run until December 9.

Curated by Pilger, the festival is screening 26 films, including a number of his own documentaries, several significant works by Australian filmmakers and three foundational films from the US and Britain.

Pilger, who has made 62 documentaries since 1970, is one of a handful of journalists internationally who vigorously defends WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. On June 17, he addressed a rally in Sydney organised by the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) to demand Assange’s immediate release.

Some of the early Pilger films to be screened include: The Quiet Mutiny, his first documentary for British television; The Outsiders, which features interviews with war correspondents, such as Wilfred Burchett and Martha Gellhorn, and other individuals in 1983; and The Last Dream: Other People’s Wars (1988), about the history of Australian military involvement in British and American imperialist interventions.

Recent Pilger documentaries to be shown, some of which have been reviewed by the World Socialist Web Site, include Palestine is Still the Issue (2002), Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (2003), The War You Don’t See (2010), Utopia (2013) and The Coming War on China (2016).

This 2009 video says about itself:

Salute (trailer)

One of 2008’s biggest documentary films is about to be unleashed onto screens Worldwide. SALUTE is a film by Matt Norman, the nephew of 200m Silver Medalist Peter Norman who was involved in one of the most powerful moments in Olympic history where Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave their Black Power Salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Being released through Paramount Pictures and Transmission films in Australia on the 24th of July 2008, and then around the world shortly after Salute promises to be a wake up to what’s happening today especially with the 2008 Beijing Olympics just around the corner.

The Richard Phillips article continues:

Other important films to be shown are Curtis Levy’s The President vs David Hicks (2004) and Matt Norman’s Salute (2009), about track athlete Peter Norman and his victimisation by Australian authorities after he supported US athletes who gave a “black power” salute during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

Finally, “The Power of Documentary” festival includes three classic works: Edward R. Murrow’s Harvest of Shame (1960), an exposure of the slave-like working conditions of farm workers in the US; Peter Watkins’ long-banned War Game (1965), one of the first docudramas which recreates the horrific impact of a nuclear attack on Britain; and Peter Davis’s Hearts and Minds (1974), the first mainstream American documentary opposing the US intervention in Vietnam to secure a theatrical release. Full details of the festival program can be accessed here.

Pilger conducted the following email interview with the WSWS last week, just before the festival began.

Richard Phillips: Can you explain why you decided to organise this festival? What do you mean by “Breaking the Silence” in the title and why is this necessary?

John Pilger: By silence I mean the exclusion of ideas that might change the way we see our world, or help us make sense of it. There are 26 films and each one pushes back a screen of propaganda—not just the propaganda of governments but of a powerful groupthink of special interests designed to distract and intimidate us and which often takes its cue from social media and is the enemy of the arts and political freedom.

A documentary is not reality TV. Political documentary is not the consensual game played by politicians and journalists called “current affairs”. Great documentaries frighten the powerful, unnerve the compliant, expose the hypocritical. Great documentaries make us think, and think again, and speak out, and even take action…

Well-paid journalists have become gormless cyphers of the propaganda of war: lies known these days as fake news and spread by the intelligence agencies. Why do we allow governments, our governments, to commit great crimes, and why do so many of us remain silent?

These are questions for those of us privileged to be allowed into people’s lives and be their voice and seek their support. It is a question for filmmakers, journalists, artists, arts administrators, editors, publishers. We can no longer claim to be innocent bystanders. Our responsibility is urgent; as Tom Paine impatiently wrote: “The time is now.”

RP: You began making documentaries in 1970 with The Quiet Mutiny, about the Vietnam War. Can you speak about the filmmakers that influenced you in the early years and the most important thing you learnt in that formative period?

JP: My formative period as a documentary filmmaker was as a journalist. For me, the two crafts complement each other; the most expressive journalism is often cinematic. As a young war reporter in South East Asia, I was struck by the surreal spectacle of the American invasion and its atrocious consequences. The Quiet Mutiny is a factual, political film that uses irony and satire bordering on black farce, together with the music of the time, much of it political.

I was influenced by many I worked with; in the beginning by my producer Charles Denton, who encouraged me to depart from the formula of “current affairs”. When The Quiet Mutiny was broadcast, the then Director General of the Independent Television Authority in Britain (a pompous fellow Australian with a knighthood) called me “a dangerous subversive”. It was the highest honour I have received, and I am grateful to him.

This video says about itself:

“The Quiet Mutiny” in 1970 was the first of over 60 documentary films by Pilger. Filmed at Camp Snuffy, the film presented a character study of the common US soldier during the Vietnam War revealing the shifting morale and open rebellion of Western troops. Pilger described the film as “something of a scoop” – it was the first documentary to show the open rebellion within the drafted ranks of the US military that led to the withdrawal of the land army in 1973.

“When I flew to New York and showed it to Mike Wallace, the star reporter of CBS 60 Minutes, he agreed. “Real shame we can’t show it here”” Pilger said in an interview with the New Statesman.

The Richard Phillips article continues:

RP: Since then you’ve made scores of documentaries. These include exposing US war crimes in Vietnam, Iraq and many other countries, the danger of nuclear war, state brutality against the working class and the poor, ongoing oppression and social mistreatment of Aborigines.

Your second documentary was shot in West Yorkshire and was entitled Conversations with a Working Man and broadcast on British television. It’s difficult to imagine anything with a title like that being screened on the celebrity obsessed television networks today.

JP: I agree. But as with almost every film I have made, I had my struggles. The executive producer decreed that my use of “the people” was unacceptable because it was a “Marxist term”. He refused to allow me to use “working class”; if you listen carefully, you will hear me say “working heritage.” This nonsense made not a blind bit of difference; the viewers understood and a record audience watched the film.

RP: Why do you think there are so few of these sorts of exposures today? Is it because of financial and distribution problems, or a question of self-censorship and/or lack of political perspective?

JP: It is all those things. I would put lack of political perspective at the top, alongside an enthusiasm to join the system of elite power. Many on the BBC believe that once they join that institution they rise to a Nirvana of purest impartiality and objectivity when, in truth, they have become part of the most refined propaganda system on earth.

RP: The festival is showing Edward R. Murrow’s Harvest of Shame, Peter Watkins’ The War Game and Hearts and Minds by Peter Davis. Could you speak briefly about their importance?

JP: Each of these films is truth-telling in its highest form, especially The War Game. No film-maker has matched Peter Watkins’ astonishing achievement in recreating a town in England devastated by nuclear war. He did it all with official documents, which was why his film was banned by the BBC for 23 years.

Unknown to the British people, their governments were planning precisely that which Watkins reconstructed in The War Game. His film was profoundly threatening because it would possibly change the minds of millions of Britons towards Cold War policies, even war itself.

I’ve read the declassified documents of Harold Wilson’s cabinet secretary, Sir Burke Trend; the government was horrified by Watkins’ film because it was true. I admire him enormously for the same reasons I admire Julian Assange.

Harvest of Shame was a very different film, yet its bracing journalism was also committed to the truth. The regression today means none of these films would be made.

RP: You’ve also selected some films by Mark Davis, Curtis Levy and other Australian documentarians. Do you see any parallels between The President vs David Hicks, which follows the courageous fight waged by David’s father Terry to secure his son’s freedom from Guantanamo Bay prison and the situation facing Julian Assange?

JP: Yes, they are similar; Terry Hicks is a supporter of Julian. For their moral courage, both Terry and Julian are the best kind of Australians.

RP: You’ve coined the phrase “Vichy journalism” to describe journalists who have joined the campaign of slander, lies and frame-ups against Assange and WikiLeaks. Why has this occurred and what are the consequences for Assange and investigative journalism? What is the current situation facing Assange?

JP: Most “mainstream” journalism has been integrated into corporate and so-called national security systems that rule the West, especially in the United States and Britain. When I was working in what was known as “Fleet Street”, the press was conservative but there were spaces for different, dissenting work, and a certain range of views. This was even encouraged. Today the spaces have closed, and the best journalists write online, or in foreign publications, or in a new samizdat, or not at all.

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are the counter to this oppression, and, of course, he is subjected to a smear campaign. The greater his impact and symbolism the more vicious the campaign against him.

The Guardian’s sordid role as a platform for the scuttlebutt of spooks is shocking. Those involved are no different, morally, from those who collaborated under the Vichy government in France during the Second World War.

Julian’s situation is serious. The person contracted to bring his food to the Ecuadorean embassy has been told she is no longer wanted. This does not mean he will go hungry, but it demonstrates the depth of his struggle. That said, he is a very strong character with an abiding moral purpose and a dark sense of humour. He needs, as Martha Gellhorn wrote about those who stand up to rapacious power, “the alliance of us all … the support of decency.”

RP: Can you speak about your last documentary The Coming War on China and what prompted you to make it? What will be the consequences of such a war? Can you comment on Australia’s involvement in these preparations and the mounting anti-China hysteria in the Australian media?

JP: China is surrounded by more than 400 American military bases that reach from Australia, through the Pacific to Asia and across Eurasia. A State Department official described it as “actually a noose.” Low-draught US warships probe the waters of southern China and US drones overfly Chinese territory. This has been a fact, mostly unreported, for many years and was inverted during the Obama presidency to propaganda, the falsehood, that China was threatening the US, Asia, the Pacific.

As expected, Australian politicians, “experts” and journalists have echoed this. It has become a chorus. The Chinese—like the Russians—are becoming the enemy of Australia, which in reality has no enemies, apart from its own forces of institutionalised paranoia. I grew up during the first Cold War and it is all familiar: perhaps worse in its inventions and deceptions.

RP: Finally, what’s your advice to young people who want to become documentary filmmakers and investigative journalists today?

JP: My advice is always follow your star. By that I mean: never abandon your commitment and idealism and keep in mind that journalists and film-makers are truly credible as the agents of people, never of power.

Lonesome George, other Galápagos tortoises, new research


This 27 February 2018 video says about itself:

Galápagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme

The film captures the hidden mystery of the lives of giant tortoises, among the longest lived vertebrates on earth. It illustrates the diverse ecological roles played by Galápagos tortoises and how the environment has shaped complex yet predictable patterns on movement, morphology and ecological relationships among tortoises across the Galápagos Archipelago.

It demonstrates how a team of conservation biologists developed and implemented a research programme that revealed the hitherto unknown secret lives of Galápagos tortoises – one of the earth’s most iconic wildlife species. It documents the movement ecology of tortoises, their feeding ecology, their role as ecosystem engineers, and their pivotal role in ecosystems.

Touching on their conservation history from the time humans discovered the islands, and how humans will determine the fate of tortoises and their habitats. It demonstrates how scientific research can inform conservation management, and highlight the importance of pure and applied research toward understanding and conserving the tortoises and the ecosystems they shape.

From Yale University in the USA:

In death, Lonesome George reveals why giant tortoises live so long

December 3, 2018

Lonesome George’s species may have died with him in 2012, but he and other giant tortoises of the Galápagos are still providing genetic clues to individual longevity through a new study by researchers at Yale University, the University of Oviedo in Spain, the Galápagos Conservancy, and the Galápagos National Park Service.

Genetic analysis of DNA from Lonesome George and samples from other giant tortoises of the Galápagos — which can live more than 100 years in captivity — found they possessed a number of gene variants linked to DNA repair, immune response, and cancer suppression not possessed by shorter-lived vertebrates.

The findings were reported Dec. 3 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

“Lonesome George is still teaching us lessons”, said Adalgisa “Gisella” Caccone, senior researcher in Yale’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and co-senior author of the paper.

In 2010, Caccone began sequencing the whole genome of Lonesome George, the last of the species Chelonoidis abingdonii, to study evolution of the tortoise population on the Galápagos. Carlos Lopez-Otin at the University of Oviedo in Spain analyzed this data and other species of tortoises to look for gene variants associated with longevity.

“We had previously described nine hallmarks of aging, and after studying 500 genes on the basis of this classification, we found interesting variants potentially affecting six of those hallmarks in giant tortoises, opening new lines for aging research”, Lopez-Otin said.

Ex-US President George H. W. Bush, his AIDS policies, his necrologies


This 3 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Remembering George H.W. Bush’s Inaction on AIDS at Home While Detaining HIV+ Haitians at Guantánamo

George H.W. Bush died on the eve of World AIDS Day, an irony not lost on many HIV/AIDS activists who remember the 41st president of the United States for his lack of action in the 1990s as the HIV/AIDS crisis raged on.

Bush said little about the crisis during his years as vice president under Ronald Reagan, who didn’t even mention AIDS until the penultimate year of his presidency. Despite promises to do more after he was elected president, George H.W. Bush refused to address and fund programs around HIV/AIDS education and prevention, as well as drug treatment.

We speak with Steven Thrasher, journalist and doctoral candidate in American studies at New York University. He was recently appointed Daniel H. Renberg chair of media coverage in sexual and gender minorities at Northwestern University. His recent article for The Nation is titled “It’s a Disgrace to Celebrate George H.W. Bush on World AIDS Day.”

Not so long ago, George H.W Bush was in the news about a #MeToo sexual harassment incident. #MeToo accuser interrupts tributes to revive groping allegations against George H.W. Bush: here.

The Holocaust and the Bush family fortune: here.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Media, political establishment laud George H. W. Bush

3 December 2018

Former President George H. W. Bush died late Friday at the age of 94. Born into a ruling class family of wealth and privilege, he lived a life a world away from the struggles and sufferings of the working class.

In his decades as a political representative of American imperialism, the most murderous and reactionary force on the planet, Bush helped insure that millions of people around the world did not have a chance to live the full and comfortable life he led. Instead, they were shot to death, bombed or otherwise annihilated by the armed forces of the United States, or starved, jailed or tortured by governments backed by the CIA and doing the bidding of Washington.

Few people in recent American history have had so long a record of “service” to the US ruling elite and its state machine. Few have participated in the crimes of American imperialism in so many ways: legislator, diplomat, CIA director, commander-in-chief. As a member of Congress for four years, 1967-71, Bush voted repeatedly to fund the war in Vietnam. As US ambassador to the United Nations, 1971-72, he was the public voice of the United States government, defending its crimes in Southeast Asia before a world audience. As US envoy to China in 1974-75, he carried out the Kissinger policy of wooing Chinese Stalinism as a counterweight to the USSR. As CIA director in 1975-76, he oversaw Operation Condor, the joint venture in the assassination of leftists conducted by the CIA and the US-backed military regimes in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries.

While vice president in the Reagan administration (1981-1989), he was complicit in the terrorist “contra” war against Nicaragua and the death squad operations in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, in which hundreds of thousands died, as well as the dispatch of US troops to Lebanon, the invasion of Grenada and the bombing of Libya. In the first year of his presidency he ordered the invasion of Panama and in the final year the occupation of Somalia. In between came the greatest crime of all, the waging of the first Persian Gulf War, deliberately instigated by the Bush administration, in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqi conscripts were incinerated by US bombs and missiles.

Bush’s political record at home was less openly murderous but equally reactionary. He was a consummate political cynic. While his father Prescott Bush, a Wall Street banker and Republican senator from Connecticut, had been a social moderate, George H. W. Bush tailored his political positions to the reactionary climate of Texas in the period before the dismantling of Jim Crow segregation. In his first campaign for office, as the Republican candidate for US Senate in Texas in 1964, Bush ran as a Goldwaterite, opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act as an infringement on freedom (to discriminate) and condemning the impending establishment of Medicare as “socialistic”. He later denounced “the militant Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

As chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973-74, Bush defended Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate crisis. After memorably branding the supply-side policies advanced by Ronald Reagan as “voodoo economics”, during the contest for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, Bush worked assiduously to become Reagan’s running mate. As vice president, he supported all the right-wing domestic measures of the Reagan administration, from the firing of the PATCO air traffic controllers in 1981 to the deregulation of business, cuts in social programs and tax reductions for the wealthy and big business.

In the 1988 presidential campaign, Bush pledged a “kindler, gentler” America, implicitly acknowledging the brutality of the Reagan administration’s onslaught on the poor and the working class. But his campaign unleashed the Willie Horton ad against his Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis, which used the image of a black convict who had committed rape and armed burglary during a weekend furlough from a Massachusetts prison to paint Dukakis as soft on crime. This brazen appeal to racism was part a deliberate effort to cement the gains of the Nixon-Reagan “southern strategy”, which recruited racist elements in that region, formerly dominated by the Democrats, and made it the stronghold of the Republican Party.

The Bush presidency carried forward right-wing policies in both foreign and domestic areas. Bush bailed out the savings & loan industry at taxpayer expense—his son Neil was a prominent executive of a failed S&L—while seeking to slash spending for domestic social programs. He suffered a political embarrassment when he inadvertently revealed his distance from the daily experiences of ordinary Americans by expressing surprise at the use of barcode readers in a supermarket.

In 1991, he nominated the ultra-rightist Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court to replace the retiring Thurgood Marshall. As he left office in January 1993, Bush issued pardons for Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s secretary of defense, and five other officials who had been indicted or convicted for their roles in the Iran-Contra scandal.

But it was in foreign policy that his administration made its mark and established its “legacy” in the eyes of the American ruling elite. The Bush presidency coincided with the collapse of Stalinism, beginning in Eastern Europe in 1989 and culminating in the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Weekend obituaries hailed Bush for adroit management of the crisis, although in truth he had little to do beyond accepting the surrender of Soviet Stalinist leader Mikhail Gorbachev. His one distinctive contribution was the decision to back the reunification of Germany in 1990 over the objections of British Prime Minister Thatcher and French President Mitterrand, both of whom feared the consequences of the reemergence of Germany as a world power in the center of the continent.

The implications of the dissolution of the Soviet Union for world politics were laid bare in the crisis that erupted after Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait in August 1990. The Reagan administration had backed Saddam Hussein during the bloody Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, and Bush continued this policy, even hinting in July 1990, through a US envoy, that the US was neutral on Saddam’s border clash with Kuwait, which was siphoning oil from Iraq’s Rumailah oilfield. Saddam seized Kuwait, but soon found himself caught in a trap, as hundreds of thousands of US and allied soldiers were mobilized to the Arabian Peninsula along with hundreds of warplanes and warships armed with cruise missiles.

When the war began in January 1991, it was a one-sided slaughter of the soldiers of a Third World country by the most powerful military force on the planet. But Bush decided not to expand the war by marching on Baghdad, in part because Saddam Hussein was still viewed as a counterweight against Iran, but even more because he was allied to the Soviet Union, whose existence provided a check on US military options that no longer existed by the time Bush’s son entered the White House ten years later.

The atmosphere in the George H. W. Bush White House during this time was one of imperialist triumphalism, summed up in Bush’s pledge to create a “New World Order.” Bush’s former defense secretary Richard Cheney, who was vice president under George W. Bush, gave a glimpse of this mood during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday. Cheney recalled fondly the budget process of the George H. W. Bush administration when the president and his top aides set spending levels. “When it was time to put the budget together,” he said, “defense came first. We’d decide what the top line was going to be for defense, and I was free to go spend that. Then everybody else got what was left. That’s a great way to operate, if you’re secretary of defense.”

There was little truth about this record of reaction and militarism in the obituary published by the New York Times, which ran to 10,000 words, or the similar 6,000-word tribute in the Washington Post. The two leading US newspapers set the tone for the reverential media coverage, which will continue at full blast on cable television through Wednesday’s national day of mourning. This will be a day off for bankers, stock traders and capitalist politicians, but not for most workers, a class difference that is peculiarly appropriate for this particular dead president.

All sections of the US political establishment joined hands to sing the praises of George H. W. Bush. The Trump White House, whose occupant has made no secret of his hatred of the Bush family, released a statement hailing Bush’s leadership during the “peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War”, adding, “ As president, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed.” Enrichment for Wall Street, of course, not the working class.

The Democrats were even more fervent in their declarations, in part seeking to contrast Bush with the current president, even as they seek “common ground” with Trump’s fascistic rants.

Former President Bill Clinton said in a statement that he considered Bush’s friendship “one of my life’s greatest gifts.” In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Clinton gushed: “He was an honorable, gracious and decent man who believed in the United States, our Constitution, our institutions and our shared future. And he believed in his duty to defend and strengthen them, in victory and defeat.”

Other Democrats chimed in: “He set the standard for decency”, said Thomas A. Daschle, the former Senate majority leader. Former Vice President Joe Biden described Bush as “decent, kind and welcoming.”

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who entered Congress shortly before Bush became president, called him “a gentleman of the highest integrity and deepest patriotism,” and said it was a privilege to work with him. She added that Bush demonstrated “great humility, unwavering compassion, deep faith, and extraordinary kindness in and out of the political arena.”

The state funeral for George H. W. Bush and the ritual of oligarchy: here.

The lying campaign by the ruling class to mythologize George H.W. Bush reached absurd new heights with the elevation of his service dog, “Sully”, as a symbol of mourning and national unity: here.