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Greetings, once again, to all subscribers! It’s been kind of a long week, hasn’t it?

Perhaps it is time to take an honest, unflinching look at where we stand as citizens of these United States as we near the halfway mark of The Smirk’s first term in office.

The ‘economy’ is clearly not looking very good. By that, I mean that unemployment is on the rise (, as is poverty (, while healthcare coverage is on the decline (; the nation is facing record deficits, millions of Americans’ retirement savings have been plundered, and social spending is being further gutted (

But it is not really fair to say that the ‘economy’ is in trouble. I know that that is what any number of progressive commentators would like you to believe — that the system is in a state of crisis, which is purportedly why the Bush mob is desperately searching for a war that will bolster our shaky economy.

But if the economy is in crisis, then it is a planned crisis. As near as I can tell, the system is functioning exactly as it was set up to operate: wealth is being consolidated into the hands of the few at a rate never before seen in modern history. That, you see, is how the system is supposed to work.

And it is working beautifully right now. Even as the working people of this country are seeing their jobs taken away and their savings looted, those doing the looting are accumulating unfathomable wealth and being handed massive tax breaks.

What we call ‘capitalism’ is a system based entirely on exploitation and oppression. It is a system that, by design, allows the powerful few at the top of the food chain to extract wealth from the labors of others. It is, in a very real sense, a system of ‘legalized’ theft that exists solely so that the powerful can prey upon the weak.

It is a cold and soulless system that enshrines personal greed as a defining moral principle and is, at its heart, fundamentally corrupt. The current corporate ‘scandals’ are not, in other words, some kind of aberration. They are merely exposures of how the system really operates behind closed doors.

Anyway, the point that I started to make is that the ‘economy’ is actually humming along quite nicely for all of those who really matter. For the vast majority of us, however, the economic picture is looking increasingly bleak  And in a society indoctrinated to believe that occupation and income are the only true measures of a man (and, to some extent, of a woman, though we do live within a decidedly paternalistic social order), that means that the huddled masses will grow increasingly restless.

Coupled with the current economic climate, we are about to enter into a war which will soon reveal itself to be an exceedingly bloody affair. For this is not to be, as The Smirk has claimed, “a new kind of war,” but will in fact be a very old-fashioned kind of war: the kind where both sides suffer substantial casualties.

This is going to be the kind of war that the American people will quickly remember they have no stomach for. The kind of war where people actually die — and not some less-than-human people who don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, don’t think like us, and don’t, as Washington likes to claim, “have the same respect for human life that we do.”

Americans have an amazing capacity for remaining unaffected by the deaths of legions of foreigners — by either denying that there are actual human beings at the receiving ends of all those ‘smart bombs’ that we see hitting their targets with pinpoint accuracy on CNN, or by blaming the victims of U.S. aggression for their own deaths.

But when it is America’s sons and brothers and husbands and fathers that are being shipped back in body bags, the same rules do not apply.

Many of those who pollsters tell us now support the impending war with Iraq will continue voicing their support even after the body bags begin rolling off the cargo planes — and even after it becomes clear, despite the heavy veil of U.S. propaganda, that Iraqi civilians are being slaughtered by the tens of thousands.

And make no mistake about it, there will be an extraordinarily high tally of civilian casualties. That is why the propaganda war is already operating at a fever pitch. The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article claiming that Saddam is arming tribal militias to help repel the U.S. invasion.

The purpose of such disinformation couldn’t possibly be any more obvious — the message being that there are no actual civilians in the nation of Iraq — everyone is an armed combatant. And since there are no civilians, there certainly can’t be any civilian casualties.

The White House and the Pentagon will not be able to fully hide the extreme cost of this war in human lives. As the war quickly degenerates into a grueling bloodbath, the propaganda will be flying fast and furious. The American people, promised a quick and painless war, will listen attentively as Washington patiently explains what went wrong:

“Unfortunately, we are facing a situation that, while taken into consideration in the planning of this war, everyone falsely assumed that we would not have to face. We all knew, of course, that Saddam was a monster, but no one really wanted to believe that even a madman like him would sacrifice hundreds of thousands of his own people to protect his troops. But that is exactly what he has chosen to do. And in doing so, he has also put American servicemen in harm’s way. But America will not lose its resolve. To the contrary, the manner in which Hussein has chosen to wage this war illustrates just how important it is for America to rid the world of this menace once and for all.”

That is approximately the line that will be sold to the American people, and many will find comfort in such words: “It’s not our fault that ‘enemy’ civilians are being slaughtered on a scale not seen since the Vietnam War. It’s Saddam’s fault. He’s using his own people as human shields.”

But for many other Americans, the propaganda will not be enough to sell the war. Some will simply not believe Washington’s self-serving lies. Others will ultimately decide that the price we will be asked to pay is simply too high. And these people will become increasingly vocal, as will the countless Americans who increasingly fall victim to the economic machinations of Team Bush.

Many of these Americans, from both camps, will eventually decide to take to the streets to allow their voices to be heard. But they have a big surprise waiting for them, as they quickly discover that the rights that they assume they have as Americans have been sacrificed to the entirely fraudulent ‘War on Terrorism.’

The right to peacefully assemble to address legitimate grievances with the government? The right to free speech? Don’t go looking for them, because you won’t like what you find.
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How about the right to be secure in one’s own home? Or the right to an attorney? Or the right to protection from unlawful prosecution? Or the right to a fair trial? Or the right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure? Don’t go looking for any of them either.

Rights such as those are but memories now. And the reason that those rights no longer exist has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, and nothing to do with ensuring the security of this nation, and everything to do with laying the groundwork for the backlash against the unchecked military aggression and predatory economic policies of the Bush regime.

To make a long story short then, the shit is necessarily going to hit the fan relatively soon, and the squatters in the White House are well aware of that fact. But they are not about to back off. It is abundantly clear from their actions that the police-state agenda is on the fast-track — and nothing is going to slow it down.

Indeed, anything and everything will be used to advance the agenda. We don’t yet know who the ‘DC sniper’ is, but we already know at least one of the goals served by the series of shootings — justification for taking a large step towards formally dismantling the Posse Comitatus Act.

Actually, it seems unlikely that we will ever know who the DC sniper really is. But here are some tips for police investigators: give some thought to looking for a highly trained assassination team. The team will likely include a couple of skilled sharpshooters, as well as support personnel to scout locations, monitor escape routes, watch for potential witnesses and perform other such mundane tasks. The team will have received extensive training in the mechanics and logistics of completing covert assassination missions.

You might want to think about consulting with your new partners from the Pentagon to see if any such Special Forces teams are currently deployed in the DC area. That might be a good starting point. Either that, or you could just frame some hapless patsy who can’t shoot well enough to hit the broad side of a fucking barn. Either way works for me.

Now … where was I? Oh yes, I remember now. I was saying that propaganda alone is not going to be sufficient to sell brutal and nakedly imperialistic military actions, and a transparently fraudulent and predatory economic system. Team Bush will therefore have to utilize the same strategy on the home front that they are using to get their way in Afghanistan and Iraq: brute force.

And that is, as best I can remember, the main point I was trying to make. And now, it is time once again to dip into that deep well of knowledge known as Time Magazine, as we once again pay a visit to their “Man of the Year” archives.

The year in question is 1951, and during that year – in case you’ve forgotten, or weren’t yet alive – a grave new threat arose that was of considerable concern to one of Washington’s favorite mouthpieces — so much so that Time chose Iran’s popular new head of state, Mohammed Mossadegh, as their Man of the Year.

Mossadegh was not named Man of the Year to honor him, of course. No, it was more of an attempt to demonize him. And Time’s editors struggled mightily to achieve that goal, but largely failed, due primarily to the fact that Mossadegh was, as even Timeacknowledged, “such a kindly old fellow (in some respects).”

Time also granted that “the old nobleman became the most world-renowned man his ancient race had produced for centuries.” Quickly added, however, was that Mossadegh “increased the danger of a general war among nations, impoverished his country and brought it and some neighboring lands to the very brink of disaster.”

Actually, Mossadegh did no such thing. What he did do was to attempt to throw off the yoke of Western colonial rule. And for that he was hailed as a hero by the Iranian people, and by oppressed peoples throughout the Middle East and around the world. As Time stated: “his people loved all that he did, and cheered him to the echo whenever he appeared in the streets.”

Unable to portray Mossadegh as a monster, Time instead attempted to present him as a hopeless eccentric whose eccentricities somehow imperiled global stability. Throughout the article, Time resorted repeatedly to the rather childish practice of name-calling — dubbing Mossadegh a “dizzy old wizard” and “an appalling caricature of a statesman,” while even claiming at one point that “he fibs about his age.”

As a side note, I should probably clarify here that it is childish when Time resorts to name-calling, but it is witty and insightful political commentary when I do it. I just wanted to clear that up, before moving on.

Time assured America that what it termed Mossadegh’s “peculiar” methods of governing were no laughing matter, but were in fact of grave international concern: “Behind his grotesque antics lay great issues of peace or war, progress or decline, which would affect many lands far beyond his mountains.”

Mossadegh, you see, had influence far beyond Iran’s borders: “There were millions inside and outside Iran whom Mossadegh symbolized and spike for, and whose fanatical state of mind he had helped to create. They would rather see their own nations fall apart than continue their present relations with the West.”

But why would discontinuing “their present relations the West” automatically ensure that their nations would fall apart? And, more importantly, why did people “spike” in those days, rather than “spoke”? And what the hell does “cheer to the echo” mean?

Time seemed to have a little trouble defining exactly what type of threat to the world Mossadegh posed. Much to the consternation of the magazine’s editors, no doubt, Mossadegh couldn’t be branded with that handy label that served so well throughout the so-called Cold War: “Communist.”

As Time explained: “Communism encouraged this state of mind, and stood to profit hugely from it. But Communism did not create it. The split between the West and the non-Communist East was a peril all its own to world order, quite apart from Communism. Through 1951 the Communist threat to the world continued; but nothing new was added–and little subtracted. The news of 1951 was this other danger in the Near and Middle East.”

Ahh, yes, this largely undefined “other danger” — for anyone who refuses to serve as a tool of Western imperialism is certainly a “danger.” That much, apparently, is a given.

What was needed, according to Time, was for America to draw up a comprehensive policy for dealing with this new ‘threat’ that had emerged in the Middle East. The problem was that “the West had not yet developed the moral muscle to define its own goals and responsibilities in the Middle East.”

And until “the West achieved enough moral clarity to construct a just and fruitful policy toward the East,” the region would remain “in turmoil.” We certainly, in other words, couldn’t leave it to the peoples of the Middle East to govern themselves. Only a fool would suggest such a thing. Clearly, only the West could provide the guidance to lift these heathens out of their backward existence.

The question naturally arises as to what exactly it was that Mossadegh had done to so endanger world stability. What sort of dangerous policies was it that so worried Time Magazine? The answer finally comes about 2/3 of the way through the Time article:

“On March 8, the day after Ali Razmara, Iran’s able, pro-Western Premier, was assassinated, Mossadegh submitted to the Iranian Majilis his proposal to nationalize Iran’s oil. In a few weeks a wave of anti-foreign feeling, assisted by organized terrorism, swept him into the premiership.”

And there, in a nutshell, was the reason for Time’s and Washington’s concerns: Mossadegh had chosen to stop the brazen exploitation of Iran’s natural resources by foreign interests, and to instead use the wealth derived from such resources for the good of the people occupying the land that contained the oil. What a bizarre concept.

And Mossadegh was quite serious about nationalizing Iran’s petroleum industry. He “was committed to nationalization–and much to the surprise of the British, he went through with it, right down to the expulsion of the British technicians without whom the Iranians cannot run the Abadan refinery.”

Of course, Mossadegh was so crazed that he actually thought the Iranian people could run the industry themselves, free of outside influence. Time though knew better. Time knew that the unwashed masses of Iran were far too ignorant to run the oil industry properly.

The ‘news’ magazine listed four results of this hare-brained scheme of Mossadegh’s, though only the first one is of any significance: “the West lost the Iranian oil supply.”

So, clearly, the West had a big problem on its hands with Mohammed Mossadegh. And the ‘problem’ was spreading: “The Iranian crisis was still bubbling when Egypt exploded with the announcement that it was abrogating its 1936 treaty with Britain. The Egyptian government demanded that British troops get off the soil of Egypt.”

Contrary to the assertions of Time, the West did though have a Middle East policy — a policy of conquest and control. The problem was that it couldn’t be fully implemented until the West figured out what to do about an even bigger problem — a guy by the name of Joseph Stalin, who held the rampant imperialism of the West largely in check for eight years following World War II.

Fortunately for the U.S. then, Stalin died on March 5, 1953, under conditions that to this day are shrouded in mystery. Almost immediately, plans were put into effect in Washington to deal with the Mossadegh ‘problem,’ followed by a rapid proliferation of other covert activities designed to gain Western control over various other parts of the world.

On April 4, 1953, less than a month after Stalin’s demise, CIA Director Allen W. Dulles approved expenditures of $1 million to be used “in any way that would bring about the fall of Mossadegh” in Iran — so that the West could once again seize control of Iran’s oil fields.

The U.S. and the UK had occupied Iran in August of 1941. Heading the U.S. military mission was a man whose name should be at least vaguely familiar to most Americans: General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Iran’s ruling regime was ousted and the Western powers took control of the nation’s oil industry.

As a brief aside, Schwarzkopf’s claim to fame prior to leading the World War II mission to Iran was leading the police investigation that railroaded Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the kidnapping and murder of the son of native fascist Charles Lindbergh.

For a decade after Schwarzkopf’s incursion into Iran, control of the country’s precious oil reserves was maintained by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, with the emphasis on “Anglo.” All that changed, of course, when Mossadegh reclaimed Iran’s oil resources for the people of Iran in 1951.

In June of 1953, the chief of the CIA’s Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt, arrived in Tehran to direct a coup. Kermit was, for the record, a grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and a cousin of that consummate ‘liberal Democrat,’ Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Kermit’s coup plan had been approved by John Foster Dulles — Eisenhower’s Secretary of State and the brother of CIA Director Allen Dulles. Another conspirator in the planning of the coup was Schwarzkopf, who from 1942 to 1948 trained and reorganized the Iranian National Police. The result of his efforts was the dreaded SAVAK, which by 1976 was reported by Amnesty International to have the worst human rights record on the planet.

Also assisting in planning and financing the coup was the ever-popular Rockefeller family, whose Standard Oil Company had, shall we say, vested interests in the region. Others notables assisting in the plotting and/or execution of the coup were Herbert Hoover, Jr., a highly placed CIA asset and the son of former President Hoover, and CIA asset Loy Henderson.

The coup commenced on August 15 and by August 19 had succeeded in deposing Mossadegh. Taking his place was Shah Pahlavi, who happened to have a large portion of his soiled personal fortune deposited in the Rockefeller family’s Chase Manhattan Bank.

On August 21, the CIA pumped millions of dollars into Iran to prop up the illegitimate new regime. Hoover quickly put together a consortium to handle the marketing of all Iranian oil, while SAVAK terrorized the Iranian people into compliance. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Time Magazine described the reacquisition of Iran’s oil wealth by the West in slightly different terms. In yet another Man of the Year offering, this time honoring none other than John Foster Dulles (1954), Time hailed one of Dulles’ “clear-cut gains” as Secretary of State: “After three years of shutdown and stalemate at Abadan (caused by the stubborn egotism of 1951’s Man of the Year Mohammed Mossadegh), Iran agreed to let foreign firms (chiefly British) resume operating the Iranian oil industry, which the Iranians were incapable of operating. The agreement was prodded, adjusted and pushed through by Loy Henderson, the U.S. Ambassador, and Special U.S. Emissary Herbert Hoover, Jr., now Under Secretary of State.”

So you see, Iran simply “agreed to let foreign firms … resume operating the Iranian oil industry.” Because, of course, they had no idea how to do it themselves. They just needed a little prodding and pushing — with a little mass murder and torture thrown in for good measure.

Another “clear-cut gain” of Dulles’ State Department was posted when “Jacobo Arbenz’ Communist-dominated government of Guatemala, the only Red bastion in the western hemisphere, was overthrown by the anti-Communist forces of Castillo Armas.”

This is another interesting bit of historical myth-making on the part of Time’s editors. What actually happened was that the Dulles-run CIA launched another coup that ousted the democratically elected Arbenz.

Arbenz had become the president of Guatemala in 1951 in a landslide election victory. Like Mossadegh, who gained power the same year, Arbenz had widespread popular support. Also like Mossadegh, Arbenz was of considerable concern to Washington.

In June of 1954, one year after the Iran coup, another CIA team, directed by Eisenhower and the Dulles boys, set their sights on toppling the Arbenz government. Once again, it was a decidedly bloody affair, this time involving massive aerial bombardment by U.S. aircraft and repeated nuclear threats.

When it was all over, Arbenz was dead and a decidedly fascistic U.S. puppet, General Castillo Armas, had been installed in power to head up a noticeably undemocratic military regime.

And what, you may be wondering, had Arbenz done to so provoke the wrath of Washington? If you’re guessing that it had something to do with nationalizing the natural resources of the nation of Guatemala, then you’re catching on to how this game is played.

If Arbenz and Mossadegh were around today, their countries would be labeled as “rogue” nations, or as “terrorist-sponsoring” regimes — which generally means nations that refuse to recognize that America has the God-given right to extract profit from every square inch of the globe.

That, you see, is how the ‘rule of law’ operates: if a ‘common criminal’ sees something in a store window that he wants, and chooses to just take it, then that is a serious crime; but if the United States sees something that it wants and just takes it, killing thousands, perhaps millions, in the process, then that is bringing democratic reform to the rest of the world.

Arbenz had announced his intention to nationalize the assets of United Fruit, which had close ties to both the Dulles brothers and the Rockefeller family. At the time that Arbenz took office, United had a stranglehold on the nation of Guatemala; it owned the country’s telephone and telegraph facilities as well as nearly every mile of its railroads, administered its only important Atlantic harbor, monopolized its banana exports, owned an enormous portion of the land, and paid out over half of the country’s total wages, while paying negligible taxes and export duties.

This sweetheart deal had come courtesy of John Foster Dulles and Sullivan & Cromwell, who had ‘negotiated’ a ninety-nine-year ‘lease’ for United Fruit in 1936. Financing for the deal had been provided by the Nazi-controlled J. Henry Schroder Banking Co., for whom Allen Dulles was both a legal advisor and a director.

Just two years after the bloodbath in Guatemala, Kermit Roosevelt was assigned by the Eisenhower administration to plot yet another coup, this time directed against the nation of Syria. Kermit was assisted in the operation by fellow CIA asset Archibald Roosevelt, yet another grandson of Teddy.

And so began an endless series of bloody coups, rigged elections, and assassinations — all aimed at bringing all of the world under the control of the West, even while Western leaders justified their actions with claims that it was the Soviet Union that had its sights set on world domination. Strangely though, Time had earlier admitted, in yet another Man of the Year offering (1942), that Stalin was “concentrat[ing] on building socialism in one state,” and wanted “no new territories except at points needed to make Russia impregnable against invasion.”

It is also interesting to note that, even in the midst of demonizing Stalin in an earlier Man of the Year offering (1939), Time begrudgingly admitted that after twelve years of his rule, “There were accounts of big dams built, large factories going up, widespread industrialization, big collective-farming projects. Five-Year plans were announced. Free schools and hospitals were erected everywhere. Illiteracy was on the way to being wiped out. There was no persecution of minorities as such. A universal eight-hour and then a seven-hour day prevailed. There were free hospitalization, free workers’ summer colonies, etc.”

That same MOY article also made a passing reference to “Soviet Russia’s meticulously fostered reputation of a peace-loving, treaty-abiding nation,” and noted that “Soviet Russia had definitely gained some measure of respect for its apparent righteousness in foreign affairs. It had supported against reactionary attacks popular governments in Hungary, Austria, China, Spain.” The U.S., meanwhile, had sat idly by, pretending as though its hands were tied by international treaties — treaties that were specifically crafted to justify inaction by the West as fascism spread across Europe and Asia.

The specific treaty that supposedly bound the hands of the West was the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, coauthored by U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand. Briand was, by the way, a political crony of Pierre Laval, a notorious fifth-columnist who sold his country out to the Nazis and who was, curiously enough, showered with praise as Time’s Man of the Year for 1931.

It should go without saying that the excerpts from Time’s two profiles of Stalin sound nothing like the dreaded “Stalinism” that we all love to hate. Instead, we find a peace-loving, treaty-abiding nation that consistently sides with the people to oppose fascist regimes, that offers free, quality education and healthcare for all, that has guaranteed worker protections, and that is known for racial tolerance.

Compare that with what we have now: a war mongering, outlaw nation that consistently backs brutal, fascistic regimes against the will of the people, that barely bothers to fund public education and that offers medical care only to those who can afford the exorbitant fees charged for such services, that has declared war on labor by invoking the Taft-Hartley Act under entirely contrived circumstances, and that could, shall we say, use a little work in the area of racial tolerance.

Now bear with me here, because I’m just thinking out loud, but it seems to me that ‘Stalinism,’ even as presented through the biased eyes of Time, would be a vast improvement over this fabulously ‘free’ and ‘democratic’ system that we now have. And it seems kind of funny to me, quite frankly, that we have all been taught to so thoroughly and universally despise the one man on the world stage who could honestly claim credit for doing what the U.S. likes to pompously boast of: defeating the fascist powers of Europe.

Any reasonably honest reading of history reveals that it was the Red Army that crushed the Nazi war machine, with only nominal ‘help’ from the West coming late in the fourth quarter. And it was Joseph Stalin who commanded that Red Army. According to Time, Stalin put in sixteen-hour days personally directing the war effort, while living in a modest three-room apartment.

This may not be a ‘politically correct’ statement, but the world owes an incalculable debt of gratitude to Joseph Stalin for slaying the fascist beat — or at least sending it underground until, in case you haven’t noticed yet, it recently resurfaced.

Having, I would think, generated a sufficient amount of hostile e-mail with that digression, let’s return once again to “the world according to Time,” whose glowing tribute to John Foster Dulles proclaimed: “The U.S. needed all its strength and confidence to handle 1954’s struggle with Communism, which has been the overriding issue of every year since 1945.” And it would, of course, remain the alleged “overriding issue” for decades to come.

It was an issue that justified, among other things, “the free world’s grim dependence on massive atomic retaliation,” which Dulles never attempted to veil. Indeed, by 1954, Dulles “was able to report to the U.S. that plans for Europe’s defense had entered a new phase.” And what phase might that be, you may be wondering? According to Time: “Tactical atomic weapons.”

It’s kind of funny, by the way, that the Time article makes no less than eight references to “the free world.” It kind of makes you wonder why, if it is so free, they have to keep reminding people of that fact.

As Time noted, NATO (itself largely a Dulles creation) had adopted John Foster’s tactical atomic weapons plan “within 30 minutes. It provided for consultation prior to the use of nuclear weapons by NATO forces, but it did not set rigid rules or tie the hands of such non-NATO forces as the U.S. Strategic Air Command.”

Of course it didn’t. It certainly wouldn’t do to have the hands of the U.S. tied when it comes to the deployment of weapons of mass destruction. Everybody knows that.

Despite all of Dulles’ allegedly stellar accomplishments, Time dutifully reported that there were “two major setbacks of 1954.” One of these wasn’t actually a setback at all, however, but was in fact a planned occurrence to justify the rearming of Germany, just a decade after the genocidal reign of the Nazi regime had been shut down.

As Time informed its readers, 1954 saw “the death of the European Defense Community.” The only alternative on the horizon, of course, was “to rearm and grant sovereignty to West Germany under a different set of agreements.” What other choice, after all, was there? And so, Time assured us, “Somehow, the rearmament of Germany will begin in 1955, whatever stand France takes.”

I guess they got off pretty easy. Much easier than, say, Iraq, which can’t even think about rearming more than a decade after its military defeat. But then I guess Iraq’s crimes were much more serious than Nazi Germany’s … or something like that.

The other major setback for the rabidly “anti-Communist” (frequently a euphemism for “Fascist”) John Foster Dulles was “the defeat in Indo-China.” The French had, it will be recalled, suffered a major defeat in their attempts to pacify by force the people of Vietnam.

As Time lamented, there “was scant hope that the Communists could be prevented from swallowing up all of Viet Nam. There was great danger in the aura of success that surrounded the Communists in the Far East.” The U.S. would soon be passed the baton by the French, setting the stage for one of the bloodiest chapters in American history.

And that, I suppose, will have to suffice for this week’s rather long-winded history lesson, as I have a lot of other stuff that I want to get to. But this newsletter has, once again, ran much too long, and so I will once again have to split it in two, and post the second half in a few days. Stay tuned ….