Updated: Questions from the news

20 12 2013

PPT has been busy in recent weeks and struggling to keep up with a large number of interesting and insightful newspaper reports on Thailand’s current political situation. Academics in the West have come up with accounts that consider that recent events are a struggle of liberalisms, the death throes of Thai paternalism and more. Some Thai academics have pointedly remarked that the struggle is against a political fascism.

As much as we’d like to, we can’t get to all of these views yet we are sure readers have seen them and don’t need our commentary to consider their flaws and contributions. We have to say that the liberalisms notion was a curve ball, and we don’t really get it, but the other perspectives seemed to offer some food for thought.

Rather than commentate, then, we want to ask some questions about items in the news of late.

Question 1: When a bunch of aged generals get together and talk of the “side of righteousness” should we take them seriously? After all, haven’t these military officers been responsible for thousands of political murders and for repressing democracy movements? Maybe the emphasis is not on righteousness but on right-wing extremism.

Question 2: When The Nation, in the same story, says the military reactionaries were joined by Prasong Soonsiri and describe him “a former member of the constitution drafting assembly,” should this newspaper be given a bollocking for outright bias, incompetence, stupidity or all three? After all, Prasong is another of the Dad’s Army of aged and disgruntled schemers who hate elections and democracy. As well as being one of the men behind Suthep Thaugsuban, Prasong has worked to bring down every single elected government since 2001. Indeed, he claims to have been involved with the planning of the 2006 coup.

Question 3: Should we believe the bosses at the Boonrawd Brewery when they distance themselves from the walking selfie, royalist and rightist Chitpas Bhirombhakdi? To be honest, we don’t know, but at least the bosses recognize that her Marie Antoinette-isms when damning every single rural voter as an idiot are damaging to the company. Santi Bhirombakdi made the excellent point that “the company is in debt to the customers…”. We doubt that a spoiled rich girl will listen to any kind of sensible discussion.

Question 4: How is it that the Election Commission can continue to ask for the election to be delayed? Their bleating seems designed to encourage Suthep’s anti-democrats to acts of sabotage against the election and the (un)Democrat Party to boycott. Their call seems unlawful. But that never seems to bother this lot.

Question 5: Has Bangkok Post op-ed writer Veera Prateepchaikul completely lost his marbles? His latest propaganda-piece-posing-as-an-op-ed actually suggests that readers should read rants by the most bizarre self-appointed commentators on the planet and take them seriously. This link is pure Sondhi Limthongkul and People’s Alliance for Democracy. For a while in 2011-12, PAD and ASTV were avid followers of Veera’s Tony Cartalucci. His blog has been Land Destroyer, which provides no information on funding, but as a reader at Prachatai pointed out at the time, it:

[l]inks to Infowars.com which is Alex Jones. Infowars.com accepts advertising from Midas Resources (http://www.midasresources.com/store/store.php?ref=62&promo=specialOffer) which is “One of the world’s premiere precious metals firms, parent company of The Genesis Communications Network, proud sponsor of the Campaign For Liberty and creator of the Ron Paul Air Corps.”

The Ron Paul initiated Campaign for Liberty (http://www.campaignforliberty.com/about.php) draws inspiration from a range of conservatives and libertarians and localists. According to University of Georgia political scientist Keith Poole, Paul had the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress from 1937 to 2002 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul).

Midas Resources was founded by Ted Anderson. Ted Anderson and Alex Jones are collaborators, with Jones appearing on the Genesis Communications Network, where Anderson is the CEO (http://www.gcnlive.com/contact.php). It was established to promote the sale of precious metals (http://www.gcnlive.com/faq.php). Its front page advertisers include Christian holster sellers and a range of survival products (for surviving the coming global food crisis) along with Ron Paul sites and Russia Television/Russia Today. GCN has interviewed right-wing, anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche (http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2008/interviews/080401jack_blood_genesis.html), seen as a political extremist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_LaRouche). LaRouche also has a fan in another link at Land Destroyer in F.W. Engdahl, yet another conspiracy theorist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._William_Engdahl), who believes in global cooling (not warming).

Jones and Anderson have promoted conspiracy rants by people associated with the extremist John Birch Society (http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101290003).

Companies linked in these groups, such as Free Speech Systems (http://freespeechsystems.com/) provide no links or information; certainly not practicing what they preach.

Land Destroyer links to a range of other conspiracy theory websites that never provide any details about funding. One of these is to the site of long-time conspiracy theorist Webster Tarpley who has a remarkable Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_Tarpley). Another is to anti-fluoride, anti-vaccination, Bin Laden is alive (Alex Jones too), and conspiracy theorist Jim Corr who is also on about the threat or One World Government (http://www.jimcorr.com/).

In the LaRouche Wikipedia page, in the section on “Selected Works,” it might be noted that LaRouche wrote a book with Uwe Von Parpart in 1970. Several sites note that he later worked at Asia Times and The Manager magazine owned by Sondhi Limthongkul. Interesting connections.

Question 6: Recalling that Veera’s op-ed is supposed to be a lecture on democracy but cites sources like Cartalucci, LaRouche and the John Birch Society should we consider Veera’s notions of democracy on a par with fascists, racists and mad conspiricists?

Update: As might be expected The Nation has also begun reporting the bile of fascists, racists and mad conspiricists as if they were real journalists. It seems difficult for many of those associated with The Nation to distinguish between claptrap and professional journalism. Interestingly, this story cites a journalism lecturer who appears to know little of his professed trade, and yellow-shirted academic Charas Suwanmala, who has “raised concerns that comments by academics given to foreign media were often becoming targets of harsh criticism in social media.” He makes some useful points but is then quoted as saying:

“Academics should not be condemned as long as they honestly opine academically and independently,” he said. “But if they are academics who have sold their souls, are being paid by some people to support one side, give comments without considering the facts or without caring for what is right or wrong, then they deserve to be condemned.”

Hold up the mirror. Charas has effectively been a propagandist for PAD from the beginning and cooperated with the military junta and its government. His political views are rabidly anti-democratic and pro-monarchy.

Bout, communism and The John Birch Society

23 01 2011

This is a small footnote to the Viktor Bout saga that seemed completed, for a moment, when Russian Viktor Bout was extradited in unusual circumstances to the U.S. See PPT posts here (for the alleged royal connection), here and here. There was also some traffic in the Wikileaks cables.

Bout has appeared in court in the U.S., and this report, from The New American presents the extreme right-wing perspective on the case from The John Birch Society (which pays for the magazine) and claims links to the tea party neo-fascists in America. The interesting aspect of the story is the Cold War rhetoric on communism.

As mentioned above, this is but a footnote, but an interesting one.