Monday, December 03, 2007



Vacation time for me. But don't worry, Ken will be running the ship while I'm away. Today I leave for India, Burma and Thailand. I've spent lots of time in India and Thailand. I first arrived in India on December 1, 1969. It was the day I gave up pot. I had driven threre from London and spent 2 years in and around India. I've been back twice since then. I've lost count of the number of times I've been to Thailand, more than a dozen though. This will be my first trip to Burma-- what the military junta there calls the Union of Myanmar. I've been reading more about Burma's history and politics in preparation for the trip and what I found was disheartening. I mean we all know about the recent events and about the story of Nobel Peace Prize honoree Aung San Suu Kyi but what I didn't know is how Bush-connected Republican operatives have been diligently helping the junta try to tidy up its image.

If you were a brutal fascist dictatorship and you wanted to appear less brutal and less fascist, where would you turn? DCI Group, LLC is where the junta turned. It's a very Republican, very Bush-connected public relations and lobbying firm in Washington. Their website boasts about their political connections. “We are a political firm and all of our partners have political campaign experience. We thrive in competitive circumstances, and are used to fluid situations and tight deadlines." They specialize in corporately-funded deceit, establishing bogus "grassroots" groups to make it appear that third parties favor their clients' nefarious goals (like cigarette smoke, junk food, polution... dictatorship... you know, the whole GOP song and dance). “Corporations seldom win alone. Whatever the issue, whatever the target-- elected officials, regulators or public opinion-- you need reliable third party allies to advocate your cause. We can help you recruit credible coalition partners and engage them for maximum impact. It’s what we do best." What more could a junta ask for?

The sleazy outfit's managing partners, Tom Synhorst, Doug Goodyear and Tim Hyde, are all right out of Big Tobacco. In recent years Syndhorst, the chairman, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to every wingnut who's come asking, from Billy Tauzen, Tom DeLay, Tom Feeney, John Sununu, George Bush, Ernest Istook, to Jon Kyl, Thad Cochran, Elizabeth Dole and all the way down in to bottom of the barrel territory with Patrick McHenry and Mark Foley. Ditto for Goodyear, the ceo, who has favored such right-wing fanatics as DeLay, Kyl, Mike Enzi, John Ensign, McHenry, Santorum, Cubin, McCain, Bush, et al. (He also gives to Democrats willing to undermine their own party, like Ben Nelson.)

Best known for millions of dollars in astro-turf activities for Microsoft, PhRMA and AT&T, DCI had no problem taking on Myamar as a client. The junta paid them $340,000 to orchestrate a campaign that would lead to recognition from the Bush Regime. Al Kamen wrote in the Washington Post that "DCI's filings with the Justice Department offer an unusual glimpse into the efforts by the Rangoon junta. DCI lobbyists, featuring Charles Francis, a longtime family friend of the Bushes, ran a sophisticated campaign to improve the regime's image-- and steer the conversation away from its rampant human rights abuses and such." Even with Burma under American sanctions that bars contacts between the 2 rightist regimes, DCI succeeded in setting up some meetings and lobbyied furiously to get the State Department to grant recognition. There was too much pressure from Congress and human rights organizations for Bush to pull it off quietly.

I won't be blogging from Burma but I'll report back when I'm home. Meanwhile, I did a little music clip to the Psychedelic Furs song "India." Enjoy:

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At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where all in India are you headed, Howie?

At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a great vacation. And be safe.

Dee Loralei

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Elliott said...

What Dee Loralei said.

am especially looking forward to your reports on Burma when you return.


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