Friday, March 5, 2004

Today's Must-Read

Ourselves Alone.

Billmon's comments are very astute, and I endorse his ideas of how to best go about building a progressive movement whole-heartedly. Check it out. From my vantage point idealism is good up to a point, but it has to be tempered by the practical realities governing the political/social landscape.

If This is What Bush Wants, I Say Let's Do It

It's not often I feel moved to comply with Presidential requests, but this one is truly worthy of an exception.

OK, Some Humor For Friday

Blog Lite

Spent much of the day yesterday over at Seward County Community College helping to recruit transfer students from there to my university. It's a wonderful college, and one that has sent plenty of students our way. Got to meet some potential new students, and got to interface with some of the faculty and staff and in the process learned a bit more about the demographics of SCCC transfer students. I loved the facility, and was very impressed with the caliber of the faculty, staff and administration.

Anyhoo, just didn't have much time or energy to spend in blogtopia. Maybe will today.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Shorter Dick Cheney

It's only a flesh wound.

Shorter Josh Marshall: "You've got no arms left!"

40 Thoughts on The Passion

Quite an amusing set of observations on the much-hyped Jesus Chainsaw Massacre The Passion.

So I wonder when old Mel will get around to the sequel: Jesus Christ: The Second Coming. Now there's a title that would be befitting of either an action-packed religious blood and gore thriller or a soft porn flick.

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Will The End of Oil Mean The End of America?

That's the question posed by Robert Freeman. One thing that we know is a given: oil is a nonrenewable resource that will eventually be depleted. We also know that at some point, that our ability to pump oil from the ground will reach a peak -- depending on whom one reads that peak has either happened, is imminent, or is about two or three decades away. Add to that the fact that our energy consumption, which is already disproportionately large compared to the rest of the planet, is increasing and is expected to continue to increase for the foreseeable future. On top of those facts, we as a society continue to behave as if the oil will continue to flow forever: we're capable of conserving far more than we conserve currently, and we have yet to invest the necessary capital and personnel in alternative energy research to successfully move us to a post-petroleum-powered existence.

Given the above, how do we go about assuring that we can produce sufficient energy to meet our needs? The approach that the US has taken is one of obtaining access to oil by force. Freeman's article does a good job of outlining what that choice entails for us as a society, and suggests that the increased "need" for military expenditures, "pre-emptive" or "preventive" warfare, and gutting our own citizens' Constitutional rights can be explained as outcomes of this drive to outcompete other nations for access to those all important oil reserves. The ultimate consequences of this approach: as the oil supplies run out we can expect increased economic turmoil, famines (think of all that petroleum needed for pesticides, fungicides, etc.), an escalation in warfare. One might easily argue that globally we'll be plunged into a new dark age.

A post-petroleum existence is inevitable: If not in my lifetime, certainly in my children's lifetimes. It comes down to what that existence will look like: if the current dynamics hold, we could very well have humanity essentially living in its own feces, left to ponder the decaying skeleton of the civilizations that preceded it. If we as a species can figure out how to cooperatively solve the problem of meeting our energy needs and transitioning to a post-petroleum existence we could create a way of life that is better than what we have now. At least that's the hope.


Monday, March 1, 2004

Music and Politics: Yeah They Do Mix

The music world explodes in anger, reads the subtitle of this piece by Shadi Hamid. And indeed, there is certainly a good deal of political and social commentary by rockers to be found in Hamid's report.

Actually, this isn't anything that terribly new. Political and social commentary within the context of rock go back pretty much to the beginning of its history. The whole 1960s decade is filled with politically oriented recording artists, such as Bob Dylan, Sly and the Family Stone, Neil Young, and so forth. And then there's the whole punk and hardcore scene that exploded in the 1970s and into the 1980s that brought us artists who truly put their money where their mouths were: Jello Biafra's run for Mayor of San Francisco around the beginning of the 1980s, which while intended more as a vanity campaign to clue voters into the sham of Bay Area electoral politics ended up snagging a third place finish for this then-Dead Kennedys frontman; bands such as The Apostles, Crass, and Chumbawamba which were as much anarchist collectives and communities, and which served to simultaneously inform and entertain their fans; bands like the Clash and Gang of Four, and solo artist like Billy Bragg who introduced socialist theory into their lyrics; bands comprising the first two waves of industrial music, such as Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, and Skinny Puppy.

If we peek into the rap world, much of the best rap has been focused on political and social commentary. Much of this early rap was as much latter-day Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka inspired beat poetry and is the predecessor to today's def poetry jams. Check out cats like Gil-Scott Heron ("The Revolution Will Not Be Televised") and Last Poets from the 1970s; cats like Public Enemy in the 1980s; cats like Digable Planets, Dead Prez, The Coup from the 1990s into the present decade. They've got something to say that's positive, progressive, and which will in the words of George Clinton "free your mind, and your ass will follow."

Jazz artists too have pursued political commentary either in the titles chosen for their songs (e.g., Charles Mingus' classic "Fables of Faubus" or John Coltrane's "Alabama"), or have been more overtly political in their music and public statements. Check out the work and ideas of Archie Shepp, who's been recording for well over four decades, or Mtume's early Afro-centric musical outings, or the music and actions of the members of Oneness of Juju.

It's always been there with recording artists. Whether or not we see it depends on how willing we are to open our minds and our ears, and our willingness to simply tune out the homogenized Clear Channel nonsense that pollutes the airwaves.

Coup in Haiti?

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman has the goods, in interviews with Maxine Waters and Randall Robinson - both of whom have spoken with Aristide since his ouster. Of course, Dubya contends that "democracy is working in Haiti." A rather funny man, that Dubya. Now whom am I more likely to believe: Aristide or Dubya, the latter of whom has proven more than willing to shamelessly lie? It's no contest for me: Aristide has the cred.

More can be found at American Leftist, Daily Kos, and at The Whiskey Bar.

Happy 100th Dr. Seuss (March 2)

That's right. March 2 is the 100th birthday of Dr. Seuss, an author whose work graced my bookshelves when I was a child and whose books now delight my own children. My favorites were Fox in Socks and Green Eggs and Ham. There was something wonderfully subversive to his books, with his willingness to tackle environmental issues, social responsibility, stereotyping and so forth with a gentle sense of humor. So let's give the Doc some props, and celebrate his centennial in the best possible manner: read and in the process feed our imaginations and intellect. Laughter is optional but highly recommended.

To find out more, check out this terrorist organization's the NEA Read Across America page.

Update:mousemusings has a cool Seuss-inspired poem that updates the story of the Whos in Whoville. Enjoy!

You Da Man, Hugo Chavez

Chavez Calls Bush 'Asshole' as Foes Fight Troops

Chavez of Venezuela remains feisty as ever. The US will have an easier time setting up a puppet regime in Haiti than in Venezuela. Of course as an OPEC nation that could conceivably decide to trade in Euros instead of US Dollars, I can imagine the US government interest in "regime change."

Blast From the Past

Some important reading from Seeing the Forest:

Some History of the Conservative Movement

How to Fight Back

These posts have been around a while, but remain timely.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

"Waiter, there's a terrorist in my soup!"

Seems like terrorists are everywhere. Not only are teachers terrorists, but so also are trial lawyers, according Hank Greenberg (chairman of American International Group, Inc., an insurance company). And Mike Barnicle labels two actors nominated for oscars as terrorists. And the response from mainstream media pundits for such slander: is that the sound of crickets chirping?

In the meantime, read this exchange between Aristide and Judy Woodruff. One person's terrorist is another person's political opponent.

And of course there's quite a bit of talk these days with regard to whether or not Osama bin Laden has been captured or is on the verge of being captured. Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of the reports that have come out so far, but that's pretty much my nature. I'm hesitant to dismiss Al Jazeera as Calpundit does, as that particular news source has been about as reliable as any of late. Nor would I want to dismiss the rumors circulating as mere conspiracies from the tinfoil hat contingent. To be honest, nothing much surprises me about Bu$hCo at this stage, and if these clowns thought that they could make political hay by trotting out an already captured Osama at a crucial point in the 2004 campaign, they probably would. But so far these seem to be little more than rumors, so I'll remain ever skeptical until more data is available.

One more thing to ponder: about 225-230 years ago, King George III would probably have called George Washington and his followers "terrorists." So was Washington the English King's Osama bin Laden? Keep in mind that one person's terrorists may very well be another's freedom fighters. Who decides? I suppose whoever gets to write the history books.

Stern Refuses to Bow Down Before Bush and Gets Booted from Clear Channel?

That's the contention of Geraldine Sealey at the Salon War Room. Apparently Stern had this to say about Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them:

Howard said over vacation he read Al Franken's book ''Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.'' He said that in the first page Franken insults him but he can get past that. He said if you read the book you'll never vote for George Bush. He said Franken had a bunch of Harvard kids investigate stuff and it's great. He went on to say that he's had bad feelings about Bush since the FCC stuff went down. He also said that the economy thing is also a factor in that. He said he might be a ''anyone but Bush'' guy now. He said that even Ralph Nader running is a good idea.

(synopsis provided by

Sealey also notes that in spite of Clear Channel execs' avowals to protect the virgin ears of its listeners from obscenity, that Clear Channel currently carries Mike Savage, whose show also tends to be obscenity-laced. The difference? Stern has a bit of a libertarian streak and is not a George W. Bush fan and Savage is a right-wing extremist, who prays to Dubya daily. Go figure.

Holy Cow! I Missed A Chomsky Editorial In The NYT

One of those events that occurs once in a blue moon:

A Wall as a Weapon

Some clips:

What this wall is really doing is taking Palestinian lands. It is also — as the Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling has described Israel's war of "politicide" against the Palestinians — helping turn Palestinian communities into dungeons, next to which the bantustans of South Africa look like symbols of freedom, sovereignty and self-determination.

...The wall has already claimed some of the most fertile lands of the West Bank. And, crucially, it extends Israel's control of critical water resources, which Israel and its settlers can appropriate as they choose, while the indigenous population often lacks water for drinking.

...It also seems likely that Israel will transfer to the occupied West Bank the 7,500 settlers it said this month it would remove from the Gaza Strip. These Israelis now enjoy ample land and fresh water, while one million Palestinians barely survive, their meager water supplies virtually unusable. Gaza is a cage, and as the city of Rafah in the south is systematically demolished, residents may be blocked from any contact with Egypt and blockaded from the sea.

It is misleading to call these Israeli policies. They are American-Israeli policies — made possible by unremitting United States military, economic and diplomatic support of Israel. This has been true since 1971 when, with American support, Israel rejected a full peace offer from Egypt, preferring expansion to security. In 1976, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a two-state settlement in accord with an overwhelming international consensus. The two-state proposal has the support of a majority of Americans today, and could be enacted immediately if Washington wanted to do so.

The whole editorial is worth reading.

Link thanks to American Leftist.