Friday, March 11, 2005

Academic Freedom Watch: One of the Most Sensible Things I've Read Regarding the Churchill Controversy

The Tenure of Roosting Chickens
That is, at its base, what academic freedom is all about. Professors speak the truth as they see it, and investigate each others' truths, and challenge and debate and encourage each other, and gradually we all figure out what's truly crazy, and what's visionary. After all, as soon as someone says something that sounds even vaguely crazy ("superstring theory!"), fifty people are jumping all over the idea to check it, so an idea that is truly nutty won't tend to have a long shelf life (though sometimes it will - see, for example, phrenology), and things that are truly visionary tend to get recognized eventually, although that can be a slow, plodding process. Sometimes, the debate itself will give rise to brilliant ideas, ideas that wouldn't have happened if someone hadn't started off by saying something that sounded crazy.

Progress in academia, in science and in the humanities, comes about through the kind of open, no-holds-barred debates made possible by academic freedom. Cut out parts of that freedom, and you don't know whether, down the road, you've cut off an interesting debate that could've led someone to remarkable ideas about how to end poverty, or improve literacy, or get Indian land back .

So you cannot be half-assed about academic freedom. Once you start regulating the content of professors' speech, once you start setting rules about which ideas are acceptable and which ones are off-limits, academic freedom is gone. You've lost the free discussion and debate that move us all, as a society, forward. We need academic freedom, and that freedom includes Churchill's ability to call anyone he wants "little Eichmanns," and it also includes anyone else's right to debate Churchill about whether that statement is correct or not.

Once you commit to academic freedom, you have to accept that you will see some ideas that just sound crazy to you, like Churchill's article sounded to many of its readers. It's all part of the process of moving knowledge forward. Because you'll also get ideas that are brilliant, and ideas that are visionary, out of that same process. And in order to get the visionary, you have to make your peace with what seems crazy to you - because it's part of the process too.

Props to Rorschach of No Capital for the link!

One Year Ago:

191 dead
1500 injured

from

Chile
Colombia
Cuba
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Ecuatorial Guinea
Honduras
Morocco
Peru
Poland
Romania
Spain

also

32 arrested, mostly Moroccans, also Saudis, Egyptians, Indians and Spaniards

police investigates over 50 dna profiles

"malditas sean las guerras y los canallas que las apoyan"

but, lest we loose perspective,

1+ million dead in central Africa
half a million southern Asia
thousands dieing daily from war, illness, hunger

and

Bali
NYC
Chechnia
Palestine
Israel
Iraq

and anywhere else where terrorism continues reaping human lives

no os olvidamos

Via a friend who shall remain anonymous.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Might as well face it, you're addicted to porn

Members of Congress apparently are more than happy to take campaign contributions from the very folks who profit from pornography. The list of names is rather entertaining, including Holy Joe Lieberman (who's well known for his diatribes against Hollywood's "immorality") along with several prominent Republicans including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) - the latter of whom is on my permanent shit list any way. These people are hypocrites for accepting donations from the very folks they claim in public to be fighting.

Here's an ad your government doesn't want you to see:

"Kickoff", a UN ad that's part of their Stop Landmines Campaign. The ad depicts a girl being basically blown to bits by a landmine right after her team scores a goal in a soccer game (along with another girl getting shrapnel in her leg).

Props to Ben at American Samizdat.

Jazz History Time

I don't quite know why, but as I was checking to see where my hits were coming from, I noticed that someone had linked to me through a google search for Griot Galaxy. Turns out I've got one of their albums in my collection (Kins - which by the way is an excellent recording of early 1980s underground jazz), and so I followed the link to that google search and started checking out some of those links. Honestly I knew very little about Griot Galaxy except that they were a Detroit area band that had some acclaim back in the day. An article in the Metro Times, Musician interrupted: The story of Griot Galaxy & a renaissance for Faruq Z. Bey certainly added considerably to my own edification. I invite you to read the story, and learn a bit about one of the guiding spirits of that combo and the historical and cultural context in which this band thrived. Faruq seems like he's quite an individual, with a great deal of baggage that he's had to overcome and who is still a creative force to be reckoned with. Just to give you a small taste:
Within a few years, Jesse Davis would have new names. He would become Malik Z. Bey then Faruq Z. Bey. His marriage would dissolve, as would two more during the ’70s. He’d become part of an artistic, spiritualist, pan-African political milieu; he’d eventually become a sort of poster boy for that set. He’d read his poetry to rapt listeners, pontificate on the meaning of life and culture, play in more bands and jams than anyone can be expected to keep track of. He’d impress a lot of folks as brilliant and charismatic; he’d attract talent like a magnet. He’d garner a rep as a ladies’ man. He’d live wildly, nearly die, watch much of what he’d worked for unravel, and slowly recover.

And roughly two decades after its demise, one of his bands, arguably the best jazz band to never make it out of Detroit, just may be on the verge of getting its due.

[...]

About a year ago, on a whim, he searched the Internet to see whether any of those rare copies of the Kins disc were being sold as collectibles. It was still the only full-length Griot record aside from the ’84 tour record, Opus Krampus, which had been released to rave reviews on the Sound Aspects label. DeCorte found bootleg Kins tapes being sold in Europe, but none of the rare vinyl. And DeCorte stumbled onto something much more important, references to a new record, 19 Moons on the Entropy Stereo label, by Faruq Z. Bey in collaboration with a group called the Northwoods Improvisers.

Through e-mail, DeCorte got in touch with Entropy’s Mike Khoury, one of those label owners who has carved out a niche on the far margins of the industry, where the music is fascinating and the market is small. Khoury has released material from some of the leading lights in improvisational music — including England’s Derek Bailey and Australia’s Jon Rose — and boosted the visibility of the Northwoods group, whose members were musical mentors during Khoury’s youth in Mt. Pleasant.

Shortly after that e-mail, Khoury and Faruq trekked to Toledo to listen to DeCorte’s tape cache. They zeroed in on a performance that captured the group in peak form. Faruq’s poetry is missing, but the nearly 90 minutes of music, recently released as Live at the D.I.A. 1983, include everything else that made the group distinctive. The music draws on the roots of jazz, on the sounds of the New York and Chicago-St. Louis avant-gardes — and offers something specific to Detroit in the ’80s.

[...]

“I feel I missed a lot when I listen to this music,” says Khoury, who moved to the Detroit area after Griot Galaxy had passed from gigdom to local-legend status. “I can’t believe the levels they reached. You hear people just going crazy in the audience. It was a special time for some special music.”

[...]

The time may be oddly ripe for this record and any hoopla it generates. The jazz avant-garde never had a commercial heyday, yet the interest endures. Sun Ra, for instance, is by some measures more popular — consider the number of records commercially available, a biography, a book-length discography, an Internet listserv — than when he was alive a decade ago. Faruq and, even more so, Griot as a whole, certainly have a link to all of that.

Several weeks ago, Faruq joined the Northwoods Improvisers at Xhedos Café in Ferndale to celebrate the release of the live Griot disc and Ashirai Pattern, their follow-up to 19 Moons. Their two sets captivated a standing-room-only crowd.

“Sun Ra-tastic!” a 21-year-old hooted after one tune, a cover of Sun Ra’s “Shadow World.” He would have been all of a year old when Faruq and Griot Galaxy recorded that same piece at the DIA.



You can learn more about about what Faruq Z. Bey has been up to by visiting the websites for Northwoods Improvisors, and the Entropy Stereo Catalog which has been releasing albums by Bey and the Northwoods Improvisors. As the article mentions, this cat has a couple other musical projects that keep him busy, and I'll have to explore this music further.

There's also an article on some of the obscure labels that support contemporary free jazz titled Music as Art / Music as Metaphysics over at Jazzreview.com. Dive in!

Et tu, Mr. Pitt?

For better or worse, I'm going to have to side with Eric Garris over at the Antiwar.com blog that William Rivers Pitt has fallen into the war party trap:
One of the most vocal opponents of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, William Rivers Pitt of Truthout, has fallen into the trap set by the War Party.

Pitt declares:

If we haul stakes and leave, we risk having the country collapse permanently into a Balkanized state of civil and religious war that will help to create a terrorist stronghold in the mold of Afghanistan post-1989.
This is the trap the War Party sets every time they invade a country. They create a quagmire, then argue that it will be a disaster if we leave.

During the Vietnam War, many in the Antiwar Movement argued against immediate, unconditional US withdrawal for exactly the same reason, that it would create chaos. Cries of "Negotiations Now" competed with the principled "Out Now" stance of committed antiwar activists.

But Pitt forgets this important point: the US has no right to control the future of the Iraqi people, at any time. His argument that we can't let Iraq become a balkanized or unstable government is identical to the neocons' current argument for staying in Iraq.

Pitt asks to hear feedback from his supporters on what to do to resolve his dilemma:
It truly is a perfect storm Bush and his friends have dropped us into, and there are no easy answers. "Leave now!" is the wrong answer, but so is "Stay!"
Please tell him.


Pitt talks a lot in his response to Garris about "responsibility." In one sense I agree that the US is largely responsible for the mess that's been created in Iraq and, let's face it, the surrounding region. However, accepting responsibility for this colossal fuck up does not mean committing indefinitely 150,000 plus troops, countless billions of dollars per year, and God knows how many lives lost until we somehow miraculously manage to come up with THE ANSWER. To me that's the height of American arrogance - on the contrary, I have every confidence in the Iraqi people to figure out how to run their society and to repair their nation without our "help." Being responsible means facing the fact that the US government has so badly messed things up for ordinary Iraqis that it has no credibility. The Iraqis didn't want this invasion to begin with. It was imposed upon them, and has caused little but misery ever since.

The US responsibility for the Iraq debacle should at this point include an end to occupation, a willingness to face and accept legal and financial consequences for war crimes (of which there have been plenty) committed during the occupation, and reparations for the considerable damage done to the Iraqi infrastructure. None of that would bring back the lives lost or the health of those who've been maimed or in many cases the livelihoods that have been lost permanently. But it would be the right thing to do, and would make it far less likely that Iraq would be a breeding ground for terrorists. Continued occupation, regardless of intentions, will only put more logs on the fire of resentment - and that, my friends, is what will breed the terrorists and their supporters.

Of course it's no surprise

that the bankruptcy bill passed the Senate. That it did so overwhelmingly is discouraging. There is a good reason why I am not a partisan Democrat, and why I consider myself a liberal independent who sometimes registers as a Democrat. Simply stated, too many of the Democrats elected to office sell out their constituents - they vote in the interests of large corporations and often at the expense of those of us who are just struggling to get by. On some levels I think that some of the Dem leadership at leasts understands that they can't continue to sell us out and maintain any semblance of power. At this point, the party needs to stand for something and to take those stands consistently. Right now that isn't quite happening. I won't write them off just yet, but as I have throughout most of my adult life, I will keep my eyes and ears open to a serious third party alternative.

Bankruptcy Bill: Maybe More Universally Hated Than I Thought?

Turns out that a number of conservatives aren't so wild about the pending bankruptcy legislation (see here and here for summaries). Politology has got the goods regarding a the bipartisan opposition to this awful bill. Just to give you an idea, here are some of the conservative bloggers who have stated their opposition (and I never thought in a million years that we'd find any common ground - better that we can under bad circumstances than none at all):

Instapundit

Just One Minute

Redstate and Tacitus

Also, there is some opposition among the freepers

As I understand it, the bill is expected to sail through the US Senate. I went ahead and called my Senators' offices (and since both are to the right of Atilla the Hun I have low expectations), figuring it may be an exercise in futility, but that I could certainly use the exercise and their staff need to know that there are constituents out there who think this bill is a turkey. I'm not so sure what the timeline is for the House of Representatives, but I'll no doubt be leaving phone messages, a letter, and email to the congresscritter in my district as well - and reminding that individual that it's not only the liberals who think the bill stinks but also people who consider themselves conservatives. It may or may not do much good, given that the conventional wisdom is that the bill will sail through the House. However, I've found conventional wisdom to be wrong before, so it's worth a shot.

"A picture is worth ten thousand words." - Confucius

Potpourri

Just a semi-random assortment of links and bookmarks that I've stumbled across for your edutainment:

U.S. Bombing Watch: Archive of U.S. Bombings, Invasions and Occupations of Iraq

Today in Radical History

Guide to Classical Indial/Jazz Fusion

Zen

The End of the Internet (an appropriate way to end this post!)

Something that caught my eye

in large part because it referenced some excellent jazz music: Weapons of Mass Deconstruction: The Revolutionary Potential of Art by Mickey Z. Some excerpts:
Kusturica needn't have limited his comments to Hollywood. Sitting here in the age of Celine Dion and "American Idol," we might want to remember "Strange Fruit," which began as a poem...written in the 1930s by a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx by the name of Abel Meeropol, after viewing a photograph of a lynching. Under the pseudonym "Lewis Allan," Meeropol set the poem to music and saw it first performed at a teachers' union meeting. When Barney Josephson the manager of Cafe Society, a popular, desegregated Greenwich Village nightclub, heard "Strange Fruit," he arranged a meeting between Billie Holiday and Meeropol. After some initial hesitation, Lady Day wanted to record the song but her record label refused. Her persistence landed the song on a specialty label and Holiday began performing it regularly in live shows in 1939. Her passionate interpretation of "Strange Fruit" introduced white audiences to powerful images of racism, inequality, and hate crimes...images that were now impossible to ignore.

Not long after Holiday introduced "Strange Fruit," the Kansas city-born Charlie "Bird" Parker (1920-1955) ushered in a music revolution in mid-1940s New York City. Labeled "bebop," Bird's style built on earlier innovations by players like Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Armed with revolutionary musical vocabulary and style, Parker teamed with jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke, and Miles Davis...making Harlem the jazz capital of the world and changing music forever.

One could describe Parker's sound as fast...for certain. One could explain that bebop introduced rhythmically asymmetrical improvisations and a new tonal vocabulary. One could also talk about the use of "9ths, 11ths and 13ths of chords" or "rapidly implied passing chords" or perhaps "new variants of altered chords and chord substitutions."

For the intuitive Bird, however, it was "just music." He said all was doing was "playing clean and looking for the pretty notes."

[...]

Such freedom is not only revolutionary, it's threatening to some. That McCarthyism appeared shortly after the above-mentioned artistic breakthroughs is no coincidence. That box-office-ism is rampant today is, in no small part, a reactionary response to the artistic revolutions spawned in the 1960s and 1970s...from New Wave cinema to Pop Art to rock and roll and punk.

Days of Defiance

While America awaits with baited breath for Junior Caligula's latest statement in pseudo-military apparel (rumor has it that the faux Mao look is hot this spring), and the American mass media chatters about how Junior's spread "democracy" in the Middle East much like his brother Neil probably spreads herpes, life goes on in the rest of the planet. And oh, what a life it is.

First up is Hugo Chavez, who says of Venezuela's oil reserve, does not belong to Mr. Bush. The oil belongs to the Venezuelan people." Some other choice quotes:
"We are just waiting for the United States to announce next that Venezuela has weapons of mass destruction."

"They went to Iraq thinking they will control Iraq's oil reserves ... but I doubt very much they will ever control that country."

"We want to supply oil to the United States... (But) if there is any aggression, there will be no oil."

In other words, if the Bu$hCo attacks Venezuela, it's "no oil for you!"

I still love this: Half a Million Gather for Pro-Syrian Rally to Defy Vision of U.S. That "cedar revolution" may not be quite what the Bushies had in mind.

The violence continues unabated in Iraq.

And within our own borders, Ward Churchill gives the third finger to those who've mischaracterized his writings (note that Kurt Nimmo also has some useful commentary on Churchill's editorial):
I document the systemic violence perpetrated by the U.S. government in the hope that Americans will take this responsibility to heart and use political means to change government policy. I would vastly prefer that this happen through nonviolent means. However, I cannot say that nonviolence is the only legitimate response to systemic violence.

The principle of self-defense is not mysterious: When one is subjected to aggression, it is the perpetrator, not the victim, who dictates the terms of engagement.

Although I am plainly no pacifist, I have never advocated terrorist attacks on Wall Street, downtown Seattle, or anywhere else. To make it appear otherwise, Caplis and Silverman have taken material out of context and turned it on its head. My comments in this regard, made to a small group of young anarchists gathered in a Seattle bookstore, went to the idea that they would not accomplish anything useful by marginalizing themselves and engaging in random acts of sabotage along the social periphery.

Drawing upon German theorist Rudi Dutschke's concept of "a long march through the institutions," I therefore proposed the alternative that they attempt to work from within the institutional setting, as I myself have done. The "weapons" I referred to were young people's own consciousness and capacity to transmit it. Along the way, I also pointed out that as relatively privileged Euro-Americans, they were ideally situated to undertake such a project.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Xymphora weighs in on the shooting of an Italian journalist


Had everything gone as planned, an American sniper would have assassinated Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena with one shot, following the sniper's code of 'one shot, one kill'. The only independent witness to what happened would then be dead, as both her guardian, the heroic Nicola Calipari, the driver of the car, and the other two passengers were Italian secret service agents, thus worked for Berlusconi, and would be unable to say anything (on other accounts, the driver may have been an Iraqi, but he could easily be disposed of). The Americans obviously could have killed everyone in the car by simply blowing it up, but it would then have been impossible to claim that this was just another mistake made by a panicking speeding driver at a checkpoint. By firing lots of rounds, but with only one shot killing anybody, it is clear that either the Americans are terrible shots, or all the flying ammo was simply a ruse to hide the only shot that mattered, the one that would kill the person with the information on what happened in the chemical warfare attacks on Falluja. All the Americans, except for the sniper, were shooting to miss. The sniper had her lined up, only to be foiled by the heroic sacrifice of Nicola Calipari. Ironic that the neocons are stymied by a combination of altruism and duty, things they cannot possibly comprehend.

All the American accounts I've read about this incident, including by those on the left, conclude that the Pentagon would never do such a thing as engage in this kind of assassination. This strikes me as being remarkable naive, but I guess you can believe what you want. The only independent witness who is speaking is Sgrena herself, and she is claiming that the basis for the Pentagon account is a lie. The Italians were not speeding, there was no checkpoint, there was no warning given, and the Americans almost certainly knew who was in the car. Rather than help the wounded obtain help, the Americans delayed and cut off cellphone communication. It's a clear choice: either she is lying, or the Pentagon officials are lying, and she has no motive to lie while they do.

Sgrena had been kidnapped by another one of these mysterious groups that seems to like to target those people who support their cause (kidnapping foreign pacifists just benefits the Americans, so you really have to wonder about many of these incidents). It appears this was a kidnapping for money, with the kidnappers taking the highest amount offered. Before they let her go, they warned her that the Americans wanted to see her dead ("the Americans don't want you to go back"). How would they know that? Presumably because the Americans offered them so many dollars to have her returned dead. Fortunately for her, the Italians offered more to have her returned alive.

It is illegal and immoral to use incendiaries on civilians, and there is increasing anecdotal evidence that the Pentagon did just that in the assault on Falluja. It starts to get a little tiresome to hear the same quibbling about what the Pentagon would or wouldn't do, given cluster bombs, DU, 'shock and awe' bombing of civilians, and the general attack on Falluja itself. The human rights standards of the Pentagon - and thus of the United States - are so incredibly low that it is impossible to give them the benefit of the doubt on anything. It is also odd that the Pentagon has clearly been blocking access of journalists to interview civilians in Falluja - the reason Sgrena was so important is that she is one of the first to be able to do so - and that there are claims that American soldiers have been taking steps to 'sanitize' the city by removing evidence. We also know that after an initial outraged lie denying Pentagon use of napalm in the attack on Iraq, Pentagon officials eventually admitted that they did use a napalm-like substance, but it was not technically 'napalm' so their lies were not technically lies. You really can't believe anything they say. Let's face it: the Pentagon was 'going medieval' on Falluja, both as a punishment for its failure to kowtow to Empire and as a warning to others, and they were attacking Falluja without restraints. Napalm or other incendiaries [sic] would have fit right in. So would killing anyone who might be 'unembedded' long enough to discover the truth.

Link

Certainly, the circumstances do seem suspect. I'm having a difficult time buying the US gov's line regarding the shooting, given our government's track record and am at this point more prone to believe Sgrena's account. It would "feel good" I guess to believe that my government and military would be well-intentioned and would not engage in activities such as assassination attempts on journalists or committing war crimes such as napalming Iraqi communities. It would "feel good" but there's this nagging feeling in my gut that it wouldn't be true. Best to take the blinders off and try to figure out what's going on for real.

So what'll it be y'all?

Happy talk...or tha straight shizznit? The first one "feels good" if you've bought the myth, I suppose, but the the second one contains some truth and as we all know "the truth shall set you free."

Speaking of truth, thanks to The Sideshow, we lefty cats are right in the center. Dig that. We are the center. Those others, including self-styled "moderates" can no long hide their heads in their asses and expect to see the light.

I'm sure if I were to start on some scatalogical Allegory of the Cave we'd groove on a simple truth - the light of truth cannot be seen from the vantage point of the inside of the rectum. You'll see a lot of shit, but it won't be truth. Of course, as I'm sure Socrates would agree, communicating the light of truth to those whose heads are firmly entrenched in their rectums is one difficult mothafucka.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Slipping beneath the radar

Thanks to Avedon Carol's excellent blog The Sideshow, I got turned onto this little gem: The not-so-well-known opposition to the war in Iraq which links to a recent NYT article on Black churches and their varying political leanings had this to say in passing:
"The leaders of four black Baptist conventions representing 15 million parishioners met in January to fashion their first united stand in almost a century on social and economic issues and to bury past differences. At the end of their four-day session, the ministers called for an end to the war in Iraq and withdrawal of American troops."

Not the stuff that headlines and ratings are made of it appears. Of course there's more there's more, and Eli dug it up:
"The statement...said the war was 'a costly and unnecessary military action begun on grossly inaccurate, misconstrued or distorted intelligence against a nation that did not pose an immediate or realistic threat to the national security of our nation.'"

Those four Black Baptist conventions represent somewhere in the neighborhood of 5% of the American population. That's a fairly large group to ignore. Leave it to our so-called "liberal" media to ignore it.

The continuing saga of Gannon/Guckertgate

Given how rabidly homophobic the right-wingers who occupy the White House (as well as who populate the GOP) are, this has stench of eau de hypocrisy. Let's take a peek, shall we?

CONFIRMED: Jeff Gannon was an adult porn webmaster. While Guckert's colleagues were saying the following:
April Shenandoah...We are allowing the devil to vomit all over our children, and we elect political officials who gladly swim in the same puke. We should be doing everything humanly and spiritually possible to drown pornography in its own vomit... link

Christopher G. Adamo......only a few feet away inside the library, pedophiles and pornography addicts are enabled to indulge in their cravings for indescribable perversity over the Internet...link

Jimmy Moore...The unashamed and in-your-face activists involved in the gay agenda, the millions of people, including children as young as 12, having sex outside the sanctity of marriage, multitudes of married men and women who are actively engaged in adultery, the spread of pornography, especially on the Internet and many other forms of sexual perversion have sent our country on a one-way ticket to destruction....link

And Gannon/Guckert was writing about "rape rooms" in Iraq in the run-up to the war:
Jeff himself wrote,
in an article about "rape rooms" in Iraq, "An adjacent room is where the rapist will prepare himself by viewing pornography...."

The guy was a bona-fide gay porn webmaster. The link to the story above will give you the nitty gritty. Why important? The issue for those who are investigating Gannon/Guckert is not that he is a pornographer, but the hypocritical spectacle of a person who claims to represent the anti-pornography, anti-gay Moral Values "conservatives" being a webmaster who trades in gay pornography.

A similar point is made here: Gannongate: This Administration Really Does Have a Man-Date:
Well, last time I checked, prostitution is illegal, pimping is doubly-illegal, and johns go to jail. The fact that this is all happening in the White House is triply concerning. Sure, it happens all the time all over America, but it's illegal. And just as Clinton's perjury should be held to the same level of accountability (if not higher) as anyone else's perjury, illegal activity going on in the White House should be investigated and people should be held accountable.

Additionally, it's in the public interest to expose who in the administration is a political hypocrite - who generally denounces homosexuality and supports administration policies regarding homosexuality, while engaging in such behavior himself - because it relates to public policy. For people on the Right, it's of tantamount importance - they are probably feeling betrayed right now given that they supported Bush on the understanding that he would push for a ban on gay marriage. They already blew a gasket in early January when Bush said in an interview that the gay marriage ban thing wasn't really high on his agenda and implied that it won't ever get done. Apparently the White House's phone lines started lighting up like a Christmas tree as furious social conservatives called in, foaming at the mouth, demanding to know whether or not Bush had hoodwinked them. At this point, the picture is starting to come together for social conservatives and before long they will realize that if they want to salvage any of their social agenda they will have to ferret out the those members of the administration who are undermining the administration's commitment to act on its campaign promises.

For people on the Left, especially homosexuals, this situation provides a moment in which they can finally expose the hypocrisy of certain members of the administration. Yes, they take a perverse joy in the ironic turn of events, but at the heart of it the goal is the same: ferret out the political hypocrites that reside in the White House. While it was the Left who initiated the investigation and scandal, it will be the Right who takes it to completion. The Right will soon understand that to salvage any of its social agenda, and to stave off countless gay brothel jokes that are bound to follow, it will need to "clean house". That includes looking in all the closets. That's why this story will be around for a while - as long as both sides have a reason to keep it alive and see it through to the end, it will not go away.

Human Rights Watch: It Never Ends

A couple items for your consideration:

Video Shows U.S. Soldiers in 'Ramadi Madness' Abuse
U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq filmed themselves kicking a gravely wounded prisoner in the face and making the arm of a corpse appear to wave, then titled the effort "Ramadi Madness" after the city where it was made.

The video, made public on Monday, was shot by Florida National Guard soldiers. They edited and compiled it into a DVD in January 2004, with various sections bearing titles such as "Those Crafty Little Bastards" and "Another Day, Another Mission, Another Scumbag."

The soldiers' unit served in the restive Sunni Muslim city Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad, before returning home a year ago.

The video's existence had been revealed in Army documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Pentagon did not release the video, saying it believed it had been destroyed. But a Florida newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, obtained it and posted some of it on its Web site on Monday.

The ACLU has obtained thousands of pages of documents from the Pentagon and said they show an pattern of widespread abuses of detainees by military forces in Iraq. Digital pictures that were disclosed last year of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison drew international condemnation.

Also, an opinion piece by Brian Cloughey, wisting the Minds of the American People: More War Crimes
Let me paint a word picture. An unarmed, wounded American soldier is lying helpless, bleeding and barely conscious on the floor of a church in a country with which the US is at war. An armed soldier of that country walks up to the wounded American. It so happens that a TV cameraman is present. He films the foreign soldier shouting, "He's fucking faking he's dead!" One of his comrades says "And he's breathing". The first soldier again yells "He's faking he's fucking dead!" He then kills the helpless, wounded man with a burst of fire that blows his head off and spatters the room with blood and tiny bits of flesh and bone. One of the foreign soldiers says "He's dead, now."

Question One: What do you think the reaction of most of the American people would be to the murder of a wounded, unarmed US soldier lying helpless and barely conscious on the floor of a church in a foreign land?

Question Two: What was the reaction of most of the American people to the murder of a wounded, unarmed Iraqi lying helpless and barely conscious on the floor of a mosque in his own country?

***

First Answer: Shrieking outrage and demands for the foreigner to be tried and executed, whichever came first.

Second Answer: Unconcern.

[...]

Iraqi lives do not matter. Just as in Hitler's Germany the Nazis referred to various sections of the population (Jews, gypsies and other 'antisocial elements') as the "untermenschen" -- the sub-humans -- so do US troops and the crazed bigots who bay for blood refer to Iraqis as "ragheads" -- the sub-humans. The Nazi regime was founded and fostered by people who thought along the lines of "Too bad the US troops didn't shoot her in the head and been done with trouble making people like her . . .". If people are trouble-makers, well, don't try to live with them ; don't try to understand them ; don't try to treat them as human beings: just shoot them. Or torture them. Or both. What the hell? The reasoning is that they are different to the superior people and therefore they should not be allowed to exist.

The attitude of millions of Americans is exactly that of the German supporters of fascism in the 1930s and early 1940s. They were encouraged to think of themselves as the Master Race and there were whole nations whose populations could be treated as inferiors, and they took pride in doing just that. The present wave of hysterical intolerance in the US makes the McCarthy years of persecution look benign, because the idea has been planted by Bush and his people that US citizens are superior in every possible way. There can be no admission of frailty, and no acceptance of equality. International law and treaties are ignored or treated with contempt, and human dignity has become irrelevant. Hysterical ultra-nationalism is thriving and gathering pace.

The director of the slippery slope to totalitarianism has beckoned his citizens, and they are responding with enthusiasm to his encouragement. War crimes are being committed by US troops and spooks on an extraordinary scale all round the world, but the biggest war crime is taking place in Washington: it is the twisting of the minds of the American people.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Why is the bankruptcy bill bad?

This is why the bill is bad. Will be interesting to see if the Dems at least have the gumption to fillibuster this bad piece of legislation.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Human Rights Watch: This is Too Good to Pass Up

Human Rights Record of the United States of America in 2004. This was China's response to the US's own critique of China's human rights record. File under schadenfreude.

Also we learn that the US is developing a new weapon that can cause excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away.

Another thing to keep in mind: without the old Soviet Union to kick around any more, the US right-wingnuts have had to come up with a new monolithic faceless enemy, Islamism. As it turns out, Islamism (aka Islamic activism) is rather diverse, and very few strands are advocates of violence. Of course we wouldn't want to confuse our right-wingers with the facts, eh?

Props to TOTEOTA.

At least someone's still on the Gannon/Guckert story

John Aravosis of AmericaBlog has a column printed in the LAT and a diarist at DailyKos has a roundup of RWCM coverage. Of course the site Propagannon is still on the story.

Curioser and curiouser

The attack on Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and her rescuers by US forces in Iraq is getting more and more suspicious all the time. As noted yesterday, this incident has created a stir outside of the US. Today, via David Neiwert we have a clearer picture of what might have gone down (see also Aljazeera for more coverage):
“The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming,” Pier Scolari [Sgrena’s companion] said on leaving Rome’s Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home. “They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints… Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive,” he added.

That contradicts the official line the US government is giving us, which contends that her car was speeding as it approached a checkpoint. Typically, we think of rescuing hostages from Iraqi insurgents as good news, right? Assuming the accounts in the foreign press are correct, and I have more reason to trust their accounts than our own press these days, what was the motivation? Neiwert offers one possible (and actually plausible) explanation:
In addition to the shrapnel in her shoulder, Sermonti told Air America Radio that Sgrena also sustained an injury to her lung.

According to Scolari, says Sermonti, Giuliana had been warned by her captives that "the Americans didn't want her to get out of Iraq."

At the time of her abduction, Giuliana was heading to an area of Baghdad where witnesses from Fallujah are staying to interview Fallujah refugees about the US assault on their city last year. Says Sermonti:

"She had some information about the use of illegal weapons by US forces in Fallujah that was very sensitive. A very hot topic. There were rumors of some use of chemicals and a number of weapons that are not legal -- like [napalm] and phosphorus."

The use of napalm and phosphorous is something that we've tried to point out before, by noting stories by journalist Dahr Jamail. Friendly fire indeed.

Nothing like hypocrisy!

US Bars Nicaragua Heroine as 'Terrorist'. Apparently, Dora Maria Tellez, one of the Sandinista revolutionaries instrumental in the overthrow of the right-wing Somoza government in Nicaragua has been denied entry to the US where she was to begin her position as a visiting prof because she's a "terrorist." As the Democratic Left Infoasis comments:
Meanwhile, the Haitian death-squadist and terrorist Emmanuel “Toto” Constant has openly lived in New York for almost 10 years, Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch is living it up in Miami, John Negroponte is "Intelligence Chief" and the US is involved in an illegal occupation that has taken the lives of, perhaps, 100,000 innocent people. How long do I have to endure this charade?

Recently spotted at Okie Funk

Is A Casady School Elitist Trying To Close Schools In Towns Like Kellyville, Oklahoma? One thing we learn in the post is that the author of the legislation that would put rural public school districts at risk, Odilia Dank, is herself a product of an elite OKC private school - one of those academies reserved for the offspring of the richest of the rich. Big surprise, eh? About what I would expect of spoiled rich brats after they "grow up." Funny thing is the current speaker of the OK House of Reps is himself from a small town that would be directly affected by the for-now-withdrawn legislation, apparently too blinded by ideological considerations to care about the consequences to his community. Somehow I would expect that our district's state rep would support this noxious legislation (or some variant of it) without so much as blinking. I could be wrong, but somehow I doubt it. Some graphs from the post:
Oklahoma voters are getting duped in this disastrous conservative juggernaut that has seized the state and held it hostage to an ideology that is slowly but surely destroying our small towns.

I have traveled far and wide in the state, and I know people from small towns in Oklahoma do not want some Casady-educated, Oklahoma City elitist telling them they cannot have a high school in their community. But the problem here is that these same people continue to vote against their own interests.

When you elect politicians who are wedded to a conservative ideology that wants to shut down rural America, then you ultimately pay the price. This is what is happening all across red-state America under the George Bush administration and especially during the president's second-term.

This is plain common sense. Progressives have always supported strong public schools and strong family farms in Oklahoma, and they will continue to do so. Republicans only support the wealthy elite in this state and nation.

So, under a possible Republican plan, maybe Kellyville's schools will be closed, and then that extra savings can be passed on in the form of tax cuts to those super wealthy people in Oklahoma City who can afford to send their kids to Casady.

It just does not get clearer than that, folks.

Ever fantasize about being in a Dickens novel?

Thanks to Cookie Jill over at Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, we're reminded that you need fantasize no longer. Republican Jesus would be pleased.

Earth to Bu$hCo: WTF is wrong with you people?!?

Well, that seems to be the reaction to yesterday's news of the US troops shooting a recently rescued Italian hostage and the shooting death of one of her rescuers. Clearly, the Italians are unhappy about the incident, and no doubt there's some egg on the face of Italy's PM.

And in the "It would be funny if it weren't so sad" department, US state department slams Iraqi government's human rights record. Huh. That's right, the same government that has been systematically torturing prisoners from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has the audacity to criticize its own client state for doing the same thing. There's more manure produced by the White House than you'd find in a Texas cattle feedlot.

Some weekend poetry blogging

universal thoughts

everyone marching

to
the
sound

of
a
different

drummer


(note: inspired by an Albert Ayler tune, "Universal Thoughts" - also note that the poem doesn't quite appear as it would in print, due to quirks in blogger's formatting)