I have a hard time imagining Bu$hCo going quietly into that good night in the wake of the indictments that may very well come to pass. This bunch has worked too long to get control of all branches of the government, along with the so-called "Fourth Estate" (i.e. mass media), and having tasted power they are like a pack of hyenas after having tasted the blood of their prey. Let's just say that resignations will have to be imposed on them: the question being by whom?
I've been reading bloggers who are already writing a post-mortem on Bush and even conservatism. Sheesh. Right-wingers control the House, the Senate, the White House, the Courts, the FBI, the CIA and the military. Bush can pardon anyone he wants to. Federalist Society judges can block anything they want to. The rest of the government can refuse to investigate Republicans if they want to.
Serving to remind us all of these facts, this happened YESTERDAY:Congress OKs Gun Industry Lawsuit Shield,Congress gave the gun lobby its top legislative priority Thursday, passing a bill protecting the firearms industry from massive crime-victim lawsuits.Nothing has changed. In fact, indictments and bad news could force the Right to play its hand, and free itself from the few remaining burdensome restrictions of operating as if we were still a democracy. These are not people who like to allow mere technicalities like that to get in their way. Up to now the appearance of democracy has been convenient. But perhaps it is becoming inconvenient. And there are trillions of dollars and decades in prison at stake.
President Bush said he will sign it. [. . .] Under the measure, a half-dozen pending lawsuits by local governments against the industry would be dismissed. Anti-gun groups say some lawsuits filed by individuals could be thrown out, too.
The Senate passed the bill in July. ... The bill's passage was the NRA's top legislative priority and would give Bush and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill a rare victory at a time when some top GOP leaders are under indictment or investigation.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
The burning and desecration of Taliban bodies as a technique of intimidation in Afghanistan by US troops has backfired big time. Afghanistan clergymen are hopping mad at the US, and opposition to continued US troop presence in Afghanistan is growing.
Just when you hoped that US helicopters helping evacuate earthquake victims from Muzaffarabad might make some friends for the US in that part of the world, something like this emerges.
As at Abu Ghraib, the basic problem is that the US wants to cow and intimidate the Muslim or nationalist forces threatening it and its Muslim allies. But the techniques chosen to accomplish this goal are repugnant to all Muslims, and cut down on the number of allies.
Read the rest of Juan Cole's piece here.
The above graphic was originally made by 911Blimp.net.
Hardball is now reporting that Fitz has received a copy of the fake Niger document. A copy above shows why it is such a laughable forgery.
Here is a PDF of the entire doc: http://cryptome.org/niger-docs.pdf
Here is a link to more info: http://cryptome.org/niger-docs.htm
When you know all the facts of how Stephen Hadley put those words in there "by mistake", even after it was asked to be removed by the CIA--you will see it makes the 16 words a deliberate lie to Congress.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey led 40 Democrats in asking Fitz to expand his investigation to the Niger forgeries, sending a letter that outlined the crime of lying to Congress and the statutes that were broken by George W. Bush. By law, the GJ is required to hear any such request--especially one signed by 40 members of Congress.
If this is true Harwood of the WSJ said it would be an "earthquake" in Washington.
The INR (State Department Intelligence Agency) analyst that looked at this document wrote an email stating:
"You'll note that it bears a funky Emb. of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess)."
I suspect the American people will warm to the concept of impeachment when they get a look at this document.
Friday, October 21, 2005
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's lack of planning, not the failures of state and local officials, was to blame for much of what went wrong with the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told members of Congress today.
The sheer scope of the damage inflicted by Katrina overwhelmed FEMA and exposed underlying flaws in the structure and management of the agency, Chertoff said. The agency's problems stemmed from a failure to restructure and modernize itself, not from a lack of funding, he said.
The assessment contrasted sharply with testimony offered earlier by former FEMA Director Michael Brown. Brown had blamed the "dysfunction" of Louisiana state and local officials for the problems that hobbled the relief effort.
"From my own experience, I don't endorse those views," Chertoff said.
-- Los Angeles Times, Oct. 19
Now can compare the above admission with the Bush Administration's spin effort from last month:
Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers [Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett], the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina
In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove’s tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats.
“The way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials,” Mr. Chertoff said in his (Meet the Press) interview. “The federal government comes in and supports those officials.”
That line of argument was echoed throughout the day, in harsher language, by Republicans reflecting the White House line.
-- New York Times, Sept. 5
Kudos to David Marks for the contrasting statements on the response or lack thereof to the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Katrina. The wingnuts, so blinded by their allegiance to Junior Caligula, couldn't bear to entertain the probability that Bu$hCo appointees could be the problem - and instead passed the buck to the states and localities.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Boy, that would be nice, given the expected hikes in heating costs. Here's the blurb via The Weather Observer blog:
NOAA is predicting above average temperatures for January, February and March, but the precipitation chance is about average or a little above.NOAA does not expect La Niña and El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to play a role in this winter’s forecast. The 2005 - 2006 season calls for warmer-than-normal temperatures across much of the central and western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. The Midwest, the Southern Californian coast and the East Coast have equal chances of warmer, cooler or near-normal temperatures this winter.We've had a pretty warm early fall so far. Let's just say I'm still wearing my Birkenstocks to work almost daily, which is a bit unheard of at this late date. Not that I'm complaining, of course.
US troops burn dead Taliban and taunt opponents:
US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.At this point, I'm no longer shocked by such news. Disappointed, yes. Shocked, no.
An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.
It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.
According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said.
"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."
The burning of a body is a deep insult to Muslims. Islam requires burial within 24 hours.
Under the Geneva conventions the burial of war dead "should be honourable, and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged".
I've been telling my son (and will be saying the same to my daughters when the time comes) that he's going to need to keep his grades up and more importantly get a hold of a scholarship in order to get through a four-year degree. The days when folks like me could go to state colleges and universities relatively inexpensively are looking more and more like a distant memory, which is too bad, as that education has been the road to a middle class existence for a large number of Americans who would have otherwise been relegated to grinding poverty. But hey, if you can't get into college, I suppose there's always one of those McJobs - assuming those haven't been outsourced - or Uncle Sam is always looking for more bullet stoppers for whatever war the White House has concocted.
Here's the short version of what has happened in the last few decades. States have continually decreased their funding for their own universities. Instead, they have passed the increase onto students who have to take out larger loans to pay for education. The result is more graduates are now leaving college either before graduation before they graduate because of the financial burden, or more people are graduating with a larger debt load, thus preventing them from moving up the socio-economic scale. Here's the result of this policy:
Within the lowest socioeconomic sample, 75% of the high-scoring eighth-graders eventually enrolled in college, but 29% had earned college degrees eight years after high school graduation. Ninety-nine percent of high-scoring eighth-graders within the highest socioeconomic sample attended college, with 74% earning degrees. High scorers in the middle two socioeconomic groups entered college at a 91% rate, with 47% earning degrees.If you're rich, you have a better chance of graduating. The land of opportunity in action.
US politics is business. It is not the sport of those who will find it difficult to make doubled credit card payments because you maxxed your card out in the first place due to insufficient income.I feel better already. The future's so bright I gotta wear shades. So it goes.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans are about opposing wars, or war crimes, or European-style social safety nets or a thriving middle class.
There is a reason for that. Those things are less profitable for business. And business is about profit. Politicians are there to serve the corporations, they are not there to serve single mothers who can't afford medical treatment.
Some people have expectations of the Democrats that are not reality based. The Democratic party's purpose is not to oppose US policies, but to suggest more cost-effective ways of implementing them, and present them in more palatable terms.
No Democrat is going to come out and be Hugo Chavez del Norte and feed the hungry and house the homeless. It would not be pragmatic. Nor is any Democrat going to oppose profitable "military operations" undertaken by the US to secure its natural resources located in its various properties around the globe. That would not be pragmatic either.
If something like that happened, the individual would be summarily run out of town on a rail, his (or her) political career would be over, and his friends would be thanking God that he got off so easy. He could have had a tragic accident.
Nor is it realistic to suppose that some third party Saladdin is going to come charging up on a white horse and save America. Third parties, are, for all practical purposes, not allowed in the US.
I am not a big fan of Ralph Nader, but when he characterized the Democrats and the Republicans as two branches of the corporate party, he was right.
This is just reality. Another reality is that this is neither a road toward a legitimate democratic government, nor sustainable.
Whether you think it is right or wrong is not relevant. It is just another question of pragmatics.
Yes, there are consequences. The world does have its own security to protect, which it will do, regardless of whether the "exceptionalists" think it has a right to or not.
And you don't have to go far to see the consequences of not having a middle class. There are countries very near the US where gunmen armed with automatic rifles stand guard over the humblest little grocery store, where houses are surrounded by walls and gates, and tiny children hover in the parking lot of Burger King, peering through the windows, asking for the rest of your fries. Until the guard sees them. One's status is determined by whether the guards are shooting at the children who ask for your fries, or whether they are shooting at you.
But frankly, if you are going to have trouble paying for private security guards without dipping into your child's college money, you are not going to be able to pay those guards for very long, and so US politics is not going to be your game for very long.
Now if you are the type who says, oh but I hear the Democrats have a terrific plan to send everybody to college, so I will be able to pay the security guards for maybe two or three years, then for two or three years, you just might be able to help out in the phone bank. Or handing out flyers. And when you need that operation you can't afford, you can count on the Democrats to wish you all the best, and you can be sure that they will do it much more graciously than the Republicans will.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
In other words, "Earth to 'new school' kiddies: the revolution will not be blogged or available for download as an mp3 file for your Ipod." For the record, prior to 1991, it is rumored that we even had electricity and running water, and benefitted from the written words of countless wise and not-so-wise individuals via books and newspapers. We also did rather quaint things like attend protests and vigils, as well as staffed phone banks and walked precincts - back in those primitive days face-to-face contact was considered a cornerstone of progressive activism. More:Dear Reader, let me introduce you to my little friend. No, not that little friend! This is Straw Man. He also goes by the name “Old School Activist”. He “harkens” [bwahahahaha!] back to the 60’s and 70’s, when he damaged his mind with Reefer Madness and lots of acid. His ideas are ideologically pure, but have no application in the world beyond his herbal tea cup, and could never make any difference at the policy level.
He has the unique characteristic of being completely two-dimensional, because he’s a cardboard cutout. He was educated in an economy that did not yet value “proactiveness” (because bullshit pseudo-words like “proactiveness” would not be invented until the 1980’s), so he earns his keep in his commune by spinning macramé plant-hangers out of his own armpit-hair. Some Moonie told him to do this circa 1967, and he just kept on doing it, because he lacks self-initiative can only knows how to do what he’s told (and if you’re thinking “Hey, what’s ‘self-initiative’? Isn’t initiative naturally attributed to the subject taking it?’, then you probably live with Straw Man in his stinking Hippie commune and should just shut your commie piehole). Even more sadly, he has failed to keep pace changing tastes in plant-hanging technology and the declining macrame market because he also lacks the ability to solve problems. What’s that you say? You learned in school that problem-solving is a distinctive characteristic of the species homo sapiens, and to a lesser degree, the other higher primates? You must have gone to one of those shitty public schools.If you’d had a voucher, you’d know that problem-solving was invented in 1991, right before the invention of “inconcievable” tools that allowed New School Activist to instantaneously know everything about anything at all times and in any place, causing him to evolve beyond crude flesh to become a being of pure light and energy. This blinding overbeing is composed of pure thought, and has no need for your pitiful “leaders” or “media” to tell him what’s “right”. Nor has he any need for your primitive “spelling”. His consciousness transverses the universe at the speed of thought, for he has uploaded himself to t3h 1nt3rn3tz!!1!
Poor, poor Old School Activist. See how shabby and shoddy (and frankly a little thick around the middle) he looks next to svelte, shiny New School Activist’s carbon-composite cyberbody. Oh wait. Where is New School Activist? Since no major social policy change has been driven by activism since the 1960’s, no one is really sure. Maybe he’s off raking in the cash at some tech company, but you can be pretty darn sure he still knows everything about everything, all the time!! And one of these days, he just might decide to do something! You never can tell with these crazy kids today.In all seriousness (or in at least partial seriousness), who is the New School Activist?[...]
But if, as I suspect, he is talking about the conflict-averse, iPod-wearing metrosexual MBA’s from Planet Starbucks, who think podcasting is activism and believe that changing paradigms is the same as changing the world – the same blowhards who populate the various low-level positions in the Democratic Party apparatus - then I’m going to go ahead and say what the fuck ever to that.These people represent the smothering of truly democratic contestation and conflict under a warm, suffocating layer of discursive manure delivered by dump-truck directly from your local business school. Well-versed in the various arts of management-talk, they excel at spinning sugar-plum visions of proactively shifting paradigms for maximally leveraged technological infrastructures, etc., etc….while they spend your pension fund and outsource your job.
As I said earlier, pragmatism and principle are hardly mutually exclusive. It's one thing to look for and use tactics that are appropriate to a given set of circumstances (when cats like Saul Alinsky and Malcom X are talking about "by any means necessary" they ultimately are talking about being pragmatic). It's quite another to simply value winning for the sake of winning, and ditching anything even remotely resembling a set of coherent principles (something that in ancient times we referred to as ideology) out of fear that some of us tie-dyed in the wool "old school" types will crash the party and cause [gasp!] embarrassment.And here we meet Straw Man #2: Ideology vs. Pragmatism! This is perhaps the biggest and steamiest load of hork that has ever spurted up from the dyspeptic GI tract of the so-called New Democrats, only to be endlessly swirled around in the collective mouth of the Democratic Party like a fine wine, only with chunks.There hasn’t been much seriously theoretical or idiological thinking in general circulation in our party for decades. Most Democrats, including progressives, are deeply pragmatic, but there’s pragmatism and then there’s pragmatism.
Kos, it seems, thinks that political pragmatism consists of advocating whatever policy sounds pretty darn good to folks. I would argue that the better form of political pragmatism, the one that actually represents the larger Pragmatist tradition in American political philosophy, consists of advocating policies that we have good reason to believe will work, and then present our fellow citizens with reasonable arguments to persuade them to support our proposed policies. But I guess I should just save that talk for Old School Activist back at the commune.
So it goes. Me go back to cave commune and weave more macrame plant hangers.
Coup takes aim at mainstream:
In this rapper's world, the anti-war movement is becoming more organized, more vocal and more savvy. Artists who rarely revealed personal politics before - Kanye West, Mary J. Blige - now slip social commentary onto Top 40 radio.The album Party Music was my introduction to The Coup. Well worth checking out. Boots is one of a number of excellent underground rap artists who deserves wider recognition.
In the world according to Boots Riley, hip-hop fans dump thugged-out booty grinds in favor of revolutionary rhetoric.
Call it backlash, but this Oakland rapper says the Disneyfied fare that dominated entertainment in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, gave way to a climate in which kids clamor for music with a message.
That's what "Boots" of The Coup has been waiting for. Beginning Saturday, his group plays three Colorado dates, reflecting its ever-broadening audience.
"People are tired of music that's not even trying to be relevant to them," said the lyricist, who is one-half of a Parliament- meets-Public Enemy rap outfit.
"It has to do with the times," Boots said from the road. "People are hungry for music that touches their soul."
Soul music is what makes The Coup's politics so palatable. "Party Music" opens with "Everythang," a streetwise call to action that slams capitalism and corporate corruption with new-wave samples and melodic, marching-band drums. Throughout the album, Boots spits anti-establishment verse over disco grooves woven by DJ Pam the Funkstress.
The music world largely didn't get The Coup's Black Power hip-hop in the 1990s. Boots was catapulted into mainstream consciousness in 2001 when his label at the time, 75 Ark, scrapped pre-Sept. 11 plans to release The Coup's last album, "Party Music," with cover art featuring the World Trade Center engulfed in flames. That coincidental image aimed at reflecting The Coup's anti-capitalist politics became Boots Riley's defining moment.
"If anybody had to get press for something like that, I'm glad it was me," said the entertainer, who grew up in the shadow of the Black Panther Party. "I was able to be one of the few voices at the time speaking out against (war in) Afghanistan."
"For a lot of years people thought quietly that they were against the way things were going, against bombing Afghanistan and attacking Iraq," Boots said. "But things have gotten so blatant - the government's power grab and thirst to dominate the world economy - that it's obvious to the average person."
Boots uses The Coup's fan base to draw attention to networks like Worldcantwait.org, a group staging nationwide war protests in November.
"People can get involved," he said. "There are movements taking direct action against some of the corporations and arms manufacturers."
The Coup's fourth album, "Pick a Bigger Weapon," is due early next year.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Leave it to me to pee in the nouveau progressives' cornflakes for a moment. This is one of the more ridiculous screeds that I have read from this dude. First, the generation gap line is pretty "old-school" in and of itself. Hell, I'm just old enough to remember the old slogan "never trust anyone over 30". I guess the only difference between then and now is that the "new school" blogs that slogan or downloads it on their Ipods. Same shit, different decade.
I'm increasingly convinced that the biggest intra-movement divide nowadays isn't ideological -- we mostly all agree on the same things -- but generational. Old school activists view politics and the activist realm differently than new school activists (very generally speaking). Those differences manifest themselves in arguments over single issue groups, effective activism, partisanship, tone, style, pragmatism, the types of candidates we should run, etc.
New school progressives are also less tolerant of ideological orthodoxy. We don't fall in line with the "acceptable" liberal position, frankly, because we're not trained to fall in line. We are more likely to be educated in an economy that values "proactiveness" and "self-initiative" and "problem solving" over blindly following the orders of our boss. We have the tools to research any and every issue in a way inconcievable even 10 years ago. We no longer need to rely on our "leaders" or the media to tell us what the "right" position on any one issue might be. And our own individual life experiences will color our perceptions of any issue. If you are an inner city parent with shitty public schools for your kids, school vouchers probably look pretty darn good even if the theory offends progressive sensibilities.
The political landscape is different, no doubt -- the politics of old where "leaders" told us how to think and act is dead. The media landscape has changed -- the era when a few editors and producers determined our "leaders" and excluded other voices is dead.
What precisely is it that distinguishes this "new school" from the "old school"? Is it that the so-called new and improved progressives aren't "trained to fall in line" with whatever passes for "traditional liberalism"? Couldn't the New Left crowd of the 1960s lay much the same claim when comparing themselves with the activists and leaders who cut their teeth during the Depression? Know your history or you're doomed to repeat it.
The whole line about how the media has changed is also misleading. Just as was the case several decades ago, there are still those handful of editors and producers who take it upon themselves to handpick those so-called "leaders" who will pose the least threat to the status quo. If anything, that may be more the case now, as the flow of information is increasingly directed by fewer media conglomerates than ever before. There have always been leaders - both self-appointed and media created who try to control what is said and how it is said. Markos is surely disingenuous if he's going to claim that he and his front-page writers aren't endeavoring to do precicely that: tell the target audience what to think and do. And again to pee in the cornflakes, bloggers didn't invent alternatives to those elite editors and producers - zines, leaflets, underground newspapers and the like have been around for generations. The technological means of production and distribution have changed in some ways, but the song remains largely the same. And when blogs finally go the way of the 8-track tape, something else will come along as an alternative medium, as a vehicle for spreading the word. Just the way it is.
But all that generational talk is really little more than the sideshow. What to me is more important is what "new school progressives" have to offer in the way of ideas. On that score I am underwhelmed. The key to the "new school" as Markos envisions it can be found in his statements above. The so-called "new school" has no patience for what Markos labels "single-issue groups." It is a "school" bereft of ideology or historical context. It is a "school" in which pragmatism is framed strictly in terms of the Democratic party winning elections with no reference to what those Dems actually stand for. Pragmatism is merely formulated as GOP= bad & Dem=good. While I have no difficulty accepting the former, I am not so sure about the latter.
And all the "new school" might talk a good game about the so-called "era of excluding other voices " as "dead," the truth is that the "new school" progressives are doing their level best to do precisely that: exclude other voices. Toe the line or you will be banished. If you want to be hip, if you want to be "new school" you do so apparently by dissing the appropriate scapegoats: the so-called single issue groups, the so-called "sanctimonious women's studies" folks, the "hippie peace freaks," and so on ad nauseum. The nouveau progressive instead of actually seeing what they might have in common with these scapegoats have instead bought into the FauxNews hype and have thrown a substantial number of progressives out of their brand of progressivism. The "new school" will undoubtedly repackage the same strategy of triangulation and the same old neo-liberal bullshit that has weighed down the Democrat party for as long as I can remember. They will have about as much luck as their DLC peers.
Funny thing is, if Markos and his ilk would bother to study the past, they'd find plenty of leaders and activists who showed both a strong set of ideological principles and pragmatic tactics. Cesar Chavez, Malcom X, Saul Alinsky all come immediately to mind. Pragmatism does not have to mean selling out or excluding others whose perspectives vary a bit. Read Alinsky's Rules For Radicals and you'll dig what I'm saying.
Monday, October 17, 2005
People stumble and rant, they lie in filth, they trap you with eyes that threaten and plead. Roughly 10,000 people flop on skid row streets each night, up to half of them mentally ill. The landscape is relentlessly bleak, the stench of rotting trash and misery everywhere.Read the rest of the first article of the series here.
Skid row exists because we've created it — although until now, with the downtown renaissance approaching its borders — we've mostly been able to ignore it.
By shutting mental hospitals, adding thousands to the rolls of medically uninsured, skimping on rehab and keeping social services out of respectable neighborhoods, we've guaranteed this teeming human landfill.
Paramedics like Chavez are left to deal with the wreckage. He delivers babies on sidewalks and treats open sores crawling with maggots.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
I watched an older Bill Mahar the other night and I was intrigued by a comment made. They were discussingthe Iraq war. One man was saying that we (the US) shouldn't be in Iraq because we are creating a greater climate of hatred which can be used for any other Osama Bin Laden types out there. The other man, defending the US position, said that it's too late for that. I suppose he meant that the hate was already there so we had the right (and perhaps obligation) to add to it.In the meantime, the wheel of karma keeps on turning.
My question to that is, then how can this ever end? I mean the terror on 9/11 was started with a really hateful act. People died and it was horrible. The US was angry and afraid and grieving. We went to war over that and then we fought another war, creating the same anger and fear and saddness in other groups of people. To say we had no choice in this matter suggests that those other countries have no choice either doesn't it? It means that there is no choice but to go on hating more and more and more. The cesspool of hatred and fear only gets bigger.
If we don't stop hating, then why would anyone else?
Were does it stop?