Friday, May 19, 2006

Look ma! I can ride in one of them there dune buggies!

Speaking of "Final Solutions"

Let’s hand it to Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, for speaking the mind of nearly half of all Israelis. “The Palestinians should all be deported,” declared Van Creveld in 2003. “The people who strive for this (the Israeli government) are waiting only for the right man and the right time. Two years ago, only 7 or 8 per cent of Israelis were of the opinion that this would be the best solution, two months ago it was 33 per cent, and now, according to a Gallup poll, the figure is 44 percent.”

Actually, according to Haaretz and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, “46 percent of Israel’s Jewish citizens favor transferring Palestinians out of the territories, while 31 percent favor transferring Israeli Arabs out of the country…. In 1991, 38 percent of Israel’s Jewish population was in favor of transferring the Palestinians out of the territories [i.e., militarily occupied land] while 24 percent supported transferring Israeli Arabs,” or rather ethnically cleansing them.

Such a “final solution” to the fact millions of Arabs live in Palestine—and have for centuries—would be a serious violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and 1977 Additional Protocols, not that Israel believes in humanitarian law when it comes to Arabs and Muslims. “Israeli-Arabs pose a threat to Israel’s security, according to 61 percent of the Jewish population, while around 80 percent are opposed to Israeli-Arabs being involved in important decisions, such as delineating the country’s borders, up from 75 percent last year and 67 percent in 2000,” Haaretz continues. In other words, a large majority of Israelis believe Arabs should suffer in perpetuity as second class citizens, mere “hew’ers of wood’ and draw’ers of wa’ter,” as described in the Old Testament (Josh. 9:21).

Nerdified Link. Not much difference between the above and our own rabid wingnuts who want mass deportations of "them Mexicans." Nor is there much to distinguish that mindset with the Nazis who endeavored to "solve" their "Jewish problem" initially with mass deportations before simply resorting to mass killings. By any reasonable definition of genocide (e.g., Rafael Lemkin's), what is happening to the Palestinian Arabs would appear to me to fit the bill. Rather than taking to heart the meaning of the phrase "never again" in the wake of the atrocities of WW2, the Israeli leadership, its pundits, academics, and a fair portion of its citizens have taken to heart "let's find someone to victimize." The little matter of the genocide of the Palestinians will undoubtedly be ignored here in the US - seems they're just Ay-raabs.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Candidate Hal Spake takes on "free speech" zones

And calls them what they are:
The idea and use of the word, "Free-speech-zones" is repugnant. We should use a more apt word like, "free-speech-stockade" or "free-speech-gulag". If we use the words and phrases of the right wing, they've framed the issue, and won the argument.

The Bill of Rights does not restrict free speech to prisoners but extends it to all people in this country. Perhaps we need to have one of the State legislators ask the Attorney General his opinion on free-speech-stockades in Oklahoma. If the AG says they are illegal, then Oklahomans don't have to go to jail to express their legitimate concerns about the Bush government.
Not sure of his party affiliation just yet, or of his chances against incumbent Tom Cole in the upcoming election to represent the 4th District in the US House. But if this is an indication of what Spake is like, he would be my idea of a good candidate. If he turns out to be a Democrat, I'll have to say that he may well be that sorely missed rarity in the Dem party: someone with a backbone.

Tip o' the hat to Mike at Okiedoke.

Dennis Hastert sez

We working stiffs don't pay taxes.

These folks who comprise our ruling elite really need to get out more, methinks.

Howard Zinn sez:

actually quite a bit:
SF: Has the Left responded adequately to the kind of fascism we see coming from Bush's people? Street protests seem to be ineffective; it's sometimes disheartening.

HZ: The responses are never adequate, until they build and build and something changes. People very often think that there must be some magical tactic, beyond the traditional ones - protests, demonstrations, vigils, civil disobedience - but there is no magical panacea, only persistence in continuing and escalating the usual tactics of protest and resistance. The end of the Vietnam War did not come because the Left suddenly did something new and dramatic, but because all of the actions built up over time.

If you listen to the media, you get no sense of what's happening. I speak to groups of people in different parts of the country. I was in Austin, Texas recently and a thousand people showed up. I believe people are basically decent, they just lack information.

SF: You have been outspoken against the war in Iraq. Despite all the chaos we've heard may ensue, do you still believe we should get out of Iraq now?

HZ: Yes, we should immediately withdraw. There will be chaos ... it is actually there already, and much of the chaos and violence has come about because of our involvement. But that doesn't change the fact that our occupation of Iraq is wrong.

What's more troubling [than a military mistake] is that this is an administration that is impervious to pressure. If you listen to LBJ's tapes, where he discusses the escalation of the war in Vietnam, you can hear that he is torn....

Still, the good news is that more and more of us are becoming aware of Bush's true nature. Less than fifty percent of Americans are for the war, and forty percent are calling for [Bush's] impeachment.

SF: Where do you see the Democrats in all this? What of their role, their responsibility?

HZ: The Democratic Party is pitiful. Not only are they not articulating a spiritual message, as Lerner says, they don't even have a political message. The Democrats are tied to corporate wealth. And they are incompetent when it comes to understanding how to win elections. By the time Kerry ran, the public had actually shifted. Fifty percent were against the war. The Democrats should have been saying they would end the war, and make those dollars available for healthcare.

SF: What about the upcoming crop of presidential candidates - Hillary Clinton, for instance?

HZ: Hillary Clinton is so opportunistic. She goes where the wind is blowing. She doesn't say what needs to be said. And Barack Obama is cautious. He's better than Clinton, but I'd suggest Marian Wright Edelman as the Democratic candidate for president. She's the epitome of what we need. A very smart black woman who deals with children, poverty.... She's in the trenches, and she ties it in with militarization. But she doesn't come out of government.

That's another problem - the Democratic Party is a closed circle. It may take a threatening third party to shake things up.


SF: Don't you believe the Left needs to address spiritual needs to win? How else can we galvanize the heartland, people taken in by the religious rhetoric of Bush?

HZ: Yes, there are special needs and they need to be addressed. But after the last election there was a kind of hysteria among liberal pundits about a "failure" to deal with the moral issues. There is a hard core for whom religion is key. They are maybe twenty-five percent of the population. It's a mistake to try to appeal to that hard core.

I define the spiritual in emotional terms - to the extent that religion can draw on the Ten Commandments (for example, thou shalt not kill), it is important. And I find the spiritual in the arts, because they nourish the spirit and move people. Artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, for example, and now Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. We need more of these.

It's not that people are turned off by the Left. The Left hasn't reached out to people with a clear, coherent, and emotional message. The Left often does not know how to talk to other people. Tikkun magazine appeals to intellectuals. I've never spoken the language of ivory tower academics. And there are other voices on the Left that speak in understandable language. For instance, Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, in which she took menial jobs across the country and wrote about those lives, was a bestseller. There's an emotionalism to her message that makes contact and touches thousands. Michael Moore's movies have been seen by all sorts of people. GI's in Iraq watched his movie. We just have to do more along those lines.

SF: Many on the Left seem to identify religion with the fundamentalist versions of it we see in the worst moments of human history. Do you see any value in religious ideas and traditions? If I can get personal: do you identify at all as a Jew, with the Jewish story? Is there anything in it that's meaningful to you? Are there any thoughts of the world beyond this one - where, for example, you can sit with Marx in Soho and eat Deli Haus blintzes together?

HZ: If I was promised that we could sit with Marx in some great Deli Haus in the hereafter, I might believe in it! Sure, I find inspiration in Jewish stories of hope, also in the Christian pacifism of the Berrigans, also in Taoism and Buddhism. I identify as a Jew, but not on religious grounds. Yes, I believe, as Pascal said, "The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know." There are limits to reason. There is mystery, there is passion, there is something spiritual in the arts - but it is not connected to Judaism or any other religion.

For those who find a special inspiration in Judaism or Christianity or Buddhism or whatever, fine. If that inspiration leads them to work for justice, that is what matters.
My emphasis added.

Our governor Brad Henry could learn a thing or two from Zinn. Siding in with the GOP as the state's infrastructure (e.g., the roads, schools, colleges & universities) crumbles is something that is sheer cowardice - merely more of that wonkish opportunism we've come to expect from too many Dems. Heck if it takes some Greens to shake things up, so be it. I'd be curious to know who they'd field as a candidate.

Shades of Mai Lai

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.

A videotape taken by an Iraqi showed the aftermath of the alleged attack: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls.

The video, obtained by Time magazine, was broadcast a day after town residents told The Associated Press that American troops entered homes on Nov. 19 and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine.
Nerdified link.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday Miscellany

See Iraq War Images Uncensored.

Ward Churchill speaks out.

Mainstream media gets rewarded for its collaborator role in Bu$hCo's regime by getting spied upon. On a related note: Bu$hCo sez "trust me" (you shouldn't of course), while spying illegally and with impunity. Also, Specter sells out (once again - is a moderate Republican akin to a moderate fascist, or moderate Stalinist?).

Justin Raimondo sez: perpetual war means dictatorship at home. Or put another way, Bu$hCo sez: "Show me your papers." Can totalitarianism happen here? Bet on it, unless a critical mass of Americans wake up real goddamned fast.

Check out the Ottawa Core Blog.

XicanoPwr decodes Junior Caligula's immigration speech.

Displaced NOLA voters will be voting in larger numbers in the upcoming run-off elections.

Did you know, Matthew Shipp has a new cd of solo piano music? Better save those pennies and nab a copy.

Let's find a hopeful narrative for these dark and stormy times.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Break out the white sheets and the flaming crosses

Get on the topic of immigration and you get all sorts of gems from the hard right, including yet another iteration of The Final Solution:
Dear Jorge plans to address the nation tonight, a speech wherein he will almost surely attempt to deceive citizens into believing that he does not wish the mass migration from Mexico to continue unabated. He will likely offer some negligible resources for law enforcement and border security – resources which will never materialize – in return for an amnesty program that will grant American citizenship to the Mexican nationals who have helped lower America's wage rates by 16 percent over the last 32 years.

And he will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: "Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it's just not going to work."

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.

In fact, the hysterical response to the post-rally enforcement rumors tends to indicate that the mere announcement of a massive deportation program would probably cause a third of that 12 million to depart for points south within a week.
Nerdified Link. Emphasis added courtesy Steve Gilliard. Holy smokes. Think about how the Germans went about "getting rid of" those six million Jews, as well as an estimated half million Sinti and Roma (also known as Gypsies), and a few million Poles, and one has to wonder what kind of crack this kid (who goes by the name Vox Day) is smoking. The kid does try to finesse things later on at his blog - going into some sort of mental gymnastics about how the Nazis tried deporting Jews before resorting to extermination, in the process claiming that as "proof" that successful deportations on a mass scale are possible. However, even a cursory reading of the history of Nazi Germany's efforts to rid itself of its "Jewish Problem" suggests quite to the contrary that the logistics involved made the attempt hardly a rousing success and resulted in far from humane conditions for the victims (see for example Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil for one examination), prior to the mass killings that ultimately ensued. Somehow, mass deportations are "okay" although it is best to keep in mind that by standard definitions of genocide (such as Rafael Lemkin's), such efforts - be they at the behest of Hitler or some Hitler wannabe among the Minutemen crowd - would fall under the umbrella of genocide, and is criminal under international law regardless. There's no way to sugarcoat it.

Other summaries: Digby, Crooks and Liars, and Oklahoma's own Independent Christian Voice. Glenn Greenwald notices that the rabid right has worked itself into such a frenzy that there is increasingly a call among this bunch to impeach Bu$hCo over White House immigration policy. As one of Greenwald's commenters noted, it's funny that what it takes to get the hard right convinced to impeach the Prez is not the mass killings and starvation of God knows how many people in Afghanistan and Iraq courtesy of the White House, but rather the Prez failing to be sufficiently racist. If only he were more of a cracker, rather than a blue-blood huckster, they lament. Maybe with Bu$hCo's wars going badly, they've got the jones for new scapegoats. Whatever. They get no sympathy from me. Whether or not this is the death knell of the GOP stranglehold on all three branches of government remains to be seen.

Gilliard has a veritable bevvy of GOP style racism: Joe Klein's latest missive reminds me of why I refuse to subscribe to Time.

Bonus: New York's Regents' Test requires students to write essays about how imperialism "helped" Africa. Imagine asking kids in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to write on how Hitler's Final Solution "helped" the Jews. Oh wait, that's Vox Day's territory no doubt.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday morning mesa blogging and open thread

This was taken last summer, just north of Black Mesa in the Oklahoma panhandle. I forget whether my son took this one or if I did. My guess is his memory is far better than mine, and I'll gladly defer to him if he wishes to comment.

Our state has a lot of beautiful scenery. The Black Mesa area happens to be one of my favorite areas to visit. The nearby town of Kenton has only a handful of residents, and serves as a tourist destination (there are a couple bed & breakfast spots in town, as well as the Merc, which at the moment is closed, and of course don't forget the Kenton Museum).

Speaking of destinations, if you haven't already sat in on the dinner and conversation with Ductape & Duke, please do. For those of us who hang on to the notion that a large part of the essence of democratic societies is conversation and debate rather than soundbites, their effort is truly a delicacy. As an aside, if you've ever wondered where I'd picked up the phrase "nerdified link", credit (or blame) Ductape Fatwa as the influence.

So...what's on your mind?

Frank Church Sez

"That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."

He added that if a dictator ever took over, the NSA "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

"I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge," Senator Church said. "I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

Nerdified Link.

Hat tip to Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest, who captures the essence of the NSA scandal.

Dahr Jamail sez:

I attempted in vain to describe to the audience what life in Baghdad is like. It was in vain, because how can anyone in the United States begin to imagine what it is like to be invaded, to have our infrastructure shattered, to have occupying soldiers photographing detained Americans in forced humiliating sexual acts and then to have these displayed on television, to have our churches raided and worshippers therein shot and killed by occupation troops? It is only when more people in the US begin to fathom the totality of the destruction in Iraq that one may expect to hear the public outcry and uprising necessary to end the occupation and bring to justice the war criminals responsible for these conditions. Until that happens, make no mistake: all of us participate in a new Iraq, our hands dyed in the blood of innocents.
Nerdified Link.

Tip o' the hat to Today in Iraq.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Duke and Ductape Refuse to Stop Eating or Arguing About Immigration

Even though you know the drill now, the blindfold, the delicious smells, the impossibly thick carpets, you still feel a bit nervous. For one thing, there are reports that the dishes this evening will include a veal scalloppini personally made by DuctapeFatwa himself, and it is unlikely that you will be able to politely avoid tasting it, whether you are opposed to veal on general principle, or merely do not associate Ductape with the preparation of fine Italian cuisine. Few if, any, do, and you are unable to shake off a vague feeling of unease: Why in the world would he do such a thing? What secret coded message might he be sending to what shadowy Italian sleeper cell by such an act? Even Duke is said to be perplexed, and not a little apprehensive about consuming such a dish prepared by such an unlikely chef. Not a chef at all, in fact, if reports are to be believed, he can barely make a decent dal, it is said, and the pinnacle of his previous lifetime culinary achievement has been publicly acknowledged as whipping up a simple vegetable curry that while to date, has produced no casualties, neither has it produced anything like praise.

A sudden thought comes unbidden, and unwelcome: Will Duke have cooked something too? If he has, you will surely have to eat it, and nothing in the little that is known of this mysterious and verbose word-slinger suggests that he has ever even entered a kitchen, much less produced any alleged comestible substance while in one.

And then there is no more time for thought, because the blindfold is removed, and there he is. So the rumors are true that he has taken to wearing a sombrero, apparently not even removing it to dine. His ancient, turbanned companion, appears not to notice, being intently engaged in constructing a most remarkable burrito from succulent Palestinian lamb cubes and plump Israeli couscous, topping it off with an improbable but somehow tempting combination of kim chi and zaweg job'n. Seeing you, he makes great ceremony of setting it onto your plate, rapidly being filled by a small army of smiling servers, and Duke joins them, arranging a small mountain of Peking duck onto a bed of what appears to be risotto, but might be paella, or might be one of those magical rices of Kashmir and Persia, they both hope you had a comfortable trip, apologize profusely, as before, for the necessity of the blindfold, shrug, laugh, and whisper instructions that additional silken pillows be provided for your reclining comfort, for Ductape is adamant that this good old fashion is better for the digestion, and so you sink as if into a cloud, every sense assailed by beauty, fragrance, subtle,delectable combinations of flavors, as above the soft music, now sitar, now shamisen, now marimba, now oud, Duke begins:

"It was actually Man Eegee who recalled to my mind Steve Soto's article, It's funny, I was working on a piece myself about the barebones, practical politics of this issue.

Soto's analysis is good but I don't totally agree with him. He is right that the whole mess is blowing up in the republicans' faces but I don't think Reid should back off, but rather continue to force the issue.

The Republicans are totally divided on this issue right now. The wing-nut brigade MUST bring home the bacon before November or have to face a now riled up constituency at home.

Frist on the other hand must walk a tightrope between them and the business interests that want guest worker and amnesty, Bush trying to walk so sort of magic middle ground wants his braceros without the amnesty.

At this point, especially after the marches and the increased press on the issue, most Republicans outside of the Tancredo camp probably wish this whole thing would just go away. My advice to Reid would be' don't let them stall and sweep this under the carpet or capitulate. Hold their feet to the fire. There is NO way the Repugs can reach consensus. It's impossible. Soto is right that they will implode, but it doesn't have to be at the cost of acceptance of the Sensenbrenner bill and a Bush veto. That leaves only Bush hanging out to dry and the wing-nuts can go home and say they accomplished their part if not for their lame duck President.

It is far better in my opinion to draw this battle out as long as possible ... all along dividing the Republicans even more and giving none of them a victory before November.

It is best to keep all the cats in the bag and allow them to fight it out. They will all walk away losers. A new congress comes in January and real immigration reform can begin. Let them reap what they have sown."

And with a characteristic cock of one eyebrow, Duke smiles and returns to his Pud Thai and Pesto Chalupa, dribbling it generously with Berebere sauce.

For a minute there is only soft music - oudh maybe? As Ductape adds a dollop of creme fraiche to a fried Poblano chile stuffed with what appears to be Chicken Vindalu. He frowns and reaches for a bit of fennel, then speaks.

"Duke, you ought, by all rights, to be right. But realistically, do you think that the Democrats can "reach consensus" either?

My sense is that there are lot of younger folks, in Washington and far away from it, who are learning just how little has changed since 1963..."

Before you even have time to register surprise at this uncharacteristic brevity, Duke replies.

"The current rank and file need not reach consensus and probably won't … which is quite obvious from even a cursory look at Kos)… only the representatives in the Senate do, and they are pretty united on this. They realize that the republicans have created a a no-win situation for themselves on this issue.

Now if they were to hold strong and let this blow up all over the repugs, how THEY would deal with this issue come November is another question … which is I think your point.... but if the immigrant and Latino communities truly mobilized come November and finally become a viable political force (outside of California) the Dems would be not only the beneficiaries but also be beholden to them if they wished to keep power.

Here is where the true power of the immigrant's rights movement could take effect. The party that earns the support of the immigrant and Latino communities becomes not only the party of the future, but also the one in great measure controlled by them. Agendas will be set and policies made by those who control the ballot box. Look how much damage has been done by a relatively small group of Christian-right fanatics in the last six years, simply because they could turn out the vote.

As you have wisely pointed out before, demographics are on the side not of the old white establishment, but rather the young, growing brown one.

You must remember, Ductape that I have not yet given up ALL hope that sometimes the system gets one right."

That famous smile again lights up the room, inspiring someone to bring in a platter containing a dainty and glistening Hawaiian suckling pig. This night is clearly no respecter of anyone's religious dietary laws, nor are the diners, as the porcine delicacy is welcomed with obvious anticipation. Laughing, Ductape spears an especially delicious-looking morsel with his signature short sword, and with a gracious nod, places it on my plate, and still laughing, turns to his opponent.

"Well just because something hasn't happened yet...

Yes the future demographics will have the potential of impacting "voting" should Diebold go out of business by the time all those kids turn 18, but at the present time, all that demographic clout exists more in the arena of realpolitik than in that of "elections," meaning that while there are certainly more Latin Americans who are eligible to vote than was the case ten or even five years ago, as I am sure you are aware, for every person who purchased their documents from the Washington retailer there are (we don't really know the number, and if we did, saying it might be disturbing to sensitive viewers) who did not.

And of course we all must remember that when I say that I am hopeful, I am not making reference to anything related to the system, unless you count its long-overdue relocation to the dumpster."

It must be the exceptional, near-other-worldly quality of the food, you reflect, that is causing the acknowledged Master of Verbosity to be so concise tonight, could someone have been secretly coaching him?

Unabashed, Duke answers with his own startling display of unexpected brevity.

"Ah, Ductape, once again we tread familiar ground.

while there are certainly more Latin Americans who are eligible to vote than was the case ten or even five years ago

And over forty percent of them have until recently been partaking of the Bushian Kool-Aid. Add those to the numbers who have only now awakened to see the true peril, and will for the first time, (possibly after living here for years) join the ranks of the voting and you will have the kind of numbers that forced arch-conservative policy maker Grover Norquist to warn his fellow evil-doers that screwing with the Latino vote in particular would be their downfall.

Not to mention the myriad of other ethnic groups of every color of the rainbow who now no longer see Bush and his minion as their 'All-American Heroes'."

With what can only be described as a smirk, Ductape layers thin slices of Chateaubriand onto a biyali, adding, as if by last minute impulse, a ladle or two of Crawfish Etoufee, and warms to his subject.

"Yes, I know the Democrats hope that all those people will now drink their Kool-Aid instead.

What I am wondering, though, is whether there is much chance of that happening, since we are talking about people who tend to be more politically sophisticated than the mainstream, and more likely to "exercise" as a result of actual differences regarding policies as opposed to policy presentation.

I think that both parties run into the same problem with the "regular" underclass, see Democrats: a Reality Check

Now there is an immediate advantage, IF some sort of immediate and actual "migra relief card" is produced, and IF - I hate to keep bringing this up, but it's a pretty big factor - the Diebold company goes out of business, and US undergoes major policy change regarding franchisement and vote counting, but those are both quite sizeable IFs, as is my IF hope, which is that next time, the numbers of people in the streets will multiply by a minimum of 10, which I think would have a good chance of catapulting the show into Double Jeopardy, where the values double and the scores can really change.

I know … Uncharacteristically optimistic of me. Probably the meds... "

It's only then that you notice the small pearl and jewel inlaid pillbox tucked under one of the long-winded terrorist's cushions, but you are more tempted by Duke's Moo Shu Coq Au Vin, which he lays down rather reluctantly, you think...

"I think they will not so much drink the Kool-Aid as make it … or hopefully a more flavorful metaphoric beverage.

I think as usual we see the same problem but view the inevitable outcome and solution differently.

You see an utterly corrupt system that can only be fixed through its complete disassembly and reconstructed as a different entity.

I see an utterly corrupt system that can be fixed through a complete realignment of power from the bottom up.

Let me extrapolate… as if you thought I wouldn't

I see our current two party system as one in which the party in power now is completely evil. It represents all that is wrong with capitalism, exceptionalism, nationalism, racism, conservatism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, classism and probably 100 hundred other "isms" and "opias".

I see the other party as an ineffectual shell, a holding pen for those not in power. Some are holdovers from a bygone era. Some are tyrants in waiting who were no better than their opponents in the past and given the opportunity would be no better in the future. Many are just floundering, not really sure why things are such a mess and just wishing things were different, but don't really have any idea or vision of what different should look like. But most of all I see the "opposition party" as ripe for takeover.

Here I think is where you and I come to the fork in the road and take different paths.

I as a progressive, see the Democratic Party as a weak and flaccid beast that is ripe for the picking. Once picked, it could be molded from the bottom up over time by a new generation and a different mindset to make the changes necessary to fix the broken nation. Here is where I see the revolution taking place.

Just as the right-wing freaks took the tattered shell of the Republican Party and reformed it in their image to do their evil bidding. The Democratic Party could be taken over by people who respect human dignity and rights globally, give two shits about the future, the environment, economic and political justice, etc. etc. etc. … just plain ordinary good humans… now, I at one time I had feared that such creatures had in fact ceased to exist …but as of late I have run across many here, so I know they're not totally extinct.

You ask: What do the Democrats have to offer? Nothing….nothing except a place for us to take over and re-mold.

You on the other hand see the revolution in more literal terms … A rising in the streets of the great masses to take back power, or if I read correctly …take power for the first time

I for one don't see the great revolt ever coming. The masses, even the most oppressed, too easily placated by American Idol and cheap imports, have lost true revolutionary zeal and fervor. The path you seek requires not only great outrage and a willingness to make great sacrifice, but also great vision. But America, and all the rest of the "industrialized world" for that matter, has lost that vision in a blur of 24 hour cable access and Nintendo.

My revolution only requires those who truly desire change to re-invent the wheel... yours requires them to invent it for the first time."

He returns to his Moo Shu, looking both pleased with it and himself. At last, we are getting some verbosity here. You had time to stuff your own interesting tower of Yebeg Wot, what appears to be Yorkshire Pudding, and a sprinkle of fresh coconut into the slot of a Steamed Pork Bun, as you try to follow the debate. Ductape's laugh fills the room.

"Well, Duke, at least the sections are shorter, if James and Nanette are eyeing this with interest...

I see a one party "system," largely cosmetic, essentially a framework for corporations to present and codify their policies.

It's efficient, it's effective, most people believe it is something quite different than what it is, and some even operate under the delusion that the politicians work for the people. Others have a very strong faith in the whole "voting" mechanism, as well as that delusion.

Thus one ends up with the independently whirling Orbits of pragmatism, orbits of doom.

Where we differ, maybe is in our views of whether "a complete realignment of power from the bottom up" constitutes Revolution or not.

I don't think that you believe that the people in the streets are there because of an overwhelming desire to obtain "a place for us to take over and re-mold" any more than I do.

They want a card. There is a very small but vocal and idea-filled minority who would like a place to take over and remold, who hope that out of all those people in the streets, there will be enough of them who are able to bypass the Diebold company and vouchsafe unto that idea-filled minority a new and re-framed illusion, one so cleverly crafted that it will calm the fever of doubt, and some who sincerely believe that if only such a thing were to happen, that they would be able to get in a reality-based accent piece here or there.

Even such a modest hope, even assuming that there ARE enough potential "voters" there, and that Diebold is magically thwarted via means to be determined, is unlikely to be realized in the absence of a card, which is unlikely to be forthcoming for reasons detailed in the bandwidth gorging Dinner with Duke and Ductape (really short version: a card does not give the corporations anything).

So even that above-mentioned hope, in all its sincerity and innocence, where applicable, winds in upon itself in the tragic Moebius spiral.

What is interesting is that you come to a conclusion more pessimistic than I, who am decried and pelted with ripe fruit daily for being pessimistic, cynical, and all other adjectives that are routinely hurled at the few of us who are old enough to have seen this movie before, with different actors.

While I cannot disagree with your excellent and concise summary of why there are not "Americans" in the streets, nor can I disagree with the person on EuroTribune who referred to the US underclass as the "supine poor," any more than I would presume to disagree with Mr. Frederick Douglass, who pointed out on several occasions that oppression is not without its consensual element, neither can I deny the fundamental reality of all negotiations, namely, once you reach a critical level of certainty that you will die whether you do what I want you to do or not, I have lost all my negotiating chips.

While this point has not yet been reached, as you correctly point out, not only in the wide worried fields of suburbia where the soccer moms bloom, but even among the stolid Wal-Mart employee base (who do seem to be taking a maddening amount of time to realize that they are in fact, there already), it has apparently been reached by all those people crossing deserts without water. (And though manifested in quite a different way, it has also been reached by a sizeable chunk of the US inner city population, huddled in warrens where popo won't go, their only link with anything that US officialdom consisting of some rather low-level covert connections involving the only industries with a higher profit margin than either weapons, oil, or medical treatment).

So on that point, not only must I respectfully disagree with your opinion that Revolution will never occur, my view is that it has now become inevitable. That slippery substance under our feet is the blood of not just one, but several flocks of belly-slit geese, their golden-egg-laying days cut short by the same Greed that is the reason those good folks in the streets will not be getting their wallet-sized and laminated rectangle of reality basedness.

And yes, it will be necessary to invent the wheel for the first time. Rewriting the Great Law of the Iroquois to be applicable to all white male property owners, and spending the next couple of centuries carefully installing it in an elegant spindle holder in the West Wing bathroom does not a wheel invention make.

Sadly, there is no guarantee that it will be invented this time. What there is, and what I have, is hope."

Duke ladles Nigerian Fish Stew into a puff pastry shell and takes a deep breath, gestures to Ductape to pass the chopped habaneros, he and answers calmly.

"As is per the norm for our conversations, we have two different themes intertwined and weaving throughout. The first being the actual viability of the "American Experiment", the other being the political and social realities and ramifications of "immigration reform"

On the first point we will usually agree to respectfully disagree. What you see as inevitable and inescapable, I see as avoidable. While I will acknowledge that the continually assault on the masses must eventually force them to demand change, we differ on what that change will be. I see that change as a re-arrangement of the power structure whereby the government becomes the tool and ally of the people rather than the corporation. The groundwork for such a system is in fact in place, it is up to the people to become angry enough to demand that kind of change. I realize you see things differently, and on this principle only time will tell who in fact has more realistic expectations.

As to the second thread of our conversation, and what originally brought us to this point; the strategy to get true immigration reform accomplished and get a "migra relief card" into the hands of 12 million plus deserving people, here is how I would sum up my points.

1. Nothing will be done before November, and as I said earlier, I like that idea. Anything done now is done from a position of weakness politically. Those who hold the reigns of power currently will never do anything in the immigrants best interests and the best we could hope for is some sort of half-assed compromise that merely throws them table scraps

2. this lack of action only hurts the right-wing hate mongers politically.

3. Here comes the tough one …. through shear force of overwhelming numbers the American people rise up and defeat the Diebold machine and it's beneficiaries in 2006.

4. Now we begin to institute change. First we get rid of the diebold machine forever. Second we hopefully get rid of the the figurehead leader of corporatists party, or at least render him so impotent that he can no longer do the great harm he has thus far managed to get away with. Thirdly we demand that our newly installed leadership be answerable to the people, and remind them daily of the fate of their predecessors who sold their souls for thirty pieces of Roman silver.

4. Now we take up immigration reform again, this time with the voices of the racists rendered to the peanut gallery. Without power the Boy-King can no longer demand his braceros program, so that sad chapter can finally be closed. As for the cheap labor corporatist ... their power will be waning. When they can't buy machines to steal elections, the people no longer listen to their 15 sec. sound bites and their lobbyists and minions are marched off to jail one by one .. they will no longer be calling all the shots. Will they still have power ... yes ... but they won't have all the power as they do now. We take up this debate now from a true position of power. Not from some "realpolitik" theoretical power position, but rather from one where the rights and concerns of millions of voters are addressed. Voters who now have a voice in the system, no longer disenfranchised by the manipulation of megabytes or mind control of manufactured sound bites and slogans.

5. Now comes the really good part. If …, and I admit this has all been a really big "if", we accomplish those first four goals. 12 million newly minted "Migra get out of jail free" cards are placed in the hands of working people across this country. Additionally each year more and more join their ranks. Now my dear Ductape, here is where the revolution begins. Unions begin organizing, politicians now court, issues as far reaching as healthcare reform and living wage start to be addressed. Even international relations would be effected, as our foreign policy would now be written not with the concerns of rich old white men sitting in their corporate offices in mind, but rather the well-being of the people. Not just here, but from all corners of the globe, thanks to the influence of our new immigrant neighbors... can we talk Kyoto Protocols?

Now I realize this is all very optimistic thinking. But as I said waaaaay earlier, I see the current opposition party as an empty shell to be taken over and use as a tool for change. And I believe one of those groups who should be major players in taking over the party are the shiny, brand new, freshly minted citizens that will be produced in ever increasing numbers for years to come. Who better to remind us what this experiment is supposed to be about than those who have risked their lives to partake in it."

Duke smiles amiably as with an impressive fork maneuver he attempts to hide a medallion of veal scalloppini under an oversized dumpling stuffed with Szechuan pheasant and maque choux. You remember that the scalloppini is rumored to have been prepared personally by his antique adversary, but Duke's plan is foiled. The unlikely chef urges you both to sample his effort. Duke's chiseled jaw tightens, as he bravely takes a bite. "Why, it's magnificent!" he exclaims in honest astonishment, and seizing flatbread and horseradish, quickly makes a taco, and adorns it with pink Ukrainian potato salad. Ductape nods approvingly and returns to his assembly of a traditional Cold Biscuit, Vidalia Onion and Tomato Sandwich, enhanced in this case by a generous spoonful of Cochinitas Piviles and a large piece of scalloppini and graciously presents it to you. It is delicious, and receives much more of your attention than the old man's speechifying, which he resumes:

"I think where we disagree, first of all, has more to do with what constitutes Revolution, and secondly, whether the current "system" has any sustainable elements.

This is more a matter of perspective regarding the question of differences between the Democrats and the Republicans, I think, and in order to avoid disappointing lurkers who are rolling their eyes and saying "Oh yeah, this is where he posts some incomprehensible ramble with a link":

This question reminds me of watching a lady shopping with her young daughters a few weeks ago. It was one of those vignettes that makes you smile, then makes you think. The daughters were debating which popular "designer" label jacket they should have. The mother was trying to persuade them to accept an article of superior fabric and sturdier construction, and at one point, even offered to sew the "designer" label that each girl desired on them. No one would be the wiser, she contended.

An immediate chorus of outrage from the daughters, impossible, the Ecco has this kind of stitching here, the Bongo doesn't have a pocket there, and so on and so forth. These girls could, and did, describe exhaustively, literally dozens of differences between what appeared, to me, to be two very nearly identical jackets, save for the label.

The mother acknowledged that fine, no pocket over there, stitching over here. However, both are made of flimsy material that will not keep you warm, which is the purpose of a jacket, nor will it hold up to use and washing. You need good warm jackets, and that's what you're getting!

To the girls, the differences between their respective preferred trendy jackets were glaringly obvious, and to them, quite significant. The mother's perspective on the matter was so far from theirs that those differences, whether they existed or not, were irrelevant.

nerdified link

In other, and blessedly fewer words, if by whatever means either party were to cease being "the corporatist party," you gotcha Revolution right there!

We both are quite burdened by rather large "ifs," but our ifs like a lot of the same clothes.

IF the people in the streets agree to wait for a card until it is a good time vis a vis a political system from which they are excluded, and in which few view as having either credibility or legitimacy in large mounts, and IF the increasing number of erstwhile mainstreamers being "downshifted," priced out of housing, after already having been priced out of medical treatment accept their lot meekly, and can be successfully persuaded that it is in fact a privilege to play such an important role in the War on Terror, and IF the first of the Medicare Death Waves can also be manipulated to occur subsequent to the various political activities, and IF there are no major hurricanes that result in cleansing operations that could be less acceptable to the public than the famous Operation Crescent Cleansing, and IF the invasion and occupation of Iran is effected without any reactions that impact "the average American" whoever he is, and IF domestic conflict can be averted, which opens a whole new can of IFS, then it is quite possible that the perfect storm can be navigated, and all will continue on as before, with some very strategic cosmetic and presentation changes, possibly for up to two years, certainly time for a very impressive stack of revenue to be generated to the intended recipients.

I, however, am not confident that any of these IFs, much less all of them in unison, can be counted on, and I could not in good conscience recommend such an eventuality as a sound investment.

On the other hand, both history and present offer ample evidence that the American public will stand for, even stand up and applaud, things that would have sent most populations to the streets long ago.

And I have a very recent history of being wrong. As I concede here".

Duke leans back against his cushion and contemplates with visible delight his gulap jamun nested on a bed of lemon sorbet, sprinkles it with nearly-bitter chocolate, and motions for more pastries to be brought before us. It is true then, that he will permit nothing to interfere with dessert.

"Once again it appears we have reached our inevitable impasse, and as usual, with the utmost respect, agree that we will probably never agree on the ultimate outcome of the simmering caldron discontent.

The one thing I think that brings us both some glimmer of hope is the fact that daily more and more people seem to be wiping the morning dust from their sleepy eyes, awakening to the realization that this situation can no longer go on and something drastic must be done. Perhaps we have not yet reached critical mass yet ...but it looks like we are getting closer."

Ductape nods. Though his dessert participation has been somewhat hobbled, his enjoyment has not, and he offers no rebuttal to Duke's implication that now that the sweets have arrived, the time for debate has concluded.

Dipping lichee nuts onto a slice of Lady Baltimore cake, you find yourself in agreement with them both, and also in agreement that they have both said quite enough. "Stirling Newberry, eat both their dust," is the last thing you can remember about the evening, though you are quite sure that at some point, brandy and a hookah became present...

Spyin' and more spyin'

Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping :
WASHINGTON, May 13 — In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.
Phone companies face massive lawsuits for spying:
The former chief executive of Qwest, the nation's fourth-largest phone company, rebuffed government requests for the company's calling records after 9/11 because of "a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process," his lawyer said yesterday.

The statement on behalf of the former Qwest executive, Joseph P. Nacchio, followed a report that the other big phone companies - AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon - had complied with an effort by the National Security Agency to build a vast database of calling records, without warrants, to increase its surveillance capabilities after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Those companies insisted yesterday that they were vigilant about their customers' privacy, but did not directly address their cooperation with the government effort, which was reported on Thursday by USA Today. Verizon said that it provided customer information to a government agency "only where authorized by law for appropriately defined and focused purposes," but that it could not comment on any relationship with a national security program that was "highly classified."

Legal experts said the companies faced the prospect of lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages over cooperation in the program, citing communications privacy legislation stretching back to the 1930's. A federal lawsuit was filed in Manhattan yesterday seeking as much as $50 billion in civil damages against Verizon on behalf of its subscribers.
Former NSA Officer Alleges Illegal Activities Under Hayden:
A former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency said he plans to tell Senate staffers next week that unlawful activity occurred at the agency under the supervision of Gen. Michael Hayden beyond what has been publicly reported, while hinting that it might have involved the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens.

Russell Tice, who worked on what are known as "special access programs," has wanted to meet in a closed session with members of Congress and their staff since President Bush announced in December that he had secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without a court order. In an interview late Thursday, Tice said the Senate Armed Services Committee finally asked him to meet next week in a secure facility on Capitol Hill.

American Dominatrix

That the U.S. secretary of state is parading around the world in dominatrix drag tells us everything we need to know about the country she is representing – and why the image of the "ugly American" is making an unwelcome comeback. What better outfit for the chief diplomatic official of a nation that routinely threatens other nations with invasion and worse if they don't kowtow to Washington's edicts?

Americans may or may not need a "World Citizens Guide" to advise them on how to dress, talk, and act when traveling abroad and otherwise dealing with foreigners, but surely one specifically written for U.S. government officials is long overdue. It might start by advising Condi to lose the knee-high black leather boots, ditch the dominatrix drag, and then go into the finer points of international etiquette, starting with these three:

  • Stop lecturing foreign governments on their alleged shortcomings in the "democracy" department – especially when, like Russia, they are armed with nuclear weapons, barely emerged out of totalitarian rule, and are bound to resent being labeled as "backsliders."
  • Give up the idea that the U.S. has the "right" to "preempt" alleged threats before they coalesce – otherwise we might be inadvertently encouraging another Pearl Harbor (or, more likely, another 9/11).
  • Start seeing ourselves as others see us. I know it's hard: narcissism has been the leitmotif of American culture in the modern era. But if we take a long hard honest look in the mirror, it might be possible to see how, say, the Iraqis, or the Iranians, might not take too kindly to being involuntarily "liberated." "To thine own self a liberator, to the world an alarming portent," as the writer Garet Garrett put it half a century ago – and that about sums up America's image problem in the world at present.
Nerdifed Link. By the way, if you can kick in a few bucks to, please do. I doubt I and Raimondo would agree on a whole lot, but in terms of our shared distaste for politicians and their cronies who push for more and more carnage around the world, and less and less liberty at home we are definitely on the same page.

Of course an old Guess Who song came to mind while reading Raimondo's column:
American woman, stay away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come hangin’ around my door
I don’t wanna see your face no more
I got more important things to do
Than spend my time growin’ old with you
Now woman, I said stay away,
American woman, listen what I say.

American woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come knockin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, I said get away
American woman, listen what I say.

American woman, said get away
American woman, listen what I say
Don’t come hangin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your face no more
I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be.