Saturday, August 5, 2006

Manifest Destiny: Then and Now

Then:
The phrase was coined in 1845 by journalist John L. O'Sullivan, then an influential advocate for the Democratic Party. In an essay entitled "Annexation" published in the Democratic Review, O'Sullivan urged the United States to annex the Republic of Texas, not only because Texas desired this, but because it was America's "manifest destiny to overspread the continent". Amid much controversy, Texas was annexed shortly thereafter, but O'Sullivan's first usage of the phrase "Manifest Destiny" attracted little attention.

O'Sullivan's second use of the phrase became extremely influential. On December 27, 1845 in his newspaper the New York Morning News, O'Sullivan addressed the ongoing boundary dispute with Great Britain in the Oregon Country. O'Sullivan argued that the United States had the right to claim "the whole of Oregon":
And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.
That is, O'Sullivan believed that God ("Providence") had given the United States a mission to spread republican democracy ("the great experiment of liberty") throughout North America. Because Great Britain would not use Oregon for the purposes of spreading democracy, thought O'Sullivan, British claims to the territory could be disregarded. O'Sullivan believed that Manifest Destiny was a moral ideal (a "higher law") that superseded other considerations, including international laws and agreements.

Nerdified Link
Now:
I offer no justification beyond that I KNOW Israel to be the land promised to us by G_d, and that I KNOW her to have awakened and embarked upon a march to glory.

To deny Israel her place is to deny the sun-rise, or the tides or the exquisite forces of gravity. We might idly ruminate on matters of the world, but to so do marks nothing more than the passage of time.

Israel's destiny is concrete, and here people might justly celebrate at such a time.

Nerdified Link
In his victory speech, Olmert called on Mahmoud Abbas to make peace. But this is an empty gesture. No Palestinian could possibly accept the terms Olmert has in mind. So, if the Palestinians don't show that they are "partners," Olmert wants to "establish Israel's permanent borders unilaterally," meaning that he wants to annex something between 15 percent and 50 percent of the West Bank.

Nerdified Link
In his inaugural speech, Olmert continued to insist that Israel has inalienable historical rights for all the land west of the Jordan River...

[...]

The wall is planned to enclose Greater Jerusalem and most of the main settlement blocks in the West Bank. It will extend deep into the West Bank as far as Maale Adumim, a settlement of 32,000 inhabitants halfway down to Jericho, and in the west to the large city of Ariel, twenty kilometers inside the West Bank. This will not only divide Palestinian Jerusalem residents from their families and businesses outside the city but will, in effect, cut the West Bank into at least two enclaves. Olmert also wants to retain freedom of action in the remaining West Bank against terrorists and maintain a "military presence" in the Jordan Valley. Israel will therefore establish a security zone along the river that will further cut into the West Bank, taking up a considerable amount of territory.

[...]

By contrast, Palestinians were at first encouraged to emigrate and later prevented from buying apartments in the new Israeli suburbs. The municipal government still badly neglects the remaining purely Palestinian neighborhoods. Many are sadly run down. Behind the Mount of Olives and in the Valley of Hinom, below the Old City walls, the Palestinian quarters look more like Cairo slums. Mountains of garbage lie in the street, there are potholes everywhere, no sidewalks, no proper streetlights, and no parks, as there are on the Jewish side. An open sewer runs though muddy streets.

Nerdified Link

Quotable

The Palestinians are the Indians who refuse to live on the reservation; the Negroes who refuse to sit in the back of the bus.
Nerdified link. Make sure to check out the rest.

Israel bombing kills 33 Hezbollah operatives - oops, those were farmworkers.

So, Israel has committed another massacre, this time pounding 33 farmers into the dust and wounding twenty more as they engaged in provocative fruit-picking activity. The new ways of looking at it? First of all, let's not forget that Hezbollah is firing some unguided missiles into Israel. The BBC doesn't. It's front page explains: "An Israeli air raid near the Lebanese-Syrian border kills at least 28, as Hezbollah fires 40 rockets into Israel." Meanwhile, lots of news outlets have a brand new angle: "Israel Severs Lebanon Road Link to Syria" says ABC News. Ditto says the Houston Chronicle. So, how come we never heard or saw the headline: "Hamas severs bus" with the reminder "as Israel continues to brutally occupy Palestine"? Israel expands Lebanon bombing, remarks CBS rather vaguely. The New York Times prefers to be very slightly more specific: Israel expands strikes north of Beirut. Threat to attack Tel Aviv says The Australian, appearing to miss the point entirely.

The fact that this killing was part of an attempt to destroy the aid routes and transport infrastructure is of course indicative that the war continues to be a war against the population - but to notice this would be, well, tasteless.
And God forbid that we be tasteless, eh? Can't have that. Oh no. There might be children present, and besides aren't there more important matters to concentrate on such as who Flavor Flav will hook up with on the second season of his reality show? And of course, we all know that farmworkers in Lebanon are very easy to mistake as terrorists, at bare minimum they undoubtedly are as CNN hunk Anderson Cooper would imply "islamofascists" - anyhoo, they all "look alike" from the perspective of 21st century Orientalists.

"Try new and improved Colonialism: Now with extra ethnic cleansing action!"

Nerdified Link, before I forget.

Say Hello To

Peace Gone Wild.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Quotable: Empire Notes on US commentary and analysis of the Israel/Lebanon war

Perhaps, if all of the commentary and analysis was not so ridiculously biased, the least people would do is acknowledge that a weapon’s accuracy is only one relevant issue; another is the fact that the bombs Israel drops are far more powerful than the piddly Katyusha rockets Hezbollah shoots off at random. A 500-pound bomb has a quarter-mile blast radius; how does one justify using such a weapon against a temporarily placed mobile rocket launcher near apartment buildings?

The ridiculous claims of Israeli moral superiority also rest on the claim that Hezbollah is using civilians as human shields. This is the same refrain we hear any time the United States kills civilians, even after the gruesome bombing of the al-Amariyah bomb shelter in the 1991 Gulf War, which killed about 400 women and children. This is somehow used to shift the blame for the assault onto the enemy.

The truth, as Mitch Prothero of U.S. News and World Report writes, is that, far from using civilians as human shields, Hezbollah goes out of its way to do the opposite. Unlike Hamas and Fatah, for example, members of Hezbollah’s military wing shy away from contact even with their own civilian supporters when they are on military operations.

If the claim is meant to mean simply that Hezbollah conducts its operations in towns and villages, rather than perhaps flying to the Sahara Desert to fight from there, it is true but vacuous. When Israeli ground troops move in, as they have done several times during this war, they shelter in civilian residences as well – as do American troops in Iraq. They don’t remain on open ground, without cover, even though the weapons they face are far less formidable than those Hezbollah faces. If they occasionally salve their consciences by forcing civilians to flee, creating say 1 million refugees who will languish for weeks or months without adequate shelter, food, water, or medical care, then return to homes that have been destroyed by ceaseless shelling, how exactly does one claim that this does not constitute targeting civilians?

Violence is not simply the domain of those who massacre children with high-tech weaponry. The ones who construct convoluted arguments to justify them in the face of facts and reason do violence [too] – to the truth and to humanity.
My emphasis added. And as always, here's the nerdified link.

Must viewing: The Last Plantation

The video can be found here. A description:
Capitol Hill Police Officers Speak Out!

McKinney-Capitol Police incident part of systemic racism of Capitol Police force says African American officers

Capitol Hill is ‘Last Plantation’ according to officers

Atlanta, GA – Cynthia McKinney was deliberately targeted by white U.S. Capitol Police Officers, part of the systemic racism of the U.S. Capitol Police Force say four African American Capitol Officers. The startling revelation, coming a week before her primary run-off against Hank Johnson, came in a video released by Ian Inaba, director of the Sundance award winning American Blackout (which will open early in an exclusive engagement this Friday in Atlanta).

The video shows four anonymous African American officers discussing what they see as the systemic racism of the U.S. Capitol Police Force. In particular, they say, is a double standard that exists for both black officers and Members of Congress – something that leaves the U.S. Capitol as what they term the “last plantation.”

“I know the black members are disrespected, I’ve seen instances where black members are disrespected,” said one officer in the video. “They’ll do things to black Members that they don’t do to white Members.”

Another officer in the video recalls white U.S. Capitol Officers actually preparing to confront African American Members of Congress.

“I’ve heard them say, ‘Well when certain members come through here, in particular Cynthia McKinney, she ain’t just gonna run up these steps. I’m gonna stop her,” said the officer. “It’s almost like they be waiting … want confrontation.”

The McKinney incident was just the latest in a long line of questionable situations and occurrences that are part of what the officers call the “good old boy system” in the Capitol Police Force. They term the Capitol the “last plantation”

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Screw Mel's Apologies

The story started last week with this gem (via Post an Apology and Pandagon):

Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, “You mother f****r. I’m going to f*** you.” The report also says “Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.”

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: “F*****g Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?

The deputy became alarmed as Gibson’s tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?”

A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, “What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits?”

Nice. For those of us who had been saying for a while now that Gibson (son of a Holocaust denier) had an anti-Jewish mindset (perhaps more broadly an anti-semitic mindset), and that his 2004 snuff film (The Passion) itself had an anti-Jewish message, this latest incident is merely one more piece of evidence.

As far as the multiple apologies, screw it. The excuses that it was "just the alcohol talking" are just that, lame excuses. I've heard them enough times before to know the con. Alcohol affects parts of the brain that control judgment and decision making, as well as inhibitions. With judment clouded and inhibitions reigned in, Gibson was merely letting it all hang out. Gibson may have good reason to be embarrassed, if not ashamed of his behavior, but there is little doubt that on some level he meant precisely what he said to those officers.

Hopefully the dude is able to get himself back into recovery. That he's trying to go it alone apparently is not a good sign on that front. Recovery from addictions is something that typically requires support, fellowship. The attitudes that he's apparently harbored for a lifetime might be a bit harder to combat - and would require that he first admit that he has a problem. I'm more hopeful of him getting back on the wagon than I am of him doing the work necessary to deal with his bigotry.

Must reading:

Effective Counter Attack-Part IV; Correcting Common Misconceptions About Nonviolent Action

Check out the other diaries in the series.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Can you say, "oops"?

Hasan Dib Nasrallah is now in Israeli custody. So you heard about that brilliant Israeli special forces' operation in Ba`albak. So Israeli Orientalists as you all know think that there is one Mahmud Husayn in the entire Arab world, and one Muhammad `Ali. New TV just explained the "daring" Israeli operation at a hospital, HOSPITAL, in Ba`albak. So Israel "was told" that there is a certain Hasan Nasrallah at the hospital. The very commander of the airforce was put in charge to plan this daring kidnapping of Hasan Nasrallah. Well, it was a civilian by the name of Hasan Dib Nasrallah. They kidnapped other civilians along with him. Of course, the Nation magazine gives Israel the right for those kidnapping because it is all part of "its right to self-defense." Hasan Dib Nasrallah is now in Israeli custody wondering why he was kidnapped. In that "daring raid" Israeli occupation soldiers also kidnapped Muhammad Nasrallah, a shepherd, but later released him. He was 14. Israeli Orientalists thought that Hasan Nasrallah is a bit older. Later, to cover the fiasco, the Israeli army claimed that they kidnapped "members of Hizbullah." Even that claim was a lie, says New TV which investigated the story and interviewed the family members. The kidnapped Lebanese are poor construction workers.

PS. This is really something. The commander of the Israeli Special Forces still claimed in a press conference that the "operation" worked according to plan. What does that mean? That the Israeli government has been really trying the capture Hasan Dib Nasrallah, not to to be confused with Hasan Nasrallah, the Hizbullah leader?
Nerdified Link.

Manure: The New Black Gold

Panda Ethanol Inc. has secured nearly US$160 million in financing to build an ethanol plant that will be fired by mountains of manure in Hereford, a cattle town in the Texas panhandle. "We've located a project in what I would call the Saudi Arabia of manure," said Todd Carter, the company's chief executive officer. The plant will gasify 1 billion pounds of manure a year to make 100 million gallons of ethanol. The manure will save the plant nearly 365,000 barrels of oil equivalent per year. Panda hopes to get it running by late next year.
Props to Knoxville Progressive.

Here's something about Cuba you might not knowg

Meet Raúl's daughter: Mariela Castro

Mariela Castro is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana and an activist for LGBT rights in Cuba. She is the daughter of first vice president Raúl Castro.


Daughter of Raúl Castro and niece of Cuba's President Fidel Castro, Mariela Castro is leading a Cuban revolution less well known than her Uncle Fidel's: one in favour of sexual tolerance within the island's macho society. Claudia Daut/Reuters

Her group campaigns for effective AIDS prevention as well as acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality, transvestism, and transsexualism.


LGBT rights in Cuba


Nerdified link.

Did "Serbia with nukes" have its "Budapest moment"?

Sirocco and Lenin's Tomb have their take on recent events surrounding Israel's latest war atrocities.

"Otherwise hot and dusty"

The title was veteran San Antonio weather forecaster Dow Sherry's signature sign-off line back in the 1970s (he was at KSAT at the time). The same phrase could also describe what's in store for the nation for the foreseeable future. For example, via the AP, the following:
For the next week, much of the nation should expect more "extreme heat," the National Weather Service predicts.

_In the month of August, most of the United States will see "above normal temperatures," forecasters say.

_For the long-term future, the world will see more and worse killer heat waves because of global warming, scientists say.
That's pretty straight and to the point. The same article goes on to state:
A persistent high pressure system in the upper atmosphere prevents cooler jetstream air, from making it into the West, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Feltgen. "You can't tie global warming into one single event," he said.

But what global warming has done is make the nights warmer in general and the days drier, which help turn merely uncomfortably hot days into killer heat waves, Trenberth said.

Much of global warming science concentrates on average monthly and yearly temperatures, but recent studies in the past five years show that climate change is at its most dangerous during extreme events, such as high temperatures, droughts and flooding, he said.

"These (heat) events always occur. What global warming does is push it up another notch," Trenberth said.

And the computer models show that soon, we'll get many more — and hotter — heat waves that will leave the old Dust Bowl records of the 1930s in the dust, said Ken Kunkel, director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Illinois State Water Survey.

The way to really judge will be when scientists look back a decade from now, not at a single heat wave, but at the frequency and extremes of all of them, said Mike Wallace, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. That's when scientists will likely see a statistically significant increase in heat waves and their severity, he said. In fact, he said, that can be seen a bit now.

In the past 25 years most of the world, has seen summer nights getting much warmer with far less evening heat relief, according to a study published earlier this year in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research.

Another study this year by the Climate Research Unit in East Anglia, Great Britain, concluded that European summer heat waves "have increased in frequency at most stations since 1880" and will continue to increase with man-made global warming.
Having recently returned from a California vacation, I can say that having to deal with persistent heat day after day for weeks is far from pleasant. Since power companies tend to see these sorts of episodes as excuses to jack up the cost of electricity, relief from the heat via a/c or electric fans can be prohibitively costly for those on tight budgets. Long-time southern California denizens will tell you they've never experienced anything quite like this summer, and from what I've read, the numbers support what they've perceived.

A couple things seemed to be happening out there: for much of July a high pressure ridge was preventing the normal marine layer to develop, which usually keeps temps very comfortable along the coast and usually tolerable even in the inland valleys (credit the normally cool ocean water temps in the mid to upper 60s for that). Without that marine layer acting as a natural air conditioner, temps soared to levels more fitting for Needles or Death Valley than for the San Fernando Valley. One of my close friends who's lived out in Baldwin Park most of his life told me that the usual June gloom that southern Californians take for granted never occurred this year - perhaps the best one could say is that it got pushed back to May. The other thing I noticed was that the water was unusually warm along the coast (pretty hard not to notice as I was at various beaches between Laguna and Sta. Barbara during my stay), and that as a result even when the marine layer redeveloped a few days ago it merely pushed the humidity inland without any real relief from the heat. I also noticed that the nights definitely were not as cool as I had been accustomed to when I lived out that way during the mid 1980s through mid-1990s. As I've commented to several friends, get past the palm trees and the traffic (and of course the lack of any appreciable wind), and I could have sworn that I'd never left the great plains.

Come to think of it, I seem to recall that the region has definitely seen more weather extremes than it used to receive. The old "LA Story" stereotype of the weather forecaster who films his forecasts a week in advance no longer quite applies.

But as I am an Oklahoma resident and blogger, perhaps I should note that we've had our own heat waves and droughts to deal with - though thankfully some relief has come our way in recent weeks in the way of near normal temperatures and some actual measurable precip. My guess is that we're in for shorter winters, warmer nights, longer and more severe heat waves, and more years in which the panhandle resembles desert more than it does prairie given some of what I've been reading as of late.

I'm hardly optimistic about "reversing" global warming, as I suspect that whatever damage we humans have inflicted over the last century or so has already been done. Maybe we can do some things to minimize future damage and to adjust to what is likely to be a hotter and dustier environment.

Props to Captain Future and Okie Funk for the links to the source material cited.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Say Hello To

Blue Oklahoma. It's a community blog using a Soapblox platform (much like My Left Wing), and is just getting started.