Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Racists in high places

This deserves highlighting in full:
Max has noticed a lot of dissing of the dusky. So have I. So has The General. So has Steve Gilliard. The Republicans have spent years teaching us that black leaders are to be laughed at, sneered at, barked at. The Lieberman crowd has learned it well.
Avedon's right on the money with her title, this is depressing. Not surprising, really, but depressing nonetheless. The TNR crowd might as well don their white sheets now, as they've been doing so in spirit for a while.

Of course The General's wickedly funny take on Peretz' racist screed is a must read. You'll want the comic relief. Trust me.

Word

Rest assured world, you are not going to die on a plane today. Perhaps the British did thwart an attempt to destroy more lives and more planes; perhaps al-Qaeda was going to strike again and our anti-terror efforts have made good, and not for the first time. But this is what our anti-terrorism officials are supposed to do. They don’t just sit around all day pointing to pictures of 9/11 and go, “See? See??” That’s the job of the Associated Press, Reuters, FoxNews, CNN and MSNBC.

Listen to Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security: “We believe that these arrests have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted.’’ In other words, there may still be people out there who want to destroy you. It’s the same message we’ve been getting for years now: Live in fear, be afraid, and do it because this is your life now.

This is the same Michael Chertoff who said that government planners had not envisioned the disaster that Katrina left New Orleans in, even though scores of officials, on all levels, before him gave the opposite view.

Why all the grim messages? First of all; it’s the media’s job to envision armageddon. If the apocaplypse were to go down tomorrow, it would be the greatest single event for journalists everywhere. They would sit around for decades afterwards talking about it. All the major stations would be falling all over themselves to carry the most up to date reports on the breaking of the seals, the trumpets, and four pale horses.

Second: we have a government involved in a massive fear campaign the likes of which we have never experienced in America before. We are used to our oppressors throwing us in jail and taking away our civil liberties, which the Cheney/Rumsfeld Administration has done to foreigners. For us, a much more subtle, and dangerous, oppression has been reserved, the oppression of our minds. The oppression of fear. Fear causes inaction, apathy, and allows us to hand over to others certain things we would never hand over in the first place. Why would we sit here and allow Bush to wire-tap our phones and listen to our private conversations were it not for the fear instilled in all of us since 9/11? Any other president would have been impeached. Impeached because Americans do not delay in removing threats to our government and our freedoms. We’re not so sure what’s what now. The moment came and went, with only “fringe” people suggesting impeachment as the course of action. You know what? They had something.

Nerdified Link. My emphasis added.

Oddly enough, I've been reading Alan Moore & David Lloyd's V for Vendetta, as well as viewing the dvd based on the graphic novel. Suffice it to say, I have more than my share of observations from the experience. For now, I'll merely say you owe it to yourself to at least rent or buy the dvd. One thing that the movie does very well in particular is in its depiction of the methods a fascist state will use to keep its citizens in a state of fear.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

White House Plays Footsie With Christian Zionists

But Brog maintains that CUFI represents a novel phenomenon in evangelical politicking. Though CUFI's constituency is almost entirely Republican, Brog says the success of its banquet reflects the increasing importance of Israel to evangelical voters. "It took AIPAC over fifteen years to get over 2,000 people to their annual policy conference. The fact that in five months that we got over 3,000 people to our conference and were turning people away--it sent a message. It's one thing to say, 'Hey, I support Israel among the other issues I support.' It's another to cancel your vacation and fly to Washington and say, 'I'm here, I'm a Christian activist and Israel's more important to me than any other issue.' "

Brog has revealed several "meet and greet" sessions between CUFI and the Bush Administration that highlight the elevated importance of Christian Zionism in GOP-dominated Washington. At the White House, Brog and CUFI's representatives have professed their support for Israel's military campaign in Lebanon and, in Brog's words, "spoke to the Administration about Iran and the need to prevent arms from going to Iran and Hamas, and the need not to let any US aid go to Hamas."

Brog explains that CUFI has become a valuable ally of AIPAC, which helps them coordinate lobbying efforts. "They have a great research staff," he said. Brog has also earned the confidence of the Jewish Federation by making sure to elicit the cooperation of its local chapters before initiating a recruitment drive in the federation's area. "I have absolutely no reservation about working with John Hagee," Houston-area Jewish Federation CEO Lee Wunsch told the Jerusalem Post.

AIPAC spokesman Josh Block declined to answer questions about the extent of CUFI's influence. But he offered a positive, if somewhat canned assessment of their lobbying efforts. "That organization is evidence of the broad American support for the US-Israel relationship that exists in every segment of American society," Block told me. "AIPAC welcomes all organizations working to strengthen the bond between the United States and Israel."

But CUFI is not just any pro-Israel organization.

Nerdified Link.

Christians United For Israel just happens to be part of the extremist wing of the Christian faith that happens to believe the Tribulation and "Second Coming" of Christ are just around the corner. Remember that these folks still think Jews are going to go to Hell. Israel exists only as the background in the greater drama that End-Timers believe is portrayed in the Book of Revelation. If the state of Israel in its current form were to cease to exist, that would put a serious monkey wrench into their fantasy life - as well create a serious void in the bank accounts of those who are profitting from it.

Remember: Sore Loserman is Just Another Neoconman

The defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut’s Democratic party primary was the occasion for some characteristic whining from the losing candidate — a proclivity that earned him the sobriquet “Sore Loserman.” Now he’s confirming what we all knew — he’s a two-time sore loser-man. Not content to accept the verdict of his own party, he’s jumping ship and running as an “independent,” i.e. a Neocon Democrat — a very narrow constituency, and one that is getting rapidly narrower, much to Hillary Clinton’s (and Marshall Wittmann’s) chagrin.

Loserman’s defeat is a major rebuke to the War Party: his opponent, Ned Lamont, campaigned almost exclusively on the issue of opposition to the Iraq war. Loserman, on the other hand, refused to abandon his pro-war position, and defended his stance at every opportunity. If ever there was a referendum on the war, then this was it: but Loserman — who famously ascribed the verdict of the voters in 2000 to “the rule of the mob” — can’t accept the judgement of his own party. Instead, he smeared Lamont and his supporters in his non-concession speech — “Every disagreement is considered disloyal. And every opponent it is not just an opponent but is seen as evil” — and whined that he fell victim to “insults” instead of a fair debate of “ideas.”

But the election was about ideas — Lieberman’s ideas about foreign policy, which proved such a disastrous failure in Iraq and are rejected by the majority of Americans. And as for charges of disloyalty, it was Lieberman, you remember, who said that criticism of Bush during wartime “undermines presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”

We can expect more of the same — and worse — during the general election. Get ready for charges of “extremism” directed at Lamont. This, coming from the co-chair of the extremist Committee on the Present Danger, is a charge that no one can take too seriously. But that won’t stop the Lieberman-Beinart-neocon wing of the party from trying.

Nerdified Link

In an election year, don't be neoconned

In the coming hours and days, we can expect the corporate media, eager stenographers for the neocon plan, to connect the dots—blame will be affixed to Iran, Syria, and their “proxy,” Hezbollah, through “al-Qaeda,” now dedicated (or scripted) to help Hezbollah, not that the homegrown resistance group needs any help, especially from a CIA-ISI engineered terror group.

Finally, as attention has now shifted to Muslim bad guys (either imagined or a parade of patsies), Israel will likely increase the severity of its criminal behavior against the civilians of Lebanon and those of Gaza as well, as the American public will be navel gazing video footage of inconvenienced air travel passengers.


Nerdified Link. Remember, your government wants you to be afraid. There are GOP majorities to be maintained here in the US, after all.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Throw the bums out!

Here's an interesting story:
Voters Ready to Dump Incumbents in Congress: Poll

American voters are as ready to dump incumbent lawmakers as they were just before they handed control of Congress to Republicans in 1994, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday.

Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, stand to lose the most in the November elections because of strong anti-incumbent sentiment and they trail Democrats in support among registered voters, the poll showed.

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed called themselves "anti-incumbent" -- nearly the same as the 54 percent who identified themselves as such in the summer of 1994 when Congress was still under the Democrats' control.
Nerdified Link

The bums have certainly done their damage, from enabling the past two administrations to erode civil liberties and civil rights, to engage in costly and unnecessary wars, to burden our future generations with unpayable debts, ad nauseum. Time to toss 'em out.

Quotable

"You look into the abyss, but you don't want to be stuck there. Otherwise your imagination is deadened and defeated by the very event you're studying. So you want to look into it in order to see beyond it. If you don't look into it, you are ostrich-like. If you get stuck there, you're incapacitated. So you want to look beyond it to other human possibilities."

Robert Jay Lifton, MD

Sore Loserman

Humphrey Bogart films be damned ... a kiss is not just a kiss.

Of course it would be better to be able to merely say "Loserman", but true to form, Bu$hCo's favorite "Democrat" gave a nonconcession concession speech:
"The old politics of polarization won today," he said. "For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand."

Nerdified Link
"As I see it in this campaign, we just finished the first half and the Lamont team is ahead. But in the second half our team, Team Connecticut, is going to surge forward to victory in November," Lieberman said. Then he shouted, "Will you join me?"

Nerdified Link
As you might have gathered from Monday's post, I harbor no illusions as to who or what Lamont is. This particular primary was not really about the individuals involved as it was about sending a message from a grassroots to the powers that be that business as usual is no longer acceptable. If this very small step energizes more folks to stand up and be counted, then all the better.

Lieberman, like the rest of the Democrats' war hawks, have operated on a politics of fear for too long: fear of being called names by Republicans, fear of losing campaign contributions, fear of the unknown. That fear has paralyzed the Democrat party to the point that its limbs have atrophied, and it is that politics of fear that has grown old.

Fear, like hate, tend to be destructive in the battle of ideas and ideals.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

What you might not have known about the bombing of Nagasaki

Well, I think the thing that astonished him the most -- I mean, there were many things that he found astonishing. Remember, he went in there four weeks, almost to the minute, after the bomb was dropped, which was on the 6th of September in mid-morning, is when he arrived. And he was struck obviously by several things, by the physical appearance of the city, which was still smoldering here and there, by the surgical precision of the bomb itself. Later, he was to learn that, in fact, a great deal of damage had been done not just by the bomb, but by the fires that erupted because people were cooking their midday meal when the bomb hit, and a number of wooden residences just caught fire, and the fire spread. So, in a way, it was kind of like a Dresden.

And as he went around the ruins of the city and rapidly began visiting all of the hospital facilities that still existed, I know he was struck immediately, first by the absence of any American medical personnel there – four weeks later, there were still no doctors or nurses – and then, by the great precision and care with which the Japanese doctors had already catalogued the effects of the bomb on individual organs of the body.

And over the next few days, he was as astonished as the Japanese doctors were, of course, by what he referred to in his reports as “Disease X.” It was perhaps not so astonishing to see some of the scorches and burns that people had suffered, but to see people apparently unblemished at all by the bomb, who had seemingly survived intact, suddenly finding themselves feeling unwell and going to hospital, sitting there on their cots surrounded by doctors and relatives who could do nothing, and finding when he would go back the next day that they had just died, or that -- let's say a woman who had come through unscathed making dinner for her husband and having the misfortune to make a very small cut in her finger while peeling a lemon, would just keep bleeding, and bleed to death, because the platelets in her bloodstream had been so reduced that the blood couldn’t clot anymore.

So there were case after case like this, and in a way, I think my father found them more poignant than the obvious destruction or the obvious burn victims, because here was a whole team of Japanese doctors, very able, very aware from long before the war had started about the potentials of radiation, absolutely baffled. And he had a wonderful phrase he used. He said the effects of the bomb uncured because -- excuse me, the effects of “Disease X,” which is what they were calling it, uncured because it is untreated, and untreated because it is undiagnosed.
Nerdified Link. Apparently the late George Weller's censored coverage of the aftermath in Nagasaki will be published in book form later this year.

See also, here for some more thoughts on the 61st anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and their importance in our present international political situation.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Holy Joe vs. Lamont: Some Much-Needed Perspective

A wise blogger today notices that tomorrow's Connecticut's Senatorial primary election is not about either politician - they're merely the props in terms of something bigger:

Since whoever wins will be just fine with our 51st State’s war of aggression, and presumably will also work hard to protect the defense industry in the Nutmeg state, what does it matter who wins?

Both claim to be pro-choice. Both claim to be pro-environment. Both are apparently pro-corporate. Holy Joe plainly needs to go, his fake-liberal act long since gone stale. His pandering to cultural reactionaries (oh, those damned evil records/videos/video games/hollywood movies!), Israel and jingoistic warhawks have served only to enable the Republican Right’s ascendence over the last couple of decades, a result no-doubt the hoped for result of his recruitment by William F Buckley’s to shove Lowell Weicker out of office when Lieberman was the relatively unknown challenger years ago. Will Ned Lamont be any more liberal, any better?

Time will tell, but merely elevating someone new to the Senate isn’t why I care about tomorrow. Lamont’s not, in the short term, very important. What matters is the small, halting signs that supine voters are picking themselves off off their beggar’s pallets and taking their first tentative steps to impose themselves back into the political process in this country. What a Lieberman loss could mean, maybe, is a revival of the kind of populism that arose from the Depression, that flooded the streets after the First World War, that demanded the vote for women and for the descendents of slaves. A populism that was betrayed by the party-of-the-people when that party pursued a war on the impoverished in Southeast Asia at the same time it claimed to be waging a War on Poverty here in America. Neverending war and imperialism continues onward, pursued by both parties, leaving schools unbuilt, homes un-provided, cures un-delivered. Perhaps the people, the populace, are realizing once again that they have a stake, that they needn’t be mere beggars hoping for crumbs in the gutter.

[...]

It is in tomorrow’s hoped-for rejection of Lieberman (and it’s in no way assured ... don’t underestimate the probability of wingers and righty-zionists registering as Democrats in an attempt to save Lieberman) that we may be seeing the return of the supine voter to her feet. A victory here may provide the strength to enable the casting aside of crutches, the fear of standing up, the hesitation that years and generations of agitprop from the rabid right and the lazy corporate media have instilled in average people, average people who know in their heart of hearts that we’re better off if government really is of and by and for the people, not in service of big money and rigid business plans.

It is in voters who hope for a better Connecticut, and for a better United States, that I look with a shakey smile at on August 8th. Lamont will only be good for Connecticut, good for the country, if he’s held to account in his new office. Here is a plea for those voters who pull the lever for Lamont tomorrow that they will demand that he help them end wasteful war, help them pry healthcare out of the greedy paws of the insurance and hospital industries and back into the commonweal, help them call for cleaner energy and a redirection of our precious resources to making life in this country better, NOT just toward making the rich richer.

Cast aside those crutches and lift your heads voters ... you CAN fight city hall, but you have to do it together. A choir joined in song can drown out the amplified jingoists and exploiters. THAT is why tomorrow matters, not the personalities involved. Perhaps I look east toward New England in a vain hope, but in these dark days, flickering hopes are the only way to keep looking toward the future.

My emphasis added. As an Okie on the outside looking in, I don't for a moment doubt that Lieberman and his GOP cronies have a dirty trick or two still up their sleeves, and hence take nothing for granted. Hopefully, tomorrow will be worthy of a small celebration. Time will tell...

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Quotable: Sun Ra

"nuclear war / it's a motherfucker / don't you know / if they push that button / your ass got to go"

Sixty-one years ago. Never forget.

Look mummy, there's an aeroplane up in the sky"

Oooooooo ooo ooo ooooh(x 3)
Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter
With the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?

Oooooooo ooo ooo ooooh (x 3)
Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on.

Goodbye, blue sky
Goodbye, blue sky.
Goodbye.(x 3)

"Goodbye Blue Sky" - The Wall - Pink Floyd - 1979


In my rear view mirror the sun is going down
Sinking behind bridges in the road
And I think of all the good things
That we have left undone
And I suffer premonitions
Confirm suspicions
Of the holocaust to come.

The rusty wire that holds the cork
That keeps the anger in
Gives way
And suddenly it's day again.
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done.
Two suns in the sunset
Hmmmmmmmmmm
Could be the human race is run.

Like the moment when the brakes lock
And you slide towards the big truck
"Oh no!"
You stretch the frozen moments with your fear.
[scream]
And you'll never hear their voices
"Daddy, Daddy!"
And you'll never see their faces
You have no recourse to the law anymore.

And as the windshield melts
My tears evaporate
Leaving only charcoal to defend.
Finally I understand the feelings of the few.
Ashes and diamonds
Foe and friend
We were all equal in the end.

"...and now the weather. Tomorrow will be cloudy with scattered showers
spreading from the east ... with an expected high of 4000 degrees
Celsius"

"Two Suns in the Sunset" - The Final Cut - Pink Floyd - 1983

Two lyrics that I thought seemed as timely as ever. Not my favorite period of Floyd musically (they pretty much petered out after about 1975), but those two songs were high points on their respective albums.

Top photo nicked from this review of "Orignal Child Bomb", by Madman in the Marketplace.