Saturday, October 28, 2006

Israel and Apartheid

Also via Cursor:
Democratic party leaders are reportedly "rushing to repudiate" former President Carter's upcoming book on the Middle East, which accuses Israel of maintaining an apartheid system in Palestine.
Well, Jimmy's a little late to the party, but if that's really what he's writing these days, good on him I suppose. As one of a number of college students back in the 1980s who was vocally protesting South Africa's Apartheid regime, part of my education at the time was learning about the Israeli treatment of Palestinians - pertinent partially at the time as Israel was one of a small group of nations that supported the Apartheid system in South Africa (the other was of course the good ol' U S of A). Things have only grown worse for the Palestinians in the past couple decades, as Israel has continued to consolidate its land grab and has worked overtime to partition those remaining Palestinian in such a way as to deny them even the basics for survival. Unfortunately, criticism of Israel's Apartheid seems to be verbotten in the US - one gets accused of antisemitism among other things for so much as suggesting that supporting a notorious abuser of human rights is a bad thing. But so it goes. Israel is a sacred cow to both of the large US political parties, and I suspect those in the Democratic Party are only acting in their predictable knee-jerk fashion.


Via Cursor:
Acknowledging that the U.S. has employed water-boarding, Vice President Cheney calls it "a no-brainer for me," after an interviewer characterized the technique as "a dunk in water." And Paul Craig Roberts asks: 'If Enron's Skilling gets 24 years in prison, how many should Bush and Cheney get?'
Well, to me, prison sentences for those responsible for allowing torture to happen - including Bush & Cheney is a no-brainer. A dunk in the water? That's what these folks think waterboarding is? Anyone falling for that needs to consider something I presented earlier this month: What Waterboarding Looks Like. There you'll see pictures of actual waterboards as well as a torture survivor's artistic rendering of the practice of waterboarding. Why don't we just call waterboarding and other forms of torture what they really are: terrorism.


In the "you can't make this stuff up" category:
A more colorful manifestation of the evangelicals disillusionment than the poll is the sermons of Houston-based evangelical preacher K.A. Paul. Here are some of the things he is running around the country saying about Iraq:

' The Houston-based preacher said he believes that the Bush administration has delayed the second coming because U.S. foreign policy has blocked Christian missionaries from working in Iraq, Iran and Syria. . . "Somebody needs to say enough is enough," he said to worshippers who stood, waved and called out in support. . . Paul, who claimed to support conservative political leaders in the past, is launching "a crusade to save America from the wrath of God and Republicans abusing their power," according to his press materials. . . "God is mad at this country," Paul told the congregation. He described the war in Iraq as "unnecessary genocide."

Can you say, "amen!" and "halleluja!"?
You read that correctly: there's an evangelical preacher who's contending that the Iraq war is bad for the soul saving business, and that the much-prayed-for Second Coming of Christ has been delayed as a consequence - further, the GOP is to blame.

Anyhoo, the article is filled with interesting tidbits about the decreased support that the evangelical Christian community gives the Iraq war debacle, and how that may effect the GOP efforts to maintain a Congressional majority in either house this year. As I noted a few days ago, the evangelicals tend to be among the most authoritarian of voters, and as such had been among the most politically alienated until the GOP began courting them in earnest a couple decades ago. If they feel like they've been punked by the same party that they've given unyielding support all this time, they may start to generally go back to their previous nonvoting ways this November.

The same article also opens for discussion the role that the mass media in the US play in supporting the ruling political party, and how election seasons tend to temporarily allow for a narrow range of opposing viewpoints to make their way into our homes and into our churches.

Friday, October 27, 2006

From the "Must Not See TV Department: The Dixie Chicks ad NBC doesn't want you to see

From Think Progress:

NBC is refusing to air an ad for the new Dixie Chicks documentary, “Shut Up & Sing.” Variety reports, “NBC’s commercial clearance department said in writing that it ‘cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.’”

Harvey Weinstein, who is distributing the movie, issued the following statement:

It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American.

The documentary, which opens this weekend in LA & NYC and in two weeks nationwide, has its own myspace page: Shut Up & Sing. My wife's a huge fan of theirs & will probably drag me to see this if it makes its way to Guymon. I'm not much of a country fan - there are a couple artists I like okay - but I do admire this particular group's willingness to express themselves at a time when to do so was and is unpopular, especially in C&W circles.

That NBC won't air the ad is hardly surprising. Any pretense of balance in the mass media died back in the 1980s when the fair use doctrine was killed off. The quality of network television took a nosedive in the years after that particular decision - it's obvious both in advertising choices made by the networks as well as in such areas as newscasts (which increasingly seem like something more befitting Stalinist USSR). It's definitely past time to revive fair use. Whether a Democrat majority in Congress would be up to that task remains to be seen.

Class act

The Unapologetic Mexican has it right on: the GOP tactics to hold onto power along with the brazen hypocrisy are nothing particularly shocking or outragious so much as they are sad, pathetic. Whether it's playing the race card in political ads or via voter intimidation, mocking the disabled, involvement in corruption and coverups thereof, or sayin' one thing while doin' another, this is just the same sorry shit during a different election year. The folks presumably running DC aren't bad news, bad asses, or even gettin' down with their bad selves - they're scared that Barnum won't be right enough this time around and that the status quo could change. They're scared of Karma kicking them in the ass. Nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

GOP and White Supremacy

go together like peanut butter and jelly:

Now -- despite Corker's disavowal of the racially-questionable tactics in the bimbo spot -- we get this new spot with the tom-toms. Apparently this one doesn't go "too far" for Corker at all.

We contacted WGOW radio to ask about the ad after reader C.C. wrote in telling us that he'd overheard two local talk show hosts discussing the ad:

This morning about 6:45 I'm getting ready for work and have the radio tuned to the local mega talk station. The hosts are talking about the heat that the Corker/RNC ads are picking up, but are pretty neutral on them themselves, suggesting that the ruckus--and the suggestions of racism--are overblown. They're going through some callers, when one says, "That's nothing. Have you heard the jungle drums on the radio ad?"...

So they play it, and, sure enough, the caller's right. Soaring music underneath the copy when discussing Corker's merits, jungle-like drumming when cutting to Ford's demerits. The hosts were stone-silent when it finished, until one whistled, and said, "Damn." They both agreed that the drumming--and the intent--was obvious.

The talk show hosts, apparently, did think the ad may have gone just a bit too far. The Corker campaign didn't immediately return a call for comment.

You can listen to the ad right here.


Must be Junior Caligula's lucky number or something - he sure uses it enough.

Remembering Paul Wellstone

via Marisacat:

Tasini on Wellstone, who died a 4 years ago today with his wife, daughter and everyone else in the plane:

[H]e was the only senator running for re-election who had the courage to vote against the Iraq war resolution. And it wasn’t an easy political vote–he was in a tough re-election race but one that I believe he would have won because ultimately Minnesota voters, even those who didn’t always agree with him, respected his integrity and authenticity. Frankly, had he been alive today, I think there would be a huge movement to get him to take up the banner as the progressive candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination (though, with his typical self-deprecating humor, Paul once dismissed his chances of running for president, saying, “I’m short, I’m Jewish and I’m a liberal”) While other senators who want to grab the nomination explain their vote for the war resolution as one that was cast because they were lied to or because of “false intelligence,” Paul had the moral compass to understand that attacking Iraq was immoral, unnecessary and would lead to the pointless deaths of tens of thousands of people.

What would an America be like if Sen. Paul Wellstone had still been in the U.S. Senate? Well, for one thing, Republican Norm Coleman would not be a U.S. Senator. You can bet Paul would have led a filibuster fight against the nominations of now-Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts. My guess is that he would also have stood with Russ Feingold and called for the censure of the president–a position that no other Democrats have the courage to take. [snip]

Blogger seems to be bloggering

I've had some problems viewing blogs via blogger or accessing my account periodically today. Must have given my head cold to the server.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I couldn't pass this up:

An Urgent Appeal for Humanitarian Intervention

655,000 dead, government death squads wiping out families, mass starvation and malnourishment; the government is venal and corrupt, promotes fanatical sectarianism, and hides the true scale of deaths; so far 1.6 million people have had to become refugees. I think we can safely call this a humanitarian catastrophe, so when are the Americans going to invade?

Oh, wait...

Oliver North vs. Nicaragua: The Sequel

A capsule summary via Eli:
This just in:
Oliver North visits Nicaragua, warns against Ortega's possible return to power

Oliver North, the former White House aide at the heart of the Iran-Contra controversy, commented Monday on presidential elections that could return Daniel Ortega to office, warning Nicaraguans against returning to a past of war and foreign intervention.
And, I ask you, what says "no foreign intervention" like a convicted felon from an imperialist country who helped overthrow the government of your country once before, showing up and "warning" you about what you should and shouldn't do?
Nope. You really can't make this stuff up.

In our country, a convicted felon involved in, say, something like the Iran-Contra arms scandal gets rewarded with all sorts of goodies including the freedom to roam across the globe "warning" other sovereign nations prior to their elections.

Something catching my attention

Well, today I'm here at home sick with that nasty head cold my daughters have had for the better part of a week. While I feel like death on a plate I've been trying to do a bit of reading - not going so well needless to say.

Anyhoo, through the haze I stumbled on to the following, commenting on the character of the loyal opposition to the Bu$hCo regime:
How long will it take until we can return to the top-dog days when the rest of the world hewed, or at least made like it was hewing, to our every national whim?

For the following I'll probably stand accused of calumnious decontextualization, but frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn. For all the cry and bluster about the human toll of America's current war regime, the principle concern of the mainstream opponents of the George W. Bush foreign policy apparatus is that it has diminished American power. Whereas some of us--libertarians and far leftists principally--opposed the foreign meddling from the outset as immoral and illegal, the mainstays of the current opposition opposed it at first only because they felt that the specific public justifications were dishonest and later because it additionally didn't work. I remain entirely unconvinced that the majority of Democratic opposition to the war in Iraq would have either materialized or lasted long if Baghdad were less bloody today, even though, as Arthur points out to infinity and beyond, it was murder with the first death, a crime increasing only in magnitude as time went by.

The rationale is that American democracy remains the number-one model for free society, and we must lead, as they saying goes, by example. I ask you: given the current fruits of American democracy, and who can honestly argue that the current government is anything other than the native fruit of that thorny tree, how on earth do you propose that it would be valuable for the US to reacquire whatever influence it may have lost? Shall we turn every other country on to our example, so that a few centuries hence each and every nation on earth can be ruled by a blood-soaked moron who dreams the King James but doesn't understand a word because they all talk so fuckin' funny?
My emphasis added. The assumption of American Exceptionalism has a certain feel-good quality for a nation that has become addicted to boosting self-esteem at all costs. It would be wonderful to harbor the belief that the US is a gentle giant with good intentions that has temporarily lost its way, and will redeem itself once King George is deservedly given the heave-ho. If only that were true. There are too many victims of US economic and military power - past and present - who would beg to differ. Indeed, one of the dirty little secrets is that the US reputation had been sullied long before Bu$hCo. True, the current White House regime is especially noxious, and any mild check on the power the White House attempts to wield would be an improvement - but let's not fool ourselves. The projected Democrat majorities in the House and possibly Senate (if they come to pass - as efforts to thwart democracy at home in the form of gerrymandering and fraud are indeed arduous hurdles to clear) will perhaps take some of the edge off - a lame duck White House will I hope do less damage at home and abroad. But as long as the fundamental mentality that characterizes the elites of both parties remains the same, there will be no stomach for the fundamental changes in the way our government does business that the decades of state terrorism our rulers have perpetrated will come to an end once and for all.

In the mean time, perhaps we'll see a return to those more "humane" forms of genocide such as economic sanctions and such against our designated enemies du jour rather than the bomb 'em all and let God sort 'em out policy that has characterized six years of absolute GOP rule. As for habeas corpus rights, the unPatriot Act, illegal wiretapping etc., I won't exactly be holding my breath for any return of those civil rights and liberties that have been decimated this decade. As far as spreading our version of "democracy" to the rest of the world - God help any nation that catches our particular disease.

"Iraq - The Real Story": A Film By Sean Smith

"Victory" never looked so hollow.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Class act

"You could always stay at my place. I'm always here, I'm always lonely, and I'm always up for oral sex."

- Former Rep. Mark Foley (R) emailing a former page asking for info about hotels in DC
Nerdified link.

By the numbers

2,799 = Total US Deaths in Iraq
20,687 = Total US Wounded in Iraq
44,779 = Total US Non-Fatal Casualties in Iraq
25-35,000 = Est. US Troops with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (post-Iraq)
655,000 = Est. Iraqi Deaths (.pdf link) attributable to the war
Nerdified link

"Blame the vision, not the execution."

That's the punchline to a recent column by the London Times' Matthew Parris, who is commenting no less on the Debacle on the Desert that we call the Iraq war. Although the author is writing to a British audience about the UK's role in Mess o' Potamia, much of what Mr. Parris writes fits our own situation.

I am merely one obscure person (among many) residing in the US who had vocally opposed the whole notion of an invasion of Iraq when it was little more than a neocon wet dream. Those responsible for that wet dream tried to pass it off as a grand vision (rather than merely clean the bedding), and we're left to deal with the sticky mess that's been created. But I digress.

Although I may not have had the requisite credentials or expertise to grasp all the nuances involved in something as gargantuan as a full-on invasion and occupation half-way across the world, I had enough horse sense to figure that nothing good could come out of it. I certainly had enough horse sense to suss out that the war's main proponents in the White House and Congress (along with the usual think tanks) were being more than a bit disingenuous, and enough horse sense to recall that actions based on lies tend to lead to plenty of unpleasant consequences. Given the death toll (which continues to mount as we speak) - civilians, reporters, soldiers & fighters on all sides - along with the rampant corruption that characterized first the CPA and later the various puppet regimes that have been set up in Iraq, the gross violations of human rights in the form of torture, mass displacement of civilians made homeless, etc., it's safe to say that any of us who were opposed to the war from the get-go were vindicated long ago (the horifying scope of the human toll exacted by this war makes such vindication every bit as heartbreaking, as should go without saying: on this occasion there is no satisfaction to be had in being right). Not only was the outcome predictable from the usual 20/20 hindsight, but a-priori. Large numbers of protesters tried to sound the warning that this was a bad idea. The US government refused to listen. Many of our fellow Americans refused to listen as well - I remember the conversations (or, more properly, shouting matches) all too clearly. "Have patience, my little liberals" we were told in the early days of the invasion by the various pro-war flag-wavers.

It has indeed taken a great deal of patience and self-restraint to wade through reports and commentary regarding the disaster wrought by a war that was a bad idea from the beginning. It'll take even more patience and self-restraint to refrain from calling for show-trials and executions of all those responsible for causing the harm that has been wrought upon the Iraqis.

What I keep going back to again and again is that wars generally are bad ideas. If nothing else, look at the typical consequences: massive loss of lives, livelihoods, limbs, along with the sowing of seeds for the next round. Cycles of violence whether interpersonal or international are notoriously hard to break. At some point, someone finally has to say, "no more." We have long ago reached the point where it is time to say "no more."