Thursday, March 22, 2007

For whom the Donkle tolls

It tolls for you:
The “job” for Nancy, for Rahm, for Reid, Schumer all of them, is to preserve the war (not that Bush would do otherwise) so the strange amalgam that is Hillary can, presumably, run on it.

The woman who with no shame, much less actual recognition of what it means, claims to have supported both Martin Luther King as well as Goldwater. At the same time.

Build an altar to their desires… how the Democrats work the margins is a religion, all but.

Droves of clueless rank and file, supposed liberals, supposed left, will likely vote for her. I sure cannot see her winning. And if the Democrats are as clueless and murderous as they indeed are, it does not matter.
Also via Marisacat (from the same post):
If this is in any way true… the joke really is on the progressives:
One well-placed Democratic aide said Pelosi had approached the progressives asking them to supply four votes, but that they ultimately pledged to deliver about ten.
It was unclear whether the progressives received any concessions in return.
All the spin in the world will not make any of this any better. Nancy Pelosi can take comfort in being a historical figure not only as the first female Speaker of the US House of Representatives, but also for leading the charge to squander whatever mandate the Democrats received from a war-weary public last November. Let's just say that I doubt I'll be the only one who turns a deaf ear to fund-raising overtures from the various Dem party organizations & its loosely affiliated mouthpieces in 2008. Way to go there, champs!

The beginning of the exodus from suburbia?

Here's a clip:
In a sign of the spreading economic fallout of mortgage foreclosures, several suburbs of Cleveland, one of the nation’s hardest-hit cities, are spending millions of dollars to maintain vacant houses as they try to contain blight and real-estate panic.

In suburbs like this one, officials are installing alarms, fixing broken windows and mowing lawns at the vacant houses in hopes of preventing a snowball effect, in which surrounding property values suffer and worried neighbors move away. The officials are also working with financially troubled homeowners to renegotiate debts or, when eviction is unavoidable, to find apartments.

“It’s a tragedy and it’s just beginning,” Mayor Judith H. Rawson of Shaker Heights, a mostly affluent suburb, said of the evictions and vacancies, a problem fueled by a rapid increase in high-interest, subprime loans.

“All those shaky loans are out there, and the foreclosures are coming,” Ms. Rawson said. “Managing the damage to our communities will take years.”

Cuyahoga County, including Cleveland and 58 suburbs, has one of the country’s highest foreclosure rates, and officials say the worst is yet to come. In 1995, the county had 2,500 foreclosures; last year there were 15,000. Officials blame the weak economy and housing market and a rash of subprime loans for the high numbers, and the unusual prevalence of vacant houses.
James Howard Kunstler sez:
If you really want to understand the U.S. public's penchant for wishful thinking, consider this: We invested most of our late twentieth-century wealth in a living arrangement with no future. American suburbia represents the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. The far-flung housing subdivisions, commercial highway strips, big-box stores, and all the other furnishings and accessories of extreme car dependence will function poorly, if at all, in an oil-scarce future. Period. This dilemma now entails a powerful psychology of previous investment, which is prompting us to defend our misinvestments desperately, or, at least, preventing us from letting go of our assumptions about their future value. Compounding the disaster is the unfortunate fact that the manic construction of ever more futureless suburbs (a.k.a. the "housing bubble") has insidiously replaced manufacturing as the basis of our economy.
Elsewhere:
Much of the suburban real estate produced by this process is destined to lose its supposed value, both in practical and monetary terms as energy scarcities get traction. So, on top of the sheer distortions and perversities of the glut in bad mortgage paper, America will be faced with the accelerating worthlessness of the collateral – the houses, Jiffy Lubes, and office parks – as gasoline prices go up, and long commutes become untenable, and jobs along with incomes are lost, and the cost of heating houses larger than 1500 square feet becomes an insuperable burden.

All this is to say that the suburban rings of our cities have poor prospects in the future. They therefore represent a massive tragic misinvestment, perhaps the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It is hard to say how this stuff might be reused or retrofitted, if at all, but some of it, perhaps a lot, may end up as a combined salvage yard and sheer ruin.
The suburbs and exurbs might not become wastelands just yet (although the bursting of the housing bubble will certainly create some blight on Wysteria Lane that hadn't existed previously), but give it a few years as the petroleum products that fuel the suburbs and exurbs become more expensive and more difficult to procure. A combination of that with the fallout of running a national economy on credit (note: the creditors themselves are increasingly fuel-hungry consumers such as China) should within a couple decades signal the end of an era (I consider myself a bit of an optimist).

Well, that clarifies things just a bit

Corruption, deception, cronyism and mass slaughter are all OK so long as they are trained on the right targets. In American politics one can bomb a third world city to smithereens in the course of an illegal war if one desires, trample on as many civil liberties as one can trample, torture as many foreigners as can be tortured, cut as much food aid to single mothers as can be cut, ruin as many governmental agencies as can be ruined, put as many foxes in the hen-house as can be fit, but scuff the shoes of either mainstream political party and there will be hell to pay. Bush may have finally hung his presidency by failing to understand that.
Hits the nail on the head, dontcha think?

Imagination

Sez Anne Applebaum:
Who could have imagined, in September 2001, that one of the masterminds of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would make his confession and the world would hear it with indifference?
It's times like these that I just want to do an Arnold Horshack impersonation, and shout "ooh-ooh-ooh, pick me!" Heck, I'm hardly alone. Look, there was a time not very long ago in which the old Soviet Union was lampooned for its show trials based on torture-induced confessions. In other words, outside of a few true believers, Khalid Sheik Mohammed's confession to masterminding the still ballyhooed 9-11 attacks is a yawner. There is precious little credible about "information" gained via torture. Anyone with a working cerebral cortex can figure that one out fairly quickly. The dude's confession was bound to draw at best indifference, and probably in some circles contempt.

Those still drinking the American Exceptionalist flavored Kool-aid will no doubt continue to be shocked that much of the rest of the planet simply does not give a flying fuck about torture-inflicted "confessions" because they simply have no credibility; nor do those nations that inflict such torture have any credibility in the area of human rights.

Speaking of dimes

David Neiwert is doing his annual fund raising week for his blog, Orcinus. His expertise on right-wing extremist movements in the US is impressive, and his blog provides one hell of a source of information. I may be tapped out this month, but if you have some change to spare, it would be appreciated.

I moved on from Moveon.org

Why, you might ask? Simple. I have grave doubts about that organization's commitment to lobbying for an end to that monstrosity of a war in Iraq. I long ago passed the point of being fed up with partisan game playing while way too many lives are lost. Enough is enough. If Moveon.org's agenda is merely being a mouthpiece for one of the Democratic Party's factions, so be it. Just not on my dime.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Priceless

Tony Snowjob being reminded of one of his old late-1990s era column:

"What kinds of conversations does executive privilege protect?…What are the limits on privilege?'' a newspaper columnist wrote in the spring of 1998 on a subject strangely familiar today.

"Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration,'' the columnist wrote. "Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything.''

Just by chance I happened to catch today's WH press gaggle, and found Snow's reaction to his old words to be quite amusing.

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Corporate Media

FAIR has a time line that reads as US conglomerate journalism's worst misses in its coverage of the events leading to the Iraq War debacle. As I'm fond of mentioning, it didn't take a self-styled expert or media talking head to notice that something about all the war talk was rotten. Heck, any working stiff with a dial-up connection to the internet could have offered up that conclusion free of charge. In fact, these very pillars of the Fourth Estate (our establishment corporate media) refused to notice the stench of deception, instead playing the role of cheerleader as Bu$hCo beat the old war drums louder and louder. That's what they get the big bucks for.

That said, credit is due to those in the alternative media who were willing to call bullshit at a time when no one else had the gumption to do so (and props to Crossing the Line for doing precisely that):
This past weekend hundreds of thousands of prostestors took to the street to protest the fouth anniversary of the Iraq war. Today March 19th is the actual commemoration. This weekend seven more US service personnel were killed. Also the New York Times gave a half-hearted apology for its coverage of the war. Many in corporate media say that they made the right call based on the information at hand at the time. But why was it that so many in the Indy media circles didn't get on board. [snippage] How could lowly journalists such as Dahr Jamail, Ali Abunimah, Nora Barrows-Friedman, Amy Goodman and the like have the same information as the corporate media had and be able to debunk the ridiculous lies that the White House, Judith Miller and Co at the New York Times, FOX news, MSNBC, ABC, and CBS couldn't? The media watchdog group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has come up with a list of the most sensational lies that made up journalism in the run-up to the failed war in Iraq.
Remember this as the White House cranks up the war drums for the next big fiasco.

Shorter Chris Bowers

"Spines in politics are so over-rated (or how I stopped worrying and learned to love arguing that voting for additional Iraq War funding is furthering the antiwar cause)."

Alternative spin:

"We promise, Charlie Brown, Lucy will not pull the football away at the last minute the next time. Really."

You wanna sign?

Getting out of Iraq and impeaching the Bu$h/Cheney crime ring should be top priorities. If only we actually had an opposition in this country that was worth a damn.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sampling never died

It merely continued to mutate, as the blogger known as Adrift in the Happy Hills reminds us. Was cool to see DJ Danger Mouse's classic The Grey Album mentioned, which reminds me of Grey Tuesday:
DJ Danger Mouse's album, The Grey Album, in which Danger Mouse remixes The Beatles' White Album and Jay Z's Black Album, is damn good. I've downloaded the album via the miracles of mp3 file sharing. It's a remix album that does justice to both the Beatles and Jay Z, while managing to sound like something quite unique. Download some mp3s, groove to some tunes, and help wave a collective middle finger to the suits running today's recording conglomerates: now that's a trifecta!
It's been a while since I last played it (I'll have to dig up the CD onto which the sound files were burned), but let's say that I don't listen to either Jay Z or the Beatles in quite the same way. I'll leave the discussion of how an unabashed jazzer can dig on DJ Danger Mouse, Jay Z, and the Beatles for another day, other than to offer that eclecticism does have its advantages. Here's what Adrift has to say about The Grey Album, and its impact:
Probably more than any other release, the Grey Album by DJ Danger Mouse helped establish the mash-up as an art-form in it's own right. It puts the raps from Jay-Z's Black Album to the music from the Beatle's White Album, stripping the guitar licks and beats to their most fundamental elements and re-working them into original compositions. A relatively small number of copies were independently distributed to stores, until the Beatles lawyers screamed cease and desist (Jay-Z was cool with it and his business partner at the time praised it). In protest, bloggers staged "Grey Tuesday", on which websites across the internet offered the album for download simultaneously.

If a download counted as a sale, the Grey album would have gone platinum several times over. It established Danger Mouse as an important new artist. He went on to produce the Gorillaz album "Demon Days" (an excellent mix of indie rock and hip hop beats...though all the music is original) and the Gnarles Barkley debut, including their runaway hit "Crazy".
Read about the other mash-up artists as well. Even if much of American pop music (and pop culture for that matter) seems to be stuck in retro degeneracy, there are some cats out there who remind us that daring to be different never sounded so good.

Note: the pic was from an old blog post, which linked to Brian Flemming's blog. These days, I'm sure if you check out your own fave peer-to-peer network, you can find the album quite easily. I'm partial to Soulseek, where I've managed to find all sorts of great recordings including more out-of-print jazz, electronic, and minimalist albums than I could even begin to count.

Interesting approach to street theater

They cut a swath across downtown, taking imaginary sniper fire and casualties on the grounds of the Capitol and the Washington Monument, scouting the White House, performing mock arrests at the foot of the Capitol steps and a vehicle search on the Mall. At the Capitol, the veterans almost got detained themselves by civilian peace officers with real guns. The vets brought their act to a military recruiting station on L Street NW and concluded with a memorial ceremony in the cemetery.

The 12 men and one woman included one veteran of Afghanistan, and they represented the Army, Marines and Navy. They were young, intense, disillusioned. Home from the war, on yesterday's fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, they wanted to bring the war home to Washington.

They called it Operation First Casualty -- citing the adage that truth is the first casualty of war. The premise of their guerrilla-theater incursion was that, for all the yellow ribbons and "support the troops" sloganeering, life goes on at home pretty much oblivious to what it's like for American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

Nerdified link. One of at least 198 methods of nonviolent action.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ductape Fatwa tried his hand at fiction a few years ago

I think he put some or all of it at one point or another on some of the gated community blogs back in the day. They're all conveniently available at his site (which has lain dormant for the last six months):

Haley's Nose: America 2009

Part 1: A GoodJob Day in America, 2009

Part 2: Defense Secretary William Boykin frowned. "Eleven?"

Part 3: God's wayward Children of Israel

Part 4: "The Citizen Defenders Program, Sir"

Part 5: Without the Jews, we have no Rapture

Part 6: Welcome America's very first Citizen Defender

Part 7: The Department of Chastity and Doctrine

I have a soft spot for dystopian stories, whether in the form of novels, serials, short stories, films, etc. Admittedly it's been over a year since I last read through this particular serial, so don't expect much in the way of review. I can visualize how the story would proceed in anime form (the sort of back and forth between scenes suggests it) - then again I tend to watch a lot of cartoons.

Quotable

darkdaughta at culturekitchen, in Western Civilization...a history of emotional dysfunction...:

Fastforward to present day. Strike that. As the colonized, living in close proximity to the colonizer on the same stolen lands for so long, I've come to the realization that their trauma became our trauma, became my family's trauma, became my trauma as soon as the ancestors of present day white people set foot on African shores so many hundreds of years ago.

Later, I also remembered Memmi and Fanon who discussed and wrote about the psychology of the colonized. I think they, too understood that the colonizer had created and nurtured madness in those they colonized. I understand colonization as the act of imposing insanity through trauma and systemic abuse. My thing is that the ancestors of the white people we know today "came" to the "new" worlds they "discovered" already driven insane by their own experience as the dominated. As with many people who experience abuse, they just decided that the best way to scrub themselves clean, as it were, was to offer that experience to others, thereby revising the hierarchies they were offered by placing others beneath them.

Fixed the link to Frantz Fanon's Wikipedia entry.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A multivariate outlier: US healthcare spending and life expectancy

Click the pic to enlarge. Found at Left in the Heartland. Health care spending in the US itself appears to be an outlier on the above graph. US life expectancy is about the same as that of Portugal (about smack dab in the middle of the distribution). When looking at the combination of health care spending and life expectancy variables, the US truly stands out - and in this case not in a good way. When it comes to health care, Americans are not getting much bang for their bucks.