Saturday, August 11, 2007

Chip off the ol' block, eh?

The US may be an authoritarian state flirting with fascism, but so too it appears that if we peer across the pond, the UK is rapidly catching up. The "New Labour" Blair/Brown regimes have been every bit as toxic to civil liberties and human rights as their US counterparts (be they Clintonistas or Bushistas). From Ten Percent:

And so it progresses, the war on terror that is the brand name covering the new authoritarianism, new terrorism laws that were promised not to be abused, continue to be misused to stifle dissent. The MOD moves with the times and bars troops from disseminating information via the web. And the BBC now browbeaten and bitch slapped by the machinery of the Hutton lever denied funds and playing nice by cutting programs that deal with injustices and uncovering corporate and govt. wrongdoing. Of course corporations and govt. are interchangeable one hand washes the other, MOA hooks together those stories with AT&T taking it upon itself to censor anti govt. popular artforms and this is not an isolated incident.

At the sharp end of the crackdown, the lockdown, the authorities rape, torture and kill dissidents under the guise of ‘fighting terror’. And the organ grinder has both parties in lockstep to legalise it’s overwhelming technologies and mechanisms of state surveillance, making sure it’s security apparatus is sufficiently brutalised & trained on less visible minorities. Sending torture fan and serial liar to Iraq to advise on its legal system while whistleblowers hear the boots kicking down their doors and running them out of town.

Lenin's Tomb:
Anyone who thought that the Brownites would be less zealous in the war on civil liberties will have to revise their opinion. The government has threatened environmental protesters with the use of anti-terror laws so that they can be stopped and searched without evidence or reasonable suspicion, detained for up to a month without charge, have their homes searched etc. Naturally, the police insist that they're concerned about a 'minority' of protesters who are intent on disruption. Imagine someone disrupting something. Imagine someone challenging the inalienable rights of private property. Wouldn't that be simply awful?

The anti-terror laws are nothing of the kind, of course. That is sort of given away by the fact that they have been used almost exclusively against dissidents and protesters who aren't terrorists. Those seeking to disrupt the Great British arms trade for instance. Antiwar demonstrators. Protesters outside the Labour conference. And many others besides. Which I don't think is merely an odd coincidence. Surely the only reasonable course of action is for as many people as can be there to attend and ensure that the camp is a little bit too big for the police to push around and bully.
What I keep trying to remind myself and my readers is a simple point that is something of a rally cry for the Zapatistas: "You are not alone." As dark as these times may be, the advances in electronic communication offer some hope - human rights abuses that once upon a time might have remained hidden are much more likely to be publicized via blogs, indymedia, etc. Mobile phones and digital cameras often have a video feature, making it relatively easy for bystanders and participants alike to catch the agents of repression in the act and then upload the results on YouTube or elsewhere for all the world to see. Not only can folks mobilize en mass on location, but that solidarity can be shared potentially throughout the globe; we as human beings can say "¡Ya Basta!" (loosely "No more" or "Enough is enough" en Inglés) and "You are not alone" and those words can mean more than ever before.

Green Party calls for cancellation of "War on Drugs"

Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford's got the 411:
The Green Party, which has been adding more color to its ranks but remains predominantly white, is putting to shame not only the Democratic Party, but also the rapidly disintegrating Black electoral and traditional leadership. The Greens, alone, have placed up front a demand for an end to "institutional biases" against "Blacks, Latinos and the poor" in the U.S. criminal justice system. In doing so, they make Barack Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus and most established African American organizations look like milk-toast.
The Greens call for an immediate "cancellation of the war on drugs," which they call "a war on youth and people of color." The death penalty, they say, is "barbaric," and is a further abomination because "black, brown, and poor white people disproportionately get executed." And the Green Party calls for a halt to privatization of prisons, which creates a corporate incentive to incarcerate more and more people.
[snip]
Like Gravel, the Green Party is making mass Black and Brown incarceration a political priority. They base their position on a study by The Sentencing Project, which found that "African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites, and Hispanics nearly double the rate" of whites. In Iowa, Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Wisconsin, Blacks are ten times more like to go to prison than whites. "If current trends continue," said The Sentencing Project, "one in three black males and one in six Hispanic males born today can expect to go to prison." Among the most important of the study's recommendations is its call for Racial Impact Statements, similar to Environmental Impact Statements, to document the criminal justice system's impact on people of color.
Noticed this first via The NarcoSphere. The prison-industrial complex has been part of a long-standing form of structural violence targeting predominantly low-income and ethnic minority groups. We are indeed a Gulag Nation, as I've noted previously. One need only do a cursory study of the US government's recent history to realize that the "tough on crime" pose is one that the Democrat branch of the elite class embraces to a degree that almost puts their Republican counterparts to shame. Hell, the Clintonistas were really down with expanding the incarceration rate back in the 1990s. Word to the authorities: there were more than a few of us taking notes and we have pretty damn long memories.

A point I keep bringing up is that if you're of relatively low-income or are a person of color you have no friends in either of the three branches of the federal government (and probably none in most state governments). If one is from a less-than-privileged station in life and is left-leaning (be that "progressive" "liberal" or whatever), and is still not quite ready to give up on the electoral process, alternative parties are the way to go. The Greens seem like they're at least getting it when it comes to the racism inherent in the current system, which is much more than the Donkle (which reminds me that the next time any one of those Dem bozos starts wanting to use us as ATM machines for their campaigns, the best response is "aww Hell no!").

I guess I'm part of the "Skeletor Left"


He-Man Left? Ya gotta be kidding!

That must be the latest brain fart from the BBBs. Personally I thought He-Man was a dork.

The US government proves once more that it can still inspire others

From the VOA News via Crooks and Liars:
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday signed into law the controversial Interception of Communications Bill, which gives his government the authority to eavesdrop on phone and Internet communications and read physical mail.

The legislation has drawn outspoken opposition from the political opposition and civil society organizations as trampling on the civil rights of Zimbabweans.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai called it an addition to “the dictator’s tool kit.”[..]

Human rights lawyer Otto Saki told VOA that the law interferes and undermines the enjoyment of rights enshrined in the constitution and is a sign Mr. Mugabe wants to consolidate his power by “any means necessary or unnecessary.”

But Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe said Zimbabwe is not unique in the world in passing such legislation, citing electronic eavesdropping programs in the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa, among other countries.
Our government sets such a wonderful example. Go USA!

Hat tip to IOZ. See also Glenn Greenwald.

Say Hello To

Maggie's Madness.

Feeling a Draft? The Sequel

Since there is already sufficient chatter in blogtopia (yes, skippy, I know), I'd like to direct your attention to a movie designed to provoke thought about the draft - Day Zero. Here's what the film's producer has to say:
Day Zero is an independent drama that follows three best friends (Elijah Wood, Chris Klein, Jon Bernthal) in NYC after they receive their draft notices and are given 30 days to report for duty. It takes place in an imagined near-future wherein the war on terror has expanded, requiring a draft to fill the ranks. The film follows the friends during this 30-day period during which they confront their beliefs about duty, honor, courage, friendship and love. The film also stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Ally Sheedy, Elisabeth Moss, and Sofia Vassilieva.

[snip]

With Day Zero, what we've tried to do is to get people to stop and ponder for themselves – not a knee jerk, but a consideration . . . when you come home from work, check the mailbox, and sort through the pile – you see that envelope from the Selective Service Administration . . . what do you do? How do you feel? How do you respond? How do you treat others around you? And ultimately – what choice do you make?

What's been most gratifying, in this age of disposable entertainment (when was the last time you chatted about a blockbuster beyond the ride home from the theater?) is how the audiences at our screenings let us know – by email, phone, blog posts, reviews, etc. – that Day Zero stayed with them. They continue to think about the characters and how they would respond in their place long after the credits rolled. Even better – they continue to discuss it with their friends and family. In that regard, I'm extremely proud and feel like we did our job.
Day Zero premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival and is set to be released at select theaters later this year. As the film's producer notes, if the film is successful in limited release, hopefully it will see a wider big-screen audience. Personally I'd love to see a film like this one released in places other than NYC and Los Angeles artsy movie theaters. It really needs showings in small cities and towns out in the so-called fly-over states. Whether or not that transpires remains to be seen. My guess is I'll be waiting for the DVD to come out.

Booga Booga Booga!!!

Be afraid. Very Afraid. Good God. Give me a freakin' break already. The US has already been OD'ed on these threats from the mythical Al Qaida (a label that has become as generic as Xerox or Coke). I guess with no-one liking any branch of the federal government and the economy increasingly in the crapper that maybe one of these ridiculous "warnings" is supposed to distract the US public.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Milestones

Earlier today, this blog reached its 4,000th post. In a few days we'll be marking the 4th anniversary of this blog. We're also less than 6,500 hits away from reaching the 100,000 visitors mark - admittedly small potatoes in the blogging world (and unless something changes drastically, probably a milestone that will be reached toward the end of the year), but certainly a wider readership than anything I could imagine back in the days of self-published zines. For those of you who regularly come by here, thanks. For those dropping by for the first time - hope you dig on this enough to come back.

Feeling a Draft?

There's a foul wind blowing across the plains these days - and no it's not due to the influx of hog farms. No, this breeze is blowing straight outta the Pentagon in DC. You see, the costs of running an empire spanning the globe (including 700 plus military bases) are more than monetary. With at least two wars going on and a possible third on the way, there is also the need for bullet stoppers and finding individuals willing to volunteer as bullet stoppers just isn't as easy these days. Hence, we have the US War Czar saying that the draft has always been on the table. Although conventional wisdom has it that a draft would be political suicide, and that no politician would touch it with a ten-foot pole, the truth is that there are prominent politicians on both sides of the narrow political aisle who would love to reinstate it, most notoriously Charles Rangel.

Now of course the War Czar will contend that it would take a major policy shift for a draft to be reinstated. What would it take to cause a major policy shift? Another terrorist attack perhaps (a possibility that sadly seems to have some pundits creaming their draws)?

In the meantime, I'd suggest that if you're reading this and about to reach that magical age of 18, and facing the issue of whether or not to register for the draft, look carefully at your options. One may decide that registration is simply a bad idea (a decision that of course is illegal). Whatever you do, you really need - if you haven't already - to think about how to establish conscientious objector status. Some resources for those thinking of becoming conscientious objectors follow below:

Center on Conscience & War

War Resisters League

CCCO

COMD

Paz.

Stu Bykofsky wants another 9/11 attack

Here's a highlight (or is that lowlight?) from this bozo's latest:
ONE MONTH from The Anniversary, I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America.

[snip]

America's fabric is pulling apart like a cheap sweater.

What would sew us back together?

Another 9/11 attack.

The Golden Gate Bridge. Mount Rushmore. Chicago's Wrigley Field. The Philadelphia subway system. The U.S. is a target-rich environment for al Qaeda.

Is there any doubt they are planning to hit us again?

If it is to be, then let it be. It will take another attack on the homeland to quell the chattering of chipmunks and to restore America's righteous rage and singular purpose to prevail.

stubyko@phillynews.com (I'm sure he'd love to hear from y'all).

Turning dreams into reality

There is certainly enough bleakness to go around, what with wars that are currently costing far too many precious lives, and many millions of others being starved out and enslaved as a consequence of neoliberal economic policies and short-sighted endeavors to maintain unsustainably lavish lifestyles in the Global North (e.g., US, EU). I've occasionally highlighted the nightmare that the push toward replacing oil with so-called biofuel or ethanol is creating - for the time being a nightmare suffered primarily by those most residing in the Global South (aka the Third and Fourth Worlds). In Bio-Fooled? I highlighted an article that made it clear that the ethanol boom was already having devastating environmental effects - including rapid deforestation and increased carbon emissions - as well as putting the well-off in the Global North with the choice between feeding human beings with harvested grain and feeding SUV fuel tanks. In Don't Be Biofooled, I made largely the same point - this time by presenting a graphic I found via the internet and summarizing what I'd read thus far.

Once more I feel the need to highlight the dire effects that the ethanol boom are having. This time, I am recommending one read Raul Zibechi's article, The Dark Side of Agrofuels. The setting this time is in the sugar cane fields in Brazil, which are both leading to further damage to the Amazon rain forest and are fostering slave-labor conditions for those unlucky enough to work in those sugar cane fields. The expansion of this industry is also threatening indigenous agriculture. Zibechi offers no words of hope. Those encouraging the biofuel boom are quite wealthy and politically well-connected, whereas those most immediately victimized are not, and are largely voiceless outside of alternative media sources. As Zibechi notes, the effects on the environment and workers' lives are furthest from these elites' minds (I'll add also the furthest from the minds of an American public more concerned with Britney Spears' latest meltdowns than with the nightmarish world being left in the wake of a neoliberal typhoon). Even among those who try to tune out the bombardment of "reality" shows and entertainment "news" are going to be fed a very sanitized version of the impact of biofuels in the coming decades - I'm sure that we've already been treated multiple times to Anderson Cooper covering the Brazil "miracle" and driving past pristine sugar cane plantations, making the whole thing seem like a wonderful alternative for those desiring a supposedly "greener" form of happy motoring.

But I digress.

What about dreams and turning them into reality? As Murielle Coppin informs us in her coverage of the latest Via Campesina held in autonomous Zapatista territory in Chiapas, there are efforts to do precisely that. Of course Coppin relays the many terrible things that are happening in Brazil and elsewhere. But even in the darkness, there are small fires providing warmth and light. To give you an idea, here's some of the fruits of campesino resistance in Brazil:
In Brazil the MST with 2 million members managed to recover land (the size of Italy) for 350 families. “But,” said Soraia Soriano, “after that, we realised it wasn’t enough and we have to organise other aspects of campesino life, such as production, school, goods and health.” That’s why, in 2003, a national school was inaugurated where they teach the true history and national social struggles including other countries. They also organise cultural projects to preserve cultural heritage. In the field of health, they prepare medicine from medicinal plants. Lastly, they started art cooperatives and give special attention to the active incorporation of women in their organisation.
In India:
United we stand, goes the refrain. Yudhvir Singh gave some examples of how the massive campesino movement in India – using Gandhi’s disobedience principal as a main weapon – couldn’t be ignored by the government. And so he told of 71,000 campesinos in his organisation who were arrested during of the WTO that took place in 2002 in Doha (Qatar). Wanting to free them, the prisoners said they wouldn’t go unless the police went to work on their farm plots. Of course the police didn’t agree. “Then,” he continued, “we refused to leave the prison and we managed to occupy the entire police space. We had to bring food for 71,000 prisoners and then pay for the return to our farms.” Thanks to the daily struggles in their vast country they managed to get two autonomous indigenous states.
These are not the sorts of items that get much play on what passes for news media these days, but they are examples of collective dreams for a different and better world being made (albeit slowly) into reality. Again to quote Ms. Coppin:
Be that as it may, the Encuentro between the Zapatistas and the People of the World showed today once again that capitalist forces aren’t everywhere and that resistance and heroic protest against neoliberalism and for humanity is expanding daily across the whole of planet Earth.
Food for thought.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What if one takes the other path - the path of resistance?

Ductape Fatwa sez:
But what if he chooses the other path? What if he stands up and says "I support all people who resist the brutality of occupation, whether it be in Ramadi, Ramallah, or Rhode Island, and I support it precisely because I am an American, and because I do love my country."

Well, that fellow just declared himself a terrorist. He is now officially an enemy of the United States, an unlawful combatant, and while all Americans, just like everybody else on earth, is subject to extermination and/or seizure and perpetual imprisonment by US gunmen, he has just made himself a more likely candidate for that fate.

With the possible exception of pedophiles, he will have made himself the most hated and vilified category of American, in the eyes of the vast majority of his Americans.

Remember America is the place where Abu Ghraib whistleblower Joseph Darby's family had to go into hiding, so many death threats did they receive, while Lynndie England has fan sites.

An American who supports the struggle for freedom and self-determination in a land under siege of a hostile invading force lives the spirit of another great American not so long ago, an American who was despised, spat upon, called every ugly name in the book, thrown in jail, beaten, dogs set upon him, and in the end, murdered, this man who had a dream that one day his country would live out its creed.

One Million


The skinny on the estimate and graphic courtesy of Ten Percent:

I have been generally using the 1 million figure for a while, but the figure based on the method detailed below should become widely accepted and if people want to gasp in horror over other genocides it is time to stop ignoring the one we are intimately responsible for. If they want to dispute it, it is time we put the burden of proof on them, prove me wrong or shut up. As I have the counter in my sidebar I have been watching it crawl up to the 1 million mark which it reached tonight, a while back I worked out how long it would take if you alloted a 1 second silent commemoration for each death. The time needed now is 11 days and 14 hours, it is a little over 1 hour for coalition casualties.

Just Foreign Policy accepts the Lancet estimate of 601,000 violent Iraqi deaths attributable to the U.S. invasion and occupation as of July 2006.

To update this number, we need to obtain a rate of how quickly deaths are mounting in Iraq. For this purpose, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) provides the most reliable, frequently updated database of deaths in Iraq. (The IBC also usefully provides a database of all violent Iraqi deaths demonstrable through press reports and thus relatively undeniable.) The IBC provides a maximum and minimum. We opted to use the midpoint between the two for our calculation.

We multiple the Lancet number as of July 2006 by the ratio of current IBC deaths divided by IBC deaths as of July 1, 2006 (43,394).
The formula used is:

Just Foreign Policy estimate = (Lancet estimate as of July 2006)x( (Current IBC Deaths) / (IBC Deaths as of July 1, 2006) )

Chris Floyd sez:
We can't really put it any plainer than this: they literally do not care how many people die and suffer as a result of their policies. The only restraint -- the only one -- on their actions is the need to preserve the acquiesence of various American factions and institutions to their own illegitimate, authoritarian rule. They have continuously, relentlessly pushed the boundaries to see how far they can go and still retain this acquiesence -- and at every step, no matter how outrageous, they have found that it still holds. And so they keep pushing one step further. (We can see a perfect example of this in the FISA farce: Bush demands draconian powers of unfettered mass surveillance; the Democrats give them to him; then he demands even more.) There seems to be no limit to the docility of Americans in the face of this authoritarian onslaught -- clearly, the nation as a whole has lost the independent spirit of its founders -- but still, a tyrant must always tread carefully, testing the waters for what the populace will swallow. Killing a million innocent Iraqis is obviously OK -- but would two million, or six million, cause an uproar? Dropping bombs in residential areas is fine with the folks -- but would carpet bombing Sadr City be a bit too much? But these restraints, such as they are, are merely political; moral, legal, and ethical concerns play no part in the Bushists' calculations.
Arthur Silber sez:
I certainly understand that many people feel overwhelmed and even paralyzed by the unrelenting train of horrors that crushes us beneath its seemingly inexorable path every single day. Many people may conclude there is nothing to be done, and that we can only pray that the next six months or few years do not bring us catastrophe that quickly spreads out of anyone's control, destroying hundreds of thousands or even millions of additional lives.

And yet. I can only direct you once more to this entry, "Still Another Call to Activism." I admit that my heart is far from fully in such an appeal at this point. I've made such appeals numerous times, in many different forms, providing those specific suggestions that seemed worthwhile to me. For the most part, they have all fallen into a soundless void. I see no reason to think this time will be any different.

Still, I make the appeal once more. As some wise observers have had tragic occasion to note, to hope in the absence of hope is the most difficult act of all and, in the end, the only one that matters.
See also Scruggs over at UFO Breakfast Recipients.

Also, Mickey Z drops a Ward Churchill quote that fits the times:
"Stop killing our kids, if you want your own to be safe."
Really doesn't get any simpler than that.

Nuclear War - in memory of Nagasaki

Interesting mashup of a timely Sun Ra tune performed by Yo La Tengo & govt. propaganda vids.


See also what my friend Manny has to say.

Laudible Goals

Ellsberg on Sheehan's campaign challenge against Speaker Pelosi:
The following is excerpted from a speech given by Daniel Ellsberg at a press conference where Cindy Sheehan announced her candidacy for the 8th Congressional District of California.

I see this campaign as aiming much higher than putting Cindy Sheehan in Congress in 2009. Well before that time, we aim to help restore our Constitution, to end a war and avert starting a new one, and to remove from power two officials – George W. Bush and Richard Cheney – who block those objectives before they can do more harm in their remaining months in office.

That’s an ambitious project; but there’s a clear path to achieving it. We will work to change public awareness and, as a result, Nancy Pelosi’s policies as Speaker of the House well before the election, by revealing to the public real alternatives to the courses she and the Democrats have followed so far, and demonstrating the breadth and strength of public support for those alternatives.

The truth is that Democrats, and even Republicans, can do much better than they have been doing, under Pelosi’s leadership in the House, to protect our freedoms and our security. In this campaign we will publicize specifics of what can and should be done, and let the public tell the politicians which approach they want.

One essential demand is for Pelosi to encourage, rather than to block, Congressional investigations of past and ongoing administration deception, unwisdom, illegality and unconstitutionality in pursuing an aggressive war and in curtailing our rights. Such investigations, calling forth testimony under oath of current and former officials many of whom are eager to tell the truth at last, as well as demonstrating continued administration stonewalling, will almost surely lead to what does not yet exist: irresistible pressure from a belatedly-informed public for the impeachment and removal of Bush and Cheney.

Further, we need Pelosi’s leadership in rescinding the unconstitutional parts – which will not leave much – of the Patriot Act, the Military Commisions Act and the recent, outrageous legislation purporting to legalize warrantless wiretaps and data mining. And – absolutely essential to ending our war in Iraq – public pressure is needed to demand that Congress defund our indefinite occupation, providing funds only for the orderly, safe withdrawal of all our troops, contractors and bases on an announced time-table.

There are I hope plenty of bloggers - the vast majority of us extremely obscure, who will publicize what Sheehan is doing. I have my doubts that Sheehan will get elected, but I do hope that her campaign serves to sufficiently raise awareness about the continuing War of Terror against the Iraqis as well as the War of Terror being perpetrated against those of us living within the US borders (the shredding of the Constitution is a large part of that war against us).

One small candle may not provide much light, but many thousands of small candles will.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

RIP Raul Hilberg

I've only been occasionally checking my academic emails as of late, but one of those emails was a notice from INOGS that one of the pioneers of genocide studies, Raul Hilberg had recently passed away. There's an obit over at NYT that will give the reader some idea of what he was about. This passage in particular is worth passing along:

In his landmark work, “The Destruction of the European Jews,” Mr. Hilberg said the Holocaust had been the result of a huge bureaucratic machine with thousands of participants, not the fulfillment of a preconceived plan or a single order by Hitler.

As uncountable separate instructions were passed on, formally and informally, to a range of actors that included train schedulers and gas chamber architects, responsibility became ever more diluted, he argued, even as the machinery of death churned inexorably ahead.

“For these reasons, an administrator, clerk or uniformed guard never referred to himself as a perpetrator,” Mr. Hilberg said in an interview with The Chicago Tribune in 1992. “He realized, however, that the process of destruction was deliberate, and that once he had stepped into this maelstrom, his deed would be indelible.”

Of course, this is quite similar to the point made by Hannah Arendt in her famous book Eichmann in Jerusalem - indeed Arendt's writing for that book was deeply indebted to Hilberg. It's also a point featured in some of Ward Churchill's subsequent writings (see the book On the Justice of Roosting Chickens)¹, with the additional point that any such "machinery of death" will have the potential to produce blowback, and that we really shouldn't be all that surprised when the some of the victims - individually or collectively - fight back with whatever means they might have at their disposal.

¹ As Charley Arthur at the Try-Works states: In other words, those, even at relatively low levels, who willingly participate in processes that know to result in, as Churchill puts it,“the mass immiseration and death of brown-skinned ‘Others’” are NOT “innocent.”

Michael Ignatieff in Haiku

Blah blah blah blah blah.
Oh. About what I once said
about Iraq. Oops.


Actual Ignatieff article in the NYT magazine if you can stomach it is here.

Congrats to Barry Bonds - 756

Unfortunately I missed the game - if it were televised in my area, likely I would have had to miss it any way (Madame has appropriated all remotes in the house, and absolutely nobody interferes with episodes of Big Brother and I've learned to basically bury myself in a book or two).

Bonds is one of those great all-around athletes who had a great career going even before he went on a home run rampage post-1998. Arguably the best commentary I've read about this historic event (at least to us baseball fans) is by the field negro:
To all the Bonds haters out there, consider this: Before 1998, he had 3 MVP awards, 8 all star appearances, and 8 gold glove awards. So excuse me if he put up freakish home run numbers after 1998, when he was supposedly on the juice. I am going to guess that quite a few players doing that time period were juicing, including the happy twins; Sosa, and McGuire, not to mention a few pitchers. (Some quite famous ones included) Oh, and if we are going to put an asterisk next to Bond's accomplishments, why don't we just put one next to every payer who played before 1947? But somehow I doubt that will happen, because we are such hypocrites in America, and our memory can be so selective.

So America, get over the hateration [like that word woozie?] of Bonds. We know it's because he is supposedly a jerk, and not fan friendly, and he is mean to sports writers. Who gives a shit? Yeah that Ty Cobb was a real Prince charming wasn't he? The last time I checked, that racist jerk was in the Hall, and America still loves him.

If Bonds is not a first ballot Hall of Famer, it will say more about the frauds who run American sports than any steroid scandal ever could. I am just glad Hammering Hank acknowledged the whole thing via video, he was starting to come up pretty small.
Controversy or not - my hat goes off to Bonds.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Forty three years ago today

Senators Ernest Gruening and Wayne Morse voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution - the legislation that gave the Johnson regime carte blanch to escalate the Vietnam War. They stood alone, and likely were reviled at the time but revered today. Less than four decades later a lone Congresswoman, Barbara Lee would play a similar role as the US Congress gave the Lush/Zany regime a blank check to embark on the eternal War of Terra. She too was reviled at the time (except perhaps by the handful of us who wanted the government to refrain from rushing into a reign of proto-fascist terror in the aftermath of 9/11). Likewise, I'll predict that she will be among history's vindicated rather than vanquished.

Just like Herpes, Fred Phelps flares up again

Check it out:
The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., plans to stage protests at funerals of victims of the 35W bridge collapse to state that God made the bridge fall because he hates America, and especially Minnesota, because of its tolerance of homosexuality.

The church and its pastor, the Rev. Fred Phelps, have become notorious over recent years for their claim that the attack of 9/11 was an act of God's vengeance and their determination to make that case at the funerals of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq.

In a press release issued the day after the bridge collapse, the church called for protests at the funerals and outlined its feelings about the relationship between God's plan and the sins of Minneapolis and Minnesota, which it calls the "land of the Sodomite damned."

Reached at the church, Shirley Phelps Roper, who is both the daughter of the pastor and one of the attorneys for the church, said that America, and Minnesota especially, have alienated God by its tolerance for homosexuality, and that the bridge collapse was an act of God's vengeance. She said:

"The bridge stood in place by the word of God and it fell by the word of God...Each of these little events is just a harbinger of the coming destruction of this American experiment. We are delivering the final call of the doomed nation."
She said, as they have done for years, members of the church would stand "lawfully and peacefully on the public right of way" near the funerals and "put in the air words of praying and instruction and warning."

The signs that the protesters will wave will read:

"God cast down the bridge... Thank God for 9/11... America is doomed... God hates fags... God hates fag enablers... God hates Minnesota."
Leave it to these creeps to pour salt in the wounds of those affected by the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis. I can guarantee the only hating going on is with Phelps and his gang of idiots.

Monday, August 6, 2007

More lives needlessly lost

Read School Teen Execution. Hat tip to lilith at Maat's Feather. See also some commentary by the field negro.

The United States of Torture

The use of psychologists was also considered a way for C.I.A. officials to skirt measures such as the Convention Against Torture. The former adviser to the intelligence community said, “Clearly, some senior people felt they needed a theory to justify what they were doing. You can’t just say, ‘We want to do what Egypt’s doing.’ When the lawyers asked what their basis was, they could say, ‘We have Ph.D.s who have these theories.’ ”
There were pockets of resistance:
He said that, inside the C.I.A., where a number of scientists work, there was strong internal opposition to the new techniques. “Behavioral scientists said, ‘Don’t even think about this!’ They thought officers could be prosecuted.”
Some historical background:
Nevertheless, the SERE experts’ theories were apparently put into practice with Zubaydah’s interrogation. Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he was not only waterboarded, as has been previously reported; he was also kept for a prolonged period in a cage, known as a “dog box,” which was so small that he could not stand. According to an eyewitness, one psychologist advising on the treatment of Zubaydah, James Mitchell, argued that he needed to be reduced to a state of “learned helplessness.” (Mitchell disputes this characterization.)

Steve Kleinman, a reserve Air Force colonel and an experienced interrogator who has known Mitchell professionally for years, said that “learned helplessness was his whole paradigm.” Mitchell, he said, “draws a diagram showing what he says is the whole cycle. It starts with isolation. Then they eliminate the prisoners’ ability to forecast the future—when their next meal is, when they can go to the bathroom. It creates dread and dependency. It was the K.G.B. model. But the K.G.B. used it to get people who had turned against the state to confess falsely. The K.G.B. wasn’t after intelligence.”

As the C.I.A. captured and interrogated other Al Qaeda figures, it established a protocol of psychological coercion. The program tied together many strands of the agency’s secret history of Cold War-era experiments in behavioral science. (In June, the C.I.A. declassified long-held secret documents known as the Family Jewels, which shed light on C.I.A. drug experiments on rats and monkeys, and on the infamous case of Frank R. Olson, an agency employee who leaped to his death from a hotel window in 1953, nine days after he was unwittingly drugged with LSD.) The C.I.A.’s most useful research focussed on the surprisingly powerful effects of psychological manipulations, such as extreme sensory deprivation. According to Alfred McCoy, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, who has written a history of the C.I.A.’s experiments in coercing subjects, the agency learned that “if subjects are confined without light, odors, sound, or any fixed references of time and place, very deep breakdowns can be provoked.”

Agency scientists found that in just a few hours some subjects suspended in water tanks—or confined in isolated rooms wearing blacked-out goggles and earmuffs—regressed to semi-psychotic states. Moreover, McCoy said, detainees become so desperate for human interaction that “they bond with the interrogator like a father, or like a drowning man having a lifesaver thrown at him. If you deprive people of all their senses, they’ll turn to you like their daddy.” McCoy added that “after the Cold War we put away those tools. There was bipartisan reform. We backed away from those dark days. Then, under the pressure of the war on terror, they didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

The C.I.A.’s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura. “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,” an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. “At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”
Fast-forward to the current sorry decade:
According to a report adopted in June by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, titled “Secret Detentions and Illegal Transfers of Detainees,” detainees were “taken to their cells by strong people who wore black outfits, masks that covered their whole faces, and dark visors over their eyes.” (Some personnel reportedly wore black clothes made from specially woven synthetic fabric that couldn’t be ripped or torn.) A former member of a C.I.A. transport team has described the “takeout” of prisoners as a carefully choreographed twenty-minute routine, during which a suspect was hog-tied, stripped naked, photographed, hooded, sedated with anal suppositories, placed in diapers, and transported by plane to a secret location.

A person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, referring to cavity searches and the frequent use of suppositories during the takeout of detainees, likened the treatment to “sodomy.” He said, “It was used to absolutely strip the detainee of any dignity. It breaks down someone’s sense of impenetrability. The interrogation became a process not just of getting information but of utterly subordinating the detainee through humiliation.” The former C.I.A. officer confirmed that the agency frequently photographed the prisoners naked, “because it’s demoralizing.” The person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry said that photos were also part of the C.I.A.’s quality-control process. They were passed back to case officers for review.

A secret government document, dated December 10, 2002, detailing “SERE Interrogation Standard Operating Procedure,” outlines the advantages of stripping detainees. “In addition to degradation of the detainee, stripping can be used to demonstrate the omnipotence of the captor or to debilitate the detainee.” The document advises interrogators to “tear clothing from detainees by firmly pulling downward against buttoned buttons and seams. Tearing motions shall be downward to prevent pulling the detainee off balance.” The memo also advocates the “Shoulder Slap,” “Stomach Slap,” “Hooding,” “Manhandling,” “Walling,” and a variety of “Stress Positions,” including one called “Worship the Gods.”

In the process of being transported, C.I.A. detainees such as Mohammed were screened by medical experts, who checked their vital signs, took blood samples, and marked a chart with a diagram of a human body, noting scars, wounds, and other imperfections. As the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry put it, “It’s like when you hire a motor vehicle, circling where the scratches are on the rearview mirror. Each detainee was continually assessed, physically and psychologically.”
Nerdified link. As for those medical experts and psychologists involved in any way, shape or form with the gross human rights violations perpetrated by our government, all I can say is that we're looking at this generation's Nazi Doctors.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki - 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.

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

-- Sun Ra
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. Food for thought as we observe Hiroshima and Nagasaki's tragic anniversaries, and as we face the very real threat that the US will keep the option of nuclear war against Iran's civilians "on the table" (as the Lush/Zany, H. Clinton, and Obama gangs would say). Let us also observe as people of conscience the lies that the propaganda machine spewed in the aftermath of Hiroshima's and Nagasaki's nuking as they likely would be recycled by whichever White House regime chooses to nuke into oblivion fellow human beings. We must always remember. Never forget, never forgive.

Cross-posted at Man Eegee - Latino Político.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The cycle of netroots life

This cycle repeats every two years, and is even more reliable than Old Faithful.

This public service announcement brought to you by Democracy in Action and IOZ.

The Field Negro sez to Bob Costas:

Until the day comes when you can jack a 98 MPH fastball to the opposite field for a home run; just shut the f**k up!
Costas is one of the more toxic personalities among sports commentators, who is currently concentrating his ire on Barry Bonds as Bonds chases Hank Aaron's career Major League home run record. From my vantage point, Aaron's accomplishments will never be forgotten, as he was both a consistent hitter during his career, and he continued to hit plenty of homers even during the neo-dead ball era that began around the late 1960s (and would continue into the early 1980s). As for Bonds, like him or hate him, but like is dad Bobby, Barry was blessed with both power and speed through much of his career (let's say that baseball players who can simultaneously hit 30-plus homers and steal 30-plus bases in a season are a rare breed; and as a member of the 40-40 club Bonds I believe stands alone). What Bonds accomplishes will not be taken away - though among the sanctimonious sports writers will likely not be acknowledged come the vote for Hall of Fame membership.

I may be an unusual baseball fan in that the home runs are actually less of interest to me than base running and pitching. Stolen bases and strikeouts are where it's at for me. The former has been deemphasized the last decade and a half; but I never forget the great base stealers of the 1970s and 1980s (Ricky Henderson, Vince Coleman). As for strikeout artists, we have been witness to some great post-Nolan Ryan/Steve Carlton pitchers. Also have seen some great relievers (a facet of pitching that finally began to get its due when I was a kid back in the 1970s). Yeah, I can live without the home runs - I'll take a team like the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals any day. Not to diss the cats who can consistently knock those fastballs over the fences - as long as they are all-around players rather than unidimensional (think Dave Kingman).

As for Bob Costas - if I ever see him gracing my television monitor, I'll merely turn the sound to "mute" and just watch the game.