Saturday, September 1, 2007

Mike Gravel sez

"Young men and women are dying every day."



There are very few Democrats that I can stand. Mike Gravel is one of these, largely due to a consistent and long-term record of opposing US-led wars. The video itself is pretty minimalistic, placing all the focus on his central message. Beats the usual campaign glitz any day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Quotable: Bird's Words


"Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom.
If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.
They teach you there's a boundary line to music.
But, man, there's no boundary line to art."

Hurricane Katrina: Two Years Later

Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast with devastating fury. The scope of the human suffering in New Orleans and nearby communities such as Biloxi, MS was nothing short of overwhelming. The US government fiddled while these communities drowned. Two years on, not a whole lot has changed. The ethnic cleansing of NOLA that ensued is largely complete.

I suppose if we've learned anything, it's to remind ourselves that the Prez and Congress-critters are highly unlikely to care about devastated communities and more about the profit margins of the corporations getting them "elected" in the first place. You're on your own, in other words. That said, communities can be built and rebuilt, largely DIY-style, and affected communities can offer alternative narratives to those appearing via the usual channels of corporate propaganda. We've also as a result of the NOLA disaster and the assorted military quagmires in the Middle East and Central Asia that there are some cracks in the seemingly insurmountable hyperpower's facade.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mal Goberniero

First Atenco, then Oaxaca – Chiapas, You’re Next
Take the four Spanish citizens snatched off the street in Oaxaca a couple of weeks of ago. Laia Serra (human rights lawyer), Ramón Sesén (professor), Nuria Morelló (anthropologist) and Ariadna Nieto (journalist) were walking with a Mexican friend in the historic centre of Oaxaca at 9.30pm on 5th August when they were surrounded by police, thrown up against a wall, then forced into a pick-up truck. They were taken to what appeared to them to be military or police quarters “...where people were dressed in blue and green uniforms. When they took us out of the truck they covered our heads and dragged us to a wall where we were forced to kneel down while they took away our back packs, fanny packs, documentation, and money.” After being robbed, they were variously photographed, interrogated, threatened, beaten, sexually assaulted, forced to do “humiliating acts” and terrorized – but they were not informed of what offences they were accused of or why they had been detained ie, they were subjected to what now appears to be standard Mexican police procedure – violent arbitrary detention. THEN they were taken to a police station, processed (but not permitted to make a phone call or contact their Consulate), and appeared before a judge who informed them that they had been caught without identification – she was completely uninterested in the fact that the police who took their bags had it all, and ordered their transfer to an immigration detention centre in Mexico City, pending deportation. From there they managed to contact the Spanish Consulate, and were finally released on 13 August, when Mexican authorities admitted they were in the country legally, and there was no justification for their deportation. Of course it is pure coincidence that both Laia and Ramón were involved in the 5th International Civil Commission for the Observation of Human Rights, which in February presented a damning report detailing human rights abuses in Oaxaca, and all four had attended the Zapatista International Encuentro in Chiapas the previous week...

[snip]

his month alone:

- on August 2 in the Community of Francisco Villa, Autonomous Municipality of La Paz, Northern Zone, anti-Zapatistas burned down María López Oñate’s house. There are constant threats against this community to keep the population in fear, especially threats of rape directed at the women.

- August 10 in the Community of Ba yulumax, Autonomous Municipality of Chilón, 13 members of the paramilitary organization OPDDIC brutally attacked Leonardo Navarrese, kidnapping, beating and shooting him, resulting in six serious bullet wounds, while his son Juan received a head injury, and a bullet wound in his shoulder.

- August 18, in addition to the attack in Montes Azules, seven people were detained in Buen Samaritano, San Manuel Municipality. Their identities and whereabouts are stillunknown, as are their physical and psychological welfare.

- Eviction threats also currently exist for the communities of Salvador Allende and Nuevo Corozal.

These recent repressions are hot on the heels of the Second Zapatista International Encuentro, a seemingly exceedingly cynical response to international interest, and a challenge to all defenders of human rights.

The events of Atenco, Oaxaca, Chiapas are clearly not aberrations. They all involve the considered, premeditated, and continued use of municipal, state, and federal forces and institutions to illegally, and with apparent total impunity, trample the human rights of both Mexicans and foreigners alike, including those of international human rights observers and media representatives like the four Spanish citizens abducted by police in Oaxaca, like Valentina Palma, Cristina Valls, and María Sostres similarly abducted then deported from Atenco, like Brad Will murdered in Oaxaca while trying to get word out to the rest of the world about what was happening then, and is still happening today, right now, in Mexico – gross, systematic, federally- and seemingly internationally-sanctioned, human rights abuses – and this from the country occupying the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Hat tip to Nezua.

A bad day to be Republican

Let's see:

Disgraced AG Abu Gonzales resigns, and in a demonstration of the Peter Principle, Junior Caligula will fill the position with an inexperienced flunky.

Idaho's Sen. Larry Craig's recent arrest for lewd conduct in a public restroom was revealed. So much for "family values", eh?

Hyper-wingnut Ted Nugent, a pro-war Man's Man if ever there were one, apparently went out of his way to avoid the draft during the Vietnam era (let's just say he would have smelled like a feedlot, much to the chagrin of anyone downwind of the dude).

Genocide? What Genocide?

That seems to have been the ADL's position regarding the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century. Of course Holocaust denial will get on in deep dog-doo-doo for good reason. Other genocides (whether the Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, the American Indians at the hands of European Settlers, or Palestinians at the hands of Israelis) can be denied with impunity, and with abundant doses of political correctness to boot.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Dolchstoßlegende: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The Dolchstoßlegende (as I've noted before) is a tried and true propaganda technique that has worked since the Nazis utilized it to devastating effect back in the day, and has been used by right-wingers elsewhere since - including during the aftermath of the Vietnam debacle, and at present as the US government's Mess o' Potamia has all the appeal of sharing a crowded airplane with Ebola patients. Recently Junior Caligula has been invoking Vietnam, and as Alan Bock has pointed out, he's using his summer vacation in the capacity of Chief Propagandist:
I suspect that what's really going on with President Bush's invocation of the Vietnam war, which most hawks have resisted until recently, is not necessarily a late endorsement of that quagmire of a war or even an argument that the United States should have stayed longer (although it could be read that way). I suspect that, instead, at some subterranean level in what passes for his consciousness, he knows that the Iraq war will end badly, and he is positioning himself and his dwindling band of supporters to place the blame not on those who foolishly started the war and then mismanaged it so badly, but on Congress and other opponents of the war.

To do this he is invoking what to most historians and those who lived through that sad episode in American history is an eccentric interpretation of how and why the war ended in the way that it did, but one that still holds some resonance among some conservatives whose memories are a little fuzzy (perhaps purposely?) and other hardliners. The short version was summed up by Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" character in (if memory serves) the second of the Rambo movies. Stallone's Rambo asks Richard Crenna's Col. Trautman something like "Are we going to be allowed to win this time?"

[snip - lots of important background info; make sure to read]

The point of all this admittedly abbreviated history is to emphasize that it wasn't Congress pulling the rug from under the military by cutting funding that led to the end of the Vietnam war but a variety of factors, including the unsuitability of U.S. forces for guerrilla war, a widespread realization that South Vietnam's government couldn't match the North in determination and persistence, and larger geopolitical factors, including the desire of the Nixon administration to pursue détente with the Soviet Union and create an opening to China.

What Bush and various neocons are up to in their invocation of Vietnam is starting to plow the soil for laying the blame for defeat in Iraq. If they get their way, it won't be laid at the feet of those who started the war and had to improvise the occupation because they had no plan and were profoundly and even proudly ignorant of the history and political and ethnic dynamics of the country they thought they were liberating – we were the indispensable nation that could transcend history and shape reality to our desires, after all. Instead it will be laid at the feet of those in Congress who rather belatedly began to have second thoughts as reality became increasingly unpleasant, and especially at the feet of those who were wise enough to advise against starting the war in the first place.
It's times like this when right-wing hardliners need scapegoats, and I can guarantee that we will continue to see these goons target those who've voiced dissent regarding the War on Terra (whether belatedly in the case of most "respectable" liberals and moderates, or from the git-go like a number of us have done consistently), as well as whomever else might be at a disadvantaged position to fight back (in Germany that meant targeting Jews, Gypsies, and those of Slavic heritage; this time it'll be those of Arab or Central Asian descent as well as anyone who looks even remotely Hispanic).

See also on this blog:

The Dolchstoßlegende and the GOP

Stupid quote of the week (so far)

A footnote to discussion on "The Dolchstoßlegende"

The Dolchstoßlegende Rides Again

This Weekend's Dolchstoßlegende

Weekend reading on the Dolchstoßlegende

Today's Example of the Dolchstoßlegende

More Fun With the Dolchstoßlegende: National Review Cruise Edition