Saturday, July 19, 2008

Like the Taser, the drug Versed should not be in the hands of police

Here's yet another police abuse, currently occurring in Nashville (although I'm sure that it will soon arrive to a city near you):
For at least two years, the Nashville PD have been recklessly endangering citizens by using emergency medical personnel to forcibly inject Versed -- a powerful prescription medication with side effects including agitation and confusion -- into agitated, confused people. This potentially lethal stupidity is what we can expect when people who go to work with guns on their belt decide to play "doctor".

To compound the dangerous stupid, Versed's side effects include the same behavior the geniuses in Nashville seek to control.

Reactions such as agitation, involuntary movements, hyperactivity and combativeness have been reported in adult and pediatric patients. Should such reactions occur, caution should be exercised before continuing administration of midazolam.

In addition to making agitated patients more agitated, Versed can (and does) cause respiratory depression. What's respiratory depression - a case of the sighs? Nope - respiratory depression is the fancy doc talk for what happens when the nerve cells in our lizard brain get so sedated they forget to tell us to breathe - and we suffer severe brain damage, or even die. Because, amazingly enough, our brains require oxygen to survive.

Midazolam is a potent sedative agent that requires slow administration and individualization of dosage. Clinical experience has shown midazolam to be 3 to 4 times as potent per mg as diazepam. BECAUSE SERIOUS AND LIFE-THREATENING CARDIORESPIRATORY ADVERSE EVENTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED, PROVISION FOR MONITORING, DETECTION AND CORRECTION OF THESE REACTIONS MUST BE MADE FOR EVERY PATIENT TO WHOM MIDAZOLAM INJECTION IS ADMINISTERED, REGARDLESS OF AGE OR HEALTH STATUS. Excessive single doses or rapid or intravenous administration may result in respiratory depression, airway obstruction and/or arrest. The potential for these latter effects is increased in debilitated patients, those receiving concomitant medications capable of depressing the CNS, and patients without an endotracheal tube.

These deadly side-efects make Versed a drug that cannot be safely used without full capacity and opportunity to intubate the patient. In many teaching hospitals, use of Versed outside the ICU seting is restricted or prohibited: the risk of iatrogenic (treatment-caused) respiratory depression leading to brain damage or death is judged to be too great.

Of course, this concept may be lost on many whose co-workers insist that choke holds killed black people not because the victims couldn't breathe, but because of the victims' ethnicity.

The sheep have been herded

Ronnie Cummins has a column at CounterPunch that characterizes the so-called Netroots Nation (formerly Yearly Kos): Netroots Nation or Nation of Sheep? Here's part of his description of this morning's proceedings:
Saturday morning, July 19. Sitting here at the Netroots Nation conference in Austin, Texas with several thousand other online activists. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Party Speaker of the House, the third most powerful politician in the United States, is up on the podium, doing her best to damp down the mounting criticism of the Democratic Party's shameful collaboration in funding the war and aiding and abetting the Bush administration's shredding of the Constitution.

Before Pelosi speaks, an announcement is made from the podium that disruptions will not be tolerated--if any of us express our frustrations too passionately with Pelosi and the sell-out Democratic Party leadership we will be arrested. The first question the Netroots moderator poses to Pelosi is about impeachment. This generates considerable applause and cheers from the crowd. Pelosi, notorious for proclaiming that "impeachment is off the table," artfully dodges the question and evasively talks about censuring the Bush administration and getting tough on Karl Rove. This generates polite clapping from the front of the room, where all the tables have apparently been "reserved" for Pelosi fans. In contrast I can see groans, grimaces, and shaking of heads from many of us, the netroots rabble, sitting at the back of the hall.

I resist a strong urge to get up and leave. How long will the centrist bureaucrats of Netroots Nation and groups like MoveOn roll-over for lowest common denominator Democrats and Barack Obama? After an hour of rather boring rhetoric by Pelosi, Al Gore makes a surprise appearance on the stage, letting Nancy off the hook.
And yet many of those groaning, grimacing, and shaking their heads will continue to carry water for Pelosi and her ilk. In other words, they'll be good little sheep, just following the herd. Well, if you follow sheep, you'll step in a lot of sheep manure.

I noticed Cummings is plugging something called The Grassroots Netroots Alliance. I'll be curious to see if it amounts to something useful. One potential warning signal for me that it may end being less than promised is this statement:
GNA sees itself as complementary, yet also an alternative, to MoveOn.org and other pre-existing progressive, radical, and libertarian online networks.
Not sure being complementary to MoveOn and these other alleged "progressive" organizations is such a great idea. Better to focus on being an actual alternative altogether as Cummins is right that the doomsday clock is ticking.

I'm getting forgetful in my old age

Yesterday would have been Hunter S. Thompson's 71st birthday. Here's another timely HST quote:
We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us; they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.
Unfortunately, a good number of these half-wits characterize themselves as "progressive" and are filled with "hope you can believe in." Just remember, you can't spell believe without lie.

Newsweek's Stuart Taylor thinks Bu$hCo should be pardoned




That's right: what passes for "liberal media" here in the good ol' United States of Amerikkka would just as soon let the war criminals off the hook, to grow ever more fat and pasty, living off the largess of their book deals and think tank appointments. The rationale is that somehow the next White House regime will extract the truth from those jackals. There's just one problem: the White House and Congress belong to the same pack of jackals, and aren't going to do squat. If anything, as Brad of Sadly, No! says at Alternet:
The sad thing is: I know Obama will do exactly as Taylor recommends. Except he won't even bother to set up the fucking bogus-assed truth commission. Just sweep this shit under the rug and enjoy his newfound powers to issue warrantless wiretaps and torture orders. Oh, and be sure to give special immunity to people like Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockfeller, who should also be tossed in the Hague for being complicit in all this bullshit. This isn't about partisanship, peeps -- it's about restricting the ability of our political class to behave in the most reckless and lawless ways imagineable. If we don't want to degenerate into a damn banana republic, we have to demonstrate that we won't let our most powerful politicians get away with breaking the laws they've sworn to uphold. Stuart Taylor, you can bite me.
H/t Madman in the Marketplace, who duly notes that the US is already a banana republic. Brad is too polite in his closing sentence. To Stuart Taylor, I say simply, vete a la chingada (which translates roughly to "go fuck yourself", just in case you were to ask).

For more of the criminality which Taylor is only more than happy to pardon, see Chris Floyd's Torture Triptych: Portrait of the Real America, July 2008.

Quotable

Bruce Gagnon of the blog Organizing Notes sez:
The change we all long for will not come from the Democratic Party. A new positive and earth shaking train has just left the station. The question remains will people who see themselves as progressive have the wisdom to get on-board and not be left behind sorting through the crumbs left behind by the corporate parties.
That was the end of his summary of Cynthia McKinney's winning the Green Party nomination for President, and the selection of Rosa Clemente as her running mate. Hopefully, this bodes well for the Greens' prospects and broadens its appeal beyond the usual suburban white middle-class base. Hopefully the Greens will refuse to go with a "safe state" strategy that has in the past made the party little more than a handmaiden for the Democrats. The Dems, like their GOP counterparts, need to swept into the dustbin of history.

H/t Tim of Green Left Infoasis.

What fascism looks like

There's a pretty decent description in Genoa and the Culture of Fascism. A quote from the Nick Davies article:
That is about fascism. There are plenty of rumours that the police and carabinieri and prison staff belonged to fascist groups, but no evidence to support that. Pastore argues that that misses the bigger point: “It is not just a matter of a few drunken fascists. This is mass behaviour by the police. No one said ‘No.’ This is a culture of fascism.” At its heart, this involved what Zucca described in his report as “a situation in which every rule of law appears to have been suspended.”

Fifty-two days after the attack on the Diaz school, 19 men used planes full of passengers as flying bombs and shifted the bedrock of assumptions on which western democracies had based their business. Since then, politicians who would never describe themselves as fascists have allowed the mass tapping of telephones and monitoring of emails, detention without trial, systematic torture, the calibrated drowning of detainees, unlimited house arrest and the targeted killing of suspects, while the procedure of extradition has been replaced by “extraordinary rendition”. This isn’t fascism with jack-booted dictators with foam on their lips. It’s the pragmatism of nicely turned-out politicians. But the result looks very similar. Genoa tells us that when the state feels threatened, the rule of law can be suspended. Anywhere.
This is the fascism of pasty men wearing suits and ties. Certainly there appears to be a good deal of similarity between the patterns of behavior of the US, UK, and Italian regimes that should give us good reason to be alarmed and outraged. We saw these same patterns in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, as well as in Pinochet's Chile in the 1970s (Pinochet seems to be the darling of Italy's right-wingers). The use of torture seems to characterize our contemporary regimes' fascist impulses, along with the demonizing and persecution of ethnic minorities. In Italy, it's the Roma who are once more being targeted; in the US, it's people of Latin-American descent who are subjected to demonization (the use of "illegals" as a noun used to characterize brown-skinned people regardless of their citizenship or documentation, the return of Operation Wetback signs) and persecution (ICE raids, vigilantism, driving while Hispanic) with deadly consequences (as my friend Manny has made mention over the last couple years with regard to deaths of people trying to cross the desert border).

Yes, there are patterns. Going back to RickB:
History is full of warning signs and recognisable patterns, just as it is also full of people who ignore them. The way this story has been covered and the impunity for the majority of the perpetrators is significant. But then every day I wake up in a country headed by war criminals, take a breath, step back, this is where we are.
Ignorance is not bliss.

Like a phoenix

The South Central Farm may yet rise from the ashes, according to Juan Santos and Leslie Radford. By all means read the article, and if you're in the greater Los Angeles area, see what you can do to help out a good cause.

Eichmann in DC

This line from a review of Jane Mayer's book, The Dark Side, jumped out at me:
Above all, it underscores one of the least remarked aspects of our nation's counterterrorist policy: the degree to which it has been driven not by spies or generals but by pasty men in ties. "The first thing we do," goes that crowd-pleasing line from Shakespeare's "Henry VI," "let's kill all the lawyers." Readers of "The Dark Side" might be moved to add: "Before they kill you." Almost from the moment America was attacked, Mayer writes, Cheney "saw to it that some of the sharpest and best-trained lawyers in the country, working in secret in the White House and the United States Department of Justice, came up with legal justifications for a vast expansion of the government's power in waging war on terror. As part of that process, for the first time in history, the United States sanctioned government officials to physically and psychologically torment U.S.-held captives, making torture the official law of the land in all but name."
The line is highlighted, with some surrounding context included. By all means read the rest of the review.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A capsule summary of a sorry record and a question


I noticed that Richard at American Leftist provided his readers a service by highlighting a list of the actions (provided by Glen Greenwald) taken by the Democrat-led Congress since the current Congressional session started. It's not a pretty picture:


  • Repeatedly funded -- at the White House's insistence -- the Iraq War without conditions;


  • Defeated -- at the White House's insistence -- Jim Webb's bill to increase the intervals between deployments for U.S. troops;


  • Defeated -- at the White House's insistence -- a bill to restore habeas corpus, which had been abolished by the Military Commissions Act, enacted before the 2006 election with substantial Democratic and virtually unanimous GOP support;


  • Enacted -- at the White House's insistence and with substantial Democratic and virtually unanimous Republican support
  • -- the so-called Protect America Act, vesting the President with extreme new warrantless eavesdropping powers;

  • Overwhelmingly approved the Senate's Kyl-Lieberman Resolution, to declare parts of the Iranian Government a "terrorist organization," an extremely belligerent resolution modeled after those which made "regime change" the official U.S. Government position towards Iraq;
  • Deleted from a pending bill -- at the direction of the House Democratic leadership and at the insistence of the White House -- a provision merely to require Congressional approval before the Bush administration can attack Iran;


  • Overwhelmingly enacted -- at the White House's insistence, and with substantial Democratic and virtually unanimous GOP support -- the "FISA Amendments Act of 2008," to vest the President with broad new warrantless eavesdropping powers and to immunize lawbreaking telecoms, all but putting an end to any chance for a real investigation and judicial adjudication of the Bush administration's illegal NSA spying program;


  • Confirmed, with the indispensable support of two key Democratic Senators, Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, despite his support for radical Bush theories of executive power and his refusal to oppose torture;


  • Stood by passively and impotently while Bush officials flagrantly ignored their Subpoenas and refused to comply with their investigations.
  • That's not to mention the continued and persistent refusal by Congress to consider impeachment, even when there is plenty of good reason to do so. I guess there's always that faint hope of a post-term impeachment, but I wouldn't exactly bet the ranch on that either.

    The question Richard poses is one that Greenwald would likely never consider:
    Through these actions, the Democrats have been approving and financing neoconservative policies, thus raising the question, does the term neoconservative have any meaning, beyond its historic context? After all, if the President and the Congress are walking together on these issues, what use, if any, does it have for enhancing our understanding of the way by which this country is governed?

    [snip]

    By continuing to use the term as a way of explaining US foreign policy, are we accidentally deceiving people into believing that our policies in Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere are the consequences of the influence of a small, influential, entrenched group, when, in fact, there is general unanimity through the US social and political elite?
    I didn't have particularly high hopes in the immediate aftermath of the November 2006 elections. As I was saying at the time, the Dems won that one by default, by being "less bad" than the GOP. Even before the votes were cast, the soon-to-be-Speaker Pelosi was already taking impeachment "off the table." That statement then was enough of a foreshadowing of what was to come. As I try to come to grips with the legacy of the 110th session, I would even question whether it was truly "less bad" than the 109th, which at that point struck me as the absolute worst Congressional session of my lifetime. As it stands now, the 109th has some pretty stiff competition, and I'm not terribly optimistic about the 111th session that starts next January. I hold on to the faint hope that if the "progressive" wet dream comes true and the Dems manage to capture the White House and expand majorities in the House and Senate, the resulting status quo will finally disabuse us all of the notion that the Dems are an opposition party or a force for defending civil liberties and human rights.

    Past behavior is a good, if imperfect, predictor of future behavior - at least good enough to suggest having low expectations for next year's crop of Democrats. You will not be getting "more and better" Democrats, rather you will be getting more of the same. What remains to be seen is if those among the blogging punditry and elsewhere who were passionately against torture, mass civilian casualties, and erosion of civil rights and liberties when they could still plausibly lay the blame on the GOP will hold their favored party's leaders to the same standard. From what I've already observed on the gated community blogs with regards to the pathetic performance of Pelosi et al, I'm expecting to see a lot of excuse making in the years ahead.

    This is all a very long-winded way of saying that the neocon term is rapidly losing whatever meaning it may once have had, and once more asserting that the elites within both parties are basically on the same page. There may or may not be a dime's worth of difference between the Dems and the Rethugs, but that difference is so miniscule as to be practically meaningless. America's governing elites are becoming more brazenly authoritarian; the question remains is whether there is a sufficient disconnect between the elites and the rest of us to finally spark some resistance.

    Now what was that thing that Stalin said about voting?

    Here's a statement attributed to Stalin:

    "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."
    There's certainly something Stalinesque about the way votes have been counted during the current decade. The Deibold touch screen voting machines in particular have received attention, in part because of the corporation's affiliation with the GOP and in part because of those odd anomalies that cropped up during the 2004 presidential election. The latest, with regard to anomalies in Georgia during the 2002 mid-terms just recently made the news:
    A leading cyber-security expert and former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he has fresh evidence regarding election fraud on Diebold electronic voting machines during the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial and senatorial elections.

    Stephen Spoonamore is the founder and until recently the CEO of Cybrinth LLC, an information technology policy and security firm that serves Fortune 100 companies. At a little noticed press conference in Columbus, Ohio Thursday, he discussed his investigation of a computer patch that was applied to Diebold Election Systems voting machines in Georgia right before that state's November 2002 election.

    [snip]

    Spoonamore received the Diebold patch from a whistleblower close to the office of Cathy Cox, Georgia’s then-Secretary of State. In discussions with RAW STORY, the whistleblower -- who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation -- said that he became suspicious of Diebold's actions in Georgia for two reasons. The first red flag went up when the computer patch was installed in person by Diebold CEO Bob Urosevich, who flew in from Texas and applied it in just two counties, DeKalb and Fulton, both Democratic strongholds. The source states that Cox was not privy to these changes until after the election and that she became particularly concerned over the patch being installed in just those two counties.

    The whistleblower said another flag went up when it became apparent that the patch installed by Urosevich had failed to fix a problem with the computer clock, which employees from Diebold and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office had been told the patch was designed specifically to address.

    Some critics of electronic voting raised questions about the 2002 Georgia race even at the time. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who was five percentage points ahead of Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss in polls taken a week before the vote, lost 53% to 46%. Incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Barnes, who led challenger Sonny Perdue in the polls by eleven points, lost 51% to 46%. However, because the Diebold machines used throughout the state provided no paper trail, it was impossible to ask for a recount in either case.

    Concerned by the electoral outcome, the whistleblower approached Spoonamore because of his qualifications and asked him to examine the Diebold patch.
    McCain adviser reported patch to Justice Department

    The Ohio press conference was organized by Cliff Arnebeck and three other attorneys, who had filed a challenge to the results of that the 2004 presidential election in Ohio in December, 2004. That challenge was withdrawn, but in August 2006 Arnebeck filed a new case, King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell, alleging civil rights violations in the 2004 voting. The case was stayed in 2007. On Thursday, Arnebeck filed a motion to remove the stay and allow fresh investigation.

    Individuals close to Arnebeck's office said Spoonamore confirmed that the patch included nothing to repair a clock problem. Instead, he identified two parallel programs, both having the full software code and even the same audio instructions for the deaf. Spoonamore said he could not understand the need for a second copy of the exact same program -- and without access to the machine for which the patch was designed, he could not learn more. Instead, he took the evidence to the Cyber-Security Division of the Department of Justice and reported the series of events to authorities. The Justice Department has not yet acted on his report.

    And now a musical interlude

    Revolution Number Nine



    That was one of the more intriguing bits from the Beatles catalogue, acting as a prelude to the musical treats that would await us in the following decades. That tune seemed like a touchstone for early industrial music (Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle stand out), ambient (Eno, but also The Orb, Richard Kirk under either his own name or his many pseudonyms), and those crazy culture jammers and mash-up artists such as Negativeland and Evolution Control Committee. In other words, this is precisely the sort of stuff I groove on when not in the mood for some jazz. Welcome to just one small corner of my world.

    Video h/t Roobin at Through The Scary Door

    Since I can never get enough of the Beat Era

    I thought I'd let you know that Roobin's treating us to a bit of a summary of William S. Burroughs' work.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Hunter S. Thompson sez

    “I have never been able to properly explain myself in this climate.”

    Props to Emo As Fuck who got the quote from here.

    Worth a try

    I don't hold particularly high hopes with regard to impeachment, as you might have surmised from my writings here, but I will say that Kucinich's efforts deserve support:

    At 10 a.m. on Friday July 25th, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a preliminary hearing on the topic of impeachment, with a presentation by Congressman Dennis Kucinich. This is not yet a true impeachment hearing, but it is our opportunity to push for one, and it represents a tremendous victory after years of effort by millions of Americans who want to keep the Constitution alive. This never would have happened without your hard work. And we can't let up now!

    The National Impeachment Network is organizing a rally and asking everyone who can to take a day off for justice and meet at 9 a.m. on Friday July 25th in front of the Rayburn House Office Building on the Independence Avenue side. Bring impeachment shirts and posters! For more information contact ningroup@gmail.com

    NOTE: The hearing has not been announced, but two members of Congress closely involved in this have told us it is at 10 a.m. on the 25th, and Chairman Conyers himself has so informed Veterans for Peace.

    Between now and Friday the 25th, please take these steps:

    Contact your member of Congress in support of impeachment.

    Ask the media to cover the hearing.

    Sign the petition at Congressman Kucinich's website.

    I won't bet my life's savings on anything substantive coming out of it, but boy would it sure be nice to finally have impeachment proceedings occur.

    "Freedom"

    Court: US Can Jail Civilians Indefinitely

    A federal appeals court has ruled President Bush can order the indefinite jailing of civilians imprisoned in the United States. The five-to-four decision effectively reverses last year’s ruling that the administration cannot label US residents “enemy combatants” and jail them indefinitely without charge. The ruling came in the case of the only person still held as an enemy combatant on US soil. Ali al-Marri was arrested six years ago at his home in Peoria, Illinois, where he lived with his wife and five children. He was initially charged with credit card fraud and lying to federal agents. But in June 2003, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and ordered him into military custody. He has spent the last four years in solitary confinement at a Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Al-Marri’s attorney Jonathan Hafetz said, “This decision means the president can pick up any person in the country—citizen or legal resident—and lock them up for years without the most basic safeguard in the Constitution, the right to a criminal trial.”

    In any other context, it would be called:

    H/t Inteligentaindigena Indigenismo Novajoservo.

    When Life Imitates Art

    From Saturday Night Fever:
    Fusco: You can save a little, build a future.
    Tony Manero: Oh fuck the future!
    Fusco: No, Tony! You can't fuck the future. The future fucks you! It catches up with you and it fucks you if you ain't planned for it!
    Tony Manero: Look, tonight is the future, and I am planning for it. There's this shirt I gotta buy, a beautiful shirt.
    Cheers to the US government (and the culture itself) for continuing to chant that mantra, "Fuck the future," for about three decades. Looks like the future's about right now. Ready?

    Great title

    You, on the other hand, are just the right size to fail, based on the article, Fannie, Freddie Are Too Big to Fail, Lawmakers Say.

    And lose we will. Big.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    Let's try this one more time. There is no opposition party in Congress. Tom Hayden's rose-colored pronouncements of Democratic opposition toward plans to escalate the Afghanistan war should be treated as tragicomical farce. The same could be said for anyone arguing that "more and better" Democrats would bother to stop torture or act to prosecute those responsible in Congress and the White House.

    Home again

    Got in last night, too tired to string together so much as a coherent sentence.

    I have plenty of pictures to sort through, and figure out what's fit for the blog and what's not. We managed to get to the beach a couple times, which was great. My son has discovered body surfing, so watch out next year.

    The trip home was relatively uneventful, which is just fine by me. Around Grants, we stopped to grab a bite and we met a Vietnam Vet who had all sorts of cool stickers on his truck (including one that said something along the lines of "I took Bush's place in Vietnam" and a sticker advertising the City Lights bookstore and publishing company). I gathered his truck met with some unpleasant reaction out in Roswell, but as he said, it's like a different state around there.

    This morning, when we went to pick up the dogs, we noticed just how green the surrounding landscape has become. I checked the Mesonet data for my community, and found that we got something like 2.5 inches of rain in the last week, moving our total for the year at just a hair above seven inches. That's still a bit below average, but it helps. Hopefully we'll see a bit more rain this weekend. Looks like Cimarron county, to the west of us, is still suffering.

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Back on the road

    At least that is the tentative plan. I get the distinct impression that Madame and son played a bit hard at Disney Land, so I'll have a better idea of where we're at in the morning. Otherwise, all systems are go.

    In the last few days, we've taken the kids to Huntington Beach, Crystal Cove State Beach (son & I, along with a close friend), and of course the Tragic Kingdom. I also took my son to visit Black Hole Records in Fullerton - one of a rare breed of successful independent record stores in this day and age, and began the process of passing on the torch to him. He's a bit of a Sonic Youth fan, so I think he walked away quite satisfied. Bill and Anna are wonderful people, and I certainly hope they find continued success. On Saturday, the daughters got to spend some time shopping with Madame and Grandma (I still can't bring myself to look at any receipts), as well as some time swimming at a local pool. Needless to say, there are tons of pictures to wade through, as well as some memories to process. All told, it's been a good stay - albeit a shorter one than usual.

    Now, it's back through the desert that I know and love. Catch y'all on the flip.

    New appreciation for algae

    Never thought I'd say it, but algae could be useful in the process of weaning away from fossil fuels. As always, I'll maintain some skepticism until there is some data, especially since estimates of the gallons of fuel per acre that are supposed to be produced seem too good to be true. Certainly we need to ditch the use of corn as a source of ethanol pronto, given the deleterious effect it's having on food prices.

    This seems familiar

    Roobin sez:
    We have two neo-liberal parties but no neo-liberal consensus.
    That's a description of the UK situation, where the dominant parties are the Tories and NuLabour. You can do the math with regards to our situation in the US.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    How to make fascism return

    Have no viable alternative on the left. Yes, it really is that simple:
    But Milne makes a further point. The rise of neo-fascism in Italy, and elsewhere, is tied to the collapse -- or rather the surrender -- of center-left parties to the pernicious doctrines of the Right. Everywhere, these parties --- Democrats in America, Labour in the UK, various Social Democrats throughout Europe – have turned themselves into pale copies of conservative parties, adopting policies that have degraded society, destroyed communities, entrenched injustice, rewarded greed, poisoned the earth, embraced militarism and aggression, inflicted vast suffering on developing nations (through the straightjacket of "market reforms," i.e., corporate-crony welfare), subverted democracy, diminished liberty and gutted the very notion of the common good.

    [Yet we are being too kind in calling this process a "surrender." As Arthur Silber has pointed out many times, the Democrats – and New Labour and other craven centre-left parties – have embraced the Right's agenda of elitist domination, militarism and scorn for the common good because they agree with it. Any figures with genuinely "progressive" views have been winnowed out or marginalized by the big money machines that run the parties. Such people are always a minority amongst the self-interested factions who vie for domination over a nation's affairs, of course. But there used to be a more substantial minority of such folks in U.S. politics, with enough leverage to sometimes affect national policy and even score some successes. But this strain has been almost completely bred out, as we have seen in the latest Democratic Congress – the most reviled and unpopular Congress in American history.]
    All this is in the context of the Italian government's recent decision to basically persecute an entire ethnic group, the Roma (or Gypsies as most know them), who have been historically persecuted (in the last century, fascist governments such as the Nazi government in Germany perpetrated genocide against the Roma). From what I gather, center-left parties back then tended to collaborate with the more fascist elements of the right. That certainly seems the case now. How many of these liberal, labor, or social democratic parties have accepted the basic premises underlying neoliberalism? For those of us looking for something of an alternative, that can be thoroughly discouraging. I know that feeling well. What I keep holding on to is the thought that organization does not occur overnight, and that it is still possible for those of us who might feel like voices in the wilderness to drop a few palabras, plant seeds that will grow over time.

    The coming decades will be difficult - not insurmountably so, but realistically we need to remember that we're fighting against a structure that has had decades to metastasize. Connections to one another will be critical using all tools available to us, including of course the electronic means of communication. It is also critical to think outside of the traditional party systems in our respective nations, and to work towards making attractive alternatives viable. In my nation, socialism has had a bad name for so long that even mentioning the term in a positive light is the height of political incorrectness. The unraveling of the structures that have maintained neoliberalism's stranglehold on political discourse open a potential space for us to offer alternatives that actually promote social and economic justice. Prepare now, and remember that the alternative is guaranteed to be fatal for large proportions of humanity.

    Classic

    "By the time the election rolls around... the only people left supporting Bush will be the democrats in the House and Senate."
    That pretty well sums it up. To rub salt in the wounds, by the first week in November, the only ones supporting the Democrats in the House and Senate will be White House occupants.

    Newspeak

    The Defense Department unveiled its new policy on cluster munitions. In it, the weapons, which scatter tiny bomblets over huge swaths of territory, are described as “legitimate weapons with clear military utility.” Not only do “they provide distinct advantages against a range of targets,” a Defense Department press release notes, but “their use reduces risks to U.S. forces and can save U.S. lives.”
    That's right: cluster bombs save lives (or at least allegedly so for the only lives that apparently count: i.e., those who are not brown-skinned peoples who just happen to be the unfortunate recipients of cluster bombs).

    Another piece to the puzzle

    The "war on drugs" crowd need reminding that the real danger is not the ones that have been criminalized, but rather the ones that are legal. Tobacco and alcohol are the two worst culprits. About 3% of all drug-related deaths are from the ones that have been made illegal.

    The thing about the left

    Although RickB is directing his comments toward an English audience, but they fit within an American context as well:
    I’m going to bear in mind that an atomised opposition will be corporatism’s and the fascist’s greatest ally. It’s a long road but the ‘left’ was not an invention out of nowhere, it exists because people feel and think in a way broadly described as left-wing (and those that don’t think are the right, ta-da!) but at the moment those people have been scammed by people presenting as leftists but who were simply shiny salesmen for corporatism, who are now de facto war criminals. It is also important to realise that unconstrained capitalism will kill us all, the planet won’t tolerate it, or us, if we keep this shit up. ‘Growth’ can no longer be the only yardstick to measure humanity, quality of life, equality and justice should describe our existence, be the coordinates and parameters of our lives. So it’s not just a narrow question of UK politics, everything is connected, take a deep breath, step back. The Left failing now is an Extinction Level Event.
    Food for thought.