Saturday, December 29, 2007

Freud never would have asked, "now why do you think your leaders are bunch of paternalistic pricks?"

Freud's famous sofa. photo: Konstantin Binder

Bernhard at Moon of Alabama: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called for an independent, international investigation into the death of one million Iraqis — perhaps by the United Nations — saying Friday there was "no reason to trust the U.S. government." [link]

He goes on: Yes - I misquoted that bit of hypocrisy. It was originally aimed at Pakistan. But there is more of her lunacy: "[W]e need to help them understand what is in their interest and that of course includes President Musharraf."

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

it's the Saturday before Christmas

I'm tired of politics for the mo', so here's a photo of a '72 Dodge Charger. I think I still liked Christmas in 1972(when I was eight), and I had no idea who Nixon or McGovern were or where Vietnam was. But I'm pretty sure knew it was a place, and was far away, and it was something grownups talked about.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Wexler, Cheney, this and that: 12.20.2007

1.Wexler and company now have over 100,000 signatures for their impeach let's-have-hearings-regarding Cheney website(previously discussed here.) In spite of the (substantial)skepticism I feel regarding whether such gestures as signing an internet petition actually worth a tinker's dam to characters like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, I recognize that it's that same skepticism that leads some people to support "viable" candidates like HRC and other ostensible progressives who are just kinder, gentler war boosters.

Nevertheless, signing an internet petition isn't the same as supporting phoney-baloney liberals with votes and money, so there's something to be said for signing them, as long as you don't allow yourself to be suckered by a broader-- and mostly false-- sense of optimism about the democratic party as a whole.

I'd like to revisit this topic later- actually I think it's two topics:

1.How can one be a liberal when the figureheads of liberalism*, generally speaking, aren't particularly liberal?

(*I would say "progressive," which for better or worse is presently trendier, but the word has begun to bug me as it's begun to have a "better-management-of-failed-policies" stink about it of late. Call it not wanting to belong to a club that would have someone like Joe Biden as a member, to paraphrase Groucho Marx. Liberalism.)

2. How do you explain to ordinary, non-wonkish people why, to so many of us,** "The Left is the New Right"? (And definitely not in a good way.)

A lot of decent, reasonably smart people who mean well and don't necessarily want the US to be a bloodthirsty empire only understand things in terms dictated by CNN and their ilk, and think someone like Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich is too liberal, as if everything political could be measured on a simple two-dimensional continuum, but if you ask them what "too liberal" means they either don't have a clue or only understand the concept in terms of assertions they've heard regularly spouting out of deliberately ignorant big-media loudmouths like Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity.

(**Maybe it goes without saying, but even though I tend to identify certain bloggers and others as being part of an informal association of like-minded persons who look at it this way, I will only presume to speak for myself. Maybe I should just wish that Arthur Silber might tackle a general field theory of why the left is the new right, as I imagine he'd do it ten or twenty times better than I could-- but to paraphrase Rob Payne's friend Charlie Parker, I will light my fire, set up my skillet and see what I can cook up with this weekend.)

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

12.18 reuters: airstrikes on Gaza

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wexler and impeachment

from the stalwart Jonathan Schwarz:

"Rep. Robert Wexler has set up with Luis Gutierrez and Tammy Baldwin a web site calling for impeachment hearings for Cheney. The significance of this is that they're all on the Judiciary Committee, where the hearings would be held -- and Wexler is seen as "moderate" (he's not even in the progressive caucus) and is listened to by other Congressmembers in a way, say, Kucinich is not. This indicates the Democratic center of gravity is shifting on impeachment."

is it possible to remain hopeful while being exceptionally cynical about the likely end result? I don't know-- I try to be as positive as Jon Schwarz, and franky wonder from time to time how he manages it. So, I encourage you to click over and sign Wexler's petition, which I'm told has had over 60,000 signatures in the 1st 48 hours.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

remember this?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hello out there...

I note that Terry Welch of The nitpicker blog seems to have yanked his posts from blogger. Does anyone reading this know about Welch's story? (I know about a year ago he announced a plan to go to either Afghanistan or Iraq to write about events there, and I understand he was in Afghanistan a few years ago.) Unfortunately I hadn't kept up with his blog lately.

Also, what has become of Manish of

And what about Lisa English of Ruminate This? Er, Ruminate This! (Note that her occasional co-writer Jack K. is still going strong at Grumpy Forester.)

I imagine Haroun Moghul of Avari, later Eteraz, is busy with his doctoral program at Columbia or working on another book, and although his blog writings are eminently missed by me, I can well imagine he doesn't have the time. Best wishes sir, wherever you are.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

gribby gribby gribby

I confess that I agree w xymphora: if you have to have an online gallery of unretouched photos of HRC looking grotesque or otherwise unflatteringly posed, at least include this photo.

"When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible."-Jomo Kenyatta

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Monday, December 10, 2007

A Monday night miscellany

The Brown Dog affair was a political controversy about animal testing (vivisection) that raged in Edwardian England from 1903 until 1910. It involved the infiltration of London University medical lectures by Swedish women activists, pitched battles between medical students and the police, police protection for the statue of a dog, a libel trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, and the establishment of a Royal Commission to investigate the use of animals in experiments. The affair became a cause célèbre that reportedly divided the country.
Anti-vivisectionists commissioned a bronze statue of the dog as a memorial, unveiled in Battersea in 1906, but medical students were angered by its provocative plaque — "Men and women of England, how long shall these things be?" — leading to frequent vandalism of the memorial and the need for a 24-hour police guard against the so-called "anti-doggers". On 10 December 1907, 1,000 anti-doggers marched through central London, clashing with suffragettes, trade unionists, and 400 police officers in Trafalgar Square, one of a series of battles that became known as the Brown Dog riots.

Tired of the controversy, Battersea Council removed the statue in 1910 under cover of darkness, after which it was allegedly destroyed by the council's blacksmith, despite a 20,000-strong petition in its favour. A new statue of the brown dog was commissioned by anti-vivisection groups over 70 years later, and was erected in Battersea Park in 1985.

the BBC on how to boil an egg(!).

Justin Raimondo, American Conservative magazine(2006):
Hillary the Hawk: the Democrats’ Athena only differs from Bush on the details.

John Caruso:
"The one thing that Democrat-hugging progressives must never forget"

Here's former Democratic operative and current MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell, speaking in An Unreasonable Man:

If you want to pull the party--the major party that is closest to the way you're thinking--to what you're thinking, YOU MUST, YOU MUST show them that you're capable of not voting for them. If you don't show them you're capable of not voting for them, they don' listen to you. I promise you that. I worked within the Democratic Party. I didn't listen, or have to listen, to anything on the left while I was working in the Democratic Party, because the left had nowhere to go.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Anything for a Buck

As Iraq continues to disintegrate into city states run by warlords America’s “Defense” (war is now referred to as defense) industry is padding the pockets of our leading Democrat presidential frontrunners but not to worry the war industry is covering all their bases by giving gobs of cash to all the front runners in our so-called elections (dog and pony show).

According to the Progressive this is the breakdown of what our own leading warlord hopefuls have received this quarter alone from the war industry.

Chris Dodd -- $168,900

Hillary Clinton -- $128,988

Obama -- $57,990

Giuliani -- $58,400

Romney -- $82,975

Interestingly though Hillary Clinton is the worst choice among the Democrats when it comes to a continued program of war in Iraq and beyond she is clearly ahead in recent polls for the race to the Whitehouse. I believe this is so for more than one reason. First Americans are very poor at paying attention to politics other than what they get from watching the local news. Second the news media itself will support any candidate that is pro-war, pro-establishment and represents the so-called mainstream while candidates that do not fall into this category are relegated for the most part to obscurity and derision, they are simply not to be taken seriously. Keep in mind that the news media is in business to make profits and war is very good for news media profits. Adding to the problem of a less than forthright news media are those unwitting dupes of power and the establishment the centrist bloggers who continue to support the Democratic Party no matter what. Some may actually be getting paid for these services rendered but most do it out of an abysmal ignorance and an unreasoning tribal loyalty based on erroneous assumptions. I recently read at one blog that the answer to our problems is to vote in progressive politicians at all levels of government. The only problem with this brilliant thinking is that with a minute handful of exceptions there really are no progressive politicians. If I suggested that the answer is to howl at the moon it would be as useful. And while these centrist blogs sometimes come up with useful facts they unfailingly fail to make that final connection that the Democrats are screwing us and have been for decades.

In an interview with Nir Rosen, Rosen states that it does not matter at this point if we end the occupation of Iraq or not. Keep in mind that this statement by Rosen is only in the framework of what it means for Iraq. In that framework Rosen is probably correct yet for the average American nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put the cost of the Iraq occupation is killing our democracy, which in my opinion has long been dying anyway, and our economy. Since the Democratic Party has been just as guilty as the Republicans of promoting an illegal war, which has become an illegal occupation, they are not about to impeach Bush or Cheney. Both Republican and Democrats alike are up to their necks in one of the greatest crimes of recent history. If the Democrats were to pursue impeachment they would have to impeach themselves as well for they are guilty of the same crimes they would be impeaching Bush and Cheney for. And besides all that the Democrats are war mongers themselves due to their undying belief in American exceptionalism and our right to dominate the planet which they see as being for everyone’s benefit not to mention the benefits to their own bank accounts.

We need to keep in mind that for both of our political parties power is paramount for power is an end to itself and provides all the justification needed to do whatever it takes to stay in power up to an including ignoring the destruction of the nation the political parties are leading. I don’t know who coined the phrase follow the money but it should have been chiseled into the stone tablets Moses brought down from the mountain, perhaps the eleventh commandment.

Prior to World War II there was no war industry, at least not as we know it today, which we hilariously and less than honestly refer to as the defense industry. During World War II factories that were fabricating peacetime goods were converted to manufacturing weapons but as is so often the case with capitalism (anything for a buck) giant corporations found just how lucrative the death industry could be and they liked it.

From the American Prospect:

In fact, the United States is still far and away the top arms exporter on the planet, delivering $11.6 billion in arms last year[2005] -- 45.6 percent of the world's total, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service.

Politicians often use the patriot ploy as in the oft used term support the troops which has become a double edged sword for the Democrats on one side using it to hide their true agenda of endless war while on the other hand live in fear of being accused of not supporting the troops. Whatever one may think of the troops the troops are simply not the issue they are but pawns used as cannon fodder for whatever is convenient at the time by our illustrious national leaders. When you consider that patriotism is the furthest thing from national leader as well as weapon maker minds one should do a double take every time someone makes an appeal to your “patriotism.” Patriotism is nothing but propaganda used to pull a blanket over the eyes to hide the true motives of men. Consider this passage from the same American Prospect essay.

No one can accuse the defense industry of lacking audacity. Despite receiving vast sums of money from the Pentagon each year, and having much of Congress in their back pocket, arms manufacturers have been holding conference after conference of late complaining that big government is keeping them down. At a Heritage Foundation event in mid-October, at which industry officials gathered to discuss the burdens of arms-export regulations, Robert Bauerlein, a vice president at Boeing, griped: "Government fundamentally doesn't trust industry to do the right thing when it comes to export controls." This from a company that earlier this year was fined $15 million for illegally selling military technology to China.

One could take this one step further if you consider a reality where our government is no government at all but is merely a front for the giant corporations who rule our lives and fates confounding our sensibilities with a puppet government whose goal is to make their corporate masters richer than they already are and at the same time keeping themselves in power.

Recalling those “donations” from the war industry we can see how though they favor certain mainstream candidates they do a good job of covering all their bases by giving large sums of money to all the candidates. To me this makes the suggestion that there are two distinct political parties laughable and to believe that your vote matters downright hilarious. It is useless to argue over which candidate or which party is best because they are all of a mind which is the pursuit of power that binds them together in their criminal and murderous pastimes. There are signs all around us that illustrate this sameness shared by our politicos. One of the most glaring of these signs is the enduring (permanent) bases that have been built in Iraq that the news media rarely mentions. The Democrats have indulged President Bush by handing him the monies to build these tributes to our particular brand of colonialism despite their pathetic and lying claims of being an opposition party. It matters not who is elected in regards to Iraq because we shall be residing there in our billion dollar bunkers for many, many years to come.

Then of course there is the great American public whose only problem with the occupation of Iraq is that it has been a failure. For the most part most Americans never question our self destructive path to world domination because Americans feel we have the best form of government, our democracy, and that our hamburger way of life is one that everyone should follow. Being the self-absorbed nation that we are occasionally reality impinges its unwelcome manifestations on our thought processes thus we know when our lives are affected especially when it hits us in the pocket book but when times are flush and high paying jobs are plentiful watch out for that arrogance and the delusions of grandeur that so easily materialize in our minds. However when money gets tight social programs don’t seem like such a commie thought. In the end Americans don’t much care about all the dead and displaced Iraqi people rather it is our own sense of self preservation that wins the battle of our hearts and minds.

This is truly an anything for a buck nation.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

The state of things: 29 April 2006

I originally came across this film at the internet archive, here.

Nora Ligorano, Marshall Reese

"On Saturday, April 29th the artists Ligorano/Reese installed a temporary sculpture in the garden of Jim Kempner Fine Art, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

Sculpted in ice and spelling out the word “Democracy” in block letters, the installation reflected on the current political state and the transience of our cultural values. Measuring 20 inches high and 120 inches in length, the word melted over 24 hours. The sculpture cracked, diminished, and ultimately disappeared, leaving as its final trace a puddle of water.

The sculpture focused on the impact of the Iraq war, how censorship, surveillance and torture are transforming U.S. society. According to Nora Ligorano, “The sculpture is emblematic of the times – our democracy is in danger of wasting away at an imperceptible rate.” Marshall Reese adds, “What stands out with this piece is that for the amount of time most people view art – 1 minute or less – the sculpture won’t seem to change, yet by day’s end, it will be gone - disappear.”

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