Monday, June 30, 2008

Israeli-Hezbollah prisoner swap

Wherein hardliner Ehud Olmert, in trouble politically just like junior, nevertheless proves to be somewhat less pigheaded. Of course if they had just done this in June of 2006 over a thousand Lebanese and Israelis would still be alive.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008


All the little household gods
Have started crying, but say
Good-bye now, and put to sea.

-- W.H. Auden

It was the heyday of the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco with bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Youngbloods, the Moody Blues, A Beautiful Day, Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, just to name a few making a great impression on me, actually much more than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. I still recall a first visit to a head shop in an old Victorian house in Palo Alto and seeing the long haired and bearded proprietors the air filled with burning incense, phsycodellic posters on the walls along with tie dyed shirts, hookahs, and all the other accoutrements of a burgeoning counter culture on display. Times were getting even more interesting. Politics and the Vietnam War had not yet impinged on my world though later they would. It was an Alice in Wonderland world, it was a world without cynicism, and it seemed that humanity was moving toward something much better than the 50’s. Revolution was in the air. People were interested in the arts -- music, plays, books, all things creative rather than the same old acceptance of convention that marked the 50’s. Then there was the rising tide of anger against the Vietnam War. People were actually coming out against the war in many parts of the nation and it seemed humanity at last wanted to move beyond our violent bloody past. There was the excitement of unexplored worlds and territories, intellectual thought over the violent and the bestial, there was real hope for better days and a better humanity none of which has come to pass. The 60’s were just an aberration it would seem. Americans have gone back to sleep lulled into a dream of complacency. Even the Iraq War seems to have faded into a grey background as America indulges in another election farce where hopes wane and wax like an errant morning breeze. When this repugnant election between two reptilian candidates crawling out of a primordial swamp with forked tongues flicking in and out in search of power is over reality will return with a vengeance as the war on terror accelerates the long silent fall of what could have been but never really was.

America has become a boring entirely predictable fucked up piece of crap, something I never would have believed in the 60’s even with the Vietnam War. As far as I am concerned anyone who wants it can have it, probably deserves it, and can keep it for all I care. Today anyone who questions authority or the status quo are considered to be fringe lunatics, anyone with an original thought is crazy in this brave new world of zombie-like mediocre conformists.

Below a couple cuts from Quicksilver Messenger Service, Fresh Air and Who do you Love:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Analytical Mind

How well do any of us think? Now that’s something to think about. It’s quite possible that most of us are wrong about most everything, me included, because of one factor.

Our culture.

No I am not talking about just American culture but any culture. When immersed in any culture, as all of us are, we accept many assumptions consciously and unconsciously as being beyond a shadow of a doubt. Culture dictates how we dress, what we eat, how we should interact with other people, our attitudes, even how we perceive reality. We call this rational thinking. Yet how rational is the unconscious acceptance of all the assumptions that we are trained from birth to make and how analytical can we actually be if this is true? If cultures are not exactly static and change with time doesn’t it follow that what we perceive to be reality our world view changes with time as well? So how sure can we really be that any of us has a firm grip on what we call reality?

In the 19th century anthropologists were studying Indian mounds in the south eastern part of North America. During that time it was widely accepted among whites that the Native Americans were mentally inferior to whites likely based in part on the idea that whites had superior technology which had allowed us to push the Native Americans from their lands hence whites were superior. In fact the anthropologists who were studying the mounds completely dismissed the idea that the mounds had been built by the Native Americans because since they were inferior they couldn’t possibly have built them. This was the analytical thinking of that time period. Also at that time it was believed that brain size had a direct bearing on intelligence. This led the mound investigators to take skulls of Native Americans and Caucasians and measure the brain cavities of the skulls. This was done by filling them with sand and measuring the amount of sand the skulls could contain. Today we of course know that the mounds were built by Native Americans and it seems laughable that the assumptions of the analytical anthropologists would keep them from coming to such a logical conclusion. But before you laugh you had better be damned sure that you are much more immune to the edicts of your own culture than the people of the 19th century were. You are of course … aren’t you?

I'll miss this guy

George Carlin, May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008.

"There are no bad words. Bad thoughts. Bad intentions," he said. Yet, out of 400,000 words in the English language, there are seven: "That will infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war...."

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Mighty Mouse is on the Way

Looking back in the recent past there have been a parade of heroes all who have eventually fallen from grace. Collin Powell was hero for a day. Fawn eyed Americans looked to Powell and wondered ooh, if only he was president. Then it was rumored that Powell would be the steady hand on the wheel keeping baby Bush on the straight and narrow. But the honeymoon was soon over when the vial of bullshit came out before the UN and Powell was revealed for what he was, just another ass kisser to power which should not have been a surprise since Powell had made a career for himself covering up for mass killings beginning in the Vietnam War era.


Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old Army Major, was charged with investigating the letter, which did not specifically reference My Lai (Glen had limited knowledge of the events there). In his report Powell wrote: "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Powell's handling of the assignment was later characterized by some observers as "whitewashing" the atrocities of My Lai.[24] In May 2004, Powell, then United States Secretary of State, told CNN's Larry King, "I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored."

But none of this mattered to many, liberals and conservatives alike adored Powell though that love affair was doomed and Powell was eventually de-caped, until then though Powell was the hero of the day, the steady hand, the hope for tomorrow.

Another hero was McCain who gained favor with the faithful through his work with Feingold on campaign finance reform. Today of course McCain is another fallen hero at least in the eyes of the liberals who once heaped laurels on his shoulders, this despite the fact that as a pilot in Vietnam he was bombing civilians but hey, you know, the man was a warrior and liberals love their warrior heroes.

Then of course we have another hero today in the form of Barack Obama of the miles of smiles. Though liberals are still in the throes of hero worship Obama is a bit tarnished with the prospect of Albright and other Clintonian cronies becoming members of the Obama dream team. There are other problems with Obama but who cares, the packaging has been professionally handled and after all that’s what counts in the end. True there is some acknowledgement of Obama flaws but these are filed under the heading of “we must be pragmatic.” We may all be fucked but as long as we are pragmatic well then…

No wonder the movie theaters are deluged with super hero movies. Batman, Spiderman, Superman, The Hulk, Iron man all bulging with masculine muscles charging in to save the day. If there really aren’t any real life heroes we can always go to the movies.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

They were shining there for you and me

or perhaps, "The Name of the Game" would have been more appropriate. I dunno, I like this one better.

BBC: Sweden approves wiretapping law
Sweden's parliament has approved controversial new laws allowing authorities to spy on cross-border e-mail and telephone traffic.
Glenn Greenwald:
Time Magazine uncritically prints Nancy Pelosi's "justifications" for the FISA "compromise":

The Congressional Democratic leadership explains that sacrificing the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law is necessary to win some more swing seats...
Nicole Belle, at Crooks n' Liars(via IOZ):

"Good God, is this why we elected a Democratic majority in 2006? So they can continue to enable the Bush administration as more and more independent sources have verified the criminality that we’ve claimed correctly all along? "
In the above referenced post,Belle also writes:

John[Amato] mentioned our new coalition, Strange Bedfellows, earlier and I can’t reiterate more strongly the need to fight Blue Dogs like Steny Hoyer, so if you can donate, please do so. Think of the message it sends to Congress that we are willing to fight our own if they don’t represent us and our Democratic values the way they should.

I don't know about the details, but I wonder if that's true, because "Act Blue" sounds like an organization whose approach, starting with its very name, may antagonize voters in so-called "Blue-dog" districts, when outreach is needed. (I also think the views of those voters are often stereotyped, and therefore misunderstood, by people in the lefty blogosphere. Not everybody in the hinterlands is unreachable, any more than are all San Fransicans and Bostonians disappointed that Nader isn't running.) Then again that begs the question of whether abandonment of the democratic party altogether makes more sense that yet another attempt to fix it.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

"I must not think bad thoughts"

via ż€₪ż€₪, aka "Shen shen"(I think.)

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Revelations Two and Three Quarters

Just looking at the news this morning is like some kind of demented nightmare from a Salvador Dali painting. Congress giving Bush everything he wants in war funding and wire tapping, oil prices rising once again against a weakening dollar, Israel is rehearsing for an attack on Iran. What more could you ask for?

The Obama faithful cling to their guru despite all the indications that have been revealed recently giving us a nice little preview of what life might be like with Obama behind the wheel, pretty much as it is now. McCain also promises more of the same and people continue to argue who will be the best man to keep things pretty much the same as our ship of state plunges over a precipice. Yes this is the most important election ever as they ever are. Say anything against Obama and his faithful become unhinged splattering the ground with their brains and delusional rants, the sound of hope hitting the toilet bowl.

This past year has been quite instructive if we recall all the hopes and dreams of a Democratic majority in Congress and all the good things that were going to happen. Congress would end the Iraq War, dispatch with Bush, rout the Republicans, restore the Constitution, and make things as they should be which is what many thought, if you were a five year old that is but then, oh never mind.

And just to make things more wonderful that patriotic time of year approaches the good old Fourth of July which always brings the nutballs out scurrying from under rocks like cockroaches eyes popping out of their purple varicose veined heads and their elephant ears flapping in the breeze like so many blood shot flags. “Remember the Alamo” they shout as they jump on their pogo sticks and hop off into the sunset.

Yes indeedy revelations are coming fast and thick. Two thirds of the population are candidates for the rubber room while our leaders saw their fiddles like so many mad Roman emperors amidst orgies of blood letting no longer even bothering to hide the corruption and thievery, bribes and kickbacks, kiss the babies and hang on to your hopes, its about all you got left.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reality Comes to Paradise

Normally the little town of Paradise California whiles away the hours asleep and secure nestled in the Sierra Foothills oblivious to the world softly dreaming of those days of yore the 50’s when Superman flew through the skies and Lassie ran free through the hinterlands saving Timmy from all manner of dangers in rural America. Here you can still glimpse the elusive beehive hairdo, hot rods driven by pompadour wearing hot rodders amongst the plethora of gas guzzling oversized trucks.

Generally speaking though everyone is polite once you scratch the surface almost everyone I have met in this area is a bigot. Self professed patriots adorned with tattoos of eagles and flags claiming not to be racist but also expressing hatred for Mexicans who live in the area making all manner of excuses for not hiring them. Among them are the Mexicans don’t pay their taxes, are stealing their jobs, don’t speak English etc. which is certainly a lot of nonsense. “But I’m not racist” they say. Of course not everyone is like this but they do seem to be far and few between. Most are against the Iraq War but that is not out of any horror felt at the mass destruction and murders that continue on but more because they have finally figured out it really hasn’t been all that good for America. Still, there is very little that intrudes upon their lives. The world at large is just not all that real to them and for the most they give it little thought mostly obsessed with their own fantasies of an America lost in the past, those good old days that never really were, where mom baked apple pies and children romped over emerald lawns decked out in Huck Finn attire straw hats and drinking lemonade. If there were any blacks they would certainly be out behind the barn dancing and playing the harmonica strumming banjos happy as can be as long as they stayed in their place.

Recently the world has intruded on the little hamlet of Paradise in the form of the Humboldt fire that raged for several days. About seventy houses burned to the ground which is a sad thing to happen to anyone. I saw a clip on the internet of a young couple who typical of the area were rotund and white being interviewed while sitting in their jeep. While it is a sad thing and I don’t enjoy seeing anyone suffer I wonder if it ever crossed their minds that we have done much worse to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia just to name a few where unmanned drones, jets, and helicopters drop death and destruction from the skies and thuggish uniformed troops kick in doors hurling hand grenades into houses followed by a hail of gunfire. There are millions of Iraqi people no longer with a place to live, no longer alive, victims of America’s callous and heartless uncaring masses. The fire will recede into the past, many will rebuild their homes, and once again this little corner of the world will slumber under the bright Pacific sun but I doubt we can say the same for Iraq where there is every indication that the occupation will continue for many a year.

It is not my intention to single out the little burg of Paradises for it is much like many other small towns dotting the American landscape. Its people are much like many people living in larger cities and suburbia for America is if nothing else is a redneck nation where citizens labor under the fantasies of American goodness. But like the Humboldt fire America’s penchant for unbridled violence and propensity to destroy the lives of people that they know nothing about and don’t want to will intrude on a dreaming America and come knocking on America’s door or as it already is. I don’t say this because I hate Americans who are after all people but I do have an intense dislike for American culture in all its manifest forms. It is a culture of conceit at once self absorbed and shallow steeped in a violent past and a violent present peopled by thugs who strut about like so many roosters crowing their jingoistic slogans all very smug and pleased with themselves. The funny thing is I can’t think of any group of people who have less reason to be smug and pleased with themselves than Americans.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MSNBC report re Iran

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Two items

Dave Neiwert at Orcinus, "The crazies and Obama":

read some of the details emerging from that militia bust in Pennsylvania that the media have been studiously ignoring. To wit:

Bradley T. Kahle, 60, of Troutville, was one of five people arrested in last weekend's sweep. He told undercover agents he hoped Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama would be killed if they were elected president, and that he would shoot judicial and law enforcement officials if he became terminally ill, according to an affidavit of probable cause made public Tuesday.

"Kahle said words to the effect of, that 'if Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, get elected, hopefully they will get assassinated, if not they will disarm the country and we will have a civil war,'" the affidavit stated.

The same man also told authorities he planned to visit Pittsburgh so he could get on top of a high rise and start shooting black people. And of course, the judge let him go on bail. Would I be crazy to suspect that if he were a Muslim talking about shooting white people from a high rise and hoping John McCain would get killed, no judge on earth would let him go?

Jay Taber writes, on the "Culture of imbeciles":

"This Guy apparently thinks most Americans are incapable of even comprehending a concept like centrist."

I've been trying, as is so often the case in fits and starts, to wrestle with a longer piece about how Right and Left/Conservative and Liberal have stopped meaning what they used to mean in practical terms, even if many people continue to apply the old assumptions. Of course many of the assumptions aren't really that old, but stereotypes developed by the Reaganites in the 1970s and 1980s. But they still have a lot of currency, in terms of how people think about the political spectrum here in the U.S.

At one point I wanted to call it "Liberalism and its Discontents", but that seemed insufferably gaseous. Later I wanted to call it "Liberalism in the Pelagic Zone", using the metaphor of being at sea far from recognizable landmarks, and discussing the ways we seek out things by which to establish reference points, and the unseen creatures towards the bottom, beyond where sunlight penetrates, like the mysterious Kissinger Fish or the Carlyle Group Lamprey.

Part of my meaning, which I'm having some difficulty fleshing out, can be limned by asking yourself why in the world anybody would consider either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to be liberals, when at the very best they're centrists. (And by no means our best centrists.) It's NOT simply a question of being "more liberal" than the centrist democrats-- I think Ron Paul's candidacy and the nerve he touched helped demonstrate this.

(The usually perceptive David Neiwert, whom I quote above, insisted on doing everything he could to tear Paul down earlier this year. He did this , I think, in part I think because he could only see the forest for the trees, while nevertheless grasping that Paul represented a mirror that showed the cracks in modern liberalism's facade, and had to be put down at any cost...)

Jeremiah Wright and Samantha Power and their relationships with Obama also demonstrate this, in two more ways.

I'll get back to this soon.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rachael Ray hates you for your freedom

She also feels you are insufficiently perky. Have you heard about this? I hate to admit I find it amusing, just as I find it amusing that some people want to have a boycott because they caved to the crazies. Who cares about wars and secret prisons and the pump and dump of the mortgage market? Let's boycott Dunkin' Donuts! (Actually I'm already boycotting Dunkin' Donuts, but just because I'm too damn fat.)

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Friday, June 13, 2008

In the Name of the Humanitarian

The Human Rights Watch report on Ethiopian war crimes committed in Somalia reveals the fruits of the American and British backed invasion of Somalia. Rape, torture, public executions, are just a few of the pleasant pastimes accomplished in the name of the continuing war against terror though it would seem that the war against terror is really a an act of terrorism itself one of the great ironies of an upside-down American government gone insane.

The Guardian

Ethiopia's government has committed extensive war crimes and crimes against humanity during a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in the remote Ogaden region, a report says today.

Human Rights Watch accuses the Ethiopian military of extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, forcibly displacing thousands of civilians and using food as a weapon of war in its attempts over the past year to defeat the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which claims to seek self-determination for the eastern region.

Satellite images published in the 130-page report show how villages have been burnt down to deny the rebels a support base - a tactic more often associated with the Darfur region of neighbouring Sudan.

The watchdog accuses the US, UK and other EU countries, who give Ethiopia £1bn a year in aid, of ignoring the abuses, thereby increasing the risk of further "devastation, famine and impoverishment in a region that already knows these trends too well".

"We don't like to rank abuses in different parts of the world, but what is happening in the Ogaden is up there with the worst," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "We are talking about village elders being strangled, and women raped until the point of unconsciousness. And it is being done with complete impunity, and with a blind eye from the international community…"

…A 22-year-old female refugee who escaped to Kenya told what had happened to her and other women detained near a nomadic settlement outside Shilabo town by an army patrol.

"They beat me very hard until I fell to the ground. This time while lying on the ground I was raped. I don't know how many men raped me. Other women were raped too," she said.

The ONLF, which claimed this week to have launched a major military offensive against government forces, is also accused in the report of "serious violations of international law", including the indiscriminate use of landmines and execution of suspect government collaborators.

Human Rights Watch criticises the UK, which gives £130m in aid annually to Ethiopia, for its muted response over the Ogaden conflict, noting that only one paragraph in the latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office human rights report dealt with the crisis, and that it singled out abuses by "terrorist groups operating in this region".

The most severe criticism is reserved for the US, which is the biggest donor and regards Ethiopia as a key ally in the "war on terror". Having backed Ethiopia's incursion into neighbouring Somalia, which the US regards as a potential terrorist haven, Washington has "minimised and possibly actively ignored internal concerns and reporting on the situation" in the Ogaden.

The last paragraph reveals something quite important. All the blood letting, slaughter and rape are being carried out because Somalia is considered to be a “potential” haven for so-called terrorists. So you see in this brave new world of American super heroes one does not even have to prove that a given nation, person, or group of people are terrorists or harboring terrorists all one need do is say they are potentially terrorists in order to let loose the dogs of war. Something else is revealed when one compares the sparse to non-existent reporting between the all the news that is fit to print New York Times on the Somalia invasion carried out by Ethiopia for America’s war on terror with reporting done by other news media which is the noticeable white washing of facts by the New York Times in their article of the Human Rights Watch report on Somalia. The most glaring omission is that there is no mention of how this is a war by proxy paid for mainly by America.

The New York Times merely states…

The Ethiopian government has routinely rejected such claims. Calls and e-mail messages to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington were not returned.

If you didn’t know better the above sentence while no doubt true would leave one to believe that there was no complicity in the atrocities carried out by the Ethiopians with the U.S. backing of this criminal campaign. Apparently that little factoid was not considered fit to print by the New York Times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


BBC News: "Iraq's reconstruction probed" (video, 2:40)
here's one quote:
"The American public have little idea of the fraud and waste of their tax dollars. Seventy court cases are subject to a US gagging order, preventing discussion of the allegations against some of the biggest names in corporate America."
It's somewhat annoying to me that the BBC has disabled embedding of this video(posted on their channel at Youtube), but perhaps it's just as well if you haven't yet had a chance to see Rob Payne's excellent essay, "Road to Iran", directly below, as I don't want to distract you overmuch from it-- so go read it.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Road to Iran

All the signs are in place that a war with Iran is coming soon. One sign comes from Israel in the form of threats from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Telegraph Co.

On the Iranian front, Mr Olmert privately pronounced himself happy after his visit to the White House that Israel and America are of one mind over the possibility of military intervention against Tehran's nuclear programme.

In President George W Bush, Israel has a firm ally who shares its belief that Iran must be stopped at all costs from becoming a nuclear power.

One of Mr Olmert's party deputies, Shaul Mofaz, kept up the pressure on Iran saying an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looked "inevitable" given the apparent failure of diplomatic and economic sanctions on Tehran.

"If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it," he said.

"The sanctions are ineffective. Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable."

If Israel does begin a war with Iran considering the slavish devotion to Israel on recent display by our national leaders and the huge amounts of cash we give to Israel it is inconceivable that our government would remain neutral and we would most certainly be drawn into a war with Iran with all of the catastrophic possibilities arising from such a fatal blunder. And don’t look to the Democratic leadership for any sanity regarding a war with Iran. Have the Democrats so much as lifted a finger to stop the ongoing occupation in Iraq? They have not. All they have done is mouth mealy mouthed excuses ever since coming into power in Congress. Given that fact what would make anyone believe they would not support a war with Iran? They have said time and again that Iran is threat, that Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Obama has said it, and the most powerful Democrat in the country has said it Miss impeachment is off the table Nancy Pelosi.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that no option should be ruled out in order to stop Iran's march toward nuclear weapons.

"Iran must be stopped. They are a threat to the neighborhood and a source of funding for Hamas and Hizbullah," Pelosi told Channel 1.

Despite all of this the progressive blogosphere chirps merrily on about the rise of Obama the Magnificent who like the proverbial leopard has shown his true spots in his recent groveling before AIPAC. I don’t think anything else besides a war with Iran could reveal just how unimportant this election really is. I wonder what passes through the minds of progressives when they hear Obama pledge his fealty to protecting Israel from a non-existent threat. I wonder what the progressives think when they hear Pelosi of the first one hundred days squawk how Iran must be stopped, nothing ruled out. Perhaps they believe it is a secret code to be deciphered with a secret decoding ring from a box of Cracker Jacks. Maybe it goes in one ear and out the other filtered out by a head stuffed with oatmeal. Maybe the moon is made out of green cheese and the leprechauns are burying magical gold while riding miniature horses dancing to the tune of an Irish shanty. Oh I know, Pelosi and Obama don’t really mean it, they’re just kidding.

Still, there are more signs…


Israel has reportedly started to set up an 'Iran Command' within its air force as part of preparations for a possible war against Iran.

According to reports by unnamed Israeli military sources, the regime's air force has launched 'Iran Command' to coordinate operations to 'confront the growing threat from Tehran'.

The command's operations are aimed at improving coordination among Israeli ballistic missiles and air and missile brigades which deploy the Arrow and Patriot missile systems.

Okay, this is only my opinion that an American war with Iran precipitated by Israel is about to take place. However you can read these articles and decide for yourself. And if you are wondering why the ties that bind the U.S. to Israel are so strong you can read this recent article by Noam Chomsky.

…The strong US-Israel alliance took its present form in 1967, when Israel performed a major service to the United States by destroying the main center of secular Arab nationalism, Nasser's Egypt, also safeguarding the Saudi rulers from the secular nationalist threat. US planners had recognised a decade earlier that a "logical corollary" of US opposition to "radical" (that is, independent) Arab nationalism would be "to support Israel as the only strong pro-Western power left in the Middle East."

Investment by US corporations in Israeli high-tech industry has sharply increased, including Intel, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Warren Buffett and others, joined by major investors from Japan and India Ñ in the latter case, one facet of a growing US-Israel-India strategic alliance.

To be sure, other factors underlie the US-Israeli relationship. In Jerusalem, Bush invoked "the bonds of the book," the faith "shared by Christians like himself and Jews," the Australian Press reported, but apparently not shared by Muslims or even Christian Arabs, like those in Bethlehem, now barred from occupied Jerusalem, a few kilometres away, by illegal Israeli construction projects…

…It is not difficult to discern why Bush's chosen legacy should stress relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia, with a side glance at Egypt, along with disdain for the Palestinians and their miserable plight, apart from a few ritual phrases.

We need not tarry on the thought that the president's choices have anything to do with justice, human rights or the vision of "democracy promotion" that gripped his soul as soon as the pretexts for the invasion of Iraq had collapsed.

But the choices do accord with a general principle, observed with considerable consistency: Rights are assigned in accord with service to power.

Palestinians are poor, weak, dispersed and friendless. It is elementary, then, that they should have no rights. In sharp contrast, Saudi Arabia has incomparable resources of energy, Egypt is the major Arab state, and Israel is a rich Western country and the regional powerhouse, with air and armoured forces that are larger and technologically more advanced than any NATO power (apart from its patron) along with hundreds of nuclear weapons, and with an advanced and largely militarised economy closely linked to the United States.

The contours of the intended legacy are therefore quite predictable.

And as we have seen it is not only Bush who considers Israel to be of ultimate importance to American hegemony in the Middle-East but that of the Democratic leadership as well. There is no need to look to that quarter for any succor from the insane foreign policies that are leading us to the brink of disaster and beyond.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Terrorist in the Mirror

Holier than Thou

Democracy that holy of holies that America purports to spread around like Tinkerbell spreading fairy dust is a pastime that has done nothing but cause misery, poverty and death in distant lands that many Americans probably never heard of and probably couldn’t recall even if they had. Not that I blame the average American for not knowing for who in their right mind would want to dictate to peoples on the other side of the planet how they should govern themselves. That piece of insanity is left to the purview of that lunatic class known as national leaders. Americans don’t even have much say in how they govern themselves much less other nations if the last seven odd years of “leadership” by the executive branch and the legislative branches of government are any example. However most Americans are quite familiar with Iraq and despite polls that show most Americans are sick of being the police of the world and fed up with the Iraq War for our leaders it has been the charge of the Light Brigade, full steam ahead now ranging into Somalia, back to Afghanistan, and on to Iran and not the least bit abashed by the monumental fiasco in Iraq. Then of course there is the ongoing involvement in Israel’s program of genocide and expansion at great cost to the Palestinians.

Israel is the other holy of holies that America holds so dear and close to its tin heart. Israel can do no wrong. Oh god yes the holocaust where six million Jews died at the hands of Nazi Germany should never be forgotten but should it be an excuse for the entire world to turn its back on the crimes against humanity that Israel commits against the Palestinians? Apparently, so much for the march of civilization and progressive advancement but it is America that fuels the Israeli land grabs with money, money and more money and is therefore as guilty as Israel itself for the torture of an entire population of people who had the bad luck of being in the way of Eurocentric colonialism. That grand old dame Democracy which when invoked brings tears to the eyes of progressives everywhere but which in reality has been used as a cudgel against weaker nations in order to advance American interests though exactly which Americans benefit from these muggings is something that ought to be questioned but rarely is.

Hamas gained power in Gaza through democratic elections however it wasn’t exactly what the Bush administration and Israel had in mind so democracy was thrown out with the bath water. One of Bush’s siren songs is not to talk to those whom he deems to be terrorists yet talking instead of interfering by backing the wrong strong men and instigating violence perhaps would have worked better toward a goal of peace between the Palestinians and the Israeli but then Israel has always been paramount in American Mid-East foreign policy if it can be dignified in that manner but for peace to work one must consider both sides not just one.

From Vanity Fair—

After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

Read the rest.

Condi Rides Again

The legacy of America’s penchant to support Israel in its headlong rush to stamp out the Palestinians has been a continuing violence that kills both Israeli and Palestinians though by far it is the Palestinians who are dying in the greatest numbers and suffering the most from Israel’s blockade of goods to the Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip.

The Independent—

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, returns to the Middle East this week for yet another round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at bolstering the flagging hopes of a negotiated agreement on a future two-state solution between Israel and the moderate Palestinian leadership based in the West Bank.

What she cannot ignore, however, is what the State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, announcing her trip, cryptically called "the situation in Gaza". For in the week that marks the first anniversary of Hamas's enforced takeover of the Strip, Gaza could be nearing another turning point.

This week, Israeli ministers will again consider whether to pursue a ceasefire, after Egypt brokered an agreement among militant armed factions to drop their earlier precondition that Israel also stop military operations in the West Bank. But another scenario is that the Israelis will mount a full-scale invasion of the Strip

A majority of the Israeli security cabinet currently appears to be opposed to a ceasefire – at least without the return of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli corporal seized by Gaza militants two years ago this month. Such opposition was reinforced by the killing on Thursday of a 51-year-old Israeli father of three in a mortar attack by Gaza militants on a Negev kibbutz. His death was followed by that of a six-year-old Palestinian girl in an air strike aimed at militants.

Whatever option is taken, the debate testifies to the failure of the Strip's closure, imposed by Israel a year ago this week. Apart from the most basic humanitarian supplies, and a severely limited amount of fuel, nearly all other goods have been prevented from going in or out. But this has not stopped the rocket and mortar attacks, let alone dislodge Hamas from its control of Gaza.

So it is Condi to the rescue again, with help like hers who needs enemies. It is difficult to imagine what Condi Rice can accomplish considering her track record of utter stupidity and ignorance. Yet Rice is not alone for McCain and Obama are both as committed to defending Israel’s right to commit genocide and expand its borders and both are ready to take over where Bush leaves off recalling Obama’s speech to AIPAC where he committed himself to protecting Israel from Gaza but who will protect the Palestinians in Gaza? None of the candidates will protect the Palestinians unless the candidates change their tune but there is no reason to believe that either would do so. And all of these wondrous steps towards peace are done in the name of promoting democracy that all consuming American interest.

Saint Obama Dragon Slayer

The war by Proxy in Somalia, rarely mentioned anywhere least of all by Obama or McCain, is still another example of America’s bloody pastime for spreading the love. The Ethiopians fully backed by the Bush administration are busy little beavers slitting throats and other humanitarian endeavors in Somalia under the auspices of terrorist chasing. Then there is Afghanistan which Obama has indicated that is where he would like to “redeploy” the troops which I suppose is “change” of some type or other, perhaps a change of scenery. How wonderful it is to imagine Obama striding about the world hurling the troops after elusive “terrorists” why it brings tears to these old eyes. Yet Afghanistan is not enough for our eager Senator from Illinois because Pakistan is also on the to-do list of terrorist abatement.


In an address in March, Obama broke with Bush's policy. "We cannot tolerate a sanctuary for terrorists who threaten America's homeland and Pakistan's stability," he said. "If we have actionable intelligence about high-level al Qaida targets in Pakistan's border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot."

In the sense that Pakistan is Bush’s pal this is breaking with Bush policy yet in another very real sense this is vintage Bush right down the line. What Obama implies is that Pakistan cannot govern itself so it is up to America in our infinite wisdom and our right to lord it over the rest of the world as long as there is the least bit of chance that there might be the ghost of a threat to almighty America. If Pakistan can’t America can. Maybe we should change our nation’s name to Americacan that way at least it would rhyme with the names of our victims. Heavens to Betsy and goodness me let’s not forget Iran speaking of rhymes. Saint Obama the Dragon Slayer has said we cannot wait, time has run out, diplomacy has failed, we must act now. I swear there seems to be a problem here. I thought I knew what the word “change” meant. Perhaps I have been laboring under a falsehood. I’ll have to look in a dictionary to see what change really means for this is all incomprehensible,

Since we are so consumed by terrorists shouldn’t we identify who the terrorists really are? Would that not be a wise first step? And it is easily accomplished, just go look in a mirror and you are sure to see a terrorist. Over one million dead in Iraq, millions more in exile and I have not even seen any body count for Afghanistan and Somalia. Move over Iran and Pakistan.

Get ready for democracy.

Get ready for love.

Ready or not here we come.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Purple People Eaters

I’m fairly amazed at the amount of out and out hate and bile piled upon Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t vote for her myself but I mean really one would think from what I have been reading that Hillary Clinton is the source of all evil on the planet. True she is a monster, she is what she is, but then America is rife with monsters, always has been. Even after she has lost the nomination people continue to pile on her with tirade after tirade eyes bulging, faces purple, double chins quivering. You guys look pretty funny. Get a grip on it. She lost already. Move on.

Gak, I’m sick of this political crap, people get wound up like a top and their beanie copters fly off into space. After a parade of ding-dong leaders striding through the millennium all of a sudden things are gonna change, yessiree, Obama is gonna revamp the cosmos. Big things are coming our way, it’s the dawn of a new age to hell with Aquarius we got Obama, if he wins that is. Some people can predict the future with unerring accuracy but your humble servant has flubbed that one time and again so if you want expert opinions (world is full of experts) go somewhere else. There is plenty to choose from.

The big news is Bush is trying to wrangle a secret deal where America is forced to stay in Iraq. I don’t get it, if it is a secret why is it on every blog this side of the Great Divide? Let’s see now, we have built permanent military bases in Iraq and now we want to keep them, wow, what an epiphany. If Bush cannot get his way then the invasion and occupation of Iraq will become illegal! Yeah, that ought to stop the occupation dead in its tracks. I had no idea it was legal to begin with but hey we learn something new everyday. After this world shattering election Pelosi and gang will tell us we are forced to stay in Iraq by that bad man Bush and Obama can go kablama in Iran and Pakistan. There is no shortage of prime real estate occupied by enemies of America. America has enemies everywhere! If they aren’t there we can invent them, we’re good at that sort of thing. Or alternatively McCain the songbird of Vietnam can take the helm with steady hands and a steely glance. What ever happens there is sure to be fun for the entire family.

Friday, June 06, 2008


the youtube verbiage reads:
Video clip for the song "Sijmadicandhapajiee" by Avion Travel and Paolo Conte
Author: Giuseppe Ragazzini (
Sugar Muisc Production by Caterina Caselli

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

And the Tears Flowed like Wine

Save us Obama! I would like to savor this moment in time and space when the stars are aligned in cosmic splendor about the center of the known universe, the United States. One moment, I must still my racing heart and catch my breath.


First of all, congratulations to Senator Obama. This is a truly historic moment for the Democratic party and for America. When I was a kid (yes, back in the stone age)and when he was born, Barack Obama wouldn't have been allowed to stay in the same hotels or get a drink in a bar or buy a house next to a large number of white Americans. Last night, America took another huge and necessary step in putting that awful history behind us. It was long overdue, and was made possible through the tremendous sacrifices and courage of many people who didn't live to see the day. I am grateful that I did live to see it. I will do everything in my meager power to help him Obama win this campaign. The election of the first African American president signals the end of the era of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Nothing could be more fitting.

Also, congratulations to Senator Clinton, who in my view showed Democrats what a fighter looks like. This is the closest primary in history and despite what the bloviators and the gasbags have been saying for months, she had not only a right, but a duty, to fight on until the end for the half of the Democratic party that supported her. Clinton too was an historic candidate who inspired millions of people and she has my admiration. .

Tis amazing, with one fell swoop Obama has banished racism from sea to shining sea. Incredible as this may seem it must be true. Obama surely has the Midas touch. And Hillary the heroine of the day has nobly fought and inspired millions with her racist innuendos and usage of every dirty trick in the book. She has certainly earned the respect of many a gasbag.

M.J. Rosenberg

It could have been a case of terrible timing. The first speech after claiming the nomination is delivered at AIPAC. Talk about your tough crowd.

But Obama won them over. He received standing ovations, cheers and even some tears (when he talked about the Holocaust and about slain Jewish civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner and Andy Goodman who were murdered in Mississippi with James Chaney in 1964).

Obama won AIPAC over without dropping his commitment to the two-state solution or engaging in the Palestinian bashing that is normal in that venue.

So how did he do it? It turns out the timing was perfect. Suddenly there is an awareness of the dimensions of Obama's accomplishment. And people want to be part of it. (The AIPAC crowd has a huge contingent of students who are not exactly enthusiastic about returning to the campus in September as McCain supporters).

Super Obama does it again! But what did Obama say to deserve the laurels cast in his direction?

Mother Jones

I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. ...I will ensure Israel can defend itself from any threat, from Gaza to Tehran. ...

As president I will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything.

That starts with aggressive, principled tough diplomacy with clear eyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. ... We have tried limited, piecemeal talks, outsourced to other parties. It has not worked. It is time for the US to lead ....

I have no interest to sit down just for sake of talking. But as president I would be willing at time and place of my choosing, if and only if it advances the interests of the United States. It is time once again to make diplomacy succeed.

(Choice to Iran will be clear). If you abandon your nuclear program, your support for terrorism, and your threats to Israel, there will be economic incentives. If you refuse, we will ratchet up the pressure.

(And it will be clear to the world) that the Iran regime is the author of its own isolation, and that will strengthen our hand -- with allies, Russia, China ...

This reminds me very much of the buildup to war with Iraq where Bush insisted there was no time, diplomacy had been tried and failed and I note how Obama has fine tuned his willingness to speak with Iran from unconditional talks to a time and place of his choosing and only if it advances American interests (Israel).

Iran has no nuclear weapons rather it is Israel who does as President Carter recently revealed Israel has a minimum of 150 nuclear weapons. So how is Iran a threat? What in the world is Obama talking about? While Carter is no angel and bears responsibility for creating the types of policies that have helped lead us to our imperial endeavors as they presently exist clearly a score of 150 (Israel) and 0 (Iran) should cause one to question Obama’s sanity or honesty or both. This is change? Anyone who has been paying attention to the murderous Israeli expansion of territory must surely be forced to admit that the conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinians has been a fairly one sided affair. The people imprisoned in Gaza by Israel have been suffering living in squalor and famine while the Israeli steal their land. So what is Obama talking about? Please, these are rhetorical questions. It is quite clear that Obama is cementing approval from the American Establishment and the Israeli lobby.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Harvey Korman

As you probably know, Harvey Korman died last week. He was only 71, but I notice he looks pretty haggard in some of the photos of him from the past five years or so.

Naturally I prefer to remember him looking like this. I thought about him when I heard that Bob Barr was running for president under the libertarian ticket, as I hate to admit Barr looks a little like him.

But Barr strikes me as mostly humorless, lacking that Harvey K twinkle in the eye, and he's possibly even less presidential, whatever that means. Actually I think they all leave something to be desired, even St Obama and Mister Straight Talk. We could really use a presidential candidate who isn't bought and paid for, and doesn't suck. But where would we find such a man? ... Why am I asking you?

Anyway, if you didn't like Harvey Korman you're probably a putz.

photos: CBS, Warner Bros

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Of Monsters and Men

People have told me that they don’t understand what I mean by referring to Hillary Clinton as a monster. I don’t know, sometimes I am at my wits end as how to convey that what passes for national leadership in America is a monstrous pastime but once more I will make an attempt. Facts bounce off the shield that people have erected against criticism of what our government actually does so this attempt is probably futile but nothing ventured nothing gained.

Let me try to be clear about this. To attack and kill people of another nation -- or anyone for that matter -- is absolutely immoral in every sense of the word and it is a word I don’t particularly care to use because horrendous things have been accomplished in the name of morals. Yes certainly people have the right to defend themselves against attack by others but this has not been the case of American foreign policy for many years now. Even if Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11, even if he had WMD and connections to al Qaida, to do what we have done this past five years and continue to do today is wrong. People are under the impression -- thanks to the news media -- that the main cause of deaths in Iraq has been because of a civil war and this is simply not true. Sixty to seventy percent of the deaths have been a direct result of American soldiers attacking and killing Iraqi people. Let’s say that Saddam was behind 9/11 just as a hypothesis and even so would that justify murdering 600,000 to 700,000 citizens? I don’t think that any sane person would feel this was a justifiable action. Yet this is actually only one example of numerous killings carried out by the American government since the end of WWII.

I recall during the buildup to invasion -- which resembled a pep rally for a high school football game – people in Congress like Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats were all for attacking Iraq. They abrogated their own responsibility by turning over their Constitutional powers to a smarmy, smirking, shallow, and criminally insane president who virtually had inherited the throne of power from his father. There is nothing that I am aware of that could convince me that the denizens of Congress did not know better. How could they not? Had they suddenly popped into existence as Senators and Representatives completely ignorant of the way our government operates? This is simply too hard to believe. Though there are many people acting as apologists for the Democratic Party and their role in the Iraq War they can only do so by ignoring the well documented history of the Democratic Party’s support for the Iraq War from the very beginning and continuing today. We already know that the Republican Party by and large has supported the war and are not shy about saying so while the Democrats pretend to be against the war while doing everything they can to insure it continues. The Democratic apologists naturally have their own versions of this but they are credible only to the gullible and the blind which include the Democrats are afraid of being accused of being traitors (not supporting the troops), they don’t have the votes, they have been outwitted by the same president who the apologists consider to be an idiot, perhaps the only thing the apologists have gotten correct, that Bush is an idiot I mean. Yet all of these myths have been exploded time and again over the past few years but the faithful still cling to their myths for dear life, even the same people who have exploded those myths.

After the Gulf War The Clinton’s presided over the United Nations inhumane sanctions against Iraq during which and a direct result of were the deaths of at least several hundred thousand Iraqi children and the most around 500,000. While the exact numbers have been debated are several hundred thousand dead children an acceptable number, is the death of one child acceptable? One of Hillary Clinton’s claims in the current presidential election is that she has experience to bring to the oval office meaning she had a strong role to play in foreign policy at the time of Bill Clinton’s presidency. So by her own words she was instrumental in the brutal sanctions against Iraq and thus knowingly and willingly shared in the responsibility of so many deaths of innocent children who have no part to play in world affairs other than as victims. To purposefully murder children is the act of a monster – there is no other way to say it without being dishonest or abiding by double standards.

To those people who are not moved by the needless slaughters of innocent children at the hands of the American government from the time of the Clinton years and on to the present Criminal–in–Chief then all I can say that there is nothing on heaven and Earth that could move you. You are so engulfed in the American culture that you cannot see what lies before your very eyes but that is hardly surprising for the indoctrination of the American mind has been a very thorough affair carried out by the news media, television programs, movies and a history that has been white washed and bleached clean of the blood dripping from the hands of our national leaders

Monday, June 02, 2008

June 2nd CBS News story- Dover, Tenn

I tend to rag on domestic TV news for its superficiality, and naturally I still think it's mostly well-deserved. But I want to take note when they do good, like with this CBS News story from this evening's broadcast by Seth Doane about a foodbank in rural Tennessee. I've never heard of Doane before-- maybe he's a young and idealistic type.

"Are there days that you …" CBS News correspondent Seth Doane began asking.

"That we don't eat?" Liz Thomas said while standing in line at a food pantry. "Yeah."

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Torture, inc and other items

Jonathan Schwarz calls attention to a FAIR fundraiser; I visited, and saw this:
TV’s Low-Cal Campaign Coverage: How 385 stories can tell you next to nothing about whom to vote for"
By Jon Whiten
(May/June 2008)

as you may know, FAIR stands for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. I think they shouldn't change their name, but maybe change their acronym to FEAR, as in FairnEss and Accuracy in Reporting, even if that doesn't make a lot of sense. Because maybe then more people would tune in, and give them lots of money as Jon Schwarz advises. Besides, we seem to live in an age in which fear is the key.

Mister Schwarz also has a post by Nell Lancaster of A Lovely Promise, "No Torture. No Exceptions. Just a Few Qualms."

When I saw this the first thing, greedily, that I thought was, "Oh, great. Now Nell Lancaster is going to be a big shot, and won't want to join my new group blog." (more about this later.)
Lancaster criticizes the group she discusses,, for making a primarily utilitarian argument against torture, and not discussing the humanitarian aspect. She does this within an otherwise approving context, although she also notes their tangentially humanitarian argument, that torture "betrays our values", and seems to dismiss that as an appeal to American exceptionalism*.

I wonder if the Reject Torture people are right to de-emphasize the humanitarian aspect, not because it isn't valid but because of how aggressive the right-wing noise machine in (seemingly) discrediting arguments against torture, and if as a consequence people are less likely to be reached by such an argument because it's tied in with the conditioned response of liberals and liberalism being self-indulgent exercises in feel-goodism.(I sound like Ned Flanders all of a sudden!)

But it also occurs to me that part of the problem is that Americans don't know too much about the robust street-fighting tradition of liberalism, denatured as it has become by corporate media insistence that Martin Luther King was just a guy who wanted to hug everybody and Malcolm X is just a movie you can order through Netflix. And then there's the tradition, well before the days of Jerry Falwell and the Left Behind series, of American religious figures fighting the good fight for abolition.

(Whistler Blue in ATR's comments mentions the National Religious Coalition Against Torture)

Elsewhere, Rob Payne in
"Indoctrination Nation" says
"We believe ourselves to be more civilized because we have car keys and unmanned drones."

And Chris Floyd has an excellent piece, referenced by Rob,"Outer Darkness: The Gulag Cancer Grows, State Terror Intensifies"

*which inevitably reminds me of Rob Payne, as well as why I wanted to ask her and Rob and 1-3 others to try a group blog I've been mulling over.

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