Wednesday, August 30, 2006

25 days, 100 hits, vacation!

I've been posting daily (with one skip) for 25 days, and I would like to thank an Echidne reader from North Liberty, Iowa, who uses as a service provider for giving me my 100th hit earlier today.*

I will celebrate this milestone by going camping! (OK, it's just coincidence.)

What I'm reading today:

And the folks who have linked here: Shake's Sis, The Left End of the Dial, Persephone's Box (how did she know I was a secret Canadaphile?), Blanked Out, and Norwegianity. And the Booman Tribune, where I throw my choicest catches.

Look for more humanistic nihilism on Saturday or Sunday. TTFN!

*It's hard to tell which of the hits are from my server, and which are not, so I threw them all out when counting to 100.

Naomi Klein on Katrina

Someone once said that the global justice movement doesn't have leaders, but we do have rockstars. Naomi Klein is one of them. Like all rockstars, there's glamor and reality and a difference between them, but incisive critiques of capitalism are hard to come by in the corporate media. Maybe that's why she's at the Guardian, which is a non-profit.

Disaster Capitalism: how to make money out of misery is one of those critiques.

The first step was the government's abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter).

We saw the results in New Orleans one year ago: Washington was frighteningly weak and inept, in part because its emergency management experts had fled to the private sector and its technology and infrastructure had become positively retro. At least by comparison, the private sector looked modern and competent.

This is what happens when you get people who hate governing into government. This is what happens when the political and media system are under the control of a group of highway bandits who are waging vicious class war on behalf of the rich. Welcome to the neo-neo world; neo-liberal economics with neo-conservative foreign policy.

I call it the Disaster Capitalism Complex. Whatever you might need in a serious crunch, these contractors can provide it: generators, watertanks, cots, port-a-potties, mobile homes, communications systems, helicopters, medicine, men with guns.

This state-within-a-state has been built almost exclusively with money from public contracts, including the training of its staff (overwhelmingly former civil servants, politicians and soldiers). Yet it is all privately owned; taxpayers have absolutely no control over it or claim to it

This is all funded by the huge debt gift that the neo-neos have been preparing for us when we graduate from this hellish period. The gift that keeps on giving. With the public services gutted, the infrastructure will be privately owned.

Here's a snapshot of what could be in store in the not-too-distant future: helicopter rides off rooftops in flooded cities at $5,000 a pop ($7,000 for families, pets included), bottled water and "meals ready to eat" at $50 a head (steep, but that's supply and demand)

Can't happen? We would never let such important things as disaster relief slip into the hands of the greedy capitalists? Think again.

The model, of course, is the US healthcare system, in which the wealthy can access best-in-class treatment in spa-like environments while 46 million Americans lack health insurance.

They used to defend our inequitable distribution of wealth by claiming that a rising tide lifts all boats. Well, Naomi suggests that we think again...

One year ago, New Orleans's working-class and poor citizens were stranded on their rooftops waiting for help that never came, while those who could pay their way escaped to safety. The country's political leaders claim it was all some terrible mistake, a breakdown in communication that is being fixed. Their solution is to go even further down the catastrophic road of "private-sector solutions."

Unless a radical change of course is demanded, New Orleans will prove to be a glimpse of a dystopian future, a future of disaster apartheid in which the wealthy are saved and everyone else is left behind.

BONUS LINK: Big Daddy of Fundie Mormonism Arrested
Under Mr Jeffs' reign, a culture of abuse thrived at the FLDS. The fundamentalist sect broke away from the mainstream Mormon church in 1890 when it renounced polygamy. Warren Jeffs formally inherited command from his father, Rulon, in 2002 but he had run it for several years before. In that time, hundreds of teenage girls were allegedly shared out among Mr Jeffs and his male lieutenants. The 50-year-old leader is reported to have fathered more than 50 children by 40 wives.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I missed the blogswarm (heard about it from Shake's Sis) but here's a thought, written about 6 months after, by my great friend Windsmith (with some assist from myself...)

O Little Town of New Orleans
Tune: O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of New Orleans, where does the water lie?
Above thy deeply flooded streets, see Air Force One fly by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth a Halliburton light.
As all environmental rules are waived for them tonight.

The chaos born of Katrina showed FEMA at its worst
While help poured forth from normal folks,
their lies were well-rehearsed.
“We didn’t see it coming; we had no way to know.
When bad things happen to poor folks –
we never watch that show.”

O little town of New Orleans, how quickly you’ll regrow!
Your people won’t be home for years, but Mardi Gras’s a go!
We’re saving boozy strip clubs; but not the city’s core
Two weeks was long enough to care; now let’s forget the poor.

Let's hope the belated re-remembering of the first anniversary goes more than two days.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Pope as Caesar, or, Why I Am Not A Catholic.

I find the Catholic Church fascinating. I find that the current pope was a Nazi as a teen – specifically, a member of an Austrian Hitler Youth group – fascinating. But what fascinates me most is the connection to Rome.

The Church is the direct living descendant of the Roman Empire. I mean, it's the Roman Catholic Church. When the structures of the Roman state were falling, the ruling classes sought refuge in the Catholic Church. The language of the Senate and People of Rome was the language of the educated classes of Europe for two thousand years. Two thousand years.

You'd have thought the Church had learned a lot in those years. It's an amazing thing, an institution hanging on from about 400 AD to now.

Gotta say, though, there's some pretty crappy stuff done in those 1600 years.

Our family was nominally Catholic. We stopped going to church when I was 7 or 8. Baptized but not confirmed. A father who was a rationalist and a mother who'd been in a school full of mean Quebecois nuns.

That was fine by me; I was a science fiction fan and a humanist. When I was in World History, we did an exercise where we debated the Reformation. Catholics, Protestants, and Humanists. We Humanists rocked. (The teacher stole it from us, man – three way tie my ass. (Covering his ass, more likely.))

I took a class from a Okie who'd converted to Hinduism (he was a C.O. in WW2, and was an Eastern Philosophies prof. Cool guy.) His wife was a Zen Buddhist, and she would always tell seekers to look at the faith of their birth, first.

Well, there's one big problem I have with the Church. They're all weird about sex. And the violence. Two – two big problems with the church. And the hierarchy. Three! Three big problems with the Catholic Church! (And neat red suits.)
  1. Weird about sex. As in, teaching kids and adults things that are horribly crippling to healthy sexuality. No birth control? But what do you expect from a system that systematically disenfranchises women? The College of Cardinals has to be one of the oldest boy's clubs – no women allowed – in the world. Frankly, the stuff about sexual abuse in the church is historically nothing, given point 2…
  2. The violence. The Inquisition was horrific. Muslims, Jews, witches, old women, political enemies; tortured and killed and imprisoned and ruined and stolen from. Add in the Crusades and the subjugation of South and Central America? There's waaaay too much blood spilt in the name of the Prince of Peace for me. But if the Pope says it's OK…
  3. The hierarchy. How many other faiths claim the status of God-King anymore? The Pope is on top of the Cardinals, who are on top of the Bishops, who are on top of the priests, who are on top of the men, who are on top of the women. This is one of the worst monkey behaviors, this piling of hierarchy, and it creates problems at the top. And this is a structure that's been going strong (they call it the Apostolic Succession) for many many years.
Unlike my last post, bitching about the Democrats, I'm will mention that there are some amazing things in (and around) the Catholic Church. Liberation Theology and the Catholic Worker movement seriously rock. One of the people in my wedding ceremony was a nun, and the Sisters of St. Joseph here in the Twin Cities are bedrock.

But what I'm really into is talking about this new pope. When it looked like JP2 was going to go – a pope I had some respect for – I was like "Anyone but Ratzinger."

Some of my Catholic friends, and some Catholics I've read have tried to say he's not all bad. But check this out.

  • The reason that Ratzinger got elected is because the media was speculating he might be. The right-wing corporate propaganda media buzz got to all these old guys from backward countries who were used to being layered by legions of flappers (in the Panglossian sense) who were bowled over by a smarmy suit on a cable channel with really good production values. So this guy was put in by the same people who gave credibility to the Bush regime.
  • Before he was pope, Ratzi was in charge of the Inquisition. (Oh, the defenders of the faith or something…) And he used that position to keep the homophobic agenda of the Church in place.
  • And, before he was Pope Mr. Church-State was the cardinal who said that John Kerry could be refused communion because he was pro-choice. Nice manipulation of the American election. Taking orders from the Vatican?
  • When he was going up the ladder in the Church hierarchy in the 60s, as Paris was rising up, the youth mobilizing, the world changing, Ratzinger was doing what, exactly? Decrying the culture of the youth and the time. Yes, he was one of those men in the halls of power as the people rose up outside, tut-tutting over their beastly excesses, plotting to regain and retain power.
  • Now that he IS Pope, Ratzi's gone apeshit over the power and regalia of the office. He threw out the Papal Haberdashers – who'd been making dresses for Popes for over 400 years – because they didn't put in enough cloth of gold. He's got 1000 dollar ruby-red slippers. It's good to be king! This is the kind of conspicuous overconsumption that leads to falls like the French kings, or the robber barons of the Gilded Age. The Pope wears Prada. He is a walking shrine to Mammon.
  • Then, there's the Nazi thing. The official line (the apologia?) for it was "it was a long time ago, and he was forced to, and all he did was shoot at tanks. And he was bad at it."
Yeah, there was coercion to join the Party, but there were plenty of people who didn't join, and plenty of people who resisted. Yes, it could be dangerous, it could disadvantage you. Taking those kinds of risks would require a very special sort of person – someone who could see through the dominant lies of your culture, someone who could recognize evil even when all around were calling it necessary. It would be a person of some conviction, inner strength, to do this. A one-in-a-million kind of guy.

It might take people like Sophie and Hans Scholl of the White Rose. These were students, who in 1943, in the middle of Germany at war, wrote letters of dissent. They wrote 7 of them. The last was never distributed. They posted some surreptitiously; they sent them out in the mails. They were seen throwing them out from the tenth story of a school building. They were arrested, tried, and executed. By beheading.

They were brought together by their convictions, and their faith. Their Roman Catholic faith. They felt the message of the Nazarene was incompatible with what Germany was doing. They acted. They were one in a million.

Ratzinger did NOT take these risks. And lest we think that he didn't know people who were anti-Nazi, you need go no further than his father to find someone who resisted. We're not even talking about the kinds of actions the Scholls took. We're talking about dodging the Hitler Youth. Which plenty of people did.

Ratzinger took the line of least resistance. He saw what happened to his father, and he bowed to strength. This is the man that they made Pope.

So now, we have the Prince of Rome, the man who is the successor of the Caesars. The Caesars themselves went through some tough times, as well. And some of the Caesars stood up against the lines of least resistance, and some did not. This Caesar, this Benedict XVI, showed us how he deals with strength. He bends. This Caesar has shown us how he deals with diversity: he holds tight to the status quo. This Caesar has shown us how he deals with controlling wealth: he adorns himself with gold. This Caesar has shown us how he deals with America: he uses his power to do all he can to ensure the victory of the Right.

Forget what kind of pope he is – what kind of Caesar is he?

The College of Cardinals got scared. The Church is under attack in the US for the sexual abuse, and the coverup of same. The congregants of the richest nations pulling them in liberal directions, their third-world members are pulling them conservative. The death of John Paul 2, a man who was one in a million, left a big hole that they plugged with the choice of least resistance.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Winding up the weekend

A busy day, hanging out with friends of friends and the goddess Athena.

Worse ways to spend your time!

The 'big post' looks like a Monday morning production. Somehow it ended up over a thousand words. Need to get all the links added.

I don't know if people will read that! So; if anyone can tell me how to make Blogger do that 'here's the excerpt, read more...' thing, that would be great.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Good morning, Blogostan!

3 Books you should think about:

People's History of the US - Zinn
Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson
Dreaming the Dark - Starhawk

Still working on the big post - friends staying with us for a week. Here's a hint: "Render Unto Caesar..."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Big post coming - try a little appetizer...

Today we will be serving self-referential crisps in a light meta- sauce.

20 days since I started posting regularly, and trying to let folks know I'm here. At some point, I updated the blog with a hit counter and a technorati account, so I can stare into my navel using 15 different metrics.

At this point, I'm waiting for the first hundred real hits. The hits I'm creating by opening the page and stuff are still measurable - 30% of the first 100.

I've written some good stuff, shoveled out some bits that really needed more work, and I am monitoring the amount of time I spend on it. Not like I've not got five thousand other things.

But this is fun! I can rant all I want, even use some of the swears, and some people like it!

I'd really love more comments. I see the poll as a great trick to see if someone's read it - sure, I can click on one of those.

If you've been here more than once, or read a couple of things, let me know what you like. Third person to leave a link in a comment gets a free plug on the page.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why Democrats are Dangerous: Unfulfilled Promises

Let's start with a Norman Solomon article, about how the "War on Terror" is still a powerful meme, despite some pronouncements that it's losing ground. Specifically, regarding Iran.

Looking ahead, does anyone credibly think that Democratic Party leaders can be relied on to stand up against rationales for a huge air assault on Iran -- in the face of predictable claims that a massive attack became necessary to forestall the development of nuclear weapons by a Tehran regime that supports the “terrorist” Hezbollah organization and has pledged the destruction of Israel?

In late summer 2006, all you’ve got to do is read the news pages of the New York Times to see systematic agenda-building for an airborne assault on Iran. Right now, in front of our eyes, the propaganda blitz is rivaling the kind of war groundwork laid by the same newspaper four years ago, replete with endless coverage of the U.S. government’s supposed “diplomatic” efforts.

The Democrats... someone once said that they're like a dysfunctional relationship. You get excited when they call out the Republicans on some kind of bullshit. Bill Clinton, who had economic policies to the right of Nixon, still thrills with his oratory, charms with his charisma. You remember moments when it looked like Kerry would win; when Dean stood up against the received (corporate) wisdom, when Edwards started talking not just about the middle class, or the "working class", but the poor.

And then they fail to filibuster Alito, they rush off like lemmings to vote for the PATRIOT ACT, when they start sucking up to Israel no matter what outrage the Israeli government has propagated. They pass bankruptcy "reforms" at the behest of big banks. They vote for Iraq, they don't push impeachment. They ignore black-box voting problems.

One or two may stand up and say the right thing; three or four might propose some legislation that won't get anywhere. But at the same time, seven or twelve or thirty of them are off sucking the dicks of the telecoms, to get rid of pesky problems like a democratic (small D) internet.

And there are many many people who affiliate with the Democratic Party for all the right reasons. Zogby asks me: do you feel that the Democratic Party or the Republican Party more closely represents your values? and I answer "Well, yes, the Democrats are closer."

But sometimes they're so far, far away.

Back to Iran. When the manufactured incident comes up, when they find dead bodies in Iranian regular army uniforms in Basra, when the mushroom cloud is trotted out yet again to fill the Depends of our aged voting base, what will Joe Biden say? What will Hillary say? Dick Lugar?

And so many who want to believe in the Democratic party will beg for spine, when the problem is soul. While the Democrats have such definite ties to our corportate masters, while they let themselves be led (or willingly throw themselves) upon the biased altar of the corporate media, we - the people - will step further down the path paved with good intentions. Paved with intentions, but mortared by actions.

Sorry, folks, FDR was a long time ago. I'll leave you with these words from Steve Perry, editor of the Twin Cities basedCity Pages.

And how does the rank and file react? Why don't the Democrats... If only the Democrats... If the Democrats were smart... Hold on right there. Let's dispense with the ridiculous, shopworn notion that the Democrats don't get it, that they are too dim or too timid to do the things that are evident to the rest of us: tack left, talk populist, stand up to Bush, push hot-button issues like corporate malfeasance, health care, and campaign finance reform.

They see these things as clearly as the rest of us, and they choose not to do any of them. Why? Money is the simple, vulgar answer, and the correct one. The matter of corporate crime, to take one example, is not seen by the Democrats as an opportunity to capitalize on Republican weakness and seize an upper hand; it is seen as a problem shared in common with Republicans--the problem of helping one's cash clients in a tough time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oooh! A 'Just Read It' post!

Just read it.

OK, I hate 'just read it' posts. It's Norwegianity. Here's a quote.

This fall the corporations will lose. Who will win? The corporations. A different set, but corporations just the same. Do you think it makes that much difference if your money is going to George Soros instead of the Walton sisters? Well, at this point in time, yeah, it makes some difference.

The Soros corporateers aren't blinded by ideology, and they'll work to make the world safe for business again. But don't kid yourself. Being you will still suck.

Fear Factor: Flying While Brown

Local union-busting airline monopoly Northwest got in on the big Terror Fury recently, with a plane from Amsterdam flying back after takeoff with F-16 escort. What have we learned?

Don't sit next to brown people on airliners
. They might be trying to make explosives, or maybe they're doing something worse - talking on cell phones (the shock!!) or moving from their assigned seats (the horror!!)

From the Greg Gordon article in the Star Tribune:

U.S. government officials, who requested anonymity, said crew members and air marshals observed the passengers in the rear of the wide-bodied DC-10 trying to use cell phones and passing them around during and shortly after takeoff from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Cell phone use is barred on both U.S. and international flights. Some of the passengers also were trying to change seats, they said.

While cell phone use in general is a bane on society, it's a venal sin, not a cardinal one. And changing seats??? Has anyone flown lately? Airport seating algorithms are based on a combination of mystic runes and profit-maximization. On a half-empty flight (150 of 250 seats full) there's whole rows at the back empty, so some lucky and quick mover gets to lay down for the whole long flight.

Of course, these annoying and/or understandable behaviors become gross security risks if someone's brown. (Or Jerry Garcia, in this case...)

Nelson said he watched Dutch police come aboard in threes and escort a dozen men, 10 of them appearing to be of Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent, from the plane one by one in a remote parking area at the airport.

"Some they handcuffed before they took them out," he said. "One guy was a white guy, with a tie-dyed shirt, a beard and dreadlocks. He looked like a hippie. There was an older man who appeared to be of Indian descent."

My sweet love was asking me tonight what was up with all this. "Are they trying to make us afraid, or make us secure. I mean, we have to keep flying or the airlines will go bankrupt..." "More bankrupt" "Right, more bankrupt. So which is it? Fear or secure?"

The answer is 1) we feel fear, and 2) we are glad the vigilant pricks of the Bush administration are here to keep us alive. (Sorry - did I say vigilant pricks? I meant flaccid dicks. Bad me.)

Thankfully, the Big Lie is wearing thin. The Brit paper the Guardian calls it the "Alleged transatlantic airliners plot," while several people are pointing out either the bullshit or the US involvement - like where Scotland Yard tells the FBI to fucking shut their traps and blowing the investigation. Meanwhile, those arrested in the UK? "Police need more time..." to cover their asses, because they don't have much at all. (They got the extra time.)

The mental age that the Bush administration seems to be reaching for is that of a 6 year old boy. This is good propaganda technique; Adolf Hitler himself recommended it.
“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”

But it can come crumbling down, and the Nazis knew this could happen as well. Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister, had this to say:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

The political consequences of being a swaggering pack of whiny bullies are coming due. The economic consequences of raping the poor and middle class to benefit the rich are coming due. The military consequences of keeping the economy on a war footing and tying down the forces in an attempt to seize control of mideast oil are coming due.

Look for greater attempts to repress dissent, since it's all coming apart.

Lawdy, lawdy! Who'd'a thunk it? Turns out these dangerous types weren't dangerous after all!!

Terrorism not involved in diverted NWA flight, report says: AP

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands --The interrogation of 12 men who were removed from a Northwest Airlines flight after they aroused the suspicions of air marshals and crew produced no evidence of terrorism, the Justice Ministry said Thursday.

Flight NW0042 to Bombay, India, returned to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Wednesday escorted by Dutch fighter jets, and the 12 were questioned and arrested.

"From what is known until now, it does not appear that this is terrorism related," Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner told reporters in The Hague.

You wanna know what I think? I think Mr. Justice Minister needs to get with the program! C'mon!! FEAR!! FEEEEAAARRRR!!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Deconstructing "Victory Agenda"

Victory Agenda.

That's the new word out from the White House spinmeisters. Evil Turd Blossom? Don't know.

Let's take a look at it – the Bush propagandists love those little two word jimmies (death tax, shock and awe.)

George Lakoff would say we're doing a framing exercise. Good George.

V is for Victory – although V is also for Vendetta. But who is against victory? It's so much more satisfying than 'winning' or 'getting to the top'. Victory. Rolls off your tongue.

Who has a victory agenda? The term itself looks at the opposite – those who must, if they disagree with us, have a DEFEAT AGENDA!

Agenda is good, too, because it means you aren't there yet, but it's what you will do. It's a meeting word, a corporate word. The CEO and his top men (and Condi, too!) are here to figure it out. They have all the important things to do – on their VICTORY AGENDA!

It steers clear of the PLAN – as in, Mr. President, do you have a plan for Iraq? and replaces it with the pristine AGENDA.

As Tom Tomorrow once said, you just want to see all of us behind barbed wire in the camps, don't you?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lil' of this, lil' of that...

It's like a supreme pizza! Lots of things that might not even taste good together, lumped into one pie! (There's prolly an 'official blogger' term for this - linkfest?)

Russ Feingold (who I always vote for whenever dKos does a poll) said this yesterday: (Ben Broeren, Capital Times)

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold told a group of Madison area residents this morning that the ongoing U.S. presence in Iraq is the result of an "outrageous pile of lies" and called for more accountability.

"The Bush administration should take accountability for being stuck there and not admitting mistakes,"

(Oh - and I got that from Raw Story, and linked Kos. I give myself a C for originality, a D for promoting off-the path, but an A for local interest snark)

This is worth more than a quickie, but it's late (early, actually...) Mary Fucking Evil Kiffmeyer proves the not-actually but really funny Stalin quote: It matters not who they vote for, it matters who counts the vote.
Minnesota central tally machine goes black box!
In the coming weeks, nearly 3 million Minnesotans will vote in primary and general elections. And for the first time, every one of their votes will be entrusted to a computer.

"Trust" is the operative word. Citizens always have had to trust that public officials will run honest elections, but now voters also have to put their faith in a handful of private companies that sell, program and test the electronic machines used to count our ballots.

Sheesh - this one has to be followed up on.

Oaxaca update: this one from Duncan Kennedy of the BBC

Mexico teachers extend protests

Striking teachers seized 12 private radio stations in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca and set buses on fire, as a long-running protest worsened.

They acted after unidentified gunmen opened fire on a government radio station already under their control.

And a big-time plug - if you've not heard Democracy Now, on KFAI (90.3/106.7 FM) at noon, you gots to get on it, and host Amy Goodman's coming to town! She rawks!
WHAT: Amy Goodman Twin Cities Speaking Engagement
WHEN: Friday, September 8, 2006, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis
TICKETS: $10 general admission, available for purchase online by credit card at or by calling KFAI at 612-341-3144, ext. 33.
Tickets are also available at:
* Birchbark Books, 2115 West 21st Street, Minneapolis, 612.347.4023
* Lake Country Booksellers, 4766 Washington Sq., White Bear Lake, 651.426.0918
* Opposable Thumbs Books, 2833 NE Johnson St., Minneapolis, 612.706.2020

Ahhh... I think my work here is done!

Making the funny with songs

One of my newfound friends is a fellow Minnesotan at Norwegianity. Despite my many years of internet addiction, I've only recently poked my head into the left-world of Minnesota blogging. We are here! Anyway - this gem came from him today. It's what the old SF ffan would refer to as a Filksong - you take something people know and change the words to make more sense.

As a producer of filk myself, I'm always appreciative of other practitioners.

Imagine Iraq has nukes
It's easy if you close your eyes
Cooked intel to guide us
Friends in places high
Imagine all the people
Murdered someday....

Imagine no other countries
It isn't hard to do
No one left to kill or conquer
Only our religion
Imagine all the people
Living under us....

You may say I'm a dictator
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

One fortnight, 100 page views

Ahh, the little victories - I've now been at this daily for a fortnight (missed one of the last 15) and have (since I put the counter on late last week) gotten 100 page views.

Hooray for me!

(OK buddy, now let's get something real)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Under the weather

Since Mr. Nihilix was celebrating in a massive way the 30th birthday of a friend, and he had a little too much of this, and this, and some of this mixed with this, the pissy and/or passionate and/or funny stories are on hiatus until tomorrow.

So here's some other people's funny.

These two cartoonists - Cat and Girl and PartiallyClips have given me many good laughs of late. So here are some of their greatest hits. I'm only giving you one PartiallyClips, although there are other great ones here and here and here and here and here.

Mmmm... and this brilliant photoplay from Shakespeare's Sister.

And besides this, Cheney delendo est.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Why the Corporate Media Sucks: Fraud in Mexico City, Government Terror in Oaxaca

Remember the election in Mexico? For those who aren't info junkies, or even those who swim the seas of the left blogosphere, the happenings in our southern neighbor have been mighty quiet of late.

Of course, Mexico has not been quiet. The election of July 2nd, where the right-wing candidate, Filepe Calderon, had a 230,000 reported vote edge over the leftist, Andreas Lopez Obrador, out of about 30 million votes cast. Lopez Obrador and his party, the Party of Democratic Revolution (the PRD) mobilized (although in perhaps an odd way), got up to 2 million to rallies, and called for a complete recount.

The Mexican judiciary issued a ruling that there be a partial recount of 9% of the votes. That recount has been concluded, and the evidence of fraud is overwhelming. From the most-excellent (non-corporate) news site, Narco News (full article here):

  • In 3,074 precincts (29 percent of those recounted), 45,890 illegal votes, above the number of voters who cast ballots in each polling place, were found stuffed inside the ballot boxes (an average of 15 for each of these precincts, primarily in strongholds of the National Action Party, known as the PAN, of President Vicente Fox and his candidate, Felipe Calderón).
  • In 4,368 precincts (41 percent of those recounted), 80,392 ballots of citizens who did vote are missing (an average of 18 votes in each of these precincts).
  • Together, these 7,442 precincts contain about 70 percent of the ballots recounted. The total amount of ballots either stolen or forged adds up to 126,282 votes altered.
  • If the recount results of these 10,679 precincts (8.2 percent of the nation’s 130,000 polling places) are projected nationwide, it would mean that more than 1.5 million votes were either stolen or stuffed in an election that the first official count claimed was won by Calderon by only 243,000 votes.
  • Among the findings of this very limited partial recount are that in 3,079 precincts where the PAN party is strong and where, in many cases, the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) of candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not count with election night poll watchers, one or more of three things occurred: Either the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, in its Spanish initials) illegally provided more ballots than there are voters in those precincts, or the PAN party stole those extra ballots, or ballots were forged.

So, as in 1988 when the computer mysteriously crashed and PRD candidate Cardenas was denied an apparent victory, the organs of the Mexican government are conspiring to keep power out of the hands of the political left.

But the other story is of the other campaign: the Zapatista-facilitated uprising against the entire political system of Mexico. The state of Oaxaca, one state up from the EZLN (Zapatista) stronghold of Chiapas, has been shut down by popular dissent. For years, the Zapatistas have been enculturating indigenous autonomous zones, where the official state is simply ignored and the organizing of society is handled by the people.

This has come into open conflict in Oaxaca. The government buildings have all been surrounded by the APPO (the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca) and they have controlled the town square since May 22nd. They are demanding the resignation of the governor of the state, Ulises Ruiz. From John Gibler:

The strategy of the APPO is to generate “ungovernability” to force the resignation of Ulises Ruiz. The complete absence of uniformed city or state police at the APPO’s actions is a testament to the power they have achieved. I have not seen a single uniformed police officer during a two-week stay in Oaxaca City. (Nor have I heard testimony or read newspaper stories of street crime in the area controlled by the APPO.) The APPO has surrounded and essentially taken over the office buildings of the three branches of state government. They took over CORTV, a private company, and released the station employees to the Red Cross—as if the APPO were a recognized belligerent force.

Recently, Governor Ruiz announced that he was going to try to behead the opposition.

OAXACA CITY, August 10, 2006: The government of Oaxaca has advised the public that it will arrest all the leaders of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) to “guarantee the safety” of the state, the Secretary of Public Security Lino Celaya Luria said yesterday.

This clarifies the sudden rash of plainclothes operators snatching men off the streets. That’s what they mean by “arrests.”

Celaya indicated that the government has identified sixteen leaders of social organizations who, along with leaders of Section 22 of the teachers’ union, have directed the complete blockade of government buildings and the taking of highways and public offices of the state of Oaxaca.

State Attorney General Lizbeth Caña Cadeza has begun to implement the ruling by issuing fifty previous warrants based on past crimes. Caña Cadeza said that the “leaders” of APPO are among those fifty names. The charges are based on both actual “crimes” and the intellectual authoring of those crimes, both common and federal.

Mysterious arrests by plainclothes officers in unlicensed cars, men with guns shooting up the offices of opposition newspapers, and disappearances have been the result.

Which leads back the point in the title - the corporate media sucks. Mexico is in the grips of a mass mobilization of a hotly contested presidential election, and has been since July. One of the states governments has been under seige since the end of May. If the leaders of the People's Grange of South Dakota had been occupying Pierre for a couple months, don't you think we'd have heard about it?

The fact is, Mexico is the next rung down on the pyramid of oppression and economic exploitation that supports the American empire. The states of Central and Southern America are supposed to be in the hands of quiet technocrats, or if that fails, brutal generals; as long as they keep the right pro-US policies. So uprisings, either electoral or actual, are not going to be heard in the US corporate press.

This old IWW picture tells the story - except you need to extend it downward, to workers in other countries.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Democratic Party has Lost it's Soul

Fuck it.

It's not that the Democratic Party doesn't have a spine.

I am so sick of hearing this. It's like people who talk about Iraq without talking about the oil. It's like people who think this fascist gang of corporate puppets in the Bush Regime is credible about anything.

It's like an alcoholic who won't talk about the addiction, the elephant in the living room.

The Democratic Party isn't missing its spine. It's missing its soul.

They pawned it, you see. Sold it for a mess of pottage, a life of leisure, and a handful of perks.

How does a party get a soul, and how does it lose one? It gets it from the spilling of blood. It gets it from wounds taken and oaths to prevent further wounds.

The Democratic Party's soul was forged from those gunned down in the Teamsters Strike of 1934. It was forged in the streets of Selma, Birmingham, and Mobile, forged by the strange fruit that led to those streets being packed. It was forged from the blood that slowly trickled from the veins of the blacklisted writer. It was forged from the poor woman in a back alley who'd just been cut by a man who sterilized his knife with bourbon. It was forged from the blood of queers beaten into the ground, from the blood that may have carried a disease that we didn't want to talk about. The blood was poured out by the hearts of lovers and partners who could not be with each other while one was dying. The blood that forged the Party's soul was spilled in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. It was spilled in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Chile, Argentina.

The loss of a soul? Sold, of course. Sold to the highest bidder. Neo-liberal corporate capitalism bought the Democrat's soul, having already taken over the Republicans. Dribs and drabs of money here and favors there, get-along and go-along.

The Democratic Leadership Council has been one of the tools, the framework for the sale of soul. Thousands and thousands of contributions from the wealthy elite and corporate structure have teased out that soul, bit by bit.

And the forces that bought that soul are doing very very well. Tax cuts, tax cuts, more tax cuts. Tax cuts for the corporation, tax cuts for the shareholder, tax cuts for the individually wealthy. Freedom from regulation; oh, the onerous tasks of not harming the environment or your workers are getting less difficult. Foreign policy that defends your industry – ahh, that's another gift delivered by the soiled and sold-out to the ruling elite.

But things are changing, because blood is being spilled, and it's crying out to be heard.

Iraq and Afghanistan. Lebanon and Gaza. The blood spilled in the bizarre torture machine that is our healthcare system. The blood spilled in the actual torture machine that is Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the entire system of secret prisons and renditions. The Constitution has been bleeding, rent in many ways.

The scent of this blood is filling the nostrils of those in the political machine, no matter how hard they want to insulate themselves within the beltway. Lamont was one example. The blogworld is another.

But will it be enough? Will the roots: excessive corporate power, abuse of state power, one dollar – one vote, be dug out, or will there be surface change only?

Blood will tell.

Yay! Shakespeare's Sister link!

If you've stumbled in due to an awesome link from an awesome blog, here's a brief intro and request.

I'm in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, have been involved in media work (like Twin Cities Indymedia) for at least the last 7 years, and have recently started blogging. My politics are generally considered 'out of the mainstream' to the left (thanks to the redefinition of the mainstream by the Radical Right).

I've recently started regular - nearly daily - updates of the page, and I would love readers and comments. So if you see something you like, forward it; if you have any comment at all, please comment.

(Shorter Nihilix - love me! comment comment comment!)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Far too tasty... Republicans at their worst...

Ahh, the glory days of the Internets... those would be days like today. In Virginia and Minnesota, Republicans are showing their inner selves, opening like sick flowers to reveal the corruption within.

Calling Republican George Allen, US Senator from Virginia a racist is misguided. He has roots, just like Kunta Kinte did! He's a brother under that white skin, and he's promoted anti-lynching legislation and apologies for slavery and all that!

I'd been wondering why Congress was passing that crap. It was an attempt to rehabilitate racist white bigots. Tissue paper covering the not-too-long memories of the strange fruit of the South.

Speaking of which, the killer for me (no, wait: I'm white - I wasn't the kind of person to get strung up) was the fact that as a lawyer Allen had a noose hanging from a ficus tree in his office.

Then, there's this gem from Minnesota. What a beautiful headline:

Tax-protesting Maple Grove boss is on the lam
(Star Tribune, Randy Furst)

Oh, the poor god-fearing Robert Beale. First, we will note the kind and gentle headline. Contrast with this:

Tax-dodging suburban executive turns fugitive

Who is Robert Beale? He's a study in white entrepreueurship: good school, business success, Republican credentials, founder of the local branch of the Christian Coalition (more on this in a bit...)

Beale, an engineer, is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a groundbreaking inventor of computer technology and the owner of a company with 70 employees and revenues of $12 million to $15 million a year, say family members.

He was a Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention in the 1980s, Bradford Beale said, and contributed more than $10,000 to Republican candidates in the 1990s, according to Federal Election Commission records. He founded the Minnesota Christian Coalition, which is affiliated with the politically oriented Christian Coalition of America.

A stalwart! A pillar of his community! A man who thinks he's exempt from taxes!!

Over roughly seven years, Robert Beale has waged a legal war with the Internal Revenue Service and Minnesota Revenue Department, filing rambling explanations in court, citing God, the Constitution and obscure legal decisions. He even published a full-page ad in a newspaper to make his case.
Geez - I remember the good old days when people who said God told them they didn't have to pay taxes lived in compounds in Idaho. Apparently, this same feeling can be found in the well-manicured lawns of fancy suburbs.

But he's a godly man, you know. That should forgive him some sins. The Minnesota Christian Coalition has done good work! Like purging the schools of transgendered teachers, and crossing the line of non-profits to endorse Republicans (sorry, flirting with the line...)

Let he who is without sin pay the first tax.

I think this is, sadly, far too typical of those who are at the intersection of business and religion in the Republican base. They are profoundly uninterested, even hostile to American secular democracy. From the Dominionists who want to remake government in this country for the greater glory of God to the libertarians who want to get rid of all government, the ideal of 'separation of church and state' 'promote the general welfare' is lost to them. They denigrate the idea of the common good - with 'I've got mine' on the one hand and 'Only the Chosen' on the other.

And as George Allen shows, when all else fails get racist.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Republican racism? Nooooo.....

Oh - George Allen (R-VA) basically called an Indian-from-India who worked for his opponent a nigger the other day. But he used the term 'macaca', which Frameshop points out is pretty much the same thing in neonazi circles.

Racists: they're not just for breakfast anymore! (They're an integral part of the Republican base!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lebanon: In ruins again, somehow a loss for Israel?

Once again, Juan Cole quoting Patrick McGreevy

The Battle of Lebanon was a rude little war that played like a blockbuster summer film. This, perhaps, was the fundamental mistake that Israel and its US backers made: they underestimated the articulateness of Lebanon—a multilingual country, connected to a global diaspora, with a history so compelling that novice and seasoned journalists are drawn to its stories by instinct.

Hezbollah’s tactics countered Israel’s brilliantly before the world’s gaze. As the vastly more powerful force, the IDF could have crushed Hezbollah, but only by conducting a genocide on the Shiite people of southern Lebanon who support its resistance. And genocide, on global TV, is the one sin Israel cannot survive. Hezbollah is a designer resistance force, shaped by repeated Israeli blows against Arabs—designed not simply to counter its powerful adversary’s field techniques, but to infiltrate its soul and seek its deepest pain. It finds this pain like a heat-seeking missile finds its warm target because Hezbollah’s resistance, too, is born of pain. This is the madness we confront.
In a very real sense, Hezbollah 'won' this war. Since, if Seymour Hersh is to be believed, this was intended to be the opening step in attacking Iran, it's a clear loss for the US.

Oh - since countering big lies seems to be one of the things I'm doing in this blog, here's a big lie: the government of Israel does things that the US doesn't want.

We have given tens of billions of dollars and military equipment to the state of Israel. As Cole himself put it not too long ago, we are a Great Power, and Israel is one of our client states. If the US government wanted to stop the Israeli government from doing something, we could cut off that aid.

Needless to say, this never came up. As a matter of fact, our government rushed them more precision guided munitions, as well as crates and crates of cluster bombs, one of the least precision of all air ordinance, and a weapon that civilized people around the world put in the same category as poison gas and nukes; i.e., something not to be used at all, ever. (Ditto Depleted Uranium, btw.)

Anyway, good for Hezbollah; they survived. Yay, the aggression of the Israeli government wasn't rewarded. Over a thousand dead Lebanese, tens of thousands of wounded, a bombed airport and bridges and houses and factories. Yay. I guess.

Monday, August 14, 2006

We Live to Tread on Kings

...was the name of the post on Twin Cities Indymedia.

The CrimethInc conference this year was in the sleepy college town of Winona, Minnesota. It was an interesting time, that featured:

  • a street theater bit outside the Shakespeare festival...
    The doors of the theater daintily open to release the first patrons, the drum corps breaks into deafening rhythm, and mayhem erupts. From behind a nearby building, to the wonderment of all, the much-anticipated but as-yet-unseen king appears, thirty feet high, dragged by ten bent-backed attendants like a catapult or battering ram. The mob heaves forward, then opens to reveal a costumed squire and queen, the latter held aloft by four bearers and wielding a scepter inscribed “I RULE.” The theater audience gathers at the edge of the throng, all ears and eyes.
  • a Critical Mass bikeride and a Really Really Free Market
    The Locals, the Media, and the Authorities

    Two events—Friday’s Critical Mass bicycle ride and Sunday’s Really Really Free Market—provide excellent examples of what does and doesn’t work when it comes to connecting convergences like this one with local communities. In the former case, the vast influx of out-of-towners swelled the numbers of an existing local project, making for the most successful Critical Mass in Winona history. This was possible thanks to the efforts of the local Down’n’Dirty bike collective, which had fixed up several dozen bicycles in advance for visitors to ride. The ’Free Market, on the other hand, was the first of its kind in Winona. Although it was fliered heavily and a few locals did turn out, the bulk of the attendees were subculturally identified visitors, which if anything made for an environment that discouraged more local participation.
  • Advance media work with the local paper
    In the course of the weekend, three different front page articles about the convergence appeared in the local newspaper; all provided fairly positive, if vacuous, coverage. It helped a great deal that the local organizers had thought about media relations in advance and were already in touch with sympathetic reporters. This coverage must have made it less tempting for the police tangle with us; demonizing us in the media is usually an essential part of their strategy when they plan to disrupt an event.
Kudos to the brave circle-A types who made a few evenings a little less sleepy; perhaps opening some eyes.

(It's been a busy day, so there's not too much more for tonight. Gotta beat that Tuesday timestamp!)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

USA vs. Practically Everybody: UN Human Rights Council Denounces Israel

Let's take a look at what's been going on here... the UN Human Rights Council voted to condemn Israel for it's actions. Let's take a look at some context and deconstruct what the Strib has to say.

Star Tribune story

GENEVA - The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday condemned Israel for "massive bombardment of Lebanese civilian populations" and other "systematic" human rights violations, and decided to send a commission to investigate.

European countries, Japan and Canada voted against the resolution, primarily because it lacked balance in failing to cite the Hezbollah militia. The United States, which is an observer, has no vote on the 47-member council.

Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Levanon said the discussions were one-sided, referring only to civilian losses in Lebanon while ignoring the deadly Hezbollah missile attacks on northern Israel.

"It is painful and regrettable that the council made a distinction between the sufferings, the blood and the deaths, and this failure will forever be written in the annals of that body," he said.

The council voted 27-11 to pass the resolution, which was proposed by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference. Among those voting for the resolution were China, Russia, India, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Zambia and South Africa.

In addition to Canada and Japan, Romania and the Ukraine voted against it. I've not been able to find out which European nations voted against it. Switzerland, South Korea, Nigeria and the Philippines abstained.

Firing Katushyas into northern Israel is not kosher. But let's look at the death toll, in very round numbers. 1000 Lebanese dead, about 100 of them soldiers. 100 Israeli dead, about 50 soldiers and 50 civilians. The 'triggering incident' was a capture of a border patrol, which George Monbiot points out, is the kind of low-intensity warfare that's been going on across that border since the Israelis pulled out. Further, the Israeli government had been planning to invade for a while, and this was the excuse.

From Monbiot:
On July 12, in other words, Hizbullah fired the first shots. But that act of aggression was simply one instance in a long sequence of small incursions and attacks over the past six years by both sides. So why was the Israeli response so different from all that preceded it? The answer is that it was not a reaction to the events of that day. The assault had been planned for months.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "more than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and thinktanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail". The attack, he said, would last for three weeks. It would begin with bombing and culminate in a ground invasion. Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, told the paper that "of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared ... By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board".

A "senior Israeli official" told the Washington Post that the raid by Hizbullah provided Israel with a "unique moment" for wiping out the organisation. The New Statesman's editor, John Kampfner, says he was told by more than one official source that the US government knew in advance of Israel's intention to take military action in Lebanon. The Bush administration told the British government.

In this context, with Lebanese:Israeli deaths running at 10:1, and civilian deaths about 20:1, the UN was presented with a letter from the Tunesians (pdf), signed by 21 other mostly Arab nations, decrying the Israeli government's actions.

So back to the Strib's article - pretty short, and I have no idea where it was placed. In the first paragraph, the charges are scare-quoted; the second paragraph has the statements by the opposition, stated without any qualifiers. Not 'the countries who voted against it thought it lacked balance', not because it 'lacked balance', but 'it lacked balance.'

Then, two paragraphs of quote from the Israeli government. The setup contrasts 'civilian losses' with 'deadly Katushya missile attacks', and the quote itself is, as expected, spun towards the point of view of the Israeli government.

Finally, we have the story of the resolution and who voted for it. All in all, a pretty thoroughly biased story in favor of the Israeli government.

Turns out it was Europe, the right-wing Canadian government, the center-right Japanese government, and two members of 'new Europe'. Abstaining were the Swiss, who actually tried to broker a deal, and other US clients - South Korea, the Philippenes, and Nigeria.

Against the US were the East (China and Russia) and the global South (India, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Zambia and South Africa.) Interesting on this list are Mexico and South Africa. Mexico's election is still hanging, so the 'follow Washington' tendency may have been mitigated, and the South Africans standing against their former colonial masters on the side of the Lebanese.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

No post tonight - concert. Wait; post ABOUT concert!

Went to a concert - Gary Numan - and don't know if I have the energy for anything more than a few links.

OK - I can talk about the concert.

'Cars' is the audio cue for a personal anchor point. A place and sound and movement that evokes a time of centered power. I hit a peak experience, like Maslow talks about, in my Honda Prelude back about 1990, and when I was doing a meditation to find one of those, I tagged it to 'Cars'. (I don't remember if I actually was listening to it at the time, but it's very much of that time period.) I also listened to Telekon and I, Assassin, some - some kickass hits off Telekon.

So Numan was one of a few 'second tier' bands for me in that new-wave/gothy genre when I was in college, but I had a personal connection to one song. But a bunch of people I know were going, my roommate (see this post for him and music) was leaning on me to go, so wtf.

It was great. There were not a lot of songs I knew, but there was a deep powerful vibe coming off of Gary. The venue was small, and - get this - the only thing between me and Gary was his wife. Literally. Gemma O'Neill, a former member of the fanclub who married the boss, was the person between me and the stage. So yeah, I was close.

Best thing was, I found myself humming Numan cuts all day. I Die, You Die, This Wreckage, Down in the Park...

The show had a dark red energy. I saw Prong in an abandoned subway station in Germany a bunch of years ago, and that had a bright red energy. It's wierd. It's like the flow that fascism turned ugly for the Italians and the Germans. A red raw roaring emotion that's very powerful. Angry. Something that motivates you for hard work. It may have been used for evil, but must it be?

(Nihilix is flirting with the dark side. The Ring can be used for good!)

Anyway, cool show.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Porn, death porn, and Israel

It was a post on James Wolcott's most excellent blog that started the chain of thought...

Digby notes the fungus spread of the right wing's new talking point regarding the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon: the scenes of civilian casualties are staged photo ops by Hezbollah intended to prey upon the squeamish consciences of the Western media. Therefore we shouldn't be guiled or swayed by shots of limp, dead children in grieving arms. They're just propaganda props, bloody ragdolls served up for camera consumption ("The Palestinians, and by extension their rollicking sidekicks around the Muslim world, are the masters of dead-child porn")...

Dead-child porn... what a evil, vicious, clever cut. Those bad bad people, they thrust their headless and crushed infant bodies into the camera lens, all the while maintaining the cool detatchment of a stripper idly humping a brass pole, thinking of how their pain will appear on the front page of Le Monde next morning...

The last porn movie I saw - well, the money shots, anyway, was Mel Gibson's snuff-porn extravaganza, Passion of the Christ. The last half hour of it was shown at a local underground venue, with a DJ mixing a Slayer soundtrack through it. Like Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz, it had some eerie synchronicity. (The shot of Ozzy Osbourne as the Devil, crying out as the shattered corpse of the carpenter from Nazareth gave up it's spirit to the Father was particularly rock-opera-ish.)

So the warbloggers say the Palestineans are good at death-porn. So is Mel Gibson. And, as we now know, Gibson DOES believe in the international Zionist conspiracy. So all death-porn is really about the destruction of the state of Israel. So all life-porn (which depicts some acts that may, in certain situations, create life) by extension is therefore supportive of the state of Israel. So the Rapture Right should run out and get themselves a bunch of videos of men and women having sex, because that will defend the Israelis!

Ain't logic fun?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman, corporations, the war and the DLC

Man, that sad fuck...

OK, one of the main unacknowledged problems with American politics is the control of government by corporations. The corporate interests in this country have about 90% of the Republicans and 40% to 60% of the Democrats firmly under their thumbs. This gives them a solid majority - almost vetoproof, not that there's been a non-corporate president for a long while. Maybe Teddy Rooseveldt, or FDR (and if you recall, the Morgans and DuPonts tried to stage a military coup against him.)

Corporate control extends to foreign policy. The war in Iraq was pushed by Cheney and Rumsfeld, both tools of the petro-military-industrial complex. The war in Iraq has been good for corporate America in so many ways. From the theft(billions unaccounted for) to the graft (billions in contractual theft) to the military resupply to the increased price of oil, Wall Street lurves that Iraq crap.

This can be seen in some of the 'what the hell are you smoking' policies that come out of Washington, and that we see in the corporate press. Things that are so wrong-headed, so obviously benefitting a limited group against the will of the people. Want to know what I'm talking about? Here's a few that spring to mind.

Tax cuts. Tax cuts, which have been skewed slightly to seriously towards the rich and against everyone else, are assumed to be the norm. When the Democrats have a policy, it's targeted tax cuts. When the Republicans are in charge, they are expected to chunk out a major gift to the rich (what do you get someone who has everything? More everything!) Raising taxes is assumed to be political suicide, despite the fact that large majorities support them, when they're progressive (the rich pay more) and people know what the money is going for. But they're 'taboo'.

Support of the government of Israel. This is something that I could way go off on, given the blatant crap that the Israeli government is doing right now, but the short version is that you can't criticize anything they do or you're an anti-semite, and you'll be made to pay during the elections. AIPAC, which Juan Cole calls the lobbying arm of the Israeli Defense Force, is one of the main tools used.

Support of corporate managed trade, hypocritically known as 'Free Trade.' Naturally, Republicans want this, although they sometimes get defections based on opposition from local industries. (Steel tarrifs, agricultural subsidies, etc.) Bill Clinton, who is the great white hope to some on the left, showed his colors admirably when he spent huge amounts of political capital to get NAFTA passed. At the same time, a law banning permanent replacement of striking workers (an anti-scab law) passed the House and failed in the Senate by TWO VOTES. If Billy was really for the working man, he'd have told international capital to screw itself, and pushed back for organized labor, which hadn't had a positive step since freaking 1934.

These are just a few. These kinds of policies, beloved of corporations, are considered to be just normal. This is based, of course, on control of the government and the coporate propaganda system of pundits and corrupt newsrooms.

It used to be that the Democrats would slow down or moderate or even ameliorate these kinds of things. But that's before they sold their souls to the bankers. And the mechanism that they have been using to do so is the Democratic Leadership Council, or the DLC.

The DLC is a lobby group intended to increase the voice of corporations in the Democratic party. It gave us Bill Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Al Gore, and John Kerry. It also gave us a debate in this country that's crippled (as see above.) And the DLC got it's top-heavy, top-down ass whupped in Connecticut.

Joe was a special beast. Not only did his foreign policy totally align with the neoconservatives, he was happy to undercut the party. He was a Quisling who turned against his own people, a victim of Stockholm syndrome who identified with his captors. He was the prison trustee given special freedoms as long as he kept his fellows in line.

And he did all these things, and that cost him.

Fare thee well, Joe. Maybe one of your corporate buddies can get you a hot lobbying job after all this is through.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Happy Joementum Dance!

Ahh... so the dark Yoda, Joe Lieberman, has lost his primary race.


So nice to have a victory once in a while.

This is awesome. The dude was an 18 year incumbent with plenty of money. He's now (whine, whine) gonna run as an independent.

Three time loser, I say!

Da-da-da-daaa daaa! Joe lost the pri-maa-ry!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Catching up with Informed Comment

Informed Comment, by Juan Cole, is one of the best blogs there is. No, really.

OK, for any leftist who has the sneaking suspicion that the corporate media is about 95% lies about the Middle East, and wants well-researched, sometimes heartwrenching, sometimes funny news about the area, interspersed with occasional rants about the Bush Regime, this is one of the best blogs.

I'm catching up on his stories. Like this monster, with maps and everything, which will take like, serious focus.

But here's one from a few days ago that grabbed me... this thing here. It's not Cole, but it's a great post. Which is the point. It's by Patrick McGreevy, whoever he is, and Patrick is in Beruit. Heavily excerpted:

“Justice” Comes to Qana

' The attacks of 11 September 2001 gave many ordinary Americans a palpable experience of injustice. Addressing both houses of Congress nine days later, President Bush proclaimed: "Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." By nearly conflating justice and revenge, the President... lost an opportunity to see with new clarity, justice itself, cast into relief by the very experience of injustice...

This week “justice” came to the Lebanese Village of Qana. The United States had blocked every attempt to end the violence...

Reacting to the horrors of World War II, the bold thinking Max Horkheimer suggested that we finally make social progress from the experience of the opposite of justice... Hence, “the anonymous martyrs of the concentration camps are the symbols of the humanity that is striving to be born,” and we could expect insight from those “who have gone through the infernos of suffering and degradation in their resistance to conquest and oppression.”

Hassan Nasrallah speaks to the Arab World and the Muslim World about their common experience of injustice. Do not doubt its deep resonance. Its truth. Qana is just the latest, and one of the clearest, and most globally visible, examples. Can those who launched the endless war finally recognize the infinitely valuable “inner light” so callously snuffed out of each of those dusty child corpses?

Ask your right wing christian buddy why it's ok for the Israelis to kill on a 10:1 ratio. Are the souls of Lebanese, of little Lebanese babies less fucking important than other souls? Huh???

Grr... pisses me off...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Childbirth in America sucks: one woman's view

I forget who linked me to this site, but Nayla has some things to say. In long posts that sometimes tire me. Oh well! An interesting young woman with a lot to say.

As Ms. Nihilix is a doula, I pay attention to the western medical consumer healthcare machine, esp. how it deals with childbirth.

Here's hoping the link will show up!

Enough Already
With ten weeks of pregnancy to go, I'm done with our doctors and taking steps to transfer to a nurse-midwife practice down the street that delivers at a hospital where pregnant women aren't routinely strapped down. The final straw? My doctor yelling to the staff that I couldn't refuse a gestational diabetes test, despite being demonstrably hypoglycemic, then attempting to bully me with boogeymen of fetal death, and finally, unwilling to concede that my stomach would promptly and dramatically invalidate the test, demanding I monitor my blood glucose five times a day while keeping a food diary religiously. Did I mention she scrawled a page's worth of bad patient/mother shaming in my medical records while she was at it? Well, aside from plenty of evidence that the gestational diabetes test is harmful and my own firsthand experience of Eli's behavior when our blood sugar is thrown for a loop, neverminding that the test would cost a lot only to end up on the floor, I'm done with the attitude. Need I, a lowly volunteer EMT, remind my doctor that patients have rights, including refusal of inappropriate medical care? Rights that supercede their bottom line.

Read the rest here.

Ahhh... the title track. Tasty tasty.

Back from vacation

Utah and the North Shore. Gone for a week. Very limited internet for the first part, none for the second.

I've just cleared a wall of about 4 layers of posters and reminders and crap. Mr. Nix here is going on a cleaning binge. More of that later.

I listened to the Coup's latest release a lot the last few days. Looking for some videos.