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28 April 2007

Happy Springtime/Bush Is Over

BBC on Somalia

More on this from Democracy Now!

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Why Everyone But Kucinich in the Dem Field Sucks

From ICH and YouTube:

Chomsky on Al-Jazeera English, 26 Apr 07

27 April 2007

Bill Moyers, "Buying the War"

Another Great Olbermann Comment, on Giuliani

26 April 2007

Parecon: Life After Capitalism, Michael Albert

Free online book; Verso: 2003. Excellent introduction to "parecon," or "participatory economics," or "democracy applied to the workplace and economy as a whole." In other words, a bad name for a great idea. Not socialism. Not capitalism. Not "the third way." Another option; one worth looking into.

For those who have the math (I don't) and want to delve deeper, here's a technical book, free, from Princeton U Press, 1991: The Political Economy of Participatory Economics.

And here's more than you'll ever read from parecon central at Znet.

Raphael, Alba Madonna, c. 1510 (National Gallery, Washington, D.C.)

Gore Vidal: Understanding America's Terrorist Crisis: What Should Be Done?

Apr 18th, 2002

The Independent Institute - Washington, D.C.

How did the United States come to be so hated? Could the horrific events of September 11th be setting in motion a chain of events far more significant than the terrorist attacks themselves? Held before a standing-room audience of 1,350, this powerful program features celebrated authors and scholars who examine the terrorist crisis and ask the all-important question: Why?

Filmed before a live audience, renowned author Gore Vidal rejects the blind “patriotism” expected by government officials and the mainstream media, and investigates U.S. foreign policy throughout recent history, showing how it has contributed to the terrorist crisis. With his famous wit and insight, Vidal also demonstrates the ways in which the “War on Terrorism” is being used to curtail civil liberties and shred the Bill of Rights.

Barton Bernstein, Professor of History, Stanford University, examines the definition of terrorism and cites U.S. military campaigns perpetrated against foreign civilians during the twentieth century. Economist and historian Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow, The Independent Institute, debunks myths about the U.S. defense budget that perpetuate massive corporate welfare and contribute to America’s vulnerability to terrorism. Thomas Gale Moore, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, describes the effects of U.S. global military presence and explores options that would reduce the terrorist threat. The forum finishes with a lively question and answer session - The Independent Institute

The Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly, public-policy research and educational organization that sponsors comprehensive studies on the political economy of critical social and economic problems.

Starts at 11:40; kinda start-and-stop. It is on the actual site, too -- at least today (i.e., not an embedded video issue). Try hitting pause/play over and over. Worth it.

Chomsky on Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, 2/3/04

Feb 3rd, 2004

United Nations Correspondents Association - New York, NY

Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance

From the United Nations Correspondents Association in New York City, Noam Chomsky discusses the "Bush doctrine" and its implications. In particular, Professor Chomsky addresses the Bush administration's space policy and its overall efforts to expand U.S. influence and power. He also talks about the case of British whistleblower Katherine Gun, who leaked a memo stating that the NSA had been spying on UN Security Council members, and discusses the charges against the Cuban 5, who were convicted in the U.S. of espionage in 2001. On September 20, 2006, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, speaking in front of the U.N. General Assembly, praised Professor Chomsky's book, Hegemony or Survival, and recommended that Americans read it.

Noam Chomsky, a professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, is the author of numerous books on U.S. foreign policy, including American Power and the New Mandarins, Political Economy of Human Rights (two volumes, written with Edward Herman), Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, and Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World. His most recent books are Failed States and Perilous Power.

Gore Vidal on the V-Tech Shootings

Most recent idea: Vidal and others are pushing for an amendment making a recall vote (of no confidence, by the people). Damn good idea.

Scott Ritter Interviewed by Seymour Hersh on Target Iran

Two people who get it.

"Working for the Clampdown," The American Conservative

"What might the president do with his new power to declare martial law?"

Good question. What percentage of the American people know that this, and the next, president now has this power, which should be revoked yesterday?

The raving liberals at American Conservative -- James Bovard, that frothing lefty, in the case -- are right on the money here.

The Constitution: our common inheritance, currently being used as toilet paper in the White House.

George McGovern: Cheney is wrong about me, wrong about war - Los Angeles Times

Time to impeach the whole fucking crew. Cheney first, Bush next, fire the rest.

"The Camp David II Negotiations: How Dennis Ross Proved the Palestinians Aborted the Peace Process," Norman Finkelstein

Journal of Palestine Studies, 142: Winter 2007.

By the way, Finkelstein's talk at Brandeis was good; Sara Roy's intro was excellent; the questions, and some yelping members of the audience, were embarrassing.

I've never seen an academic audience act like that...fall asleep, sure, but not be so wildly irrational. Yelling stuff out; well, I shouldn't be surprised. Actually, I had to tell a couple of wackazoids sitting next to me to "chill out" and "take it easy" after their second outburst. Poor Roy: people like that don't care about free speech or anything of the kind. She should have cut the first lunatic off, who gave five-minute speech, as he was not following the rules set out immediately before he started talking. Maybe she was taking the high road, but people like that are basically cowards (usually) and will back down if held to the rules. Of course, he proved Finkelstein's point by making ad hominem attacks -- anything but challenging the assertions.

I was sitting next to those two yahoos; they were referring to Finkelstein as "Herr Professor"; and generally acting like children (or Stalinists): running up and down the line to arrange questions with like-minded individuals. There was some "post-mortem" after the talk in which the first nutjob questioner (Russian?) was berated for getting too emotional and not sticking it to Finkelstein more. A poor 18-year-old who was, heaven forbid, "confused" (i.e., open-minded) was told in no uncertain terms to read Dershowitz (!), as he "has refuted everything Finkelstein has written." Quite the opposite, I should think.

Anyway, I think lightning rods like Finkelstein allow for the expulsion and explosion of pent-up psychological needs...as Finkelstein said, I'm really not sure those people care at all about Israel -- from Dershowtiz to the questioners there.

The student questions were generally embarrassing, when not combative. A couple of good ones, but I would bet Finkelstein gets better ones at a Barnes & Noble (or equivalent). Some great university that Brandeis.

Even with a weak case to work with (i.e., Israel's record), hell, I could have played devil's advocate better than that! Eh, whatever: it really should not be surprising to me, but that was the first time I'd ever been present for one of those talks.

The moral blindness of many of the questions was amazing: one kid wanted to know how the Palestinians first got to Palestine -- duh, we all know the implication: the Arab conquest in the seventh century. First, from what little I know, Arabs had been living there for as long as anyone could remember back into the Roman period. Second, if at some point in remote antiquity, after the Babylonians removed (most? all?) of the Jews, the local population increased or immigration increased, still, the Babz had zilch to do with the local Arabs or proto-Arabs, so it's hardly the same thing. Third, even if all Palestinians stem from an Arab conquest in the seventh century (let's grant that for argument's sake), if the moral and political bar is to be set as low as the seventh century, well, hey, let's bring back slavery and a host of other wonderful things! It's scary to watch the propaganda at work -- I think that's what really upset me: total blindness on this issue.

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Audio here; sorry, no video -- you'll have to swoon to Obama's mellifluous voice only. However, you may gaze upon his Doryphorian form as you listen.

Not bad, and I may end up voting for him if Kucinich isn't in the RI primary, or if he gets the nomination -- can't think of a Republican I would even dream of voting for.

However, I think it reads so well only because of the horror of the past 6 years, to say nothing of the hypocrisy of the Clinton admin before it. It's a pretty good liberal-Republican speech from pre-Reagan years. Some good stuff on the nearly 20-year-old proposal to buy up and lock down WMDs in the former Soviet Union. Good grasp of the interconnectedness of the world; but we had that after WWI. Hardly needed 9/11 to drive it home. Good on global warming, but again, pretty much in the mainstream on that.

I can do without the "we are the greatest" and "I still believe" bullshit that seems to pollute virtually every speech, and rings very false here.

Missing from the speech:

  • Dismantling of bases around the world. We need to choose empire or republic
  • Full withdrawal ASAP from Iraq, including the dismantling of bases there, and payment of reparations
  • America's time as an empire has indeed passed, or should
  • Making aid to Israel contingent on dismantling the settlements and dealing with the Palestinians, no matter who they elect
  • Stop demonizing Hamas and Hezbollah and start dealing with them
  • Admit that Iran is not a big problem, which it isn't
  • Democracy in Latin America is arguably stronger than in the US; narco-trafficking is a product of our insane drug war; how about canceling that?
  • Changing WTO and IMF rules to stop choking off the South
  • Afghanistan is not "backsliding" into instability; it's there, and has been for ages. I don't like the Dem notion that "those people" in Iraq and Afghanistan just can't stand up, so we have to stand down. That's ridiculously a-casual and immoral.
  • Perpetual instability has at least partially been achieved in the Mideast by US actions supporting Israel.
  • What military programs will he cut? I see none. Obama wants to expand the already bloated military budget. That's how you make yourself "electable."
  • Again, with the "no military option off the table." We cannot invade or strike NK or Iran, especially the former. Without a global climbdown from nukes, which means a radical leveling of power, and a new balancing of power (and a democratized UN), we, the species, are eventually screwed.
  • Harry Truman pretty much launched us on our empire with NSC-68; Obama must know that. Not one I'd quote...but he's popular, of course, so...Dean did the same thing in '04
  • Biofuels have negative environmental impacts, including increasing famine. Popular in the midwest, though.
  • I think he gets the causes of terrorism half-right; some of it is outrageous reaction to US actions. We ought to look at that, if only out of self-interest.
  • I would like to see "a society that is supported by the pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force" in this country! This hypocrisy is not lost on those we preach our innate superiority to.

25 April 2007

Tell Congress: Attorney General Carl Schmitt...I mean, Alberto Gonzales...Must Go

Sign it, and pass it on! Vidal recently pointed out that Gonzales talks like Capote. Great imitation; good point; equally craven and depraved ethics, including sucking up to fame and power.

Gore Vidal on Charlie Rose, 1998.

Starts at 2:37. Haven't watched it yet; not sure how annoying Rose will be. [Later:] Yeah, Rose is typically annoying. Asks the same five questions; won't let anyone answer them. Made a career of this. Ah, well. The Smithsonian Institution, a great novel, is discussed at least, when Rose can shut up. Great words of wisdom (do I need to say, from Vidal?) at 18:17.

Vidal Interview on "This Is America," Dennis Wholey

Non-embeddable, unfortunately. Click the title above to go to GooTube.

Wholey is a native of Cranston, RI, from whence springs my lovely wife.

An Hour with Bill Moyers on Democracy Now!

On the run-up to the Iraq War, and the upcoming PBS documentary. Here's the Editor & Publisher article on it.

Kucinich Introduces Impeachment Articles Against Cheney

The articles are here. About fucking time. Next step:

A message for today on why George Bush should be impeached, from Chris Hedges:

George Bush has shredded, violated or absented America from its obligations under international law. He has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, backed out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, tried to kill the International Criminal Court, walked out on negotiations on chemical and biological weapons and defied the Geneva Convention and human rights law in the treatment of detainees. Most egregiously, he launched an illegal war in Iraq based on fabricated evidence we now know had been discredited even before it was made public.

This president is guilty, in short, of what in legal circles is known as the “crime of aggression.” And if we as citizens do not hold him accountable for these crimes, if we do not begin the process of impeachment, we will be complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that will have terrifying consequences. For a world without treaties, statutes and laws is a world where any nation, from a rogue nuclear state to a great imperial power, will be able to invoke its domestic laws to annul its obligations to others. This new order will undo five decades of international cooperation – largely put in place by the United States -- and thrust us into a Hobbsian nightmare.

We must not allow international laws and treaties – ones that set minimum standards of behavior and provide a framework for competing social, political, economic and religious groups and interests to resolve differences – to be discarded. The exercise of power without law is tyranny. And the consequences of George Bush’s violation of the law, his creation of legal black holes that can swallow us along with those outside our gates, run in a direct line from the White House to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

George Bush -- we now know from the leaked Downing Street memo -- fabricated a legal pretext for war. He decided to charge Saddam Hussein with the material breach of the resolution passed in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. He had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was in breach of this resolution. And so he and his advisors manufactured reports of Weapons of Mass Destruction and disseminated them to a frightened and manipulated press and public. In short, he lied to us and to the rest of the world. There are tens of thousands, perhaps a few hundred thousand people, who have been killed and maimed in Iraq because of a war that has no legal justification, a war waged in violation of international law. The grief visited on American and Iraqi families demands that we as citizens begin the process to restore of the rule of law. The murderous rampages in Iraq demand this. The torture done in our name demands this. The empowerment of states that will act on our lawless example if w e do not impeach George Bush and return to a world of standards demands this. Simple human decency demands this.

A rule-based world matters. The creation of these international bodies and rules, as well as the use of our influence over the last half century to see they were followed, have allowed us to stand preeminent as a nation – one that respects and defends the rule of law. If we demolish the fragile and delicate international order, if we permit George Bush to create a world where diplomacy, broad cooperation and the law are worthless, if we allow these international legal systems to unravel, we will see our moral and political authority plummet. We will erode the possibility of cooperation between nation states, including our closest allies and see visited upon us the evils we visit on others.

Information Clearing House needs your help!

Read on, Macduff:

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To all those who have helped in the past. Thank you. - Peace & Joy. Tom

"Fascist America, in 10 easy steps," Naomi Wolf in The Guardian

Yup. Watch out.

24 April 2007

John Cleese Eulogizes Self, 2006

Jonathan Miller's "Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief"

Unique, and apparently to air on PBS next month, as "A Brief History of Disbelief." One hour each. Show descriptions taken from the Information Clearing House RealPlayer pages, listed below.

From a press release:

A Brief History of Disbelief is a deeply intelligent and rational journey through the highly divisive topic. The series is presented by the Independent Production Fund, executive director Alvin Perlmutter.

Written and narrated by acclaimed British intellectual Jonathan Miller — author, lecturer, TV producer/host, director of theater, opera and film, and neurologist — A Brief History of Disbelief originally aired on the BBC in the U.K. It was the first-ever historical look at the controversial topic on television. And contrary to what many Christian fundamentalists today consider America’s founding principles, the first presidents were actually skeptical of religion. A Brief History of Disbelief traces the history of the first unbelievers in ancient Greece through the role of disbelief in America’s founding to its flourishing today.

"Jonathan Miller visits the absent Twin Towers to consider the religious implications of 9/11 and meets Arthur Miller and the philosopher Colin McGinn. He searches for evidence of the first 'unbelievers' in Ancient Greece and examines some of the modern theories around why people have always tended to believe in mythology and magic."
"With the domination of Christianity from 500 AD, Jonathan Miller wonders how disbelief began to re-emerge in the 15th and 16th centuries. He discovers that division within the Church played a more powerful role than the scientific discoveries of the period. He also visits Paris, the home of the 18th century atheist, Baron D'Holbach, and shows how politically dangerous it was to undermine the religious faith of the masses."
"The history of disbelief continues with the ideas of self-taught philosopher Thomas Paine, the revolutionary studies of geology and the evolutionary theories of Darwin. Jonathan Miller looks at the Freudian view that religion is a 'thought disorder'. He also examines his motivation behind making the series touching on the issues of death and the religious fanaticism of the 21st century."

The Atheism Tapes
. The full interviews with six thinkers in the series (some better than others): Arthur Miller, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Denys Turner, Colin McGinn, and Steven Weinberg.

Sex Education, Cleese-Style


"Every Sperm Is Sacred" & the Protestant Rejoinder

No doubt this, too, will be banned. I mean, it might hurt someone's feelings! How terrible.

Excellent Scene from The Passion of the Christ

The parts of Passion used herein constitute all I've seen of this film, which seems to me to be pornographically violent. Sigh. Great mash-up, this:

All the Charlie Chaplin You Can Handle!

If you need a little cheering up, and have a spare quarter- or half-hour, click the title of this post for 62 free Chaplin flicks. It's all point-and-click; should work easily. Click the link of the movie you want to see on the search list, and then click the big, green play button superimposed on the screen. Should start automatically if you have Flash installed.

In case that doesn't work, just click on either the dialup or broadband connection under Stream on the left navigation. That should open a new page and start the film in QuickTime automatically.

If that doesn't work, download one of the versions under Play/Download -- the smaller, the faster, but the smaller, the smaller the screensize -- and save it to your desktop. Double-click the icon to play -- the icon will be either a RealPlayer one or a WindowsMedia one, depending on what your default media player is. If you default media player is QuickTime, you won't ever get to this point unless you skip the Stream option.

If you need any of these free media plugins, the names of which are italicized in this post, check out the links under "Media Plugins" in the upper-right-hand corner of this blog.

His Girl Friday

Classic fast-talkin' comedy with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, based on The Front Page. NB: the film's copyright date is 1939, not 1940.

Update: The Google Video version gets out of synch, which for this screwball verbal slapstick is worse than usual. Watch it by clicking the title to this post; download it to be sure to get synched a/v.

TomPaine.com - GOP's Cyber Election Hit Squad Exposed

As in, "Yes, Virginia, the 2004 election was stolen." Chalk up another one -- as though any more evidence were needed -- for those crazy, conspiracy-minded "sore losers." Can't wait for 2008.

Reportedly (I wasn't there), Kerry and especially his wife now concede that the election was stolen. This from a book-tour appearance at Harvard Square.

I've yet to get the reasons, second-hand, for Kerry's early concession from the conceder himself. I'm ready to concede that his concession might be explicable, but until I hear the reasons, I will, not unreasonably I think, refuse to concede that his early concession was anything but craven and irresponsible, his recent concession that the election was stolen notwithstanding.

"Eighteen Missing Inches," Excerpt from Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse

Nine and a half minutes on how the White House, FEMA, and the rest of the federal government really reacted to Katrina. (Dig the paperback edition, just out.) From Greg Palast's site ("The New Armed Madhouse Out Today"):

If you have ANY plan to grab a copy of my book, Armed Madhouse, I’m asking you, please: do it THIS WEEK.

The new edition, in paperback, totally updated with two new chapters, is out today.

Why get it this week? Because Karl Rove hopes you don’t.

I can’t make this up: In a February 7 email subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee, the Rove gang boasts that in the USA, “no national press has picked up” the investigations in Armed Madhouse. There’s even an excerpt from Armed Madhouse attached to Rove’s rant.

Chris Hedges, "Jesus 'Love-Bombs' You"

Hedges continues his phenomenal reporting on Christian fascism.

Stop Postal Rate Hikes! -- Petition

Time Warner literally wrote up this hike for the Postal Service. It will destroy (as is intended) small publishers, including magazines as diverse as The Nation, The National Review, and The American Conservative, all of whom are fighting it along with many others:

The new postage rates that are being implemented by the US Post Office which could affect many small and independent publications in this country. Postal rates for smaller periodicals could increase by as much as 30 percent while some of the largest circulation magazines will face hikes of less than 10 percent.

The advocacy group Free Press says the rate change was developed with no public involvement or Congressional oversight. They are calling for a congressional hearing on the changes. The Postal Service Board of Governors recently accepted the periodical rate recommendations of the Postal Regulatory Commission. According to a document outlining the Board’s decision, the Commission recommended “a rate structure proposed by Time Warner, Inc.”

Sign this, and pass it on!

Dig Katrina Vandel Heuvel on DN! about this issue.

Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s First Elected President, Dies at 76

DN! on Yelstin, with Katrina Vanden Heuvel. Good stuff.

The great rape of Russia: Yeltsin's legacy.

23 April 2007

The Children of Húrin: One for the Ages

I'm done and am truly chilled. It has the horror of a Greek tragedy, and my opinion, if anything, is higher now than it was halfway through.

I don't recognize Tolkien in this story much -- it's orders of magnitude beyond his other fiction.

Well done. Go and read it!

Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Shot With Rubber Bullet by Israeli Military at Nonviolent Protest

Nice way to treat a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Of course, she deserves no better and no worse treatment than any other human being.

I see the IDF is going nuts again (i.e., still) in the OTs this weekend:

Israel Kills Eight Palestinians, Including 17-Year-Old Girl
In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed eight Palestinians over the past two days including a 17-year-old girl and a Palestinian police officer. Six of the Palestinians were killed on Saturday making it the deadliest day so far this year in the occupied territories. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas condemned the killings

  • Ismael Haniyeh: "I express the condemnation of the government to the crimes of assassinations killings and liquidations conducted by the Israeli occupation forces. This is a new proof on the brutality of the occupation and the continued desire to shed Palestinian blood."
The 17-year-old Palestinian girl, Bushra Barghish, was killed after being shot in the head while she stood at her window in Jenin refugee camp. The girl's mother described what happened.
  • Mother of Bushra Barghish: "I am calling her name, Bushra, and within seconds I found her dead in pool of blood underneath her."

Two Interesting Articles on Whither Russia from the New Left Review

  1. "Russia Redux?" Vladimir Popov
  2. "Contours of the Putin Ear: A response to Vladimir Popov," Tony Wood

22 April 2007

The Children of Húrin, J.R.R. Tolkien

FWIW, I'm halfway through and I think it's his best work. Yes, including LOTR, which I've read maybe five times.

Much more mature, much more conflicted and realistic characters -- in essence, much closer to the Anglo-Saxon source material (i.e., Beowulf, which I'd recently re-read in this prose translation). Dark, violent, moving, and even frightening. There's a confrontation scene between Morgoth/Melkor and Húrin that is so far my favorite, and quite chilling. Not quite Grand Inquisitor-level, but surprisingly effective.

Beautifully illustrated throughout; very happily surprised (thus far). Didn't think it'd be this good.

Dig it.