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18 May 2007

Immigrant Rights Groups Condemn New Senate Proposal To Overhaul Nation's Immigration Laws

Ted Kennedy, that great "liberal," has signed on to this travesty.

According to the guest -- Stan Mark, Program Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund -- the Kennedy-Bush bill, among many other things, allocates resources for detention of up to 27,500 people per day on an annual basis.

That's incredible, and if true, possibly the most frightening development of the Bush regime. It means ICE raids that will make New Bedford, et al, look like nothing. Total fascism. They weren't kidding about those Halliburton detention centers. (Here's a non-New York Times view; here's Halliburton's view; here's a non-PR-whore view.)

Well, one use, at least. They'll always have room for those pesky "subversives" who protest open martial law after the next terrorist attack.

George Monbiot: "If We Don’t Deal With Climate Change We Condemn Hundreds of Millions of People to Death"

Pretty much, yeah. "The Bush Administration's handling of climate change is like Trofim Lysenko's handling of genetics. I mean, this is a complete clamp-down on science." Exactly.

Here's Alexander Cockburn, usually a good analyst, talking total bullshit. He's not strong on science: that's probably the most generous description. Maybe Cockburn just loves his old cars! At minimum, Cockburn is mixing up cause and effect. Yes, there are those in the nuclear power industry trying to take advantage of growing concern about global warming. No, the entire scientific community is not in on the scam.

Here's Monbiot, interviewed on DN! above, responding to Cockburn, and the debate thereafter, linked on the top of the page.

For those enamored of Al Gore, a little history lesson of what he and Clinton did to Kyoto back in the day.

Greg Palast Interview on the 2008 Election

1977 BBC Interview: "The Ideas of Chomsky"

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

I noticed one misconception or confusion in this talk. When discussing Hume and Freud, Chomsky maintains that introspection cannot bring about ideas on the "mental stage" (this was mostly aimed at Hume), so that model of the mind, or any subsequent one based on the same metaphor, is "radically wrong." Well, I agree up to a point. It is true that whatever isn't biologically thinkable isn't biologically thinkable -- circular but as true as saying that if you don't have wings you won't fly.

However, earlier on, when discussing the notion that not all cognition is language-based, Chomsky said that anyone who "introspects" will immediately notice that not all thought is language-based. I agree. But why is it that one kind of introspection -- which brings to consciousness what was simply taken for granted (i.e., unconscious) -- is allowed but another is not?

Even if Chomsky's correct that Freud in principle thought that the entire subconscious could be revealed (and I'd be very surprised if that is true; if so, Freud was wrong*), certainly in practice Freud understood that this excavation was a tentative and highly labor-intensive process with necessarily partial success. To me, the whole notion of analysis is simply "structured remembrance." Surely, Chomsky doesn't reject the phenomenon of forgetting; why reject that ideas (or feelings or any other mental state) can be available (or, conscious) at certain times but unavailable (or, un- or sub-conscious) at others? I don't always consciously repeat to myself all the things I know all the time -- "storage" must occur. And I know that through logic and introspection. An organism constantly bombarded with the ever-burgeoning welter of experienced knowledge and emotions would pretty soon self-destruct. Even at the non-mental level, there are feedback mechanisms that block out repeated sensations, which is at least potentially analogous: I forget the exact term, but it's true that certain stimuli have a large effect when first presented but progress toward zero effect if they continue.

Other than that, what Chomsky had to say was spot on.
*Here's why I can say that: How could one know that one had fully explored the contents of one's subconscious? How do you know when you're done with the trip? The boundaries are not obvious, even in principle.

IDF in Gaza

Not content with fomenting civil war between Fatah and Hamas, Israel is bombing Gaza. Again.

17 May 2007

"Starving the poor," Noam Chomsky

From The International News, Pakistan.

Pretty much sums it up. You cannot get a clearer high-level view of the neoliberal/neoconservative project than from Chomsky's writings over the past 40 years.

"Woman" Scorned

Why this use of "woman," a noun, as an adjective? "The first woman director..." and so forth. It comes up everywhere. The term is "female." You never hear about "Bush, a man president, yesterday bombed..."

I assume sexism. More like, deduce, from the top sources in the English language:

The Shorter OED CDROM on "woman":

Comb.: Appositional with the sense 'female', esp. in names of professions etc. (formerly) more usually pursued by men, as woman doctor, woman driver, woman police officer, woman-servant, woman teacher, etc. (pl. women doctors etc.).

On "man":

Appositional (pl. men) with the sense 'male', esp. in names of professions etc. more usually pursued by women, as man cook, man nurse, etc.

The New Fowler's on "feminine designations":

3 In practice, if the need arises to indicate the sex of an occupational or agent noun, woman, lady, or girl are sometimes used as prefixed modifiers: e.g.: woman doctor, driver, student; lady barrister, doctor; girl Friday, (US) girl scout. The whole question of gender distinctions in occupational and related names is sensitive, verging on explosive. All possible 'solutions' introduce ugliness or leave false expectations in their wake. Ours is an uneasy age linguistically. (p. 292)

Girl Friday? Are these guys living in the '40s?

In the entry on "female," The New (?) Fowler's notes that in the nineteenth century, "female" was considered derogatory (in England, at least) because it could be used for both animals and people. I think we can dispense with the "woman"-on-pedestal Victorianism in 2007, don't you?

Look up "male" -- not a whiff of the previous objection will you find, despite the statement that "male/masculine" "...entered the language from OF (ult. from L masculus) in the 14c. and gradually adopted different roles more or less parallel to those of FEMALE and FEMININE." (p. 477)

So, despite Fowler's inheritor, R. W. Burchfield's insistence -- he updated Fowler's in the mid-1990s, by the way -- there is an obvious term that isn't "ugly": "female." Nor do I forsee any "false expectations" left by that utterly clear and venerable term whose gender pair, "male," has been used in exactly the manner I encourage for "female" for ages without objection, accusations of animal-like "ugliness," or any tragic misunderstanding due to "false expectations."

"Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy: Buy One, Get One Free," Arundhati Roy

Foreign Policy In Focus | Chomsky Takes on the World (Bank)

On Wolfowitz, et al.

African Oil: Why We're Fighting There, Too

We import more oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia currently, and it's on the rise. Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier to the US.

Thus, the wars. Simplistic? You judge. Every war in history was fought, ultimately, over resources. I know we're exceptional and touched by God and righteous, but would it be churlish to point out that all sides in all wars say exactly the same thing? Some "exceptionalism."

16 May 2007

Gore Vidal on Cuba, China, and the US

Angry Wolfowitz in four-letter tirade | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Paul Wolfowitz should, and I think will, be thrown out of the World Bank.

Note carefully what Cheney said in "support" of Wolfowitz:

Paul is one of the most able public servants I've ever known .... I think he's a very good president of the World Bank, and I hope he will be able to continue.
That's pol-speak for, "You're on your own, fuckwad." (Here's my four-letter tirade.) When push comes to shove, the US can't afford to keep him on if the entire organization wants him out without completely alienating Europe. What's the point?

Ya see, the deal is that there are plenty of willing neoliberals (and/or neocons) who aren't stupid enough to steal small for their girlfriends when their job is to steal large for the West. No point in risking the whole take -- not even for a stand-up guy like Wolfowitz.

That's how the mob works. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving piece of shit.

The Financial Times on the Wolfowitz Affair

2008: On It's Way To Being Stolen: Greg Palast, RFK, Jr., and Randi Rhodes, NYC, 5/1/07

The film referred to in the lecture. On NOLA one year after Katrina, which got Palast under investigation for filming "critical infrastructure" that could be attacked by terrorists...and everyone on the planet can find on Google Maps.

Here are the three PIPA surveys referred to by RFK, Jr: One, Two, Three. Makes for interesting reading; Chomsky and many others have cited this material constantly as evidence of two things:
  1. What the public want and what the elite want are very different, right down the line, on most issues.
  2. The American public is woefully mis- and uninformed. Recipe for fascism deluxe.

15 May 2007

The Bridge: Feature Film on Scientology

This is periodically stripped from GooTube and reloaded. For that reason alone, aside from the exposure of yet another wacko "religion" in this cultish society of ours -- I post it. If the above stops working, go here.

Made by an eighteen-year-old, apparently, and with the help of ex-Scientologists.

Penthouse interview with L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. -- the son. Chilling. Recent Rolling Stone investigation.

Kurosawa Documentary: "Beautiful Films"

Part 1

The greatest, most moral army in the world, part n

Click to enlarge and read the text.

Jonathan Miller's Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief and The Atheism Tapes

In case you missed it...and since this (PDF) is as of today the schedule for viewing this on PBS.

I emailed WGBH Boston for information on when this will air in the Athens of America. The reply, which should have been in Newspeak. I like the last few words the best:

Dear Viewer,

Thank you for your interest in WGBH. We always appreciate hearing from our viewers, listeners, and Web site visitors.

Thank you for writing to us regarding A BRIEF HISTORY OF DISBELIEF, a series that's being made available to public television stations to broadcast at their convenience and discretion. We're aware of the series and most likely will air it on one of our program services at some point, but we haven't yet determined when. Given that our schedule is prepared several months in advance, it probably won't air for some time, but the fact that it is not on our schedule in the near term is not an indication that it won't air at all.

In the meantime, though, we will record your comments and relay them to the broadcast department for their review.

We hope you continue to enjoy the programs on WGBH: produced in Boston, shared with the nation.

Take your favorite programming along for the ride all year round!

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Goodbye Houston: An Alternative Annual Report on Halliburton

You can download the whole report on the page linked above.

What this misses is that Halliburton, et al, and the US government don't want Iraqi oil to flow! See Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse.

Author on Democracy Now!

Noam Chomsky: Young Democratic Socialists Conference Q&A

February 2007. Far-ranging discussion...see the labels below.

Noam Chomsky: "South America Rising"

And other remarks...click above. From good ol' WBAI 99.5 FM in good ol' NYC. The Chomster starts at 16:13 for the first part ("7 a.m. hour") and at 15:17 for the second part ("8 a.m. hour").

14 May 2007

"The Indian Miracle," Dispatches Documentary

I guess Tom Friedman missed this part.

13 May 2007

Another America, German Documentary on 9/11

Iraq: It's Not Just "The Jews"

With excellent commentary on the "opposition" party's craven and cynical pose on the war, 2002-present (some excepted, but virtually none in the "leadership"). Vietnam all over again. See Pilger below on the RFK and the Kennedy Myth (now being reanimated by Gordon Brown).

The only thing that enrages me more than neocons are supposedly opposition Democrats (Kerry, Clinton, et al), and those that slavishly swallow their propaganda.

And I'm sick and tired of the obvious rightwing "pro-"Israeli neocons (or whatever) constituency for the Iraq (and now Iran) war from being fully outed without shrieks of "anti-Semite"!

However, this article, despite many good points, overplays its hand. Like most searches for One Big Cause, this one also must edit out huge pieces of evidence. For example, this article avoids the obvious role of oil interests of all kinds in the war, annoyingly lists only Jewish members of the administration, and even insinuates that Cheney and Rumsfeld had no clue what the goals were.

I think that last point shows up this analysis: you gotta be close to blind (from what cause, who knows?) to think that two of the most powerful, long-standing, and savvy political insiders in the past 40 years in DC didn't "get it." They hired all these yahoos: Feith, Wolfowitz, et al. They allowed in Kissinger, Perle, et al. They were both involved in the PNAC. Yes, Virginia, life is complex, and the answer is usually "both/and" not "either/or." Poor, helpless, non-Jewish Cheney and Rummy being steamrolled by a Jewish cabal? Please. Those poor, mostly non-Jewish, oh-so-weak oil companies and interests in Texas just got stabbed in the back? Give me a fucking break!

The real question is how did the convergence of interests -- "pro"-Israel, oil-resource-controlling, post-Cold-War hegemony, and others -- arise, congeal, and triumph over any opposition, principled or not?

Simply listing Jewish last names doesn't cut it, and, frankly, does open the lister up to potentially accurate accusations of anti-Semitism. And thus gives cover to AIPAC types. Irony of ironies.

The other war. (No, I mean, the other other war.)

Duck and Cover Redux: "Contingencies for nuclear terrorist attack"

See below for the original.