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Showing posts from August 5, 2007

How the Democrats Blew It in Only 8 Months, Alexander Cockburn

Excellent commentary. I disagree with the anti-impeachment argument, but all else is right on the money. This war will not end without impeachment, especially since the Democrats handed all necessary funds to the Bush administration. Had they simply cut off funding for all but a safe retreat...well, the Bush admin would have forced the constitutional crisis. Essentially, impeachment is where this was all tending from 9/12/01, no matter what anyone would like to think. Impeachment is the tool provided for to combat "Caesarism," in 18th-century terms; "fascism" in (perhaps) 20th-century terms. Pick your label; the reality remains the same. Yes, it should have happened sooner; no, that doesn't mean you stop now. Cockburn's just wrong on this; nothing will stop the Bush admin. What's terrifying is that Cockburn may be correct: the Democrats (at least its leadership) don't want to stop the Bush regime; they merely want to take the reins from them.

Questio…

Anarchists under Fire, Neve Gordon, Guardian

Anarchists. Another typical canary in a political coal mine. When the government starts going after anarchists -- no, they're not all bomb-throwing antisocial maniacs; you must be thinking of the folks at the Pentagon -- look out. You're next.
A battle is being waged in the Israeli courts against anarchists who help Palestinian villagers.

July 30, 2007 9:00 AM | Printable versionOver the past five years the Israeli peace camp has dwindled. Last month marked the occupation's 40th anniversary, and no more than 4,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv to protest against Israel's longstanding military rule. Of the demonstrators who did show up, only a few hundred are what one could call ardent activists - people who have dedicated their life to peace and justice

Among the most committed of these are Israel's anarchists. Yet, over the past two years they have been under attack, and it is becoming more and more difficult for them to continue their struggle.

Established in 2003, th…

It's Petition-Your-Government Time...

Take advantage of this "quaint" tradition while you still can. It's a lot harder to do inside a prison -- or a prison-nation.
Petition Congress to hold Bush administration figures in contempt. (The legal kind; if you're not already holding them in moral contempt, seek help.)Petition Congress to reinstate the Fourth Amendment and repeal the wireless surveillance powers they cravenly handed to the Bush administration -- and to every other administration, if the sun does not truly set on this imperial diktat.Below are some wise words, often truncated to the point of meaninglessness, from Thomas Jefferson from a letter to William S. Smith, sent from Paris, November 13, 1787 (reproduced in full on pages 910-912 in the Library of America volume of Jefferson's writings).

The subject, as you'll see, is the effect of Shays' rebellion in Western Massachusetts on the composition of the new Constitution. (For comparison with Jefferson's viewpoint: here's a soci…

Nabokov on Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"

Nabokov played by Christopher Plummer; text from the famous lectures given at Cornell. Only the first two parts for now...will post more if and when they show up.

By the way, Nabokov knew his insects, so I think we should defer to his entomological knowledge.

Part 1

Part 2

This Spanish Earth, 1937

About the anti-fascist resistance during the Spanish Civil War. Narration first done by Orson Welles, but overdubbed by Ernest Hemingway; music by Virgil Thompson; written by a whole mess of people:Prudencio de Pereda
Spanish adaptation (uncredited)John Dos Passos
English narration (part one)Lillian Hellman
story (uncredited)Ernest Hemingway
English narration (part two)Joris Ivens
uncreditedArchibald Macleish
story (uncredited)More from IMDB:
The production company, Contemporary Historians, was formed by a group of American writers and intellectuals, including Ernest Hemingway, Lillian Hellman, Archibald Macleish, John Dos Passos and Dorothy Parker.

Twenty-year-oldOrson Welles recorded the commentary written by Ernest Hemingway and receives onscreen credit, but Hemingway decided to use his own voice instead.You know, a bunch of third-raters.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

An oldie but a goodie. Just re-reading it now, twenty years after my college ethics class. Some very good stuff in here; much needed in contemporary America, I'd say. Much more to him than just "he's one of those Utilitarian guys."

Vanity Fair (right) considered him "The Feminine Philosopher," and Punch (left) took its punches at him as well, because of Mill's feminist commitments. See The Subjection of Women for more, and check out On Representative Government for all those "quaint" notions we're currently trashing at warp speed.

Yes, he had his weak points, for sure: his defense of the Indian "Mutiny"(PDF) is a low point, as even such an admirer as Noam Chomsky has pointed out. And some of the themes developed in that article derive from On Liberty.

Oh, well. Mill would want you to think for yourself, anyway. That's the sign of a worthwhile thinker, in my book.

While we're speaking of books, a friend directed my attention t…

B'Tselem Calls Israeli Actions in the West Bank "Collective Punishment"

That's kind of illegal, you know. Also, this is an Israeli human-rights organization, so I guess they must be self-hating? I get confused on which boo-word works for which group.

Oh, this report covers the past seven years. Here's the "Executive Summary" with more detail. I hope the full report will be available here soon; it should be:

Ground to a HaltDenial of Palestinians' Freedom of Movement in the West BankExecutive SummarySince the beginning of the second intifada, in September 2000, Israel has imposed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank that are unprecedented in scope and duration. As a result, Palestinian freedom of movement, which was limited in any event, has turned from a fundamental human right to a privilege that Israel grants or withholds as it deems fit.In the seven years that have passed since the outbreak of the second intifada, B'Tselem has published no less than fourteen reports on various aspects of Israel's po…

The Fourth Amendment, 1791-2007

Remember this quaint little civil right? The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.Well, it's dead. Yeah, yeah, the new FISA law (sic) sunsets in six months. But any investigations underway will last up to the end of 2008, as recently reported. I see very little chance of this not being made permanent, given the Democrats spinelessness and the upcoming election. Guess those who voted for it didn't read that part. Or maybe they did. Power corrupts, and the opposition in Washington is to the American people, not between Democrats and Republicans. I'm so proud of those courageous Democrats, aren't you?

The ACLU on this here. Rick Perlstein's comments here.
Further, the government can …

The Times Magazine Does Immigration

With predictable results. A friend had sent this article to me, calling it fascinating. She's fairly lefty, so I assume her fascination was closer to mine than to something else...but that explains the first line of my response to her, which I've hijacked for the blog. Read the article first (click the title of this post above); the response won't make sense unless you do so. Whether it makes sense after you read it...well...

Fascinating like a train wreck, I suppose. The racism is palpable; the reasons for the immigration go unacknowledged (in short: NAFTA); and the general program of using one part of the non-wealthy to attack another is exactly how every empire has ruled over its people: divide and rule.

The ideological limits of the New York Times Magazine are not breached (how could they be?): not a word about capital-based globalization, as opposed to globalized workers' rights, human rights, and environmental standards as well as capital. That might upset flat-wor…

Gore Vidal Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt, 5/9/07

A Lannan Foundation production...check out their amazing archive of interviews.