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Showing posts from November 30, 2008

Change You Can Really Believe In: Attend Obama House Parties on 12/13-14

A phenomenal idea of Medea Benjamin's: sign up at MyBarackObama, find Obama house parties near you, show up and help move the conversation left!

Yes, my first concern is that this will be another -- a safety valve with no grassroots power. (MoveOn rigged an election when the Demz wanted it; why I quit.) But worth going to anyway, especially since Obama reportedly ain't sharing his 10 million person e-mail list, and to see whether people are motivated by hero-worship or policies.

The site is trying to channel energies in predictable ways; no one has to listen to that, of course. I'll be very interested to see how independent the people at my event will be. MoveOn-ers were feisty. Ultimately got the knife in the back on war funding, but were feisty nonetheless.

David Sirota Nails It: The Mystifying Persistence of Dear Leader-ism

Finally, someone pushes this all-important point hard!

Published on ( The Mystifying Persistence of Dear Leader-ismBy David Sirota Created 12/05/2008 - 9:57am Back in October, I wrote a column[1] about how the economic pressure to compete against foreign autocracies was pushing our political system to subjugate democracy in favor of a kind of czarism - one justified by the need for quick action in international financial markets. That was the theory behind the bailout legislation giving Henry Paulson czar-ish power to spend taxpayer money as he sees fit - on a global stage where Saudi princes and Chinese communists can move trillions without so much as a press release, Paulson was arguing that congressional oversight or the incremental appropriations process (ie. the normal safeguards in a democracy) would slow decisions down too much in a fast-moving situation.Mix this czarist impulse with our usual religion of presidentialism[2] and a newfound zeal…

What I See in Obama's Eyes When He Waxes Lincolnian

Reading this piece (of what, I leave up to you) in the Guardianled me to the following 2005 article by Obama, which I have annotated. Obama's been milking Lincoln's persona for a decade now; I fear he might actually see himself as Lincoln. More's the pity for the rest of us. (I'm guessing the photo to the right is the one Obama's writing about.)
What I See in Lincoln's EyesMonday, June 27, 2005TIME MAGAZINE
By Barack Obama He never won Illinois' Senate seat. But in many ways, he paved the way for me.My favorite portrait of Lincoln comes from the end of his life. In it, Lincoln's face is as finely lined as a pressed flower. He appears frail, almost broken; his eyes, averted from the camera's lens, seem to contain a heartbreaking melancholy, as if he sees before him what the nation had so recently endured.It would be a sorrowful picture except for the fact that Lincoln's mouth is turned ever so slightly into a smile. The smile doesn't negate the…

Crisis and Opportunity, Ralph Nader

In ancient China, the character for “crisis” was associated with “opportunity.” This month Congress will be faced with both challenges from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, whose CEOS are begging for a very rapid $34 billion in emergency government loans.

The three auto giants have few cards to play other than the domino effect on the economy, should they collapse into bankruptcy and liquidation. Once Congress signals that, on behalf of its sullen taxpayers, going into this abyss will not happen, our national legislature will hold all the cards.

So if Congress and George W. Bush agree to have Uncle Sam bail out the auto bosses and their tanking companies, important reforms and models can emerge from this multi-faceted mega rescue.

Let it be called the coming of a vigorous government capitalism, based on rigorous conventional reciprocity. First, since the government is contributing tax dollars, taxpayers should receive taxpayer warrants and preferred shares held by the Treasury Departme…

Robert Gates, as Bad as Rumsfeld? By Ray McGovern

"As Bad As Rumsfeld?" The title jars, doesn't it? The more so, since Defense Secretary Robert Gates found his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, such an easy act to follow.But the jarring part reflects how malnourished most of us are on the thin gruel served up by the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).

Over the past few months, Defense Secretary Gates has generated accolades from FCM pundits — like the Washington Post's David Ignatius — that read like letters of recommendation to graduate school.This comes as no surprise to those of us – including his former colleagues at the CIA’s analytical division – familiar with Gates's dexterity in orchestrating his own advancement. What DOES come as a surprise is the recurring rumor that President-elect Obama may decide to put new wine in old wineskins by letting Gates stay.What can Barack Obama be thinking?

I suspect that those in Obama's circle who are promoting Gates may be the same advisers responsible for Obama's most n…

An Interrogator Speaks: I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq, Matthew Alexander (pseudonym)

Dershowitz -- and a host of other ignorant, sadistic, or dishonest self-appointed "experts" -- should read this.
I should have felt triumphant when I returned from Iraq in August 2006. Instead, I was worried and exhausted. My team of interrogators had successfully hunted down one of the most notorious mass murderers of our generation, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the mastermind of the campaign of suicide bombings that had helped plunge Iraq into civil war. But instead of celebrating our success, my mind was consumed with the unfinished business of our mission: fixing the deeply flawed, ineffective and un-American way the U.S. military conducts interrogations in Iraq. I'm still alarmed about that today.I'm not some ivory-tower type; I served for 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, began my career as a Special Operations pilot flying helicopters, saw combat in Bosnia and Kosovo, became an Air Force counterintelligence agent, then volunteered to g…

Kafka has a rival. The Foreign Office lectures us on human rights, John Pilger

In an article for the Guardian, John Pilger describes the black irony of an "open day to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" at the Foreign Office, guardian of rapacious British power and policies that invert the meaning of human rights.

Today (December 1), a surreal event will take place in the centre of London. The Foreign Office is holding an open day “to highlight the importance of Human Rights in our work as part of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. There will be various “stalls” and “panel discussions” and Foreign Secretary David Miliband will present a human rights prize. Is this a spoof? No. The Foreign Office wants to raise our “human rights awareness”. Kafka and Heller have many counterfeits.

There will be no stall for the Chagos islanders, the 2,000 British citizens expelled from their Indian Ocean homeland, whom Miliband’s government has fought to prevent from returning to what is now a US m…

Mesoamerican Documentaries

The Dawn of the Maya (National Geographic)

The Lost Gods - The Maya (History Channel)

Mystery of the Maya (IMAX)

Engineering an Empire - The Maya (History Channel)

Natural World - Secrets of the Maya Underworld (BBC)

Nova - Cracking the Maya Code

Ancient Apocalypse: The Maya Collapse (BBC)

Places of Mystery - Chichen Itza's Sacred Ceremonies

Secrets of the ancients - Olmec Heads (BBC)

Ancient Voices: Aztecs: Inside the Hidden Empire (BBC)

Ancient Warriors - The Aztecs (Discovery Channel)

In Search of History - The Aztec Empire (History Channel)

Unsolved History - Aztec Temple of Blood

Blood and Flowers - In Search of the Aztecs (BBC)

Conquistadors - The fall of the Aztecs (PBS)

Heroes and Villains - Hernan Cortes (BBC)