565 Articles


5 months Ago

What Makes a Good Lawyer?

Published by marco on

From the article The Defense Crack by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice)

“We defend anyone accused of a crime. We do not refuse representation because the defendant is too wealthy, his crime too awful, his skin color too pale or his genitals too stiff. We couldn’t care less that the woke have deemed him too guilty to be worthy. We do not judge. That’s for the jury to do. We defend.

“The notion that criminal defense lawyers should become the advanced guard of morality and justice is one that appeals to those for whom such vagaries... [More]”

6 months Ago

In Which The Press Commits Suicide by Persecuting Julian Assange

Published by marco on

Julian Assange has had his Ecuadoran citizenship revoked and has been forcibly removed from the Ecuadoran embassy where he’d been imprisoned for the last seven years. Had he set foot outside, the British authorities would have swept him up and packed him off to America. It took years of pressure and a regime change in Ecuador, but they finally got permission to go in and get him.

Making You Complicit

Why did they bother to get permission? Why didn’t they just go in and get him whenever they... [More]

Shooting McCoy

Published by marco on

The article Saving Willie McCoy by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) includes a link to a body-cam video of the shooting of Willie McCoy. McCoy was found asleep in the driver’s seat of his car in the drive-thru lane of a Taco Bell. The police could clearly see a gun in his lap.

Willie McCoy OIS 020919 body camera video 2 by Mercury News (YouTube)

The first three minutes are largely uneventful. The officer notes that the magazine is not in the pistol, so the driver has at most one shot.

When he moves, McCoy’s first scratches his left arm with his right hand, as he seems to be waking up. The... [More]

7 months Ago

When’s the Revolution?

Published by marco on

Each new indignity reported from the States leads to this question. When are U.S. Americans going to shake off their parasitic elite? When will they wake up from their Soma coma?

The article On Our Knees by Missy Comley Beattie (CounterPunch) poses the same question as she considers the 2020 candidates.

“Dear God, I shake my head with no, no, no, no, and at the risk of being accused of ageism, I say, “Biden is too old.” So is Sanders, so is Trump, and so is Hillary Clinton—and yes, she has threatened to enter the field if the... [More]

8 months Ago

Skeptical about the stories from Venezuela

Published by marco on

I wrote the above several days ago, but held off on publication to avoid jumping the gun. A few days later, I still agree with my my initial reaction. I’ve added a few footnotes here and there.

When you’re as old as I am, have paid attention long enough and have read enough history, you’re morally required to be skeptical about the stories we hear about Venezuela.

But people are suffering! We have to do something to help them! Their government is killing them—whether through ineptitude or... [More]

Can you put a price on that?

Published by marco on

As noted in SOTU 2019: President Camacho holds forth, one of Trump’s giant applause points was when he said, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” The best parts of America are the socialist bits. Even the worst parts are socialist: members of the military live in a socialist paradise, with every part of their lives—room, board, insurance, etc.—paid for by the government.

The strongest opponents of socialism are the ones who live the most socialist... [More]

SOTU 2019: President Camacho holds forth

Published by marco on

 So, the State of the Union 2019 finally happened. If you just read the transcript, it’s a speech which any other President could have given. Go ahead: read the first few paragraphs of it in Obama’s voice—it will seem perfectly natural. This isn’t a “Trump” speech, it’s an “American president” speech—given by the imperator of the world. The speech and its implications exist independent of the figurehead—it is an expression of the State, of the Empire.

My notes below are taken from the 2019... [More] (C-SPAN)

9 months Ago

Controlling Sanders for 2020

Published by marco on

I’d originally earmarked the article It’s Bernie Bitch! by Amber A’Lee Frost (The Baffler), but discovered that it’s been unpublished by the Baffler. They got cold feet that this level of endorsement was contrary to their charter as a certain type of organization—a type that is prohibited from expressing a political opinion.

Leave aside that it was clearly Lee’s opinion being expressed and not the magazine’s. It looks pretty gutless, on the surface. If you’re interested in the back-and-forth, Here’s the Pro-Bernie Sanders... [More] by Jake Johnson (Common Dreams)

Because of course they do

Published by marco on

I’m not even going to do more than cite the article US Intelligence thinks Russia may have microwaved US embassies in Cuba, China by Sean Gallagher (Ars Technica).

I’m honestly not sure how anyone with an ounce of journalistic self-respect can write an article like this non-ironically.

I wrote in the title, “because of course they do”. I’m referring to the “analysts” who—after nearly a year—have decided that the Russians are to blame.

It is here that we should all become more adept at both thought experiments and... [More]

A Holier-than-thou Bullshit Factory

Published by marco on

Out-of-date and chock-full of devil’s advocacy.

I’ve listened to some coverage of the Kavanaugh hearings on The Intercept. This includes an unusually giddy and convinced Jeremy Scahill and a typically partisan Amy Goodman.

What shines through is this notion that being blackout drunk (i.e. not remembering parts of an evening) is an indication of alcoholism, or having a drinking problem. It’s also the sign of a really good party.

These people all sound like shrill churchgoers who can’t even... [More]

Analyzing a LateStageCapitalism meme

Published by marco on

There was a meme posted to Reddit at How are we supposed to live? that discusses the costs of various features of life now vs. 40 years ago.

The discussion petered out quickly when someone posted a refutation from Meme Policeman. In fairness, it didn’t exactly refute the meme, but questioned its numbers and tried to put them into a better context.

I responded with the following comment,

It’s not just the cost of these things, but also the value obtained for the money.

While offering more... [More]

Leaving Syria

Published by marco on

The article Trump gets it (half) right by John Quiggin (Crooked Timber) is about Trump’s recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. In it, he makes the following point:

“[…] the history of US involvement in the Middle East has been one of consistent failure at least for the last 40 years. […] Reagan in Lebanon, 40 years of failure on Israel-Palestine, failed confrontation on Iran, incoherent attempts to influence oil supplies, and, of course, the second Iraq War including the rise of ISIS).”

Pulling out of Syria... [More]

A discussion about RussiaGate

Published by marco on

Is RussiaGate a giant pile of smoke? Just listen to two defenders of it, James Risen and Jane Bradley[1] in this video CIJ Logan 2018: Collusion or the New McCarthyism? by CIJ (Vimeo).

Risen circumlocutes into a summation that says that the Russians almost certainly didn’t do anything worthwhile, but that they tried real hard to do something, even if that something can’t be proved. He backs off considerably on the main RussiaGate accusations, although he is a stickler for terminology. It’s just that this... [More]

10 months Ago

Why do we need Jobs?

Published by marco on

You’ll very often hear politicians, pundits and pretty much everyone talk about “jobs” as the be-all, end-all of the economy.

But why do we all need jobs? To stay busy?

Jobs are a means whereby the needs of a society are provided by its members. People have certain needs in order to survive—food and shelter being two of them. We’ll get to others later. A society is filled with people, each of whom need food and shelter.

Let’s imagine the beginning: each member fending for itself. There is... [More]

The State of the World

Published by marco on

How not to be ignorant about the world by Hans and Ola Rosling (YouTube)

This video poses a few interesting questions about the state of the world. The two presenters argue that we should be less pessimistic about certain features of global society. For example, extreme poverty and deaths by natural disaster have all gone down significantly. There is almost global parity between men and women on number of years of schooling. These are all good things.

However, they seem to play fast and loose with some statistics. They use the statistics about people in extreme... [More]

Sohaila Abdulali Interview

Published by marco on

I just listened to this interview with Sohaila Abdulali, the author of the book What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape. This is an incredibly lucid, pragmatic, sensitive and occasionally funny interview.

On rape and the conversation about rape by Sohaila Abdulali (This is Hell)

“I never forgot what happened to me. I wouldn’t say I ‘got over’ it, in the same sense I wouldn’t say I ‘got over’ the fact that my father died. Both of those things are awful, but here I am. I figured it out. I feel bad sometimes, and often I don’t.... [More]”

1 year Ago

YouTube content warnings

Published by marco on

At first, YouTube stopped bringing certain subscribed content into newsfeeds – unless you explicitly marked that subscription as “show all content”. Shows like Redacted Tonight weren’t exactly being suppressed, but they weren’t being promoted in the same way that much-more mainstream content was being promoted. However, if people simply browse the next item suggested by Google, slack-jawed and dull-eyed, then it amounts to suppression, in the end.

Now, YouTube/Google is plastering warnings on... [More]

Acknowledging and punishing crime

Published by marco on

Louis C.K. did 15 minutes at a stand-up club last week. The audience seemed to like it. They gave him a standing ovation.

This is not allowed because he copped to sexual-harassment allegations less than a year ago. He is a pariah and has been ostracized for it. That is his punishment. It’s unclear how long this is to last, but one year is definitely not enough.

There was never a ruling and his exile was more-or-less self-imposed, but it’s been made very clear that he should never be allowed... [More]

Go Down Swinging

Published by marco on

This is taken from Chris Hedges, “America: The Farewell Tour” (1h 12m) by Chris Hedges (YouTube), a truly excellent talk Hedges gave at a bookstore in New York.[1]

“We’re talking about revolution, by the way – we’re talking about the overthrow[2] of the corporate state. Because these people are going to kill us, and they’re going to kill my children.

“And, in the end, these corporate forces have us, they have us by the throat – and they have my kids by the throat. And I don’t know if we’re going to win – I don’t even know... [More]”

Greenfield responds to a nation gone mad

Published by marco on

From the article, The Constitution Will Survive, If We Deserve It by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice), which attempts to address the absolutely hyperbolic and absurd hysteria surrounding Kavanaugh’s inevitable nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This isn’t how the law works, how courts work, how the process works. It’s really quite absurd. Worse than absurd, it feeds the craziness and ignorance that makes people hysterical about the future, that there is no hope. The solution to Trump isn’t to rewrite the Constitution, to... [More]”

Empathy for Immigrants

Published by marco on

“How can those people not know how things work here? How can they abandon and/or endanger their children?How can they not know they’re going to get caught?”

Think of your own culture, of the many idioms, historical events and nuances of language that influence your quotidian actions. Think of how much work it is to know implicitly what is possible and what isn’t, what is acceptable, how things are done. Many of our cultural idiosyncrasies blossom from large or small events in the past, spreading... [More]

2 years Ago

Escalating Assange’s Torture

Published by marco on

 If nothing else, Julian Assange’s continued imprisonment lays bare the West’s hypocrisy about rule of law and about human dignity. Whatever you may feel about Assange’s journalism or views or connections, the man has not been charged with a crime but is a de-facto political prisoner in the heart of London. His jailers would almost certainly prefer to drone-bomb him but they certainly seem satisfied with the stalemate that results in him rotting in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

They are... [More]

The Story of Jerusalem

Published by marco on

President Trump did something supposedly unprecedented recently: he acknowledged Jerusalem as the de-facto capital of Israel and vowed to move the U.S. embassy there.

When I heard this, I wondered what the uproar was about, since I was sure it wasn’t the first time I’d heard something like this. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, though. I couldn’t remember whether it was Bush or Obama who’d said something similar, or whether they’d said it during their campaign or as President.

Granted,... [More]

Born on third, thinks he hit a triple

Published by marco on

This HackerNews comment by notacoward (Hacker News) on the article Entrepreneurs Aren’t a Special Breed – They’re Mostly Rich Kids by Nimmala (Asia Times) offers a lovely analogy for what it takes to succeed as an entrepeneur.

“Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts.

“Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.

“Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want... [More]”

My problem with John Oliver in a nutshell

Published by marco on

The article John Oliver, Dustin Hoffman have heated exchange over sexual harassment claims illustrates exactly why we should be very careful of whom we let carry our flag for us. Many people like John Oliver because he generally punches upward and he’s quite funny. His schtick is wearing a little thin, but he’s still pretty funny.

He took some time off of obsessing over every detail of Donald Trump’s life recently to interview Dustin Hoffman about sexual allegations.[1] When Hoffman said that “it... [More]”

Short take: Greenfield on Peterson

Published by marco on

The article The Non-Apology To Lindsay Shepard, Eh? by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) sums up my opinion of Jordan Peterson better (more succinctly, at least) than I could:

“I’ve never been comfortable with Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson. Much as I agree with his position that people can’t make up their own gender pronouns and demand others use them, under force of law, there’s something unseemly about him. Too self-promotional. Too one-note. Too . . . obvious.”

The article itself is about a professor in Canada... [More]

The economic theory of human mobility

Published by marco on

The article Katko, Tenney to Donald Trump: Don’t tell people to leave Upstate NY discusses President Trump’s recent statement about Upstate New York:

“When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave. It’s OK. Don’t worry about your house.”

Trump is only one of many people who think that the answer to an utterly failed... [More]

Our tools versus theirs

Published by marco on

We’re told that democracy is the mechanism whereby we can effect change in our society. While true, it is irrelevant in all but the most trivial of applications.

For example, legislators in the US are legally allowed to take money from lobbyists and corporations. There are some restrictions, but, for the most part, bribery is legal. And it seems to work quite well. How does democracy help us combat this? We can elect other people, people that don’t take bribes. What if none are running for... [More]

3 years Ago

Correspondence on Trump/Obama with a friend

Published by marco on

I received a response to some recent articles from a friend. He reads English fluently, but is much more comfortable writing in Italian, while my strengths are reversed. We agreed long ago to communicate bilingually to maximize expressiveness.

In a recent mail, he referenced two of my articles Once more unto the breach and Avoiding Distraction.

His comments are quoted below—I have translated them from the Italian—followed by my responses.

“You exalt the initiative of Trump versus the... [More]”

Public Service Announcement: Redacted Tonight

Published by marco on

I’ve written several times about Redacted Tonight this year already, but I’m damned if that show doesn’t keep topping itself. The shows from the last two weeks have again been well-worth watching, providing unvarnished international news.

Yesterday’s show was about the complicity of mainstream media in the glorification of U.S. violence around the world. Lee shows examples from CNN, MSNBC and FOX where the reporting on America’s weapons of mass destruction is pornographic. A correspondent... [More]