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9 years Ago

Bizarro World

Published by marco on

Two recent events have elicited reactions from participants

Pat Buchanan on the Flotilla Attack

The recent Israeli attack on the the Hamas military resupply flotilla (as it must surely be called in U.S. media) forced Patrick Buchanan (Wikipedia)—perhaps most famous for having such stridently and racist nationalistic views that the fact that so many Florida Jews voted for him was cited as proof that something was rotten in Florida in the 2000 presidential election—to write the article, Lift the Siege... [More] (Antiwar.com)

When is it OK to kill someone?

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Unfortunately, this isn’t the easiest question to answer. There are those out there who would naively declare that it’s never OK to kill someone are just showing the gross inexperience in thinking in an ethically constructive way. These people are also most likely anti-Semites. The article, This Says It All by Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com), gets us started.

“Vice President Joe “Loose Cannon” Biden, […] when asked about the attack on the flotilla, said: “So what’s the big deal here?” […] At the time he said it, the odds... [More]”

Why Iran?

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Why Iran? Why, why, why are we hammering on Iran again? Which countries have they attacked? Which countries have they threatened? And don’t say Israel, because that little tidbit is a mistranslation bordering on a lie. The NIE has, for the second time in a decade, come out and conclusively said that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. This despite the fact that doing this is pretty much career suicide for all involved in the report. Iran just sealed a deal to deposit about half of its already... [More]

Cruel & Unusual

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The article, My Brother Faces a Lifetime of Solitary Confinement on a Spurious Terror Conviction by Mariam Abu-Ali (AlterNet), tells of a young student’s life in an American super-max prison in Colorado. He spent two years in a Saudi Prison, a stay during which a confession was extracted using torture. His stay in the U.S. is hardly better, where he’s

“[…] under 23-hour lockdown, in a 7x12 cell. He has one recreational hour in which he must get strip-searched if he wishes to leave his cell. He gets one unscheduled... [More]”

Your Papers, Please

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I got this question recently in a mail:

“From my quick understanding I don’t see why it’s a big deal to ask the immigration status of someone that has potentially broken the law?”

The main reason that it would be a big deal[1] is that it violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. (Wikipedia)

Here’s the text of amendment:

“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... [More]”

War on Terror Rides Again

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 Howling at the Muslim MoonJust one day after writing the article, Terror Kabuki, the cartoon to the right show up, almost as if on cue. The question mark is the coward’s shield, protecting the cartoonist from actually putting the statement in print that he doesn’t think the Times Square bomber was acting alone. That, in fact, he sees it as just another skirmish in the battle against Islam itself—as evidenced by the crescent moon and star.

That’s quite a stretch, though, isn’t it? The guy they arrested is the bomber?... [More]

Not Obama’s Joke to Make

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Obama did his second White House Correspondents’ Dinner, as covered in the article, Did You Hear the Joke About the Predator Drone That Bombed? by Medea Benjamin and Nancy Moncias (AlterNet) One joke apparently stood out as out of line—as out-of-line as Bush’s jokes about not being able to find WMDs.

“‘Jonas Brothers are here, they’re out there somewhere,‘ President Obama quipped as he looked out at the packed room. Then he furrowed his brow, pretending to send a stern message to the pop band. ‘Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys,... [More]”

Terror Kabuki

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The American media machine is truly something to behold. On Saturday, there was a “bomb” in Times Square—bomb in quotes because the incident actually involved potentially combustible materials put together so ineptly that only smoke was (or could have ever been) produced. All qualified observers (including NYC police commissioners and mayor Bloomberg) deemed the would/be bomber laughably incompetent. Though his intent was undoubtedly malicious, his skills were so thoroughly lacking as to... [More]

On Jesse Ventura

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Jesse Ventura is a former pro wrestler and action movie star—he famously starred in Predator with Schwarzenegger. He claims to have been in the Navy Seals—though it turns out he was in the predecessor to the Seals and never actually saw combat in ‘Nam, though he trained for it. He was elected governor of Minnesota as an independent and went on to write a book about conspiracies to accompany a TV show about conspiracies. He’s a self-professed 9–11 truther.

He sounds like a joke, really. A... [More]

Death from Above

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A little while ago, WikiLeaks released a video showing a U.S. helicopter in Iraq on patrol in 2007. During its patrol, it engaged and killed several Iraqis. Despite several Freedom of Information requests, the Pentagon refused to release the video because two of the slain turned out to have been reporters for Reuter’s. The full, unencrypted video was finally leaked by Pentagon personnel and posted on the Internet. There is a 38–minute version and a 17–minute version. The shorter version is... [More]

Two Wars Are Not Enough

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There are some for whom the dream of going to war with Iran has not died. As succinctly detailed in the article What War with Iran Means by Patrick Buchanan (Antiwar.com), these criminally insane members of the Senate have expressed themselves in no uncertain terms:

“Diplomacy has failed. Iran is on the verge of becoming nuclear and we cannot afford that.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“We have to contemplate the final option. The use of force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.
“[War is a ] terrible thing, [but] sometimes it is better to go to... [More]”
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.

Berubé likes Krugman better than Chomsky

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From the article Torture: Business as Usual? by Michael Berubé (Dissent Magazine):

“[I]t’s crucial to know when you’re dealing with a radical break and crucial not to normalize it by saying, in effect, move on, move on, nothing new to see here.”

But Chomsky doesn’t really say “move on, move on, nothing new to see here”, does he?. To me, Chomsky’s leftism always seemed to emphasize the importance of tackling what is in fact not an ephemeral or generational problem. It may be a hopeless endeavor because no one is listening, but it’s... [More]

The Congress and The Senate: Legislating by Accident

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The health care bill has passed the Congress and most of the world is assuming that it will pass through the Senate as well. The reconciled bill is much closer to the original House bill than to the Senate bill, so that assumption seems a bit premature. Though the Senate’s 41 Republicans will definitely vote against it, the Democrats have to hope that the changes don’t cause enough defections by so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats. Perhaps none of them are willing to risk the political damage at... [More]

Obama’s First State of the Union Address

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In years past, it’s always been more interesting to read the Transcript of the State of the Union Address (NY Times) (in this instance, Obama’s first, in 2010) than to listen to it. It is in the reading that one gets a good sense of what the president thinks he can get away with. Remember Bush spending minutes talking about the steroid problem in high school sports as two wars he started raged? Remember his talk of a Mars shot when he needed to distract attention from some debacle? Well, now it’s Obama’s... [More]

The Dreaded Left Wing

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Power politics has always been about fear. Prop up a boogeyman, get people good and scared and riled up about it, accuse your opponents of being the boogeyman, get the media on your side, then watch the fireworks.

And never—ever—let up.

Note that the last clause in the last sentence in the first paragraph was not “then sit back and watch the fireworks”, as one more colloquially hears. Sitting back is for those who no longer want to be in power. Those in power must be relentless in finding... [More]

Four Decades Plus One

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 Port-au-Prince January 17, 2010In the just over four decades since Martin Luther King was murdered, it seems as if, were he to be resurrected, he would—after a brief acclimatization to the technological changes that had occurred—simply be able to pick up right where he’d left off. Because very little has changed. The illegal surveillance under which the FBI kept him throughout his career now extends to all Americans—and has been made legal. It is unlikely that he would draw comfort from the notion that, though America... [More]

Our Gift to the World

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In a very well-written piece, The Quiet American (Antiwar.com), by the always thoughtful Israeli journalist, Uri Avnery, the “War on Terror” is taken to task as an expression as well as a concept. Though the Obama administration has officially consigned the phrase to the dustbin, the policy it represents is nearly unchanged from the Bush era. The concept as a shining light leading America through the inky blackness of an ever more dangerous world lives on with a vengeance.

At the press circus after the... [More]

Rudy: Always Good for a Laugh

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Rudy Giuliani is a mean, small, racially-motivated and purely political animal and always has been. Viz:

“We had no domestic attacks under Bush.”

Giuliani started the primary race for the Republican presidential nomination with a bang. That he was, for a while, running neck-and-neck with Hillary can be in no small part attributed to his near-constant reference to “9–11”. In fact, he quickly became known not as a “one-issue candidate” but as a “one-phrase candidate”. His orations were nothing... [More]

Documentaries about the United States

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Documentary buffs, rejoice! There are a lot of very good documentaries coming out of the not-quite-yet-a-police-state of America. The following are all worth a look (or a listen is enough in most cases) if you’re interested in what America’s really doing, where it’s headed and how the hell we got here. As they say, “no matter how far down the wrong road you’ve traveled, turn around (it ain’t gonna get any better until you do).”

The following order is by release date, not by preference or rating.... [More]

Invasion of Privacy Overseas

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And, from the department of “it’s not just the U.S. doing it” comes this article, Police routinely arresting people to get DNA, inquiry claims by Alan Travis (Guardian), which the recently released results of an inquiry into the national DNA database maintained by the various police forces of the U.K.

Similar to U.S. policy when it comes to deciding on whom to keep an eye, the U.K. is strongly racially biased, with the report “raise[ing] the possibility that the DNA profiles of three-quarters of young black males, aged... [More]”

Cap & Trade Explained (Video)

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“Cap & Trade” is ostensibly a policy for controlling climate-change. Like many other bright ideas, while it is technically feasible on paper, it is unlikely to satisfy any of its purported ecological goals when actually used. Like communism or capitalism, it’s a system that only works if human beings don’t get involved. It won’t even get out the door before it’s corrupted to serve power and generate wealth for the already wealthy instead of actually controlling carbon output.

This may not be... [More]

Wall Street Smiles

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Cultures that haggle[1] have a rule-of-thumb when making deals that is approximately: “If the customer/shopkeeper is smiling, you got screwed.” On the other hand, if you’re walking away with purchases under your arm and you can just hear the sound of someone cursing you and your ancestors over the sound of your whistling, then you got a good deal.

The title says it all: Healthcare industry stocks explode as bill progresses by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com).

Wall Street has been doing a frenetic jig, rubbing itself to new heights... [More]

Why Would Iran Want Nukes?

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It’s actually not complicated at all, if you’re willing to open your mind to logic just a little bit and suspend your belief that Iran is a double-boiler of barely suppressed rage and killing mayhem. The post, Iran Isn’t The Problem, Stupid by Evert Cilliers (3QuarksDaily) sums it up in three sentences:

“Why might Iran want the bomb? Well, some damn foreigner invaded Afghanistan and Iraq on either side of Iran, killing and maiming people for nine years now. You’d have to be Amish not to look into a deterrent.”

When you put it... [More]

In Short

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Seventeen years ago, the nations of the world got together in Kyoto and agreed to a scheme that would bring climate change under control. After a round or ten of glad-handing and slapping one another on the back, they spent the intervening years ignoring all of the targets that they’d set, with some nations even backing out of the treaty entirely (I’m looking at you, GWB). The first world careened onward, pursuing “bigger, better, faster, more” without regard for the effects on the third world... [More]

Health Care, American-style

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 So, after at least half a year of intense debate, political haggling and a spirited back-and-forth, we have the following ground-breaking legislation to transform the American health care system. In short, our legislators have determined that what we need is almost exactly that which we already have, but that we would like to pay much, much more for it.

Positives

  1. It will cover more people.
  2. It will be illegal to deny coverage for preëxisting conditions.

Negatives

  1. It won’t be single-payer.... [More]

Pulling an Orwell in Norway

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The place: Norway; the occasion: the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from the Master of Rhetoric.

Shorter Obama:

“Until America gets everything it could possibly want—which includes unlimited resources and a continuation unchanged of the lifestyle to which our richest have become accustomed—there’s gonna be war. Until America doesn’t experience pants-shitting terror every time another nation achieves even 1% of our glory, there’s gonna be war. Anyway, thanks for the award and thanks... [More]”

Empirical Lava Lamp

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This three-minute visualization of the relative sizes of four empires—France, Portugal, Spain and England—from the early 1800s to the present is mesmerizing. Once you’ve seen it, you want to see Holland, Russia and the U.S. as well. Definitely watch until 1960 so you can see the wonderful explosion of the French empire!

Visualizing Empire's Decline (YouTube)
 

Screw You, Peg-leg

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In matters military, the Obama administration has followed closely in the footsteps of the Bush administration. The Bush administration, in turn, only really innovated in brazenness and speed of execution, but also pretty much hewed to the military policy of the 50 years before it. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Obama administration decided not to sign the most recent ban on land mines. Perhaps Carter would have signed it, but he’s proven to be a much stronger former president than he... [More]

Your Fifteen Minutes are up

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The following citation from That Couple by Tom Schaller (538) applies to so much in popular American culture today.

“No, you’re not famous; you’re infamous. You’re situated squarely at the bottom of an already too-deep and increasingly murky barrel of celebrity culture, celebrity journalism, and (un)reality TV, the depths of which are probably making even Andy Warhol cringe in his grave. I want this to be your fifteenth minute. I want your egg timer to ding now, so you can exit our national discourse as swiftly,... [More]”

American Health Care

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Christ almighty, does America suck.[1]

We’re so politically moribund it’s hard to see how anything significant will change without a revolution.

Consider the following citation from the column, The Defining Moment by Paul Krugman (New York Times):

“For this is the moment of truth. The political environment is as favorable for reform as it’s likely to get. The legislation on the table isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as anyone could reasonably have expected. History is about to be made — and everyone has to decide which side... [More]”