615 Articles


6 years Ago

Michael Brown and Ferguson

Published by marco on

I haven’t really weighed in on this topic because I’m still digesting it. There are so many interlocking parts and so many reasons for why things are not right that an off-the-cuff article just doesn’t do the topic justice. A lot of what you read gives the impression that the fact that people are rioting in one town in the Midwest is a good excuse for trotting out more unsavory opinions in the guise of chastening those thugs and hoodlums who can’t abide by the rule of law.

If you assumed that... [More]

7 years Ago

Workfare instead of welfare

Published by marco on

I received the post Maine Just Changed Their Food-Stamp Policy… Every State Should Do This (Conservative Tribune) from a friend.

The friend wondered whether the following was a good idea. They thought it might be, but asked if I could confirm.

“[…] adults 18 to 50 years old with no children and who are able to work must do so or volunteer for 20 hours each week. Otherwise, their benefits will be limited to three months over a three-year period”

This is one of those superficially seductive ideas that keeps coming... [More]

The Obama Question

Published by marco on

“What do you think of Obama?[1]

He is Barack Hussein Obama,

44th—and first black—President of the United States of America.

Nobel Peace-prize winner.

So-called leader of the free world.[2]


The Drone Ranger.

Mr. Guántanamo.

Mr. extraordinary rendition.

Mr. N.S.A.

The whistle-blower hunter.[3]

Defender of the 0.1%.

The question above is posed in different ways, in different tones. It depends on the person posing it. If the person hates Obama—for any of a variety of reasons,... [More]

John Oliver on the power of state legislators

Published by marco on

Congress may be at an ineffective standstill and the next two years are a legislative wasteland stretching before America and the world. The state legislatures, though, aren’t sitting still. Instead, they’re filled with the crème de la crème that America has to offer: from mildly racist to super-racist, from batshit crazy to crazier than a shithouse rat.

After introducing many of the lunatic creatures that will have an inordinate effect on ordinary citizens’ lives, Oliver notes that they are... [More]

Ukraine Update

Published by marco on

The article The IMF’s New Cold War Loan to Ukraine by Michael Hudson (CounterPunch) provides some interesting insight into the IMF’s machinations on behalf of its masters in Europe and the U.S.

“[…] the IMF signed off on the first loan ever to a side engaged in a civil war, not to mention rife with insider capital flight and a collapsing balance of payments.”

The IMF has hard and fast rules for loaning money and is famous the world over for being an exceedingly unforgiving creditor…unless the creditor is the European... [More]

Criminal Justice in the U.S.

Published by marco on

The article Theater of Justice by Molly Crabapple (VICE) is an article by an artist who also occasionally does courtroom sketches.

She tells of Cecily McMillan, who was beaten into a seizure by police offers and who two years later stands trial for assaulting a police officer, facing seven years in prison. The officer’s record of having beaten other suspects was deemed inadmissable.

Or there is the other recent case of a black woman who tried to stand her ground, as others have successfully done. She fired a warning... [More]

Russophobia: the Lunatics are at the Helm

Published by marco on

I am so tired of hearing of scintillatingly smart people who can’t seem to ever say anything that is even tangentially well-informed. We knew that the Bush administration was a booby-hatch full of cantankerous old farts who hadn’t been right about anything or even had an original thought since before it became illegal to beat your wife and black people, not necessarily in that order. That doesn’t excuse them in any way at all, but they didn’t even really have a veneer of intelligentsia to them.... [More]

Truthiness in Ukraine

Published by marco on

As you can well imagine, this is an exhaustive topic. Trying to get a handle on it is like drinking from a firehose. My style of research involved a lot of reading, evaluation and collection of interesting tidbits, some of which are contradictory to previous bits. Interesting for me does not mean “believable” or “true” but that it was well-written, intriguing or contributed to my knowledge. This piece will start with an attempt at an overview with some interwoven notes, followed by a lot of... [More]

Police stories from the trenches

Published by marco on

The first rule of policing

The post Dallas Cops Fight For the First Rule of Policing by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) defines that rule as “make it home for dinner”. No matter what else is going on that day or how a given situation develops, the first rule is self-preservation. Everything else—including gunned-down innocents—can be handled later and usually papered over with the help of others, both on the force and on the bench.

This post discusses a shooting incident in Dallas, in which a 48-year–old officer was,... [More]

The constitutional professor

Published by marco on

Cartoonist Ted Rall published the following cartoon at the end of 2013:

 On Sec. 107(a) of the NDAA

The first couple of panels document the most recent transgressions that the Obama administration has made under the auspices of the NDAA—the National Defense Authorization Act. These include sweeping away constitutionally guaranteed rights in a manner breathtaking even for citizens who survived eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration.

The final panel shows a soldier wondering how this can be, while another... [More]

Maybe it’s as bad as they say?

Published by marco on

Purely out of morbid curiosity, I visited to see what’s going on over there. I’d heard so much.

Here are some comments additional to those embedded in the screenshot:

 Home page is decent, if a little careless

  • It did not reject me because I’m browsing from a foreign country. +1
  • It redirected me from to Canonical name is the short one. +1
  • It loaded quickly. +1
  • It’s pretty light on graphics. +1
  • There are way too many fonts and font sizes. –1
  • Stop using small-caps for anything other... [More]

TED talks about city design and capitalism

Published by marco on

Why buses represent democracy in action by Enrique Peñalosa (TED)
The title is a way of saying that building bus lines before four-lane highways for cars is inherently more democratic because more people use the buses. It has less to do with democracy and more to do with social fairness and providing for the basic rights to which civilized peoples are entitles. We are talking about a form of socialism here. Instead of letting the elites bend the will of the market with their gravitational wells of overwhelming buying... [More]

Free Speech != Right to Airtime

Published by marco on

So there is, apparently, a redneck actor on a fake-reality show called “Duck Dynasty” who turns out to be, in real life, an anti-gay bigot with completely humdrum and bigoted ideas of everyone’s place in society.

I’ll let you gather your wits as you recover from your shock.

Also unsurprisingly, he thinks that white guys with beards, guns and inappropriate sunglasses sit at the top of the heap.

A&E, which broadcasts this paragon to culture, pulled on his leash and suspended him for a little... [More]

8 years Ago

There is no such thing as objective journalism

Published by marco on

Whether there is such a thing as truly objective journalism—reporting without any explicit or implicit bias—is the subject of the article Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News? (New York Times). It’s a conversation between Bill Keller—editor of the New York Times—and Glenn Greenwald—currently of the Guardian and, most recently, the driving force behind reporting on NSA spying and distributing Edward Snowden’s revelations.

Greenwald argues quite convincingly that there is only journalism and... [More]

Why do you hate democracy so much?

Published by marco on

Russell Brand has been in the media of late, the first time because of an acceptance speech at an awards ceremony sponsored by Hugo Boss, during which he reminded everyone from whom their sponsor had gotten his inauspicious start (the S.S. in the 1930s).

In response to that hullabaloo, he responded with the relatively well-written essay Russell Brand and the GQ awards: ‘It’s amazing how absurd it seems’ (Guardian), in which he wrote,

“I could see the room dividing as I spoke. I could hear the laughter... [More]”

Over-the-top crime enforcement

Published by marco on

The article Girl buys water, spends night in jail by Dylan Stableford (Yahoo! News) describes an utterly lunatic crime-stopping scene:

“[…] the student, [20-year–old] Elizabeth Daly, was walking to her car on April 11 at approximately 10:15 p.m. with a box of sparkling water […] when the agents—six men and one woman, all in plainclothes—approached suspecting the box […] to be a 12-pack of beer. One jumped on the hood of her SUV; another pulled out a gun […]”

Seven agents. Tailing and taking down a college student for... [More]

Post-racial America

Published by marco on

From the article Rand Paul’s Confederacy Scandal Is Not an Anomaly – Libertarianism Is a ‘Philosophy’ That Papers Over Deep Racism in America by Thom Hartmann (AlterNet),

“So now comes a political philosophy—libertarianism—that says everything is fine, everything is equal, and government should get the hell out of the way. […] Of course, […] most [libertarians] probably don’t see how their “get rid of government” policies prop up institutional bigotry, but the reality is that when you blast government as the root... [More]”

Stephen Colbert interviews Alex Gibney...tory of the new WikiLeaks documentary

Published by marco on

Gibney has quite a good string of documentaries behind him, but We Steal Secrets seems to be a good deal shakier. I have not seen it, but it’s a documentary about WikiLeaks that focuses on the personal weaknesses and personality characteristics of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange without having interviewed either one of them, indeed without having interviewed anyone in the WikiLeaks organization. I reserve final judgment until I’ve seen it, but it doesn’t bode well.

Given that background,... [More]

Data Points on U.S. NSA Large-scale Wiretapping

Published by marco on

A couple of days ago, Gleen Greenwald, constitutional and civil-rights lawyer, former Salon blogger and current Guardian blogger and columnist, revealed some top-secret U.S. documents that lay out in quite clear terms the degree to which U.S. government agencies are proud to be intercepting data from myriad sources.

Phone records, social-networking sites, large cloud-data providers, chat tools, video-calling software—almost anything you can think of—were mentioned as current and past... [More]

Lee Camp videos

Published by marco on

I’ve been following Lee Camp, a stand-up comedian/activist/blogger for several months now. He’s always been quite good, but he’s hit his stride lately. His “Moment of Clarity” videos are short and interesting and often funny.

The following videos were posted while he’s on tour in the British Isles.

The Most Dangerous Discussion In The World? − MOC #232 by Lee Camp (YouTube)

Citing from the video description:

“There’s a discussion that most people aren’t having and that our media will never dare mention. If we never have it, we may all end up dead. […] So here it... [More]”

What does “close Guantánamo” mean?

Published by marco on

Guantánamo is a war crime. It’s illegal by both U.S. and international law. And now, in the article Amid Hunger Strike, Obama Renews Push to Close Cuba Prison (New York Times), we hear that President Obama wants to try closing it again. Does he mean it this time? But what does he mean by close it? And why now? Should we believe his high-minded though glib reasons? Or is cynicism once again more justified than hope?

Why is he trying again? Why now?

As even the article states,

“Mr. Obama made his remarks... [More]”

Ron Paul interviewed by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West

Published by marco on

Ron Paul appeared on a recent Smiley and West show. He’s a bit slippery. He generally argues for absolute liberty and that the government’s role is to ensure liberty—in other words, the goal of the strict Libertarian that he always has been. If nothing else, he’s consistent. But he very quickly gets into trouble with issues that don’t work so well with a black-and-white political philosophy—in other words, almost any issue of consequence.

For example, the conversation turns to Hate-Crime... [More]

The DOJ Memo on why killing is not always prohibited

Published by marco on

NBC has released a Department of Justice (DOJ) memo titled DOJ White Paper: Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force by DOJ (MSNBC). As you read through the document (or just the citations below), if you find yourself being swayed by the DOJ’s seductive logic, it is a useful exercise to turn the parties around: instead of the US claiming the rights detailed in this document, imagine that it were Israel or Russia or... [More]

9 years Ago

Side-by-side in Gaza redux

Published by marco on

In 2009, Side-by-side in Gaza noted the disparity in the damage caused by Palestinian ordnance versus that caused by Israeli. As revealed in pictures from Israel—Gaza conflict (Big Picture Blog), the stark difference remains in 2012. Is it clear that, while the Gazans are capable of producing some weaponry despite the strict blockades (and allegedly with Iran and Arab countries in its corner), its firepower pales in comparison to that of the Israelis (with the U.S. in its corner). Having the right friends makes... [More]

Money well spent

Published by marco on

The U.S. elections have come and gone. People in other parts of the world—I can attest to Switzerland—were at times exasperated with the amount of coverage in their home countries. That coverage, it seems, pales in comparison to the deluge of information to which Americans themselves were subjected for at least a solid year. And some candidates even started campaigning two years out. The intensity of media saturation was reported to have been prodigious.

Unsurprisingly, many are just glad... [More]

I’m not a Californian, but I voted

Published by marco on

A friend of mine in California asked for my input on the ballot propositions in California in November 2012. Here’s my quick impression of these issues. YMMV.

I used Ballotpedia (Ballotpedia) as my reference. They have good sections showing who’s for/against and why. It’s also a good way to test the wind by seeing which way Democrats or Republicans are voting. Also interesting to see which and how many papers endorsed one way or the other.

Prop 30—Jerry Brown’s Tax Increase (revenues for general fund... [More]

Final notes on the election

Published by marco on

Equal rights or saving the children. You can’t have both.

The following quote floated through the Internets, bubbling along on the social-network streams. It was written in support of voting for the candidate that supports gay rights, for one who supports equal rights for all Americans.

“I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on... [More]”
Doug Wright

The Foreign-policy Debate

Published by marco on

The third debate was eons ago, the election is tomorrow and, if we’re very lucky, we’ll never have to hear about Mitt Romney again. Sure, we’ll still be stuck with Obama but, as the Economist so lovingly put it, better the devil you know.

The best way to listen to the foreign-policy debate was the Expanding the Debate Special on Foreign Policy (Democracy Now!), which featured two of the other candidates—Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party—who offered much smarter and less... [More]

The Economist holds its snobby and deluded nose

Published by marco on

The title of the essay Which one? America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill (Economist) sums up its contents, to some degree. The conclusion to which they came is justified given some of their arguments. But some of their other arguments are just not supported by any tangible evidence. That is, the Economist shows in a short and eminently readable essay why you can’t really trust them for cogent analysis. Not only does their ideology gets in the way, but they... [More]

Must be nice growing up female in France

Published by marco on

 Republican Rape Definition ChartAlong the left-hand side is a handy chart published with the article The Republican Rape Advisory Chart (AlterNet). It features some of the most stupefying and misogynistic things that politicians have said about rape in the last year or so. We will return to it soon, but let it provide contrast to the French social policies detailed in the article French teens to get the Pill for free (France 24).

The main point is as follows:

“French teenagers aged 15 to 18 will have their contraceptive pills reimbursed 100... [More]”