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20 December 2007

"I hear Jesus totally rocks on Guitar Hero."

A non sequitor for anyone not in on the e-mail conversation, but it tickled my fancy:

The Jesus Christ Experience has Conquered America!

By Doug Tarnopol. Published December 25, 2007

The Jesus Christ Experience, fresh from a successful tour of former Soviet republics, rocked the Mabee Center at Oral Roberts University last night.

Jesus, of course, stole the show, singing "I'll Lay My Hands on You" suspended face down from a huge lighted crucifix, flying over the crowd. But the band was tight, especially with Peter on keys, a leper on bass (they haven't had a steady bassist since Judas left the group to tour with Kiss), and Torquemada laying down the heavy beats.

Even though the stage show had to be altered -- Tulsa's a dry town, so bottled water remained water -- everyone really hit their mark. Magdalene, Bathsheba, and Mary did their usual great backup singing, and in killer outfits: they make Jane's Addiction's dancers look like a bunch of latte-sipping Vermont feminists. Their manager, God, said that he hasn't had this kind of talent (and success) since Moses and the Ten Commandments.

"This kind of act comes around once every thousand years or so. As you know, most of 'em just disappear, but the greats -- the JCE, Moses, A.L.A -- they're for the ages." God is reported to have a 51% interest in each of those three groups.

Most of the kids we spoke to loved The Jesus Christ Experience:

  • Sebastian: "They just nail it from every angle every single time."
  • Bartholomew: "Every concert, I jump right out of my skin."
  • Jean d'Arc: "Made me want to save France all over again."
Their press agent, Paul Ben-Tarsus, brims over with what seems like real enthusiasm. "I love them so much," he says, breathless. "Everyone needs to know about them, so I spread the news in every media market. I keep writing letters to everyone to get with it."

But not everyone is so positive:
  • John the Baptist: "He's been biting my best stuff for two millennia now. I'm OK with it though: no need to lose my head over it."
  • Moses: "Sure, they play with great feeling, but they have no discipline. They break all the rules."
  • Chuang Tze: "Too much noise for me. I prefer silence, or at least 4'33"."
Their latest album, Upon This, Rock, is an instant classic, and the hit singles "Grace Your Bitch Up" and "Turtleneckin' Is No Skin Off" are climbing up the charts. The album and singles are available (in mono only) from Theizm Records -- available wherever fine music is sold.

Noam Chomsky, The Biology of the Language Faculty: Its Perfection, Past and Future

Coming soon from MIT World...I'll post it when it's up.

19 December 2007

Free Rice: Play and Feed a Hungry Person

Where the rice goes.

18 December 2007

Today's FCC Ruling: Sign the Petition to Stop Big Media

Dear Doug,

Millions of people stopped the FCC in 2003. Let's do it again!

Sign the Open Letter to Congress

It happened. A few minutes ago, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and his two fellow GOP commissioners approved new rules that will unleash a flood of media consolidation across America. The rules will further consolidate local media markets -- taking away independent voices in cities already woefully short on local news and investigative journalism.

In 2003, the FCC tried to do the same thing, but millions of people demanded that Congress reject the FCC's rules. And they did. It's time to do it again.

We need 100,000 people to get Congress to reverse the FCC's rules right now.

Sign Our Open Letter to Congress
Then get three of your friends to do the same.

This is about whether we will have access to the information that democracy requires. It is about whether or not we'll have real news and local voices on radio, television and in the newspaper in your town. It's about whether the public airwaves will represent our nation's diversity.

Just yesterday -- spurred by your calls and letters -- 26 senators from both parties sent a letter to the FCC Chairman promising "to revoke and nullify the proposed rule" if the FCC voted to lift the longstanding ban on "newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership." But Chairman Martin did it anyway.

Congress has the power to throw out these rules -- and if 100,000 people demand it, they'll have to listen.

Take action now and spread the word.

Some say that nobody listens to letters like this. Well they definitely do, and it's a way you can truly help the cause with just a few clicks. Sign on now -- and get your friends to do the same.

Your actions are making a difference. Let's keep up the pressure. And stay tuned -- this fight is far from over.

Thanks for bringing us this far,

Robert McChesney
Free Press

P.S. Spread the word: Recruit three new friends to sign on to this letter and send the message to Congress.

P.P.S. Read Senator John Kerry's blog post on today's decision on the Free Press Action Network.

A Debate on Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s Failed Constitutional Referendum

More here:

Sign the petition at nukefree.org

Click the title to this post!

More here: Spending Bill Includes $24 Billion Loan Guarantees for Nuclear Industry.

Funny how free-marketers insist on loan guarantees for an industry that can't find private investment.

Measuring Bali by a Scientific Yardstick, By Stephen Leahy

17 December 2007

Harvey Wasserman on New Ohio Voting Report: “The 2004 Election Was Stolen… Finally We Have Irrefutable Confirmation”

16 December 2007

Pride and Prejudice through the Years: Several Film Versions over Seven Decades...

Looks like everything got yanked... :(

Several Woody Allen Interviews

Peter Sellers Interview

Bram Stoker's Dracula, Coppola, 1992

Julius Caesar

Noam Chomsky on the Propaganda Model, 1990, Wisconsin

14 December 2007

Orson Welles Interview, 1960, CBC, Paris

Unseen Orson Welles: An Interview with Film Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum on Welles' Career

Meet Marlon Brando: A Rare Documentary, circa 1965

Vertigo, Hitchcock, 1958

My favorite Hitchcock film, and one of the best films ever made, IM-not so-HO.

Rope, Hitchcock, 1948

One of the all-time greats...

Hillary Clinton on International Law, Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus

It ain't pretty. Bush-Lite, and the "lite" is a hope, not a fact.

She does make nice cookies, though.

One thing: Zunes is out of his mind if he thinks that "Senator Clinton’s notions of what constitutes the legitimate use of force by the United States are so extreme, she would – if elected – likely become the most aggressive-minded Democratic president since James K. Polk." Has he forgotten about Kennedy and LBJ's little war in Southeast Asia? Or the multiple coups and attempted coups engineered by the CIA under those two? Has he forgotten about Hillary's husband's totally illegal war in Kosovo? The genocidal sanctions regime in Iraq that killed a million people, half of them children, forcing two successive UN chairs of the program to quit, claiming genocide? I mean, I could go on and on.

However, Zunes' historical lacunae do not detract from his accurate warning about Hillary. I just don't know whether Obama or Edwards would be much different.

Al Gore in Bali on US Obstructionism

Sign a petition that's already gotten 164,000+ signatures; let's try to force some change today and tomorrow!

Kucinich on the Issues

If you must have the sound bites, here they are:

For more in-depth descriptions of his plans, go here (even though that's not in-depth enough for my taste). To find out what he's done in the past, go here. To find out who funds him, go here, here and here.

Sean Penn Endorses Kucinich

Docs: Israel Demanded 80% of Settlements in 2000-01 Peace Talks

From Democracy Now, with links by yours truly. I'm sure this new information won't change official Washington's mind (both the Democratic and Republican lobes) about who scuttled the Camp David/Taba talks, but it's useful for the people to know the truth.

The talks come as new details have been released on the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks nearly seven years ago. Israel and the U.S. have long blamed Palestinians for rejecting what they called a generous offer to return most of the Occupied Territories. But new internal Israeli government documents reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz confirm several key Palestinian claims. The documents show Israel insisted on retaining the major West Bank settlement blocs home to 80% of the more than 220,000 settlers. The figure does not include settlements in East Jerusalem, which Israel also insisted on keeping. The documents also show Palestinians proposed an equal land swap if Israel wanted to hold onto land outside of its internationally-recognized borders.
There are plenty of other interesting things reported about this document, "The Status of the Diplomatic Process with the Palestinians Points to Update the Incoming Prime Minister," which I'm trying to find online.

13 December 2007

2007 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion

From the American Jewish Committee, for whatever that's worth. Interesting:

Survey Results
A. International Affairs
B. Israel
C. National Affairs
D. Anti-Semitism
E. Jewish Identity

Note both what was asked and what wasn't asked. Glenn Greenwald on this survey.

Here's an interesting response:

7. Would you support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
Support 35
Oppose 57
Not Sure 8

The 401(k) Myth, By Marie Cocco

Or: don't think that this privatized version of social security -- known as a "benefit" (for whom?) -- will either be there when you need it or forms a good model for the total privatization of all social security.

401(k)s are there to enrich Wall Street investment banks. If you are enriched, eventually, that's a side benefit. You won't get bailed out; they will. Evidence? Look around you; look at recent history. Wealth takes care of wealth.

Billionaire Bailout: Central Bank Socialism and America's True Values, Written by Chris Floyd

From the great Chris Floyd's blog, Empire Burlesque; link in title above.

Kucinich Barred from Democratic Debate in Iowa

Oh, yeah: this is a democratic process. No one's being excluded unfairly -- and why, I ask you? Lack of popularity in polls doesn't cut it, as you can see below. Home office -- i.e., lack of money -- doesn't cut it. So, what possible explanation are we left with? I leave it to you to figure out. From Democracy Now, linked in the title above (my emphases):

In campaign news, Congressmember and Democratic hopeful Dennis Kucinich has been excluded from today’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa. Debate sponsor the Des Moines Register told Kucinich he isn’t eligible because he doesn’t meet local requirements on a local campaign office and paid staff. Kucinich’s Iowa field director works out of a home office. The most recent poll of likely Democratic voters shows Kucinich has one percent support in Iowa—the same as Senator Chris Dodd. Nationally, Kucinich has two percent support—the same as Bill Richardson and Senator Joe Biden. Dodd, Richardson and Biden are all taking part in today’s debate. In a statement, the Kuncinich campaign called the exclusion “arbitrary and unreasonable”, saying: “[If] the Register has decided to use hair-splitting technicalities to exclude the leading voice of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, the entire process is suspect.”
A response from the Kucinich campaign.

Kucinich has indeed won polls in all the major, grass-roots, progressive Democratic organizations -- Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy for America, and the Nation magazine's poll. As the Kucinich campaign put it:
Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has won another major poll among grassroots Party activists most likely to vote in caucuses and primaries, capturing 41% of the vote from Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), which has more than 80,000 members across the nation.

In the field of eight candidates, the Ohio Congressman was the overwhelming winner, easily out-pacing second-place finisher former Senator John Edwards, who received 26% of the vote. Senator Barack Obama came in third with 13%, followed by Senator Hillary Clinton with 9%, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson with 5%. The other Democratic candidates were in the low single digits. Kucinich was also the top vote-getter among PDA members in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

It is the third exceptionally strong finish by Kucinich in polls among active, grassroots Democrats. Last month, he topped all other candidates in 47 of 50 states in a poll sponsored by Democracy for America (DFA). Also, a poll conducted by the progressive The Nation magazine showed Kucinich with 35% of the vote, Obama second with 24% and Edwards third with 13%.

In last month’s DFA poll, Kucinich received almost 32% of the 150,000-plus votes cast, more than Edwards and Obama combined. There, too, he won both Iowa and New Hampshire.

In announcing today’s results, PDA said, “The Congressman's showing indicates that Progressive Democrats are still in sync with the Kucinich agenda: Out of Iraq; no attack on Iran, single-payer healthcare, fair trade, etc.” The poll was open only to PDA members, and the organization said it added “extra layers of security” to protect the integrity of the survey.

In an analysis of the recent polls in The Nation today, Washington correspondent John Nichols wrote that Kucinich’s “pointed opposition to the war in Iraq and outspoken advocacy of impeachment of Vice President Cheney has echoed the sentiments of the Democratic base” and “party activists who do the heavy lifting.”

Nichols also noted, “The DFA and PDA poll results give Kucinich an additional measure of credibility as he reaches out to key activists, including Democrats who are currently leaning toward other contenders...”

Kucinich’s national and state-by-state poll numbers have risen noticeably in the past several weeks. Not only is he the only Democratic candidate who voted against the Iraq war authorization in 2002 and every supplemental funding measure since, he also is the only Democratic candidate who voted against the Patriot Act. And, his early opposition to hostile moves by the Administration towards Iran was validated earlier this week when the National Intelligence Estimate revealed that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

Kucinich, sponsor of a resolution calling for impeachment proceedings against Cheney, has called for a Congressional investigation of the handling of the NIE findings by the Administration. He said that such an investigation “will further build the case for the impeachment of both the President and the Vice President.”

12 December 2007

Max Roach 1924-2007: Thousands Pay Tribute to the Legendary Jazz Drummer, Educator, Activist

I somehow missed this back in August. Dig it: a man who knew his drums -- and his country.

Click on the image on the left to read his famous contractual stipulation.

From Drummerworld: Max Roach in action:

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, F. W. Murnau, 1927

10 December 2007

Sick of the Dem Congress Funding the War? Join the Democratic Donor Strike against the DCCC and DSCC

From Democrats.com: a great idea. I might add that you'll want to add that you're also boycotting any company or other organization that donates to the Democrats, and that you will not lift a finger to help any Democrat win office who doesn't support an immediate funding cut-off for all operations in Iraq not related to withdrawal.

Join the Democratic Donor Strike against the DCCC and DSCC

Once again our Democratic "leaders" are betraying our troops by keeping them in Iraq forever to be murdered or maimed for no reason except the insatiable greed of Bush-Cheney's oil cronies.

On Tuesday, House Democrats plan to approve $30 billion more for Afghanistan. Then Senate Democrats plan to approve $70 billion to cover Iraq as well. Then House Democrats plan to approve the full $70 billion.

Why are our Democratic "leaders" betraying us? Because they want Bush to sign -- not veto -- the $522 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the government this year. We have no Democratic "leaders" -- we have utterly incompetent negotiators who lose 100% of their battles, no matter how much public support they have.

Our Democrats in Congress clearly do not care about the voters who elect them, whether Democrats or Independents, virtually all of whom want them to end the disastrous occupation of Iraq now. Our Democrats in Congress do not care about the troops fighting in Iraq and their families, who oppose the occupation even more than the rest of us, by 69% to 64%. The only support for the occupation of Iraq comes from hard-core Bush Republican voters who never vote for Democrats.

Who do Democrats in Congress actually care about? The donors who fund them -- period. So call your Representatives and Senators with a simple message:

Not one more penny for Iraq -- or not one more penny for your campaign.
If you have ever contributed to your Representatives or Senators or to any Democratic committee, be sure to tell them how much you will not give them.

Let's all call Monday and Tuesday (between 9-5 ET) and shut down the Congressional phone system .

More from United for Peace and Justice:

It looks like the Senate leadership is ready to make a deal with the devil: If Bush funds their domestic programs, they will fund his illegal, destructive occupation of Iraq. Recognizing weakness, Bush appears ready to hold out and demand no increases to vital domestic programs, along with a $70 billion blank check for Iraq. The vote may come as early as tomorrow, Tuesday.

Clearly, the Iraqi people and the people of this country will be the losers in this deal.

On the House side, the signals are still mixed. On Friday, the chairs of the Progressive and Out-Of-Iraq Caucuses, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, wrote the Democratic leadership, saying that they will oppose any legislation that does not "strictly limit funding" to the protection of the troops and for their complete redeployment out of Iraq.

We have called, emailed, visited, occupied offices and refused to leave. Many members of Congress have gotten the message, but they need to be reminded, and those who haven't gotten the message need to hear it again.

This funding fight is prolonged and frustrating, but it is also urgently important. We ask you to take time today to send a message to your senators and representative.

Choose the method that feels right for you:

  • We know it's short notice, but try to gather some friends together and pay a visit to one or more of your legislators' local or DC offices today or tomorrow. (Click here to find their office locations.) Emphatically demand an end to the occupation. Your peaceful visit can be brief, or last long enough for you to read the names of civilians and soldiers killed in Iraq, or it can last until the member of Congress agrees to oppose all funding that is not tied to the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and contractors.

    If you are able to organize a visit, post the details on our calendar, so others can join you. Check to see if others in your area are planning a visit here.

  • If you can't put together a visit, flood your legislators' offices with phone calls. You can reach both of your senators and your representative through the Capitol Hill switchboard: 202-224-3121.

    Tell them: Vote NO on any funding for the occupation of Iraq that does not require the rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops and contractors.

Congress has not passed most of the Appropriations Bills necessary to fund the government and government services. The stop-gap funding measure ("Continuing Resolution") they passed last month expires on December 14, so they have to pass something before then in order to prevent a government shutdown. Pro-war legislators see this as an opportunity to force a vote on Iraq funding without any conditions. We are getting conflicting reports from staff and the media about what is happening behind the scenes -- but it looks likely that Congress will consider some Iraq funding measure -- for as much as $70 billion, along with an omnibus spending bill (that rolls all the appropriations bills for all departments into one giant spending bill). In the House, Democratic leadership had been promising that they would not take up anymore Iraq funding bills until next year -- but there are alarming indications they might renege on that promise.

Yours, for peace and justice,

Sue Udry
Legislative Coordinator, UFPJ

Analysis: Big Oil to sign Iraq deals soon

Mission (almost) accomplished. Don't like it? Then read this:

One year ago, peace voters were celebrating the election of a new Congress that promised an end to the US occupation of Iraq. Since then, Congress has done little to bring US troops home from Iraq while the Bush administration has pushed ahead with the same war agenda. Peace voters have been left with few victories-- until now.

Two months after the benchmark deadline for the Iraq oil law, the law has so far been successfully resisted. The Bush administration tried to bully their way into Iraq's oil riches by pressuring Parliament to pass a law in favor of foreign oil companies but the oil workers union protested it, international media criticized it, Iraqi Parliament refused to debate it, and Americans such as yourself denounced it.

While we should be encouraged by this success, the fight is far from over. Even as Al-Sharistani concedes that the current law will not pass anytime soon, the Iraqi Parliament expects to face yet another round of pressure to pass a national oil law. Soaring oil prices and Kurdistan's signing of 15 new oil contracts are sure to increase that pressure.

As long as US troops are in Iraq, the Bush administration will do all it can to influence Iraq's oil industry. Some influence is obvious, such as the Commerce Department's hiring of an advisor for Iraq's oil industry, while other forms of influence come straight from the industry itself. Please contact Congress today to demand they continue investigations into US interference with the oil law and cease supporting a war that is illegal, immoral and unjust.

Please take action today. We have succeeded in the first phase of this fight-- let's not give up now.


Kevin Zeese, Executive Director

Bush's (Very) Selective DisARMament Plan

Economist Dean Baker breaks it down: click the title to this post to see how well Daddy Bush takes care of his flock.

I assume that the newly homeless will be Raptured up to that Big Condo in the Sky (or Giant Gitmo Underground) soon enough, so why take any real action?

In any event, as Andrew Carnegie is said to have said, "During a depression, assets return to their rightful owners." Let the fire sale begin!

Top Democrats Were Fine with Waterboarding...Supposedly

If the neocon WaPo's "official sources" are accurate, then those Democrats are scumbags. I don't see how the executive-branch sources can leak this stuff without breaking laws; now the Democrats' staffers, if any were present, or the lawmakers themselves, can risk prosecution by counterleaking.

So, it smells fishy, although it would be in keeping with the general acquiescence of the Democrats in 2002 to just about anything the Junta wanted.

The Blackwater Praetorian Guard Continues its Ascent

These kind of businesses should be outlawed or nationalized into the existing military or intelligence bureaus to have at least a hope of oversight and command-and-control. Banned would be better, of course.

Watch this company, and those like it, very closely.

Climate Change Performance Index 2008

A comparison of the 56 top CO2 emitting nations

Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI): Overview
Figures and Tables Related topics: Previous CCPI editions

>> German version

For further information please contact:

Jan Burck
mobile: +62 817 08 19572 (during climate summit in Bali)

Anika Busch
Press and PR officer
Tel.: +49 (0)228 / 60 492 -23

The CCPI was developed with financial support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

2007 Nobel Peace Prize Lectures

Videos not yet up, but on the way. You can read the transcripts now, if you like. The title of this post has the presentation ceremony and both lectures. If you want to watch individual acceptance lectures, click the links below.

Here's the ceremony on CSPAN. There's a killer Indo-European jam (guitar and tabla), by the way.

Here (and here) are the relevant posts on this blog on the IPCC's work this past year.

09 December 2007

The Story of Stuff

Click the title of this post to see a great 20-minute film on stuff: where it comes from, what it costs (those pesky "externalities"), and what it does to people and to the earth.

It's great, uh, stuff.

PS: Download the movie (50 MB) by right-clicking on the image below and saving the link (not the image) to your computer (i.e., desktop):

Download Movie (.mov)

Scott Ritter on the NIE, Anti-War Radio, KAOS, Texas, 12/6/07

Good point, if true: the sneaky, little point that Iran "used to have" a nuclear weapons program up to 2003 is apparently also untrue. This leaves the door open for the current propaganda. Cause and effect is difficult to divine in propaganda -- the admin may simply be making the best of the NIE by claiming that Iran could restart its alleged program -- but it's worth noting that the one laptop from which the notion of a weapons program arose is apparently a sole source. Curveball, the laptop version, in other words.

Look, it's pretty clear that the US wants to hit Iran. Not because of Iran, of course. We didn't drop atomic bombs on Japan because of Japan (yes, dear, I know it's amazing to contemplate). Hitting Iran is yet another shot across the bow against the EU, Russia, China, and India (and anyone else): we, the US, are the top military dog, and we can not only hit anyone at any time, but we will also continue to aim at unilateral domination over the foundation of the world economy for as long as oil remains foundational. Period.

All other "justifications" of specific acts, etc., is simply window dressing for the American public. No one else is fooled, that's for sure.

08 December 2007

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment 12/6/07: Bush, Neocons, and Iran

The Constitution, the Media and Kucinich: Piano Wire Puppeteers, By SEAN PENN

John Lennon, RIP

07 December 2007

The Seventh Decade – Jonathan Schell on “The New Shape of Nuclear Danger”

So, are you really concerned about nuclear weapons? Or just when it's the enemy-of-the-month that has them, or is acquiring them, or has knowledge of how to make them...or, uh, could acquire that knowledge...I mean, it's dangerous, right? Uh -- BOMB THEM!

Well, if you are, give Schell a listen, pull your head out of the sand, and start working on what you can actually, possibly affect: US policy.

MIT Amnesty International Hosts Noam Chomsky 11/27/07

A birthday posting: Chomsky's 79 today.

The talk is "Rights and Responsibilities: The University Connection."

06 December 2007

Bob Dylan, "Cold Irons Bound"

I may have posted this before, but who cares? It kicks serious ass. From the much under-rated film, Masked & Anonymous. Looking forward to I'm Not There...hope I'm not disappointed.

I'm beginning to hear voices and there's no one around
Well, I'm all used up and the fields have turned brown
I went to church on Sunday and she passed by
My love for her is taking such a long time to die

I'm waist deep, waist deep in the mist
It's almost like, almost like I don't exist
I'm twenty miles out of town, in cold irons bound

The walls of pride are high and wide
Can't see over to the other side
It's such a sad thing to see beauty decay
It's sadder still, to feel your heart torn away

One look at you and I'm out of control
Like the universe has swallowed me whole
I'm twenty miles out of town in Cold irons bound

There's too many people, too many to recall
I thought some of 'm were friends of mine; I was wrong about 'm all
Well, the road is rocky and the hillside's mud
Up over my head nothing but clouds of blood

I found my world, found my world in you
But your love just hasn't proved true
I'm twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound
Twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

Oh, the winds in Chicago have torn me to shreds
Reality has always had too many heads
Some things last longer than you think they will
There are some kind of things you can never kill

It's you and you only, I'm been thinking about
But you can't see in and it's hard lookin' out
I'm twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

Well the fats in the fire and the water's in the tank
The whiskey's in the jar and the money's in the bank
I tried to love and protect you because I cared
I'm gonna remember forever the joy that we shared

Looking at you and I'm on my bended knee
You have no idea what you do to me
I'm twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound
Twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

Copyright © 1997 Special Rider Music

The Massive Change Annapolis Wrought

Israel to Build New Homes in Jerusalem Settlement

Israel has announced plans to build more than three hundred homes in a Jewish-only settlement in East Jerusalem. The new homes would be built in Har Homa, a settlement of more than 200,000 people occupied since 1967. Palestinians have called for sovereignty over East Jerusalem as part of final peace deal. The move comes just one week after Israel made the latest of several pledges to freeze settlement construction at the U.S.-brokered summit in Annapolis. But on Tuesday, Israeli officials said the Road Map does not apply to Jerusalem but only the West Bank. In a letter of protest, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the settlements the "single greatest threat" to a final peace deal.

And what's been going on for the past decade, colonialization-wise?

Study: Israel Demolished 3% of Illegal Outposts

Meanwhile a new study shows the Israeli government has carried out just three percent of its pledges to demolish unauthorized buildings in West Bank settlements over the last decade. The Israeli group Peace Now says the Israeli military conducted one hundred and seven of more than thirty-four hundred demolition orders. By contrast, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions says Israel has destroyed well over 5,000 Palestinian homes since the outbreak of the second intifada seven years ago. Israeli courts have deemed the outposts illegal while the World Court has ruled the entire settlements are illegal themselves.

Food Prices Climbing, With No End in Sight

05 December 2007

It Turns Out Ahmadinejad Was the Truthful One, By Robert Scheer

President Jonah, Meet Oliver Cromwell! By Gore Vidal

Amnesty International's Times Ad on the 2006 Military Commissions Act

Click the image to enlarge and read it. More info here and here; the Supreme Court will hear a case on the MCA.

Here's the Center for Constitutional Rights on this case. Sign their petition here. Send a copy of the Constitution to George W. Bush here (no pictures, but maybe someone will read it to him; perhaps animate it with hand puppets).

Sign Amnesty International-USA's petition here. Visit Tear It Down (Gitmo, that is) here.

Democracy Now on opening arguments: Attorneys Ask Supreme Court to Restore the Right to Habeas Corpus for Guantanamo Prisoners.

Fact-Checking Dobbs: CNN Anchor Lou Dobbs Challenged on Immigration Issues

An hour of Dobbs on Democracy Now. Worth watching, especially on the right-wing populism tip. Some more on the divide-and-rule phenomenon of right-wing "populism," also known as "proto-fascism."

I might add that a re-viewing of Bowling for Columbine would reinforce the point of this and other recent posts. As the economy tanks and intelligence estimates are brushed aside in favor of totalitarian fear-mongering, expect not a left-wing populist uprising but yet further consolidation and deployment of citizens' fury on anyone but those who deserve it, our rulers, the owners of the country.

Here's Amy Goodman's column on Dobbs. And here's another DN! report: FBI Statistics Show Anti-Latino Hate Crimes on the Rise.

03 December 2007


Exactly right. Palast sums up the referendum vote, the outcome, the issues at stake, and the absolutely corrupt and dishonest media coverage of Chavez.

A Real Q&A with Democratic Candidates

Scroll over to the point at which Edwards starts getting questions from real human beings. Not via YouTube -- via, like, you know, old-fashioned, face-to-face questions, without a dishonest media getting in the way, asking about UFOs and other assorted bullshit.

On Right-Wing Populism: "Populist Monarchs and Subjects"

Thought-provoking and disturbing. Without a left-wing populist option, well, to whom will the populace turn? And, more importantly, on whom?

A sick society we live in.

U.S. intelligence: Iran apparently halted nuclear weapons drive in 2003

Will this NIE stop Bush-Cheney? (More here, by Ray McGovern.)

Looks like the answer is very possibly, "hell, no -- how could you be so silly?" Some larger context here. You don't hear Giuliani, for example, reining in the stop-Iran talk, do ya? How about Huckabee or any of the other candidates on the Rethug side, Paul excepted? To say nothing of Hillary...but maybe she'll change her tune.

Frankly, I think impeachment is the only thing that will rein these lunatics in (the current lunatic-residents of the White House Asylum). The key question is: What Did Bush Know on Iran, and When Did He Know It? Furthermore, if Bush-Cheney aren't stopped now, then no future president of any party will feel the slightest bit constrained. That is a bipartisan issue, no?

02 December 2007

Remembering Howard Dean’s 2004 Campaign, By Joshua Frank

Part 1.

Part 2.

Interesting stuff.

01 December 2007

Chomsky on Prospects for Democracy, 1994

30 November 2007

Bombs away? An Interview with Scott Ritter on Iran

Key quote:

MT: But it is now clearer than ever that our invasion of Iraq has been a disaster. How do you explain the lack of opposition?

Ritter: It's difficult to explain. First of all you have to note, from the public side, that very few Americans actually function as citizens anymore. What I mean by that are people who invest themselves in this country, people who care, who give a damn. Americans are primarily consumers today, and so long as they continue to wrap themselves in the cocoon of comfort, and the system keeps them walking down a road to the perceived path of prosperity, they don't want to rock the boat. If it doesn't have a direct impact on their day-to-day existence, they simply don't care.

There's a minority of people who do, but the majority of Americans don't. And if the people don't care — and remember, the people are the constituents — if the constituents don't care, then those they elect to higher office won't feel the pressure to change.

More here, from the 18 October issue of Esquire on those rabid radicals, Flynt Leverett and his wife, former AIPAC-er Hillary Mann, describing how the neocons in the Bush admin completely fucked us all over on Iran.

Here's the talk Leverett gave at that radical-lefty organization, the Cato Institute.

The should-be-famous-by-now-but-isn't redacted NYT op-ed mentioned in the Esquire piece.

Venezuela's referendum: What's at stake?

The article linked above injects a little balance and reality into the get-Chavez media/administration/bipartisan frenzy. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the lake of oil Venezuela sits on, nor with the different, albeit imperfect, socioeconomic model Chavez's Venezuela embodies, and which it is exporting all over Latin America, and perhaps beyond. That is, a non-neoliberal, non-neoconservative, anti-"Washington Consensus" model of development and government.

Nope, I'm not naive enough to worship everything Chavez says and does. I am, however, results-oriented, and Chavez's party still seems to be positioning itself to get yet more real results for the majority of its citizens. Do you see any such development in either of the two parties in this Greatest Democracy on the Face of the Earth? You know, the one that has cancelled habeas corpus and engages in unilateral wars of aggression, the supreme international crime?

Yes, it is always possible that Chavez will drift toward truly dictatorial power. One must realize that "anti-Bush" doesn't equal "completely on the side of the angels, all the time." Take Putin, for instance. Simply because he is anti-US imperialism doesn't make him somehow a Jeffersonian democrat. Nor does it excuse his ample crimes, in Chechnya and in Russia. The world is just a tad more complex than "Bush bad; anyone anti-Bush good."

And, yes, there are some aspects of Chavez's administration, and desired constitutional changes, that are worrisome. However, on balance, so far, Venezuela is groping toward a far more sustainable and democratic model than we have here in the US. I am in general not a fan of increasing centralization; thus I, too, am concerned, but not for the reasons we are all battered with on a daily basis by our own corrupt media. Furthermore, despite my distaste for centralization, it's not clear that there is a decentralized way of reforming that (or possibly any) country, given a centralized and powerful opposition. Do you sieze state power (legally, of course) or dismantle or work around the state? An old debate to which I don't have an answer.

By the way, I cannot find an official full list of proposed amendments in English. This is the best I could do. Does not bode well. There's an official version in Spanish, but it consists of the final version of the new constitution if all amendments are passed. Which kinda makes it hard to see what the list of proposed changes are, unless you read Spanish and can compare it to the 1999 constitution. I can't, thus, vouch for the first link in this paragraph.

Some more information:

One more time: power corrupts, so I'm wary. However, that applies to all leaders in all countries. I judge on results for the majority; I don't react like a sheep to what I'm told -- by any source. Neither should you. Yes, that applies to this post (and all of my posts), of course. Go and find out for yourself.

But I have no sympathy for you if you simply sit back and consume whatever crap is handed to you with your critical faculties turned off. Especially by an American media system that has amply proved its untrustworthiness over and over again.

There is no alternative to digging, thinking, and judging on your own. Well, aside from being a good little sheep, of course.

Hands Off Iran, by Chris Hedges

[from the December 10, 2007 issue of The Nation]

I will not pay my income tax if we go to war with Iran. I realize this is a desperate and perhaps futile gesture. But an attack on Iran--which appears increasingly likely before the coming presidential election--will unleash a regional conflict of catastrophic proportions. This war, and especially Iranian retaliatory strikes on American targets, will be used to silence domestic dissent and abolish what is left of our civil liberties. It will solidify the slow-motion coup d'état that has been under way since the 9/11 attacks. It could mean the death of the Republic.

Let us hope sanity prevails. But sanity is a rare commodity in a White House that has twisted Trotsky's concept of permanent revolution into a policy of permanent war with nefarious aims--to intimidate and destroy all those classified as foreign opponents, to create permanent instability and fear and to strip citizens of their constitutional rights.

A war with Iran is doomed. It will be no more successful than the Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon in 2006, which failed to break Hezbollah and united most Lebanese behind that militant group. The Israeli bombing did not pacify 4 million Lebanese. What will happen when we begin to pound a country of 65 million people whose land mass is three times the size of France?

Once you begin an air campaign it is only a matter of time before you have to put troops on the ground or accept defeat, as the Israelis had to do in Lebanon. And if we begin dropping bunker busters and cruise missiles on Iran, this is the choice that must be faced: either send US forces into Iran to fight a protracted and futile guerrilla war, or walk away in humiliation.

But more ominous, an attack on Iran will ignite the Middle East. The loss of Iranian oil, coupled with possible Silkworm missile attacks by Iran against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, could send the price of oil soaring to somewhere around $200 a barrel. The effect on the domestic and world economy will be devastating, very possibly triggering a global depression. The Middle East has two-thirds of the world's proven petroleum reserves and nearly half its natural gas. A disruption in the supply will be felt immediately.

This attack will be interpreted by many Shiites in the Middle East as a religious war. The 2 million Shiites in Saudi Arabia (heavily concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province), the Shiite majority in Iraq and the Shiite communities in Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey could turn in rage on us and our dwindling allies. We could see a combination of increased terrorist attacks, including on American soil, and widespread sabotage of oil production in the Persian Gulf. Iraq, as bad as it looks now, will become a death pit for US troops. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which has so far not joined the insurgency, has strong ties to Iran. It could begin full-scale guerrilla resistance, possibly uniting for the first time with Sunnis against the occupation. Iran, in retaliation, will fire its missiles, some with a range of 1,100 miles, at US installations, including Baghdad's Green Zone. Expect substantial casualties, especially with Iranian agents and their Iraqi allies calling in precise coordinates. Iranian missiles could be launched at Israel. The Strait of Hormuz, which is the corridor for 20 percent of the world's oil supply, will become treacherous, perhaps unnavigable. Chinese-supplied antiship missiles, mines and coastal artillery, along with speedboats packed with explosives and suicide bombers, will target US shipping, along with Saudi oil production and oil export centers.

Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon, closely allied with Iran, may in solidarity fire rockets into northern Israel. Israel, already struck by missiles from Tehran, could then carry out retaliatory raids against both Lebanon and Iran. Pakistan, with its huge Shiite minority, will become even more unstable. Unrest could result in the overthrow of the already weakened Pervez Musharraf and usher Islamic radicals into power. Pakistan, rather than Iran, would then become the first radical Islamic state to possess a nuclear weapon. The neat little war with Iran, which many Democrats do not oppose, has the potential to ignite an inferno.

George W. Bush has shredded, violated or absented America from its obligations under international law. He has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, backed out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, tried to kill the International Criminal Court, walked out on negotiations on chemical and biological weapons and defied the Geneva Conventions and human rights law in the treatment of detainees. Most egregious, he launched an illegal war in Iraq based on fabricated evidence we now know had been discredited even before it was made public. He seeks to do the same in Iran.

This President is guilty, in short, of what in legal circles is known as the "crime of aggression." And if we as citizens do not hold him accountable for this crime, if we do not actively defy this government, we will be complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that will have terrifying consequences. For a world without treaties, statutes and laws is a world where any nation, from a rogue nuclear state to a great imperial power, will be able to invoke its domestic laws to annul its obligations to others. This new order will undo five decades of international cooperation--largely put in place by the United States--and thrust us into a Hobbesian nightmare. We must as citizens make sacrifices to defend a world where diplomacy, broad cooperation and the law are respected. If we allow these international legal systems to unravel, we will destroy the possibility of cooperation between nation-states, including our closest allies.

The strongest institutional barrier standing between us and a war with Iran is being mounted by Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Adm. William Fallon, head of the Central Command; and Gen. George Casey, the Army's new chief of staff. These three men have informed Bush and Congress that the military is too depleted to take on another conflict and may not be able to contain or cope effectively with a regional conflagration resulting from strikes on Iran. This line of defense, however, is tenuous. Not only can Gates, Fallon and Casey easily be replaced but a provocation by Iran could be used by war propagandists here to stoke a public clamor for revenge.

A country that exists in a state of permanent war cannot exist as a democracy. Our long row of candles is being snuffed out. We may soon be in darkness. Any resistance, however symbolic, is essential. There are ways to resist without being jailed. If you owe money on your federal tax return, refuse to pay some or all of it, should Bush attack Iran. If you have a telephone, do not pay the 3 percent excise tax. If you do not owe federal taxes, reduce what is withheld by claiming at least one additional allowance on your W-4 form--and write to the IRS to explain the reasons for your protest. Many of the details and their legal ramifications are available on the War Resisters League's website (www.warresisters.org/wtr.htm).

I will put the taxes I owe in an escrow account. I will go to court to challenge the legality of the war. Maybe a courageous judge will rule that the Constitution has been usurped and the government is guilty of what the postwar Nuremberg tribunal defined as a criminal war of aggression. Maybe not. I do not know. But I do know this: I have friends in Tehran, Gaza, Beirut, Baghdad, Jerusalem and Cairo. They will endure far greater suffering and deprivation. I want to be able, once the slaughter is over, to at least earn the right to ask for their forgiveness.

29 November 2007

Dennis Kucinich, by Gore Vidal in The Nation

[from the November 26, 2007 issue]

If the Democratic presidential primary were held today in your state, whom would you support? Cast your vote in the Nation Poll.

For the past two years I've been crisscrossing the United States speaking to crowds of people about our history and politics. At the same time, would-be Presidents of the greatest nation in the country, as silver-tongued Spiro Agnew used to say, have been crowding the trail, while TV journalists sadly shake their heads at how savage the politicos have become in their language. But then, it is the task of TV journalists to foment quarrels where often none properly exist.

As I pass through the stage door of one auditorium after another, I now hear the ominous name of Darth Vader, as edgy audiences shudder at the horrible direction our political discourse has taken. Ever eager as I am to shed light, I sometimes drop the name of the least publicized applicant to the creaky throne of the West: Dennis Kucinich. It takes a moment for the name to sink in. Then genuine applause begins. He is very much a favorite out there in the amber fields of grain, and I work him into the text. A member of the House of Representatives for five terms since 1997, although many of his legislative measures have been too useful and original for our brain-dead media to comprehend. I note his well-wrought articles proposing the impeachment of Vice President Cheney, testing the patriotic nerves of his fellow Democrats, but then the fact of his useful existence often causes distress to those who genuinely hate that democracy he is so eager to extend. "Don't waste your vote," they whine in unison--as if our votes are not quadrennially wasted on those marvelous occasions when they are actually counted and recorded.

Meanwhile, Kucinich is now at least visible in lineups of the Democratic candidates; he tends to be the most eloquent of the lot. So who is he? Something of a political prodigy: at 31 he was elected mayor of Cleveland. Once he had been installed, in 1978, the city's lordly banks wanted the new mayor to sell off the city's municipally owned electric system, Muny Light, to a private competitor in which (Oh, America!) the banks had a financial interest. When Mayor Kucinich refused to sell, the money lords took their revenge, as they are wont to do: they refused to roll over the city's debt, pushing the city into default. The ensuing crisis revealed the banks' criminal involvement with the private utility of their choice, CEI, which, had it acquired Muny Light, would have become a monopoly, as five of the six lordly banks had almost 1.8 million shares of CEI stock: this is Enronesque before the fact.

Mayor Kucinich was not re-elected, but his profile was clearly etched on the consciousness of his city; and in due course he returned to the Cleveland City Council before being elected to the Ohio State Senate and then the US Congress. Kucinich has also written a description of his Dickensian youth, growing up in Cleveland. He has firsthand knowledge of urban poverty in the world's richest nation. Born in 1946 into a Croatian Catholic family, by the time he was 17 he and his family had lived in twenty-one different places, much of which he describes in Dreiserian detail in a just-published memoir.

Kucinich is opposed to the death penalty as well as the USA Patriot Act. In 1998 and 2004 he was a US delegate to the United Nations convention on climate change. At home he has been active in Rust Belt affairs, working to preserve the ninety-year-old Cleveland steel industry, a task of the sort that will confront the next President should he or she have sufficient interest in these details.

I asked a dedicated liberal his impression of Kucinich; he wondered if Kucinich was too slight to lead a nation of truly fat folk. I pointed out that he has the same physical stature as James Madison, as well as a Madisonian commitment to our 1789 Constitution; he is also farsighted, as demonstrated by his resolute opposition to Bush's cries for ever more funding for the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More to the point, in October 2002 he opposed the notion of a war then being debated. For those of us at home and in harm's way from disease, he co-wrote HR 676, a bill that would insure all of us within Medicare, just as if we were citizens of a truly civilized nation.

War Paint and Lawyers: Rainforest Indians versus Big Oil

Great investigative reporting by Greg Palast for the BBC on Ecuador, Venezuela, Bush, and, ultimately, the vile corruption in the international oil economy. Click the title of this post for the RealPlayer video. For other options, go here.

Foreclosures in Black and White

From the NYT; linked above:

As the newspaper headlines have made clear for some time, we are in a mortgage crisis and a foreclosure explosion.

A recent Times editorial, “Subprime in Black and White,” dealt with evidence that during the housing boom, African-American and Hispanic borrowers were far more likely than other borrowers to be steered into high cost loans — even after controlling for factors like borrower income and loan size.

The maps [to the right] illustrate the effects of such racial disparities in New York City. The first map shows the neighborhoods where subprime loans were concentrated. The second, nearly identical, map shows where foreclosures have occurred.

Note those gray diagonal lines in the maps. They indicate areas where racial and ethnic groups that are minorities in society as a whole are local majorities. Those diagonal lines also overlap extraordinarily with where the high cost subprime loans were given out — and where the foreclosures are occurring.

The foreclosure crisis is set to cause a lot of pain in the months ahead. The maps indicate that the pain will fall disproportionately, with African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods especially hard hit.

More on this from Democracy Now. And dig this ACORN study (the following text is a link that refuses to turn blue for some reason): Foreclosure Exposure: a study of racial and income disparities in home mortgage lending in 172 American cities. Here's part two: the cost to cities.

Excellent Blog on Economics...

By Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at NYU and former Clinton admin economic advisor.

28 November 2007

Get to Know Dennis Kucinich...

Commonwealth Club of California
San Francisco, CA
Aug 10th, 2007

Get to Know the Candidate: 2008 U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich in a conversation with Joseph Epstein hosted by The Commonwealth Club of California.

Ohio Congressman Kucinich engages in a wide-ranging conversation about his political views and background.

ALL of Dennis Kucinich's replies @ 11-15-07 Dem. debate

“The End of America”: Feminist Social Critic Naomi Wolf Warns U.S. in Slow Descent into Facism

"Slow"? I'd say we're pretty much there. Wolf is a little superficial in her analysis, but she's basically right.

Click the title of this post for the Democracy Now interview. Listen to the part about the no-fly list, and what's coming up in February. 20,000 American citizens added per day.

The American Freedom Campaign: sign the petition(s)!

Talk by Naomi Wolf:

A recent interview:

Article in The Guardian. The book:

27 November 2007

Fmr. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Israel Should Heed Lessons of Scripture -- and Apartheid

Not Through Annapolis: Noam Chomsky Says Path to Mideast Peace Lies in Popular Organizing Against U.S.-Israeli “Rejectionism”

26 November 2007

Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States

Some relevant history (one hour; launches in Real Player). Parsi's been on Democracy Now, too.

From the C-SPAN Book TV page:

About the Program

Trita Parsi discusses the past and present relationship between the U.S., Iran and Israel. The talk was hosted by the World Affairs Council of Northern California.

About the Author
Trita Parsi is the co-founder and current president of the National Iranian American Council. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, the Nation, The Wall Street Journal, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post and other sources. For more, visit tritaparsi.com.

Here's the info from the Yale University Press website on this book:

Click here to listen to an interview with the author on the Yale Press Podcast.

Visit Trita Parsi's webpage featuring appearances, press events and interviews with the author.

Listen in on the author's recent appearance and interview on The Diane Rehm Show. Downloand this segment using Real Audio or Windows Media Player

Read The Economist, "Missed Chance? A Lost Opportunity Before Tehran's Necons Took Over"

In this era of superheated rhetoric and vitriolic exchanges between the leaders of Iran and Israel, the threat of nuclear violence looms. But the real roots of the enmity between the two nations mystify Washington policymakers, and no promising pathways to peace have emerged. This book traces the shifting relations among Israel, Iran, and the United States from 1948 to the present, uncovering for the first time the details of secret alliances, treacherous acts, and unsavory political maneuverings that have undermined Middle Eastern stability and disrupted U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the region.

Trita Parsi, a U.S. foreign policy expert with more than a decade of experience, is the only writer who has had access to senior American, Iranian, and Israeli decision makers. He dissects the complicated triangular relations of their countries, arguing that America’s hope for stability in Iraq and for peace in Israel is futile without a correct understanding of the Israeli-Iranian rivalry.

Parsi’s behind-the-scenes revelations about Middle East events will surprise even the most knowledgeable readers: Iran’s prime minister asks Israel to assassinate Khomeini, Israel reaches out to Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, the United States foils Iran’s plan to withdraw support from Hamas and Hezbollah, and more. This book not only revises our understanding of the Middle East’s recent past, it also spells out a course for the future. In today’s belligerent world, few topics, if any, could be more important.

Trita Parsi is president, National Iranian American Council, and adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS. He writes frequently about the Middle East and has appeared on BBC World News, PBS News Hour, CNN, and other news programs. He lives in Washington, D.C.