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12 January 2007

Manufacturing Consent

Here's the full film, courtesy of Information Clearing House.

(Hint: When this loads -- in Windows Media Player -- you can right-click on the screen and expand to full-screen. The rez isn't great, but if you sit back a bit, it's fine.)

Many great videos and films on the left nav here. The articles are usually good. The commenters are often wackos, unfortunately.

Olbermann Special Comment

11 January 2007

Islam and Democracy

Clicking the title above will launch RealPlayer. If you have a problem, here's the page where the link resides. The description on the page does not do the video justice.

By the way, The Council for the National Interest obviously has its own interest. For what it's worth, here's what Wikipedia says about it. McCloskey attended a Nazi holocaust revisionist meeting. That doesn't fill me with confidence. Here's what CNI says about this film.

Here's what Jake Tapper, writing about many Muslim groups, such as CAIR, AMC, etc., said about CNI a week after 9/11. (Salon; should load, but you might need to click through an ad or do a daily site signup.) Knowing Jake before his flowering as a national news-celebrity (was married to his step-sister for a few years), I would take this with a very large grain of salt. He's mainstream Main Line; a quasi-"liberal" stance on most things -- except Israel.

So, like all sources of information, I would assume some bias, clearly. But it's a different bias than we usually get.

This video is one hour long. The CNI group traveled from Egypt through Palestine to Syria and Lebanon talking to politicians, academics, diplomats, journalists, and others. I'm really more interested in what the people they interviewed said, edits and all, than CNI.

The CNI group was in Gaza when Hamas won the election; quite interesting stuff. You'll see a variety of views and a depth of culture and society -- and critique -- that pretty much never appears on American television.

Question: why aren't in-depth studies like this done by any but potentially sketchy organizations?

Stop the Escalation!

Hi, all:

The really important issue was the obvious declaration of a wider war in yesterday's speech. We are really spinning into hell; it is up to all Americans to get off their asses to stop this while there's still time. Don't kid yourselves: this administration is going for broke and will not stop unless compelled to.

Most crucially, American Jews must stand up and give the room for the much-needed critique of Israel. That government, and increasingly its society, is completely out of control. Since American Jews, such as myself, live here -- and since if any nation has leverage on Israel, it's the US -- we must say loud and clear that expanded war is unacceptable and immoral.

To put no fine point on it: we are being inundated daily with Israeli and AIPAC, ADL, et al, propaganda on Iran. Call me "self-hating" -- I know a scam when I see one. Neocon fantasies of US/Israeli dominance; Christian-wacko-right holy wars and Rapture; the usual military-industrial-congressional complex pressures; and many things besides. All are collapsing into a vector moving toward destruction for potentially millions of people.

The US and Israel have now both floated (i.e., "leaked") the idea of using nuclear weapons on a country that doesn't have nuclear weapons, and won't for years, if ever, in order to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

Think about it. This has zero to do with Israel's destruction (unless the prophecy is self-fulfilling) or with the Nazi holocaust, which took out a nice chunk of my family. This is about a small group of ruthless elites, backed by sadly misinformed constituencies, who have had ties back into the '90s at least. It's clear that the US is doing the wagging; it's the more powerful nation. But it's equally clear that you couldn't slide a piece of paper between the positions of the current Israeli and US administrations: most of the is-it-the-Lobby? vs. no-it's-the-US-using-a-proxy misses the point. It's both and neither: each group has the same interests. For now.

Furthermore, all of you Democrats who thought the election was going to change everything, well...not unless you put extreme pressure on your reps and Senators. Because of two extremely strong lobbies: the military-industrial and the "pro-"Israeli -- the latter of which is stronger with the Democrats, arguably -- many Democrats have little to no incentive to block an expansion into Iran. Some Republicans and Democrats in both houses are nonetheless pushing back, at least verbally. That's not nearly enough.

Finally, any citizen or resident of this country -- any human being -- is under equal compunction to act. This is no longer GOP-vs.-Dem. It's the war party vs. the sane party, and there's a mixture of both Republicans and Democrats ("Independents") in both camps. I'll take the antiwar stance of anyone from Pat Buchanan to Bernie Sanders; purity is not for emergencies.

Be in DC on Jan. 27; other events happening all over. Try here, too.

Some commentary and facts from across the spectrum and around the world:

  1. The U.S.-Iran-Iraq-Israeli-Syrian War, Robert Parry
  2. Senators warn Bush against wider war, Financial Times
  3. IDF predicts possible conflict with Lebanon, Syria in 2007, Haaretz
  4. Distracting Congress from the Real War Plan, Paul Craig Roberts
Very dangerous times, and increasingly so.

So, get out there and call your reps, senators, write letters to the editor, sign petitions, visit DC, demonstrate, petition your government, give money.

Must hit hard now, or we'll all be regretting it later, especially those of you who knew what to do, but did nothing.

Thanks for reading.

Excellent Retrospective on Five Years of Guantanamo Bay

Worth a viewing, but the transcript has very useful links to other interviews: audio, video, or transcript.

Escalation Speech

The speech was awful, but not because Bush is incompetent or a bad leader or whatever else MSM: "Liberal Wing" may be saying.

One can't really assume anymore (if one ever could) that

  1. Bush runs things; and
  2. that major goals are not being pursued, albeit not perfectly, but doggedly.
Most elite discontent stems from not wrapping this up more quickly. Democracy is a "nice-to-have" -- for some "critics" of Bush, like the wet-finger-in-the-air Friedman. It was, for the Flatworlder, in 1991, not desired; in 2002/3, desired; in 2006/7, not desired.

What I mean by "things" in #1 above is the vaunted "stability," which means US control over oil, which means over the global economy. There is simply no other rational explanation for this war, even with the Israel Lobbies, the Military-Industrial Complex, neocons, et al. We would not be in Iraq if their main export were figs.

The owners don't do this stuff for no reason, and they're not at all stupid. Virtually everyone who is against this war would have been for it had it wrapped up in three weeks. If by some miracle this escalation "works" in the sense of getting American deaths off the TV screen, then most against this now will be for it later. Anyway, without a full military and colonial presence, Iraq almost certainly could not have "been wrapped up" without literally hundreds of thousands of people; and once they left, guerilla war would have started, most likely. It's the way of these things.

Chris Floyd explains a large facet of it quite well.

Most presidents since FDR have used one excuse or another, usually false, to kill or allowed to be killed millions of people. Bush is just ploddingly obvious about it. One main reason people like Albright, who thought hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi children was "worth it" under sanctions in Holy Clinton's Golden Age, complained in Foreign Affairs was that Bush was being too obvious about usual US foreign and domestic policy. See: the Indochina War, East Timor, COINTELPRO, etc.

There isn't much of an historic moment here, if you're talking about 9/11 or the Iraq war. The historic moment that matters to the owners, here and in other nations, is that key resources are running out quickly, and US hegemony is solely military and lagging in other areas, especially compared to post-WWII. Both, especially the latter, were inevitable and obvious to all; hence the proxy wars, "Cold War," and the "war on terror."

Anyway, on the apparent Dem rollover for the Prez, with some notable exceptions:

More are becoming aware of our one-party system.
  1. Demz want power; afraid of being labeled as cowards or not supporting the troops (by not sending more to their deaths). 2008 is in the offing.
  2. AIPAC, et al, own the Demz, even more than the Rethugz. They like us over there, and later in Iran.
  3. The military-industrial complex is having a field day with this war. Exactly like AIPAC, and in exactly the same lobbying way -- probably much more powerfully -- they want it to continue.
  4. Iraq has nothing to do with Iraq, Saddam, democracy, or even Israel, per se. It's about maintaining the artificial global dominance we've had since 1945, steadily eroding. No one really gave a damn about communism, either -- certainly made for good propaganda, but we dealt with all kinds of terrible regimes, and still do.
  5. Like most wars, and most empires, the key issue is elite dominance of the masses at home as well as of other nations abroad. The Demz are mostly of that ilk, too.
That's why I'm completely unsurprised. We don't live in a representative democracy, really. 61% against the "surge" -- a deceitful term; they'll be there for years. 74% against the handling of the war. 63% against Bush's admin, period. Note that nothing in the vaunted 100 Days legislation addresses the MCA, restoring habeas corpus, signing statements, the Patriot Act, etc. A majority of Americans are consistently for impeachment; "off the table." They're for universal healthcare, when properly asked. Also off the table.

So, Kennedy and his cosponsors mustered the courage to stop funding for an escalation. That's good. No one but Sanders and Kucinich is talking about cutting off funding for the war, with the exception of what's needed to withdraw safely (obviously), ASAP. That is the only thing that will stop this war, no matter who is president in 2008.

At the same time, it is possible that a groundswell of revulsion and public action will force change. That happens in all but the most totalitarian nations. So, as per usual, it's up to us, collectively and individually. Note the horror with which the term "class warfare" is hysterically thrown at normal progressive policies, while true class warfare is waged on the vast majority of the population here at home. If you know any really rich people -- and I do (my uncle's brother by marriage is the now stroke-felled Malcolm Glazer, of Man United fame...a billionaire who could give a damn about how one of his companies was destroying the Chesapeake, and was a huge Bush supporter) -- they pretty much get that the world is going to hell, don't much care, as they have their bunkers (literally and figuratively). Big shock.

And so it goes. We call it a "democracy deficit" when it happens in other countries. Here, it's called "mature centrism." If you read contemporary op-eds during Vietnam, it's the same thing. So-called "liberals" saying the same stuff as wacko-proto-fascists wipe out Asians nonstop, flexing muscles twitching from the M-I complex and other issues: "credibility" being a key euphemism. Plus, with all that excess wealth and armaments, without a real enemy, the people might start getting pissed off at the owners...

As Tammany says in Gangs of New York, "We can always hire one half of the poor to kill the other half." There are many ways of doing this, both figuratively/economically and literally.


10 January 2007

A Window on Another World

This is Mars. Just look at this photo. I know all the arguments about wasting resources on spaceflight, etc., and agree with them to some extent.

However, just look at this picture. This is a relatively hospitiable world, as far as we know. We wouldn't last a second there without the very technology that will probably kill us, one way or another, while possibly taking our own planet on a very harsh ride.

Enough words: look.