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24 March 2007

Kucinich, Zinn on Democrats' Support for the War

Kucinich, below, is right on the money, as per usual.

Howard Zinn Replies to MoveOn’s support for the supplemental

By Howard Zinn

03/23/07 "ICH" -- "I'm disappointed in MoveOn. We are not politicians, we are citizens. Let the politicians advocate half-way measures if they choose, but only after they have felt the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not what is winnable in a shameful timorous Congress. Timetables for withdrawal are not only morally reprehensible in the case of a brutal occupation (would you give a thug who invaded your house, smashed things up, and terrorized your children a timetable for withdrawal?) but logically nonsensical. If our troops are preventing civil war, helping people, controlling violence, then why withdraw at all? If they are in fact doing the opposite -- provoking civil war, hurting people, perpetuating violence -- they should withdraw as quickly as ships and planes can carry them home. If Congress thinks it must compromise, let it. But we should not encourage that. We should speak our minds fully, boldly and say what is right, whatever they decide to do..

"I would add this: To me it is tantamount to the abolitionists accepting a two-year timeline for ending slavery, while giving more money to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.

"There is an understandable predisposition for reasonable people to compromise, but there are compromises which are real, and others which are surrenders. See the new movie THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY. The Irish rebels were offered a compromise, which gave them the Irish Free State, something palpable, a ledge to stand on from which to fight for more, which they have done. There is nothing palpable in this "compromise," only a promise whose fulfillment is in the hands of George Bush, and meanwhile funds the ongoing slaughter in Iraq."

First posted at www.democracyrising.us

23 March 2007

It's Getting Better All the Time in Iraq

Just ask the new SecGen of the UN.

Gaza Strip

A documentary made as the second intifada broke out. American director. No narration.

22 March 2007

Bolton admits Lebanon truce block

Who's using whom, huh? If I were an Israeli, I'd be furious right now. So, the US has blocked both a deal with Syria and a speedy cease-fire in Lebanon last summer. In the former case, they scuppered a potential deal. In the latter, they gave Israel time to destroy, well, lots of southern Lebanon.

We need to break free from Israel, yes. Looks to me as though Israel needs to break free from us just as much. More accurately, the nutjob elites in both the US and Israel need to be thrown out of power, and both nations desperately need to get their diplomatic shit together and simply solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue -- based on Geneva, the Arab League's 2002 plan, and whatever else -- ASAP. Plans abound. Let's get a move on, already!

The struggle for oil is not the struggle we are losing

No labels for this one. It is too wide-ranging: overconsumption of fossil fuels is and has been at the heart of our heartless foreign policy. We've been reaping the whirlwind in myriad ways, at home and abroad.

The author is correct: it is a moral issue. Every time you waste fossil fuels, every time you don't do more to get off them, conserve them, and support those organizations that are fighting for renewable energy, etc., you're part of the problem. So am I, obviously, but it's not all-or-nothing. Minimize your hypocrisy; maximize your conservation.

Y'all know what to do, how to research if you don't. Just do it.

The History of Israel Reconsidered: A Talk by Ilan Pappe

What True Conservatives Are Saying about Iraq

This 8-minute interview is from the Cato Podcast, sponsored by the Cato Institute, no liberal hotbed that, to say nothing of the Hudson Institute.

So, the obvious question is: what the hell is keeping so-called liberals or progressives in Congress and elsewhere from making these obvious points?

Note Odom's connection to Brzezinski, who has also been on a tear. The latter is no bottom-up progressive liberal, for sure; an old Trilateral Commissioner, among many other things, including an initiator and enabler (with Saint Carter) of the Central American slaughter of the 80s.

Yet these guys realize that the Iraq mess, from a purely self-interested standpoint, is a disaster for the US. Interesting.

From ICH:

"The war was not in our interest. It was in the interest of Iran and Al Qaeda. How can you win a war that's accomplishing the goals of your enemy?"

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. As Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988, he was responsible for the nation's signals intelligence and communications security. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer.

From 1977 to 1981, General Odom was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski. As a member of the National Security Council staff, he worked upon strategic planning, Soviet affairs, nuclear weapons policy, telecommunications policy, and Persian Gulf security issues. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1954, and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970.

Obama/Clinton Ads

We have now reached the age of the meta-ad. Both candidates have either produced or their supporters have produced ads comparing the other to Big Brother based on the 1984 Macintosh anti-IBM ad.

The BBC considers this important, but not worthy of any analysis. I consider it the next logical step in a presidential horse-race in which issues simply do not matter.

Ultimately, the proliferation of PR-driven political ad campaigns is completely undemocratic; actually, fascist. Ironic that no one realized how inappropriate the use of visual propaganda decrying visual propaganda would be. But, leave it to Americans to not get it. I hope I'm wrong.

I don't see Kucinich wasting his time on such crap.

Democracy Dreaming

All I can say, is, hell yes.

All this talk of stopping the "surge," internecine squabbles in the anti-war movement over the recent supplemental, ignorant and craven wish-projections onto Obama or Gore or some other savior miss the point: we are, and have not been, a republic for about 50 years.

Here's one way to get it back.

The New Eugenics: Theofascism in America

21 March 2007

Al Gore Testimony on Global Warming

The whole megillah for both of 'em:

  1. House
  2. Senate
Dig it. Inhofe pretty much proves he's the leading asshole in the Senate.

The Trap

By the people who did The Power of Nightmares.

Should be good. [Later: It's excellent.]

Here's part two...further parts to be linked here...

Update: Part 3 here.

Kucinich on Not Continuing to Fund the War

Dig HR 1234; Kucinich's plan.

20 March 2007

Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater

This is a journalist. Non-Real-Player options. More coverage of this on Democracy Now! tomorrow; I'll post that below tomorrow...

These mercenaries are literally and truly the Bush Administration's Praetorian Guard, as Scahill says. They deployed to New Orleans "to fight crime" after Katrina. (More here and here.) Who gave that order? I know Posse Comitatus is basically dead, but these mercenaries are not even part of the government.

This should scare the living shit out of anyone reading this. I realize this is nowhere near as important as the death of Anna Nicole Smith, but still, ya know, might be worth a few minutes of your time.

Scahill covers the ties of the founder, Erik Prince, to the Christian Right, James Dobson, Amway, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) (who fought with the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan against the Soviets...I'm serious), as well as the rise of his company, Blackwater, the largest private army in the world (~25,000, but no one really knows), which is rarely mentioned in the "surge" pseudoevent-"discussion." Cuts too close to the bone, obviously.

Buy the book.

Learn more here.

Remember, the answer is always privatization and outsourcing, no matter what the question is. OK? OK. This is a mercenary army operating above the law, in our names. But not in our interests.

Rep. Henry Waxman, a pit bull of an investigator, uses Blackwater, among other contractors, like a chew-toy. Links to other docs can be found below the automatically-starting hearings video. (By the way, assuming y'all see Windows Media start up automatically lacking any control bar, too, just place your cursor on the video, right click, choose "Zoom">>"Full Screen" and you can fast-forward or whatever there. You can go back to the small screen by right-clicking again on the full screen video and choosing "Exit Full Screen," by clicking the proper icon, or simply by hitting the escape key.)

Kucinich, Waxman lace into Blackwater lawyer (from DN!, with commentary).

E-mail your love and support to Waxman & Co., congresspeople who do their jobs, here.

Part 2 on Blackwater coming tomorrow...

...and here it is in RealPlayer. Other options here.

Kucinich on Impeachment

The only candidate in either party worth a damn.

Respond here.

19 March 2007

Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline

From FAIR...makes for instant nausea and/or rage. Channel it properly. Will come in handy during this run-up to Iran...

It’s STILL The Oil: Secret Condi Meeting on Oil Before Invasion, By Greg Palast

[A man who has consistently shown that he knows exactly what he's talking about...]

Four years ago this week, the tanks rolled for what President Bush originally called, “Operation Iraqi Liberation” — O.I.L.
I kid you not.

And it was four years ago that, from the White House, George Bush, declaring war, said, “I want to talk to the Iraqi people.” That Dick Cheney didn’t tell Bush that Iraqis speak Arabic … well, never mind. I expected the President to say something like, “Our troops are coming to liberate you, so don’t shoot them.” Instead, Mr. Bush told, the Iraqis,

Do not destroy oil wells.

Nevertheless, the Bush Administration said the war had nothing to do with Iraq’s oil. Indeed, in 2002, the State Department stated, and its official newsletter, the Washington Post, repeated, that State’s Iraq study group, “does not have oil on its list of issues.”

But now, we’ve learned that, despite protestations to the contrary, Condoleezza Rice held a secret meeting with the former Secretary-General of OPEC, Fadhil Chalabi, an Iraqi, and offered Chalabi the job of Oil Minister for Iraq. (It is well established that the President of the United States may appoint the cabinet ministers of another nation if that appointment is confirmed by the 101st Airborne.)

In all the chest-beating about how the war did badly, no one seems to remember how the war did very, very well — for Big Oil.

The war has kept Iraq’s oil production to 2.1 million barrels a day from pre-war, pre-embargo production of over 4 million barrels. In the oil game, that’s a lot to lose. In fact, the loss of Iraq’s 2 million barrels a day is equal to the entire planet’s reserve production capacity.

In other words, the war has caused a hell of a supply squeeze — and Big Oil just loves it. Oil today is $57 a barrel versus the $18 a barrel price under Bill “Love-Not-War” Clinton.

Since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation, Halliburton stock has tripled to $64 a share — not, as some believe, because of those Iraq reconstruction contracts — peanuts for Halliburton. Cheney’s former company’s main business is “oil services.” And, as one oilman complained to me, Cheney’s former company has captured a big hunk of the rise in oil prices by jacking up the charges for Halliburton drilling and piping equipment.

But before we shed tears for Big Oil’s having to hand Halliburton its slice, let me note that the value of the reserves of the five biggest oil companies more than doubled during the war to $2.36 trillion.

And that was the plan: putting a new floor under the price of oil. I have that in writing. In 2005, after a two-year battle with the State and Defense Departments, they released to my team at BBC Newsnight the “Options for a Sustainable Iraqi Oil Industry.” Now, you might think our government shouldn’t be writing a plan for another nation’s oil. Well, our government didn’t write it, despite the State Department seal on the cover. In fact, we discovered that the 323-page plan was drafted in Houston by oil industry executives and consultants.

The suspicion is that Bush went to war to get Iraq’s oil. That’s not true. The document, and secret recordings of those in on the scheme, made it clear that the Administration wanted to make certain America did not get the oil. In other words, keep the lid on Iraq’s oil production — and thereby keep the price of oil high.

Of course, the language was far more subtle than, “Let’s cut Iraq’s oil production and jack up prices.” Rather, the report uses industry jargon and euphemisms which require Iraq to remain an obedient member of the OPEC cartel and stick to the oil-production limits — “quotas” — which keep up oil prices.

The Houston plan, enforced by an army of occupation, would, “enhance [Iraq’s] relationship with OPEC,” the oil cartel.

And that’s undoubtedly why Condoleezza Rice asked Fadhil Chalabi to take charge of Iraq’s Oil Ministry. As former chief operating officer of OPEC, the oil cartel, Fadhil was a Big Oil favorite, certain to ensure that Iraq would never again allow the world to slip back to the Clinton era of low prices and low profits. (In investigating for BBC, I was told by the former chief of the CIA’s oil unit that he’d met with Fadhil regarding oil at Bush’s request. Fadhil recently complained to the BBC. He denied the meeting with the Bush emissary in London because, he noted, he was secretly meeting that week in Washington with Condi!)

Fadhil, by the way, turned down Condi’s offer to run Iraq’s Oil Ministry. Ultimately, Iraq’s Oil Ministry was given to Fadhil’s fellow tribesman, Ahmad Chalabi, a convicted bank swindler and neo-con idol. But whichever Chalabi is nominal head of Iraq’s oil industry in Baghdad, the orders come from Houston. Indeed, the oil law adopted by Iraq’s shaky government this month is virtually a photocopy of the “Options” plan first conceived in Texas long before Iraq was “liberated.”

In other words, the war has gone exactly to plan — the Houston plan. So forget the naïve cloth-rending about a conflict gone haywire. Exxon-Mobil reported a record $10 billion profit last quarter, the largest of any corporation in history. Mission Accomplished.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans — Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. A new edition, updated and expanded, will be released April 24.

Palast hits the road with the new Armed Madhouse tour beginning April 21 in Chicago; then to Madison, Portland, Eugene, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, New York (with Randi Rhodes) and Washington. The original tour was sponsored by Code Pink, Buzzflash, Working Assets, DemocracyNow! and many more. Add your group to the list by contacting us.

Watch Palast’s original BBC Newsnight Report.

Subscribe to Palast writings at www.GregPalast.com

The Archaeology of Porridge

This barely deserves the tag "Essay" -- more like scattered first impressions...

I am forcing myself to slog through this book. Foucault makes some excellent points, especially for the time, but his language is so hyperdense it takes forever to finally figure out his point. I realize that style is part of the point -- self-exemplifying and all that -- but it annoys me to death.

Also, he makes just plain factually incorrect statements, such as claiming that Marx's view of history was NOT progressive. Find me nineteenth-century Westerner who wasn't at least partly in thrall to progress, let alone Marx. Even Nietzsche had a kind of transcendent, individualistic progress in mind.

Anywho, the extreme rejection of the human being -- "humanism," what he confusingly calls "anthropological" ("anthropocentric"???) -- and worship of "the text" (yes, "discourse field" or whatever), sans author, is, one would think, not only unnecessary to his larger goals but also self-refuting.

His larger goals of urging people not to take current categories and genres and fields of thought too seriously, and especially not to project them backwards into history, is important. So is the notion of discontinuity in history, and the biases against that in our intellectual inheritance.

But by completely killing off the human mind, which creates texts of all sorts (yes, in a web of interactions with other minds and texts -- very important), he just makes himself ridiculous. I think I read somewhere that he was arguing against Sartre's humanistic leanings. OK, great; why throw over everything?

He eschews searches for origins, but then lets that in the backdoor (as he has to) when he gets into the nitty gritty about when a certain style of thought about, say, medicine came about, even if one restricts oneself to the various discourses (legal, medical, etc.). Personally, I see no reason to limit the study to discourses, and the "mystical" connections of ideas F derides become a lot less mystical when you consider institutions like educational systems, professional societies, networks of publication and discussion -- you know, all that human-centered stuff that uses language imperfectly, but gets the actors' ideas across, according to their own lights. Change -- "discontinuities" -- can come from an individual, a law, a general reaction to a political event, changes in economics, climate, whatever. There is no rule; it's an open question as to how change occurs, and to what degree a concept is continuous or not with previous uses of that concept. "Atom" to Democritus meant something different than "atom" to Bohr; maybe there the continuity snapped, but even that judgment is relative to the specific question asked about continuity. But surely "atom" to Bohr and Heisenberg was a hell of a lot closer, relatively speaking? The hard work is weighing the balance of or interplay between continuity and discontinuity in a specific study, whatever the timescale.

Frankly, F is stuck in a close analog to the old debate about whether species were real or nominal. Darwin solved that one, and the solution applies to intellectual history rather well, even if the mechanisms for change are much different. It's the time element -- funnily enough, the relativism of time element -- that seems to confuse or throw F: species are real from the moment of speciation to the moment of extinction (and those moments can be fuzzy indeed the closer you look -- the tighter your timescale resolution). Yet they ultimately are continually changing populations; hence "incipient species," "subspecies," and so forth. Ideas are more slippery, especially since species don't do propaganda for their own "kind", but pull back far enough and you see the discontinuities. Zoom in close enough, and all you see is continuous change. It's kind of a pseudo-problem.

Funny, I thought Marx nailed it when he said, "Men make history, but do not make it in circumstances of their choosing." That's a dynamic (or, if you like, dialectic) and nonreductionist view of how things change. No need for "progress" -- but one must account for why daily life is so different between different times and places. As well as for the similarities -- why daily life (or thought, or whatever) in other times and places is both shockingly familiar and shockingly strange. Can't do justice to history without addressing both shocks to the historian.


18 March 2007

Harold Pinter on Charlie Rose

Probably great -- assuming Rose can keep his mouth shut. Always an issue.

Israel's Last Chance - by Gabriel Kolko