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Showing posts from 2009

Noam Chomsky, "Season of Travesties: Freedom and Democracy in mid-2009"

June 2009 was marked by a number of significant events, including two elections in the Middle East: in Lebanon, then Iran. The events are significant, and the reactions to them, highly instructive.

The election in Lebanon was greeted with euphoria. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman gushed that he is "a sucker for free and fair elections," so "it warms my heart to watch" what happened in Lebanon in an election that "was indeed free and fair — not like the pretend election you are about to see in Iran, where only candidates approved by the Supreme Leader can run. No, in Lebanon it was the real deal, and the results were fascinating: President Barack Obama defeated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran." Crucially, "a solid majority of all Lebanese -- Muslims, Christians and Druse -- voted for the March 14 coalition led by Saad Hariri," the US-backed candidate and son of the murdered ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, so that "to the extent…

Robert Caro on LBJ and Robert Moses

On Robert Moses, 2007:



On "Gigantism: Threat to Urbanism," 2008:



A Q&A from early 2009; Moses and LBJ:



Lyndon Johnson: The Roots of a Presidency, 2007:



Charlie Rose interview, 2009:



A conversation with author Robert Caro about Lyndon B. Johnson, 2002:


Khobar Towers Investigated: How a Saudi Deception Protected Osama bin Laden

Michael Jackson = Princess Guy

Do I have to sit through a year of nonstop coverage, sobbings, and vulture-like preying on the corpse? Apparently, I do.I don't even care about the supposed kiddie fondling -- it's just the enforced mourning, and especially the appalling necrophilic vulturing of the press. My two cents, unrelated to the rest, is that, hey, he's not that great, anyway: four good songs on _OTW_, _Billie Jean_, one or two other catchy ones. I never liked him much as a preteen, and I won't pretend I do now to join in The Big Weep. But what one thinks of his music/art isn't really relevant. Shit, when Ingmar Bergman died, I didn't have a public sobfest to show that I was part of the "in crowd," using my loud liking of him to show my conformity. I mean, why not sell pieces of his dead body and home for shrines around the world to worship -- or better yet: a Michael Jackson cookie we can all eat to share of His goodness?I mean, who in their right mind would launch such a dea…

Ralph Nader, Financial Reform, Words and Deeds

It’s good that Barack Obama is an agile basketball player because on financial regulatory reform he’s having to straddle an ever widening chasm between his words and his deeds.

Obama said: “Millions of Americans who have worked hard and behaved responsibility have seen their life dreams eroded by the irresponsibility of others and by the failure of their government to provide adequate oversight. Our entire economy has been undermined by that failure.”

“Over the past two decades, we have seen, time and again, cycles of precipitous booms and busts. In each case, millions of people have had their lives profoundly disrupted by developments in the financial system, most severely in our recent crisis.”

Strong words, even though he didn’t include “corporate crime, fraud and abuse” to replace the euphemism “irresponsibility.” One would think that his 88 page reform proposal to Congress would be up to his words. Instead he provides Washington aspirins for Wall Street brain cancer.

The anemic natur…

Diptych

First and sixth lines from subsequent limerick-off prompts by MadKane, with one small change ("man" for "guy" in line one).

From the definition of "diptych" in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:

"Tablets recording a list of the living and the dead who were prayed for at the Eucharist; the names themselves..."
There once was a man with no hair
Who pined for a visage more fair
From days long ago
That all of us know
The death of which all must forbear.

A woman was feeling depressed
Her beauty, she knew, was suppressed
By oncoming age.
The crux of her rage?
An outcome she could not contest.

The American Empire Is Bankrupt, Chris Hedges

Posted on Jun 14, 2009By Chris Hedges This week marks the end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That’s over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful. Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt. And these nations are damned if they are going to continue to prop up an inflated dollar and sustain the massive federal budget deficits, swollen to over $2 trillion, which fund America’s imperial expansion in Eurasia and our system of casino capitalism. They have us by the throat. They are about to squeeze. There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in Yekaterin…

Turning Point? Noam Chomsky on US-Israel-Palestine, 7 June 2009

The Obama-Netanyahu-Abbas meetings in May, followed by Obama's speech in Cairo, have been widely interpreted as a turning point in US Middle East policy, leading to consternation in some quarters, exuberance in others. Fairly typical is Middle East analyst Dan Fromkin of the Washington Post, who sees "signs Obama will promote a new regional peace initiative for the Middle East, much like the one championed by Jordan's King Abdullah... [and also] the first distinct signs that Obama is willing to play hardball with Israel." (WP, May 29). A closer look, however, suggests considerable caution. King Abdullah insists that "There is no change to the Arab Peace Initiative, and there is no need to amend it. Any talk about amending it, is baseless" (AFP, May 16). Abbas, regularly described as the president of the Palestinian Authority (his term expired in January), firmly agrees. The Arab Peace Initiative reiterates the long-standing international consensus that Isra…

Puppy Love

For my wife, Donna, a lover of puppies.

The love of a puppy is scorned
By those who think love is suborned
By what they call "Nature,"
By which nomenclature
They camouflage love lost -- and mourned.

Chomsky at Riverside Church, NYC, 12 June 2009

On the forty-year anniversary of the publishing of his classic American Power & the New Mandarins, Noam Chomsky comes to the historic Riverside Church in Harlem, New York City, to address a wide range of issues from the global economic crisis, US military intervention in the Middle East and South Asia, left electoral and social movement upsurges in places like El Salvador, Bolivia and Venezuela, and the election of Barack Obama. Chomsky, whom The New York Times Book Review has called "arguably the most important intellectual alive," is the author of over 100 books including in the last few years; What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Hegemony or Survival.

Professor Chomsky has received honorary degrees from University of London, University of Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago, Swarthmore College, Delhi University, Bard College, University of Massachusetts, University of Pen…

New Limerick

First line from MadKane:

There once was a government clerk
Who daily completed his work.
The work? Quite banal.
And at his locale
The stench of the dead could not irk.

Tribalistic self-absorption, Glenn Greenwald

Straight-up brilliant -- and utterly accurate. My only critique is that this self-absorption, though perfected by fascists, pollutes discourse across the political spectrum, especially in what passes for "the left" in this country.

Another version of the same argument from Lewis Black:


Gaza Shall Not Die! -- International Solidarity Day in Gaza, January 1, 2010

Hyperlink courtesy of yours truly; all else is Norm's. To see the graphic at the top of Norm's website, reproduced below, at full size, just click here. Please make this widely known.
The time is now to break the siege of Gaza.

Please see the announcement at the top of my web site.

Please spread the word! I hope you''ll join me on that historic day.

A Stab at a Longer-From Limerick on the Chomster

The father of modern linguistics
Marshaled with facts and statistics
A crushing critique
Of his country's mystique
That commissars met with ballistics.

The commissars hated his bent
But failed to dispel his dissent
Which spread like the flu
'Cause everyone knew:
Elites manufacture consent.

Disciples anew gain in traction
Which drives the elites to distraction.
As Chomsky insists,
His value consists
In organizational action.

Disciples of old kill the father.
You wonder why any would bother.
To do such a murder
Could not be absurder
Since all that is shown is their pother.

This classic reaction formation,
A typically strong indication
Of blessings denied
By mentors who eyed
Their progeny once with elation,

Accounts for the whole situation.
Like Hitchens' most recent creation:
A bargain-rack Blair
With none of the flair --
A bar mitzvah boy in deflation.

Yes, Chomsky's a man and thus flawed.
His acolytes are overawed.
But as Orwell said
Of Gandhi's life's thread,
There's far less to blame than…

A Double Limerick

Madeleine provided the first and sixth lines in consecutive weekly limerick-offs. I thought I'd try a "through-story," having missed the first deadline!

A hard-working author named Fink
Would sit in his bedroom and think.
The walls of his room
Began to assume
Projections best left to a shrink.

There once was a woman named June
Who sang to a Finkian tune
Of sex long repressed
Pretentiously dressed --
What Henry'd've labeled jejune.

Hamas Delivers Peace Letter to President Obama

Hello, all:

From the delegation in Gaza at the moment; actually, direct from Medea Benjamin's e-mail. At minimum, the bluff, if bluff it is, should be called. It's not bluff; I happen to know second-hand, and the first hand is an old hand and personal friend.

It would be great if you forwarded this widely, including to your local media, Senators, and congressmen.

Best, Doug

Hamas Delivers Peace Letter to President Obama

The Hamas government in Gaza reached out to President Obama on the occasion of his visit to the Middle East, announcing that Hamas was willing to talk to all parties “on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.” CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, who carried the letter out from Gaza, said that the letter represented a significant development and an effort by Hamas to present a new face to the Western world. “While Osama bin Laden used the occasion of President Obama’s visit to deliver a scathing attack, Hamas reached out to a feminist U.S. peace grou…