May 31, 2010
BREAKING: Obama Condemns Israeli Piracy
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy...To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes.
I hear he's sending three US warships to the Mediterranean right now!
BREAKING: Hillary Clinton Condemns Israeli Aggression on High Seas
The Obama administration comes through with the commitment to international law we always KNEW they had in them! Thank you Hillary!
CLINTON: ...the United States strongly condemns this act of aggression...We agree that [inaudible] must stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats and belligerence toward its neighbors, and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, and comply with international law....let me be clear. This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international -- not just a regional, but an international -- response.
May 29, 2010
America's Leaders: Do They Have Enough Contempt for Americans?
I missed this May 2 statement by Michael Bloomberg about the attempted Times Square car bombing:
"Terrorists around the world who feel threatened by the freedoms that we have always focus on those symbols of freedoms and that is New York City."
Here's Faisal Shahzah feeling threatened by our freedom in a 2006 email to a friend:
Everyone knows the current situation of Muslim World... Friends with peaceful protest! Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows? In Palestine, Afghan, Iraq, Chechnya and else where.
And here's more evidence of how threatening our freedom was to his fragile jihadist mind:
Mr. Shahzad had long been critical of American foreign policy. “He was always very upset about the fabrication of the W.M.D. stunt to attack Iraq and killing noncombatants such as the sons and grandson of Saddam Hussein,” said a close relative. In 2003, Mr. Shahzad had been copied on a Google Groups e-mail message bearing photographs of Guantánamo Bay detainees, handcuffed and crouching, below the words “Shame on you, Bush. Shame on You.”
So this is solid work by Mayor Bloomberg. Nevertheless, I think there are ways he could demonstrate even more contempt for Americans. For instance: start saying we're attacked by terrorists because we love puppies and rainbows too much.
May 28, 2010
Five Dollar Friday
$5 goes today to Grit TV, and via the magic of matching grants lasting through the end of June, will be transformed into $15 total. I'm donating partly because they've done such a great job at seizing new media opportunities, and partly because while growing up I listened to "The Reluctant Cannibal" 7,000 times.
May 27, 2010
"Lewis Hanke's Own Struggle for Justice"
My mother gave me the two typewritten pages below a long time ago, but I just read them for the first time. They're notes for a little speech about my grandfather, who was a professor of Latin American history. The speech was delivered (my mother believes) by a historian named Richard Graham, when Graham and eight of my grandfather's other former graduate students presented him with a book they'd written and dedicated to him.
This happened at the convention of the American History Association in 1974, which was the year my grandfather was AHA president. I don't know exactly what that means, but at least he got to give a speech.
If you've come to this site for a long time, you may understand why Richard Graham's remarks are both very interesting for me and also weird me out. But beyond my personal reaction, I'm especially intrigued that during World War II my grandfather apparently perceived the direct connection between European colonialism in the Americas and Hitlerian fascism. Good for him; I have to imagine that at the time that was a pretty significant thoughtcrime.
P.S. Thank you, Richard Graham. I didn't know my grandfather outside of his grandfather role, and this is information I couldn't have gotten anywhere else.
May 25, 2010
May 24, 2010
Since the world is suddenly remembering that Israel had a long relationship with apartheid South Africa that involved nuclear weapons, maybe now would also be a good time to remember that (according to Seymour Hersh) high-ranking officials in the Israel government used to discuss threatening the Soviet Union with nuclear terrorism.
May 23, 2010
That was such an obvious yet meaningful joke that I figured someone else would come up with something similar soon. But I've never seen it anywhere until this new Onion story: "Report: Majority Of Government Doesn't Trust Citizens Either."
Check it out, it's pretty good. Then read the non-funny introduction to William Greider's book Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy, which is titled "Mutual Contempt."
May 21, 2010
Five Dollar Friday
Got to start getting this out earlier. Today's $5 goes to This American Life to begin repaying them for all the bandwidth of theirs I've used downloading podcasts. I actually am not a big fan of their big hour-long shows on the economy—in this one, for instance, they were appallingly credulous. That said, they've done great work on other topics for years, and in fact are getting much better economy-wise; their recent show on Magnetar was excellent.
May 20, 2010
NE mentioned this LA Times story in comments:
Investigators have arrested a Pakistani army major linked to the prime suspect in the botched attempt to bomb New York City's Times Square early this month, Pakistani law enforcement sources said Tuesday.
The major's involvement with suspect Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, remains unclear. Law enforcement sources said the major had met Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, in Islamabad, the capital, and was in cellphone contact with him.
The major's arrest marks the first time someone in Pakistan's military establishment has been directly linked to the case.
Of course, as was pointed out yesterday, we know this Pakistani army major was just a loser, motivated purely by his failure to succeed in U.S. society rather than our foreign policy, so there's nothing to worry about and certainly no reason to change anything we're doing.
May 18, 2010
Operation Humiliate Now a Huge Success!
Why did Faisal Shahzad want to kill (fellow) Americans? Here's email he sent on February 25, 2006:
Everyone knows the current situation of Muslim World. Everyone knows the kind of Hypocrite government in Muslim world. Everyone knows how the Muslim country bows down to pressure from west. Everyone knows the kind of humiliation we are faced with around the globe.
Friends with peaceful protest! Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows? In Palestine, Afghan, Iraq, Chechnya and else where.
In Bob Woodward's book State of Denial, he describes a conversation between Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson and Henry Kissinger:
"Why did you support the Iraq war?" Gerson asked him.
"Because Afghanistan wasn't enough," Kissinger answered. In the conflict with radical Islam, he said, they want to humiliate us. "And we need to humiliate them"...In Manhattan, this position got him into trouble, particularly at cocktail parties, he noted with a smile.
The stupid liberals at Manhattan cocktail parties don't understand that it's their duty to die in car bombings until we've humiliated the dirty Muslims so much that they no longer respond to the humiliation with car bombings.
May 14, 2010
Late Nite Five Dollar Friday
Explanation of Five Dollar Friday here. Follow who else is giving on twitter. As promised last week, there would either be a website and tumblr ready by now, or someone in my organization would be fired. Someone has been fired (although later rehired and given a final one week extension after a bunch of crying and begging.)
Today's $5 Friday goes to Black Agenda Report, but not because I'm a big copier and am copying Ethan. I thought of it on my own, especially after listening to this Doug Henwood interview with Bruce Dixon, one of the editors there.
If you're familiar with them, you know how good they are. Send them some money, because they need it and deserve it. If not, check them out, find out how good they are, and then send them money.
Even Reuters is reporting it now:
Jonathan Schwartz ignored problems as they escalated, made poor strategic decisions and spent too much time working on his blog
May 13, 2010
I just watched Food, Inc.. While as filmmaking I found it sort of meh, it's certainly worth seeing. And it definitely reinforced my impression that factory meat farms are basically concentration camps where the Nazis eat the prisoners. (I have no idea if it's so or not, but it would be great historical continuity if IBM developed the IT needed to keep track of the millions of cattle as they're shunted through the system, covered in shit, to their doom.)
So I'm more determined than ever to eliminate animal products from my life. It's essentially impossible for U.S. citizens to opt-out of slaughtering Afghans or strangling Gaza, but you can largely opt out of this particular branch of The System.
May 11, 2010
Seymour Hersh Describes "Battlefield Executions" by U.S. in Afghanistan
HERSH: The purpose of my [Abu Ghraib] stories was to take it out of the field and into the White House. It's not that the President or the Secretary of Defense Mr. Rumsfeld, or Bush, or Cheney, it's not that they knew what happened in Abu Ghraib. It's that they had allowed this kind of activity to happen.
And I'll tell you right now, one of the great tragedies of my country is that Mr. Obama is looking the other way, because equally horrible things are happening to prisoners, to those we capture in Afghanistan. They're being executed on the battlefield. It's unbelievable stuff going on there that doesn't necessarily get reported. Things don't change.
What they've done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban. You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they're Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I've been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. Well, if they can't prove they're Taliban, bam. If we don't do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that's going on now.
May 09, 2010
I Was With Al Gore Right Up to the Moment He Turned Into A Giant Dickwad
The continuing undersea gusher of oil 50 miles off the shores of Louisiana is not the only source of dangerous uncontrolled pollution spewing into the environment. Worldwide, the amount of man-made CO2 being spilled every three seconds into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding the planet equals the highest current estimate of the amount of oil spilling from the Macondo well every day.
And, of course, the consequences of our ravenous consumption of oil are even larger. Starting 40 years ago, when America's domestic oil production peaked, our dependence on foreign oil has steadily grown...
I am far from the only one who believes that it is not too much of a stretch to link the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and northwestern Pakistan—and even last week’s attempted bombing in Times Square—to a long chain of events triggered in part by our decision to allow ourselves to become so dependent on foreign oil.
Speak it, brother!
This enormous and increasing transfer of wealth contributes heavily to our trade and current-account deficits, and enriches regimes in the most unstable region of the world, helping to finance both terrorism and Iran’s relentless effort to build a nuclear arsenal.
May 08, 2010
Seymour Hersh: Obama is "Dominated" by Military
This is Hersh speaking at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva on April 24, 2010. Better looking highlights that don't include this can be found here. (The organization's website has a page here that says it has all of Hersh talking, but they embedded it incorrectly and it doesn't work. However, I poked around and you can download the whole thing here.)
REPORTER: You didn't include Obama in your list of liar presidents. I'm wondering if you would include him also?
HERSH: To use a basketball or a football analogy, American football, fourth quarter – he may have a game plan. At this point he's in real trouble. Because the military are dominating him on the important issues of the world: Iraq, Iran, Afghan and Pakistan. And he's following the policies of Bush and Cheney almost to a fare-thee-well. He talks differently. And he's much brighter, he's much more of the world. So one only hopes he has a game plan that will include doing something, but he's in real trouble, in terms of – he's in real trouble.
In Iraq I don't have to tell anybody the prospects – in the American press they never mention Moqtada Sadr, but look out. He's going to be the kingmaker of that country. He's now studying in Iran. And he's going to be the next ayatollah-to-be. I don't know how he'll work it out with Sistani. But he's going to be the force, the Shia. And so this is going to be very complicated for us because the two men we talk about, Allawi and Maliki, have about as much to do with the average Iraqi – they're both ex-pats. Allawi, let's see, he was certainly an American agent and a British agent, the MI-6, the CIA, the Jordanians ran him probably for Mossad. I'm not telling you anything that is not a fact. So who knows?
So Iraq is very problematical. There's going to be much more violence. Whether it's civil war or not it's going to be much more violence.
He's never going to be win, whatever that means, in Afghanistan. The only solution in Afghanistan is a settlement with the Taliban. And the only person to settle with is Mullah Omar, and he's become another Hitler to the American public. So how we're going to do that and survive politically?
And the same in Pakistan. He's got the wrong policy there. So it is – and again for Obama, Iran's not resolved, in terms of, Iranians have come out of this crisis stronger than ever. We don't want to believe that.
May 07, 2010
Five Dollar Friday
Today's $5 Friday donation goes to Consumers Union, specifically for their song "The Drugs I Need" from several years ago. It was produced by Austin Lounge Lizards and a seemingly-defunct Austin company called the Animation Farm for part of CU's Prescription for Change campaign.
My understanding is that in an alternate universe I am married to the woman who does the voiceover at the end.
"YouTube, Downfall Parodies, and Me"
So with no commercial dimension to the parodies, clear protection under US fair use laws, and an actual benefit to the original (as well as documented support from the film’s director), the removal of the videos is simply a reflection of modern corporate fascism. That’s a tough word, but I think it’s worth busting out....
It’s time for this debate to stop being about who can or cannot remix The White Album. It needs to start being about how the rest of us should allow corporations to act. If you think there’s no connection between excessive copyright protection and the drive to patent the human genome, for example, or BP fouling the Gulf of Mexico and you and I having to live with the results, or the rise of stuff like Blackwater (not to mention Goldman Sachs), think again.
May 06, 2010
Knowing About Potosi
Recently I mentioned that I'd never in my life met any Americans who know the dreadful story of the Potosi mine in Bolivia. But I just watched Our Brand is Crisis, a documentary about U.S. political consultants who worked for one of the candidates in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. And one of them, Jeremy Rosner, was to his credit aware of the history.
Here's the segment where he mentions it. He's being interviewed by the movie's director Rachel Boynton long after the election was over:
BOYNTON: In the campaign, what did you see as the main differences between Bolivia and the U.S.?
ROSNER: Well, I mean, you're trying to grapple in Bolivia and a lot of the rest of Latin America with 500 years of an indigenous majority who have been oppressed, denied political rights, denied economic rights, who are disproportionately poor, who still don't have full political representation. And so you're trying to deal with those sort of grievances, and the fact they're still underrepresented in the political system. You're trying to deal with the grievances of the have-nots of globalizations—and not just recent globalization, but globalization when it started four hundred and five hundred years ago when all the silver was taken out of Potosi and the locals got bupkus out of it. The problems of regional divisions, you've got two of their nine departments right now sitting on top of huge treasure trove of natural gas, and the rest of the country that feels like it's not going to benefit enough. So I mean, huge divisions, and ultimately it took their democracy pretty much to the breaking point.
So that sounds good. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to give Rosner too much credit, given that he's part of a Clintonista consulting firm—including James Carville—and they were predictably working for the white, rich, University of Chicago-educated candidate. (He won but then later had to flee the country and take refuge in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.) In fact, Rosner makes me want to write a sketch where the devil's press agent calmly and eloquently expresses sympathy for all the people in Hell having their intestines pulled out.
DEVIL'S PRESS AGENT: Clearly there's a history here that you have to be sensitive to. People have real grievances with their intestines being pulled out by demons and devoured in front of their faces. People are being drowned in their own blood. And obviously there's molten brass being poured into rectums. That's something we grapple with every day. It's a real issue. There are genuine divisions here that can't just be wished away.
UPDATE: I see my intuition that Jeremy Rosner is the devil's press agent was right on the money.
May 05, 2010
May 02, 2010
Politics is Funny
You know what would have made a great punch line for Barack Obama's joke about predator drones last night at the White House correspondents' dinner? If the car bomb in Times Square had gone off at exactly that moment, and it turned out it in fact was in retaliation for strikes by predator drones.
Then the next night, when they were still washing blood and viscera off the streets of New York, the head of the Pakistani Taliban could have made a quip about killing people with car bombs at a fancy black tie dinner in Peshawar. And then the U.S. could have blown up more Pakistani civilians with drones. And the cycle of funniness would begin anew!
P.S. My understanding is that the Obama administration has only granted itself the right to assassinate U.S. citizens when they're outside the country. So the Jonas Brothers are safe unless they go on international tour.
Barack Obama Officially Becomes Grotesque Monster
It's one thing for heads of state to murder people. That's just part of the job description. It only becomes truly obscene when the people in charge start making jokes about the power of life and death they wield over others.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Barack Obama:
OBAMA: Jonas brothers are here, they're out there somewhere. Sasha annd Malia are huge fans, but boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I'm joking?
According to the New America Foundation, Obama has killed somewhere between 109 and 188 civilians with drones during his presidency.
Note also that, according to the Washington Post gossip column, this was one of Obama's "sharpest quips" at the White House correspondents dinner.