Malice in Blunderland: Further Adventures of the Idiocracy

Referring to Hamas' unexpected victory in the elections, which caught both Israel and the U.S. by surprise, Rice admitted the U.S. has failed to comprehend the depth of Palestinian hostility toward their leadership.

"I've asked why nobody saw it coming," [US Secretary of State Condoleeza] Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse," the New York Times quoted Rice as saying Sunday.

"I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard by Hamas' strong showing," Rice added. "Some say that Hamas itself was caught off guard by its strong showing."
That's from Ynetnews, "Rice: We underestimated Hamas".OK, so hold on a minute, 'cuz there's this, too, from MRC News, "U.S. officials, Iraqi insurgents meeting":
BAGHDAD, Iraq (UPI) -- American officials in Iraq are engaging face-to-face talks with high-level Iraqi Sunni insurgents, Newsweek reported Sunday.

Americans are meeting with 'senior members of the leadership' of the Iraqi insurgency, Americans and Iraqis with knowledge of the talks told the magazine. The talks are taking place at U.S. military bases in Anbar province, as well as in Jordan and Syria.

'Now we have won over the Sunni political leadership,' said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. 'The next step is to win over the insurgents.'

The groups include Baathist cells and religious Islamic factions, as well as former Special Republican Guards and intelligence agents, said a U.S. official with knowledge of the talks.
Leaving aside the hilarity of Khalilzad's comment, doesn't all this sound a little strange? I thought The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang had identified these insurgents as "terrists" and, of course, we don't negotiate with "terrists". Wassup wi'dat?

So we're not gonna talk to Hamas, either, 'cuz they're "terrists", too. And now folks wanna bring back the PLO, 'cuz Fatah couldn't handle it. But how are we making all these decisions if the NSA, CIA, DIA, and the rest of those folks don't know what's happening in real life on the ground?? Maybe the folks at Fort Meade are so busy listening to domestic phone calls they just lost track of how fucking mad these middle eastern types are. Letterman and Leno must feel like these idiots live just to write their monologues for them.

You may have noticed that I've been on a specific crusade (I was gonna say jihad, but the Ft Meadies are already overwhelmed) of my own of late: trying to convince y'all that The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang is NOT incompetent - that they've done quite nicely, in fact, of furthering their goals of creating chaos, diabling and dismantling our government, destroying democracy, and getting rich.

That's not to say, however, that there aren't any idiots or incompetents around. The State Department seems to be full of them. Mike "Heckuva Job" Brown is certainly a poster child. Delay, Frist, and Santorum seem to have a collective IQ of 6. And anyone with at least one brain cell coulda seen the Abramoff thingy comin'. Oh, yeah . . . and I will concede that Doubleduh is one of the stupidest people to walk the pollution-ravaged face of the earth - that's why they hired him. But I'm convinced that these are a few exceptions that prove the rule. Absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but that's corruption, not incompetence.

Lemme tell you who's really incompetent: we are. We are the Idiocracy. If we weren't, The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang woulda been on their way outta town a week after Enron broke, or at least on September 12, 2001. But they're still there, supported by hundreds of politicians that we elected to represent us. We are the Idiocracy because we haven't convinced but a few of the brighter dimwits in congress to impeach The Gang's sorry asses.

We are the Idiocracy because we don't wanna take responsibility for the fact that we not only let it all happen, but made it happen. Seen the commercial with the CEO type saying his cell phone plan was "his way of sticking it to 'the man' "? "But you're the man - so you're sticking it to yourself." "Maybe". NO NOT MAYBE. You can blame The D-C Gang all you want, but we did them to ourselves. At its heart, western democracy was supposed to be participatory self-government. That takes personal responsibility and a whole lot of work. Those two things don't resonate in the 21st century marketplace. Why are we so angry and surprised that we left democracy like a set of keys on the bar, and a bunch of smart thieves drove off with goods. Same old story - we have come to value all the wrong things, and we can't work for nor do we want to pay for the right things. The old Joanie Mitchell riff - "Don't know what you got 'til it's gone". Losers.

We are the Idiocracy because in the last month a whole bunch of scientists have raised the cry that we've reached an environmental point of no return, environmental calamity will happen in the next 20-30 years, not in a few hundred or thousand, and nobody's panicking!!! Because Al Gore finally grew a set of cojones last week, everything's gonna be OK?? That pig won't flah, son! Kee-rist you are slow! Panic awreddy!

A slightly different direction here, but still on the same theme . . .

Today I came across "Bush is at war with Americanism" by David Green at the Albany Times Union. It's a good piece if you accept his premises . . . but I don't. David and I see "americanism" in totally opposite ways. Let me deconstruct - the italics are mine (of course):
Once, America stood as a proud beacon for human rights. Now we are known for the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition and torture.
I'm afraid we've stood as a proud beacon for human resources, not rights. We genocided the folks who lived here when we got here; we've poured billions into brutal dictatorships and oligarchies; we accepted new waves of immigrants only to keep cheap labor coming in as fuel for the machine. We've suppressed the rights of African-Americans, women, and poor folks. Imprisoning Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps in WWII? Doesn't that count?

Once, we stood foursquare for the rule of law. Now we demolish inconvenient agreements we once promoted - the Geneva, nuclear nonproliferation and ABM treaties, the International Criminal Court - and thereby encourage others to follow suit.
We have stood foursquare for the rule of law when it has benefitted our rulers. We have said, "we are the law" ever since we created The Monroe Doctrine.

Once, America's word was good. Today - after deceits ranging from WMD, to promised but withdrawn U.N. votes, to shameful lies about former football star Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan - we are distrusted.
Short memory here. In the not so distant past, we abdicated the Versailles Treaty, were victimized by FDR's deceit at Pearl Harbor, and watched South Americans pelt Nixon. Remember Iran-Contra? Of course, long before that, we were breaking every promise we made as we crushed and slaughtered the indigenous peoples here.

Once, America stood tall against colonialism. Today, with invasion excuses falling like dominoes, most of the world sees us as just another old-fashioned imperialist predator.
Well, pardon me . . . but what about The Philipines, Cuba, the Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, and military bases in every corner of the world? Of course, right at the get-go, as soon as we were no longer someone else's colonies, we in turn looked west and colonized every inch of what is now the US.

Once, we stood for due process of law. Now our President creates his own prisons and courts and denies the accused long sacred rights - to habeas corpus, an attorney, a speedy trial judged by peers, knowledge of the crime charged, and more.
Abraham Lincoln and FDR, both highly esteemed, suspended all this stuff in the name of "national security."

Once, we were a model for civil liberties. Now, Mr. Bush authorizes himself to conduct illegal wiretaps on Americans while his government monitors everyone from vegans to Quakers, then snoops in libraries to see what we're reading.
Our government and organizations at least tacitly condoned by our government (ever hear of the Pinkertons, for example?) have been screwing with the rights and liberties of subsets of the citizenry for hundreds of years: strikes crushed; peoples' movements infiltrated and manipulated; our water, air, and land poisoned; African-Americans, indigenous peoples, people of diverse sexuality, the mentally ill, and women all enslaved and/or imprisoned and/or executed. Some model, David.
I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point. Mr Green's concept of "americanism" seems indelibly rooted in "The Andy Griffith Show" and Disneyland. Either he has never read a history book or he is amnesiac about everything that went down before Doubleduh woke up in the White House.

I see "americanism" very clearly as a an illness born in a dream of "manifest destiny" and seemingly endless resources. The cataracts of greed, racism, narcissism, and ignorance have morphed into a national glaucoma. Those of us who still have the eyes to see are marginalized, even vilified, when we shout to the blind the reality they can no longer see.

But maybe it doesn't matter, this terrible blindness . . . I wouldn't even bother with making braille ballots for the '08 elections. There'll only be one candidate and its name will be something like JohnHillaryAlRussHowardMcCainRodhamGore-Kerry.

George Bush is not at war with americanism. He's just the latest general in the war americanism has waged against the rest of the world for many, many years. In their disingenuity, The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang knows well the answer to their question, "Why do they hate us so much?" It's time dreamers like Mr Green figure out that The Idiocracy is old and has been creating the conditions under which we suffer for a long, long time.

Try this (but maybe not at home): Google "americanism".

UPDATE: Sometimes I wonder if Manuel Valezuela and I are the same person. He published "The Pestilent Presidency" at Valenzuela's Veritas yesterday. Excerpts:
The continued dismantling of America’s very essence, the decimation of its founding core and its evolving surface, has been a product of both purposeful malevolence as well as incompetent ignorance. While the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans continue to deteriorate, each day losing more knowledge, freedom, democracy and economic survivability – though with many remaining ignorant or blinded to their actual plight – the other America, that of the elite and the corporate world, has risen in exponential fashion to take the complete reigns of power away from the rest of us. As a result, the America of times past, where the People still ruled, has given way to the America of tomorrow, a corporatist ruled land where citizens are pawns and corporations kings . . .

Millions upon millions of citizens never stood a chance as the decrepit state of American education gutted all semblance of knowledge, our innate ability to learn manipulated instead to follow, obey and never question, with schools slowly but surely creating a nation of soldier ants and worker bees, teaching us historical propaganda and patriotic drivel, programming us to place unyielding devotion to flag and country, instructing us about the vast consortium of lies and fictions that comprise American history. We were brainwashed into always placing blind faith and trust in government and leaders, told to never question or dissent or protest the actions rising out of Washington.

Over years of anemic education, lacking the tools that makes the human mind free, devoid of reason, logic and analytical thought, with parental roles having become extinct, indoctrinated, taught and reared by the warm glow of television and the corporate world that controls it, our brain waves reprogrammed to the fictions and fantasy radiating from our monitors, with the brainwashing and controlling manipulations of our church, and with our minds becoming the receptive antennas to the voices and opinion of paid talking heads and media hacks tens of millions of us became, naturally, the very essence of the automatons our upbringing had systemically sculpted . . .

Nothing has gone right since the curse called Bush entered office. His is a Pestilent Presidency, a rotting manifestation of corruption and immorality, a fraud and conniver, a most unethical human being incapable of honor or integrity. When we should be running away from scum such as this we instead allow him to steal two elections and remain the pestilence that he is, creating a diseased society devoid of the freedom it once possessed and the civil rights it fought so hard to attain.

George W. Bush is a corporatist without intelligence, an unknowing, incurious, detached and ignorant human being, a puppet to much brighter individuals, a tool for the corporate world. He does not care for the unenlightened souls that see him as Dear Leader, nor the soldiers he sends to either die or sacrifice mental health. In reality, he does not care about America, at least the America of you, me and everyone else. He is changing our lands, our society, giving our government to corporations and the corporatists that run them. In time, and with reflection, after the hypnosis of this most devastating of Presidents has passed, he will be seen for what he presently is, namely, the worst person to ever occupy the White House, becoming, through infamy, the mistake that was and the lesson learned . . .
Other than the fact that Valenzuela targets Bush as the problem more than he blames us as the source of The Idiocracy, this is a must read. I love this cat's passion.

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Dumb Duh Dumb Dumb

From CounterPunch's Paul Craig Roberts, "Blind Ignorance". Clips:
Two recent polls, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll and a New York Times/CBS News poll, indicate why Bush is getting away with impeachable offenses. Half of the US population is incapable of acquiring, processing and understanding information.

Much of the problem is the media itself, which serves as a disinformation agency for the Bush administration. Fox "News" and right-wing talk radio are the worst, but with propagandistic outlets setting the standard for truth and patriotism, all of the media is affected to some degree.

Despite the media's failure, about half the population has managed to discern that the US invasion of Iraq has not made them safer and that the Bush administration's assault on civil liberties is not a necessary component of the war on terror. The problem, thus, lies with the absence of due diligence on the part of the other half of the population . . .

It is extraordinary that anyone would think Americans are safer as a result of Bush invading two Muslim countries and constantly threatening two more with military attack. The invasions and threats have caused a dramatic swing in Muslim sentiment away from the US.
Prior to Bush's invasion of Iraq, a large majority of Muslims had a favorable opinion of America. Now only about 5 percent do.

A number of US commanders in Iraq and many Middle East experts have told the American public that the three year-old war in Iraq is serving both to recruit and to train terrorists for al Qaeda, which has grown many times its former size. Moreover, the US military has concluded that al Qaeda has succeeded in having its members elected to the new Iraqi government . . .

And now with the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian election, we see the total failure of Bush's Middle Eastern policy. Bush has succeeded in displacing secular moderates from Middle Eastern governments and replacing them with Islamic extremists. It boggles the mind that this disastrous result makes Americans feel safer!

What does it say for democracy that half of the American population is unable to draw a rational conclusion from unambiguous facts?
Justin Raimondo, at Antiwar.com rightly assigns the "stupid is as stupid does" responsibility ribbon in "Hamas, Son of Isreal". Snip:
Amid all the howls of pain and gnashing of teeth over the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, one fact remains relatively obscure, albeit highly relevant: Israel did much to launch Hamas as an effective force in the occupied territories. If ever there was a clear case of "blowback," then this is it. As Richard Sale pointed out in a piece for UPI:

"Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. Israel 'aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),' said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic [and International] Studies. Israel's support for Hamas 'was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,' said a former senior CIA official."
Sound familiar, kiddies? Anyone? Anyone? Rummy and Saddam in the '80s?

And the plot, as they say, sickens. Charles Sullivan, at OpEd News, tells us that we are "Standing at the brink". Excerpts:
Let us understand that we are witnessing history in the process of repeating itself, as it so often does. Our ignorance of unwritten history is what dooms us to repeat it. So much of written history has been fictionalized to make martyrs of the worst kind of human beings. What is happening in America today has parallels to events that unfolded in other nations in modern history; and always with catastrophic results for humankind. Most notable, perhaps, was the rise to power of Nazism embodied by Adolph Hitler last century.

Norman Livergood has summed up the American predicament most accurately and succinctly.

"American citizens must realize that the Democratic Party leaders have now caved in to the Republican Party.

The so called “compromise” was nothing more than an abject capitulation by the Democrats to Republican threats. The Neanderthal, right-wing, reactionary judges Bush demanded will now be confirmed.

We are in Germany, 1933. The so-called moderate German leaders have deluded themselves into believing they can “control” Hitler by capitulation to him—with the connivance of Goering, his henchman has seized all power through the “Enabling Act,” destroying the Reichstag (House and Senate). Hitler has suspended elections and appointed himself Dictator.

The reign of terror has begun!"

Norman Livergood’s words should sound hauntingly familiar. They should alarm any wakeful citizen and make their skin crawl with repulsion. The people, made ignorant by the aide of a condescending commercial media that is a servant to power, reassuringly whisper to themselves that this cannot be happening to us, not here. That was then, this is now. A different climate existed in Nazi Germany than exists here in America. Our president and his coterie are our protectors, as well as defenders of freedom and democracy. They are people of faith, church-goers. We must place our faith in them as servants to humanity.

How, then, do we find ourselves in the condition of a rat inescapably suffocating within the coils of a Boa Constrictor, gasping its final breath? The end is coming and it is coming soon, if we do not awaken from our collective stupor. The life is being strangled out of us and we do not even struggle to free ourselves. We think we are a free people with inalienable rights, as the reptile prepares to swallow its prey. Naiveté, as well as ignorance, can get us killed.
So now that we done gotcher 'tenshun, yuh dumb f***s, let me sell yuh sum right smart stuff. Even if you don't buy the books, please do note their publication dates, aiight?


Hmph! You still here? Ok, a couple of news notes:


A "New Politics for Amateurs"?

In a January Prospect Magazine (UK) piece, "Immature Democrats", author Gerry Stoker points out that "[p]olitics has been unable to withstand the assault of naive individualism". Snips & clips (I've added emphasis):
Discontent expresses itself in two main forms: disengagement from politics and frustrated activism. There are many culprits: politicians themselves, the media, the decline of transformative big ideas and the left/right axis, overcentralisation, the power of entrenched interests, the self-absorbed citizen and many others.

Yet it is hard to establish that the behaviour of politicians or the performance of political systems has declined compared to some golden era. And the evidence does not support the idea that citizens are, in general, less engaged.

A far more promising explanation is to be found in the claim that a number of misunderstandings of the political process have taken root in mature democracies. The misunderstandings arise from the spread of market-based consumerism and individualism. Politics has been infected by one of the dominant myths of our time: that the goal of life is self-actualisation. Politics as an exercise in collective decision-making has been unable to withstand the assault of a naive individualism. The idea that it is only through individual choice that we can express ourselves has reinforced a negative view of politics compared with other forms of decision-making that we experience. People have disengaged from politics and become frustrated in their activism because they do not understand the fundamental nature of politics—that in the end it involves the collective imposition of decisions, demands a complex communication process and generally produces messy compromise . . .
Applying Mr Stoker's insights to current events in the US, what do we make of the following:

  • there is no viable, organized "movement of opposition", making up for the failures of liberalism/progressivism, against the march of neoconservatism and fascism/corporatism

  • the contest for the Democratic Party's nomination of its '08 presidential candidate has already begun in earnest and the best they can do is Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton. No new ideas, no new policies, no new vibrant leaders. Barak Obama? Gimme a break! Dr Dean should be called Dr Dud. The party remains unreformed. Kerry's erstwhile filibuster of Scalito is nothing but a callous display of the same sort of cynical opportunism honed to perfection by The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang

  • in the face of an astonishing, obvious, and unabated record of criminality, constitutional circumvention and subversion, and gross negligence in our government'sexecutivee and legislative branches, the possibility of impeachment is little more than a dream. (And if impeaching and convicting Mr Bush were to become a reality, what would it change? Dick Cheney would then be President. I'd rather have the sitting dick head in there 'til late '07. If you think for a minute that these guys have the power and moral fortitude to bring both of these guys down, you been watchin too much Saturday mornin ABC)

  • even the "smartest" agitators on the left rail against The Gang's "incompetence, refusing to concede that these folks know exactly what they're doing. What will it take for people like Molly Ivins to understand how really bad things are? How too late it is for a system with advanced cancer to repair itself with some cute new faces in Washington?

This is the place where I state unequivocally that (1) I see radical action as the only bright choice and that (2) I reject totally the option of violence - against either humans or property - as an acceptable option. Period. Call me what you will, but the most immature and ineffective course toward lasting, positive change is violence. All it begets is more violence. Hamas, for example, will be effective only if it holds the truce and forces the US/Israel Zionists to the table by rejecting jihad and maximizing its service and compassion for the poor and war-ravaged peoples in the Middle Est. Hamas has an opportunity no body can afford to squander with suicide bombs

I hope you can see that the only pathways to peace and security in the near and far terms must be rooted in intentional actions and communities on smaller, local scales. Those of us who are true radicals must abandon not only the folly of Democratic/Republican Party politics, but the narcissistic, hubristic, and divisive attitudes and actions that have led to the invisibility of the far left.

The "government" is nearly gone - devoured by post-capitalism. We must accept that we let it happen. We have let ourselves be frog-boiled. We begged to be bought off with the silly trinkets and snake oil foisted upon us. It's gonna get a whole bunch worse - but maybe we can learn to take care of each other again. If we don't, the suffering will be unbearable.


Another Reason for Iraq Occupation Goes "Poof!"

Thanks to shapeshifter at GNN for the pointer to "Iraqi insurgents unite against al-Qa'ida" in The Australian. Clips:
BAGHDAD: Iraqi insurgents in the Sunni city of Ramadi have turned against their al-Qa'ida allies after a bomb attack killed 80 people, sparking tit-for-tat assassinations.

Residents yesterday said at least three prominent figures on both sides were among those killed after local insurgent groups formed an alliance against al-Qa'ida, blaming it for massacring police recruits in Ramadi on January 5.

"There was a meeting right after the bombings," one Ramadi resident said, speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals.

"Tribal leaders and political figures gathered to form the Anbar Revolutionaries to fight al-Qa'ida in Anbar and force them to leave the province.

"Since then, there has been all-out war between them." . . .

Iraqi newspapers quoted a statement from six armed groups on Monday announcing they had united to form the "People's Cell" to confront al-Qa'ida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and preserve security in the Anbar province.

The statement condemned "armed operations which target innocents" and affirmed "a halt to co-operation with al-Qa'ida".

In a further sign of the rifts emerging within Iraq's insurgency, Zarqawi has also stepped aside as the head of a new council of radical groups in favour of an Iraqi, according to a posting on a website used by al-Qa'ida.


From FARK: "If you run a conservative blog with a comments section, and the media does an article that mentions your blog, you can be sure they're going to pick the one comment among 500 that's from the foulmouthed raving loony". Heh . . . here's a link to the original article at NRO.

Some predictions for '06 from The BEAST (er, well, at least from Andrew Gullerstein, who kinda looks like a beast):
The U. N. will officially report a state of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. The release of the report will be delayed several years over debates in comma placement.

In a desperate effort to stop us from destroying the world, Canada and the EU will cooperate in an “education relief” effort, dropping millions of easy-to-read pamphlets outlining the main points of our constitution and legal structure over America’s heartland. Nobody will read them . . .

The US Gulf coast will once again be battered with a series of powerful hurricanes; the experienced Michael Brown will spring into action, consulting FEMA on the proper wine complement for duck a l’orange . . .

The second coming of Christ will receive surprisingly meager publicity, due to a scheduling conflict with the season finale of “Desperate Housewives. ”To revive interest, Jehovah will write a sordid tell-all follow up to the bible, titled “On the Eighth Day I Invented three-ways. ” Kabbalah will see a decline in membership, as it is revealed to be just as, if not more retarded as every other faith . . .
Of course, remembering what's really important, The Onion has a prediction (of sorts)for Super Bowl Extra Large:
Report: Colts Poised For Biggest Upset In Super Bowl History

DETROIT—Coaches, front-office executives, and players around the NFL all agree that an Indianapolis victory in Detroit next Sunday would result in the greatest underdog story in Super Bowl history, if not in all of sports. "After losing to Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs, for the Colts to come into Detroit and beat them—as well as the Panthers, their nominal opponent—that would almost certainly be the comeback of the century," said Bills general manager Marv Levy. "No one would ever dare say that Manning or Dungy couldn't win the big one after that. Yes, it's a long shot—the longest—but with the Steelers and Carolina concentrating on beating each other, Indy is perfectly poised to come from literally out of nowhere to complete their all-time greatest triumph." At press time, no member of the Colts would comment on the possibility of a Super Bowl victory, further fueling speculation of a colossal upset in the making.
Maybe not so fucking funny is this quote from Deputy White House Liar Trent Duffy defending The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang's refusal to cough up obviously incriminalatin' Katrina papers: "The White House and the administration are cooperating with both the House and Senate. But we have also maintained the president's ability to get advice and have conversations with his top advisers that remain confidential."


The Beast in All of Us (UPDATED)

Thank you, Lab Kat (reeeEEOOOOoooww!!), for the pointer to "The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2005". I absolutely love it. Geraldo Rivera holds up the list at #50 and Pat Robertson (our punishment by God for masturbating so much) crowns it at #1. Tom "Top Gum" Cruise makes the list at #40 - I would have put him closer to the top (his perpetual smirk is more insidious than the preznichimp's). Hillary "Dennis Rodman" Clinton is #30, but I'd have her holding hands with Cruise at around #15 or so. #22 is about right for Jesse Jackson, but who gives a fuck about him any more? Oprah Winfrey is #20. Hmmmmmmmm, how about reconstituting her as a couch for Tom and Hillary to sit on, while Dr Phil skewers all three of them? Hee, hee . . . God makes the list at #13 and is sentenced to "Forever listening to an unending stream of idiotic, mundane prayers uttered by the dumbest, most inarticulate people in His creation."

Here's my favorite:
4. You

Charges: Silently enabling and contributing to the irreversible destruction of your planet. Absolving yourself of your responsibility to do anything about it that your immediate neighbors don’t. Assuming that it’s normal behavior to spend several hours each day totally inert and staring into a cathode ray tube. Substituting antidepressants for physical motion. Caring more about the personal relationships of people you will never meet than your own. Shrugging your shoulders at the knowledge that your government is populated by criminal liars intent on fooling you into impoverished, helpless submission. Cheering this process on.

Exhibit A: You don’t even know who your congressman is.

Sentence: Deathbed realization that your entire life was an unending series of stupid mistakes and wasted opportunities, a priceless gift of potential extravagantly squandered, for which you deserve nothing but scorn or, at best, indifference, and a cold, meaningless demise.

(useless creep that I am, I ripped the image of Satan Pat "This" Robertson off from Pam's House Blend. So sue me. She probably swiped it from someone else, anyway.)

UPDATE: Why didn't Rummy make the list? Raw Story points to "Study: Army Stretched to Breaking Point". Clips:
Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended . . .

Rumsfeld has argued that the experience of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has made the Army stronger, not weaker . . .
Although I continue to maintain that The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang never intended to actually win this war, but only to create chaos and destroy Iraq, it looks like I might have to concede a bit, but in this area only, on the "incompetence" issue. Meanwhile, also at Raw Story, "Whistleblower suspended by Pentagon oversight committee". What is truly loathsome about Donald Rumsfeld is that he makes big bucks when other folks get sick and/or die.

Just one last thrust of my friend jhin gram's mighty sword of peace: You must know that the institutional military is of little consequence to Rummy and the rest of these Dr Strangelove cockroaches. First, who cares about taking care of the US Armed Forces when you've got Blackwater USA, CACI, DynCorp and the rest? Second, the Masters of War are hoping DARPA will continue to cook up technology and systems that will eliminate the need for a "labor intensive" war machine. Try the ultra-slick DARPA/SPO page, for example. Or read "Defense robotics industry hopes to spring to life in Pa." in the Mercury News.


Hope Springs Eternal: Just Not in the US

With all the crap building up and surrounding and smothering us poor folks here in the US, it's easy to overlook some of the good stuff that's happening on the planet.

Evo's election in Bolivia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf victory in Liberia, and Michelle Bachelet's win in Chile are all heartening.

Pakistan's loud rebuke to the US about that idiotic airstrike, as well as Mohamed ElBaradei's refusal to be bullied by The Axle of Evil on Iran nukes . . . good stuff.

Here's one I really like, from Der Spiegel, "The Quiet Revolution: Morocco's King Aims To Build a Modern Islamic Democracy". Excerpts:
Morocco's 42-year-old King Mohammed VI has discovered religion as a means of modernizing his society -- and progress through piety seems to be the order of the day. By granting new rights to women and strengthening civil liberties, the ruler of this country of 30 million on Africa's northern edge, which is 99 percent Muslim, plans to democratize Morocco through a tolerant interpretation of the Koran.

Morocco's 350-year-old dynasty, the world's oldest next to the Japanese imperial dynasty, claims to be directly descended from the prophet Mohammed. And as "Amir al-Muminin," or leader of the faithful, the country's ruler enjoys absolute authority.

The Conseil Supérieur des Oulémas, or council of religious scholars, which the king installed a year and a half ago, has been issuing fatwas on the most pressing questions of the 21st century -- and, surprisingly, they've been well-received by both young people and hardened Islamists. If the king's reform plan succeeds, Morocco could become a model of democratic Islam.

Five decades after his country declared its independence from its French and Spanish colonial rulers and six years after the death of his father, Hassan II, Mohammed VI is trying to achieve a delicate balance between thousands of years of Islamic tradition and the demands of a globalized world.

Eight weeks ago Mohammed VI, as Morocco's "citizen king" and "first servant," addressed his "dear people" during festivities to celebrate the anniversary of his grandfather's return from exile. "The path we have irrevocably chosen," said Mohammed, "is to strengthen civil rights for the benefit of all Moroccans - whom I view as equals, regardless of their status." The foreign dignitaries in attendance, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, praised the course that the government of Prime Minister Driss Jetou has taken under the king's leadership . . .

The king's newest initiative, which calls for allowing women to be trained as imams in the future, has also met with the Islamists' approval.

Traditionally women are not permitted to speak out during prayer, so as not to "provoke" the men, explains Fatima al-Kabbaj, a graduate of the time-honored Islamic theological University of Karaouine in Fez and the first woman in the 16-member Council of Religious Scholars. Kabbaj instructed the king and his siblings in the laws of faith. She says that the monarch has recognized that women are better able to gain the trust of the illiterate, most of whom are also women. Besides, says Kabbaj, devout women are also more effective with the rural population and Morocco's four million poor than inaccessible imams . . .

Another tool in Mohammed's battle for the souls of his subjects is the "National Initiative for Development." Although officially more than half of the government's budget is spent on social projects, Morocco is still ranked 124th on the United Nations Human Development Index. With a budget of just under €25 million in immediate aid and another billion euros between 2006 and 2010, the government hopes to reduce poverty by half within the next five years.

If the king has his way, Moroccans will liberate themselves from the slogans and handouts of radical Islamist preachers. Although they may represent a threat to Mohammed VI's reform policies, the only Islamist party seen as capable of succeeding in next year's parliamentary election is the Justice and Development Party . . .
As the poverty of Americanism is exposed, it's good to know that some other humans are struggling to construct, rather than destroy.



OK . . . let's start with the fact that "Doofus Dan" Bartlett, on Today this morning, said, "Any suggestions by critics or anyone else to suggest the president is doing something nefarious with Abramoff is absurd."

No. Sorry, there, Danny Boy. All you have to do is look up "absurd" in the dictionary and you see a group picture of The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang. You want absurd? I'll give yuh absurd, ovah deah. Witness:

"Potent Mexican Meth Floods In as States Curb Domestic Variety". Clips:
In the seven months since Iowa passed a law restricting the sale of cold medicines used to make methamphetamine, seizures of homemade methamphetamine laboratories have dropped to just 20 a month from 120. People once terrified about the neighbor's house blowing up now walk up to the state's drug policy director, Marvin Van Haaften, at his local Wal-Mart to thank him for making them safer.

But Mr. Van Haaften, like officials in other states with similar restrictions, is now worried about a new problem: the drop in home-cooked methamphetamine has been met by a new flood of crystal methamphetamine coming largely from Mexico.

Sometimes called ice, crystal methamphetamine is far purer, and therefore even more highly addictive, than powdered home-cooked methamphetamine, a change that health officials say has led to greater risk of overdose. And because crystal methamphetamine costs more, the police say thefts are increasing, as people who once cooked at home now have to buy it . . .

"The Other Big Brother". Excerpts:
The Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far . . .

The demonstration seemed harmless enough. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. They were there to protest the corporation's supposed "war profiteering." The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees as they left work. The idea, according to organizer Scott Parkin, was to call attention to allegations that the company was overcharging on a food contract for troops in Iraq. "It was tongue-in-street political theater," Parkin says . . .

But that's not how the Pentagon saw it. To U.S. Army analysts at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the peanut-butter protest was regarded as a potential threat to national security. Created three years ago by the Defense Department, CIFA's role is "force protection"—tracking threats and terrorist plots against military installations and personnel inside the United States. In May 2003, Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy Defense secretary, authorized a fact-gathering operation code-named TALON—short for Threat and Local Observation Notice—that would collect "raw information" about "suspicious incidents." The data would be fed to CIFA to help the Pentagon's "terrorism threat warning process," according to an internal Pentagon memo . . .

"Pakistan PM: CIA attack reports 'bizarre'". Snips:
Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Sunday ridiculed as "bizarre" a U.S. report that senior al Qaeda leaders were killed in a CIA attack on a home along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"There is no evidence, as of half an hour ago, that there were any other people there," Aziz said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"The area does see movement of people from across the border. But we have not found one body or one shred of evidence that these people were there." . . .
See Dan? Now that's what absurdity looks like. You also might wanna look in the mirror, you twit.

(artwork © annoy.com)


It's Raining Two-Headed Dogs

A welcome to a new voice. Michael Miller at Informed Dissent points us to a relatively new blog, Stop Me Before I Vote Again. I particularly like their header/banner: "Dedicated to the deconstruction of the Democratic Party. The American Left may not be much, but it won't be anything at all until it ditches the Democrats." Be sure to read "Orthrus, mascot of the two-party system" posted on January 9th.

Speaking of two-headed dogs . . . It appears that John "What? Me President?" Kerry, who bailed out of the last election faster and sneakier than Bremer left Baghdad, is now blogging on dKos. Apparently JFK Lite is calling his diary "Real Hardball". I wouldn't be talking about balls if I were you, son. Btw, if you're ever curious about why I don't link to Atrios or Kos, read the comments on little Johnnie's first post.

Have you no shame? It's pretty clear that I don't have any use for the Democratic Party and most of its cowards members. But it does occur to me that the other guys have a penchant for witch hunts that the Dems don't share. I'm old enough to remember watching the McCarthy "hearings" . . . and can tell you that my father went through some black-listing stuff as a teacher in California in the 1950's because of his decidedly leftist leanings. He wasn't a member of the CPUSA, but he probably would have been if he didn't suspect Soviet control and funding.
     At any rate, Peter LaVenia reports that the bastards are still at it in "Odors of a Witch Hunt" at BrickBurner. Short clip:
A conservative alumni group at UCLA has offered $100 to students who will compile a list of the "dirty thirty" most radical left-wing professors at the school. As a left-wing graduate student/adjunct professor, I'll offer the caveat that I (may) be biased in this summation - but isn't ideological and philosophical controversy the foundation of education?
Pretty creepy, n'est-ce pas?

More chuckles from our brain-damaged prednit . . . Reality Based Nation has a transcript of an interchange between Doubleduh and a citizen at a Virginia town meeting in "Some Bush 'mmm-doy' highlights from today". I'm not gonna clip it here because, well, frankly, it makes me too queasy. But do read it y'own sef 'cuz there are a couple of good posts before it.

Sorry, gotta cry. Later.

(image is photo of "Liberty Crying", © 2002 , a clay sculpture by Mireille Lemarchand)


War on Terror or on Minorities?

The Minority Rights Group International has released its first "State of the World's Minorities" report.

Here are are some excerpts from Aljazeera's article about the report:
Violence and repression directed against the world's minorities have struck hardest in Iraq, according to a report presented at the United Nations.

Iraq topped the report's list of areas where minorities are under threat, scoring the highest total of a combination of factors which include "major armed conflicts" and "rise of factionalised elites." . . .

Mark Lattimer, the group's executive director, told a press conference on Thursday: "In every world region, minorities and indigenous peoples have been excluded, repressed and, in many cases, killed by their governments. In war today, the targeting of minorities is no longer the exception, but has become the norm." . . .

In Iraq, the top concerns were the violent repression of Sunni Muslims and others considered opponents of the US-supported government, and the forced displacement or intimidation of smaller minorities, it said.

While Lattimer acknowledged that Iraq's parliamentary elections were a huge step toward democracy, he said: "the likely result is a political pattern in Iraq which shows an increased division between different ethnic or religious groups."

He said it has continued with one-sided criticism of insurgent killings of majority Shia but a failure to criticise human rights violations against minority Sunni civilians "by the governing forces in Iraq." . . .
I guess the great thing about the US is that it can foster this trend in so many countries and regions at the same time. As goes New Orleans, so goes Mosul, eh?

(photo © aljazeera)

Real Nowhere Men . . . and Women

In a post yesterday at NewsHog, Cernig asks the question, "Where are all the progressive bloggers and pundits who should be writing about Iran?" I'll answer that in a moment, but let him make some excellent points first:
Sure it's easy and fun to write about the Abramoff scandals or Snoopgate but neither of those are going to kill American citizens! Yet the progressive grassroots seem to have left the field open to the hawks of the Right and the hawks in the Democrat leadership. . . .

Who does Condi Rice think she is to be demanding anything of anyone over Iran? Has she forgotten that she was the one who ruled out American involvement in negotiations when the EU3 and Iran most wanted U.S. input? Even the rightwingers who normally believe that the sun rises and sets only at Mad King George's behest are pissed at his administration's utter lack of open involvement in negotiations, Condi and pals being content to pull strings and exert pressure behind the scenes . . .

So just maybe progressives should be listening to the voice of my favourite Texan libertarian:

Iran was the birthplace of Western civilization. It is a sophisticated nation of almost 200 million well-educated inhabitants. So why do Belgium and Portugal have more to say about global affairs than Iran? Because we continue to perceive this world power as if it were an ill-mannered colonial stepchild. It is not. Iran is going to be one of the world’s most influential players in the 21st century and the sooner we realize this the better. Instead continuing a feeble and fruitless policy of trying to keep Iran a eunuch nation, we should be intent on trying to help develop and direct Iran peaceably into its rightful place as one of the preeminent players in world affairs.

In other words change the Iranian regime by changing the actual regime rather than swapping it for another which would be even worse.

Just because this option doesn't involve dropping bombs on anyone it will be decried as "wimpish" and "appeasing". That is more an indictment of the mindset that believes all tough choices can be answered with mayhem than of the option itself.
Steve . . . the answer to your question is "nowhere", man. "Progressive"'s just another word for nuthin left to lose.

May I suggest that the Republican Party needs a war against Iran to justify (1) using nuclear weapons in a battlefield and (2) further limiting (or just plain eliminating) popular constitutional safeguards and rights. The Democrats need a war in Iran to justify their continued existence.



Creating Monsters

I've written time and time again in these pages that a fundamental strategy of The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang is to create and recreate the conditions of endless war. These are not "incompetent people", as Molly Ivins and others maintain. This is planned. It not only keeps them in business, but gives them opportunities to grab unlimited power in the name of "national security".

Now, it seems, they're playing their next card from this black stench of a deck. In a UPI story today, "Iraq war could create a new bin Laden", Peter Bergen and Steve Coll, both strong terrorism experts, analysts, and authors, claim that The Gang's actions are not reducing the chances of terrorism, but increasing it. Clips:
While working as a terrorism analyst for CNN in 1997, Bergen became the first Western television reporter to interview Osama bin Laden. In his new book, "The Osama bin Laden I Know," Bergen uses interviews with family, schoolmates and comrades-in-arms to trace the development of bin Laden's religious and political motivations. Speaking at the New America Foundation on Jan. 17, Bergen called the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan a catalyst in the life of the al-Qaida leader and suggested that the American invasion of Iraq would mark a similar turning point in the lives of future terrorists . . .

Consequently, both authors believe that a practical mechanism for dealing with bin Laden is simply not available. From Bergen's point of view, bin Laden has two choices at this point, "He can disappear into the history books and never say anything again or he can remain in the game and risk the possibility of revealing himself." At this point in the development and disintegration of al-Qaida, Bergen believes that bin Laden has carved out a role for himself as the elder statesmen, playing a role in the media battle . . .

A new generation of terrorists, such as the younger second-in-command of al-Qaida, Ayman Zawahiri, is fully engaged in the digital age. Jihadist Web sites can now offer information to multiple points in time and space while still waging a traditional guerilla war. "All policy that hopes to succeed in that space," said Coll, "must participate in that space and not operate on the 1950s model that if we build more and bigger towers than we can defeat them."
Of course, since one bin Laden has served The Gang well, the notion of several must make them drool. Ooops, sorry - they drool just fine anyway.


"Progressives'" True Colors

Found this at TAPPED . . .
This may seem like one of those small intra-New York left controversies, and yet it is the kind of thing that happens so frequently in so-called progressive circles around the country that it's worth noting, because it's just this kind of thing that makes people wonder if the men of the left actually prefer being a small, insular clique of out-of-power individuals above adopting the values they publicly espouse.

The "Saving Our Democracy" conference, sponsored by The Nation Institute and The New Democracy Project and scheduled for Jan. 21, has somehow managed to arrange a forum about the future of democracy in which only two of the 24 scheduled speakers are female -- and in so doing begun a minor controversy. Nation columnist Katha Pollitt wrote the organizers this agitated letter:

Dear Organizers of the New Democracy conference,

I notice that only two speakers (in 25!) at the upcoming conference are women. How does that fit the project of rescuing democracy? Even congress--even the supreme court! -- has a better male-female ratio than that. Please don't reply that you asked a lot of women and they said no. The world is full of women who are the equals and more of the men in your lineup. There are women who would do credit to every topic you list. Moreover, as things stand, you have no one to specifically address reproductive rights, abortion rights, the rollback of feminist gains, 'family values' as an attack on women, or the specific role of gender politics in the rise of the Christian and Republican right. That topic isn't even on your agenda.

I am just disgusted that in 2006 women are still invisible to so-called progressives. Maybe that's one reason they keep losing elections.

Sincerely yours,
Katha Pollitt . . .
I really don't need to comment any further, do I?

(photo © BBC)


"a broken rabble led by brutal warlords"

By way of truthout, "Environment in Crisis: 'We Are Past the Point of No Return'" by Michael McCarthy in The Independent UK. Clips:
Thirty years ago, the scientist James Lovelock worked out that the Earth possessed a planetary-scale control system which kept the environment fit for life. He called it Gaia, and the theory has become widely accepted. Now, he believes mankind's abuse of the environment is making that mechanism work against us. His astonishing conclusion - that climate change is already insoluble, and life on Earth will never be the same again.

The world has already passed the point of no return for climate change, and civilisation as we know it is now unlikely to survive, according to James Lovelock, the scientist and green guru who conceived the idea of Gaia - the Earth which keeps itself fit for life.

In a profoundly pessimistic new assessment, published in today's Independent, Professor Lovelock suggests that efforts to counter global warming cannot succeed, and that, in effect, it is already too late.

The world and human society face disaster to a worse extent, and on a faster timescale, than almost anybody realises, he believes. He writes: " Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable."

In making such a statement, far gloomier than any yet made by a scientist of comparable international standing, Professor Lovelock accepts he is going out on a limb. But as the man who conceived the first wholly new way of looking at life on Earth since Charles Darwin, he feels his own analysis of what is happening leaves him no choice. He believes that it is the self-regulating mechanism of Gaia itself - increasingly accepted by other scientists worldwide, although they prefer to term it the Earth System - which, perversely, will ensure that the warming cannot be mastered . . .

In his book's concluding chapter, he writes: "What should a sensible European government be doing now? I think we have little option but to prepare for the worst, and assume that we have passed the threshold."

And in today's Independent he writes: "We will do our best to survive, but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of [CO2] emissions. The worst will happen ..."

He goes on: "We have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realise how little time is left to act, and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can." He believes that the world's governments should plan to secure energy and food supplies in the global hothouse, and defences against the expected rise in sea levels. The scientist's vision of what human society may ultimately be reduced to through climate change is "a broken rabble led by brutal warlords."
We all better get very, very real and think about the implications of this. You wanna worry about who the next US preznut gonna be? Or do you wanna begin to create communities and systems to help each other?

Still More "Success" in Iraq

A couple of items from The Raw Story this morning . . .
(WaPo) "USAID Paper Details Security Crisis in Iraq" by Walter Pincus.

The U.S. Agency for International Development paints a dire and detailed picture of the Iraq security situation in its request for contractors to bid on its $1.32 billion, 28-month project to help stabilize 10 major Iraqi cities.

The USAID program, outlined in a Jan. 2 paper, envisions development between 2006 and 2008 of partnerships in cities that make up more than half of Iraq's population. Those cities would include Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and Najaf. The project, which to date has only $30 million of the proposed funds, will try to reduce violence by creating jobs, revitalizing community infrastructure, and mitigating ethnic and religious conflicts . . .

The USAID paper describes some findings that in the past were carried only in classified briefings, congressional sources said. For example, the paper states that external fighters and groups such as al Qaeda "are gaining in number and notoriety as significant actors," and that most suicide bombers are coming from "Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region."

The breakdown of Iraqi society and "the absence of state control and an effective police force" have let "criminal elements within Iraqi society have almost free rein," the paper states. Iraqi criminals in some cases "have aligned themselves with most of the combating groups and factions to further their aims" and Baghdad "is reportedly divided into zones controlled by organized criminal groups-clans," it states . . .
And . . .
(Seattle Times) "Islamists gain ground from American push for Mideast democracy" by Warren P. Strobel.

President Bush's efforts to spread democracy to the Middle East have strengthened Islamists across the region, posing fresh challenges for the United States, according to U.S. officials, foreign diplomats and democracy experts.

Islamist parties trounced secular opponents in recent elections in Iraq and Egypt.

Hamas, the armed Islamic Palestinian group, appears set to fare well in Palestinian parliamentary elections Jan. 25, posing a quandary for how the United States and Israel pursue peace efforts. Hamas has carried out suicide bombings against Israel and calls for the country's destruction.

In Lebanon, the Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah is part of the government for the first time.

Washington considers Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which have Iranian support, to be terrorist groups . . .

"Freedom is crawling — over broken glass," said a State Department official, scaling back the president's frequent contention that "freedom is on the march." The official requested anonymity in order to speak more frankly.

Bush and Rice rarely discuss in public the prospect that Islamists could be the prime beneficiaries of their policies.

Asked at a town-hall event Wednesday in Louisville, Ky., about the lack of separation between church and state in much of the Middle East, the president replied: "It's going to be the spread of democracy itself that shows folks the importance of separation of church and state." He cited Iraq's new constitution, which says Islam is "a basic source of legislation" but guarantees rights to the country's non-Islamic and non-Arab citizens.
Yeah, I did add the red to that. I take small, if any comfort, in the fact that he certainly said that with the customary smirk.


Just In Passing: Outrage OK, but Surprise Shouldn't Be

The latest in the growing list of failed policies and programs "implemented" by The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang is the Medicare prescription program. Molly Ivins, among others, insists on calling it another example of "incompetence". Wrong . . .

  • the point was not to win in Iraq. The point was to create chaos and pump up the war machine . . .

  • the "War on Terror" does not exist. Read Geov Parrish's interview with Chomsky. The reason? The Gang loves terror, or at least the promise of it. It keeps them in business. There is no more profitable business than war. The Dumbocrats are "keeping their powder dry" because, as always, they're terrified (pun intended) at being labelled "soft on terror." But nobody could be softer on therror than this misadministration. In fact, these sobs practice a refined and effective program of terror against the American public every day in every way.

  • the goal is not to save Social Security or make sure kids are well-educated or help our elders with affordable, accessible health care and medicine. The goal is to disable anything and everything that stands in the way of systematic fascism/corporatism.

  • the Gang cannot "govern" effectively because it never intended to govern. The goal is to disable every vestige of democratic government.

Continue to be outraged, folks. But don't be surprised. We are not governed . . . we're just fooled.

Some Short Takes on the Long View

A couple of pieces in CounterPunch caught my eye. The first is "A (Short) Congressional Honor Roll" by Dave Lindorff. Clip:
In a legislature full of gutless cowards and corporate bootlickers, that handfull of people of courage who genuinely care that the White House is sucking the life out of the Constitution like a bloated leech should be held up to public acclaim.

So here they are:

On House Resolution 635, calling for formation of a Select Committee, the co-sponsors are Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

On H.R. 636, calling for censure of President Bush, the co-sponsors are Rep. Waters, Rep. Woollsey, Rep. Rangel, and Rep. Lofgren.

On H.R. 637, calling for censure of Cheney, the same four co-sponsors of H.R. 636 are joined by Rep. Jackson Lee.

For those who want more information about the bills, I suggest going to CensureBush.org.
But where are folks like Barbara Lee, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, and Dennis Kucinich????

The other very interesting, 'though at times confusing, CounterPunch article is JoAnn Wypijewski's "What is an Antiwar Movement?" Excerpt:
. . . the political terrain on the left today is desolate, so the fact that a majority of the country opposes the war, and hundreds of organizations across the country act against it is kind of remarkable. Somehow it doesn't seem to be the best tactical approach, given the conditions, to try to destroy that by enforcing a broader agenda from on high. Should these little organizations have fora and debates etc. on the broader issues? Sure. But I don't think there's much useful to come from detailed pronunciamentoes from ANSWER and UFPJ headquarters.

It doesn't seem that we have learned enough about human nature, about exhaustion and despair and false dreams, about the power of the state to kill or dismantle opposition, about the seductiveness of capital and the fruits of co-optation, and about how all of these combine to stop the train at the point of limited liberal reform and then roll back. It would be a really limited victory to force US withdrawal from Iraq. Would it not be a victory? (Lenni Brenner seems to assume that it's only Zionism that's the real hang-up among antiwar forces; when the US leaves Iraq and it becomes a theocratic state that stones women and gays, don't you think there will be recriminations and denunciations among all those peace people now who only reluctantly have come to support the Out Now! position? There are divisions like crazy among people who oppose the war.) It might be a "limited victory" to make every Congress person who supported the war either climb down the way Murtha has or be chucked from power, but would it not be a victory all the same? Would there not be many other battles remaining? The problem is in thinking any victory is final, and therefore in believing every battle must engage every ill for that final victory.
My best find of the day, however, is this Reuters/AOL News story, "Vampire Seeks Job as Minnesota Governor". Giggles and snorts:
"Politics is a cut-throat business," said Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey, who said he plans to announce his bid for governor Friday on the ticket of the Vampyres, Witches and Pagans Party . . .

"I'm a satanist who doesn't hate Jesus," Sharkey told Reuters. "I just hate God the Father."

However, he claims to respect all religions and if elected, will post "everything from the Ten Commandments to the Wicca Reed" in government buildings.

Sharkey also pledged to execute convicted murders and child molesters personally by impaling them on a wooden pole outside the state capitol.
Since we have a werewolf as preznut, Frankenstein in the veep chair, and a congress full of zombies, I really don't have a problem with this. I mean, he sounds like just a zealous law-and-order candidate with a strange taste in beer.


Western "Growth" Model = Death

Worldwatch Institute has just released "State of the World 2006 - Special Focus: China and India". Here's a quote from the report's Forward:
The western model of growth that India and China wish to emulate is intrinsically toxic. It uses huge resources—energy and materials—and generates enormous waste. The industrialized world has mitigated the adverse impacts of wealth generation by investing huge amounts of money. But... it remains many steps behind the problems it creates. India and China have no choice but to reinvent the development trajectory.
-Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, India
Here are a couple more descriptive clips:
This year, Worldwatch Institute's annual State of the World report provides a special focus on China and India, examining the global impact as these two nations join the United States and Europe as major consumers of resources and polluters of local and global ecosystems. The report explains the critical need for both countries to "leapfrog" the technologies, policies, and even the cultures that now prevail in many western countries for the sake of global sustainability—and reports on some of the strategies that China and India are starting to implement . . .

Besides the focus on China and India, State of the World 2006 looks at actions corporations can take to be more socially responsible; examines the potential socioeconomic, health, and environmental implications of nanoscale technologies; assesses the impacts of large-scale development of biofuels on agriculture and the environment; describes mercury sources, industrial uses, and health hazards worldwide; and provides an overview of the need to safeguard freshwater ecosystems, with examples of proven approaches in cities, villages, and farming regions around the world . . .
Just one more quikie (I've added the emphasis): "If by 2030, China and India alone were to achieve a per-capita footprint equivalent to that of Japan today, together they would require a full planet earth to meet their needs."

In other words, if they do it like we've done it, "bye, bye, Mudda Oith!"


Jordan, Joshua, and Peter

Got an email from Rory O'Neill, Editor of Hazards, about Jordan Barab this morning. He's the author of the indispensible blog/newsletter Confined Space. Let me share part of it with you and encourage you to follow directions for once in your sad-assed life:
Confined Space (http://spewingforth.blogspot.com/), the world's first and probably best "blog" on workplace health and safety, has been nominated as Labourstart's International Labor Website of the Year. Jordan Barab, a long-time union health and safety specialist and campaigner, produces this inspirational news service entirely voluntarily. Confined Space provides a unique union-friendly and worker-friendly analysis of the safety news, updated daily.

I would ask you to help recognise his efforts by voting for Confined Space. All you have to do is click the link below and follow the easy and quick instructions.


This isn't about getting a trophy on the mantelpiece (there isn't one), it is about raising the profile of health and safety in the international labour movement, showing it is not a fringe concern and ensuring those in a position of influence can't just dismiss us as a bunch of technocrats. On top of that, it's about reinforcing the message to union leadership, local activists and grassroots workers that health and safety is the key organising issue. That and it is a matter of life and death.
A quick note - as of this morning, the link to Hazards was kicking out a 403. Hope it's temporary.

Joshua Frank, author of Left Out: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush has truly honored me with a link in the "Badass Blogs" list on his website BrickBurner. Joshua has written for CounterPunch, Common Dreams, Counterbias, etc. etc. etc. Read him, buy his book. Don't make me come ovah dayah!!

This reminds me that I promised someone I'd rebuild my Amazon store. Soon.

Peter Eichenberger, erstwhile columnist for the Independent Weekly in Raleigh, NC is a friend of mine. When Katrina hit, Peter poured himself into organizing a sort of "under the radar" relief effort because it was clear that FEMA, The Red Cross, and the other big box folks weren't getting it done. He and his group got ripped off.

Lotta folks woulda said "fuck it" and shrugged back into their daily routine. Peter, however, ramped it up a notch and, abandoning his three-speed on Boylan Heights, hustled right down to the Ninth Ward. If you click on this pic, you can read one of the best pieces of on-the-scene journalism you've read in quite awhile.

You can support the Common Ground Collective by clicking here.


Must Read: New Valenzuela

I hadn't seen Manuel Valenzuela, who used to write essays frequently for Axis of Logic, for quite awhile. I think the power of his writing is almost unequalled, and, well, I just agree with his passionate and well-reasoned vision and stand on fundamental issues.

Anyway, he has a current piece at Op-Ed News, "Of the Evil Empire: Imperialist Devastation of Peoples and the Evils Done in our Names". Excerpts:
Let us for a few moments put aside our lavish lifestyles of fortuitous endowment and providence that have made us blind to the realities of billions of our fellow humans. Let us ignore our plasma televisions, our DVDs, our two-story cookie cutter homes and gas-guzzling SUVs. Let us promise to not open our overstocked pantries and refrigerators, or to go out and eat at one of many corporate controlled franchise restaurants offering vast assortments of gargantuan meals. We should ignore the opulence of our society that dwells permanently in our minds that makes us forget the severe indigence and suffering that transpires beyond our shores and borders.

In short, we should come out of our luxurious bubble that has shielded us from the evils inflicted on billions of humans that have not been as privy to a life of safety and security. Let us traverse the road of reality, sojourning through history and through mirages of hidden truths. Let us dive into the making of the Evil Empire so that we may see what our government has and continues to do in our name. The road ahead will not be easy to swallow or comprehend, yet we must open our minds to the possibility that what has happened is real and what is occurring is not fiction. Only then will we understand why our hands are smeared in the blood of tens of millions of human cadavers and countless more whose lives and futures have been devastated at the hands of the United States of America. Only by knowing who and what we are can we correct ourselves . . .

Entire ethnicities, tribes, languages and cultures were eviscerated from the face of the Earth by those whose importance of property and ownership superceded the respect for human life. Beautiful peoples took with them to the grave lives living free, roaming pristine and untouched forests, deserts and prairies, being one with nature, respecting everything that breathed and a spirituality that has much to offer our capitalistic civilization. Advanced civilizations in wisdom and spirituality, yet seen as savages to the “more sophisticated” European people, native peoples’ way of life was vanished, never to fully flourish again. Millions ethnically cleansed, millions whose lives were made barren, all making way for the destructive bulldozer ravaging land and man. The Evil Empire had sprung to life, a trail of victims visible everywhere the giant walked.

Not satisfied with the killing of millions of native peoples, the citizens of America next decided to unleash hell onto each other. As a result the American Civil War of the latter part of the 19th century killed more than 600,000 people, leaving the United States mourning for brothers and sons, fathers and grandfathers. Graveyards littered the landscape; battlefields were transformed into fields of death and devastation. Divided a prospering nation stood, soaked in blood and agony, splitting apart families, creating widows and orphans. In the end, hundreds of thousands lay dead, many more maimed and wounded, all to quench the voracious appetite for violence, death and destruction . . .

Our society has been made blind to endemic and ceaseless worldwide suffering at the hands of our government. Through years of conditioning we now fail to blink at the carnage our military engenders around the world. From the cradle to the grave we are subjected to incessant violence, whether real or fictional, that makes us immune to the torment prevalent in the rest of the world. Through careful manipulation we are made to believe that war is peace, destruction is prosperity and murder is life.

The world burns while we live lives of consumption and production, happy worker bees stuck in hour long commutes working most of our productive lives. We live in peace and harmony at home, distracted from reality by our television screens and movie theatres, by our lavish lifestyles and wasteful society. In the land of the individual the communality of peoples is an alien principle. Content, conformist and passive thanks to our nation of plenty, we care not for peoples outside our borders. We have everything we need, after all, and a plethora of distractions in our daily lives prevents us from even considering that a larger world exists beyond our shores.

The impenetrable bubble we live in protects us from empathizing with billions whose lives have been made worse since the birth of the Evil Empire. We have been made ignorant to that which has been unleashed onto the world and that owes its existence to our continued lifestyle and complicity by acquiescence and failure to act. The Evil Empire runs rampant through the planet, devouring all in its path, enslaving millions and conquering and despoiling lands.

Meanwhile, inside the belly of the beast we sit, basking in extravagance and splendor, complacent in life and circumstance, unwilling to open our eyes and minds to the evils done in our name.
You owe it to yourself to read the whole piece. Powerful.

Also, I just realized Manuel has his own blog, Valenzuela's Veritas. So go there awreddy!

To our Muslim sisters and brothers

I wish you a joyous Eid ul-Adha!

From Wikipedia:
The story behind Eid ul-Adha

Muslims believe that God revealed in a dream to Ibrahim (Prophet Abraham) to sacrifice his son Isma’il. Ibrahim and Isma’il set off to Mina for the sacrifice. As they went, the devil attempted to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son. But Ibrahim stayed true to God, and drove the devil away. As Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his son, God stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead. The story is also a part of the other Abrahamic religions (see the Binding of Isaac).

Observing Eid ul-Adha

It is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja (ذو الحجة) of the lunar Islamic calendar, after Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This happens to be approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan.

While Eid ul-Fitr is considered to be three days, Eid ul-Adha is supposed to be four days. The first day is the primary holiday, on which men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing and perform prayer (Salah) in a large congregation. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice; this sacrifice is called "Qurbani." The meat is distributed amongst their neighbors, relatives, and the poor and hungry. The charitable instincts of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid ul-Adha by the concerted effort to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during this day. Coming immediately after the Day of Arafat (when Muhammad pronounced the final seal on the religion of Islam), Eid ul-Adha gives concrete realization to what the Muslim community ethic means in practice.

Update - 1/13/2005: Please read malik's comment on this post and visit his site, Eid Mubarak. Thank you, malik!


Happy Birthday, Acid Man

"I sat down at home on the divan and started to dream," Hofmann told Swiss television network SF DRS about his first experience with LSD. "I had wonderful visions. What I was thinking appeared in colors and in pictures. It lasted for a couple of hours and then it disappeared."
Thus spake Al Hofman, creator of lysergic acid diethylamide. He's going to be 100 years old tomorrow.
The Swiss chemist - who still takes nearly daily walks in the small picturesque village where he lives in the Swiss Jura mountains with his wife of 70 years, Anita - discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm, which is now part of Novartis. The company declined to comment for this story.

Hofmann was the first person to test the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped onto his finger during a repeat of the laboratory experiment in April 1943.

"Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror," he subsequently wrote, noting his surprise that LSD was able to produce "such a far-reaching, powerful, inebriated condition without leaving a hangover."

The chemist experimented with a larger dose three days later, but the result this time was a "horror" trip. His surroundings turned into threatening images. A neighbor who passed by his home to bring him the milk he craved was transformed into a wicked witch.

"I was filled with an overwhelming fear that I would go crazy. I was transported to a different world, a different time," he wrote . . .

But away from the psychedelic trips and flower children, stories emerged of people going on murder sprees or jumping out of windows while hallucinating. Heavy users suffered permanent psychological damage. The U.S. government banned LSD in 1966, and other countries followed suit.

Hofmann maintained this was unfair, arguing that the drug was not addictive. He repeatedly said the ban should be lifted to allow LSD to be used in medical research, and he took the drug himself - purportedly on an occasional basis and out of scientific interest - for several decades.

But he added a note of caution: "The history of LSD to date amply demonstrates the catastrophic consequences that can ensue when its profound effect is misjudged and the substance is mistaken for a pleasure drug," Hofmann wrote.
Well, shit, Al! NOW you tell me!! Glurg.

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Are we not responsible?

From the AP:
U.N.: Millions of Africans Are Starving

ROME (AP) - An estimated 11 million people in the Horn of Africa "are on the brink of starvation" because of severe drought and war, with some deaths already being reported in Kenya, the United Nations said Friday.

People in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia need food aid, water, new livestock and seeds, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement.

"Millions of people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa due to recent severe droughts coupled with the effects of past and ongoing conflicts," the agency said.

FAO economist Shukri Ahmed said the region's dry season had begun and the rains forecast for March and April are not expected to be significant.

Normally, the herdsmen of the area would move from place to place for water and food for their livestock, but the recent drought had covered too large a swath of territory for them, Ahmed said.

"The whole area is affected," he said. "The situation is deteriorating."

The FAO is calling for domestic food purchases in areas where harvests are expected to be favorable and food aid imports elsewhere, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at U.N. headquarters in New York.

The World Food Program is now feeding 1.2 million drought victims, "but fears this figure could more than double to 2.5 million," Dujarric said.

The food situation in Somalia and eastern Kenya is particularly serious, the FAO said. Ahmed said local newspapers, citing Kenyan medical officials, have reported at least 30 famine-related deaths.

The government of Kenya has said its efforts to distribute food to famine-stricken areas in its north have been hampered by the nation's nomadic culture and poor infrastructure. President Mwai Kibaki has declared a national disaster.

In Somalia, the secondary rainy season from October to December failed in most of the eight agricultural regions in the south, "resulting in widespread crop failure" that could be the worst in a decade, the agency said.

The country of 7 million that has not had an effective government since clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Warlords then turned on each other . . .


Study: Congo Humanitarian Crisis the Worst


DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - War-ravaged Congo is suffering the world's deadliest humanitarian crisis, with 38,000 people dying each month mostly from easily treatable diseases, a study published Friday in Britain's leading medical journal said.

Nearly 4 million people died between 1998-2004 alone - the indirect result of years of ruinous fighting that has brought on a stunning collapse of public health services, the study in the Lancet concluded.

The majority of deaths were due to disease rather than violence, but war has cut off or reduced access to health services for millions in the impoverished nation about one-quarter the size of the United States.

Most deaths reported were due to "preventable and easily treatable diseases," the study said. Malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections and malnutrition topped the list.

Major fighting ended in Congo in 2002 but the situation remains dire because of continued insecurity, poor access to health care and inadequate international aid. The problems are particularly acute in eastern Congo.

"Rich donor nations are miserably failing the people of (Congo), even though every few months the mortality equivalent of two southeast Asian tsunamis plows through its territory," the study said . . .
90% of Americans have more food than they need. Food gets thrown away every day. The percentage of Americans who are overweight is astounding and shameful. We as a people have a stain on our soul for every human who starves and dies as we rip through our Big Macs and chili cheese fries.

(Photo © UN/DPI, Eskinder Debebe)