Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here, Kitty

Where has it gone? $9 doesn't even make up half the difference.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Double-O bama: License to Kill


The unbelievable has become the norm.

From Glenn Greenwald:

"As always, it's really worth pausing to remind ourselves of how truly radical and just plainly unbelievable this all is. What's more extraordinary: that the US Senate is repeatedly asking the Obama White House whether the president has the power to secretly order US citizens on US soil executed without charges or due process, or whether the president and his administration refuse to answer? That this is the "controversy" surrounding the confirmation of the CIA director - and it's a very muted controversy at that - shows just how extreme the degradation of US political culture is."

Read full article.


Bullshit. Squared. It's a charade to get you to think you just HAVE to accept cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Every bit of it is a lie. The "sequester" will be better than the "Grand Bargain" Obama's been trying to make for three years. (See my previous posts on  January's "fiscal cliff" dive and the theft of Social Security .)

From Counterpunch

"The Republicans are pretending that if we don’t have budget cuts this year, the whole US economy will collapse because of the nation’s enormous indebtedness.

"The Democrats are pretending that if no deal is reached, and automatic across-the-board cuts of 8% for the Pentagon and 5% for other programs will not only put the nation’s defense at risk and cause widespread suffering, but that it will derail the nation’s fragile economic 'recovery.'

"Both claims are, to put it gently, bullshit.

"As for the Obama Administration and the Democrats in Congress, what they secretly want is cover to start cutting Social Security and especially Medicare. Since those two programs were exempted from sequestration cuts, their strategy is to cry “wolf” about the impact of sequestration in order to bully Republicans into some kind of budget-cutting deal that would have Republicans agree to a rise in taxes in some truly minor way on the rich, while in return Democrats would 'grudgingly agree' to cuts in Medicare and maybe even Social Security. They will then be able to claim, to their progressive Democratic base, that the Republicans 'made us do it.'"

Read the full article 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reminder: It Has Happened Here

Class warfare. It has happened here. Every social advance, every social benefit that was won from the American ruling class, was only ceded because organized labor fought for it. And every single one is now being rescinded because American working people and their erstwhile supporters are not fighting for them. Would there be any proposals for cutting Social Security and Medicare, while the banksters received trillions of dollars in subsidies, if the politicians knew they would be facing resistance like this? Class warfare. Sometimes it's obvious and sometimes it's not, but it is always there. A fact of capitalist social life. It is happening here -- only, unfortunately, with the working classes agreeing to limit themselves to the inevitably losing tactics and strategies permitted by the their masters. For the moment, at least.

(A nice compendium of clips, with the narration making clear, as always, whose side the media is on.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shutterbugged: Oscar-nominated Palestinian Director Detained at LAX

Emad Burnat, Palestinian director of 5 Broken Cameras, was detained wirh his family at LAX and threatened with deportation, with an Oscar nomination for best documentary in his pocket. He was only released after timely and strong intervention by Michael Moore and the Academy.

"Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn't understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee," Moore said.

5 Broken Cameras is described as: 

An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism,...a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil'in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the footage was later given to Israeli co-director Guy Davidi to edit. Structured around the violent destruction of each one of Burnat's cameras, the filmmakers' collaboration follows one family's evolution over five years of village turmoil. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost. 'I feel like the camera protects me,' he says, 'but it's an illusion.
You can bet Emad's Israeli co-director won't have any problem at the airport.

Coming Clean: Irish Prime Minister Makes an Extraordinary, Moving Apology for the Magdalene Laundries

                             Daily Mail                                             Still from The Magdalene Sisters

If you don't know the story of the Magdalene Laundries, or have not seen the harrowing 2002 theatrical film The Magdalene Sisters  -- well, it’s another story of infuriating injustice, one of the hidden horrors of European Christian theocracy that you find hard to believe and don't really want to know about, so I hesitate to say that you should, but, yeah, you should. It’s been largely disregarded because its victims were poor, helpless women. Here’s the description of the institutions from RationalWiki:
A Magdalene laundry, also known as a Magdalene asylum [named for Mary Magdalene, the supposed prostitute], was a house for women who had "fallen" from "moral correctness"…
These asylums were a network of laundries operated by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere, and run by the Sisters of a range of orders. Many women lived and died in these institutions with little hope of escape. The only way they could be freed was by being claimed by a relative. Often, family members were told that the women had moved away, and would be impossible to find because they had assumed new identities.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Flight Club: The No-Fly List and the Authoritarian Theater of the Absurd

[I]t is an essential part of the justice dispensed here that you should be condemned not only in innocence but also in ignorance.
― Franz KafkaThe Trial

A recent segment on Chris Hayes’s show Up (embedded below), following on a column by Glenn Greenwald, recounts the outrageous story of Saadiq Long, a 43-year-old African-American Muslim and ten-year US Air Force veteran, and his Kafkaesque journey through the no-fly wringer. Last year, Long, who lives with his wife and children in Qatar, where he teaches English, bought a ticket on KLM to visit his mother in Oklahoma, who was suffering from worsening congestive heart failure. He was surprised when KLM refused to allow him to board his flight back to his own country because the US government had placed him on its “no-fly list.” Never convicted or even charged with any crime, Long spent over six months trying to figure out why his name was on the list and what he could do to have it removed. 

(The answers, of course, are that he will never know why, nor will his name (since it may not be his name) likely ever be taken off the list.  As this AP story by Eileen Sullivan points out: “The government will not disclose who is on its list or why someone might have been placed on it.”)

After a months-long campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and (according to this local news article) “several legislators,” and two weeks after Greenwald published a column on Long’s plight in The Guardian November, 2012, Long was finally allowed to fly home to see his ailing mother.  Problem solved, right?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

CIA Director convicted of torture charges!

No, it can't happen here, but it does happen in countries that actually have an independent judiciary:

Glenn Greenwald
"This entire case reveals vital facts about the culture of impunity for high-level officials that prevails in the US even when they commit the most egregious crimes:
"First, it is completely inconceivable that anything like what just happened in Italy could happen in the US. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the highest-level US officials had systematically committed felonies under the War on Terror rubric, both political parties, bolstered by a virtual consensus of the DC press, united to block all forms of accountability. A sacred rule in US political culture is that high-level state officials are to be shielded from all accountability, let alone criminal punishment, for how they abuse power.
"In sum, US officials are not subject to the rule of law but reside above it. Neither party's establishment nor their Adversarial Press Corps would ever tolerate the CIA Director being prosecuted for his crimes the way Italy's just was."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SNL Skewers America's more-Zionist-than-thou Politics (Updated)

In dress rehearsal. They decided not to air it. I'd love to have heard that discussion.

Update (2/13/2013): Here's a take from "SNL Nixes Skit Mocking GOP's Israel Stances During Hagel Hearing" at Crooks and Liars 

It is not hard to imagine the pearl clutching and cries of outrage (Outrage, I tell you!) had this skit gone out on the airwaves, depicting the blatant pandering and ridiculousness of the dialogue in Washington surrounding the hearing on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to the position of Secretary of Defense. I'm sure that Lindsey Graham and his BFF Grampy McCain would be issuing a proclamation of censure and a threat to deport Lorne Michaels back to Canada. How dare SNL mock the "When did you stop beating your wife?" line of questioning that the Republicans proffered to prove how much more they love the state of Israel? I'm still wondering if anyone in the Beltway media will ever wonder why blind obeisance to Israel is considered a requirement for holding an American political office.

And, not to be outpandered, the Democrats claim that donkey for themselves (h/t Buzzfeed):

Jewish Democrats Blast Marco Rubio For Not Mentioning Israel

“Jewish Democrats are proud to stand with President Obama and his second term priorities that put support for Israel. posted on February 12, 2013 at 11:22pm EST
Image by J. Scott Applewhite / AP
WASHINGTON — The National Jewish Democratic Council issued a statement criticizing Sen. Marco Rubio for leaving Israel out of their responses to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address....

[Update (10/15/2014): Fixed video embed.]

Monday, February 4, 2013

As Syria Devolves, Israel Rampages

And America approves.

The Israeli attack on Syria last week confirms the observations I made in my post on Syria in August, namely that: 1) the US has assured Israel in advance that, whatever transpires from the US-backed rebellion, Israel will get the net benefit of a weakened Syrian state, open to at-will Israeli incursion; that, 2) for both Israel and the US, the object of this game is to utterly destroy the Syrian state, to make it disappear as a military and political force in the region; and 3) that “chemical weapons” were introduced into the narrative as a flimsy excuse for military attacks by the US or Israel whose actual objective will be to destroy, tout court, the Syrian state’s military capability, and its ability to provide any significant resistance to future Israeli attacks or any significant material support to other targets of Israeli aggression – like Iran, Hezbollah, or any other Palestinian resistance groups.

I also noted Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s reported gleeful prediction of “Syria’s fragmentation into provinces, adding that Lebanon will suffer the same fate in the future,” and his understanding that “the Arab world is passing through a phase that will restore it back to the way it was before World War I ….[ruling] out the possibility of the emergence of an Arab alliance that would stand in opposition to Israel in the next 10 to 15 years.”

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