Thursday, December 30, 2004

Over a Thousand Swedes Die in Tsunami

Am I drawn to the story of these people dying inthis tragedy because they are white? I mean over a 100,000 brown folks have been washed out to sea. Or is it just my narcisism? Maybe it could have been me or one of my friends.

Actually my friend Mary put this in the correct perspective: Social Democracy killed these people. If they weren't on one of their 8 weeks of vacation they would be alive today. The welfare state claims another thousand victims!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Scalia On Orgies: They're Good!

Scalia on orgies.

Is Anyone Asking The Obvious Question Here?

Is it me or is it strange that Reggie White, a top athlete in the world, died at 43? I really don't know. I would assume it's the wear and tear over the years, or could it be that the lord just wanted for him to play football?

Friday, December 24, 2004

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Arthur Miller Dines With Fidel

Last year Arthur Miller wrote this article about his dinner with Fidel. I thought it was an extremely witty account. I particularly like his comments about Fidel and lettuce.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Merry Christmas

"Religion convinced the world that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there's 10 things he doesn't want you to do or else you'll go to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! ...And he needs money! He's all powerful, but he can't handle money!"

—George Carlin

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Nugget From Anne Gaylor

“For a fact, the Christians stole Christmas. We don't mind sharing it with them, but we don't like this pretense of theirs that it is the birthday of Jesus. It is the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun--Dies Natalis Invicti Solis. Christmas is a relic of sun worship.

The customs of this time of year endure because they are pleasant customs. It's fun to hear from distant family and friends, to gather, to feast, to sing. Gifts, as Robert Ingersoll once said, are evidences of friendship, of remembrance, of love.

The evergreens displayed now as in centuries past flourish when all else seems dead, and are symbols, as is the returning sun, of enduring life.

In celebrating the Winter Solstice, we celebrate reality.”
-- Anne Nicol Gaylor, president emerita, Freedom From Religion Foundation. Speech written for the 8th annual Winter Solstice Party, New Jersey chapter of FFRF, Dec. 22, 1985. (Freethought Today, Jan/Feb 1986)


Here's what the Onion has to say about Spanglish, James L Brookes' latest. I also saw The Aviator, is it me or is Scorcese slipping? Two words for Howard Hughes, who cares? The Onion once again nails James L Brooks, brilliant but the nuerosis scenes get irritating. See Spanglish. I never thought I would say this, and now twice after Punch Drunk Love, Adam Sandler was actually good. And then there's this way of looking at it.

Mr President and Good Writing

Sam Rosenthal on the press conference: "The president got a tad petulant when fielding questions on Social Security. His emphatic response to any and all queries about his position on the subject was an indignant, righteous refusal to answer: “You’re not going to get me to negotiate with myself,” he repeatedly told the perplexed reporters. “I know what you’re trying to get me to do. You’re trying to get me to answer ‘Why this,’ ‘why that,’ to take positions -- don’t bother to ask me.” Rather than merely dodge the questions, Bush seemed intent on staking out an explicit, principled position in favor of dodging the question. There may have been a method to this madness above and beyond Bush’s stated explanation that “Congress writes legislation” and therefore he, as the president, shouldn’t be setting specific guidelines for a Social Security reform proposal. The president isn’t usually a big separation-of-powers, checks-and-balances kind of guy."

The Neverending Story

Yes, we have the right to be offensive. It truly amazes me that this story is repeated over and over...... It's about basic freedom of expression. Yes, we all have the right to have whatever idiotic idea we want, and not just in our heads, including bashing things we think are foolish-religion, bad haircuts, monogomy, whatever.

That this debate still goes on show's how fleeting the whole thing is. Imagen if the Federalists had gotten thier way and we had no first amendment?

In Milwaukee we have had our own little version. Local bully and bigot Mark Belling let slip "wetback" and his company, Clear Channel-who are in the bully/bigot business, suspended him after local outrage and protest. The local activists, some of whom I know and love, called for canceling his program. I disagreed. The problem with Belling isn't that he is an out of the closet racist. The problem is that he is in and he has respectability. I say let him be true to his ideas and call a spade a spade (off color-again intended-joke intended). Here's Milwaukee's best writer's take.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Post-mortem Assasination Of Garry Webb

Garry Webb was a conventional reporter from a military family who wrote conventional stories about America. This all changed after he stumbled on to the story of the counter-revolutionary (Contras) forces in Nicaragua in the 80's ties with drug smuggling. The problem was that these cats were the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers and all that. We were all shocked that anyone would even mention such unmentionables given the honarable allies, the Indonesion butchers, the neo-Nazi Argentine sadistic totureres, the Zairean kleptocracy to name a few, the intellegence services had been cavorting with in the post-war period. Garry Webb made the mistake to blabb this around town. So what did US journalism do for one of their own? A full court press to distract, discredit, disinform, and in the end to destroy Garry Webb's career and now Garry Webb himself. This was done by marshalling the strength of the NY Times, LA Times, and the Washington Post to make sure that "real" evidence could be found to support such allegations. Unsurprisingly they found nothing. The problem is the contras were involved with the drug trade and the CIA actually admitted it years later.

Now that GW has offed himself the slander continues, with an obit in the LA Times this week mutering about his "troubled" career and "accusations" about drugs and other such charges. The obituary is a sorry book end to a story that epitomizes the worst of our "liberal" media.

One of the more troubling sidenotes to the story is the "left's" complicity in the whole matter. One of the coincidences of the story is the rise in the use of crack as the contras financed their murder of teachers and farmers in the 80's. Some used this coincidence to claim that this was a plot to undermine the black community through mass drug induced distraction. This was not the main point of GW's reporting but many flakistas used it as proof. I've met the type. Any evil in the world can be explained by tangential evidence to a CIA operation. The rulers will always try to marginalize the left by pointing to the conspiracy theorists but lets not make ourselves easy targets with wild accusations.

Here Alex Cockburn discusses the Webb affair. Classic Cockburn here. Marc Cooper also tells it like it is.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Holiday Gift

Here's an amazing archive of sounds (Lost and Found Sound) of the last century. I'll be away until the 2nd so enjoy these stories and sounds. Check out the answering archive, hilarious!

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Sideways really is a good movie. Read the review. See it over the holiday.

Interested In A Vacation?

Here's a favorite place of mine, Tulum, MX.

Social Security Privatization: They Are Going To Try

First an interesting aside, google ( a verb?) Social Security privatization and see what comes up. On the first page all proponents and one dissenter.

Social Security privatization is a colossally bad idea for many reasons, here are three:

1)The market is inherently unstable, it's not called creative destruction for nothing. Yes some people will do well and others poorly out of "bad" decisions but lets say you don't have an MBA or insider knowledge, is it your fault that you believed some asshole on Louis Rukeyser on what Mutual Fund to invest all your future in? An economic libertarian would say yes, I say no. We don't have an equal access to knowledge, this is a myth perpetuated by people with more skills and knowledge and more access to it than others.

2)Social Security is a quasi-progressive institution. I say quasi because there is a cap on SS taxes after $80,400-meaning that if you make this much or more there no longer are SS taxes taken out of your check-and for other technical reasons the system does not produce as advertised. This being said the system has the potential to redistribute wealth from those who can afford a meager pension to those who can't. Personally I think the system is way to meager and should become a national pesion system funded by employers.

3)This scheme will not save the system money and it is being done not so that people will be more comfortable in the long run but because Wall Street wants all that cash, trillions! Basically it's a payoff. Here's a discussion of this issue.

Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Suppression of Cleaveland Indian Effigy Burning

The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday ruled that suppression of the burning of an effigy of the racist Cleaveland Indian mascot was not a violation of the protestors first amendment rights. Let's say it was an effigy of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, I wonder if 1) the cops would have acted the same and 2) the court would have ruled the same way. The way that they weaseled out of the issue, at least two of the judges, was to say that it was a fire hazard. With more and more Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush judges we will get more and more authoritarian decisions like this.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Now Here's What I want For Christmas

Belarus Military supply store. Belarus Defense Department selling off stuff. Hmm... I wonder why?

Now Here's A Use For The Consulate I Never Thought Of

"Some consular posts, sometimes sought out by tourists who run out of money, are also being closed or handed to local staff across the developed world." In an article about the UK closing some of its more sleepy consulates.

Romania and Belarus

Will Belarus go the way of Romania? This is what Russia fears and why that guys face looks like it does.

Polar Ice Caps Smolar Smice Smaps

These Brits really seemed worried about this. Is it because they live on an island?

World's Greatest Polluter At It Again

The United States government is at it again; wasting billions on bombs in space and spreading toxic chemicals across the biosphere. This is a crime.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Some Athiest Waffles On Intelligent Design

Here's a discussion on the topic. My favorite part is the Steven Hawking quote, "why does the universe bother to exist?"

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Nation's Post-mortem On The Election

Some of the usual suspects discuss the importance, or lack there of, of the election. For me Eric Foner (#3) was most spot on when he talked about the base. If there is no labor movement it will be next to impossible to organize progressive politics. Even if a coalition forms it will be easily dissipated if there is no institutional base. Minority groups will not do this either given the traditional upward social mobility of many minorities with corresponding shift away from the state. Jews are the only non-forced minority that have not shifted right, at least not to the Republicans.

Michael Lind (#6) is also correct when it comes to pwogwessive alienation from the society as a whole. The elitism of Democrats like John Kerry, Al Gore and Tom Daschle is a big part of their failure. Why would working class voters vote for them? they actually don't have a program except austerity and largesse for Wall Street. It's not that they are blue bloods, people in the US don't seem to let that bother them, FDR, Bush, etc... It's just that they don't seem to believe in anything except managing.

Medea Benjamin (#14)is also right that the Democrats need a left flank coming outside of the Democrtaic Party. But she is delusional if she thinks the Democrats are going to ally with Greens and other third parties for electoral reform. The Dems are the impedment to reform not the ally.

Jorge Ramos(#10) is also right that Latinos are the future and the Democrats had better pay a lot more attention to them if they expect to gain in the future.

But in the end it Cockburn/Frank/St. Clare/Wypesinski (not unsuprisingly not asked to speak) are correct. The Dems are moribund and don't even oraganize anymore. The party itself is a top down dues collector that buys ads and spends it mostly at the Presidential level. Good riddence.

Iraq Is Being Destroyed By Your Government With Your Money

Send humanitarian aid to Fallujah.

Three Elections in the Arab World

A comparison and analysis in the Guardian.

A Headline Woody Allen Would Love

AWARD FEVER SWEEPS HOLLYWOOD! What did Woody say about the world's greatest fascist dictator?

Lula's LosesMore Left Support

Brazil's President has tried to keep the international bankers happy. The far left left awhile ago now Social Democrats are leaveing the coalition.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Two Instant Classics

Wal-Mart announces massive rollback (of wages that is). And "High Times" Website Cached.

"Objectivity" and Journalism

My favorite line about objectivity came from from Alex Cockburn paroding McNeil or was it Lehrer? It went something like "today the issue we will be discussing is child molestation. Mr. Doe, your a known child molestor what... Now let's hear from little Johnny, who was molested by Mr. Doe..."

Here's what a couple mainstream journalists had to say about objectivity and the war in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Few New Links And Features

I know the observant will have already noticed but a new feature has been added to the site, the world of the under and over rated. Any suggestions? Also A few films I have seen of late have been added; Destry Rides Again and You Can't Take It With You. Both of which I saw on cable. The former is a Western that amazed me. Jimmy Stewart (not usually a favorite of mine) plays a gunless sheriff out West that battles local gunslingers and gansters with his wit and guile. He interacts with Marlene Dietrich (also not one of my favorites) who is the brains and sometimes braun, there's an amazing chick fight, of the local saloon. Incredibly well written and acted and funny!
The other film I had heard of but never have had the pleasure. Jimmy Stewart, again, falls in love with Lionel Barrymore's daughter who live with a motley crew of free spirits who battle with a banker and the cops. This is certainly one of Capra's best.
Been to the Work Less Institute?

Rumsfeld Grilled By Troops

A stunned Donald Rumsfeld got a grilling from troops pissed about working conditions and constantly changing lengths of tour. You would think US "journalists" would have been covering this issue for months!

McMansions Fried

Multi-million dollar homes go up in flames in Maryland. I heard a number of stories on the radio this morning about "eco-terrorism." My favorite was an interview with one of the homeowners. He was indignant as was the reporter claiming "what is ironic is that I love nature." He loves it so much that he had it (a rare magnolia grove) cut down, he moved to a suburb so he can drive his SUV everyday to work, and he had a new HUGE home built in a place where there is more than enough housing.

My parents live close to Indian Head. The Chesapeake Bay area is a disater area. The only densely populated areas, Baltimore, Washington, and Annapolis have practically been abandoned to the poor and brown with small ultra-rich ghettos. Most in the area live in substandard housing, small ranch homes and apartments off highways that are choked pretty much 20 hours a day. The Bay itself is just barely still maintaining wildlife. So what is the solution for lovers of nature like the above savant? Build more McMansions.

Organize The Union, Get Killed

Teamster organizer Gilberto Soto killed in El Salvador.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Monday, December 06, 2004

Peter Sellers Complex Simpleton

I must admit I never have been a big fan of Peter Sellers. I enjoy Strangelove and Being There but Pink Panther et al never really drew me in. The latest HBO biopic does look compelling though. Here's a review from Slate.

The Generousity of the World

As the world economy continues to expand more people are poorer and giving from rich countries is half of what is was in 1960!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Chomsky on the 2004 Election

Chomsky's views on tweedle dumb and tweedle dumb dumb.

Growing Pains For Fatah

Marwan Barghouti puts his hat in the ring. I personally think that Hanan Ashwari should run. I predict a strong showing for Barghouti. The old line Fatah were held together by Arafat's charisma and history. I don't think Mahmoud Abbas has half the support of Arafat.

Is Big Brother Watching?

I know this will all give assurance and help you sleep at night now that you know that the untouchables are keeping an eye on that well known terrorist organization THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE, A.K.A. The Quakers. I'm sure Fox News will show its outrage for a full week on this one. Notice how the Sun Times covers the story.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Is Iran a Nuclear Threat?

Norman Soloman on the last 60 years of living in a world where nuclear weapons have terrified us all. Guess who has used them? threatened others? has the most?

Authoritarian Democracy on the March

Columbia's Uribe gains approval to change the constitution so that he can run for a second term with US approval. The "democratization" of the region in the last 20 years has seen two general trends. Left/nationalist and liberal parties that have come to power with lofty goals only to be stymied by the constraints of international lending institutions. They then go along with the prescriptions of said institutions and are punished in the polls because they are seen as hypocrites and sellouts. The other route has been right wing coalitions who have championed law and order and a full embrace of the new neo-liberal order. Uribe is the current poster boy for the latter. Washington regularly allies with such authoritarians who then radically violate human rights, shift national revenues and priorities to local and international elites away from the poor and then crack down on the subsequent social explosion. Columbia is an extreme example but look to the Uribe experience to mirror the Fujimori disaster.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Watching the Detectives (Existential That Is)

Saw two very good movies over the holidays I (heart) Huckabees and Sideways. If you are worried or have any interest in relationships, selling out, meaning, petroleum, Merlot, promiscuity, divorce, commercialism, being co-opted, divorce, etc.. than see them both. Well directed, acted, written, and just plain original. One of constants in film for me is the incredible narcissism that the medium brings on. I always think, man, the writer most certainly thinking of MY situation when they wrote that.

Say Yes To Imperialism!

Thousands of Lebanese march in support of the Syrian role in their country!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Election Fraud?

There probably has not been a day that has gone by since the election that I have not received an email or found an article on the web from someone crying about the outcome of the election and blaming it on election fraud. Having no real data to back up my skepticism of these arguments, I criticized them anyway.

Here's an article from people who seem to know what they are talking about when it comes to the electoral system and statistical analysis. They argue that even granting Kerry all of the contested votes the "Kerry won" crowd say he should have recieved the numbers that they trot out still would have not given him enough votes in Ohio. And given Bush's overwhelming increase in numbers in the popular vote particularly in blue states, the fraud numbers they come up with still don't add up for a win for Kerry. They also argue that the statistical analysis of some of the "the vote was fixed" folk is just plain wrong. Lot's of people in Florida other southern states register as Democrats but vote Republican in presidential elections. This is true whether one uses a electronic voting machine or not.

The authors of the article argue that the problem is not outright fraud but a disallocation of resources for voting machines and infrastructure to wealthy areas making their voting process far more efficient and accurate than in poorer and more Democratic areas thus giving an advantage to the Republicans from an institutional point of view.

The "left" needs to look inward. The backbone of the left, the labor unions, spent tens of millions on Kerry and keeping Nader off the ballot. They will get nothing from these efforts. Other social movements, particularly the anti-war movent have suffered because of the electoral focus of many "leftists" over the last year. They spent their time going door to door for a corporate shill (particularly insurance and pharmacuetical companies) and supporter of the war when they could have been out organizing protests against poluters or the war or organizing workers in factories or in service industries.

Presidential elections are a waste of time. The Democratic party has been spending a lions share of its resources on the top of the ticket for years now and the results are disturbing. A majority of state houses, governships, and even some big cities are now run by Republicans. This is a direct result of the Democratic parties abadonment of core principles and playing to the suburbs or middling voters. The base is not being organized around issues because they are too busy, particularly at the top of the ticket, trying to keep Wall Street and up scale socially liberal suburbanites happy. They need to start putting all their efforts into organizing the stae houses on the local level so that the votes will trickle up not down.

The Republicans have done the opposite of the Democrats since 1964. They have turned hard right, energized their base and people across the country have responded because even if they don't agree withem on all of the isuues at least they stand for something. Quick name three issues John Kerry was FOR, OK just one. Here's the lesson not the lesson of the 1992 election of Bill Clinton that brought us NAFTA, GATT, welfare "reform," more cops and jails and war in Bosnia, oh yeah and years and years of talk about Hillary!

Canada or Bust?

The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.
The re-election of President Bush is prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray and agree with Bill O'Reilly.
Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota.
The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry.
"He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. Didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"
In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields.
"Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give milk."
Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.
"A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."
When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR.
In the days since the election, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border.
Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers.
"If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.
Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies.
"I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"
In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals, a source close to Cheney said.
"We're going to have some Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might put some endangered species on postage stamps. The president is determined to reach out."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Eduardo Galeano on Hugo Chavez

The dictator that has been elected tima and time again. Also see EG's other work.

El Che

Saul Landau on the Motorcycle Diaries and the legacy of Che Guevara.

Cannabilistic Ploy?

A vision of Mary (mother of god) appears on a sandwich (grilled cheese?). Will these cannibals stop at nothing to re-enforce their body and blood eating?

Want a Better CIA?

Here's the problem with the so called left in the United States. Here Robert Scheer a reasonable and knowledgeable guy on the ways of Washington and the world argues for a good CIA.

The CIA was established to spy on leftists, nationalists, trade unionists, radical priests and nuns, socialists, communists, pacifists and any other progressive of any sort. After finding out what these folks are up to there next job is to co-opt them, nuetralize them, buy them off or kill them or have some vicious ally kill them. So why then is Sheer calling for a more efficient killing machine? Answer: most liberals bought into the Cold War and buy into the so-called WAR ON TERROR!

Islamists want to kill me and lots of same people that the CIA wants to kill but that is not a good reasn to side with an agency that's entire goal is not democracy and human rights but the opposite. Particularly in the Middle East where the handy work of the CIA and its allies has created the monster that they now are supposedly protecting us from.

In the post-WWII world the CIA did all it could to eliminate progressive forces throughout the Middle East. A coup in Iran, Iraq, support for Israel, invasions and bombings of Libya and Lebanon, support for Turkey's war on the Kurds, wholesale backing of dictatorship in almost every country and a militarization of Afghanistan that actually supported Al-Queda and the like until the early 1990's. With progressive forces completly nuetralized by the late 1970's people throughout the region began to look to the only institution that maintained any autonomy, Islam! Radicals there then took advantage of the yearning for alternatives to corrupt US backed regimes and the most retrograde movement since Nazisim has emerged.

So why do we need a new and improved CIA Robert?

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Mulligan of Class, Race and Rage

An analysis of the NBA fight and US society. Violence is pandemic here and then the outrage comes when we see it at a sporting event. I listened to AM radio this weekend. On the sports talk shows the predominant commentary from the callers was "gangsta and hip-hop culture" caused this. The hypocrisy of the predominantly white callers lecturing black folks on violence and naughty ways is laughable if it were not so pervasive and institutionally reinforced. Have you been to a hockey game ever? Fighting is allowed! How many of the same people abhoring the culture of violence of black folk own guns and back war as a first choice in forgein policy?

Don't get me wrong at my job I see the results of a culture of thugishness and disrespect for everything. Order is certainly a decent value. But the hypocrisy is the problem. It's like Bush and the nuclear bombs issue. This is an outrage that Iran and North Korea want to have bombs. How many tens of thousands does the US have? The two places in the world where nukes actually might be used, Pakistan and Israel, two close US allies!

Bush's Vote Count Up With Electronic Voting Machines

A statistical analysis from UC-Berkeley of the correlation between new voting machines and the rise in the vote for Bush. As well as a survey of the efficacy of the new machines installed since 2004.

I have not been one to claim fraud but here is some data that raise my eyebrow (just one).

Friday, November 19, 2004

Philip Roth

A review of Philip Roth's latest.

An End To Disease?

The human genome project is complete. The hope for many has been that this will give us an edge on eliminating disease. How far have we come? Go to the link.

Coming from the ethically challenged Dingell but still a great quote.

Rep John Dingell (D-MI) on Majority Leader Tom DeLay (TX-R): "These folks talk about values and decency, but then think it’s okay to change the rules once it appears one of their own may have broken them. This amounts to a work release program for the ethically challenged. We should all remember that a decade ago, Mr. DeLay helped to create this rule. Republicans said at the time they were the party of reform and good government. Now they’ve become the party of moribund hubris."

Neo-Cons and Neo-Millenialists

Here's a scary article on the neoconservatives and their affinity with one of "our" countries most important right wing religious "thinkers," Tim Lahaye.

The Day of Reckoning Near?

The International Monetary Fund is warning the United States that the US deficit is too high and that world economy is at risk because of it. As it goes of late international bankers, partcularly in Asia, have floated the US a whole lot of cash to finance the deficits that have been the rule for most of the last 30 years. Because of the dominant place of the US dollar in the world economy (as a reult of the strength of the US economy and the dollarization of petroleum) investors have been willing to finance the US government in their extravegant spending on US corporations and the war machine. Is this coming to end? I doubt it. The bankers might back out eventually if it doesn't pay but the IMF in the end is controlled by the members and contributors, the US being the largest. Will the US dicipline itself through an international organization? I doubt it.

Will we be IMFed?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

#1 Issue for the New Congress?

What does the new values mandated Cogress see as their number 1 order of business as they come back into session after the election? Changing the ethics rules so that the powerful majority leader and former exterminator Tom Delay would not violate the rules that he helped write in 1994. The rules disallowed members to stay in leadership position if they were under indictment. Values indeed.


It looks like there is a growing resistance to the war within the ranks. These brave souls should get our utmost support.

The New York Times
Former G.I.'s, Ordered to War, Fight Not to Go
November 16, 2004

The Army has encountered resistance from more than 2,000
former soldiers it has ordered back to military work,
complicating its efforts to fill gaps in the regular troops.
Many of these former soldiers - some of whom say they have
not trained, held a gun, worn a uniform or even gone for a
jog in years - object to being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan
now, after they thought they were through with life on
active duty.
They are seeking exemptions, filing court cases or simply
failing to report for duty, moves that will be watched
closely by approximately 110,000 other members of the
Individual Ready Reserve, a corps of soldiers who are no
longer on active duty but still are eligible for call-up.
In the last few months, the Army has sent notices to more
than 4,000 former soldiers informing them that they must
return to active duty, but more than 1,800 of them have
already requested exemptions or delays, many of which are
still being considered.
And, of about 2,500 who were due to arrive on military
bases for refresher training by Nov. 7, 733 had not shown
Army officials say the call-up is proceeding at rates they
anticipated, and they are trying to fill needed jobs with
former soldiers as they did in the Persian Gulf war of
Still, the resistance puts further strain on a military
that has summoned reserve troops in numbers not seen since
World War II and forced thousands of soldiers in Iraq to
postpone their departures when their enlistment obligations
Tensions are flaring between the Army and some of its
veterans, who say they are surprised and confused about
their obligations and unsure where to turn.
"I consider myself a civilian," said Rick Howell, a major
from Tuscaloosa, Ala., who said he thought he had left the
Army behind in 1997 after more than a decade flying
helicopters. "I've done my time. I've got a brand new baby
and a wife, and I haven't touched the controls of an
aircraft in seven years. I'm 47 years old. How could they
be calling me? How could they even want me?"
Some former soldiers acknowledge that the Army has every
right to call them back, but argue that their personal
circumstances - illness, single parenthood, financial woes
- make going overseas impossible now.
Others say they do not believe they are eligible to be
returned to active duty because, they contend, they already
finished the obligations they signed up for when they
joined the military. A handful of such former soldiers,
scattered across the country, have filed lawsuits making
that claim in federal courts.
These former soldiers are not among the part-time soldiers
- reservists and National Guard members - who receive
paychecks and train on weekends, and who have been called
up in large numbers over the last three years.
Instead, these are members of the Individual Ready Reserve,
a pool of former soldiers seldom ordered back to work.
Ordinarily, these former soldiers do not get military pay,
nor do they train. They receive points toward a military
retirement and an address form to update once a year.
When soldiers enlist, they typically agree to an eight-year
commitment to the Army but often are allowed to end active
duty sooner. Some of them join the Reserves or National
Guard to complete their commitment; others finish their
time in the Individual Ready Reserve.
For officers, the commitment does not expire unless they
formally resign their commissions in writing, a detail some
insist they did not know and were not told when they signed
their contracts, although Army officials strongly dispute
Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, a spokeswoman for the Army, said
people in the service are well aware of the provision. "We
all know about it," Colonel Hart said.
She said problems with the call-ups of former soldiers have
involved a relatively small number of people, are being
worked out, and are hardly unique to this conflict. In the
first gulf war, she said, more than 20,000 former soldiers
were called up. With medical problems and no-shows, only
about 14,400 were actually deployed, she said.
Most of the deployments in the first gulf war lasted 120
days, the Army said. The current call-ups are more likely
to last a year.
Of those seeking exemptions now, the Army is studying each
person's case individually, Colonel Hart said, and has no
set rule on what allows a person to avoid deployment. Army
officials are still weighing more than half of the
requests. So far, only 3 percent of requests for exemptions
have been turned down, while 45 percent have been approved.
As for the former soldiers who failed to appear at bases by
their assigned dates, the Army is trying to reach them, one
by one, to discuss their circumstances, Colonel Hart said.
In late September, some Army officials suggested that they
would pursue harsher punishments - declaring people AWOL
and possibly pursuing military charges - but the Army has
since taken a quieter, more conciliatory approach.
"These are challenging times in their lives," Colonel Hart
said, adding that some former soldiers who failed to report
might have moved and not received the Army's notice. "We're
contacting them as best as possible."
For the rest, though, some questions linger over who really
qualifies for the callback.
Colette Parrish said she burst into tears the evening that
her husband, Todd, walked into their house in Cary, N.C.,
with a letter from the Army calling him back to service.
"We had no idea this could happen," she said. "We hadn't
been preparing for any of it because we thought it wasn't
At first, Mr. Parrish, 31, said he was convinced that the
letter was just an administrative error because he believed
that his time in the Individual Ready Reserve had ended.
He had gone to college on an R.O.T.C. scholarship, then
served four years as a field artillery officer. He said he
resigned his commission after that, became an engineer, and
still owed the Army four years in the Individual Ready
Reserve to complete his total obligation.
To Mr. Parrish, who has filed a lawsuit against the Army in
federal court in North Carolina, that obligation ended on
Dec. 19, 2003. But the Army apparently does not agree, and
says that it never accepted Mr. Parrish's resignation as an
As the court fight has continued, Mr. Parrish's date to
report to Fort Sill, Okla., has been pushed back, again and
again, one month at a time. Instead of thinking about
long-term plans, for his wife and their future family, he
is living in 30-day increments.
He said he always looked back on his service years fondly,
and with a deep sense of patriotism.
"I guess I feel disillusioned now," he said. "This isn't
about being for or against the war. It's not about
Democrats or Republicans. It's just a contract, and I don't
think this is right. If they need more people, shouldn't
they get them the right way? How many more like me are
Mark Waple, Mr. Parrish's lawyer, said he had received
calls from 30 other former soldiers in recent months, all
of whom had heard of Mr. Parrish's case and had similar
At least two other former soldiers have filed suit over the
In Hawaii, David Miyasato, a former enlisted soldier who
served in the first gulf war, said he would never go AWOL;
he would have gone to Iraq, he said, if need be.
But Mr. Miyasato also said that his eight-year commitment
ended nearly a decade ago. After he received his letter
calling him back to service, he said, he called the Army
repeatedly to argue that he was not eligible. Finally, he
said, with his date to report to a base in South Carolina
just days away, he contacted a lawyer and filed suit on
Nov. 5.
"This was actually my last resort," said Mr. Miyasato, a
former truck driver and fuel hauler who said that, at 34,
he led an entirely different life, with an 8-month-old
daughter and a window-tinting company to run. "I had been
calling around everywhere for help."
On Nov. 10, Mr. Miyasato said, he learned that the Army had
rescinded his orders.
In New York, Jay Ferriola, a former captain in the Army,
filed a suit saying he had resigned his officer's
commission in June and no longer qualified for call-up in
the Individual Ready Reserve. On Nov. 5, the Army rescinded
his orders and honorably discharged him.
"This shows that the system works," Colonel Hart said. "If
the soldiers bring their situations to our attention, we're
going to do what's right."
Barry Slotnick, Mr. Ferriola's lawyer, said he wondered how
many other soldiers might be in similar positions, but
without the money, the contacts or the certainty to sue.
Mr. Slotnick said he had received numerous calls from
others since he filed Mr. Ferriola's case in late October.
"We might as well add another phone bank," Mr. Slotnick
said. "What I can see is that there are many, many cases of
people being called up that shouldn't have been. This is a
backdoor draft. I also have to wonder how many are already
in Iraq who shouldn't be there, who just didn't think to
question it."
The Army's current plan is to fill 4,400 jobs through March
from among 5,600 former soldiers ordered to duty. But an
Army official said last month that more former soldiers,
perhap in similar numbers, might be called on later next
year, aswell.
For now, those being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan are being
asked to handle a variety of support positions, including
truck drivers and fuel and food suppliers.
Months ago, the Army said some of the former soldiers would
be needed to play the French horn, the clarinet, the
euphonium, the saxophone and the electric bass as part of
the military's bands, but the notion drew criticism from
members of Congress who questioned the need to order people
to give up their civilian lives to play instruments.
Colonel Hart said the Army has since filled the musician
jobs with volunteers.
Before going to Iraq, former soldiers are receiving as many
days of training as they need, an Army spokesman said. Some
of the soldiers said they were worried, though, about the
prospect and safety of trying to get up to speed in a few
"These guys like me are basically untrained civilians now,"
said Mr. Howell, the former helicopter test pilot. Mr.
Howell said he left the Army years ago with an injured
back, knee and elbow, leaving him wondering about his own
physical condition.
"I don't even have a uniform anymore," he said. "But they
don't have any more reserves left, so we're it. All they
want is some bodies to go to Iraq, just someone to be
there, to sit on the ground."
When he left the military in 1997 as part of a reduction in
forces, Mr. Howell said, he saw a note in the "little
print" in his annuity agreement about a future commitment.
But he said he was told that his obligation to the
Individual Ready Reserve would be brief and meant little
anyway. "They said it was just a way of having me on the
books," he said.
After that, Mr. Howell said, he jumped into the civilian
world. He got married. He and his new wife began building a
house. They struggled to have children.
In September, his first child, Clayton, was born. Just
before that, his orders arrived.
"It does rip my heart out that these young men and women
are over there, and there is part of me that wants to be
with them," he said recently. "But I have responsibilities
here now."
Mr. Howell said he had applied to the Army for an exemption
but was recently turned down. If he loses his appeal, he
will be given a new reporting date. His best hope, he said,
is that his appeal is buried somewhere at the very bottom
of a big stack of them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Motorcycle Diaries

Walter Salles knows how to make movies. He knows who to cast, how to point the camera and what music will most make the viewer weepy. I saw the Motorcycle Diaries last night and at times said to myself, this is somewhat overly dramatic or obvious. But looking back, what could be more dramatic than Che Guevara's formative experience? It's a fine film with gorgeous people and scenery. Well worth giving $8.50 over to the pinche gringo imperialistas! Adelante!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Temperance Revisited

The "left" has become so timid of late that the only issues that they seem to take on are "safe" ones like smoking and eating too much. In London the moralists on in high gear banning smoking in public spaces.

This move to nannyism is a result of the success of the right. They have so succesfully dominated the debate that major issues are not even engaged anymore surrendering health care, wages, war to the sidelines.

Avoid this tendency! If people want to smoke, drink a little or even snort something why should the state have anything to say about it. It's a health issue I would agree but put it there not in the political sphere.

Friday, November 12, 2004

New Wes Anderson

I hate to be such a corporate shill but Wes Anderson's (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore) new film is coming out at Christmas time. It's called The Life Aquatic
with Steve Zissou

Free Camilo Mejia

Resistance to the war will only succeed if soldiers stop fighting and massive demonstrations and strikes disrupt the economy and political system. Camilo Mejia deserves our support.

Dear God

I have always liked this one.
Dear President Bush,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I
have learned a great deal from you, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.
When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I
simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination & End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements
of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in
her period of menstrual uncleanliness, (Lev. 15:19-24) the problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus
35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill
him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination (Lev.11:10), it is a lesser abomination that homosexuality. I don t agree. Can you settle this? Are there degrees of abomination?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have
a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two
different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two
different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them (Lev. 24:10-16)? Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, as we do with people who sleep with their in-laws (Lev. 20:14)?

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy
considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Eternally Yours,

-- A Concerned Christian American

Thursday, November 11, 2004


I think a better way to look at the Red/Bluedivide at least from a non-electoral college political perspective is to look at a the relative county vote and the counties won by each party map. These two maps give one a better idea of the concentration of barabarism and socialism as Marx put it.

It looks like our only hope is more water!

On the social front here's a pretty decent take on the values of the red areas. Murder, divorce, crime, inequality, and a load of other social ills are far greater in the red states. With values like those...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Beware of God

Daniel Lazare on the debate about Islam. Always a pleasure to read D.L. whom I first read in the Bergen Record in High School.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Kill the Chicken and Scare the Monkey

This is probably the best slogan I have heard in awhile. It come from China where a "strike hard" policy is endorsed by a vast majority if the populace. Strike hard is a policy of rounding up "criminals" by the hundreds and sometimes thousands and executing them. I came across this approach in a CBC documentary featured on Wisconsin Public Radio called "To Kill or to Cure?" This documentary looks at the criminal justice systems in Japan, the US, China, Finland, and Canada. A very Canadian approach. In Canada they are tinkering with their system lately borrowing from the US and trying out approaches from Scandanvia also. It's worth a look.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Why Republicans Win

It's not because of fraud. It's because they have out organized the left and liberals. They have issues that they aticulate, war, tax cuts, antigay, etc... Can you name 3 issues Kerry stood for? When Roosevelt and Truman started to alienate the solid (racist) southern Democrats the ball began to roll. The 1964 election saw the first electoral fissure and by the time 1968 rolled around Nixon's boys, including Kevin Philips, figured out a southern strategy that is still paying benefits today. Reagan's addition was the rightward political mobilization of evangelical christians and catholics and the Democrats contribution to the rightward shift has been the embrace of Wall Street and Market Populism. This brings us to the question of why Bush and the Republicans are now in the majority in all branches of the Federal government, control most state houses and lots of governorships. It's the same reason the Democrats Lost Kansas.

What is to be done?

*We need to take on imperialism to show that it makes us less safe and that it kills and impoverishes billions including us.

*We need to talk about values so that people do not see more secular folks as the devil. Health care, day care, wages, pensions, principled democratic positions, principled positions on crime and punishment all could be spoken about in the terms of values even if we disagree on abortion or gay rights.

* Gay rights need to be discussed in terms of democratic rights. The marriage debate we will lose. Let anyone who wants to get married wherever they want but the state should only be dealing in civil relationships in legal matters, terms of benefits, visitation, etc...

*The role of government needs to be discussed with more clarity. Health care is a winner in this respect. VA hospitals are run cheaper and better in many respects than private institutions. Medicare and Medicaid are subsidies to corporations that need to be scrapped. They actually are part of the reason costs are so high. They just feed the never satisfied appetite of the beast.

*Social Security needs to become a national pension system. I think even employers would get behind this idea.

This is a program for victory. The Democrats after 2004 will probably go in exactly the opposite direction.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Unless you are an owner of large business or a trust funder you will become poorer as a result of this election. Here are some short and long term impacts of this election.
*Watch out Iraqi's you are now going to become even more of a free fire zone.
*The supreme court could have as many as 3 new reactionaries appointed to it in the next 4 years.
*Social Security partial privatization is now on the table.
*Some sort of tort "reform" will be passed in the next two years.
*State houses around the country are now more Republican. This will ensure the majority in the House will remain for a long long time.

The Democrats have a serious dilemma. Their base is more and more liberal. The leadership is becoming more and more pragmatic/centrist/sold out to Wall Street. Can they bring out their base, Union households, Blacks, Jews, single women, with a message that is contrary to their interets? James Carville is correct when he asked what do you call a candidate that depends on young people in a election? Answer, a loser.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Packers have spoken.

With the Redskin loss this weekend Bush's loss is assured. Seriously though I am predicting a Kerry win. I know this is going with the flow of the pundits but if Ohio is truly this close then Kerry will pick up 2 of 3 in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. If he does this then he does not even need Florida which I believe Bush will win. I think Kerry will get 273 electoral votes (no Florida, Wisconsin or New Mexico- he will pick up the votes in Ohio and New Hampshire). Actually I just re-added this scenario and this leads to a 269/269 tie. What fun!

For the first time since 1984 I considered voting Democrat for President. I surprised myself with this given the battle scars over the years on this issue, here's why. I was somewhat swayed by the argument that a Bush defeat is important, Tariq Ali and others have made this argument. Those who make this argument, which I agree with, maintain that his reactionary rule must be repudiated. In other words primarily for the war in Iraq it must be shown that you cannot get away with this kind of imperial plunder and slaughter. I will be happy if he loses. It will send a positive message but I still didn't vote Kerry.

Kerry supported the war and supports the occupation. He also supports the "WAR ON TERRORISM." This means perpetual war with whomever is the enemy of the week. He supports an increase in spending for Special Forces and for the "intelligence" forces. This means more spying on people around the world and in our country. He volunteered for Vietnam because he believes in US power and the use of it for good. I think when it is used 9 times out of ten the result will be negative. I know he opposed the war when he returned but not after killing a number of Vietnamese who were only trying to defend their homes and nation.

His domestic plan is meager at best.

Build the Greens and other third party movements so that the Democrats and Republicans will at least inch to the left. Otherwise we will have a slow drift rightward in both parties which has occurred over the last 30 years.

Need to know where to vote? Go to this site.

Create your own electoral scenario at this site.

Anthropomorphic Swine: Take This!

In Brazil a legislature has final found the root of our troubles: giving animals human names! Once we are rid of this scourge nirvana will reign! Read an article about it here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Role of Politicians

This is what happens when you have a viable left wing challenger to the Democrats (Newsome won a close race to a Green lefty)! This is what city politicians should be doing, raising the wages of service sector workers! Hotels and other service jobs can't move to Mexico.

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom warned hotel operators that if they don't end their lockout by Tuesday afternoon, he will join workers on the picket line, call for a boycott of the 14 hotels involved and urge other mayors to play hardball with the properties' corporate owners.
Newsom, who previously had sought to appear neutral in the work stoppage that started with a limited strike Sept. 29, said Monday that if the lockout goes beyond a second week, he wouldn't hesitate to come to the aid of room cleaners, cooks, bellmen and other workers.
"If the lockout does not end, the hotels know where I am going to position myself, not as an advocate, but as an exceedingly strong advocate for the people out there on the lines, in the rain, through the holidays, who are the pawns in this," Newsom said.
The mayor gave the group that represents the hotels until Tuesday afternoon to respond to his request for a 90-day cooling off period that would allow the locked-out workers to return to their jobs while talks are continuing.
If the answer is no, he said he would "do everything in my power to see to it that the city and county of San Francisco does not do business with those hotels" for the more than three years remaining in his term.
The hotels could also expect less than four-star service when it comes to getting streets cleaned, potholes fixed and graffiti removed, he said.
The union called a two-week strike at four downtown hotels Sept. 29; it was have to ended Oct. 13. But operators of 10 other hotels responded with a lockout that later extended to the four hotels initially affected by the strike.
"The hotels now have gotten their two weeks in after the two-week strike," the mayor said. "Fair is fair. As far as I'm concerned, you're even. Now let's all grow up and get back to work."
A spokeswoman for the hotel operators — the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group — said the group plans to respond to Newsom by the deadline but would not say whether they planned to call off the lockout.
"We recognize how serious the mayor is about this issue and we're considering his request," said Barbara French, the group's spokeswoman. "The interest of the hotels is to reach agreement and to reach an agreement that addresses the issues and provides what they think is the most secure avenue for a solution."
Contract talks between the two sides broke down last month over wages, employee health care costs and the main sticking point — the length of the new contract. The employers are seeking a five-year contract, but to gain leverage against the corporations that own and run many major hotels, the union wants a two-year contract that expires in 2006, when its counterparts in New York, Chicago, Boston and other major cities will renegotiate their labor pacts.
The 14 hotels account for about a quarter of San Francisco's 32,500 hotel rooms, and include such luxurious properties as the Westin St. Francis, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins and the Fairmont.
"They will have sent a message that San Francisco is dispensable as a city and its employees can be used as pawns," Newsom said. "That's not what this city stands for. You chose the wrong city to take that action."

The Hallowed Team?

My brother asks:

Correlation? or Causation?

Claim: The outcome of Washington Redskins football games has correctly
predicted the winner of every U.S. presidential election since 1936.

Status: True.


The Washington Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor.
In the previous 15 elections, if the Washington Redskins have lost their last
home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White
When they have won, the incumbent has stayed in power.

This election year, that deciding game takes place on Sunday, October 31 ...
vs. Green Bay.

Go Pack!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Once again critics of Israel are under attack for spurious charges of anti-semitism because of their outspoken views on Israel and US foreign policy. The charge of anti-semitim has become increasingly yielded by defenders of Zionism to silence its critics. Read below and act!

Dear Friends,
A colleague, Joseph Massad, is currently the target of a intensive campaign directed at Columbia University. The campaign wants to force the University, among other things, to fire Prof. Massad for his "anti-Israel" views, and to eliminate the Edward Said Chair held by Prof. Rashid Khalidi, who recently published a book, Resurrecting Empire. The New York Sun summed up the aims of this campaign in an editorial, the last paragraph of which says:
"The way to begin correcting the situation would be with a grand gesture. A Columbia honorary degree for Prime Minister Sharon would be one way to do it. So would firing Mr. Massad, or giving back the money from the United Arab Emirates, or disciplining Mr. Khalidi for the errors in his book. Then Columbia could set about hiring some teachers who display genuine critical judgment."

The weapon of choice in this campaign is an underground documentary produced by a right wing organization, the David Project, interviewing students who complain of anti-Israel bias on campus and accusing faculty, especially Prof. Massad, of anti-Semitism. This video is being shown behind closed doors to key administrators at Columbia and to various organizations and politicians. It is not open to the public (thus far) and none of the charges have been substantiated. Indeed, similar charges were found baseless last year by an investigative committee appointed by the President of Columbia. Nevertheless, New York mayoral hopeful, Congressman Weiner, has written a letter to the President of Columbia urging that Prof. Massad be fired.

I do not expect this campaign to end any time soon. I have seen similar ones on several campuses now and they persist despite the fact that exhaustive investigations by university administrators do not substantiate such complaints. You may recall similar charges at Berkeley, such as the long front page story this past summer in the East Bay Express based on interviews with select pro-Israel activists who accuse UC Berkeley of being a bastion of anti-Semitism. There is no shortage of targets nor an end to charges, no matter how discredited. At this point in time, Columbia seems to be in the front lines. Do what you can to defend academic freedom.

Provost Alan Brinkley's E-mail is
Vice-president Nick Dirks's E-mail is
President Lee Bollinger's E-mail is

Beshara Doumani
University of California
Dept. of History
3229 Dwinelle Hall
Berkeley, Ca 94720-2550
510 643-3147 (office)
510 643-5323 (fax)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Milwaukee Film Fest

One of my favorites, Wong Kar Wai (Fallen Angels, Chunking Express, Happy Together), is being featured at the Oriental. Check out the entire schedule here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


The only word that came to mind when I heard the Cheney's complaining about John Kerry's reference to the Cheney's LESBIAN daughter. Why didn't they mention it after the Vice-Presidential debate? Here's a good article on Lynn Cheney's hypocrisy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kerry Pulling Ahead? Are the Masses Asses?

Great commentary on today's electoral vote map. Did you know that Kerry supports vouchers and Bush opposes tax cuts for the rich? Well, about 25% of Tenneseeans do!

Monday, October 18, 2004

A Lot More Sophisticated Than TASS

Tom Tommorow on how information is interpreted in the US media. Spot on.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Limits of US Politics

Every year I do the Political Compass exercise with my students. The students consistently are baffled by the limited nature of the political spectrum in our country. Me too! Go to the political compass and "take the test." The evil of lessers is right.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


These comments on the debates are well reasoned and pretty much the way I saw them in the sense of style and tactics.

Missle Defense

Jonathan Schell on the Nuclear Missle Defense that isn't.


The debates are over. My main comments would be, WHY ARE BUSH AND FOX AND COMPANY SO ANGRY? The are in power! I think this is their appeal. Most white guys are mad in general because of their loss in status in the workplace. Religious folks are mad because they are damned for eternity. And Sean Hannity is mad because his high school football coach took him out of the game sophomore year. It's amazing how their anger is not an issue! I think this is a major reason for the gender gap.

I'm not voting for Kerry, I'm voting for Cobb/Green, but I must say the debates could have made the difference.

Take a look at the electoral map. There has been some movement in key states for Kerry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


As you probably noticed the red and the lack has been on the fritz! Well, EVERYTHING was lost and I did not save it in another document. I am very pained by this turn of events. You would be surprised how much time went into, favorite movies or favorite books.
Well, lesson learned!

Thursday, October 07, 2004



Is There an Islamic Problem?

A new book on Islam and the West. It's a political question that Edward Said answered regularly. Link to the Edward Said Archive.


An analysis of the Vice-Presidential debate when it comes to foreign policy. A point by point rebuttal.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Naomi Klein Answers Hitchens et. al.

Naomi Klein defends her arguments about al-Sadr and his involvement in the Iraqi elections.

The VP Debate

Just a measure of the dismal state of historical memory and the limits of the Dempublicans. Cheney brought up El Salvadoor in the debate last night. He likened the FMLN (leftist liberation movement who have now given up the armed struggle and are a social democratic political party) to the Islamist car bombers in Iraq. One group's model is the 7th century the others the 20th or better, one wants to ban music and kite flying the other drink cuba libre's and dance salsa all night long, one wants a theocratic dictatorship run by beards the other wants a democratic socialism internationally.

Edwards would never have gone near this question because he agrees with Cheney. They both oppose social democracy and any trick or rhetorical device to discredit the left they will both use.


Thursday, September 30, 2004

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Some of the latest on the Charter school debate. The links.


Some of the rules for the "debate!"

This post is from Politics1, see website at your left.

A SUGGESTION FOR THE FIRST KERRY-BUSH "DEBATE." Instead of the 32-page list of rules approved by the Bush and Kerry campaigns -- restrictions so stultifying as to render Thursday's so-called "debate" into nothing more than side-by-side memorized monologues -- I have an idea to liven things up. Under the agreement, the two sides mandate camera angles, the before and after handshakes, who sits in the audience and where, podium height, allowable pens and paper for each candidate, bans props, prohibits the two men from addressing each other directly, imposes severe restrictions on the moderators, etc. So ... here's my idea to fix the problem. Since the debate is to be televised live -- and live TV is, well, LIVE -- what would happen if the moderator, with cameras rolling, says "Gentlemen, these rules are ridiculous. They don't allow for a meaningful exchange of ideas, so I'm simply going to set them aside and tell you how we're really going to do it tonight so that the American people can benefit from a real debate ...." And, while we're at it, I hope the TV networks break the restriction that prohibits them from unexpectedly filming either man while others are speaking while all this is going on.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Health Care

New Flash! The health care industry, notice I don't use the word system, is bankrupting the nation! Oh, this isn't a news flash?!

The Ground Game

Some analysis on the get out the vote efforts in Ohio and Florida.
I think the Democrats are in a panic and this is trying to make them feel better. I have also heard that registration is up but I would be very surprised if the turnout is 3 points higher than 2000.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Send Carter to Florida

This is probably one of the few instances that I would support the Carter group "observing" elections.

Demonstration Elections?

Will the January elections in Iraq be manipulated? Is that a rhetorical question?

Voting strategies in the upper mid-west

Where will future votes for the Democrats come from? Latino voters?

Legal battles or a program?

A. Cockburn on what a progressive left wing campaign should look like. I agree.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Live in a Craptown?

I know there is some class bias here but there is some fun to be had. Is your town a craptown?

Los Amigos

Los Amigos Invisibles have a new album. I have not heard it yet but their first three are amazing. Latin American disco that rocks!

Was it Emma Goldman?

"Wahhabism, the state religion in Saudi Arabia, and the inspirer of al Qaeda, is especially known for its hatred of music. In
Wahhabi theology, all music except for drum accompaniment to religious chanting is haram, or forbidden."

Is that where Tipper got her ideas about punk?

I don't know if this is true but it just makes me chuckle. The article was from a neo-con at the Daily Standard.

September 11 and Iraq Revisited

Take a look at this dialogue between US stooge Alawi and Macleherror. Amazing!

JIM LEHRER: What would you say to somebody in the United States who questions whether or not getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth the cost of more than a thousand lives now and billions and billions of U.S. dollars?

(notice he doesn't mention the Iraqi dead)!

PRIME MINISTER IYAD ALLAWI: Well, I assure you if Saddam was still there, terrorists will be hitting there again at Washington and New York, as they did in the murderous attack in September; they'll be hitting also on other places in Europe and the Middle East.

How Democratic is the Constitution?

Robert Dahl, a longtime (he's 88) mainstream Political Scientist, wrote a book a couple of years ago, that I read this summer, on the anti-democratic nature of the US constitution. He particularly takes on the Senate and the Electoral College. Here's a good review.

Would Big States Rule?

I ran across the old argument about big states running rough shod over small states if we got rid of the Senate. See my comments at the blog.

Taxation Without Representation?

Should felons be banned from voting?

Dogs vs. MRI's

Dog's can "sniff out" cancer in humans. Read article here.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Union Forever


Musicians Local 8 is fighting for a first contract at the Skylight Opera

Theater. The Musicians won a representation election in January of

2003. The employer has yet to agree on payments to the union pension

fund, a fair pay scale, and job security issues. Since January, the

management has agreed to only one face-to-face meeting with Union


Please support the Musicians by joining an informational picket line

(kazoos will be provided) on Friday, September 24 at 7 PM at the

Broadway Theater Center, 158 N. Broadway. That is opening night for the

Skylight production of Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio".

In addition, the Musician's need volunteers for help on the evening of

Wednesday, September 29. Please call Dave Lussier (332-5000 or

262-385-1862) if you can participate in that activity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Communists and Rightists do well in Eastern German Elections

Article on German elections.

"Tommy Franks: "We don't do body counts"

Body Count/Iraq


Take a look at this site. I show it to my students on a daily basis. The variability is incredible particularly because he incorporates all polls into the spreadsheet. Read his comments on poll methodology, quite insightful.

Maybe Cat Stevens was on board?

The local airline in Milwaukee grounded a flight this week because someone on board found a dangerous code in the in flight magazine. It was FARSI!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

2046 To Be Released In Britain

Wong Kar-wai's new film 2046 is to be released in Britain soon. Did I not say much awaited?

Motorcycle Diaries

"But the film is so beautiful," say Salles's fans. No--it's pretty. Eric Gautier photographed it, with frequent and unnecessary use of the wan light and monochromatic effects that are now high-fashion clichés of their own. With this much sense of visual discovery, The Motorcycle Diaries could spawn a glossy magazine: Condé-Nast Revolution.

Stewart Klawans on The Motorcycle Diaries, a biography of Che's early years, adapted from the book. Here's the entire review.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Putin's Move Towards Dictatorship

Here's the Economist's take on Putin's power grab last week.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Name of this Post is Bliss

This record changed my life. Or it was the soudtrack for a transformative time of my life. Listen to this album. It's free at this site. Thank you very muuuuch!

Friday, September 17, 2004


I strongly recommend going to this site (referenced below) if you are at all interested in Mesoamerican history. The images in the galleries are amazing.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Maya Expalined

For many years I have listened to people explain the Maya writing system. This person should be awarded a medal for explaining it so well.

Now Only Tommy Remains

Johnny Ramone dead at 55. When will this dying end?

Milwaukee Brewers Need Your Help

Brewery Workers Local 9 needs your help. Please call Miller CEO Mr.
Norman Adamai at 414-931-2294 to express your concern. They are in very
difficult contract negotiations with Miller Brewery. There are 3 key
issues that remain unresolved:

" Mandatory overtime. Our forefathers in Milwaukee lost their lives in
1886 in the fight for the eight hour day. What they said then applies
today as well. Working people should expect eight hours to rest and
eight hours to do as they see fit after spending eight hours on the job.

In an era where we are all concerned about stresses on our family
structures, we should have the right to go home after an eight hour

" Unreasonable increases in health care out-of-pocket expenses. We are
all highly aware of the outrageous increases in the cost of health care
in our community. Your employees have consistently foregone wage
increases to help shoulder the load of premium increases. However, the
current proposal will make health care too expensive for many of your
employees, encouraging them to forego prevention and early intervention.

This will further escalate your health care costs.

" Loss of jobs. As recently as Thursday morning, at the United Way
campaign kickoff, Miller has publicly stated its support for family
supporting jobs in the Milwaukee community. Your plan to restructure
production into multi-skill teams will lead to the loss of many good
jobs at your own facility.

For more information, call Brewery Workers Local 9 at 475-5898.

opeiu 9 afl-cio

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Todd Gitlin: Red Baiter

Todd Gitlin seems to be heading in the Chris Hitchens direction.

The Logical Outcome of the "War on Terror"

Putin's latest draconian measures point to outcomes that lots of authoritarians in this country would like. I am not saying that a putsch is in the air but the "conservatives" that run the US these days are not conservative in the least. They will employ radical anti-democratic means because they distrust the people and open societies. Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, et al are more sophisticated than Putin but in the back of their minds they wish they had the kind of power Putin has grabbed.

Election Results in Wisconsin

Some amazing outcomes in Wisconsin this primary season.

In the district 4 democratic primary State Senator Gwen Moore (the most progressive candidate) swamped the to white guys handily. Many thought the white vote would be split by Flynn and Carpenter but clearly most white liberals and Latinos voted for Moore sending Wisconsin's first black female to Congress. I assume this will be the case because District 4 tends to vote 75% Democratic.

The other suprise in Wisconsin was the poor showing of car guy Russ Darrow who lost to Tim Michels a ex Green Beret and Construction millionaire in the Republican primary for US Senate. Feingold should beat this right-wing lunatic with ease.

Another ominous development was the election win for Glen Grothman in the West Bend area. Grothman challenged Mary PAnzer the Senate Majority leader and beat her 79-21! This guy is so far right he was recently seen hanging out with Eva Braun!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Jackson Out for at Least 4 to 6 Weeks

The worst news of Monday night. Grady Jackson out for 4 to 6 weeks at least!

Democracy Sweeping the Middle East as Promised

Saudi election "postponed" again.


Bush the lesser of two evils.

The Turkish Parliament Debates Outlawing Adultery

Do they really think this could work? Obviously this is a rhetorical question.

Friday, September 10, 2004

War Crimes in Vietnam?

Did the US committ war crimes in Vietnam?

Cuba: Now and Then

The Cuban Revolution and its place in history.

The Democrats and Democracy

Here's the despicable story of the Democratic Party's anti-democratic tactics in Oregon. By the way they are using similar tactics in other states. This is why the Property Party with two right wings (Gore Vidal) must not be encouraged.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Pro-Imperialist Stance Rebuffed at AFL-CIO Conference

Radicals pass anti-imperialist resolution at conference.

Grasping At Straws

Matt Rothschild on Kerry and the war.

It amazes me to no end how liberals can so easily be hood-winked. Kerry/Dukakis/Mondale are down in the polls, they look like they will lose, so they play up to the base (populism or anti-war, whatever the flavor of the month is) so they are not totally humiliated in the electoral college. Howard Dean road the anti-war horse so Kerry decided to jump on. Even though he voted for the war and has critiqued Bush from the right on military policy, we need more troops in Iraq and around the world, people who should know better, like Matt Rothschild, can still propagate the idea that Kerry is going to take troops out of Iraq. Bush/Cheney are right, Kerry is incoherent on Iraq!

Rupert Murdoch Ponies Up $50 Million To Dramatize Zinn's People's History

Matt Damon and Ben Afflack have approached Fox to get a People's History to the masses. Looks like a great project.

Electoral Votes

Kerry needs to win 2 of 3 of Florida, Ohio or Missouri. It's not looking good. This site is very good. I know it emphasizes the horse race but it also shows the importance of the electoral college.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

On History and Its Uses

Here's an article on how history is used for partisan purposes. Not a new idea but well argued.

The crimes of history are optional. We mix, match and discard according to taste and convenience. It's useful for Applebaum's Tory backers to remember Stalin's crimes because they can still use them to bash anyone who might want to beef up the National Health system with higher taxes. "Today an extra 1% VAT on my Jag convertible, tomorrow Kolyma!" is a very familiar war cry from these crusaders for human rights. Other massacres are dim stats, to be dredged up when necessary. Take, for example, all the tens of millions of dead in the Japanese occupation of China. They are rarely invoked in the West, because we don't need them. The Japanese are thoroughly spent, neither a threat nor a bad example of anything we worry about at the moment. The Chinese are more of a worry, making the invocation of their dead a dangerous concession. And in the Tory mind, those dead are connected with ignominy: the surrender of Singapore without a fight, the sinking of the Repulse and Prince of Wales...and so it goes, with a huge number of tangential mental associations determining which of the billions of corpses clogging the earth will be dug up and flung at one's opponents at any particular moment.

Thanks to Jeff for the

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Creative Class

I've heard a lot about the "creative class" lately (NPR had a story this morning). All our cities need is some gays, some rockers, some coffee shops and some artists and we will all be living the vida loca! There is a shuckster out there by the name of Richard Florida who is one of the primary popularizers of these ideas, and he gets payed a lot of money (the Bader Foundation in Milwaukee just gave him a bunch for speaking here) because lots of city planners and intellectuals love to hear that they are the most productive and important members of social and economic systems. They traffic in it because it's a lot easier to say, look at these new condos and this great new club, see how our city is changing for the better even though populations and wages are declining in central cities in the US. Milwaukee has a lot of this talk lately, downtown is reviving, a new urban space is being created because gays, rockers, and coffee shops are now in the hood.

The problem with this approach can be summed up in one word, JOBS. People moved to Milwaukee for 100 years because we built tractors, brewed beer, designed and manufactured tools and dies for other industries, because we built motorcycles and engines. We made things. Now we don't. And it was not just because we made things in Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Troy, Albany, and other upper Midwest cities that these cities prospered it was because the workers in these industries organized to demand high wages and benefits that created demand thus raising the standard of living for all in our communities.

The new urbanists and Florida's ilk want us to believe that if we spend our monies on sports stadiums, convention centers and high end performing arts centers we will bring in the "right" kind of diverse people and we'll see them in their outdoor cafe's and this will cause a turn around for urban poverty. Well I think they have it exactly backward. If you have decent high paying jobs people will move anywhere. How many thousands recently applied for the longshoremen jobs in California? How many thousands lined up for auto worker jobs because there was a rumor of jobs last year.

I think people like Florida don't really believe their own propaganda or at least the people that pay their bills don't because we knew in Milwaukee that the convention center would be a colossal drain on funds in this city and would only serve a small group of hotel owners, builders, and restauranteers. We also knew the same for the baseball stadium that sits open 2/3rds of the year and wasn't even put downtown because of the suburban constituency that it serves. Cities like Milwaukee now play the role, at least in the central part, as low wage ghettos. Basketball arenas, convention centers, hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment centers dominate some of our most storied cities. Low wage service workers help keep the prices low for these venues. The central city has reversed its historical role from center to periphery. Suburbanites now use the city primarily for a playground that has been made easily accesible by transportation systems that allow easy access in and out of the city.

Milwaukee and other cities like it need high paying jobs. And if coffee shop staff, rock club bouncers and bartenders and gay go-go dancers got paid $46,000 with decent health benefits and a pension I would be cheering right along with Florida. But in the meantime I say lets have socialized medicine, an industrial policy, support for trade unions on a massive scale and local government that helps people train for the skills that will allow them to make a decent living while they work and a long prosperous vacation when they retire.

Conventional Wisdom?

I was watching an interview with one of John Kerry's daughter's (30) the other day, I might add she was far more articulate and good looking than he. She went to Brown and just finished grad school and she was speaking to a crowd at Ann Arbor or Berkley. I have to admit I was somewhat infatuated but the comment that shook me from my lust was her comment that I have heard again and again this election cycle that this IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN A LIFETIME.

I don't think this is a particularly important election.

Both Bush and Kerry agree on the major issues of the day, war and occupation in Iraq and an unending "war on teror" (whatever that means)-they are both for it, health care-Bush wants to leave it alone to the detrimant of us all and Kerry wants to putz around the edges-he vaguely talks about insuring the uninsured (how he will do this with a Republican congress is beyond me, trade/capitalism-they both want to favor US corporations so that the US can sell things at an advantage over others in the world by subsidizing things we make and by keeping regimes in power that keep wages low thus undermining wages at home.

The most important election in our lifetime? I think not.


Aaarnold lies about his Soviet experience, and nobody cares. Arnold and Ronnie are a lot alike. They are big right wing populists that believe their own propoganda.

Friday, September 03, 2004


The US as empire, something the ideological savvy opinion makers, since the earliest days have tried to deny is dissected in this article in Monthly Review.

The Referendum in Venezuela

James Petras on right and left wing myths about Hugo Chavez.

War With Iran

NPR beats the war drums for an invasion of Iran.

Volunteer for Vietnam? Bad Idea

I certainly do think that from a pratical political point of view Kerry should stress his Vietnam service to contrast it to the chickenhawks who run the show today. But in a sane time this bragging about volunteering for a war that brought the death of 3 million southeast asians from peasant societies would be seen as grotesque to say the least. Here's some perspective on the war in southeast asia.

Would You Hire G.W.B. As CEO?

Juan Cole on Bush's speech at the RNC.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Kerry Zombies and NGO's

Back to Cockburn's rants as we begin the new school year.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

A Challenge To Liberals

United States Liberals,

What kind of world do you want to live in?

Today as you live comfortably, as do I, billions live in fear of the next outrage. Not the meta-physical outrage of a bum trip or cloudy day but the outrage of a parasite, a bullet in the neck, the insecurity of the next check, the fear of the the lack of the next meal, and the never contemplated notion of most first worlders that they have at least a minor impact on the trajectory of their lives.

What are you going to do about this condition?

First, the most banal of our dilemas, voting in the next presidential election, which seems to exercise even the most progressive minded citizen of the USA. There is very little issue here: the son of the elite and the son of the elite differ slightly on the primary issue of the day-war and empire, one wants more troops in the latest colony (Iraq) to shore up the United States global position (the Democrat) and the other wants to maintain US dominance militarily and politically whether allied elites around the world agree or not. The vote should be for those that reject this Hobsian dilema between parties and movements that say no to war and empire and those who differ only in degree over the tactics of imperialism. It amazes me how much carbon dioxide is wasted n this clear choice between plunder and repression and humanity.

Second, if you live comfortably, why is this the case? Traveling in California the last two weeks it takes around forty seconds to figure out how many (28%?) of the population live in $600,000 dollar homes and drive SUV's and shop at Whole Foods for $12.00/lb Pacific Ahi Tuna. It's because on a daily basis a cheap working class, primarily from Mexico, toil for wages protected from inflation by the Hamiltonian paridise.

Friday, July 02, 2004


I have been traveling in sprawlville for the lat 10 days and will report later.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Worker Rights In The US

The record of the US for labor rights. Take a look at how the US compares to other counties in this comprehensive look at workers rights internationally.

Frog Films

Watched two pretty good films this weekend particularly The Town is Quiet. The other was My Wife is an Actress.

Did Reagan Topple Communism?

Liberals and reactionaries seem to agree that the Reagan administration was the main reason for the restoration of capitalism in Eastern Europe. I have my doubts. Of course the West's encirclement of the region had a lot to do with its collapse, necessitating a huge investment in the military (which isn't always a bad thing for the economy as Reagan knew) and helping to prop up the dictatorship by creating a viable threat (NATO) a la Cuba. But Trotsky talked about the bureaucracy's capacity to sell out long ago. In Revolution Betrayed and other works Trotsky pretty much predicted that the Soviet ruling elite would hand over economic power to themselves in a capitalist regime because Stalinism had already capitulated a central tenant of socialism, workers democracy, and thus would give up without much of fight because they would probably be better able to keep more surplus for themselves under capitalism.

Here's a discussion of the issue on Maxspeak.

Is Bush Losing It?

Here's the source for the A Cockburn article about Bush's increasingly eratic behavior.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

David Brooks

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits had Tommy Lasorda and Mike Schmitt beating the tar out of George Will after a discussion of baseball. Whenever I read David Brooks I think of this skit. By the way, his ideas come very close to those of Thomas Frank and the Baffler (THIEF!) from a right wing opportunist perspective. Here's a look at Brooks from the Nation.