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.