Friday, September 30, 2005

Iraqi Unions Resist Privatization

Along with the murderous Jihadis the US must now deal with progressive forces as well. Say no to privatization from Milwaukee to Mosul!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Big Country

One of my favorite scenes in any film is in The Big Country (which was on TCM last night), an amazing western by one of the greats, William Wyler (see favorite directors to your right). In the scene Greg Peck, the eastern seaman, is at a party for his engagement to the local caudillos' daughter, played by Carroll Baker. At the party a yocal asks Peck, "have you ever seen anything so big?" Peck answers, "well yes, a number of oceans." It goes to the small world of the big country, get it? Jeane Simmons and Berle Ives are amazing not to mention outstanding characters played by Chuck Connors and Chalrles Bickford. Charlton Heston isn't that bad either, he actually plays a complex fellow. The star though is the West, IT'S SO BIG! It's close to a perfect film.

Goodfella, Hill Heads To The Big House

Henry Hill just can't stay away from that razor thin garlic!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Some Video Shorts from Hampshire

A bleak example of some of the animation shorts I found on the Hamshire, England site.

Others fom the same festival.

Venezuela To Nationalize Food Plant

I must say I have been very tentative in my approach to Hugo Chavez but it looks like those bull sessions with Fidel are finally having an effect. It still looks very top down from my vantage point but you've got to like the gradualist approach and the outcomes. Venezuela and Bolivia seem to be the only game in town these days?

Junk Food Banned

Britain to ban junk food in schools.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Porn for Porn

Here's a nuggett from Tom Tomorrow. It seems that a new currency for US soldiers is pictures of mutilated Iraqis. The commodity that they are able to trade for said currency? Porn.


I have tried many many times to upload this picture I found of one of my former students at the rally in DC to the below post on the rally without luck. It's on the BBC international site and the AP wire. Interestingly enough his parents were instrumental in my political education in the middle 1980's.

Tony Blur, "New Labor" and the Nanny State

Because social democrats and center left parties like Britains Labor party and the German Social Democrats have conceded so much ground on issues such as health care, pensions, support for unions, free trade... they have very little to stand on so we now hear alot about, modernization, competetiveness, bold reform and MORALITY. This is truly the last refuge of scoundrels. Clinton loved to talk about it, he quoted the Bible more than any other President, and Tony Blair has made a career of it. Now that he has hitched his wagon to W and the neo-con crusade he really has to push it because he can't back out now without looking like an opportunist. Developments at this years Labor Party conference show exactly what to expect for Tony's last term, union bashing, moralizing and more "it's not our fault that terrorism exists, those people are BAD."

Monday, September 26, 2005

September 24: Americans Consume, Leave Anti-War Rally

A hundred thousand or so marched in Washington this weekend against the war in Iraq, myself included. United for Peace and Justice and International Answer organized the rally, march and concert that encircled the White House for the first time in ten years. ANSWER as Alex Cockburn act like back benchers from the cast of The Life of Brian listing every cause on their banners and literature from the war in Iraq to fixing the stop lite at 5th Avenue and 47th Street. UPJ on the other hand try for a single demand like US Out Now! and try to stick to the point and create the largest movement possible under such a banner.

Random thoughts on the march; what's up with the fixation with the White House? It was such a focal point that we stalled in front of it. After we passed the White House, which was unoccupied by W the Younger, the march lost some steam. It picked up when the anarchist drummers smashed through a barricade but the energy surely released after 1600 Pennsylvania. There was no food on the mall except for a few institutional stands and those nasty New York City type pretzel vendors! Now I appreciate the lack of commercialism in the entire city and on the mall but where was Food Not Bombs and the hash brownie/burrito sellers? This points to my major problem with the rally/march/concert, people seemed to consume the event. They came to the march checked out the White House and went home. The concert was VERY poorly attended. I would say at the most there were 2,000 people at the concert. WE ARE LACKING A MOVEMENT CULTURE! We can't just consume social change. It has to be something that you want to do because it feels, tastes, sounds good. The counter-culture in the 60's understood this. The left/labor folks of the 30's understood this. These things are organic however and you can't create chicken salad out of chicken shit to quote a baker I met at the rally. We live in a time where niche marketing is seen as progressive (see Thomas Frank on Market Populism). If we think what we buy makes us some how radical we are deluding ourselves. I know it's an old debate but this march depressingly re-enforced the old Marcusian idea that we are automatons in the consumer culture. On the positive it was great to see thousands out demanding an end to the madness and lots of people met, agitated, educated, and felt like they weren't alone in struggle that is THE most important issue today. By the way I went to the U2 concert last night and Bono did a shout out for the great men and women of America's armed forces while a huge US flag swaggered behind him. I surrender!

Ever Have a Bakku Shann Experience?

Bakku Shann is the Japanese phrase for enjoying the view of a women from behind and then being suprised at a frontal view. This phrase and lots of others are in a new book about humorous phrases from other languages.

Friday, September 23, 2005

All Out For September 24!

The nation has turned against this latest episode of imperialist plunder and adventurism. We really have a chance to expose this rotten shell of a ruling elite by turning out hundreds of thousands tomorrow. If you can't make it to Washington (I'll be there) go to your local rally. The Sheehan stuff has really taken off. When her caravan was here in Milwaukee the usual suspects were in the minority and there were lots of veterans and veterans families there. US OUT NOW! NO BLOOD FOR OIL! US HANDS OFF IRAQ!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Trouble for the Planet: In Europe At Least It's Cheaper To Fly

Research on traveling costs in Europe. I think speed is also a consideration particularly when you are visiting for a short time. I took the ferry from Stockholm to Tallin in April, it took like 14 hours. I flew back in 45 minutes.

7.5% of Britains Born Abroad

Demographics of the UK.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Blood for No Oil?

Liberal nationalist Michael Klare on the lack of Iraqi oil.

The US: A Third World Country?

For those of us who live in what has over the last 30 years been called the "Rust Belt" (the former industrial corridor from Lowell, MA to Minneapolis, MN), the question of whether or not we have reached third world status is not even a question. I guess a definition is in order first, what do we mean when we say the third world? During the Cold War politicos and economists wanted to differentiate between the socialist bloc countries (Soviet Union, East Germany, Hungary, etc...) that had achieved a high level of industrialization and distribution of wealth and the capitalist countries that had industrialized and created substantial wealth for a large section of the working class through unionization and the welfare state (US, Germany, Japan, etc...). They also wanted to label the nations of the world, the overwhelming majority, that had achieved very little industrialization and remained tied to primarily agricultural economies that created little wealth to be shared by the population (Guatemala, Bolivia, Indonesia, Mali, etc...). Thus the classification of first, second and third world.

The main characteristics of the third world were/are inequality in wealth and power, repression and a lack of investment in infrastructure (both physical and human) because of the ruling classes hoarding of resources. If one were to visit say Guatemala or Mali a direct parallel between the United States and said countries would not immediately come to mind given our massive investment in roads, hospitals, schools, parks, etc... but the inequality in our society is undeniable. In our 11 trillion dollar economy 60 million people have no health insurance, 50% of students in cities like Milwaukee, Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago do not graduate from high school, Native Americans, Blacks and Latinos die significantly earlier than their white counterparts and the top 1% of the population controls more wealth than the bottom 40. And then there is the repression. Per 100,000 the United States incarcerates more people than any other society in the world. We also use the death penalty which has not been banned only in only a handful of repressive states like China, Iran and Russia. The political system while nominally democratic has pitiful levels of participation because of the obvious lack of accountability except to the most well heeled.

In the post-industrial nightmare that I live in (Milwaukee, where 60% of the relatively high paying industrial jobs shipped out in the early 80's thanks to deliberate monetary policy of the unaccountable Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker appointed by Jimmy Carter along with deregulation) the central city has only recently been rebuilt/gentrified with yuppie condos, a convention center and a new jail. The work, relatively high pay, low skill entry level jobs, no longer exist and the social safety net has been eliminated, replaced with forced work in return for miserly government assistance. The white population has long abandoned the schools and uses the city for a playground-sports, plays and restaurants. The racial question is so obvious that the dominant white radio programs overtly tout racist themes and blame the poor and brown for the entire collapse of the community. The tax cutting in the state was so successful in the 80's and 90's that the tax burden is now almost entirely based on the working class and middling classes that own some property.

Back to our question: is the US a third world country? In the strictest sense the answer is no because the basis of the economy is still manufacturing, a thriving service sector and FIRE; finance, insurance and real estate but the abandonment of entire cities and rural areas because of the mantra of libertarianism and individualism since the 1980's has left massive sections of the country either in jail or within a paycheck of being on the street.

A story on NPR on how the US is viewed around the world since Iraq and Katrina.

Free Oil for the Poor!

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offers free oil to poor United Statesians.

Who's In Charge?

British DEMAND Iraqi police are purged! Some puppet force their running there. If only Washington and Downing St would stop meddling in our affairs the military would be able to get things done, says the military revisionist and jingo that tells us why Iraq was "lost."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

British Troops Arrested By Police They Help Create

In a telling incident on just how bad things are going in Iraq, British troops broke two of their own out of an Iraqi jail ysterday after being arrested by Iraqi police. In a report on NPR this morning Anne Gerrals detailed just how out of wack the situation is describing how the Iraqi police are so fully infiltrated by rival militias (both Shiite and Sunni) that the "police" are now picking up rival factions later to disappear. Iraqification is not going well so expect a change in US policy. Vietnam is looking more and more like the model.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Bush to Condi: Can I Go To the Bathroom?

Article on

US Influence on the UK

After a visit to the USA last week, Mr Blunkett (a Tony Blur Minister) said: "In the US, they've already committed themselves... to raising, over time, the retirement age to 67. That's the kind of debate we'll be having on the back of the commission report."

Another export you can be proud of.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Winner of NRA 1st Grade Art Contest Announced

Found at Kooky Kids Korner (see under "For Your Amusement").

Who Say's Republicans Don't Care?

Zellwenger Ends 4 Month Marriage

And they said it wouldn't last!

Hunting Season Begins

I am going hunting this weekend. Anyone want to join me?

Brits Mourn Loss of Colonial Empire and Glory

In the largest flotilla in British history, the subjects of her royal majesty Queen Elizabeth the dim celebrated lost glory, colonial pillage and military might yesterday on the anniversary of the death of Lord Nelson.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Self Righteous Blair Lectures World, Again

In what has become a common ritual of late the Prime Minister Tony Blur lectured the world yesterday on the dangers of terrorism and poverty. Blur brought the deaths of Londoners on July 7 to center stage stating that terrorism was brought to England from thousands of miles from its shores and this scourge needed to be the world's top priority. This coming from a nation that for centuries enriched itself through terrorizing entire nations, plundering their resources so that millions starved, widespread use of chemical warfare and recent invasions of such places as Egypt, Argentina and Iraq. Your right Tony terror is a top priority but it primarily emanates from the north and your complicite.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Court Upholds Holding Jose Padilla Without Charge

A US court has over-ruled a lower court decision that made the radical charge that under the US Constitution you need to be charged with a crime if you are to be held by the state. "The three-judge panel ruled that President George Bush had the power to detain Mr Padilla, based on the resolution authorising military force which was approved by Congress in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks." Here's some detail from the BBC.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Rehnquist: Enemy of Individual Rights

Rehnquist was an extremely influential and reactionary judge. For the last three days we have heard what a great guy he was, great, and Hitler was nice to his cats. So what if he was a nice guy who gambled a lot, his importance was to stop and roll back the legal gains of the 1930's-70's particularly in regard to individual rights and the expansion of democratic/social guarantees.

1) Interstate Commerce/power of Congress: R and his cronies have limited the role of Congress (the most democratic branch) on interstate commerce grounds so that their powers are severly curbed, rolling back the gains of the New Deal and beyond. They think that Congress's job should be limited to interstate commerce. This calls into question things like the Clean Water/Air Act.

2) Individual Rights: He opposed Roe v. Wade because he did not think there was a right of privacy in the constitution. Privacy was rolled back by R.

3) He was a hack: Bush v. Gore was his decision.

4) Separation of Church and State: he didn't think it exists! Vouchers: fine!

5) Rights for criminals, social rights like education, health, etc.. forget about it.

6) Equality for all: no way, it's a a white guy world and if you want "special rights" go to Russia.

I got most of this information from Cass Sunstein on Fresh Air.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Maoists in China Get Four Years for Distributing Communist Literature

No, this is not an Onion headline. The Stalinist capitalists of China have arrested 4 communist organizers for commie agitation.

Historic Loss For Milwaukee Teachers Union

In a stunning development on the day that Milwaukee teachers returned to school last week Milwaukee teachers, retirees and other staff in the public school system were forced, without a vote, to accept significant changes in their health care benefits including a monthly payment, increased visit fees, a loss of the "hold harmless clause", and many other give backs. This significant defeat for thousands of workers in Milwaukee comes at a time of wage stagnation and shift in the cities property values to the suburbs and betond that will make even worse the lack of support for the system given the minority status of most the school systems population in a city that is 50% white. The Milwaukee Teachers' Union leadership has taken a "lets not look to the past" approach with this decision. Telling memebers that "it could have been worse."

Cause of Terrorism Calls for Condemnation of Terrorism

Pompus ass Tony Blair is taking his lead from a long line of Jingo's and war mongers with a stern call for the "world" to condemn "terror." The pot needs to be continually stirred for leaders with wars to fight and plans of austerity at home.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Veterans and Families Against the War

The Sheehan caravan stopped in Milwaukee today at the War Memorial. Powerful stuff. I have been to lots of anti-war rallies in Milwaukee over the last 20 years but this one truly had a different feel. Many of the usual suspects were there but the others were certainly a different flavor. The speakers also oozed legitimacy and eloquence. If this group does not jump start the anti-war movement I am not sure what will. US Out Now! Support the anti-war veterans and their families.

Labor Day

Just got back from the labor march. The group seemed a little larger than usual but the most bleak moment was the speach from Richard Trumka, former Mineworkers top and Sweeney protege at the AFL-CIO. Me and Eric Beaumont were about the only two listening to the guy speak. Th movement lacks a culture. Even 5 years ago Sweeney, Macaffey, Trumka and other tops would come to town and thousands would cheer them on and identify with the leadership. Now it seems people don't even know who they are.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I've waited on this one but the verdict is in:

New Orleans is the latest victim of the the war in Iraq. Here's Cockburn's take. As usual spot on.

One of the Many Positive Results of High Oil Prices

Hugo Chavez gets serious. In the last couple months the top down revolution in Venezuela has taken on two of the most important problems of the planet: the access to land and finance capital for the majority. Here's a little on the move on the banks. And some baby steps when it comes to land.

A history of land reform in Venezuela

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Great Quote From Kenneth Clarke Conservative Brit Leader

"There is no evidence that any bomb has gone off because of any gap in the law" Refering to draconian laws proposed by Blair's government following the July bombings.

Here's the entire article. Of course the Tories are being opportunistic here but it's a great quote.