Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Times

Michael Gordon, Times point man on Iraq, on escalation of the war:

“So I think, you know, as a purely personal view, I think it’s worth it [sic] one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we’ve never really tried to win. We’ve simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think that if it’s done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something.”

From the Times itself.


Two views of the road to war from Monthly Review.

American Empire Project

John Edwards, Straddling the Fence on War

John Edwards is rhetorically very anti-war in Iraq but Iran is another story. The way Democrats try to toughen up and show that they love Israel.

Monday, January 29, 2007

And the Best Place in the World to Live Is.....

France. And the most dangerous.....Baghdad.

Your Tax Dollar at Work

Bombing civilians with cluster bombs across Lebanon.

If Your Shorter and Darker You Make Less in the US

Study shows earnings are less for darker and shorter immigrants.

The Problem With Diversity

Not sure that I agree with all that here but this corner has been a critic of the nationalism and cheerleading that comes from the multi-cultis.

Multi-culturalism and its discontents.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fat Chicks

Serena Williams, winner of the Australian Open, has received lots of attention this week not only because of her unexpected win but because of her weight/body shape. The topic was omni-present in all coverage. The Williams sisters have allways been difficult for the dominant media, not because of their success and skill which seems easily accepted and marketed, but because of their looks. Physically stunning and beautiful they do not conform to standard body images. The black women who have made it to the top as beauties, Vanessa Williams, Halle Barry, Naomi Cambell or Tyra Banks among others have had less attention paid to their body shapes because they conform to the current Cosmo/Hollywood beauty myth.

You be the judge. Is this a fat person?

Read here about "Straightjackets of Beauty."

Bush's "Health" Plan

An analysis of how Bush wants me to be poorer.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

"It is extraordinary that, almost four years after US forces captured Baghdad, they control so little of it. The outlook for Mr Bush's strategy of driving out insurgents from strongholds and preventing them coming back does not look good."

Pat Cockburn from the front.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Out Now!

From a local teacher:

Dear friends,

I urge you to come to Friday's rally against the war sponsored by Milwaukee Veterans for Peace. Many Americans voiced their opposition to war in the elections last November and continue to do so in opinion polls.

It's time for us to do all within our power -- voting, contacting elected officials and the media, talking with friends, family and colleagues, and attending rallies for peace. I know some Milwaukeeans are heading for the national march on Washington this weekend and I wish them good luck. I hope those of us who are not going to Washington DC will show up on:

Friday night at 5:00 PM at
Milwaukee City Hall
in the Rotunda
Wells and Water St

The demands of the rally are:
Bring the Troops Home!
Stop Funding the War!

Recently my fifth graders figured out that on a daily basis "our" government spends approximately $265,000,000 million a DAY of our tax dollars on this war. This huge figure most children -- and most adults -- can't even imagine. To see what this means in concrete terms visit www.costofwar.com.
Obviously the huge waste of financial resources is only one reason to oppose a war that has taken the lives of over 3000 US military personnel and tens of thousands of Iraqis, and has increased the danger of anti-US terrorism.

I urge you to take your family, your friends, yourself to the rally this Friday.

For more information contact Milwaukee Veterans for Peace 414-760-9991

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Privatizing Plunder

The Greek government is warning the Brits about auctioning off loot from the "imperial" days. What say Tony on this act of privatization?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Hero, Daniel Lazare

takes on Vegetarianism.

Central America

Since the conflicts of the 1970's the region has receded from the front pages of the US weeklies, dailies and the television networks which says more about how elites rule our society than anything about Central America where as one Latin American once said "if the USA sneezes, we get a cold." Dependency still reigns in this region and actually since the recent free trade agreement and the porous US border dependency is on the rise with cheap products now flooding the local common market and remittances becoming a major component of consumer spending.

The four major concerns beyond the above mentioned are continued reliance on primary products such as coffee, bananas, cattle, sugar and cotton which continue to decline in price internationally as well as low end industries, such as textiles and assembly, which are now dominated by the Chinese; increased violence in the cities as death squads and leftists disarm after a couple of decades of violence particularly in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua; the weather-there have been a number of major hurricanes that have caused tens of thousands of deaths and untold economic damage particularly on the Atlantic coast; and the rising price of gas and oil which has caused major inflation in all of the 5 Central American countries.

Politically the revolutionary left has for the most part thrown in the towel for a radical/reformist/management of capitalism program. The strongest left parties are in Nicaragua and El Salvador where the FSLN and FMLN have maintained a commitment to quasi-Marxist plan but have both come under control of a highly centralized structure and a classic Latin American caudillo, Daniel Ortega and Shafrik Handel respectively.

All 5 countries truly have much in common economically but historically have taken on different narratives from a national perspective and thus find it hard to cooperate. The Costa Ricans in particular like to think of themselves as a veritable Switzerland in a sea of Balkan like/Amerindian savages given that they abolished their army, have a national health system and have a population that looks to its Northern European heritage as much, if not more so than its Hispanic or American identity.

Dashiell Hammett

Secret Agent X9. Great radio version from the tough guy master.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hrant Dink

Freedom fighter murdered. The scourge of fascism always on the edge. This is a clarion call for liberal institutions. As radicals we need to know when to draw the line, the liberal state, although most liberals in the end will not defend it, requires respect for all ideas and defense of such.

Friday, January 19, 2007

No More Mr Democracy Guy

Hugo Chavez gets ability to rule by decree for 18 months from legislature. A dangerous step indeed but do we need to break some eggs to make the omelet?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What about the Iraqis?

The not knowing defense is invalid in this time of hyper-information.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Mark McGwire and the sanctimonious "protectors of the national pastime."

A Message to Our Leader from Michael Moore

Dear Mr. President,

Thanks for your address to the nation. It's good to know you still want to talk to us after how we behaved in November.

Listen, can I be frank? Sending in 20,000 more troops just ain't gonna do the job. That will only bring the troop level back up to what it was last year. And we were losing the war last year! We've already had over a million troops serve some time in Iraq since 2003. Another few thousand is simply not enough to find those weapons of mass destruction! Er, I mean... bringing those responsible for 9/11 to justice! Um, scratch that. Try this -- BRING DEMOCRACY TO THE MIDDLE EAST! YES!!!

You've got to show some courage, dude! You've got to win this one! C'mon, you got Saddam! You hung 'im high! I loved watching the video of that -- just like the old wild west! The bad guy wore black! The hangmen were as crazy as the hangee! Lynch mobs rule!!!

Look, I have to admit I feel very sorry for the predicament you're in. As Ricky Bobby said, "If you're not first, you're last." And you being humiliated in front of the whole world does NONE of us Americans any good.

Sir, listen to me. You have to send in MILLIONS of troops to Iraq, not thousands! The only way to lick this thing now is to flood Iraq with millions of us! I know that you're out of combat-ready soldiers -- so you have to look elsewhere! The only way you are going to beat a nation of 27 million -- Iraq -- is to send in at least 28 million! Here's how it would work:

The first 27 million Americans go in and kill one Iraqi each. That will quickly take care of any insurgency. The other one million of us will stay and rebuild the country. Simple.

Now, I know you're saying, where will I find 28 million Americans to go to Iraq? Here are some suggestions:

1. More than 62,000,000 Americans voted for you in the last election (the one that took place a year and half into a war we already knew we were losing). I am confident that at least a third of them would want to put their body where there vote was and sign up to volunteer. I know many of these people and, while we may disagree politically, I know that they don't believe someone else should have to go and fight their fight for them -- while they hide here in America.

2. Start a "Kill an Iraqi" Meet-Up group in cities across the country. I know this idea is so early-21st century, but I once went to a Lou Dobbs Meet-Up and, I swear, some of the best ideas happen after the third mojito. I'm sure you'll get another five million or so enlistees from this effort.

3. Send over all members of the mainstream media. After all, they were your collaborators in bringing us this war -- and many of them are already trained from having been "embedded!" If that doesn't bring the total to 28 million, then draft all viewers of the FOX News channel.

Mr. Bush, do not give up! Now is not the time to pull your punch! Don't be a weenie by sending in a few over-tired troops. Get your people behind you and YOU lead them in like a true commander in chief! Leave no conservative behind! Full speed ahead!

We promise to write. Go get 'em W!


Michael Moore

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Torture in Eygpt

National scandal as bus driver is tortured. Human rights organizations claim violations are endemic in this US backed "democracy" where President Hosni Mubarak has been in power for over 25 years.

Desert Shrimps

Locusts as protein source.

Which Side?

The lions of the editorial pages are unanimous across the US, Venezuela's move toward socilaism = bad. Here's a counter. This site has given qualified support to the caudillo Hugo Chavez. His move towards nationalization of the already monopolized telecom company gets unqualified support.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Classic Cockburn

Speaking of the Dem-Dems:

"But despite the urgings of Senator Ted Kennedy, Rep. Jack Murtha and some others, they shirk the opportunity the voters gave them last November 7. Although heavily pressured by their constituents, a majority of the Democrats in Congress dread White House accusations that to nix the funds would be to leave US troops in Iraq defenseless. So instead they will contrive symbolic votes in protest against Bush’s escalation, okay the money and then spend the run-up to the presidential election in 2008, piously saying “We told you so” as the bad news and the bodies come home from Iraq."

"Seeking to explain why the Democrats wouldn’t do anything so bold as to seriously try to stop the war, one Democrat on TV said smugly to an incredulous Pat Buchanan, that after all it was a Republican war, “they started it”. Is there a more ludicrous simulacrum of inanity and misplaced self-conceit than Senator Joe Biden, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? Questioning Condoleezza Rice Biden rambled through a thicket of platitudes, leaving the perennially silly Secretary of State unscathed."

Nomads beware!

Corporate Whore

Once again the Red and the Black is whoring for the BBC. With a public sector allocated laptop I listen whenever I like to radio adaptations of literary classics, Chinese House music, a documentary on Uzbek oil revenues or play video games. Radio 1 is a favorite of late. And all on the dime of some Tory fox hunter! One of socialism's greatest legacies.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Trouble from the Folksy Columnist

Bush/Imperialists: When columns like this are in the Milwaukee Jenital "feel good page" you are in deep do-do.

Except for the very last sentence, a perfect column.

Peace does not start with a 'surge'
Posted: Jan. 12, 2007

Jim Stingl

It's not naïve to push for peace, says a man who's been in war.

"Using war to end conflict is insane," Mark Foreman told me Thursday.

I called the disabled Vietnam veteran turned peace activist to ask about President Bush's plan to add some 21,000 American troops into the mess he made in Iraq. Foreman thinks the "surge" is a terrible idea from an arrogant leader.

"We never should have been there in the first place. I always have to start with that," said Foreman, 59, a retired Milwaukee Public Schools art teacher who lives on the city's northwest side.

He doesn't buy this business that it's about bringing democracy and freedom to that part of the world, the justification for the war that the president finally settled on.

Hundreds line E. Wisconsin Ave. at N. Water St. Thursday to protest President Bush's plan to increase the U.S. military presence in Iraq. The event was organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

"I've got a 34-year-old son," he said. "All my life I've always let him know that there's no way he's going to go put himself in a position of getting killed or kill other people for oil. From my understanding of American foreign policy, that's what this is primarily about - control of the oil, control of the world."

Unsure about his future, Foreman enlisted in the Navy after high school. Foreman grew up believing that you serve God and country.

He wound up in Vietnam in 1968 as a corpsman attached to the Marines. He was there just five weeks when he was shot during a fierce battle that saw American soldiers outnumbered 10 to 1.

"They couldn't get anybody in to take us out. I had to lay there for five days and four nights with my hip blown off," he said.

He spent eight months in a body cast, many more months in physical therapy, and years receiving psychological help.

"When I got back from Vietnam, I felt like a pawn in the big chess game of the military-industrial complex. I was used, and there were people making a lot of money off the sacrifices of war," he said.

He remembers that the generals were telling Congress that they could win in Vietnam if they could only have more troops and more money. They received plenty of both and lost anyway.

That's what will happen in Iraq, too, Foreman believes.

"It's going to build up even more resolve with the people of that region to get us out of there," he said.

Bloodshed and sectarian killing will continue indefinitely, and Americans will increasingly question if it's worth it, and even what it's for. Wasn't that the message of the November election? The president seems to think we were asking for more war in this country we invaded without provocation.

Is it about terrorists? "If you lived in that region of the world, what would you be doing? What would any of us be doing," Foreman said, against a powerful occupying force. Fighting back is his answer.

More than 3,000 American soldiers are dead so far, and from what I know Iraqis want to fight among themselves and kill us more than they want democracy and stability. All 21,000 more soldiers means is 21,000 more targets.

Foreman favors immediate withdrawal of our troops and an end to the insane level of spending on the war - our tax money that could be used for so many needs at home. Veterans for Peace, a group to which he belongs, will demonstrate for these goals at Milwaukee's City Hall at 5 p.m. on Jan. 26.

Want to help support our veterans and our soldiers? Show up downtown and help them send a message to our leaders in Washington.

"Peace begins," Foreman said, "with recognizing we have to clean up the mess, not to keep making more of a mess."

November 17?

US Embassy attacked in Athens. Novemeber 17 claims responsiblity. Why would a group be so obsessed with Jeff Buckley's birthday?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Light at the End

Milwaukee's Jenital led with maybe the most idiotic headline since the New York Post's "Headless Body Found in Topless Bar," after last night's read from the White House library with their banner, "Effort in Iraq 'Not Open Ended.'" Now it is in quotes and Mr. Nueman did say it but if one were at least sentient they would have noticed that thrust of the words actually uttered were that he was escalating the troop levels over 21,000 and asking for billions more for the losing effort.

Bush has no other choice from his vantage point. If he were to withdraw now the Hawks would howl and his disaster would be confirmed in the eyes of all except those fed on a steady diet of Fox and Rush who still crow daily over the new construction of some school in the outskirts of Baghdad. He also could not act as if all was well in wonderland given the headlines and the outcome of the elections. He had hyped the Iraq Study Group and some action after the election so he took the only alternative that can buy him two years or so so he can wash his hands of the mess in 08.' Escalation is the proper word. He would have asked for even more troops but we are tapped out unless there is a major change in grand strategy-fighting two wars at once. Thus his call late in 06' for an increase in the size of the Army.

Sadly the Iraqis and a few (relatively) US soldiers will pay the price for the war party's hubris and cynicism. And then they will hand it off.

A sad day indeed.

The profits of war and why "we" fight.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Columbia's ongoing war with the FARC has led to conflict with its neighbor Ecuador over the years as the Columbians have accused Ecuador of allowing the rebels to use its territory for safe harbor and smuggling arms and drugs. One of the tactics the Columbians (and others in the region with US support) have used over the years to combat the revolution and coca production is chemical warfare. In other words they have tried to defoliate regions where farmers grow the crop that has been part of Andean culture for thousands of years. The new left/populist indigenous movements of the Andean region have started to reject the bomb the peasants' crops strategy now from a position of power. Here's an example of the latest resistance.

Monday, January 08, 2007

High Gear

A serious move in Venezuela towards socialism. Will it be the caudillo brand or a people's democracy?

No Worker Is Illegal

Within SEIU (Service Employee International Union) there is a struggle going on about what position for labor on the immigration issue.

Inter-Zionist Squabble

Zionist groups wrangle as a number of groups sponsor a tour of Israeli soldiers telling tales of human rights abuses in Gaza and thw West Bank.

Santa is in the House

The top 5 Wall Street firms will give out bonuses between $36-44 BILLION* this holiday season! This along with Robert Nardelli's $210 million golden parachute as well as other obscenities from the cleptocracy have brought howls from the likes of the New York Times, NPR and other liberal organs. This at a time when real wages are on the decline and services in the public sector continue to be slashed in the name of fiscal responsibility.

The problem from this vantage point is similar to the above mentioned on the war. Liberal flak and even some Republican populists gnash the teeth on a regular basis but when it comes to actually confronting these issues-free trade, Wall Street and corporate largesse-the NY Times/NPR/Democratic Party leadership and supporters tack in the opposite direction. This is why a principled left party is needed here that can regularly advocate positions on the abolition of wage-slavery, nationalization of key industries, a socialized health and education system, a real Social Security/pension system. This way the rad/lib group can choose between a party that actually helps maintain a conservative system and one that will act as a catalyst for real social change.

*An estimate from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern.

Democrats and Iraq, Blah, Blah, Blah

This weekend there was lots of talk from Nancy Pelosi and other misleaders on how Congress "might" cut off funding when the Bushies escalate the war. This is a sop to the anti-war sentiment in the country but will not occur. The Democrats in the House showed how bold they would be when electing leadership in December. John Murtha, the veteran hawk turned dove would have been the ideal standard bearer for an orderly withdrawal position but he was soundly defeated by the pro-war hawk Steny Hoyer who will now as Majority leader speak for the escalation position. The Democrats are now playing their historical role (at least in the 20th century) when it comes to intervention; talk the talk of peace and pacifism but when it comes to the vote and action to side with the interventionists and war party.

How the NY Times has hyped the surge.


Global trade talks. Where major decisions are made without much input from the hoople. Another example of the eroding power of the nation state and the use of republican institutions to reign in capital.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Saddam's Life and Regime

Pat Cockburn on the life of Saddam and his regime both at home and abroad.

Facelift for the Cult of Personality

Kim escalates the cult. Bringing back that old time religion.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Origins of Gringo

A] This derogatory Spanish term for a white English-speaking person does indeed have interesting stories linked to it, the one you mention probably being the most common, though most versions of the tale name the song as Green Grow the Rushes, O. Some tellers prefer to associate the song with Irish volunteers serving in Simon Bolivar’s army in the early 19th century, or to American troops attempting to track down Pancho Villa in Mexico in 1916-17, all of whom were supposedly singing from the same song sheet (the last of these often mentions Black Jack Pershing, since to attach a famous name to a story improves its credibility no end). Other tales link gringo with the green uniforms (hence green coats) that were worn by American troops of the period, who might have been urged by the locals “green go home”.

The real story is rather more interesting, since it takes us to two continents and involves four languages. A medieval Latin proverb referred to something unintelligible: Graecum est; non potest legi (“It is Greek; it cannot be read”). Shakespeare borrowed it in Julius Caesar: “Those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but for mine own part, it was Greek to me.” It’s the origin of our modern saying “it’s all Greek to me”.

The Spanish version of this Latin proverb was hablar en griego, literally to talk in Greek, and hence to speak unintelligibly. This was known in Spain no later than the last decades of the eighteenth century. Esteban de Terreros explained in his dictionary of 1787, El Diccionario Castellano, that “gringos llaman en Málaga a los estranjeros, que tienen cierta especie de acento, que los priva de una locución fácil y natural castellana; y en Madrid dan el mismo, y por la misma causa con particularidad a los Irlandeses” (“Foreigners in Malaga are called gringos, who have certain kinds of accent that prevent them from speaking Spanish with an easy and natural locution; and in Madrid they give this name to the Irish in particular for the same reason”). He explained that gringo was a phonetic alteration of griego.

The first recorded use of the word in English is in 1849, which does rather suggest it was the Mexican War that brought it to the attention of Americans. It appears in the diary of John Woodhouse Audubon, the son of the wildlife illustrator, who recorded on 13 June in that year that “We were hooted and shouted at as we passed through, and called ‘Gringoes’”. As his diary wasn’t published until 1906, public notice of the word in America more probably first came about through a book by one Lieutenant Wise of the US Navy that appeared in January 1850: Los Gringos; or, an inside View of Mexico and California, with Wanderings in Peru, Chili, and Polynesia.

Here's the article. Notice the new link in "For Your Amusement" on your right entitled World Wide Words.

Non To 2007

French protest New Year. Finally someone takes a stand on the world's greatest problem: the advance of time!