Where there is perfection there is no story to tell. ~Ben Okri
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
...A type of aristocracy rules America, which has more than one feature in common with the ancien régime that presided over pre-revolutionary France. This vast accumulation of wealth at one pole of society is incompatible, in the long run, with even the trappings of democracy. The super-rich own everything in the US, including the political parties and the political process. They allow the population to vote at this point, more or less. But for how long? As resistance to the policies of the elite mounts and the two-party monopoly threatens to crumble, why should the riffraff be permitted a say in such important affairs as elections?
The Very Rich In America: "The Kind Of Money You Cannot Comprehend"
Friends, Sienfeld, Cheers! The place where everybody knows your name..
Why are the best selling programs always about friends or families? Big, fun groups of people who hang around together and tell jokes? Is your life like that? Nah. You probably stayed in last night, watched some TV and went to bed.
Do you ever wonder if TV is just selling back to us the kind of friends it took away from us in the first place? What if you turned on Sienfeld, only to see Jerry and the gang locked in their seperate apartments, watching television. Would that be a good show? Think about it: that's how you are living now.
Jerry and Elaine, Kramer and that whole loveable bunch on Friends, none of them know you. They don't care whether you live or die. Why don't you get yourself some real friends?
1966 The Communist Party of China issued the 'May 16 Notice', marking the beginning of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, in which up to 20 million people were killed and many millions more tortured and abused.
"...There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. ...Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing." Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837
by Maryscott O'Connor firstname.lastname@example.org May 15, 2006 at 18:26:02 America/Los_Angeles
Osama racked up his kill total on one day -- on September 11, 2001: 2,986 dead Americans. George took the longer route, but he has matched and exceeded Osama's total. Including military fatalities in Iraq, civilian contractors, military suicides and accidents, journalists and hostages, George W. Bush is now responsible for the unnecessary and avoidable deaths of at least 3,166 Americans:
(Obviously, he is also responsible for the countless -- literally, we have not counted -- deaths of Iraqi citizens, in addition to the significant numbers of dead "Coalition" countries' military and non-military personnel. But for our purposes here, we'll stick with Americans.)
2,443 official military deaths of Americans in Iraq 318 civilian contractors dead in Iraq 150 aid workers 210 suicides 45 journalists
I have not included Americans who died of illness in or after Iraq -- only because I can't find the statistics. But obviously many of them wouldn't have died, either, if they hadn't been in Iraq.
Clearly, George W. Bush had help killing over three thousand Americans -- but then, so did bin Laden.
Osama had 19 pals to make the plans, and carry them out; and they graciously agreed to kill themselves in the bargain, leaving Osama with all the glory and none of the, you know, self-immolation.
George had so many little helpers -- heck, let's just be generous and call them "co-conspirators." Karl Rove, Dick "Dick" Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz -- and that's just the ones in his Administration. When you factor in all his sycophantic, weaseling, mendacious media minions, heck, you've got one HELL of a coalition of the willing!
And then there's PNAC -- my, my, how could I forget PNAC? Deserving special mention: Bill "Scum of the Earth" Kristol, of The Weekly Standard and Fox News, so recently feted by the incomparable Stephen Colbert for his ineluctable contribution to the invasion and subsequent occupation and, oh, let's call it... total fucking destruction of Iraq, and along with it any hope of the United States ever being respected, let alone loved, by the rest of the known world.
(Notable facilitators of the Iraq Quagmire include: The Family Scaife; the John M. Olin Foundation; and many, many more.)
But George W. Bush isn't finished yet, no, sirree, Bob. Heck, by the time this is all over, he might just surpass the American death toll of Vietnam -- and ain't that one heckuva way to make up for not participating in that quagmirical war at all? (Yeah, I made up that word -- but don't it just sound like somethin' Georgie might say?)
And the future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades, our Georgie do; Iran, oh, JOY, the possibilities are ENDLESS! Why, one day, and maybe not so distant a day at that, George might just put himself in the history books for good and certain -- you know, if there is any future left in which to write history books -- by being the only world leader since the first one did it to use nuclear weaponry against human beings. Oh, irony, how sweet, sweet, sweet it is -- the man who started a war based on the lie that his enemy had "Weapons of Mass Destruction" could be the one who actually USES weapons of mass destruction. He just might rack up bigger numbers than Hitler, when all's said and done, eh?
But, you may be asking yourselves, what's the point of this little missive, Maryscott? We all KNOW the man is a vicious, devious, sociopathic little lying fuck. Aside from updating us on his belt notches of American dead, is there any point to this would-be rant, and one rather disappointingly thin on profanities, at that? After all, what good does it really do to remind ourselves how good and truly fucked we have been by this lunatic imbecile and his cabal of incompetent co-conspirators?
(Incompetent? Well, doesn't that depend on their intent? Maybe the whole idea was to destabilise the world and make the United States the most hated and feared bully on the international playground since Hitler's Germany, you ever think about that? Maybe they don't CARE about all this collateral damage, as long as they get their booty and their artificially inflated sense of penile worth...)
My point -- and I do have one, I just know I do -- escapes me at the moment. Forgive, please -- I am an embittered "moonbat," for far too long blinded and, now, driven half-mad with rage and grief by the meaningless suffering, dismemberment, disfigurement and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in service to the evil ends of a few despicable assholes.
I do not offer a solution to this madness, I haven't the faintest idea what to do. A call to arms? A rush to the streets? To do what, pray tell, that we haven't already done? Violently riot in the streets where we had heretofore only protested peacefully, albeit loudly? Against whom should this violence be done? The only people who deserve violence are untouchable by us, at least in the corporeal sense. Taking to the streets for anything but peaceful vocal protest will only hurt the cause and each other. So, no, that is not my point.
Long ago, in Western civilisation, when a man committed nefarious deeds, his entire family suffered the ignominy and shame of it in the eyes of their society. In some parts of the world, this is still the case. It's brutally unfair to the blameless, who could no more have been expected to prevent their relative from committing the heinous deed than they could have harnessed the energy of a split atom. But there is a tiny flint of logic in it, sometimes. The parents of a vicious serial killer are often held up to scorn and derision by society, for how could they be entirely blameless in the nurturing and release of such a monster into the world?
Today, as an American, I feel like the pitiful, helpless distant relative of a mass murderer, guilty by association with his basic genetic structure and a shared family name. The blame for the obscenities perpetrated by the Bush Regime and their countless enablers and co-conspirators and stooges and useful idiots lies not just in them, but in me and every American of every age.
Our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will suffer the wrathful scorn, if not outright violent revenge, of those whom we, the People of the United States of America, have harmed -- and that number includes every human being on earth besides ourselves. They will not distinguish between the Bush voters, the Gore voters, the Kerry voters, the Nader voters or the non-voters; eventually, disgusted with our seeming inability or unwillingness to take measures to punish the evil-doers and prevent further evil-doing, the world will wash its hands of us all.
And though we may protest our individual innocence, in the end, we have only ourselves to blame.
I hate to raise such an ugly possibility, but have you considered lunacy as an explanation? Craziness would make a certain amount of sense. I mean, you announce you are going to militarize the Mexican border, but you assure the president of Mexico you are not militarizing the border. You announce you are sending the National Guard, but then you assure everyone it’s not very many soldiers and just for a little while.
Militarizing the border is a totally terrible idea. Do we have a State Department? Are they sentient? How much do you want to infuriate Mexico when it’s sitting on quite a bit of oil? Bush knows what the most likely outcome of this move will be. He was governor during the political firestorm that ensued when a Marine taking part in anti-drug patrols on the border shot and killed Esequiel Hernandez, an innocent goat herder from Redford, Texas. That’s the definition of crazy—repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result…
But right-wingers are very unhappy with Bush right now, and this is a strong, red-meat gesture that will make them happy, even if it does nothing to shut down the border. You want to shut down illegal immigration? You want to use the military as police? Make it illegal to hire undocumented workers and put the National Guard into enforcing that. Then rewrite NAFTA and invest in Mexico…
The consistent pattern that runs through all these problems is the failure to distinguish fantasy from reality. Mexican immigrants keep crossing the border because they can get jobs here—and most of those jobs are provided by companies whose CEOs support George W. Bush. That’s where he can have an impact on the problem, should he choose to do so...
…The US needs an immigration reform that both takes into account the country's role in encouraging migration and assumes responsibility for that role by granting immigrants legal status.
The current flows of immigration into the United States are a result of the actions of the US government and US-based corporations. As Midnight Noters and Friends point out, US neoliberal policies open the global economy "to the free entry and exit of foreign capital" which results in the decline of income for most workers and the use of force and repression, especially in some countries where the workers are already impoverished (See: midnightnotes.org/). Blau and Moncada note that, "Multinationals such as Wal-Mart, Sears, and Tarrant Appeal Group first set up operations in Mexico, where workers are paid $1.00 per hour, then moved to China, where workers make $.50 an hour, and then to Bangladesh, where workers make $.30 an hour, and then to Mozambique, where they make even less" (Human Rights; Beyond the Liberal Vision, 2005, p. 102). Each time a transnational corporation moves its factories from one country to another, a displaced worker population is created, which is more likely to become transnational itself…
What these reform bills are missing is a recognition that undocumented immigrants are not in the United States simply because they chose to break US law and cross borders. The idea that undocumented immigrants are criminals is a pernicious one; it portrays US citizens as dignified human beings with full political and economic rights, and immigrants as undignified others who do not deserve very much at all. Of course, entering the country without proper documentation is against the law, but so is jaywalking or driving without a license in one's possession. The question of how serious a crime it is to cross the border without permission or to overstay your tourist visa is highly subjective, and the criminalization of this particular law-breaking behavior is unwarranted. It is telling that the employers who employ undocumented immigrants are also breaking the law, but they have not been portrayed as criminals.
Another portrayal of undocumented immigrants is as people "willing to do jobs that Americans do not want." This, too, is dehumanizing and fails to hold employers accountable for low wages, bad working conditions, and the lack of benefits. This portrayal also characterizes undocumented workers as lesser beings who have lower standards for their jobs than people with proper documentation. A more appropriate description would be that the lack of proper documentation allows employers to abuse workers, to pay them lower wages, and to keep them in unsafe working conditions…
This is not to say that there is not an issue of border security. There is. As much as the US and other western countries are responsible for the hatred which Islamic terrorists have for us because of the ongoing efforts to maintain some control over oil in the Middle East and for other reasons, the terrorist groups are sending their warriors to western countries to inflict harm on civilians. New York, London, Madrid and other locations have already been attacked by terrorists. There is a need for defense systems against those who would smuggle in through ports or land borders dirty bombs, chemical or biological weapons or hydrogen bombs. Fences will not keep terrorists or other well-organized groups out; they can fly planes over them or dig tunnels under them…
But poor immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, or other countries in the Global South that walk across deserts, swim across rivers, or climb over fences are a different population. They have families, they need jobs, and they do not want to steal. Very few of them, if any, are terrorists. We do ourselves as well as the immigrants an incredible disservice if we allow western governments and their corporate sponsors to portray them as inferior and inhuman. We must go on record as being against all efforts to denigrate undocumented immigrants…
If we ask ourselves why undocumented workers are so easily dehumanized in the US, we can remind ourselves of the legacy of racism of this country. Although undocumented workers are of many colors and creeds, and, although more than half of the undocumented workers in the US are not from Mexico, and about a quarter are not even from Latin America, the image that is most often portrayed in the media of an undocumented worker is that of a brown person. By criminalizing and dehumanizing undocumented workers, we are creating a society in which all brown people will be seen as potential criminals, as not worthy of the same rights as other Americans. In the US, just as the post 9-11 legislation in the US made it almost a crime to look like an Arab, the current US proposals could make it almost a crime to look Mexican.
for the full article see: http://counterpunch.org/golash05152006.html
Numerous Republicans have strongly objected to the president's nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden to be CIA Director, so it's a good thing there are Democrats around like the always-accommodating Dianne Feinstein to help the President out…
JP said... Oh I don't know maybe it has something to do with this:
War brings business to Feinstein spouse Blum's firms win multimillion-dollar defense contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan
I live in LA - these sellouts aren't getting my vote ever again.
Amen. You just sunk your ship. You will most certainly see me actively campaigning for ANYONE who runs against you (even a centrist Republican or the Green Party or an Independent...)
Tuesday, May 02, 2006 Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner the other night is quickly gaining mythical status in liberal popular lore. As well it should. As I watched it on C-SPAN, I could hardly believe what I was seeing and hearing. The most powerful man in the world was being mercilessly skewered, in person, in front of a live television audience, for over 20 minutes. And he had to just sit there and take it.
I'm no historian, but I'm willing to wager that what I saw the other night has never happened. Ever.
Human beings have been around for quite a long time, and during that time, the title of "most powerful man in the world" has been held by a great many people. George W. Bush is merely the latest. But he may be the first to ever have been mocked so publicly and so personally (and so hysterically) while holding that title.
That in itself is a testament to how far we've come as a species. I'm pretty sure that for most of human history, a quick and painful death would have awaited anyone who tried to pull such a stunt.
But it's also a testament to Colbert's fearlessness. As John Stewart put it tonight, Colbert's performance was "balls-o-licious." Though most of us never have the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech before the leader of the free world, we all have fleeting moments in our lives where, looking back, we wish we had said what we really thought, that we had spoken truth to power, so to speak. The vast majority of us end up chickening out and then regretting our missed opportunity. We relive in our heads what we might have said if we had the chance to do it all again. How many other speakers at events like these have day-dreamed about what they were going to say, only to give in eventually to intimidation and fear of public embarrassment? Hundreds? Thousands?
Stephen Colbert was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Everyone who his life has been devoted to mocking (and justifiably so) was going to be in one room, and he was going to be the featured entertainment. He knew he had 20 minutes where all of these people would be a captive audience, including the leader of the free world seated just a few feet to his right. Sure, he could have delivered some light-hearted but forgettable Leno-esque performance and called it a night. But he knew he would have regretted it for the rest of his life. He knew that for the rest of his days he would be replaying jokes in his head that he wished he'd had the courage to say at the time.
A lot of people--mostly conservatives--have accused Colbert of misjudging the audience. But the truth is, Colbert never intended to play to that stuffy self-important crowd. They, after all, were the butt of his jokes. I think Colbert's true target audience was himself in 20 years. He's going to look back on that performance and feel nothing but pride. He's going to know that he left it all out on the table, that he seized his opportunity and made the most of it. And, like me, he's going to laugh his ass off.
So congratulations, Stephen Colbert, you may have become the first person in history to mock the most powerful person in the world--to his face, for over 20 minutes--and live to tell your tale.
And in a perfect bit of irony, the very press corps that Colbert so perfectly skewered that night seems totally oblivious to the fact that history was made right before their eyes. They couldn't spot a story if it openly mocked them.For what it's worth, I thought this was Colbert's funniest line:
Sir, pay no attention to the people who say theglass is half empty, because 32% means it's 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass is mypoint, but I wouldn't drink it. The last third isusually backwash.
Main Entry: DUBYA Pronunciation: 'duhb-"yah Function: noun Etymology: Old Texan variation of the English letter "W" Date: circa 1836 1. Presidential nickname 2. Usurper, pretender 3. Media Event, figurehead
"Fascism should more accurately be named corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
Confusing Whiteness With "Americanness" LibrariesLife News (Pop Culture)
Newswise — STORY: The recent public fervor over immigration and the future of undocumented or illegal immigrants is a recurring theme in U.S. history and culture, says University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Associate Professor of English Linda Frost, Ph.D., author of the 2005 book “Never One Nation: Freaks, Savages and Whiteness in U.S. Popular Culture: 1850-1877.” Frost argues that in the 19th century, depictions of minorities and immigrants in popular magazines illustrated who was and who was not considered American and played a major role in fusing “Americanness” with whiteness. WHAT: “In fact, the actual status of ‘Americanness’ – who gets to claim it, and of course, who gets to reap the economic, political, and social benefits of that claim – is linked quite emphatically to notions of racial whiteness. Today, the non-American group most visibly seeking American status is a Latino and predominantly Mexican one, but in the 19th century, the Irish and Chinese were the two groups who most clearly fit this category. The larger and more visible the number of immigrants – despite their usefulness, their contribution to society, etc. – the less white they seem to be. “In 1869, for instance, popular writer Ned Buntline described a group of Chinese workers in a story of his in the San Francisco Golden Era as ‘dirty, opaque-eyed Chinamen’ who grin ‘like ring-tailed baboons’; another short piece more transparently notes that a group of Chinese have been driven away by ‘the white people of Unionville, Nev.’ largely because ‘it was feared that the superior industry and intelligence of the Chinese would effect a monopoly of trade and labor in that locality.’ The ability to designate whiteness here bespeaks a deeper anxiety – one about maintaining control of resources.
MORE: “The conversation about immigration and the rights of immigrants in the United States, despite our national mythologies of a racially blended society, ultimately says much more about how fragile and insecure the nation's members feel about themselves as authorized ‘Americans’ and the strength of that identity than they do any truth about the immigrant group in question. This is certainly not surprising in a time of tremendous fear about ‘homeland security’ and the ability to shore up our economic and physical safeties.