Sunday, May 30, 2010

Radical Imagination

Noam Chomsky at Pace University, March 21, 2010.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Skanks and the City


Seeing that the lovely crew from SATC is about to dump a new load on unsuspecting movie theaters world-wide, I thought we'd let the great Chicago critic Lee Sandlin weigh in, in the smartest short capture of this toilet build-up.
If I had to pick my all-time favorite TV show, there’d be a long list of candidates. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Barney Miller, Berlin Alexanderplatz—and that’s just the Bs. But for my least favorite show, the one that makes me despair for the state of TV and for the whole miserable human species, there’s one that rises instantly to the top: Sex and the City. Nothing I’ve ever seen has ever made women look worse. You can ransack the archives of Spike TV, throw in the complete film libraries of Adam Sandler, Dane Cook, and Judd Apatow, and supplement them with the collected works of Henry Miller and Norman Mailer and you won’t find as unrelenting a portrayal of female humorlessness, avarice, petulance, vindictiveness, and off-the-charts narcissism.

One moment sums up the whole series. Good girl Charlotte strikes a deal with an upscale shoe salesman who has a foot fetish: she gets discounts on his hottest wares and he gets to fondle her feet. But in the end she has to bail, much as she hungers for the shoes, because she just finds the sight of him getting off on her feet too icky. In her value system, lusting after trendy objects is normal but lusting after the touch of human skin is grotesque.

The other characters may be boffing everything that moves, but in the end sex isn’t the main thing on their minds either. For ubercompetent corporate drone Miranda it’s being thought of as strong and successful, which is why her no-account slacker baby daddy is such a psychic burden for her. For our heroine Carrie, it’s being famous—recall that after she finally settles in Paris with her impossibly dreamy boyfriend, she has to ditch him and move back to Manhattan because she can’t bear that nobody in France knows who she is. Over the long haul, it becomes clear that even that omnivorous huntress Samantha is using sex as a kind of scorekeeping: ultimately she doesn’t care how the sex is so long as everybody perceives her as transcendently hot. For all these women, sex runs a distant second to status.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ron-Ron!

No head at all, just pure heart.

Way to go, Mr. Artest!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Greeks Get It


Chris Hedges.
Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

The former right-wing government of Greece lied about the size of the country’s budget deficit. It was not 3.7 percent of gross domestic product but 13.6 percent. And it now looks like the economies of Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are as bad as Greece’s, which is why the euro has lost 20 percent of its value in the last few months. The few hundred billion in bailouts for other faltering European states, like our own bailouts, have only forestalled disaster. This is why the U.S. stock exchange is in free fall and gold is rocketing upward. American banks do not have heavy exposure in Greece, but Greece, as most economists concede, is only the start. Wall Street is deeply invested in other European states, and when the unraveling begins the foundations of our own economy will rumble and crack as loudly as the collapse in Athens. The corporate overlords will demand that we too impose draconian controls and cuts or see credit evaporate. They have the money and the power to hurt us. There will be more unemployment, more personal and commercial bankruptcies, more foreclosures and more human misery. And the corporate state, despite this suffering, will continue to plunge us deeper into debt to make war. It will use fear to keep us passive. We are being consumed from the inside out. Our economy is as rotten as the economy in Greece. We too borrow billions a day to stay afloat. We too have staggering deficits, which can never be repaid. Heed the dire rhetoric of European leaders.
 More.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Haibane, Part II

Second episode of Haibane Renmei - "Town and Wall"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Master Race

The world's most obnoxious Establishment kiss-ass -- The New York Times -- decided today to memorialize that magical 1,000 mark: 1,000 US "warfighters" have now died in Afghanistan. We have the irreverent teenager with the pregnant girlfriend. The high school wrestling champion. The charmingly roguish soldier with the pierced ear-lobes. The swaggering 6'1" adopted child. The poetry-writing violinist. And all their pictures too!

What we do not have -- and never will have on the front page of the Grey Whore -- is this.

Or this.

Or this.

What are their names? Did they have boyfriends or girlfriends? Were they good at wrestling or poetry or the violin? No, they didn't. And no they weren't. Because they were all children.

Chris Floyd.
Naturally, the local losers come out and boo-hoo-hoo over their dead relatives, as if no one had ever seen their son shot to death in front of their eyes before. They trot out all their evidence that the victims had nothing to do with the "insurgents" (which is what your modern warfighter calls anyone who objects to the presence of armed foreigners prowling all over their land), they keen and wail and do all the other animalistic stuff that primitives do when one of the pack snuffs it. "Oh, I lost my son, oh my son, my precious son," etc., etc. – as if there's not a dozen more when he came from; you know how those people breed.

But anyway, here's the beauty part: if the local dorky darkies start to complain, you just say, "Hey man, we came under fire! Those monkeys shot at us when we came sneaking up on their house in the middle of the night with our guns drawn. That proves they were bad guys. We had to take them out."

That's it. That's the drill. It happens virtually every week now in Afghanistan – just as it happened time and again in Iraq, back when some guy named Stanley McChrystal was in charge of covert ops for that evil, reactionary throwback, George W. Bush. Whatever happened to old Stan anyway? Oh yeah; the nice, progressive, thoroughly modern Barack Obama put him in charge of the whole shooting match in Afghanistan, as well as the not-so-secret war of assassination in Pakistan. And oddly enough, the slaughter of civilians in both of these target countries has been rising ever since.

But hey, that's just how we roll nowadays. That's the American way of war. Creep, sneak, kill, run, lie – repeat. Sure, it only makes things worse, creates more enemies, keeps the wars going. But isn't that the point? Check it out, baby: they're piling an extra $33.5 billion of prime war pork on top of the mountain of Terror War funding already laid out for this year! And you need a whole lot of blood to wash down that meat – and a whole lot of new enemies to make sure the feast never ends.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wonderful Democracy

"I know that Israel is a wonderful democracy with equal treatment of all citizens whether Arab or Jew." -- Jimmy Carter backpedaling
Unless you're Noam Chomsky.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Heroic Life of Walter Reuther


40 years ago this week, the greatest labor leader in American history was blown up in his airplane (after many previous assassination attempts) on orders from Richard Nixon's National Security State. (It would be quite a spring for Nixon: defending William Calley at My Lai, launching his aggressive war against Cambodia, murdering students at Kent State, Reuther's assassination, murdering students at Jackson State, overthrowing the Argentine government. Poor misunderstood Quaker. . .)

The sadness of the interview is great. A major power player in United States 1958, Reuther's union would be exterminated at last under the stoogeship of the Great Black Hope in 2009.

Dr. Michael Parenti honors Reuther with a passionate tribute.

And the inspiring '58 interview with the chain-smoking (and already insane) Mike Wallace.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Shikataganai

In August 2009, Hatoyama Yukio and Japan's Democratic Party at last overturned the post-war grip of the loathsome LDP by promising two things: to de-Reaganize (or in this case, de-Koizumi-ize) the society by moving it back toward its traditional post-war (and pre-Koizumi) "horizontal" and egalitarian nature; and by promising to junk the pathetically unequal relationship between Japan and the United States, primarily by closing the Futenma military base on Okinawa, a base that is home to little other than theft, endless ear-splitting noise, and the rape of Okinawan girls.

Well, Barack Obama seems to have found his own Obama.

Gary Leupp.
Hatoyama’s popularity is now down to around 20%. The Asahi Shinbun runs headlines such as “Weak Leadership” and “Hatoyama Strikes Out Again” referring to the Okinawa base issue. Far from being a breath of fresh air, he is more of the same. The U.S.-Japan relationship is not the only issue affecting his popularity; charges of corruption and mishandling of campaign funds, staples of Japanese politics and the nemesis of the LDP, also contribute. But this is probably the biggest issue.

The moral of the story? A change of parties in a U.S. client-state is unlikely to affect the bilateral relationship with the U.S., notwithstanding the popular will. De Gaulle could boot out the U.S. bases from France in 1966, but he is the exception to prove the rule. (He took action after U.S. efforts to supplant or even assassinate him due to his decision to grant Algeria independence, something Washington bitterly opposed, and wrangling over the role of France within NATO.)

Hatoyama is no De Gaulle. Rather, in failing to stand up to Obama, he has become Japan’s Obama: a breaker of campaign promises, a capitulator, a pawn of the Pentagon, a tremendous disappointment to his supporters. But unlike the U.S. president, whose favorable ratings have only fallen from 68% in April 2009 to 44%, hovering around that figure all this year, Hatoyama’s appear to be in free-fall. Such is a lackey’s karma.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Primary

Fifty years ago this week, courtesy of Robert Drew.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gobble, Gobble

The great Jonathan Turley -- who would've gotten this nomination under a progressive leadership -- on Obama's latest betrayal.
For many liberals and civil libertarians, the Kagan nomination is a terrible act of betrayal after the President campaigned so heavily on the issue of the Supreme Court during his campaign. He is now replacing a liberal icon with someone who has testified that she does not believe in core protections for accused individuals in the war on terror. During her confirmation hearing Kagan testified that she believed that anyone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be stripped of protections and held under indefinite detention without a trial — agreeing with the Bush Administration.

Stevens himself would occasionally vote with the conservative justices. Thus, it is possible that in those areas, like flag burning, Kagan could shift the vote back to the left. However, in two of the few areas where she has given her views (terrorism and free speech), Kagan states more conservative views.

In one interesting exchange, Kagan not only states that she believes we are “at war” but agrees that we should have considered ourselves at war since the 1990s:

GRAHAM: OK. Well, that would make him your boss, yes. But it seems to be — I think he’ll be a good boss. And I think you’d be very qualified for you job. [. . .] I asked him, “Do you think we’re at war”? And he said, “I don’t think there’s any question but that we’re at war.” I think, to be honest, I think our nation didn’t realize that we’re at war when, in fact, we were.

When I look back at the ’90s and the Tanzania, the embassy bombings, the bombing of the Cole, I think we, as a nation, should have realized that, at that point, we were at war. We should not have waited until September 11, 2001 to make that determination. Do you agree with that?

KAGAN: It’s easy to agree with my boss in that circumstance.

Graham also asks her the same question posed to Holder on whether people accused of financing terrorism (even when not captured on a traditional battlefield) should be stripped of their rights as enemy combatants. She answers in the affirmative:

GRAHAM: Well, I certainly do too. And I told him I thought what he was speaking of was the morale high ground. There’s a physical high ground in — in traditional war. But in this war, there’s the moral high ground and we have to maintain that moral high ground. I think at times we’ve lost it. We also have to remember they’re at — we’re at war.

Now, I asked him this question, “Now, when you talk about the physical battlefield, if our intelligence agency should capture someone in the Philippines that is suspected of financing al Qaida worldwide, would you consider that person part of the battlefield, even though we’re in the Philippines, if they were involved in al Qaida activity”? Holder said, the attorney general said, yes, I would. Do you agree with that?

KAGAN: I — I do.

Even in the early commentary, it is distressing how the discussion immediately focused on the politics rather than the substance of the nomination. As with Sotomayor, the media appears unable to have a discussion about the substantive views of a nominee.

There is no question that Kagan has proven leadership ability, particularly as a consensus builder. She was able to lead Harvard Law School and end the liberal/conservative fighting on that faculty. However, she is not considered an intellectual leader in the teaching academy. She has actually written comparatively little as an academic. She has written only a few significant law review articles and a collection of shorter pieces. She appears to have received tenure at the University of Chicago based on a single article — something that would not be permitted at most top schools. What writing is there is not welcome by civil libertarians, which shows a lack of commitment to the very “fundamental rights” that President Obama referenced this morning in his nominating speech. When it comes to free speech and detainee rights, she (like the President) adopts a more legally relativistic approach.

While conservatives are likely to attack her on her banning military recruiters from campus, she has largely avoided controversial writings or positions in her career.

For liberals, the problem is her “pragmatic” approach to civil liberties and support for Bush policies. Stevens was the fifth vote in opposing such policies and Kagan could well flip that result. Few could have imagined that voting for Obama would have resulted in moving the Court to the right, but that appears to be case with the selection of Kagan.

Obama’s record on civil liberties has long been attributed to a rather cold calculus that liberals have no where to go and that he should continue to play to the middle and right of the political spectrum. I am not so certain. There is no evidence that Obama actually believes in some of the principles that Stevens fought for, particularly in the area of terrorism. What is clear is that he has selected someone who will honor that legacy by dismantling a significant part of it if her testimony before the Senate last year is any measure.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Uggggh


Punked again.

Amy Goodman with more.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Says It

Chris Floyd.
What would I do if I came home from an ordinary day at work to find my children dead beneath the ruins of my drone-struck house? What would I do if saw my ailing father muscled from his home by masked goons who beat him and humiliate him then drag him off, bleeding, dying, to some iron-fronted dungeon? I hope I would have the strength to hold onto my belief in non-violence as the only hope to one day evolve our natures, and our cultures, beyond their deep-dyed savagery. But how likely is it that I would be that extraordinary, that I would have the extra measure of wisdom and spiritual fibre it would take to hold back the natural and understandable craving for violent retribution?

Not very likely; not in my case, nor in that of most others. Yet every day -- day in, day out, week after week, month after month, year after year -- atrocities like those described above are being carried out, in the name of the American people, in the name of civilization, in the name of our "way of life." Every day, day after day, some father or mother finds their children's limbs hanging in the trees, some child finds his parent's broken bodies smoking in the rubble, some ordinary, innocent human being sees their loved ones beaten, chained, abused and killed. Every day, day after day.

Only a fool -- a bloody-minded, arrogant, puffed-up, pig-ignorant fool -- could not see the horrific harvest of hate and destruction that will spring from such evil seeds. Only a fool -- or an elitist so wadded in wealth and privilege that he believes these monstrous fruits will never touch him personally, and doesn't care what happens to the rabble below, as long as his profits -- and his primitive, psychosexual lust for forcible dominion -- remain safe.

We are ruled today by just such fools, together with just such cold, deadened, malevolent spirits. But we seem to be content with this. Indeed, the most vociferous, active dissent we see these days comes from those who feel the system is not cruel enough -- who rage at the very thought that tax money might be spent to help someone in need, or that the borders have not yet been laced with radioactive razor-wire, or that accused criminals still have their rights read to them, or that Iran has not been destroyed, or that the power of Big Money might in any way be hedged with light restrictions.

These things bring thousands out in anger: but murder, aggression, torture, atrocity, and corruption on a scale unseen and hitherto unimaginable in human history -- these leave them cold ... as cold as the malevolent spirits who with their useful fools accelerate our degradation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Exploding Profits

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bringing Down the House



He's right. He's not joking. Neither is this man.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bearing Gifts

They seek a world in which no other nexus remains between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’ They seek to drown the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of human tenderness & compassion, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. All personal worth will be nothing but exchange value. All that is solid will melt into air; all that is holy will be profaned. They seek to strip of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. They seek to convert the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into nothing but paid wage laborers. --  Marx
In the face of planet-wide class warfare being waged by the forces of totalitarian corporatism -- forces which seek to exterminate all egalitarian gains made by man (over money) these past few centuries -- we have this:



On the other hand, here in the Land of the Frave and the Home of the Bree:



Mark Ames on the tools.
They can barely walk upright. They should be put in cages and injected with experimental vaccines, not given the right to vote. They're ignorant fucking morons whose brains are just crying out for someone to wash them with the most vicious, spiteful message you can throw at them. You cannot appeal to their better instincts because they have no better instincts. They don't think. They don't analyze. They simply buy, sell, consume, and listen to right-wing talk radio, and a few times a week, they hear some closet case in a powder blue suit and his hair molded tighter than a cat's ass feed them more and more hate and fear in the name of Jesus Christ. They are hooked on fear and hatred, and they cannot stand the thought of helping niggers or outsiders. No one in the world -- not in supposedly-savage Africa, not in the Balkans or Caucuses, not in the sub-continent or the tropics -- is as essentially mean-spirited as Middle Americans. Their stupidity, meanness and materialism is only bolstered, not tempered, by the religion that gives them their so-called "spirituality."
Utopia for the Masters? Maybe not yet, where humanity lives.