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webuzz: obama, racism, media and other stuff

Posted by on Jul 24, 2009 | 0 comments

Weekend reading list….

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The Birther Movement is Racism

Posted by on Jul 23, 2009 | 2 comments

The “birther” movement is an extreme right wing disinformation campaign that proffers the idea that President Obama is not a US citizen, and was born abroad in Kenya. Here’s the rub: there are no actual facts to support this claim, rather the disinfo subsists on a form of cognitive dissonance – denial – and is propped up by a series of logical fallacies, from burden of proof to sweeping generalizations to just plain old bullshit.

It’s eliminationism in its purest form: marginalize your opponent to the point that they are a non-citizen,  illegitimate, then cut off the discussion by dismissing any introduced facts as untrue. (Or made up, imagined, crazy, over sensitive, etc.)

For example, when the State of Hawaii confirmed that Obana’s birth certificate was indeed real and official, the birther movement simply denied it to be true and then went one better and denied that the birth certificate has yet to be provided as proof! Brilliant in a way. But, also, the very definition of a lie. Here’s the simple true logic: denying a fact (or its existence) does not create a new fact. (IE: Denying Obama’s birth papers are real does not mean he is not a real citizen.) That’s just crazy.

As an emerging issue it’s a double edge sword and difficult to discuss since it’s clearly a disinformation campaign with one aim: to stoke the racial hatred and undermine Obama’s legitimacy as President. And, its proponents love nothing more than to keep the hate fires burning.

Yet, in reality, Obama’s citizenship is a non-issue, it’s been proven beyond a doubt according to standards that have been suitable for every US President who has been elected prior. (But of course, to the racist, those standards are not good enough for a black person, let alone a black person named Barack Hussein Obama.)

FactCheck does a superb analysis of the “scandal” and analysis of the original certificate. The allegations are so  completely incorrect and fabricated that it deserves nothing more than ridicule. The problem is that it’s wrapped in hate and irrationality, thus, there’s simply no middle ground from which to establish a coherent debate. Any introduction of fact is dismissed outright. That’s why hate based tactics are so difficult to fight against. Those who wage this type of tactic, (and those who believe it) simply deny the facts, deny the existence of the hate and the racism. It’s a figment of the imagination. Those looney Liberals!

There will always be those who want to believe what they believe, damn the facts. And, that is how “conspiracies” live and breath. That is how hatred and racism gain a foothold. If they don’t really exist, then why are they a problem? Neat, right?

In the past few days the birther movement has slithered into new territory. It is now being disseminated by traditional outlets on TV and radio – Lou Dobbs of CNN and Rush Limbaugh have both lent their “support” – and that means it should be dealt with properly. No longer simply a  fringe issue spun in dark dank dive bars, afluent suburb BBQ’s and hidden corners of the internet by nut job conspiracy theorists, it’s now being lent “credibility”. While it’s true that neither Dobbs nor Limbuagh are known for their objectivity or adherence to the facts, and they both clearly suffer from a deeply rooted hate based approach in their worldview and broadcasts, the fact remains that their broadcasts are swallowed whole as the gospel truth by millions. Sad, but true.

Interestingly, the birther movement can be traced back to the Obama campaign itself during the 2008 election. It’s a public relations effort gone bad. Apparently, a decision was made, in the spirit of transparency to release Obama’s birth certificate. Historically, presidential candidates have not released such information. Rather, it was presented during qualification of the candidate, but not made public. So, by releasing the birth certificate the Obama campaign opened a Pandora’s Box. Once it was made public, it meant it was open to intense scrutiny – most of it incorrect – that would be passed around the internet as fact and eventually make it’s way to less discerning minds, like Dobbs and Limbuagh, and those who listen to them.

At it’s root the birther movement is racism. It’s meant to create the impression that Obama is illegitimate, lower than a US citizen, not one of us. It’s meant to stoke the fires of suspicion and hatred towards immigrants and people of color. It’s not unlike the “Obama is a Muslim” meme. Same thing.

So, next time someone says to you that Obama’s opponents are not racist, cite the birther movement. Cite the Obama is a Muslim meme. And, if that doesn’t get their attention, show them this picture. (scroll down)

If they still don’t get it, call it as you see it.

The only way we will defeat racism is to make it unacceptable. And, those who make excuses for it are just as unacceptable as those who are openly racist.

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health care scare

Posted by on Jul 16, 2009 | 0 comments

A lot of extreme right wing blogs are at Red Alert in reaction to the health care debate. Fear is the only challenge they can offer to pretty much every issue on the boards. It’s a psyche loop they can’t remove themselves from… and it’s sad to watch. Just click on some of the reaction links at Memeorandum. Fear fear fear. Disinformation. Pathetic. The party of “No” is morphing into the party of “Oh no!!!!!!”

And, the Daily Show weighs in. (via Lean Left)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Drag Me to Health – Universal Health Care
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Joke of the Day
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webuzz: health care, rights, swine flu, domestic terror…

Posted by on Jun 11, 2009 | 0 comments

Links of the day:

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crisis as opportunity

Posted by on Jun 5, 2009 | 0 comments

Douglas Rushkoff on how to take back our world by seeing the current economic crisis as a great opportunity.

Life Inc. Dispatch 01: Crisis as Opportunity from Douglas Rushkoff on Vimeo.

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Life Inc. The Movie is out!

Posted by on May 11, 2009 | 0 comments

Over the past several months, I’ve helped shoot a short film that does an excellent job of introducing the important ideas in Douglas Rushkoff’s new book Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back.  The first chapter of the book is over at Boing Boing, where Doug is guest blogging. Watch the movie!

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Rush Limbaugh: Pied Piper of the GOP

Posted by on Jan 30, 2009 | 0 comments

The Conservative media icon is leading his brethren to their demise.

Last week on Campbell Brown’s show on CNN, Republican Strategist Ed Rollins was asked about Rush Limbaugh and the perception by the public that the GOP is a “bunch of white guys”, and that Obama won, according to Limbaugh, because he was black, and Rollins  replied:

“The reality is Rush is an entertainer. “

It’s a point that is overlooked and needs to be brought to the fore, most especially  since Limbaugh (by the weight of his ego and because a huge power vacuum exists in the Conservative movement at the moment), is the de facto leader of the GOP. But, he’s only a media visage. Not a policy maker.

Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer, a clown, an angry white guy with an axe to grind. There is no delicate way to put it. And, like Sarah Palin, he is only a partisan media image, an anti-intellectual icon created in order to stir anger and hatred amongst the GOP base. Limbaugh is not interested in actually solving problems or offering any workable solutions. He is a propagandist, and a symbol of a power structure and media tactic that is on the decline and inherently detrimental to the work of restoring public confidence.

Take for example Limbaugh’s recent Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal. His importance to the current debate on the economic crisis is non-existent and ill-informed. Limbaugh’s “economic proposal” is nothing of the sort,  it is only more of the same policies that have already failed.  As neo-con pundit David Frum presciently noted  last fall when assessing the reaction that most Conservatives would embark upon after an Obama election victory:

One thing that will certainly happen is a fundamentalist response…”‘If only we had been more consistently conservative, none of this would have happened; there’s still a conservative voting majority out there, and Bush alienated them with his too-centrist policies and various deviations from conservative orthodoxy; McCain was obviously unacceptable and if the voters turned down ham and eggs, it’s because they wanted double ham and double eggs.(emphasis added)

Rush Limbaugh has shown Frum’s prediction to be true. And, one has to ask: given Limbaugh’s obvious hatred for all things Liberal, and his public statement that since Obama’s policies are “socialist” he wants Obama to fail, if Limbaugh’s Op-Ed is even on the up and up.  Is Limbuagh to be believed? Who is to say his ultimate goal isn’t to sacrifice economic recovery for an Obama slide in popularity and the return of GOP dominance once again? His partisan goals have to be considered. He is obviously more interested in his ideological pals getting back into power than seeing the country regain it’s economic footing. The question for Limbaugh is: If economic recovery meant implementing policies you did not agree with, could you see beyond your ideological blinders? Because as it stands, not even Nobel Laureate’s in Economics have any clear answers as to how to solve the economic crisis. And, it’s hard to believe that Rush Limbaugh is the one who figured it all out.

Beyond this, there’s the sheer ridiculousness of an entertainer like Limbaugh hoisting himself into the economic debate and the political process. Via Skippy, John Cole over at Balloon Juice puts it quite succinctly:

to put this into perspective, imagine the reaction if rhandi rhodes was penning editorials in the ny times dictating the course of policy for the democrats, and the democrats were embracing her pearls of wisdom. i can’t believe the republicans are going to gamble their future like this, but then again, nothing they do surprises me. and, in fairness, considering i voted for bush twice, i am not really in any position to say the country won’t be stupid enough to fall for this. i am living breathing proof that yes, we are that dumb.

And, I have to think it’s more than that. Is political sabotage in the works? Digby writes it seems more than plausible, and I have to agree. A quote from Limbaugh that shows his inner thoughts on Democrats:

I mean, if there is a party that’s soulless, it’s the Democratic Party. If there are people by definition who are soulless, it is liberals — by definition. You know, souls come from God. You know? No. No. You can’t go there.

Continues Digby:

That sure sounds like your garden variety unhinged terrorist to me.Sirota reminds us why it’s not a good idea to negotiate with terrorists, especially one with little power. It tends to do the opposite of what you want it to do.

And, the zeal to see Obama fail apparently extends to GOP House members. From the David Sirota post that Digby refers to:

How do you know House Republicans aren’t negotiating in good faith and are acting as legislative terrorists? Because their rantings are verifiably crazy (h/t Steve Benen):

Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, said that former President George Bush’s signature tax cuts in 2001 had created years of growth but that the nation’s problems started when Democrats regained majorities in Congress in the 2006 elections.

Again, only legislative terrorists desperate to sabotage the economy would make such deliberately insane statements. Only legislative terrorists would insist that the economy was Teh Awesome under George W. Bush. Only legislative terrorists would ignore the basic facts that most Americans innately know, and that were perfectly summarized by Washington Post.

As I’ve said previously: extremists (or legislative terrorists)  need to be marginalized and kicked to the curb with cogent policy and intellectual integrity. Non-partisan exchanging of ideas is democracy. Holding the process of government hostage and working for failure of policy that could work when you have no alternatives goes by another name.

Go sign the petition and let Rush Limbaugh know that his voice is heard but if he chooses to place ideology before the real debate and the process of implementation of policy that could work (while offering no viable alternatives) then he will be met with ridicule and contempt.

Entertainers and charlatans have a role, but when they become obstructionalists purely to ensure that their ideological power structure (that has been proven to be devoid of any further role) remains in power, then they’ve crossed a line. How we deal with it properly within the rule of law and our democracy will be the test of our mettle.

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Progressive Revolution

Posted by on Jan 20, 2009 | 1 comment

Quote of the year:

The entire history of American political debate can, in some sense, be described as the argument between the hope of progressives for a better future vs. the fear of conservatives who want to protect the way things are now.

Alternet has an excerpt from the new book The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be by Mike Lux which “argues that it’s time to stop playing into conservative fearmongering. ”

I couldn’t have said it better. Please read the entire excerpt, you won’t regret it. Very uplifting.

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start your whining early, avoid the long lines

Posted by on Jan 19, 2009 | 0 comments

Sure to be the main theme of all right wing intellectual thought the next four years (and beyond) the jingosphere gets to whining early and often so as not to be caught without forks and knives once Obama is duly sworn in. The current completely made up scandal du jour?

“What recession? The $170 million inauguration”

Except it’s untrue. Eric Boehlert has the ugly truth. In a nutshell:  The costs quoted and compared – Bush spent 42 million, Obama spent 170 million  – are incorrect:

” …the unsubstantiated Obama cost of $160 million (inauguration + security) compared with the Bush cost of 42 million (inauguration, excluding security). Those are two completely different calculations being compared side-by-side, by Fox & Friends, among others, to support the phony claim that Obama’s inauguration is $100 million more expensive than Bush’s”

Sadly, it will be stated as the 100% truth within the hour and at a thousand dining room tables by supper tonight.

(via Digby, who notes how it’s part of the larger “big spending liberals” meme that conservatives will be peddling ad nauseum.)

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out with the old…

Posted by on Jan 19, 2009 | 0 comments

…in with the new.

  • When an old GOP loyalist and operative like Ed Rollins says that Bush is out of touch, it can pretty much be chalked up to be a harsh truth. A man like Rollins doesn’t bite the hand that feeds him unless presented with pretty extraordinary circumstances. I’d say that the outgoing President’s epic fail the past 8 years qualifies.
  • When a formerly stalwart pro-Israel member of Parliament says Israel’s leaders are not simply war criminals; they are fools it’s probably time to re-evaluate the reasons for being in Gaza and for those who support Israel without consideration of the fact that anyone is capable of atrocities to take a step back from their loyalist positions and consider the cost.
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    dubya morality syndrome

    Posted by on Jan 16, 2009 | 0 comments

    The term “moral clarity” gets tossed around a lot in political rhetoric, especially from the conservative side, but it’s pretty difficult to find it actually being practiced. It’s as if the very definition of morality has been turned on its head to mean what Bush (and his followers) want it to mean, rather than adhering to any actual definition of morality. And, if the definition is not actually clear, how can it be acted upon?

    “Moral clarity” has been used for too long as a propaganda tool by the right, to the point where it has become unrecognizable and meaningless. The gap between rhetoric and action is just too deep and wide, and that gap is at the root of nearly every issue we face from the economy to terrorism. Without true moral clarity, you can’t “win hearts and minds” as the saying goes. And, without hearts and minds, you’re dead in the water.

    It’s a contradiction that liberals have been harping on for years (and I’ve written about it as well calling the Bush Admin out for choosing PR over policy for starters) and it is an important discussion the nation needs to engage with great intensity if we are going to reestablish our footing and our vision on a wide range of issues.

    True moral clarity requires strong leadership, bipartisan engagement and a defined vision that allows an actionable response. The Bush White House has shown none of these attributes the past 8 years.

    The brutal truth is that the outgoing president has never been a man of moral clarity in regard to policy and its implementation. Rather, he has been a steadfast apologist,  proffered an eliminationist perspective and practiced the skirting of Constitutional law and human rights to secure political power, enforce American hegemony around the world and conservative “values” at home. It’s universally seen as a failure to some degree because of this very moral contradiction. Not surprisingly, the President shows not one iota of understanding of this fact. In his farewell address last night, George W. Bush, said the following:

    As we address these challenges – and others we cannot foresee tonight – America must maintain our moral clarity. I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense and to advance the cause of peace. (emphasis added)

    There’s a basic moral contradiction in Bush’s statement above: Is it moral to create the circumstances (invading Iraq under false pretense) where innocent Iraqi’s are murdered in order to advance the American ideology of freedom and democracy? Further, is it moral to kill some Iraqi’s to free the rest from oppression and despair?  Or are those an exception to Bush’s moral clarity?

    Over at Washington Monthly, Steve Benen notices the same hypocrisy at work in a later very similar statement from the address when the President said:

    Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I’ve always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right.”

    Writes Benen:

    When reflecting on his two terms, in other words, Bush’s argument is that he didn’t deliberately fail. He acted with the nation’s best interests in mind? He did what he thought was right? Well, of course he did. What president goes around trying to undermine the country, making decisions he hopes are wrong?

    The president, in this sense, set the bar as low as it can go. When parents tell a little-leaguer, “It doesn’t matter if you succeed, just do your very best,” it’s the right way to offer support to a child. Similarly, Bush seems to think having the right intentions, as he perceives them, should count, regardless of the results. He’s effectively asking the nation, “How about an ‘A’ for effort?”

    I’ve heard quite a few Bush defenders of late quibble with the notion that his presidency should be considered an abject failure. But how much debate can there really be when Bush’s pitch to Americans can be boiled down to, “I gave it my best shot”?

    Not much of course.

    Now we have to find the path of true clarity. Rather than getting lost in moral ambiguity, apologia and eliminationism, we need to embrace non-partisan good old hard work and the power of intelligent ideas and programs that we know through experience actually work.

    And, as far as morality is concerned, we need to disengage from the old tribalist and nationalist jingoism and patriotic threat mongering that has defined the past two terms. The problems before us are dire and serious. The time for partisan politics as usual is long gone.

    And, for starters, how do we actually apply moral clarity in a world of such profound violence and atrocities?

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    the israel and gaza show

    Posted by on Jan 12, 2009 | 0 comments

    itchy and scratchy

    (Updated below)

    One hundred years from now the great lesson of the past 60 years of violence between Palestinian’s and Israeli’s will be brutally simple: violence begets violence. For when that simple truth is forgotten (or ignored), violence becomes the only language that is understood. Violence becomes the dialogue and thus the reason for fighting at all. The original reason for the conflict fades away, seemingly unimportant. History is fraught with similar examples. Chris Hedges refers to it as “the language of death“.

    It has reached the point where the hypocrisy of both sides claiming the moral high ground while also killing each other at the drop of a hat has become both glaringly obvious and appalling. It’s also obvious after 60 years that war is not going to bring about peace in the region.

    Sadly, it’s very hard to not look at Israel as the more powerful aggressor and the Palestinian’s and Hamas as the underdog and oppressed, simply by virtue of the circumstances. Israel holds most of the face cards. (Please bare in mind that I”m in no way stating that the actions of Hamas are justified, but rather, that the line between the two sides has become blurred and, history will show, moot at this juncture.) As Glenn Greenwald points out responding to Israel’s comments that the military campaign in Gaza may be escalated and the dropping of leaflets “warning” the Gazan population of impending military actions:

    It’s hard to imagine, short of full-on indiscriminate civilian bombing, how this attack can be “escalated.” Is there any limit at all to the number of civilian deaths that Israel is willing to cause? And, given that Palestinians are not allowed to leave Gaza and have no safe haven within the Gaza Strip, what is the point of dropping leaflets warning the civilian population of “escalation” other than, as Moyers put it, to sow further terror?

    They can’t leave, even if they wanted to leave. And, there is a higher and much more historically unkind reality at work here: children are dying. Trapped like fish in a barrel. There’s no other atrocity that is higher on the historical scale than the murder of innocent children. Alas, it’s an atrocity that due to it’s horrific nature, for some reason often goes undiscussed and unnoticed until years later. It’s as if the horror is too difficult to deal with at the moment of it’s occurrence. Often our moral clarity on these matters is shrouded in apathy and economic and political hubris. As Mark at motormanmark.com notes:

    On the eve of World War II, perhaps what we consider to be our most virtuous endeavor, when Nazi values first reached our shores, they were celebrated by many of our citizens. It wasn’t the moral crisis of German anti-Semitism that brought us into the war, but the threat that our power would be eclipsed.

    As we participated in more wars, the killing of civilians became more and more acceptable, taking a larger and larger share of the civilian-to-soldier-deaths ratio.

    Revisit the calm resolve with which we carpet-bombed Vietnamese civilians.Four million civilians died during that 12-year war, our attempt to pre-empt the feared (but still as yet unfound) domino affect of communism.

    After the Mai-Lai massacres, President Nixon can be heard on his Oval Office tapes discussing the matter with Kissinger. The deed they are referring to is Mai-Lai. The person they are referring to is Maj. Wm. Calley, murderer of 109 civilians:

    Kissinger: That’s right. What they (the anti-war protesters) wanted (as a reaction from the public to the Mai-Lai revelations) was a feeling of revulsion against the deed. In fact, the deed itself didn’t bother anybody.

    President Nixon: No, they, matter of fact, the people said, “Sure, he was guilty, but by God, why not?” (Both laugh.)

    Kissinger: Exactly.

    We don’t know what Bush said in private about the US slaughter of civilians at Haditha, but we do know he and his military did not find the lives of the children killed by their invasion of Iraq worthy of even being counted.

    When Israel bombed Lebanon pre-emptively during the summer of 2006 (purposely targeting civilian areas) with US-made cluster bombs–sort of a mini-Iraq invasion—which they excused as a response to the Hezbollah kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers–UNICEF counted the children who died in the murderous hail. The number was 357.

    How obvious has it become that real atrocities are underway in Gaza? The conservative Wall Street Journal feels strongly enough about it to publish an Op-Ed with the very unambiguous title: Israel Is Committing War Crimes … Hamas’s violations are no justification for Israel’s actions. Not very subtle.

    News of the deaths of children in Gaza is slow to emerge, so public outrage and awareness is at a low level. Full censorship is being enforced in Gaza by the IDF, as is intimidation of the few journalists who are there. And, the United Nations is looking into alleged war crimes in regard to pecific incidents in Gaza.

    The moral ground is very shaky here for Israel, if it exists at all any more. They have become that which they fought against. Has Israel come full circle in it’s zeal and passion to defend itself from all those who would do them harm? How far can a society go in fighting terror until it becomes a terrorist itself?

    Over at Truth Dig, in an article titled “Why Do So Few Speak Up for Gaza?”, Robert Sheer writes:

    The high moral claim of the Israeli occupation rests not on the objective reality of a Palestinian threat to Israel’s survival, but rather on the non sequitur cry that “never again” should harm come to Jews as it did in Central Europe seven decades ago.

    The basic argument is that Palestinian terrorists represented by Hamas are given to an irrational hatred of Jews so profound that it invalidates their movement, even when they win elections. That was not the view of the Israeli security service when it earlier supported Hamas as the alternative to the then dreaded PLO. Also, history is replete with examples of terrorists becoming statesmen, even within the early ranks of Jews fighting to establish the state of Israel.

    One of those was Menachem Begin, who went on to be an elected leader of the new state. But before Begin attained that respectability, back in 1948 when he visited the United States, a group of prominent Jewish intellectuals including Albert Einstein, Sidney Hook and Hannah Arendt wrote a letter to The New York Times warning that Begin was a former leader of the “Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.” The letter urged Jews to shun Begin, arguing, “It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.”

    Begin’s new party was then participating in the Israeli election, and Einstein and his colleagues, many of whom like the physicist had been victims of German fascism, stated, “Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character.”

    Those actions were then detailed in the letter. They included the systematic terrorizing of innocent Palestinian men, women and children in an effort to force them to flee the territory that Begin’s party claimed for the new state of Israel.

    Clearly Begin and his political heirs, who include Benjamin Netanyahu, the most likely victor in the next Israeli election, evolved in their behavior. But I bring it up now to highlight the one-sided reporting of the current phase of this interminable conflict and to wonder: Where are the voices that reflect the uncompromising morality of Einstein’s generation of Jewish intellectuals willing to acknowledge fault and humanity on both sides of the political equation?

    Unfortunately, those voices and the discussion have been threatened into silence by the great fallacious tactic: If you criticize Israel for it’s policy, you are antisemitic. It’s rubbish of course, but it works quite well to deflect any and all criticism of Israeli policy. It also chokes off all too needed discussion and basic diplomatic process. And, the unlimited power of hatred should never be underestimated. It allows for an entire spectrum of rationalization of inhumane ideas and practices that one would not wish upon themselves.

    In many ways, it was inevitable. When Israel headed down the path of military dominance, the only end result of such a paradigm is alienation, condemnation and eventually destruction. In the history of the entire world there has never been a military power that has not collapsed, either from within by its own weight, or from outside by defeat. This isn’t to say that Israel should not defend itself. But the manner in which they do so needs to change.

    Hard and strident diplomacy and economic reform needs to be put into place. The military solution simply isn’t going to produce a peaceful result. That money would be better spent on social needs in Gaza. Why is Hamas left to be the only one building schools and roads and water supply in Gaza and elsewhere? (This applies to Hezbollah in Lebanon as well.) As steadfastly committed as the Israeli’s are to their safety, liberty and right to exist, (rightfully so) the Palestinian’s are equally steadfast in their desire for the same, as well as to obtain what the Israeli’s fought for and already have: a free state. A homeland.

    The Palestinian’s are not going to give up, ever, just as the Israeli’s are not going to give up. And, the idea of one side destroying the other is ridiculous and obscene, of course.

    The era of arrogant posturing and bully pulpit politics has been proven to be a rousing failure. It only enables others in the Middle East to step in and take control. And, one has to ask: Is it in any one of the major players financial interests to end such a lucrative military standoff? Unlikely.

    A new way has to be forged.

    Update:

    Via Think Progress, Spencer Ackerman takes note of the position of the  Haaretz editorial staff:

    “This war needs to move immediately to the diplomatic track and agreements that will end the fantasies and delusions of both sides.”

    Let’s hope sanity prevails.

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    stand by me

    Posted by on Dec 31, 2008 | 0 comments

    The great Ben E. King tune, from around the world. Brilliant. From playingforchange.com
    Enjoy.

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    where we go from here

    Posted by on Nov 8, 2008 | 0 comments

    Dougas Rushkoff has a forward looking post up on his blog regarding Obama and change and the hard work that lay ahead and he makes a number of important points, including:

    No, the opportunity is not to create the next great website for modeling bottom-up community activity, but to go and actually do the stuff. It is to participate the public school, work towards alternative energy possibilities, design and install bicycle lanes, argue at work for equal pay for women, assist local agriculture projects, develop complementary currencies and non-profit credit unions.

    My faith in the change we need will be strengthened by my own and others initiative. Obama can inspire us, and even remove some of the obsolete regulations preventing progressive activities from taking hold. His ability to lead us out of this mire into a brighter future will be limited, however, by our own capacity to engage.

    This cuts to some very important realities that we must deal with.

    Real progress and solutions always require a good amount of change and innovation, both sorely lacking the past several years in our leadership from the White House and the private sector. Most of it rooted in a lethargy born of fear, intimidation, arrogance and eliminationism.

    The truth of the matter is glaringly simple: conservatism is about maintaining the financial and emotional status quo, and brought to it’s extreme (as we’ve seen in the Theocratic and NeoCon movements) it becomes about fighting any change at all, no matter the outcome, with hatred and lies and a grab for power. Under such strict cognitive processes, monetary concerns and real issues – whether of national security or social security – take a back seat to ideology and the pursuit of power. And therein lay a great amount of chaos, decay, myopia and stagnation. It’s deeply ironic coming from the party of Lincoln, and also quite tragic. The legislative and policy record of the Bush White House will be the final historical testament to a mind set gone awry, a movement of nothingness and disaster run amok.

    And, keep this in mind: the “solution” from the conservatives that will surely come forward in the coming days will be to rebrand the same old as new and improved. As conservative pundit and writer David Frum said recently:

    One thing that will certainly happen is a fundamentalist response…”‘If only we had been more consistently conservative, none of this would have happened; there’s still a conservative voting majority out there, and Bush alienated them with his too-centrist policies and various deviations from conservative orthodoxy; McCain was obviously unacceptable; and if the voters turned down ham and eggs, it’s because they wanted double ham and double eggs.” That will be one view. How fast, how dramatically, and what form the alternative will take—that, no, we have a deeper problem—I can’t predict. But it will come.

    And, it’s already happening. Karl Rove and others have been on the disinfo campaign, touting a version of what Frum states, as has Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

    It can, to some degree, be a mild amusement, and chalked up to the rants and silly gyrations of a political party in its final death throes. But, considering the level and severity of the issues facing us not only as a nation but as a planet, such an attitude is not only foolish, but downright dangerous. People are struggling. And, all indications are that it is going to get worse before it gets better.

    The success or failure of any civilization is predicated upon the success or failure of certain social structures, not the least of which is the ability of the masses to supply themselves with essentials – food and shelter – in reality, and the perception of what lay ahead is extremely important.

    The great success of Mao Zedong in a country of a billion over the course of decades was initialized primarily by a deep understanding of that reality – people need to eat and have a roof over their heads – and the movement continued with great success (for those in power at least) for generations (and still does to some degree) because it was extended into an oppressive movement in order to maintain itself. The first move of all power structures is to attempt to solidify that structures existence – to secure it into perpetuity. And, that is a paradox that literally creates a scenario by which real change and solutions are sorely hampered. Change becomes obsolete. And, in the case of the Cultural Revolution, illegal.

    Of course, the very nature of human social groups predicates that all power structures will inevitably collapse under their own weight, since solidifying power and creating change and progressive solutions for the masses – ensuring people have enough to eat and a place to sleep – are not always conducive. Which is usually what happens on a much more rapid time frame here in the USA, since we have elections. At least, that’s the theory.

    IMHO, people of progressive attitude look to their leaders for good ideas, and the sharing of those ideas. Just like what we do in forums, and blogs and community gatherings. And, Obama is both a symbol and a working example of that.

    The great failure of George W. Bush, if you strip away all of the politics and the hubris, is that he never asked the American people to assist in the struggle that lay before us, he never engaged the great minds and powerful work ethics of the people to deal with the looming and serious issues that were literally laying themselves at our feet begging to be dealt with. He only asked us to spend our money and shop. And, shop we did!

    The results are crystal clear for anyone with an ounce of common sense to see.

    Real solutions require real work, as Douglas points out.

    And, work we shall.

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