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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    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 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.


    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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    A taste for torture

    Posted by on Apr 17, 2008 | 0 comments

    The simple fact of the matter is: we are better than torture. We are, or at least we once were… The country that held the moral high ground during the Nuremburg trials would not condone torture of enemies. Torture was the tactic of savages, of the evil Japanese Empire, the Nazi’s, the Soviets, the Red Army, the Khymer Rouge…

    Not the USA.

    Robert Greenwald has a new video, which is directly below.

    Digby is keeping this issue on the fire, by posting some posts from the past. Here’s one that I wrote two and a half years ago as well.

    Hot topic at: Empty Wheel, and Think Progress, and Open Left and Attytood.

    This shall not stand. Our failure of a president supports torture. We do not. Write to your local press or nearest media outlet and let them know.

    Then, get thee over to Condi Must Go and sign the petition.

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    war made easy… but you pay the price

    Posted by on Apr 11, 2008 | 0 comments

    Ralph Bernardo of Disinformation posted this trailer clip for “War Made Easy” and thought it worth sharing:

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    Thank you Dith Pran

    Posted by on Apr 1, 2008 | 0 comments

    New York Times Photojournalist Dith Pran has passed away. A nice video retrospective and interview with him is here, and a slide show is here. Extraordinary. And check out the Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project for more information on the Cambodian genocide.

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    bush speak versus reality

    Posted by on Mar 20, 2008 | 0 comments

    At this juncture, pretty much everything that comes out of BushCo. is a lie. They just don’t have anything else it would appear.

    Film director Milos Forman, who lived through the occupation of the Nazi’s and the Soviet Communists in Czechoslovakia said of propaganda that the obvious stuff never worked. It was the sub textual stuff that worked. This is the obvious stuff. Excerpts from Bush’s speech today with responses:

    Because we acted, Saddam Hussein no longer fills fields with the remains of innocent men, women and children.

    Saddam is believed to be responsible for the death of an estimated 200,000 Iraqi’s during his three decades long regime. (Not including pinning all the deaths from the Iran / Iraq war on him, since he received tacit support for this war from a number of countries, including the US.) The US led war in Iraq has been responsible for the death of nearly 90,000 Iraqi’s in a short five years, so far documented. Does genocide beget genocide?

    Because we acted, Saddam’s torture chambers and rape rooms and children’s prisons have been closed for good.

    Saddam’s torture chambers may be gone, but in spirit replaced by Abu Ghraib, and rendition in Syria and Egypt. Orphanages in Iraq proliferate, estimates by Iraqi authorities of millions of orphans abound, and barbaric treatment of children during the US occupation has been in the news.

    Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer invading its neighbors or attacking them with chemical weapons and ballistic missiles.

    Which doesn’t preclude the USA threatening to invade or attack Iraq’s neighbors.

    Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer paying the families of suicide bombers in the Holy Land.

    Meanwhile, it’s okay for the US to bribe jihadist groups not to fight, groups which had previously killed Iraqi civilians and US troops. And, it’s still under investigation whether some portions of the Iraqi insurgency and possibly AQI was actually funded by billions of US dollars gone missing.

    Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer shooting at American and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones and defying the will of the United Nations.

    IED’s and suicide bombers both continue to kill both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians nearly every day.

    Because we acted, the world is better and United States of America is safer.

    The US border is unsecured, so who knows who is coming and going and for what reasons, the Iraqi border is unsecured, the dollar is falling, the economy is in trouble, banks are failing, oil is up and down, the Chinese invest a trillion dollars yearly in US Treasury bills while the US economy continues to accumulate debt while not producing enough to balance it out, a major US city is devastated and the country lacks the resources to fix the problem, nuclear proliferation is still rampant around the world, anti-American sentiment is at a high world wide, an innocent man can be killed by mistake on a plane and people say it is okay, but we are safer because a thug turned despot with delusions of grandeur, who we were told was close to building a nuke but was not, is now gone.

    And, if you are a member of the club, you are making billions.

    Don’t ya feel dirty?

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    fog of war redux

    Posted by on Feb 4, 2008 | 0 comments

    Be sure to click on the featured video on the upper right. It’s a clip from Errol Morris‘ film “The Fog of War” featuring Robert McNamara going over the finer points of waging war on a foreign people, and interestingly, points which were pretty much ignored/forgotten/unknown /not applied to the run up to the current war in Iraq.

    And, people doubt that we evolved from monkeys. Here’s your proof.

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    apathy kills and money rules

    Posted by on Nov 20, 2007 | 0 comments

  • Be sure to watch the new featured video in the upper right hand corner. (c/o Noelle Belle at Crooks and Liars) If you can’t see the video, that probably means you are using an old version of Internet Explorer, and you should be using Firefox anyway!
  • A new study finds that the US prison system is a “costly failure” – not a deterrent to crime and a black hole that sucks taxpayers money – but that reality is most definitely secondary, since prisons are one of the great corporate growth industries, both in the US and Iraq. It’s the wild wild west, and law and order lay in the hands of those with the most guns. Read More
  • Jews "need perfecting" says attention whore Ann Coulter

    Posted by on Oct 12, 2007 | 0 comments

    You gotta hand it to Ann Coulter, she’s consistent. Not content with insulting Islam and professing her desire to convert Muslim’s to Christianity by brute force (and raise her book sales), it would seem that the uncivilized Jews of the world are next on her list.

    Which leads one to wonder: Does she have a book to sell? Why. Yes. She. Does. How convenient! (Go to Amazon and look it up, I’m not linking to her hate filled nonsense here.)

    Since when did it become standard issue to spout racist rhetoric to sell a book? Just wonderin’.

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    catching up on the news…

    Posted by on Apr 29, 2007 | 0 comments

  • David Hallberstam died this past week. NPR has a nice retrospective up, and Glenn Greenwald was kind enough to post a bunch of links to Hallberstam’s essays, with commentary. Required reading.

    On the adversarial relationship between journalists and political officials

    – patriotism and courage

    on 9/11

    on journalists and Vietnam

  • Rush is getting heat for what we’ve always known him to be –a racist.

    Kevin Drum gives us the low down, and Digby follows up with more essential reading which includes this important point:

    Rush is not some misunderstood schlub who just made a few slightly off-color jokes and doesn’t understand why it bothers some people.He’s not even a nasty old racist/misogynist creep like Imus who just thought he could demean anybody he felt like and make big money doing it. Rush Limbaugh a professional cog in the GOP machine who has been helping to set the political agenda in this country for more than a decade. He knows exactly what he’s doing when he plays on racist stereotypes and it isn’t just for the laughs.

    In a nutshell: racism creates divisions in the Liberal ranks and motivates the Conservative base. Keep people arguing, they can’t unite against you. If you caught Imus’ producers appearance on Hannity and Colmes, his stuttering excuse ridden “we’re the victim” stance is typical, and it’s no coincidence it’s being played 24/7 over at Fox News. Wingnuts are all about making excuses for their own bad behavior.

  • Over at New Black Man, Mark Anthony Neal’s post “Niggerology” 101: A Conversation with Jabari Asim is also a must read; a nice solid dose of reality regarding an emotional and important topic, one that needs to be discussed and dealt with properly.
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    Laura Bush says President "suffers"

    Posted by on Apr 26, 2007 | 0 comments

    There is a very powerful reality at the heart of the reason the US has lost the war in Iraq, and why the media and the Bush Administration has always had its head up its collective ass in dealing with the Iraqi people and the war in general. The following exchange between Ann Curry and Laura Bush sums up the arrogant self-centered truth behind the people who got us into this mess in the first place:

    “You know the American people are suffering watching –,” Curry said to the first lady.

    “Oh, I know that very much,” Laura Bush responded. “And believe me, no one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this, and certainly the commander in chief, who has asked our military to go into harm’s way.”

    Curry then asked, “What do you think the American public need to know about your husband?”

    “Well, I hope they do know the burden, the worry that’s on his shoulders every single day for our troops,” Bush said. “And I think they do. I mean, I think if they don’t, they’re not seeing what the real responsibilities of our president are.”

    Yeah, the American people and President Bush are suffering so much. Man, it really sucks having to see stuff like this, let alone having actually caused it:
    Somebody should give people like Curry and Bush a slap in the face. Feeling bad isn’t suffering. Having your parents blown away right in front of you and having their blood splatter all over you, that’s suffering.

    The pathetic thing is that someone like me actually has to point that little fact of reality out.

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    Murder is bad. Genocide not so much.

    Posted by on Feb 18, 2007 | 0 comments

    “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” – Josef Stalin

    A recent study suggests what many of us have always known to be true: the human race has difficulty dealing with large numbers of deaths.

    Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, said his research found that mankind is less likely to intervene in cases of mass slaughter than in cases where only one victim was involved. […]

    In the research carried out in Sweden, participants were shown a photo of a starving African girl and were given details of her individual story and the conditions of the nation in which she lives. Another photo contained the same information but for a starving boy. A third photo showed both children.

    The feelings of sympathy for each individual child were almost equal but dropped when they were considered together.

    Donations followed the same pattern, Slovic revealed, being lower for two needy children than for either individually.

    “The studies just described suggest a disturbing psychological tendency,” Slovic said. “Our capacity to feel is limited.”

    Accordingly, people were less likely to react when genocidal atrocities erupted. If humans saw a collapse of feeling at just two individuals, “it is no wonder that at 200,000 deaths the feeling is gone,” Slovic said.

    Failure to react was an evolutionary hangover, he said.

    It’s intersting, but not something that many of us didn’t already know. Eddie Izzard actually has an entire monologue about it in his comedy act:

    Pol Pot killed 1.7 million people. We can’t even deal with that! You know, we think if somebody kills someone, that’s murder, you go to prison. You kill 10 people, you go to Texas, they hit you with a brick, that’s what they do. 20 people, you go to a hospital, they look through a small window at you forever. And over that, we can’t deal with it, you know? Someone’s killed 100,000 people. We’re almost going, “Well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning. I can’t even get down the gym! Your diary must look odd: “Get up in the morning, death, death, death, death, death, death, death – lunch- death, death, death – afternoon tea – death, death, death – quick shower…”

    Of course, this is the main point of the book The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom, which proffers that this tendency is the result of our genetic makeup, a throwback to simian clan warfare – rooted in sexuality and social politics – since apes and chimps manifest the same behavior and also exhibit a strong lack of emotional reaction or connection to large numbers of simian deaths.

    As humans, we like to think that our reason and rationality separate us from and elevate us above the monkeys and apes, but in truth, not so much.

    Perhaps this is one reason Fundamentalists cling so very powerfully to religious mythology. Blaming an evil power such as Lucifer for our inhumanity towards our own humanity and ignoring the science behind evolution allows the blame for such atrocities to be hoisted upon an evil unseen power, rather than actually accepting our responsibility for our actions.

    It’s something we continue to struggle with in the 21st century. It’s a shame since the science is pretty obvious, as is the basic assumption.

    It’s a monkey thing, and as such, something we need to deal with in order to move into an area of truly civilized behavior.

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