Saturday, November 30, 2002
What now for liberals and Democrats? Exactly what does this past election mean for the left? While progressives have complained for years that the Democratic Party isn't liberal enough, 54% of Democrats say the party too left of center. Where exactly does that leave us? Are we to conclude that America is simply not ready for a progressive agenda? That most progressives simply do not identify as Democrats? That the polls are flawed? One thing is for certain: if Democrats want to win, they must create a clearly alternative to Republicans with a solid plan for change. In his open letter to Nacy Pelosi Todd Gitlin provides some advice for balancing these concerns. Meanwhile: Al Gore and John Kerry have come out swinging.
What can you do to encourage the use of clean energy? One simple thing you can do is offset your power consumption by buying clean energy. I completely offset my home electrical use for only $10 a month. This doesn't necessarily mean that all the power in my apartment is coming from clean energy, but it does mean that an equal amount is being purchased and used in place of fossil fuels somewhere.
How U.S. Think Tanks Interact With The Military: "RAND operates three DOD-sponsored, federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). . . . Over time, RAND developed complementary lines of research for the Army, as well as for other federal clients such as the intelligence community. And the DOD steadily increased the number and diversity of its external sources of research, also using others in the growing world of 'think tanks' such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Brookings Institution."
Amnesty Says Two Chinese Internet Users Were Executed: "Foreign companies, including Websense and Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Microsoft have reportedly provided important technology which helps the Chinese authorities censor the Internet. Nortel Networks along with some other international firms are reported to be providing China with the technology which will help it shift from filtering content at the international gateway level to filtering content of individual computers, in homes, Internet cafes, universities and businesses."
Friday, November 29, 2002
A XMAS CAROL
On the twelfth day of fascism
John Ashcroft gave to me
Twelve digital implants
Eleven years protesting
Ten less amendments
Nine internment camps
Eight surveillance cameras
Seven TIPsters tipping
Six snoops a-sniffing
Four airport friskings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security
Another Century of War?
A foreign policy that is both immoral and unsuccessful is not simply stupid, it is increasingly dangerous to those who practice or favor it. That is the predicament that the United States now confronts.
A recent post to the invaluable nettime-l mailing list linked to this fascinating read. Before clicking on the link, try to guess the author's identity from the below:
The Clinton administration would like the Federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications. The FBI wants access to decode, digest, and discuss financial transactions, personal e-mail, and proprietary information sent abroad -- all in the name of national security. To accomplish this, President Clinton would like government agencies to have the keys for decoding all exported U.S. software and Internet communications.
Don't think I saw Lummox Taranto, Chuck Johnson, and their unoriginal followers - all deploying the "Our Friends the Saudis" headline with wearying regularity - link to this one. Some quotes:
"We're treating all Saudis as if they're terrorists. Our inability to distinguish between who is a friend and an enemy turns everyone into an enemy. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy."
"Does that mean one must leave the Republican Party in order to fight for liberty? Maybe so..."
Thursday, November 28, 2002
American Indians Hold Thanksgiving Day of Mourning: "The greatest single acts of terrorism to date were not perpetrated by Osama bin Laden, but by the US military when it dropped atomic bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
Shhh! American Prisoners Being Held In Afghanistan: "Guerrillas have captured five more American soldiers in Afghanistan. This is an extension to the list of 40 American soldiers who have been missing for more than a year now." (via LibertyThink)
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Kissinger named to head 9/11 probe
"Dr. Kissinger will bring broad experience, clear thinking and careful judgment to this important task," Bush said at a signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. "Mr. secretary, thank you for returning to the service of your nation."
And the comedy award winner is...
Not, but here's something so silly and juvenile I thought it'd never get a mention elsewhere, yet it did - a Stand Down post mentions this really stupid joke which, depending on how you like stupid jokes, can be funny, or simply idiotic, or both, but I thought it was clear enough the joke was precisely on the peace movement, not the reverse. I mean, after all, they do have a point. The levels of inefficacy that current "opposition" to anything our governments decide has sunken to are something close to what the site suggests, indeed... No particular reference, just a sad fact of life in western democracies as of November 2002.
There's always a risk of self-congratulatory pats on the back among even the best-intentioned protest movements. The efficacy of protests doesn't depend on their nature or scope alone, seen as public opinion is not that relevant to political decisions of the highest order like, indeed, wars, or economic policies. The strongest effect of lack of popular support for war, as detected by polls, is usually of forcing the war-posse governments to supply slightly stronger justifications to press their case (hopefully not involving the expectation of new attacks...). I know that sounds cynical, but it's true. That doesn't devalue the right to protest itself, seen as it's one of the foundations of democracy (elections were granted as a foundation of our political system only after riots and people demanding the right to vote - nevermind that voting has become a more limited choice than what was contemplated in Henry Ford's motto "customers can buy cars in any colour they like, provided it's black" ).
Still, in practice, protesting today has become a waste of time, unless one is focused on very precise, very specific and possibly local issues. How can you protest against "globalization", for instance? Try protesting against the local factories disregarding environment protection laws and it's more likely to succeed. It also makes more sense. War is also a local issue, in that every government planning to join the military effort on Iraq is going to devolve huge funds to that support, taking them away from other sectors of public investment that might be more necessary. So, fair enough to protest against it. But what about the rest? Why are there no huge protest movements when the issues are not related to US intervention, or the military? Why are so many people ready to criticize the hypocrisy of dressing a war for oil in terms of "exporting democracy" but spend so little effort checking how pipeline projects are being implemented in ways that betray all existing laws and established conventions, not to mention human rights and environmental principles? Check this for instance:
A consortium of corporations taking over the laws - that's even more worrying a possibility than the US bypassing international conventions and agreements to wage a unilateral war. Shouldn't it deserve the same if not even more attention? I'm not aiming at anything here, and the primary responsibility for lack of information on these issues is obviously at the mainstream media level. But just a thought for well-intentioned protesters worldwide: the side-issues sometimes are even more relevant than the bigger picture.
Marion "Pat" Robertson, pastor of the warblogging flock, continues to draw wild generalizations, saying that Muslims "want to kill the Jews and they also consider America the Great Satan, and they want to kill us. It's just that simple," though he later said that he "knew plenty of Muslims who were lovers of peace," thus unambiguously contradicting himself.
In an earlier Washington Times piece, Robertson reported regretting George W. Bush's pronouncement of Islam as "a religion of peace," saying of Bush that "He is not elected as chief theologian," obvious as Bush wasn't properly elected at all.
In an interview with CNN's Martin Savidge, Robertson then revealed his lack of familiarity with both doctrinal Christianity and practical Islam, and clarified that his exception was not so much with the "President's" phrasing as with the Koran itself.
Some days earlier a prominent idiot offered his support to Robertson, the letter offering same was then posted to Robertson's website, presumably to suggest that the business community likewise is ignorant of and prejudiced against Islam.
Yet Pat, Ralph Reed, and the Christian Coalition are as popular as ever, both in America and posted by Grady Olivier at 5:51 AM
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Restore access to information
...by volunteering incriminating information to the government under Homeland Security provisions, companies will be shielded from an inquisitive public. Officials at nuclear power plants, for example, could keep information about safety flaws from the public by providing it to the government. Never mind that an unknowing public might be at greater risk of an accident or faulty work than from terrorists.
Too much information is too much power
The bill also imposes sharp penalties against whistleblowers: A federal employee who releases secret information could face up to a year in prison. A spokesman for the ACLU called the House language "a disaster for the public's right to know."
Would You Like Corruption With Your Radioactive Waste?
Act surprised: "Congressional investigators on Tuesday were weighing a demand from Nevada’s senators that they look into allegations of fraud and abuse at Yucca Mountain — the site of the nation’s future nuclear waste repository. The senators, both opponents of storing the radioactive waste in Nevada, said new statements by whistleblowers suggest 'serious defects in the scientific process' used to pick Yucca as a storage site."
American Gulf War Veterans Association Calls for Rumsfeld Resignation
Sung to the tune: "If You're Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands"
If we cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets hurt your Mama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are Saudi
And the bank takes back your Audi
And the TV shows are bawdy,
If the corporate scandals growin', bomb Iraq.
And your ties to them are showin', bomb Iraq.
If the smoking gun ain't smokin'
We don't care, and we're not jokin'.
That Saddam will soon be croakin',
Even if we have no allies, bomb Iraq.
From the sand dunes to the valleys, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections;
Let's look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
While the globe is slowly warming, bomb Iraq.
Yay! the clouds of war are storming, bomb Iraq.
If the ozone hole is growing,
Some things we prefer not knowing.
(Though our ignorance is showing),
So here's one for dear old daddy, bomb Iraq,
From his favorite little laddy, bomb Iraq.
Saying no would look like treason.
It's the Hussein hunting season.
Even if we have no reason,
Monday, November 25, 2002
Bush signs Homeland Security bill
President Bush signed legislation Monday creating a new Department of Homeland Security devoted to preventing domestic terror attacks. He promised it "will focus the full resources of the American government on the safety of the American people." The president picked Tom Ridge as the department's first secretary.
Bush's signature launched the most sweeping federal reorganization since the Defense Department's birth in 1947, a process that his spokesman said could take up to two years to complete.
"Behind public preparations for an invasion, British and American aircraft are destroying Iraq's air defences while covert groups of special forces are training Kurdish fighters and preparing equipment."
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Famed Primatologist Declares Bush Administration a Bunch of Damn Dirty Apes!
The Bush Administration has been accused of being many things ever since it started the War on Terror , and now it looks like yet another colorful description can be added to the list : that they are nothing more than a bunch of hairless apes, specifically chimpanzees. That is , if a recent comparison between the Bush Administration and chimpanzees by famed primatologist Richard Wrangham, author of 1996's Demonic Males is to be believed.
One wonders: if you, say 2 or 3 years ago had wanted a make a bet on Bob Barr -- of all the people: that Bob Barr -- becoming a consultant for the ACLU -- what odds would you have made? Yet, here it is:
Defeated G.O.P. Congressman to Be Consultant for A.C.L.U.
Bellona Times No, the goal of Total Information Awareness is to help the administration follow its real vocation: maintaining political power through hypocrisy; that is, through a combination of personal secrecy and public libel. The Bush family relies on confidential deals, insider trading, erased records, and so on, while the far-right Republican Party has proven to its own satisfaction that any criticism of their policies can be deflected by launching non-sequitur counterattacks on their critics. Intelligence agencies -- "I know everything about you; you know nothing about me" -- are the coziest nests for such rodents.