Friday, April 29, 2011

Threads 1984

from Google video's verbiage:

Threads is a 1984 television docudrama depicting the effects of a nuclear war on the United Kingdom and its aftermath. Written by Barry Hines and directed by Mick Jackson, Threads was filmed in late 1983 and early 1984. The premise of Threads was to hypothesize the effects of a nuclear war on the United Kingdom after an exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States escalates to include the UK.

via Ella55k [video link]

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26 April 2011

video: "One giant step closer to 3rd world chaos: Keiser Report Extra "

Max Keiser(previously seen on DH here), who often comports himself like he needs ADD meds, is actually a bit more restrained here. I thought this interview with Janet Tavakoli was interesting.

Rob Payne, "The meaningless nation-state"

"David Apgar: What Was So Unpredictable about Deepwater Horizon?"

th' Huffy Post: "Marijuana Legalization: Poll Suggests Public Support Growing"

"Former Gov. Arne Carlson blames Tim Pawlenty for state budgeting problems"

"Libertarian Liberties"

Tom Engelhardt, "Sleepwalking into the imperial dark"

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Unseen

incubus henry fuseli

from a Facebook page(the names have been changed , as you probably guessed):

Thora Larson
Do I consider myself a liberal? In the sense of being broad-minded, I do. (Of course, even the word Republican does not mean the same thing it did 100 years ago.) I do play devil's advocate, and I am an instigator of free thinking. The people who are in power (and I am talking about the Unseen, not the seen) are not Immoral so much as Amoral...they work on a whole different playing field as you or I.
2 hours ago

Guy Witherspoon and 4 others like this.

John Davenport: Well put my dear
8 hours ago ·

Doreen Cantwell: feelin' it
3 hours ago

Lori Griffith: Pretty much had this same discussion with a friend today about the Unseen as you put it. Couldn't agree
3 hours ago

Natalie Stephenson: Tune in, drop out.
3 hours ago

Guy Witherspoon: So you are saying that the "Unseen" are people?
2 hours ago

Thora Larson: People who do not bring attention to themselves in the limelight as rich and powerful...not GHOSTS bwahhh!

about an hour ago

Terri Ortega: Very well said!
about 18 minutes ago

Sandy Roberts
‎"They thrive on our misery. They are the eaters of souls." In Their gestalt what happens to or with Us is inconsequential.
17 minutes ago

Vonda Washington: I want to eat their souls and thrive on their misery.
12 minutes ago

Maybe it's not cricket to post this, even with the names changed, because outside of "FB" a different audience may look at the sentiments posted uncharitably, and if the real "Thora Larson" or some other person associated with this thread saw this in this different context maybe they would regard their own words differently. In Facebook people tend to do a lot of sarcastic blathering and don't necessarily mean what they say. It's practically expected, cool distancing irony being the mode du jour on Facebook for most participants in most public contexts, at least as far as I can tell. I posted this partly because it makes me think of the perennial schism between voters saying in polls that they distrust government and have a poor impression of the congress, et al, and the tendency of incumbents to get re-elected, over and over, as well as the tendency to see 'change', whether the Obama-copyrighted variety or any other, to always be a question of replacing the D with and R or the R with a D, or the D with another D, etc. I also wonder how many of these people voted for Obama and possibly disapprove of some of the things he has actually done, and yet still support him. And don't you wonder how do they feel about all those darn Wikileaks, making so many hitherto unseen things seen?

(Incidentally, why are "the Unseen" amoral? Isn't suggesting the Unseen operate under a different moral code, or beyond a moral code altogether, in effect saying they are some kind of Randian supermen, and we should sentimentalize them and be in grudging awe of them? Can't people who do immoral things be, in fact, immoral people? Is it uncouth or unseemly to suggest this?)

Having said that, I'll admit I find the concept of the Unseen fascinating. I suspect a lot of people look at things like this, and Thora Larson is onto something. It sounds a little like a medieval incubus, that surreptitiously sneaks into a maiden's chamber at night, as opposed to the strapping young lad next door. I suppose a Tea Partier might regard, say, George Soros as a manifestation of "the Unseen", while some liberal-ish progressive who reads Talking Points Memo or Digby might see the Unseen as the Koch brothers. Does one have to be right, and the other wrong, in order to properly think about these things? What if they're both wrong, or even worse, both right? And once you've seen the Unseen, then what do you do?

The Unseen also sounds an awful like "Don't hate the player, hate the game", something some tediously hip person once said, which always sounded to me like an excuse, accepting corrupt behavior in a system without examining one's complicity, nor the complicity of others who are seen.

Finally, to me the Unseen suggests a sort of Star Chamber to which politicians must go to get their instructions, and all we can possibly do for them, time and again. After all, it's not their fault for occupying the offices they hold, and doing the things they do, they're trying their best, but the Unseen are too powerful to resist. And it's not our fault for voting for them. We did the best we could, with the choices we were offered.

"U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show"

Glenn Greenwald, "Obama's "bad negotiating" is actually shrewd negotiating"

Joseph Stiglitz, The Guardian, "Meltdown: not just a metaphor"

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

21 April 2011

hondros and hetherington

Paul Bignell, Independent, "Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq"

AP: NYC officials defend decision to cuff 1st grader(also here)

Jessica Anderson tells the Daily News that 7-year-old Joseph became upset because his egg-painting didn't look the way he wanted. She says he was taken to the hospital wearing metal handcuffs even though she told the school she was on her way to get him.

Annie Lowrey, Slate, Heading for a McRecovery? McDonald's plan to hire 50,000 people in one day and what it says about America's economic prospects., Michigan: Police Search Cell Phones During Traffic StopsACLU seeks information on Michigan program that allows cops to download information from smart phones belonging to stopped motorists.

Alex Parene,, "DEA head: A thousand dead children means we're winning war on drugs"

U.S. and Mexican officials say the grotesque violence is a symptom the cartels have been wounded by police and soldiers. “It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs,” said Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The cartels “are like caged animals, attacking one another,” she added.

You probably heard that photographer Chris Hondros(left, above) and filmmaker Tim Hetherington were killed in Libya earlier this week.This famous photo was taken by Hondros in Iraq in 2005. (via "Photojournalism, Ethics and a Trail of Blood" )

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview with Ha-Joon Chang

Above: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism: Pt 1

Ha-Joon Chang: "We do not live in a post-industrial age."

I will admit I know nothing about Chang apart from these clips from his interview with The Real News. His book sounds interesting, although I have tentative misgivings about his assertion that most people make too much money. But maybe I need to hear his argument fleshed out and offered in context to better understand it.




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Monday, April 18, 2011

Elizabeth Warren at Berkeley: the coming collapse of the middle class

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Because the ocean is so huge

"Officials: No nuclear risk to North Pacific fish"(also here)

...a spokeswoman for the federal Food and Drug Administration tells the Anchorage Daily News that the ocean is so huge, and Alaska fisheries so far away, that there is no realistic threat. Alaska's food safety program manager, Ron Klein, says the FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have demonstrated that Alaskans have no cause for worry. Klein says that based on the work they're doing, no sampling or monitoring of our fish is necessary

"...based on the work they're doing." What kind of work? Does it include sampling? They just said it wasn't necessary, so no. Blanket assurances from officials are always reassuring.

New York Times, "In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures"

It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted? Answering such a question — the equivalent of determining why a dog did not bark — is anything but simple.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Drum Majorette

When I was a sophomore in high school there was this beautiful senior in my geometry class. She was the drum majorette for the marching band. Long dark hair. I still remember how on those warm spring days I would look at the back of her head across the classroom and get these uncontrollable erections that high school boys get on warm afternoons. When there were parades in my town she'd be marching out in front leading the band, kicking those legs in the air, thrusting her scepter high. She'd do these powerful movements with the scepter that appeared to mean something, although I didn't know what they meant. She had one of those big hats like the beefeaters have. With a chin strap. Her outfit was small, short and tight. She'd kick her knees up in the air. She had white boots. She was a gorgeous young woman. Back then I loved parades.

Years later I got to know her more personally and, sparing you the sordid details, she wasn't all that I presumed she was. This recollection reminds me of Obama. Not that he looks gorgeous. And not that he's not all that he was cracked up to be, although that's certainly true. It's just that, although he is in the front of the parade, he's not leading it. Karoline, that was her name, couldn't decide to make a turn and take the parade down, say, Atlantic Street instead of Broad Street. The parade route had already been decided. She had no say in the matter. If she had decided to march down Atlantic Street she would have done so alone; and would have had to have turned in that tight little uniform and scepter to some school official the next Monday. It was an illusion that she was leading anything. She was just in front of the parade. She was actually following the parade route.

The difference between Obama and the typical Republican in Washington, D.C. is that after he screws the working class once again he says, "I feel your pain." Whoops, you say, wasn't that the last Democratic President before Obama? Well, it was him too. I'm an old guy, old enough that there are pictures of me crawling around on all fours from the Truman Administration. What I have seen over the course of my life is a trend of Democratic Presidents going further and further to the Right and being apologetic for the screwing that Democratic constituents get. Of course, you say. But why? The last survey I saw had a little under two-thirds of all Americans wanting us out of Afghanistan. You would think that such a sentiment would be grabbed by some political party. A President could be popular with Americans and save a trillion or so dollars too. And a few lives. Considering how unpopular that war is with Democrats, why is Obama deaf to this? (You'll notice I'm not condemning him here, I'm asking why.) The same can be said about the deficit, the budget, healthcare, whatever. Obama starts the negotiating point much farther to the right than his voting constituency. Why? Right now I can go to the comments sections to articles in my local papers and find reactionary Republican commenters angrily accusing Obama of all the things that Bush (also) did.

One popular reactionary meme is that Afghanistan is now Obama's war. They are right, but their criticism is mostly useless because they seem to be attacking Obama because he's a Democrat, or he's black, or he's a quote-socialist-unquote. The same posters who were all for TSA scrotum searches under Bush now are shocked, shocked I say about the TSA patdowns. A more interesting dynamic is how many of the Democrats react, because many feel obligated to defend Obama. When Bill Clinton was allowing the mega-mergers of our media, gutting welfare, pushing GATT, NAFTA et al to destroy the American working class, and signing off on deregulating banks (thus bringing us the Depression of 2008), in short, behaving like a Republican, what were people arguing about? The blowjob in the Oval Office that Bill Clinton got from (probably) an intelligence operative. Think about it. While millions of Dems argued about why it's nobody's business who was doing what with Bill, our dear President was selling the Democratic base down the river. Now many Democrats find themselves arguing against even more insane rhetoric. I mean, how do you discuss rationally the finer points of healthcare to someone who's against last year's bill because Obama is a socialist/Marxist/liberal/fascist/Kenyan agent planted to create death panels to kill good white Americans? At least Clinton's blowjob was more reality-based. At some point early on in the Obama Administration it became obvious to me that not only is this guy not in charge, he's only pretending to be in charge. He's the guy in front of the parade but the parade route is already drawn up.

Here's another metaphor that came to me: American politics is professional wrestling. It's not real. Since I came to this realization I've been less angry at Obama or Bush. Or Clinton. Or Bush I. Or Reagan. They're all actors. They wouldn't get the role if they couldn't act. They know how to follow the parade route. What I am saying is that America is no longer a democracy. Not when you get to Washington, D.C. In an old Henry Miller essay, the one from the book Black Spring where he coins the term "Coney Island of the mind," Miller describes the world as pasteboard. You think it's real but it's not. That's our democracy. Our elections are fixed, like professional wrestling matches. Oh, not local elections. But the farther up you go, the more likely good people are weeded out of the political process and actors are put in. Look! Here comes the parade!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

from The Ground Truth: the human cost of war

BBC: US Civil War 150th anniversary: How US remains divided
(the US Civil War started on April 12th, 1861, 150 years ago today)

I'd never heard of Jennifer Matsui until today, when I came across her name in a Joe Bageant essay, "The Simulacran Republic", which also worth reading.

Matsui:"The Unmitigated Gall of O-Dacity" is from December 2009, but still relevant.

Awarding the current US Murderer-in-Chief the same prize that was bestowed upon Dr Martin Luther King Jr in 1964 is yet just another example of the Corporate State's ability to subvert dissident thought and action into establishment enabling PR. The same institutions that rely on Bono to lend legitimacy and rock star "cred" to their violent neo-colonial agenda have now appointed a youthful former community organizer to head their global operations. In Bono's case, the peace activism of John Lennon was successfully reconfigured to serve the interests of the ruling class as 'New Labour' rallied rock stars and other "anti-Establishment" figures to rise up and allow a new super elite to emerge. We can see the same brain trust at work as neo-cons embrace 'feminism' to justify their unending war on the Muslim world, invoking the dreaded veil to get western women on board with their military objectives.

And, yesterday from the BBC, "Egypt blogger Maikel Nabil jailed by military court"

Chris Hedges,
''Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System''

Uh, oh: "General: U.S. troops not ideal, but may be considered in Libya"(CBS News)

April 3rd: Telegraph, "People with Norman names wealthier than other Britons"

People with "Norman" surnames like Darcy and Mandeville are still wealthier than the general population 1,000 years after their descendants conquered Britain, according to a study into social progress.

Twenty facts on inequality in the US. Charts and information.
(via Jodi Dean)

March 26: Vivek Wadhwa, "Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Into Finance"

Pepe Escobar, "Let me bomb you in Peace"

I will admit I haven't followed the developing situation in Ivory Coast very closely. As you probably know NATO has been involved in their civil war there, and earlier this week helped remove Laurent Gbagbo from power.

I note however, that a couple of weeks ago Paul Craig Roberts remarked in "The New Colonialism" that

Forty-nine countries participate in the US Africa Command[aka AFRICOM-JV], but not Libya, Sudan, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, and Ivory Coast. There is Western military intervention in these non-member countries except for Zimbabwe.

Then again, maybe Empire is an alphabetical project.-JV

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smoke gets in your eyes

Ezra Klein: "2011 is not 1995"(via BDR) would’ve never known it from President Obama’s encomium to the agreement. Obama bragged about “making the largest annual spending cut in our history.” Harry Reid joined him, repeatedly calling the cuts “historic.” It fell to Boehner to give a clipped, businesslike statement on the deal. If you were just tuning in, you might’ve thought Boehner had been arguing for moderation, while both Obama and Reid sought to cut deeper. You would never have known that Democrats had spent months resisting these “historic” cuts, warning that they’d cost jobs and slow the recovery.

Boehner, of course, could afford to speak plainly. He’d not just won the negotiation but had proven himself in his first major test as speaker of the House. He managed to get more from the Democrats than anyone had expected, sell his members on voting for a deal that wasn’t what many of them wanted and avert a shutdown. There is good reason to think that Boehner will be a much more formidable opponent for Obama than Gingrich was for Clinton.

Of course I don't know Ezra Klein, but by most accounts he is a bright, highly educated overachiever, so I assume he knows better, or at least should know better. He gives Obama and Reid credit they don't deserve, suggesting they fought the good fight against those horrible Republicans, and are bravely putting on a good face in defeat. To believe this you have to believe that Obama and Reid are not in fact in on the effort to strip mine the New Deal and Great Society programs. Reid and Obama could have, for example, insisted on a vote on ending the GWB era tax cuts in the summer of 2010, when the dems still had a majority, playing election funding hardball with the so-called Blue Dogs in the House and Senate(most of whom lost re-election anyway). They didn't do this because they didn't want to.

But what about a filibuster? Bills have passed the Senate for many decades without 60 votes. They could have forced a GOP fillibuster, rather than reactively running away from even the possibility of one because they didn't have 60 votes locked up, breaking the phony-baloney gang of 14 agreement. Again, they didn't force the issue because they didn't want to.

Going back to 1990s income tax rates would have rendered the 38 or 39 or whatever billion in cuts unnecessary. (Whether they even were necessary in the short term is also debatable, but to keep the present discussion simple assume they were.)

Even if they lost a vote on the tax cuts in summer 2010, it would have given the democrats a rhetorical club against the GOP in the then-upcoming elections, refuting the Tea Partiers claim that they were serious about reducing the deficit. It may have even helped in the midterms, at least in some districts that democrats lost.

And as far as Boehner being a 'much more formidable opponent for Obama than Gingrich was for Clinton'', you have to assume that the degree of difference between BHO and Boehner today is comparable to that between Gingrich and Bill Clinton in '95, and that BHO is not a corporate stooge, etc.

(Actually, even Bill Clinton has shifted corporate right closer to the GOP than he was, at least operationally, in 1995. I note Clinton's endorsement of Joe Lieberman versus Ned Lamont in 2006 as exhibit A, and Clinton's own rejection, in December 2010, of going back to the Clinton era tax cuts as exhibit B. Of course 1995 was so many six figure speeches ago, and one imagines that Bill's Rolodex of well-connected friends is so much fatter.)

Klein continues:

So why were Reid and Obama so eager to celebrate Boehner’s compromise with his conservative members? The Democrats believe it’s good to look like a winner, even if you’ve lost. But they’re sacrificing more than they let on. By celebrating spending cuts, they’ve opened the door to further austerity measures at a moment when the recovery remains fragile. Claiming political victory now opens the door to further policy defeats later.

Or, claiming political victory now confuses stupid people and sends the proper signal of deference to the owners. I guess that's crasser, and may even use words that are frowned upon in the Washington Post style manual. But he's undoubtedly right about opening the door to further austerity measures and 'further policy defeats'. You have to give him that.

Among the best blog posts from this past week:

Two from Ian Welsh, "In Light of the Budget Deal: Obama’s Personality"
and "When Medicare is destroyed is only a matter of when"

and two from Jack Crow, "Clumsy Theater"
and "Pay no attention to the man behind the..."

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Monday, April 04, 2011

BHO is not MLK

BHO is not MLK

Linh Dinh, March 2011(via John Caruso):

Suave, articulate and personable, Obama is proving to be just as deadly as Bush, but clearly more cynical. A great, loyal tool of the establishment, Obama has dampened protest from American liberals. Though they know he has betrayed them, they’re reluctant to show appropriate outrage because, not that long ago, they have cheered and wept for him so openly.

Ian Welsh,

1.December 2010, "Obama isn’t about compromise"

Let me put it even more baldly. Obama is, actually, a bad man. He didn’t do the right thing when he had a majority, and now that he has the excuse of a Republican House he’s going to let them do bad thing after bad thing. This isn’t about “compromise”, this is about doing what he wants to do anyway, like slashing social security. The Senate, you remember, voted down the catfood comission. Obama reinstituted it by executive fiat.

and 2, October 2010, "Repudiating Liberalism or Obama"


Virtually every day there is something in the news that reminds me of my revulsion for Barach Obama's administration, and how he has come to personify for me the sense that we live in Upside Down World. The age of Obama is an age in which a president can

1.announce the expansion of a war on a backward and essentially defenseless country (and subsequently be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize),

2. obligate millions of poor people to buy healthcare coverage, as a gift to the private insurance companies,

3.make plans to strip-mine social security,

and have besotted and hoodwinked millions hail him as their Great Liberal Hope while millions of others are convinced he's a socialist, secretly African, and possibly even the Antichrist.

As far as I can see both groups of millions are deluded and easily fooled, not necessarily because of stupidity per se, so much as a hunger to believe convenient things that square with their fears and prior beliefs, and don't require much work to sort out. OK, a dose of stupidity also helps.

While I see Obama as a champion con man and a right wing corporate stooge much as Ian Welsh, John Caruso, and Linh Dinh (and many others) do, I sometimes wonder if I have lost my objectivity. I have wondered in the past if Obama's apparent fondness for deliberately ironic bad timing was just a product of my imagination. For example, in late 2009 I wondered if he delayed announcing whether or not he would approve a "surge" of troops in Afghanistan until just before he was due in Norway to accept his peace prize partly in order to pair the unconditioned and conditioned stimuli of the two events, like Pavlov's warmongering dog, hoping to encourage people to associate Obamawar, his own special brand, with peace and humanitarianism. War is peace, freedom is slavery, etc. Was I being too harsh, and seeing links that weren't there? I wasn't sure.

Strictly speaking, the fact that Obama decided to formally announce his 2012 reelection bid today, on the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King jr's assassination, doesn't necessarily corroborate my suspicion, nor does it prove BHO's narcissism, or even that he takes black people for granted. But it does disgust me.

(I note also that in terms of linking events deliberately, the administration chose today to announce that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would get a military trial.)

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

O's Latest Humanitarian Move

The peace laureate, not satisfied with the extent of his war activities elsewhere, has asssured us of more death and destruction in Libya. Just a tidbit of his amusing speech on the subject:
"I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Gadhafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region, and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives — then it's in our national interest to act."
I think his speechwriters should get a raise! It's priceless to hear that we're concerned with saving "many thousands of lives," so we're going to--what? Send members of the Peace Corps over? Sit down and negotiate with Libyan leaders? Try in any other peaceful way to end the violence and lend a helping hand to the people?
Nah-h! We'll bomb the hell out of them!
Problem solved.


Friday, April 01, 2011

Toni Morrison could do that thing with her mouth if she wanted to, but she doesn't feel like it

Don't the fools at Time magazine know Barry is a socialist? What's wrong with them?

But hey, he won the Nobel Peace prize and revolutionized healthcare in America, and he really, really hates having to bomb Libyans just so the nasty conservatives will get off his back, etc. Some day I will have to write a post, without being the least bit snarky or sarcastic, explaining to kneejerk Obamalovers and Teapartiers why they are the perfect complement to each other, like Frank Gorshin and the other guy on that episode of Star Trek, the black and white guy and the white and black guy, at each others throats, etc.

But today, I'm sorry, I don't have the energy to shoot fish in a barrel. It should be shooting fish in a barrel. That it's difficult is a triumph of modern culture, destroying everything in its wake, or at least a triumph of public relations.

"Germany's radioactive wild boars a legacy of Chernobyl"(also here)

The night Julian Assange owned the dance floor in Reykjavik

And, two via Avedon:

"Uterus" Now Officially a Dirty Word in Florida

FBI spied on little kids for days at a time, documents reveal

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