Sunday, October 31, 2010

Greenwald: "Why is Assange still alive?", A note from Jackie Goldberg, GOTV locations

Hi. This concludes with a powerful on-topic youtube ad by
Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Click on the URL just below
to see it. -Ed

"Why is Assange still alive?"
The Wretched Mind of the American Authoritarian

By Glenn Greenwald

October 30, 2010 "Salon" -- Decadent governments often spawn a decadent
citizenry. A 22-year-old Nebraska resident was arrested yesterday for
waterboarding his girlfriend as she was tied to a couch, because he wanted
to know if she was cheating on him with another man; I wonder where he
learned that? There are less dramatic though no less nauseating examples of
this dynamic. In The Chicago Tribune today, there is an Op-Ed from Jonah
Goldberg -- the supreme, living embodiment of a cowardly war cheerleader --
headlined: "Why is Assange still alive?" It begins this way:
I'd like to ask a simple question: Why isn't Julian Assange dead? . . .
WikiLeaks is easily among the most significant and well-publicized breaches
of American national security since the Rosenbergs gave the Soviets the
bomb. . . .

So again, I ask: Why wasn't Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?

It's a serious question.

He ultimately concludes that "it wouldn't do any good to kill him, given the
nature of the Web" -- whatever that means -- and reluctantly acknowledges:
"That's fine. And it's the law. I don't expect the U.S. government to kill
Assange, but I do expect them to try to stop him." What he wants the
Government to do to "stop" Assange is left unsaid -- tough-guy neocons love
to beat their chest and demand action without having the courage to specify
what they mean -- but his question ("Why isn't Julian Assange dead?") was
published in multiple newspapers around the country today.

Christian Whiton, a former Bush State Department official, wasn't as
restrained in his Fox News column last week, writing:

Rather, this [the WikiLeaks disclosure] is an act of political warfare
against the United States. . . . .Here are some of the things the U.S. could
do: . . .Explore opportunities for the president to designate WikiLeaks and
its officers as enemy combatants, paving the way for non-judicial actions
against them.

I emailed Whiton and told him I'd like to do a podcast interview with him
for Salon about his WikiLeaks proposal and he replied: "Thank you for the
invitation, but I am starting a trip tomorrow and will be on a plane just
about all day." I replied that it didn't have to be the next day -- I'd be
happy to do it any day that was convenient for him -- and he then stopped
answering. As I said, the real objective is for them to beat their chest in
public and show everyone how tough they are -- take 'em out, Whiton
roared -- but they then scamper away when called upon to be specific about
what they mean or to defend it (let alone to participate in the violence
they relentlessly urge). Whiton was just echoing his fellow war
cheerleader, torture advocate Marc Thiessen, who wrote this in The
Washington Post, under the headline "WikiLeaks Must be Stopped"

The government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can
employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to
bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.

"Military assets": apparently, according to this brave and battle-tested
warrior -- Marc Thiessen -- the U.S. can and should just send a drone over
London or Stockholm and eradicate Assange, or just send some ground troops
into Western Europe to abduct him.

Speaking of war cheerleaders, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg today points
to an Editorial by The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky which fantasizes -- as
Goldberg puts it -- that "Lincoln, and FDR as well, would have pretty much
tried to hang the Wikileaks founder for treason." Apparently, the fact that
Assange is not and never was an American citizen is no bar to hanging him
for "treason": when you wallow in self-centered, self-absorbed imperial
exceptionalism, everyone on the planet has the overarching duty of loyalty
to your own government, and you think everyone is under the auspices of
American rule.

There are multiple common threads here: the cavalier call for people's
deaths, the demand for ultimate punishments without a shred of due process,
the belief that the U.S. is entitled to do whatever it wants anywhere in the
world without the slightest constraints, a wholesale rejection of basic
Western liberties such as due process and a free press, the desire for the
President to act as unconstrained monarch, and a bloodthirsty frenzy that
has led all of them to cheerlead for brutal, criminal wars of aggression for
a full decade without getting anywhere near the violence they cheer on, etc.
But that's to be expected. We lived for eight years under a President who
essentially asserted all of those powers and more, and now have a one who
has embraced most of them and added some new ones, including the right to
order even American citizens, far from any battlefield, assassinated without
a shred of due process. Given that, it would be irrational to expect a
citizenry other than the one that is being molded with this mentality.

* * * * *

One of the most progressive ads of the election cycle comes -- ironically,
sadly, and revealingly enough -- from Alaska's GOP incumbent Sen. Lisa
Murkowski, against GOP nominee and tea party candidate Joe Miller:


----- Original Message -----
From: jackie goldberg
To: Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2010 11:18 AM
Subject: Close races--Very important contests for our State

My buddy Parke Skelton sent this along. Remember to get other people to the
polls and to get there yourself.
The insurance companies are pouring in dough to elect a "good friend of
theirs" over Dave Jones (Insurance Commissioner),
with whom I served. Dave is great! and needs your support. Insurance
Commissioner is a critical position in California State government, as is
Attorney General of the State.

Kamala Harris, for Attorney General is in a dead heat with that "I love the
death penalty" guy Steve Cooley from L.A. County.

And finally, Gavin Newsom (Attorney General) is in a very, very close race
with the cute, friendly and VERY CONSERVATIVE Abel Maldonado.

Tell everyone, these races matter too. Thanks to all of you for doing your
part, now and again on Tuesday.


- - -

Hey, Jackie

We need to stop the Insurance Companies from buying the Insurance
Commissioner. We are trying to get this out to as many people in CA as
possible over the next couple of days.

The big insurance companies are spending millions to buy the office of
Insurance Commisisoner and defeat a strong consumer champion Dave Jones..

Can you forward to everyone you know? And ask them to do the same?



P.S. No office, with the possible exception of Governor, will have more
impact on the day to day lives of Californians than Insurance Commissioner.
Especially as the state begins implementing national health reform.


SG&A Campaigns
600 Playhouse Alley #504
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 535-9616


----- Original Message -----
From: Marcy Winograd
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2010 5:58 AM
Subject: [PDLA] GOTV Offices in LA - Where to Volunteer Before Tues., Nov.
2, Election Day

Please do what you can to get out the vote beforeTuesday. We need to
establish majority rule in Sacramento, protect our air, land, and water, and
make the corporations pay. Volunteer at an HQ in LA. The Newsom and Boxer
campaigns need volunteers. If we elect Newsom Lt. Gov., he will chair the
State Lands Commission, a little-known but powerful body that has the power
to stop new offshore and onshore oil drilling. Thank you for your energy
and activism, Marcy Winograd


CDP VOTE 2010 West LA
3916 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 391-8232
Hours: 10am - 9pm every day
(RE-elect Senator Boxer Campaign HQ here, too.)

Gavin Newsom for Lieutenant Governor

1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 720

Los Angeles, CA 90067-5901

8AM to 8PM

Office Telephone: 323-331-1881

Kamala Harris Campaign Office - LA HQ
5442 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

volunteer coordinator Alida Garcia -

NO on Prop 23 (Keep caps on greenhouse gas emissions.)

2202 Main Street

Santa Monica, CA 90405

volunteer coordinator - Alex Epstein (310) 591-7421

7374 Beverly Blvd.

LA, CA 90036

volunteer coordinator - Bryce Carter (310) 591-7270

CDP VOTE 2010 Mid LA
2240 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018
(323) 735-6703 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (323) 735-6703
Hours: 10am - 9pm every day

Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley (DPSFV)
7221 Van Nuys Blvd., Unit B-2, Los Angeles, CA 91405
(818) 995-DEMS (3367)
Hours: Mon-Fri: 2pm - 8pm | Sat: 10am - 6pm

CDP VOTE 2010 East LA
4530 East Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90022
(323) 415-8021,
Hours: 10am - 9pm every day

Southbay CDP Democratic Headquarters

603D East University Drive,

Carson, CA 90745

The corner of Avalon Blvd and University Dr.

Email or

Telephone 310-421-VOTE for more information

Democratic Headquarters

1311 Sartori Ave.

Torrance, CA 90501


CDP VOTE 2010 San Gabriel Valley/La Puente
15330 Amar Rd. Suite B, La Puente, CA 91744
(626) 968-0800 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (626) 968-0800
Hours: 10am - 9pm every day

United Democratic HQ Pasadena
260 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 449-2008 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (626) 449-2008
Hours: Mon-Thur: 10am - 8:30pm | Fri: 10am - 8pm
Sat: 9am - 5pm | Sun: 12pm - 8:30pm

La Puente Satellite - Whittier
12200 E. Washington Blvd. Suite D, Whittier, CA 90606
(562) 965-9175 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (562) 965-9175
GOTV Hours: Sat/Sun: Noon - 12pm

La Puente Satellite - Baldwin Park
14180 Live Oak Ave., Suite F, Baldwin Park, CA 91706
(626) 480-8086 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (626) 480-8086
GOTV Hours: Sat/Sun: Noon - 3pm

La Puente Satellite - Claremont
520 W. First Street, Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 263-1773 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (909) 263-1773
GOTV Hours: Sat/Sun: 3pm - 8pm

OFA SoCal Headquarters (Culver City, CA)

6700 Centinela Ave.

Culver City, CA 90230


## ##


PDLA mailing list

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How soon we forget, Restoring Sanity

From: Jerry Kay
Sent: Friday, October 29, 2010 4:13 PM
Subject: Fw: How soon we forget


Sad, but true



4 Reasons Why Jon Stewart's Restoring Sanity Rally Is Great for Progressives
More than a Hollywood ploy or a field day for moderates, Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's rally offers a real shot at reframing our politics.
Given the way things have gone for progressives since the election of Barack Obama, perhaps we shouldn't be blamed for looking warily, as some do, at the spectacle that promises to fill the national Mall tomorrow at the rally hosted by Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But with any luck, it will be a eye-feast of hundreds of thousands of good-humored, well-behaved Americans, there to answer the cynicism of Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, at which the notion that the election of a black president somehow sullied the nation's dignity was dressed in sanctimony and a display of patriotism so bombastic that it was almost camp.

Yet progressives and liberals, ranging from left wing to the just left of center, have expressed a range of reservations, missing, I believe, the larger point of this rally's potential  for reordering our out-of-whack politics, if only for a moment. But if that moment lasts until the polls close on Tuesday, it will have been worth it.

I agree with Code Pink's Medea Benjamin, for instance, that Stewart has made a false equivalence between the louder voices of the left and the right, setting the right's casting of Obama as Hitler on an equal plane with complaints that George W. Bush presided over war crimes. (The latter happens to be based on the fact that crimes against innocents were committed in the prosecution of an illegal war.)

Nonetheless, there are pluses that trump any minuses in the confab that will descend upon the nation's capital tomorrow:

1. Brilliant framing: Restoring Sanity v. Keep Fear Alive - If only the White House had messaging gurus as astute as the writers on the staff of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

Jon Stewart, whose on-air character is the stand-in for ordinary citizens amazed at the absurdity of American politics first announced his part in tomorrow's big event as a rally titled "Restoring Sanity," an obvious rejoinder to the travesty that was the "Restoring Honor" event convened by Fox News host Glenn Beck in August. There's even a little inside joke in Stewart's title: Pundits who are obviously ignorant of the tenets of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program painted Beck's revival as a sort of giant A.A. meeting, although it resembled nothing of the kind. "Restoring Sanity," however, comes straight out of A.A.'s second step: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

In his parody of a right-wing talk-show host, Stephen Colbert quickly countered with his "March to Keep Fear Alive." (In fact, the "march" and the rally are a single event.) This framing pours all the recent right-wing demonstrations that have flooded the capital into the "keeping fear alive" category, while everybody else is defined as sane.

2. The inevitable aerial-view photos - In the age of Google Earth, the impact of demonstrations is told in satellite photos. What made Beck's rally so impressive was the view from above. The Stewart/Colbert rally is likely to draw at least as many people -- people who are coming to Washington to make the statement that they stand against the kind of fear-mongering that Beck represents.

One of the right's strongest strategies has been to present their mobs of angry, fearful people as representative of everyday Americans, while the traditional organizers of liberals and progressives have failed, since the close of the presidential campaign, to gather comparable crowds in support of their issues. The impact this has on the national psyche should not be dismissed.

I've heard political organizers grouse that they'd rather have people out in the field, knocking on doors, than assembling on the Mall to hear a bunch of entertainers. But the people who come to Washington tomorrow probably wouldn't be knocking on doors if there was no rally. And what these organizers fail to consider is the impact this event will make beyond the crowd that actually assembles. This gathering will be carried into millions of homes, not just via the Comedy Central coverage, but in mainstream news outlets across the nation. People who have been considering voting to be a hopeless exercise may think otherwise. They will see themselves reflected in the crowd. And the sight of hundreds of thousands gathered to counter the right-wing juggernaut at an event named "Restoring Sanity" gives hope that our politics don't need to be as crazy as they've become. And that will help get people -- sane people -- to the polls.

3. Recasting liberalism as mainstream - Everybody knows that Jon Stewart's audience is largely a liberal one. Why, then, is he describing his rally as the "Million Moderate March"? Perhaps because most Americans think of themselves as moderate.

The Guardian's Michael Tomasky has dwelt upon this question, and frets that when the liberal colors of the "moderate" crowd are shown, Fox News will have a field day with the most left-wing placards in the crowd. And no doubt they will.

But the Fox News audience is not Stewart's target: it's the millions of Americans who don't watch Fox. A show of strength on their part should give mainstream media pause before endlessly repeating right-wing memes about the Restoring Sanity gathering. Whatever liberals do or don't do, Fox News will find a way to distort either their actions or inaction. Yes, we need to be strategically smart, but hiding is not an option.

4. Energizing young people - More young people get their news from The Daily Show than from any traditional news source. And young people are the slice of the progressive coalition said to be the least likely to turn out for next week's mid-term elections. Stewart's rally, held just ahead of the election, could be the best turn-out vehicle possible for this demographic. He only needs to ask them to vote, and many who might have chosen to do something else that day could turn out. These congressional races are tight. An extra little slice of of the eligible voter pie could make a real difference in some.

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chomsky: China's Growing Independence and the New World Order

China's Growing Independence and the New World Order

By Noam Chomsky
In These Times: October 5, 2010

Chinese leaders are unlikely to be impressed by such [U.S. warnings], the
language of an imperial power desperately trying to cling to authority it no
longer has.

Of all the "threats" to world order, the most consistent is democracy,
unless it is under imperial control, and more generally, the assertion of
independence. These fears have guided imperial power throughout history.

In South America, Washington's traditional backyard, the subjects are
increasingly disobedient. Their steps toward independence advanced further
in February with the formation of the Community of Latin American and
Caribbean States, which includes all states in the hemisphere apart from the
U.S. and Canada.

For the first time since the Spanish and Portuguese conquests 500 years ago,
South America is moving toward integration, a prerequisite to independence.
It is also beginning to address the internal scandal of a continent that is
endowed with rich resources but dominated by tiny islands of wealthy elites
in a sea of misery.

Furthermore, South-South relations are developing, with China playing a
leading role, both as a consumer of raw materials and as an investor. Its
influence is growing rapidly and has surpassed the United States' in some
resource-rich countries.

More significant still are changes in Middle Eastern arena. Sixty years ago,
the influential planner A. A. Berle advised that controlling the region's
incomparable energy resources would yield "substantial control of the

Correspondingly, loss of control would threaten the project of global
dominance. By the 1970s, the major producers nationalized their hydrocarbon
reserves, but the West retained substantial influence. In 1979, Iran was
"lost" with the overthrow of the shah's dictatorship, which had been imposed
by a U.S.-U.K. military coup in 1953 to ensure that this prize would remain
in the proper hands.

By now, however, control is slipping away even among the traditional U.S.

The largest hydrocarbon reserves are in Saudi Arabia, a U.S. dependency ever
since the U.S. displaced Britain there in a mini-war conducted during World
War II. The U.S. remains by far the largest investor in Saudi Arabia and its
major trading partner, and Saudi Arabia helps support the U.S. economy via

However, more than half of Saudi oil exports now go to Asia, and its plans
for growth face east. The same may be turn out to be true of Iraq, the
country with the second-largest reserves, if it can rebuild from the massive
destruction of the murderous U.S.-U.K. sanctions and the invasion. And U.S.
policies are driving Iran, the third major producer, in the same direction.

China is now the largest importer of Middle Eastern oil and the largest
exporter to the region, replacing the United States. Trade relations are
growing fast, doubling in the past five years.

The implications for world order are significant, as is the quiet rise of
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes much of Asia but has
banned the U.S.-potentially "a new energy cartel involving both producers
and consumers," observes economist Stephen King, author of *Losing Control:
The Emerging Threats to Western Prosperity*.

In Western policy-making circles and among political commentators, 2010 is
called "the year of Iran." The Iranian threat is considered to pose the
greatest danger to world order and to be the primary focus of U.S. foreign
policy, with Europe trailing along politely as usual. It is officially
recognized that the threat is not military: Rather, it is the threat of

To maintain "stability" the U.S. has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, but
outside of Europe, few are paying attention. The nonaligned countries-most
of the world-have strongly opposed U.S. policy toward Iran for years.

Nearby Turkey and Pakistan are constructing new pipelines to Iran, and trade
is increasing. Arab public opinion is so enraged by Western policies that a
majority even favor Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

The conflict benefits China. "China's investors and traders are now filling
a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other nations, especially in
Europe, pull out," Clayton Jones reports in *The Christian Science Monitor*.
In particular, China is expanding its dominant role in Iran's energy

Washington is reacting with a touch of desperation. In August, the State
Department warned that "If China wants to do business around the world it
will also have to protect its own reputation, and if you acquire a
reputation as a country that is willing to skirt and evade international
responsibilities that will have a long-term impact . their international
responsibilities are clear"-namely, to follow U.S. orders.

Chinese leaders are unlikely to be impressed by such talk, the language of
an imperial power desperately trying to cling to authority it no longer has.
A far greater threat to imperial dominance than Iran is China's refusing to
obey orders-and indeed, as a major and growing power, dismissing them with

*This is the second of two columns by Noam Chomsky about China. In These
Times published the first, "China and the New World Order," in September.*

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What I learned at the BDS conference

From: "Sid Shniad" <>

What I learned at the BDS conference
By Aalya Ahmad: October 26, 2010

Because of my Arabic name, I am reluctant to write about Palestine. I get
afraid that my words will be too easily dismissed because of my name,
because of the racist idea that everybody with an Arabic name can only be
partisan by nature. Like everybody with a Jewish identity is presumed to be
in support of Israel, regardless of Independent Jewish
Voices<>and other groups we
don't hear about in the media because their protests go
uncovered, their letters ignored. It's another form of anti-Semitism, this
monolithic certainty, this lumping of people into political blocks for
sociopaths to play with.

I attended the BDS conference in Montreal <> this
weekend because I realized that I knew very little about this movement that
is gaining such momentum all over the world. Since the transformation of
Gaza into a gigantic prison camp and the flotilla massacre, the call to
boycott, divest from and sanction the state of Israel for its treatment of
the Palestinian people has been steadily growing. I often hear the lament
that people don't learn from history. Well, the people who support BDS
certainly did. The first wave of support for BDS came from South Africa
because South Africans know what it was like to live under apartheid
conditions and they know that a boycott campaign worked for them.

I'm old enough to remember my father explaining to me that, as a "coloured
person," certain rights would be denied to me in South Africa. I didn't
understand it then, as a little girl, and I don't understand it now. I don't
understand how anybody in the twenty-first century could attempt to justify
such practices. But I remember that song "Sun
the jubilant headlines when South African apartheid ended.

Headlines about "The Middle East" seem to create a fog of uncertainty, in
the midst of which people wander, bemused, without the kind of clarity that
allows us to confidently declare, as the anti-apartheid artists did in the
80s, "I ain't gonna play Sun City." We start worrying about one- and
two-state solutions, about a "peace process" and about dates and
technicalities: 1948? 1967? What's not going to get us into trouble, like
Libby Davis did
What won't bring a shitstorm of raving denunciations down on our
well-meaning heads? We stop listening to our consciences and start thinking
about politicians and positions. "Politics," said Orwell, is "largely the
defense of the indefensible" and nothing bears this statement out so well as
the complicity with Zionism that can be fostered in a population lost in a
fog of diffused Islamophobia and diplomatic jargon. "The Middle East is too
complex and there's too much going on. I'll let the politicians sort this
one out," we think and we look the other way.

So, what's indefensible? Among other things, I learned this weekend that
Israel has a two-tiered legal system, which allocates rights based on
identity, so, for example, it denies the right to own land to non-Jewish
people. I learned that an eleven-year-old boy was pistol-whipped to death by
an Israeli soldier, who paid for his crime with six months of community
service. I learned that the people who live in Gaza are being slowly
poisoned by water that is 90-95% contaminated by bombed sewage systems that
they are not permitted to repair. I also learned that, since 1967, even
though they don't get any labour protections such as unemployment insurance
under the two-tier system, 11% of Palestinian workers' wages have been
forcibly deducted to finance Histadrut, the Israeli labour federation that
Golda Meir described as "a great colonizing agent," which condones such
practices as painting a red X on Arab construction workers' hardhats for the
convenience of Israeli marksmen <>. I
learned that the Canadian Labour Congress invites Histadrut to its
conventions and that Conservative MPs such as Jeff Watson claim that God has
given Israel to the Jews (at least, you know, until that Rapture thing
happens and everybody in the world perishes except for Jeff Watson and his
coreligionists, and possibly his family pets and the family pets of his

I learned that we are living in the most pro-Zionist country in the world at
the time of this writing, one that is seriously debating making any
criticism of the state of Israel a hate crime punishable by the laws of this
.These tendencies go back, I learned, to Lester B. Pearson and to the
Christian Zionist movement that wanted to create a "Jewish homeland" as part
of the British empire. The fact that other people might already live in the
Jewish homeland didn't matter. We can shrug off the residential schools and
the reservations, after all, can't we? The dispossession and subjugation of
yet more brown people who inconveniently happened to be living there when
the Europeans arrived can easily be met with a "Meh." But, you know, *Avatar
* was really, really cool, eh? We've got tears to shed for big blue
fictional aliens, eh? Just don't mention those Palestinians, even
though they're losing their life-giving trees

Talk of the cruelties that are becoming more obvious for all the world to
see is getting harder to silence and shut down. The increasing momentum of
the BDS movement has created panic among Zionists, who have been wildly
flailing that "anti-Semite" paintbrush around, smearing it left and right.
These people don't want to debate facts because the facts are against them.
The facts get in the way of their opinions and their opinions are
increasingly exposing them as cowardly apologists for sociopathic regimes.
When Omar Barghouti from the BDS committee offered to debate pro-Zionists,
not one of the so-called "journalists" who hurl accusations of "Anti-Semite"
like monkeys flinging feces at the zoo was brave enough to leave the comfort
of their newspaper monologues and meet him in a public forum. When the union
I work for took a pro-BDS position, I noticed that the handful of people
rounded up to threaten and harass us preferred to remain anonymous.

In the meantime, octogenarian Holocaust survivors are supporting the
, divestments from Israeli businesses that fund the occupation are growing,
and around the world it's getting harder and harder for any of us to play
Sun City. Unlike South African apartheid, however, which saw black South
Africans as a cheap labour force to be exploited, the fundamentalist Israeli
regime has no use for the Palestinians. It wants them dead or gone. And it
wants us to shut the hell up while it kills them and drives them out. So, I
decided to write about Palestine and what I learned at the BDS conference in
the hope that others, whether or not they have Arabic names, will join the
growing numbers of us who are gaining the courage to speak out.

Aalya Ahmad's blog <>
[image: Aalya's picture] <>

Aalya Ahmad has a PhD in comparative literature, a crush on George Orwell
and a rather impressive collection of cloth bags from the various public
service unions she has worked with over the years. She writes about and
practices cultural politics, feminism and activism.
Rad-Green mailing list

George Bernard Shaw, Scheer: The High Price of Patriotism

The High Price of Patriotism

By Robert Scheer
Truthdig: 27, 2010

It's over for the U.S. in Afghanistan, but that doesn't mean the death and
destruction are about to stop. Quagmires don't just go away. However, the
signs are everywhere that the American course in that nation is doomed, that
those directing this forlorn attempt at occupation of a country that has
never tolerated occupation know there is no positive end in sight, and that
the locals from President Hamid Karzai to the competing warlords and the
Taliban are cutting their own deals on the assumption that our wishes no
longer matter.

Predictably, the U.S. media dismissed Karzai's denunciation on Monday of the
role of American mercenaries in the wanton destruction of his society.
"Karzai rails against America in a diatribe," was the way a New York Times
headline summarized his press conference, suggesting that his complaints
were nothing more than the temper tantrum of an ungrateful child.

But Karzai is right. American mercenaries are spreading mayhem across
Afghanistan thanks to enormous U.S. spending on the contractors that he has
ordered out of the country. "The money starts in the name of the private
security companies in the hallways of the U.S. government," Karzai stated in
a clear description of the modern working of our military-industrial
complex, adding: "The profits are made and arranged there . then they send
the money to kill people here. . When this money comes to Afghanistan, it
causes insecurity in Afghan homes and causes the killing of Afghan children
and causes explosions and terrorism in Afghanistan."

Our military investments recruit rather than combat terrorists, but that is
not a bad outcome if the goal is greater instability as an excuse to keep
defense spending absurdly high despite the end of the Cold War two decades
ago. Isn't that what it's all about? Our military budget, bigger than that
of the rest of the world combined and higher in real dollars that at any
time since World War II, is nothing more than a profit and jobs center for
the defense industry, which has its tentacles in every congressional
district. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were never about combating
terrorism, which is a supranational phenomena anchored in neither country.

Fighting terrorists who are armed with box cutters does not require
sophisticated weaponry, including an enormously costly drone force, but
instead effective international police work dependent on sleuths who have
mastered local customs and languages. But there's not much money to be made
off that sort of gumshoe detective work, and that's why we have two hot wars
going even though the al-Qaida enemy has left the battlefields of Iraq and

Karzai's equally forceful defense at that press conference of his right to
take money from Iran was another grievous blow to the American fantasy of
using him to remake Afghanistan over in our image. "They do give us bags of
money-yes, yes, it is done," Karzai admitted, adding the obvious: "We are
grateful to the Iranians for this. Patriotism has a price."

Patriotism is always in the eye of the beholder, so why is Karzai's
patriotism tawdrier than that of the executives of Lockheed and Boeing who
still build planes designed to evade Soviet air defenses that were never
created? Karzai is now playing the patriot who will line the pockets of his
most influential countrymen, and he has turned to another source, suspecting
that our funding might come with too many strings attached. He is proving to
be a substantial leader, corrupt as he may be, in that he is no longer
willing to play the puppet. This sort of rebellion happened before in
Vietnam when Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S.-imposed liberator, turned against us
and our CIA assassinated him. How long before Karzai meets a similar fate?

This fatal syndrome in American imperial designs is well known to Richard
Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's key civilian adviser, who played a
similar role in Vietnam. Back then, when Holbrooke was involved in the
Phoenix assassination program (he now is involved with the drone
assassinations), the reckless murder of civilians was aimed at winning their
hearts and minds. It didn't work because we destroyed too many of their
bodies in the process.

The arrogance of these adventures in nation-building represents an enduring
example of America's deeply provincial and blindingly self-centered role in
the world. That Holbrooke has learned nothing from his trail of deceit
posing as diplomacy is not so startling given the obtuse nature of the man,
but that Obama has entrusted this most critical aspect of his foreign policy
to the likes of a hack like Holbrooke is truly depressing.


From: Robert Greenfield
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 9:39 PM
Subject: George Bernard Shaw

Of all the biographies of the famous that I have perused the greatest life
story to me is that of G.B. Shaw 1856-1950.

This man used his life so well. He wooed a hundred beautiful woman. He
gave 2,000 free utterly powerful & brilliant lectures throughout London. He
wrote numerous renowned plays for the stage with remarkable utterly
brilliant & inimitable prefaces that constitute practically a literature of
their own. He wrote also for the Fabian Socialists---he literally wrote
their constitution & their regular papers on various economic & political

GBS knew the whole internal system of London---its sewers & its garbage
disposal & its plumbing & its governance-every penny spent. He knew what
everything cost throughout the whole complicated city & how efficient the
city was better than any London politician by far. The guy was a genius
beyond geniuses. He quit school at 16 & studied at The London Museum----I
believe it is the same library that nourished Karl Marx. GBS was an atheist
who knew the Bible better than any minister. And practiced a kind of
rigorous charity. He became a very rich man though he considered himself a
Communist an Atheist & a Vegetarian.

He was a champion debater & could take any opponent to pieces in front of
the microphone but what he did instead was restate his opponent's arguments
& give them such power that everybody loved to debate GBS. He refused to
make his foes look bad. Here is the mark of a Big Man. He found
Shakespeare ponderous & unnecessarily wordy as he found 19th century romance
& family absolutely unacceptable. It was a bad deal for women. Most
husbands were out cheating or drinking & absent from the hearth after a
couple years & the women had no place to go. And the women were so enamored
of the idea of family they accepted that lousy bargain. GBS said marriage &
romance are a great big lie leading to boring totally unfulfilled lives.
Women get stuck in the kitchen & are turned into robots in many instances.

As a playwright GBS met the greatest & most beautiful actresses in England &
he wooed every one of them to star in his plays. Got to know many of them
extremely well & indeed romantically. He married a wealthy woman in mid
life. And he was himself a millionaire who was constantly receiving
requests for hand-outs. GBS was as vigilant in his sending out of money &
gifts as he was in his study of the inner city of London & its various
economic castrophes. He lived to be 94. The doctors told him he could
easily make 100 if he would only eat beef once/month. GBS said the only
reason to stay alive is to be useful. And toward the end & in his 90's he
lost that sense of essential utility. So he pleasantly departed the stage.

One of my favorite Shavianisms is this: "Do not consider me an example;
take my life as a warning."

And: "Some people see things as they are and say why. I dream things that
never were and say why not."

This latter quote was used by Bobby Kennedy on the campaign trail. Bobby
also quoted Camus.

Hope you appreciate this bare sketch of George Bernard Shaw. I have left
out everythin of course. There is a great biography of Shaw by Michael
Holroyd. In fact he wrote 2 remarkable biographies. First, a magnificent
3-vol. biog of Shaw. He followed that with a new one-vol GBS that contains
all kinds of new facts. He had so much material he left a lot out of the
3-vol edition. I love both! Though the one-vol. feels somehow more cogent.

Also the conservative Catholic GK Chesterton has written a remarkable biog
of Shaw testifying to Shaw's general magnificence as a human being. It is a
very exciting biography written by one of the masters of classical 19th
century British prose.

There are others that I have looked into & almost finished. They all add
something to Shaw' amazing life. So FULL it seems it would take at least 5
people to accomplish what GBS did by himself.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Giants vs. Rangers: A World Series Beyond Blue and Red

Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 8:34 AM
Subject: [E of S] Giants vs. Rangers: A World Series Beyond Blue and Red

Giants vs. Rangers: A World Series Beyond Red and Blue

By Dave Zirin: October 27, 2010

       There is a tempting political spin to impose on the 2010 World Series: it's the ultimate red-state/blue-state showdown. In one corner, you have the Giants from the People's Republic of San Francisco and across the ring you have the Texas Rangers, hailing from a state that repeats "Don't Tread on Me" like a religious catechism. The Giants best player is two-time Cy Young award winner and long-haired midnight-toker Tim Lincecum. Their top reliever, Brian Wilson, sports a Mohawk, tattoos, and an epic beard that would shame a Crown Heights Chasid. In contrast, the Rangers best player, top-line starter Cliff Lee, leads the team with a style that's more Johnny Appleseed than Johnny Rotten.

Then there's the owner's box: in the Giants luxury suite, you have Bill Neukom, who made his fortune as the chief attorney for Microsoft as it grew from garage startup to leviathan of digital doom.  His team plays in a stadium, AT&T Park that much to the chagrin of Major League owners, was built with private funds.  In the other owner's box, you have former Rangers Hall of Fame pitcher and proud political conservative, Nolan Ryan. Ryan is seen on camera often this post-season with his dear friend, former Rangers "owner" George W. Bush.

Thanks to Bush, the Rangers play in a park that represents perhaps the pinnacle of tax-payer-gouging, public stadium financing. Two decades – not to mention two wars, a gutted economy, and a wrecked New Orleans, ago  - Bush and his team of owners threatened to uproot the team if the city of Arlington did not foot the bill for a new park. The local government caved and in the fall of 1990, forked over the entire near- $200 million tab.  (One wonders if the bankers who received the largesse of Bush's Wall Street bailout were taking notes.) 

But the scam did not end there. As part of the deal, the Rangers' ownership was given acres of free land around the stadium to create a dingy amusement park for the kiddies. But mist of the land-gift were left to sit, increasing exponentially in value after the stadium's construction. To make this happen, the late Democratic Governor Ann Richards established the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority (ASFDA), which was granted the extraordinary power to seize privately owned land deemed necessary for stadium construction. Then Bush sold his stake in the team to billionaire and friend of the family Tom Hicks in 1998 for $15 million, making a 2,400% profit on his original $600,000 (borrowed) investment.

 Seems pretty cut and dry for the political sports fan: you either line up with San Fran or Bush Country, right? But, even though it would be great to see Dubya cry if the Rangers lose, people should resist easy political labels for either team. The field manager for the Rangers is Ron Washington, who could become the second African American manager in baseball history to lead a time to World Series victory. Washington must be as surprised as anyone to be in the World Series, let alone employed. To the credit of the Rangers organization, they kept Washington at the helm even after the 57-year-old manager failed a drug test during the 2009 season and then admitted this Spring that his drug of choice was cocaine. The Rangers are also led by another player many teams would thrown overboard: probable 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton who has been on and off the substance-abuse wagon so many times, his blood might be 90 proof.

Also, for those sneering at the red-state owners box in Texas, remember that the Giants ownership team is hardly the Grateful Dead. In addition to being the consigliere for the Microsoft Mafia, Bill Neukom's team has gobbled $80 million in public financing for park upgrades and untold millions in tax exemptions. They also have a 66 year lease on the primo 12.5 acres of park real estate at a cost of just 1.2 million a year.  Then there is the Giants organization's treatment of forcibly retired home run king and suspected steroid user Barry Bonds. The reviled Bonds is still popular in the Bay and he sold out the park during the leanest years and for the franchise  No one should nominate Bonds for sainthood, but he deserved far better than to be released after leading the league in on base percentage and taking down every last picture and memento from his historic career. Bonds did make a token appearance on the field before game three of the NLCS, but maybe if he had played for Texas, they would have treated him more the way they've treated Ron Washington and Josh Hamilton: like a human being.

Far more interesting is what unites both franchises: failure. The San Francisco Giants, despite their storied history have never won a World Series since their 1958 move from New York to the Bay and the Texas Rangers before this season, had never even won a playoff series. Both teams will be playing with a desperate ardor in front of tortured crowds conditioned for failure. Nope, there are no easy labels in this series: just two teams looking to make their mark on baseball history and two fan bases desperately waiting to exhale. I can't wait.


[Dave Zirin is the author of "Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love" (Scribner) Receive his column every week by emailing Contact him at]



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Rich: What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?

What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?

"The Obama administration seems not to have a prosecutorial gene. It's shy
about calling a fraud a fraud when it occurs in high finance/"

"Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it's
pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious
voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our
economic pyramid - the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other
special interests underwriting its own candidates."

By Frank Rich
NY Times Op-Ed: October 24, 2010

PRESIDENT Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for
averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus
spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of
these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the
projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even
going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News
poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave
95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.

The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments
are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment,
the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the
White House's surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the
most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe
in is even more ominous. It's the country's fatalistic sense that the
stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in
place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.

No matter how much Obama talks about his "tough" new financial regulatory
reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe
been real change. That's not just because so many have lost their jobs,
their savings and their homes. It's also because so many know that the
loftiest perpetrators of this national devastation got get-out-of-jail-free
cards, that too-big-to-fail banks have grown bigger and that the rich are
still the only Americans getting richer.

This intractable status quo is being rubbed in our faces daily during the
pre-election sprint by revelations of the latest banking industry outrage,
its disregard for the rule of law as it cut every corner to process an
avalanche of foreclosures. Clearly, these financial institutions have
learned nothing in the few years since their contempt for fiscal and legal
niceties led them to peddle these predatory mortgages (and the reckless
financial "products" concocted from them) in the first place. And why should
they have learned anything? They've often been rewarded, not punished, for
bad behavior.

The latest example is Angelo Mozilo, the former chief executive of
Countrywide and the godfather of subprime mortgages. On the eve of his trial
10 days ago, he settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges for $67.5
million, $20 million of which will be footed by what remains of Countrywide
in its present iteration at Bank of America. Even if he paid the whole sum
himself, it would still be a small fraction of the $521 million he collected
in compensation as he pursued his gambling spree from 2000 until 2008.

A particularly egregious chunk of that take was the $140 million he pocketed
by dumping Countrywide shares in 2006-7. It was a chapter right out of
Kenneth Lay's Enron playbook: Mozilo reassured shareholders that all was
peachy even as his private e-mail was awash in panic over the "toxic"
mortgages bringing Countrywide (and the country) to ruin. Lay, at least, was
convicted by a jury and destined to decades in the slammer before his death.

The much acclaimed new documentary about the global economic meltdown,
"Inside Job," has it right. As its narrator, Matt Damon, intones, our
country has been robbed by insiders who "destroyed their own companies and
plunged the world into crisis" - and then "walked away from the wreckage
with their fortunes intact." These insiders include Dick Fuld and four other
executives at Lehman Brothers who "got to keep all the money" (more than $1
billion) after Lehman went bankrupt. And of course Robert Rubin, who
encouraged Citigroup to step up its investment in high-risk bets like
Countrywide's mortgage-backed securities. Rubin, now back as a rainmaker on
Wall Street, collected more than $115million in compensation during roughly
the same period Mozilo "earned" his half a billion. Citi, which required a
$45 billion taxpayers' bailout, recently secured its own slap-on-the-wrist
S.E.C. settlement - at $75 million, less than Rubin's earnings and less than
its 2003 penalty ($101 million) for its role in hiding Enron profits.

It should pain the White House that its departing economic guru, the Rubin
protégé Lawrence Summers, is an even bigger heavy in "Inside Job" than in
the hit movie of election season, "The Social Network." Summers - like the
former Goldman Sachs chief executive and Bush Treasury secretary Hank
Paulson - is portrayed as just the latest in a procession of policy makers
who keep rotating in and out of government and the financial industry,
almost always to that industry's advantage. As the star economist Nouriel
Roubini tells the filmmaker, Charles Ferguson, the financial sector on Wall
Street has "step by step captured the political system" on "the Democratic
and the Republican side" alike. But it would be wrong to single out Summers
or any individual official for the Obama administration's image of being lax
in pursuing finance's bad actors. This tone is set at the top.

Asked in "Inside Job" why there's been no systematic investigation of the
2008 crash, Roubini answers: "Because then you'd find the culprits." With
the aid of the "Manhattan Madam" (and current stunt New York gubernatorial
candidate) Kristin Davis, the film also asks why federal prosecutors who
were "perfectly happy to use Eliot Spitzer's personal vices to force him to
resign in 2008" have not used rampant sex-and-drug trade on Wall Street as a
tool for flipping witnesses to pursue the culprits behind the financial
crimes that devastated the nation.

The Obama administration seems not to have a prosecutorial gene. It's shy
about calling a fraud a fraud when it occurs in high finance. This caution
was exemplified most recently by the secretary of housing and urban
development, Shaun Donovan, whose response to the public outcry over the
banks' foreclosure shenanigans was to take to The Huffington Post last
weekend. "The notion that many of the very same institutions that helped
cause this housing crisis may well be making it worse is not only
frustrating - it's shameful," he wrote.

Well, yes! Obama couldn't have said it more eloquently himself. But with all
due respect to Secretary Donovan's blogging finesse, he wasn't promising
action. He was just stroking the liberal base while the administration once
again punted. In our new banking scandal, as in those before it, attorneys
general in the states, where many pension funds were decimated by Wall
Street Ponzi schemes, are pursuing the crimes Washington has not. The
largest bill of reparations paid out by Bank of America for Countrywide's
deceptive mortgage practices - $8.4 billion - was to settle a suit by 11
state attorneys general on the warpath.

Since Obama has neither aggressively pursued the crash's con men nor
compellingly explained how they gamed the system, he sometimes looks as if
he's fronting for the industry even if he's not. Voters are not only failing
to give the White House credit for its economic successes but finding it
guilty of transgressions it didn't commit. The opposition is more than happy
to pump up that confusion. When Mitch McConnell appeared on ABC's "This
Week" last month, he typically railed against the "extreme" government of
"the last year and a half," citing its takeover of banks as his first
example. That this was utter fiction - the takeover took place two years
ago, before Obama was president, with McConnell voting for it - went
unchallenged by his questioner, Christiane Amanpour, and probably by many
viewers inured to this big lie.

The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections.
It's the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality
bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal
consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we
reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we "lure
our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase" for Wall
Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last
weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads
to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life - from more
bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether
road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support.

Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it's
pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious
voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our
economic pyramid - the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other
special interests underwriting its own candidates. Should those forces
prevail, an America that still hasn't remotely recovered from the worst hard
times in 70 years will end up handing over even more power to those who
greased the skids.

We can blame much of this turn of events on the deep pockets of oil
billionaires like the Koch brothers and on the Supreme Court's Citizens
United decision, which freed corporations to try to buy any election they
choose. But the Obama White House is hardly innocent. Its failure to hold
the bust's malefactors accountable has helped turn what should have been a
clear-cut choice on Nov. 2 into a blurry contest between the party of big
corporations and the party of business as usual.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cockburn: Echoes of El Salvador in tales of US-approved death squads, Fri. Nite Videos


Echoes of El Salvador in tales of US-approved death squads


By Patrick Cockburn

The IndependentUK: October 23, 2010

The Iraqi documents released by Wikileaks produce significantly more detail on US actions in the war in Iraq , but do they produce anything that we did not know already?

The Pentagon will huff and puff with rage as it did over the Wikileaks release of US military documents about Afghanistan, when it took the contradictory position that there was little new in what has been leaked, but important sources of intelligence had somehow still been compromised.

Related articles

The leaks are important because they prove much of what was previously only suspected but never admitted by the US army or explained in detail. It was obvious from 2004 that US forces almost always ignored cases of torture by Iraqi government forces, but this is now shown to have been official policy. Of particular interest to Iraqis, when Wikileaks releases the rest of its hoard of documents, will be to see if there is any sign of how far US forces were involved in death squad activities from 2004.

From the summer of 2004 Iraq slipped into a sectarian civil war of great savagery as al-Qa'ida launched attacks on the Shia who increasingly dominated the government. From late in 2004 Interior Ministry troops trained by the Americans were taking part in savage raids on Sunni or suspected Baathist districts. People prominent in Saddam Hussein's regime were arrested and disappeared for few days until their tortured bodies were dumped beside the roads.

Iraqi leaders whispered that the Americans were involved in the training of what were in fact death squads in official guise. It was said that US actions were modelled on counter-insurgency methods pioneered in El Salvador by US-trained Salvadoran government units.

It was no secret that torture of prisoners had become the norm in Iraqi government prisons as it established its own security services from 2004. Men who were clearly the victims of torture were often put on television where they would confess to murder, torture and rape. But after a time it was noticed that many of those whom they claimed to have killed were still alive.

The Sunni community at this time were terrified of mass sweeps by the US forces, sometimes accompanied by Iraqi government units, in which all young men of military age were arrested. Tribal elders would often rush to the American to demand that the prisoners not be handed over to the Iraqi army or police who were likely to torture or murder them. The power drill was a favourite measure of torture. It is clear that the US military knew all about this.

From the end of 2007 the war began to change as the Americans began to appear as the defenders of the Sunni community. The US military offensives against al-Qa'ida and the Mehdi Army Shiah militia were accompanied by a rash of assassinations. Again it would be interesting to know more detail about how far the US military was involved in these killings, particularly against the followers of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

There were a series of interconnected conflicts going on in in Iraq during the American occupation in 2004-9. One that the seldom made headlines involved a series of tit-for-tat killings and kidnappings against each other by the Americans and Iranians. This reached its peak in 2007 when the Americans tried to seize Iranian intelligence leaders visiting Kurdistan and US soldiers were killed in an abortive raid in Kerbala. The capture of British naval personnel by Iranian Revolutionary Guards may have been part of this shadowy conflict.

Information about Iraq leaked, like that about Afghanistan, should come with a health warning. The Americans were often told by Iraqis, low level agents or high level ministers, what they supposed the Americans wanted to hear, notably that an Iranian hand was behind many anti-American actions. Much of this is likely to be nonsense.

Information given to the Americans by Afghan intelligence implicating Pakistan and ISI military intelligence in aiding the Taliban was obviously concocted. It is not that the Pakistan military do not help the Taliban but they do so subtly and with care to make sure their involvement cannot be traced. Iraqi intelligence passed to the Americans is likely to be equally biased.


From: "Portside Moderator" <moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG>

1 Vote No on California Prop 23 ('Yellow Rose of Texas')
2 Documentary Preview: The Assassination of Dr. Tiller
3 Austerity: France, England, and if the Tea Party Has Its Way...
4 The Real Tea Party Pledge
5 10 Funniest Videos Mocking Glenn Beck

Vote No on California Prop 23

Credits: Laurie Lewis: lead vocal, guitar Tom Rozum:
tango banjo, chorus Suzy Thompson: fiddle, chorus
Andrew Conklin: bass, chorus John Hanes: drum, chorus
Cary Sheldon: chorus Bryan Matheson: chorus. Recorded
at Skyline Studios, Oakland. Engineers: Bryan Matheson,
MJ Fisher, Ryan Young. Lyrics: Nancy Schimmel & Bonnie
Lockhart. The original song "Yellow Rose of Texas" was
written circa 1836. The composer is unknown. Video: Bob

To learn more visit
October 13, 2010


Documentary Preview: The Assassination of Dr. Tiller

Rachel Maddow shares a clip of the MSNBC documentary
"The Assassination of Dr. Tiller," set to air at 9 p.m.
ET on Monday, October 25.
October 20, 2010


Austerity Measures: First France, Then England... And
If the GOP/Tea Party Has Its Way, the US Is Next

by The Dylan Ratigan Show - MSNBC
October 22, 2010


The Real Tea Party Pledge

American services are on the chopping block.
October 08, 2010


10 Funniest Videos Mocking Glenn Beck

From Jon Stewart to South Park, from SNL to Donald
Duck, there are dozens of great satirical skits of
Glenn Beck on the internet. Perhaps it's because he is
so easy to mock, perhaps it is his extremist, paranoid
rants, perhaps he is just a lying douchenozzle.
Whatever the case, here are the Top 10 on the entire
October 18, 2010


Portside aims to provide material of interest
to people on the left that will help them to
interpret the world and to change it.

Submit via email:
Search the archives:



California Propositions 20 and 27, Krugman: Falling Into the Chasm

Hi. I got this after prep for sending you yesterday's ballot rec's. I just
read it and it makes a strong case for voting NO, not yes for Prop. 27.
PDLA, please respond.

California Propositions 20 and 27: A Peek At The Gerrymandering Soul Of
Congressman Howard Berman's Filthy Rich Handmaiden, Haim Saban

By Hillel Aron
LA Weekly, Tue., Oct. 19 2010

Mastering the Politburo

Haim Saban is different than you and me: he's the 287th richest man in the
world, worth $3.3 billion.

The Egyptian Jew, who looks an Ian McShane/Silvio Berlusconi cross, created
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. And he's the biggest giver to Proposition
27, the measure to keep California gerrymandered to within an inch of its
life and protect those delicate incumbents.

As the New Yorker details, Saban is cozy with the Democratic Party and the
Clintons (not the Obamas). He's "a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel."
He says things like: "You tell that fucking guy to stay out of my face! I
was driving a fucking tank in the Israeli Army ... when he was watching

But what do California's fixed elections, so grotesque that they've inspired
comparisons to the Politburo, have to do with Israel?

And why did Saban, who in 2010 is rabidly for gerrymandering, give $200,000
in 2008 to Prop. 11, which California voters approved to end gerrymandering?

Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee writes:

Saban would not discuss his donations, referring questions to a spokesman,
who said in an e-mail that Saban concluded that Proposition 11 "hasn't
worked out as intended" and didn't want to extend the concept of a citizens'
commission to congressional boundaries, as envisioned by Munger and his new

But wait. Prop. 11 is only in the baby stages of being implemented. The
citizens who will sit on the commission to redraw legislative districts in
California -- a power that state legislators fought hard not to let the
citizens have -- haven't even been selected yet.

Morain notes that Saban's fat $2 million donation to overturn the brand-new
law, "isn't what it seems."

Morain is a bit too kind.

Saban was against gerrymandering before he was for it. Why the flip-flop?

Perhaps it does all lead to Israel. It may be that Saban is protecting
Howard Berman, the California congressman and chairman of the House
Committee on Foreign Affairs, who's a staunch Israel supporter.

Via Politico

Berman's district is shaped nothing like his head
Citizens on the Prop. 11 commission, who will have communities of interest
in mind when they draw up voting districts, won't give damn about preserving
the strange "Man in Scarf Wearing a Pilgrim Hat" shape of Berman's 28th
District of California.

If Proposition 20 is approved November 2 instead of Proposition 27 -- truly
a Haim Saban nightmare -- it would give citizens the power to draw up not
just California state legislative districts, but Congressional districts

Unlike pols, citizens would respect true boundaries like neighborhood
borders and the Hollywood Hills.

Berman could very easily find that the mostly San Fernando Valley district
he thinks of as "his" no longer contains enough of "his" voters.

Remember, the 20th Congressional District was specially drawn, using
computer programs to stack it with people who vote for Berman, to make sure
Berman gets elected time after time.

That's gerrymandering.

Saban gave Berman $4,800 - half for the primary, half for the general
election - the max.

So maybe the billionaire is trying to make sure his personal politician gets
reelected into perpetuity.

Or maybe Saban is cozying up to Nancy Pelosi, in an attempt to buy as much
influence as $2 million can. Pelosi is way, way into gerrymandering, as are
almost all of the top-most political incumbents in the U.S. Congress.

For further reading on the gerrymandering schemes in California, please
check out:
-- California's Proposition 20 and 27: Gerrymandering and Election-Fixing
and Why You Should Give a Rip
-- 'Gerrymanding' Documentary is Going to Inflict Damage on Proposition 27.
Too Bad for Fat Cats Who Want to Fix Elections


Falling Into the Chasm

By Paul Krugman
NY Times Op-Ed: October 25, 2010

This is what happens when you need to leap over an economic chasm - but
either can't or won't jump far enough, so that you only get part of the way

If Democrats do as badly as expected in next week's elections, pundits will
rush to interpret the results as a referendum on ideology. President Obama
moved too far to the left, most will say, even though his actual program - a
health care plan very similar to past Republican proposals, a fiscal
stimulus that consisted mainly of tax cuts, help for the unemployed and aid
to hard-pressed states - was more conservative than his election platform.

A few commentators will point out, with much more justice, that Mr. Obama
never made a full-throated case for progressive policies, that he
consistently stepped on his own message, that he was so worried about making
bankers nervous that he ended up ceding populist anger to the right.

But the truth is that if the economic situation were better - if
unemployment had fallen substantially over the past year - we wouldn't be
having this discussion. We would, instead, be talking about modest
Democratic losses, no more than is usual in midterm elections.

The real story of this election, then, is that of an economic policy that
failed to deliver. Why? Because it was greatly inadequate to the task.

When Mr. Obama took office, he inherited an economy in dire straits - more
dire, it seems, than he or his top economic advisers realized. They knew
that America was in the midst of a severe financial crisis. But they don't
seem to have taken on board the lesson of history, which is that major
financial crises are normally followed by a protracted period of very high

If you look back now at the economic forecast originally used to justify the
Obama economic plan, what's striking is that forecast's optimism about the
economy's ability to heal itself. Even without their plan, Obama economists
predicted, the unemployment rate would peak at 9 percent, then fall rapidly.
Fiscal stimulus was needed only to mitigate the worst - as an "insurance
package against catastrophic failure," as Lawrence Summers, later the
administration's top economist, reportedly said in a memo to the

But economies that have experienced a severe financial crisis generally
heal quickly. From the Panic of 1893, to the Swedish crisis of 1992, to
Japan's lost decade, financial crises have consistently been followed by
long periods of economic distress. And that has been true even when, as in
the case of Sweden, the government moved quickly and decisively to fix the
banking system.

To avoid this fate, America needed a much stronger program than what it
actually got - a modest rise in federal spending that was barely enough to
offset cutbacks at the state and local level. This isn't 20-20 hindsight:
the inadequacy of the stimulus was obvious from the beginning.

Could the administration have gotten a bigger stimulus through Congress?
Even if it couldn't, would it have been better off making the case for a
bigger plan, rather than pretending that what it got was just right? We'll
never know.

What we do know is that the inadequacy of the stimulus has been a political
catastrophe. Yes, things are better than they would have been without the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: the unemployment rate would probably
be close to 12 percent right now if the administration hadn't passed its
plan. But voters respond to facts, not counterfactuals, and the perception
is that the administration's policies have failed.

The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect
be voting to make things even worse.

The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis,
except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning
political strategy. Tax cuts and deregulation are still the alpha and omega
of their economic vision.

And if they take one or both houses of Congress, complete policy paralysis -
which will mean, among other things, a cutoff of desperately needed aid to
the unemployed and a freeze on further help for state and local
governments - is a given. The only question is whether we'll have political
chaos as well, with Republicans' shutting down the government at some point
over the next two years. And the odds are that we will.

Is there any hope for a better outcome? Maybe, just maybe, voters will have
second thoughts about handing power back to the people who got us into this
mess, and a weaker-than-expected Republican showing at the polls will give
Mr. Obama a second chance to turn the economy around.

But right now it looks as if the too-cautious attempt to jump across that
economic chasm has fallen short - and we're about to hit rock bottom.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Avnery: *Weimar in Jerusalem*


*Weimar in Jerusalem*

Uri Avnery

IN BERLIN, an exhibition entitled "Hitler and the Germans" has just opened.
It examines the factors that caused the German people to bring Adolf Hitler
to power and follow him to the very end.

I am too busy with the problems of Israeli democracy to fly to Berlin. Pity.
Because since childhood, precisely this question has been troubling me. How
did it happen that a civilized nation, which saw itself as the "people of
poets and thinkers", followed this man, much as the children of Hamelin
followed the pied piper to their doom.

This troubles me not only as a historical phenomenon, but as a warning for
the future. If this happened to the Germans, can it happen to any people?
Can it happen here?

As a 9-year old boy I was an eye-witness to the collapse of German democracy
and the ascent of the Nazis to power. The pictures are engraved in my memory
– the election campaigns following each other, the uniforms in the street,
the debates around the table, the teacher who greeted us for the first time
with "Heil Hitler". I resurrected these memories in a book I wrote (in
Hebrew) during the Eichmann trial, and which ended with a chapter entitled:
"Can it happen here?" I am returning to them these days, as I write my

I don't know if the Berlin exhibition tries to answer these questions.
Perhaps not. Even now, 77 years later, there is no final answer to the
question: Why did the German republic collapse?

This is an all-important question, because now people in Israel are asking,
with growing concern: Is the Israeli republic collapsing?

FOR THE first time, this question is being asked in all seriousness.
Throughout the years, we were careful not to mention the word Fascism in
public discourse. It raises memories which are too monstrous. Now this taboo
has been broken.

Yitzhak Herzog, the Minister of Welfare in the Netanyahu government, a
member of the Labor party, the grandson of a Chief Rabbi and the son of a
President, said a few days ago that "fascism is touching the margins of our
society". He was wrong: fascism is not only touching the margins, it is
touching the government in which he is serving, and the Knesset, of which he
is a member.

Not a day – quite literally – passes without a group of Knesset members
tabling a new racist bill. The country is still divided by the amendment to
the law of citizenship, which will compel applicants to swear allegiance to
"Israel as a Jewish and democratic state". Now the ministers are discussing
whether this will be demanded only of non-Jews (which doesn't sound nice) or
of Jews, too – as if this would change the racist content one bit.

This week, a new bill was tabled. It would prohibit non-citizens from acting
as tourist guides in East Jerusalem. Non-citizens in this case means Arabs.
Because, when East Jerusalem was annexed by force to Israel after the 1967
war, its Arab inhabitants were not granted citizenship. They were accorded
only the status of "permanent residents", as if they were recent newcomers
and not scions of families that have lived in the city for centuries.

The bill is intended to deprive Arab Jerusalemites of the right to serve as
tourist guides at their holy places in their city, since they are apt to
deviate from the official propaganda line. Shocking? Incredible? Not in the
eyes of the proponents, which include members of the Kadima party. A Knesset
member of the Meretz party also signed, but retracted, claiming that he was

This proposal comes after dozens of bills of this kind have been tabled
recently, and before dozens of others which are already on their way. The
Knesset members act like sharks in a feeding frenzy. There is a wild
competition between them to see who can devise the most racist bill.

It pays. After each such bill, the initiators are invited to TV studios to
"explain" their purpose. Their pictures appear in the papers. For obscure
MKs, whose names we have never heard of, that poses an irresistible
temptation. The media are collaborating.

THIS IS not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. All over Europe and America,
overt fascists are raising their heads. The purveyors of hate, who until now
have been spreading their poison at the margins of the political system, are
now arriving at the center.

In almost every country there are demagogues who build their careers on
incitement against the weak and helpless, who advocate the expulsion of
"foreigners" and the persecution of minorities. In the past they were easy
to dismiss, as was Hitler at the beginning of his career. Now they must be
taken seriously.

Only a few years ago, the world was shocked when Jörg Haider's party was
allowed Into the Austrian government coalition. Haider praised Hitler's
achievements. The Israeli government furiously recalled its ambassador to
Vienna. Now the new Dutch government is dependent on the support of a
declared racist, and fascist parties achieve impressive election gains in
many countries. The "Tea Party" movement, which is blooming in the US, has
some clearly fascist aspects. One of its candidates likes to go around
wearing the uniform of the murderous Nazi Waffen-SS.

So we are in good company. We are no worse than the others. If they can do
it, why not us?

BUT THERE is a big difference: Israel is not in the same situation as
Holland or Sweden. Unlike these countries, Israel's very existence is
threatened by fascism. It can lead our state to destruction.

Years ago. I believed that two miracles had occurred in Israel: the revival
of Hebrew language and Israeli democracy.

The resurrection of a "dead" language has never succeeded anywhere else.
Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, once asked contemptuously: "Will
people ask for a railway ticket in Hebrew?" (He wanted us to speak German.)
Today, the Hebrew language fares better than the Israeli railway.

But Israeli democracy is an even greater miracle. It did not grow from
below, as in Europe. The Jewish people never had a democracy. The Jewish
religion, like almost all religions, is totalitarian. The immigrants who
flowed to the country had also never experienced democracy before. They came
from Czarist or Bolshevik Russia, from Josef Pilsudski's authoritarian
Poland, from tyrannical Morocco and Iraq. Only an infinitesimal part came
from democratic countries. And yet: from its earliest beginnings, the
Zionist movement fostered an exemplary democracy in its ranks, and the State
of Israel continued this tradition (with one limitation: a full democracy
for Jews, a limited democracy for Arab citizens.)

I was always worried that this democracy was hanging by a thin thread, that
we must be on our guard every hour, every minute. Now it is facing an
unprecedented test.

THE GERMAN republic carried the name of Weimar, the town where the
constituent assembly adopted its constitution after World War I. The Weimar
of Bach and Goethe was one of the cradles of German culture.

It was a shiningly democratic constitution. Under its wings, Germany saw an
unprecedented intellectual and artistic bloom. So why did the republic

Generally, two causes are identified: humiliation and unemployment. When the
republic was still in its infancy, it was forced to sign the Versailles
peace treaty with the victors of the First World War, a treaty that was but
a humiliating act of surrender. When the republic fell behind with the
payment of the huge indemnities levied on it, the French army invaded the
industrial heartland of Germany in 1923, precipitating a galloping inflation
– a trauma Germany has not recovered from to this day.

When the world economic crisis broke out in 1929, the German economy broke
down. Millions of despairing unemployed sank into abject poverty and cried
out for salvation. Hitler promised to wipe out both the humiliation of
defeat and the unemployment, and fulfilled both promises: he gave work to
the unemployed in the new arms industry and in public works, like the new
autobahns, in preparation for war.

And there was a third reason for the collapse of the republic: the growing
apathy of the democratic public. The political system of the republic just
became loathsome. While the people were sinking into misery, the politicians
went on playing their games. The public was longing for a strong leader, to
impose order. The Nazis did not overthrow the republic. The republic
imploded, the Nazis only filled the void.

IN ISRAEL there is no economic crisis. On the contrary, the economy is
flourishing. Israel did not sign any humiliating agreement, like the Treaty
of Versailles. On the contrary, it won all its wars. True, our fascists
speak about the "Oslo criminals", much as Hitler ranted against the
"November criminals", but the Oslo agreement was the opposite of the
Versailles treaty, which was signed in November 1919.

If so, what does the profound crisis of Israeli society stem from? What
causes millions of citizens to regard with complete apathy the doings of
their leaders, contenting themselves with shaking their heads in front of
the TV set? What causes them to ignore what's happening in the occupied
territories, half an hour's drive from their home? Why do so many declare
that they do not listen to the news or read newspapers anymore? What is the
origin of the depression and despair, which leave open the road to fascism?

The state has arrived at a crossroads: peace or eternal war. Peace means the
foundation of the Palestinian state and the evacuation of the settlements.
But the genetic code of the Zionist movement is pushing towards the
annexation of the whole of the historical country up to the Jordan River,
and – directly or indirectly - the transfer of the Arab population. The
majority of the people is evading a decision by claiming that "we have no
partner for peace" anyhow. We are condemned to eternal war.

Democracy is suffering from a growing paralysis, because the different
sectors of the people live in different worlds. The secular, the
national-religious and the orthodox receive totally different educations.
Common ground between them is shrinking. Other rifts are gaping between the
old Ashkenazi community, the Oriental Jews, the immigrants from the former
Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and the Arab citizens, whose separation from the
rest is increasing all the time.

For the second time in my life, I may have to witness the collapse of a
republic. But that is not predestined. Israel is not the goose-stepping
Germany of those days, 2010 is not 1933. The Israeli society can yet sober
up in time and mobilize the democratic forces within itself.

But for that to happen, it must awake from the coma, understand what is
happening and where it is leading to, protest and struggle by all available
means (as long as that is still possible), in order to arrest the fascist
wave that is threatening to engulf us.

Uri Avnery's Column
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