Friday, January 30, 2009

Latest Language Problem 

Is there some written or unwritten rule that the more economic shit hits the fan, the more every single elected official is obliged to mix, belabor, flog, abuse, render, interrogate, and otherwise torture every possible metaphor?  

I know that kind of shit is standard in public "speech," but lately I feel like I hear entire speeches by various politicians that consist of only tortured metaphors.

Today, Mayor Bloomberg said, I believe, that "you can only squeeze so much blood from a stone."

Can you, really?

Maybe Obama inadvertently started this.  It's rhetoric gone wildly awry.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weird shit! 

There have been some interesting breaches in what John at TR calls "the reality obstruction field" covering Israel/Palestine.

First, there was the report on 60 Minutes about the intentionally brutal and larcenous effects of the "settlement" regime in the West Bank. This report, which I didn't see, was said by the terminally cynical and always angry Asad Abu'Khalil (the Angry Arab) to be the "most courageous" piece of U.S. journalism he had ever seen on the occupation. It in fact had a dramatic effect on my mom, who has always been relentlessly "pro-Israel." John provides the video of the 60 Minutes report.

Second, today at Davos there was an "incident" between the Turkish PM Erdogan and the Liebermanesque Israeli president, Shimon Peres. There was a panel involving these two dudes, along with Ban-Ki Moon and the Arab league secretary Amr Moussa. The NY Times report says that for much of the session there was "lively discussion" of Gaza. But this in itself would not have been newsworthy, because a "discussion" involving Moon and Moussa would never have broken the public anger/truth taboo that surrounds Gaza. These men, like Abu Mazen and Mubarak, etc., are part of the basic status quo and are heavily invested in the maintenance of appearances (especially at a place like Davos).

But apparently Erdogan -- and note that Turkey, not an Arab country, has been a real ally of Israel for a long time -- would have none of it:

Mr. Erdogan apparently became incensed after the moderator curtailed his response to remarks by Mr. Peres on the recent Israeli military campaign. The panel was running late, and Mr. Peres was to have had the last word, participants said.

Panel discussions at Davos are restricted to one hour, but Mr. Erdogan insisted on responding to Mr. Peres. Red-faced, and with one hand grasping the arm of the moderator, the columnist David Ignatius of The Washington Post, Mr. Erdogan turned to the Israeli president.

“Mr. Peres, you are older than me,” he said. “Your voice comes out in a very high tone. And the high tone of your voice has to do with a guilty conscience. My voice, however, will not come out in the same tone.”

Resisting efforts by Mr. Ignatius to end the session, Mr. Erdogan continued, saying to Mr. Peres, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”

Eventually, the prime minister gathered up his papers and departed, saying, “And so Davos is over for me from now on.”

Mr. Peres pointed at the departing Mr. Erdogan and said Turkey would have reacted the same way had rockets been falling on Istanbul, participants said.

Mr. Peres called Mr. Erdogan five minutes later to apologize for any misunderstanding, saying that his words had not been directed at the prime minister personally, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.

In a news conference immediately after the panel discussion, Mr. Erdogan said he was particularly upset with Mr. Ignatius, who he said had failed to direct a balanced and impartial panel.

By all accounts, the discussion of the Gaza offensive was lively, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations and Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary general, joining Mr. Peres and Mr. Erdogan. Participants said Mr. Peres was mostly alone in defending Israel’s role in Gaza, and for that reason he was given the final 25 minutes to speak. Earlier, Mr. Erdogan spoke for 12 minutes about the Palestinians’ sufferings.

Although Mr. Erdogan has strongly criticized Israel’s Gaza offensive, his country and Israel have long enjoyed close diplomatic relations. With its strong relations with the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has played a growing role mediating among Israel, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians.

Fuck that shitbag Ignatius!

Anyway -- perhaps this sort of thing indicates that a "tipping point" (sorry) has been reached and that there might be a chance for some sort of resolution of the horror in Israel/Palestine -- a resolution that would, of course, be terribly unfair to the Palestinians, but might be tolerable for them, at least insofar as it would alleviate some of the suffering that they have been undergoing for so long?

On the other hand, this may all be irrelevant, as the shitty stimulus plan being shoved through Congress right now is not likely to stave off the total conflagration and incineration of the global economy and international system.



Greece, Italy, Iceland and now...

Bloomberg business news reported that France’s rail network, airports and public schools were disrupted today as the country’s eight biggest labor unions called for a one-day general strike.

In what is turning into the largest such action since President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected in May 2007, the unions are demanding that the government do more to counter rising unemployment and falling purchasing power as France enters its first recession in 16 years. The eight unions represent the bulk of France’s 1.9 million-strong unionized workforce.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

time to pony up 

Anyone that truly cares about American politics should immediately donate to BJ's Defense Fund.

still fiddling 

Not dead yet:

President Barack Obama is coming to the Capitol this afternoon to curry favor with congressional Republicans. But it appears GOP leaders have already made up their minds to oppose his $825 billion stimulus plan.

Honestly, can anyone explain to me the point, the purpose, the value of Obama's bipartisanship fetish? I've never understood it, and have never heard a persuasive explanation for it.

Fuck these people. Bury them. Now is the time. It's been a long time comin'. &c.


Al G. makes some good points about the worthiness of Obama style bipartisanship.



A new UN report has revealed major US cities, including New York, Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans, have levels of economic inequality that rival cities in Africa. The [Organisation for] Economic Co-operation and Development found the US had the highest inequality and poverty after Mexico and Turkey, and the gap has increased rapidly since 2000.

An amazing snapshot of the devolution:

Detroit real estate agent Ian Mason has sold homes for $1.

When I asked him to check the listings for other properties at that price, he found four more.

He then took me to a white, clapboard-sided house that his company, Bearing Group Real Estate Brokerage, has listed.

"If you want this house, you can have it," he said. "I'll just give it to you."

"I'm not allowed to accept anything of value from a source," I told him.

"Who said I was giving you anything of value?" he replied.

Earlier in the day, I'd previewed the North American International Auto Show, where the car of the year was a Hyundai. A Hyundai Genesis, to be precise, with an MSRP of $37,250. Here, even a Kia or a Pontiac listed for $16,000.

By contrast, the median price of a home sold in Detroit last month was $7,500, according to Realcomp, a Farmington Hills, Mich., multiple-listing service, down 50 percent from last year.

Mason counted 1,228 homes listed for under $10,000, 209 of which were under $1,000.

Just found this one too from Michigan:

A 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home just days after the municipal power company restricted his use of electricity because of unpaid bills, officials said.

more like this, please 

CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago police are trying to figure out how a 14-year-old boy duped them into thinking he was an officer.

The teen walked into a police station Sunday and managed to get an assignment patrolling in a squad car for five hours before somebody figured out he's a kid.



JHD writes:

... what would a non-military, non-imperial, non-destabilizing solution to the "regional problem" of training camps persisting in this region, which is essentially autonomous from the Pakistani government, look like?

Well, I don't think there's an American alive who knows what to do about Pakistan. Although lobbing bombs at Muslims before the bodies are even cold in Gaza isn't gonna win hearts and minds.

I'd say as a start, pace Chomsky, the best way to reduce terrorism is to stop participating in it. So in addition to rolling back Bush policy on torture, the preventive war doctrine should also be rolled back and publicly repudiated. Clandestine bombing of sovereign territory is part of this doctrine. Imperial prerogatives should be abolished. The US must obey international law and repudiate exceptionalism.

Second, some serious arm-twisting should happen to resolve the India/Pakistan problem preferably under the aegis of the UN. This would free the Pakistani military to extend its monopoly of violence over its own territory and free up economic resources to actually raise quality of life and deprive rebels of community support.

Third, aid and development programs should be funded with the same goal.

Fourth, get the Palestinians their state. I'm not sure where I stand on two-state vs. one-state, but the occupation needs to end. More than anything else this would persuade the Muslim world that the pretty words directed toward them in the inaugural speech were sincere and that cooperation was a real possibility.

Fifth, put economic and political pressure on Arab regimes to democratize.

Sixth, denuclearize the globe. Not just halt proliferation, but abolish nuclear weapons. Jonathan Schell has some excellent writings and ideas about how to do this. It is not impossible.

Without popular support radicals become impotent. Sure there would still be some residual terror attacks in the interim, but as a rule the best way to stop people from fighting you is to take your boot off their necks and make sure they have something, a job, a house, a car, a family of non-murdered relatives, that they don’t want to lose.

OR you could just get the fuck out entirely and engage in non-coercive bilateral relationships with existing and emerging governments and pay reparations to the societies you've particularly destroyed. Or don't engage with their governments at all if they're too ideologically offensive. The US isn't bound by any rule to prop up the Pakistani government or solve all the problems in the Middle East or be Team America World Police. It is bound by law and morality to stop creating problems and killing and oppressing people. As bin Laden said, they're not attacking Sweden.

IF US elites actually believed the terror threat was so grave, then they'd actually be willing to mobilize public and international opinion to support a force that would actually put boots on the ground and be “precise” about fighting militant groups. Of course this would be costly in soldiers' lives, and you'd have to kill everyone in the zone, but if the threat is really that severe and existential then that should be an acceptable cost. The fact that they're not willing to do this tells you a lot about how grave they consider the threat of terrorism.

The fact is, they simply don’t care about it. It is useful to them and they’re basically safe from it. So you get bomb theater which everyone knows does nothing toward its stated goals and only makes it worse.


Well, I was wrong again! According to Article 2, Section 6 of the US Constitution the US Gov't is in fact obligated to form a "Teame America Planetarie Constabulary".

My bad. I retract all ideas above.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Rapid degeneration:

"In addition to many others already known to be among those Mr. Blagojevich had considered for the job, he said for the first time on Monday that he had, at one point, pondered asking Oprah Winfrey to take the post."

One year after the death of George Habash 

The Angry Arab, a year ago:

George Habash was the antithesis of Yasser Arafat: he was honest, while Arafat was dishonest; consistent when Arafat was inconsistent; principled, while Arafat was shifty; transparent, while Arafat was deceptive; sincere, while Arafat was fake; dignified while Arafat was clownish; modest, while Arafat was arrogant; tolerant of dissent, while Arafat was autocratic, and on and on.

George Habash embodied an era that extended from the Nakba, or mass expulsions of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, until the ending of the first phase of the Lebanese civil war in 1976, when the decline of the Left, and the launching of Sadatism began. Up until that time, when a deep ideological transformation took place in the Arab world, Habash was a major actor on the Arab political stage. He was feared by Arab regimes, and respected and loved in the refugee camps....

If there is a world revolutionary symbol for the second half of the 20th century, it should be George Habash. He may not be widely known in 2008, but anybody who read a newspaper prior to the rise of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, when Islamism eclipsed the Arab Left, would know him....

It is often said that Habash's "Christianity" -- as if he was religious -- was the only reason why he was not the leader of the Palestinian national movement, instead of Arafat. I never agreed with the view. Habash's sincerity, honesty and integrity were the reason why he did not lead the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), while Arafat's "skills" kept him in power for all those decades....

The PFLP argued that the liberation of Palestine would be impossible without the liberation of Arab countries from the regimes imposed by the West and Israel. Looking to Vietnam, Habash called for Arab "Hanois," and stated that the liberation of Palestine passed through every Arab capital....

I last saw Habash a few years ago in Damascus, after his retirement. It was very sad for me because I had to compare the last image with the first image when I first met him as a high school student in 1977. His revolutionary impulse and his passions had not waned, but the empty office spoke volumes. The PFLP was almost dead, and Habash was politically irrelevant. I shared with him some of my criticisms of the Popular Front's long experience, and typically, he was open-minded and very democratic. I was bothered that he seemed too resigned to the rise of the Islamists (Hamas and Hizballah). In my judgment he was too uncritically supportive of both. "We have tried, so let them now try," he would say, "It is their turn." I was hoping to hear words regarding the revival of the Left but I did not.

More here. The contours of the conflict have been consistent, but they are becoming more and more and clear, and rigid: it is the U.S., Israel, and the corrupt Arab regimes, versus the actual Arab peoples, who are represented first and foremost by the Palestinians. First, it was the pan-Arab communist Left that attached itself to revolutionary sentiment; after Sadat and Arafat, et al., it is Islamism. In the aftermath of the Gaza terrorist war and with the rise of Obama, the conflict is entering a new phase. One thing Obama ought to know is that the Arab people are more behind the Palestinians than ever, just as they are more than ever aware of a U.S.-Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian-Jordanian conspiracy against them.

well, that didn't take long 

Ah, well thank god he bombed someone before the first week was over. No one's gonna accuse him of being asleep at the kid-killing switch!

And crickets continue to chirp at the major libblogs. Well, except for a pro-kid-killing diary on Kos. Charming. Although Maddow and FDL do offer up some criticism.

Juan Cole offers his warning, and Raimondo discusses the Gitmo for Terra trade that BO has made with the base.

Sadness. Granted, he's said he'd be attacking Pakistan all along, but you'd think he'd have at least had a phone chat with Zardari first. Just, y'know, for shits and giggles. The condition being that IF Pakistan didn't do anything about it, THEN he'd attack being changed to simply ATTACK! Ah, change.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In case anyone missed this 

h/t Fixin's

Bush Dies Peacefully In His Sleep
JANUARY 20, 2009 | ISSUE 45•04

WASHINGTON—George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States of America, passed away painlessly in his sleep Monday night, White House sources confirmed. The 62-year-old Bush was reportedly discovered lying unresponsive in his bed by first lady Laura Bush, a gentle smile still on his lips. "It was as though he knew it was his time to go," said longtime family physician Dr. Harold Ditmas, who pronounced the president dead of natural causes at 7:24 a.m. Plans for Bush's funeral have been postponed indefinitely following an unexpected incident in which the president's corpse was sucked through an Air Force One jet engine.


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