Monday, November 30, 2009

That "Bitch of a War"

As President Obama prepares to announce what will most likely be an increase in troops in Afghanistan Tuesday night in the midst of a troubling economy, high unemployment and other domestic issues, I could not help but be reminded of the regretful lament of a previous leader, whose blind loyalty to a war ruined his more lofty ideals...

"I knew from the start that I was bound to be crucifed either way I moved. If I left the woman I really loved-the Great Society-in order to get involved in that bitch of a war on the other side of the world, then I would lose everything at home. All my programs…. But if I left that war and let the Communists take over South Vietnam, then I would be seen as a coward and my nation would be seen as an appeaser and we would both find it impossible to accomplish anything for anybody anywhere on the entire globe."--LBJ on Vietnam

Tragic. Michael Moore has more to say...

An Open Letter to President Obama From Michael Moore

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.

Full letter here.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Disgruntled in Obamaland

All is not well in Obamaland. Nevermind the tea-baggers, FOX News and the continuing sad comedy that is the GOP, there is dissatisfaction growing in the base. Just over a year ago, it seemed that Obama and the forces he had marshalled were on top of the world. There was energy. There was hope. There was relief that the last 8 years had finally come to and end. But today, for many who worked hardest towards that goal, there's a growing apathy. As the base watches a watered-down health care bill wind its way slowly through Congress; as they watch many of the architects of the current financial crisis give away billions to bankers; as they watch a rise in unemployment; as they watch a President seemingly intent on continuing an unpopular war in Afghanistan, there is a feeling of discontent. There is still hope. Those who voted for this president are still happy with the ballot they cast. Many of these same people however, just aren't inspired. Of course, it's only been a year in--and most are waiting to see what comes next.

For many, Robert Scheer's question hits home: "Who Are You and What Have You Done With the Community Organizer We Elected President?"

Read more after the jump.

Who Are You and What Have You Done With the Community Organizer We Elected President?

Posted on Nov 18, 2009

By Robert Scheer

What’s up with Barack Obama? The candidate for change once promised to take on the powerful banking interests but is now doing their bidding. Finally, a leading Democrat, in this case Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, has a good idea for monitoring the Wall Street fat cats who all but destroyed the American economy, and the Obama administration condemns it.

Dodd wants to take supervisory power from the Federal Reserve, which is controlled by the banks it pretends to monitor, and put it in the hands of a new independent agency. That makes sense given the Fed’s abject failure to properly monitor the financial sector over the past decade as that industry got drunk on greed. As Dodd’s spokeswoman Kirstin Brost put it: “The Federal Reserve flat out failed at supervising the largest, most complex firms.” But White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee frets that taking power from the Fed would cause financial industry “nervousness.” Isn’t that the whole point of government regulation—to make the bandits look over their shoulders before they launch their next destructive scam?

Not so in the view of Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin, who blithely insists that the Fed “is the best agency equipped for the task of supervising the largest, most complex firms,” despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary. There is some irony in the fact that the largest of those complex firms got to be “too big to fail” because of the radical deregulatory legislation that Wolin drafted during his previous incarnation as the Treasury Department’s general counsel in the Clinton administration. Wolin is now deputy to Timothy Geithner, who as head of the New York Fed in the five years preceding the banking meltdown looked the other way as the disaster began to unfold.

Why is Barack Obama allowing these retreads from the Clinton era who went on to great riches on Wall Street to set economic policy for his administration?

Read more here.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hunger in the Land of Plenty

Something to think about this Thanksgiving- Over 49 million Americans, one in seven, struggled to find enough to eat last year, according to a report released by the US Department of Agriculture last week. It seems mind-boggling, that in a country where obesity is a crisis, and so much food is wasted daily, the US faces a problem of hunger. How is it possible? Is it because fifty per cent of all food ready for harvest in the United States never gets eaten? Is it the rise of food prices, which only show a capacity to grow? Is it because we spend so much money on weapons and wars, we can't spend what is needed to ensure our citizens don't go to bed hungry at night? Whatever the case, if this dismal trend continues, it may not be too long before the US sees itself wracked by the same food riots much of the poorer world saw in 2008.

Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System, discusses the matter on Democracy Now!:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Regreening Africa

No matter what happens at Copenhagen or beyond, the world is locked in to decades of temperature rise and the associated climate impacts: deeper droughts, fiercer floods, more pests. How populations in the global South adapt to these changes will help decide whether millions of people live or die.

The tragic irony about global climate change, is that it will affect the poorest nations of the global south the hardest. This, despite the fact that these nations have contributed very little to the crisis. No wonder earlier this month African delegates threatened to upset climate talks in Barcelona if the US and rich countries don't live up to their committments and accept responsibility for global climate change. Activist Naomi Klein has even gone as far to declare that rich nations owe a debt to the poor nations of the world for the global climate crisis. In the midst of these developments, Mark Hertsgaard examines how many who live on the continent are sowing the seeds--literally--towards countering the damaging environmental effects of this looming man-made disaster.

Regreening Africa

By Mark Hertsgaard

November 19, 2009

The sun is setting on another scorching hot day in the western African nation of Burkina Faso. But here on the farm of Yacouba Sawadogo, the air is noticeably cooler. A hatchet slung over his shoulder, the gray-bearded farmer strides through his woods and fields with the easy grace of a much younger man. "Climate change is a subject I feel I have something to say about," he says in his tribal language, Moré, which he delivers in a deep, unhurried rumble. Though he cannot read or write, Sawadogo is a pioneer of a tree-based approach to farming that has transformed the western Sahel in recent years, while providing one of the most hopeful examples on earth of how even very poor people can adapt to the ravages of climate change.

Read full article here.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Blackwater - Karachi Bureau

What could be worse than covert US directed drone missile attacks that kill civilians in aggressive acts against a sovereign nation? How about if those attacks are not just being carried out by the US military, but private mercenary contractors--the same ones whose operatives massacred Iraqis and is run by a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. According to independent journalist Jeremy Scahill:

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

If this is accurate (Scahill admits to having only one anonymous source), it's rather chilling.

Read the full story here.

Rachel Maddow interviewing Jeremy Scahill on Nov 12, 2009 about some of Blackwater's more unsavory acts.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Palin 2012. We Were Warned...


Watch CBS Videos Online


Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Trolling for Assassins"

How crazy does crazy have to get before it all gets dangerous?

Rachel Maddow talks to former Evangelist Frank Schaeffer about the growing anti-Obama extremism and the violent tendencies of Christian fundamentalists.

Earlier interviews with Frank Schaeffer:

Sept. 2009

Aug. 2009

Jun. 2009


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

American Zombie

Monsters of disaster are special kinds of divine warning. They are harbingers of things we do not want to face, of catastrophes, and we fear they will bring such events upon us by coming to us.--Jane Anna Gordon and Lewis R. Gordon

Nothing I love more than any attempt to weave speculative fiction into politics. In this case, Henry Giroux ponders on the relationship between our love affair for vampires, zombies and the often dismal state of our political atmosphere.

At present, Americans are fascinated by a particular kind of monstrosity, by vampires and zombies condemned to live an eternity by feeding off the souls of the living. The preoccupation with such parasitic relations speaks uncannily to the threat most Americans perceive from the shameless blood lust of contemporary captains of industry, which Matt Taibbi, a writer for Rolling Stone, has aptly described as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." [3] Media culture, as the enormous popularity of the Twilight franchise and HBO's True Blood reveal, is nonetheless enchanted by this seductive force of such omnipotent beings. More frightening, however, than the danger posed by these creatures is the coming revolution enacted by the hordes of the unthinking, caught in the spell of voodoo economics and compelled to acts of obscene violence and mayhem. They are the living dead, whose contagion threatens the very life force of the nation.

Ooooh! Doesn't it make your hair stand on end? Read the rest of Giroux's article at Truthout here.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed aka Voldemort

Listen to much of the fearmongering from the GOP and the usual right-wing suspects, and you might think the Attorney General of the US had decided to hold the trial of Voldemort, Dr. Doom or Magneto in NYC. Any moment hordes of Deatheaters, giant robots or the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants might descend on the city and do untold damage. The likes of Rudy Guiliani went onto FOX and bemoaned the decision, claiming President Obama had conceded to terrorists. A GOP Congressman even warned NYC's mayor might have his children kidnapped! Look closer however, and you realize it's none of those otherworldly supervillains. Rather it's the accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad--the same guy in that unflattering photo above who was waterboarded a stunning 183 times, in one month! So the question is, are the GOP and right-wing just shamelessly using this event to sow political discord, or are they really in the end just frightened children jumping at their own shadows?

John Stewart has some ideas. See below...

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Morpheus Returns...

Young Billy wished me away to the cornfield sometime back in June...

...what'd I miss?