Friday, February 20, 2009

an inspirational story even for us cynical radicals

Gary told me he got all choked up while reading this story about two high school basketball teams who rallied around one player in a time of personal crisis, even sacrificing scoring opportunities.

Our sporting culture is a reflection of a lot of different social, material and ideological forces. The ability to transcend competitive pressure is truly a sign of moral, and therefore social, advancement. This reminds me of the oft-told stories of the Christmas Truce and other situations of informal armistice (meaning an armistice not imposed by high command; a fascinating and heartening possibility for humanity).

Both of these high school hoops teams are to be commended. Heck yeah, good job.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Really inspiring news about the Hadash Party in Israel:
The Arab-Jewish front's new campaign slogan is "Jews and Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies. Hadash -- the Opposite of Lieberman."

Well-done, comrades!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What I learned today

Carrie Menkel-Meadow tells Parents' Circle that the new, younger generations of Arabs and Israelis, as well as those who have suffered, could find a way to end the conflict.

Obama has appointed stumbling bumblef**ks to "reform" social security.

Michael Phelps is getting screwed by our tired insistence on prohibition.

Sarah Palin is a tax cheat.

White supremacists continue to recruit in the military.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fears that Obama will turn his back on the people who elected him

Among the left journals in the intertubes, Alternet has, to their credit I think, really turned up the heat on Obama's economic "centrism." Centrism, you might be aware, is really free-market dogmatism in drag, and it's become a stealth rhetorical term for those who are opposed to spending money to help the poor and unemployed, while supporting bailouts on the rich. Centrism also means not holding the Bush administration accountable for crimes against the state and humanity. Obama has appeared, at least to his supporters on the left, to be extremely eager to please the very forces who have (a) treated him with contempt bordering on racism, and (b) caused, with their greed and excess (at least) the disaster befalling America's working class today.

But back to Alternet. In this morning's edition alone, there are four pieces that can reasonably be taken as attacks, direct criticisms, critical analyses, of Obama: There's Obama being duped about coal. There's Obama being accused of refusing to get his hands dirty while Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner drove the markets off the cliff with his stupid plan. And, a rather disturbing cover story wondering whether Obama will fight against attempts to loot Social Security to pay for bank bailouts. "Behind closed doors," writes William Greider, "powerful interests" are trying to convince the President to do just that. But if that's not enough in a single daily edition, Glenn Greenwald explains why liberals risk losing their power if they remain beholden to a leader (perhaps any leader, perhaps this particular one).

Of course, this is all a good thing, whether or not the President does what so many people on the left are justifiably suspicious he will do. Of course, it's equally important to form political strategies that make Presidential politics irrelevant, but pointing out how the savior is not really a savior is a vital part of that process, particularly now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"But I am the eternal optimist..."

Howard Kurtz complained that Obama's long-winded press conference left no time for analysis from network news. Are you sure that's a bad thing, Howard? Oh, you are? Well of course you are.
As always, Patrick Martin brings it home:
He was silent on the enormous growth of social inequality—the chasm between the super-rich and the great mass of the working population, which is wider than it has ever been in America. This social gulf is both a symptom of the financial disaster and the principal obstacle to any effort to resolve it, since any serious program to address the economic emergency involves making inroads into the property interests of the billionaires.

If there is a more astute observation about the Stimpotent Plan (yes I just made that up), I'd like to hear it. Readers?

Monday, February 09, 2009

the real enemies

Reading Marsha B. Cohen's piece on what Obama should say to Iran, I thought: You know, of course some people in Iran want to destroy the U.S.A. (and the feeling is mutual among some American thugs). But there are also considerable people in the U.S.A. who want to destroy the U.S.A., and others content to watch it burn if they can get away with a few extra bucks. American CEOs have done more damage to our Republic than every anti-American Islamic fundamentalist in the world combined. I say Obama should talk with Ahmadinejad without preconditions, while locking up parachute-riding CEOs at a Gitmo-style compound in Saipan.

Friday, February 06, 2009

justice FAIL

CIA officers who participated in illegal interrogations will not be prosecuted by the Obama administration. That's the word of Leon Panetta, Obama's likely CIA director. Listen not only to the information from this Associated (dissociated) Press report, but also to some of the language AP uses and does not use.
The Obama administration will not prosecute CIA officers who participated in harsh interrogations that critics say crossed the line into torture, CIA Director-nominee Leon Panetta said Friday. ...It was the clearest statement yet on what Panetta and other Democratic officials had only strongly suggested: CIA officers who acted on legal orders from the Bush administration would not be held responsible for those policies. On Thursday, he told senators that the Obama administration had no intention of seeking prosecutions for that reason.

The illegality has been established. The interrogators were competent people capable of understanding the law, and are co-culpible alongside the walking excrement that occupied the White House from 2001 to 2009. These are not grunts like Lynndie England.
"It was my opinion we just can't operate if people feel even if they are following the legal opinions of the Justice Department" they could be in danger of prosecution...Panetta demurred on saying whether the Obama administration would take legal action against those who authorized or wrote the legal opinions that, for a time, set an extremely high legal bar for an action to constitute torture.
...Panetta told the committee that the Obama administration will continue to hand foreign detainees over to other countries for questioning, but only if it is confident the prisoners will not be tortured in the process...some former prisoners subjected to the process — known as "extraordinary rendition" — during the Bush administration's anti-terror war contend they were tortured. Proving that in court has proven difficult, as evidence they are trying to use has been protected by the president's state secret privilege.

Translation: The game has been stacked against justice (little j not DOJ) all along, and that's not going to change. Maybe Obama even means it when he says (in essence) "it won't happen again," but even if that were true, it means, on balance, a net negative for justice if nobody is held accountable. But it's more than just that. Democrats tend to be very pro-international law and pro-human rights legal regimes when they are academics, law professors, and "outsider" activists. When they end up in the White House, a lot of that ends up getting tossed out of the car somewhere between Ohio and Virginia. Obama should just be honest and say that his election has not changed, will not change, the fact that if you're powerful enough you can hurt and kill people. He should just tell people to suck it up.

One complicating factor in Panetta's evasion: If, as Brad Friedman points out, Eric Holder's answers to questions about waterboarding commit him to prosecuting Bush administration officials, then Holder and Panetta are somewhat at odds, although I am pretty sure how that will be resolved.