Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kentucky Green Party Forms

(reposted from

From Joseph Gerth at the Louisville Courier-Journal, interesting and encouraging news about the newest state Green Party:

Tired of Democrats and Republicans who don’t speak to the issues or solve the problems important to them, about 35 people gathered Saturday in Anderson County to form the Green Party of Kentucky...
Geoff Young, a retired state government worker, said he decided last fall that there needed to be a Green Party chapter in Kentucky. “People in Kentucky are becoming desperate for a real alternative to the two established parties,” he said. “Many people, including myself, feel that the two established parties don’t offer enough new ideas, enough ideas that work and do not propose solutions that will actually address Kentucky’s most serious problems.” The party supports policies that would improve the environment and is opposed to war, Young said.

The article also details the challenges faced by third parties in Kentucky, challenges we are familiar with here at as part of our context2012 effort to publicize and offer a voice to similar alternative political organizations. Ballot Access News reports that: "In Kentucky, if a group polls 2% of the vote for President, it is a qualified minor party for the next four years, and can nominate by convention, with no petitioning needed. The only parties that have attained that status, in the last 80 years, are the Reform Party 1996-2000, the Anderson Coalition 1980-1984, and the American Party 1968-1972." This statistic seems more reasonable than the apparently misreported 20% figure quoted by both the Courier-Journal article and Green Party Watch.

Kentucky is certainly a state needing some fresh political voices. The state's Democratic Governor, Steve Beshear, seems to be in bed with big coal. Like much of the rest of the country, unemployment in the state has increased not just dramatically, but critically. And, of course, Kentucky gave us Rand Paul. But oppressive conditions give rise to solidarity, and closed political doors in one house may well inspire hard-working activists to build a new and better house. Good luck, Kentucky Greens!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How bad is Tolkien, really?

I don't endorse this assessment, but I find it hilariously provocative:
Elf-besotted fans aside, why shouldn't Tolkien be granted admission to the literary pantheon? Well, for one thing, his detractors argue, his prose is unbearably archaic. "Sometimes, reading Tolkien, I am reminded of the Book of Mormon," writes [Harold] Bloom. Tolkien's verse--which litters the text of The Lord of the Rings--is generally accepted to be even worse.
--Chris Mooney, "Kicking the Hobbit."

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Residents - Perfect Love

"There's something I must tell you. There's something I must say. The only really perfect love. Is one that gets away."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

cover lover: Jenny Owens Youngs & co. --> New Order

Fantastic interpretation of one of my favorite songs of all time.

cover lover: TMBG --> Chumbawamba

Two things about this cover: First, I wish TMBG had dug a little deeper and discovered some Chumba songs really worth disseminating into popular consciousness--like anything on Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records or even WYSIWYG

Second, though, even with their limited political consciousness, I think John and John get several things right in their "Tubthumping" cover even without overt awareness of it: the communal nature of the song, the distorted social values that accompany pub-hopping (Linnell distorts the audio during the drinking verses) and, musically speaking, a sense of the compartmentalized stories simultaneously playing out in the song. All in all, a decent cover.

They Might Be Giants covers Chumbawamba

Sunday, July 03, 2011

the story remains the same if you'd take a look

Spot on vocals, appreciative crowd, great song. Sigh.

Calling BS on Obama on Libya

I think Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi is a sick joke of a leader--or at least wasted potential; perhaps he had a streak of anti-imperialism in him at one time before he learned to be an opportunist, but no true progressive would ever do what he's done to his own people, no way and no how. Cindy Sheehan and I went back and forth on this in a rather intense moment during my last interview with her (my fault Cindy), and I've even been critical of what I see as Hugo Chavez's Gaddafi-esque posturing. Maybe I'm a purist, a kind of moral Trotskyist. Whatever, I have no sympathy for the besieged Libyan leader.

But I agree 100% with Cynthia McKinney's assessment of the U.S.-NATO mission in Libya. It's illegal, immoral, stupid, ill-timed, ill-planned, one-dimensional, ignorant, clumsy, undemocratic, terribly wasteful, brutal, dishonest, hypocritical, and imperialist. It's absurd.

From her speech:
At a time when the American people have been asked to tighten their belts, teachers are receiving pink slips, the vital statistics of the American people reveal a health care crisis in the making, and the U.S. government is in serious threat of default, our President and Congress have decided that a new war, this time against the people of Libya, is appropriate. This comes at a time when the U.S., by one estimate, spends approximately $3 billion per week for war against Iraq and Afghanistan.  The President and Congress continue to fund the war against Libya despite the fact that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the U.S. had no strategic interest in Libya; and despite the fact that the Senate Chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence admits that the U.S. really does not know who the "rebels" are; while the rebels themselves, according to a Telegraph report of 25 March 2011, admit that Al Qaeda elements are among their ranks.  So while the apparatus of our government has been used for over ten years to inform the American people and the global community that Al Qaeda is an enemy of freedom-loving people all over the world, our President chooses to ally our military with none other than Al Qaeda elements in Libya and other people whom U.S. intelligence say they do not know.
Additionally, U.S. Admiral Locklear admitted to a Member of Congress that one of NATO's missions was to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi.  And, indeed, NATO bombs have killed Qaddafi's son and three grandchildren, just as US bombs in 1986 killed his daughter.  NATO bombs just recently killed the grandchildren of one of Qaddafi's associates in a targeted assassination attempt. Targeted assassination is not within the scope of the United Nations Security Council Resolution and targeted assassination is against U.S. law, international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.  Targeted assassination is also a crime.  We certainly cannot encourage others to abide by the law when we so openly break it.
While in Libya, I witnessed NATO's targeting of civilians:  NATO bombs and missiles landed in residential neighborhoods, hit schools, exploded near hospitals, destroyed parts of the public broadcasting infrastructure, and narrowly missed killing students at Al Fateh University.  When civilians are targeted in war, or "low kinetic" activities, crimes are committed.
NATO practices in Libya are exactly like Israel's practices in Gaza:  fishermen are killed as they go about their fishing business, a naval blockade allows arms to flow to NATO's Libyan allies, but stops food, fuel, and medicine from entering non-NATO ally-held areas.  The entire population suffers as a result.  Collective punishment is illegal when Israel practices it against the people of Gaza and collective punishment is illegal when NATO practices it.
NATO and hyperbolic press accounts have introduced a kind of race hatred that the Libyan people have been trying hard to erase.  Approximately 50% of Libya looks like me.  Innocent darker skinned Libyans have been targeted, tortured, harassed, and killed.
The people of Libya have the right to self-determination.  They have a right to "resource nationalism."  They have a right to live in peace.  They have a right to determine their future and they need not exercise their rights underneath the shock and awe of NATO bombs and missiles.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Politics of Genocide: Ann Garrison on the Shared Sacrifice podcast

Ann Garrison

Genocide--it's an especially powerful term, it's an unstable term, and what it stands for is relatively rare, but it's a terrifying rarity that implicates humanity, human nature if you will.  Not surprisingly, the meaning of the term, and particularly its application in policymaking, is a site of struggle among various sections of the ruling class--and among those who advocate on behalf of victims of mass murders and systemic elimination campaigns. The invocation of "genocide" as a political tool bears only a nominal relationship to what's actually happening, however awful that is.

Our guest tomorrow has been covering and is in constant correspondence with people "on the ground"--the working class and alternative political activists in Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, the Congo, in her work as a journalist. Ann Garrison has been focusing on war and resource struggles in Africa for several years, and her work has appeared in the San Francisco Examiner and a slew of other digital and offline publications--and she's sat in plusher interview seats than we offer. But we're pleased to have her back for the third time on tomorrow's podcast.