Archive for February, 2010

Stolen Elections

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

In 2000, the Republicans stole the election, and the U.S. taxpayers rolled over.

In 2009, Ahmadinejad stole the election, and the Iranian citizens took to the streets, some giving their lives to the cause of a free and honest election:

And the U.S. government tells its taxpayers that they are going to teach the Middle East about democracy.

This is not just the difference between payers and doers.  U.S. taxpayers, who are so fond of calling themselves “Americans,” as if the entire hemisphere were not, in fact, America, are gutless, soulless, sexless, mindless consumers — contented cows giving milk to their moneyed class.

High School Confidential (1958)

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

With Russ Tamblyn and Mamie van Doren:

And here they are, passing out:

Unacceptable to Israel (How About to You?)

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

IPS: What about longer-term strategic issues that may not be getting enough attention?

Chas Freeeman: One is very apposite today, and that is the future of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency. At Bretton Woods, the dollar became the global reserve currency, backed by gold. A quarter century later, Nixon eliminated the gold backing for our currency.

Dollar hegemony has been central to our ability to basically go off the tracks fiscally and financially here. It has enabled us to avoid addressing all sorts of problems with which we’re now afflicted, and it has enabled us to avoid having financial discipline being imposed on us of the sort we have insisted be imposed on every other country under IMF (International Monetary Fund) guidelines.

The role of the dollar as a universal currency for reserve and trade settlement purposes is absolutely central to our international power and reach. Furthermore, we have used the fact that the dollar is an extension of our sovereignty to impose unilateral sanctions all over the place and to manipulate the global banking sector to enforce our policies, even when those policies – say, with respect to Iran – are not supported by others.

So we have a big stake in this, and when we get the dollar into trouble, as we have done, this is very, very fundamental. We now have China, Russia, Brazil, India, South Korea, at least, and very likely others, calling for the gradual elimination of the dollar as a reserve currency and its replacement by stages with something else – in the case of the Chinese proposal, with special drawing rights under the IMF.

I’ve seen this coming for well over a year, and have been talking about it. It’s now upon us, and it is not a problem you can send the fleet to solve. In the end, if you create a situation where people don’t want dollars, there’s nothing you can do about that. So I think this is a strategic issue.

Interview

A Comment on the Movies

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

I’m speaking of the morality play of the Jesuits, not the morality play on the style of Everyman, which is the British morality play in Gothic form, before the Renaissance. I see it in the dark grey of Germany, Holland, more or less of the Breughel period. Musically, I can only point to Carmina Burana, which comes from the same time. Now, in the telling of a story in films, the director is more or less obliged to stylize characters as characters are stylized in artwork in the Church of Notre Dame or the Gothic churches of England. You have only a short time to tell a story, and therefore — I’m now going from one theory to another, so don’t misunderstand me — you must have two sides, as in the commedia dell’arte, and later seen in our great Western successes as: the man with the white hat, the man with the black hat. You have the wonderful chance — which no theatre ever had — to create the background against which your characters tell a story, in a stylized form. If you take today, for instance, Z [1969; Costa-Gavras] — in it there is the highest form of stylization; the director created a Greek chorus with the blue-steel helmets of the police, and this becomes a theme in his film. It reminds you of the Eumenides — of the great classical Greek tragedy. You look at that picture, and whenever danger comes and whenever brutality forces you, these blue-helmeted figures take the whole screen.

— Edgar G. Ulmer
Interview with Peter Bogdanovich
Who the Devil Made It

Personally, I doubt there’s a director working in Hollywood today who would understand anything Ulmer is talking about. Ulmer was a Czech, a European who immigrated to the United States. Along with many other Europeans who fled the Nazis or came for the money, he created the so-called “American” movie.

Now, we have what Sarah Palin might call Real Americans making the American movie. The American movie is now mainly concerned with comic books.  As a college rommate of mine once observed, the only Real American art form is the skyscraper.

How Revolutions Really Begin

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Of course, if President Obama takes the radical actions necessary to spare this country from revolution — such as issuing an Executive Order or Signing Statement abrogating AGI’s contractual agreements with its criminal employees, in the name of National Security and Domestic Tranquillity, of course — then revolution will not occur. Franklin Roosevelt took such steps in the 1930s, and thus prevented revolution in his time.

Barring this, here’s a likely scenario, involving white middle-class businesspeople.

John Q. Taxpayer — that’s his self-description, and not what I call citizens — finds himself unemployed and unable to find re-employment.

He exhausts his meagre unemployment “benefits,” and, unable to pay his many overdue bills, finds his home under foreclosure.  His home is also home to his wife and children, and none of them have any place to go.  The grandparents all live in those “retirement” places to which Americans consign the elderly, paid for by Social Security [sic] and not an option for John Q. and the Taxpayer family.

The Taxpayers, in fact, have now become, in the words of American business, the Losers.

Desperate and without help, the Loser family stays in their home, hoping for a miracle.  Instead of this miracle, they find deputy sheriffs on their doorstep, come to evict them and seize their belongings for auction to recompense the mortgage company, that is, the Winner “family of businesses.”

Then, Catch-22 rears its absurd and gruesome head:  John Q. is a Real American who has voted Republican since Reagan at least, and maybe since Richard Nixon.  Maybe since 1960.  His bona fides as a Real American includes an assortment of guns.  Seeing armed men in forbidding sunglasses that prohibit any human eye contact, John Q. panics and, armed with, say, his Glock 9 or a 12-gauge shotgun, or his AK-47 hobbyist knockoff, he blows away the lead Deputy Dawg.

Deputy Dawg’s pack lays seige to John Q.’s house and calls for reinforcements.

But the Pack has misjudged the situation.  John Q. has neighbors.  His neighbors dont know him, actually, but they know they’re unemployed and facing eviction themselves, with consequent homelessness and even foodlessness

The neighbors are also Real Americans, that is, armed and desperate people; in some cases, heavily armed.

So the Pack, for the first time, finds itself caught in a crossfire, and the forces [n.b.] of Law [sic] and Order [sic] have a bad day at black rock.  A totally bad day, as the young would say.

This incident alone would be only, as corporate television likes to say, “a random act of senseless violence” perpetrated by “disgruntled individuals.”  You know, “loners” who didn’t “talk much” and didn’t have many “friends.”

But multiplication transforms loners into an army and senseless violence into armed insurrection; in other words, revolution.

Sooner or later, after all, John Q. Loser and the Neighbors will seize — that is, liberate and restore to their rightful owners, We the People — television and radio stations of their own, and begin broadcasting stuff you’ve never heard on the airwaves before.  At that point, when the meaning of words changes, revolution will have truly begun in the United States of America — originally, the home of the Revolution to End All Revolution.

All things must pass.

Criticism of Israel Is an Exercise of Free Speech

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Apparently both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star refused to publish the following statement. Along with many other blogs, it is published here.

Over 150 Jewish Canadians signed a statement expressing their concerns about the campaign to suppress criticism of Israel that is being carried on within Canada. The signatories include many prominent Canadians, including Ursula Franklin O.C., Anton Kuerti O.C., Naomi Klein, Dr. Gabor Mate, and professors Meyer Brownstone (recipient of Pearson Peace Medal), Natalie Zemon Davis, Michael Neumann, and Judy Rebick.

The signatories are particularly concerned that unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism deflect attention from Israel’s accountability for what many have called war crimes in Gaza. They state that B’nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have led campaigns to silence criticism of Israel on university campuses, in labor unions and in other groups. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff unquestioningly echo the views of these particular Jewish organizations.

They strongly state that they are against all expressions of racism. While firmly committed to resisting any form of prejudice against Jewish people, their statement explicitly states that these spurious allegations of anti-Semitism bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind. The statement underlines the immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people due to the severe poverty, daily humiliations, and military invasions inflicted by the State of Israel.

Statement: Jewish Canadians Concerned about Suppression of Criticism of Israel

We are Jewish Canadians concerned about all expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and social injustice. We believe that the Holocaust legacy “Never again” means never again for all peoples. It is a tragic turn of history that the State of Israel, with its ideals of democracy and its dream of being a safe haven for Jewish people, causes immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people.

We are appalled by recent attempts of prominent Jewish organizations and leading Canadian politicians to silence protest against the State of Israel. We are alarmed by the escalation of fear tactics. Charges that those organizing Israel Apartheid Week or supporting an academic boycott of Israel are anti-Semites promoting hatred bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind. We believe this serves to deflect attention from Israel’s flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.

B’nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have pressured university presidents and administrations to silence debate and discussion specifically regarding Palestine/Israel. In a full-page ad in a national newspaper, B’nai Brith urged donors to withhold funds from universities because “anti-Semitic hate fests” were being allowed on campuses. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff have echoed these arguments. While university administrators have resisted demands to shut down Israel Apartheid week, some Ontario university presidents have bowed to this disinformation campaign by suspending and fining students, confiscating posters, and infringing on free speech.

We do not believe that Israel acts in self-defense. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, receiving $3 million/day. It has the fourth strongest army in the world. Before the invasion of Gaza on 27 December 2008, Israel’s siege had already created a humanitarian catastrophe there, with severe impoverishment, malnutrition, and destroyed infrastructure. It is crucial that forums for discussion of Israel’s accountability to the international community for what many have called war crimes be allowed to proceed unrestricted by specious claims of anti-Semitism.

We recognize that anti-Semitism is a reality in Canada as elsewhere, and we are fully committed to resisting any act of hatred against Jews. At the same time, we condemn false charges of anti-Semitism against student organizations, unions, and other groups and people exercising their democratic right to freedom of speech and association regarding legitimate criticism of the State of Israel.

Signatories:

Abigail Bakan
Adam Balsam
Sharon Baltman
Julia Barnett
Lainie Basman
Jody Berland
Sam Blatt
Geri Blinik
Anita Block
Elizabeth Block
Sheila Block
Hannah Briemberg
Mark Brill
Stephen Brot
Meyer Brownstone
Eliza Burroughs
Smadar Carmon
Gyda Chud
Charles P. Cohen
Nathalie Cohen
David Copeland
Natalie Zemon Davis
Eliza Deutsch
James Deutsch
Judith Deutsch
Abbe Edelson
Jack Etkin
Elle Flanders
Danielle Frank
Ursula Franklin
Dan Freeman-Maloy
Miriam Garfinkle
Alisa Gayle
Jack Gegenberg
Mark Golden
Brenda Goldstein
Sue Goldstein
Cy Gonick
Marnina Gonick
Rachel Gotthilf
Amy Gottleib
Kevin A. Gould
Daina Green
Lisa Frances Greenspoon
Ricardo Grinspun
Cathy Gulkin
Rachel Gurofsky
Deboran Guterman
Yesse Gutman
Freda Guttman
Judy Haiven
Michael Hanna-Fein
Jean Hanson
Jan Heynen
Maria Heynen
Adam Hofmann
Jake Javanshir
Jeannie Kamins
Marylin Kanee
Howard S. Kaplan
Gilda Katz
Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta
Mira Khazzam
Bonnie Sher Klein
Mark Klein
Martin Klein
Naomi Klein
Joshua Katz-Rosene
Ryan Katz-Rosene
Judy Koch
Anton Kuerti
Jason Kunin
Aaron Lakoff
Michael Lambek
Natalie LaRoche
Richard Borshay Lee
Andy Lehrer
Gabriel Levin
Gabriel Levine
Joel Lexchin
Kim Linekin
Abby Lippman
Lee Lorch
Martin Lukacs
Audrey Macklin
Elise Maltin
Richard Marcuse
Wayne Mark
Gabor Mate
Arthur Milner
Anna Miransky
Dorit Naaman
Joanne Naiman
Neil Naiman
Michael Neumann
David-Marc Newman
David Noble
Clare O’Connor
Robin Ostow
Andre W. Payant
Jenny Peto
Simone Powell
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Fabienne Presentey
Yacov Rabkin
Diana Ralph
Naomi Rankin
Judy Rebick
Ester Reiter
Jillian Rogin
Richard Roman
Joseph Rosen
Herman Rosenfeld
Martha Roth
Marty Roth
Ruben Roth
E.Natalie Rothman
B. Sack
Ben Saifer
Miriam Sampaio
Jacob Scheir
Fred Schloessinger
Alan Sears
Shlomit Segal
Edward H. Shaffer
Noa Shaindlinger
Ray Shankman
Eva Sharell
Elliot Shek
Sid Shniad
Max Silverman
Samuel Singer
Elizabeth Solloway
Susan Starkman
Greg Starr
Jonathan Sterne
Jeremy Stolow
Rhonda Sussman
Vera Szoke
Joe Tannenbaum
Howard Tessler
Marion Traub-Werner
Ceyda Turan
Sandra Tychsen
Cheryl Wagner
Jon McPhedran Waitzer
David Wall
Naomi Binder Wall
Kathy Wazana
Karen Weisberg
Barry Weisleder
Paul Weinberg
Judith Weisman
Suzanne Weiss
Abraham Weizfeld
Ernie Yacub
B.H. Yael
Yedida Zalik
Melvin Zimmerman

My Favorite Things

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

John Coltrane with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones:



If the video does not play, click here.

Gypsy Swing

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Andreas Oberg in Portland, Oregon, 2006.



If for any reason, the video fails to play, you may view it Here.

The First Revolutionary Act

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

The first revolutionary act is to call things by their true names.  So said Rosa Luxemburg, not to mention Confucius, who referred to this act as the rectification of names.

Here goes:  the Republican strategy is to strangle any attempt to respond effectively to the “financial collapse” — true name:  depression — so that the catastrophe will grow into the worst it can be, which the Republicans will then blame on their “bipartisan” — true name, gutless — colleagues, the “Democrats” — true name, corporate tools — and thus reinfect the body politic with “conservatism” — true name, sociopathy.

May I have the next slide, please?

What My Ex-Wives Taught Me about Alcoholism

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Alcoholics abuse alcohol.  Codependents abuse alcoholics.