Monday, October 06, 2008

William Ayers

Reading any nonsense against Bill Ayers is frustrating, but in the context of a bomber of children, John McCain, being the leveler, the whole thing has heightened to the empire's usual level of absurdity. Well, Bill Ayers is great (true story: all this nonsense about Obama having a coffee at Ayer's house, and everyone else saying they've had coffee with Ayers, reminded me that I met Ayers at a conference years ago and we got to talking and he took me out to Starbucks. Maybe Ayers just really likes coffee.) and I think the only good thing to come out of listening to an empire's whining, that is literally this instant violently forcing its claws on the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, is that more people will read go check out Ayers's blog. I'm not such a fan of Obama, and every time I listen to people distance Obama from Ayers, I just recall Ayers being really friendly, not romanticizing the Weather Underground stuff (this was at an event with about thirty guys silently sizing him up while clearly getting their radical man-crush on and he just wasn't interested in catering to that), and trying to navigate a progressive radical path. On one hand, he's living a chaptered life and he's doing great work in education and people who want to demonize him need to go read some of his books on education and see who he is these last twenty five years beyond combating republican talking points. On the other hand, he supposedly* bombed the place where they orchestrate mass campaigns of murder, pillage and rape, and I'm supposed to root against him?!

*He was part of the WUO; I have no clue if he was involved with the Pentagon bombing.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Liberal Challenge

Some days it feels like the United States is driving top speed into its own demise. And then we read the news and listen to another spineless democrat politician make another empty promise about reining the whole thing. Like clockwork, ten minutes later, another blog post comes up from another liberal, frustrated and angry, try to articulate the cognitive dissonance of asking for stronger support of the Democrats for just one more cycle while acknowledging that the party isn't doing anything other than talking tough and caving quick.

Forget the devil and his administration, forget the critiques, let's zero in on the substance. Bush has no interest in "benchmarks" for success in Iraq because success means war (got it), hegemonic control (maintaining it, but losing grip by the minute), and the oil pump (got it). Ending the war means surrendering his fortunes. But the Liberals, who seem like a nice group of people caught up in a group hallucination, need to begin copping some benchmarks. No revolutionary alternative can be explored because they "just aren't realistic." Instead, we're told to stay within the two party system, register voters, write letters, contribute, and occasionally march. They get mad at Pelosi for saying that impeachment is off the table and then take everything but Pelosi off the table.

What has to happen for them to say enough is enough? Do children have to be raped, or threatened, in front of their parents as part of policy? Does the war need to continue to its fifth year? Does, for the second election in a row, the power brokers of the loyal opposition (sic) have to mount a candidate that talks about more war instead of less (e.g., Kerry's promise to fight the war better and this season's crop of fools blustering nonsense about Iran)? Does any sense of justice have to be respected on any level or does it have to just be a return to the illusions of habeas corpus? Is there a standard liberals can demand that is more than "better than cheney?"

Whatever the standards are, can we get the liberals to just agree to what those standards are with a date attached? If Giuliani or Obama gets elected and keeps the war on, can we expect a new strategy? Not that the rest of us should stop what we're doing, but there is something ridiculous about the liberal's anger at the path we're on and their steadfast refusal to consider more radical options, often dismissing them as "unrealistic."

Kerry got the nomination largely because he sold himself as the "electable" candidate. Lefties get lectured about not achieving anything by working outside the system. And all the while, the most technologically insane war machine chews up country after country. We're told to grow up and be realistic by kids in their twenties with Obama buttons for saying that we need much more than a candidate with a stump speech. For years, we've listened to this. Kos, and Atrios, and all the big libral bloggers need to listen to their own advice for Bush on Iraq: quantifiable benchmarks, clear schedules, objective analysis, and a clear and attainable goal.

I know, I know. There are a lot of people out there who aren't liberals and who are pissed. Instead of whining about the short bus, we should acknowledge the great unrepresented many. Of course, many of these liberal machines, from the Daily Kos community to Moveon, didn't exist mere years ago, and so why can't we build a similar machine? Why can't we lose the petty infighting and the eighty year old debates and get to work on building a new kind of machine? Why can't we?

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Critique of a Critique of the meta-Critique: Why No News is The News

I don't always agree with Krugman, but his criticism of the meta-analysis is right on. He says, in part:
"One of my pet peeves about political reporting is the fact that some of my journalistic colleagues seem to want to be in another business – namely, theater criticism. Instead of telling us what candidates are actually saying – and whether it’s true or false, sensible or silly – they tell us how it went over, and how they think it affects the horse race. During the 2004 campaign I went through two months’ worth of TV news from the major broadcast and cable networks to see what voters had been told about the Bush and Kerry health care plans; what I found, and wrote about, were several stories on how the plans were playing, but not one story about what was actually in the plans.

There are two big problems with this kind of reporting. The important problem is that it fails to inform the public about what matters. In 2004, very few people had any idea about the very real differences between the candidates on domestic policy."

But how much of it has to do with the fact the there is essentially a consensus between the two major parties? They both strive to be business-friendly (supporting things like NAFTA and the WTO over the working and middle class), hawkish on foreign policy (no debate about bombing a country for what non-state actors have done), and neck-and-neck on domestic issues (with the Democrats making a big celebration out of the most minor deviations, like Don't Ask, Don't Tell, while continuing the mass incarceration craze). The only two issue they seem to disagree on is guns, and there by very little despite what the NRA keeps promoting, and abortion, where they seem to have a gentleman's agreement that one party has to be the choice party and the other party is the anti-choice party. As a frustrated Michael Moore pointed out, in the second Gore-Bush debate. for over thirty issues, the two candidates simply agreed.

There is a problem with the corporate media's obsession with politician personality and surface performance over their substantial policy proposals (and, god forbid, alternatives to the proposals), but when, for the last several years, the Republicans argue for more war and the democrats counter (!) that the war needs to be fought better, doesn't responding with theater criticism make sense?

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Like Powell at the U.N., Bush trots out another general puppet

Petraeus is Bush. Say it again and again, if you have to. The puppet might as well have Bush's hand sticking in his back for all the independence he has. Bush's credibility is shot on the war and Petraeus is his proxy, a new untarnished voice, to repeat Bush's script. And every journalist and politician who, in turn, repeats Petraeus's findings is either a moron or someone in on the take. Petraeus is just another prop at the photo-op over the wreckage.
This can happen because the corporate media, for all it's self-deprecatory apologies for cheerleading us into this war (though always in past tense), continues to fight for the war. This is the liberals' grossest moment, from the New York Times and Jon Stewart on down, their champions tinker with rhetoric and pander to argument, but only push responsibility and tell us to believe it means more war. It all indicts the left, a left that doesn't even exist, because we're not smashing this whole machine apart.

This moment is truly depressing in so many ways. We have the republicans panting blood from eating children wholesale and the internal hemorrhaging of a party run by career criminals and simplest minds. Democratic politicians, the naked army they have always been (Obama, the great hope™, threatening more war on the rest of the world, Clinton the Corporate Lawyer shamelessly pandering knowing full well she will leap right if she gets the primary, etc), trying their best to play "republicaner."
And still no left.
Let's take stock. The liberals, represented by Kos and his ilk, who write a good game, but who are the indentured servants of the democratic party - no more independent than junkies - and smart enough to know that the Party is a collosal failure, yet still hooked to the gills. Then you have the institutional left, old C.P. fronts, who are still yoked to the throat with party line, infighting, and the verse-chorus-verse of New York Times Ad-March on Washington-Paper Sales. I actually love and care for this last group quite a bit, but the same old song and dance gets tired after awhile and it's frustrating that instead of fifteen little groups, we can't have one or two bigger groups getting to work.
Then there are the anarchists, who seem to be permanently arguing a propaganda of the deed that says "Anarchism isn't going to work." Like a list serv flame war that meets in person, it is the politics of a mob who happened to attend Sarah Lawrence. Some promise all the fun of hardcore Maoist cadres with none of the actual discipline and others who're just seeking riot porn to star in or videotape. But reacting against the anti-practice of the university marxists means an anti-theory of spontaneity navigated by the radicaler-than-thou only after it has been authorized by the purer-than-thou and vetted by the colorfully dressed unimaginative ones. A generation of kids who wore the clothes of the seventies growing up in the nineties reduced to reenacting the sixties and afraid of the future.
Every once in awhile, I catch a glimpse of the promise and the excitement rekindles, but I didn't today. These are depressing times and we need to get our act together.

Petraeus is bush and there is no left, repeat if you have to. We need to ignite a left and get rid of the the whole system that bush rides.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Aborton, America, and Debate

There are two types of lefty political junkies: those who will stoop to obsessing over the elections and those who won't. With all apologies to the latter heads, we are working towards revolution and the total eradication of the capitalist state, but we also chase election gossip like the next hit on a aluminum foil pipe. For those of you still reading, we wanted to remark on a disturbing trend: Liberals' chastising of republican candidates' pro-choice histories.
Blog after blog raises hackles when uncovering decade-old contributions to Planned Parenthood and it makes us ill. But before we raise the biggest reason, let us digress a bit mercenary at first. The biggest difference between the democrats and republicans on a national level, all squawking and superficiality aside, is the choice women get in birth control. Hillary and Obama can talk on and on about all the great visions they have for a better America, but cut to specifics and Obama will take a country that we have attacked and bullied for decades and he'll threaten them with nukes and Clinton, ex-Walmart board member, is just gross. Sure, Sharpton and Kucinich will be allowed on stage to give the naive some hope, but anyone allowed to play ball for real is republican-lite. The republican model looks similar with the only difference that they use their farthest right fringe, like racist Tancredo, not as a bait-and-switch to keep the base in line, but as cover to push for their grossest visions (i.e., they're just answering to the grassroots). The battle royales they have are more like Professional Wrestling: a lot of sound and fury and very little actual heat.
Why is it so important to point this out? The day the democrats run an anti-choice presidential candidate, the Democratic party will deflate and third parties will get a rush of new dynamic recruits (maybe the republicans will win the next election, but it will fundamentally move the debate to the left on every issue, including choice); the day the republicans run a pro-choice candidate, the democrats will win the next election as the anti-choice base will immediately jump ship for the next largest antichoice party.
But, and I'm sure that this some dailykos junkie is already thinking this: what if liberals already know that the parties will never allow their nominee to buck the rule and it is just a strategy to weaken turnout from the base in case an ex-prochoicer wins the nomination. This is brings us to the second reason: abortion shouldn't be a political football. It is a right that should need no endorsement, apology, or excuse in the political ring. The ideal candidate quote is simply: "If elected, I will do everything in my power to guarantee a woman's right to choose. Next question."

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton says that if people want to find someone who regrets their vote for Iraq, there are a lot of other candidates. We're two years out to the election and while we're quite critical of the entire election process, we still vote, and the watchword for Clinton for the next two years will not deviate: she told us to look elsewhere and even if we were never going to vote for her anyway, we can only advise all people against the war to not vote for her as well. Even if she wins the primary.

In better news, if you are in the nyc region this weekend, the grassroots media conference is happening. Be there or be square.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our letter to The New York Times' Public Editor

Dear Byron Calame,

Reading the piece this Sunday on Tariq Ramadan ("Tarig Ramadan Has an Identity Issue;" The Magazine 2/4/2007), I came across a sentence that I have often read in the Times. Though the wording may vary, the blatant contradiction is always irritating.
"The message not only provides educated European Muslims with a political cause but is also pushed with considerable success at such international leftist jamborees as the World Social Forum, where the world's antiglobalists meet."
Antiglobalists at international world meetings? There is so much wrong in these few words that it boggles the mind. There is a growing library of hundreds of books about the various movements present at the World Social Forum and I would ask that your writers, or at least your editors, skim perhaps the first few pages or maybe just a back cover of any of these books. Immediately you will find that we are anything but "antiglobal." We have groups like "globalise resistance." Go around the world and you will see that one of our icons is Che, a revolutionary Argentinean who led a revolution in Cuba, before going off to fight in Africa and Bolivia. We meet at international meetings like the World Social Forum precisely because we believe that humanity's solutions require a world conversation and transnational strategies. If you want "antiglobal," go talk to the militias hiding in their bunkers from phantom conspiracies or the minutemen bullying the border.
We are a movement that is opposed to the cutthroat system of capitalism and its mercenary perversion of the state. There is an argument that we have entered into a new phase of capitalism called "globalization," which we are steadfastly opposed to. Yet to reduce us to isolationists or "anti-globalists" is so wrong that it borders on deceit.
Please ask your editors to refrain from this foolish shorthand. If you want to go around labeling people as "antiglobalists," I have two candidates. The first is the U.S. government. They seem to love going to war with every other country around the world. Sounds Antiglobalist enough for me. The second is a bit closer to home. Your own Thomas Friedman wants us to believe that capitalism has made the world flat. Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch on "antiglobal," but, as we can see in this Sunday's magazine, apparently any clap trap can make it into the Times.

[History Is A Weapon]

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam, Ford, and a new addition

After typing in our newest addition, Excerpts from Scanlan's Guerrilla War in the U.S.A. January 1971 Issue, it is pretty remarkable to witness this particular week in America. On the one hand, there is a certain American bloodlust for the execution of Saddam Hussein. The right, vampires that they are, are just exhausting their necrophilia. The liberals, under their usual delusions of "pragmatism," lament that the execution won't lead to a more docile colony. Ugh. Saddam was a bad man, but we do no one service by pretending for moment that he was some sort of vanguardist against empire OR that his crimes, monstrous as they were, can even approximate the wholesale brutality of Bush 1 or 2 or Clinton. Clinton's Secretary of State, the always smiling and friendly seeming Albright, was asked about killing half a million Iraqi children and didn't blink an eye in, not challenging the charge number, but defending the murder. With all due respect to A.Y. Davis's Prison Abolitionism, Saddam should be in a cell somewhere and his cell mates should be Billy, Georgy 1, and Georgy 2.

Yet, same news cycle, we get the veneration of Ford. "Nice guy, Ford." You have to appreciate the degree with which the media personalizes the guy. As if he was the friendly guy who hung out around the water cooler and bought an extra box of their kid's girl scout cookies, instead of, say, the guy who green-lighted the Indonesian genocide of a third of East Timor's population. Why is Ford celebrated? Because he pardoned Nixon, showed that the system worked, and that "we as a nation" needed to heal. So let's get this straight: Nixon, bloodthirsty murderer of Vietnam, gets a pardon because we need to heal from his legendary crimes (not that he was even prosecuted for the crime of Vietnam), but Saddam has to swing from the neck because a puppet court says so? Imperial justice: No Justice, Just Empire. (and lastly, to keep our contradiction level high, Ford apparently said something about how Gay couples "ought to be treated equally. Period." Geez, and Carter is referring, correctly, to Israel as an Apartheid state. How these guys change when they're no longer in power and thirty years have passed.)

In other news, the United Arab Emirates is apparently switching some holdings from Dollars to Euros. Muy Interesante!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

John Bolton

John Bolton will truly be missed. He was a gift for this country: a naked bully who eschewed flowery patriotism for brutal imperialist right. It was odd to see liberals up in arms for a new Moynihan. Moynihan, the statesmen, with an able hand was competent and efficient in ways that Bolton would only dream. Why would we want the Bush Administration to have someone competent? They're engaged in the rape and murder of Iraq (and Afghanistan) and an ambassador will only carry out their program: Americans of conscience want every ham-handed nitwit and fool to be running the show until retreat becomes the order of the day. And why long for a new Moynihan? When the United States Government decided to assist and turn a blind eye to the Indonesian genocidal campaign against East Timor, Moynihan, our ambassador to the UN at the time, later bragged about: "The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success." The Bush Administration, with its criminal agenda in foreign policy, deserves Bolton.

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