Saturday Catchup 2010-05-29

"This week, we reached a grim milestone in Afghanistan: 1,000 U.S. troops killed since the war began in 2001. It is a sober reminder of the cost of the conflict, and every new military casualty will test the patience and resolve of the American public. But it’s another casualty list – the unknown number of Afghan civilians killed in our operations there – that is much more central to the ultimate outcome of the war. If we want to win – defeating the Taliban and dealing a decisive blow to Al Qaeda in the region – our troops must pursue a new strategy to minimize them. Specifically, we should borrow a page from two unlikely people: a little-known military officer and the world leader nobody today seems to trust, Afghan president Hamid Karzai." -- How to turn the tide in Afghanistan by Eric Blehm (Special Force 2010-05-23).

"We need a much deeper, more pervasive realization that we are radically interdependent, that we are all in this together, not only all human 'allies' and 'enemies,' but also coral reefs and infant fish. It hardly matters whether the momentum of our technological advance is driven by wonder, possibility and the thrill of risk, or by greed and fear, or a mix of all these. Absent a deep ethical reorientation toward what is best for the whole planet, that momentum will - will, not may - end in disaster. When might this realization begin to influence decisions taken by corporate boards, or supreme courts, or adversarial diplomats jockeying for national advantage?" -- Hubris: Techoil, Techweapons by Winslow (truthout 2010-05-28). Also, Case for a Moral Imperative by Eugene Robinson (truthout 2010-05-28).

Musical break: the masterful Billy Joe Shaver does "Black Rose" on Austin City Limits:

On YouTube.

The Maoster had no use for politicians who talk Left as they move Right. -- Is The President The Kind of Leader Chairman Mao Warned Us About? by Danny Schechter (CommonDreams.Org 2010-05-29).

Ron Paul is another kind of leader entirely. Last week, he voted to repeal the Clinton-era Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (or, more accurately, he voted to allow the Pentagon to repeal it if and when it chooses to) -- while 26 mainstream House Democrats voted to retain that bigoted policyHe changed his mind on DADT because gay constituents of his who were forced out of the military convinced him of the policy's wrongness.  In 2003, he vehemently opposed the invasion of Iraq, while countless Democrats -- including the current Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Senate Majority Leader, House Majority Leader, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and many of the progressive pundits who love to scorn him -- supported the monstrous attack on that country.  In 2008,  he opposed the legalization of Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program and the granting of retroactive immunity to lawbreaking telecoms, while the Democratic Congress -- led by the current U.S. President, his Chief of Staff, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the House Majority Leader -- overwhelmingly voted it into law.  He vehemently condemned America's use of torture from the start, while many leading Democrats were silent (or even supportive).  Compare his February, 2010 emphatic condemnation of America's denial of habeas corpus, lawless detentions and presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens to what the current U.S. Government is doing. He also opposes the war in Afghanistan, while the Democratic Congress continues to fund it and even to reject timetables for withdrawal.  He is an outspoken opponent of the nation's insane, devastating and oppressive "drug war". What a nutbag. -- Who are the real "crazies" in our political culture? by Glenn Greenwald (Salon 2010-05-28).

Outside the gulag known as "the Industry," rarely has popular music been more original and dynamic than it is presently (I'll argue for the 30s or the 50s, you'll say the 60s or the 80s, somebody will even try to make a case for the 70s, but in the here and now technological changes in the way music is reproduced and distributed have unleashed a maelstrom of creativity). Here's a small example: Mad World Imagine Eleanor Rigby Numb.

(On YouTube)

Because, in contrast to its death grip on film, music and software, copyright law's hold on the fashion industry is nearly non-existent, fashion benefits in both innovation and sales. Johanna Blakley's argument that the creative industries can learn from fashion's free culture deserves to be part of the debate.
(On YouTube.)

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein shares his hate mail with both friends and strangers the way elderly people show off photos of their grandkids. He has plenty of it to share. For the past four years, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been doing battle with a Christian subculture that, he believes, is trying to Christianize the U.S. armed forces with the help of a complicit Pentagon brass. He calls it the "fundamentalist Christian parachurch-military-corporate-proselytizing complex," a mouthful by which he means holy warriors in contempt of the constitutional barrier between church and state. Mikey Weinstein's Crusade: Meet the man who's trying to purge evangelical Christianity from the Pentagon by Stephen Glain (Foreign Policy 2010-05-24)

It must be something in the water. Coming in the wake of Carly Fiorina's batty Barbara Boxer As Blimp ad come comes this commercial for one of her rivals, avid lawn mower Chuck DeVore, suggesting that he is Jack Bauer's choice for Senate. Should someone clue him in that Jack Bauer is made up?

Can it be true that the U.S. government abandoned American POWs in Vietnam? "The CIA officials said their intelligence indicated strongly that the remaining men -- those who had not died from illness or hard labor or torture -- were eventually executed." -- Vietnam MIAs: Ghosts Return to Haunt McCain by Alexander Cockburn (truthout 2010-05-28).

Must read: Wall Street Journal story on the decisions BP made that led to the eruption at the Deepwater Horizon rig: "It was a difficult drill from the start. API Well No. 60-817-44169 threw up many challenges to its principal owner, BP PLC, swallowing expensive drilling fluid and burping out dangerous gas. Those woes put the Gulf of Mexico project over budget and behind schedule by April 20, the day the well erupted, destroying the Deepwater Horizon rig and killing 11 men." -- BP Decisions Set Stage for Disaster by Ben Casselman and Russell Gold (Wall Street Journal 2010-05-27).

"If you listen to the mainstream media long enough, you just might be tempted to believe that the United States has emerged from the recession and is now in the middle of a full-fledged economic recovery. In fact, according to Obama administration officials, the great American economic machine has roared back to life, stronger and more vibrant than ever before. But is that really the case? Of course not. You would have to be delusional to believe that. What did happen was that all of the stimulus packages and government spending and new debt that Obama and the U.S. Congress pumped into the economy bought us a little bit of time. But they have also made our long-term economic problems far worse. The reality is that the U.S. cannot keep supporting an economy on an ocean of red ink forever. At some point the charade is going to come crashing down." -- 25 Questions To Ask Anyone Who Is Delusional Enough To Believe That This Economic Recovery Is Real by Michael Snyder (BLN 2010-05-25).

Book review: Capitalism isn’t working. Not in the US and not in other parts of the world. In fact, virtually anywhere one goes, suffering is pervasive. Almost half the world’s population - more than three billion people, the equivalent of the population of ten United States - live on less than $2.50 a day. A billion people are undernourished and go to bed hungry each night. Two in five people around the world lack access to clean water, and one in four lacks basic electricity. Here in the US, whole communities are being decimated by evictions and foreclosures, health care is a shambles, and hunger and homelessness are at near-record levels. Twenty percent of children are born into poverty, and illnesses correlating with inadequate nutrition are epidemic. In 2009, the world’s 793 billionaires had a combined worth of $2.4 trillion; this translates into twice the combined gross domestic product of all the countries in sub-Saharan Africa: the three billion human beings at the bottom of the economic food chain have fewer resources than the 793 people at the top. -- Alan Maass' The Case for Socialism, reviewed by Eleanor J. Bader (truthout 2010-05-26).

Book review: "In reacting to the economic insecurities of the past forty years, the nation's colleges and universities have adopted corporate practices that degrade undergraduate instruction, marginalize faculty members, and threaten the very mission of the academy as an institution devoted to the common good."-- Ellen Schrecker's The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom and the End of the American University, reviewed by Eleanor J. Bader (truthout 2010-05-28).

Finally, why it's so hard to build a Tea Party:

As seen on YouTube. Also, How Dummies Respond to an Oil Spill.

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