Sunday, July 31, 2005

 

Military Exploits Poverty

The US military is desperate for recruits. Young people in the Pacific poverty belt are desperate for opportunity. Recruiters take advantage of this by promising them a job and benefits. It’s the poverty draft.

Even if they come back from Iraq — or wherever Bush’s latest battlefield is — alive, they’ll still be irradiated with depleted uranium and poisoned with who knows what. And all to help boost corporate profits.

Friday, July 29, 2005

 

Climate Pact Is a Joke

Need a good laugh? Take a look at the new “Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development” which, according to Voice of America (a very trustworthy news source, no doubt), is “a partnership to develop new energy technologies to reduce pollution and curb global warming without hurting economic development.”

Of course these leaders know as well as I do (perhaps better) that in the fossil-fuel economy there is no way we are going to “reduce pollution and curb global warming.” That will be accomplished only by shutting down the industrial economy and going back to a pre-modern lifestyle. And it’s probably too late to curb global warming, anyway.

According to the article, “The new partnership is voluntary, does not have deadlines or pollution reduction targets and cannot enforce compliance.” That just about tells you how much progress this plan is going to achieve. Did you guess “none”? It is a do-nothing plan to make it look as though governments are making some kind of serious efforts. The most action I expect from this is that it will be used to funnel millions of dollars into the pockets of certain corporations.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

 

What the Terrorists Want

“But history and logic suggest that striking back the wrong way too often harms more of the innocent and only helps the terrorists get what they want,” writes Steve Weissman over at Truthout. While it is perhaps beyond the scope of his piece to address that question, his statement strongly suggests that we should not give the terrorists what they want.

Certainly if you ask terrorists what they want, you’ll get a variety of answers, but chief among them will definitely be an end to the occupation of their lands: Israel out of Palestine, the US and its lackeys out of Iraq, and so on.

But therein lies the rub. Occupiers are known for not wanting to give their occupied territories back. It simply isn’t on the agenda. So expect a lot more terrorist attacks, thanks in a large part to Bush, Blair, and their buddies.

Monday, July 25, 2005

 

More Surveillance

In the belief that the many video cameras in London makes the populace safer, Americans are calling for more cameras. In reality, cameras and searches aren’t going to make anyone safer, because suicide bombers will just think of ways to circumvent them, or shift their aim to other targets. And if a “suicide bombing” is actually an inside job, the video evidence can if necessary just be withheld from the public for “security” reasons.

Of course the authorities know this. What’s actually happening is that the public is given a false sense of security, or persuaded that such measures are for their own good, when in fact this is one more step in the development of a totalitarian panopticon society.

The way to stop terrorists and suicide bombers is to remove the motivation for their actions. Yet countries like the US, UK, and Israel refuse to do that, and instead portray themselves as the victims.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

 

Impeachment? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The people over at AfterDowningStreet.org are wondering why Bush hasn’t been impeached yet. The question from the public and from the organization is apparently “Why is it so hard to get a Democrat from a solidly Democratic district to introduce articles of impeachment? What are they waiting for?”

“They” are waiting for us to go away, that’s what. Despite the efforts of a few Democratic Congressmembers with moxie and a sense of what’s right, the Democratic Party itself is firmly committed to the Republicrat program, and they will go to great lengths not to rock the boat. Which means leaving Bush alone.

Why can’t liberals and progressives see this? Look at the actions of the Democratic Party. Look at how John Kerry threw the election. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. When, oh when, will progressives stop putting their misguided faith in the Democratic Party?

So don’t hold your breath. The Democrats won’t budge on impeachment until they absolutely must bow to public pressure. And as you can see, even the current level of public pressure is insufficient.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

 

Fry Them Demonstrators

Check out the microwave “crowd-control” weapon. And don’t be fooled. This is no more for benign crowd control than a trawler is for catching minnows. In the emerging police-state world, the authorities will need some new tools to deal with the masses of hungry and disgruntled citizens.

Notes the article: “One person suffered a burn in a previous test when the beam was accidentally used on the wrong power setting.” So there you have it. Just turn up the power and you have a weapon that can literally fry people.

A researcher asks: “What happens if someone in a crowd is unable, for whatever reason, to move away from the beam?” Good question. And the answer is that the authorities won’t care about that. Common sense tells you that in a crowded situation such as a mass of demonstrators, people will often not be able to get away from the weapon’s beam. That fact alone should disqualify this device, but since the ability to fry whole crowds of people at a single sweep is the real objective, it is not a problem.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

 

‘Green’ Wal-Mart Stores

What’s this? Wal-Mart is going green?

Don’t get excited. The two “green” supercenters are just experimental — and are of course meant to burnish the company’s tarnished image. And even if all of Wal-Mart’s stores were built this way, it wouldn’t mean jack-diddly to workers, local economies, or the environment.

According to the article, “The average supercenter uses 1.5 million kilowatts for lighting in a year.” The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and when the price of crude reaches a certain level, Wal-Mart is going to crash like a ton of bricks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

Paper Bags

We’ve seen plenty of the Bush regime vision of cheap labor for the factories and cannon fodder for the battlefield. Of course this is a conservative and capitalist vision, and not unique to the Dubya program, but it seems especially pronounced now. The glorification of Wal-Mart type businesses and the shabby treatment of soldiers are good indications. The hoi polloi are mere expendables, like printer ink cartridges or paper bags. When they run out of ink or get a hole, they are discarded without a second thought.

Now a new film reveals the shameful treatment of those who helped with the 9/11 rescue effort. See it here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

 

The Right Is Terrified of the People

As I pointed out before, the right is terrified of the people. And with public approval ratings approaching the sewer, the situation is getting worse. To protect themselves from the people, rightists need to spy on us, brand all those who disagree as “terrorists,” script and heavily control their public appearances, avoid open dialog, dodge reporters’ questions, and stay in hiding.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

 

Bush Honesty and Gullible Americans

Liberals and progressives are making a big deal out of the latest poll results indicating that only 41% of Americans rate Bush well for being “honest and straightforward.” While the fact that more people are waking up to Bush’s mendacity is encouraging, what I find amazing is that roughly four out of 10 Americans are gullible enough to think that this pathological liar is being “honest and straightforward.” As far as I can see, Bush has been “honest and straightforward” with the public approximately zero times. What on earth do those four of 10 Americans think Bush has told the truth about? With just about everything Bush has said being spin, distortion, or a demonstrable lie, you have to wonder if Bush supporters inhabit some separate reality or live in another dimension.

Of course this is basically no different from the blind-follower groupies of the Democratic Party, who are just as immune to reality.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

Sierra Club Plugs Ford SUV

As if making a hybrid SUV is going to change anything, Ford has made one and the Sierra Club is promoting the monster. You wonder where these people’s heads are.

SUVs are monsters, whether hybrid or not, and this does nothing but try to vainly prop up the unsustainable institution of suburbia.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

 

Latest Meaningless Gesture

In Japan the latest meaningless gesture toward stopping global warming is “cool biz,” a campaign which exhorts the legions of white-collar workers to doff their neckties and jackets, and turn down the air conditioning. If this is the best our illustrious leaders can do, you should start worrying still more about the future.

 

Reality According to Daily Kos

In case you didn’t know it, Daily Kos considers itself “reality-based,” and for that reason it has banned discussions of 7/7 conspiracy theories.

Of course there is a possibility that the London bombings were what the British government says. But how big is that possibility? What the people over at Daily Kos don’t seem to realize is that you cannot accept at face value the pronouncements of any government on the planet. When a government makes a statement, you have to begin at least by assuming that the possibility of it being truth is less than the possibility of it being spin, distortion, or outright lies. These days when the Bush administration makes a statement, I just automatically assume it is spin, distortion, or lies.

The belief system over at Daily Kos could charitably be described as naive. Bush and Blair say the bombings were the work of Muslim terrorists, so they are. How ridiculous to think otherwise!

Surely the cognoscenti over at Daily Kos know about the history of empires, including the British and American empires: the underhanded scheming, mass murder, torture, lying, support of brutal and repressive right-wing regimes, robbing poor nations of their wealth through political and financial skulduggery, using war as a means of making fat profits, and on and on, one ghastly abomination after another. Since empires are obviously run by leaders who don’t lose sleep over niceties like democracy and human rights, what makes left gatekeepers like Kos think those leaders would not stage a terrorist attack resulting in the deaths of their own citizens? If there is political capital to be gained by such an action, how can you put it past the leaders? There are plenty of precedents.

If Kos and other left gatekeepers are just naive, we can at least feel like pardoning them. But if they are shilling for the anti-democracy Democratic Party, that is an unforgivable sin.

And it’s even worse if they are gullible enough to accept government statements at face value. Hence any venue that outlaws discussion in this vein can certainly not be considered “reality-based.”

Friday, July 08, 2005

 

Wrong Reason for Jail

No reporter, even Judith Miller, should get jail time for not revealing sources. But Miller does deserve to cool her heals for writing articles that helped Bush justify his illegal invasion of Iraq.

Enough said.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

Bush’s Compassion

Cindy Sheehan described her White House meeting with Bush as “disgusting.” Judging by her description, it was worse than that.

When she entered the room Bush apparently said, “Who we’all honorin’ here today?” as if he really felt the need to honor anything or anybody but his own hyperinflated ego.

If Bush wanted to honor the Americans he has sent to their deaths for corporate profits and oil, he would at least hold and attend memorial services. Instead, his administration does everything it can to hide the cost and the reality of its illegal war. Photographs of the dead are withheld, body counts are obscured, and some of the wounded and maimed are kept in limbo waiting for medical attention.

And what about compassion for the innumerable innocent Iraqis who have died because of Bush? How about a little compassion for the people horribly tortured in Bush’s gulag? Or a some compassion for the poor, whose numbers have swelled since Dubya began squatting in the White House?

“Compassion” and “honor” are just empty propaganda words to Bush. On the other hand, the words that have real substance to Bush and his people are “money” and “power.”

 

Sick Humor

If you are looking for some sick (and disgusting) humor, take a look at Rush Limbaugh’s “Club G’itmo” page. The man who admits he had a drug problem has taken at face value the regime’s claim that the inmates at Guantanamo enjoy “everything they could possibly want.” If Limbaugh were a real journalist, he would use his conservative status to check in to a suite at Gitmo for a while and try out the amenities himself. After a little of the same brutal interrogation that apparently is quite common there, he might form a different opinion.

Mr. Limbaugh obviously inhabits the same reality-insulated bubble world that Dubya does.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

American Education

I didn’t need to see this to know that American education is a joke. Of course I don’t mean to malign the many competent and dedicated teachers in American schools, but the system itself is in a sorry state. Just take a look at some of the many personal websites put up by Americans, and slog through a syntax-challenged mass of misspellings and sometimes incomprehensible verbiage. Or check out news stories on comparisons of scholastic achievement by students in industrialized countries.

And now we have Dubya’s “No Child Left Behind,” which ironically means every child left behind — except the children of the rich, of course. The fact that schools are begging for money is testament to the low importance accorded to education by the US government.

 

Stunning News

Previously I wrote about the huge potential for abusing stun guns, especially those marketed to the public. Now we have a story about plans in St. Louis to put stun belts on criminal defendants in court. Again, what seems to be a good idea has a big potential for abuse and accidents.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

 

Ah, Empire!

Why am I disgusted by Paul Harvey? And why should you be disgusted, too? One reason is his nostalgia for the good old days when empires kicked ass and didn’t give a hoot about human rights or other niceties. Harvey’s recent broadcast included a segment in which he waxes poetic on those good old days. Yes dear reader, according to Paul Harvey the American Empire is going down the tubes because we’re being too nice.

The gist of his remark seems to be that if you want to be a great empire, you have to use slave labor, exterminate the natives, and ruthlessly squash anything that gets in the way. Of course he is correct, but that does not make him right.

Friday, July 01, 2005

 

The Chimera of “Energy Independence”

Well-meaning people keep telling us that America can free itself from dependence on foreign oil (or at least Middle Eastern oil) and still maintain the “American way of life.” Tom Turnipseed begins a recent essay with this gut-buster: “As we travel to the beach for the 4th of July, we pay more for gas than ever before.” Later in the piece he scares us with this: “Energy investment analysts predict $3.00 gas next year.” In Japan right now, $5 gas is common, yet Americans have the balls to bellyache about gas that is predicted to be $3 next year. Breaks my heart. How on earth will pampered and extravagant Americans make it to the beach on $3 gas? If it rises to $5 they will riot.

But let me get to the main point. Even activist types apparently believe that the American way of life is not negotiable. That’s why they keep telling us that with investment in renewables, good energy policy, and concerted effort, we can make the switch to other energy sources and just pick up where we left off with the car culture, suburbia, centrally heated and cooled homes, automobile vacations, shopping malls, and ringing cash registers.

“Energy independence” in that sense is nothing but a chimera. Truly becoming energy-independent will require us to really tighten our belts and power down. Most of the infrastructure dependent on cheap fossil fuels will in the future be nothing more than a pile of worthless junk. Our luxury cars and electrical appliances will turn into rusting hulks, roads will fall into disrepair and become overgrown with weeds, and shopping malls and supermarkets will become wastelands testifying to the emptiness of the high-energy consumer culture.

Make no mistake about it: there is no substitute for cheap oil. People who tell us that if we just take Amory Lovins’ advice everything will be all right are doing us a huge disservice by lulling us into a false sense of security, when instead they should be helping us prepare for a brutal future brought to us courtesy of venal and short-sighted politicians and their corporate owners.

 

John Kerry Thinks You Are Stupid

How can I say that? Just look at this. It’s nothing but a cheap pep talk decorated with a bunch of empty flag-waving. Anyone who thinks that “we can win this war” has got to have his or her head examined. The situation in Iraq is an unmitigated, hopeless disaster, all the more tragic because it was unnecessary and illegal, as well as being a gigantic scam. Kerry ignores these facts and tells us that the problem is one of “leadership.”

What a laugh! Here is a man so feckless that he could not mount a decent campaign against a weak and vulnerable opponent. A man who could not debate his way out of a wet paper bag. A man who could not stand up and challenge a stolen election. And he is telling us we need leadership!

The best thing John Kerry could do for America is crawl into a hole, and take Al Gore with him.

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