Friday, February 23, 2007

Liberal Dem Establishment once again attacking Kucinich

Of course, anyone with principles never has "electoral viability" to these "Daily Kos" types. I know Kucinich won't be elected, particularly because he isn't completely bought and paid for by corporate interests like Barack Obama is. Even if you don't agree with Kucinich on the issues at all (I don't agree with him on abortion if the Nation's characterization Kos quotes is accurate), that suggests to me that maybe we should work to change the system instead of trying to elect a neoliberal like Obama, and I mean neoliberal in the corporate globalisation sense, much like Hillary and her husband are neoliberals.

Kos goes on with a reactionary rant about Kucinich's Department of Peace:

"Higher evolution of human awareness"? "Transform consciousness"? "Paradign shift"? What the hell is this crap? I expect this kind of crap out of Deepak Chopra (or Tom Cruise), not a serious presidential candidate.
No, I guess we should just keep thinking the way we always have, the "faith" that if a celebrity like Obama becomes elected, all will become right with the world.

The left establishment is just as reactionary as the right when someone they don't like plays in their sandbox.

That's why it's imperative to support people like Hillary, Edwards, or Obama - he's more handsome, a neoliberal, a perfect Democrat because he speaks strong words about being progressive while being totally bought by corporate interests and completely in favor of the continued redistribution of wealth to the upper 1% through globalization.

At least Republicans are honest about being a corporate party - they make no bones about being pro-rich, while the Democrats have to pretend to be a party of the people in order to make us believe we have an actual choice, and that the government is not just a tool of the elites, and part of that is making damn sure guys with actual opinions are kept in the margins.

I don't agree with Kucinich on everything, but as long as he's on the margins of the Blue wing of the Corporate Party, I may consider becoming a Democrat again just to vote for him in the primary next year.

Meanwhile, I'll be trying to get Nader ballot access, and at least write him in for President.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Salmonella in Peanut Butter

How does salmonella get in peanut butter? Short answer - Lots of Processing. How does it become widespread? Highly centralized food distribution systems.

This recounts how a salmonella outbreak in peanut butter in Australia was traced in 1999 (I do the research so the AP doesn't have to):

Microbiologists traced the salmonella to a particular brand of peanut butter from a manufacturer in Queensland.

[Microbiologist Peter] Wood was quoted as saying, "Fortunately, the company had retained a sample of that batch of peanut butter so that shelf life tests could be conducted," and that the sample was contaminated with the same strain of S. Mbandaka infecting patients.

The batch of peanut butter was traced to one batch of roasted peanuts from one supplier. Again, the disease detectives were in luck, because the supplier had kept a sample of the peanuts to study possible aflatoxin contamination. Again tests matched the strains of salmonella.

It turns out that the roasting company had moved and separated the roasted peanuts with an auger, a drill-like machine with a spiraling blade that could lift piles of peanuts.

Wood was quoted as saying, "The auger was only used four times because it proved not to be as time-saving as first thought."

Wood said the machine was rarely used and had been kept in the company tool yard. During that time, eastern Australia was in the throes of a plague of mice. The rodents nested everywhere, including the tool yard,
where their droppings contaminated the auger.

When the auger was brought in to the plant, it was washed down but Wood said it was not sanitized before it was used on Jan. 10, 1996.

Salmonella from the auger became mixed with the peanuts, and the contaminated peanuts in turn contaminated the peanut butter production apparatus. Jar after jar of contaminated peanut butter began wending its way to supermarket shelves under generic labels.

Wood was quoted as saying, "It took us six months to track down the cause of the outbreak," and that over that time, peanut butter production had continued, meaning all six months' worth of peanut butter had to be removed from store shelves and destroyed.

Howard Coble's speech and my letter to him

My congressmen, an old Republican in our very conservative district, spoke out against Bush's escalation. His four minute speech can be viewed here from CSPAN here
(See North Carolina>H. Coble)

This is my letter in response:

Dear Howard Coble,

THANK YOU! for your speech on the Iraq war. While I don't necessarily agree with your interpretation of the Iraqis "rejecting freedom", it's completely clear to anyone with a level head that it's time to bring our troops home. Some of us had been listening to military experts and former CIA members since 2002 who predicted all the terrible things that would happen in this war - that it would destabilize the area, that a civil war could break out- and also we listened to weapons inspectors who doubted Saddam's WMD capabilities, and it turned out he had none, as President Bush has said. We were all called far left wackos and told we "hated America", whatever that is supposed to mean. Now, billions of dollars later, and thousands of lives destroyed and shattered, it turns out we were right, and maybe by opposing the Iraq war we didn't "hate America" after all.

Well, it's no fun being ignored and it's no fun being right. I have lost a dear friend in this horrible idiotic mess, and have cousins over there still who are risking their lives for contractors who scam the American people out of tax dollars so they can send empty trucks running all over the place and charge $65 for a load of laundry for a soldier. How cruel or horribly insane does a government have to be to put its own citizens in a position to risk their lives to provide security in a civil war, and, as many military experts have said, to CREATE MORE TERRORISM that would not have been created had the government listened to the sober criticisms from the beginning, who were not just going along with popular opinion at the time, brought on my deliberately misdirected fear, that 70% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein directed the 9/11 atrocities.

Well, if I thought Saddam had weapons he could use on us, if I thought he had carried out 9/11, and if I thought he was a threat to us at all, I would have supported this war. But despite what the New York Times wanted us to believe, that all turned out to be nonsense, proven over and over again. And each reason the Bush administration invented for going to Iraq turned out to be nonsense too, proven over and over again. This isn't a war on terror, this war is MANUFACTURING terrorists out of people who may or may not have had any gripe with us at all. As we can all clearly see, many of Saddams former enemies have been attacking US troops. Anyone supporting this war is completely insane or is simply too apathetic and careless of the fate of humanity to pay attention.

And if our nation is to survive at all, let alone "prosper" we have to stop harping on simplistic definitions of the motivations of human beings, even Iraqis, that would somehow lead them to "reject freedom". That is absolutely absurd. But if you think people are so stupid that that kind of explanation will get troops out of this corrupt bloodbath, so be it, whatever works.

Again, I thank you Mr. Coble for your speech.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NYTimes selling Iran war

From yesterday's Democracy Now, just like it sold Iraq, and with the same government megaphone authors, the NY Times is supporting the US governments build up to launch a terrorist attack on Iran, based on claims with no proof.

Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says

Michael Gordon is the stupid motherfucker who co-authored the Judith Miller articles hyping the faulty Iraq war intelligence in the run-up to that stupid fucking war.

A critical article about this story can be found in the mainstream rag Editor & Publisher

(as an aside, It's no longer worth addressing people who think the New York Times is leftist- not that I have any evidence I'm addressing anybody. I could spend all day addressing widely held, absurd beliefs of people who don't give a shit enough to pay attention, but there are already plenty of liberal bloggers who shoot fish in a barrel daily)

I love Democracy Now

It's Valentine's Day, so Amy Goodman & company are doing exposés on the diamond, chocolate, and flower industries. Next year they should attack Hallmark for making the stupid thing up in the first place.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Democrats and the myth of US morality

Arthur Silber comments on a recent article by William Pfaff , reminding us that American imperialism is not exclusive to Bush or neoconservative doctrine.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Howard Zinn kicks Democrat ass

From this month's Progressive, "Impeachment by the People" pasted here without permission:

Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C.

The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos.
But all we hear in the nation's capital, which is the source of those catastrophes, is a whimper from the Democratic Party, muttering and nattering about "unity" and "bipartisanship," in a situation that calls for bold action to immediately reverse the present course.

These are the Democrats who were brought to power in November by an electorate fed up with the war, furious at the Bush Administration, and counting on the new majority in Congress to represent the voters. But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.

The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government."

The "ends" referred to in the Declaration are the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." True, no government in the history of the nation has been faithful to those ends. Favors for the rich, neglect of the poor, massive violence in the interest of continental and world expansion—that is the persistent record of our government.

Still, there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the President to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.

The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Representative John Conyers, who held extensive hearings and introduced an impeachment resolution when the Republicans controlled Congress, is now head of the House Judiciary Committee and in a position to fight for such a resolution. He has apparently been silenced by his Democratic colleagues who throw out as nuggets of wisdom the usual political palaver about "realism" (while ignoring the realities staring them in the face) and politics being "the art of the possible" (while setting limits on what is possible).

I know I'm not the first to talk about impeachment. Indeed, judging by the public opinion polls, there are millions of Americans, indeed a majority of those polled, who declare themselves in favor if it is shown that the President lied us into war (a fact that is not debatable). There are at least a half-dozen books out on impeachment, and it's been argued for eloquently by some of our finest journalists, John Nichols and Lewis Lapham among them. Indeed, an actual "indictment" has been drawn up by a former federal prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega, in a new book called United States v. George W. Bush et al, making a case, in devastating detail, to a fictional grand jury.

There is a logical next step in this development of an impeachment movement: the convening of "people's impeachment hearings" all over the country. This is especially important given the timidity of the Democratic Party. Such hearings would bypass Congress, which is not representing the will of the people, and would constitute an inspiring example of grassroots democracy.

These hearings would be the contemporary equivalents of the unofficial gatherings that marked the resistance to the British Crown in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The story of the American Revolution is usually built around Lexington and Concord, around the battles and the Founding Fathers. What is forgotten is that the American colonists, unable to count on redress of their grievances from the official bodies of government, took matters into their own hands, even before the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

Throughout the nation's history, the failure of government to deliver justice has led to the establishment of grassroots organizations, often ad hoc, dissolving after their purpose was fulfilled. For instance, after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, knowing that the national government could not be counted on to repeal the act, black and white anti-slavery groups organized to nullify the law by acts of civil disobedience. They held meetings, made plans, and set about rescuing escaped slaves who were in danger of being returned to their masters.

In the desperate economic conditions of 1933 and 1934, before the Roosevelt Administration was doing anything to help people in distress, local groups were formed all over the country to demand government action. Unemployed Councils came into being, tenants' groups fought evictions, and hundreds of thousands of people in the country formed self-help organizations to exchange goods and services and enable people to survive.

More recently, we recall the peace groups of the 1980s, which sprang up in hundreds of communities all over the country, and provoked city councils and state legislatures to pass resolutions in favor of a freeze on nuclear weapons. And local organizations have succeeded in getting more than 400 city councils to take a stand against the Patriot Act.

Impeachment hearings all over the country could excite and energize the peace movement. They would make headlines, and could push reluctant members of Congress in both parties to do what the Constitution provides for and what the present circumstances demand: the impeachment and removal from office of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Simply raising the issue in hundreds of communities and Congressional districts would have a healthy effect, and would be a sign that democracy, despite all attempts to destroy it in this era of war, is still alive.

Mainstream liberals - Court Jesters in the service of King George

This article from last October in the London Review of Books more eloquently states what I've tried to say for a few years now about mainstream liberals. We can include people like Barack Obama and Hillary in their ilk- are they still calling Hillary a liberal?

Although the term "liberal" has been so bastardized by both the left and right in the narrow political spectrum of the mainstream media, like many other terms in our Orwellian national "dialogue" (including the term dialogue, "liberal" has come to be used in reference to something the term originally had nothing to do with - specifically, court jesters in the service of the power apparatus.

The most obvious examples of court jestering are liberal celebrities, specifically Bono, who routinely "courts" world leaders while wearing ridiculous looking over-sized pink sunglasses. An entire liberal radio network called Air America featured hosts whose primary occupations were professional comedians. And how many political punk bands are there who dress almost literally like clowns, sing about their system not working for me and then sign contracts for a record label owned by a major media conglomerate, and expect me to take them seriously?

But at least these celebrities, however bad their approach, are opposed to the Iraq war.

This article takes on the liberal intelligentsia, particularly those who favored the war at the outset, and who now, in their big media outlets, refuse to even consider that whatever the US does is at all unjust and pure.Bush’s Useful Idiots: Tony Judt on the Strange Death of Liberal America
Magazines and newspapers of the traditional liberal centre – the New Yorker, the New Republic, the Washington Post and the New York Times itself – fell over themselves in the hurry to align their editorial stance with that of a Republican president bent on exemplary war. A fearful conformism gripped the mainstream media. And America’s liberal intellectuals found at last a new cause.
In today’s America, neo-conservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig-leaf. There really is no other difference between them.
This was followed by a response from a few American liberals who I have no interest in (Ackerman and Gitlin - "A-G" below), popular with people who read the New York Times and other garbage, then that response was commented on by Edward Herman, a man who actually does challenge US power in his writings.
In short, an imperial and militarized state will use its military power relentlessly, and the feedback effects of this chronic warfare are inevitably going to entail encroachments on domestic freedom. But A-G can’t confront this deeper relationship and challenge militarism and the imperial state. They adapt to it, and in the process “liberal principles” are compromised and thrust aside, and the liberals do in fact serve as the imperial state’s “useful idiots.”