Sunday, September 30, 2007

god protected us from the peaceful protesters

Saw this atrocious news conference from the DA for Lousiana's 28th Judicial District, home to Jena, site of the now infamous incident which has caused the Jena 6 affair. This man, Reed Walters, is quite a piece of work. He told the Jena 6 that he could make their lives miserable. Nothing was done when those black children were on the receiving end of white intimidation via nooses hung in a tree after they had been told that no, black kids could not rest under that tree. Then, after nothing was done to the white kids, the black kids were charged with murder owing to a fight in which they'd used (I swear I'm not making this up) their shoes. And yes, in spite of the fact that this student was allegedly the target of an attempted murder, he, uh went to a party that night. So yeah, you know that attempted murder, with, uh, shoes, must have been harsh. Must have had nearly a shoe mark on their behinds. Honestly........

And then, after Walters decides that Mychal Bell, one of the six who had been charged as an adult will only be charged as a child, he has the nerve to hold the above press conference. Yes, how did that guy and all those around him survive such possible savagery from all those big scary black people. Yes, it must have been the big man upstairs, the big JC, etc. Yeah, had nothing to do with black people simply being, you know, exactly the same as white people in that they just want what everyone wants and that they will endure hardships and tolerate bad conditions and the ignorance and harsh words of people who just don't understand. So yes, Reed Walters, yeah, it's not that, you know, black people and sympathetic people of other races can, you know, behave themselves in the pursuit of a higher goal. It's that the big JC protected you from those typically savage black people. Yeah, that's it.

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PBS' "The War"

Have spent too long today (OK, nearly 7 hours) watching Ken Burns' "The War". It is compelling, riveting stuff. As Burns says at the end of one of the episodes, he doesn't employ any talking heads to discuss it. He doesn't need any because the men who participated in it are still alive. He focuses on the stories of a few men whose stories are, well, emblematic. He goes into detail with the soldiers' families, in offering a look at the effect of war production on the economies of an area (Mobile, Alabama most specifically), and focuses on several towns-Sacramento, Waterbury CT, Mobile, and Luverne MN which provides the perspective on the war from big and little towns, east and west, industrial and rural. I'm still watching it because I did not get to see the shows when they were shown for the first time this past week. Still, the remembrances with the veterans, the film and still pictures, the accounts of the vets, are amazingly compelling and one doesn't hear the sometimes staid, removed, large-scale commentary on the strategy and tactics of the war plan. These are immediate, specific, graphic memories of a tragic (not that there is any other kind) war. It is most definitely required viewing.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

floods in Africa

Does anyone know they're going on? I must admit, I've read a bit about them, but I'm a bit of a news junkie. Still, it's hard to track, beyond a superficial depth, the extent of the disasters in such varied areas.

There is obviously Iraq, the ongoing mess that is the Middle East where it seems one particularly rash or even more extreme by someone in the Middle East and it seems dominoes are ready to fall; there was a massive earthquake in Peru last month, there was another big earthquake in Indonesia a couple of days ago, less than three years after the massive damage inflicted by the huge tsunami of 2004.

There were forest fires in Greece which killed 37, but of which I'm keenly aware because of some family. And in the wake of those fires, vague zoning laws have allowed for the possibility of large-scale theft of land. And then of course, there were the worst floods Britain has seen in some time during the summer. And while of course this damage in Britain is bad, the country is to a great degree insured against natural disasters. Being an island in a fairly mild climate, buffered by the moderating Gulfstream which keeps weather in Britain fairly mild, Britain is, long-term, not at the significant risk that Peru (often vulnerable to earthquakes) and southeast Asia, very vulnerable to earthquakes and floods, are.

Still an' all, these are by most accounts, the worst floods in Africa in a long time. They've affected a wide swath of sub-Saharan Africa, from Mauritania and Burkina Faso in the west, across the Cameroon, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Niger, and the forlorn Sudan. Sudan-whose accursed citizens must think they were evil in another lifetime to warrant such pain in this life. The floods have also ravaged Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Ghana. Altogether, estimates put the number of those affected directly (via loss of home) at 1.5 million. In Uganda, over 300,000 are negatively affected and are reliant on non-profit aide for at least the next six months. That number is 60,000 in Togo where 30,000 homes have been washed away as well as six dams. In Ghana the number is 75,000 needing immediate and sustained NGO or government assistance.

Sudan, one of the largest African countries, has been perhaps the worst hit, with 500,000 needing above-mentioned help and 113 perishing in the floods. The cost of providing for such large numbers of the sick and infirm is $64 million in Uganda. This is a challenging fund-raising goal but is quite achievable if the West set its mind to it. Of course, given the financial incentives, will the Western media devote sustained attention to Africa? Survey says: don't bet on it.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Katie Couric

Well, it seems things are not bad enough for Katie Couric to call out the Bush administration on the war. In this interview with Marvin Kalb of the Kennedy School of Government, Couric says that "unless something is really egregious", it's not her role to call the government on it. I'm just wondering how many dead soldiers, how many lies, how dire the Civil War, how corrupt the Iraqi government, how degraded and insecure the Middle East, how downright FUBAR the whole situation must get before Ms. Couric does her job.

It's pretty ironic because she did admit just recently that she felt some heat-though really, is that all it takes to dissuade corporate journalists (rhetorical question, don't really expect answer) from asking some questions? (And has Katie Couric ever really done a tough interview? I think that is a Kafkaesque question). And with regard to the Petraeus report, she said recently that she saw what the military wanted. So she admitted several weeks ago that she had been propagandized. Then in this more recent interview Couric says that unless things are "egregious", she won't report on them. But this suggests the Platonic story of the cave. If you're in a hole and you know you're in a hole, how can you question the severity of what is going on outside? You've already admitted that you're not getting an unvarnished view, so how can you question whether you truly understand whether what you're seeing is untainted or unmediated by outside influences? Katie Couric does not ask tough questions, and I really don't expect a whole lot more at this point. I'm jaded enough that my expectations are quite low. But to have to tolerate the dog-and-pony show of her distortions and half-truths is intolerable.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The hits keep coming

For a guy who's this headstrong, the signs, well, hell, who cares about the signs. Still, I think Barney must have made his public stance on Iraq clear recently. Now, it turns out his daughter Jenna parts with her father on family planning. His family planning: only do it when you want a child; hers-be smart, be educated. Imagine that. Well, she may have learnt it at home because apparently her mother thinks similarly. Well, Bush's stubbornness was about Iraq but we can see a dry drunk who views every policy through the lens of ideology doesn't see things rationally. How can you, when you put party over policy, or over country?

And then, this from Nancy Pelosi. See, we've come to know George W. Bush is a tool, a douche, a fucktard, a hoser, a dope, etc. But one would expect more from the (alleged) opposition party. But not only is Pelosi adamant at the end of the video that impeachment has always and will always be off the table regarding Bush, as long as she is speaker, but she claims fatuously that this is the Republicans' war and that she could not have facilitated an end to the funding for the war-as if she and her majority whips had no resources or mettle by which to end the war. She has plenty of pull as the Speaker of the House and she could have used it. She obviously doesn't care. And for her to get all pissy with Wolf Blitzer is truly the height of pique. I think her botox nearly exploded there. This is really the worst kind of CYAism (Cover Your Ass) and it's a shoddy job at that. For her to attempt to attribute this war to the Repubs is completely untenable. Dems have too often sold their souls and I sure hope Cindy Sheehan can beat Pelosi. Pelosi is doing the worst sort of covering, and for an almost unbelievably immoral administration. It's not just their war. And the more you, Nancy Pelosi, claim it is, the less it is.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Falafel O'Reilly learns black people are human

Well, apparently, it's been a busy day for Falafel O'Reilly. He must be a bit more informed and a bit more worldly today. He "has learned" that black people are human, that they do not need to use profanity to order food, that "their" restaurants work largely like "other" restaurants. Here are some other things that Falafel O'Loofah has learned.

Perhaps more perversely though, Falafel also says that black people are "starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out."


Again, the ignorance-actually, I don't believe for a second that it is ignorance with Falafel. He knows what side his bread is buttered on and he'll say anything to lather up his base. It's like throwing raw meat to sharks. Still......this is amazing......President Bush is destroying the world, this man is underestimating the intelligence and independence of black people, but will he continue to work at FAUX? You betcha. I mean, how does he think black folks (I'm not black) survived 400 years here being treated shittily? By virtue of their connections? On the grounds of their political legacies? Hell no.....on their wits. I mean, to survive and thrive as black people have done and continue to do, given so few breaks along the way, Falafel O'Loofah you haftabefuckinkiddinme.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

smorgasbord of bad things....

(updated at bottom)

I've been seeing so many bad things over the last couple of months and I've been wanting to consider them for some time so some of these are dated. That said, these issues have been knawing at me for some time and it's important to give them ass much daylight as possible so all, uh, 0 readers of this blog, can know about them. Anyway, herewith, some large portions of my head the last couple months:

  • If one of the most horrific casualties of the last 6.5 years of Clusterfuck of America isn't Jose Padilla, I don't know who is. It would appear from this transcript of Democracy Now that Jose Padilla has undergone Stockholm Syndrome and was concerned about possible ill effects that his testimony might have on the Bush administration. That is to say, he had been so brainwashed that he had been convinced of the justness of the Bush administration and the persecuting tendencies of an allegedly hostile media and society. I listened to the show and it's frequently heartbreaking, but this one was sad to an even greater extent. Given that Padilla had been held for over 3.5 years without ANY access to anyone. He was kept in extreme isolation, to the extent that he was denied access even to a lawyer for all that time. Reading his lawyer's reflections and thoughts about Padilla's state of mind and his experience in detention, it is truly tragic that a man against whom charges were diminished significantly as the Bush administration attempted to avoid the embarassment of one of its allegedly key victories in the war on turrr amounting to nothing, has of course been most grievously affected by such unjust and finally unjustified treatment. To hear his lawyer reflecting on Padilla's experiences and his state of mind now which seems to have been irreparably harmed by his detention experiences is one of the saddest, and most tragic things I have ever read.

  • The recent surge "debate" has also been one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. Really, it's no wonder Americans like movies which are completely incoherent and just a clusterfuck of ill-conceived and irrational premises. I'm not averse to the occasional escapist movie, but it doesn't seem to matter how stupid or ridiculous a movie is, it's described by too many viewers as awesome or kick-ass, or whatever. When I point out the complete severing from reality and physical laws, I see eyes glaze over and/or the old canard, aw shoot, it's just one movie. But yet all these ridiculous movies make a lot of money. My point is Americans seem to have a high tolerance for bullshit. They can claims simultaneously that they are attached to reality while enjoying movies like "Saw" and its sequel, all the Scary Movie movies, "Hostel" (when I've been to Mexico and met Americans who didn't even know what a youth hostel was!!!!! (unthinkable for a young European traveller), and numerous others.

    So it's not surprising that they'll tolerate bullshit from Tony Snow about the supposed, well at least not failure, and possibly success, of the surge, regardless of the fact that casualties have actually gotten larger overall in Iraq. Yeah, perhaps they've gotten smaller in Baghdad. That's where most of the surge troops were posted. It's just that the violence migrated to other parts of the country instead.

  • Well, on a positive note, I should include some wonderful music videos which I found recently. The first one is an incendiary-seriously, make sure your computer isn't too hot when you play this because this performance might just ignite the battery-performance by the late, great, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Stevie Wonder, back in '86. Stevie Ray had asked to visit Stevie Wonder and Stevie obliged and you get the whole performance, live and uninterrupted. The second one is Stevie Wonder doing "Higher Ground" back in the day, just a live bass, rhythm section, again, make sure you are using your computer in a freezer because the heat of this performance might just set your computer off. And the third one is a bit more Stevie Ray Vaughan, this time at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1988, tearing through an old favorite, "Willie The Wimp."

  • OK, one more hit. Ahmadinejad was in New York today, speaking at the United Nations and Columbia. Of course the media gets its knickers in a twist over "such a controversial" figure being here. And yeah, Ahmadinejad's views on the Holocaust are disgraceful, his view that there are no gay people in Iran is disgraceful. But again, we have helped people like Laurent Kabila, Mobutu Sese Seko; we've supported people like Carlos Menem who went along with the IMF dismantling of the Argentine economy and has been investigated for some time over corruption charges; we've supported people like Fujimori of Chile who is under investigation for financial abuses and human rights violations. And now, Ahmadinejad, who is clearly the other side of the same coin from W, is using official American antagonism toward Iran (it ain't comin' from me-no Iranian ever hurt me) to strengthen support for his leadership. And really, when someone is backed into a corner, is it surprising that their people will stick to their side?.

    Still an' all, what has Ahmadinejad done to America yet? They tried to reach an agreement with us in 2003 in order to avoid conflict in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad has claimed that Iran is conducting nuclear development in order to increase their industrial capacity which is well within their rights. They are adhering to IAEA guidelines on the development of nuclear power. So really, there is no problem except Bush being pestered by his right wing and some of the religious fanatics in his group to hit Iran. That's it.

UPDATE: added spaces between links to three music videos.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

school district disparities

As a teacher-even a substitute teacher-who has worked in different school districts and in areas which vary greatly socio-economically, going to a school today which is obviously well funded by its tax base and local taxes, it was astonishing to see the difference between the level of local services available in this school in the Chaffey School District and my friendly local Rialto Unified. I love Rialto and perhaps even prefer it, having worked there the last 5.5 years. And I'm really not surprised by the quality of the school in Chaffey; ok, it was Los Osos High. Anyway, this is what high school should be. There should be sufficient amenities for students, an acceptable physical plant, and resources for teachers as they wish (at least within reason) also. And the teachers in Rialto do all they can. It's just...well, after registering with Chaffey in order to cut down on the length of my commute, it's just eye-opening to see know, functioning, adequate school and all the corresponding amenities. Today was the first day there. It was just....well, it felt like a college campus. I couldn't believe how well-behaved the students were. After working so long at Rialto, one is on edge a bit during class....I was nearly expecting flare-ups.....and they didn't happen. Again, this is not a reflection on the students in Rialto. They are born into the world in which they live. They don't shape it too much as youngsters. Stil an' all, it's just amazing to see such a well-appointed and adequately funded school and district...and of course the cruelest irony is that Rialto is only about 15 miles away (and of course there are other better schools between Chaffey and Rialto). Such a short distance, such major gaps in educational funding.