Archive for January 2008

“No child left a dime”- Bush the education president

January 30, 2008


The lame duck presidency of probably one of the worst presidents in US history is about to end. The squandering of billions on war and tax cuts to the rich proves once again that budgets are moral documents and this presidency has been immoral. Greg Palast ridicules Bush’s swan song (State of the Union)in this manner:

Here’s your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 not among them.”

Palast concludes:” Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan – which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.”

McCain and Rambo:”Bomb,bomb, bomb Iran.”

January 27, 2008

Does the world need another Rambo movie?

Apparently it does. He’s back. The violent thug who became a metaphor for mindless violence has yet another film which will appeal to the terminally adolescent and the inevitably frustrated.

Stallone has a lot to answer for. Screen life is very persuasive. The arts in themselves create a culture. Look at the damage Leon Uris did to Middle East peace with his bogus 50 million look at the middle east. Then there was the movie (1960) which has framed the whole discussion. Diaspora Jewry which has never visited the “Holy land” still thinks that Israel is pristine. The Occupation and its interminable oppression.  Back to Stallone.

Rambo was coterminous with the ugly Reagan Revolution (”America is back” and causing havoc everywhere) and American exceptionalism. But there were still a hand full of vets left behind in Vietnam which Rambo had to get. Never mind the million plus Vietnamese who paid the price for American hubris. Go get ‘em Rambo.Reagan of course paved the way for Bush and the Iraq War.

No surprise that Stallone is supporting the neanderthal John McCain as described by journalist Johann Hari:

McCain is third-generation navy royalty, raised from a young age to be a senior figure in the Armed Forces, like his father and grandfather before him. He was sent to one of the most elite boarding schools in America, then to a naval academy where he ranked 894th out of 899 students in ability. He used nepotism to get ahead: when he was rejected by the National War College, he used his father’s contacts with the Secretary of the Navy to make them reconsider. He then swiftly married the heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune.

Right up to his twenties, he remained a strikingly violent man, “ready to fight at the drop of a hat”, according to his biographer Robert Timberg. This rage seems to be at the core of his personality: describing his own childhood, McCain has written: “At the smallest provocation I would go off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath until I blacked out.”

But he claims he was transformed by his experiences in Vietnam – a war he still defends as “noble” and “winnable”, if only it had been fought harder. (More than three million Vietnamese died; how much harder could it be?) His plane was shot down on a bombing raid over Hanoi, and he was captured and tortured for five years. To this day, he cannot lift his arms high enough to comb his own hair.

On his release, he used his wife’s fortune to run to as a Republican senator. He was a standard-issue Reaganite corporate Republican – until the Keating Five corruption scandal consumed him. In 1987, it was revealed that McCain, along with four other senators, had taken huge campaign donations from a fraudster called Charles Keating. In return they pressured government regulators not to look too hard into Keating’s affairs, allowing him to commit even more fraud. McCain later admitted: “I did it for no other reason than I valued [Keating’s] support.”

McCain took the only course that could possibly preserve his reputation: he turned the scandal into a debate about the political system, rather than his own personal corruption. He said it showed how “we need to drive the special interests out of Washington”, and became a high-profile campaigner for campaign finance reform. But privately, his behaviour hasn’t changed much. For example, in 2000 he lobbied federal regulators hard on behalf of a major campaign contributor, Paxson Communications, in an act the regulators spluttered was “highly unusual”. He has never won an election without outspending his opponent.

But McCain has distinguished himself most as an über-hawk on foreign policy. To give a brief smorgasbord of his views: at a recent rally, he sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”. He says North Korea should be threatened with “extinction”.

Castro the theologian

January 24, 2008

I had no idea that Fidel Castro was somewhat of a biblical scholar, a budding
master of midrash.
Here is  Fidel’s reflection of G W Bush selling millions of dollars of fighter jets to the Saudis. 

 “We are grateful for Bush playing his part as one of the Wise Men, visiting the place where the son on the carpenter Joseph was born, if  truly someone knows where the exact spot of that humble crib is, where the Nazarene was born.  The leader of the empire bears the gift, this time,  of tens of billions of dollars to the Arab countries to buy weapons that  come from the industrial-military complex; and at the same time, two dollars  for  every one supplied to them to arm the state of Israel, where the United Nations agency which tackles the subject assures us that 3.5 million Palestinians have been deprived of their rights or expelled from their territory.     His obsessive instrument is to threaten the world with nuclear war. Only he is capable of bearing this Epiphany Gift.”  Not bad. 

Another neoliberal catastrophe

January 22, 2008

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalistic System was to debauch the currency. . . Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million can diagnose.”

– John Maynard Keynes,The Economic Consequences of the Peace,1920, page 235ff


The current financial meltdown signifies the utter greed and neoliberal policies inflicted on us by the corporations and the politicians they have rented. prewdatory capitalism which roams the world with few or any breaks on its voraciousness is a direct result of Reaganism (which already gave us the Savings and Loans Scandal of 15 years ago),Thatcherism, Mike Harris and GW bush—true believers who actually believe that the market must be given absolute free rein, safeguards to protect the common good must be abolished (deregulation) and government in general must get to hell out of the way.


The subprime mortgage catastrophe  is a classic example of all of the above. No due diligence by these financial institutions. They are the same people who sat on Conrad Black’s board, pocketed their per diems and looked away.

Can one in a million diagnose this kleptocracy? 





And the world stands by

January 21, 2008



We, the Israeli organizations signed below, deplore the decision by the Israeli government to cut off vital supplies of electricity and fuel (and therefore water, since the pumps cannot work), as well as essential foodstuffs, medicines and other humanitarian supplies to the civilian population of Gaza. Such an action constitutes a clear and unequivocal crime against humanity.

Prof. John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, called the Israeli government’s actions “serious war crimes” for which its political and military officials should be prosecuted and punished. The killing of more than 40 civilians this past week violates, he said, “the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention. It also violates one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.” Indeed, the very legal framework invoked by the Israeli government to carry out this illegal and immoral act – declaring Gaza a “hostile entity” within a “conflict short of war” – has absolutely no standing in international law.

We call on the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, to lead the Security Council to a decisive decision to end the siege on Gaza when it meets in emergency session on Wednesday.

We call on the governments of the world, and in particular the American government and the European Parliament, to censure Israel’s actions and, in light of recent attempts to revive the diplomatic process, to end all attacks on civilians, including the continuing demolition of Palestinian homes at an alarming rate.

We call upon the Jews of the world in whose name the Israeli government purports to speak, and upon their rabbis and communal leaders in particular, to speak out unequivocally against this offense to the very moral core of Jewish values.

And we call upon the peoples of the world to let their officials and leaders know of their repudiation of this cruel, illegal and immoral act – an act that stands out in its cruelty even in an already oppressive Israeli Occupation.

We condemns attacks on all civilians, and we acknowledge the suffering of the residents of Sderot. Still, those attacks do not justify the massive disproportionality of Israeli sanctions over a million and half civilians of Gaza, in particular in light of Israel’s oppressive 40 year occupation. Such violations of international law by a government are especially egregious and must be denounced and punished if the very system of human rights and international law is to be preserved.

The Israeli government’s decision to punish Gaza’s civilian population, with all the human suffering that entails, constitutes State Terrorism against innocent people. Only when Israeli policy-makers are held accountable for their actions and international law upheld will a just peace be possible in the Middle East.


The Alternative Information Center  *  Bat Tsafon  *  Gush Shalom  *  The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)  *  Physicians for Human Rights  *  Coalition of Women for Peace

Why we fight—a real gem

January 13, 2008

Why We Fight tonite at 10 PM on Newsworld is one of those docs which we should see and own.

725 American bases in 135 countries defines the US today, an empire which refuses to call itself by that name and whose people are really not imperialists.

How did it get that way?


Despite the constant presence of talking hewads this film never flags in interest and once again we are treated to the remebrance of the absolute brilliance of President Eisenhower’s final warning before he left office: Beware the military industrial complex, the swinging door between the military and industry, the role of the lobbyists in fomenting the constant fear of the enemy. Eisenhower’s family figures prominently in this film as well as brilliant analysts like former CIA man Chalmers Johnson.

Eisenhower’s warning 

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society”

has materialized and given the world the noxious world of Haliburton, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, men who have twisted the American experience with all its promise into dreck.

Just the facts, mam

January 6, 2008

As sergeant Joe Friday of Dragnet fames used to say,”Just the facts, mam.” And this is about all you need to know about Israel/Palestine courtesy of B’tselem, the fantastic Israeli Human rights organization.Last year 2007,  373 Palestinians were killed and 9 Israelis. such is the brute force and power of the Israeli state. The following is part of their year end report. 

The right to life:

A comparison between 2007 and 2006 reveals a decrease in Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, and a decrease in those cases that raise the suspicion of arbitrary killing. However, the figures for 2007 still give cause for concern.

In 2007 (up to 29 December), Israeli security forces killed 373 Palestinians (290 in Gaza , 83 in the West Bank ), 53 among them minors. By comparison, in 2006, 657 Palestinians were killed, including 140 minors: 523 in Gaza , 134 in the West Bank . In 2007, about 35 percent of those killed were civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities when killed. This is a reduction in comparison with the number of casualties who did not participate in the hostilities in 2006, which was 54 percent, (348 persons).

Palestinians killed seven Israeli civilians (three in a suicide attack in Eilat, two in Sderot by Qassam attacks, and two by gunfire in the West Bank ). This is the lowest number of Israeli civilian casualties since the beginning of the Intifada. Palestinians also killed six Israeli security forces. In 2006, Palestinians killed 17 Israeli civilians.


24 years of Clinton-Bush?

January 4, 2008

It may be that Americans are coming to their senses. The victory of Barack Obama in the Iowa primary gives cautious optimism for the future of the damaged superpower, caught in the vise of corporate greed and warmaking stupidity for far too long. The Democratic party has been hopeless until now reading the tea leaves of its own people.     It was Michael Moore who first tapped into the populist rage against the hijacking of the best American values. His courageous stands forged in his working class Catholicism has set the stage for the unmasking  of the One Party with Two Wings that the Clintons, Kerry et al have managed to prop up for far too long. They have almost totally abandoned working people. When faced with the honest party of greed and corporate power (the Republicans) and Republican Lite (the Democrats) the people chose the vicious Karl Rove brand, a capitalist party smothered with the patina of bad religion.  Only Dennis Kucinich and Michael Moore came anywhere near the truth.   Now listen to second place finisher John Edwards  “Corporate greed has infiltrated everything that’s happening in this democracy. It’s time for us to say, ‘We’re not going to let our children’s future be stolen by these people.’ The gloves are off. Now it get’s interesting.


January 2, 2008

I thought Tom Hanks was fairly intelligent until I saw the ghastly movie he and Julia Roberts are flogging. Just what was he thinking elevating to mythic status a half baked Congessional nitwit named Charlie Wilson. Boycott this dreck! Great sport creating mayhem in Afghanistan in the 80s! Let’s have some fun in a Muslim country  supporting the mujahedeen against the Soviets!  No mention that these guys morphed into the Taliban and Al Qaeda..none at all. Even the omniscient Toronto star columnist  Rosie Dimanno (an expert on every subject) scoffs at the hagiography now transforming the Bhutto family ( Leaders of Pakistan for Life) into Pakistan’s saviours. Our Rosie quite correctly points to the rise of Islamofascism aided and abetted by dopes like Charlie Wilson and other geopolitical chess players like the Bhuttos.Now Hollywood is on it—while movies like In the Valley of Elah sink like a stone. Rent this one—boycott Charlie’s War! 

The Devil on Madison Ave

January 1, 2008

It is consoling beyond words  that Holy Mother the Church has vowed to “fight the Devil head-on” by training hundreds of priests as exorcists.On Sunday Dec 31  the Vatican through its Chief Exorcist Padre Gabriel Amorth announced this exciting new initiative. Under plans being considered, each bishop would have a group of priests in his diocese who were specially trained in exorcism and on hand to take action against “extreme Godlessness”.“Thanks be to God that we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on,” Father Amorth was quoted as saying. The good father had become saddened that not too many had taken the devil seriously in the past number of years. Apparently this new move eventuated because of the present pope’s concern with the supposed rise of Satanism. No doubt evil is a constant in our world, largely as the deformation of good.
One good place to start would be on Madison avenue the home of false desires, the ad agencies serving the infantilist ethos of turbocapitalism. In a world where too many have basic needs unmet, the capitalist system voraciously stokes the hungry maw of superficial needs of the overfed and overpampered. Corporate culture  shamelessly targets children at the earliest ages convincing them that more junk in their lives will eventuate in happiness. 8 hours a day via many media this nonsense is in our face—hard to ignore.It creates false needs, breaks our solidarity with the oppressed and puts us asleep.The devil lives on Madison Ave. Go get him, Padre.