Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Little Experiment

Lettuce can be problematic to store for more than a few days. You eventually get that slimy mold, and leaf wilt.

I happened to remember that you can clone plants by cutting off a branch and sticking it in some dirt or water. In a week or so roots will begin to grow from the place it's cut off. Until the roots begin to grow and take up water, however, you have to keep the leaves from drying out, either by constantly spraying them, or you can put a plastic bag over the plant. If you do that, you have to cut some slits in the bag so air circulates, otherwise that slimy mold will grow on the leaves.


I tried putting a head of leaf lettuce in some water and putting a bag over it and setting it on the counter. It's hard to see them but I cut slits in the bag here and there.

After a week this is what I have. I haven't had to add water. The lettuce looks good. The leaves are kind of dry to the touch. They almost don't feel dry because they are kind of cool and flexible, like a plant growing in the garden, I guess. There's no slime on them at all.

Sometimes things work out and I'm elated.

I just used an old bag that a loaf of bread came in. I'm too cheap to buy plastic bags when so many things come in plastic bags now and you see so many plastic shopping bags blowing in the wind.






Monday, September 21, 2015

The End Of The End of Socialism

"“I’m delighted to be on this stage with some remarkable fellow Republicans,” announced former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at the opening of the main debate. “None of us are a self-professed socialist.”

So said the candidate who is polling at 1 percent in New Hampshire about the candidate who is polling at 43 percent."

Writes John Nichols of The Nation. The ability of conservatives to use "socialism" and related terms as epithets is taking another big hit with the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist of the European variety -- basically what a liberal Democrat is here --a term that never meant anything bad in Europe.

Polling showing that younger Americans have just as favorable a view of Socialism as they do of Capitalism is of course related to the fact that those of us who grew up being indoctrinated by Cold War propaganda are well on our way to becoming a minority.

That propaganda, despite its anti USSR content, was meant not to discredit the Soviet Union, which US policy makers knew not to be a threat to the US, but Socialism, which beginning in the late 19th and early 20th century had become a legitimate electoral force in the US, until it was all but co-opted by Roosevelt and the New Deal.

But the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, which is essentially a reaction to the failure of 40 years of savage Neoliberal Reaganomics Capitalism to improve the lives of the vast majority of Americans, is also an indication that people of all ages are giving Socialism another look.











Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Stirring In Israel

Was Bibi Netanyahu's and AIPAC's failure to stop "the Iran deal", when even trusted congressional friends like Debbie Wasserman Schutz bailed on Israel, a watershed moment?

In Israel it's not changed the conversation much at all. Opinion columns still say things like "The Iran deal is saturated with the poisonous stench of the impending death of the West" and Israel remains a self contained world of dreams and nightmares -- of Greater Israel and a place free of antisemitism, of never ending holocausts.

But prominent and upcoming political star Yair Lapid, leader of the Yest Atid Party, which he created during the 2013 election cycle to represent centrist, secular Middle Class Jews and which immediately became the second most powerful party in the Knesset, is now admitting publicly that Israel has been the obstacle to peace with the Palestinians and must begin negotiating for peace in good faith  -- on the basis of the Saudi initiated, 2002 Arab League proposal, no less, which is far fairer to the Palestinians than anything the US or Israel have ever been willing to consider.

It's significant that someone of Lapid's stature utters for the first time publicly what the rest of the world (outside of Israel and the Washington Beltway) more or less agrees to now, that Israel has not seriously considered peace and has used the "peace process" as cover to build more settlements and steal more Palestinian land. Although Israelis in general acknowledge that the worldwide political landscape vis a vis Israel has changed and is still changing, that they have lost support worldwide, significantly in Europe, and worry that the BDS Movement may have legs, most haven't accepted the significance yet of "the Iran deal." Its general acceptance in US policy making circles means rapprochement with Iran will eventually occur, that there's been a shift in US strategic goals, but in Israel they seem to see Israel's future as doubling down on the status quo and going it alone, if need be, even without unconditional US support.

Lapid, who says Israel has become a wing of the Republican Party, apparently has a grasp on what that means for Israel's future; 2016 could be the Republican Party's last stand before demographics overwhelm it, and he doesn't even think the election in 2016 of a more Israel friendly president than Barak Obama has been will change the equation for Israel.

Lapid has been one of Benjamin Netanyahu's most outspoken mainstream critics. Until recently he's focused on economic issues and echoed the standard line about Israel's policies vis a vis Palestine, but has taken a hard turn to the Left and is expanding his criticism of Netanyahu's foreign policy to include some of Israels most cherished, longstanding policy assumptions, as outlined in an article today's Jerusalem Post.



 










Saturday, September 19, 2015

Syria

Syria isn't a big campaign issue yet. There are a few veiled references to it but any serious candidate knows they'll be faced with trying to explain what they're trying to do in the Middle East, and the US role there is changing.

Russian President Vladmir Putin talks about Syria - official photo
If you've noticed, the US media is in the process of coming up with a new narrative on Syria, as, faced with viral pictures of dead babies on the beach and European countries' reluctance to accept millions of Syrian refugees, the Obama Administration is abandoning its failed Syria regime change strategy, and seeking help in stemming the Middle East-wide, massive jihadist backlash the Bush-Obama policies have created, from parties the media usually demonizes in its role as US government propagandists -- like Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime itself.

The easiest way I've found to keep up with things like this is to get a sense of them from the foreign press, which tell varying stories but which are usually stripped of the excuses and doublespeak US media has to use to justify their official government sources' previous propaganda and their own role in promoting it, then read the US media. It makes it easier to see what's being alluded to between the lines. And it's there-- the US media is hinting at the truth, that the Middle East is a big mess of US making.

This update on the Syria situation from independent French journalist Thierry Meysan has been translated into English.






Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Feds Punish New Mexico For Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture

New Mexico is apparently being punished by federal law enforcement for ending the practice of allowing police to seize property and money from suspects.

Susana Martinez - Abq Journal
New Mexico's legislature earlier this year passed a law that prevented Civil Asset Forfeiture -- i.e., law enforcement agencies being able to seize money or property from mere suspects. Governor Susana Martinez signed the legislation into law in April.

Many people didn't like the practice because it allows police to take your money and property even if you haven't been convicted of a crime -- and keep it even if you are never convicted.

Besides the fact that it amounts to theft and goes against the principal of "innocent until proven guilty" there have been cases of mistaken identity where people didn't get their money or property back and also instances when police simply used it to steal money.

But when New Mexico outlawed Civil Asset Forfeiture, the federal government responded by kicking New Mexico out of another program -- the Equitable Sharing Program -- by which the states and federal government share assets taken from people who have actually been convicted of crimes.

This is according to a couple of news web sites that track law enforcement. It came to light because of some leaked emails in California. New Mexico so far is the only state to outlaw Civil Asset Forfeiture, but California, and several other states, are trying to outlaw it too, now, and federal law enforcement isn't happy. They are trying to derail California's reform efforts by threatening to kick them out the Equitable Sharing Program, like New Mexico was.

The reason the federal law enforcement agencies are responding like this is that they got a lot of extra money when local police agencies would bring them in on cases in order to get around restrictions on civil forfeiture.

Supposedly civil asset forfeiture laws were passed to let police go after the big narcotrafficers, but I've seen horror story articles, like the kid who was just driving to California and was stopped and robbed of all his money by some police officers, and perfectly legally.

I don't know why New Mexico hasn't been complaining. Maybe they don't know yet. State government has been in a turmoil because of some ongoing scandals. I've not heard anything about this in our media and a search at the Albuquerque Journal's web site turned up nothing.


Here are links to the articles, in:

 The Free Thought Project

The Daily Signal

Monday, September 14, 2015

Refugees From America's Wars

The president has offered to take 10,000 Middle East refugees. Some Democrats in congress are circulating a letter saying we should take 100,000. It points out that little Lebanon, population 4.5 million, has taken one million refugees.

The United States has destroyed the Middle East. We have five wars going on there right now -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Syria. The US always tries to get our "allies," or vassals, to sign onto these wars and provide bodies and bullets, but that's just for political cover for our politicians.

It's our doing that the Middle East lies in ruins. We should be hosting every single refugee there is. We should help these people start new lives, back in their homes, and stop destroying them.





Sunday, September 13, 2015

The 60s and 70s




That Facebook comment startled me. Ray Lewis, the retired Philadelphia police captain who became famous on the Left when he went to the Occupy Wall Street protests in his police officer uniform, had posted a picture of a painting of a couple making love and had commented that only sick and depraved minds would think of something like it as pornography. Ray often rails against the conservative Christianity movement.




The comment startled me because I didn't think people thought of the "60s and 70s" as a time "when people were more loving and free." There was that aspect of the Counterculture, of course. "The Counterculture" being that whole hippie thing but of course more than that, the styles, the whole liberal swing of the country and much of the world, the music and art and ideas, the opening up of peoples' minds, the liberation struggles, equality.

People who were heavily into the Counterculture held peace and love and the free expression of emotions in high regard, but my take on it was that it was just those few people thinking that and they just thought it for a little while. The mass of humanity had been influenced somewhat.

Then the Counterculture got swallowed up and overwhelmed by human nature as it was emphatically reasserted by the Reganites while Disco music cleansed all the former hippies' minds of all their silly notions so they could set them to cutting their hair and getting jobs and falling into line.

For a few years after the Counterculture petered out you'd read something about it now and then. Many in the media especially the Leftist media had been involved in it in one way or the other and were trying to come to grips with the fact that whatever their vision of a better and more loving world had been, it was starting to get further away, not closer. Why this swing to the right in the country? Why had the the Counterculture gone away? What had it been? I can't say that I've seen anything written about what happened to the Counterculture in a long time. I haven't stopped thinking about it for one minute.







Saturday, September 12, 2015

Batting Cleanup, Big Mama Thornton

1. There's heartening news out of the UK where member of parliament from the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn was elected the party's leader and by a big margin. This is something like Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic party nomination for president. If Labour ever gets the majority in parliament again and forms the government Corbyn would be prime minister, and he's now in a position to influence what the party does legislatively. Corbyn is an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians and will push back against Austerity, i.e. Neoliberalism. The photo below is Corbyn with the winner of a scholarship given by some UK Labour Party supporters  to Palestinians to study in the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn, R, with Raid Debiy

The Labour rank and file have become fed up with the party's rightward drift which matches that of Democrats in the US and began under Tony Blair, the British equivalent of Bill Clinton, and many voters have fled Labour in recent elections for smaller parties that espouse a native populism and anti immigrant racism. Clinton led the same kind of rightward shift of the Democratic Party during somewhat the same time frame, and oversaw a declining disillusioned electorate as his strategy of moving to the right economically but still espouse liberal views on some social issues, like abortion and gay marriage, to keep important donors and constituencies happy, gained hold of the party. The Labour Party establishment and Blair tried mightily to deny the leadership to Corbyn, even resorting to trying to purge members who intended to vote for him. Their displeasure with him will cause him problems leading his party in parliament despite his support among the rank and file.

This scolding by the Financial Times of Labourites who voted for Corbyn demonstrates how the media helps the conservative political establishment to limit debate and political possibilities, much as it does in the US; most of the population supports policies far to the left of those our politicians do but those policies are presented as outlandish and impractical in the media.



2. As you know, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and many other right wing media properties around the world, just bought the National Geographic magazine. Someone from Occupy Portland posted this:





3. People not just in the UK but other places in Europe are really getting fed up with their leaders. As European leaders fight over who can take the fewest refugees from the five ongoing Middle East wars they are participating in, there were big rallies all over Europe yesterday. In Copenhagen 40,000 people stood in front of parliament and shouted "refugees welcome." The Danish government had taken actions to prevent refugees from getting there, such as shutting down rail lines coming into the country from Germany., but as governments have in many places reversed itself in response to the public's disdain for them.

Copenhagen, Denmark - Mark B Knudsen photo

President Obama, who started three of the five ongoing Middle East Wars, has said he'd accept 10,000 refugees in the US -- of the millions of people he has made into refugees. No comment yet from the American people.


Pro refugee marchers approach 10 Downing St., today, London - Middle East Eye photo


Pro refugee rally in Glasgow, today - Socialist Worker photo



4. Big Mama Thornton was a Blues singer who came out of the Rhythm and Blues tradition. Her biggest hit was Hound Dog, written for her by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller after producer Johnny Otis brought them in to meet her. She recorded it in 1952 and a few years later it was recorded by Elvis to become his biggest selling single.

Such "cultural expropriation," as academics call it, or borrowing if you prefer was common and is how Rhythm and Blues became Rock and Roll -- this is still a pretty much untold story. Elvis and those guys didn't always spend their evenings on their own side of the tracks.

There's some of Big Mama's music at Archive.org, where people can post and download music that's in the public domain, meaning the copyright has expired. Here's one nice collection - on the right of that page you an choose your download format. If you search Big Mama Thornton there are other recordings.

And here's a youtube video of Big Mama performing Hound Dog, then leading some people you've heard of in a harmonica band doing Down Home Shakedown.






Logorama

An anonymous commenter on my recent post taking a swipe at advertising supplied a link to this 16 minute animated film by a French collective, which won an award at Cannes and then an Academy Award. It's in English. Hang on.


Logorama from Marc Altshuler on Vimeo.





Friday, September 11, 2015

Hang Your Heads My Fellow Americans

Barcelona, Spain - September 11, 2015 - Getty images


An article from today's papers about almost 1.5 million people marching in Barcelona in support of independence for Catalonia sent me looking around the internet for the biggest marches ever. The biggest in the US by far was against Obamacare in 2009, at between 1 and 2 million. The police didn't give an estimate for that and I got those estimates from foreign papers. After that the biggest was an anti Vietnam War march of 250,000.

The biggest were during a day of anti war marches around the world in 2003 protesting the American war against Iraq. There were marches of around 100,000 in several US cities that day, all of which were completely ignored by the subservient, nationalistic US media, the always reliable propaganda outlets for US Imperialism, but there were huge marches all over Europe including, again, 1.5 million in Barcelona, 2 million in London, and the biggest, 3 million, in Rome, with again, US citizens having no idea about any of it.

The Iraq War, by the way, along with the Afghanistan War and the three other Middle East wars the US has started since then -- Syria, Libya and Yemen -- and the explosion of terrorism those interventions have created, have caused the deaths of some two million people, or one thousand times more than were killed on 9/11.




9/12

That's when I want you to wake me up.




Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Got It

So I'm sitting at a local chain eatery at Coors and I-40 enjoying a nice steak and this is on my coffee cup.



When I say "nice steak" I mean these guys are open all night. I work nights so stay pretty much on a nighttime schedule over the weekend.

They aren't bad steaks. They season them with something and I've asked, and they can't not season them.

"They come that way."

With my cell phone I can take a picture of something and immediately post it to Twitter, or Facebook, or can email it or whatever, so I took a picture of my coffe cup and posted it on Twitter with my cute little ironic condemnation of the advertising coffee cup.

At a chain restaurant of any kind you are of course bombarded with advertising messages from the time you hit the parking lot, all while you're eating, when you go to the bathroom, on your way out the door. Capitalism stops at nothing to get your money and these kinds of messages are designed to enter your mind, your unconscious, to stay with you and to lure you back so they can get more of your money.

This particular message, although I've never seen it, specifically, is designed to evoke the same kinds of feelings that are evoked by phrases like "It takes a village to raise a child." Those kinds of sentiments entered US popular culture during the Counterculture era, the 1960s and 70s. They were used by people who were trying to find a way to a better world, not the world Capitalism has created, and Capitalism has no use for such phrases except to use them to make the world a worse place.

So I took the picture and posted it to Twitter. The next day I noticed this:



If you're not familiar with Twitter, this person had re-posted what I had posted and added his comment to it.

If you click on his name it takes you to his Twitter page:







You can search Twitter for key words. I don't doubt that corporate marketing departments have software that continually trolls social media, and the whole internet, looking for key words. That's what happened here. Because they really, really get it.

Not everyone of course shares my views about Capitalism. Few people in the United States do. This guy and millions of other advertising employees see nothing wrong with what they do. On the contrary. But this guy wasn't born yesterday. He knew what I was saying. He saw my little Socialism logo. He doesn't have that smirk on his face for nothing.






Monday, September 7, 2015

The End Is Near For Venezuela!

There has been a marked decrease in the past few weeks of mainstream media articles predicting Venezuela's imminent demise. They still appear but it's down to one a day or so. Usually the articles come regularly and continually, and have more or less since Hugo Chavez began taking Venezuela on a Socialist path in 2002.

The US and Venezuela have opened talks lately. The change in the tenor of the news can't be a coincidence. It makes one wonder about the source and regularity of the articles prior to now. There are many instances of the CIA and other intelligence agencies "planting" news articles. Several times Miami reporters were found to have been on the US government payroll.

Whatever the case, Venezuela is still there, and always has been.






Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy International Worker's Day

The reason the annual commemoration of the Labor Movement was changed to September 1 in the US and Canada, from the original May 1 as it's still celebrated in most of the world, is lost to me. I looked around the internet a little and couldn't quickly find out why it was changed.

Union Square, New York City, 1912
International Workers Day goes back to the 19th century and was originally to commemorate the victims of the Haymarket Bombing -- a Chicago police murder of striking Anarchist workers who were agitating for the 8-hour day, which as you've noticed has become the norm. It was later expanded into a general celebration of labor. This was in the days when there was a Labor Movement in the US.

With the rise of the Soviet Union, all kinds of wacko groups like the VFW began to have parades on May 1 celebrating nationalism -- which we in the US like to call patriotism -- so that could be why the Labor Movement agreed to let May Day be celebrated in September and be called Labor Day.

It's not that big of a deal. There is no Labor Movement in the US any more. The people who run the few remaining unions mostly run them as company unions, and the most of their members don't seem to mind. Although union wages and benefits are generally still a little higher than average because of the simple fact that collective bargaining results in higher wages and benefits, their existence is primarily symbolic. Important, yes, but primarily symbolic.

It's interesting that I got a "Happy Labor Day" email today from a political candidate in Virginia who somehow has my email address, but have received nothing from my own representatives, Michelle Grisham, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, all of whom have my email address and use it regularly to solicit money from me, and none of whom, as I've written repeatedly, have I ever heard use the word "union" in a speech or in written form, which, along with their voting records indicates what they think about the labor movement and about US workers receiving respectable wages. They could care less about American workers.

But that's the fault of American workers. A real Labor Movement will likely arise in the US again, at which point the American people will realize they don't have to ask bosses and politicians when they can have holidays or take off work. That they posses the power to have whatever holidays they please whenever they please.

Happy Labor Day!



Note:

This picture from a Wikipedia article about International Workers Day, or May Day, is captioned "San Jose, California, May Day March, 1 May 2006." This is why I always say we need more Mexicans here, not less. In saying that I usually refer to the massive street protests in Mexico after the fraudulent presidential elections of 2006, when there were a million people in the Zocalo in Mexico City and two million around the country, as to compared what happened after the fraudulent US presidential election of 2000. Nothing happened.

But there's also the fact that people from other backgrounds and countries aren't subscribed to the pilgrim myth, and usually, even if they lack what we consider a formal education, have a much more sophisticated political consciousness than we "Americans" do.