Saturday, April 30, 2016

So You Want More Death

I picked out this quote from an article by Rania Khalek, an up and coming young journalist whose freelance work has begun appearing more and more:

The US “war on terror” has coincided with a nine-fold increase in terrorism-related deaths around the world since 2000, while generating the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

When you vote for Hillary Clinton you're voting for more of this. She's promised that, and her record backs her up. So much for the lesser of two evils.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Unsavory And Not

The FBI has used a child porn case to massively increase its authority to hack into anyone's computer.

Just like it did when it used the San Bernardino terrorism shooting case to try to make the courts give it access to millions of encrypted cell phones, the FBI chose a case that makes defenders of constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights look like they're defending unsavory characters.

How noble and upstanding our US law enforcement is.

Martin Heinrich - Zilda Williams connection debunked

US senator Ron Wyden, who has been at the forefront of congressional efforts to limit domestic surveillance of US citizens by their own government, says he will introduce legislation to overturn this most recent case of domestic spying. Good luck with that.

At one time NM's Martin Heinrich was usually mentioned in articles about these cases whenever Wyden was, but not for the last few times. Heinrich still posts an occasional press release on his senate web site about matters relating to this issue, but few people read those and he makes no effort to be publicly associated with the issue, from what I've seen.

Just to make sure I hadn't missed anything I went to Google news and searched for "Martin Heinrich domestic spying." The most recent article was from May, 2015. A few articles down the list was a story headlined "The Bachelor's Zilda Williams shows off her new DDs in VERY low-cut leopard print bikini," with photos demonstrating the point form several angles.

Looking closely at the article I noticed a link to another article, about Anna Heinrich, who I see also has appeared on The Bachelor, which appears to be an Australian TV show meant to showcase women with large breasts, but I'd bet money that Anna's not related to Martin in any way.

If you're interested, and I'm not, there are additional angles on the Zilda Williams story here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Democrat That

The Democratic Party presidential primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, in the social media world anyway, has largely centered on the differing views of the two candidates on US domestic economic policy. Clinton represents the "New Democrat" wing of the Democratic Party and Neoliberalism (Reaganomics) while Sanders represents traditional Keynesian "New Deal" Democrats. As such it has sometimes included debates between Capitalism and Socialism, and Capitalism and Democratic Socialism.

But the campaign has also, to a lesser extent, become a debate about US imperial foreign policy. Clinton has always promoted a very aggressive, militaristic, imperialist, in some ways "Neocon" foreign policy. Sanders doesn't actually differ substantially, but enough to provide space for those with various non militaristic world views to enter the debate, as evidenced by the two social media memes I've reproduced above.

Among Sanders supporters there's also a debate about whether, if Clinton wins the nomination, they should vote for her, abstain, or register a protest vote for a third party such as the Green Party. Many Sanders supporters are talking about changing their voter registration to "Independent" after the primaries.

Given the stranglehold the two major parties hold on ballot access and the election process in general it's probably a better idea to try to reform the Democratic Party. I also think a major political party is the best way to unite the largest number of people and thereby amass the amount of power needed to counter the power of Capital.  I, personally, stopped voting for New Democrats after the 2008 election, but there are still some Democrats worthy of the name I can vote for. Meanwhile, calling myself a lifelong Democrat, and repeatedly pointing out what the term "Democrat" is supposed to signify -- liberal economic and social views, and the party that represents the interest of the working class -- seems a better way to influence Democratic elected officials who don't seem to understand that.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

So Long, Freedom Of The Press In America.

From the people who run our newsrooms. Due to the overall decline of the news media, there's less money to sue for open records, and governments know it so are denying more open records requests.

And, government is demanding access to reporters' and news organizations' files and "unpublished material." Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has charged more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined.
Kevin Gostola summarizes a survey of news editors conducted by the Knight Foundation for Mint Press News.

Around half of news editors indicated their news organizations were “no longer prepared to go to court to preserve First Amendment freedoms.” Eighty-nine percent indicated this was because defending the First Amendment is too expensive.

Forty-four percent of editors indicated their news organization was less able to go on the offense and sue to open up access to information.

“Newspaper-based (and especially TV-based) companies have tougher budgets and are less willing to spend on lawyers to challenge sunshine and public records violations,” one editor acknowledged.

Another editor declared, “The loss of journalist jobs and publishers’ declining profits means there’s less opportunity to pursue difficult stories and sue for access to information.” The costs of litigation constrain organizations.

“Government agencies are well aware that we do not have the money to fight. More and more, their first response to our records request is, ‘Sue us if you want to get the records,’” one editor stated.

Ironically, Gostola is an independent journalist trying to make it with his own news web site, Shadowproof, and by doing freelance work for people like Mint Press, also a start up internet based news platform. They are the new media and I'm pretty sure neither has the funds to file a Freedom of Information lawsuit.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Gelded Age

I received an email solicitation this morning from Tom Udall, one of New Mexico's Democratic US senators, with the title "The new Gilded Age."

I got very excited and thought it would say he was going to start doing something about the massive wealth and income inequality that has accrued in the United States since he's been in politics and about which he's done nothing until now: in fact fiscally conservative New Democrats like himself helped it come about.

I don't know where Udall, or whoever he contracts his fundraising out to, came up with that title, but Leftists like myself have been referring to the present time as the new gilded age, because during the last gilded age, from the late 1800s until the Great Depression, widely corrupt, unregulated Capitalism had brought about obscene wealth and income inequality, and it's even worse now.

As you can see from his email, Udall has no intention of doing anything about wealth and income inequality. He's fine with it, and nothing in his record or what he has said or put out there suggests otherwise.

He knows that tinkering with the campaign finance laws will do nothing to alter the current state of affairs. He knows that the corrupt two party system we have now ensures he'll be re-elected and that there will be no consequence to his sending out bait and switch emails like this.

Now, if we had, not the kind of mealy mouth reforms he wants but actual public financing of elections, and if we could somehow get elections out of the control of the seriously corrupt Democratic and Republican parties, we might be able to get Democrats like Udall out of office. Then we the people could end the new gilded age ourselves. But until we get rid of Udall and the rest of the New Democrats New Mexico sends to Washington, it's not going to happen.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hillary And War

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, shakes hands with Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya during the 39th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, OAS, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Tuesday, June 2, 2009. The following month Zelaya was ousted in a US backed coup - Eduardo Verdugo - AP
During a wide ranging interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News (transcript here) Hillary Clinton said Hondurans followed the law when they ousted President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya in 2009.

Her answer wasn't reported in the mainstream media but was important, not so much for Clinton's lying to get this issue behind her and get herself elected, but in that it's a reminder of what her foreign policy has been, and what kind of world we'll live in under a Clinton presidency: one with more wars, more regime changes, more US imperialism. More death. Less money in the budget for the important things, like life. The lives of America's vast working class that has been left to fend for itself while our political establishment caters to moneyed elites.

The coup of Mel Zelaya isn't a central issue in the campaign and most Americans know nothing about it. I followed news of that coup and its aftermath daily on Pacifica Radio. Hondurans were in the streets protesting, and being killed, while President Zelaya tried to return to the country, which Hillary, in her book Hard Choices boasts of preventing.
The US wanted Zelaya out as president for two main reasons. 1. He was trying to gain back control of the country's one good airport, at the Soto Cano military base, also known as Palmerola, from the US military, which has historically used it for things like supporting the Nicaraguan contras and other covert imperialism in the area. Zelaya wanted it mainly for commercial reasons and because larger airliners were crashing at the smaller Tegucigalpa international airport. 2. To fund the transition, which required building a passenger terminal and a highway to it, Zelaya had gone to ALBA, the South American replacement for the US dominated OAS created by Hugo Chavez, after the US refused to help.
Chavez, during the Bush administration, had become the US government's, especially the state department's, enemy #1, and it initiated efforts to topple him, which the Obama Administration had continued. The Honduran elite, meanwhile, was outraged at Zelaya, a big landowner, rancher and logger and one of their own, because after campaigning as a centrist he had moved to the Left during his presidency and was implementing policies that helped the country's poor. Like the US government, it didn't like it that Zelaya was in general moving closer to Chavez and his policies of Latin American integration and away from US domination. 

It's not come out yet what, if any, direct role Clinton played in the Zelaya coup, but the usual US state department suspects, when covert operations, CIA involvement and the death squads long used by the US in its Latin American policy, are concerned, people like John Negroponte and Robert Ford, were heavily involved in this. Then, after the coup, the Obama administration, and Clinton, while publicly calling for Zelaya's return, refused to call it a coup and immediately recognized the coup government, and, as Hillary boasted in Hard Choices, prevented Zelaya's return.
With Hillary Clinton as president we can expect this kind of imperialist policy to continue unabated. She's also largely responsible for the disastrous regime change operation that destroyed Libya, one of the Middle East's most prosperous countries, and turned it into a dyfunctional dead zone being fought over by three warring factions, and also a center of operations for ISIS.  She's also largely behind the route the US took in Syria, that has destroyed that country and which President Obama has belatedly realized was a mistake and is trying to backtrack from, while Clinton, on the campaign trail, is calling for ramping things up in Syria and getting the US more heavily involved there.

On foreign policy Clinton is considered by many on the Left to be little better than a Neocon, and indeed some of the main Neocon Republicans have stated that they prefer her over Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. And on domestic policy, of course, the former Wal Mart board member is a true Neoliberal. A "New Democrat." Conservative in economic policy while remaining liberal on a few social issues to keep the party's "identity politics" based voters happy.

Outside reading:

Mel Zelaya was interviewed about the coup and Hillary Clinton's role in it in July on Democracy Now. Amy Goodman writes about it and provides a transcript.
Hillary Clinton emails -- her "damn emails" -- reveal how she sought back channel communications with the coup leaders. Examples and analysis by The Intercept. 
Hillary more dangerous than Donald Trump contends Rania Khalek. A good overview of the vast amount of blood Clinton has played a role in spreading over the world.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Military Protects US Ruling Class From Its Workers And Garbage Cans

I don't know how many videos have been posted now of police in other countries diffusing situations like this peacefully. Just yesterday someone posted a video of some cops in some eastern nation tossing a big net over a guy. We don't have nets. We have militarized police. Tell me again about good cops. US policing is just a bad institution.

Knowing that this can be done in a number of peaceful ways, the tactics on display in this photo, and the battlefield military equipment and costume, don't even make logical sense unless you think of them as products of the fantasies of people who run an institution that has been handed unlimited coercive power, including of death.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Richard Nixon Is A Dead Man

If you passed him at Doheny
And you started to swerve
But pulled it out
You'd be right there
At Dead Man's curve

I don't know why, but there remains controversy over where Dead Man's Curve from the 1964 Jan and Dean hit Dead Man's Curve is. It's mentioned in two different Wikipedia articles and placed variously in Westwood, Pacific Palisades and even Whittier, but if you listen to the song it can be only one place, if you ask me. West Hollywood.

They started racing at Sunset and Vine, which is east of the red star. The red star on the map is where the above screen shot is taken, Sunset Boulevard at Doheny Road. You can see the street signs, Sunset on the left, Doheny on the right. That's where he passed the Jaguar. He immediately started to swerve and then he pulled it out and there he was at Dead Man's Curve. Sunset curves where those two tall buildings are. Another part of Doheny Road goes straight, but if you want to stay on Sunset Boulevard you have to veer to the left.

That's it below. It would have looked different in 1964. More trees. Possibly livestock. California used to have a lot of native Indians.

Some say it's at Sunset and Evans, but that's way down Sunset, ten miles. The song doesn't allow for that. Some say it's by UCLA. And even Whittier. That's way on the south side of LA. Richard Nixon was from Whittier, so that can't be it.

The song was recorded by Jan and Dean several times but the lyrics were essentially the same when it came to where they were when the crash happened. Here's the 1964 version that became the big hit. You be the judge. If you were an eyewitness please leave a comment.