Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday Links / Open Thread

Jill Stein, presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket, has been arrested and charged with trespassing after a sit-in protest against foreclosures at Fannie Mae in Philadelphia. Since she had just won a place on the Pennsylvania ballot, she may be the first presidential candidate since Eugene Debs to become a political prisoner as a result. Also arrested were her running mate, two labor lawyers and a Catholic nun. Meanwhile, the Obama cabal just wrings its hands and writes a couple of letters begging a mere acting director to play nice with poor homeowners three months before Election Day.
In explaining why she joined the protest, Stein said that almost half of Americans now live in poverty or near poverty, eight million families face eviction from their homes due to foreclosures, and over a third of mortgage holders are "underwater" - meaning that they owe more to the lenders than their properties are worth on the market.  
Said Stein, "The developers and financiers made trillions of dollars through the housing bubble and the imposition of crushing debt on homeowners. And when homeowners could no longer pay them what they demanded, they went to government and got trillions of dollars of bailouts. Every effort of the Obama Administration has been to prop this system up and keep it going at taxpayer expense. It's time for this game to end. It's time for the laws be written to protect the victims and not the perpetrators. It's time for a new deal for America, and a Green New Deal is what we will deliver on taking office. "

The same New York Times reporter who brought you the story of Obama's Terror Tuesday kill list now complains there is a new chilling effect on news-gathering as a result. The FBI is doing a pretend investigation of national security leaks, and in the process is intimidating erstwhile/potential government whistleblowers at various agencies. And that's the whole point, isn't it?  Although the recent articles on the kill list, the case of Underpants Bomber II, and the cyberwar against Iran's nuclear program all obviously came from White House sources, the White House itself will not be subject to proposed new legislation punishing leakers. That is because when the President's Men do the divulging, it's not to blow the whistle. It's to make themselves look tough on national security in an election year. It is to make themselves the Orwellian Ministry of Truth.

Case in point: anonymous sources have just chest-thumpingly told Reuters that President Obama signed a secret order from his MANCAVE authorizing American support for Syrian rebels. The support includes shoulder-fired MANPAD missiles. Macho macho man, etc.

New Olympic Sport: bashing NBC's time-delayed coverage, with all its chest-thumping flag-wrapped corporate greed-for-profit. Chinese media are ticked off as well over allegations that its star female swimmer is ''roided" up:
“It is irresponsible for the Western media to pour filth on Chinese athletes who won because of hard training and years of arduous preparation,” the official state newspaper Xinhua said...... "By doing so, the Western writers have demonstrated an arrogance and prejudice against Chinese athletes that has ignited widespread criticism from all around the world."
Meanwhile, the commercial-free BBC (streams are blocked here in Security State USA) is doing its job in the public interest: broadcasting the events live, without annoying commentary, in all their raw glory. David Sirota opines on cringe-inducing Olympic Americana, past and present. 

I admit that before the latest culture war skirmish designed to deflect our attention away from the fact that we are living under the iron heel of the oligarchy, I had never even heard of Chick-fil-A.  I'd  had the Olympics beach volleyball game (live!) on the TV last night while fixing dinner, and before I knew it, MSNBC's Al Sharpton was shrilling about nasty anti-gay chicken with Meghan McCain whining about ideological cole slaw. I imagine that Chick-fil-A is making millions of dollars off all the free outraged publicity.

Where is the outrage from the liberal class about the horrid conditions at the factory farms where the chickens are crammed into crates from the minute they're born, force-fed on hormones and salmonella-resistant antibiotics and served up to the American public uninspected because of USDA budget cuts?

Meh. What a paltry concern, when there's a presidential election between two chicken hawks at stake.


The Black Swan said...

Let me join in on the quote brigade for just a moment to bring two from Arthur Koestler talking about his experience living in the USA.

“both countries (USA/USSR) have on thing in common: utter frustration of the individual, enslavement there by the state, here (USA) by a totally mechanized and stereotyped culture-pattern… [shaped by] money, ostentation, the crudest, inhuman, neurotic patterns and snobbery”

And to think that it was technology that has isolated us from each other... from the 1950's:

“children were raised into a form of autism, unable to make contact with other humans. It was a ‘contactless’ society populated by automatons.”

A few more things.
@Denis, This is in response to your comments on the previous thread about Hedges and the critique from Levenson. I tried to read through Levenson's arguments, but... he came across as rather naive about the Democrats and Obama. Is there a better article of his that might explain why anyone in their right mind should vote for Obama instead of Romney? The only differences I can see between the two is that one is named Obama and the other Romney. One is black and one is white. One has hundreds of millions of dollars and the other only has millions...

And finally a quote from myself:
"Utopia comes from the self and is then expressed by the state. Utopia cannot come from the state and be expressed by the self."

bhavatu sabba mangalam

Kat said...

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign called yesterday. There was talk of those "rascally Republicans". The volunteer laughed at me when I said I would be voting Green.

Denis Neville said...

“Man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that great gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Grand Inquisitor,” The Brothers Karamazov

Texas Tea-partier Ted Cruz served Chick-fil-A at his Senate victory party.


Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day!!

Revolt of the elites? Or a revolt of the masses? Or both?

The menace of the mob and the twilight of the elite meritocracy.

Christopher Lasch's “Revolt of the Elites” and Jose Ortega y Gasset's “The Revolt of the Masses.”

The dangers of modern mass movements!

The sheeple must return to their pens!

Will democracy survive our current parody of democracy? Bread and circuses!

Are we on our way to becoming boiled frogs?
Or, have we already been cooked?

“In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, Make us your slaves, but feed us.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Grand Inquisitor,” The Brothers Karamazov

Feed us Chick-fil-A!!!

Zee said...


Since Karen has declared this an "open thread," here's the latest news from the University of California, Davis, my two-time alma mater, regarding the resignation--or firing--of the notorious Sgt. Pepper Spray and one of his associates.

Especially interesting is the following quote:

"The task force and Kroll reports, [two independent investigations into the pepper-spraying of peaceful demonstrators at UCD last November] which placed blame on Chancellor Linda Katehi and other top campus decision-makers as much as on police, painted a complicated portrait of Pike."

My question for UCD: So why is Katehi still on the job?

Valerie said...

Good point, Zee.

While I am a little disenchanted with the Greens, they are far better than the two headed corporate party. My friend, an Obamabot, announced that a vote for a Third Party was a vote for Romney - I assured her it was not. She also said she really didn't want to hear about how bad Obama really is. I think we can expect a lot of these conversations in the next few months.

Zee said...


Good to hear from you. I was starting to get worried as we have not heard from you for quite some time!

Denis Neville said...

The Black Swan asked if there was a better article of Tom Levenson’s that might explain why anyone in their right mind should vote for Obama instead of Romney?

There are none.

Levenson, in another post, “I am pretty close to an O-bot, I guess, and I do think that we have in President Obama one of the most sneakily effective drivers of real policy change to be seen around these parts for a long time.”

No need to pass him another sip of Obama Kool Aid!

Levenson says, “Friends Can’t Let Friends Vote Republican,”

“There is no such thing as a good Republican candidate anymore, at any level. Your city councilmember, your state rep., your congressional representative as individuals could be reasonable, smart, caring, trying to reform this failed party from within…None of that matters. ‘Good’ Republicans are mere useful idiots, providing scraps of cover for the radical authoritarians wielding the real power. The party is committed to public policy stance that is destructive, both of American prospects and those of folks all around the world. They must be driven so far from the political arena as to be destroyed, until whatever emerges from its wreckage, even if it persists in operating under the label ‘Republican’ is utterly transformed from the catastrophic clown show we now watch in horror.”

“There are, I know, lots of flaws one can point to in the Obama administration. There are plenty of warts on the Congressional Democratic caucus. But the two parties are not the same and the consequences of getting it wrong this time are simply huge. The politics of purity may be satisfying, but this time around such delicate sensibilities are a luxury we simply cannot afford.”

Obotulism or Obotomized?

As Chris Hedges wrote, “the system rolls forward. The polar ice caps melt. The droughts rage over cropland. The drones deliver death from the sky. The state moves inexorably forward to place us in chains. The sick die. The poor starve. The prisons fill. And the careerist, plodding forward, does his or her job.”

Denis Neville said...

The Call for Journalistic Courage

“Electronic and print media today probably have more potential influence over public opinion than they had 50 years ago. Yet owners, editors and reporters today rarely push issues they believe government should take up…few to none want or believe they have the right to shape government actions. They don’t want to play activist roles in government—either personally or professionally—unless, of course, it could affect the bottom line…I believe this failure is a threat to our democracy and a poor example for the rest of the world, where we supposedly are spreading the need for a free press. This is my romantic and unfashionable view of journalism.” – Walter Pincus

Dan Froomkin, “You Know What the ‘Voter ID’ Push Is All About, So Say So,”

“Modern American journalists strive for impartiality, but there is a limit. Mainstream journalists shouldn’t be afraid of being accused of taking sides when what they’re doing is standing up for basic constitutional rights. Indeed, the greater danger is that readers condemn them—or even worse, stop paying attention to them—for having no convictions at all, and no moral compass.”

The pusillanimous New York Times will not say so, instead reports that “Partisan Rifts Hinder Efforts to Improve U.S. Voting System.”

As Scott Horton, “The Gray Lady’s Voter Suppression Quandry,” writes, “The article presents a Democratic view and a Republican view and attempts to accommodate each with the utmost equanimity [but] the story’s structure serves the interests of the Republicans—indeed, it implicitly legitimizes their tactics.”

Moyers & Company this week is about accusations that new voter ID and other election laws are thinly-veiled attempts to keep the young, elderly, minorities and the poor from exercising one of the most fundamental American rights.

Jay - Ottawa said...

More on the meritocracy and the Levenson/TLOTE choice thing bearing down on us.

One of the next best things to reading great books is to place them on your very own bookshelves, simply to own them. If you’re lucky enough to survive into retirement while still retaining most of your noodle, you just might have a second go at reading a few of those great works, so long dusted, so rarely cracked open. As a prep to ploughing through “Ulysses” in its entirety, I sensed I should first read Ellmann’s fat biography of Joyce – another big book on the shelf.

Back to Ellmann/Joyce/Ulysses in a moment. First, as with Bloom, my attention jumps around. I put Ellmann down to find this story in the Times.

The report reminds me I am no Ulysses. I’m a coward. The courage and nobility on view in Cherán scares me just to read about it. Who among us would take the steps this town has to face down injustice? Will our elites gone wild have to abuse us like the gangs circling Cherán before we stand up? Better leave it to our superior meritocracy to protect us from such a fate, huh?

Back to Ellmann et al. It’s a blooming coincidence that I should trip over the Cherán story so soon after our musings yesterday on meritocracies. Ellmann tells us at the outset of his book why Joyce was so different.

“…no one knew what the commonplace really was until Joyce had written. There is nothing like Joyce’s commonplace in Tolstoy, where characters, however humble, live dramatically and instill wisdom or tragedy in each other. Joyce was the first to endow an urban man of no importance with heroic consequence… To look into the flotsam of a city was common enough after Zola, but to find Ulysses there was reckless and imprudent.”

(Yes, yes, I know, comp lit majors, Homer’s Odysseus/Ulysses was a lying, murdering, misogynist s.o.b., something like the people guiding our major political parties. But he never recoiled into some safe, comfortable corner. He kept moving, unlike so much of our population, more content to get beat up regularly than to stand up and push back.)

The humble people of Cherán have secured their dignity. I hope they take back the town and their forest, permanently. But it will take many more nights on the barricades. Or they may go down hard. Then again, to paraphrase Pontius Pilate, "What is dignity?"

If you were ever in a really tight spot, your life, fortune and liberty on the line all at once, whom would you choose (um, vote into office) as your ally: (1) the same old antagonists, (2) the best and brightest of our current meritocracy or (3) the ragtag nobodies of Cherán? If you want to quibble over a better roster of choices, I’ll allow you to cherry pick between (2a) Romney’s meritocracy and (2b) Obama’s meritocracy.

If your fate is to be a target, it's easier for the snipers to drop you when you're standing still than when you keep moving in unexpected directions.

July 4 was a month ago. Something along the lines above was in the minds of the founders when they signed their names to the Declaration. There were, however, those who argued for, who hoped for, another spell of benign neglect from the Crown, a time when a different crowd in Parliament might pursue a softer policy towards the colony. Is it so over-the-top to suggest the same parallel with today's voters' choice to either temporize for another four years or to realize the temperature is too high on us frogs and it's past time to go all out for real change?

Kat said...

Why is she still on the job? hmmm...

Here's what former Penn State prez Graham Spanier is up to:

accountability for thee, not me.

Rose in Michigan said...

Two things:
First, has anyone else seen this spot-on analysis of Obama?:
Glen Ford nailed it, in my opinion.

And second, thanks to Karen for noticing -- and pointing out -- the too-often-forgotten evil in the fast-food agribusiness culture: the abominable torture of millions of innocent animals from birth to agonizing death. I'm a vegetarian for many reasons, not least of them the needless suffering of countless voiceless, defenseless animals.

Thus, the American food supply: tortured, mutilated animals living in misery and dying horribly in unregulated slaughterhouses where undocumented immigrants are used as slave labor until they fall ill from toxic conditions or are maimed by lethal machines under unsafe conditions, and are then tossed aside to rot and die under our Republican-approved "best-in-the-world health care" system. Then the end product, having not been inspected by anyone due to Congressional defunding of the USDA or any other organization that might have stood between the public and pandemics, is distributed to supermarkets and fast-food emporia and fed to unsuspecting victims, many of whom sicken and die, prompting momentary kerfuffles and lots of political posturing, which soon subsides and gradually is forgotten. Until the next outbreak.

Oh, and teh gays, of course, are an abomination. Yeah.

Thanks again, Karen. You put it all together nicely, and far more succinctly than I could. (Or did.)

Denis Neville said...

@ Jay

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Regarding meritocracy, I am reminded not of Joyce’s Ulysses, but of his collection of stories, Dubliners, and in particular “The Dead.”

Joyce wrote, “My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because the city seemed to me the centre of paralysis.”

“The Dead” is the moral history not only of Joyce’s Ireland but of our own nation. Our elites may live by their unquestioning claim to privilege and power, but their lives are not meritocratic, but an intangible gray world of mediocrity; the supposed excellence and distinction of meritocracy, unachievable and unattainable.

“For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul, or hers.” - James Joyce, “The Dead,” Dubliners

Such a waste!

And how sad!

“Better pass boldly into the other world in full glory of some passion [as Michael Furey], than fade and wither dismally with age [as Gabriel Conroy].”

John in Lafayette said...

Chick Fil A is not a paltry concern, but not because of their opposition to gay marriage. It's the millions they give to groups like Exodus International.

Exodus International, if you'll recall, was instrumental in getting the Ugandan government to make being gay a capital crime.

Support for groups that would use the power of the government - any government - to kill people wantonly is serious business.

Pearl said...

Jay: you wrote:
"If you were ever in a really tight spot, your life, fortune and liberty on the line all at once, whom would you choose (um, vote into office) as your ally: (1) the same old antagonists, (2) the best and brightest of our current meritocracy or (3) the ragtag nobodies of Cherán? If you want to quibble over a better roster of choices, I'll allow you to cherry pick between (2a) Romney's meritocracy and (2b) Obama's meritocracy."

However with the above choices you give there are none, since the best and brightest of our current meritocracy are either licking their wounds from the last election or holding on by their finger nails to fight the tide of right wing money flooding in to destroy them in the next election.

I can only vote for them by eliminating Obama and allowing change to happen by taking the bitter pill of allowing a neanderthal to expose himself to us, including his followers, and help form an opposition which might even include his own supporters who are beginning to see their resources beginning to dwindle. There have been some comments from right wingers along these lines, lately.

Denis Neville said...

“This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire.” - William Shakespeare, Hamlet

View from New Mexico [Hey,Zee!]:

Knate Meyers, “Skylights is a timelapse video made up of nearly 6,000 photos taken over the last few months in New Mexico, USA. Every frame in this video is a photograph.”

View from International Space Station at Night:

Knate Meyers, “Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS.”

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Pearl
I'm with you on not pulling the lever for the donkey. But that doesn't mean you must then pull the lever for the elephant.

I will not deny – as so many under the influence of the self-imposed TLOTE duopoly bind feel obligated to deny it - that the vote not given to Obama just might be a boon for Romney. Damn well, could.

But you could obtain the same result you argue for by voting Third Party, which is a good deed in itself even if it doesn't pay off immediately. Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Jill Stein of the Greens, whatever. I wager a short beer that Nov 6 will see one of the biggest third party swings ever combined with a massive stay-at-home nonvote. Why not stay in the game, have it all and go for the twofer outlined above?

BTW, a Harvard law professor who had Obama as a student agrees with you. See it here, then read Gary Wills' reaction to test whether you will in fact use the voting booth on Nov 6 to vote against Obama and all his works. While the NYRB has great stuff on culture, it fails IMHO by being so "pragmatic" and Yellow Dog on the political end:

Allow me a moment to proselytize on behalf of Rocky Anderson with this from The Nation:

@ Rose
O Rose, thou are hip
The Glen Ford piece
That flies o’er the web
Through the political storm

Has long found a home with many
Here posted to our crimson walls
Of controversy to brace us with
Solomonic wisdom till TLOTE falls

Pearl said...

Jay: I appreciate your reply to my comment. However, it takes me time to
understand things when I have to look up and search what TLOTE means, NYRB
I guessed, but couldn't find what IMHO means and BTW has several meanings. And although I appreciate all
the referrals to important writings (as Denis tends toward), it is not
always convenient to copy the lengthy listings of ways to access articles.
Karen explained that she cannot outline ways of being able to merely
press such referrals and if there are several of them in a comment, one
becomes tired trying copy and follow through all those letters and punctuations in order to try and figure out
the specifics in regard to someone's comment.

I don't know what to suggest but possibly some short clear explanation of
articles you recommend would help. Of course it is up to you and I wonder if
others may not be turned off by the time required to punch in lengthy
referrals to articles. Karen does not limit the lengths of comments and I do
not mind reading longer comments instead of trying to access the original
articles which also may take some lengthy time to read. There is so much to read
these days that it is often necessary to skim through things and I don't
want to have to do that to all the repliers to Karen's great blogs.

Any responses to the above issue would be welcomed and perhaps you can chime in on this , Karen.

I will definitely consider voting for a third party as you recommended although I am not that happy with any of them or their spokespersons. I had not planned to pull the lever for Romney, but to just leave out Obama's name instead on my absentee ballot.

Karen Garcia said...

TLOTE= The Lesser of Two Evils.(the O-Man)
IMHO= In My Humble Opinion.
BTW= By the way.

An easy way to copy links is to just highlight the address with your mouse, right-click and press "copy", then bring mouse up to your address bar and press "paste". Sorry that Blogspot does not allow direct links within the comments boxes. You'd have to type in a special code which some here have tried, to no avail. I think Google is trying to cut down on the spam and porn links that ad "bots" use. Even without the links, these "bots" are constantly leaving fake ad-comments here, which is why I have to moderate everything manually, since Google's spam bucket often lets crap through.
With the character limit in comments hovering around 3000 or so, this does not leave enough space for everyone to copy entire articles. Plus, there are copyright laws to consider. Hope that helps.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Ahhh…? I believe it was Pearl who just addressed me at 6:41 PM, although the message, as it shows up on my screen, says it is from Karen Garcia. Really.

Pearl, sorry about the unexplained abbreviations. It certainly irritates me reading something in formal print where abbreviations are not spelled out at least once at the outset. LeMonde does that in just about every article on line, which forces me to look up a lot or quit. So I sympathize.

TLOTE is “the lesser of two evils,” pronounced as three syllables, T-LóT-E, as in O-BA-MA. It’s a term we kicked around months ago on Sardonicky, and I should not have assumed more recent commenters were born with that knowledge.

NYRB is the “New York Review of Books.”

I don’t Twitter, but I guess I did anyway. IMHO means “in my humble opinion”; BTW “by the way.”

Pearl, I cannot imagine your typing each of the code links, character by character. No need ever to type out link addresses. Just (1) highlight them, (2) copy them and (3) paste them to the address line of your web browser, then click Enter/Return. I usually place my links on their own line (separate from my comment) so they’re easier to highlight before whatever your computer requires to copy and paste.

I thought I had introduced my proffered links, but I can see I must do a better job of that too. As for quoting more from the links within my screeds, that presents another problem. If I take any more space than I do now on Sardonicky, Karen will be handing me parking tickets every other day.

Pearl said...

About Gore Vidal:

"Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge," he once wrote, "all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. "Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all."

spreadoption said...

Following Paul Krugman's Friday night ritual, here's some music from 1969 that holds (all too) true today:

Funny, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", eh.

[Lyrics available here: ]

George said...

It does not matter who wins the election but it might matter what group wins. That's why I am pulling "vote the bums out" lever. If everyone did this perhaps the bums would start to realize our disgust. Its the only peaceful way to stop this government from terrorizing its citizens and the world.