Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Neil Young Is the Real Deal

With hits going all the way back to the sixties band Buffalo Springfield, with anthems like Rockin' in the Free World, with a declaration of integrity like This Note's For You, Neil Young has been there and done that. With songs like Southern Man and Ohio, he has more than proven himself to be a politically aware voice for change. The album Living With War is one of the most significant acts of protest for decades, and the tour with Crosby Stills and Nash was the biggest musical event of the year. I love the man, I love his music, I love the fact that he has never sold out or failed to give his all in forty years in the music business.

Why am I posting this now? No reason, it's just been a while since we put up a music vid, and I have always loved this song. Happy Halloween.

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Taking Care of Business

Four States Want Expanded Corporate Power
This Piece from Huffington Post is an indication of the dark days to come if the already insanely powerful corporate community gets even more powerful. In California it is Proposition 90. In Washington it is Initiative 933. In Idaho it is Proposition 2. In Arizona it is Proposition 207. The legal authority contained in these ballot measures is so extreme it can hardly even be accurately described. It seems the corporate community wants the authority to equate potential profits with actual money in the bank. The message sent is, 'screw you America - show us the money.'
"There is a law on the ballot in four states that says if I want to open a hog farm or a chemical plant next door to your house and you don't want me to do that, then YOU have to pay ME not to -- you have to pay me all the money I MIGHT have made..
..if you want to stop a corporation from dumping toxic waste into the river from which you get your drinking water, or stop them from venting dangerous chemicals into the air, then YOU have to PAY that company not to..
..The far right says that a government stopping a company from dumping waste into a river is 'taking money' from that company."
This whole thing reminds me of a recent 'Broken Government' piece on CNN, where I heard that Washington has over 30,000 registered lobbyists, or about 60 for every Senator and Congressman. They spend billions of dollars a year trying to make sure that democracy doesn't work for people, it only works for big business. As your rights and freedoms are eroded on a daily basis, corporate rights are being increased dramatically. Some pigs walk on two legs.

It also reminds me of this piece from yesterday's New York Times. It's about Bob Richardson, a 58 year old Texan who catches feral hogs (with his bare hands, no less) and sells them live to organic restaurants in Europe. Sounds like a heck of a way to make a living. He makes just under $30,000 a year doing this. It sounds like a backbreaking lifestyle.

So I came up with this idea. Somebody should hire Bob to go to Washington D.C., and start rounding up these lobbyists and hogtie them, throw them in the back of his Toyota pickup truck, and we'll pay him a handsome bounty on them. With the reduction in porkbarrel spending by government that would result, I'm sure it would be well worth it. We discretely won't ask what happens to them, just so long as they never return to Washington or any state capitol to carry out their nefarious 'profession.'

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Another Threat to Freedom

We're getting inured these days to a steady streams of overt threats to freedom and democracy. These range from the NSA domestic surveillance program through electronic voter fraud all the way to the odious Military Commissions Act. Call me a pessimist, but I think that the political and doctrinal subversion of the military is a much more disturbing and frightening trend. In a democracy it is essential that the armed forces be non-partisan, and reflect the values of the general population. That's why this piece in Wonkette is cause for the greatest concern. As the screenshot above shows, the left leaning Wonkette weblog is blocked by the military ISP serving marines in Iraq, while right-tard sites like Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt are allowed a pass.

It would make it all too easy for a police state to emerge if the folks with the guns start thinking in 'us' versus 'them' terms. Which is frightening if the 'them' they're thinking about is us.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Tortured Logic

The Dubious 'Logic' of Torture
No-brainer #1: The Vice President has no brains.
No-brainer #2: The Vice President is evil.
No-brainer #3: Calling it 'dunking' doesn't change the nature of the act.
No-brainer #4: "Torturing someone is evil. It's not just a war crime. It's the definition of evil." - Jonathan Turley

"The Military Commissions Act, which as we have discussed here not only killed habeas corpus but essentially gave the President the authority to decide what constitutes torture...but did the Vice President manage to illustrate something even bigger than this, this attitude behind that legislation; as in, 'We're going to do whatever we want, and we're going to call it whatever we need to call it.' "
"That's right, and you know the terms keep on getting more innocent, as if you know waterboarding was something you could take the children to...There is a continual effort of this administration to change verbiage to avoid directly dealing with the fact that we have embraced torture as a practice in one of the most despicable changes in this country's history in values."
In the most grotesque instance of irony possible, it is the 'values voters' who on November the seventh will most likely embrace torture as a practice, and vote to re-elect the party that has condoned this despicable change in the nature of the United States of America.

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(Also Posted At Ice Station Tango and Les Enragés.org)


Thursday, October 26, 2006


CIA Tried to Silence EU on Torture Flights

There is no effective opposition in the United States to the heinous acts that have become the trademark of BushCo™'s criminal regime. In fact, the recent passage of the Military Commissions Act enjoyed the support of 12 Democratic Senators and 31 Congressional Democrats. Therefore one would fervently hope that some international entity would be putting some pressure on to put an end to the worst abuses. Unfortunately, even that hope could be nothing more than cockeyed optimism, as The Guardian reported today.
"According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in return, Berlin should cooperate and "avert pressure from EU" over human rights abuses in the north African country...classified documents prepared for the German parliament last February make clear that Berlin did eventually get to see the detained suspect, who was arrested in Morocco in 2002 as an alleged organiser of the September 11 strikes.
He was flown from Morocco to Syria on another rendition flight. Syria offered access to the prisoner on the condition that charges were dropped against Syrian intelligence agents in Germany accused of threatening Syrian dissidents. Germany dropped the charges, but denied any link.
After the CIA offered a deal to Germany, EU countries adopted an almost universal policy of downplaying criticism of human rights records in countries where terrorist suspects have been held. They have also sidestepped questions about secret CIA flights partly because of growing evidence of their complicity."
Complicity? That doesn't sound good. Too many EU countries are happy enough to keep quiet about these crimes because they knowingly aided and abetted the miscreants.
"More than 200 CIA flights have passed through Britain, records show.
[Journalist Stephen Grey] describes how one CIA pilot told him that Prestwick airport, near Glasgow, was a popular destination for refuelling stops and layovers. 'It's an "ask-no-questions" type of place and you don't need to give them any advance warning you're coming,' the pilot said...CIA pilots, sometimes using false identities and whose planes regularly passed through Britain, ran up huge bills in luxury hotels after flying terrorist suspects to secret locations where they were tortured. But they revealed their whereabouts and identities by indiscreet use of mobile phones and allowed outsiders to track their aircraft's flights."
This is an interesting look at the type of people that are involved in this program. Nothing makes them feel like partying more than rendering up some (probably innocent) individual to be tortured. And their partying is being paid for with American tax dollars. And the torture is being carried out in America's name.
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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Double Stevies

A Great Music Video, Stevie Wonder with Stevie Ray Vaughan
What More Can I Say?


Friday, October 20, 2006

Faith-Based Initiatives Abused

Olbermann Exposes Republican Hypocrisy
Do you think the founding fathers may have had a reason when they made the separation of Church and State a key part of US legal tradition? What about Jesus' own answer to the question of taxation? (Mk. 12, 14-17)
"Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Render unto God what is God's."

It was mere days after assuming office, long before his assault on the Bill of Rights, even before 9/11/'01, that George W. Bush fired his first shot in a war on the Constitutional system of government in the United States of America. That shot was his 'Faith-Based Initiatives' program. In this two-part exposé, Keith Olbermann explores how this politically motivated farce has betrayed the very people it was supposed to help, and even betrayed the values of the values voters who were supposedly its immediate beneficiaries.
Video, part 2.

"How accurately Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites when he wrote, 'This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me. Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts.'
You disregard God's commandment and cling to what is human tradition.
-Mk. 7, 6f.
Note: This is a catch-up crossposting from Les Enragés.org. I apologize to Friendly Neighbours visitors for my neglect of my original site, but I have been busy lately and when I do have time I have been devoting it to Les Enragés.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006


We're All In This Together
Barn Raising Near Mount Hope, Ohio

It is a matter of great interest to me how right wing interests have so systematically destroyed the sense of community that made America a great country for so long. Good neighbours used to get together like these Amish carpenters and, working together they could build a large barn like this in a single day, leaving enough time to bring the cows in and milk them. Farmers' co-ops were formed for such diverse purposes as purchase of seed, marketing of products, sharing of equipment, even setting up community banks and insurance companies. On the factory floor, urban workers formed unions against great opposition and at great personal risk to counterbalance the sometimes lifethreatening power of their employers These expressions of community-based collective effort have become almost as quaint as the Geneva Convention and the Bill of Rights. Communities of farmers have given way to agribusiness. The unions and the workplace regulations they fought for are in serious decline.
There is one form of collectivization that has grown immensely in power while the others have declined. I'm talking about the corporation, which is a collective not of people, but of money. One might well argue that the ascendance of the one form has led directly to the decline of the others. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. What most Americans fail to realize is that the ascendance of the corporate state constitutes a kind of class warfare that has been going on for at least a half century. I'm sorry to say, our side is losing, or may have already lost.
I'm not alone in this gloomy opinion. This is from an essay of Howard Zinn's in Progressive Magazine:

Surely, in the history of lies told to the population, this is the biggest lie. In the history of secrets, withheld from the American people, this is the biggest secret: that there are classes with different interests in this country. To ignore that—not to know that the history of our country is a history of slaveowner against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor—is to render us helpless before all the lesser lies told to us by people in power.

If we as citizens start out with an understanding that these people up there—the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all those institutions pretending to be “checks and balances”—do not have our interests at heart, we are on a course towards the truth. Not to know that is to make us helpless before determined liars.

Why does America's middle class and working poor succumb to this blatant lie? Perhaps the answer lies in this observation; "In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards." -- Bertrand Russell

The implication is that people of modest means, even people in the lower economic ranks continue to buy into the idea of the American Dream. Someday, somehow they will find themselves in the ranks of the wealthy, and they don't want to restrict their own future enjoyment of that wealth, so they oppose taxation of those currently wealthy.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

More Olbermann Excellence

Keith Olbermann's latest Special Commentary last Thursday was another tour de force, taking Bush, then his top staff to task for their limitless ability to deny the realities of America's problems, especially the war in Iraq. The only problem, from the point of view of a blogger, is that the segment was slightly over YouTube's ten minute length limit. There are therefore two vids here. The first scours Bush himself. The second goes after Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice.
"The President does not just hear what he wants. He hears things that only he can hear. It defies belief that this President and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they can wallow. Yet they do."

"Of course inherent in the Pentagon's warmaking functions is the regulation of Presidential war lust. Enacting that regulation should include everything up to symbolically wrestling the Chief Executive to the floor if necessary."

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Democracy: NOT a Spectator Sport

"No Pasaran" - The Battle of Cable Street
Tomorrow, Oct. 5th is the day that World Can't Wait is calling for a public protest to 'drive out the Bush regime', something they have been trying to do since their inception, as far as I know. On their website's home page they ask a simple but powerful question, "Can a regime headed in a fascist direction be driven from power?" We all hope fervently that the answer to that question is a resounding YES collectively and loudly shouted by millions of voices at once.
Here from the UK's Guardian Unlimited, a fine example of well-balanced and socially responsible journalism IMO, is the story of another protest, today celebrating its 70th anniversary. This protest, Oct. 4th, 1936, was mounted by opponents to a fascist Rally in London's east end. An unruly mob of 300,000 may well have turned the tide of history that day. If they had not taken to the streets, Britain could have become every bit as fascistic as Hitler's Germany.
"Shouting the Spanish civil war slogan 'No pasaran' - 'They shall not pass' - more than 300,000 people turned back an army of Blackshirts. Their victory over racism and anti-Semitism on Sunday October 4, 1936 became known as the Battle of Cable Street and encapsulated the British fight against a fascism that was stomping across Europe.

Mosley planned to send columns of thousands of goose-stepping men throughout the impoverished East End dressed in uniforms that mimicked those of Hitler's Nazis. His target was the large Jewish community.

..The Jews did not keep away. Professor Bill Fishman, now 89, who was 15 on the day, was at Gardner's Corner in Aldgate, the entrance to the East End. "There was masses of marching people. Young people, old people, all shouting 'No Pasaran' and 'One two three four five - we want Mosley, dead or alive'," he said. "It was like a massive army gathering, coming from all the side streets. Mosley was supposed to arrive at lunchtime but the hours were passing and he hadn't come. Between 3pm and 3.30 we could see a big army of Blackshirts marching towards the confluence of Commercial Road and Whitechapel Road.
I push the limits of fair use to reprint so much of this article, and hope that The Guardian will forgive me..

"[Eyewitness, Professor William Fishman] 'I pushed myself forward and because I was 6ft I could see Mosley. They were surrounded by an even greater army of police. There was to be this great advance of the police force to get the fascists through. Suddenly, the horses' hooves were flying and the horses were falling down because the young kids were throwing marbles.'

Thousands of policemen were sandwiched between the Blackshirts and the anti-fascists. The latter were well organised and through a mole learned that the chief of police had told Mosley that his passage into the East End could be made through Cable Street.

'I heard this loudspeaker say "They are going to Cable Street",' said Prof Fishman. 'Suddenly a barricade was erected there and they put an old lorry in the middle of the road and old mattresses. The people up the top of the flats, mainly Irish Catholic women, were throwing rubbish on to the police. We were all side by side. I was moved to tears to see bearded Jews and Irish Catholic dockers standing up to stop Mosley. I shall never forget that as long as I live, how working-class people could get together to oppose the evil of racism.'

Max Levitas, now 91, was a message runner and had already been fined £10 in court for his anti-Mosley activities. Two years before Cable Street, the BUF had called a meeting in Hyde Park and in protest Mr Levitas whitewashed Nelson's column, calling people to the park to drown out the fascists. Mr Levitas went on to become a Communist councillor in Stepney.

'I feel proud that I played a major part in stopping Mosley. When we heard that the march was disbanded, there was a hue and cry and the flags were going wild. They did not pass. The chief of police decided that if the march had taken place there would be death on the road - and there would have been,' he said.

'It was a victory for ordinary people against racism and anti-Semitism and it should be instilled in the minds of people today. The Battle of Cable Street is a history lesson for us all. People as people must get together and stop racism and anti-Semitism so people can lead an ordinary life and develop their own ideas and religions.'

Beatty Orwell, 89, was scared and excited. 'People were fighting and a friend of mine was thrown through a plate glass window.' "

There's more: audio links to the actual words of these witnesses are provided at the end of the Guardian's article. These senior CITIZENS are so obviously proud of the actions they took on that day. Their actions put a spine into the entire British populace, something that Winston Churchill could draw upon and build on a few years later when England was under more direct military attack from Hitler's Germany. There has seldom been a finer day in the defense of democracy than Oct. 4, 1936. What stories will you be telling about Oct. 5, 2006 when you reach your twilight years?
Cross-posted from Les Enragés.org
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Monday, October 02, 2006

A Sad Day

Looking over comments on several blogs this morning, the dominant reaction I read over and over again is the haunting phrase, "a sad day for America" echoing like the death knell of a great nation.
It is indeed a sad day, but is it really America anymore?

Without the constitution and its protections embodied in the bill of rights, America is little more than a large area of land separating Canada from Mexico. In coming generations this phrase, 'a sad day for America' may become associated with September 28, 2006 in the same way that 'a day that will live in infamy' became associated with Dec. 7, 1941. And that truly is sad.

Other words come to mind, in particular those of John Locke (1632-1704). A philosophical empiricist and social theorist well ahead of his time, his ideas sparked a smouldering fire that burst into full flame long after his death, in the American and French Revolutions. This from Wikipedia;
Locke has often been classified as a British Empiricist, along with David Hume and George Berkeley. He is equally important as a social contract theorist, as he developed an alternative to the Hobbesian state of nature and argued a government could only be legitimate if it received the consent of the governed through a social contract and protected the natural rights of life, liberty, and estate. If such consent was not given, argued Locke, citizens had a right of rebellion.
The words of Locke to which I refer are these;
"Where law ends, tyranny begins."
The War Criminals Protection Act has brought about an end to law, at least as applied to this criminal administration. Need I elaborate Führer further?

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Crossposted from Les Enragés.org