Tuesday, January 27, 2009
By David Neiwert
Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are clearly among the breed of Republicans who refuse to believe that Conservatism failed -- rather, that the GOP failed Conservatism. And so their solution for party renewal is to just go back to embracing the policies and ideas that brought the nation to the brink of economic and diplomatic ruin.
They don't seem to realize yet that the country has turned the page and moved on. And so they rage, rage against the fall of right-wing night. Last night's second part of Hannity's interview with Limbaugh really was more a pathetic display of hapless and unhappy impotence.
It has all the usual Limbaugh flourishes.
White Identity Politics:
Limbaugh: The Republican Party is making a big -- the Conservative movement, too, making a big, big mistake in planning for the future. You hear things like, well, the Republican Party needs to identify the middle class, the Wal-Mart voters, and come up with policies for them. And then we've got to come up with policies for Hispanics, because they hate us because of illegal immigration. That's the way the Democrats do it. You put people into groups and then you victimize them. And give the victims power over the majority. Because they then have grievances that are nonexistent, and the majority gets cowed into fear, because they don't want to be complained at, they don't want to be blamed, so 'OK, OK, you want health care, fine, we'll go get it."
[Did you know that minorities' grievances were actually nonexistent? Neither did I! Did you know that liberals -- and not racists and gay bashers -- actually victimize the minorities they champion? Me neither! Boy, ya learn something new from Rush each time out, dontcha?]
NEW YORK--That's it? Bush moves back to Texas to dote on his presidential library--while drawing a $197,000 pension? Cheney goes back to Wyoming to fish and work on his memoirs? After committing crimes so numerous and monstrous that bookshelves are already groaning under their weight, the cabal of illegitimate coup leaders who destroyed the U.S. get to tiptoe out of the rubble and go home to a comfortable retirement?
Earlier this week a senior Pentagon prosecutor openly admitted what has long been known: torture, the lowest and most criminal act any society can sanction, is official U.S. policy. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture," Judge Susan Crawford told The Washington Post about the alleged "20th hijacker" on 9/11, now being held at Gitmo. The man was so brutalized, Crawford decided, that he could not be charged in court. The same is true of many of those being held at the Guantánamo concentration camp.
None of the Bush Administration officials responsible has faced the slightest inconvenience as the result of his actions.
Donald Rumsfeld, the beast who promoted, botched and joked about a war that has killed more than a million innocent Iraqis, spent the last year as a "distinguished visiting fellow" at Stanford, cogitating about "issues pertaining to ideology and terror."
John Yoo, the Justice Department hack who wrote the memos that authorized U.S. military and intelligence personnel to torture prisoners of war, is enjoying the cozy ambiance of academe as a UC Berkeley law professor.
Colin Powell, whose 2003 lie to the U.N. ("there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more") convinced Americans who were still on the fence to support the invasion of Iraq--a misbegotten project that drove the last nail in the coffin of the U.S. economy--wiles away his days attending the meetings of various corporate boards.
If you were expecting Barack Obama to deliver justice, forget it. "I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards," Obama said recently. "Look forward" is Beltwayese for "no accountability."
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's $250 million loan to The New York Times is an ominous move that raises questions about ownership in media companies. Major media companies should not be in the hands of a capitalist with loyalties to a foreign state.
THE $250-million loan by billionaire Carlos Slim to The New York Times Co. is said to be innocent of any motive of influencing U.S. news and opinion. Perhaps that is so, but it would have been better had the question never come up.
Slim is the richest man in Mexico, and second-richest in the world after Warren Buffett. He became that way by buying Telefonos de México in 1990. The phone company was a monopoly of the Mexican state and it became a monopoly of Carlos Slim.
Slim used his gains to create the largest cellphone company in Latin America, América Móvil. Slim companies are said to make up one-third, by value, of all the shares traded on Mexico's stock exchange.
Of his politics, the International Herald Tribune wrote last year, "Slim has been careful not to support openly any political party."
Careful — yes.
In September, Slim bought an interest in The New York Times Co. reported at 6.9 percent. Now he has agreed to lend $250 million at 14 percent interest. The loan comes with warrants to buy stock that would increase Slim's stake to 17 percent of the company.
Slim would have a much smaller share of the votes, however, because the Sulzberger family, which has controlled The New York Times since 1896, has special shares with more than one vote. Slim will have no seat on the board of directors, at least for now.
Still, the move is ominous. Ownership matters. Slim is a capitalist with a close connection to the Mexican state. He is buying a substantial stake in the most politically influential newspaper in the United States, and he easily has the wealth to buy the whole thing.
The future of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and of the men held there, has been at the top of the news this week -- President Obama has ordered the facility closed, one released detainee has now become the head of Al Qaeda in Yemen, and some around the world are calling for war crimes tribunals to be held over the torture some prisoners survived during rendition.
In this Boing Boing video episode, we are introduced to Binyam Ahmed Mohamed, an Ethiopian man in his thirties (ACLU bio and a detailed report about his case here). Mr. Mohamed survived extraordinary rendition, secret detention, and torture by the U.S. government working with various other governments worldwide.
The story of what he endured, which included horrific sexual violence during interrogation, was painful for us to watch in the studio, when we were editing this preview piece. But all of us on the BB Video team felt like this was an incredibly important story for the world to hear, and we were grateful for the ability to draw greater attention to the story at this time.
Speaking on my own behalf here: What happens with Guantánamo and the legal process surrounding the men still held there should matter to each person who reads this blog post. The safety of our nation does not require us to abandon universally-recognized principles of human rights. Torture and disappearances do not make America more secure.
Paraphrasing what one person from WITNESS told us in email -- if more Americans realized they live in a nation where, on a street corner in the town where you live, any one of us could be picked up, pushed into an unmarked van, then moved around detention centers all over the world, tortured, without a charge or a word to your family, surely there would be more outcry.
OUTLAWED was produced around the time when the Council of Europe issued a report on the topic of extraordinary rendition and torture involving America's "War on Terror." To document why those issues matter, WITNESS created a coalition with a number of US human rights and social justice 'project partners' such as Amnesty and the ACLU to distribute the video.
Mr. Mohamed is still being held at Guantánamo Bay.
Promises on the campaign trail are one thing, as are position statements posted on one's campaign website. But positions posted at Whitehouse.gov by a President are quite another and raise the bar, as far as I'm concerned, in regard to holding feet to the fire for any particular promise, statement, or posted position.
Thus, while perusing President Barack Obama's new White House website last night, there was much I found of interest. There was a bit, here and there, on issues of Election Reform --- particularly of note to this site, of course --- which I'm sure I'll get to in a bit. But, for the moment, this comment from the "Technology" page caught my eye, as posted in the section titled "Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Ideas through an Open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets" [italics mine]...
One of the reasons I was most looking forward to the likely-victory of John Kerry back in 2004, was so that I could begin to make his life a living hell in regards to Media Reform, the most important --- in my opinion --- reform of all at this particular point in the 21st Century. While the Supreme Court has declared many times that the right to vote is protective of all other rights, I'd suggest that the right to be informed, accurately, via our nation's publicly owned airwaves, is the right that ensures our right to vote is ultimately protective of anything.
With our current hard right-leaning corporate media landscape, every attempted reform, including Election Reform, by any Democratic administration, must overcome a nearly impossible crucible of rightwing opposition --- and more disturbingly, propaganda --- across the nation's public airwaves.
That built-in impediment --- not faced by policy agenda from the Right, which, in fact, benefits from that unholy and unAmerican (yes, unAmerican) imbalance --- must end, if this country is ever to find its equilibrium, and restore itself from the twenty year imbalance that has quietly decayed the nation's sense of Reality-based policy since Ronald Reagan dismantled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.
That quiet change to 38 years of direct governmental oversight, attempting to ensure responsible corporate use of, and balance on, the publicly owned airwaves since it was first established in 1949, quickly paved the way for the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Reillys, Ingrahams, Liddys, Bennetts, Pragers, Medveds and other ditto-headed miscreants, propagandists and ideological-driven Savages to take unfettered and virtually insurmountable 24/7/365 control of the nation's hearts and minds vis a vis the public broadcast spectrum. With that non-stop, disinformative, brainwash-wire pumped around-the-clock into virtually every rush-hour bound vehicle of the American electorate, it was only a matter of time before the same falsely-propped up beliefs and agenda were echoed in the non-regulated realm of corporate cable news.
And, to finally kick that folly into overdrive, President Bill Clinton ensured that whatever independent media voices remained on the public spectrum would soon be swallowed up by corporate behemoths via his Telecommunications Act of 1996 which would destroy any last remnants of protection against local and national media monopolies.
So, here we are, wondering --- no matter who you believe actually won the Presidential Elections of 2000 and 2004 --- how it could be that a failure like George W. Bush could even come close to winning a national election, and how it could be that so many Americans have been duped into voting, again and again and again, against their own best interests in the belief that they are doing the very opposite.
To paraphrase the Bill Clinton campaign of 1992: It's the publicly-owned airwaves, stupid.
They are ours. We issue leases to the corporations --- who have come to falsely believe they own them --- out of the kindness of our public hearts. And with that government largesse, they have a responsibility to the public which has been, by and large, completely abandoned.
Palin Has Sought to Remove Endangered Species Act Protection for the Polar Bear, Suppressed and Lied About State Global Warming Studies, and Denied That Global Warming Is Caused by Greenhouse Gas Emissions
TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today awarded Alaska Governor Sarah Palin the 2008 Rubber Dodo Award. Last year's award, which inaugurated the prize, went to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for setting a new record in refusing to add imperiled plants and animals to the endangered species list. This year's award goes to Governor Palin for fighting Kempthorne's designation of the polar bear as a threatened species.
"Governor Palin has waged a deceptive, dangerous, and costly battle against the polar bear," said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Her position on global warming is so extreme, she makes Dick Cheney look like an Al Gore devotee."
Palin has waged a deceptive public relations campaign, asserting that the polar bear is increasing. But many populations (including Alaska's southern Beaufort Sea) are in decline and two-thirds (including all Alaska bears) are projected to disappear by 2050 by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Palin has repeatedly asserted that Alaska Department of Fish and Game scientists found fatal flaws in the sea ice models used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the polar bear is threatened. When challenged, Palin refused to release the alleged state review. Independent scientists eventually obtained a summary through the federal Freedom of Information Act, revealing that Palin had lied: The state mammalogists concurred with the Fish and Wildlife Service determination that Arctic sea ice is melting at an extraordinary rate and threatens the polar bear with extinction.
"All global warming deniers are eventually forced to suppress scientific studies, and Palin is no different," said Suckling. "To maintain her ludicrous opposition to protecting the polar bear in the face of massive scientific consensus, Palin stepped over the line to lie about and suppress government science."
Palin has since filed a frivolous lawsuit against the Bush administration to have the threatened listing overturned. Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey announced on September 16th that the 2008 summertime Arctic sea-ice melt was the second greatest on record, nearly matching the extraordinary melt of 2007.
"Palin's insistence that Arctic melting is 'uncertain' is like someone debating the theory of gravity as they plunge off a cliff," said Suckling. "It's hopeless, reckless, and extremely cynical."
The global economic crisis claimed its first government yesterday when Iceland's ruling coalition collapsed amid a cacophony of popular protest.
The Government of Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister, resigned en masse after days of mounting anger over the country's financial meltdown.
The protests, which began peacefully after the nationalisation and overnight bankruptcy of Iceland's three main banks, turned violent last week with the nation experiencing its worst riots in 60 years.
At their height 32,000 people — more than 10 per cent of Iceland's population — took to the streets of Reykjavik banging pots and pans in what came to be known as the "Household Revolution".
The final collapse of the Government came after talks between the two coalition partners failed over who would lead a new administration. Mr Haarde, the leader of the Independence Party, said that he planned to seek a government of national unity with all parties in parliament to lead the country into fresh elections.
"I really regret that we could not continue with this coalition," he said. "I believe that that would have been the best result." Icelanders did not agree. The Government's approval rates — 72 per cent a year ago — stood at 20 per cent last week.
In a single year, the Arctic lost an area the size of Alaska. So how long before it melts altogether? Juliette Jowit meets the British explorers risking their lives to find out
Meeting Pen Hadow for the first time is something of a shock. He is the first man in history to have managed one of the ultimate feats of human endurance - to trek solo and unaided to the North Pole. But instead of the great strapping giant of a man you might expect, the 46-year-old is slightly built, and his hand, when he shakes mine hello, is almost the hand of a woman. As Hadow talks his breath frosts the air in front of his face, but he looks unperturbed while sitting still in this giant concrete freezer. Such small extremities, along with his brown eyes, olive skin and naturally low heart rate, make him ideally suited to a life of spending months at a time alone or responsible for teams of amateurs in one of the most inhospitable environments on earth.
By TOM DANEHY
Here's a list of all of the things I'm going to miss about you: