Thursday, December 10, 2009

Public Option DOA

Obama's Rejection Speech

By David Swanson

That was not a peace prize acceptance speech. That was an infomercial for war. President Obama took the peace prize home with him, but left behind in Oslo his praise for war, his claims for war, and his view of an alternative and more peaceful approach to the world consisting of murderous economic sanctions.

Some highlights:
"There are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women — some known, some obscure to all but those they help — to be far more deserving of this honor than I."
Yet, you did argue. You argued by accepting the prize " and then making a false case for war:
"War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease — the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences."
This is simply not true of all tribes and civilizations, unless we include war making as a criterion for being considered civilized.
"The concept of a 'just war' emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence."
How dare someone responsible for illegal occupations and air strikes and the use of unmanned drones say these words? (Responsible, that is, given the failure of Congress and of we the people to stop him.)
"America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide and restrict the most dangerous weapons."
How dare a president refusing to support a treaty on land mines speak in these terms? Are we supposed to not see the actions and just hear the words?
"I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: 'Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: It merely creates new and more complicated ones.'"
Very wise. Very true. And completely violated by Barack Obama's actions and the better part of the words in this speech. Are we supposed to hear these words in a different part of our brains from the rest of the speech and its advocacy of war?

Refusing to sign the landmines agreement yet again...


The Empty Gesture of Copenhagen

by Ted Rall

NEW YORK--Our parents and grandparents fell down on the job.

"The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it." A concise summary of how the world sees this week's U.N. climate change conference, courtesy of the editorial board of the U.K. newspaper The Guardian.

The paper continued: "In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage," wrote the Guardian's editors. The implication is that time is short. And that there's still time.

Only two sides of the climate debate get covered by the media: corporate-backed pseudo-scientists who deny the greenhouse effect or claim that it's inconsequential, and liberal environmentalists pushing for the United States and other major air polluters to act to reduce carbon emissions.

Both sides of the "debate" are liars.

The energy company-financed stooges are barely worthy of contempt, much less serious rebuttal. Their claims have been addressed and thoroughly debunked, over and over, for decades. Cut from the same toxic cloth as those who collected paychecks from tobacco companies to testify that smoking was safe, they are to be pitied, reviled and, with a little luck, imprisoned after the revolution.

More problematic--and embodied by the Guardian quote above--is the Big Lie of climate change: the implication that there's still time to stave off environmental disaster.

I live in a van down by Duke University

Pinched: Tales from an Economic Downturn

How do I afford grad school without going into debt? A '94 Econoline, bulk food and creative civil disobedience
Photo by Ken Ilgunas

I was lying on the floor of my van where the middle pilot chairs used to be, trying to hide from view. This is it, I thought. They know. I'm going to get kicked out of Duke.

Moments before, I had been cooking a pot of spaghetti stew on top of a plastic, three-drawer storage container, which held all my food and my few meager possessions. I figured the campus security guard had parked next to me because he spotted the blue flame from my propane stove through the van's tinted windows and shades.

I held my breath as he shut off the engine and opened his door. I was in my boxer shorts, splayed across my stain-speckled carpet like a scarecrow toppled by the wind.

As I listened to what sounded like a pair of Gestapo jackboots approach the driver-side door, I thought about how I'd almost gotten away with it. For two whole months, I had been secretly living in my van on campus.

I'm Keeping Kosher for Christmas

For the feds, some Wall Street firms are too big — to punish

WASHINGTON — Forget too big to fail. In the eyes of federal regulators, many Wall Street firms are too big to punish.

During the past three years, some of the nation's largest financial firms have been accused by the government of cheating or misleading clients and ripping off tens of thousands of consumers of their investments.

Despite these findings, these financial giants got, sometimes repeatedly, special exemptions from the Securities and Exchange Commission that have saved them from a regulatory death penalty that could have decimated their lucrative mutual fund businesses.

Among the more than a dozen firms that have gotten these SEC get-out-of-jail cards since January 2007 are some of Wall Street's biggest, including Bank of America, Citigroup and American International Group.

Just a hoax

Palestinian files $110M libel suit over 'Bruno'

AP PhotoWASHINGTON (AP) -- A Palestinian shopkeeper and father portrayed as a terrorist in the movie "Bruno" is suing film star Sacha Baron Cohen, David Letterman and others for libel and slander.

The lawsuit filed last week by Ayman Abu Aita in District of Columbia federal court seeks $110 million in damages.

In the movie, Baron Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion journalist trying to make it big in the United States. To achieve worldwide fame, Bruno travels to the Middle East to make peace. He interviews Abu Aita, and a caption labels the Bethlehem shopkeeper as a member of the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

Abu Aita is suing CBS and Letterman's company Worldwide Pants over an interview before the film's release where the Late Show host and Baron Cohen discussed Bruno's encounter with a "terrorist."

In the interview, Baron Cohen, 37, said he set up the meeting in the West Bank with the help of a CIA agent. Baron Cohen said he feared for his safety and interviewed the "terrorist" at a secret location chosen by Abu Aita. A clip was then played on "The Late Show with David Letterman."...

Hatem Abu Ahmad, Abu Aita's Arab-Israeli lawyer, said Baron Cohen made millions "on the back of my client."

The film drew disdain from the Israelis and Palestinians portrayed in a place Bruno calls "Middle Earth."

A Bouncer's Worst Nightmare