“Politics is weird, and creepy. And now, I know, lacks even the loosest attachment to anything like reality.”
Allons enfants de la patrie/ Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
"Mitt Romney’s Greatest hits"
It’s begun, and it’s gonna be fucking ugly. Get ready Internet, because you begged for this shit.
Most recently, certain political commentators have started spreading misinformation about the underlying government regulation we are discussing. To be clear, through programs such as Medicaid, the government already does and should fund contraception coverage for the poorest women in our country.
But, despite the misinformation being spread, the regulation under discussion has absolutely nothing to do with government funding: It is all about the insurance policies provided by private employers and universities that are financed by individual workers, students and their families — not taxpayers.
I am talking about women who, despite paying their own premiums, cannot obtain coverage of contraception on their private insurance, even when their employer or university contributes nothing to that insurance.
This is surreal.
AOL Inc. (AOL) CEO Tim Armstrong, J.C. Penney Co. CEO Myron Ullman, Whole Foods Market Inc. Co-CEO Walter Robb and others have agreed to accelerate hiring and halt campaign giving to incumbents in Washington until Congress finds a solution to the nation’s growing debt, Starbucks said in an e-mailed statement.
Schultz is taking his campaign to the Internet and to Facebook today with the creation of Upward Spiral, “a platform for action inspired by the letter to America from Howard Schultz,” according to the website.
Oh hell yeah. Give it up to Howard Schultz for standing behind his word on this issue.
Counterpoint: Fuck Howard Schultz.
The titans of industry of this new Gilded Age are going to withhold some campaign contributions — how much of a difference is this actually going to make, in real numbers? A couple million? Contrast that with the billion-dollar campaign Obama is promising to run. Contrast that with the unmeasurable (literally) cashflow from lobbyists and special interests flooding the halls of our government.
Now, if Howard Schultz actually called for an end to lobbying as an act of protest, instead of some painfully transparent corporate PR, that would be laudatory. THAT would be worth saluting.
This is advertising designed to make you feel an irrational attachment to a brand, plain and simple. Keep your eye on the ball.
I’ve seen unflattering photos of Michele Bachmann before but… you know… DAMN!
MoJo: I know your Tumblr is probably being run by a hapless / underpaid intern, but please please please do not fall into the sexist trap of criticizing your idealogical opponents based on their appearance.
When we do this, we confirm the Other Side’s suspicions that we are just as dumb as they think we are.
Governor Christie talks about Superior Court judge Sohail Mohammed
"This Sharia law business is crap." I don’t know what’s worse: The fact that New Jerseyans are unclear about the right to religious freedom, or that Chris Christie is one of the few politicians willing to take a visible and forceful stand in defending the rights of Muslim-Americans.
I’m mostly content to ignore Glenn Beck these days; I think that a large part of his notoriety owes to tribalism on the left, and the obsessive need to have a clearly-defined Other. But in this case, Beck has careened past his usual incitements to violence and into full-on warmongering. And in the process, he’s resurrecting a narrative that pushed us to the brink of global war in 2007.
He’s back in the spotlight this week after a group of 400 Rabbis published a letter in the Wall Street Journal, demanding that Rupert Murdoch sanction Beck for his racially-charged smear campaign against George Soros. Beck responded to the ad yesterday on his radio show:
"Did you see the anti-Semitism dripping out of Rumors of War? It’s amazing how anti-Semitic I am, on the day that we release Rumors of War, that was a year in production.”
Rumors of War is a documentary on Iran and the Iranian nuclear program, produced by Beck and released earlier this week. It’s a slick rehash of the usual neoconservative saber-rattling about the urgent need for open conflict with Iran. The film hand-wrings about the country’s Shi’a Islamic leadership and their supposed obsession with the return of the 12th Imam, an event that sets off the Islamic Armageddon, Al-Malhama Al-Kubra. It’s also ridiculously paranoiac, reciting the usual falsehoods about Iran’s nuclear weapons program (for which there’s still no proof), the resultant “existential threat” to Israel, and how it’s only a matter of time before Iranian guerillas sneak a nuclear bomb across the Mexican border into the United States. Anti-immigration and Islamophobia’s dark marriage is consummated at last.
Note the title of the documentary, which is derived from the New Testament, Matthew 24:6 - And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. This is Matthew’s reference to the biblical eschaton, a warning that in the run-up to the Armageddon, we’ll start to see and hear about conflicts all over the world. This is a dog-whistle to Beck’s followers: He’s situating Israeli and U.S. opposition to Iran as part of the End Times narrative, which means an all-out war between Christianity and Islam.
And that’s the most poisonous part of all this, besides how Beck sidestepped the original issue entirely. For one, he’s arguing that being against the policies of the government of Israel is somehow the same as being anti-semitic, which is ridiculous on its face. But more importantly, he’s employing a toxic mix of imperialism and religion to tacitly endorse pre-emptive violence against Iran.
We came very close to war with Iran in 2007, and barring a seismic shift in U.S./Israeli foreign policy, it’s only a matter of time before we start to see the same drumbeat begin anew. Beck is the thought leader among conservatives, and for an audience of millions, he’s just set the tone for the coming debate.
"Could the Fed go broke? The answer to this question was ‘Yes,’ but is now ‘No,’" said Raymond Stone, managing director at Stone & McCarthy in Princeton, New Jersey. "An accounting methodology change at the central bank will allow the Fed to incur losses, even substantial losses, without eroding its capital."
The change essentially allows the Fed to denote losses by the various regional reserve banks that make up the Fed system as a liability to the Treasury rather than a hit to its capital. It would then simply direct future profits from Fed operations toward that liability.
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. It’s now formal policy within the central banking system that U.S. taxpayers are ultimately responsible for maintaining their fiscal solvency. There was no formal debate about this move, and no vote in Congress. This policy was quietly decreed by diktat and without oversight, as unaccountable private tyrannies are wont to do.
The practical ramifications are obvious: By penstroke, major financial institutions can now BMF like Rick Ross, and the onus is on us to bail them out. Fannie and Freddie in trouble again? The college loan bubble pops? Bear Sterns bilking clients out of billions? No sweat, because they can TARP to their heart’s content, and there’s not a damn thing any of us can do about it.
I’ve never been much for pseudo-libertarian conspiracy-mongering about the Federal Reserve (read: TWELVE JEW BANKERS), but this is sheer, brazen criminality on the part of major banks. This is profits-before-people amoralism, and it’s now the official policy of global finance.
TARP laid the foundational work, and we’re now witnessing the institutionalization of the central tent-pole of the new oligarchy. We are, at long last, officially a neo-feudalist state, whether or not we want to believe it.
Yesterday’s New York Times featured a lengthy exposé on the development of Stuxnet, the virus deployed by the U.S. and Israeli governments to sabotage Iran’s nuclear centrifuges at the Natanz facility in central Iran. It’s an interesting article, but perhaps not for the reasons its authors intended: This is yet another example of how our media serves as a conduit for the Pentagon’s press releases.
Regardless of what you think of Ahmadinejiad (who is mostly a figurehead in Iran, not the apocalyptic tyrant he’s portrayed as), it’s important to keep one fact in mind when reading this article: there is no evidence supporting the assertion that Iran’s nuclear program is being weaponized for military purposes. So, that said, let’s take a look at the second paragraph of this Times article:
Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.
The rest of the article follows this explicit premise: Iran is developing nuclear weapons, which means that the U.S. and Israel are justified in committing acts of cyberterrorism to shut down Iran’s nuclear program. If you needed any further proof that our country’s press corps have become the propaganda wing of the U.S. government, you’ve got it. The Times, like the rest of the media, continues to parrot the baseless claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, not because the Times has any vested interest in the matter, but simply because our government said so.
The rest of the world knows that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, which is why there is so little international support for sanctions or military action against Iran. But this is how journalism in America works now: Our government issues proclamations, and the servile reporters of Versailles-on-Potomac repeat it word for word. And for those of you wondering why America is a global pariah, you’re staring at an extremely illustrative example.
Edit: For an example of just how demented that Times piece really is, today Reuters published a report on U.N. inspections of Natanz and Arak, Iran’s two main nuclear facilities. It’s quite a coincidence that the Times would publish that article the same day U.N. inspectors were touring Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Now that’s Change We Can Believe In.
From GOOD Online, “GOP Pulls a Huck Finn Revision with the Constitution.”
This is an interesting comparison, and I think it blows apart a mistake that a lot of news outlets are making right now: giving the GOP way, way too much credit and good faith for their current shenanigans as self-appointed guardians of the con-sti-too-shun.
If schools actually taught civics in this country, we would understand that the U.S. Constitution allocates considerable power to the (gasp) federal government. All this bullshit about how it’s an elegant summation of states’ rights is exactly that: bullshit. The Constitution exists precisely because a national framework superseding the states was needed after the Articles of Confederation collapsed.
But we don’t have any concept of civics or history in this country any more. We’ve lost the vocabulary and moral grounding to push back against these claims. And so, nationalists and proto-fascists get to wrap themselves in the flag and spout out paeans to the abstractions of “limited government” and rugged individualism, and we’re so far down the memory hole that no one even gives a shit any more.
Having just reread Chris Hedges’ War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, my immediate point of reference is where he discusses how nationalism and war have a way of perverting our sense of history, and I think this is a perfect example. Hedges is a way more elegant writer than me, so I’m just gonna quote him directly:
"The potency of myth is that it allows us to make sense of mayhem and violent death. It gives a justification to what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and stupidity. It allows us to believe we have achieved our place in human society because of a long chain of heroic endeavors, rather than accept the sad reality that we stumble along a dimly lit corridor of disasters. It disguises our powerlessness. It hides from view our own impotence and the ordinariness of our own leaders. By turning history into myth we transform random events into a chain of events directed by a will greater than our own, one that is determined and preordained. We are elevated above the multitude. We march toward nobility. And no society is immune.
Most national myths, at their core, are racist. They are fed by ignorance. Those individuals who understand other cultures, speak other languages, and find richness in diversity are shunted aside. Science, history, and psychology are often twisted to serve myth. And many intellectuals are willing to champion and defend absurd theories for nationalist ends.”
When I ask Ghobadi about his hopes for the role his film might play in presenting a new perspective on Iran to the rest of the world, he demurs: “There is a tale I know from my grandfather, from his grandfather, and so on. A tale that is in the bosom of every person who lives in the Middle East. When the great powers, the Western countries, came into the region, they were absolutely indifferent with the welfare of the people. Any kind of meaningful reform or supposed help was never substantial enough to lead to progress and reform. So for the last century, Iran has been at odds with indifferent superpowers that act primarily to serve their own interests. And at the same time, Iranians are now faced with the absolutely dictatorial, oppressive behavior of the current Iranian regime and individuals in it.”
As a measure of his conviction in confronting that regime, Ghobadi allowed the film to remain in public domain so that anyone in Iran can watch it online, circumventing the country’s censors. “It’s a way for me to fight an unjust and corrupt system,” Ghobadi says. “I refuse to be at the mercy of the Iranian government, who have total control over which movies can be shown and which can’t. And I will continue to fight for the sake of myself, for all artists and for the Iranian people, so that we may have a freer exchange of ideas across borders.”
It’s been a few months since Persian Cats got released in the U.S., but I think this piece is probably more relevant than ever now—Jeffrey Goldberg’s super-flimsy cassus belli comes immediately to mind. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a mild fixation with Iranian culture and politics, but it’s hard to overstate how much people should be paying attention to what’s going on with Iran. The case is once again being made for an attack on the country, just as it was in ‘06/’07, only this time the debate is being framed as whether or not the U.S. will allow or abet the inevitable Israeli attack aimed at “halting Tehran’s nuclear program.” And the narrative is remarkably, and purposefully, similar (crazy Ron Paul making one of his occasional clear-headed points) to the bill of goods we were sold about the fierce, urgent need to attack Iraq. So let’s clear two things up:
(1) There is very little to no proof that Iran’s nuclear program is for anything other than energy, by the admission of our own intelligence agencies.
(2) Iran does not constitute anything remotely close to an “existential” threat to Israel, much less the entirety of Western Civilization. Justifications for labeling Iran an existential threat are almost always based entirely off of mistranslated remarks Mahmoud Ahmadinejiad made to the U.N. in October of 2005.
It’s very easy to beat the drums of war against a nation that’s been stereotyped as a rogue Islamic fundamentalist state. The summer 2009 protests—which gave many people their first glimpse of Iran’s tech-savvy, cosmopolitan youth population—helped disabuse us of this notion, ever so slightly.
And that’s a big part of the reason I wrote this article, besides the fact that the movie is really, really good and you should definitely go see it. It’s that much harder to turn an entire country into an “other” deserving to shot, imprisoned, blown up and invaded when people realize that hey, those scary Persians are actually just like us. (They even like the same music!) In my own small—and, realistically, inconsequential—way, I wanted to add to the frenzied discourse presently surrounding Iran. Silent witnesses and history and all that.