Ruminating Again

  Just to get it out of the way, my thoughts on this ‘holiday’ haven’t changed since my earlier post. All the spin and political soundbites, the one-day sales and commercials, the war-mongering and propaganda have buried the truth, along with what little decency we had as a nation. The unfashionable virtues of humanity and love, of fellow-feeling and compassion, of peace and good will now only exist on the personal level. Americans as individuals (or at least most of them, including some we all recognize as assholes politically) are generally more caring than their government, even if they loudly support a draconian regime. Read More

Acoustic Reverie

I recall visiting the homes of childhood friends and often noticing the droning presence of an AM radio. I recall riding in the cars of their parents and the radio always on. When I got to junior high school, I recall friends doing their homework in the living room or family room with the television on. If you asked them, they would swear up-and-down they had to have the TV on in order to do their homework. More often than not, the parents grew up in the Golden Age of Radio and kept the radio on just for company long after the novelty of wireless wore off and their favorite shows disappeared.

When I arrived at an urban college in a wholly different part of the country, I confirmed these practices were not peculiar to the rural mountain people I grew up among. Underground FM stations, amplified through battling component stereo systems, cut through the walls of the dorms and apartments. It was normal for students to go about their business oblivious to the acoustic chaos all around, and a lot them again claimed they could not do without it. One popular justification was, “I am trying to drown out the noise on the street”, or next door, or upstairs. Real noise was somehow distinguished from the cacophony of phonograph recordings and broadcast programs. Real noise was anything but their noise. It was up to each individual to carve out his or her own acoustic territory. It was a personal declaration. It was your personal soundtrack. Read More

David Michael Green…, Again

Here’s another one posted this week over at Common Dreams by David Michael Green that is well worth the read…, and echoes sentiments about the Wee Bush administration that I have earlier expressed here at The Agonist. In the interest of full disclosure…, I did steal the “Wee Bush” monicker from DMG…, though he didn’t use it here, he comes up some other descriptive monickers.

Thank You, Donald?

Call me a jerk if you want to (you won’t be the first), but I kinda like it when bad things happen to bad people. I especially appreciate it when greedy plutocrats who run over the weakest of us to in order to make themselves even richer and more powerful get handed their lunch.

Sadly, mine is a largely unrequited desire, and an altogether lonely avocation. It just doesn’t happen so very often that the world’s most deserving get their just reward. There might be justice in the cosmos, but I regret to say that I’ve not had the pleasure of encountering a whole lot of it in this lifetime.

Lately, though, I’ve been getting bruises on my butt from falling off my chair so often, as the crimes of more than a decade ago are miraculously now getting some attention. That’s not the same as justice, mind you. It ain’t even close. But it’s way more than ever happened at the time, and it’s way more than I ever expected. And, um – since you asked – it’s also damn fun.

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Managing the Pain

  I recently got into a discussion on FB about rising heroin use and attendant ODs in the middle class. Some of the commenters had very personal and painful histories of losing family and the thread threatened to turn into a flame war. I dropped out, but the experience got me thinking and I decided to collect my thoughts on the matter in one place. Read More

Senate passes controversial cybersecurity bill Cisa 74 to 21

Senate votes in favor of bill critics including Edward Snowden say will allow the government to collect sensitive personal data unchecked

The Guardian, By Sam Thielman, October 27

The US Senate overwhelmingly passed a controversial cybersecurity bill critics say will allow the government to collect sensitive personal data unchecked, over the objections of civil liberties groups and many of the biggest names in the tech sector.

The vote on Tuesday was 74 to 21 in support of the legislation. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders voted against the bill. None of the Republican presidential candidates (except Lindsey Graham, who voted in favor) were present to cast a vote, including Rand Paul, who has made privacy from surveillance a major plank of his campaign platform.

Ahead of the vote a group of university professors specializing in tech law, many from the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy, sent an open letter to the Senate, urging them not to pass the bill. The bill, they wrote, would fatally undermine the Freedom of Information Act (Foia).
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The New China Syndrome

American business meets its new master

Harpers, By Barry C. Lynn, November 2015

It’s May Day, and a rambunctious crowd of well-dressed people, many carrying blue and yellow parasols, has pushed into a Ford dealership just north of Chongqing, China. Mist from a car wash catches the sun, and I watch a man in a striped shirt poke at the gleaming engine of a midsize Mondeo while his wife sits in the driver’s seat and turns the wheel. Overhead, a giant banner of a Mustang painted Communist Party red ripples in the spring breeze.

At the showroom door, I am greeted by three saleswomen who smile and stare, clearly shocked to see a Westerner. Finally, a manager leads me over to a young man, the resident expert in English. Other than the Ford logo and the corporate mantra of the moment, go further, the front of his card is entirely in Mandarin. He carefully pronounces his name for me: Yi Xuanbo. Then he leads me past a potted rubber plant to a small aluminum table and hands me a paper cup of tea.

Yi places a luxurious brochure on the table and flips to a picture of a silver Mondeo hovering over the Manhattan skyline. He then turns to a page extolling the interior and the sound system — in English, the accompanying text describes the car as “a sensory palace.” Yi tells me how much a basic Mondeo costs before taxes: 179,800 yuan, or about $28,000. I ask him whether he owns a Ford and he shakes his head, but with a smile. “I think maybe next year, I can buy one, too.”

Business Insider: China is making a new 5-Year Plan — and it’ll decide the fate of the global economy

A Massive National Security Leak Just Blew the Lid off Obama’s Drone War

The Intercept just published a huge expose of the Pentagon’s drone program.

Mother Jones, By AJ Vicens and Max J. Rosenthal, October 15

On Thursday, the Intercept published a major package of stories that reveals the inner workings of the US military’s drone program, including how and why people are targeted for assassination on the amorphous battlefields of Yemen, Somalia, and other countries. “The Drone Papers,” according to the Intercept, is based on a trove of a classified documents leaked by a whistleblower who grew concerned by the government’s methods of targeting individuals for lethal action.

“This outrageous explosion of watchlisting—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source said.

The package is a deep look into how the US military has conducted its counterterrorism operations around the world, and it comes on the same day that President Barack Obama cited the counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda as one of the two reasons to keep nearly 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for at least another year.

Amnesty International called for an immediate congressional inquiry into the drone program, saying the leaked documents “raise serious concerns about whether the USA has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as ‘combatants’ to justify their killings.”

ProPublica: Drone Papers: Leaked Military Documents Expose US ‘Assassination Complex’

The Intercept: The Drone Papers

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached

New York Times, By Jackie Calmes, October 5

Atlanta – The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, a potentially precedent-setting model for global commerce and worker standards that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership still faces months of debate in Congress and will inject a new flash point into both parties’ presidential contests.

But the accord — a product of nearly eight years of negotiations, including five days of round-the-clock sessions here — is a potentially legacy-making achievement for President Obama, and the capstone for his foreign policy “pivot” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa.
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He’s BACK — David Michael Green…,

and not much could make me happier. I have written about and linked to at least five pieces by DMG between 2010 and 2012 here at The Agonist. My intro to the last piece posted here on 6/17/12 follows:

[If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention] That’s the tag line of David Michael Green at his blog, The Regressive Antidote. I’ve been reading his stuff for a while now and have posted links to several of his writings at The Agonist…, here and here and here and here…, and on my blog. If I have to read political commentary, I don’t just want to be informed…, I want to be entertained as well. I have read most everything written by Hunter S. Thompson. He was the only political writer that could hold my attention with his acerbic and sometimes bombastic wit. There was quite a dry spell until I found Joe Bageant and his tell it like it is, no holds barred assessment of what was wrong with the political process in America. Sadly…, Joe is gone now too. But David Michael Green combines a style and vision that echos both HST and Joe B. Read More