Saturday, November 27, 2010

The World Grows a Little Darker

I just found out today an author and critic of American foreign policy whom I greatly admire, Chalmer's Johnson, passed away last week. There aren't many people out there in the world who I have enough admiration for to call a hero of mine, but Johnson was one of them. This is a terrible shame.

Johnson authored three books which made up the "Blowback" trilogy, which sought to examine the United States continues imperial ambitions even in the wake of the collapse of the former USSR. Chalmer's had fully expected the United States to significantly, if not totally, disarm afterwards, but what he saw the US do instead (look for a replacement threat which it quickly found in Saddam Hussein and now Islamic Terrorism), astonished him and forced him to re-examine his views on the United States position of authority on the world stage. From that sprung Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic

In summarizing Blowback, Chalmers said:
"In Blowback, I set out to explain why we are hated around the world. The concept "blowback" does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to and in foreign countries. It refers to retaliation for the numerous illegal operations we have carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public. This means that when the retaliation comes as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 -- the American public is unable to put the events in context. So they tend to support acts intended to lash out against the perpetrators, thereby most commonly preparing the ground for yet another cycle of blowback. In the first book in this trilogy, I tried to provide some of the historical background for understanding the dilemmas we as a nation confront today, although I focused more on Asia -- the area of my academic training -- than on the Middle East."

For anyone who is looking to put the last decade of American foreign policy into perspective, read Noam Chomsky, read Jeremy Scahill, and most definitely read Chalmers Johnson.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Whose Bright Idea Was It?

Why do people insist on putting chunks of fruit in yogurt and smoothies? It confuses my mouth and makes me sick to my stomach. Honestly, if you were drinking a coke and suddenly a piece of something solid slipped down your throat, you'd probably stop drinking it for fear that you just consumed someone's backwash. So, why should drinking a smoothie or eating yogurt be any different?

Yogurt, I know, is kind of solid, and so fruit chunks make a little more sense, but still, you don't really eat yogurt. Do you put yogurt in your mouth and chew it? Of course not, you just put it in and swallow it, which makes it some odd in-between of a food and a beverage. I like to eat strawberries and bananas, but I don't want solid versions of them in my drinks!

I guess I'm trying to say that if you put anything solid in yogurt and smoothies, you suck. Give me some Trix or Danimals any day, and keep the fruit out of my beverages!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Glenn Greenwald Speaks about the Terms 'Civil Liberties' and 'Terrorism' as used in Popular Media in the Age of Obama

Glenn Greenwald on civil liberties and terrorism after Obama from The Badger Herald on Vimeo.

Here's a great video of a lecture given by Glenn Greenwald on civil liberties and terrorism and why these terms are so relevant during the Obama presidency.

He gives a good definition of Civil Liberties and discusses the terminologically vacuous term tossed around so flagrantly: terrorism, and why it really has no meaning. In the process, he talks about America's, and our allies, own acts of terrorism and the double-standard we like to apply to our actions vs. those of "the terrorists."

More importantly, he talks about why limits on executive power are important regardless of who holds office, and the fact that there exists no such thing as a truly magnanimous leader who doesn't require the limitations placed on the executive by the Constitution.

Please, watch it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Don Draper is One Confused SOB

I love Mad Men, and I never realized just how lost Don Draper apparently is.

Olbermann Fails to Disclouse Campaign Contribution to Democratic Candidates

According to a story on, Keith Olbermann donated about $2,400 to several Democratic candidates. Olbermann subsequently failed to disclose this fact on-air. The story is based on a story found at Read Here

It seems like there are two issues here: one is whether an opinionated host like Olbermann should be allowed by his employer to give to political candidates. And the other is whether, if he does contribute, he should disclose that fact when he interviews said candidates. The first question is debatable; the second seems like an issue of basic ethics.
You, know it really makes it hard to go after Fox for their shenanigans when the other networks and their hosts are continually failing to distinguish themselves from their Fox counter-parts.

UPDATE: Removed video about Olbermann suspending the Worst Person in the World Segment because it looks like because of Olberman''s undisclosed contributions to Democratic candidates, he's being canned by NBC.

I'm really flabbergasted. My comment above concerning the other networks becoming indistinguishable from Fox may have been a bit premature. I don't think we'll ever see Fox letting go one of their own because they contributed to any political campaigns, especially the Republican party.

Salon, it appears, hasn't sourced this update, so maybe it's merely a rumor? I doubt it, and if it's not, all I can say is , "Wow."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh, and By the Way...

Yesterday, November 4th, was two years since I had my life saving (and life-altering) double lung transplant. After 21 years with Cystic Fibrosis. When I finally get my mind settled, I'm going to try and write some kind of retrospective/then-and-now kind of thing to detail where I've come. It might surprise a few people.

Red Wave? Blue Thunder? Either Way, Democrats Got Off Easy

Just a quick post. Here's a video from Dylan Ratigan's program featuring Cenk Uygar and Glenn Greenwald, whom I have nothing but admiration for. They're discussing why Tuesday's election turned out the way it did, specifically why the left didn't turn out for him and the Democrats. In short: they didn't deliver on their promises. View it here.

Basically, their point is that Obama built up all that good will back in '08, made his promises for campaign finance reform, regulating the banks, providing health care for all Americans, mainly through the public option (which most Americans favored, myself included), accountability for our actions in the war on terror; as well as getting the hell out of Iraq (can't remember if Afghanistan was promised as well).

Not only has the president not delivered, he has embraced so many of the methods, policies, and attitudes that he rode into the white house on.

I was actually expecting a worse outcome for the Democrats in this election, certainly the media, Fox in particular, made a big stink about the inevitable losses for the Dems. Very little has been accomplished that I'm pleased with since '08, despite this, the election of certain elements on the Right to power are doubly frightening, especially some Tea Party candidates who were elected, like Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio.

This is not to say I think a John Boehner or Michelle Bachman are necessarily better choices. But some of Rand Paul's positions on issues were disturbing. The civil rights act of the 1964 was a mistake because business owners should be allowed to kick patrons out because of their skin color/religion/sexual orientation?

In any case, getting tired, so I need to warp this up. Might have more to say later.