Tuesday, April 29, 2008

World Wrestling Entertainment

Watch and listen to the presidential candidates address wrestling fans.

Hilary pledges to "go to the mat" for us all, and McCain likens the war in Iraq to a wrestling match. "Wrestling," says Old John, "is about celebrating our freedom." Could he be remembering Janis Joplin singing, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"?

Even Barack's there with an insider joke: "Do you smell what Barack is cooking?" I don't get it, but now I'm convinced that our candidates are not elitist. I hope you are, too. Or do people cling to wrestling because they're bitter?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Green Candidate

Though nearly no one is interested, I am happy to learn that Cynthia McKinney is the front-runner for the Green party presidential nomination.

Read the article here.

Then google her. She deserves the nation's attention and yours.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Aguinda vs. Texaco

Here's a more thoughtful and accurate description of the lawsuit against Texaco. Check out this article just published in the Los Angeles Times.

"Pursuing the Polluters"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chevron Sweethearts and Radical Tyrants

If you've wondered why people in the US seem to know nothing worth knowing, consider the bone-headed, gossipy questions asked by the moderators from ABC at the last presidential debate. They made Wolf Blitzer look like a philosopher.

Then have a look at this fine piece of journalism that CNN picked up from Investor's Business Daily. Here are just a few tidbits:

"Ecuador's government is part of a trifecta supporting a $16 billion lawsuit against Chevron Corp. on behalf of 30,000 rain-forest dwellers supposedly suffering from pollution created by the multinational."


"In America, the suit [against Chevron]was laughed out of court several years ago. But in the fruity logic of the country once famed as a "banana republic," it still has legs."

"Fruity logic?" "laughed out of court"?

"With a group called Amazon Watch looking to make a name for itself and an army of American tort lawyers looking for a payday, it became a plateful of trouble as colorful as anything on Carmen Miranda's head."

Carmen Miranda's head? Get it? more fruit. This is what we call an extended metaphor in Freshman composition. Clever.

"To let failed, rapacious governments like Ecuador's pursue companies like Chevron is surely an incentive for other radical tyrants. It's nothing but a $16 billion shakedown of Chevron. If these activists succeed, all that's left will be even less oil and investment in it than there is now."

The poor oil companies. In the worst world economy we've seen in years, somehow they set new profit records every quarter. But the Bush subsidies must help some, right?

So what is a radical tyrant anyway?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes: the Noble Lie

When Socrates was asked, "Who will guard the guardians?" he answered, "They will guard themselves against themselves. We must tell the guardians a noble lie: we will inform them that they are better than those they serve and it is therefore their responsibility to guard and protect those lesser than themselves. We will instill in them a distaste for power or privilege, they will rule because they believe it right, not because they desire it."

Check out the AP article on yesterday's release of the Pentagon documents that recorded prisoner abuse. My guess is that the guardians, from the top down, never quite believed the noble lie.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Petition for Condoleeza Rice to Resign

The website CondiMustGo has posted a petition asking Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama to call for Rice's resignation. Please sign the petition here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lt General Odom

I quote from a recent article by Helen Thomas:

"Congress should wake up before it's too late and listen to retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency.

"NSA is the nation's largest intelligence agency which monitors messages from all over the world.

"Odom testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and urged an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He claimed the troop surge (escalation) has prolonged instability in Iraq and that the only "sensible strategy" is "rapid withdrawal."

"In a separate speech last week, the outspoken general said, "We are certainly to blame for the chaos in Iraq" but "we do not have the physical means to prevent it."

"Odom said the military situation in Iraq is worsened by "the proliferation of armed groups under local military chiefs who follow a proliferating number of political bosses."

"We are witnessing ... the road to Balkanization of Iraq, that is political fragmentation," Odom said."

The entire article, worth your time, is here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Agents of Intolerance"?

The last time John McCain ran for president, he described the religious right as "agents of intolerance." Thank goodness he seems to have seen the light. Here he is with the defunct Rev. Falwell.

And here blissfully nestled in the arms of the president.

And finally an excerpt his Iran foreign policy speech, set irreverently to music by some intolerant YouTube scoundrel.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How Green is the Latin American Left? A Look at Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia

An article by

Daniel Denvir and Thea Riofrancos

Tuesday, 01 April 2008

Across Latin America, resurgent indigenous, labor and campesino movements have contributed to the rise of new governments that declare their independence from the neoliberal economic model, promise a more equitable distribution of wealth and increased state control over natural resources. But it is uncertain how far these new governments have gone to transform the ecologically unsustainable model of development that dominates the region.

This article examines the environmental records of governments in Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia. Over the last decade, in all three countries—as in the rest of the region—there has been growing criticism of over twenty years of neoliberal policies that have exacerbated poverty and inequality. Neoliberalism refers to a trio of economic orthodoxies: privatization of all state enterprises, liberalization of all markets, and currency stabilization. This turn against neoliberalism includes an emerging concern about environmental issues, and particularly about the way in which ecological degradation and its accompanying affects on public health are closely linked to economic exploitation.

As a result of rising oil and mineral prices coupled with global warming, almost all recent major social conflicts in the three countries have revolved around access, control, and ownership of natural resources: oil, natural gas, water, and minerals. These conflicts are centered on two separate, and at times conflicting, popular demands. First, social movements are calling for national control over natural resources. Second, these same movements—in particular those led by indigenous organizations—have also begun to criticize the extractive economic model its accompanying infrastructure of dams, pipelines and mines. This leaves the new left governments of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia in a difficult bind. Historically, the economies in each country have depended on revenues from natural resource extraction, yet the benefits have always accrued to a small elite. These governments are hard-pressed to fund social programs that redress extreme poverty and inequality without oil and gas revenues. The question remains: how can Latin America construct a sustainable economy that is ecologically and socially just?

You can read the rest of the article at upsidedownworld.org