Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Shock Doctrine

Two friends sent me links to Naomi Klein's new film "The Shock Doctrine," but before my slow internet connection could get up to speed the film magically disappeared. The website states simply and ominously that Klein's film is "no longer available." The BBC production "The Power of Nightmares" similarly became unavailable as soon as it came on the internet.

Good to know that someone is looking out for us and our freedom.

If you search a bit more, you can still find Klein's film. It's worth a look.

Ever wonder what one day of the war in Iraq would buy?

Check out this video and ask yourself if Americans really ought be allowed to vote.


One more year?

Here's a summary of the junior Bush years. Quite a legacy.


Monday, January 28, 2008

More Clinton Years?

Eight More Years?

by Ralph Nader

For Bill and Hillary Clinton, the ultimate American dream is eight more years. Yet how do you think they would react to having dozens of partisans at their rallies sporting large signs calling for EIGHT MORE YEARS, EIGHT MORE YEARS?

Don’t you have the feeling that they would cringe at such public displays of their fervent ambition which the New York Times described as a “truly two-for-the-price-of-one” presidential race? It might remind voters to remember or examine the real Clinton record in that peaceful decade of missed opportunities and not be swayed by the sugarcoating version that the glib former president emits at many campaign stops.

The 1990’s were the first decade without the spectre of the Soviet Union. There was supposed to be a “peace dividend” that would reduce the vast, bloated military budget and redirect public funds to repair or expand our public works or infrastructure.

Inaugurated in January 1993, with a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton sent a small job-creating proposal to upgrade public facilities. He also made some motions for campaign finance reform which he promised during his campaign when running against incumbent George H.W. Bush and candidate Ross Perot.

A double withdrawal followed when the Congressional Republicans started roaring about big spending Democrats and after House Speaker Tom Foley and Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell, told Clinton at a White House meeting to forget about legislation to diminish the power of organized money in elections.

For the rest of the article,


Friday, January 25, 2008

Dennis Kucinich is out, but is Bill Clinton back?

Here's what the Onion reports:

Bill Clinton: 'Screw It, I'm Running For President'

January 23, 2008 | Issue 44•04

CHARLESTON, SC—After spending two months accompanying his wife, Hillary, on the campaign trail, former president Bill Clinton announced Monday that he is joining the 2008 presidential race, saying he "could no longer resist the urge."

"My fellow Americans, I am sick and tired of not being president," said Clinton, introducing his wife at a "Hillary '08" rally. "For seven agonizing years, I have sat idly by as others experienced the joys of campaigning, debating, and interacting with the people of this great nation, and I simply cannot take it anymore. I have to be president again. I have to."

Enlarge Image Bill Clinton

"Damn, this feels good," Clinton told supporters as he shook hands in Charleston Monday.

He continued, "It is with a great sense of relief that I say to all of you today, 'Screw it. I'm in.'"

In a show of respect, Clinton then completed his introduction of Hillary Clinton, calling her a "wonderful wife and worthy political adversary," and warmly shook her hand as she approached the podium. A clearly shocked Mrs. Clinton got halfway through her speech about the nation's obligation to its children before walking briskly offstage.

A spokesman for Sen. Clinton's campaign had no comment.

"No longer will I have to endure watching candidates like Hillary Clinton engaging in single-pump handshakes with voters, as I use every last ounce of restraint not to shout out, 'No! Warm double-clasp! Warm double-clasp!'" Clinton said. "America deserves someone who can do it right."

While the announcement has come as a surprise to many, Beltway observers said it was not completely unexpected, citing footage from a recent Democratic debate that showed Clinton fidgeting in his seat, gripping the arms of his chair, and repeatedly glancing at all the television cameras while rapidly tapping his right foot. Analysts also noted one debate in which Clinton mouthed responses to all the moderator's questions while making hand gestures to himself.

Clinton told reporters Tuesday that seeing so many "Clinton '08" posters "really got [him] thinking," and said that the fact that he was already wearing a suit, and smiling and waving on the campaign trail was an added motivator.

"From signing healthcare reform legislation, to working with politicians from across the aisle, to brokering international peace treaties with foreign dignitaries, I goddamn love being president," Clinton said. "For too long has this nation been deprived of a Bill Clinton presidency, and for too long have I been deprived of being president. Now I get to experience all these wonderful things again myself."

"And the applause," Clinton added. "I look forward to the endless roar of applause perhaps most of all."

Since his announcement two days ago, Clinton has raised a staggering $550 million. He has also surged in national polls, rising from a mere 2 percent prior to his candidacy to a commanding 94 percent, ahead of former front-runners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are now tied with 3 percent each. John Edwards withdrew from the race Tuesday, saying only, "I am not worthy."

Although some have pointed out that it is unconstitutional for Clinton to run for a third term in office, he has silenced most critics by urging voters "not to worry about the Constitution for now" and assuring them he will address those legal issues immediately after regaining control of the White House.

"All I am asking of the American people is four more years," Clinton said at a fundraiser Tuesday where tens of thousands of South Carolinians gathered to stare in gape-jawed wonderment at the former president. "Well, maybe eight. Actually, you know what, definitely eight. Eight more years."

Thus far, the response among voters has been positive.

"I love Bill Clinton," said Orangeburg, SC resident Marsha Demarais. "God, he was just so great as president. Can we just make him president again right now?"

Clinton also noted that, if elected, the timing would be perfect for his family, as his wife has recently expressed a desire to move back to the D.C. area.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"What Then Must We Do?"

Both Lewis Wheelwright and Gerry St Martin have rightly pointed out that I tend to show what's wrong with the world but don't provide clear advice when students ask what they might do. I will try to provide some specifics here, but there are dangers. My way is not the way.

In 1886, Tolstoy published an account of his discovery of poverty in Moscow ("What Then Must We Do?") and his search for its cause. Tolstoy, deciding that his own "personal habits of luxury" promoted the evil of poverty, tried to give away all his wealth and renounce both church and government. He took up a Christian anarchism that led to his excommunication and he died seeking a hermitage in a remote province.

I too have renounced church and government. I live in a place in the south of Ecuador very far away. But, unlike the hermit Tolstoy, I am an activist. I read and I lecture. I build educational opportunities. Through my work, I strive to challenge injustice every day.

"But what can I do?" asks Lewis. "I don't know anything."

All right. Let me try to answer clearly.

1) Read. Education is possible inside the university and out.
Start here:
a) The Nation (a magazine)
b) The Guardian (a newpaper)
c) The Sermon on the Mount (I'm very serious about this.)
d) "Denmark and the Jews" (a chapter from Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jersulem)
e) "Letter from Birmingham Jail" (an essay by Martin Luther King)
f) "Money" (A chapter from James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men)

There is, of course, so much more. But these texts are key. I'll post a longer reading list later.

2) Find mentors. They seem to be more scarce lately (or am I just old?) I still have quite a few. When I just arrived at the University of Chicago, I heard about a professor of Shakespeare who was often too drunk to come to class. His students sought him out at a local bar and claimed he was even more inspiring there. I regret that I missed it, but I did.

3) Travel. Most of my students are doing this, of course, so the advice isn't worth much. But I would add this: travel with humility and try to learn. Most travelers do neither.

4) Become an Activist. The possibilities are immense and nearly all good, it seems to me. If you Google "how to be an activist," you will get 341,000 hits. I've not looked at many, but I will bet that they all lead to an interesting path. Find your fit. A life without activism is a tragic waste. Consider Thoreau: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Avoid quiet desperation at all costs.

5) Renounce citizenship but not politics. Superiority is relative. The idea of the superiority of any nation requires the idea of the inferiority of other nations. Edward Said wrote that the West invented the East to have someone to be better than. Don't fall for superiority. Not too long ago, before the invention of patriotism and school spirit, pride was a deadly sin. The world is divided into nations and armies in order to justify the abuse of power. Choose where to live and try to make that place better. But try to do no harm. Swear your allegiance to community and avoid any allegiance to a nation. The Hippocratic Oath is the only commandment that matters. Try not to harm yourself, others, or the planet. Pride does harm. Nations do harm.

6) Study the idea of anarchy (which is badly defined in most dictionaries). The world desperately needs more anarchists.

7) Get the news, but be skeptical. I read Al Jazeera these days because I think it important to always hear the voices of those under attack by an empire. (http://english.aljazeera.net)

8) Think about money as an analytical tool. If you live in a country where the cost of a senate campaign is more than an average annual salary, you do not live in a democracy.

9) Live deliberately (I'm quoting Thoreau.) I live in Cuenca, Ecuador, on purpose. I chose this life. You, too, can choose a life, though most people do not. Yet (it seems) we have only one life. It takes great effort to choose a life and to build it, and our culture seems not to know how.

Enough. I am sufficiently embarrassed for having revealed my pedantic side. Gerry and Lewis are to blame.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blitzer's "Tough Questions"

For a week or so, CNN has promised that Wolf Blitzer was going to ask "tough questions" during tonight's debate. I can't imagine what Wolf might think is a tough question, but I have some that he didn't think worth asking:

The Patriot Act?
New Orleans?
Valerie Plame?
Extraordinary Rendition?
The missing money from Iraqi oil?
The number of Iraqi children killed?
Cluster bombs?
The Carlyle Group?
September 11?
Election fraud?
The International Monetary Fund?
The World Bank?
The United Nations?

Blitzer did ask which candidate Martin Luther King would endorse. Jesus, Wolf.
Great question. And tough. Maybe Wolf (and America) should read Martin Luther King.

CNN, tough reporting for neocons.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Enemy's Enemy

Ecuador to open trade bureau in Iran
Sun, 20 Jan 2008 14:22:54
Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa
President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has said that his country will establish a trade bureau in Tehran to promote trade ties with Iran.

President Correa noted that his country considers Iran a suitable market for Ecuadorian goods.

"Setting up a trade bureau in Tehran is in line with Ecuador's plans for enhancement of ties with the Middle Eastern, Asian and Latin American countries," he added.

Economic ties between Tehran and Quito has seen an upward trend after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the Latin American country last year, when several MoUs were signed between the two countries.

Ecuador has vast oil and gas reserves and, following President Correa's victory in last year's election, the country decided to resume its membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after several years of absence from the organization.

Ecuador's export items include crude oil, timber, textiles and a variety of petrochemical products.


from http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=39551&sectionid=3510213

Friday, January 18, 2008


With Friends Like These: The Politics of the People Behind Facebook

check this out


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Robert Wexler Calls for Impeachment Hearings


By Representatives and Members of the Judiciary Committee:
Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

On November 7, the House of Representatives voted to send a resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. As Members of the House Judiciary Committee, we strongly believe these important hearings should begin.

The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

Now that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has indicated that the Vice President and his staff purposefully gave him false information about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent to report to the American people, it is even more important for Congress to investigate what may have been an intentional obstruction of justice. Congress should call Mr. McClellan to testify about what he described as being asked to “unknowingly [pass] along false information.” In addition, recent revelations have shown that the Administration including Vice President Cheney may have again manipulated and exaggerated evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- this time about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

--to read the rest of the text and sign the petition, go to


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Daring Democrats

As Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama shout the word "change" at one another--as if one candidate is a more devout believer in whatever they might mean by change--I wonder how anyone can vote for any candidate who has witnessed the crimes of the current administration yet is not willing to demand justice, not even willing to talk about it.

Forty years ago, Martin Luther King described the US government as the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." What would he say about our world?

And, more importantly, why do Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama say nothing while the scholars on National Public Radio argue about the definition of torture. Does it not occur to our daring democrats that we don't need to define torture? Does it not concern them that there was no Iraq exit strategy because there was no plan to exit Iraq?

Check out McGovern's article on impeachment which was actually published in the Washington Post.

Then check out Dennis Kucinich.

Why I Believe Bush Must Go
Nixon Was Bad. These Guys Are Worse.

By George McGovern
Sunday, January 6, 2008; B01

As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president.

After the 1972 presidential election, I stood clear of calls to impeach President Richard M. Nixon for his misconduct during the campaign. I thought that my joining the impeachment effort would be seen as an expression of personal vengeance toward the president who had defeated me.

Today I have made a different choice.

Of course, there seems to be little bipartisan support for impeachment. The political scene is marked by narrow and sometimes superficial partisanship, especially among Republicans, and a lack of courage and statesmanship on the part of too many Democratic politicians. So the chances of a bipartisan impeachment and conviction are not promising.

The entire article can be found at


Monday, January 14, 2008

Greg Palast's interview with Rafael Correa

Good and Evil at the Center of the Earth:
A Quechua Christmas Carol
by Greg Palast

December 24th, 2007

[Quito] I don’t know what the hell seized me. In the middle of an hour-long interview with the President of Ecuador, I asked him about his father.

I’m not Barbara Walters. It’s not the kind of question I ask.

He hesitated. Then said, “My father was unemployed.”

He paused. Then added, “He took a little drugs to the States… This is called in Spanish a mula [mule]. He passed four years in the states- in a jail.”

He continued. “I’d never talked about my father before.”

Apparently he hadn’t. His staff stood stone silent, eyes widened.

To read the complete interview, go to