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The Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision reverberates strongly in my consciousness when I read articles like this one from Tom’s Dispatch.  I am still at a loss as how to compute the base equation of $ = Free Speech, because, well… it doesn’t.

Certainly money grants access, but it begets the question:  Should it?     I mean, how could the Justices not see the folly in quantizing what was formerly a non-fungible good?

The dumpsterfire (dtrumpsterfire?) that is the current US polity illustrates that change (and not of the positive variety) is happening, that is not only destabilizing the US, but the world as well.

 

“In March of 2015, for instance, two months before The Donald tossed his hair into the presidential ring, in a post at TomDispatch I asked if “a new political system” was emerging in America and summed the situation up this way:

“Still, don’t for a second think that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state. Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.”

We’re now living in Donald Trump’s America (which I certainly didn’t either predict or imagine in March 2015); we’re living, that is, in an ever more chaotic and aberrant land run (to the extent it’s run at all) by billionaires and retired generals, and overseen by a distinctly aberrant president at war with aberrant parts of the national security state.  That, in a nutshell, is the America created in the post-9/11 years.  Put another way, the U.S. may have failed dismally in its efforts to invade, occupy, and remake Iraq in its own image, but it seems to have invaded, occupied, and remade itself with remarkable success.  And don’t blame this one on the Russians.”

-Tom Engelhardt writing at  Tom’s Dispatch

I’m not sure why people are having such problems dealing with factual reality.

Whether it be the gender-queer crowd and their patented ability not to understand that sex and gender are not the same thing or here today with this story about the head of the EPA not accepting the fact that CO2 is a significant green house gas and pumping more of it into the atmosphere threatens human existence as we know it.

   “The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday he is not convinced that carbon dioxide from human activity is the main driver of climate change and said he wants Congress to weigh in on whether CO2 is a harmful pollutant that should be regulated. 

   Pruitt, 48, is a climate change denier who sued the agency he now leads more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general. He said he was not convinced that carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal is the main cause of climate change, a conclusion widely embraced by scientists. “

What the ever living frak is this malarkey?  Predictably, scientists are call Pruitt’s bullshit for what it is.

“Scientists immediately criticized Pruitt’s statement, saying it ignores a large body of evidence collected over decades that shows fossil fuel burning as the main factor in climate change.

“We can’t afford to reject this clear and compelling scientific evidence when we make public policy. Embracing ignorance is not an option,” Ben Santer, climate researcher at  Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement.

The Supreme Court unleashed a fury of regulation and litigation when it ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases are an air pollutant that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Two years later, the EPA declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants.

Pruitt said the Supreme Court’s decision should not have been viewed as permission for the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

“Decisions were made at the executive branch level that didn’t respect the rule of law,” Pruitt said in his Houston speech.

Pruitt has previously said the EPA should not regulate CO2 without a law passed by Congress authorizing it to do so. The Republican-controlled Congress could potentially issue a strong signal to the EPA that carbon dioxide should not be regulated by the agency, a move that would undermine many Obama-era rules aimed at curbing emissions.”

When Florida is mostly underwater, then – maybe – these people will understand what AGW is.

 

[Source: cbc.ca]

neo_liberalism  Much has happened in the world in the past few months. Especially since November 8, when the “left” or the “progressives” in the USA and indeed the world have been crapping their pants about some orange skinned person with homunculus like hands winning the seat of most powerful person in the world. While as concerning as this is to me (it really is), what has been more concerning to me has been how the Democratic Party and it’s supporters have been acting even before the election and their actions since. What I mean by that is, what difference does it make if Trump is in power if the alternative to him is no different or perhaps worse in some ways.

Enter Caitlin Johnstone into my radar a few weeks ago. Not only is she saying everything I have been noticing going on with the progressive side of the USA, but she does it with style and a flair that is beyond my writing skills. Her voice needs to be amplified by people who feel that the left has been co-opted by the neo-liberals in a drive to make the choice between neo-liberal and ultra-neo-liberal.

Here are some excerpts of what I love about her:

Caitlin Johnstone on the corporate media:

  “It’s been a trippy last few days, and if you’ve been listening to mainstream media it’s even trippier because everything’s on fire and we’re all about to die. In real life though, the world is still turning, the sun is still shining, and Republicans are just doing a somewhat milder version of the same idiotic dance they’ve always done. We’re essentially getting the same anti-science, anti-environment, pro-billionaire schtick we would’ve gotten had any other Republican won the presidency, minus the wars and predatory trade deals that the neocons love.

  This is hardly the goose-stepping, minority-incinerating dystopian apocalypse that the establishment media was promising us in the event of a Trump win. They’re still trying to paint it as though their alarmist prophecies have come true, but they have not. Sure it’s weird and stupid and kind of uncomfortable, but we are unquestionably living in a safer world than we would have been under a President Clinton. This is important for progressives to notice, because by cranking up the alarmism to eleven and freaking out about literally everything Donald Trump says and does, the neoliberal establishment is setting us up for their next move”

This safer world being talk about is because the No-Fly-Zone in Syria is something Candidate Clinton routinely said she would impose. In debates even.

Caitlin Johnstone on the Democratic Party’s refusal to own up to their betrayal of Sanders and refusal to change:

  “To this day, the elites of the Democratic party are doing everything they can to avoid addressing the DNC’s brazen assault on American democracy the way everyone knows they should. In any sort of functional democratic political system this outrageous scandal would have been met with unequivocal condemnation from the top to the bottom, with the President personally overseeing a complete overhaul of the Committee and all the party’s leaders apologizing profusely to the American people and doing everything they could to make it better, including a complete re-do of the primary under close, stringent oversight. Instead they’re babbling about Russian hackers and trying desperately to get the average American to care about Kremlin operatives more than they care about having to work three jobs to make ends meet in the Walmart economy.”

Caitlin Johnstone on just how awesome Tulsi Gabbard is:

  “Gabbard somehow refrained from unleashing the torrent of shrieking, profanity-laced vitriol I definitely would have blasted him with had I been in her shoes, maintained her composure without batting an eye, and patiently explained why Tapper is stupid and wrong about everything. She swatted aside the limp pundit’s feeble protestations as she finally spoke of her findings in Syria, the people’s unbelievable suffering at the hands of the terrorist insurgents, their confusion as to why the United States is backing terrorist factions, and the fact that she did not meet a single person who believed that there were moderate rebels in Syria. It’s definitely worth a watch; here’s a hyperlink if you missed it the first time.”

On why Obama doesn’t deserve special credit for commuting Chelsey Manning’s sentence:

  “In terms of what’s left of his legacy, all that Obama gets from me is one less thing to hate him for. When I’m going to bed at night, there will be one less thing on my extremely long list of evil things that he has done for me to rage about. He’s still the guy who got Chelsea Manning tortured and nearly killed. He’s still the guy who chose to let her rot in isolation long after the United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez stated unequivocally that Manning’s treatment was “cruel, inhuman and degrading” and after 295 legal scholars signed a letter declaring that she was being “detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.” He’s still the guy who left her in that hell hole after not one but two suicide attempts. He’s still the guy who promised to protect whistleblowers and have the most transparent administration in history, then went on to prosecute more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. The man is evil, and his ceasing to inflict more evil in this one particular area does not change that. He’s probably only doing it to bait Assange out of political asylum anyway.”

And finally Caitlin Johnstone on what I consider to be the actual problem, the neo-liberal takeover of the progressive parties in western democracies:

  “The Democrats had taken a severe beating starting with the neoliberal establishment’s evisceration of Jimmy Carter back in the late seventies and early eighties, but Bill Clinton figured out that you can still rake in big bucks from the donor class and give them everything they want in exchange as long as you pay lip service to the things the political left cares about. Under Slick Willy’s leadership, the so-called New Democrats took on the mantra of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal,” which was another way of saying they don’t care what you do in your bedroom or what color your skin is, as long as you help them crush you to death with the Walmart economy and sell your life blood to Wall Street.”

I hope these paragraphs that I have shared has encouraged you to give Caitlin a visit. She’s currently talking about how to retake the Democratic Party and why it’s important to attack the neo-liberals on the left rather than on the right. I hope you find her as awesome as I do!

 

 

 

 

Where do elite priorities lie?  Follow the coverage.

“Q: Moving on, has the media changed landscape since you wrote ‘Manufacturing Consent’ in 1989? Is the media manufacturing consent now?

A: Well, we didn’t actually say that media is manufacturing consent; we said that -that is what they are trying to do. We discussed the nature of the media. There’s a separate question – to what extent is it effective? And that’s an interesting question, but we didn’t discuss it. They’re still doing it in the same way. In fact, dramatically. Take November 8, two things of critical significance happened on November 8. One of them was massively reported, the other, which was much more important, received no report – that was the Marrakesh Conference of two hundred countries that tried to implement the Paris programmes to try to save the human species from destruction. That’s a lot more important than what happened in the US election. And, in fact, it was undermined by the US election. What happened in Morocco is astounding if you look at it; one country was leading the way to try to save civilization from self-destruction. One country was way behind, trying to lead the way towards self-destruction, the first was China the second was the United States. That is a remarkable spectacle. Did you see a comment on it?

Q: Nothing.”

 

Noam Chomsky interviewed in the Sri-lankan Daily Mirror.

Nice to see more people who get it.

“Nour-The latest songs for the famous Egyptian rapper Zap Tharwat featuring for the first time the renowned Actress Amina Khlail. The song was developed under the leadership of the National Council for Women in collaboration with UN Women Egypt Country Office with the generous support of the Embassy of Japan”

A loud alarm clock startled me awake
The interview day reminded me of my first job
Many competent engineers are striving for this position
All of which have minimal life experience
The last CV remaining belongs to “Nour Abdel-Karim”
An old page from his diary fell from the application file
Nour is the eldest among his two sisters,
He never complained for taking their responsibilities
Among other pressures, his friends always criticized him:
“What will you do with knowledge? What will education add to you?”
He always had an answer, and never lost focus of his goal
His mother constantly supported and encouraged him
But, his father’s sudden illness caused a great burden
He needed to find a way to support his family,
So he worked in his father’s car shop and said he will forget about his studies,
In a few months he gained the title “Boss”, just like his father
In secret, he continued his studies with the support of his professors
They considered his situation and understood his constant absence
His graduation was like a dream come true,
Finally he is a Mechanical Engineer
Then, the news of his father’s passing hit him like a bullet
Because of his constant struggles, he had learned how to be patient
As I turned the page of the diary, I had made my decision
to hire him, he seems to be like the perfect candidate

I will not be marginalized, nor will I accept being idly shelved
This world progresses, because we are both equally walking the same line
I lead and challenge circumstances you don’t go through
“His” role will never be completed without “Her” role

It is time for the interview, I am excited to meet him
To hear more about his life, his dreams, his circumstances
But the reality is that “Nour” did not turn to be a man,
There is a girl standing in front of me and saying “hello”, I do not understand
I astonishingly asked “Is your name Nour Abdel Karim”?
She nodded with a smile “Hello, and you are?”
I asked again, “Do you have siblings?” She said, “Yes, young sisters”
And I’ve been responsible for them since my father’s death
I was shocked that her answer was the same as what I’ve read
A thousand voices in my mind echo: It’s unbelievable, how can this be?!
How did she work at a car shop?
How was she the backbone for her family?
How did she overcome those hardships? She’s a woman, not a man.
How will male workers address her and call her “boss”?
How will I say that I chose a “female” Mechanical Engineer?
Voices in my head condemning the question and the answer
The voice condemns the hesitation and orders me to agree
My conscious reminded me that I had long made my decision
Will I change my mind because she is a woman?
Shame on me! for thinking that way. I must apologize to her.
How can I let myself be influenced by these sick and outdated thoughts?
I came back to my senses and gave Nour back her diary page
I told her: “I know a lot about your life”;
“Congratulations on the new job, I am sure you will succeed,
And I wish this will be a happy experience in your life”

I will not be marginalized, nor will I accept being idly shelved
This world progresses, because we are both equally walking the same line
I lead and challenge circumstances you don’t go through
“His” role will never be completed without “Her” role

John Pilger does what a journalist is supposed to do.  He questions decisions made by those who are in charge and hold them to account for their decisions.  As witnessed during the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003 most of the easily accessible media in the West is, for the most part uncritical and (appallingly) accepting of what those in power want us to believe.

This isn’t new information  – let’s go back to 1946.

“In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

Stirring up fear and blind patriotism is the first ingredient in the propagandist’s recipe book.  For people who are afraid, are all to willing to forget their common humanity when they perceive a “threat” to their future.

The real reasons we fight ‘terrorism’ and ‘defend our freedoms’.

“The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.

The same fate awaited Slobodan Milosevic once he had refused to sign an “agreement” that demanded the occupation of Serbia and its conversion to a market economy. His people were bombed, and he was prosecuted in The Hague. Independence of this kind is intolerable.

As WikLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.

From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics – the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage.”

Actual freedom and actual independence are the official enemies.  There is no international glorious commitment to human rights and freedoms, but rather, the economic and political machinations of state that are the true driver of the various ‘humanitarian interventions’ across the globe.

Did you need to see this in action on a smaller scale.  Well, there just happens to be a captioned poster for that.

northdakotapipeline

This is why words like ‘power’ and ‘justice’ must be so carefully defined and put into the proper context – because people experience these concepts in vastly different ways depending on their place in the social hierarchy.  It is particularly fair?  Not even close, but it is how power, and by extension, how our society works.

State terrorism and religious terrorism are directly correlated.

“According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. The Unicef report on the children killed says, “most [of them] under the age of ten”.

As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS.”

Within most of major media, the results of our violence is almost never mentioned.  The silence is deafening with regards to our culpability in committing these atrocities.

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

The complicity of most of our media means that state power, and the ‘national interest’ remains potently in the background, unchallenged, unexamined, and uncritically accepted.

“The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him, “What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?”

He replied that if journalists had done their job, “there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq”.

It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question — Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous.

In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul.”

Demand better of your media outlets.  Spend time perusing alternate sources of media, be cognizant of the ‘official’ narrative.  Ask questions.

Some places to start:  Tom’s Dispatch, Counterpunch, Al Jazeera, Media Lens.

 

[Source:Counterpunch]

 

femalefacepalm    Well, time for a different sort of cringe-worthy news item. The United Nations has made an Onion worthy press release. Unfortunately, this isn’t satire.

“The United Nations just rejected seven female candidates vying to lead the global organization.

Now, to promote women and girls, it is picking a cartoon character as its mascot: Wonder Woman.

Yes, the comic book figure.”

    *headesk*  What the ever-living-frack is going on in the UN?  I mean is this throwing over half the population of the world a ‘bone’ for overlooking them with regards to leadership positions in the UN.

    Uh…sorry, those female parts you have – you know the unmentionable ones because of religion in the East and the po-mo gender politics in the West (stage whisper: “Vagina, Uterus, Ovaries” – duck and cover) – that exclude you from positions in power.  Let’s not deal with that problem, let’s get serious about fighting for women’s rights by making a comic book character our mascot.

   How very fucking empowerful of the UN and their bold team of deciders.

“Dozens of countries pushed this year for a woman to be chosen as the next Secretary General, pointing out that the United Nations pledges to promote gender equality around the world and arguing that it needed to “lead by example.”

After months of internal jockeying, the Security Council last week picked António Guterres, who ran the United Nations refugee agency for 10 years, to be the world’s top diplomat.

Then on Wednesday, the United Nations announced that it would appoint Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for “the empowerment of women and girls.”

The appointment of the heroine will be made official on Oct. 21, when Wonder Woman turns 75, only slightly older than the United Nations itself.”

   Leading by example indeed. :/

“Too bad Wonder Woman will not actually traipse through the halls of the United Nations headquarters. If she did she would inevitably have to vanquish a few problems, like peacekeepers who sexually abuse civilians and major military powers that bomb schools.

The United Nations, in making the announcement, said that Diane Nelson, the president of DC Entertainment, would come to the United Nations to accept the designation, along with “surprise guests.”

    Surprise guests?  –  Is the liberation of women some sort celebrity cause that needs to be ‘punched up’ with some ‘star power’?  I keep looking for the Onion tag line somewhere in this story.

“Wonder Woman’s avatar, Mr. Nasser said, would be used on social media platforms to promote important messages about women’s empowerment, including on gender-based violence and the fuller participation of women in public life.

That, too, is a bit awkward. The United Nations is woefully behind on its pledge of gender parity in senior appointments. One analysis found that nine of 10 senior leadership jobs last year went to men.”

    *Looking through fingers as this train wreck plunges over cliff*  –  Oh, this *IS* the UN leading by example – the problem is that its the wrong farking example.  Replicating normative patriarchal society with a high-sheen glossy-dross of “equality” is precisely the message denatured neo-liberal feminists rally-on about.  ironymeterPrattling on about supporting gender equality while leaving the systems in place that objectively prevent gender equality and then having this boondoggle of a position mirrored at the UN under the auspices of ’empowering’ women….

*sproing* – My irony meter just shorted out.  :/

“Not to mention, a woman has never led the United Nations system, and none will for at least the next five years. The Security Council chose Mr. Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, to be the next Secretary General, dismissing the candidacies of seven women and five other men. Mr. Guterres, who is expected to be approved on Thursday morning by the General Assembly, has promised gender parity in senior appointments.”

    Well of course, we should wait for the gender parity to be given to us, by the class of people who have no interest in achieving gender parity.  I’m as pleased as punch, honest.

“Wonder Woman is not the only fictional character to be celebrated by the United Nations: Winnie the Pooh served as its honorary Ambassador of Friendship in 1998; Tinker Bell was its honorary Ambassador of Green in 2009; and Angry Birds dared fans on Twitter last year to make the game’s characters happy by conserving water and energy.”

  I, for one, am grateful that the symbol for the advancement of women in the world shares such auspicious company.

[Source: The New York Times]

  Dear United Nations, if this is your idea of advancing the cause of Women - please just stop.

Dear United Nations, if this is your idea of advancing the cause of Women – please just stop.

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