Oct 04 2009
Wild jungle. Deserted beaches with great snorkeling or surfing. Mountain lakes. Volcanoes. Orangutans. Oh, and did I mention it’s one of the cheapest places on Earth for backpacking? Really, what more could one ask for in a destination?!?
The sad news this week from Sumatra, one of the most seismically volatile regions in the world, has left me wanting to do more to bring attention to this beautiful island and its people. Alas, what follows is but a brief introduction, but I hope that the critical importance of what happens on this, the world’s 6th-largest island, can be better understood as a result.
Take it from the folks at Lonely Planet:
Sumatra is an adventure, the kind of demanding ride that requires a dusty knapsack and tough travelling skin.
Please follow below for a tour of the north of Sumatra, what just may be my favorite place on Earth.
X-posted @ TLP
Oct 04 2009
I’m just back from seeing Michael Moore’s new movie, “Capitalism – A Love Story”.
It was moving, funny, and educational, all rolled into one. It made me feel both, proud and sad, to be an American. … but it’s recommended viewing if you still want to take OUR Country back, from the Powers that Be.
There are many lessons to be learned from the film — But the one that struck me, the one I’m motivated to write about now —
Is the Lesson of Plutonomy …
Oct 04 2009
Antiwar activism is slowly increasing in this country and around the world. Little wonder since we’ve been at war for eight years, with more wars threatened and no end in sight. This weekend, a major conference was held in Washington D.C. called “Who Decides About War? National Conference on War Powers, Law and Democracy.”
The agenda featured Jeremy Scahill as the keynote speaker as well as politicians and noted activists. There was backing from a large number of antiwar and progressive organizations such as the Liberty Tree Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild at Georgetown Law School, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Democrats.com, the Institute for Policy Studies, After Downing Street, CODEPINK-Women for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance, Peace Action USA and Progressive Democrats of America. Topics discussed included:
• How can our democracy set in place consistent and durable criteria for considering when or if to use military force, within a broad range of scenarios that might–or might not–challenge national security or threaten world peace?
• Are our political institutions sufficiently robust to maintain and apply “consistent and durable” criteria in the face of the unforeseeable circumstances that typically precede the consideration of using military force?
• What is the proper composition, structure, and role of military forces in a modern democracy? Do the U.S. Armed Forces, as currently organized, best serve democracy? How should we respond to the increased reliance of the United States on Private Military Companies?
• When state National Guard units are called into federal military service, should states have a clear and defined role in evaluating whether that call up is proper and in accordance with the law?
• What is the proper balance of forces between the Guard and rest of the Armed Forces? Does the concept of the all-volunteer army need to be revisited, and if so, what are the options for the future?
• How should the decision about going to war be made, serving national security and honoring the constitutional system of checks and balances?
• Has the War Powers Act served its intended purposes, and how should it be updated or replaced?
• What should be the role of Congress in authorizing the use of military force, within a broad range of scenarios that might–or might not–challenge national security or threaten world peace? If the United States commences the use of military force, is there a role for Congress beyond its initial authorization of force and later appropriations in support of the military action? May an authorization for use of military force be conditional, and if so, should the conditions be enforceable? What mode of enforcement should be available?
• Should the scope of the President’s Article 2 powers as commander-in-chief be more clearly defined, and if so, how can that clarity be achieved, given that every war is unique and the role of the commander-in-chief hard to define in advance?
*Rethinking Empire, force projection, and the more than 1000 U.S. military bases located outside of the United States.
I don’t know exactly how these issues were discussed or the outcome of the conference. I think this is encouraging and covers bases that need to be covered in the scheme of things. What troubles me is the lack of discussion of the real reasons for the foreign policies of the United States, and all major countries for that matter. I’m not sure discussing the laws and war powers of our government is going to do anything to stop a clearly imperialist nation, colluding with its allies and negotiating with it’s adversaries and neutrals to secure resources and maintain economic power. Particularly when those resources are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. As with the MSM, there is no discussion of the root cause of wars, the Realpolitiks of the world.
I notice that from the neocons as well. Their argument in the MSM is always about the terrorists and the protection of American citizens from their evil ways. The likes of William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer frame their support of these killing and plundering endeavors based on the terrorist threat, the safety of the country. “Obama is being soft on terror”! They know darn well why we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and have extended it into Pakistan. They know why Africom was created. They know why the DOD created Full Spectrum Dominance. They know what happened in Honduras and why. It’s not about terrorism. There are terrorists if that’s the term you want to use. We do more than our fair share of creating them, nurturing them, paying them and arming them. But invading their countries turns the table and as such they are simply in the way of the official agenda. Establishing a reasonably compliant government in resource rich nations, as well as those in bordering nations, as a means to control those resources, while keeping others, i.e., Russia and China primarily, from doing the same.
Even most progressives seem to fall for that approach to foreign policy. Believing the overall rationale, i.e., terrorism, nuclear bombs, keeping our country safe, etc., and not seeing those are the smokescreens to support the Realpoltik. They fall into a trap and focus on how we can best contain the Taliban and wipe out Al Qaeda and prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon instead of focusing on the rationale for US foreign policy in the first place. Where the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Iran are nuisances in the quest for natural resources and economic power.
There is no discussing 9/11, the event that jumpstarted the whole shebang. Forbotten. Conspiracists are crazy. Even though on the rec list of the Orranged tonight is a diary basically saying there are financial conspiracies. The progressives can buy that conspiracy, but toe the line on those that are deemed out of bounds. It doesn’t matter whether someone is right about something else, if they are a truther, if they dare to question the official story, then nothing else matters. They are not credible. Let the Amish Shunning begin.
“While I am in accord with most of what you say here, I can’t in good conscience support anything that Paul Craig Roberts has to say given his Trutherism and his work for CATO and the Hoover Institution, both much more recent than his support for supply-side economics. He’s like Pat Buchanan: Sometimes Pat’s views and mine (particularly on class issues) intersect, but I have to take into consideration his overall take on the world.”
So says the second most important person on that site. A leader of the progressive movement who restricts his world view within the norms of society. I’ve read alot of Paul Craig Roberts and he is usually right on the money.
There is no true discussions of the role and intent of the government of Israel in all this either. Israel has been so successful in exploiting the Holocaust and the dangers of anti-Semitism that it has created a lockstep of acquiesance across the progressive activist landscape. You can’t truly join that party unless the rules are followed.
That can be seen from the agenda of this conference. I greatly respect Jeremy Scahill and I’m sure, many of those that attended the conference. But winning the battle with the elite will take more than discussions about the law and who has the authority for what. Our government has proven the law doesn’t matter for the agenda that has been set. Authority for war is in the hands of the empire, of which the entire political system is suitably accustomed. Our government is in “no holds barred” territory and arguing about the law goes the way of torture investigations and state secrets. Nowhere. There is no discussion in the conference about the Trilateral Commission or the Council on Foreign Relations, of which the symmetry of members among Democratic and Republican administrations over the last fifty years should be a sign of concern when addressing foreign policy and war.
It’s time to call a spade a spade. The foreign policy of this country is about power, money and resources. Keeping citizens safe from terrorists or nuclear bombs is merely a means to implement the overall agenda. It’s about a delusional and perhaps unstoppable need to remain at the top of the heap while controlling the population. It’s about feeding the corporate and MIC related beast and preventing other countries from securing first place. It’s about time to call them on their bullshit.
Oct 04 2009
It’s maybe four and a half, five miles from the Lowe’s hardware store to the front yard of my house and most of the way I drive, the route is a very straight stretch of two lane road that looks nothing like suburbia and very little like the rest of the east side neighborhoods that splotch the landscape of land where truck farms and diary farms abounded in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s up through the 1960’s.
The two-laner dips and rises a bit occasionally as it passes by the still expensive homes that seem to want to announce to every passing driver that wealthy people live there, or lived there, with their horses and white cross-bar wooden fences or the occasionally recycled plastic white board-like fencing with the spire post caps.
Personal disclaimer: Over the years here, I’ve made liberal use of the device of interspersing lyrics with my writing. Tonight I’m a little fanciful, but I’ll mention up front that I’m gonna do it again in this diary. Some people hate it. Well, you don’t have to read me. But I ask that you bear with me anyway. Indulge me.
And, whatever you do, grab all the joy you can.
(crossposted at Dailykos)
Oct 04 2009
An atheist was walking through the woods one day, admiring the beauty of nature all around him.
“What majestic trees!” “What powerful rivers!” What beautiful animals!”, he said to himself.
As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charging towards him.
He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him.
He ran faster, and then looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer. He tripped & fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him.
At that instant the Atheist cried out, “Oh my God!”
The bear froze…
The forest was silent…
Oct 04 2009
Yesterday, I put up a diary at GOS decrying how our writing had become so completely predictable, so formulaic, so prosaic. It was derivative, and it was funny. But it was also extremely sad. In many ways it was a commentary on the powerlessness of progressive bloggers: we can yell louder, we can scream, we can write explosive rants. But you know what? It isn’t changing anything. And frankly, I’m tired of our dogged, persistent pursuit of something that’s not working. And, I suspect, isn’t going to work.
Maybe you’re lucky and can write face blistering essays on this site and you can have readers tell you how right on you are. How smart, how important, how clear. But if you’re poor and without a job, or if you’re sick and you don’t have insurance, or if you’re running out of unemployment benefits and the next job isn’t in sight, or if your kids are in trouble and you don’t know how to help them out, or if you are overdue to retire and you don’t have the funds and have to work, or your wage slave pay isn’t going to bail you out unless you win Megamillions and you’re not too big to fail, or your kids are in the military, these essays aren’t going to help you. Not at all. They’re just going to highlight how you have somebody’s boot on your neck. And you cannot get it off. And they’re bound to inform you, if you don’t know it already, about how very weak you are and how very powerless we as a group (I’m talking about progressives) remain.
Oct 04 2009
Anyone who can share some insight or optimism I am missing today or talk me down is welcome and encouraged to do so, and anyonne who wants to howl along with me is welcome all the same.
Obama promised change, he should have promised
not to fuck things up any worse.
We expected change, as in BIG CHANGE, not just working around the edges.
So if Dems just hold the ground and the GOP takes us back a step we will never get anywhere. Obama needs to challenge the moneyed powers if he wants change to happen. Without that, NOTHING changes, or at least not enough to change things fundamentally.
He promised a lot, so I expect a lot.
Fact is, ~~~, WE’RE informed, the electorate isnt
and people read into vague promises what they want to.
Obama could do nothing and still be better than Bush, and as the GOP goes Batshit, it gives Dems cover to suck ass and still seem better by comparison.
Meanwhile I see this pattern where the GOP/Conservatives (R+D) wreck shit and Dems just hold the ground or move things around on the edges.
Look at the Public Option! Are we to believe Obama when it is gone, HCR is signed without it, and he says “Oh Well, I wanted it, but . . .”
So we get Iraq when NO ONE wants it, and we can’t get a PO when MOST of us want it?
And then I read about the C Street Family and their Free Market Corporatism wrapped in Jeebus and I’m supposed to believe that Dems and Repukes are in it on both sides but the middle class ISN’T being fed to thee machine?
Change would be drastic, change would be meaningful, by not attacking the GOP for their glaring faults and only settling for changiness Obama is signaling that he is just another politician, and if so, he IS NOT bringing Change We Can Believe In.
If HCR is a bailout for Insurance CEO’s it will prove to me that the whole system is bought off to the last man, other than a few Progressives in Congress. If Obama considers change not being as bad as Bush you or I could have done that!
Worse, if Bush/Cheney DO go scot free, it will prove to me that there ARE two sets of rules, one for Politicians, the Wealthy and the Celebrities and another for everyone else.
That means there is no rule of law, there is NO JUSTICE, just the Pirate Code, Steal what you can while you can and if you get caught have a good alibi. People worried about fascism under Bush, why did we think it was going to go away or stop now that someone with promises WE like is in charge?
Promises mean jack shit. I want RESULTS
if change = 5-10% and NOT 50-100% it ain’t exactly change, is it?
Further, I fucking mean it when I say if they feed me a Sh!t sandwich on HCR I’ll burn the fucking tent down. If they force me to play nice with the fuckers who have been robbing us we don’t NEED Dems in charge, the Republicans could have done the same fucking thing.
You know who has the majority in Congress? The CONSERVATIVES! 15ConservaDems + 40 Wingnuts = Conservative Senate
Look at the House, the only reason it isn’t as bad as the Senate is because the Bush Dogs aren’t as big of a thorn as the ConservaDems in the Senate are.
It’s like they hedged a bet that if the Dems DO win big, there’s still a way to fuck it up and slow things down.
And when you look at the WH it seems to me that the Beckerheads have it half right! Obama has power, but so does Rajm, Geithner, Summers, etc, and that dilutes what Obama does, or goes against it. Hell, Hillary, LaHood and Salazaar are all C STREETERS! That means they LIKE free market Corporatist fascism. Obama spoke to the National Prayer Breakfast in feb 09, and the NPR is a front for the family. I’m not saying Obama is a C Streeeter, but he knows who they are and he isn’t quite throwing them out in the street if you know what I mean.
So what Change did he bring, other than the two teams are now defending different goal posts? Seems like a lot of the shit is still very much the same.
Class War! You didn’t think we were Winning, Did you?
hell, we’re worse off than EVER, just proles, not even outer party members!
Man, I need to smoke a joint . . . .
Oct 04 2009
Homeless activists delay L.A. City Council meeting
by David Zahniser
September 29, 2009
Activists and the homeless disrupt a council meeting Tuesday while marking the third anniversary of Police Chief William J. Bratton’s Safer City Initiative, which they say has brought overly aggressive policing to skid row. The protest began when the council deferred public comments to continue a discussion on the city’s budget deficit.
Oct 04 2009
So far the best thing that has happened since Obama got elected is the exposure of just how nakedly corrupt the System is.
80% of Democrats and 65% of Americans want an inclusive Public Option. But instead of listening to The People they represent, Congress is listening to the Bought and paid for Corporate Republican Party and the very industries (just as with the financial crisis) that created the problem in the first place.
The fact that our government works for the Corporations and not The People is now completely out in the open….for anyone who cares to look. Michael Moore’s movie will open even more eyes to the reality we live in.
Education, the education that is a HUGE component of What We Are Doing Here IS taking place. The blinders ARE coming off for at least a few.
And as those blinders come off, a certain percentage of The People will look for another way, as they realize that no matter how many Dems they elect, the very election process itself is rigged to favor the Corporations.
The System is broken. And as the One man who was supposed to change the system all on his own is proved powerless to do ANYTHING the Corporations don’t want him to do, more and more people will come to that conclusion. The question then becomes…as one poster at DK put it…