Via The Arabist, a funny rap video:
You know what I mean.
GWB’s nemesis has been done in by Barack Hussein Obama. A resounding victory for Neo-Libs, eh? Without leaks, to boot. Powerful stuff.
One, two punch combo, too, with the recent SNL-, Meyers- facilitated “D. Trump is a dip-schitck and here’s the long form I’ve been sitting on” skit. Head writer for the BHO network, too, Seth?
Is it really the anniversary of Georgie’s “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!” debacle, or was that a dream?
Seems they’ve been working on this since 2004?! Could explain why Obama retained GDub’s staff, and rearranged so recently. Job finished.
On the terrorist vs US of A board: Obama 1, Usama 0. Step up from the “I protected you for X many yrs” Bush/Cheney with 0 and Usama 1 + Old Europe Targets.
A drone in Pakistan attacked a mansion in a sovereign nation and killed a person with much hatred piled upon his head. Am I to be elated? Deflated?
Its really “exasperated” and “let’s try something different-itated”, if you get my drifteration and gistification.
Closure. An eye for an I. Blindness disenlightened by drones. Pilotless. Sterile.
Powerful and stochastic.
In a world where comics spark death squads, what will this execution bring?
Can it be buried quickly enough? The coal black ea may have claimed it, and with it our hatred. Perhaps.
If we push that way. Synergize and switch.
Come on, now.
This is the time in the show when we like to mention that we generally run the show in two parts.
There’s the first part and the second part. We like to run the show in that order.
In between the two parts is another part that we like to call “Intermission”.
Intermission is a time when you can go out to the lobby and smoke (they don’t have to smoke). You don’t have to smoke! You can go out and drink (they don’t have to drink either). You don’t have to drink, you don’t have to smoke. If you don’t want to smoke, you certainly don’t have to smoke. You don’t have to drink either, hardly enough time for anything else, although it has been done.
Intermission: 15 fun-filled minutes without smoking or drinking. Have fun.
I’m still on the Off Topic series.
The context of this diary is primarily cellular. We’ve moved up a level of biological scale from the previous diary, Transition. Some may suggest that the molecular and cellular scales also define the non-living/living divide (if such a thing actually exists). That topic is beyond the scope of this diary. [Besides, I tend to piss off the philosophers when I talk about the meaning of life, so let’s get better acquainted before we tear the lid off that one.]
One of the minor mysteries in biophysical chemistry is how cells manage to elicit sudden changes in various metabolic and physiologic characteristics, traits, or phenotypes. These changes are in response to signals of fuel availability and physiological exigencies pertaining to the multi-cellular individual as implied by homeostasis. The cohort of human beings pondering these mysteries as a matter of career define the word “manage” in terms of macromolecular conformational changes, enzyme catalysis, and a wide range of interactions between macromolecules and with smaller molecules. The shorthand jargon term for this is mechanism. These are not new questions. They have bugged us ever since the first moving cells were observed.
The question becomes: How do cells organize the molecules within them in order to accomplish the functions that these have been observed to fulfill?
This discussion is in context of all the caveats this community can conjure.
Hedging Bets Or Counter-Revolution?
Inasmuch as Moammar Qhaddafy is an aging paranoiac, occasionally unstable and thusly unpredictable at times, his eldest son, Seif al-Islam Qhaddafy probably represented the best chance for making Libya a client state. He received his PhD from the London School of Economics. He’s a devout Neo-Liberal. Someone the USG probably feels it can do business with.
But in any risky venture, it’s always wise to have a good hedge on such a bet.
So the US State Department has been engaging groups in MENA (Middle East-North Africa) and other regions as well, with the ostensible goal of “democracy promotion” and the creation of civil society groups. Undersecretary of State James Glassman, who headed up Public Diplomacy in the Bush State Department, reached out to groups, especially youth groups, in order to help them use social media as a means of socio-political organization. Here’s a bit from the transcript of Glassman’s presentation of the newly founded Alliance for Youth Movement Summit, back in November 2008:
About six weeks ago, I traveled to Colombia at the suggestion of my colleague Jared Cohen, to meet with some young people who last year started a movement on Facebook. And it was actually started by a 33-year-old unemployed computer technician named Oscar Morales who was, just like so many other Colombians, fed up with what the FARC, the violent extremist organization that’s been around since 1964, was doing to his country. He had no help from the government or no knowledge by the Colombian Government that he was going to do this, certainly no involvement by the U.S. Government either. He started a group on Facebook which mushroomed into a membership of over 400,000 people. And at the same time, some of the members suggested let’s have a march, let’s build a global movement, and that’s what happened. In February, this movement, the No Mas FARC, No More FARC Movement, which transformed itself into the Million Voices Against the FARC movement, put a million people into the streets in Bogotá, another 11 million into the streets in 190 cities around the world.
So I wanted to talk to Oscar and really get an idea of how this happened and see whether there were applications in other parts of the world. And as a result of those conversations and the work that Jared has done, between December 3rd and December 5th, that is to say next week, a conference is being held in New York City at the Columbia University Law School that will bring together 17 organizations around the world that currently have an online presence similar to the Million Voices Against the FARC Movement, but usually at a much lower level – 17 of these organizations, bringing them together with private sector partners, including Facebook, Google, MTV, AT&T, Howcast, Access 360 Media – and I may be forgetting some, and Jared will remind me. Columbia University is also – the Columbia University Law School is also a partner. And the idea is put all these people together, share best practices, produce a manual that will be accessible online and in print to any group that wants to build a youth empowerment organization to push back against violence and oppression around the world.
Also, a foundation will be created called the Alliance of Youth Movements. And a hub, an electronic hub, again, anyone will have access to it around the world. Now, this conference – the entire conference will be streamed by MTV and by Howcast. We are – we at the State Department are one partner. In fact, we take a back seat to what the private sector is doing, which is just fabulous. But we’re happy to have gotten this thing started, at any rate.
Some of these groups are anti-violence, in the sense of anti-crime. Some of them have a more direct anti-violent extremist cast to what they do. They’re from South Africa, from the UK, from the Middle East. We’re also bringing in seven groups of observers from countries – organizations that do not have a major online presence, from Iraq, Afghanistan. There will be participation from Cuba…
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That famous quip from Charles de Gaulle many decades ago has a genesis that goes back centuries. It predates Macchiavelli. It predates the devotees of the realpolitik for whom de Gaulle’s line was merely typical of a certain mindset within international relations. And while it sounds rather cold––because it is––it’s also demonstrably true. Matters of “rightness,” “wrongness,” or “moral imperative” make for nice headlines and stump speeches, but they don’t do much to actually explain why nations behave the way they do. The lucky ones can actually make a moral argument at times and make it stick somehow. But even that’s usually tangential to the interests driving certain behaviors. That was even largely the case in the most hallowed of all wars, The DubyaDubyaTwo.
Which brings us to the latest iteration of US Foreign Policy: Libya.
Perusing the discussion of this latest of many attempts to make warfare somehow “humanitarian,” what I’ve found most striking, especially from official circles, is not what’s being said, but rather what isn’t being said. There is virtually no discussion of actual US/EU interests in Libya and as such, it becomes well nigh impossible to get to the real meat of the matter. POTUS said the other day, in his largely vacuous speech, the US doesn’t have any compelling interests in Libya, except perhaps indirectly. Well, even if that were remotely true, indirect interests are still interests and he has a duty to his country to spell out what those interests are. Of course, that’s the last thing this or any other president will do. Somehow it’s easier to convince people that 200 bombing sorties a day is somehow “humanitarian,” than it is to explain US interests. Perhaps there are some perfectly understandable (if revolting) reasons for doing so.
The Revolution Against Neo-Liberalism
Whether or not the throngs of protesters in Tunisia and Egypt really understand it this way, they are to a large extent battling Neo-Liberalism. The corruption they rail against isn’t just a few bad apples stealing where they can. It’s thoroughly institutionalized. It’s made them much poorer and kept them under the boot of oppression for decades. It’s also an economic model the US and EU have been only too keen to foist upon every corner of the planet they can get their grubby hands on. Walter Armbrust writes in Jadaliyya,
To describe blatant exploitation of the political system for personal gain as corruption misses the forest for the trees. Such exploitation is surely an outrage against Egyptian citizens, but calling it corruption suggests that the problem amounts to aberrant behavior from a system that would otherwise function smoothly. If this were the case then the crimes of the Mubarak regime could be attributed simply to bad character: change the people and the problems go away. But the real problem with the regime was not necessarily that high-ranking members of the government were thieves in an ordinary sense. They did not necessarily steal directly from the treasury. Rather they were enriched through a conflation of politics and business under the guise of privatization. This was less a violation of the system than business as usual. Mubarak’s Egypt, in a nutshell, was a quintessential neoliberal state.
Although neoliberalism is now a commonly used term, it is still worth pausing a moment and think about what it means. In his Brief History of Neoliberalism social geographer David Harvey outlined “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.” Neoliberal states guarantee, by force if necessary, the “proper functioning” of markets; where markets do not exist (for example, in the use of land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then the state should create them. Guaranteeing the sanctity of markets is supposed to be the limit of legitimate state functions, and state interventions should always be subordinate to markets. All human behavior, and not just the production of goods and services, can be reduced to market transactions. The market becomes an end in an of itself, and since the only legitimate function of states is to defend markets and expand them into new spheres, democracy is a potential problem insofar as people might vote for political and economic choices that impede the unfettered operation of markets, or that reserve spheres of human endeavor (education, for example, or health care) from the logic of markets. Hence a pure neoliberal state would philosophically be empowered to defend markets even from its own citizens. As an ideology neoliberalism is as utopian as communism. The application of utopian neoliberalism in the real world leads to deformed societies as surely as the application of utopian communism did.
Armbrust’s last point is what makes this salient in terms of US policy. The “markets” have to be protected from the people who are being so badly damaged by them. And by markets, we’re really just talking about specific business interests. Democracy is a threat to those interests the various publics might deem to be harmful to their standard of living, way of life, or even just their own ability to determine their own fates. This is why the US sided with its client dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, favoring “stability” to democracy. The stability of which they speak has nothing to do with the people of those countries, but rather the stability enjoyed by its favored business interests.
This context is important, because it simultaneously represents a genuine threat to US power in the region… but it also provides a distraction behind which to engage in vastly more aggressive behaviors against that threat.
Where does Libya fit into this?
So what of Libya then? Are we seeing a pro-democracy movement simply in need of protection from a certain whacko tyrant? If that were the case, then why on earth has Qhaddafy enjoyed such cozy relations with the US more recently? Um, no.
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The Off Topic series continues and this time it is chemical. More precisely, the discussion begins with thermodynamics and this Gibb’s Free Energy diagram.
It seems strangely appropriate to mention that the phrase “Free Energy” was the first thing about academic chemistry that resonated with my childlike entrancement with nature. What more could an Anarchist want? But that’s another story.
There are 2 key aspects to the energy diagram, 1) the relative position of the left and right hand states (pun fully intended) and 2) the shape/height of the transition between them. (this video explains in more detail).
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At the Nation.
By mobilizing our military against Libya, we unleashed the dogs of war in a way whose future is simply unpredictable. None of my advisers or our intelligence community can tell me what will happen next, so I’ve decided to end our involvement tonight.
Lampedusa’s migrant detention center houses just 850 detainees. There are currently over 4,000 on the island. No country in Europe or elsewhere will help by taking refugees, leaving Italy to cope with the chaos alone. Once off the boats, there is now nowhere to sleep, very little fresh drinking water, and atrocious hygienic conditions. The seas last week were too rough for supply ships from Sicily to bring fresh drinking water and food supplies, yet more boats landed, often crashing into the rocky shores. Hundreds of lives have been lost at sea. Bodies are often caught in fishing nets or wash up on the shores. The local authorities, bolstered by military troops from the Italian mainland, have set up cage-like metal fences around the harbor and many of the immigrants are sleeping under semi-trailers draped with plastic to keep out the rain. The Red Cross calls the situation in Lampedusa “deplorable.”
Yet, somehow, the “humanitarian” mission is comprised of cruise missiles and fighter jets. Each Tomahawk costs about $1,000,000. Don’t you think that “the west” could use 1 or 2 fewer missiles and redirect the money and personnel to a place where the words “humanitarian mission” might actually have some meaning?
This is a continuing Off-Topic series explores concepts put forward by people trying to understand biological mechanisms in terms of chemistry and physics. My intent is to relate these biological mechanisms to the events observed in human societies and cultures.
The ongoing actions of human beings and other natural forces are forcing us to reassess definitions of “stability” and the closely associated mechanisms of “change”. The basis of stability implies a temporal standard. That is, how long must we fend off instability in order to be deemed “stable”? But, time is only one of the recognized biological scales.
It seems prudent to consider such from the biological perspective because ultimately, human culture, society and the politics are biological systems. More complex than an ant colony, no doubt about that, but nonetheless, a vast pile of animals crawling all over everything.
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From Fast Company, a short book excerpt about the Beatles got me thinking about Democrats and the future of the Democratic party:
When the company begins a downward spiral, someone must take control. That person must have the best interests of the company as top priority, and the welfare of the members as a secondary focus. However, there are limits to what that person can accomplish if he attempts to manufacture a return to the good old days, especially from the top down. Esprit de corps must come from shared goals, and new circumstances call for new ways of working–and new ways of leading.
In Liverpool, as Badfinger’s Joey Molland has noted, the band had always been the thing: a unit, inseparable. But by January 1969, Paul could see the Beatles slipping away. John Had Yoko, Ringo his acting career, and George, his devotion to a newfound religion. In an effort to bring the band together, Paul began to float the idea that returning to their roots would revive their flagging spirits and interest, and rekindle the friendship and camaraderie that they had enjoyed before. He tried to persuade them to play live as they had in Hamburg and the Cavern. That failed.
For the past year, perhaps from the sellout of the public option — the White House verbal support that was unmasked as lies, the Democratic party leadership has revealed itself to be as craven and corrupt as the Republicans. We’re the sane corporatists. As opposed to the often insane, even racist, Tea Partiers who plump for the moneyed crowd. Or the garden variety Republicans who think greed is always good and, dammit, give me my gun.
What to do, as Democrats? How do we take our party back? Yeah, this is the 1,364,992nd chapter in this saga, but it might be good and cleansing to discuss what Wisconsin, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Japanese nukes, and other events in the recent past mean for people who care about a fair society that meets the needs of working people. While the world is suddenly a lot messier, it also has revealed a lot of opportunities and a lot of truths. Read the rest of this entry »
On one hand we are faced with a Corporo-Conservative assault on labor unions using their mercenary GOPper legislators in WI and elsewhere.
On the other, a cultural hegemonic front that systematically excludes Progressive views, analysis, and solutions from the mainstream media, elected office, and the history of our nation.
As Merge Left was taking form from the remains of Open Left one idea that percolated up was for us to use this site to organize members to swarm other web-sites and media outlets in a effort to push their coverage toward the left. To show them that the Right Lane is Closed!
This coming Monday morning from 9 – 11 AM (CST) we have an opportunity to swarm Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) during the Midday call-in program. The site is structured to allow non-members to stream the programs in real time and to submit questions via the website or a toll-free phone line. We can do this.
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Two stories of note here. The first from 9 February that shows the Obama Administration upping military aid to our favorite ME dictators, including the one in Libya.
From the World Tribune, 9 February:
The administration has submitted a proposed budget for fiscal 2011 that included military assistance increases for Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, Oman and Yemen. Officials said several Middle East countries also received forward funding over the last year as part of the Foreign Military Financing program.
Under the budget proposed by the State Department, U.S. military aid to Bahrain would increase from $8 million in fiscal 2009 to $19.5 million next year, Middle East Newsline reported. The U.S. Navy maintains its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, regarded as the poorest of the six GCC states.
Oman would also see a significant increase in 2011. Officials said U.S. military aid would rise from $7 million in 2009 to $13 million in 2011.
U.S. military aid to Yemen would increase from $12.5 million in 2010 to $35 million in 2011. Officials said Yemen would receive a range of helicopters as well as special operations forces training.
Libya would see an increase in U.S. military assistance from $150,000 to $250,000 in 2011. Officials said the rise would enable U.S. military training of Libyan forces.
Morocco would receive a nearly three-fold aid increase from 2009. The North African kingdom would receive $9 million in U.S. military assistance in fiscal 2011, up from $3.6 million in 2009.
The U.S. military aid level for Egypt would remain at $1.3 billion in 2011. Israel would receive $3 billion, up from $2.775 billion in 2010.
The State Department recommended a reduction in U.S. military aid for Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. Jordan would receive $300 million in 2011, down from $335 million in 2009.
U.S. military aid to Lebanon in 2011 was allocated at $100 million, down from $159.7 million in 2009. Officials said the administration and Congresswere concerned that U.S. weapons to Lebanon would end up with the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.
The biggest proportional decrease in U.S. military aid was allocated for Tunisia. The administration has asked for $4.9 million in military aid to Tunis, a drop of more than $10 million since 2010.
At this moment at the dawn of 2011 a rare alignment of instabilities is occurring. The analogy surfing through my brainpan is one of dams breaking upstream in many rivers. While each river has filled (and is filling) its “natural” flood plain, these have yet to flow together; to roil in unison. Maybe they will never find the watersheds that would push them toward each other, or maybe the connections between rivers are not found only in water flowing over rocks and dirt. After all, these connections extend through the atmosphere and are found where the climate meets the weather. For that reason, my recent posts have highlighted those of M. Stoller. because I think his analyses are an apt description of a “watershed” in the analogy that I’m currently beating to death. That labor rights and human dignity are the common foundation of the Jasmine Revolutions, the protests in Europe, and the growing movement centered in Wisconsin, USA is clear. The burst of hand-made content by those now posting here was sparked by Travis and it actively feeds forward as I post.
Travis was exactly correct, these are truly stories from the Front Lines. John has started us toward a bit longer event horizon by putting impending elections in the context of on-going events, so we have begun to gain some traction, perhaps. Even as we discuss (im)possible names for The Site to be Named Later, the steadfast dignity of the union members/supporters in WI has clearly gone viral.
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Despite the U.S. rhetorical defense of the “universal rights” in the region, it is still premature to conclude that this hegemonic alliance will allow the Arab move for change to run its course, judging by the historic experiences of the last century as well as by the containment tactics the United States is now adopting to defuse whatever strategic changes might be created by the revolting Arab masses.
At least two good points: 1) “premature” to conclude hegemonic change/shift, and 2) “containment” tactics are being used to damp the up-rising.
#1 is obvious, IMHO. The push for justice and dignity is more like an asymptote than a goal-line.
#2 Begs the question of whether one wishes the Jasmine Revolution to continue to spread, or to recede.
Meanwhile, at home the folks are all atwitter and askance.
Really!? What do you say when you hear, “no one could have seen it coming?”, or “Intelligence failure”?
Excuse me if I look elsewhere for some level-headed news and discussion.