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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Imperial Delusions of the United States - Obama Way Too Conservative - Fox News Lies Endlessly - The Lying Conservatives - Directly comparing Fukushima to Chernobyl - Endless War - more

- Endless War and the culture of unrestrained power
    We are now enduring a parade of wistful, contemplative, self-regarding pundit-meditations on The Meaning of 9/11 Ten Years Later or, far worse, self-righteous moralizing screeds about the nature of "evil" from war zealots with oceans of blood on their unrepentant hands (if I could impose one media rule, it would be that following every column or TV segment featuring American political commentators dramatically unloading their Where-I-Was-on-9/11-and-how-I-felt tales, there would be similar recollections offered from parents in the Muslim world talking about how their children died from the pre-9/11 acts of the U.S. and its client states or from post-9/11 American bombs, drones, checkpoint shootings and night raids:  just for the sake of "balance," which media outlets claim to crave).  Notwithstanding this somber, collective 9/11 anniversary ritual descending upon us, the reality is that the nation's political and media elite learned no lessons from that attack.
- The ACLU on Obama and core liberties
    The ACLU decided to use the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack to comprehensively survey the severe erosion of civil liberties justified in the name of that event, an erosion that -- as it documents -- continues unabated, indeed often in accelerated form, under the Obama administration.
- Smog v. Jobs: Is Obama Admin Endangering U.S. Environment, Public Health With Retreat on Smog Standards? video
    As the nation headed into Labor Day weekend, the Obama administration quietly asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a plan to limit smog pollution that was projected to prevent 2,200 heart attacks and 23,000 asthma attacks annually.
- What Howard Zinn Actually Thought of Barack Obama
    By now I'm used to reading ridiculous things in defense of the Obama Presidency, but this morning I was particularly taken aback to see a rec-listed post that invoked Howard Zinn in the President's defense.
    Zinn cautiously endorsed Obama in 2008.

    But when The Nation hosted a forum on the first year of Barack Obama's presidency in January 2010, he made clear that, while basically unsurprised, he was not at all happy with the direction of the Obama presidency. His verdict: "Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president."
- Obama's betrayals offer lessons we can't deny
    Former Obama supporter has surrendered his disillusions.
- Many in U.S. slip from middle class, study finds
    Nearly one in three Americans who grew up middle-class has slipped down the income ladder as an adult, according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
- Texas wildfires destroy 1,000 homes video
    At least four people killed and thousands evacuated as more than 180 wildfires rage across rain-starved US state.
- Directly comparing Fukushima to Chernobyl
    This Sunday (11 September) marks the six-month anniversary of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The accident has slipped from the headlines, but new data is coming out all the time. Some of the most recent findings are allowing the best comparison yet of Fukushima with Chernobyl. 
    A lot of media outlets (ourselves included) first made the Fukushima-Chernobyl comparison back in April, when the Japanese revised their estimate of the Fukushima accident—rating it a seven on the seven-point international INES scale. The conclusion most reached at the time was that, although the rating was the same, Fukushima was a much smaller accident.

    A couple of things have changed since those first reports. First, the Japanese doubled their estimate of the radiation released by Fukushima in June to 7.7x1017 Becquerels (Bq). Then, on 30 August, they released the first maps of radioactive caesium-137 (Cs-137) contamination from the plant. Cs-137 has a half-life of 30 years, and it's considered the major long-term contaminate for both accidents.

    With the new Cs-137 data, we can now directly compare the fallout from Chernobyl to Fukushima. Check out the Google Earth mashup above (zoom out to see Chernobyl on top of Fukushima, and rotate over to the Ukraine to see Chernobyl in context).
- "Fear, Inc." Exposes the So-Called Experts and Donors Behind Islamophobia in the United States video
    new report by the Center for American Progress called "Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America" shows how a small group of self-proclaimed experts backed by a host of donors are spreading fear and hostility toward Muslims in the United States. According to the report, these so-called experts peddle Islamophobia in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs and carefully crafted anti-Islam talking points. It also notes that right-wing Norwegian murderer Anders Breivik repeatedly cited these "experts" in his so-called "Manifesto." Among those the report highlights is Robert Spencer, author of a blog called "Jihad Watch" and leader of the group Stop Islamization of America, which coined the term "victory mosque at Ground Zero" to refer to a local effort to build a moderate Islamic center in New York City, turning it into an international spectacle.
- Fox Doctors Hoffa Speech To Fabricate Call For Violence
    Right-wing bloggers misled by dishonest Fox News video editing are attacking Teamsters President James Hoffa for supposedly urging violence against Tea Party activists during a Labor Day speech. Conservatives are also attacking President Obama, who appeared at the event, for "sanctioning violence against fellow Americans" by failing to denounce Hoffa. But fuller context included in other Fox segments makes clear that Hoffa wasn't calling for violence but was actually urging the crowd to vote out Republican members of Congress.
- Foxified Headline
    Friends don’t let friends believe Fox News’ lies.
- Republicans Desperate to De-legitimize Obama for all the wrong reasons: Standing = Communism, according to Right Wing media (click the link to the original page and read some of the moronic, absurd and racist comments from the right wingers)
    So the image of red, silhouetted people standing up has a "Soviet feel." What can you even say about something like this? You can mock it, but to what end?The mind that conceived, arranged, and published this isn't going to be swayed by mockery. It's so single-minded in purpose that it defies the most basic notions of logic, even sentience. It's almost robotic in its stupidity. "Democrats? Standing? COMMUNISTS!"

    It's aggressively -- indeed, proudly -- ignorant.

    As such, there's little hope in trying to make sense of it. The best we can do is realize that for the conservative blogosphere, stuff like this is increasingly a feature and not a bug.
- How private firms have cashed in on the climate of fear since 9/11
    What Smith had blundered into is one of the most disturbing developments of the post-9/11 world: the growth of a national security industrial complex that melds together government and big business and is fuelled by an unstoppable flow of money. It takes many forms. In the military, it has seen the explosive growth of the contracting industry with firms such as Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, or DynCorp increasingly doing the jobs of professional soldiers. In the world of intelligence, private contractors are hired to do the jobs of America's spies. A shadowy world of domestic security has grown up, milking billions from the government and establishing a presence in every state. From border fences that don't work to dubious airport scanners, spending has been lavished on security projects as lobbyists cash in on behalf of corporate clients.
- Keith Olbermann Show - Worst Persons in the World: Mike Shaw, Sarah Palin and Roger Ailes video
    Find out why acting chairman of the Republican Committee of Pima County, Ariz., Mike Shaw is WORSE; former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is WORSER; and president of Fox News Roger Ailes is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for September 6, 2011.

The Imperial Delusions of the United States
Almost ten years after the 9/11 attacks, US foreign policy remains aggressive and unrealistic.
Robert Jensen
Published 07 Sep 2011 at Al

Ten years ago, critics of the United States' mad rush to war were right, but it didn't matter.
Within hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it was clear that political leaders were going to use the attacks to justify war in Central Asia and the Middle East. And within hours, those of us critical of that policy began to offer principled and practical arguments against aggressive war as a response to the crimes.

It didn't matter because neither the public nor policymakers were interested in principled or practical arguments. People wanted revenge, and the policymakers seized the opportunity to use US military power. Critical thinking became a mark not of conscientious citizenship but of dangerous disloyalty.

We were right, but the wars came.

The destructive capacity of the US military meant quick "victories" that just as quickly proved illusory. As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq dragged on, it became clearer that the position staked out by early opponents was correct - the wars not only were illegal (conforming to neither international nor constitutional law) and immoral (fought in ways that guaranteed large-scale civilian casualties and displacement), but a failure on any pragmatic criteria. The US military has killed some of the people who were targeting the United States and destroyed some of their infrastructure and organisation, but a decade later we are weaker and our sense of safety is more fragile. The ability to dominate militarily proved to be both inadequate and transitory, as predicted.

Ten years later, we are still right and it still doesn't matter.

There's a simple reason for this: Empires rarely learn in time, because power tends to dull people's capacity for critical self-reflection. While ascending to power, empires believe themselves to be invincible. While declining in power, they cling desperately to old myths of remembered glory.

Today, the United States is morally bankrupt and spiritually broken. The problem is not that we have strayed from our founding principles, but that we are still operating on those principles - delusional notions about manifest destiny, American exceptionalism, the right to take more than our share of the world's resources by whatever means necessary. As the United States grew in wealth and power, bounty for the chosen came at the cost of misery for the many.

After World War II, as the United States became the central character not just in the Americas but on the world stage, the principles didn't change. US foreign policy sought to deepen and extend US power around the world, especially in the energy-rich and strategically crucial Middle East; always with an eye on derailing any Third World societies' attempts to pursue a course of independent development outside the US sphere; and containing the possibility of challenges to US dominance from other powerful states.

Does that summary sound like radical hysteria? Recall this statement from President Jimmy Carter's 1980 State of the Union address: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." Democrats and Republicans, before and after, followed the same policy.

The George W Bush administration offered a particularly intense ideological fanaticism, but the course charted by the Obama administration is much the same. Consider this 2006 statement by Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense in both administrations:
"I think the message that we are sending to everyone, not just Iran, is that the United States is an enduring presence in this part of the world. We have been here for a long time. We will be here for a long time and everybody needs to remember that - both our friends and those who might consider themselves our adversaries."

If the new boss sounds a lot like the old boss, it's because the problem isn't just bad leaders but a bad system. That's why a critique of today's wars sounds a lot like critiques of wars past. Here's Martin Luther King, Jr's assessment of the imperial war of his time: "[N]o one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over."

Will our autopsy report read "global war on terror"?

That sounds harsh, and it's tempting to argue that we should refrain from political debate on the 9/11 anniversary to honour those who died and to respect those who lost loved ones. I would be willing to do that if the cheerleaders for the US empire would refrain from using the day to justify the wars of aggression that followed 9/11. But given the events of the past decade, there is no way to take the politics out of the anniversary.

We should take time on 9/11 to remember the nearly 3,000 victims who died that day. But as responsible citizens, we also should face a harsh reality: While the terrorism of fanatical individuals and groups is a serious threat, much greater damage has been done by our nation-state caught up in its own fanatical notions of imperial greatness.

That's why I feel no satisfaction in being part of the anti-war/anti-empire movement. Being right means nothing if we failed to create a more just foreign policy conducted by a more humble nation.

Ten years later, I feel the same thing that I felt on 9/11 - an indescribable grief over the senseless death of that day and of days to come.