Monday, July 09, 2007

Response to a Message About the Threat of Islamo-Fascism

(I received this cartoon with this message today--notice how the sentiment of the excellent and important Non Sequitor cartoon is used to sway people toward hatred for "Islamo-Fascists"... my response follows the cartoon and the two adjoined messages)

Please read the little cartoon carefully, it's powerful. Then read the comments at the end, and please - forward it! We cannot, we must not, ever forget what happened in Europe over 60 years ago, because it could happen again. Anyone, any group, could be the target. It has been said that those who refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it. In this case, those who are attempting to rewrite history are probably planning to repeat it! The hatred is already there, in place, taught to the children from infancy, with promises of glory and honor to those who carry out the plans. Forewarned is forearmed, and I'm doing my small part by forwarding this message. I hope you'll do the same Make sure your children and grandchildren understand this too.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This email is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because the Islamo-Facists want to do it again.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world.

Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.

Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to pass this along - Thanks!


My response:

(I'm replying to this email in the interest of expanding the dialogue initiated by the cartoon and to object to the content of the "forwarded" email. I think the cartoon is very powerful, but the message that has been attached to it is very disturbing in its attempt to single out so-called "islamo-fascists" as our primary threat. I respect very much the intent of the forwarding of this message, but feel compelled to respond to the claims of the "author/s" of the original message... feel free to respond to me about this ... this is my obssession, I know, but I couldn't ignore it.)

I agree in spirit with the message of this email (in particular the cartoon--which is very moving), but I have to object to the notion in the email that it is simply a threat we face from so-called "islamo-fascists"... lets do some house-cleaning here in the US before we start pointing at other cultures (Guantanamo, secret prisons--domestic and foreign, holding american citizens without charging them, rounding up people simply based upon their ethnicity, an impotent mainstream media that serves power, and increasingly a passive American citizenry that accepts the surveillance of a military-corporate culture). Simplistic incitement of racist (or xenophobic) fears as expressed in this forwarded are used to distract us from the very real threat at home.

Katha Pollitt: The Trouble with Bush's Islamofascism

AlterNet: American Prison Camps are on the Way

Paul Bigioni: Fascism Then, Fascism Now

Roberto J. González: Alberto Gonzales & the Lawyers of the Third Reich

Warrantless Wire-Tapping of Americans

Nancy Gregg: Get Over It

Amy Goodman and David Goodman: The War on Truth

NY Times Editorial on the Anti-Terrorism Bill

Chris Hedges: American Fascists

Michael Taussig: Magic of the State

Umberto Eco: On Fascism

Do We Need a Strong Public Media

Freedom, Despotism, Resistance, Fascism

Robert Paxton: The Politics of Fascism

and for anyone that really wants to plumb the individual and societal relations of control and dominance

Notes on Deleuze/Guattari's Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Friday, July 06, 2007

Camelsbackandforth: Who To Ask?

(I don't know what Allan has been taking but I am sure enjoying the literary traces/trails ...)

Who To Ask?

Grey metal door. Push the horizontal bar to exit.
No exit.

Exit to where? Anywhere but here, I think , because I don't know where here is.
It's indoors.
My good dreams are always out-of-doors.
I am in-of-doors.
The door.
I am in it.
Push it to not exit.
Goddamn it. I try to kick it, but I don't have enough control, my legs aren't connected.

Push it and it becomes a pinball machine. Silver streaks and yellow flags spinning, strobe lights in the bumpers going crazy; multi-ball action; target scores 'Special' when lit and the machine cracks like a starter pistol, K-POW!
Free game.
When is a door not a pinball machine?
It's ajar, then open.

It's gone and I'm on a large grassy field. I recognize this place.
It's a sort of gigantic outdoor horseshoe-shaped amphitheatre, with a beach and ocean at the top of the 'U' and a surrounding series of hills and steep, cutback-trail cliffs providing enough sitting and standing room for the population of a small city. It's currently deserted.

This is the first time I have ever been on the field, I'm usually up there, on the cliffs, watching the show with my friends, real and imaginary.
My friends are not here. No one is here.
There is no show. No audience.
There's usually a stage set up on the beach's far end. It is not there.
There's usually an ocean beyond the beach, but it isn't there either.
There's nothing but sand.

If there is a horizon, I can't see it from here.
When awake, we tend to take the horizon for granted.
Here it's a luxury.

The only thing missing is a sun-bleached cattle skull, I think, and suddenly a skull appears.
I cannot determine far away it is because it's difficult to gauge distance without a horizon. It has a sense of bigness to it, at least the size of a tall building and it's human-shaped, not bovine.
The cranium is distended and warped, like a Dali canvas viewed in a carnival mirror designed by H.R. Giger.
It ripples like water.

I wish that it would go away.

To Read the Rest of the Post

Digital Ethnography: World Simulation Video

(Courtesy of Interference)

World Simulation Video
by Prof Wesch
Digital Ethnography

After viewing the teaser I posted to YouTube, several people have requested a look at a full World Simulation video, so I posted the full 22 minute video from this past Spring semester. For those who are unfamiliar with the world simulation, it is a massive experiment in education created for (and by) my Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class at Kansas State University. Each semester I teach 200-400 students. They are divided into 14-20 groups and asked to create their own realistic cultures. We then work together to create the parameters that will allow us to simulate the past 600 years of world history, from colonization to corporate globalization, all in the span of 75-100 minutes. This video was created in a mad weekend of video-editing. We watch the video together and then discuss what worked, what didn’t, and why, and then we reflect on how the world works, our role within it, and how we can live in ways that create a better world.

To See the Videos of the Course Projects


Introducing Our You Tube Ethnography Project

World Simulation: Part One--Constructing the World

World Simulation Part Two: The Basics

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us


29 (and counting) Video Responses to "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us":

The Responses

Tom Engelhardt: Iraq By the Numbers

Iraq by the Numbers
By Tom Engelhardt
Tom Dispatch and AlterNet

Americans are waiting for General David Petraeus to report to Congress in September on the "progress" of the President's surge strategy. But there's no reason to wait for September. Here's a look at some telltale numbers that show the horror in Iraq.

Sometimes, numbers can strip human beings of just about everything that makes us what we are. Numbers can silence pain, erase love, obliterate emotion, and blur individuality. But sometimes numbers can also tell a necessary story in ways nothing else can.

This January, President Bush announced his "surge" plan for Iraq, which he called his "new way forward." It was, when you think about it, all about numbers. Since then, 28,500 new American troops have surged into that country, mostly in and around Baghdad; and, according to the Washington Post, there has also been a hidden surge of private armed contractors -- hired guns, if you will -- who free up troops by taking over many mundane military positions from guarding convoys to guarding envoys. In the meantime, other telltale numbers in Iraq have surged as well.

Now, Americans are theoretically waiting for the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, to "report" to Congress in September on the "progress" of the President's surge strategy. But there really is no reason to wait for September. An interim report -- "Iraq by the numbers" -- can be prepared now (as it could have been prepared last month, or last year). The trajectory of horror in Iraq has long been clear; the fact that the U.S. military is a motor driving the Iraqi cataclysm has been no less clear for years now. So here is my own early version of the "September Report."

A caveat about numbers: In the bloody chaos that is Iraq, as tens of thousands die or are wounded, as millions uproot themselves or are uprooted, and as the influence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national government remains largely confined to the four-square mile fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, numbers, even as they pour out of that hemorrhaging land, are eternally up for grabs. There is no way most of them can be accurate. They are, at best, a set of approximate notations in a nightmare that is beyond measurement.

Here, nonetheless, is an attempt to tell a little of the Iraqi story by those numbers:

Iraq is now widely considered # 1 -- when it comes to being the ideal jihadist training ground on the planet. "If Afghanistan was a Pandora's box which when opened created problems in many countries, Iraq is a much bigger box, and what's inside much more dangerous," comments Mohammed al-Masri, a researcher at Amman's Centre for Strategic Studies. CIA analysts predicted just this in a May 2005 report leaked to the press. ("A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.")

Iraq is # 2: It now ranks as the world's second most unstable country, ahead of war-ravaged or poverty-stricken nations like Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Congo, and North Korea, according to the 2007 Failed States Index, issued recently by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine. (Afghanistan, the site of our other little war, ranked 8th.) Last year and the year before Iraq held 4th place on the list. Next year, it could surge to number #1.

Number of American troops in Iraq, June 2007: Approximately 156,000.

Number of American troops in Iraq, May 1, 2003, the day President Bush declared "major combat operations" in that country "ended": Approximately 130,000.

To Read the Rest of the Report

PBS: New Media Literacy as Important for Educators as Students

New Media Literacy as Important for Educators as Students
PBS and Media Channel

For so long, the focus of media literacy education has been on helping students understand the media they consume. What are the biases? Who owns what outlet? How are news reports produced? But with the rise of new media, perhaps the focus of media literacy education should shift to educating the educators — and other adults — about blogs, podcasts, social networking, mobile content and virtual worlds. That way, adults could relate better to students and help them understand the world in which they are digital natives.

That’s one of my biggest takeaways from the recent Media: Overseas Conversations IV conference I attended in New York last week. About 50 to 100 people went to the conference, and that audience was incredibly attuned to media literacy issues and came from around the world. The panel I moderated on new media and social networking included one professor from the University of Toronto, one from the University of Algarve, Portugal, and one from an academy in Beijing.

Vitor Reia-Baptista, the professor from Portugal, noted on my panel that he was trying hard to educate the educators more about new technologies, so that they could then pass on that knowledge to students — or at least keep up with them. That set off the idea for me that perhaps new media literacy has to begin with the teachers before the pupils.

Jordi Torrent is a filmmaker, media literacy educator, and activist who organized the gathering. In between panels, he told me about his experience working in New York public schools, helping to push more critical thinking of media. He was disappointed that more local teachers didn’t show up at the conference, even though it was in New York for free on a Saturday.

“Because I work in the school system, I see how overtaxed the teachers are,” he said. “When you go to the schools, you see so many people doing incredible work in the classrooms. But they are scared of the new technology; it’s overwhelming them. We would like to teach them with professional development workshops, and the technology is actually getting simpler and easier to use. If they run into questions when teaching [new media], their students would probably have the answers for them.”

One hot-button issue for educators that came up repeatedly at the conference was around the use of copyrighted material and fair use, the exception to the law that allows comment or satire on copyrighted works. Many entertainment companies have been restricting fair use for academics in school, and that makes it very difficult to teach media literacy when you can’t show media examples due to copyright constraints. Documentary filmmakers have been pushing media companies to allow them to use copyrighted material under fair use, so they don’t have to spend countless days getting permission.

The Center for Social Media at American University has an amazing online resource related to fair use, with a report on fair use in online video platforms, as well as a “Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use” by documentary filmmakers. Probably the most entertaining take on copyright law is a video called A Fair(y) Use Tale, put together by Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University. The clip takes snippets of animated dialogue from Disney films to explain how copyright law works. These efforts are paramount in supporting educators so they feel more comfortable teaching new-media literacy without fear of being sued.

To Read the Rest of this Hyperlinked Report

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Eric Alterman: History in the News

History in the News
by Eric Alterman

And here, sadly, is George McGovern on the floor of the Senate on the occasion of the introduction of the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment that would have ended U.S. military operations in Vietnam by the end of 1970. It failed 55-39, but rings as true today, if you exchange the word "Iraq" for the word "Vietnam."

Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land -- young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes.

There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes.

And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.

So before we vote, let us ponder the admonition of Edmund Burke, the great parliamentarian of an earlier day: "A contentious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.

To Read the Rest of this Post

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bush Commutes Libby Prison Sentence

(Courtesy of Solidarity Mail)

Bush Commutes Libby Prison Sentence
The Associated Press

Monday 02 July 2007

Bush spares Libby from prison term.

Washington - President Bush commuted the sentence of former aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Monday, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.

Bush left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for Libby, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced.

Bush's move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case. That decision put the pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Libby was convicted in March of lying to authorities and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative's identity. He was the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair.

Reaction to Bush's Libby Decision
The Associated Press

Monday 02 July 2007

Some reaction to President Bush's decision Monday to commute the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.

"In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing." - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

"When it comes to the law, there should not be two sets of rules - one for President Bush and Vice President Cheney and another for the rest of America. Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law." - Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

"While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life." - Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

"Accountability has been in short supply in the Bush administration, and this commutation fits that pattern." - Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

"President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby. The prison sentence was overly harsh and the punishment did not fit the crime." - House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.

"This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years." - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

"After evaluating the facts, the president came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct." - former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world." - former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.

"The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own vice president's chief of staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law." - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"This commutation sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice." - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

"The president said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the president shows his word is not to be believed." - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"It is time for the American people to be heard - I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law." - Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.

"President Bush's 11th-hour commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence makes a mockery of the justice system and betrays the idea that all Americans are expected to be held accountable for their actions, even close friends of Vice President Cheney." - Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

"By commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, the president continues to abdicate responsibility for the actions of his administration. The only ones paying the price for this administration's actions are the American people." - Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

"This decision sends the wrong message about the rule of law in the United States, just as the president is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How can we hold the line against injustices in other countries when our own executive branch deliberately sets out to smear its critics, lies about it and then wriggles away without having to pay the price in prison?" - Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.

"The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking. Will the president also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?" - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Statement From Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald
t r u t h o u t | Press Release

Tuesday 03 July 2007

We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.

We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as "excessive." The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.

Although the President's decision eliminates Mr. Libby's sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process.



All Spin Zone: Perspective on the Libby Commutation

Monday, July 02, 2007

Give 2 Shitz: Crazy

(These two filmmakers have created a parody of Gnarls Barkley's song Crazy in order to clearly state what they think of the Bush administration.)

Give 2 Shitz

So, simply put…if you do give a shit…or 2 …about how this war is ruining our global reputation, bankrupting our treasury, killing our brave men and women, murdering innocent Iraqis and setting us up for even more of a problem in the future. Speak out. Let the lawmakers in Washington and the rest of the world know that we have a voice. And the way the Bush Administration is addressing the threat of global terrorism is throwing gas on the fire. Let history show that not only did we speak up, but our actions made a difference.

The Attempted London Car Bombing: "Yuppie Terrorists" with a Mercedes [VIDEO]

(Larry Johnson is a former Deputy Director in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism under the first Bush administration--here he provides us with a rational and insightful explanation of the past weekend's events and a warning about letting our fantasies--individually and collectively--distort reality.)

The Attempted London Car Bombing: "Yuppie Terrorists" with a Mercedes [VIDEO]
Host: Keith Olbermann
Guest: Larry Johnson

On Keith Olbermann's "Countdown," a counter-terrorism expert suggests that "yuppie terrorists" are the culprits in this latest example of the media's exaggeration of the terrorist threat.

In the estimation of counter-terrorism expert Larry Johnson, the car bomb of the would-be attack in London this past week would not do any real significant damage whatsoever. Yet the mainstream press seemed compelled to inflate this story as yet another example of the forever looming threat of another 9/11. The so-called terrorists were not located in the Middle East but were comfortably situated on the shores of the would-be attack, therefore completely discrediting the notion that we must fight in Iraq in order to prevent terrorism from occurring on our soil. Click on the video to your right for more.

Link to the Video