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"Blessed be the womb that bore thee and the paps that gave thee suck." The rogue Fyodor Karamazov would surely admire Newt. So courageously does he suck the speaker's fees and undergo faux martyrdom for the sake of his visions of fundamental change.

Timothy P. Carney nails it, pointing out what amounts to the fact that Gingrich has never really been running for President. See Newt Inc. Thrives as Campaign Founders.


"Democracy in both America and Britain is coming under scrutiny these days. Quite apart from the antics of MPs and congressmen, it is said to be sliding towards oligarchy, with increasing overtones of autocracy. Money and its power over technology are making elections unfair. The military-industrial complex is as powerful as ever, having adopted “the menace of global terrorism” as its casus belli. Lobbying and corruption are polluting the government process. In a nutshell, democracy is not in good shape.How strange to choose this moment to export it, least of all to countries that have never experienced it in their history. The West not only exports the stuff, it does so with massive, thuggish violence, the antithesis of how self-government should mature in any polity. The tortured justification in Iraq and Afghanistan is that elections will somehow sanctify a “war against terrorism” waged on someone else’s soil. The resulting death and destruction have been appalling. Never can an end, however noble, have so failed to justify the means of achieving it."

- Simon Jenkins, former editor of The Times, writing in The Guardian, April 8, 2010 … with a prescience for things occupy.

Maelstrom Building
Charley Bravo - 12/21/11

The dissolution of Iraq into chaos, perhaps alongside and in sync with Syria, threatens to plunge the Middle East into a humanitarian and political nightmare. If a fear of this fate conjured prudence for the first Bush Administration in its decision not to advance on Baghdad, serious labours for the sake of a viable government in Iraq seemed oddly absent in the minds of the invaders of 2003. This lapse, more than anything else, best underscores the contempt observers felt upon witnessing George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" theatre.

Rather than seriously confront the fears of 1991, the younger Bush went into Iraq stoked with a contempt for nation building. The State Department was marginalized as appointments and duties, ostensibly for the sake of rebuilding Iraq, were made on the basis of loyalty and graft. A government, as in Afghanistan, was allowed to come to be on the basis of religious and ethnic fault lines, motivated seemingly by the dreamy notion that stable democracy is a phenomenon that jumps fully fledged like a rabbit out of history's magic hat.

Once you've suspended everything else, bracketing principle and established international norms which should have prevented war in the first place, forgetting the one thing that might conceivably justify means on the merits of praxis or the shoulders of "can do" indicates an astonishing insobriety. Neocon imagination must reel...



"So long as Hitch can learn to keep his mouth shut about Christianity being symptomatic of the ‘savage and ignorant prehistory of our species’ and whatnot, I’m sure he’ll cause no trouble that a few cups of black coffee and a night in the drunk tank can’t solve."

- The Onion: Christopher Hitchens Forcibly Removed From Trailer Park After Drunken Confrontation With Common-Law Wife

Christopher Hitchens, Spirited Iconoclast 1949-2011

Nearly a Laugh but Really a Cry
Citizen Zed - 12/15/11

Another GOP debate? More of the interminable circus? Weariness prompts a motivation check.  Oh yeah, only long cultivated and insurmountable disgust over Newt Gingrich. The Pied Piper of Political Pathology has to swim in chum filled waters, likely a bloated target for too many opportunistic jaws.  Thrown into this scenario, Newt's well honed stage presencing may lack sufficient gas. And the chance to witness the tell tale signs of squirming is just too much to pass up.

He may even be goaded into leveraging certain habits and erstwhile strengths. Take the recent, sharp exchange between Romney & Gingrich where Mitt worked in 'bomb thrower' and Newt parried with 'courage' and 'timid'.  Such farcical spats, so lamely sculpted by an aspiration to jedi mind trickery that the other words can be crossed out, place Gingrich on dangerous terrain.  More than any other candidate, he's likely to win the battle but lose the war.

Behind that expansive visage lurks an ego ripe with a sense of ownership, even entitlement, to the genius of word play and insult.  And it shows when he chafes at being subjected to it, almost as if he's trying to restrain a smirk at his imminent shot at showing up his poor attacker with a masterful, wizardly counterstroke. But he's apt to go too far, to be too mean...



"Gingrich’s remarks were headlined at Aljazeera and even as we speak have stirred a wave of anger at the United States. But it is not because he has put forward a new American position. It is because he has confirmed what the Arab public had perceived as US policy all along. The US is an accomplice in the erasure of a whole people, in keeping them in an estate of statelessness, only a little elevated from that of slavery, and in helping further expropriate them on a daily basis."

- Juan Cole, Washington's Actions on Palestine...

Fathoming the Gingrich Ascent
Citizen Zed - 12/2/11

...That such a fraud could be so thoroughly perpetuated may well require another zoo, one of "journalists" and talking heads who focus solely on marketing, demographics, and brands.  An unthinking substrate of unexamined feeling, the mere state of voter preference, becomes the basis of "analysis".  Suddenly, it's a media universe where styles of appeal cannot be brought into question any more than the unmitigated gut feelings upon which they draw a bead. Under the aegis of the Age of Marketing, the substance of political branding is never really the all, any more than that of the Mac hipster dude vs. the PC guy commercials a ways back. "Analysis" turns on the question of maintaining a brand and how well a demographic is manipulated, on who bought what.



The New York Times continues digging into Newt Gingrich's post-Speakership lobbying... influence peddling "visionary" schtick:

"From the moment he entered private life, Mr. Gingrich seemed determined to avoid being tagged as a lobbyist, which can be a kiss of death for anyone contemplating a presidential run. An early consulting contract, with a plastics company in 2001, contained language that would become standard: He “does not provide lobbying services of any kind.

“He made it very clear to us that he does not lobby, but that he could direct us to the right places in Washington and elsewhere,” said Paul Branagan, who was president of Millennium Plastics when it hired Mr. Gingrich for $7,500 a month plus stock options."  >continue<

As a child, Grover Norquist figured politics should be a brand
Citizen Zed - 11/20/11

According to Norquist on 60 Minutes tonight, he came up with the bright idea of making politics like Coke and Pepsi while riding on a school bus. No tax increases under any circumstances, and a drive to cut them at any opportunity, is not the product of adroit political rationality but, rather, a formula of consistent brand control, knowing exactly what you're buying - the marketing rubric of modern consumerism, one which aims at feelings, impulses and desire at the expense of active reason.

This vulgarity is made even more astonishing by the frank admission that our budget crisis is beholden to marketing, and a branding scheme as constant as the scent of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

If only it smelled that good.

Forgetting Brand Perry
XHerakleitos - 11/10/11

Reaction to last night's gaffe royale by Rick Perry in the CNBC Repbulican Debate, now splashed far and wide in the world press, prompts one Tumblr political observer to remark:

"I find myself angered and annoyed that the political left in the United States has chosen to focus on and mock Rick Perry for going blank for a few moments in the debate last night.

In part, this is because everybody does it. Hell, I did it in class yesterday. It happens. Perry’s misfortune was to do it in public … or, not all that in public given the CNBC crowd, but public in our Youtube age.

But that’s not what really makes me mad. What really goats me is that last night that stage was filled with people saying things that I thought were hateful, injurious to the public good, and down right stupid. And in response, the political left decided to make fun of Rick Perry."

But is it the “political left” that’s reflected in this juvenile focus? Even assuming there is such a thing as a “political left” in the U.S., one suspects a larger, more surreptitious phenomena, something like a consumer reflex. The man shows palpable signs of moronism in the middle of a Republican pathological pack; and yet, the crux of the matter only becomes self-evident in the crucible of this gaffe - one where Perry doesn’t have the look and feel of a real President. What shows here appears more a case of consumerism and entertainment fused into a psychology of the superficial.

It’s the revulsion of a consumer, not the reflection of a citizen.

Opponents of the Republican Party's lurch into base insanity, what's left of them, ought to examine their own impulse toward branding, lest they fall prey to a dubious bivalent scheme undergirding Fox News' very identity. Don't give Roger Ailes more cause to suppress a grin.


Eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Today Europe is shocked over a surpirse announcement of a Greek Referendum. The Guardian's crisis live blog has reports of the Greek government on the brink of collapse.



“An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things….So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new...

It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious."

- Comrades from Cairo, in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street


"‘Course it could be one of Howard Beal’s humanoids, copying and pasting while displaying loadz of attitude but not much else. Most of the “historical” narrative is shot though with a ridiculous level of nefarious motives imputed to the actors. Then a large majority of their points, even if they were valid, wouldn’t necessarily count as reasons to get rid of the Federal Reserve altogether. On top of this, you get no apparent caution that a theory that explains too much reveals itself as non-falsifiable, and thus a weakness. Plug all that into the persistent expression of puritanical, fundamentalist underpinnings, where everything has some muck defying simple answer based on a halo of “inviolable laws” which, if only implemented according to a formula, solves everything with a Disneyland ending - and, well, …if cult has a smell."

- Citizen Zed, comments on the "End The Fed" cult

Is it Soup yet?
Citizen Zed - 10/4/11

...Occupy Wall Street and its provincial spawn wrestle with a question. A recent planning event for Occupy Nashville splayed out the tensions in a well mannered way. Many believed it was obvious and rational to demand the removal of money from politics, even if this implied difficult hurdles of constitutional interpretation and thus drafting and/or supporting amendments. If we need the emergence of a rational democracy, if we need a framework wherein any number of other critical concerns can be advanced, then does not the tissue of democracy have to be inoculated against monetary infection? This line of reasoning felt confident that a substantive demand was, nevertheless, equally loose and adroit enough to unify the whole under a rational and publicly understandable umbrella. And yet, another contingent was not so keen on cashing out a process of consensus building so quickly. They wanted more respect for the very democratic advent where they found themselves together. They urged against being shoe-horned too quickly into the structure of a singular demand, especially amidst an intuition that all the hurry was a reactive gesture to a foreign demand.

It had all the awkward beauty of a first date, played out en masse...



"We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down." Read more

- David Graeber, Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination


Jeff Danziger

Who are you to say for sure?
Citizen Zed - 9/8/11

Reflecting on an excellent kohenari piece today, I recall also being struck hardest by Perry's first comment after the lamentable applause moment during last night's Republican debate. Perhaps I'm too jaded to have been shocked by the crowd. And yet this, this I can't begin to process:

Williams: Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those (234 deathrow inmates) might have been innocent..."
Perry: "No sir I've never struggled with that at all..."

If invested with such power, one would think that in its discharge struggle must be the highest duty. Moreover, that any argument giving the State (and hence an Executive) the power over life and death must assume the cultivation of a class of individuals capable of upholding that duty. If that power is to be limited, then we must see spirited struggle at the limit, on the horizon of any letter of the law.

This remains true even in retrospect, struggle as a constant task, whether it's Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or a single human being. Beyond the enthusiastic crowd, for an aspirant to the office of President to deny this, resting easy on the mechanics of a process, can only be relegated to the category of shame.

As the final hour drags by, I ain't about to tell you
That I don't deserve to die
But there's twenty-seven men here, mostly black, brown and poor
Most of em are guilty - Who are you to say for sure?
So when the preacher comes to get me - And they shave off all my hair
Could you take that long walk with me - Knowing hell is waitin' there
Could you pull that switch yourself sir
With a sure and steady hand
Could you still tell youself
That you're better than I am
My name is Billy Austin
I'm twenty-nine years old


NPR ran a great story this past Friday, In Afghanistan, Reviewing A Decade of Promises. Quil Lawrence saves the worst for last:

Bush: “Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government.”

That final promise from the U.S., to bring a stable government to Afghanistan, is also an open question. Election observers say Afghan politics have grown more fraudulent over the years, and most consider Karzai’s re-election in 2009 to be illegitimate. An equally questionable parliamentary election last year resulted in a near endless dispute, with Karzai trying to reinstate allies who had lost according to the official tally.

Still, among the warlords and government cronies, some new faces have emerged in the Afghan parliament — especially from the newly empowered Afghan media. Baktash Siawash, 27, was the country’s youngest TV talk show host before he became the country’s youngest member of parliament. Many Afghans are pinning their hopes on the next generation, a demographic that includes about half the country. But Siawash says the American promise of reconstruction has been a failure. >continue/listen<

Prior to 9/11 a frequent Republican tack was to use the phrase “nation building” with a thinly veiled sneer, as though it had some inherent, negative connotation. And yet, a Republican President would quickly jump into situations where the greatest single challenge was just that - to forge and cultivate new governments in foreign nations. Notwithstanding questions about invading Afghanistand and Iraq, failure in this task is arguably the greatest lapse, the greatest dishonor.

The United States arrogated to itself a task the obligations of which it was unfit to discharge. And another kind of sneer works its way across folds of the world’s visage.


"...the Superman hype — that came with the froth of the 2008 campaign, when his words seemed strong enough to break up a storm, and the idea of a black man becoming leader of a nation born with slavery was so potent.

As president, he’s been a sober, cautious, tongue-shackled realist — a moderate Republican of the pre-crazy, pre-Tea Party era. Having failed to come up with a Big Idea to guide his presidency, he will sink or swim now on strengths that don’t lend themselves to large rallies or passionate enthusiasm. Sobriety and moderation, by definition, are boring."

- Timothy Egan, Stop Waiting for Superman


The Daily Show - August 18th - World of Class Warfare.

Jon Stewart... We are not worthy! ... Edit: Apparently not - original vid deleted and now replaced. Pardon the idiot advert; this one's worth it.

A real winner last night
Citizen Zed - 8/12/11

Who won last night's Republican debate? Ron Paul hands down.

He wins by virtue of saying the only substantial thing uttered all night long. It wasn't about dog food, inane tax dogma, lawn mowing challenges or the tip of a quixotic spear. And it wasn't even connected to Libertarian fantasies about finance or freedom. It was the spectacular statement that our "war with Iran" started long before 1979.

Yes, Ron Paul had the temerity to mention the 1953 overthrow of Iranian democracy for the sake of installing the Shah. No US politician has made this point, at least not on any stage approaching this magnitude.

Poor Santorum was left only to gesticulate with lame appeals to authority - his own - "as the author of" a Senate act to punish Iran. Paul's response was important and noteworthy because of the stupefying groupthink and obsession with the Siren Song of Iran. The US posture toward Iran is based on hubris, illusion, emotion and/or outright malice (enough to fabricate an "existential threat to Israel" based on demonstrably false translations).

Paul's reminder opens the issue to millions who might otherwise never give the matter a second thought, inviting attention to the history of American moves at containment after a fateful aftermath - chiefly, support of Saddam Hussein's Iraq & the advanced positioning of American weapons and infrastructure on Saudi Arabian soil.

In an evening stuffed full of pathological pageantry, it was a bright and valuable moment. Thank you Ron Paul.


"What would a real response to our problems involve? First of all, it would involve more, not less, government spending for the time being — with mass unemployment and incredibly low borrowing costs, we should be rebuilding our schools, our roads, our water systems and more. It would involve aggressive moves to reduce household debt via mortgage forgiveness and refinancing. And it would involve an all-out effort by the Federal Reserve to get the economy moving, with the deliberate goal of generating higher inflation to help alleviate debt problems.

The usual suspects will, of course, denounce such ideas as irresponsible. But you know what’s really irresponsible? Hijacking the debate over a crisis to push for the same things you were advocating before the crisis, and letting the economy continue to bleed.”

- Paul Krugman, The Hijacked Crisis


NASA: DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space

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