Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ray Mc Govern Thrown out of Hillary Clinton Speech

A speech on internet freedom.

Mc Govern had stood up and turned his back in silent protest.

This is what state security thugs will do to a guy from the inside, a former top level CIA analyst:

And if you're not from the inside ?

Like any sociopath, Clinton is unmoved.

1'Former CIA analyst accosted during Clinton speech about tolerating free expression' - Raw Story

The Dumbing Down of the U.S. Meritocracy

Touched on by Abu-Khalil in relation to U.S. official expertise in the Middle East.

"Say what you want about the 70's and 80's and their bad policies but at least the experts had actual knowledge of the region and knew how to speak Arabic," he said.

"Look at Jeffrey Feltman (the current Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs), in all his years I think he's learned how to say shukran (thank you) and Ramadan Kareem (Ramadan is generous)...just like how former Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Elliot Abrams didn't know any Spanish...

The U.S. meritocracy is getting quite dumb. Even compare the writings from two generations ago, the literary and historical references and allusions within academic papers are more shallow, if they exist at all. You can almost trace this back into the high schools, with their parent initiated qualifications for gifted and talented programs, the AP classes with students whose parents have pull but no real special talent. I once ran sound for a G&T summer program near San Francisco, in a district that was 50%+ Latino, where all the G&T students were white or Asian. Of course most of the Hispanic parents didn't speak English and the others, by virtue of their professional background, did. (Asian immigration is disproportionately from the professional classes.) They couldn't find one 'gifted' Hispanic kid in their entire district ? These snapshots just tell us that the country is leaving too many naturally bright people out of the process which of course weakens the foundation as a whole. One can also include the political debate; it is quite narrow and leaves out a lot of left types who have no desire to overthrow capitalism but rather want to work within the existing order, even. This creates a weaker political structure that leads to legislative and regulatory failures and in our recent case, financial crisis. A strong meritocracy is one that can include a wide variety of voices for the government to chose from depending on the situation.
1'Renowned intellectual Abu-Khalil talks Egypt, Palestine in Dearborn' Arab American News

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Someone Really Likes Gold Stars



The decline of a nation in two pictures.

1'It Sure Looks Like Osama bin Laden is Winning the Great War on Terror' - Counterpunch

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wikileaks Neutralized US Public Support for Ben Ali

Yasser Taima's twitter has some interesting commentary on the role of WikiLeaks in Tunisia. The crux of it being that the U.S. was prevented from propping up Ben Ali by the admissions from its secret cables. Without the cables, he could have been more easily presented as a modernizer in the mainstream news outlets, the protesters as radicals or Islamists.


@Soumees So of course rebellion started with injustice but emboldened as USG was itself critical of Ben Ali & was exposed to be as such.

@Soumees I think wikileaks neutralized USG vis a vis support 4 dictators.Once USG out of game,regime vulnerable & people could bring it down

@Soumees Online youth found from cables USG in private was as critical of regime as #Tunisia.Reasoned USG can't contradict itself & support

Egyptian Army Uses Violence to Break up Tahrir Protest

Big mistake. It was state violence against peaceful protest which previously galvanized the various clusters of the democracy movement. I see even Ghonim is outraged, after previously vouching for the Army.

Become A Math Teacher in Oakland, California

Requirements ?

- Bachelor’s degree
- Minimum 2.75 GPA
- Can NOT hold a teaching credential

Salary ?

- $39,456 - $41,456 /Year

Yes, this wage - in the Bay Area - will attract "our brightest and most driven individuals to join this movement to dramatically improve student outcomes."

What they really want is new graduates who can't find a job in this recession; then, work them to the bone for a few years until they are burned out. On to the next victim. Young means no families or health issues (usually), and non-credentialed is below the bottom rung on the pay scale.

It is not about any of the gobbletygoop in the advert.

We know this because wealthier school districts demand experienced, credentialed and multiple degreed teachers. They also pay better.

1'Oakland Teaching Fellows'

Wolfowitz : Arm Libyan Rebels

He writes:

More public statements, or even the imposition of sanctions, are of absolutely no use at this point. Much more urgent action is needed. The United States should be seeking U.N. approval for:

— Recognition of a provisional authority in liberated areas (or even a Provisional Government of Free Libya if the Libyans can organize a credible one), initially in Benghazi in the east and Misurata in the west, which seem to be liberated, although are still under threat of air attack;

— Provision by member countries, including specifically Egypt and Tunisia, of any support requested by these provisional authorities;

— Imposition of a NATO-supported “no fly” zone over Libya to halt further bombing by Qaddafi’s forces;

— Urgent supply of food and medical supplies to any point in Libya that is accessible by road or by military transport aircraft;

Provision of arms to the provisional authorities.

1'Paul Wolfowitz - It’s Too Late for Dithering'

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shifting Taxes onto the Working Class

The Marginal Tax Rate on the Highest Earners Has Dropped.

While Tax Revenue as a % of GDP has remained consistent.

The 'dark matter' in the equation is that the working class(*) has had to take up the slack in taxation from the super wealthy. For most of us, this comes about as 'fees'. I do understand, but not agree with, the strain of misplaced anger towards the public sector. The working classes have seen their tax burden increase over the last generation, but it is brought to them by the same folks who brought the world the financial crisis of 2008. Not teachers or snowplow drivers.

1'JEFF GUNDLACH: The US Economy Is A Complete Horror' - Business Insider
(*) Substitute Middle Class if one wishes, it is America where there is no Working Class.(TM)

Hosni Mubarak and His Suit

Those aren't pinstripes.

Smoking Ban Extended in NYC

Looking at the tree and not the forest, one can't argue with this. But the desire of the government to control every aspect of our behavior isn't good. I'm sorry, occasional puffs of smoke from the park bench across from you isn't a health concern. At least relative to all the other garbage that is put in our food and air. What goes on in slaughterhouses in terms of sanitation should give people nightmares. But it is ignored. This goes to the nature of debate in this country; at its heart is anti-intellectualism, emotion and a disregard for reason. Leading to capricious outcomes and an easily swayed population. No wonder Oprah and Barbara Walters have cleaned up.

1'NYC Smoking Ban Signed Into Law By Mayor Bloomberg' Huff Po

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The U.S. is Really Unpopular in the Middle East

That's why these uprisings, even if they end up incomplete in many senses, will do U.S. imperialism no good. Any inkling of democracy and U.S 'interests' are going to be pushed into a corner. This isn't 1989, when the kids were all playing Rock-n-Roll in Eastern Europe.

Iran has already made the first move by sending warships through the Suez. And there wasn't a damn thing the U.S. military could do about it.

1'Arab Unrest Propels Iran as Saudi Influence Declines' - NYT

The Daily Show Torments A Camel

They bring a camel out in the ice and snow to make fun of Wisconsin protesters who were comparing themselves to Egyptians.

Except plenty of people in the labor movement in Egypt saw the parallels. Most especially when there were threats to call out the National Guard for a peaceful protest.

Jesters aren't funny when they are attacking the serfs. And John Stewart hasn't been funny in quite a while.

John Oliver comes by at about :30 to attempt some thuggery.

Deprogram the Tivo, let this show fade , it's not 2003.

Liberals Perform Their Service for the Ruling Class

Why I have no use for liberals. Exhibit: Eugene Robinson.

The reality is that workers in many industries are having to choose between givebacks and massive layoffs. Public employees should not be uniquely sheltered from the ill winds buffeting the U.S. economy.

Yes, workers must have their wages cut so that the billionaires running this country can maintain their power and international status as richest-of-the-rich. And cutting public sector wages does nothing for the non-union private sector. It won't lower taxes, that game is rigged by those aforementioned billionaires. It just drives down the 'market rate' for wages, which are set in comparison to each other.

What social system can go on by continually driving down the standard of living for the vast majority of its population ? Not an open and free open, but perhaps one in which the government, acting as the enforcer for its ruling class, operates with increasing harshness.

But we have seen how that turns out to, and history cycles quickly now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fissures in the U.S. Ruling Class

The rise of the Koch/Walmart faction of the U.S. ruling class only spells disaster for the future of the country as a world power.

Their strategies are far too short sighted and reckless.

Endgame for Wisconsin Protests ? (Hopefully Not)

Unless the Wisconsin protesters have the ability to escalate their actions, namely with larger strikes that bring pain to businesses, or the physical occupation of the Capital with the establishment of a shadow government, they seem to have exhausted the narrow bounds by which expression is allowed in a bourgeois democracy. They have 'let their voices' be heard, and now are being told to 'go back to work'. With the idea being that elected representatives will take their grievances to account. Which of course they won't.

In retrospect, the walk out by Wisconsin Dems was a clever strategy to de-escalate the crisis. Allow tensions to simmer down rather than risk a social eruption had the bill passed too quickly and without warning. The Dems fulfilled their role in the system, to corral social protest.

Monday, February 21, 2011

LSE Decides, Now, To Return Gift from Gadhafi

The London School of Economics says it has suspended a study program partly funded by a charity run by the son of Moammar Gadhafi after the "distressing" violence in Libya over the past few days.

The university says that in 2009 it accepted a gift of 1.5 million pounds (2.4 million) from the Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which is chaired by the Libyan leader's son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, an LSE graduate.

The school said the money was used to fund a North African research program, which has now been suspended.

The LSE also said it was reconsidering other links with Libya in light of the "highly distressing" violence there.1

Reconsidering only now ? And before it was a kindly regime ?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gaddafi 'Embraced' by the West

The regime, once treated as a pariah, has been embraced by western countries hungry for oil and lucrative business opportunities since Gaddafi abandoned his support for terrorism but there has been very little easing of domestic repression.(1)

Also, if Venezuela is offering Gaddafi exile as the Libyan ambassador to China says, then anyone on the Left should be done with Chavez.

1'Libya on brink as protests hit Tripoli' - UK Guardian


1Blair's Farewell Tour of Africa - Life

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Media on Wisconsin Protests

I see Reuters and others are doing their false equivalency bullshit, as usual.

70,000 versus 2,000 should not written as 'both sides protest'. While narrowly accurate, it does not tell the full story or paint a complete picture.

What a complete disgrace.

The Military - Security State

GPS on Truant Kids :

Students with at least four unexcused absences will be given a handheld device with a GPS signal to verify their location, which officials hope will cut down on truancies.

The US is a particularly unfree society, masking as a free one. A stratospheric incarceration rate, multiple wars, kids under constant surveilance.

'Harmlessly' embedding some type of GPS device is next. Just wait.

A society as unequal as the U.S. cannot continue on as representative bourgeoisie democracy. And indeed it is is morphing into something else.

1'GPS To Track Truant Students In Anaheim'- LA CBS

Ok , Time for Some Famous Conservative Volunteerism

Milwaukee and Madison schools were shut on Friday due to sick-outs. Now is a great chance for parents - and there are many - that support the wage cuts put forth by governor Walker to show how easily these teachers can be replaced. Just step in with some volunteer committees to run the schools. Why isn't this happening ?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Texas under 18 is near 50% 'Hispanic'

Like it or not Tea Party, America is changing.

The Latino growth accounted for two-thirds of the state's population gains between 2000 and 2010, and Latinos now make up 38 percent of the population. Non-Hispanic whites dropped to 45.3 percent and blacks make up 11.5 percent of the population. Hispanics make up 48.3 percent of the under-18 population.(1)

Calfornia was once the state of Ronald Reagan.

1'Census: Texas GOP bastions becoming more diverse' - Houston Chronicle

What Do CEO's Know About Education ?

Very Little. (Tutoring one's child or cousin is not the same as running a classroom 200 days a year.)

Yet they circle together with Obama as if they are experts on everything.

President Barack Obama will visit the Bay Area Thursday to meet with high tech business leaders -- a session that will stress jobs, innovation, green tech and education themes...(1)

The attitude goes hand in hand with dismissing education as a profession, and the desire for a servant class of educators who do the bidding of business.

The quandary of bourgeoisie minded education reformers in America is to develop technically smart people who are submissive to authority.

1'President Obama to meet with high tech leaders - SF Gate

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No More Exclamation Points of Fake Enthusiasm Please

Seems like every other email recently, supposedly on matters of business, ends with a: Thanks !

It's utter bullshit. No more fake enthusiasm or praise for doing one's job. This is just creeping fascism, an emphasis on emotion over rationality, puffery and implied cronyism over substance.

Race to the Bottom

The current political debate in the U.S. is a dumb one. Basically pitting workers against each other so the plutocrats destroying the United States internally can retain their international status as 'richest of the rich'.

The idea that a worker shouldn't complain because XYZ are marginally worse off leads no where. In this argument therefore, no one should have their wages increased - ever - because someone else is worse off. Or, no worker should have a pension because others do not.

It reminds me of my time teaching in the Manila squatter's areas, when people would talk about how lucky they were because they weren't living by the garbage piles and scavenging garbage for a living. After all, the squatter's areas have housing and some type of amenities.

So don't complain unless you are living by the garbage piles. Which I guess is every American worker, union or non-union, public or private. Just shut up and be grateful to your masters.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Devaluation is No Elixir

Devaluing the U.S. dollar may improve the trade balance with Asia, and bring back jobs in manufacturing. But in a country as dependent on cheap oil as the U.S., the tradeoffs will be steep in terms of transportation and food prices.

1'From Japan: An Interesting Comment On US Economic Planning, the Dollar, and Peak Cheap Oil' - Jesse Cafe

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wael Ghonin Thanks the US and Europe

Via Twitter:

Dear Western Governments, You've been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppressing us. Please don't get involved now #Jan25 7:53 AM Feb 11th

So this is how a young, wired, Western employed and professionally educated Egyptian feels.

OK, now imagine the exponentially stronger feelings of someone in the working class and one has to believe there is a quiet panic going around Washington.

Friday, February 11, 2011

On What Can Be the Fleeting Victory of People Power

Keep in mind the Philippines had a People Power movement every bit as fiercely contested by the United States. This was not because of oil interests and Israel, but because of the powerful Leftist movement that existed in the Philippines in the early to mid 80's. During this time Maoist guerillas controlled most of the countryside and held sway in the urban slums. Leftist groups boycotted the 1986 election, leaving the door wide open for a different faction of the ruling class - one that had been shut out by Marcos - to take power.

So today the Philippines is a democracy, but one ridden with corruption and dominated by a narrow aristocracy that in many cases goes back to the Spanish days. It is also an extremely poor country, far below Egypt in per person GDP, despite an educated population that in most cases finds its success overseas.

A Great Victory

For anyone who cares about improving human life.

The fear factor is gone, and it will very difficult for the military to come in and dictate terms to the population.

There are already calls to end the Gaza blockade, and a democratic government in Egypt will have to respond.

Egyptian Armed Forces are Splintering

An Egyptian army officer who joined protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square told the Reuters news agency that 15 other middle-ranking officers had also gone over to the demonstrators.

"The armed forces' solidarity movement with the people has begun," Major Ahmed Ali Shouman said. "Some 15 officers … have joined the people's revolution," he said, listing their ranks ranging from captain to lieutenant colonel. Our goals and the people's are one."

Another army major walked up to Shouman while he was talking with the Reuters reporter in Tahrir and introduced himself, saying: "I have also joined the cause."(1)

Wonder if there is a Chavez style leader within these ranks. I would guess so.

Some are interpreting hesitation and conflicting messages from Washington and the Mubarak regime as trickery, when to me they look like weakness, indecision and lack of unity in the ruling classes.

One example: billionaire Najib Sawiris was talking about the sweet smell of freedom a few days ago, but yesterday started asking protesters to go home.

1'Egyptian army backs Hosni Mubarak and calls for protesters to go home' - UK Guardian

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Imperialism and the Piano

Before the Piano, for many if not most cultures a 12 note scale was not the norm. And the clash between equal and natural temperament shows that the piano - the most important instrument of the West - is a highly flawed concept adapted to facilitate thick and complex harmonic structures.

Some aspects of our ears are deadened as a result. A prominent Arab musician and historian told me (us) once that at the turn of the century, the average Arab could heard 32 pitches within an octave. With the centuries long intrusion of the piano into the Middle East, 'traditional' arab music now has around 16, with the use of half flats.

And one always does feel a bit clunky as a Westerner playing Arab melodies. Americans have the blues, a distant relative through time, but it doesn't feel as subtle or smooth.

But Reactionaries Have Assured Us That IQ Is Innate

Researchers from the United Kingdom and Canada found an association between foods high in fat and sugar and slightly reduced IQ. Using questionnaires that asked how often parents fed their children junk food, the researchers found that children whose dietary patterns consisted of fatty, sugary foods at age 3 had a lower IQ at age 8-1/2 than their peers who ate a lot more nutritious foods.

So it turns out IQ is a measure of the experiences one has had in life. Telling us a fact we already knew, that enriching life experiences and education makes you smarter. Wow.

1'Do Fatty, Processed Foods Lower Children's IQ?' - ABC

But Paraguay (or is it Uruguay) still calls, George Jr

Human rights groups have vowed to track George W Bush round the world after their success in forcing him to cancel a trip to Switzerland amid concerns over protests and a threatened arrest warrant.

Katherine Gallagher, a lawyer with the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, said: "The reach of the convention against torture is wide. This case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels next.(1)

It's an open and shut case. The Bush family has some big acreage in one of the aforementioned countries, turns out he might be spending a lot of time there clearing brush. Or hanging out in East Texas.

As a side note, how much of a stir could WikiLeaks really cause when an ex-president brags about torture and few people blink an eye in the United States ? We don't have the capacity to be shocked anymore. Just order up some greasy burgers and apathy/cynicism about the human condition.

1'George Bush issued travel warning by human rights organisations' - UK Guardian

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Protesters Clean Near Tahrir Square

Protesters are organizing various groups out of Tahrir Square. Very impressive.

Where Ghonim is Most Important

Not for Egyptians , or informed and left-leaning Americans and Westerners. However, he is extremely important in humanizing the Middle East for the great swath of uniformed and easily swayed 'middle' American electorate.

His voice makes it that much harder for Obama to green-light any military crackdown.

Strikes Spreading Like Wildfire in Egypt

# shabab i can't keep up with the updates. There r strikes everywhere! #jan25 #egyworkers 1 hr ago

# tomorrow more oil workers from the provinces will descend on Nasr City to join protests in front of oil ministry. #jan25 1 hr ago

# the railway technicians in Bani Suweif r on strike. #jan25 1 hr ago

# tomorrow Ghazl Mahalla #egyworkers will start a strike. #jan25 1 hr ago

# several factories in suez have gone on strike. #jan25 1 hr ago

# Misr Helwan comany workers r on strike. #jan25 1 hr ago

# at least 2 military production factories in Welwyn r on strike. #jan25 1 hr ago

# public transportation workers in 3 garages r on strike. #jan25 1 hr ago


“These strikes can be the first step in politicization,” says a socialist activist, who has been trying to link up labor movements with the democracy protesters. “If it starts to spread, it can catch like fire.”(1)

2'Egypt protesters seek to spread beyond Tahrir Square' - CSM

The Circus Must Go On (file under Bread and Circus)

Away from Egypt news, last week north Texas saw rolling blackouts which shut down electricity at area hospitals. While they all have back up generators, it takes a few moments to transition during which time there is not continuous monitoring of patients. Imagine if one was in surgery.

Of course, during this time Cowboys Stadium - what with the Super Bowl coming up - was unaffected and lights stayed glowing bright, heat flowing warmly.

1'Blackouts Anger Dallas Hospitals' CBS 11 News

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mubarak is Still President

The resistance to his resignation from Washington and the NDP indicates it is more important than many suppose. My initial analysis supposed that it wouldn't matter much if Mubarak resigned as long as Suleiman, quite the nasty character, stayed around to 'administer' democracy. I guess their feeling is that if you cut off the head of the snake, the body dies. I do understand the resistance from Mubarak's point of view: the minute he resigns he will be a hunted man for the rest of his existence.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mike Mullen On the Daily Show Thursday

“One of my chief goals right now it to make sure we keep the lines of communications open, I have talked to my counterpart a couple of times. And also that we’ve got our military ready, should any kind of response or support be required.”

That pipeline explosion/bombing in the Sinai is a big deal. It won't be able to supply Jordan for a week, a country with little fossil fuels and about a 30 days emergency reservoir. Not to mention Israel.

1Interview Segment 1, Time 2:00

Friday, February 4, 2011

Demands of the Jan25 Revolution

-Resignation of the President
-End of the State of Emergency
-Dissolution of the People's Assembly and Shora Council
-Formation of a national transitional government
-An elected parliament to amend the constitution to allow for presidential elections
-Immediate prosecution of those responsible for the deaths of the revolution's martyrs
-Immediate prosecution of the corrupt and those who robbed the country of its wealth

Picture by Arabawy

On Egypt

'The West Has Betrayed Egypt' - Great Powers Dispute Brewing ?

Billionaire and counter revolutionary Ibrahim Kamel is paraphrased by the BBC.

The general secretary of the ruling NDP, Ibrahim Kamel, has accused the West of betraying Egypt.

He vowed that President Mubarak would not step down and that soon millions of Egyptians - "the silent majority" - would come out on to the streets to protest because "enough is enough".(1)

Does this mean hard line Mubarak elements are going to look East for money and support ?

Consider China's role in the Sudan, just south.

1'Egypt protests: 'Day of departure' rally in Cairo' - BBC News

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mc Cain: Egypt could become 'Lenin Scenaro'

In case one was wondering the true calculus of discussions in Washington right now:

McCain said the logical way out of the crisis was for Mubarak to announce he would not run for president, to turn over power to a caretaker government, and for that interim regime to proceed with elections in September.

“This is a narrow window of opportunity. The longer the unrest exists, the more likely it is to become extreme."


“There's all kind of bad scenarios here, and really only one good one,” he said.

“My great fear is obviously a radical Islamic extremist (regime) — the Iran scenario…” he said. “The longer this unrest, the more likely the radicals see openings to take power – the Lenin scenario.”(1)

1'Clinton urges 'transition to a democratic regime' in Egyp' - MSNBC

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Incredible Scenes on Al Jazeera Now