Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Marines in Berkeley? Get Out of Town.

From the San Jose Mercury News: The Berkeley City Council "voted 8-1 Tuesday night to tell the Marines that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting station 'is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.'" A member of the National Lawyers Guild, Sharon Adams, is also working on local legislation that would limit where recruiters could set up shop - the same way liquor stores, porn theatres and other entities that may be harmful to young people are regulated.

The backlash has of course been typical - left coast crazy commies out to get our poor, oppressed Marine recruiters. Move America Forward is claiming the mayor of Berkeley is stealing "the free speech rights of the United States Marine Corps by harassing the recruiting center into abandoning its lease." Yes, somehow the mayor of a relatively small city is stripping a branch of the U.S. Military - the same military that is matched in spending by every other military in the world combined - of its free speech rights. Last I remember, the Constitution grants liberties to "We the People," not some of the most powerful sectors of our government. Their press release announcing "Marines Attacked in Berkeley, CA," made me laugh. As if the women of Code Pink protesting with bullhorns and a few liberal city councilmembers acting on pretty modest legislation amounts to an "attack" on a multi-billion dollar military wing of the most powerful nation on earth; a group of soldiers, some of whom may have good intentions, but who nonetheless are trained to kill.

The simple fact is that Berkeley has every right to try to limit where recruiters can set up shop and they ought to protect the young people in their community from the tactics of military recruiters and the serious harms caused by warfare.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Same Old Democrats?

A letter from Barack Obama to the US representative to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad:

Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condenm the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel...

All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this... Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.

The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks... If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator


Appalling considering that this opinion on what is happening to Gaza is so far to the right of most of the world's thinking on the region. Not that a single issue would make me vote for or against a particular person, but this really puts the lie to all the Obama supporters who think of him as a real voice for change in our imperialist capital.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Is Morrissey Racist? Anti-Immigrant?

I've been a fan since high school, first because of his sexual ambiguity, and later because I recognized the politics in some of his music, such as The Queen Is Dead, What Difference Does It Make, and recent songs like Mexico where he sings "In Mexico, I went for a walk to inhale the tranquil, cool, lover's air. I could sense the hate of the lonestar state ... It seems if you're rich and you're white, you think you're so right. I just don't see why this should be so."

But he does seem to have this quasi-nationalism about some of his music, and I've often thought Bengali In Platforms was mildly racist. Now there is this crack he made in the NME: "the gates of England are being flooded. The country’s been thrown away." Check out this article for more information.

What to do? Of course for me nothing (and no one) is sacred, and I would kick Morrissey to the curb if he turned out to be an outright bigot. But for now I'm withholding final judgment.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yes I Love Interpol

Perhaps this is a bit dated since the latest album's been out for awhile. But I maintain that Interpol is one of the most brilliant bands that actually produce music you'll enjoy listening to over and over again.

They also seem to collaborate with some other incredible artists - innovative music videos and these captivating images used as covers for their latest album, singles, and their website are proof ...

Notable on the new album, the subtle fade in orchestra on Wrecking Ball, the pounding drums on Pioneer to the Falls, the playful desperation of No I In Threesome, the catchy drum stick claps in All Fired Up.

And as always the penetrating, deadly serious voice of Paul Banks.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Barrier Wall Art

Activists/artists have done a brilliant job of using the Israel apartheid wall as a canvas. The image to the left was featured on the New York Times web page acknowledging Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters. The story is about President Bush's visit to the region and the Palestinians' view of the world leader. Here's one quote from Moussa Al Hilou, a 63-year-old clothing store owner: "He has destroyed everything, and now he is coming to see the results ... What Palestinian state is he talking about? What he says is nonsense, even our leadership knows that."