Friday, February 29, 2008

Israeli Minister Vows Palestinian Holocaust; American Media Takes No Notice

According to the British Telegraph: "A senior Israeli politician provoked controversy today when he warned that Palestinians firing rockets from Gaza would be punished with a 'bigger holocaust' from Israeli armed forces." A simple google news search of the story found headlines in British, Canadian, Irish, Australian, Iranian, and Arab media sources, but almost nothing in the American press - Democracy Now being one exception.

Now there is debate over the translation of the actual word used: "shoah." Though even the Israeli newspaper Haaretz admits that "shoah" is "the Hebrew word for holocaust or disaster ... the word is generally used to refer to the Nazi Holocaust..." But even without the "holocaust" statement, the threat is still grave and ought to provoke a response of outrage from Americans. In the past 3 days 33 Palestinians have been killed, including 5 children playing soccer, all allegedly in response to rocket attacks that have killed one Israeli in the same time period. The minister's statement, along with threats from many other Israeli officials, appear to be leading up to a possible ground invasion of Gaza, but certainly a military escalation. No doubt many more children and innocent civilians will be killed needlessly.

Needlessly because Hamas has offered a cease fire and negotiations which nearly 2/3 of the Israeli population supports. Unfortunately, the military leaders and right-wing politicians in Israel probably have too much at stake in refusing negotiations, escalating their state terror campaign against Gaza, and continuing to label Hamas "terrorists" while they exact collective punishment against the people in Gaza.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Alternative

The predictable response from the corporate daily in San Francisco
: "Outspent 5-to-1, Gonzalez gave Newsom - and the city's Democratic establishment - a big scare by drawing 47 percent of the vote ... There is no need to recount all the reasons why Gonzalez was ill suited to be mayor of San Francisco. Let's just say that an aloofness and ideological rigidity that sometimes undermined his effectiveness at City Hall - in his first two years as supervisor, he would not meet with Mayor Willie Brown - is not going to play in Peoria."

Something tells me the imaginary Peoria residents the Chronicle Board imagines wouldn't think much of Willie Brown either. But the Board must not think much of the residents whose ideas they ought to reflect (though most people that actually live in the city don't really think they do). Being outspent 5 to 1 and still garnering nearly half the vote is a huge accomplishment. It isn't hard to imagine that if the playing field had been level, Gonzalez would have won in a landslide. But half of San Francisco doesn't move the Chronicle Board and a majority probably wouldn't either.

Then they pull this tired argument out of their dusty top hats: "Nader expresses not the least bit of remorse that his 2000 run on the Green Party ticket helped tilt Florida, and thus the presidency, to George W. Bush, in an excruciatingly close race." Of course the facts that the difference was so small that 4th and 5th party tickets could be described as "stealing" the election, or that voters are smart enough (even in Florida) to know all the consequences of casting their vote without a lecture from people who wouldn't support Nader anyway, doesn't illicit any remorse from the Chronicle Board.

And why cricitize Nader in an editorial that is allegedly criticizing his choice of runningmate? Because it really doesn't matter who he chose as runningmate since the Chronicle Board thinks he's a spoiler anyway. They just couldn't resist another childish jab at Gonzalez, just as he's getting his first taste of national exposure in some years.

Nader/Gonzalez '08 - ya I'm taking them seriously.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

obama for president? maybe not?

First I watched part of the debate last night with Hillary Clinton and listened to Obama go out of his way to describe America's relationship with Israel as "sacrosanct," which defines as "extremely sacred or inviolable ... above or beyond criticism, change, or interference." Beyond change? That kind of clashes with the Senator's motto.

Then I listened to him join Hillary in ratcheting up a new Cold War with Russia and referring to President Putin over and over again as merely "Putin," but it sounded like this: poot'n. Hillary pronounced it similarly, but with an Arkansas-New York accent.

Then I listened to a story this morning about the new border fence in Texas requiring eminent domain seizures of property some people have had in their family for centuries, but bypassing properties owned by wealthy land owners with connections (see the article in The Texas Observer). Apparently I missed the part of the debate where both Clinton and Obama said they were opposed to the way the fence was being built and would revisit the issue if President. But revisit they must, because both of them voted for the "border security" bill as Senators.

And there's more of course, as outlined by former Green Party San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez in this article on BeyondChron.

But the question all this begs is what, or who, is the alternative? Perhaps Cynthia McKinney - whom, along with Dennis Kucinich, I am a fan of on my facebook page. But now with Nader having a greater profile, I'm not sure what 3rd party campaign to commit myself to.

And I'm not convinced that Obama would not be more open to progressive pressure than Clinton. Someone commented on my previous post, implying that the main difference between Clinton and Obama was that Clinton was more predictable. But my fear with Clinton is that she may move sharply to the right of her rhetoric, as the previous Clinton administration had a tendency to do; Obama may as well, but the hope I see in his potential presidency is that he may actually stick with a lot of his rhetoric and, unpredictably perhaps, even move to the left. Unlike many others, he has said he would meet with leaders in Cuba and Iran. That's real progress. And there are pictures on the web of him with Al Sharpton and Edward Said. I doubt you'll find similar photos of Clinton. This is a tough one.

Monday, February 25, 2008

obama for president?

Maybe. At least if he won it would be a victory against the bigotry and nationalism that is now being used to attack him. There is this photo of him in Somali garb that is circulating on the internet. Big deal - check out Bush and Putin ( below right).

Then there are the claims that he is unpatriotic. For me, when Americans talk about "patriotism" they are usually, perhaps unwittingly, really talking about "nationalism." The brand of "nationalism" that seeps into the realm of fascism, racism and xenophobia - America: Love It Or Leave It; England for the English; and so on. It tends to be uncritical of a nation's problems or excesses and a belief in global superiority is at its core: We're the best and all those other countries (or sometimes peoples) suck.

Then there is all the symbolism - flags, flag pins, flag bumper stickers, eagles, eagles with flags clutched in their claws, etc. This is what is getting Obama into trouble. He just isn't white enough, doesn't seem like the type that drives an SUV, and it is hard to picture him landing on an aircraft carrier wearing a flight jacket. Thus the photo from Africa, and the critique that he doesn't wear an American flag pin, and once sang the National Anthem but didn't put his hand on his chest. Frankly I would support him more if he remained seated and didn't sing the song at all, but I'm kind of left wing like that.

Then there is the statement from his wife: "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country." What? Hasn't she been exceedingly proud of her country for the past 50 years, throughout the awe inspiring pursuit of freedom we've led in Southeast Asia, Central America and now the Middle East? Wasn't she proud of our brave young men and women in Iraq when the Abu Graib photos were published? Doesn't it fill her heart with joy to hear that America does indeed waterboard prisoners and practices extraordinary rendition?

Of course, all of this is pretty tame stuff - Obama is still a candidate collecting loads of corporate money, giving Israel a pass, and threatening Pakistan among other countries. But check out his response: "As far as the American flag pin, I mean, when we start getting into those definitions of patriotism, that’s a debate I am happy to have, because what I will come right back to them is: a party that resided over a war which our troops did not get the body armor they needed or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning or not fulfilling the veterans benefits that these troops need when they come home or undermining our constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary. That is a debate I am very happy to have."

It kind of sounds like he isn't completely backing down. He isn't doing what I've come to expect from Democrats whenever they are accused of being less than patriotic, war-like, tough-on-crime, meat-eating, free-marketeers - running away with tail between legs and/or executing a mentally retarded inmate and/or bombing a country with 1/1000th the military power of one of our aircraft carriers. There is something there that is making me think long and hard about whether I'm going to cast my protest vote for a Green or, as I did in 2004, for Leonard Peltier. I'm not running out to campaign for Obama - there are far too many important political fights going on to divide up my attention right now besides presidential politics - but I am thinking.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Large Cop Yells at Children

This guy's out of control. I hope they don't give him a real patrol car or he'll be taking his rage out on adults.