Sunday, November 28, 2010

The New York Times: out of 250,000 Wikileaks cables it's only going to publish 100 on its website, and even then some will be edited

Because they're responsible, and they've vetted it with the White House. And they've also, gladly no doubt, shared their "advice" about which ones to publish and which ones not publish with foreign news organizations. This advice comes both from the New York Times itself, which diligently started self censoring, and from the White House. I'm sure that foreign news organizations really appreciate that, you know, the thought, the courtesy, of getting unsolicited advice from a paper with close ties to the U.S. government about which U.S. government cables to print and which ones not to.

Article A Note to Readers: The Decision to Publish Diplomatic Documents

"The documents — some 250,000 individual cables, the daily traffic between the State Department and more than 270 American diplomatic outposts around the world — were made available to The Times by a source who insisted on anonymity.


Reporting Classified Information

About 11,000 of the cables are marked “secret.” An additional 9,000 or so carry the label “noforn,” meaning the information is not to be shared with representatives of other countries, and 4,000 are marked “secret/noforn.” The rest are either marked with the less restrictive label “confidential” or are unclassified. Most were not intended for public view, at least in the near term.

The Times has taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger confidential informants or compromise national security. The Times’s redactions were shared with other news organizations and communicated to WikiLeaks, in the hope that they would similarly edit the documents they planned to post online.

After its own redactions, The Times sent Obama administration officials the cables it planned to post and invited them to challenge publication of any information that, in the official view, would harm the national interest. After reviewing the cables, the officials — while making clear they condemn the publication of secret material — suggested additional redactions. The Times agreed to some, but not all. The Times is forwarding the administration’s concerns to other news organizations and, at the suggestion of the State Department, to WikiLeaks itself. In all, The Times plans to post on its Web site the text of about 100 cables — some edited, some in full — that illuminate aspects of American foreign policy. "

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Basic question for the Tea Party about limited government:

You're for less government interference in our lives, but you're for completely cracking down on illegal immigrants. Doesn't that require lots of police on the roads, lots more government officials overlooking immigration enforcement, as well as more people directly on the border? With the "Ground Zero Mosque", so called, in order to stop the construction of it you need the government, that is the police, to withdraw the permit, meaning that you're strengthening the power of government over zoning laws in order to accomplish what you want. How does this jibe with your limited government stance? Some of the Tea Party folks are against the right of gays to get married, which is an issue of government preventing people from doing something. What are your opinions about drug laws, and about crime in general? I know it's hard to summarize the opinions of lots of diverse people, but would you support more cops on the streets in order to fight crime, and do you think that personal use of drugs is something that the government should be concerned about?

Any takers?

Ultra-conservatism and homosexuality uneasily combined in the high echelons of the Catholic Church: Der Spiegel interview

Excellent interview on Der Spiegel's English Edition with theologian David Berger, talking about his experience moving within the ultra-traditional circles that seem to have taken power with Ratzinger while also being closeted.

"Berger: I kept having to listen to inhuman views. For example, Hitler was praised for having interned and murdered homosexuals in concentration camps. The point came when I couldn't remain silent any longer ...

SPIEGEL: ... after you and your career had profited for a long time from contact with these right-wing circles.

Berger: Ever since Pope Benedict XVI, at the latest, you have to be anti-modern to have a career in the Catholic Church. I criticized the relatively progressive theology and left-wing church policy of Karl Rahner. That is how people noticed me. Because I was an expert on the medieval thinker Thomas Aquinas, I was invited by almost all right-wing conservative groups to give lectures. I was in touch with the Sedevacantists, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, Una Voce, Opus Dei and the Servants of Jesus and Mary.

SPIEGEL: What went on at the meetings?

Berger: These groups are very careful about who they invite. They meet in very high-class venues, sometimes in former aristocratic residences or in luxury hotels. Old men smoke fat cigars, drink expensive red wine and eat well. It is a parallel world whose inhabitants seek to defy the modern world.

SPIEGEL: And what do they discuss?

Berger: They talk about a supposed Jewish global conspiracy or about how to keep emancipators, freemasons and gays out of the church. For many years, there were "gentlemen's evenings" in Düsseldorf that were organized by a tax consultant. They increasingly became a focal point for a right-wing Catholic network. At one of the meetings, which were regularly visited by senior clerics, the man sitting next to me, a retired university professor, was railing against the gay parades on Christopher Street Day (in Germany): "Instead of standing in a corner, being ashamed of themselves and just shutting up, they behave like pigs gone wild."

SPIEGEL: Why didn't you turn your back on the church at that point?

Berger: Many gays are attracted by the clear hierarchies of the male world of Catholic rituals. Among clerics I discovered extremely effeminate behavior of the sort I knew well from certain gay scenes. People give each other women's names and attach very high importance to clerical robes in all colors. Just think of the nicknames Bishop Walter Mixa (who recently stepped down amid accusations of violence and financial irregularities) and his housemaster friend gave each other: "Hasi," or "bunny," and "Monsi," short for monsignore.

SPIEGEL: Did you get the impression that your homosexuality may even have helped your career?

Berger: In clerical circles I kept getting shown through unmistakeable looks, hugs, stroking of my upper arms and excessively long handshakes that one didn't just appreciate my work a lot. The fact that many prelates had homosexual tendencies is certain to have made them more ready to help me get positions. "

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Been think of the Popular Front/United Front/Peoples' Front lately

The one sponsored by the Communist Parties in the '30s and '40s. The contradictions seem so obvious now--the policies that the Communist Parties applied in the world outside of the Soviet Union in order to build positive coalitions to fight Fascism, which entailed less hardline beliefs, were the same policies that people inside the Soviet Union in the '30s were being executed for having supported. The United Front did a lot of good in that the relaxation of hardline dogma and the effort to genuinely reach out to people produced a lot of good initiatives that actually helped real people, but when Stalin no longer needed aid in fighting Fascism he essentially canceled the program and went back to policies on the international scene that had been current within the Soviet Union all along. During the United Front, when folks were recruited who weren't completely pro-Stalin and hardcore about it, there was a campaign to prevent folks who were in international Communist Parties from finding out the truth about what was going on in the Soviet Union at the time. People believed it most likely because they saw the work that was actually going on around them, saw that it was productive, and didn't want to believe that they were part of something that could be committing atrocities like Stalin was doing. Once Stalin had died and Khruschev read his "Secret Speech" the last vestiges of deniability faded away and lots of people, in the U.S. and possibly elsewhere, left the Party, upset that they'd been tricked into supporting this.

But signs of what was actually going on, on top of being present during the '30s themselves, were also available in how Stalin, and then Mao, behaved in the post-World War II world. So-called "Popular Front" governments were installed in occupied Eastern and Central Europe, that then staged "popular uprisings" which lead to the adoption of an orthodox Soviet system of economy and government, of course in reality being coups engineered by the Soviet Union under the guise of popular action. In Mao's case, it turns out that little by little, or campaign by campaign, the promises that the Chinese Communist Party too gave to cooperation and coalition government in a modified Soviet system were betrayed, leading to the establishment of a hardline Soviet state in the post-war world, when Stalin was still alive.

In the U.S., Earl Browder, the very successful promoter of the general idea of a popular front, was kicked out as head of the Communist Party, ostensibly because of controversy kicked up by a hostile letter in the international Communist community generated by a member of the French Communist Party but more likely under orders of Stalin. He was replaced by a series of hardline, stupid, apparatchniks.

All of this shift, the huge difference between the policies stated by the Communist Party in the United States and the policies that were enacted after the war, fueled the idea in the U.S. that the Communists were really liars who wanted to secretly overthrow the government while saying that they were for cooperation. The events in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere were cited as well, although off the top of my head I don't remember just where I read the citation, etc.., so can't cite their cite myself. It wasn't just because of the popular front that the red scare happened, not by any means, but it provided fuel for the fire. William Z. Foster's very clumsy and not that intelligent or sophisticated book "Towards Soviet America", which was written before the liberalization of the Party, was reprinted by a conservative book club as proof about what the Communists supposedly really meant and were concealing.
"The Book the Communists Wanted to Destroy" was the subtitle of their edition. No, actually, it wasn't a smoking gun, but they made it out to be one.

Stalin of course gave the OK for Kim Il Sung to invade Korea, with a report (again, I don't have the cite), saying that this was under Kim Il Sung's initiative, not Stalin's, and that the Soviet Union only gave permission and some small support, with China, a client state at that time, giving direct military support. It can be inferred that if the hardliners had staid in power after Stalin's death that fights like Korea would have become the norm, and would have given at least some credence to some of the Cold War anti-Communist fears, but history evolved otherwise. Khruschev reversed many of Stalin's policies, dismantled the gulag system, liberalized the media, and backed off from a goal of directly using Soviet military power to spread socialism. Even after he was gone and Brezhnev came to power, the tide wasn't turned back. So the classical idea of the Cold War was not in fact in existence for all of the post-Stalin era, even though relationships between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world rose and fell in terms of hostility.

In the end, the folks who wanted to help people in a more moderate way were betrayed, many people's lives were crushed by the Red Scare, and the Cold War itself became a more theoretical construct removed from reality than anything else. Who on the Left exactly won from this?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I support Ted Rall

As Rall says on his blog, there's a double standard here between Republicans and Democrats. Glenn Beck has basically been calling for Revolution both in his books and on his show for months and months. Rall isn't doing anything really different. The only difference, if there is one, besides the ideology, is that Rall lays it out instead of hiding behind weasel words and rhetoric designed to give plausible deniability. And, although I haven't read the book, it most likely is more cogent and better argued.

Monday, November 08, 2010

...and the rich hire people to help their children cheat:"Homework Helpers Help Focus Students' Attention" from the NYTimes


"If a student finds French grammar or algebra incomprehensible, a tutor in those subjects can help. But if the problem is a child who will not budge from the Xbox, or pens doodles instead of topic sentences, some harried parents with cash to spare have been turning to homework helpers who teach organizational skills and time management, or who sometimes just sit there until the work is finished.

As schools have piled on expectations and as career paths have sucked in both mothers and fathers, this niche industry is catering to “students who are capable of doing the work” but “need someone there who can just be there with them to consistently do the work in a regular manner,” said Mike Wallach, who along with Ms. Kraglievich runs the service Central Park Tutors. "

So let me get this straight....they're not just private tutors, i.e. people who give the kids educational advantages that most other kids couldn't dream of, but they're there to help little ones succeed who through either their own laziness, stupidity, or bad upbringing would otherwise not rise to the top of the class?

Wouldn't it be great for people with less money to get even half of the help that these overprivileged youngsters get.

How about this? If you're not motivated and aren't able to do well in school, don't go to college. Instead, get a vocational job, and let someone else who cares take your place. But that's not going to happen anytime soon for any kid who grows up on the Upper West Side, now, is it? Instead, they'll be pampered, with lipstick put on the pig, in order to preserve status that they don't really deserve.

And Obama commences his "Send our jobs to India" tour

Because free trade is still a good thing, despite our economic situation and despite the fact that trade with India is one way. I mean, the Indian President said that companies were investing in "Infrastructure" in India, which is code for factories, and Obama is taking the tour with 250 business leaders from the U.S. They aren't looking for a market for the millions of Indians who make less in a year than many U.S. citizens make in a month, they're looking for cheap labor so that they can fuck over American workers even harder than they're already being fucked. Thanks.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Now the battle lines have been drawn--the November election

Pretty clearly. Corporate money and xenophobia on one side, democracy and the interests of the people on the other. It'll be an entertaining series of years, since there's no ambiguity to it anymore. The process that started with the judicial coup of Bush v. Gore has now come to a close and we'll now truly get the country that we fight for. What this means is that corporate Democrats are gone, Clintonist centrism has lost, and the idea of moderate Republicans, already pretty battered, has mostly disappeared. The ones who now survive are pretty much just open corporate shills. So you have Progressives (and some liberals) on one side, corporate shills and über patriotic xenophobes on the other. It's going to be like shooting fish in a barrel to plan and strategize in these upcoming years. Which side will you be on?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dilma Rousseff

Good person. Good fighter. Glad that she's president of Brazil.

Monday, November 01, 2010

And Jon Stewart does implicitly tell Progressives to fuck off at the Sanity Rally

Because, like, it's all the press. All of the strife in the U.S., the division, is just the press feeding the flames. We should just hug one another when we see people holding signs talking about the Tree of Liberty having to be watered with blood at Obama rallies. Sorry Jon, it's not "The Press" over reacting, it's Fox News pushing its own agenda. MSNBC and others are bit players compared to Rupert Murdoch. Fox had a large part in creating the Tea Party movement and actively stokes it while donating millions to Republican politicians. MSNBC did not create the Progressive movement. Maybe people are experiencing 'strife' because there are actual contentious issues involved, not because they're collectively overreacting. Maybe strife in this sense is good and we need more, not less, in order to bring this country to some sort of clear sense of where it stands in the world, instead of having it be implicitly conservative while having a liberal veneer, which was the case before the round of Progressive activism that started with the 2000 election and that went on from there. Or don't you remember, say, 9/11, or George W. Bush, or the insane patriotism that started then? You criticized Bush daily, pointed out that the Democrats were doing nothing similar, and now that Obama's in office you suddenly call for understanding and reconciliation between liberals and folks who you spent years criticizing? I guess having a Democrat in office does matter in that it makes people who were previously engaged spineless and complacent.

From "Democracy Now!"

" The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker, and perhaps eczema. And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly, good—because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a funhouse mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an [bleep] shaped like a month-old pumpkin and one eyeball. So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin-[bleep] forehead eyeball monster?

If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. But the truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us, while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things every day that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make. [...]"