Israel playing with a fire it expects the U.S. to put out

by Gareth Porter

Reuel Marc Gerecht’s screed justifying an Israeli bombing attack on Iran coincides with the opening of the new Israel lobby campaign marked by the introduction of House resolution 1553 expressing full support for such an Israeli attack.

What is important to understand about this campaign is that the aim of Gerecht and of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is to support an attack by Israel so that the United States can be drawn into direct, full-scale war with Iran.

That has long been the Israeli strategy for Iran, because Israel cannot fight a war with Iran without full U.S. involvement. Israel needs to know that the United States will finish the war that Israel wants to start.  Continue reading

What's a nice little gringa like me doing at a protest like this? A white middle-class suburbanite's manifesto

by Pollyanna Sunshine

I have been thinking about this question a lot the past couple of days, due to the reactions I’ve been getting from family members and old friends and colleagues who are not quite sure why I’m suddenly getting worked up enough about SB 1070 to take to the streets–even though they all agree that it’s a bull$#!+ racist law, and a few of them marched in the big rally back in June, which I missed because I was out of town—because neither I nor any of my middle-class English-speaking citizen and permanent resident and legal guest worker friends and family are at any risk of deportation, although some are definitely at risk of getting pulled over by the deputies for Driving While Brown and getting their errands delayed for however long it takes the cops to run their plates and AZ driver’s licenses through the system. Continue reading

The best class I have ever taken: HIST143, the History of Fascism and Nazism

In the spring of 1994, I was a junior studying electrical engineering at Penn State. I had two general education credits left if I was going to graduate in four years, but I figured that it was time to try and sign up for HIST143, The History of Fascism and Nazism, taught by Jackson J. Spielvogel. It was one of the most popular classes on campus, taught by a professor whom I’d heard literally brought Fascism and Nazisim to life in the classroom. But because it was so popular, it was hard to get into, and upperclassmen always had the advantage.

I got lucky, and as a result my life was changed in ways that I am still discovering 16 years later. Continue reading

The Shrinking Middle

The Financial Times weekend edition has a good magazine section that generally doesn’t make it into the US edition. Which is too bad, because US readers will miss Ed Luce’s very good piece today on the long term decline of America’s middle class. The FT has probably done the best job of any newspaper in chronicling the increasing disparities of American economic life, and Luce, who is the Washington editor, does a pretty good job of discussing the problematic outlooks for two American families, one in Minnesota, and one in Virginia. It’s the usual combination of two-earner incomes, barely adequate (or inadequate) medical care, basically living from paycheck to paycheck, and a bleak retirement outlook. Anyone paying attention knows all this, of course, except for Republicans in denial, and the vast number of British I keep encountering who believe that everything is just fine in America, and who can’t wait to try to move there. Usually this means trying to retire in Orlando, by the way—there’s definitely a thing here for Orlando.
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The kid's all right

Like everyone else, I have mixed feelings about the Clintons. The ambition, the self-absorption, the whole lot. I suppose if Hilary were president, things wouldn’t be that different from what they are now, although we would undoubtedly be stuck with the odious Mark Penn. But in one very important respect they shine: Chelsea. She’s a brick. The Clintons seem to have pulled off an astonishing feat—they seem to be great parents. Given the fishbowl existence Chelsea has endured her whole life, she seems to have turned out just fine. From being that geeky kid that Saturday Night Live made fun of, to that picture of the three Clintons walking across the White House lawn after Monicagate, with Chelsea in the middle, holding both her parents’ hands, to becoming a real person of some accomplishment in her own right, this has been some journey. And she’s getting married today, I gather. Good for her. Congratulations all around.

I voted for killing women and children

I never found much point in shouting “Bush’s War”. Maybe i take the whole Constitutional Republic thing too seriously, but i will argue until the end of time that both Afghanistan and Iraq are our wars. We elected the jackass. We reelected the jackass. And the Democratic Party never lifted a finger to stop any of his jackassery. I’ve argued publicly and in private that each and every American of voting age by Oct. 2001 should be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. And i mean it.

Still, i could also make a reasonable argument that what was done in my name was done against my will. I didn’t vote for Bush. I didn’t vote for the vast majority of the asshats in Congress either. Now i have to accept a much more personal responsibility for every drone strike and torture coverup.
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The Colorado Crusading Rockies: why is the club's religious mandate such a huge secret in its own hometown?

Here in a few weeks my company is taking all the employees to a Colorado Rockies game. All of us except me, that is – I’ll be begging off for reasons that I feel like I’ve hashed through a million times. I will no doubt be afforded several more chances to explain why I refuse to patronize the Rox as the big day approaches.

Short version: the Colorado Rockies are an evangelical Christian organization that, if I take them at their word, appear to discriminate (as a fundamental operating philosophy that I can only assume includes personnel decisions, both on-field and in the front office) on the basis of religion. I first wrote about the story shortly after it broke in an August 2006 Lullaby Pit piece on Who Would Jesus Play For? Continue reading

Damon Runyon and Me

I’ve always admired the works of Damon Runyon. Drawing on the people he observed every day in Brooklyn, he created fictional characters that seemed more real than people I really know. There’s even an adjective to describe people who look like the characters in a Damon Runyon story: Runyonesque. I always wanted to be Runyonesque. And when I worked as a newspaper reporter, just as Damon Runyon did, I would have given anything to have heard someone say: “That Hargrove, he’s almost Runyonesque.” I told my wife about this.

“Why do you want to be onionesque?” she asked.

“Not onionesque, Runyonesque. You know, Damon Runyon? The writer?” Continue reading

Arizona's SB 1070: a primer; or "What part of 'illegal' don't YOU understand?"

by Pollyanna Sunshine

While federal Judge Susan Bolton’s injunction on 7/29/10 has blocked implementation of a few of the most Draconian and egregiously unconstitutional provisions of SB 1070, effectively putting them on hold until the relevant cases can work their way through the legal system, the state has already appealed that decision and will be working overtime* to salvage those provisions and to enforce the many parts of the law the judge did not block. Moreover, many key provisions of SB 1070 were not enjoined and are now in effect, as of this morning.

The parts of the law that are now in full force create new categories of illegality and/or increase punishments not just for actual undocumented immigrants but for all Arizona residents or authorized visitors from elsewhere, for any of a very large number of things that were perfectly legal in Arizona yesterday and remain perfectly legal in most other US states.

So, for any of you folks out there who

  1. are thinking that Judge Bolton has saved the day, or Continue reading

Injunction or no, the s#!+ just hit the fan in the state of Arizona today!

by Pollyanna Sunshine

Many people across the nation and a heck of a lot of folks in Arizona who are celebrating (or lamenting) Judge Susan Bolton’s decision today seem to be under the impression that SB 1070 is now dead or at least on hold until the relevant cases have a fair chance to work their way through the court system.  At the planning meetings I attended yesterday, organizers (including several of the lawyers and individually named plaintiffs in the cases Bolton just reviewed) were really worried that this was going to lull people into submission and make potential protesters and the national news media lose interest, even as state and local law enforcement agencies are gearing up to crack down hard on seeking out and prosecuting any possible violation of state or federal immigration and employment laws. Continue reading

Final CRU email review considers, overwhelmingly rejects critics’ accusations of misconduct

As a result of the unauthorized publication of nearly 1100 private emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in November, 2009, five separate inquiries were empaneled to look into whether or not the CRU researchers had committed research misconduct, broke Freedom of Information laws, or inappropriately biased the results of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) published in 2007. All four of the other reviews, two by Pennsylvania State University, one by the UK Parliament House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and one by Lord Oxburgh of the Royal Society, concluded that the CRU scientists had not engaged in either scientific misconduct or the manipulation of the peer review process, although one inquiry found that the scientists hadn’t been as open with their data and methodologies as they should have been.

The last of the five reviews, the Independent Climate Change Email Review (ICCER), published its findings on July 7, 2010. In general terms, the ICCER found that the CRU scientists’ “rigor and honesty” were not in doubt and that there was no “evidence of behavior that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.” However, the ICCER found that there was a “consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness” with respect to sharing data. These broad conclusions largely agree with the conclusions of all four of the other inquiries. Continue reading

S&R asks: have you given up on voting yet?

The Scrogues – a fair percentage of them anyway – had a lively conversation recently. Though not a consensus, the “we’re fucked and it really doesn’t matter” contingent beat the (nonexistent) “the Dems will fix it if we just elect enough of them” contingent like the tortoise trounced Achilles. I know, sad. Where’d all the hope go?

I haven’t given up on voting, but it’s not because i believe in the Democrats…and i’ve never believed in the Republicans.

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SB 1070 Implementation Day: a view from the front lines in Arizona

by Pollyanna Sunshine

In her Tuesday column in the Arizona Republic website, columnist Laurie Roberts noted that

We are now less than 48 hours until Senate Bill 1070 becomes the law of the state – unless, of course, Judge Susan Bolton nixes the whole thing. . . Already, the barricades are up at the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse . . .  Busloads of folks will be coming in from California to join with Arizona opponents of the new law.

[Ed. Note: Judge Bolton issued an injunction against key portions of the law this afternoon.]

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious immigrant-hater who has for many years been violating the civil and human rights of  citizens and non-citizens alike, has just drawn his own line in the sand.

Thousands of people will reportedly descend upon Maricopa County this week in support of or in protest to SB1070.  Continue reading

Looking for work? Job ad of the day

Now this, this sounds like a great place to work. (I’ll post the entire text of the ad a) in case it disappears, and b) because it seems to be posted a number of places online.)

TRUTH AND HONESTY
WRITERS AND EDITORS
(East Denver)

Wanted – Editors/Writers To Sift Through 10 Years Of Our Truth And Honesty Writings Into Approximately 500 Different Primary Subject Matters Of Life, After Which We Will Publish “The Truth About ________” Booklets On Each, And Make A Fortune.

Many Positions Open. Successful Candidates Must Excel In Three Personality Traits – Loyalty, Willingness, And Obedience. Continue reading

Are nuclear weapons really more bang for the buck?

“Saudi Arabia’s decision last week to sign a nuclear cooperation pact with France marks a major step forward for a pan-Arab drive toward nuclear power,” reports UPI. “All told, 13 Middle Eastern states, including Egypt, have announced plans — or dusted off old plans — to build nuclear power stations since 2006. All say they have no intention of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. But there is concern that once they’ve mastered the technology they’ll seek to counter Iran’s alleged push to acquire such weapons by doing so themselves.”

How is it that when a state ponders going nuclear, it always seems to find the money? It’s true that it takes advantage of a tendency on the part of its citizens to: 1. agree that no expense be spared when it comes to defense and 2. take national pride in a nuclear energy program (even more so in a nuclear weapons program). Or is that embarking on nuclear weapons program isn’t as expensive as one would think? Continue reading

Katrina +5: a dispatch from New Orleans

I knew that I would have a lot of free time on my hands during my 5 days in New Orleans (my husband, John, and his team made the bridge Grand Nationals, and the games run from 1 PM to 11 PM daily).  So I decided to find an organization to volunteer with while in town.  Many people and groups are still doing recovery work and the city still needs a lot of help.  There are hundreds of houses still in post-Katrina condition.  Then there are the houses that were restored and now need to be gutted and rehabbed all over again.  That’s the kind of project to which I was assigned.

Back in May, I began searching for a volunteer organization that could use me for a couple of days.  I found a website called “HandsOn New Orleans” that coordinates with a number of local organizations.  Through that site, I found Beacon of Hope, a local group that has a number of restoration projects going in different parts of town, including the Ninth Ward, Gentilly, and St. Bernard. Continue reading