Sunday, December 18, 2011

Indefinite Detention

I really don't understand why there haven't been riots or demonstrations or front-page editorials protesting or at least marking the end of the United States as we know it. Yes, our Constitution has been slipping away for awhile, but now it seems to be truly a dead letter. It's now legally possible, apparently, for the authorities to detain someone, even a US citizen, forever, without due process. Doesn't that pretty much put paid to any protection the Founding Fathers meant us to have? If someone drops down this rabbit hole, will anyone even know it? Will that person be able to bring a case to the Supreme Court? What will the Court do? I am completely desolate and sick at heart. Is anyone else?

We now LIVE IN A POLICE STATE. It's official. (Well, I live in Mexico, but many people that I love live in the US and it is my native land.) It's no joke. It's serious. I want to scream and rant, but business seems to go on as usual. In the NY Times, other subjects are discussed, as if they mattered. Don't they get it? The state now has the power to take them away, on a whim--oh, if they are associated with someone who is suspected of being a terrorist. Oh I forgot, there does have to be some rationale. But what arm of government could not invent that?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The New Inquiry and The Whine

Leaving aside the fact that The Times didn't provide a hyperlink to The New Inquiry (a journal produced by sadly but unsurprisingly out-of-work young literati), and in fact ran the story in the Fashion section, I am still somewhat appalled by the repeat appearance of The Whine from one of their (The New Inquiry's) editors: "I did everything right...." etcetera etcetera. Since when does doing everything right mean you will get the brass ring? This attitude seems to me at this point incredibly jejeune, naive and grossly, excessively innocent coming from a supposedly savvy, well-read crowd. A lot of people do or try to do "everything right" by their lights and get nowhere at all. Why should young, privileged literati be any different? Gosh, no one ever promised you a rose garden, darlings.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Deaths put Focus on Pastor's Advocacy of Spanking

The Times story today, 11/7/11, speaks of three children who were killed, apparently by their parents, all of whom had this pastor's book (which advocates spanking) in their homes. But the details of the abuse the children suffered make it obvious that these parents are total loons and shouldn't have been allowed to have all the children at all (many of them were adopted or fostered). What government authority allows such people to have so many children (clearly natural births cannot be controlled, but adoption or fostering can and should be). According to the story, the pastor's book lays out all sorts of safeguards or at least does not recommend starving children for days or beating them regularly in the sadistic way these "readers" did. I think it's clear that the state is at fault here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coverage of Occupy Wall Street

Well, the Times does cover the protest, in its own little way. It interviews the neighbors, it tells about how the police have arrested protestors for, apparently, no reason at all, but why doesn't it interview politicians to see how (or if) the protests are affecting them. Certain questions seem obvious, "You've seen the polls, [senator, representative, legislator, whoever]--there a lot of support for these protests and people seem to agree with the protestors on a lot of issues. How do you react to that?" It's a beginning. No, the press would prefer to bully the protestors about the absence of clear demands. Well, they've made no secret of what they think is wrong. You can find their original statement on the internet. And doesn't the very name of the protests give you a hint? We are the 99 percent and we'd like some answers. But nobody is giving them.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

memory, nostalgia; the present can also be faked

Reading about Joan Didion's new book Blue Nights in the Times. It sounds utterly heartbreaking and I don't believe she doesn't cry anymore when she hears her daughter's name. She and John Gregory Dunne had the same post-christening lunch for Quintana Roo as we had for Nicholas--watercress sandwiches and champagne--although as I recall ours was on 81st Street, not in the country somewhere, as was theirs. Of course it was--the christening was at All Souls on Lexington Avenue.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Death by drone not due process

From the Times today:
'An American drone attack killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a preacher born in the United States and a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s outpost in Yemen, on Friday morning, officials in Washington and Yemen confirmed." blah blah blah. Yeah he was born in the US. Does that, uh, make him a citizen? Duh. I think so. So now the government of the US kills its own citizens without due process, a detail one would have thought our constitutional law "professor" president might have recoiled from. Silly to think so obviously. Silly Us.

At least all those people executed in Texas and other US states did get due process, appeals, the works. Terrorism of course makes it all academic...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What A Liar!

JTA News Alert 9/18: "The U.N. is not a place where Israel wins praise, but I think that it is important that I go there in order to represent both the State of Israel and the truth -- and the truth is that Israel wants peace and the truth is that the Palestinians are doing everything to torpedo direct peace negotiations," Netanyahu said Sunday.

This is simply Newspeak or maybe Alice in Wonderland. What is he thinking?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yet another drug war letter to the Times

In regard to Desperate Guatemalans Embrace An Iron Fist in the Times today, I wonder if anyone in our Government ever acknowledges the culpability of the US in these horrible drug wars--specifically the insatiable demand for drugs in the US--and thinks about why that could be and tries to figure out how our society could be improved so people don't have to drug themselves into oblivion. Rather than warring on drugs, let's war on the root causes. Maybe we're not sure what those are, but surely making it a fairer, kinder society would help. Our Congress, our executive branch, everything conspires to be a model of greed and unfairness. People lead hard lives, untempered by decency from their elected leaders, who seem to confine themselves to egocentric posturing. I guess drugs are the only surcease for a lot of people.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

After Riots, British Wonder Why, Can't Decide on Answer

Isn't it blazingly clear that we all live in a culture of impunity? The rich get away with Everything, why wouldn't everyone else instinctively try for that when they have a chance? David Cameron gets to be on holiday in Tuscany and doesn't even cut it short at first but there's no hope of ever getting a big TV, or an extra anything, for most people, unless they pay for it every month forever, so of course, take it while you can! Disheartening.


Monday, July 4, 2011

A Summer of Cynicism?

How about a century? The Times has an interesting story on the DSK fiasco--how our reputation has suffered in Europe; how we humiliated an important man, etc. etc. And now we again totally rush to judgement on the woman accusing him (as some of those quoted pointed out, more or less). First, make fun of/convict w/o trial the supposed perp. Second, hear rumors of holes in the accuser's story and convict her w/o trial of making it all up. What difference does it make that she (perhaps) lied in trying to get asylum in the US? He has lied over a lifetime (apparently) about his womanizing. But apparently, for a lot of people, it's a relief to let him off--big fat continental white guy is fine, really, despite a few tiny peccadillos, especially in contest with small unimportant black woman. Oh and suddenly the Times notices that Europe views us as a dangerous country. Well, stop the presses. Here we are, turning the poor and disabled out on the streets rather than raising taxes on the rich--can't even raise our own debt limit, etc. and so on. And we sound dangerous. Well, yeah, I think so.

Monday, May 16, 2011

the Sofitel incident

Well I think it says something nice about New York, that a maid in a hotel with $3,000 a night rooms isn't intimidated by a guest who happens to be the head of the IMF. At least not intimidated enough to allow him to have sex with her, and not too intimidated to report that he forced her. Obviously, from what we're hearing, many women before her, even those with higher status, were intimidated by this creep--none had reported him to the police before this, apparently. So New York's spirit isn't dead at least. Hooray.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And you, President Obama?

"I want the American people to know that the use of force
is not our first choice, and it's not a choice that I make
lightly. But we can't stand idly by when a tyrant tells
his people that there will be no mercy." PRESIDENT OBAMA,
on the American decision to use military force against Col.
Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya.

But Obama too is a tyrant. Does he think he was elected king? I think Bradley Manning is also one of our people and you show no mercy to him, despite his not being tried yet. Held in jail for months and tortured--that's the way a tyrant acts. That's YOU.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

According to the Times (3/13)...

"The Environmental Protection Agency says that everyone in the United States is exposed to very small amounts of cesium-137 in soil and water because of atmospheric fallout from the nuclear detonations of the cold war."

Remember those? We've all been lulled into such ridiculous complacency that we actually build nuclear plants--on purpose--"for peaceful uses." Fool me once, shame on you; fool me countless numbers of time, over and over in the most outrageous ways, not only shame on me--also total vulnerability and insanity. I feel like Cunegonde, not to mention Candide. Voltaire knew it all. The government, the nuclear agencies, the scientists (presumably in the pay of certain industrialists)--all Dr. Pangloss. And all totally successful at pulling the wool over our eyes again and again.

First you kill and sicken millions in Japan, where the first nuclear bombs are dropped, and THEN THEY AGREE TO HAVE NUCLEAR PLANTS IN THEIR MIDST? It's just really hard to believe how idiotic human beings can be.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The treatment of Bradley Manning

This is a total disgrace. The Army is making Mr. Manning spend every night (and every morning inspection) stark naked... as a precaution against suicide, they say. Hollow laughter. As someone on Glenn Greenwald's blog said, "using suicide prevention to drive someone insane...". This young man, convicted of nothing,is being treated in this inhuman manner with the silent approval of Barack Obama! I voted for him. Never again. As far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with his dream of "not pissing off rich people." This is sheer cruelty in aid of making sure that no one ever attempts to tell government secrets again. That way the government can behave with impunity on every front, just as they do now, but with no fear at all of being shown up. I am so utterly horrified that Obama could allow such a thing to happen...

As blogger ioz says: A thing to remember about tyranny is that it is always absurd; as it becomes more cruel, it becomes more ridiculous.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Here are the products the Koch Brothers make money on

Angel Soft toilet paper
Brawny paper towels
Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
Mardi Gras napkins and towels
Quilted Northern toilet paper
Soft 'n Gentle toilet paper
Sparkle napkins
Vanity fair napkins
Zee napkins
Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes
All Georgia-Pacific lumber and building products, including:
Dense Armor Drywall and Decking
ToughArmor Gypsum board
Georgia pacific Plytanium Plywood
Densglass sheathing
G/P Industrial plasters (some products used by a lot of crafters)
FibreStrong Rim board
G/P Lam board
Blue Ribbon OSB Rated Sheathing
Blue Ribbon Sub-floor
DryGuard Enhanced OSB
Nautilus Wall Sheathing
Thermostat OSB Radiant Barrier Sheathing
Broadspan Engineered Wood Products
XJ 85 I-Joists
FireDefender Banded Cores
FireDefender FS
FireDefender Mineral Core
Hardboard and Thin MDF including Auto Hardboard,
Perforated Hardboard and Thin MDF
Wood Fiberboard
Commercial Roof Fiberboard
Hushboard Sound Deadening Board
Regular Fiberboard Sheathing
Structural Fiberboard Sheathing

(INVISTA Products):
COMFOREL® fiberfill
COOLMAX® fabric
CORDURA® fabric
DACRON® fiber
SOLARMAX® fabric
SOMERELLE® bedding products
SUPPLEX® fabric
TACTEL® fiber
TACTESSE® carpet fiber
TERATE® polyols
TERATHANE® polyether glycol
PHENREZ® resin
POLARGUARD® fiber and
LYCRA® fiber

Sunday, February 27, 2011

comment on today's Frank Rich column from Marie Burns of Ft. Meyers, Florida

President Obama will not tell the American people what's at stake in the budget. None of us knows what his true ideology is. None of us knows how he would govern if we had a parliamentary system in which the leader of the government can pretty much govern as he wishes.

But we do know this: Prime Minister Obama would not govern as a progressive. All that progressive talk during the campaign was a vote-currying deception. Mr. Obama campaigned the way Republicans always campaign: by pretending his goals were markedly different from what they really were.

Obama perfectly followed the Republican playbook in 2008: he pretended to be a progressive who would right the wrongs of eight years of Republican rule. But when he got in the White House, he suddenly turned into a conservative who engineered a "stimulus" package that was largely Republican-style tax cuts, a healthcare law that was nearly identical to one Republicans proposed in the 20th century (& which also included the individual mandate, BTW), & a financial reform package that lets the banksters do what they want.

If you think I'm exaggerating, let's look at something that's more simple and straightforward than a complex budget or those huge laws that Obama signed into law during his first two years in office: Here's President Obama in a campaign stump speech he made in the fall of 2007 in South Carolina:

"If American workers are being denied their right to organize & collectively bargain, when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a pair of comfortable shoes myself, I'll walk on that picket line with you...."

Today, Republican governors in several states are attacking collective bargaining rights. Obama made one statement -- and then only in response to a reporter's question -- in which he said of the Wisconsin bill, "it appears to be an assault on unions." President Obama's comfortable shoes are nowhere to be seen. Reporters have repeatedly questioned Obama's press secretary Jay Carney about Obama's campaign promise, and Carney has dutifully obfuscated with responses like (this is not an exact quote) "People know where the President stands." Yeah, we know this: he's not standing in Wisconsin or Ohio or Indiana.

Similarly, ever since budget season has been upon us, President Obama is playing a Republican president. He has repeatedly told the American people that the government must act the way families do during financial difficulties -- the government must live within its means. That's a line straight out of the Contract on America. Never mind that politicians since Alexander Hamilton -- you know, one of the fathers of the Constitution -- have said that federal deficits are a good thing. And where has President Obama been campaigning? At corporation after corporation where he has said we can "win the future" (you know the acronym for that) by giving tax breaks to small businesses so they can innovate. Not Word One about funding prenatal care or healthcare legislation or the EPA. Not Word One. Instead, he has given government workers an effective five-year pay cut by freezing their wages even as the rising price of essential commodities (like grain & cotton) have soared, guaranteeing that prices of food and clothing will rise. He has also presented a budget that will cut home-heating assistance to poor families & Pell grants to college students. Hope you're not too cold while you're staying home from college.

Scott Walker made a "fireside" address the other day in which he expressed his respect for unions. ("I really do," he emphasized.) Relying on President Obama to tell the American people the truth about what's in that noxious House budget is like relying on Scott Walker to tell you how much he loves unions:

Not. Going. to. Happen.

The Constant Weader at

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beaches! Ceviches! Coctels! Margaritas!

Here I am, departing from my usual slathering politicism, to praise beaches and ceviches and the like, which right now are all we know and all we need to know. The wonders of a week at the beach--pulpo, tuna, gorditas, steep steps down to the beautiful sand (no steep steps up because... there's Anado and Richard with the car! The market in Zihaut filled with beautiful fishes--the best is at Rosita's--tuna at $7 a kilo (mas o menos), shrimp shelled right there before your eyes, resulting in Richard's lovely fish stew with coconut milk, followed (in a day) by Hane's Korean pancakes and many other goodies. The food at Amuleto (where we ate twice) just like the food described by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker--sweet and sour layered together in a most inventive way. Days on the beach in Troncones, drinks at Precious Moment, tacos at Doña Nica, secret topes, the lot.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My letter to The Times today

How Many Deaths Are Enough, Bob Herbert's column today, covers most aspects of the death-ridden US gun culture. But one aspect is left unsaid--your coverage of Mexico's drug wars. I think it's pretty clear, from the statistics Mr. Herbert cites, that the US death toll is much, much higher than Mexico's. And Mexico's death toll is more or less confined to a particular subculture, which does not usually include college students or innocent bystanders, and to particular areas of the country. Yet Mexico's body count is a frequent feature in your pages and in the rest of the press, while it takes a massacre (which can happen and has happened anywhere in the country) to secure coverage for gun deaths in the US. Maybe if the US passes a few laws, it can get its gun-death statistics down to where Mexico's are.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Arizona Shooter held in same conditions as Bradley Manning

"According to an official familiar with the prison, Mr. Loughner, who federal records say is registered as inmate No. 15213-196, is being held in “segregation” for his own protection. Prisoners in segregation are closely monitored, the official said, and generally spend 23 hours of the day alone in their cells and have an hour or so a day for exercise and showering."

Is it right that the accused Wikileaks leaker be held in the same conditions as this man who killed and seriously wounded all those people? He after all really does have blood on his hands. I'm not suggesting he be punished further before trial. I'm suggested that the conditions Manning is held in are outrageously draconian for the crime he's accused of.