Saturday, November 27, 2010

Context

Hardly a day goes by without the demagogues in the American right-wing attacking Obama for being different from ordinary Americans, or characterized as having a different set of beliefs or being foreign born or some such rot. It's a testament to the failure of the various media that they allow themselves to be used to propagate this slander and thinly veiled racism all the while pretending that it's being done in the name of "balance."

Always included as part of the narrative is Obama's relationship with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. There are a litany of quotes taken from a post 9/11 sermon that are always served up as "proof" that Obama was listening to anti-American screeds all these years and hence must be anti-American too. It is of course absurd on its' face but as far as media narratives go that doesn't prevent it from continuously being spread to the unquestioning viewing and hate-radio listening public.

Back when this story broke and the right-wing media were playing those selected clips around the clock I went looking for and found the entire sermon which I played on my radio show several times to put context to the oft repeated sound-bites being played. Interestingly, the sermon was not anti-American at all. It was a presentation of the American foreign policies he believed led to the attack and the folly of seeking revenge. The most controversial statements in the sermon do not belong to Reverend Wright but are him repeating what former US Ambassador Edward Peck had said while being interviewed on the Fox network -- save the phrase "America's chickens are coming home to roost," which was an embellishment of the part of the Reverend.

In some circles these ideas may be somewhat controversial but certainly not in all and so I've wanted to post the video for some time but the full video is no longer available but I did find a ten minute snippet which indeed does put enough context to put the lie to Obama's pastor was a radical anti-American. It's a speech delivered with passion and a certain amount of flair which I do not believe is that uncommon in a lot of American churches. Have a listen and please tell me what you think.

More War Stuff!

Snow on the ground here in Montreal and there's a pleasant quiet in the house and on the surrounding streets. A good time to sit down and read my favourite Globe and Mail writer Gerald Caplan, who yesterday was talking about Canada enlisting in America's forever war -- something I've written a considerable amount about here at NMP. It's somewhat gratifying to read in Canada's MSM an opinion that reflects what I see for Canada in the Afghanistan quagmire. I'm okay with being a dirty leftist hippie but now and then I do want to believe that it's not just myself and Canada's progressive blogosphere that sees this war for what it is, an enormous waste of blood and treasure and worse, possibly unending.

 Mr. Caplan does what he can to put the US's military spending in some sort of perspective -- it's approximately the equal of the rest of the world's --  and then with tongue in cheek explains why the whole world should be grateful that in the name of peace the US has ...fought more wars, invaded more countries, supported more tyrants, sponsored more coups, trained and funded more foreign armies, and enabled more massacres than any other country in history. He also chronicles their long history of interventionist wars around the world that are arguably immoral, illegal, imperialistic and unarguably  murderous. And then wonders why Stephen Harper has embraced this American crusade that maintains about 1,000 military bases in 130 countries, and continues military aid to four nations who are known to use child soldiers in their armies.

It's a good read and one wonders, like always, is anyone listening?

 So while we're discussing the war it is notable that the US is shrugging off Afghan anger at civilian killings. They're just being ungrateful and have no appreciation for the freedom the US and NATO forces are bringing them. The US denies the allegation of such killings, but admitted that they don’t both the investigate the vast majority of the complaints because they assume them to be “Taliban propaganda.” The commander of the Marines is the district says that the Taliban are to blame for “every single instance” of a civilian casualty in the district. In direct contradiction to such claims by the US, airstrikes are the single largest cause of civilian deaths by foreign and Afghan government forces during the first half of 2010, accounting for 31 percent, said the U.N..

US envoys are being forced to apologize in advance of the upcoming WikiLeaks document dump that promises to be an embarrassment to the US and the Pentagon is being described as "hyperventilating over being held to account" for its actions. According to the Independent, "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public." A thought to which I have a one word response, Good!

Of course as always the US is claiming that the release will put lives in danger -- I think it'll put politicians careers in danger. The US's unending war efforts are what puts lives in danger. Shining a light on what they're up to is merely holding the accountable for their actions. Something there needs to be more of.

Politically Canuck Blogging

Norman Spector believes that if the NDP want Canadians to hear what they have to say, they should get the hell out of Ottawa. This would be sage advice for the Liberals as well. None of the opposition parties messaging seems to rise above the din and in some cases goes unreported. What else is wrong with the Liberals? Funny you should ask 'cause Robert Silver has an idea or two and links to three articles that all beg the question  "what is wrong with the Liberals?" I disagree with them all -- I think a modicum of spine would go a long way. I'm also starting to think liberals should stop being willing to compromise until after we've seen real change. Does that make me shrill?

 Word is Iggy doesn't mind his junk being touched in airport screenings -- it may be because he's a bit numb there after two steady years of being kicked in the nads by the Conservatives.

The smell of corruption wafts in our general direction from Ottawa but so far we've only one man's word. Mustn't jump to conclusions -- except of course the opposition Liberals did. Good theatre perhaps but lousy politics if there turns out there's no corroborating evidence. There was a run on a B.C. mining stock that has prompted securities investigators to see if there was a leak of confidential information from inside the government that triggered the sell-off.

Corruption does seem to be rife in Quebec where Charest survived a non-confidence vote this week.

A holy crap! moment brought to you by four fascist members of the Ottawa police force who kicked, then forced a woman to the ground and then strip-searched her after she was arrested on Rideau Street for public intoxication — a charge stayed by Justice Richard Lajoie of the Ontario Court of Justice in a verbal ruling issued Oct. 27. Lajoie ruled that while the accused had been drinking when she was arrested, there was "no evidence that Ms. Bonds was a threat to herself or anyone else" and so there was no grounds to detain her.

Jack Layton wants to see wealthy tax cheats pay their fair share. Stephen Harper's friends probably won't be very amenable.

The Conservatives believe what the country needs is a PR campaign to sell Canada on their $16 billion dollar sole-sourced purchase of F-35 jets that Canada doesn't need as much as it needs improvements to health care. But why should Stephen care? He can always turn to the Senate to get his way.

Global Warming Blogging

Have been off for a couple of days but wanted to return with the important stories that I covered on the radio show that really have gotten little MSM coverage. Starting with what should be a huge story so far as global warming is concerned but so far has received very little coverage in the media, Antarctic waters are warming and a citadel of ice is melting. It's completely remarkable when you consider that the fringes of the world's coldest continent are warming faster virtually than any place on earth. This represents what is essentially the first breech in an area that holds 90% of the world's ice. Steady warming has the potential to raise ocean sea levels many feet.

The question now, as humanity pours greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate, is not whether Antarctica will begin to warm in earnest, but how rapidly.Here's a link to the indispensable Climate Progress's pretty thorough wrap on global warming and green energy news that includes stories about how the World Bank has been talking about focusing its support on clean energy projects, the UK is negotiating a central role for business at the Cancun climate summit next week, hybrid tugboats, an organic farming system geared for homeowners, schools, restaurants and commercial growers, optimizing wind farms, China hitting their energy efficiency and pollution targets and at the cost of one Tim Horton's donut per month Ontario's solar PV industry will have created 72,000 person-years of jobs.

The people at Motor Trend take on the hate-mongering, drug addicted blowhard Limbaugh over his uninformed stance on the new Chevy Volt and remind him that driving and Oxycontin don't mix! Interestingly the Globe and Mail disagrees with Motor Trend's choice for car of the year but for entirely different reasons than Rush.