LINES OF THE DAY

". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Garbage From Obama

Every farkin' politician plays this very tired Cuba card to show how tough s/he is on something-or-other without ever having to do a damned thing. I hate them all.

Our Main Goal: Freedom for Cuba?

Why the fark isn't he talking about restoring freedom to the U.S.A.?

What farkin' lazy, cowardly hypocritical, shallow bu!!shyte.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Against Torture - Society for Enthnomusicology

http://webdb.iu.edu/sem/scripts/aboutus/aboutsem/positionstatements/position_statement_torture.cfmPosition

Statement on Torture (February 2, 2007)

On behalf of the Society for Ethnomusicology the SEM Board of Directors approves the Position Statement against the Use of Music as Torture, which originated in the SEM Ethics Committee and has the unanimous support of the Board of Directors.

The Society for Ethnomusicology condemns the use of torture in any form. An international scholarly society founded in 1955, the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) and its members are devoted to the research, study, and performance of music in all historical periods and cultural contexts.

The SEM is committed to the ethical uses of music to further human understanding and to uphold the highest standards of human rights. The Society is equally committed to drawing critical attention to the abuse of such standards through the unethical uses of music to harm individuals and the societies in which they live. The U.S. government and its military and diplomatic agencies has used music as an instrument of abuse since 2001, particularly through the implementation of programs of torture in both covert and overt detention centers as part of the war on terror.

The Society for Ethnomusicology

a.. calls for full disclosure of U.S. government-sanctioned and funded programs that design the means of delivering music as torture;

b.. condemns the use of music as an instrument of torture; and

c.. demands that the United States government and its agencies cease using music as an instrument of physical and psychological torture.

Suggested link:

For further information on the American history and praxis of using music as an instrument of torture, the Society for Ethnomusicology recommends the following article:

Suzanne Cusick, “Music as Torture, Music as Weapon,” Revista Transcultural de M├║sica/Transcultural Music Review 10 (2006).

http://www.sibetrans.com/trans/trans10/cusick_eng.htm

Revista Transcultural de M├║sicaTranscultural Music Review#10 (2006) ISSN:1697-0101
Music as torture / Music as weapon
Suzanne G. Cusick-

[ Abstract: One of the most startling aspects of musical culture in the post-Cold War United States is the systematic use of music as a weapon of war. First coming to mainstream attention in 1989, when US troops blared loud music in an effort to induce Panamanian president Manuel Norriega’s surrender, the use of “acoustic bombardment” has become standard practice on the battlefields of Iraq, and specifically musical bombardment has joined sensory deprivation and sexual humiliation as among the non-lethal means by which prisoners from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo may be coerced to yield their secrets without violating US law.

The very idea that music could be an instrument of torture confronts us with a novel—and disturbing—perspective on contemporary musicality in the United States. What is it that we in the United States might know about ourselves by contemplating this perspective? What does our government’s use of music in the “war on terror” tell us (and our antagonists) about ourselves?

This paper is a first attempt to understand the military and cultural logics on which the contemporary use of music as a weapon in torture and war is based. After briefly tracing the development of acoustic weapons in the late 20th century, and their deployment at the second battle of Falluja in November, 2004, I summarize what can be known about the theory and practice of using music to torture detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. I contemplate some aspects of late 20th-century musical culture in the civilian US that resonate with the US security community’s conception of music as a weapon, and survey the way musical torture is discussed in the virtual world known as the blogosphere. Finally, I sketch some questions for further research and analysis. ]

The full paper is available at the link above, including citations and references.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Draft - er, um, National Service

Long interview with clownface's war advisor, Lt. General Lute, It's well worth reading, for they talk about the draft, though, Lute clearly was most reluctant to do. Which is what makes this whole interview interesting.

[ You know, given the stress on the military and the concern about these extended deployments for an all-volunteer military, can you foresee, in the future, a return to the draft?

You know, that's a national policy decision point that we have not yet reached, Michele, because the —

But does it make sense militarily?

I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another. Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well. It would be a major policy shift — not actually a military, but a political policy shift to move to some other course. ]

This was also very interesting to hear:

[ How heavy a toll is the war taking on American forces? Do you agree with other military leaders who have expressed worries that U.S. forces are near the breaking point?

As an Army officer, this is a matter of real concern to me. Ultimately, the American army, and any other all-volunteer force, rests with the support and the morale and the willingness to serve demonstrated by our — especially our young men and women in uniform. And I am concerned that those men and women and the families they represent are under stress as a result of repeated deployments.

There's both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families, and ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions. And when the system is under stress, it's right to be concerned about some of the future decisions these young men and women may make. I think our military leaders are right to be focused on that.

There's also a professional and broader strategic argument to this, and that is that when our forces are as engaged as they have been over the last several years, particularly in Iraq, that we're concerned as military professionals that we also keep a very sharp edge honed for other contingencies outside of Iraq.

When military leaders, though, talk about the breaking point, what are they talking about? What's the real worry there?

I think that most who have talked about the stress on the force are concerned that in today's all-volunteer force, especially with the sort of quality individuals that we're interested in attracting to the all-volunteer force, that we're actually competing in the marketplace — in the labor marketplace — for a very narrow slice of high school graduates without records with the law who come to us with a clean bill of health and the potential to serve this country in some very demanding missions.

So when you're competing in that marketplace, I think the concern is that these people are challenged and feel the respect to the nation and feel a calling to something beyond themselves, beyond just a personal calling, and that these things remain in place and, therefore, make the all-volunteer force viable in the long run. ]

Just exactly what is he saying here?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Annual Daily Kos Meetup

The reports are coming out about this year's meetup, with various reactions and judgments and speculations, most focused on the smoke and mirrors of the 2008 pres campaign.

What seems most significant to me, at least, are the reports that the vast majority of attendees were white, male, middle-aged and middle-class.

This is not good. One foresees the same splintering then of the "Netroots" focus, and thus effectiveness, that happened in the 70's with the left: because there was so little room for women and for others than white and male, the women and the other non-white groups splintered off into their own concerns and focus. Thus, focus was never on the essentials of a democratic society: elections + WORTHY CANDIDATES and the development of them; the eyes went off health care entirely, that allowed then, Nixon's and Ehrlichman's plan to move in for corporate profits; the same with education, and thus poverty.

One would hope that after all this time the so-called left, the progressives, etc., would at least have learned the lessons of how women must be at least 50% of the decision-makers.

When they're not, Bad Things happen.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Votescam

The Republican Party's lawyer in California has proposed a ballot initiative that posed the biggest hurdle we've seen yet to getting a Democrat in the White House.

Votescam
by Hendrik Hertzberg
August

[ At first glance, next year’s Presidential election looks like a blowout. But it might not be. Luckily for the incumbent party, neither George W. Bush nor Dick Cheney will be running; indeed, the election of 2008 will be the first since 1952 without a sitting President or Vice-President on the ballot. At the moment, survey research reflects a generic public preference for a Democratic victory next year. Still, despite everything, there are nearly as many polls showing particular Republicans beating particular Democrats as vice versa. So this election could be another close one. If it is, the winner may turn out to have been chosen not on November 4, 2008, but five months earlier, on June 3rd.

Two weeks ago, one of the most important Republican lawyers in Sacramento quietly filed a ballot initiative that would end the practice of granting all fifty-five of California’s electoral votes to the statewide winner. Instead, it would award two of them to the statewide winner and the rest, one by one, to the winner in each congressional district. Nineteen of the fifty-three districts are represented by Republicans, but Bush carried twenty-two districts in 2004. The bottom line is that the initiative, if passed, would spot the Republican ticket something in the neighborhood of twenty electoral votes—votes that it wouldn’t get under the rules prevailing in every other sizable state in the Union.

The Tuesday after the first Monday in June is California’s traditional Primary Day. But it’s not the one that everybody will be paying attention to. Five months ago, the legislature hastily moved the Presidential part up to February 5th, joining a stampede of states hoping to claim a piece of the early-state action previously reserved for Iowa and New Hampshire. June 3rd will be an altogether sleepier, low-turnout affair. There may be a few scattered contests for legislative nominations, but the only statewide items on the ballot will be initiatives. More than two dozen have been filed so far, ranging from a proposal to start a state-run Internet poker site to pay for filling potholes to a redundant slew of anti-gay-marriage measures. Few will make it to the ballot. Many are not even intended to; they’re a feint in some byzantine negotiation, or just a cheap attempt to get a little attention—for a two-hundred-dollar fee, anyone can file one. (Actually getting one on the ballot requires more than four hundred thousand signatures, and the outfits that collect them usually charge a dollar or two per signature.) Initiative No. 07-0032—the Presidential Election Reform Act—is different. It’s serious. Its backers have access to serious money. And it could pass.Nominally, the sponsor of No. 07-0032 is Californians for Equal Representation. But that’s just a letterhead—there’s no such organization. Its address is the office suite of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, the law firm for the California Republican Party, and its covering letter is signed by Thomas W. Hiltachk, the firm’s managing partner and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal lawyer for election matters. Hiltachk and his firm have been involved in many well-financed ballot initiatives before, including the recall that put Arnold in Sacramento. They specialize in initiatives that are the opposite of what they sound like—the Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act of 2006, for example. It would have raised the state minimum wage slightly—by a lesser amount than it has since been raised—and, in the fine print, would have made it impossible ever to raise it again except by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature, while, for good measure, eliminating overtime for millions of workers.
“Equal Representation” sounds good, too. And the winner-take-all rule, which is in force in all but two states, does seem unfair on the face of it. (The two are Maine and Nebraska, which use congressional-district allocation. But they are so small—only five districts between them—and so homogeneous that neither has ever split its electoral votes.) It would be obviously unjust for a state to give all its legislative seats to the party that gets the most votes statewide. So why should Party A get a hundred per cent of that state’s electoral votes if forty per cent of its voters support Party B? No wonder Democrats and Republicans alike initially react to this proposal in a strongly positive way. To most people, the electoral-college status quo feels intuitively wrong. So does war. But that doesn’t make unilateral disarmament a no-brainer.

If California does what No. 07-0032 calls for while everybody else is still going with winner take all by state, the real-world result will be to give Party B (in this case the Republicans) an unearned, Ohio-size gift of electoral votes. In a narrow sense, that’s good if you like Party B, but not so good if you like Party A (in this case the Democrats). Or if you think that in a democracy everybody ought to play by roughly the same rules. Nor, by the way, is Party B the only offender. Last week, the Democratic-controlled legislature of North Carolina, a state that has gone Republican in every Presidential election since 1976, enthusiastically took up a bill to do the same mischief as the California initiative. The grab would be smaller—it would appropriate perhaps three or four of North Carolina’s fifteen electoral votes for the Democrats—but the hands would be just as dirty.

The California initiative flunks even the categorical-imperative test. Imagine, as a thought experiment, that all the states were to adopt this “reform” at once. Electoral votes would still be winner take all, only by congressional district rather than by state. Instead of ten battleground states and forty spectator states, we’d have thirty-five battleground districts and four hundred spectator districts. The red-blue map would be more mottled, and in some states more people might get to see campaign commercials, because media markets usually take in more than one district. But congressional districts are as gerrymandered as human ingenuity and computer power can make them. The electoral-vote result in ninety per cent of the country would still be a foregone conclusion, no matter how close the race.

California Initiative No. 07-0032 is an audacious power play packaged as a step forward for democratic fairness. It’s the lotusland equivalent of Tom DeLay’s 2003 midterm redistricting in Texas, except with a sweeter smell, a better disguise, and larger stakes. And the only way Californians will reject it is if they have a chance to think about it first. ]