Friday, October 29, 2004 

"Searching for vision not invisibility"

Stan Goff's new article on From The Wilderness is not only wonderful, it's available for free. In this latest installment in his series of articles on the political economy of US imperialism, Goff focuses on the continuously active role played by the US state in the extension and maintenance of dollar hegemony as well as the US's changing relationship to other international actors with regards to debt.

In tackling this subject, he engages two of the more dominant strains within the anti-imperial discourse. On the one hand, his examples, through their historical significance, highlight the weaknesses of the capital-centric analysis of the Hardt/Negri school; adding meat to discussions about the comparative influence of and the different roles played by members of the US-Japanese-European triad in a way that I think more cleanly separates what Hardt/Negri get right from what they get wrong. On the other, Goff openly challenges all segments of the (Leninist) left, especially those among us who use a more state-centric analytical paradigm in responding to the Hardt/Negri school, to move away from our past practice of "selectively censoring" aspects of the "Hilferding, Hobson, and Lenin thesis" in order to place current conditions within outdated paradigms. A notable and important charge for a fragmented left within the metropoles during a period of gloves-off imperialism.

For a perspective quite similar to Goff's but focused instead on the tasks facing those "at the empire's boarders" currently resisting/attempting to understand the roots of US imperialism, I highly recommend Samir Amin's latest treasure trove, The Liberal Virus.

Thursday, October 28, 2004 

Still More: The "Trans-shipment" of Weapons of Mass Destruction

In response to the story run in Monday's New York Times about the 380 tons of missing explosives from the Al Qaqaa weapons depot, the Bush administration attempted to float a theory that any weapons at the facility were most likely removed prior to the US invasion (which does little to respond to the criticism that prior to the invasion these weapons were kept under the watchful eye of *actual* weapons inspectors). According to Dick Cheney, this is all little more than media hype and Kerry campaign "scare tactics." DailyKos has already shown this to be bunk, citing this story in particular with many other blogs and major media sources following suit.

Today a friend sent me a link to this St. Paul Channel 5 news exclusive. Two reporters from this Twin Cities television station embedded with the 101st Airborne during the initial invasion are claiming to not only have been at the Al Qaqaa facility but to have been allowed to videotape the weapons in question. It appears that Rumsfeld's wet-dream inspired "embedded journalists" program is coming back to bite them in the ass.

The AP is also reporting on a group of Iraqi resistance fighters claiming to be in possession of the Al Qaqaa weapons. You can read the story here; but most other newspapers and the like already have it up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004 

Why I Will Be Buying an Eminem Album For the First Time Since I Was 15

Eminem's latest video: Mosh

Although Mosh is not listed on the quick vote list, you are still able to cast a vote for it to be played on MTV's TRL by going here, then scrolling down until you find the "other" option.


Viva Cuba Libre

This just arrived in my inbox; I thought it was worth posting:
Last Wednesday, October 19, after completing a talk at a student graduation, Fidel Castro tripped and fell as he was returning to his seat. He suffered a modest but serious injury for a 78 year-old. Most folks responded by simply wishing him a speedy recovery.

But not everyone...

On Friday last week, in Washington, D.C, Richard Boucher, the State Department representative, publicly refused to wish Fidel Castro a simple "Get well".

This crude, tasteless, vindictive and basically silly display of imperial bad manners was also posted to the United States State Department's website where it now stands as mute testimony to a poor upbringing, to say the least.

You can read the transcript of the State Department's comments, a response from the Cuban media, and then send your own message to wish Fidel Castro a hearty "get well" at the special e-mail address which has been created for this specific purpose.

Please take a moment and send a note.

Thanks very much,

Walter Lippmann

Monday, October 25, 2004 

The "Trans-shipment" of Weapons of Mass Destruction: October Surprise?

Just a quick follow-up to a post from a couple of weeks back. Today, the New York Times ran this story, illustrating another major Bush and Co. blunder in the effort to secure sites previously monitored by UN officials in Iraq. This time it was a weapons cache containing some 380 tons of explosives. Perhaps this can be Kerry's "October Surprise."

Sunday, October 24, 2004 

So, it was all the Media's fault?!?

In a recent interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, former UT President John Shumaker blamed a "slow news season," honest mistakes and an administration poorly prepared to help him "clean up details" for his departure of the University of Tennessee.

To back up a second and make sure that everyone is on the same page, John Shumaker was hired as the president of a second rate state university, my alma mater the University of Tennessee, in March of 2002. He was paid the insane salary of over $600,000 in wages and benefits; making him the second highest paid public University president in the country despite being in a state ranked 35th nationally in per capita spending on higher education. In the summer of 2003, a Knoxville television station ran a series of stories that raised questions about Shumaker's spending practices.

As allegations continued to mount, the breadth of the scandal widened to include not only the misuse of a state issued American Express card and trips on the University's private plane (I feel the need to reiterate my above statement "a second rate state university" when sharing the fact that UT even has a plane) to visit women he may or may not have been sleeping with, but incidents where the University awarded no-bid contracts to former Shumaker business associates, and extremely elaborate purchases including a $7,000 Persian rug, a $4,500 grill and nearly $500,000 to renovate the president's residence (a house that had already undergone some $700,000 worth of work just 2 years prior).

In the end he offered his resignation with the understanding that he would receive a $422,956 severance package. A pretty fucking nice deal, especially when a report by the State Comptroller ruled out any possible criminal prosecution despite the findings of an internal University audit outlining some $31,885.75 in questionable spending.

What followed was a public relations nightmare for the University, a sharp decline in University donations, and in the end the University actually came out with the absurd position that Shumaker had paid back too much money, cutting him a check for a couple thousand dollars.

However, we've come to the one bright spot in our story. With all of this coming in the wake of Tyco, Enron, Adelphia, Martha, etc; the "go get these bastards" attitude found in some (read: very, very few) Democrats coupled with the "we hate this damn university, must cut spending" ideology of East Tennessee conservatives to produce an amazing result. The state actually revoked Shumaker's severance package and let it be known in a less than private manner that he ought to count his blessings. So what does this pirate do? He sues the State of Tennessee for breach of contract.

It’s important to note that the University of Tennessee still refuses to institute a Living Wage for campus workers on the grounds that funds are not available. Oh, and now the UT homepage has this wonderful section entitled Great Things Are Happening.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 

Waste of My Time

So I have a confession to make. Recently, in cases of extreme boredom, usually at work, after I have scoured,, any number of lefty news sites, blogs and online magazines, even after I've attempted to navigate the horrible constructed Fox News webpage, I direct my Firefox 0.10 browser over to FrontPage.

I do it fully aware that such activities are a horrific waste of my time; time that, in addition to doing my actual work, could be spent having one on ones with potential union members, making phone calls to get people out to PSA's anti-war action next Wednesday, starting on an introduction for some pamphlet, or just taking a walk. I know this, but something about reading headlines like "Unholy Alliance is under attack and I need you help," or being prompted to sign a petition to shut down a Jew hate fest (read: Palestinian solidarity conference) at Duke next month just captures a part of my imagination and won't let it go. I go into expecting to see headlines that read "Early Childhood Jew-Hate Indoctrination: Why Israel can't be found on a map in Palestinian textbooks" only pixels away from "Choosing Liberty Over Death: Educated Palestinians choose America over blowing themselves up."

And in the end, when I leave the site to return to my regular work routine, I am glad that I know of the existence of Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left. I am glad if i come away from it having armed myself with even a sliver of knowledge to use against the most reactionary sections of the body politic. So when my co-worker brings up this book she read about radical Islam and American communists, I won't have to relive the shock I so openly showed when she began telling me about The Worm in the Apple. So in that way, maybe visiting the website isn't a horrible waste of time, just something to do during periods of extreme boredom, usually at work, after I have scoured...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 

The War on Public Health

It’s looking like this year I will not be getting a flu shot for the first time since I was 8 years old. And although I completely agree with Spock that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one,” I still want my damn flu shot. I'm fine with old people, little kids and pregnant women getting it before me, but it really pisses me off to read headlines like "Health secretary: No flu vaccine crisis." It’s the Donald Rumsfeld world-view applied to public health. While reading this story, I half expected this idiot to be quoted issuing some whacked-out "we are winning the war on Islam, I mean the flu" pronouncement straight from Dick Cheney's undisclosed location in Never-Never land.

The ever-fearless Kerry camp went on the offensive this week, releasing a commercial raising the Bush administration’s record on vaccines. Let me pause here to clear up any confusion. No, the new Kerry commercial does not talk about the series of ridiculous claims Bush made during the Oct. 13 debate. It doesn't mention his assertion that the vaccine shortage is a result of excessive litigation against drug manufactures, nor the farce that the administration was/is protecting us from "contaminated medicine," or even the outright misleading characterization of Emeryville, California based drug manufacturer Chiron as "a company out of Britain." None of that is covered. Instead, the Kerry ad focuses on the Bush administration's failure to stockpile enough worthless bio-terror vaccines needed in the fight against smallpox and anthrax. I don’t know how Patrick Leahy or Tom Daschle are feeling, but I for one am a hell of a lot more scared of influenza then anthrax.

Speaking of bio-terrorism, does anyone know what kind of trouble you'd get in for sending packets of flu infected vomit to Howard Pien with a thank you card?

Monday, October 18, 2004 

The Bush Bulge (And I'm Not Talking About the Flight Suit Incident)

I imagine most people have at least seen the pictures of Bush's bulge, if not read Dave Lindorff's exposé in Salon magazine. Counterpunch is running a series of pieces by Lindorff on the whole mess. The pieces are at times frightening, so fascinating that you cannot keep from reading and really annoying. The articles are here, here and here.

Save yourself some time, and skip any paragraph where he starts whining about not being called by MSNBC, the Philadelphia Inquirer, et al.


A Member of the NPR Family

I just made a donation to my local NPR station. It was my first time donating to NPR, and I was a little shocked by how excited it made me feel. To be completely honest it almost reminded me of attending my first action (I still miss you Thunder 94). I know some people have soured on NPR, with the whole push for more media regulation and the rightward trend in reporting and analysis, but the local affiliate is pretty right on - a hotbed of union activity to be certain.

On the subject of supporting publicly held media outlets, The Corporation will have its debut screening in Knoxville this coming Sunday, October 24 with proceeds being split between the film makers and Knoxville's recently shutdown pirate radio station, KFAR 90.9 FM. Time and place is 7pm (no smoking) and 10pm (yes smoking), Pilot Light, Old City.

Now where's my damn WUOT mug?

Friday, October 15, 2004 

This is what Party Building [doesn't] look like

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I see addressing the US’s drive for empire as the central task for leftists in this country today. However, for us to truly be successful in this endeavor, the left as a whole must meet the challenge of crisis and opportunity for building a real party to provide the leadership there's no denying our movements lack.

Programmatically, our long-term plans must center on the process of building an organization much bigger and with a potential for action far outside of the scope of what our small groups are capable of pulling off. The fact conversations on this subject continue to come up inside and between most left groups that "get it" is testament to the continued validity of this position. Whether we're calling it "regroupment" or "refoundation" isn't nearly as important as the fact that we are grounded enough to steer clear of declaring ourselves the fount of any and all revolutionary change this country might ever see. The Party is an objective reality, it ain't subjective dick-measuring, and there are few things more rewarding that working with new people who understand this.

So in the sprit of left unity, here are links to two of the socialists organization I might have joined, had the allure of the road I found laid out before me not been so great: Solidarity, Left Turn.

That said, shit like this just cracks me up.

Thursday, October 14, 2004 

"And on these days of rememberance..."

This Saturday is the 145th anniversary of John Brown's raid on the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, present day West Virginia with 21 of the greatest heroes America has ever produced. Residents of the always happenin' Knoxvegas should come out to the Longbranch Saloon on the Cumberland Avenue Strip from 10pm - 2am Saturday night to celebrate the life and legacy of a true American freedom-fighter. Folks not in Knoxville best put on some Cash and drink a toast to this man.

"I am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land with never be purged away, but with Blood." -John Brown, on this way to the gallows

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 

The "Trans-shipment" of Weapons of Mass Destruction

In late February of 2003, I joined a group of mostly Muslim students to plaster UT's Knoxville campus with this poster from Under the cover of darkness, we stapled, taped and glued close to 1,000 posters to campus walkways, doors, street poles, message boards and toliet stalls. Naturally, 95% had been ripped down within 36 hours, but I like to think that it helped set the stage for our Books Not Bombs rally on March 5 of that year which drew more than 300 people (*note:300 people=shit load at anything left of center on this campus).

Well, although Musharraf has decieded to maintain his military dictatorship, I mean don his military uniform depsite promises of a civilian transistion after five years in power (big suprise there), it's looking like Al Qaeda might not have to wait on a Pakistani failed state to aquire nuclear materials. reports that the IAEA is in shock following the discovery that literaly tons of "dual-use" equitment and materials in Iraq have vanished under the US occupation. Given Bush and Kerry's emphasis on policies that prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the dangers surrounding the "trans-shipment" of such materails, tomorrow night's debate should be pretty interesting (or not).

Monday, October 11, 2004 

The AFL-CIO is closed for Columbus Day!?

Earlier today, the Bush campaign issued a formal written threat to the AFL-CIO. Vowing to hold federation President John Sweeney and his organization accountable for the actions of his members, the administration held true to its established practices of respect and encouragement for open and democratic institutions. Employing the "al Qaeda" logic domestically, Bush staffer Marc Racicot compared well organized AFL protests to acts of vandalism and shootings at other Bush campaign headquarters around the country.

But that's the part of the story we all should have seen coming. The fact that my dues help fund these guys' Columbus inspired vacation day is the part that scares the fuck outta me!

Saturday, October 09, 2004 

Motorcycle Diaries

I just got back from seeing the Motorcycle Diaries with my little brother. If you haven't made it out to see it yet, indulge yourself and go. I had to make the 3-hour trip to Nashville just to watch the damn movie before Christmas - w00t Knoxville.

But seriously, even having to sit in the very front row of a theater with stadium seating, I was glad for the chance to go.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004 

Operation Baghdad

In the aftermath of "tropical storm" Jeanne all hell has broken through the poorly constructed portrait of a freedom-loving Haiti in transition between a failed autocrat and the bright shining world of tomorrow maintained by US media outlets ever since the coup that ousted Jean-Bertrand Artistide.

As the date for sham elections in Haiti nears, many pro-Aristide supporters have shown their dissolution with this latest bout of democracy by decree, and are employing more violent tactics to regain the state-power that is rightfully theirs. I hope that Stan Goff will soon return from his (apparent) writing hiatus and put all of this in context.

The New York Times first reported on this offensive, dubbed "Operation Baghdad," on Sunday. CNN has also been following this story and particularly the use of decapitation by the guerillas to halt the police inspired violence. And on a side note, something really bothers me about the "exactness" of CNN's use of the words "tropical storm Jeanne." Isn't it interesting that when some que-tip's nursing home in Florida gets smashed its "hurricane" Jeanne, and when Knoxville, Tennessee and the rest of the South Eastern US gets pummeled by gallons of rain its "the remnants of hurricane Jeanne"; but when 1,800 (mostly) Black folks die because of massive flooding, mudslides, poisoned water, etc in Haiti the cause is a "tropical storm"? I understand that storms are upgraded as windspeeds increase, and I love the people of Florida, but racist use of meteorological language (it's the same fucking storm!) is still racism; and balding white women need to start demanding new hairstyles, pronto. I digress. The quote of the day comes from one of these young freedom fighters:

"We'll be in the streets until death or Aristide comes back," said Milo Fenelon, 24. "We won't stop. If they come in here, we're going to cut off their heads. It's going to be just like Baghdad."

I don't think that you can get much clearer than that.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004 

What was that about Poland?

I am sure that many of us remember Bush's feigned outrage that Kerry "forgot" Poland when he listed the countries with troops in Iraq during last Thursday's debate. Putting his foot completely in his month, Bush drove home the farcical nature of the coalition of the willing by taking time to correct his opponent’s omission of the great Polish powerhouse. I almost expected someone to yell, Seinfeld style, "Poland not weak!" and proceed to smash their Risk-board-esque podiums with his bare hands.

Yesterday the Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski announced that Polish troops would be removed from Iraq by December 2005, much to the chagrin of the Bush-Cheney junta. Additionally, the minister floated the idea of reducing Polish troops by 40% as early as January 2005. This would drop Polish participation from the current force of 2,500 troops to a slightly more modest 1,500 troops.
Irony always makes for good humor.

Friday, October 01, 2004 

Something fun

Here is something fun to end the work-week with.



The first of three debates between George Bush and John Kerry took place last night. Most folks I've spoken thought that Bush seemed flustered, caught off guard, and winded. He slumped over the podium, refused to face his Kerry while the senator spoke and whined like a young child demanding chances to respond to any rebuttal by Senator Kerry that was the slightest bit heavy handed.

The substance of the debate, which focused on foreign policy, was little more than high fluent elaboration of minuet differences. Last night we saw representatives of two segments of the imperial bourgeoisie waving their dicks around and explaining what they planed to do with them. No suprise, their plans are remarkably similar, regardless of the created caveats John and George think that we need to understand. That said, the left is once again forced to face a choice between the frying pan or the fire - voting for that segment of this imperialist ruling class who is going to allow us the most wiggle room or taking the path towards self-induced obsolescence, Bob Avakian style.

During this period, the "globalist" segments of the American ruling class are the equivalant of the national bourgeoisies across the global south during the national liberation struggles of a half-century ago. I don't want to be accused of drawing false comparisons or worse yet oversimplification on this point, I'm just saying that a dogmatist stance on the question of alliances with liberals and other pro-Kerry progressives denies the realities of the situation that we face. Sure, blindly riding the Kerry bandwagon is taking the road to neo-Clintonianism, but we need to give our ultra-leftist tendencies a swift kick in the ass and try to get in on the ground floor with this one. This ain't about what feels or sounds good, this is about strategic decision-making. A Bush win means the real beginning of American fascism; Kerry at least pays something like lip-service to the importance of mass movements. Another Bush term means an end to collective bargaining and an all-out attack on labor’s right to organize; Kerry is at least willing to broach the subject of raising the minimum wage. And as shown by the debates last night, US imperialism under Bush will be "more of the same," while Kerry is at least willing to promise that under his watch "the United States of America [will have] no long-term designs on staying in Iraq." This is most likely a crock-of-shit, but it is still a difference he's willing to draw between himself and Bush.

In the end, there may only be slivers of difference between the candidates' positions, but our choice is between the ability to organize openly or the early days of a neo-fascist police state. And in that context, a promise to not construct permanent military bases in Iraq must be seen as a concrete victory for anti-imperialist forces.

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