Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years Eve

Very busy. I'll post some of my favorite 2010 pictures and a look back at an interesting year tomorrow. Right now, here are two pictures.

Playing Keith's Alpenhorn:

Looking up the Little Su on September 11th, 2010:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hugues Cuenod's Passing

I just read today that Swiss tenor Hugues-Adhémar Cuénod passed away back on December 6th. He was 108. He gave his last performances when he was 92, as Triquet in Tchaikovsky's Eugen Onegin.

The two people who introduced me to Cuénod's artistry back in the early 1970s were Michael Wiater and the late Raymond Jaarvi. Michael was excited about Cuénod's work with Nadia Boulanger in the rekindling of interest in the madrigals of the first truly great Baroque composer, Claudio Monteverdi. Raymond had a large collection of LPs with Cuénod singing French chansons.

The image at top left is of Hugh Cuénod singing the role of Emporer in Puccini's Turandot at age 84. It was Cuénod's Metropoitan Opera debut, the oldest age debut in the company's history.

Cuénod's voice had an almost flawless French tone. Her wasn't known as a great operatic actor, but accepted incredibly challenging parts in new works - the Doctor in Alban Berg's Wozzeck and Sellem in Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress.

His record of performances and recordings of chansons is unparalleled. Here he is singing a World War II resistance song by Francois Poulenc, J'ai traversé les ponts de Cé:

Here he is, in 1935, accompanying himself, singing the American spiritual, My Lord, What a Morning:

And here he is as the Captain, in a 1954 Italian production of Wozzeck:

Cenk - Why Not Execute Sarah Palin, Tucker?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Once Again - Glenn Greenwald, Standing Almost Alone Against the Wikileaks Myths

Monday, on CNN's Politics, Glenn Greenwald endured 12 minutes of bizarre hostility from CNN host Jessica Yellin, who seemed to be setting Greenwald up for being pilloried by former Bush national security apparatchik, Fran Townsend.

Yellin opened up by questioning Assange's motives in making a book deal. From the start, she attempted to paint Assange's motives for doing this as something that must be added to the list of things which prove Assange not to be someone we can trust. It went downhill from there.

Greenwald was more combative than I've seen him in most media appearances of this magnitude. The only thing about Glenn that amazes me more than the vast reservoir of facts he seems to be able to accurately throw out at media hacks without looking away from the Skype camera, is patience as he endures what essentially is one hostile talking head after another.

Townsend was challenged to say even one true thing. Greenwald had to go beyond saying she was misstating or disambiguating or whatever. He called her a liar. He should have called her a Goddam fucking liar.

Greenwald is almost alone in being asked to do segments in visual media that are longer than ten minutes. Hopefully, his degree of mastery over these two shills Monday will gain him more media on this important subject, rather than less.

In passing, Greenwald paid tribute in his Monday blog post, as he has in the past, to firedoglake's efforts on this set of subjects.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gaza Two Years Later - A Child's Remembrance - by Rawan Yaghi

(white phosphorous, raining down on the U.N. School in Gaza two years ago)

Rawan Yaghi, 17, is a secondary school student in Gaza. She blogs at

Sleep in here sleep little girl
I would keep you so warm
Sleep… darling I'll hold you so firm
You're here in my lap no need for fright
Keep on your happy sight
Sun will shine
Birds will wake the sleepy night
You're my….
My Mom suddenly stopped singing and stopped calmly feeling my hair. Her hand also stopped shaking. She was keeping me on her lap, trying to keep me warm in that cold night. It was too dark that I could barely see her face. She was very warm, but she gradually lost that comforting heat. I tried to keep it, so I covered her with the small blanket she was covering me with and I stayed in her lap.

Some minutes passed; however, she didn't continue singing, and her body kept going colder. There was so much going on outside. I could hear a man weakly weeping. I thought she was listening to the sounds outside trying to know what was happening.

I sat beside her, for, then, she was so cold that I couldn't stay in her lap.

"Mama, why is the man outside crying?".

She didn't answer. She kept listening.

I said no word afterwards. I may have slept for a short while after the noise was a little bit lower. When I woke up I saw my mother with her eyes closed covered with my blanket. I thought she must have been awake the whole time I was sleeping, that's why I didn't try to wake her up; she would get in a really bad mood if I do. I poured her some water and put it in front of her. She was still cold. I was cold too but I thought she was so much colder.

I sat right in the opposite of her and kept waiting her to wake up and drink my glass of water and then thank me for it. Thinking of my dad and two brothers who got out of the house carrying a white shirt and how much noise happened after they got out, while my mother followed them so fast and came back so slow, with that noise frequently coming back, I kept staring at her cold body.

Now, two years later I understand it all, the cold, the whimper, my dad's white shirt, my brothers, everything, even the mess outside. I understand why the men who came that morning took only me and why they wouldn't listen to me yelling at them saying that my mother is still there feeling very cold.

from Mondoweiss

Sveriges Television's Wikileaks Documentary and What It Implies About Alaska's Press

I. SVT, Sweden's major public television concern, whose motto is "free television," released a documentary on the history of Wikileaks back in the middle of December. It is now getting posted in its full Youtube version at a lot of sites. I had avoided watching it until this morning. I was told that it is troubling. It is.

I was disturbed by the images, statements and actions of so many people over the past five years. The SVT documentary presents these and other materials in context that is sorely needed, as it seems the U.S. press is fixated on the crazy reactions by U.S. politicians and media personalities to the most recent publications of documents related to American foreign policy, and to the sexual abuse charges currently standing against the organization's founder, Julian Assange.

I came away from viewing the entire hour-long documentary with a keen sense of how important Wikileaks has been worldwide, in exposing lies, corruption, cronyism and crime. One is left with no doubt that Wikileaks serves a vital and rapidly changing purpose, and that Assange and his colleagues are investigative journalists, in the finest sense of what that term means.

Wikileaks revelations about the nature of Iceland's financial meltdown, led to changes in that country's financial regulations. How the failing, criminal banksters dealt with that in the small island country, is covered in the documentary. From the first document published by Wikileaks, evidence of a Somali warlord's assassination team, to the most recent evidence of collusion between Fatah political figures and the Israeli government, the organization may have performed itself or led to more investigative journalism than every other outlet in the world put together, during those five years. But the influence goes further than journalism itself. As Noam Scheiber wrote in The New Republic this morning:
When people riff about the impact of Wikileaks, you typically hear how it’s forever changed diplomacy or intelligence-gathering. The more ambitious accounts will mention the implications for journalism, too. All of that’s true and vaguely relevant. But it also misses the deeper point. The Wikileaks revolution isn’t only about airing secrets and transacting information. It’s about dismantling large organizations—from corporations to government bureaucracies. It may well lead to their extinction.
Even though Wikileaks has had a profound effect on journalism, government regulations (in positive and negative ways) and, if Scheiber proved correct, in how large organizations are able to justify their own existence, the un-comfort level its activities gives to so-called liberals who are backing the U.S. government's authoritarian reaction to the recent leaks, is evident. In articles I've written here and elsewhere about Wikileaks, Julian Assange or Bradley Manning, I've been assailed by Obama supporters for criticizing statements of the President, his Attorney General or his Secretary of State. I can't help but think that had Bush, Gonzales or Rice made these same statements, many of my critics would have praised my observations.

Justin Raimondo wrote about this yesterday:
The international debate engendered by WikiLeaks’ ongoing publication of classified US diplomatic cables has sent most American liberals into hiding. Gone AWOL when it comes to the Obama administration’s escalation of the federal government’s war on civil liberties, mainstream liberal defenders of WikiLeaks are few and far between.

On the cable news circuit, Rachel Maddow, the supposed “foreign policy wonk,” devoted a brief segment to the issue, echoing the MSM’s party line that There’s Nothing New Here. (Earth to Rachel: Since only a small percentage of the cables have so far been published, isn’t it a little premature for such a pronouncement? Just asking .) Her fellow MSNBCer, Chris Matthews, confined himself to a few snarling comments about Julian Assange – “a rapist” – with only Keith Olbermann (who can hardly be called “mainstream,” in any event) openly defending the last remaining symbol of what had once been a free society.

Raimondo goes on to praise Glenn Greenwald, who has been the most visible defender of Wikileaks, Assange and Private Bradley Manning:

By far the most consistent and effective champion of WikiLeaks on what passes for the “left” these days has been the heroic Glenn Greenwald: not only in his widely-read columns for, but in numerous media appearances in which he has taken on the worst of the very worst – and, yes, I do indeed mean John F. Burns, of the New York Times. Glenn has been everywhere, a libertarian gladiator up against the Empire’s pundit warrior-slaves, and winning every time.

News programs which would normally interview only regimist “experts” and commentators have been forced, by the very nature of a contentious subject, to bring in someone who doesn’t toe Washington’s line, and Glenn – with his legal training and calm, reasoned demeanor – is almost singlehandedly taking on the Powers That Be in this important fight.

Another writer, not mentioned by Raimondo, who is bringing important information to light on Wikileaks and Manning, is Marcy Wheeler, whose 2007 book on the Scooter Libby trial, Anatomy of Deceit, remains the best available on that case. Wheeler has posted many articles on Wikileaks issues at her blog, emtywheel.

Wheeler has been collaborating for years with firedoglake co-founder, Jane Hamsher, who now hosts Wheeler's blog. Hamsher has created a timeline on important issues having to do with the Wikileaks case, and both Wheeler and Hamsher have contributed to firedoglake's Merged Version of Manning-Lamo Chat Logs, published this morning.

Wheeler's analysis is here.

firedoglake has also published a list of the key Wikileaks-Manning articles.

To me, the most important aspect of further scrutiny of Private Bradley Manning has been a change in my view of him. His arrest and rather harsh treatment in custody, coupled with having become more familiar with how he came to decide it was important to download classified U.S. government documents at Wikileaks convinced me he may be a genuine hero. I've come over to the view of Daniel Ellsberg:

Ellsberg said he frequently hears people praise his 1971 leak of the Pentagon's secret history of the Vietnam War while condemning the WikiLeaks disclosures. The 79-year-old former military analyst rejected that argument, calling Manning a "brother" who, if he indeed provided the documents to WikiLeaks, committed "a very admirable act."
I recorded my reaction yesterday to a person who accused Manning of being a traitor:

Manning is the same sort of traitor as Sophie Scholl.

I suppose he should have his head cut off, eh? Maybe his last words will be like hers:
How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause.

In the Nuremburg Trials, the basic charges were these:

1. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace

2 Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace

3. War crimes

4. Crimes against humanity

If Manning is indeed source for most of the WikiLeaks material that backs up illegal aspects of our war making as related to the Nuremburg charges, he had a responsibility higher than that he owes his uniform. Under the doctrine of Command Responsibility, and the case law evolving in that sphere since WWII, he could be considered to have had a duty to deal with the information he had about these past and ongoing crimes in the way he felt would most likely get the word out to agencies more likely to stop it than the nation responsible for the crimes.


Our country cries “Assassinate Assange, Hang Manning, Free Pollard!”

II. The SVT documentary mentions Sarah Palin, and Wikileaks' release of information about how Palin handled e-mails while she was Alaska's governor. You can see that segment when you watch the program. What I want to discuss here, though is something else about Alaska media and Alaska bloggers that occurred to me while viewing it.

Getting information out of our government in Alaska, or about public figures involved in the governmental agencies here, is tough. It never was easy, but it keeps getting tougher.

The Alaska government is sitting on requests or court orders to disclose thousands of documents. In some of these cases, they are in total and clear violation of Alaska laws and administrative codes. Our journalists sometimes try. Our bloggers do that too, at least as addisuously. The most indefatigable of us in this regard is Linda Kellen Biegel, who is currently battling the Alaska Public Offices Commission to come to a sensible ruling on what clearly seem to be egregious campaign violations in the 2008 legislative election by GOP candidate William Thomas, Jr - and others, too.

In the same sense that Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher have developed timelines and narratives that clearly illustrate what has happened in the Wikileaks case, so Alaska blogger Mel Green created charts, timelines and other graphic portrayals of Sarah Palin's and the state's legal fee obligations in 2008 and 2009 that were more true, more illuminating, than anything presented by Alaska's lamestream media.

As I write this essay, Shannyn Moore is on KOAN AM, talking about the importance of Wikileaks.

The Alaska media has seldom publicly teamed with our bloggers, but several reporters have an appreciation of what we've been able to accomplish from the beginning of Palin's 2008 vice-presidential campaign to the last faint rustlings of Joe Miller's meltdown. It was an Alaska on-line only publication (Wikileaks also has no paper edition), the Alaska Dispatch - eventually joined by the Fairbanks News-Miner and Anchorage Daily News - which brought out the resistance from the Miller campaign and then the information from the Fairbanks North Star Borough - that cost Joe Miller between 15,000 and 25,000 votes on November 2nd.

Coverage of Wikileaks' latest travails has been sparse in Alaska, both in the media and on our progressive blogs. Progressive Alaska was the first lefty blog to openly criticize President Obama, Sen. Mark Begich, and several other Democratic Party politicians currently serving. I'm also happy to be covering Wikileaks up here (along with Moore) so that the issues get some sort of local perspective.

Here's the SVT documentary. It is quite moving. I suggest pre-loading it in full screen, and finding an hour during which you won't be distracted:

Joe Miller is Still Fundraising - "Click Here to Donate"

I got this in the mail around midnight. Fairbanks divorce attorney Joe Miller is still asking for money - for his legal defense fund, so he can press on.

Click to enlarge:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

Julia and Alex are home for Christmas. We are all healthy, happy and safe. What more could we ask for? World peace would certainly be nice, especially for our kids' kids' kids' kids, when and if that occurs.

Pray for peace.

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 11: Misinformer of the Year

Jesse Griffin carried this video a few days ago. Readers may notice I've been avoiding Palin for several days, but this compilation is so well done, I've got to post it as the next chapter of Saradise Lost:

Julian Assange's 2nd Frost Over the World Interview on Al Jazeera

Thursday, December 23, 2010

RAP News - Episode 6 - Cablegate: The Truth is Out There - Updated

I've posted a couple of episodes of RAP news here, and use some of the work by Hugo Farrant and Giordano Nanni in my music appreciation class segment on "What Happens Next?" in terms of on-line interactive music, hip-hop, Afropop and other rapidly changing aspects of music. Hopefully, Farrant and Nanni's operation at will see wider distribution soon.

This episode has more content and truth in it in 6 minutes than in three weeks of FAUX News:

Update - Christmas Eve: I wrote to Hugo and Giordano yesterday:
I've used RAP news in my music appreciation class as part of a lecture describing where hip hop is going, and its global power. Good luck getting a wider audience for your outstanding productions. If you come to Alaska, I'll take you fishing.
They wrote back this morning:

We are very glad to hear that. Hope it went down well! Good on ya.

We'd love to come fishing with you in Alaska! :)

one day

All the best for 2011 xx

Farewell to a Friend. Roger Ranch 1942-2010

--- by Jeanne Devon

Today, Anchorage lost a great soul. He wasn’t a political leader, he didn’t hold office, but he did what we all should do – he showed up. And he didn’t just show up for a pet cause, or a particular belief. He showed up for all of them. He showed up for labor, and women, and LGBT rights, and the planet, and peace, and to support his community. Every rally, every march, every event, there was Roger. If he found a candidate he believed in, he was there every day volunteering and doing what he could.

Even if people didn’t know him personally, they always knew Roger was there. Silver hair, silver beard, and one of a variety of hats – usually straw, or a baseball cap. A growly papa bear voice, twinkly blue eyes, a ready smile and an ever present travel mug of coffee. I once told him he had the best laugh ever, a devilish baritone chuckle that lit up a conversation and made everyone else laugh too. If you earned one of those laughs it made you feel good.

I was trying to remember the first time I met Roger, and I couldn’t. It was more like he was a constant presence, a living signpost that something was going on that was worthy and important. He’d just always been there – a solid, dependable omnipresent lion. In Roger’s case, the old adage proved true – still waters ran deep. After a time, Roger and I became friends and he’d come up behind me and bump his shoulder to mine and growl, “Hey there.” And I’d say, “Hey there, Mr. Ranch,” and I knew everyone was present and accounted for.

Sometimes he’d pop in to my place of work and I’d get a call, “Your friend Roger is here.” At times I was busy, and I’d sigh and wonder how I had the time. But I’d always get up from my desk and go downstairs, and Roger and I would talk for a while about some political goings on, or something on the blog. And then I’d tell him I had to get back to work, and I’d walk back up the stairs, and I was always glad I hadn’t said I was too busy. A predictable byproduct of a conversation with Roger was always a smile.

Roger loved the blog and left comments under his nickname “Bones AK.” He’d been a medic in Okinawa, and a physicians assistant in Bethel. He was a bonesetter, and if I’d ever had a broken bone, he’s the guy I’d want to set it straight. Bones at his core was the kind of guy that you always knew had your back, and was looking out for you to make sure you were OK. The profession and he made perfect sense together.

I’ve been with people today who loved him. Not his biological family of whom there are few and none in Alaska – but his family of choice, his circle of friends who shared his passion and his company. The thing that struck me so much about Roger, turned out to be the thing that defined him for everyone, that he was a fundamentally good and decent man. There aren’t many true hearts of gold that walk the earth, and now there is one less.

When someone we care about dies, it’s always a tragedy. But there are deaths when we can say to ourselves, “It was just his time,” or “at least he died doing something he loved.” And then there are times when the universe seems utterly unfair and a good, decent person has an end that makes no sense.

Roger died in a fire. Roger had tickets purchased for a New Year’s Eve concert, and he had a lunch date today, and a special gift he was going to buy for a special person. But the universe had other plans. Or it just made a terrible mistake.

It didn’t feel like his time, and it didn’t feel like the way he should have gone. The story of his life wasn’t supposed to end like this. First responders were there just three minutes after the call came, but by then the flames had already engulfed his trailer. Anchorage firefighters broke through the window with axes and got him out. He made it to the hospital, but all that they could do was keep him comfortable, until he passed away in the early morning hours.

I like to think that somehow the souls of the departed give one last lap around before they head off to parts unknown. If Roger’s soul had done a lap today, I think he would have been surprised by the number of people affected so deeply by his life, and the leaving of it. The initial shock and grieving, and shed tears and hugs are not the things that will mark his passing. It will be every event, and rally, and campaign headquarters where he will not be. His absence will be felt as strongly as if it were a presence in itself.

A true and steady light has gone out.

You will be missed, my friend.


For those friends wanting to gather to remember Roger, come to the Taproot Cafe on Thursday, December 23 at 5:30pm. This is normally the time for the taping of Moore Up North, a weekly event Roger never missed. The show is on hiatus for the holidays, but it seemed fitting somehow for friends to congregate at this time. It’s not a memorial service, just a place to come and be together.

Other tributes to Bones:

Jeanette at Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis

Shannyn Moore

John Aronno

Jesse Griffin

Phil Munger

Art by Rod Gonzales

Max Blumenthal - The Great Fear

Last Sunday, author, journalist, lecturer, videographer and blogger Max Blumenthal published his most important article since the publication of his book, Republican Gomorrah, in the summer of 2009. Initially published at, The Great Fear has been reprinted at Max's own site, Mondoweiss,, Counterpunch, War in Context and other places.

Max Blumenthal’s article begins with these three paragraphs:

Nine years after 9/11, hysteria about Muslims in American life has gripped the country. With it has gone an outburst of arson attacks on mosques, campaigns to stop their construction, and the branding of the Muslim-American community, overwhelmingly moderate, as a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits. The frenzy has raged from rural Tennessee to New York City, while in Oklahoma, voters even overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the implementation of Sharia law in American courts (not that such a prospect existed). This campaign of Islamophobia wounded President Obama politically, as one out of five Americans have bought into a sustained chorus of false rumors about his secret Muslim faith. And it may have tainted views of Muslims in general; an August 2010 Pew Research Center poll revealed that, among Americans, the favorability rating of Muslims had dropped by 11 points since 2005.

Erupting so many years after the September 11th trauma, this spasm of anti-Muslim bigotry might seem oddly timed and unexpectedly spontaneous. But think again: it’s the fruit of an organized, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists and operatives who first focused on Islamophobia soon after the September 11th attacks, but only attained critical mass during the Obama era. It was then that embittered conservative forces, voted out of power in 2008, sought with remarkable success to leverage cultural resentment into political and partisan gain.

This network is obsessively fixated on the supposed spread of Muslim influence in America. Its apparatus spans continents, extending from Tea Party activists here to the European far right. It brings together in common cause right-wing ultra-Zionists, Christian evangelicals, and racist British soccer hooligans. It reflects an aggressively pro-Israel sensibility, with its key figures venerating the Jewish state as a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror and urging the U.S. and various European powers to emulate its heavy-handed methods.

He goes on to describe “the network” in detail. The sections of the essay are almost the size of chapters of a book:

The Birth of a Network

The Network Expands

From Scam to Publicity Coup

Inspiration from Israel

Blumenthal has been very busy, both in the U.S. and in Israel. Max's coverage of last month's Mt. Carmel forest wildfire, The Carmel Wildfire is burning all illusions in Israel, was reprinted widely. Here's a brief excerpt:

Four days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to place thousands of migrant workers from Africa and Southeast Asia in a prison camp deep in the Negev Desert because, as he claimed, they pose a “threat to the character of [the] country,” a burning tree trunk fell into a bus full of Israeli Prison Service cadets, killing forty passengers. The tree was among hundreds of thousands turned to ash by the forest fire pouring across northern Israel, and which now threatens to engulf outskirts of Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. Over the last four days, more than 12,300 acres have burned in the Mount Carmel area, a devastating swath of destruction in a country the size of New Jersey. While the cause of the fire has not been established, it has laid bare the myths of Israel’s foundation.

Israelis are treating the fire as one of their greatest tragedies in recent years. A friend who grew up in the Haifa area told me over the weekend that he was devastated by the images of destruction he saw on TV. His friend’s brother was among those who perished in the bus accident. Though he is a dedicated Zionist who supported Netanyahu’s election bid in 2008, like so many Israelis, he was furious at the response — or lack of one — by the government. “Our leaders are complete idiots, but you already know that,” he told me. “They invested so much to prepare for all kinds of crazy war scenarios but didn’t do anything to protect civilians from the basic things you are supposed to take for granted.”

On 3 December, Netanyahu informed the country, “We do not have what it takes to put out the fire, but help is on the way.” To beat back the blaze, Bibi has had to beg for assistance from his counterpart in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and Israel’s American and British patrons. Israel is a wealthy country which boasts to the world about its innovative spirit — its US-based lobbyists market it as a “Start-Up Nation” — but its performance during the forest fire revealed the sad truth: its government has prioritized offensive military capacity and occupation maintenance so extensively that it has completely neglected the country’s infrastructure, emergency preparedness and most of all, the general welfare of its citizens.

Last week, Max participated "in a debate at Princeton University on the “ethics and efficacy” of BDS."
The debate was held as a bookend to the battle over a resolution calling for adding an alternative in the campus cafeteria to Sabra Hummus, an Israeli brand produced by a company which has sponsored the IDF’s Givati and Golani brigades (the resolution was defeated). In my opinion, though the students from the Princeton Committee for Palestine who initiated the effort to sideline Sabra were not successful, they won anyway by forcing an open and honest discussion about Israeli war crimes, occupation and discrimination. And the students who voted against the alternative hummus resolution were simply stupid, not necessarily because they obstructed a campaign targeting a military unit that has been implicated in hideous crimes, but because they resigned themselves to a brand of hummus that contains the preservative known as sodium benzoate, which has been directly linked to everything from cancer to Parkinson’s to a variety of degenerative diseases.
Youtubes of Max's opening statement, his debate partner Rebecca Wilkomerson's opening statement (Wilkomerson is Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace), and a set of excerpts from the debate are available at Max's description of it at his blog. A very interesting critique of the debate has been posted at Mondoweiss.

All this is important work. Max's long article, The Great Fear, though, is one of the most notable articles on the nature and architecture of American Islamophobia and its relationship to militant expansionist Zionism to yet appear. As I noted in a comment at a discussion on Blumenthal's article:
It appears, from the depth of research in Max’s newest article, The Great [Fear], that he is in the process of looking into this problem similarly to the way he dissected the fundamentalist Christian right in his 2009 book.

At the time Max’s book was reviewed at firedoglake, I wrote an appreciation of the quality of his writing and the originality of his approach. The essay concluded with the question that I asked myself after reading Republican Gomorrah, “How did we let these dangerous people gain so much control over our lives?”

The same question should be asked regarding the people and organizations Max describes in this solid article. Blumenthal, more than anyone else writing now, has best described how these two groups – the makers of our GOP right-wing paradigm, and the backers or the creepiest aspects of the Zionist right-wing mindset – intersect: Islamophobia.
I went on to observe "I doubt Max will get the coverage this excellent article certainly deserves. "

He is beginning to get some coverage, though. Not by Joe Scarborough, who was bested twice by Blumenthal on Morning Joe, back in 2009. Not by Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann. He was interviewed Wednesday by RT TV:

Go read Max's article.

Bonus for Alaska readers of this article: The late Roger Ranch with a group of us, after Max's talk at the Anchorage Unitarian Fellowship in September, 2009:
images: top - Steve Aufrecht; bottom - Reesh Man

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Metro Bus Ad Controversy Heats Up in Seattle

I wrote about the beginning of this controversy on Saturday.

The KING TV report is inaccurate in respect to its calling the SMAC ads "anti-American." This is heating up. I wrote to members of the King County Council this morning. Here's my letter, which I posted through the auspices of the Washington State Jewish Action Center:

Although I live in Wasilla Alaska, I occasionally use Metro buses when visiting Seattle. It was on a visit to Seattle in 1983 that I used one of your buses to go to an exhibit of art by recently orphaned Palestinian refugee kids. Their parents had been killed in massacres in Beirut, during the Israeli invasion of that country.

Since that time, 27 years ago, the Israelis have killed many thousands of Lebanese. During their recent 2006 invasion, they gratuitously bombed fuel storage tanks south of Beirut, causing an oil spill the size of the Exxon Valdez. As their troops withdrew from Lebanon, they left behind millions of cluster bomblets, which have since injured or killed hundreds of children.

These actions could not have happened without U.S. support. Each time the Israelis launch an invasion, incursion or bombing raid with weapons they got from us – often for free – Americans might not know much of the story, but other people around the world do. Even if the consequences of Israeli war crimes are largely unknown to Americans, those consequences are real.

By putting these ads on public transit, the public will be given an opportunity to become more aware. Should the ads not be able to run, through King County action, you will share in the results that come to an uninformed population.

I would like to thank my friends at the Washington State Jewish Action Center for allowing me the space to convey this important, peace-seeking message.

As the KING TV video indicates, a demonstration is being planned outside of the King County administrative offices in Seattle, on Monday. That day, December 27th 2010, will be the second anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, which was meant to restore the reputation of the Israeli military, which had been tactically humiliated and strategically defeated by Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006.

What better way to get your reputation straightened out than to attack 1.5 million mostly unarmed civilians for three weeks, eh?

Is It Miller Time Yet?

People have been known to appeal unanimous decisions by their own state's Supreme Court to the U.S. Supreme Court. I doubt Joe Miller will do that, though.

Here's to you, Joe. As others have already noted - You're no quitter!

You can go home now. Hopefully, to Kansas.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the odyssey of Joe the Teabagger between summer and winter solstices, has been the amazing arc of his rise in popularity, from Fairbanks divorce attorney and conservative activist, to slayer of the Murkowski dynasty; followed so soon by his plummet, the beginnings of which coincided with the handcuffing of Hopfinger, to one of the most widely derided figures in Alaska political history.

And, yes. Those are the same handcuffs used by William Fulton to handcuff Tony Hopfinger, back on October 17th. I bought them from Fulton the week after Thanksgiving. Bill guarantees they are the same ones. Ray Metcalfe went in on it with me, 50/50%.

$40.00. Smith & Wesson Model M-100.

We'll Miss You, Bones!

Friend of peace and mender of bodies and souls, Roger Ranch, died early today from injuries sustained yesterday when his mobile home in South Anchorage caught fire. He leaves many friends.

Needless to say, this loss is shocking and saddening to many in the Southcentral Alaska progressive community, and in Bethel, where he worked for many years as a physician's assistant.

Many of Roger's friends are leaving tributes on facebook. Here's Linda Kellen Biegel's:
To a man who never hesitated to give his last dollar, spend that extra hour or use his last bit of energy on a cause or person he believed well, my friend. We'll continue the fight in your honor.
image by John Aronno

Thoughts on U Conn's Achievement

Listening to AM Sports talk radio this morning almost got my blood boiling. One guy after another was calling the guy announcers to dismiss the incredible achievement yesterday by the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team.

By trouncing the University of Florida Seminoles 93 to 62, the U Conn Huskies surpassed UCLA's record for consecutive victories on the basketball court. Their 89th victory in a row surpasses the 1971 to 1974 UCLA men's basketball record of 88.

The callers and announcers came up with one bullshit reason after another to downplay this record. I'm not going to go into them.

Maya Moore, the Huskies' star, scored a personal record 41 points last night. Watching her on the news clips reminded me of one of her predecessors at U Conn, Jessica Moore. Maya is from Georgia. Jessica grew up in Palmer, where she became the Alaska athlete of the year in 1998 and 1999. She went on to play on three championship teams at U Conn, finishing her last game with a torn ACL, and scoring 14 points.

I remember speaking with Jessica several times, while she was in high school, and a couple times when she came back to the Valley for the holidays during college. What I remember best about Jessica was seeing her inspire many girls and young women, and serving as a very positive example at Colony and in the local community. I took my kids to CHS women's basketball games so they could see this remarkable athlete and her excellent team mates. The kids probably got more out of watching Jessica Moore on the track, as our daughter went on to run on CHS's track and cross country teams, where Julia developed the physique and endurance that made our daughter, like Moore before her, a National NCAA champion.

From my experience as a parent, coach and volunteer in local boy's and girl's sports, I can say that athletics is a lot harder for young women than for young men. The girls just don't get the same kind or levels of community support as do the boys. Most often, the girls' basketball games are mere warmups or preludes to the boy's prime time contests.

When women excel to the degree this U Conn team has, it is seldom celebrated to the extent that comparable triumphs by men's teams seem to be. There have been some notable exceptions, though. The American Women's victory in the 1999 World Cup was widely celebrated. This achievement yesterday should be too.

Congratulations to the Husky women.

I hope you inspire thousands of girls and young women to work hard and excel.

image - former Alaska Athlete of the Year, Jessica Moore, playing at U Conn in 2004

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow-Laden Trees Today, the Shortest Day of the Year

These trees, in the late morning sun, were behind the fine arts building at UAA.

The Best Local Solstice Eclipse Photo Yet

--- from the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman's facebook photo wall

The Hallelujah Chorus - by the 5th Graders at Quinhagak School on the Kuskokwim River Coast

Judy works near Quinhagak, and a facebook friend from the Y-K Delta sent her the link to this amazing video. I'm not sure how many of these there are now - with the place cards and the Hallelujah Chorus, but these kids aced it.

Jack Bauer Interrogates Santa Claus

I was going to post the video of Eric Holder targeting Santa's workshop with a Predator drone, but the video has disappeared.

Arlen Spector Chastises the Senate, and Justices Roberts and Alito

Feminists Jaclyn Friedman and Naomi Wolf Debate Sexual Assault Charges against Assange on Democracy Now

Jaclyn Friedman, co-author of the remarkable 2009 book, Yes Means Yes, appeared on Democracy Now this morning to debate third-wave feminist Naomi Wolf about the seriousness of the sexual assault charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Part One (it is the first part of this particular debate):

Part Two:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting Ready for the Eclipse - Updated

We haven't used this old Meade telescope for several years. It tipped over a decade ago in an earthquake and some of the lever systems for fine tuning cracked or broke. I've jury-rigged it for tonight.

Update: Unlike many places, it was crystal clear on Neklason Lake. Judy, Strider
and I went out onto the ice and watched as the earth's shadow slowly covered the moon's reflected brightness. It was stunning. The telescope did not work - the gears are stripped on its lever systems. We have some good binoculars, though.

Steve Aufrecht got a series of good photos in Anchorage, before clouds obscured the moon:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Barack Hussein Hypocrisy Obama

You tell 'em, Obama:

You tell 'em Biden:

We've always been at war with Oceana Eastasia....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Go to a REAL Book Signing in Palmer Sunday - Purely Alaska: Authentic Voices from the Far North

Sunday afternoon, you can go to Fireside Books in Palmer and meet the authors of one of the most honest and authentic books written by Alaskans about the Arctic regions of our state.

You can meet the author/editors, Susan B. Andrews and John Creed.

Unlike what happened to some of the people at Sarah Palin's book signing at Costco in Anchorage on Saturday, if you disagree with Susan and John, they won't have the security people eject you.

Here's what Willie Hensley had to say about this marvelous compilation:
Purely Alaska portrays the stunning physical world of Alaska and its spectacular challenges. These stories open hearts and memories to reveal the pain and strength, the joy, endurance and faith of those who survive and thrive within Alaska's often unforgiving wintery power.
Tom Kizzia, whose stories of rural Alaska helped him share in a Pulitzer Prize, wrote:
Here are the beginnings of a true indigenous literature from modern rural Alaska. These stories describe amazing situations in matter-of-fact style. Within the raw immediacy of the writers experiences, we find great human themes of life in transition pain and loss, redemption and exaltation all depicted before the astonishing backdrop of Alaska s natural and cultural landscapes.
Susan and John have lived in Kotzebue for decades. Here's how John described their activities there and the making of this anthology, in an interview/review of the book at 49 Writers:
Since the late 1980s we have taught in the humanities at Chukchi College, UA’s branch in Kotzebue, which lies 26 miles above the Arctic Circle in Northwest Alaska. Most contributors to Purely Alaska do not live in Kotzebue or even Northwest Arctic Alaska, although all writers were living in rural Alaska when they wrote their stories. All the contributors have been our students. All but one student story was composed in a Chukchi writing class.

When we first began teaching in rural Alaska, we realized that our writing students’ subject matter might interest an audience beyond the classroom. So we started applying our journalism skills toward publishing our students in the Alaska press. Most editors welcome the opportunity to publish polished writing by rural University of Alaska students. We appreciate that.

The vast majority of our students are beginning writers, including many village students still struggling with basic, standard English in a cross-cultural setting. Most of our students have not been published before enrolling in our writing classes.
Stories were contributed by elders, by Outsiders, and by a local girl who was 11 years old when she enrolled in her college writing course with Susan and John.

John is a good friend, and one of the most courageous, giving individuals I've met in 38 years in Alaska. He and Susan will be at Fireside from 3:00 p.m. until closing, signing books and meeting more Alaskans. I'll be there too.

Seattle Bus Ads to Go Up on the 27th Marking 2nd Anniversary of Operation Cast Lead

A Seattle-based Palestinian rights group, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, will be running ads on a dozen Seattle Metro buses for a month, beginning December 27th:

Seattle Anti-Defamation League Community Director Hilary Bernstein raises the point, "Citizens young and old will be seeing this sort of propaganda, this very one-sided distortion."

Although it is true that the ads are one-sided, the point she is trying to make is absurd. When Don Young or Lisa Murkowski or Mark Begich put up huge ads this size on Anchorage buses, do their signs say "Vote for Don Young, unless you want to vote for Harry Crawford"? No. They say "Vote Don Young!" Very one-sided. That's what ads are. Excedrin doesn't mention Tylenol on their ads. Any pro-Israel group can be just as one-sided. They may do the same as SMAC.

They do.

And giving or selling weapons to Israel is clearly illegal under U.S. law. The "1976 Symington Amendment to the 1961 Foreign Appropriations Act and the Glenn Act forbids the US government from giving financial aid to any nation with nuclear weapons technology that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) and allow IAEA inspections."

The fact that a growing number of Israeli military senior officers and past elected officials cannot enter many European nations without risking immediate questioning, detention or arrest for war crimes speaks for itself.

The Pathetic Sen. John McCain

Here's John McCain this morning, in his last desperate scare tactic, trying to change votes on DADT's end:

The have no arms and no legs, Senator, because you and your ilk sent them there with a fucking pack of lies.

And you want to send thousands more to die in another useless war based upon a newer set of lies:

Captain Beefheart Passes

Pioneering musical artist Don van Vliet passed away yesterday. He was 69. Along with Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Beefheart's Magic Band was an iconoclastic ensemble that drew inspirations from all over the place. If anything, Beefheart's approach to music making was even more startling than was Zappa's. Zappa was more of a rhythmic pioneer, Beefheart more of a melodist.

Zappa and Beefheart got to know each other in high school in Lancaster California, and performed together from time to time, early in their careers. Like Zappa, Beefheart had a great interest in visual arts as well as music. He started out wanting to be a sculptor and produced many paintings and sculptures throughout his life.

I remember when his first major album, Safe as Milk, came out in 1967, friends were comparing it to Zappa's Freak Out!, which had come out the year before. Safe as Milk never became the major icon that Freak Out! was and is, but Beefheart's next big album, Trout Mask Replica, from 1969, is one of the most influential albums of all time.

Here's the band, playing two songs from the album, live in Belgium in 1969:

Beefheart was influenced soon afterward by the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. Here's his band in Detroit in 1971:

And here's a great video from his last album, Ice Cream for Crow. What a crew:
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band; directed by Don Van Vliet (with much uncredited assistance from producer Ken Schreiber), cinematography by Daniel Pearl (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre); Don Van Vliet (vocals, harp), Gary Lucas (guitar), Jeff Tepper (guitar), Rick Snyder (bass), Cliff Martinez (drums); filmed on location in the High Mojave Desert near Lancaster, California; clip rejected by MTV USA as "too weird" upon release, now in the Permanent Film and Video Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC: