Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: There is a scene in “Othello” when the Moor is so consumed by jealousy and rage that he loses the eloquence and poetry that make him the most articulate man in Venice. He turns to the audience, shortly before he murders Desdemona, and sputters, “Goats and monkeys!” Othello fell prey to wild self-delusion and unchecked rage, and his words became captive to hollow clichés. The debasement of language, which Shakespeare understood was a prelude to violence, is the curse of modernity. We have stopped communicating, even with ourselves. And the consequences will be as extreme as in the Shakespearean tragedy."
The Powell Memo and the Teaching Machines of Right-Wing Extremists
Henry A. Giroux comments for Truthout: "This is not simply a story about the rise of mean-spirited buffoons such as Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage. Nor is it simply a story about the loss of language, a growing anti-intellectualism in the larger culture, or the spread of what some have called a new illiteracy endlessly being produced in popular culture. As important as these tendencies are, there is something more at stake here which points to a combination of power, money and education in the service of creating an almost lethal restriction of what can be heard, said, learned and debated in the public sphere."
Tea Party Movement Returns Christian Right to Its Racist Past
Michelle Goldberg writes for The American Prospect (via AlterNet): "Now that popular conservatism has given itself over so avidly to racial resentment, it's curious to remember how hard the right once tried to scrub itself of the lingering taint of prejudice. Indeed, for a decade and a half the Christian right -- until recently the most powerful and visible grassroots conservative movement -- struggled mightily to escape its own bigoted history. In his 1996 book Active Faith, Ralph Reed acknowledged that Christian conservatives had been on the wrong side of the civil rights movement. 'The white evangelical church carries a shameful legacy of racism and the historical baggage of indifference to the most central struggle for social justice in this century, a legacy that is only now being wiped clean by the sanctifying work of repentance and racial reconciliation,' wrote Reed."
The Republican War Against ACORN
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "In recent days, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other major news outlets have recounted the 'troubled' history of the poor people's advocacy group ACORN, but left out the five-year anti-ACORN campaign led by White House adviser Karl Rove and other Republican operatives. Dropped down the memory hole is the fact that ACORN was at the center of the so-called 'prosecutor-gate' scandal, when the Bush administration pressured US attorneys to bring indictments over the grassroots group's voter-registration drives, then fired some prosecutors who resisted what they viewed as a partisan strategy not supported by solid evidence."
Top Ten Things You Didn't Know about Iran
Juan Cole writes for Salon.com: "Thursday is a fateful day for the world, as the U.S., other members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany meet in Geneva with Iran in a bid to resolve outstanding issues. Although Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had earlier attempted to put the nuclear issue off the bargaining table, this rhetorical flourish was a mere opening gambit and nuclear issues will certainly dominate the talks. As Henry Kissinger pointed out, these talks are just beginning and there are highly unlikely to be any breakthroughs for a very long time. Diplomacy is a marathon, not a sprint."
Congressional Grumbling Won't Stop the War
Carolyn Eisenberg writes for Truthout: "With General McChrystal requesting up to 45,000 more troops for the floundering military effort in Afghanistan, Democratic members of Congress are understandably agitated. Almost everyday, some new senator or representative goes before the television cameras to express grave concern about the apparent 'quagmire' that is emerging there. While such sentiments are to be welcomed, they are no substitute for effective action."
Afghanistan: NATO's Graveyard?
John Feffer writes for TomDispatch.com: "Celebrating its 60th birthday this year, NATO is looking peaked and significantly worse for wear. Aggressive and ineffectual, the organization shows signs of premature senility. Despite the smiles and reassuring rhetoric at its annual summits, its internal politics have become fractious to the point of dysfunction."
A Truly Shocking Gitmo Story
Andy Worthington writes for Counter Punch: In four years of researching and writing about Guantánamo, I have become used to uncovering shocking information, but for sheer cynicism, I am struggling to think of anything that compares to the revelations contained in the unclassified ruling in the habeas corpus petition of Fouad al-Rabiah, a Kuwaiti prisoner whose release was ordered last week by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (PDF). In the ruling, to put it bluntly, it was revealed that the U.S. government tortured an innocent man to extract false confessions and then threatened him until he obligingly repeated those lies as though they were the truth."
The Case of Missing Torture Documents
Nick Baumann writes for Monther Jones: "Classified Bush-era documents on the administration's controversial interrogation and rendition programs are missing, according to a recent court filing submitted by the Obama Justice Department. But a Justice Department spokeswoman says the documents may not actually be gone; they may never have existed—even though Bush administration records say that they do. Welcome to the Case of the Disappearing Torture Documents. This is more than just a bureaucratic whodunit. There's a possibility that government officials purposely destroyed records pertaining to detainee abuse."
Italy Seek Jail for US Spies in Rendition Case
Reuters reports: "An Italian prosecutor called on Wednesday for 26 Americans, all but one believed to be members of the CIA, to be jailed for between 10 and 13 years each for the kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in 2003. Public Prosecutor Armando Spataro also asked a Milan court to sentence four Italians, including the former head of Italy's Sismi secret service, to up to 13 years in prison for the abduction of Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr."
DOJ Says It's Pushing Agencies on Openness
Jennifer LaFleur reports for ProPublica: "Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli told (PDF) the Senate Judiciary Committee today that the Department of Justice is pushing federal agencies to be more transparent.In a hearing on the Freedom of Information Act, Perrelli announced guidelines for reports that FOIA officers at each agency must send to the Department of Justice annually. The instructions go "beyond the legal requirements" of FOIA, he said. Attorney General Eric Holder mandated the reports, along with the creation of a chief FOIA officer at each agency, in March, when he introduced new FOIA guidelines (PDF) to comply with President Barack Obama's call for greater transparency. Perrelli said today that 92 of 95 federal agencies have named their FOIA officer."
Why Getting Health Care Passed Is Insanely Difficult?
Brad Reed writes for AlterNet: "While our health care system threatens to bankrupt us all, it remains enormously profitable for insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and hospital chains. Such key special interests have banded together to kill national health insurance plans time and time again, from the progressives' proposals during the Wilson era to Truman's health care plan in the 1940s to Clinton's failed reform effort in the 1990s."
Congressman Grayson Has Just Begun to Fight
John Nichols writes for The Nation: "Washington Republicans are horrified, horrified, horrified by the bluntness of Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson. The tough kid from the Bronx (and Harvard Law School) who represents an until recently Republican Orlando-area district pulled no punches Tuesday, when he declared on the House floor:
"The Republican health care plan is this: Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."
After his GOP colleagues recovered from the shock of a Democrat actually calling them out, they demanded an apology.
Health Reform: Why Stakes for Women Are Especially High
Linda Feldman reports for the Christian Science Monitor: "More men than women lack health insurance in America. The breakdown of the uninsured population, to be exact, is 46 percent men, 38 percent women, and 16 percent children (those under 18), according to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. But by many other measures, women face steeper healthcare challenges than men. Women interact with the healthcare system more often, because of female-specific health needs, and so are more vulnerable to a system with soaring costs and with restrictions that hurt women specifically.
Rick Scott is Making a Killing Off the Uninsured
Tristram Korten writes for Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute (via AlterNet): "For months now multimillionaire healthcare entrepreneur Rick Scott has been at the center of the aggressive campaign to derail healthcare reform in Washington, D.C. Reprising the role he played nearly 20 years ago, when as the head of a national hospital chain he helped kill Clintoncare, the former hospital-chain executive founded the group Conservatives for Patients' Rights, raising $20 million to fight Obamacare, including $5 million of his own money. The tall, lean Scott, whose shiny bald head swivels in exasperation at the idea of government involvement in healthcare, even stars in its nationwide ad campaign comparing Democratic proposals to socialized medicine. Through this group, he has fomented the conservative strategy to disrupt town hall-style healthcare meetings around the country by shouting down elected officials. (CPR sent schedules of the meetings to so-called Tea Party activists.) He can justifiably claim some of the credit for the Senate Finance Committee's two votes Tuesday against a public option. But in Rick Scott the right has found a frontman whose baggage threatens to overwhelm his message."
Michael Moore Tells Democrats: 'Find Your Spine' on Health Care
Markham Heid writes for Medill News Service/McClatchy: "Sans video camera, filmmaker Michael Moore on Tuesday turned his megaphone on the current health care system and those Blue Dog Democrats he claims are 'dogging' the health care debate. Moore, an advocate of a single-payer, government-run health care system, called the current setup 'cruel,' and said that two-thirds of Americans support a single-payer system and would punish those Democrats who steer the conversation away from that option. 'To the Democrats in Congress,' Moore said, 'find your spine. Read the polls. And see us coming.'"
A Compass for Fair Food
Katrina Vander Heuvel writes for The Nation: "Over the years, The Nation and I have closely tracked the heroic work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) as they have fought to protect agriculture workers in the fields of Florida from exploitation. CIW has exposed cases of slavery and worked with the Department of Justice to successfully prosecute them. It has carried out a Campaign for Fair Food to raise wages and improve working conditions. In short, it has led a movement that recognizes the dignity of the people who harvest the food we eat, and rewards and protects their labor."
Organic Counts: Organic Valley Launches First Online Calculator to Measure Personal Impact of Food Choices
Eric Davis writes: "Organic Valley, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands, today launched the first online calculator that shows consumers the toxic burden prevented by their choices of organic vs. non-organic and "natural" foods. The calculator is available at www.organicvalley.coop."
Global Warming: Business Backlash Against Deniers
Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, and Zaid Jilani write for The Progress Report at Think Progress: "With the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, taking place this December, the world is looking to the U.S. to provide decisive leadership to tackle climate change. The U.S. Senate, which has been caught up in a fierce health care debate, hopes to approve climate change legislation before the U.N. conference. One of the biggest roadblocks to passing global warming legislation is the intense lobbying effort by various industry groups that have adopted extreme right-wing positions on the issue. These organizations include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). Yet many U.S. businesses that do not hold global-warming denier views have started to revolt against the extremist positions -- which are based more in ideology than business sense. Several major businesses, such as the nation's largest utility company, have left these business alliances altogether, and others are working in coalitions that are fighting to curb climate change."
Panel Voters to Restore Abstinence Education Money
The Associate Press reports: "A Senate committee voted Tuesday night to restore $50 million a year in federal funding for abstinence-only education that has pushed to eliminate. The 12-11 vote by the came over objections from its chairman, of Montana.
Remembering a "Very Human Life" Cut Short by Hate
Deb Price comments for Truthout: "On a cold night 11 years ago, a 21-year-old University of Wyoming student was lured into a pickup truck and driven to the outskirts of Laramie, where as he begged for mercy, he was tied to a fence, kicked and pistol whipped so brutally that he lapsed into a coma. He later died. He was a victim of hatred. He was also his mother's treasure. And Matthew Shepard's horrible death forced much of our nation to look at how anti-gay prejudice can explode into violence."
Drowning Out the Noise Machine
Megan Tady writes for In These Times: "Journalism is breaking my heart. Or should I say, “journalism.” Hate-mongering media extremists have captured our news networks and are using the public’s platform – our airwaves – to pick off progressive leaders like Van Jones and misinform the American people."
Senators Seek Elemination of Telecomm Spying Immunity
Truthout Newswire: " In a move to roll back the grant of retroactive immunity granted to telecommunications companies that were involved in former President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, four Democratic senators have announced the introduction of the Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act. The senators sponsoring the legislation are Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), Pat Leahy (D-Vermont), Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)."