Tuesday, November 28, 2006

US: Republican deficits

Whatever the voters’ decision, the social make-up of the next Congress, like that of the last one, will be remarkably unrepresentative of the US as a whole.  

I'm often asked weather I'm a Democrat or a Republican and my response is always the same. It seems that most folks are overly optimistic about the recent mid-term elections.  

Go and read the whole article here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Tribute to Richard Rorty

by Stuart Noble

Fuzzy Fallibilist we are not tolerant!

Open minded ancestors avoid explicit algorithms.

Great scientists seize solidarity.

Dew, blow up the optimism of imagined breakthroughs in reality.

What say the brand new Fuzzies?

Is anything really there?

Philosophers moan about matter.

Who on earth would enlighten our vocabulary?

The new rhetoric of poetry battling through the light of reason.

Veiled science boiling down the people.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Muhammad Ali and his Hip-Hop Legacy

I've posted bellow the video with lyrics to the Title track of the film, When We Were Kings. It should help make clear many of the concepts which we've been working with over the past few weeks. Perhaps, even some of the skeptics may find some small amount of appreciation for "rap" music and its social and historical context in American society.   I'll let you draw your own conclussions about the lyrics.  I do want to note that each "rapper" performs in very different styles, with differents speeds and intonations.  If taken alone, or without the underlying beat they would appear as musically unrelated to each other.  This, I think, would be quite in line with Kouwenhoven's argument about American music form.

Fugees, ATribeCalledQuest, BustaRhymes- Rumble in the Jungle

(Come on)
Root to the fruit
More bass than Bootsy Collins
You verses me
Thats like Ali verses Foreman (a-ha)
God's act, stand back and watch
Devil's time out
Can't be timed with no swatch watch
Who I am, the black Abraham
Zunga zunga zang, yellow man, Vietnam
Add an extra bar as I spar with literature
Taking kingdoms from tsars
Winning more wars than the Moors

Hey, what's the deal?
I seen the Devil spar with Allah
Mathematics was the key to set my whole race free
You might debate we, a refugee
No harm hurt me
Dying, thirsty from the struggle
To my own hustle bubble
On the low, woe is me
To show the Free Bob right
The righteous Asiatic thinker
While Satan rob light
Civilised like the Molly
Burgundy, wildy rocking
Seen the fifth when Ali clocked him
John Forte will keep you locked in

People all around
You got to recognise and witness
The Mister who swift enough to knock you out with Mic fitness
Hands blistered from holding the mics tight
Some say it's fright night
Well throw the R after the F 'Cause I'm gonna take away your breath
The bell rings and now it's just a daily operation
Yo, you saw my lubrication
You can see this occupation (The winner)
Eh, you know we're from Q-Borough
L-Booie and Clef the trainers, Prazwell promote the throw

[Lauryn Hill]
We used to bite bullets with the pig-skin casing
Now we perfect slang like a gang of street masons (uh)
Scribe check make connects
True pyramid architects (yeah)
Replace the last name with the X (X)
The man's got a God complex
But take the text and change the picture
Watch Muhammad play the messenger like Holy Muslim scriptures
Take orders from only God
Only war when it's Jihad
See Ali appears in Zaire to reconnect 400 years
But we the people dark but equal give love to such things
To the man who made the fam' remember when we were kings

Blocks on fire (Block's on fire tonight)
Fiends getting higher (uh-huh)
Robbing blue collar
(Hey yo we rob them blue collars)
Killing for a dollar (Stick 'em up)
Youths get tired (Ali ah yeah)
We're dealing with them liars (Ali ah yeah)
(We're dealing with too many liars)
From Brooklyn to Zaire (uh-huh ah yeah)
We need a ghetto Messiah (ah yeah come on)

Send me an angel in the morning, baby
Send me an angel in the morning, darling
Send me Muhammad in the morning, baby
Send me an angel in the morning, darling

[Phife Dawg]
Once the pen hits the pad it's danger
To this I be no stranger
Step inside the ring and I'll derange you (Come on)
I'm hearing no comments
Everyone looks dispondent
Dejected, rejected similiar to Liston
Catching lists
Beat it, sonny
My man is still the greatest in this
To hell with Frazier yappin' about that negative shit
Now listen, you can try and escape if you want to
But ask yourself, who the hell you gonna run to
Like Sade Abu you got a punch that I can sleep to
Fugees, Tribe, Busta Rhymes forever coming through

We sing Amazing Grace over two dollar plate
One roll snake eyes like Jake The Snake
Many lies put up for stakes
Wash our sins at the Great Lakes
You and I cannot see eye to eye
So therefore we cannot relate
I'm here when I make myself crystal clear
You fled to Cape Fear when I laced you in Zaire
Tussle with a lasso in the Royal Rumble
Seperate boys from men in the concrete jungle

[Busta Rhymes]
I remember when Cassius Clay flipped the script
Taking trips to Zimbabwe
Africans started calling the God Ali Bumbaye (so bwoy)
It be the God stricken, God nutrition, lightly stricken (ha)
Blow that make you feel like you was poison bitten
Ha yo I'm 'bout to blister you and your sister
Predicting every ass whipping before my fights my nigga
This be your last warning once you walk past the doorman
Ali and Foreman gonna lock ass until the morning
Marvellous finances provided by Joseph Mobutu
Special guests of honour like the Archbishop Desmond Tutu
We watched the Rumble In The Jungle
To see who be the targeted uncle to be the first to fall and fumble
Nuff blows they gettong thrown, like solid milestones
Internally shaking up niggas, imbalance your chromosones
With the force of a thousnad warriors
When I bust your ass identify me as the lord victorious

Blocks on fire (You're a star)
(Blocks on fire)
Fiends getting higher (You're a star)
Robbing blue collar (You're a star)
(Yeah rob them blue collars)
Killing for a dollar (You're a star)
Youths get tired (You're a star)
(Youths getting tired)
We're dealing with them liars (You're a star)
(We're dealing with too many liars)
From Brooklyn to Zaire (You're a star)
We need a ghetto Messiah

Monday, November 20, 2006

House Democrat Wants Draft Reinstated

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars.

''There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way,'' Rangel said.

from Murrow to Olbermann

The United States of NATO?

Asian businessmen are probably the friendliest conquerors the world has ever seen. But despite the politeness and the smiles, Western governments must act quickly to combat the rise of China and Asia. The West should discuss an ambitious project: a European-American free-trade zone.

Gabor Steingart’s argument for a Trans-Atlantic free-trade zone may a bit to Huntingtonian but that shouldn’t discount the discourse.

The idea of a Trans-Atlantic free-trade zone is not new but it would be prudent if we started some serious and open discussion about such a prospect.

From a European perspective (if there really is one) what should such a European-American free-trade zone look like?  What would be required of the U.S. in particular?  Do you believe American and European values are such, that differences can be reconciled or should Europe, "go it alone"?

I encourage your comments.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Agricultural Mainstay Gets a New, Urban Face

 INDIANAPOLIS — The number of family farms in America is dwindling, as is the number of young people who say they hope to take over their parents’ farms. So the National FFA Organization, once known as the Future Farmers of America, would seem doomed to a parallel fate.

But a swarm of blue corduroy jackets, not so different from the jackets the Future Farmers wore in the 1930s, seemed to fill every street corner of this city’s downtown in October for the FFA’s national convention, which the group says has grown into the largest annual student gathering in the nation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

As Al-Qaeda Makes Nuke Plans, Leahy Plans To Give Al-Qaeda Right

This is the headline I stumbled across from the Rush Limbaugh home page. He writes,

Pat Leaky Leahy, the incoming judiciary committee chairman has an idea. He wants to give Al-Qaeda habeas corpus rights. He wants to ditch the foreign surveillance legislation the president negotiated before the election, and if he doesn't ditch it, he wants to add a provision that grants Al-Qaeda prisoners of war habeas corpus rights.

This extremely authoritarian propaganda is even more sinister than the lies and deception spread during and leading up to the passage of the Military Commissions Act. Remember, it was all about torture. It was hoped that people wouldn’t be paying attention and that the bill would just slip thru and go into law.

Now Mr. Limbaugh has no quarrels about indoctrinating his listeners outright, Habeas Corpus is dangerous in the hands of terrorist. Habeas Corpus is dangerous in the hands of anyone the State considers might possibly be a threat. It’s following the Neo-conservative rationale of pre-emptive military action and applying it to individuals.  It would be just a bit easier to brush aside if he didn’t have 20 million daily listeners.

He then continues,

Patrick Leahy has let it be known, he's let the terrorists all over the world know it, that he and his Democrats are their protectors.

That just goes beyond the pale.

The headline from UPI reads,

Leahy aims at giving habeas corpus

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is expected to take over as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and The (Calif.) Daily Journal reports that Leahy is drafting a bill to undo portions of the new law in an effort to give habeas corpus rights for enemy combatants.

Give Habeas Corpus? Does anyone remember a time when this sort of language didn’t even exist in the public consciousness? With all do respect to those fighting against this assault on basic liberty, the very fact that the public has come to a place where the right to Habeas Corpus is something that can be given or taken and fought amongst politicians and courts is truly alarming. This fact alone should give us great pause.

Enemy Combatants (we need to ditch this irrational term) are entitled to the fundamental right of Habeas Corpus just as much as anyone else accused of a crime. The problem for most of the detainees is that they have not even been accused of a crime.

For those Americans who somehow have come to the conclusion that only some people are entitled to basic civil rights, the Military Commissions Act threatens to strip potentially ANYONE of the protection of Habeas Corpus.

On the legal front, lawyers representing detainees have petitioned the US court of appeals in D.C. Military Commissions Act argued unconstitutional. There is a lot of movement in the legal arena but folks should not assume that the courts will uphold the constitution.

This is far from over and the neo-conservative legacy will remain for years to come. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that a Democratic house will respect and uphold fundamental constituitional rights in the future. Many Dems actually voted for the MCA. Remember, without Habeas Corpus, what have you got?


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Democracy wins HUGE victory!

Well, its huge for some 1,5 million Americans. There were several ballot initiatives in many states and municipalities across the U.S. on Tuesday. This fact alone gives evidence to democracy in action despite what many believe to be a corrupted, two-party, corporate bought electoral system.

When analyzing the various initiatives and the results, coupled with the congressional outcome, its hard to argue that core values in the U.S. are not moving to the left. I had come across another site (which I hope to find for you) that reported the percentages. In nearly every case, those progressive issues which failed; ie., marijuana legalization lost by very small margins. The inverse is true of the bans on same sex marriage. I would argue that the ban on same sex marriage is not representative of increasing intolerance of gays but an attempt to hold on to tradition.

The most important victory for democracy was however the ballot initiatives in four municipalities (representing some 1,5 million people) which passed on Tuesday.

IRV and Ranked Voting: Undefeated in 2006
Big wins in Oakland, Davis, Minneapolis,Pierce County

IRV and ranked choice voting advocates celebrated on November 7th with wins of 68%-32% in Oakland (CA) and 65%-35% in Minneapolis (MN) and, with ballots still to be counted likely to increase the margins slightly, 54%-46% in Davis (CA) and 53% to 47% in Pierce County (WA).

The wins in Davis and Minneapolis marked the first ballot measure wins for choice voting, the proportional voting version of IRV, in a half-century. Stay tuned for a full FairVote report on the victories and state and congressional elections that underscore the value of IRV in our politics.

Since instant runoff voting's ground-breaking win in March 2002 in San Francisco, it has been on the ballot in eight cities and counties. The result? 8-0.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld stepping down

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon, Republican officials said Wednesday. 

Timing is everything.  So why step down now?  Why not "stay the course"?  Can you say congressional investigations?

Daily Show Midterm election explantion

I just couldn't resist.

Woman to take 2nd highest position in America

This is certainly huge. The significance has perhaps been overlooked due the general focus on the political parties and the balance of power shifts in American politics. But this will go down as a watershed in American history.

As to how she may set the agenda for governance it should be noted that she voted against the war in 2002, against renewal of the Patriot Act, against the Military Commissions Act, and against the Department of Homeland Security.

She is not a centrist democratic, she represents the more progressive wing of the party so the challenge is uniting a fragmented party during a time the nation is torn in two and steering the ship of state somewhere closer to the political center.

I don’t think however, that it was lost on the voters that voting the Democrats in power would place the congressional agenda in the hands of the left-wing Democrats.


Dems take House as GOP clings to Senate

It looks like our Panel predictions were spot on.  


South Dakota Voters Reject Abortion Ban

 "Even in one of the most conservative states, Americans will not stand by and allow politicians to endanger the lives and health of women by restricting their constitutional rights."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dem/Rep Congressional Split?

 I found this take on why the house might split Dem/Rep in the Midterm election extremely interesting.  

After all, it is the Senate that must approve Supreme Court appointments and voters may still favor conservative appointments...   In other words, if voters want their unhappiness with the war in Iraq to be heard while still endorsing the social issues they seem to favor, the best solution would be to elect a Democratic House and maintain a Republican Senate.

The Cold War on DR 2

Denmark's DR 2 has been running a documentary titled Den Kolde Krig (The Cold War) which airs nightly at 19:10 thru the rest of the week. Tonight’s episode is "After Stalin 1953-56". Last night’s episode mapped out parallel historical timelines between the McCarthy Era in the U.S. and Stalin’s Gulags in the USSR. This may not be anything new for you with history and international affairs backgrounds but it’s a top class documentary none the less. 

Sunday, November 05, 2006

from Main Street to Fargo

If you haven't seen the film"Fargo" you are in for a treat.  If you have, I recomend it again. A great many of us have been reading Sinclair Lewis' "Main Street" for our upcomming lecture. Fargo, North Dakota in the 1990's is not that different from the fictional Gopher Praire, Minnesota of 1920. The character accents are brilliant, 3rd generation Scandinavian-American accents. The backdrop of the film is a bleak picture of anytown midwestern suburbia; drab, mundane, utterly boring.  Its not so much that the stories are so similar as the settings.  TV's and shopping malls aside, not much else has changed in the last 80 years.

Check out the trailer below.

Fargo (Trailer)

Friday, November 03, 2006

TV2 on Texas Polititcs

Denmark's TV2 just ran a spot (Friday 3 November 2006 19:00) on Kinky Friedman who is running as an independent for governor of Texas in the upcomming elections. This was a huge but welcome surpirse. Kinky is by far the most colorful candidate anywhere on the ticket in America.

Go take a look at the official Kinky Friedman for Governor website.

For a look at the latest polls check out Rasmussen Reports.

If the polls are right, incumbent Rick Perry (R) would win the election with only 35% of the vote. Yes, that means that he could become governor of the second most populous state with 65% (or possibly more) of the voters NOT voting for him.

Rethinking American History in a Post-9/11 World

This is the article that I had spoken of. It has some of the themes that were in Eric Foner's lecture; The Idea of Freedom in the United States: Before and After September 11

It was a great lecture, we should consider ourselves fortunate to have had him. Hat tip to the faculty at Sudansk Universitet.

"No idea is more quintessentially American than freedom. And throughout our history, in moments of crisis, the question of freedom -- what it is, why it is worth defending, who should enjoy it -- seems to come to the fore."
Eric Foner

Dixie Chicks Shut up and Sing Trailer

Well, the Dixie Chicks aren't the only ones ashamed W is from Texas.

America: From Freedom to Fascism Trailer 2

Power to the People

by Paul Harris

"But every so often (and definitely not often enough) it actually pays to look down the food chain right to the bottom. And down there lies a facet of American democracy that is little understood by many people outside the country and yet perhaps can represent the best example of American democracy in action."

"Britain has much to learn from this little reported side of American political life. Others do too."

Democrats Seek Revenge for Clinton Years

The Democrats are pushing their way back into power, and in next week's US congressional elections they could even end the Republicans' long-standing stranglehold on power. But not even the stars in America's opposition party have a plan for the country's future course.

Fast Food Nation

If you thought "Super Size Me" was provocative...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The mid-terms Watching from afar

What of the rest of the world? Presidential elections usually whip up global interest, reasonably so given the president’s dominance of foreign policy. The congressional poll, in contrast, provokes mostly yawns. This time, with Democrats apparently poised to make big gains partly because of foreign affairs, there may be more reason than usual for outsiders to pay attention.