Archive for October, 2007

Left-wing podcasting is here

Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Podcast

You can now click on the sidebar to be taken to the new official podcast companion to the Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations blog.

The podcast is devoted to presenting unique discussions, debates, news commentary and academic lectures to the public from a broadly left-wing or socialist perspective.  Occasionally podcasts will be hosted by myself and my lovely co-host (AKA girlfriend) Kimberlee.  At other times, the podcasts will feature academic or activist speeches or talks on a variety of subjects ranging from resisting the U.S. Empire to capitalism to media propaganda to philosophy to socialism and to many, many, other topics.  Notable featured figures that I’ve already lined up include Noam Chomsky, Alex Callinicos, Tariq Ali, Naomi Klein and Cornel West.

Episode #1 featuring Noam Chomsky is already uploaded and ready to go for your listening pleasure.  I did have one minor glitch with the podcasting host’s promotional material — the 10 second spot didn’t go where I wanted it to go, so it interrupts Chomsky for about 10 seconds before coming back to him (you don’t miss anything, though).  I’ll definitely iron out this glitch for Episode #2 which will feature a talk on empire and Imperialism by Alex Callinicos. 

You can subscribe to the Paulitics podcast in any of the following ways:

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 ← (the generic podcast RSS feed URL)

For more information (such as subscribing to the podcast even if you don’t have an iPod) go to the podcasting FAQ at the bottom of the page here.

Kettle calls the teapot black: Bush calls Cuba “criminal”

Yesterday, U.S. President George W. Bush took Orwellian audacity to a new level by calling the Cuban government “criminal.”

In a speech, Bush stated that “America will have no part in giving oxygen to a criminal regime victimizing its own people…. The operative word in our future dealings with Cuba is not ‘stability’. The operative word is ‘freedom’.” (source)

To the surprise of no one, the fact that this statement was akin to the kettle calling the teapot black was lost on the members of both the United States and the Canadian press.

So, just to re-cap:

U.S.: One of the few countries left in the world which still executes children. Moreover, “The country which has carried out more documented executions of child offenders than any other since 1990 is the USA.” (source)
Cuba: Has executed zero children. Official government policy believes executing children to be not only illegal but also offensive. (ibid)

U.S.: Engaged in two wars of aggression in the past 6 years (Afghanistan offered to give up Osama bin Laden, but the U.S. refused, saying that war was preferable – source). Moreover, the U.S. has historically either directly or indirectly overthrown democratically-elected governments or given material support to brutal dictators in: Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Pakistan, Columbia, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines, South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo just to name a few.
Cuba: Engaged in zero wars of aggression. Ever. (But did try unsuccessfully to overthrow the U.S.-backed Congolese dictatorship over 40 years ago).

U.S.: Has imposed crushing economic sanctions on the people of Cuba since the 1960s which Amnesty international notes has greatly contributed to the suffering of the Cuban people and economy (source).
Cuba: Was the first country to offer medical aid to the United States following the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. Cuba offered more than 1000 doctors and over 26 tons of medical supplies (source). Incidentally, the U.S. government refused the assistance because FEMA was doing a “heck of a job”.

U.S.: Prison system widely considered to be in violation of singed international treaties on basic human rights of dignity. Also imprisons prisoners of conscience. (source)
Cuba: No “supermax” facilities. Extremely ill and infirm criminals permitted to leave prison for house arrest on humanitarian grounds. Cuba also imprisons prisoners of conscience similar to the United States’s practice. (source)criminal-us-colonies-1775-a.png

Just about the only thing Cuba can be accused of is overthrowing the U.S.-backed dictator Batista in 1959.

But then again, if violent revolution is grounds for being labelled a “criminal” then the British would have a fair case for imposing a “freedom fund” on the United States until it overthrows the “criminal” U.S. government which, after all, arose out of the “criminal” government set up by the 13 Colonies.

Now THAT I’d pay to see (that is, of course, assuming U.K. Prime Minister Brown could first extricate himself from his predecessor’s position firmly inside George W. Bush’s colon. A big assumption, I know).

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12 reasons same-sex marriage will ruin society [funny]

Hat tip to the brilliant writers at the Gator Gay-Straight Alliance based out of the University of Florida for this fantastic work!

12 reasons same-sex marriage will ruin society

1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control are not natural.

2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people cannot get legally married because the world needs more children.

3. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children because straight parents only raise straight children.

4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful, since Britney Spears’s 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.

5. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and it hasn’t changed at all: women are property, Blacks can’t marry Whites, and divorce is illegal.

6. Gay marriage should be decided by the people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of minorities.

7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are always imposed on the entire country. That’s why we only have one religion in America.

8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people makes you tall.

9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage license.

10. Children can never succeed without both male and female role models at home. That’s why single parents are forbidden to raise children.

11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven’t adapted to cars or longer lifespans.

12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a “separate but equal” institution is always constitutional. Separate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as separate marriages will for gays & lesbians.

Propaganda in Action: Government-Fed News in the Turkey/Iraq Crisis

Is it state-sponsored propaganda yet?

I was reading up on the recent offensive Turkish incursion into Iraq in the New York Times (here) and at first I didn’t notice too much out of the ordinary (other than, of course, that the Turkish government is portrayed as angels having done nothing themselves). But, as an interesting exercise, then I decided to look at the sourcing that the putatively ‘liberal’ New York Time newspaper — the publication ‘of record’ — used to file this story. Needless to say, if you are interested in looking, you’ll find that, if this is the situation in the supposedly ‘best’ publication in the U.S., the situation is much the same, if not worse, in most other ‘lesser’ publications.

What’s the difference between this and the darkest days of the state-sponsored propaganda in Germany or the USSR? The difference is that in Germany and the USSR they actually knew they were being fed a purely government-endorsed viewpoint.

Here is a copy of the article as it appears today with the sources highlighted. Notice that the only time the socialist PKK party is supposedly cited is when the Times emphasizes that there is no proof of the “rebel’s” claim to have captured Turkish soldiers.

12 Turkish Soldiers Killed in Rebel Attack

By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: October 21, 2007

ISTANBUL, Oct. 21 — At least 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in an ambush by Kurdish militants shortly after midnight on Sunday, in an audacious attack that sharply increased the pressure on Turkey’s government to send troops into northern Iraq.

A group of Kurdish fighters moved into Turkey from northern Iraq, the Turkish military said, and attacked Turkish soldiers based near the town of Hakkari, about 25 miles from the border, in three different locations, killing 12 and injuring another 16. Turkish soldiers then struck back, firing from helicopters and from the ground, killing at least 23 militants, according to the military, which provided its account in a statement.

In a statement on a Kurdish website, the militants said they captured eight Turkish soldiers, but the claim could not be substantiated.

The attack came just four days after Turkey’s parliament voted to give the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan full authority to send troops into northern Iraq to strike at Kurdish militants who hide there.

At the time, Turkish officials emphasized that they would not immediately apply the authority, and security experts said the resolution would be used mainly as political leverage to press the United States and its Iraqi Kurdish allies to act against the Kurdish militants, the Kurdistan Workers Party, known by its initials, the P.K.K.

But Sunday’s attack was one of the worst in recent memory, and the government, which has been skeptical of an offensive in the past, will be under intense pressure to act.

“With this incident, the arrow left the bow, and no room is left for the government to hesitate, postpone or fail to launch a cross border operation,” said Armagan Kuloglu, a retired Turkish major general, in a telephone interview. “If the government resists ordering a military operation, such a step would endanger its existence and credibility.”

In Ankara, Turkey’s capital, Mr. Erdogan called an emergency security meeting among Turkey’s top political and military officials for 8 p.m.

“Our anger is great,” Mr. Erdogan [the Pro-U.S. Turkish Prime Minister] said on national television in Istanbul, where he was casting his vote in a national referendum.

In a veiled reference to the United States, he [the Pro-U.S. Turkish Prime Minister] said: “I especially want you to know that we do not have any thoughts as to what one side or another would have to say about this.”

President Jalal Talabani of Iraq, speaking at a news conference on Sunday with another of Iraq’s senior Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani, urged the militants to end their attacks on Turkey, The Associated Press reported.

“But if they insist on the continuation of fighting, they should leave Kurdistan, Iraq, and not create problems here,” Mr. Talabani [U.S.-supported President of Iraq] said, according to the A.P.

“We are not going to be caught up in the P.K.K. and Turkish war,” said Mr. Barzani, the president of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, Reuters reported, “but if the Kurdistan region is targeted, then we are going to defend our citizens.”

Interestingly, the L.A. Times has a completely different tactic than the N.Y. Times in sourcing this story. Namely, the L.A. Times decides that it’s just easier if they don’t cite anybody as a source for anything they are writing about until over halfway through the article. (Although, in the second half of their article, the L.A. Times does follow the N.Y. Times lead of citing only pro-U.S. Iraqi sources such as Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Iraqi MP and government ally Abdul Kareem Enizi. Although they do give a one-sentence line to Suleiman Barwari, a 51-year-old civilian resident of Zakho who’s quotation merely says “The regional government should not let the two sides finish their internal fights on our lands”). [source]

See also:

Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?

Propaganda in Action: Canada as a force for peace in the world

Propaganda in Action: The release of the British sailors

Propaganda in Action: The Iranian Hostage Crisis

Propaganda in Action: The closure of the Hershey plant

Propaganda in Action: The Death of Pinochet

Crazy, stupid and just plain weird things people google search for

Regular readers of Paulitics may remember that a while back I held the first annual ‘Paulies” awards for outstanding humorousness, weirdness or stupidty in a blog comment.

Well, I’ve collected all of the outrageous google search terms that people have used to find my blog and all I can say is that there are some weird people out there.

So, another round of Paulies are in order, this time, for the categories of overwhelming weirdness and outstanding stupidity in a google search term.

Just as before, it should be noted that much like the Oscars, yes, the Paulies are also political (and rigged). And, also like he Oscars, the Academy for the Paulies (i.e., me) considers it an honour just to be nominated.

For the first category: overwhelming weirdness in a google search term, the nominees are:

Paul’s thoughts on religion

For a while, I was actually the #1 search result when people searched for this. Seriously. Me. Not St. Paul. Not Pope John Paul II. Paul from Paulitics. Just more proof blogs are fantastic institutions.

list of top canadian people

Sorry to disappoint, but if you searched for “top canadian people” and google brought you to me, then google really has to work on their algorithm.

what can paul do me us

I don’t know whether this person was searching for me or Ron Paul, but either way, I highly doubt that either of us will be “doing” either “you” or “us”

famously undesirable quality

Ouch. Google this and and you get me?

commie

Okay, now this one I’m kinda proud of.

paulitics.wordpress.com

Somebody not understand how search engines on the internets work?

something to do for Paul

I don’t know, I could use a chauffeur to drive me places.

asian reporter

Seriously, I get at least 3 people finding my blog by searching for this every freakin’ day.

asian reporter trisha Takanawa

…Or this.

paul’s empire

DANCE minions, DANCE!

great Atheists

Again, I’m terribly sorry, you’ve searched for great atheists and found me.

what does communism say about children

It says we like children… FRIED!

What does astroglide smell like?

WTF?

funny jesus one lines

Umm…. no!

reality sucks

Why would somebody google search this??

testicular

I’m certain that this person didn’t find what they’re looking for. Please, please, please oh god let this person not have found what they were looking for!

all about hitler

That sounds like a variety show.

Ron Paul or Death!

Death!

And the winner of the Paulie is…

BEST JESUS QUOTES

“For my next miracle, I’m going to turn water into… FUNK!”

[cue music]

Now for the category you’ve all been waiting for…

In the second category: outstanding stupidity in a google search term, the nominees are:

how many legs do monkey have?

Are you kidding me?

ron paul personality

Sorry, he doesn’t have a personality to speak of.

When does sex start?

It starts shortly after you stop googling “when does sex start?”, and start meeting people!

is canada a capitalist or socialist country?

And they say the U.S. education system is deteriorating?

ron paul seems like a socialist

Well then.

But the hands down, uncontested winner of the Paulie is…

Why God doesn’t agree with socialism?

I’m truly speechless with this one. This person has clearly been told that “socialism makes baby Jesus cry” and so they decided that the place to go for the AUTHORITATIVE WORD OF GOD was a google search!

[cue music]

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My girlfriend wants me to dedicate this post to her since she’s been telling me to do this for some time now.  So, I hope this was everything you had hoped it to be sweetie, happy anniversary!

Poll: Do you support the conservatives or oppose helping children? WTF!

In their latest poll released yesterday, the Angus Reid polling firm published samples of some of the questions they asked respondents about the Harper Conservative government.

Here’s a sample of some of the “questions” they asked.

Anything seem, how shall I say, ‘not right’ about these questions to anyone else?  This is borderline push polling.

Script: “How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the way the government has dealt with the following issues?” [...]

“Cleaning up government by passing the Federal Accountability Act?

“Helping parents with the cost of raising their children?”

“Making our streets and communities safe by cracking down on crime?”

“Working with the provinces to establish a Patient Wait Times Guarantee?”

(source)

In a related matter, Stephen Harper has recently come out in opposition to urinating on the elderly, do you support him in this matter?

~ ~ ~ 

This poll reminded me of one of my favourite thinkers in the field of opinion manipulation and the mass media.  If anybody gets the chance, or is interested, there is a fantastic academic writer named Benjamin Ginsberg (he unfortunately shares the same name with George W. Bush’s lawyer in the 2000 Presidential race) who writes on matters of polling and opinion manipulation in democratic societies.  One of his  famous works is The Captive Public: How Mass Opinion Promotes State Power.  In this work Ginsberg holds that the problem with polling and polls is that it domesticates and placates opinions whereas prior to polling, the realm of politics was animated by political action and behaviour which tended to me more dangerous to élites and the state.

Here is a brief selection from Ginsberg’s The Captive Public:

“Prior to the advent of polling, public opinion could often only be inferred from political behavior… The advent of polling transformed public opinion from a behavioral to an attitudinal phenomenon.  Polls elicit, organize, and publicize opinion without requiring any action on the part of the opinion holder…. From the perspective of political elite, the obvious virtue of polls is that they make it possible to recognize and deal with popular attitudes… before they materialize in some unpleasant, disruptive, or threatening form of political action…. By converting opinion from a behavioral to an attitudinal phenomenon, polling is, in effect, also transforming public opinion into a less immediately threatening and dangerous phenomenon.”

A progressive counter-ribbon to “support our troops” [pics]

We’ve all seen the annoying “support our troops” ribbons like these ones below. Usually they can be found on the backs of cars of people who supposedly “support out troops” while the rest of us leftist heathens presumably have to be physically restrained from spitting and throwing stones at passing soldiers.

support-our-troops-yellow.PNG support-our-troops-legion.PNG

Or, conversely, there are also variants of these ribbons taken to their tacky and exploitative natural conclusion such as this wonderfully cheesy ribbon which, I kid you not, is actually a real product that some capitalist somewhere came up with:

Seriously, how many clichés can you fit into one image?

Scott Neigh had some interesting points talking about how we on the left can fight back against the right’s jingoistic, vacuous phrase “support our troops”.

While Scott Neigh’s points are definitely worth reading (as are all of his writings, for that matter), he concludes that there aren’t really any good, coherent counter-attacks against the “support our troops” trope. Specifically, Scott points out the problems with the current counter-attack “Support our troops: Bring them home”.

So, with that in mind, I took it upon myself to come up with a unique, concise and coherent counter-attack to the “support our troops” ribbon.

At first, I thought about simply translating the French anti-war ribbons like this one:

non-a-la-guerre.PNG

(translation: “No to war”)

But then I came up with this idea which is even simpler and hits even closer to the heart of what we on the left, I think, are actually wanting to say.

Most importantly, there’s no way that this ribbon could be more clear. It is, quite simply:

stop-killing-people-black-ribbon.PNG

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If you’re interested in posting the “stop killing people” ribbon on your blog or website, just copy the following html code and paste it wherever you’d like the image to appear (it won’t link back to this blog or this post).


Resources:

home page polling resource

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