Raise your hand if you’re a bit nervous

In Palin Rallies Ignite Widespread Talk of ‘Fascism’, Jeffrey Feldman says that because he published a book recently on the harm done to U.S. democracy by violent rhetoric, he gets called a lot when it’s published a book recently on the harm done to U.S. democracy by violent rhetoric, I get lots of calls when people here it. He says that while fascist isn’t an accurate description of Sarah Palin, the concern and conditions that her rallies engender is worth noting.

The most common point brought to my attention in this new concern for Palin is that her events remind people of the kind of ‘rallies’ people have seen in old newsreels and exhibition photographs in history museums about the fascist period.

Many people have said to me, in so many words, ‘I went to a Holocaust museum, recently, and the kinds of rallies they had in the 1930s are exactly what we are seeing now at these Palin events.’

…Interestingly, I have heard these observations from Democrats and Republicans. The logic is that it is not just one feature of the Palin events that leads people see them as ‘rallies’ of the sort they have learned about in history museums, but three elements combining together: claims of Obama’s covert terrorist ties and desire to see the military fail, combined with voiced calls for harm to Sen. Obama.

I confess that I was a lot less nervous about Palinmania before I saw this photo titled Put her out of her misery, please from bobster1985. I’m guessing he’s not going to be voting for her. These people probably won’t either.

Physics makes me strong, Hathead

America (in the form of Science Debate 2008) asked Barack Obama about science, and Obama answered (John McCain said he will answer).

SD2008: National Security. Science and technology are at the core of national security like never before. What is your view of how science and technology can best be used to ensure national security and where should we put our focus?

O-man: Technology leadership is key to our national security. It’s essential to create a coherent new defense technology strategy to meet the kinds of threats we may face—asymmetric conflicts, urban operations, peacekeeping missions, and cyber, bio, and proliferation threats, as well as new kinds of symmetric threats.

You get the sense by reading his answers that he actually has thought about these issues a little. About darn time.

About the image: Obama Man by Alex Ross can be gotten on a shirt if you ripped yours off or something. It’s part of Rob’s San Diego Comi-con set and they’re tailor made for the awesome might of Cooliris. Rob can also be found at Attack Cat.

Take a point if you didn’t need Google to interpret the title.

Another Marshall Plan.

I’m not old enough to remember the Marshall Plan, or as Wikipedia sez, the “European Recovery Program”.

Major governmental initiatives I remember are mostly wars on nebulous foes like Drugs, Terror and  Objectionable Record Lyrics. Somewhere before I reached awareness that We the People of the United States of America could actually focus change through our government, We the People seemed to lose our collective appetite for ambitious campaigns. Maybe Vietnam and the social struggles of the 60s and 70s beat the New Dealing, Marshall Planning, Space Racing, Great Societizing impulse right out of us.

Whatever it is, the last 30 years have seen a nation that has attempted little that could be called ambitious, preferring instead to coast into the future. Unfortunately, neither the rest of the world or the world itself seems content to stop pedaling, and we’re left blearily standing on the curb watching the future race past us as we wonder if we’ll end up in the second or third world … or if there will indeed be a world for us or our children.

I heard yesterday that the average child in our country has a higher level of anxiety than the average institutionalized child in the 1950s. A large percentage of the population is dramatically strapped by energy, food and other prices that are outstripping income. We’re mired in war in two nations and unable to do more than watch as the Russian bear goes on the hunt again and tyrants the world around decide the paths of nations.

Our response? Drill here, drill now?

I hope that if nothing else, our dire situation will focus us to make a massive investment in the future of our country, our people and the peoples of all the world.

The photo is titled Jumptacular and that’s my family.

Shadows in the night

Through Wired I learned of Trevor Paglen and his photography of “black satellites”. Paglen has an exhibit at UC-Berkley, where they explain something about him:

Paglen’s nearly constant subject is the “black world” of the United States government, and through research and visualization he attempts to outline the edges and folds of this hidden world of military and intelligence activities. Whether photographing secret military bases from fifty miles away, or imaging spy satellites in the heavens from earth, Paglen’s photographs embody the limits of visibility, imposed both by the realities of physical distance and by informational obfuscation, that keep us as citizens from seeing and knowing these subjects on our own.

If you head over to paglen.com you can see all kinds of Things That Maybe Should Not Be Seen including code names, limit telephotography and his book I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Black World and an interview with Paglen from The Colbert Report. There’s also a link to a New York Times review of his book that includes a slideshow of the patches. Here’s a couple excerpts:

…The classified budget of the Defense Department, concealed from the public in all but outline, has nearly doubled in the Bush years, to $32 billion. That is more than the combined budgets of the Food and Drug Administration, the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

…“Oderint Dum Metuant,” reads a patch for an Air Force program that mines spy satellite images for battlefield intelligence, according to Mr. Paglen, who identifies the saying as from Caligula, the first-century Roman emperor famed for his depravity. It translates “Let them hate so long as they fear.”

…What sparked his interest, Mr. Paglen recalled, were Vice President Dick Cheney’s remarks as the Pentagon and World Trade Center smoldered. On “Meet the Press,” he said the nation would engage its “dark side” to find the attackers and justice. “We’ve got to spend time in the shadows,” Mr. Cheney said. “It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”

Huge black budgets, US military units taking their mottos from one of the most terrifying figures in history and a growing shadow government … not the cheeriest things to contemplate.

Cults are bad, right?

“And during the few moments that we have left, we want to talk right down to
earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand.”
~Malcolm “X” El Hajj Malik El Shabazz

dETROITfunk has reeled out a kickin post: Cult of Personality. I think you should check it out.

Video extra: Cult of Personality from Living Colour. I can’t embed that one, so here’s another:


Bullet Train

Untitled by Zoriah

This morning on NPR I heard Brian Turner discussing and reading from his book Here Bullet. Boinging Boing-Boing:

Here, Bullet
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

You can read more and hear author Brian Turner read over at NPR.

About the Photo: It was taken by Zoriah. Be sure to view it bigger. Zoriah works in humanitarian photojournalism. Zoriah’s war slideshow is a powerful place to start.

Please check out some of these links and consider the fact that we’ve been at war in Iraq for longer than World War II (and WW I) and the Civil War. Longer in fact than any war save the Revolutionary War and Vietnam.

peace on earth

peace on earth by j image

I’ve been busy and neglectful of this blog, but it is what it is. When I saw this photo from Jim with the simple title of peace, I thought it would be great to share with you. He writes:

peace – n. [pees]
1. a state of mutual harmony between people or groups; esp. in personal relations
2. the normal, nonwarring condition of a nation or the world

I hope that you enjoy great harmony in all your relations in the coming years, and also that we soon come as a nation and as a world to a state of peace.

I also hope that you take some time to look through Jim’s photos and make them a regular stop. Trust me, you will be happier and more at peace if you do.

They’re just LINES … aren’t they?

me da medio (it gives me fear)

According to the boringly titled Military Expands Intelligence Role in U.S. in the New York Times, the CIA and US Military are apparently using something called “noncompulsory national security letters” to request the financial records of Americans suspected of terrorism & espionage. Congress rejected attempts by both agencies to issue mandatory letters 5 years ago but banks and other institutions are complying with the requests.

Some national security experts and civil liberties advocates are troubled by the C.I.A. and military taking on domestic intelligence activities, particularly in light of recent disclosures that the Counterintelligence Field Activity office had maintained files on Iraq war protesters in the United States in violation of the military’s own guidelines. Some experts say the Pentagon has adopted an overly expansive view of its domestic role under the guise of “force protection,” or efforts to guard military installations.

“There’s a strong tradition of not using our military for domestic law enforcement,” said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel at both the National Security Agency and the C.I.A. who is the dean at the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific. “They’re moving into territory where historically they have not been authorized or presumed to be operating.”

Similarly, John Radsan, an assistant general counsel at the C.I.A. from 2002 to 2004 and now a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, said, “The C.I.A. is not supposed to have any law enforcement powers, or internal security functions, so if they’ve been issuing their own national security letters, they better be able to explain how they don’t cross the line.”

If we are allowing the CIA and military to violate their charters now, how would those powers multiply following a terrorist incident? I am certainly not advocating the government turn a blind eye toward domestic terrorism or espionage. What I most certainly do advocate is using this thing called the FBI to investigate these cases. There are very good reasons that the CIA and military are supposed to be barred from such activities, not the least of which is guarding against waking up to the orders of Generalissimo Presidente…

About the photo: Me Da Miedo translates as “It Gives Me Fear”. The photo was taken by Venuz in Bogata, Columbia. 2 years of college Spanish aside, I can’t read the comments on the photo…