Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We've Moved!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go to our new site at:

www.thedailybanter.com



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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More Important Than Boxing

Long before Thomas Hauser turned his literary eye to boxing, he was a writer with serious political credentials. One of his books ('Missing') served as the basis for the Academy-Award-winning Costa- Gavres film starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. Another Hauser work ('Final Warning') made its way to the screen as 'Chernobyl: The Final Warning' starring Jon Voight and Jason Robards. Each year, Hauser reaches out to boxing fans who read Secondsout.com with an article of political note. This year's work 'More Important Than Boxing: 2007' deserves the widest distribution possible. The Daily Banter is pleased to share it with our readers.

More Important Than Boxing: 2007


By Thomas Hauser

We don't stop being citizens when we enter the world of sports. With that in mind, once a year I use this space to address issues that are more important than boxing.

Democracy should be practiced, not just celebrated. One of the most troubling aspects of George Bush’s tenure in office has been his assault on the judicial underpinnings of American democracy. Despite his rhetoric, Mr. Bush has dishonored the fundamental traditions of American justice. Anyone who isn't outraged at what he has done isn't paying attention.

U.S. Attorneys who refuse to conduct criminal investigations in accord with political commands from the White House have been removed from office.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby (Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff) was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice after lying to federal agents and to a grand jury which was investigating the leak of the name of a CIA operative. He was sentenced to thirty months in prison; but before he could be incarcerated, Mr. Bush commuted his sentence. The commutation had all the earmarks of buying Libby’s silence. Thanks to the president, Mr. Libby (who commited a crime that bears directly on national security) served less time in jail than Paris Hilton.But the most grotesque aspect of the Bush Administration’s distortion of justice has been its repeated violation of constitutional rights and reliance upon torture as a tool in the “war on terror.”

There was a time when the United States stood as a beacon of hope for the proposition that human rights are deserving of respect. Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (to which the U.S. is a signatory) prohibits, “mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture” in addition to the “humiliating and degrading treatment” of detainees. In autumn 2007, the United States Supreme Court ruled that military detainees in the “war on terror” must be treated in accord with the Geneva Conventions. In response, Mr. Bush issued an executive order of dubious legality that simply reclassified the detainees.

The Bush Administration now takes the position that detainees can be held indefinitely and do not have a right to contest their detention in federal court or before another neutral decision-maker. Suspects are imprisoned in undisclosed locations without counsel or notification to their families. Many of them are interrogated in secret prisons in Afghanistan, Thailand, and Eastern Europe, where their captors rely on interrogation techniques developed by the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the former Soviet Union. These techniques include waterboarding, sleep deprivation, prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, and beatings.

The Bush Administration’s guidelines for officially-sanctioned torture allow for everything but “extreme acts causing severe pain of the sort that accompanies serious physical injury leading to death or organ failure.” In other words, it’s permissible to break someone’s leg with a crowbar. That might be an “extreme act causing severe pain of the sort that accompanies serious physical injury” but it wouldn’t necessarily “lead to death or organ failure.”

One can make a rational argument in support of the use of torture in certain limited, clearly-defined, closely-regulated instances. Suppose, for example, the authorities know that a nuclear weapon is about to be detonated on American soil and believe that a detainee has information which, if revealed, could preclude the carnage? The dialogue regarding a hypothetical of this nature would be similar in many respects to the debate over capital punishment.

The argument against capital punishment is twofold: (1) there are those who think that it debases any society that employs it; and (2) an innocent person might be executed. I personally believe that there are instances when capital punishment is warranted. Many people take a contrary view. But under American law (at least, in theory), there is a clearly-defined process that must be followed before a death penalty is administered.

By contrast, under present circumstances, the utilization of torture by our government appears to be arbitrary. Not only does it debase our society; there is also a legitimate fear that innocent people are being tortured and killed.

It would be comforting to think that the men and women responsible for interrogating detainees in the “war on terror” are capable operatives with sound judgment. But what we know about the Bush Administration offers scant hope in that regard.

The centerpiece of the “war on terror” has been the invasion of Iraq. The rationale for the invasion keeps changing. First, we invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein was purportedly building weapons of mass destruction. When that charge proved false, the war became about “bringing freedom to the Iraqi people.” By that logic, we should also invade China to bring freedom to the Chinese people. Now, we’re implored to “stay the course” in Iraq because it’s important to stay the course.

There will be no "victory" for the United States in Iraq. Iraq barely functions as a country anymore. It's a bloody conglomeration of local militias, warlords, terrorists, the U.S. military, the Iraqi military, and other disparate forces. The only remaining questions are how many more lives will be lost, how much more money will it cost, and how bad the damage to our longterm interests and standing in the international community will be before we withdraw.

That was made clear by General Ricardo Sanchez (former commander of American forces in Iraq), who told a gathering of military reporters last month that the Bush Administration’s handling of the war was based on “a catastophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan that has led to a nightmare with no end in sight. There has been,” General Sanchez said, “a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership” by leaders who have been “derelict in their duties” and guilty of a “lust for power.”

The following is a sampling of mishaps (characterized by total incompetence) that have come to light since I wrote about the invasion of Iraq in this forum one year ago:

* The Bush Administration flew nearly $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq and distributed the cash with inadequate controls over who was receiving it and how it was spent. The cash weighed 363 tons and was sent to Baghdad for disbursement to Iraqi ministries and U.S. contractors. A good portion of it was retained for private personal use or fell into the hands of terrorists. As Henry Waxman (chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) queried, " Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?"

* The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported to Congress that only 12,000 of the 500,000 weapons given to the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior by our government since the invasion were being properly tracked. In other words, hundreds of thousands of weapons (including grenade launchers, machine guns, and assault rifles) could be anywhere and in anyone's hands. Thereafter, in one of its last acts, the Republican-controlled 109th Congress passed (and George Bush signed) a military authorization bill that terminated the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

* The Bush Administration launched a website called "Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal" to propagate the argument that Saddam Hussein had, in fact, been planning to build weapons of mass destruction. The launch came over the objection of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. The site was closed in November 2006 after International Atomic Energy Agency officials complained that the documents on it went beyond anything else that was publicly available in constituting a basic guide to building an atomic bomb.

In sum, the Bush Administration has an extensive record of mismanaging the “war on terror.” Thus the question: “How many innocent people have been tortured and killed by our government?”

We’ll never know, because the hidden nature of the interrogations and torture keep “bad decisions” from coming to light.

George Bush should not have been put in the position of responsibility and power that he has abused for almost seven years. But rather than dwell on the past, let’s give practical application to the issues raised by this article. Why not subject the Bush administration to the same standard of “justice” that it has applied to others?

On July 9, 2007, George Bush invoked a claim of “executive privilege” in response to requests for information by two Congressional committees that were investigating the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys. More specifically, the White House refused to comply with subpoenas for relevant documents and blocked two presidential aides with knowledge related to the firings from testifying before Congress.

Why bother with subpoenas and lengthy court proceedings? Bring former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez before Congress and beat the information out of him.

Come to think of it; Congress could impeach and convict the president and vice president using the same process. Arrest Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Hold them incommunicato in a secret prison without access to a lawyer. The pre-trial discovery would be enlightening. One can only begin to imagine the wrongdoing that would be revealed after waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and brutal beatings. The Bush Administration says that these interrogation techniques are reserved for “high value” detainees. But who’s more “high value” that George Bush and Dick Cheney? We might even get some photographs of the president and vice president nude on their hands and knees, each one with a dog collar around his neck and a woman soldier holding the leash.

The impeachment trial would be conducted in secret. As for the sentence; given Dick Cheney’s much-publicized heart condition, he probably wouldn’t make it that far. But Mr. Bush seems to be in pretty good shape. Life imprisonment or the death penalty? What do you think?

Some bleeding-heart liberals and card-carrying members of the American Civil Liberties Union might find fault with interrogation and a trial of this nature. But I’m sure that patriotic Americans wouldn’t object.

PS: Words like “torture” and “beating” have become so common in usage that we tend to read through them. They sanitize the violence. So let’s think in terms of you, the reader. An interrogator punches you flush on the tip of your nose, flattening it against your face. You still haven’t told him what he wants to know. You might not even know it; but he thinks you do. Or maybe he’s just a sadistic bastard. So he shoves slivers of metal beneath your fingertips.

Hey; as Donald Rumsfeld blithely said about the mounting death toll in iraq: “Stuff happens.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com

(This article was originally published on secondsout.com, and kindly donated by Thomas Hauser to The Daily Banter.com)
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Monday, November 5, 2007

Pat Buchanan: 'Bush is presiding over a worldwide abandonment of the American dollar'.

By Ben Cohen

Pat Buchanan is a strange political phenomenon. The aging former presidential candidate is a true conservative with values he actually believes and sticks to. In the age of sound byte politics, Buchanan has resolutely refused to be drawn into one line debates and the politics of assassination. Although many of his view are distasteful to liberals (abortion, the size of government etc), his analysis of American politics is very astute and he has to be respected for his consistency. Buchanan is no neo-con, and understands the terrible consequences for the American imperial project at home and abroad. Here he is on the collapsing value of the dollar, and the future of the American economy. It's certainly worth a read whether your agree or disagree with his politics.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Despite the rhetoric, there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program

By Ben Cohen

As the bellicose language increases from the Bush Administration, the actual threat from Iran seems to be decreasing. With Bush telling the American public that a nuclear Iran would instigate 'World War 3', a variety of experts have certified that there is no evidence that they are trying to attain nuclear weapons.

Late last month, Bush told a room packed with journalists that:

"I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,"

This is flatly contradicted by prominent experts directly related to the issue of nuclear proliferation.

"I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear-weapons program going on right now," said IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

With insiders in the Bush Administration also admitting that Iran is not working on the bomb, the evidence would ultimately point to the White House beating the drums for another war.

Read more details in a very interesting article on McClatchydc.com



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Friday, November 2, 2007

John Edwards slams Hillary in new video

John Edwards calls Hillary out for 'parsing'.

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War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death

By Peter Bauer
Contributing Editor

I had an opportunity to screen this film in August at the University of Oregon. The documentary began at 7:00 on a warm Saturday evening, and the place was packed with people. Peace activists of all ages filled the hall to maximum capacity, and the audience was active with emotions ranging from to shocked, to dismayed, to outraged.

People applauded and cheered like they were in church, and I left feeling refreshed. I finally realized that there were hundreds of people in my community who were just as outraged but this war as I am.

This film not only exposes the role of the Corporate Media in promoting military conflicts, it puts a human face on war that is generally whitewashed in America. A particularly sobering segment tallied the number of civilian deaths in every major military conflict of the 20th century. When the number of civilian deaths in Iraq was dispalyed, I could hear people openly weeping.

This is a must see film for anyone concerned with the way in which information is presented to them.
Here's the IMDB synopsis:

"War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations."

Watch this remarkable film at: http://www.moviesfoundonline.com/war_made_easy.php
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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rumsfeld Exposed. Again.

By Ben Cohen

It seems to be impossible for Americans to face the reality of whom the have elected into power. As the astounding corruption and criminal behaviour of the Bush Administration becomes clearer and clearer, there seems to be less and less desire to do anything about it. There is a current firestorm about Donald Rumsfeld's internal memos to his staff that should result in a criminal prosecution. There won't be one, and there will no doubt be more to come as inquiries reveal more heinous activity at the highest levels of government. Here is the Washington Post on the latest exposure of Rumsfeld's disastrous tenure as Defense Secretary:

"In a series of internal musings and memos to his staff, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued that Muslims avoid "physical labor" and wrote of the need to "keep elevating the threat," "link Iraq to Iran" and develop "bumper sticker statements" to rally public support for an increasingly unpopular war.

The memos, often referred to as "snowflakes," shed light on Rumsfeld's brusque management style and on his efforts to address key challenges during his tenure as Pentagon chief. Spanning from 2002 to shortly after his resignation following the 2006 congressional elections, a sampling of his trademark missives obtained yesterday reveals a defense secretary disdainful of media criticism and driven to reshape public opinion of the Iraq war."

For the full article, click here.

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Keith Olbermann rips into fascist Giuliani

Rudy Guiliani is about as close to a fascist as possible in the mainstream political spectrum. The former Mayor of New York has tied himself to George Bushes' policy on torture, foreign policy, and economics in a desperate attempt to woo the ultra right. He is positioning himself as more militant than the insane neo cons in office, and sacrificing any credibility he may have had before the election. It will be a sad day if Giuliani wins the presidential election, and the end of American democracy as we know it. Check out the brilliant Keith Olbermann dissecting Giuliani's ridiculous positions on 'Count Down', the only news show in America worth watching.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Obama and Edwards Batter Clinton

By Ben Cohen
Editor

Presidential debates are usually tedious affairs with more blather than discussion, and more spin than substance. Although the confines of debate in American politics is extremely narrow (are you really pro America, or just pro America?), tonights confrontation between Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic contenders was a little different, and quite interesting to watch. I am reticent to say who 'won' the debate, as by most analysts standards, the candidate with the best sound bytes and poise are declared victorious. But it would be fair to say that Clinton took quite a beating.

Clinton has been well schooled by her handlers. She never directly responds to a challenge, and shows about as much emotion as Schwarzenegger did in 'Terminator'. The aim of course, is to appear regal, and above the fray. But the other Democratic candidates fired some pointed criticisms of the New York Senator, and highlighted some of her many inconsistencies.

Obama scolded Clinton for changing her positions on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), torture policies and the Iraq war. Leadership, he said, does not mean "changing positions whenever it's politically convenient."

"Now, that may be politically savvy, but I don’t think that it offers the clear contrast that we need,” he continued. "I think what we need right now is honestly with the American people about where we would take the country."

In reference to Clinton's vote in the Senate to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organisation, Edwards was equally as scathing. When Clinton claimed she has directly confronted the Bush Administration, Edwards fired back:

"So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written literally by the neocons?"

“Senator Clinton says that she believes she can be the candidate for change, but she defends a broken system that’s corrupt in Washington, D.C.,” Edwards continued. “She says she will end the war, but she continues to say she’ll keep combat troops in Iraq and continue combat missions in Iraq. To me, that’s not ending the war; that’s the continuation of the war.”

The best line of the night came from Obama, who responded to Clinton's assertion that Republicans were obsessed with because 'they obviously think that I am communicating effectively about what I will do as president'.

“Part of the reason that Republicans, I think, are obsessed with you, Hillary, is because that’s a fight they’re very comfortable having,” Obama countered. “It is the fight that we’ve been through since the ’90s. And part of the job of the next president is to break the gridlock and to get Democrats and independents and Republicans to start working together to solve these big problems.”

Clinton barely responded to the attacks, saving her criticisms for the Bush Administration.

"We've got to turn the page on George Bush and Dick Cheney", she said. "In fact, we have to throw the whole book away. This has been a disastrous period in American history, and we hope it will be aberration."

Although this misdirection tactic is no doubt what her strategists have told her to do, her robotic answers and scripted mini speeches expose what is really going on behind the scenes.

Clinton is basically a shiny face of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Beneath the populist rhetoric is a person committed to maintaining the status quo, and catering to all the lobbyists that are funding her campaign. Despite the revisionist history, her husbands record is appalling; Social injustice and poverty, all increased under Bill Clinton, while corporate influence and crony capitalism increased. There is absolutely no evidence that Hillary will be any different. She runs with the same crowd, employs the same people, and defends the same policies.

Virtually the other candidates have ties to corporate lobbyists and pressure groups, but none are quite as established as Clinton. Obama and Edwards at least present a breath of fresh air into the broken politics of Washington. If Clinton wins, it means Americans will have been subjected to over 25 years of rule by two families. It will be conclusive proof that the United States is not a democracy, but a bought system of powerful interest groups.

Clinton may be the most polished of the Democrats, but she represents all that is wrong with them. The Republicans will have a field day with her should she be elected, and the country will be plunged into more years of inane bickering. The funny thing is, she will most likely do their bidding in office, but without any benefit to her party. It's a lose lose situation, and she needs to be stopped as quickly as possible.
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Monday, October 29, 2007

David Barsamian Interview Part 3

In the final part of our exclusive interview with David Barsamian, we discuss the possible role of Israel in an attack on Iran, the Jewish population in Iran, the history of U.S/Iranian relations and much, much more. Click here to see part 1 and part 2


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Bill Maher on Fear

Bill Maher sets Americans straight on what they really need to fear. Brilliant as always...

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kiva: The power of Micro Loans

By Ben Cohen

Over the past 30 years, the IMF and World Bank have done their utmost to wreck the economies of the Third World under the guise of 'liberalisation', possibly beyond repair. Extortionate loan repayment schemes and radical economic reconstruction have plunged countries in Latin America and Africa into grinding poverty and spiraling debt. The poor rarely see the money loaned to their governments, and are frozen out of the high growth seen by minute sectors of the corporate elite. There is however, something you can do.

It's not the answer, but community based lending schemes are providing an alternative to this mess, connecting the borrower and the lender directly. The company 'Kiva' is a great example of this.

"Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world", says their website. "By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back."

Apparently, these type of loans are paid back 99% of the time, so are a very safe investment. Although our governments should be the ones eradicating the punitive loan schemes offered to the third world, they can no longer be trusted to do so. Check Kiva's website for more info.
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!


It doesn't get better than this. While visiting France, Major War Criminal Donald Rumsfeld has been hit with a torture lawsuit from a group of human rights organisations. He may possibly be tried for his role in legalising torture from 2002-2003 in Iraq. Although the odds are against anything substantial happening, it will certainly be a huge embarrassment for the Bush Administration. Who knows, Rumsfeld could one day end up in jail.....Read the full story here from www.rawstory.com


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David Barsamian Interview part 2

By Ben Cohen
Editor

In the second part of our interview with author David Barsamian (see part one here), the topic of conversation moves to the occupation of Iraq, the business of war, the cultural history of Iran, and the consequences of another war in the Middle East. See below for part 2 of our exclusive interview:

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

White House: Global Warming is good for your health

Given their constant assertions that "the verdict is still out" on global warming, it seems they're pretty sure about this. Here's episode #77584 of "how stupid are these people?" featuring the creepily hot Dana Perino.
From Think Progress:


I have to say that her remarks at the end about "not being an expert" and "letting Julie Gerberding answer that question" are particularly laughable given that the question was about censoring Dr. Gerberding;s testmony before congress. Does she really not understand the fundamental contradiction between the idea of allowing someone to give there expert opinion and censoring it for political purposes?
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Record Industry Celebrates Victory in the War on Piracy

By Adam Margolis

On Tuseday, October 23, the record industry celebrated a major victory in the war on music piracy. Police in the U.K. and the Netherlands have been working for two years, investigating a member’s only, file-sharing site called OiNK.cd. The site is considered to be one of the largest sources of not just any music, but most specifically, unreleased albums and tracks from major record labels. In 2007 alone, more than 60 illegal pre-release albums were leaked and made available to the 180,000 OiNK members. Once in the possession of OiNK members, the music immediately became available all over the internet. Supposedly, OiNK in particular has had a noticeable affect on record sales in the last couple of years.

The 2 year investigation and arrest was orchestrated by Interpol, with the help of The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the British Phonographic Industry. OiNK’s owner, a 24-year-old man from Middlesbrough, was arrested today in his home-town. Early reports say the site’s servers were confiscated last week during a raid in Amsterdam.

While this is a victory for the Music Industry, I would consider the war on Piracy to be as effective as the war on terror or the war on drugs. For every person or program that is taken down, there is another one on the sidelines, just waiting to have their chance to work. Thus far, the internet is virtually uncontrollable. New sites pop up every second, even faster than they can be taken down. There are at least 180,000 members of OiNK, and one of them could very possibly pick up where OiNK’s owner left off. The government “doesn’t have” the time or resources to monitor ever single person’s computer in the world. Not only would that be a tremendously difficult and expensive program, but it would certainly be even more unconstitutional than the phone tapping that has taken place in this country. Lets hope that this day doesn’t come, because let’s be honest…It’s nice to be able to download a few tracks every once in a while, but If you really do support a band or an album it wouldn’t necessarily hurt to pay 16 bucks for a CD or 99 cents per tune on iTunes.

The investigation of OiNK continues and more information unfolds. Stay tuned for any further updates….
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Romney's Propaganda Techniques

By Peter Bauer

In a classic election move, Mitt Romney used the propaganda technique known as "Transfer" to associate Democratic Presidential Candidate Barak Obama with alleged 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Ladin. (I say alleged because the FBI still hasn't enough evidence to link Bin Laden with 9/11, despite the Bush Administration's rhetoric.
See for yourself. ).

Transfer is
most often used to transfer blame or bad feelings from one politician to another of his friends or party members, or even to the party itself. Romney's spokesman called the incident "just a simple mistake," but a closer examination of the footages shows Romney says "Osama" at first, but correct himself and to say "Barack Obama." He then used the candidate's full name once again, further establishing his point, and invoking a negative image in the mind's of his audience.

This isn't the first time that Transfer has been employed to smear Obama. As the presidential campaign continues to unfold, it is essential to critically look at how the Corporate Media portrays presidential candidates, what what propaganda techniques they use to support or distort candidates.



END
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Exclusive: The Daily Banter interviews David Barsamian

By Ben Cohen
Editor

The Daily Banter.com caught up with David Barsamian, author of 'Targeting Iran', and 'What We Say Goes' last week during his visit to Los Angeles. Barsamian is one of the world's leading political activists and authors, and founder of the award winning 'Alternative Radio' in Colorado. Barsamian had a lot to say about the Bush Administrations aggression towards Iran and disastrous occupation of Iraq, and provided for a fantastic interview. We spoke for over 30 minutes and covered a great deal so will be posting the next parts of the interview over the rest of the week. See below for part 1 of our exclusive interview:

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reality Tv Psychology

The Hollywood Blog
By Adam Margolis

Reality TV Psychology shows can actually be much more counterproductive to not only the people on these shows, but also for viewers who follow them. Recently I worked on a reality show (to remain nameless) that is very much like the show Big Brother. Six strangers are placed in a small house together and forced to deal with each other to overcome personal struggles and differences. The show’s Host is a well- known television Psychologist with a tremendous following. His methods are harsh and some might say rude, but this therapist is widely respected. The purpose of the show is to help people, but the way these “patients” were treated was more like a set of tortured lab rats. Not only were the housemates provoked, but their patience was tested with some very questionable methods. The exercises presented to the housemates seemed to be better at creating “good TV” (as they call it) rather than helping people with legitimate issues. There is no reality to this “Reality Experiment”.


Reality programming has firmly planted its roots in the manure that is American television these days, and many make no excuses for being ridiculous (just turn on VH1 for some examples). Manipulating peoples states of mind, especially people who admittedly have mental issues, is in my opinion one of the most immoral practices imaginable. After watching these people for 5 days, I was convinced that most of them would have been better off in serious, 1-0n-1 therapy…but this makes fairly boring television. So a producer is faced with a moral question, “Do I cause a train-wreck, knowing that it will make the Networks happy or do I look for other work where I can spare people from humiliation and discomfort?” Obviously, the former. Producers will say just about anything to pacify an angry reality star, only to laugh at their gullibility behind the scenes.

One woman was crying and wanted to leave the show after a failed experiment. The natural human response, when seeing someone so upset, is to console them and/or cease the offensive behavior. In the world of Reality TV…This is considered GOLD. Tears, outbursts, train wrecks…this is what sells. I have been ordered to continue rolling on crying contestants who have politely asked (or in some cases not so politely) me to stop taping them. In one occasion, a young kid that I was shooting at a reality show audition was skipping down the sidewalk when he tripped and hurt himself. My instinct was to get the camera off of him, spare him the embarrassment and help him up…but as soon as I did this, a producer nudged me in the back asking me to capture every second of this kids misery. I felt horrible. Apparently, people enjoy watching other people’s misery.

Relating to characters on reality shows like this one helps people to feel better about their own lives and problems. Maybe someone will learn to deal with their own issues by watching someone else learn and suffer on a reality show. However, how can anyone learn anything serious if every person, problem and situation is manipulated with the intention of Good TV and not ACTUALY HELPING SOMEONE. Life is crazy, but it is not a TV show. Public Humiliation may not be the most effective way for these people to better themselves…and those reality stars who enjoy the publicity have other problems that are probably not even being addressed on their respective shows.

Until people are ready to accept the truth about their own lives and problems within their lives, there is no way that anyone can be helped. Until we are ready to do that, we will just enjoy living vicariously through those who have to be thrown out of planes to overcome a fear of heights or those who have to sleep in a bed of spiders to overcome a fear of bugs. Maybe we can try taking a woman who has a fear of being cheated on and have her boyfriend sleep with someone else on video…because of course that will get her to overcome her initial fear.
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The Dismantling of a Libertarian: George Monbiot takes on Matt Ridley

By Ben Cohen
Editor

Although I write largely about politics and boxing, I must confess to being a fan of good science writing, particularly that relating to theories on evolution. 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins was perhaps the most mind blowing book I had ever read as a student, radically re-shifting the way I saw the world. Dawkin's explanation of evolution on a genetic level had serious implications for philosophy and the social sciences. His notion that we are essentially a collection of self interested genes helped bolster the free market capitalist view of humanity. If our genes were so successful in creating such magnificent individuals and species, then surely the same theory could be applied to economics.

The blurring of evolutionary theory with free market capitalism has been the intellectual underpinning of Western society in modern times, with many scientists throwing their hat into the social sciences arena to offer opinions on human society. Following in this tradition is Matt Ridley, author of some fantastic books on evolutionary theory like 'The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature', and 'The Origins of Virtue'. I have enjoyed Ridley's books, but was always skeptical when he attempted to venture into the world of human affairs.

Noam Chomsky once said:

"On the ordinary problems of human life, science tells us very little, and scientists as people are surely no guide. In fact they are often the worst guide, because they often tend to focus, laser-like, on their professional interests and know very little about the world."

To me, Ridley falls directly under that category. Having worked for the Economist magazine and chaired a bank, Ridley has never hidden his politics. He is an unashamed libertarian and believes whole heartedly that evolutionary theory can be applied to human society: Government is bad, and the market is good. Unfortunately for him, his entire intellectual frame work has recently come crashing down after a disastrous tenure as chairman of the Northern Rock bank in England. After dedicating his life to lampooning the notion of government, Ridley had to beg the government to bail him out when the bank collapsed earlier this year.

Environmental journalist George Monbiot (pictured above) writes a searing indictment of Ridley's libertarian hypocrisy in an extremely interesting article on the guardian.co.uk. I can't do it justice, so click here to read it. It's very, very good. END
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Bush is dumber than a fifth grader!

Or at least this eleven-year old girl, who said on the CBS show "Kid Nation" when discussing a teammates bid for an office, that even though he knew about presidential history it didn't necessarily qualify him to be on the town council. She reinforced her point by reminding us all to ""Look at George W. Bush, he's not smart at all and he won the U.S. President two times in a row."

Check it out:
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Monday, October 22, 2007

Robert F. Kennedy speaks out against corporate immunity


From Glenn Greenwald:

Robert Kennedy speaks out against Retroactive Immunity

The very idea of "retroactive immunity" for lawbreaking corporations is so radical, so repugnant to the most basic principles of the "rule of law," that only one prior attempt can be found in recent history (at least from my research): the efforts by some in Congress in 1965 to enact a law retroactively legalizing the mergers by six large banks which clearly -- as a federal court found -- were illegal under our nation's antitrust laws.

The banks knew when they merged that they were almost certainly violating anti-trust laws. But they did it anyway. And when courts began ruling that their behavior was illegal, they ran to Congress to demand that a law be passed granting them amnesty, claiming that the consequences would be ruinous if they were held accountable under the law.

But the very concept of retroactive amnesty -- the idea that corporations could break the law and then have Congress pass a special law legalizing their lawbreaking conduct -- was so profoundly offensive to Sen. Robert Kennedy (who had been the Attorney General when the banks broke the law with their mergers), as well as then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, that they engaged in extraordinary efforts to try to put a stop to this Congressional travesty.

The circumstances between then and now are virtually identical. Just like then, the corporations seeking retroactive amnesty knew at the time they broke the law that their conduct was illegal, and -- just like now -- a court had so ruled, which is why they ran to Congress asking for a special law to be passed legalizing their criminal behavior (on the ground that the American economy would be crippled if the mergers were undone):

Read the full article

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The cold inhumanity of neoliberal economics


by Ari Rutenberg
Editor

"A man must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings."

--Albert Einstein, from an interview in the New York Times, September 1952.

We cannot separate the economic value of the world from the motives of mankind. To attempt to quantify all of reality is cold, inhumane, and ultimately a futile way of looking at the world. It is a method of solving problems that will always be found wanting. It is a crude and heartless attempt at understanding the intricacies of human existence.

As an economist by background, I am intimately familiar with this system and all of its deficiencies. There is no way to quantify much of what human beings do. It is simply irrational and beyond mathematics, the same way some emotions are beyond our ability to articulate in words. And to make assumptions about the future actions of people and expect the future to fit the prediction is simply foolish.

The saddest applications of this philosophy are when they are applied to the people’s lives and to the environment. When Blackwater murders Iraqis in cold blood, they are never held to account for their actions except to compensate the families of those who have been killed with money as if there is some kind of parity between the two, though I suppose for the neocons there is. How can we put a monetary value on human life?

Second is the environment. You often here economists and MBA-types talk about how its too expensive and too difficult to improve our relationship with the Earth. This is because someone calculated the value of all those resources yet to be extracted and how much it will cost to clean up the pollution and figured out that, hey, we can’t make our margins if we pay for a clean environment. How can we put a value on the Earth and, essentially, the survival of our species? To me it is both unfathomable and unconscionable to try and value our planet and our species the same way we value a ounce of gold. Beyond the fact that our economy is a system working within the Earth system, and thus cannot exceed it in size and cannot violate its physical rules, like how much carbon the planet can absorb naturally, how can one value such beauty and grandeur. For people who claim to love God, they certainly seem callous when it comes to his great work.

How can we put a value on a beautiful sunset, or a snowstorm, or a walk through the forest? How can we quantify our most basic instincts and connection to nature? Well in my mind we cant. We shouldn’t try. And the fact is we shouldn’t even be considering it. The loss of humanity and compassion required to make such calculations are some of the reasons our society has become so cold and disconnected from it members. We are not islands, either from our fellow humans or from the environment we live in. We cannot treat ourselves, or our planet, as if it is simply a stockpile of resources to be used up, at least not if we want to survive.
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Mormon Romney woos evangelical right

From TheHill.com:

Romney scores with religious right
By Sam Youngman October 19, 2007

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney didn’t deliver his much-anticipated speech about his Mormon faith at Friday night’s meeting of the Values Voters Summit.

But he did make a couple of jokes about it.

“By the way, I imagine that one or two of you may have heard that I’m Mormon,” Romney said.

With the crowd laughing, Romney added that he understands some people won’t vote for a Mormon, but that’s because they’ve been listening to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The Senate majority leader is also a Mormon.


Despite that 800-pound gorilla in the packed ballroom, Romney was well received by the socially conservative Evangelical crowd.
The former governor stuck to a discussion on family values, discussing all of the religious rights greatest hits.

Romney talked about what he sees as the importance of two-parent homes, the threat of gay marriage and his anti-abortion rights stance.

“Now, I don’t have to tell the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family that the American family is under stress, under attack,” Romney said.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stephen Colbert on 'Meet the Press'

Comedian Stephen Colbert talks to Tim Russert about his Presidential campaign. The sad thing is, he's probably better that the real Republican candidates....

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Obama on the Tonight Show

By Ben Cohen

Barack Obama went on the 'Tonight Show' with Jay Leno to talk about his campaign, his rivalry with Hillary Clinton, and his newly discovered ancestral link to Dick Cheney. It's actually a fairly substantive interview with Obama, and he has some interesting things to say.


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Saturday, October 20, 2007

England's fickle obsessions


By Nick Lang
UK Editor

In England there are two types of people: Those who like football and those who like rugby. It is also possible to have people who don't like either; these people are often known as women. It's probably fairly similar in the States where you either like fast-paced, intense action sports like basketball and ice hockey, or you like to have something to watch while you get drunk so you're into baseball and American football.

In England however, there seems to be a power so great that it actually transcends the rugby/football divide, so the line becomes blurred. This power is sporadic national pride. Last week, when England rugby team beat France in the World Cup semi-final half of all people watching TV in England had the match on. That is a staggering amount of people. What is more staggering is the fact that if you'd asked all of those people if they liked rugby two weeks before the event, most of them would have responded simply by saying "fuck off".

Now that England are in the final of the rugby World Cup, national pride has gone so far that the rugby team has been mentioned on the front page of almost every newspaper for the last few days, the queen has announced that she's got all excited about it, and they put up a wax-work of Jonny Wilkinson - the player who scores all the drop goals - up in Trafalgar Square. Plus sales of English flags have sky-rocketed.

I guess English people feel that we don't get many opportunities to feel proud of our nation, so we tend to get a bit over-excited when such an opportunity arises. See also Wimbledon tennis tournament, the football European and World Cups, Golf, Formula 1 etc etc etc. The thought that we might actually win something for once obviously gets a little too much for us, as we are programmed to deal soley with disappointment in sport.

You have to wonder though; how much of an effect would it have on English flag sales if we got into the final of the World curling championships?
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Friday, October 19, 2007

Celebrities Rely on Us, but Do We Rely on Them?

New to The Daily Banter!

The Hollywood Blog

by Adam Margolis

Living and working in Los Angeles is seen as a dream-come-true to many people. At one point in time, it was all I could think about. Folks travel from all over the globe to share a piece of the sunshine and easy-going attitude of Southern California. This “lax” attitude is just an act though. Stop any person under the age of 30 on the street, and chances are they are a stressed actor, writer or director (or waiter, depending on what time of day they are asked). Los Angeles, Hollywood in most cases, is a city that reflects the sentiments of it’s in habitants. Everyone wants to appear relaxed, confident and successful, when the reality is that this town forces the weak-willed to alter themselves for an often emotionally unrewarding lifestyle. Appear cool, but be busy, pissed or stressed. This is the true Hollywood Lifestyle.

The drive consumes people and many are lost forever in the tidal wave of Hollywood absurdity. Some can ride the wave while maintaining healthy perspectives, but will these people make it? In the world of television, it almost seems habitual for people to start their own fires so that either they can heroically save the day or so that others will come to the rescue, thus confirming the fire-starter’s social status as an authority. On a daily basis, I witness people, producers, directors, writers, audio guys, etc…losing their tempers, minds and/or jobs over the most insignificant of issues. Sometimes, I want to tell these people to check out the global news on the BBC website if they want to see some real problems and put their s#%t into perspective.

The problem is absolutely the media. Stars, Starlets and Wannabes are constantly under the lurking eye of the paparazzi. However there is a catch 22 in this situation. While the celebrities may complain about the constant attention and lack of privacy, it is in fact the only thing that is keeping (or placing) some of these celebrities in the spotlight at all. A Crotch-Shot is a term that referring to a picture of a celebrities exposed crotch. These pictures not only go for thousands and thousands of dollars but also guarantee the celebrity’s photos in every popular Hollywood magazine. Any press is good press, right?

I believe that there is a twisted symbiotic relationship going on between the “celebrity world” and the public. Since the birth of Hollywood, screen actors have been viewed as god-like beings. Larger than life, mysterious, talented, beautiful…people have long been fantasizing about a celebrity life-style. Everyone wants social acceptance in one form or another and many celebrities seem to have unconditional love from their pubic. As a people, we are subconsciously jealous of the status of life these celebrities are able to achieve (sometimes with very little effort). Though their positive behavior is sometimes inspiring it can be devilishly rewarding to watch them mess up and fail. It humanizes them. It knocks them off their pedestal a bit. Sometimes we are willing to give celebrities second chances and we can be quick to forgive them for otherwise abhorrent behavior. But this has a underlying benefit…it’s so much fun to watch them fall off that pedestal again, and again, and again….

Celebrities like Lindsay Lohan have admitted that they would feel unpopular or unimportant if the paparazzi stopped following them. So, what is the solution? For celebrities who feel like they are slipping from the spotlight, there is nothing better than a drug or sex tape scandal. The higher the pedestal, the bigger the ego, the harder they fall and the more we enjoy watching it.

So, young men and women flock to Los Angeles on a daily basis with an impression of celebrities that is painted by US Weekly and TMZ.com. The mentality that one has to be camera ready at all times comes with them and also an urgency to sell oneself. That’s the nature of this city. “Prove to me that you’re worth my time, and MAYBE I’ll let you into my circle.” People are so quick to drop, hide or change who they GENUINELY are, in order to present themselves as marketable to some sleazy producer, agent or scout who might be sitting at the corner table of Le Deux (A Trendy Hollywood Hot Spot). And the saddest part is, that this behavior starts to bleed into their everyday behavior and routines, until one day they become a shell of the person they once were. And that is what Hollywood is, shells of loads of pretty (and not pretty), talented (and not talented) people looking for someone to buy them and get them on the Cover of US Weekly.

If only we could get the public to be as interested in politicians or world issues as they are with Britney Spears’ latest fuck up or which rehab facility has the best swimming pool. I suppose if everyone was more informed and there wasn’t the disastrous, circus-world of young celebrities to distract us, then the corporations and government might not be able to get away with so much behind a voluntarily blind public’s back.

Adam Margolis is a freelance camera operator and director living in Los Angeles.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

David Barsamian speaks at UCLA

By Ben Cohen
Editor

I went to see author David Barsamian speak at UCLA (the University of California in Los Angeles) last night about his new books 'Targeting Iran', and 'What We Say Goes' (Co authored with Noam Chomsky). Barsamian is a witty, engaging speaker, but his topic was depressing beyond belief. Far from being a plug for his new books, his main aim, it seemed, was to raise awareness of the Bush Administrations naked desire for another war.

In a jam packed room on the centre of campus, Barsamian informed his audience of the United States sordid history in the Middle East, and continued aggression in the region.

'If you want to understand U.S History', he said, 'there's really not much to it. You just have to watch 10 minutes of the Sopranos'.

Despite professions from the Bush Administration that they have our 'security' in mind, the evidence speaks to the contrary. The Bush Administrations ambitions in the region have nothing to do with our security, or providing freedom for the Iranian people said Barsamian. Like Iraq, "Iran has enormous oil wealth, something the U.S desperately wants to control". And what of the 'military super power' the U.S government is so scared about? Barsamian asked the audience to take a guess how much Iran spends on their military. $20 billion, $100 billion, or even $200 billion?

"Iran spends $5 billion a year on their military as compared to the $3/4 of a trillion the U.S spends", he answered. "In one year, Iran spends what the U.S spends a week in Iraq. To put it further into context, $5 billion buys you two B52 bombers".

Iran, he argued, is also a diversion from the disaster in Iraq. "The U.S was looking for a scapegoat-now they've got one. Iran".

Speaking of the 17,000 marines and sailors now placed off the Iranian coast, Barsamian does not think the U.S government is bluffing.

"Some people think the Bush Administration in sabre rattling. I don't. They have a history of violence, they have the weapons and I believe they will use them'.

And what of the repercussions if the U.S attacks Iran?

"The consequences are incalculable", he stated emphatically. "If we are seeing rivers of blood from Iraq, it will turn to oceans of blood if they attack Iran."

Stay tuned to The Daily Banter for an exclusive series of video interviews with Barsamian next week.


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Keith Olbermann and Paul Krugman discuss right wing smears on children

It would not be fair to paint all Republicans as nasty. But there are too many out there that display some disturbing signs of vindictiveness. SCHIP, the health care plan that Democrats (and some Republicans) have tried to pass in order to insure millions of children has been attacked by the right mercilessly. When the Democrats brought attention to some of the children that have benefitted from the existing program, the Right countered with some appalling attacks directed at the actual families. Check the video of Keith Olbermann discussing the tactics with the brilliant economist Paul Krugman. Oh, and as of today, the health care plan has been successfully vetoed by the President.






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"Living a Nightmare with no end in sight."

By Peter Bauer
Contributing Editor

Retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez is yet another retired military official to speak out against the War in Iraq. Sanchez was reported in the New York Times as saying "There has been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders." He that added civilian officials have been "derelict in their duties" and guilty of a "lust for power."

Lt. Gen. Sanchez was a commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and has dealt with the aftermath of an embarrassing ordeal that revealed to the world just how far America was willing to go in its War on Terror...

Many other retired military officials have spoken out against the Bush Administration. In 2006, retired Major General Paul Eaton characterized then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as ";incompetent strategically, operationally, and tactically."

The voices of opposition to the Iraq War are gaining in moment. As more and more former military personnel have the courage to take a stand against this ever worsening war, a grassroots movement is beginning to take shape.

A growing internet movement is taking shape around website iraqmortorium.org. This site encourages people to sign a pledge to take time out of their day on the third Friday of every month to take a stand against the war. It could be as simple as wearing a black ribbon to work or as bold as a black arm band on your sleeve. The purpose is to bring an end to the war by generating public awareness. Joining the moratorium is the first step.

Although this moratorium has been endorsed by a wide range of people including Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan, and Howard Zinn, it is up to locally organized groups of individuals who are committed to bringing an end to this senseless, destructive war. The next moratorium is this Friday, October 19th.

It's time to have an opinion. It's time to take a stand. It's time for action.

Peter Bauer earned his Master's Degree in Teaching and Learning from The University of Oregon. He currently teaches 7th grade in Eugene, Oregon, and is the drummer for The Spruce Root Band.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Insane Republican Trent Wisecup

Trent Wisecup, Chief of Staff for Michigan Republican Joe Knollenberg decided to intervene when a pesky liberal journalist kept asking difficult questions. According to the frothing Wisecup, being liberal apparently means that you want Iran to defeat America, and Toyota to defeat GM. It's nice to see such intelligent debate.


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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Guliani to Obama: 'You're not Ronald Reagan'

By Ben Cohen
Editor in Chief

White Republican males fawn over Ronald Reagan like teenage boys do over Britney Spears. The poster President of 'image over substance' politics, Reagan is credited by his minions for restoring hope to America, ending the cold war and bringing massive peace and prosperity to the world. To everyone grounded in reality, Reagan was actually responsible for destroying the working poor in the U.S, funding terrorism in Latin America while illegally selling weapons to Iran. Contrary to revisionist history, Reagan also had nothing to do with ending the Soviet Union (it collapsed upon itself after years of mismanagement). However, all of this is irrelevant to todays Republican nominees for President, and they are all clamouring to associate themselves with 'Gipper' as he is fondly remembered. And that includes insulting other politicians by telling them that they are 'no Ronald Reagan'...
This particular line became famous when American Democratic vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen said to Senator Dan Quayle 'Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" in the vice presidential elections in 1988. Seeking to stake his own territory in political put downs, Rudolph Giuliani recently used the quip to disparage Barack Obama.

When addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition, Giuliani referenced Obama's offer to speak with the leaders of Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and North Korea:

"Then he went on to explain that Ronald Reagan negotiated with the communists," said the former Mayor of New York. "I say this most respectfully: You're not Ronald Reagan, you know?"

Obama's camp was quick to respond citing Giuliani's law firm, the Houston-based Bracewell & Giuliani that represents an American subsidiary of an oil company controlled by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

"Given the hefty fee that Hugo Chavez's oil company paid Rudy Giuliani's firm, he apparently thinks we shouldn't talk to Chavez, but it's fine to take his money" said a spokes person.

Giuliani will have to do better than this. Running off his record of one good speech and an association with a dead President, the former Mayor is clearly running out of gimmicks. Having contributed absolutely nothing to the political dialogue, Giuliani seems to have his heart set on continuing Bushes failed agenda, and harking back to a President who was only marginally better than the one in office today.

Obama is no Ronald Reagan, and he is certainly no Rudolph Giuliani. And this is something he should be distinctly proud of.
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The Heavyweight Championship of Hypocrisy: U.S. vs. China

By Ari Rutenberg
Editor

Despite both of these contenders noted abilities to push the boundaries of hypocrisy,they are always ready to amaze. No matter what feats they have previously accomplished, their desire to seek out the limits of human reason and comprehension is unmatched. This week's bout comes by way of two recent statements:

First we hear from the reigning champion U.S.(from Yahoo! News):

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

"I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament." - statement by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Vladimir Putin's consolidation of executive power.


Now we hear from #1 contender China (from The Guardian):
"We are furious," the communist party secretary for Tibet, Zhang Qingli, told reporters. "If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world." when discussing the Dalai Lama's visit to the U.S. and the Congressional Gold Medal he is to receive.


The Bush administration is blind. It cannot see that while the constitution sits in shambles and Dick Cheney pushes his dictatorial unitary executive theory, which requires no knowledge of or respect for the Constitution. At least Putin changes his when it doesn't suit him. Why is it so scary when Putin does it (legally), and completely innocent and natural when they do it (illegally)? It is, as I said, because they are blind and do not even recognize, much less acknowledge, their own fallibility.

And the Chinese, specifically Zhang Qingli, are out of their minds. Maybe when the only media in China was CCTV they could get away with such crap in their country. But there has never been the time when the rest of us were blinded to what happened in Tibet. To pronounce the world free of justice and goodness because a kind, peaceful old man who has never advocated violence against China, or ever asked for anything more than religious freedom for his people. For the government which occupied this man's country and expelled him to call such an advocate for all that is good in human kind, in essence, a bad man. They could at least be honest and say it is not politically convenient for us. But it simply makes them seem ridiculous to malign and slander such a man.

So my question is, who wins?
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John Edwards on Guiliani: He'll never be elected as President

John Edward's spells out why the war mongering Rudolph Guiliani will never be elected as President.


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Why Tucker Carlson Hates Democracy

By Ben Cohen
Editor in Chief

On last week’s edition of ‘Real Time’ with Bill Maher, Tucker Carlson assailed his co-guest Paul Krugman for his views on mandatory health insurance. Carlson accused the renowned economist for wanting to enforce his ideas about health care onto the population. “It’s authoritarian, you’re using the power of the government to force people to do things they don’t want to do because you think it’s best for them”, he argued.

Put in those terms, Carlson’s argument is a matter of freedom vs government tyranny. But really, it is an argument that hides the talk show host’s disdain for democracy.

Carlson is a libertarian with strict views on what defines freedom. Neatly packaging his argument to include social programs, Carlson’s ideology labels popular movements as ‘anti freedom’. According to the libertarian doctrine, universal healthcare, social security, education are all attempts by the federal government to interfere in out lives and force us to give up the freedom to choose what is best for us.

However, this is a typical misdirection tactic used by the right to confuse people into ceding their rights to private and corporate power.

Extensive polling has consistently shown that a significant majority of the population want socialized medical care. If put to a vote tomorrow, the U.S would have mandatory healthcare for all of its citizens. It is also a fact that Carlson acknowledges.

“It‘s another way of saying that socialized medicine—which I believe Americans want—they say they want,” said Carlson on his MSNBC show recently. “A “New York Times” poll a couple months ago, they want it. They‘re willing to pay for it.”

“I‘m not sure they understand the abridgements to their freedoms they‘re going to have to face if they get it,” he continued.

“Socialized medicine takes away your freedom”.

The enlightened Carlson and his conservative comrades like to lecture everyone on the ills of government while extolling the beauty of the free market. Private power, they argue, is more cost effective, more efficient, and best of all, more profitable. It’s also pro freedom, because the government does not have anything to do with it, and if you don’t want healthcare, why should you have to have it? If you do, corporate America will provide it (if you have the money of course).

It does not take a genius to work out the inherent flaws and massive hypocrisy in this stance. Having corporate medical care is no more ‘free’ than having government health care. In fact, it is radically less so. The private power Tucker Carlson and his friends want us to trust with our healthcare are not democracies, and they are certainly not accountable to us.

Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross of California don’t care if its members overwhelmingly want them to provide cheaper service. They don’t care if we think they should fund certain treatments or extend coverage to those who cannot afford it. They are business models built on profit, not people. Tucker, for some reason, does not seem concerned about this.

Unlike corporate tyrannies, the government is something the people have power over and can change if it does not represent their interests. Popular social programs develop through ground movements that force the government to represent their interests, not those of private power. Social security and programs like Medicaid came about after massive popular pressure. They are accountable to us, and we can change it with a vote. This is what we call ‘Democracy’- the power of the people to choose how they would like to live.

Despite his professions of love for democracy, Tucker Carlson clearly does not believe in it. By equating freedom with monetary individualism, Carlson is obscuring the fact that people still believe society has a responsibility to others. They want to contribute to a system that provides a safety net for everyone in society. Right wing Utopias of individual, self-interested consumers work only if the people want it. And unfortunately for Tucker, they don’t.

Ben Cohen is the Editor in Chief of The Daily Banter.com, and the Contributing Editor at Secondsout.com, the world's number one boxing website. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

A hilarious piece by Bill Maher on gullibility


Comedian Bill Maher has a distinct talent for cutting through nonsense. Check out his latest post on gullibility in America on the huffingtonpost.com. It's hilarious:

Idiocracy

Have too many Americans become gullible, ill-informed idiots who have elevated feelings over facts and replaced critical thinking with a blind sense of trust for authority? I'm not trying to be insulting here; I'm just trying to figure out Rudy Giuliani's poll numbers.

Four years ago Tucker Carlson asked Britney Spears on CNN, "A lot of entertainers have come out against the war in Iraq. Have you?" And Britney, who was chewing gum throughout the entire interview, answered, "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens."

It's this kind of head-in-the-sand, free rein granted to those believed to be in a position of moral authority that has led to warrantless wiretapping, torture, and a $6.1 million judgment for a Kentucky McDonald's employee named Louise Ogborn. In 2004, Louise was 18 and working at McDonald's when her assistant manager Donna called her into the back office, said a police officer on the phone had identified her as a thief, and then forced Louise, under the "cop's" orders, to strip naked, do nude jumping jacks, submit to a spanking and finally perform oral sex on Donna's 43-year-old exterminator fiancé. The whole ordeal, ordered by a prankster over the phone, lasted three hours. But you know what they say about fast-food work -- the time flies when you're busy.

A Kentucky jury listened to testimony, watched a videotape of the entire incident and awarded Louise $6.1 million dollars from the obviously culpable party in this matter -- the McDonald's Corporation. That's right, two adults pressure a third adult into stripping, a spanking and a blowjob based on the word of a stranger on the phone and the fault lies not with the gullible idiots who blindly obeyed some perceived voice of authority, but with the company that happens to have its name on the sign out front. McDonald's has a written policy in their training manual against any type of strip searches and even sent out a voicemail warning franchises about such phone hoaxes but the jury found that the company was liable because, after all, the perv on the phone did say he was a cop and what choice did Donna the assistant manager have but to, as Britney says, "just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens"?

Bill Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" which airs every Friday at 11PM.
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Iowa Unions endorse John Edwards, and so does Friends of the Earth

By Ben Cohen
Editor in Chief

John Edwards has just received the endorsement from the Iowa Union and environmental group 'Friends of the Earth' that gives his campaign a big boost. The Iowa Unions help Edwards gain momentum in the crucial state, and the environmental endorsement gives him big credit with grassroot voters.

Edwards is an interesting candidate. He has acknowledged the fact that his vote to give Bush authorisation to go to war in Iraq was a terrible mistake. He also has some interesting ideas about health care, and is a big supporter of labour in America. Can he threaten Clinton or Obama? Who knows, but this is a good sign for his lagging campaign. Although Edwards sold out big time when he essentially voted for the war (giving Bush authorisation to wage it), he has at least been honest enough to admit he was wrong (unlike Clinton, who has changed her stance on the war more times than anyone can count).

Click here to read about the endorsement from the Iowa Unions, and here for the Friends of the Earth endorsement. Read more!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sign the Moratorium, Help Stop the War!

By Peter Bauer
Contributing Editor

Car bombs. Insurgents. Iranian sponsored terrorists. Al Queda in Iraq. IED's. Private Security Contractors. The Green Zone. Wait and listen to our commanders on the ground. We need more troops. We need more money. The surge is working. This is not a civil war. When the Iraqi's stand up, we'll stand down.

Four and a half years after Mission Accomplished, it has become obvious to anyone with their eyes open that this war is not going to stop if it is left up the Bush Administration. With talks of a Middle Eastern presences akin to America's role in the Korean Peninsula, it has become apparent that war will continue indefinitely.

As America continues to crumble, all we hear state side is MORE MORE MORE. An attack on Iran has been looming on the horizon for months, and all it will take to unleash these dogs of war will be an attack on American interests, at home or abroad. The evidence will be shaky at best, much like the link between Osama bin Laden and 9/11. Although evidence links bin Laden to the attacks on US Embassy's in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, the FBI couldn't link him to the attacks on 9/11. The same will be true for the next faceless enemy.

Hope is not lost. There is a growing anti-war movement in America that is real and can be felt. Tension has been mounting for months and months, gaining momentum that is tangible, but largely unreported. Remember, the major media message is controlled, and cannot be trusted; these are the same people who told us that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Iraq War Moratorium is taking steps to bring together a national anti-war effort. The premise is simple: On the third Friday of every month you do something to break from your normal day and let people know that you're against the war. It could be as simple as wearing a black ribbon to work, or taking the afternoon off and joining a local protest. In September, all I did was wear a "No War" button to work. I got nods of approval from a few co-workers, and was able to generate some stimulating conversations.

As noted by the 2006 Congressional elections, the majority of Americans are fed up with the war, but haven't seen their frustrations affect change. This is a chance to actually do something about the war. Take a moment to sign the Moratorium, which has already been signed by Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan, and Howard Zinn, among others.

On Friday October 17th, take a stand against the war. Whether your actions are large or small, it is better than passively sitting by and watching the war drag on and on and on. Do Something!


Peter Bauer earned his Master's Degree in Teaching and Learning from The University of Oregon. He currently teaches 7th grade in Eugene, Oregon, and is the drummer for The Spruce Root Band.
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Saturday, October 13, 2007

The unflinching horror of STRESS!!!!!

By Nick Lang

Stress is a terrifying force of mystery and power; it is incredible to see the lengths that stress will go to just to show us that we are in fact stressed. The cold is a virus, and as a virus it has full jurisdiction to physically fuck with our bodies as it pleases – so though it can be just a mere speck of liquid it can make our joints ache, our nose dribble, our throat sore and our brain hurt. Yet we must succumb to this because it is a virus, and therefore a physical force that has inhabited our body. Stress however is not real (in a physical sense); it is a non-entity, but it has just as much, if not more, power to physically affect us than most viruses. People who are stressed about anything from something serious like the loss of a loved one, to something seemingly trivial like what they are going to eat before they go out to avoid having to take a shit in a club toilet (probably with its very own urine lake in each cubicle), can be physically transformed by this mental exertion. The amount of times that I, and many others like me, have gone to their doctor with the thought of only days to live, only to be asked: “Do you have an exam coming up? Yeah, it’s probably that.”

“Let me get this straight doctor; I have been sick every day for five days, I have hives all over my face, neck and back, I have violent mood swings, I feel like I swallowed a cheese grater (and my arse feels like it came out of the other end too), I lose at least my body weight, maybe more, in liquid every time I blow my nose, and it feels like there’s a party in my brain and everyone’s throwing up… And this brutal, remorseless, unquenchable plague that has befallen me and that will undoubtedly soon rob me of my young life is the fact that I have an exam this week?!?!”

The other aspect of stress that makes it such a formidable adversary is the fact that it’s so elusive. You can have puss spewing from your eyes and huge boils all over your body, and yet have no idea that the root of this horrible affliction is simply your concern over meeting your girlfriend’s parents. Why? Because you had absolutely no idea that it bothered you so much, but your sub-conscious knows all, and it is the one who’s pulling the strings. So surely then, in a Freudian way, by realising that this is the case by discussing it with another person you should be able to free yourself from it’s shackles, right? Wrong. It seems so often the case that the only way to rid yourself of stress is for the event at the source of your troubles to come and go. Until that time you are, and always will be, stress’ bitch.

About the author: Nick Lang is a Sociology graduate from the University of Sussex. He is currently training to be a teacher, and lives in London.
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