20090330

HU Got Mail

China may not be as powerful as the US right now, but it sure is gaining some superpower status in major fields beyond economy and politics.

America has already been overtaken as the World's top polluter and these days, Washington is complaining about major disruptions in the weapon balance across Asia. Now Echelon is facing a major rival in "GhostNet", China's pervasive online spying network.

Recently uncovered by Canadian researchers from the Munk Centre for International Studies, GhostNet did not only fish sensitive information from foreign nations, but practiced identity theft at the State level... if you consider Dharamsala as the capital of the Tibetan administration in exile, that is (see "
Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries" - New York Times / John Markoff - 20090328 - and "Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network" - MCIS).

HU Jintao has a rather weird way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the "liberation" of Tibet : a revisionist exhibition in Beijing, foreign journalists kicked out of Tibet, and now this massive online (cons)piracy...

Beyond Tibet, Beijing is waging the wrong war with itself. Online and IRL. Again, the more China gives to nationalism and the short term, the more it loses in unity and the long term.

Beijing strategists intend to outlive the Dalai Lama and to hand Dharamsala to the most radical Tibetan factions after the death of their leader. History would then catch up with their own biased version : an hostile foreign power on China's doorstep. Who knows, India could even be cast as the Taliban regime hosting al Qaeda terrorist camps...

But Beijing cannot at the same time leverage on the Empire's vast cultural diversity and feed a mixture of nationalism and racism turned against one of its own minorities. Just like Russia is committing suicide by deterring immigration when it most needs it, China is alienating its own future.






20090324

J Street Releases New Poll of American Jewish Community

Food for thought following Obama's Nowruz speech (see "Beyond the Iranian people, Obama is addressing Israel"):

1) Two unfortunate events happened soon afterwards : first a collision between a US submarine and a US warship in the Strait of Ormuz resulting in an oil spill (smells almost like Cheney's false flag tin can spirit), second a speech of Shimon Peres to the same Iranian people, probably meant to sabotage Obama's. Both events could and should have been prevented.

2) A very fortunate poll by J Street on how American Jews want Obama-style diplomacy to operate in the Middle East. Yes, there was some support for Gaza, but the war was improductive for peace. Furthermore, far from the AIPAC rethoric, American Jews are ready for major concessions to reach peace, refuse Lieberman, and want the US to discuss with a Hamas-Fatah Palestinian leadership.

---
J Street's announcement (below) :


J Street Releases New Poll of American Jewish Community
(Amy Spitalnick - March 23rd, 2009 10:56 am)

A new J Street poll, released today, shows strong continued support among American Jews for assertive American diplomacy in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as in the Middle East generally. The results, which you can read in full below, demonstrate an understanding that difficult compromises will have to be made by both sides in order to bring true peace and security to Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire region.


American Jews remain remarkably supportive of assertive American efforts to achieve Middle East peace. The poll finds an extraordinarily strong base of 69 percent of American Jews firmly supporting active American engagement in bringing about Middle East peace, even if it means publicly disagreeing with or exerting pressure on both Arabs and Israelis, compared to 66 percent eight months ago;

69 percent also support the U.S. working with a unified Hamas-Fatah Palestinian Authority government to achieve a peace agreement with Israel, even when informed that the U.S. does not recognize Hamas due to its status as a terrorist organization and its refusal to recognize Israel. Interestingly, a March poll conducted by the Truman Institute at Hebrew University reported that 69 percent of Israelis also think Israel should negotiate with a joint Hamas-Fatah government;

By 76-24 percent, American Jews support a two-state, final status deal between Israel and the Palestinians along the lines of the agreement nearly reached eight years ago during the Camp David and Taba talks;

On Avigdor Lieberman: When told about Lieberman’s campaign platform requiring Arab citizens of Israel to sign loyalty oaths, as well as his threats against Arab Members of Knesset, American Jews opposed these positions by a 69 to 31 margin. One in three believe their own connection to Israel will be diminished if Lieberman assumes a senior position in the Israeli cabinet.

On Gaza: While Jews rallied behind Israel and approved of Israel’s military action by a 3 to 1 margin, 59 percent still felt that the military action had no impact on Israel’s security (41 percent) or made Israel less secure (18 percent), while only 41 percent felt it made Israel more secure.

Full March 2009 J Street Survey Results:
Survey Data.
Survey Analysis from Jim Gerstein, Principle at Gerstein Agne, the firm that commissioned the poll. Press Release.
Powerpoint Presentation, also from Jim Gerstein of Gerstein Agne.
Read J Street’s July 2008 survey results
here.

20090321

Beyond the Iranian people, Obama is addressing Israel

NYT's Ethan Bronner is not exactly holding fire against Israel these days, and he shouldn't : investigations are proving how essential principles were deliberately abandoned during the recent invasion of the Gaza strip.

Bronner also pointed out* the obvious fact that Israel cannot stick to its darkest sides (racism, fascism, which are not a Avigdor Lieberman monopoly these days), particularily if moderates gain ground in Iran on June 12, 2009.

As a Nowruz celebration, Citizen Obama decided to cast a video ballot for the upcoming presidential elections.

The Iranian people discovered a POTUS talking directly to them with words of mutual respect, a humble admiration for the great Persian culture, and a genuine spark of intelligence and compassion in the eyes. Barack even cautioned the Islamic Republic of Iran label, tearing down a 30 year old wall between both nations.

Reaching out without touching faith, Obama's speech was actually putting as much pressure on Israel as on Iran.

Livni and Netanyahu had better come up with something fit for this new millenium.


* see "
After Gaza, Israel Grapples With Crisis of Isolation" (NY Times - 20090318)

PS: Obama sent an even more direct message to Bush when he wrote to Chirac.

20090320

Geithner Takes Bullet, Bullet Spares Buck Obama

CNN's Ali Velshi cornered Geithner on the AIG bonus scandal : the Treasury not only knew about risks of bonuses to be awarded but prevented Sen. Chris Dodd from adding a clause to minimize them*.

Tim takes the blame raher unconvincingly : he uses the first person for the legally binding part of his job ("It's my responsibility, I was in a position where I didn't knowabout those sooner, I take full responsibility for that"), swiches to the second person for the future "now let's fix it" section ("In any case, we're going to go back and try to recoup the payments that were already made we had no legal ability to block at that time"), but keeps his distances with the third parties who actually dunnit : "The people doing this, the Fed and the Treasury people, are workingvery closely together".

"They, the People" of the Treasury, won't like this, Tim.

You just caught a bullet for your boss.

The previous day, Barack Obama changed his tune regarding the AIG mess : OK I'm angry but look, the buck stops here, I'm responsible.

The bullet stopped before reaching the buck, and I'm glad Geithner took it. From the beginning, this man was Obama's poorest pick.



* "
Geithner: Treasury Pushed For Bonus Loophole (VIDEO)" (HuffPost - 20090319)

20090316

Lobby Dick Tries To Retire, Fails To Retract

As the newly reformed League of Justice (D.C. Serious Comics) consider putting behind bars the Supervillains who disgraced America over the past 8 years, one of their most abject leaders resurfaces.

Last time we saw The Evil Doctor Cheney, he was pitifully escaping with his master Victor von Dumb in an helicopter. Their lair had just been raided by Captain America, who even humiliated von Dumb in public with his most powerful weapon ; a loud and concise X-ray speech exposing the imposter. The hero then threw this protective shield over the nation : "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals".

It's hard to tell whether von Dumb will ever recover from his wounds. Somewhere deep into the darkest swamps of Amerika, The Rover is probably trying to revive his creature. D.C. Serious Comics declined to comment, but a sequel could be in the making under the title "
Amerika Doomed : The Legacy".

We do know for sure the man known as Lobby Dick is still alive. Yesterday, he even rose from his armchair to deliver a "State of the Union with John King" address on CNN.

The Anchorman's hulk of a body was protected by a 8-inch adamantium-reinforced glass table, but for good measure King cast a few spells on The Creepy Veep, using quick hand gestures on his Magic Screen : as some of the Supervillain's most shameless moments were instantly brought back to life, there was no chance anyone in the audience could misinterpret his snarl for a friendly smile.

King first asked Doc Dick what he thought about Captain America's first weeks in power :
- "This League of Justice is dangerous : they are changing the very definitions of democracy, justice, freedom, science... cancelling all the much needed reforms we brought to the dictionnary over the last eight years. Next thing you know, even listening to Rush Limbaugh will be considered cruel and unusual punishment".
- "Well... isn't it already, I mean technically ? And what do you think about the use or abuse of the new superpower called Stimulus ?"
- "You sometimes do need a stimulus to get things going. For instance, when I don't get an answer or when I get an answer that I don't like, electroshocks can prove useful. But this Stimulus is a joke. Let's be clear : this country needs bullets, not bullet trains. Tax cuts for the rich, ax cuts for the poor. And a nationwide pipeline network".
- "... connected with new oil fields in Alaska, I presume ?"
- "Nah... oil should keep circulating on trucks, gas-guzzling trucks doing circles, virtuous circles. This country needs pipelines for water."
- "Pardon me... did I hear "water" ?"
- "You did. Getting water all across the nation is a major challenge for this millenium : we want to democratize waterboarding - no child left behind."
- "But that's insane !"
- "Yeah. Look how poor John McCain lost his bearings... I'm sure he refuses to promote waterboarding because Arizona is too dry."
- "Wasn't it because he was tortured in Vietnam ?"
- "That's a question of vocabulary. There was no CNN at the Hanoi Hilton back then, talk about cruel and unusual punishment..."

King offered the criminal an opportunity to redeem himself : "come on, Doc, now that your ruling days are behind you, now that you have nothing to lose... why not confess that you could have done or said things a better way ?"

Hissing and shrugging, von Dumb's sidekick refused to retract :
- the collapse of the Twin Towers ? "The DemoTeam did it, we tried to save Freddie and Fannie, but this infamous gang deliberately refused to strip them from their most dangerous powers when it was still possible"
- the Deficit ? "yet another creature from the DemoTeam - we found the fingerprints of The Dude all over it. Plus we had to reprint all procedure manuals... and by the way, do you know how much it costs to build a soundproof torture chamber ?"
- the Big Bang ? "We were caught in a global tempest and had to cope with the same crisis as our allies - rumors that the crisis originated from our own labs, our very homes, are bold lies"
- Shock and Awe ? "My only regret : the CIA didn't do their job and provided us with poor intel... but luckily enough, I was there to correct them and forge the case for the invasion of Iraq. Going at a Supervillain was the right thing to do. Everybody is definitely better off now, don't you think ? Iraq has ceased to exist as a united nation, Persia has recovered its Superpower status, new enemies keep popping up from all over the planet... more than ever, this World needs Amerika."

- "And how about The Scoot ?"

The Dark Lord's face turned even more somber as The Anchorman mentioned the case that almost tore the Doc Cheney - von Dumb couple apart in the last throes of their assault on democracy : "Victor and I slightly disagreed on that one, granted. I think it has something to do with my partner's hypocrisy. That's probably the reason why he keeps hiding his true fundamentalist face behind a mask of compassion. But make no mistake : he is as dangerous as I am."

20090310

SNL - The Rock Obama

I know the GOP shouldn't be evil, but you don't want to make President Obama angry either...

From Saturday Night Live, he's facing the hulk of a problem and not with his green agenda :



20090306

Watchmen and the nature of Alan Moore's power

As the screens get filled with spectacular images of Zack Snyder's action movie sharing the same title as Alan Moore's delicate masterpiece, I welcomed Salon's interview of 'The wizard of "Watchmen"' (Andrew Firestone - Salon - 20090305).

At last ! The only person who could say something relevant and intelligent about his own work (which once again, has nothing to do with a recently released popcorn byproduct*).

In very deed, Watchmen is not about comics and superheroes. ""Watchmen" is an intelligent meditation on the nature of power".

Intelligence and power ? Alan Moore knows something about those, alright. As well as he knows something about human nature, its beautiful as well as its lighter and - preferably, I reckon - darker sides.

To stay with Watchmen characters, I think the darkest side of Alan Moore resides not in Rorschach, but in Dr Manhattan : the systems he designs are as perfect, but the key difference is that they are meant for planet Earth, perfectly human and humanly flawed, a tribute to intelligence**. Not the boring, dull, sterile Ozymandias kind of intelligence - the sparkling, stimulating kind.

If Stan Lee revolutionized super heroes and the comics industry, Alan Moore revolutionized comics as a medium*** for human intelligence and creativity. And in that extent, there is something fictionally autobiographical in Watchmen, "an intelligent meditation on the nature of Moore's power".

I was not surprised to learn that Moore produces several pages of script for each final page. The edifice requires an incredible concentration from its author, and there is just no way one could add, move or retrieve any single piece without ruining the work and provoquing its collapse****. The movie, any movie, was doomed to fail from the start.

Moore knows how to lift existing characters to new dimensions, and he changed the Swamp Thing or Batman forever, reinvented actual or virtual figures from the past, but he can do much more than that, lift the burden of all existing rules, build his own universes, bend space and time, explore fiction beyond Pynchon or
Borges. How's that for superpowers ?

His best moments ? When he starts from scratch. And even then, he must always move on before it gets boring to him... which happens much earlier than it does to us. This author simply cannot stick to one thing, even from a dark swamp.

Yeah, the man's back to "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" - not my favorite. But he's a human being, remember ? And his "Lost Girls" will probably expose new weaknesses.

I probably won't read those two, but I'd love to have a peek at his scripts.

Which, I know for sure, will be a delight for scholars decades from now.

PS:
I also committed three blogules in French about Alan Moore : two lamenting about the disastrous choices of filmmakers ("Watchmen - Le Film" - 20081210 / "V for Vendetta - c'est Alan Moore qu'on assassine" - 20060323), one pointing out how "V" became IRL when, following the 2005 terror attacks, London authorities lauded their surveillance systems as their "Ears" and "Eyes" ("V for Vendetta. V : c'est arrive en 2005" - 20050724).

* Haven't watched it yet (who watches the Watchmen anyway?), but I will. Eventually.

** What's in a Worldsmith ? This Blue Man Group Of One would build with "materials" (please don't nuke me Doc, I know I'm being utterly reductive and classically / quantumly wrong) where the Bard Wordsmith mindnipulates "immaterials".

*** I'm not saying "a" as "one" : in Watchmen, Moore mixes all kinds of media (comic strips, novels, radio, cinema, press, TV, sketches and paintings...).

**** see (in French also) "Watchmen - Frappes chirurgicales et hommages collatéraux".

20090304

Yoo Got Mail - The Prince's Diary

The USDOJ released on monday confidential OLC memos 1 confirming what everybody already knew : the Bush administration had rather strange ways of defining such concepts as democracy, freedom, justice, or law. To name a not so happy few.

I'm afraid my title may be perceived as too kind for the infamous psychopath who used to run (and disgrace the very name of) the Office of Legal Counsel at the time when those memos were crafted : John Yoo is neither Niccolò Machiavelli, nor even Karl Rove (at least, The Architect did have some competence, some florentine know-how, and a few neurons to spare).

And John Yoo was not an advisor to "Il Principe" : Lorenzo il Magnifico offered Renaissance to the World. George W. Bush ? A sick Medieval revival.

Indeed, W. seems closer to Girolamo Savonarola than to Lorenzo de' Medici : his glorious "acts of faith" will be remembered as the destructive crimes of a dangerous fundamentalist, the same way "auto de fe" / "auto-da-fé" now echoes Spanish Inquisition delicacies, or bonfires of good books or people.

At least, the Bush Administration did embrace innovation in that field, and not only in the torture section : compared to Yoo's 9 memos, a Library of Alexandria of confidential documents has disappeared in the shredding machine feeding frenzy meant to save Dick Cheney from Justice (see "Justice now").

But change has come to America and guess what ? Justice, the real thing, is back.

Exit Yoo. Exeunt Addington, Ashcroft, Gonzales.

Enter Eric Holder. Enter Dawn Johnsen, and the new OLC boss has a long history of sound statements against the mob that used to rule the nation 2.

Other relevent comments ? From Jack Balkin (Yale), who sees in Yoo's memos a "theory of presidential dictatorship". "This was a period of panic, and panic creates an opportunity for patriotic politicians to abuse their power" 3.

I guess "patriotic politicians" abusing their power could pose a problem.

But I know for sure what happens when it's a bunch of "fascist theocons" 4.


1
http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/documents/olc-memos.htm
2 "
Obama's impressive new OLC chief" (Glenn Greenwald - Salon 20090105)
3 "Bush administration memos on presidential powers stun legal experts" - David G. Savage - LA Times 20090303)

4 see "Universal Declaration of Independence from Fundamentalism" and "Let's Face It They're Fascists" (archives 2004)





20090303

GOPgle - Don't Be Evil

A few quotes of the week :

Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity on FOXnews about Barack Obama : "So I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail".
Michael Steele to CNN about that bout : "Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment. (...) Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."
Michael Steele to Politico.com a little later : "My intent was not to go after Rush - I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. (...) I was maybe a little bit inarticulate".

Well, you WERE articulate, Mike.

And you were RIGHT :

- First, Limbaugh IS an entertainer. In the same interview, he managed to smack this pearl of wisdom well over the fence : "I'm a thinker. A lot of people, I guess, aren't - People are emotional and they react emotionally to things". Or to credit FDR for Hoover's failure, and to consider WWIII as the solution to our problems : "The new deal didn't work. You know, Hoover was president through the depression for one year. FDR prolonged the new deal for seven or eight years, and yet he's given credit for ending the depression. Didn't happen. World War II ended it. "

- Second, yes, what Rush says is both ugly and incendiary. Not his wishing for a failure of "socialism" (what he actually meant), but his venomous speech about race throughout the interview, the typical way he's denying racism while fueling it - something Steele must have felt even more acutely than I did.

Steele first reacted as a sound leader for the good of his party, his country, and mankind. I don't think this man will manage to kick fundamentalists out of the GOP*, but I like his early-Googlish "Don't Be Evil" approach. Republicans must redefine themselves and if they keep positioning themselves AGAINST things or people, they are bound to remain at least one step behind things and people.


Yes, Steele did make a few political concessions to his right afterwards, but unlike Rahm Emanuel (who deliberately fueled Limbaugh's fire a little bit earlier), he did the right thing in the first place.

Bobby Jindal obviously didn't the right thing in his first major speech as the top contender to a match up with Obama in 2012**. "Being compared to Mister Rogers is better than some of the other comparisons we've had here in the past" - in very deed, Piyush : you should be glad not to have been compared to Fred Rogers' coathanger instead.


Anyway, forever lost in his own angry Limbo, Rush won't be seen singing "Won't You Be My Neighbor ?" anytime soon.

This great self-proclaimed "thinker" probably never dared consider that "Love Thy Neighbor" could mean anything beyond "Be a good Amerikan : get your gun and join my Neighborhood Watch".


* remember ? "
GOP : Time to Split" !
** or rather 2016 - see "
GOP Primaries 2012 Kick-off - Charlie Crist's Second Coming"

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