Archive for December, 2008


Barack Obama: the United States of America’s forty-forth, and last, President?

December 31, 2008

dennis-trainor-headshotDennis Trainor, Jr • Operation Itch writer/ editor header
more in  NEWS & ANALYSIS 

“I’m figgering
On biggering and BIGGERING and BIGGERING and BIGGERING, turning MORE Truffula Trees into  Thneeds
 which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!”

– Dr. Seuss, THE LORAX

Istanbul was Constantinople/ Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople/ Been a long time gone, Constantinople/ Why did Constantinople get the works?/ That’s nobody’s business but the Turks”  – Lyrics from “Istanbul”/ They Might Be Giants

It is hard to resist the pull to join the growing bandwagon of pundits, analysts, soccer moms, and plumbers offering their advice to Barack Obama as he prepares to become the forty- third president of the United States. Not that I am hesitant to share my opinions. After all, it was this time last year that I found myself, by virtue of sharing my opinions in a few YouTube videos, sitting on the Dennis Kucinich campaign bus across from the man running for president just days before the New Hampshire primary getting paid to offer my opinions on all matters related to politics. Dennis Kucinich, with all of my help, took 1% of the vote in New Hampshire. So I don’t delude myself into thinking that Rahm Emanuel will be presenting the president elect with the cliff notes of the advice that is to follow.

The U.S. in 2010?

The U.S. in 2010?

Amid all the hoopla of the campaign mixed with the sober realities of the never ending war(s), a recession that is on the eve of a global depression and the ever increasing possibility that I will never get a job writing for The Daily Show comes the question: what if Barack Obama is not only the next president of the United States, but the last president of the United States?

Andrew Osborn, in his December 29th article in the Wall Street Journal, sheds some light on Russian academic Igor Panarin, who predicts that the United States has seen her last presidential election cycle.


Panarin is even getting requests to scribble his John Hancock (will anyone remember him?) on this map (pictured here) he created. Read the rest of this entry ?


Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood

December 31, 2008

from The Huffington Post     header

 by Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative.  Barghouti is a former secular candidate for President of Palestine and has been a strong advocate of non-violent responses to Israeli occupation. Barghouti is thought by many to be a leading contender in the next Palestinian presidential election. Perspectives have also been solicited from various national leaders and incumbent Knesset leaders in Israel.

Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood

The Israeli campaign of ‘death from above’ began around 11 am, on Saturday morning, the 27th of December, and stretched straight through the night into this morning. The massacre continues Sunday as I write these words.

The bloodiest single day in Palestine since the War of 1967 is far from over following on Israel’s promised that this is ‘only the beginning’ of their campaign of state terror. At least 290 people have been murdered thus far, but the body count continues to rise at a dramatic pace as more mutilated bodies are pulled from the rubble, previous victims succumb to their wounds and new casualties are created by the minute.

What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.

Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.

1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.
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GEMINI JIVE • Ready! Aim! Shaddup! Happy New Year! Splat!”

December 31, 2008

me-mask1Maralyn Lois Polak • Operation Itch Contributing Writer ©2008 ML Polak header

Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, believed guns were phallic symbols. What did he know? Well, think about it: guns have three main parts — the barrel, the handle, the trigger –just like most, um, male sex-organs.

 The first woman I ever met who packed heat was a Philadelphia District Attorney whose nickname was “Tough Cookie”. Although she was not exactly your frilly-excessively feminine type, her gun was diminutive, and, if my memory serves me, encrusted with gleaming mother-of-pearl. I guess she was entitled, due to the vulnerability of her position– being in a field where unhappy customers could strike back at her any time.

 Be that as it may, the Friday after Christmas, I decide to treat myself to a first-run movie, instead of waiting for it to come out on NetFlix. My choice is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” 13 minutes short of three hours, so I’d definitely get my money’s worth. This mesmerizing movie, adapted from the 1921 short story of the same name by literary icon F. Scott Fitzgerald, is being touted as a dramatic tour-de-force for Brad Pitt, who gets to play a human being whose thoroughly unconventional life is lived completely in reverse — he’s born old and spends the rest of the story “growing down” and eventually dying, as an infant, in his beloved Cate Blanchette’s arms. 

 Fortunately I had a few remaining transit tokens, so I quickly hopped a bus across down, arriving in time to get a bargain-priced afternoon ticket. The movie was a compelling meditation on chance vs. destiny, the perplexes of parenthood, the sometimes conflicting allure of adventure vs. domesticity, and the persistence of love despite the ravages of time and memory. Especially, it reminded me at its core of “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” how our love for a particular person can become embedded in our very cells, bypassing what we think we “know” to endure forever. Read the rest of this entry ?


Former US Congresswoman sailing to Gaza to help Palestinians

December 31, 2008

Ross Levin • Operation Itch Contributing Writer 

headermore in  NEWS & ANALYSIS

Former Democratic Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney – who has since run for president on the Green Party ticket – is on her way to the Gaza Strip.  She is not taking the recent Israeli attacks lightly, and she is taking some friends with her, including an Al Jazeera reporter who was once held in the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

This is being coordinated through the Free Gaza organization, which is holding a press conference tomorrow (they also have a newsletter about it here).  Their press release about the subject is below the fold.   (update hereRead the rest of this entry ?


Feliz Navidad from South America: Snowflakes In Hell

December 31, 2008

alex wAlex W • Operation Itch Writer header
read all posts from Alex W

Now, if you passed geography in junior high school, you are probably aware, if you think about it, that it’s coming up on summer here in South America, and it’s been a hot one so far. But with Christmas coming up, I’m eating junk food out of a package with a picture of Tigger and Winnie the Pooh wearing scarves and throwing snowballs at eachother. But it’s not imported, it’s a product made right here in Argentina.

Christmas is a funny holiday. I never really thought so much about why, but my family always celebrated Christmas despite the fact that they are not religious. I’m an agnostic (or shall we say a non-practicing atheist?) but I still celebrate Christmas. It’s a holiday, holidays are nice, and if you’re not religious, you don’t get very many holidays, so forgive me, religious folks, if I just take one of yours without asking. I mean, you guys just invented Christmas so you wouldn’t look so weird to the Pagans, anyway. (“What’s wrong with these people? They don’t celebrate the harvest OR the solstice! By Thor, what a bunch of weirdos.”) Read the rest of this entry ?


Penelope Boston: Life on Mars? Let’s look in the caves

December 31, 2008

TED      header
So the Mars Rovers didn’t scoop up any alien lifeforms. Scientist Penelope Boston thinks there’s a good chance — a 25 to 50 percent chance, in fact — that life might exist on Mars, deep inside the planet’s caves. She details how we should look and why.


ITunes, Wal-Mart, Springsteen Killing Off the Independents

December 31, 2008

al normanAl Norman • Operation Itch Contributing Writer header

read all posts from Al Norman

Just after Christmas, my daughter Winter took a bag of 30 used CDs to our local independent music store in Greenfield, Massachusetts to see what she could sell the lot for. The store owner offered her a very low price, and when my daughter expressed her surprise at the offer, the merchant angrily threw the CDs back at her and shouted: “I’m losing my store. I’m not going to be here next year!”

The next day I came across the tale of Tape Town, a music store in Morganton, North Carolina. Owner Roy Lowdermilk probably thought that locating his store next to the Wal-Mart in Morganton was a great idea.

The Wal-Mart on Burkemont Avenue in Morganton is probably the largest retail store in this community of just over 17,000 people. But Lowdermilk’s store, Tape Town, never benefited from its location in the shadow of the giant retailer. According to the Morganton News Herald, Tape Town turned off the sound for good on December 27th.

Lowdermilk and his wife opened up their music store in 1972, sixteen years before Wal-Mart came to town. But now their store is dark. “It was a combination of things,” Lowdermilk told the newspaper. He blamed the sinking economy, and the internet as the two main reasons for his loss of sales. One customer in Tape Town told the News Herald that when he couldn’t find music at Tape Town, he didn’t bother going next door to Wal-Mart. Another shopper said he liked shopping at Tape Town over big box stores because it catered to his musical tastes, had reasonable prices and great service. “They’re willing to help,” the customer said. “If I can’t find it here, they’ll help us find it somewhere.” Read the rest of this entry ?


Isreael and Hamas both guilty

December 31, 2008


s-gaza-largeHUMAN RIGHTS WATCH • Huffington Post

New York, December 30, 2008 – Israel and Hamas both must respect the prohibition under the laws of war against deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern about Israeli bombings in Gaza that caused civilian deaths and Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilian areas in violation of international law.

Rocket attacks on Israeli towns by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups that do not discriminate between civilians and military targets violate the laws of war, while a rising number of the hundreds of Israeli bombings in Gaza since December 27, 2008, appear to be unlawful attacks causing civilian casualties. Additionally, Israel’s severe limitations on the movement of non-military goods and people into and out of Gaza, including fuel and medical supplies, constitutes collective punishment, also in violation of the laws of war.

“Firing rockets into civilian areas with the intent to harm and terrorize Israelis has no justification whatsoever, regardless of Israel’s actions in Gaza,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. “At the same time, Israel should not target individuals and institutions in Gaza solely because they are part of the Hamas-run political authority, including ordinary police. Only attacks on military targets are permissible, and only in a manner that minimizes civilian casualties.” Read the rest of this entry ?


Koyaanisqatsi –

December 31, 2008

more in Feature length  header

So, you don’t budget 90 minutes to watch a full length movie when you visit a blog. Don’t call it a blog then, okay? Call it, I don’t know, an online magazine. Bookmark this, come back later with a decent glass of wine. This will blow you away.


Top Political Moments of 2008

December 31, 2008

hermit The Hermit with Davis Fleetwood • Operation Itch Video header

 In the comments below, write the word HEADLINE and then write a single headline that you predict (or WISH) will happen in 2009. On Monday, January 5th, using the 10 best headlines- I will create a script and a video that will be the TOP TEN POLITICAL STORIES OF 2009. And then, in December of 2009, when everyone is scrambling to create their top 10 lists of the year, we can compare the list we created together, with the actual headlines that unfold. 




Attack on Gaza: As Usual, U.S. Media (And Most Liberals) Silent — As Israeli Newspaper Raises Doubts

December 29, 2008

Greg Mitchell    more in  NEWS & ANALYSISheader


gaza_swimming_pool-by-latuffIn the usual process, the U.S. government, media here — and most of the leading liberal bloggers — are silent or playing down questions about whether Israel overreacted in its massive air strikes on Gaza, while the foreign press, and evenHaaretz in Israel, carries more balanced accounts.

Anyone who cares should consult the respectedHaaretz site often, if for no other reason than to learn that criticism of Israeli military actions are usually more heated inside that country than in the USA. The New York Times, for example, as of today (Monday), has not yet editorialized on the air assault. You may recall the lockstep support in the U.S. for Israeli’s invasion of southern Lebanon, which included the use of U.S.-made cluster bombs. That invasion turned out to be a genuine fiasco.

One Sunday analysis at Haaretz: “A million and a half human beings, most of them downcast and desperate refugees, live in the conditions of a giant jail, fertile ground for another round of bloodletting. The fact that Hamas may have gone too far with its rockets is not the justification of the Israeli policy for the past few decades, for which it justly merits an Iraqi shoe to the face.”

Another opinion piece in Haaretz – titled, “Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again” — by Gideon Levy: “Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: ‘Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger… Not that the bully’s not right – someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!’ Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation ‘Cast Lead’ is only in its infancy.” Read the rest of this entry ?


Bondage and Humiliation Fantasies — and the Feminists Who Enjoy Them

December 29, 2008

Stacey May Fowles- ALTERNET  

headersee more in SEX & RELATIONSHIPS

The following excerpt is from the book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Excerpted by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) January 2009.

storyimage_yesmeansyeswebjpg_thumbs_600x900_thumbs_200x300Because I’m a feminist who enjoys domination, bondage and pain in the bedroom, it should be pretty obvious why I often remain mute and, well, pretty closeted about my sexuality. While it’s easy for me to write an impassioned diatribe on the vital importance of “conventional” women’s pleasure, or to talk publicly and explicitly about sexual desire in general, I often shy away from conversations about my personal sexual choices. Despite the fact that I’ve been on a long, intentional path to finally feel empowered by, and open about, my decision to be a sexual submissive, the reception I receive regarding this decision is not always all that warm.

BDSM (for my purposes, bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and the concept of female submission makes feminists really uncomfortable. I can certainly understand why, but I also believe that safe, sane and consensual BDSM exists as a polar opposite of a reality in which women constantly face the threat of sexual violence.

As someone who works in the feminist media and who advocates against violence against women and for rape survivors’ rights, I never really felt I was allowed to participate in the fantasy of my own violation. There is a guilt and shame in having the luxury to decide to act on this desire — to consent to this kind of “nonconsent.” It seems to suggest you haven’t known true sexual violence, cannot truly understand how traumatic it can be, if you’re willing to incorporate a fictional version of it into your “play.” But this simply isn’t true: A 2007 study conducted in Australia revealed that rates of sexual abuse and coercion were similar between BDSM practitioners and other Australians. The study concluded that BDSM is simply a sexual interest or subculture attractive to a minority, not defined by a pathological symptom of past abuse. Read the rest of this entry ?


I’m Just a Girl Ep.2- Rick Warren and Barack Obama

December 29, 2008

i'm just a girlI’m Just a Girl • Operation Itch Video header

This Rick Warren story just will not go away. Nor should it


Obama’s Black Widow

December 29, 2008

Nat Hentoff • Village Voice header
Read more in NAT HENTOFF      see more in  NEWS & ANALYSIS

Thanks to Bush and Obama, the National Security Agency now knows more about you

Barack Obama will be in charge of the biggest domestic and international spying operation in history. Its prime engine is the National Security Agency (NSA)—located and guarded at Fort Meade, Maryland, about 10 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. A brief glimpse of its ever-expanding capacity was provided on October 26 by The Baltimore Sun’s national security correspondent, David Wood: “The NSA’s colossal Cray supercomputer, code-named the ‘Black Widow,’ scans millions of domestic and international phone calls and e-mails every hour. . . . The Black Widow, performing hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, searches through and reassembles key words and patterns, across many languages.”

In July, George W. Bush signed into law the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which gives the NSA even more power to look for patterns that suggest terrorism links in Americans’ telephone and Internet communications.

The ACLU immediately filed a lawsuit on free speech and privacy grounds. The new Bush law provides farcical judicial supervision over the NSA and other government trackers and databasers. Although Senator Barack Obama voted for this law, dig this from the ACLU: “The government [is now permitted] to conduct intrusive surveillance without ever telling a court who it intends to spy on, what phone lines and e-mail addresses it intends to monitor, where its surveillance targets are located, why it’s conducting the surveillance or whether it suspects any party to the communication of wrongdoing.”

This gives the word “dragnet” an especially chilling new meaning. Read the rest of this entry ?


Rick Warren Doubles Down, Accuses Critics Of ‘Christophobia’

December 28, 2008

 Jed Lewison, Daily Kos     see more in  NEWS & ANALYSISheader
Via John Aravosis at AMERICAblog, Rick Warren isdoubling down and accusing his critics of “hate-speech” and “Christophobia.”

Rachel Maddow has the video, and takes Warren to task for the hypocrisy of saying that it’s unfair to call his views hateful while simultaneously accusing his critics of hate speech. Moreover, as Rachel notes, Warren flat-out lies about his comments comparing gay marriage to pedophilia and incest:

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Did Bush Sr. Kill Kennedy and Frame Nixon?

December 28, 2008

By David Swanson • After Downing Street header

Russ Baker’s new book presents an account of the U.S. government that is both remarkably new and extensively documented. According to this account, George H. W. Bush, the father of the current president, devoted his career to secret intelligence work with the CIA many years before he became the CIA director, and the network of spies and petroleum plutocrats he began working with early on has played a powerful but hidden role in determining the direction of the U.S. government up to the current day.

New research and newly highlighted information assembled by Baker presents at least the strong possibility that Bush was involved in assassinating President Kennedy, and that Bush was involved in staging the Watergate break-in (and the break-in at Dan Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s) with the purpose of having these break-ins exposed and the blame placed on President Nixon. In this account, those in on the get-Nixon plot included John Dean and Bob Woodward. While this retelling of history would make a certain Robert Redford movie look really, really silly, it would — on the other hand — make Woodward’s performance during Watergate fit more coherently with everything he’s known to have done before and since. It would also give new meaning to Dean’s recent book title “Conservatives Without a Conscience.” I would love to see either of these men’s response to Baker’s book.
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December 28, 2008

asherThe Punk Patriot • Operation Itch Video header


Obama the Weasel: On Iraq, Antiwar Candidate Delivers More Carnage

December 28, 2008

Ted Rall • The Smirking Chimp   see more in  NEWS & ANALYSIS header


NEW YORK-Obama won the Democratic nomination and the presidency by speaking out against the Iraq War. Now that he’s packing for Washington, however, the old Chicago lawyer is using Harvard Law weasel words to make sure the war goes on for years.

Germans are organized. The French are snotty. Americans have a national character trait, too: inattention. It’s now obvious that Obama exploited our hard-wired inability to read between the lines to lay the groundwork for what many of his supporters will soon view as a terrible betrayal.

Right there, in a July 14th op/ed, is Obama’s triumph of plausible deniability: “The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep,” he wrote in The New York Times. “Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president.” Read the rest of this entry ?


Chanting Down Babylon, ep.2 • “GOOD MORNING”

December 28, 2008

zackZack Charles • Operation Itch Video Contributor • header

lyrics below the break….
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The least essential albums of 2008

December 28, 2008

from the A.V. CLUB – Josh ModellNoel MurrayKeith Phipps, Leonard Pierce, Nathan RabinKyle Ryan 
more in Arts & Culture header

Sure, the music industry has been staggering around like a wounded animal for close to a decade now, but that hasn’t stopped the yearly tide of staggeringly inessential albums. The A.V. Club’s annual Least Essential roundup surveys the music that didn’t have to happen. What follows isn’t necessarily the year’s worst music—though some of it is undeniably bad—it’s but the year’s most unnecessary.  See the worst of 2008 below the break….. Read the rest of this entry ?