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
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“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
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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

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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 ?