Oh rare Ben Stein

Ben Stein August 30 2014

It’s hard to believe Ben Stein, the right-wing commentator for Fox News & other reactionary venues, is anything but a parody based on his film roles. He seems direct from the cast of Monty Python’s “Upper Class Twit of the Year.” But he came by his idiocy honestly; he inherited it from his father Herbert Stein, who was an economic advisor in the Nixon regime (1971-74). Herbert had a treacherous streak since he was a proponent of the Chicago School of Economics associated with Milton Friedman & the murderous Chilean coup in 1973 where Friedman first applied his economics.

Herbert had a theoretical bent of mind & formulated “Herbert Stein’s Law” that claims “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Pomposity apparently runs in the family because he postulated this banal tautology with the same solemnity his progeny has made so infamous–as if they both watched too many cartoons & missed their calling in the circus. They both cop an attitude but they talk like they have marbles in their mouths & rocks in their heads.

Ben Stein got an Ivy League education at Columbia & Yale–but quite frankly after George Bush (either one–take your pick) graduated from Yale, there’s a stinky miasma around that distinction that just won’t go away. Nepotism got him out of the Vietnam War & a job writing speeches for Nixon (& later following his father, with Gerald Ford). Stein’s rhetorical flourishes (which at their most emotive sound like the engine on an air conditioner) could not have helped the Nixon cause one iota. Stein is a blowhard & pervert & while he was writing speeches for Nixon defending Vietnam, he claims he was at protests where there was “a lot of balling” going on. Only in his wet dreams.

Stein continues to hold the universally despised Nixon in highest esteem as a peacemaker. He cried at Nixon’s resignation & claims he still cries about it 40 years later. He wrote a eulogy for Milton Friedman in Time Magazine entitled “Milton Friedman, Freedom Fighter” (2006). So is it any surprise his views on other issues are drawn from cesspools? He opposes women’s reproductive rights, disavows climate change, & not only opposes evolution but campaigns in speeches & a documentary film for creationism & intelligent design. His propaganda film against evolution is called “Expelled” No Intelligence Allowed” but he wanted to title it “From Darwin to Hitler” because he claims “Darwinism inspired & advanced Nazism.”

Stein’s emotive repertoire might be stuck in engine mode but he’s a busy boy commenting on political events about Israel & Blacks in this country. He’s a rabid Zionist who wrote a column denouncing criticisms of Israel for its military raid against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. In international waters Israeli commandos attacked six civilian ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade. Nine unarmed solidarity activists were shot & killed. Stein claimed the commandos were attacked by activists but he won’t explain why the hell the commandos forcibly boarded the ships.

It’s Stein’s unspeakably stupid comments about Blacks in the US that most distinguish him & the more you know of them, the more wretched he becomes. It’s not exaggeration to say he hates Blacks–more than he hates everybody else, that is. In 2005, with the entire world watching Hurricane Katrina on live TV for over a week, the Bush regime did nothing, nada, zip, zilch to rescue thousands of Black men, women, & children. The nation stood aghast while media beat the drums about looting–as if starving people should consider supermarkets sacrosanct. This is Stein’s take on all that: “George Bush did not cause gangsters to shoot at rescue helicopters taking people from rooftops, did not make gang bangers rape young girls in the Superdome, did not make looters steal hundreds of weapons, in short make New Orleans into a living hell.” How do you jam so much racism, stupidity, & lies into one sentence!?

In 2011, when IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of raping a hotel maid in NYC, Stein rushed to his defense. But of course every time he opens his mouth, he proves himself an idiot. He said: “People who commit crimes tend to be criminals. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes?” Translated, that means you can’t call the head of the IMF a gang banger; he’s not Black!

Stein went on to say Strauss-Kahn is a “short fat old man” who didn’t have a gun or a knife so how can prosecutors claim he forced the woman to have sex with him? And he proceeds to impugn the woman accuser who is Black & thus to Stein’s mind not believable.

As if Stein hasn’t already made a complete ass of himself over & over again, CNN & other media interviewed him on the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. His comment is worth reading in full: “The idea of calling this poor young man unarmed when he was 6’4″, 300 pounds, full of muscles, apparently, according to what I read in the New York Times, on marijuana. To call him unarmed is like calling Sonny Liston unarmed or Cassius Clay unarmed. He wasn’t unarmed. He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self.” Once again, how can you jam so much racism into one sentence!?

Shall we ignore that Muhammad Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay in the 1960s? Shall we ignore that not having a weapon spoke to Strauss-Kahn’s defense but not Michael Browns? Should we accept that being short & fat means you’re not a rapist but being a big kid means you’re scary & your muscles constitute an assault weapon? Or should we recognize that Ben Stein is not just a bone-headed buffoon but a vicious nasty-assed racist?

Two-bit halfwits like Stein aren’t usually worth the time of day. But when he attempts to vilify a young man murdered in the prime of life for nothing more than being Black, we should hold him in contempt & demand he be thrown off the airways.

Stein is just as ugly as he is stupid & bears an unfortunate resemblance to Kissinger who he worked with in the Nixon regime. Use his photo for practicing your horse manure shot.

(Photo by Nathaniel Welch)

El Comal mine collapse and neoliberal mining

Nicaragua miners August 30 2014

These men are part of rescue operations at the El Comal gold & silver mine which collapsed trapping 24 miners underground. The mine is in Bonanza, in northern Nicaragua. Media reports on this collapse are outright sneaky, calling the mine an illegal, artisanal operation. That would suggest the miners are working on their own like prospectors & if conditions are unsafe, it’s their own responsibility. But that’s not how mining works in countries under neoliberal plunder.

The mine is actually owned by a Colombian company named Hemco. The miners are not hired as workers but contracted as freelancers if they agree to sell the gold they find to Hemco. Of course if they attempt to walk away with any gold to get a better price elsewhere, there are company good squads to dole out frontier justice. The purpose of this labor arrangement for Hemco is to have a weak, unorganized work force. If workers start squawking about safety, work conditions, or pay, their contracts are cancelled & the next desperate guy is hired.

The World Bank actually promotes & bankrolls artisanal mining precisely because it maintains labor in such a vulnerable position & unable to challenge neoliberal plunder. Part of the arrangement is that workers take all the risks without deriving any benefits since the wages are chump change. In many countries in Africa & Latin America, artisanal gold mining is a major industry & includes thousands of children. Mercury & other toxicities are involved in the processing, creating massive health problems & environmental catastrophe. The miners without knowledge of the international market in gold (now over US $1,000 an ounce) sell the gold to middle men who deal it on the market.

Hemco is trying to walk away from responsibility at El Comal saying they warned the workers things were unsafe. The Nicaraguan government may not have made the mine legal but they knew damn well it was operating unsafely. Any attempt to blame this collapse on the miners is rubbish.

Unions have taken a beating in most countries. Not the least of their problems is a leadership of insuperable stupidity & servility to the status quo of power. Neoliberal plunder depends on an unorganized, weak work force. That’s one reason it promotes child labor who are defenseless against bullying & violence. This is a political problem facing working people in every country & one of the historic tasks that must be addressed with intelligence & commitment. Neoliberal capitalism isn’t moving backwards to feudalism; it skipped right over that stage & headed straight to barbarism. Working people need to stop it in its tracks.

(Photo by Esteban Felix/AP)

Tribute to Hajo Meyer: may he RIP

Hajo Meyer August 29 2014

We should take a moment to pay respect to Hajo Meyer, an anti-Zionist Auschwitz survivor who died August 23rd at the age of 90. One of his last political acts was joining with forty other survivors of the Nazi genocide in a public letter condemning Israeli genocide in Gaza. The letter was a direct rebuttal to Eely-Oily Weasel (known by his stage name Elie Wiesel), a rabid Zionist who milks his status as a survivor & accused Palestinians of using their children as human sacrifice.

In a recent interview, Meyer denounced Netan-psycho-yahu’s claim that Palestinian solidarity protests are an expression of increasing anti-Semitism. He said, “If we want to stay really human beings, we must get up & call the Zionists what they are: Nazi criminals.” He added that Zionist brainwashing of Israelis means “They cannot see a Palestinian as a human being.” His message to Palestinians was that “they should not give up their fight.”

Hajo Meyer was one of the toughest & may we say most decent among human beings–a man who could have & did not exploit his own suffering to make a bundle on the Zionist speaking circuit. We salute & honor him. May he RIP.

(Photo of Meyer is screenshot from “My Good Fortune in Auschwitz”, a documentary by Reber Dosky about Meyer’s survival)

Resistance in the time of genocide

Gaza; Palestinian flag Augsut 29 2014

These boys are walking past the Shejaiya neighborhood in Gaza City, an area where Israel employed a scorched earth policy, including bombing a marketplace during one of the umpteen ceasefires they broke.

The purpose of Israel targeting children & “Hamas age” young men was to destroy & demoralize the spirit of intifada which they have not been able to do in over 66 years. Israel succeeded in igniting an international solidarity movement of hundreds of thousands in hundreds of countries; of stirring governments from political torpor & silent collusion in response to popular pressure to actually take measures against Israel (even if it it’s still in the lip service stage); & in bringing into action the divestment part of Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions, with many companies canceling contracts with Israel. Nice work Netan-psycho-yahu!

As for Palestinian intifada? Resistance in the time of genocide stands undefeated.

(Photo by Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)

Demeaning the minimum wage worker

Taiwan worker in wings August 28 2014

Anyone who’s ever worked a minimum wage job (often where you stand for hours) or been forced to wear a demeaning uniform on the job, knows exactly how this young woman in wings feels. She works in the fashion district of Taipei, Taiwan where people buy their haute couture & she’s forced to dress like a clown.

In a humane society such uniforms should be outlawed but if justice existed they’d be just the thing for war criminals like Henry Kissinger, Pinochet, or Omar Suleiman. In place of the accoutrements of power they’d be strutting round their cells in maid uniforms. It’s an idea whose time has grown old with impatience.

(Photo by Wally Santana/AP)

Love in the time of genocide

Israeli wedding August 28 2014

Love in the time of genocide: This wedding photo of an Israeli couple taken yesterday has the incongruence of surrealism–but in it’s worst moments. It’s being “shot” (apropos the setting) in an army staging area on the Israel-Gaza border near a kibbutz. Is the groom on furlough from driving the tank? Are they from the kibbutz? Wouldn’t they have preferred a bucolic pastoral setting to celebrate their nuptials? What will the grandkids say when they look at the wedding album?

Or does this reflect the militarism of Israeli life? Rusted out, abandoned military tanks & equipment are the backdrop in many public parks where children play & families picnic. But this young couple selected this place. Is this the Promised Land envisioned by Theodor Herzl? When Zionists cooked up their colonial schema, was this their vision of Jewish freedom from persecution? Because to most people it looks a lot like hell. And the Hallmark moment doesn’t alter that an iota.

(Photo by Oded Balilty/AP)

“We have nothing…”

Gaza 1988 Intifada (August 28 2014)

Poetic tribute to the children of Gaza, August 2014 by Musab Iqbal:

we have nothing
but wall of words to lean
we have nothing
but sky of promise to look for
we have nothing
but blood stained land to learn history
we have nothing
but flesh of our father in this plastic bag as inheritance
we have nothing
but some empty gaze for meaningful dialogue
we have nothing
but stock of precise smile between two airstrikes
we have nothing
but a soulful resistance against mournful silence
we have nothing
but a dream of being bird and butterfly
we have nothing
but songs of despair and broken jaws
we have nothing
but timeless echo, tireless eyes, deceitful shadows

Photo is some “rascals of Gaza” giving the “V” sign, from the annals of the First Palestinian Intifada, Gaza 1988.

(Photo by Robert Croma)

Women in the First Intifada, Gaza 1988

First Intifada Gaza 1988 (August 28 2014)

From the annals of Palestinian Intifada, Gaza 1988: this is the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza where the women are confronting Israeli soldiers about assaults & arrests of children. The injury rate of children was sky high because under Israel’s “Iron Fist” policy, Israeli soldiers were ordered to break the bones of kids caught throwing rocks.

After this photo was taken the women were assaulted & dispersed with truncheons & tear gas.

(Photo by Robert Croma)

From the annals of Palestinian intifada: Gaza 1988

Intifada 1988 (August 28 2014

From the annals of Palestinian Intifada, Gaza 1988: when Israeli tanks entered Gaza on their murderous mission in July 2014, soldiers gave the “V” sign long associated with peace, not ethnic cleansing. We think now it must have been an unintentional sarcasm. This young boy is from Intifada 1988 in Gaza.

What is called the First Palestinian Intifada lasted six years between 1988 & 1993 when Palestinians rose up en masse against Israeli occupation & it’s “Iron Fist” policy of repression including curfews, murder & assassinations, mass incarceration, land expropriations & house demolitions, forced mass migrations & deportations.

Israel targeted children during that rampage also; 241 of the 1,204 killed were children but hundreds of kids were beaten, tear gassed, shot at, & jailed. One NGO estimated “23,600 to 29,900 children required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the intifada”. One-third of these were children under the age of ten.

Images from the First Intifada show many children giving the “V” sign. The photojournalist who took this photo said “”Wherever I went in the West Bank & Gaza Strip in 1988, Palestinian children spontaneously gave ‘V’ signs in response to my camera.”

It’s this tough-minded resolve that makes the Palestinian struggle a beacon for suffering humanity everywhere & an inspiration to those who have not yet acted in solidarity.

Boycott all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); demand “No military aid to Israel!” Keep the pressure on!

(Photo by Robert Croma, Gaza 1988)

Let’s talk about Sderot where they cheered on genocide

Sderot August 27 2014

So let’s talk about Sderot for a minute since it played such a big role in exposing the Exodus narrative as an orchestrated fairy tale. On the one hand, there is burlesque involved because they were whimpering about Hamas rockets while sitting in the direct line of fire. But on the other hand, it is deeply troubling that Zionism has corrupted people so profoundly that they could set up parlors to watch & cheer ethnic cleansing with equanimity. And their children were witness to this derangement. Will anyone who saw this scene & know it went on day after day ever be able to forget it?

When you read Zionist apologetics for Operation Ethnic Cleansing & their attempts to rationalize it with that crap about human shields, you realize what a corrosive ideology Zionism is & how it rots the human spirit. That is what makes so many skeptical that there can ever be a democratic secular state where Jews & Palestinians live together. The end of slavery was wrenching for the plantation class too. There’s a lot of things like that in history but justice must be respected whether everybody likes it or not. No one said it would be easy or without some scuffles.

If Sderot stands for anything, it is the transformative power of the Palestinian struggle over the rancidity of Zionism which is rooted in 19th century racism & colonialism. No one need feel pity but neither should we feel superior to Israelis who’ve been schooled in this supremacy. Truth of the matter is, it’s a manifestation of the white supremacy that continues to justify a dozen wars & neoliberal colonialism. Most of us live under regimes up to their eyeballs in this plunder.

Sderot isn’t just a symbol or a metaphor because it happened but it sure as hell provides insight into what happens if you let your government use racism as a weapon against anyone. There isn’t a person on planet Earth that doesn’t know what that means.

(Photo by Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)