Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! I’m having trouble finding any new news, but I’ve done my best to dig up a few interesting reads for you.

The Boston Herald has the lowdown on President Obama’s illegal immigrant uncle.

An illegal immigrant from Kenya busted for drunken driving after nearly striking a cop car in Framingham is the uncle of President Obama, the Herald has learned.

Obama Onyango told cops he wanted to “call the White House” after he was nabbed for OUI Aug. 24 after nearly plowing his SUV into a police cruiser. He was arraigned Thursday and was ordered held without bail because he was wanted on a federal immigration warrant, officials said.

Mike Rogers, a spokesman for Cleveland immigration attorney Margaret Wong, who is representing Onyango, confirmed that the 67-year-old is the president’s uncle. Wong is the same lawyer who represented the president’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, in her fight to win asylum last year.

Reached at her apartment in a South Boston public housing complex today, Zeituni Onyango said of her brother’s arrest: “Why don’t you go to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washingon, D.C. and ask your president? Not me.” She then hung up on a reporter.

OK, it’s another right wing source, but Fox News has a funny article on Obama’s announcement of his new economic adviser Alan Krueger: Seriously? Obama Uses 2 Teleprompters for 3 Minute Speech

President Obama required two heavy-duty teleprompters on Monday during a three-minute speech in which he nominated Alan Krueger to serve as chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers.

“I am very pleased to appoint Alan and I look forward to working with him,” Obama said, staring at the large, flat-screen monitor to his right, then shifting his eyes to the teleprompter on his left. “I have nothing but confidence in Alan as he takes on this important role as one of the leaders of my economic team.”

Why couldn’t he just memorize that?

In more serious news, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene has been devastating in Vermont, but the networks aren’t covering it 24/7. I wonder why?

Vermont is reeling today from what is becoming the state’s worst natural disaster since the epic flood of 1927. At least three people have died in the storm, one man is missing, hundreds of roads statewide are closed, and thousands of homes and businesses suffered power outages and serious damage from flooding associated with Tropical Storm Irene.

[Update 5:40 p.m.] Three people are confirmed dead in Vermont in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, and a fourth person is missing, state officials said at a news conference in Montpelier late this afternoon.

The deaths occurred in Wilmington, Rutland and Ludlow. Another person, the son of the Rutland victim, is missing and feared dead, according to state officials.

Perhaps if the media elites lived in Vermont, we’d hear more about it. But they don’t, so it’s not real to them. This is why we can have 25 million people unemployed in this country and the media and political class completely ignore the devastation it causes.

Sarah Jaffe has an important article at Alternet on “How the Surveillance State Protects the Interests Of the Ultra-Rich.”

Jaffe discusses the refusal of the British government to recognize that poverty played a role in the recent riots in London and other cities, as well as the shutdown of cell phone service by BART during the protests of the killing of a man by BART police. She writes:

The techniques that were roundly decried by Western leaders when used by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak against his people’s peaceful revolution are suddenly embraced when it comes to unrest at home. Not only that, but techniques honed in the “war on terror” are now being turned on anti-austerity protesters, clamping down on discontent that was created in the first place by policies of the state.


As a burgeoning international protest movement takes shape, opposing austerity measures, decrying the wealth gap and rising inequality, and in some cases directly attacking the interests of oligarchs, we’re likely to see the surveillance state developed for tracking “terrorists” turned on citizen activists peacefully protesting the actions of their government. And as U.S. elections post-Citizens United will be more and more expensive, look for politicians of both parties to enforce these crackdowns.

Despite growing anger at austerity in other countries, those policies have been embraced by both parties here in the States. Groups like US Uncut have stepped into the fray, pointing out the connection between the tax dodging of banks like Bank of America and other corporations and the slashing of the social safety net for everyone else. The new protest movements are led not only by traditional left groups like labor unions, but a generation of young, wired activists using the Internet for innovative protest and revolutionary activism.

It’s a lengthy article, but well worth reading.

Joseph Heller as a young man

I’ll end with a literary piece. I’m a big fan of Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22, so I got a kick out of this review of books about Heller at the NYT: The Enigma of Joseph Heller.

“Oh God, this is a calamity for American literature,” Kurt Vonnegut said on learning of Joseph Heller’s death in 1999. John Updike was less alarmed: Heller “wasn’t top of the chart” as a writer, he reflected, though he was “a sweet man” and his first novel, “Catch-22” was “important.” Note the Updikean judiciousness of “important”: he didn’t say he liked the book, but it was a great cultural bellwether as novels go, and it has endured. Despite mixed reviews on publication in 1961, “Catch-22” was soon adopted by college students who recognized a kindred spirit in Yossarian, the bombardier who rebels against a materialistic bureaucracy hellbent on killing him. “Better Yossarian than Rotarian” became a popular slogan, all the more so with the timely (for the novel’s sake) military escalation in Vietnam, which became the “real” subject of “Catch-22” and partly accounts for its sales of more than 10 million copies to date. It’s hard to argue with that kind of importance.

IMHO, John Updike’s work isn’t likely to be read 100 years from now. Does anyone still read “Couples?” Please. “The Witches of Eastwick” was funny, but hardly deathless literature. Catch-22, on the other hand, might hold up 100 years from now. To me it’s the ultimate book on the insanity of war. I might just check out that Heller biography, even though the NYT reviewer wasn’t that thrilled with it.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?

27 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    The situation in Vermont is horrible, and you are right about the lack of coverage in MSM.

    This is why we can have 25 million people unemployed in this country and the media and political class completely ignore the devastation it causes.

    So true…

    I saw this: With Sheriff Joe, GOP gets what it deserves – Chicago Sun-Times

    Nothing new here either,

    We continue to marvel at the spectacle of a major American political party doing its darnedest to reduce itself to a club for kooks. Presented with a terrific opportunity, on economic issues alone, to win back the White House, the GOP continues to allow itself to be defined by the boobocracy — those who snort at the theory of evolution, who believe global warming is a hoax, who mock homosexuals, who demonize Muslims, who question the president’s patriotism, who believe the solution to illegal immigration is to ship 11 million people back to Mexico, and who would rather cut social services for the poor than raises taxes on billionaires.

    So much for the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan.

    On Saturday, it was Arpaio’s turn to stir up the GOP’s know-nothing faction, playing on their fears, resentments, animosities and prejudices during a speech at the Kendall County fund-raising picnic.

    Arpaio is the Maricopa County sheriff who’s made a name for himself by forcing male inmates to wear pink underwear and feeding them for about half of what he spends to feed guard dogs. He likes to house prisoners in tents that reach 134 degrees in Arizona’s sun, and he conducts constant raids on fast food joints in search of illegal (though otherwise hard-working and law-abiding) immigrants.

    Arpaio drew two standing ovations on Saturday, plus plenty of laughs. The crowd of about 375 people — perhaps not a one of them gay or related to a gay person or friends with a gay person — guffawed particularly hard when Arpaio joked that his inmates hated the pink underwear, but “I’m sure in San Francisco it would not be a problem.”
    The winner of the Republican primary is going to have a hard time convincing anybody that he or she is any less of a monkey than the Joe Arpaios of the world. Evolution can be a tough sell.

    Like I said nothing new, but I did like that part about evolution being a tough sell…

    • madamab says:

      Why do they assume the Republican nominee is going to be one of these Tea Party morons? That will only happen if the RNC wants to lose in 2012; which is certainly possible, but not a certainty by any means.

  2. northwestrain says:

    From the LA Times: Is Homeland Security spending paying off?

    Like the military-industrial complex that became a permanent and powerful part of the American landscape during the Cold War, the vast network of Homeland Security spyware, concrete barricades and high-tech identity screening is here to stay. The Department of Homeland Security, a collection of agencies ranging from border control to airport security sewn quickly together after Sept. 11, is the third-largest Cabinet department and — with almost no lawmaker willing to render the U.S. less prepared for a terrorist attack — one of those least to fall victim to budget cuts.

    The expensive and time-consuming screening now routine for passengers at airport boarding gates has detected plenty of knives, loaded guns and other contraband, but it has never identified a terrorist who was about to board a plane. Only 14 Americans have died in about three dozen instances of Islamic extremist terrorist plots targeted at the U.S. outside war zones since 2001 — most of them involving one or two home-grown plotters.

    I’m not sure where I found this reaction but it hits the nail: most people who denounce these spending “inefficiencies,” have the causation backwards: fighting Terrorism isn’t the goal that security spending is supposed to fulfill; the security spending (and power vested by surveillance) is the goal itself, and Terrorism is the pretext for it.  For that reason, whether the spending efficiently addresses a Terrorism threat is totally irrelevant.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Very interesting. And depressing….

    • janicen says:

      This from the party that continually screams about reducing the size of government.

      • Peggy Sue says:

        “This from the party that continually screams about reducing the size of government.”

        Exactly. We have more than enough money to spy on our own citizens but not a red nickel to spend on programs that benefit the social good. In fact, anything of social value is bad, while anything enhancing the purses of the top 2% [those jokingly referred to as the job creators] is good, good, good.

        I’m not sure how much crazier the dialogue can get. Ron Paul wants to do away with FEMA and dreams of living the way we did in 1900. A writer at Firedoglake reminded readers that on September 8, 1900, the Galveston Hurricane blew in, killing over 6000 people. Michelle Bachmann wants the EPA to go bye-bye because obviously we don’t need to concern ourselves about water or air quality–there are always gas masks and who needs clean water? Another GOP winner wants to kick the National Weather Agency to the curb. And Cantor’s remarks recently about no aide to earthquake/hurricane ravaged districts without cuts somewhere else borders on the insane. Now we’ll hold people’s lives as ransom unless we do what the TP fringe demands.

        We’ve got to be reaching a tipping point where people blink and say: Enough Already!

        I’m going to be very interested in seeing how the planned protests on Wall St in September and the DC sit-in in October are both handled and covered. I’ve been annoyed but not terribly surprised that the push back at these townhall meetings in Republican districts have received so little attention–far less than the earlier TP protests. Even the demonstration and arrests in DC over the Canadian pipeline have been glossed over by our so-called press.

        And it is depressing!

  3. northwestrain says:

    Sorry to hear about Irene’s impact on Vermont — not surprised to learn that the massive entertainment media isn’t reporting what’s happening north of NYC.

    I’ve always been disgusted with the corporate media’s non reporting of the rest of the US and the world. I gave up watching the Olympics or having any interest what so ever when the US media reported as if the only time zone that mattered was the NYC time zone. West coast only got to see what happened long after NYC watched a delayed broadcast from Asia.

    When I lived on the east coast — all news about the west coast was LA centered — as if Northern CA, Oregon, Washington etc. did not exist. Know it all New Yorkers would make remarks about “the West Coast” based on misinformation. Of course the newspapers had features about the “west coast” which were always about LA only.

    Of course now living on the west coast — most people here don’t know much about the east coast and thanks to news reporting think that NYC means the whole state of New York.

    Hillary Clinton is the only National candidate who in the 2008 Prez campaign could fly into town and give a non teleprompter speech and make it sound like she had at least done her homework about the State and the region she was visiting.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the coverage afforded VT about the effects of Irene.

    It seemed as though once the storm crossed the border of MA the news outlet shut down. VT suffered a devastating blow, perhaps more so than NY or MA for that matter, but once it left here it was almost forgotten.

    And Nancy Grace on “Dancing With the Stars”? The stupidity never ends.

  5. HT says:

    I remember Catch22, the book and the movie. Seminal anti-war literature. My favorite character was Major Major Major, as played by Bob Newhart. I will never forget the scene with him on the toilet. BTW, the movie was so disturbing that I went home and drank too much to forget. That was over 40 years ago, and I still remember – so yes, Heller will be remembered long after Updike’s name turns to dust. I did try reading Updike – turgid romance one step removed from Harlequins.

    • bostonboomer says:

      You should try reading Catch-22 again. I’ve read it three times, and I’d like to read it again. I find that I experience good books differently as I get older I’ve read Huckleberry Finn several times, and the same thing happened. Both books are much darker than they seem when you’re young.

      The movie of Catch-22 was very disturbing and I’ve never been able to watch it a second time. The book is much better.

      • HT says:

        Perhaps I shall. I think I still have a copy in my book case, although I’m not sure I want to read a “darker than I remember” scenario, however I’ve been reading about serial killers lately so how much darker can it be? Thanks for the suggestion.
        I also have never been able to watch the movie a second time. That scene with Jon Voight on the tank near the end haunted my nightmares for years. Funny, I’ve never been able to tolerate a Voight movie since them – although I did like when he got swallowed in Anaconda (one’s kids love grisly movies, and when they were small, I watched with them so we could discuss how ridiculous they were).

      • northwestrain says:

        HT — serial killers??

        The Zodiac Killer was the first one I remember.

    • northwestrain says:

      Catch22 — reminded my maternal side of the family of their older brother. WWII — he was at first trained as a photographer — extensive training. Then he was assigned the job of tail gunner — life expectancy — not long. So uncle wisely refused — I’m not sure how he got away with refusing. My other uncle (a B-25 pilot) wasn’t pleased about his brother’s refusal to fly. Anyway between the two brothers and changing of the rules — and military double talk — they lived a mild version of the Catch22. The book really exposes a lot of stupidity of “the rules”.

      Growing up on military bases and then watching Catch 22 — I really felt like I was watching a documentary film.

      • HT says:

        re your question about serial killers, they were around a long time before Zodiac turned up and disappeared. Perhaps the most famous – Jack the Ripper – ugly little man who was never caught. Albert Fish, Elisabeth Bathory – the list is a long one. I have no idea why I find the subject fascinating, however I have read Robert Ressler, John Douglas and the others who created the Behavioral analysis concept and were the inspiration for many movies – my favorite being Manhunter (cause I really was attracted to William Petersen). The bean counters remade it a few years ago as Red Dragon. Not as good as the first in my opinion.

      • northwestrain says:

        One older than Jack the ripper — from the 4 corners region — Prehistoric serial killer was identified by a Physical Anthropologist.

        For me personally I didn’t realize that monsters walk among us until the media latched onto the Zodiac Killer — plus I knew two of the victims (classmates).

        Most serial killers are highly mobile — the Zodiac was probably a merchant seaman — he supposedly confessed to a SF lawyer years ago.

        Modern Cops are doing a better job of linking similar crimes — so we are now all aware of serial killers.

    • dakinikat says:

      I had to read catch 22 for ninth grade English. I was amazed it made it to curriculum but I went to a very progressive and modern school district. I actually read it. We had to read catcher in the rye that year too. Both books are regularly banned these days from school libraries. I had no idea how fortunate I was to have such a great school district until much later. I was still pretty bored until graduate school but at least we were exposed to all kinds of things.

  6. northwestrain says:

    That map is great!! And very true — if asked to draw a map, my guess is that a huge majority of US citizens would come up with a variation. When I was in Massachusetts when the locals spoke of “the South” they were always talking about Connecticut.

    Also it is amazing how many people don’t realize that there is a NEW Mexico — a US State of Mexico. I tell people that I’m going to New Mexico and they automatically translate that the Mexico. No — I’ll say — New Mexico — the US state of New Mexico — next to Texas, east of Arizona etc.

  7. WomanVoter says:

    Congressmen Put Constituents Who Asked Tough Questions On A ‘Watch List’

    In recent weeks GOP congressmen have resorted to all sorts of underhanded schemes to avoid interacting with their angry constituents back home over August recess. Now two Republican freshmen, Reps. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Tim Griffin (R-AR), are taking this trend one step further, using disturbing intimidation tactics and “watch lists” to discourage constituents from asking them questions:

    Rep. Webster’s Winter Garden, Florida district office gave out a “Watch List” of six Floridians who had asked questions at Webster’s previous town halls. The list, with the header “For the Media,” included names, photographs, and questions that members of the media should ask them. …


    I guess that the Patriot Act is now being used to suppress the voters and to keep the ‘elite’ ultra wealthy and those that do their (Greedos) bidding. I guess we are some list some where…

  8. djmm says:

    Maybe it is because Mr. Cantore is from Vermont, but The Weather Channel has been covering the issues there from the storm.