Posted by: quiscus | April 24, 2012

April 24, 2012

1. “How Think Tanks Think

When liberal Americans find themselves at a loss as to why Democrats appear to walk, talk and gurgle like Republicans on national security issues — especially during election season — they honestly need to look no further than the powerful think tank apparatus in Washington for the culprit.

First of all, it is important to understand that Washington is place that breeds and feeds only on power — power ordained on seemingly endless revenue sources, charitable, political and the kind you and I send to Uncle Sam in a thick white envelope every April 15. One’s power is determined by their placement in the pecking order and every four years elections determine who is in the big house parlor holding the purse, and who is stewing in the guestroom, plotting to take over when the other dies.

Everything else — the non-profits, lobbyists, unions, trade associations, and all the agencies that make up the massive federal bureaucracy, are the animals in the barnyard, fighting for slop and supremacy. Not surprisingly, the military rooster is usually bullying everyone around, including the thin skins in the house.

Thus, after endless campaign slogans calling for “reform” and “change” and “getting the money out of Washington,” there’s never any real effort at doing any of those things when the time comes, because no one, once in Washington, wants to alter the stakes. Locked into this timeless struggle, Republicans and Democrats know that money is power and vice-versa. The man who once said “I hate a Roman named Status Quo!” never sat in the Roman Senate.

Which brings us to our vaunted think tanks. The most influential ones in Washington have the most money (tons of contributions from corporations, foundation grants, individuals and associations) and with few exception play the biggest role in advancing Republican and Democratic agendas, though for tax purposes most will call themselves “non partisan” or some such hooey. Those more obliquely partisan still fall along “liberal” or “conservative” lines (with Cato the only major libertarian vessel). ”

2. “WEAPONIZATION OF THE FOOD SYSTEM: Genetically Engineered Maize Threatens Nepal and the Himalayan Region

Not only Nepal but the entire Himalayan region is under threat. Genetically Engineered seeds are weapons of mass culling. The Nepalese Government’s foolishness in inviting USAID and Monsanto for ‘agricultural development’ through genetically engineered maize will destroy the quality of its livestock and humans. The contamination of its fragile ecosystem will be in perpetuity and irreversible. ”

3. “Iran Terror to the South!

The Obama administration formally adopts one of the more inane bits of right-wing fear-mongering dogma

For quite some time, right-wing dogma has warned that Iranian Terror is taking hold and expanding in Central and South America thanks to improving relations between Iran and several Latin American governments, as well as due to growing Hezbollah cells. In fact, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum all warned of these menaces at various points during the GOP primary debate, prompting a rating of “Mostly False” from PolitiFact after a detailed analysis of those claims. Like so much inane right-wing dogma, this has now been formally embraced by top-level Obama officials. This menace, of course, was what was invoked by the laughably absurd claim that Iran’s Quds Forces had formed an alliance with Mexican drug cartels to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador on U.S. soil.”

4. “Gay literature’s new wrinkle

Nobel-winner Herta Müller has written a dazzling new gay novel. Does it matter that she’s heterosexual?

This week sees the publication of “The Hunger Angel,” by the Romanian-born German author Herta Müller. It’s her first novel to appear in English since she won the Nobel Prize three years ago, and the book, set in a Soviet labor camp in the years after World War II, arrives in America trailing behind it a passel of rave reviews in the European press: a masterpiece, they say, to be put next to Solzhenitsyn or Primo Levi.

But, more quietly, “The Hunger Angel” is something else – a major addition to the tradition of gay literature, and a rare evocation of gay life in the war years and after. Leo, the narrator, is just a teenager when he’s deported from Romania to the Ukraine, but he has already had his first “strange, filthy, shameless and beautiful” assignations in the town park and the local bathhouse. At first he sees his deportation as a welcome escape from his Nazi-supporting father, and a mercy for the mother he truly loves, for in his own eyes he is a double disgrace: not just gay, but an ethnic German who sleeps with Romanians. In the camp, hunger becomes all-consuming, and he longs for home, but he also watches fellow skin-and-bones detainees sneak off to an industrial wreck for sex and knows, “If I’d been caught in the camp I’d be dead.” “The Hunger Angel” lets a gay man embody universal themes of suffering and endurance but also captures the unique contradictions of gay desire – a substantial accomplishment, and one that’s even more impressive because Herta Müller is a straight woman.

Müller is part of a small but growing number of heterosexual writers publishing novels that not only include gay characters as central parts of their narrative, but are largely about gayness itself.”


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