June 26, 2010

Live from Detroit: Oliver Stone’s new movie, Zionism & potato chips

I’m currently manning a booth at the Detroit Social Forum, and across the aisle from me is a booth run by Katrina victims who have driven all the way up from New Orleans. And guess what? Katrina is STILL the issue.

“15,000 perfectly good housing units have been destroyed in NOLA since 2005,” said one woman manning the “Stand With Dignity” booth. “Not enough affordable housing is being built to replace the homes that were lost, and NO ONE is being issued HUD housing vouchers.”

250 Katrina survivors came up here from New Orleans to make their pain known. And they gave me a free breakfast too. And sold me a mini Second-Line Club umbrella for my granddaughter Mena who loves umbrellas.

Then Forum members were given a sneak preview of the latest Oliver Stone movie last night. Did you know that Stone went to South America and did a documentary on the new “Bolivarist” leaders down there — including a big long interview with Hugo Chavez that apparently lasted for days. They went to Chavez’s hometown. He also drove Stone through some corn fields. “This is where we make all those Iranian atomic bombs,” Chavez joked. Stone also included that famous clip of Chavez saying, “You are a donkey, Mr. Bush,” wherein everyone in the audience laughed.

There was also an interesting clip of GWB saying, “The best way to revitalize the economy is war.” Wrong, Mr. Bush. That’s just the best way to revitalize the rich. The best way to revitalize the economy is to invest in jobs, education and infrastructure — and to tell weapons manufacturers to go take a hike.

Then Stone interviewed Evo Morales and the “Bolivarist” presidents of Ecuador and Paraguay. Who would have ever thought that Paraguay would go socialist! Paraguay? And then Stone interviewed Raul Castro. I wanna interview Raul Castro! I’m all jealous.

Anyway, the Stone preview was a big success. People flooded the theater. People were jamming the aisles and even lying down on the stage. Don’t tell the fire marshall.

I don’t think that “South of the Border” will ever become a blockbuster at your local cine-plex but I gave it two big thumbs up.

Then I trudged back to my newly-found fleabag motel, past Cadillac Drive and Chrysler Drive and the General Motors headquarters, which appears to have been built from mostly glass and chrome. But its flags were all at half-mast. In honor of the long-overdue death of GM’s famous gas-guzzlers? Then I trudged some more — past several large buildings that were boarded up and deserted, and a convenience store where I bought a bag of “Better Made” potato chips, Detroit’s finest chips. Founded in 1930. “For your eating enjoyment, our potato chips are cooked in the finest oils, contain 0 grams of Trans Fat and are flavored with the highest quality seasonings.” I’m saving them for breakfast.

I also talked with someone who had just gotten back from Nepal. “I met an Israeli girl over there who had just finished her military service and was on walkabout. She said that she was a complete Zionist. She said that Israel used to be all theirs — meaning the Zionists of western European origin — but now Israel’s majority consists of Sephardi and eastern European Jews. She hated that. And she kept talking about ‘Zionism, Zionism, Zionism’. But then she also incidentally mentioned that she planned to get out of Israel and move to Europe just as soon as she could.” Interesting.

But after working the Free Palestine booth for three days, I was beginning to fade. I mean, how many freaking brochures can one hand out? Hundreds! And how many arguments over the Palestine Question can one survive? Not all that many happened here, actually. Most people here at the Forum tend to agree that the issue of fairness for Palestinians is right up there with issues like fairness for Native Americans, oil spill victims, workers laid off when their jobs moved to Asia, voters, people who still believe in democracy and the Constitution, victims of corporate America’s war on the middle class, Afghan and Iraqi women and children caught in war zones, victims of bank greediness, victims of media war-mongering, victims of environmental sloppiness, and victims of corporatists, racists, neo-colonialists and misguided viewers of Fox News.

Then Noor Elashi walked by my booth and told me her story — and I was shocked. Apparently her father had been happily running a charitable organization called the Holy Land Foundation, which collected money for Palestinians in need. The foundation then gave its donations to a zagat committee to distribute in Palestine — the very same zagat committee that distributed monies from the American Red Cross, US-AID, the United Nations, etc. Then Noor’s father came under viscous verbal attack by Zionists for helping malnourished Palestinian children. And while under such severe attack, Noor’s father kept asking the U.S. government to please tell him if he was doing anything illegal or wrong — and they kept telling him, “No. You’re fine.”

And then suddenly Noor’s father found himself being charged by the feds with financing a terrorist organization. And now he is serving a 65-year jail term — and on trumped-up evidence too. Yikes! Shades of Nelson Mandela and Wen Ho Lee!

“But why aren’t the American Red Cross, US-AID and the U.N. being charged with helping terrorist organizations as well?” I naively replied.

“Because of pressure brought to bear on the federal government by Zionists.” Double-yikes.

Do you know what this means? It means that anyone who asks for justice for Palestinians — or even just tries to raise their standard of living out of the dust — may be facing a possible 65 years in jail! Even me. Even you.

Right now, all I have to worry about is figuring out what to eat for dinner tonight. But who knows? If I keep on fighting for justice for Palestinians, I may never have to worry about what I will be eating for dinner ever again — or at least not for the next 65 years — because I will be having all my meals catered for me until I’m 133 years old by United States government correctional facilities.

PS: Here’s an important editorial from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. I usually don’t print other people’s stuff in its entirety (because I like my stuff better), but this is important. The article is called, “Israel should be thankful it didn’t make it to the World Cup”:

An Israeli presence at this greatest of global sporting spectacles would have been guaranteed to attract an unrelenting wave of protests, PR stunts and bad publicity. As the World Cup progresses, Israelis might consider sending thank-you bouquets to the national soccer teams of Switzerland and Greece, who knocked Israel out at the qualifying stage.

Of course, it would be nice to wrap ourselves in blue and white, and cheer on the likes of Yossi, Guy and Ben. But on this occasion, one should probably be thankful that we didn’t make it.

There were large demonstrations in Cape Town last week following the Mavi Marmara incident. An Israeli presence at this greatest of global sporting spectacles would have been guaranteed to attract an unrelenting wave of protests, PR stunts and bad publicity.

In the days since Operation Sky Winds, Israel has been able to get a glimpse of the future and into the abyss that awaits if we continue on our current course. It is a future replete with both insecurity and the indignity of global opprobrium and sanctions. Palestine has now irrefutably become a global cause. That is certainly inconvenient for Israel and maybe unfair.

Popular consumer, labor union, and cultural boycotts are gathering new momentum. Israel’s predicament will not be rectified by better PR or a new foreign minister; it has become structural and therefore far more worrying.

The logic of the kind of unarmed resistance represented by flotillas to Gaza is to shine a light on the wrongdoings of an offending party. Ideally, one will succeed in appealing to the better nature, to the humanity, of the offending party (Israel), and its behavior (in this case, the blockade on Gaza) will be corrected. If not, then one may seek to shame that party in the court of global public opinion. Any over-reaction or additional offensive behavior will only serve to strengthen the case of the light-shiner and “prove” the original premise of wrongdoing.

In this instance, Israel’s leadership played its role with Lionel Messi-like perfection.

In short, the game is up. This is not defeatism — it’s an acknowledgment of a reality that, by ignoring, causes Israel to imperil itself. It cannot be reversed by a good YouTube video or by cloning President Peres. An occupation that just entered its 44th year and entails denying basic rights to millions of Palestinians can no longer be sanitized. As long as Israel maintains that occupation, the costs will become increasingly burdensome.

Having lost the world, Israel’s focus turns in on itself. The country’s leadership has to work harder to keep its own public on board for the occupation project. This requires a growing suppression of dissent, further ostracizing Israel’s Palestinian minority, and ever-more aggressive appeals to Jewish national pride. Democratic norms are thereby eroded, further feeding the tarnishing of Israel’s image. This is the vicious cycle in which Israel is embroiled.

It is true that there will almost certainly always be unjustified prejudice toward Israel. Whatever it does, some people will always be out to get us. But prejudice is not what motivates the vast majority of those mobilizing in solidarity with the Palestinians. The occupation is the oxygen of their campaign, and the vast majority seek an end to it — not to Israel itself. An Israel that fails to appreciate this and which sustains the occupation is the single most proximate cause of its own delegitimization.

It is still in our power, however, to change all of this. We can genuinely end the 1967 occupation and live up to our declared democratic ideals.

But if Israel does not take the lead, then let us at least hope that our remaining friends in the world will step forward with their own proposals and that we in turn will have the wisdom to say yes to them.

Enjoy the World Cup, and let’s look forward to Israel’s qualification in 2014 being all about soccer and blissfully devoid of politics.

May 2, 2010

‘Shorting’ Explained

Filed under: BartCop Page,Commentary,Opinion — zelator @ 1:33 pm

Having spent a good deal of time working as a consultant for our friends on Wall St.,  I have a pretty good handle on the technical ins and outs of the trading biz.  I have seen hundreds of commentaries on stories about the latest fiasco, and many of them are of the simple nature of ‘what the hell is shorting?’, or words to that effect.

So let’s get to it.  Let’s say you just want to make money on stocks the ‘obvious’ way – by buying some shares at a lower price, then selling them at a higher price.  This is what is known as a ‘long’ position; you are holding on to them in the hopes that in the ‘long’ run they will increase in value.  Let’s also say that you don’t want to pay cash – you might borrow $10,000 from me just to purchase some stocks.   If the stock value is, say ten bucks, you can buy 1000 shares of this stock for $10,000.  So you owe me $10,000 and you are now in a ‘long position’ of 1000 shares.   

OK – let’s say the stock price goes up to twenty bucks.  Now, if you want, you can sell your 1000 shares to someone for $20,000.  You owe me $10,000, so you keep the other $10,000.  That is YOUR profit.  I could profit by charging you interest on what you owed, but that just muddies the water.  Also, someone somewhere will get a chunk of your ten G’s as a commission.  If the stock DROPS in value, you lose and you have to give me some cash to make up the difference.  Pretty straightforward.

So how do you make money in a ‘short’ position?  We know that we need to hope that the value of the stock goes down, right?  So how do we make money? 

Let’s say instead of you borrowing money from me, you borrow some stock from me that I already own.  I take 1000 of my shares in this company and let you hold onto it for a little while.  At some point in time, you have to return those shares to me, regardless of the price of the shares.  If you take them and they are worth ten dollars each, it will cost you $10,000 in stock to pay me back, and neither you nor I will have lost any money.  However, if the value of the stock drops to, say, eight dollars, it will only cost you $8000 to pay me back for $10,000 worth of stock!  You have just made $2000 in a short sell.

So how does this tie in to the Goldman Sachs investigations?  Quite simply – if you have the credit, you can get a short position not just on equities, but on any security – foreign currency, bonds, or the dreaded mortgage-backed securities.  So – if you are selling bad mortgage-back securities to little old ladies and making a profit on the commission, then reaping the rewards for your short bets against the crappy securities you sold them, you are doing approximately what Goldman Sachs is accused of doing.

Remember – money doesn’t buy you happiness.  If it did, there would be no such thing as capitalism.

December 17, 2008

Axl Rose and Chinese Democracy owe the Chinese an apology

Filed under: BartCop Page,Music Review — N @ 8:49 pm

Axl should just apologize to the Chinese now and get it over with. With that over let’s head straight for the heart of the matter: The first Guns n Rose’s album in 13 years is to put it plainly, a pile of decayed roses lying in a mound of dog shit. At times the album is wildly off the map, completley  horrible and way unhinged none of which is a complement. Rose has taken all that was good from the original Guns, the very ingredients that made them the biggest rock band in the world, loud slashing guitars, a punk rock beat and his primordial wailing and turned it into a circus. By taking 13 years of studio time and compressing it into a disc of ridiculously overdubbed guitars, orchestral fanfares, strange hip-hop electronics, metallic tabernacle choirs and his sometime-virile rusted-siren singing he has produced a record not worthy of the band’s name 

This is not the Guns n Roses I knew back in the 90’s. This version is one crazed musician’s attempt to prove that he could be Guns all by himself. Clearly he has failed. If all those session musicians used on the album from, Buckethead to the Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, had stayed the hell away from Rose maybe their careers would be in better places than they are now. As for Axl, hopefully it will be another 13 years before he tortures our ears again. 

Like or hate this review or just got something to say about music let me know at

October 17, 2008 Volume 2230 – Slow Ride

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 1:07 pm Volume 2230 – Slow Ride Volume 2230 - Slow Ride, top toon

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow Abusing Public Trust 
Arrow GOP Losing Ground HOT
Arrow RNC Cockroaches Scurry 
Arrow Voting with your Penis HOT
Arrow Pot Stops Alzheimer’s? 
Arrow McCain-Palin Quotes HOT
Arrow The Real Troopergate HOT
Arrow Mandy Moore ‘Crazy’ 

July 30, 2008

Fear Spam on Obama’s “Tax Hikes”

Filed under: BartCop Page — Peregrin @ 12:54 am

In re:

Doncha wish people weren’t so goddam stoopid?

April 24, 2008

American Flag Pin and Spin

Filed under: BartCop Page — tsumbra @ 12:44 pm

“American Flag Pin and Spin”

Lapel pin patriots or simple specious compatriots?

April 16, 2008

Rootin’ Tootin’ Kahones in a Pant Suit

Filed under: BartCop Page — tsumbra @ 11:15 am

“Rootin’ Tootin’ Kahones in a Pant Suit”

 No petticoat function but Charlton Heston would be proud?

April 13, 2008

The Surge, the Pause – and the Shaft

Filed under: BartCop Page — tsumbra @ 7:34 pm

“The Surge, the Pause – and the Shaft”

Five years down and only 95 years to go?

April 2, 2008 Volume 2135 – Barry rolls a 37

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 7:58 am Volume 2135 – Barry rolls a 37 Volume 2135 - Barry rolls a 37, top toon, The world has had enough

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow McCain is no Centrist HOT
Arrow Obama, seat MI and FL 
Arrow Hillary Challenges Obama HOT
Arrow Style: McCain vs Obama
Arrow Kerry – please shut up 
Arrow Michelle Obama accused HOT
Arrow Clinton going to Denver 
Arrow Big Oil vs Polar Bears 
Arrow Kids Choice Jessica Alba

March 31, 2008 Volume 2134 – Value checking the turn

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 1:44 pm Volume 2134 – Value checking the turn Volume 2134 - Value checking the turn

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow Obama: She can stay HOT
Arrow Hillary crosses the line 
Arrow Psycho Dick Stone HOT
Arrow Dennis Miller’s Day Job
Arrow He’s Not Angry 
Arrow Vets? NO Help for You! HOT
Arrow Katrina Victims – Again 
Arrow Twin Headlines 
Arrow Eva Longoria rumors

March 26, 2008 Volume 2132 – Is it Time?

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 2:15 pm Volume 2132 – Is it Time? Volume 2132 - Is it Time, top toon

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow I fingered Spitzer HOT
Arrow Hillary – out of time? 
Arrow Last Rights for Her? HOT
Arrow Can I ask a question?
Arrow Lobbyists Tied to McCain 
Arrow Slaughtering Bison HOT
Arrow Rohrabacher’s Jihad 
Arrow Obama & White Voters 
Arrow Kelly Ripa Sexy Host

March 24, 2008 Volume 2131 – Gag Me

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 1:25 pm Volume 2131 – Gag Me Volume 2131 - Gag me, top toon

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow McCain and his Press HOT
Arrow Inhofe Hates Troops 
Arrow How I Screwed Up HOT
Arrow Is Chris Wallace Human
Arrow Is Bush the WPE?
Arrow Pope Baptizes Muslim HOT
Arrow GOP Preachers  
Arrow FBI’s fake child porn
Arrow Jennifer Morrison 2nd 

March 17, 2008 Volume 2127 – Stobbaple

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 1:30 pm Volume 2127 – Stobbaple Volume 2127 - Stobbaple, Bush & McCain in Fez regalia, top toon

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow Depression Imminent? HOT
Arrow Edwards likes Hillary? 
Arrow Tracy Morgan on SNL HOT
Arrow Obama and Rezko 
Arrow Merit Badge for Ferraro 
Arrow Hillary voted for war? HOT
Arrow Obama is Toast HOT
Arrow Gays vs terrorists 
Arrow Hayden and Hilary 

March 4, 2008 Volume 2120 – Complete Oxygen

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 12:03 pm Volume 2120 – Complete Oxygen Volume 2120 - Complete Oxygen, top toon - McCain caries Bush's water

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow Hollow Judgment HOT
Arrow Obama gets a Question 
Arrow Obama & Rezko’s Trial
Arrow Is Hillary a Quitter?  HOT
Arrow Don’t Count Her Out
Arrow ‘Sybil’ Clinton, I and II 
Arrow Obama slams his own photo HOT
Arrow Who played race card? 
Arrow Hayden needs a man…

February 14, 2008 Volume 2116 – Scathed

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 5:34 pm Volume 2116 – Scathed Volume 2116 - Scathed, Top Toon, McCain dementia

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow Bush Chronicles
Arrow Dems Torn Apart HOT
Arrow Obama Critic
Arrow GOP Obama Bloggers HOT
Arrow Why I Hate Clinton
Arrow She’s Battle-Tested HOT
Arrow Tards HuffPost 
Arrow Clinton & Superdels
Arrow Mariska Hargitay 

February 13, 2008 Volume 2115 – No Big States?

Filed under: BartCop Page — Chicago Jim @ 3:29 pm Volume 2115 – No Big States? Volume 2115 - No Big States? Top toon

In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…

Arrow Limbaugh vs the GOP
Arrow Democrats torn apart… HOT
Arrow The Theory of Hate
Arrow Obama Criticism HOT
Arrow Clinton Slipping
Arrow Democrat Passion HOT
Arrow It’s Tailspin Time?
Arrow Hate Springs Eternal
Arrow Mischa’s sexy bath 
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