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Longwood Gardens. Photos by joanneleon. January, 2013

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Sony Pictures official finds Academy member's protest to Zero Dark Thirty torture propaganda to be abhorrent.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Does “Not Advocate Torture” Says Sony’s Amy Pascal After Oscar Voter Reveals He Won’t Vote For Film

Sony Co-Chairman Amy Pascal today responded strongly in the negative to accusations from AMPAS member David Clennon that the Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of torture. Clennon said Friday that he would not be voting for the Kathryn Bigelow directed film because it “makes  heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.” Zero Dark Thirty is up for five Academy Awards this year including Best Picture. Speaking at an anti-torture protest in downtown LA on Friday, the actor also urged other Academy voters to follow his lead.
[...]
Here is Amy Pascal’s statement:

“Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate torture. To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate.  We fully support Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and stand behind this extraordinary movie. We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in AMPAS as a platform to advance their own political agenda. This film should be judged  free of partisanship. To punish an Artist’s right of expression is abhorrent.  This community, more than any other, should know how reprehensible that is. While we fully respect everyone’s right to express their opinion, this activity is really an affront to the Academy and artistic creative freedom. This attempt to censure one of the great films of our time should be opposed. As Kathryn Bigelow so appropriately said earlier this week, ‘depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices; no author could ever write about them; and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time.’  We believe members of the Academy will judge the film on its true merits and will tune out the wrongful and misdirected rhetoric.”
UPDATE: Sheen, Asner Add Voices to 'Zero Dark Thirty' Protests

Sunday Update: Ed Asner and Martin Sheen, two longtime liberal activists, are now throwing their weight behind David Clennon—and going further by asking fellow actors to not vote for Zere Dark Thirty for Best Picture. Asner added in the memo: “One of the brightest female directors [Kathryn Bigelow] in the business is in danger of becoming part of the system.”

Ex-CIA Agent Calls 'Zero Dark Thirty' an 'Infomercial' for Interrogation (Video)

Former CIA agent Lindsay Moran is questioning why the White House continues to cite national security in its withholding of photos of Osama bin Laden’s dead body -- even as Zero Dark Thirty chronicles in detail the hunt for the terrorist mastermind.

“What I find ironic is the government claiming that this is classified information and would put Americans at risk at the very same time that two Hollywood filmmakers were given unprecedented access to the CIA -- basically made an infomercial about CIA interrogation,” Moran said during an appearance Friday on Current TV’s The Young Turks.

“Zero Dark Thirty is an amazing movie, but very revealing about the entire hunt for Osama bin Laden,” she added. “It contains a lot of disturbing scenes of detainees being tortured.”
Moran went on to speculate that seeing Zero Dark Thirty would do more to radicalize potential terrorists than actual photos of bin Laden’s dead body.

Below are excerpts of Parts I, II, and III of Pilkington's series on the origins of neoliberalism over at the excellent nakedcapitalism site.  I'm investing the time in reading all three now so I thought that I'd place them here for anyone who is interested.  I think it is a good time to step back and look at the big picture, regroup, while also staying with the activism and the issues of the day.  I don't have much faith that the current leaders of the Democratic party will listen to a thing that we say now that the election is over.  We're just dirt again, a nuisance to be managed, and will have little influence.  That doesn't mean that I'll shut up about the things that they are doing.  But it's also the best time to regroup, IMHO, and to try not to do the same things over and over again and expect a different result.  We'll have a fairly short period of sanity, I think, before the election obsession starts all over again.
Philip Pilkington: The Origins of Neoliberalism, Part I – Hayek’s Delusion
It is not only by dint of lying to others, but also of lying to ourselves, that we cease to notice that we are lying.

– Marcel Proust
 

Friedrich Hayek was an unusual character. Although well known to be a libertarian political philosopher, he is also commonly associated with being an economist. And it’s certainly true that at one time Hayek’s focus was solely on economics. In the 1920s Hayek was still within the fold of pure economics, publishing papers and works that were taken seriously by the discipline. However, by the 1930s Hayek’s theories had started to come apart at the seams. Exchanges between Hayek and John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa show Hayek as confused and even somewhat desperate. It was around this time that Hayek discontinued making any substantial contributions to economics. Not coincidentally this overlapped with the time when most economies, mired as in Great Depression, demonstrated that Hayek’s theories were at best impractical, at worst a complete perversion of facts.

So, Hayek turned instead to constructing political philosophies and honing a metaphysics rather than engaging in any substantial way with the new economics that was emerging. When pure logic and empirical reality ceased to support Hayek’s emotionally charged ideology he turned, to the more malleable sphere of meaning and metaphysics. He became concerned with watery terms like “freedom” and “liberty”, which he then set out to impregnate with a meaning that would support his dreams. The most famous result of this period of conversion, which resembled less St. Paul on the road to Damascus and more so an alcoholic who had hit rock bottom, was Hayek’s 1944 work The Road to Serfdom. In a very real way it was this book that marked the close of Hayek’s career as a serious economic thinker and set him on the path of the political propagandist, agitator and organiser.

Philip Pilkington: The Origins of Neoliberalism, Part II – The Americanisation of Hayek’s Delusion
Shared psychotic disorder, or folie à deux, is a rare delusional disorder shared by two or, occasionally, more people with close emotional ties. An extensive review of the literature reveals cases of folie à trois, folie à quatre, folie à famille (all family members), and even a case involving a dog.

– Medscape Reference

In the previous part of our series on the origins of neoliberalism, we saw that the vigour mustered to start the movement on its way was generated by an enormous repression undertaken by the Austrian political philosopher Friedrich Hayek. When Hayek saw his intellectual position, a position in which he had invested most of his emotional energy, falling to pieces due to contemporary economic events, political happenings and theoretical debates, he opted to seal himself into his own mind and reject reality. Instead he began pushing a political philosophy and a metaphysics that he set to work constructing and disseminating. In this part of the series we explore in more detail the fruits of his labour in America.

In the following two parts of the series we draw extensively on the excellent work which a number of historians of science have undertaken and published collectively in the volume The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. We cannot recommend enough that the interested reader searches out this volume for more details of this extremely important institution which, in a very real way, has come to shape our political discourse today.
 

Pilkington: The Origins of Neoliberalism, Part III – Europe and the Centre-Left Fall under Hayek’s Spell
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.

– Sun Tzu

In part one and two of this series we explored how Hayek waged war on what he thought was the cause of all the political ills of the 20th century: namely, economic planning in all its forms. We also saw that Hayek’s doctrine of classical liberalism and anti-statism proved too radical for American political and business establishment and that it required diluting by Milton Friedman.

We turn now to Europe, which would come to adopt its own form of neoliberalism. Once again, while the end result was a somewhat different creature from that conceived of by Hayek, it was nevertheless his strained, absolutist thinking that lies at the heart of the system that developed.

I assume there won't be much talk about cutting earned benefits in the State of the Union address but instead the focus will be on a comprehensive immigration bill.  The timing of this should serve to distract the media from cutting Social Security benefits and possibly Medicare and Medicaid.
Obama Will Seek Citizenship Path in One Big Immigration Overhaul

Washington - President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week.
Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats will propose the changes in one comprehensive bill, the officials said, resisting efforts by some Republicans to break the overhaul into smaller pieces — separately addressing young illegal immigrants, migrant farmworkers or highly skilled foreigners — which might be easier for reluctant members of their party to accept.

Mali Islamists counter attack, promise France long war

(Reuters) - Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels launched a counter-offensive on Monday in central Mali after four days of air strikes by French warplanes on their strongholds in the desert north, promising to drag France into a long and brutal Afghanistan-style ground war.

Anonymous Hacks MIT, Leaves Farewell Message for Aaron Swart

The Anonymous hacktivist group appears to have hacked MIT's website, leaving a tribute for Aaron Swartz, the online activist who recently committed suicide.
[...]

"We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them.

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of copyright and intellectual property law, returning it to the proper principles of common good to the many, rather than private gain to the few.

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for greater recognition of the oppression and injustices heaped daily by certain persons and institutions of authority upon anyone who dares to stand up and be counted for their beliefs, and for greater solidarity and mutual aid in response.

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all."







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Debate

Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky

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