Saturday, May 31, 2008

The point?

By Libby

What am I pissed off about today? Pretty much everything. I feel like moving to the beach and devoting the rest of my life to blogging about fresh fruit and the finer points of coconuts.



It couldn't fail to be more fun than politics.
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Big confessions in small venues

By Libby

As unimpressed I am with Scottie McLellan's soul baring this week, the ensuing navel gazing among the major media figures has been fascinating. Harry Smith of CBS News in a keynote address to the Advertising Council of Rochester said this:
Smith noted McClellan knocked the U.S. media for a past lack of assertiveness in challenging the president's arguments for war, and said he agreed there hadn't been enough media skepticism.

Recalling a trip to Iraq before the war began in 2003, Smith told the audience: "The regret I'll take to my grave is not standing up and saying, 'What are we doing here?'"
We'll all go to our graves regretting he and the rest of his colleagues hadn't done that, but at least he has the decency to admit it.

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Everybody's talking at me...

By Libby

The news is boring me senseless today. I've spent most of my time clearing out old saved links and realizing for all we obsess about the current news cycle, how little changes over time. Take blogs and the media for instance.

Three years ago, Ezra Klein was wondering if embarrassment over their misreporting on the Schiavo debacle would kill off Powerline and came up with one of my favorite analogies.
It's not just that they have no shame, it's that they once met shame on a street, beat the shit out of him, rolled him up in a carpet, and threw him off a bridge. And don't even ask me about the nightmare they put truth through. To paraphrase Marv in Sin City, after what they did to poor honesty, hell must have seemed like heaven.
He asked, "So enough's enough -- can we please stop taking them seriously?" We did do that but it didn't stop them. All that happened is they gave up their weird psycho-sexual nicks.

In 2004 WaPo posted the readers choice best political blogs. National Review's The Corner swept the categories. Kos and Atrios got honorable mentions. That hasn't changed much around the Village.

Around the same time Fox News was bemoaning bloggers, Air America was just starting out, political credentials for blogs has been issued for the first time and everyone was predicting what effect Blogtopia would have on the media.
Blah-blah-blogging may be just a craze to Fox, but to almost everyone else it's already a terrifyingly powerful influence on what the media say and how they say it. And it's an influence that the world's talk radio hosts ignore at their peril.
Turns out we didn't kill right wing radio.

And in 2005, journalists were trying to shut down Fox afiliates.

Two TV journalists have challenged the broadcast license renewal of WTVT Fox-13 asserting it deliberately broadcast false and distorted news reports. [...]

The challenge stems from what the reporters describe as a year-long experience working at the station where they resisted their managers who, they allege, repeatedly ordered them to distort a series of news reports about the secret use of an artificial hormone injected in dairy cattle throughout Florida and nationally.
Fox is still there. Their ratings have slipped some since, but they're hiding facts and lying more than ever and getting away with it. It's not that we haven't had an effect on the narrative, but in the end it seems for all the talking we do, there still aren't enough people listening to each other.

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Friedman's FU formula

By Libby

Because I thought I should come up with something original before Friedman Sucks day is over, I outsourced my mockery. Kind of fits the formula.




Bonus links to the suck. An FU timeline and the moustache of understanding.
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Remembering the Old Rockers

expatbrian

I'm not the only big fan of old rockers who posts some of the good old songs. Artist Bob Rini over at 9 Pound Hammer does it often. Check him out. Its worth the click. I went looking for a little Van Morrison but there are very few videos featuring him. But I did find this nice Morrison tune as sung by another great old rocker.

I admire those who are still mounting the stage, still entertaining us, even as time has mellowed their voices and adjusted their hairlines. And I support our veterans - even the musical ones. Enjoy Joe Cocker and "Into the Mystic".

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Friedman's five year suck up

By Libby

Atrios reminds us that today marks the unhappy anniversary of Little Tommy Friedman's immoral Freudian fantasy. "Five years, or 10 F.U.s, ago today, America's leading foreign affairs public intellectual explained the Iraq war to us."



Atrios modestly fails to mention that it was at this time he coined the phrase, Friedman Unit, to describe Friedman's souless excuse for analysis but Jane remembers how he coined the term that came to be universally understood as six more months of fucked up foreign policy.

Of all the failed pundits who faked up justifications to continue the ill-fated occupation, Friedman, by dint of his undeserved forum, is the worst offender but I can't really do justice in expressing my disgust today, so I'll send to John Amato who collected the links to those who have expressed it better already. Meanwhile, Atrios has been on this all day and sums up the spirit of the occassion perfectly.
So on Suck On This Day we should do our part to convince as many people as we can that Tom Friedman is a blithering idiot and a moral monster. Suck On This Tommy!
Word up and a hearty FU to you too Mr. Friedman. May all those whose lives you destroyed with your malevolent masturbatory fantasies live to see your karmic kickback.

Update: I'm quickly running out of steam today but Atrios is still going.



I think one day isn't going to be enough to cover just how much Friedman sucks.

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Send Blue Girl to Austin

By Libby

I've been spreading some posts around at my other blogs but I'm still moving pretty slow today. While I'm working on something else, I'm just going to steal this one outright from Cernig.
Tammy Bruce, aka Blue Girl, Red State, seriously wants to go to the Netroots Nation conference in Austin, sponsored by Democracy For America. She's up for a scholarship so please take a moment to drop a comment there supporting her application.

Tammy was the woman who filed the legal brief that got the pre-sentencing letters in support of Scooter Libby released to the public. For that alone, she deserves a scholarship as thanks.
She deserves it also for all the fine work she does all over the intertubes. Please do take a moment to make a pitch for her.

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Ted Stevens & James Peake Hate Veterans

expatbrian

At Memorial Day events in Alaska, both Senator Ted Stevens and VA secretary James Peake decided that, instead of honoring veterans, it was a good day to try to screw them over - again. Stevens warned of a "mass exodus" from the military if the 21st Century GI Bill goes into law without major changes.

In other words, don't give them full college benefits after their tour is up (like he got after WWII service) because, heaven forbid, they might want to actually get out of the military when they are supposed to and use those benefits. They might not stay in the military so they can be rotated back to Iraq over and over and over again until they get wounded or killed, their marriage falls apart, or they finally commit suicide.

Instead of that Ted, why don't you reinstate the draft and solve all of those problems once and for all? Maybe because you're a political coward and don't give a shit about our soldiers? Or even worse, maybe because some rich donors son might have to go "serve his country" along with all of the poor ones that already are? Can't have that.

Peake did his part to humiliate the vets by insisting that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is over diagnosed, attaching a stigma to PTSD that the mental health and veterans community have worked hard to remove.

Now isn't THAT a load of Bushco doublespeaking crap. Does anyone agree that the VA should be a completely independent agency and the head of it should NOT be appointed by the president? On the other hand, does anyone remember the VA ever being so political and involved in conflicts like this before? I don't.
"What Stevens and the Bush Administration said this weekend was unfounded and disappointing," Begich said. "While Stevens had his college education fully paid for after serving in WWII, he now wants to hold today’s veterans hostage by not offering them full college benefits. Our veterans deserve care and support for their service, but Stevens and the Bush administration prefer to deny them those benefits."
Peake and Stevens. Two more war criminals for the firing squad.

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A picture is worth a thousand lies

by Capt. Fogg

I guess I should be pleased that the Republican dogs are still gnawing on the bones of Barak Obama's alleged "gaffe" or misstatement about his uncle having liberated Auschwitz. It means they're scraping the bottom of the cesspool for want of anything substantive; but then the Al Gore bit about inventing the internet still flaps the lips of the fatuous and he didn't actually say it.

Glenn McCoy, the cartoonist who appears in the New York Times, is an example of such nonsense, but then most everything he publishes is. Can we really compare the brilliant and erudite Obama to Dan Quayle? Yes, if we're so desperate and if we have an audience so deranged that any spurious attack will please them. Yes, that's just what McCoy does once again in his latest graphic excretion.

Yes, Obama's Uncle ( not his grandpa) was in the unit that liberated part of Buchenwald. If I told you that my great grandfather fought at Antietam when it was really Gettysburg would that be a gaffe? Would it mean he never fought in that war? But with a man like McCoy, all's fair in slime and slander and the Republicans are always right.

The other part of McCoy's coy mendacity is the insinuation that the press doesn't report these egregious "gaffes" because they're so biased in favor of Obama. Since the press has been full of this non-story for days while giving a free pass to the most corrupt, incompetent and blatantly criminal administration in our history, that makes McCoy ignorant, dishonest or both. Since he never has spent a moment illustrating the constant stream of lies, inventions and evasions; the gaffes, misstatements and other verbal idiocies of the Bush presidency, bias isn't a concept he should be hurling about -- lest someone stick it up his nose.


Cross posted from Human Voices

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McCain's Military Bullshit

Anyone here who reads my stuff knows that I support veterans and rant against those who don't. I feel that they all deserve a healthy dose of our respect and honor. Granted, some of them screw up. A horrifying number of them commit suicide. Many many more are homeless. These are problems that need to be addressed by a new administration because the current one just doesn't care about it.

But fact is, I'm really getting sick and tired of listening to John McCain try to make out that he is a better man, a smarter man, and most of all, has more foreign policy experience and is better fit to be president, simply because he is a vet and was a prisoner of war. It's bullshit.

Being a pilot in the military and being a prisoner, especially in solitary confinement does not make one more savvy when it comes to foreign policy. Indeed, grunts on the ground working in and around foreign soldiers and civilians have a much better chance of broadening their perspectives than do pilots flying thousands of feet above it all.

On the other side of the coin, while having military experience can certainly add a dimension of understanding that goes beyond the borders of the US, not having that experience does not mean that anyone who does is better equipped to make tough decisions and to lead.

This whole vet/prisoner of war/officer/pilot thing that McCain exploits every chance he gets is crap. It doesn't mean anything if its not backed up with sound judgement, consistency and a moral code that transcends the greed and quest for power. In McCain's case - well, it ain't the case. He's old, he's utterly dependent upon others to tell him where he stands today and then he changes that tomorrow. He's inept and just not up to the job.

Ask yourself this. If you were the CEO of a huge, ultra complex, multi trillion dollar company, and you were looking to hire a manager to run the whole show, and John McCain was not any better known than any other applicant, would he be your choice? Of course not. Why? Because he has no qualifications. You're not going to hire anyone because they knew how to fly and spent years in a cell. It's honorable, but it's not what's needed for the job.

Another Mac, General Douglas MacArthur said, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Listen up, John. He's calling your name.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Picture of the Day

By Libby

Under the heading, WTF?, watertiger has it. Just when you think it can't get any more embarassing.

Seriously, what is this about? Forget undignified. This does not look sane to me.
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Corporate owners forced media mouthpieces to promote White House lies

By Libby

I'm still on a heavy course of medication for the next couple of days so I've been laying low today. I have a couple of semi-coherent posts up at The Detroit News, one of which I'll expand here a little on Scottie McLellan's book.

The book itself is, as I said last night, too little, too late and is merely an attempt to distance himself from his own culpability in lying us into the occupation. John Cole has the video from an interview on MSNBC and a related item on group think that explains why even today, McLellan calls the administration misguided rather than willfully malfeasant. John also flags a timeless piece from 2005 on how these cretins reduced our international standing to "Not As Bad As" Stalin. A rather pathetically low bar from our glory days as leaders of human rights. Taken as a whole, it's a dramatically sad statement on how far into the gutter this White House has dragged us, against our will, under a false flag of freedom.

In any event, far more interesting than McLellan's sorry excuse for an expose, is the blowback it's produced among the media. Glenn Greenwald covers that story today at some length with testimonials from those in the media who paid the price for voicing skepticism about the erroneous claims prior to the invasion of Iraq and the major voices of protest that were ignored in the cheerleading during the run-up to this disaster.

Even more precious are the outraged howlings of the blithering, overpaid and always wrong punditry who insist they weren't mere stenographers for the White House party line. As Glenn reports:
Network executives obviously know that these revelations are quite threatening to their brand. Yesterday, they wheeled out their full stable of multi-millionaire corporate stars who play the role of authoritative journalists on the TV to join with their White House allies in mocking and deriding McClellan's claims. One media star after the next -- Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer -- materialized in sync to insist that nothing could be more absurd than the suggestion that they are "deferential, complicit enablers" in government propaganda.

I have little doubt that they would be telling the truth if they denied what Yellin reported last night. People like Williams, Gibson and Gregory don't need to be told to refrain from reporting critically about the war and the White House because challenging Government claims isn't what they do. And amazingly, they admitted that explicitly yesterday. Gibson and Gregory both invoked the cliched excuse of the low-level bureaucrat using almost identical language: exposing government lies "is not our job."
I guess on some level that is now true. Once our government gave six rich guys control of virtually the whole media, their job description changed to little more than trained monkeys banging their tin cups for the corporate bottom line. But there was time when it was not only their job, it was the defining mission of a formerly respected profession.

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They burn witches, don't they?

by Capt. Fogg


Who do you think of when you hear "Wicked Witch?" Perhaps you recall the green lady from the Wizard of Oz, but for me it's Michelle Malkin. It takes a certain kind of nut job to see Jesus in bird droppings and really believe it, but to assert that Rachel Ray is secretly supporting international terrorism because she wore a paisley scarf in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial, takes Michelle from Hell.

We're clueless, says she. We (liberals?) are clueless that the Kaffiyeh is the symbol of Palestinian terrorists and even though Rachel is a woman and women don't wear these things; even though she wears it around her neck and not on her head and even though in fact it's a paisley scarf given to her by the producers, that's enough of an argument for the Mad Miss Malkin to expand into a tirade against:
"ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons."
We all know that Left Wing Icons, like Gays and Hollywood celebrities all support violence and terrorism - especially against Israel.

I think I need a scarf to keep my jaw from hitting the floor.

Back in the late 60's I had a Mao hat and little red book that I used to poke fun at the "conservatives" who accused anyone who opposed the war in Viet Nam of being an International Communist conspirator. I think perhaps it's time for me to don a Kaffiyeh myself.

Call me Ismail.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Change for the better

By Libby

I'm sure that his critics will say it's "only words" but it's the first time I've seen any candidate even address the issue.
If elected president, Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama said one of the first things he wants to do is ensure the constitutionality of all the laws and executive orders passed while Republican President George W. Bush has been in office.

Those that don’t pass muster will be overturned, he said. [...]

“I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution,” said Obama.

Other goals for his first 100 days: work out a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq; make progress on alternative energy plans and launch legislation to reform the health care system.
Sounds like a great plan to me.

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Laughing off 'gaffes'

By Libby

I have to agree with Thers here.
This gives me hope for our nation, and I am not joking in the slightest.
And here's the punchline to the referenced post.
Please crawl back under the rock you came out from.
Good day
Raymond Kitchell, veteran 89th Inf Div
I'll probably be stealing that line someday.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Don't buy McLellan's book

By Libby

I'm just home from the surgery which turned out to be much bigger than they expected. To the extent that I understand what happened, my surgeon pulled off a minor miracle and was able to save the facial nerve, although I'm currently suffering some temporary paralysis. In any event I'm too drugged out on pain killers to really blog but I'd note that I spent my conscious portions of the last 24 hours watching CNN on a little teevee screen on a swing arm so I caught the news about Scottie McLellan's "blockbuster" revelations. I'm pretty pissed off by it, but I'm going to have to outsource my commentary to others.

Glenn Greenwald does the righteous media criticism and neccessary debunking in a two part series.

John Cole has a good round up of the reactions, framed with his usual superior snark.

Cernig expresses my disgust and gets the quote of the day on it.
At least we know that, if trials are ever opened at The Hague, it will be easy enough to get them all tattling about each other but did we really expect rats to act any differently?
Meanwhile, The White House issues its usual disclaimer.
"Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad -- this is not the Scott we knew."

More from Perino: "The book, as reported by the press, has been described to the president. I do not expect a comment from him on it -- he has more pressing matters than to spend time commenting on books by former staffers."
Really. If they took the time to respond to every greedy attempt to cash in on Bush bashing from former loyalists, they wouldn't have any time to invent their new propaganda for invading Iran.

In any event, McLellan is clearly telling the truth about the administration's malfeasance but his lame excuses for going along with it are a load of crap, and I don't think anyone should reward him by buying the book.

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The Holy Grail, the lost Ark and voter fraud

by Capt. Fogg

One of the problems with the religious neurosis is that it seeks the sanctuary of belief so avidly that evidence for a thousand demons and a thousand thousand plots spring forth from the minds of believers, like Athena from the head of Zeus. As with the Great Reagan's invented "welfare mother" who lacked only actual existence to be an example of the abuse he believed in, the prophets of the Republican cult, as we see in the closing scenes of Recount, can see voter fraud issuing like a stink from the unwashed minorities they believe compose the Democratic base. It's easy to turn their crimes into virtues when they are seen as efforts to contain a greater evil; greater because it's done by the other, the heretic, the minority, the smelly brown tide kept at bay only by the heroes of elitism Liberty: the Republican Faithful.

So it is that the Republican struggle against the dragon of "Liberal" voter fraud remains as Dahlia Lithwick (Newsweek June 2, 2008) dubs the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Indiana's voter ID law: a solution in search of a problem. The problem is creating evidence of significant incidences of inellegible voters casting ballots and as these would undoubtedly be voters with accents and little money, casting ballots for Democrats.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing of "flagrant" examples, included a 140 year old New York mayoral election and a single Washington incident in 2004. No mention was made of the disenfranchisement of perhaps 50,000 Florida voters in 2000.

Will the Indiana photo-ID requirement keep legitimate voters from participating in elections? I won't indulge in the willful confusion of possibility with probability. I simply don't know that it will or won't. I don't know how many indigents or elderly shut-ins simply don't have passports or Drivers licenses or State issued photo-ID cards. I do know of one very visible case in Palm Beach Florida where the evidence is iron-clad, but the prominent Republican polemicist who committed it wasn't prosecuted. I will venture a guess that some 85 year old black woman from Indiana who doesn't drive a car would be turned away at least and made into a criminal at worst, under the same circumstances. We shall see if voter ID laws are one more tool of repression and authoritarianism in due time. There's no appeal possible from the decisions of a Supreme Court stuffed with Republican activists anyway.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Abusing the neediest children

expatbrian

As a sociology grad student I had the opportunity to work with victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. It's all absolutely heart wrenching but the abuse of children is so emotionally charged that I ended up quitting the program and changing my vocational direction completely. When I realized that I was much more interested in beating the abuser than I was in counseling him (or her), I knew that field was not for me.

This article came out today about a study concerning the abuse of the neediest children in the poorest locations by foreign aid workers.
A new report by Save the Children U.K. accuses some aid workers and peacekeepers of sexually exploiting children living in countries affected by conflict and natural disaster. As Tendai Maphosa reports from London, the report says the general silence surrounding the abuse is also shocking.
I can't even imagine being in a place where there is so much despair, hunger and death, and exploiting that situation for personal gratification. How could you possibly get aroused in those surroundings? Another article goes on to say,
The report details a "litany" of sexual crimes against children as young as six, based on field research in Sudan, the Ivory Coast, and Haiti. The sexual crimes include: being forced to have sex or participate in child pornography; being subjected to improper touching and kissing; or being withheld food unless one performed a sexual favor.
So in other words, aid workers, who have the food to give a desperately hungry child as young as six, will only give that child the food if the child performs a sexual act. I'm not sure I can think of anything more repulsive than that. They ought to be whipped and then shot.

I also ran across this video of workers in a Vietnamese orphanage. It's hard to watch but it certainly can be much worse than this. Its little wonder why some children grow up to be socio and psychopaths.


I'm actually speechless on how to end this post. It's just so fucking sad.

cross posted from World Gone Mad
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Raiders of the lost recount.

By Capt. Fogg

I've yet to read any reviews of HBO's latest creation Recount. It's about the deep, wide and muddy river of corruption that runs through Southern politics and about how democracy was torn from the banks and washed away while America looked the other way or snickered or gloated -- or participated in what may have been the most shameful election meddling in the last 50 years.

The reviews, I'm certain, will fault it for bias, because it damns the Bush organization and the Florida political machine of Jeb Bush. They're certain to say that it's fiction, loosely based on the truth and that there are (hold your nose) always two sides to a story.

There aren't, of course. There's the truth and as many lies as there are liars to tell them and truth is not to be found by bracketing it with lies or finding the mean between the false extremes. It's not fiction that Katherine Harris, who represented both the State of Florida and George Bush's campaign, used $4 million dollars to commission a list of names similar to the names of convicted felons and without confirming the data or informing anyone on the list, used it to turn away tens of thousands of registered voters from the polls without letting them cast provisional ballots. It's not bias to assert that she used every trick she could employ to stall and obfuscate the recount she was required by law to make.

It's not fiction that 80 years of precedent was overturned and replaced by contrived new rules for counting ballots. It's not fiction that minority voters in Florida were warned by people identifying themselves as State Police to stay away from the polls. The infamous butterfly ballots that the nattering nitwits on Fox told us were without problems had major problems. I have 20:20 vision and had difficulty making them line up properly and difficulty making the worn and dull stylus punch cleanly and even in being sure the beat up machine was holding the ballot properly. If you want to believe I can't read or that I think Pat Buchanan is a Democrat or that I'm just plain stupid, go ahead -- but you know better. This is, however, the age of marketing magic and with a wave of the wand and a flap of the jawbone it all becomes the result of stupid, old (the same thing) grandmothers who can't follow instructions and unsavory far left liberal America hating effete Volvo driving welfare abusing Democrats.

It's not fiction that recounts weren't performed as requested, that gangs of Republican thugs, flown in from out of state by courtesy of Bush's best friends at Enron, physically halted the Miami-Dade recount or that the legally mandated recount was deliberately stalled by Republican operatives so as to run out the clock.

It's not fiction that The Republicans on the US Supreme Court recognized the unconstitutionality of this mess, but none the less permitted it "just this one time."

The 2 hour production did cover the invalidation and subsequent re-validation of absentee ballots that had no postmarks, no witnesses and no dates by Republican election commissioners anxious to obtain as many military votes as possible. It didn't mention my county where the Republican commissioner actually took the ballots home without supervision and decided on her own that they must have been valid. There were never any repercussions.

"Democrats go wah. They go wah wah wah" said Ann of the Thousand Lies. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a snicker.

2000 was the year I gave up on the United States of America and although I've since repented to a degree, I will never again have faith in the ability of our democratic Republic to operate as it was designed to do, free of the ability of entrenched power to bend it to their will and against the will and control of the electorate. Since that day, the ability of our government to control what we know, what we believe, and whether or not our votes get counted has grown further. Their power to know what we read and who we talk to has grown and their power to create false history is unmitigated and all but unchallenged.

Recount ends with a dolly shot of a vast warehouse full of boxes containing all the Florida ballots and perhaps it deliberately parallels the famous final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark, slowly revealing, as the camera recedes, the vastness of the endless stacks of crates of artifacts relegated to the dust and official oblivion. It's a metaphor -- a powerful one.

It's not hard to look at history and see the pivotal moments when civilizations begin to fail, governments begin to fall and liberty begins an inexorable slide into the spider hole of authoritarianism and corruption. So far, the presidential election of 2000 seems likely to feature as such in some future volume of the Decline and Fall of the United States of America.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Sign me up for the Starship Federation

By Libby

So I have surgery in a few hours and will be off line for a couple of days but before I disappear I just want to share my awe about NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft that made a safe and flawless landing Sunday on Mars. There's a good video at the link and I discovered that NASA has its own online TV station now. It appears you can get lots of video there. Also, Nicole has one that adds more context.

People take our space program so for granted nowadays but I'm always astounded by it. We have people who routinely fly the space shuttles to our space station and you barely hear about it, unless something goes wrong. Cripes, I remember when they would practically cancel school so you could watch a liftoff and all the stations covered it live. Of course, that was before cable, but still this is a really big deal and the landing and deployment of the solar shields was just poetic in its beauty. Even if you're not a space geek, watch the NYT video. It looks like a Star Wars movie, but this is really our lives. How cool is that?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Trotta's tasteless joke

By Libby

As I said before, I'm willing to give Hillary a pass on the Kennedy assassination remark, but I'm not willing to do the same for this hatemongering by Liz Trotta on Fox News. She's allegedly a professional journalist and doesn't have any reasonable excuse. In the midst of a rant about Hillary, she said this:
Trotta: …and now we have what some are reading—as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama , umm, ah… Obama, well both if we could…haha. ...
She actually giggled, quite taken with her own cleverness and the moderator totally glossed over it. "Talk about how you really feel," is all he said.

Trotta has since sort of apologized.
Oh yes, I am so sorry about what happened yesterday and the lame attempt at humor. I fell all over myself, making it appear that I wished Barack Obama harm or any other candidate, for that matter, and I sincerely regret it and apologize to anybody I have offended. It is a very colorful political season, and many of us are making mistakes and saying things we wish we had not said.
This said after ranting on and on about Hillary's dark soul and how you just don't talk about assassination. Considering her bizarre 'joke,' Trotta should look in a mirror. She's unfit to offer any serious analysis on politics. In a sane world, Fox would be reprimanded by the FCC and Trotta would be out of a job. Not that it will happen. It's okay if it's not about a Republican.

It's exactly this sort of irresponsible 'humor' that has turned our political discourse into a bad joke. TMV has the video and Steve Benen has, as always, some excellent commentary and contact info should you care to register your opinion to Fox and the FCC directly.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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In memoriam

It's Memorial Day so let me take a moment to remember all those who fell in defense of our nation and all those who served and came home.

I've been anti-war all my life but I've always been grateful for those who are willing to make the sacrifice to defend us when it's necessary and appreciate their commitment and valor. Thanks.
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again!

expatbrian

And of course I'm talking about that annual jubilee that so inspires us all with its gaiety, feasting and just plain fun! Yes, it's the Baby Jumping Festival!

Once again, just as they have since 1620, the population of Castrillo de Murcia, Spain will be gathered in the streets to watch grown men dressed like the Colacho or Devil leap over rows of giggling infants in a celebration meant to ward off the devil. The event is held as part of the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi.

Though doctors were standing by, there were no crushed little skulls or other injuries at this years event. Body count statistics are not available for previous years.

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Media Bytes - Get together edition

By Libby

Song in my head. This is just a soundtrack with endless footage of crashing waves. Bonus link for actual Youngbloods fans is this live appearance on Hollywood Palace that starts with an interesting remix of the title song. I feel nostalgic this afternoon about those days. It wasn't that they were better days but they were simpler times and it was easy then to believe that love could change the world. Of all the things I've lost along the long road of life, my youthful idealism is one of the things I miss the most. But on with the show.

In today's reading Dan at Pruning Shears notices the surveillance state is slowly solidifying around us while Congress is asleep at the wheel. Hart Williams discovers he's clairvoyant, delivering a rant a full day ahead of the events. And McCain can't decide which base to pander to. He lost John Hawkins with his latest flip on immigration.

In other campaign news, the guy at Five Thirty Eight, who has been uncannily accurate so far in his predictions on the primaries, used his modeling system to speculate what would have happened if the primary in Michigan had been held as a normal election. His model shows Obama would have won by 4%. This suggests to me that the proposed compromise of seating the delegates by giving Hillary and Obama a split that favors Clinton, is more than fair to her.

The bright spot of the week is that Missouri rejected a photo ID voting law.

The dark spot was news from Belledame who discovered that sunscreen is killing the coral while it's protecting us from skin cancer. I never trusted that stuff. I rarely use it myself. I always thought of it as a systemic poison.

For gossip lovers, Exposed, a profile of ex-Gawker blogger Emily Gould was featured in Sunday NYT magazine. I read the first page and was already bored senseless by her self-absorbed whining so I didn't finish it. Apparently a lot of people are reading it all the way through though. I hear there's a lot of sex in the later pages. TMV has a roundup of reactions, none of them positive.


Moving on to the lighter bytes, I loved this tool. Walkscore rates any address for walkability of the neighborhood. My old digs in lovely downtown Noho had a score of 92. My new digs here have a score of 12. You can see why I've had trouble adjusting.

For your video viewing pleasure, I'm going to repost The Real McCain in case you missed it or forgot to pass it on.

Crinchpin has a new hilarious Gravel ad, Soldier Boy. I think it's a parody but it captures his style perfectly.

And John Cole unearths one of my favorite clips of all time, from WRKP in Cincinatti, Les Nessman in I swear, I thought turkeys could fly.

Finally, moving on to the eye candy of the week, I'm coveting Hecate's herb garden. It reminds me of one of my favorite places, Parc Guell in Barcelona.

You can see Gaudi's work in many of the buildings there, including of course the famous Casa Batllo but the Park is especially splendid.

I heard you were supposed to drink water from the fountain for good luck but I blessed myself with it instead and just tasted a drop from my fingers. And I especially loved the bench. It's hard to find a good photo of it. This was the best I could do, but you get a better idea of how big it is from this video.

The video is not bad. He covers a lot of the spaces, including the inside of the house that Gaudi lived in. He didn't think it was worth paying to see, but I thought it was. Then again I'm a big fan of Gaudi's work.

It's funny looking for pictures of places I've been on Flickr. It seems like everyone takes the same shots and they're not the ones I would taken. My own shots, taken before digital cameras were common, were lost long ago.

Oh, and Happy Towel Day.

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For Ann Jo

By Libby

I don't usually respond to trolls, especially when they show up late to a thread. I ignored Ann Jo when she left a comment on my Baghdad post for that reason and because Fogg dispatched her wankery so beautifully. But I just stumbled across this from Thoreau that sums up my feelings on those that would continue to pretend we did the Iraqi people some kind of big favor by invading and occupying their country. Here's the money graf.

This is hardly news, but it bears repeating: Baghdad has little electricity, little running water, decrepit streets, and no garbage pickup. But it wasn’t like this before the invasion!

Just think about that: The basic services of life, things that we take for granted, and things that Baghdadis used to take for granted, are impossible. And they’re impossible because we went there and replaced an awful but functional system with bloody chaos.

It outrages me more than I can describe that there are still apologists for this. It outrages me more than I can describe that there are people who can look at this and say “Yep, we sure made the right choice there!” And it outrages me more than I can describe that the people who look at this and see no evil are actually taken seriously.
Read the rest and get the links at Thoreau's post.

To be clear, Ann Jo, no it wasn't utopian but it was predictable and for most ordinary people, if they avoided Saddam's wrath, they enjoyed a reasonably comfortable life and felt secure in their own neighborhoods. They don't have that now.

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Everybody says something stupid sometimes

By Libby

Occassionally I find myself in disagreement with my co-bloggers and this is one of those times. In fact, I appear to be in disagreement with all but a handful of bloggers who aren't supporting Clinton. I'm of course, talking about Hillary's unfortunate remark about Bobby Kennedy. Having in my long life made some truly awful, tone deaf remarks that I wished I could have taken back immediately, as I said in my Newshoggers post, I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one. I don't think she really meant that the potential assassination of Obama was a reason to stay in the race and this post in the NYT seems to support that theory.

That's the trouble with the 24/7 newscycle and a lazy media that simply repeat each other's memes. If you buy the spin when it's about the candidate you don't like, it leaves them free to create fake narratives about the one you do. Taken in context, it was still a stupid remark, but not really one of evil intent. I'm more irritated by her comparisons on MI-FL, her campaign's ridiculous math calculations and her continued reliance on negative campaigning. My theory, as detailed at the NH post, is that she's simply generating controversy in order to get back into the news cycle after being ignored for a couple of weeks.

For those who are truly angered, I suggest the best punishment is to ignore her rather than rake her over the coals. She'll be out of the race soon enough and a couple of months from now, none of this will seem all that important.

Update: For the record, while I'm willing to give her a pass on the gaffe, her "apology" really sucked. She should have just owned the mistake and said she was sorry, not try to excuse or explain it away. Furthermore her justifications for using negative tactics against her opponent are still weak to the point of nonsenical. That's not to say I think she shouldn't finish the contests but rather that she should have used these remaining races to make the case on her own merits as opposed to McCain, not Obama.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Obama, watch your back - Update

expatbrian

Apparently I'm not alone in my fears concerning Obama's future health or lack thereof. Hillary seems to be planning on it as well. I just read this good article which points out that she has invoked this "Kennedy assassination" imagery not just this once, but several times over the last few months. Watch the Olberman videos in the same article to hear more.

In a previous post I expressed my worry that, if Obama selected a VP more conservative than himself, he would be taking the chance of becoming a target because, should he be unable to serve, that VP would step directly into the White House. It seems that Hillary is fantasizing about just such a scenario.

Yesterday it was reported that members of her staff are holding secret meetings with Obama people about Hillary joining the ticket. Is she doing that to cover both bases? It's pretty obvious that if Obama were to drop out of this race anytime before the general election, Hillary would be the only democratic candidate and would probably win the White House. But what happens if Obama were to suffer tragedy after being elected? The only way that Hillary could take his place is by being the VP. Otherwise she is not anywhere in the chain of ascension. Its the only reasonable explanation for her staying in the race at all.

Clinton knows that she hasn't got a chance in hell of winning the nomination now under normal circumstances, but if she hangs in there and makes it miserable for Obama and the party, they may offer the VPship just to get her out of the race. In other words, she is willing to hurt the party's chances in the general election in order to implant herself in the the line to the throne. If so, she's as bad as Bush was in 2000 and 2004.

Also, by bringing up the possibility of a Bobby Kennedy like tragedy, she invokes the fears of the democratic voting public who she hopes will say to themselves, 'she's right. If something happens to Obama we want to make sure that our second choice - Hillary - gets in. Not some VP that we know nothing about.'

I'm surprised she didn't bring up the imagery of John Kennedy as well. In one paragraph she could have vividly invoked the horror of those two nightmares. Why didn't she just say,
"Bobby Kennedy getting shot and killed during his campaign and John Kennedy getting shot and killed while in office just goes to show you how important it is to have a good solid second candidate or VP waiting in the wings to take their place."
For all practical purposes, that's exactly what she is saying. And it's disgusting and abhorrent.

This may sound fatalistic and conspiratorial. But this is Washington and when it comes to the fight for the White House, anything goes. And after all of the underhanded, conniving and despicable tactics that Clinton has pulled (refer to Olberman again) I don't trust her and wouldn't put anything past her. I think she has become a real and present danger to Obama, and not just as a competitor for the nomination.

I go back to my earlier recommendation. Obama should name a VP that the rich and powerful Republicans just cannot stomach. Hillary does not fit that mold. It may be the only way to insure his longevity.

cross posted from World Gone Mad

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Deregulation - corporate gain, consumer's bane

By Libby

I remember when the cable industry was pushing for deregulation way back in 1996, we were told this would be a boon for consumers. They told us that we would enjoy a vastly greater variety of choices and that competition would force prices down. Unsurprising they lied. It didn't save us money then and all we received in return were hundreds of more stations that aren't worth watching but we're forced to buy as part of a service package. Today, over ten years later, the cost increases are even greater and farther removed from any inflationary explanation.

They told us the same thing about electricity deregulation and that turned out to be an even bigger disaster. At least the cable companies upgraded their equipment. The electric companies raised rates and allowed the infrastructure to deterioate in favor of short term profits. We won't appreciate the full scope of this until the system fails, which seems to be a matter of not if, but when.

Keep this in mind when people tell you that all regulation is bad and to trust the free market.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Buy a car - get a gun for FREE!!

expatbrian

This story, that didn't make the US headlines (why would it?), was on BBC. A Missouri car dealer has quadrupled his sales by offering a free handgun with every auto purchased. This could only happen in the US of A.
Customers can choose between a gun or a $250 (£125) gas card, but most so far have chosen the gun. Owner Mark Muller said: "We're just damn glad to live in a free country where you can have a gun if you want to."
Muller, reaching under his sagging belly to scratch his balls as he spit out a wad of chaw, said that he's sold 30 vehicles in the last 2 days and every customer except one guy from Canada has chosen the gun over the gas card. No surprise. And where did this marvelous idea come from?
"We did it because of Barack Obama. He said all those people in the Midwest, you've got to have compassion for them because they're clinging to their guns and their Bibles. I found that quite offensive. We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns."
Well, of course you do. What with those terrorists just itching to invade Butler, what choice do you have? Hell, if you buy a car from Max Motors you can carry two! Or why not ten or twenty or a thousand guns! Goddammit, this is Amer'ca and in Amer'ca we got rights!

Uh um, constitutional rights aside, it's a little bit of a stretch to use Obama as an excuse to distribute more firearms, especially off of a used car lot.

What's really offensive here is not Obama's remarks. It's the fact that we live in a country where a car salesmen can give away handguns like gift certificates and no one cares. It doesn't even make the news. (I wonder if they're packin' even when they march into church each Sunday to show what good Christians they are)

I'm sure Butler is a nice, quiet little town and I'm sure the population's average IQ is well over 70. But I just have a funny feeling that I won't be visiting them any time soon.

Author's note: This marks the 500th post at World Gone Mad. I thought perhaps I should do some special post but this one is as good as any.

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For the pipes of the Lord have spoken it

By Capt. Fogg


You know the "reverend" Phelps and you've heard about the Westboro Baptist Church, which consists mostly of his family. They're the creeps who picket military funerals with "God hates fags," "Thank God for 9/11" and "thank God for dead soldiers" banners and tell mourners their lost sons and daughters were killed by God because our country doesn't actively persecute homosexuals.

They appeared in Stuart Florida today to picket a Memorial Day ceremony honoring, as we do on this holiday, the fallen in our many wars: it wasn't a good choice of venue. Local motorcycle clubs, which in this area include many, many veterans, pledged to turn out and they did, the distinctive rumble of V twin's rumbling up East Ocean Drive past the county courthouse and to the band shell and park where the array of white crosses was set out in the 92 degree heat.

Interviewed by the local paper, some tattooed and leather-wrapped bikers expressed their support for freedom of speech and for a country that allows such vermin to exercise it. Like Michelle Obama, I felt really proud for once. There was no violence, just words and signs blaring "don't listen to these idiots."

Asked by a reporter whether he liked what the "church" was doing today, a Phelps offspring of perhaps 5 years of age replied "yes" and "because it makes the Lord happy." like most opinions about what makes God smile, there was no evidence for it.

Whether or not God hates homosexuals or kills soldiers of countries that fail to punish them is something no one can know, but oddly today a drought of many months was broken in the city of Stuart by a heavy tropical thunderstorm, and the rain fell hard enough to bring a man to his knees; pouring down on the crosses, on the Phelps family, on the protesters and veterans alike, drowning the hate slogans of the Phelps', while thunder roared like Yahweh in his glory, blipping his throttle into wide open pipes.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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This land is their land

by Capt. Fogg

I try not to trust official stories, neither the government's or that of political parties. I'm not entirely sure that the oil fields under the north slope of Alaska or the offshore resources in the Arctic are huge and I'm not sure that the reason we don't tap them extensively is the fanaticism of "left wing environmentalist crazies."

Environmentalists, of course can't be summed up so easily and the idea that the unitary government of oil men would be unable to move without their permission seems flimsy. After all the scarcity of oil serves them well and another huge discovery would slash profits.

The standard currency of the world is oil. It props up the dollar which might otherwise be worth very little. How would it serve the people who sell oil to sell it for less? How would it serve the US if OPEC couldn't buy our debt with the dollars it makes?

I try really hard not to trust vast paranoid scenarios and the notion that all the politics of the last few decades is explained by the machinations of oil men, but the arguments of Lindsey Williams have set me back on my heels.

He's been making speeches for years, about the world bank, about the oil cartels and perhaps there are weaknesses in his arguments. Certainly I know oil geologists who strongly disagree. It's far too complex for me to repeat or even to summarize, but listen for yourself. Make some popcorn. It will take you over an hour.

I would like to believe he's wrong, but I think that in essence he's right. I think I've seen new light on our enmity toward Iran. I think the people blaming high oil prices on reindeer huggers are dupes. I think people blaming it on speculators are fooling themselves. I think people blaming it on the Chinese are wrong. I think I'm scared, not because I can't afford $5 gasoline or $10 gasoline, but I'm afraid I've just looked into the mouth of hell and seen Dick Cheney beckoning.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Patriotism

no federal agency has the authority to issue 'official' rulings legally binding on civilians or civilian groups. Consequently, different interpretations of various provisions of the Code may continue to be made.

USFlag.org comment on UNITED STATES CODE TITLE 36 CHAPTER 10


Barak Obama must be seen as the man to beat these days, or at least the man to slime. I've been getting an increasing number of e-mail screeds excoriating him for singing the National Anthem without his hand on his heart. Sometimes the story has him pledging allegiance. Often it includes his appearing without the plastic patriotism pin or pledging to give the country away to "the ragheads."

The latest issue includes references to the flag Code which show Obama to be in violation for not making the required salute, although of course that code clearly states that these rules do not apply to and cannot be made to apply to civilians and any behavior is acceptible as long as respect is shown. Just a little bit of information makes the lie go down, to paraphrase the song.

Much is being made of Michelle Obama's “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.” It's really impressive to watch the faux outrage build up to an hysterical psychodrama. I'm having trouble remembering the last time I was really proud of this country and of course her adult lifetime rivals the age of my favorite shoes. Sure, I'm proud of the part we played in the two World Wars, I'm proud that we landed on the moon, but I'm not proud of Slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, the Trail of Tears, Wounded knee, the battle of Little Big Horn, Joe McCarthy, the internment of Japanese American citizens, the Gulf of Tonkin hoax, the training of the Central American death squads to rape nuns and murder peasants, the sale of weapons to Iran while they were holding US prisoners, and yes, the invasion of Iraq and its attendant hoaxes. Being unable to feel shame is the mark of the sociopath, not the patriot.

So I guess Michelle and I along with her husband aren't Patriotic; at least as long as patriotic is defined by being overwhelmingly proud and elated at every foul, stupid and misguided thing our government has done.

I've yet to receive any of these sneering, cynical and indignant assaults on John McCain, not that there aren't any outraged opponents of the man who waffled about torture and has steadfastly promoted a war while steadfastly opposing anything designed to improve health care benefits for those returning from it. John McCain voted against veteran's benefits in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 and continues to vote against anything designed to benefit the VA hospitals even when (and perhaps because) the bill would be payed by closing tax loopholes.

But John McCain is a patriot - he wears a pin to prove it. He supports the troops as long as it doesn't require putting Halliburton's money where his mouth is.

The VA hospital system is said to be the best health care system, public or private, in the country but the privatization pirates, wearing their patriot pins and waving flags, have been trying to board it and sink it for years. John would rather have veterans go to private health care providers, the same ones who regularly bilk Medicare and deny claims that eat into profits. Why? Ask the lobbyists for the health care industry, the lobbyists for the Cerner Corporation, for instance, who have replaced a high functioning, open source electronic information system with a private, closed source package at the expense of veterans. Why? Could it be because the VA is admired world wide for efficiency and thus contradicts the Great Buffoonicator's proclamation that Government can't do anything?

Who cares? The web of Republican reasoning isn't worth unraveling and there's only a spider at the middle of it anyway. Needless to say, those who scream about flags and pins and national pride the most have their agendas, and one man's patriotism is another man's treason. Oh, and yes, While McCain sold out the vets again, Obama voted for improved benefits. Tell me again about how patriotism is about pins and flags.

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The (neocon) Dream Team

By Libby

Well I see Mikevotes has already won the picture of the day contest but since I still have to work today and don't have time to counter with a thousand words, I'll give you my nominee anyway.



McSame and McJoe, what a team. Click for bonus pic of Holy Joe working the crowd for McNasty. Can we stop pretending Joe has any allegiance to the Democratic party yet?

Meanwhile, I started a big of blog spat in the form of a picture war with Henry Payne, at the Detroit News that also features the McShame Express.

That's all for now but I'm hoping to end this day with enough energy to blog tonight. I have a lot of links saved up that I want to talk about.

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Picture of the Day






(President Bush kisses Erika Wyckoff, who's husband Sgt. Charles Wyckoff, died in the line of duty in Iraq, and was honored, Thursday, May 22, 2008, during the 82nd Airborne Division Review at Fort Bragg, N.C.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome))

[Posted by Mike - Born at the Crest of the Empire]
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fifty gallons of crap in a ten gallon hat

by Capt. Fogg

Dick Cheney. Is he wearing that idiotic hat to cover up his horns or is he just reminding us that Nixon may be dead, but the cowboys are still in control?

Using a captive audience of Coast Guard Academy graduates to promote the idea that occupying Iraq is a "war on terror," Cheney persists in insinuating that because it is a war, it can be won and that because it is a war, to desist would be surrender, betrayal and dishonor. Because it is a war, anything we do is justifiable except to to pay for it -- or end it.

The relentless cramming of the occupation of Iraq into this battered, stretched and sorely abused metaphor of war, the relentless evocation of cheap comparisons to every conflict since Rameses II rode into Kadesh, still stirs the souls of war lovers, a couple dozen of whom, calling themselves "a gathering of eagles," showed up "to support the troops" in some fashion far, far beyond my ability to comprehend.

"We're proud of our government," said one of the eagles.

I won't put words in anyone's mouth, but I would love to have asked him what it would take to turn that pride into shame, or indeed if anything could. I would love to ask whether he would feel pride if we sent troops to club baby seals and dishonor if they were forced to leave any alive. I would love to ask how defending a dishonorable act could be honorable; but of course I don't speak their language or follow their thought processes and I'm sure the answer would be less meaningful than the screeching of birds.

Cross posted from Human Voices
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When life interferes with blogging

By Libby

I'm kind of a mess this morning but I have a short take on yesterday's races at Newshoggers.

I was wondering what people were talking about when they kept making references to the Decemberists yesterday. It turns out they're a band who appeared as the "warm up group" for Obama's big rally in Oregon. Some people are spinning this for the high turnout there but it seems unlikely to me that a locally famous group would draw that big a crowd and even if they wre the draw, wouldn't they have gone home instead of staying around in the hot sun to hear Obama speak? I know I would have, if that was why the main reason I was there.

And speaking of lame spin, MoDo is at again but thank the Goddess we have Molly to translate the MoDodoisms. For myself, I haven't read MoDo in over a year. As Babs Bush might say, why should I trouble my beautiful mind with such ugliness.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trekkin' in Singapore - The Steel Bridge

expatbrian

Yesterday we walked along Singapore's newest next-to-nature attraction, the steel bridge. It meanders through the secondary canopy of another area of rain forest at an average of about 30 feet above ground. It was just enticing. I've got over 20 pictures of this trip posted over at World Gone Mad. Go on over and take a look.
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Tragedy and Courage

expatbrian

Stories of enormous courage always seem to emerge from tragedy. So it was with 9-11 and so it is with the devastating earthquakes in Sichuan Province, China which now number over 75 in the last 8 days. (that's just the ones over 4.0)

Four days after the first quake, with little hope of finding survivors under the mountains of rubble, the body of a young woman was found. She was in a kneeling position, clutching a bundle under her body. In the bundle was her sleeping 4 month old child, still suckling at her mother's lifeless breast.

They were pulled from the debris and the baby was rushed to a medical facility where it was found to be fine. The mother had had the foresight before she died to position herself in such a way that even if she expired, her nipple would still be in her baby's mouth. Whatever reservoir of milk was available, probably saved the baby's life.

When the doctor at the medical facility unbundled the baby he found a cell phone in the wrap. On it was a text message that simply said,
"My dear baby, if you can survive, do remember that I loved you."
Love and courage, pure and simple.

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The cult of Freedom

by Capt. Fogg

It's my personal observation that the average Englishman has a better vocabulary than the average American, but it's not a point I want to argue. That the British are just as full of self-righteous idiocy as anyone is an argument more to my liking, and I have evidence. According to The Guardian, a London teenager has fallen into the hands of the Linquistic Inquisition and is facing prosecution for having publicly used the world "cult" to describe the cult of Elron Hubbard, known as Scientology.

The crusade to rid language of any words that might somehow be construed to be offensive, is raging on both sides of the Atlantic. Such things thrive in inarticulate America, but apparently the Brits ( it seems to be allowed to call them that but don't call the Japanese Japs) are just as bad.

Why isn't Scientology a cult, and whether it is or whether it isn't, why is that a bad word? My casual readings in Archaeology frequently contain mentions of the cult of Isis or Venus or the Magdalene or the Virgin Mary. It derives from the Latin word for worship, but apparently, what's good for one Scholar is bad for another - we must consult the oracle.

The very American Merriam Webster dictionary defines cult as:
  • formal religious veneration
  • a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
  • a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious
  • a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
  • great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.

The veddy British Oxford dictionary adds that the word sometimes describes a religion that exercises excessive control over its adherents, but then all of these definitions can apply and have at times applied rightly and honestly to any religion at all. In fact these are all definitions of religion and that includes the fact that every religion is unorthodox to other religions.

"
Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" read the confiscated placard peacefully displayed at a peaceful demonstration in front of the opulent London Headquarters of the Church of Scientology. Would it have been less "offensive" if it read: "Scientology is not a cult, it is a dangerous religion?" Who can tell, because either statement is, in my reading, equivalent. Someone is telling us however. Someone, some authority not derived from the will of the governed has an arcane system by which their dark stars favor a word on one day or denounce it on another and it sure as hell works in mysterious ways. By mysterious, I mean stupid.

If any speech offensive to someone looking for offense is actionable, then do I have the right to have the Gospel of John confiscated and half the works of Martin Luther banned for vicious condemnation of the Jews? Should the finally deceased Jerry Fallwell have been arrested for saying God Didn't listen to Jews or that the AntiChrist was a Jew? Forgive me for being confused. If Christianity or Islam or the cult of Refafu claims that whatever religion I might have is dangerous to any soul I might have, then Christians or Sufis or any other cultists anxious to discuss the error of my ways should be silenced and prosecuted along with anyone standing at any pulpit, who describes anyone else as a sinner, apostate, heretic, gentile or reprobate. The wages of sin is death? as a member of the Church of Sin and a committed sinner, I'm offended. Call the police! Call my lawyer!

Of course, in the interest of preserving my own freedom of speech I'm not hoping to see any such thing, but I am hoping that whatever mysterious and invisible entity there is that decides what I may or may not say -- and whatever dangerous cult surrounds it -- will reveal itself unto me so that I can dedicate myself to offending it.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Florida

by Capt. Fogg

A place where life is a long summer afternoon of the smells of cut grass and jasmine and new rain drops on dusty hot sidewalks and the feel of bicycle tires on dirt roads and the mysterious newness of old things and memories.

A parallel but separate plane perhaps as is the Florida of the arrivalists who see a clean slate for writing a new story in the old iconography of stucco and concrete and mink coats and champaign and Cadillacs and imported palm trees and grass lawns and condominiums and malls and money.

That shell shop has been here since the 30's and that restaurant -- see where the tourist cabins used to be when there was nothing but sand and pine scrub for miles along the Federal Highway that took you from Maine to Key West, mostly at 35 mph. That little grocery now cut off from the main road, the old, black woman smiling behind the counter who inherited it from her grandmother who ran the only store for miles back when segregation had a long future. That Thai restaurant used to be a fish camp long, long before the new bridge where people would come up from Palm Beach and from way up North to fish in the St lucie.

Nobody tries to grow pineapples out on Hutchinson Island any more, unless it's in the tailored garden of some big house. Most of it has gone back to the impenetrable wetland it used to be when there were bears here, and the Loxahatchee is still a wild and scenic river lined with cypress and oak and filled with alligators. It's still a good place to stop counting the days and to live them as you did when you thought they were endless. There's enough of it still here. Empty beaches still run for miles and miles and people still live in pink houses in charming towns where a cup of coffee is still called a cup of coffee and the restaurants aren't national brands and the fish isn't frozen and sometimes you have to put the engines in neutral to let the dolphins cross the channel and Miami Beach is still a hundred miles away.
















White mangroves on Hutchinson Island


















The Loxahatchee















Nothing but wilderness
















Picturesque Stewart, by the St. Lucie estuary















Dolphin, riding my wake















The Blue Moon and her Captain

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Nothing to hide?

By Libby

I'm off to work for a few hours. Not sure if it's a short or long day but here's something before I go. In a typical Orwellian Bushspeak manuever, the administration has trotted out a new name for new policy on their super duper 'secrets'.

Bush's memorandum, signed on the eve of his daughter Jenna's wedding, introduced "Controlled Unclassified Information" as a new government category that will replace "Sensitive but Unclassified." [...]

Designating information as CUI is left to the "head of the originating department or agency," based on "mission requirements, business prudence, legal privilege, the protection of personal or commercial rights, safety, or security."

The Archives will establish "enforcement mechanisms and penalties for improper handling of CUI." The "controlled" classification "may inform," but will not determine, whether information can be made public in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Yeah right. Translated to realspeak, the Bush regime just made it a lot easier to go after whistleblowers who might expose their criminality and before they're done classifying what you're allowed to know, you won't even be able to find out the current time and temp for your town because those "evil-doing turrists" might use the information to plan an attack.

And the FOIA assurance is a joke. Of course it won't determine anything new. They already make it almost impossible to get anything under the act already.

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John Rambo

expatbrian



I just watched Rambo IV. It was brutally graphic, nonstop action and I just loved it. As Rambo, albeit an older, well seasoned one, Stallone still has what it takes. As a younger man I would have called it kickass. 5 stars.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Obama in Oregon



[By Libby]

Impressive. 75,000 people turn out for an Obama rally. I'm told that represents one eighth of the population of the city. I wouldn't have wanted to be in the middle of that. Crowds that dense make me nervous.

Update: NTodd has more photos from backstage at the press box. I'm hearing this was about double the turnout Kerry got during the general. Pretty astounding for a primary whistle stop. As the candidate said, just wow.

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You want lox with that Mr. President?

By Libby

This may offer a clue on why Bush prefers bombs to banter. In order to conduct diplomatic talks, you have to have some command of language.
Personal relationships were also on Mr. Bush’s mind as he arrived here in Jerusalem, just days after the May 10 wedding of his daughter, Jenna. His Israeli hosts were well aware of the nuptials; many greeted the president with the traditional Jewish offer of congratulations, “Mazel tov,” which means, “Good luck.”

But Mr. Bush had clearly not brushed up on his Hebrew. Before he left the White House, two Israeli journalists opened an interview by congratulating him — in English.

“Thank you,” Mr. Bush said. “It was — as my Jewish friends tell me, there was mazel tov.”
This is the man that claims he going to broker a peace agreement before he leaves office? One might think with those lofty goals he would have bothered to learn the meaning of the most common Hebrew phrase on the planet.

How many days is it again? My backwards Bush clock stopped working at 666. [via]

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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We can't wait

By Libby

Fat lot of good this will do after they bomb Iran. Impeach first, ask questions later. These cretins don't think like normal people. Hell, they don't even think like humans.

And speaking of sub-humans, Rush Limbaugh is still an asshole. But you knew that already. [mainly via]

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Media Bytes - So Bright Edition

By Libby

Song in my head. I wish they had some of Topley's older stuff on the YouTube but this is one is nice even though the video is a little hokey. Today's edition is dedicated to my dear friend Jamie, who introduced me to Topley's work and is going through some serious medical stuff.

Today's heavy reading are a couple of longish posts but worth the time. Larisa documents the Bush family's Nazi connections and this one is aging but timeless, Eric Martin on last week's assault in Sadr City. Read it all but here's the money graf.
So let's recap the scene: the US military and its Iraqi "allies" are laying siege to a sprawling neighborhood in Baghdad housing roughly 2.5 million Iraqis, launching air strikes, artillery attacks, tank shells and other assorted ordnance, shutting down hospitals and bombing others, cutting off the supply of food and walling off entire sectors of the embattled region, causing a refugee crisis by their actions - and now actually pursuing a policy with the intent of creating a larger refugee crisis!
Speaking of Iraq and irresponsible, in case you somehow missed these links, Jon Stewart's interview with Doug Feith is a keeper. Part One and Part Two of the uncut version.

This is also a little old but in case you missed it, The presidency of Al Gore 2001-2009. It's always the what could have been that make you a little sad.

This was a sad admission too but Tweety has somewhat redeemed himself since then with his recent interest in calling out the wingnuts. And maybe whatever bit him is contagious because MSNBC's Teflon John was pretty damn good.

This is a fresher link and the best take I've seen so far on things that are younger than McCain.

Moving on to the more amusing items, I'm clearing out old links but maybe you missed the GOP's convention logo. Too funny. And I loved this bumper sticker.

I love animations too. This one I thought was a little creepy but mesmerizing.

This one is hot off the Memeo. Jim Henley finds the best post title ever but James wonders if there aren't better ones. He's running a contest.

Talking cards. What will they think of next? Maybe a better peanut butter jar. Doubt if he'll sell it to the corporatocracy though. I always thought they made jars impossible to empty for the simple reason that people would have to buy the product that much sooner

In America you can sell anything with sex. In Brazil, not so much even if you use soft porn.

And for today's eye candy, I've been thinking about gargoyles. I climbed all 383 steps at Notre Dame so I could get up close to this guy and this one and this one and him too. It was worth the climb. But I've never been to Valencia. I bet that one is impressive in person.

Remembering that trip, that I dubbed the Virgin Mary tour, one of the single most impressive buildings I've ever been in was the Mezquita in Cordoba. It's hard to convey how vast it is from the inside. It covers an entire city block.

I really liked Cordoba. The Alcazar's garden was one of the nicer ones I saw and it was the first time I saw a live stork. It was living in a chimney, just like in the fairy tales. And the little neighborhoods were just charming.

Finally, I ran across this short vid of the movie house where I spent many a Saturday afternoon watching continous showings of the same film. You could get in the door for 35 cents and they never kicked you out.

[unattributed links mainly from Avedon and Radley.]

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