Friday, September 29, 2006

The Angels Are Weeping...

i walked thru hell and burned my soul.
ashes falling from my hands.
part of me lost forever.
i found the others,
burnt and charred like me.
holding on to each other,
i knew -
even hell had a silver lining.

Terri St. Cloud
I can't speak, I mourn so for our country, which has been sold down the river by corrupt individuals who value power over principle and money over self-respect.

The only thing that comforts me is that they will have to face the ultimate reckoning before He who is immune to spin. His rulebook is simple: love one another. You do not torture the ones you love.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Slavery and Gitmo

I believe that it is well-established by now that most of the detainees in Gitmo were actually rounded up from rival tribes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., for a cash bounty from the United States.

Detainee--such a nice euphemism. In the 18th and 19th centuries, men and women were rounded up from rival tribes for a bounty, which started out as trinkets such as beads and ended up as guns and gold. Those men and women weren't called "detainees", they were called "slaves".

"Slaves" were kept in chains unless they were in places where they could be monitored well enough that it was a fairly safe bet that they would not be able to run. A fenced-off and heavily guarded set of buildings worked quite well.

They were subjected to beatings and rape and murder by their captors, for any "reasonable" offense, such as "fomenting rebellion". There was no recourse in court for these people, since they did not count as a full "person", they were only worth 3/5ths of a person, and as that only in the case of ascertaining how many Representatives to the United States House of Representatives the state in which they were enslaved would receive.

The only way out for these "slaves" was through death, which only solidified their Christian faith that was forced upon them by their captors, as a way of decreasing the risk of running by reinforcing the concept that they would reap great rewards in the afterlife as a reward for their miserable existence on this earth. This is one of the reasons that Evangelical Christianity remains a very strong aspect of minority culture in this country. The hope that there has to be something better than this helps one endure this life with dignity and strength.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in this country. "Detainees" who will never be brought to trial because of lack of evidence are, by definition, people who were sold to bounty hunters for cold, hard cash.

Where I come from, that is the very definition of slavery.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Nuclear Winter in Iran?

Matt Yglesias is scaring the living shit out of me:
At this point, I think I need to bring up what one might call the Craziest Goddamn Thing I've Heard In a Long Time. This story came to me last week from an anonymous individual who I would say is in a position to know about such things. According to this person, the DOD has (naturally) been doing some analysis on airstrikes against Iran. The upshot of the analysis was that conventional bombardment would degrade the Iranian nuclear program by about 50 percent. By contrast, if the arsenal included small nuclear weapons, we could get up to about 80 percent destroying. In response to this, persons inside the Office of the Vice President took the view that we could use the nukes -- in other words, launch an unprovoked nuclear first strike against Iran -- and then simply deny that we'd done so. Detectable radiation in the area of the bombed sites would be attributed to the fact that they were, after all, nuclear facilities we'd just hit.
This is a bad idea on so many fronts that it is difficult to imagine any administration that would even be thinking this, let alone considering seriously--except for this one.

Suicidal ideation is considered a plus for this crew. WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!?!?!?!?!?!? Sorry about the shouting, but our government is on the brink of throwing the third nuclear attack the world has ever seen--the first two one were enough for sane people to understand that there should never be another one. Ever.


Torture and Global Warming

In all the discussions about torture and when (if at all) it is acceptable to renege on our commitments we made when we signed the Geneva Conventions, it is the fact that there is any discussion at all on this topic that is the most frightening thing of all.

Specter's collapse (like clockwork) on the torture issue was so expected that it was rather anticlimactic in the end. What will it take to wake the right up to the danger? I don't know.

Commenter Lee on Balloon Juice had an idea:
Put it in these terms and it MIGHT scare the Party of Torture (it is a very catchy phrase).

A Democrat is elected President (Gore, Hillary, whoever is scarier to them).

They decide that global warming is the biggest threat to our national security.

With this bill anyone driving a gas guzzler would then be “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States”.

Matter of fact you could press the agrument with driving a gas guzzler and international terrorism.
I rather like the idea, but in reality, this sort of threat to the American Way of LifeTM will bring out the knuckle-draggers who feel the need to drive these monstrous vehicles when they really only need a Toyota Corolla (but that isn't butch enough).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ethics and Politics in the Mass Media Age

Jeff Greenfield starts this wonderful series of lectures from the CAPS Center for Ethics. It is very interesting stuff.

Global Politics In 30 Seconds

Funnier that heck!

Help America Vote--Honestly

This is critical in any representative form of government-that the citizens of the country can each have a voice in the election of their representatives. This is in grave danger now due to pressures upon election boards to switch to electronic voting methods, all of which are currently very dangerously prone to being hacked.

It only takes less than 2 minutes to hack into a Diebold machine and change the votes from one candidate to another without leaving a trace.

This has been demonstrated by Princeton University professor Ed Felton and two students (who look like they are about 14 years old!).


Monday, September 25, 2006

Where Are The Grownups?

Why can't we have a few more men like Richard E. Clarke and Bill Clinton? They both said, "I tried but I failed."

Richard Clarke was even more the grownup when he looked into the eyes of 9/11 victims' loved ones and said, "I failed you." It was very powerful.

Bubba was just as powerful, forceful and articulate in the face of a cowardly Faux News talking head's attempt to blindside him.

It was so nice nice to have a president who could string together multiple articulate, coherent sentences off the cuff.

848 days and counting....

Too Disgusting For Words

Disgraced (now that's an understatement) former lobbyist for the sex-and-gambling industry, Jack Abramoff, is helping to pull down yet another lawmaker. TPM Muckraker:
In November of 1997, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) publicly questioned the credibility of a teenage girl's claims that she'd been the victim of the sex trade in the Northern Mariana Islands. The statement, which Rep. Hall entered into the Congressional Record, was prepared by Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist for the islands.

"[S]he wanted to do nude dancing," Hall's statement said of the fifteen-year-old girl. She had earlier told federal investigators that she'd been forced to work for a local nightclub in a nightly live sex show. You can read the entirety of Hall's statement here.

Press accounts at the time detailed how the girl had been taken from her parents in the Phillippines, and forced to perform sex acts on stage and before video cameras at a Northern Marianas sex club. A 1998 Department of Labor report confirmed those reports.

Hall's challenger in Texas' 4th District, history professor Glenn Melancon, has made the episode a campaign issue. "When investigators discovered child prostitution and forced abortions on the Mariana Islands, Congressman Ralph Hall was paid for covering it up and publicly attacking one of the raped children," read postcards his campaign distributed to voters.

Hall has called the charge an "outright lie." His office did not respond to our request for comment on this story. But records show that Abramoff's staff contacted Hall's office fifteen times in the two months leading up to his statement in the Congressional Record.

Your buddy Jacko wants you to slander a teenager who was kidnapped from her family in the Phillipines, taken to the Marianas Islands and forced to strip and perform sex acts on a stage and on videotape until she manages to escape and contact the Phillipino Consulate, and you happily comply.

She has been given asylum in Hawaii, where I hope and pray she will find peace and happiness.

Where's The Little Girls When You Need Them?

When I was a little girl, my mother drove me nuts, trying to teach me to keep my voice low. As you can imagine, I drove her nuts with my shrill, little girl voice. Well, I may be all grown up now, but I still remember how to be shrill, and I don't need any practice at it. I can pick it up on a moment's notice.

The Poor Man has it right:
These folks are very, very bad people, and they are, in the deepest sense, unAmerican. Halfway between them and what sane people recognize as “common decency” is a very, very long way away from decent. They have deceived a great many Americans over the years, and so, by gaining control of the machinery of the State, made every one of us complicit in this evil, unAmerican bullshit. We pay for the torture, we pay for the pointless, unwinnable wars (although we don’t pay for the body armor - can’t make an omlette without breaking some eggs!), we pay to lose the rights generations of our ancestors (either actual or spiritual - there’s no difference) fought and died to enshrine and preserve - and we even pay them a fine little salary for the priviledge. What they have done cannot easily be undone, and they will never, ever get more than a tiny fraction of justice for it. Fuck them. Fuck them whether they are Democrats or Republicans, and fuck the liars and sycophants and cowardly pussies who insulate them from getting even a tiny taste of their just deserts. It’s awful, it’s unspeakably awful, and, actively or passively, we all participate.

Only shrillness can save America now.
I'm ready for it. Anyone else?

This Man Is A Genius!

Even the rednecks (self-titled) get it...

This should be on everyone's lips...if Bill Clinton had such a loving following in the press as Bush has, what a wonderful country this would be.

We certainly would not have gone to war against a nation that did not attack us or our allies first. We would have applied sanctions, which worked. Sanctions worked. They worked.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Are We Safer?

The NY Times quotes a National Intellegence Estimate report that says, rather than decrease terrorism, the war in Iraq has actually increased terror threats against the United States.
The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
Number of American deaths in Iraq alone since this report was made in April? 374.

In Iraq.


Do you feel safer?

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Such an ordinary-looking number.

One larger than the total number of victims of 9/11.

This is the number of American who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, September 22, 2006

On Voting Irregularities...

2004 was a very distressing year for me. We had to sell our "dream house" that we built from our own plan. Selling a house is never easy, having to be ready to let perfect strangers come into your home and look in all the nooks and crannies is very upsetting to me, especially as I am not the world's best housekeeper and my menfolk are extremely reluctant to make a housekeeper's life easy.

What does this have to do with voting? (I hear you cry!) We closed the day after the Presidential Election in November. I knew that there was going to be a problem when I arrived at the polls and the lines were very long (usually there are only a few people waiting to sign the books). There also seemed to be a lot of extra people milling around, carrying clipboards and clutching cell phones.

When it was my turn to sign the books, much to my surprise, my name was marked through with the words "not able to vote" hand written in red ink. I asked why this was, and (after a conference with some of the clipboard-clutchers) was told that I didn't live in that district anymore, so I could not vote there.

Well, I am no shrinking violet, so I created a bit of a scene. I believe that I used the specific term "disenfranchised". It seems that some of the clipboard-clutchers had been busy trolling the neighborhoods and looking for "Sold" signs on houses, then looking up the owners on the county tax rolls.

It just seemed very fishy that I would be denied the right to vote just because of a real estate sign, but my DH (a registered Republican) did not have a mark through his name.

Well, in order to vote, I had to go downtown, change my address and registry to the new Board of Elections and vote absentee. I could not vote on any of the local matters, just Federal and State.

Fast forward to January... I get a call from the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. What did they want from me? They wanted to know why I had voted twice. WHAT??? They told me I voted both places. I was glad I embarrassed myself while making such a scene at the first polling place, since my presence and the activities while I was there were, shall we say, very memorable. I even had names of clipboard-clutchers to give the investigator.

He seemed satisfied.

Fast forward to May... I get a call from my local police department. Now what?!?!? You guessed it..."why did you vote twice?" Aarrgh! I went through the whole scenario, gave the same names I gave to the FBI guy, blah, blah, blah... I asked the police officer if he had a lot of this to deal with, and he said, "Yeah, I guess a lot of people voted for Kerry." I couldn't help but blurt out, "How do you know who these people voted for?" He got quiet after that.

I'm glad I don't have so much as an outstanding parking ticket, or this would be a true nightmare, instead of a massive nuisance and a chilling hint into how other voters were being intimidated. If I weren't so bleepin' stubborn, I would have given up. How many people did give up, I wonder...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Moral Bankruptcy

I thought that the me-me-me, go-go '80's would represent the low point in our cultural morality. The selfish consumption of the time, which was in itself a reaction to "protest overload" left over from the 1970's, was a mere blip on the graph of amoral behavior.

We have now pegged the machine. I cannot believe that we are living in a country that was founded in a massive protest against immoral government, whose very defining document proscribes torture, imprisionment without a chance to see the evidence against the imprisioned, etc.

The reason given, "Everything changed after 9/11." Well, it did, indeed. Our Founding Fathers, those who pushed the frontiers of this country to the Pacific Ocean, all faced daily risk of terrorists (Redcoats, Native American warriors, other settlers, brigands, etc.). They did not forsake the Constitution or say that everything changed after "_" (fill in the blank). They had just as much (or more) reason than we did after 9/11.

There is NO excuse for us to even hint that we will retroactively absolve criminals who broke the War Crimes Act. War Criminals WILL be brought to justice. Please make it be Americans who bring our own leaders to the Hague, not others.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can You Say, "Cognitive Dissonance?"

This goes beyond satire.

Michelle "Kill All Brown Skinned People (Except Me, Of Course! I'm Not Really Brown!)" Malkin has gotten her knickers in a knot over three man who were convicted of masterminding the deaths of 200 Muslims in interfaith clashes in 2000.

The reason she so graciosly seeks to protect mass-murdering terrorists from their death sentences? They attend Mass! They are Catholic, and as such, they are part of "The Good GuysTM".

The reason these terrorists should be freed, not executed for their heinous acts? There were doubts about the fairness of their trial! (Gasp!) Do you mean that they were imprisioned without the right of habeus corpus, not allowed to see the evidence against them and denied the right to confront their accusers? Perish the thought!

This is something that would cause a normal person's head to explode, but not Malkin's. She has insurance against that particular catastrophe.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Keith Olbermann, En Fuego!

Crooks and Liars has the video of KO's scathing commentary. It has the passion and the righteous anger of a glove slapped on the face of the Bush Administration. Rough transcript as follows:
Finally tonight, a Special Comment about the Rose Garden news conference last Friday.

The President of the United States owes this country an apology. It will not be offered, of course. He does not realize its necessity.

There are now none around him who would tell him - or could. The last of them, it appears, was the very man whose letter provoked the President into the conduct, for which the apology is essential. An apology is this President’s only hope of regaining the slightest measure of confidence, of what has been, for nearly two years, a clear majority of his people.

Not "confidence" in his policies nor in his designs nor even in something as narrowly focused as which vision of torture shall prevail — his, or that of the man who has sent him into apoplexy, Colin Powell. In a larger sense, the President needs to regain our confidence, that he has some basic understanding of what this country represents — of what it must maintain if we are to defeat not only terrorists, but if we are also to defeat what is ever more increasingly apparent, as an attempt to re-define the way we live here, and what we mean, when we say the word "freedom."

Because it is evident now that, if not its architect, this President intends to be the contractor, for this narrowing of the definition of freedom. The President revealed this last Friday, as he fairly spat through his teeth, words of unrestrained fury…

…directed at the man who was once the very symbol of his administration, who was once an ambassador from this administration to its critics, as he had once been an ambassador from the military to its critics. The former Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, had written, simply and candidly and without anger, that "the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."

This President’s response included not merely what is apparently the Presidential equivalent of threatening to hold one’s breath, but — within — it contained one particularly chilling phrase. Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. If a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state feels this way, don’t you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you’re following a flawed strategy? BUSH: If there’s any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it’s flawed logic. It’s just — I simply can’t accept that. It’s unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.

Of course** it’s acceptable to think that there’s "any kind of comparison." And in this particular debate, it is not only acceptable, it is obviously necessary. Some will think that our actions at Abu Ghraib, or in Guantanamo, or in secret prisons in Eastern Europe, are all too comparable to the actions of the extremists. Some will think that there is no similarity, or, if there is one, it is to the slightest and most unavoidable of degrees.

What all of us will agree on, is that we have the right — we have the duty — to think about the comparison. And, most importantly, that the other guy, whose opinion about this we cannot fathom, has exactly the same right as we do: to think — and say — what his mind and his heart and his conscience tell him, is right.

All of us agree about that.

Except, it seems, this President.

With increasing rage, he and his administration have begun to tell us, we are not permitted to disagree with them, that we cannot be right. That Colin Powell cannot be right.And then there was that one, most awful phrase.

In four simple words last Friday, the President brought into sharp focus what has been only vaguely clear these past five-and-a-half years - the way the terrain at night is perceptible only during an angry flash of lightning, and then, a second later, all again is dark.

"It’s unacceptable to think…" he said. It is never unacceptable… to think.

And when a President says thinking is unacceptable, even on one topic, even in the heat of the moment, even in the turning of a phrase extracted from its context… he takes us toward a new and fearful path — one heretofore the realm of science fiction authors and apocalyptic visionaries.

That flash of lightning freezes at the distant horizon, and we can just make out a world in which authority can actually suggest it has become unacceptable to think. hus the lightning flash reveals not merely a President we have already seen, the one who believes he has a monopoly on current truth.

It now shows us a President who has decided that of all our commanders-in-chief, ever… he, alone, has had the knowledge necessary to alter and re-shape our inalienable rights. This is a frightening, and a dangerous, delusion, Mr. President.

If Mr. Powell’s letter - cautionary, concerned, predominantly supportive — can induce from you such wrath and such intolerance — what would you say were this statement to be shouted to you by a reporter, or written to you by a colleague?

"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government…"

Those incendiary thoughts came, of course, from a prior holder of your job, Mr. Bush. They were the words of Thomas Jefferson.

He put them in the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Bush, what would you say to something that annti-thetical to the status quo just now? Would you call it "unacceptable" for Jefferson to think such things, or to write them?

Between your confidence in your infallibility, sir, and your demonizing of dissent, and now these rages better suited to a thwarted three-year old, you have left the unnerving sense of a White House coming unglued - a chilling suspicion that perhaps we have not seen the peak of the anger; that we can no longer forecast what next will be said to, or about, anyone… who disagrees.

Or what will next be done to them. On this newscast last Friday night, Constitiutional law Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, suggested that at some point in the near future…some of the "detainees" transferred from secret CIA cells to Guantanamo, will finally get to tell the Red Cross that they have indeed been tortured.

Thus the debate over the Geneva Conventions, might not be about further interrogations of detainees, but about those already conducted, and the possible liability of the administration, for them. That, certainly, could explain Mr. Bush’s fury.

That, at this point, is speculative. But at least it provides an alternative possibility as to why the President’s words were at such variance from the entire history of this country. For, there needs to be some other explanation, Mr. Bush, than that you truly believe we should live in a United States of America in which a thought is unacceptable.

There needs to be a delegation of responsible leaders — Republicans or otherwise — who can sit you down as Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott once sat Richard Nixon down - and explain the **reality** of the situation you have created.

There needs to be… an apology from the President of the United States.

And more than one.

But, Mr. Bush, the others — for warnings unheeded five years ago, for war unjustified four years ago, for battle unprepared three years ago — they are not weighted with the urgency and necessity of this one. We must know that, to you…thought with which you disagree — and even voice with which you disagree - and even action with which you disagree — are still sacrosanct to you.

The philosopher Voltaire once insisted to another author, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." Since the nation’s birth, Mr. Bush, we have misquoted and even embellished that statement, but we have served ourselves well, by subscribing to its essence.

Oddly, there are other words of Voltaire’s that are more pertinent still, just now. "Think for yourselves," he wrote, "and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too." Apologize, sir, for even hinting at an America where a few have that privilege to think — and the rest of us get yelled at by the President.

Anything else, Mr. Bush, is truly… unacceptable.
Anything else is truly unacceptable, but we must learn to live with the unacceptable because swine will rival the Blue Angels in their aerial acrobatics before any of us will get an apology from the Sociopath-in-Chief.

Monday, September 18, 2006

They've Already Won

We need Denzel Washington to step in and stop Torture Boy Abu G, John Yoo, et al, before they can entrench their horrors into law.

We need him now.

"Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport"

Ron Donald was spot-on when he said this. Sometimes it needs a kickoff to get things really moving.

Daily Kos' Markos Molitsas made a good point when he said, "If preaching to the choir is a bad thing, why do you even have churches?" The choir members interact with others in their communities, and that is where the message spreads.

To use a religious metaphor, being a Catholic does not just entail the attendance at Mass--you must live your faith. You have to walk the walk.

I am not afraid to live my politics. My faith and my politics inform my actions and spreads my beliefs out into the universe. What the universe does with them is not in my power, but I like to think that my little acts, done with great love (as the Blessed Mother Teresa taught) have echos, ripples that amplify and reach far beyond my little circle of influence.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Educational TV?

The events of the last two weeks regarding the influence of television brings up some very pertinent questions.

What next? Jihad for Dummies? IRA training in throwing bombs?

It seems like it is only a matter of time before we are training the next generation of terrorists right on broadcast television. These will be another generation of home-grown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh. They are the ones we should really fear, because they will give no warning and will be able to work among us without raising alarms.

The best way to fight this kind of war is to return to our ideals. We need to stop stomping on every other country in the world, economically and socially. Helping other countries will only strengthen ours, but we must ensure that we don't act like 21st Century Robber Barons.

We've spent the last century pulling ourselves out of the morass left by the Carnegie's, Vanderbilt's, etc. Let's not let my son's generation bear the full brunt of the poor decisions by our leaders today.

I know I sound like my grandmother, who always told me I watched too much television, but there is a visceral power to the medium that requires the responsible use of that power. The networks have the right to show whatever programming they wish, within the laws of decency that are on the books, but with rights come responsibilities.

This is the time that we all start to act like grownups. We need to clean house this November, soak the Capitol in bleach until the stench of corruption is gone and start over.

Borat and "The Path to 9/11"

You can't make this shit up:
US President George Bush is to host White House talks on British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

Cohen, 35, creator of Ali G, has infuriated the Kazakhstan government with his portrayal of Borat, a bumbling Kazakh TV presenter.

And now a movie of Borat's adventures in the US has caused a diplomatic incident.

The opening scene, which shows Borat lustily kissing his sister goodbye and setting off for America in a car pulled by a horse, had audiences in stitches when it was first shown last week.

But the film, which has just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, has prompted a swift reaction from the Kazakhstan government, which is launching a PR blitz in the States.

Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev is to fly to the US to meet President Bush in the coming weeks and on the agenda will be his country's image.

President Nazarbayev has confirmed his government will buy "educational" TV spots and print advertisements about the "real Kazakhstan" in a bid to save the country's reputation before the film is released in the US in November.

Yeah, that'll work.

Just ask ABC and Scholastic Books about "educational" TV.

Even Fox News Is Getting It...

Two Princeton students (who each look about 14 years old), and a Princeton professor show how quickly and easily a Diebold machine can be hacked, leaving no trail.

Even Fox News had these men on and they hacked the vote in less than 4 minutes.

I think Fox is sensing a shift in the political winds, one that will absoulutely cry foul if there is a significant difference between exit polls and tallied votes. Historically, exit polls are fairly accurate harbingers of voting trends.

This has changed in the Diebold, E,S&S era. Exit polls reflect precinct returns until, at the last minute, in the Republican candidate's home district, there will be a sudden surge of support--enough to win the election for the R candidate.

This has happened time and again. There were -25,000,000 votes cast for Kerry in one district in Ohio in the 2004 election. There are not even 25 million citizens in that part of Ohio, let alone negative 25 million.

How Kerry let this pass, I will never understand. Ohio would have given him the Presidency. What would this country be like if Torture Boy GWClusterfuck and his campadres (since he likes to pretend he's a good ole Texas cowboy) had been sent to that great brush-clearin' place in Hell. Otherwise known as East Texas.

(Apologies to the worthy denizens of East Texas--you probably don't want them either.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

I Am Not Afraid

Since when in this country have we let the opinions of others inform us as to how we should live our lives and govern ourselves?

Since when have we kowtowed to fringe elements in foreign lands?

Since when have we cowered in fear of boogymen and things that go bump in the night?

Since when have we abrogated our responsibility to show the rest of the world the shining lights that are the ideals upon which this country was founded?

Since when have we entered into a preemptive war, one not waged to protect ourselves or our allies, one that our allies have not requested our help to wage and win?

Since when have we lost the moral obligations to those who stand on the wall, protecting us from enemies that threaten to change our way of life, our rights, our liberties, our method of governance?

Since when have we waged a war that we are unwilling to send our sons and daughters, all of them, rich and poor and in the middle?

Since when have we abrogated our responsibility to care of service men and women's families while they are deployed, when they return injured, both physically and mentally.

Since when have we not taken care of the bereaved families of service men and women, allowing them to sink into poverty?

Since when have we allowed whole cities, whole communities, whole swaths of our own country to be destroyed and left to rot, even a year later?

I will not allow our country to sink into a sniveling, cowering shadow of what we once were.

I will not allow the stupid, cowardly acts of a few, pusillanimous individuals to inform me as to how I should live.

I will not allow my son to grow up, learning that it is OK to lie, to be influenced by liars, to become so inured to lies that he is convinced that it is morally acceptable to lie in order to show his actions in a favorable light.

I will not allow whole swaths of my own country to rot and to enrich corrupt companies who profit obscenely, paid astronomical amounts of my money to do work that they never perform.

Channelling Dylan Thomas, "I will NOT go quietly into the night, I will rage rage against the dying of the light!"

We were once a shining light, a magnet for those who would risk everything, who wanted to live free or die.

Our shine has tarnished, like silver that has not been cared for, polished regularly, used lovingly and frequently.

Our form of government requires our citizens to care for it, as one cares for silver. Every one of us has the responsibility to use it, love it, polish it, remove the tarnish of corruption and self-interest. We have the chance to do this in November.

It will take a lot of work to remove this taint, this boil on the ass of the body politic. It takes a lot of unpleasant tasks, ones that get one's hands dirty and requires hard work when the corrosion is extreme, but it is always worth it in the end.

I am not afraid to get my hands dirty.

I am not afraid.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This is Our Constitution, Damnit!

Peterr on Firedoglake:

For those who are joining al-Scooter and that “dialing digit” let me repost a couple of thoughts (slightly amended) from the other day.

Dems need to plainly tell the truth about what we believe:

We believe that the Geneva Convention works.
We do not believe in torture.

We believe in accountability and the rule of law.
We do not believe in secret prisons or warrantless wiretaps, outside the scrutiny of the courts.

We believe that our morality is not dependent upon the morality of others.
We do not believe in giving up our moral stature in times of war.

We believe that no one is above the law - not the president, not the CIA, not the Justice Department, not the Congress, not the courts, not corporations, not unions, not lobbyists.
We believe that no one is beneath the law - not the poor, not the non-English speakers, not the immigrant (legal or not), not the ill, not the outcasts of our society.

We believe that the military and the officers of the intelligence communuity are safer with the Geneva Conventions in place.
We do not believe in cutting and running from the protections of Geneva.

Most of all, we believe in three branches of government that hold each other accountable as they do the people’s business.
We do not believe in King George. Not in 1776, and not in 2006.

This needs to be published in every forum, read aloud at every newscast, recited every morning in school.

Amen, I say. Amen.

“History is made by those who show up.” - Benjamin Disraeli.

This is a devastating ad.

If George(Macaca)Allen is in trouble about this, you know that Joe Lieberman has to be worried--for good reason.

Lieberman has only shown up for 31 out of 61 votes for Iraq alone. His fellow Senator Russ Feingold, on the other hand, has a 99.975% lifetime record. That is a man who shows up for the job his constituents hired him to do.

Think about this...

This is what Iraq has done to his constituents. Don't you think that their employee (Lieberman) should show up for his job, one that has life-and-death consequences for them?

He should be ashamed to show his face. His campaign gives the following excuse:
[W]hen asked why Lieberman missed these votes, Lieberman’s campaign responded saying Senate votes on Iraq do not matter. His spokeswoman claimed such votes are just “typical party-line procedural votes.”
Yes, we know what party line you follow, Joe. The Not-Democrat Party.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ravel and Mahler plotting world domination while basking in the sunshine.

(Just act naturally, they'll never know our plan until it is too late...)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Lows in Right-Wing Advertisements

Reader pmooney in TPMCafe (TPMCafeRight-Wing Ad: "Your Life Depends" On Vote): "I think the democrats should run an add showing Pearl Harbor footage and the date 'December 7th, 1941.' Then another image showing VE and VJ celebrations and the tag 'what you get 5 years later, when democrats control the government.' The next image would be 9/11 and 'September 11th, 2001' followed by the exact same images in the republican commercial with the header '5 years later, when republicans control the government.' Then perhaps some Katrina images with the caption 'and that's not all.'"

I think this is a brilliant strategy for the November elections. What has "fear, fear, fear" gotten us? A war that should never have been fought, American influence around the world at an all-time low (even in the pre-Revolutionary War days), an entire region of the United States of America living in the ruins of a catastrophic set of storms one year ago and so on and so on...

This has been playing here in Missouri, where there is a hotly contested Senate race between incumbent Senator Jim Talent(R) and Claire McCaskill(D). I don't know how much play this is getting because I don't watch a lot of local television (thank God for satellites!), but it's only message seems to be, "vote Republican or terrorists will swarm all over the country, killing everyone they see."

Jim Talent has an enormous war chest to fund his own ads to supplement the Progress for America's (a 527 group) ad above. In his own ad, he is trying to give the impression of an everyday Joe taking a quick break from shuffling through reams of papers to spout a laundry list of vague descriptions of what he has done for Missouri.

He has to be vague; for example, he says that he has helped to find alternative energy--but his alternative is to give Big OilTM huge tax breaks and funding to drill for oil in the ANWR, not to develop renewable and environmentally responsible fuel sources.

That's the way it always goes with politicians--you always have to read the fine print.

Bravo, Keith Olberman, Bravo!

Standing ovation

Would that there be more television as riveting as this and the Twilight Zone every day from now until November 7...

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Thank You to Our British Friends

This has always moved me beyond words--this simple but achingly beautiful gesture of goodwill in the one moment when we were all Americans.

Thank you...

Lux Æterna Luceat Eis, Requiem

5 years ago this morning, I was working the Medicare section of Carondelet Manor extended care facility. There were three men making a big mess, painting the hallways while I was trying to do my own work. The atmosphere was one of controlled pandemonium, with the confused residents wandering off at times and the other residents off doing interesting activities that made me have to look everywhere for them in order to give medications or do treatments.

All that changed at 7:46 AM CDT, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I heard the news on one of the radios the painters were listening to as they did their work. We were all stunned into absolute immobility, then the real pandemonium ensued. Those who did know what was going on were remembering how they felt when they heard about Pearl Harbor, and those who did not know what was going on thought it was Pearl Harbor.

The difficulties got worse by the minute. United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:02 AM CDT. There was now no question that we were under attack. The painters found two more radios and tuned all three on different stations, and tuned every TV on different stations so there was a cacophony of news that was so overwhelmingly emotional that it was difficult to breathe, let alone work and comfort and calm 45 residents.

I spent that whole day trying to calm myself and work out how I was going to talk to my son, who was 8 years old at the time, about what had happened. This was not easy, especially when those incredibly insensitive jerks insisted on surrounding us all with sound and visuals of the explosions and the collapsing towers, even when they knew that it was being patently harmful to the residents for whom they supposedly worked.

By the time American Airlines Flight 77 supposedly crashed into the Pentagon (there is some strong evidence that whatever hit the Pentagon did not have wings, since there is actual video from a gate camera of the event, not to mention the fact that there is no damage on the building beyond the cylindrical wound in the exterior) at 8:37 CDT, there were so many agitated residents that I had to turn off the TV's and radios to try and get people under control. Of course, the idiot men had to keep turning them on again, since they didn't have to deal with the aftermath. It was unbearable.

I was saddened but proud of the people on United Airlines Flight 93 when they wrested control of the plane away from the hijackers and crashed it into the ground in Pennsylvania. They sparked the beginning of the wave of righteous anger that fueled the American experience, and, unfortunately, ultimately skewed us away from the truth and toward the liars who were masterful manipulators of this raw emotion.

It is time for We the People to wrestle the hijacked Ship of State and return it to the course we should be flying. It is up to us now.

Let's Roll

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Who Knew?

This just in:

U.S. officials, seeking a way to measure the results of a program aimed at decreasing violence in Baghdad, aren't counting scores of dead killed in car bombings and mortar attacks as victims of the country's sectarian violence.
In a distinction previously undisclosed, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said Friday that the United States is including in its tabulations of sectarian violence only deaths of individuals killed in drive-by shootings or by torture and execution.

That has allowed U.S. officials to boast that the number of deaths from sectarian violence in Baghdad declined by more than 52 percent in August over July.
But it eliminates from tabulation huge numbers of people whose deaths are certainly part of the ongoing conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Not included, for example, are scores of people who died in a highly coordinated bombing that leveled an entire apartment building in eastern Baghdad, a stronghold of rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

So bombs are not used in sectarian violence, but torture is? That must mean that Americans are perpetrators of sectarian violence all over Eastern Europe and in Gitmo.

The torturous definitions of very simple words such as "torture" and "violence" defy anything Big Dog did when he tried to parse the meaning of "is". We are parodying ourselves, and it will not get any better for years.

Even if Democrats win both houses of Congress this November, we have a long hard slog ahead of us as a country, trying to mend the damage this amoral cabal has done to this country. Funny thing, morals. Those who have them do not have to spend any time trying to get others to believe they do, because they define every aspect of a person's behavior. We live our morals, or we don't have them.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's Official...

The Earth has shaken, paradigms have shifted, dark matter is now visible, and I agree with something Chris Wallace has said (Fox & Friends, 9/8/2006).

When you put somebody on the screen and say that's Madeleine Albright and she said this in a specific conversation and she never did say it, I think it's slanderous, I think it's defamatory and I think that ABC and Disney should be held to account.


I mean, wow.

ABC Craptacular Debacle


David Cunningham, the young director, is the son of a famous leader of a controversial evangelical youth ministry called Youth With A Mission. It has been heavily criticized over the years for its authoritarian teachings and cultlike attributes. Cunningham's alma mater is the YWAM "college" called the University of Nations, which teaches filmmaking as a way to spread the gospel. Some members of the group even worked on the film.

Cunningham has worked with other members of the religious right in Hollywood with the intention of spreading the word. His previous film, received ecstatically in the Christian right community, was called "To End All Wars"* produced by Jack Hafer, a fellow religious rightist. Cunningham was chosen as one of the 30 emerging voices who are the "future of the American church" by Charisma Magazine. He's quoted saying:

“My life's mission is to challenge and shape culture through film.”

This is even worse than I thought. We have a religious nutcase (and I mean that in a loving, Christian way) deflecting blame from G. W. Bush (why, he already has his halo! or is that a helo?) onto that miserable sinner Clenis. I'm not saying that Clinton did not have some share in the blame, but I will say that it is only a small share, if any.

Clinton handed Bush a full dossier on bin Laden, where he was, what he had been doing, the work of a special task force--one that Bush promptly disbanded once he took the oath of office. Clinton should not have worried about the perceptions of the incoming Republicans, but how was he to know that there weren't going to be any grownups in the White House?

Looking back on the last 6 1/2 years, I can't help but wish that Clinton was still the President.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Some Interesting Figures

I thought these were very telling:

  • Money spent investigating the Valerie Plame Wilson outing: $100,000
  • Money spent investigating 9/11: $600,000
  • Money spent investigating President Clinton: $40,000,000
  • Money spent on the Iraq war: 310,000,000,000

Time spent contemplating wingnuttery, priceless.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

So Let Me Get This Straight...

The FBI finds a mentally unstable man with a small group of similarly-unstable men, uses an informant to enable their lunacy, and then arrests them on terrorism charges. This is the heinous plot:

The plot featured self-proclaimed militant religious leaders who referred to themselves as kings, talked of establishing their own nation inside the United States, called their headquarters an embassy and discussed plans to train their recruits to use bows and arrows. One of their quixotic notions was to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower.

Read it for yourself.

Bows and arrows, eh? Vewry Scawry. What kind of moron calls that terrorism? What kind of country is this, anymore?