Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Beast's Top 50 

I somehow managed to miss the excellent blog known as The Beast until somebody on an Atrios comment thread pointed to this post.

The 50 Most Loathesome People In America

50. Ann Coulter
Crimes: Coulter plummets down the list as she slips into irrelevance. As her columns degenerate further into absurd, incoherent attacks against her own personal paranoid fantasy of fanged, drooling, Saddam-loving liberals who hate America and childish France-bashing, we find our outrage slowly giving way to a baffled “I can’t believe I used to go out with you” feeling. Her arguments are ridiculous, her vitriol forced, her hatchet face even harder to look at. Still, she insulted a one-armed war veteran, called reports of the hundreds of tons of missing munitions in Iraq false, claimed Wesley Clark was pro-infanticide, and blamed Abu Ghraib on the presence of women in the armed forces—they’re not all like you, Ann—and on and on. It’s just not worth debunking someone who has no credibility in the first place.

Smoking Gun: Has credibility in the minds of more people than we can stomach acknowledging.

Punishment: Skull crushed with rock.
Go read. Number 3 might make you go "ouch".

NOTE: There's been some technical problems in Xanastan recently. Blogger had me down on a no-babbling-for-YOU list off and on and my email, for reasons completely unknown, will send but not receive for the last several days. Anybody been trying to get hold of me, I'm not ignoring you, I've just gone deaf. I just got about three days worth come through so things may be improving. Off to do some research on how email works with Firefox because Outlook Express is about outta here.

Hello 277-4653! 

Via Trish Wilson a practical anger management program the whole family can enjoy.

Anger Management

When you occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don't take it out on someone you know, take it out on someone you don't know.

It all started one day when I was sitting at my desk and remembered a phone call I had forgotten to make. I found the number and dialed it. A man answered, saying, "Hello." I politely said, "This is Chris. May I please speak with Robin Carter? "

Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn't believe that anyone could be so rude. I tracked down Robin's correct number and called her. I had transposed the last two digits of her phone number.

After hanging up with her, I decided to call the 'wrong' number again. When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled, "You're an asshole!" and hung up. I wrote his number down with the word 'asshole' next to it, and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I'd call him up and yell, "You're an asshole!" It
always cheered me up.

Continues... see link above. Its hilarious - at least I think so - so go read the whole thing. You don't want to miss the grand finale.


Old Movies: Only Angels Have WMDs 

When war was war and women wore flannel skirts:

Jody: Jack, oh, dahling! I understand he was hiding WMDs?
Jack: Yes, well, Jody...
Jody: Jack!, they're very dangerous!
Jack: Yes, well...
Jody: Oh, Jack...!
Jack: Feeling better now Jody?
Jody: Oh, Jack...

The End.


Corrente Poll #2 - results summary 

[QUESTION] If you could be a fly on the wall: upon which inauguration ball wall would you most like to crawl?

#1- Jenna and Barbara's Crown Royal 8-Ball = 46% - 82 votes. No surprise here. I figured this would be the big winner. I still have a hangover and can't breath through my right nostril.

#2- Fabulous AWOL "Mainstream" Media Ball = 12% - 21 votes. Not too surprised this one finished second. Highlights of the evening: White House press corp karioke with John King. Wolf and Judy's mainstream media disco dance party room. Bill O'Reilly grabbing Amy Robach by the ankles and holding her upside down and shaking her like an empty can of spray paint so he could look up her skirt and everyone else could hear that little metal ball-bearing rattle around inside her head. Strawberry daquari chug-a-lug with Tom Friedman.

#3- WMD Dodge Ball = 11% - 19 votes. I'm surprised anyone could find it. I couldn't. But thanks for looking.

#4- [The] Prosperity Thru Peonage Privatizers Ball = 9% - 16 votes. A good place to take down names. But eventually degenerated into little more than a drunken sulk, an evening of stale cigarettes, cheap shots of tequilla, and watching John Fund and Stephen Moore play video Keno. Yuck.

#5- Clownhall PowerLine PR Masquerade Bloggers Payola Ball = 8% 14 votes. Terrible food. Terrible music. No good looking women. Dorks. Like trick or treating at a Star Trek convention with Dennis Miller. Coat please.

#6- Cost Plus Jingo Bus Bombs Away Codpiece Ball = 7% - 13 votes. Great door prizes. Hi, my name is Diego Garcia, what was the address of that safe house in Kazakhstan?

#7- Tea Dance Tories Log Cabin Tiara Ball = 5% - 9 votes. A little surprised this one didn't get a bigger attendance. At least for the Margaret Thatcher drag queen look-a-like competition. Then again, watching Ken Mehlman tossing a beach ball around in a muscle shirt and a pair of sequined cutoffs was pretty disturbing. Weird lighting too. Taxi!

#8- Grand Old Pecksniff Power Ball = 2% - 3 votes. Cigars. Old smelly furniture. Two hundred year old scotch. Bob Novak. William Buckley. Five thousand dollar a night escorts... etcetera etcetera etcetera.

#9- Pirates of Penance Anchors Away Absolution Ball = 1% - 2 votes. A little surprised this event didn't draw more attention. Just for the special effects and the free hallucinegenics. Lots of action in the parking lot. I actually got layed at this one. Heh.

#10- Dotheboys Hall Rote Skolar Ball = 1% - 1 vote. One vote? Pissed off school teacher? Someone who actually read Nicholas Nickleby? Anyway... sniffing acetone off of freshly printed ditto machine handouts while sitting around on little tiny chairs lined up against the wall. ~ Topic of discussion: How to phonetically spell acetone without angering local busybody parents or annoying really annoying senior citizen groups.


Friday, January 21, 2005

Globes, Peas and Outreach 

I met a nutjob at the library this morning, ranting and raving about getting the US out of the UN. I’ve met these types before, old Birchers and suchlike. But, after I clubbed him to the ground with a copy of Das Kapital, I got to thinking. Leah has been posting on framing our values, and how we can hook it so it’s simple and straightforward, but comprehensive and based on what's worked before. The ravings of this neo-Bircher made me remember that MLK always framed the struggle for justice and freedom and an end to poverty in GLOBAL terms, not simply national ones. The IWW is a GLOBAL union. We talk about GLOBAL warming. The Bu’ushites are concerned with maintaining American dominance, spreading “freedom and democracy” at the point of a gun, and on their own terms, which are mainly to support their thirst for oil and minerals. Maybe it’s time we started speaking more globally. Tresy’s relocation to Canada, Rob’s British passport, our friend Yank in London, all make this a global frame. Maybe that’s one approach that needs more air.

I searched around for the right words, and thought of Carl Sagan, and then found that Tad Daley has some thoughts on exactly this meme in his anti-inaugural address:

The picture taken by the Voyager spacecraft from beyond Pluto shows our planet as a tiny speck, almost completely lost in the glare of the Sun. Carl Sagan wrote of this photograph: " Look at that dot. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of lived out their lives. ... Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot."

We advocate a global policy agenda that reflects the truth of Earth from space. We compare the radiant blues and greens of our fragile planet to the blackness of the cosmos, and recognize the infinite preciousness of our lonely home. We insist that the Whole Earth is perhaps something greater than the sum of its parts.

We believe that the pursuit of "vital national interests" ought to be accompanied by a calculus of transnational interests. We suspect that an expanded ethic of planetary patriotism and allegiance to humanity may be no less than the Great Story of the 21st Century.

We stand in the tradition of what the great psychologist Erik Erikson called an "all-human solidarity." We see the first glimmerings of what the great political scientist Robert C. Tucker calls an "ethic of specieshood." We are the vanguard of what Voltaire called "the party of humanity."

Whole thing at: An Alternative Inaugural Presidential Address

How can blogs help create this “all-human solidarity” on this little blue pea in space? Before Bushco makes it a smoking cinder? And you know what I heard on the radio this morning driving into town? A "newsperson" (I forget which) saying something like "Christian conservatives have issued notice today that certain cartoons contain immoral messages..." and, as I switched stations to public radio, I longed for the day I would hear an announcer say "Godless socialists issued notice today that the revolution is here..." Global problems--solved by religion? Or caused by religion? And how to make the struggle both local and global? Ugh. I'm headed for home, a bottle of stout and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

Could it be.... Satan? 

Who's to say the Norwegians aren't right?

President Bush's "Hook 'em, 'horns" salute got lost in translation in Norway, where shocked people interpreted his hand gesture during his inauguration as a salute to Satan.

That's what it means in the Nordics when you throw up the right hand with the index and pinky fingers raised, a gesture popular among heavy metal groups and their fans in the region.
(via AP)

Or found in translation, eh?

UDDATE Alert reader Iggy shares the following:

According to the Daily News, it's official sign language for "bullshit."

"Texans recognized Jenna's "Hook 'em horns" hand sign as a show of support for the University of Texas' Longhorns football team.

"But deaf people who use American Sign Language easily identified the sign for "bulls-!"

"One of the eight official signers for the inauguration - who interpreted the President's address on the West Front of the Capitol - yesterday confirmed to me the bovine expletive."

FABULOUS Rosy Scenario 

...the mainstream media bullshit riveter

Well, I was wondering how the hero worshipers and official statement readers and giddy go-getters in the radio and television "news" racket were going to kick off CAKEWALK 2 ~ THE WORLD, and now I know. Today, Jan. 20, 2005, was the inaugural pre-game bonfire and CAKEWALK-2 pep rally hootenanny. Hip hip hooray.

"Those rosy scenarios are what keep us going in this business." - Chris Mathews, Hardball; Jan. 20th 2005.

Yes, those rosy scenarios sure do make it fun to be a cable tv "news" bullshit artist and get paid a lot of money to be a cable tv "news" bullshit artist. One day Chris Mathews can tell his grandchildren that grandpa buttered his bread with rosy scenarios and bullshit. Yes little grandchildren, you are so lucky, for grand daddy has left you a manor house built from rosy scenarios and bullshit.

Ah, the media. Fattened for the slaughter on lovin' spoonfulls of creamy repetitious Bush administration sanctioned public relations miracle whip. Whipped to a fine peak. Sure does beat having to commit actual honest reporting or critical journalism. Welcome to the house that Rosy Scenario built.

But grandpa, Rosy Scenario wasn't real...

SHUT UP KID! Eat your bullshit and miracle whip.

It's a good thing we have an endless springwell of bubbly intellectually dishonest historical hokum and psy-op pundit payola babble and wave after wave of massaged public relations happy-talk to keep us all sane and informed year after year after shined up intellectually dishonest year. Thank god CNN and MSNBC and FOX and NPR and so on.... are all on the job. Keeping America safe for high paid right wing think tank remoras and corporate media millionaire pundits and rosy scenario bullshit pr executives everywhere. Leave no rosy scenario bullshit pr executive behind.

Clearly, Americans can no longer produce a fucking toaster or stitch a pair of work boots together or pay some poor bastard a living wage for standing around all day guarding a shit eating cash register, but, by god, when it comes to weaving an endless tapestry of imbecilic televised rosy scenarios, demonstratable lies, half-truths, deceptions, disinformation, goggle eyed boo-scare stories, glossy corporate video new releases, cheery self congratulatory feel good buzz phrases, moony-eyed economic privatization quackeries, and page after page after page of devious, disingenuous, dishonest, deceitful, and altogether unscrupulous "public diplomacy" bullshit - well - Americans are the living breathing champions of rosy productivity. No amount of money or time or effort is wasted when it comes to the manufacture and distribution of precious Rosy Scenario bullshit. Fuckin' A.

Not all Americans are happy about this of course. But who cares about them. They are simply intolerant bigots who hate real American bullshit.

When David Brooks can appear on NPR and tell listeners that Ronald Reagan never tolerated dictators...
"This does go back to Reagan. The idea you shouldn't play footsie with dictators." SEE: Analysis of the Inauguration - All Things Considered, January 20, 2005 · Robert Siegel and Melissa Block talk to columnists E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and David Brooks from the New York Times about President Bush's speech and react to inauguration events.

..well, that is a heapin' helpin' of certifiable manufactured real American bullshit. In a sane world Brooks would have had his twitchy little well powdered nose rubbed in his own excrement and laughed off the air, because, any honest intelligent person knows that what Brooks said it is bullshit. Ronald Reagan and his administration not only tolerated murderous dictators they eagerly crawled under the covers with them and sucked on their diseased dictator toes and then left big bags of cash and cocaine on the nightstand on the way out the door. Right wing evangelical crazy Efrain Rios Montt, the fascist murderer Augusto Pinochet, Marcos in the Phillipines, Roberto D'Aubuisson and his right wing death squads in El Salvador, Videla and his "dirty war" genocide generals in Argentina, etc. Oh yeah sure, the Reagan years, they were a regular desert of dashed hopes for crazy dictators and nun rapers and torture chamber entrepreneurs.

The fact that EJ Dionne and Robert Siegel and Melissa Block just sat there like stump fungus and allowed Brooks to fling such bullshit around on National Public Radio without a peep in response just goes to show you how impressed with the awesome power of bullshit flinging the Big Liar Mainstream Media bullshit artists are.

Whats important to remember is that making a living as a Big Liar Mainstream Media bullshit artist is a booming trade. The New York Times actively seeks con-artist bullshitter bobos like David Brooks to propagate as many bullshit stories as possible. The New York Times has no problem with the fact that David Brooks is a liar and a bullshitter because the lies and bullshit David Brooks makes up sell newspapers with the "New York Times" printed on the front page. Thats a rosy bobo scenario The New York Times can live with. Who cares if it's nothing but dishonest bobo bullshit if dishonest bobo bullshit sells newspapers to bobos who want to be spoon fed bullshit! Apparently according to the bullshit salesman at the New York Times there is an entire market demographic which requests - no, demands! - demands to be spoon fed bullshit. And who is the New York Times to deny the customer what they request, I mean demand. Damnit! If it's bullshit the customer wants it's bullshit the NYT will deliver! Right to your door every single grey bullshit day if you like. It's the lazy-fare American way.

NPR presents another case of bullshit for sale. As a matter of fact immediately following the episode with David Brooks they ran and entire program called "America Abroad" with Gerrick Utley and Margaret Warner which highlighted all the rosy scenario moments of Ronald Reagan's "perception management" psy-op machine. It was mostly bullshit too. Complete with woosie reflections on the golden years of Charles Wick's USIA state sponsored "public diplomacy" apparatus and little sniperoos of jolly good cheer from Jeane Kirkpatrick (who never met a right wing dictator she couldn't bring to a climax) and other all-star memory moments in state sponsored bullshit management. No vetting of course of Iran Contra and El Salvador and Guatemala and death sqauds and mujahadeen "freedom fighters" and uncomfortable intolerant liberal Gipper soiling anti-bullshit stuff like that. Freedom, liberty, the Gipper.... hip hip hooray for the American bullshitter way!

So, back to inauguration day and all the lavish claptrap and repetitious goo-goo eyed hero worship and plainspoken feedom lovin' liberty lavishin' praise from the Big Liar Mainstream Media about George W. Bush's designs to pry the tentacles of despotism from the globe and replace those despotic tentacles with the warm and fuzzy tender freedom loving hug of the Bush family's corporate military industrial complex. Feel the love. Freedom and liberty and who cares how many graves of innocent dead children and mommies and daddies and puppies we have to walk over to dispense our worldly affections and to get even with those whoever they weres who destroyed the World Trade Towers wherever they are. As long as we ultimately deliver our big freedom hug to the world. You will all thank us later because Jesus sent us. Yes siree. Sure.

So now we're off to Iran? Ok... like as I understand it now: at least according to Condi-liar Rice we invaded Iraq because --- Saddam was a threat to his neighbors and the stability in the region and blah blah blah.

So then, one might pon-der, why the fuck now are we threatening those neighbors?

Let me get this new story straight: We invaded Iraq because Saddam was a threat to us because he was a threat to his neighbors and by being a threat to his neighbors we needed to remove the threat of Saddam so that ---- we could therefore be a threat to his neighbors who are now in turn a threat to us and stability in the region?

Oh, yeah, I get it...I'd like to thank the freedom loving Iraqi people for allowing us to drop five thousand pound bombs on their homes so we can now threaten their neighbors on behalf of protecting them and ourselves from threatening neighbors. Thats right nice of ya all to allow us to be so neighborly and helpful and stability enhancing and all. I'm sure the Iranians will thank us too. As soon as we can drop five thousand pound bombs on their homes to remind them that we removed the threat of Saddam who had been threatening their neighborhood's stability for so long. And because they the Iranians, who are a threat to Iraq who was a threat to us before and still is but never mind that, are also a threat to us now too because after we removed the threat to them they then became a threat to us. And to pretty much anyone else we can threaten into being threatened in the meantime. Know what I mean you fuckers? Well you better figure it out quick or something terrible might happen.

Do I really need to go into it? America can't have that happening again. It's too much of a threat. Condi "Miss Supertanker" Rice and Donald Rumsfeld will explain it all once we get to Tehran and set up our military outpost 'freedom' bases among the flowers and cheering crowds of well wishers.

You know, only crazy people think like this but I think I'm getting the hang of it. Being crazy isn't really that difficult. I kinda like it and I hear they canned Crossfire and are hiring new crazy bullshit artists at CNN.

Well, I went to art school and I know how to bake a cake and rivet a rosy bullshit scenario together with the best of em. So hey, someone just send me an application and an employee handgun, I mean handbook - sorry - and I'll be right over.

BTW: I'll only take the bullshit job if Ari Fleischer can be my liberal co-host. I insist on a fair and balanced program of bullshit at all times because that's what the American people want. Even if 'bout half of them is just full of bullshit.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Republicans versus the Constitution: Gonzales paves the way for tyranny 

Amazing that nobody called bullshit on him for this at his confirmation hearing, but the Senate Dems are still way, way too deferential (except for Barbara Boxer, of course). Read it again:

"[GONZALES:] I do believe there may come an occasion when the Congress might pass a statute that the president may view as unconstitutional" and therefore ignore it.
(via the Barre Times Argus)

Wait a minute. It's up to the Executive—let's try to reserve "President" for Constitutional officers—to decide which laws are unconstitutional? I thought the Supreme Court was supposed to do that, under the doctrine of the separation of powers.

Let's check out the Federalist Papers—something our Republican [cough] friends should consider doing more often—and see what James Madison had to say about a system where the courts and the executive powers were united, instead of being seperated:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system.
(via Federalist Papers, #47)

Funny the oath that soldiers take—"to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," when Bush, by his actions and his nominations, is surely a domestic enemy of the Constitution. Life's little ironies....

Goodnight, moon 

Well, now they can unweld all the manhole covers they welded shut for the coronation.

And kudos to Oliver Willis for the clip. Watch Vanity Fair's Judy Bachrach take down FUX [cough] news anchor Brigitte Quinn. Funny, there seems to be a false note in Republican triumphalism, and Bachrach exposes it expertly. Citizen journalism at its finest! Like kryptonite to stupid, indeed!

IOKIYAR: And it didn't look that good on her, either 

Leadfoot gets a new do:

Our favorite TV nugget of the day so far came courtesy of Barbara Walters, who matter-of-factly informed viewers that Laura Bush recently had her hair done by famed New York City stylist Sally Hershberger, who charges $700 for a haircut. Just take a moment to think back to the go-go '90s, and try to imagine what the press' hysterical reaction would have been if word ever leaked out that Hillary Clinton had sat down for a $700 trim.
(via Eric Bohlert in Salon)

The press? You mean the LRWM?

Coronation folies: Inerrant Boy's bubble must not be popped! 

All that preparation for a terror attack?

In the end, massive anti-terrorism preparations for what federal authorities promised would be the most secure inauguration in U.S. history turned into an exercise in crowd control,
(via WaPo)

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Coronation spewage: [WINGER] Must... resist... cognitive... dissonance... 

Words lie:

[BUSH] All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
(via WaPo)

Pictures don't:

Say, we're still waiting for a little more coverage on that executive order authorizing torture (back).

Coronation spewage: Department of No Shit, Sherlock 

More WPS:

America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.
(via WaPo)

Listening, MBFs?

Sheesh, what a mediocre speech this is. Can you believe it, the soaring-spirited geniuses who wrote it actually put in a sentence like "America's influence is considerable." Considerable?

Coronation spewage: Transmission glitch to the earpiece? 

Anyone out there actually read the text?


[BUSH] Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master and no one deserves to be a slave.


Fancying these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers.
(via WaPo)

Fancy them?! Why not fabulous them! Yeah, that's the ticket. "Fabulousing these ideals...."

Oh, the humanity! 

Limbaugh supports right to privacy. Funny how important rights become when the cops are after you:

The conservative radio commentator alleges that his privacy was violated when the records were seized in 2003 and has fought to keep them sealed. Lower courts have sided with prosecutors, who are investigating whether Limbaugh illegally visited several doctors to receive duplicate prescriptions.
(via AP)

Time to recycle that old joke:

What's the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg?


But what about the mass graves?! 

Oh, wait:

Sgt. Kevin Benderman notified his commanders Dec. 28 that he was seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector. He then refused orders to deploy with his unit Jan. 8 while the Army processed his objector claim.

Though he never fired a gun in combat, Benderman says the misery he saw firsthand - including a badly burned young girl and mass graves filled with men, women and children - led him to seek objector status.

Army investigators must now decide whether to prosecute Benderman in a court-martial or allow his case to be handled administratively, said Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone, a Fort Stewart spokesman.
(via AP)

And where one does it, you can bet there are many more thinking about it.

Hey, freedom's untidy!

Time Goes By 

More stories from AP of creative resistance:

At a mock inauguration in Baltimore, a woman wearing a Bush mask gave a pretend speech, stumbling over her words, and a guitarist played Bob Dylan's "Gates of Eden," which opens, "Of war and peace the truth just twists." Passing cars, buses and taxis honked horns in support, and a pedestrian raised a fist.

In Louisville, Ky., protesters solemnly read the names of dead Iraqis and Americans and staged a skit that spoofed Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove.

"It's very frightening to me that we have four more years," said Ken Nevitt of the Louisville Peace Action Community. "For us, it's going to be four more years of protesting."

About 1,500 protesters joined the "Jazz Funeral for Democracy" in New Orleans. A mock coffin bearing copies of the Patriot Act and the Constitution was borne through the French Quarter's narrow streets on a horse-drawn hearse to the wail of trumpets and trombones.

In Las Vegas, about 30 peace activists talked on the steps of the federal courthouse about issues they said need to be emphasized — love, the environment and the Bill of Rights. About 50 demonstrators beat drums outside the statehouse in Austin, Texas, as part of a "kiss in," when they all "make out, not make war."

At the federal courthouse in Akron, Ohio, about 20 demonstrators stood on a snowy street corner.

"We think war is not the way to come to peace," said Mary Kathryne Ryan, 63. "So many people are suffering in Iraq — their people and our people. We just don't make friends that way. The children there are going to grow up hating us more, and that will create more terrorism."

It's a healthy sign. For us, it’s going to be four more years of trying to nail The Great Pretender to the wall, via protests, letters, local, regional and national Democratic action toward victory in 2006, pushing to expose the lies and encourage prosecution, cutting off spending to corporations and businesses that support these various outrages, preaching nonviolent direct action and peace and justice and equality, and drinking heavily as needed (phooey on the doctors). A Bas le Roi! We are not alone! We'll stop fighting these bastards when they pry the portraits of Emma Goldman and our Make Love, Not War amulets out of our cold, dead, fingers.

Uniter or divider? Um, duh. 

The headline for this story is just priceless: "Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider."

I'll give you a bit more from this story written by an apparently irony-impaired reporter:
On the eve of President Bush's inauguration, a poll shows the nation is split over whether he has united or divided the nation, but a majority believe his inauguration festivities should be toned down because of the war.

During the 2000 campaign, Bush promised to be a "uniter, not a divider."

Forty-nine percent of 1,007 adult Americans said in phone interviews they believe Bush is a "uniter," according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday. Another 49 percent called him a "divider," and 2 percent had no opinion.
Um, guys, this poll demonstrates pretty conclusively that he's a divider, don't you think?

In fact, W, Rove, and the boys specialize in this thing called wedge politics that uses certain issues to unite certain groups behind them. So, in a weird way, Bush is a uniter for some but clearly, overall, he's a divider.


Have you guys been paying any attention at all the last few years?

I guess we know the answer to that question now, don't we?

Higher Ground 

I keep thinking of this guy I saw in one of the tsunami videos. He's standing a few dozen yards away at the water's edge, staring out to sea. He's obviously seeing something. An advance wave hits the beach and nearly knocks him over, but after recovering his balance he just resumes gazing at the horizon. Then another, larger wave hits a few feet away from the videographer, and the camera, amid rising cries, stops rolling. The last image is of him just standing there as others turn to run.

I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. Was he in denial? Was he trying to think of something to do? Was he looking for something that would tell him it's all a bad dream? Was he praying? What more did he think he'd learn by continuing to stare? Why didn't he just get the hell out of there?

The first time my wife and seriously discussed leaving the United States was nearly two years ago. We were already suffocating from the incompetence, greed, sanctimony, lying, and jingoism that permeated, largely unopposed, our airwaves, our newspapers, and the Internet. By that time the hallmarks of Bushism were already obvious: the intent to cripple government's ability to help the helpless; the hostility to political custom and principles of comity between institutions; the contempt for accountability; the punitive response to all criticism; the mind-boggling fiscal recklessness; the militant stupidity; the cronyism.

The pivotal moment may have been the Canadian woman in Vancouver, where we'd fled for respite during the Iraq invasion. On hearing our lament for a country gone frankly insane, she simply suggested, "Well, dears, why don't you move here? We'd love to have you!" After a year of being labeled traitors by our own countrymen, that was almost enough to make us cancel our return tickets then and there. But we still hoped that sanity and basic decency would prevail. So we filed for a permanent residence visa, and then threw ourselves into the campaign with everything we had. The visa would be approved by the time of the election, but we hoped we wouldn't need it. Call it pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.

In a fine meditation on the tsunami, Digby writes, "This disaster has made my tidal wave dreams more turbulent than they've ever been and it's not because of the frightening images of the tsunami surge and the people running for their lives. It's because we are ruled by people with no empathy, no competence and no limits. It's because, more than ever, I feel engulfed by powerful forces over which I have no control."

It's indeed a testament to the derangement of our society and the cynicism of those running it, that 49% of the population can feel so alone and powerless. It's also not a coincidence. Bush is an effect, not a cause of the crisis we are facing, one that would not have disappeared with John Kerry in office. We are living in a country whose custodians--corporations, public officials, courts, and the press--have been looting our patrimony for years. To carry this out has required the undermining of the belief in the very idea of a patrimony worth preserving and growing, a project that show no sign of abating and that is now nearly complete. If and when it is complete, the American Dream will be a lifeboat, and our motto, no longer "e pluribus unum," but "sauve qui peut."

In the final analysis, Bush is no tsunami. For one thing, he lacks a tsunami's terrifying magnificence. He's more like the La Conchita mudslide, an ugly wall of sludge, triggered by an underlying structural collapse, that slowly fouls and smothers everything in its path. And maybe that's why relatively few people are getting out (or taking to the streets): They think their house is safe, that their children will be spared, that a miracle will intervene. Perhaps Social Security will be the Bushies' Stalingrad. Perhaps this waking nightmare will finally end short of ruination, though the wreckage will still take years to clean up. Nothing would make us happier, but until then, the facts in front of us tell us that the prudent action is to seek higher ground.

We know we can't entirely escape Bush from our little redoubt up North, but at least we can shelter our children from much of his ugliness and give them a shot at a more hopeful future. We are also looking forward to finally paying our taxes without shame. Canada is a beautiful country that still amazes us after many visits with its decency, wit, and above all, commitment to a better life for all its citizens.

From our new home we will continue the same fight as before, and invite others to join us. (We learn daily of more who are.) To those who can't or won't, don't misunderstand: They also subvert, who merely get up and leave.

Gaslight watch: Extremely non-political terror alerts, just in time for the coronation inaugural 

So two governors fly home, nobly missing the coronation inaugural to keep their states safe. Funny—it's the first alert since the Republican convention! And even funnier—both Governors are Republicans! (via CNN)

Guess we'd better weld the whole country's manhole covers shut, like they did in DC. Just to be on the terrified side.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Torture Bad. Rule By Decree....um, not so much 

Okay, this story is not--just barely not, but still not--quite as bad as the headline implies.

Lambert has been valiantly flogging the fact that the worst thing about Alberto Gonzales is NOT his compliant willingness to work out a legal justification for torture if that's what Dear Leader wants him to do, but the fact that in pursuit of that end he has perverted his legal mind to justify Rule By Decree.

The idea--found, as best as I can tell from the copy of the US Constitution which is open on my desk as I write--that the Executive can decide that a law duly passed by Congress is unConstitutional and therefore can be ignored, abrogated and generally pissed upon.

Slowly, agonizingly slowly, this atrocity is working its way into the print media at least:

(via The Invaluable Froom)
Dan Eggen and Charles Babington write in The Washington Post: "Attorney general nominee Alberto R. Gonzales, responding to questions about his role in setting controversial detention policies, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that any form of torture by U.S. personnel is illegal, according to new documents released yesterday.

"But Gonzales, the White House counsel who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate in coming weeks, declined to identify the techniques allowed under U.S. interrogation policies, citing restrictions on classified information. He also reiterated his view that a president could theoretically decide that a U.S. law -- such as the prohibition against torture -- is unconstitutional, though he dismissed the question as irrelevant under President Bush."
Read that last sentence again. Now that we've noted that this is what Gonzales truly believes--not just something that he did because he was told, in his capacity as White House capo, like a kid assigned to write a term paper about Moby-Dick or something--but truly believes, how can there be any consideration by anyone that this man is deserving of a government paycheck in any capacity? Much less as the chief lawyer of the land?

Don't Senators take an oath too? About defending the Constitution "from all enemies, foreign and domestic"?

Hilary Duff?!?! 

What's up with that? Isn't she supposed to be entirely talent-free?

Goodnight, moon 

Honestly, I don't see what's so hard about the ethics of this whole Social Security thing. It's pay as you go? Big deal.

While I've been working, my payroll taxes paid for my mother's retirement in dignity (and maybe some other mothers' too. Good).

In Asia, that's called filial piety. I guess that translates to, um, family values in this country, doesn't it?

Since Social Security is a social compact between generations, the same will be done for me, by people who are young now. And they will be taken care of in their turn.

The numbers say this works. And it's also the right thing to do. Whether you're a Confucian, a Christian, or just plain humane.

Delusional wingers: Rummy, Wolfie think Iran will be a cakewalk, too 

God knows what our policy towards Iran should be. But wouldn't basing it in reality, instead of fantasy, be a really good first step? But n-o-o-o-o-o-o:

[T]he hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership. “Within the soul of Iran there is a struggle between secular nationalists and reformers, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the fundamentalist Islamic movement,” the consultant told me. “The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse”—like the former Communist regimes in Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief, he said.
(via the most excellent Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker)

Right. And isn't Rummy and Wolfowitz talking about "shattering the aura of invincibility an utterly classic case of Winger Projection Syndrome (WPS)? Given that these clowns have done more than anyone to destroy the aura of American invincibility since Robert MacNamara and William Westmoreland?

Bush torture policies: The latest from Gonzales 


Mr. Gonzales declined to say in his written responses to the committee what interrogation tactics would constitute torture in his view or which ones should be banned.
(via the poor old Times)

So, torture is against the law, except they don't know or won't say what torture is, and executive—let's reserve the word "President" for constitutional officers, shall we?—can set aside the law anyhow, and rule by decree.

Eesh. No Democrat should vote for this guy. There's no upside to it at all.

Social insecurity: The Chilean experience 

Knight Ridder has a few choice details:

To sell privatized pension plans to workers, Chile's fund managers hired miniskirted marketers to troll outside factories and office buildings. The marketers' wages got passed on to workers who signed up, however, and dragged down returns.

Poor initial oversight allowed fund managers to lure workers into switching plans, then charge them for the switch.
(via Knight Ridder)

(Some statistics too, but, lies, damned lies, and...)

You know, I always had the picture that after Bush phased out Social Security in favor of private pension plans, I'd be sitting down with a broker; sure, I'd get ripped off, but by a professional, or at least someone in a suit.

After Chile, it looks like dealing with privatized social security is going to be more like dealing with cable weasels, or with telemarketers trying to get you to switch your long distance carrier.

Our operators are standing by!

NOTE I like the AARP's gambling idea, but it we could put across the meme that dealing with the privatized system (we've got to reframe "private accounts") is like dealing with the cable company... Well, victory would be ours.

Durable Majority VS Enduring Values 

Let Ken Melhman eat his durable majority, we have our enduring values to keep us warm.

Hey, who says we can't frame?

Enduring values ought to be the ones that unite all Americans, that survive beyond partisanship. Remember how pundits always used to, and still do, come to think of it, sneer at Democrats for their coalition politics, their need to service interest groups instead of having a coherent political philosophy. But isn't that exactly what Ken Melhman is talking about doing? Isn't that exactly what Republicans have been doing, and isn't that why Republicans have become the partisan dividers, rather than the enduring uniters based on common values. And before any liberal lets any of the Bushites get away with saying that their values are the common ones, three million votes out of three hundre million cast is a slim majority, it gives you the right to govern, but it doesn't redefine the American heritage.

Gentle readers, think on this subject, as will I; any further thoughts you might have will be welcome.

Stories of Refusal 

Another hats off to Kevin Benderman, the sergeant who refused to participate in iWaq or any other war ever again, echoing Dr. King’s quote of the lyrics “I ain’t gonna study war no more.” He gave a lot of reasons why he came to this decision, but here’s one:

…Somewhere along the route there was this one woman standing along side the road with a young girl of about 8 or 9 years old and the little girl’s arm was burned all the way up her shoulder and I don’t mean just a little blistered, I mean she had 3rd degree burns the entire length of her arm and she crying in pain because of the burns. I asked the troop executive officer if we could stop and help the family and I was told that the medical supplies that we had were limited and that we may need them, I informed him that I would donate my share to that girl but we did not stop to help her.

I found the whole thing at POAC: voices_004 It’s quite moving. His wife has also posted at Online Journal. Here’s part of what she had to say:

For the past two weeks, my husband Kevin and I have answered questions from reporters, journalists, interested citizens from almost every state in the union, and about 8 foreign countries. After all of these interviews, I have a few questions of my own.

What is wrong with a country in which a man and his wife have to jump through hoops, take psychological tests, and wait three months for the results of an application that declares he has made a conscious choice to never go to war again?

What is wrong with the state of affairs of a country when a man and his wife must use every media source available, and during those interviews face the questioning of his and their character, all because that man has decided he cannot in good conscience ever participate in war again?

What is wrong with the direction of the world when a man and his wife receive phone calls and emails from all over their country asking them to explain themselves, calling them coward, wondering if they have ever read the Bible or studied the scripture, all because that man has chosen to speak out against war and violence, and his wife has chosen to stand with him?

What is wrong with a country when an application for conscientious objector status is reviewed and questioned, when a man's mental state is evaluated, when his morality is brought into question by a supposed chaplain (a man of God), all because this soldier has decided he cannot use a weapon to kill another person for any reason?

What is wrong with a country when a man can walk into a military recruiting office, sign on the dotted line and find himself in a war zone two months later, without one question directed toward his sanity?

What’s wrong? Republicans. The whole thing is here: One man has stopped killing; hope for more to do the same

And while we’re at it, a hats off to Adam Maor, Noam Bahat, Matan Kaminer, Shimri Tzameret, and Hagai Matar, the five Israeli refuseniks who recently got out of the Karmel Military Prison after serving 21 months for refusing mandatory service in the IDF. Shimir Tzameret says, “…my generation goes to the Occupied Territories and comes back with new norms…they talk about shooting people just for fun.” It’s in the January issue of The Progressive, but not online yet I don’t think.

Any other stories of resistance? Refusal directed toward the one-dimensional machine of destruction?

UPDATE: Farmer mentioned this CNN link to the Benderman story, too. I note that part of the story included this bit, so Kevin may indeed be looking at desertion charges.

“In May, a Fort Stewart court-martial sentenced Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of the Florida National Guard to a year in prison for desertion despite his pending objector application. Mejia filed his claim after refusing to return to his unit in Iraq while home on leave.”
CNN.com - Army sergeant refuses 2nd Iraq deployment - Jan 13, 2005

And while, yes, reinstating the draft would certainly push resistance over the edge, remember that Boulder Daily Camera quote: “…lack of economic opportunity helps to explain why African-Americans compose 26 percent of the Army's enlisted personnel — meaning that they hold a disproportionate share of the lowest-ranking and most dangerous positions.” There’s drafts and then there’s drafts.

And here’s more on Israeli refusniks: Refuser Solidarity Network

Ken Mehlman rolls out exciting new marketing phrase 

"Durable Majority" - Yeah, that's real catchy. I love it. Like leaving an old unchained refrigerator on the front porch for the children to play in.

RNC Chair Unveils 'Durable Majority' Plan

WASHINGTON - White House ally Ken Mehlman took over leadership of the Republican Party on Wednesday and outlined plans to find new voters among the ranks of churchgoers and social conservatives.

"We can deepen the GOP by identifying and turning out Americans who vote for president but who often miss off-year elections and agree with our work on behalf of a culture of life, our promoting marriage, and a belief in our Second Amendment heritage," Mehlman said, referring to the party's opposition to abortion, gay marriage and gun control.

In other words - the God, Guns and Greed plan.

The GOP, where grand old wizardries are born again, and again, and again, and...


Paul Craig Roberts: Midnight in America 

Paul Craig Roberts, him of the former "Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. [...] Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page [...] Contributing Editor of National Review," etc... etc... fame and fortune and other adventures in stupid bad ideas - yes - that Paul Craig Roberts, has alas apparently woken to the startling realization that "Americans have been betrayed." Ding-ding-ding-ding!, the alarm clock tolls for thee, Paul C Roberts.

Roberts reviews The New American Militarism, by Andrew J. Bacevich:
January 18, 2005
Empire and Militant Christianity How Americans Were Seduced by War
by Paul Craig Roberts

Americans have been betrayed.

Sooner or later Americans will realize that they have been led to defeat in a pointless war by political leaders who they inattentively trusted. They have been misinformed by a sycophantic corporate media too mindful of advertising revenues to risk reporting truths branded unpatriotic by the propagandistic slogan, "you are with us or against us."

What happens when Americans wake up to their betrayal? It is too late to be rescued from catastrophe in Iraq, but perhaps if Americans can understand how such a grand mistake was made they can avoid repeating it.


The greatest threat to the US is not terrorists but the neoconservative belief, to which President Bush is firmly committed, that American security and well-being depend on US global hegemony and impressing US values on the rest of the world. This belief resonates with a patriotic public. Bacevich writes, "in the aftermath of a century filled to overflowing with evidence pointing to the limited utility of armed force and the dangers inherent in relying excessively on military power, the American people have persuaded themselves that their best prospect for safety and salvation lies with the sword."

If Americans persist in these misconceptions, America will "share the fate of all those who in ages past have looked to war and military power to fulfill their destiny. We will rob future generations of their rightful inheritance. We will wreak havoc abroad. We will endanger our security at home. We will risk the forfeiture of all that we prize."

"Americans have been betrayed." - !!!!! - Well no shit. Maybe I haven't been paying attention but when did Paul Craig Roberts figure this one out? I dunno. Perhaps being inducted into the French Legion of Honor has transformed Paul Craig into some kind of cheese eating pastry flake anti-American Christ-hater? Ya know?

In any event: A big hip-hip-hooray for PC Roberts for finally leaping to attention, rubbing the fishy scales from his bloodshot gaze, and slapping himself in the face with a cold wash cloth. Better late than never as they say.

But then again -- it's not like Roberts and guys like him weren't warned a long time ago that the onboard Kool Aide was spiked with funny bid'ness. They were warned plenty of times down through the decades. And lets face it, the obnoxious keg rolling swindlers and power drunk privateers currently steering our national "family values" party boat "Imperium" straight for the rocky shoals, those people, wouldn't be where they are right now this very moment (preparing to waltz their way through another inauguration) if it weren't for the persistent support and assistance and endorsement of dreamy Right-wingnut Good Ship Gipper party boy scull yankers like Paul Craig Roberts and his "morning in America" crew.

So thanks a lot Roberts. I guess. At least, apparently, you've still got enough walking around half-sense left in you to help scrub the deck of the mess you and your supply-sider military industrial complex doper pals have made of the place. These are your people Paul C. Roberts. You helped book this crazy rummy soaked moonlight "cakewalk" cruise a long time ago. At least it's right manly of you to help try to swab up the vomit all these watery sea-sickening miles later.

Hopefully we'll all safely survive the voyage back to some recognizable home port. Assuming the whole ship don't sink like a brick to the bottom of the drink in the meantime. Who can say for sure at this point. But, if we do make it home hi and dry, we can all hold a big counterpunchers clam bake on a beach somewhere and dance like wild horny bonvivants to the tsunami-like swing of Dick Dale's surf guitar and you, Craig Roberts, can invite Lew Rockwell (The Reality of Red-State Fascism) or that windy wop Justin Raimondo* (Today's Conservatives Are Fascists) and I'll bring along Kitty Deer and her sisters and a chick from Dixie and we'll screw Christopher Hitchens onto a sharpened stilt and spit roast the greasy fat marinated bastard over a crackling driftwood fire like a sacrificial bush pig. And then we'll heave the entire burnt offering to the crabs! Jeezis, what the hell am I talking about.....

[*Advice to Raimondo. Lose the groovy Fonzi pose will ya.]

Well, we'll see.... I'm starting to get carried away here. It must be the waves and the rum and the thundering drums of war. It's all making me weird. So go read what Roberts has to say. It's a good refreshing read. Coming from a Clownhall wanker with a compelling life story that is.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."


No, forget it. Don't discuss. Have another drink.

Department of One Hardly Knows What to Say 

At the inaugural:

In addition to solemn dedications to wars present and past, the event featured comedy routines.
(via AP)


The Janet Jackson Moment at W's Inaugural 

Borrowing a word from Motley Crue's Neil, the lead singer of Fuel proclaimed, "Welcome to the greatest ----ing country in the world."
(via AP)

What will we tell the children?

Of course, apparently no one was there:
Duff was the headliner at the half-full, D.C. Armory concert, which paid tribute to youth volunteerism and community service.
Well, Hilary Duff isn't exactly "hip," is she?

Lame. Republicans ain't go no soul.

This Does Not Compute 

Heavily publicized in recent days has been the problems the FBI seems to have with computers. You get the impression that they're all working on Commodore 64s, Apple IIE's and 47 pound Osborne portables, connected (intermittently) by 300-baud dialup modems. A sample of this tale of woe, carried in thousands of papers and media outlets:

(via San Diego Union Tribune)
The FBI said yesterday that it might scrap a $170 million software program developed as a crucial element in a high-performance computer system required for the bureau to meet the threat of terrorism.
And there's also this one....although this is more puzzling as it is dated today whereas I thought they had announced the cancellation of this program months ago when those wacko civil-liberties nuts complained:

AP (via AskJeeves aggregator MyWay)

The FBI has effectively abandoned its custom-built Internet surveillance technology, once known as Carnivore, designed to read e-mails and other online communications among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies, according to bureau oversight reports submitted to Congress.

Instead, the FBI said it has switched to unspecified commercial software to eavesdrop on computer traffic during such investigations and has increasingly asked Internet providers to conduct wiretaps on targeted customers on the government's behalf, reimbursing companies for their costs.
So after two such sad songs, does anything about this piece seem just a bit incongruous?

also AP

If you're among the millions of Americans who took airline flights in the months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI probably knows about it - and possibly where you stayed, whom you traveled with, what credit card you used and even whether you ordered a kosher meal.

The bureau is keeping 257.5 million records on people who flew on commercial airlines from June through September 2001 in its permanent investigative database, according to information obtained by a privacy group and made available to The Associated Press.

Privacy advocates say they're troubled by the possibility that the FBI could be analyzing personal information about people without their knowledge or permission.
Um, no shit. Not to mention the question of what the hell use these ancient records are to figuring out where terrists are plotting eeeevil today.

(Oh, and is anybody else getting as annoyed as I am by the overuse of the word "troubling" these days? Could we maybe get a better indication of whether this is "a thing that makes you say HHHmmmmm...." as Arsenio used to put it, or a "run for your life, we're surrounded, sauve qui peut" situation? But we digress....)

And lo, there is an explanation!

FBI spokesman Bill Carter said the bureau was required to retain its records.

"There are rules that have been set by the National Archives with regard to the retention of records by government agencies," Carter said.
Yeah, that's the ticket! They're saving this shit, which they had a dubious right to acquire in the first place, for the Archives! Right. Sure. I believe that.

Meanwhile if you were on a commercial flight during the time period in question, your name is in a file somewhere. I hope the consolation of having your name, credit card number, and preferences in kosher food preserved for all time in the National Archives, and will become available to the archaeologists of the year 4782. I'm sure nobody's going to look at it in the meantime just for fun or because they can or anything.

Hit It, Boulder 

The Boulder (Colorado) Daily Camera gets it right in their MLK Day editorial:

…lack of economic opportunity helps to explain why African-Americans compose 26 percent of the Army's enlisted personnel — meaning that they hold a disproportionate share of the lowest-ranking and most dangerous positions.

As he condemned the Vietnam War in 1967, Dr. King framed it as an issue of social justice. "I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such."

King continued, "We were taking the black men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem."

Emphasizing that he was deeply and equally concerned about Vietnamese victims and U.S. troops, King dwelled on the plight of our soldiers: "For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war. ... We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved."

Last week, the Bush administration announced that it was ending its search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The president's original rationale for war was thus decisively cast aside. And the words of Dr. King indict today's leaders as convincingly as they did yesterday's.

It’s sure good to see someone connecting the dots, especially with Republicans falling over each other to hijack and sanitize Dr. King’s memory. Hope everyone had a great holiday full of peace and justice action. Hope everyone has some peace and justice plans for the 20th, too. If you feel like sharing…


I think of Martin Luther King Jr. in many different names. Sometimes he is Dr. King, sometimes the Rev. Dr.; there was a certain formality about the man, a deep seriousness that often makes us forget that he was only 35 years old on the day he was assassinated. And let us be clear, as well, that the formality of the man, and our need to honor that self-imposed decorum was not unrelated to race. It was Dr. King's way of reminding, especially us white folks, that he was a man of accomplishment by any standard by which we chose to judge, and we white folks who answered his call were anxious to show him we knew, we understood that he was a Dr. and Reverand, and that he was the son of another Martin Luther King. But in my secret heart, the place where we keep those intimate, spiritual relationships we have with those whose body of work we love and admire from afar, writers, artists, teachers, and yes, politicians, the best of whom we should think of as public servants, in that secret heart, Dr. King was, and still is "Martin."

We all know that he'd gone to Memphis to march with municipal garbage workers who were on strike, and we all know that section of the speech, which was given on his last night alive on earth, when he seems to see, at least rhetorically the possibility of his own death; the speech is usually referenced as "I've been to the mountaintop," speech. But there was much more to that speech, as in all his speeches.

One set of people who haven't forgotten anything about that strike and that death are the garbage workers of Memphis and their union and who keep a page on their AFMSCE site, (that would be the American Federation Of Municiapl State, & County Employees, you know, those government employees that Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush and now George W. Bush are trying to free from the horror of being represented by a union.) And please, no comments that the Democrats aren't any better. Tain't so. The Democratic Party has remained true to the cause of unions, as it has to the racial causes for which my "Martin" became the lodestar. The AFMSCE site is called "MEMEPHIS: We Remember; it is well worth a visit. The workers on strike bore signs with this simple, delcarative sentence: "I AM A MAN."

Among the excellent links you'll find at the site, there is an "I AM A MAN" exhibit devoted to the strike at the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne St. University.

On the AFMSCE site, one can find a piece taken from a Juan Williams book, a discussion by Jesse Epps, a Mississippi-born American black man, who explains his path from that non-American state to become a labor organizer, and explains how they happened on the theme of "I am a man," in Memephis and how rats may have figured into the final settlement; would that Juan Williams were better able to remember the meaning of the life of Jesse Epps when Juan is doing his soft shoe shuffle on that panel of Fox News shit-eaters to which he brings his color and little else on so many occasions.

Perhaps most interesting is Jesse Epps" discussion of Dr. King's reluctance to become involved in a labor dispute:
In the end, close to 1,400 men joined the strike, and they shut the city down.

On his first visit to Memphis, King spoke to a crowd of 17,000 and called for a citywide march.

When we first asked Dr. King to come speak to the garbage workers, his reaction was, "We don't get involved in labor disputes."

Dr. King said to me, "I sympathize and understand the problems, Jesse, but my plate is full." He was running all over the country trying to create some excitement for the Poor People's Campaign. He said, "You know, I'm up against the wall, and I really can't come down, because I cannot abandon this project."

I told him, "We're not asking you to abandon it. We're saying that this is very much a part of it. So you cannot afford to pass by these men." The Rev. Jim Lawson, who had pioneered the movement's use of nonviolent techniques, finally got Dr. King to agree to come. When he came, he saw the real fervor of what was going on here, and it energized him.
It did energize Martin. You can sense that renewed energy when you read the whole speech he gave in Memphsis on his last night alive on this earth. I apologize that I keep repeating that phrase, but in some part of my soul, I still can't believe we lost him then, so early, so young, with so much more to do in this life. But we did. And here's a small part of what we lost:
I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow. Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.

As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.

But I wouldn't stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I'm named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg.

But I wouldn't stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

But I wouldn't stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy." Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — "We want to be free."

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence.

That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember, I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn't itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God's world.

And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying that we are God's children. And that we don't have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers were on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that.

Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be. And force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: we know it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.
(emphasis mine)

I have more to say about the uses and misuses of "Martin" and will do so in a subsequent post.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Secret Police Who Saved their Country 

Amazing damn story in, of all places, NYT. It almost gives me hope for their future, at least in reporting about revolution and patriotism in foreign countries. Prepare to have your head spin around a few times: it seems the Orange Revolution was saved by the secret police, known as the siloviki:

While wet snow fell on the rally in Independence Square, an undercover colonel from the Security Service of Ukraine, or S.B.U., moved among the protesters' tents. He represented the successor agency to the K.G.B., but his mission, he said, was not against the protesters. It was to thwart the mobilizing troops. He warned opposition leaders that a crackdown was afoot.

Simultaneously, senior intelligence officials were madly working their secure telephones, in one instance cooperating with an army general to persuade the Interior Ministry to turn back.

The officials issued warnings, saying that using force against peaceful rallies was illegal and could lead to prosecution and that if ministry troops came to Kiev, the army and security services would defend civilians, said an opposition leader who witnessed some of the exchanges and Oleksander Galaka, head of the military's intelligence service, the G.U.R., who made some of the calls.
It's long, but I want to note just one more clip from down near the end. When, Oh Lord, are we going to get people with courage like this again?

Even as the election commission deliberated over Mr. Yanukovich's victory, Ukrayinska Pravda, a news Web site, posted transcripts of conversations from among members of the Yanukovich campaign.

The officials were discussing plans to rig the election, including padding the vote. One conversation, recorded on election night, was between Yuri Levenets, a campaign manager, and a man identified as Valery.

Valery: "We have negative results."

Mr. Levenets: "What do you mean?"

Valery: "48.37 for opposition, 47.64 for us."

Valery later added: "We have agreed to a 3 to 3.5 percent difference in our favor. We are preparing a table. You will have it by fax."

Mr. Yanukovich won by 2.9 percent. In an interview, Mr. Ribachuk said he gave the transcripts to Pravda after receiving them from the S.B.U., which had bugged the Yanukovich campaign.

General Smeshko refused to discuss the tapes in detail. "Officially, the S.B.U. had nothing to do with the surveillance of Yanukovich campaign officials," he said. "Such taping would be illegal in this country without permission from the court. I will say nothing more."

But a member of the siloviki, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the taping was illegal, acknowledged the surveillance but said it was too delicate for General Smeshko to confirm. "Those who did this, they did not intend to become heroes," the officer said. "They wanted only to prevent a falsified election."
I'll answer my own question. We'll get people like that in this country when we have people willing to close down the capital city with their own, orange-clad bodies. In the dead of a Ukrainian winter no less. Without them, none of this would have happened.


Anyone out there who'd like to do a guest post for Corrente with a little instant analysis that decodes the religious messages/theology in Bush's State of the Union speech? Drop me a line. Serious responses only please; I want real analysis tied to chapter and verse.

Goodnight, moon 

Some alert readers have suggested that farmer is really Thomas Pynchon.

Here at Corrente, we don't know. But we do know farmer deserves to be voted best writer (And where else do you get the illustrations thrown in?!) So, vote early and often!


Here's the money paragraph in Hersh's story:

The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls “action teams” in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. “Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. “We founded them and we financed them,” he said. “The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.” A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon’s commando capabilities, said, “We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.”
(via New Yorker)

Yep, a dirty war against 1.5 billion Muslims. Good luck, guys!

Oh, and Tom's historical question has now been at least partially answered:

Are the folks at the Pentagon now admitting that we were BEHIND THE DEATHSQUADS in El Salvador in the 1980s?

Well, Hersh's sources certainly are. We can only hope that books are forthcoming from lots of recently purged CIA professionals. Eh?

This picture needs a caption! 

And let's try not to be too obvious, OK?

You've been a good old wagon, Daddy, but you done broke down 


Clueless. Playing politics when the Republicans are waging war. A net loss.

Please, Dean for DNC chair!

WaPo gives Beltway Dems cover to vote No on Gonzales 

A fine editorial this Sunday morning:

According to the logic of attorney general nominee [Gonzales], federal authorities could deprive American citizens of sleep, isolate them in cold cells while bombarding them with unpleasant noises and interrogate them 20 hours a day while the prisoners were naked and hooded, all without violating the Constitution. Senators who vote to ratify Mr. Gonzales's nomination will bear the responsibility of ratifying such views as legitimate.
(via WaPo)

Let's see if the Beltway Dems have some inaugural balls of their own, eh?

NOTE WaPo doesn't even mention Gonzales's advocacy of executive—let's not use the word "President," OK? That's for Constitutional office holders—"rule by decree" (back). But we'll take what we can get.

Bush Dirty War Against 1.5 billion Muslims 

Everything we've been saying must be true...

Bush has taken Ollie North's "covert, off-the-shelf" operations capability off the shelf, and He's using it to run a dirty war in the Middle East.
(via back)

...Seymour Hersh shows is true.

Except it's worse than anyone ever imagined. Read it all.

Striking Iran has been getting the press play, but the real issue is that Bush is refighting Reagan's dirty war in the 80s in Latin America in the Middle East.

We saw this back in July. Farmer hammers the point home again today. Too bad the press, or the Dems, didn't raise the issue back then, eh? Reminds me of the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime... Now it's all in motion, and we can all wait for the inevitable blowback...

Nemesis: Daughter of Night 

"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign."

Scroll down page to Lambert's post On to Tehran.

This post is esentially a replay. Intended as a kind of public service I suppose. This so called next in line "Iranian campaign" is nothing new. Shadow-president Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, sales and marketing prop George W. Bush, and so on.... have been slithering toward this spider hole for many years. 9/11 "changed eveything" - so the corporatist media bedwetter chant goes - but that is simply so much blind simple minded script-reading from a sickening gaggle of cosmetic counter makeup sales girls and "official statement" readers and paid payola psy-op pundits in the cable television and print media.

Just so much well baked cakewalking and frosting licking and whelp-dog Beltway cocktail party ass sniffing from the posers at CNN and MSNBC and elsewhere. You know the kind. And thats all that is. No one in the cable-TeeVee news media can remember what happened three weeks ago let alone a little over two years ago. And they didn't pay attention back then either. So what's the difference.

But, some people pay attention. And have been paying attention for years. Sy Hersh is one. And Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution is another.

Lets travel back in time.......to:

SEPT. 29, 2002
Atlanta Journal-Constitution The President's Real Goal in Iraq - by Jay Bookman

The official story on Iraq has never made sense. The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence.

The pieces just didn't fit. Something else had to be going on; something was missing.

In recent days, those missing pieces have finally begun to fall into place. As it turns out, this is not really about Iraq. It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions.

This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.

Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?

Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran.

[SEPT. 2002] permanent U.S. military and economic domination
Part of it's laid out in the National Security Strategy, a document in which each administration outlines its approach to defending the country. The Bush administration plan, released Sept. 20, marks a significant departure from previous approaches, a change that it attributes largely to the attacks of Sept. 11.


In essence, it lays out a plan for permanent U.S. military and economic domination of every region on the globe, unfettered by international treaty or concern. And to make that plan a reality, it envisions a stark expansion of our global military presence.

"The United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia," the document warns, "as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. troops."

The report's repeated references to terrorism are misleading, however, because the approach of the new National Security Strategy was clearly not inspired by the events of Sept. 11. They can be found in much the same language in a report issued in September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, a group of conservative interventionists outraged by the thought that the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire.


To preserve the Pax Americana, the report says U.S. forces will be required to perform "constabulary duties" -- the United States acting as policeman of the world -- and says that such actions "demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations."

To meet those responsibilities, and to ensure that no country dares to challenge the United States, the report advocates a much larger military presence spread over more of the globe, in addition to the roughly 130 nations in which U.S. troops are already deployed.

[1992] - Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bush41
The 2000 report directly acknowledges its debt to a still earlier document, drafted in 1992 by the Defense Department. That document had also envisioned the United States as a colossus astride the world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through military and economic power. When leaked in final draft form, however, the proposal drew so much criticism that it was hastily withdrawn and repudiated by the first President Bush.

The defense secretary in 1992 was Richard Cheney; the document was drafted by Wolfowitz, who at the time was defense undersecretary for policy.


"We're Gary Cooper." ~ Donald Kagan (co-chairman of the 2000 New Century project)

Accepting the Cooper role would be an historic change in who we are as a nation, and in how we operate in the international arena. Candidate Bush certainly did not campaign on such a change. It is not something that he or others have dared to discuss honestly with the American people. To the contrary, in his foreign policy debate with Al Gore, Bush pointedly advocated a more humble foreign policy, a position calculated to appeal to voters leery of military intervention.

[...] Kagan, for example, willingly embraces the idea that the United States would establish permanent military bases in a post-war Iraq.

"I think that's highly possible," he says. "We will probably need a major concentration of forces in the Middle East over a long period of time. That will come at a price, but think of the price of not having it. When we have economic problems, it's been caused by disruptions in our oil supply. If we have a force in Iraq, there will be no disruption in oil supplies."


Kagan is more blunt.
"People worry a lot about how the Arab street is going to react," he notes. "Well, I see that the Arab street has gotten very, very quiet since we started blowing things up."

Yeah Kagan. You're a regular seer you are. Open a booth on a boardwalk somewhere will ya. Leave the rest of us alone.

Like other empires of the past century, the United States has chosen to live not prudently, in peace and prosperity, but as a massive military power athwart an angry, resistant globe.

There is one development that could conceivably stop this process of overreaching: the people could retake control of Congress, reform it along with the corrupted elections laws that have made it into a forum for special interests, turn it into a genuine assembly of democratic representatives, and cut off the supply of money to the Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies. We have a strong civil society that could, in theory, overcome the entrenched interests of the armed forces and the military-industrial complex. At this late date, however, it is difficult to imagine how Congress, much like the Roman senate in the last days of the republic, could be brought back to life and cleansed of its endemic corruption. Failing such a reform, Nemesis, the goddess of retribution and vengence, the punisher of pride and hubris, waits impatiently for her meeting with us.

~ Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire; 2004


Theatrum Absurdus ~ Roger Ailes steals the show! 

America votes!
Corrente Poll #001 results. Jan. 2005 - Final tally of 234 votes.

[Q] Which would you most like to see on TV in 2005?

#1- A fat naked Roger Ailes wrestling an Australian death adder: 64% [150 votes]

#2- Bay Buchanan's Abstinence Only Island (reality TV): 9% [22 votes]

#3- Ice fishing in Northern Michigan with Kate O'Beirne: 9% [21 votes]

#4- Live coverage of the Gingrich-Santorum 2008 'Get to Know Ya' booktour: 9% [20 votes]

#5- Dan Rather singing train songs and eating chili dogs: 7% [16 votes]

#6- Jack Cafferty's Big Bopper Dance Party!: 2% [5 votes]

Bay Buchanan's Abstinence Only Island came on strong in the homestretch and finished in second place while Dan Rather's train-song-sing-a-long, looking good out of the gate, slipped back into the fifth position where it eventually died to a slow agonized trot.

Not, however, as slow and agonized as Jack Cafferty's Big Bopper mixer, which, if you think about it, conjures up a repulsive array of Aqua Velva moment sponsorship possibilities. Jack did however generate five votes. Which is probably a fairly accurate reflection of the number of actual viewers who think CNN's American Morning is worth the oxygen it sucks up on any given weekday.

I was also impressed by our readers enthusiasm for the sport of ice fishing and am now convinced that Kate O'Beirne could give Hank Parker a pretty good run for his money in this regard. The Gingrich-Santorum book tour at #4 was also a strong finish but not strong enough to warrant a panic. At least not yet. Sleep with one eye open.

So congratulations to the baldhead bloater Roger Ailes for his landslide victory. Saddly, I've been unable to locate a death adder for a televised naked wrestle to the grave main event. And I even called the local Pentacostal church. Nuttin'. Not a hissin' thang. They didn't even have an old jaded milk snake lying around the place. Old time serpent handling hootenanny Christianity just ain't what it used to be. I guess.

It also seems that it is a violation of the US postal laws to ship live Australian death adders through the mail. Just one more example of despotic government regulations carving away at our freedoms. It's an OUTRAGE! American's should all fight passionately for their God-given natural law right to ship and receive poisonous snakes and bugs in the mail. And that includes fire ants! Send a box of fire ants to Dennis Hastert today. Let him know you're serious about you're animal mail rights.

Fortunately, I was able to contact a delightful Australian named Beth Adder through the despotic postal service. And guesss what?! Beth and her twin sister Margo will be appearing with Roger Ailes in a Murdoch/Charing Cross/Farmtoons production of "Flesh and the Auferstehung" at London's famous Kabarett Streifen Necken strip tease theater later this month! You are all invited to attend the premiere. Just tell the ticket guy at the door that Corrente sent you. He'll know what you mean.

The program features Prince Harry and FOXNews metrosexual male-anchor Cal Cameron (pictured at left) in cameo roles as the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor. Should be a batty bee's knees slap-up sexy beltin' good show.

What the hell, it could of been worse. You could of all wound up being subjected to an evening of Jack Cafferty doing the 'bunny-hug' with Candy Crowley.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

And I didn't even get to write about Graner taking the fall for the higherups who run the Fog Machine. Though hard time couldn't have happened to a nicer total asshole.

And the Eagles won!

Which is it:

1. The last step before a humiliating loss in the NFC Championship?

2. The next-to-the-last step before a humiliating loss in the Superbowl?

Not that Philadelphias are neurotic about championships, of course. Fuckin' chokers.

The vacuity of bipartisanship: If pigs had wings 

There's a whole lot of blather in David Hackett Fischer's Op-Ed before we get to the bottom line, but I'll include just enough to give you the flavor:

What wonderful things we could do if Republicans and Democrats could dance together like Astaire and Rogers — even if some of us would have to dance backward.

Think what we might do if we could build on the bipartisan spirit of Inauguration Day, with these models as inspirations.

Bush's deep determination to take us toward partial privatization of Social Security would be an opportunity. The first step would be think about the problem in a larger context. Most of us have been saving for our old age in different ways. Together, we have accumulated a Social Security trust fund of about $2 trillion, private pension plans totaling $4 trillion and mutual funds approaching $8 trillion. It's a big system, diverse and already more than 75% privatized and 85% personalized. Private investment accounts in Social Security could be another step forward if we could take it without heaping a heavy burden of debt...

Wouldn't it be great if pigs had wings?

... on our children and grandchildren, and without shrinking benefits to seniors who desperately need them and without wrecking other social programs in the process. We could do all that if we work together in a more flexible way without ideological rigidity and party strife.
(via LA Times)

Yes, wouldn't it be great if pigs had wings? And if only we approached the pig-flying issue in a spirit of bi-partisanship, we'd be seeing pigs taking flight everywhere!

But, as Paul Krugman shows, the math doesn't work. The numbers don't add up. If the economy performs the way tnat it must for privatization advocates to make their stock market numbers, there's no danger at all to the Social Security trust fund.

But wouldn't it be great if pigs had wings?

And wouldn't it be great all Republicans had consciences?

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