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28 February 2007

A Small Reposting

by: Minstrel Boy

Back in the very beginnings of Harp and Sword, back when it would take a couple of days for my hits to need two digits, I had a night of dreadfull insomnia. litbrit read this back then and left her own eloquent consolation (thank you darlin' ). There are times when sleeping just isn't in the cards for me. The dreams come and remain. The memories stick and refuse to leave.

I tried all the usual remedies. I tried medications (both medical prescription and self prescription) without relief. Yes, I would appear to be asleep, but really, I would be back in the brutal streets of Hue, or the harsh tangles and hills of the A Shau.

Sometimes, by steeling my resolve to enter and explore these memories and dreams I can find a measure of understanding and peace. Most of the time though, it is something that only brings pain, grief, shame, and the sad realization that there were many fine lads, much finer than me, that are now gone.

This poem isn't about combat itself. It is about the aftermath. There was a helocopter that went down in the A Shau valley. A platoon was dispatched to to site of the crash. They never returned. My unit was told to go and see what had happened. This is what we saw. Remember, this happened. Realize, this is happening now.

Understand that Bush and his minions are calling for a wider, larger, bloodier conflict, without being able to explain a single positive benefit for our nation if they are given their way.

coming to the battleground far too late
i saw bodies flung down to death
broken toys of some child god

the enemy had taken their own
we began to gather ours
moving in the silence of the place

trying to match the parts and shreds
which was not an easy thing
when they were small

the carnage was both modern and complete
and close fought like the ancients
it only takes a little while

and war becomes primitive again
the smell was something i smell tonight
it remains without words to explain

slow moves were taken
gently lifting and laying down again
the burned lads especially needed that

the time they had lain was harsh
sun and heat were at work
in the tropics rot starts now

i remember thinking
this jungle drinks our blood
and grows

that horrid day amid all that brutal death
one thing alone made me cry
a butterfly

once bright and fragile
had landed upon the ruined
face of some shot up kid

wings touched in blood
unable to fly away
it died there



I mostly these days manage to find my peace. I even believe, some days, I am deserving of it. My deepest wish, my fondest hope is that my own beloved son will never know nights of his own like mine.

harp and sword
27 February 2007

Twit Journalism and the Professor from Hell

by: Dark Wraith

Although I shall within the next several days address at length the world-wide stock market crash that occurred today, I herewith take the opportunity to briefly and succinctly deal with a news article on this matter written by CNNMoney.com senior writer Alexandra Twin. I quote the first two paragraphs below and ask readers to note carefully the very last sentence.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks slumped Tuesday on worries about economic growth at home and abroad, sending the Dow industrials to their biggest point drop since the day the market reopened after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A big decline in Chinese stocks, weakness in some key readings on the U.S. economy and news that Vice President Dick Cheney was the apparent target in a Taliban suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan all fueled the selling on Wall Street.
What follows is my very brief response, offered as it is from my position as a professor who turns without warning into a roaring bitch when journalistic stupidity passes a certain threshold.

No, the world-wide stock market crash that happened on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, had nothing whatsoever to do with a suicide bomber who killed a bunch of people in Afghanistan in a failed and futile attempt to assassinate U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney. Absolutely nothing. To ascribe a planet-wide slide of stock markets that slashed the net assessed values of claims on residual cashflow anywhere from four to nine percent to "weakness in some key readings on the U.S. economy and news that Vice President Dick Cheney was the apparent target in a Taliban suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan" is evidence that CNNMoney.com believes—or is at the very least cynically willing to offer to its readers—the utterly ridiculous: a wholly false and imaginary world of the 21st Century where the markets of tens and hundreds of billions of trades totaling trillions and trillions of dollars stand in rapt awe of a slate of transitory U.S. government statistics (some of which had not even been released when the globe-spanning crash got underway) and a trouble-making, incompetent American Vice President.

The markets of the world weren't waiting to jump off a cliff if bad inventory numbers got pumped out by the U.S. government; the markets of the world weren't waiting to claw their chests open if Dick Cheney heard a big boom; and Wednesday, quite fortunately, I can assure you that not one of my business or economics students will be so fresh as to give me an explanation like that when I ask about the forces that caused the stock markets to slide as they did on Tuesday. That's because my students, even the rank freshmen who've been in my classes only about a month, know better than to give me stupid, simplistic, vapid explanations, particularly when I come in looking like I'm ready to eat someone's head off because I've been reading poundingly corny news analysis the night before.

Sadly, my students' unwillingness to spout the ridiculous means not one of them will ever qualify to become a "senior writer" for CNNMoney.com, where news analysis is predicated, first and foremost, on thinking like a twit and then displaying the wretched product of that thinking for all the world to read.



The Dark Wraith just winces at what passes for an educated financial journalist these days.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Steve Gilliard Due for Open Heart Surgery

by: Minstrel Boy

the latest news from Jen

Si' Zi' bìyì' éd yùd di" di' is-Za'ni' tc'ìndí
'ìs' à' nà yái éd yùd 'á lzà tc' ìndí
bìyì' éd yùd híljìj 'ìs' à' nà yái tc'ìndí
yèxáidèlà gò dè yà k' è' gò józee tsá lit' tc'ìndí


I stand inside a circle of women and men, they say
Long life, in a circle is danced, they say
Inside this circle we dance life, they say
Having been prepared he walks in beauty they say

p.s. biil anch bik'eniih belangaana (fuck the fucking yankees)

indin country
26 February 2007

Damn Sting!

by: Minstrel Boy

As usual, when my mood is gloomy and dark. I stumble upon something beautifully glorious.

Great Performances on PBS had an entire hour of Sting performing on lute. Incredible stuff. I will probably even get some sleep tonight. Check your local listings, TIVO this one.



Remedial History

by: Foiled Goil

Special comment: Condi goes too far

Keith Olbermann
All of this, par for the course.
Here we go again! From springs spent trying to link Saddam Hussein to 9/11, to summers of cynically manipulated intelligence, through autumns of false patriotism, to winters of war, we have had more than four years of every cheap trick and every degree of calculated cynicism from this administration, filled with Three-Card Monte players.

But the longer Dr. Rice and these other pickpockets of a nation's goodness have walked among us, waving flags and slandering opponents and making true enemies — foreign and domestic — all hat and no cattle all the while, the overriding truth of their occupancy of our highest offices of state has only gradually become clear.

As they asked in that Avis commercial: "Ever get the feeling some people just stopped trying?"
But Secretary of State Rice may have now taken the cake. On the Sunday morning interview show "Of Broken Record" on Fox, Dr. Rice spoke a paragraph, which if it had been included in a remedial history paper at the weakest high school in the nation would've gotten the writer an "F" — maybe an expulsion.

If Congress were now to revise the Iraq authorization, she said, out loud, with an adult present: "… it would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change, then, the resolution that allowed the United States to do that, so that we could deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown."
But, Secretary Rice, overthrowing Saddam Hussein was akin to overthrowing Adolf Hitler? Are you kidding? Did you want to provoke the world's laughter?
Your predecessors, Dr. Rice, didn't spend a year making up phony evidence and mistaking German balloon-inflating trucks for mobile germ warfare labs. They didn't pretend the world was ending because a tin-pot tyrant couldn't hand over the chemical weapons it turned out he'd destroyed a decade earlier. The Germans walked up to the front door of our State Department and said, "We're at war." It was in all the papers. And when that war ended, more than three horrible years later, our troops and the Russians were in Berlin. And we stayed, as an occupying force, well into the 1950s. As an occupying force, Madam Secretary!

If you want to compare what we did to Hitler and in Germany to what we did to Saddam and in Iraq, I'm afraid you're going to have to buy the whole analogy. We were an occupying force in Germany, Dr. Rice, and by your logic, we're now an occupying force in Iraq. And if that's the way you see it, you damn well better come out and tell the American people so. Save your breath telling it to the Iraqis — most of them already buy that part of the comparison.
"It would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change then, the resolution that allowed the United States to do that, so that we could deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown."
Oh, good grief, Secretary Rice, that's exactly what we did do! We went back to Congress to deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after Hitler was overthrown! It was called the Marshall Plan.

Marshall!

Gen. George Catlett Marshall!

Secretary of state!

The job you have now!

C'mon!
This administration has long thought otherwise, but you can't cherry-pick life — whether life in 2007, or life in the history page marked 1945. You can't keep the facts that fit your prejudices and throw out the ones that destroy your theories. And if you're going to try to do that; if you still want to fool some people into thinking that Saddam was Hitler, and once we gave FDR that blank check in Germany he was no longer subject to the laws of Congress or gravity or physics, at least stop humiliating us.

Get your facts straight. Use the Google!

You've been on Fox News Sunday, Secretary Rice. The Fox network has got another show premiering Tuesday night. You could go on that one, too. It might be a better fit. It's called "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?"


Interpersonal Issues

by: blackdog

Just listened to a good piece on NPR about the State of Virginia apologizing for it's role in the slave economy of it's early history. An interesting state of affairs considering the inability of this nation as it exists now to apologize about anything, whether it's needed or not.

But what really struck me was the viciousness of the responses to the piece on the phone. Just the other day Shakes' Sister made a great point about how Mitt Romney should NOT be held responsible for what his ancestors did, for whatever reason. Then we hear the screach of how Senator Al Sharpton's ancestors may have been, and I repeat may have been owned as property by Senator Strom Thruman's ancestors, you can bet they were owned by someone, as if that matters much now and how he is demanding some damned DNA test to validate this.I suggest a statute of limitations, and valium for those that are so damned surprised by what I already know. I wish not to be held responsible for what any of my ancestors did, regardless.

Well, to all I suggest get used to it, and expand your damned experience. It wasen't so damned long ago that slavery was the rule, not the exception. The NPR program was littered with people calling for more than an apology, some saying that that was enough, but the ones calling for reperations were more than just somewhat pissed.

Some of the more rational callers were trying to remind the listening audience that the ones we, or the State of Virginia were apologizing to had been dead for a long time. And some were attempting to remind the audience that all races had participated in the slave trade during the settlement of the New World by the Old. But that simply was not good enough for some.

I think that the failure is not that we don't all jump off the apologize diveboard, but that we make the laws of the land more effective, and I specifically refer to the Civil Rights Act. Then make it imperative that the implications of this historic act and the history of it's background be taught in civics classes, maybe by some of the more impassioned ones who are complaining now about what they perceive as a lack of attention on this issue today. But they should never forget, not one of them that slavery was at one time the norm, not the exception. Also, if you owned property, only a damned fool would abuse said property. There are exceptions, as there are with spousal and child abuse, but those are exceptions, as are the exceptions of individual abuse of their property to their loss.

I am not defending slavery, I believe it to be abhorrant. But today we have a much different type of a form of slavery based on socioeconomics, and until the laws as they exist, ot used to can be enforced over the entire nation we will always have this situation and therefore this argument. I challange anyone to check into their background and not find that their ancestors were NOT at some time or other held as slaves. I am a mix of German, Brit and Scot, and I promise that sometime a long time ago most of us were all in Rome, and most likely not citizens, although that may have been an option for some.

I really don't feel that I need to tell this crowd about something I feel sure knows alot more than I about this, but this piece on the radio set me off. We have failed in educating our people to the facts and truth of history, and mostly on our great attempts to repair damages through constitutional efforts, only to fail the test of time. Bigotry comes roaring right back, and for that I do apologize. But I didn't start it. I just fall victim to it.
25 February 2007

{N-word}, Please!

by: Konagod

I've always been fascinated with words and languages in general. When I was taking a German class in college I mistakenly substituted the German word for cocksucker in place of vacuum cleaner in a sentence I was using. I never would have known the difference had the instructor not enlightened me. The experience taught me one thing: there's far too much emphasis put on words being "bad" vs. words used with bad intent.

Just because I, and probably most people, would never use the word "cocksucker" in front of my mother, or at a church potluck, I would never support any attempts to ban the use of that word, or any other. Faggot included.

Now there are other words with double meanings and I really love those: pussy, cock, dick and ass immediately spring to mind.

I belong to the George Carlin school of semantics when it comes to words. They're just words: a combination of letters, and when spoken they are just sounds. Many words sound unpleasant to some people. My mother never cared for the word funk. Not that it's a "bad" word (although it's just one consonant away), she just doesn't like the way it sounds, and therefore she never uses it, despite the fact that very few other people would find it offensive. Such was never the case with the word nigger.

To be honest, my parents didn't use the word that often. I heard it far more frequently elsewhere. But I did hear it in my home on many occasions. For a good portion of my childhood, I honestly thought that was the proper term used for black people. I don't remember when I first heard someone correctly pronounce negro, but it was long after I had grown accustomed to the sloppier rendering.

What is far more interesting to me is how I absorbed the intention behind the word. It was hardly ever uttered casually in polite conversation. There was always an underlying anger embedded in the use of it. And that's what made me uncomfortable rather than the word itself.

Racism can be masked behind any words, or no words at all. Imagine a white woman saying, "I used to feel really safe in this neighborhood until that black family moved in next door."

That is offensive and blatantly racist. And still quite common. And she didn't even use the n-word. She didn't have to; the intent is what I find objectionable.

I have used the word, or variations of it, usually in a music context (like when I'm drunk on tequila and listening to N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton cd, but that's another story) and intended as a mockery of something my father said to me over 30 years ago regarding my music preferences. I'm verbally rubbing his nose in the fact that these black folks, to whom the word was so often addressed, have my utmost respect for their struggles and accomplishments. The stark contrast of a word which has been used for decades by racists who believe black people are inferior serves as a shocking reminder to me when used in the context of expressing my love for black musicians who were the inspiration for virtually all popular music today.

And I still get bitterly angry when I am reminded that some early black singers and musicians were not allowed to sleep or dine in many of the hotels or other establishments where they entertained.

This is a rather long-winded post leading up to a NY Times story today about efforts to ban the "n-word."

The New York City Council may vote on such a proposal by Wednesday; Paterson, N.J., and Westchester County recently approved bans unanimously.

The measures, which describe the forbidden word as an “ignorant and derogatory” insult toward blacks, try to sidestep First Amendment questions by calling for “symbolic” bans only, meaning they do not have the force of law. Because they are largely aimed at blacks who use the word among themselves, the proposals have revived a debate over whether minority groups can co-opt epithets and make them empowering.

Empowerment is something you feel; it's in your head. Derogatory insults are a malicious intention. Words are merely the transportation system. And what the hell does a "symbolic" ban accomplish? Why not just pass a "symbolic" ban on all derogatory insults and leave the words alone?

“There is a swelling population of black youth that use this word as if it is a term of endearment,” said Andrea C. McElroy, a black councilwoman who sponsored a ban on the racial epithet in Irvington, N.J., that was passed this month.

Umm, did she ever consider the possibility that it is a term of endearment in the manner in which it's being used by the individuals using it? She doesn't have to like it or use it. And I would certainly never criticize her decision to refrain from using it, or for despising it. There are millions of people who have been hurt by racism -- many of them physically, and many have been killed. The n-word has certainly been utilized in most of those situations. But words don't kill.

The sponsors of the bans on the epithet say that education is precisely their mission. Clinton I. Young Jr., who is black and who introduced the measure that passed in Westchester, said the legislation he drafted was meant to raise awareness about the painful history of the word.

He and other legislators said their goal was to create more programs like the one in Mr. Young’s district at Ossining High School. That program, called Project Earthquake, exposes black students to the origins of the word through lectures and documentaries, challenges them not to use it, and encourages them to dress professionally for class.

Dress "professionally" for class? In a high school? What does that mean exactly? Wearing the attire which evolved from their white oppressors? {n-word} please! Get a grip on yourself.

It's sad really that in the 21st century a word can still cause so many adverse reactions. And it's more disturbing to see all this energy directed towards banning a word when clearly there are serious race issues which still exist in America. Yes, let's educate our youth (and adults alike). Let's try and understand why white flight is still common, and why whites might be more likely to get a better deal on a loan. And where's the outrage over suppression of the black vote? What about the shameful lopsided rate of black incarceration in our fucked-up prison system?

Banning the n-word isn't going to accomplish a damn thing when it comes to solving real issues.

For those of you offended by the n-word, you might want to skip this Dave Chappelle clip. It is one of the funniest skits I've ever seen and there's no way I'd do a post this long and difficult, on this subject matter, without using it:



I'll leave you with a memorable quote from a 1969 episode of Star Trek, The Savage Curtain:

Abraham Lincoln: What a charming Negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.

Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words.



Crossposted from konagod

What My Head Was Saying At the Funeral

by: Minstrel Boy

I did my duty as a musician and a neighbor. We buried the young man yesterday. I kept my thoughts and my opinions to myself. I played the songs his family asked me to play. Nothing unusual. The regular hymns and stuff. The family wants to believe he's walking with Jesus in glory above. Fine with me.

The honor guard was there at the grave. American legion guys. I took my new bagpipes and managed to play "Amazing Grace" and "Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier."

I passed on the reception afterward. I wasn't in any kind of place to be sociable. During the service my head was wanting to shout:

How many more? Give me a number of dead that will satisfy you. How many more?


I hear no answers. I was up very early this morning to ride out in the desert alone. I saw the sun come up over the mountains I grew up in.

I'm. Just. Tired. Of. It. All.

When you come from a small town and a kid gets killed it hurts a little more I guess. The total enrollment of our high school is smaller than the class size of the high schools in California. Hell, we've only been playing 11 man football for the last six years. Every one of these kids (there have been four from my little bitty town) is a kid I have known. Not well, except for one who dated one of my daughters, but we know each other out here. We trade fruit for pies and jam, milk for yoghurt, we watch out for each other and for each other's kids.

Yesterday wasn't about politics, it was about family and neighbors. There is one more kid in the ground. I didn't open my mouth yesterday. It wouldn't have accomplished anything but make my neighbors feel bad.

All night though, I heard

How. Many. More?


Harp and Sword

Random Thoughts

by: Debra

Heaven forbid that we should discuss something of substance instead of rehashing ten year old drama. This probably hasn't occurred to those whose whole life revolves around the 2008 elections, but most Americans have heard quite enough about the former President's personal life. If anything, that period showed what a classy woman Hillary is and the restraint she showed under the most trying of circumstances. If it had been me, the fact that he was President wouldn't have stopped me from exacting some type of painful and likely life altering revenge for embarrassing me in front of the whole world. But she didn't. As much as she isn't my favorite candidate, she has proved that she exhibits grace under pressure. Her husband's mistakes are his, she upheld fine Christian values by standing by her man. Isn't that what a good wife is supposed to do?

So, we aren't planning to go war with Iran. Somehow that doesn't give me comfort since the crew without a clue never plans anything. They skulk and they meddle, then they scurry back into their warrens until the next time they feel the need to destroy another country and Seymour Hersh has very informative article on that very subject. I've been a little confused by which sect belongs to the bad guys. It seems the bad guys are mostly Sunnis, but we aren't "planning" to go to war with the Shiites.

Sunni = Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Palestinians, Syria, Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, insurgents attacking US troops

Shiite = Hezbollah, Bahrain, Moqtada al-Sadr, Nuri al-Maliki, Iran, a majority of Iraq and Lebanon, the militias trying to help us keep order in the current debacle
And we are rattling our sabers at who? Oh yeah, Iran. That makes sense. To someone, somewhere, but it isn't me. So, like everything else with this administration, there has to be a hidden agenda.
Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that “there is nothing coincidental or ironic” about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. “The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when—if you look at the actual casualty numbers—the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,” Leverett said. “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”
Nope, we aren't planning at all.
Still, the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.

In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change.

Two carrier strike groups—the Eisenhower and the Stennis—are now in the Arabian Sea. One plan is for them to be relieved early in the spring, but there is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources. (Among other concerns, war games have shown that the carriers could be vulnerable to swarming tactics involving large numbers of small boats, a technique that the Iranians have practiced in the past; carriers have limited maneuverability in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, off Iran’s southern coast.) The former senior intelligence official said that the current contingency plans allow for an attack order this spring. He added, however, that senior officers on the Joint Chiefs were counting on the White House’s not being “foolish enough to do this in the face of Iraq, and the problems it would give the Republicans in 2008.”
Sigh. The crew without a clue has to depend on the Air Force and the Navy, because the Army, Marines, National Guard and Reserves are tapped out. But since it's about the oil, we press on.
The split between Shiites and Sunnis goes back to a bitter divide, in the seventh century, over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis dominated the medieval caliphate and the Ottoman Empire, and Shiites, traditionally, have been regarded more as outsiders. Worldwide, ninety per cent of Muslims are Sunni, but Shiites are a majority in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain, and are the largest Muslim group in Lebanon. Their concentration in a volatile, oil-rich region has led to concern in the West and among Sunnis about the emergence of a “Shiite crescent”—especially given Iran’s increased geopolitical weight.
Just think. If we had spent half the money on alternative methods, we wouldn't be dependent and our troops wouldn't be dying in a war that has no benefit to the majority of Americans.

Debsweb
24 February 2007

Much Harm, No Foul

by: Debra

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble doesn't begin to cover the stupidity of not accomplishing the biggest promise of Bush's career. From dead or alive to
"So we get him, and then what?" asked Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the outgoing Army chief of staff, at a Rotary Club of Fort Worth luncheon. "There's a temporary feeling of goodness, but in the long run, we may make him bigger than he is today.

"He's hiding, and he knows we're looking for him. We know he's not particularly effective. I'm not sure there's that great of a return" on capturing or killing bin Laden.
You aren't sure that there's that great of a return on capturing the man who was supposedly responsible for every excuse the administration uses to destroy the Constitution, declare the Bill of Rights null and void, to remove habeas corpus and causes Americans to panic at the least little thing? Exactly what kind of return do you want? What about justice?

The crew without a clue wants the death penalty for just about everything, except for the most heinous mass murderer this country has experienced. To date. If you don't believe me, you and your friends go out and knock over a grocery store, the security guard shoots at you, one of your companions fires back and kills him and an innocent bystander with a gun you didn't know he had. The police chase you down and you have a little pot on you. Oh, and you're black. Goodbye world.

Much better to have people commandeer some airplanes, fly them into a couple of buildings which causes a massive loss of life and causes the whole country to throw common sense to the wind, laugh about it for the next six years and then find out you aren't much of a priority.

And yes, I know that there will be others to take his place, goodness knows we have given them enough incenctive, but that isn't the point. Timothy McVeigh was prosecuted and executed with less evidence and definitely less loss of life by those entrusted to hunting him down.

What kind of incentive do you think it will be for the terrorists to know that they can get away with murder? The mass kind. Sounds like they might ratchet up the revenge, and why not, since there isn't a penalty.

Debsweb

The locusts shall not prevail.

by: Dark Wraith

Several weeks ago, two bloggers who had been hired by the John Edwards for President campaign became the target of criticism by Bill Donohue, the leader of a religious organization called the Catholic League. One of those two bloggers is Melissa McEwan, who uses the pen name Shakespeare's Sister on her blog of the same name. Ms. McEwan is a friend of mine. We became acquainted because we were both commenters at AMERICAblog, and we ultimately began our own work as Weblog publishers and writers at about the same time. Ms. McEwan, in fact, reached out to find me after we had stopped commenting at AMERICAblog: she wanted me to know about her new blog, and she wanted to know what I was doing. It was through her generous effort, then, that we became reunited in our separate but mutual efforts to speak out against the Bush Administration, the religious zealots, the neo-conservatives, and all the others who have made this century open in such a grim and awful way.

In Mr. Donohue's inflammatory press release condemning the two women Mr. Edwards had hired, he declared that the Edwards campaign "has no choice but to fire them immediately." His press release and subsequent comments deriding Ms. McEwan gave members of his organization (and perhaps others sympathetic to his concerns) what they perceived as license to flood her with e-mail, some of which was violently threatening, hateful, menacing, and altogether unworthy of anyone who would pose to speak on behalf of an organization affiliated with any Christian church committed to the New Covenant. Whether or not Mr. Donohue accepts responsibility for the cyber-violence his condemnation of her brought about, he was not merely the catalyst; he was the instigator.

The much-touted constitutional protection of citizen speech is a right to the extent that the Constitution does not recognize the government's role in restricting it. This leaves to the federal legislature, the several states, the civil society, and the courts such responsibility as necessarily exists for defining the distinction between speech and conduct and the setting forth the boundaries where speech becomes actionable under civil and/or criminal law. Speech that is an incitement to riot is not without sanction because it interferes with the compelling interest of the government in maintaining civil order; speech that endangers others in demonstrable ways is subject to scrutiny because of the compelling interest of the government in protecting its citizens. Where the line is drawn is always a matter of controversy, and that line shifts over time as new dimensions of speech and innovative experiments in existing modes of communication arise.

Mr. Donohue cannot simply declare that his was protected speech: demonstrably, it led at a minimum to civil assault upon Ms. McEwan, this being the case because "assault" involves a reasonable belief on the part of the victim that she is in imminent, personal danger. Mr. Donohue had created a sense in his followers that theirs was a threatened—indeed, persecuted—lot and, because of the perilous condition of their right to worship as they wished, they would consequentially have not merely the option of reactive violence to perceived threats, but compelling religious duty to react as necessary to protect their religion.

I shall not leave to the likes of men like Mr. Donohue their sentiment that they may continue to terrorize those whose voices are strongly contrary to their own. As a matter of fact and evidence, he was the proximate initiator of events that led to cyber-violence. Whether or not he believes that his god will reward him for what he loosed upon Ms. McEwan and the other blogger by describing them as "trash-talking bigots," responsible agents of the civil society must take notice and respond within the bounds of law and efficacy; and ultimately, that civil society, through its responsible, concerned agents, must compel both statutory and common law to address those who would use the Internet to incite individuals to become a menacing mob.

As an important note with regard to the above, I have found no instance of an official statement by the Catholic League condemning the threatening e-mail messages received by Ms. McEwan. Neither have I found an official statement by that organization ordering its member to cease such activities. Indeed, I have found no spoken or written evidence that any official of the League took advantage of what was happening to counsel the membership on rightful action in accordance with Christian teachings. Should such firm, resolute, and forceful efforts to stop the mob violence have been widely promulgated, I shall amend this article to include praise of that work.

Cyber-attacks come in many forms. Some, like distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and spambot slams, are highly technical and seemingly impersonal, although some of them are not nearly as random as might first appear. My servers have labored occasionally under these types of assaults. The cyber-attack on Ms. McEwan was far more obviously personal and infinitely more frightening; but it was, at its essence, the very same type of strategy with a very similar objective: swarm and silence the target.

Mr. Donohue's followers who went after Ms. McEwan were extraordinary in their numbers. In that way, they were just like the multiple sources in a distributed denial of service attack; and similarly, their objective was to drive Ms. McEwan from a position of visibility and influence.

In the end, they succeeded, but only nominally: Ms. McEwan's voice lives on as Shakespeare's Sister; and, if anything, Mr. Donohue has made her influence greater if unofficial. She need no longer concern herself with parsing her language to meet the needs of John Edwards as he fashions himself a respectable candidate who is "personally offended" by what he otherwise should have tolerated were he to really want strong, feminist thinking within his inner circle of advisers and assistants.

For my own part, I am relieved that I no longer have to consider mincing words about John Edwards, who thinks he is centering himself politically even as he panders to interests in ways that I find altogether troubling. While I most likely would not have held my criticism of Mr. Edwards even if Ms. McEwan had continued to serve as a technical adviser to his campaign, I now no longer have to worry about whether or not she would take flak for continuing to associate with me as I escalated my own critical rhetoric.

Distributed denial of service cyber-attackers and the vitriolic e-mail attackers are of the same breed: They are locusts. Stopping one of them does no good; stopping a dozen or a hundred of them is useless; stopping a thousand of them is trivial. They just keep coming and coming. It is not in their individual actions that they do their damage, but rather in their collective menace, their smothering erosion, that they cause their great harm.

They swarm, and in the time of their swarming, the victim believes that the onslaught will never end absent his or her full-scale retreat.

Long before I came to be a writer here in this venue, I wrote on message boards. My words were far harsher than they are in this time of my life. When finally the time came that I had offended several who could call the locusts down upon me, I backed down and completely disappeared from the Internet. There was nothing else I could do. More importantly from a personal perspective, I had the ungodly, awful, penetrating sense that the attacks upon me would never end and that, sooner or later, one or more of those violent people writing to me and about me were going to find me and kill me. At one point, I wished that it would happen just so the dread of waiting would be at its end. Every light shining in my window at night was the end coming; every time the phone rang, it might be one of the maniacs; every car that followed me for too long on a darkened road was the end about to happen.

Was all of this my own, personal, delusional paranoia? In fact, I was followed late at night on several nights; property of mine was destroyed; and other, much worse things that I shall not share were visited upon me. I literally, honestly wanted to be at the end of myself as a living person. I had been humiliated, I had been wrecked. Most tellingly, all the moral support, all the kind and generous words I received, meant nothing.

And, of course, I was silenced.

The locusts swarmed; and thereby, those who had summoned them won.

Never again, though.

Let me make it entirely clear that, while I can take care of myself—I have made it one of my principal life endeavors—to ensure my ability to strike back destructively against cyber-attackers, this is not what other potential victims should have to do. Progressive bloggers, both individually and collectively, should not have to live with an intimidating sense that they might be targeted, attacked, and wrecked by Right-wing secular and religious zealots. Extremists are an expanding ball of fire that just keeps right on billowing with every drop of blood they draw. Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Bill Donohue, and dozens of other significant and minor invokers of the swarm thrive on their minions who pay them to spew hate and who would gleefully leap into the air to join a swarm against some defenseless victim.

Countervailance against the swarm is not within the scope of most individual bloggers. It must be more than a group effort; it must, in fact, be an official effort of a scope, funding, and gravity commensurate with the threat the Right-wing zealots pose to civil society.

That means those who would benefit from our progressive voices, Democrats and moderate Republicans alike, must take responsibility for ensuring that the netroots, which will become more and more important to them as time goes by, can function without fear of cyber-attacks.

Chet Scoville of Vanity Press recently published a post, cross-posted at Big Brass Blog, in which he cited an article by Jeffrey Feldman advocating the formation by the Democratic National Committee of a full-fledged task group dedicated to "...protecting Democratic candidates... from the cancer of organized Republican smear." Specific responsibilities of the task group are laid out, including "Republican smear campaign forecasts; Status of ongoing (smear) campaigns; Framing and Keyword analysis; Background research (presumably on known and suspected smear instigators); Strategy and tactic suggestions; Internet activist reports..."

Mr. Scoville adds to Mr. Feldman's fine list the importance of every Democratic campaign having its own version of this task group. This is important because the work of the national group would have to be articulated and augmented by any particular candidate to operationalize meaningful action and response to smear campaigns. Invoking the model and terminology of Robert Altemeyer (recently discussed by Minstrel Boy of Harp and Sword), who has extensively researched what he calls "Right-wing Authoritarians" and "Social-Dominance Oriented" individuals, I commented on Mr. Scoville's article in part as follows:
The Southern Poverty Law Center offers the model for cataloguing, monitoring, and tracking hate groups. What is being proposed in your article seems at first blush far more ambitious, if only because the source of these hate attacks appears more ubiquitous. Actually, it is not: the so-called "Right-Wing Authoritarian Followers" comprise maybe about a quarter of the population of this country, but the overwhelming majority of them are dormant unless harangued into action.

We have seen this before: huge numbers of RWA-F lie dormant until a Social Dominance-Oriented/Right-Wing Authoritarian (SDO/RWA) "double high" (as such a person is called in the literature) draws them to action. In historical terms, we saw this with a certain group of evangelicals who were brought to bear by Jerry Falwell; we saw it with Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum (with the Equal Rights Amendment); and we saw it again several times in the '90s, and one last time quite starkly with the thugs who laid siege to the facilities where Florida election officials were trying to commence a recount of the 2000 Presidential Election votes.

The RWA Followers are not dangerous unless and until they are bid to action by a small core of leader types, generally either financially well-off, themselves (as with Melton Scaif), or capable of generating large amounts of money (as with Pat Robertson, Sun Myung Moon, and Paul Weyrich).

As far as mitigating their influence is concerned, to some extent, it is a matter of open exposure. The RWA Followers are actually rather immune to public humiliation, but some (not all, but some) of the SDOs that set them in motion are fairly sensitive to the limelight, especially when it turns against them and they cannot cloister themselves against awareness of it.

To the extent that wide-ranging exposure of their action is not enough to slow them down, though, the next step is to move against them in the courts. This includes suits alleging torts, particularly torts of interference with business relationships. It also includes suits alleging defamation. Finally, it also includes an all-out effort to bring civil RICO charges to bear on them and their lieutenants.

To this last point, there will come a time when we must clarify in our own minds that this isn't "just politics"; this is, instead, an organized criminal enterprise that has spanned well more than a decade and used hundreds of millions of dollars to the purpose not of benefiting the democratic experience of these United States, but instead of interfering with and degrading it.
However, that comment having been made, this work, as important as it is, cannot be the extent of dealing with those who would cause the violence Ms. McEwan suffered. It really doesn't even address what can happen to progressive bloggers unless the umbrella of protection extends past the candidates, themselves, and reaches deep into the progressive Blogosphere.

In fact, an official task group at the national level cannot succeed unless that task group uses as one of its primary resources the bloggers who could very well be at the shock front of any smear campaign. We are the ones who see the ebbs and flows of trolls; we are the ones who get the e-mails that we actually open and read; we are the ones who look at our hit counters for nuances of increased traffic; we are the ones who read the details of our incoming visitor traffic reports, meaning we can often see the source that has referenced trolls to our sites.

And, as time goes on, it is we the progressive bloggers who will know far better than candidates and their suit-and-tie type of technical advisers the terrain here in cyberspace. It is we who will know the lay of the land and the threat level presented by trolls and other harsh commenters. It is we who will take the messages of presidential candidates and echo them across the electronic world. Unlike the mainstream media, which for the most part uses the Internet as an after-market publication platform, we bloggers are often the wells from which arise into the electronic information stream the character and quality of candidates through what they are saying that the mainstream media might very well be trivializing or even ignoring.

But it goes beyond merely "tracking" Right-wing smear campaign organizers. Unless and until the necessary resources are brought to bear in law enforcement actions by those who know how to use such instrumentalities, the Right will just keep on calling the swarms.

That means the DNC or whoever would form a full-blown task group has to deal with men like Mr. Donohue by filing complaints with the IRS for the violation by the Catholic League of prohibitions on issue advocacy by 501(c)(3) groups. That means aggregating threatening e-mail messages on behalf of targeted bloggers and moving that menacing literature to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That means having attorneys who can issue letters to the smear campaign organizers laying the blame at their feet and demanding that they issue public statements ordering their followers to stop. That means, when those smear campaign initiators smirk and say there's nothing they can do about it, hauling them into civil court and hammering away at them until they get tired of the litigation pain and learn how to control themselves when they write and speak. That means fighting back as a concerted, sustained, unrelenting, opposing force.

That's how you stop the locusts.

If the Democratic National Committee and the candidates haven't the interest to provide for our protection under some national task force dedicated to dealing with smear campaigns, then the DNC and the Democratic candidates have done themselves every bit as much harm as they have allowed to happen to us. And if the Democratic Party and those candidates believe they can come to us thinking we'll hand them free air time, they simply must understand that we will accommodate them only to the extent that they grasp our significance to the world of tomorrow. If they cannot bring themselves to stand up for us, they should not be surprised when we deploy our own net of defenses and then ask them, "Where exactly were you when the locusts came to pick us off one by one?"

Likely, the Democratic National Committee will protect itself, and each of the major Democratic candidates will protect himself or herself. Those candidates will still come to us, hat in hand, expecting us to speak favorably of them and use our valuable resources to their own political gain. In that event, they will find this: learning how to survive in a world of hate—be it on the violent streets of urban America or in the streams of cyber-violence in the online world—means learning how to grow up strong, mean, and unforgiving, especially of cowards who could have helped but would rather stand in the bright sunlight waving to the adoring crowds of sheep.

Whatever choices are made by others, though, one thing is certain for us, the progressive bloggers out here in the field.

The locusts shall not prevail.




The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums
23 February 2007

Big Brass Blog Poll: The Fate of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby

by: Dark Wraith

Scooter Libby at Home

What will happen to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby?

  — Poll results —

Sci-Fri: Chimps Making Weapons

by: Foiled Goil

For First Time, Chimps Seen Making Weapons for Hunting

By Rick Weiss
Chimpanzees living in the West African savannah have been observed fashioning deadly spears from sticks and using the tools to hunt small mammals -- the first routine production of deadly weapons ever observed in animals other than humans.

The multistep spearmaking practice, documented by researchers in Senegal who spent years gaining the chimpanzees' trust, adds credence to the idea that human forebears fashioned similar tools millions of years ago.

The landmark observation also supports the long-debated proposition that females -- the main makers and users of spears among the Senegalese chimps -- tend to be the innovators and creative problem solvers in primate culture.
Science Friday: You Are Not That Special

by Devilstower

"Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people." ~Carl Sagan
Plato, searching for a succinct definition, once deemed man the only "featherless biped." On hearing this, Diogenes promptly presented his fellow philosopher with a plucked chicken.

It's funny to picture the great thinker being the butt of such a joke, but the problem he was trying to solve -- how to separate man from the animals -- is a tough one. Long before, and ever after, people have been trying to draw that line. Animals are like this. Man is like that. Unfortunately, every line in the sand, whether built on precepts of physical differences or mental distinction, only becomes more smudged over time.
Your species is not that special. Reading the text of paleontology and history, there is no bold message of certainty. Winding back the clock reveals no inexorable march in our direction, or even the triumph of "better" over "worse." Let the clock come forward again, and we would not be here -- not in a million, million tries. Likewise, human history has been defined as much by fortuitous placement of natural resources as it has been by human action. You're the tail end of the tail end of a process that much more closely resembles random chance than progress toward an objective.
We are not just insignificantly small items living in a vast ocean of space; we're living in a moment so brief that it's barely a single tick of a clock that's already run through millennia without us, and will not pause when we are gone.

No, you are not that special. And yet, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable. Your species is a wonder, gifted with physical and mental resources that provide boundless opportunity. Your planet is a wonder, swarming with life in infinite variety and complexity. Your universe is a wonder, based on laws so precisely balanced that the slightest variation in any of them might have caused everything -- space, time, and everything that moves through both -- to never have appeared.
Our instinct is always toward tribalism, toward drawing lines between human and animal, manmade and natural, us and them. However, these lines don't exist outside our own minds. You can't draw a line between humans and animals because humans are animals, not less than the smallest ant or the largest whale.

But what if you start to erase those lines? Or what if you can sketch that line around other people, so that you don't chase down every personal desire without considering how it affects others? What if you sketch that line to include the whole planet, so that you act in ways that help not just yourself, but your fellow humans (and fellow non-humans)? Do that, and you're making real progress. In fact, some might even call you progressive.

And in my book, that makes you pretty darn special.
ON HUMANS AND ANIMALS:
"We must stop pretending we're something we are not. Somewhere between romantic, uncritical anthropomorphizing of the animals and an anxious, obdurate refusal to recognize our kinship with them - the latter made tellingly clear in the still-widespread notion of 'special' creation - there is a broad middle ground on which we humans can take our stand." ~Carl Sagan, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" p. 413

faith, justice, and the republic of letters

by: astraea

links:

http://www.impeach07.org/

THE PEOPLE V. RICHARD CHENEY http://men.style.com/gq/features/full?id=content_5402




comments:

Suzanne:
Unfortunately, we don't even have two thirds of the senate willing to debate the troop surge so we're a long way from impeachment....The Dems have the senate by one vote and Joe Lieberman isthreatening to become a repub.....that would be the end of a lot of things.....the powers that be remain very much in power....for now


Deb:

All true. But impeachment can come anytime. They don't have to be in office. Someday -- justice.

What's sick in America has been sick for a long time. Reagan was like a carbuncle: things came to head. Think of the Brits and Imperialism, corrupt Church rule, the Rome that never died. George Will (wasn't it?) saying workers are commodity, as if they grow on trees, living on air, born merely to be enslaved. All of this is totally out of line with nature, and as such, cannot endure.

We're sentient beings. That is our nature. Mind control, the M.O. that allows one small group to own all others is a perversion.

How to wake up in a culture so ruled by the media, by a golden-calf religion -- by corporations?

As Bush is playing for the Saudi team to keep oil cheap and running by stealing the Iraqi reserves (see: booty call: Leaked Iraqi Oil Law), it's -- all as they say -- a thinking from a time that's passing. No one can tell the people that global warming isn't real. They know it's real. In response, smart folks will abandon oil and start buying lithium processors, finding ways to make batteries, all the alternatives that exist now or have been in the wings or yet to come, things that oil via Reagan ideology worked to repress.

Think: just *that image* of Reagan taking down the solar panels on the White House does more to end the American Godfathergood than any words can touch or even imagine.

Remember the 51st %, the lone deer in the herd that turns the right way at the needed moment, with every deer in the herd feeling it, and following; following not to follow, but because it's understood as the needed solution.

All the best laid plans. I watched the Robert McNamara interview, part of the bonus material on the DVD release of Dr. Strangelove, http://www.netflix.com/MovieDisplay?movieid=70014446&trkid=189530&strkid=1854500489_0_0 , and he's talking about the Cold War, and how close we so often were to annihilation, and how mad Bush and his policy to unwrite us from the anti-nuke treaties have been. Again, this lack of imagination by Bush, the last-hurrah leader of a dying regime. The world will call us on this one.

Monbiot just wrote an essay on the foolishness of the 911 Truth Movement http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/02/20/bayoneting-a-scarecrow , how we're wasting time and losing direction with conspiracies that no one can really do anything about. But think --- how many people have watched the documentaries on the web via this movement. And what stands out, stays with you? The media and the way it mounted and created movement. The way we were manipulated. (War is the baby-eater http://themoonsfavors.blogspot.com/2007/01/war-is-baby-eater.html ) . ARE manipulated. This is something we have to see to become healthy sentient beings again. And we're seeing it. FOX news is working to self-immolate, as Colbert and Stewart pull back the curtain on the mindset / control that's poisoning a whole world.

I think manipulation is infecting, making inroads, on the internet, sadly, in the movement towards personalities, "brand name" bloggers, the movement to 'vote' things legitimate and wise by merely graphing a site's traffic. Things that can be used to manipulate, to tip balance. The Republic of Letters works to resist this. The importance of net neutrality is to allow the internet to act as the phenomenon in the collective that knows when it's time to head to the new watering hole; that lets us feel the individual energy of one another enough to know to find shelter, which shelter. When the storm is upon us. When we're being led.



...the individual as the only carrier of life and existence is of paramount importance. He cannot be substituted by a group or by a mass. Yet we are rapidly approaching a state in which nobody will accept individual responsibility any more. We prefer to leave it as an odious business to groups and organizations, blissfully unconscious of the fact that the group or mass psyche is that of an animal and wholly inhuman. What we need is the development of the inner spiritual man, the unique individual whose treasure is hidden on the one hand in the symbols of our mythological tradition, and on the other hand in man's unconscious psyche. ~CGJUNG
22 February 2007

Forward To The Past

by: Foiled Goil

Iraq War: What Did Bush and Cheney Know?

(The court case NOT extensively covered on MSM.)

"It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime." ~Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Betsy L. Angert at Daily Kos has a good diary up that offers much to consider on the Republic Party’s selective memory, war profiteering and neoconservative double-talk... with lots of links. It is worth your taking the time to take a look.
Questions referring to Weapons of Mass Destruction permeated the periodicals again today. Lewis [Scooter] Libby, the former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney is on trial. The question is did he leak the identity of Central Intelligence Agency agent, Valerie Plame? If so, was he told to do so by the Administration? Was this White House planning a war regardless of the evidence?
You, dear reader might recall the Wilson woes, the concerns about weaponry; you might even remember the blood for oil theory. However, I. Lewis [Scooter] Libby does not. Apparently, his work load, while working in the White House was overwhelming. Libby cannot be expected to recall what he thought, said, did, or felt.
No one trusts anyone any more; even personal recollections cause us to recoil. Cynicism is ubiquitous. Connecting the dots seems impossible. Possibly you can help me. Certainly, "my" President cannot. Mister Bush and his co-conspirator knew nothing. They cannot remember what they did believe. Neither of these predators protects our country. With thanks to them, danger pervades our planet. Iraq is our past, our present, and the world's future; yet, no one is certain why.
"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him." ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Live and Learn; Learn to Live

by: blackdog

Somebody opened the door, I'm not sure who, nor do I really care. Not to long ago I was invited to a presentation by a representative of a company who manufactured devices that were wind powered, or in the absence of wind, electricity. The idea was how to store the tremendous amount of oxygen generated by the aerobic surface layer of a wastewater lagoon or pond in the water, without venting it to the atmosphere where it would not help the treatment process in the water. This presentation was put on by an Indian Engineer who understood more than I ever dreamed of, and I had seen systems like he was talking about for at least 30 years. His premise was fairly simple, instead of venting all the photosynthetic oxygen to the atmosphere, why not increase the layer of the pond that can absorb the O2?

You now have my attention, Sir. In rapt attention I listened while he described how this process worked, and it made sense. I was somewhat ashamed that he was so far ahead of me, but i bit the bullet and went on. I asked some fairly good questions, and he gave some great replies.That day I received a bit of an education in something that I thought I knew something about, and I did, but he knew more and was very polite and educational in explaining it to me.

My good friend Larry was there, he had invited me to the meeting in the first place. Dr. __________ something or other (Indian names are impossible for me) invited us to lunch and of course we agreed. While having lunch I looked Dr. _______ in the eye and asked him how many languages he could speak. He replied "six".

Not the first time I've worked with someone from India or the middle east that was way the hell advanced from me. But this guy and all of the others I've had the luck to work with have been nothing but professionals and dedicated to their tasks, with a certain amount of education to the unwashed clients that they are being paid by.

Like I said the other day, live and learn, and learn to live.

I'll tell a story about a Palestinian engineer I met in California soon, he was a bloody genius. And a nice guy to boot. Explained some nuances of the spanish language to me when I was first in Ventura. Spoke at least eight languages.

Damn I love great educators. I still have so much to learn.
21 February 2007

booty call: Leaked Iraqi Oil Law

by: astraea

Raed Jarrar comments:
This law legalizes PSAs (production sharing agreements) in Iraq. Iraq will be the only country in the middle east with such contracts privatising Iraqi oil and giving foreign companies crazy rates of profit that may reach to more than three fourth of the general revenue. Iraq and Iraqis need every Dinar that comes from oil sales. In addition to the financial aspects of this law, it can be considered the funding tool for splitting Iraq into three states. It undermines the central government and distributes oil revenues directly to the three regions, which sets the foundations for what Iraq's enemies are trying to achieve in terms of establishing three independent states.


Fouad Qasim Al-Ameer notes on the Oil Law are here. Excerpt:


2-4) All politicians, economists and specialists are aware of the fact that the world's oil resources are running dry and they will have to cut the products rates, because it will be quite scarce by mid 21 century. The world's fixed oil reserve has reached 1100 billion barrels, which will do for no more than 40 years to come, if we keep the current consumption rates. The majority of the new reserves were uncovered about 30 years ago. Despite the thorough and constant investigations, the reserves that had been uncovered on a yearly basis throughout the past two decades do not even cover half the annual consumed quantity, i.e., we are using the oil that had been uncovered earlier. It is not expected to uncover more than 20 percent of the current reserve. When will oil production reach its peak is the question that has caused disputes. In other words, when will oil producers find themselves forced to reduce the daily production rate because oil fields cannot provide enough. This could last until 2010 to 2015, though some optimists believe it could last to 2020. Acting according to the global warming Kyoto Protocol, in which carbon dioxide emission could be reduced, could help us last to 2020.

Oil will be priceless. If OPEC could survive and coordinate with the other major producers such as Russia, prices will skyrocket and even if they drop, no serious problem would loom, it will be in sync with rationing production rate and limiting the OPEC exports quota. It is key to not yield to the industrialized states, the U.S. topping the list, which will advocate increasing products in the market as Saudi Arabia used to do. Presently, Saudi Arabia does not have the capacity to dump the market; its production rate is at its peak. The only state that could do so is Iraq. Yet, if it does, it will be the first to drown, it would make prices drop, and Iraq will not earn high revenues despite the massive production rate.


Hm. Bush, the Saudis, the strange bedfellows. NeoCon dreams. The Rapture. The honor-shame culture that directs the Right.
I'm thinking about Putin's recent comments. Reading it all -- and a bit of this, Putin and the Geopolitics of the New Cold War, it sends shivers through me.

Dr Strangelove lives.

---------------------------------

Institute for Public Accuracy
915 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * http://www.accuracy.org * ipa@accuracy.org
___________________________________________________

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Leaked Iraqi Oil Law

The New York Times reported this week: "A draft version of the long-awaited law that would govern the development of Iraqi oil fields and the distribution of oil revenues has been submitted to Iraq's cabinet, the first step toward approving the legislation, two members of a senior negotiating committee said this weekend."

A leaked copy of the 29-page proposed oil law has just been translated by Raed Jarrar, a D.C.-based Iraqi analyst who is in close contact with Iraqi parliamentarians.

RAED JARRAR, jarrar.raed@gmail.com ,
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/20/1523250
Jarrar is Iraq Project director for Global Exchange. A translated copy of the proposed oil law is at: http://raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com -- his web page.
He said today: "Financially, the proposed law legalizes very unfair types of contracts that may freeze Iraq into very long-term contracts that can go up to 35 years and cause the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars from Iraqis.
"The proposed law undermines Iraq's sovereignty since Iraq would not be capable of controlling the levels of production, which threatens Iraq's membership in OPEC. And Iraq will have this very complicated institution called the Federal Oil and Gas Council, that will have representatives from the foreign oil companies on the board of it. So representatives from companies like ExxonMobil and Shell and British Petroleum will be on the federal board of Iraq approving their own contracts.
"Finally, the law gives regional authorities final say in dealing with the oil, instead of giving this final say to a central federal government. So it opens the door for splitting Iraq into three regions or possibly even three states in the near future."

ANTONIA JUHASZ, antoniajuhasz[a@t]gmail[d.o.t]com, http://www.thebushagenda.net , http://priceofoil.org
Juhasz is a Tarbell Fellow at Oil Change International and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. She said today: "The proposed law does almost word for word what was laid out in the Baker-Hamilton recommendations, which, at the very basic level, is to take Iraq's nationalized oil system -- the model that 90 percent of the world's oil is governed by -- and turn it into a commercial system fully open to foreign corporate investment on terms yet to be decided." "Given that Iraq's oil only costs less than a dollar per barrel to pump and oil is selling at over $50 per barrel, the Iraqis are already making a tremendous return on their oil. The danger is that under the different models of oil contract that are being put on the table, the
Iraqis would lose the vast majority of that profit to the foreign oil companies.
"Iraqis have lost a fair amount of expertise, technical know-how, as technology has increased over the past 11 years and the Iraqis were shut out because of the sanctions. The answer to that is found in the models put forward by their neighbors, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and Iran, which
are technical service contracts that countries sign with foreign companies to bring in that expertise, but under very limited time frames and very specific economic benefits to the companies and to the country, not these 35-year contracts."
Juhasz's latest book is "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

________________________________________________________________
http://lists.accuracy.org/lists/info/public
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xpost, robot sex

A Message From General Clark and VoteVets

by: Minstrel Boy

I have been a contributing member of VoteVets since I first heard of them. General Clark hasn't declared as a candidate and it's far too early for me to commit to any one. Voices like Bill Richardson deserve to be heard. But, for something like this, I'm down with it. I'm on board.

All Americans want to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and interfering on the ground inside Iraq.

Yet, President Bush's continued saber rattling gives the US little additional leverage to engage and dissuade Iran, and, more than likely, simply accelerates a dangerous slide into war. The United States can do better than this.

Whatever the pace of Iran's nuclear efforts, in the give and take of the Administration's rhetoric and accusations, we are approaching the last moments to head off looming conflict. Surely, it is past time to urge President Bush to exercise leadership and start to work now to avoid a widening of the conflict in the Middle East.

That's why today, I'm joining Jon Soltz, Chairman of VoteVets.org, the preeminent organization representing Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, to launch StopIranWar.com.

Visit StopIranWar.com today and sign the petition to President Bush. War is not the answer.

http://StopIranWar.com

StopIranWar.com is a one-stop resource for all Americans to help stop the looming conflict with Iran. With the latest news on Iran and online tools to contact President Bush, lobby your members of Congress, and write letters to the editor to local and national print media, StopIranWar.com will help us create the groundswell of support needed to stop another dangerous war in the Middle East.

Americans and their elected officials in Congress must work together to demand that President Bush stop the rush to war with Iran. The United States must use every option available to defuse tensions with Iran -- diplomatic, political, and economic -- before even considering military force. Military force must be viewed as the last resort -- not the first option.

Cannot the world's most powerful nation deign speak to the resentful and scheming regional power that is Iran? Can we not speak of the interests of others, work to establish a sustained dialogue, and seek to benefit the people of Iran and the region? Could not such a dialogue, properly conducted, begin a process that could, over time, help realign hardened attitudes and polarizing views within the region? And isn't it easier to undertake such a dialogue now, before more die, and more martyrs are created to feed extremist passions?

Visit StopIranWar.com today and sign the petition to President Bush. War is not the answer.

http://StopIranWar.com

War with Iran is not the answer. We must work with our allies, talk with Iran, and use all diplomatic, political, and economic options at our disposal. Military force against Iran is not the solution now, and if we adopt the right strategy, perhaps it need never be.

Sincerely,



Wes Clark



I have, myself, visited the site and used their tools to send emails to the White House (who won't listen), both senators (although with McCain and Kyl I doubt much while happen from them), and my congressman (listen up Mitchell). There are some choices if you want to drop some money on them too. As I said before, I am a strong supporter of VoteVets, but I leave everyone to dip into their own purse at their own discretion. I think that the ads produced by VoteVets have impact (remember that "On the other hand" ad from the Super Bowl? That sucker flat played) I also loved it when the maimed veterans went to Capitol Hill and visibly sat with guys like Murtha and Webb leaving the Republicans to try and jostle their way into the pictures.

Again, your purse, your conscience. I will only tell you where I stand. Not contributing for any reason at all is a political choice that carries the same moral weight as the one that I made. I encourage you to take your stand where ever it might be and know that I stand with you too.

UPDATE: PBS Newshour is showing a piece right now on the rush to throw some paint and plaster on the infamous building 18 at Walter Reed. I am somewhat encouraged that there are still some people in Washington that still have the capacity to feel shame.


harp and sword

Ron Paul -- A must see video of him addressing the House Financial Services Committee.

by: Jersey Cynic

Here is the video of his address on C-SPAN 2/17/2007

Amazing man.

Here is an excerpt of a similar speech he gave in 2003:

Paper Money and Tyranny


A fiat monetary system allows power and influence to fall into the hands of those who control the creation of new money, and to those who get to use the money or credit early in its circulation. The insidious and eventual cost falls on unidentified victims who are usually oblivious to the cause of their plight. This system of legalized plunder (though not constitutional) allows one group to benefit at the expense of another. An actual transfer of wealth goes from the poor and the middle class to those in privileged financial positions.

In many societies the middle class has actually been wiped out by monetary inflation, which always accompanies fiat money. The high cost of living and loss of jobs hits one segment of society, while in the early stages of inflation, the business class actually benefits from the easy credit. An astute stock investor or home builder can make millions in the boom phase of the business cycle, while the poor and those dependent on fixed incomes can’t keep up with the rising cost of living.

h/t to sa rose at bibliosquirrel
(I agree sa rose -- this section scares the crap outta me too)


Hey - how about a Paul/Nader ticket?

Catch Nader on TDS with Jon Stewart (3 parts)

These two men, IMO, are EXACTLY what this country needs -- ASAP


crossposted at Blondesense

Lest We Forget the Fallen

by: Minstrel Boy

This was written by one of the most prolific composers of the Civil War era. George Frederick Root wrote many very popular songs that were sung by both sides of the conflict. Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching; Just Before the Battle, Mother; Battle Cry of Freedom to name only three.

For the Ken Burns documentary soundtrack of The Civil War I had the honor of performing this song with the beautifully voiced Kathy Mattea and Johnny Hartford. I played guitar and sang bass. (in my own sweet way, the producer liked it because he said it sounded like a family gathering)

the tune is HERE

The Vacant Chair (We Shall Meet But We Shall Miss Him)
(Words: Henry S. Washburn, Music: George F. Root)

We shall meet, but we shall miss him
There will be one vacant chair
We shall linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer;
When a year ago we gathered
Joy was in his mild blue eye,
But a golden chord is severed
And our hopes in ruin lie.

cho: We shall meet, but we shall miss him
There will be one vacant chair
We shall linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer;

At our fireside, sad and lonely,
Often will the bosom swell,
At remembrance of the story
How our noble Willie fell;
How he strove to bear our banner
Through the thickest of the fight,
And uphold our country's honor
In the strength of manhood's night.

True, they tell us wreaths of glory
Ever more will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only
Sweeping o'er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today, Oh early fallen,
In thy green and narrow bed,
Dirges from the pine and cypress,
Mingle with the tears we shed.


I got to tell the Democratic candidate for the Senate here that I was tired of playing the harp at funerals. I want to play electric guitars at Quinceneras and goat BBQ's.

I am very tired of this today. Yet another gig I didn't want for a young man I knew. I think I'll fit this one into ceremony.

So. Very. Tired.

harp and sword
20 February 2007

"The bottom line is that ... the president can do whatever he wants without any legal limitations as long as he does it offshore"

by: astraea

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.


Inflicting Democracy on the world by suspending the great writ?

Today's court ruling upholds an act of Congress that stripped Guantánamo Bay captives of the right to challenge their detention in lower federal courts.

Center For Constitutional Rights:
D.C. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULES THAT GUANTÃNAMO DETAINEES HAVE NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CHALLENGE THEIR DETENTION - On February 20, 2007 CCR condemned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the combined cases of Al Odah v. USA and Boumediene v. Bush, the first lawsuits challenging the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) to be addressed by the courts. The ruling states that the Guantanamo detainees have no constitutional right to habeas corpus, therefore the passage of the MCA by Congress eliminated the statutory right to challenge their detention in the courts. Read more. . .

The Guardian

· Federal court denial 'not unconstitutional'
· Dissenting judge says law contradicts habeas corpus

Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a lawyer representing several of the detainees, said: "The court of appeal has said it is perfectly legal to lock men up for ever without even a hint of due process.

"The conclusion would seem to violate most principles that most Americans believe are fundamental to our country."

----------------


AP:

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that foreign-born prisoners seized as potential terrorists and held in Guantanamo Bay may not challenge their detention in U.S. courts, a key victory for President Bush's anti-terrorism plan.

Attorneys for the detainees immediately said they would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, which last year struck down the Bush administration's original plan for trying detainees before military commissions.

``We're disappointed,'' said Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights. ``The bottom line is that according to two of the federal judges, the president can do whatever he wants without any legal limitations as long as he does it offshore.''

[...]

``The Military Commissions Act is a dangerous and misguided law that undercuts our freedoms and assaults our Constitution by removing vital checks and balances designed to prevent government overreaching and lawlessness,'' Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement.


-----------

A roundup of reaction. Mine, tears and nausea.

"Listen, Moirai (Fates) ... hear our prayers ... send us rose-bloomed Eunomia (Good Order in civic government) and her bright-throned sisters Dike (Justice) and garland-wearing Eirene (Peace), and make this city forget its heavy-hearted misfortunes." - Greek Lyric V Anonymous Fragments 1018 (from Stobaeus, Anthology)

-----------
crossposted: robot sex, moons favors

The Authoritarians

by: Minstrel Boy

Bob Altemeyer in conjunctin with the University of Manitoba has put up six chapters of his work The Authoritarians downloadable in PDF form.

This is an excellent work. It was cited extensively by John Dean in Conservatives Without Conscience.

Explanation of the levels and classifications of the authoritarian personality types was instrumental in my own rethinking of my opinion of Mr. Dean himself. My long held view was that he was a snitch and a weasel. Through the reading of Altemeyer I was able to see the supreme effort of courage it took for him to stand up alone against the most powerful man in the world. It was even more gratifying when I read Mr. Dean's book (which he started to write with the advice and consultation of Barry Goldwater) that Mr. Dean himself went through the same readjustment of himself from consulting with Bob Altemeyer.

Give this a read. Better than a reading would be a study. These bastards are real enemies of freedom.

el rancho harpo

big tip of the cowboy hat to Glenn Greenwald now writing exclusively for Salon.

Avian Republicans

by: blackdog

One of these days I'm going to learn how to do all the tricks the rest of you do so effortlessly such as making the boxes and links on your posts. But until then you just have to put up with me.

I have made a connection, although I made this one several years ago, that what most around here call blackbirds are actually purple grackles and starlings. I was just out in the backyard feeding the woof and the noise was incredible, several thousand grackles were attempting to roost in a few trees just north of me. Their shrill crys will make your hair curl.

I just so happened to have several dozen bottle rockets, and today I bought some beers, the first this week, I swear. So I took a cold one out in the backyard after feeding the woof and began firing rounds at the terrist nasty non-native blackbirds. It works fairly well, but they are more than persistant, they will come back by the thousands within minutes. Another round of "shock and awe" and they fly off, only to return again within minutes.

Maybe if I could kill several hundred of them with such a shot they would just go away and the program would have worked, but I doubt it. The persistance of these birds reminds me of another animal with a four-chambered heart that is bi-pedal and can't fly without machinery.

In other words, the battle against grackles by the thousands that are determined to roost next door cannot be easily won, unless you use a technique that not only destroys all the birds but also your house. Sounds like where we are in the middle east, or for that matter on this planet Earth.

"We are 'goin ta bring 'ya Liberty! Freedom! Democracy!" Even over your damned dead bodies. Haven't we been here before many times? Just what I want from an idiot, ideas that go nowhere and only incite the masses to violence. Thankfully the grackles did not attack me but they should have, I would have lost a'la the Birds. But it was an interesting example of how my attempt to change my environment failed, and does every year in the face of overwhelming odds even when I understand why.

Some things you have to learn to live with. And live to learn with.

Maybe some day I'll grow up, but I'm in no hurry.

Oh, the connection is that the "blackbirds" are republicans, they are foriegn (non-native birds) from your environment and they take all the available food at the cost of the natives, with absolutely no remorse. They exist at the expense of the rest of us, period.
19 February 2007

For the Lads of Walter Reed

by: Minstrel Boy

Words fail me. I am ashamed and saddened.

This is an old Irish song. The lyics are harsh. The emotions are true. So true, in fact that over here in America we had to soften the blows it delivers and change it to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."

I like the old truth far better than the new lie.

Here's the tune.

Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye

While goin' the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While goin' the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While goin' the road to sweet Athy
A stick in me hand and a drop in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry
Johnny I hardly knew ye

With your drums and guns and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your drums and guns and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your drums and guns the enemy comes
They maimed and nearly slew ye
And now me darling dear, Ye look so queer
Johnny I hardly knew ye

Where are your eyes that were so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your eyes that were so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your eyes that were so mild
When my heart you so beguiled
Why did ye run from me and the child
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye

Where are your legs that used to run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your legs that used to run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your legs that used to run
When you went for to carry a gun
Indeed your dancing days are done
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye

I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home
All from the island of Sulloon
So low in flesh, so high in bone
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye

Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg
Ye're an armless, boneless, chickenless egg
Ye'll have to put with a bowl out to beg
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye

They're rolling out the guns again, hurroo, hurroo
They're rolling out the guns again, hurroo, hurroo
They're rolling out the guns again
But they never will take our sons again
No they never will take our sons again
Johnny I'm swearing to ye




Dear Dark Wraith, I need your help with this one. Paul Craig Roberts says: Economists in Denial - Blind to the Consequences of Offshoring

by: Jersey Cynic

Here is his reasoning

This is the related story that Mr. Roberts speaks of from Manufacturing and Technology News.

The United States is the most competitive nation on Earth and policymakers should not view the burgeoning trade deficit as an accurate measure of the nation's economic health, according to the Council on Competitiveness's latest "Innovation Index: Where America Stands."

"A lot of the debate and discussion today is really quite misleading and full of misperceptions of where the United States stands and how to interpret what's going on," said Harvard University professor Michael Porter, the main author of the council's index.

Mr. Roberts says --

"I recognized a number of Porter's claims to be inconsistent with empirical data. After examining the report, I can confidently state that the report provides scant evidence that America is benefiting from globalism.

This is not to say that the statements in the report and the information in the numerous charts are untrue. It is to say that the data do not support the claim that America is benefiting from globalism."

Mr. Porter:

There is a sense that the United States is losing its manufacturing base. Wrong, said Porter. The United States remains the world's largest manufacturing economy. It is not losing manufacturing, it is losing manufacturing jobs, Porter told a press conference in Washington, D.C. "That is a fundamental distinction. Services are becoming much more important in the economy. We used to think of services as flipping hamburgers, now we have to think of services as rocket science. Services are where the high value is today, not in manufacturing. Manufacturing stuff per se is relatively low value. That is why it is being done in China or Thailand. It's the service functions of manufacturing that are where the high value is today, and that is what America can excel in if we have the right kind of workforce and we have the right kind of environment. We have to stop this notion [of believing] that manufacturing is [essential]. It's a real problem because it distorts our thinking. It reflects a simplistic view of the international economy and how companies compete in their overall value chain."

I agree with Mr. Porter here:

Inequality is overwhelmingly affected by educational achievement and this "is getting more and more true every day," said Porter. "We have to face the fact that it is the underlying issue we have to address. The least skilled are the most vulnerable to the new global economy and therefore need the most help and support. Educational access is crucial. Access to college is crucial. Help in financing college is crucial and the success of our education system is crucial. All of those are areas where we are falling down."

(Maybe if our universities are teaching these "must know" subjects/terms for the 21st Century, yes, all will not be lost).

Mr. Roberts says:

Another problem is that the corruption of the outside world has found its way into universities. Today, universities look upon "name" professors as rainmakers who bring in funds from well-heeled interest groups. Increasingly, research and reports serve the interests that finance them and not the truth. Money rules, and professors who bring money to universities find it increasingly difficult to avoid serving the agendas of donors.

When a country gives up producing tradable goods, it gives up the occupations associated with manufacturing. Engineering and R&D move away with the manufacturing. It is impossible to innovate independently of the manufacturing and R&D base. Innovation is based on state-of-the-art knowledge of what is being done, and if the doing is done elsewhere, the innovator will find himself at a disadvantage.

Offshoring is causing dire problems for the United States. I have suggested that one necessary reform will be to break the connection between CEO pay and short-run profit performance. As long as CEOs can get filthy rich in a few years by dumping their U.S. workforce, the trade deficit will continue to rise, and more college graduates will be employed as waitresses and bartenders.






(Mr. Porter's views are part of the "official report")

Should we be afraid of this official report? I kinda am...


18 February 2007

Who Does Support The Troops?

by: Foiled Goil

The Republic Party seems to think that tax welfare for the rich and taking from Medicare and Medicaid is a good thing. The Republic Party seems to think that increased cost spending for war while taking away veteran benefits is a good thing. The crazies in the Republic Party seem to think that parroting their pre-approved talking points (PDF) and doing everything they can conjure up to avoid confronting reality and facing truths is a good thing.

After reading about the proposed $2.9 trillion budget that would slash Medicare and reward the rich, and would also cut the budget for veteran health care two years from now, followed by three years of freezes...

After reading about the shocking and deplorable conditions our returning injured troops endure at Walter Reed, including the moving account of a Marine's suicide who was made to wait for PTSD treatment...

After reading that the Senate GOP foiled the Dems' bid to repudiate the Iraq surge...

After again reading the casualty and fatality lists in Iraq and in Afghanistan...

After reading about the lying Judas media and the propaganda spin machine...

...the government's propaganda ministry, bombarding the American public with "news reports" from unidentified sources that the US government has proof that "the highest reaches of the Iranian government" is supplying weapons to the Iraqi insurgency...

And...

Bush's support stands at 30% or less of the American population; Cheney's at 20% or less. How can "leaders" who are not supported by public opinion or by a single fact escalate a war that is entirely based on lies while starting a new war that is entirely based on lies?

I also have to wonder...
How can any patriotic American support a regime that has shredded the US Constitution, ignored the separation of powers, violated the Geneva Conventions, forced through a law legalizing torture, launched a war of aggression that has produced 26,000 American military casualties in service of a lie, murdered tens or hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians, destroyed an entire country, and planned an attack on Iran, perhaps with nuclear weapons?
It is more than painfully obvious that the Republic Party does not support the troops, or the people of this country. The Republic Party has no regard for the common good or the best interests of this country. Any politician who continues to support this insane fascist despotic regime that is now in control of our once respected country is out of their mind and needs to be removed from office.

The American people and the co-dependent congress must wake up and realize that the president needs a straight-jacket and a padded cell.

We must impeach, investigate, indict and imprison this traitorous mis-administration.

Supporting The Troops, Pt. 2

by: Debra

By the time I read the article, 96 other blogs had posted on the ridiculous frakking bushit that is called outpatient treatment for our injured troops at Walter Reed. As you can imagine, my blood is boiling, my head is pounding and my teeth are gritted.

How can this situation be tolerated? Why are our recovering soldiers living in conditions that rival the ghetto? In a third world country. I am deeply ashamed that we have failed those who did as they were ordered, giving life and limb for their country, only to be treated as annoyances and inconveniences upon their return. The Paris Hilton method of loyalty. Once broken, no longer needed.

I love this country, but lately have become concerned about our lack of human decency, of our inability to empathize with others, our bizarre belief that those who are not "perfect" deserve to suffer. For the last week, this country and its media have been riveted by the story of one dead woman. As tragic as that may be for her family and friends, many others have suffered the same fate since then and have not been accorded one iota of attention. Many other families have been irrevocably altered by the events in Iraq and barely get a mention on their local news. Meanwhile, CNN and ABC want us to know that Britney's drapes now match the carpet. What's up with that?

Supporting the troops means more than a bumper sticker on your car. It means that you bug your Representatives, your Senators and your Governors until the troops get competent help. Perhaps the obstructionist Republicans will finally hear the people who elected them and start working with other members of Congress to do something constructive, instead of posturing and pandering about a war that is not supported by their constituents.

One other thing about the article disturbed me. Why are the National Guard and Reserves separated from the so called "regular" Army? Injuries incurred in the defense of your country, or even in our current predicament, should be covered equally. Neither the Iraqis or the Taliban see a difference, why should we?

Debsweb

The Scrotum Monologues

by: Konagod

I am so happy. As a male (for the most part), I've felt rather left out when it comes to vile, nasty and obscene body parts worthy of censorship. But lo and behold, I do have a scrotum. And the appearance of that word in a children's book has set off an uproar. While it probably doesn't carry the same baggage as vagina, at least I feel us guys are making some progress towards equality now.

The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children’s books. The controversy was first reported by Publishers Weekly, a trade magazine.

The scrotum mentioned in the book is actually attached to a dog, not a human, but I doubt it would make any difference. We certainly can't allow our children to know that our body parts have names.

Pat Scales, a former chairwoman of the Newbery Award committee, said that declining to stock the book in libraries was nothing short of censorship.

“The people who are reacting to that word are not reading the book as a whole,” she said. “That’s what censors do — they pick out words and don’t look at the total merit of the book.”

Wendy Stoll, a librarian at Smyrna Elementary in Louisville, Ky., said: “I don’t think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson.”

No, of course not. But you probably never had an issue with teaching a child about a "pee pee" or a "tinker bell."

Look! It's a nut sack!

uncensored scrotumuncensored scrotum

Sunday's Homily

by: Jersey Cynic

A true or false quiz/opinion poll:

1.

The US is supporting an illegal millitary occupation.

2.

Israel claims it is defending itself from terrorism caused by jealosy, race, or religion. What they do not mention is the illegal military occupation.

3.

Israel builds racially segregated settlements into Palestine. These "settlements" are for Jews only.

4.

This is an army fighting civilians.

5.

The Israel government is not fighting terrorism. They are creating it by engaging in it themselves.

6.

Suicide bombers are a backlash from ethnic cleansing not Islam. The illegal occupation is the source of the conflict not a reaction to it.

7.

We should be supporting humanity not flags.

8.

Labeling and name calling is Israel's only defense aside from fear and deception.

9.

Fighting Zionism is no more anti-semitic than fighting the Nazis would be anti-white

10.

It's not anti-semitic. It's patriotic to support life and liberty.

Stop profiterrorism.

Divest now.

-------------------------------------

I took these talking points off of a video over at

anti-neocons. It was most difficult to watch. I'm sure you will see what I mean. The video above it was VERY interesting. It's an old video of, in their words "Wolf Blitzer former AIPAC employee promoting Zionism."

DISCLAIMER: This message represents the official view of the voices in my head.

The Originator of this post is not liable for the transmission of the information contained in this communication, unless they are the originator in which case they probably are liable and rightly so considering the content of the aforementioned communication.


17 February 2007

From Annti way back

by: blackdog

Just to refresh memories, here is a repost of an old post from a little over a year ago. I do this for the girls that got screwed from the right-wing bastards recently, you know who I mean.

Payback is a muuuthafucker!

Recently, our beloved commenter Blackdog had this letter published by his local newspaper in Arkansas:

Now is time of decision
Now is the time to determine the future of this nation. Are we to abandon the Constitution and allow the executive branch effective power that essentially trumps the Congress, or are we to find through real investigation whether this pitiful excuse for an administration has broken numerous laws and should be impeached ?
I want the latter and demand action from my elected officials.
To oppose the Constitution of the United States for reasons cited by these goons is simply too much. This excuse for an administration has crossed the line and needs to be held in check. Impeachment is the best start, and then to achieve closure, the entire group should be held over to the international court for war crimes. What we are seeing is the dissolution of the U. S. A. ’s constitutional form of government, and the public seems deaf. I for one will not stand still for it. As an American, I expect much better even from the elected officials whom I do not agree with. I expect them to obey the law.

And within three days, his position as water/wastewater services supervisor for the town of Lonoke, AR was "eliminated" as part of a sudden "budget-cutting" initiative that included, coincidentally enough, JUST HIS JOB.

He had not committed any crime, he wasn't drunk on the job and pouring mescaline into the town water supply, all he had done "wrong" was speak up, in the public press, against an illegal war and an immoral government.

And then, just when it can't get any more cliche' Southern, the REAL scandal erupted.

Arrests were widespread and messy at Town Hall... but the Mayor (the one who sent the firing letter to Blackdog) says that he ain't budgin'... The Chief of Police, on the other hand... Cut & run.

"Jay Campbell, 46, faces felony charges of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine, hindering apprehension or prosecution, conspiracy to commit residential burglary, theft by receiving, theft of services and a misdemeanor count of theft of property. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Kelly Campbell, 41, is charged with residential burglary. She also is accused of providing drugs and alcohol to state inmates and of taking two state inmates from the city jail on numerous occasions to have sex with her.
Two bail bondsmen linked to Jay Campbell — Bobby Cox, 61, of Little Rock, and Larry Norwood, whose age and address were unavailable — face charges of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine. Cox also is charged with terroristic threatening and with intimidating a juror, witness or informant."

Now, the Mayor "was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor charge of theft of services and accused of using Act 309 inmates to do chores at his home" but he has not been asked to resign and barely had time to blink at the mugshot camera before he was bonded-out and free.

Is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as a microcosmic representation of what's going on in D.C.? Anyone who speaks heretical sedition against Dear Leader is disappeared faster than a witness against the Gambino family, and when the crooked bastards DO get busted, it's for MISDEMEANORS, not their TRUE crimes.

Y'all keep an eye on the town of Lonoke, Arkansas... I have a feeling that the sex-with-inmates-who-are-used-as-slave-labor thing is just the tip of the iceberg... And since we know that Blackdog didn't narc these piglets out, we can only assume that these dickheads getting caught with their thinking heads in the zippers is a divine work of karma.

Somebody call Fitz...

I still haven't received employment. The story goes on. I survive, but just barely.

Crazies In The Republic Party

by: Foiled Goil

Those Crazy Republicans

BarbinMD, Daily Kos:

In the days leading up to the vote on the non-binding House Resolution opposing the escalation in Iraq, we heard Republican after Republican ignore what the resolution said; that Congress and the American people support the troops, while disapproving of Bush's escalation. They instead chose to parrot their pre-approved talking points (PDF), to avoid actually discussing the escalation and to scare the bejeebus out of the American people.

But of course, a few Republicans managed to go above and beyond the call of crazy in their effort to stop any criticism of George W. Bush. There was Rep. Virgil Goode, who continued his Muslimphobia by saying:
In no way do I want to aid and assist the Islamic jihadists who want the crescent and star to wave over the Capitol of the United States and over the White House of this country. I fear that radical Muslims who want to control the Middle East and ultimately the world would love to see "In God We Trust" stricken from our money and replaced with "In Muhammad We Trust."
Yes, because that's what supporting the resolution would lead to. [ rolleyes ] And then there was Rep. Don "Hang 'Em High" Young, who expressed his opposition to the resolution by invoking the name of Abraham Lincoln and declaring:
Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged. - Abraham Lincoln Washington Times Employee
Even when Young was informed that Abraham Lincoln never said any such thing, he refused to retract his statement, although he did say through a spokesman that he didn't really want to see anyone strung up. Big of him, eh?

And on the Senate side, as the Democratic majority once more tries to overcome GOP blockage of an up-or-down vote on their own resolution, Joe Lieberman, a Republican in all ways that matter, declared his opposition:
Yes, we should vigorously debate and deliberate. That is not only our right, it is our responsibility. But at this difficult juncture, at this moment when a real battle, a critical battle is being waged in Baghdad, as we face a brutal enemy who attacked us on 9/11 and wants to do it again, let us not just shout at one another, but let us reach out to one another to find that measure of unity that can look beyond today's disagreements and secure the nation's future and the future of all who will follow us as Americans.
Two questions for Mr. Lieberman come to mind: When did the Shi'ia and Sunnis who are fighting in their own civil war become responsible for 9/11, and when would it be a good time to debate and deliberate a four year old quagmire?

And finally there was Senator Jeff Sessions, who while voicing his opposition to the Senate resolution, managed to express the most asinine reason ever for invading Iraq in the first place:
But for most of us, I think it was a strategic American decision based on a fundamental question, were we going to give up, were we going to let the embargo collapse, and would Saddam Hussein be able to continue to say, and actually say with conviction and some honesty, that he had won the 1991 Gulf War...he said he won the war.
What this has to do with supporting or opposing the escalation isn't clear, but someone needs to ask the Senator if making sure Saddam couldn't say he won 16 years ago was really worth hundreds of thousands of lives.

Crazy.
16 February 2007

Statement

by: Dark Wraith


YouTube public URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1Wd4yIOeKY

Click here to view the video as a WMV file (42 seconds, 912 kilobytes)


This YouTube video may be reposted with attribute.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Chinese New Year Begins this Sunday

by: Jersey Cynic

I'm working like a DOG today, and probably through the weekend, cleaning my house like a mad woman. (And what a mess it is -- too much blogging lately) I always attempt to get the homefront in order in preparation for the Chinese New Year -- tradition you know.

I'm starting with the fridge. Since I have a lot of leftovers, and I hate to waste food, today's menu will be a ham and cheese omlet for breakfast, a BLT for lunch, and the rest of last night's pork dinner. Whew -- just in time too, cause we are approaching the the year of the pig, and the pig is the one sign in China's traditional 12 animal zodiac that Chinese Muslims could probably do without.

This is due not only to the Muslim aversion to pork but also to the historical derision that Muslims have endured in China for not eating the nation's preferred meat.

I was born
in the year of the pig. Any other pigs out there?

People born in the Year of the Boar are honest and tolerant and make good friends, but tend to expect the same from everyone else, and more often than not they end up disappointed. (I'm working on this one.) They thrive in the arts as entertainers. They are regarded for their chivalry, pureness of heart and their ability to make true friends, often for life.


Has anybody been watching Colbert this week? He has also been celebrating this week and has been in rare form!!

He interviewed
Sheryl WuDunn the other night. You can catch it here. She has written a book -- China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power
Check it out.

Stephen puts out some great questions to Sheryl. Are we friends of China or the enemy -- maybe the frenemy?

Will we ever see a democracy in china?
(Love how he answers his own questions!)
"That's up to google & microsoft since they ARE helping the Chinese government restrict their own people's access to the internet --so they're just a little bit pregnant with the chinese government"

He even askes her if she thinks we will see another Tiananmen Square

There are quite a few of these videos now up at Commedy Central.

This one was my favorite:

Stephen answers the public's questions, such as: why do the Chinese play checkers with marbles?
Check it out here. It's beyond hysterical.

All kidding aside, I do practice a lot of the Chinese traditions and I highly respect their
philosophies

Oh, btw, did you hear about the big meeting China had with Russia and India the other day? Giants meet to counter US power


Crossposted at Blondesense


15 February 2007

Because One Good Emmylou Deserves Another

by: Minstrel Boy



and because tomorrow morning I have to have my monkey suit and my happy face on to go to Vegas and make filthy lucre over the NBA All-Star weekend.

the whole time, this is where my head's going to be. i was talking to the God of All Ropers today and was telling him that my life feels backwards loaded sometimes. everybody else's holidays, parties, and celebrations are my days at the office. when i have a good chunk of time off, i don't want to go anywhere. i want a chance to stay home more than anything in the world.

being an old rodeo scuff himself he said "You don't see me going nowhere much, do ya?"

"I reckon not." I said.

(out west, that counts as a long talk)

laconicly crossposted at harp and sword

Principles of Economics: Origins of the Discipline, Video Edition

by: Dark Wraith

Updated 2/16/07 At the beginning of each semester in Principles of Economics classes, I deliver a lecture entitled "Origins of the Discipline." This lecture is given in both traditional classroom settings and in telecourses broadcast to satellite campuses. I am herewith offering that lecture from the beginning of the current semester as a multi-part YouTube video for readers here at Big Brass Blog: Part 1 was posted Monday, February 12, 2007, Part 2 was posted Tuesday, February 13, 2007, Part 3 was posted on Thursday, February 15, 2007 and Part 4, the final segment, has now been posted as of February 16, 2007. All four parts taken together constitute an edited version of the entirety of my "Origins of the Discipline" lecture. Below each YouTube frame is a link to the WMV format file of the video for those who would prefer to download it for viewing that way.

The Dark Wraith encourages readers to enjoy.


Click here for the WMV format version of Part 1 (4:30, 12.3 Mb).



Click here for the WMV format version of Part 2 (9:55, 11.7 Mb).



Click here for the WMV format version of Part 3 (9:54, 34.8 Mb).



Click here for the WMV format version of Part 4 (4:31, 15.4 Mb).



Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

shhh. calm down. easy laddie.

by: Minstrel Boy



because my head and my heart need a break. nothing better than emmylou when that happens. put emmylou with the chieftains and i feel almost human again.


harp and sword
14 February 2007

I'm Cranky

by: Debra

In case the two previous posts didn't give it away. I've been fighting a cold (and losing) for the past few days. My head is pounding, my nose is running, my ear aches and my throat is sore. Other than that, I hurt. Worst of all, I can taste anything. I hate that.

If there's one thing I hate more than being sick (there are a few), it's stupidity. My tolerance level drops as my symptoms increase. Today was Valentine's day and the President said we could kiss his derrière. He would have said that, except three syllable words, much less from another language, confuse him.

I want the new Kenny Wayne Shepherd album. It sounds great. The dude can play. Extremely well. I'd love to hear him and Robert Randolph guitar it out. That would cure the blues. Man, I hope Verizon doesn't cancel me for listening.

VD is almost over, thank goodness. Love stinks. You're breaking my heart by the dashboard light and that's the way I've always heard it should be. Love hurts, but I'm already gone. It's all over now, can you name the fifty ways to leave your lover? You oughta know, it's the song for the dumped. Happy loving couples. Riight. Well, that won't be funny for very long.

JurassicPork goes on the most magnificent rant about the blogger brouhaha. Love that man, a good thinker always turns me on.

Which is probably why the Iraq war gets my knickers in a knot faster than one can say boo. There was no good thinking before we invaded a sovereign country that was no threat to us and had nothing to do with September 11. These guys are right about as often as the local weatherman, almost never.

I think I'll go to bed before my head explodes.

Debsweb

watching the detectives

by: astraea

Re Josh below, Suzanne writes:

(Bush) knows because he's planting them....Charlie Rose interviewed the Iranian ambassador to the UN last night and they showed the Iranian bombs bushies are showing for proof with the date stamped on them in American order... month, day, year. Turns out everybody else in the world puts the day, month and year in that order.... clearly fakes..... NBC spent ten whole seconds last night reporting that some people are questioning the claims that Iran is arming the insurgents.....fact is most of those weapons come from international arms dealers ( a thriving business) and could be made any where including the US, China and Iran....

From Talking Points Memo: February 14, 2007 -- 11:28 AM EST // link)


We're just listening to the Bush press briefing today. And he's telling reporters that he knows absolutely tha the Iranian Republican Guards are responsible for sending in the weapons that are now being used against US troops. There are some delicate word games involved. But that's what he's saying.
He's saying he knows as a certainty something that his own Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not willing to say he believes.
-- Josh Marshall
also/related: (February 14, 2007 -- 11:04 AM EST // link)


Slipping The Bonds Of Reality

by: Debra

I'm surprised he didn't say what a national tragedy it was that Anna Nicole Smith was still dead. Every time he opens his mouth, Bush continues to show his continuing disconnect from reality, while thinking that everything will get better because he made a decision. If everybody else would just understand, if they would just try harder, if they would offer more support. If, if, if. If my aunt had balls, she would be my uncle. If I had an aunt.

He and members of his administration have heard voices.
I've listened to a lot of voices; people in my administration heard a lot of voices.
Really? Too bad it wasn't the American people's voice. Remember them? Support the troops sounds so good, but what have you actually done besides "make a decision"? They don't have the armor or the vehicles, they have had to fight the same battles over and over again, and now you have proposed to cut the benefits for them when they get out. War takes a heavy toll on the individual who is actually in the trenches, not the one that gets to sleep in the beautiful White House. Surrounded by guards and living in luxury that the average American will never know.
Q Do you believe it's a civil war, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I can only tell you what people on the ground, whose judgment -- it's hard for me, living in this beautiful White House, to give you an assessment, firsthand assessment. I haven't been there; you have, I haven't. But I do talk to people who are and people whose judgment I trust, and they would not qualify it as that. There are others who think it is. It is, however, a dangerous situation, thereby requiring action on my part.

Listen, I considered several options -- one, doing nothing, and that if you don't believe the situation was acceptable, then you should do something. And I didn't believe the situation was acceptable. Secondly, I could have listened to the advice of some and pulled back and hoped for the best. I felt that would be extraordinarily dangerous for this young democracy, that the violence in Baghdad could escalate mightily and then spill out across the country, creating chaos, vacuums into which extremism would flow; or make the decision I made, which is to reinforce the troops that were on the ground, to help this Iraqi government and security force do what they're supposed to do.
The people being isolated by their government's actions, are Americans. My father served this country for over twenty years and my mother supported him every step of the way.
Q As you know, a growing number of troops are on their second, third or fourth tour in Iraq. There have been a growing number of reports about declining morale among fighting men. I spoke personally to an infantry commander -- tough guy, patriot -- who says more and more of the troops are asking, questioning what they're doing here. Does this come as a surprise to you? Are you aware of this? Is it a minority opinion, is it a growing opinion, and does it concern you?

THE PRESIDENT: I am -- what I hear from commanders is that the place where there is concern is with the family members; that our troops, who have volunteered to serve the country, are willing to go into combat multiple times, but that the concern is with the people on the home front. And I can understand that. And I -- and that's one reason I go out of my way to constantly thank the family members. You know, I'm asking -- you're obviously talking to certain people, or a person. I'm talking to our commanders. Their job is to tell me what -- the situation on the ground. And I have -- I know there's concern about the home front. I haven't heard deep concern about the morale of the troops in Iraq.
I grew up with my father on isolated tours of duty, I know what these family members are feeling. Shame on you Mr. President for belittling their agony and their contribution. How dare you? Perhaps they are tired of having their loved ones come home in a box. Or wheelchair.

You can have your press conferences, you can pretend that you believe another country poses a threat to us, you can act like you think you are correct in all circumstances even when there is evidence to the contrary, but you don't act like a person with a grip on reality or one with a sense of accountability. You think you're funny, when you're not. You think you're capable, when you're not. You think you have made a decision the whole world will abide by, just because you made it. You decided it would be all better in Iraq because you decided it.

Well, I've decided that you are unfit to lead this country anywhere except to hell in a handbasket. At the rate you're going, we should arrive there soon. In pieces and wondering what the heck happened. Probably find you in a corner, cackling maniacally.

Do the American people a favor and decide to get professional psychological help. It's pretty bad when a whack job from across the globe can tell you have serious emotional problems.

Debsweb

More Madness

by: Dogmom

I found a brief article at Raw Story which gives another example of a new and creative way our representatives would like to mess with women's lives.

Apparently, Rep. Stacey Campfield (R) has introduced a bill in Tennessee which would require that death certificates be issued for aborted fetuses.

This guy must not have enough to do.

Woody Wuz a Spartacus Too

by: Minstrel Boy




Woody Guthrie hated injustice. He despised people getting picked on and exploited. Woody would have been disgusted by pasty pudgy little peckerwoods like Karl Rove saying that they though their kids were too fucking good to pick some tomatoes or make a bed. Karl also implies that the people who do those jobs for us don't deserve a living wage or any of his concern. Karl Rove is a prime example of some of the things that I see which are wrong in the world. All through junior high and high school my friends and I went out into the melon fields. Cantaloupe and watermelon by the acre. We weeded, we hoed, we picked, we loaded, we packed. We worked our asses off until the harvest went further north. That way we had money for clothes, shoes and books the next year. Once I even bought a car with some of the money. I spent a whole $100 on that car. It lasted a good long time too.

My kids haven't had to do that. Mostly it's because I am a lucky bastard who has been given a chance to make some pretty decent money. My kids have gone with me to the fields though. They know very well that there are many, many good people who are only hoping for a chance to have a back breaking job for a season or two.

Anyway back to Woody. He said this about this song.

Seen the pitcher last night, Grapes of Wrath, best cussed pitcher I ever seen.
The Grapes of Wrath, you know is about us pullin' out of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and down south, and a driftin' around over state of California, busted, disgusted, down and out, and a lookin' for work.

Shows you how come us to be that a way. Shows the dam bankers men that broke us and the dust that choked us, and comes right out in plain old English and says what to do about it.

It says you got to get together and have some meetins, and stick together, and raise old billy hell till you get youre job, and get your farm back, and your house and your chickens and your groceries and your clothes, and your money back.

Go to see Grapes of Wrath, pardner, go to see it and don't miss.

You was the star in that picture. Go and see your own self and hear your own words and your own song.

Woody Guthrie, in one of his People's World columns (1939-'40), reprinted in Woody Sez, New York, NY, 1975, p. 133.


John Edwards talks the talk of this song. I 'spect to see me some walkin' before I go any farther in my support.

You can listen to the tune right here it's an old outlaw ballad called Tom Hardy. It's a long song. It takes about a week to memorize well enough to perform and almost seven minutes to sing if you don't drag the tempo. One of my daughters said it did a better job on hitting the important parts of the novel than Cliff Notes.

Tom Joad

Tom Joad got out of the old McAlester Pen;
There he got his parole.
After four long years on a man killing charge,
Tom Joad come a-walkin' down the road, poor boy,
Tom Joad come a-walkin' down the road.
Tom Joad, he met a truck driving man;
There he caught him a ride.
He said, "I just got loose from McAlester Pen
On a charge called homicide,
A charge called homicide."

That truck rolled away in a cloud of dust;
Tommy turned his face toward home.
He met Preacher Casey, and they had a little drink,
But they found that his family they was gone,
He found that his family they was gone.

He found his mother's old fashion shoe,
Found his daddy's hat.
And he found little Muley and Muley said,
"They've been tractored out by the cats,
They've been tractored out by the cats."

Tom Joad walked down to the neighbor's farm,
Found his family.
They took Preacher Casey and loaded in a car,
And his mother said, "We've got to get away."
His mother said, "We've got to get away."

Now, the twelve of the Joads made a mighty heavy load;
But Grandpa Joad did cry.
He picked up a handful of land in his hand,
Said: "I'm stayin' with the farm till I die.
Yes, I'm stayin' with the farm till I die."

They fed him short ribs and coffee and soothing syrup;
And Grandpa Joad did die.
They buried Grandpa Joad by the side of the road,
Grandma on the California side,
They buried Grandma on the California side.

They stood on a mountain and they looked to the west,
And it looked like the promised land.
That bright green valley with a river running through,
There was work for every single hand, they thought,
There was work for every single hand.

The Joads rolled away to the jungle camp,
There they cooked a stew.
And the hungry little kids of the jungle camp
Said: "We'd like to have some, too."
Said: "We'd like to have some, too."

Now a deputy sheriff fired loose at a man,
Shot a woman in the back.
Before he could take his aim again,
Preacher Casey dropped him in his track, poor boy,
Preacher Casey dropped him in his track.

They handcuffed Casey and they took him in jail;
And then he got away.
And he met Tom Joad on the old river bridge,
And these few words he did say, poor boy,
These few words he did say.

"I preached for the Lord a mighty long time,
Preached about the rich and the poor.
Us workin' folkses, all get together,
'Cause we ain't got a chance anymore.
We ain't got a chance anymore."

Now, the deputies come, and Tom and Casey run
To the bridge where the water run down.
But the vigilante thugs hit Casey with a club,
They laid Preacher Casey on the ground, poor Casey,
They laid Preacher Casey on the ground.

Tom Joad, he grabbed that deputy's club,
Hit him over the head.
Tom Joad took flight in the dark rainy night,
And a deputy and a preacher lying dead, two men,
A deputy and a preacher lying dead.

Tom run back where his mother was asleep;
He woke her up out of bed.
An' he kissed goodbye to the mother that he loved,
Said what Preacher Casey said, Tom Joad,
He said what Preacher Casey said.

"Ever'body might be just one big soul,
Well it looks that a-way to me.
Everywhere that you look, in the day or night,
That's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma,
That's where I'm a-gonna be.

Wherever little children are hungry and cry,
Wherever people ain't free.
Wherever men are fightin' for their rights,
That's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma.
That's where I'm a-gonna be."



Yeah, Woody was a Spartacus. I cannot speak for the other contributors to Big Brass Blog, it wouldn't be right or proper for me to do so. I do, with this post, invite them to stand with Spartacus, Shakes, Amanda, Woody, and me. I bet the Dark Wraith could enlighten us non-coding geniuses on how to lump up the byline on this one.

Damn Update

by: Foiled Goil

UPDATED

Adding on to Chet Scoville's Damn post, below...

Announcement by Amanda Marcotte - February 12th, 2007:
No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it. I resigned my position today and they accepted.

There is good news. The main good news is that I don't have a conflict of interest issue anymore that was preventing me from defending myself against these baseless accusations. So it's on. The other good news is that the blogosphere has risen as one and protested, loudly, the influence a handful of well-financed right wing shills have on the public discourse.

Bill Donohue doesn't speak for Catholics, he speaks for the right wing noise machine. You guys pointed this out, you made a stink, you refused to walk into the same stupid trap that is laid out for liberals and Democrats by the right wing noise machine and I think you made a difference. While loyalty played into the pushback some, the real story is that we liberals are not taking this crap any longer and we’re pushing back.
Announcement by Melissa McEwan - February 13th, 2007:
There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.
Think the Edwards campaign's blog troubles ended with the resignations? Think the Edwards campaign's blog troubles end with Edwards?

Think again.
As predicted, right wing activists have detected in the sheepish silence of the other Democratic presidential campaigns an opportunity to separate yet more top contenders from the herd, and turn Democrats against Democrats. [snip]

The self-proclaimed "Catholic-based advocacy group" Fidelis has sent essentially identical letters to Clinton (PDF) and Obama (PDF), demanding that they:

"publicly condemn the anti-Catholic and anti-Christian blog posts by Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan..."
And what happens if Clinton and Obama refuse? Why, they'll be attacked as "anti-Catholic and anti-Christian," of course. Or at least, that's the unarticulated threat implicit here:

As one of the leading candidates pursuing the Democratic nomination for President, I believe you are in a unique position to make clear that anti-Catholic and anti-Christian bigotry of any kind should not be tolerated by any candidate. By taking up this issue publicly, you will be able to distinguish your candidacy from Mr. Edwards, while acknowledging the respect due people of faith in America, and in particular, Catholics and Christians.
The people who launched this thing aren't ever going to vote for Edwards, or any other Democrat. They're pulling your strings. They're influencing your primary vote. But the minute this vendetta loses its ability to influence the primary, it loses its power....

Until Edwards is immunized by the rest of the Democratic field, the right has leverage on our side of the aisle that they're not entitled to.
Lunatics are setting the agenda for the Dems.
Amanda quit and they still want her scalp. Take that as a hint.
Frameshop: Donohue Smear May Violate Laws:
According to United States law governing the behavior of 501(c)(3) organizations, it seems highly likely that William Donohue--President of the Catholic League, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization--may have broken the law by attempting to intervene in a political campaign.

The IRS document Organizational Test – IRC 501(c)(3) (link opens PDF file) states explicitly that an organization with this tax exempt status cannot intervene in a political campaign.

Despite the legal restrictions on his organization, Donohue appears to be using the Catholic League to campaign against John Edwards bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President, in particular the IRS strict prohibition for 501(c)(3)'s on "issue advocacy" as a form of political intervention.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue is demanding that presidential hopeful John Edwards fire two recently hired anti-Catholics who have joined his team: Amanda Marcotte as Blogmaster and Melissa McEwan as the Netroots Coordinator.
Now, there is no question that Donohue was attempting to intervene in the Edwards campaign using the resources of The Catholic League. That is very clear. The only question is whether the attempt to smear Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan as "anti-Catholic" can be seen as an attempt to advocate against John Edwards.
Bill Donohue, of course, has every right according to the U.S. Constitution to use speech as a tactic for intervening in and attempting to influence a political campaign. He does not, however, have the right to use his tax exempt organization to assist him in that task.

To do so is not only wrong, it is illegal.
And now, death threats from the lunatic Christo-fascist hypocrites:
The ramifications of Bill Donohue and the Catholic League's reckless rhetoric has materialized in the form of death threats to bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan. This is what happens when the ultra-right wing is given the megaphone of mainstream media. It is also a complete break down in the responsibility that the media has in vetting those who are given a platform to spread a message.

This is also evidence that ultra-right wing organizations that create messages based on hate and fear find sympathetic audiences with people who think more like citizen-militia than the loyal Catholics that Bill Donohue claims to represent. It is no wonder that there has been no mainstream Roman Catholic group, nor the Church itself, to step forward to support Donohue in his illegal, unethical scalp-seeking tirade against Senator Edwards' bloggers.

Bill Donohue must immediately rescind his hateful comments against these two young women and call on the hate-mongers, which he is responsible for inciting, to cease their threats against Amanda, Melissa, and their families.

Call him at 212-371-3191 and demand this.
I'm Spartacus

Well, Nobody Asked Me

by: Debra

I am against torture, under all conditions. I am against the death penalty, under all conditions. While many people may deserve the ultimate punishment, it is never applied equally. How one can rationalize that Charles Manson or Sam Berkiowitz are still alive, but some seventeen year old kid who killed a convenience store clerk and has been dead at the state's hand for years, I will never understand.

Torture is not an effective method of extracting true and useful information, no matter what you see on television. The Spanish Inquisition (waterboarding was popular back then too) was a good example of power out of control.

That more than one person felt rape was okay, really disturbs me. Without a trial, without a determination of guilt, people are willing to violate another person in ways that are supposedly abhorrent to civilized society. There is never an excuse for rape. Never. Ever. Ever. Not under any conditions. It wasn't right with Abner Louima, and it certainly wasn't right with fourteen year old Abeer Hamza Qassim.

Our national identity, our psyche has been severely damaged in ways that are becoming frighteningly apparent. We are willing to give up all trappings of civilization, to rescind our humanity, all in the foolish pursuit of a perceived bogeyman. We search in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways and in the process are confirming to the world that we, as a nation, are a fear based society, not a rational one.

We used to be a beacon of light and hope to the world, but now we act like scared little children, afraid of the dark and imagining that there is a bad man under every bed and in every closet. We no longer think, we react. To the littlest things. The big picture has escaped us as we descend into our collective madness, thinking that television reflects real life. Survivor, Big Brother, 24, they aren't real and never will be. They are not models on how to deal with life's problems and challenges. Betraying your friends, stabbing your neighbor in the back or shooting him in the face are all inappropriate ways to manage the daily aggravations of trying to get ahead. But not to us, torturing those who are probably innocent is A-OK.

What are we protecting if we have to use lies, threats and torture? The American way? What is that exactly? As the war drums increase their frenetic beat, in search of another false enemy, it would be wise to contemplate the fate of recent regimes that espoused terror and torture in an effort to control the populace. Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot all went the way of the Dodo. We should make sure that we don't follow.

Debsweb

other cheeks

by: astraea

Buzz about bloggers, the 'anti-catholic'... Fer instance, this spin: Edwards Embraces Bloggers. (No, Edwards did not hire the ladies as bloggers. Get it straight. )

Mr. Donohue, you've written me. I'm a Catholic, and I remember when there was higher ground. Your Catholicism is the Catholicism of Constantine, a Rome that never died.

It was Ratzinger, who is now the Pope, who cracked down on Liberation Theology ...
http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/ratzinger/liberationtheol.htm
... and excommunicated Matthew Fox. The terror in Latin America ...
http://www.lasculturas.com/aa/aa021905a.htm
... was part of the terror Liberation Theology worked to stop; the same terror that Negroponte rewarded, the same Negroponte who currently whitewashes Intelligence for the Bushite puppet masters.

The hand in glove of it all takes your breath.

Tell me how this is not Inquisition, fascism, terrorism?

And now, with Negroponte and Bolton, it is war. ...

Susan Sontag has defined fascism as “institutionalized violence.” I would define it as authoritarianism, an authoritarianism that swamps all else--conscience, community, human rights, justice—and that in the process legitimizes violence. Fascism is a philosophy of disempowerment based on fear, power over (sadism), power under (masochism), victimhood, and scapegoating. Fascism seems to need religion and even religious piety to wrap around itself and render feelings of pious sentiment and self-righteousness. Its God is the God of Authoritarianism. (Cardinal Ratzinger, the present pope’s right hand man and current inquisitor general, is a devotee of authoritarianism. It is in this context that the late theologian Dorothy Soelle wrote of a new “Christofascism” coming to the fore in our day. -- "Mel Gibson's Passion and Fascism's Piety of Pain," by Matthew Fox
http://www.matthewfox.org/sys-tmpl/htmlpage7/

Matthew Fox's letter to Cardinal Ratzinger: http://www.matthewfox.org/sys-tmpl/htmlpage12/

*********

The Apocalypse. Belief in it creates it.

At the funeral for my neighbor who was killed in Iraq, the Chaplain gave his reading:

... He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness

For His name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

***
Yes, the 23red Psalm. With all its famous comfort, this selection, these words at this time and place, troubled me. These "paths of righteousness" ...

"War is nothing new, and neither are killer strains of religion, pathogens that take hold of a people and send them into paroxysms of violence. War and religion will always be with us; we can't expect to shake them off. But we can ask what it is in religion that might keep the dogs of war on a leash, and what it is that whips them into frenzy and lets them loose. It is reverence that moderates war in all times and cultures, irreverence that urges it on to brutality. The voices that call in the name of God for aggressive war have lost sight of human limitations. They have lost reverence, even when they serve a religious vision. So it is when a people believe that their god commands them to take land from others, or insists that they force others to their way of thinking. Even when the goal of the war is something as noble as freedom or peace, it may be irreverent to think we can impose these goals by force." ~Paul Woodruff, Reverence, Renewing a Forgotten Virtue (and more).


That phrase -- "the presence of my enemies" -- Yet he who made the lamb (and me and you) also made "mine enemies."

(Tyger, Tyger, burning bright.)

All this, the experience of the moment -- the taps, the mother's tears, and I found myself thinking of her lost son as a smiling child. And there in the middle of winter, comes a bee to buzz around us. He made circles, circles of hope... The bee and the sun shining down on us. Something about it was right and comforting, even as this death was as wrong and sorrowful as this war and this crazy god of some desert (so long ago) that some people still suppose makes their enemy.

Feel the sun on your face. It's why we're here.

________
crossposted at ROBOT SEX (a new blog, since google isn't listing the moon's favors in its blogsearch. Or answer my letters.)
13 February 2007

Was I Right?

by: blackdog

Sorry for getting it wrong, It is a four part series that is as as hard hitting as any I've ever seen. I'll go to bed now. With the Woff.Under blankets on the couch.

PBS's "Frontline" Tonight!

by: blackdog

Should be an excellent production, I've got the popcorn with the petroleum butter waiting, although I suggest that the Minstrel Boy has a much better variety. This should be most interesting, I hope the audiance numbers are way the hell up there. This is a story that needs more attention.

I tried to spread this around, and to Polishifter and Minstrel Boy, my heartfelt thanks.

A Tale with some Truth

by: blackdog

Just read an article about our record trade deficit, and was mulling around in my head the current Federal budget deficit which does not seem to include the costs of the occupation and mayhem in Iraq or Afghanistan. Then I thought about the real possibility of this murderous excuse for an administration stirring the pot with Iran.

The straw that broke the camel's back. Then I thought about a time not too long ago but in a universe that seems very far away how a former President, before his inauguration had an economic summit in Little Rock, Arkansas. He gathered dozens, maybe a gross of economists and others from around the nation to convene and set policy that would change the course of the long haul of inherited deficits that had placed the national debt at a significant percentage of the GDP. A bold initiative, but I recall the national mood as being optimistic about this, we were all sick of the long years of right-wing economics and the curve of Laffer.

At the time I was living and working (!) in California, and I just happened to schedule a trip home not really thinking about what it might be like in Little Rock during this event. A month in advance I secured plane tickets and a rental car in Little Rock on arrival, but being a sometimes stupid ass, within a week or so my mother convinced me to not worry about the rental car, they would pick me up at the airport. So I cancelled the rental car.

Amazing, then you could fly from Inyokern, California to LAX, then to D-FW, then to Little Rock round trip for $200. Inyokern airport is where the old Monday Night Football lead-in with what's his name in a convertible Cadillac sings "Are you ready for some football"!? That was Inyokern, with the Sierras in the background. So most of you have been there in one way or another. I pulled into the parking lot in my little truck, went in and asked the attendant where I should park. She looked at me and said "where are you parked". I showed her and she said "that's fine". I should have never left that strange place permanently, but I digress.

The flight was fun but then I always love to fly, I always seem to get a window seat. The captain actually helped load luggage on the plane at Inyokern. This was at a time when smoking was the bugaboo of the moment and several public places were setting aside smoking areas for the unwashed. Fortunately I found one at LAX (I admit it, I still smoke!) and immediately felt like I was on a movie set for a kung-fu flick. I was surrounded by oriental folk puffing up a storm. The most surprising thing was I was the tallest, and I'm not tall. They almost all had on white turtle neck sweaters with black jackets. A very polite group, even though it seemed strange to me I felt completely secure. I even lit several cigarettes for many while I was there. Then off to the DC-10. And as usual, on any longer flight there is always a screaming baby near by. Not that I dislike babies, but I do not like being exposed to their screaming at 36,000 feet with nowhere to hide.

Arrived in Little Rock in the early evening and Mom and Dad were there waiting on time as usual. Dear 'ol Dad is a Dentist with a VERY strong sense of scheduling. He is never late and his patients are on time, too. But then in his defense he is on schedule with his practice as well, you almost never wait more than 10-15 minutes for your appointment. We went out to eat and had a good time catching up, I hadn't seen them in a few years. Stayed the night in my old bedroom in their house.

Showered and took care of the basics in the AM when it dawned on me, I needed a rental car. I was planning to visit several old friends and would most likely be imbibing some fluids, not carelessly so, but I didn't want to be in one of my parent's cars. I started calling some rental companies and they were flat out of cars. Due to the economic summit there were evidently over 10,000 reporters in Little Rock and I realized just how stupid I had been in canceling the rental I had a month ago. I kept calling every agency in the phone book and as I approached the end of the listings, I got one! It may have been the absolute last rental car in central Arkansas.

Some may ask what the point is of all of this. Well sometimes I just like to roll it all around and refresh my memories but I also like to tell a story. A story sometimes with a point. But the fact is, that summit in Little Rock concluded with policies and legislation that resulted in substantial revenue and economic growth and the national debt was actually being paid down for the first time in decades.

Then for an indiscretion that should never have come to the fore except for what I can only agree was the result of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" the articles of impeachment came about. For a fucking blow-job. Now we are saddled with a bunch of what can only be called callous criminals who will stop at nothing to further their interests, at our peril.

Where is Al Gore?

12 February 2007

I Got Your Mistake Right Here Mrs. Clinton

by: Minstrel Boy

Hillary Clinton is trapped by her own position on the war in Iraq right now. She's trying to parse and shift the blame for her votes to allow war powers to the President. I ain't buying it.

She was a junior Senator, but a Senator. When the President came asking for his authorization to go to war, she let it happen. She didn't insist on debate, she didn't question the intelligence that was brought forward, she didn't ask where the money was coming from, she didn't do a goddamned thing but go the fuck along with it. Why? I think she was trying to preserve or form an image suitable for the run for President that she's making right now. What she doesn't get is that she blew it right there. She was a Senator. Absent 60 votes for cloture the Senate could have tied the resolution up and not allowed the war to begin. They were told there was an immediate threat and they took the word of a proven liar at face value rather than ask for definitive proofs. They bought that whole "if you could have seen the evidence that I've seen" they didn't want to be accused of being "soft on terrorism" they were concerned more with their own politcal viablity in future elections than they were with whether or not there was really a reason to go to war. They sat there and let it happen.

You made your Mistake Senator Clinton when you didn't insist on hearings. You Made your Mistake Senator Clinton when you abrogated the oversight duty of the Congress as the war lurched and sputtered on.

You made your Mistake Senator Clinton, and our children died, were shot and blown to bits, and are dying right now. You made your Mistake. Whether you admit it in those words or not.

You failed us in your duty. Our children are dying, and you can't even organize a meaningless non-fucking binding resolution.

Do the job you have now before you ask me to support your promotion.

Harp and Sword

Frontline Tomorrow Night!

by: blackdog

Alert! PBS's program "Frontline" is tomorrow evening beginning the first of a three-part series titled "News War: Secrets, Sources & Spin. This may be the first time that any serious effort has been made to look into the implications of just what has happened to our liberal media. I've been hearing about it all day on NPR. Here's the link, check your local stations for times.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/

The popcorn and drinks are on me. This could be good.
11 February 2007

Pulse of the Electorate

by: Dark Wraith












Which Democrat do you or would you be most likely to support for President in 2008?

  — Poll results —

It's Not Found on YouTube

by: Minstrel Boy

Because the world only knows Mason Williams on account of "Classical Gas." He was also one of the main writers for the Smother's Brothers Comedy Hour. He writes poetry, short stories, along with some pretty damned good songs. Here's one of my favorites. It's done in a "Talkin' Blues" style. It really doesn't matter what key you use, because, you're talking. The guitar figures are used to keep the meter and rythym of your delivery going. As a matter of fact, it will be an exercise in memory for me to type this without a guitar in my hands. All from memory, if I blow something, sorry Mason. I will have, at this stage, practiced the mistakes so much that it is now how I do it.

J. Edgar Swoop

by Mason Williams


Now, as everyone know, the eagle's supposed
To be the symbol of freedom.
They're very well respected, goverment protected
It's against the law to eat'em.

On dollars and collars and medals for scholars
And flags that wag in the wind,
On cigars you puff and American stuff
The eagle is proudly pinned.

With such a position in American tradition
The eagle's a responsible bird,
And moral delinquencies and idiosyncracies
Are seldom, if ever incurred.

But there once was an eagle who was not very regal
By the name of J. Edgar Swoop
And it was quite often heard "That bird's absurd,
And he ought to be kept in a koop."

An example I'd say might be his toupee
Which he thought made him look debonaire
And if he went to pike, he'd always hitchhike
Never did travel by air.

J. hung around the streets downtown
He said "These mountains are dull.
All's that you meets are occaisional sheeps
Or a couple of high-flying gulls."

But the worst thing of all was that he had the gall
To wear some baggy old knickers
They was pink and blue plaid and they fit him so bad
They caused twitters, guffaws, and snickers.

Word got around in the government town
About J. Edgar and his antics.
A meeting was held and some senators yelled
"Unamerican!" and the usual pedantics.

An F.B.I. director (that's a Federal Bird Inspector)
Was called in to handle the deal.
He said "It seems to me that this eagle's too free,
I suspect he's gone over the hill."

"There's only one choice," said the people's voice
"America's depending on us!
We got to find this bird and give him the word
E Pluribus Unum or bust."

So the F.B.I. they set out to try
To make J. claw the line.
He just wouldn't listen so they throwed him prison
To pay for his traitorous crimes.

When things quieted down in the government town
They decided to make an appendage.
Because the symbol of our country was in the penitentiary
We need a new government image.

The measure was born and committees were formed
To find the new Yankee Doodle.
The symbol that best reflected the west
Was none but the Miniature Poodle.

Some argued the facts with what a poodle lacks
"And besides," they said "They's French."
But said the committee "So's the Statue of Liberty."
And it went up before the bench.

The law was passed and it was at last
Entered on the government logs.
J. Edgar didn't care he said "Them Poodles is queer.
And America's gone to the dogs."



Thanks Mason.

Harp and Sword

The 'SURGE'

by: Jersey Cynic

After reading this article that our reader and US Veteran Patriot sent me, I can understand how this father and family have found solace.

Both of these are beyond sadness. I am numb at the moment.


EXERPTS from both:

'Imagine packing up the house ... paintings .. documents, assembling a few valuables and delivering them along with the children's pet bird, to your sister's house ..telling the children you do not know when they might return ... instructing the neighbour's gardener to guard the house .. imagine arguing with your weeping children about what they can take with them, locking the gate ..' Imagine, imagine, imagine: justified by the venal, oil grabbing, shameful, stomach turning, discredited, disgusting words : 'liberation, freedom, democracy'.

---------------------------

For weeks, Chief Warrant Officer Jason DeFrenn's family awaited his homecoming, a trip planned as much more than a simple respite from his second tour in Iraq: The nine-year Army veteran was returning to South Carolina to help his wife give birth.

Instead, his loved ones are making plans for the 34-year-old Army pilot's funeral. DeFrenn's Apache helicopter was shot down on Feb. 2 -- two weeks before he was supposed to be back in his native state.


------------------------

Twenty-three Marines and soldiers have died in helicopter crashes in Iraq since Jan. 20. Most, like DeFrenn, are believed to have been shot down. The latest, which killed seven Marines when their transport helicopter crashed Wednesday, remains under investigation. Four American civilian contractors also were killed in a recent crash.

The deaths have raised questions about whether insurgents are using more sophisticated weapons or whether U.S. tactics need changing.

-----------------------------

As the Palestinians before them, Iraqis who flee either abroad, or under 'liberation's' ethnic cleansing, take with them the keys of their homes, the deeds of their home and land, all they have of their precious, only place on earth. As the Palestinians, how many generations will dream of the right to return? Sixty years after Britain's establishment of the State of Israel and the ever ongoing displacement, Britain, with the support of the biggest bully on the block, is playing the same game. And Palestinians in Iraq, safe for generations, too, flee yet again, with other nationalities who have lived there equally long, accused of being 'foreign fighters'. Sorry, 'foreign fighters' R us (U.S.)

--------------------------------

His father said the military gave DeFrenn the excitement he had sought as a boy while hunting and fishing near their hometown of 5,000 about 60 miles south of Columbia.

"When he was young, he had a spirit of wanting to be a hero," Garth DeFrenn said. "He was one of those kids who wanted adventure."

The DeFrenns are now making plans for Jason's funeral in the small town of Barnwell. He'll be buried in his family's plot, as his father believes he would have wanted. The governor plans to grant a request to lower the state's flags.

---------------------------

'I gave them a good boy and they sent me back a monster', said the Mother of a Viet Nam veteran ( the indispensable 'Four Days in My Lai - a war crime and its aftermath', Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim, Penguin.) Nothing has changed. America, Britain, take your monsters home. Illegal invasion, illegal 'surge', illegal executions, illegal oil grab. Just go away - and take your discredited politicians with you.

Dissin' Dat

by: Foiled Goil

Remember when pResident Bush used one of his party's favorite slurs and once again referred to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party in his SOTU speech in January?

Well, what goes around comes around...

On Thursday, February 08, 2007, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) took the REPUBLIC party to task on the House floor speaking on the Republicans' mind-numbing whines about Speaker Pelosi's military plane:

Watch it at YouTube,

or

Download versions at Crooks & Liars,

or

Read the full text at Carpetbagger.

Here's an excerpt:
"Now, look, I am sure that my good friends on the other side are so detached from reality that they think this is what the American people want to work on. This is a party that squandered the leadership that they had. Now the Republic Party is in the minority for the foreseeable future. The Republic Party is so completely bankrupt of any ideas of their own, they have taken to bringing up 3 hours of discussion and a debate between the White House and themselves about what kind of security the Speaker should have.

"The Republic Party is the minority party not only for this reason, but this is one of them. And then to make it worse, the Members that the Republic Party sends over can't possibly be the A team. This can't be the best. This can't be the most articulate, most informed voices of the Republic Party, can it? This is it?

"I was in my office and I heard a Member of the Republic Party, and you will correct me, Mr. Speaker, if I am wrong, complaining that he had to sit in a middle seat. No! Not a middle seat! Complaining that he had to eat peanuts on his flight. I don't even know what this is about.

"Let me tell you what the American people are interested in. They are interested in the idea that, like Damocles' sword, global warming is now hanging over the head of all of us, all of us, Republican or Democratic, even the Republic Party must be concerned about that. We have had thousands of scientists that have reached a consensus—"
...and sometimes you've just got to sit back and biggrin .

Portugal May End Abortion Ban

by: Konagod

I cannot quite grasp the concept that other nations in the world are at least showing signs of moving forward on social issues while the United States of America always seems poised to slide backwards at any moment.

The only constant is the tasteless tactics of those who insist on limiting the right to choose.
Last week, children from two Roman Catholic day-care centers in the port city of Setúbal were sent home with a most unusual note: a fictional letter from a fetus to the woman who conceived and aborted it.

“Mommy, how were you able to kill me?” the letter read. “How were you able to allow me to be cut up in pieces and thrown into a bucket?”

The Rev. Miguel Alves, the day-care center director who sent the letters, defended his action as perfectly normal, adding, “There’s no reason for indignation.”

No reason for indignation? Ahh, excuse me, but this borders on mind rape. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not aware of huge numbers of women going around saying "I can't wait to get pregnant just so I can have an abortion."

As a man, I will never fully understand the thoughts a woman might experience when making a decision to have an abortion. However, I think I'm safe in assuming the experience is no joyride, and these guilt trips inflicted by suppressive control-freak religious organizations certainly aren't helping anyone.
“This is an important moment for Portugal because it’s a chance to shed the image that we are in the Middle Ages,” said Maria de Belém Roseira, a Socialist deputy and a former health minister. “We had the Inquisition here, and we still have people who want to publicly punish women. That a woman who ends an unwanted pregnancy can be sent to prison is unacceptable and hypocritical.”

Women who have been prosecuted for having abortions have been punished not with prison but with suspended sentences and a fine. But health-care professionals have been punished more severely. In one highly publicized trial that ended in 2002, a hospital nurse spent four years in prison for conducting illegal abortions.

Is this something we can look forward to in the US? It's quite possible. The answer could become much clearer by 2008.

Crossposted from konagod
10 February 2007

Putin: "A gas OPEC is an interesting idea. We're going to think about it,"

by: astraea

Putin vows democratic elections, hints at gas cartel

So, no blood for gas, this time.

[...] Appearing relaxed and confident as he spoke for three-and-a-half hours before more than 1,000 Russian and foreign journalists, Putin, 54, also used the event to defend Moscow's energy policies and for the first time to suggest support for a cartel of gas producing countries.
Russia, the world's leading gas producer and number two oil exporter, has been accused by energy-importing Western countries of using those vast resources as a political tool.
However, Putin insisted that Russia was a reliable partner and said that recent price hikes for energy sold to Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics were not politically motivated.
Russia would develop direct export routes such as a gas pipeline to be built under the Baltic Sea to Germany in order to reduce dependence on transit countries, he said.
"We are always told that Russia is using its... economic resources to achieve foreign policy aims. That is not the case."
He suggested that Russia, which controls a third of the world's natural gas reserves, could join Iran' and other major producers in forming an organisation similar to the oil cartel OPEC.
"A gas OPEC is an interesting idea. We're going to think about it," Putin said.
While Putin added that he did not mean a "cartel," the Saudi-led Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets regularly to set production quotas, which influence world prices.
A "gas OPEC" would aim to "coordinate our activities, bearing in mind how to solve the main problem -- secure a reliable supply of energy resources to the main consumers," he said. ...


robot sex

the moon's favors

The Gay Marriage "Experiment"

by: Konagod

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire spewed more nonsense this week regarding gay marriage.



Republican Mike Huckabee said Friday that marriage shouldn’t be treated as an “experiment,” responding to questions about whether he thinks Vice President Dick Cheney’s gay daughter should have the right to wed.

It's not an experiment; it's a basic human right being denied because you and others with your majority belief system prefer to suppress it. But who the hell am I, besides a guy who has been in a same-sex relationship for 17 years? I guess I'm a loud activist who doesn't feel the marriage option is just an "experiment."

“There are some very strong, loud activists who want to completely redefine marriage,” Huckabee said on July 6, 2004. “Many of us (amendment supporters) feel that it has become necessary to reaffirm the historical definition of marriage. It cannot be redefined to be something that culture wants it to be.”

This term "redefine" is becoming tiresome. How about simply "expanding" the definition of marriage?

“Whether or not our culture should accommodate persons of the same gender who wish to share hospital visitation rights, insurance benefits, and so forth is an entirely different discussion, but to call anything and everything a ’marriage’ is unacceptable because marriage means something specific — a permanent relationship between a man and woman for life.”

There he goes again with that "anything and everything" code talk intended to get his right-wing base all fired up with notions of men marrying goats. When will he and most other politicians begin having this "entirely different discussion" in which we would be granted such basic human rights as hospital visitation privileges? (Hint: Don't start your timers just yet -- it's gonna be awhile.)

I have another idea. If marriage is a "permanent relationship between a man and a woman for life" then let's try that experiment. Allow a man and a woman to get married. If the marriage fails, neither person should ever be allowed to marry again. Set up a separate but equal system for people who have failed at marriage but just don't call it marriage the 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th, or 5th) time around. And since it can't be called marriage, then gay couples can also have the same recognized union.

After about 15 or 20 years we'd have a vivid snapshot of just how sanctified marriage really is.

The link to the article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette is by subscription only. I stumbled across this link with another bizarre quote from the presidential wanna be:

Huckabee, speaking earlier in the day at Daniel Webster College, warned audiences that the country is at war with a perversion of Islam and that any bending of U-S resolve will let the jihadists destroy America.

He said anything less than a resounding victory in Iraq and elsewhere would mean the end of US culture.

Great. Just what we need in the White House: another batshit purveyer of fear. God help us.

crossposted from konagod

A Love Story In Three Pictures

by: Minstrel Boy

I received this in an email from a Cubano friend who plays wicked timbales and still thinks fondly of Fidel. We disagree on the wonderfulness of Fidel, but his timbales will make you forget his politics and move your hips involuntarily in ways that mimic extremely gratifying sex. That's my kind of drummer folks.



(we meet, the dance begins, shy glances across the table become knowing and carniverous looks)



(we touch in public, only we can taste the bite and sting from the spice of knowing that what we do is wrong)



(at last, under oath, the awful truth is told)


harp and sword

Open Commenting Re-Enabled

by: Dark Wraith

spambotOn January 26, 2007, a surprisingly effective and particularly malevolent spambot attacked Big Brass Blog. It cut through my policies like a hot knife through butter, posting spam comments at an alarming rate. Fortunately, I was here at the moment it launched its attack, and I shut off open commenting quickly enough to keep it from wrecking the site. Unfortunately, while I was busy here, this same spambot was attacking another of my sites, and that one it destroyed.

When I shut down open commenting (that is, commenting allowed by other than contributing writers here), I explained what was happening in a brief post. Restricting comments the way I had to is not my idea of how this site should be run, though, and I have been working on a new filter that will stop this spambot's attack method. I think I have it figured out, now, so I am herewith re-enabling open commenting.

I must note that the spambot will very likely attack again at some point, and it will look like it is succeeding in overrunning the comments section. While I do not want to explain how my new filter is going to work, I actually need the bot to attack. Once it does, and once it has posted a couple hundred spam messages in comments, I shall briefly shut down commenting while I use the spam comments, themselves, to calibrate the filter. Because this bot is designed to pour in spam until it overruns the MySQL database and/or chews up too much server CPU power, I am confident that it will give me ample data for my work.

Anyway, for the time being, I am happy to report that open commenting is again available here at Big Brass Blog, and I encourage you to comment at will... even if you're a spambot.


The Dark Wraith goes bot hunting.

Good Luck Barack -- you're gonna need it!!

by: Jersey Cynic

I sincerely mean it when I say good luck. BUT I still think you're too young, and I'll admit it, it's probably because I'm older than you and I haven't realized it yet -- mentally that is. If you had a few more accomplishments (good ones that is) under your belt, I would consider you. I would also consider you because this country is due for it's first black or first woman president (but not Hillary). Even over-due, maybe. I am a white woman who burried the racist hatchet years ago when I was able to leave home and live on my own and not under the racist influence of my parents.

You're going to need all the luck in the world today, because we all know what you are facing. I truly wish it was only the age thing. But unfortunately it's not. It is for me, but for the rest of this EVER SO RACIALLY DIVIDED COUNTRY WE STILL LIVE IN, it's the "race card". What has got me furious -- AGAIN -- is that people like Debra Dickerson keep this racial divide alive and well. It was on the way out, IMHO. OK, this woman makes her living writing about Blackness (I can't believe there's a wiki entry). She writes for Salon, and Slate Check out this Slate article she wrote: 'First Class - Is it possible to raise rich kids who don't have a sense of entitlement?' I'll answer that right now for you Debra -- No it's not possible. I'm a mother and am experiencing the same issues now. I choose to call it lower class. It's all part of the
Haves and Have-nots. As far as I am concerned, YOU keep racism alive and well when you write Books titled "The End of Blackness". I had never heard of you until last night when I saw that you were on Stephen Colbert. Stupid me thought hey great, finally a black woman getting her chance on national TV to talk about putting an end to Blackness. Finally, I thought someone (and a black woman - even better) to say let's just stop this black/white thing right now. Let's put AN END to it.

Was I in for a suprise!! I guess I should'nt have been suprised though. It's never going to end is it?

Here's the link to the Colbert Show

THANK YOU STEPHEN -- you got her good!

Here's a few notes I took from the show:

Debra opens by saying Barack is not black. "In the American political context, black means the decendants of West African slaves brought here to the US." -- (learn something new everyday -- she probably wrote the wiki entry)
She says we need a new name. He' s not white either. He's an African African-American. (yes, that's African African, not a type-o by me)

Stephen suggests "nouveau black" or "a late to the scene black"

She says with a new name "you can say you voted for an african of africa-american stock". ( STOCK? -- Unfucking believable -- I hate that word.)

She says "He's still a brother to me, but really only an adopted brother."

Stephen says: "kinda like the red-headed step child. you can slap him around a little and no one would really care."

Stephen argues: "since he doesn't have the burdon of the black experience - descendant of slavery - maybe he could just carry the torch and you could just piggy-back on him?"

She think's this is what's going to happen, cause it's not a critique of him.
It's just a critique of white self-congratulation -- saying that we're embracing a black person

Stephen says, we're not really: "if you hadn't told me he wasn't black I would have thought I was supporting a black person, but now I won't, because he's not."

Then she says: "Then that would make you a racist" (lot's of noise from the audience) then he says "if I were white".

Stephen says: "I'm so not a racist. I don't see race. I've moved beyond that. People tell me I'm white - I believe them -- because I think that Barack is black."

Debra: "He's an African African-American"

Stephen: "So, it seems to me that you're judging blackness on the color of skin, not on the content of their character, which...I think....realizes Dr. King's dream..... in a very special way"

Debra: "I don't think you mean special -- I think you mean perverted."

She continues: "it's not the content of our character it's the content of our history and what we're doing by calling him black is obliterating the culture of this Kenyon father."

THEN Stephen says (you are brilliant my man) "Maybe THIS would make it more acceptable to the black people -- Maybe we could enslave him for a brief time -- you know -- nothing racist -- maybe give him to Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton for a bit, you know -- for the experience. then he could be freed -- no harm -- and then he gets all the street cred he needs!"

END

Well, actually I think I will end this post with the words of Mary Curtis, from the Charlotte Observer.

Here's the NPR interview link


Commentator Mary Curtis is tired of people telling her she doesn't seem like a black person — as if there was only one way to be African-American in the United States. Recent debate over whether Sen. Barack Obama is "black enough" to garner the African-American vote made her think about the issue again.


She says it's all based on stereotypes and it's silly.

"All races deal with it. Yes, it is worse with African American's. It's as if you trade in your culture for success."

"I don't hear anyone telling president bush he's authentically white. Oprah gets accused all the time of abandoning her blackness to appeal to her white audience."

"Let Obama be Obama without trying to parse every line he utters for evidence of racial solidarity."


Crossposted at Blondesense
09 February 2007

More Practical Math for the New American Century

by: Dark Wraith

The August 5, 2005, article, "Practical Math for the New American Century," published here at Big Brass Blog provided readers with some elementary mathematical tools for calculating the destructive force of a nuclear device based upon its yield.

The possible use of nuclear devices has returned to the news with rumors of an impending airstrike to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities to thwart its potential use of such enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons. Although top-level Iranian officials have denied that the uranium they are processing will be used for anything other than peaceful purposes, concerns in Washington and Israel have led some analysts to conclude that either Israel or the United States is planning to bomb the Iranian nuclear fuel production plants. According to the Defense Department, the sites where uranium enrichment is now underway are deep underground. They are essentially massive, hardened, underground bunkers protected by as much as 70 feet of concrete and steel overlain by another 50 feet of earth. To destroy them with conventional weapons alone would be impossible, so the presumption is that whoever carries out the attack would have to use nuclear bombs to effect the necessary level of damage.

CNN.com is reporting that Iran's highest leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is concerned enough about the prospect of attack that he, himself, has spoken out, threatening to mount counter-attacks on U.S. interests and assets across the world should the United States be involved in or spearhead a strike against Iran. His concerns are perhaps enhanced by what appears to be an unwillingness even among U.S. President George W. Bush's critics to take a military strike against Iran off the table of possible responses to Tehran's alleged refusal to comply with United Nations demands that it halt its nuclear fuels production. In fact, the relatively popular U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, campaigning in Israel for the Democratic nomination, joined rivals John McCain and Mitt Romney at a public teleconference in suburban Tel Aviv to make clear his willingness to use force if discussions with Iran fail, hinting ominously, "[A]ll options must remain on table." Aljazeera described Edwards' speech supporting Israel as "shockingly bellicose," indicating that analysts in the Arab media believe Iran should not hope for a lessening of its fears of an attack merely because new voices from an American political party in opposition to the Bush Administration are entering public debate on Middle Eastern matters.

While some analyses are keyed to a U.S.-led attack on Iran, others predict that, in the absence of swift action by the Americans, the strike will be carried out by Israel, quite possibly supported by the United States. A recent post at the blog BlondeSense highlighted a March 2007 article in Vanity Fair by Craig Unger, who described in ominous terms rumors about a coming attack on Iran. In the comments to the post at BlondeSense, the role Israel would play was mentioned. Specifically, the range of bomb yields in the Israeli nuclear inventory was mentioned, with allusion being made to the Jewish State's blockbuster 400 kiloton devices and its enhanced radiation warheads.

In response, I offered a summary primer on the means by which Israel would destroy Iranian nuclear fuels production facilities in a nuclear attack. Below is an edited and expanded version of my comment, which will be followed by the application of some mathematical calculations to add a bit more of a technical, quantitative feel to what may come.
Israel will not use weapons in the 400 kiloton yield range. That would be something along the lines of nuclear overkill.

The ideal devices for use on Iran's nuclear fuels production facilities are in the one kiloton range, which is about one-fifteenth of the yield of the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and provides sufficient destructive force for the Iranian targets without the problem of overkill. Bombs with yields like this are quite likely in the Israeli arsenal, although they might very well be referenced as "enhanced radiation" devices, since that term is sometimes used rather loosely. In my article, "Practical Math for the New American Century" [linked previously], I explained that there are three principal sources of destructive power in a nuclear bomb: overpressure, heat, and radiation. As the yield of a device increases, the overpressure component comes to dominate the other two in terms of kill radius. Hence, with very low-yield weapons, the kill radius of the radiation globe will be considerably larger than that of the concussive force (or "wind," if you will). Thus, very low-yield weapons (around a kiloton or less) will be "hot radiation" bombs, doing destructive overpressure damage at a smaller scale than the thermal and radiative components. To some extent, these make for ideal "bunker busters" when used in combination with conventional bunker busters because the latter can be used to excavate a crater above a hardened underground facility, then the former can be dropped into the crater, which will focus overpressure and compromise the structural integrity of the targeted facility. The hot radiation serves to cause virtually instantaneous ignition of anything even remotely combustible within the building itself via the breaches created by the overpressure component, acting as it does to essentially "crack the can" so the intense heat can enter and start what is effectively a secondary fireball in the contained interior of the place. Everything gets destroyed, and it's not so much by the explosive force, although the whole ceiling might theoretically come down, but rather by the baking at temperatures above flashpoint for everything that's non-metallic. As far as the metal equipment, like the centrifuge components, is concerned, that will be in a thermal environment quite possibly hot enough to melt just about everything.

Given that the facility is all underground, the whole place becomes a tomb—a very hot, highly radioactive tomb, but a tomb, nonetheless.
In the aforementioned "Practical Math for the New American Century," I derived the equations for the kill zones of the three types of destructive power of a nuclear device. Again, they are as follows, with associated lethality thresholds indicated:

  • blast: 4.6 pounds per square inch of overpressure;

  • thermal radiation: 8 Calories per cm2 (creating 3rd degree burns);


  • nuclear radiation: 500 rem.

The equations of kill radii (in kilometers) associated with "optimal height" detonation are such:

  • kill radius of blast = (Yr)0.41


  • kill radius of thermal radiation = (Yr)0.33


  • kill radius of nuclear radiation = (Yr)0.19,

where Yr is the "yield relative" to a 2.5 kiloton device. Hence, we would use as the yield relative for a one kiloton nuclear bomb,

Yr = 1÷2.5 = 0.4,

meaning that a one kiloton nuclear bomb has 40 percent of the yield of the baseline 2.5 kiloton weapon.

Before proceeding, it must be acknowledged that the equations above would be somewhat off for one kiloton devices detonated at ground or below-ground levels, since, as noted, the equations assume "optimal height" bursts. A little more specifically, if a nuclear device explodes in a crater already formed by a conventional bunker-buster bomb, the overpressure directly beneath the blast will be somewhat higher, as will the thermal component. The radiation globe will be contained laterally by the walls of the previously formed crater, forcing what would otherwise be a spherical shell in an airburst to deform into more of a fountain-like plume emanating from the crater. This effect, of course, will be observed with the blast wave and with the thermal shell, too; but the blast will be particularly affected since underneath the explosion presumably is a 70-foot thick stratum of concrete protecting the facility under attack. This hard surface will reflect a considerable amount of the overpressure upward. The hope, of course, is that, in so doing, the structural integrity of the concrete will suffer catastrophic failure or compromise clear through to the open chamber underneath, thereby allowing the fireball and some of the radiation to enter and do crippling damage.

These considerations having been noted, below are the calculations of the kill zones for the three destructive forces of a one kiloton nuclear device:

  • kill radius of blast = (0.4)0.41 = .69 km = 2264 ft

  • kill radius of thermal radiation = (0.4)0.33= .74 km = 2428 ft

  • kill radius of nuclear radiation = (0.4)0.19 = .84 km = 2756 ft.

Readers will notice that, unlike with a large-yield nuclear bomb, whose wide-ranging destructive power is caused principally by the blast wave, fatal heat and radiation from a low-yield nuclear device cover a wider area than does the blast wave. This is why low-yield devices are sometimes generically referred to as "enhanced radiation" devices or "dirty bombs": their largest kill zone is the one caused by the radiation from them.

Addressing the immediate problem of destroying an underground nuclear facility, then, using a low-yield nuclear bomb is not to the purpose of "blowing up" the place; it is, instead, to the purpose of blasting it open so it can then be torched and irradiated.

Kill shells, 1 kiloton nuclear bombIn a little more graphic, if wholly expository, detail, here's what should happen. A conventional bunker-buster device is detonated on the earth above the facility to form a crater, probably no more than 20 to 50 feet deep, into which the nuclear bomb is then dropped. When the nuclear device detonates, the blast wave will immediately create a spherical shell of wind, but that shell will be instantly deformed by the walls of the crater and the earth and concrete beneath, which will act as reflectors to create a complex set of waves inside and over the crater. A considerable amount of force will be exerted downward, of course, excavating earth above the concrete and then damaging the concrete, itself. The reflected pneumatic pressure will pump upward, but will encounter the echoing blast waves around and above it as they are moving back and forth and up. Those waves will cause some of the energy that had been reflected upward from the initial pounding on the concrete to reflect back downward, again hitting the already breaking concrete, further compromising it. Ideally, the concrete—reinforced as it is with steel girders—will be breaking away, with the chunks, pieces, and dust getting swept up in the "mushroom cloud" billowing out of the hole in the ground. The thermal energy of the nuclear explosion will be glazing the concrete, making it more brittle, and melting the steel girders.

All of this should happen in a period of considerably less than a second. The jackhammer effect of the overpressure, along with the heat being delivered to the concrete, might not create a catastrophic collapse of the entire ceiling of the underground bunker, but it should be more than sufficient to open a gaping hole through which the thermal energy can enter at a temperature of several thousand degrees, more than enough to burn anything of importance inside the chamber. Overpressure echoes will be pushing in, too, feeding the ball of fire roaring through the interior of the building. Radiation in the form of subatomic particles, ions, and isotopes of various kinds will deliver a thin plasma wave coursing through the raging wind and hellish fire.

The effect of all this should be utter destruction of equipment and people in the underground facility. The walls will cave under the blast and heat; the glass, metal, and wiring will all melt; and any humans unlucky enough to be anywhere inside will be baked to ash. The irradiation will ensure that whatever remains of the bunker is unapproachable for years, if not decades.

And whatever aspirations Iran had to produce nuclear fuel for peaceful or other purposes will be at an end.



The Dark Wraith trusts that readers have benefited from this educational article.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Thelma and Louise Style Imperialism

by: Foiled Goil

Thelma and Louise Imperialism
Over the Cliff with George and Dick?


By Tom Engelhardt

Let me make an argument about Bush administration Iran policy -- about the possibility that a regime-change-style, shock-and-awe air assault might someday be launched on Iranian nuclear facilities and associated targets -- based on no insider knowledge, just the logic of George-and-Dick's Thelma-and-Louise-style imperialism. [snip]

You only have to pick up the morning paper to find the most mainstream of official types in an over-the-top mode that, bare months ago, would have been confined to the distant peripheries of political argument. There's Senator Joe Biden, the very definition of a mainstream man, grilling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about whether she believes the administration already has the authority to attack Iran and swearing, if she does, that it "will generate a constitutional confrontation in the Senate, I predict to you." (You can add the exclamation point to that comment or to similar ones from the likes of Senators James Webb and Chuck Hagel among others.) Or how about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on presidential pronouncements in January?
"Much has been made about President Bush's recent saber rattling toward Iran. This morning, I'd like to be clear: The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking Congressional authorization -- the current use of force resolution for Iraq does not give him such authorization."
Former officials are now crawling out of the Washington woodwork to denounce Bush/Cheney policy in Iraq and Iran with the fervor (however masked by official Washington language) of an exorcism. [snip]

After all, to anyone not delusional -- which leaves out you-know-who and his Vice President -- a massive air assault on Iran, surely involving bunker-busting missiles with staggering explosive power, would seem to be an act of madness. It would be immensely destructive to Iran (and yet almost surely a rallying point for its fundamentalist regime); bloody in its repercussions for the U.S. (especially our troops in Iraq); imperiling to U.S, allies in the region; and, for the global economy, a potential energy catastrophe. A series of explosive events -- some thoroughly unexpected and so never war-gamed by U.S. military strategists -- could unravel the oil heartlands of the planet, making the administration's last several years in Iraq little more than an hors d'oeuvre before a banquet of catastrophe. The decision to attack Iran would be the equivalent of setting off an advanced IED directly under the main highway of what's left of global order.


Read the full article here.
08 February 2007

Practical Factors

by: Minstrel Boy

It came out today that John Edwards is keeping Melissa McEwan (the witty, semi-profane, and elegant writer who is the main force behind Shakespeare's Sister) and Amanda Marcotte who blogs at Pandagon.

He had them issue apologies for the offense their writings might have caused. Okie Dokie by me. What's important to me is that today, a Democrat did not cave. He didn't really come out swinging, but he didn't run and he didn't bow to the pressure. I really think that there is a decent streak in Edwards that is something real about the man.

In my post about the racist nature of the attack and how easy it is to expose these folks for who they are and what their agenda really is I described the coming election cycle as "a face to face knife fight." One of my older friends who lurks this blog, but calls me instead of commenting (yeah, I'm talking about you Bird!) pointed out to me that when I use a knife fight as a metaphor it has meaning beyond what most folks can imagine.

In between combat tours of Viet Nam, while recovering from some wounds received in my first tour I was tagged with instructing folks who hadn't gone into combat yet in some of the finer points of "hand to hand" techniques. These included how to use a knife.

I would start by first disabusing them of any romance or illusions of style that they might have had from watching tripe in the movies or T.V.

I would tell them that in the jungle, out in the boonies, it wasn't about the Jets and the Sharks with switchblades. There wasn't any choreography or dancing. It was about taking one of the most brutal ways to do damage on another human being and going through with it.

Usually I would warn them against ever throwing their knife. That's another thing that only works in the movies. If you throw your knife in real combat all you accomplish is to anger your opponent by inflicting a painful wound that really won't cause much more harm beyond the pain, and, You. Just. Gave. Him. Your. Knife. Dumbass.

Then I would tell them that there were only two valid reasons for being in a knife fight. First, the task requires absolute silence. Which, technically isn't a fight at all. It involves sneaking up behind the target, pulling their head back while creating leverage in the small of their back with a knee or your hip and jamming your blade down behind their ribcage and stirring the blade around like it was a pitcher of martinis. If this is done perfectly it takes a long time for the person to really die. Blood gets everywhere, they usually lose control of their bowels and bladder. Most of the time the blood makes your hand slip on the knife and you end up cutting the hell out of your hand. That's the best case scenario.

The second reason to be in a knife fight is that you can't find a single other goddamn thing to fight with. I mean, really, get a stick, pick up a big-ass rock. I would rather fight with a baseball bat or an entrenching tool than a knife. If it must come down to a knife fight, this is how it is done.

(at this point I would usually roll up the sleeve on my right arm so that they could see the crisscrossing of scars on the outside of my forearm. today they just are places that don't tan along with the rest of my skin, but back then they were purple and livid.)

Using your dominant hand you hold the knife with its main edge facing up. Grab the knife handle like you would grab a tennis racket. Point the knife at your opponent. Start stabbing straight in and up going for the area under their chin and above their adam's apple. Do that over and over, twisting the blade right before impact. Use your off arm to parry the strokes of their blade. Don't fake or pretend to strike, don't dance around, don't do anything but go straight in. You'll have to take your cuts and keep stabbing away. Over and over. It's not pretty. It's not romantic. You'll be bleeding and winded after a few minutes of this but suck it up and keep at it. You only have to hit this stoke once and you'll live. Cut and bleeding, but you'll live.

That's the kind of combat I'm referring to when I talk about a knife fight. That's what I'm ready for when they come again.

I'm glad Edwards didn't cave. I'm glad Melissa still has her job. Donohue and his idiot followers would never help Edwards get elected if he did a little dance at their children's birthday parties while singing "I'm a Little Teapot" dressed in a Bo-Peep outfit.

Melissa and Amanda will work their asses off for him. Bloggers and the rest of us unruly mob have every chance to have an impact on this cycle.

You ready for the knife fights troops?

Harp and Sword

I'm not a poet, and I sure do know it.....

by: Jersey Cynic

but Ezra Pound was the "poet's poet"
and an insightful man was he.

"And how much liberty have you [Americans] got, anyhow?” Pound said on an Italian radio broadcast on July, 1942. “And as to the arsenal --- are you the arsenal of democracy or of judeocracy? And who rules your rulers? Where does the public responsibility end and what race can mix in America without ruin of the public stock, the American brain? Who is organized? What say have you in the choice of your rulers? What control of their policy?" And in May of 1943, "Every day of war is a dead day as well as a death day. More death, more future servitude, less and less of American liberty of any variety."

Did you know that four of Ezra's protege's were given the Nobel Prize for Literature after he personally added to their work? There was Hemingway and Yeats. T.S. Eliot dedicated
The Waste Land to Ezra, and he also edited James Joyce's Ulysses.

Quite an intense crew, eh? What minds!!! Yes, some of those minds snapped. Even Ezra was locked up for a time in an insane asylum. I think his wife had some kind of "nervous disorder" also. Gotta be careful 'bout what you say -- if ya know what I mean.... They still lock you up today ya know! (Kentucky Teacher Placed In Psych Ward For Declaring 9/11 Was An 'Inside Job')


Following his release, Pound was asked his opinions on his home country. He famously quipped: "America is a lunatic asylum." Subsequently he returned to Italy, where he remained until his death in 1972. Pound was conceited and flamboyant, not to say obsessive, which in psychiatric terms became "grandiosity of ideas and beliefs."

According to his last living "pupil" Eustace Mullins, back in the 1940's-50's, Ezra assigned Mullins to go to the Library of Congress and research the Federal Reserve, as he had many suspicions regarding the creation of our "central banking system".

Check out:
Eustace Mullins: The Neo-Zionist Order.

Here in this interview, he argues that ... the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, drafted by German banker Paul Warburg and others in a secret meeting, defies Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 5 of the US Constitution by creating a "central bank of issue" for the United States. Mullins goes on to claim that World War I, the Agricultural Depression of 1920, the Great Depression of 1929, and Adolf Hitler's rise to power were brought about by international banking interests in order to profit from conflict and economic instability.

I think Mullins messed up a bit in the interview when he said --although Ezra Pound never received a Nobel, they did make a movie out of his book For Whom the Bell Tolls. Let's just cut him some slack right now. That was quite a bit of indigestion he let out there right before that comment! So he confused Ezra with Hemingway? -- the guy is 84. All in all, he did pretty well.

I started this post today with Ezra Pound
(I'm happy to see he's been absolved), because it was my original intent to post an article about the housing bubble -- a week ago! Guess what? I got lost, as usual. (It took me a while to get through The Waste Land)

Anyway, Mike Whitney is at it AGAIN with the doom and gloom (that's been just around the corner for quite a while now) with his recent post:
The Mother of all Bubbles. I stumbled upon Ezra Pound's name in the comment section of this article. That's where I got lost. I'm beginning to notice a pattern though. In the course of finding my way back, I seem to always return home only to find out that the AIPAC and the Central Bank appear to be the root of all this insanity going on in our world today. Israel and the Fed -- same shit, different day. Since neither are going away, how does one keep from going insane? I felt some kind of "nervous disorder" brewing yesterday when my insurance agent told me it will cost me $1400 extra to put our son on the car insurance policy for 6 months. "Sorry honey, no can do...I know you've been waiting patiently for this day for a long, long time but it seems that every kid is getting the priviledge of driving a car cause every other mother is working and can't wait for the kid to drive himself everywhere now. And since 9 out of 10 boys get into an accident their first year of driving we will be rated "high risk" for a while. Oh, and sorry, you're not going to work to pay for a car. Get A's and B's on your report card and they will discount it quite a bit for us. Besides, if you don't get your A's and B's, you're not going to get into a "desireable" college unless we get some scholarship assistance. We don't have an extra 25 grand x 4, (actually 6 cause now you need a master's to get your foot in the door). I don't want to saddle you with a $100,000 plus loan when you start looking for a job. You'll have to make due at the community college for now -- nothing wrong with that. I'll be hearing about a few jobs I applied for and that will help us get the car, pay for the insurance and gas her up so you can drive to school. I'll find a bus route for my job. I hate driving around lately anyway. Everybody's in such a rush. I'm on the verge of hurting someone too. I actually rolled my window down today and stopped traffic in front of the school while I went of screaming at some parent (in a big SUV) who dropped her kid where you aren't supposed to. Her kid -- and LOTS others, slows the line down (we're dropping ours off in the "requested" line). I really wish I could have experienced the horse and buggy as a means of transportation. I know you have to feed the horse, but right about now, I don't think I'd mind that too much. Besides, it may become a necessity again. I have already told my kids we are part of the Have-Nots, not the Haves (great NPR special series going on this week -- got lost here too).
You're just going to have to learn that you can be happy. It's a state of mind. It's inside of you. It's been there all along. It's called finding God.

How the hell can the Fed keep this scam up for much longer? If we don't take it to the streets pretty soon, we'll all be in the streets fighting each other if this Great Dollar Crash of ‘07 does really happen.


So, I've decided that to keep myself from going insane (or locked up, or both), I had best keep my mouth shut. I think I'll take that job down the street at this yummy eatery for now. All I really want out of this wonderful experience called life is a decent meal -- especially if someone else makes it. Now that's a bonus!!

We Haven't Come All That Far, Have We?

by: Minstrel Boy

Yesterday I was doing a drive by on the computer, checking the news, killing some time waiting for a producer to fax me some rewrites. I saw this at Shake's Place. She had just gotten a dream job as a netroots coodinator for John Edwards campaign. After a long period of unemployment just about any job is welcome, but, for Melissa to be able to land a job she was so perfectly qualified to do for a candidate she supports in her big heart was serendipity. Perfect.

Then the trolls come out. For the record, let me say that I am not impressed at the way the campaign has handled this. There is far, far worse down the road in this process. The culture warriors and the religious conservatives are running scared. They see all their hopes and dreams blowing up and burning in Iraq. They see their brightest lights having to be "cured" of their homosexuality. They see their dreams of power being dashed. They are desperate. Sun Tsu (5 b.c.e.) in the oft misquoted Art of War spends quite a while on the delicacy of dealing with a desperate enemy. He warns against full out assaults, he counsels the wisdom of always leaving an avenue of escape, he puts forward the wisdom of sometimes not fighting at all, because Men will fight the hardest from an indefensible position. Less philosophical but also true and germain was Clint Eastwood's title character in The Outlaw Josey Wales. "Sometimes it all looks lost, if that happens you gotta dig deep inside and just get pure mad dog mean." That's where the opposition is. They will be trying everything they can think of to disrupt the process of electing somebody who actually isn't insane and blatantly corrupt and willing to follow their dictates on what god wants us all to do. In short, they're nuts people.

In the comment thread of Paul the Spud's piece cited above I noticed the trolls coming out. I saw one, in particular, that was ripe for a little nudge. Sometimes, that's all it takes for them to reveal themselves in all their rampant batshit looney venom. The troll in question was posting under the name "whitebuffalo." I know nothing about this person. I've never seen them post anything before. Here's what I did know, just from the name. It was the "white" that was important to him.

The Souix and other plains nations have a very sacred figure called "White Buffalo Woman." There is no comperable Christian deity or parrallel. White Buffalo Woman brought the sacred pipe to the people. No Native American who respects himself, his culture or the cultures of other nations would do something as trivial as blog under that name. It was very obvious that what was important to this person was the "white."

So, being the brat that I am, I nudged away. I wrote:
oh and i almost forgot, blow me whitebuffalo. as an apache to see a fuckwad like you typing away under the name of something sacred, well, fuck the virgin mary running, it's offensive.


And, just like I knew it would, the shit started to fly. Someone else began to post under the name "Geronimo Was a Pussy." I was counseled to "not get my wigwam in an uproar." I was invited to "smokey peace pipe."

The funniest part was that one of them actually thought I was one of them, and in on the joke.

The racism we face in this society, the separation along lines as stupid as skin color is still here, and clearly drawn. It won't be pretended away or ignored into nonexistence. It only takes a nudge, a little poke here or point of the finger there and out they come in all of their foaming at the mouth glory.

To those who rose to my defense in that thread. I thank you. You showed your colors as clearly as the assholes did theirs. I will be very proud to stand beside all of you in the coming fight. Make no mistake about it, this election is going to be a face to face knife fight. It's gonna get ugly ya'll. Remember though, we can be in beauty even when there's ugliness all around. In the words of the Apache prayer of the dawn

Y'o-sen, bihil hishash aaii diji jooni

(god, may i walk today in beauty)

Harp and Sword
07 February 2007

Making Mayonnaise

by: Minstrel Boy

Mayonnaise is a wonderfull thing to have home made. The stuff in a jar is alright, probably won't kill you if you keep it refrigerated and tightly capped. The fresh, just whipped up stuff, to be used right there, with that recipe is the best.

This is what we mean at El Rancho Harpo when we're talking mayonnaise. The pinches of dry mustard and tarragon are purely optional and are there because I like them. Feel free to discard them if you wish. Basil is another common herb to toss in a pinch with.

You can make this just fine in the blender or the food processor. I use the whisk because I somehow have the idea that there is a consistency difference. I have no scientific basis to form this opinion. I have nothing but my own quirky sense of how things are.

As with any basic recipe in this one the ingredients are paramount. The eggs I use come from a neighbor who has chickens strolling around her back yard. They are of many varieties with a slanting toward the classic Rhode Island Red. They chase bugs and cats and small dogs. They are happy critters. My neighbor tries to be diligent about egg gathering but, from time to time, there will be a fertilized egg in the batch. There's nothing wrong with that, there's just a tiny mote of blood in the yolk. I will use them for omlettes or many other recipes, but if you're talking a hollandaise or mayonnaise if there's a fertilized egg I just use another. I keep my eggs on the counter at room temperature, for baking and sauces they work a lot better. If you have your eggs in the fridge take them out before making your sauce.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (8 fluid ounces) olive oil (i use garden variety plain label olive oil)
1 egg yolk (i don't care what you do with the white we don't need it here)
1 lemon (if your lemons are not fresh and beautiful white wine vinegar will substitute nicely)
pinches of kosher salt, white pepper, dried tarragon, dry mustard (Coleman's is the best) and a tiny pinch of lemon zest from the lemon you use


In a stainless steel or ceramic bowl (non-reactive is the key here my friends) whisk the egg yolk until it becomes light yellow and slightly smooth. Juice the lemon and add two tablespoons of the juice along with the dry ingredients and whisk to blend it all nicely.

Now comes the voodoo part. SLOWLY, SLLOOOWWWWLY, little tiny bit by little tiny bit add in the olive oil while whisking away all the time. This is a great time to have a kid or somebody hanging around the kitchen handy to help. If you don't have that I suggest having built a little berm of dish towels on the counter to hold the bowl steady while you whisk with one hand and add in the olive oil with the other. This should start to ribbon very quickly and that is the sign that the emulsion process is happening. If you haven't gotten past stirring a puddle by the time 1/4 cup of the oil is used, start over. You can increase the speed of the olive oil introduction to a very thin stream at this point, but never, ever, for any reason, should you Rush. This. Step. Just. Don't.

You can adjust the thickness of the mayonnaise by adding a teaspoon of water or lemon juice to thin (a little more lemon makes it delightfully tangy). Once you are out of oil feel free to adjust the seasonings to your very own taste. After all, that's the best part of making something as basic and common as a mayonnaise yourself. You get something that is exactly the way you like it.

It also opens whole new worlds when you are talking about things like potato, tuna, or Waldorf salads. Let us not forget what a mayonnaise this noble can bring to something like an artichoke.

Harp and Sword
06 February 2007

"The Trials"

by: Dark Wraith

As those who are regular visitors to my flagship site probably know, before I began The Dark Wraith Forums, I wrote extensively in the Medieval History forum of About.com, where my nom de plume was Selig Wraith. The Old English word selig meant "blessed," and from it we get the modern word "silly," one of several words from our mother tongue that once described an inner quality, but that eventually came to be associated with the outer behavior associated with that inner quality. Another fine example is the Old English word nic, which used to mean "foolish," but now is the word "nice."

My principal venue in the Medieval History forum at About.com was on a thread called "A Once and Future Language" that I started so I could teach about Old, Middle, and Early Modern English, as well as discuss trends and possible directions English might take over the next few hundred years. I commented on other threads as well, especially when discussions turned to matters that might have something or other to do with language.

The entire forum became somewhat contentious after a while because of issues like the corruption of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. Several commenters, using the backdrop of indisputable outrages, atrocities, and shocking behaviors of the Church, went into rather extreme condemnations of all things having to do with the Church and even Christianity, itself. Although sympathetic to the essential point that the Church as an institution was corrupt, I was and remain wholly disinterested in making some sweeping condemnation of all things associated with the Church of that time. Indeed, charity and widespread good works were hallmarks of Christiantity as it was projected into Medieval Europe through Catholicism: orphanages, old age homes, hospitals, and centers of teaching and repositories of knowledge simply would not have existed had there not been monks, nuns, and faithful among the laity to see to these awful and wonderful things in that difficult time.

I stopped writing on About.com for reasons having to do with the overbearing behavior of the moderator of the Medieval History forum and the increasingly vehement, Right-wing rhetoric being spewed by moderators on political forums that kept being posted in the sidebar of the Medieval History forum.

But during my tenure as a commenter—a term that made "A Once and Future Language" the longest thread ever there—I provided not just instruction in the spoken and written language of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, but also entertainment of several sorts, something I did on message boards I frequented in the 1990s, too. One of my favorite diversions was writing silly plays that I would post as comments. Readers here might recall that I published a play of sorts on AMERICAblog in late 2004, and I republished it both here and at The Dark Wraith Forums as a Wraith Classics installment in March of last year.

Recent comments addressed to me here at Big Brass Blog and at The Dark Wraith Forums have inspired me to resurrect one of my plays from the Medieval History forum. In bringing this one back to life, I have done some recasting, but the essential ideas and form of the play remain intact. By way of explaining the background for what readers are about to encounter, I should note that my plays at the Medieval History forum had two central characters: the Selig Wraith and the Dog. Both were spirits who lived by the River Stix, on the side where those who had just died came to be taken to eternal damnation, which was across the river. The Wraith and the Dog spent much of their time just being friends, occasionally traveling to times in history where something interesting might be going on. For the most part, they avoided major historical figures and events, though; but occasionally their curiosity would get the better of them, and they'd get into a situation they didn't much care for.

I never finished the entire series of plays, although in later works I hinted broadly at where the story arc was headed, as readers might notice in the play below. I did not get to the end point before I left the Medieval History forum, but maybe someday I shall do so here. I would have to republish more of the original plays, though, so readers here could get used to the characters and their story. Perhaps I shall do that someday, but for now I should be content to offer an updated version of one play.

Without further blather, I now present the updated, substantially expanded version of a play first published at the Medieval History forum of About.com on August 16, 2003.
Selig Wraith Productions

in association with

Medieval Musings Entertainment

proudly presents

The Trials



[Fade in scene]

[Sky in twilight; pan down to bank of wide river; water calm like glass: gloomy, murky]
[Pan toward shoreline]
[Two figures: one, a man; the other, a smaller animal]
[Voices of two conversing]
[Slow zoom]

Wraith: It's quiet tonight... no traffic at all.

Dog: Kind of spooky. Of course, I suppose it's supposed to be spooky here.

Wraith: [chuckling] Well, yes. This is the river to the other side.

Dog: [shuddering slightly, looking across the river] Sometimes I wonder what it's like over there.

Wraith: I shall allow my curiosity to go unsatisfied on that matter.

Dog: It's funny: as wraiths, our lot is to appear to people shortly before their deaths, and then we escort them to the riverbank here for the boatman to take across; but we don't really know where we're sending them.

Wraith: Oh, I have a good idea.

Dog: And that's another thing: We see them before their deaths, then we pick them up on the road here to the river after they've died... but what happens to them between the time when they die and when we put them on their way to the other side?

Wraith: [staring out at the water] It's not good.

Dog: [looking up at the Wraith] Do I want to know?

Wraith: [grinning, looking down at the Dog] Whether or not you want to know, I guess I should tell you anyway.

Dog: [staring straight at the Wraith's face] I really need to stop asking you throw-away questions just to make conversation, shouldn't I?

Wraith: [laughing] Don't worry. To us, it's just a story.

Dog: [sitting down] Let me get comfortable, here; I have a bad feeling I won't have occasion to be comfortable again for quite a while after this story.

Wraith: [looking absently back out over the water] Long ago, I had the same question as you about what happened to people right after they died, but before I caught up with them on the path down here to the river. I knew something significant had occurred because the souls were always so... so vacant by the time I found them again. Against my better judgment, I decided that I would follow one of my victims from the moment he died until he got to the path down here to the river.

Dog: This was before we met, right?

Wraith: Yes. In fact, had you been with me at that time, I'm sure I would have dragged you along on that misadventure.

Dog: "Misadventure"?! Now, I know I'm going to be sorry I asked about this.

Wraith: I went where I wasn't supposed to, I can tell you that much. My victim's soul walked right into this darkness that immediately became bright light directly in front of him.

Dog: Ah! The legendary light people see right after they die.

Wraith: I presume so. It makes sense... but that bright light comes from the end of a corridor that opens into a big room.

Dog: A room? What kind of room?

Wraith: Well, I got into the room, and there were all of these chairs behind a finely varnished wooden rail. The front of the room wasn't a front at all; it was a bright, grey fog... I mean, really bright. It took me a minute for my eyes to adjust to all that light; but finally, I began to make out what looked like two men standing with their backs to me. They were facing that bright mist. And over to the side was a cage, and the dead guy's soul was standing in the cage.

Dog: You're describing a courtroom of some kind.

Wraith: [nodding] Yes, but not just any courtroom.

Dog: Good Heavens! You saw a judgment! Cool!

Wraith: Not cool.

Dog: [Sitting back down] Uh-oh. What happened? And who were the two men standing there?

Wraith: To put it in context for you, my friend, those two were the big dogs.

Dog: Okay, now I have to hear this story.

[Fade to black]
[Scene opens in courtroom]
[Two men standing, facing bright fog; soul cowering in cage off to side]
[Man standing on left takes step forward, clears his throat, speaks into the bright fog]

Satan: My Lord, it is my pleasure to represent the prosecution in the matter of the dispensation of the soul before us this day.

[Man on right takes step forward]

Jesus: My Lord, I represent the soul of the deceased, coming as he does before this Court to be granted entry to Heaven.

Satan: I must object to this proceeding, Lord: counsel for the Defendant is related by blood to You; this presents a clear and compelling conflict of interest; I, therefore, move for summary judgment in favor of the Prosecution.

[Brief, uncomfortable silence.]

[Voice—almost youthful, barely audible—returns from fog]

God: Are you representing to this Court that the Lord God cannot be trusted to be objective at all times and in all matters?

Satan: [Straightening, looking serious] I would certainly not represent any such thing, my Lord... I am merely noting the appearance of a conflict of interest. I am certain that the Lord our God will always render a decision that is perfectly and everlastingly just.

God: Then proceed.

Satan: Yes, my Lord. [pauses briefly and looks down as if to think for a moment... looks back up] Your Honor, the facts are typical: a mortal human who has led a sinful life without honest and genuine shame during said life, having feigned salvation but never having sought redemption at any level of credibility whatsoever at any time in any place. All representations he would make to the effect that this Court should have mercy upon him must be dismissed for lack of demonstrable evidence during his life that he truly, in his heart, believed in You. His claims to the contrary are craven lies to save his soul from eternal damnation. This man was cruel, vicious, and unrepetent; he was, in fact, proud of his meanness and put it on display in ways that caused death and suffering to many, many thousands.

Jesus: My Lord, I stipulate that this man was a sinner; I further stipulate that these sins on more than several occasions reached gravity beyond...

Satan: [interrupting] Then we can move for summary judgment in my favor.

Jesus: No! The stipulation of sin is nothing more than an admission of the obvious: this soul belonged to a mortal human.

Satan: [Looking at Jesus] You seek to dismiss a recognized cause for conviction as nothing more than the "nature of the beast," or some such nonsense?

Jesus: [Still looking straight ahead] Each person is born with sin—original sin, if nothing else. If sinfulness were sufficient for conviction, all peoples in all times would be delivered to you upon death. We would have no need for judgment.

God: Where are you going with this argument, Yeshua?

Jesus: Grace was given to man as the means by which, though he be sinful and lost, he might also be saved.

Satan: [Becoming more pointed] "Grace"? A sleight of hand to save the lost soul? Does this "Grace" also undo the damage that poor, lost soul did in life? Does this "Grace" also protect Heaven from the corruption of a soul such as this?

God: The Court is pleased that you are so concerned with the purity of My House, Lucifer; but you will maintain decorum before me.

Satan: [casting eyes down, putting hands together at fingertips] My apology, dear Lord. I cannot but respond, though, to the claim that, by fiat of "Grace" or some other special dispensation, the sinner is forgiven of all that he has done: this soul belonged to a monster.

Jesus: Through me, he is forgiven.

Satan: [fighting back gleeful smile] And how is that done, might I ask my honored opponent, here?—Could it be that the Son is withholding evidence from this Court?

Jesus: [looking right at Satan] How dare you? I...

Satan: [interrupting] Setting aside his nature as a liar, which I should note compelled him in life to be the most pious of speakers in the hallways and streets, at what point did this miserable, human scum ever—EVER!—really accept you as his personal lord and saviour? WHEN?!

Jesus: [leaning toward Satan] When did I EVER pose that such was the categorical price of absolution? WHEN?! Do not put words into my mouth!

Satan: [throwing his head back, clapping his hands together] Lo, Jesus! Your own disciples put words into your mouth. Why? Because you left them to find their own way. Every lunatic, heretic, liar, charlatan, and soothsayer flowed into the vacuum you gave the world as your parting gift. What's the matter: was it going to get too complicated trying to make everyone "go and sin no more"? Send your weaklings out, but be sure they know they're nothing but a bunch of sniveling cowards because they didn't stand up to the whole goddamned Roman Legion on your behalf.

Jesus: People are the victims of the time in which they live. What am I to do of your demons who debase my believers as if it is my will, when it most decidedly is NOT?

God: [voice becoming more mature, feminine] Do not stand before Me, Jesus, and claim moral ambiguity. They have ALWAYS known right from wrong! ALWAYS!

Jesus: And they have always known the pain of mortal flesh that, by its very nature, separates them from You.

Satan: I am touched by your pity for their sad, sad loneliness... so isolated are they that they must wallow in sin to feed their poor, miserable flesh.

Jesus: I was one of them. I thought I was alone on the cross. [looking into the fog, leaning forward] Do you hear me?—ALONE!

Satan: Do not wail your pathetic lamentation in my presence, Jesus. Would you like to feel my separation from God... WOULD you? Eternal... everlasting... unrelenting darkness? And all the while, the mortals bathe in the sunlight of life... and all the while, even to the very last second of that life, they can hold up their hands and say, "O Jesus! You are my personal lord and saviour! Forgive me my sins! I am yours, I am yours, I am YOURS! [dramatic pause] [in mocking voice] And now, Jesus, please open those gates to Heaven, that I might sing the praises of our worthy Lord God forever and ever and ever."

Jesus: That is why I died for them.

Satan: Are you that stupid, son, or do you actually believe you died for some reason other than that you were nothing but a mere human? People die... they suffer, and then they DIE. That's what became of you, O Great Savior who had the book of your life written by your sycophants whose own lives were so bereft of meaning they needed your bleeding wounds to show them the way forward.

God: ENOUGH! Be silent and hear My judgment.

[Long stillness.]

God: [voice again youthful, soft] In the matter of this soul, My holding is thus. The facts are as presented, this soul having been of a mortal body and having committed sins such as to have fallen from My Grace. The issue is whether this soul shall be admitted to Heaven or be damned to eternal Hell. My ruling is that this soul shall be condemned to everlasting punishment. My reasoning is that the living person whose soul is before Me failed in his life to merit the Grace of God. Thus has Yahweh spoken.

[Satan looks up, smiling; Jesus stares at the ground, visibly shaking]
[Fog dims, becomes impenetrably dark]

Satan: [looking over at convicted soul in cage; then looking back at Jesus] Such a good proceeding.

Jesus: [turning his back on Satan and the Convicted] Take your spoils and leave.

Satan: Oh, I shall; but first I must go down the hall for a few minutes. [almost obvious affectation] Just keep an eye on my prize until I return.

[Satan walks toward door at back, slows down by shadowy figure sitting in chair]

Satan: [passing Wraith in chair, leans over, whispering, grinning] I just love this part.

[Satan exits]
[Long, dead silence]
[Jesus standing motionless with back to the Convicted]

Convicted: [hands on bars of cage, quietly, tentatively] Jesus?

Jesus: [almost looking over his shoulder, then looking away] The trial is over.

Convicted: But you said you love me... and... you forgive me.

Jesus: [shaking, almost choking on tears] Of course I do.

Convicted: [crying, clenching bars] Then save me. Please!

Jesus: [clenching teeth to speak] The ruling has been made.

Convicted: But you're God! You make the rules!

Jesus: [looking straight up, fighting tears] I do not "make" the rules; I am the rules. You have just declared me your personal savior; you have just recognized me as the Lord your God... and yet, all of this you have done when Faith no longer matters. Such is the way of the dead, believing that Grace can exist in the absence of Faith.

Convicted: And so you would forsake me in the same hour that your father forsook you? I cannot believe that you would let that happen ever again... I just cannot bear that thought. [brief silence] It was just... I just did what I thought was right.

Jesus: [openly crying] So did I.

[Door at back opens; Satan re-enters]
[Walks past Jesus, heading for cage]

Satan: [patting Jesus on the shoulder] We simply must stop meeting in the Wilderness like this, my friend.

[Cage opens; the Convicted steps out]

Satan: [taking the Convicted by hand, leading soul toward impenetrably dark fog] Come now; it is time we begin your eternity of everlasting torment... [looking over shoulder, winking at Jesus] Say goodbye to Jesus... [mockingly] Your client says, 'Bye-bye', Jesus.

[Zoom camera to follow Satan and the Convicted into the fog]
[Fade to black]
[Return scene to Wraith and Dog at bank of river]

Wraith: As he disappeared into that fog, Satan laughed hysterically... and Jesus wept. I found the soul coming down the pathway to the river. Just like all the others we find here, he didn't have a single word to say. Just another miserable soul going to Hell. Funniest part is, the guy had been the king—or ruler or something—of a country in the 21st Century.

Dog: He was a king?!

Wraith: Well, I thought so. I had gone to visit him several days before his death because he was such a horrible and powerful man that I was afraid he might actually be a harbinger of the End Time.

Dog: Well, was he?

Wraith: Sort of. But I appeared to him instead of to the one who was at the nexus of the Tribulation... so I got the wrong fellow.

Dog: And Satan's plan went forward, then.

Wraith: Actually, no. Satan had no interest in bringing the world to an end in that time. That's why Satan was acting like this was just another hapless soul waiting to be dragged into Hell. He certainly didn't want God to think an agent of the Apocalypse was standing right there in front of Him.

Dog: Now I'm totally confused.

Wraith: So was I: I could have sworn Richard Cheney was the king of that country, and that's why he was the one I needed to visit. Turned out he wasn't the king, and he wasn't the one I should have visited at all.

Dog: It was a ruse?

Wraith: Completely. I thought the putative king was just a puppet, but it turned out he really was the powerful leader, and it was he, and he alone, who was dragging the world to the end of all things. And to this very day I can't believe I didn't see the Mark on George W. Bush.

Dog: That was the name of the one who bore the Mark?

Wraith: And I didn't have a clue... then again, neither did Satan.

Dog: [shaking head violently] Good grief! That's still giving me chills, too. You actually had Satan walk right by you... and he grinned at you?! YE GODS, Wraith!

Wraith: Yep. And I'm here to tell you that I am resolved never to get that close to Lucifer again... That's why you and I are staying on this side of the river.

Dog: And we're not going upstream to that century you were talking about, either, are we?

Wraith: [looking west] That place isn't there anymore anyway.

Dog: [ears going straight up] Holy cow, Wraith! Can we go somewhere and drink about a keg of ale to calm my nerves?

Wraith: [smiling broadly] How about some ale from London... early 14th Century?

Dog: [wagging tail] Perfect! That sounds like enough centuries between us and whatever you were talking about that I don't want to know about. And while we're on our way, can we have a bit of poetry to get us going?

Wraith: Absolutely.

[Wraith and Dog walking east along river bank]
[Pan camera up as Wraith begins poem]
[Fading voice, echo chamber effect]


Counts the hours, th' wayward soul;
    passion's sinner awaits th' toll.
Drink life's bounty, suffer an' die;
    Christ will abide! This be thy lie.
Alone thou wert, before thy birth;
    soon to be ash—such is thy worth.
Precious souls, know not their fates.
    Live, love, an' laugh: thy grave awaits.




[Fade to black]
[Credit roll]
[Cut]


©2003, Selig Wraith.


And the Dark Wraith takes a bow.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Adding to an Idea from the Dark One

by: blackdog

Just finished watching a good program on PBS's NOVA when it hit me. Is it possible for an infinite amount of chimpanzees with typewriters to recreate the works of Shakespeare?

I worried about the implications, and even tried to study the Dark One's reply into statistical analysis on why this could not be the case. And I admit a bit of ignorance, but we are here aren't we? How did inanimate matter become us in less than infinite time, assuming no infinite being. Although 13 billion years is for most reasons approaching infinite.

Now I have enough questions in my mind to last me the rest of the week. Or weak, not sure which. Next time you lecture me, please make it more easy to absorb. I'm out of practice.

But I can't believe that the expanse of the cosmos rules us out, even though I am a Baptist who can read (joke). Spelled Methodist (another joke) from "A River runs through it".

The Betrayal of America

by: Foiled Goil

The Betrayal of America:
How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution
and Chose Our President


Vincent Bugliosi
With Opening Comments by Molly Ivins and Gerry Spence


Buzzflash book review:

With the ongoing crisis of America being held hostage by a rogue, runaway executive branch, we thought it was time to return to the scene of the original crime that made this horror possible: the theft of an election from the American people by five members of the Supreme Court. [snip]

How can you get over a man who lost a presidential election by more than 540,000 votes acting like a dictator for six years -- and doing everything in his power to build the institutional constructs of fascism?

As a Washington Post columnist (Andrew Cohen) noted on January 26: "Over the past few years, whenever the White House has seen or sensed trouble looming for its most controversial and tenuous positions in the legal war on terrorism, it has suddenly changed course, altered the playing field, or unilaterally declared itself beyond the purview of the prevailing rule of law. No legal defeats for this administration, no explicit concession of limits on its authority, just a series of tactical or strategic retreats that allow it to show to the world a visage of supreme executive branch power-- while at the same time allowing it at some future date to advance the same losing arguments. And all of it is done in secret, under the cloak of national security, so as to hide not just true secrets but embarrassing facts and legal opinions."

There are terrorists in the world, but Bush and Cheney are not conducting a war against terrorism. They are conducting a war on democracy, a war against the will of the American people, a war against the truth. [snip]

Now, with the ongoing runaway administration steaming ahead toward Armageddon, it is important to read this book to remember that all of this current horror and destruction of democracy came about as the result of a partisan crime sanctioned by 5 members of America's top court. [snip]

It is time to revisit the scene of the crime -- and Vincent Bugliosi serves as a legally incisive, impassioned guide through the mugging of democracy and the birth of a regime of insidious, carefully calculated tyranny.

Even George W. Bush -- as feeble-brained and psychiatrically-impaired as he is -- knows that if you can steal a presidency, you can pretty much get away with anything, even signing a death warrant for American GIs.

War Drums

by: Foiled Goil

Bush Is Hiding the Ball on Iran

By Robert Parry

George W. Bush is again guiding the nation toward a preemptive war - this time with Iran - without allowing anything like a full debate of the underlying facts, probable consequences of the conflict or peaceful alternatives.

Bush is following the same course he chose in the run-up to war in Iraq: he insists that war is "a last resort" yet puts in motion the engines of war; he times the release of alarming intelligence reports for maximum political effect; he brushes aside doubts and warnings; he then presents war as unavoidable or a fait accompli.

Despite the painful lessons from the Iraq War disaster - including more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers dead and Iraq torn apart by sectarian civil war - the key institutions of Washington, particularly the Congress and the press, are playing similar roles, too.

The capital again is possessed of an air of unreality as the clock ticks down to a likely military showdown with Iran. [snip]

Meanwhile, the Senate has tied itself up for more than three weeks quibbling about the wording of a non-binding resolution of disapproval about Bush's troop escalation in Iraq. The Senate is finally expected to begin debate next week on compromise language that limits criticism to the narrow issue of the Iraq troop "surge."

Washington's drift on the Iraq resolution rolls on with almost no one pointing at the gathering speed of Bush's confrontation with Iran.


* * *

Senator targets surplus sales to Iran: A Democratic senator wants to cut off all Pentagon sales of surplus F-14 parts, saying the military's marketing of the spares "defies common sense" in light of their importance to Iran.

Pentagon suspends military surplus sales: Sales of F-14 parts were suspended last Friday pending a comprehensive review, said Defense Logistics Agency spokesman Jack Hooper said.

"It was the prudent thing to do," he said.


* * *

Fight Against Iran Too Familiar

by Eric Margolis

With disturbing deja vu, the U.S. Congress and media are swallowing the administration's torrent of unproven allegations against Iran precisely the way they lapped up its grotesque lies about Iraq.

Intelligence analysts would conclude either: Washington is trying to bluff Tehran to abandon its entirely legal but worrisome civilian nuclear power program and thus claim a major victory after so many defeats. Or, the cornered Bush/Cheney administration is trying to provoke an air and naval war against Iran as a last desperate, ideologically driven assault against the Muslim world, and divert attention from its Iraq debacle.


U.S. can't prove Iran link to Iraq strife
Despite pledges to show evidence, officials have repeatedly put off presenting their case.


* * *

The Good Option

by DarkSyde

Are you losing track of the good and the bad in Iraq? We're told the Sunni insurgents are bad, but they're backed by Bush's noble Saudi pals. The Shiites are our default allies in Iraq, but the Iranians who are helping them are bad. The Kurds are good, because they're relatively peaceful and independent, except their peaceful independence is creating profound anxiety among our Turkish friends, which is bad. Al Qaeda is bad, we all agree, except when they oppose Shiite Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, which is ... what ... good? [snip]

The confusion is only furthered by an Administration warning that Iran may get involved if we leave, while telling us on alternating days that Iran is deeply involved. That Al Qaeda could gain a foothold in any vacuum left behind, while telling us repeatedly that the place is swarming with Al Qaeda. And we're sternly reminded we cannot pull US forces out or Iraq would become a failed state, in blissful, willful ignorance of the fact that Iraq is a failed state and, more to the point, it became one while occupied by US forces.

Cue the not-so-new battle whine, incessantly screeched by the same bumbling idiots who lied us into this sorry mess: We can't leave or the region will explode into tragedy and chaos! Even some of our allegedly progressive leaders and pundits dutifully nod their hollow noggins at this, often in solemn agreement with the very neocon sh*theads who've been fatally wrong on every relevant prediction they've vomited forth thus far. Yet, it's chaos now: [snip]

It is repeated ad nausea that there are no good options in Iraq. Which, in the delusional wingnut mind, apparently leads to the bizarre conclusion that we must condemn our troops to the proven worst option indefinitely. Well, here's an idea: If we pull our grounds troops out of this Conservative Cluster-#&@%, no more US soldiers or Marines will be stop-lossed into a wheelchair. Not one National Guardsmen will be called away from civilian life, only to spend their last seconds of horrified consciousness watching his or her life's blood drain away into a dusty Baghdad street. Surely that qualifies as good by any measure.


Retired Officers: Iran Attack Would Be a Disaster

* * *

How Congress Can Speed the Downfall of the Bushites

by Andrew Bard Schmookler

If things worked the way I would like for them to work, the march toward investigation, condemnation, impeachment and conviction would be fast and straight-forward and irresistible. This presidency is, after all, an abomination: it is a criminal enterprise; it is corrupt; it has flagrantly disregarded the Constitution; it has lied its way into a war.

Meanwhile, everyone has taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. If these politicians operated as I'd like for them to, then out of moral outrage and sacred duty they'd proceed without hesitation to prosecute this thuggish regime to the fullest extent of their powers. [snip]

This Bushite presidency has been enormous-- both in the usual sense of being huge (in the magnitude of its impact) and in the more archaic sense of being a grotesque and exceedingly wicked thing. This has been the most powerful embodiment of evil in the history of American civilization.

What has come together to create this enormity must be crushed and extirpated as thoroughly as possible. The defeat of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney hardly begins to accomplish the cleansing that is required. The American people must come to understand deeply the truth of what these forces are, and to repudiate them with all the passion and disgust that they warrant.

It matters not only that we defeat this evil regime, but also how thoroughly it and the forces behind it are crushed and repudiated. To whatever degree we fail at this larger task, to that extent the American Republic will remain in danger from the resurrection of this powerful evil.


* * *

(OMG) Bush Sees Legacy Tied to Middle East

President Bush "wants his legacy to be the long-term defeat of Islamic extremism. Indeed, senior officials close to Bush who did not wish to be identified discussing private conversations with the president tell Newsweek that Bush's plan after he leaves the White House is to continue to promote the spread of democracy in the Middle East by inviting world leaders to his own policy institute, to be built alongside his presidential library."

* * *

Next Time We March -- Dance!

quickening

by: astraea

It's deep and deeper. Impeachment's quickening, Libby, the lights going on, the rats cornered. Surely the rest of the world won't allow Bush to go on with his genocide. Unless we're (we are) doing piecework for the Saudis, the xtain crazies in China also have some high hold on their end (the old reach around...), the O so many things we cannot know.

O best laid plans. Very kinky, these rats.

Oil, oil, everywhere --- yet Toyota and Honda have thrown a great curve with the hybrids: the truth that we won't need oil, that the electric car is already here. But those batteries to run them. Who controls those very basic, elemental resources -- say, Lithium (which has "four times as much energy efficient as hydrogen fuel cells and can provide 250 to 300 miles per charge"). Where are they mined? Who produces what can be easily used? Who's buying stock, stockpiling? What will be better, come next?

Many ways to skin a rat.

*********

A round-up of good things we can do.

Sign up to stay informed at After Downing Street. On the right hand side, there's a list of actions. We aren't alone or helpless. WE ARE THE MAJORITY, and we're standing up for what our troops have signed on and given their blood to do: protect the Constitution. It's your right.


Resolutions Supporting Impeachment - A Kit for Political Activism


How to Create a Congressional District Impeachment Committee

Occupation Project Is Underway, Around the Country and in DC. Go read.

Join these actions - or organize your own at The Occupation Project: http://vcnv.org/occupation-project/campaign-descriptions



*********
http://themoonsfavors.blogspot.com/
05 February 2007

Fat Lady Sings Has a Great Open Letter to Obama

by: Minstrel Boy

Right here

It's very good. It made me confess that I had a friend who does t-shirts make me one that says "If you kill Obama we will blow shit up."

Which, because I trusted my memory is a faulty quotation from John Rogers fine blog Kung Fu Monkey - Lunch Discussion #145: The Crazification Factor

In Rogers' better style it says

You Kill Obama and WE WILL BURN SHIT DOWN

Either way it's a noble sentiment and both of those posts are excellent reads.


p.s. now I know what to wear when I go to the Sun's game with Sharon!

Harp and Sword

Great Article on the Truth of the Middle East

by: blackdog

This perhaps is the best read I've seen on what is really happening in the neo-con fantasy, and what really bothers me is that they so far are getting away with it. It's all for profit and power, and while we're at, screw Americans and all of Western Civilization. From Alternet, courtesy of The True Blue Liberal:

From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil
Monday, February 5th, 2007 by RLR
From AlterNet
By Richard W. Behan

In the Caspian Basin and beneath the deserts of Iraq, as many as 783 billion barrels of oil are waiting to be pumped. Anyone controlling that much oil stands a good chance of breaking OPEC’s stranglehold overnight, and any nation seeking to dominate the world would have to go after it.

The long-held suspicions about George Bush’s wars are well-placed. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were not prompted by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They were not waged to spread democracy in the Middle East or enhance security at home. They were conceived and planned in secret long before September 11, 2001 and they were undertaken to control petroleum resources.

The “global war on terror” began as a fraud and a smokescreen and remains so today, a product of the Bush Administration’s deliberate and successful distortion of public perception. The fragmented accounts in the mainstream media reflect this warping of reality, but another more accurate version of recent history is available in contemporary books and the vast information pool of the Internet. When told start to finish, the story becomes clear, the dots easier to connect.

Both appalling and masterful, the lies that led us into war and keep us there today show the people of the Bush Administration to be devious, dangerous and far from stupid.

Read more Connecting the Dots

http://www.trueblueliberal.com/

http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/47489/

There is no copyright on this article, the author wants it spread around.
04 February 2007

Liberation's Ruins

by: Dark Wraith

Liberation's Ruins


This graphic may be reposted with attribute.



The Dark Wraith joins the world in celebrating the new American century.


This graphic is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

The War on the Homeless

by: Konagod

I've been overdue for a good rant, so off we go. I can't think of anything more despicable than these new laws popping up which attempt to restrict or ban feeding the homeless. What this country should be doing (and is perfectly capable of doing) is declaring a war on homelessness, not punishing the homeless.

Now we have family-friendly Orlando getting hateful against the down and out.

Orlando, population 200,000, works hard to conjure the image of a true-life Pleasantville: a safe, welcoming place where visitors can soak up year-round sunshine and devour choreographed experiences at palm-ringed theme parks. But its spotless sidewalks, sparkling lakes and twinkling skyline belie a real city with real maladies — most notably, a surging homeless population that authorities are struggling to control.

After a law that banned panhandling was struck down by the courts, the city tried to discourage aggressive beggars by obliging them to carry ID cards, and later by confining them to 3-by-15-foot "panhandling zones" painted in blue on sidewalks downtown.

Despite these laws, the number of people living on the streets of the Orlando metro area swelled, from roughly 5,000 in 1999 to an estimated 8,500 today, dwarfing the city's shelter capacity for 2,000 people.

So in July, the city commission tried a "supply-side" approach: It passed an ordinance regulating the feeding of large groups of people in Orlando's downtown parks.

Those who wished to feed more than 25 hungry individuals at parks within a 2-mile radius of City Hall could do so, but only if they obtained a "Large Group Feeding Permit" from the parks department — and no one would be granted more than two feeding permits a year.

No exceptions.

For the first time anyone in Orlando could remember, not only would panhandlers find themselves in the crosshairs of the law, but so would those trying to help them.

What kind of friggin' sick society have we become where cities enact laws to punish those who help the needy?
***************************
"Have you seen the fat people walking around Disney World? We should make it illegal to feed THEM.--Jay Leno
***************************


This is all abhorrent enough, but here's the twisted logic of one Orlando blogger who supports the restrictions:

"Feeding the homeless only encourages more homelessness," one resident, with the moniker "Justin Credible," wrote. He then summed up his argument in an equation. "Less Homeless Less Problems Better Place to Live."

What a selfish prick! Like someone is going to choose to be homeless in order to get free meals?

Advocates for the homeless feared it wouldn't be long before other cities passed similar laws. As it happens, they were right.

Already, the cities of Dallas, Fort Myers, Fla., Gainesville, Fla., Wilmington, N.C., Atlanta, and Santa Monica, Calif., have laws restricting or outright prohibiting the feeding of the homeless. In Fairfax County, Va., homemade meals and meals made in church kitchens may not be distributed to the homeless unless first approved by the county.

Other cities, including Miami, are considering similar anti-feeding measures.

Screw these absurd laws. And screw these "tourist towns" and ritzy well-heeled assholes. What would Jesus do? He sure as hell wouldn't be seeking approval from any fucking county!


crossposted from konagod
03 February 2007

PHC Annual Joke Show!

by: blackdog

On NPR right now, I recommend it. Relax and tip one, whatever it be.

Bush: Gimme, or else.

by: Foiled Goil

Bush: Change Entitlements, Or Else

President Says Programs Like Medicare Must Be Fixed;
If Not, Tax Hikes Or Benefit Cuts Likely


Controlling spending requires the government to address the unsustainable growth of entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address.
"Unless we act, we will saddle our children and grandchildren with tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded obligations," Mr. Bush said. "They will face three bad options: huge tax increases, huge budget deficits or huge and immediate cuts in benefits."
President Bush proposes another contract on Americans by asking for billions in spending increases for his war over there and cutting billions in "entitlement" programs here, and further saddling our children and grandchildren with the ever increasing costs of his deficit spending and his illegal war.
"America has already spent almost $400 billion on this war, too much of which has been wasted on boondoggles like Olympic-sized swimming pools in unused multimillion-dollar training camps in the desert," said Reid, D-Nev. "The American people deserve better. New reports by the Congressional Budget Office and our nation's intelligence community make clear that the president's policies in Iraq are flawed, costly and unsuccessful."
While asking for $100 billion more for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, and seeking $145 billion for 2008, on top of about $344 billion spent for Iraq since the 2003 invasion, Bush wants to cut $70 billion to Medicare and Social Security.
Karen Davenport, health policy director for the Washington-based Center for American Progress, said Medicare provides economic security for people who cannot acquire health insurance on their own. Fifty percent of people with Medicare coverage have incomes below $20,000 a year, and nine out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries have at least one chronic health problem, she said.
That would further jeopardize the health and safety of those who rely on these programs.
"As he proposes $70 billion in cuts to these programs, President Bush will say that he is trying to address long-term financial problems in these programs," Davenport said. "He is trying to treat a symptom, not the disease. The real problem is that health care costs in the United States are out of control. The president hasn't offered any meaningful solutions for controlling health care costs."

02 February 2007

Texas Gov. orders anti-cancer vaccine

by: Jersey Cynic

This DOES NOT sit well with me at all.

Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

When I first heard the news that a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer was now available, I thought -- Great!! But, this is a vaccine that only prevents a girl from the sexually transmitted virus (HPV) that can cause cervical cancer. Yes, HPV is now the leading cause of cervical cancer, so I guess this is good news? This is not a vaccine to prevent all cervical cancers though.

Since I am, by nature, a paranoid person, I am not going to rush my two daughters to the pediatrician to get this vaccine. And especially now, hearing what is going on in Texas, and the connections to Merck and "Women in Government". (Perry has ties to both)

The long term side effects of this vaccine are not known, and that is a HUGE consideration for me. I am also very suspicious of all the vaccines that are given to children. Here is the current list of other “mandatory” immunizations: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, Hepatitis B, and chickenpox. Now, which one of these caused the autism epidemic in children? And which ones are still Mercury and/or aluminum based (or is that laced)?

A very close friend of mine has a daughter with autism, who was completely normal until age 3 or 4. She was born in 1989, a member of the Thimerosal Generation -- those born between 1989 and 2003 -- who received heavy doses of mercury from vaccines.

I have also wondered, for many years now, why girls seem to be developing much earlier (and much bigger ALL OVER) than previous generations. I've heard it said it is because of all the excessive hormones in milk, chicken, beef, etc. I still question what is in the vaccines. Seems I'm not the only one wondering Are New Vaccines
Laced with Birth-Control Drugs?


Even Women to Women gives Gardasil guarded reviews


So, am I being paranoid?

What do you think?

Oh, and for the heck of it, what are your thoughts on depopulation?

Resolve and Resolution

by: Dark Wraith

At a request in a mass e-mailing from MoveOn.org, I herewith publish the link to a site where readers may learn how to contact Congress regarding a non-binding resolution opposing the Bush Administration's plan to deploy 21,500 additional troops to Iraq. I do this with the qualifier that follows.

I have in previous articles left no doubt about my positions on matters related to the American-Iraqi War. Even in my use of that term—the "American-Iraqi War"—I make clear that this is not, as the mainstream media has convinced the public, something less. Specifically, it is not some "civil war" we happen to be caught up in. The incidence of a civil conflict currently underway in Iraq is irrelevant to the fact that the United States is at war there: we are pouring tens of thousands of troops into Iraq, we are spending eight billion dollars a month on military operations, our soldiers are getting killed and wounded there, and we are killing and wounding thousands of enemy fighters and civilians, almost all of which are Iraqis. That's a war; and because the U.S. is fully engaged, it is an American war. It is not a "conflict"; it is not a "military action"; and, most of all, it is not a "civil war"—not to us. The United States of America is at war in Iraq. All else about the fight is mere detail.

Who is fighting whom matters to our situation only to the extent that someone is fighting us. Our military personnel are getting killed and wounded, our treasury is being depleted, and our ability to project effective force, both politically and militarily, in other theatres around the world is being systematically and catastrophically compromised. Sectarian, factional, and political strife on the ground are ancillary.

The Congress of the United States handed George W. Bush the power to wage this war. That was not the first time the federal Legislature had avoided an actual declaration of war but nevertheless allowed a commander-in-chief all the power he needed to do so. To the extent that few in the Congress of 2002 had the courage to deny Mr. Bush the authority he then used so expansively, the Members of that Congress—and no less the people who elected its Members and the President—bear responsibility for what has since happened and what is to come.

George W. Bush will not be stopped with a non-binding resolution. Likely, he would not be stopped with legislative action that was genuinely substantial. It is not in the nature of his Presidency to back down or to stand down. It is not in his nature to do so.

Unless this Congress takes the steps—the long, painful, perilous steps—to impeach and then remove him and Vice President Richard V. Cheney from office, the American-Iraqi War will continue. Not only will it continue, it will escalate: we will revisit the matter of troop surges again when this current, feeble increase has proven insufficient. The neo-conservatives are fully prepared to deal with the utter failure of their use of military violence by volunteering the nation for more of it.

Again, until President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard V. Cheney are impeached by the United States House of Representative and convicted and removed from office by the United States Senate, the American-Iraqi War will not only continue, but will expand. It will use more American lives; it will expend more American money we are borrowing by the hundreds of billions of dollars from nations that are our trade, military, and ideological adversaries; and it will finally—actually, quite soon—turn out to have been the pale predicate to a war between the United States and Iran. Once that happens, the Congress will find it impossible to stop a conflagration of historic proportions from rising as an impenetrable, unbreakable tower of military engagements that will define, and ultimately eviscerate, the United States for years to come.

Make no mistake: we are preparing for war with Iran, and once we (or the Israelis) have preemptively attacked, there will be no turning back. More importantly, the ensuing war between the United States and Iran will absorb the American-Iraqi War, and in their inseparability, we shall have no further opportunity to stop the one that started it all because Iraq will prove to have been nothing more than the staging ground for a full-blown, region-spanning, "Middle East War" of the 21st Century.

That war, by the way, will be nuclear, horrific, and long. Somewhat before those features become fully evident, it will be inevitable.

To George W. Bush, that non-binding resolution being prepared by Congress is a dare, and he will take it. He is, in the terminology of political psychology, a Social Dominance-Oriented/Right-Wing Authoritarian Leader (SDO-RWAL). In plain English, he's a schoolyard bully; but contrary to the false hope that schoolyard bullies back down when finally, resolutely confronted, they do not. Instead, they become more violent, and their expressions of violence arrive swiftly, without warning, and without reserve. All standing up to a real bully does is make him or her remove vestiges of comity; what is revealed is the true nature of his or her kind in all its unrelenting ferocity.

Pass that non-binding resolution on George W. Bush, and watch what happens. Unless Congress has the guts to take its dispute with Mr. Bush far past toothless expressions of feelings, hopes, and wishes, the President will take that resolution as his justification for an escalation of the confrontation far past anything for which this Congress has shown the intenstinal fortitude.

Throwing 21,500 troops at the American-Iraqi War is dumping a couple cans of gasoline onto an already out-of-control fire. Bad as that idea is, passing a non-binding resolution critical of George W. Bush will ensure that Congress finds out what really happens when weaklings think they can stand up to bullies with nothing more than stern rhetoric. Bullies don't back down, not in real life, anyway. And they like it when their victims give them an excuse to get violent. Readers who don't believe this have never had to deal with an honest-to-goodness bully, batterer, or abuser. They are predictable, and underestimating their willingness to remain bullies, batterers, and abusers is a prescription for getting hurt very badly.

So, while I have provided at the beginning of this article the link to MoveOn.org, for my own part, I convey to Members of Congress this different message:
Unless you are ready, willing, and able to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard V. Cheney, then convict and remove them from office, stop trying to curry favor with the progressive community with your non-binding resolutions. Not only will you goad this Administration to act directly in opposition to your wishes, but you will make Mr. Bush and his people turn on you and on us. Given that the best you can muster is a worthless, non-binding resolution, and given that the best we as an electorate can muster is blustering showpeople like you, it is quite evident that we are in no way prepared for the consequences of challenging this Administration. Only when the Congress can do something far more substantial than mouthing toothless protestations will we be in a position to stop what will otherwise be the inevitable course of this country into a wider, more destructive conflict spanning the Middle East.
For the time being, far better it will be for the Democratic majority to pursue highly successfully public relations campaigns like its recent 100-hour flurry of legislation. That way, Mr. Bush will be able to wield his veto pen against the will of the People without having to get ugly.


The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums
01 February 2007

Cry, My Belovéd Boston

by: Minstrel Boy

"There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!"

- Patrick Henry

I have been alternately laughing and cringing since the cartoon characters vs. the keystone kops & the idiot officials of Boston began. I must, however, state for the record that while I am no big fan of the eastern part of this country and big cities in general I maintain a lingering fondness for Boston. I have some wonderful memories of the time I spent there. We owe the citizens of Boston a debt for the remaining liberties we have. They fought our revolution the soonest and paid enormous prices fighting doggedly alone for the three years it took the other colonies to join in. I have no wish or desire to see Boston become an "only a memory" like New Orleans.

While the talking heads of the news were chattering merrily away to feed the cameras, one of them started in on how "this is a hoax by college kids" or "they might have been left behind by careless students" and then, wrapped it all up by saying "these are all Federal Crimes."

I starting thinking to myself "Is it a federal crime to forget your backpack on the subway now?"

I don't think there was a crime at all. If they must, it would be littering or some other such bullshit. According to Arlo Guthrie littering's not all that bad a beef to have them hang on you. It might be enough to keep the two lads out of the draft when it is reinstated. I also don't think that the little press conference where they talked about hairstyles was all that out of line. The charges are that ludicrous. They don't deserve a serious response. The less seriously we take this farce the sooner it will all go away.

The fear they are so outraged about having been laid over the city was caused first, by the over reactions of the police. I mean, sweet holy saints and flowers, these were cardboard litebright signs. They didn't look like bombs, they weren't placed like bombs. The idiots that "detonated" them should have known that instantly. Then to have the streets shut down, the rivers cleared, all of that big hoorah was an extreme overplaying of the response. It's like calling a six alarm fire because someone had their TV playing that Yule Log loop in a model house open for demo.

Now, they want to throw a couple of kids in jail because they feel like fools and idiots? All that will do is make them look like freedom hating fools and idiots with a mean streak.

What would happen if people, just on their own, not in any organized fashion just started to "forget" their backpacks when walking around the city? There are four college campuses and numerous highschools in my immediate vicinity. Lots of students, lots of backpacks. Are they prepared to bring the city to a grinding halt every time some kid is forgetful? Even if it's done on purpose the kid's saying "oops, silly, silly me" holds more water than the vice president's claims of innocence in the Valerie Plame outing.

The city officials of Boston need to remember their history of loving freedom and standing up to tyranny. They need to start protecting the rights of their citizens instead of trying to cover their own asses.

They need to remember that there are lots of little backpacks that could just be left lying around. I hope we really don't live in a country where forgetting your backpack or posting a stupid little sign is now a federal crime.

"If This Be Treason, Then Make the Most of It!

Stand Up. Raise Hell. Have Fun.

by: Foiled Goil

Stand Up Against the Surge

From Molly's Last Column:

A surge is not acceptable to the people in this country — we have voted overwhelmingly against this war in polls (about 80 percent of the public is against escalation, and a recent Military Times poll shows only 38 percent of active military want more troops sent) and at the polls.

We know this is wrong. The people understand, the people have the right to make this decision, and the people have the obligation to make sure our will is implemented.

Congress must work for the people in the resolution of this fiasco. [snip]

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. [snip]

We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"
"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."

Children of Men

by: astraea

Interview with Children of Men filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón.

Go. Read. Take this with you:

"[...] the needs of humanity are subordinating to ideological needs. "~Alfonso Cuaron


Sweep the hands, dead, alive, imaginary, off your shoulder.



crossposted at moon's favors

Translation Time

by: Minstrel Boy

Edmund Ryan of the Hill, was an Irish Earl who was disenfranchised and outlawed by Cromwell after the Battle of the Boyne. Rather than fly to exile in France or Spain he stayed and continued trying to rally some kind of resistance. In this song he is hard hunted and seeking the shelter of an old girlfriend. The two were betrayed by a neighbor hoping to receive a cash reward offered by the British. The reward was never paid. The translation is courtesy of Donal O'Sullivan.

"Oh who is without
That with passionate shout
Keeps beating my bolted door?"

"I am Ned of the Hill
Forspent wet and chill
From long trudging marsh and moor"

"My love, fond and true
What else could I do
But shield you from wind and from weather?
When the shots fall like hail
They us both shall assail
And mayhap we shall die together."

"Through forest and through snow
Tired and hunted I go
In fear both from friend and from neighbor
My horses run wild
My acres untilled
And they all of them lost to my labor
But it grieves me far more
Than the loss of my store
That there's none who would shield me from danger
So my fate it must be
To fare eastward o'er sea
And languish amid the stranger"


harp and sword