Saturday, October 29, 2005

We've only just begun....

With apologies to the Carpenters I really don't feel that happy about Irving Lewis "I'm Not Calling A Formerly Top White House Official Scooter" Libby being indicted. I mean, I guess I'm happy in that someone-Fitzgerald-is trying to restore a bit of honor in an office that has been a nest of fat cats, cronyism, arrogance, and indifference to any laws which the Cheney administration deems inconvenient to their policy aims. But happy? No. This is how government should be run. It's comparable to Chris Rock in Roll With The New chastising black men who boast about the fact that they haven't gone to jail. "You ain't supposed to go to jail you low expectation-havin' motherfucka", he erupts. Similarly, I'm not really happy about a return to ordered government. This is how it's supposed to be run. I'm glad that Fitzgerald is kickin' ass and takin' names, but that's about as

It doesn't say in the Constitution, "a certain amount of grievous corruption, from time to time, shall be accepted." And I'm not so idealistic to see that powerful men (coz unfortunately, that's what they usually are) won't abuse that power from time to time. But when you have a public as indifferent to government action as the American public is now, well, one sees what leaders will do. Obviously there are ethical weaknesses, and then there are huge, gaping chasms in integrity. One might (or might not) say this is the different between 42 and 43. And all that after the Repubs assured us that the grown-ups were in charge in the White House again. What was Clinton impeached for again? Lying about sex. Eddie Izzard has a great quote on this. He says on one of his stand-ups albums that we recognize that there is a difference in the seriousness of violent crimes, by virtue of the fact that there is manslaughter 1, manslaughter 2, murder 1, murder 2, etc. Well, there is also a difference in the seriousness of lies, and lying about sex, as Eddie puts it, is about lying 8. So yeah, Clinton did commit a crime, sure....but I was just reading part of Kenneth Starr's soft porn report on the crimes, via Hullaballoo. You can bet that Hilary Clinton mad atcha is about as bad a punishment as you could ever wish on your worst enemy. Surely we all remember this photograph, taken the day after Clinton admitted that indeed, he had tapped that famous, beret-totin' young intern:

And in this Cheney administration, what are the odds this doesn't stretch at least up to Cheney. All these guys are thick as thieves. They've been notoriously secretive throughout the Presidency which usually doesn't bode well for transparency and openness. Why wouldn't you tell, at least some, if you had nothing to hide? Cheney has stonewalled on releasing minutes of meetings about energy executives (to which no representatives of environmental interests were invited). Bush has ensured that the papers of a President can be kept secret for 12 years after the end of the former President's term, unless both the current, and that President, agree to those documents' release. Then of course there is the refusal by Scotty McLellan to comment on Plame while an investigation is ongoing-as if that would really hinder it. And Harriet Miers' just trying to punk the Senate judicial committee when they asked her for her approach to any work she might have done for Bush or for possible promises made in order to satisfy other groups.

Then of course there is the fact that Bush has not attended ONE memorial service of a serviceperson who's died in this illegal war and that he doesn't even like news organizations showing pictures of coffins draped in American flags returning home. (Though the fact that the networks accede to this says as much about them.....oh that wacky liberal media....than it does about Monkey Boy) So thank goodness for Patrick Fitzgerald. (Gee, what are his ethnic roots) The man seems fearless and competent. The fact that Irving Lewis Libby told the Grand Jury initially that he had learned of Plame's name from one source and then another time from another, does not bode well for him. And Karl Rove...well, we'll have to see about him. But hopefully people will realize that government needs to be accountable. They're just like little kids-they'll run around throwing food on the walls and eating crayons and tipping things over-if the real adults aren't watching.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

2000 American soldiers dead in immoral war

  • This captures so poignantly, the loss of 2000 American soldiers in Iraq.

  • Please attend a a vigil to honor the troops who have died for no good reason in this war.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks, R.I.P

Rosa Parks has died at the age of 92. Her refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 spurred the involvement of Martin Luther King Jr. in non-violent resistance to (white) injustice; more immediately, her action prompted a boycott of Montgomery buses which forced the company to adapt its policies and allow its black patrons to sit on a bus without fear of being forced to stand or sit somewhere else. Rosa Parks is an important icon for people struggling against injustice of any sort. However, Rosa Parks did not think of herself as an icon. She was, as she put it, "tired of giving in." Many other brave black folks had refused to accept discrimination in public transportation over time.

The prominent anti-lynching crusader and journalist, Ida B. Wells, had sued and defeated an Ohio railroad company in 1884 for (physically) ejecting her from a railroad car, and from a seat, she had paid for. She sued the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company and won in her local Memphis courts. However, the Supreme Court of Tennessee overturned the lower court's decision. Nevertheless, Wells' courage in the face of adversity was typical of her life, one in which she lobbied for anti-lynching legislation and, after the death of three friends at the People's Bakery in Memphis in 1892, dedicated herself to stating the real reason for the lynching of black men-white men felt nervous about white womanhood being sullied. This was all the more brave since she was a black woman. Her book, On Lynchings: Southern Horrors, A Red Record Mob Rule in New Orleans reads as one of the most direct, clear-headed responses to immoral authority in recent history, if not of all time.

Several men in Louisville, KY showed similar courage in 1870 when they rode the trolley which was forbidden for blacks there. They were arrested and in spite of an attorney who attempted to question the restriction of their transportation rights as citizens, they were fined $5 for wrongly using city services. The riders then filed suit in federal court in Louisville because of the denial of access to city services. This appeal was accepted and Fox (the defendant) was awarded $15 on May 11, 1871. This prompted more boycotts of Louisville's public transportation by black residents...and so it has gone. In the work of historian Robin DG Kelley, particularly in Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, but in other work, Kelley outlines dissent by black Alabamans during the Great Depression, at great cost to them. However, their principled political stance toward an oppressive state is only ons small example of opposition to injustice throughout history. In the work of Sterling Stuckey, slaves in the United States engaged in the ring shout, an adaptation of an African practice in which people would assemble in circles, and to only the most limited vocal expression, dance. This expression of personal, artistic identity was a means of strengthening slaves, of fortifying them to survive their torturous, gruelling existence. There are many ways to fight oppression, but, as Rosa Parks exemplified, it's important to do something. The degree to which that lesson has been absorbed by people today is unclear, but it's the only way forward. R.I.P. Rosa

Monday, October 24, 2005

NBA Dress Code Is Racist

OK, so maybe this isn't of interest to many of you, but it's another way in which the corporate nature of American sports reveals itself. Perhaps you've heard of it, perhaps not. But the NBA has announced a dress code for its players. The announcement has not been received very well, and with good reason. Jason Richardson hit on the hypocrisy of the dress code by saying that clothes don't make the man. He says:
"You wear a suit you still could be a crook. You see all that happened with Enron and Martha Stewart. Just because you dress a certain way doesn't mean you're that way. Hey, a guy could come in with baggy jeans, a do-rag and have a Ph.D. and a person who comes in with a suit could be a three-time felon."
This is what gets me. We see news of people being laid off, of businesses sending American jobs overseas, of the increasing disparity between the wages of CEOs and the average worker, and yet still the corporate model is seen as the ideal one. I understand that NBA players are not paupers and they are party to the economic inequity themselves, but to attempt to try and clamp down on their dress, and enforce a corporatized (read: white) image on the (largely black) NBA stinks of racism. Clothing is certainly racially influenced, and to prohibit these guys from wearing chains outside their clothes, banning throwback jerseys, forcing them to wear jackets if on the bench, well, it just continues to re-affirm the racial overtones which are offensive to many of the black players who make many white execs rich.

With apologies to Al Franken, video goodies

Some great weekend video:
  • Al Franken in great form and with great rapport with Letterman and lots of good lines.

  • SNL spoofs the informal, not-at-all staged news conference Monkey Boy did recently.

  • Why won't Tucker Carlson just go away?

  • And some balm for the soul. You just can't beat Al Green, and he was great on Letterman on Friday.

Mostly Guardian, Most of The Time

Well, it sure does feel like Fitzmas eve. I swear to God, I am excited at the prospect of these guys' mugshots all over the Net. Anyway, here are some linx for a lazy Monday; very Guardian/Observer heavy; no particular reason, well, I guess there is-lots of interesting stories there over the last few days:

  • Account of kidnapping experience. (reg'n may be required) by Guardian's recently released correspondent, Rory Carroll. One thing I noted at his treatment was how well he seems to have been treated; his kidnapper assuring him of his colleagues' safety, his good diet (pita bread, jelly, peanut-butter, etc.) among other thing, the fact that he has a pillow and what is needed for a decent nights' sleep. This contrasted very unfavorably with the defensiveness of Rummy when stating that Gitmo detainees are the subjects of greater spending than most other, um, illegally-held detainees without access to legal help or contact with visitors, than any others in the world. And of course, as with most things, Rummy is lying. And now, while one would think Rummy would be glad that those poor darker-skinned folks aren't eating, it seems that those engaging in a hunger strike are now being force-fed. One prisoner receives the feeding tube just removed from another detainee's mouth-BEFORE IT WAS EVEN CLEANED!!!! But no, we're assured by the Gitmo spokesman, nothing untoward is going on. This is all part of a blatant attempt to discredit that most honorable of institutions, the US military, which has never been involved in flushing Qu'rans down toilets, sexually humiliating illegally-held detainees, allowing over 100 detainees to die in their custody, or anything else remotely bad. Nope, that must be another US military. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  • Very awkward exchange on Radio 4 (reg'n may, again, be required) in Britain. And as the article makes clear, and as I remember from growing up and my mother listening to The Archers on Radio 4 and other current affairs and what seemed, to a 14 year-old, mind-numblingly dull radio (Radio 1 all the way!!!), this station is usually very staid and button-down. However, I have to admit, that while Joan Rivers seems to me very untalented (though I gather she was, at one time, a very talented comedienne), rather inane in interviewing celebs before awards shows, and mother to a woman, Melissa Rivers, who might just be The Most Irritating Person in the World, I wouldn't have thought of her as racist. I don't know why Darcus Howe said she was "uncomfortable" with the term black. Quite frankly, I probably would have been as mad as she was if someone had said the same thing about me. You can listen to the whole show at the link above, or you can listen simply to Howe's comment and Joan's subsequent eruption. I admit I haven't listened to the whole show, but according to this commentary, he was baiting her and then making a discourse on race for a significant period of time, and at some point Joan became frustrated and responded, perhaps justifiably, to his comment. Anyway, it seems that she was upset, ultimately, that he had suggested that she had a problem with the term black. And quite possibly with good reason. As the commentator says, when one has two provocateurs on the radio, it shouldn't be too shocking that somethign like this occurs. Anyway, interesting incident, although it shows that sometimes it can be difficult to talk reasonably about race.

  • Great post by Digby the continued fracturing of the Conservatives in Washington. He makes a well-taken point that Brent Scowcroft, a close associate of Cheney and Rummy at one time, in criticizing their policy initiatives, reveals the possibility that the Cheney/Rummy/Rove three-headed monster may, to some extent, have played on Monkey Boy's considerable insecurities about saving his father's legacy in order to advance the dreadful neo-con "agenda" (to put it succinctly: either kill or jail darker people in far-off places where there is oil and then take control of that region). Excellent post...and the subsequent one is very good also.

  • Very sad article on the plight of kids in remote, earthquake-effected parts of central Asia. The response to this tragedy, while I'm not sure on the amount donated to its relief, seems to have been, as Musharraf has said, totally inadequate. Not that I have been able to do anything myself, but I certainly have helped in other recent disasters. Still, this is terribly sad.

  • And I love to hear from bloggers on the ground in Iraq and Iran-getting primary sources, as it were, especially given the paucity of journalists doing much over there. So I was happy to find Iran Bloggers and today, Words from Iraq. Of course, well, maybe not of course, but there is always Riverbend and Raed in the Middle, both of which I've been reading for a long time, if you want very insightful and fairly frequent entries.

  • A couple of great Sunday cartoons, from Doonesbury, Non-Sequitur, as well as a nice one from Non-Sequitur today and, well, a couple from the fearless legend that is Ted Rall.

  • And here's a nice bit of fluff on the band Franz Ferdinand, which I happen to like a lot.

  • I'll review the Queen concert later today, or tomorrow

Thursday, October 20, 2005

background noise eh?

So our Preznit thinks that Tom DeLay being indicted for his knowledge of illegal fund-raising, Rachel Dratch Harriet Miers' sabotaging her own nomination, Plamegate, oh yeah, and that pesky little war over in Iraq....and on-and-on is just "background noise". Well Monkey Boy, as you said the turrists could hear us a few years ago, the background noise is a bit louder to over 60% of Americans....

  • Amazing to me that Rachel Dratch Harriet Miers has the nerve to simply, in response to a request for all information that she had which might have been requested by the Cheney administration in order to re-assure or otherwise inform groups about her credentials, use one word, and write "no". Really, does she think she's involved with a high-school debating society? This is the US Senate, and regardless of their honesty, or lack thereof, why you be so dismissive and curt? These are the people who will or will not assure you a lifetime position on the bench. I think she should stick to comedy. She's quite funny.

  • Amazing the nerve of the Cheney administration in trying to spin everything. I mean, just how many people have to die in the administration's hands for them to say, "Yup, the military has a culture of abuse." Over 100 have died in the care of such a supposedly professional army. Really. And the fact that they make such an effort to spin conjures up the Shakespearean line, "thou doth protest too much". I mean, at what point does Scott McClellan just admit that everything, or at least all the most serious allegations are actually true? The fact that there have been so many you really think that everyone/anyone believes anything that comes out of your mouth? It's also amazing that the administration doesn't just apologize. OK, at that point it would just appear insincere and would certainly annoy me, as did the IRA (and Protestant paramilitary groups') apologies that claimed they weren't interested in killing anyone but the military. Oh, well, glad to hear the bomb was supposed to discriminate. I'm sure that's very heartening to the families of the victims who were military/paramilitary members. Still, would it kill them (poor choice of words) to show a bit of empathy for once? Then again, as I've said, no one would really believe them. I know that basically anything they do, I question the motive and there is always some ulterior motive underlying what they do. So I guess they may as well continue Keeping Up Appearances and I'll keep scorning them.

  • Another Conservative trashes Rice, the secrecy of the Cheney administration, its abuses etc. Terribly sad really to see what is happening to this country. And I still don't think we seen nothin' yet.

  • Very sad news about our troops, and not terribly surprising. Still, this is the sort of news that is going to be more and more common as time goes on and our soldiers are forced to fight in increasingly stressful situations where their presence and involvement is not wanted. 1/4 of troops come home with some physical or mental problems. Do you know what sort of problem this will cause as a weight on our health-care budget and on the VA in the future? And that's not blaming these brave men and women. I don't blame them for serving and I appreciate their courage. There is financial incentive and obviously opportunities for a better life that motivates people, not to mention, of course, patriotism. But the physical, and even more serious, mental problems resulting from this incredibly ill-begotten war will be huge. Maybe the American people will see the real cost of war this time, and also, how and why it happens and whether it's really worth it. Also perhaps they'll see the importance of holding their leaders accountable. But obviously the effect on families for years and years is going to be huge as part of the fall-out from this war. Historical revisionism will run rampant and unscrupulous politicians of the future will blame feckless, shiftless vets whose homelessness, drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc, was all oh-so-sad. They'll shift the blame onto poor people, the direction of whose lives will have been forever, and irreversibly, altered, during long will we be in Iraq? 10 years? 12? 15? Lord only knows.

  • As Eddie Izzard said about the gun lobby, (paraphrasing) they love to say that guns don't kill people, people kill people. But the guns help. You'd have to have a pretty bad heart for someone to turn and go __pow__ and you die right there. Yes, this is just what we need. Monkey Boy firming up his base. (Surely there are about eight dirty jokes in that sentence) So now the good ol' gun lobby, Wayne LaPierre, Moses, etc have ensured that gun manufacturers can't be sued in civil litigation by victims of gun violence. Ah, well it's good to know that apparently whether you get a gun or not is not indicative of your state of mind or the fact that it might be used to kill someone. Even if they're not used for violent crime, apparently it's just that one person is madder than another, it's nothing to do with the gun lobby. And I love how the story states that the law's backers are happy because it will keep them in business (not that the guns they make will be responsible for any deaths, no sirree; but they're glad to be able to make guns that will not be responsible for killing anyone). Seriously though, how do you totally exempt the gun industry? When the murderer is tried in court, or on Law & Order, I guess they'll have to curtail the interest on the weapon used in the murder because apparently, the weapon's not important. Guns don't kill people. People kill people. But guns help.

  • That Wacky Liberal Media, item 1871. Damn that liberal media, damn socialists with their constant subsidization of poor lazy people and taking money from hard-working heirs and trust fund babies. Yeah, that NY Times with its constant pinko, Commie, profit-sharing Socialistic junk. Yeah, GE wants to share some of its weapons-making technologies with its competitors, ha ha. Yup, how can a Conservative get the word out with all those pinko, wacko, bleedin' heart libs around? Well, apparently, quite well. Seems Ed Schultz' radio show, which was to have begun airing on Monday on Armed Forces Radio, was cancelled the day it was to have begun running. And of course, not-at-all-coincidentally, who confirmed the cancellation? Allison Barber, the Pentagon official who rehearsed the US troops for Monkey Boy's informal discussion photo op with them. Schultz had been critical of her. So it was a total coincidence that she was the one to nix his radio show....of course.

  • Oh yeah, and apparently we've invaded Syria too. Nice. Just wonderful. It really wouldn't surprise me with these psychos in government.

  • OK, so a couple cartoons just to end on a (darkly) entertaining note. Dilbert, Ted Rall, and This Modern World, another This Modern World (this one truly very very ingenious and speaks to how blindly loyal some Republicans are to their "leaders"), and the 10/17 Slowpoke Comics.

  • And I swear I'm not making this story up. I've been working for a temp agency recently and yesterday, four of us went to a nearby town in two cars, one of them mine, another belonging to Rod (names have been changed to protect-oh screw it, I wanted to change them). Well, Rod was low (real low) on gas and actually asked for a cash advance on his paycheck. They couldn't hook him up with that though so he hoped he'd make it back from where we were working (a fair distance). I had a tire in which the air pressure had dropped and I'd been meaning to fill it up. Well, the passenger in Rod's car, Carol was a big woman-probably 250 lbs. and maybe 5'2". So as we finish the job, I set out a short time ahead of Rod. But we stop to get a drink and be extorted get gas. So Ron and his passenger overtake us. So Tracy and I get back on the road and are heading back when she suddenly practically wakes the dead, yelling, "THEY'RE WALKING DOWN THE FREEWAY." My mind was in auto-pilot somewhere; I mean, it's not like you need to concentrate on the road on southern California freeways; so I'm not sure what she's talking about. But I figure it out just about right away and realize it's Ron and his big passenger. They've run out of gas and are walking to the exit. We pull up behind them and the big woman almost does a jig on the highway shoulder. So they get in and drive on a few minutes and all of a sudden the car starts fishtailing. Well, I don't have a big car, and really, fitting four people in it is a feat rarely attempted, let alone accomplished. So where has Carol been sitting? That's right, over the tire that had the low air pressure. Her size, combined with the fact my car can comfortably seat one, meant that when she sat over the wheel well, the air pressure in that tire finally threw up its hands and admitted it couldn't take it anymore. fishtailed a bit and then I stabilized it. We drove slowly down our exit and along city streets to get home. Still, hard to imagine a more eventful 15 minute drive back from work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

See what a fool I've been

In tribute to the upcoming Queen concert I will be attending, have to excerpt these words from a great Queen song. This goes out to all the pundits who cluelessly-or more worryingly-with malice aforethought, rubber-stamped Bushie's acts over the past several years. It really is incredibly funny to see all the wingnuts turning on each other, as though their diversity of thought was so great. They are incredibly small-minded which makes their implosion all the more enjoyable. See What a Fool I've Been then could apply to folks like George Will and William Kristol who recently blistered the Bush administration for their nomination of Rachel Dratch Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court. It really is quite funny to see all these wingnuts tearing themselves up. As Billmon said today it feels as though this is the run-up to a great disaster. One's not sure exactly what's going to go down in the next several days, but Larry Johnson has an tantalizing tidbit today. It's nearly better to keep the whole dishonest lot of 'em shitting 'emselves for a while; who knows, maybe they'll get so nervous they'll spill more beans, just as when a plane seems destined to go down, folks try and right their accounts and reveal things that they have to atone for. Then the plane recovers and..oops, cat's out of the bag...and you're screwed.