Sunday, July 30, 2006
Shadows of Reflections
Who are we, here in this time with megalomaniacs in charge of rogue nations with too much power and too little compassion? Whither the human race?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Well, the Salem witchcraft trial is in my opinion one of the foundation events of American history. And it was an event where you can call it a clash between mythology and politics if you like. Because it depended very much on a belief in the invisible world. Cotton Mather, who was a very prominent divine at the time, wrote a book called THE WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD, which was all about the behavior of witches.
And the devil. And this is what people believed. They weren’t being hypocrites when they did these things. They were actually scared of witchcraft and the devil. And they believed that the devil could work his way into their community through witches, so it was serious business. But it was also a hysteria. The surprise to me has been all of the stuff I learned long ago. I thought, “Nobody’s going to be interested in this again. You know what good is knowing 17th century theology ever going to be to me? Or anybody else. Surely nobody’s interested.” And now suddenly it’s all come back. Because things do go around in cycles.
Here we are, in the twenty-first century, back to the beginning.
What do we consider holy? Our tribe/nation, is that our foundation? Could it be one particular formulation of G_D, or G_dess? Could we be ... better ... ? Why do we need the holy?
I think Americans used to believe that being better was a goal to be pursued. That doesn’t feel true any more. We BELIEVE we’re ALREADY better. Or as good as dirty, fallen descendents of the original Sinners can be. You can’t really get better in a world where there is something holy ... people will always fall short of that standard, and advancement will have to be deferred to the next world. This tension, between fundamentalists who believed in some version of holy and enlightened, rational thinkers has been boiling under the surface of the history of the development of the country.
In a rational world, what does “better” mean? Harmony, perhaps, or maximizing the opportunities and talents of people in a society. Improving as many people’s lot in life through cooperation and agreement, that COULD be the organizing principle we follow, if we chose to have an honest, open and vigorous political culture.
The right in this country, and far too many of the silent herd that run along behind them, buy into the idea that there are hard and fast rules to follow, laid out in old, oft-mistranslated old books. Too many think that the assertion of violence and dominance is the way to settle differences in this dirty, evil, fallen old world. Too many think that might makes right, and talking too much, sitting at too many tables, trying to agree on rules are fools games. Too many love the simple-minded sports metaphor when speaking of life and other, poorer people’s deaths.
So lets talk about sports. Lets remember that there is no game if the teams playing haven’t agreed on a rulebook. The game is no fun if the playing field isn’t level and clearly marked, if there are no referees or umpires. Nobody but the dominators REALLY likes when a sport is dominated by a Yankees or a Cowboys, by teams who flaunt rules and buy championship rosters.
We quit talking about making rules that we could all agree on, preferring instead to allow the rich and the violent-minded to impose a set of rules upon the rest of us. This we can do, THAT we can’t. Don’t even talk about THAT. Don’t talk about the mountains of treasure being looted through black budgets that fund our enormous military. Don’t talk about the roots of the righteous anger fueling the rage in middle eastern insurgencies, the repeated outrages committed by the state of Israel over the course of decades. Don’t talk about how the drug war itself is destroying communities across our country, NOT the drugs themselves, the war against them. What kind of society makes war on itself? Only one insane, driven mad by musty old books and agreed upon boundaries of discourse. Only a people who had given up on redemption in THIS world would maintain such a large, growing and brutal prison system. The greedy and brutal insist on ALL of these things, wrapping themselves in the Flag and holding up the Bible before them as a shield to deflect any and all cries for change, pleas for Justice.
Back to the beginning, to Cotton Mathers who impose harsh punishment on the dark threat posed by anybody painted as a threat. A nation of people who war upon themselves, who lash out madly at everyone else around, will eventually find itself isolated and attacked, a self-fulfilling cycle that will only give those in charge an excuse to ramp up the oppression and violence, until we find all of us being burned at the stake.
Image from Queensrÿche’s - Operation Mindcrime 2.
Friday, July 28, 2006
fri rdm 10 - assorted and sundry recommendations edition
A few good things I’m enjoying lately:
Okay, maybe “enjoy” isn’t the right word for this, but it is a rich and sad chance to say goodbye to an artist who’s work over the years has greatly enhanced my life.
This is a very cool and eclectic mix of styles, held together by Mike Patton and Dan the Automator. Various vocalists, including Norah Jones, Bebel Gilberto and Kool Keith help make this record a lot of fun. Check it out.
BBC America is showing a marathon of the first season of the Brit Buffy clone tomorrow night. Only it’s NOT really a Buffy clone, despite the lazy tropes of marketing flacks and reviewers. It’s more of a combination of “Dark Shadows” and Veronica Mars than a BTVS clone. The ONLY thing this show has in common with Buffy is the attractive female protagonists. History, which in the Buffyverse is pretty much an icky inconvenience that imposes itself on the Scooby gang, pervades and overrides EVERYTHING that takes place on “Hex”. Life is a kind of perpetual now where the same battles between good and evil are fought in a sort of dark “Groundhog’s Day”. The show takes risks that no American show would take, exploring abortion, religion and other topics with a refreshing bluntness. While “Hex” isn’t a classic, it’s good fun and a twisty ride so far. I can’t wait to see the season finale next Thursday.
These Sunday night movies present gripping and sometimes chilling takes on old horror tales. Sometimes erotic, sometimes just flat-out disturbing, filmmakers in South Korea and Japan are creating anew the horror genre. This week is A Snake of June, a story about a counselor at a suicide hotline who is drawn into a torrid yet removed affair with a mysterious caller.
So, those are some good things I know I’m enjoying. Follow the links, check them out ... maybe you’ll like them too.
Today’s random ten:
- "Volo Vivace” - Tuxedomoon
- "Lovers in the Backseat” - Scissor Sisters
- "Sheila Take a Bow” - The Smiths
- "I Want ...” - Sugarcubes
- "In the House the I Call Home” - X
- "What God Wants, Part II” - Roger Waters
- "Change of the Guard” - Steely Dan
- "Remember Now” - Queensrÿche
- “Twisted" - Stan Ridgeway
- "Down By the River” - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Democrat's Dilemma
Reading about the debate for the Democatic nomination for the Governor of New York on Tuesday, I was struck by how difficult it is to find a candidate to get excited about. Initially I have been interested in Elliott Spitzer, our Attorney General. His competitor Tom Suozzi also has things to offer. From the New York Times (registration required):
The candidates, after all, had expressed real differences on a number of real issues, from the death penalty (which Mr. Spitzer supports and Mr. Suozzi does not) to medical marijuana (which Mr. Suozzi supports and Mr. Spitzer does not) to gay marriage (which Mr. Spitzer supports and Mr. Suozzi does not). They even began, tentatively, to discuss how to address a court order calling on the state to spend billions more on New York City’s schools.
On the one hand Spitzer has done a good job as Atty. General, he has taken the corporations to task for a variety of things. Although he should have pushed harder, he has done more than anyone in power to stand up to these crooks. His stance on gay marriage makes me want to stand up and cheer. Then comes the sound of the other shoe dropping. His stances on the death penalty and on medical marijuana are unacceptable to me. Mr. Suozzi is against gay marriage but against the death penalty and for medical marijuana. He doesn’t come across nearly as impressive as Spitzer in his interviews and then again, there is that anti-gay marriage stance that makes me want to hurl.
This is the kind of thing liberals have to deal with all the time now. It’s hard to find Republicans who haven’t run in lockstep with Bush for almost 6 long years now. The Democrats we have are half in league with them. It’s unbelievably depressing not to find true progressives on the national stage. i refuse to give up hope but it’s been a long dry time for us and I can’t wait for the real McCoy to arrive.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Puppets Yanking A Marionette's Strings
Yes, YES, YES ... The Puppet Party can out-Zionist the über-Zionist Bushies:
"It is unacceptable that high-ranking officials of the new Iraqi government, whom we have supported with untold precious American blood—some 2,600 by now—hundreds of billions of dollars, should engage in the most vicious, unacceptable, atrocious statements against the state of Israel, our friend and ally, and the Jewish people,” the lawmaker said at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday.
“Tomorrow will be an opportunity for the prime minister to express his regret. The whole world will be watching."
"We OWN you, Iraqi “government”, just as many Iraqis suspect, and don’t you forget it", bellow Reid, Schumer and the rest of the spineless sellout puppets. After all, if anybody KNOWS about being owned, it’s the DC Vichy Dems, and they’re going to make sure that the other toys remember their place, and which agenda EVERYBODY is supposed to serve.
Seriously, Maliki is supposedly the head of government in Iraq, and what little integrity he has (not much, admittedly, but ...) would be completely GONE with his own people, and Arabs in other countries, if he didn’t condemn the ongoing criminal attacks on civilians in Lebanon, and, not to forget, Gaza and the West Bank.
One of the latest attacks raises other troubling questions. Why were UN observers attacked?
The U.N. observers killed when an Israeli bomb hit their bunker in Lebanon Tuesday called an Israeli military liaison about 10 times in the six hours before they died to warn that aerial attacks were getting close to their position, a U.N. officer said.
After each call, the Israeli officer promised to have the bombing stopped, an officer at the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) base in Noqoura said.
Finally, an Israeli bomb exploded directly on the U.N. post near Khiyam, killing four U.N. observers from Austria, Finland, Canada and China, the U.N. officer said.
Kofi Annan isn’t buying it:
Annan issued a sharply worded statement Tuesday evening which said he was “shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting ... of a U.N. observer post in southern Lebanon.” He called on Israel to conduct “a full investigation into this very disturbing incident.”
“This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long established and clearly marked U.N. post at Khiyam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that U.N. positions would be spared Israeli fire,” Annan said.
“Furthermore, General Alain Pelligrini, the U.N. force commander in south Lebanon, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to protect that particular U.N. position from attack."
Have to say, given some history from past Israeli military actions, another “regrettable accident” that happened to observers, one has to wonder if perhaps there isn’t something that happened, or is PLANNED to happen, that the Israelis don’t want observed, recorded or reported? From the link above, regarding the USS Liberty:
By 9:50 am, the minaret at El Arish could be seen with the naked eye like a solitary mast in a sea of sand. Although no one on the ship knew it at the time, the Liberty had suddenly trespassed into a private horror. At that very moment, near the minaret, Israeli forces were engaged in a criminal slaughter.
Three days after Israel had launched the six- day war, Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai had become a nuisance. There was no place to house them, not enough Israelis to watch them, and few vehicles to transport them to prison camps. But there was another way to deal with them.
As the Liberty sat within eyeshot of El Arish, eavesdropping on surrounding communications, Israeli soldiers turned the town into a slaughterhouse, systematically butchering their prisoners. An eyewitness recounted how in the shadow of the El Arish mosque, they lined up about 60 unarmed Egyptian prisoners, hands tied behind their backs, and then opened fire with machine guns until the pale desert sand turned red.
This and other war crimes were just some of the secrets Israel had sought to conceal since the start of the conflict. An essential element in the Israeli battle plan seemed to have been to hide much of the war behind a carefully constructed curtain of lies: lies about the Egyptian threat, lies about who started the war, lies to the US president, lies to the UN Security Council, lies to the press, lies to the public. Thus, as the American naval historian Dr Richard K Smith noted, “any instrument which sought to penetrate this smoke screen so carefully thrown around the normal ‘fog of war’ would have to be frustrated”.
Into this sea of deception and slaughter sailed the USS Liberty, an enormous spy factory loaded with the latest eavesdropping gear.
About noon, as the Liberty was again in sight of El Arish, and while the massacres were taking place, an army commander there reported that a ship was shelling them from the sea. But that was impossible. The only ship in the vicinity was the Liberty, and she was eavesdropping, not shooting. As any observer would have recognised, the ship was a tired old Second World War vessel crawling with antennae, and unthreatening to anyone - unless it was their secrets, not their lives, they wanted to protect.
Bamford continues with a vivid description of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, then concludes with:
In the days following the attack, the Israeli government gave the US government a classified report that attempted to justify the claim that the attack was a mistake. On the basis of that same report, an Israeli court of inquiry completely exonerated the government and all those involved. No one was ever court-martialled, reduced in rank or even reprimanded. On the contrary, Israel chose instead to honor motor torpedo boat 203, which fired the deadly torpedo at the Liberty. The ship’s wheel and bell were placed on prominent display at the naval museum, among the maritime artifacts of which the Israeli navy was most proud.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that Israel had attacked the ship and killed the American servicemen deliberately, the Johnson administration and Congress covered up the entire incident. Johnson was planning to run for president the following year and needed the support of pro-Israel voters.
A mistake or mass murder? It was a question Congress never bothered to address in public hearings at the time. Among those who have long called for an in-depth congressional investigation is Admiral Thomas Moorer, who went on to become chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. “Congress to this day,” he said, “has failed to hold formal hearings for the record on the Liberty affair. This is unprecedented and a national disgrace.” Perhaps it is not too late.
We can count on this latest “mistake” to go uninvestigated and unpunished as well. Congress is too busy playing games and berating the barely-legitimate puppet leader of a country we destroyed, too busy answering to campaign contributors and a knee-jerk need to prostrate themselves at the feet of Likud and their lobby in DC.
Strings are being pulled, no doubt, but the Democrats are fooling themselves if they think they aren’t the ones getting yanked.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
What Was He Thinking?
Well, besides obeying Hillary anyway. From WaPo:
Former president Bill Clinton joined a stage full of Connecticut officials Monday night in testifying to the Democratic credentials of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, whose 18-year tenure is threatened by the primary challenge of antiwar insurgent Ned Lamont.
Lieberman did not mention Iraq or his support for the war, and Clinton touched only lightly on what he referred to as “the pink elephant in the room."
Well, that pink elephant is a big-ass deal and it looks like Hillary needs Lieberman to watch her back come 2008. Never has it been more obvious that Hillary has made her ill-fated decision to seek the Democratic nomination for President and I will certainly be working for one of her opponents because both she and JoeMentum are squarely wrong about Iraq.
But back to the Big Dog. Really, how stupid was it for him to show up and stump for this pathetic Republican in Dem clothing. Clinton has been sliding now for years, becoming basically a Republican himself and it pains me to watch this. Sure he cow-towed way too much to the Republicans, especially during his second term but since he has left office he has become nothing more than George and Barbara’s extra son. The only thing one can say to that is “Beam me up Scotty”.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Vichy Dems Betray Common Decency
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Oh, I think the Israelis are very clear-eyed about this, Wolf. First of all, they say and Prime Minister Olmert said this to us this morning, that they are not at war with the Lebanese people. They’re not at war with the Lebanese government. What they are fighting is a proxy for Iran and Syria, which is like a cancer in the south of Lebanon.
And if they don’t degrade this threat and if they don’t degrade the Hamas threat in Gaza—both of these places are places where they have withdrawn; they are not occupiers in these areas—if they don’t degrade these threats, they’ll just get stronger. And Israel and the entire neighborhood will continue to be at risk. And I think they’re trying to minimize casualties in every way that they can, based on the conversations we’ve had.—CNN - Late Edition
Have a clear-eyed look at this, Representative:
What’s clear is, yet again, that the Democrats in Congress are overwhelmingly JUST FINE with the United States and Israel continuing to endanger world peace.
From the Nation, John Nichols points out what’s at stake, and how few Democrats actually GET it:
Most Congressional Democrats have been the president’s willing accomplices in this neglect of duty. But a handful of House members, led by Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, have stepped up. A House resolution, sponsored by Kucinich and cosponsored by close to two dozen other representatives urges “the President to appeal to all sides in the current crisis in the Middle East for an immediate cessation of violence and to commit the United States diplomats to multi-party negotiations with no preconditions.”
“The continuing violence in the Middle East is spiraling out of control and is on the verge of being full-out regional war in which there will be no winners,” says Kucinich. “The US has a moral obligation to become immediately engaged and to try to seek a peaceful resolution to the situation. This Administration must seek an immediate cease-fire and return all sides to the negotiating table.”
“The region urgently needs diplomatic assistance,” the congressman adds. “The only way the US can reclaim its role, as a mediator is to speak and act like a mediator. Unfortunately, the Administration is making statements that only will contribute to escalation.”
Kucinich is right. This is a testing time for members of Congress. Those who join Kucinich in calling for action to ease the conflict will be remembered as leaders – and as the true friends of Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and a battered peace process. Those who fail to do so will deserve to be remembered – and vilified—for their failure to act when a humanitarian crisis unfolded before the eyes of the world.
Only a couple of dozen will speak out against fresh war crimes.
Supporters and representatives increasingly use the language of genocide, making sick calculations that Israeli lives are worth more the Palestinian or Lebanese lives, using words like “blitzkrieg” (heard this morning on some of the war porn coverage, some retired IDF “expert") and “cleansing” to describe Israeli actions over the last several days. CLEANSING. Descendents of the prey of monsters now roar like monsters, and WE SUPPORT THEM. Even Russ Feingold blindly supports Israel’s war crimes.
Betray the American people, betray the rule of law here, betray any thought of common human decency or the idea that TALKING should be pursued fervently BEFORE YOU LEVEL A COUNTRY ... the Democrats show once again that most of them are unwilling to take positions that are risky, positions that go all but unrepresented in the public discourse. Kucinich can’t do it on his own, any more than Feingold can resist the security state on his own.
Stand for something Democrats, especially when lives are at stake. Our government and its allies in Israel cover us all innocent blood. Who will speak against it?
Hat tip to inkadu for the heads up on Harmon.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Violence Has No Mind
Violence has no mind.
Is it not wiser to seek a man’s love than to desire his swift defeat?” - Master Kan
We live in a time beyond reason, or reasoning. No debate, no diplomacy worthy of the word, only mindless spasms of wanton violence. We Americans, supposed lovers of peace and champions of democracy, have already destroyed a country that did no harm to us, and now we are rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel ...
... which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.
The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.
No rush to open discussions, but instruments of death? WE’RE YOUR PUSHER!!! How much death do you need to deliver, Israeli friends of ours?
We are mad, they are mad, we are the damned, a team formed of demonic dealers of death: beyond reason, beyond mind, beyond compassion. For agents of violence such as Israel and ourselves, mere law has no power, no sway ... laws are gossamer threads that are beneath two nuclear powers gone mad.
The way of violence has no mind, and we and Israel will react with incomprehension as more and more of the world’s citizens turn against us, turns us into pariah nations even more than we are now. We have no minds left to listen, or comprehend, or even react to all of the gathering warning signs that the belligerence demonstrated by our two countries will reflect back upon us with a vengence. Of course, there are principled people in both countries who’re horrified by what our governments are doing, but the insanity of the political ecology of the US and Israel renders us all-but mute, dragged along behind war machines, our voices of protest drowned out by the pounding and melting and flashing and bleeding and screaming jets and roaring assault helicopters and the screams and pleas of dying civilians.
OUR way of violence has no mind, and the great innovations of humankind’s climb out of the blood and the mud ... the systems of law and government developed over centuries of struggle and compromise ... have been crushed by an authoritarian movement of bloody-minded radicals, jingoistic monsters consumed by greed, bigotries and religious fervor.
The spreading violence has no mind, and the mindlessness will keep on killing.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Today Is An Important Anniversary
What’s better than a patriotic holiday in July? Pop a brew tonight, then, and let’s celebrate our heritage of democracy and equal rights. We owe these freedoms not so much to the events commemorated every July 4, but to those of July 21.
On this day in 1868, after a bruising ratification struggle, Congress passed a resolution proclaiming that the 14th Amendment was part of the Constitution. More than the Declaration of Independence, more than the original Constitution, more than even the Bill of Rights, it is the 14th Amendment that makes America a democratic country.
But, as the beer commercials say, celebrate responsibly: Our current toxic immigration debate shows that, more than a century later, genuine democracy has powerful enemies. In 2006, the anti-immigrant movement is attacking the amendment’s central meaning of equal protection of the law for all.
Please don’t feel bad if the words “14th Amendment” don’t immediately call to mind a list of rights. Most literate citizens—and even many lawyers—have trouble focusing on the radical changes this massive post-Civil War reform made in the original Constitution. The 14th Amendment is such a giant presence in our lives today that it’s hard to see it as a single thing.
But consider this. Until the 14th Amendment, the idea of human equality, extolled in the Declaration of Independence, appeared nowhere in the Constitution. The word “equal,” when written in the original document, referred mostly to voting privileges for the states. In addition, the Constitution contained no definition of American citizenship, seemingly leaving the matter to the states.
Even the Bill of Rights itself only covered the federal government—overreaching state governments could, and did, restrict free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law and other basic rights. In short, the Framers of 1787 set up a flawed confederation of insular states, each of which was free to oppress, and even enslave, some or all of its population.
Thanks to what passes for history and civics education in this country, most Americans fail to appreciate that the foundations of liberty we all believe this country stands for are the result of ongoing, and often bloody, struggle. It is a struggle that we are in danger of losing once again, as forces of intolerance and hate are cultivated by our deeply corrupt and venal political establishment.
The Fourteenth Amendment’s most sweeping and impactful section is section one, the Due Process clause:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
As Epps explains:
The first section of the amendment begins by guaranteeing that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” At one stroke, the framers eliminated the racist Dred Scott doctrine that “we the people” did not mean African-Americans; and they included as citizens every child born here, no matter where their parents were born or how they got here. After that, they required every state to observe the “privileges [and] immunities of citizens of the United States,” and to afford due process and equal protection of the laws to “any person” within their borders.
Ohio Rep. John Bingham, the principal architect of Section 1, had spent most of his career campaigning for the rights of slaves and immigrants. Even before the Civil War, he had laid out a vision of “one people, one Constitution, and one country!” States had no “rights” to interfere with their citizens’ constitutional rights: “The equality of the right to live; the right to know; to argue and to utter, according to conscience; to work and enjoy the product of their toil, is the rock on which [the] Constitution rests, its sure foundation and defense.” Immigrants enjoyed those rights as fully as natives, he insisted, because the Constitution obeyed “that higher law given by a voice out of heaven: ‘Ye shall have the same law for the stranger as for one of your own country.’”
Completing Rep. Bingham’s vision has been a continuous and an ongoing struggle. If you google “Fourteenth Amendment”, you will find numerous right-wing sites and publications inveighing against it. An example::
The Fourteenth Amendment has had precisely the effect that its nineteenth-century Republican party supporters intended it to have: it has greatly centralized power in Washington, D.C., and has subjected Americans to the kind of judicial tyranny that Thomas Jefferson warned about when he described federal judges as those who would be “constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.” It’s time for all Americans to reexamine the official history of the “Civil War” and its aftermath as taught by paid government propagandists in the “public” schools for the past 135 years.
Those were, of course, Lincoln-era Republicans, not the rapacious bullies we suffer under now. You can find current calls to repeal the Fourteenth Amendment in many places, if you care to look. Sad, here in the Twenty-First Century, that we have fellow citizens who wish so fervently to go back to a time where a bullying majority could use the power of the local state to deny full protection under the law to unwelcome minorities. There are, of course, such laws still operative, but the tide had been toward pushing them back ... until the right-wing backlash of the last several decades.
So today, celebrate this important anniversary, even though we have still not completed the promise held within its words. Re-commit yourself to making this a country where ALL of our citizens are fully treated AS citizens, protected equally under the law. As Epps concludes:
Fireworks are appropriate on national holidays. But those who would dismantle our basic constitutional guarantees are playing with real fire. The history they want to repeat—the imposition of a hereditary, lifelong, racial caste system—was tragic, and a new system of permanent aliens would be no less so. Our best weapon against this evil is knowledge of our own history and values.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
One Disgraceful Democrat
Every time I hear the Vichy Dems whine about purity in order to try and substantiate why they are sellouts all I have to do is see something like This to remind me that the Democrat Party is loaded with full-on loons. Thanks to Madman for sending the link. From the lame horse’s mouth:
LINCOLN DAVIS: Marriage is for life, and this amendment needs to include that basic tenant. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I think we should expand the scope of the amendment to outlaw divorce in this country. Going further Mr. Speaker, I believe in fidelity. Adultery is an evil that threatens the marriage and the heart of every marriage, which is commitment.
How can we as a country allow adulterers to go unpunished and continue to make a mockery of marriage? Again by doing so, what lessons are we teaching our children about marriage? I certainly think that it shows we are not serious about protecting the institution and this is why I think the amendment should outlaw adultery and make it a felony. Additionally, Mr. Speaker, we must address spousal abuse and child abuse. Think of how many marriages end in a divorce or permanent separation because one spouse is abusive.
And, Mr. Speaker, I personally think child abuse may be the most despicable act one can commit. This is why if we are truly serious about protecting marriage to the point we will amend the constitution, we should extend the punishment of abuse to prevent those who do such a hideous act from ever running for an elected position anywhere.
We should also prevent those who commit adultery, or get a divorce, from running for office. Mr. Speaker, this House must lead by example. If we want those watching on CSPAN to actually believe we are serious about protecting marriage, then we should go after the other major threats to the institution. Not just the threat that homosexuals may some day be allowed to marry in a state other than Massachusetts. An elected official should certainly lead by example.
I’d love to know what exactly makes this man a Democrat. He is right up there with Santorum and Frist in wingnut land. If this party wants to be taken seriously it needs to purge itself of these embarrassments. How can they say they offer an alternative when this Party is full of the same old shit we get from the Republicans. This idiot would embarrass a Goldwater Republican and should damn well mortify his fellow Democrats yet they remain silent. Sad times indeed.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The pharmaceutical industry is beginning to reap a windfall from a surprisingly lucrative niche market: drugs for poor people.
And analysts expect the benefits to show up in many of the quarterly financial results that drug-makers will begin posting this week.
The windfall, which by some estimates could be $2 billion or more this year, is a result of the transfer of millions of low-income people into the new Medicare Part D drug program that went into effect in January. Under that program, as it turns out, drug-makers are in a position to charge higher prices for the drugs given to those people than when their medicines were covered under federal-state Medicaid programs for the poor.
The details, and the huge sums of money that will be paid out to these already obscenely profitable and greedy industry are stunning:
It is too early to calculate the full effect of the shift of the former Medicaid patients now covered by Part D. But analysts expect it to generate hundreds of millions of additional dollars this year for the drug companies, which have long chafed under the pricing restraints of the state programs.
Drugs tend to be cheaper under the Medicaid programs because the states are the buyers, and by law they receive the lowest available prices for drugs.
But in creating the federal Part D program, Congress - in what critics saw as a sop to the drug industry - barred the government from having a negotiating role. Instead, prices are worked out between drugmakers and the dozens of large and small Part D drug plans run by commercial insurers.
Since Part D went into effect, the pharmaceutical industry has raised the wholesale prices of its brand-name drugs an average of 3.6%. Although the actual amount spent depends on what each insurer negotiates, in many cases the drugs for those 6.5 million people who used to receive their medicines through Medicaid will cost more now.
Initially, the added costs will be paid by the insurers administering the new Medicare drug program. But when it comes time for the insurers to settle accounts with the government, the costs of the drugs for the 6.5 million transferees will end up being passed along to federal taxpayers, according to analysts and health care economists.
The windfall for the drugmakers was made possible by a provision of the 2003 Medicare law that exempts Part D drugs from “best price” rebates that the drugmakers have been required to give to the state Medicaid programs since 1991.
This isn’t purely a Republican boondoggle. Certain Democrats were only too happy to help Big Pharma clean up.
Lieberman dutifully recites his opposition to “tax cuts for the rich” and “privatizing Social Security,” and his support of “universal health insurance” and “affordable healthcare.” When he utters those phrases, unfortunately, they ring hollow to many rank-and-file Democrats.
Actually, the syndrome afflicting him is found among entrenched veterans of both parties, especially those who appear more concerned with connections and contributions than values or ideals.
Sen. Lieberman has long been known to cultivate the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which provide jobs in his home state and contributions to his campaign fund. But he has literally been sleeping with one of their Washington representatives ever since his wife, Hadassah, joined Hill & Knowlton last year. The legendary lobbying and PR firm hired her as a “senior counselor” in its “health and pharmaceuticals practice.”
This news marked Hadassah Lieberman’s return to consulting after more than a decade of retirement. “I have had a life-long commitment to helping people gain better health care,” she said in the press release announcing her new job. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with the talented team at Hill & Knowlton to counsel a terrific stable of clients toward that same goal.”
We are a deeply sick people, so blinded by our belief in the so-called “free” market that we place business plan and profits before human life, we allow needless suffering so that some few will reap large rewards. We participate in this badly broken system, and continue to support politicians who serve only to make it worse.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Here is a scary little piece which shows again just what we should be concened about: the growing unholy marriage between extremist religion and politics. Just like the Islamist extremists who believe the Quran is to be literally translated (and we’ve seen how incorrect they are) we have the new Mega churches interpreting the Bible literally to disastrous results. World War Three anyone when the twains shall meet?
Here’s a slice:
The fastest-growing faith group in America, evangelical Christians have had a growing impact on the nation’s political landscape, in part because adherents believe conservative Christian values should have a place in politics—and they support politicians who agree with them. In that March survey, more than 82 percent of the Ohio evangelicals who attend church at least once a week said they approve of bringing more religion into politics.
Sexton believes every word in the Bible, rejects evolution theory, and supports the Iraq war, the Republican Party and Bush—in part because he is a born-again Christian. “I trust his opinion because of his beliefs,” she said. Signs of growth are everywhere at Fairfield Christian. The facilities will soon encompass 325,000 square feet—about twice the size of an average Wal-Mart superstore.
So where in the Bible does it say that Republicans have any beat whatsoever on politics? What did Jesus say about political parties? Yeah, keep searching Mr. Sexton.
Bush is Christian in name only. He’s a NeoCon in Christian clothing. All his countless acts to make the rich wealthier and increase the amount of US citizens (and their children) living at or below the poverty level are very important clues for these totally clueless people, and don’t get me started about Bush’s bait-and-switch Saddam for Osama war dance that these idiots fell for hook line and sinker. It’s also apropos that they are building these complexes in the tradition of Wal-Marts because just like Wal-Marts do, these Mega churches will leave Main Street USA in ruins.
Friday, July 14, 2006
It is an open question which nation of bullies is more insane: us or Israel. We share a couple of common tendencies. Both nations tend to place outsized attention the lives of its own citizens while discounting the worth of our “enemies” and the innocents who get caught in the crossfire. Second, both nations lecture others about the rule of law while almost gleefully ignoring it themselves.
We’re seeing this again in Lebanon. If the Israeli tendency to punish everyone for the crimes of a few continues in this current expansion, it seems only logical that the entire Muslim world will pay for the actions of Hezbollah and Hamas militias. The bald-faced attempt to draw the US into their war of aggression with assertions that Hezbollah is planning to transfer captured IDF soldiers to Syria or Iran threatens to set the entire world ablaze.
All of this because some home-made rockets were launched into Israel, arguably in response to Israeli provocations. Can any sane person deny that this is a horrible over-reaction?
The insanity of these two nations, these two nuclear states ruled by men who worship only profit and hegemony, is a grave danger to the world. Dahr Jamail observes, from Amman:
The next day, Thursday, we awoke with our eyes glued to al-Jazeera on the television. Israeli warplanes bombed Beirut’s Rafiq al-Hariri airport. At least two air strikes were reported while Lebanese anti-aircraft guns fired feebly at the jets, according to witnesses. Israeli jets also bombed bridges linking south Lebanon to the rest of the country, and 22 civilians were killed last night by Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon.
In response to the bombings, Hezbollah claims to have fired 60 rockets into northern Israel.
The Israeli justification for bombing the airport in Beirut and pushing into southern Lebanon is that two of their soldiers were captured. In classic newspeak, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said of the incident, “It is an act of war by the state of Lebanon,” conveniently omitting the bombings in the occupied territories, including civilians on a beach, by Israeli forces over the last weeks.
“This is going to be a big war,” Abu Talat tells me while we watch plumes of smoke billowing from locations within Lebanon, “This is even more important for us to cover than Iraq, and you know how much I love Iraq."
If Ohlmert has his way, it will be one large war, aflame from Gaza through Syria and into Iraq and Iran. It seems that he will settle for nothing else other than total capitulation, and I think that Muslims despite all of their internal divisions are unlikely to give it.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
LSF Review: Who Killed The Electric Car?
Here’s a great film loaded with information for all of us who loved electric cars and thought the road would be full of them after the EV1 and others made their debut in the 90’s. It was mainly a California thing because that’s where it was madated by the California government. If you want to see the whole story please check out this film and its Wonderful website.
The film interviews people from all over the industry, from people at the car companies to government officials to the drivers themselves. The amount of information is considerable but it is presented perfectly in concise chapters so it is very easy to follow and always fascinating.
The history of the electric car is as old as the car itself. Not being much of a car buff I had no idea there were electric cars on the road 80 years ago. They interview people (Phyllis Diller for one!) who remember the cars back then which astonished me. From there we see the history of the car companies and how they tore up trolley tracks around the nation so the cities would become entirely car dependent.
The interviews with the people who built these cars and the drivers give us alot of the information on the history of California’s electric cars in the 1990’s and what happened. The film is set up beautifully with chapter headings asking the questions of the government, the auto industry, the public etc. and in the end it makes conclusions based on the evidence presented. There is also a wonderful interview with a husband and wife inventor team who have watched their battery technology buried by the auto industry. Watching this amazing American ingenuity be buried for corporate interests is downright criminal.
There is plenty of information that makes you want to be sure that these cars are mass produced and available to all income levels. One question I never understood was why other countries (like European ones) have not adopted the electric car when gas is so expensive per liter there. Also they discuss hydrogen vehicles and the information is very disturbing, these vehicles look like they won’t be on the road for many decades and may not be cost effective at all. This looks like a trap the oil companies are setting up to make sure we drive nothing but gas vehicles until the last drop of oil is taken out of the ground.
Please be on the lookout for this documentary, it’s well worth your time.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Maintaining Our Illusions
Editor & Publisher asks a vital, if disturbing question:
NEW YORK Ever since the case of the raping and killing of an Iraqi and the alleged murder of three of her family members by U.S. troops went public, the age of the rape victim had been in dispute, ranging from about 15 to 25. Two days ago, Reuters and others news agencies produced proof that she was 14, based on a passport and identity card. Most news organizations then started calling her a girl—but some persist in referring to her as a “woman.”
The girl was apparently born August 19, 1991. Yet a widely published AP story today by Robert H. Reid repeatedly referred to the girl, whose last name was al-Janabi, as a “young Iraqi woman” and later again as a “woman.” The story was in reference to the gag order being requested by attorneys for Steven D. Green, an ex-soldier who is one of the men charged with the rape and murders. It begins: “An al-Qaida-linked group posted a Web video today purporting to show the mutilated bodies of two Fort Campbell soldiers, claiming it killed them in revenge for the rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman by American troops from the same unit."
When confronted by unpleasant facts, many in the corporate media seem to understand that most Americans would prefer to remain blind, deaf and dumb.
Much of the continuation of our cozy comfort in our inherent exceptionalism relies upon a long history of willful blindness on the part of Americans. This isn’t unique to our tribe, of course, but we seem to have perfected it. When unpleasant facts can’t be blocked out of sight, out of hearing ... when the stench of rot can’t be ignored any longer ... we blame the victim. We proclaim that they are some version of non-human, that they are savages or evil. When THAT fails, we turn on our fellows who refuse to help bury the truth.
Then the evil spreads.
Change is impossible without clarity. Clarity is impossible if reality remains clouded by self-justifying myth and blanketed by layers of lies. We need to confront the crimes committed in our names. We need to confront how those crimes were enabled by our willful ignorance and the rapacious greed of the ruling classes in our country. We need to look at the roots of hate here in our own land, founded on blood and chains, and recognize that we have some amongst us who want to use our military to perpetuate their hate. We need to absorb this simple fact, that in the sweep of history we’ve committed terrible crimes, that we CHOSE to do so, and that we’re just like everyone else.
Peace is only possible with compassion, and compassion is only possible through clarity. If we can’t look with unjaundiced eyes at ourselves, if we can’t recognize the shared humanity in others, others that the warmongers amongst us would slaughter, then we are truly beyond redemption.
Calling a teenaged victim a woman doesn’t change the monstrous nature of the alleged crime ... it serves only to salve the feelings of the rest of us. Even that sad fact reveals a pathetic need to excuse by building up layers of justification. “If she was a WOMAN, then maybe she ASKED for it,” you can here the piggish unspoken whispers proclaim. “Our boys are under stress, after all,” some would excuse, proclaiming a childish innocence for grown men in body armor and heavily armed while denying the innocence of a victim.
While remaining blind, deaf and dumb may produce a state of willful bliss, eventually it all collapses. Eventually the truth comes into lazy eyes in harsh brilliance, searing the mind and soul.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
If you’ve spent any time at all around the lefty blogosphere over the last couple of years, you are probably aware of the evolution of “liberal” website Daily Kos from a fairly freewheeling “community” to some weird authoritarian center-right business. A business which seeks to collect money and shut down genuine debate amongst the left in favor of flacking for former Republicans and Democrats with Republican hearts. A place where bullying “leaders” drive off unique points of view in favor of juvenile thuggery in threads that have devolved into just another Red State.
If you want to keep abreast of the fallout of these developments, and the bullying pursued by Kos and his front-pager droogs, drop in on Marisacat. Snarky goodness, and you’ll probably recognize some commentors that you may have enjoyed back before the little thug sacrificed community to business model.
Of course, that was probably the plan all along, nothing more than roping in some rubes so as to tout lousy candidates in return for influence and dollars.