Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mother Mary Rants

Mother Mary Rants

I am trying to imagine how criticism of an unjust, unwise, and unnecessary war of aggression could "undermine" the troops unfortunate enough to have been sent to Iraq to pursue neocon ideological fantasies. Are they going to curl up and suck their thumbs in the face of danger because 8,000 miles away, someone mentioned that Emperor Bush has no clothes? Will they flee the enemy if someone breaks the secret that the false connection between Saddam and al Qaeda was known to be false from the start, and the neocons knowingly lied? Will they collapse into sobbing girlie-men if someone mentions the fact that both Bush and Cheney entered office on January 20, 2001 already determined to prosecute their war of aggression against Iraq, and lacked only a semi-plausible pretext?

No! Our fighting men and women are considerably more courageous, heroic, patriotic, and intelligent than "At Least One Deferment" Rumsfeld, "Five Deferments" Cheney, and "AWOL During a Time of War (a Felony)" Bush.

As to the second charge, encouraging America's enemies to believe us to be politically spineless: Isn't deluding our enemies a good thing? An overconfident enemy is a stupid enemy. Just ask anyone who seriously believed that the Iraqis would greet American troops by throwing flowers and singing hymns of gratitude. . . .


Frankly, from what I've read over the years from military historians and people who were actually there, Stateside opinion and pontification was generally met with more or less polite amusement - no matter what source.

Between media and military squeamishness and the sheer impossibility of really communicating the stresses of combat in 3 minutes, we are always suffering a distorted, sanitized picture. And really, when people say that criticism "will discourage the troops" it's really "the base" they are speaking of, not "the troops." The troops are in full contact with reality. It's the people here, on the home front, who are being shielded from the moral and practical consequences of war, as well as any noticeable personal sacrifice. Well, other than their children - and those mostly come from the families of working poor who have little attention to spare for politics, so that's not much of a sacrifice to the majority of Bush's Base.

In fact, frequent, respectful but persistent criticism of the President is the duty of Congress and indeed the citizenry; it is the President's duty to heed criticism and to consider his actions in light of it. Criticism is not a negative thing, in the proper sense; it is a test that validates the President's range of legitimate action.

No president worth a library has been so allergic to accountability, not in living memory at least, and perhaps not in the history of the Republic. And when such a man sends troops into action with rationalizations and pretenses that do not bear up well to criticism - or even the most basic examination - it is a betrayal of the troops to fail to demand an accounting.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

The Amway Administration

Sister Novena's PortaPulpit: "So how did Amway change my thinking? Well, it made me glad to have a functionally rational mind, and it made me scared and a little grossed-out by what some people consider a good use of their lives. It helped me realize that on some level this society -- in which I actively participate -- is itself a vast pyramid scheme, in which everyone is promised wealth that can't be sustained. Eventually, somewhere down the line, someone -- you, or me, or a poor brown person in Indonesia -- is going to have to do the actual work, make the actual products, be the one who gets fucked for the financial benefit of someone else; and that there will always be many more people getting fucked than will ever be 'successful.' But just as the faux viscount isn't actually a better person than broke little me, I must always remember that if I manage to make a life for myself in which I don't spend my days in a plastics factory in Asia, it's not because I'm a better or more worthy human being, or more blessed by god. It made me realize how badly some people want to be led, how deeply they'll invest in other people's ideals, how much effort and thought they'll expend trying to avoid effort and thought. It made me wonder what even the 'successful' people did with their lives after they'd won their purported freedom -- they made nothing, produced nothing, created nothing,"

There are makers, takers and fakers. Guess who's running the nation for their benefit right now? Ok, that's glib, but I needed a hook.

I've done my time with Amway - until I discovered what Sister Novena found. I've done websites for those gobstruck by the majesty that is Matol. My wife had fun with Mary Kay for a while, until she got bored. Meanwhile, my in-box is crammed with various scams that involve getting rich suddenly, and they all seem to have the word "downline" in there somewhere.

The thing that's most troubling to me is that most of these schemes seem to be aimed at Christians. Amway is in particular very skillful at making itself an almost but not quite religious experience for the "insiders." and it easily hooks into churches that put a heavy emphasis on recruiting for their flocks.

It concerns me - a great deal - that people are so used to spiritual counterfeiting that Amway seems like a genuine, legitimate enterprise. I mean, they hype what they do a great deal, but it's not like they HIDE what they are.

What's even more surreal is that the same rhetoric, the same not quite facts, the same tactical vagueness has been a hallmark of the Republican Party since.. well, since Regan. Never mind THINKING about it; FEEL with us! Feel our Extra New Powerful Imperial Majesty! And you can share in all this! Just vote for ME!

Citizenship without effort or investment - just like those real-estate scams.

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War Planning for Bushes

Spam comment bumped! It was way too much fun, and there's quite a few useful tools, including a blog-header generator and an rss chicklet maker. So this way I both discourage spam and give credit where credit is due.

BTW, that li'l chicklet links to our rss feed, so feel free to click on it!.

Try making a "Dummies" book Cover yourself!

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just My Thing - a VIRTUAL March! wants you to know:

On Thursday, February 1st - just days before the Senate votes on the escalation - there's going to be a massive virtual march on Washington. We're going to make 1 million contacts to Congress. Can you join us? Click below to sign up to call your senators.

I'm gonna be giving Ensign an earful. Well, I'll be giving some poor, hapless, relatively innocent staffer an earful. I don't suppose I'll have to encourage Harry Reid much - but I don't want to discourage him from calling a spade a freakin' shovel, either. Either it's intended to achive something - in which case it cannot help but be an escalation - or it's a pathetically futile gesture. Given the Bush Administration and the assclowns that have prospered under Rumsfield, it's undoubtedly BOTH an escalation and a futile gesture.

John Ensign, the Pretty Republican Senator from Nevada, is in a delicate position, put there by his Senate colleagues and our good friend NZBear's NRSC pledge.

Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.
I'm gonna be encouraging Sen. Ensign to tell the pledge signatories to go to hell. But I gotta tell you, it's SO tempting to suggest to him that he do exactly as they wish - not being a Republican myself.

You know, now that I think of it, I wanna give NZBear a big ol' hug! Oh, and guys, check out the pledge signatures by state: seems like there may be an awful lot of Democrats signing the pledge. That, or they are people such as our unlamented former defense secretary referred to as "dead-enders."

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Is It Three Strikes Yet?

I know that this may come as a shock to some who have long ago gotten used to the idea that the Administration's ideas all turn to crap uniformly, but HOW THE HELL did they screw THIS puppy? Are there NO real Conservatives left in the Executive Branch? Aren't there any people there who can get the job done in spite of Our Glorious Leader?

U.S. may have botched training of Iraqis - Yahoo! News: "'If the administration had been serious and competent about establishing a functioning democracy in Iraq, it would have seen the need for a trustworthy criminal justice system in which all Iraqis could have confidence,' Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), D-Vt., said in prepared remarks."

Of all the things I was in confident expectation of the Right comprehending intuitively and getting right is the need for law and order. This is such a staple of US Conservatism that it should shock the Midwest about as much as it shocks me. You cannot have a functional society of any kind without law enforcement, reliable courts and open marketplaces. On these three things hang ALL the law, and the Profits.

According to the report, co-authored by Hamilton and former Attorney General Edwin Meese, the U.S. erred by first assigning the task of shaping the judicial system in a largely lawless country to the State Department and private contractors who "did not have the expertise or the manpower to get the job done."

In 2004, the mission was assigned to the Defense Department, which devoted more money to the task. But department officials also were insufficiently trained for the job, Hamilton and Meese said.

As a result, Iraq has little if any on-the-street law enforcement personnel or a functioning judicial system free of corruption, they said.

Justice Department officials, they said, should lead the work of transforming the system. Police executives and supervisors should replace the military police personnel now assigned.

And the FBI should expand its investigative and forensic training in Iraq, Hamilton and Meese told the panel.

The recommendations about the Iraqi judicial system were included in the Iraq Study Group's report last year, but got little attention. Hamilton and Meese said Wednesday that unless the U.S. helps create a capable, trained professional police force and functioning criminal justice system, "ordinary Iraqis will not live in peace and will not have confidence in their new government."

This makes NZBear's call for mindless allegience to the President and his Praetorians particularly insulting, as the Pentagon has had three years to get this right, or get someone to get it right. I said it wass what Teddy Roosevelt referred to as being
but I'll go a step further. This is a demand from 20% of the population to the 70% who can add, subtract and read between the lines that we cater to their stupid leader fetish, to validate their poor post-9/11 judgment at any cost.

At the time, I expected some thrashing about and I was resigned to the necessity of catering to that proportion of our population, both Left and Right, who wear ideological adult diapers of various brands. I expected there would be some time before the American people could be led back to sanity. But in my wildest nightmares, I never expected the adoption of the cold, wet diaper as the uniform of the Right.

Well, yes, I suppose it IS traumatic to have Daddy hauled off to jail after getting stoned on crack and beating up mommy for the seventeenth time. But what Baby doesn't understand is that crackheads do not make good fathers.

Meanwhile, there is no Law and Order Fairy; those of us in the Reality Based Universe know that keeping both Law and Order requires the hard work and dedication of skilled officers of the law and a reliable, effective system of justice. And as much as I, as an anti authoritarian, distrust officers of the law, it's in proportion to my concern that that particular officer of the Law is really just another street gang member with a carry permit.

But apparently we have not achieved even that degree of order.

I'm thinking that this Administration has used up all of it's three strikes about three times over, and needs to be retired. This is not tee-ball, the bats we swing are NOT plastic, and we have to get back to playing by grown-up rules.

As I wrote earlier in the week:

This "war on terror" has been prosecuted in such a way as to ensure failure from the first. What if that is the goal?

It would certainly be yet another impeachable offense. Indeed, if there is such a conspiracy, it would be a treasonable conspiracy. But as I argue, there's little point in wondering why at this point. What we, as citizens, need to realize is that we do indeed have the power to take away their toys and send them to a time-out room. Preferably a federal medium-security timeout.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Morally Treasonable Demand

Morally Treasonable Dark T-Shirt
If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the
enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that
none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

I will of course NOT sign such a pledge, it's quite un-American. But I'm all for not donating to the NRSC. And considering that Ensign is the Chair, I'd advise Moderate Republican candidates to seek independent contributions assiduously; I imagine the strings will be rather heavy-gauge.

I should also note that the roughly 38,000 signatures in support of a Praetorian Generals wishes are 38,000 demands that senators abandon their duties, both as Citizens and as members of a branch of government intended to ask sharp questions of those who would be Praetorians.

In short, this what Teddy Roosevelt referred to as being

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Leopards in the Temple - excerpt

by Julia Bolton Holloway

Leopards break into the temple and drink the sacrificial chalices dry;
this occurs repeatedly again and again: finally it can be reckoned upon
beforehand and becomes a part of the ceremony.

And pearls are like poets' tales; disease turned into loveliness.

This essay, based upon a Zen koan-like poem fragment by Franz Kafa and a short story by Isak Diensen, will discourse upon religion, philosophy, literature and criticism. It is dedicated to Alexandra Johnson.

There seem to be cycles in religions between authority and rebellion, between stasis and movement, between the past and the present, between death and life. The moment between the Egyptian worship of a theriomorophic idol, a Golden Calf, in the Wilderness, with Aaron's Dionysian encouragement, and that of Moses' Apollonian Ten Commandments upon stone is a movement that becomes a stillness. But it was also a return from the accretions and syncretism wrought by the Israelites' presence as slaves in Egypt, where statues of gods in animal forms, sphinxes, bulls and others, were worshipped, to a remembrance of the Chaldean written law codes. These returns to the simplicities of past forms from the complexities of present ones constantly recur in religion. That they can recur is due to the eternity of writing and its stor[i]ed memory.

A similar return and revolution was from the 'Thou shalt nots' to the 'Love of God and of neighbour' sealed in blood, of the Jewish 'heresy', Christianity. The succeeding 'heresy', Islam, likewise sought to return to the Book, calling these three religious entities, of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Peoples of the Book. The Greco-Roman world had required blood sacrifices at the base of phallic pillars upon which stood statues of gods or emperors. For Christianity there was Leopard-like contamination from the Greco-Roman world, allowing it to violate the second Commandment against graven images, a Commandment but half-observed in the Middle Ages when statues stood in niches as part of the architectural structuring, then completely defied in the Renaissance with such works as Michelangelo's free-standing uncircumcised liberationist David. Yet again there was a return to the severity of the written word from the Leopard-like contamination of pagan images with the Reformation which swept away icons of the Madonna and Child, returning to Judaism copied in Islam. Paradoxically, the Madonna and Child's iconographical archeology had embraced the life-restoring Isis, Osiris and Horus figures from Egypt. Our religions are so much 'borrowed gold from the Egyptians', from the Chaldeans and the Hebrews, our literature so much borrowed gold from the Greeks and the Romans.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Wrath of the Conned


The Graphictruth
will be live on air at BlogTalk Radio at 2pm pst today, Murphy willing.

Call in: (646) 652-4834

We will be talking about KSFO, Spocko and of course, the latest embarrassment of the right, NewsBusters issues with the concept of "fair use." FAIR use includes attribution, and very much does not include leaching bandwidth.

Death by Natural Causes

That's how frontier coroners sometimes put it when people did stupid and/or antisocial things that would predictably lead to high-velocity lead poisoning.

The story linked below may well be such a case.

Telegraph | News | Entire village suspected of mayor's murder

At one time, from what I understand, a defense of "he needed killin'" was on occasion persuasive to a jury of one's peers. No doubt that would be the case in this village, were such a determination legally permissible.

Tip o' the Hat to Eugene Volkoh - with a question, strongly implied; what does he think about Jury Nullification in cases such as this, where the law proves a murder "beyond a reasonable doubt" and the Jury essentially declares "no harm, no foul?"

Of course the issues of race, class and context raise their heads, but at times I think the historical power of the jury has been too constrained by judges, to the extent that there is little recognition for the common-sense principle that bad actors do come to bad ends, and that, on the whole, is a good thing.

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NewsBusters busted for Complicity

Graphictruth Scoop - Apparently it takes a thief...
Spocko lost his hosting because of accusations of copyright violations. In the course of creating this post, I discovered that every image within the NewsBusters article that I checked was hotlinked, uncredited and that several are probable copyright violations without fair-use exception.

NewsBusters takes exception to the audioclip blogswarm, saying that various clips sent by Spocko to advertisers were "taken out of context."

NewsBusters does have a point. Context DOES affect meaning. But I and many others have wondered aloud what context would make the following excerpt acceptable.

"Now you start with the Sear's [sic] Diehard [sic] the battery cables connected to his testi*les and you entertain him with that for awhile [sic] and then you blow his bleeping head off. " [sic]
I thought I'd go to NewsBusters and see what they thought made it wrong for spocko to send that "out of context" clip of Lee Rodgers. NewsBusters provided the entire context of a clip/quote Spoko sent to an advertisor, exactly as you see below. And just for effect, they inserted some photos to help improve their reader's ability to put the whole thing into the appropriate context.

That’s Vulcan Illogical

Unfortunately, Spocko’s conspicuously brief transcript and audio link conveniently ignored and eluded the context of this discussion. Here is a more complete transcript of this segment:

Rodgers: You couldn’t make this up. This time he was breaking into cars. His name is Kevin Holder, he’s 41 years old. He’s been arrested 236 times. Lee Rodgers of KSFOHis crime history, his rap sheet is 43 pages long going back to 1980.

Now wouldn’t you think at some point, in what’s supposed to be common sense, middle-America, somebody would ask, “Why is this guy running around loose?” What kind of idiot judges have repeatedly set up situations where this guy could be back out on the street? Actually, in a common sense world every judge who has ever sentenced this guy to any kind of circumstance that would allow him to get out of jail, every one of those judges ought to be in prison for life.

Officer Vic: Sure, this is Montana.

Rodgers: This is what passes for law enforcement in the criminal justice system in the United States of America these days and it’s just, well it’s just disgusting.

Morgan: Clearly we need a three strikes law at a national level.

Rodgers: Yeah, some SOB like this, lock him up, throw away the key.

Morgan: Yeah.

Rodgers: Better yet, put a bullet between his eyes and get it over because he’s never going to be worth a damn, never going to be anything but a criminal anyway.

Morgan: Well, that’s a bit of a harsh judgment, Lee.

Rodgers: No it isn’t, no it isn’t. No, it’s only common sense. What does the guy do? He’s demonstrated two hundred some odd times where he’s been caught. This doesn’t even count all the times he’s gotten away with crimes. So what the hell is the point of letting some creep like this live? What is the point? Now you start with the Sears DieHard, the battery cables connected to his testicles, and you entertain him with that for a while, and then you blow his bleeping head off. Thank you very much.

Morgan: That’s what I like about you. You’re so temperate.

It’s a bit different when you find out that Rodgers and Morgan were discussing a felon that had been arrested 236 times, and were thereby using the Sears DieHard image to mock the justice and penal systems for his continued presence on the streets. Wouldn’t you agree?

Context is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Oh yeah. Since he's a criminal, it's apparently shameful and remarkable been tortured and then summarily executed = along with the judges who should have "Done Something." And just to make a vivid point of what our justice system should be doing to such persons, a photo of an Iraqi prisoner being "Stressed" at Abu Grab-ass is casually inserted.

This context doesn't help the case; Indeed, it makes it seem even more depraved.

NewsBusters is saying that it's perfectly OK to torture and abuse people, as long as they are BAD people. And how do we KNOW they are "bad people?" Because someone in a position of social authority - that is to say, someone like Lee Rodgers - says so.

Note that we have no idea what the arrests are for, but we know for sure that there's no more than two felonies. I'm not saying we are talking about a good citizen, and I'm not arguing that our system of justice comes up with outcomes that are just, fair or even reasonably predictable from ANY viewpoint of How Things Ought To Work.

But we have the rule of law and a system of justice in order to prevent vigilante action, because the people that tend to be vigilantes tend also to be racist xenophobes who hang strangers and give their buddies free passes for equally bad behavior. Kinda like NewsBusters.

With this one post, "NewsBusters" shows it's true colors as an apologist for the indefensible, rather than the media watchdog it claims to be.

That is a shame, by the way; Media Matters seems mainly to focus on the sins of the Right and there is definitely a need for a balancing viewpoint. But NewsBusters isn't fulfilling that need; it simply dismisses all critique of the Right as "Liberal Media Bias," no matter how accurate that criticism may be. That's not a service, it's an insult to our intelligence, not to mention the law.

Hate Has No Place on the Airwaves (Media Matters)


In preparing this post for publication, I found that NewsBusters was hotlinking images: the Iraqi torturee image is here
and the picture of Lee Rodgers, so stern and all authoritarian was discourtesy of the NYTimes.
On the rest of the page - cartoon of David Brock, stolen from
Air America logo:
Bart Simpson:

Somehow, I don't think hotlinking without attribution or permission to be a sterling example of journalistic integrity. Actually, it's both a potential copyright violation (though fair comment usages apply, of course) AND theft of bandwidth.

Ironic, considering how that "contextual correction" was to the effect that a pattern of criminality made it OK to hook someone's testicles up to a Sears Die-Hard and having a bit of fun before blowing their heads off.

I wonder aloud at this point if NewsBusters is compliant with the letter and spirit of a .org registrant. As they seem to maintain their own servers, direct complaints are likely to be futile, unless they come upon litigious letterheads, but servers have been blackholed for such things before. Bandwidth theft on such a blatantly large scale is an Internet Spanking Offense.

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