Saturday, July 19, 2008

You Gotta Fight for the Right to be AS

Apparently Autism Speaks did not complain to Zazzle about Zach's particular design. Zach reports that it was a mistake on the part of Zazzle content reviewers.

Zazzle: Well we have recieved letters in the past from um ah Autism Speaks in regards to prodcuts withtrademark violations so when our um content management staff came across this product they believed this shirt was in the um past correspondence with Autism Speaks but uh they did not specifically call on this product, this was a decision by an employee from content managment.


Me: So this was just a decision by your staff?

Zazzle: Uh yes, because we thought it was in past correspondace with some past products that were brough to out attention.

Me: Could you tell me specifically what is the copyright violation on the shirt

Zazzle: Well orriginally we thought it was because the Autism Speaks wordmark.

Me: But you do understand the fair use and parody clauses in the copyright laws right?

Zazzle: Yes - we understand - and thats why your recent shirts are still on the site right now.
So Zazzle was gun-shy after being pestered by AS other times about violations of their trademark puzzle piece. The irony is that in being overzelous in chiding their friends, they caused Zazzle to inadvertently Poke The Aspie.

Autism Speaks Sues Autistic People sticker

Herein lies the initial provocation - a parody of the Autism Speaks site.

But the story continues - over at Zazzle of all places, where Zach got a takedown notice from Zazzle for this shirt.

I just received a legal notice from the big bad bully Autism Speaks because I designed a t-shirt that says “Autism Speaks Can Go Away.” It appears Autism Speaks is now using legal threats to shut up Autistic people that disagree with there stance on Autism.

The Tshirt In QuestionMany people know Autism Speaks threatned the parents of an Autistic Child for creating a website that poked fun at the organization Autism Speaks, an organization she does like either. Well it appears they are not done threatening Autistic People who stand up against them as an organization. To the left is the T-shirt in question that prompted a legal threat from Autism Speaks.

So my question is if your Autistic and you try and use the resources you have in hand to speak out against an organization that spews hatred and negativity about Autistic people, claiming to represent them what are you to do? Autism Speaks does not speak for me, I can speak for myself. But apparently I am not allowed to say that!

Did you know that Autism Speaks does not have one person with Autism employed or in a leadership role of the organization? Not one person with Autism contributes to the decision making of Autism Speaks at all. So what are the Autistic Peoples course of action when they disagree with Autism Speaks?

Ok, when a supposed autistic advocacy group is suing autistics for expressing themselves, a throuough bitch-slapping is in order, even IF there were legitimate violations of intellectual property occuring. This is not true in either case, it's pure intimidation and more proof, if any is needed, that the LAST people qualified to speak on behalf of autistics is "Autism Speaks."

I think it's time to stir up some shirt. I have not yet come up with the perfect comment for this particular insult to the First Amendment rights of Autistics, or to the intelligence of those with a more nuanced view of the situation than that slickly-promoted quack factory, (in my humble opinion, of course) but I have some that will do for the moment.

This one is relatively polite - though if you click thru you will find that the words in the graphic are as aspie-blunt as can be.

(The design is copy-left, and can be downloaded here. I encourage you to use it for whatever you like, including (especially) fund-raising for intelligent autism awareness. All required compliances are included in the image itself.)

This is my most brutal graphic response to this whole concept; if you'd like it on a button, here you go.

I also have it on all sorts of other products. I particularly like the baseball shirt. Feel free to nab this copy as a site graphic, or post illustration.

Now, what I want to do here is to have everyone with their own related designs anywhere to link them here.

This action on the part of Autism Speaks is offensive and frankly, intolerable. But it's the sort of response that is best addressed by widespread, pointed mockery and willful, manifest contempt.

On T-Shirts. Made by you. The easiest for most people is, Cafepress requires a little more in terms of graphics, but neither is all that difficult. Feel free to ask me about any issues that come up, and by all means, raise this issue in their blogs and forums. I surely intend to, later today.

During an errand today and the discussion in the car about this issue and of course my own AS issues and those of my stepson who's having quite a time with anxiety issues right now, my wife expressed some significant discomfort with the emphasis I have been placing on how I don't want a cure, or seemingly so. Well, clearly if my own wife is confused on this point, I need to make myself much clearer.

I love the way my mind works, when I am able to avoid all the things that make it stop working the way I love it to work. Being entirely human, I do like to pretend those are minor little exceptions to a general blessing. Indeed, it's that sort of charming little self-delusion that I understand to be diagnostic of not being clinically depressed. Yep - I am usefully deluding myself; that means the meds are working!

But AS does interfere with my life and not just those parts of life I'd be inclined to avoid in any case. Things I'd very much like to be able to do are variably difficult to impossible, and in maddningly unpredictable ways. I would love to have cure for that - but at the current state of the art, I greatly fear that it might be a drug not unlike Lamasil; a cure for toenail fungus that poses a risk of liver failure, a significant risk to anyone with a background that might have already caused some loss of liver function.

I am all for looking for a cure, though I suspect it won't be one thing. I'm very much not for coming up with an overbroad genetic treatment; I think that would very likely lobotomize civilization. What I want is something that allows me to apply myself better, and here is the important part; it must be better from MY perspective.

Meanwhile, as we do not have a cure, or anything remotely resembling one, with no earthly idea as to exactly why there are so many AS persons appearing when they were not noticed before, it seems to me that a cautious and conservative approach to the matter is in order. Cautious and Conservative in a medical sense is "First, Do No Harm."

And I'm afraid that far too many of the "treatments" offered to parents are potentially harmful.

Luperon, the chemical castration agent. No downside there.

Chelation therapy. Not good for a body. Necessary if one is carrying an insupportable load of heavy metal toxins, but there's not enough science to allow anyone to give us a useful cost/benefit, risk/reward readout on it. Then there is Applied Behavioral Analysis - which is quite a potent tool and all too often applied by people with no better qualifications than, oh, say, your average Amway representative in terms training hours.

Behavioristic approaches have some inherent limitations; when I see those limitations seriously discussed by proponents of it, I'll be much more open to the broader application of the toolkit itself. But right now, I see it as being a protocol that has a huge deficit; it tends to attract authoritarian and abusive personalities - the very last people who should be applying powerful mind-control techniques. Or rather, if you want a positive outcome in life for the adult who is now a child, that is the case. If you want a well-programmed robot who will never be able to function independently, it's just the ticket.

Further, we know one thing for sure from the 1 in 150 statistic; the condition is being overdiagnosed, overhyped and of course, both condition and cure are evidently very profitable. There is a direct financial benefit toward overstating the necessity for a "cure."

Just as there is a distinct personal benefit in trying to pretend that meaningful and useful treatments would be unwelcome.

In fact, what I would love to have happen is a genuine study of all the various wetware configurations, and some growing understanding of what they represent, what they do best, how they may be triggered, and how they can be turned on and off at will. THAT is what I'd like.

I would love to be able to have a bottle of NT pills, just so I could pop one and head out for a spontaneous night of fun. And I know damn well there are many people that would love to have the mental focus I'm capable of - if they were sure it would wear off! (It would be nice to have brakes, yes, it would.)

New York Times Publishes Terroristic Threats

There are certain things you simply do not publish. Terror threats for the benefit of one another nation against another are not things you need even bother running past the State Department. One is either the editor of one of the most respected newspapers in the world, or one is a willing shill and agent of a foreign power. And I word that latter part charitably, for without the context of the editorial page of the New York Times, Benny Morris would simply be one of many Strangelovian enablers of horror.
Joseph A. Palermo: Professor Benny Morris: Nuclear War to Avoid Nuclear War: "In today's New York Times the Israeli academic Benny Morris, in an article fittingly entitled 'Using Bombs to Stave Off War,' opines that a 'preemptive' nuclear conflagration in the Middle East could have some kind of positive outcome for Israel, the United States, and the world. It's a disgraceful piece of intellectual demagoguery based on mind-boggling, and really quite insane, situational ethics. 'Israel,' Morris's lead begins, 'will almost certainly attack Iran's nuclear sites in the next four to seven months.'"
I direct you to the full article at Huffpo. Meanwhile, I shall respond in the same general vein.

When threats are made that can reasonably be presumed, given context, to have the full, if veiled intent of two of the most powerful and dangerously touchy nations in the world behind them, it would be insane to not take precautions. Since Iran has no ability to match even Israel in terms of conventional war-fighting ability, it would make perfect sense to approach this issue asymmetrically.

Indeed, I would advise them to do so, for the great advantage of intelligently managed asymmetrical warfare is that it has the potential of directly addressing those who are responsible for a policy.

Yes, were I being consulted, I would advise Iran to take some immediate steps to neutralize this threat and fortunately, there are ways to do this without resort to the asymmetrical deterrents that trouble my dreams from time to time. One hopes that the government of Iran recognizes they are being baited and responds with cunning, rather than in kind.

In history, there are examples where envoys have been returned in pieces as the response to far less implacable threats, and of course that is your basic pretext for war. It's lovely to realize that GWB is willing to sacrifice New York City in order to achieve a goal.


I, personally, take great exception to the New York Times facilitating such a threat and allowing those issuing it the cover of a US population base - and their employees. I do hope that Iran is capable of a precisely calculated and measured response. I sincerely hope and encourage the use of words instead of bombs, blades or bullets.

But to say that the surgical use of bullets and blades would be inappropriate - that is not something I can bring myself to say, and I'm horrified that anyone could think to be a shill for such a proposition and think they can or should be held innocent of part of that intent.

The New York Times has published a terrorist threat, made by one Benny Morris. It would be laughable under the circumstances to think for a moment that this is NOT done with the full approval of Israel and the State Department - indeed, of George Bush, personally. And somehow it got past the editorial board, without anyone raising the obvious objection to an act.

Fortunately, this suggests a viable course of asymmetrical action that is apt, just and one which neither Israel NOR the US Government is likely to be able to effectively counter.

If I were president, and this happened on my watch, I'd be publicly peeling a strip off the New York Times AFTER recalling the Ambassador to Israel for "prolonged consultation." Indeed, I'd probably recall the embassy - citing the need for "asbestos abatement and structural enhancement."

So a case could be made (and an obvious alliance exists) that even tacit support of Israel's threats amounts to yet another impeachable offense, if it does not indeed rise to the level of acting as an agent of a foreign power. That's the polite phrase for treason.

I find it remarkable that the legal staff at the NYT have not raised the issue that furthering the ends of those who have already met the standard for impeachment and arguably for treason is a consequential act. But since they have not, allow me to explain why legitimizing the threats Israel is making is very bad policy for the Times - and for the United States.

I long ago learned that those who presume upon your friendship are not your friends. When they presume upon your friendship in ways that puts you in danger, they are neither friends nor allies; they have become dangerous parasites at best and enemies at worst. In neither case do you permit them to continue exploiting your good nature. When your President clearly considers that it's worthwhile putting the American civilian population at risk in order to perpetuate the current government of Israel and it's manifestly inhumane and unethical policies - it's time to remove that President from office.

I think this action shows such a public contempt for the good will and well-being of the American people in general, and the people of New York City in particular that it can only lend credibility to the premise that Israel was somehow involved in the 9/11 conspiracy by virtue of the fact that they are clearly trying to set the scene for this to happen again.

You see, if I happened to have a weapon of mass destruction available, or could construct one from bits purchased at home depot, and people were making such inadvisable threats toward MY nation and my interests, I would certainly consider arranging things so that even if my nation were to be turned into "a glazed crater," those responsible would not emerge unscathed.

That is such an obvious precaution that I'd be stunned if it has not been taken. And not JUST by Iran.

Indeed, it may well be that 9/11 was the result of such a long-extant "precaution" on the part of Israel. The problem is, things have been well arranged to ensure that we will likely never know. But let us face it; it's possible for such things to be done by any competent intelligence agency with any amount of foresight - and the evident possibility of the need for Iran (as well as any number of other small powers) to have such a "hole card" has been clear - or should have been clear - since the seventies.

Because, as I said, the only sane course of response - indeed, the only response a power like Iran is capable of is asymmetrical. Sane defense planners take such realities into consideration - on both sides of any potential conflict.

Well - the logical response here would be a more or less precise strike against targets that are related to the insult: The New York Times, the Israeli Embassy or the State Department would be on the short list as a response to this incident - if unleashing a pre-placed WMD were an appropriate or useful response.

I sincerely hope it is not seen as such. As I hinted above, and hint again - there's a far better and even more appropriate response.

Nonetheless, I think that if I were an employee of any of these and hundreds of other relevant response targets, I should greatly resent it and would deeply consider a change in career.

Regarding the New York Times, it would certainly cause me to reassess the prestige of working there and the regard and assumptions made about me due to my byline being seen upon their pages.

In short, I'm revolted. This was a contemptible act with potentially gravely dangerous implications. I hope the bribe was sufficient to sooth the consciences of those involved. Presuming there exists such a thing, of course.

For citizens of these United States, we who already have far too much evidence of the contempt for which our putative leaders have for us - there is but one possible response to a government that would even consider floating a trial balloon for a global thermonuclear conflict as a means of addressing personal and political goals.

Impeachment, removal from office, trials and convictions under relevant domestic laws for treason and then remand to the Hague for trial under international law for war crimes for those for whom such indictments have been issued.

We have (provisionally) free speech in this country. But free speech does not mean that when threats are freely spoken that it is at all reasonable to expect freedom from consequence. Indeed, the law recognize that the utterance of a threat is an exception.

Well, this is precisely such a case. It's an obvious, intended threat, meant to intimidate. And I would suggest to Iran that they hire the most vicious and effective firm they can find to sue the New York Times and Persons to Be Named Later immediately. I suggest further that they set up a web page for the effort and solicit donations for the legal and public campaign.

I would suggest that this be done in as many venues as possible, as soon as possible.

Economic warfare is also war - and has the advantage of being potentially vastly entertaining to we, the people of these here United States who will no doubt be the largest donors to the cause. And while, yes, you could blockade the Strait of Hormuz and cause gas prices to spike to ten bucks a gallon - this response is far better tactically and cost-efficient. Nor does it offer any legitimate pretext to either Israel OR the United States to wage war against you - rather, it sets up a considerable political deterrent.

Should you do this - and I would suggest doing this as openly and as transparently as possible - I will support it. This response is not terrorism. It's a legal and civilized response to uncivil, illegal and terroristic acts that are aimed at you.

Potential prize - legitimate ownership of the New York Times. Certainly a great deal of expense, mental pain and suffering for those directly and subsequently responsible for the injury. The satisfaction of seeing a few moderately conspicuous Satans held financially if not legally accountable, and a not-bad shot of contributing to the latter outcome as well.

I mean, seriously, you-all who make such decisions worldwide - is this not exactly the course Sun Tsu would advise?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bailing out of the Handbasket...

I got an email from OpEd news, telling me all their news, and this headline leaped at my face.

Why is Bush So Interested in Our Vaginas?

A really awful pun connected to what I presumed (correctly) to be an important essay on reproductive choice is always worth reading, even if one can only nod. Which is what I do, in passing.

Even though I had nothing to add but a nod, this was not true of others. I was struck by a comment to the thread consisted of a whole-page excerpt from this site: What IS the World Coming To? Seriously.

It's a very well-written discussion of the ethics and consequences of the clash between pro-choice and anti-choice movements.

I use the term anti-choice for two reasons; first, because it's factually accurate and the term "pro-life" is not. Second, because I do not wish to imply that I'm impartial. No person with a decent respect for individual liberty, privacy and the sanctity of informed, conscientious choice can be.

My position on abortion is simple - if you do not like the idea of abortion, which is inarguably an ugly option at best, work to address the things that make so many people get to that choice-point.

In a perfect world, the outcome of a woman getting pregnant would be that a baby would be born and raised in a loving, caring, comfortable family. I think we all can agree on that.
Um... I would agree. I think most sane people would agree. I thing that most people that study the Bible and take it as a serious source of ethical and moral instruction would agree, even as I believe that most humanists would. I'm not so sure about the loudest assholes farting their way to the forefront of our current "culture war."

I think that in their perfect world, they will define what loving, caring and comfortable are. They will define who gets pregnant, by whom, and when - and those are pre-requisites for ANY consequent love, caring and comfort.

In order to reinforce that view, they will do their best to ensure that those who are born outside of those strictures are an intolerable misery to those that bore them, that they bear the brunt of social disapproval, and that all their pleas for help and compassion are denied as "whining," as "laziness" or "greed."

Their mothers will be characterized as "welfare queens," and all ills they and their families and their neighborhoods will be attributed to "sin" and "rebellion against god" - who's words are of course easily found by tuning your tee-vee to the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Yes, there is a culture war. But it was started by those who say that "Christians are being persecuted." In fact, no actual Christianity is involved, and those real Christians who happen to be on the wrong side of the line on this had best pull their heads out of the churches and compare what should be going on - according to what you are being told - with what IS going on, and most critically, what promised, prophetic consequences are coming down upon whom.

I mean, if you don't want to be collateral damage.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jon Swift's on The New Yorker's Obama cover

The always brilliant Jon Swift, who has been busy with important work lately, takes time to blog about just what The New Yorker intended with its cover of Obama in Muslim clothes and his wife Michelle tricked up in Revolutionary gear as the Flag burns in the their fireplace. Whenever the great Jon Swift puts up a post, don't miss it! [NOT to be missed! BK]

read more | digg story

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm All In - Part 2

In I'm All In, I promised a follow-up when I was more capable of dealing rationally with the issue. But ultimately, this does affect me on a much deeper level than the rational, and probably in a way that Shakes might disapprove of.

Ya see, I'm a patriarch. Note the lower-case p. I didn't set out to be one, it was a complete accident, but I'm the head of a household and I'm male-bodied, and the other parties are female-bodied, and there it is.

It's all "old tapes," but they are the only tapes we have. Clearly they are of a better quality than those of our parents - but at some point, we-all nodded, looked at each other and stopped worrying about stuff that works, even when it "shouldn't."

There's enough stuff that doesn't work when it should to fuss about such things, especially when you are getting invitations to join the AARP in the mail.

I'll probably write an amusing, gently enlightning post on the ethical culture of the enlightened patriarchy sometime. But right now, I think it more useful to react to this unapologetically as a person cast in that role and unembarrassed to admit it.

Why? Because "Patriarch" does not mean "perp!" (I understand your confusion, trust me!)

It is not synonymous with bully culture or jock culture. It is a social structure and it has it's own ethos and standards, coming from the Middle East and the Levitical code, and as much again from Scots and Irish clan structure.

It has bad aspects and good aspects, and I'd be the first to admit - hell, insist - that far more of the bad than the good are entrenched in our culture. Quite fucking deliberately. You see, in an ethical patriarchy, there are mutual obligations of duty, fealty, protection, loyalty and obedience, and, well, such things are so very awkward and inconvenient to Men of the World, eh?

But like any other social structure, it's ONLY justification and the only reason to donate any portion of your liberty and freedom of action is to enhance your life and allow you to grow and flourish as a person to the degree that you can.

It's the duty of the Patriarch to ensure that his group, his clan, his family DOES flourish.

Crap like that - that ensures the precise opposite. It ensures corruption, rot and heedlessness. It is not patriarchy, it's a Rape Culture. Don't dignify it with the term "Patriarchy."

The idea that this happened within an ambulance service is particularly shocking; it's the betrayal of duty on so many different levels that I'm enraged.

But worst of all is this:

...In July, 2005, the chief executive of the NSW Ambulance Service, Greg Rochford, wrote to Mr Hodder and said an investigation had been completed.

The letter, also made public, reveals the service began the investigation three days before Christine Hodder died and found a culture of male dominance... It recommended staff receive training in workplaces free of harassment and bullying, that the service should explore how to change the behaviour of staff, and that no female officer be appointed to Cowra for six months.

No officer was disciplined.

In my understanding of the term, this would mean that it would be time for a new Patriarch. because the old leader would have proven that he was unworthy, a useless leader.

If I go to my Norman roots, I believe the term would be "A Luckless Foe-Bringer."

No person "under my hand" can be considered truly dispensable, and women hold a special place in patriarchies. And no, it's not for the "obvious reasons." Women, if protected, well fed and unstressed, LIVE longer than men; considerably longer than men who wear swords or hunt boar with spears and hounds; even when you factor in the risks of childbirth.

Meanwhile, again, if you look back at it, men have to learn active and dangerous skills, and become very good at them very quickly if they ever expect to get out of their twenties alive.

That's why in most cultures, women manage the household. They are the ones with the planning skills, the training, the knowledge. Men - men, for the most part, are expendable.

Men who manage to avoid being expended in service to the clan have a shot at becoming a Patriarch. But the job isn't different - it's just that instead of your life or your dignity, personally, it's the life, honor and dignity of your clan at stake and there's always the possibility that you will have to suck in your antique gut, strap your rusty sword on your hip and hope that you give a good enough account of yourself that your widow(s) will have some ground upon which to negotiate. You will do this because your life IS your family, your clan, your group, and you fucked up. Even if your fuckup was to tolerate a fuckups, Daddy doesn't permit unfixed fuckups on his watch.

Of all the occasions of all the drama within all the sagas of patriarchal cultures, all too much of it has to do with rapes of, thefts of and insults to women. Why is that? It's not due to any historical shortage of nookie.

Women are the institutional memory of the clan. And when clans and tribes stole women, they were stealing knowledge, techniques, spiritual concepts - part of your tribe's "mana." In other words, women do not merely represent status and power - they ARE the power, and confer that status.

The children they bear are the future of the tribe, the family, the clan. That's all the real wealth there is, to be decorated with gold and other trinkets to indicate value, not display wealth.

You go into any current patriarchal culture, and you will probably find an old woman dripping in gold sitting quietly somewhere to the left and behind of the man in charge.

Watch her very carefully. She taught him most everything he knows and he will make no decision without her. And not merely due to habit, indoctrination and culture, but because she has the wisdom.

(I am of the opinion that functional patriarchal cultures are actually dual cultures - publicly patriarchal, privately matriarchal, of equal overall significance. Not that we have a lot of history relating to sane cultures...)

But it seems to be one expression of a natural pattern. Take my wife - no punchline. I didn't lose my freedom when I married her, I gained the wisdom to know how badly I needed her. Just ask her, she'll tell ya.

And she would be entirely correct.

There are things that she can do that I cannot, and vice versa. Due to our mutual histories, there is really only one workable pattern for us, and since it looks like patriarchy, and I have the beard for it, that's what we shall call it.

Ok, I'm obviously having to sneak up on the essence of this.

This wasn't a "sin of the Patriarchy." This was murder, pure and simple. And betrayal of trust. And depraved indifference. It is flat out the funkiest case of evil I've recently heard of - and I've been talking about Karl Rove. So as a patriarch, I have to wonder, why is she dead and her husband suing, rather than the other way around?

Because that's his fucking job. In a real Patriarchal culture, or just a Male-Dominated one, it was his job to go in, take HER boss (overseer / patriarch) aside and conversationally say that if such issues ever arise again, he will be held personally accountable.

And if they do, as they did, sneer and ignore that promise, it's his duty to carry through. However that works out.

Apparently the culture of that remote town was perverted enough to anticipate that and work against him as well - but in such cases, it's the Patriarch's duty, yeah, his duty to god (can you hear the voice roll?)to LEAD his people OUT of bondage in this Egypt of death Toward a new dawn in the Promised Land.

Or, more practically speaking, Canada.

I do not approve of such a culture, where "crap flows downhill" and the people below exist only to be picked on. I don't approve of a culture where such a thing could be shrugged off as unchangeable. Because, if all else fails, it's easily changed.

Testicles seem designed to be detached from the undeserving. I think of that as a feature, not a bug.

I consider it unethical to either kick down or kiss up, and both behaviors strike me as both contemptible and inexplicable. That's my Asperger's, I'm told. If so, I'm thinking that aspect to be evidence supporting the possibility of human evolution.

I do not think it at all improper to remove people from the gene pool when they prove themselves genetically incapable of decency in the presence of high levels of testosterone, so my avocation of neutering dangerously large problem children is the essence of Compassionate Conservatism.

I imagine I'll have more to say about the Ethics of the Patriarchy, since when I think on it, it's pretty much the lack of them I talk about, so it might be an idea to illustrate an affirmative standard. I won't be doing that in Patriarchy's defense. My standard for Patriarchy is the same as it is for Republicanism or Democracy or for that matter, "Feminist Cabals."

They are to be judged for what they are, what they achieve and at what price.

And I, for one, am decidedly unimpressed with achievements that boil down to unusually durable or especially deadly phallic symbols.

Yes, I know, this template sucks too.

But please be patient with me. I'm as annoyed by it as you are, but hell, that's what RSS feeds are for. I'm still finding stuff I screwed up switching to this template!

Make 'em laugh and they'll cough up the cash."

Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, ‘Where is that marvelous ape?’" John McCain, 1986, The Tucson Citizen: (PDF)

He told this "joke" to a conference of the National League of Cities and Towns, while in the process of campaigning for Senate. Well, any campaign handbook will tell you to "make 'em laugh" - and experience will tell you that the best way to "make 'em laugh" is to take aim at the folks that you know trouble the folks who have the money you want. The beautiful thing about a crude joke is that it's deniable, at the very worst, you get a little free publicity (they will tell you,) all provided by "those bitches who won't vote for you anyway."

You see, when you tell a joke like that, you are sending a message. "I'm with you. I don't like these uppity women and "gorillas" any more than you do."

Of course, you do scan the room to see if there were any women or "gorillas," but no doubt there were only a couple-three servers and secretaries, so he wasn't concerned.

Betcha five bucks he's got coon jokes tailored (by a focus group) for the Hispanic community. Considering who he's running against - I bet you he's got a LOT of them.

This comes via Rum, Romanism and Rebellion who have a fun bit of shwag.

This one is a sure-fire gift for every button collector on your November is as Good as Christmas List.

Polish-Mexicans for Obama, 2 1/4" Button
Polish-Mexicans for Obama, 2 1/4" Button

Why Ethics?

Personally, I think the reasons why are obvious - but I've met Anthony Anderson's ill-bred ilk many, many times. Anthony Anderson resides in Hartlepool, England, and clearly neither he nor his neighbors were listening when the pastor explained "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Christine Lakinski, a 50-year-old physically and mentally disabled woman, was returning home with some parcels when she fell ill and stumbled into her doorway, losing consciousness. One of her neighbors, 27-year-old Anthony Anderson, and two of his mates, noticed her lying there; Anderson first kicked her feet to try to rouse her, then dumped a bucket of water on her. When she still failed to respond, he urinated on her and covered her in shaving foam—all of which was captured on a mobile phone. On the video, Anderson is heard to shout "This is YouTube material!" as he degrades Lakinski while she slowly dies of pancreatic failure. This bit of vile revelry attracts a crowd, all of whom "were said to have laughed at his actions."
Anthony is now most remorseful, having been brought to dock.

Anderson, who has pleaded guilty to "outraging public decency," will be sentenced next month. Prosecutor Lynne Dalton, who recommended an enhanced sentence at yesterday's hearing, explained: "Although his actions did not contribute to her death it was appalling behaviour that robbed her of any dignity in the last hours of her life."

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you - for, they will. Whichever you prefer. And that is what the science and art of "Not Fucking Up" entails.

But it's not just a negative art - it's an affirmative duty. And as it happens, Melissa McEwan has uttered words that should resonate throughout the English-Speaking blogosphere - and to all lands where those who can translate it with the poetic weight it deserves.

Shakesville: All In:
I make a difference in this world, for good or ill. There is no neutral. There is no Switzerland. There is only saying no to the indignities one human visits upon another—prejudice, hatred, humiliation and pain—or saying yes. And silence, the craven averting of one's gaze so the offense may take place out of view, is not a no. It is not ambiguous. It is a yes. Yes, go ahead, just don't do it to me. It is a permission, and a plea. I'll sacrifice her if you'll let me on my merry way. We routinely cede our expectations of goodness for guarantees of safety, but only our own, and we can no longer fool ourselves that men like Anthony Anderson are aberrations; they are, in the void of unyielding solidarity our self-interest has left, inevitabilities.

There is no neutral. You're in or you're fucking out.

I'm all in.

I'm All In

What she said.

Bullied to Death by Misogynists

"We make a difference in this world, for good or ill. There is no neutral. There is no Switzerland. There is only saying no to the indignities one human visits upon another—prejudice, hatred, humiliation and pain—or saying yes. And silence, the craven averting of one's gaze so the offense may take place out of view, is not a no. It is not ambiguous. It is a yes. Yes, go ahead, just don't do it to me. It is a permission, and a plea. I'll sacrifice her if you'll let me on my merry way. We routinely cede our expectations of goodness for guarantees of safety, but only our own, and we can no longer fool ourselves that men like these are aberrations; they are, in the void of unyielding solidarity our self-interest has left, inevitabilities.

There is no neutral. You're in or you're fucking out.

I'm all in."
That's the last paragraph.

The second, after a request to male feminist allies to read:

Rarely do stories sent to me about the real world effects of misogyny upset me as much as has this one, sent to me by Shaker Helen (who hat tips Hell on Hairy Legs). It was only after a rather extensive session of blubbing that I was able to start in on a post, not that I've got much brilliant to say, aside from: FUCK.
Yeah. Megadittos. To the extent that I'm dumping this in the feed as a bookmark. Because right now, what I want to say amounts to this - if you are in a situation that is so hostile that you cannot survive it and for whatever reason, you cannot escape it, why NOT take a few of the bastards with you?

I think I need to refine that position, and I will. After I punch a hole in a wall, or something manly like that.

BTW; Shakes; Not a "feminist ally." Just a fellow human being. As opposed to the sort of thing that caused this death. Those creatures are "Not Human Beings."

"Be done by as you did." Yeah. That's what I'm hanging the followup on.

Update: Not exactly. Maybe part three. GOD, this pisses me off. And yes, that was intended as communication with Whoever.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Things that Make you Wonder Aloud...

The Turd Riech
Yes, dear readers, there are T-Shirts.
According to Statcounter, there's a significant demand!

But don't worry, the design isn't as tasteless as you might think
That's not a swastika. It's a Turd Blossom!

A lot of things are coming together in the public consciousness - and of course they have to be put there.

Which makes you wonder - about what is not being said, and why hints must be dropped loudly on C-Span, rather than facts directly stated at a press conference.

Emptywheel » Yeah, What ABOUT that Anthrax Terrorist?

Call me crazy. But after viewing this very creepy exchange between Patrick Leahy and Michael Mukasey regarding the anthrax killer, I got the feeling that both of them know exactly who sent those anthrax-laden letters almost seven years ago.

Leahy uses the recent settlement between Hatfill and DOJ to raise the issue. As he raises it, he notes that he is privy to classified information about the anthrax killer, and because of that he has refrained from even discussing the case.

Leahy: I almost hate to get into the case of Steven Hatfill. I've refrained from discussing this, I've refused to discuss it with the press. I've told them some aspects of it I was aware of were classified so of course I could not discuss it but also, considering the fact that my life was threatened by an anthrax letter, two people died who touched a letter addressed to me I was supposed to open, I'm somewhat concerned.

What happened?

Mukasey: That case ...

Then Leahy makes a curious statement: we're paying Hatfill, which means that the guy who committed the crime is going free.

Leahy: We're paying Hatfill millions of dollars, the indication being the guy who committed the crime went free.

Emptywheel goes on to observe that both seem to be fairly certain about exactly who "the guy" is, but cannot say so, implying it's classified, that inquiry is forbidden, etc.

And that seems to be a common theme today, that "the truth is out there" but you have to dig it up for yourself - because congress cannot or will not. This may explain why. I don't know if it's true but it doesn't insult my intelligence like the official stories do.

Who's involved in all of the "official stories?" Yeah. Karl Rove. There seems to be a Turd Blossom floating in the Rotunda; the common theme in all things that are known, implied, hinted at, blogged, speculated upon - but never directly stated authoritatively - lest one have an unfortunate encounter with some unidentifiable toxin, imprisoned on false charges, or perhaps found to have kiddy porn on your computer.

What do you think "sneak and peek" warrants are for?

Velvet Revolution has some several entries on the Siegalman railroading featuring video interviews with Don Siegelman. Among other things, he alleges that the election to replace him was... um. Not left to chance.

Our YouTube videos of Mr. Siegelman and are getting thousands of views. We now have a new streaming 20-minute interview of Mr. Siegelman with tons of new powerful information including allegations that his last election for Governor was electronically manipulated—flipped—by GOP partisans directed by Karl Rove. Watch that video here.

For members of the media, we have high resolution footage of our Don Siegelman interview available for broadcast.

Yeah, don't hold your breath, guys. But here's the essential point:
"We won't know the truth until Congress digs it out, and that's why it is so incredibly important that anybody that reads your blog...gets on the phone, gets on their computer, or writes Congress and tells them to hold Karl Rove in contempt if he does not show up to testify on July 10th." - Don Siegelman

My computer tells me that it's the 15th. That sounds like "Inherent Contempt" to me. Which has led many to speculate why the Seargent of Arms has not been directed to bring Rove before congress, with the suggestion that "we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way."

A whole string of such thing have perhaps led to a more generalized contempt FOR congress, as the Brad Blog dryly reports.

Speaker Pelosi has signaled that an Article of Impeachment charging Bush with lying to Congress about his pretexts for invading Iraq might at least get a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

There's no way to know what, if any, changes in conditions may have prompted her to rethink impeachment, but it may have something to do with a new Rasmussen poll released on Tuesday that found approval of Congress at 9 percent, which is essentially a statistical zero.

"If all else fails, do the right thing."

Jon Ponder, guest blogger, continues:

True, the fact that Bush's lies cost the lives of 4,116 lives of US service men and women, injuries to over 30,000 of our troops, the deaths of over 1 million innocent Iraqi civilians, the destruction of Iraq, and a long term cost over $3 trillion may not rise to the level of a sex lie about a blowjob, but it at least deserves a hearing.

The article speculates as to why Pelosi took impeachment off the table in the first place. I do not think anyone who's survived to get to be in her position is incapable of doing basic political caclulus, and when presented with an opportunity to do the right thing, the constitutionally mandated thing, the legally required thing, the arguably popular thing AND end up as president pro-tem, with a clear shot at the party's nomination, generally you'd expect a different result than such altruism alluded to "maintaining unity during a time of crisis" or whatever twaddle it was she uttered at the time.

Me, I'm thinking Rove's little "object lessons" have more to do with it. Object lessons like, oh, say, the Hammer's Gerrymandering of Texas. Or the Siegalman affair. I'm not saying Rove is "the guy" behind the Anthrax thing, but he's for sure the first guy I would ask.

Between immersions, I'm tempted to say!

I mean, considering that in matters of national security, the executive branch has insisted that "enhanced interrogation procedures" are perfectly ok, it would be entirely proper to take them at their word and set up a waterboarding for Rove.

The fact that Rove refuses to testify under oath makes me chuckle. Why should Congress have to accept his word that he's telling the truth when they could bring in an "expert" to ensure he's highly motivated to reveal every little detail.

It could be C-Span's first pay-per-view event!

But, in case it was not clear, I am not even remotely suggesting that would be the right thing to do. It would be wrong, and it would be evil. Sometimes, in order for Good to survive, Irony must be taken off the table.

Not impeachment, however. And when Rove cites the fifth amendment, that will certainly be enough to impeach the administration, pending full investigation, while keeping material witnesses - who may well pose a flight risk - in custody.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On a more important note

I got some great artwork done...

Fae in the Fernwoods Poster from

8 Failed Years

clipped from
The Legacy Of George W. Bush's Presidency
 blog it

Tim Couch; Is he a Pedophile, an Idiot, or just a Republican?

It appears that there is no social problem so worrisome or dangerous that it cannot be made even worse by a state legislator. And of late, it seems that the Republicans have been far more successful in recruiting idiots than Democrats.

Kansas State Representative Tim "Creepy" Couch wants to "keep your children safe" by ensuring they aren't harassed by "online bullies."

He intends to do this in such a way as to make sure that any pedophile with a website will have a legally unassailable reason for collecting your child's personally identifiable information. Oh, and yours too. Just in case they also happen to be into credit fraud.

It would be terribly insulting to allege that he's that stupid, considering how many fine organizations he belongs to, like the Chamber of Commerce and the Church of God. He's clearly networked a lot, and he's a small business owner, so it's implausible to suggest that in this day and age he's too dumb to understand the very basics of How Things Like These Here Tubez work. And, as a legislator, he must at least have a copy of the Constitution to review.

Now, as a republican, he must be somewhat familiar with the general distaste of conservative voters for undue regulation, and again, I take him to be a sincere example of a republican, and not some telegenic shill with a theocratic agenda. No, I'm sorry. He's probably not very telegenic.

So - and for reasons that will be clearer below, the most charitable assumption is that his sexuality makes him overly concerned about the "seduction of innocents."

He will make sure that every Kentucky website will have to collect this information and somehow verify it, in order to insure that no posts are made by people who cannot be somehow traced and held accountable. I'm sure, of course, the state will somehow magically make this financially and technically achievable.

Oh, I suppose it could be that he's been troubled by pseudonymonous online critics, though politicans are really not supposed to even contemplate drafting laws in response to personal pique. That would be unethical. If not outright illegal, instead of just blatantly unconstitutional.

Perhaps he's merely an unaccountably popular pinhead. But whatever the reason, his understanding of constitutional law, privacy rights, standard online safety advice for persons on the internet and of course, a decent Republican contempt for onerous, burdensome and whimsical laws that place undue expense upon small business owners is manifest.

Tech Policy Central: Kentucky Bill Seeks Ban on Anonymous Content: "Kentucky Bill Seeks Ban on Anonymous Content

Mar 10, 2008

A Kentucky state legislator named Tim Couch is quickly making a name for himself on the Internet after introducing a bill that would make it illegal to post content online anonymously.

The controversial proposal would require Web site owners to collect real names and contact information from anyone contributing content, and would require users to disclose their full name when posting any material. Couch says his intent is to reduce online bullying and harassment by making people identify themselves.

Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology is among those who spoke out against the bill. In a blog post at CDT's site earlier today, she called the proposal 'unconstitutional' and 'dangerous' and warned that 'anonymity on the Internet is under attack.' Harris will be discussing online privacy at Tech Policy Summit later this month."

PolicyBeta remarks:
There are of course times even on the Internet where establishment of identity maybe important, but we seem to have forgotten the value of anonymous speech to our constitutional democracy. As the Supreme Court has made clear, “Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.” McIntyre V Ohio Elections Commission (1995). Anonymity is what protects people from expressing an unpopular political view in a community where the majority holds vastly different political views and allows people to safely provide information about government misconduct. And for those living in repressive societies, anonymous speech is an enabler of human rights and political reform. If it was good enough for Publius, it should be good enough for the Internet.

I might note that I was listening to Thom Hartmann on Air America the other day, and he was recounting the number of people who signed the Declaration of Independance who had been subjected to "enhanced interrogation" by the British in order to secure "information vital to national security interests," such as, say, the location of the other persons who signed it.

One understands why Publius excercised discretion up until the penny dropped.

Of course, it would be far more inflammatory to suggest that Creepy Tom's motives might be to make an list of people for 2am pickup by unmarked black SUV's, so I think I will stick with the slightly less creepy speculation that his desire to "protect" children comes from some combination of stupidity, prudery and God-Bothering. But ince this is a fair and balanced blog, my dear readers, I shall leave which motivations are most plausible up to you.

The proposed Kentucky law is particularly dangerous because it not only requires the unmasking of all speakers in all circumstances, it exposes their personal information to potentially millions of people, putting privacy at risk. And since it is the website, rather than the individual, who is on the hook for fines, it puts all Internet sites in the role of gatekeeper, exactly what Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 USC § 230 was intended to prevent.

It’s no small feat to draft a law that is unconstitutional, clearly preempted by federal law and unenforceable. But many state legislatures are in session and it’s only Tuesday.

Hey, Kentucky - don't feel so bad. He's just a state legislator. We sent Ensign to the Senate!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A little object lesson regarding "oppressive government regulation."

Oppressive, bureaucratic, maddening, costly, time-consuming, over-complex, under-explained and often contradictory; government regulations cost business millions, if not billions every year in compliance.

It's a disgrace. It could be done much better, God knows. It makes one think fondly of "Drowning government in a bathtub."

At least, until you see the price of the alternative, and realize exactly what sort of event caused every single, separate annoyance to bear.
Talking Points Memo | Former KBR electricians criticize contractors work: "KBR Inc. used employees with little electrical expertise to supervise subcontractors in Iraq and hired foreigners who couldn't speak English to do the work, former KBR electricians told a Senate panel investigating the electrocutions of 13 Americans.

Experienced electricians who raised concerns about shoddy work and its possible hazards were often dismissed and told, 'This is a war zone,' the electricians said.

'Time and again we heard, `This is not the states, OSHA doesn't apply here. If you don't like it you can go home,'' said Debbie Crawford, a journeyman electrician with 30 years experience."
There's a maxim here. "If you will not govern your own actions, they will be governed for you."

For every such onerous workplace, zoning and safety issue, for every review process, for every impact statement, there is probably at least one major injury, death or long-term known deadly consequence that was concealed in order to "maximize shareholder value."

Think Asbestos - in cigarette filters!!! PCB. DDT. Think Bhopal. Consider Sudbury, Ontario, or Three Mile Island. Consider that every single Superfund site is the result of some bastard skating away, chuckling with glee about how he stuck someone with the cleanup costs.

It's just that damn simple. Instances like this are exactly why there are such onerous compliance requirements, usually to verify that yes, you have done exactly as anyone with a conscience, or at least a lick of sense would have.

Grounding an electrical system would be one of those things. One should not have to be confronted with the reality that such a thing was optional, if not actually required by law.

Well, here we are, and the point as to why there is such a morass of regulation is clearly do to the past actions of people like this. Wanna bet there's some significant overlap between regulations and companies who view workmanship, safety and worker's well-being to be avoidable overhead?

When such people flourish, regulation MUST proliferate.

So, before you bitch about regulation, consider how many dodgy characters and shady operations you know of in your line of work, and ask yourself why you haven't bothered to file a complaint. You do realize they are costing you money?

Oh, and respect.

Contractors, for instance, are not widely trusted. Perhaps more than lawyers or politicians. But not a great deal more.

Now, who's fault is that - when one of the world leaders in the field of contracting cannot be bothered to ground a water-heater if an inspector isn't on the site?

I know, honor, duty, respect, ethics, common sense, pride in workmanship, those are SO pre- 9/11.

Individual Responsibility is such a mantra for the Neocon Right - but what that means in practice is when they stick YOU with the check, you are responsible.

The cure for this ill is simple. Never, ever, EVER do business with those who take less pride in their work than you. Never deal with anyone less honest and less reliable. And make sure that you spread the word about it - because people like this, well, they have operated as they have for as long as they have because we allow them to get away with it.

But that presumption is SO pre-web 2.0, ain't it?

"Unquestionably Torture" - and therefore, War Crimes.

Jonathan Turley speculates about the necessity - not the possiblity, but the NECESSITY of dragging the United States before an international War Crimes tribunal.

This is starting to make Rove's sudden absence even more interesting. It certainly adds to my speculational resources!

Little needs be said, other than circulate this widely.

What do you MEAN, you don't know the answer?

HT BlogHer. Their take is worth reading, but it's issue oriented. My problem with this contrast in answers to the same question is far more fundamental.

Clearly, while the idiolgies and more importantly, the idiologies of supporters and donors would dictate considerably different responses, it is damned astonishing that McCain does not have a response.

It's not a difficult question. It's not a "gotcha" question, it goes directly to one of the most important issues today, health coverage in general and in specific, the health of women and reproductive choice.

Now, the questioner might not have liked the proper answer that McCain should have (based on his base) given: "Viagra is covered, and so is pregnancy and childbirth. The inability to have children is broadly considered to be an insurable medical condition, and that's what this is about." (grin) "Do I need to explain why?"

So, why didn't he have such an answer to such a blindingly obvious question? Has he never thought about the implications of the status quo regarding contraception and reproductive health? Has no-one on his staff thought them through? Because, well, it's a damn vital issue to two huge constituencies. Obama has one wrapped up (and just tied a pretty pink bow on it) - so all he has is the other.

And he has no answer. Apparently doesn't understand the question. And he cannot even recall his past votes regarding this issue. What, does he flip a fucking COIN? Is he really a principled maverick, or does he simply suffer from the sort of dissociative fugue states that people suffering from galloping PTSD are prone to?

And what happens if he is elected and has to come up with an answer to a really difficult question, like, say, To Bomb, or Not To Bomb?

Folks, the choice presented here is not between Republican and Democrat - it's between coherent and incoherent. It's between someone who can process information, consider the broad political context and come to a viable policy for improving access to health care as compared to someone who does not seem to understand that policy has direct socio-political implications and costs.

The essence of this is stark. Obama has a coherent set of ethical principles which he has applied to the issues of the day that are important to the electorate. And since he's obviously invested a great deal in considering his principles, he doesn't need to refer to his notes to come up with an answer, even if it's not something he's specifically considered.

McCain, though, seems to be rudderless when the issue cannot be transformed into something relating to terrorism, Iran, Iraq and "Islamofacism." He's unethical and unprincipled, so he's stuck when he cannot calculate the advantage of saying this as opposed to that in this particular news cycle.

And, well, we know how well the unprincipled and rudderless have served us in that regard up to now.

It's not bloggers he hates so much as the inability to control the message and hide all the evidence of having done so. Honestly, I don't think it's a tide any candidate relying on the support of the "republican base" could swim against. But McCain is drowning.

Hey, guys, when you throw someone into the deep end, maybe you should check to see if they can swim.


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