Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"I Am Flipping You Off So Hard Right Now, Boston"

My sister-in-law just called to tell us all about her day in Boston. It was made a tad inconvenient by bizarre marketing.
















Turner Broadcasting was promoting Aqua Teen Hunger Force on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and hired local marketing firms to put up magnetic signs of Err, one of the mooninites, in blinking lights. They were up for two weeks in ten U.S. cities and the first to notice was a bomb squad.

But what was more of a threat to the public was what his little hand was doing. She said when the local news realized it was "the bird" they started blurring it.

She also said they had arrested some poor dredlocked dude who was wondering why he hadn't taken that job on a street corner dancing with a giant sign for an apartment complex.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he'll seek to punish those responsible, and indicated that the penalty could be two to five years in prison per count.

Ouch.

They're calling it a hoax related to terrorism. That doesn't make sense if there was no intention or reasonable expectation that the blinking signs would be considered in any way suspicious or dangerous. She said many of them were put in weird places, but I imagine that's because they were magnets, and it's not as easy as one might think to find an appropriate (or inappropriate) metal area to stick it to.

I think it's hilarious. But then, I'm not in danger of being renditioned to Syria.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

House Hunting

I still haven't been blogging much because of our house hunting. Also, our landlords have decided to sell the townhouse we've been renting, so I've had to keep it extra clean in case realtors call asking to show it (since last Wednesday, four times). I'm not the neatest person in the world (I like to pile papers), and I have two young boys (scattered toys and handprints) and a messy husband (dropped socks, newspapers, nacho cheese on the counter and handprints -- don't ask about the toilet). And I hate cleaning.

Last week I was stressed about waiting for word of acceptance in the face of changes to the addendum. I was nauseous every day. But I'm a worrier.

We're currently under contract and had the inspection today (nothing too major, and most houses require a few hundred to a thousand dollars worth of work before moving in, right?).

But earlier today I lost the ability to speak for thirty seconds and thought the top of my head was going to go the way of Nidaa Alah mosque when, half an hour before the inspection, our agent said there was something going on with the water and we might want to know if the pipes were burst somewhere between the main and the house before we paid money to have the house inspected five days before the inspection report was due. (Denver had turned off the main water, but were apparently not aware they had done so). So it was okay after all.

I keep thinking that I can't wait until it's over and we're moved in. But I know owning a home, for all the positives, is going to mean many more instances of mind-exploding problems that need to be fixed.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Progressive on Progressive Violence

Chris Bowers has a very useful post about how we "progressives" can win arguments against ourselves. Isn't it great being introspective and self-destructive?

The rules have apparently already been used against him, as commenters have totally discredited his arguments because he consistently and persistently misspelled Gandhi, preferring a more progressive spelling (he should be encouraged -- there are no right or wrong answers -- A++ for creativity).

And Atrios pointed out a very important missing argument.
7. They're being paid off, or hope to be.

The fact that he left this one off the list leads me to conclude that Chris Bowers is a wholly owned subsidiary of the DLC.

But I have a logical bone to pick. Number three on his list is What would Ghandi do? According to Bowers,
You pull out a Ghandi quote, and you skip straight to stage four in any argument.

If you do #3, you can skip straight to #4.

He has no cred, man.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"There Are More American Indians Alive Today Than There Were When Columbus Arrived"

Why do Liberal bloggers get such a bum rap from major media organizations when Rush Limbaugh says crap like the above and even "respectable journalists" like Jay Carney of Time says stuff like this?

Then there's Bill O'Reilly, who snuck a little doozie into his January 12 Talking Point. Reacting to the phonied-up controversy over Barbara Boxer's questioning of Condoleezza Rice, Bill "my nephew just enlisted in the Army" O'Reilly had this to say:
Well, Talking Points does not think this has anything to do with feminism. It has to do with the far left — of which Barbara Boxer is certainly a part — using foolish personal arguments to debate issues vital to this country.

I mean, think about it: If you don't have a kid in the military, you can't make policy about war? I wonder what FDR and Abraham Lincoln would have thought about that.

It seems the clear implication is that FDR and Abraham Lincoln made war policy (successfully) despite having no children in the military.

Oops.

John Aspinwall Roosevelt:
... worked at Filene's Department Store in Boston until World War II broke out in 1941. He served in the navy until 1946 ...

Could be said FDR didn't like this kid much, since he was a Republican.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.:
... was called from the Naval Reserve on March 13, 1941, to active duty as an ensign in the United States Navy and served in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific; discharged from active duty in January 1946; awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Silver Star ...

This was FDR's namesake, after having already lost his first namesake in infancy.

Elliott Roosevelt:
Elliott repaired his breach with his parents during World War II when he accompanied FDR as a military aide to the Casablanca meeting of 1943 and the Cairo-Teheran Conference of 1944. As an Army photo reconnaissance pilot he and the men in his unit also played a key role in the D-Day landings.

James Roosevelt:
... went on active duty as a captain in the United States Marine Corps in November 1940; promoted to colonel April 13, 1944, and served in the Pacific Theater; released from active duty in August 1945; brigadier general United States Marine Corps Reserve, retired ...

Of four sons who survived to adulthood, all four served under their own father's.

Robert Todd Lincoln:
Early in 1865 (after his father had written Ulysses S. Grant a letter)Robert joined General Grant's staff as a captain. Captain Lincoln's main duty as an army officer was that of escorting visitors to various locations. Additionally, he was present at Appomattox when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant.

Mainly protected, but still serving. And considering that Mary went a little crazier every time a son died, Lincoln had even more at stake.

Perhaps a better question would have been would have James Madison and Woodrow Wilson have though of Fox News' skewed and dishonest take on Boxer's comments? Although I really like to ask: what would any historical figure with education and intelligence have thought of Bill O'Reilly?

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Legal Fiction Moving

Publius of Legal Fiction (who I just recently discovered when he was nominated for a Weblog Award) has decided to stop solo blogging and join Obsidian Wings.

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Bush Needs the Dog Whisperer

It's nice (though in this case frightening), when current events provide an example of what I was talking about in a recent post.

Actually, it was in the comments to a post about the vindication of the anti-Iraq war position and the wrongness of Bush's policy of preventive war that I wrote:
Powerful, capricious nations that could invade anyone at any time for any trumped up reason threaten world stability.

Continuing the up=down rationale that the Bush Administration is famous for promulgating, Bob of Crash Landing (via Eschaton) reports hearing an NPR report about Iran developing ground-to-air missiles that would attach to armored units, a purely defensive measure in case of air strikes. Bob paraphrases the analyst:
"This is a very provocative move. Iran is hoping that this hardware will allow their ground units to challenge the air supremacy of US forces."

Defense of one's sovereign territory, particularly in response to open threats, is an aggressive, provocative move ... to animals. The expected response is for Iran to roll over and expose its belly. Self-defense is a challenge to the authority of the alpha dog, which demands immediate obeisance from all others in the pack.

Bush definitely sees himself as the alpha dog, and the U.S. as the alpha nation. Powerful, capricious, and lead by a man who "thinks" like a pack animal, seeing any strength in others as a challenge to his authority.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Like Slow Spinning Redemption

Atrios asks all the time when the people who've gotten it right about Iraq from the beginning will start appearing on the talking heads shows, rather than the regular group of pundits who keep calling for more F.U.s and presidential last chances to get it right.

Well, it's no wonder the networks aren't getting behind the people who've gotten it right all these years regarding Iraq, falling for the Right's caricature of the so-called "anti-war left," when liberals themselves keep confusing each other, as shown in the following three posts.

Max Sawicky started it by saying:
* The netroots criticized the Iraqi effort a) for not gaining the support of the U.N.; b) for not armoring the troops sufficiently; c) for not proving the existence of WMDs; d) for not proving connections to Al Queda; e) for not using enough troops. Can we presume that if George H.W. Bush had been there to get the support of the U.N. and prove Saddam had WMDs, an invasion would have been justified?
Then Atrios says:
Which Internets Were You Reading?

....But nonetheless most people rejected the concept of "pre-emptive war" and rejected the notion that even if WMD claims were all correct Saddam was an actual threat in any way to this country. That was the point that I remember most of us desperately trying to communicate, even if other arguments were used to try to further the general cause of stopping the goddamn war.
Which prompts Kevin Drum to say:

Question: If this really was the primary critique among the anti-war left, has the Iraq war vindicated them?

I'm not sure I see it. The fact that Iraq is a clusterfuck doesn't demonstrate that preemptive war is wrong any more than WWII demonstrated that wars using Sherman tanks are right. It's the wrong unit of analysis. After all, Iraq didn't fail because it was preemptive (though that didn't help); it failed either because George Bush is incompetent or because militarized nation building in the 21st century is doomed to failure no matter who does it. Preemption per se had very little to do with it, and the argument against preemptive war, which is as much moral as pragmatic, is pretty much the same today as it was in 2002.

Which he then clarifies:
I've used the term "preemptive war" throughout this post, but it's worth noting that this is yet another case in which the Bush administration has twisted broadly-accepted language for its own use. A preemptive war is one in which an attack is imminent and you decide to strike first rather than wait for a certain invasion. A preventive war is one in which you invade in order to prevent a possible but uncertain future attack. Iraq was a preventive war.
As if that makes the argument somehow better. (Hint: it makes the argument worse).

The true leftist is against war generally and blasts the mainstream liberal for being conditionally supportive of war; the mainstream liberal is against the Iraq war in particular, but not war in general, and talks of the concept of preemption in relation to Iraq (getting suckered in to the false rhetoric of "preemptive" war by the Bush Administration); the liberal hawk labels the mainstream liberal as against the general concept of preemptive war, and thus can't be credited with rightness or sense just because the Bush Administration is incompetent.

First of all, had the U.N. authorized an invasion, it would neither have been a preemptive nor a preventive war. It would have been a continuation of a defensive war started by Iraq in 1991. Had it been approved by the U.N., yes, this particular "lefty" might have given some support, since that would have been a much better indication that Iraq was actually some sort of threat that warranted invasion. The absence of the authorization was further indication that the rationale was bullshit.

And since it was not authorized by the U.N. it was a totally new war completely unrelated to GWI justified with false "preemptive" rhetoric, such as clouds shaped like mushrooms suddenly appearing over American cities within a few months to a year.

Second of all, for those of us who have gotten it right from the beginning, the basic argument against the Iraq war (which is what us mainstream liberals have been talking about here, and have been for four years) was never an ideological one about whether or not war in general is morally or legally right. It was specific to the situation with Iraq.

Like Atrios said, those of us who saw past the dishonesty of the Bush Administration were grasping at any argument to prevent the war, including the morality and legality of the invasion. Perhaps it was just a lucky guess on our part. Perhaps -- as visceral, knee-jerk Bush haters who would naysay any decision he might make, particularly when it comes to war, since we oppose all war -- it was mere happenstance that our belief that Bush was a big fat liar was borne out. That doesn't explain our support of the war in Afghanistan, but whatever.

Yes, Max, we probably would have been more supportive if the U.N. had sanctioned it, because we are liberals, not leftists.

And, yes, Kevin, we were vindicated. Not about the wrongness of preemptive war/preventive war/all war, since that isn't what we were even arguing about, anyway. And not because Iraq turned out to be a clusterfuck, which was a natural consequence of the delusional leadership and lies that tricked liberal hawks.

We believed, based on evidence, that we were being lied to about Iraq. We believed, based on evidence, the Bush Administration was "sexing up" and "fixing" the evidence about Iraq. We believed Iraq would devolve into a mess of sectarian violence and civil war because of a lack of postwar planning. We believed the occupation would continue to go badly because it should have been obvious to sensible people that Bush really wasn't listening to his generals on the ground in Iraq.

The sensible people who used a combination of "gut feeling" combined with intellectual reasoning should be the ones on television now. And we certainly deserve credit for our instincts about the Bush Administration and the situation with Iraq coupled with our ability to think critically about the evidence presented to us.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Rice/Snow Play Dumb About Boxer Comments

Much hay is being made over Senator Barbara Boxer's comments to Condoleeza Rice during the hearings the other day. [Sorry for the Fox link].
"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young," Boxer said. "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families."

And Rice played dumb about what it meant.
"[Well, garsh,] I guess that means I don't have kids. Was that the purpose of that?" Rice said. "Well, at the time I just found it a bit confusing frankly. But in retrospect, gee, I thought single women had come further than that. That the only question is are you making good decisions because you have kids?"

When my husband walked in the door during her testimony, I asked him, "How do you know Condoleeza Rice is lying?" Rice is like Bill Cosby's description of the honesty of children: "They only tell the truth when they have pain."

That goes for Tony Snow, too:
"I don't know if she was intentionally that tacky, but I do think it's outrageous. Here you got a professional woman, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Barbara Boxer is sort of throwing little jabs because Condi doesn't have children, as if that means that she doesn't understand the concerns of parents. Great leap backward for feminism."

Yes, Tony Snow and the Right, champions of feminism. Everything that comes from the White House and the Right is such tired, lame BS.

For several years, time and time again, we on the Left have made the same point Boxer was making. The people in power, including the ones who are married and do have children, have nothing personally at stake with family members who are in harm's way in Iraq. Their useless family members, living off the largesse of their war-profiteering parents, are safe from war (though their own irresponsible behavior is another story).

That's the whole point of Rangel's push to reinstate the draft, as well. He doesn't really want the draft, he wants to force those in power who blithely make life and death decisions for other people to stop and think a moment. He wants debate and caution, things you don't get from people who have nothing personally at stake and are apparently raving sociotpaths.

I, for one, am grateful Rice doesn't have kids. There's hope for the next generation when an unconscionable liar doesn't get the opportunity to create little monsters in her own image.

However, "immediate family" also refers to parents and siblings. Was Boxer suggesting Rice is an orphan, all alone in the world? What a Dickensian jab!Orphans everywhere should be outraged.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Exxon Drops Skeptics; Embraces Kyoto?

MSNBC.

Does that mean no more crappy commercials that say carbon dioxide emissions are natural and good, no matter how much of them there are, and how few trees to turn them back into oxygen?

And ExxonMobil, which has to comply with Kyoto regulations in other countries, may also adopt the stricter regulations in the U.S.
“Multinational companies are under the gun to comply with Kyoto,” [Peter Fusaro, a carbon markets expert] said. “It’s starting to crystallize that companies can’t have dual environmental standards.”

Don't you just hate being a first world country with third world environmental standards?

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm a Baaad Correspondent

As has been previously established, I don't check my email very often. In fact, it had been two months, and hotmail went dormant. After starting up my hotmail again a few weeks ago, it wasn't until just now that I checked it again.

Since December 27, I've received 21 emails. And I have quite the international following. In addition to Mike Fitz of Australia, I've received 10 emails from various African nations; Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, and quite a few from Burkina-Faso, including one from a Mr. Doudou Salif. Doudou of Ouagadougou.

So I apologize most specifically to all my international friends for not getting back to you sooner. The checks will soon be in the mail.

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Thank the Denver Host Committee

I am sure that the gradual purpling of the Western states as well as the fact that Colorado just went entirely blue was a huge consideration, but, against all odds, the Denver 2008 Host Committee worked their butts off to make it happen.

Send them a fruit basket.

Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee
410 17th Street, Mailbox 157
Suite 1215
Denver, CO 80202

(303) 534-6200
Denver2008@gmail.com

Denver Gets Convention!!

Erin Hart, subbing for Jay Marvin, just said Denver gets the 2008 Democratic Convention.

I can't find a link, but Erin Hart is reading about it on air.

Update: Now she says it's showed up on the AP wires, so it's been upgraded from doubly tertiarially sourced to secondarily sourced until the DNC announces it later this afternoon.

Woot! indeed.

Update: Here's the AP Wire story from Newsday:
Denver to Host '08 Democratic Convention NEW YORK (AP) -- The 2008 Democratic presidential convention will be held in Denver, the Democratic National Committee informed party and local officials Thursday. The convention -- which is expected to attract 35,000, including 4,950 delegates and alternates -- will be held from Aug. 25-28 after the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Doomsday Asteroid

April 13, 2029. Ooh, and it's a Friday.
At 4:36 am Greenwich Mean Time, a 25-million-ton, 820-ft.-wide asteroid called 99942 Apophis [SG-1 geek alert!] will slice across the orbit of the moon and barrel toward Earth at more than 28,000 mph. The huge pockmarked rock, two-thirds the size of Devils Tower in Wyoming, will pack the energy of 65,000 Hiroshima bombs -- enough to wipe out a small country or kick up an 800-ft. tsunami.

Wouldn't it be interesting if it fell on Devil's Tower, Wyoming?

What's really interesting is how, once again, reality follows Hollywood (cell phones inspired by Star Trek, illegal detention and torture inspired by The Siege. But, hey, where're the damn flying cars?)

The asteroid will most likely near miss us in 2029, but if it gets caught in a "gravitational keyhole," it could swing back around for a direct hit seven years later. This has prompted a call to action to do some Hollywood space cowboy antics and blow it off course with cool Space Age technology before it gets too close, a la Armageddon and Deep Impact.

However, it's not a planet killer, though it would be a major inconvenience. As far as can be determined at this time, it would probably slam into the Pacific Ocean, causing 50 ft. tsunamis on California's coast for an hour. But I live in Colorado, so who cares?

Anyway, the good news is the damage would only cost an estimated $400 billion, less than half of what the Iraq War will ultimately cost. And take far fewer lives. And, really, enterprising Americans ought to be able to make that work for them. (Or should we start calling such enterprising Americans "Lexluthorians?")

A quote by Steven Chesley of the Near Earth Object program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. confirms for me what I have long suspected: there are well-stocked and comfy bunkers deep in the Earth that a short list of people, including NASA scientists, will occupy as they slowly turn into Morlocks while waiting for the surface of the Earth to restore itself with a small band of surface-dwelling humans.
When NASA does discover a potentially threatening asteroid like Apophis, it has no mandate to decide whether, when or how to take action. "We're not in the mitigation business," Chesley says.

It's like he can't wait to eat attractive blond people.

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Secret Laws

As Kvatch pointed out at Blognonymous, the reason it's bad that John Gilmore basically lost his suit against the TSA for requiring photo ID before flying is not so much that people should be free to travel on airplanes without identifying themselves. It was more about requiring government agencies to make known what the laws and regulations are that citizens have to follow, and give citizens a chance to review and challenge such laws and regulations.

In effect, when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case thus upholding a lower court ruling against Gilmore, they gave the green light to the government to just make up rules and laws as it goes. Like the Bush Administration has been doing for six years now.

This doesn't bode well for the Supreme Court's decision concerning the case against the Bush Administration directing the Secret Service to refuse to release the White House's visitor logs by arbitrarily reclassifying them as "presidential papers" to hide Bush's connections with Jack Abramoff.

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Media Still Very, Very Not Liberal

Media Matters (via Eschaton) reported that Dana Bash of CNN said that President Bush is "still very, very popular" in Montana, an assertion she apparently just made up, since he's rating at only 45% there.

Though I guess, in the context of most other states where Bush is in the 30s, 45% is relatively very, very popular.

But as Pither said, "Hell, he's only popular with 48% of the Bush family, and each of Barbara's hands count as 24."

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Passive-Aggressive President

Once again the Bush family dysfunction plays itself out on the world stage.

From Legal Fiction, on why Bush chose to send a "surge" of troops into Iraq, as reported by the Washington Post:
First, Bush is choosing an option that has zero support from anyone except those who have consistently been wrong about pretty much everything relating to Iraq. Military officials, Middle East experts, and foreign officials are all opposed because they don't think it will work. And that makes sense given that the underlying problem today in 2007 is not so much a lack of security, but a sectarian civil war that is ultimately a political problem.

Second, and more inexcusably, if the NSC official is correct, Bush is picking this option out of vanity and spite simply because the Baker Group didn't offer it.

The Baker Group was made up of daddy's men, and daddy must be defied at every turn.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Rehnquist a Big Druggie

In less breaking news, the neocon Republicans use the power of government to threaten political opponents. And in even less breaking news than that, John Bolton is corrupt. Oh, and they're all lying liars, which pretty much goes without saying at this point.

Yep, I heard it all on Randi Rhodes' show and got the link from her website.

In a nut shell, when Rehnquist was first nominated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon, he had been high on heavy-duty prescription drugs for at least a decade, an addiction he continued another ten years until he checked into rehab in 1981.

Potential witnesses against Rehnquist's nominations, for Associate Justice in 1971 and for Chief Justice in 1986, were investigated by the FBI and then assistant attorney general John Bolton. None of those witnesses ended up testifying.

Alexander Charns, a Durham, N.C., lawyer who received the file and has extensively researched the FBI's relationship with the court, said the new disclosures show the two administrations went to some lengths to discredit Rehnquist opponents.

"In many ways, I guess it's the same old story of the political use of the FBI," Charns said.


And the files show that Rehnquist was indeed aware of the racist covenant on his house that allowed him only to sell to blacks in 1968, though he swore under oath he knew nothing about it. Although, to be fair, two decades of hard drugs which cause hallucinations can strip away a lot of your life.

Some portions of the released file was redacted, and 207 pages were withheld, with a further section missing completely.

If the above was what they thought fairly harmless to release, it makes you wonder what horrendous information they redacted, withheld and "lost."

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Congress - Self-Satisfied Smiles and a Lot of Boohoohooing

I managed to get in a few minutes of the first 10o hours, and it was hilarious. (Was it just a coincidence that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was aired a couple of nights ago?)

The only parts I saw were the Representative from Massachusetts talking about the changes to the House ethics rules, such as ending K Street, barring lobbyists from locker rooms, disallowing travel on corporate jets. There was a special glow about all the Dem speakers' heads, probably the glisten of sweat generated from the exercise of long-underused cheek and mouth muscles.

Then Dreier and his colleagues got up to boohoohoo about how they had already made changes to ethics rules, and why is the implementation being postponed until March 1, "It's an outrage that we have to wait two whole months for meaningful ethics changes!" Bwahahaha!!!

But the most amusing part was how, after the second time the Dems were chastised for not making it illegal for members of the House to keep what they made from bribes -- though the Dem already said that was legislation, not a simple rule change that they were dealing with at the moment (the Repub actually said the first 100 hours were a failure because of the failure to deal with this issue; yeah, that's right, the first 100 hours are a failure after less than 24 hours) -- the Dem said, "I know I'm from Massachusetts and my accent makes me hard to understand, but as I said, we will be dealing with that issue, which must be legislated. Perhaps the gentleman's aides could help him understand how that works."

I remember those kinds of snide comments and bulldozing over the opposition for twelve years while the Repubs were in charge. And I don't mind so much hearing such exchanges when they are humorous and not too mean, like in British Parliament. But, after putting the boys to bed, I came back down to hear Dreier talking about how he will try to always comport himself with the kind of dignity and respect expected in that chamber. Sigh.

Come on, robust speech is what we've needed in our Congress for a long time, the kind you do get in British Parliament. We need people who feel a passion about a subject speaking with great passion. Clever repartee, bon mots and ripostes are a sign of intelligence and courage, which is sorely needed in Congress. You've got to be smart to come up with a good rejoinder done well, and you've got to be confident in your ability to deal with the subject and take what the other side may give.

And if everything is treated with the same level of emotion -- whether quiet dignity or, like Ted Stevens -- raging crankiness, how are we supposed to know when to take a subject very seriously? If we'd had a Congress filled with clever, courageous people who will speak what they believe to be the truth, damn the consequences, then if those people had gotten up and spoke with great passion against the Iraq invasion (as finally, finally Senator Byrd did in the last hours before the invasion) we might have had a different recent history.

If we had people in the media who were clever and courageous, not over-sensitive and over-serious about themselves and their careers, and consequently unserious about doing the job we expect of them while trying to exude a false gravitas in comportment with their positions of dignity and respect in journamalism, we also would have had a very different recent history.

Why do people wonder at the growing popularity of us upstart bloggers and the reactions of the establishment we challenge? We think we're clever and courageous. We act like we're clever and courageous, especially hidden behind the anonymity of our online pseudonyms. It doesn't necessarily make us clever and courageous, (or right) but we're a damn sight closer than the openly craven and cowardly performances of many of the guardians of our public institutions.

But even if, in the long run, it turns out our britches were far too large for us, I know that, by striving to act with dignity and respect, not to rooms under in the Capitol Dome or the men and women who stand in them, but to truth, we are pushing the established authority figures to react to us, to become what is in demand and cool; to become clever and courageous, and speak the truth as they know it, to mock obvious and obscure lies.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Yep, Wal-Mart's Evil

Pither's had a few things to complain about in his work schedule recently. His immediate superior who does scheduling doesn't do it very well, often forgetting to tell people they're scheduled to work on a certain day. And there is a particular employee who works very early in the morning who makes last minute requests for days off who he never seems to say no to, so Pither, with little warning, will find himself getting up at 3 in the morning for a few days. You don't know Pither. He hates getting up in the morning. And to top it off, Pither gets told no for days off all the time.

In fact, the boss forwarded an email from the employee who said "I need X day off, not negotiable." And she got it. Pither had to reschedule jury duty so she could have that day off, then found out she wants his second jury duty day off as well. Since there's no way around this second jury duty, someone else will probably end up doing a short turnaround.

Pither's started feeling like his managers consider their employees to be interchangeable pegs that can be rearranged on the schedule board, not humans with families and sleep schedules. And considering there are certain months during which no one is supposed to take vacation, it becomes very difficult to squeeze in vacation time, particularly with a kid's school schedule.

Well, that's all just a long intro into saying that as bad as his job sometimes is for scheduling, at least he doesn't work at Wal-Mart, which is going even further to treat employees as faceless drones who sit in the tool chest until management finds a use for them. (Via echidne at Eschaton)

Wal-Mart gets government subsidies for development; costs U.S. workers good-paying jobs with benefits by shutting down local businesses and forcing U.S. manufacturing companies to outsource or go bankrupt; passes off healthcare costs for employees onto the taxpayer; pockets $10 billion in profits last year.

Apparently $10 billion was barely enough to go around, and more juice must be squeezed from the already desiccated American worker.

Don't bother to ask if I'll ever even pull over to vomit in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

How It's Done Matters as Much as That It Was Done

[Updated below]

An execution of a dictator is as much a symbol as it is retribution and justice for evil acts. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, and deposing him was supposed to represent the opposing forces of justice, rule of law and freedom, anathema to his own reign, as was an open, public trial and the opportunity to confront his accusers.

Shouldn't his execution have been similarly done to further represent the forces of justice, rule of law and freedom?

I just tried to explain to someone that Hussein's execution was illegal and performed by murdering sectarian thugs chanting pro-al Sadr slogans [Glenn Greenwald], an execution sanctioned and pushed by Maliki in the name of the Iraqi Government. The reaction was, "So what, it wasn't the U.S.'s responsibility."

But the U.S. is very much implicated, not only because the U.S. handed over a prisoner in U.S. custody to a government it knew would not follow its own laws, but because that government is the creation of, has the endorsement of, and would not exist if not for the U.S. and its continued presence. As Greenwald wrote:

... Saddam was in U.S. custody until the very last minute, and both the fact and the terms of the execution required the approval of Bush officials, which they gave -- implicitly, if not explicitly, by handing over Saddam for his middle-of-the-night noose fitting. Comparisons to the relatively dignified and orderly Nuremburg executions only serve to highlight how far America has tumbled under this administration, on every level that matters.

So this is the grand and noble achievement which the President and his band of bloodthirsty followers are reduced to celebrating -- a lawless, thugish hanging, carried out in clear and deliberate violation of the law, by a bunch of homicidal street thugs and militia foot soldiers who themselves will be included among our next kill targets once our glorious "sustained surge" begins.

No matter what we touch in Iraq, no matter what we do, it only makes things worse -- never better -- because the root of what we are doing is itself so rotted and incoherent and corrupt. It's beyond doubt that we're going to be treated to much more "freedom" and "justice" like this over the next two years in Iraq, at least.

There's so much talk of how we have to win in Iraq, we have to clean up the mess we made. Increasingly it's looking like, despite our best and noble intentions, it's not something we can do.

[Update] We didn't have direct responsibility, but it was a reflection on us. From AJ in DC at AmericaBlog:

I assumed that somehow this, a historic and potentially inflammatory event, would be handled with even a minimal amount of decorum and professionalism by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government. Instead, the Bush administration turned over Saddam to the Iraqi government prematurely . . . to a band of thugs-as-executioners . . . who wore not uniforms but leather jackets and ski masks . . . who shouted Shia chants, including invocations of Moqtada al-Sadr . . . all of which was illicitly videotaped and then emailed around Iraq and throughout the world . . . on, no less, one of the holiest days of the Sunni religious calendar.

Virtually everything that could have been screwed up, was. And now, against virtually all odds, Saddam managed to look good by dying and the Iraqi and U.S. governments are scrambling to do damage control in the face of massive Sunni demonstrations, international condemnation, and the general disgust of pretty much everyone who knows anything about Iraq.


Worst. Administrations. Evar.

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Denver Dem Convention -- Still Hoping

Just when I'm starting to think that CNN was merely being cautious by hiring the tertiary source to work in Denver for the 2008 Democratic Convention, Kerri Rebresh at Colorado Confidential, in a series on Democratic Convention bids, gives me reason to hope it still might happen here.

A history lesson in bids for the Democratic Convention:
Back then [ed: 1998], with a newly elected Republican governor, two Republican Senators (now that Ben Nighthorse Campbell had switched parties) and a Republican majority in Congress, it might have been hard to see Denver as an effective place to jump start a run for the non-California West's 58 electoral votes. Six short years later, however, Dino's message is much more likely to resonate. Colorado now has a Democratic governor (almost), legislature, Senator and majority of representatives. If a takeover of the West is on national Democrats' 2008 agenda, then Denver is the logical staging ground. If history is any indication, that political advantage will trump pesky problems with money and unions.

"If" is a big word. Who knows what the power brokers inside the Democratic beltway have as an agenda? So many decisions they make seem so stupid. (Although they may be stupid like a fox, given their support of Lieberman rather than Lamont. They knew Lieberman would get the Republican vote and probably maintain his seat in a Senate that might be marginally either Republican or Democratic, so better to have a friendly independent Lieberman than a hostile one.)

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Happy 2007

I already wrote my first check on 1/1/07, and I got the date right.

Progressive Women's Blog Ring
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