Sunday, April 29, 2007

Signs that the apocalypse is upon us

Sometimes ya just gotta shake your head:

Two spotted-billed pelicans participate in a wedding ceremony in a "bridal house" at a zoo in Fuzhou, southeast China's Fujian province April 25, 2007. The female pelican was found in south China's Hainan province, and brought to Fuzhou to mate with the male pelican, who lost his spouse three years ago, local media reported. REUTERS/CHINA DAILY

screen grab of A large English cheddar cheese has become a star of the Internet, attracting more than 1 million viewers to sit and stare at it as it slowly ripens. ( Reuters

A horse stands next to a man sleeping on the floor of an all-night cash machine area in the foyer of a bank in Wiesenburg.

Selling water

Alison at Creekside continues to be my go-to person for all things related to the Grand Scheme For Truth, Justice And The American Way, AKA integration with the United States.
Now they're coming after our water -- see the Creekside posts here and here.
The last time I posted on this, Kate sent her winged monkeys over to insult me. They just didn't get it. They thought it was some kind of lefty anti-business anti-Americanism. So just let me explain it again as simply as I possibly can:
We cannot start selling our water. Because once we start, we can never stop.
For anyone of limited imagination, here's the scenario: Imagine if Arizona, say, or Nevada, or California built a pipeline to import millions of tonnes of water. They're not going to use this water just to irrigate a few acres to grow broccoli, not considering how much the pipeline would cost. No, to make their investment back they would have to use it to build new cities, with new homes and schools and factories as well as farms.
So now we have whole communities built because of Canadian water.
Now imagine if, 50 years later, Canada tried to say "sorry, we have to turn off that pipeline because we need the water for ourselves now"?
What would happen next? The US would simply not allow itself to be threatened in this way.
Remember in the 70s when people in Alberta started threatening to "let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark"? It was a cruel and immoral and unreasonable taunt; Trudeau wouldn't permit the welfare and the economies of Quebec and Ontario to be endangered by Alberta, so he brought in the National Energy Program.
So what the US would do if Canada tried to say "let the American bastards die of thirst"? Would the United States allow hundreds of thousands or even millions of its citizens to lose their homes and their jobs, to be forced to relocate to other cities which, in turn, would not have enough water for them?
No, not likely. I think we all can envisage what would happen. Our own needs would be secondary to a voracious American demand.
Deciding to sell our water would, in the end, destroy Canada as an independent nation.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

It is to laugh

There are a number of "laugh 'til you cry" moments in this Globe and Mail story about the Harper cabinet meltdown in handling the Afghan prisoner of war story.
(And by the way, why are they called "detainees" all the time by the media, when they are actually "prisoners of war"?)
Anyway, here's the first funny:
. . . A senior defence official, seeking to present Mr. O'Connor's views as he fights for his political life, said the Defence Minister feels he has been shouldering the blame for Canada's policies toward Afghan detainees for more than a year.
Well, that would likely be because he IS to blame for Canada's policies toward Afghan prisoners of war.
Here's another funny:
National Defence feels it has been carrying a disproportionate share of the load in Afghanistan — and the public-relations war.
And here I thought the Canadian military was fighting a real war in Afghanistan, not a "public relations war".
The "source" continues:
It believes other departments and agencies should be responsible for issues such as detainee policy, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency.
“The bureaucrats at Foreign Affairs resisted getting stuck with this issue this week,” the defence source said. “They don't want this hornet's nest. They are happy going to their cocktail parties and eating little shrimps.”
In particular, there have been complaints that Canada's foreign aid is slow to arrive in the dangerous southern province where the Canadian Forces are active.
“When CIDA discovers the road to Kandahar, they will be able to send in their funds,” the defence source said.
"little shrimps"? Can't find the road? Ouch. The insults show just how much the Canadian military actually disrespects both Foreign Affairs and CIDA. So how willing would they be to follow their orders about treatment of prisoners of war?
As usual, toward the end of the article, we get around to blaming the Liberals:
. . . federal sources said the previous Liberal government made a mistake in 2005 when it tasked the military — and not Foreign Affairs, which has more expertise in human rights — to sign a deal with the Afghans to ensure that prisoners of war were not abused after their transfer into local jails.
And finishing with a flourish, here's the final "laugh til you cry" moment -- attacking Conservative policy on prisoners of war is "maligning our troops". So I guess in effect, they really think that the troops are to blame for this whole mess:
Mr. Day said yesterday that the opposition attacks had to stop because they were affecting Canadian officials in Afghanistan. “Stop maligning our corrections officers and stop maligning our troops,” Mr. Day said.
Oh, OK, I guess I'll have to shut up -- I wouldn't want to be considered unpatriotic.

Great line of the day

From Phoenix Woman at Firedoglake:
Speaking of our wonderful Iraqi occupation, it's creating jobs back home. Too bad they're for fitters of prosthetic limbs.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I don't often write about personal stuff on this blog, but one of our dogs died today, and I wanted to talk a little about him.
Charlie was a Yellow Labrador with perhaps a little of something else in him. I wish I could post a photo of him but I don't have any easily available tonight.
He came to us just five years ago -- we wanted a companion for our other lab, Chillou, and Charlie's original family couldn't care for him anymore.
What a joy Charlie was. There was nobody who just loved food more than Charlie -- on occasion my son would feed the dogs and then, not realizing they has already eaten, my husband would feed them again, and Charlie was just in heaven! There was nobody more eager to chase a ball than Charlie -- he would quiver in anticipation and focus on the ball with total intensity. We have never had a dog so tentative and uncertain in his love than Charlie -- it took him years to really trust us, and to let us hug him and pet him and love him the way he deserved. He was a faithful and loyal dog and such a "good dog" -- though Chillou will still get up to mischief, chewing socks and the like, Charlie never did anything like that at all, he always tried so hard to be the best dog he could be. We will miss him.
It happened very quickly -- last Sunday he started acting sick, still eating but slowly and then vomiting, moving very slowly during his walk. We took him to the vet and got blood tests and by Wednesday he was diagnosed with acute kidney failure. We don't know why, maybe some kind of poison or maybe cancer or some other cause. The IVs and drugs just couldn't stop it, didn't even improve it at all.
We tried to bring him home from the vet today, for one last night at home; he walked out to the car and seemed happy enough to be with us, but then when we got home he was so ill he couldn't or wouldn't even get out of the car. He wasn't really Charlie anymore -- there were just a few flashes of the old Charlie, but most of the time he was just dozing and staring and panting.
So finally we had to just go back to the vet, and make the difficult decision to have him put to sleep. In the end, it was very peaceful.

Lying and denying, while people are dying

I haven't had a lot of time to blog this week, but I have been following this story: What Ottawa doesn't want you to know.
The Galloping Beaver has good coverage, here and here and here. As well as POGGE
There is a pattern here -- lying and denying over and over again, while Afghan prisoners are being tortured and killed.
Initially, the government denied the existence of the report, responding in writing that "no such report on human-rights performance in other countries exists." After complaints to the Access to Information Commissioner, it released a heavily edited version this week.
The redactions in the report were actually quite frightening, because they demonstrate so clearly the pattern of denial and deceit.
The deleted sections have nothing to do with state secrets, personnel issues, money, or protection of personal information. Instead, the deleted sentences confirm that prisoners turned over to the Afghan government by Canadian forces are being tortured.
Its pretty obvious that they were blacked out so that Harper and O'Connor and Hillier could all continue to spout the Harper line, echoed by the rest of the caucus, that nobody knew nothin' about nothin' -- let's call it the Sergeant Schultz defense "I know nothing, NOTHING!"
But the redactions did no good. The Globe and Mail found or was given its own copy of the report. And so they were able to figure out what the blacked-out lines said, thus exposing the Harper government's pathetic lies:
Among the sentences blacked out by the Foreign Affairs Department in the report's summary is "Extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial are all too common," according to full passages of the report obtained independently by The Globe.
The Foreign Affairs report, titled Afghanistan-2006; Good Governance, Democratic Development and Human Rights, was marked "CEO" for Canadian Eyes Only. It seems to remove any last vestige of doubt that the senior officials and ministers knew that torture and abuse were rife in Afghan jails.
The report leaves untouched many paragraphs such as those beginning "one positive development" or "there are some bright spots."
But heavy dark blocks obliterate sentences such as "the overall human rights situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2006."
. . .
A comparison of the full text — parts of which were obtained by The Globe and Mail — with the edited version shows a consistent pattern of excising negative findings or observations from the report with positive ones left in.
There was no explanation for blacking out observations such as "military, intelligence and police forces have been accused of involvement in arbitrary arrest, kidnapping extortion, torture and extrajudicial killing."
. . .
The report raises a red flag for any government bound by the Geneva Conventions and responsible for safeguarding transferred detainees from torture and abuse.
It makes repeated dark references to the reputation and performance of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, or intelligence police. Most prisoners captured by Canadian troops are now turned over to the widely feared NDS, which is considered tougher but perhaps less corrupt that the Afghan National Police. "Allegations of torture and arbitrary detention by NDS officials have also been reported," the full text of the report says.
Another portion that is blacked out reads "widespread allegations of corruption and human-rights violations exist with respect to the Afghanistan National Police (ANP) and Ministry of Interior (MOI)."
This is what has been happening to them:
Most of those held by the NDS for an extended time said they were whipped with electrical cables, usually a bundle of wires about the length of an arm. Some said the whipping was so painful that they fell unconscious.
Interrogators also jammed cloth between the teeth of some detainees, who described hearing the sound of a hand-crank generator and feeling the hot flush of electricity coursing through their muscles, seizing them with spasms.
Another man said the police hung him by his ankles for eight days of beating. Still another said he panicked as interrogators put a plastic bag over his head and squeezed his windpipe.
Torturers also used cold as a weapon, according to detainees who complained of being stripped half-naked and forced to stand through winter nights when temperatures in Kandahar drop below freezing.
The men who survived these ordeals often seem like broken husks. They tell their stories with quiet voices and trembling hands. They can't sleep, they complain of chronic pain and they forget the simplest things, such as remembering to pull down their pants when they use the toilet.
After interrogation, the NDS often sends Taliban suspects to Sarpoza prison, on the western edge of the city. Detainees who arrive at the facility's tall metal gates are occasionally so badly impaired that they're incapable of caring for themselves properly and prison officials and fellow inmates complain that they're left with the chores of washing, dressing, and feeding them.

Great moments in journalism

Remember the New York Times' Elizabeth Bulmiller describing that great moment in journalism, why the press didn't ask Bush anything at his March 2003 press conference?
"We were very deferential because…it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time."
And now we have a treasure trove of more great moments in journalism, from yesterday's TV show Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War
First, here's one of those hard-hitting questions which some reporter actually did have the courage to ask at that Presidential press conference:
APRIL: How is your faith guiding you?
PRESIDENT BUSH: My faith sustains me because I pray daily. I pray for guidance.
Now here's some reminiscing about Big Brother, from the CEO of CNN:
WALTER ISAACSON: There was a patriotic fervor and the administration used it so that if you challenged anything you were made to feel that there was something wrong with that . . . And there was even almost a patriotism police which, you know, they'd be up there on the internet sort of picking anything a Christiane Amanpour, or somebody else would say as if it were disloyal.
Meanwhile, over at CBS, they really were trying to do stories on the Bush administration's push for war, but without actually being too... well, you know, critical:
BOB SIMON (60 MINUTES): And I think we all felt from the beginning that to deal with a subject as explosive as this, we should keep it in a way almost light, if that doesn't seem ridiculous.
BILL MOYERS: Going to war, "almost light"?
BOB SIMON: Not to-- not to present it as a frontal attack on the administration's claims. Which would have been not only premature, but we didn't have the ammunition to do it at the time. We did not know then that there were no mass-- weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
We only knew that the connection the administration was making between Saddam and Al Qaeda was very tenuous at best and that the argument it was making over the aluminum tubes seemed highly dubious. We knew these things. And therefore we could present the Madison Avenue campaign on these things. Which was a-- sort of softer, less confrontational way of doing it
BILL MOYERS: Did you go to any of the brass at CBS-- even at 60 MINUTES-- and say, "Look, we gotta dig deeper. We gotta connect the dots. This isn't right.
BOB SIMON: No in all-- in all honesty, with a thousand Mea Culpas-- I've done a few stories in Iraq. But-- nope I don't think we followed up on this.
There was even a quota system for talking to war opponents:
PHIL DONOHUE: You could have the supporters of the President alone. And they would say why this war is important. You couldn't have a dissenter alone. Our producers were instructed to feature two conservatives for every liberal.
BILL MOYERS: You're kidding.
PHIL DONOHUE: No this is absolutely true-
BILL MOYERS: Instructed from above?
PHIL DONOHUE: Yes . . . there's just a terrible fear. And I think that's the right word.
BILL MOYERS: Eric Sorenson, who was the president of MSNBC, told the NEW YORK TIMES quote: "Any misstep and you can get into trouble with these guys and have the patriotism police hunt you down."
PHIL DONOHUE: He's the management guy. So his phone would ring. Nobody's going to call Donahue and tell him to shut up and support the war. Nobody's that foolish. It's a lot more subtle than that.
And what is Tim Russert's excuse? He says it's all our fault, not his. Somebody shouldda called him and told him the real story:
BILL MOYERS: Critics point to September eight, 2002 and to your show in particular, as the classic case of how the press and the government became inseparable. Someone in the administration plants a dramatic story in the NEW YORK TIMES [the one about the aluminum tubes] And then the Vice President comes on your show and points to the NEW YORK TIMES. It's a circular, self-confirming leak.
TIM RUSSERT: I don't know how Judith Miller and Michael Gordon reported that story, who their sources were. It was a front-page story of the NEW YORK TIMES. When Secretary Rice and Vice President Cheney and others came up that Sunday morning on all the Sunday shows, they did exactly that . . . What my concern was, is that there were concerns expressed by other government officials. And to this day, I wish my phone had rung, or I had access to them.
Or maybe is really all the Democrats' fault....yeah, that's it, its the Democrats!
BILL MOYERS: What do you make of the fact that of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department?
TIM RUSSERT: It's important that you have a-- an oppos-- opposition party. That's our system of government.
BILL MOYERS: So, it's not news unless there's somebody-
TIM RUSSERT: No, no, no. I didn't say that. But it's important to have an opposition party, your opposit-- opposing views.
Because that's what journalists do, after all -- search out those opposing views and make sure the public knows the whole story. Or, rather, that's what they WOULD do, if only it wasn't so much work . . .

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Crazy line of the day

From John Gibson at Fox News:
If this war is lost, it's Iraqis who lost it.
Incoherent, aren't they? The American war media don't even know whose zooming who in Iraq anymore.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The cartoon

Apparently there's a big fuss going on about accusations that the Supreme Court let religion influence their abortion ruling last week, including uproar about this Philadelphia Inquirer cartoon:

Joseph Cella, president of the Catholic-based organization Fidelis, called the cartoon "venomous, terribly misleading and blatantly anti-Catholic."
Well, the abortion decision itself was venomous, terribly misleading and blatantly pro-Catholic.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Don't touch me"

Karl Rove and Sheryl Crowe:
In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me."
Now what did that remind me of? Oh, yeah...

"Isn't there an old Neil Young song in there somewhere?"

Why yes, RossK, and here it is!

Out of the blue
and into the black
You pay for this,
but they give you that
And once you're gone,
you can't come back
When you're out of the blue
and into the black.

Great line of the day

From Travis G at Sadly, No
Shorter Everybody On The Internet:
The senseless massacre at Virginia Tech basically confirms everything I’ve been saying all along.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day

Remember when Edward G. Robinson goes to the euthanasia centre in Soylent Green, and his last moments are spent with a video of how beautiful the earth used to be?
I hope my last moments aren't spent that way, though this is a beautiful video.

Cherniak provides the following summary of the Tory logic about global warming:
Let's get the Tory argument straight:
1) The Senate sucks;
2) The Senate should overturn the Kyoto bill passed by the House of Commons;
3) The Liberal government didn't do enough;
4) Stéphane Dion wants to do too much;
5) Kyoto targets cannot be met; and
6) The government is committed to the principles of Kyoto.

. . . More Tory logic:
1) Liberals had no programs to decrease greenhouse gases;
2) Liberal programs to decrease greenhouse gasses had to be cancelled because they did not work;
3) Tory reinstatement of Liberal programs to decrease greenhouse gasses with less funding proves that the Tories are taking greenhouse gases seriously;
4) The Tories will introduce new programs to decrease greenhouse gases because not enough is being done;
5) Any real effort to reduce greenhouse gases will lead to economic destruction.
Yep, that pretty well sums it up.
In a pathetic effort to appeal both to their wingnut base and to the majority of concerned Canadians, the Harper Conservatives actually WANT to talk out of both sides of their mouths on the global warming issue.
UPDATE: Anyone who still thinks global warming is scientifically questionable needs to read this great post by Devilstower at Kos.

Clark, the Canadian Hockey Goalie

Your hilarious You-Tube clip of the day:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Psychic advice?

This is really getting good -- Steven Harper's personal stylist is apparently also a clairvoyant. Now, of course, Harper denies ever asking her any questions -- but if she volunteers something, does he block his ears and mumble "nah-nah-nah" until she stops talking?
Neither Harper nor anyone on his staff pays for any kind of psychic services, a spokeswoman said Friday amid reports that stylist Michelle Muntean has a clairvoyant gift . . .
"We now know the prime minister's personal stylist and spiritualist is on the public payroll," Liberal MP Todd Russell said in the House of Commons.
"He thought this blemish would stay concealed. One would think the Prime Minister would blush with embarrassment at being caught out on such inconsistency. It strikes at the foundation of everything he supposedly ever stood for. It contradicts the makeup of his supposed fiscal responsibility. It just does not gel with the Canadian public.
"How can the Prime Minister justify stiffing the Canadian taxpayer for his vanity?"
But maybe she's advising Harper on when the stars align to call an election?
Harper's birthday is April 20, so here's his horoscope:
A stimulating, intimate and aesthetic encounter can be arranged. It is an excellent time for art and music. Buy some tickets now.
Current Influence of the Inner Planets
Each influence lasts from a day to several weeks.
Cultivate mutuality and understanding. You can improve the relationships.... Make plans and goals for the 12 months. Start a new cycle for self-expression, leadership, honor and glory.... Take three deep breaths and think deep thoughts. Find a new focus. You are the star. Communicate.... Your efforts can bring you recognition.
Current Influence of the Outer Planets
Each influence lasts from several weeks to a month or more.

Work with appropriate professionals.... Reach after spiritual goals. Commission a portrait. Live music brings good luck.... Go with some intense self-expressions.
Oh, great -- did someone actually have to tell Harper that "you are the star"?

From The Sir Robert Bond Papers.

Friday, April 20, 2007

No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up

Chickens roosting, dots connecting, petards hoisting, and all that.
Remember the educational software company started by the President's brother, Neil Bush? When Barbara Bush made a big deal about donating money for the Katrina refugees in Texas, it turned out that the "donation" was only to be used to buy Neil Bush's products -- remember that?
And remember how cronyism is a Bush family value?
So keep that in mind while reading this AP report:

Reading First, created by President Bush's signature No Child Left Behind law, offers intensive reading help for low-income children in the early grades. But investigators say that federal officials intervened to influence state and local decisions about what programs to use, a potential violation of the law. Some of the people who were influencing those decisions had a financial interest in the programs that were being pushed, officials said.
"I think we're very close to a criminal enterprise here," House Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller, D-Calif., said at an investigative hearing Friday. "Have you made any criminal referrals, Mr. Higgins?"
"We have made referrals to the Department of Justice," Higgins said.
Miller said his committee may also make criminal referrals. "I think when we put the evidence together we may join you in those criminal referrals," Miller told Higgins.
The article doesn't mention Neil Bush. But the commenters at Firedoglake put it together.
Well, that could explain why Bush is hanging on so hard to Abu Gonzales as Attorney-General.
Oh yeah, and some of the commenters at Firedoglake also note that Reverend Sun-Myung Moon is apparently invested in Neil Bush's company.
You remember Sun-Myung Moon? The Unification Church? Neil Bush travelled with Moon in a "world peace tour" in 2005.
Moon was the one who apparently bailed out Jerry Falwell's Liberty University a few years ago. That university is graduating its very first class of lawyers this spring. I wonder how many Liberty University grads will end up working for the Justice Department, alongside the lawyers from Pat Robertson's Regent University law school?

Great line of the day

From beep52, commenting at The Carpetbagger Report:
Bush leveraged a national tragedy into reelection. He’s seeded the federal government with true believers, expanded executive authority while marginalizing Congress and appointing 2 radically conservative SC judges. He’s expanded government surveillance of our phones, e-mails, libraary borrowings, bank accounts and medicine cabinets. He’s stalled efforts to curb global warming, cut protections once provided by the EPA, FDA, and silenced scientists who dare refute the literal word of bible or the backward beliefs of those who claim to know the mind of the almighty. The US can now torture, imprision without providing cause and prosecute without allowing a reasonable defense. He’s built bases in the middle east, and fattened the bank accounts of those whose bank accounts were already obscene. The middle class — the masses — have not been so economically impotent in decades.
For such an idiot, this guy has been awfully successful.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I read the news today, oh boy

Kurt Vonnegut quotes from The Freeway Blogger: "There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president."
"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country."
"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center."
"Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules— and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress."

Extreme sports:
A sturgeon jumped out of a river and hit a woman riding a personal watercraft, the latest such injury involving the flying fish along the Suwannee River . . . the Gulf sturgeon migrate into the Suwannee River in March to spawn, and remain in the river until the fall. And researchers still aren't sure why the large fish jump.
Maybe the fish are just fighting back.

Leading: You can always tell which Democratic presidential candidates the Republicans are most scared of -- its the ones they are working hardest to swift-boat with baseless, irrelevant smear campaigns. Right now, its John Edwards and Barak Obama, either of whom would make an excellent president.

Harper's "personal primper": On the other hand, this is actually funny, though as a taxpayer I laughed 'til I cried:
. . . taxpayers are picking up the tab for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's personal primper.
After two days of ducking media and opposition questions, the Conservatives finally revealed Wednesday that Michelle Muntean is on Harper's government staff.
. . . Harper has been travelling with his personal image adviser for major domestic and international events - most recently at ceremonies at Vimy Ridge in France last week. Muntean helps him perfect his look, including managing his wardrobe and general grooming . . . Muntean began working with Harper during his run for the Conservative leadership, and stayed through two federal campaigns. She hails from the world of film and television, and had become CBC's head of makeup by the late 1990s.
A warm, bubbly personality, Muntean has now become a fixture in Harper's entourage and remains the only staff member he tolerates style advice from. Sources said Harper has tried to convince her to move to Ottawa, but she remains based near Toronto.
In addition to her travels to Vimy Ridge, Muntean was also with Harper in Hanoi, Vietnam when he met with Pacific rim leaders, and in St. Petersburg, Russia for last summer's G8 summit.
Maybe if they called her a butler, rather than a primper, the whole thing would be less offensive (I guess I'm just glad Canadian Press didn't call her a "personal fluffer"!)
Whatever you call her, Harper should be paying for this type of employee with his own money, not ours. But darn it, I guess we won't be seeing any more photos like this one:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Great line of the day

Discussing the US Supreme Court decision to allow legislatures to outlaw abortion procedures even if women's lives are at stake, Digby points to this March, 2006 post from Mahablog about abortion rights:
. . . the anti-abortion rights position is based on an assumption that women aren’t real people — especially women who get abortions. Oh, they’re human in a scientific sense, but they aren’t people. They are archetypes who live in the heads of the anti-abortion righters — Careless Woman, Selfish Woman, Woman in a Vacuum. The same people who imagine embryos can think and feel emotions — and therefore deserve protection — must believe a pregnant woman is just a major appliance.
There are copious anecdotes from abortion providers who say that often the same people protesting outside the clinic one week are patients (or parents of patients) the next week. These people assume that their situations are unique and should be the one exception. They often want the abortion staff to know they aren’t like those other women who get abortions. This inspired the bitter joke that the legitimate reasons for abortion are “rape, incest, and me.” Such people recognize their own humanity (or their daughter’s), but those other women who get abortions are just archetypes who don’t deserve respect or considertion.
I’ve long believed that whether one is pro-choice or anti-choice does not depend on whether one thinks embryos are human beings. It depends on whether one recognizes that women are human beings. Not archetypes, but real, individual human beings. Including women who get abortions.
Emphasis mine.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Feeling old?

I heard on the radio on the way to work -- Bobby Vinton is 72 years old today.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What war is like

Dave at The Galloping Beaver writes about the real, raw, painful experience of war:

The nightmares of past events come more often and with more clarity. And, in the middle of a conversation with people who know nothing of my history, I suddenly recall an event which sends my mind flying in a thousand different directions.
Back then, I used my weapon precisely as I was trained to do: automatically, surgically and as an extension of my arms. Often, I did not feel it kick into my shoulder or hear the metallic working of the action. Now, I can feel the trigger and the pressure against my index finger as I release the round that will kill the human in front of me. I can see the faces of mere boys who were given no choice but to die by my actions. In a particular instance, I replay an event which at the time I could not afford to second-guess. And I now wonder if the wounded young conscript laying in a fire-pit ahead of me was not reaching for his weapon but crossing himself in the style prescribed by his Catholic faith. I put two rounds into his chest before he could finish his act and I will never know whether he intended to kill me or whether he was simply asking for help from his God.
My mind randomly and with no warning suddenly erupts with one thought: “You are a killer.” It is something I have to fight back because when it happens I can see the edge of an abyss. It is a debilitating feeling that no matter what I have done in my life or what good I do, I will always be a killer; someone whose conscience was able to repress remorse for over two decades.
I commend Dave's bravery in telling the story of his war -- and hope that telling it will help reduce the stress.
I once read an article about people recovering in a burn unit of a hospital. Psychiatrists help them by visiting them each day and getting them to tell "the story" of their accident or experience. The theory is that telling it out loud helps them to integrate the experience and deal with it openly, which prevents the nightmares and the other symptoms of post-traumatic stress which burn victims apparently are particularly prone to.
I wonder if everyone who has experienced traumatic events would be better off to tell "the story", rather than let it eat away at them inside. Its hard to find someone to tell the story to -- families and friends are often too emotionally involved to just calmly listen without judgement or comment or reassurance, tending to say "don't think about it" when they can't really think about anything else.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Great line of the day

Posting at Eschaton, Thers suggests a reason why the liberal blogosphere is "reflexively derisive" to right-wingers:
It's because so many conservatives want to argue things like global warming is fake and that there were significant ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
These aren't arguments: they're conspiracy theories . . . such "arguments" are treated as conspiracy theories deserve to be treated: with derision and scorn. Taking them seriously only gives them and those who make them an undeserved and in fact dangerous legitimacy.
Emphasis mine.

Too bad

Its just too bad. I would love to have the summer Olympics in North America again, and Chicago is even in our same time zone. But at long as George Bush is president, the International Olympic Committee will never vote to award a US city the Olympics.
Just another measure of how popular the Bush administration is around the world...

Three more things on Imus

Three little-noted aspects of the Imus story, before it fades completely into last week's news:
First, as illustrated by this Americablog post, instead of the supposedly liberal Imus being defended by liberals, the liberal bloggers were some of the first voices criticizing what he said and pointing out that racism and sexism were long-standing problems on his show.
Second, in spite of that, it was not the bloggers who were organizing the sponsor boycott and show cancellation. From my reading of the liberal blogs, the general opinion was that while Imus SHOULD be fired, they didn't ever think he actually would be -- they thought Imus was too powerful and well-entrenched for such a thing would ever happen.
They thought the story would just degenerate into another "I know you are but what am I" talkfest blather where Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and rap musicians and Hilary Clinton end up on the receiving end because of what THEY said or didn't say or didn't say soon enough or said too soon or too quietly or too loudly or whatever, rather than focusing on what Imus said.
This time, it was the sponsors, and the CBS board, and the MSNBC employees who apparently stepped up to the plate and cut through all the BS and said "Enough! There's a limit and we've finally reached it!"
Third, the Imus firing sends a pretty clear message to the media. Listening on Friday morning to our own talk-radio host, I got the distinct impression that there was a cool breeze blowing on the back of his neck. Not that our guy is a shock-jock racist blowhard, but I think he had said to himself "If even Imus can get fired, then maybe I'd better make damned sure my brain is in gear before I open my mouth."
I just can't stop humming this, so join me please --

Seatbelt injuries

I'm seeing criticism of New Jersey governor Jon Corizine following his car accident that maybe he wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
Well, maybe he was wearing a belt and maybe not, but his injuries actually are consistent with what one would get in a car accident even with a seat belt or from the seat belt itself - see here, and here.
We have this idea that seatbelts prevent injury -- well, not completely. They prevent catastrophic, deadly injuries, but when your body is hurtling forward at 50 km per hour and hits the seat belt, your bones are going to break and that's all there is to it. Better your ribs hit the seatbelt than your head hits the windshield.
When I was in a car accident in February of 2006, a driver came through a red light and hit my right front fender when I was going through an intersection at about 40 or 50 km per hour. I was driving, so hanging onto the wheel did help to prevent some bouncing around, but I still had a mild concussion, and ended up with five or six rib fractures due to the seatbelt, my chest felt crushed due to the shoulder harness, and my shoulder and chest and pelvis were deeply bruised. (My car did not have an airbag.)
Reading up on this on the net, I found that these are all typical seat belt injuries.
Also, my knee hit the dash with enough force to tear the ligaments, damage the nerves, and give me a plateau fracture of the tibia. This is actually such a common injury in a car accident that this kind of knee injury is called a dashboard injury. If my knee had hit the dashboard with any greater force, or if my dashboard had been shaped differently, perhaps my femur would have broken too, like Corazine's did -- again, this is not an uncommon injury in a relatively high-energy car accident. My other foot was also pretty bruised when it whapped the underside of the dash, too.
All in all, it took me more than six months to recover, and my knee will never be the same.

One very good result of the US Attorney scandal

One result of the US Attorney scandal is that juries and judges will no longer find any of their prosecutions to be credible. And given this terrible story, that is a very good thing.
You will be utterly disgusted by this one -- in an effort to tarnish a Democratic governor and apparently also to save his own job, the Wisconsin US attorney charged a 55-year-old state employee with corruptly awarding a government contract to a Democratic firm. He got the jury to convict her -- apparently they found it very suspicious that she didn't admit her guilt -- and she spent four months in jail. At the end of February, the federal appeal court threw the case out -- the judges overturned the conviction and ordered her released on the very same day that they heard the oral arguments in the case, saying the evidence was "beyond thin".
So no one in Wisconsin will ever believe that prosecutor again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Great idea, if they do it right this time

This savings plan for parents of disabled children is an excellent idea -- with one possible Catch-22: provincial welfare rules.
Parent Dave Lareau liked what he heard.
"The bottom line is that kids with disabilities, depending on their ability to work and earn an income, are going to be on welfare, which is way below the poverty line, so what kind of quality of life will they have?" he asked. "It's all about what we can do to augment that without losing the benefit of welfare and other things so all of the right factors are built into this."
The problem is whether provinces will be required to give someone welfare if they have money available to them in a Registered Disability Savings Plan. Apparently the March Budget only "suggests" that disabled people be able to receive both RDSP payments and provincial income support.
The Finance department's Expert Panel on Financial Security for Children with Severe Disabilities reported on this problem when it made the RDSP recommendation:
All of the provinces and territories impose a means test on the social assistance that is made available to persons with disabilities. All impose a limit on the assets that a person can have in order to qualify for social assistance payments. All also impose an income test in order to qualify for social assistance and, in most cases, the amount of income received by a person with disabilities reduces (usually on a dollar-for-dollar basis) the amount of social assistance payable. Each province and territory has its own limits and exceptions. However, since the proposed Registered Disability Savings Plan is a new plan, there is no provision made for its capital value to be exempt from the asset test or for Disability Savings Payments to be exempt from the income test. Without some such exemptions there will be no point in establishing a Disability Savings Plan for those most in need of it as the result would be no more than a transfer from the federal treasury to provincial and territorial treasuries. It is also important that other provincial programs such as prescription drug programs that are income tested not be reduced as a result of the receipt by a Beneficiary of Disability Savings Payments.
And I sure hope their follow-through on this promise turns out to be better than their follow-through on the "equalization" promise.

"Common securities regulator"?

Buried at the end of this story on ATM fees is this statement about what Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is going to be talking about this week at the Group of Seven talks in Washington:
Flaherty said he will also raise the issue of mutual recognition and free trade in securities, as well as 'getting our house in order nationally' in Canada by moving towards a common securities regulator.
Does anyone know what this means? Is it more Fortess America/Customs Union stuff perhaps?

Iraq as Performance Art

Are they serious? It makes no sense as a war anymore, but has become a bizarre attempt at Performance Art -- with real blood as the medium.
RangerAgainstWar alerts us to the newest American tactic, phoney war:
U.S. tax dollars are building Iraqi businesses and boosting their economy, but instead of reaping any publicity benefits from the endeavors, U.S. officials stress that the effort will only work if the U.S. contribution is totally "invisible," this "given the hostility toward the U.S." (These Raids in Iraq Look Real, But They Aren't.) So part of what the U.S. forces are tasked with in this phony war on terror is staging phony raids in order to help those Iraqis ostensibly on our side to be made to be seen as though they are really phony U.S. enemies. Got it?
This is a make-work program from the Americans, who are hoping it will also "keep otherwise idle men from joining the insurgency." As well, the Iraqi component of this project stressed the importance of keeping the U.S. role secret.
Robert Fisk in the Independent describes the newest US technique for stabilizing Baghdad -- ghettos:
The initial emphasis of the new American plan will be placed on securing Baghdad market places and predominantly Shia Muslim areas. Arrests of men of military age will be substantial . . . the new project will involve joint American and Iraqi "support bases" in nine of the 30 districts to be "gated" off. From these bases - in fortified buildings - US-Iraqi forces will supposedly clear militias from civilian streets which will then be walled off and the occupants issued with ID cards. Only the occupants will be allowed into these "gated communities" and there will be continuous patrolling by US-Iraqi forces. There are likely to be pass systems, "visitor" registration and restrictions on movement outside the "gated communities". Civilians may find themselves inside a "controlled population" prison . . .
. . . another former senior US officer has produced his own pessimistic conclusions about the "gated" neighbourhood project.
"Once the additional troops are in place the insurrectionists will cut the lines of communication from Kuwait to the greatest extent they are able," he told The Independent. "They will do the same inside Baghdad, forcing more use of helicopters. The helicopters will be vulnerable coming into the patrol bases, and the enemy will destroy as many as they can. The second part of their plan will be to attempt to destroy one of the patrol bases. They will begin that process by utilising their people inside the 'gated communities' to help them enter. They will choose bases where the Iraqi troops either will not fight or will actually support them.
"The American reaction will be to use massive firepower, which will destroy the neighbourhood that is being 'protected'."
The ex-officer's fears for American helicopter crews were re-emphasised yesterday when a military Apache was shot down over central Baghdad . . .
Here's a family walking past where a carbomb killed six people. This is the kind of thing children in Iraq see every day. No wonder they're leaving if they can:

We have "the world's fastest growing refugee crisis" in the countries surrounding Iraq as 2.2 million Iraqis flee. The website Refugees International reports:
“Iraqis who are unable to flee the country are now in a queue, waiting their turn to die,” is how one Iraqi journalist summarizes conditions in Iraq today. While the US debates whether a civil war is raging in Iraq, thousands of Iraqis face the possibility of death every day all over the country.
A short story in this week's New Yorker contains this little-known fact about suicide bombers:
“Where there are suicide bombings. Maybe you don’t want to hear this.”
“I don’t know.”
“In those places where it happens, the survivors, the people nearby who are injured, sometimes, months later, they develop bumps, for lack of a better term, and it turns out this is caused by small fragments, tiny fragments of the suicide bomber’s body. The bomber is blown to bits, literally bits and pieces, and fragments of flesh and bone come flying outward with such force and velocity that they get wedged, they get fixed in the body of anyone who’s in striking range. Do you believe it? A student is sitting in a café. She survives the attack. Then, months later, they find these little, like, pellets of flesh, human flesh that got driven into her skin. They call this organic shrapnel.”
He tweezered another splinter of glass out of Keith’s face.
“This is something I don’t think you have,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bush keeps giving the same speech over and over, even CNN can't stand it anymore and cuts away . . .
Yeats had it right, after all:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Those were the days?

So, Howard, when exactly was that golden age of yesteryear, those good ole days when it was perfectly OK for a talk-show host to call black female athletes "nappy-headed hos"?
Ha, ha, ha. Can't you girls take a joke?
Nope. Not any more.
Newsweek editor Howard Fineman expressed his own longing for those happy, innocent days of yore when he talked to Don Imus about what an intolerant world we live in today:

FINEMAN: You know, the form of humor that you do here is risky, and sometimes it runs off the rails . . . it's a different time, Imus. You know, it's different than it was even a few years ago, politically. I mean, we may, you know -- and the environment, politically, has changed. And some of the stuff that you used to do, you probably can't do anymore.
IMUS: No, you can't. I mean --
FINEMAN: You just can't. Because the times have changed . . . you know, things have changed. And the kind of -- some of the kind of humor that you used to do you can't do anymore. And that's just the way it is.
Over at First Draft, Athenae calls bullshit:

People like this really do feel put-upon that they can't give in to their basest instincts. They really feel like they've been somehow reduced because they're not allowed to reduce others. What Fineman is basically saying is that left to his own devices, he'd be happy to mock black women for being black and being women. Left to his own devices, he'd be happy to use snotty code language to put other human beings in their places. Left to his own devices, he'd be a total fucking ignorant jackoff. And it's outside pressure that is keeping him from being so . . . If only we lived back in the good old days. Had Fineman been around back then, no doubt, he'd be much more comfortable, freed of the burden to control himself so strictly.
Free to be the asshole he apparently wants to be.
I've been hearing this kind of "he's too old to change" crap for the last 40 years, and I'm tired of it.
There is not a man alive today who has any excuse whatsoever.
I used to go along with it in the 70s, and even into the 80s.
But guys -- and I'm speaking to guys like Fineman and Imus -- you've had 40 years to get with the program.
Men who were in kindergarden during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and in grade school when The Feminine Mystique was published are now getting Seniors Discounts.
So they've had ample time stop thinking about people as "nappy-headed hos".

UPDATE: Digby talks about why Imus still gets celebrity journalist guests -- because he helps sell their books:
. . . When you sell your personal integrity for money to a racist scumbag like Don Imus, you have to expect that people are not going to treat you with a lot of respect.
Don Imus has been behaving badly and apologizing for it for many, many years. I expect he will continue to do so once he's finished with his two week vacation. And all of these writers will once again make pilgrimages to his show and pledge fealty to him in order to sell books. Because, unlike those great basketball players he maligned so casually --- they really are whores.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Why Vimy Ridge matters

Wondering what Vimy Ridge was all about? Here is Dave's explanation at Galloping Beaver: How Hill 145 and Vimy changed everything. I've been hearing about Vimy Ridge all my life, but this is the first time I understood what was so important about it for Canada. Thanks, Dave.

Great rant of the day

Sometimes they're just too great for one line. I kept trying to find a way to make this excerpt shorter, but I just couldn't do it. So here is Hunter at DailyKos with one of the best rants ever - Tom DeLay is Just Like Six Million Jews:
It's true. Indicting Tom DeLay for money laundering is just like the Holocaust. You can just ask him:
I am so outraged by this whole criminalization of politics. It’s not good enough to defeat somebody politically. It’s not even good enough to vilify somebody publicly. They have to carpet bomb you with lies and made up scandals and false charges and indicting you on laws that don’t exist. … It’s the same thing as I say in my book, that the Nazis used. When you use the big lie in order to gain and maintain power, it is immoral and it is outrageous…
It’s the same process. It’s the same criminalization of politics. it’s the same oppression of people. It’s the same destroy people in order to gain power. It may be six million Jews. it may be indicting somebody on laws that don’t exist. But, it’s the same philosophy and it’s the same world view.
Ah, Tom DeLay, the Paris Hilton of political money laundering. In earlier times and among more intelligent folks, it might have been possible to explain that if you don't want the "criminalization of politics" to reach your doorstep, probably the most important thing you could do would be to, you know, not commit crimes for the sake of politics. DeLay, however, is dumber than a box of rocks -- and I'm talking ordinary gravel, here, not nice rocks -- and quite possibly the single most powerfully narcissistic Republican politician we have had in some time, which is truly saying something. Tom DeLay's career has been checkered with things that everyone else thinks is unethical or illegal, but which he's been willing to do anyway, and with gusto: he will go to his grave believing in the theory of the Unitary Exterminator -- that if he does something, it is by definition simply not a crime.
On the other hand, one of the better things about our recent crop of teeth-gnashingly conservative politicians is a direct result of this omnipresent narcissism: when they finally implode, they do it in style. Tom DeLay compares his plight to that of the Holocaust, thereby Godwining himself smartly over in the corner where nobody's even been watching. Hastert and the entire Republican Majority vanished not just because of their complete inaction on the steadily disintegrating Iraq War, but when they weren't willing to take even trivial steps to stop one of their own from attempted child buggery. Libby goes and gets himself indicted and then convicted simply because the White House hates critics with such a McCarthyite passion that they can't not attempt to punish them. Gonzales has the entire Justice Department melting around his ears, and appears to be in no position to do a damn thing about it. Conservative shock pundits like Savage or O'Reilly or Little Annie Coulter have taken to immolating themselves for any tiny shreds of self-absorbed publicity. Gingrich -- oh, sweet Heaven, Newt Gingrich himself! -- went supernova long ago, but now is back as conservative white dwarf star: insignificant in the national landscape, but still burning bright as legend in his own mind. And he even packed a sack lunch of old scandals for us to all share, as if in recognition that you can't be a nationally known conservative these days without a display of truly spectacular immorality and sordid personal baggage.
It's like everyone all of a sudden wants to be their own Nixon, or their own McCarthy -- to push the envelope until they finally find the exact moment when it all dissolves around them, and then look around with a dazed expression and pretend to be astonished at the inexplicable, monstrous cruelty of the world actually calling in their chips. Is this a new game show? A bit of performance art, and we're not in on it? A test of our national intelligence, to see just how far they can push things before finally, at long last, even the "pundits" who are buying them drinks finally say "you know what? No more. This all has finally all reached the point of being Quite Stupid Enough, thank you?"
I could mention here the extraordinary irony of Tom DeLay accusing folks of partisan-based indictments at the same time as the Bush administration's Department of Justice is being probed to determine whether was being restaffed with the explicit intent of procuring more partisan-based indictments, and I was certainly going to say something pithy here about how wildly inappropriate it was to compare your indictment for money laundering to genocide, but you know what? I don't have it in me. Knock yourself out, Tom. We've got all of conservativetown flinging their own poop, at the moment -- if that's what it takes to get you noticed in your fight for attention, then go for it. Show 'em what passes for wisdom in that conservative brain of yours: everyone who opposes you is like Hitler.
Emphasis mine.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New links

Look to the right and check out the new links.
When I read of this today, via Matthew Good's blog, I decided to link to this site -
Also, check out Bill Scher's new blog, Common Sense, plus some other anti-war and progressive sites: compilation sites Saskatchewan Progressive Bloggers and The Next Agenda; individual sites Skippy the bush kangaroo, RangerAgainstWar, and Wise Law Blog.
And just for fun, to keep up with TV and movie news, try Forget it Jake, its Chinatown (formerly the Round-Headed Boy), Lance Mannion and Sunset Gun.

John Williams conducts Handel's Messiah

Say what you will about Christianity -- and I could certainly agree with a lot of what you say -- it is a religion which has produced some beautiful music. Here is one of my favorites, which is usually a Christmas performance rather than an Easter one, for some reason.

Great line of the day

On this Easter Sunday, Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake writes a powerful piece about the US justice department and ex-employee Monica Goodling's perception that in remaking the department in Bush's image she was somehow doing God's work. Of State…And Church:
. . . Someone forgot to tell Goodling and her fellow Bushies that The Bible is not a text that was ever meant to be cherry-picked as a justification for being able to screw over whomever you please, or as an excuse to be able to do whatever you want, grasping for promotions and chits from the powerful along the way.
Perhaps a review of The Ten Commandments would have helped — the first commandment reads: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." That includes Presidents who say they talk to God, as well as their political power broker minions, too, and not just golden calves — and working hard to curry favor with any of the above is an act that worships power and what you can get from it. Nothing more, nothing less. Anyone who thinks securing earthly power, consolidating one's position and amassing a number of favors owed to you that you can call in when you need them is the point of existence is worshiping at the altar of Gordon Gekko.
Decency and ethics always has a place in public service. But simply slapping a "Christian" label on yourself is not an excuse for grasping, greedy behavior because you have some back-of-your-mind understanding that you can ask forgiveness for your piss poor behavior later. That's a post hoc ergo propter hoc justification, and it doesn't fly. God has not rewarded you with the promotion — you earned it all on your own by stabbing a whole lot of people in the back and, thereby, appealing to the crowd of malignant political minions who were looking for just such a self-serving, grasping person to stab a few more people in the back. Congratulations, Monica, you've lived up to the very low standard of Karl Rove.
Emphasis mine.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Baghdad, Indiana

Some idiot Republican congressman said that shopping in Baghdad was just like going to a market in Indiana. So the LA Times runs this description of an Indiana family shopping expedition by Brooklyn writer John Kenney:
My wife came into the living room wearing a Kevlar vest, helmet and night-vision goggles.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Have you completely forgotten, silly head? We're going to the market."
I placed my hand at my head. I'd been so caught up in stitching a minor wound I'd received earlier in the day after going to an outdoor fruit stand that I had completely forgotten.
"I'm a dope, aren't I?" I said, chuckling, slowly shaking my head back and forth. She chuckled too, also shaking her head. We both chuckled. Then I winced from where a stitch popped.
Carol helped the boys get ready, putting on their sneakers and body armor. I phoned the Indiana National Guard so that they could radio the 434th Special Air Wing at Grissom Air Force Base, which in turn scrambled two F-14 Tomcats. Then we hopped in the wagon.
Carol and I moved to Muncie from Detroit. Frankly, we were tired of the noise, the dirt and the crime. Here, you feel so safe, as long as you move very quickly through the market, keep your head down and have appropriate air cover.
Carol handed each of the boys — 8 and 5, and a handful, let me tell you — a juice box, a Xanax and personalized Navy SEAL-issue GPS systems.
"Dad?" said Kevin, our 8-year-old, from the back seat.
"Yes, Kev," I said.
"Can we go to that cotton candy stand again?"
The F-14s flew by low. Each of us activated our earpieces and hand-held mini walkie-talkies, agreed on a frequency, and I slowed the car to 15 mph as Carol and the boys opened the doors and rolled out, taking cover under shrubbery near the Bibb lettuce stand (the boys love salad!).
So far, so good.
I hit the gas and spun the car and parked in a ditch that had once been a Tasty Donut before a tactical nuclear weapon had decimated it. Great parking space, though.
I saw my neighbor, Larry, under his car, from the looks of it a spanking-new Bradley fighting vehicle. "Snipers today," Larry said with a smile.
"Nice ride, Larry," I said as I dove under the car, a sniper's bullet exploding inches away from my foot. "Looks solid."
"The hull is constructed of welded aluminum and spaced laminate armor," he said, burying his head in the dirt as another round came in. "The Israelis use them. I had an Explorer, but it was blown to bits last time I went out for garbage bags."
"Ton of room. Carries three crew, commander, gunner and driver, plus six fully equipped infantrymen. Mileage is awful, but with all the space in the back, it's great for the market."
I borrowed his high-power binoculars to check on the family's progress.
Kevin and his little brother had successfully bought lettuce, fruit and homemade jams before a particularly well-placed rocket-propelled grenade destroyed the stand (the owner managed to avoid the hit and began rebuilding immediately, as weekends are, obviously, his busiest time).
Carol, I noticed, had found cover behind the wall of a largely destroyed warehouse. A sniper had a bead on the glint from her eyeglasses, which the afternoon sunshine had caught (Indiana is known for its beautiful summers).
Larry asked me to cover him, and he rolled out from under the BFV and hopped in. I activated heavy smoke bombs, and his car tore out of the field. I made it back to my car as Larry's choppers came in low over the market, taking heavy fire and destroying the sniper's den (about time, thank you very much) as well as a Toys R Us that was closed for renovation.
I could see the smoke in the rear-view mirror when Carol dove onto the hood, managing to hold onto the bundles (that woman never ceases to amaze me). I hit the brakes and she got in quickly.
"You put on face paint," I said, giving her a quick kiss.
"You wouldn't believe how crowded it was," she said, panting. "I saw Margie Hynes. Boy, has she put on weight."
A CBU-52B cluster bomb exploded to our left, and I hit the gas. We could see the boys ahead, waving flares in the dense smoke. I didn't stop the car completely. Kevin threw Chip in first, then jumped in himself.
Both immediately vomited from the smoke.
"You kids have fun?" Carol asked.
"Yeah!" said Chip.
"He was holding a loaf of bread and it got blown out of his hand!"
"It was so awesome, Mum."
We all laughed. Really hard. That's how shopping is in Indiana in the summer. It's just fun. It's fun and safe and hopeful and full of warm and welcoming Indianans and insurgents and snipers and bombs.
"Oh darn," Carol said.
"What is it, honey?"
"We forgot milk."

You have to see it to believe it

My favorite, from the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities at the Going Jesus website.

Great line of the day

Echidne gives us girls some Nifty Things To Do With Plastic Milk Jugs -- here's a particularly good one:
Save six plastic milk jugs and cut off the tops so that you end up with what looks like plastic tumblers. These are excellent wedding gifts. You can personalize them by painting pictures of foods on the sides. I always send these to those brides and grooms who only give me a very pricey wedding-gift list to shop from. That way they know I cared enough to give them something home-made and different. Or so I think, as I usually don't hear from them again.
Emphasis mine.
And for bridezilla stories, check out these greedy couples.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Guess who's coming to Regina?

Lorne Calvert announced today that Al Gore is coming to Regina. On the radio this morning, I heard talk show host John Gormley and some of his listeners apparently expressing some doubt about whether the tickets would sell.
Of course they will -- he sold out at the University of Toronto in minutes.
And don't I wish that I could go, too.
I also heard a lot of claptrap on the radio about whether people "believe" in global warming or not.
It's not a religion, people. It's not a political party.
It's just the truth, though an inconvenient one.
I don't get why some right-wingers insist on trying to turn global warming into a partisan issue. Reading the comments over at Small Dead Animals and listening to the phone calls on Gormley, some people act like global warming is just another political belief --like, say, marketing boards and single-payer health care and proportional representation -- rather than a scientific reality. Just because a Democrat, Al Gore, is trying to educate people about global warming, they seem to think only "lefties" could "believe" in global warming just like only "lefties" "believe" in taxing corporate profits, while the right-thinking right wing has to scorn and deride global warming just like it scorns and derides business tax increases.
Discuss the science, if you will -- as scientists have been doing for the last decade, finally concluding that the evidence is overwhelming and unmistakable -- but global warming is simply not a "left-right" issue. More a "life-death" issue, really
And don't get me started on the manufactured "controversy" about how much energy Al Gore uses personally.
How much do you use -- yes, you there with the SUV and the boat and the cabin? Or how about you over there, hiding behind the washer-dryer set you got after your vacation in Mexico?
Al Gore lives in a large house and wears a tuxedo and charges a speaking fee, so his political opponents seem to think they can accuse him of being some sort of hypocrite -- I guess he's supposed to be holier than thou and travel by horse and buggy (or at least fly coach) and wear some ratty old tweed jacket and live in a crummy house, just to conform to some archaic stereotype of what a "leftie" is -- how dare a "leftie" be wealthy?
Gore does set an example by paying more than $5,000 a year for energy offsets, a poorly-understood concept which is basically what Kyoto also promotes on a much larger scale, I think, with the goal of reducing overall world energy usage. And it's the whole world that Gore cares about -- he doesn't seem to be the least bit interested in wasting his personal energies on taking cheap shots at his political opponents.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Trust them? I don't think so

ABC News says we should trust their hysterical story about Iran enriching uranium just because they say so. But it turns out this story was authored by the same ABC reporters, Brian Ross and Chris Isham, who claimed in October 2001 that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the anthrax attacks. In fact, Ross was also one of the primary promoters of Cheney's much-beloved "Mohammed Atta and the Iraqi spy in Prague" myth.
Glenn Greenwald tracked it down. The senior VP of ABC News said the unsourced assertion that Iran is enriching uranium at a furious pace was a credible story because the reporters were "very reliable":
In response to my central point -- that a story of this magnitude and potential impact should not be passed on without at least some information enabling an assessment of the credibility of the sources (or, at the very least, should include an explanation as to why such information was being concealed) -- Schneider's response was that there is a way for the reader to assess the credibility of the story. Namely, because ABC News and the reporters in question have "proven over a long period of time" that they are "very reliable" ...
Yeah. Reliably wrong!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Remember this?
Glenn Greenwald calls neocon foreign policy the Abu Grahib Theory of Foreign Affairs. And yes, that is a useful construct in analyzing whether a foreign policy initiative actually makes sense or is just indulging a fantasy of power or submission.
But I think its actually more accurate to describe this with an S & M analogy.
When it comes to foreign "relations", the neocons appear to enjoy both the S and the M, the grovelling and the whipping -- wallowing in a mythology of American weakness, while indulging in Ilsa the She-Wolf fantasies of whipping the world into shape and bending all nations to her will.
Just look at the language we're always using to describe the Iraq war -- there's the "surge" in Iraq (which should, I think, be titled "Operation Big Swinging Dick" because that's whose idea it was and that's the idea of it.) Then there is the Bush administration's horror of Democratic attempts to "withdraw", which the Republicans describe as a a "slow bleed strategy".
Hmmm, sounds kinda kinky, doesn't it?
And here (via Greenwald) are Newt Gingrich and Hugh Hewitt talking about how the United States should whip the Iranians if any American sailors are ever arrested:
HH: So how long would you give them, to give them that ultimatum, the Iranians?
NG: I would literally do that. I would say to them, I would right now say to them privately, within the next week, your refinery will no longer work. And within the following week, there will be no tankers arriving. Now if you would like to avoid being humiliated publicly, we recommend you calmly and quietly give them back now. But frankly, if you'd prefer to show the planet that you're tiny and we're not, we're prepared to simply cut off your economy, and allow you to go back to walking and using oxen to pull carts, because you will have no gasoline left.
HH: I agree with that 100%.
Emphasis mine. So Newt Gingrich, who thinks he should be president, would "humiliate" Iran "to show the planet that you're tiny and we're not".
Hmmm, sounds kinda kinky to me.
Greenwald says:
. . . what it's all about -- everything -- is, as Newt put it: we must "show the planet that you're tiny and we're not."
Showing the planet that they're "tiny and we're not" really does sum up, almost completely, the entire neoconservative compulsion, which is the same thing as neoconservatism itself. As I've noted before, they talk about every foreign policy issue with themes of dominance, submission and humiliation as the centerpiece. It's the Abu Grahib Theory of Foreign Affairs, and it actually is quite uncomfortable even to read.
Hmmm, dominance and submission, sounds kinda kinky.
Safe word banana.

Throwing things at Karl Rove

Karl Rove may be a wow with the Beltway journalists but with university students, not so much:
Rove was on the campus to talk to the College Republicans, but when he got outside more than a dozen students began throwing things at him and at his car, an American University spokesperson said.
The students then got on the ground and laid down in front of his car as a protest.
The students said security officials picked them up and carried them away so Rove could leave.
Police said they have dealt with a lot of protests on campus and this one was handled peacefully.
No one was arrested.
I'll bet the university faculty vote to give them each a medal.

I read the news today, oh boy

Playing cowboys in Iraq: Now the Brits are saying their sailors were captured in retaliation for the provacative US raid on the Iran consultate in Kurdistan in January -
The attempt by the US to seize the two high-ranking Iranian security officers openly meeting with Iraqi leaders is somewhat as if Iran had tried to kidnap the heads of the CIA and MI6 while they were on an official visit to a country neighbouring Iran, such as Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Dave has comments on this story, too.

Gonzo journalism: My reaction to this story about how Rudi Gulianai's wife once had a job demonstrating surgical staplers for veterinarians is So What?

The Big Hurt: Here's the Blue Jays commercial that caused all the fuss. Seems a bit of an over-reaction to me.

Deja vu all over again: Glenn Greenwald suspects that ABC's hysterical "scoop" about Iran's nuclear capacity is just a bunch of hogwash -- particularly considering that the whole story is sourced to "sources". I bet I know where one of those sources is hiding.

One minor point about the whole US attorneys scandal: One of the reasons all those US attorneys were fired was that the Bush administration could replace them without congressional hearings, because of a provision slipped into the 2001 Patriot Act which nobody knew about because no one had ever actually read the Act. So what I wonder is this -- has anyone read the Patriot Act NOW? And what other unnecessary, authoritatian outrages were also slipped into it at midnight by the Bush administration? I'm sure there is more -- with these guys, there's always more.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Great line of the day

Atrios writes about "those who think political power and discourse should be in the hands of elites, and those who think otherwise:"
There's a large amount of paternalistic elitism which runs through many, the belief that governance is too important for the orthodontists and the rest of the rabble to have much to do with it and that essentially Democracy is a nice fantasy we should maintain without embracing the reality.
It's an argument which would have more merit if the elites in our discourse hadn't gotten basically everything wrong over the past decade.
Yeah, that's for sure. Emphasis mine.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

1.2 million have viewed "otters holding hands"

Failing the test

Glenn Greenwald quotes Andrew Sullivan quoting Winston Churchill:
...the great principle of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the British people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments ... Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy. This is really the test of civilisation.
Emphasis mine.
On this test, the Republican presidential candidates fail.
Crane [Cato Institute President Ed Crane] asked if Romney believed the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review. Romney said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind.
Crane said that he had asked Giuliani the same question a few weeks ago. The mayor said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.
Well, that's magnanimous, isn't it? As Sullivan writes:
America is now failing that test. And the Republican party has lost not only its own soul; it is busy mortgaging the soul of America and the West as a whole. On this, there can be no compromise. Until a leading Republican commits to the full restoration of habeas corpus for American citizens, whether the executive considers them an "enemy combatant" or not, no one who loves freedom can support the GOP. In fact, any lover of freedom should consider it a duty to defeat them.
My son wanted me to watch a documentary on Guantanamo the other night but I couldn't watch it -- I said to him that I find it so sad and deeply upsetting, what has happened to America, what America has done to itself, that sometimes I can hardly bear it.

Hmmmm.... chocolate

As I read the news about the chocolate Jesus, some irreverent words from these irreverent verses kept playing in my head:
I don't care if it rains or freezes
'Long as I got my plastic chocolate Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

Through all trials and tribulations,
We will travel every nation,
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far. . . .
Git yourself a Sweet Madonna
Dressed in rhinestones sitting on a
Pedestal of abalone shell . . .
She don't slip and she don't slide
Cuz her butt is magnetized. . .
Guaranteeing I won't go to Hell . . .

So I agree with this post from olvizi at Echidene:
Can you believe that Matt Semler, the now former director of the Lab Gallery didn’t know exactly what would result from the aborted “My Sweet Lord” exhibit? That’s the one with the big chocolate Jesus on the cross - without loincloth - just to gild the lily. It was announced for New York City, the home base of America’s most reliable rent-a-reactionary, Bill Donohue. Certainly someone in Semler’s profession had noticed his performance art on at least one occasion, including his “Sensations” reaction. He's the Christo of "christianity". So, I’ve got very little sympathy for Semler's resignation even as I wearily roll my eyes and say “Yes, yes. Of course it is a matter of free speech”, to which a polite person wouldn’t add, no matter how juvenile the message was.
The work of “art” is apparently one of a number of rather silly sounding pieces by Cosimo Cavallario. His previous production includes large installations featuring 5 tons of pepper jack sprayed on a Wyoming house and a four poster bed made of ham, sounds more hors’ d’oeuvre than oeuvre. . . . I haven’t read anywhere but the edible aspect of the chocolate would invite the suspicion that it was an Easter season satire on Catholic communion. If that didn’t occur to the artiste, he’s just one dumb bunny.
In the traditional Canadian Easter, the chocolate bunny ears are always eaten first.
There's no crying in baseball
People will come