Wednesday, November 30, 2005

OPENING FRIDAY IN BATON ROUGE: BIG LOVE



We've been working really hard on this one. Given all the hurricane weirdness and rescheduling, we ended up with only two weeks of formal reharsal with the full cast. Granted, the core players, LSU's current MFA acting class, have been working on this on and off throughout the semester whenever we could squeeze in some time between Arms and the Man rehearsals and performances, but when we finally put our noses to the grindstone, it was rough going--we got thirty hours of rehearsal packed into three days over the Thanksgiving holiday. But I think it's going to turn out to be pretty great. Everything's falling into place.

The script is incredible: Charles Mee, the playwright, is the Bob Dylan of our time. He takes on some extraordinarily difficult issues and makes them beautiful. Mee is essentially redefining theater for the 21st century, dumping realism, but not completely, while drawing liberally from classical civilization, all the while being thoroughly modern, thoroughly cutting edge. If you ever wonder what's happening right now with relevant and meaningful theater, Charles Mee is it. If you can't get to Baton Rouge to see our production, at the very least you should read the script, which is online in its entirety
here.

Here are some pictures I've taken from dress rehearsals the last couple of days:


Lydia (Anna Richardson) delivers a heartfelt speech about diversity and justice while being drowned out by the would-be grooms' approaching helicopter.


The would-be grooms (Mark Jaynes, Derek Mudd, Reuben Mitchell) arrive to confront their runaway brides.


The runaway brides (Anna Richardson, Nikki Travis, Kesha Bullard) stand in defiance of their stalking suitors.

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DIEBOLD CAUGHT WITH THEIR HAND IN THE COOKIE JAR

ABC News

RALEIGH, N.C. Nov 28, 2005 — One of the nation's leading suppliers of electronic voting machines may decide against selling new equipment in North Carolina after a judge declined Monday to protect it from criminal prosecution should it fail to disclose software code as required by state law.

Diebold Inc., which makes automated teller machines and security and voting equipment, is worried it could be charged with a felony if officials determine the company failed to make all of its code some of which is owned by third-party software firms, including Microsoft Corp. available for examination by election officials in case of a voting mishap.


The requirement is part of the minimum voting equipment standards approved by state lawmakers earlier this year following the loss of more than 4,400 electronic ballots in Carteret County during the November 2004 election. The lost votes threw at least one close statewide race into uncertainty for more than two months.

About 20 North Carolina counties already use Diebold voting machines, and the State Board of Elections plans to announce Thursday the suppliers that meet the new standards. Local elections boards will be allowed to purchase voting machines from the approved vendors.

"We will obviously have no alternative but withdraw from the process," said Doug Hanna, a Raleigh-based lawyer representing North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold.

David Bear, a Diebold spokesman, said the company was reviewing several options after Monday's ruling. "We're going to do what is necessary to provide what is best for our existing clients" in North Carolina, he said.

The dispute centers on the state's requirement that suppliers place in escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system," as well as a list of programmers responsible for creating the software.

That's not possible for Diebold's machines, which use Microsoft Windows, Hanna said. The company does not have the right to provide Microsoft's code, he said, adding it would be impossible to provide the names of every programmer who worked on Windows.



That's right. It's the same rat bastards who rigged the 2000 election, and consequently, are responsible for the entire political climate and the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis.

Think fast: What's the best way to spot a Democrat just by looking at them? Ethnicity. Diebold made sure that blacks were almost all listed as felons, despite their actual standing with the law, back in 2000 in Florida. If there's a felon named Joe Jack in Florida, Diebold knocks off every black Joe Jack in the state, along with every black Joel Jack, Joseph Jack, Joe Jackson, Joey Jackson, and hell, why not Jack Jackson? And if a black person committed a misdemeanor, they were listed as felons. This is how 90% of the black vote was never counted. "Well, you know how many black people commit crimes."

What an unfortunate mishap! For a company so precise in their vote genocide, they sure seem pretty inept if it's "impossible" to hand over their code. This shit needs to come out in the open before 2006, or nothing will change.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

TWO FROM ZNET

Yes, it's technical rehearsal time once again, which means exhaustion and very little free time. So no sparkling commentary today. Instead, read these two cool essays.

The Masking Of A Conservative

Pride must go before he falls. This is why Samuel Alito hopped to liberal burrows on Capitol Hill to proclaim the burial of his conservative ideology. In his 1985 application to a senior post in the Reagan administration, Alito wrote:

"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

"I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this administration." He said, "I believe very strongly in limited government" and "the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values."

"In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with the Warren Court decisions."

The Warren Court of 1953-69 happened to be the one that expanded civil rights protections for millions of Americans frozen out of the Constitution until the 20th century. The revelation of the memo forced Alito to bizarrely ask liberal senators not to strictly interpret his strict interpretations.

Last week Alito visited the prochoice senator from California, Diane Feinstein. Feinstein said Alito told her, "I'm not an advocate; I don't give heed to my personal views." The whipping boy of the right, Senator Ted Kennedy, said Alito told him that the 1985 memo is just an old job application and that the nominee said he is "wiser" and has "a better grasp of understanding constitutional rights and liberties."

Click
here for the rest.

Woodward Scandal

Bob Woodward probably hoped that the long holiday weekend would break the momentum of an uproar that suddenly confronted him midway through November. But three days after Thanksgiving, on NBC's "Meet the Press," a question about the famed Washington Post reporter provoked anything but the customary adulation.

"I think none of us can really understand Bob's silence for two years about his own role in the case," longtime Post journalist David Broder told viewers. "He's explained it by saying he did not want to become involved and did not want to face a subpoena, but he left his editor, our editor, blind-sided for two years and he went out and talked disparagingly about the significance of the investigation without disclosing his role in it. Those are hard things to reconcile."

An icon of the media establishment, Broder is accustomed to making excuses for deceptive machinations by the White House and other centers of power in Washington. His televised rebuke of Woodward on Nov. 27 does not augur well for current efforts to salvage Woodward's reputation as a trustworthy journalist.

The Woodward saga is a story of a reporter who, as half of the Post duo that broke open Watergate, challenged powerful insiders -- and then, as years went by, became one of them. He used confidential sources to expose wrongdoing at the top levels of the U.S. government -- and then, gradually, became cozy with high-placed sources who effectively used him.


Click
here for the rest.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

POLITICAL VIDEO TWOFER

Uplifting first:

Jimmy Carter on the Tonight Show

My young sidekick
Miles posted last week about former President Jimmy Carter's appearance on the Tonight Show. I missed the interview myself, being in hardcore rehearsals for my upcoming show, but I finally got around to seeing it: it is, indeed, a pretty great statement from the best ex-President this country's ever had. Hearing him speak makes me realize that, even though America was far from being a just society back in the late 70s, it was waaaay more sane than what we've got now. Carter notes that during his administration the US never shot a bullet at another nation, or fired a missle, or tortured anybody, and we enjoyed very good diplomatic relations in general with most of the world. Like I said, the 70s weren't perfect, but rationality prevailed to some extent.

Lord, we've come a long way since then.

Anyway, I've got a link to a video download of the interview
here, thanks to Crooks and Liars. Check it out; it's good stuff.

Depressing second:

'Trophy' video exposes private security
contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers

From the London Telegraph, courtesy of
Barenucklepolitics, courtesy of Eschaton:

A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.

Click
here for more.

So, my guess is that these "security contractors" (which really means "mercenaries") have been doing this the whole time they've been there: I think it was the Daily Kos that recently observed that the four mercenary deaths in Fallujah last year, which resulted in the US firebombing of the entire city, may very well have been the result of this kind of predatory behavior. That is, those particular mercenaries probably had it coming.

At any rate, seeing is believing. The music playing in the video's background, by the way, is by Elvis Presley, and was apparently added by whatever mercenary scumbag cut the video together. Check it out, again courtesy of Barenucklepolitics, here. It's disturbing, to say the least.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

REAL ART BREAKS 25,000 HITS

Mood music
here.

You know, this is a bit anti-climactic. I celebrated
Real Art's third birthday only a few weeks ago and crossing this monumental numerical threshold is kind of like my own birthday. That is, I was born on January 3rd, which comes slightly more than a week after Christmas, and only two days after the New Year: I'm always kind of partied out by the time my birthday comes around, and I tend to keep those celebrations pretty low key. But whatever. I should celebrate. My last observance of hit numbers, for reaching 10,000, was only about fifteen months ago. In other words, because it took me approximately seventeen months to get 10k, it's clear that more people than ever are visiting Real Art, and that's waaaay cool.

They say that the longer you blog, the more you post, the better chance you have of cultivating an audience, and it looks like the conventional wisdom is paying off. So party down...



...because Real Art has broken 25k:



Hooray!!!

I'll celebrate again at 50,000.

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FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING ON SUNDAY

I can't believe this slipped my mind. I guess all the frenzied rehearsal we're doing over the holiday made me forget. Anyway, I'm getting to it now, and it's a special occasion, because I want to introduce our newest kitty, a stray who's been hanging out for a while who we're pretty sure is Frankie's brother.

Here he is:

Sammy



And let's not forget Sammy's brother:

Frankie



And our longtime feline friends:

Phil



Paz



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Saturday, November 26, 2005

FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK:
TEXAS, LSU NEARLY DEFEATED BY UNRANKED RIVALS

From the Austin American-Statesman:


Texas survives scare in College Station

The second-ranked Texas Longhorns needed a fake punt and a blocked punt to overcome a third-quarter deficit and come back for a 40-29 victory over Texas A&M on Friday at Kyle Field.

The Longhorns (11-0) finished the regular season undefeated for the first time since 1983 but saw their national-title plans very much in jeopardy.

With Rose Bowl representatives watching from the press box, the mistake-prone Longhorns ran up against an energized Aggie team that, despite the loss of its starting quarterback, played its best game of the year. The Aggies ended the season at 5-6 and are not eligible for a bowl.

Click
here for the rest.

What did
I say a couple of weeks ago? Oh yes:


Of course, there's one last bit of bidness to take care of before winning the conference: Texas now must embarrass the hell out of those chest-beating militarists in College Station. The Longhorns are going to Kyle Field in a couple of weeks, which is where the Aggies are at their strongest. Beating them there, beating them bad, will be glorious.

I will now eat my words. By all accounts, Texas played an awful game against the Aggies. We're lucky just to have won. The Statesman article observes that UT quarterback Vince Young's Heisman hopes are all but dead. What an embarrassment. Fortunately for me, I was unable to watch the game because we're in tech rehearsals for Big Love. I taped it, but I'm wondering if I want to put myself through the ordeal of watching it. Really, the only way it could have been worse is if we'd lost. But we didn't. It was really sloppy, but we won. Texas is 11-0 for the first time in two decades, and we got that final regular season win against the Aggies on their own home field, and the UT/A&M game is almost always fierce. That's still something.

However, I worry about being able to beat USC in the Rose Bowl...what am I saying? We've got to win the Big 12 first, and with another performance like yesterday's, that is not at all a certainty. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Texas coach Mack Brown, is dunked with water by William Winston (78) and Brian Orakpo (98) as Limas Sweed (4) gets out of the way after Texas beat Texas A&M 40-29 at College Station. (photo from the Houston Chronicle)

From the AP via Baton Rouge Advocate:

LSU beats Ark. for SEC title game berth

No. 3 LSU won with clutch defense yet again, wrapping up a berth in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

JaMarcus Russell threw a 50-yard touchdown pass and Justin Vincent ran for a 4-yard score to help LSU take 19-17 victory over Arkansas on Friday in the battle for "The Boot."

Click
here for the rest.

Don't let the glowing headline and misleading lead sentence fool you: LSU played as badly as Texas did, worse even, when you look at the victory margin. Arkansas fields some good teams from time to time, but not this year. It's very cool that the Tigers clinched the SEC West title, and maintained their #3 ranking, but the Razorbacks are an unworthy opponent, and LSU almost lost. Again, I couldn't watch this one because of our marathon rehearsals, but I was able to hear the crowd roar from the stadium which is only a five minute walk away--there were fewer roars than there should have been. Frankly, I wouldn't have been so bummed if the had Tigers lost--Texas is who I really love, and LSU won the national championship only a couple of years ago, after all; their downfall wouldn't be nearly as painful to me as UT losing to A&M would. But still. What was up on Friday with my two teams?

I'm just happy we won. Both times.


Louisiana State quarterback JaMarcus Russell looks for a receiver as he scrambles out of the pocket during first half action against Arkansas in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Nov. 25, 2005. (AP PHOTO)

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Friday, November 25, 2005

The Sex Tax

From
Emphasis Added, Rob Salkowitz cuts through all the bullshit that's piled up within and around the abortion debate:

The more sophisticated opponents of abortion understand this very well. Sexual freedom for women actually is what they oppose. In their moral view, sex is a sinful activity; it should have consequences. It is necessary to preserve the deterrent of pregnancy as punishment for women who indulge their sexual appetites outside the rigid conventions of marriage, and as a caution for men about pushing too far without the willingness to make a lifetime commitment.

Most people are nowhere near this extreme in their views. While it’s appropriate to take sex seriously and enter into sexual relationships responsibly, in modern America, sexual behavior is more a matter of existential practicalities and personal integrity than metaphysical sinfulness. Even people who have religious views about sex tend to make exceptions to their moral absolutes when it comes to themselves and their immediate families, especially when facing the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy. If you have any possibility at all of finding yourself in this position, the existence of reproductive rights has an undeniable appeal, albeit perhaps a somewhat guilty one.

But to win this argument, progressives need to move the debate off abortion and onto this larger issue. The killing of unborn babies produces moral revulsion, but so too should the notion of forcing women to bear unwanted children as a consequence of incidental sexual contact when humane alternatives exist.

Sex in modern society is recognized by most people as a healthy activity that mature adults should be free to engage in if they choose. It is by its nature usually less deliberate and less psychologically consequential than the decision to have children, which really should involve a commitment between the potential parents. Making procreation more intentional and sex more spontaneous is a reasonable goal in terms of both individual freedom and societal welfare.


Click
here for the rest.

When I first started teaching in Baytown, I remember being a bit surprised by how widespread anti-abortion attitudes were among the teenagers there. I mean, I knew I was in Texas, but pro-life seemed to be the overwhelming point of view, not simply a majority; it took several months before I finally met a student who seemed comfortable publicly taking a pro-choice position. Meanwhile, I was also starting to realize how many teenaged girls in Baytown were getting pregnant--kids joked about something being in the water, but it was obvious that these students were having sex, knew nothing about birth control, and didn't believe abortion was a morally acceptable option.

Every now and then I brought the issue up for discussion in the public speaking class I taught and would be amazed by a particular strain of anti-abortion rhetoric that kept coming up: it was something to the effect of "that's what you get, bitch," which usually came from female students. That is, pregnancy was cast as some sort of divine punishment for sexual sin. It took a couple of years for me to finally figure out a good response that wouldn't advocate abortion rights too terribly; after all, as a teacher, I felt obliged to illuminate the debate, but not really take a side. Anyway, to mix things up, whenever I heard the that's-what-you-get strain of rhetoric, I would say, "Wait a minute. Isn't the creation of human life, planned or not, a wonderful gift from God? How could bringing a child into the world be a punishment?"

Generally, I would get some kind of a "good point" response, and the overall class discussion would move away from the pregnancy-as-punishment direction to some more relevant lines of argumentation. Hooray for me I thought; I'm such a good teacher.

In hindsight, however, and after reading Salkowitz's essay, maybe I was wrong to not allow the discussion to go further. That is, maybe I should have let it become more clear that, ultimately, the anti-abortion position is also the anti-sex position. I don't know. Frankly, I was always worried that discussing the topic at all would get me in trouble with the administration somehow, but I think that most Americans who are opposed to abortion rights aren't sexual Puritans: perhaps it would be a good thing to rub their noses in the fact that their point of view is hopelessly intertwined with fundamentalist anti-sex quackery.


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PENN JILLETTE: There Is No God

From NPR courtesy of This is not a compliment:

I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?

Click here read or listen to the rest.

Even though I'm not an atheist, I've just gotta love this radio essay. Jillette's reasoning is sound, and rather appealing to me because the God in which I believe doesn't really do much in the way of human affairs these days--as I've noted before, I'm something of an old-school deist, which seems to differ from atheism only on the question of God's existence, but nothing else. I suppose I live my life as though I were an atheist: I don't do good in order to inherit eternal life; I do good because I have a rational sense of morality, arrived at by rational thought, that compels me to do good. "Yeah, yeah," I can hear the atheists saying, "but you still believe in a magic fairy being." Well, okay, but it doesn't hurt anybody, does it? Anyway, Penn Jillette is always fun and interesting. Go check it out--be sure to listen to it, though; the reasoning flows better when spoken than read.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

YANKEE GO HOME

From the AP via the London Guardian courtesy of Nitpicker courtesy of Eschaton (god, what a mouthful!):

Iraqi Leaders Call for Pullout Timetable

Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right'' of resistance.

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.

Click here for the rest.

Well, well. This strikes me as a slap in the face of the stay-the-course hawk's argument about how bad it would be to "cut and run." The Iraqi government that we set up doesn't want us there. Furthermore, they, like myself, believe that many if not most of the insurgents have a legitimate right to fight US troops as an occupying force. The hawks no longer have an argument. There is no longer any believable rationale whatsoever behind our staying there. Zip, zilch, nada. It's time to get the hell out and let the chips fall where they may.

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BUSH WANTED TO BOMB AL-JAZEERA
Which happens to be in an allied nation

From the London Mirror courtesy of
the Daily Kos:

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.

But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.

A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.

The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation.

A source said last night: "The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush.


And

The No 10 memo now raises fresh doubts over US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were military errors.

In 2001 the station's Kabul office was knocked out by two "smart" bombs. In 2003, al-Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US missile strike on the station's Baghdad centre.


Click
here for the rest.

This gives quite a bit of insight into our President's stupidity, insanity, or callousness. Maybe all three. For those not in the know, al-Jazeera is kind of like an Arab version of CNN. In the same way that CNN as an arm of mega-media company Time-Warner tends to report from a corporate perspective, al-Jazeera reports from a Middle Eastern point of view, which has, of course, bedeviled the White House and it's "anti-terrorism" policies for years. That much we already know. We also know that al-Jazeera has accused the US on multiple occasions of intentionally targeting them in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the Pentagon has aggressively denied. As the article observes, this new British memo tends to lend credibility to those accusations. As nutty as it is to want to bomb a site inside of a friendly country, it's all the more startling that Bush would turn the propaganda war into an actual war. Let me be more clear: apparently Bush thinks it's just fine to murder journalists because he doesn't like what they report. Needless to say, that's absolutely horrifying for numerous reasons.


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Why I Hate Thanksgiving

From
ZNet:

When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The story goes that the Pilgrims, who were Christians of the Puritan sect, were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They had fled England and went to Holland, and from there sailed aboard the Mayflower, where they landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts.

Religious persecution or not, they immediately turned to their religion to rationalize their persecution of others. They appealed to the Bible, Psalms 2:8: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." To justify their use of force to take the land, they cited Romans 13:2: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."

The Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they seemed to want to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area.

In 1636 an armed expedition left Boston to attack the Narragansett Indians on Block Island. The English landed and killed some Indians, but the rest hid in the thick forests of the island and the English went from one deserted village to the next, destroying crops. Then they sailed back to the mainland and raided Pequot villages along the coast, destroying crops again.

The English went on setting fire to wigwams of the village. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.

Three hundred thousand Indians were murdered in New England over the next few years. It is important to note: The ordinary Englishmen did not want this war and often, very often, refused to fight. Some European intellectuals like Roger Williams spoke out against it. And some erstwhile colonists joined the Indians and even took up arms against the invaders from England. It was the Puritan elite who wanted the war, a war for land, for gold, for power. And, in the end, the Indian population of 10 million that was in North America when Columbus came was reduced to less than one million.


Click
here for the rest.

Okay, I don't really hate Thanksgiving. I love a good feast; that's for sure. And football is always in plentiful supply on turkey day. And, of course, I'm quite fond of family and friends coming together for the ostensible reason of giving thanks, to God or fate or good luck, for all the really cool shit we have in America, and by world standards, most of us are freakin' rich. Thankfulness, as a value or concept, runs completely counter to the capitalist notion of give-me-what's-mine: how could I not approve of such a holiday?

On the other hand, I despise the mythology behind Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims most decidedly did not maintain peaceful, mutually beneficial relations with the indigenous populations of the northeast. Sure, there were a few individual exceptions to this, one of which serves as the grain of truth on which the lie is based, but, on the whole, Pilgrims were too busy murdering Indians to sit down and have supper with them.


Compounding this myth's intense insult, to both Native Americans for obvious reasons and white Americans who deserve to know the truth, is the fact that it is not generally understood that the US government essentially committed genocide against the numerous peoples collectively called American Indians. Indeed, the US's murderous policy toward native peoples was so strikingly effective that the Nazis studied it as a model when crafting their own genocidal policies against the Jews.

Because the myth is so utterly intertwined with the holiday, perhaps it would be a good idea this Thanksgiving to take a couple of moments to remember how the Pilgrims really treated the Indians, how our government did everything it could to wipe them out. Thanksgiving needs to be a memorial as well as a celebration.


Pilgrims slaughter Pequot Indians

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Howard Zinn and the Omissions of U.S. History

From NPR:

The Thanksgiving holidays are a time when Americans traditionally reflect how far we've come and the distance we have yet to go. But too often we only scratch the surface of yesterday. One academic who has measured the past in arguably broader terms is Howard Zinn -- historian, social activist, playwright and author of the critically acclaimed A People's History of the United States. Professor Zinn joins NPR's Tavis Smiley to discuss what Zinn contends are some of the great "omissions" of United States History.

Click
here to hear the interview.

This interview, originally recorded a couple of Thanksgivings ago, is a pretty good intro to the ideas and work of Howard Zinn, a massive influence on my own thinking about what it means to be an American. The opening riff of this ten minute conversation is about the true meaning of Thanksgiving, but it then goes on to explore some other glaring errors in the US record.

Once you really get into Zinn it becomes excrutiatingly clear that what most Americans are taught about history is simply propaganda which affects the conventional wisdom and public discourse in such a way that almost no one even thinks to question the notion that mighty America is a always a force for good in the world. The reality is that the US has done, and still does, both good and bad, but as long as we are under the illusion that we can do no wrong, the bad will continue: the Iraq debacle, for instance, is not at all an aberration; it's just another American atrocity on a long list that dates back to the Pilgrims.

Think about that while you gulp down your turkey.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

HURRICANE HANGOVER
Guest Blogger Becky


Most people I know are sick of thinking, or talking, or hearing about the hurricanes.

In fact, just a couple of short weeks after Katrina, a conversation with a friend went like this:

Him: “I wonder how much longer I’m going to have to hear about the hurricane?”


Me, thinking he was offering a not-so-subtle hint, and making note of his preference: “Probably not much longer.”

I quickly excused myself from the conversation to save us both. The friend in question has his own problems, to be fair: liver transplant, lack of money, and the myriad difficulties that come from being gay and born in the mid-west.

Plus, he doesn’t live in southern Louisiana.

And proximity definitely counts.

You might wonder why I don’t just put this out of my mind, stop obsessing, concentrate on life at hand, pull myself up by my boot-straps, accentuate the positive. And, sure, oftentimes it’s easy to push aside the reality of horrors in the world, as I’ve managed to do with the earthquake in Pakistan, the reality of the worst president ever, and my turning 50 next year.

But proximity definitely counts.


I recently read an article by Times-Picayune writer Chris Rose, whose proximity also plagues his mind:


1 Dead in Attic

My wife questions the wisdom of my frequent forays into the massive expanse of blown-apart lives and property that local street maps used to call Gentilly, Lakeview, the East and the Lower 9th. She fears that it contributes to my unhappiness and general instability and I suspect she is right.

Perhaps I should just stay on the stretch of safe, dry land Uptown where we live and try to move on, focus on pleasant things, quit making myself miserable, quit reliving all those terrible things we saw on TV that first week.

That's advice I wish I could follow, but I can't. I am compelled for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. And so I drive.

I drive around and try to figure out those Byzantine markings and symbols that the cops and the National Guard spray-painted on all the houses around here, cryptic communications that tell the story of who or what was or wasn't inside the house when the floodwater rose to the ceiling.


In some cases, there's no interpretation needed. There's one I pass on St. Roch Avenue in the 8th Ward at least once a week. It says: "1 dead in attic."



That certainly sums up the situation. No mystery there.

It's spray-painted there on the front of the house and it probably will remain spray-painted there for weeks, months, maybe years, a perpetual reminder of the untimely passing of a citizen, a resident, a New Orleanian.

One of us.

And

But there's something I've discovered about the 8th Ward in this strange exercise of mine: Apparently, a lot of Mardi Gras Indians are from there. Or were from there; I'm not sure what the proper terminology is.

On several desolate streets that I drive down, I see where some folks have returned to a few of the homes and they haven't bothered to put their furniture and appliances out on the curb -- what's the point, really? -- but they have retrieved their tattered and muddy Indian suits and sequins and feathers and they have nailed them to the fronts of their houses.



The colors of these displays is startling because everything else in the 8th is gray. The streets, the walls, the cars, even the trees. Just gray.

So the oranges and blues and greens of the Indian costumes are something beautiful to behold, like the first flowers to bloom after the fallout. I don't know what the significance of these displays is, but they hold a mystical fascination for me.

They haunt me, almost as much as the spray paint on the front of a house that says 1 Dead in Attic. They look like ghosts hanging there. They are reminders of something. Something very New Orleans.

Do these memorials mean these guys -- the Indians -- are coming back? I mean, they have to, don't they? Where else could they do what they do?

Click here for more.

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Sorry, George, I'm in the majority:
A letter from Michael Moore

From MichaelMoore.com courtesy of Working For Change:

Dear Mr. Bush:

I would like to extend my hand and invite you to join us, the mainstream American majority. We, the people -- that's the majority of the people -- share these majority opinions:


1. Going to war was a mistake -- a big mistake. (link)
2. You and your administration misled us into this war. (
link)
3. We want the war ended and our troops brought home. (
link)
4. We don't trust you. (
link)

Click here for the rest.

It really is amazing. When I think back to just a couple of years ago, when so many Americans thought the anti-war left was just nuts, when I was flipped off by passing motorists while I attended anti-war demonstrations, when hyper-patriotism was at its height, I have to just take a breath. Things have changed. We really are in the majority now: close to 60% of the US population thinks that invading Iraq was a mistake and that we should get the hell out, a far cry from the 80% or so pro-war majority during the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

Now, when the hell is our "democracy" going to reflect the will of the people?

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QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES
Means "Who Polices the Police?"

From the Houston Chronicle:

Sheriff's crimes leave lasting image of graft

In June, Cantu was charged with heading a crime ring that allegedly was mixed up in drug trafficking, extortion and other misdeeds. He's in a Raymondville jail, getting closer to God, his lawyer said, while awaiting a December sentencing. And Cameron County officials are struggling with the fallout.

And

But early on, there were signs that Cantu, a burly ex-plumber and high school dropout with almost no law enforcement experience, might not be up to the task of running the $20 million-per-year, 351-employee operation.

Soon after he assumed command in December 2001, his agency experienced a string of embarrassing episodes, including jail breaks, some orchestrated by guards; the theft of inmate property; drug sales by correctional officers; and reports of sexual relations between jailers and female inmates.

Cantu's top jail administrator was arrested and later accused of grooming a jailhouse ''harem."

Even more disquieting was this summer's indictment accusing Cantu of running a criminal enterprise that allegedly extorted bribes from drug traffickers, protected an illegal gambling operation and obstructed state and local law enforcement efforts.

Click here for the rest.

Yet another lesson in why we must have extraordinarily high standards for the people whose job it is to hold everybody else simply to high standards, and why we must watch them very closely. Cops have a great deal of power. It may be geeky to quote Spider-Man here, but it's a good principle: "with great power comes great responsiblity." Indeed. However, police power is so great that it's quite a bad idea to leave it all up to individual cops--really, this is society's responsibility. Who should police the police? Us.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Jimmy Carter on Leno

On it's face, tonight's interview with Leno doesn't seem as headline-grabbing as it should be. When asked what he felt about the current administration, the former president tore into the administration's foreign policy, saying something I haven't heard from anyone of major influence say out loud. He clearly proclaimed that the decision to wage war on Iraq was made "long before he was elected - eh, long before the Supreme Court chose him." He went on to compare his own administration to today's, noting the use of tortue and constant scandal. He referred to Bush's closest political companions as a "cabal."

This is probably the ballsiest interview I've ever seen from a former president. While Clinton teams up with Bush Sr. on various projects, good ol' Jimmy says what needs to be said.


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NO EXIT STRATEGY

From Eschaton:

This is just about the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. It's gonna take up a lot of space and bandwidth, but what the hell.












And Gerald Ford was the one accused of just "acting presidential"?


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Sunday, November 20, 2005

FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK

What does this game...

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Georgia Tech stuns No. 3 Miami 14-10

Georgia Tech sacked Kyle Wright seven times, took advantage of key penalties on two touchdown drives and made a pair of late defensive stands to upset the third-ranked Miami Hurricanes 14-10 Saturday night.

The Yellow Jackets blitzed on virtually every play to stymie Wright. After throwing touchdown passes to five receivers a week ago against Wake Forest, he managed only one scoring pass and went 14-for-31 for 207 yards.

Click
here for the rest.

...have to do with this game?

From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Tigers overwhelm Rebels in 40-7 win

Game-day traffic near Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Ole Miss campus Saturday didn't approach the gridlock here two years ago when LSU visited with the Southeastern Conference Western Division championship in the balance.
Especially not the postgame traffic.

Blustery cold and brutish LSU domination sent Ole Miss fans home early Saturday night, long before the final seconds in the Tigers' 40-7 victory over the struggling Rebels.

By the time Ole Miss finally scored, against LSU reserves with 2:28 left in the game, there weren't many Rebels fans at Vaught-Hemingway to see it. Those who did were far outnumbered by their LSU counterparts.

Les Miles, the first-year coach of the Tigers, said he always sees things that can be corrected or improved, but credited his players with playing a complete game on the road against a longstanding rival.

Click
here for the rest.

Answer: The Miami Hurricanes were ranked number three in both the AP and ESPN-USA Today polls; LSU was ranked fourth. After Miami's stunning loss yesterday, that's no longer the case. Now my current school's football team, the LSU Tigers, are ranked number three in both polls. Here's how the top five stack up now for the AP poll:

1. U-S-C Trojans (50) 11-0
2. Texas Longhorns (14) 10-0
3. L-S-U Tigers 9-1
4. Penn State Nittany Lions 10-1
5. Virginia Tech Hokies 9-1


So, the top three are now pretty much where they were at the beginning of the season. Cool. But we're approaching the end of the season, and this presents a potential problem for me. Guess what it is. That's right. I'm one step closer to being in the unenviable position of having to choose between my beloved Longhorns and my newfound Tigers for who I want to win the national championship. Of course, for this scenario to happen, USC would have to lose a game, with Texas and LSU winning out, but this is quite possible now.

But don't worry Texas fans. As I divulged last week, there's no contest for me here. I've got burnt orange blood. Period. Cheering against the Tigers would hurt, but only a bit, especially if I'm rooting for the 'Horns. This is the kind of problem I want to have.


LSU receiver Bennie Brazell pulls in a 55-yard touchdown in front of Ole Miss defender Trumaine McBride (courtesy of the Advocate)

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Halliburton contract may be probed

From the New York Times via the Houston Chronicle:

Pentagon investigators have referred allegations of abuse in how the Halliburton Co. was awarded a contract for work in Iraq to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation, a Democratic senator who has been holding unofficial hearings on contract abuses in Iraq said Friday in Washington.

The allegations mainly involve the Army's secret, noncompetitive awarding in 2003 of a multibillion-dollar contract for oilfield repairs in Iraq to Halliburton, a Houston-based company. The objections were raised publicly last year by Bunnatine Greenhouse, then the chief contracts monitor at the Army Corps of Engineers, the government agency that handled the contract and several others in Iraq.


Click
here for the rest.

A referral to the Justice Department by the CIA was exactly how the Plame investigation got started--after some stonewalling, they finally handed it over to Fitzgerald for an independent probe. If we're lucky, this'll go the same way. It's absolutely amazing how so many allegations made by the left only a couple of years ago, universally dismissed by the right and the press at the time, are now being taken seriously by all but the most rabid of White House supporters. The no-bid contracts that the Pentagon handed out to Vice President Cheney's company certainly raised my eyebrow when they were issued; I mean, what a clear cut case of conflict of interest, but conservative friends thought I was full of it: only Halliburton, they said, is capable of doing this work, and only they already have the required security clearances. But a no-bid contract? And surely after a while other companies could be brought up to speed. Of course, we don't yet know if there was any funny business; one can only hope that there is a fair investigation, because it all seems to be pretty fishy.

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REAL CONSERVATIVE WISDOM (part two)

From the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer goes after the creationists:

'Intelligent Design' Foolishly Pits Evolution Against Faith

Which brings us to Dover, Pa., Pat Robertson, the Kansas State Board of Education, and a fight over evolution that is so anachronistic and retrograde as to be a national embarrassment.

Dover distinguished itself this Election Day by throwing out all eight members of its school board who tried to impose "intelligent design" -- today's tarted-up version of creationism -- on the biology curriculum. Pat Robertson then called the wrath of God down upon the good people of Dover for voting "God out of your city." Meanwhile, in Kansas, the school board did a reverse Dover, mandating the teaching of skepticism about evolution and forcing intelligent design into the statewide biology curriculum.

Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?


Click
here for the rest.

You know, I have to admit that the "Intelligent Design" theory is appealing to me. Okay, I actually believe it to be true. I think that evolution was God's idea. But that's just my belief. I like it because it can't be disproved, and I believe that God created the universe, anyway, so why not? I would never, however, try to persuade a skeptic that I'm right. Because I can't. I buy into "Intelligent Design" on faith alone. It's just a feeling I have, and it makes sense within the overall context of the feeling that I have about God's existence.

Clearly, that's not science, which is based on observable phenomena, hypothesis, and experimentation, ad nauseam. ID, perhaps, does have a place in public schools, but not in science class--it may work well in a philosophy unit, or a comparative religion course, but teaching it alongside science is like teaching the Greek myths as actual, recorded history. In other words, ID in biology class is total bullshit, and does nothing but make a joke out of serious scientific study. We'd be shooting ourselves in the foot. No, scratch that. We'd be shooting ourselves in the head.

Just for the record, even though I agree with Krauthammer on this one issue, I think he's one evil conservative bastard. I'm just trying to find some common ground, which is what you do in a democracy, right?

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REAL CONSERVATIVE WISDOM (part one)

From the Washington Post via the Houston Chronicle, George Will on the growth of Federal spending:

The conservatism that has left the GOP adrift

But, then, the limited-government impulse is a spent force in a Republican Party that cannot muster congressional majorities to cut the growth of Medicaid from 7.3 percent to 7 percent next year. That "cut" was too draconian for some Republican "moderates." But, then, most Republicans are moderates as that term is used by persons for whom it is an encomium: Moderates are amiably untroubled by Washington's single-minded devotion to rent-seeking — to bending government for the advantage of private factions.

Conservatives have won seven of 10 presidential elections, yet government waxes, with per household federal spending more than $22,000 per year, the highest in inflation-adjusted terms since World War II. Federal spending — including a 100 percent increase in education spending since 2001 — has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton, 65 percent of it unrelated to national security.

In 1991, the 546 pork projects in the 13 appropriation bills cost $3.1 billion. In 2005, the 13,997 pork projects cost $27.3 billion for things like improving the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio (Packard, an automobile brand, died in 1958).

Washington subsidizes the cost of water to encourage farmers to produce surpluses that trigger a gusher of government spending to support prices. It is almost comforting that $2 billion is spent each year paying farmers not to produce. Farm subsidies, most of which go to agribusinesses and affluent farmers, are just part of the $60 billion in corporate welfare that dwarfs the $29 billion budget of the Department of Homeland Security.


Click
here for the rest.

Will, who I generally disagree with for numerous reasons, is absolutely right to observe that the GOP dominated Congress has gone totally mad with spending. I'm sure that the bespectacled bowtied one and I could argue for hours about what tax dollars should be spent on, but we are both in agreement that the Federal Government is essentially hemorrhaging money, which will much sooner than later result in grave consequences for the US economy. The long and the short of it is that deficit spending is financed by borrowing, but the enormous scale of government borrowing squeezes the money supply which results in either higher interest rates or higher inflation. Either result is death for growth; no growth means no jobs, and, ultimately, starvation in the streets. That's not surprising: the deficit trap has been known to economists for decades. What's surprising is that Republicans were elected to make sure that doesn't happen. But here we are.

To be honest, I don't really know what conservativism means anymore.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

HOMOPHOBIC TEXAS

My successor at Sterling High School in Baytown, theater arts teacher Kyle Martin, has a nice little rant up over at his blog,
Great Blogs of Fire, about the recent passage of a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:

"The Religious Right is Flexing It's Might...."

Which brings me to my next point. What kind of jackass would go out of his way to deny a right from another person. Well, the Ku Klux Klan made their presence known in Austin yesterday. They certainly want to take a stand on this issue.

But, what about the typical, non-hatefilled Texan who just simply finds the homosexual lifestyle to be sinful. Surely they don't hate gays but hate the act, right? Hate the sin, but love the sinner, and all that jazz. What could possibly compell a person like this to push for an amendment to the constitution to ban a practice that is already banned. Aside from the aforementioned likelyhood that if this ammendment was rejected legalizing gay marriage was next, I can't think of any reason. All this ammendment serves to do is further widen the socialogical gap between gays and mainstream culture. It is a slap in the face to gays, plain and simple. It is mainstream Texans saying to a minority, "We don't just oppose your lifestyle, we oppose you." What happened to loving the sinner?

Maybe you truly don't hate the sinner, then why vote for this rediculous bill? Did you vote on principle? It's as if any opportunity to show the world you are a Bible-thumping Christian can't just pass on by. The WWJD t-shirts and horribly cheesy bumper stickers aren't enough anymore, apperently. And, far be it from anyone within the fundamentalist Christian community to actually try acting like Christ!


Click here for the rest.

You know, I've been thinking about why fundamentalists are so rabid in their opposition to gay rights for some years now because it just doesn't make sense. For Christians, homosexual behavior is simply one sin among thousands, but for some reason it just drives them nuts. If you judged how important an issue is by how much emphasis is placed on it, homosexuality is clearly, from the fundamentalist perspective, the biggest issue facing Christianity today. However, if the Southern Baptist Sunday school and church training classes I took as a youth are reliable indicators of fundamentalist theology, the most important issue for Christians ought to be salvation. Strangely, all I seem to hear them going on about is abortion and gay marriage. What's up with that?

There is only one conclusion a rational person can make: fundamentalists are mortally afraid of gay people. My suspicion is that it has less to do with plain old fashioned homophobia, although I'm certain that plays a big role, and more to do with what gay people represent to fundamentalists. That is, homosexuals, who must necessarily defy the conventional societal wisdom regarding sexuality, symbolize sexual freedom. And for the Puritanical, extraordinarily sexually repressed fundamentalists, sexual freedom is Satanic temptation numero uno. As human beings, they really do, deep down, want to have wild and fun sex, but as fundamentalists, they're unable to take any sort of nuanced view of sexuality, unable to come to terms with their innate physical drives and make healthy and informed choices about having sex. To them, it's all black and white; do it God's way, but not all these other ways.

Of course, their only solution to this problem is more absolute thinking: repress the gays; it'll all work out. You know, quitting the Southern Baptist Church was the best decision I've ever made.

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FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Paz



Phil



Frankie



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Thursday, November 17, 2005

TWO FROM WORKING FOR CHANGE

Okay, exhaustion has set in. So check out these two essays sans my own commentary.

Anxious working class is largely overlooked by Congress

You'd think Congress would be working hard to ease the burdens of average working folks — police officers, plumbers, paralegals. You'd expect Washington politicians would have devoted the past few years to helping parents who are still working to pay for their prescriptions, to demanding more energy efficiency in automobiles and household appliances, to funding more college aid for working-class students.

The GOP, of course, has done nothing of the sort. As lackeys of the big-business, wealthy-investor class (or charter members of it), congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to make the lives of working folks worse. They've resisted an increase in the minimum wage; they've squeezed Medicaid; they've championed tax cuts for the richest Americans and a plan to make Social Security checks less reliable.

But the Democrats have done little better. Earlier this year, they joined with Republicans in service to the big banks, passing a bankruptcy bill that forgives less debt and makes it harder for folks struggling with big bills to dig themselves out of debt.


Click
here for the rest.

Portly Republicans squeeze the poor

Suddenly, after years of carefree spending on the equivalent of the next generation's credit cards, Republican leaders in Congress are pretending to worry about "fiscal responsibility." Evidently, they have heard from angry constituents who wonder about bridges to nowhere and subsidies to oil companies.


Rather than demonstrating fiscal prudence, however, the Congressional leadership has merely proven itself to be callous as well as corruptible. The Republicans' proposed budget cuts in food stamps, health care, student loans and other programs that help poor and working families will scarcely reduce long-term federal deficits at all -- while inflicting severe hardships on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.

Indeed, this newfound concern for tight budgetary control seems more like an excuse to inflict pain on those who cannot defend themselves. Meanwhile, the urge to reward those who already have too much continues, unbounded by any fiscal worries.


Click
here for the rest.

Okay, one comment. I just read over at Eschaton that this monstrosity of a budget bill was defeated earlier today, despite the formerly successful GOP tactic of leaving the vote open far longer than is usually permitted. Bully for the Dems and moderate Republicans. However, I've also read that the right wing crazies in Congress are unimpressed and are going to come back with a very similar budget, which is just so typical.

Anyway, they're pretty evil, aren't they?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

MAINSTREAM REPUBLICAN REGAINS SANITY
Hagel Defends Criticisms of Iraq Policy

From the Washington Post courtesy of
Eschaton:

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) strongly criticized yesterday the White House's new line of attack against critics of its Iraq policy, saying that "the Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them."

With President Bush leading the charge, administration officials have lashed out at Democrats who have accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. Bush has suggested that critics are hurting the war effort, telling U.S. troops in Alaska on Monday that critics "are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible."

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, countered in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War "was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late."

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."

Emphasis mine. Click
here for the rest.

Of course, I've been saying this all along. Indeed, when virtually everybody was supporting the rash invasion of Afghanistan, which still hasn't really succeeded in capturing Bin Laden or establishing a new democracy, I felt quite alone in my assertion that it was my patriotic responsibility to speak out whenever I see my nation headed down the path of self-destruction. To be fair, there were some voices speaking out at the time, but even mainstream liberals like Eric Alterman supported the invasion, while right wingers savaged any and all public dissent; in fact, a lot of liberals joined in on the bashing. That's not how democracy functions: without citizens expressing their opinions about how the country ought to be run, powerful elites do whatever they want. Intimidating the opposition is simply anti-American, and the couple of years following 9/11 will be remembered as a time when our country was in great danger of abandoning its most precious ideals. It's nice to know that even Republicans are coming to their senses.

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ARE JOURNALISTS NECESSARY?
Maureen Dowd lectures at UT

One of my favorite journalists, if not my very favorite, Maureen Dowd, graced campus with her presence tonight at the LBJ Library Auditorium. In her typical scathing-yet-sweet style of assessing our nation's predicament, she put on quite a show. She answered some tough questions, though the vast majority of those in attendance were supporters.

Audience member: I sometimes wonder if your column only reaches people... people like us. How do you think you can reach the regular, uh, American Mr. Joe Six Pack?
Maureen: Uh, I can't even reach Mr. Joe Six Pack in my own immediate family...

So sexy, so intelligent, so liberal. How is she the author of a book titled "Are Men Necessary?" To be honest she's part of the reason I chose journalism as my career path; reading her ideas in a place as prominent as the Op-ed section of the New York Times gave me confidence that open liberals can still be taken seriously in major media outlets. She, Paul Krugman, Greg Palast, even John Stewart, are all inspirations to me. If not for them putting their reputations on the line every week, I'd probably be pursuing a career in dentistry.

Oh, and Ron helped a little along the way.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

TARGET MAY VERY WELL SUCK MORE THAN WAL MART

From
AMERICAblog courtesy of the Daily Kos:

As you may recall, Target is letting its pharmacists refuse to fill your order for emergency contracptive pills (Plan B, as it's called) simply because they find your prescription immoral. Target is now saying that they'll fill your prescription in a "timely manner" at another pharmacy, or at their pharmacy at a later time (presumably when their holier-than-thou employee is on break).

I don't know about you, but when I go to the pharmacist, I don't want him sending me to another Target 40 miles away simply because he has religious issues with my prescription. It's none of his business what prescription I'm getting filled, and short of there being a glaring mistake in my prescription a la "It's a Wonderful Life" - i.e., instead of allergy pills someone gave me cyanide - it's none of his damn business passing religious judgment on my prescriptions, my illnesses, my prefered form of treatment, or me.

I already have a priest, and he doesn't work at Target, thank you.

But Target feels otherwise. In fact, Target is now claiming - quite incredibly - that its employees' religious fanaticism is covered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yes, apparently Target employees are allowed to not sell you things based on THEIR religion. That's an absurd, and rather dangerous, legal statement from Target.


Click
here for the rest.

As the AMERICAblog post goes on to observe, the Civil Rights Act is much more about stopping stores from discriminating against consumers than it is about stopping consumers from discriminating against store employees. Obviously, this Target policy is nuts. Even though they're not as huge as Wal-Mart, and therefore unable to malevolently affect the economy in the same way, this is so extraordinarily outrageous that it may actually make Target suck worse than its more successful mega chain store competition. I mean, for god's sake, what this policy amounts to is allowing certain favored employees to discriminate against consumers who don't share their narrow understanding of Christianity. If you ask me, Target's policy is much more of a violation of the Civil Rights Act than a manifestation of it.

Man, sometimes I feel like the whole damned country's goin' nuts.

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Very disturbing story about Bush's state of mind

From
AMERICAblog courtesy of Eschaton:

Matt Drudge adds on his site:

"The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions."

So basically Bush is melting down. (Or, at the very least, the number one propaganda organ of the GOP wants us to think Bush is losing it - that's just bizarre on its face, and shows had bad things are for Bush, and the party.) This is rather disturbing in view of the increased chatter about Bush, an alcoholic who never sought treatment, now reportedly drinking again.


Click
here for the rest.

Yeah, this is pretty damned disturbing given the fact that he's got his finger on the button and all that. I think Atrios puts it best: "Certainly stories like this should be taken with giant boulders of salt, but if Bush is going Nixon crazy on us someone shold find out." If I recall correctly, tricky Dick was behaving so strangely during the final days of the Watergate scandal that his closest aids were honestly scared shitless that he was going to declare martial law if the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach him. Our nation may very well once again be back in that really freaky territory. I certainly hope not.


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Monday, November 14, 2005

SWATTING DOWN A RIGHT-WING MORON
Guest Blogger Miles and Real Art Ron Together at Last!

Not that I think all right-wingers are morons. Take my older brother, for instance, or William F. Buckley--they're pretty smart. And liberals certainly have their fair share of morons as well. No, I'm talking about a specific right-wing moron named Kirk.

Here's the comment he left on yesterday's post about
O'Reilly calling on Al Qaeda to blow up San Francisco:

So you would allow anti-war protestors at these schools? Or allow all those left wing liberals flood the minds of our school children, but you won't let a recruiter in there so they can make up their own mind?

As long as it agrees with your point of view. I get it.

Kirk

Not really knowing where to start sifting through these weird assumptions about where I'm coming from, or his misunderstanding of what caused O'Reilly to freak out, my response was simple:

Well, yeah.

Ron

But my young sidekick Miles was willing to sift through the BS:

Well, Kirk, I can't remember a situation in which "anti-war protestors" were given federal aide the way recruiters are. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, anti-war protestors at educational institutions are almost always students themselves.

Ron may have been fine with just dismissing your ignorance with, "Well, yeah" but I'm tired of reading things like this. What "left wing liberals" are "flood(ing) the minds of our school children"? I'm a product of public education, and I assure you, there's no left wing bias in the public school system.
Every facet of the system is set up to discourage intellectual discourse, including politics.

You say these recruiters are there to help students make up their own mind. If what's important to you is students making up their own mind, what use are the recruiters, then, anyway? I've had to field phone calls and mail sent to me daily by recruiters who want nothing more than for me to take a bullet in Iraq.

If anything, left-wing speech in public education would allow students a look at the hidden half of the equation, thus giving them a chance to really chose for themselves. When students are made to believe that the best thing for them is military service, regardless of their personal beliefs, that discourages free thought and lowers their sense of self-worth.

Miles


Well said, Miles. I would only add two points. First, as the Mayor of San Francisco has recently observed, the resolution about discouraging high schools from allowing recruiters on campus is in response to documented cases of hard sell recruiting, often involving straight-up lies and fraud. Given the hopelessness of the quagmire in Iraq, and the ever mounting death toll for US service personnel there, it seems very sensible to me for the voters of a concerned city to issue such a statement. Second, the main point of my original post is that O'Reilly was waaaay over the top in calling for Al Qaeda attacks on an American city, anti-recruiting resolution or not. Obviously, I support freedom of speech; O'Reilly can say whatever he wants. But so can I, and if I didn't condemn his remarks, I wouldn't be much of an American, would I?

Needless to say, O'Reilly has now completely revealed himself to be not much of an American.

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