Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre To Read KJV Bible Over Holy Week

From the Religion News Service via the Huffington Post news wire:

William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre will mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a cover-to-cover reading between Palm Sunday and Easter Monday.

Twenty actors will take part in the reading, which is scheduled to take 69 hours over eight days. They will recite all 1,189 chapters of the historic Bible in the theater built as a replica of the place that saw many of Shakespeare's greatest plays.

More here.

"Easter Monday"? Gotta be a typo. Or maybe the Brits do things differently. Nah, gotta be a typo. Maybe they meant "the Monday after Easter;" I mean, this is supposed to take eight days starting on Palm Sunday.

Anyway, I like this for several reasons.

First, even though, as an agnostic, my Christian days are far behind me, I would be a fool to not acknowledge the Bible's importance, not only as perhaps the greatest work of Western literature, but also as one of the major philosophical seeds for the West, right alongside the Socratic dialogues, the Magna Carta, and the American Declaration of Independence. If you don't understand the Bible, you don't understand our civilization. I mean, you know, I hate all the smiting and condemnations to Hell and all that, but there's also some really great stuff in the Good Book, love your neighbor and all that.

Second, in the West, theater and religion have always been in the same family, sometimes like brothers, other times like third or fourth cousins, but from the ancient Greeks, for whom theater and religious worship were synonymous, to the passion plays of the Middle Ages, to today's televangelistic spectacle, as well as University of Delaware theater professor Sanford Robbins' notion that great (secular) theater ought to be about "invoking God on stage," theater and God have had intertwined destinies. A massive Bible reading at the Globe, or any other theater, is entirely appropriate.

But most importantly, there are more than a few historians and academics who have strongly speculated that Shakespeare was on King James' team of Bible translators. We can't really know one way or the other, but such speculation makes a great deal of sense. Shortly after James came to the throne after the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Bard left the Globe to found a new company, the Kingsmen (not to be confused with the band that had a hit with "Louie Louie" nearly five hundred years later), who worked directly for the new King. That is, Shakespeare, who was widely acknowledged at that point to be the greatest poet of the English language, was in the palace already, as an employee of the King: James would have been a fool not to use such in-house talent on such a grandiose project.

So this thing at the new Globe is just perfect. And I'm sure they're using a bunch of trained British Shakespeareans: all those "begats" in the Old Testament, I'm sure, will sound fucking great. Kind of like Patrick Stewart reading from the phone book. Kickass, even if it's boring.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Facts Are Not Enough: Treating Mass Psychosis

From AlterNet:

One of the biggest, long-lasting delusions of progressives is that people are moved mainly by rational arguments. Consequently, to get people to accept a particular policy such as universal health care, all one needs to do is to present strong and persuasive arguments in favor of it.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As George Lakoff and many others have pointed out, conservatives are highly effective in getting their views across and their policies adopted not just because they control major media outlooks and think tanks, but because they have powerful narratives that appeal directly to gut emotions. Until progressives not only have a better understanding of how emotions fundamentally shape political issues, but also incorporate them into their appeals, they will continue to lose the hearts and minds of the wider populace.


In abandoning the soaring thought and passion of his campaign for compromise, President Obama has not only lost the enthusiasm of his supporters, but far worse, he has lost the moral authority that is necessary to stand up to mass psychosis.

More here.

Okay, good essay, emphasizing some ideas I've been attracted to for some years now: people are more emotional than they are logical, and strong, passionate narratives are absolutely vital in order to effect political change. And the right is much better at this than the left is. The essay goes on to call the Tea Party point of view a "mass psychosis" which simply cannot be combated with reasonable debate. So far, so good. I totally agree.

But then it gets to the conclusion, which say the least. I mean, I think it's good to observe that the kind of language Obama used on the campaign trail is in the same ballpark as what the essay author is calling for. But, and it is very important to remember this, in hindsight, Obama's rhetoric was by and large without substance. Actually, you don't even need the 20/20 vision hindsight provides to have known this at the time: the then candidate was pretty clear about his views on his web site. "Getting out of Iraq" meant not getting out of Iraq; "change" meant keeping things pretty much the same; "hope" meant, well, I'm still not sure what it meant, probably because it didn't mean anything in the first place.

But that's the point. It just isn't reasonable to say that Obama "abandon[ed] the soaring thought and passion of his campaign for compromise" because he never planned on living up to the standard liberals projected onto him. That is, the vagueness of his soaring rhetoric was intentional from the get-go. The groovy good vibe talk was all about establishing a brand that would be appealing to progressives, getting them to vote for a conservative pro-corporate Democrat by allowing them to see something in him that just wasn't there. In other words, Obama hoodwinked the left. I mean, to be fair, liberals were willing victims, but that doesn't change the essential dynamic: Obama's lofty speeches were always bullshit.

The President didn't abandon anything. The soaring rhetoric was always a diversion. Just a cynical maneuver aimed at getting liberal votes. Obama the right-leaning corporate errand-runner compromiser is the real guy. That is, Obama's liberal supporters should never have been enthusiastic in the first place, just as Obama never had and never will have the "moral authority" to effect true political change in this country.

So yeah, the left really does need to start figuring out how to base its ideology in sweeping emotional narratives or we're doomed to obscurity. But Obama's not the guy to do it. And he never was.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alexander Technique: A Balm For Back Pain?

From NPR's Morning Edition:

He's been a working trumpet player for four decades, and all that back-arching and shoulder-pinching has left him with chronic pain in his lower back. Research suggests an alternative therapy called Alexander Technique may be an effective way to treat back pain.

Rodriguez first tried massage, chiropractic, and powerful pain killers. But finding a remedy for back pain can be a lot like a guessing game.

He says it was only through Alexander Technique lessons that he trained his body to move in a way that eased his aching back. Alexander Technique is a series of posture lessons, devised by a 19th century Australian actor named F.M. Alexander who had troubles with chronic laryngitis whenever he performed.

"It's a feeling of working with yourself from the inside out," says Rodriguez. "If you know you're twisting a certain way and using too much force, it's easy enough to know, Let that go."


These aren't static postures, though. Those who promote the technique say its more about how you move, and training yourself to release tension.

These are subtle – tiny, almost imperceptible shifts. And although the teacher will put her hand on your neck or shoulder, it's more to bring awareness than to make adjustments.

"The whole point is that you understand the process so that you can arrive there yourself," says Gray.

Read or listen to the rest here.

The long and short of the report is that there is now a pretty solid medical study supporting the notion that the Alexander Technique makes your back feel better. And it does. I know this because I've personally experienced it.

I'm not sure when it happened, probably some years before I first learned about the technique at the U of Texas theater department back in the late 80s, but serious conservatory training programs for professional actors have long embraced Alexander work as something every serious Thespian needs to practice. The idea, as explained in the above linked story, is that it's good for your voice, allowing maximum usage with minimum wear and tear, while at the same time making the actor look great on stage, what with its elegant postural outcome.

Unfortunately, it's rather vague and mysterious, and very easy to dismiss as bullshit. Indeed, that's exactly what I did back in the day. It wasn't until many years later, when I was studying acting at LSU's graduate school that, as a wiser and more mature grownup, I finally decided to give it a fairer shot. And it was really frustrating at first. Alexander asks you to develop an awareness of your body that you've probably never had, noticing muscles you've never noticed, paying attention to movement and posture that has been off the radar your entire life.

But I kept plugging away at it. By my third year at LSU, I was finally starting to notice a payoff. I wasn't getting neck cricks anymore. My back which often ached a bit at the end of the day felt loose and relaxed. Simple movement, like walking across the room, became more effortless, almost like gliding. And, oh yeah, my voice, which was often hoarse back when I was teaching, got a lot better--much of that is attributable to my voice classes, but I have to give lot of credit to the Alexander Technique, too. I don't think I mastered the technique, but I've certainly gotten a lot out of it. It definitely helps me as a waiter, what with all the walking and hefting of food trays.

People who know me or read this blog know that I'm not one to go in for such New Age bullshit, but that's the thing: AT is neither New Age nor bullshit; it just comes off that way to the uninitiated. Make no mistake. This is some good stuff. I, personally, don't need any medical studies to make me a believer, but it's very nice to know that science is starting to figure out what actors and singers in this country have known for decades.


Monday, March 28, 2011


From CounterPunch, New Orleans based left-wing journalist Jordan Flaherty on some jaw-dropping redneck bullshit:

The charges and counter charges are difficult to untangle. At the center of the case is a state audit of Waterproof that found irregularities in the town's record keeping. The Parish District Attorney says the audit shows mayoral corruption. The mayor says the problems pre-date his term, and he had taken steps to correct the issues. The mayor's opponents claim he stole from the town by illegally increasing his salary. His supporters say he received a raise that was voted on by the town aldermen. The mayor initially faced 44 charges; all but two were dropped before the trial began. Those charges - malfeasance in office and felony theft – were related to the disputed raise and use of the town's credit card. Miles Jenkins, the police chief, faced charges related to his enforcement of traffic tickets.

The mayor was quickly convicted of both charges but lawyers have raised challenges to the convictions, bringing a number of legal complaints. For example: in a town that is 60% African-American, Mayor Higginbotham had only one Black juror. Higginbotham's counsel was disqualified by the DA, and the public defender had a conflict of interest, leaving the mayor with no lawyer. Two days before trial began, the DA gave Higginbotham 10 boxes of files related to his case. Higginbotham's request for an extension to get an attorney and to examine the files was denied.

There's more: during jury selection, when Higginbotham - forced to act as his own lawyer - tried to strike one juror who had relationships with several of the witnesses, he was told he could not, even though he had challenges remaining. There was also a problem with a sound recorder that the court reporter was using, and as a result there is no transcript at all for at least two witness' testimony. Finally, during deliberation, the judge gave the jury polling slips that had "guilty" pre-selected, and then later hid the slips.


While both Jenkins and Higginbotham are from Waterproof, both had also spent much of their adult lives working in other places, and brought a professional background to their new positions. Allies of Higginbotham and Jenkins say this threatened Parish Sheriff Ricky Jones and DA James Paxton. Annie Watson, a school board member and former volunteer for the mayor, says officers working for Jones told her, "As soon as you people learn that the sheriff controls Tensas Parish, the better off you'll be."

More here.

It is very important to note that Waterproof's mayor and police chief are black, but the sheriff and DA are white. If Flaherty's account of the events is correct, and I have no reason to think otherwise, what we have here is something that could have been taken right out of a movie about the civil rights era. Bogus trumped up charges, flagrant violations of sacred Constitutional rights, Boss Hogg type characters, crooked judges, stupid evil rednecks, and on and on and on. Except that this isn't a movie. This isn't an obligatory Black History Month lesson. This isn't from the past. This is happening right now, in 2011, in the "post-racial" era presided over by an African-American President.

No, racism isn't over. No, we're not beyond all that. I mean, things are bad enough in more sophisticated urban areas around the country, but, make no mistake, this kind of down-home rural bullshit, the kind of injustice that Jim Crow was all about, continues to exist here and there in pockets throughout the South. And it seems to be getting worse, not better.

I hope that when all is said and done, this crooked sheriff and his corrupt DA pal end up behind bars themselves. I mean, this will all be reversed on appeal, right? In this day and age, it's impossible to know.

Tensas Parish Sheriff Ricky Jones.


BLOGGER'S BEING REALLY WEIRD TONIGHT I'm having trouble getting anything formatted correctly. Maybe I'll try again later tonight. Otherwise, no post until they get this shit cleared up. Bummer. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Saturday, March 26, 2011


No, Seriously. From the New York Times:

G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

While General Electric is one of the most skilled at reducing its tax burden, many other companies have become better at this as well. Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less.


Transforming the most creative strategies of the tax team into law is another extensive operation. G.E. spends heavily on lobbying: more than $200 million over the last decade, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Records filed with election officials show a significant portion of that money was devoted to tax legislation. G.E. has even turned setbacks into successes with Congressional help. After the World Trade Organization forced the United States to halt $5 billion a year in export subsidies to G.E. and other manufacturers, the company’s lawyers and lobbyists became deeply involved in rewriting a portion of the corporate tax code, according to news reports after the 2002 decision and a Congressional staff member.

By the time the measure — the American Jobs Creation Act — was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004, it contained more than $13 billion a year in tax breaks for corporations, many very beneficial to G.E. One provision allowed companies to defer taxes on overseas profits from leasing planes to airlines. It was so generous — and so tailored to G.E. and a handful of other companies — that staff members on the House Ways and Means Committee publicly complained that G.E. would reap “an overwhelming percentage” of the estimated $100 million in annual tax savings.

According to its 2007 regulatory filing, the company saved more than $1 billion in American taxes because of that law in the three years after it was enacted.


While everybody emphasizes how utterly lame this is, including an obligatory dose of extreme hypocrisy from the weirdos at Fox News, I'd like to make one small but obvious point that might be overpowered by the weekend news media and blogosphere frenzy on the subject: that a large corporation, whose CEO is also a highly placed economic advisor to the White House, is able to essentially write the tax code such that it not only doesn't have to pay taxes, but that the federal government also pays them a few billion dollars, is extraordinarily strong evidence that large corporations own the government.

I mean, can you do this? No, of course not. You're just a voter. All you have is the ability to vote for some guy who may or may not, probably not, adequately reflect your political views. Massive corporations, however, can hire armies of lobbyists and legions of lawyers, can make large campaign donations to, well, everybody running for office, regardless of party affiliation, which, in turn, makes our leaders beholden to them, can wage enormous propaganda wars effectively drowning out any and all dissenting views, and can place their own employees in key governmental regulatory agencies and advisory bodies. Compared to that, your vote, your one and only ability in our "democracy" to affect public policy, is a sick joke.

Like I and many others keep saying, our democratic republic is dead. I'm not sure when, exactly, it ended, maybe at some point back in the 90s, but dead it is, and it has been replaced by a wealth-driven and corporate oriented oligarchy. A plutocracy, rule by the wealthy. I don't even know how this can be controversial anymore.

We're no longer citizens; we're subjects. And it sucks.


Friday, March 25, 2011



Be sure to check out
Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


PREPPING FOR AN AUDITION... no post tonight. Really, this is a good thing: I've got the agent I've wanted to have for the last five years, and she's sending me out like gangbusters. Anyway, Friday cat blogging in the afternoon, and then back to regularly scheduled blogging Saturday night.

Tell me to break a leg!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The manipulative pro-war argument in Libya

Glenn Greenwald's blog:

But my real question for Judis (and those who voice the same accusations against Libya intervention opponents) is this: do you support military intervention to protect protesters in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies from suppression, or to stop the still-horrendous suffering in the Sudan, or to prevent the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Ivory Coast? Did you advocate military intervention to protect protesters in Iran and Egypt, or to stop the Israeli slaughter of hundreds of trapped innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon or its brutal and growing occupation of the West Bank?

If not, doesn't that necessarily mean -- using this same reasoning -- that you're indifferent to the suffering of all of those people, willing to stand idly by while innocents are slaughtered, to leave in place brutal tyrants who terrorize their own population or those in neighboring countries? Or, in those instances where you oppose military intervention despite widespread suffering, do you grant yourself the prerogative of weighing other factors: such as the finitude of resources, doubt about whether U.S. military action will hurt rather than help the situation, cynicism about the true motives of the U.S. government in intervening, how intervention will affect other priorities, the civilian deaths that will inevitably occur at our hands, the precedents that such intervention will set for future crises, and the moral justification of invading foreign countries? For those places where you know there is widespread violence and suffering yet do not advocate for U.S. military action to stop it, is it fair to assume that you are simply indifferent to the suffering you refuse to act to prevent, or do you recognize there might be other reasons why you oppose the intervention?


In a very well-argued column, The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson today provides the only plausible answer:

Anyone looking for principle and logic in the attack on Moammar Gaddafi's tyrannical regime will be disappointed. . . . Why is Libya so different? Basically, because the dictators of Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia -- also Jordan and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, for that matter -- are friendly, cooperative and useful. Gaddafi is not. . . .

Gaddafi is crazy and evil; obviously, he wasn’t going to listen to our advice about democracy. The world would be fortunate to be rid of him. But war in Libya is justifiable only if we are going to hold compliant dictators to the same standard we set for defiant ones. If not, then please spare us all the homilies about universal rights and freedoms. We'll know this isn’t about justice, it's about power.
More here.

I've been holding off for a few days commenting on this third US military adventure in the Middle East because articulating my position is difficult, to say the least. Really, my problem with this UN sanctioned no-fly zone is more about our ruling establishment's entire approach to foreign policy than it is about the actual intervention itself.

That is, Gaddafi (is that how we're spelling his name in English these days?) is a son of a bitch. Unfortunately, for him, he's not our son of a bitch. If he was, like the Saudi royal family, or Mubarak in Egypt, or any number of other friendly dictators sucking at the American teat in order to fuel and fund the way they oppress their own people, he'd be safe. Safe from us, at least. Likewise, Gaddafi would be safe, like any number of other dictators who don't belong to us, if Libya didn't have any resources that our ruling establishment wants to either possess or control.

In short, the only reason we're involved in this is Libyan oil. Like the excerpt above observes, if our leaders truly had humanitarian concerns, there are many areas around the globe that are in far more need of our military assistance than Libya, and we would already be there. As a rule, we just don't go to war simply to help people who are suffering--I mean, Somalia was an interesting diversion, but something along those lines is not likely to be repeated.

Having said that, it's difficult to get away from the fact that Gadaffi is, indeed, an evil son of a bitch who oppresses his own people, and it's hard not to sympathize with the rebels who oppose him. On the other hand, who exactly are the rebels who oppose him? I have to admit that, like most Americans, I don't know a damned thing about internal Libyan politics, ethnic demographics, factions, etc. But I do know that you're not at all necessarily a good guy simply because you're fighting a bad guy.

So this is all very complicated.

When we invaded Iraq back in 2003, I kind of adopted a rule for myself: I will not support any American wars as long as our government, which controls the military, is in turn controlled by corporations and the super-wealthy. That is, any war we fight these days is going to reflect the interests of the plutocratic oligarchy that has replaced our democratic republic, rather than the interests of the American people. But this Libyan thing makes such a black-and-white stance a bit problematic. I really do wonder if our involvement is going to make things better or worse.

Another problem: as with Iraq and Afghanistan, we have no exit strategy. How do we know when we're done? What is our mission, exactly? We've been in Afghanistan for a decade, and it's still pretty fucked up. We've been in Iraq for eight years, and, even though the US establishment has taken yet another victory lap over there, we still have tens of thousands of American soldiers in the desert nation, and they're not leaving any time soon.

I like that this Libya mission is under a UN mandate. I like that we're fighting an evil dictator. But there's just so much more to consider.


Nancy Grace, Weatherman Bernie Rayno Fight About Radiation

the Huffington Post news wire:

Essentially, she thought that the radiation stemming from the Japanese nuclear crisis could be dangerous to Americans. (Trace amounts of radiation have been located in California.) Rayno disagreed.

"In the United States, I don't think there's going to be a big impact at all," he said.

"Bernie. Bernie," Grace cut in right away. "Oh boy, here we go," he said.

"Yes, here we go," she shot back. "That's what you said the last time, and there's a state of emergency declared in California!"

Rayno said that was due to tsunami fears, not radiation fears.

here, with video.

I once asked my brother, a lawyer, if it was possible for somebody to get through law school and still be an idiot. He answered with a solid and resounding "Yes!" Of course, I already knew the answer; I just wanted to see what he would say--nice to see that he and I are on the same page with on this.

Nancy Grace, professional cunt, is one of those law-degree possessing idiots. Before becoming a TV star, she ruined several of the cases she prosecuted in Georgia with her own incompetence. After becoming a TV star, she browbeat a young mother whose daughter had recently disappeared into suicide, jumped onto the bandwagon of false accusation regarding the eventual non-case of the Duke University lacrosse team allegedly gang raping a stripper, and falsely accused the wrong guy for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart. I mean, she's neither a good lawyer nor a good outraged TV talking head. She's just a big fucking cunt.

As Digby over at Hullabaloo recently observed, we Americans easily weathered what trace fallout came our way from Pacific H-bomb testing back in the 1950s. I, myself, weathered whatever radiation may or may not have come my way from the Three Mile Island disaster back in '79, as well as the Chernobyl meltdown a few years later. Look, radiation contamination is generally a bad thing, but there's radiation and then there's radiation. I mean, for that matter, the Earth is continually bombarded with cosmic rays from space. CD players, computers, iPods, and cell phones all discharge radiation in small doses. X-ray machines are all about radiation. Sure, the continental US may very well see some trace amounts from the failing reactors in Japan, but it's just not going to affect our health or anything else. That Grace would resort to such uninformed fear mongering is par for the course.

She really is the worst kind of fucktard. Arrogantly stupid.


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Shameful Abuse of Bradley Manning

CounterPunch, legendary Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg weighs in on the alleged WikiLeaks accomplice:

The president refused to comment on PJ Crowley's statement that the treatment of Manning is "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid". Those words are true enough as far as they go – which is probably about as far as a state department spokesperson can allow himself to go in condemning actions of the defence department. But at least two other words are called for: abusive and illegal.

Crowley was responding to a question about the "torturing" of an American citizen, and, creditably, he didn't rebut that description. Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity – that's right out of the manual of the CIA for "enhanced interrogation". We've seen it applied in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. It's what the CIA calls "no-touch torture", and its purpose there, as in this case, is very clear: to demoralise someone to the point of offering a desired confession. That's what they are after, I suspect, with Manning. They don't care if the confession is true or false, so long as it implicates WikiLeaks in a way that will help them prosecute Julian Assange.

That's just my guess, as to their motives. But it does not affect the illegality of the behaviour. If I'm right, it's likely that such harsh treatment wasn't ordered at the level of a warrant officer or the brig commander.


My outrage about this has been growing for a few weeks now.

I'm not sure which documents Manning is accused of handing over to WikiLeaks, but I do know that they have something to do with either Afghanistan, Iraq, or both. And I also know that the US has committed war crimes in both theaters--indeed, the invasion of Iraq, in itself, was a war crime, as per the Nuremberg trials. Attempting to show the world what we have done is not treason. Rather, it's the reverse: leaking classified documents that show illegal government action is heroic and patriotic.

But for weeks now the Department of Defense has been treating Manning like he was Al Qaeda. I mean, they didn't charge him until just a few days ago. And he certainly hasn't been found guilty of anything because they haven't even put him on trial yet. It is absolutely horrific that he would be treated in this way; it is definitely a violation of his Constitutional rights. It's also one of many reasons it's a very bad idea for the US to torture prisoners of war: if we do it to our enemies, then it's okay to do it to our own. And we are doing it to our own.

Ralph Nader called for Obama's impeachment last Friday, and my response was that the consumer advocate was totally correct to do so, even though it's something of a drag because I like Obama. But Ellsberg kind of puts it all into perspective: the President just has to know what's going on with Manning, and yet does nothing about it. Obama's pat dismissals of the issue make him thoroughly responsible, if only because he knows and allows it to continue.

I don't want to even imagine that Obama is actually complicit in this, but it's looking more and more like he is. That makes him a torturer, as sure as Cheney and Bush. But this time our leader is torturing a US citizen. And that sends shivers up my spine.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Student Michelle Ramirez, Kirkwood Middle
School Administrators Argue Over Dress Code

the Huffington Post news wire:

Michelle Ramirez, a student at North Kirkwood Middle School, wore a shirt to class that read:


She was told to change into a different shirts, as school administrators thought the use of the phrase "the hell" encouraged a slang connotation, which is against school policy.

Ramirez maintains that she used the term literally, to communicate her religious beliefs.


School dress codes, being generally absurd, tend to create really stupid arguments.

Just for context, this appears to be pretty much open and shut. This little Jesus girl, Ramirez, has an absolute right to express her views in this non-disruptive way, especially considering that this is a religious view, giving her double protection under the first amendment for both freedom of worship and freedom of speech. I mean, kids lose some civil rights when they walk into the school building, but certainly not all of them. She's solid, I'm pretty sure, if she sues or brings in the ACLU, which usually scares the shit out of school administrators. And that's a good thing.

But look at the school's argument in the excerpt above: "the phrase 'the hell' encouraged a slang connotation." WTF? So what? It's a double entendre, you know, the kind of literary device that educators ought to be overjoyed to see students using. But no, a rule's a rule, and all that stupid school disciplinary shit.

And because the school makes a stupid fucking argument to support a stupid fucking rule, enforced in a stupid fucking way, the girl and her mother respond with an equally stupid argument: "she used the term literally." Well yes, she did, but she also made use of the "slang" sense of the phrase, too, in order to get people to pay attention. That's what double entendre is all about. The Ramirezes shouldn't have engaged administrators in their stupid fucking argument on its own stupid fucking terms. Instead, they should have just called on the first amendment.

But this is no surprise: school makes people stupid.

It's like I've said here a billion times. Because the overwhelming emphasis of the American school system is discipline, usually to the exclusion of all other concerns, "teachable moments" like this one often go down the drain, along with logic and reason. And people routinely get into genuine fucktard territory when they could be having a rational discussion. I mean, if you click through and watch the video, you see the school's principal talking about how the shirt might cause a "disruption" in its use of the phrase "the hell"--teachers and school officials love to talk about "disruption" and "distraction;" it's a catch-all that will get you busted for whatever they want to bust you for. Never mind that the "disruption" argument is bullshit; first amendment rights trump such behavioral theory, which has nothing to do with real life--I mean seriously, the shirt's going to drive kids wild? Yeah right.

Once again, I defend a point of view with which I totally disagree. Damned Christians.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nader Calls for Impeachment of Obama

Democracy Now:

RALPH NADER: You know, let’s be very forthright, though, Juan. George W. Bush and Cheney committed war crimes. They had surveillance of Americans illegally. They unconstitutionally pursued wars in Asia. They slaughtered innocents. And they were considered war criminals by many people, including Republican former judge Andrew Napolitano, author of four books on the Constitution, and Republican Bruce Fein. Now, Barack Obama is committing the same crimes—in fact, worse ones in Afghanistan. And innocents are being slaughtered. We’re creating more enemies. He’s violating international law. He is not constitutionally authorized to do what he’s doing. He’s using state secrets. He’s engaging in illegal surveillance. The CIA is running wild without any kind of circumscribed legal standards or disclosure.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We have just a few seconds.

RALPH NADER: And so, why don’t we—why don’t we—yes, why don’t we say what’s on the minds of many legal experts? That the Obama administration is committing war crimes. And if Bush should have been impeached, Obama should be impeached.

here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.

Morals and ethics aren't easy.

I genuinely like President Obama, in spite of my many political differences with him. I like his style. I like what he, as an African-American man, has achieved in rising to the top of what Malcolm X once called the "white power structure." I like his uplifting rhetoric. I like his intellectual approach to politics and governing. I like his urge to reconcile differing points of view.

And, of course, I mostly like that he's not a Republican.

But morals have meaning. Laws have meaning. It was extraordinarily easy for me to call for President Bush's impeachment when he was in the White House, extraordinarily easy for me to call for the investigation and prosecution of Bush and his cadre for war crimes now that they're out of office. It was easy because Bush was so obviously guilty, and even easier now that he has publicly admitted, even boasted of, ordering the torture of prisoners of war. But it was, and is, also easy because I don't like Bush.

I do like Obama.

But my, indeed our, principles would be utterly without meaning if we applied them only to people we do not like. I like President Obama. But, by the same standard to which we should hold the previous administration, the same standard to which we held leaders of the German Nazi regime in the 1940s, he is a war criminal, and should be thrown out of office and put on trial for crimes against humanity.

I mean, I know that's even less likely than putting Bush and Cheney on trial is, but it is the only course of moral action we can take. Otherwise, morality and the law are meaningless. And America stands for nothing.


Friday, March 18, 2011


Sammy and Frankie

Be sure to check out Modulator's
Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sarah Palin trashes National Endowment for the Arts

From the Los Angeles Times courtesy of
the Huffington Post news wire:

"NPR, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, all those kind of frivolous things that government shouldn't be in the business of funding with tax dollars -- those should all be on the chopping block as we talk about the $14-trillion debt that we're going to hand to our kids and our grandkids," Palin told right-wing host Sean Hannity. "Yes, those are the type of things that for more than one reason need to be cut."

Palin did not elaborate on what the other reasons might be for chopping the NEA budget. But the government of every major civilization in world history has also prominently funded the arts.


"Frivolous" indeed. Can't spend money on luxuries when we're having trouble finding ways to pay for billion dollar tax breaks to placate our corporate overlords. Luxuries...

It's been some years since we've heard any prominent conservatives reciting their traditional scorn for the NEA; I had kind of forgotten how much it pisses me off. If you want some reasons why funding the arts is important, click through the link, ditto if you want to see why cutting funding is irrelevant in terms of deficit reduction. I'm not even going to try to make such arguments myself because they're self-evident, and really, the burden of proof belongs to the inbred redneck anti-art crowd, as far as this debate goes.

Instead, I'm just going to make one statement:

The arts, the kind that don't make any money, are deeply embedded in our culture, a very large part of who we are as a people, as Americans. In the constant cacophony of mass media continually rammed down our throats, the arts serve as a quiet but vitally important reminder that we Americans are about much more than simple commerce and material riches, about much more than narcissism and self-gratification. The arts are our national soul. If anything, we should be discussing how we can increase arts funding. By a factor of about a thousand.

Anybody who doesn't understand that is either ignorant or stupid or both. I guess that's why Sarah Palin is the perfect person to pitch this bullshit.


Texas Bill Would Outlaw Discrimination Against Creationists

From Mother Jones:

Last week, Republican State Rep. Bill Zedler introduced HB 2454, a bill that would establish new workplace protections for proponents of intelligent design. Here's the key part:

An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member's or student's conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.


Um...this is like a guy with a peanut allergy claiming discrimination because he wasn't hired to work at the peanut farm. Or a man getting pissed off because he wasn't allowed to use the women's restroom. That is, there's a damned good reason "intelligent design," or more simply "creationism" if you want to be honest about it, doesn't get much support in academia: the notion is the very antithesis of science, or any other kind of honest intellectual inquiry, for that matter.

I mean, I suppose there's some room to study "intelligent design" as a sort of cultural phenomenon, depending on the field, but that's about it.

I had thought that my home state had reached its nadir as far as education goes with the approval of its recent history textbook standards, which, among other things, glorify President Reagan, while diminishing the accomplishments of Texans and Americans who are not white. But this one really gives those textbooks a run for their money.

Can right-wing self-imposed stupidity get any worse than this? I'd like to say no, but I'd probably be wrong.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Americans Oppose Afghanistan War Overwhelmingly


A new poll from the Washington Post shows Americans have turned decisively against our military engagement in Afghanistan. Nearly two-thirds oppose the war, and even larger percentage believes in a considerable withdrawal from the region:

The poll began asking only in 2007 whether the Afghan war is worth fighting, but support has almost certainly never been as low as it is in the most recent survey.The growing opposition pre­sents Obama with a difficult political challenge ahead of his 2012 reelection effort, especially in his pursuit of independent voters.
More here.

So...if two thirds of the country want out...why the fuck are we still there?

Oh yeah, that's right: I keep forgetting that we don't live in a democracy anymore. I mean okay, technically we've never lived in a democracy; rather, we've been living in what the political scientists call a "democratic republic," where elected representatives presumably enact the will of the people. So, to be fair, we no longer live in a democratic republic. We do continue to live in a republic, however, and elections seemingly continue to determine who our representatives will be, but the whole part about enacting the will of the people is no longer operative.

In short, it doesn't matter what two thirds of the nation wants. It's all about the will of the corporations and special interests now. Apparently, they want the war in Afghanistan to continue. As to why these people want us to keep wasting money and human lives over there, I can't say--it seems like a bad idea for everybody at this point. But that's what they want. So that's what we'll do.

Whether the people like it or not.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Further Analysis Finds Deceptive Editing In
Sting Tape, As NPR Gains An Unlikely Defender

the Huffington Post news wire:

Last week, a Project Veritas "sting" operation directed at National Public Radio cost some NPR executives their jobs. Beginning with Senior Vice President for Fundraising Ron Schiller, who was depicted on tape disparaging the Tea Party movement and suggesting that NPR should move away from federal funding (a position with arguable merit, but probably very unpopular at NPR), the fallout eventually cost NPR CEO Vivian Schiller her job as well.

That's sort of the NPR way: when one of the humans under their employ gets in trouble for expressing their opinions, everyone starts panicking and people start getting fired. Further analysis of the original video, however, demonstrates the wisdom of the old maxim, "act in haste, repent in leisure."

Glenn Beck-branded website The Blaze may seem an unlikely defender of NPR, but when the site's editor, Scott Baker, and video production specialist, Pam Key, examined the raw footage, they found "questionable editing and tactics" and reported them all out.


Okay, these are the same people who did the ACORN pimp tape, which resulted in the federal defunding of the group, and its eventual dissolution. These are the same people who got that African-American USDA worker fired for presumably making anti-white statements. Same with the Planned Parenthood thing, which hasn't yet killed the women's health organization, but has created momentum in Congress to yank its federal funding, too. And now NPR.

In every case, these organizations are either liberal, or perceived as liberal, institutions. But more importantly, in every case, every case, the tapes were doctored to portray their victims in the worst light possible. That is, this group, Veritas, is totally full of shit. Indeed, they're lying right-wing scum bags.

So I understand completely what Veritas is about. They're utterly unethical people with an ideological axe to grind, who think it's nothing to destroy lives and careers in order to line their caps with feathers and make liberals look bad. And, strangely, they're succeeding. What I don't understand is why anybody, anybody at all, listens to anything they have to say. Fool me once and all that. Their "stings" have been unmasked as bullshit four fucking times!!!!! Four times! But politicians and the press continue to take them seriously. I thought the whole WMD herd mentality back in '02-'03 was nuts, but this just takes the cake.

I'm really starting to think that our leaders aren't simply crazy: they're stupid, too. I mean, just drooling flibgiberty idiotic. How can you be taken for a ride like this four times in a row? Stupid, stupid, stupid.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Death Toll Estimate in Japan Soars as Relief Efforts Intensify

From the New York Times:

Japan reeled from a rapidly unfolding disaster of epic scale on Sunday, pummeled by the death toll, destruction and homelessness caused by the earthquake and tsunami and new hazards from damaged nuclear reactors that were leaking radiation. The prime minister called it Japan’s worst crisis since World War II.

Japan’s $5 trillion economy, the third largest in the world, was threatened with severe disruptions and partial paralysis as many industries shut down and the armed forces and volunteers mobilized for the far more urgent effort of finding survivors, evacuating residents near the stricken power plants and caring for the victims of the 8.9 magnitude quake that struck on Friday.

The disaster has left more than 10,000 people dead, many thousands homeless and millions without water, power, heat or transportation.

The most urgent worries concerned the failures at two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where engineers were still struggling to avert meltdowns and where some radiation had already leaked. An explosion at one of the reactors on Monday did not appear to have harmed it, Japanese officials said.


The quake and tsunami did not reach Japan’s industrial heartland, although economists said the power blackouts could affect industrial production — notably carmakers, electronics manufacturers and steel plants — and interrupt the nation’s famously efficient supply chain. Tourism was also bound to plummet, as the United States, France and other nations urged citizens to avoid traveling to Japan.


I don't really have much to say about this. I mean, I'm posting on it because I want to acknowledge here that this is going on and that it's blowing me away: they're estimating a death toll of ten thousand, which will probably rise, and then all these nuclear reactors threatening to melt down. I'm speechless. Sure, I could pontificate on how nuclear power has very little margin for error, which is why it's generally a really bad idea, but I've said as much before, and there will be time for more of that later.

But right now, I just want to say that I've always really liked Japan, no doubt because of the role that the island nation has played through decades of World War II mythology, the dignified and noble enemy that gave us a run for our money in the Pacific theater, but also just because Japanese culture is totally fucking cool. No one deserves destruction on this scale, but it sucks all the more when it happens to a nation you respect and admire.

The good news here, if there is any, is that Japan wasn't totally devastated. Like the excerpt above notes, the nation's industrial infrastructure remains essentially intact, which means that they're well primed to recover, even though it will probably take a decade or more.

In the meantime, I'm just watching. If anything to say occurs to me, I'll post it here.


Saturday, March 12, 2011


From Wikipedia:

Die Antwoord (Afrikaans: "The Answer") is a rap-rave group from Cape Town, South Africa consisting of three members: Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek. The band self-identifies as a mélange of several diverse cultures.

The band toured Europe starting in April 2010 and the USA and Canada later that same year.


My buddy Doug has been turning me onto these people for the last few days. If you know me, or have followed my blog for a while, you might be thinking that "rap-rave" music isn't quite what I'm into, especially rave stuff, but the deal with Die Antwoord's hard to say.

Here, just check it out:

And the more you delve into their stuff, the weirder it gets. My take, and I'm probably right about this, even though, like professional wrestlers, Die Antwoord isn't really telling, is that these people are performance artists, walking a fine line between parody and tribute, and throwing in whatever other ideas may occur to them, as well. And it's not like they're just some avant garde music group, either: for Die Antwoord image is just as important as sound, revelling in a sort of euro-trash/white-trash aesthetic, bejewelled with bling-trappings of American hip-hop filtered through bizarre working class white South African culture.

I have to admit that I don't fully understand what they're about. On the other hand, that's most of the fun for me. I watch their videos with my jaw hanging and think to myself, "what the fuck is this shit?"

And the chick, Yo Landi Vi$$er, is hot--I also like how she uses dollar signs for spelling her name instead of the letter "s." Go check 'em out. I think you can download their first album for free.


Friday, March 11, 2011




Be sure to check out Modulator's
Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


"Turnabout Intruder"

From Wikipedia:

"Turnabout Intruder" is a third season, as well as the final first-run, episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is episode #79, production #79, written by Arthur H. Singer, based on a story by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Herb Wallerstein. This was the last original episode of Star Trek to air on NBC.

Originally scheduled to air at 10pm on Friday, March 28, 1969, the network pre-empted it at the last minute with a special report on former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had died earlier that day. On June 3, 1969, after an absence of 2 months, Star Trek was brought back on a new night and time: Tuesdays at 7:30pm EDT. "Turnabout Intruder" was the first episode to be shown in this new time slot.

Overview: Kirk becomes trapped in the body of a woman bent on killing him and taking over his command under his guise.


Watch it

(Note: this is not's some pirate site. Apparently CBS has replaced all TOS stuff with the animated series, which is okay, I guess, because I can review those episodes now, too. Still, I wonder why they pulled the original show. Ah, it'll probably come back in a few months. Anyway, better go watch this one soon before the giant mega-media corporation threatens to sue these pirate guys.)

Notes and pics:

* It makes no sense that Star Fleet wouldn't allow women to be starship captains. Chalk it up to the fact that the show was made in the 1960s, and the women's lib movement was only just getting started. Still, given how far we've come, with female American soldiers killing and being killed over in the Middle East, and on and on, that the 21st century is somehow more progressive on gender issues than the 23rd century is just a bit hard to swallow.

But I do like the woman scorned theme we've got here. And I like a woman hating Kirk much more than I like a woman loving Kirk.

* The actress playing Dr. Lester is really good. This mutes the weird future chauvinism problem a bit, which is good.

* William Shatner is playing Kirk literally possessed by a crazy and evil woman. This is one of his best performances of the series. It suits his technique, and he just throws himself into it, having a grand time all the way. It might also have something to do with the fact that he knew this was the last one they were doing. Like the Beatles finally devoting themselves to Abbey Road after months of bickering and fucking around. Shatner is saying, "No, really, I'm a great fucking actor," and then pulling every trick out of his bag in an attempt to prove it.

* Kirk: "Quiet! QUIEEeet..." Oh man, he's pulling out all the stops.

* I love this guy playing the sleazy doctor. You kind of want to punch him in the face.

* Shatner uses his "uncertainty" technique while talking to Scotty over the communicator. We've seen it many times before, most notably when he talks to his lover about the Tantalus Device, "Yes...", in "Mirror, Mirror." Authentic and natural it's not, but it sure is interesting and cool. Another Shatner show-off moment.

* Nice little take from Shatner when Scotty starts off his sentence with "Dr. Lester..."

* So we have Shatner playing Lester who is, in turn, playing Kirk because she's inhabiting his body. Very Shakespearean, but also weird and cool. I only noticed this when Lester drops her Kirk act later in the sickbay. This is getting confusing, but in a fun way.

* Lester-as-Kirk: "Love! Him?" This is all classic Shatner. Is this one his absolute best performance? I'm starting to wonder.

* It's also very homoerotic in that Lester is apparently having some sleazy affair with the sleazy doctor. No wonder people write fantasy stories about Kirk being gay. I'm reminded of the relationship between the Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman characters in High Anxiety.

* Fabulous scene when Lester-as-Kirk removes McCoy from Kirk-as-Lester's case.

* Wonderful weird montage flashes to represent Kirk-as-Lester's in-and-out-of-consciousness state.

* The bridge scene when Lester-as-Kirk changes course is all very Caine Mutiny, which is welcome.

* Good scene with McCoy.

* Nice. He's trying to convince Kirk-as-Lester that he's insane. I love space madness.

* Lester-as-Kirk takes her the fuck down! Yeah!

* Love the logic-heavy scene with Lester and Spock,which ends in a quick mind meld, complete with traditional Spock music.

* Great idiot red shirts guarding Lester.

* Love Spock going totally rogue.

* An on ship court martial, very Star Trek.

* Lester-as-Kirk just gets totally screwy here. It's all in good fun, of course.

* Excellent speech of repudiation from Spock: "You are NOT Captain Kirk..."

* Oh yeah, Lester-as-Kirk is freaking out!

* I love that Scotty describes Lester-as-Kirk's behavior as "
hysterical." That's kind of sexist writing in itself, given the circumstances.

* I love Scotty's no-nonsense argument for mutiny.

* Sulu: "The death penalty is FORBIDDEN." I've always loved this moment.

* Shatner's got some really nice pain-face work going on here for the momentary psyche reversal. Another classic Kirk moment.

* Oh nice. Kirk becomes
femme fatale. This is sooooooo gay. But in a good way.

* Is that a brain sitting in a big jar on the lab table?

* Very cool. We haven't seen this pain-face since "Man Trap."

* And now she's just another crazy ex.

* The sleazy doctor's pretty pathetic here. You want to punch him in the face again.

* In spite of the ridiculously anachronistic narrative device that women in the future cannot be starship captains, this episode really hums and zings, mostly, it appears, because everybody knew this was going to be the last one. Shatner hasn't had this much fun since early in the show's run, and he seems more relaxed, totally within his element after three years playing the role. All the other regulars turn in very solid performances, and the guest stars work well, too. And the story itself is pretty good, too, if you don't think about Dr. Lester's career motivation too much. Lots of weirdness from the body exchange, and the trial's just a fucking hoot.

This really is something of an Abbey Road for Star Trek. A great show on its way out, making sure to turn in something to make them all proud. Four and a half stars.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Climate change really is a profound threat to a great
many things that right-wing ideologues believe in."

Democracy Now:

NAOMI KLEIN: But something very different is going on on the right, and I think we need to understand what that is. Why is climate change seen as such a threat? I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable fear. I think it is—it’s unreasonable to believe that scientists are making up the science. They’re not. It’s not a hoax. But actually, climate change really is a profound threat to a great many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. So, in fact, if you really wrestle with the implications of the science and what real climate action would mean, here’s just a few examples what it would mean.

Well, it would mean upending the whole free trade agenda, because it would mean that we would have to localize our economies, because we have the most energy-inefficient trade system that you could imagine. And this is the legacy of the free trade era. So, this has been a signature policy of the right, pushing globalization and free trade. That would have to be reversed.

You would have to deal with inequality. You would have to redistribute wealth, because this is a crisis that was created in the North, and the effects are being felt in the South. So, on the most basic, basic, "you broke it, you bought it," polluter pays, you would have to redistribute wealth, which is also against their ideology.

You would have to regulate corporations. You simply would have to. I mean, any serious climate action has to intervene in the economy. You would have to subsidize renewable energy, which also breaks their worldview.

You would have to have a really strong United Nations, because individual countries can’t do this alone. You absolutely have to have a strong international architecture.

Watch, read, or listen to the rest

It really is amazing, isn't it? Global warming, caused by human industrial activity, has been long established as a scientific fact, but conservatives totally reject it. And they're extraordinarily desperate about it. I mean, they speak in terms of belief, even though belief is something that you do with Santa Claus or God, not scientifically verified aspects of material reality. And almost everybody who uses the term "conservative" as a self-identifying moniker, from true blue Movement Conservatives, to Libertarians, to fundamentalist Christians, to neoliberals, to just plain old Republicans, has adopted this point of view.

Communicating with these people on this topic is not too far from trying to get a caveman to understand that fire isn't magic or the Sun isn't a god. Seriously. Really intelligent people go into intense contortions of logic, or cite the obscure dissenting minority of scientists quoted in the National Review, or engage in wild conspiracy theory, in order to make themselves comfortable with the fact that they are essentially insisting that the world is flat. Conservatives are simply not rational on this issue, which is an enormous drag because, given the political power the right wing wields these days, it will probably mean the eventual destruction of human civilization.

It's been pretty obvious for years now that the real reason conservatives are such weird psychos on global warming is that it means their entire understanding of human relationships is wrong. Just plain wrong. And they don't have the balls to admit it, even to themselves. Caught between reality and their false "beliefs," the right wing has descended into deep, deep denial, which makes them behave and speak in increasingly bizarre and irrational ways.

Ever wonder why President Obama, a neoliberal conservative Democrat, has been branded an infinite number of times as a socialist? I don't think global warming is the only factor at work in this strange phenomenon, but it definitely plays a role: conservatives feel the concept of climate change breathing down their necks, and it's making them crazy. I mean, literally. Like, Obama's a fucking socialist? Yeah, right.

I really have no idea how to deal with this problem. What do you do when the guy you're arguing with is an arrogant asshole insisting that day is night, black is white, and up is down? But I do know what I'm going to do. No more arguments about whether climate change is happening, no more arguments about whether it's man made. This is all about irrational emotion for conservatives, so I'm going to give them some of their own authoritarian medicine. The next time I hear some right-wing ideologue bashing the notion of global warming, I'm calling him a fucking idiot. No explanation. No discussion. I'm calling him a primitive piece of shit who's trying to kill us all.

I mean, that's about as substantive as their "arguments" debunking climate change are, right? Let's see what happens when irresistible force meets unmovable object. At the very least, it ought to be fun and gratifying.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011


From the New York Times editorial board:

Peter King's Obsession

Not much spreads fear and bigotry faster than a public official intent on playing the politics of division. On Thursday, Representative Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is scheduled to open a series of hearings that seem designed to stoke fear against American Muslims. His refusal to tone down the provocation despite widespread opposition suggests that he is far more interested in exploiting ethnic misunderstanding than in trying to heal it.

Mr. King, a Republican whose district is centered in Nassau County on Long Island, says the hearings will examine the supposed radicalization of American Muslims. Al Qaeda is aggressively recruiting Muslims in this country, he says. He wants to investigate the terror group’s methods and what he claims is the eagerness of many young American Muslims to embrace it.

Notice that the hearing is solely about Muslims. It might be perfectly legitimate for the Homeland Security Committee to investigate violent radicalism in America among a wide variety of groups, but that doesn’t seem to be Mr. King’s real interest.


Part of me is like, "oh wow, there go the crazy Republicans again." But that just shows how numb I've become to this kind of bullshit over the years. I mean, after 9/11 for a while there we had the Bush administration officially pronouncing that the "War on Terror" was absolutely not a war on Muslims, which managed, apparently, to mute to some extent the vilest of anti-Islamic bigotry coming from America's loony right wing. With Bush now gone from office, however, and no real leader for the Republicans out there short of Rush Limbaugh and his idiot-ilk, the Muslim hate has ramped up among the conservative mob quite a bit as of late. But make no mistake: we've been hearing anti-Muslim rhetoric for nearly a decade, with only the worst of it manifesting in the Obama era.

That is, it's taken me a couple of days since these pathetic hearings were announced for me to fully realize just how fucked up a venture this is: the United States government is singling out Americans who practice one of the major world religions for
HUAC style persecution and scrutiny.

Never mind the fact that there's just no evidence that the American Muslim community is undergoing some sort of process of "radicalization"--indeed, these hearings are the result of the decade of Muslim bashing I mentioned above, not a mass wave of American suicide bombers waiting in the wings, or anything else along these lines. Instead, try to imagine what it would be like if the House Homeland Security Committee announced that it was going to have highly confrontational hearings on how the Southern Baptists have evil in their hearts, or the Reform Jews, or the Pentecostals, or even the barbaric atheists. I mean, after all, "radicalization" essentially means "evil in their hearts" or something to that extent. In other words, these hearings exist only to brand American Muslims as bad people. That's what this really is, an exercise in Muslim bashing live on TV, an opportunity for gasbag Republicans to thump their chests and hurl prejudices at the expense of Americans who have done nothing but sincerely believe in their religion.

This is in blatant violation of the first amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But worse, it is deeply immoral, and the Republicans in pursuing this folly do nothing but bring shame down on all of us.


Monday, March 07, 2011

FAT TUESDAY... tomorrow. I haven't done a lot of merry-making thus far this season, but I plan to make up for that starting early in the morning. So no real post tonight, just a pic and the usual link to
the Wikipedia Mardi Gras article. I've got to prepare, you know.

Me back in 2005 after attending my first Mardi Gras parade. In Baton Rouge,

which kind of isn't the same thing as here in NOLA, but it was an important first for me.

Happy Mardi Gras!