Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bottoms Up!

Is it time for our National Beer of Reconciliation yet? My choice:

Putting it as delicately as possible

The anti-abortion movement is comprised of immoral and hypocritical assholes.

Glenzilla

You know, Greenwald often explains things in terms that I find not only distinctly not shrill but also expressly difficult to refute.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They do know their target audience

"Fair and Balanced"? So you say, but how about "Informed and Accurate"? Sadly, no!

Monday, July 27, 2009

As a guiding political philosophy

Give me Chomsky any day - or, hell, even Karl Marx would be better than this guy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

For Alex and Andy



Then later there was this:

What Digby Said

Digby has written yet another letter perfect post, this one on the subject of the Gates incident. It's long but absolutely worth reading every word, please do. In it, she makes a point that I was arguing myself with a friend the other night (great minds and all, doncha know) albeit with far less eloquence and skill, namely that it is the police that are supposed to be the professionals in these situations and as such should be trained and expected to diffuse volatile encounters, not exacerbate them to the point of arrest or worse:
The principles here are the same. Sure, we should treat the cops with respect and society shouldn't encourage people to be reflexively hostile to police. They have a tough job, and we should all be properly respectful of people who are doing a dangerous and necessary job for the community. But when a citizen doesn't behave well, if not illegally, as will happen in a free society, it is incumbent upon the police, the ones with the tasers and the handcuffs and the guns, to exercise discretion wisely and professionally. And when they don't, we shouldn't make excuses for them. It's far more corrosive to society to allow authority figures to abuse their power than the other way around.

Henry Louis Gates may have acted like a jackass in his house that day. But Sergeant Crowley arresting him for being "tumultuous" was an abuse of his discretion, a fact which is backed up by the fact that the District Attorney used his discretion to decline to prosecute. Racially motivated or not he behaved "stupidly" and the president was right to say so.
UPDATE: See also:
In another comment, Pithlord makes clear a point that I consider essential, namely "We all act like dicks sometimes, and I can sort of understand both Gates and Crowley's point-of-view in a subjective sense. I imagine I'd feel pissed off if I was either of them. The difference is Crowley acted illegally and unprofessionally." (Emphasis mine.)

That's a huge difference. As I've written in comments, I don't know and don't really care if Professor Gates lost his cool and acted like a jerk. I do know, however, that Gates didn't have a gun and the power to throw Crowley in jail.

So I have one other wish to draw from my pillowcase on halloween: It would be nice -- real nice -- if our discussion of this incident embraced more than just race and included police tactics generally. Crowley had the power to toss Gates in jail because he didn't like what Gates said. That just isn't right.

So, how you feeling? Down here in Texas, its

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not your grandparents' liberalism

Newsflash: It's not 1968.

Nick over at "Conservative Dialysis" ("Removing Liberal Waste From The American Bloodstream"!) rebuts Mike's testimony about what it means to be a liberal:
The rest of the post talks about Mike and how he sees things, and I’m not going to argue about that. I believe he is sincere in his beliefs and so I leave it there. However, Mike needs to realize something — these stereotypes he complains about have become stereotypes because it is what the public sees everyday in the news and on the streets. Liberals have done nothing other than re-enforce these stereotypes with their actions and deeds at any one of hundreds of protests every year. If a war breaks out, you can count on several protest marches in Washington, D.C. with American flags burning, huge paper-mache puppets walking around, and several people shouting incredibly stupid-sounding slogans, and all of the people doing these things will be liberal. Did you spot some hippies sitting in the grass next to the picket signs? Yes, they’re liberals. Did you also see the protesters trashing the Marine Recruitment Station in the middle of downtown? Yeah, they were liberals too.
I love that part, "If a war breaks out" - all by itself, kinda like acne! - and "huge paper-mache puppets walking around". But seriously, will someone please chime in here and cite the last time "hippies" made the news by burning an American flag? I gotta tell you, I graduated from high school in 1971 and by then, even, the term "hippies" was already passe. If this is what The Public sees "every day in the news and on the streets" then I need to find out who The Public's dealer is so I can get me some o' that heavy duty shit he's smokin'.

This is followed up by:
Contrast this to Conservatives, who only seem to protest abortion clinics with any type of anger or malice. Also, most Conservatives are very vocal about denouncing the use of violence in protests, especially when it was other Conservatives doing the protesting! Quite a difference, if you ask me.
Yes indeed. While the DFH's are sullying our evening news with their flag burning and whatnot, back here in Real-Now-Time those peace-loving Conservatives "only" show "anger or malice" by gunning down the occasional abortion clinic doctor, blowing up federal buildings or shooting up churches. Yup, quite a difference.

Question

When the Respectable Serious Mainstream press gives audiences to stark-raving-mad convicted felons and gives them platforms from which to spout their maniacal bullshit, is it any wonder that parody shows become the majority's "most trusted" venue for news? If news is going to be entertainment, then at least let us be entertained.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Painted Buntings Fighting

A friend sent me this picture that he took here in the hill country:

Morans

Texas Fred has this picture on proud display at his blog along with every other putrid racist epithet one could possibly imagine simmering in that sewer that passes for intellect in rightwing circles. But of course only we crazy moonbatty "libbers" would be dumb enough to call him a "racist".

I have to admit to being amazed at the full-out brazenness of rightwing lunacy (racist and otherwise) these days. It's like they've been storing this stuff up for years and now they feel like they have permission to just let it fly. Wonder where they get that idea, huh?

UPDATES: Digby on the "fetid underbelly" and Tristero, on sending in the clowns.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Well-Respected Man

While I was browsing through YouTube looking for the Kinks song I posted on Monday, I came across the video of them singing "A Well-Respected Man" and I knew an opportunity for using it would have to come up soon, and sure enough, here comes our friend Mike with a post about Why I'm A Liberal and a response is called for. The video is wonderful, and well worth watching, but for this post I want to focus on the lyrics:
A Well-Respected Man

'Cause he gets up in the morning,
And he goes to work at nine,
And he comes back home at five-thirty,
Gets the same train every time.
'Cause his world is built 'round punctuality,
It never fails.

And he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And his mother goes to meetings,
While his father pulls the maid,
And she stirs the tea with councilors,
While discussing foreign trade,
And she passes looks, as well as bills
At every suave young man

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he likes his own backyard,
And he likes his fags the best,
'Cause he's better than the rest,
And his own sweat smells the best,
And he hopes to grab his father's loot,
When Pater passes on.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he plays at stocks and shares,
And he goes to the Regatta,
And he adores the girl next door,
'Cause he's dying to get at her,
But his mother knows the best about
The matrimonial stakes.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.
Yes, that's right, wingnuts were just as much fun to mock in 1968 as they are now. Mike talks in his post about how vilified "liberals" have become based on crude stereotypes perpetrated by the right. As I see it, this is just a pendulum swing. The 60's were a reaction to the perceived repression and hypocrisy of the 50's - they didn't happen in a vacuum. The current backlash against liberals appears to be little more than rightwing pushback, and of course the class resentment and anger of those whose bigotry and privilege afforded them power they didn't deserve and were forced by society to relinquish. And as we all know, they haven't given up yet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wonderin'....

Have we passed socialized medicine yet?

RIP Frank McCourt


His powerful voice will be missed.

A song for the middle of July

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP Walter Cronkite

I grew up taking the integrity of our press for granted, thanks to the contributions of people like Walter Cronkite. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I get email

Jeannette sent me this that she found at Truthdig:

Happy Birthday Donald Sutherland



What a wonderful actor. My list of favorite Donald Sutherland performances is too long to put here but would have to include at the very least: Klute, Don't Look Now, MASH, Fellini's "Casanova", Bertolucci's "Novecento (1900)" (in which he played a truly loathsome character), Little Murders, Eye of the Needle, Kelly's Heroes, The Dirty Dozen, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and of course Ordinary People.

UPDATE: Found this interesting item on his IMDB biography: "Was so shocked by his own performance as the sadistic, perverse fascist leader in 1900, that he was unable to watch the film for years." Totally not surprising.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Judge Sotomayor Attempts to Deal With Questions From Republicans During Her Confirmation Hearings

Glennzilla

I very much look forward to this interview.

A little something to get you through the rest of the week....

So, is Sotomayor confirmed yet?

I never let the sun set without checking in on my Favorite Humor Website World O' Crap and the last time they ran a post about The Bloggess, I added her to my Bookmarks, but I don't check on her nearly as often for some reason - don't know why. Today, Scott points us to another post of hers that is guaranteed to crack you up, I kid you not! Make sure you've swallowed all liquids before reading.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Johnny Depp

Went to see Public Enemies last night and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. While I thought Donna's take on it was interesting, I still thought it would be not much more than a straight up, shoot-em-up gangster pic. And it is. But Johnny Depp is in it, which turns it into something a little bit more.

And speaking of Depp, I am told that he is to play The Mad Hatter in the latest from Tim Burton, Alice in Wonderland. Thinking of all the great pairings of directors and stars - William Wyler and Bette Davis, George Cukor and Katharine Hepburn, Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina, John Ford and John Wayne - surely Tim Burton and Johnny Depp ranks right up there with them. Whatever else one may say about Burton's films, the magnificent artistry of his sets and costumes is simply unparalleled. Take a look.

It's Time

Apologies to all of you faithful readers for the dearth of postings. I've been extrememly busy, but I've also been just a bit overwhelmed (is that possible? is that like being a "bit" pregnant?). I mean, for comic relief we had David Brooks blithely admitting on national television that he had spent an entire evening at a poopah DC gala with some senator's hand on his thigh (really, WTF??). But such levity was quickly overshadowed by the ever-steady revelations of more egregious crimes by the Bush administration and, despite the teaser hints that Eric Holder is "considering" prosecutions, the bleak prospects of anything meaningful ever being done. It's just too depressing for words. That should please our troll friend, Mark. He just loves it when we liberals are depressed. So revel away, Mark!

I can't listen to NPR anymore. (UPDATE: And I'm not the only one.) This morning Cokie Roberts told me that the proper thing for Holder to do is to prosecute those "rogue" CIA employees who just may have gone beyond the bounds of what was legally acceptable. Just like Abu Girab. Yeah, that's the thing to do allright.

Fortunately, I know where to turn to find voices that speak truth and sanity and help me feel like there is still some honor to be found, somewhere. Here's one reliable source, our friend hilzoy, and boy does she hit the nail squarely on the head (emphasis mine):
Let me add my own little millibar to that pressure. All of these things deserve to be investigated. This is not a matter of focussing on the past at the expense of the future. We will not have the future we want if government officials can break the law with impunity, safe in the knowledge that no future administration will be willing to take the political heat and investigate them.

Since anyone who is reading this probably knows what I think about these questions, I'd like to focus instead on this:

"Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on “Meet the Press” on NBC that despite his dismay at the Central Intelligence Agency’s past interrogation methods, including waterboarding, he opposed a criminal inquiry into torture, which he said would “harm our image throughout the world.”"

I think that is exactly wrong. People around the world are not under any illusions about whether or not we tortured people. They know that we did, and that fact has already, and rightly, done enormous damage to our image.

What they don't know is whether we are prepared to do anything about it.
Do we just lecture other people about their shortcomings, or are we ready to face up to our own? Most of the people I've met abroad assume that we will do nothing. They don't think this because of any particular dislike of the United States; they just assume that that is the way things work. If we do not hold anyone to account for any of the crimes that were committed under the last administration, they will not be surprised.

If we do hold people to account, on the other hand, that will make an impression.

In thinking about this, I am reminded of conversations I had when I was in Pakistan. My first trip there was in 2007, when the campaigns were just kicking into gear. People asked who I supported; I said Obama. They asked: but can he possibly win? I said that while I was reluctant to judge, I thought that he could.

The most common reaction -- not uniform, but common -- was a combination of several things. On the one hand, I was American and they were not, so the people I talked to naturally assumed that I probably had a better grasp of US politics than they did. Besides, I was their guest, and they were wonderfully polite. On the other hand, however, they found the idea that Barack Obama -- an African-American who did not come from a privileged background, whose father was from a Kenyan village -- could possibly be elected President literally unbelievable.

It was fascinating to watch them trying to reconcile these conflicting impulses: I was talking about a country I lived in, which most of them had never been to, and I was not obviously insane, but I was saying something that could not possibly be true. And, as best I could tell, there were two reasons why it couldn't be true: first, whoever the Pakistani analog of Barack Obama might be, that person would never be elected President in Pakistan, and second, they had been disappointed in America's track record in living up to its ideals, and so were not inclined to believe that it would do so this time.

The last time I went, Barack Obama had secured the nomination. People in Pakistan were astonished, but they were also really inspired. And I don't think that this was mainly about Obama's policies. It was about us living up to our ideals: about the idea that in America, anyone really can grow up to be President, and about the idea that enough of us had managed to look past our long history of slavery and discrimination and bigotry that we might elect Barack Obama President.

It gave people hope: the hope that cynics are not always right, and that the fix is not always in.

If we're interested in our image abroad, we could do a lot worse than simply deciding to live up to our ideals: for instance, the rule of law. It's the right thing to do, but it's also the smart thing.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

9/11 Changed Everything

Including, I guess, the definition of "binding law":
UPDATE V: Just compare Alicia Shepard's justification for why NPR calls Gambia's tactics "torture" but not America's -- they do it to inflict pain whereas we (supposedly) did it to extract information -- to the definition of "torture" in the Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. has been a siganatory since 1988:

Part I, Article I: For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

The entire civilized world has long defined "torture" to include tactics used to obtain information. By virtue of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, that definition is binding law ("supreme law") in the U.S. But to NPR's Ombdusman, it's not "torture" if they are simply -- as she put it -- "tactics used to get information." Those are the depths to which NPR is willing to sink in order to twist language and protect the Bush administration and the U.S. Government.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jacko

Is it over yet???? Let the sightings begin!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

All Too Common

Digby, God love her, speaks the truth about "common ground" BS:
And this common ground effort is designed to advance socially conservative policy, period.

I wonder...

...who Sarah Palin's speechwriter is/was. Yikes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Friends coming in from out of town. We'll go out to eat tonight, picnic tomorrow. What are you doing?