Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I Still Have Faith

I'm not a man given to sentimental notions of patriotism. My patriotism is the patriotism of a man with a wayward younger brother, chiding his mistakes and exhorting him to do better. Time and time again, I've been disappointed. I've given a lot for my country, and more often than not I feel like what I've given was squandered.

It isn't often that I feel a sense of pride in my country, or the people in it. When people ask me why, I need only point to every yellow-magnet on every giant SUV. I need only point to those who would condemn abortion, but support the chair. I need only point to those who would rather see a woman carrying a gun, than a packet of birth control. I need only point to those who would have thanked me for my service, while another veteran went homeless.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I'm proven wrong. Every so often, when I least expect it, I'm given reason to have pride in my country.

Philip


The man in the video above is a World War II vet, and lifelong Republican, now in the last years of his life, speaking at a hearing in Maine to decide whether gays should have the right to marry. This man gave blood and sweat for our country, and when asked why he would support equality for gays and lesbians, his response?

"What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach? I haven't seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice. For what? For freedom and equality. "

Like I said, I'm not given to sentimental displays of patriotism. I don't think of our flag, the way some do, and get choked up. But hearing this man speak, his voice wavering with age; hearing this man, whose sacrifice makes my own look like a pittance, and to hear him speak for those whose voices so often go unheard... well...

Well, it chokes me up a bit.

This... this is why I love my country. This is why I still have faith.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Welcome To The Club

Welcome to the club... Frustrated Liberal Lawmaker Balances Beliefs and Politics.
Mr. Blumenauer is just one example of what might be called the Frustrated Left, a substantial caucus of Congressional Democrats who dreamed that Mr. Obama would usher in a new era of liberal problem-solving only to see Congress and the new administration collide with the old problems of partisanship, internal disagreement and the challenge of mustering 60 votes to get just about anything done in the Senate.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Status Quo Is Not Acceptable

My folks primary health care providers, the Mayo Clinic "strongly supports President Obama's" Health Care reform...
Mayo Clinic Reaction to President Obama’s Speech – September 9

Mayo Clinic strongly supports President Obama’s call for health insurance reform and health care delivery reform, and agrees with the President’s position that the status quo is not acceptable. We believe that a bipartisan, collaborative approach is essential to achieving significant, patient-centered health care reform.

Mayo Clinic and the many organizations and individuals working with us in the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center are strongly in favor of reform of both health care delivery and health insurance. True health care reform is getting better results for the money spent. Better results for money spent is what we meant by high value health care: better outcomes, safer care, better service and at lower costs over time. And this will translate to better access to medical services for all Americans.

We agree with President Obama’s focus on insuring all Americans and reforming the health care payment reform.
Pretty solid endorsement. Of course the cynical part of me is wondering if they aren't happy because they will be making huge profits from the reform plan.

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Fat Need Not Apply

An article published last week on the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog quotes Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove as lamenting the fact that he cannot legally refuse to hire morbidly obese individuals and as supporting stigmatization of, and discrimination against, overweight individuals.

The Cleveland Clinic has deemed smokers to be unsuitable for employment. New employees are required to undergo a cotinine test and are refused employment if testing indicates that they smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

Now, it appears that smokers may be just the first group that the Cleveland Clinic is trying to purge from its work force. The overweight and obese appear to be next, as soon as Cosgrove gets word that it is only the morbidly obese who are protected by federal law.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals who are morbidly obese, it does not protect those who are merely obese or overweight. Thus, there is nothing to stop the Cleveland Clinic from refusing to hire anyone who is overweight or obese. The Cleveland Clinic is perfectly free to make being thin a requirement for employment. And it's frightening to know that its CEO is even thinking about doing so.

To be clear, what the Cleveland Clinic is doing is discriminating against smokers in employment. They are justifying this selective and targeted employment discrimination on the grounds that it is important to promote a healthy workforce. Yet they show no desire to actually promote a healthy workforce by making sure that prospective employees are actually healthy. They can be as unhealthy as they want to be, as long as they don't smoke and are not over weight.

What's next? Refusal to give smokers and obese/over weight people health care at the Cleveland Clinic?

http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/08/cleveland-clinic-ceo-quoted-as.html


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Show Everyone Real Freedom of Speech

In Arizona alone: At Democratic congress woman Gabrielle Giffords healthcare meeting a rabid protester dropped a gun out of his pocket. Anne Kirkpatrick couldn't get hers started... The meeting was shut down, republi-cons bragged, calling it "recess roastings". Harry Mitchell's meeting was a farce, with "screamers" everywhere... no respect shown. Threats of violence were issued to Union members if they showed up to voice their opinions.

Last night, republi-con Jeff Flake held his meeting... it was civil and orderly, people outside joked with the media that they were "the angry mob". At Trent Franks meeting they were disappointed there wasn't enough room... again, very subdued and joking about being "the angry mob". John Shadegg's meeting was similar. All three republi-con congress members had one thing in common, respect shown.

Guns, screaming, threats of violence... no respect at the Democratic congress members meetings. Orderly, civil, subdued, and jokes about being "the angry mob" at all the Republican member meetings. That describes Arizona and the rest of the USA currently.

It's evident in Arizona, on FAUX News, right wing radio and through out America, free speech exists for the Republican party. Especially when it resorts to outlandish behavior, inciting violence and preying on people's fear.

Taking August off has once again played into the hands of the party of NO. The Democratic Party is reeling during this recess. The repukes had a strategy... absurd and idiotic as it is... it's effective, and it's taking the voice from the healthcare discussion. Democrats need to be smart about this right now... get organized... this could be a significant political turning point... time to stop fucking around. Democrats won majorities in both Houses, the Presidency... in other words, the vote... time to immediately pass effective healthcare legislation, show everyone real Freedom of Speech!!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thirteen Days

The world, for thirteen straight days, has been mourning Michael Jackson's death. As the world mourns, NBC and others feed the grieving masses with such topics as flying Bubbles to the funeral, or keeping the bad news from Bubbles as to not harm the emotional well being of the chimp. It is as though the world stopped thirteen days ago and then collectively went insane.

Is something wrong with me when the world seems to be grieving so? Here I am searching the channels for real news about the economy, health care, etc., only to find that Michael Jackson's life and death transcends all such mundane topics.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm sorry that Michael died at such a young age. I like Michael's music, and cannot deny that MJ was a true genius. But being subjected to non-stop tabloid news for thirteen days is more than I can take.

That sound you just heard was me turning off the TV for another six months.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Leave it to Sarah

Since it's a different point of view, here's the Iowa paper of record on Moose Killer's resignation.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to leave office this month could help her begin laying the groundwork for Iowa's 2012 Republican presidential caucuses, influential Iowa and national party insiders said Friday.

. .Dave Roederer, top Iowa adviser to former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, said it would be difficult for Palin to begin making contacts in Iowa next year in anticipation of a bid for the leadoff caucuses were she still governor.

. . "Geographically, I just don't know if she could do both jobs. The distance is huge," said Roederer, who was McCain's 2008 Iowa campaign chairman. "You can't just give a speech and fly home the next day."
Remember what I said the other day about the GOP gubernatorial hopefuls? Guess which county also weighs in.
Sac County Republican Ann Trimble-Ray, who was a strong supporter of Palin last year, said she would be disappointed if Palin were stepping down in order to get a jump on a 2012 campaign.

"If she is thinking of running for higher office, she's not done the right thing," said Trimble-Ray, who is county party vice chairwoman and was a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention. "You need to be loyal to the people who elected you. It shakes my faith in her judgment, which I had thought was very good."
Sarah will be forgiven, especially if Huckabee decides not to run or won't walk away from his less-than-ideologically pure positions.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

If its July 4th, its time to think of traitors

How do you know it's a holiday? It's because I crawled out of the woodwork.

Anyway, something to consider from This American Life that was broadcast last month: Turncoats
Brandon Darby was a radical activist and one of the founders of the incredibly effective relief organization Common Ground. Michael May reports on how Darby changed from a revolutionary who wanted the overthrow of the U.S. government into an informant working with the FBI against his former radical allies.
The event in question is related to the RNC Welcoming Committee that was formed in opposition to the August 2008 Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. One of the things that protest groups struggle with is the presence of police or federal provocateurs whom insinuate themselves undercover into the groups and then either provoke or initiate violent or destructive acts. The assumption is that the agents are working with the knowledge of their superiors or handlers. I think that's probably too clear cut - with the extreme personalities attracted to these roles or missions, how often do they go out on their own either to inflate their own self-importance or so they can be heroes and kick ass?

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Follow Up to the Republicans Without Rhythm

Deeth - History of the recent Iowa Gub contests and speculation from the Iowa BlogFather.
Early odds on the GOP Race for Governor at Bleeding Heartland
Enter Dennis Fong - from Radio Iowa

I know no one paid attention, but remember - this will all shake out 2 hours before the 2012 caucus campaign begins on November 3rd, 2010. This will be a proxy war, and whomever wins will articulate the early message in the presidential campaigns.

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My annual Fourth of July whine

Why are we the only Americans? If you've taken Spanish, you might be aware that our continental neighbors to the South bristle a bit at our arrogance in claiming sole ownership of being American. We're obliquely referred as norteamericanos, as much as we may address them as Latin Americans or South Americans; to the rest of the Spanish speaking hemisphere any citizen of the Americas is called americano.

The architect (and ego) Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the use of the adjective Usonian in place of American to describe the particular New World character of the American landscape as distinct and free of previous architectural conventions. Wright also thought that the post-WWI war America, known to Europe now as US, Uncle Sam, USA from its army initials, should be USonian. Although rarely used in the sense of "U.S. citizen", Usonian is more common than the alternatives.

It'll never happen of course. Too many of our contemporaries are wrapped up in the identity of being American. To these people, using Usonian is about as Socialist as Single-Payer health care or the public option.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Listening to the drumbeats

Maybe drumbeats isn't the correct term - this is Iowa, full of rhythm-less white folk, and Republicans to boot. But I want to mention Kay Henderson's blog on the Sac County Republican prayer breakfast which gave the 2010 GOP gubernatorial hopefuls a chance to preview their stump.

It doesn't get anymore Iowa Republican than this - we're running to the right for the deep pockets of campaign donors and early name recognition. Those of you familiar with the GOP Iowa Straw Poll or any pre-pre-primary event know the game and what every candidate is looking to do.

What it also does is allow us to see what Iowa GOP thinks are it's strong arguments and candidates. The IGOP is in the same miserable position that the national party is - out of power in both legislative houses and the executive, and short on potential good candidates. This is our first glimpse of a party whom knows it needs to improve it's message and is taking the first steps on the road to recovery.

At least in theory. Because it seems to clear that the four candidates either running or considering are spweing the same bullshit to the same safe crowds that Republicans believe will deliver the same success prior to 2006. Because the 4 men (all white of course), still represent the same Republican party that got us into our common mess.

Bob VanderPlaats is the current social conservative favorite, but Bob has been running for the same office with the same core of religious support for going on 8 years now. Prayer Breakfasting in Western Sac County - the seat of Steve King's 5th District support - for him is akin to eating Capt'n Crunch in front of the mirror every morning. Bob seems to have caught that the GOP must offer real alternatives to the Democrat's ideas, but he and this crowd must think that the same ones that got them to 2006 are still the best ones.

Chris Rants has been big player in the state GOP since becoming Asst. House Majority leader in 1994, only two years after being elected for the first time to office. Both Rants and VanderPlaats are from uber-conservative Sioux City -- needing a way to define himself, Rants worked the economic and fiscal half of the GOP bible. He wants to Sell Iowa (which if you think about it, it does correctly conceptualize the GOP goals on the free market and privatization) every minute of every hour, every day to enterprises that will garner us jobs and revenue. And lower taxes. And ban gay marriage - which got him his second applause line.

Rants did say something interesting: "Rants repeated Barbour's assertion that party building is "about addition and multiplication. It's not about subtraction and division," suggesting the party has to be home for both social and fiscal conservatives. "We have to be about embracing both of those concepts," he said. This got applause, the first time Rants was interrupted by applause. "We need a nominee who can bridge both gaps." While not an outright attack on his biggest opponent, VanderPlaats, it was certainly aimed at him.

The other two candidates, sensing that the GOP's weakness is their opportunity to run in the big show, are legislator Rod Roberts of Carroll, another Western Iowa town which is defined by its Catholicism in a sea of Calvinistic Protestant Dutch Reformed, and State Senator Jerry Behn of Boone, near where I live in central Iowa. Roberts believes that a 'wind of change' will lead the GOP back into state governmental power while only pledging that the state can be more efficient and streamlined. (Paging Grover Norquist . . ) Roberts then hit homosexual right, stating that "We could do better" in responding to the Iowa Supreme Court verdict that granted marriage equality, compared to the Democrats in power. I think everyone responded better to the verdict than the Democrats - it was obvious that they were caught flat-footed & spineless. It's just that Roberts and the GOP probably would have tried fortifying all 99 county recorder offices from the fabulous hordes sure to descend from Minneapolis & San Francisco.

Behn hit most of the same buttons - specifically stating that he voted for Iowa's version of DOMA, and that a state constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage should be placed on the ballot, and that the Supreme Court justices whom endorsed the ruling be targeted for retention votes. (Iowa is one of the handful of states that where appointed justices must win periodic retention votes from the electorate. Very few have ever been thrown out of office.)

If this is representative of the national party, Republicans are in deep trouble. There's nothing new here, because while they have a few party members recognizing that the voting coalition has divided and moderates have left, no one seems to be able to articulate a reason for them to return while speaking to the faithful. It's the faithful, whom have been pushing the moderates out, whom need to show they welcome more than just moderate's votes back to the tent.

Reading between the lines, it becomes obvious what the GOP thinks will be it's winning strategy: gay marriage reactionaries in another culture war ballot. Of course that ballot may be lost, but these voters will also vote GOP, and if they can peel off enough moderates voting fiscally GOP while socially liberal or moderate, they can win the magic number of 51.

It's almost as if 2006 and 2008 never happened to these people.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

An Open Letter to Rep. Cynthia Davis, (R-MO. 19)

Representative Cynthia Davis
Missouri House of Representatives
201 W. Capitol Ave., Room 112,
Jefferson City, MO 65101


Dear Rep. Davis,

Recently, you remarked on your lack of support for funding summer-school lunches for underprivileged youth in your district. Your statement was not only ill-informed, but callous and barbaric. Shame on you. This is not why I'm writing, however. I'm writing to point out that your statements--in their vacuous entirety--received national coverage tonight on Olbermann.

As a red-state resident, veteran, and proud patriot, I see no problem with letting my taxes fund meals for students in summer school. See, it's called civic duty. It's what taxes are for. So I have to wonder: why don't you? And how would you justify that lack of human empathy to the 1 in 5 minors in your district who would rely on those lunches, many of whom aren't even of legal age to work?

For all you know, maybe those kids need that meal to stay focused and turn their grades around. Maybe with a decent meal and adequate funding for their schools, they might actually become functioning citizens and escape the drab, oppressive, stultifying ignorance of their small-town lives. Maybe they might go on to do some real good in the world, maybe even bring back money to your state. Or maybe they'll turn out like you: sneering, half-educated, miserly modern-day Scrooges. Tired and poor, indeed. Who needs them, right? Certainly not an elected official.

Anyway, to conclude, I look forward to your answers, and by all means, enjoy the publicity. I hope you know that the entire nation, and not just your constituency, now sees you for what you are: trite, out-of-touch, and irrelevant. You, and your entitled selfish ignorance, are what is wrong with America. Thank you for making our night, Rep. Davis.

Regards,

Milo Freeman

P.S. Your "Contact Us" page needs a choice or two other than just "Great Job."

Click here to send Rep. Davis a message!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Neda

I've been watching it all unfold for the last several days.

At first, there was a glimmer of fascination, a sense of promise. A people rallying, a people banding together peacefully against injustice--I found myself drawn in, hopeful. I caught myself combing the news channels, nervously hoping for some new update. Even thought there were reports of danger, of violence, my belief did not dim. The silent resolve of those people in the streets, flare-ups aside, re-kindled a bit of faith in my fellow human beings. If perhaps I didn't pray, then perhaps I at least nurtured some secular equivalent thereof.

I have felt, stealing glimpses of the headlines from my work computer, a sense that something has been happening, that some aspect of the world I inhabited has been changing before my eyes. For the first time, I have witnessed true evidence that nonviolence can work, that despite the dangers, a people, in the face of cruelty, can still fight a war by means other than taking up arms.

It is not my war, and I understand that. I have no true stake in this hoped-for victory. I have also understood that such an effort could not be without costs. All the same though, I have combed the tickers, and followed the updates. And for the first time I have felt as though I, myself, was not ready to look those costs in the face.

Her name was Neda Agha Soltan. She was 26, and she was killed by a sniper while marching in protest with her father. In a culture where women are supposedly escorted by a male relative when outside of the home, she should have been safe. By the most literal interpretations of her faith, she was a Good Muslim woman. But that couldn't protect her from the most militant supporters of her own theocratic government.

She was shot, through the chest, in broad daylight, by a pro-government partisan firing from an apartment window. She was singled out, just a target in a crowd, and then shot center-mass, one-shot-one-kill, like an animal. Her final moments were recorded on the fly for all the world to witness, bleeding out in her father's arms while we uploaded it to YouTube. She has died every two minutes, over and over again, since the videos became public.

I wonder, why her? That's not the kind of shot one makes purely by accident. What drew the shooter's eye to her? Were there not plenty of others? When that gunman sighted in, what was it about her that made him decide she was the one? Why not her father, or some other protester? Was she just the clearest shot? Had she left herself exposed somehow? Or was she simply singled out for being there, for protesting a government's divine authority, as a woman?

Something's changed now. But I'm still not sure just what.

I hear that the video is available on YouTube, and like some Zapruder moment, some Fall of Saigon, some Tank Man snapshot, I understand that something in the world has changed. In these horrifying images, I sense a counterpoint, a harmony to what I first felt on the morning 9/11. Our world is changed by this, and I feel compelled to stand and bear witness. But I'm not sure that I can, or should.

I feel like I should see it for myself, that unless I do I can't truly understand. But I'm not sure I can permit myself to do so. It feels wrong, voyeuristic, peering into the last few moments of this woman's life. I wonder how she died, how she faced it, and if she knew. I wonder: was she afraid? Did she cry out? Was she able to take comfort from the proximity of her father, or were her final moments ones of panic and terror? Will all of it have been worth this? Did she at least die for something?

I'm not sure that I can ever truly know. And I'm not sure that I want to.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And Somewhere, Scott Roeder Laughs

George Tiller's Clinic Closing Permanently

(Via Huffpo)

The real terrorists--the ones Upton Sinclair talked about--have won. Don't you see this? That loathsome man, that cretin, that simpleton pawn of a morally bankrupt faith engaged in an act of violence, and his aims--to cow, to terrorize, to deny the rights of others--have been achieved. But still we stand by. We say nothing. We do nothing.

This is a group of people who use the mentally ill to do what they never could. Because they're weak. They're cowards. And we've let them dominate us. Again.

Shame on us.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Repost - It's ClintonBall All Over Again.

I fucking told you so. So what forms of domestic terrorism are going to crop up next with bloody pusbags like Randall Terry gassing to enraptured cameras and microphones about how the victim got what he deserved.
. . it seems that the 30%'ers are re-arming the militia and gettin' good 'n' crazy again.

It's all anecdotal of course until a researcher with small-bucks backing does the work to prove that Americans have reverted back to 1992 with paranoid nutjobs in the bushes worrying over Janet Reno's black helicopters. God knows we won't have investigative journalists doing the work on a newspaper payroll, unless they're freelancing out of desperation. Meanwhile, those bellicose right-wingers keeping working the shtick 'for ratings' while inciting some of the worst fears of America.

When is it going to become obvious to the rest of the country that the right-wing Wurlitzer is the disease?

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Whacking The Messenger


In my mailbox this morning - unbidden - was a nasty little mass email from The New Republic, highlighting the magazine's latest issue and its front-page attempted assassination of Arianna Huffington. In theory, it's supposed to be a review of Huffington's new book, Right is Wrong . . but that came out in in June 2008 . . .
Less well known is that one passion has remained consistent across her various ideological incarnations: an utter contempt for the press. Isaac’s explanation of the Huffington worldview is devastating.
I could take or leave Huffington - I think most of the left that has memory prior to 2000 can remember Arianna's position as the Not Ann Coulter voice of the conservative GOP. Her venture of the Huffington Post after GW's election however rivals DailyKos and the other blogs as the wellspring of the progressive NetRoots. She has been very adept and tenacious in making herself a media star of politics - not the least of which are her appearances with Bill Maher.

The New Republic's article essentially is a nuke tossed at Arianna specifically but in general at the the liberal blogosphere, tarring it (and us) with every poor habit and descriptor smeared at Huffington the proprietor.

TNR has long been in trouble with lefties and some of the more less-than-mainstream progressives whom have found their own means to publishing on the Internet in the last 8 years. The magazine has been suffering the same slide in publication numbers that all of journalism has. And they're attempting a bloody public hit on one of the capos Internati to send us a message - they're not going to go into the long dark without a War.

So much for the civil war in the GOP.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorandum for Record: 05-29-2008

To: The Office of the President of the United States

From: Freeman, Milo D., OIF Sept. '06 - Dec. '07

RE: Detainee Abuse Photos

MESSAGE FOLLOWS

Mr. President,

My name is "Milo Freeman." I am a proud supporter of your election, and an Iraq War veteran. I served in support of OIF from September of 2006 to December of 2007. I am proud to call myself a veteran. I am not, however, proud of the ways which my country has chose to view or exploit my service in the past.

While proud of my former occupation, it became clear to me very quickly that our presence in Iraq was in fact a harm to the people of that country. I believe that our presence there caused a great deal of suffering to the people of Iraq, and only served to damage our standing in the world. When I first heard that you were running for President, I eagerly supported your campaign. The night of your election was one of the proudest of my life, because, as a man of 26 years, yours was the first presidency in whose making I had truly had a hand.

I have applauded many of your sweeping accomplishments since taking office. I applaud your decisive actions on the economy, and have applauded your efforts to undo the damage of the last eight years. But there is one policy of which I must vehemently disapprove: the decision not to make public ALL of the photographs depicting detainee abuse by US forces.

I know that my comrades serve bravely every day in the service of our country. I know that their service is noble, because once it was mine. But I also believe that we are frail, that we are human, and that without the proper guidance we can fail to live up to the values that our Constitution espouses. I believe that being American does not render us incapable of sin. And in these photos, sir, I believe that we have committed many grave sins, indeed.

I understand your office's desire not to engage in partisan witch-hunting. I understand that our nation faces many challenges, and simply finding scapegoats for the recent past will solve nothing. But I also believe that we, as Americans, must LOOK our sins in the face. We must know that we have done wrong, so that we can TRULY begin to heal the wounds we have inflicted. Without this catharsis, sir, there can be no justice; there can be no healing.

I understand that the photos you have chosen not to release contain images which may incite backlash against the forces responsible. I understand that they contain images which may be upsetting to the American public. My response: good. After an era which was so marked by double standards of justice, my conscience cannot abide the sufferings depicted in these images. I cannot proudly call myself an American, a veteran, while knowing that my service contributed to this shame. It is not merely wrong, sir, it is vile. It is abomination. We allowed ourselves to forget our most basic values, and in so doing we are ALL the less for our silence. Even you, Mr. President.

When American forces stormed into Germany in 1945, they discovered horrors beyond belief. They saw how German soldiers had allowed themselves to be co-opted, how German citizens had willingly blinded themselves to the truth. And when they looked upon those crematories, those stacks of corpses piled like cordwood, they did the only thing they felt was right: They rounded up the surviving soldiers, and forced them to bury the dead. They rounded up the villagers, and forced them to confront the hideousness of their own sins. For not all sins are acts of comission, as you well know. In hiding the truth from the public, we are committing sins of OMISSION.

If yours is the Administration that I believed it to be, then you can maintain no silence in this. The truth, however ugly, must be made known. If the rumors are true--that the photos you have suppressed not only depict torture and humiliation, but even murder and rape--then we are bound, as Americans, to acknowledge our crimes. Without truth, there can be no healing.

I implore you, Mr. President. Serve Justice. Serve Truth. Release these photos.

//

Freeman, Milo D. (SPC), US Army, 2004-2008

MESSAGE ENDS


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Sunday, May 17, 2009

You Can Do Better Obama

I thought Obama was making a major error or was trying to appease republi-cons when he... "announced his intent to nominate" Ignacia S. Moreno to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice.

However, after this current report of apparent republi-con obstruction... GOP plans 450 climate bill changes, it confirms Obama is making a huge mistake. He needs to appoint a battler on the environment in the Dept. of Justice, not one who fights for corporate environmental rights. If Obama goes through with this appointment, it would appear to me that Obama is in bed with corporations and could really care less about serious issues involving a Progressive stance on the environment.

His latest turns towards the center, military tribunals, stopping the release of torture photos don't have me as near upset as this chance view on the environment.

Let me clarify... I'm off his mailing list for now. Don't get me wrong, Obama is still 100 times better than bu$h/cheney, but it does appear he is channeling his inner Bill Clinton.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Leading me down the path of sin

via BoingBoing, a totally NSFW money management commercial:



European TV watchers have all the fun. Thank god for the Internet.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In case you live under a rock

Update: Miss California brings out the trash . . NSFW, so I'm not going to post the photos.

Michelle Bachman opened her mouth again and showed that she's got a closet pre-vert in her skull.
"During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy. It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed. [...] The government spent its wad by April 26."
And yes, it is shamefully, dishonestly taken out of context. But Bachmann should know better than to use any verbiage the rest of us freaks will instantly fixate on. This is Low and Left after all.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Madder than Hell

So, let me get this straight. Those of us who get Social Security will not receive a Cost of Living Increase for the next two years? When pigs fly!

The reason is because of the low inflation. Yeah, you read it right, low inflation. Not only that, but no COLA means that some seniors will see their Medicare Part B premiums skyrocket.

A freeze in Social Security benefits would have major implications for Medicare because the COLA, in effect, puts a cap on premiums for Part B of Medicare, which covers doctors' services.

If there is no COLA for Social Security, about three-fourths of beneficiaries will not see any change in their basic Part B premiums, according to federal officials. But some beneficiaries do not have this protection and could face substantial increases in their Part B premiums. In addition, millions of beneficiaries could see higher premiums for drug coverage, provided under Part D of Medicare.

Congress could step in. I would suggest that is exactly what Congress should do. They've done it before in the 1980's when inflation dropped below 3%. And since seniors are the one block of constituents who vote in huge numbers, Congress is not likely to forget that as they seek to shore up the income of social security recipients.

So, we can bail out criminals, but stick it to seniors. I'll be busy this week sending emails and making phone calls.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sorry Arlen, You Can't Have It Both Ways

Ok, Arlen we get it... Specter Won't Back Public Health Care Or Employee Free Choice Act. Claims he won't be a loyal Democrat. Then I say no support! Obama do not campaign for him... no funding from the DNC... what good will he do if we throw money his way without him voting for issues important to Democrats. It's imperative that we come up with a solid Progressive challenger in the Democratic Primary. Force him to play ball... we do not need another "Blue Dog 'Dino' Dem!"

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

YIPPEE!

Arlen Specter announced that he will become a Democrat and will be the key to a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.

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Iowa Has been Brainwashed!

Or so sayeth the right wing conservatives.
It was all a plot, [Mickleson] said, masterminded by clever, propaganda-spewing, out-of-state brain-washers on a bunch of gullible rubes ready to be fleeced.

And we fell for it.

"The gay lobby looked at us as a backwater state they could take over," Mickelson said, "and they did."
You'd never know that until the 2000's, Iowa was one of the best educated states in the US. But apparently, since we slipped to simply just the top ten, that means we're completely fucked up and stupid.

Or maybe it's because we actually have some thinking Republicans still left in the state:
. . [B]ut my mother - the Republican who voted for John McCain and every other Republican presidential candidate going back to the log cabin days - thinks the Iowa Supreme Court did the right thing.

Conservatives, she says, believe government should stay out of your personal business. And why is marriage anyone else's business?
Like the columnist, Marc Hansen, my parents are solid independent Iowa Republicans. We, as their children, may disagree with them on their votes and opinions, but they seldom cater to attitudes that would embarrass us because of their stupidity or bigotry.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Today is the day

Here's to the happy couples!


DM Register Coverage

Deeth in Iowa City

I'm waiting for the flooding conditions in Iowa and through the lower MidWest and Texas to be blamed on today's historic moment. Or the Swineflu outbreak. Pat Robertson's 700 Club is broadcast at about 10am Central.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

And The Hits Keep On Comin'

The Million Militia Man March (h/t to Deeth)


A peaceful demonstration of at least a million — hey, if we can get 10 million, even better — but at least one million armed militia men marching on Washington. A peaceful demonstration. No shooting, no one gets hurt. Just a demonstration. The only difference from any typical demonstration is we will all be armed.
Sorry fellas, fiction already lapped your stupid.
Midwestern militia groups revolt against their local governments in protest of rampant U.S. adventurism overseas and, in the absence of the National Guard, are able to gain far more ground than they thought possible. Small insurgent groups pop up in towns and cities across the country, and a sizable force, the Free States Army, pushes toward Manhattan. The city proves too big for them to take, and also for the U.S. Army to defend. The war stalls there, a stalemate, neither side being able to shift things.[5]

Update: It's that type of day. The Onion on Facebook, "NEWSWIRE: 138 Dead After Loud Sneeze At NRA Meeting" A backfire in D.C. could kill tens of thousands.

Read more!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Embryonic Stem Cell's Help Cure Macular Degeneration

My Alzheimer stricken Dad suffers from "...age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness... The disease involves the loss of eye cells."

Of course the cure will be controversial: "Under the new treatment, embryonic stem cells are transformed into replicas of the missing cells. They are then placed on an artificial membrane which is inserted in the back of the retina."

When the time comes and if I am stricken with the same disease, sign me up. Being blind adds to the confusion my father already suffers from Alzheimers.

Read more!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Never In Doubt

It's unfortunate that Veterans, especially Disabled Veterans, will be stigmatized but really, this was never in doubt.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a report titled: Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.

The report was prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division and coordinated with the FBI
There have been a number of reports similar to this in the past.

But, this report really focuses on the current economic crisis and how it, along with political strife, can aid the recruitment efforts of extremist organizations.

I'll let you read it and decide how much rings true.

However, the most disturbing part of the report is the mention of veterans and how they are portrayed. Read below:

(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

— (U) After Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, some returning military veterans—including Timothy McVeigh—joined or associated with rightwing extremist groups.

— (U) A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that “large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.”

— (U//LES) The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.
Of particular note is the mention of veterans as "disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war."

This thinly-veiled reference to PTSD does nothing paint to veterans in a good light... in the minds of many. It just reinforces the "wacko warrior" image veterans have fought so long to dispel. -- Larry Scott at VA Watchdog dot Org

Update: Huffington Post claims that Michelle Malkin and redstate are coming unglued over this Homeland Security report. I hope this gets pushed out in the open. Perhaps we can have a national discussion on it. Possibly stop the vitriol from the likes of FAUX News, Glenn Beck and Ru$h Limbaugh, however, I doubt it will stop people from hating and the sick ones from killing.

Think Progress has more.

From Crooks and Liars:
Malkin's headline wails:

"The Obama DHS Hit Job on Conservatives Is Real"

So, I have a question for Malkin: Are you saying that mainstream conservatives are now right-wing extremists?

Because, you know, the report -- which in fact is perfectly accurate in every jot and tittle -- couldn't be more clear. It carefully delineates that the subject of its report is "rightwing extremists," "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups," "terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks," "white supremacists," and similar very real threats described in similar language.

Nothing about conservatives. The word never appears in the report.

Read more!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Apocalypse Will Not Be Reported

Did you know that the world is currently under a fairly severe malware attack?

Okay, really, every day since like 2003 the world has been under a severe malware attack. The money from these attacks has gotten so profitable that it's less common for some kid with too much time on his hands to be simply building bot armies or other weapons of mass Internet destruction for simple mischief.

Currently, several college campuses in the U.S., including my own, are fighting a at least one worm malware infestation called Tidserv.g by Symantec (Norton) or DNSChanger by F-Secure of Germany. The intentional goal of the infestation is remarkably familiar - to drive your Internet searches or page browsing to unintended sites, which then infect you with more crap and earn them advertising hits and fees. The twist is that if you pick this thing up, it not only may do this to your computer, but also to other machines within your local network stack or home network.

While not nice, this isn't the worst problem. The malware is annoying on your home machines, but on a larger network configured differently, it can severely disrupt all Internet access. The programmer simply makes assumptions which are incorrect about the structure of many non-standard internal networks. And then everyone in the residence hall loses the Internet.

My university has denied network access to over 900 student-owned and faculty computers is demanding that they be impounded by the IT department until fixed. Problem is that the campus anti-virus provider isn't returning inquiries from us, nor has it published detection files or cleanup procedures. We literally are holding these computers without bail or access with no immediate end in sight. And finals are 3 weeks away.

That ain't the worst of it.

This idea isn't new, the exploit was first extensively reported and explained in December 2008.

It's been ranted about for years that legit software engineers are losing the war against malware authors. The afore-linked search brings up phrases extending clear back to 2000. As a large-scale infestation or outbreak occurs, more of these online complaints surface - the items here roughly correspond to past attacks of MSBlaster, or the I Love You Office macro.

But in combination with the current world economic situation, it remains to be seen if the quick and substantial profits malware pushers can make will still be obtainable in the long-term. The anti-virus publishers are certainly feeling the effects of the recession - how much are they cutting back on research and solution? And all companies are cutting back staff and infrastructure upkeep and investment. Never mind what people themselves are doing to lower their own expenses.

So the malware threats are becoming sophisticated, the anti-virus companies have historically had issues keeping up with the threats, a world-wide recession is threatening the bottom line for everyone except maybe the gray-black world of Internet profit. Sounds like a perfect storm to me.

Read more!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Incompetent Seniors

I wish I had a reference about where I found this, but this is probably the most fascinating thing I've read in months.

The Dark Side of Dubai

Because what ever you think of when you hear Dubai, it's worse than that.

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We're awake, we're awake!

It's a sign of how asleep (or distracted) the GOP and the conservatives are when it's 3 days after the State Supreme Court ruling, and they're just now playing their 'straight up & down vote' bullshit for a constitutional amendment nullifying the ruling.

Again - it's interesting in how the House is getting the drama as it's the body with the weaker majority in both numbers and leadership this session. Calling in the Senate leadership for a joint rules conference just highlights how weak that chamber is.

And as I write this, the story has been completely re-edited and re-published, omitting a number of interesting things. Here's the original text from prior to noon CDT:And here is the rest of it.
People were yelling "Let us vote" from the Iowa House galleries just after 10 a.m., after a Republican attempt to call up the constitutional amendment against gay marriage was ruled out of order.

Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen had asked at 9:26 a.m. for a call of the House and sought to bring to the House floor the resolution to propose a constitutional amendment.
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The call of the House required all representatives at the Capitol to report to their desk and they are not to leave the House chambers. Such moves are often made when controversial votes come before the legislature to help prevent lawmakers from leaving.

After a huddle involving leaders from the House and Senate, House Speaker Pat Murphy ruled Paulsen's motion out of order shortly after 10 a.m.. Shouts erupted from the galleries, which were packed with spectators, as lawmakers filed into closed-door meetings.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal spoke to the House leaders in the well about the attempt to suspend the joint rules to bring up the proposed marriage amendment resolution.

“One chamber can’t do that,” Gronstal said. “I was there to defend the joint rules.”

The only way to suspend the joint rules is for someone to introduce a resolution in rules and administration committee. If it starts in the House, then there’s a vote in House committee and in the full House. If it passes, it goes to Senate committee then a vote of the full House.

About 10 a.m. Murphy ruled out of order the effort to bring up House Joint Resolution 6, the marriage amendment. He also ruled out of order the call of the House. Loud shouts of protest erupted from the gallery as lawmakers moved into closed-door caucus meetings.

“We’re not going to let mob rule rule this state,” Murphy said as people exited the chambers, noting his frustration with the chanting.

Murphy is a long-time supporter of civil rights and believes same-sex couples should have the legal right to marry.

“If you take a look at history, the court’s job has always been to protect the minority. Whether it was women’s right to vote, whether it was an African American doesn’t have to be a slave. An African American has the right to marry a white person. That’s what this is about.”

Chuck Hurley, of the Iowa Family Policy Project, said his group would continue to work to ban gay marriage.

“I’m ashamed of my state’s leaders. I’m ashamed of the people not having the chance to vote,” Hurley said.

Hurley noted that his group is not telling people how to vote.

“The essence of what we do is love and love,” Hurley said. According to history and sacred writings, love always perseveres. It doesn’t give up. If you really love God and your neighbors, you don’t give up. That’s the message.”

Earlier today, roughly 400 opponents of same-sex marriage took part in a prayer at the Capitol.

They're asking lawmakers in the House to allow a bill that would launch a constitutional amendment to move forward.

Security was stepped up considerably at the Statehouse this morning. Troopers are standing guard outside the chamber doors, in the balconies and around the Iowa Capitol.

The prayer was led by members of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a conservative group that opposes same-sex marriage. They said they would work to vote elected officials who support gay marriage out of office.

“You can let them know today that this issue is different. This is not about taxes or spending and regulations. This is about morality and the word of God,” said Family Policy Center Board Chair Danny Carroll, a former Republican representative from Grinnell.

One Iowa, the state’s largest gay-rights advocacy group is also making an appearance. Members of the group were handing out stickers and gathering in support of gay marriage.

Even if the bill were to pass this year, it would also have to pass the Legislature in 2011 and couldn’t be on the ballot until 2012.

Murphy and Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, have publicly stated support for last week’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex couples to marry.

About 80 people, predominantly dressed in red shirts, gathered in the rotunda outside the House chambers. Doorkeepers said safety officials declared the House too full to let another person inside.

The Rev. Keith Ratliff arrived decked fully in red - a fire-engine red suit coat and red slacks.

Troopers watched the crowd carefully, but all remained peaceful as of 10 a.m.

Ratliff has led many protests against same-sex marriage. He contrasted the issue with those of civil rights related to race and ethnicity.

“I think this is a choice issue. As an African American, I was born this way. Based, at least the information that has been gathered this far, homosexuality is a choice. So I see that as two different situations.”

Brad Clark of One Iowa urged lawmakers to stay focused on issues of common concern to all Iowa families.

“The Supreme Court, the governor, the attorney general and legislative leadership have clearly articulated that all Iowans should be protected under the Iowa Constitution,” Clark said.

Meanwhile, the chambers of the Iowa Senate were calm and empty of anyone but
clerks and lawmakers.

“They have nothing available to them in the Senate,” Gronstal said. “No Republican introduced a marriage amendment in the Senate so there’s nothing for them to take up on our side."

Protesters said they were disappointed at the amendment didn’t take a step forward.

“We didn’t really think it would, but we were hopeful that it would,” said Dave Pierce of Grinnell. “I see it more of a spiritual matter than a political matter.”

Pierce said he e-mailed about a dozen representatives last night who he heard were “on the fence” about bringing up the amendment. And he telephoned his representative, Eric Palmer D-Oskaloosa.

His nephew, Ethan Pierce, 9, managed to get a seat in the House balcony to watch events unfold. Ethan lives in rural Grinnell, and his representative, Betty DeBoef, R-What Cheer, was firmly on the family’s side, they said.

Read more!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

TEOTWAWKI

People prepared for TEOTWAWKI... an acronym for "the end of the world as we know it."
"I refer to myself as a modern survivalist, which means I don’t do without," Spirko explained. "I have a nice TV; I have nice furniture. We are not living in the sticks, but I take all of these things very seriously."

Spirko, an Army veteran and self-described "stark-raving-mad Libertarian," is part of a growing movement of people who are preparing for a disaster natural, economic or man-made. Referred to as "modern survivalists" or "preppers," they are taking steps to protect and provide for their families should something bad happen.

Theirs is a different breed of survivalist, far from the right-wing militants or religious extremists who hole up in bunkers, live off the land and wait for the apocalypse.

Preppers are regular people with regular jobs who decided after 9/11, after Hurricane Katrina or when their 401(k)s tanked that they can’t rely on someone else to help them if something goes awry.
Justified in these tough economic times? Scared of the Socialist Black President? Watching too much FAUX News and Glenn Beck? Smart or fringe lunatics?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

ClintonBall All Over Again

Along with the Clinton Media Rules back in effect, it seems that the 30%'ers are re-arming the militia and gettin' good 'n' crazy again.

It's all anecdotal of course until a researcher with small-bucks backing does the work to prove that Americans have reverted back to 1992 with paranoid nutjobs in the bushes worrying over Janet Reno's black helicopters. God knows we won't have investigative journalists doing the work on a newspaper payroll, unless they're freelancing out of desperation. Meanwhile, those bellicose right-wingers keeping working the shtick 'for ratings' while inciting some of the worst fears of America.

When is it going to become obvious to the rest of the country that the right-wing Wurlitzer is the disease?

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Bluff This, Senator

Radio Iowa & The Register have noted that the Iowa State Constitution provides for a Convention every 10 years if the voters so choose. That next vote comes in November 2010, with the next state election.

Why is this important? Because Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal basically told the Minority point-blank that a bill or state constitutional amendment will not be debated this year.

Henderson @ Radio Iowa:
It means gay marriage opponents may seek to use that avenue to amend the state's constitution, perhaps opening up a Pandora's Box of other issues as well. Will those who've been clamoring to give cities and counties authority over where large-scale hog lots are built unite with gay marriage opponents to push for a constitutional convention? Will groups -- like the coalition of road builders -- oppose a constitutional convention, fearing they might lose the constitutional protection for the "Road Use Tax Fund" into which all state gas tax dollars are placed and used exclusively for road construction and maintenance?
Over at MyDD, desmoinesdem has done some leg work; Iowans haven't voted for the convention since at least 1970, and the means and methods of how it would happen are vaguely defined now and are completely up to the Legeslature. DMD also notes that Democrats currently have a 56-44 thin majority in the Iowa House and a 32-18 majority in the Iowa Senate. Which explains the next graf.

The House, while also Democratically controlled, has the jitters over the judicial ruling. The Republican minority is rapidly drawing up an amendment and has already targeted the Democrats likely to break with the caucus, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. In the Register story, they place his anxiety and worries over re-election as the face of the 'divided Democrats'. (Like the U.S. Congress, the Speaker leads the House - the house Majority Leader is subordinate.)

Because of Iowa's tendency to re-elect incumbents Dems have a strong chance of keeping the Senate & a good chance at the Governor's chair in 2010 but the House is obviously where the Republicans have the strongest chance of picking up seats, if not control. If the election goes badly for the Democrats, organizing the convention could be a zoo especially if other single-issue groups wade into the fray.

The 2011 Session will also be the Lege that considers re-districting. While a non-partisn commission does the grunt work, the Lege has to approve or reject the plan in a straight vote without amendment. Iowa is expected to lose one U.S. House seat. The most likely outcome has the 3rd and 4th Districts merging in Central Iowa, pitting ancient Blue Dog Leonard Boswell against Republican Tom Latham. Boswell is likely to quit one of these days (he should have in 2006 after almost losing his life to diverticulitis, or in 2008 when he had a strong challenger in Ed Fallon) - 2012 seems likely, and Latham just turned 60. Expect a divided 2011 Lege more likely to approve splitting the Congressional delegation 2-2, instead of fighting for a better 3rd District that elects a better Democrat.

Its hard looking at that judicial ruling as anything but a GOP opportunity right now - it's no wonder a bunch of Republican-appointed justices gave it a unanimous approval.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

The Thick White Cumstain of Iowa

I've highlighted the RedState/Freeper nature of the comments at the Des Moines Register before.

In the wake of the recent marriage equality court ruling, the cesspool has been lit alight by the scores of thermite-laden heads exploding.

Even the article that proposes that Iowa could become the marriage vacation of Midwest is a festering third-degree burn.

Hell is a forum filled with other people.

Read more!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Equality NOW


Yesterday should have been a big blogging day for me - I'm off Fridays and the State Supremes made same-sex marriage legal in Iowa yesterday. And the state nutjobs were remarkably quiet. It was obviously a joyful day for those of us who have supported equality for a long time.

Like Deeth though, the real impact of it didn't hit until much later in the day. I had to do the Cannonball Run again to pick my son for his weekend, and we stopped by my folks for dinner. My parents - poster children for Eisenhower Republicanism - were just giddy over the verdict. I've been on the other side of the fence with them on so many governmental fiscal issues of late, it was weird to sit at dinner and hear then so happy for the people they knew who had been unhappy for decades, friends who finally have legal equality in their relationships.

Gosh, between endorsing a black man for president and legalizing marriage equality, what's next Iowa? Socialism?

Update: Attaturk points out that most ER's will pay attention to their pocketbooks, when couples from all over the Midwest start flocking to Iowa. Californians are also welcome.

Kay Henderson, the News Director for Radio Iowa, has the statement from the 4 Catholic bishops of Iowa:
"This decision rejects the wisdom of thousands of years of human history. It implements a novel understanding of marriage, which will grievously harm families and children.

This unwarranted social engineering attacks the good that marriage offers to society, especially the good of children, and weakens the critical relationship between marriage and parenting."

Man, that's some serious cognitive dissonance those altar boy pimps are smoking.


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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Take a Long Walk on a Short Pier

The fucking nerve! On the House's $3.6 trillion budget blueprint...
Republicans have warned that the prospects for bipartisanship will all but vanish if majority Democrats attempt to muzzle them.
Am I missing something here? Could the republi-cons first demonstrate some bipartisanship! I'm sorry, 3 lousy votes on the stimulus package doesn't cut it.

UPDATE: h/t Think Progress
President Obama’s budget passed the House and Senate yesterday, by votes of 233-196 and 55-43, respectively. No Republicans voted for the budget in either chamber. Twenty House Democrats voted against the budget.

Please, continue being republi-con obstructionists... the American people are making you the most ignored political party in our history.

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Finding Equilibrium Without Your Frontman

My musical obsession, Barenaked Ladies, went their separate ways recently with their lead vocalist Steven Page after he was busted for cocaine possession and supposedly admitted in court for consuming same. Usually a band that sees a line up change sits out for a few months, works up a new record of material in a studio to find a new musical ethos, polishes up the best of their product, hides the initial rough performances, and then reappears a year or so later in a publicity blitz working their fresh new view.

BNL instead accepted an invitation from Universal to play a full concert set as part of Mardi Gras in Orlando less than a month after Page's departure. It was probably an offer they decided that they couldn't refuse. Particularly since they're working a difficult path right now.

Late last year, BNL released a fun kids album, and their theme song for The Big Bang Theory has put them in the public eye as the series continues to gain eyeballs. They also went indy 3 years ago after their last contract with Reprise expired. Everything was looking good, and the Steve fucked it all up. BNL doing the concert was probably as certain as gravity.

There's a really good reason most bands don't try to quickly to haul themselves out after a radical lineup change - especially after the loss of their lead voices. It doesn't work.

In an effort to excite their fan base BNL made the audio recording available free for download to the fan mail list for a limited time. While the hardcore - myself included - will download & listen, we're not going to be happy with the product.

The free recording is marred with technical oversights and musical miscues that really make the Ladies sound like a bunch of bar-circuit guys reaching too far, too fast, and with too little practice. And I'm speaking as someone who been the crappy engineer for a group of talented guys whom aren't playing till their fingers bled. (Aside: the engineer should have been not just fired, but sacked, preferably by some very large men in leather with temperamental behavior disorders.)

The largest void is obvious in songs where Page sung lead, which is thankfully only half of their catalog, instead of the entire. Page's voice and power are so distinctive that trying to sing his material would be a challenge most performers, and the remaining Ladies just simply can't carry it for more than a tribute for someone whom they obviously miss a great deal.

All 3 other vocalists in the band make whole-hearted tries: Keyboardist Kevin Hearn, whom probably has the breathiest male voice I've ever heard, has the range, but nowhere near the power; Kevin's natural whimsy isn't an aesthetically acceptable choice. Front man Ed Roberts leads for the rest of the BNL catalog, but Ed's voice is about telling the joke and slyly whipping you around, so he doesn't have the raw vocal pipes. Bassist Jim Creegan has a pleasant voice, but he's always felt his place is in the background and rarely as lead.

The band stumbles, gets up and does better, and then does it all again for about 90 minutes, over and over again. Worse yet, if the band isn't stumbling through Page's vocals, the sound operator constantly keeps varying the reverb and gain of their microphones to the distraction of the listener.

I love this band, but guys, you need to take it back to the studio. Please. Find a new lead to replace Page, if even temporary while you work out how to move on.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Mysteries of Logical Reasoning"

(1) Anyone who favors marijuana legalization just wants to get high without being hassled, and anyone who favors drug decriminalization generally is or wants to be a drug user.

(2) Anyone who opposes a return to alcohol prohibition is almost certainly an out-of-control drunk.

(3) Anyone who cares about gay marriage or advocates for equal rights for gay couples is a closet homosexual who just wants to have sex with people of the same gender. The only reason anyone would care about that issue is if one wants to have gay sex.

(4) Anyone who believes in free speech rights for Communists obviously opposes private property ownership and craves Stalinism. Anyone who believes in free assembly rights for neo-Nazis secretly admires Hitler.

(5) Anyone who believes abortion should be legal just wants to have reckless sex without consequences.

(6) Anyone who advocates habeas corpus rights for accused terrorists or who opposes torture harbors sympathy for Islamic extremism and approves of indiscriminate violence against civilians.

(7) Anyone who opposes unrestrained government surveillance must be doing bad things in private that they want to hide.

(8) Anyone who believes in the freedom to practice a certain religion is probably an adherent of that religion and is motivated by a desire to practice it without interference.

Why is most everyone capable of understanding the egregious, illogical stupidity of propositions (2)-(8) -- based on the bleedingly obvious premise that one can advocate the freedom to do X for reasons other than a desire to do X -- while so many people embrace the equally illogical and stupid reasoning of proposition (1) as though it so self-evidently true that it requires no discussion? -- Glenn Greenwald

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The End : Battlestar Galactica

The audience after the 4th replay of Cash4Gold

Last night's BSG was splendid - other than the huge number of commercials that SciFi crammed into the latter half of the show. How many? The show ran over 11 minutes, is how many. On the excesses of capitalism scale, 1 being $3 bottles of water at the basketball game and 10 being the metaphysical corporate ownership of Rollerball, it was only a 2. But it made me want to Torrent the cleaned copy by 30 minutes in.

One commercial I didn't mind was the trailer for April's premier of Caprica. My wife wasn't impressed with the concept of the show, but considering that I've watched BSG for the drama, a companion show more rooted in fiction rather than the science fantasy looks pretty tasty.

Discussion in the comments for those interested, and spoilers will be discussed. Galactica Sitrep has great links.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Interlude




And check out February 18th recording of the Flobots on etown - the last jam of "So Happy Together" is pretty interesting.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Local Filth

Short Q & A today:

If you want your own local version of Red State or Free Republic, where can you find it?

For me, it's the comments posted at the Des Moines Register. The large majority of those posters are outright deranged. They'll even kneecap the 'conservative' columnist when he says something not amenable to the Limbaugh-Savage brigade. They'd go cannibal if it meant they could pay no taxes.

Read more!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ombudsmen


I haven't pimped PvP before in this space, but this seems to be the best time to do it. Player Vs. Player used to be a geek-game culture thing, but as time has passed, the writer, Scott Kurtz, has broadened into other subjects, frequently causing a shitstorm when he does it. Last week's "Ombudsmen" is hysterically biting satire on the state of the newspaper comics industry, mixed in with Watchmen themes that Alan Moore himself created to criticize the comics medium with. It's The Daily Show for geeks.

My first initial comparison was to Blue Harvest (in case you're not familiar with it). The sense of humour is similar, but Kurtz is much more serious about his targets - Family Guy's writers looked on "Blue Harvest" as a project of love and Scott Kurtz simply has nothing but derision for the cartoon characters he appropriates.

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Designated Daughters

Description:  Any females who find themselves now in a position in life to parent a parent(s). Typically, if you find yourself carrying two purses, and/or a walker, going to the offices of doctors who aren't yours, picking out clothes for your parent to wear, placing medicine in daily dose containers, reminding them to take their meds, balancing 3 bank accounts and only have one yourself, paying utility bills for another address not yours, laughing and crying at the same time, then YOU are a Designated Daughter!   (There are also Designated Sons.  If you find yourself carrying a purse and it isn't yours, you are a Designated Son).

OCCC: Officer in Charge of Closet and Clothes. 
OCPB: Officer in Charge of Paying Bills:
Office: Your car.
Outlet for frustration: Primal Screams are good!
Prayer: That we are lucky enough to have one or two DD OR DS.

It's true. We become the parent, and the parent becomes the child.

'Monday's with Mom,' as it has become known far and wide, are interesting, frustrating, loving, and down right funny.  For instance: Our Mom can't pickup a kleenex, but she can put up an ironing board, no matter how many times I take it down. Why? Because Mom has decided that the bed/ironing board are now made for clothing storage.

When we were children, if our clothes were not hang up, and as much as a sock was on the floor of our bedrooms, hell broke loose. Now, our dear Mother refuses to pick-up, much less hang-up, her clothes. After a lecture this morning, and instructions to go into the bedroom and hang up her clothes, she went right out the door telling me she would do it later, as it was 'Happy Hour' time.

Now, we as children are telling our Mother to pickup her clothes and hang them up. The only difference is we were grounded if we didn't hang up our clothes and clean our rooms, and Mother isn't. Hmmm, maybe no bingo for a week would do the trick.

Then there are the phone calls of distress. Mom calls, we rush there. We immediately go to the ER, because of course she is on the verge of something terrible. We get to the ER, and she begins the comedy routine. I know more than once the people in ER have questioned just how serious the visit really was. Of course, you can never not take them to the ER, because sure as heck the one time you don't, will be a mistake. Like Mom needing brain surgery at 3:00 in the morning.

This morning my Sister wrote these words. "I am thinking this morning about my feelings when my Mom can't remember. My first response is to get aggravated. Why can't you simply remember to take your pills first thing in the morning? Why can't you remember to put the plastic trash bag in the trash can? Why can't you simply remember that I've already told you (6 times) about whatever? In my heart I know the problem. She can't help it and I don't want her to be old enough to face dementia. I want her to be whole, I want her to be my Mom, the one who was on top of things and self sufficient. I don't want her to have so little time left to be in my life." How true.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Times - they are a changin'

Via Oyster at First-Draft: Should Michelle Cover Up?
Let’s face it: The only bracing symbol of American strength right now is the image of Michelle Obama’s sculpted biceps. Her husband urges bold action, but it is Michelle who looks as though she could easily wind up and punch out Rush Limbaugh, Bernie Madoff and all the corporate creeps who ripped off America.

In the taxi, when I asked David Brooks about her amazing arms, he indicated it was time for her to cover up. “She’s made her point,” he said. “Now she should put away Thunder and Lightning.”

I’d seen the plaint echoed elsewhere. “Someone should tell Michelle to mix up her wardrobe and cover up from time to time,” Sandra McElwaine wrote last week on The Daily Beast.

Washington is a place where people have always been suspect of style and overt sexuality. Too much preening signals that you’re not up late studying cap-and-trade agreements.
While MoDo has been a recurring hemorrhoid of repressed sexism, I think this was one of her best smacks at the Washington establishment (and Brooks will never share a goddamn word with her again . . I'm sure she's crying about it. Really). This is the first time I've ready her column focusing on a woman higher up the power structure than her and not ad infinitum nitpicking.

The nitpicking section on the diplomatic gifts, which I didn't quote, was all MoDo though, just in case we thought she was replaced by someone with talent. At the same time, you have to wonder who's the idiot in charge of same gifts.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blue Balls Are Essential For Homophobia



Watchmen is a mixed bag. What I think bothers me most is not the film, but the mildly to grossly homophobic reactions I hear from the boys going to see the film. It's no wonder we have such inane sexual euphemisms like vajayjay, because these twits can't process anything that is uncomfortable about biology. And, Coyote, despite the title of the post, there's very little ball - its' all unexciting penis, hon. It's not anything to get worked up over - but it does lead me to a small criticism of Dr. Manhattan's CGI body, Doc Manhattan looks like he could wrestle for the WWE when rendered in the movie. (except he's too well endowed to be on the 'roids.)

The book has always struck me as too dense for one movie, but I think this movie is probably the best we'll get. Most of the right notes were there, even though the speed at which they assault you is tremendous. Nothing is perfect, but the tone of the film is certainly in as much step with the original material as the Watchowski's version of V for Vendetta.

V was carried - rightfully - by Natalie Portman. Hugo Weaving is a good actor and voice actor, but acting behind a exaggerated plastic mask against Portman playing her full game? Marcel Marceau would even get his butt kicked.

Oddly enough, the opposite happened in Watchmen -- Jackie Earle Haley owns Rorschach, and consequently the rest of the film, even though he spends the large majority of it behind a mask that constantly shifts patterns. (A bit too much, IMO) Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as the Comedian, is an equally forceful presence. Billy Crudup's voice for Manhattan was good, but I didn't sense the withdrawal from humanity well, perhaps because I expect that withdrawal to be more deadpan in delivery. Patrick Wilson & Malin Akerman would have been serviceable, but the tittering and lack of emotional connection I heard from the audience reinforced my opinion of the film; even with a bunch of geeks with infantile sexual maturity, a better film could have kept them from outright laughing at a bare naked male ass or from laughing at all the wrong points when said ass was getting it on. What grounded the original story was the relationship between Laurie and Dan and their status as flawed human beings - Snyder's need to develop events over charcter really cast the film adrift and choked off any chance of these two actors making a serious connection with the audience and keeping the Beavis under control.

Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias was a mixed bag. Veidt a should be a pretty boy; Goode isn't quite good-looking enough, and he's certainly too thin to be Ozy and supposedly kicking everyone's ass. Goode had an awesome command of accent and dialect - except when he inexplicably didn't. And keeping in mind the director's openness to inflicting obnoxious race or other bias when found in the original work, Snyder really made Ozy an obnoxious characterization of an androgynous overly pretentious European, when Ozy is an androgynous overly pretentious American. :)

All in all - Watchmen is a mediocre film with occasionally great moments in a whirlwind of tepid plot based off of a great piece of fiction writing, which makes it a decent way to spend 150-some minutes of your time. If you haven't read the comic, don't - you may enjoy the film more.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Jon Stewart for Chair of the FTC



h/t Deacon Blues at TLC

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Mailgned Star-Mangled Banner


The first "pop" performance of [The Star Spangled Banner] heard by mainstream America was by Puerto Rican singer and guitarist Jose Feliciano. He shocked some people in the crowd at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and some Americans when he strummed a slow, bluesy rendition of the national anthem before game five of the 1968 World Series between Detroit and St. Louis. This rendition started contemporary "Star-Spangled Banner" controversies. The response from many in Vietnam-era America was generally negative, given that 1968 was a tumultuous year for the United States. Despite the controversy, Feliciano's performance opened the door for the countless interpretations of the "Star-Spangled Banner" heard today.

The YouTube video I linked is reflective of my point; it's a statement about how willing we are to accept, even honor, artistic reinterpretation now. It's a post-modern deconstruction age, baby. While the video author was conscious of the history behind the video and considered it another depth of his affection for the music, it wasn't more than an acknowledgment. It was a good track to match his photos.

But when you consider the written history of the time, it was almost a, "get a bodyguard, we're fatwa-ing your ass", uproar that was drowned out by other uproars. The bloody Democratic convention of 1968 was scarcely 5 weeks past. NOW and other Women's liberation causes staged a massive protest outside the Miss America pageant in New Jersey in September; we still talk about 'bra-burning' because of it. And scarcely 5 days later, Tommie Smith and John Carlos held the blck power salute during the Star-Spangled Banner at their Olympic Games medal ceremony.

Most of us forget about Feliciano and his uproar because Hendrix 10 months later really set the Closed-Minded Bunch's underwear on fire, with his electric guitar belting out literal sonic bombs and rockets.

There's a YouTube link of Feliciano talking about the anthem and the event, but it has him talking through most of the clip. I always considered Jose just the guy whom did "Feliz Navidad" - but his expression then and his thoughts now show him to be real musical artist. I've been schooled. Big.

But was the anthem mangled?? I take issue with the inclusion of the artistic renderings and their controversies alongside the horrific train wrecks of forgotten words and poor pitch. Does Marvin Gaye compare to Rosanne Barr? I don't think so.

For a country who's post-modern image has shaped much of the world, the reinterpretation of the national anthem should be welcomed, if not expected.

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