Saturday, July 30, 2005

It's my life and I'll do what I want...

Marc Perkel is an eccentric, and a really smart guy, He writes something that, as an amateur amicus curiae I find quite interesting:

Is a right to privacy in the United States Constitution? Yes it is - but not where you think it is. A lot of people are looking into the amendments to the Constitution for something that can be construed as privacy. Others say that it's just not there. But it is there and it's right in the original constitution.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7:

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

In listing the powers that the United States should have to serve the needs of the people Article 1, Section 18 lists 18 things. Post offices is one of them. It is in the Constitution that mail is important.

So - what does this have to do with privacy you might ask? To address that we first have to ask ourselves 2 questions. What is mail in the context of 18th century technology - and - why is it so important to make it into the constitution?

In 1776 there were no telephones, no television, no email. The only form of long distance communication that existed at the time was mail. And mail by definition was understood to be PRIVATE. In that era with the technology at the time the word "mail" meant long distance private communication. And long distance private communication was so important that the founding fathers put it into the Constitution.

The privacy aspect of mail is established in federal law.

Read the rest, it's persuasive.

In re: Rowe, I'm still not quite sure that Privacy is the peg to hang this on. I have actually read the Constitution, and I agree, the word privacy is not mentioned.

But neither is flag burning.

Or internet.

Or sub-machine gun.

Or abortion.

The 9th Amendment says this:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

FindLaw says this about the 9th Amendment:

The Ninth Amendment had been mentioned infrequently in decisions of the Supreme Court 4 until it became the subject of some exegesis by several of the Justices in Griswold v. Connecticut. 5 There a statute prohibiting use of contraceptives was voided as an infringement of the right of marital privacy. Justice Douglas, writing the opinion of the Court, asserted that the ''specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.'' 6 Thus, while privacy is nowhere mentioned, it is one of the values served and protected by the First Amendment, through its protection of associational rights, and by the Third, the Fourth, and the Fifth Amendments as well. The Justice recurred to the text of the Ninth Amendment, apparently to support the thought that these penumbral rights are protected by one Amendment or a complex of Amendments despite the absence of a specific reference. Justice Goldberg, concurring, devoted several pages to the Amendment.

In my naivete, I ask myself, can the Government prove that IT has the right to rule against my, or your, body? Rather than force me (were I a woman) to defend my right to privacy, I would ask Alberto Gonzales to defend his right to control me.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Casey Jones you better watch your speed

Everyone who stops in here run over to TBogg, and give him and his daughter Casey some love. She was injured playing soccer, and we all wish her a speedy and complete recovery.

She's obviously a tough kid, and hopefully that trait will help her out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

and words are all I have, to take your heart away

Some time ago, the Wingers started using the word “Democrat” as an adjective. I first heard it on Rush, but I don’t really care where it started. It’s become a pejorative term to the Wingers. I remember years ago a friend chided me for listening to that “Democrat radio station” (KPFK, Pacifica station, BTW.)

And now we are doing it too! I hear Randi Rhodes use it everyday, as well as others.

People, please use the words correctly. I know, it’s a minor issue, but like Lakoff says, it’s about framing. And it’s got to be our framing, not the Radical Right’s.

Here’s the definition of democrat, according to Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: dem·o·crat
Pronunciation: 'de-m&-"krat
Function: noun
1 a : an adherent of democracy b : one who practices social equality
2 capitalized : a member of the Democratic party of the U.S.

Here’s the definition of democratic:

Main Entry: dem·o·crat·ic
Pronunciation: "de-m&-'kra-tik
Function: adjective
1 : of, relating to, or favoring democracy
2 often capitalized : of or relating to one of the two major political parties in the U.S. evolving in the early 19th century from the anti-federalists and the Democratic-Republican party and associated in modern times with policies of broad social reform and internationalism
3 : relating to, appealing to, or available to the broad masses of the people

And please note entry #4:

4 : favoring social equality : not snobbish

We can’t help it if Republican is both a noun and an adjective. Too damn bad.

Main Entry: 1re·pub·li·can
Pronunciation: ri-'p&-bli-k&n
Function: noun
1 : one that favors or supports a republican form of government
2 capitalized a : a member of a political party advocating republicanism b : a member of the Democratic-Republican party or of the Republican party of the U.S.

Main Entry: 2republican
Function: adjective
1 a : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a republic b : favoring, supporting, or advocating a republic c : belonging or appropriate to one living in or supporting a republic

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I don't want to live in a world without melody

Sometimes I think I can write a little bit. Sometimes I even think I have something important to say.

Then I read what David Neiwert (Orcinus) writes, and I fall to my knees in shame. I am humbled.

He has this to say about the Minuteman movement:

One of the most disturbing trends we've observed this year has been the growing mainstream acceptance of the Minutemen, who represent a real incursion of right-wing extremism into the broader body politic. As we've noted, this includes endorsements of their activities both by public officials and the media.

The most recent advancement of this trend came from a top Border Patrol official (the same, it should be noted, who endorsed the Minutemen previously) saying his agency was considering giving official sanction to the Minutemen or similar groups:

The top U.S. border enforcement official said Wednesday that his agency is exploring ways to involve citizen volunteers in creating "something akin to a Border Patrol auxiliary" -- a significant shift after a high-profile civilian campaign this spring along the Arizona-Mexico border.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner told The Associated Press that his agency began looking into citizen involvement after noting how eager volunteers were to stop illegal immigration.

"We value having eyes and ears of citizens, and I think that would be one of the things we are looking at is how you better organize, let's say, a citizen effort," Bonner said.

He said that could involve training of volunteers organized "in a way that would be something akin to a Border Patrol auxiliary."

Bonner characterized the idea of an auxiliary as "an area we're looking at," and a spokeswoman said it hadn't been discussed yet with top Homeland Security officials.

A day later, his superiors at the Department of Homeland Security backed away from any such proposals [via Talk Left]:

"There are currently no plans by the Department of Homeland Security to use civilian volunteers to patrol the border," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in a statement. "That job should continue to be done by the highly trained, professional law enforcement officials of the Border Patrol and its partner agencies."

What a shameful co-opting of the name of the radical revolutionaries that helped found this country.

He also has this to say about his book tour, discussing his recent book:

My new book, Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community, just got its highest-profile review in a paper I've harshly criticized on many occasions in the past: the (ulp!) Washington Times.

Nonetheless, Tom Carter's piece is not just a strong review, but a good read in its own right. Carter, you see, grew up in Bellevue:

Growing up in the 1950s in a suburb of Atlanta "coloreds only" and "whites only" signs on water fountains and public toilets were fairly common. It never occurred to me that white people might have similar feelings toward "Orientals" until we moved to Bellevue, Wash., a suburb of Seattle in 1962. I remember my parents bewilderment at the openly hostile neighborhood reaction when a Japanese family tried to buy a house in our Mockingbird Hill development.

Riding our bicycles on Bellevue streets, walking to school, swimming in nearby Lake Sammamish, Bellevue was a white and middle-class. We knew nothing of the history, that Bellevue was a small farming suburb hewn from the wilderness, stumps removed, fields made workable and then planted by Japanese immigrants in the early 1900s. And after Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it was one of many West Coast cities depopulated of Japanese by government order, a forced evacuation that sent hundreds of Bellevue Japanese to internment camps -- ultimately clearing the way for white suburbia.

Be sure to read it all.

And, while I'm at it, it's worth noting that the reviews for the book at the Amazon link were invaded earlier this week by the execrable "Bob," a onetime regular commenter here who not only liked to argue (a la Michelle Malkin) that the internment of Japanese Americans was justifiable but necessary, but eventually, he developed a habit of posting personal smears about local Nikkei, which earned him a deletion and a ban. Then he went away.

Please read it all. This is blogging on a level most of us will clearly never attain. David's writing is clear, precise, and rational. It is researched and passionate. He makes points so skillfully that the prose rings like a Les Paul plugged into a small Marshall: strong, firm, yet not too loud. Forgive my sappy metaphor, but his work is really important.

David: Thank you. We are not worthy.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Four strong winds that blow lonely,

My wife pointed out that in some of the most notorious al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, 4 simultaneous attacks have taken place: 9/11, 7/7 London, and 7/21 London. The attacks in Egypt yesterday, at first reported to be 4 car bombs, now are reported as 3.

Is there significance to the number 4? Certainly it can be argued that several simultaneous attacks are a pretty strong statement, regardless of number.And we have a timeline here of most of the major attacks of recent years, and incidents from 1 to several attacks at once are reported.

But still, I was curious. So here we go a' Googling. And after several false starts, I found this:

Four qualities bestowed upon saints in Islam
Verse about “prophets, truthful, faithful and righteous”
refers to four qualities as the goal for believers
from the writings of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

. . .

We have translated below a lengthy explanation of this verse as given by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. It is absolutely clear from his explanation that the verse refers to the attainment of four kinds of qualities by saints in Islam.

. . .

First quality: receiving revelation
Firstly, matters of the unseen should, after supplication or by other means, be disclosed to him in such abundance, and many prophecies be fulfilled so clearly, that no other person could rival him in respect of abundance of quantity and clarity of condition. And as regards this abundance and clarity, it should be not only improbable, but impossible, that someone else could have a share of these qualities. That is to say, it should be entirely impossible that someone else could parallel or rival these qualities in terms of secrets of the unseen revealed, acceptance of his prayers and prior intimation of the same to him, and signs of support that appear in heaven and earth. And he should, by way of miracle and in an extraordinary manner, be granted such Divine knowledge of the unseen, luminous visions and heavenly support, as if a gigantic river were flowing and a glorious light descending from heaven and spreading on the earth; and these things should reach the stage where they appear to be miraculous and unequalled in their time. This excellence is called the excellence of prophethood.
Second quality: truth
The second excellence that is necessary as a sign for the leader of the saints and chief of the purified ones is the attainment of the higher understanding and knowledge of the Quran. It is necessary to remember that there is a lower, an average and a higher teaching of the Quran. The higher teaching abounds in so much light of knowledge, brightness of truth, true beauty, and virtue, that the lower or average ability cannot possibly reach it. Only the possessors of the purest nature, whose entirely luminous disposition draws light to itself, attain to these truths.

So the first stage of sidq (truthfulness) that they attain is aversion for worldly affairs and an instinctive dislike of what is vain. After this condition is firmly established, the second stage of sidq is reached which can be called zeal, enthusiasm and turning towards God. And after this state is thoroughly established, a third stage of sidq is attained which can be called the greatest transformation, an entire cutting off, personal love, and the rank of total self-effacement in Allah.

This having been deeply-rooted, the spirit of truth penetrates the human being, and all pure truths and matters of knowledge of a high order are revealed to him. There rises up in his heart, and pours forth from his lips, the most profound and deep knowledge of the Quran and points of the Shariah. And such secrets and subtleties of the religion are disclosed to him as are inaccessible to the intellects of the followers of customary and conventional knowledge. This is because he is inspired by God, and the holy spirit speaks within him. All inclinations to falsehood are cut out from within him because he learns from the spirit, speaks according to it, and by the spirit does he influence others.

In this state he is called siddiq (truthful) because the darkness of falsehood entirely leaves him, and is substituted by purity and the light of truth. The manifestation through him, at this stage, of truths and matters of knowledge of a high order is a sign of him. Having been fermented by the light of truth, his holy teaching astonishes the world. People are wonder-struck by his pious knowledge which stems from his self-effacement in Allah and knowledge of the truth. This quality is called the quality of siddiqiyya (lit. truthfulness).

It should be remembered that siddiq is one who both has a complete knowledge of the Divine truths and acts on them perfectly instinctively. For instance, he knows the true significance of matters such as Divine unity, obedience to God, love of God, the obtaining of complete riddance from worshipping others than God; the real meaning of devotion to God, sincerity, repentance; and the essence of moral virtues such as patience, trust in God, resignation to Him, effacement in Him, truthfulness, fidelity, forgiveness, modesty, honesty, trustworthiness, etc. And apart from having this knowledge, he is well-established on all these virtues.
Third quality: being a witness of faith
The third excellence granted to the great saints is the rank of shahadah. By this rank is meant that station where, by the strength of his faith, man acquires such a belief in God and in the Day of Judgment that it is as if he sees God with his own eyes. Then, with the blessing of this conviction, the effort and exertion of doing righteous deeds melts away, every Divinely-ordained fate appears sweet as honey to his heart, and each trial is seen by him as a reward.

Hence shaheed is one who, by the strength of his faith, beholds God, and enjoys like sweet honey the bitter fate ordained by Him. This is why he is called shaheed. This rank is a sign of the perfect believer.
Fourth quality: righteousness
There is also a fourth rank which is attained fully and completely by the perfect saints and the purified ones: the rank of salihin (lit. the righteous). A person is called salih when he becomes inwardly cleared and purified of all wickedness, and with the removal of all this putrid and filthy matter, the ecstasy of Divine worship and contemplation reaches the highest degree. For, just as the taste of the tongue is spoilt by physical illness, so is the sense of spiritual flavour vitiated by spiritual ailments; and a person thus afflicted feels no pleasure in Divine worship and contemplation, nor does he have any enthusiasm, zeal or urge for it. On the other hand, the perfect man is not only cleansed of all evil matter but this quality develops so much within him as to appear as a sign and miracle.

These are, in short, the four grades, to try to attain to which is the duty of every believer. The person who entirely lacks these, lacks faith. This is why in the Sura Fatiha the Glorious God has ordained for the Muslims this very prayer that they implore Him for all these virtues. This prayer is: “Guide us on the right path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favours”. This verse has been explained at the other place in the Holy Quran [4:69] where it is made clear that by those upon whom God has bestowed favours are meant the prophets, the siddiq, the shaheed, and the salih. The perfect man has all of these four qualities combined in him.”

— Tiryaq al-Qulub, in Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 15, pages 417–423.

So, I dunno. 4 has significance in many ways, to many things:

Baseball: 4 bases
Beatles: 4 guys
Cars: 4 wheels
Compass: 4 points
Vivaldi, Hotel, "Sherry, Baby": Four Seasons
Apocolypse: 4 Horsemen

And many more. So does this mean anything? Not likely. But still, 4 of something happening with any simultaneity is pretty interesting, and in these cases, pretty disastrous.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mama tried to raise me better

My Mom provides a valuable service, forwarding to me some of the idiocy that her Wing Nut friends pass around the internets. Here's the latest:

How Could 50 States Be So Wrong?

Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U.S. Constitution. How could fifty States be wrong?

THIS IS VERY INTERESTING! Be sure to read the last two paragraphs. America's founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledge God in their state constitutions:

Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution

Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land

Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom ..

Anyway, you get the idea.

This is really interesting. After all, wasn't the Constitution crafted so that the Fed could rule on certain issues, and that on most other stuff not specifically controlled by the Fed, the states could rule.

But here we seem to have an argument that, since the states all do it, the Fed should too. Hmmm, I'll have to re-read Jefferson & Madison to see where they come down on this.

The email ends thus:

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control federal courts are wrong!

"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." --William Penn

If you found this to be "Food for thought," send to as many that you think will be touched by it also.

God Bless America.

After some serious Google (whew! Hard work!)surfing, I found this email reproduced a few thousand times, usually at web sites for religious or evangelical organizations. No surprise there.

I also refreshed my memory of William Penn, who besides organizing Pennsylvania was an active Quaker minister. Not so surprising that he would make that statement. Interestingly enough, nowhere at any of the sites I looked about his writings did I find the above quote. Plenty of others about the servant obeying the master, and comments about the Prince ruling the people. Some sounded noble, some Machiavellian.

But nothing changes the Constitution. You, or I, can worship at The First Church of Ralph The Cabbage, or nowhere at all, and the State has no interest in the matter. People may be interested, but not the State, which has to remain uninvolved in this topic.

Sorry folks, pray whenever you want, at whatever occasion you want, don't make anything about it Law.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It's really quite simple...

I don't want to sound like a Freeper who, you know, shows knee-jerk reaction to something from the left. But in this case, knee-jerk reaction to BushCo is really, truly, the correct reaction.

In re: the nomination from GWBush of John Roberts, as REM sang, 'consider this:'


No Child Left Behind


Priscilla Owen




Janice Rogers Brown


William Pryor


Alberto Gonzales







Elliot freakin' Abrams

John Poindexter


Aw hell, what's the point. No matter what we expect, we are always disappointed. The ongoing problem of the left is that we expect decency, but from the right, especially this right, we get crap.

Get out your boxing gloves, make sure the cheerleaders keep waving the Indict Rove signs, and step into the ring. The fight is on.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Send lawyers, guns, and money

Sources of progressive legal information are valuable to the fight we wage against the Radical Right, and stupidity and mendacity in general. Jeralyn Merrit at TalkLeft does the best job out there. She'a a defense attorney and activist, and provides insightful legal commentary not found anywhere else.

just celebrated their 7,000,000th visitor. What an achievment! Most of us would be glad to have 700 visitors.

Go, read, leave a comment, and tell them how much you appreciate their work.

You'll feel much better for it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

All we are is dust in the wind...

In my Freshman Comp class, my term paper was titled "Irony, And Its Relationship With Satire And Sarcasm."

Here's a good definition of a difficult to define word:

n. pl. i·ro·nies

1. a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. b. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning. c. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.

I wish I'd had this example back then:

Subaru's new SUV: The Tribeca

As most of the lefty intellegencia knows, TriBeCa means "TRIangle BElow CAnal street, near Greenwich Village, NYC. Fitting name for an SUV.

(Guess what the song used in the commercial is.)

This actually doesn't compare with the idiocy found in Mazda's offering from '99, the Laputa.

This is also in the great tradition of GM who marketed the Chevy Nova in Latin America. Figure it out for yourselves, no links 'cause I'm tired.

Other marketing ideas:

Gibson's hot new heavy metal guitar, the "Bob Dylan Model"

Documentary about Abu Ghraib called "It's a Wonderful Life"

"No Child Left Behind" act (no Catholic jokes here, please)

Add your own, it's fun.

Ooooh, Dream Weaver, I believe you can get me through the night

Jane at FireDogLake has this summary of Rove Supporters vs Reality today:

Lots of friends who aren't hard-core blogaholics have been moved to check in by the happy karmic bonanza of the Karl Rove/Valerie Plame affair, but they claim (and rightly so) that bloggers are all talking to each other and assuming quite a bit of past knowledge.

. . .

If the only source you have for news is television of the non-Olbermann or Daily Show variety, you might think Joe Wilson is a real dick. Eriposte over at the Left Coaster has a very succinct, point-by-point refutation of the smear campaign being launched against him by the mighty right wing wind machine.

Most people who stop in here also read Jane, but just in case, she has a fine precis of the refutation of spin coming from the Right.

For a look at what 'they' are actually saying, don your HazMat suit and tip toe gently to see the WSJ Opinion Journal here. It's truly disturbed.

Next week in Opinion Journal, the following headlines:

"GWBush, Intellectual Giant"

"General Pinochet, Man of Humanity"

"Was Lester Maddox Right?"

"Bernie Ebbers: Misunderstood Philanthrope"

Make up your own, it's fun.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

We will, we will rock you

Heard just now on the White House press gaggle on CSPAN:

Unknown (to me) reporter interrupts Scottie to ask another question.

Scottie: We're here to have a constructive dialog, and that's not the way to do it.

Reporter: It's not my job to have a constructive dialog.

This is rich, on so many levels.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Leaping and hopping on a moon shadow

Skippy is in the last throes of his BDay celebration, and it's a mighty celebration indeed. He's still hoping to get his 1,000,000th hit, a goal I only dream about (yeah, yeah, yeah, uhhh OHHH OOOHHHGGGGOOOODDDDD!!!). Ahem, excuse me.

So anyway, hop on over and discover such treats as this one:

we "heart" keith when he's especially cranky and correct

(ok..well that's pretty much most of the time...) but, he's got a must read post up on his blog (bloggerman) this morning that, well, just tells it like it is. it should be the new meme for the dems. turn rove's words right back at him and his treasonous actions.

to paraphrase mr. rove, liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers; conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared to ruin the career of one of the country�s spies tracking terrorist efforts to gain weapons of mass destruction -- for political gain.

politics first, counter-terrorism second -- it�s as simple as that.

go read the entire post. (updated link)

Putting it in precise technical terms, Skippy rocks. They say he's a righteous dude. Give him some love.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

Had coffee today with the delightful Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake fame. We, of course, solved all the problems of the world, while conspiring to drive the Radical Right from our shores like the vermin they are. I dunno, maybe they should have their own country, called Oligarchia, where the factions can argue for either Small Gubmint (Grover Norquist's team, "The DC Huns") or Big Gubmint (William Kristol's guys, "The NeoGenghis Kahns").

Among the many things we talked about was Blogger itself, and how certain templates like the ONE I USE(!) look like crap in Safari, the browser used by most right thinking Mac creatures. So taking her advice, I switched templates, made a few other changes, and danged if it ain't spiffy.

Jane also brought up an interesting point, that it was Clinton (remember him? Centrist Dem, lots of growth and jobs, smaller deficit, healthier economy...yeah, that guy) who made the case to the country that an economically healthy USA was also a safer USA. Unlike now, with, you know, China owning our debt, and rampant unemployment, and a housing bubble, and Iraq costing billions, and...well, you get the idea.

We also discussed the hatred that certain of the right hold for Bill, and how illogical it is. (I know, redundant). After all, he was not nearly as far to the left on some issues as that old Commie Nixon, he who started the EPA. But what he wasn't was St. Ronnie, that old phony everyone wanted to trust. It's still one of the most infamous con jobs that has ever been perpetuated on the American people: the selling of Ronnie as Kindly Old Grandpa.

Just look back to what he did here in California as governor during the United Farm Worker's strikes. Their crime: They wanted to not pick grapes covered in malathion. Then he decimated the Air Traffic Controller's union. Their crime: they wanted to work less hours so that PLANES WOULD BE SAFER. Damn them!

So Bill comes along, and he isn't Kindly Old Ronnie. And his wife isn't Grandma Nancy, who had to marry Ronnie like any out of wedlock pregnant true Republican hypocrite, and who fed Ronnie his lines as his brain started to turn the same consistency as his denture cream, and who consulted astrologers, which surprisingly led to exactly no condemnation from Falwell, Robertson, et al.

But Bill wasn't Ronnie. And Hillary wasn't Nancy. And we'll have no national health care system, because that would make us somehow French. Instead we spend more per person for health care than any other industrialized nation. And we're stronger for that, I'm told by those on the right.

And we have school districts deciding that they can teach ID as a concept with equal weight to evolution. Because if the Department of Education has any real power, we'd all be speaking French. Schools in Redbutt, Arkansas, allowing teachings of The First Church of Ralph The Cabbage into the classroom makes us stronger.

Anyway, Jane and I solved all the world's problems. Now we just have to figure out how to let the rest of the world know.

And looks better. And that makes the world stronger. Thanks, Jane.

Update: I forgot to mention Kobe the Wonder Dog, so here is, as the kids say, a shout out. Yo, Kobe. Woof.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Is my world not falling down

Billmon on July 4th here:

I was driving back from a quick trip out of town the other day, and -- on an impulse -- grabbed lunch at a hot dog stand by the side of the highway. I've driven by the place plenty of times (I used to live nearby) but hot dogs aren't one of my staple foods, so I'd never stopped before. But curiosity finally got the better of me.

"Jimmy John's," the sign read. "Home of piping hot sandwiches and the world's best hot dogs." Under the sign was a low brick building with an addition hanging awkwardly on one side. The place looked like it had been around forever -- or at least since 1940, according to the sign.

I went in and bought a dog and a coke and sat down to eat. It was pretty good -- maybe not the world's best, but a lot better than what you get from Oscar Meyer. And piping hot, too.

As I sat there eating, I gradually realized I was surrounded by someone else's life -- Jimmy John's life, to be precise. The walls of the place were covered with photos, newspaper clippings, posters, old calendars and plaques from various civic groups, all documenting the life and times of a hot dog stand owner in a little corner of formerly rural, now suburban, Pennsylvania.

There was a picture of a Jimmy John in an apron and bow tie, standing in front of his original stand -- a tiny box with a counter and an awning and nothing much else -- on opening day. There were pictures of the somewhat larger enclosed lunch counter he built after he returned from the war. And pictures of the existing brick building, which went up in the '60s. There were pictures of what looked to be every single pimply teenager who'd ever worked behind his counter -- and half his customers, too. There was a framed double-page spread from the local newspaper, commemorating the 35th anniversary celebration in 1975. ("Fight inflation, eat at Jimmy John's.") And there were pictures of his retirement party, his 85th birthday party and, finally, a clip of his obituary, dated 2002.

Interspersed with Jimmy John's memorabilia were other local scenes: A crowd watching a horse race at the Montgomery County fair, 1948. Putting the final girders in place on the Commodore Barry bridge, 1963. A newspaper story, with photo, about a two-story outhouse in a nearby hamlet, 1982.

I was looking, in other words, at a thick slice of Americana, dating roughly from the New Deal to 9/11. And looking at the tables around me, I saw a fairly representative slice of middle America -- a little thick around the waist and with absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever, ignorant of the world outside their borders and of much of what lies within them, obsessed with shiny material objects, gullilble in the extreme. But also friendly (sometimes to a fault), loyal, unpretentious, usually honest and often kind. The common man -- the same one who's been coming to Jimmy Johns for the past 65 years.

While I was sitting there a regular came in -- a real old timer, bent almost perpendicular to the floor. One of the girls behind the counter came out and helped him to a table and brought him his dog, and then sat and chatted with him for a moment, making sure he was doing OK. And for a moment -- just a moment --it felt good to be an American, surrounded by Americans.

And I thought to myself: "Well, I guess this is still a pretty great country after all."

But I was also painfully aware that the reasons why I felt that way had a lot more to do with America's past than its present -- much less its future.

I'm not a big fan of patriotism, at least not as most Americans understand the word. Patriotism is just another word for nationalism, and nationalism in my book is the modern equivalent of the black plague -- an incubator of xenophobia at its least, a killer of millions at its absolute worst. And we've seen enough of the absolute worst over the past century to understand where nationalism could ultimately lead: the extinction of the entire human race.

Good post. Go read the rest.

Jimmy John's joint sounds like a wonderful place, just like Powell's Electric, my grandparent's TV/radio/appliance store in the small town where I spent my early years. It was truly a place where everybody knows your name.

As a corollary, I try and support Mom & Pop businesses of all kinds. I will pay a few bucks more to avoid the megachains, unless some purchasing requirement forces me to. And then I'll seriously question whether or not I need the product.

Sadly, we just had to close a store like that, here in LA. After losing around $150K over the last 3 years, we gave up. Too many patrons in Mercedes SUVs saying "That lamp is $150? Too much! I'll give you $80 cash. No tax!" And then, of course, Eyewitness News has its "Shoppers Alerts" where it tells TV viewers to never pay retail, and alerts them to stores that are going out of business so they can reap the rewards of other's sad fortune and get the bargain. You should have heard some of the callous and greedy folks just crowing during our going out of business sale. "Ooohh, what bargains! Aren't I lucky" No, actually, you're an asshole.

With Wal-Mart lowering its prices so much it puts its suppliers out of business, TV spreading the cheap cheap gospel, and people of means demanding better prices, it's too much for Mom & Pop retail. Stores are closing in the San Fernando Valley at record levels. Jobs, livelihoods, and homes are being lost.

Freedom is on the march.

Oh yeah, remember when I posted my rant about the music business? Same deal. Another recording studio gave up this month. More later.

Update: Blogger works better in OSX with Firefox, however, it still wouldn't let me choose fonts. Weird.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Digby has a barrow in the marketplace

Digby said something that has been rattling around in my head, and may be of great import. See what you think: (based on one of his commenters)

So the question is -- in the work-up process beginning about March 2003, who had the information re: Plame?

I think it was John Bolton. At the time he was State Department Deputy Secretary with the portfolio in WMD and Nuclear Proliferation. Assuming that Valerie Plame's identity was that of a NOC (No Official Cover) the information about her would have been highly classified, compartmentalized, and only those with a need to know would know. Bolton's Job probably gave him that status. However to receive it he would have to sign off on the classification -- that is he would have to agree to retain the security the CIA had established.

At the time, Bolton had two assistants who also worked in the White House in Cheney's office, David Wurmser and John Hannah. Their names have been around as the potential leakers -- Hannah if you remember is the guy who kept putting the Yellow Cake back in Bush's speeches even though Tenet had demanded it be removed.

So -- I think we have a game of catch going on here -- or maybe some version of baseball, and the scoring is Bolton to Wurmser and Hannah, to Cheney (and/or Libby) to Rove.

I suspect getting Rove on Perjury is more or less step one in walking back the path of the ball.

Lest there be any doubt about Bolton's true calling, remember, he was king of the Florida Recount.

As they are fond of saying on West Wing, you don't have Code Word Clearance. Karl may be a top dog, but did he actually have the juice to KNOW who Valerie Plame was?

Not according to most CIA folks. They say that agent's names are pretty well protected. So as we see the Rove thing unravel, will we see fingers pointed farther down the path?

We'll see.

Outside it's America

Another Independence Day, and I can't help thinking, independence from what?

Obviously we threw off the shackles of tyranny from England years ago. Now, it seems a bit like celebrating the Angels winning the World Series in '02: monumental at the time, but when you wake up tomorrow, it's clearly another day. So what do we have to celebrate about today?

We're free from...

Religious tyranny?

Government intrusion into our lives?

Upward re-distribution of wealth?

Corrupt politicians?

Corrupt clergy and religious organizations?

Corporate greed?

The military-industrial complex?

Education by religious zealots?

Discrimination by sexual orientation?

Discrimination by gender?

Discrimination by race/ethnicity?

Lost manufacturing jobs?

Military deaths in a foreign country?

Government lies?

No links provided If you can't figure it out, you're just not paying attention.