Friday, July 28, 2006

I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam

First Las Vegas, now Orlando:
Another American city has made it a crime to feed the homeless in certain areas.

Last week, Las Vegas outlawed feeding homeless people at city parks. Now, Orlando is following suit.

Orlando is trying to keep charitable groups from feeding the homeless in downtown parks.

Nice. Compassionate Conservatism at work.

Since I imagine many of the outraged city fathers and mothers of both cities consider themselves Christian, here's a little reminder:
The gospels depict Jesus repeatedly reaching out to those at the bottom of the social pyramid--poor people, women, Samaritans, lepers, children, prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus was also eager to accept people who were well-placed, but he made clear that all, regardless of social position, needed to repent. For this reason, he invited the rich young lawyer to sell all of his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor.

. . .

In his portrayal of the day of judgment, Jesus pictured people from all nations gathered before him. To the "sheep" he says, "Come you blessed of my Father, for I was hungry and you fed me. . . ." In their astonishment they ask, "When did we do that?" And he answers, "When you did it to the lowliest of my brothers (and sisters)." Conversely, to the "goats" he says, "Out of my sight, you who are condemned, for I was hungry and you did not feed me. . . ." (Matthew 25:31-46, paraphrased)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Them heavy people hit me in a soft spot.

Filed under "You've got to be kidding, except I know you're not." From today's WaPo:

Christine Axsmith, a software contractor for the CIA, considered her blog a success within the select circle of people who could actually access it.

Only people with top-secret security clearances could read her musings, which were posted on Intelink, the intelligence community's classified intranet. Writing as Covert Communications, CC for short, she opined in her online journal on such national security conundrums as stagflation, the war of ideas in the Middle East and -- in her most popular post -- bad food in the CIA cafeteria.

. . .

On July 13, after she posted her views on torture and the Geneva Conventions, her blog was taken down and her security badge was revoked. On Monday, Axsmith was terminated by her employer, BAE Systems, which was helping the CIA test software.

In other words, The Messenger is dead. Long live the Message.

Lest there be any doubt, here's some background on the Geneva Conventions:

The Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties formulated in Geneva, Switzerland, that set the standards for international law for humanitarian concerns. The conventions were the results of efforts by Henri Dunant, who was motivated by the horrors of war he witnessed at the Battle of Solferino in 1859.

As per article 49, 50, 129 and 146 of the Geneva Conventions I, II, III and IV, respectively, all signatory states are required to enact sufficient national law to make grave violations of the Geneva Conventions a punishable criminal offence.

Who might these signatory states be? Funny you should ask.

It seems from doing some research at the website of the International Committee of the Red Cross, that the US0fA has not kept quite up to date. As the Wikipedia article states, there are 4 main Conventions, all from Aug. 12, 1949. Also, there are additional Protocols and Annexes from 1977 through 2005. The USA signed the original 4 Conventions.

But for reasons not clear, the USA signed onto Protocol 1, in December '77, while virtually all other countries signed 6.8.1977. Same for Protocol II. But Protocol III was signed along with most other nations on 12.8.2005.

Bottom line is, we have hitched our wagons to those stars. And yet this CIA contractor, who had previously blogged about such job-specific issues as cafeteria food, was fired for pointing out the obvious, that the USA had agreed to follow specific guidelines during times of combat.

The day of the last post, Axsmith said, after reading a newspaper report that the CIA would join the rest of the U.S. government in according Geneva Conventions rights to prisoners, she posted her views on the subject.

It started, she said, something like this: "Waterboarding is Torture and Torture is Wrong."

And it continued, she added, with something like this: "CC had the sad occasion to read interrogation transcripts in an assignment that should not be made public. And, let's just say, European lives were not saved." (That was a jab at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Europe late last year when she defended U.S. policy on secret detentions and interrogations.) A self-described "opinionated loudmouth with a knack for writing a catchy headline," Axsmith also wrote how it was important to "empower grunts and paper pushers" because, she explained in the interview, "I'm a big believer in educating people at the bottom, and that's how you strengthen an infrastructure."

Is anyone sane running this operation?

Update: from AP News:

The group Human Rights Watch said in a report released Sunday that U.S. military commanders encouraged abusive interrogations of detainees in Iraq, even after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal called attention to the issue in 2004.

Between 2003 and 2005, prisoners were routinely physically mistreated, deprived of sleep and exposed to extreme temperatures as part of the interrogation process, the report said.

"Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk," wrote John Sifton, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

And who has the right, as master of the house, To have the final word at home?

From Paul Craig Roberts at
. . . neocons hold high positions in the Bush regime. Ten years ago these architects of American foreign and military policy spelled out how they would use deception to achieve "important Israeli strategic objectives" in the Middle East. First, they would focus "on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." This would open the door for Israel to provoke attacks from Hezbollah. The attacks would let Israel gain American sympathy and permit Israel to seize the strategic initiative by "engaging Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon."

Today, this neoconservative plan is unfolding before our eyes. Israel has used the capture of two of its soldiers in Lebanon as an excuse for an all-out air and naval bombardment against Lebanese civilian targets. However, a number of commentators have pointed out that such a massive attack requires weeks if not months of preparation that could not be done overnight in response to the capture of the soldiers.

(Note: Emphasis mine).

Is this on the level? I dunno. He goes on:
Meanwhile, the Israelis are committing identical war crimes in Gaza. Again Israel's excuse is the capture of an Israeli soldier. However, the distinguished Israeli professor Ran HaCohen said that the Israeli army "had been demanding a massive attack on Gaza long before the Israeli soldier was kidnapped."

By blocking UN Security Council action against Israel for its massacre of civilians in Gaza, the Bush regime has made itself complicit in these monstrous war crimes. Just as Germans who supported Hitler were deemed to be complicit in his war crimes, Americans who support Bush are complicit in Bush's war crimes.

Hezbollah is not the Lebanese government. It does not rule Lebanon. Hezbollah is the militia organization founded in 1982 in response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Hezbollah defeated the Israeli army and drove out the Israeli invaders six years ago.

Now before anyone gets their panties in a bunch and cries "Antisemitism", Let's look for a second at Dr. Roberts' bio:
Dr. Roberts is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

WSJ, huh? There's some Jew hatin' sumbitches.

And how about the Independent Institute?
The mission of The Independent Institute is to transcend the all-too-common politicization and superficiality of public policy research and debate, redefine the debate over public issues, and foster new and effective directions for government reform.

Whatever. Says nothing, while using fancy words. One of my favorite barometers of a web site or organization is their blogroll, or link page.

Here are some choice ones from the Independent Institute's:
Cato Institute
Heritage Foundation
Goldwater Institute
Accuracy in Media (Reed Irvine's special project for outing the Librul Media)

Etc., etc., etc. In other words, not exactly the screaming leftists often thought to be anti-Israel.

So is Roberts right? Again, I don't know. But it's interesting.

Update: Looking over the Independent Institute's link page a little further, I found some evidence of fairness and balance:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Eve of destruction

From a comment in my last post we have this fab, gear, dope, def, smashing piece of work from The Heretik. It needs no other commentary, just watch.

Monday, July 17, 2006

And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

From Al-Jazeera today, poll update:
Who do you think is mainly to blame for the current Middle East crisis?

Hezbollah :
Iran and Syria :
Israel :
Lebanon :
United States :
All of the above :
None of the above :

Number of pollers : 46350
At least six people have been killed in the latest air strikes by Israeli warplanes in Lebanon, raising the death toll there to more than 200.

The six, all civilians from one family, were killed during an air raid that hit a house early on Tuesday in a Lebanese border village, as diplomatic efforts brought no signs of an end to the week-old assault launched in retaliation against Hezbollah attacks.

"We are working with our bare hands and so far we have recovered six bodies. More are still under the rubble," Salim Mourad, head of Aytaroun's village municipality, told Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.

Israel's military action in Lebanon has so far killed 210 people, all but 14 of them civilians, and inflicted the heaviest destruction in the country for two decades, with attacks on ports, roads, bridges, factories and petrol stations.

God, this makes me sad. Israel has the power of sympathy for its founding, and by extension, the Holocaust, and yet squanders it in what may be a foolhardy attempt to resist the aggression of Hezbollah.

Everyone in the US Administration thought Iraq would be a cakewalk, that grateful Iraqis would be dancing in the street.

Israel certainly doesn't hope for Lebanese dancing in the street, but they may find the going in Lebanon, and Syria, and even Iran, to be as much of a quagmire as the US has in Iraq.

Then what happens-that's what scares the crap out of me. We'll have Iran and Israel, with the US waiting in the wings, all with nuclear capabilities. As of now, all 3 have shown some small restraint. But for how long? And at what cost?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

And the rocket's red glare

From Al-Jazeera:
Who do you think is mainly to blame for the current Middle East crisis?

Hezbollah :
Iran and Syria :
Israel :
Lebanon :
United States :
All of the above :
None of the above :

Whew. At least no one blames us. Until someone realizes that all the rockets, bombs, and bullets used by the IDF have "made in USA"stamped on them.

Update: Here are the latest numbers:
Who do you think is mainly to blame for the current Middle East crisis?

Hezbollah :
Iran and Syria :
Israel :
Lebanon :
United States :
All of the above :
None of the above :

Number of pollers : 19252

Walk don't run

Every young guitar player in the pre-Beatles '60 had a few idols. Some of us secretly listened to the monsters of country: Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Joe Maphis. And most of us were aware of Les Paul, as well as the current jazz heavyweights: Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, as well as the older generation jazzers like Oscar Moore, and especially Charlie Christian.

But until the Ventures (wikipedia) came along, guitar in pop and emerging rock was mostly a solo voice to augment vocals, the break played in the middle eight before the singer came in with the third verse. England had The Shadows, already stepping out from behind Cliff Richard, but in the US, The Ventures (homepage) were gods!

Walk Don't Run is an especially wonderful example of dynamics and tension in rock without loudness. This song swings, really hard, yet isn't played loudly. Most of the energy comes from the jazzy drumming, but also the intense rhythm played by Wilson. As much as I love, as a guitar player, to grab a big fat overdriven open E power chord, there is much to be learned from playing softly, with great intensity.

As I learned from my friend Sailor at Vidiotspeak, The Ventures haven't been inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of fame yet. From the Ventures' site:
The Ventures appeared before the Washington State Legislature in Olympia on Friday March 11 at 11 a.m. to receive a resolution from the state supporting their nomination for entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
To see the proclamation, letter to the Rock Hall of fame, and pictures, , please click here.

Sailor provides this link to an online petition:
The following are just some of their
many accomplishments in this area (please see the footnotes):

o Ranked #4 among all-time instrumental artists on Billboard's Single
Charts. [1]

o Ranked #6 among all 1960s artists on Billboard's Album Charts. [2]

o Ranked #26 among all-time artists on Billboard's Album Charts. [2]

o Ranked #20 in most albums on Billboard's Album Charts with 37. [2]

o Ranked #379 among all-time artists on Billboard Single's Charts. [1]

o "Walk, Don't Run" is one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Top 500
Hits of all time. [3]

There's more.

Skippy chimes in:
the ventures are still touring with the surviving original members and have sold 110+ million albums worldwide. they are the biggest selling instrumental rock & roll group of all time. they've influenced everyone from jimi hendrix to joe satriani to countless players who didn't have a clue as to who helped forge their style.

Oddly enough, I, too, played with The Ventures. For about an hour, in 1980. They had used a keyboard player named Biff Vincent for a few tours, and I did tech work for his studio, at the time located in Costa Mesa, CA.

While I was there one day, installing some new equipment, he was working on something with Mel Taylor and Don Wilson, drummer and rhythm guitarist from The Ventures. They were trying to record something for a demo using a Vocoder, and Don, being a rhythm player, couldn't quite get it.

Biff knew that I played quite a lot, and asked if I would mind, and of course I said yes. So I played guitar on a Ventures demo for about an hour, long ago, far away.

That, of course, means nothing in the big picture. What really matters is that these guys played rock instrumental guitar music, at a time when it was all brand new. and for that, they deserve inclusion into the R'n'R HOF.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Well I'll bet you a kangaroo

Just received my very own skippy the bush kangaroo blogtopia (y!sctw!) t-shirt today, and boy oh boy, no one will wear it any more proudly than moi.

So as a special thanks to skippy, I'm going to post a picture of him and the lovely mrs. skippy, so that his legions of fans, and minions, too, can bask in the exalted skippitude of His Hoppiness.

So scroll down for the picture, it's the only place you'll ever see both skippy & mrs. skippy together on the web:

Keep going. . .

Here they are: skippy and mrs. skippy!

Ain't they cute?

Seriously, skippy is really one of the good guys, and our Angel's baseball cap is tipped to him.

A Modest Proposal:: Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

My post from yesterday, titled "It could happen to you, it could happen to me/I don't want my insurance to pay for your stupidity," which I also posted at HuffPo, generated a lot of comments over there, many quite negative.

That's OK, I have a pretty thick skin, and can debate with zeal. But I think that quite a few folks missed the forest while looking at the trees. If I wasn't clear, I accept responsibility. After all, it's my words with which I try and persuade folks.

I almost titled the post "A Modest Proposal" but I thought the reference to Swift would be too obvious. And don't think for a second that I flatter myself by comparing myself to him. He was the Jimi Hendrix of satirists, while I'm just a guy with a guitar.

My point was actually manifold. Here's a story that might help explain:

My grandmother, who died a few years ago, experienced the Depression. It left her, as I'm sure it did many people, with a keen appreciation for going without. She and my grandfather retired comfortably, yet she waited every month for the Social Security check. No problem, she paid into the system. But she also took home cheese and other food products that were government handouts intended for poor people. And this bothered me, especially when she would complain often about "welfare cheats". Her sense of entitlement came from the depression, I guess, but it made me uncomfortable.

And it's that sense of entitlement I was going after. Football player Ben was a dope for going without his helmet, and assuming that other folks in his insurance risk pool would cover his butt. And yes, that's the way insurance works, spreading the risk cost.

But there is an implied contract, that one is going to do one's part, in order to be eligible for recovery. And it pisses me off that injuries like Roethlisberger's, clearly avoidable, make my, and your, insurance premiums go up.

Here's another example of this kind of hypocrisy. I used to have as a client one of Southern California's largest evangelical churches, who made no secret of their right-wing leanings. And in private, many of the folks I knew would talk about Jews, Catholics, other "unsaved" protestants, as all headed for hell. Yet publicly they would acknowledge the scripture that says the Jews are God's chosen people. Why? Because in case they're wrong, and the Jews are indeed going to Heaven, they wanted to hedge their bets. Sheer hypocrisy.

So that was my point about stem cells. If you don't believe in it, that's fine. You can't have any.

And I consider myself a proud liberal. I have certain expectations and beliefs in what a government should do. That includes providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare, among others. And I believe in wide and broad personal freedoms. If you're gonna climb a tree, be careful, don't fall out. If you do, and get hurt, clearly that's what insurance is for. Because stuff happens.

But rights incur responsibilities. The right to drive a car is tempered by the resonsibility to not drive drunk. If you do and get caught, you'll be spanked, deservedly so.

So that was my point. Act as responsible as you are able, and don't take advantage of stuff you don't support.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It could happen to you, it could happen to me

Remember Ben Roethlisberger, SuperBowl hero?
Roethlisberger was cited for not wearing a helmet when the accident happened.

"That day I wasn't, I forgot it. I literally forgot it," he said. "You know there are times that, people that have been making a big deal for the last couple years about me riding first of all, and then me riding without a helmet, but it's one of those things that I ride with a helmet also. I do a little bit of both. If you don't wear a seat belt every time you ride in the car should I label you as a person who doesn't wear a seat belt? And unfortunately I happened to not have it on that day because I forgot it in the basement."

Clearly the guy is an idiot. But this has broader implications. Should a free society dictate certain behaviors by its citizens? Right-wingers claims to be big on responsibility. So here's a chance to prove it:

If you: Don't make your kids wear seat belts,

Sign a release: No insurance paid medical treatment for them in case of major injury from an auto accident.

If you: Don't want to wear a motorcycle helmet,

Sign a release: You'll accept no insurance paid medical procedures for head trauma in case of an accident.

If you: Don't believe in stem cell research,

Sign a release: You and members of your family will accept no life saving therapies that result from stem cell research.

If you: Smoke,

Sign a release: You'll accept no medical intervention if you develop lung, throat, or mouth cancer.

If you: Home school your kid in Young Earth or ID pseudo-science,

Sign a release: You won't fuss if Harvard or UCLA won't accept those science classes.

In the first 2 cases above, you would be free to pay for treatment on your own, just don't ask the insurance pool to cover it. In the next 2, no treatment at all. That's what responsibility means.

There are more where those come from but you get the idea. Stand up for your convictions, put your money where your mouth is, conservatarians.

Act like the grown-ups you claim to be, and accept the results of your actions.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Put me in, coach, I'm ready to play

tbogg posts about the baseball All-Star game tonight:
. . . here is the batting order for 1965 National League All Star Team:
Willie Mays
Hank Aaron
Willie Stargell (who started in the outfield)
Dick Allen
Joe Torre
Ernie Banks
Pete Rose
Maury Wills
Juan Marichal

On the bench
Roberto Clemente
Ron Santo
Frank Robinson
Billy Williams

In the bullpen
Sandy Koufax
Don Drysdale
Bob Gibson

All I can say is that those are some mighty big cleats to step into.

However, there are some serious contenders for HOF players in tonight's game:

Alex Rodriguez
Derek Jeter
Vladimir Guerrero
Kenny Rogers
David Ortiz

Interesting, those are all AL players. Odd, considering that the AL is 10-0 for the last ten All-Star games. Hmm.

The lone NL player that might be HOF material, IMHO, is Albert Pujols.

And this:
In a poignant moment underlying the rich baseball history in Pittsburgh, the game was interrupted before the start of the fifth inning so that Commissioner Bud Selig could present Vera Clemente, widow of Pirates legend Roberto Clemente, with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award in honor of her late husband's achievements on and off the baseball diamond.

"Roberto will be remembered as long as the game of baseball is played," said Selig.

Right, Bud. Clemente stands for so much more than your tiny mind can ever realize.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You choose your leaders and place your trust

Our good friend Brad Friedman (BradBlog) is at it again, going HiDef and nationwide. He was mentioned tonight on Catherine Crier's CourtTV show about election irregularities in the CA-50:

Says Brad:
Wow…CourtTV's Catherine Crier on Crier Live just covered virtually everything we've ever discussed on this blog in one fell swoop! Had I known it was possible, I would have used 5 and a half minutes to tell all these stories instead of the past two years!

As well, she included several incredibly kind words about both The BRAD BLOG and yours truly (and a picture of me to boot, sorry about that!) generously urging folks to visit this site:
If you want to learn about the state of our election process, I urge you to visit Brad Friedman has worked doggedly on this issue, amassing tons of valuable news and information on this subject.

She covered loads of stories that we've been secretly reporting here where the rest of the MSM could never ever notice… From the recent Busby/Bilbray Diebold voting machine "sleepover" fiasco to the Hand Count Fee scam that's followed, to the video-taped testimony of vote-rigging whistleblower Clint Curtis naming Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) as the rigger, to Bush-appointed former EAC commissioner DeForest Soaries' exposure of the cruel federal hoax, to now-disgraced Monterey County, CA Registrar of Voters Tony "Trust Me" Anchundo who faces 43 criminal counts and much more!

I was contacted recently by the show and they informed me they have been BRAD BLOG readers for quite a while. Their report this evening demonstrates that quite clearly. They managed to show, very smartly and in a single report, how all of these items we've been reporting on — for what seems like forever — actually all tie together. (What, no Ann Coulter Voter Fraud to boot? Maybe next week…)

I'd pull out some quotes, but it won't do her report justice. See the full video (courtesy of David Edwards, natch) or text transcript which are both available below.

I've been asked to appear on the show next week, and we're trying to work out the dates to see if it's possible, since — theoretically — I'm supposed to be hitting the road for a long-planned and much-needed vacation for several weeks after appearing at this weekend's DemocracyFest! in San Diego. But hopefully we'll work something out…

Sometimes these nuts-and-bolts issues get lost in the bigger dynamic of politics. Iraq, Guantanamo, stem cell vetoes, Rove's latest victim, all these play large across the TV screen and the country. And people get excited about candidates, trying to send Joe Lieberman a message by rallying for Ned Lamont.

But it all comes down to this: does your vote count? If it doesn't, all the blogs (and the required blogger ethics panels), all the YearlyBlog meetups, all don't mean a damn thing. We can parade in the streets, donate to our favorites, call, whine, bitch, protest, canvas, and at the end of the day, if your vote doesn't count, then YOU don't count.

It's that simple, and that cruel.

Update: Broken link fixed.

Wish you were here...Shine on you crazy diamond

Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett dead at 60:
Syd Barrett, one of the original members of legendary rock group Pink Floyd, has died at the age of 60 from complications arising from diabetes.
The guitarist was the band's first creative force and an influential songwriter, penning their early hits.

He joined Pink Floyd in 1965 but left three years later after one album. He went on to live as a recluse, with his mental deterioration blamed on drugs.

I will never forget listening to them for the first time in '68. They were doing something no one else was at the time. Completely unique, that's really all I can say.

The band soldiered on, bringing in Gilmour when Barrett was on his way down and out, and Waters took the reins. But the course was already set by Barrett.

Listen to "Jugband Blues" from '68, and it's all here already.

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's real, yes it's real love

tbogg posts about the SuRiehl World View of Dan Riehl today:
Bribery, brawls and promiscuity? And Bill Clinton isn't even the central figure in this story?

The Rodham family name may be more difficult to keep out of the news if Hillary runs for President. Though, as Co-President at the time, it's unclear how much influence she may have had in this whole affair.

Whatever tawdry guilt-by-association idea he's trying to spread is pretty lame. I've got one word: Abramoff.
NOBODY expects the U. S. Attorney's Inquisition! Our chief criminal is Abramoff...Abramoff and Wilkes...Wilkes and Abramoff.... Our two suspects are Wilkes and Abramoff...and Mitchell Wade.... Our *three* weapons are Wilkes, Abramoff, and Mitchell Wade...and an almost fanatical devotion to the President.... Our *four* *Amongst* our tools.... Amongst our idiocy...are such elements as Wilkes, Abramoff.... I'll come in again.

But the real (that's actually how it's spelled, Dan, if your name really is Dan...) money quote from Riehl is here:
If you're male, the great thing about being conservative is the ability to enjoy being a sexist without screwing up your political ideology. That's why I feel so bad for Liberal guys ... unless they're Gay, they're always forced to lie!
Dumb as a bag of hammers, and proud of it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The teacher travels, asking to be shown the same.

I don't usually put up other people's work here, as the reason I started this experiment in bloggery was to write my own thoughts.

But this today from TeacherKen was just too good: (Note: scroll down, there seems to be a formatting problem at Ken's place)

I am unwilling to remain silent anymore.

Perhaps it is that I am now officially a senior citizen. It may be not having children and having a wife who makes more than me and hence is economically self-sufficient. Perhaps as a result I may feel more at liberty to act on principles and damn the consequences.

Maybe it is that I have reached a point where I want to set into the movie “Network” and be like the character Howard Beale played by Peter Finch, that I want to throw open the window and yell at the top of my lungs “I”m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” Maybe it is that I have finally reached a point at which the idea that things can’t yet be that bad no longer has any salience -- they are that bad, they are worse than “that bad.”

All that sounds fine. But there are no maybes. It is not a question of perhaps. I have a moral imperative, and as a result I am unwilling to remain silent anymore.

There is an expression that those of us in the Society of Friends will on occasion use, that we have the responsibility to speak truth to power. We also do not believe in oaths, and some will not even offer affirmations, because oaths and affirmations imply that absent these were are not bound to speak only truth. I will speak truth as I know it, and let those who have ears hear.

I will not remain silent while the Constitutional underpinnings of our liberal democracy are undermined.

I will not remain silent while the rights of others are denied.

I will not remain silent while some are labeled in fashions to demean their humanity or to justify treatment that is inhuman.

I will not remain silent when I encounter those who would divide people into “us” and “them”, whether that be political opponents domestically or those who are called the enemy.

I will not remain silent in the presence of those who seek partisan or personal advantage in manipulating elections, courts, laws and regulations.

I will not remain silent when racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, or demeaning language of any kind is use towards any other human being.

I will not remain silent when I encounter those who justify a particular course of action when they do it but condemn when done by someone whom they deem as their opponent.

I will not remain silent at rationalization of selfishness.

I will not remain silent at the destruction of the environment or any part thereof - it is the common heritage of all humanity.

I will not remain silent when destruction of lives and property in other countries is justified on the basis that it is our national self-interest or that it is better to fight them over there than over here.

And I will certainly not remain silent when people argue that it is better to keep quite now in order to win an election and/or achieve power at some future point - how can I explain that to those whose lives, families, homes, freedom are destroyed or lost in the interim?

I cannot assume that my choosing to speak - to no longer remain silent - will be affirmed. I must expect that other will criticize, condemn and reject the words I speak, the actions I take. I know that I will be accused of exercising a judgment which is not mine to apply, or that I do not Thee all the facts.

I will listen, I will attempt to understand what others have to say, what they express as their thoughts and motivations. I accept that we will not always agree. But that does not remove from me the moral responsibility to speak out when I encounter any wrong.

I will not always speak in the same way.

Sometimes public confrontation does not empower the person to easily change their mistaken ways, while a private encounter gives the space necessary.

Sometimes phrasing my concern in terms of a question my elicit a recognition by the person to whom the question is addressed of the need to change, or allow her to give me the information that allows me to recognize that I have misunderstood or misperceived.

Sometimes I will speak without words, by simply shaking my head, or refusing to nod, or not laughing at a “joke”, thereby allowing the other person an opportunity toy self-correct.

If I have doubt, I will inquire. I know I can be wrong.

But if I know, I cannot pretend that I do not know, that I do not understand. And if then I remain silent I become complicit. That I will no longer be.

I will speak out because I still can. I will write because perhaps some will read the words I offer. I will participate politically because that is part of speaking out.

I am 60. I have had a life far richer in material benefits and in the opportunity to learn than the vast majority of people who have ever lived. If I die tomorrow, the measure of my life will not be how much I have consumed or accumulated. In my mind, if I could then look back, the measure will be how willing I was to stand up for others.

This is not altruistic, because what can be denied to others can be denied to me.
And I do not hold myself out as thereby superior. This is quite selfish, because I am affected.

And it is not original in thought.

Let me offer the words of Hillel, from the Pirkei Avoth:
If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, then what am I?
And if not now, when

I am not willing to remain silent anymore.

Kenneth J. Bernstein

I couldn't have said it any better, so I'll just let Ken say it.

Update: Thanks to Wintermute at DailyDocket for the Howard Beale clip and pic link.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Horowitz: Love my Black Jack Davey

The hypocrisy of the far right pundits attacking the NYTimes for publishing info regarding Cheney's and Rumsfeld's vacation homes has really proven to be a big bag of wind. Foul smelling wind. Like the odiferous breath of Satan. Or maybe just right wing dog breeath. I dunno.

Glenn Greenwald has written a great deal about this, as have Scott Lemieux and Greg Sargent. But I have something they don't: an email exchange between li'l ol' me, and David Horowitz.

I posted about this previously, but here's the whole email exchange. It started with a comment at Horiwitz's blog:
The Western White House, aka Casa Pacifica, and Reagan`s Ranch, were both
well-known locations.

So I guess, by your logic, Cheney & Rumsfeld are more important than St.
Ronnie and Tricky Dick?

These houses are vacation "White Houses"; and we are in a war with terrorists which as the President said "changes everything." Thnk about it.

The thing is, we've known about Presidential retreats for years. The use of Camp David, used by Roosevelt starting in '42, was a direct result of Secret Service concerns about the visibility of his yacht that had previously been his getaway. But the location of Camp David was known to all. And we certainly were at war, with a real declaration from Congress at that time. Security was tight at and around Camp David, but still, the location was known. And we were concerned with potential terrorist attacks, since we interned Japanese-Americans.

Are you suggesting we somehow un-ring that bell, or perhaps the POTUS, VPOTUS, et al be spirited away to some undisclosed location for the duration of the GWOT? Hardly seems an American thing to do.

Also, as has been mentioned in some media, the Washington Post previously published an article, with Rumsfeld's permission, that gave locations of Rumsfeld's home and the soon to be purchased Cheney home.

And NewsMax, hardly "liberal Media" had also already published the same information. I have yet to hear anyone on the right demand the WaPo and NewsMax be branded as treasonous.

First, these are not presidential retreats. Second, this is the most divisive war America has fought since the Civil War, and it is a war with terrorists. Consequently, the potential for crank attacks on American leaders is much greater.

First, these are not presidential retreats. Second, this is the most divisive war America has fought since the Civil War, and it is a war with terrorists. Consequently, the potential for crank attacks on American leaders is much greater.

I don't dispute that point. The problem is that Rumsfeld gave permission for the photos to be taken. And both his and Cheney's vacation homes in St. Michaels had already been discussed by NewsMax, who published the information, so it was in the public sphere long before the NYTimes article.

So again, I ask, why single out the NYTimes as the villain, when others were complicit, including Rumsfeld when he agreed to have pictures taken.

It seems to me that the real agenda is not the safety of leaders and cabinet members, but the smearing of the NYTimes.

I think I have answered these points already in my blog. The NY Times is singled out because it is a paper with great authority and has been abetting the enemies of this country since the Vietnam War.

There it is folks. Let's recap:

No refutation or comdemnation of anyone else publishing this information, including the Right-Wing tabloid (I use the term loosly) NewsMax. Nope, no sirree. Just the final ideological admission:
The NY Times is singled out because it is a paper with great authority and has been abetting the enemies of this country since the Vietnam War.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Horowitz Update: Davy dancin' in the moonlight

Replying to the email I got from David Horowitz, I sent back the following email:
Thanks for the reply.

The thing is, we've known about Presidential retreats for years. The use of Camp David, used by Roosevelt starting in '42, was a direct result of Secret Service concerns about the visibility of his yacht that had previously been his getaway. But the location of Camp David was known to all. And we certainly were at war, with a real declaration from Congress at that time. Security was tight at and around Camp David, but still, the location was known. And we were concerned with potential terrorist attacks, since we interned apanese-Americans.

Are you suggesting we somehow un-ring that bell, or perhaps the POTUS, VPOTUS, et al be spirited away to some undisclosed location for the duration of the GWOT? Hardly seems an American thing to do.

Also, as has been mentioned in some media, the Washington Post previously published an article, with Rumsfeld's permission, that gave locations of Rumsfeld's home and the soon to be purchased Cheney home.

And NewsMax, hardly "liberal Media" had also already published the same information. I have yet to hear anyone on the right demand the WaPo and NewsMax be branded as treasonous.

Thanks for the opportunity to have this dialog.



And here's what I got back from Dave (I call him Dave):
First, these are not presidential retreats. Second, this is the most divisive war America has fought since the Civil War, and it is a war with terrorists. Consequently, the potential for crank attacks on American leaders is much greater.

Dave clearly misses my point. He says they are not presidential retreats. I suppose that makes somehow private. But the locations were previously made public with permission of the occupants. It's hard to make a case for date rape when the alleged victim takes his own clothes off.

His remark about the most divisive war is interesting. What exctly makes it so divisive? Could it be the public's current distaste, which doesn't agree with GWBush & Co's zeal for it? That's pretty divisive.

Or is it that the Administration has railed against Kerry, Murtha, Conyers, and any other critic of the war as being traitorous? That's pretty damn divisive.

And still, why no criticism of NewsMax? Why, Dave?

I'm sure the next chapter in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy against the NYTimes will be to complain when they publish that there are actually troops in Iraq. That's aiding the terrorists, too. No?


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Our house is a very very very fine house

Malkin says:
Why publish maps and specific street names and photographs of the private (not anymore) homes where the Vice President and Defense Secretary and their families spend their vacations?


Because blabbermouth Bill Keller feels like it, right? (Interesting timing, no?)

Because the "people" (you know: Code Pink, Fred Phelps, jihadis) have a "right to know," right?

Because neighbors are talking and because the Washington Post blabbed it already, right? And because al Qaeda already must have an inkling that Rumsfeld and Cheney live somewhere in the greater Washington, D.C. area, right? So what's the harm in handing them all the details, right?

Fred Phelps? Since when does he scare her? Why would the "God Hates Fags" preacher complain about Cheney and Rumsfeld, unless...hmmm? And to equate Code Pink with jihadis...been a long time since I saw a Code Pink mom with a suicide bomb. Idiot!

Horowitz says:

In an apparent retaliation for criticism of its disclosure of classified intelligence to America's enemies, the New York Times June 30th edition has printed huge color photos of the vacation residences of Vice President Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, identifying the small Maryland town where they live, showing the front driveway and in Rumsfeld's case actually pointing out the hidden security camera in case any hostile intruders should get careless:

Wikipedia says:

Rancho del Cielo, or "Ranch from the Sky," is a 688 acre (2.8 km²) ranch located in the hills northwest of Santa Barbara, California. It served as a getaway home for Ronald Reagan first while he was Governor of California and later when he became President of the United States.

Reagan bought the ranch for about $527,000 in 1974 when his second term as governor was coming to an end. The estate contains a restored pond called Lake Lucky, stables and a barn for horses, and a 1,500 ft² (139 m²) house decorated with 1970s-style furniture. The ranch is located in the Santa Ynez Mountains up one-laned Refugio Road off U.S. Route 101.

Reagan spent nearly 1/8th of his presidency at his ranch, which became known as the Western White House. One of the most significant events that took place there was the signing of the Economic Recovery Tax Act in 1981. The ranch played host at various times to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

After leaving the presidency in 1989, the Reagans moved to a home in Bel-Air, California, but kept the ranch as a retreat. In April 1998, the ranch was sold for nearly $5.9 million to the Young America's Foundation, a conservative group which operates it today as what it calls "a living monument to Reagan's legacy."

So St, Ronnie's ranch is, and has been common knowledge since he was President? But that's wasn't scary.

And don't forget The Western White House, Casa Pacifica, Nixon's lair in San Clemente.

Hypocrits? Idiots? You be the judge.

Update: I left a comment at Horowitz's place stating the basic thesis of this post. I wasn't sure why, as comments don't appear anywhere. Apparently only Dave gets to read them, because here's his personal email response to me:

These houses are vacation "White Houses"; and we are in a war with terrorists which as the President said "changes everything." Thnk about it.

Wow. Smackdown. I am humbled. Bullshit! That these were vacation White Houses changes exactly nothing, because clearly the President can, and often does, business from these locations. Including reading Presidential Daily Briefings that say, you know, "Bin Laden determined to strike inside U. S."

And by the way, how can we un-ring the bell that makes the White House's and Blair House's locations public information.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

And then I go and spoil it all, by saying something stupid

In re: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, RightWingNuthouse's Rick Moran almost gets it right:
To those of us on the right who still vigorously support the President in the War on Terror, the Hamdan ruling presents us with a golden opportunity to start repairing the damage our detainee policy at Guantanamo has inflicted upon our constitutional principles as well as our image abroad.

Actually, this isn't really right, as there really is no War on Terror, just a War in Iraq. Afghanistan is no longer the focus and BinLaden sits at his campsite playing parcheesi. But still, that sounds almost reasonable.

But then he has to get in his digs:
To those on the left who, despite the unambiguous ruling by the Supreme Court in Hamdan that we are indeed in a shooting war with al-Qaeda, but still insist that the War on Terror is some kind of gigantic Rovian plot to win elections, the decision is a godsend. It gives liberals a second chance to prove they are serious about protecting America from her enemies by joining with the President and Republicans in Congress in resolving the legal status of detainees in such a way that satisfies both the demands of justice and our national security.

2 points: First, if we are in a shooting war with al-Qaeda, then please see my previous comment about Bin Laden, who by now has moved on to computer solitaire.

Second, the tired canard "It gives liberals a second chance to prove they are serious." God I am so tired of this crap. If he was serious about stopping global terrorism, how about trying at least some of the following:
  • Go after Bin Laden. Would likely make no real difference, but would give a perception of seriousness.
  • Withdraw support for the Wahabbi regime in Saudi Arabia
  • Stop torturing and beating kids at Guantanamo and other locations until they are proven to be terrorists.
  • Sit the Israelis and Palestinians down, lock the door, and get serious.
  • Tell Mubarik in Egypt that he has to get serious or we withdraw aid.
  • Go to the UN (after firing John Bolton) and make a serious appeal for a global peacekeeing force to take over Iraq. Probably won't work, as most countries will say "You broke it, you fix it."
  • Do something, at long last, about Darfur.
Thankfully, decently, Moran gets this part exactly right:
This mess includes the fact that our government lied to us when they informed the American people that the prisoners at Guantanamo were “the worst of the worst.” The facts contained in the military’s own records simply do not bear that out. And it is clear, at least to this observer, that one of the main reasons the government insists on holding many of these detainees is not the fear that if released they would commit heinous acts of terror but rather because by releasing them now it would prove that the military made many, many tragic mistakes in capturing, interrogating, and holding dozens of innocent men and boys.

Interestingly, one of his commenters says this:
No serious person on the left suggests that the war on terror is a Rovian plot. Americans died on 9/11. People of every State in this nation, from every politcal, racial, and socioeconomic background are fighting and dying in this war. (of course, less than .5% of the Nation is actively engaged, becuase the Republicans refused to drastically increase the size of our armed forces after 9/11). It is very real,and everyone knows it.

What they say, and the what is true, is that Rove has used it in such a way as to divide this country and take power at the expense of the law, and our rights. He has used it for politics, and they have made such a mess of it, that now everyone is scrambling to try and come up with a way to repair the damage. We were more together as Americans after 9/11 than anytime in our lives… and now look at us. Look at where they have taken us.
As your comments suggest, these guys have done a ton of damage to the US image and law. Repair is going to take decades. our very Constitution is continually threatened. The freedom of the press is being squashed. Right wing talk radio hosts publically calling for the murder of Newspaper editors. Fox news journalists are advocating for gov control of the media. Is this really the America that serious conservatives want to live in? I doubt it. This is what pushing the envelpoe on every wedge issue has done. Brought out the worst in our society. “The Decider” is not a uniter folks. Nor are the Republicans being conservative with money. They are spending like drunken sailors. I cannot think of a single thing these jokers have done right.

And sadly, right on cue, Rick responds:
You are so full of sh*t I will not take the time or make the effort to debunk the numerous idicocies in your comment.

Once an idiot, always an idiot.