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31 May 2009

Hope...and the car salesman

by: Father Tyme

HI! I’m looking for a car. I prefer a new car but a good recent used one would fit the bill.
OK! Why, you’ve come to the right place. My name's Bob, by the way. Here’s my card. We have just what you need here.
Well, I haven’t had the time to look around, you know, to compare prices. And I see a bunch of cars on the lot. Looks like all kinds price-wise but I don’t see many used ones.
Oh, we keep the used cars are in the other lot.
And where is the other lot?
Well, we have one in the back and operate a number of distributorships around the area.
Ok, what have you got?
Well, what are you after…I mean, what kind of money do you want to spend? We have cars from $2000 up to $7000! Just depends on how much you want to spend…and your credit, of course!
I’m looking for a dependable, family type, maybe a little sporty, but not too flashy; something my family will be able to use for a while.
Ok! Most of our cars are designed for long term use. You can be sure that the car you buy from us will have the backing of our dealership and the factory behind it for years. But you’re looking for a family type. Let’s go see our new mid-sized.

You follow the salesman to the rear area of the showroom. That’s where they keep the not-so-flashy cars.

Here’s a new ’71 Chevy you’re just going to love. Four door, air, automatic, power steering, power windows and seats, AM/FM Radio, V-8 engine…
How economical is it… I mean to own and operate?
Oh, it’s a sweet deal for you. Runs on premium gas for that extra power you need. Hardly ever needs maintenance. Quiet. Your neighbors will be envious.
How much we talking?
For you, I can put you in it for less than 6 grand at about 5%!
Well, I was thinking of something a little more economical. I’m not really a flashy kind of guy, and, you know, I’ve got to think about my family.
Of course you do. Over here we have a family station wagon. Same kind of features; automatic transmission, air, new disc brakes to keep you safer and lots of room to carry stuff. Your kids will have a really comfortable time growing up in this.
Yeah, I hate to keep on it, but what about costs in the long run?
What did you say you did for a living?
I work in a steel mill near Pittsburgh.
Oh, that’s a great job, with a great future! You got some nice benefits there,too, not to mention the overtime, right?
Well, things aren’t so bad, yeah.
Hey, you don’t want to sacrifice too much comfort now, do you? You might be pretty tired coming home from a tough day and that cool air can feel really great after a hot day at the mill!
Yeah, you’re right there. It would be nice to not have to worry about the heat in all that traffic. I guess it’s pretty good in the winter? We get some bad snow around these parts.
Not to worry. This baby is heavy enough to keep you going through the deepest snow.
Well, I’m interested but…
I think it still might be a little too rich for my blood.
OK. Tell you what. We started carrying a new line of cars. It’s called a sub-compact type. I’m kind of new to these but my manager says they’re the latest thing. Very economical! Easy to repair. Virtually maintenance free. But the down side is that they are a tad bit smaller than the mid sized sedans.
Well…I guess I could look at one. What kind of price range are we talking about, here?
Oh, don’t worry about that! You can definitely afford one. We’re talking under $2400…and that’s a new car!
Well, that sounds kind of nice. But what kind of used car prices do you have.
Do you really want to take a chance on someone else’s possible troubles.
You don’t sell bad cars do you?
No, No, No! You have to understand, though. No matter how much we put into making sure they are fixed, there’s always the chance that some part could be worn and might go bad and then you’d have to repair it.
But that’s what the warranty is for, right?
Sure! But do you want to bring the car in, maybe wait for a couple of days to get it fixed then hope that nothing goes wrong in the next couple of months? I mean, we can fix it for you and the warranty covers the parts but labor can get expensive later on, not to mention your time.
Yeah, I see you’re point.
Sure! Now with a new car, you don’t have to worry about those things. You can look forward to many years of trouble free driving. Wouldn’t that ease your Mind?
Yeah, I guess. But we’re talking about more money.
Of course, it’ll cost you a little more but in the long run, you’ll have years of worry free service. Then, if you decide to, you can always trade it in. There’ll always be someone else looking to buy your old car. You don’t have to worry. Get a new one and keep on driving.
Ok, show me this new …sub-compact, you called it?
Yep. And the really great thing about this new car is that our designers at the factory are making it like those foreign cars you see; they hardly change appearance over the years so your new car today will be difficult for your neighbors to tell how old it is in a couple of years! It’s still look like a new car model!
Hey, that’s a great idea! Where is it?
Right here. And we even have a great slogan for you; ”If you like our 1971 Vega, you ‘ll love the 1975.”…That means it’ll look remarkably the same then so it’ll look like you still have that new car.
Wow! That’s a really great idea! Ok, what about financing?
Well, that’s the beauty of it. We do our own financing through our own partners. Trust me, I can get you financed in no time!
Isn’t that more expensive?
Only for really bad credit risks. You pay your bills on time, don’t you?
Well, every once in a while, I may be a little late on a utility bill or charge card at the department store.
But you don’t have any bankruptcy or anything like that, do you?
Heavens no! I’m a good American!
Well, then! You won’t have a problem. Let’s go into my office and we can settle this right away. Why, you could be driving out of here in your new 1971 Vega today with virtually no money down.
How long will I have to be paying this off?
That’s the beauty of it. Even if it’s a tad longer, you’re able to trade it in later and we’ll give you a great deal on a new car! You can’t lose! Think of it! A nice new car. And at a great new rate!
Yep! I guarantee it! Trust me, we’ll take care of you. We want your business. After all, where would this country be if businesses didn’t take care of their customers? We’ll be here for you, now and later!
Sounds good! Where do I sign?

Like I Wrote About Three Years Ago:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"The wall along the Mexican border is to keep us IN as much as it is to keep others out."

"New rules requiring passports or new high-tech documents to cross the United States' northern and southern borders are taking effect Monday, as some rue the tightening of security and others hail it as long overdue.

"The rules are being implemented nearly eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks and long after the 9/11 Commission recommended the changes. They were delayed by complaints from state officials who worried the restrictions would hinder the flow of people and commerce and affect border towns dependent on international crossings."

The rest of the article is from the AP ("Always Progressive?" or "Arrogantly Presumptuous?") article entitled New ID rules begin June 1 for Mexico, Canada trips. The rest of the story however, may be investigated by first viewing a YouTube documentary entitled THE COMING AMERICAN HOLOCAUST wherein the narrator makes the claim that there are presently 180 "detention centers" or "prisons" or "concentration camps" or "communication management units" in the United States. Why so many names? Well, you see, I'm not as good as an Administration Attorney at misleading word play but I kinda hold my own when it comes to figuring out when somebody's trying to bullshit me; and those are just some of the terms I've heard used to describe these "facilities."

A little more study on this ominous business can be derived from "searching" the term "REX 84."

Maybe I'll have more on this subject later after I have a look at the Prison Planet website.
30 May 2009

Wisdom and Experience

by: Dark Wraith

In the current war between those who support President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, and those who oppose her, Right-wing critics have focused much of their campaign against her confirmation upon words she spoke at a University of California, Berkley, symposium in 2001, when she said, "Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences... our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging... I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Without the preceding part of that speech, those words unambiguously reveal a person who believes that she, as a "Latina woman," can "reach a better decision" than any Caucasian man could, at least "more often than not."

Ambiguity arises, however, when more of what she actually said is revealed: at the very minimum, she noted that wise decisions had been made by white men, and she made no statement whatsoever that would set aside the scope of common law that had been constructed by the white men who have dominated — indeed, controlled — the arc of justice to this very day. For her to have done that would have been for her to repudiate the legal system upon which she and others of a progressive heart rely for that arc to become more inclusive, more broadly just, and better with each generation.

I support the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. I do not do so because hers is a particularly stellar legal mind; it is not. Neither do I support her because she is a woman and of color. While affirmative action is an altogether reasonable means by which employment opportunities can be opened in so many workplaces where the history of discrimination would otherwise ensure the perpetuation of that abominable practice, artificial guidelines that become as important as great merit in selecting among the qualified at the most powerful levels of society will lead to bad ends. I am hopeful that Sotomayor was nominated because the society, itself, has become so pluralized that her appointment is a natural reflection of the extraordinary diversity in the country: we are now (and, of course, always have been) one nation of many peoples, and the diversity of our ethnic landscape is so great, so compelling that the continued, uninterrupted selection of white males would be the obviously, unconscionably unreasonable path.

At the same time that I would defend Judge Sotomayor against the outrageous charge that what she said in the 2001 UC Berkley speech was somehow "racist," I am not entirely at comfort with it, and my dismay is, on one level, quite personal; but on another level, my concern is wider.

The citizens of the United States number about 300 million. The population of the world is perhaps 6.6 billion or so. The living probably outnumber the dead, and among the two groups — those still alive and those who have passed on — is an incomprehensible, almost entirely untold story, the story of the human experience.

We who are still among the living, and those of our kind now gone, have each gone through so much, seen so many things, learned an untellable amount, and felt such emotions that words cannot contain the scope of the unimaginably amazing story. Some might think that we now have, or someday will have, machines that can store just about everything, but that idea is just plain folly: to collect the lives of everyone who lives and has lived, to capture every detail, every emotion ever felt, every turn of symbolism in every dream, every fantasy, every love, every despair, every hope, every fear — that is beyond any storage device that will ever be made.

For the remainder of this article, I address Sonia Sotomayor, herself, but I encourage readers to follow along, and if they are of a mind, to address me concerning what I am about to write. She will not read this, so it is for those who will that I set these thoughts to words, what I want to tell Sonia Sotomayor.

You do not know me, Ms. Sotomayor. Even if we were one day to cross paths, you would not. You have no idea what I seen, just like I have no idea what you have seen. To the same extent that I cannot judge the wisdom of any decision you make, particularly before you have made it, you cannot possibly judge the wisdom of any decision I would make, especially before I have made it.

To reduce me to a "white male" is grotesquely degrading. You have no idea what I have seen and how the life I have lived has intersected with the essential, enduring aspects of my inner self, where the world outside becomes distilled, interpreted, and used for what is to come.

"Wise decisions"? No, not for me; otherwise, I would make as much money as you, but instead I make about one-seventh what you make. I would have gone to a fabulous college and been one of the shove-and-bully types who gets the honors, the fancy diplomas with the Latin accolades, and the notice of the powerful. I would have gone up the ladder trampling people under me to make me do well, and I would have left the fate of family to the winds of someone else's decisions. I would have been one of those all-too-common, yet ever-curious case studies in people of mediocre mind who seem to keep percolating to this nation's pinnacles of power, including the presidency, the Congress, and the Supreme Court, where their non-existent brilliance is too often lauded by those who should know better and usually denied by those who know only spite without reason.

But "richness of experience"? Spare me some moral superiority. It is not only what we see, but also — and far more importantly — how our experiences affect us. I shall put a few of my meager cards on the table.

Let me start with death. I have seen it, and I just hate it. I hate it viscerally because it has hurt me so much. Anymore, I cannot stand the sight even of an animal suffering before death. I just hate it, and I hate the disgusting advice that I should just "move on," "work through my grief," or somehow "come to grips with" mortality. No, I choose not to do any of those things that would bring false joy to the world of all things that must come to an end. Even worse for me, to use an old saying among veterans of the Civil War, "I seen the elephant." With no intention to redundancy, if you know what that means, you know what that means. I had no mind to buy the ticket, but somehow I did. I wish with all my heart, with all my soul, that I had not. But I did.

Now, let me speak to violence. I have seen that, too, and it is horrible. Hurting people is but one part of willful cruelty that has, in its very worst expression, the purpose of actually taking pleasure in the suffering of the living, human and otherwise. I have been beaten quite literally to within an inch of my life; and, yes, I have been beaten by women. "Duty to flee" was my personal excuse for not fighting back and destroying them with one blow. In fact, by the time in my life that I was in such ego-destroying, demeaning situations, I could not bring myself to do to them what I hated so much that they were doing to me. For that reason, I could not find within myself the will to reciprocate the emotional abuse that was even more common. For the rest of my life, I will not go anywhere near emotional proximity to or physical vulnerability with a woman. I have no desire to be hurt ever again, and I consider myself at least smart enough not to go where risk imagined has already been danger realized. How is that for decision-making from experience? I think it's pretty good: I haven't been hit in a long, long time.

Finally, before I conclude this article with a story, let me briefly describe fear. It is terrible to live large parts of one's life afraid. The powerful, the rich, the mean, the corrupt, the heartless: they rule, they dominate, they control. I am not among any of those classes of people, so I have to scurry through the shadows, hoping they will not take notice of me; if they do, I get hurt, and it happens every last time. You are among the powerful; all you can do is hurt me. That's how power works.

You are a living representative of the law, and the law is the more-or-less civilized expression of the fist by which the powerful organize the society to suit their needs and especially their proclaimed values that they, themselves, cannot abide for their own lives. The icon of Lady Justice need not remove her blindfold; by the very fact that you are a judge, it is you and your kind who will ensure that she knows to bring her sword down upon me and my kind. Judging from the incarceration rate in this country, you and Lady Justice work with the efficient fury of machine guns on cowering civilians.

If you ever have occasion to meet me, to get to know me, I am quite certain you will come rather quickly to dislike me. People of power are that way with me, and this is especially true with women of power. The impenetrable mystery to me is the question of why women who are in no position of official power — be it corporate, academic, or otherwise — react so fundamentally differently to me. That question aside, I am most glad that we will probably never meet. All you would see in me is a swaggering, self-assured, pompous ass who acts like he knows everything and seems to be just a little too ill-tempered for all but the stupidest of rednecks and the dumbest of gang-bangers to disrespect. All I would see in you is just another power-wielding, ill-tempered, unimaginative cog in the machine of repression that is our modern system of justice.

What you see, and the basis upon which you would judge me, would be an illusion, partly of your own making because you see a "white male," partly of my making because that is what I want you to see.

What I see, and the basis upon which I would judge you, would be an illusion, too, of course. At the very least, that is my hope; and it is upon that hope — and only that hope — that I wish you success in your aspiration to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

I shall now conclude this article with a story. From time to time, I write and publish personal stories, some meant to be humorous, like "A Hill People Story for Sunday Night," some quite painful, like "I Am Become Battle," "Remembering Shelby," and "The end of all things."

Long-time readers of my literature might remember the one I am reprinting below as part of a larger article I wrote a few years ago. The purpose tonight is to share with you a single example in a life with "richness of experience" that is, in your own words, a predicate to making wise decisions. Above, I disclaimed any ability to make wise decisions; I will leave wisdom to you and others. Below, and in conclusion, I offer you an opportunity to dismiss some of the certainty you might have that your life has been richer than mine.

Quite a long while back, I told the following story in a comment here at The Dark Wraith Forums; but while that comment was a rather vague and quite truncated version of how certain incidents went down a couple years ago, here I shall be far less circumspect and much more vivid in details.

My last gig at one of those religious colleges is instructive on several levels. If I were to tell you the name of the college, you might recognize it right away. It has been the beneficiary of large infusions of cash, pretty much all of which has been spent on a few buildings, including the chapel, a student union, and the administrators' offices. These places on campus are just gorgeous, and people see these in the college recruitment brochures and on the campus tours.

The building in which I taught and had my office wasn't in any brochure and never did get included in tours given to parents and their high school-aged kids. My office was in a room on the top floor. It had no heat, so it was unbearable to be in there during the cold months. My classroom on the bottom floor of that building had water pouring into it through the ceiling every time it rained outside. In the warm months, because there was no air conditioning, the entire building was so hot that teaching and learning were quite a challenge, but no one was allowed to open the windows because the hornets would come in from their nests that had been in the overhangs of the roof for so long they could be seen from the street.

This building wasn't the exception, either. One permanent professor there told me I was lucky to be in one of the "good" buildings, falling apart as it was but protected by its status as a landmark.

Now, let's talk about the students. A handful of religious zealots dominated the campus; everyone else just stayed out of their way. During the 2004 Presidential campaign, the voter registration table was in the cafe where a group of old alumni sat around with the young religious bullies loudly yelling vile, sometimes even sick, invectives against Democrats. This went on every day of the week, all to the tune of Fox News blaring on a big TV in the corner.

Aside from the howling religious nuts, most of the students I met wanted to be elsewhere. Many, many of the kids had become disillusioned within the first couple of years of schooling there; some within the first couple of months. They hated the place, and they knew what prospects awaited them on the outside with their degrees. Only those committed to life within a religious community were very much at peace with their educational progress, but the overriding sentiment felt by students was that they were trapped by financial and psychological dependence on their parents and others. I was surprised by how many grasped that they were not getting anything remotely like a genuine, academically challenging, liberal arts college education.

It took a very short amount of time for the student body to figure out that I was an aberration there, someone who had been picked up because both the institution and I were desperate.

Let me now get to the specifics of just how much I have my head in the sand about religious colleges.

The last significant incident in my mind about that place was trying to help a girl in her first semester hide the fact that she'd gotten knocked up by one of the football players. She was scared to death, and the pregnancy was making her a total physical wreck from the get-go. She was a small, mousy girl who could have passed for fourteen. She had little, puffy cheeks that framed large brown eyes she would raise up to me as she kept her head down out of some kind of deference to male authority figures. She trembled in even the slightest chill of autumn breezes. For this story, I shall call her "Ellie."

She was a stunningly good math student, at least at first. After about a month, though, she started missing more and more classes. Not too long after her absences had become a matter of concern to me, one of her friends in the class told me about the pregnancy. An older woman in the class whom I'll call "Janice" was right there at the time and explained to me that this had to stay a secret: Ellie would be expelled if the administration found out. Ellie's friends were covering for her as best they could. In fact, they were covering for more than a few girls. Janice, who lived in the area and picked up classes from time to time at this dump, explained that it was like this every year: girls getting knocked up and trying to hide it so their parents didn't find out and the school didn't hear about it.

Janice, herself, was bitter about the college. It seems that only a matter of weeks before the semester began, she had undergone a hysterectomy, only to realize that the classes she had already paid for would be a real challenge to attend. The college had no handicap access in the old buildings where most of the classes were held. The administration variously claimed the buildings were exempt from requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act because they're landmarks, or the whole school was exempt because it's a "private religious institution." Whatever. All Janice knew was that she had to have a couple of the big horse-type guys help her up the steep steps so she could get to classes, including mine.

Anyway, Ellie was being torn up by the pregnancy, and her emotional state was something almost indescribable. She came to class only rarely. She'd generally be there if one of her friends in the class told her I was going to do a "surprise" quiz. (I started violating my long-standing policy about not warning of impending quizzes just because I wanted Ellie to know when she simply had to show up at class.)

Meanwhile, Janice—a tough broad who had been everything from a truck driver to an auxiliary law enforcement officer—finally got up the nerve to hint that she could get Ellie to an abortion clinic in the big city. I let her know in no uncertain terms that I would help. That meant I was going to stand ready to pay for the procedure.

My days at that school were numbered, even though I was still lying to myself by thinking that my great teaching would win the day. I had a religious lunatic for a department chairman: he would even sometimes stand outside the closed door to my classroom just so he could listen to my "unacceptable" use of language. In one instance that sent him into a hissy-fit, when I was about to pass back a test, a student asked me how they all did, and with a grin on my face I said, "Well, your tests sucked," to which the students laughed. All except for two, that is: young men with butch haircuts and a mission to tell the school authorities and their parents about every awful, horrible, un-Christian thing that happened at college. Both of those fellows, by the way, were failing my class miserably, and the other students hated their guts, in part because they squealed on everyone and in part because they were otherwise bizarrely withdrawn human beings. As one of them told me as he looked everywhere but into my eyes, "I am in this world, but not of it." (I replied to him with perhaps too much levity that he still had to study for my class and pass my tests or I would flunk his ass cold.)

Returning to the main story, Ellie's friends knew what we were planning, and several of them approached her with the way out of her mess. All I heard about that part was that she couldn't bring herself to reject the idea out of hand, but that she was simply horrified by the very idea of going even further into sin than she already had gotten. She wouldn't even tell anyone who, exactly, it was who got her pregnant; that part was left to one of the other girls at the party where it happened. (The young man, by the way, never suffered any punishment for his role in her pregnancy.)

If Ellie was going to get in even more trouble than she already was, she had no intention of taking anyone else with her. As November progressed, Ellie withdrew even further from those who wanted to help her. She missed the last term exam in my class, and no one volunteered any information about what was going on.

The last time I saw Ellie was in the cafe. The place was eerily empty despite upcoming finals. The TV wasn't even on. But there was Ellie. She was sitting in a chair with her legs pulled up to her; she was curled over in almost a ball. She had her back to the entrance, so she didn't know it was I who had come in until I was just behind her. She turned around and lifted those brown eyes up to me.

That smile across her pale, sunken face nearly made me choke. In her hand she was squeezing a bus ticket. She had nothing but the clothes on her back. Her light flannel hoodie was all that would keep the bitter December wind from her frail body.

I had nothing I could say to her. She'd been ratted out by one of the Christian psycho-bitch enforcers in her dorm. She was expelled, her parents were told about the outrage of it all, and everybody on campus knew she was the latest case study in the wages of sin.

She was so small that she vanished quite easily from that world of decent people.

And there I was. I could have done something about it, but I didn't. All I had was a pat solution that freaked her way too much. I could have put alternatives in front of her: adoption agencies, and not those Christian predators, either; friends who would have gladly taken her in and helped her ride it out if that was her choice. I could have offered her more than a mere cowardly professor's detached, meaningless gestures by proxy. I'd been going extra miles for years, but there I was, off my game, somehow fantasizing for too long that I could make a living for a few years by playing both sides against the middle in that dump. Ellie vanished from my sight while I was standing there flat-footed like every other useless non-player in the high-stakes game of life.

The next semester I got a gig at a regional community college. The first day of the semester, I was out in the smoking area when around the corner came three young men, all from that religious college. They'd had enough, so they were willing to drive more than an hour just to get something approximating a real education.

They all stopped dead in their tracks and stared at me with huge smiles. "Oh my fuckin' God!" one of them said.

I walked right up and shook hands with them, welcoming them to real academia. They were so macho-tough-excited-giddy-laughing-profane. They were so normal, and they were so glad to see a familiar face. I told them I was glad to see them, too; but I told them I was still going to kick their butts if they were unfortunate enough to end up in any of my classes.

They informed me that they were but three examples of a continuing leakage that religious college had of kids who manage to find a way to get out. Apparently, the community college, along with several other colleges and universities in the region, had long been the beneficiaries of that continuing stream of students escaping what would otherwise have been a miserable, pseudo-college experience leading nowhere. One of those young guys even mentioned the "bullshit" that happened to Ellie and how that's the kind of thing that makes students get out of there if they can. It's just that most can't.

There was yet another option I didn't think about in my bag of tricks for Ellie. That community college is dirt cheap, getting a surprisingly generous matrix of subsidies from all kinds of sources.

God Almighty! had I been off my game. What a dumb-ass I'd been through that whole messy experience at that religious Hell-hole.

Four years before, I was running a two-year school that trained paralegals and court reporters. It was in an urban ghetto, about as dangerous as a place could be just going to and from the parking lot after dark. The students were mostly female, mostly urban African-Americans along with low-income Whites. Every last day was a ride through rough terrain, and I was at the top of my game. I could solve any problem, I could get even some of the most hopeless cases through the curriculum and out into decent jobs. I swear, it seemed some days like I could have fixed the whole damned world one person at a time.

God! how far I had fallen by the time Ellie and others at that Christian college needed me.

Someday not too long from now, I'll leave this part of the country where so many churches dot the landscape. Too many people here love their god; they love their god more than they love the child-women and child-men stumbling and falling on the hard concrete of adulthood where they then look up with soulful eyes to see if anyone's there to help show them the way to their feet again.

Someday I'll go back to the streets that are mean in ways I handle better. I'll try to do a lot of good and little harm, and I'll finish this life trying not to think about the awful failures on my conscience. I don't think I'll do too well at forgetting, though, since I'll be seeing Ellie in every class, on every street, and in every bus station where some kid is looking up hoping someone has a good reason that one-way ticket to the end of the line isn't the only choice left.

I'm finished writing for the evening, now.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
29 May 2009

Documentary: Torturing Democracy

by: Foiled Goil

Torturing Democracy
The documentary TORTURING DEMOCRACY tells the story of how the United States government circumvented tradition and law to adopt torture as official policy. The film, produced by award-winning filmmaker Sherry Jones, draws on interviews, archival footage, and recently declassified documents to piece together the development and dissemination of torture tactics from Bagram in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib -- and the document trail leads right to the top of the chain of command.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to rights restrictions we will not be able to stream TORTURING DEMOCRACY online.

You can watch the entire film at the TORTURING DEMOCRACY Web site.

Also on the TORTURING DEMOCRACY Web site, explore a timeline of events, read related articles, and delve into the archive of official documents.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: Everyone Should See TORTURING DEMOCRACY
No political party would dare make torture a cornerstone of its rejuvenation if people really understood what it is. And lest we forget, we’re not just talking about waterboarding, itself a trivializing euphemism for drowning.

If we want to know what torture is, and what it does to human beings, we have to look at it squarely, without flinching. That’s just what a powerful and important film, seen by far too few Americans, does. TORTURING DEMOCRACY was written and produced by one of America’s outstanding documentary reporters, Sherry Jones.

A longtime colleague, Sherry Jones and the film were honored this week with the prestigious RFK Journalism Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. TORTURING DEMOCRACY was cited for its “meticulous reporting,” and described as “the definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history.”

Unfortunately, as events demonstrate, the story is not yet history; the early chapters aren’t even closed. Torture still is being defended as a matter of national security, although by law it is a war crime, with those who authorized and executed it liable for prosecution as war criminals. The war on terror sparked impatience with the rule of law – and fostered the belief within our government that the commander-in-chief had the right to ignore it. [snip]

As the editors of the magazine THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY wrote this week, “Convening a truth commission on torture would be embarrassing to the U.S. in the short term, but in the long run it would demonstrate the strength of American democracy and confirm the nation's adherence to the rule of law…. Understandably, [the President] wants to turn the page on torture. But Americans should not turn the page until they know what is written on it.”


BILL MOYERS JOURNAL resources and interviews about torture and the rule of law.

· · ·

Three Truths For Prosecuting War Crimes

by: Foiled Goil

Three Legal Truths: The Case For Prosecuting War Crimes By the Bush Administration

Jonathan Turley:

For many people around the world, it is a sign of the decline of American moral leadership that we continue to debate whether the government should prosecute those involved the Bush torture program. Their confusion is understandable. Under our existing treaty obligations, we agreed to prosecute such crimes and we have prosecuted others for precisely the same acts for decades. The real question should be: Should the United States violate international law to shield individuals accused of war crimes? Our answer to that question will define or redefine this country for generations.

Notably, in the last few months, the many law professors who once defended the torture program have largely disappeared. The shrinking number of apologists for the Bush administration are left with largely political arguments in the face of three unassailable legal truths. First, waterboarding is torture. Second, torture is a war crime. Third, the United States is obligated to prosecute war crimes. [snip]




Our failure to investigate and prosecute accused war criminals has led some United Nations officials to accuse the United States of violating treaty obligations. More importantly, our continued debate over this question puts our troops in danger. We will be hard pressed in the future to call for prosecution of leaders who torture our citizens and soldiers.

We cannot continue a war on terrorism while being violators of international law ourselves. Torture and terrorism are cut from the same legal bolt: Both are violations of human rights and international law. If we want the world to join us in fighting one crime against humanity, we cannot continue to obstruct the prosecution of another crime against humanity.

Ultimately, we all become accessories after the fact if we stand silent in the face of these war crimes. Bush ordered these war crimes because he believed that he was above the law and others like Rice have claimed that, if the president orders such actions, they are by definition legal. They were both wrong. The law is clear. The only remaining question is whether we have the national character and commitment to the rule of law to hold even our leaders to account for crimes committed in our name.

Such prosecutions do not weaken a nation. They reaffirm the difference between ourselves and those we are fighting. To abandon our principles for politics would be to hand al-Qaeda its greatest victory – not the destruction of lives or buildings but our own self-inflicted wound of hypocrisy and immorality. True victory against our enemies will only be found on the other side of prosecuting those who (like our enemies) claim the right to wage war by any means.

Americans Who Authorized Torture Should Be Prosecuted for War Crimes

· · ·
28 May 2009

Precedent For Trials Of War Crimes

by: Foiled Goil

Nuremberg Set a Valid Precedent for Trials of War-crime Suspects in Iraq's Destruction

Cesar Chelala:

The Nuremberg Principles, a set of guidelines established after World War II to try Nazi Party members, were developed to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles can also be applied today when considering the conditions that led to the Iraq war and, in the process, to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, and to the devastation of a country's infrastructure.

In January 2003, a group of American law professors warned President George W. Bush that he and senior officials of his government could be prosecuted for war crimes if their military tactics violated international humanitarian law. The group, led by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, sent similar warnings to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. [snip]

Both former President George W. Bush and senior officials in his government could be tried for their responsibility for torture and other war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

In addition, should Nuremberg principles be followed by an investigating tribunal, former President Bush and other senior officials in his administration could be tried for violation of fundamental Nuremberg principles. [snip]

Perhaps one of the most serious breaches of international law by the Bush administration was the doctrine of "preventive war." In the case of the Iraq war, it was carried out without authorization from the U.N. Security Council in violation of the U.N. Charter, which forbids armed aggression and violations of any state's sovereignty except for immediate self-defense.

As stated in the U.S. Constitution, international treaties agreed to by the United States are part of the "supreme law of the land." "Launching a war of aggression is a crime that no political or economic situation can justify," said Justice Jackson, the chief U.S. prosecutor for the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Benjamin Ferencz, also a former chief prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials, declared that "a prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity — that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation."

The conduct and the consequences of the Iraq war are subsumed under "Crimes against Peace and War" of Nuremberg Principle VI, which defines as crimes against peace "(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i)." In the section on war crimes, Nuremberg Principle VI includes "murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property."

The criminal abuse of prisoners in U.S. military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo are clear evidence of ill- treatment and even murder.

According to the organization Human Rights First, at least 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global "war on terror," eight of whom were tortured to death.

As for the plunder of public or private property, there is evidence that even before the war started, members of the Bush administration had already drawn up plans to privatize and sell Iraqi property, particularly that related to oil.

Although there are obvious hindrances to trying a former U.S. president and his associates, such a trial is fully justified by legal precedents such as the Nuremberg Principles and by the extent of the toll in human lives that the breach of international law has exacted.

· · ·

...they don't tell the truth!

by: Father Tyme

So few minutes!

No Wonder Obama Won't Release The Photos

by: Debra

I'd want to hide them too. While most Americans seem willing and able to justify torture by way of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and confined spaces, methinks that rape is a whole different ball of wax. Especially the rape of Iraqi women long before we pissed them off and they became suicide bombers. How sick do you have to be to take, and then keep, photos of a man raping a woman, forcibly removing a female prisoner's clothing or raping a teenage boy? And in what world could you ever justify raping someone as part of your job? These are war crimes and should be punished as such. Immediately. I seriously doubt that the perpetrators have been dealt with.
At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube...

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: "I saw [name of a translator] f**king a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his dick in the little kid's ass... and the female soldier was taking pictures."
No wonder Stephen Green thought he could get away with raping and killing fourteen year old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. If she had been American he would have gotten the death penalty.  And deservedly so even though I don't normally believe in it.

There's no point in hiding the photos now that the story is out. I don't particularly want to see them but America deserves to see how far we have fallen and why the violence against our troops escalated for so long. It's the only way to try and make sure that it doesn't happen again. And we need to raise the standards of who we will accept in the military, no more bottom of the barrel recruits. I refuse to believe that the people I served with would have ever committed these crimes.

I am so ashamed for my country, how will we ever live this down?

Why, oh why, didn't I just go to sleep after enjoying the music?


· ·

Musical Whiplash

by: Debra

I'm trying to get to sleep so I set the timer on the iPod and it obviously wasn't ready to turn off for the night.

You're So Vain - Carly Simon
Worked It Out Wrong - Chris Isaak
Street Life - The Crusaders
Just A Little - The Beau Brummels
From The Beginning - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Car Wash - Rose Royce
Kiss You All Over - Exile
You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine - Lou Rawls
Dripping Springs, Tx - Pollo Del Mar (YouTube can be so helpful)

How will I ever get to sleep if I keep bouncing to the music?


27 May 2009

Minor Thoughts on the Fourth Estate

by: Dark Wraith

Rant & Growl Following up on the article earlier today, "The Fourth Estate Continues To Fail," by contributing writer Debra, I herewith offer some thoughts on the condition of journalism in general, with note to several of the rare exceptions.

My disdain for the mainstream media is deep and abiding; I do, however, want to give credit where credit is due to the few members of the more-or-less mainstream media that have done an exemplary job of keeping the word "journalism" from becoming a thing of unbridled mockery in recent years.

Among my favorites is McClatchy Newspapers. During the Bush Administration, I found top-notch investigative reporting there, and I go to the McClatchy homepage every day.

Although sometimes given to reporting as rather more fact than claims of somewhat suspect sources, The Guardian merits mention. The Guardian operates out of Great Britain, which has become a phenomenal case study in the descent of a nation into official paranoia, with all-seeing, ever-watching cameras in every nook and cranny of public places and apparently even with a law now that prohibits photographing law enforcement officials. These and other features of 21st Century British society speak to nothing less than a cautionary tale in how a nation in many ways quite socialistic can be every bit as repressive as its like-minded kindred countries on the Right. That The Guardian can and does publish hard-hitting stories in such an environment speaks to bravery and dedication that put the U.S. media, which operate in a less repressive political environment, to shame. (yes, AlterNet is mainstream) has stellar articles from time to time that run contrary to the all-too-common fuzziness, derivativeness, echo-chamber character, and areas of taboo that pervade Institutional Liberal/Left journalism.

And finally, a special note of appreciation to one particular journalist/commentator, Keith Olbermann, who has always been a target of the Right, but has recently also become the beneficiary of a fair degree of sniffing from the DLC, holier-than-thou types of the liberal community who sneer that his commentaries are just tooooo-tooooo... "out there." Olbermann's greatest strength, aside from the genuineness of his on-air contempt for Bush and Cheney, is the meticulousness with which he documents his point-by-point deconstruction of all things Right-wing. He quotes, he cites to original source material, he goes to historical records and examples. That's not just journalism; that's scholarship, and those who pose to be somehow above his level of fierceness are the same ones who cannot, themselves, grasp the importance of reference and logic as the twin, complementary backbones of editorialism that rises above mere commentary and opinion.

Yes, though, the pervasiveness of wretched journalism is simply awful. I shall reserve the right on some future occasion to point out that this is part and parcel of the pervasiveness of ignorance and the glorification of it in American culture, notwithstanding the pathetic façade of worthless tripe pumped out by the advocates of "No Child Left Behind." In that vein, then, I shall leave for another ocassion my abiding fury at the latest powerful advocates of NCLB, our new President and his contemptible Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, the latter of whom played his most recent gig as the nasty, teacher-bashing bully posing as the Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools, where he institutionalized intimidation of both educators and students and militarized the schools without doing a lick of real, enduring good for anything other than his own strutting, lawyerly ego and career trajectory.

Ah, but it seems I am drifting into an off-topic rant, now.

My bad.

I should have warned everyone that was coming, but I really didn't know before it happened. Sorry. The collapse of the education system has nothing whatsoever to do with the decline of journalism.

Surely the old adage cannot be true that "Ignorance fostered is ignorance inherited."

Okay, that's not an old adage; I just made that one up. This is not the time to point out that our journalists are merely the product of utterly failed education theories and practices all the way from those lousy warehouses called "K through 12" on through to fluff college degree programs in "Journalism" and "Communication" and a whole lot of other disciplines that even the likes of the Sarah Palins of this nation can handle.

I shall quit, now, before this throw-away article turns into a sweeping, sarcastic rant about everything.

The Dark Wraith is not nearly focused enough, tonight, to be writing meaningful articles for a reputable Weblog like this one.

· ·

Jabber Wacky

by: Foiled Goil

Reading Between the Lines: Obama Warns GOP That the Right Fights Sotomayor Confirmation at Their Own Peril
Besides Vice President Joe Biden's grin and insistence that the assembled audience must "really like" her, the announcement of Federal Appellate Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the Obama Administration's Supreme Court nominee was relatively uneventful. Unless you're a Republican Senator who has the rare gift of a pair of working ears, that is.

President Obama seems to have learned an important framing lesson over the past couple of months. At no point in the press conference organized to officially unveil Sotomayor as the nominee was the newly-controversial word "empathy" uttered. In fact, Obama was sure to emphasize as important qualities for a Supreme Court justice a "recognition of the limits of the judicial role," and "respect for precedent" in their role to "interpret -- not make -- law."

No, the message was more of a dare to the right wing than a defense of Sotomayor. As in, "Do you really want this to be the sword you fall on?"

SCOTUS: Get Yer RNC Talking Points Here
Oh my. So much for the super secret wingnutty wurlitzer blast faxer-iffic strategery. The RNC has sprung an unintentional media leak out the wazoo.

Conservatives Blast Obama’s Hispanic SCOTUS Nominee As ‘Not The Smartest’ And An ‘Intellectual Lightweight’

Rove: Attending top schools doesn’t mean that Sotomayor is smart, but it proves that Bush is.
Rove’s dismissal of Ivy League attendance is ironic considering that in an interview previewing the debate, he cited George W. Bush’s experience at Harvard and Yale to mock claims that Bush is stupid.

Sonia, Maria, Harriet....Whatever.
"Liberal judicial activist."

"Legislating from the bench."

"Far left."

"Hispanic chick lady..." Uh, wha????

There are your run-of-the-mill talking points that you know you're going to hear from the right no matter who the nominee is--yesterday The Hill even got the full list of them when that well-oiled political machine that is Michael Steele's RNC accidentally sent their talking points not just to their jabberers, but to the media they jabber on.

GOPers already going overboard with ugly (and ridiculous) attacks on Sotomayor
The Republicans just can't help themselves. They can't control their most base instincts. It's instinctive: Must throw every every nasty and racist (sometimes subtle, sometimes not) attack at Sotomayor without regard to the political consequences. This really is who they are.

Scraping The Bottom of Barrel
So far the criticisms of Sonia Sotomayor are much more revealing about her conservative critics than they are about her.

The Sotomayor nomination and the limits of language
Nowhere in this labeling frenzy was there any analysis of Sotomayor's legal decisions -- other, of course, than that as a wise Latina woman the judge naturally detests white male firefighters; just a dulling, deafening repetition of reductionist simplicity -- liberal, liberal, leftist, leftist, radical-radical activist. Joe would have been proud, and I've no doubt that Frank is.

While the American Left has been developmentally deficient in thunderous slogans and bumper-sticker intellectuality, the American Right has excelled at them. Its first modern major success was "liberal media," an efficient assault on two political birds with one deceptive stone. And with that success, the right then saw what it took as the unlimited possibilities of make-believe language.

Sotomayor on the Bench
A couple of weeks ago, Tom Goldstein of the SCOTUS Blog pointed out that the debate over Sotomayor's qualifications seemed to ignore the single most important source of information about her legal thinking: the opinions she's written while serving as a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. While fools like Jeffrey Rosen love to focus on gossip, innuendo and b.s., the rest of us are fortunate to have a detailed, extensive, and public trove of data to analyze. Even better, Goldstein's crew has pulled together summaries of what they consider Sotomayor's most important civil decisions. A sampler...

Gee, what a surprise: The right-wing talking points on Sotomayor are misleading distortions
Again, Media Matters has the goods:
The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (2005) notes that federal appellate courts do in fact have a "policy making" role...

Flashback: Seven GOP Senators Backed Sotomayor For Judge
Seven Republicans currently in the Senate voted for the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor in 1998 as U.S. Circuit Court judge, suggesting that Republican ranks could be divided over whether to confirm her to the Supreme Court.

According to the roll call, the seven Republicans who backed Sotomayor at the time are Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe, Robert Bennett, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch, and Judd Gregg.

She was also supported by Arlen Specter, who of course is now a Democrat but whose backing for Obama’s SCOTUS pick was seen as anything but assured.

If some of these Senators continue to back Sotomayor, it could divide the GOP caucus and kill any efforts by the GOP to filibuster the nominee.

Hypocrisy watch: Under Bush, Senator Grassley and his GOP colleagues demanded an "up or down vote"
A most excellent op-ed in the Des Moines Register by our friend, Ari Rabin-Havt, on the expected hypocrisy from the GOP over the upcoming nomination battle. Working for Harry Reid, Ari had a front row seat when Republican Senators were espousing the need for "up and down" votes for Bush's judicial nominees. Back then, they were vehemently opposed to any delays -- and GOP leaders were going to invoke the "nuclear option" to preclude any filibusters.

In Praise of the Nuclear Option
Just like the Judicial Confirmation Network, many prominent Republicans argued -- not so long ago -- that filibusters of judicial nominees was unconstitutional. They threatened to go nuclear. They praised presidential discretion. Media Matters Action Network has compiled video and transcripts of some of their remarks. [...]

On the "Democracy or Hypocrisy" question, I doubt there's any uncertainty at all as to the actual outcome. They'll try to filibuster; they'll need to satiate their base and their baser instincts.

Fact Check - In Their Own Words: The Majority's Prerogative
In 2005, many Republican Senators went so far as to claim the filibuster of judicial nominees was unconstitutional. Now four years later, with President Obama's first Supreme Court appointment looming, will they remain consistent in their position or commit one of the most blatant acts of hypocrisy in the 220-year history of the United States Senate?

ThinkFast: May 27, 2009
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in response to Judge Sotomayor’s nomination yesterday that Republicans need to be “very cautious and careful” about criticizing her as it could damage their “standing with Hispanics.” Former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon remarked, “If Republicans make a big deal of opposing Sotomayor, we will be hurling ourselves off a cliff.”

· ·

Is she really a choice?

by: Father Tyme

What makes me think that the Sotomayor nomination is a ruse? Well, for one thing, Barry hasn’t appointed ANYONE as liberal as she. Hmmm? Why would he do that knowing there will be a fight? Possibly three reasons.

The first may be that she will do a very good job and he knows it. Somewhere, between his ego and super ego, there could be remnants of his liberal upbringing. And it could be to, at least, microscopically appease the very liberal left which he’s been rather good at ignoring. I find it difficult to accept Rahm going along with the likes of one this liberal. But maybe her decisions toward some corporate interests softened what Emanuel professes to be a heart.

Secondly, he’s drawing a line against the conservatives in that if she is confirmed, he will have easier chances in the future getting his nominees thru. With the likes of Nelson and Bayh and the second generation Reagan Democrats, that choice probably won’t work. Plus, Santa is coming this December!

Or thirdly, that she’s a sacrificial lamb. Knowing she wouldn’t be confirmed, she will eventually withdraw her name so Barry can save face as so many others have done. Then he can appoint a more conservative justice that will appeal to his new center-right love interests.

It wouldn’t be unheard of to do any of the above. If this goes on longer than the month of June, choice would be number three. After all, isn’t that all that politics has now become; used car bargaining with America and the Constitution at stake?
Hopefully I’m wrong.

The Fourth Estate Continues To Fail

by: Debra

There isn't a doubt in my mind that the national press are incompetent at best and bordering on treasonous at worst.  An independent Fourth Estate they most definitely are not.  For the last fifteen years they have persisted in reporting one side of the story, the GOP side, no matter what the circumstances and no matter what the story.  Fair, balanced and objective no longer seem to be the operating requirements for "journalists".  In depth reporting has gone the way of the dinosaur and bloggers have had to take up the slack.

The press, along with what passes for Congress for that matter, breathlessly reports in glowing terms or jumps to do the bidding of anything that the GOP wants.  Virtually without exception and definitely without question.  There have been a few that haven't followed the party line but it's more like throwing a few slices of bread to the masses and then they "see the light" and fall back into line.

I've watched in amazement and with quite a bit of disgust as they hang on to every word that anyone named Cheney utters, determined to anoint them as the second coming of the GOP.  Torture? Not a problem for anyone except what they term the liberal left or foreigners that don't know what they are talking about because they didn't suffer through 9/11 and therefore don't know anything about the effects of terrorism.  Heaven forbid that they should accurately report what torture is or that it is against the law in the United States and around the world and that it doesn't make us safer but it does make us less trusted.

If the press had done their job objectively before the 2000 election the outcome would have been much different.  If they had done their job after 9/11 the United States would not have been hoodwinked into invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 (I'm sorry but I can't use 9/11 twenty five times in one article), had no weapons of mass destruction and wasn't a threat to the United States.  But they didn't and as a result hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children either died or are suffering miserably.  And that includes citizens and taxpayers of the United States.

If the press were doing their job objectively today, Cheney and his family would not receive the exposure they are getting and it most certainly wouldn't be as positive.  Last week there were not dueling speeches between the President and a former Vice President, there was a Presidential speech (that I didn't bother listening to because it wasn't necessary) and a rant from an angry, fearful coward who knows he broke the law and doesn't want to go to jail.  But not to the press, not even remotely.  Cheney is being held up as the man who has our national security interests at heart and Obama doesn't.

When I was a young girl in the sixties, the New York Times was the paper of record and in the seventies the Washington Post was the leader in exposing the Watergate scandal.  Today neither one can be depended upon for objective reporting and then they wonder why newspapers are folding for lack of readership.  They can blame it on Craigslist or Twitter but the truth of the matter is that the press doesn't do their job of reporting the news, they are too busy trying to make the news into something that pleases their masters.   Which amounts to inane babble that informs no one and prevents the truth from being revealed.

The press spends their time carrying water for people who only care about themselves and their so-called legacy and refuse to see that they are repeating the mistakes that got us into the Iraq debacle in the first place.  Once again while the US is preoccupied with straw men, North Korea is not only rattling it's saber, it's testing nuclear weapons and threatening its neighbors.  And the press?  They are concerned with how wonderful Cheney is and why the Obama administration relies on background briefings instead of giving them every name, rank and serial number of their sources.  As if the Bush administration was as open as possible.  Is Jennifer Loven serious?  I don't remember any complaints when Bush and Cheney quoted unnamed sources stating that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or when Jeff Gannon was masquerading as a reporter.  If I was President Obama I would start calling on the smaller news outlets exclusively and ignore the hypocritical Cheney ass kissers such as the AP, NY Times and the Washington Post.  And that isn't arrogance, it's common sense since the press is going to make up the story they want anyway.  Just like they have done for the last fifteen years.


· · · ·
26 May 2009

Another Dumb, Biased Ruling

by: Debra

It's time to leave.  I thought I was ashamed of my country because of torture, now I'm terrified that I live in a police state that has no rules or regulations to protect me from people who are already known to coerce confessions out of innocent people.
Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said their decision will have a "minimal" effects on criminal defendants. "Because of the protections created by this court in Miranda and related cases, there is little if any chance that a defendant will be badgered into waiving his right to have counsel present during interrogation," Scalia said.
What kind of drugs is he on if he thinks that cops won't badger people?  Hell, they tase sleeping naked people.  I may know my rights but a lot of people don't and if cops tell a suspect, and you know they will, that they have no right to an attorney they will be able to force confessions out of innocent people.  They've done it before and now it will become standard practice.  As if the Sotomayer pick is going to change anything.  Too little, too late.

Banana Republic?  Yes we are.  The average American is so screwed.


· ·

Soul Hunters

by: Dark Wraith

Evangelical Christian military personnel prepare to go to war for the souls of Muslims in Afghanistan.

Enjoy the video, fellow Americans. This is our military; this is our tax dollars; and this is God's work we are doing.

Our truth is marching on.

Given that the President is expanding the war in Afghanistan — having sent 17,000 more U.S. troops there and having escalated military strikes inside Pakistan, to name a couple of ways — our truth will continue to march on.

At the end of that road, of course, are the likes of Alexander the Great; the British; and, most recently, the Russians: their truths marched on, too. Right into the maw of failed conquest.

We'll find out soon enough.

Okay, maybe not soon enough, but we'll find out eventually.

Notwithstanding the mission of our evangelical Christian soldiers, some places aren't called "God forsaken" for nothing.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·
25 May 2009

Y'all better check out Joe Bageant's latest.

by: Peter of Lone Tree

It's called A redneck view of the Obamarama.
Here's a sample:
"It don't matter who gets to warm his butt in the White House chair," says a West Virginia trucker. "The top dogs eat high on the hog and the little dogs eat the tails and ears. That's what them bailouts is all about, and that's the way it is no matter who's president. So you might as well vote for the guy who looks like the most fun because you gonna be watching his ass on television for the next eight years."

"Nothing against Obama, mind you, but the last time I looked, the car plants was dead meat. Obama has never even come close to serving in the military, except for serving up that batch of hash in Baghdad. And there he was with his wife in a soup kitchen for god sake! Things has got so bad that we've got soup kitchens all over this country now. So, two millionaires in their armored limo drop by a soup kitchen, and this is supposed to make me feel good about my country?"

Someday, When We Are Wiser

by: Foiled Goil


Sung by Cloe Agnew, Celtic Woman

There is one armor that the world of men and women, as a world, has never put on. The churches have long bungled with its fastenings, but the world has gone unfended, and few have been those in whose hands the mystical sword of the spirit has shone with daily use.

This armor, waiting to be worn, is the armor of brotherhood and sacrifice, the sword of unselfishness, a conquering sword, with the power, when used, to unite the world in love. And there are none who may not put it on.

A dream of the poets? Yes. But there are dreams that come true. Even now the poet's voice is merged and drowned in the universal cry, Disarm. The prudent and fearful hold back, and ask, "Disarm and stand defenceless?" The answer comes, to all a single answer, "Disarm and arm again, with a new armor, not yet tried."

~M. A. DeWolfe Howe
Boston Herald, Editorial - November 9, 1921

24 May 2009

Memorial Day 2009

by: Dark Wraith

Memorial Day 2009

Our gen'rals command them to battle,
When our Presidents send them to war;
And the slain, they come home in silence:
Dead forever; alive nevermore.

Enjoy the holiday.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·

We Remember

by: Foiled Goil

23 May 2009

Quote of the Week:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

And a few still continue their rationalizing and defense (of Obama), with illogical excuses such as 'He's been in office for only 20 days, give the man a break!' and 'He's had only 50 days in office, give him a chance!' and currently, 'be reasonable - how much can a man do in 120 days?!' I am going to give this logic, or lack of, a slight spicing of reason, then, turn it around, and present it as: If 'the man' can do this much astounding damage, whether to our civil liberties, or to our notion of democracy, or to government integrity, in 'only' 120 days, may God help us with the next [(4 X 365) - 120] days. -- Sibel Edmonds at OpEdNews

Debating The Issues. Not

by: Debra

So, the political discourse in this country has devolved into equating the Speaker of the House with the second most disgusting term for a woman's anatomy.  While I thought Sarah Palin was a moron, I would never have referred to her using nasty nicknames because there were too many other terms that were appropriate.  Idiot, clueless and inciter of hatred being among them, the mini me version of Limbaugh.  Palin was picked as a VP candidate only because she was a woman not because she was competent or had skills and knowledge that the position needed.  The woman, and I use that term loosely, I would describe using the "C" word would be Ann Coulter and only because she invites vulgarity as she drips vitriol and reeks of self importance when she attacks the 9/11 families.  Coulter isn't an elected official, she is a tacky pundit and a fear monger in her own right.
But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think “Pussy Galore.”

At least that’s the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week – a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

The RNC video, which begins with the speaker’s head in the iconic spy-series gun sight, implies that Pelosi has used her feminine wiles to dodge the truth about whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the use of waterboarding in 2002. While the P-word is never mentioned directly, in one section the speaker appears in a split screen alongside the Bond nemesis – and the video’s tagline is “Democrats Galore.”

The wisdom of equating the first woman speaker of the House with a character whose first name also happens to be among the most vulgar terms for a part of the female anatomy might be debated – if the RNC were willing to do so, which it was not. An RNC spokesperson refused repeated requests by POLITICO to explain the point of the video, or the intended connection between Pelosi and Galore.
I don't like Pelosi because I feel she is ineffectual, she protested too much and then folded, giving the Bush administration more than they wanted. Every time.  Yet Republicans maintain that she's incompetent when it should be the Democrats who should be yelling at the top of their lungs. Do I think she lied? You betcha! But probably not about the briefing since the Bush administration wasn't well known for openness. Besides, the important question here is whether or not torture occurred, not when she knew about it.

The Republicans are trying to have it both ways, they want to have their cake and eat it too. If Ms. Pelosi was briefed in 2002 then that means the Bush administration was torturing people and all those involved should be punished. Then, and only then, Ms. Pelosi should be investigated and censured, not the other way around. The Republicans want Pelosi penalized for a crime they swear was never committed and if it was then it was justified but she should be punished for not letting anyone know about it. That only makes sense to anyone who isn't capable of stringing two related thoughts together. Or hasn't taken a logic class.

And what do Ms. Pelosi's looks have to do with job performance, such as it is? Tip O'Neill wasn't that great looking and that was never an issue while he was Speaker. And don't even get me started on Dennis Hastert. Besides, Honor Blackman was quite attractive. In true Republican fashion they really wanted to equate Pelosi's looks with Irma Bunt or Rosa Klebb but their names weren't offensive enough.


· · · · ·

Perhaps the West could learn a few things from Asia

by: Peter of Lone Tree

For one thing: How to handle shame, disgrace, and humiliation:
AP "Embattled SKorean ex-president jumps to his death"
"Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun — whose hard-won reputation as a corruption fighter was tarnished by bribery allegations that drew in his family and closest associates — jumped to his death Saturday while hiking in the mountains behind his rural home. He was 62.

"After leaving his family a suicide note, Roh threw himself off a steep cliff around 6:40 a.m., police and lawyer Moon Jae-in said in the southern port city of Busan."
22 May 2009

Too many captions...

by: Father Tyme

...not only Denmark, Marcellus!
New can...same old smell!
Caution: Contents under pressure, may not work properly when used in private.
We're gonna need a bigger can...

Hey Hon! You got a different kind? The "Yes We 'Can' doesn't seem to live up to its billing!"

Never Thought I'd Say Something Like This

by: Debra

I know I'm past the age of reproduction (unlike some other crazy people) but can I have his babies?
"If you look at the big picture, the terrorists are winning. Not on the battlefield, but in the sense that they are changing us and who we are. The way to make them not successful is not to change. We've changed in so many ways -- the majority have no problem that we are torturing people... I've been water-boarded and I speak from experience and it's torture."

"They've changed us in that we have a paranoia that there's a crazy Arab around every tree... We're walking on eggshells now. When in reality, you have as much chance of running into a terrorist as winning the Powerball."


Ventura also blames the Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "They condoned it. Nobody stepped forward and said this is torture. Democrats are so spineless, so afraid to go against the tide... but dissension is the greatest form of patriotism."
If only our current politicians had cojones and weren't afraid to admit it.


· · ·

Let Us Remember on the morrow...

by: Peter of Lone Tree

...the Lady who wrote these lines:
"As the flowers are all made sweeter: by the sunshine and the dew,
So this old world is made brighter: by the lives of folks like you."

(Current Events): It's Party Time this weekend in Bienville Parish.

Raw Story On Sy Hersh Story

by: Foiled Goil

Hersh did not say Cheney ordered Bhutto assassination

Stephen C. Webster, Raw Story
In a telephone conversation with RAW STORY, Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh refuted reports that he told an Arab television network that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. [snip]

Hersh told RAW STORY Investigative News Editor Larisa Alexandrovna that he made no such statements. [snip]

The only Arab television channel to interview Hersh recently is Gulf News, which spoke to him during the Arab Media Forum in Dubai. In the interview, Hersh does not even mention Bhutto’s name, but does condemn former Vice President Cheney for running an “executive assassination ring” which carried out operations all over the world.

A video of Hersh speaking to Gulf News reporter Abbas Al Lawati is available on the Internet.

“In Cheney’s view this isn’t murder, but carrying out the ‘war on terror,’” he said. “And in the view of me and my friends, including people in government, this is crazy. The vice president is committing a crime. You can’t authorize the murder of people. And it’s not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s in a lot of other countries, in the Middle East and in South Asia and North Africa and even central America.”

Hersh originally alleged Cheney oversaw the activities of an assassination ring while speaking at the University of Minnesota in March.

Related post

· ·
21 May 2009

Cheney: False To Fact And Reason

by: Foiled Goil

Cheney’s speech false to fact and reason - Video
May 21: In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann marvels at former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense of the Bush administration torture practices while avoiding taking any responsibility for them. [ 8:19 ]

Countdown with Keith Olbermann - Special Comment
Former vice president made delusional claims about national security

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment about Mr. Cheney's speech. Neurotic. Paranoid. False to fact and false to reason. Forever self-rationalizing. His inner rage at his own impotence and failure dripping from every word and as irrational, as separated from the real world, as dishonest, as insane, as any terrorist.

The former vice president has today humiliated himself beyond redemption.

The delusional claims he has made this day could be proved by documentation and first-hand testimony to be the literal truth, and still he himself would be wrong, because the America he sought to impose upon the world and upon its own citizens, the dark hateful place of Dick Cheney's own soul, the place he to this hour defends and to this day prefers, is a repudiation of all that our ancestors, all that for which our brave troops of 200 years ago and two minutes ago, have sacrificed and fought.

I do have to congratulate you, Sir. No man living or dead could have passed the buck more often than you did in 35 minutes this morning.


· ·

Entertainment Only

by: Debra

I am ever so glad I don't watch America Idol.  I've seen a few minutes of it here and there when it ran long and interfered with Lie To Me or Fringe.  I saw Adam Lambert's rendition of the Tears For Fears/Gary Jules song Mad World and it brought out the goosebumps.  I also got to see his Robert Plant performance and being a Led Zeppelin fan I have to say I was impressed.  The other guy, not so much.  Every time I saw him he was either screeching or hit a flat note.  Last night's decision ensures that I will never watch the show because it isn't about talent and whether or not I would buy their music in the future, it's about the story.  Kris Allen can follow all the other winners into boring oblivion and Adam Lambert can front a rock band that I would be interested in listening to because his voice is great.  Hopefully Adam can use Jennifer Hudson as inspiration and Kris will follow the path of Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks.  To nowhere.

Since I'm on the subject of entertainment how about those upfronts?  Network television is going to be so bad next year that they are going to be ripe to be replaced by TNT and USA.  The Closer, Leverage, In Plain Sight and Burn Notice could make a killing against the network offerings.

ABC couldn't do much damage to itself because there were very few shows that I watched after they canceled Life On Mars.  I like Castle (Nathan Fillion, yum) and they picked that up but they didn't renew The Unusuals, a very quirky show that I enjoyed very much.  I might watch Flash Forward and the reincarnation of V (Alan Tudyk, another yum) then ABC runs out of things to watch.

NBC is almost toast.  Jay Leno five nights a week at ten o'clock?  Not on my tv.  Heroes at 8 and Chuck isn't back until after the Winter Olympics which means late February or early March.  And they literally have nothing else to offer me since I don't watch sitcoms.  I might catch Law and Order on Friday night but it's at 8, how much fun can that be?

The CBS schedule also has major problems.  Other than 60 Minutes, The Mentalist, Numb3rs and the alphabet shows they also have nothing.  And seriously, how many procedurals can one watch?  Medium and Ghost Whisperer (aren't they the same show?) before Numb3rs, what were they thinking?

Fox held up the best but that isn't really saying much.  They canceled the Sarah Connor Chronicles (no more Summer Glau, you might think I was a Firefly fan or something) and replaced it with comedy before Dollhouse.  There's a match made in heaven.  Not.  Lie to Me (only 13 episodes so far) and Fringe (without Kirk Acevedo) will be back, no mention of 24 and then they run out of things I'm interested in.

Does anybody watch the CW?  Melrose Place?  I didn't watch the first version. Once they canceled Everwood and Veronica Mars the CW dropped off my radar.  Seriously, this is the weakest schedule I have ever seen.  Netflix is going to hate me next year, usually I only watch a couple of videos a month, next year looks like five or six per week.

Yup, it's looking pretty sad, no wonder they are bleeding viewers.  A few years ago there were conflicts almost every night of the week, this year I won't need a dual DVR unless TNT and USA schedule extra episodes to take advantage of the lack of competition.


· · ·

Gingrich on Pelosi, History on Gingrich

by: Dark Wraith

Newt Gingrich, Two-FaceWriting for the Right-wing magazine Human Events, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for the resignation of current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi has claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency did not brief her on specific methods of interrogation that are being labeled as torture by many legal scholars, human rights activists, and others, despite representations by the CIA and multiple sources within the agency that she and other top-ranking Democrats were given a "virtual tour" of secret prisons as early as 2002. The CIA has also pointed out that its top officials briefed Congress in 2005, but Pelosi has said that Congress was misled by what was disclosed, and she has gone further to say that this incident is not unique in the agency's history of informing Congress.

Gingrich's attacks this week are just the latest in a series of salvos thrown at Pelosi by Republicans, although those by Gingrich, now a private citizen, seem to be as much for the benefit of his personal desire to stay in the spotlight and remain influential in the politics of the Republican Party as they are an attempt to take Pelosi to task for material wrongs she may have committed.

In his Human Events piece, Gingrich writes: "She charged that the CIA, deliberately and as a matter of policy, violated the law by lying to Congress... Speaker Pelosi has damaged America's safety..."

Interviewed on Wednesday, May 20, on the ABC News show "Good Morning, America," Gingrich pressed forward: "If you were a CIA agent today and you were told to brief Nancy Pelosi, how could you have any sense of confidence in telling her anything?"

It is worth noting that Mr. Gingrich, playing his role as the sage greybeard of American politics and national security, has a selective memory when it comes to the CIA and the history of its relations with politics. In the run-up to the 2003 American attack on Iraq, the Bush Administration and its allies had to find a reason for waging a war of aggression against a nation that had not been involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Creating and using justifications for such a war required both the construction of intelligence and the silencing of critics, and Gingrich was involved in both ends of the campaign.

Non-official cover spy Valerie Plame was outed by White House officials because her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, had written a column in which he exposed as a fabrication a key piece of evidence President Bush and other Administration officials were using to justify the invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. Wilson had been tasked to Africa by CIA personnel to investigate the authenticity of a document that appeared to render evidence of an attempt by Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, to acquire "yellowcake," a raw material that can be refined to make fissile, weapons-grade uranium. Wilson found — and ultimately disclosed publicly — that the document was a forgery and that White House officials knew it was, but had used it as evidence, anyway.

In 2005, during the investigation into who at the White House disclosed to columnist Robert Novak that Plame was a spy, Newt Gingrich participated in the media campaign to discredit former ambassador Wilson, calling him a liar and citing as the basis for such outrageous slander a Senate report in which an addendum critical of Wilson had been rammed in by Republicans Pat Roberts, Kit Bond, and Orrin Hatch. In fact, Wilson would later write that Gingrich, himself, attended a meeting of certain White House officials, where plans were laid out to do a profile on the former ambassador. Gingrich, through a spokesman, subsequently dismissed the accusation.

Regardless of whether or not he was at the White House to develop the plan to discredit Wilson, a plan that ultimately led to publicly exposing Wilson's wife as an American spy, Newt Gingrich was quite obviously, by his media appearance, fully involved in the work of justifying the destruction of Plame and the consequential, catastrophic compromise of her intelligence-gathering work on trade in weapons of mass destruction, which put in jeopardy her entire contingent of informers, contacts, and other assets.

Gingrich's interference in CIA activities did not begin with serving as a public voice defending the destruction of Valerie Plame. As a Pentagon consultant after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Newt Gingrich went to CIA headquarters at Langley to join in Vice President Dick Cheney's efforts to bully young intelligence specialists into shaping their conclusions to comport with the desire of the White House to construct a case for waging war against Iraq. The very appearance of men like Cheney and Gingrich where the insular intelligence analysts were working had the effect of conveying in no uncertain terms what they were to find from the intelligence data being delivered to them for study. In the end, any nuances in their conclusions passed up the line as information products for congressional and media consumption were swept aside, and the case against Saddam Hussein appeared to end users clear and unambiguous, which it most decidedly was not.

In brief summary, then, below are a few issues for readers to consider about Mr. Gingrich, a man who now stands morally outraged, demanding the resignation of the current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Newt Gingrich: The former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives who joined the Republican chorus to defame the man whose wife, a non-official cover CIA operative, was wrecked by Bush Administration officials.

Newt Gingrich: The Pentagon consultant who worked with the discredited Office of Special Plans — described by a career military officer as bereft of "good order and discipline" — and in that dubious role used his credentials as a former leader of Congress to gain access to some of the inner-most working groups at CIA headquarters, where he went to the analysts there with the clear intention of pressuring them to distort their findings to wage a war that, in reality, had no justification whatsoever.

Newt Gingrich: A pundit hack who now charges that "Pelosi has damaged America's safety" after he, himself, sounded low notes for the disgraceful chorus that defended outing a CIA spy, and after he, himself, participated in systematically building the scaffold of lies that led America to the monumental stupidity of fighting a worthless war that will cost trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives by the time it is over.

Newt Gingrich: a two-faced, partisan hypocrite of the very worst kind.

Newt Gingrich: a modern Republican.

And, yes, the inherent redundancy of those last two was intentional.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · · ·
20 May 2009

Digital Landscape 1

by: Dark Wraith

I published this over at The Dark Wraith Forums last night and decided awhile ago that I should cross-post it here for those who avoid the rather dark motif of the flagship site of Dark Wraith Publishing. I have completed my teaching duties for Spring Semester 2009, so early last evening I set myself to the earnest work of wasting the night — a couple of hours of it, anyway — creating a digital landscape painting in Photoshop CS4.

Another Place

Click on the picture to see a larger, visually more satisfying version in the lightbox. This is an entirely digital rendering of what I saw in my mind's eye. To the best of my knowledge, no place in the real universe looks like this.

Art is wonderful: you can see what the artist sees, even if the artist had never himself seen it even with his own eyes before he rendered it.

For those with broadband and a good monitor and video card, the full-sized graphic, at 1900 x 900 pixels and 600 dpi, can be viewed by clicking here.

Anyway, I thought it would be nice to share the product of my ill-spent evening with readers at several of my sites, all while providing evidence that the myth of "left brain/right brain" is just plain nonsense. Math, economics, finance, physics; digital art, photography, music, writing — they are all nothing more than ways to express that within us to those beyond us and, in so doing, to bind us in the wonder of that which is at once our individual lives, alone, and our collective lives, shared.

And just as our expressive ways, means, and modalities are nothing more than that, they are most definitely nothing less.

The Dark Wraith hopes the audience here at Big Brass Blog enjoys the pretty picture.

· ·

Wallowing In The Suckiness

by: Debra

Almost every year of my life my birthday has sucked and yesterday was no exception.  The two weeks preceding and the week following are usually an exercise in what can go wrong, does.  Out of 53 birthdays only four have pleasant memories attached, the day is a total waste as far as I'm concerned.

Yesterday started out badly and ended the same way.  I had a couple of dollars stashed away to do something nice for myself but when I went and checked my balance it was zero.  Actually it was less than zero.  Not only did the Franchise Tax Board attach a levy to my account with no notice and no paperwork to me, the Bank of America charged me $100 for processing paperwork I haven't even seen and they said they won't give it back even if the FTB determines that I'm a hardship case. B of A sucks hind tit and if I ever have money again I'm going to a community bank.

So, while I was checking into donating plasma for cash (they advertise in the part time jobs section on Craigslist) someone called about my car for sale.  We chatted, I gave him directions and he said he would be here in half an hour, that was at 12:46 pm.  I'm still waiting.  A few minutes later a woman called and asked about the car and if she could see it today.  I said yes and explained that it was my birthday and that I had things to do.  She said she would be here within the hour and didn't show up until after five. She and her boyfriend looked at the car, said she didn't bring the money with her and could she get back to me in an hour.  I'm still waiting.  Obviously I never made it to the plasma center yesterday which is only delaying the inevitable.

If it wasn't for the computer I wouldn't have had any birthday wishes at all.  KFOG sent me a happy birthday sung by KT Tunstall, AMC offered me a free large drink if I attended the movies but they have no theaters in Nevada, Red Robin sent me a coupon for a free burger, a market survey company sent me a virtual candle and Lance sent me an electronic card.  Neither brother was heard from and mom not only didn't know it was my birthday, but she thought I was born August 19, 1965.  It truly does suck when the woman who gave birth to you doesn't remember when she did it.  It won't be long before she forgets who I am and then I can put her in a home with a clear conscience.

I made dinner, watched some tv and for the first time since my divorce 29 years ago, cried myself to sleep.  For all of about an hour and then I tossed and turned for the rest of the night.  I've never questioned why Blackdog did what he did because I understand all too well how one can be pushed to the edge.  53 years on this planet and I have nothing to show for it except debt that is never going to go away.

Oh yeah, as of yesterday my acupuncture license passed into oblivion and the only thing I have to show for the four years of school is a $100,000 loan that accumulates more interest every second and that I will never earn enough to pay it off.

And the cherry on top?  Nothing has changed for the better in this country since the election.  The names and faces may have changed but the policies are still the same.  Who would have ever thought that Jesse Ventura would be the shining light in today's political landscape?  The only laugh I had yesterday was watching the clip of him on Inanity's show.  If only more politicians had cojones like that I wouldn't fear so much for my country.

I'm going back into hiding now as a smaller target is harder to hit and it will probably be another week before the bad mojo wears off and life can return to some semblance of...whatever. 

19 May 2009

Senate Passes Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights

by: Foiled Goil

UPDATE: May 20, 2009:

The House passed the final version of H.R. 627 this afternoon and the bill is on its way to President Obama.

- - - - -

Credit Card Bill Passes Senate Overwhelmingly
The Senate voted on Tuesday to prohibit credit card companies from arbitrarily raising a person's interest rate and charging many of the exorbitant fees that have become customary _ and crippling _ to cash-strapped consumers.

The overwhelming bipartisan vote of 90-5 was lawmakers' way of telling Americans that they haven't been forgotten amid a recession that has left hundreds of thousands jobless or facing foreclosure.

With the House on track to endorse the measure by week's end, President Barack Obama could see a bill on his desk by the end of the week.

"Today is a victory for all credit cardholders," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who had sponsored a similar measure that passed the House earlier this month.

If enacted into law as expected, the credit card industry would have nine months to change the way it does business: Lenders would have to post their credit card agreements on the Internet and let customers pay their bills online or by phone without an added fee. They'd also have to give consumers a chance to spare themselves from over-the-limit fees and provide 45 days notice and an explanation before interest rates are increased.

Some of these changes are already on track to take effect in July 2010, under new rules being imposed by the Federal Reserve. But the Senate bill would put the changes into law and go further in restricting the types of bank fees and who can get a card.


Title: To amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan, and for other purposes.

Roll Call 194:

Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009

Vote Counts:

YEAs 90 — NAYs 5 — Not Voting 4

Retribution! Credit Card Companies Plan to Start Gouging Their Best Customers
I have to laugh at this transparent ploy: Let us keep our usurious interest rates, Senator, or your American Express card is gonna get it! Apparently the fine folks of the credit card industry seem to believe they have an inherent right to obscene profits. Uh, ixnay, fellas. Usury is not only a sin, it's bad economic practice. Legislators have a right to control your out-of-control industry because credit has become something akin to a necessary public utility - especially when people can't even get a job due to a poor credit rating.

Seems to me it's time these companies learned to trim their expectations to fit current reality. I wonder if credit card executives have been asked to take off one day a week to save their company a day's pay?
Credit cards have long been a very good deal for people who pay their bills on time and in full. Even as card companies imposed punitive fees and penalties on those late with their payments, the best customers racked up cash-back rewards, frequent-flier miles and other perks in recent years.

Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry. And to make up for lost income, the card companies are going after those people with sterling credit.

· · · ·

Bush's Torture Fails

by: Foiled Goil

Why Bush’s ‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Program Failed

Download a pdf of this report HERE


• Military, Intelligence Experts: Info From Enhanced Techniques Is Unreliable
• The Interrogations Of Zubaydah And KSM: Enhanced Techniques Produced No Actionable Intelligence
• Enhanced Interrogations Led To False Claims Of Iraq/Al Qaeda Link

• Enhanced Interrogations Recruits Terrorists
• Enhanced Interrogations Puts American Soldiers At Risk
• Enhanced Interrogations Ruin Credibility Of Intelligence Agencies
• Enhanced Interrogations Strain Alliances
• Interrogations Ruined America’s Moral Authority
• Enhanced Interrogations Makes Terrorists Unprosecutable

• Enhanced Techniques Derived From Ineffective Communist Tactics

Military, Intelligence Experts: Info From Enhanced Techniques Is Unreliable

• Gen. Petraeus: Torture yields information ‘of questionable value.’

• FBI warns military interrogators: Enhanced techniques are ‘of questionable effectiveness.’

• FBI cites ‘lack of evidence of [enhanced techniques’] success.’

• Army JAG: ‘I don’t think [torture] is all that effective.’

• Special Ops Interrogator: ‘Enhanced’ interrogation causes detainees to ‘shut up.’

• FBI Special Agent Jack Cloonan: Rapport-building method yields better results.

• Military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency [JPRA] cautioned enhanced program produces unreliable intelligence.

• Army Intelligence Officer Col. Herrington: Enhanced techniques endanger intelligence collection.

• Army psychologist: Enhanced techniques ‘do not work’ in intelligence-gathering.

• Army psychologist: Rapport techniques produce better intelligence.

• FBI to Gitmo Commander: Gitmo techniques are ‘highly skeptical.’

• SERE specialist: Stress positions ‘are not effective’ for gaining intelligence.

• FBI Director Robert Meuller: Enhanced techniques haven’t prevented any attacks.

The Interrogations Of Zubaydah And KSM: Enhanced Techniques Produced No Actionable Intelligence

• FBI’s Jack Cloonan: Zubaydah and KSM gave only ‘pabulum.’

• CIA Official: CIA interrogations of KSM produced ‘total f*cking bullsh*t.’

• FBI Interrogator Ali Soufan: Torturing Zubaydah was unnecessary.

• Zubaydah revealed KSM’s Identity BEFORE being tortured.

• CIA enhanced techniques ‘changed the tenor’ of Zubaydah’s interrogation.

• FBI’s Soufan: CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ destroyed progress with Zubaydah; traditional methods provided ‘important actionable intelligence.’

• Soufan: Enhanced techniques on Zubaydah produced ‘no actionable intelligence.’

• Soufan: Padilla, KSM, other plots disclosed through regular interrogation, NOT torture.

• Zubaydah made false confessions after enhanced interrogation.

Enhanced Interrogations Led To False Claims Of Iraq/Al Qaeda Link

• Enhanced techniques led to false Iraq/AQ link claims.

• Interrogators resorted to ‘enhanced techniques’ after ‘pressure’ to find Iraq/Al Qaeda link.

Enhanced Interrogations Recruits Terrorists

• FBI’s Jack Cloonan: ‘Revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack’ is possible.

• Sen. McCain: Torture is al Qaeda’s best recruitment tool.

Enhanced Interrogations Puts American Soldiers At Risk

• Special Operations interrogator: Torture policies ‘directly and swiftly recruiting’ al Qaeda fighters.

• Army JAG: Enhanced techniques ‘has not made it safer’ for captured U.S. soldiers.

• Navy general counsel: Torture is 1st and 2nd cause of death for U.S. troops.

• JAGs: Enhanced techniques endangers U.S. soldiers.

• Joint Forces Command JAG: Enhanced techniques threatens soldiers in the field.

Enhanced Interrogations Ruin Credibility Of Intelligence Agencies

• Torture rebuilt ‘Chinese wall’ between FBI and CIA, making Americans less safe.

• Enhanced interrogation destroys reputation of CIA, making Americans less safe.

• Enhanced techniques program created wedge between military officials and Bush administration/CIA.

• Bad intelligence wastes FBI’s time following false leads.

Enhanced Interrogations Strain Alliances

• Enhanced tactics strain alliances and threatens intelligence-sharing.

• FBI: Torture makes allies less willing to work with us.

Interrogations Ruined America’s Moral Authority

• Gen. Petraeus: U.S. must occupy ‘the moral high ground.’

• Military Intelligence Officer: ‘We need to…remember who we are.’

• Army JAG: U.S. has always set the moral standard.

• Colin Powell: Torture has made people ‘question whether we’re following our own high standards.’

• America’s negative reputation ‘strengthens the hand of our enemies.’

Enhanced Interrogations Makes Terrorists Unprosecutable

• Bush official forced to suspect suspect’s trial after deeming he was tortured.

• Enhanced interrogations make Guantanamo detainees ineligible for prosecution.

Enhanced Techniques Derived From Ineffective Communist Tactics

• Enhanced techniques taken from Communists’ methods that had ‘wrung false confessions’ from Americans.

• 1950s study concluded techniques made prisoners ‘malleable and suggestible.’

• Whole purpose of SERE training was to resist Communist tactics.

• British understood that physical violence was ‘unintelligent’ and useless in gaining information.

· ·

The Reverend C. Welton Gaddy

by: Dark Wraith

With sincere thanks to contributing writer konagod, who published this video at his home blog, I offer the Baptist minister C. Welton Gaddy, who is being interviewed on MSNBC by Keith Olbermann about the recent revelation that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld adorned the covers of his briefings for President George W. Bush with biblical quotes, apparently with the intention of conflating the American invasion of Iraq with a particular version of Christian theological values.

If ever there was a man who breaks the stereotype of the fire breathing Fundamentalist southern Baptist minister, Dr. Gaddy is that individual. The mainstream media largely ignore this preacher's on-going message and ministry in favor of the extremists of the Christian Right and thereby do a great disservice to public understanding of the extraordinary scope of theological debate that is and always has been a part not just of Christianity, but also of Judaism and Islam. Media focus upon the extremists of religions foments more than mere misunderstanding: it profoundly legitimizes the violent, ignorant, and bellicose who hide behind religion to justify their deeply wrong, hateful thinking.

Donald Rumsfeld dared to quote religious text to justify, validate, and bolster support for a war waged because wholesale lies were crafted, told, and repeated.

For his part in waging that war, Donald Rumsfeld is reprehensible. For his use of his chosen religion to justify what he was doing, he is disgraceful.

Listen to the preacher. He's pretty darned good when it comes to theology.

Watch the video at YouTube

· · · ·
18 May 2009

Too Weird Not to Share

by: Dark Wraith

I shall leave for another day the fine point that Stephen Hawking is an icon of a cultist movement that has taken a branch of science (and a fair amount of public funds for science) in a pseudo-religious direction. Its adherents are every bit as dogmatic, insular, and parochial as their counterparts in Fundamentalist religious groups, and their methods and mentality sometimes, and in critical ways, have as much to do with traditional science as the rituals of the Christian neo-Pentacostalists have to do with righteousness. They see only what they want to see; and once born again into the movement, nothing else could possibly be right... even though the theories of Hawking, himself, have generated hypotheses quite at odds with empirical evidence collected in experiments not governed by the very nature of quantum mechanics and its reliance upon perceptual tautologies it vaunts as validation.

But I shall leave that whole matter for another day... perhaps for a day when a Q-mech jock wanders in here to kick me in the shins.

The video is fun to watch.

Watch the MC Hawkings video on YouTube

· ·

Fraud Enforcement / Recovery Act Passed

by: Foiled Goil

Congress gives final OK to mortgage fraud bill
The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval on Monday to a bill that will create an independent commission to investigate the cause of the U.S. economic meltdown and give federal prosecutors more legal clout and staff to crack down on financial fraud.

On a vote of 338-52, the House passed the bill, which the Senate had previously approved. It now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law within days, a Democratic leadership aide said. [snip]

The bill extends anti-fraud legislation to cover Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, stimulus money and extends mortgage fraud law to all mortgage lending businesses.

The legislation is also designed to step up the battle against white-collar crime. Mortgage fraud is believed to have been a significant factor in the U.S. subprime mortgage collapse and subsequent international financial downturn.

The bill authorizes $165 million for each of the next two fiscal years to investigate fraud, with much of the money going to the Justice Department -- in particular, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Title: An Act to improve enforcement of mortgage fraud, securities and commodities fraud, financial institution fraud, and other frauds related to Federal assistance and relief programs, for the recovery of funds lost to these frauds, and for other purposes.

Roll Call 268:

Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act

Vote Totals 338 — 52 — 43

· · · ·

Seymour Hersh Drops Another Bomb Shell

by: Foiled Goil

Now here's a wtf moment:

'US special squad killed Benazir'

The Nation (pk):

Former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on the orders of the special death squad formed by former US vice-president Dick Cheney, which had already killed the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafique Al Hariri and the army chief of that country.

The squad was headed by General Stanley McChrystal, the newly-appointed commander of US army in Afghanistan. It was disclosed by reputed US journalist Seymour Hersh while talking to an Arab TV in an interview.

Hersh said former US vice-president Cheney was the chief of the Joint Special Operation Command and he clear [sic] the way for the US by exterminating opponents through the unit and the CIA. General Stanley was the in-charge of the unit.

Seymour also said that Rafiq Al Hariri and the Lebanese army chief were murdered for not safeguarding the US interests and refusing US setting up military bases in Lebanon. Ariel Sharon, the then prime minister of Israel, was also a key man in the plot.

A number of websites around the world are suspecting the same unit for killing of Benazir Bhutto because in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on November 2, 2007, she had mentioned the assassination of Usama Bin Laden, Seymour said. According to BB, Umar Saeed Sheikh murdered Usama, but her words were washed out from the David Frosts report, he said.

The US journalist opined that it might have been done on purpose because the US leadership did not like to declare Usama dead for in the case the justification of the presence of US army in Afghanistan could no more be there, hence no reason for operation against Taliban.
UPDATE - May 22, 2009: See story update

· ·
17 May 2009

Forced Nudity as Subjugation

by: Dark Wraith

Iraqi DetaineeNew pictures of the abuse of detainees in the Middle East are starting to trickle out, as offered in a link from Peter of Lone Tree's latest post here at Big Brass Blog. As noted in a comment by contributing writer Debra, these photographs seem relatively mild, principally because they appear to show nothing more than Arab men naked.

Iraqi DetaineeDespite what might at first glance seem like nothing more than soft-core pornography, those pictures carry large subtext that spans Islam, American culture, and the chasm that exists between ourselves and those we harm.

Throughout history and across cultures, forced nudity has been a common and widely practiced form of subjugation against both men and women. As I commented on another blog some time back, it is still used to this day as a means of establishing control over those forced to display their genitals.

It is practiced (or, at the very least, it used to be) in the military during basic training; it is used by law enforcement personnel, especially in the penal system; and it is used widely, routinely, and ritualistically in hospitals and other medical settings. Its purpose, notwithstanding claims to the contrary, is subjugation: the person forced to be naked is reduced, made vulnerable, and psychologically (and physically) put at disadvantage.

Iraqi DetaineeA considerable percentage of pornography involves nudity of females with the purpose of sexually arousing men by the humiliation the women are supposed to be enduring. Female pornographic actresses often feign embarrassment (as well as ludicrously contorted, surprised, and pained looks on their faces) specifically to enhance the appearance of degradation through which they are being put. To many men, this is erotic. In a patriarchal society, women are supposed to learn to associate their own involuntary nudity with eroticism only because they are taught to define their sexuality in terms of the effectiveness with which they can arouse men.

Iraqi DetaineeGovernment authorities now allegedly, routinely — with no reserve at all — force people, both men and women, into compromises of dignity in public settings. The Transportation Safety Administration supposedly uses clothing penetrating scanners at airports, and this has become common knowledge among air travelers, at least by assumption. You are being seen nude, your genitals are on display, and your right to the privacy of your very body is removed without even the slightest concern for your sentiments, religious convictions, or possible protestations. That this is done by strangers is all the more important as a means of control of people about to board airplanes. The theory (unstated and subject to righteously indignant denials) is that this subliminally degrading experience assists in docilization, much the same way as forcing prisoners to be naked is supposed to subdue them.

The forced nudity in the pictures of detainees being abused is quite a bit worse, however. Unlike Christianity — in which most of the practitioners have become quite loose and liberal in their beliefs, taboos, and ritualistic, everyday lives (and this applies every bit as much to Evangelicals and some Fundamentalists) — a considerable percentage of Muslims adhere operationally more closely to traditional values. That is not to say there is some extraordinary uniformity in Islam. There is not; in some tribal regions of Aghanistan, for example, the use of very young boys for sex acts is well documented, but this is most decidedly a cultural tradition, not a mainstream, religiously sanctioned activity. Exceptions like that aside, in mainstream Islam, there really is a better articulation from early childhood of what is and what is not religiously acceptable. A Muslim mother would be far more likely to tell her son from early on that his penis is not something he should display nor even touch in many circumstances. This does not mean he will not, especially in his years when his body and his will are at war within, but what it does mean is that he will know when he does that it is not a good thing. In American culture, male hierarchical structures have gone so over the top that we now accept as somehow "correct" and "healthy" that penises can be touched. Most Americans would accept a male child touching his penis as somehow acceptable, if maybe a little embarrassing. The idea has become pervasive that harshly, consistently reprimanding a boy for "being a boy" will psychologically damage him.

Rock Star with Phallic SymbolAlthough we have residuals of aversion in American culture to penis display, the perception of the penis as good is pervasive. Virtually every rock musician uses an electric guitar as a blunt symbol of an erect penis being masturbated, and the brandishing of firearms in popular television shows and movies is nothing other than metaphorical penis display in its "natural" context of violence, competition for dominance, and the prospect of death (and, therefore, reproductive denial) for the loser.

We have gotten to the point where women actually believe that sucking on a man's penis is something other than her voluntary submission to a man's will so completely that she is willing to engage in what the man understands very well is an unsanitary act meant to degrade, debase, and dehumanize her. Fellatio is, in its culmination of ejaculating on her face or down her throat, meant to make her dirty enough to be called whatever the man wants to call her in his own mind and to his friends, should he so choose.

Very few people in our culture would entirely agree with what I wrote in that last paragraph, and many would take greater or lesser exception to what I wrote in prior paragraphs about American culture's sexual desensitization. I would submit that this is very much part of why we in this culture cannot understand the awfulness of how peoples of other cultures are affected by things we consider routine and even okay. We "get over it," even when it is bad for our deepest well-being. Rock Star with Phallic SymbolWe celebrate the bad, we laugh at cruelty, we play feigned shock and titillation with sex. We even put on parade the Lolita look of the shaved vulva and the emaciated, pubescent-looking female ice skaters in tiny costumes, all while soothing our consciences with blanket bans on pictures of nude, under-aged females and stories of shocking, shocking pedophiles hunted down. But then what do we do? — We prowl the Web to see just how much of Miss California's titties she actually showed in those Victoria's Secrets photos she did when she was all of 17 years old.

Turn our heads? Heck, no. We might miss something good.

Many of the men in those detainee abuse pictures were not brought up with that cacophony of mixed messages that defines the American way. Those Arab men were told by their mothers not to look at naked people and not to touch themselves down there. They were always told to keep themselves modest, and to do as Allah bids.

For some of them, that last directive is why they are detainees: they were in battle for Allah, and we Americans were on the other side of that fight.

What we did to them in captivity has served quite well to prove to them that they were right.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

· · · ·
16 May 2009

The whole barrel is rotten.

by: Peter of Lone Tree

via I'm A Pimpin Turtle comes

Sardonic Satire

by: Father Tyme

To view this image full size, go to

FT's Pix

This IS sardonic satire!
Any semblance to real life events of people is probably unintended.

The Resurrection of the Hitler Youth

by: Peter of Lone Tree

NY Times:
Explorer Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More
Refer to "Holy Joe" of course for the real details.
"IMPERIAL, Calif. — Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

"The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

"It is all quite a step up from the square knot.

"The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters."

15 May 2009

You. Were. Warned.

by: Dark Wraith

Behind the Mask After having suspended the secret military tribunal system authorized and used by his predecessor in office, President Barack Obama has now announced that he is authorizing the reconstitution and recommencement of that widely condemned means of trying accused terrorism suspects.

Those tribunals are the mockery of justice where "judges" wear hoods, hide behind curtains, routinely rule defense evidence inadmissible, defense witnesses uncallable, and routine defense tactics unacceptable. Their names are not known, their motives are not subject to scrutiny, and their backgrounds are not subject to civilian review.

Those "courts" have no obligation to recognize stare decisis. Decisions begin and end in a set of statutory laws, rules of evidence, and procedural standards upon which even the highest civilian court in the land has deferred in judicial review.

Those "laws" upon which the accused are judged are created not through democratic legislative processes, but rather by martial command structures.

And this is a system of "justice" within the United States of America that President Barack Obama has now endorsed and brought back to life.




Remember those promises?

Yeah. Right.

Then again, maybe we should give the man a chance: after all, it's way too early to be judging him.

Again: Yeah. Right.

I warned you. Over and over again, I warned you about Barack Hussein Obama.

But, hey, the guy threw $787 billion in economic stimulus to the People! Right?

And, hey, he's still talking about a single-payer healthcare system so everybody can have those meds and those ridiculously expensive, high-technology procedures done for free! Right?

And, hey, he's still a LIBERAL! Right?!

One more time: Yeah. Right.

You want his miracle elixir? Enjoy the chaser of poison.

Over and over again, I warned readers about this man. As a short, visual reminder, below is one of my graphics.

President 2.0

We now have what seems to be a highly competent man in the Oval Office. On that score, we should certainly find reason for comfort.

In that office, now, we might very well also have the best leader this nation has to offer.

On that score, we should certainly find reason for great concern.

Regardless, though, one thing is quite certain: You. Were. Warned.

One more time.

You. Were. Warned.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

14 May 2009

Spin, Baby Spin

by: Debra

Why don't they ever ask me?  While I believe in the right to bear arms, I don't believe in the right to own assault weapons and I also believe that gun owners should have background checks and a psychological evaluation.  Guns don't kill people, people do and guns make it easier.  Or has everyone missed all the multiple shootings lately?  How many people need to be outfitted like Michael Gross and Reba McIntyre in Tremors?

You know what's impractical?  Having health insurance when one doesn't have a job and it doesn't look like one will be appearing any time in the near future.  I just love how the powers that be in Washington think that a single payer system isn't viable while they benefit from having government paid healthcare.  That we the taxpayers provide.

Four months into his presidency and Obama is revealing his true colors, pretty much like I warned before he was elected.  Like every other career politician all he's interested in is protecting the status quo, in other words he got elected and is now reneging on almost every campaign promise lie.  Guantanamo is still open and doesn't look like it is going to close anytime soon, afraid to release the torture photos that everyone including the terrorists knows exist, not willing to investigate or prosecute anyone involved in authorizing or committing torture, caving on health care, etc.  He's Bush 2.0, the dark version.

I made a comment last week on Big Brass Blog that one of the upsides of being financially destitute was that I no longer received credit card offers.  And ever since I've been receiving at least two a day through email.  First Premier sent me one a few minutes ago titled "Giving me a second chance at the credit card I've been waiting for."  I'm not waiting for a credit card, I'm looking for a job.  One that will let me pay my bills, such as the cell phone that is temporarily disconnected.  Which is making it really hard to find a job since I can only be reached by email.  Now I have to hope that I don't need to call an ambulance for mom.

I don't believe Pelosi any more than I do Cheney.  These guys really do believe that Americans are stupid and will say anything to stay in power.  Anything.  Spin, baby spin.


· · · · ·

Headlines of the Day:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

(With beginning text):

Owners struggle to find sanctuaries for chimps
Russ Cochran fondly recalls the fun he had with his chimpanzee when the animal was younger, taking him for rides in the car and to his cabin on the river. Boaters would stop to see Sammy, who would jump in canoes and help himself to food and drinks from the cooler.

Bushes Buy Home in Ritzy Dallas Suburb
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush have bought a home among business leaders and prominent Republican donors in an affluent North Dallas neighborhood....

"All's Well That Ends Well."

13 May 2009

Senate Votes On Credit Card Usury

by: Foiled Goil

Credit card companies piling on fees, raising rates ahead of new federal rules
It appears that credit card issuers are insisting upon exercising their right to abuse their customers in the name of higher profits. A survey of recent activities by the top eight credit card issuers reveals that since the Federal Reserve announced rule changes designed to curb unfair credit card industry practices last December, the companies have implemented even more onerous practices, raised interest rates more aggressively and increased the number of fees that they can impose on their customers.

The Center For Responsible Lending (CRL) released its findings on Monday and according to the report, Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), Capital One (COF), HSBC (HBC), Discover (DFS), American Express (AXP) and Well Fargo (WFC) have each increased interest rates on existing balances for many of their account holders on an "any time, any reason" basis within the last six months. This practice will be illegal under the new Fed rules which take affect in July 2010. The CRL estimates that at least 10 million card holders have been affected, and some have seen increases of 10 percentage points or more on their existing rate at a time when many consumers are having trouble staying afloat.

"This shows that they are trying to get as much money as possible before the rules change," said Kathleen Day, a spokesperson for the center.

Senate Rejects Limit on Credit-Card Interest Rates
Despite complaints that banks and credit card companies are gouging customers by charging outrageous interest rates, the Senate on Wednesday easily turned back an effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent.

The effort by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, drew only 33 votes and needed 60, with a bipartisan group of 60 senators opposing it as the Senate pushed its credit card overhaul toward the finish line. Some Democrats and consumer groups have said that an interest cap is needed to put real teeth into an otherwise solid bill.

Other backers of the measure calculated that an interest rate ceiling would doom the popular legislation. The banking industry, which had some heavy-weight representatives monitoring the vote off of the Senate floor, warned that an interest rate limit could cause a sour reaction in the financial markets.

But Mr. Sanders said the card companies and banks were engaged in conduct that could get others hauled into court. He said one-third of all credit card holders are paying interest above 20 percent and as high as 41 percent.

“When banks are charging 30 percent interest rates, they are not making credit available,” said Mr. Sanders, who noted credit unions are limited to 15 percent. “They are engaged in loan-sharking.”

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 1st Session (2009)
Vote 00191 13-May H.R. 627 On the Motion S.Amdt. 1062


Motion to Waive CBA Sanders Amdt. No. 1062; To establish a national consumer credit usury rate.

Vote Counts:

YEAs 33 — NAYs 60 — Not Voting 6

12 May 2009

Pull Up a Stool and Sit Down

by: Konagod

Through the years I have made countless trips back to Arkansas (home of blackdog, I must add) to visit my mother and none of them have been what I'd call easy trips. While living in Los Angeles, such trips required air travel with a change of planes, usually in Dallas, followed with a car rental and a 2-hour drive from the Little Rock airport. Even then it was probably faster than it is now by car from Austin.

I have flown there from Austin and it still requires a change of planes in either Dallas or Houston and ultimately I figure it saves only about 2 hours over driving. Most importantly, I don't have to deal with airport security bullshit, repacking all my hair care products into approved containers, and hoping I don't have a hangnail en route because I don't have my nail clippers.

Regardless of the travel method, the stress doesn't end upon arrival. As with this most recent trip, I usually drive to Little Rock first because it's faster and easier, and I can spend a night with a friend from high school before heading to my mother's house the next day feeling a bit more refreshed.

The older I get, the more uncomfortable I am being away from my own bed, my own bathroom, and my own routine. I did sleep fairly well at my friend's house, despite having her clock radio alarm go off at midnight, and me hitting the snooze button twice before getting up to turn on a light so I could figure out where the off button was located. Then I was up at 5:30 to quickly shower and dress for my trip.

Along with the usual travel anxiety, I was meeting up that morning with Ellen, another friend from long before high school whom I hadn't see in over 30 years. That was also making me feel somewhat apprehensive. Fortunately, that meeting went great and was one of the highlights on my trip! After chatting for half an hour or so I went on to my mother's house.

My mother hugged me, I put my suitcase in the bedroom and returned to the kitchen and sat down. She immediately went on a tirade about Obama and the bailouts, how unfit he is to be leading this nation, etc. etc. It was bad enough when Bush was president, and although she didn't like a lot of what he was doing, she wasn't real vocal in her opposition to it, and she still thought of him as a fine Christian man, and CUTE! (Yes, I always had to suppress my gag reflex on that one!)

I have a hard time coming to terms with the rationale for such vehement opposition to Obama when he's barely been in office for 100 days. I have issues with several things he had done and said, and I have issues with things he hasn't done. But I'm not stomping up and down, frothing at the mouth while murmuring about socialism.

It is one thing to see clips of right-wing Negrophobes on television ranting about Obama; it is quite another to walk into your mother's house and hear a similar tirade coming from her lips. And it's not like I wasn't aware of her racism and her upbringing! It's still a shock to hear.

After that initial outburst from her and my retort, we eased into more congenial conversation of a non-political nature, thankfully. We had lunch and then I made an unsuccessful attempt at taking a nap.


Around 1999, txrad and I made a quick trip to Vegas to visit a friend we'd worked with in the Los Angeles days. If I recall, it may have been the last time we'd see her before she died. txrad and I hadn't smoked cigarettes in at least seven years, and we'd only recently begun having wine and the occasional margarita after seven years being alcohol-free.

Knowing that our friend we were visiting was a smoker and enjoyed a cocktail or three, and with Vegas being what it is, I had already harbored an unspoken thought of sneaking a cigarette here and there while in Vegas. Then once we were there, I was surprised that txrad brought it up by saying he was going to have a cigarette.

And we did. And we drank. And we gambled. And we held cigs in one hand and cocktails in the other. We had a blast.

It was a couple of days after returning home, and I distinctly remember the moment one evening in the living room, when I said, "I want a cigarette." I suppose the reason why I remember that moment so clearly is because I've not stopped smoking again since that night. It was a habit I should have left on the Strip along with the gambling.

Stress has since become a trigger for a nicotine craving. As I was gearing up for my Arkansas trip, I told myself I was not taking cigarettes along. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, so I was going to make the Friday before my departure as smokeless as possible. My goal was to not have a cigarette that morning until after I had returned from my 9:45 appointment to drop the car off for maintenance. That didn't work.

I awoke at 3:30 that morning having travel anxiety and even being nervous about taking the car to the shop. I went to the kitchen for some water and saw my half-smoked cigarette from the night before. Where's the logic in trying to quit smoking when I leave myself half a cigarette sitting out? So I smoked it.

When I awoke again and got up at 6:00, I had already broken a promise to myself so I had another. Besides, I was stressed. I was also starting to realize I was probably going to break another promise and take some smokes with me to Arkansas. But I was NOT going to smoke at my mom's house; I was sticking with that promise.

After my failed attempt at a nap at mom's house on Sunday afternoon I got up to find her sleeping on the porch with a newspaper in her hand. Even opening the creaky screen door didn't wake her. So I slipped back in the house and out the back door for a quick smoke.

After she arose we decided to go for a drive around town which is customary when I visit. I need to hear about who died in that house, who had a stroke in this one, and which house is now vacant and for sale because the occupant is now in the nursing home. We pass by a dozen or more buildings, virtually all of them vacant and decaying, which bring back a torrent of vivid happy memories from my childhood when the town was actually thriving. My mother then pointed to a restaurant downtown which appeared to be busy, and said, "that's a nigger restaurant."

Since almost no one reading this blog has even been to my hometown, let me put this in perspective for you. The town has very few places to eat that are decent. Most of the options are on the highway, not downtown. There's a Subway sandwich joint out there, probably a crappy little pizza place, and there was a new Mexican restaurant before it burned. There used to be a Chinese restaurant on the highway but I didn't notice if it was still there or not.

Downtown has a drug store where they serve sandwiches on the weekdays, but not on Saturday and I think they are closed on Sundays. There's just nothing downtown! The building which houses the "nigger restaurant" was for many years a locally-owned diner which was named the "Ritz." That closed down a few years ago, another restaurant may have eventually opened there but closed. The fact that somebody went in and opened a restaurant which is not only busy and convenient, but open on Sunday would seem to be a matter of civic pride, not shame and disgust because of the skin pigmentation of the owners.

It was probably at this moment when I began to question just how long my visit here would last. Instead of staying until Wednesday or Thursday, I was now thinking Tuesday at the latest.

Once back at our house from the tour of the decrepit little town, my mother began talking about how she is unable now to get out and work in her flower beds and pull weeds. She mentioned that a friend of hers has a beautiful back yard but paid someone to do it, and then came another bomb: "She had a nigger man do it, and I just don't want a nigger in my house."

Funny. It didn't seem to be an issue in the 1960s when she had a black maid come several times a week to clean her house. But I've always though that was more of a "keeping up with the Joneses" attempt at maintaining our level in our social caste since many of her friends had slaves black housekeeping help employed at ridiculously low rates of pay. (This was before the influx of Mexicans and Central American nannies who have a slightly lighter skin tone.)

All kinds of things were now clicking together in my head and I could almost hear the various pieces of the puzzle snapping in place. She knew I didn't want to hear any Obama-bashing so she was getting her racist frustrations out in other ways. She didn't like the "nigger restaurant" being just 2 blocks from her house, she didn't want a "nigger man" cleaning up her yard, and she sure as hell didn't want a nigger president that socialist in the White House.

I heard this kind of language growing up from people in the town, from friends and their families, and from my own. Between the 70s and the 90s it began to temper somewhat. Obviously it didn't disappear, it just became less public and more private. And somehow, the election of Barack Obama has caused people like my mother to crack wide open, throwing themselves back in time; not to the 1970s, but right back to 1957! They are so adamantly racist they are willing to sacrifice just about anything to stake that white power flag in the ground make their feelings known, be it their homes, their yards, their dying towns, and perhaps even more.

As my mother was preparing dinner, I amused myself by walking around the house snapping photos of various nick-nacks she has acquired over the years and displays in her house.

And as we all know, them black folks sure loves them some watermelon!

Ironically, my mother loves it too and could eat a whole one while standing at the kitchen sink.

In all the years I have made a yearly trek back to Arkansas, I have never been as troubled and perplexed as I was on this trip. It is a lot to absorb and digest. And yet, I cannot allow myself to feel towards my mother the way I feel about the Rush Limbaughs of the world.

Ellen, during our brief visit, said we cannot change them right now. This is all they know, and it is normal to them. My mother is but one of perhaps millions of people who grew up white in hundreds of small towns just like this one across the deep South and elsewhere, raised in a Christian religion which never really liked to asked the simple question, "What would Jesus do," and never had the benefit of an education or a work experience in which they developed friendships with people different from themselves.

I refuse to believe that my mother, deep down in her heart, really is this angry, or this racist. She is a kind and loving woman who does not like change, and wasn't really comfortable when black people were invited by the preacher into her church, despite the fact that the church (which was founded by my father, by the way) is located in what was called "colored town" during more civil times than these. And I can't help but juxtapose this with the "nigger restaurant" located downtown which has drawn her ire.

She carries baggage imposed on her from childhood by a father, also a decent and honest man, but one who didn't even like shaking hands with black people. This has been going on for centuries and will take centuries more to run its course, assuming it ever will.

I made the decision late on Sunday to return to Austin on Monday morning. I was feeling confused and longing to be back in my comfortable environs. Besides, it had rained all month and was continuing to rain so I could not have done the yard work she wanted even if I had stayed another day.

Around 9:15 I went to bed, hoping to arise by 5:30, have a quick breakfast and coffee, and then hit the road.

Thoughts were still being processed in my head as I tried to sleep. I was feeling hurt and disgust. And having not only met Ellen earlier that morning, but also her partner, a beautiful and witty black woman, I kept wondering how my mother would react to that double-whammy.

I had slept for perhaps an hour when I woke up. I checked the clock and it was only 11:15 PM. I tossed and turned and finally fell asleep before being awakened again just after midnight by the loudest freight train I've ever heard. After several minutes of that, just as the train sounds were growing faint as it headed away from town, I was jolted by a clap of thunder followed by more pouring rain.

During the night there was another train incident, then another. And another storm. Around 3:30 AM, I got up and had to sneak out into the backyard for a stress-relieving smoke. I managed to quietly find the key to the deadbolt on the back door (there be Negroes in the neighborhood!), and as soon as I set one foot on the back deck the exterior motion-detection lights came on. Thank God it wasn't accompanied by sirens! I lit up a cigarette and paced across the rain-soaked gravel driveway which crunched loudly beneath my feet like several inches of snow during a hard freeze. I crept quietly back into the house, locking the door and carefully placing the deadbolt key exactly as I had found it, and went back to bed. I finally awoke at 5:45 and got up for breakfast.

Another side-effect of travel for me is constipation. I think it has to due with a variety of factors: a change in routine, change in diet, sitting in a vehicle for 8 or 9 hours, stress, whatever. But I had not had a decent bowel evacuation since I left Austin two days earlier.

I visited with my mother while eating blueberry muffins and sipping two cups of coffee, then I loaded the car with my stuff and hit the road.

About 50 minutes later, just as I had crossed the Louisiana state line, I realized I needed to pee. "Like a horse" as the saying goes. I had just passed a couple of 18-wheelers about 2 miles behind me which is no easy feat on a 2-lane road in a rain storm. I didn't want them to catch up to me and pass me so I pulled over and decided to make this a fast one. As I urinated I began forcing it out faster than is natural in order to speed things up; I could already see the headlights approaching behind me. It was at that moment that I decided to let loose with a fart or two. Big mistake.

I quickly returned to the car and sped away before the 18-wheelers had reached me, and I thought to myself, "I might need to check my shorts when I get to a gas station" even though I really didn't think I had done anything serious. You know, just the likely "skid marks" as the kids used to say in school.

It was about an hour later when I reached Monroe, Louisiana where I would hook up with I-20 to take me west to Texas. I stopped at a service station and went to the restroom to relieve myself of coffee again and remembered I needed to check myself. I popped into a stall and lowered my shorts. Oh my God. Let's look on the bright side: I was no longer constipated! I reached into the black toilet paper dispenser only to realize there was nothing there but an empty roll.

I scooted out of the stall for some paper towels near the sink. Again, nothing. No paper products for hygiene were to be found here! I took off my heavily soiled underwear and used them to clean myself up as best I could and then stuffed the offensive garment into a pocket on my cargo shorts and returned to my car as if everything was completely normal. I put the underwear into a plastic bag in my trunk and proceeded on down the road until I could find an establishment which I hoped would have the proper amount of paper products in the restroom.

I grabbed by duffel bag which contained the previous day's attire and quickly headed into a restroom, avoiding eye contact with anyone lest they read my mind. I got myself cleaned up as best I could and changed into the cargo shorts I had worn while driving up the previous day. I mean, come on; did I need to put on anything clean? Cleaner than what I was wearing would clearly be a huge improvement.

Having dealt with that embarrassing situation, I was ready to hit the road again for Texas, and ultimately, Austin.

I'm not sure when I'll visit my mother again, but I hope it's not another year. I really should do this more often, not less. I need to love this woman who bore me, and enjoy what few remaining years I can with her, despite her flaws, and mine. Maybe I can't change her attitudes, but I can certainly set a positive example.

In the meantime, I can honestly say I wish President Barack Hussein Obama nothing but great success. It probably won't alter racism in any way, but it will nonetheless prove a point. In fact, I could argue it already has.

Swiftboating Healthcare

by: Foiled Goil

National Disgrace: U.S. Ranks 29th in Infant Mortality Rate

Swift boaters for health care ripoffs
You knew it was coming. The infamous Swift Boat crowd is ready to point out health care problems in Canada and the UK, obviously because we know how well the US systems works. Ahhh yes, the memories of the US health care system. [snip]

The Swift Boaters for health care ripoffs are obviously proud that the system is fantastic for the ultra rich - such as the former CEO millionaire who is running this group - but for everyone else, it's neatly tucked in between Costa Rica and Slovenia at number 37 in the world. What a proud, star-spangled ranking that is. Great! God bless America!

Swiftboaters Are Back, This Time To Block Healthcare Reform
As the standard joke goes, we have some good news, and some bad news. The good news is that healthcare "industry leaders" told President Obama today they can find ways to slow the growth of healthcare costs by 1.5% or $2 trillion over 10 years. [snip]

The bad news is, "industry leaders" also have launched an ad campaign designed to torpedo comprehensive reform by turning public opinion against it. These ads have been paid for by healthcare industrialist Rick Scott and his misnamed group, "Conservatives for Patients' Rights." [snip]

The Washington Post describes Scott as "a multimillionaire investor and controversial former hospital chief executive" who was ousted as head of Columbia/HCA in the '90s -- a company that eventually had to pay $1.7 billion in fines for having overbilled the federal government and states for services it provided to sick and vulnerable Americans. Scott also was a George W. Bush partner in owning the Texas Rangers baseball team. The Post quotes Scott as uttering the conservative talking point that "free-market principles will solve our health-care problems."

Nice try.

The Rachel Maddow Show:

Full video here [ 11:45 ], Partial video below [ 5:19 ]
Mum on healthcare

May 11: President Obama spoke about healthcare reform and his plans for changing the system. The Republican response, well, um, there actually wasn’t a real Republican response. Who is voicing the anti-reform movement? Rachel Maddow is joined by former DNC chairman Howard Dean.

We need a fix that doesn't just add more people into a bad system.
We need more people in a better system. And the better system needs to benefit everyone, not just the poor, not just the middle class.

Health care industry locates $2 trillion in savings
Isn't that amazing? How convenient that the industry who scalps the American public, charging more in America for the same products compared to elsewhere in the world, could magically whip up a few trillion in savings when pushed on cleaning up their act.

Report: Senators mull 3 health-insurance plans

· ·
11 May 2009

Hmmm...speaking of free speech...

by: Anna Van Z

Jim Corbett is a California teacher who was subject to federal legal action for supposedly violating the First Amendment's establishment clause by disparaging Creationism. This is his response:

Over 2,000 years ago Socrates faced a court for refusing to recognize the gods acknowledged by the state, importing strange divinities and corrupting the young. The judges sent Socrates to his death. He accepted the sentence of the court and committed suicide by drinking a cup of hemlock.

The only virtue for Socrates was "knowledge." He reached it by questioning the most deeply held beliefs of his students by which I mean all of Athens and ultimately all of us. What troubled the Athenians about Socrates, however, was not listed in the charges. His crime was that he prompted people to think.

His provocations exposed the Athenians' shallowness of belief and mindless deference to myth. Socrates was judged because he was successful in provoking his students "examine their lives." [his words]Those who guard the myths must try and strike down any who teach young people to think and question, because myths often shrink in the light of reason, draining power from those in authority who benefit from belief.

There are thousands of teachers who agree with Socrates that, "[t]he unexamined life is not worth living." Every teacher who makes a student think takes the risk that he will be attacked by parents and others who see themselves as guardians of cherished political and religious myth. The teachers willing to take that risk should be rewarded, not punished. After the verdict, the Athenian court asked Socrates what his punishment should be. He responded that he should get free meals at the Pyrataneum, a celebration hall for Olympian athletes. Socrates went on to explain that those who passed judgment were not harming him, but rather themselves. He said, by killing him they corrupted their own souls and revealed the weakness of their own belief. A true believer does not fear that a few questions can undo years of parental teaching. Those who would "protect" students from self-examination have little faith and great fear.

Chad Farnan, the boy who sued me, was an average student, who admitted under oath that he did not do the required reading for the class. If Chad's lawyers, the "Advocates for Faith and Freedom," and his parents were actually concerned with protecting the boy, why didn't they simply come to me and ask me to explain my comments? Neither they nor the Farmans ever expressed concerns to me nor to any administrators before they came to school with attorneys and reporters in tow to drop a lawsuit on the desk of Tom Ressler, our principal. Read the rest...

Back from the Islands...

by: Father Tyme

America's Funniest Home Republicans:

Is this how Rush looks on his drugs?


Stupidity Influences More Than Politics

by: Debra

PZ Myers, who I almost always agree with even though he has no use for acupuncturists, has an interesting article promoting a book on the rise of stupidity in the United States and how experts are perceived to be elitists and out of touch with reality.  Heaven forbid that someone should be trained in their subject.

In California only acupuncturists are tested in herbology by the state, this  makes us the experts on herbs, not the minimum wage worker at GNC.  We are required to know about interactions with pharmaceuticals and to know which herbs can be taken safely and under which circumstances.  Which is why every time I see Gingko Biloba advertised as a memory enhancer I want to run into a brick wall head first.  In our Materia Medica it is known as a toxic substance that should not be taken for more than six weeks at a time.  It's main function is to work in conjunction with another herb that is seriously misused, Ma Huang aka ephedra, to clear fluid from the lungs and that is all.  They are not diet drugs and they will not make your memory any better.  Period.

Chinese medicine, when practiced correctly, excels at preventative medicine because it treats the individual as an individual not as a statistic on a chart.  We have a tendency to spend more time asking the patient questions and generally have a better feel for their everyday lives.  Yes there are quacks out there but some of us so-called quacks have a scientific background to go along with the woo woo stuff.  I wouldn't let most of my classmates treat me any more than I would some of the doctors I have had the misfortune to deal with.  Like the one who ignored mom's daily fecal incontinence and then turned me into adult protective services because mom was losing weight or the one who kept diagnosing me with diabetes because I'm an overweight black woman even though all my fasting blood tests came back between 84 and 93.  When he found out that I was only half black his comment was "oh that explains it."  I believe there's a word for that but I don't like to toss it around.

Back in 2003 when I was still a practicing acupuncturist I had a patient that came to me with a diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease.  She had been treated for sciatica for several years by someone else and it had gotten no better so I suggested that there might be another cause for her pain.  When she told me what her doctor had discovered I tried to explain to her that if she was having problems with the arteries in her legs that she also had problems with the arteries in her heart and that she should have a cardiac stress test to evaluate the damage.  She and her husband were so offended that they never came back.

At first I was hurt but I got over it because not everyone wants to face their own mortality. The fact that her husband had a dissecting aorta at the age of 43 and almost died before they got him to Stanford also made no impression upon them.  It didn't matter what arguments I used to try and convince them that this wasn't just a pain issue but a lifestyle that was more than likely to result in early death.  I talked about changing their diet, lowering their cholesterol and increasing the amount of daily exercise to lower their risk in the future.  It was all for naught.  Their reasoning was that the doctor hadn't mentioned it and since I was only an acupuncturist that I couldn't be right.  Even showing them pictures of how small the coronary arteries were and comparing them to the arteries in the legs didn't help.

After several years of patients like this I quit practicing.  People don't want to hear the truth, they want to hear news that makes them feel better about themselves.  It doesn't matter if it's a lie or it glosses over the truth, which is stupid if you stop to think about it.  And every time I see the Plavix commercial for Peripheral Artery Disease and how it affects the heart, I think about that patient and wonder if they are still alive.  Somehow I doubt it.

Oh yeah, if you are worried about your health eating out at some of these places can seriously undermine all your efforts. Four and a half days worth of sodium in one meal. Wow!


· ·


by: Father Tyme

...which naturally begs the age-old question...Which way should the paper roll off?

Nancy Pelosi and the Fate of Pawns

by: Dark Wraith

Nancy Pelosi, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush

A note to House Speaker Pelosi: Conspire with professional spies, and you then become, by definition, an expendable asset. The more certain you are that this is not true, the more useful you are to them.

You, Madam Speaker, have now become very useful.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
10 May 2009

Like A Bad Penny

by: Debra

If I was Colin Powell and knew where the bodies were buried I would seriously think about whether or not I owed any loyalty to the Bush/Cheney administration and then report immediately to the Hague, Spain or our most useless Justice department and clear my conscience.  Let the chips fall where they may but I wouldn't for one second more think about how I had compromised everything I held dear just to keep those bozos out of jail.  Neither the administration nor the Republican party deserves my loyalty since they haven't shown me any

And what in the world makes Cheney think that he is a Republican, he's not.  What he is though, is a five time draft evader, a torturer, a traitor, a hate monger, a liar of the first order and a criminal for the war crimes he authorized and idolizes.  He is even slimier than Limpballs, and that is saying something. Why hasn't he faded into obscurity like every other vice president?  He doesn't deserve to be a Jeopardy question but he continues babbling his bushit on Sunday morning talk shows.  How to "Shoot Friends and Interrogate People".  Indeed.

Good grief, the twerp just can't shut up.  The person that is hurting this country the most is the same one who was hell bent on destroying it in the first place.  And his name isn't Osama or Obama, it is Cheney.  In my life there have been very few people that I have actively hated, they can be counted on one hand and don't include my thumb, but Cheney leads the pack.  I would rather be forced to live with my ex mother-in-law for the rest of my life than to have Cheney continue wouldn't be prudent for me to put into print.  Good God I hate that sorry ass excuse for a man.


· ·

Somebody: Mother

by: Foiled Goil

Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you’ve had a baby...
    —Somebody doesn’t know that once you’re a mother, “normal” is history.

Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct...
    —Somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.

Somebody said being a mother is boring...
    —Somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver’s permit.

Somebody said if you’re a “good” mother your child will “turn out good”...
    —Somebody thinks a child comes with directions and a guarantee.

Somebody said “good” mothers never raise their voices...
    —Somebody never came out of the back door just in time to see her child hit a golf ball through the neighbor’s kitchen window.

Somebody said you don’t need an education to be a mother...
    —Somebody never helped a fourth grader with his math.

Somebody said you couldn’t love the second child as much as you love the first...
    —Somebody doesn’t have two children.

Somebody said a mother can find all the answers to her child-rearing questions in the books...
    —Somebody never had a child stuff beans up his nose or in his ears.

Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery...
    —Somebody never watched her “baby” get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten -- or on a plane headed for military boot camp.

Somebody said a mother can do her job with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back...
    —Somebody never organized seven giggling Brownies to sell cookies.

Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her child gets married...
    —Somebody doesn’t know that marriage adds a new son or daughter-in-law to a mother’s heartstrings.

Somebody said a mother’s job is done when her last child leaves home...
    —Somebody never had grandchildren.

Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you don’t need to tell her...
    —Somebody isn’t a mother.


Oh, where would we be without mothers?!

09 May 2009

Taxpayers Getting Stung Twice?

by: Foiled Goil

Obama urges US Congress to pass credit card reform

* Obama wants bill to sign by Memorial Day

* Senate could take up measure next week
Saying credit card industry abuses had worsened in the current recession, President Barack Obama urged Congress on Saturday to approve new regulations to halt sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties and hidden fees.

Are Taxpayers Bailing Out Troubled Banks Twice?

Bank Practices Inflame Good Customers, Irk Government
The federal government is taking up the fight against credit card companies accused of taking advantage of consumers.

In taking aim at what he called "abuse that goes unpunished," President Obama has asked Congress to send him a bill by Memorial Day that prevents credit card companies from suddenly raising rates on everyday customers. [snip]

Congress is moving swiftly to comply with the president's request. A credit card holder's Bill of Rights has already passed the House. The bill would prohibit retroactive rate increases, prevent companies from issuing cards to anyone under 18 and eliminate what's called "double-cycle billing."

Double-cycle billing is a little known calculation used by many companies. The company looks at your current monthly balance, as well as your previous months' spending, and averages them both, charging you a higher interest rate.

Although the practice is considered deceptive, credit card holders often consent to it when they sign a contract.

"Most of these credit card companies have a little clause left somewhere in the back on page 28 in language that says, 'we can charge you any amount we want, at any time we want, for no reason at all,'" said Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard.

Warren chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel, an independent agency that tracks the hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars already being used to help the banks survive.

On the heels of this week's stress tests, which showed 10 of the nation's 19 largest banks will need a further injection of cash to survive, she said it's no secret where the banks will get the money.

"We've seen a sharp rise in interest rates in the last few months on good customers who are paying. It's coming from banks taking taxpayer dollars." Warren said.

In essence, that means the banks will raise rates on taxpayers who helped them out in the first place.

The House passed the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act, ( H.R. 627 ) on April 30 in a 357-70 vote, (7 not voting).

08 May 2009


by: Debra

I went to see Star Trek last night and it rocked!  There was enough action to please the most die hard movie addict and very little of the moralizing that the series is prone to.  There were laughs, snickers and giggles galore, especially if you have been a Trekker for a long time.  I do have to wonder about the preoccupation with creepy crawly things being shoved into bodily orifices to control people is all about, but since it was used in two of the best movies of the franchise it must be necessary.  Too bad they didn't refer back to it or finish that part of the plot, which leaves me wondering, is it still wrapped around his brain stem?

I knew it was going to be a fun time when this started playing on the ol' iPod while I was waiting for the movie to start.

And it was immediately followed by this.

I really did enjoy the movie.  I was able to walk to the theater since it is only a couple of blocks from the apartment. I printed my ticket at home and walked right in, there wasn't a line.  The theater ended up being a little over half full (I was the only single female) and most of the people stayed until the end of the credits.  I'm going to see it again this weekend but at matinee prices. 

The casting was inspired and did justice to the original actors.  One thing I did notice was that Zachary Quinto is about two inches taller than Leonard Nimoy.  Oh yeah, Chris Pine doesn't look like his father at all, with the added benefit of not having to work with Erik Estrada.

I give it four and a half stars out of five.


· · · ·

Cheeseburger Is Paradise!

by: Foiled Goil

What Do You Want On Your Cheeseburger?

I like mine with lettuce and tomato,
Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes,
Big kosher pickle and a cold draught beer,
Well, good God Almighty, which way do I steer?

Maybe some even like spicy mustard, too:

Latest right-wing-lunatic smear about Obama: Dijongate
If the Republican Party wants to go on a listening tour to figure out what they need to do, they may start turning off their radios and televisions too. Every day we post about the absurdity that is the Republican Party and every day a completely new mind-numbing smear comes out.

I understand what they are doing. They feel if they keep chipping away at President Obama with nonsensical complaints, it will slowly erode his popularity. The problem they face is that they look like loons doing it, and all the polls point to the same conclusion. It's good for ratings on FOX, because those uber-loons are watching the little horde of Republican lunatics in action with a fervent glee, but mainstream America is laughing at them.

The new one is that Obama had the nerve, the nerve I tell you! of ordering Dijon mustard with his overcooked burger, and the media is covering up that fact.

As usual, Sean Hannity and the right wingnutosphere are all over it like Dijon on fries.

This is what the NoNo Goposaurs have to whine about?

· ·
07 May 2009

Rubber Penis on a Leash

by: Anna Van Z

This interesting device, called "Anaconda", was developed to dwell in the oceans and generate electricity with every wave. This scaled down model is 1/25th of what the actual sized phallic floater would be. And yes, it is fairly erect, as it's filled with fresh water and sealed at both ends to prevent sea creatures from setting up shop inside. It works when the pressure of the waves against the sides of Anaconda are transmitted down its length, creating "bulge waves". When each bulge wave reaches the end of the snake, it spins a turbine to generate electricity. Which is actually pretty clever! Its big advantage is that it harnesses the kinetic energy of the ocean waves while being a low-maintenance device, which is typically a significant problem with ocean-based equipment. Read more about this at New Scientist.
06 May 2009

By His Own Petard

by: Foiled Goil

Excerpts from George W. Bush's statements, United Nations:

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

June 26, 2003:

"… Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since 1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice. [snip]

"The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy. [snip]

"No people, no matter where they reside, should have to live in fear of their own government. Nowhere should the midnight knock foreshadow a nightmare of state-commissioned crime. The suffering of torture victims must end, and the United States calls on all governments to assume this great mission."

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

June 26, 2004:

"… The nonnegotiable demands of human dignity must be protected without reference to race, gender, creed, or nationality. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

"To help fulfill this commitment, the United States has joined 135 other nations in ratifying the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. America stands against and will not tolerate torture. We will investigate and prosecute all acts of torture and undertake to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment in all territory under our jurisdiction. American personnel are required to comply with all U.S. laws, including the United States Constitution, Federal statutes, including statutes prohibiting torture, and our treaty obligations with respect to the treatment of all detainees.

"The United States also remains steadfastly committed to upholding the Geneva Conventions, which have been the bedrock of protection in armed conflict for more than 50 years. These conventions provide important protections designed to reduce human suffering in armed conflict. We expect other nations to treat our service members and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. [snip]

"Despite international efforts to protect human rights around the world, repressive regimes continue to victimize people through torture. [snip] But we will not compromise the rule of law or the values and principles that make us strong. Torture is wrong no matter where it occurs, and the United States will continue to lead the fight to eliminate it everywhere."

And, before you go "misunderestimating" if what he said is really what he meant, do let the "the master of low expectations" remind you of one other thing...

You know he lied.

· · · · ·

Econ Factoid of the Day:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"The number of U.S. homes valued at more than $729,750, the jumbo-loan limit in the most affluent areas, entering the foreclosure process jumped 127 percent during the first 10 weeks of this year from the same period of 2008, data compiled by RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, California, show. The rate rose 72 percent for homes valued at less than $417,000 and 78 percent for all homes, RealtyTrac said."

RealtyTrac's website is HERE.

(Edit/Update): In a related article entitled "Housing Bubble Smackdown: Bigger Crash Ahead, Huge 'shadow inventory'" at Global Research by Mike Whitney is this quote:
"In a recent study, RealtyTrac compared its database of bank-repossessed homes to MLS listings of for-sale homes in four states, including California. It found a significant disparity - only 30 percent of the foreclosures were listed for sale in the Multiple Listing Service. The remainder is known in the industry as "shadow inventory." ("Banks aren't Selling Many Foreclosed Homes" SF Gate)

"If regulators were deployed to the banks that are keeping foreclosed homes off the market, they would probably find that the banks are actually servicing the mortgages on a monthly basis to conceal the extent of their losses. They'd also find that the banks are trying to keep housing prices artificially high to avoid heftier losses that would put them out of business. One thing is certain, 600,000 "disappeared" homes means that housing prices have a lot farther to fall and that an even larger segment of the banking system is underwater."

From Obscurity To Stupidity

by: Debra

She's no Vanessa Williams, that's for sure.  She isn't as classy, pretty, talented or graceful and she certainly isn't as natural.  She doesn't take responsibility for her actions or her words, always blaming someone else.  Which isn't really a surprise given her "beliefs".  She lied on her application and the fact that someone released a risque photo that she posed for is not an attack on her beliefs, it demonstrates that she is a hypocritical liar. It's long past the time for her to fade into obscurity, where she belongs.

Speaking of fading into obscurity, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards need to do the same.  I was a John Edwards supporter for many years but I can't and won't get past the fact that he lied and let down the people who most needed his help, his children and the poor.  The poor have been forgotten as this drama has turned into tabloid fodder.  And bad tabloid fodder at that.

Wow!  The definition of work certainly has changed.  Globetrotting workaholic?  So that's what they are calling it these days.  Spoiled floozy seems like a better description.

Cash for clunkers is a misnomer.  In order to get the cash you have to be willing to buy, and make payments on, a new car.  I don't have a job and even if I did my credit sucks, so trading in my 17mpg car is out of the question.  Actually, I'm going to have to sell it and take the money to buy food, mom's medications and pay off the deposit on the apartment.  Hopefully some enterprising person will buy it and then they can trade it in for a new car, I'll be taking the bus.

If marijuana was legalized, we wouldn't have to worry about things like this and law enforcement could concentrate on important things like finding murderers, rapists, kidnappers and thieves.  Building a fence is a stupid idea and won't close the borders to drug traffic or any other kind of traffic.

How can you protect the quality of healthcare for all Americans when significant sections of the population have none and will never be able to afford it?  You can't ration what they don't have and patients can only be a part of their healthcare decisions when they can afford to see the doctor.  Typical Republican strategy of nowadays, can't see the forest for the trees.


· · · · · ·
05 May 2009

We didn't start the Swine Flu...

by: Father Tyme

Funny from YouTube via C&L:

04 May 2009

Alan Canfora, Eyewitness at Kent State

by: Foiled Goil

"Again, where the people are absolute rulers of the land,
they rejoice in having a reserve of youthful citizens,
while a king counts this a hostile element
and seeks to slay the leading ones,
all such as he deems discreet,
for he feareth for his power."

~Euripides, "The Suppliants"

"'s very hard to ignore that Kent State thing. They were down there, man, ready to do it.

You can see them, they're all kneeling there, they're all in the kneeling position and they got their slings tight and they're ready to shoot.

And there's this kid, this long-haired kid standin' there with a flag, wavin' it...

I mean, I cannot be a man, and be a human, and ignore that."

~ David Crosby,

ROLLING STONE interview, July 23, 1970, pp. 22-23.

Alan Canfora, May 4, 1970, Kent State eyewitness

About Alan Canfora:
At Kent State University on May 4, 1970, I waved a black protest flag in front of kneeling, aiming Ohio National Guard triggermen during an anti-war confrontation under the noonday sun. Minutes later, when the "death squad" guardsmen marched away toward a campus hilltop, I was shot and wounded through my right wrist as I jumped behind an oak tree about 225 feet away from the shooters.

Four students were killed and nine of us were wounded during 13 seconds when 67 gunshots were fired into our crowd of unarmed anti-war students on the Kent State campus in Kent, Ohio. The killer guardsmen, armed mostly with powerful M-1 rifles, were ordered to shoot and kill. Then they turned and marched away from the bloody mayhem. The shooters got away with murder and never spent a day in jail.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

· ·

May 4, 1970

by: Father Tyme

"What if you knew her and, found her dead on the ground...


We've come a long way, eh?
03 May 2009

Sunday Morning Diversions

by: Debra

Well, the WaPo is at it again, trying to create a crisis where none exists.  Yes the H1N1 flu virus has made people sick, the flu usually does that but it is not a pandemic and it is already dying down.  But did that stop the intrepid reporters from the Post?  No way Jose.  A two page article in the Sunday edition, still calling it swine flu and a whole section devoted to stoking the fire.  Approximately 36,000 people a year die from the flu and that number could be overstated but the news ignores that and hypes the death toll from this new version as a coming pandemic.  Since when are 19 deaths in a poor country a pandemic?  If they had paid this much attention to SARS when it first started it might not have spread as much as it did.  One thing the flu did accomplish, it knocked torture right off the front page.  How convenient.
The number of confirmed dead in Mexico stood at 19 on Saturday, unchanged from the day before, Córdova said at a news conference in Mexico City. Confirmed swine flu cases, including the deaths, rose from 397 to 473.
Why is it that people are willing to risk serious injury or death to lose weight but they aren't willing to cut calories and get exercise?  The only way to successfully lose weight and to keep it off are to change bad eating and exercise habits.  That's it, there is no other way.  No matter what diet you are on if you don't change your approach towards food on a permanent basis then you will put the weight back on.  It may take a few months or it may take a couple of years but most likely at the end of five years you will be back to your original weight, plus a few extra pounds. Park at the rear of the lot, take the stairs, cut back on the sodas and alcohol, eat more colors (otherwise known as vegetables) and not only will you lose weight you will feel better and your cholesterol will decrease.  Now that is a win, win.

I deeply resent it when people assume that because someone is liberal they want revenge on the Bush administration for authorizing torture and that those who are conservative approve or condone torture and believe that we should let bygones be bygones.  Neither of those assumptions is completely true and only serve to continue to polarize the country.  Do I believe that torture is wrong?  Yes.  Do I believe that those who authorized it should be punished?  Yes.  Does it matter that it was the Bush administration?  No.  I would feel the same way if it had happened under Carter, Clinton or the current fox guarding the henhouse, Obama.  Torture is wrong, it will always be wrong, nothing is going to change that and the perpetrators should be punished.  Not even a ticking clock is a valid excuse.  Better to die with my head held high than to live under a cloud of shame and hypocrisy.  Most Americans used to feel the same way before they were fed the pablum that passes as news.

Given a choice between putting convicted criminals to death or finding the criminals who committed murders and haven't been found, I opt to find the criminals running free.  Hopefully Colorado will decide that the money used to try and kill those already convicted will be better used to hunt down and prosecute those who think they have gotten away with murder.  Not all cases will be solved but there are many parents, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands and children who would like to know who killed their loved ones.

Dipshit.  I'm sorry I ever believed in you.

A little humor to lighten the morning.
These classifieds actually ran in newspapers - a smile for your day.
8-years old. Hateful little bastard. Bites!

1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbor's dog.

Mother, AKC German Shepherd.
Father, Super to leap tall fences in a single bound.

Looks like a rat. Been out a while. Better be a big reward.

Also 1 gay bull for sale.

$300 Hardly used, call Chubby.

California grown - 89 cents/lb.

Must sell washer and dryer $300.

Worn once by mistake. Call Stephanie.

And the best one?:

Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes Excellent condition.
$1,000 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last month. Wife knows everything.


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Listen...People...(Peter Noone)

by: Father Tyme

The Dark Wraith has provided a really cool opportunity for us in the ‘sphere to share our opinions verbally on his Dark Voices Radio Program on It’s a great venue to express an opinion about today’s politics.
Contrary to what the Wraith preaches in economics (I imagine it's his first love or at least one of the top two), the topics aren’t limited just to economics. There have been some lively discussions about politics in general and even some not-so-politically oriented topics.
I know it’s on at a late time on the east coast for a lot of our "mature" readers (yours truly included) but have a quick cup of coffee around 8:00 and tune in at 10:30 Thursday Nights. You can reschedule the shuffleboard match for a later start the next day.
I can understand some people not wanting to talk on radio. It’s that “public speaking thing. They get embarrassed. They think their topic won’t be as important as some others. They think they might be wrong about something and may feel self conscious. They think they sound funny (most of us do). To all that I say, forget it! Call in, get on line and let your opinion and/or question be heard.
While some may construe this as heresy, believe it or not, Dark Wraith doesn’t know everything (there’s goes my stipend!) But what he does know is very interesting. As an expert in economics myself (I clip coupons) I’ve learned a great deal about the subject these last couple of years. Even though I had one course in Micro economics 200 years ago and two others, macro and micro 101, less than 10 years ago, I learned more from reading his posts and other’s comments at his sites than I did from the Ultra Conservative Wall Street wannabe instructor at a college where I taught. She was of the philosophy that “I got mine, you get yours, and if you don’t get yours for what ever reason, it’s solely your fault!"
Those of you out there in blogland who listen to him but haven’t called in or logged on are missing out on a great chance to add an outlet for your frustrations, opinions and/or questions rather than simply commenting on one of the written posts on this or other blogs.
Think of it as not understanding why you have that pain in the butt while you keep putting off calling the doctor. At least when you finally call, the doctor just might be able to tell you to stop sitting on sharp objects! Worked for me! Give it a try.
You might even sleep better…or not! But at least you’ll learn something.
02 May 2009

Like A Rock

by: Debra

I was trolling around Craigslist looking for cheap furniture yesterday and came across an ad for a brand new futon in the box. I drove out to pick it up and the best thing I can say about the purchase is that since the sales tax in Reno is only 7.75% it saved me money over purchasing it in California.

The mattress itself was wafer thin and I could feel every one of the metal parts that took me two hours and some cursing to put together. It was so uncomfortable that I got up in the middle of the night and retrieved the air mattress. Proving once again that you get what you pay for. In this case $49.99 plus tax equals $53.78. I'm heading out to look for something to make it a little more comfy.

And I thought my back hurt yesterday. Sheesh, will I ever learn?



by: Father Tyme

A couple of somewhat deep thoughts - more or less:

About the Swi…sorry, H1N1 Flu outbreak. Now we’re being told that a vaccine is being worked on. I’m sure that’s being done out of the goodness of Big Pharma’s Solitary Microscopic Heart and they won’t charge (or at least OVER charge) anyone for it!
Just like the Flu Vaccine shortage (premeditated scare) of a few years ago when the quantity was supposedly low and Big Pharma did us all a favor and worked overtime (at least an hour extra per week) to produce more…then increased the price of the vaccine 500%, and really took advantage of the money from seniors AND the government.
Makes you wonder if the demand is being produced by the suppliers!

With all the talk about a third party forming in this country, we all evidently can’t see the forest for the trees, especially the Democrats.
We already HAVE a third party in this country…and it’s members include Ben Nelson, Baucus, Bayh and his coalition, Bennet, Byrd, Carper, Dorgan, Johnson, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson (NE), Pryor, Tester, Specter, Etc. and the Blue Dog Democrats.
They are being called Conservadems but that seems too lengthy a moniker. If the crazies on the right can have NeoCons, I suggest we shorten Conservadems to ConDems. It has much more meaning! Wouldn’t you agree?

And not to be outdone, the Evangelical Radical Right has their own new party under the Big Cheese, Limburger. So in addition to the Green and Libertarian and Communist Parties (who really don’t count) we now have two more ‘might be major’ parties coming down the birth chute, so to speak. Right to life and pro choice have additional meaning, now, concerning new parties.

To reiterate a comment I made earlier, we need to start identifying the loonies out there who commit insanity by including their religious and political prefixes. If they are Christian, say so. It doesn’t matter if they are a radical sect of Christianity and haven’t gone to church in a month of Sundays, if they are Christians, call them that! Same with Jews. Baptists, etc. etc. Gawd knows we (MSM) have to do it with any instance concerning a Muslim! Now, we may have to become slightly specific if the denomination is known. If the nut is a Roman or Greek Catholic, make sure that point is related so Donowhore becomes aware of some of his minions. Same with Baptist followers of Dobson, Robertson, et al.

To make it even more to the point, if the nutcase works for a large corporation…name it, too…”Fox reports that Monsanto Employee Joe Chemist created a new carcinogen to be sprayed on Iowa’s corn crop.” (Sorry Peter!)
There was no problem in the MSM when a U.S. Mail Person goes “Postal.” Why not mention the company the nut works for? Don’t like it? Too bad!

And if you do get the story from Fox (or not! What does it matter?), make sure Fox gets the credit even if Fox doesn’t credit the perp’s employer or religion…’Fox reports that ‘Baptist’ Joe Public killed 6 people in a shoot out in church this morning.” It doesn’t even have to involve death…”Fox reports that ‘Jewish’ Joe Congressman voted against a bill to help homeless but voted FOR the banks.”
I’ll just bet that’ll go over big time!
01 May 2009

With My $250 Stimulus Check...

by: Peter of Lone Tree

...I can almost afford to buy ONE of the shoes just like Michelle Obama wore while helping feed the poor at a Washington food bank on Wednesday.

Story (AND A PHOTO!) at Michelle Obama Wears $540 Designer Sneakers to Feed the Poor.

Guns, Testosterone And Stupidity

by: Debra

I beg to differ.  No retreat should only apply if you are inside your home and think you are being attacked.  It should not mean that you grab your gun, go outside and stand in front of a moving vehicle and then shoot.  He deliberately put himself in danger when he could have picked up the phone and dialed 911 and waited for the authorities to handle the situation.  Shoot first, make up your story later.
According to the affidavit, Jones heard his Toyota Land Cruiser, parked in the barn at his orange grove, start up before daylight Tuesday. Jones told police he grabbed his gun, a 9mm that he keeps with him while working at the grove. He said he could see two people in the SUV as it backed out of the barn, according to the affidavit. He said he saw the passenger's arm reach outside the vehicle, and believed that person might be holding a gun.

The Land Cruiser stopped directly in front of him, Jones said in the affidavit. He said he raised his gun and pointed it at the occupants, shouting "Stop," but the vehicle appeared to be moving directly toward him.

"Fearing for his life, he then fired what he thought to be six to eight rounds into the front windshield of the vehicle," the affidavit stated.
If he was that scared he should have stayed inside.  So which was it, six or eight?  I guess examining the gun wasn't necessary since his word seems to be so good.

People are having way too much fun Photoshopping Air Force One into various places in lieu of flying it over places it doesn't belong. My brother had the original poster hanging on his wall for a long time, I believe it was originally for Maxell.  And the other one sums up the stupidity nicely.

Blown away!
It sure does.

Some of them were racist and some were quite artistic, personal preference is everything.

I need furniture.  Air mattresses definitely suck for daily use but the dogs are having a great time switching between mom and I in the middle of the night.  My back is killing me from sitting on the floor and I can't believe how much my knees ache and how difficult it is to get up.  I'm only 52, at least for a few more days, I shouldn't be falling apart this fast.  The puter is on a cardboard box that is slowly collapsing and mom says the camp chair isn't all that comfortable day in and day out.  I'm not going to be able to get my stuff from San Jose for quite a while since the grants that were dangled in front of my nose were a hoax and I have no way to get back and get the stuff from storage until I get a job and earn some money.  The Alzheimer's Association is investigating the agency that sent me the paperwork but that doesn't help mom and I.  Still, I'm glad to be out of California.

The dogs are adjusting but Shadow sits by the door from the time I leave until I come back, I think she is having separation issues.  I found a great off leash dog park that they enjoy and Shai even went into the pond.  She was really thirsty otherwise she wouldn't have done it, she normally won't walk through a puddle.  They normally don't get very far from me and Shadow remembers where I parked the car but not where I'm sitting so it can be pretty funny when she realizes she lost me.  She's like Vizzini, she goes back to the beginning.

I'm playing around with Firefox 3.5b4 and even though most of my extensions aren't working yet (ForecastFox, Greasemonkey and Better Greader in particular) I like it.  I'm also trying ScribeFire and so far, so good.  I can post to Blogger with no problem but Big Brass Blog runs on a different engine that isn't covered.  Oh well, one can't have everything.


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