Friday, September 29, 2006

Go, Democrats!

Read Glenn Greenwald, on getting over yesterday's pro-tyranny legislation and focusing on the upcoming election. He makes the well-reasoned and persuasive case that even though the Democrats suck, it would still be far better to have them in control of the Senate than the Republican Bush-zombies.
But that's all besides the point at the moment, because -- right now -- everyone has to answer for themselves these questions: (1) do you believe that the incalculable damage imposed on this country by the Bush administration and its followers (including in Congress) can be impeded and then reversed and, if so, (2) how can that be accomplished? For those who have given up and believe the answer to question (1) is "no," then, by definition, there is nothing to discuss. You' ve decided that there is no hope, that you're done fighting and trying to defend any of your beliefs and principles, and you're ready to cede the country to those who are in the process of destroying it.

But for those who believe that the answer to question (1) is "yes" (and I believe that emphatically), then the answer to question (2) seems self-evidently clear. The most important and overriding mandate is to end the one-party rule to which our country has been subjected for the last four years. Achieving that is necessary -- it is an absolute pre-requisite -- to begin to impose some actual limits on the authoritarian behavior and unchecked powers of this administration -- because, right now, there are no such limits.

One particularly important point he makes is the future of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The only branch of government that has shown any residual willingness to defend the Constitution and the rule of law is the judicial branch. But critical Supreme Court decisions such as Hamdan -- which at least affirmed the most minimal and basic constitutional protections -- depend upon the most precarious 5-4 split among the Justices. One of the five pro-Constitution Justices, John Paul Stevens, is 86 years old. If George Bush has free reign to replace Stevens, it will mean that the Supreme Court will be composed of a very young five-Justice majority of absolute worshippers of Executive Power -- Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito and New Justice -- which will control the Court and endorse unlimited executive abuses for decades to come.

So if you were outraged yesterday, or if you're outraged today, or if you become outraged tomorrow ('bout damn time, too) - don't just sit and fume. Do something. Give a hundred bucks to a Democratic Senate candidate (pick one in a pink or light blue state on the map if you don't have a close race close by). Write a frickin' letter to the editor every time you get riled up. Buy a pro-democracy and/or anti-Bush t-shirt, button or bumper sticker. Buy ten of them, and give them to anyone that will sport them with you. Call in to talk radio, and fight the good fight. Buy Glenn Greenwald's book, read it as fast as you can, and give it away to someone else who'll read it.

This may be now or never.

Meanwhile In Literary News

Meanwhile, in literary news, Sinclair Lewis, dead since 1951, rose from the grave to deliver a new manuscript to his publisher. Unable to comment due to the lack of flesh on his bones, it's not completely clear whether the new work is a sequel to his last great work, It Can't Happen Here, or a revised new edition of the same.

All that's known at this point is the title: It Sure Can Happen Here - And It Turns Out To Not Be All That Hard After All.

The Murderers of Democracy

Via A Tiny Revolution, some words that sort of start to begin to scratch the surface of the political reality of today, by Chris Floyd:
Who are these people? Who are these useless hanks of bone and fat that call themselves Senators of the United States? Let’s call them what they really are, let’s speak the truth about what they’ve done today with their votes on the bill to enshrine Bush's gulag of torture and endless detention into American law.

Who are they? The murderers of democracy.
Sold our liberty to keep their coddled, corrupt backsides squatting in the Beltway gravy a little longer.

Who are they? The murderers of democracy.
Cowards and slaves, giving up our most ancient freedoms to a dull-eyed, dim-witted pipsqueak and his cohort of bagmen, cranks and degenerate toadies. For make no mistake: despite all the lies and distorted media soundbites, the draconian strictures of this bill apply to American citizens as well as to all them devilish foreigners.

Who are they? The murderers of democracy.
Traitors to the nation, filthy time-servers and bootlickers, turning America into a rogue state, an open champion of torture, repression and terror.

Who are they? The murderers of democracy.
Threw our freedom on the ground and raped it, beat it, shot it, stuck their knives into it and set it on fire.

Who are they? The murderers of democracy.
If there was an ounce of moxie left in the American system, these white-collar criminals would be in shackles right now, arrested for high treason, for collusion with a tyrant who is gutting the constitution, pushing terrorism to new heights and waging an unholy, illegal war of aggression that’s killed tens of thousands of innocent people and bled our country dry.

There is no honor in them. There is no decency, no morality, no honesty – nothing but fear, nothing but greed, nothing but base servility. Cringing, wretched little creatures, bowing to the will of a third-rate thug and his gang of moral perverts. This is their record. This is their doing. This is the shame they will have to live with. And this is the darkness, rank, fetid and smelling of blood, that now covers us all.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A New Post For My Pants

Via A Tiny Revolution, a link to Top 176 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With "Pants".

A sampling:
  • I sense the conflict within you. Let go of your pants!
  • I cannot teach him. The boy has no pants.
  • Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your pants.
  • These aren't the pants you're looking for.
  • I am altering the pants. Pray that I don't alter them any further.
  • Take care of your pants, Han. I guess that's what you're best at, isn't it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Torture Is Bad

Via No More Mister Nice Blog, a link to this essay by Joe Galloway on We've Sunk to Osama's Level. As the blog mentions, this was written before McCain, Graham and Warner completely caved - er, I mean, compromised.
Sleep deprivation was a favorite of the Soviet KGB. They knew that after three or four days their victim would be hallucinating, shivering and shaking, weakened to the point where he would admit anything just for the hope of half an hour of sleep.

I saw water-boarding long ago in Vietnam. A half-naked young man, suspected of being a local Viet Cong guerrilla, was handed over by his American captors to South Vietnamese troops.

Four of them held him down. An old, dirty rag was coiled around his face covering his nose and mouth. A fifth held a five-gallon tin of water slowly pouring it into the coiled rag.

The water took the place of air for that prisoner. His chest heaved violently as he sought the air and took in only water. I turned away before I could see whether he talked or drowned. An American captain shrugged; it was a Vietnamese thing.

...Those abominations existed in Vietnam, but they were not carried out by Americans. There was a line that was never to be crossed. It was a line between barbarity and civilization. It was a line between them and us.

He gets right to the point about exactly whose asses are really being covered by Bush's pro-torture efforts:
If all these illegalities, if all this immoral and un-American conduct, were not set right and somehow made legal in some hasty legislation, then it would not only be the agents who poured the water and beat the prisoners who someday might face war crimes charges, it could also be those who bent and broke the laws and the treaties.

Lastly, he boils it down perfectly.
We once stood for something good in this world. We once took the high moral ground in our struggle with the evil that exists. We once upheld the Geneva Conventions not only because we expected our enemies to apply them in their treatment of American prisoners but because they were the law, and they were right.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Onion Vol. 42 #38

Today's Onion: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Gerrymandered To Serve King Friday's Make-Believe Agenda.
MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD, PA—A plan to radically redistrict Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood to further cement the control of the powerful King Friday XIII political machine is expected to pass this week and deeply affect current taxation structure, voting patterns, and services. "Meow-me-meow can't afford meow property tax as it stands now meow, and meow don't want everything I've worked for to be destroyed meow," said one resident, who asked to remain anonymous. Among the anticipated changes are sharp cutbacks in speedy deliveries, the elimination of trolley routes to such low-income districts as Someplace Else and the platypus mound, as well as the destruction of the Museum-Go-Round to make room for a massive new headquarters for The Electric Company.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Talk Like A Pirate, Ye Scurvy Dogs

Sept. 19 is Int'l Talk Like A Pirate Day

Avast, me mateys. Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day. This here trainin' video be hilarious.

And whether you're a lubber or a gentleman of fortune, finer garb with the Jolly Roger ye'll not find, and you may lay to that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

RFK Jr. on the Stolen Election of 2004

Via Slashdot, an amazing - and amazingly footnoted - article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in Rolling Stone, Was the 2004 Election Stolen? (spoiler alert — spoiler alert: yes.)

After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election.

It's frickin' long, but still; read all, I entreat you.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ann Richards, 1933 - 2006

A few good stories about Ann Richards, who died Wednesday. She was governor before I got here, and I never met her, but for some reason I still somehow really miss her. She was what politicians and leaders should be: real, and funny, and human.

A few of the best of the many tributes, anecdotes and stories that I've so far:
  • Remembering Ann Richards - Molly Ivins

    Ann was the candidate of everybody else, especially for women. She represented all of us who have lived with and learned to handle good ol' boys, and she did it with laughter. The spirit of the crowd that set off from the Congress Avenue Bridge up to the Capitol the day of Ann's inauguration was so full of spirit and joy. I remember watching San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros that day with tears running down his cheeks because Chicanos were finally included.

  • "A Texas Legend" - from Burnt Orange Report
    I drove Ann to dinner one night, just the two of us. The election outcome was very much in doubt. It was raining, and my wipers screeched on the windows.

    “I don’t know, I don’t know,” she said.
    “Know what?” I mumbled.
    “Know what to do if we lose. There are so many people depending on me. Young people. Women. Texas. We just can’t lose.” If WE lose, she said. I didn’t respond. I didn’t know what to say. We rode along in silence, with the damned windshield wipers shreeking.

    Ann wasn’t worried about her losing. She was worried about us. She didn’t want US to lose, and by “us” she meant all Texans who had been so casually forgotten by an ignorant good-old-boy system, by a racist past that still haunts us today, by a cold-as-coffin-nails callous state government somehow always trumped old small-town Texas neighborliness.

  • Orange. And Blue. - from Burnt Orange Report
    As it came time for Ann to speak, I told her the press had left, so we wouldn’t be getting any coverage of her speech. I expected her to be unhappy about it, but she wasn’t and went back to adding notes in the margin of her already beautiful speech.

    When she started, I recognized the words as they flowed along. But you could also see and hear that Ann’s emotions were building, unlike the day’s previous speeches. Somewhere along the line – maybe 15 minutes in – she cast the speech aside and started roaring with a fury the likes of which I’ve never seen before or since. The crowd went crazy – repeatedly interrupting her with standing ovations and screams and shouts and amens.

    It all came so fast and furious that I don’t remember the words. But it left a deep, permanent impression on me and I suspect everyone in that room. Afterward, I felt like I’d stood in the face of a hurricane.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - Far Away

From their 2002 album One Beat, Sleater-Kinney's Far Away (live MP3).
7:30 am nurse the baby on the couch
then the phone rings
"Turn on the T.V."
watch the world explode in flames
and don't leave the house

And the sky overhead
is silent, waiting
Clear blue holds its breath
And the heart is hit
in a city far away
but it feels so close

Don't breathe the air today
Don't speak of why you're afraid
(Standing here on a one way road
and I fall down,
no other direction for this to go
so we fall down)

And the president hides
while working men rush in
To give their lives
I look to the sky
and ask it not to rain
On my family tonight

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld, Homicidal Optimist

Wow, this one's just stunning. Via This Modern World, yet another episode of, "Bush Administration: Crazy, or Stupid?"

Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday.

..."The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said.

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Where I've Been (And Where You Should Be, Too)

Frequent readers - you both know who you are - have surely noticed a dearth of postings 'round here. My apologies for that. And not just apologies, but excuses, too!

One is, I just haven't been seeing as much stuff to post here as I do sometimes. It's all either too specific and oddball (yes, there is a threshold, despite what you may think), or too big, and better covered, well, anywhere else.

The other excuse is, I've been busy in other corners of my Vast Online Empire. One you know, hopefully - Far Out Shirts. Buy early and buy often. The other you probably don't know, as it's pretty new.

It's called, and it's a site written entirely by me (so far), dedicated to defeating Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in this year's election. I feel I've got a decent amount of information published there now, and plans for lots more. So drop on by - there's a blog over there, too.