Monday, June 30, 2008

What's on my mind today

Photo by John Russell, from Saving Antiquities for Everyone, a fascinating if heart-breaking organization and web site where you can read this fascinating article

I'm tired of thinking about the massive goatfuck that has been the BushCo administration's Iraq "war"/occupation, and how our tax dollars and our economy and our futures are being squandered on no-bid contracts to corporate fuckers like Halliburton and Blackwater. I remember reading these articles about just how wisely all that money was handled in Iraq: from giant pallets of cash that just vanished to people tossing around bricks of hundreds in the most bizarre games of football ever played.

We still hear a lot about the funding of the war and occupation, and many blogs have those little dollar-counter widgets in their sidebars, tallying the ever-rising cost of the boondoggle in Iraq. However, we don't read too much anymore about the looting of artifacts that took place in Iraq shortly after the initial Shock and Awe (aka "nuke 'em 'til they glow") phase of the Iraq invasion. Here is an article from TomDispatch introducing an excerpt from Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Public, written by my personal hero Chalmers Johnson, about just what was lost in Iraq in those turbulent days--and how much our world has lost in terms of the history of human civilization. Note: I did a review of Chalmers' great book here.)

These lines really galled me:

These events were, according to Paul Zimansky, a Boston University archaeologist, "the greatest cultural disaster of the last 500 years." Eleanor Robson of All Souls College, Oxford, said, "You'd have to go back centuries, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, to find looting on this scale." Yet Secretary Rumsfeld compared the looting to the aftermath of a soccer game and shrugged it off with the comment that "Freedom's untidy. . . . Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes."
So one person compares the looting to that of the Mogol hordes; another calls it merely "untidy." In a testament to the BushCo mindset regarding anything remotely intellectual--history, culture, the arts, museums, and so forth--the entire quote was "Stuff happens. Freedom's untidy.... Free people are free to mistakes and commit crimes." (and yet they're still picking up people and throwing them into Gitmo--for what, exactly?) Truly mind-boggling.

We'll never know what all was lost, and what continues to be lost. I almost start crying when I think of that thrilling scene in National Treasure, where they discover among the treasure all the materials from the library at Alexandria--intact. To an old English major like me, it would be like Lancelot finding the Holy Grail.

But that was just a movie. No one will ever recover what was lost during the looting of Baghdad. From Tom Engelhardt:

Worse yet, the looting of antiquity, words and objects, not only never ended but seems to have accelerated. From well organized gangs of grave robbers to American engineers building bases to American soldiers taking souvenirs, the ancient inheritance not just of Iraqis but of all of us has simply headed south. According to
Reuters
, more than 1,000 Iraqi objects of antiquity have been confiscated at American airports; priceless cylinder seals are evidently selling on-line at eBay for a few hundred dollars apiece; and this represents just the tiniest fraction of what's gone. The process is not only unending, but in the chaos that is America's Iraq beyond counting or assessing accurately.
Another interesting article, from 2007, from the museum point of view. This was the most recent mention of the looting in Iraq that I was able to find on the interwebs.

FINALLY!

The planets and stars finally aligned and I was able to get a picture of this:
I know it's kinda blurry, and the color is terrible, but gimme a break--I was in a bathroom stall trying not to cause a panic by whipping out my camera phone.

So a lot of the buildings at Penn State have this brand of latch on their bathroom stall doors: HINY-HIDERS. GKL probably remembers these from her time in State College.

Good to know they're taking care of my hiney and hiding it from the rest of the world.

If only Larry Craig had been so lucky.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some WTF quick hits

Obama, say it ain't so
Obama backs the death penalty? Not liking that. He said, "I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes. I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime."
Admittedly, if anything happened to The Kid, I think I'd probably kill the perpetrator -- well, that is, after The Kat had already killed him. However, that is my personal choice--it's not a national policy. Obama should know how fucked up our justice system is, how biased against African-Americans it is, how disproportionately the death penalty is levied against African-Americans versus whites. And thus he should know that the death penalty as policy is, even for the most "heinous" crimes, morally repugnant. In my mind, the government cannot murder people in the name of the state or the people, no matter their crime. I'm against torture for the same reason -- don't waterboard some guy and tell me it's for national security or freedom or so Cheney can have some good videos to jerk off to at night.



I gotta get me one-a (or four-a) these!
Check out the Cat Genie! Just imagine--no more holding my breath and scooping! No more buying those heavy-ass boxes of Tidy Cat Scoopable! Note the matching bathroom accessories!

Wait--would Clawsie go for this?



Tony Scalia: Legal Scholar he ain't, no matter what robe he's wearing
The guy can't even distinguish fact from fiction anymore, so deeply embedded is he up the collective ass of the Bush Administration/Neocon Body Politic. He might as well go up there in a bathrobe. He's the worst kind of lawyer--one who simply bends reality to suit his own opinion of the case.

The cool part? It's documented forever, as he wrote the dissent.



Letting bygones be bygones, no matter how ugly?
Nineteen years ago this month, a military crackdown on the 1989 Tienanmen Square protests resulted in the murder of hundreds of Chinese citizens in Beijing. Yet in 42 days, the world's best athletes will be flooding into Beijing to compete in the 2008 Olympics. Of course, the Chinese government has figured out a way to avoid any uncomfortable memories or associations between that incident and the Olympics: they barred any TV stations from broadcasting live images from Tienanmen Square. Well, that takes care of that!

I ask again the question I've been asking since the IOC made the abhorent decision to award the Games to Beijing: Why aren't we boycotting?

If I were an athlete, no matter how long I'd trained and how much I'd sacrificed to make the Olympic team, I just don't think I could bring myself to set foot in that city and put aside the memories of what that government did to its own citizens--just so that I could run a race or win a medal. I mean, imagine you're a healthy young athlete, excited out of your mind to finally be at THE OLYMPICS. And you step onto Tienanmen Square to -- what, take pictures? Mug for your friends and their cameras? "Hi Mom! Here we are at Bloody Square!" Nope, I just don't think I could go.

Of course, an administration that condones and encourages torture, blows other countries' cities and citizens to bits, and pretends they're bringing democracy to the world probably doesn't have an issue with what the Chinese government made its military do in 1989.



This is a news story?
This was at the top of the McClatchy page, under "Latest Headlines." What's next, a comparison of their hair?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

From the "no shit, Sherlock!" files

Okay, Nancy—I get that you're so fucking gutless and bought-and-paid-for by the corporatocracy that you decided to completely cave to Chimpy and Darth Cheney’s demand for telecom immunity.

As Doctor Monkey von Monkerstein so eloquently said, THANKS FOR NOTHING.

When are you going to get the guts to stand up and say, “You know what? You republicans—you’re on your way OUT. The people elected us democrats to CHANGE the shit that you guys fucked up. This is one of those things. No more giving up our constitutional rights! No more corporate sell-outs! No more cowering in the corners, folks—we dems are gonna kick some ass and do our best to get this country back from the rich white neocon corporate assholes who’ve taken it over!”

I don't wanna be hatin', but I'm guessing you'll never have the guts to do anything even close to that.

But apparently, you've found the guts to agree with the most fucking obvious of notions: that Hillary Clinton faced sexism during her run for the democratic nomination.

Well, shit, Nancy! You’ve got a real pair of brass ones on you! That took some real guts to go to Shakesville or someplace and read the million posts SHOWING the sexist remarks and coverage that Hillary had to deal with on a daily basis! And gees, you're shootin' this wad a whole month after her whole fucking campaign is OVER! Wow, you're a regular Captain Courage, aren't you?

Boy, you’re just my big hero now because you're so fucking brave. If only we had more courageous dems like you!

Oh wait -- we do.

L-R, assholes Nancy "Gutless Wonder" Pelosi and Steny Fucking Hoyer.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A break from work is a good good thing

Take Beckeye's song lyrics quiz. Guaranteed to tickle your brain to def and make it impossible to work for the rest of the afternoon.

Let's cancel this show now.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What I do when I'm not thinking about Gitmo

This is an email from my pal Niki -- it's repeated pastings of a dust mite, magnified like 3 millions times. We send this image to one another when we want to laugh and creep each other out.
On the blue bar at the bottom, if you could read it, you'd see I was listening to Jennifer Holliday singing "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)" from Dreamgirls, and checking out the latest band on Splotchy's "Who's in Charge Here?" blog.
And counting down the minutes until 5 o'clock, mate. Always that.
P.S.--This cleansing post brought to you by Niki.

What do you mean, "I'm under arrest"?

©Jim Boorman
Huge h/t to the World Information Access Project and Sabrina I. Pacifici's beSpacific.com

We bloggers like to joke about ending up in Guantanamo Bay's prison camp because of our not-so-subtly masked disapproval (read: hatred) of Chimpy BushCo and his policies, and our willingness to air these thoughts online.

Some bloggers, however, actually DO end up being jailed. For an average of 15 months. This from a report I found here.
Unfortunately, one way to assess the political importance of blogging around the world is through the growing number of blogger arrests. Since 2003, 64 citizens unaffiliated with news organizations have been arrested for their blogging activities.

The topics of these blog posts vary, as do the kind of criminal charges and punishments handed down. Altogether 940 months of jail time has been served by bloggers around the world. China, Egypt and Iran account for more than half of all the arrests since 2003.
Lest you think this only happens in war-affected or unstable places like Iran or China, it's also happened in the UK this year.

And here, in 2006.

What are these people being charged with? Again from the report:

These bloggers expose bureaucratic corruption or human rights abuses and express opinions about political figures and public policy options. They post reports and photos from social protests. They write about political artwork, or share images and texts that some feel violate cultural norms.
The bloggers arrested in both England and here were charged with violating "cultural norms." The report doesn't say whether that means they did something illegal like post child pornography (which does WAY more than violate cultural norms, of course) or they just posted something about being gay, or being polyamory, or being agnostic. Those things technically violate our cultural norms, but they're hardly criminal activities worthy of jail time.

Learn more at the WIA Project web site. It might become important someday, especially if our government continues its jackbooted march toward fascism under McFossil, should he and his party steal the next election.
P.S.--the only thing I could find about the US blogger who was charged as a pedophile is to a Faux "News" report. I didn't dare google that too much longer lest I be flagged at work or something!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Do women really buy this shit?


Ah -- a trip to JoAnn Fabrics is never without some amusement for me, but this last time I just about got arrested after seeing this display. "The Shirley."

The little old ladies who cut the fabric were not amused at my disdain, and when I pulled out my cellphone camera I think they wanted to throw me out of the store.

"The Doris." Please, Fran's god, tell me that NO ONE actually purchased any of these items, unless it was someone doing her doctoral dissertation in Women's Studies on the fucking assholery of sexist marketing!
And of course, you can't have "woman" stuff without some stupid reference to SHOPPING, because that's ALL we bitchez do! That is, when we're not mouthing off to our hen-pecked husbands and boyfriends!

All I could think was, "Where's Whiskey Marie when you need her? She'd effing GO HOUSE on this shit."

I also found this:
Words fail me. I was so hoping someone would buy one of these; sadly, no one did. Perhaps like me they were appalled at the idea of displaying such grammar faux pas in their gardens.

Finally:

Kidding! I actually found this at the hardware store, not JoAnn Fabrics, but Kat wouldn't buy it for me. Dammit! I know just how Ralphie felt.

You'll put your eye out, indeed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Loose Ends

Warning: this is going to be another post where I rely on the funny images I've found on the internets, for lack of content. Frankly, I'm exhausted by the whole political climate and the media's "coverage" of it, so these photo-posts amuse me.
1. Separated at birth?

2. The hilarity that is GOP.com:
Exhibit A:

Believe me, repugs--after your performance on immigration, there are NO speakers of EspaƱol needing your site translated for them. They already know it says, "If you're not white and rich, get the hell outta here!"

Exhibit B:



What "pledge" is that, exactly? "We pledge to fuck up the environment every single second we're alive! We pledge to drill for oil on every square inch of this planet! We plan to continue the BushCo policy of ignoring climate change and science altogether!"



Exhibit C:

It's hard to see here, but they actually have a little time-clock on the bottom (red stripe) running on the amount of time "since Barack Obama Visited Iraq" -- seriously! Because we got such a fucking ACCURATE portrayal of Iraq from Johnny McFossil, I guess this is supposed to be an impressive talking point? Also note the use of "awkward" photos of the other dem candidates. Um--hello?--with the exception of Hillary, the other three dems have been out of the race for months! Who gives a shit, pugs?

Exhibit D:

Let's just ignore the fact that you're making it seem like Obama is the one who's had "controversial activity" (it's supposed to refer to Obama's VP search committee guy's past) because that's just fucking pathetic. Let's go with taking a look at rhetoric vs. action, McFossil:

--McCain's had how many lobbyists resign from his campaign?

--McCain's wife stands to make a mint from the proposed purchase of Anheuser-Busch by a Belgian company, as Dr. Zaius so eloquently points out.

--McCain seems inherently unable to even USE rhetoric, much less have his actions match it.

HOLY SHIT TIM RUSSERT'S DEAD!

HOLY SHIT!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dan Rather busts ass on the MSM--UPDATED! Moyers does too!


This post has been UPDATED to include The Great Bill Moyers' presentation at the same conference.

Fellow Texans The Great Bill Moyers and former CBS anchorman Dan Rather had a few choice words to say about the corporate media this weekend at the National Conference for Media Reform hosted by Free Press.




Some highlights, first from Rather:

The Framers of our Constitution enshrined freedom of the press in the very first Amendment, up at the top of the Bill of Rights, not because they were great fans of journalists - like many politicians, then and now, they were not - but rather because they knew, as Thomas Jefferson put it, that, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was and never will be."

In the news and on the news, one could, to be sure, find persons and views that did not agree with all or parts of this official narrative. Hans Blix, the former U.N. chief weapons inspector, comes to mind as an example. But the burden of proof, implicitly or explicitly, was put on these dissenting views and persons... the burden of proof was not put on an administration that was demonstrably moving towards a large-scale military action that would represent a break with American precedent and stated policy of how, when, and under what circumstances this nation goes to war.

And these questions are met with what is now called, euphemistically and much too kindly, what is now called "message discipline." Well, we used to have a better and more accurate term for "message discipline." We called it "stonewalling."

But when a tough question is asked and not answered, when reputable people come before the public and say, "wait a minute, something's not right here," the press has treated them like voices crying in the wilderness.

But it is rare, now, to find a major news organization owned by an individual, someone who can say, in effect, "The buck stops here." The more likely motto now is: "The news stops... with making bucks."

One might ask just where the news fits into this model. And if you really need an answer, you can turn on your television, where you will see the following:
--Political analysis reduced to in-studio shouting matches between partisans armed with little more than the day's talking points.
--Precious time and resources wasted on so-called human-interest stories, celebrity fluff, sensationalist trials, and gossip.
--A proliferation of "news you can use" that amounts to thinly-disguised press releases for the latest consumer products.

Ensuring that a free press remains free will require vigilance, and it will require work. Please, take tonight's energy and inspiration home with you. Take it back to your desks and your workplaces, to your colleagues and your fellow citizens. magnify it, multiply it, and spread it. Make it viral. Make it something that cannot be ignored - not by the powers in Washington, not by the owners and executives of media companies. Write these people. Call them. Send them the message that you know your rights, you know that you are entitled to news media as diverse and varied as the American people... and that you deserve a press that provides the raw material of democracy, the good information that Americans need to be full participants in our government of, by, and for the people.


Then from Moyers:

"As journalism goes, so goes democracy," renowned PBS host Bill Moyers told the
crowd at the National Conference for Media Reform.

[Media consolidation is] …a corrosive social force. It robs them of their voice in public affairs, pollutes the political culture, and turns the debate over profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.

So it is that democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent while enhancing the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it.


This is the role in which Rather can continue to make a difference: as critic of the MSM and a motivator to the public for action against the corporate media. I see this as more of his penance for playing Bush-lapdog (as most journalists did) for those years in the anchor chair at CBS Evening News. His piece on electronic voting machines was another bit of his penance, another "Our Father" hurled at the devil that is the corporate-owned media and its slavish devotion to BushCo.

Moyers has spent his career speaking truth to power; his Journal series was telling the truth about BushCo's lies and the media's peddling of those lies over a year ago. He didn't need Scotty McLellan to tell him Bush was lying.


I hope we keep getting more from Rather and Moyers--a couple of classic newsmen who still realize the importance of protecting the public from a hostile and controlling government. And I hope their example inspires a new generation of journalists to take the responsibilities of their profession as seriously as Rather and Moyers do.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

And now...

...for some photos I've been as yet unable to use because I can't seem to build a good post about them.

1. Count Pasty takes a bite out of repuglicanism.

"I vont to suck your wallet!"

2. Cindy McCain really should've told her husband that having brown Chiclets for teeth is not that "presidential."

"Does this job come with a dental plan, my friends?"

3. Worst-case-scenario McCain VP candidate Condi's feeling it this morning.

Man, I knew I shouldn't have partied with those guys from KISS.

Hillary, this one's for you

From The Great Gatsby, copyright F. Scott Fitzgerald:

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning----

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

It's time, Hillary. It's time to step aside, to accept that no matter how close you were, you didn't make it.

As hard as that fact is to accept, accept it you must. It's Obama's time now.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Honoring a soldier

Ron Edmonds / Associated Press
President Bush looks on after presenting the Medal of Honor to Tom, left,
and Romayne McGinnis, the parents of Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis of Knox, Pa.

President Chimpy awarded a Medal of Honor to a fellow Pennsylvanian, Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis, for saving the lives of four comrades by jumping on a grenade and absorbing the blast himself. He was killed, but his four comrades lived.

How many of us would choose such a fate? Luckily for me, and for my family, I don't have to make that choice. I chose not to sign up for the military, back when I was young enough to do so. Now, I don't have to go to Iraq to serve in an illegal occupation of a once-sovereign nation.

Pfc. McGinnis had a choice too, and he chose to serve--and serve bravely. For that, he deserves the Medal of Honor and our eternal thanks for his sacrifice.

What he does not deserve is to have that medal presented to him by the man who started this illegal war, who continues to pour soldiers' lives and our nation's future into an abyss, and who didn't even have the personal courage to go to war himself. Instead he played around in the Texas Air National Guard, going AWOL for up to a year and avoiding combat altogether.

From the LA Times article: "During Monday's ceremony -- only the fourth time the Medal of Honor has been presented for exceptional valor in the Iraq war -- Bush was noticeably choked up." (way to glorify the Idiot, LA Times.)

I bet he was "choked up."

I bet he cried like a fucking baby, thinking about this soldier's sacrifice. After all, this is the same president who claimed earlier this year, when speaking with American troops in Afghanistan,
I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks.
How romantic and exciting and fantastic--right, Chimpy? If he'd ever been to war, he'd know what a fantasy world he's living in. He'd know what all soldiers know: that war is hell..

This 19-year-old kid probably wasn't thinking any of those idiotic things when he saved his fellow soldiers' lives; he probably wasn't thinking about making history.

How romantic and exciting and fantastic it would be to have Bush make some history of his own and turn himself over to the authorities for war crimes.

But we all know that's not going to happen. Instead, he'll continue his war of aggression, his occupation in various countries the world over, his complete divestiture of our nation's wealth and future.

In a bizarro world somewhere, the true George Bush--the one who knows what a fuck-up he is, and knows how he's driven this country into the shitter--really IS crying. Real tears, not that fake acting bullshit he pulls in front of the media when his handlers tell him to think of something sad, like his puppy dying, so the reporters will get a good shot of him.

In that bizarro world, Chimpy would cry because he would know--deep down inside that chicken heart of his--that he never even came close to giving his life in military service for his country. He would know he's a spoiled rich-boy coward whose family name and money got him his sweet little Guard duty instead of a tour or two in Vietnam.

He would know he's no fighter jock; he's a stuffed jock.

He would know he's not the real elected president; he's a C student whose father's political connections bought him the White House.

He would know he doesn't deserve to stand on the same stage as Pfc. McGinnis' parents.

He would know that he should be apologizing to them every single day from now on for starting this whole war and occupation that led to the death of thousands of American soldiers like McGinnis, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens.