American Samizdat

Tuesday, November 30, 2004. *

Has Communism been defeated or discredited, or both, or neither?

Should the law protect journalists from having to reveal their sources?

Are bloggers journalists?

Just some questions & a little rambling

I would have edited this better, but I can't, or at least haven't been able for the past three or four hours, to access the edit function for Radically Inept.

I will try again, as it appears things are moving faster.
posted by rick at 1:25 PM
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Okay, I better just come clean on this one. I was looking for a photo of some bubbha-looking-fellow to go along with the gas station in the lower right hand corner, when suddenly, I came across this odd man. As soon as I saw him, everything went dark. When I recovered conciousness, I found this fake ad for a fake internet militia exported as a .gif on macromedia fireworks. Its kind of scary how real it looks... Sometimes I wonder, am I crazy? or is everyone else crazy?
posted by Nick at 2:11 AM
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Monday, November 29, 2004. *
"Isn't the Bush administration facing much the same situation in the US, absent the mass street rallies?"
In related essays, Dave Lindorff observes the "irony and hypocrisy" of the media's treatment of the contested presidential election in Ukraine, and notes that a "nation of sheep in America is getting a lesson in democracy from the former Soviet state of Ukraine."
posted by Bill at 7:55 PM
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Dare to dream.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:37 PM
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Stem cells (of the non-embryonic variety) to the rescue. This is a fairly major break through. In the "because sometimes positive stuff is on AmSam" category.

posted by ben at 9:06 AM
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Andrew Berends - video still

"For months on end, these seven independent photographers and filmmakers have worked exclusively in Iraq documenting US troops and Iraqi civilians, resistance fighters and child laborers, imprisoned women and incarcerated youths.
Using varied media and narrative styles ranging from photojournalism to first person narratives, cinema verite and found photography, Iraq Uncensored photographers present insights and subtleties beyond what daily news reporting can provide.
Together they will present rare windows on Iraq, the land that cradled what we now call civilization."
posted by Youngfox at 6:58 AM
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Sunday, November 28, 2004. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:35 PM
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--Marine Staff Sgt. Russell Slay,  giving instructions to his 5-year-old son, Walker, in a letter to his family shortly before he was killed. He was one of 12 soldiers from Texas killed in Iraq this month.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:58 PM
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And Counterbrand the Republicans....

I actually thought that Oliver Willis' Brand Democrat idea was a good one. We need left of center network models to promote them though, which I guess is one reason why we're here.

I think we need to counterbrand the Republicans while we're at it. These are two of my humble attempts.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 3:57 AM
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Saturday, November 27, 2004. *
Evolution and Those Who Prefer Not to Evolve
From Gallup: "Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word."

If you are inspired to change these sad statistics, here's a tool box for you: Talk Origins, Skeptics Annotated Bible, Raving Atheist, Religious News Blog, American Samizdat, Internet Infidels, God is for Suckers, James Randi Educational Foundation, Free Inquiry, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. This atheist hopes to see you down here in the foxholes soon, tovarish.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:19 PM
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eye on amsam 27 nov 04

Big thanks to new Harbingers! (in order of appearance): Ben of commonSci, Gloria Brame of Inside the Mind of Gloria Brame, Robin Herman of girl in the locker, Bob of Way Down Here, Hate Gun of, Shannon Hubbell of blacksundae, Young Fox of Youngfox Canada and Teresa Ortega of In Sequence! Thank you all!

Big thanks again to John of Social Design Notes for giving American Samizdat such a svelte new look!

Remember, kids: you, too, can be a Harbinger. Write me!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:31 PM
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Friday, November 26, 2004. *
At the dedication of the Clinton library last week in Little Rock, Karl Rove and President Bush received separate tours of the dramatic building, a glistening silver, suspended boxcar filled with light and with a panoramic view of the Arkansas river. [...] [W]hen the presidents were announced, Bush tried to push his way past Clinton at the library door to be first in line, against the already accepted protocol for the event, as though the walk to the platform was a contest for alpha male. [....] According to two eyewitnesses, Rove had shown keen interest in everything he saw, and asked questions, including about costs, obviously thinking about a future George W Bush library and legacy. "You're not such a scary guy," joked his guide. "Yes, I am," Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: "I change constitutions, I put churches in schools ..." [...] Bush appeared distracted, and glanced repeatedly at his watch. When he stopped to gaze at the river, where secret service agents were stationed in boats, the guide said: "Usually, you might see some bass fishermen out there." Bush replied: "A submarine could take this place out."

[Why do I find these sorts of articles consistantly not present in US mainsteam news and consistantly present in non-US mainstream news? Must be that liberal bias I keep hearing about.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:42 AM
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Thursday, November 25, 2004. *
"Morality Masquerading as Fact" said Kinsey ...We Need Him Again
Just back from "Kinsey," a superb, must-see movie for our neo-puritan times. We took our teenaged kids and our college-age niece for a post-Thanksgiving dinner outing. And they were full of questions, exclamations and thanks after the movie; stunned at the level of ignorance pre-Kinsey about what they consider common sexual information now.
Then I told them how health textbooks in Texas schools no longer include any information on contraception. The politics of morality trumps science and health and common sense.

Sexual Behavior in the Human Female: By the Staff of the Institute for Sex Research, Indiana University, Alfred C. Kinsey ... Et Al.
published 1953

Via Girl in the Locker Room
posted by RHerman at 9:10 PM
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Maureen Dowd's column in the NYTimes on the airport pat-downs:

"Airport screening procedures are more reactive than imaginative. There's an attempted shoe bombing, so all passengers must shed their shoes. Two female Chechens may or may not have sneaked explosives onto Russian planes, so now some T.S.A. genius decides all women are subject to strips and body searches."

"If we were buttoning up the borders and making the airlines safer, unbuttoning in public would be more bearable."

(also see D.T.'s post below)

posted by RHerman at 7:58 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:57 PM
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Copping a Feel for the Homeland, Part Two
Airport pat-downs trigger alarm, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 25 Nov 04

"Screeners are supposed to pat down passengers if a metal detector goes off or if a passenger is wearing something bulky or baggy and the contours of the body are not visible. Also, some passengers are randomly selected for a 'secondary' search, which includes a scan with a hand wand, a bag search and a pat-down. About 10 percent of all passengers are selected.

"Many passengers have found the searches intrusive and unnecessary. Others said screeners used the front or side of their hands, and not the back of the hand.

"'Look at what I'm wearing,' said Snipes, as she stood up and showed off a thin, tight, stretchy, short-sleeved shirt that revealed every curve of her chest and torso. 'Does it look like I'm hiding anything?'

An 83-year-old woman, whose pacemaker had apparently triggered the metal detector, said she was embarrassed when a stranger singled her out and ran her hands up and down her body.

"'I'm an old lady,' said the California woman, who didn't want to be named. 'I thought, "For God's sake, what are you looking for?" I've never had anyone do that to me before.'

"In New York, a woman is considering filing a lawsuit after a pat-down in Florida, the Dallas Morning News reported. A Colorado woman complained to the TSA after a screener asked her to lift her shirt and expose her stomach in front of several men, while her toddler cried, the paper said.

"A woman in Florida was recently asked to strip off her belt, shoes and leather jacket -- and then her shirt. After much protest, she took off her shirt to reveal a thin, see-through camisole, which didn't stop a screener from touching her breast and groin area, The New York Times reported.

"Doug Honig, a spokesman for the ACLU in Washington state, said the agency has gotten several complaints and plans to discuss them with the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security."

As I read this I recalled Arundhati Roy's comment from her Seattle Town Hall appearance: "The USA PATRIOT Act is not meant for the terrorists. It is meant for you. It is meant to terrorize you."

GitLR's original post on this issue
posted by mr damon at 3:02 PM
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Happy Secular Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday Anne Gaylor
On this date in 1926, Freedom From Religion Foundation founder Anne Gaylor, nee Nicol, was born on a farm near Tomah, Wisconsin. Her mother, Lucie Sowle Nicol, who died when Anne was 2, was descended from George Sowle, a passenger on the Mayflower (an apprentice, not a Pilgrim). On her father's side of the family she is a second-generation freethinker. Reading by 4, and soon out-reading her one-room schoolhouse's small library, Anne was grateful to freethinker Andrew Carnegie (who shares her birthday) for endowing the Tomah Public Library. She graduated from high school at 16, worked for room and board and as a waitress to pay for college, and graduated with an English degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1949. She married Paul Gaylor in 1949, and continued to work through four pregnancies. She sold her successful business in 1966, the first private employment agency in Madison, Wis., and became editor of the Middleton Times Tribune, turning it into an award-winning weekly. After writing the first editorial in the state calling for legalized abortion in 1967, she began receiving calls from desperate women, and turned to volunteer activism. Among her feminist activities, Anne founded the ZPG Abortion Referral Service in 1970 and over the next 5 years, made more than 20,000 referrals for birth control, abortion and sterilization. In 1972, she co-founded the Women's Medical Fund charity to help low-income women pay for abortions. She has run that charity as a volunteer for 32 years and helped more than 14,000 women. (Who says atheists don't run charities?) Her book Abortion is a Blessing was published in 1975. "There were many groups working for women's rights," she realized, "but none of them dealt with the root cause of women's oppression - religion." In 1976, she founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation, with her daughter Annie Laurie and a Milwaukee gentleman, to promote freethought and the separation of state and church. After a string of successful legal and media actions, she was asked to go national with the Foundation in 1978, and served as its elected president for 28 years. She took the Foundation from a 3-member, dining-room cause operation to a group with more than 5,000 members, a national office, newspaper, other publications, and many successful state/church lawsuits. Since November, as president emerita, she is working as a consultant for the Foundation. One of her mostly widely-quoted aphorisms: "Nothing fails like prayer."

(The above, with links added, is from Freethought of the Day. This resource also notes the antipathy of Andrew Carnegie towards religion, and the fact that President Thomas Jefferson refused to issue prayer proclamations for Thanksgiving during his eight years in office.
posted by Trevor Blake at 1:36 PM
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According to informed sources in Washington and Houston, the Bush campaign spent some $29 million to pay polling place operatives around the country to rig the election for Bush. The operatives were posing as Homeland Security and FBI agents but were actually technicians familiar with Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, Triad, Unilect, and Danaher Controls voting machines. These technicians reportedly hacked the systems to skew the results in favor of Bush.

The leak about the money and the rigged election apparently came from technicians who were promised to be paid a certain amount for their work but the Bush campaign interlocutors reneged and some of the technicians are revealing the nature of the vote rigging program.

There have been media reports from around the country concerning the locking down of precincts while votes were being tallied. In one unprecedented action in Warren County, Ohio, election officials locked down the facility where votes were being counted. The officials said this was in response to a Level 10 high-threat terrorist warning being issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for Warren County. George Bush won 72 percent of the vote in Warren County, much larger than his percentage of victory statewide. [more]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:55 AM
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Good for him.

Meanwhile, how many irony detectors exploded when Colin Powell talked indignantly about the election in the Ukraine being stolen? Why isn't there an investigation when so many irregularities occurred?!!!


Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann continues his hero's journey here.

Wow, 20 percent of Americans don't believe that Bush won the vote fairly? Good job, bloggers!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:41 AM
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Let's clear things up right away: Tofurky actually exists. No, it's not just a punch line. People really eat it. And though it might horrify carnivorous Portlanders, the vegan turkey substitute was born in 1995 mere miles away, in the Forest Grove kitchen of Seth Tibbott.

Today, Tibbott's Turtle Island Foods cranks hundreds of thousands of the pretend poultry products out of its Hood River plant each holiday season--generating $5 million a year in revenue. Filled with festive holiday cheer, WW's meat-averse reporter Taylor Clark talked Tofurky with the man who saved Thanksgiving for vegetarians.

Oh, and it really does taste like turkey. Mostly. [more]

See also: sales of Tofurky and organic turkeys rising.

Me and Pagan might head over to the Globe later, our second-favorite vegan restaurant in Seattle (known for their biscuits and gravy, which should be popular today). Or we may just relax here and finish off the leftovers from last nite's meal derived from our most favorite vegan restaurant in Seattle--Araya's in the U-District (Thai). Later I will dig up Wm. Burroughs famous Thanksgiving schpiel to blog, which is an annual T-day must. Meanwhile, no homey homilies from me--enjoy your time off!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:19 AM
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Same Page

. . . via Bartcop.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:12 AM
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We are destroying our country -- I mean our country itself, our land. This is a terrible thing to know, but it is not a reason for despair unless we decide to continue the destruction. If we decide to continue the destruction, that will not be because we have no other choice. This destruction is not necessary. It is not inevitable, except that by our submissiveness we make it so.

We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all -- by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians -- be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.

How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:59 AM
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The soldiers said that the commander had fired two shots at the girl from close range as she lay on the ground before withdrawing, turning and "emptying his magazine" by firing some 10 bullets at her body. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:49 AM
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On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1939, Franklin Roosevelt carved the turkey at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Warm Springs, Georgia, and wished all Americans across the country a Happy Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, his greeting went unanswered in some states; many Americans were not observing Thanksgiving on the same day as the President. Instead, they were waiting to carve their turkeys on the following Thursday because November 30th in many states was the official Thanksgiving Day. Two Thanksgivings? Why were Americans celebrating a national holiday on two different days?
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:44 AM
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Wednesday, November 24, 2004. *

It dawned on me tonight the REAL reason the Dems/Progressives lost his election. And it can be summed up with this simple failure, they could not answer the question: What have you done for me lately?
The REAL reason the Dems/Progessives lost this election
posted by rick at 4:11 PM
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More thoughts before the holiday

A very benign title I know, but expect me to re-post this on Monday - yeah, I'm sure that's bad form; as if I truly cared.

My initial idea, on how to effectively influence the mid-term elelctions of 2006.

As I stated in A post of random thoughts? - which turns out to be an apt title, sort of - I'm trying to figure out how to retake, if we ever owned it in the first place, our country. I've stated that the dems have been completely marginilized, and they have. They don't have a message, and if they do, they don't know how to communicate it. I'm not presenting this idea to re-invigorate the dems; fuck 'em, they deserve marginalization. What I'm suggesting, for whomever has the where-with-all, is where effective communication can occur, and at least partially, what the message should contain.

If the religious right has learned to dominate the church, it's sort of pointless to fight on their home field. What I suggest is to move the field of battle to one more...the proper word escapes me at this point in time...but no matter, we need to take control of the job hunting networks. All of them. We need to 'embed' people in every job networking organinzation across the country; yes, including the local church. At every meeting of the job seekers - as opposed to the labor movement where people were called upon to fight and risk jobs they already had - we need to build a movement, one that is largely classless based on composition, of people looking for jobs.

That sort of sums it up. Rather than fight on moral issues, rather than fight on our ability to win an un-winnable war, we need to move to a grassroots movement that targets people who are not able to find jobs through NO FAULT of their own. I believe that would resonnate in all states regardless of colour, and with every family who has someone who is unemployed but actively willing and looking for work.

That is a constituency that both parties have not captured. And in fact, based on their dependency on major corporate contributors, one they cannot capitalize on.

And, hence one ripe for recruitment to a cause that is trying to overthrow corporatism.

Enough for now. And, as I stated above, I will risk being borish and repost this on Monday.

Done for now; more to follow...

posted by rick at 3:00 PM
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T-Shirts Are Not Important
Whether it be anti-gay or pro-civil liberties, people should know that there is no word or image on any t-shirt that can make someone do something they aren't already prone to do. We don't need protection from ourselves or each other when it comes to t-shirts. Thank you for not getting worked up over t-shirts today.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:25 AM
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Tuesday, November 23, 2004. *
The United States Government has once again (for the third time under the current President, if memory serves) voted to raise its spending limits. But it carried out this vote at the last possible minute, in a bill that was over one thousand pages long. The House passed the bill, and the bill was on its way to the Senate.

Democratic Senate staffers noticed that burried in this bill was a provision that would allow the Republican Chairman of the House and the Republican Chairman of the Senate to view the tax records of any US citizen. When this provision was brought to light, the Senate agreed to hold the bill until this provision could be removed.

Remarkably, no Republican claims to know who inserted this provision. Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he doesn't know. Republican Senator Ted Stevens says he doesn't know. Repubican Bill Young says he doesn't know. Senators Sevens and Young would have recieved this new power had the Democrats not brought it to light. No Democrat claims to know who inserted this provision.

Is it really possible that no one knows who writes the laws of the United States? Is it appropriate for anyone to think this is an appropriate law to sponsor? Is it time to consider the experiment called the United States of America to have had a 200+ year shelf life and start over?

posted by Trevor Blake at 9:39 AM
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From the NYTimes:
Many Women Say Airport Pat-Downs Are a Humiliation

Patti LuPone complains about being practically stripped and groped in public. I've had to do the dance myself, take off the coat, then the jacket, then the sweater to show the camisole underneath, the shoes, the belt....anything else? I said to the screener looking him in the eye...I usually only do this for my husband...and turned the guy beet red. This didn't have a whole lot to do with security in my mind. Power games going on. Even the police can't ask you to do this without probable cause.

Here's the Transportation Security Administration's enabling
TSA policy is that screeners are to use the back of the hand when screening sensitive body areas, which include the breasts (females only), genitals, and buttocks.

via Girl in the Locker Room
posted by RHerman at 6:10 AM
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Monday, November 22, 2004. *
"The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion." - George Washington

posted by Trevor Blake at 8:15 PM
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"Protection of marriage" is now the watchword for many activists fighting to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying. Some conservatives, however, say marriage in America began unraveling long before the latest gay-rights push and are pleading for a fresh, soul- searching look at the institution.

"When you talk about protecting marriage, you need to talk about divorce," said Bryce Christensen, a Southern Utah University professor who writes frequently about family issues.

While Christensen doesn't oppose the campaign to enact state and federal bans on gay marriage, he worries that it's distracting from immediate threats to marriage's place in society.

"If those initiatives are part of a broader effort to reaffirm lifetime fidelity in marriage, they're worthwhile," he said. "If they're isolated - if we don't address cohabitation and casual divorce and deliberate childlessness - then I think they're futile and will be brushed aside."

(I can't wait to have Christian family values as the law of the land. - Trevor)
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:11 PM
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Time Travel
Imagine traveling back in time to 14th Century Europe, with nuclear weapons in your suitcase. You get an audience with a figure of authority (pick the one you like best) and you say that you have a special weapon that can kill and entire city of infidels all at once, from a distance. Just leave this suitcase in the infidel's city, run like blazes, and whoosh! A victory of Christiandom. Do you think the 14th Century religious mind would pause even for a moment to act on this opportunity?

Now, travel back in time to the present, where a nation or two in the world are doing their best to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear. 14th-Century-style theocracies are blooming in the East. Do you think these religious minds will pause even for a moment to strike a blow against Christiandom when they have the chance?

The above is not a quote, but it is a thought inspired by Sam Harris' new book The End of Faith.
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:20 PM
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The Orifice is Open!
an invitation for conspiracy
This is the new project I've been working on, and I do mean work!
The Orifice of Homelandabsurdity

for simplicity you can go directly to the Topics page,
or directly to the
Web Links which doubles as a Consumer Resource page.

Based on Dave Pollard's Eight Fronts of Resistance, I'm hoping it can turn into an orifice of action. I have a good start to a collection of Consumer Resources but I need your help! If you sign up as a member you will be able to submit articles and links related to the topics, otherwise you will still be able to access the resources and comment.
Adding related links of interest in the comments is welcome for the time being until the site grows too much for me to keep up.

Whenever a member writes an especially good blog post relating to any of the topics and believes it has educational value or is a desired plan of action, I urge you to also submit it as news here. or from the 'submit news' link in the main menu. It will then be categorized under the desired topic for easy access.

I hope this can become an easy way to streamline information, provide some collaborative direction and be of service to those who want to walk the walk of Marketing Coolness, something the left has been losing that we need to get back.
posted by Cyndy at 1:10 PM
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A turd in a septic tank.

A hunter killed some people and injured others in a dispute over a tree stand. You can read all about it here.

It matters, especially to those directly affected. It matters as a symptom of underlying problems. It matters in context with everything that's going on around us in this complex society. It is a tragedy that should not be lightly dismissed.

However, all the essential facts have now been reported.

Tomorrow, all nonessential facts and their families will also be reported. Even so, I expect media coverage to stay all over it. With Scott Peterson so yesterday and Kobi Bryant so last month, this is the perfect story for the mainstream media to run with while completely ignoring everything that really matters. They report in nauseatng detail on the turd floating in front of them while pretending the septic tank they live in is a clean room.

Of course, you knew that already or you wouldn't come here looking for news.

posted by Michael Miller at 8:18 AM
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From Independent Weekly, by Clif Garboden. The piece's subtitle is "Sometimes the fish in the barrel deserve to die". Excerpts:
Don't forgive my anger. All this needs to be said. And I know that as soon as that stiff-faced to-the-manure-born right-wing lackey in the White House tries to appoint a 21st-century counterpart to Roy Bean to the Supreme Court in a few weeks, more people are going to wish they'd said it sooner. John Kerry fucked up. More important, America fucked up. And the people who fucked up the most--you infamous red-staters--are going to suffer along with the rest of us. To put it in lingo a NASCAR devotee would understand, "Y'all deserve a good talkin'-to." John F. Kerry, you're first.

In your befuddling concession speech, you actually called for unity and healing. Sounds good, clown, but can't you even imagine for a second that the people who supported you so zealously for the past five months might just see that insincere gesture of good sportsmanship as a betrayal? See, unlike you pols, we voters actually believe in shit. We believe that George W. Bush and his henchpeople are a real threat to the survival of democracy. We believe that they're killing people for profit. And we believe that they don't have a goddamn clue about forfending terrorism on U.S. soil.

That's not a position gap; that's an ideological gash. And it's not going to heal, because, unlike you expedient professional truth-manipulators, I'm not prepared to meet the enemies of freedom halfway just because you lost the election. Your speechwriters might see the Bush administration's failings as nothing more than convenient fodder for your campaign blather, but the GOP junta's sins don't go away just because decrying them no longer serves your ambitions. Last week they were the imperialist pigs who misled us into war and you were the savior. Now we're the goddamn Getalong Gang?! Screw that. Fight back or shut up.

Now, the rest of you. ...

[Read the full article]

also posted on Progressive Blog Alliance

The Progressive Blog Alliance Forum
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Be at peace
posted by total at 7:10 AM
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The US Budget explained in Oreos by the Ice Cream Man

This is a flash video put out by True Majority Action that points to how 'imbalanced' our current spending is.

Let me add, much of our defense spending is based on the political whims of members of congress and to prop up local economies, and of course, to profit some of the largest corporations in America.

Anyway...You might enjoy the video, and you might want to join "True Majority Action".

Oh, I found the link at George W Bush and the 14 points of fascism - Project for the OLD American Century via my buddy, DayTrader. I think you'll find the 14 Points of Fascism worth your time also.
posted by rick at 6:55 AM
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Professor Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University, author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror on Democracy Now!:

After 9/11, I was struck by reports in The New York Times about how the Koran had become a best seller item, about how more and more Americans were going to bookshelves to buy the Koran to get an understanding of the motivation of those who had hit the Twin Towers. And I wonder if the people of Fallujah are trying to find Bibles to read to understand the motivation. [Applause] And I think not. I think not. And I think the reason lies not in the people of the US. The reason lies in the public debate and the public intellectuals, and the way they have framed the public debate in this country. They have framed it in a culture talk. They have framed it with this supposition that it's the culture of people, which is a clue to their politics. Except the peoples of the world are divided into three. There are those whose politics is simply their bodies, and is explained as a biological politics of tribalism. There are others whose politics is their community, understood as religious community. And then, of course, there is the western world, whose culture is historical, who make their culture, who are not trapped in their culture, like the rest of the world.

Well, let me conclude. I know its five minutes and I just want to say in conclusion, that this is symptomatic of a larger crisis. And I believe the larger crisis is a crisis of the human rights movement. The human rights movement, which followed the end of the Second World War, was built on two pre-suppositions. One was that the violators of rights would be mainly third-world countries, newly independent third-world countries. And the second presupposition was that the enforcers of rights would be the big powers. Well, now we are in a world where the biggest power is the key major violator of rights. And in the face of this, I believe the human rights movement today is in a state of paralysis intellectually and politically. That is our challenge.
posted by backspace at 6:11 AM
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Sunday, November 21, 2004. *
What does meditation have to do
with McDonald's and Monsanto?
"Let's look at activism in terms of the negative emotions generated -- indignation and rage, but also frustration, sorrow, resignation. These are negative emotions because of the effect they have on us, the people who experience them. Not on the object of our emotions, whether it be the World Trade Organization, Monsanto, or George Bush. Negative emotions are reactive. Their only impact is on us. What difference does it make to Monsanto that you're seething with indignation at something it has done or said? What difference does it make to the Pacific Lumber Company when you come upon a clear-cut old-growth forest in California and feel devastated?

"Staying present with our emotions -- anger, for example-- means remaining aware of what we're experiencing without becoming lost in reactivity. It means liberating the energy generated by anger from the object that calls it forth. In other words, it is a form of meditation. Then, the possibility exists to work with the situation from a place of clarity, rather than to be submerged in reactivity or confusion... Then you realise that you are the source of your emotions -- not Monsanto or McDonald's.

"This does not imply that we shouldn't have emotional responses [to the actions of those corporations]. It's an indication that we have to use the energy of those responses rather than to be used by them...

"By realising that you are the source of whatever is happening, you begin to take conscious control of your life. And you find the right way to handle George Bush --because underneath his greed and arrogance, he's [simply] not conscious. Looking at the depth of his confusion, we see that in addition to fighting battles, our path as activists involves bringing others to awareness.

"Political awareness and the awareness of nature of mind are the same*. Once people become aware of what they're doing, most of them will not continue to destroy local cultures, or disregard the dangers of global warming, or sell monstrous weaponry to each another.

"Activism is as much about rediscovering our sanity and trust -- our sense of belonging -- as it is about righting perceived wrongs. The fact is that if we're looking for goodness or fairness in others, we're looking for what's inside ourselves. We're looking for what we all share. Once we understand that, the larger goal becomes how to wake our brothers and sisters from their self-destructive sleep.

"In fighting for a just and sustainable global culture, we're also uncovering a globalisation of the spirit. That's because everything is connected: my body and your body and Earth's body, my spirit and your spirit and Earth's spirit, my mind and your mind and Earth's mind. And also my body and society's body, my mind and society's mind, my spirit and my culture's spirit.

"It's only from ignorance of interrelatedness that people succumb to selfish behaviour, to cruelty and cynicism. Destroying the Amazon rainforest in order to plant genetically modified soybeans [is an example of] a lack of awareness that one's body and mind are connected to Earth's body and mind.

"[At the same time], we activists must not focus solely on our own physical well-being, going to yoga classes and eating organic food, while other earthly and social bodies continue to suffer. Otherwise, we're living in a cocoon of self-involvement, oblivious to the greater life around us...

"The problem is not only 'out there': it is also 'in here.' It's not only about agribusiness or pharmaceuticals or neoliberalism: it's also about self-awareness. That is, the problem is at once personal and planetary.

"We can't forget that all of us have created this world. We're doing this to ourselves. We're all products of the same claustrophobic mindset. Consensus reality comes from a shared field of perception. To change it, we have to look at our own beliefs and assumptions in addition to looking at the acts of others. If we don't deal with what could be called the spiritual dimension of activism, if we don't examine the role of the ego, we're simply running away from the total reality."

"Activism is a spiritual path" by Michael Brownstein
in Resurgence, No. 225 Jul/Aug 2004
via Magpie

* To paraphrase HST, "Politics is the art of controlling one's mental environment." Or put another way: "He who loses it, loses."
posted by mr damon at 1:02 PM
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Saturday, November 20, 2004. *
Wow, busting old ladies for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts must've made the Secret Service soft. "Let me see your loyalty oath!" --just didn't cut it in Chile.

Everywhere they go, it seems (in the world and the 'urban archipelago'), the Bushies just can't get no respect. You can steal an election in America, you can murder the hearts and minds of one hundred thousand civilians in Iraq, and you can raise the loyal while banishing the true in your own (by theft) administration, but you just can't steal respect.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:44 PM
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House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, today, in opposition to the anti-abortion clause slipped by Republicans into the Omnibus Spending Bill now under consideration. See full remarks here.

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Weldon amendment, an extraordinary sneak attack on women's rights and a disgraceful display of ideology over health."

"This language is a radical change in policy that the House has not debated on the floor, and the Senate has never considered, debated, or voted on. Republicans simply slipped it into the appropriations bill when they thought no one was looking. It is entirely outside of the scope of this omnibus spending bill. Yet it is a part of a 'must-pass' bill at the insistence of House Republican leaders....

"If a hospital, health insurance company, or doctor opposes Roe v. Wade, they could simply ignore it. Ignore it. This is the law of the land. A Constitutional right could simply be ignored.

"The Weldon amendment is essentially a domestic gag rule, restricting access to abortion counseling, referral, and information. Health care companies should not be able to prevent doctors from giving medically necessary information."
posted by RHerman at 3:23 PM
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I believe Bev Harris has lots of good points about the abyssmal record of electronic voting machines, DieBold especially.

Since the election, she's apparently headed down to Florida, and found some problems. She's going county by county, and all the errors she's found are helping Bush. 100%.

Who'd a thunk it?

Thanks to Estimated Prophet for the link, and to the Grateful Dead
posted by JoshSN at 3:00 PM
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Sponsored by the chemical industry.

Update: this study was suspended.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:10 AM
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While Planned Parenthood is sounding the alarm about an imminent frontal assault on Roe v. Wade from the Bush Administration, today we see instead how it's going to play out -- the end of choice via small and sly nibbles. Flexing post-election muscle, the Senate Republican leadership has just inserted into a must-pass $388 billion omnibus spending bill, an anti-abortion provision that could have broad reach...allowing hospitals and other healthcare providers to duck a responsibility to provide abortion services across the country. This won't stop people with money from getting abortions; this will only affect those women least able to expand their families.
If you think abortion rights are someone else's concern; think again. Do you have sexual relations? Do you believe the decision on whether or not to procreate rests with you and your partner? Do you think that the U.S. Attorney General should have final control of your body, your fertility? This is how it is about to be. These are small steps that lead straight down the path to The Handmaid's Tale.
Eight female Senators objected to the provision, including Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democrat Barbara Boxer of California who has vowed to stand in the way of the bill.

posted by RHerman at 7:55 AM
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Friday, November 19, 2004. *

These questions have been going through my mind for the past few days, and I thought I'd look to you for the answers:

1) Does there exist a cause that most Americans would support; in fact, does there exist a cause, outside of national security/defense, which the majority of Americans would unite behind?

2) Does there exist in our society an individual or group of individuals with the stature, credibility and 'authority' (authority used as trusted source or expert) that could deliver this message/cause to the American people?

For some details, see: Just a couple of questions
posted by rick at 3:24 PM
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Freemans tuesday night the 16th of nov. the bush twins along with 2 massive secret service men tried to have dinner they were told by the maitre 'd that they were full and would be for the next 4 years upon hearing the entire restaurant cheered and did a round of shots it was amazing!!! [Ed: We're hearing that this is actually true.] [source]


posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:54 PM
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From the AmSam Health Desk...
"Visit Pacific Science Center's newest exhibition Jelly Belly presents CANDY UNWRAPPED, open through 2 January 2005. Journey into the tasty and informative world of candy!

corporate confection

"Did you know sugar can be used to disinfect wounds, thicken sauces, enhance the flavor of cough syrups and rehydrate tissues? Interactive and tempting, this exhibit exposes the science of sweets and sours through the biology, chemistry, physiology and psychology of candy. Science never tasted so good!"

"[Become a member of the science center] by 31 December and we'll include a FREE toothbrush!"

That was from a letter sent to the school where I worked. The bit about "the psychology of candy" reminds me of a book I perused a few years ago: Natural Health, Sugar and the Criminal Mind by J.I. Rodale.

Add a couple of dashes of these
to your recipe for liberation:

Diet and health and [their] relation to sugar

Sugar, the food of madness
posted by mr damon at 1:18 PM
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Imagine the Nazis with “mini-nukes.”

I can only hope this vision of the future is way off base.

Too Late to Avoid Neo-con Nihilism? by Kurt Nimmo (Another Day in the Empire)

... John Bolton is to be Deputy Secretary of State. Bolton is the person who wants the U.S. to invade Iran. ... the CIA will now become Feith’s Office of Special Plans on steroids. ... It may be too late. It really is beginning to look like Americans will share the fate of the “Good Germans,” who went along with Hitler and the Nazis to the bitter end, either too cowed, stupid, or herd-like to resist the madness that eventually enveloped and destroyed them. Imagine the Nazis with “mini-nukes.”

It’s almost too horrific to imagine.
posted by Michael Miller at 1:15 PM
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According to Josh Marshall:

"Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles -- it is a time to stand firm.

I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process.

I ask you to join me in this cause."

That's a passage from a message Sen. John Kerry will be sending out to supporters later this afternoon.

Let's hope he actually runs with this. I was disappointed that he conceded so quickly, but I'm glad he's not completely backing down. Kerry's got a great track record for hellraising, and now that's he's not running for president, maybe the gloves will come off.
posted by Klintron at 10:13 AM
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. . . which must mean that more 'Daily Show' watchers know that Tucker Carlson is a 'dick.' Right on!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:06 AM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:50 AM
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Finally, tax legislation that makes sense:

After more than a year of leaving the threat of new state- and city-levied taxes looming over Internet access providers and online merchants, Congress is poised to reimpose a moratorium on taxing Internet access,' according to eWeek. The House had approved a permanent moratorium while the Senate had approved a temporary ban. Members of the House are pushing to compromise and to vote today on the Senate's approach. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation when it is passed.

via Slashdot
posted by ben at 7:45 AM
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Finally, tax legislation that makes sense:

After more than a year of leaving the threat of new state- and city-levied taxes looming over Internet access providers and online merchants, Congress is poised to reimpose a moratorium on taxing Internet access,' according to eWeek. The House had approved a permanent moratorium while the Senate had approved a temporary ban. Members of the House are pushing to compromise and to vote today on the Senate's approach. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation when it is passed.

via Slashdot
posted by ben at 7:45 AM
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In the darkness . . .
After 11 o'clock (do you know where your Congressman is?) last night, the House put the second dagger in, following the Senate's lead in raising the debt limit above 8 godzillabytes.

Maybe we really shouldn't worry about it . . . what with escalating environmental implosion and international politicians' (with too much time on their hands) playing with nukes again, the human race will not be around long enough to pay it down. The debt load left to the cockroaches is gonna be enormous, however.

At any rate, here's sort of a vote analysis:

  • Ayes: 208; all of them Republican (hissssssssssssssssssssss)

  • Nays: 204; Democrats - 193, Republicans - 10 (huzzaahhhhhh), Indy - 1

  • Not voting: 21; Democrats - 12, Republicans - 9

So . . . if all the Democrats who didn't vote had voted nay, that would have been 216. If all the Republicans who didn't vote had votes aye, that would have been 217. The bill still would have passed by one vote. The Republicans who broke ranks and crossed the aisle should get emails and phone calls conveying thanks. Go here for the vote list.

As with the Senate, where three heavy hitter Democrats (including presidential wannabe HC) failed to vote, I fail to understand why the Democrats didn't fight harder. Vote pairing sucks. Being conveniently away from the floor sucks more worser.

Here are the Democrats who didn't vote: Ackerman, Carson (OK), Dooley (CA), Gephardt, Hoeffel, Kleczka, Lipinski, Matsui, McCarthy (NY), McDermott, Millender-McDonald, Stark.

Creeps. Fire 'em.

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Be at peace

posted by total at 5:28 AM
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Thursday, November 18, 2004. *
A "poll tape" is the phrase used to describe a printout from an optical scan voting machine made the evening of an election, after the machine has read all the ballots and crunched the numbers on its internal computer. It shows the total results of the election in that location. The printout is signed by the polling officials present in that precinct/location, and then submitted to the county elections office as the official record of how the people in that particular precinct had voted. (Usually each location has only one single optical scanner/reader, and thus produces only one poll tape.)

Bev Harris of, the erstwhile investigator of electronic voting machines, along with people from Florida Fair Elections, showed up at Florida's Volusia County Elections Office on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 16, 2004, and asked to see, under a public records request, each of the poll tapes for the 100+ optical scanners in the precincts in that county. The elections workers - having been notified in advance of her request - handed her a set of printouts, oddly dated November 15 and lacking signatures.

Bev pointed out that the printouts given her were not the original poll tapes and had no signatures, and thus were not what she'd requested. Obligingly, they told her that the originals were held in another location, the Elections Office's Warehouse, and that since it was the end of the day they should meet Bev the following morning to show them to her.

Bev showed up bright and early the morning of Wednesday the 17th - well before the scheduled meeting - and discovered three of the elections officials in the Elections Warehouse standing over a table covered with what looked like poll tapes. When they saw Bev and her friends, Bev told me in a telephone interview less than an hour later, "They immediately shoved us out and slammed the door."

In a way, that was a blessing, because it led to the stinking evidence.

"On the porch was a garbage bag," Bev said, "and so I looked in it and, and lo and behold, there were public record tapes." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:40 PM
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Dr. Condoleezza Rice
Dr. Condoleezza Rice completed a six year tenure as Stanford University 's Provost in 1999, during which she was the institution's chief budget and academic officer. As Provost she was responsible for a $1.5 billion annual budget and the academic program involving 1,400 faculty members and 14,000 students. Among those she served as Provost is Professor Ben Barres. Professor Barres works in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Biology at Stanford. Professor Barres is also a female-to-male gender crosser.

Could it be that Dr. Rice is okay with people of non-traditional sexuality? Here's a quote, with added emphasis, from the 2002 National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance: "As our world prevails through these difficult days, and as we pray for peace for all the children of Abraham, it is important to recall not just the Holocaust's horrors, but also its heroes [...] We draw strength from these names - all familiar to our lips - and we gain inspiration from their stories. Less often, we think of the other heroes, the countless ordinary Jews, Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, gay people, and disabled men and women who defied the machinery of murder with quiet acts of courage and piety. Their names are mostly unknown to all but Him, yet their lives too instruct. "

Condoleezza Rice's personal style was rated highest by gay men (5.3), but gay women were relatively unimpressed (3.5). But whatever queer people think of her, what does she think of queer people? What crosses her mind when her boss talks about an ammendment to the Constitution to issure that the more than 1,000 rights, benefits and responsibilities that are available to married couples remain unavailable to same-sex couples who are denied the right to marry?

Dr. Rice, your boss has already said that since he doesn't read, he relies on you for information about the world. Now is a good time to give him a nudge in the direction of more, not less, civil rights for tax-paying queer citizens of the United States of America.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:27 PM
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"Many were led to believe that with the magic precision of modern weapons, civilian casualties -- 'collateral damage' -- [in Iraq or Afghanistan] would be light or nonexistent. Of course, that is not true. It never has been.

Fallujah corpses:AFP/Patrick Baz

"The appointed prime minister of Iraq just yesterday tried to tell the world that there were no civilian casualties in Fallujah, when our very eyes tell us a different story. Our government tried to tell us that there were 'hardly any' civilian casualties.

"Yet ask yourself this: If the weapons are so accurate, then why were artillery operations ceased when U.S. personnel began operating in most of the city? The reason is simple. Artillery remains what it has been since the days of Napoleon: an 'area weapon.' That means it is used to rain destruction over an entire area, not just a particular house or bunker.

"For example, the Washington Post ran a story about the Marines responsible for operating the unmanned surveillance aircraft. The story described a small duel between the Marines' 155 mm howitzers and a single insurgent mortar tube, with the surveillance guys acting as spotters. It described the 'bracketing rounds,' one 100 yards left of the target, the next a few yards short, then the rounds fired 'for effect.' Of those, most landed right in and around the target, but two or three were off by as much as 100 yards. (Despite all that, they still missed the tube.)

"What, pray tell, was under those rounds that missed? Who knows? But we do know there were as many as 50,000 civilians who were unable to leave the city, and of the thousands of shells that were poured into the city (almost Russian in its scope was the barrage) it stands to reason that more than 'hardly any' innocents' lives were lost, their last hours spent enduring the thunder of exploding shells all around them and only to then have a house come crashing down upon them."

falluja child crushed

by J. Scott Smith in Salon
posted by mr damon at 8:20 PM
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. . . in the early hours of November 14th, 2004. All animals on the third floor of the UI psychology department -- 88 mice and 313 rats -- were removed, examined and treated by a sympathetic veterinarian, and placed in loving homes.

Additionally, two animal labs and three vivisector's offices were entered and all contents relating to animal research were destroyed. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:42 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:31 PM
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Online book by Jon Lebkowsky, Howard Rheingold, Clay Shirky, Adam Greenfield, Joi Ito, Jim Moore, and others.

"Extreme democracy" is a political philosophy of the information era that puts people in charge of the entire political process. It suggests a deliberative process that places total confidence in the people, opening the policy-making process to many centers of power through deeply networked coalitions that can be organized around local, national and international issues. The choice of the word "extreme" reflects the lessons of the extreme programming movement in technology that has allowed small teams to make rapid progress on complex projects through concentrated projects that yield results far greater than previous labor-intensive programming practices. Extreme democracy emphasizes the importance of tools designed to break down barriers to collaboration and access to power, acknowledging that political realities can be altered by building on rapidly advancing generations of technology and that human organizations are transformed by new political expectations and practices made possible by technology.

Extreme democracy is not direct democracy, which assumes all people must be involved in every decision in order for the process to be just and democratic. Direct democracy is inefficient, regardless of the tools available to voters, because it creates as many, if not more, opportunities for obstruction of social decisions as a representative democracy. Rather, we assume that every debate one feels is important will be open to participation; that governance is not the realm of specialists and that activism is a critical popular element in making a just society.

Extreme democracy can exist alongside and through co-evolution with the representative systems in place today; it changes the nature of representation, as the introduction of sophisticated networked applications have reinvented the corporate decision-making process. Rather than debate how involved a citizen should be or fret over the lack of involvement among citizens of advanced democracies, the extreme democracy model focuses on the act of participation and assumes that anyone in a democracy is free to act politically. If individuals are constrained from action, they are not free, not citizens but subjects.

The basic unit of organization in an extreme democracy is the activist, a citizen engaged with an issue of concern about which they are willing to invest their time and effort to evolve relevant policy, whether at the local, state, national or international level. They engage their fellow citizens seeking support rather than demanding it at the point of a gun. Small groups of activists have changed the world repeatedly and at every stage in history. Martin Luther was an ecclesiastical political activist and Martin Luther King was a civil rights activist. Gandhi was a political activist, just like Benjamin Franklin and Nelson Mandela, though Franklin finally advocated a violent break with England and Mandela laid his guns down before he successfully ousted the apartheid government of South Africa.
posted by Klintron at 9:22 AM
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William Blaze:

What's at work here is not as much a function of urbanism, but of a related but not attached concept of cultural flow. What ideas flow through a space? What sort of diversity is there? Does the world end on the horizon line outside of which are barbarians or does its spread out in a gorgeous meshwork? These are not thoughts bounded by geographies, rather they ideas that are attracted unevenly to geographies. Oceans, massive rivers like the Mississippi and populated national borders generate a natural flow of people that pushes the population towards diversity. But the same forces generate reactions and contractions, people who hide from or hate that cultural diversity.


Now its essential to point out that I am NOT crafting an argument that maps the left to those open to cultural flow and the right to those outside or against it. Political leaders and funders on either side are almost by definition fully emerged in the flow of the world, tapped deep into the charges of capital, politics and resources. There are plenty of "conservatives" sitting deeply entrenched in the flows of culture. And plenty of "liberals" isolated from these flows (see again the Appalachias and Southwest). Rather what has happened over the past 30 years or so is that the right has realized that its far easier to construct new realities in the areas of low cultural flow. And all the meanwhile the left has forgotten these areas even exist.
posted by Klintron at 9:11 AM
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A research team at UC Berkeley will report that irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election.

(via buzzflash)

Update: The study can be found in its entirety here.
posted by Bill at 9:06 AM
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Condoleezza Rice, Tutor, Mentor, Wif- Secretary.
posted by Michael Miller at 8:55 AM
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Daniel Ellsberg's Crusade Against The Abuse
Of Presidential Power, From Nixon To Bush

Greg King: Columnist Anthony Lewis for the NYT fears that the Bush administration is catapulting our nation into a series of "endless wars," which Lewis contends "is already having profound consequences for th American constituional system."

Daniel Ellsberg: I think the Bush administration does have in mind a series of wars. I don't think the president and his advisors want to be at war so much as they want the fruits of war, which currently include control of oil in the Middle East. There's more than one reason for any war, but to deny that oil is a major factor, as the pundits do, is totally unrealistic.

I think the neocons, like Security Advisor Richard Perle, John Bolton in the State Department, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Vice President Cheney himself [I woke from a dream this morning in which Cheney resigned -Ed.], have their eyes on the oil fields of southern Iran and eastern Saudi Arabia next. They've indicated that they'd like to have US troops permanently occupying both of those countries, with Syria as a bridge between them.

US control of Middle Eastern oil does not serve the interests of the people of the United States, except those who want to be rulers of the world. And the neocons' goal is to run the world. They don't think in multilateral terms. They think in terms of a single, unchallenged superpower, an enlarged version of the British Empire, which at one time controlled a third of the world's people. The Bush administration has in mind two-thirds or more.

If you really want to run the world, having your hand on the tap in the Middle East -- and thus controlling other countries' oil supplies -- is even more important than having access to it for domestic use. It's a base of power and source of great profit for a limited number of huge corporations...

King: The majority of dissenters called for the US to allow the weapons inspectors (in Iraq) to finish their job, and to get the UN on board for any military action. Were you in this camp?

Ellsberg: I personally went beyond that. I said we should not have attacked even if Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was trying to get nuclear weapons. Certainly we should not have attacked without UN authorization, but there should not have been UN authorization. The risks of war in Iraq were far too great, and the danger that Saddam posed was virtually negligible. Attacking Iraq only increased the likelihood of terrorism, as we saw in Spain. It helped al-Qaeda, and our country and other will pay the price for that...

The case for preventive war is never strong, war being war. The uncertainties and human costs make a very, very heavy argument against it. With a preventive war, you're not facing a situation in which war is imminent. You're putting an end to peace. Under those circumstances, it's very hard to make the case that there's no better alternative to war...

King: Do you think Bush can be defeated this year?

Ellsberg: I think there's a good chance Kerry will win a popular vote, the way things are going [This interview was done in the summer -Ed.]. But I don't think Bush and the rest intend to allow themselves to be voted out of office. That means two things. It means voting fraud, and it means another terrorist attack, whether Osama bin Laden is behind it or not. It could well be a Bush terrorist attack, because it would help him get elected...

We have to be aware that any terrorist act on US soil will almost certainly be intended to keep us in Iraq. And there's a strong potential that the Bush administration will bring about such an attack, because it would serve them so well. That is where al-Qaeda's and the Bush administration's interests converge. All Bush has to do is get out of the way, which may be what happened on 9/11...

King: You have been addressing these issues for a long time. Are you at all disillusioned now? Can you be optimistic?

Ellsberg: Our efforts can be and have been effective in postponing catastrophe, but you can look only so far ahead. I know people who do not think we have a chance. Their position is a respectable one, but nothing is that certain. I'm an optimist in the sense that I think we do have a chance.

The Sun, Oct 04
posted by mr damon at 7:40 AM
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Keeping tabs
In the on-going contest to decide whether members of the Democratic Party are as stupid as the members of the Nazi Republican Party, a Gallup Poll taken yesterday showed a virtual tie . . .

Actually, the poll queried Democrats on their preferences for the '08 presidential nomination . . . and Hillary Clinton is the odds-on favorite. I'm NEVER speechless, but I'm, uh, well, speechless.

Oh, yeah, and can anyone tell me why Democratic Senators Clinton, Biden, and Leahy did not vote on the bill to raise the national debt ceiling yesterday? We expected Zell Miller's "yea", but even Lieberman voted "nay". Hmmmm,
maybe Clinton's strategy for a presidential bid is the same as Kerry's: do nothing.

The Progressive Blog Alliance Forum
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Be at peace
posted by total at 5:57 AM
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Wednesday, November 17, 2004. *
Satanic Ritual Abuse
Between the Christian panic over Dungeons and Dragons and the Christian panic over the Internet came the Christian panic of "satanic ritual abuse." It was a stupid fad in which the fearmongers talked a bunch of insulting nonsense that made them feel important; they had uncovered a secret underground of evil baby killers and mind controllers. It's a lark.

Except there are still some people in prison over these inherently impossible charges. It's true that some got out - why, Paul Ingram only lost around a decade of his life to these fruitcakes and their fairy tales. The West Memphis Three are still in prison, eleven years after not committing any crime (but they did listen to the wrong kind of music, after all). Bernie Baran is serving three life sentences for doing nothing at all (but he's a fag so who cares anyway). It was just a fad for the Christians. Something to sell a few self-help books to parents with, to help refine their alienation from their own children. Too bad others had to pay for their fun. And what fun they had!

Religion is a public mental health crisis and it's time we started treating it as such.
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:38 PM
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The Friday before the election, Oct. 29, a report by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore was published in The Lancet, the respected British medical journal, describing their estimate of "excess deaths" that had occurred in Iraq since the American invasion and occupation. Using epidemiological survey methods, the researchers had calculated 100,000 civilian deaths attributable to the war. This devastating report was criticized, dismissed out of hand and relegated to the back pages of the few media outlets that covered it.

The Baltimore City Paper examines how the media (mis)handled the story and concludes "Few reporters, apparently, understood what the study actually said" and goes on to interview the researchers at length, explain the study and answer the dismissive criticisms.
posted by RHerman at 5:06 PM
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"Matt LaBranche got the tattoos at a seedy place down the street from the Army hospital here where he was a patient in the psychiatric ward.

"The pain of the needle felt good to the 40-year-old former Army sergeant, whose memories of his nine months as a machine-gunner in Iraq had left him, he said, 'feeling dead inside.' LaBranche's back is now covered in images, the largest the dark outline of a sword. Drawn from his neck to the small of his back, it is emblazoned with the words LaBranche says encapsulate the war's effect on him: 'I've come to bring you hell.'

"In soldiers like LaBranche -- their bodies whole but their psyches deeply wounded -- a crisis is unfolding, mental health experts say. One out of six soldiers returning from Iraq is suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress -- and as more come home, that number is widely expected to grow.

"Whether people like Matt LaBranche seek and receive treatment will determine how deep an effect the stress of the war in Iraq ultimately has on U.S. society.

"Before the war, LaBranche was living in Saco, Maine, with his wife and children and had no history of mental illness. He deployed to Iraq with a National Guard transportation company based in Bangor. He came home a different person.

"Just three days after he was discharged from Walter Reed, he was arrested for threatening his former wife. When he goes to court Dec. 9, he could be looking at jail time.

"He lies on a couch at his brother's house most days now, struggling with the image of the Iraqi woman who died in his arms after he shot her, and the children he says caught some of his bullets. His speech is pocked with obscenities.

"On a recent outing with friends, he became so enraged when he saw a Muslim family that he had to take medication to calm down. [Fear is the root of anger -Ed.] He is seeing a therapist, but only once every two weeks.

"'I'm taking enough drugs to sedate an elephant, and I still wake up dreaming about it,' LaBranche said. 'I wish I had just freaking died over there.'

"When it began to become clear that what the Pentagon initially believed would be a rapid, clear-cut war had transmuted into a drawn-out counterinsurgency, the Army began pushing to reach and treat distressed soldiers sooner.

"The number of mental health professionals deployed near frontline positions in Iraq has been increased. Suicide prevention programs are given to soldiers in the field. According to the Pentagon, 31 U.S. troops have killed themselves in Iraq.

"At more than 200 storefront clinics known as Vet Centers -- created in 1979 to reach out to Vietnam veterans -- the VA has increased the number of group therapy sessions and staff. Three months ago, the VA hired 50 Iraq war veterans to help serve as advocates at the clinics.

"Officials acknowledge that is only a start. The Government Accountability Office found in a study released in September that the VA lacked the information it needed to determine whether it could meet an increased demand for services.

"'Predicting which veterans will seek VA care and at which facilities is inherently uncertain,' the report concluded, 'particularly given that the symptoms of PTSD may not appear for years.'

"The Army and the VA are also trying to catalog and research the mental health effects of this war better than they have in the past. In addition to the Walter Reed study, several more are tracking soldiers from before their deployment to Iraq through their combat experiences and into the future.

"If Iraq veterans can be helped sooner, they may fare better than those who fought in Vietnam, mental health experts say. And they note that the nation, although divided on the Iraq war, is more united in caring for the needs of returning soldiers than it was in the Vietnam era...

"We're gearing ourselves up now and preparing ourselves to meet whatever the need is, but clearly this is something that could not be planned for," said Dr. Alfonso Batres, a psychologist who heads the VA's national office of readjustment counseling services.

"Last year, 1,100 troops who had fought in Iraq or Afghanistan came to VA clinics seeking help for symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress; this year, the number grew tenfold. In all, 23% of Iraq veterans treated at VA facilities have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"'And this is first-year data,' Batres said. 'Our experience is that over time that will increase.'"

via Magpie
posted by mr damon at 1:37 PM
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Human extinction within 100 years warns scientist


A top New Zealand researcher is using a prestigious award ceremony in Christchurch to warn that humans face extinction by the end of the century.

Professor Peter Barrett will be presented with the Marsden Medal tonight for his 40-year contribution to Antarctic research, latterly focusing on climate change.

The director of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre expects to use his acceptance speech to warn climate change was a major threat to the planet.

"After 40 years, I'm part of a huge community of scientists who have become alarmed with our discovery, that we know from our knowledge of the ancient past, that if we continue our present growth path, we are facing extinction," Barrett said. "Not in millions of years, or even millennia, but by the end of this century." . . .

[Read it]

The Progressive Blog Alliance Forum
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Be at peace

posted by total at 1:21 PM
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Interesting thought from Douglas Rushkoff:

As for Christian fundamentalism, well, I don't think an apocalypse scenario is the purest or even most obvious reading of the Bible. Rather than shunning the study of myth in our public schools, perhaps it would be the left's best choice to embrace it. I've always found that actually reading the Bible helps dispell most of my fears about what I've been told it says. If children were to study the holy scriptures of the West and of other cultures, they might just be able to take a more enlightened approach towards them.
posted by Klintron at 10:19 AM
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... because sometimes the American Samizdat has good news, too.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:04 AM
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In 1993, Republicans initiated ethics rules for themselves in the House of Representatives. They claimed that politicians needed to hold themselves to high standards than the Democrats did, and they were going to show the rest of us how it is done. And if in so doing they ended four decades of Democratic rule of the House, so be it. The Republicans made a big deal of the ethical lapses of Democrats at the time.

But in this topsy-turvy, flippy-floppy post 9/11 world, things need to change with the times. What's good for the goose is no longer good for the gander. The Republicans are now initiating changes to their own ethical rules for themselves because those rules threaten to oust Majority Leader Tom DeLay should he be charged by a Texas grand jury that has already indicted three of his political associates.

The Republican Party: the party that wants MOR(e of) AL(l your) VALUE(able)S.
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:45 AM
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004. *
posted by ben at 12:28 PM
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Progressives: look to the rockies?
I'd like to commend everyone for their diligent work blogging the voter fraud issue. Sooooo much information here to process. Very frusterating to see all this material shut-out by the mainstream media, who are taking the wingnuts at their word.

Me, I'm still stuck on the problem of bridging the gap between... well, people who voted for Bush and everyone else. "Honorary harbinger" R.U. Sirius says:

Just as believing the Bushies did 9/11 means you don’t have to contemplate what to do – or even what to think – about Al Qaeda as a presumably independent force; believing that the Bushies stole the election means you don’t have to think about what to do – or what to think – about the American people re-electing Bush.

Even if Diebold stole 10% of the popular vote, that's still 41% of America voting for Bush.

Kos has a post about Montana's "miracle", with a reference to a similar Democratic governor victory in Wyoming in 2002:

We won the Wyoming governorship on such "environmental" issues (coal bed methane interests versus ranchers) as well.

Sirota is right -- most of these persuadable voters in the west would hang themselves rather than be labeled "environmentalists" -- a large failing in the part of the environmental movement's ability to properly frame itself. But hunters, fishermen, ranchers and other such outdoorsmen in the west and across the country are natural allies of the environmental movement.

(He also linked to this article about the "blue-ing" of Colorado a while back).

I think this relates to Jason Louv's "We Are the Moral Majority" meme. I don't think we, and I mean all progressives - not just those of us aligned with the Democratic party - need to change our approach, but not change our goals. The Democratic Party might be taking a big step to the right (if the choice of Harry Reid as senate minority leader is any indication, they definently are), but that's no reason for the rest of us to give up.

When it really comes down to it, a candidate's job is not so much to change the public's mind about the issues. It's to assure them that they will make the right decision about the issues. It's our job, as citizens and activists, to change people's minds about the issues. To spread love and enlightenment. And treating conservatives and people from Red States or rural areas like dumb hicks isn't going to help.

Here's a letter on Andrew Sullivan's site:

It's never easy to be a liberal in Alabama. The Democratic Party here is in tatters, and it's certainly a tough adjustment from my previous life in San Francisco. And yet, the most difficult thing for me is having to listen to the endless procession of whiney, pouting urban liberals, who have filled the Internet this week with this idea that the South is filled with nothing but hillbilly, cousin-loving yahoos.
I can tell you one reason John Kerry lost the South. He and the Democrats have written it off the past two presidential elections. Al Gore would be President today if he had won his own damn state, and he could have done that if he had spent a bit more time talking to his constituents than sipping cappuccino with yet another group of Wisconsin voters.
Yes, Bush would have won Alabama no matter what the Kerry/Edwards camp did this year. But the Democrats entire national campaign in Alabama consisted of one four-hour trip from Edwards. He literally got stepped off a plane, had a quick dinner, grabbed $500,000 in checks and hit the road. Screw the Alabama Democratic Party and anyone else in the state.
Why would anyone in Alabama give a damn about the Democratic Party? Despite the fact that Kerry won 11 counties statewide, and despite the fact that the current Republican governor is a prime target to be beaten in 2006, Democrats just walked away from the state.
It took the conservatives 20 years to build a strong national base, and they did it one precinct at a time. From what I've seen this week, we liberals don’t have the stomach for it. When we hit a tough patch, we whine and walk away from the battle. I'm just disgusted by my fellow liberals.

Also via Sullivan, this Dan Savage quote basically sums up what's wrong with the attitude of most "progressives":

Certain distressed liberals and progressives are talking about fleeing to Canada or, better yet, seceding from the Union. We can't literally secede and, let's admit it, we don't really want to live in Canada. It's too cold up there and in our heart-of-hearts, we hate hockey. We can secede emotionally, however, by turning our backs on the heartland. We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values. The Republicans have the federal government--for now. But we've got Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City (Bloomberg is a Republican in name only), and every college town in the country. We're everywhere any sane person wants to be. Let them have the shitholes, the Oklahomas, Wyomings, and Alabamas. We'll take Manhattan.

I'm from, and live in, rural Wyoming. We're not stupid out here. Thirty two percent of us voted for Kerry. Another one percent voted for Nader. And the people who voted for Bush weren't dumb. But unless progressives start reaching out to them and speaking their language, they're gonna keep voting Republican. They don't want some big city guy who's never been to our state making decisions that effect them. They want someone that will take the effort to address their concerns. We can do that, but the big city snobbery's got to go. Looking down on people for being Christian has got to go. We're right, and we know it. We may well have won the election, too. But we can't do anything about it until people start agreeing with us.
posted by Klintron at 11:23 AM
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Dahr Jamail reports that “a high-ranking official with the Red Cross in Baghdad” estimates that “‘at least 800 civilians’ have been killed in Fallujah so far” and more than “50,000 residents remain trapped within the city.”
posted by Bill at 7:13 AM
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I've been trying to put my finger on this topic for a while... interesting post on Stealth Conservatism on The Washington Monthly.

In my post this morning about liberal goals, I mentioned that one of the problems facing Democrats is that "Republicans are mostly nibbling around the edges, not taking a chainsaw to liberal programs." And why is this a problem? Because it's hard to mobilize widespread opposition to conservative policies when they're put into place a little bit at a time. It's the old boiling frog problem.

Also check out the Elevator Talk post... along similiar lines.
posted by ben at 6:23 AM
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Monday, November 15, 2004. *
Here's an idea: go into a Mosque wearing your dirtiest boots. Take a nap on their prayer rugs. Have some guns with you. Shoot a couple people. Shoot one of them, a wounded man, right in the head on camera for an international news agency. That's a GREAT way to make sure the Islamic world feels respected by US troops in Iraq.

Islam is worthy of contempt, as are all religions. But the way to bring about the (desirable) end of Islam is through reason (seasoned with a little mockery) and encouragement of internal secularization. Defiling a mosque is exactly, exactly, exactly the right thing to do to make sure that we have several hundred years more 'holy' war.
posted by Trevor Blake at 6:06 PM
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159 people complained to the FCC that the already-cancelled television show Married By America suggested (now showed - suggested) that people might have sex, some day, off camera. The FCC spanked a USD $1.2 million fine on Fox as a result.

Except it wasn't 159 people. It was 90 complaints. And 88 of those complaints were identical. So in the end, three people who couldn't stand the idea of someone, somewhere, possibly, without their knowing, having sex - these three people cost Fox $1.2 million.

All kinds of wrong here. It's shameful that some people are so concerned that others might have sex (and this was straight sex between married people, at that!). It's shameful that Fox caved. It's shameful that my tax dollars support an FCC that would do something like that. On the other hand, makes you wonder what more people (say, four or five) could do if they set their minds to it.
posted by Trevor Blake at 6:00 PM
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(I repeat: Mainstream media is failing while bloggers do the diligent work of democracy)

Sorry for the numbers. This is a long and comprehensive report, so please stay with me -- it offers what I believe to be a strong case that election tampering took place, and I want to carefully establish the facts. I think it may be the first deep examination inside the numbers of a given state -- not just speculation -- but real data collection and questionable results put to the test.

[read bombshell report by ignatzmouse]
posted by Bruce at 1:15 PM
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arundhati roy:public power in the age of empire

"In her major address to the 99th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association on August 16, 2004, writer Arundhati Roy brilliantly examines the limits to democracy in the world today. Bringing the same care to her prose that she brought to her Booker Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things, Roy discusses the need for social movements to contest the occupation of Iraq, the reduction of democracy, and elections with no meaningful alternatives allowed. She explores the dangers of the 'NGO-ization of resistance,' shows how governments that block nonviolent dissent in fact encourage terrorism, and examines the role of the corporate media in marginalizing oppositional voices."

via Magpie

I'm certain that it's not the same person, but something about the nose of the soldier above reminded me of the Army officer who stood ahead of me in line at the Doha airport last week. He appeared to be in his early 40s; a low and tight, salty grey haircut, seemingly fit and muscular, a "gathered" demeanor (he had all of his documents tucked inside of a dark purple folder, which just about proved he was an officer).

At his feet lay his bulletproof vest and helmet, the latter having a slight tatter to its edge. His tan boots were fairly worn. As I looked over these items, he turned to his right and our eyes briefly met. He tilted his head in quick acknowledgement; I gave a slight smile. And I wondered, without disdain or judgment, what on Earth that man had seen and experienced while he served (if he served) in Iraq.
posted by mr damon at 9:33 AM
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Bob Jones III
The results gathered by voting machines in Indiana are known to be flawed. The results gathered by voting machines in North Carolina are known to be flawed. But maybe flawed isn't the right word: maybe blessed is the right word. Because maybe it was God Himself who diddled with those voting machines, in order to defeat Satan and put George W. Bush in the White House. After all, as Bob Jones III (president of Bob Jones University) said: 'You [Bush] have been given a mandate... Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ.' Why would God want Bush in the White House? So Bush can 'appoint many conservative judges' who will support legislation 'defined by biblical norm.'

Bob Jones University is very progressive. They began to allow African American students to attend as early as the 1970s, and in 2000, they dropped their ban on 'inter-racial' dating. They felt so strongly about following their 'biblical norm' of discrimination that they gave up their tax exempt status for it in 1983 - wow! They do keep tax exempt status for a gallery, and to keep that tax exempt status they allow gay and lesbian alumni to visit the gallery. Otherwise, gays and lesbian alumni are banned from campus under threat of being arrested. Bob Jones also keeps on the cutting edge of science, 21st Century style, by teaching creationism.

I'd say anybody that wants to get in good with God better fall in line with Bob Jones III. So what in the world are Colin Powell and John McLaughlin doing by resigning? Are the forces of darkness so strong that they are cracking the Republican Party in two?

Or has the light of reason shone so brightly on these and others in the Republican Party that they can no longer hide from themselves: they are admitting that the USA has become a theocratic tyrany and must not continue to walk the path it has started upon?
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:01 AM
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