American Samizdat

Sunday, May 31, 2009. *

ITEM: And yeah, this is why Richard Dawkins is a mean ol atheist. Religion simply isn't harmless. From Pharyngula:

These are the people who fuel the kind of self-righteous ignorance that encourages people to picket reproductive health clinics, treat ob-gyns as public criminals, and incite murder. The heroes are the doctors who sacrifice so much — privacy, security, and in this case, their life — to provide essential services to women, the women in whom Reaganites find so little value, unless they are pregnant. One of the tragedies of this recent killing and the conservative tradition is that it will be increasingly difficult to find heroes brave enough to step into this role…exactly as these narrow-minded, puritanical enemies of human liberty want.

He (Dawkins) is probably not thrilled about Saudi funded fundie schools, either. Related: Also from Pharyngula, something positive you can do.

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 10:20 PM
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Well I, for one, miss the Craigslist erotic services classifieds. And if I had the money to buy sex from Jennifer I probably would. But I'm sure I wouldn't because its against the law or something.

Jennifer - w4m - 24 (pittsburgh)

Related: Craigslist smells a rat. Jennifer's ad is still up but the erotic section I found that ad in is gone. Meanwhile, my free weekly is full of bad people offering what I'm sure are sexual services. More related: Look if Doc wants more cheesecake around here then I'm on board...

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 10:06 PM
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Saturday, May 30, 2009. *



Mention the Federal Reserve (FED) and most people, including Americans, will think that you are talking about the financial arm of the US government.

They'd be very wrong though.

The 'truth', if such a concept is still alive in the era in which we live, is altogether different and, perhaps, somewhat more disconcerting.

Read more to find out how the Federal Reserve was created and how it may have cost a great President his life...
posted by Padawan at 3:53 PM
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Friday, May 29, 2009. *


Steve
http://blueplane.textdrive.com/rileydog.html
posted by riley dog at 9:17 AM
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Thursday, May 28, 2009. *
Controversial Memorial Day toon by Mr. Fish. But probably not around here. You probably won't be shocked by this toon, either. Or that one.

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:49 PM
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009. *
There have been a number of progressive ads out there that I kinda like. Here's the short version of the Obama presidency so far. He tends toward evil but he's not a completely relentless flood of darkness and blight. Or: a center right person is better than the republican right center out and out fascism persons that we had to choose from. There are some bright spots in his policies. He's personally put several hundred dollars into my pocket as an unemployed person. So its hard to get my hatred up for him.

For me and in the long term there are three issues that he has to deliver on: health care, EFCA and carbon caps. If he delivers on health care, or manages to put 60 million Americans onto the path of health coverage, then I think he wins reelection quite easily. I say that because I would be one of those 60 million people who would receive health care. I'm making an assumption here that the public option will pass with teeth. If not, and I have to depend on my friendly neighborhood health care insurer then nothing really changes. If he doesn't deliver on health care, then I agree with Howard Dean that Obama won't be reelected and that Dems will start losing ground starting in the 2010 midterms. He can strike out on EFCA and carbon caps, but not healthcare. I really think he needs all three to secure the dem base.

There have been some great ads running on the Youtubes concerning the public option for healthcare. First up is Howard Dean:



You might have also seen those awful insurance industry ads featuring insurance lobby hack Rick Scott (Did you know that Canadians really really hate their health care system? Yeah neither did I. Check out this response from The Real News.). I won't show those here. But here's a great counter ad:



I also think that labor's EFCA ads are stunning. They really hit home.

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:39 PM
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Monday, May 25, 2009. *
All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. ~ Ellen Glasgow
I really couldn't help but chuckle, listening to Weekend Edition, when Daniel Schorr declared that Obama had "disappointed progressives". He cited the president's re-deal of military tribunals. Heh. If that's the only thing that's upsetting the proggies, they're still under the sedative-hypnotic spell of Oxybama, a drug that wipes memory, causes hallucinations, and distorts reality into some twisted remake of The Wizard of Oz. Sigh and sigh again . . .

[more at P!...]
posted by Unknown at 9:10 AM
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009. *

Feminisnt > A Meddlesome Hussy Takes On the Enemies of Sexual Sanity

Welcome to my rantblog! I'm a pornographer, sex worker, atheist, and former “sex-positive feminist” who grew tired of trying to shoehorn my life into a feminist analysis. I have liberated myself from women's liberation, and it feels glorious. I'm now sharing my observations as a politically-minded smut peddler, ethical slut, and staunch skeptic. I despise people who project their insecurities onto others, or force sex workers into only two roles: helpless victims and evil patriarchy-colluders. I love spicy food, vegan lip balm, and the word "pollywog". [more]

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posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:08 PM
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It is for each of us to choose who we follow and what we believe at this point. If you see a bunch of drunks playing with fireworks, you have to decide if you’ve had enough beers to want to join them or whether there might not be some other way to occupy your time. ~ Les Visible, Smoking Mirrors
Those who ponder the concept of a "new world order" speak of it as a looming future event, as if the evil plotters will convene in a gloomy, cathedral-like room of an ancient castle, throw the Frankenstein switch, and awaken the gruesome monster to eat all except the drooling new Master.

The reality, of course, is that such an event will not take place. The reality is also that every day events, conversations, and actions take place that move us toward clashing centralizations and chaos, freedoms and incarcerations, progress and retrenchment, poverties and riches. The matrices and paradigms shift and melt and mingle and drift, each instance noted (or not) by the MSM and viral hysteria on Twitter and at PrisonPlanet.

Sadly, we shake our heads as we watch Alex Jones shrieking through his bull-horn at a fancy hotel, his entourage of thirty or so souls surveilled openly by twice that number of blue-jeaned security thugs. We gotcha, he wails. We will win! Heh. We've got 'em, all right - right where they want us . . .

[more at P! ...]
posted by Unknown at 11:50 AM
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Saturday, May 16, 2009. *
This weekend, in an out of the way luxury hotel in Greece, some of the richest and most powerful people in the Western world are convening to decide the fate of that world. Among others, the US Secretary of the Treasury is in attendance, with one other so-far-unknown representative from our country, to receive instructions from these gods of empire and finance. On the outside, Alex Jones and some hangers-on are shouting righteous epithets through bull-horns from across the street. Alex is perspicacious, as always, but these folks are probably just mildly amused. "Sticks and stones", they think. It's going to be a nasty summer, global warming, global cooling, come what may.

Memorial Day is just around the corner. In the States we can use it to remember the death of the American Dream. By Labor Day, drained and exhausted from the summer, we'll know how bad our asses are on fire. Remember, it's not the heat; it's the stupidity . . .

[more at P! ...]
posted by Unknown at 5:19 PM
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CIA / Pelosi Song Parody
I took a brief break from political limericks, just long enough to write a new song parody about the Pelosi / CIA brouhaha: The “We Did Nothing Wrong, & Nancy Should Have Stopped Us” Song.
posted by Mad Kane at 9:25 AM
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Thursday, May 14, 2009. *
Quotable: George Carlin
“. . . this experiment, this magnificent experiment in democracy is just being shredded to pieces by these right-wing Christians, the Ashcroft branch of Republicanism. (They're) just shredding the rest of the Bill of Rights which hadn't been shredded already.”

-- George Carlin, interview in Idaho Statesman, Jan. 24, 2004

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posted by Don Durito at 10:42 AM
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009. *
How are we doing?
If the latest OECD report is any indicator, not so well. As Bernard Chazelle notes:

Here are the US rankings out of the 30 OECD countries (1 is best; 30 is worst -- worst as in Somalia-like). The names of the countries even more Somalian than the US appear in parens.

Infant Deaths: 28 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey).

Life Expectancy: 24 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Czech & Slovak Republics).

Health Expenditures: 1 out of 30.

Poverty Rates: 28 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey).

Child Poverty: 27 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Poland).

Income Inequality: 27 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Portugal).

Obesity: 30 out of 30.

Incarceration: 30 out of 30.

Work Hours (ranked in ascending order): 30 out of 30.

Height (women): 25 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Korea, Portugal, Japan).

Height (men): 24 out of 30 (Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Korea, Japan).


OECD countries: Turkey, Mexico, Poland, USA, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Greece, Luxemburg, Australia, Netherlands, Slovakia, Korea, Czech Republic, UK, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Iceland, France, Austria, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark.

Of course, as Bernard mentions, those darned French folks sleep more, are taller (this will come to haunt us before too long in Olympic basketball competitions), work fewer hours, and are still skinnier on average than US residents. It couldn't possibly have anything to do the combination of high stress, those overly long work hours, and poor diet endemic to the US.

Seriously, note the disconnect between health expenditures (where we really are #1) and measures of quality of life such as infant mortality rate, life expectancy. Get the feeling that our "privatize or perish" approach to practically all social concerns should be renamed "privatize and perish"?

Thank goodness we don't live in a third-world plutocracy. Oh wait - never mind...

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posted by Don Durito at 12:48 AM
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Monday, May 11, 2009. *
Quotable
"If you should see a man walking down a crowded street talking aloud to himself, don't run in the opposite direction, but run towards him, because he's a poet. You have nothing to fear from the poet - but the truth."

---Ted Joans from the poem "Jazz Is My Religion"

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posted by Don Durito at 1:35 AM
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Saturday, May 09, 2009. *
The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself. ~ Saul Alinsky

In 1956, I was nine years old when the screen adaptation of Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was released. These notes from Wikipedia ...
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, by Sloan Wilson, is a novel about the American search for purpose in world dominated by business. Tom and Betsy Rath share a struggle to find contentment in their hectic and material culture while several other characters fight essentially the same battle, but struggle in it for different reasons. In the end, it is a story of taking responsibility for one's own life ...

[more at P!]
posted by Unknown at 8:23 AM
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Wednesday, May 06, 2009. *
A torture memo that slipped through the cracks
This apparently is an oldie but a goody that was recently rediscovered: an emailed memo that directly implicates Bush II in authorizing various torture techniques including stress positions and sleep deprivation:
Jason Leopold had an amazing find when perusing old released FBI documents the ACLU posted has posted on their site. There are about 100,000 such memos at the site, and who knows how much else is buried in that cache? The memo he reports on was first posted by the ACLU in December 2004, but the information in it lay buried until just this week.
Senior FBI agents stationed in Iraq in 2004 claimed in an e-mail that President George W. Bush signed an executive order approving the use of military dogs, sleep deprivation and other harsh tactics to intimidate Iraqi detainees.

The FBI e-mail -- dated May 22, 2004 -- followed disclosures about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and sought guidance on whether FBI agents in Iraq were obligated to report the U.S. military’s harsh interrogation of inmates when that treatment violated FBI standards but fit within the guidelines of a presidential executive order.

According to the e-mail, Bush’s executive order authorized interrogators to use military dogs, “stress positions,” sleep “management,” loud music and “sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.” to extract information from detainees in Iraq, which was considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Bush has never before been directly linked to authorizing specific interrogation techniques at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. Bush has admitted, however, that he personally signed off on the waterboarding of three "high-value" prisoners.
Leopold notes that previously the Bush White House (in the person of Alberto Gonzales) stated in 2004, "The president has not directed the use of specific interrogation techniques." But the Senate Armed Services report on Department of Defense treatment of prisoners did note that at the very least it was President Bush himself whose February 7, 2002 Executive Memorandum denying al-Qaeda and the Taliban Geneva protections, “opened the door” to torture and abuse of prisoners.
Like psychologist Jeffrey Kaye (the blogger who runs Invictus), I'll accept that maybe the journalist Leopold cannot call Bush II regime's operatives liars, but those of us not bound by such limits can call 'em like we see 'em. Obama's "let's all forgive and forget, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya" schtick is not going to cut it. Nor is simply limiting investigations and prosecutions to a handful of low-level military personnel acceptable. It is, to say the very least, highly offensive to those who have been victimized. Refusal by Obama to hold those at the highest levels of the US government responsible either betrays a profound degree of naivete or betrays a desire to have available those very same tools of torture for his own sordid reasons. It appears probable that the US will have to learn the hard way what other great (as well as lesser) powers that have engaged human rights abuses and war crimes have learned: those that fail to investigate and where need be prosecute those responsible for said abuses and war crimes on their own terms will eventually have to deal with outsiders imposing the same investigations and prosecutions on far different terms.

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posted by Don Durito at 11:03 PM
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Well hey I'll stick around for awhile. My only beefs with Uncle Scam and Django were that they would occasionally say silly things like, for example, that there was no difference between Obama and McCain, with a side order of loopy Palin. I really do think you have to vote tactically sometimes.

Two, I think you have to offer more than just criticism. Yes, it might be true that the Earth is hurtling into the Sun but saying "Obama sux and we're still hurtling toward the sun" isn't very helpful. And, quite frankly, Uncle Scam, I could see where that would get boring if that's all you wrote. You have to offer some solutions. Its clear that Obama has to be lobbied. The good news: he can be lobbied. We've won some early battles. Lost some too, but at least we have a shot occasionally. So, for my part, whenever I write about anything politically, I will always try to point you to something that you can actually do. Just like if the Earth was heading toward the sun and we had a year or two I might recommend that you build this, and then put it on top of that. Not just "Obama sux and it sure is getting hot around here..." and "oh, isn't it funny har har...."

Three, I really think if we want the site to evolve we have to adopt the Daily Kos model. That would mean leaving the blogger model for the scoop model. It isn't easy to do that. In fact, it looks like learning scoop would be hard. I was waiting for some kind of easier blogger/scoop app that would come along but so far nuthin'....

So, hey, I'll try to keep contributing something useful here...

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 12:21 PM
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Isn't reading the first step to giving a shit about the world? Viva reading!

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posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:49 AM
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Thanks to Uncle $cam
Since I didn't comment in Uncle $cam's goodbye note, I just wanted to dedicate a whole post in honor of all his prolific, passionate and always thought-provoking work. I'm sure it will also be popular in the archives for years to come.

Thanks, Uncle!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:43 AM
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Monday, May 04, 2009. *

"When your vagina smells like garlic and your garlic smells like vagina, it's ready." - Isa Chandra

I love Isa Chandra. Fuck Anthony Bourdain.

(Also, Dr. Menlo now tweets.)

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posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:25 PM
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Saturday, May 02, 2009. *
Dear Readers
I apologize for my absence of late. If you knew the reasons why I was preoccupied, you would forgive me . . . but these are things I wouldn't want to burden you with. Obviously there is a big hole here without the great Uncle $cam. My question to you is: what direction would you like to see American Samizdat go in? Any and all input would be appreciated. This site will not die. It will go on . . . I and Philip Shropshire at least will put new energy into it. But your suggestions would definitely be appreciated, thank you. :)

[Btw, me and Philip previously worked together on Warblogger Watch, which used to be mined with a one minute redirect, but this was taken off recently. I am very proud of our work here.]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:21 AM
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