Thursday, April 30, 2009

GOP's first 100 days

I love Kos' new mascot, the 'Goposaur.'

Amid all the blubbering about Obama's first 100 days, it looks like MSNBC (go figure--buncha commie/homo/socialist/tax-n-spend hippies) was the only network to take a look at what the Republican Party's first hundred days under Obama looked like.

To wit:

--they lost a senator (granted, via a nakedly self-interested defection) to the dems

(sidebar: here's my favorite apocalyptic quote about Specter's defection, from the always level-headed--no, really, I think he was dropped on a flat surface when he was a baby--Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, he of the missing chin and puzzled turtle-like demeanor:

'"The threat to the country presented ... by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States or America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or balance," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday...'

Gosh. That does sound bad. Why does that state of affairs sound familiar??

list continues:

--the number of Americans who self-identify as republicans has dropped to 21 percent

--they watched Governor Palin (doesn't that sound so much more reassuring than 'Vice-President Palin?) once again show her savvy and class in dealing with the media and life in general

--made their party platform knee-jerk opposition to anything the dems try to do

--Rush, Cheney, Gingrich, Rove. 'Nuff said.

So this is what a permanent majority looks like.

I like, I like.

officer nate

Here's another piece of the novel i've been working on. Look up tag 'crescent city blues' for earlier ones.



The sun was not even out yet, though the sky was growing lighter in the east, beginning the shameful undressing of secrets the night tried to keep but never could. The streets of Downstairs were shiny with dew and God knows what else, dotted with empty cups and the occasional lumpy pancake of vomit. Despite the early hour, a small crowd had already gathered around the mouth of the carriageway, straining to see what the fuss was about.

It wasn’t always easy to tell which denizens of Downstairs--or Upstairs for that matter--were the early risers, and which ones had been up all night. A certain wobbliness was to be expected from most people who visited the city, and for many, the night’s adventures in seeking out the bottom of a glass blended right into the next day’s.

As Officer Nate DuChamps stood just inside the yellow crime scene tape, he tried in vain to peek at what the crime scene investigators were doing at the other end of the tunnel without looking like he was doing so. Simultaneously he was trying to keep an eye on the growing crowd of rubberneckers that was gathering outside the tape.

“What’s going on down there, boss?” said a female voice that materialized next to him.

Nate winced as he glanced down through the near-palpable cloud the small woman exhaled, a fetid stew of cheap cigarettes and many, many hours of cheap beer.

“You just never mind about that, Mo,” said Nate. “They got them a crime scene to investigate, and they don’t need you getting in the way.”

“Nathaniel DuChamps! How I’m getting in the way? I just asked you a question,” she replied, feigning affront as she peered up at him owlishly through her huge glasses.

Maureen was one of those French Quarter fixtures from way back, a product of the Irish Channel--like Nate’s own family--and a survivor of the floods who had probably never even considered leaving, even when things were at their worst. She was a tiny, dried-up woman, like a rip of beef jerky sporting thick glasses that might have been fashionable at some far-off time in the last century. Today they bore as many scratches as they did clear glass. It might even have been the same pair Nate remembered her wearing when she used to keep an eye on the neighborhood kids. They said she had been a nun in some far-off past, although these days she seemed to prefer being married to beer than to Jesus.

She still had a trace of steel in her voice when she wanted, though, a tone that could only come from someone who had once been charged with keeping many unruly kids in line.

“ know, sorry, Miz Maureen, but you gotta stay back and let us do our jobs here,” Nate said.

Maureen snorted. “Looks to me like you doing the same job I am--watching. Come on, Nate, you know me. Just tell me what’s going on. Is they dead people down there?”

“Yeah, they’s people down there,” he said, warming up to the idea of being the one with inside information. “And they dead, all right. I found ‘em. Three kids. Well, I thought it was three when I first went down there...the light ain’t so good, so I musta been wrong... They’s two of ‘em. A boy and girl.”

“Aw, that’s so sad,” Maureen said, taking a sip from her plastic cup of beer. “Was they robbed, you think?”

“I don’t know, Mo,” he said. “I can’t really talk about it...”
Maureen just looked off in the distance and waited, patiently sipping from her cup.

It took about fifteen seconds before Nate broke down. It was just too big a discovery, the biggest crime scene he had ever personally come across; he was bursting to share it with someone besides other cops, who always acted unimpressed with everything.

“So, yeah, I’m on early morning Downstairs patrols now, I have been for a while, since...well, for a while,” he said, lowering his voice conspiratorially, but still speaking loud enough for nearby onlookers to hear. “And I walk past--”

“Aw, sweetie, they got you walking around down here? In the dark? That ain’t right,” Maureen said.

“Naw, it’s okay,” he said. “We got training and stuff. So I’m walking past this carriageway--”

“How long they keeping you down here, babe?”

“It’s all right, I’m telling you, I don’t mind,” he said. “So I’m walking past and--”

“Does your momma know they doin’ that to you?”

“Mizz Mo, do you wanna hear this or not?” Nate said with rising exasperation. “So I walk past and I see something down the tunnel there, looks like a pile of laundry or something. I figured it was prolly someone sleeping one off, but I go down there to investigate, right, and lo and behold--”

“You got the crowd-control situation in hand, there, DuChamps?” boomed out a voice right behind Nate. He tried his best not to jump, but his partner Pete’s voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

“Yeah, Pete,” Nate said quickly. “I was just...seeing if there were any witnesses...”

“Yeah? You ask them if they seen any ghosts too?” Pete sneered. He was a beefy man, a classic cop in many ways, all bluster and boast, and a guy who truly enjoyed having power over other people. Currently he was one of Nate’s primary tormenters at the precinct.

“I didn’t see no ghosts, MacIntyre,” Nate sighed. “The light down there--it’s really dim, you know? I thought--”

“Yeah, well, you called in three bodies, and by the time I got down here they was only two. So you musta seen a ghost, I figure. I figure you got scared shitless,” Pete said, laughing.

Maureen looked up sharply at the big man when she heard him curse so casually, but Pete didn’t notice her.

“Anyways, them crime scene guys wanta ask you a couple more questions,” Pete continued. “I don’t know why they’d wanta talk to you, seeing as how you got the heebie-jeebies so bad. I’ll handle the perimeter. Let’s move on back people--”

“Sure Pete, I’ll go see what they want,” Nate said. “See ya later, Mizz Maureen.”

As Nate looked back over his shoulder, he saw the tiny woman staring straight up at Pete, unmoving on the other side of the crime scene tape. Pete towered above her by at least a foot, but she was unfazed.

“Ain’t you little Petey MacIntyre?” she asked, too loudly.

“Well, it’s Officer MacIntyre now...”

“Sure, yeah, I know you. You that boy used to try to get the all the little girls to show you they panties, ain’t that right?” Maureen said.

“N--no,” the giant man said, suddenly reduced from an intimidating 6’4 cop to a naughty six-year-old shuffling his feet.

“Sure you are! Your daddy had that little samwich shop down by Napoleon Street--”

As Nate trotted down the corridor, he couldn’t help smiling to himself: if Pete had been out on patrol with him like he was supposed to, instead of cribbing at his girlfriend’s, he could answer the crime scene guys himself instead of dealing with Mo’s too-personal queries.

Mac was a bully. It was a game that cops liked to play with their own if there weren’t any criminals nearby to push around, a game that almost came to them subconsciously. If you asked virtually anyone who joined the force, they would tell you they wanted to protect and serve, that they wanted to keep the streets safe. Perhaps, if they were feeling a tad self-righteous, they would even say they had a highly attuned sense of justice.

But despite all the high-minded rhetoric, Nate knew in his heart of hearts that many--not all, but many--of his co-workers had joined up simply because they were bullies. They liked the strength that the uniform and the badge conferred onto them, they liked the power they felt from carrying a gun--and more importantly, they liked pushing people around.

Bullies have an unerring radar that allows them to pick out the weakest person around. They are drawn to the weak like wolves sensing a baby caribou with a pronounced limp. That was the atmosphere at the precinct where Nate worked, and Pete tried hard to be the alpha wolf.

Nate was thoughtful--he knew he wasn’t terribly bright, but he was thoughtful. And he was more sensitive than the typical cop, especially since his fiancĂ©e had jumped off the train on their way to Orlando three years back. The others took his sensitivity for weakness.

Plus he looked soft. He had no chin to speak of, and an accompanying overbite that pushed his already prognathous lips out even further. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

He was just an oddly-shaped man, and it was most apparent when he was working. They simply could not find a uniform to correctly fit his peculiar, pear-shaped body. It wasn’t that he was fat, exactly. The uniform-makers knew what to do with that. There were plenty of fat cops around--especially in New Orleans. But Nate wasn’t fat, or at least he wasn’t fat everywhere. On some regions of his abundant carcass, the scratchy material clung to him like so much blue vinyl; in other places, it clumped and sagged and drooped oddly.

More than anything, Nate looked like a water balloon that had been squeezed around the top and bottom, sending all the fluid to his squishy waist. His uniform shirt was billowy and loose around his pigeon chest; his thin upper arms flapped like near-meatless chicken wings inside his shirt. Above his narrow shoulders, the too-wide collar threatened to swallow his tiny head. But the very same uniform shirt that fluttered and sagged droopily above adhered around his middle section tightly, stretching the fabric open between the overstrained buttons. Around the middle he was wrapped snug and taut as a blue sausage casing crossed with a black belt, riding ridiculously high around his upper abdomen.

To further add to the indignity of his appearance, Nate also had long, skinny legs for someone of his height. The result was that, as he trotted down the carriageway clutching his night stick and pistol to his sides, Nate looked rather like a waddling double-hamburger that had been stuck on a spindle and dipped in blue paint. He was Mayor McCheese, only with his burger-head at his waist rather than on top.

His saving grace, appearance-wise, was that he had tremendous hair.

Stunning hair.

Remarkable hair.

Hair that was astonishing, breathtaking and mind-numbing in its dark, shining, lustrous beauty. When Nate passed by in the street, balding businessmen ceased yammering inanities into their cell phones, the stunted idiot-language of buy and sell grown thankfully dim as they stared at his scalp in open jealousy and follicle lust. Drag queens screeched and clawed one another for a chance to flirt with Nate and run their greedy fingers through his coiffure. Packs of genuine women huddled together and assessed him covertly, as though he were a lunch combo, debating in fierce whispered tones whether the hair might be a valuable enough selling point so as to make purchasing the rest of the package worthwhile.

The answer was inevitably ‘no,’ but it always took a summit of the highest echelons of femaleness to reach that conclusion: Yes, it’s true, you get the eggroll and soup with that, but for your entree you only got to choose from the moo goo gai pan and that weird-looking orange chicken stuff. And both of those looked like they’d been under the heat lamp for quite some time.

All of this went on around Nate, but he was mostly oblivious to it. He knew he had nice hair, of course; he often peeked at himself in shop windows as he passed, at the rich swirls of dark brown waves that sat piled atop his tiny head like a shiny cloud. The luxuriant curls that rested upon his skull would have been the stuff of legend had they sprouted from some more fortunate soul, appearance-wise.

At least his hair drew attention away from the rest of him.

“Nature got a way of evening things out, babe,” his mother had often crooned to him when he was small, running her fingers through his locks as he lay his head in her lap. “You’ll find you some woman who loves your hair as much as I do, my baby boy. You’ll see.”

He was about 10 before he finally realized that she hadn’t said, ‘…some woman who loves you,’ but rather, ‘…some woman who loves your hair…’

Monday, April 27, 2009

smug alert

via passive-aggressive notes. with a link to this story, from a very smug website indeed.

'What’s the number one reason for the success of the Toyota Prius? According to a new survey by CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore., owners said, “It makes a statement about me.”'

As attested to by this incredibly smug vanity plate. ah, gotta love it when life imitates art.

I personally love the scent of my own farts. don't know about you.

I mean,
not to rag on people trying to do the right thing, but jesus, man. come on. can't anyone just quietly do the right thing anymore without needing to put themselves in the spotlight? Do you really need a press conference every time you add to your stable of brown babies? I'm talkin' to you Madonna. And you, Angelina, ya big-lipped mother.

(Sidebar: is it just me, or does angelina jolie look like someone popped her in the mouth several times? Between her and julia roberts, i don't know if there's enough collagen left for the rest of us.)

Plus, you know that the majority of people who can afford these cars live in giant McMansions that emit tons of carbon, eat up huge power bills, make a huge footprint on the land, and due to their very necessary location far away from city centers--we all need a big-ass yard in the sad, McSame suburbs in order to properly live the Amerikan Dream, of course--and lead to people driving even more.

whatever. jebus is coming, i'm sure of it.

can not be unseen

via fark. from the people with too much time on their hands file:

Alleged artist James Kuhn has apparently painted his face a different way every day for the past year.

Um, wow. just wow. If you know me at all, you know i am rarely at a loss for words. But i am now.

Where's Puddy when you need him?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

letter of complaint

Dear Sirs:
I wish to complain. I wish to object in the strongest possible manner.

For starters, I wish to complain about my feet. They keep taking me places. They take me to malls, and bars, and plays, and restaurants, and concerts, and coffee shops. They take me to baseball games, and aerobics classes, and the dog park, and Wal-Mart, and even just out on the sidewalk in my town. When my feet take me to these places, I find myself around other people. When I talk with other people, I tend to find out they are not so bad after all.

Feet, I do not like this one bit. I prefer to think that other people are all murderers, rapists, child molesters, thieves, socialists, and various other types of monsters. I prefer to think the world is coming to an end, and that things are nearly as bad as they could possibly get, and that the sky is generally falling with a great and mighty whooshing sound.

Feet, when you take me places where other people are, I also tend to find out--against my will, I might add--that in comparison to the lives of people in many, many parts of the world today, and compared to any time in all of human history, I as a modern American have an easier, freer, healthier and more comfortable life than almost anyone.

Except the Swedes. Those filthy Swedes. And the French, of course.

I object, feet. Stop reminding me of this. I am happier when I’m unhappier. And I can’t be truly unhappy if you keep reminding me that my life isn’t really all that bad.

I also wish to object to my eyes. Eyes, stop it. Stop showing me tragic events from around the world. Stop showing me the poverty, sickness and pain in which billions of people live, in places like war-torn Sudan, bombed-out Palestine, AIDS-stricken Sub-Saharan Africa, and polluted, repressive China. (Perhaps you could show me more dancing little poor brown children? Happy ones, like in that ‘Salaam Billionaire’ movie. They looked like they were having fun...)

Eyes, when you show me these things, it makes it hard for me to concentrate on the fact that there is not enough parking at Safeway. And that eggs cost a bit more than they used to. And that my 401k is worth somewhat less imaginary money today than the imaginary money it was worth last year.

Not to mention housing! What a crisis!

Listen, eyes, I prefer to focus on things like the fact that about half the time, the guy I voted for isn’t even in charge. Can you believe that? I prefer to remember that of the 535 people in Congress (those idiots!) I only got to vote for a few of them. And even then, the ones I vote for might not even get elected! It is a travesty. Something must be done.

I also wish to complain about my ears. Ears, I’ve had it. You keep forcing me to hear the voices of other people, people who have different opinions from my own. Stop it this instant! How am I supposed to stay angry, isolated, and bitter when you do this? How am I supposed to wallow in the same echo-chamber of doubt and fear and insecurity that the media (oh don’t get me started on the media!) like to perpetuate if you keep exposing me to voices saying that there is cause for hope? How am I supposed to prepare for Armageddon if you keep letting in the voices of people who are doing good things for each other, people who are earnestly trying to make this a better world?

Enough already, ears. I’ve had it with the lot of you.

Finally, I wish to complain about my brain. Brain, stop. Just...stop. You know what you did. I like things the way they used to be, when I didn’t have to think. When there was only one answer to everything, and it was MY answer. Or at least the one I had been programmed to think was mine. Stop forcing me to consider new ideas. I don’t like it one bit.

I think I’ve made my point. Won’t someone think of the children?

Not you, brain. I’ve already told you once.


A Concerned Citizen

Friday, April 24, 2009

shepard smith, my new hero

Finally found the embed on the Shep Smith blowup from the other day. It's one of those rare, shining moments of honesty on Fox News. Must be that ol' Shep hasn't been drinking the Roger Ailes/Fox Noise/GOP Kool-Aid lately. Although, if I remember correctly, he has grown increasingly disgusted with the bullshit spewed out 24/7 by his co-workers.

How much you wanna bet the Fox News brass uses this on-air oopsie as a wedge to ease Smith out of his contract? Gotta keep the troops in line, after all, and any opinion other than the pre-approved one really freaks these people out. viz:

Always Be Closing

Okay, once again, while innocently trying to work, fark called to me for just a*quick check* of teh funneh. And here's what I found, no bullshit, linked through fark to, which is apparently an online obituary site (a big wtf on that at some future date):

Dimmick, Chuck P.
Born December 29, 1958 in Riverside, CA passed away suddenly on April 18, 2009 while attending a NASCAR race to watch his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. Chuck was the loving husband of Kristen and devoted father of Dillon. Chuck was the Director of Marketing for the Lund Cadillac Group. We are sure he would still want all to know that 0.9% financing is still available on all New 2008 Hummer H2's. A mass celebrating Chuck's life will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, April 24th at St. Patrick's Church - 10815 N. 84th St. Scottsdale, AZ. Arrangements handled by Hansen Desert Hill Mortuary 480-991-5800. In Lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Dillon Dimmick Donation Fund at any Bank of America.

As one fark commenter noted: I guess he got the steak knives.

Another: A pulse is for CLOSERS!

one of chuck's satisfied customers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

olbermann and brig. gen. karpinski

Okay just a couple of quick posts. I'm working hard at working on writing instead of spending ridiculous hours screwing off on the net.

I saw this on Olbermann's show last night, and the piece literally sent shivers up my spine. This woman is pissed. She is the retired brigadier general who, I believe, was in charge of our prison system in Iraq. She takes Cheney et al to task for coming out now and saying things like these acts of torture were necessary, and that we 'got good intel' out of tormenting people (not that i agree with that statement). Her question is, then where were they five years ago when all the supposed 'bad apples' were being prosecuted for doing what they were told?

Uh, short answer, they were letting nobodies take the fall for the illegal acts they authorized. Nobodies, it should be noted, who are still serving time.

Not that this woman is a saint, although she says she took the directives on torture--that were brought in directly from Guantanamo, btw; remember who ordered that these tactics be used down there?--and took them up the chain of command repeatedly, asking if this was really, really what we wanted to be doing.

At any rate, watch the piece. It's quite moving.

Here's a quick one (scroll down to the lower clip for the short version): Shep Smith, of Fox News, freaking out on live tv and pounding the table saying what thinking Republicans should have been saying since 2003: "We are America! We do not fucking torture!"

Yep, unless we're so hopelessly blinded by partisanship that we follow wherever our Great Leader tells us to go. And do not dare make the argument that this is the same on the left as it is on the right. Bush's supporters followed him mindlessly; at least Obama's supporters have the gray matter available to occasionally raise questions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

wow part 2

Here's something else that makes me feel very small.

Now, normally i hate videos shot by fans at concerts, but this one turned out kinda okay, and even the sound is decent. Here's Leonard Cohen singing his famous song 'Hallelujah' at Coachella.

On the face of it, it might seem a sad thing that this 74 year old man(!) is having to perform at all. (Read about his tribulations with his former manager making off with all of his fucking money here.) But on the other hand, he is so humble, and so seemingly centered that it seems like his choice to go out and sing. Even in the interview below he really seems to be over having his life savings ripped off, forcing him to go back to work.

And the fan response in this vid is pretty fucking awesome too.

Also, here's a link to an NPR interview he did back in 2006, but which re-aired recently.

cassini pics from saturn

Wow. That is an amazing shot of Saturn's moon Enceladus, taken from the Cassini-Huygens probe.

These are amazing. Pictures taken from the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn. Many more pics and info on what they are and what they mean at the second link above.

Here's a few more.

The moon Rhea seemingly hanging by a thread from Saturn's rings.

Mimas above Saturn's rings

Epimetheus before Titan.

And finally Saturn itself. Remember, these are photographs, mostly just raw (although the above had some light filtration to bring out Saturn's rings more) as seen from the spacecraft. Would it be worth twenty or thirty years of your life to see that yourself? (Not that Cassini is actually coming back or is manned. Just saying.)

Makes you feel kinda small, yeah? :)

(oh, via metafilter.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

On a lighter note...

Stumbled across this via neatorama.

Aardman Productions, the creation of the mad Brit Nick Park has released an American version of 'Creature Comforts,' the first film the group made. They're the ones who created 'Wallace and Grommit,' and the not-altogether terrible film 'Chicken Run.'

In the original 'Creature Comforts,' regular British people were interviewed about their lives, the audio of which was set to claymation animals talking. It is hilarious. Here's a bit of the original (I think.)

Here's a clip I found of their take on the Iraq War architects that is also pretty funny, in a grimacey sort of way. GW as a fly, Rumsfeld as a hound dog, Tony Blair as a buck-toothed horse? Brilliant!

And here's a link to the full-length new American version. I couldn't d/l the vid, but click the link and check it out. You will laugh, I promise.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

palin's application

Okay, okay, just one more! I swear this shit is neverending.

Found this on kos too:

pluss I can cee Rusia frum my hous.

one more teabag

It was a crisis of competnce indeed.

One more for today before I try to get some actual work done. Found this via Kos, but I've been reading Marc Cooper for years via The Nation. Here's his advice for those who were going to attend the Teabagger demonstrations the other day:

"Go to a hobby store. Buy a scale model of a U.N. One-World-Government Black Helicopter and a tube of glue. Toss the model kit. Sniff the entire tube of glue. You're all set for the party."

Oh yes! And he goes on to point out what I think the mainstream managed to fully and completely miss during all the fooferal surrounding the most massive(!) demonstrations of public teabagging since the heyday of Studio 54:

'And now this. Whip out your Lipton and don your tinfoil hat and join the protest against ... against ... against what exactly?


So, if you'll excuse the mixed metaphor, what's the beef behind today's protests? The Obama administration is cutting taxes for all except the very richest of Americans. Reduced withholding is already showing up in millions of paychecks.'

Thank you. Once again the right wing whackos--generally lower to middle class--have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the big money interests to fight against their own interests.

I guess the constant republican chipping away at education funding and teachers had a point to it after all. The best sheeple are dumb sheeple.

a brit's take on US news

I had never heard of this guy before running across this vid which I found originally on Digg, but he's got it dead-on. His name is Charlie Brooker, and he apparently has a show called 'Newswipe.'

He starts with a few slaps at an infamous clip where an anchorman is squabbling with a field reporter during a live segment, and one particularly self-righteous Keith Olbermann clip (yes, as much as I love the guy, and as many times as he nails it in the seething rage department, he also goes overboard sometimes, I admit).

But then Brooker moves swiftly into the really, really funny territory: you guessed it, Faux News.

I don't know why I hadn't thought of this one before:

"To a dumb foreigner like me, all the Fox News anchors look like characters in some 80s frat-house comedy."

Sean Hannity as the 'uptight jock bully..with his whiny peevish demeanor;' Bill O'Reilly as the 'disapproving high school principal;' Glenn Beck as 'the wacky neighbor from a variety sit-com...'

Very funny stuff, and worth watching on a rainy Saturday morning. :)

Hey, just FYI, (and only if you feel like it) but if you read this space regularly, or irregularly, as I would imagine most of my friends do, lol, drop me a comment as to whether you would prefer more political stuff, personal stuff (i.e. random ramblings, pics, etc.) funny stuff found on the web, or more of my fiction. As I look back on my posts I realize that a shrink would have a field day with how all over the place I am with my posts.

Schizophrenia, anyone? :)


Friday, April 17, 2009

torture memos II

Wow, so I ran across this article--I swear to god--just moments ago, after I had posted my last entry. Bruce Fein, from The Daily Beast, puts it much better than I did, and he goes a step further, saying that Obama is abrogating his Constitutional duty by not prosecuting the torturers:

"The evidence is now undeniable. President Barack Obama is flouting his unflagging constitutional obligation enshrined in Article II, Section 3 to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” He is also reneging on his signature campaign promise to restore the rule of law, transparency, and accountability to the White House. He is displaying the psychology of an arrogant Empire as opposed to a modest Republic in continuing and escalating the Bush-Cheney duumvirate’s global and perpetual war against international terrorism heedless of foreign sovereignties or the lives of civilians."

Heavy shit. Read the whole thing. It's worthwhile.

Also, ran across this post on Stinque:

"The smiling Dad in this picture is the Honorable Jay S. Bybee. He is a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He’s a practicing Mormon. He has taught constitutional and administrative law. He worked at the Department of Justice until he was nominated for the Ninth Circuit. A Bush appointee, he was confirmed in March of 2003.

There's only one problem. Judge Bybee is also a monster."

Yes, that's the very same Bybee who wrote the first of the infamous torture memos, in which he states that in order for something to defined as torture, it must include 'severe pain,' which, by legal definitions he cites, must rise to level that could result in organ failure or death:

"They treat severe pain as an indicator of ailments that are likely to result in permanent and serious physical damage in the absence of immediate medical treatment. Such damage must rise to the level of death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function. These statutes suggest that "severe pain," as used in Section 2340, must rise to a similarly high level — the level that would ordinarily be associated with a sufficiently serious physical condition or injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions — in order to constitute torture."

In other words, if what you do to someone's mind or body couldn't or wouldn't result in organ failure or death, it can't by definition be torture.

Did I mention he's a fucking Mormon?

Go God!

torture memos

Apologies in advance for including disturbing photos with this post. Don't scroll down if you have a weak stomach. (You can click on other entries to the left if you want to skip this one.)

But it's a disturbing fucking topic, and frankly, I think it's a bit too easy to intellectualize and compartmentalize the word 'torture' without fully understanding what it means. Not that you or I or anyone who hasn't undergone torture will ever fully understand what it means. But closing our eyes to it, literally, is another cheap way out to me, another way to absolve ourselves of its frankly gruesome reality.

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the Bush-era torture memos that were just released, and Obama being either praised or vilified for releasing them. (As Howard Rodman points out in Huffington Post, he did something “which is now thought of as optional for high officials...he obeyed the law” by releasing the documents after an ACLU lawsuit.)

And if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve heard that Obama is playing down any possibility of bringing the perpetrators of these acts--acts that were performed in our name--to justice. The logic seems to be that, since there were legal opinions written that justified these acts, the torturers shouldn’t be prosecuted, since they thought they were obeying the law. (‘Just following orders’ anyone?)

But Obama’s stance has the hair-splitting political calculation that demonstrates to me what drove some of his opponents insane during the campaign: by essentially exonerating the torturers, he has exonerated everyone. You would have a really hard time prosecuting a lawyer who merely wrote an opinion as part of his job, however heinous that opinion was, unless he did the waterboarding himself. So, in his haste to have us look forward, not back, Obama is essentially saying, just let it go. Move on, people. Nothing to see here.

Well, bullshit. I’m sure the political tenor of Wingnuttia these days has something to do with the decision to play it this way--Obama doesn’t want to give them fuel for their nutty, delicious fires by opening a criminal investigation on Bush officials. On the other hand, while moving forward is indeed an essential part of the make-up of the United States, doing so without examining our mistakes fully and exacting a price for them is not possible. (See Olbermann’s special comment on this from last night.)

Not only that, Obama has painted himself into a logically untenable, if politically safe position here: Torture is wrong, he says. It is illegal. We have changed the directives to make this clear. We won’t do it under this administration. However, we also won’t prosecute those who have done it in the past, those who have committed clearly illegal acts.

Huh? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t take the pious high ground and proclaim (which I agree with) that torture is an illegal, inhumane, inhuman and ultimately self-defeating and useless practice, and then refuse to do anything about those who have done it, no matter how many legal opinions have been written supporting it.

And what I find most disturbing about this stance is that, when you think about it, isn’t Obama taking an eerily similar position to presidential usurpers of Constitutional powers we are all-too familiar with from our (very) recent past? By saying, 'I as president choose not to prosecute illegal acts,' is Obama not placing himself above the law much as Bush and Nixon did?

A final note: what I found most disturbing about the memos themselves was the clinical, almost instruction-manual tone they took. The word 'Nazi' gets thrown around a lot, and far too cavalierly, but, sorry, these documents are something you could see as having come out of Nazi Germany, for their precision, their dispassionate nature, and their utter cold inhumanity.

This is not us. This is not America. And by placing both the torturers and the architects of torture safely out of the way of prosecution, Obama is essentially laying out a blueprint for how future presidents can basically do anything they want without fear of consequences:

Lawyer writes memo. Operatives perform as memo states. Future president says: for operatives, acts were legal. And lawyers didn’t actually commit any crime, therefore:

Sweep under rug. Rinse, repeat.

hilton head - last round

The great thing about posting vacation pics on a blog instead of forcing people to view them in person is that you, gentle reader, can get away when you are over it. :) I'm reading a Terry Pratchett book right now in which he describes a demon-controlled underworld that no longer uses instruments of torture like red-hot pokers and flaying people and disemboweling as their hellish tortures.

Instead, for instance, they put you in a hotel in Wales on an endless rainy afternoon, before the bar has opened, one channel available on the television, and one book available -- a worn romance novel with half the pages missing -- and nowhere else to go except the one movie theater in town which is showing something in French with lots of umbrellas and subtitles. Or they put you in a lecture hall with a demon showing slides of his last vacation -- over and over again:

"- this is when we were in the Fifth Circle, only you can't see where we stayed, it was just off to the left there, and this is that funny couple we met, you'd never believe it, they lived on the Icy Plains of Doom just next door to -"

So, as your self-appointed torturer showing you vacation slides, I feel a bit better about myself in that you have the option to escape.

On that note, here's the last few pics I'm going to post. Hope you have enjoyed.

Oh, and in case you didn't read it here, this is the link to the Denver Post review I wrote on "The Skin of Our Teeth." Now, on with the torture:

There really is a (fuckin' huge) alligator in the center of this pic. We were driving by and had to stop, along with all the other idiot tourists and get a pic. One dumbass redneck kid from like Georgia or Florida tossed a rock or two at it from way too close. I was hoping to get an action shot, but no luck. :)

I totally had a shot of my brother and his son crashed out, but i made too much noise getting my camera.

My sister Jill and John Alex hiding behind her in Savannah.

John and Eric with some dead guy statue in one of those squares in Savannah.

Savannah's Cotton Exchange.

A cool t-shirt store in Hilton Head with parrots chilling out in one corner.

And, for once, I actually got a shot of John Alex smiling and not trying to hide from the camera. :)

Last but not least, here's the view from the condo balcony near evening, when the dolphin-watching boat would take tourists out. You could see dolphins surfacing near the boat right there, as if they were trained dogs or something.

Thanks for putting up with all this. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

teabagger morans

From Stinque:

Yes, the descent into stupidity is certainly our right. Now, i'm sure there are plenty of examples out there of left-wing idiots with poorly written and poorly spelled signs at protests, but have ya ever noticed how many of these show up at the wingnut rallies? :)

Go to the stinque link above to see several examples, and read a really funny article about them.

more hilton head pics

Here we go with the cemetery pics. I don't know what it is about old cemeteries that fascinates me so much, but I could have spent hours there. Except that the sun was high, and i wanted to get back to the condo to lay out by the pool. :) Here's a few:

I like the way the light filtered down through the trees on this one.

These two below are of the grave and memorial of James Johnston, the first newspaper publisher in Georgia, so I had to get a couple shots. As someone who valued the printed word, truth, and people having more information rather than less, I'm sure he'd be proud of how teachers in Georgia are still having to fight in order to teach evolution.

In this cemetery, they also have a number of tombstones strapped to the back wall with wire. I'm assuming they were stones that were knocked over, or moved, and therefore are on the wall in order to preserve some memory of the person, even though they don't really know anymore where the mortal remains are.

And a few more. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's not the big mausoleums of famous people that fascinate me most of all; it's these tiny stones that are so weather-beaten you can't even read them anymore that draw my interest. There are all sorts of little pockets and strange corners in the cemetery that house presumably the oldest graves there, and also perhaps the most humble and forgotten people. And while it's an admittedly morbid fascination, this preoccupation with death, and the physical remnants of the living corpus that are no doubt moldering worm food by now, it does have to make you wonder: how will I be remembered? What happens in the world after I'm gone? Anyhow:

I have a few more of us out along the riverwalk, and a couple of other random ones that I will post soon. Hope you enjoyed. :)

hilton head trip pics

Hey there.

I am currently as sick as I have ever been in my life, swear to god. I've been sleeping upwards of 15 hours a day, and I'm constantly either sweating or shivering or both, and I can feel my ribs on the verge of cracking from coughing so much. So I'm having some trouble motivating to write or post entries here. Forgiveness, please.

On the other hand, before this vile virus descended upon my humble head, I managed to figure out how to dump pictures off my new phone onto my computer (with Erica's help--thanks!)

So here's some of the pics from my trip last week to South Carolina with my sis, bro, sis-in-law and nephew.

Here's Jill on the beach, the first day we went down there. It was kinda windy that day, but fun nevertheless. You can see Eric and Val in the background on the right, I think looking for their son. :)

dude, where's the sun?

And here's Val and Eric, up close, and a pic of John Alex far far away. He was hilarious: like a seagull, he would pitter-patter away from the water as the waves rolled in, afraid to get his feet wet in the ocean. Now, in the pool he's a regular dolphin, but something about the ocean...

One day we went down to the lighthouse that is perched on the end of the island, and of course we picked the windiest day ever. It was still cool, though. There are these tiny, narrow stairs that flip back on themselves over and over as you walk up to the top. People back then must have been tiny; having dozens of super-sized modern Americans passing each other on the narrow stairs made for a tight squeeze. Also, I suppose they only had like, one guy going up and down, back when it was a working lighthouse.

I managed to stay out on the walkway outside the top just long enough to snap a couple of pics.

Now this, to me, is the shit. We went down to Savannah one day, and walked around seeing all the modern bars, lol, as well as the ancient cobblestone streets, and cool little squares that are built into the city's layout. Here's the pics I took of the 'Factor's Walk' that runs behind the businesses that line the river.

I was so excited by the old cobblestone street i ran up ahead and onto one of the bridges. :)

A couple more:

More to come...