Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Night They Red-Tagged Showgirls

You may already have heard about that there was a rockslide in North Beach, off the slopes of Telegraph Hill. 120 people were evacuated, and 7 buildings red-tagged. In the picture above, the lighter area of the cliff face is newly-exposed rock from the slide; here's a close-up:

And for my fellow map junkies, here's a Google satellite image of the slide area. Full story and lots more pictures at the Chronicle link.

Update: Somehow I missed this in the original article: one of the buildings closed was The Helmand, an Afghani restaurant (part-owned by Hamid Karzai's brother) that's one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Damn.

A Tale of Two Headlines

Two headlines at Memeorandum this morning:

African American Voters Shift Support to Obama
Obama getting a cool reception from black America
Um...right. So which is it?

Take the second article first:
Polls suggest whites are more likely than blacks to say America is ready for a black president, which may be part of why much of the African-American community is cool to the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted December 5-7, 2006, found that 65 percent of whites thought America was ready, compared with 54 percent of blacks. The poll's margin of error was plus-or-minus 5 percentage points....

Among blacks, Obama's chief rival for the Democrat's 2008 presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, polls 15 to 20 points better than Obama and benefits from name recognition and deep Clinton roots in the black community.

Obama suffers, in part, because voters are not familiar with him and there is doubt whether the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, who was raised in Hawaii and educated in elite schools, can relate to the black American experience.
And now the first article:
The opening stages of the campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination have produced a noticeable shift in sentiment among African American voters, who little more than a month ago heavily supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton but now favor the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton, of New York, continues to lead Obama and other rivals in the Democratic contest, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. But her once-sizable margin over the freshman senator from Illinois was sliced in half during the past month largely because of Obama's growing support among black voters....

Clinton's and Obama's support among white voters changed little since December, but the shifts among black Democrats were dramatic. In December and January Post-ABC News polls, Clinton led Obama among African Americans by 60 percent to 20 percent. In the new poll, Obama held a narrow advantage among blacks, 44 percent to 33 percent. The shift came despite four in five blacks having a favorable impression of the New York senator.

African Americans view Clinton even more positively than they see Obama, but in the time since he began his campaign, his favorability rating rose significantly among blacks. In the latest poll, 70 percent of African Americans said they had a favorable impression of Obama, compared with 54 percent in December and January.
Two points about this.

First, it's a beautiful example of how news can be misleading even when the facts are perfectly accurate. I'm not saying either of these stories is misleading--well, I will, sort of, in a moment--but they do take different pieces of the puzzle and produce effectively opposite impressions. News reporting in this country is, for the most part, factually accurate; it's the angle you have to watch out for.

Second, the 'cool to Obama' story is based on the unspoken assumption that African-Americans would be expected to automatically vote for [insert name of African-American candidate here]. The man-bites-dog part of the story is that they aren't conforming to that assumption. Unspoken, the assumption can never be tested; brought to light, it can: African-Americans voted overwhelmingly for Jesse Jackson; Al Sharpton, not so much; Shirley Chisholm and Carol Mosely-Braun, even less so. So the fact that the best-known white candidate in the field, wife of a president who got overwhelming support from African-Americans, polls better than an African-American candidate relatively new to politics--not a huge story.

Nor is it a timely story. The WaPo piece tracks the trend rather than a supposedly static situation, and it looks like the (pretty significant) movement reflected there is in the process of making the other story moot. It looks to me like the writers of the USA Today [edit: CNN, not USA Today] article 'knew' what their story was, and as a result missed the real story.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cohen on Gore

The thing about Richard Cohen is that even when he's right, he just can't help saying something egregiously stupid.

Today's column praises Gore as "a man who did not quit," who "accepted defeat graciously and tried to unite the nation, who returned to the consuming passion of his earlier days, the environment," and who "gives us all a lesson on how to live one's life." All fair enough, if overwritten, and it should be good to see Gore get his due from a member of the Pundit Class.

And yet...

This is the bit that made me tear my hair out:

It's a joke, isn't it? I mean, it was Gore who was universally seen as the flawed man, uncomfortable in his own skin and, therefore, in this TV age, incapable of uniting the nation. He was caricatured by some of my colleagues as a serial exaggerator, a fibber, a pretender -- the guy who invented the Internet, who was the model for the novel (and movie) "Love Story," who applied one too many coats of passion to that kiss he delivered to his wife, Tipper, at the Democratic National Convention in 2000. There were so many reasons not to vote for him -- none, in retrospect, much good.
Shorter Richard Cohen: I wasn't mean to Al--it was those other kids.

This would be the Richard Cohen who, in 1998, was claiming Gore gave too little to charity; in 1999, deriding Gore for dressing more casually and hiring Naomi Wolf; in 2000, helping feed the "unlikable" narrative; and in 2004, saying Gore stabbed Lieberman in the back.

"Some of my colleagues", my ass. Cohen was part of the problem (on Gore, as on Iraq), and his refusal to acknowledge that makes him still part of the problem.

Stormy Weather

Rain on and off since Friday. It's clear right now, but it looks like there's more coming in.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_1569

[Random Flickr-blogging explained. See also fine contributions from Kelly, Debra, Space Cowboy, Mike, George, SAP, Steve H, and Terrell.]

And by the way, I screwed up the number and did 1659 instead of 1569...but I don't have time now to find another image.

Uploaded by simonecesano
If the dashboard looks like this, you shouldn't be driving.

Random Flickr-Blogging: The Number is 1569

Random Flickr-blogging explained. As always, everyone is welcome to join in the fun; just post links to your entries in comments.

The Difference Between Us and Them

When AP prints a bogus smear story about a Republican candidate (apparently Mitt Romney had--gasp--polygamist ancestors), liberal bloggers denounce it as a smear.

When it happens to a Democrat, the wingnuts run with it.

Revolt of the Generals

According to Sy Hersh (hat tip: Josh Marshall), the administration's overall Middle East strategy has shifted to effectively siding with the Sunnis (Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda, Iraqi insurgents) against the Shiites (Iran, Hezbollah, the government we installed in Iraq) in order to stop Iran from...something. It's never quite clear.

And part of this strategy is, of course, preparing for war:

In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.
Which of course would make war a fait accompli, and any efforts to stop it irrelevant and ineffectual.

And it gets better: according to the London Times, the most effective resistance to this catastrophic clusterfuck in the making may be the generals:
SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
I'm a little dubious about this...except that we do have other indications of unrest in the ranks:
General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive....

Hillary Mann, the National Security Council’s main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.

“He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier,” she said. “It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon.”
So there's good evidence that the people who would actually be in charge of prosecuting Bush's war are horrified at the prospect, and may well be actively resisting it.

On yet another hand, the Air Force is apparently more complaisant...and they'd be the ones doing the bombing.

We're in some scary territory, folks. Under any other president, this sort of thing would be intolerable (anybody remember how the military undermined Clinton?). This administration, though--these people are so far off the deep end that military revolt against civilian control might actually be the least worst thing that happens.

Sunday Sierrablogging

Devil's Corral, Mokelumne Wilderness

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Best Billboard Ever

This is a billboard for a New Zealand pizza chain called Hell Pizza. Alas, some people complained, and the New Zealand Advertising Standards Complaint Board upheld the complaints.

Oh well.

On the plus side:

The board ruled the choice of words was irresponsible, but the association with Mr Bush did not cause serious or widespread offence.
So it was the language that was inappropriate, not the slam at Bush. Sounds reasonable to me.

[Cross-posted at Property of a Lady]

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Rubble Blogging

This is some rubble we saw in Kotor, Montenegro in 1988.

[That's all, folks]

BARBarians Make Heroic Effort to Revive Sagging Liquor Industry

Yes, it's true: it's time for another Bay Area Readers and Bloggers (or BARBarians) get-together. This one's tomorrow (Saturday, February 24) afternoon at 3 pm at Zeitgeist (Valencia & Duboce in San Francisco). That's Bay Area Readers and Bloggers, so if you're reading this (and in the Bay Area tomorrow) you're invited!

[That's all, folks]

Friday Random Ten

Siouxsie & the Banshees - Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)
M-1 Alternative - Regards to Oblivion
Howie B - Don't Even Know She Got One
Wire - Field Day for the Sundays
Maria McKee - If Love Is a Red Dress
Barry Adamson - Something Wicked This Way Comes
Pine Box Boys - The Tardy Hearse
Revels - Comanche
84 Rooms - I Should Stay at Home
Eno - Burning Airlines Give You So Much More

As always, post your own listening in comments.

[That's all, folks]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Love ---> Buildings on Fire

Not really fire; just sunset reflected in the windows of Lone Mountain campus, USF.

[That's all, folks]

Tolerance: Inappropriate in Fort Wayne

Here's a story of basic human decency in darkest Indiana:

Sophomore Megan Chase wrote an opinion piece – her first for the [school] newspaper – that appeared in the Jan. 19 issue of the Woodlan Tomahawk that questioned people who believe it’s wrong to be gay or lesbian. Chase said she wrote the piece after a friend disclosed to her he was gay.

“I can only imagine how hard it would be to come out as homosexual in today’s society,” Chase wrote. “I think it is so wrong to look down on those people, or to make fun of them, just because they have a different sexuality than you. There is nothing wrong with them or their brain; they’re just different than you.”
...and of the efforts of school officials to crush it:
A student editorial in the Woodlan Junior-Senior High School newspaper calling for more tolerance for gays and lesbians sparked the principal to seek approval of each edition before it goes to print and issue a written warning against the journalism teacher....

Principal Edwin Yoder wrote a letter to the newspaper staff and journalism teacher Amy Sorrell insisting he sign off on every issue. Sorrell and the students contacted the Student Press Law Center, an advocacy group for student newspapers, which advised them to appeal the decision.

Last week, Yoder issued Sorrell a written warning for insubordination and not carrying out her responsibilities as a teacher. He accused her of exposing Woodlan students, who are in grades seven through 12, to inappropriate material and said if she did not comply with his orders she could be fired.
Inappropriate material. Advance Indiana has the full text of the editorial (scroll down). Go read it and see if you can tell any better than I can what the 'inappropriate' part is. The part where she says homosexuality is not a disease? Where she says it's unfair for religion to condemn people to hell for something that isn't a choice? Where she says being homosexual doesn't make a person inhuman?

The journalism teacher and students are fighting it, with help from the Student Press Law Center. Meanwhile, the Fort Wayne Community School District "encourages [us] to comment or ask questions", so if you have any comments or questions be sure to drop them a line. Update: As Matt points out in comments, it's actually the East Allen County School District, not Fort Wayne. My mistake.

(Hat tip: Shakespeare's Sister.)

[Cross-posted at Property of a Lady]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Notes from the Z-List

A brief roundup of some worthwhile (and overlooked) posts from our fellow Z-list bloggers:

  • Sinfonian, of Blast Off, on the Justice Department's bogus terrorism statistics: "Two of 26, folks. That's 7.7%. That's like batting .077 -- depending on your perspective, either a 'prolonged slump or 'go back to Double-A ball because you suck out loud.'"

  • Betty Cracker has some interesting thoughts on retirement communities: "...when seniors seal themselves off from the world in these enclaves, the community outside the walls of their gated "village" is robbed of a resource, and the old folks themselves become estranged from the actual community."

  • Jfaber, of Rooted Cosmopolitans, on an airline passengers' bill of rights: "Since 9/11, airline passengers have been stripped of just about any right to complain about anything while on board a flight. Passengers have very few rights whatsoever with regard to any instruction from the crew. If the airlines refuse to implement policies to protect their interests, than it is the proper role of Congress to step in and take over."

  • William K. Wolfrum, on the continuing dominance of the neo-cons: "And regardless of whether the “pundits” and “policymakers” admit to their wrong doings, or just lie about whether they wanted war, like Michael Ledeen, the fact is, they still believe in what they preached leading up to invading Iraq, and they still believe they’re winning."

  • Jhupp at Unique Like Everybody, writes about the National Review's new anti-Gore blog: "... either these guys are determined to go down with the ship, or they're really working hard to prevent a Gore candidacy. That's fear."

  • Terrell of Alone on a Limb writes about George Washington's response to terrorism: "When the Hessians brutally pounded, hacked, and pierced wounded American soldiers during the Revolution, George Washington could have responded with similar tactics but instead Washington commanded that American soldiers would, in the face of incredible terrorism, treat these heartless enemies civilly."

Post links to other good z-list stuff (including your own, if you like) in comments.

[That's all, folks]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Endometriosis as Metaphor

Endometriosis is a disease in which part of the endometrium—the lining of the uterus that thickens throughout the month and is shed during menstruation—detaches from the uterus and instead attaches to other parts of the body. Usually it stays in the region of the pelvis, but it can attach to the spine, to nerves, and to organs, causing terrible pain.

In the past year or two, I have had increasing symptoms of perimenopause. To the point where I know longer refer to menstruation as my "period." It is now my "random." And one thing I've noticed is that my lifelong menstrual and pre-menstrual symptoms are also random, and don't necessarily coincide with my randoms. They've detached themselves from my randoms and attached themselves to other parts of the month. And I thought that endometriosis was the perfect metaphor for what I was going through, an endometriosis of my hormonal changes.

Then I remembered my first marriage. When I was a teenager, I dated a raging alcoholic. After he stopped drinking, I married him. I thought the lack of alcohol would make things better, but in a way, it made things worse. His drunken behaviors still occured, but now, instead of being predictably attached to drinking, they floated randomly throughout life and fired off unpredictably. I realized that these symptoms, too, were like endometriosis; a sort of endometrial alcoholism.

And I thought, Why has no one ever used endometriosis as a metaphor before? It's not rare (5.5 million sufferers!) or hard to understand. There are all sorts of things that cause problems by detaching themselves from their predicted and ordinary locations.

Which is when I realized the answer: Misogyny. Endometriosis is too gross to use as a metaphor. Cancer isn't too gross. Cancer is used as a metaphor all the time. Cancer is deadly and foul-smelling and painful and nasty, but not too gross to say that every mold, spore, weed, bad idea, and ugly clothing trend "spreads like a cancer."

Here are other things that aren't too vulgar or too unpleasant to use as metaphors: Bowel movements, erections, vomit, impotence, peeing in your pants, fever, being kicked in the balls.

But here are things you never hear used as metaphors: Menstruation, menopause, hot flashes, lactation, vaginal discharge.

You see, not only can't you say "vagina," but you can't be made to think about the icky female things that come out of vaginas (or breasts), even metaphorically. You know how everything you ever wanted to know, you learned in kindergarten? It's true: Girls have cooties.

(Cootie-free cross-post)

View from Tank Hill

It was a gorgeous weekend, sunny and (relatively) warm; on Saturday I went out without a jacket for the first time in ages. And I'm really not ready for it to end. So here's a completely frivolous picture before I plunge back into the bleakness of politics...

[That's all, folks]

Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday Movie Review: Best Picture Roundup

In honor of next Sunday's Oscar broadcast, here are my mini-reviews for the Best Picture nominees.

Babel (original review) 10/10
Objectively, this is probably the best of the five films, although not my favorite. It is a technical masterpiece, bringing together the disparate threads in a way that is intelligent and respectful of the audience (some of these post-Pulp Fiction interconnected story movies are just obnoxious, like they're messing with your head for fun). The local and particular feeling created for four different countries is quite impressive. The final shot is one of my favorite film shots of the year.

The Departed (original review) 10/10
The most emotionally intense of the nominees, and my personal favorite to win. I originally rated this 9/10, because it does go on a bit too long and the ending is a bit out of control. But it's the one that stays with me and the one I care most about. That counts a lot. And it's fucking brilliant.

Little Miss Sunshine (original review) 10/10
If I rated movies with more objectivity and less emotion, this would get a nine. But I don't and it doesn't. Definitely the most flawed of the nominees, it's also the only comedy, and silly plot holes get more elbow room in silly movies. I persist in loving Paul Dano beyond all words (teehe).

The Queen
As with The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine, I'm kinda wavering between a 9 and a 10. It's a somewhat cool and distant movie, but that's on purpose, because we're talking royal family here, a somewhat cool and distant group of people. An emotional maelstrom would have been wrong. The delicacy of Mirren's performance, and the outrageousness of James Cromwell's, are the standouts for me.

Letters from Iwo Jima 10/10
Another technically perfect movie, what strikes me most about Letters from Iwo Jima is that every time you think it's making a statement, it backs away and seems to make a different one. The Japanese are sympathetic. The Japanese are sadistic. War is dishonorable. War is honorable. Americans commit atrocities. Americans are extraordinarily compassionate. The only real statement, in the end, is that these were humans in this big battle, and the size of it, the history of it, the patriotism of it, mattered less in the end than the human individuals who cared about wives and children and going home.

(A babeling cross-post by the queen that has departed from the sunshiney shores of Iwo Jima.)

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_6754

[Random Flickr-blogging explained. See also fine examples from Ben Varkentine, Space Cowboy, Kelly, Mike, Karen M, Generik, Seamus, Debra, Steve H, George, SAP, and Ravenii.]

Uploaded by Planet Janet 111
Here we see the very last moments of the Travelocity gnome.

[That's all, folks]

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: The Number is 6754

Random Flickr-blogging explained; past examples here. As always, everyone is welcome to join in the fun; just post links to your entries in the comments thread.

[That's all, folks]

La Bombe à Retardement de Coutil

The New Yorker profile on the odious Joel Surnow (and when I say 'odious', I mean this is a 51-year-old guy with a soul patch) is chock full of fascinating tidbits. This is my favorite so far:

According to Darius Rejali, a professor of political science at Reed College and the author of the forthcoming book “Torture and Democracy,” the conceit of the ticking time bomb first appeared in Jean Lartéguy’s 1960 novel “Les Centurions,” written during the brutal French occupation of Algeria. The book’s hero, after beating a female Arab dissident into submission, uncovers an imminent plot to explode bombs all over Algeria and must race against the clock to stop it. Rejali, who has examined the available records of the conflict, told me that the story has no basis in fact. In his view, the story line of “Les Centurions” provided French liberals a more palatable rationale for torture than the racist explanations supplied by others (such as the notion that the Algerians, inherently simpleminded, understood only brute force). Lartéguy’s scenario exploited an insecurity shared by many liberal societies—that their enlightened legal systems had made them vulnerable to security threats.
So every time some dumbass wingnut trots out the ticking bomb scenario to justify torture, they're following the lead of the French.

I like that.

[That's all, folks]

Sunday Sierrablogging

Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, and Half Dome from just above the Pywiack Cascade drop-off, Yosemite National Park.

[That's all, folks]

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cathedral Sunset

We've been having some great sunsets lately, and yesterday I just had to get off the bus and USF and shoot some pictures. This is looking south at St. Ignatius (also USF) and Sutro Tower.

[That's all, folks]

Religion and Prejudice

Over at Skippy's, Pudentilla reads about the homobigot Anglican separatists and gets biblical on their asses.

I'm not a believer and never have been. I was, however, raised seeing the positive potential of faith. My parents are both deeply religious, and over the years their faith has motivated them to do things like move us all to Mississippi in 1965 to work for civil rights.

I've also seen the other kind. The Fred Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson kind. The kind that refuses to sit down and eat with somebody who thinks differently than they do.

My parents believe in something bigger than all of us; so do the radical reactionaries in the Anglican church. And what I figure is the difference comes down to this: for some people, belief in something bigger is a way to transcend petty human prejudices, and for some it's a way to rationalize them.

It's not 100% one way or the other--I'd be lying if I claimed my folks didn't have their blind spots around religion, and some seriously crazy fundamentalists are also motivated to genuinely decent and selfless acts. Read the gospels and you can see Jesus being all about the former while still in some ways tied down to the latter. Most people who genuinely believe probably have some of both.

Still: the difference is there.

It's something to keep in mind whenever somebody talks about reaching out to communities of faith. There's one kind of faith we can cut a deal with, and there's one kind we can't, and it's important to be able to tell the difference.

[That's all, folks]

Iraq Resolutions: A Question

So the House passed a non-binding resolution against escalation, and today they debate it in the Senate.

In the end, they managed to peel of 17 GOP representatives. And that has me wondering: if it were a choice between narrowly passing a binding resolution along straight party lines, and passing a non-binding resolution with some non-trivial number of Republican votes, which would be the better outcome?

I'm not sure I know the answer, and I'm curious to see what y'all think.

[That's all, folks]

Friday, February 16, 2007


This is what I love about cherry trees: they blossom in February, just when we're all just about ready to give up hope of winter ever ending.

[That's all, folks]

Friday Random Ten

Khaled - Oran Marseilles
Gang of Four - Anthrax
New Order - Confusion
Los Lobos - Venganza de Los Pelados
Dick Dale & Stevie Ray Vaughn - Pipeline
Chaba Fadela - N'Sel Fik
Pere Ubu - Codex
Standells - Why Pick on Me
Wire - Touching Display
Tom Jones - Kung Fu Fighting

As always, feel free to post your own listening in comments.

[That's all, folks]

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Libby Trial Coverage: It's About the Gossip, Stupid

So the New York Times has an interesting (and only intermittently annoying) article about FDL's coverage of the Libby trial, and Glenn Greenwald has a typically thoughtful post in response, all about the emerging role of blogs in real-time news coverage.

And Ann Althouse...well, she's Ann Althouse:

I really would like to read some detailed coverage of the dynamic between the professional journalists and the bloggers who get to have so much more fun and show their emotions. Is the static between the two groups manifested only in the form of repressed, repressive shushing? The real reporters can't express much of what they feel about the bloggers, who must be irritating the hell out of them, can they? It wouldn't be professional. Plus, the bloggers would blog about it!

....I'd like to see the movie about life in that little courthouse media room. No, the script needn't depict bloody mayhem. I like a nice dark satire myself. Or a documentary (if it's not too late). But a romantic comedy would do just as well. Do you want the girl or the boy to be the blogger?
Yes, it's true: there is literally nothing Althouse cannot reduce to the level of junior high-school gossip. Amazing.

[That's all, folks]

The Best Argument They've Got Is Quoting Stuff Lincoln Didn't Say

So...remember that phony Lincoln quote about hanging Congressmen?

It popped up again today in the debate over escalation, courtesy of Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

(Young, by the way, has always been completely insane; it's no surprise he'd be the one either falling for it or using it dishonestly.)

In the good old days the rule was kill the brain and you kill the ghoul, but zombie memes don't appear to play that way; the brain is long gone, but this thing just keeps coming at us.

[That's all, folks]


This morning. Another one for Bird Girl.

[That's all, folks]

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I am Spartacus

I am Spartacus

Per Driftglass. We are all Spartacus.

All Donohue All the Time

One more thing has to be made absolutely clear: it wasn't about the tone. It wasn't about the language. It wasn't about mockery of religion. Those things served as pretext, as a hook for lazy and uninformed reporters, as cover for the gloating jackals on the right, but they were never the point. Donohue would have waged the same scorched earth campaign whoever Edwards hired, as long as they rejected the far-right party line on religion. We know that for a fact because he's done it before:

On Friday, July 23 [2004], Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe announced the appointment of Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson as the first-ever Senior Advisor for Religious Outreach to the DNC. One week later, on Friday, July 30, we learned of this hire and immediately investigated her.

On Monday, August 2, we issued a press release noting her support for atheist Michael Newdow in his attempt to get the words “under God” stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance. We issued two more news releases on Peterson on Tuesday and Wednesday. She quit late-day Wednesday, saying she couldn’t take the pressure any more. We declared victory on Thursday.
This is why I said Edwards needed to hit back hard. Donohue's jihad extends to anyone who disagrees in any way with his neo-medieval worldview, and nothing short of endorsing that worldview is going to appease him.

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I'm not inclined to do that.

[That's all, folks]

Don't Even Think About Killing All the Democrats

Looks like the exterminationists are all coming out of the woodwork:

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.
— President Abraham Lincoln
It is, of course, unimaginable that the penalties proposed by one of our most admired presidents for the crime of dividing America in the face of the enemy would be contemplated — let alone applied — today.

Still, as the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate engage in interminable debate about resolutions whose effects can only be to "damage morale and undermine the military" while emboldening our enemies, it is time to reflect on what constitutes inappropriate behavior in time of war.
That's Frank Gaffney, in the Washington Times. It's the classic gutless move of quoting somebody else who once said (in a completely different context) a bunch of people deserve death, then saying 'but of course I'm not advocating that myself.'

Obviously, his first sentence is a lie: it isn't 'unimaginable that the penalties proposed...would be contemplated' because he just imagined contemplating them. It's like those signs that say 'don't even think about parking here'. The whole point of something as aggressively stupid as this is to make people contemplate it. The point is to normalize exterminationist sentiments in order to intimidate people into shutting up.

And by the way--Lincoln? I'm no historian, but the way I recall the story there was a significant faction in Congress who actively sympathized with the Secessionist scum. And wartime? Well, there's wartime and there's "wartime", and I think it's pretty obvious that this is the latter. That never stops them from pretending it's the former in order to use "wartime" as a bludgeon against people who disagree with them.

And here's the thing: it's going to get even uglier. Put money on that if you're inclined to gamble, because it's a guaranteed payoff. They lost Congress; that makes them just so much angrier and more desperate, more eager to entertain their violent exterminationist fantasies.

And all I can say is we'll be damn lucky if they remain nothing more than fantasies.

Update: In comments, Attaturk points out that the quote is bogus to begin with. FactCheck has the story. Apparently it first appeared in a column in (Moonie-owned) Insight Magazine by a guy named J. Michael Waller. Contacted by FactCheck last year, Waller wrote:
The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.
[That's all, folks]

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sometimes the Vermin Win

So the Jew-hating rape apologist1 named Donohue has claimed another scalp. I'm too disheartened to come up with anything to say; instead, I'll post excerpts of a post from Atrios that I think is very right:

I tend to try to have a "don't be an asshole needlessly" attitude when it comes to dealing with religious beliefs that no one is trying to impose on me, but there's no requirement for people to share that attitude. Beliefs cloaked in religion shouldn't be granted automatic immunity from scrutiny, and nor should the sometimes powerful institutions run by people, not angels or saints, around which the various religions are organized. While genuine bigotry exists against people of various faiths which is the equivalent to the kind of bigotry which exists against gays or African-Americans (involving unfair symbols or stereotyping rooted in historic oppression, assigning unshared beliefs to an entire group, etc...), mocking or having contempt for actual religious beliefs isn't by any reasonable definition "bigotry." It's simply heated disagreement, and as with disagreements about politics, or sports, or whatever, sometimes people who disagree with each other use mockery and insults in their discourse. Religious people may think that their beliefs about religion are on a different level than these things, but, you know, I don't really agree with that.

And that's the basic issue. We disagree about things....While I think there are those who genuinely believe in a "many paths to God" kind of worldview (and I have no opinion on whether that's theologically sound within the Christian or any other tradition), plenty of people don't actually share that worldview. They believe "other" beliefs are wacky, or stupid, or nuts, or contemptible, or immoral, or likely to lead to eternal damnation, etc.

This is also a reasonable time to differentiate between offensive and "offensive." If something is offensive to you then you have a genuine emotional reaction. If something is "offensive" then you imagine that maybe others have taken offense, or you find it offensive in some abstract sense which hasn't actually caused you any psychic distress. If you find something "offensive," as opposed to actually being offended, then you're probably just seizing on something which you perceive can be used to further whatever agenda you already had.
Update: FUCK!!! Now Melissa is out:
There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.

1Phrase coined by Tbogg; I only wish I had thought of it.

Other update: Kathy has an excellent suggestion.

[That's all, folks]

Looking Toward Santa Catalina

The Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua, March 2006

(...and in 1985)

Upward Linkage

Loath as I am to prolong the discussion, I think one point that was missing from my blogrolling post is this: the natural tendency is to link to blogs that are more popular than one's own. (That's 'natural tendency', not 'universal absolute'; of course I'm not saying everyone always links up the food chain.) For one thing, the more popular a blog is, the easier it is to find, whatever the ranking mechanism is. Also, there is obviously more to be gained from linking upward (and self-interest manifests in all sorts of ways, not all of them entirely conscious).

The point is that upward linkage is effectively the default, and it takes a conscious effort to correct the imbalance. And what I was trying to say in my previous post is that that effort is necessary to maintaining a sphere in which everyone with something to say has an opportunity to be heard.

Power, money, information--they all tend to concentrate. It's the way things work. It's not necessarily the result of any malignant intent; it just happens. Maintaining a degree of opportunity in the face of this concentration takes a constant effort.

[That's all, folks]

Tuesday Trivia is up and at 'em

Come solve!

[That's all, folks]

Monday, February 12, 2007

I'm Not a Fan, But...

If it makes wingnuts' heads explode, that's a good thing.

[That's all, folks]

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_1610

[Random Flickr-blogging explained; see also fine examples from Ben Varkentine, George, Mike, Space Cowboy, Generik, Karen M, Minstrel Boy, D-Day, Debra, Ravenii, Steve H, and SAP.]

Uploaded by crmuntrx
Despite FDA approval, some consumers are wary of genetically modified livestock.

Uploaded by essential8
Somehow, he had expected the Emerald City to be a little

Uploaded by tugsnotdrugs
Another satisfied customer.

[That's all, folks]

Monday Movie Review: Babel

Babel (2006) 10/10
The accidental shooting of an American tourist (Cate Blanchett) touches the lives of a poor Moroccan family, a Mexican nanny (Adriana Barraza), and a deaf Japanese schoolgirl (Rinko Kikuchi). Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

You will probably think I'm making this up, but I swear I read two or three different capsule descriptions of this movie and still had no idea what I was going to see. The biggest hint is that this is a Iñárritu movie; he's the guy who directed Amores Perros, which was also about a group of unconnected stories tied together by a single accident. Here, I think that the director has truly honed his skills. The stories flow back and forth from country to country without confusion, and the sense that they are tied together by an undercurrent of meaning is strong. The characters in Babel all long to reach through each moment of failed communication and somehow touch what they really want.

Nowhere is this more poignant than with Cheiko (Kikuchi), isolated by her deafness, she is far more isolated by grief at the death of her mother. More than anything, she wants to be an ordinary girl, but it's hard to flirt with boys when you can't hear them. She wants to be no different than her friends, but her grief isolates her. Her constant grasping for sexual contact is touching and sad. Kikuchi is brilliant in the role, although I think it's a real shame that they hired a hearing actress to play a deaf character.

The part you've seen on TV or in previews involves Richard (Brad Pitt) and the shooting of his wife Susan (Blanchett). The incident, and his desperate struggle to get help for her, is magnificently filmed; claustrophobic, terrifying, infuriating. Perfect, too, is the intimacy between them; they have come to Morrocco for time to heal their marriage, yet still have enough physical ease for him to help her onto a makeshift bedpan with no pretense at shyness.

Susan was shot accidentally by a shepherd's son who was target shooting, but soon the fear of terrorism has made the shooting an international incident, and the family is terrified. While police in Morrocco stand firm to the point of beating an elderly couple who may be connected to the rifle, they are exactly paralleled by immigration police on the Mexican-Canadian border. What is true about both sets of police is that doing their job prevents them from seeing the "Other" as human.

In Japan, a third police officer is forced to see the girl he questions as human in a poignant and lovely scene.

If all this sounds confusing, it isn't. You always know where you are and who you're dealing with. You always experience a powerful and authentic sense of place, something very important to me when I watch movies.

I was very pleased that, despite the drama, fear, and violence, Babel wasn't overblown. I feared I'd see a death or tragedy or horrible coincidence in every scene, but, while terrible things happened, I never felt like I was being bludgeoned. Perhaps just because it felt real in some crucial way.

(This cross-post doesn't have any clever text attached.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Blogging About Blogging About Blogrolling

Last week's 'blogroll amnesty', in which certain A-list bloggers pruned their blogrolls, highlighted one of the fundamental problems in the liberal blogosphere: the most popular bloggers tend to link mainly to the other most popular blogs. Jon Swift and Skippy, among others, posted stinging critiques of this action. Atrios' defensive response shows that he has no idea what this is really about.

What's at stake here is the egalitarian and democratic nature of the blogosphere. If traffic and linkage are concentrated among a relatively few extremely popular blogs, then the vast majority are effectively shut out of the conversation. It is a basic liberal belief that great success carries with it the duty to extend opportunity to others; that's the duty that, as some see it, Atrios and others fail to live up to. As Jon Swift observes, the right blogosphere is actually much more liberal about linking to smaller blogs than the liberal side.

There are certainly positive counter-examples. One of them is Shakespeare's Sister, who has consistently gone out of her way to give opportunities to newer and smaller blogs. I don't know if that's why she was hired as Edwards' netroots coordinator, but I think that's why she'll be effective at the job. She understands that the blogosphere is valuable in proportion to how democratic it is, that it can realize its potential only if everyone who has something worth saying has an opportunity to be heard. Bringing that ethos to the Edwards campaign would be a huge accomplishment.

[That's all, folks]

Random Flickr-Blogging: The Number is 1610

Random Flickr-blogging explained; past examples here. As always, everyone is welcome to join in; just post links to your entries in the comment thread.

[That's all, folks]

Sunday Sierrablogging

Lower Hilgard Branch, John Muir Wilderness.

[That's all, folks]

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Under the Volcano

Antigua Guatemala, 1985.

[That's all, folks]

Things That Are More Popular than Bush

It's quite a list...

[That's all, folks]

It's Not Over

This round is over, at least. Amanda and Melissa get to keep their jobs; yay them. Edwards did not squash Donohue like the cockroach he is, which is unfortunate. Call it a draw.

But the larger point I was trying to make here is still important. Atrios has it right:

Any Democratic candidate with a chance will, either during the primary or the general, have a a Donohue problem unless they have a long term strategy of dealing with these things. He delights in stirring up controversy and getting people fired. It's his job.
Donohue (and others like him) cannot be appeased. They are conservative Republican operatives; their mission is to destroy Democrats and liberals--to drive us from office, to shut us entirely out of the public discourse. They will not be satisfied by anything except the political equivalent of extermination.

Edwards did the right thing, but I'm still not sure he understands this. I'm not sure any of them do, although I think some of them are learning. They had all better learn and learn fast, because anyone who doesn't is going to be roadkill in the general election.

[That's all, folks]

Friday, February 09, 2007

Site Stuff

Y'all may have noticed that I made some tweaks to the template. I upgraded to the New Blogger customizable deal, and it's been kind of a pain in the ass but I think the end product is worth it. I think. Feedback is most welcome.

The best thing about New Blogger is the labels. As you can see, I've been labeling up a storm. I hope it's helpful.

I also made a few long overdue additions (and corrections) to the blogroll. I'm not going to say whom I added, because I haven't been announcing blogroll updates generally and it wouldn't be fair to the previous additions to start now. Suffice it to say that there are some new sites on there, and they're worth seeking out.

[That's all, folks]

Friday Random Ten

Donnas - I Don't Care
Iggy Pop - The Passenger
Link Wray - The Joker
Smithereens - In a Lonely Place
Ultravox - Dislocation
DiVinyls - Back to the Wall
Wire - On Returning
Michael Cox - Mata Hari
Iggy Pop - Baby
X - In This House That I Call Home

Bonus track:
Khaled - Sahra

As always, post your own listening in comments.

[That's all, folks]

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Clueless Joe

The New Yorker has a horrifying Jeffrey Goldberg profile on Joe Lieberman that could be summed up as follows: it's worse than you think. (Yes, I know; it usually is.) And when I say worse, I mean Joe Lieberman is completely batshit crazy. If you don't believe me, go read Digby's excellent post about the article, and about Lieberman's pathological worldview.

One bit struck me that Digby didn't highlight. Goldberg describes the Petraeus hearing, where Lieberman said an anti-surge resolution would encourage our enemies...and Senator Clinton responded with a certain amount of (perfectly understandable) anger. Goldberg says that later, when he

asked him if he understood why Hillary Clinton might have reacted the way she did, he said, “I can’t explain why she did that.” Then he shook his head, apparently in sorrow.
Not a fucking clue.

Of course, the irony of Lieberman's accusation is that this is exactly what he's been doing all along with his incessant digs at Democrats and praise of Bush: encouraging the enemy.

The difference is that one situation is a war, and the other is politics. Wars are won or lost based on things like weaponry, troop levels and training, logistical support, strategic and tactical planning, and so on. Political battles are won or lost based on public opinion. None of our criticism of the Iraq war makes even the tiniest bit of practical difference to what happens on the ground; Lieberman's attacks on what is ostensibly his own party have time and again caused real and practical damage.

[That's all, folks]

If Not for the Bravery Courage of Her Fearless Crew, the Minnow Would Be Lost

Somewhere on the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, 1985.

Update: Thanks to Marked Hoosier for correcting the post title. The part of my brain that remembers '60s television theme songs is clearly in an advanced state of atrophy.

[That's all, folks]

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Edwards Campaign Musn't Succumb to Swiftboating

I was so impressed when John Edwards decided to hire two of my favorite bloggers.

Predictably, they're being swiftboated. Story here and here. Now there are rumors that Amanda & Shakes are going to be fired (story here and here).

So, here's what I wrote to the :Edwards campaign:

Dear Senator Edwards and staff:

I would be appalled if you allowed the excellent bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan to be swiftboated off of your campaign.

Bill Donohue has long taken bigoted and anti-Semitic stances. He is the last person who should be dictating Edwards campaign policy.

Please know that I am still in the process of evaluating which candidate I will vote for in the Democratic primaries. A candidate who caves into far-right smears and pressures is not one I will support.


Deborah Lipp

Write with your own (polite) words of support.

So why cross-post this when Tom has already written about it? Mostly just to offer the link for writing to Edwards, and to increase the general blogosphere hitcount on the issue.

[That's all, folks]

Hit. Back. Hard.

Here's what I posted over at the Edwards site:

The ridiculous non-story about Amanda and Melissa--that is, the NYT and AP recycling a Catholic League press release--is the first big test of the Edwards campaign.  If he backs down, then we have no reason to believe he'll do any better than Kerry when the swiftboating begins.  If he fights back, then we'll know he has a chance.

Here's what he needs to say:
  • Nothing either Amanda or Melissa said was in any way anti-Catholic. Criticism of the church's hierarchy or political positions is not an attack on its members.

  • Bill Donohue is a liar, a bully, and a bigot, and should be ostracized by all decent Americans.  Bill Donohue does not speak for Catholics.

  • I don't have to agree with every single opinion held by every single person who works for me. That would be a ridiculous standard, and no political campaign has ever been held to it.
If John Edwards says all or most of this, he will win the undying loyalty of the netroots. More importantly--much more importantly--it will show that we won't give up without a fight. This is a clash of civilizations, folks.  The barbarians are waging war against us; if we don't fight back, then we deserve to lose.
This isn't just about particular bloggers or about bloggers in general or about the Edwards campaign. This is about how Democrats respond to the vicious smears we know are coming our way. Here's what we know: the only way to do that is to hit back hard. If we allow any of their premises to go unchallenged (e.g., that criticizing church doctrine is 'anti-Catholic'), they gain ground. If we vacillate, we reinforce the 'Democrats are weak' storyline.

This is the primary before the primaries, the test of who can be tough enough and smart enough to not just survive but smack down the ugliest smears imaginable. I like Edwards a lot, but I'll vote for whoever shows they can pass that test.

[That's all, folks]

Working the Refs

Oh for god's sake...just shoot me:

Two bloggers hired by John Edwards to reach out to liberals in the online world have landed his presidential campaign in hot water for doing what bloggers do — expressing their opinions in provocative and often crude language.

The Catholic League, a conservative religious group, is demanding that Mr. Edwards dismiss the two, Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog site and Melissa McEwan, who writes on her blog, Shakespeare’s Sister, for expressing anti-Catholic opinions....

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement on Tuesday, “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”
Meanwhile, the ever-reliable Nedra Pickler has a story headlined Catholics Slam Bloggers Hired by Edwards. No, Nedra, you pathetic fucking nitwit, 'Catholics' don't object; one ultra-right anti-Semitic homobigot who happens to be Catholic objects.

The fact that the NYT and AP are actually printing stories about this monumental stupidity is just way beyond disheartening. It means that even now, with the Bush administration such a train wreck that even the Washington press corps has noticed, the wingnuts are still successfully working the refs. They can get their exterminationist ideologues onto chat shows with nary an objection and still gin up phony outrage over bloggers' comments that may be intemperate in tone but also happen to be absolutely true.

This is the first test of the Edwards campaign. I hope he understands that surrender is not the way to deal with these people. If not, then he'd probably be hopeless in the general.

[That's all, folks]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I can't believe it

Took me three days to get my account set up under the new Blogger. And I think I'm going to show up as DebLipp instead of Deborah now. Not sure I can fix that. And my Monday movie review is two days old AND Tuesday trivia has been up all day (but still not completely solved). So phew.

Do you want my review of Devil Wears Prada up here, or after waiting two days, should I not bother?

I'm so ferklempt.

That's all, folks]

Iran: Time for a Pre-Emptive War...Against War

I've never been very enthusiastic about advocating withdrawal from Iraq; it's the right thing, certainly, but all our options are terrible, and withdrawal just happens to be the least terrible.

I've been far more emphatic about the less ambiguous and much more important matter of war with Iran. Where Iraq was a catastrophic mistake, attacking Iran would be an apocalyptic blunder. Despite the skepticism of some (skepticism I hope is justified), it sure looks to me like the administration is aggressively pushing the unthinkable. In that light, I think James Fallows is exactly right (hat tip: David Kurtz):

Deciding what to do next about Iraq is hard — on the merits, and in the politics. It’s hard on the merits because whatever comes next, from “surge” to “get out now” and everything in between, will involve suffering, misery, and dishonor. It’s just a question of by whom and for how long....

By comparison, Iran is easy: on the merits, in the politics. War with Iran would be a catastrophe that would make us look back fondly on the minor inconvenience of being bogged down in Iraq.
Fallows argues that the most important thing Congress can do right now is pass a resolution "making clear that it will authorize no money and provide no endorsement for military action against Iran."

Matt Yglesias takes comfort from Schumer's comments on Iran, and it is encouraging in the sense that he's clearly not giving Bush a pass this time: never give someone who has been so bad the second benefit of the doubt. I think anything the President asks for with Iran is going to be received with extreme dubiousness, certainly by me, by the Democratic Senate and by the American people. I mean he says there are weapons of mass destruction in Iran, people are going to think twice before believing it. If he says this is an immediate danger to the US, people are going to think twice before believing it. If he says military force is the only way to deal with this problem, people are going to thing 20 times before believing it.
Good for him.

But here's what worries me about Schumer's comments: he's prepared to oppose an AUMF when and if it comes up, but there's nothing there about pre-emptively opposing action. This line in particular is disheartening: "Should he try to go into Iran without an AUMF will do everything we can to try to stop that." Well, fine...but by then it'll be too late. The time to act is now.

What they should do now is block funding for an Iran invasion, as Fallows suggests; rescind the Iraq AUMF (but skip the part about impeachment, which would be an obviously empty threat); and, most importantly, hold hearings (hat tip; Digby).

The hearings are most important because realistically, they're the precondition for the other two. We need aggressive hearings (on the intelligence, on the diplomatic alternatives, on the consequences of military action, on the executive's obligation to consult Congress before committing to action) to solidify public opposition to attacking Iran, and to make sure that any case the administration tries to make is made in our forum on our terms. Every attempt at an end-run--selective leaks to Fox News, e.g.--should get them a truckload of subpoenas. Every sign of manipulated intelligence should be trotted out for all the world to see.

The reality is that even if the Democrats are completely united and work to head off a military strike before it happens, they still can't stop it; the best they can do is make the political consequences of an attack so steep that even Cheney thinks twice before doing anything completely batshit crazy. The only hope of having even that slim chance is if they act now, before the administration once again creates its own reality.

[That's all, folks]

Big-Ass Boat

The Queen Mary 2 was in San Francisco yesterday; apparently, it's the largest ship ever to sail into the Bay. Huh.

[That's all, folks]

Monday, February 05, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_3459

[Random Flickr-blogging explained. See also fine contributions from Patrick Johanneson, Ben Varkentine, Space Cowboy, Karen M, Kelly, Mike, Generik, Steve H, George, SAP, D-Day, and Ravenii.]

Uploaded by thatsiebguy
I just think this is a cool picture. That Wrath of God sky is pretty amazing.

[That's all, folks]

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: The Number is 3459

Random Flickr-blogging explained. As always, everyone is welcome to join in the fun; just leave a link to your entry in comments.

[That's all, folks]

Haunting Similarities

Victor Davis Hanson:

Kerry's criticisms are hauntingly similar to Al Qaeda's own talking points.
'Hauntingly similar', eh? Hmmm...
VDH: "In this regard, would it not be wise for a variety of reasons, and until this war is over, not to let thousands into the United States from the Middle East? They may well end up hating us more, not less; and they may think there is to be no penalty for the extremism of their governments. I'd like to see fast track admission for allies like the Poles, British, or Danes, and no-track for the Pakistanis, Saudis, Syrians, or Egyptians."
George Lincoln Rockwell: "We must have a foreign policy which is based only on the long-term interests of our race, not on the interest of other races or on economic considerations or anything else."

VDH: "If I were to sum up the collective mentality of the current Arab Middle would run something like the following: ....We will damn your culture and politics, but expect our own to immigrate in the thousands to your shores; upon arrival any attempt to integrate Muslim immigrants into Western pluralistic society will be seen as Islamaphobic; Send us your material goods, whether machine tools, I-pods, or antibiotics. We desperately want them, but will neither make the necessary changes in our own statist, authoritarian, religiously intolerant, tribal, and patriarchal culture to allow us to produce them ourselves, nor will show any appreciation for the genius of others who can do what we cannot..."
George Lincoln Rockwell: "We must put an end to both economic freeloading and economic exploitation in America. There must be no place for parasites who draw their sustenance from society without giving anything in return."

VDH: "I was lectured by some that there was nothing such as jihadism in the comprehensive sense. That is, that Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. simply have entirely separate agendas, understandable (i.e., Israel, "occupation" of Arab lands) and particularist grievances, etc. rather than a deeply shared anger at the West that originates from a common sense of lost pride and frustration, brought on by recognition of failure when zeal and religious purity do not restore honor or influence in the age of globalization."
Adolph Hitler: "The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category."

VDH: "At some point this Western cannibalism becomes not so much counterproductive as serving the purposes of those who wish America to call off its struggle against radical Islam."
Adolph Hitler: "Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live."

Title of VDH column: The Power of Will
Title of Nazi propaganda film: Triumph of the Will
Ooh, spooky.

[That's all, folks]

Sunday Sierrablogging

Simpson Meadow, along the Middle Fork Kings River, Kings Canyon National Park.

[That's all, folks]

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I've had a flood of comment spam in the last few days, so I've had to turn on comment moderation. Apologies if I don't get around to approving your comments right away (although I should be better than I have been over the last day--I completely forgot I had the moderation on, and wondered why nobody was leaving comments).

Update: I've turned off moderation; the spam seems to have stopped for now.

[That's all, folks]

Nicaragua 1985 (Part 2)

Despite the overwhelming lack of interest in the first set, here are some more photos from Nicaragua in 1985...

Coffee pickers depart Leon for the fields. Reagan's terrorists were targeting coffee plantations as part of an effort to wreck the Nicaraguan economy; coffee was pretty much Nicaragua's only export item, and their best shot at getting hard currency in the country. The pickers were sent off with a big patriotic rally beneath a banner reading something like "We will win the battle of coffee!"

More below the fold...

A whole passel of revolutionary heroes. I had no idea who the martyrs of July 23 1959 were; an explanation is here. Short version: they were student demonstrators killed by Somoza's National Guard.

Leon was the first city to be captured by the Sandinistas, so it saw the fiercest fighting in the revolution. Paying homage to Franco, Somoza had the city bombed. Ruined buildings, walls with bullet holes, and this dead jeep all stood witness to the conflict.

An abandoned guard post near the Costa Rican border. The Nicaraguan border guards told us they were expecting an invasion from Costa Rica any day now, and the Costa Rican border guards said they expected an invasion from Nicaragua.

This mural explains everything.

[That's all, folks]

Friday, February 02, 2007

Quote of the Day

Molly Ivins on Camille Paglia:

There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity.
Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, ``Poor dear, it's probably PMS.'' Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, ``What an asshole.'' Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole.
Hat tip: FMguru

[That's all, folks]

Clark and Edwards at the DNC

I caught Wes Clark's and John Edwards' speeches to the DNC this morning. Clark was good, I thought--much better than in 2004. He played to his strengths--the 'Commander in Chief' thing--by talking mostly about Iraq, the ethic of the military, and Bush's betrayal of the soldiers. (He also casually mentioned--twice--that he had led the forces that ended conflict in the Balkans without losing a single American life.) There was some economic justice stuff (he mentioned the gender pay gap, which was good), but the real focus was on Iraq. I thought the single most effective bit was asking (I paraphrase) where is the justice when sergeants and corporals are punished for abusing prisoners, while the commanders and the lawyers who approved the policies remain in office, unaccountable? I also liked the fact that he began with a shoutout to Dean and the 50-state strategy.

Edwards had a more effective speech, I thought--I got teary once or twice anyway, for whatever that's worth. Not surprisingly, there was a lot more on domestic stuff, presented anecdotal style (the 8 year old girl who should be doing her homework but is crying instead because she has to go to bed hungry because her father lost his job two years ago--that sort of thing). He was very forceful on Iraq, saying the time is over for non-binding resolutions that Bush will ignore. (Of course, in reality, Bush will ignore binding resolutions too.) He said almost everything progressives want to hear, and he said it in a stirring way; what I can't judge is whether he can say it in a way that will appeal beyond the limits of progressive ideology.

Neither said anything about Iran, which is disappointing. As Ezra says, the real test isn't how you respond to this war; it's how you respond to the next war.

Anyway, my notes of Edwards' speech are below the fold...

Starts by mentioning the loss of Molly Ivins. Elizabeth is here, and wearing a red pin to illustrate the importance of women's health issues.

Why are we here? We're here because somewhere an 8 year old girl will go to bed hungry. Doesn't have to be that way. Here because somewhere housekeeper is walking the picket line to get decent healthcare and benefits. Somewhere young man will have a college acceptance letter and know that even with part time job and 3-job mom he still can't afford it. Somewhere a mother will be working in the kitchen - knock on door - chaplain & officer with the name of her son who volunteered after 9/11.

Half a world away a 5 year old boy with 2 yo sister in refugee camp - both watched parents killed - carry his sister everywhere because she's all the family he has left. Doesn't have to be that way.

Here because somewhere dad comes home after 2nd shift and feel fever on daughter's forehead, go to emergency room and beg for healthcare. Doesn't have to be that way.

Everywhere people need us to stand up for them, stand up for what's right. Will you stand up with them?

If we don't who will?

King at Riverside 40 years ago spoke about Vietnam escalation: "there come times when standing silent when you know you should speak out is a betrayal." That time has come again. Betrayal not to speak out against escalation. Betrayal for president to send more to die in Iraq knowing it won't succeed. Cannot stand by and allow him to do it.

Cannot be satisfied with non-binding resolutions. Have to stop escalation.

News for you, Mr. Pres - You're not the decider; the American people are, and they've decided about you a very long time ago.

Bush counting on us not to stand up, not to fight, not press what we know is right. Silence is betrayal. Bush, Cheney, Rove don't think we have the backbone. Counting on us to be weak, political, and careful.

Time for speaking up about what's happening here. 37 million, 1 in 5 children living in poverty. Causes many, complex, solution has to be comprehensive. Can we have the backbone & guts to stand up for them?

Cannot walk away from the heart and soul of what the party is and should be.

47 million don't have healthcare - silence is betrayal. Victims of dysfunctional system getting worse every day. We have to stand up for them. Can we Democrats finally say we stand for universal healthcare? Leave no one behind.

Time we stood up for an energy policy not dictated by oil companies and enviro policy not dictated by polluters. We know climate change is there, know it's serious, can't leave it there for our children and grandchildren.

By speaking out, not breaking faith with our forefathers - keeping faith. We are better than this. Not the country we saw at Superdome, not Abu Ghraib, not Guantanamo, not government behind closed doors, spying on own people, we're better than that.

Democrats party of action, not reaction; principle, not appeasement. Have to leave behind half measures. Time for courage.

Every American gets a real chance, real opportunity. Time to stand with the people who made America great--work in factory, mills. Unions will never fail to stand up for their members, I am proud to stand with them. Will you stand with them?

Time to be patriotic about something other than war. Time to take action now. Tomorrow begins today. We can take responsibility, take action today. Because everywhere in America people are counting on us to stand up for them. Always been the party stood with working, needy, children, elderly. We don't need to redefine the Democratic party; need to reclaim.

[That's all, folks]

Friday Random Ten

Wanda Jackson - Sticks & Stones
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - Hot Box Car
Tinariwen - Amidinin
Shriekback - Lines from the Library
Animals - House of the Rising Sun
Savage Republic - Moujahedeen (Instrumental)
Talking Heads - Don't Worry About the Government
The Essex - Cemetery Stomp
Combustible Edison - Cry Me a River
DiVinyls - Bullet

Bonus track:
Malcolm McLaren - About Her

As ever, feel free to post your own listening in comments.

[That's all, folks]

Thursday, February 01, 2007