Sep 06

Bush Derangement Syndrome

I was going to do a Matt Yglesias imitation and consider the argument (implicit I think) presented by Megan McCardle about whether  Paul Krugman is too well, anti-Bush. For us of course this is a silly argument. But Krugman is a New York Times columnist. Should he start his discussions of Bush policies from a more measured point and then argue why Bush is wrong?

It reminded me of Brad DeLong’s longrunning series of “serious” people who became “shrill.” And of course Krugman was the original “Shrill One.” Which THEN reminded me of a post I wrote at Daily Kos where I explained my own evolution on viewing the Bush Administration. I’ll reprint it on the flip.

Here it is:

What with Jim Brady and Ann Althouse and other theoretically not stupid folks wondering what hit them in the Left Blogosphere it got me to thinking — do these people think we just out of the blue got angry and strident about the Bush Administration and Republicans? Have they ever thought about what has happened to our country since November 2000?

Let me start by establishing my centrist and bipartisan credentials – I’ve written it before but it is important to my story, so I repeat it here – I think George H.W. Bush, Bush 41, on the Iraq invasion of Kuwait and Desert Storm, performed as well as any President has in my lifetme. In fact, I do not believe ANY President in our history could have performed as well.

You see, I wholeheartedly supported Desert Storm. I thought it was an absolutely essential action, necessary for the well being and national security of the United States. Yes, like Howard Dean, on Desert Storm, I was more hawkish than Sam Nunn, who opposed Desert Storm.

Apart from the decision, Bush 41’s execution of the war was brilliant – diplomatically, he built a coalition of 34 nations that included 17,000 Syrian troops, 40,000 Egyptian troops, 118,000 Saudi troops, 40,000 UAE troops, 25,000 Omani troops not to mention over a 100,000 troops from our NATO allies; (and in addition, Bush committed over a half million U.S. troops to the operation. When you go to war, you do not half ass it.); economically, he got the Japanese, Saudis and Kuwaitis to foot the bill; militarily, the ground war ended in 4 days with minimal Coalition casualties.

Bush 41 got UN approval. Bush 41 made sure that war was the last resort, as the famous meeting between James Baker and Tariq Aziz a week prior to the commencement of hostilities made manifest to the world.

And finally, Bush knew when to stop. His decision to NOT march to Baghdad was roundly criticized by a whole bunch of folks for ten years. Not by me. Ever. As today events demonstrate, Bush 41’s BEST decision was stopping Desert Storm.

And I said this LONG before the nightmare that George W. Bush might be President was even a possibility.

Is it only blogs that have reacted strongly to this Administration? Consider Paul Krugman. If you only went by Andrew Sullivan, Bill O’Reilly and the Wingnuts, you would think that Paul Krugman arrived on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times after serving a long stint at the Comintern (which reminds me, for those of you who don’t know, I am virulently anti-Communist, anti-Castro, dislike and distrust Chavez, and believed the Soviet Union was an Evil Empire.) But Paul Krugman has always been a highly distinguished economist, at or near the top of his field.

Do these folks wonder what happened to Krugman to make him “The Shrill One”?

Do they wonder at all? Can the last five years of lies, failures, incompetence, illegalities, warmongering, McCarthyism, and just plain stupidity not register at all to these folks?

Do they wonder why we distrust the Media? After watching its performance during the Clinton Administration and now watching it during the worst, most mendacious Administration since Nixon?

When is “shrillness” and “stridency” ever justified to them? What should our reactions be in their minds?

You know, it would have been unfathomable to me ten years ago that the Media and the DC Elite would have been told that the President was deliberately violating the law IN ORDER TO SPY ON AMERICANS and the sum of their reaction would have been “how does it play politically?”

But that is exactly what I expected from today’s Media. And the Adam Nagourneys, Sheryl Gay Stolbergs, the Dana Milbanks and the Jim Vandenheis did not disappoint.

This is what they are – incompetent, clueless, souless, amoral – and unreliable. That they wonder why we rage is not surprising.

Indeed, that they wonder is just another indictment of them.

If Watergate would have happened today, it would have been a a story for about a week, and then forgotten. And those screaming about it would have been called “shrill” and “strident.” But if a blowjob were involved, Sally Quinn would not rest until the President were held to account.

What does this all mean? To me it means this – the reasonable serious position to take with George Bush and any position, initiative, statement, etc. from Bush or his minions is to distrust it, to think it is nefarious, incompetent, stupid or worse. It can be proven otherwise but all doubts are decided against him and his fools.

Sep 06

Bush inspires try for new world record in Sydney

( – promoted by melvin)

Hat tip Sydney Indymedia

Nothing else reaches the frat boy. Maybe he will understand this.

Organizers in Sydney hope to set a new world record on Friday, mooning the president of the United States with 2000 sideways smiles simultaneously from Hyde Park, an area of Sydney not off limits for normal use during the APEC meeting.

Details at bumsnotbombs.org




by photobucket

blast it all. Imageshack:


Thanks LoE. I’ve seen about enough different versions of this image now.

Sep 05

Four at Four

The News at 4 o’clock. Four stories, only four, that are interesting or important. The headlines:

  1. B-52 mistakenly flies across America with nukes aboard

  2. New Zealand’s prime minister heads into APEC nuke showdown

  3. New fears for Congo gorillas as rebels seize Virunga reserve

  4. USGS Looking for Fossil Fuels in the Arctic

The stories are below the fold.

  1. The Military Times reports that a B-52 bomber was loaded with six nuclear warheads and mistakenly flown across the U.S.

    A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

    The B-52 was loaded with Advanced Cruise Missiles, part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs. But the nuclear warheads should have been removed at Minot before being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. The missiles were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber’s wings.

    Advanced Cruise Missiles carry a W80-1 warhead with a yield of 5 to 150 kilotons and are specifically designed for delivery by B-52 strategic bombers.

    Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Ed Thomas said the transfer was safely conducted and the weapons were in Air Force custody and control at all times.

    However, the mistake was not discovered until the B-52 landed at Barskdale, which left the warheads unaccounted for during the approximately 3 1/2 hour flight between the two bases, the officers said.

  2. According to New Zealand’s The Dominion Post, Prime Minister Helen Clark is opposing APEC advocacy of nuclear power as a climate change silver bullet.

    Prime Minister Helen Clark will fly into controversy when she arrives in Sydney for the Apec summit after US President George Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard pushed nuclear energy as a solution to climate change.

    Speaking at a joint press conference today, the Australian and US leaders highlighted climate change as a key focus of this week’s Apec leaders summit, which brings together 21 world leaders.

    But their declaration on nuclear power as a form of clean energy to reduce climate change emissions will be difficult for New Zealand to swallow, with its stated opposition to nuclear power.

    Speaking ahead of this week’s summit, Miss Clark said on Monday she expected the final communique from the leaders’ summit to respect the positions of countries like New Zealand on nuclear energy…

    She said NZ had always been on a different track to the US and Australia on nuclear issues.

  3. More bad news for Congo’s last few gorillas. The Independent notes that Congolese rebels have seized the Virunga reserve.

    Rebel forces loyal to a renegade general in the Democratic Republic of Congo have seized control of large swaths of conservation reserve, placing the rare mountain gorillas that live there in grave danger.

    Conservationists fear for the safety of the 380 gorillas living in the forests of the Virunga National Park, in the North Kivu province. There are only 700 of the gorillas worldwide.

    North Kivu has been the scene of violent clashes between the Congolese army and forces loyal to General Laurent Nkunda. The army claims to have killed 28 rebel soldiers in recent weeks, while the general described the situation as “a state of war” over the weekend.

    Conservationists reported that General Nkunda’s forces surrounded ranger stations in the park on Monday, seizing rifles and equipment and forcing the evacuation of park workers and their families. The UN refugee agency estimates that 170,000 people have fled the fighting in North Kivu in the past year.

  4. The Bush administration seems more concerned about finding out if there is oil in the arctic than the ice is melting. According to Spiegel Online, the USGS is looking for fossil fuels in the Arctic.

    The Russian flag planted on the floor of the Arctic Ocean (more…) in early August may have gotten all the headlines. But while countries surrounding the Arctic get geared up for what promises to be a drawn-out diplomatic tiff over who owns what beneath the polar ice cap, the US Geological Survey is busy trying to figure out whether that territory is even worth owning.

    For the next several months — until the presentation of its final report in the summer of 2008 — the USGS will be conducting an assessment of just how much oil and gas might be hiding under the ice. By analyzing rock types and formations and by looking at geologic history, the team hopes to provide accurate guesses as to where deposits are to be found and whether they contain natural gas, crude oil — or nothing…

    When and whether those “resources” will ever be proven, however, remains unclear. The estimate took rock formations into account and looked at eastern Greenland’s similarity to the geological make-up of oil- and gas-rich areas of Norway. Furthermore, as the report points out, even if the fossil riches were proven, there is at present no profitable way to extract reserves buried under a thick armor of floating ice.

    Who cares if the North Pole may be ice free by 2030. The faster the ice melts, the quicker we can get at the oil, right?

So, what else is happening?

Sep 05

Blog Roll Call

Please give your suggestions for additions to the Blog Roll. 

Does anyone have any objections to the sites I have already listed?  (I have to include all the places buhdy cross-posts… not sure what they all are, but MLW is one of them)

Should we create more subsections, e.g. Politics, News, Take Action, Congress, Humor, etc.  (or put some of these in their own blox)?

Also, if you are a contributing editor here and I haven’t listed your alternate blog(s), I apologize. Please let me know the name and URL and I will add it.

Sep 05

My friend from Santa Rosalia, Baja

This is a slightly edited version of a story I did last year in July about a friend of mine. Juan didn’t go back to Baja after all past Christmas. He told me it would be too difficult to return here and he has few people left in Santa Rosalia now. He’d like to go back before he dies, though. That’s what he told me.

I haven’t seen Juan for almost four months – the longest it’s been since I met him years ago. When the weather gets cold here in Seattle, perhaps he will knock on my door.

Juan, I have more work for you, and a pot of coffee to brew.

There is a town by the name of Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California.  When you hear a Santa Rosalia native say the name, the word “Rosalia” has the most lyrical and lovely sound, and you imagine the town as a woman, dark hair captured at the nape of a long and elegant neck, red rose behind the ear, smoky eyes. A sultry rolling “R”, a slightly flat “O”, and softer “S” – “Rosalia”.

Sunset at Santa Rosalia A story below the fold…

It is a salt water town with a most unique history.  In the United States we often ignore our own past and the building of this country by immigrants who were unwelcome but instrumental in erecting the industrial foundation of our economy in the 1800’s – the Irish, the Chinese, the Scandinavians; add just about any other nationality to the mix and you’d have the right of it.  Santa Rosalia echoes a similar melting pot past to our own United States history.

The town of Santa Rosalia was the site of a gold and copper rush in the 1860’s, a time when the occupation of Mexico by France and the governance of Emperor Maximilien was on the decline, but French business interests still sought wealth in an untamed country far across the sea from Mother France. 

Copper was discovered, and then gold, and soon the mines began.  Terrible, dirty mines constructed by a French company and operated with virtual slave labor.  Yaqui Indian prisoners by the thousands were forced to work in the Santa Rosalia mines in the late 1880’s to the early 1900’s.  The Yaquis are an indigenous population, and were severely persecuted by the Mexican dictator, Porforio Diaz, for over thirty years.  After resisting conquerors from the Aztecs to the Conquistadores, Yaquis were inevitably the target of a mass ethnic cleansing campaign by the Mexican government, decades after our own United States fought the last military-centered “Indian wars”.

In addition, Chinese and Japanese laborers were brought over to work in the mines and on railway lines that would support the mining industry.  With a promise that there would be land to grow rice on, thousands came to Baja. It only took a few years for this importation to fail, as the new workers discovered Baja was no place to grow their staple food.  But a few residual Chinese and Japanese settled around the Sea of Cortez. Santa Rosalia was a company town in the worst sense and in one two year period between 1901 and 1903, over 1400 miners died from blood and lung diseases due to the pollution emitted from the copper smelter and the dust in the mines where there was no aeration.

Santa Barbara de Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia has a steel church (purportedly) designed by Gustave Eiffel.  From photographs, it appears a rather simple structure, as perhaps it would, since its mere existence is due to pre-fabrication. The church of Santa Barbara, Patron Saint of Miners, was transported across the ocean from Europe and then reassembled in Santa Rosalia. I use “purported”, as there is some debate on whether Eiffel was the architect or if the church of Santa Barbara de Santa Rosalia was actually designed by Bibiano Duclos, a Brazilian trained in France.  Either way, the church is one of several architectural phenomena in this town on the Sea of Cortez.  In Santa Rosalia, wooden houses with expansive porches and second floor balconies face onto the streets, much like the structures in New Orleans French Quarter.  When the French came into Santa Rosalia in the 19th century, they remade the village with a European flavor and redesigned dirt roads into grid-like streets and avenues.

The Sea of Cortez, where Santa Rosalia is located, is a place I’ve always longed to see, thanks to John Steinbeck.  Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez is a tale I read many years ago in the few months I scraped by on miminum wage near Cannery Row in Monterey in the early, early eighties. The Log from the Sea of Cortez evokes something, I don’t know what, maybe a memory of what you think you should know, or a place you’ve always longed for and never seen. A mind can make false memories like that. Creatures exist there on the islands that are found nowhere else in the world.  It is a kind of Galapagos, lost now that so much of the ecology of just a few decades ago has been pillaged or destroyed by the commerce of both sport fishing and man’s idle wastefulness.

There are still wonders there.  There is a crab, called the “Sally Lightfoot Crab” and where else could you find a creature with such a name? Steinbeck wrote the following in his Log:

the Sally Lightfoot crab “They seem to be able to run in all four directions; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time they appear to read the mind of their hunter. Man reacts peculiarly but consistently in his relationship with Sally Lightfoot. His tendency eventually is to scream curses, to hurl himself at them, and to come up foaming with rage bruises all over his chest.”

A bit of a Darwin meets Gilligan read; lighter Steinbeck for the most part, humorous, adventurous and finally, sad, and all at the same time.

These are words, too, that I’d use to describe my friend Juan.  I’ve known Juan for about ten years now.  Initially, Juan worked as a kind of a handyman and also did yard work for my now ex-husband. He worked for us for the brief time my husband and I shared life together, and Juan continues to work for us both separately now. Over the years, he’s done painting, clean-up, yard work, debris removal, and performed the moving and organizing of the detritus of my life. 

We have a curious interaction.  My life has certainly changed in the last four-five years and I am no longer “flush”, now that the technology boom and the Clinton years are part of my past. But there is still work to be done. Juan has no phone and no consistent address.  He gives a call about every two weeks, usually from Casa Latina in downtown Seattle or El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill, to see if I need this or that job done.

When one is a single woman, it’s hard to admit that there are times when a stronger pair of hands or a stronger back is necessary, and in my case, it’s doubly difficult, given that I used to lift weights and grew up thinking I could do anything.  As the years have moved on, so has my pride, and pernicious anemia defeats my energy. Juan’s strong back has become something that I count on to assist me with moving furniture or making runs to the local dump.  I don’t think Juan understands how much I value his assistance during these chores, but it is truly a gift to me that there is someone in my life who is willing to help out without questioning why I need something moved somewhere or if something has to be done that day at that time, when I want it done. So what if he is paid for it? Payment doesn’t always guarantee willingness. Juan always shows up ready and willing to work.

He is from Santa Rosalia, on the Sea of Cortez, on the Baja Peninsula.  Juan’s own ethnic origins are as unique as the foundations of Santa Rosalia.  Juan is a quarter Chinese, a quarter Indian, along with half Spanish-Mexican ancestry. He has a mahogany complexion, high cheekbones and straight, thick black hair, all echoes of his Indian and Chinese ancestry. Juan and I were born in the same year, but he’s traveled so many more places and lived so many more lives, by his own account, than I ever could.

His stories are part of his charm. Juan has casually dropped “big fish” tales of when he used to help charter fishermen on the Sea of Cortez as they fought marlin and swordfish, talked of his time playing futbol for a semi-professional team in Mexico City, related the story of a bar fight in Guatemala where he stood next to a man who was stabbed in the back at a bar and how he wound up with the murderer’s knife in his hand and that is why he left Guatemala.  Episodes in Nicaragua fighting with rebels. Leaving Ecuador with another man’s girlfriend.  Witness to a shooting in Juarez. Shortstop on a farm team in Costa Rica.

I’ve seen Juan walk into my yard on a Saturday morning, with a black eye from the night before, teeth knocked out, the casualty of too much earned money in his pocket the previous day.  A bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label was used as a weapon rather than as the container of whiskey it was meant to be. Whiskey and spicy food are his medicines of choice on days when his sinuses are congested and in Seattle in the winter, that can be so many days.  Seattle is the runny nose capital of the world for those from warmer climates.

During the years of my previous marriage, my husband and I had a small old pan abode cabin out on Tiger Mountain and there was a very plain and ugly, but clean, 1960’s ranch-style house on the property. In the summer, Juan would come out there and live during the week and do land-clearing for my husband.  There were nights that I could smell the best stews and grilled food emanating from that house.  There was a kind of Mexican seafood cioppini, with red and green peppers, chilies and tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, shrimp, scallops, chili powder, cumin and oregano. My nose could separate each lovely aroma wafting out of that house and into the country air of Tiger Mountain.  Growing up on the sea coast of Baja gave Juan the skills of a master chef.  Other nights after payday, he’d often buy a steak or two and grill them up, and I suspect, if there were two steaks, he’d eat both of them… Juan is around 6 feet tall and if he weighs 150 lbs, I’d be surprised; but, boy, can he eat.

Juan’s power to weight ratio is amazing.  He’s often mentioned working in the copper mines from the time he was 14, and I know his father worked all his life in the mines, and died from lung cancer just a couple of years ago.  Most histories on the web of the copper mines from the El Boleo company  indicate that the mine closed down for good in 1985, so it’s possible that Juan worked there, even as a teenager.  There’s little other economy in that area of Baja, unless you work the tourist industry or fish.  I suspect that the closing of the mine and the subsequent downturn in employment is what sent Juan out of Santa Rosalia.  I once saw Juan lift a slab of concrete four inches thick and four feet by four feet wide using only the leverage of a crowbar and his back. To me, an astounding feat, given that he has the build of a lanky marathon runner. It makes sense that such strength has come from swinging a pick-axe inside a dark hole in a mountain.

Mining building, now a museum in Santa Rosalia

He’s told me about Mexico City, where his ex-wife lives and where there are so many people and so much corruption.  He’s talked about parts of Colombia which he said he’s hitch-hiked to and I never know completely what to believe, as each time he tells a story, there’s a wonderful embellishment that grows the story beyond its original recitation. That can be the beauty of storytelling, right?

He has two sons who are in their twenties now.  One is somewhere in East L.A. and living with Juan’s uncle. The other apparently works in computers in Mexico City.  These two are sons that Juan has not seen since a couple of years before he came to the States in 1990.  He never saw his sons grow up and he’s never known them as adults. Juan has a wandering spirit and I can imagine that life tied to one spot and the physical weight of responsibility from a family was simply too much for him.  He stays in touch somehow, though.  I know that a good portion of the money he earns, he sends to one of his sisters and her children, now living in his parent’s house in Santa Rosalia.  Juan’s mother died around four years ago, and he has only a brother and a sister left out of six siblings. 

In the summer months, Juan sleeps outside in the “jungle”, and when that gets too crowded or dangerous or overly policed, he moves to Interlaken Park on North Capitol Hill. It’s a crazy and transient life, but I know he’s tried several times to share apartments or houses with other workers, but inevitably, the tensions run too high among so many single, Latino men, and fights break out over women or liquor or money, and things get too hot and Juan moves back to the outdoors, where he doesn’t have to compromise on his peace and quiet. This is what he tells me. The only belongings he maintains are an old battery operated TV, a sleeping bag, a change of clothes (which are always clean), a few toiletries, and some Spanish language dime novels.  When living in the “jungle” or the park, he carefully buries these few belongings in a plastic tarp, well hidden from prying eyes and park police.  Long, long ago he lost his identity cards, but somehow he makes due.

I trust Juan with my home and around my kids and have never had reason to doubt that trust, even when my trust in others has failed for lesser reasons.  He can never remember the kids’ names and they are all “chica” or “girl” or “honey”.  In all the years I’ve known him, my door has been unlocked to Juan, and he knows that if he needs money he can call me for work.  I’ve been down to my last ten dollars and I’ve given him half.  When I’ve had no money, I share the contents of my cupboards and freezer with him. 

My Spanish is extremely limited (to about twenty words) and his English is poor. It can be comical sometimes, because I’ll ask him to do something a certain way, and he’ll nod his head with authority. I’ll think he understands and then I return a couple of hours later and find that the tree I wanted lightly trimmed has been cut to within 6 inches of the ground. My English, even for native English speakers, is often too fast and I forget this sometimes when I speak with him. He speaks to me rapidly in Spanish sometimes and forgets that I don’t speak it well enough to understand at all.  Most of the time, however, our common communication and results are more successful.

Juan is going back to Baja in December, for the first time since he left some twenty years ago.  I’ve asked him what he thinks to find there.  He tells me maybe work, maybe nothing.  He’s lonely for the blueness of the sea and he thinks of Santa Rosalia, at least the Santa Rosalia he remembers.  He wants to see his sister, to see where his mother and father are now buried. He wants to go home for awhile.  I think I’ll never see him again. He insists he will return in six months, but I’m not so sure.  I don’t think he knows how hard now it is to get into the States. I tell him, “Well, you’ll always have my phone number, Juan, so call.”

I have not found many people in my life who always work hard, have honest eyes, but can always tell a good story.

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, 
They have to take you in.”
Robert Frost

 

Sep 05

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly news roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, trans, and otherwise “other” community.  I haven’t yet decided on the final form for this kind of roundup, so suggestions are much appreciated:

  • September will be a busy month for pro-LGBT legislation.  The Senate is considering a Hate Crimes Prevention act (also known as “The Matthew Shepard Act“), which would allow the Justice Department to aid local law enforcement in crimes motivated by bigotry.  The text of this one seems a little too ambiguous to be comfortable: the Justice Department would be able to claim jurisdiction over local law enforcement if it feels the locals are “unwilling” to prosecute hate crimes.  Nonetheless, it has an impressive list of supporters.

See below for more…

  • The other big legislation coming up for discussion in a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would place sexual orientation under the same protected status as race and gender (but not, significantly, trans-gender).  Hearings today in the House’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will feature an interesting roster of witnesses, including Senator Barney Frank and Congresswoman Tammy Baldin.

    Speaking of ENDA, The Boston Globe profiles one of the men who will testify today, 47 year old police officer Michael Carney:

    At a graduation party, he saw a fellow officer come out of the men’s room with a bloody nose. A police supervisor had beaten him up when he learned the officer had brought a male friend to the party, Carney recalled.

    Religious groups are fighting hard against the Act, which they feel does not adequately protect them from having to hire against their beliefs.

  • Iowa Governor Chet Culver is showing just how equivocating the gay marriage debate can make people.  The Des Moines Register take a snapshot of that equivocation, as Culver “personally believes” that marriage should be restricted to one man and one woman, claims a constitutional amendment is unnecessary, support a law banning gay marriage, but will wait to see if the courts determine the legality of that law.
  • Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride took place this past weekend, although low turnout has some attendees concerned.  Nevertheless, Atlanta’s is the largest Pride of its kind, and in no danger of folding:

    The parade, organizers said, also helps put a face on African-American gays, lesbians and those of transgender and transsexual orientation.

    “People are here, and they are proud of who they are,” said Zandra Conway, an In the Life Atlanta board member whose group organized the parade. “It gives us a chance to show people what’s happening with us.”

    Punctuated with songs from the civil rights movement, the march culminated with a rally at the Capitol steps.

  • How’s this for “the times are changin'”: ABC news reports that a high school student smacked down John McCain for his wobbly stance on civil rights, calling him anything but a leader.  Definitely the most entertaining news today!
  • In this week’s “embarrassing gaffe” news, comedian Jerry Lewis shocks audiences during a telethon when he decides that this is funny:

    “Oh, your family has come to see you. You remember Bart, your oldest son . . . Jessie, the illiterate faggo– No.”

    Apparently Lewis tried to pull back at the last moment, and failed.

++++++++++++

From the blogs:

  • Terrance at The Republic of T is putting together a Hate Crimes Project profiling victims of anti-gay and anti-trans violence.  Check out the latest installment, which discusses two murders in the same neighborhood, separated by a decade:

    most of all, more than ten years later, here we are still talking about whether stuff like what happened to Garzon and Rivera should even be considered hate crimes.

  • Matt at Interstate Q discusses proposed LGBT center at North Carolina State which has turned into an year-long display of anti-gay rhetoric.  Predictably, most of the opposition is couched in softer discrimination, like religious freedom and financial concerns.
  • Andy at Towelroad celebrates the one couple that managed to marry before the Iowa judge issued a stay on the reversal of the marriage ban: cheers and congratulations to Tim McQuillan and Sean Fritz, both students at Iowa State University.

++++++++++++

And I’d be amiss not to end with a fun video clip.  For the flagship installment of this series, what better than this scene from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, everyone’s favorite punk rock transsexual musical?

Discuss…

Sep 05

Scheduling note

Admins and editors who haven’t signed in to docudharmaadmin, please do. And check it, every day. Ek has put up a weekly schedule, so you can see which slots are taken, and which are open. Once we go live, it will be important that everyone keep track of where they can fit their front page posts, so we aren’t stepping on each other, and aren’t leaving any dead slots.

Sep 05

ElBaradei: ‘We Are Moving Rapidly Towards an Abyss’

With tensions again building between the Bush Administration and the current regime in Iran, this would seem to be a good time to consult the world’s foremost objective expert on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  Spiegel Online did just that, in a wide-ranging interview with United Nations chief weapons inspector, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohamed ElBaradei.

SPIEGEL: Mr. ElBaradei, the international community suspects that Iran aims to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this. Have we now reached the decisive phase in which we will finally get an answer to this central question of world politics?

Mohamed ElBaradei: Yes. The next few months will be crucial for the overall situation in the Middle East. Whether we move in the direction of escalation or in the direction of a peaceful solution.

SPIEGEL: You have been given a central role. The new report on Iran by your International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could lead to more severe sanctions against Tehran.

ElBaradei: The international community will have to make that decision. We can only deliver the facts and our assessment of the situation. There are hopeful and positive signs. For the first time, we have agreed, with the Iranians, to a sort of roadmap, a schedule, if you will, for clarifying the outstanding issues. We should know by November, or December at the latest, whether the Iranians will keep their promises. If they don’t, Tehran will have missed a great opportunity — possibly the last one.

ElBaradei easily, but politely, dismisses Bush Administration accusations that Iran is now cooperating as a distraction from its true sinister intentions (the same sort of Bush Administration “logic” that had them, for a while, claiming the escalating violence in Iraq was actually a good sign, because it meant the insurgents were growing desperate, in defeat) by pointing out that his team is objective and above manipulation, and (it might be said, unlike the Bush Administration,) actually knows what it is doing. He also makes clear that a recent breakthrough announced by his deputy, Olli Heinonen, should not be dismissed, simply because Iran has a history of being secretive about its program.

ElBaradei: Obviously we are all pushing for the same strategic goal: That Iran should not get nuclear weapons. We consistently searched for evidence that Iran intends to build nuclear weapons. We found suspicious signs, but no smoking gun. We could now make some progress in setting aside these suspicions by thoroughly inspecting the Iranian facilities and learning details about their history.

ElBaradei says it’s his hunch that Iran has fewer centrifuges running than had been suspected out of an attempt to be politically cooperative. He again emphasizes that his team can very precisely analyze Iran’s program, and that despite Iran’s previous obfuscations, their current apparent willingness to cooperate should be fully tested. He warns that the Bush Administration’s contrary desire to escalate the pressure on Iran could backfire. In other words, the present level of sanctions against Iran should remain in place, but they should not be strengthened. He agrees that Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, but:

There are concrete suspicions against Iran. That’s why I believe that Iran has temporarily forfeited this right, and that it will have to regain it with the international community through confidence-building measures. On the other hand, those in the West must realize that if all they expect is confrontation, they might as well forget dialogue — and they should not be surprised if the other side seeks retribution.

How unusual and refreshing to hear someone actually speaking so reasonably!

The interview then veer off to a brief discussion of North Korea, which ElBaradei holds out as an example of the effectiveness of dialogue. North Korea has a rogue government, and they had an advanced nuclear program, but five years of intensive negotiations led them to abandon their nuclear ambitions. He contrasts North Korea and Iran by making clear that North Korea is clearly cooperating, while Iran is still in a trial period. They also discuss China’s recent admission that they’ve “lost” eight kilograms of weapons-grade uranium, and that enriched uranium continues to turn up in former Soviet states. The risk of nuclear proliferation is very real, as is the risk that a terrorist organization such as Al Qaeda might obtain some. ElBaradei does, however, make clear, that even if such terrorists did obtain weapons grade nuclear material, they would have neither the skills nor the resources to actually build nuclear bombs. Dirty conventional bombs, however, could be very deadly, and cause a great deal of panic and economic disruption.

The interview closes with a brief discussion of the IAEA’s official role as promoter of peaceful uses of nuclear power, and his desire to bring India into the IAEA’s fold. And he closes with this warning, which we would all do well to seriously consider:

SPIEGEL: You have headed the IAEA for 10 years now. Has your job become easier or more difficult over the years?

ElBaradei: More difficult. We pay completely inadequate attention to the important threats, the inhuman living conditions of billions of people, climate change and the potential for nuclear holocaust. We stand at a crossroads, and we are moving rapidly toward an abyss. There are currently 27,000 nuclear warheads in the world. If we don’t change our way of thinking, John F. Kennedy’s prediction that there would be 20 nuclear powers will soon come true. And with each new player and each new weapon, the risk of a planned or accidental nuclear war increases.

ElBaradei’s dream is that no individual countries should be independently processing nuclear material, and that it should only be done through multinational processes. Clearly, the man is an idealist and a dreamer. Clearly, we need more such people in such powerful positions. And just as clearly, we must hope and demand that the Bush Administration give him the time to do his job, in Iran, without any unnecessary pressures or additional tensions.

Sep 05

Time Out

Meditations on Punishment

So I’m sitting here drumming my fingers waiting for dK (undergoing a little maintenance right now), taking a little time out- an experience I have once likened to Azkaban (I’d be happy to link you, but I can’t do that Dave) and I’ve been thinking about punishment.

It’s really horrible not to be able to chat with your friends.

That is in fact one of the reasons I’m most excited about this new project.  It’s not that I don’t love all y’all, but the concept of exchanging ideas with pyrrho and Armando again has me all tingly.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past is how quick Admins are to go for that ultimate weapon- banishment.  It’s is quick out of the holster and solves lots of problems.

Permanently.

Takes away all your character ever had or ever will.

But it’s just a character folks.  Insubstantial photons floating to your eyes, hypnotizing in their dance.  It is no more real than a d20.  Surprising some folks obsession with the game.

I’d like to propose a new paradigm.

As my examination of the controls confirms, there are any number of ways an Admin can make your life miserable.  I’m not here to argue about what sort of punishment fits the crime but about entirely new terminology-

Suspension.

Misbehavior results in suspension of privileges, up to and including suspension of all ability to interact permanently- banishment.

But there is a whole range of lesser punishments for lesser offenses and the metaphor I have in mind is the ‘Time Out’.

Getting to into it with someone?  You’re both very naughty and need some time to think about how to work and play well with others.

Now Armando or pyrrho might argue that it’s too much cucumber fucking sandwiches and tea and there are implementation problems about what punishment fits to be sure. And I’ve always been in favor of a good spanking which might lead people to consider me strict.

In plain language I’m proposing that punishments be time limited at first and permanent only after persistent assholery.

But I’m not the boss and it’s just an argument.

Sep 05

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Sep 05

Quote for Discussion

So, some of you may know that every once in a while, I throw up a diary on Daily Kos called “Quotes for Discussion”.  Sometimes the quote is from a play or a book, sometimes it is from the news or from history, and sometimes it is just the lyrics to a song or a bit from a comedian.

Anyways, I was thinking of doing it more regularly as a feature here.  But does anyone at all besides me have an interest in that?

For your pleasure, here’s the lyrics to my song of the week, “Naomi” by the great Neutral Milk Hotel:

Your prettiness is seeping through
Out from the dress I took from you, so pretty
And my emptiness is swollen shut always
Always a wretch i have become
So empty, please don’t leave me

I’m watching Naomi, full bloom
I’m hoping she will soon explode
Into one billion tastes and tunes
One billion angels come and hold her down
They hold her down until she cries

I’m tasting Naomi’s perfume
It tastes like shit and I must say
She comes and goes most afternoons
One billion lovers wave and love her now
They could love her now and so could I

There is no Naomi in view
She walks through Cambridge stocks and strolls
And if she only really knew
One billion angels could come and save her soul
They could save her soul until she shines

So pretty

Sep 05

Stalin the Statesman

Via Yglesias, comes a review by Andrew Bacevich of a revisonist history of Stalin. I find the review to be brilliant. I am curious to see what others here will think. Here is a piece:

In brief, the story that Roberts tells goes like this: Josef Stalin, uncontested leader of the Soviet Union from 1927 until his death in 1953, deserves to be remembered as a great statesman-indeed, as the greatest of the age. Although Stalin made his share of mistakes, especially in the early phases of World War II, he learned from those mistakes and thereby grew in wisdom and stature. Among allied chieftains, he alone was irreplaceable. He, not Churchill and not Roosevelt, was the true architect of victory, “the dictator who defeated Hitler and helped save the world for democracy.”
. . . THERE ARE at least three problems with this depiction of Stalin as great statesman and man of peace. The first problem relates to the nature of the Grand Alliance, which Roberts misinterprets. The second relates to the nature of statecraft, which Roberts misunderstands. The third relates to the moral obligation inherent in the craft of history, which Roberts abdicates. The misinterpretation, the misunderstanding and the abdication all work to Stalin’s advantage, adding luster to his reputation. Yet none of the three is persuasive or acceptable.

. . . If World War II produced a master of statecraft, then surely it was Roosevelt. He won the most at the least cost. Alone among great powers, only the United States emerged from the war stronger than when the war had begun. Fate dealt Roosevelt a strong hand-far stronger than Churchill’s-and he played it well. As a consequence of victory, Washington too acquired an empire of sorts, but this empire helped sustain American prosperity and bolstered American security. Hardly less significantly, FDR succeeded by 1945 in restoring popular confidence in basic institutions, muting the impact of the Great Depression. To his successors Roosevelt bequeathed widely shared expectations that the “American Century” was meant to continue indefinitely, as it has, despite periodically ill-advised policies and reckless misadventures. The contrast with Stalin’s legacy could hardly be greater. (Whether or not the American Century can survive the folly of George W. Bush remains to be seen.) . . .

Reactions will be appreciated. But be sure to read the entire review.

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