12:15: Rip roaring fight with the daughter over the way she treats her brother when she has friends around. Only about the twentieth time we had this fight. Daughter, ever the one to get the last word in, seals her fate with "Holy geez, I said I'm sorry. My god." With a stamp of the foot, of course. Grounding ensues.
12:25: I go to my room to put away laundry.
12:30: Come out of room to discover daughter has gone "out." Where? DJ says she went to the store. I remind self that I just grounded her not fifteen minutes ago. Also take into consideration: No one is allowed to just go "out" without telling me or my husband where they are going and when they'll be back.
12:40: I decide to just wait it out and see if she comes back soon, figuring she went to visit her friend down the block to tell her what a horrible mother I am.
1:15: Call her cell phone. It's turned off. Now very pissed, I decide to see just how long she'll stay out. Proceed to clean the house.
2:15: Try her cell phone again. Still off. Drive past her friend's house, but no one is home. Small creep of panic sets in. Go home to see if she turns up or calls.
2:45: Try her other friend's house. She hasn't seen her.
3:00: Phone rings. It's the owner of the cell phone store a few blocks away. Someone found Nat's phone on the sidewalk and brought it into the store. The guy found the address book and called the "home" number. Go to store to get phone and start thinking all kinds of crazy things, incuding what a horrible mother I am to have sat there and not went looking for her right away.
3:10-3:30: Drive around looking for her. Stop at my mother's house and two friends' houses. At the second house, the mother says that Nat has been there for a while, but just left. Big sigh of relief, which gives way to renewed anger.
3:40: Find her a few blocks away, walking towards home. I say nothing as she gets in the car. Say nothing until we get in the driveway and then I let her have it. This exchange occurs:
Why did you go out of the house without asking me?
Because if I asked you if I could go, you would have said no.
You know the word flabbergasted? It was made for that moment.
New, firmer, longer grounding ensues, as do the tears. Yet absent in the tears and apologies for losing her week old cell phone is an understanding of what she has done wrong. Witness this question after we get in the house and I tell her to go to her room:
Does this mean I can't go out with Jen tonight?
Walk out of room. Go into office, close door, light cigarette and wonder who it was that told me all those years ago that teenage girls are a delight, a mother's best friend. Because I'd sure like to kick them in the teeth right now.
HEAD: “Why are the Americans so fat?” Michael Moore quote: “The only time I have been scared for my life has been going through a McDonald’s drive-thru.” The New York Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock asked in Michael-Moore-style this profound question and lived on fast food in a self-experiment for 30 days of only products of the largest fast-food chain in the world. Astonishingly [the results]: 25 pounds more around the ribs, alarming liver count and blood count, which would alarm any doctor. In his top-Satire, which won the prize for best direction in Sundance 2004 for an outstanding film, Spurlock questions the responsibility of affiliated groups and consumers, the large amount of money that the “fast-food-culture” has made and the alternative – to make the heavy-weighted Americans again a healthier population. An ironic blow to the stomach - loaded with a lot of fat and facts about a questionable mega-industry. Super Size Me A true fat film by Morgan Spurlock…Now in theaters! Don’t care what you eat? Then do not allow yourself to miss this exciting and important Film about the dangers of poor nourishment – it will open your eyes!Presented without commentary. I'm going to Quiznos.
-Invest in new technology and alternative fuels to lessen US dependence on foreign oil. - Make America "finally and forever" independent of Middle East oil. - Cut the US deficit in half over four years by ending corporate tax cuts, which he called "corporate welfare." - Offer targeted tax breaks for the middle class. - Roll back tax cuts granted by the Bush administration to people earning over $200,000 a year. - Close tax loopholes to companies moving jobs abroad and give breaks to firms keeping good-paying jobs at home. - Pledged not to privatise Social Security or to cut benefits. - Incentives to revitalise manufacturing and investment in technology and innovation. - Pledged that as commander-in-chief he would never lead the United States into a preemptive war, only sending troops to battle "a threat that was real and imminent." - Immediately reform intelligence gathering. - Rebuild alliances with other nations. - Ensure the United States would lead the global effort against nuclear proliferation. - Add 40,000 active duty troops. - Double the number of US special forces. - End the military's heavy reliance on National Guard and military reservists. - Immediately implement the recommendations of the September 11 commission. - Offer incentives that would save families $1,000 a year on health insurance costs. - Allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from countries like Canada, where they are often less expensive.To quote BFT: bq. The numbers don't add up. You can't raise some taxes, transfer that money to other people through tax cut, spend more on healthcare, protect social security, increase military spending AND cut the deficit in half. In the immortal words of Fugazi, promises are shit. You can list a litany of sweet talking promises from now until November but you better be prepared to answer to the people who are taking those promises to the voting booth when you can't cash the checks your acceptance speech wrote.
As Alex Kerry told the poignant story of her dad saving her hamster, I thought to myself, gee, self. It's a good thing you're never going to run for President. Because what would your kids say about you in that situation?
I imagine a reporter saying to them, hey kids! Have any hamster stories to tell us? And they would tell this one (culled from the now defunct Rasing Hell archives)
The kid at the pet store swore that we were buying two male hamsters. So when they began retreating to a corner of the cage and performing nasty deeds with each other, we just shrugged and figured they were gay.
Kobe, the smaller of the two, gave birth this morning. So much for the “two males” theory.
Natalie and DJ were standing by the cage, watching Kobe run around while a tiny mutant looking thing dangled out of his backside. Akuma, the molester hamster, was trying to pull the mutant baby out.
Ok, the babies weren't exactly mutants but have you ever seen a newborn rodent? They look like miniature versions of ET. Anyhow, I grabbed Akuma out of the cage, put him in the attached cage, and took off the tube separating the two. Some maternal rodent instinct kicked in and I was sure that I was doing the proper thing. It just didn't look right for the father to be pulling the baby out with his teeth.
Natalie screamed. "SHE'S EATING THE BABIES! SHE'S EATING THE BABIES!"
Sure enough, Kobe was stuffing the mutants into her mouth like they were treats.
"Maybe she's just storing them in her cheeks so she can take them to the upstairs cubby," I said.
"Right, mom. She's chewing."
DJ was staring intently. "Do you think they taste good? I bet they're really nutritious."
"You want to try one?" I pretend to open the cage up.
"Ewwww mom! Hey, how come there's no blood or anything squirting out when she bites on them?"
"She's eating them whole."
They stare for a few minutes then a look of horror crosses DJ's face.
"Umm..mom? Weren't they from the same litter?
"SHE DID IT WITH HER BROTHER!!!"
DJ and Natalie alternate between making gagging sounds and cracking up. Meanwhile Justin, my husband, is sitting at the computer looking up FAQs on hamsters while he's holding Akuma. I hear him talking to the incestuous rodent.
"You should have thought about this before you started humping her, you know. What did you think was going to happen? Now you get stuck in the little apartment and she wants no part of you. Oh yea, I know, she's partly to blame. She could have said no. But you're going to have to go back in there and take responsibility for your actions."
He's obviously reading one of the FAQs as he's talking to Akuma. "Now, Akuma, you go back in there and umm...lick the babies and eat the placenta. And then umm...clean up your girlfriend, too. And help her out with the babies."
I'm standing there envisioning him giving this talk to DJ some day. Without the placenta eating part. Obviously Justin was thinking the same thing because he turned to me and said "It's never too early to start stocking up on condoms for DJ, you know."You can learn an awful lot from a rodent.
I guess I could count out the PETA vote.
For the first time, bloggers will hold an on-site presence at the Republican National Convention called "Bloggers Corner." Positioned near Radio Row, credentialed bloggers will have the opportunity to connect with delegates, guests and other surrogates for interviews, and to provide original content, including multimedia, to their audiences. Through this behind-the-scenes look at the convention's proceedings and events, bloggers will play an important role in telling the story of the 2004 Republican Convention. Bloggers Corner will be located in Madison Square Garden's Theater Lobby in the corridor adjacent to Radio Row. Electrical outlets, tabled work stations and necessary hook-ups for laptop and other portable computers will be available for high-speed Internet and Intranet access. Main TV monitors will also be accessible in all convention common areas including Bloggers Corner and will carry closed circuit coverage of all floor activities. Bloggers will be credentialed to move about all media areas with access to the Media Center and the news conference center for briefings.I hereby call dibs on using the phrase Live From Blogger's Corner for my interviews and dispatches. I hope Ralph Kiner approves. As an aside (I'm watching the DNC festivities), there are few things less entertaining than old women in red, white and blue hats trying to rock out.
Or commentary on the game/fight.
New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez takes a punch from Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek in the third inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts July 24, 2004. The fight came after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch from the Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo.Varitek and Rodriguez were ejected from the game. REUTERS/Brian Snyder REUTERS
Pretty exciting game, even if it had a shitty ending.
1 cup water 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup Guinness stout In a heavy saucepan whisk together the water and the cornstarch and simmer the mixture over moderate heat, whisking, for 2 minutes. Add the milks, the salt, and the sugar, heat the mixture over moderately low heat, whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved, and remove the pan from the heat. Let the mixture cool completely, stir in the Guinness, and freeze the mixture in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Makes about 1 quartAm I the only one drooling?
At three seconds after 10 a.m., Mr. Jarrah is heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying: "Is that it? Shall we finish it off?" But another hijacker responds: "No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off." The voice recorder captured sounds of continued fighting, and Mr. Jarrah pitched the plane up and then down. A passenger is heard to say, "In the cockpit. If we don't we'll die!" Then a passenger yelled "Roll it!" Some aviation experts have speculated that this was a reference to a food cart, being used as a battering ram.What would you do if this happened to you today? Would you be paralyzed by shock and horror that there were people on your plane that wanted you and every other passenger and crew member dead? Would you stare in disbelief at the scene? Or would you, in your mind, have prepared for this possibility by a few years of remembering what happened on Flight 93? Would your instinct be to cower, cry or confront? Perhaps on September 10, 2001 I might have been one of those cowering. Not now. I am fully prepared for a situation like this because it is no longer a piece of fiction ripped from an action movie. It is real. It has happened. I don't know about you, but I never want to live through a day like 9/11 again. I never want to visit again the horror and anguish of the days and weeks that followed. I never again want to attend five funerals in one week. I never again want to see my friends and neighbors and even complete strangers crying, grieving and scarred in so large a number, over so many days. What have we learned from the 9/11 commission? Is there anything in that report that will help us prevent another terrible day? Was the report meant to look forward or look back? Because looking back is not going to solve anything. Partisan bickering over who was to blame is not going to prevent another attack. Recognizing that we cannot worry about political correctness or hurt feelings of certain communities should be a priority. It is obvious who wants us dead. bq. In this sense, 9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests “over there” should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America “over here.” In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. But the enemy is not just “terrorism,” some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism —especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology. [chapter 12, via Wizbang] We are safer. We are not safe. And only a comprehensive strategy that recognizes who our enemy is will make us safer. Only the realization by everyone that we are at war against a specific ideology and we need to be a bit more vigilant and a lot less liberal in our ideas in dealing with our enemy will make us safer. This is why I never forget 9/11. This is why the images are burned in my mind and my anger is worn on my sleeve. We must never forget who our enemy is and what they did to us. We must never lose sight of the fact that they declared war on us. I am not paranoid. I am realistic.. And I will never, ever get over it or stop carrying it around with me because to do so would be to become complacent. Which would be a great disservice to the memory of those who died for nothing more than a blatant hatred of freedom. Never forget.
Organizers have asked that the city consider helping to defray the cost of equipment, which Ms. Cagan said would run at least $150,000 more than it would have in Central Park. In addition, organizers are asking the city to help provide access to things like water and transportation, since the new location is far from mass transit and lacks the shade of Central Park.Wow, times have changed. The spirit of Woodstock is howling from the great beyond. Wimps. Past generations of protesters are hanging their heads in shame. Have the left become such a spoiled, self-absorbed bunch that they can't stand in the hot sun for a few hours for their cause without having a port-a-potty and free water nearby? It takes reall balls to ask the city you are about to distrupt to provide for your creature comforts while you are protesting. Seriously, this is a disgrace to your 1960's forefathers of activism. Even back in the late 70's when I was doing the no-nukes tour, we would have rather died of thirst before asking the government to provide us with water. Perhaps you would like the mayor, his staff and the NYPD to make your signs, stand in your place when you're tired or shout your slogans for you? Hey, they'll let you tie up the West Side Highway for a few days and they'll also throw in 1,000 pictures of Hitler, some crayons, cardboard and Elmer's Glue! Pack a freaking umbrella and a cooler, people. Nobody owes you anything.
Anyway, this is good news. Nour Mehana's band might have acted like jerks on the plane, but it appears safe to say they were not casing Northwest Airlines for a suicidal assault, and we can quit worrying about this being a "dry run" or an aborted attack. And if Jacobsen was wondering why one man in a dark suit and sunglasses sat in first class while everyone else flew coach, well, it seems pretty clear that this was the Big Mehana himself. Which is definitely not the same as saying Jacobsen was wrong to worry. The proven existence of this band confirms one of the last details of her story, and her story confirms some of our worst fears about airline security. The mindset of passengers, of the crew, and even of the law-enforcement personnel (Jacobsen said a flight attendant reassured her husband by pointing out that air marshals were on the flight), and decision makers higher up the ladder was reactive, not proactive.I stated in my first post on this subject that there were parts of Annie's story that read like fiction to me. I still think the story has been somewhat embellished. Did Annie really think the man who had been so nice to her pre-boarding had turned and glared at her when they were on the plane? Or was she just remembering details that didn't exactly occur, but were more like dramatic flair? But that's really neither here nor there, is it? What we have here seems, on its face, to be an ending, a conclusion, the closing statement on a now legendary (in internet terms) story. Or is it? The really story here is one of security.
June 29 was no ordinary day in the skies. That day, Department of Homeland Security officials issued an "unusually specific internal warning," urging customs officials to watch out for Pakistanis with physical signs of rough training in the al Qaeda training camps. The warning specifically mentioned Detroit and Los Angeles's LAX airports, the origin and terminus of NWA flight 327. That means that our air-traffic system was expecting trouble. But rather than land the plane in Las Vegas or Omaha, it was allowed to continue on to Los Angeles without interruption, as if everything were hunky-dory on board. It certainly wasn't. If this had been the real thing, and the musicians had instead been terrorists, nothing was stopping them from taking control of the plane or assembling a bomb in the restroom. Given the information they were working with at the time, almost everyone should have reacted differently than they did.Jacobson's fears turned out to be, thankfully, unfounded (though she still maintains that the Wayne Newton look-alike singer and his traveling band are not the people she saw on the plane). And now we delve once again into the land of what ifs; what if her fears were not unfounded? What if these guys were terrorists on a dry run? Given the circumstances of the day, that should have been a real fear. Perhaps Annie Jacobsen overreacted and, in my eyes at least, retold the story in a way that was a little too over-the-top in the drama department, but the pilots and the air marshals that were supposedly on board should have reacted differently considering what the warning of the day was. Today, splashed all over your news, we see stills from the video of four 9/11 hijackers at Dulles Airport. It's chilling to look a these pictures because we know what comes next. It's like watching a horror movie you've seen ten times already, but you still want to scream at the screen at a certain point: don't go in the basement! But they always do. And no matter how many times you look at these pictures and you want to say don't let them in! the scene has been acted, directed and wrapped. You can't change it. You can leave a theater after seeing a slasher film laughing in the knowledge that even though you just watched fifteen people die, it wasn't real. You look at the pictures of the hijackers entering the airport, you look at pictures of the burning WTC, and you wish it wasn't real. And sometimes there's a part of your brain that still can't grasp the reality of it and you look with kind of a disconnect, much like you do with movies. Unlike the movies, where fifteen more horror films will make their way to your local theater and the dumb girl will go into the basement/closet/dark room every single time, we have the power to make sure that what we see on the Dulles surveillance tape never happens again. That's my issue this election year and it's my only issue. My vote will be selfish. My vote will be about me and my family and nothing else. I will admit right here that I am not considering social security, spending, health care, taxes, gay marriage, education reform or any other issues of 2004. They are all secondary to me. What is the use of all those wonderful things like health care and the right to marry whom you want if we're not safe? First things first. Make this country safe for me. Win the war on terrorism. Make sure that we never have to scrutinize surveillance tapes or have a commission figure out where we went wrong ever agin. Then we'll talk about everything else. See, I am a security mom. Michelle Malkin speaks for me when she describes what makes her a security mom:
Nothing matters more to me right now than the safety of my home and the survival of my homeland. I believe in the right to defend myself, and in America's right to defend itself against its enemies. I am a citizen of the United States, not the United Nations. I want a president who is of one mind, not two, about what must be done to protect our freedom and our borders. I don't care about the hair on his head or the wrinkles in his forehead. I am not awed by his ability to ride a snowboard or fly a plane. Nor does it matter much to me whether his wife speaks four languages or bakes good cookies. What I want is a commander in chief who will stop pandering to political correctness and People magazine editors, and start pandering to me...I have a place this election. I have a stand to make. Remember soccer moms? I never understood that phrase nor did I understand what made the soccer moms such an appealing part of the constituency. What did they stand for? Better soccer fields? Nicer SUVs? More after school programs? It was disingenuous to describe young, suburban mothers in that way and frankly, it pissed me off. I felt it was an insult, that we were being thought of as no more than the appendage to the family, the cheerleader for the husband and kids. Looking at me in that light was no way to get my vote. I really don't remember anyone liking the soccer mom label. It labeled us as passive observers to the political arena whose vote could be had by offering us free coupons for diapers. Condescending. But, security mom. Now there's a label I can sink my teeth into. It means something. It shows what I stand for. It shows where my vote is going and why. Security moms are not passive. We are knowledgeable. We are aware. We are active. Most of us were thrust into this role after 9/11 and we accepted it gladly. I probably do myself - and others like me - a disservice by saying my vote is a selfish one. Just because I am not putting your right to marry or your education concerns first does not mean I don't care about those things, or you. National security is for all of us. I care about this country and its future. I care about your family, your children, your safety. Somehow, our national security has become little more than a platform of partisan bickering. The release today of the 9/11 commission's report (speaking of partisan) will relieve both Clinton and Bush of any outright blame for what happened in September of 2001. Mostly, that's a good thing. Our presidents were doing all they could to protect us, right? The problems can be fixed and future terrorist attacks can be prevented. From MSNBC:
Administration officials familiar with the report told reporters late Wednesday that “neither President Bush nor President Clinton would be blamed for failing to act.” They said the panel would include an appendix praising the Bush administration for its actions since the 2001 attacks that had made the nation. The report will also debunk several “myths” that have built up around the terrorist strikes that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, the officials said. According to the report, they said: * The Saudi government did not fund the 19 hijackers. * Relatives of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were not allowed to fly out of the country until after air traffic was allowed to move freely after it was grounded following the attacks. Moreover, those family members had no connection to the terrorist plot. * Bush did not know about the specific threat beforehand, and there was little more that he could to prevent it.However:
Still, the report is expected to provide fodder for arguments in the presidential campaign. Advisers to the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have said they hope to use the report to show that the Bush administration was inattentive in the summer of 2001 to threats of a possible attack.Well, damn. The report is good. What a shame for the Kerry campaign. Instead of saying, look, we did all we could, let's not place blame, let's look forward, Kerry's advisers are disappointed that they can't blame Bush for everything. They're hoping to get political mileage out of it. That shows me that Kerry is not pandering to me, other security moms or anyone who cares about the future security of this country. He is pandering to the people who think Bush made it happen or let it happen (MIHOP or LIHOP for those who swim the dark waters of Democratic Underground). He is pandering to those who believe Michael Moore's fallacies. His people think that security is an issue to be used to be divisive, to drive a wedge between the Kerry supporters and the Bush supporters. He should be embracing the findings of the report and telling his supporters - and his rival's supporters - what he will do to ensure that he follows up on those findings by making this country a more secure place. Here's a man who had as his security advisor a guy - Sandy Berger - who was, by the admission of his own friends and collages, a bumbling, error-prone, careless man. And obviously a man who didn't know much about the man who was advising him on security matters:
John Kerry to Tom Brokaw tonight: Brokaw: "Did you know that [Berger] was under investigation?" Kerry: "I didn't have a clue, not a clue." Brokaw: "He didn't share that with you? Kerry: "I didn't have a clue."Not very comforting. I am a security mom. It's a label I wear with pride. It's the reason I am voting the way I am in November. I don't think a man who is disappointed in the findings of a committee that says our president and our recent past president were doing all they could would make a good president. I don't think a man who knows so little about the people in his entourage would make a good president. And, if I can be frank here, I think John Kerry would be the worst thing to happen to national security since Jimmy Carter. Instead of pandering to me, to the people who are worried about the future of this nation, to the people who want protection and the people who want their safety concerns addressed, he panders to the far left liberals who think making up with France is a priority. I am a one issue voter this year. I find nothing wrong with that because it's an issue that directly relates to every single other issue. Without a good national security, without a strong president who will not cave in to terrorists, without a president who will stand down the antiquated machine of the UN, we will likely be looking at pictures just like this some day and asking why. [At this point in the rambling thought process, I have to leave for work. I probably did not tie all the above thoughts together and I will most likely have more to add to this later, though I'm sure some of you will not hesitate to point out any inconsistencies.]
I have this thing about lists. That's probably apparent by now. I notice that a lot of other bloggers have a list obsession as well and I'm thinking it's time to bring back the Lists of Five.
Now, before you go and say that I'm ripping off this guy, you should know that I started my Lists of Fives back in of 2001. And besides, my lists differ in that I request - no, demand - your involvement.
Wait. Hold the presses. I am going to hold off on my List of Fives tonight because I just now dug up something else that I used to play on the blog every once in a while. It's good to do something fun and meaningless once in a while, and Band Sausages always was a bit of both.
What's a band sausage, you ask? Well, I actuall had a page dedicated to band sausages, but if I link to it, you'll steal all the good ones.
The idea; To take as many bands as possible and squeeze their names together to form a new band. For example; Vanilla Ice Cube, using Vanilla Ice and Ice Cube. You need to use the full names of the bands and they need to blend together. Sometimes cheating is allowed if it makes for a good band name, like Godflesh Lives Underwater.
Other examples: Barry White Lion. Cheap Trick Daddy. Sly & the Family Stone Temple Pilots. You can even string three together: De La Soul II Soul Asylum. Or, if need be, you can be crafty: DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Artist Formerly Known as Prince. (Those were all taken from previous incarnations of the game on the various incarnations of this site).
So let's have a little non-partisan fun for a change. And hey, if no one wants to play I'll just go ahead and delete the post and pretend I never brought it up.
Iraqi security reportedly discovered three missiles carrying nuclear heads concealed in a concrete trench northwest of Baghdad, official sources said Wednesday. The official daily al-Sabah quoted the sources as saying the missiles were discovered in trenches near the city of Tikrit, the hometown of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "The three missiles were discovered by chance when the Iraqi security forces captured former Baath party official Khoder al-Douri who revealed during interrogation the location of the missiles saying they carried nuclear heads," the sources said. They pointed out that the missiles were actually discovered in the trenches lying under six meters of concrete and designed in a way to unable sophisticated sensors from discovering nuclear radiation.Put that together with this (New report to back up WMD claims) and things surely start to look different. Update: Reuters reports that Iraq's Interior Ministry calls the report "stupid." Update 2: As Allah says, things might be looking bleak for Josh Marshall. Update 3: Make no mistake that I [do not * see comments for editing reasons] view this only as an oppurtunity for gloating. If this report is indeed true, that means there are probably other nukes buried about the country and I'd hate to see them get in the wrong hands. Frankly, I'd feel a bit more comfortable if it wasn't true. * I cannot get that damn song out of my head today.
In 1988, the people of Burma revolted against the country's military rulers. It was one year prior to the widely-telecast Tiananmen Square uprising in neighboring China. Both uprisings were met with bloody crackdown by the respective regimes in Burma and China. *** In 1988, within minutes, Burmese security forces machine-gunned down over 300 peaceful protestors including students, school children, monks and other citizens in an Upper Burma city of Sagaing. Subsequently, the troops bulldozed the dead and the wounded from the streets of Sagaing, threw them onto army trucks and dumped them into the Irrawaddy or the Nile of Burma.And more:
Since its announcement of a 'roadmap' to democracy in August 2003, Burma's ruling military has been engaged in a nationwide crackdown on Burma's democrats. A new report by Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean) reveals that the crackdown includes: the sentencing to death of journalists, the shooting of political prisoners and the arrest, imprisonment and torture of pro-democracy activists.Not getting the point yet? Let's try Iran. bq. The Islamic republic regime executed publicly a third individual in less than two days. This new victim of the Mullahcracy's repressive policies was named "Moosa Noori" and was hanged in the central square of the western City of Dehloran. Here, try this photo on for size. There's a few more here. Are you someone who likes to protest? Try protesting in Cuba: bq. At the risk of being taken from their homes by force, at the risk of being brutally interrogated, at the risk of being encarcerated like their husbands and family members, twenty-two wives, mothers and sisters organized a protest in Cuba this past Father's Day. Yes, they risked their lives to protest. See, in some countries protests are illegal. In some countries, freedom does not exist. In some countries, dissent is really crushed, along with your hopes, spirit and probably a few limbs. In some countries, there are no inalienable rights. There is no freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to come and go as you please. In America, you have rights and freedoms and cry wolf as you may, you are not being oppressed. Go read about Sudan. Women are being raped, some many times a day. Rape is used as a political tool there, condoned by the government as a form of coercion. Thousands of children are starving to death every single day. A race is being ravaged. Now stand here and try to tell me that our government is oppressing you. Go ahead, try to tell me that they're shutting you up or keeping you down. Have they ever sent a group of men to your house to slaughter your children in front of you because you dared to speak out? No, they haven't. Go read about Iran. When was the last time you went to an anti-Bush protest and some of the protesters were rounded up and hung right in front of you? Go read about Burma. Have your protestations ever been met by a hail of machine gun bullets? No to all of the above. To you, a grave crime against humanity occurs when Whoopi Goldberg loses her Slimfast ads because the owners of the company decided that she no longer was a good representative of their product. She spoke out against the president, against his administration, made jokes about him and she lost an ad contract. She didn't lose her life. She isn't in jail. Her family hasn't been wiped out. Try some perspective. The Dixie Chicks dissented and made the cover of Entertainment Weekly the next month. That's America for you. Fascist land of dictatorship, oppression, stifling of dissent and a police state. Get some perspective, people. And stop taking your country for granted. I look forward to facing the protesters in front of Madison Square Garden next month at the RNC. It will be a wonderful reminder of how great our country is, and how free we are.
...a new contest will determine who has the best "guitar face" ... The 20-odd judges range from musicians to producers to rock photographers like Mark Weiss, who has captured everyone from Led Zeppelin to Aerosmith and Ozzy Osbourne in 25 years of taking pictures. Weiss is looking for someone who reminds him of Ted Nugent. "When he plays his notes, it's emulated in his face. He's all over the place. Look at his mouth and you can tell he's playing the guitar; you don't have to look at his hands."A couple of weeks ago, DJ withdrew his hard-earned money from the bank so he could purchase a new amp. When we got to the store, he immediately plugged in a guitar and started testing out the amps. Within five minutes, the staff was gathered around this eleven year old kid wailing away on Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride. When he noticed he was being watched, he went through a little montage of his repetoire, throwing in some Sabbath, Weezer, Dokken and Sum 41. At one point, the manager said "Check out his guitar face! He's doing the face!" And sure enough, DJ had that face on. You know the one where the guitarist looks as if he's built a stairway to heaven with his chords and he's about to experience complete fulfillment and enlightment, which often morphs into a half grimace/half sneer, giving way to furrowed brow and eyes clenched shut tight; an insane look if there ever was one. When DJ puts his guitar face on, I know he's about to tune out the world and become one with his guitar. I'll have to take some pictures of him playing tonight. And you've got to see this amp. It has an insane mode. Which, yes, drives me insane. But no more so than DJ when he's got his game face on.
The father of a young man gunned down in front of his college buddy's Lower East Side apartment nearly two years ago has launched a Web site and upped the reward for finding his son's killer. Burke O'Brien, 25, was shot through the heart in January 2003 after he and his friend Forrest Bloede returned to Bloede's Orchard Street apartment from a night on the town. The killer or killers are still at large. Frustrated by the lack of leads in the case, the O'Brien family has upped the reward to $50,000 and launched a Web site, www.burkeobrien.org. The slain man's story will also be the subject of an episode of the controversial all-access show "NYPD 24/7." It will air tomorrow night on ABC. O'Brien's father, Mark, says it will be tough to watch, but he hopes the show will be seen by someone who knows what happened. "I want them captured," O'Brien said. "The key is more public exposure."Please read the rest of the story. Link it on your blogs if you can. Give a link to the site Mark launched to help with the search for his son's killers. Watch the show tomorrow night. Perhaps if the word is spread, it will eventually reach somebody who knows something that will help the investigation. Mark feels more public exposure will help find the killers. Let's help him get that exposure. Our thoughts are with you and your family, Mark.
I'm not too thrilled about starting off a Monday morning blogging about abortion, but in light of some of the comments on this post, I think it's in order.
A few commenters took issue with the fact that people who define themselves as pro-choice were distressed over the story of Amy Richards, who underwent "selective reduction" to kill two of her unborn triplets as a matter of convenience.
Pro-choice does not necessarily mean pro-abortion. There are so many mitigating factors that lie within my stance on abortion that I honestly don't know what to call myself anymore.
The issue of abortion is something I've struggled with for a long time. I've gone back and forth, hanging out on both sides of the fence. Yet for all my fence jumping, I always end up back in the middle, still fighting myself to define my views either way.
On a personal level, I think abortion is a terrible thing and not something I would choose for myself. I think too many people use abortion as a form of after-the-fact birth control.
My views have been colored somewhat by my life. Perhaps one, back in high school, I had a hardline pro-choice stance. Women's body, etc., etc.
I had a friend who had two abortions before she graduated high school (we'll call her T.) When she called me from college to ask if I would drive her to have yet another abortion (and admitting that she had a third at the beginning of the semester, so this would make it her fourth), I lectured her on personal responsibility, hung up on her and never spoke to her again.
My hardline stance wavered. While I still thought women had a right to make choices about their own bodies, I wondered what kind of door that opened. When you end up with people like T., who had four abortions by the age of 19, that's not a door I would care to look into.
Then there was the issue of life. When does it begin? Conception? A certain date marker? When the brain was fully formed? At birth? No matter who you talked to, you would hear a different explanation.
At some point I thought, well why do I have to make a stance either way? I don't have to have a clearly defined stand on every issue.
In 1989, I became pregnant with my first child. I had problems during the first three months and it was touch and go for a bit. As I sat at home following every doctor's instruction carefully - feet up, plenty of rest, no heavy lifting - I thought of T. Here I was struggling to hold this baby inside me when T. willingly had four babies expelled from her.
Babies. There, I said it. I called my fetus a baby.
A few years later, I was pregnant again. I found out pretty early, just two weeks in. I took my maternity clothes out of the attic. I started eating healthier. Took my pre-natal vitamins. I thought about names and imagined what Nat would be like as an older sister.
Six weeks in I had a miscarriage. It was devastating. In my eyes, that bundle inside me was a baby. Not a fetus, not a thing. Yet the attitude of some of my family was astounding. It was only six weeks. It wasn't even a baby yet. It was just a thing. What are you so upset about, it was only blood and tissue? Even my then husband joined the chorus of people who thought I should just grin and bear it.
Again, my stand on abortion changed further. It was obvious that I could no longer distinguish between fetus and baby, which is pretty important to a pro-choice person.
So what was I? Damned if I know. Damned if I know now. But I know what I am not. I am not a person who believes that any abortion, any time should be legal. I do not believe in abortion as a means of birth control. I believe in personal responsibility and responsibility to the life you make.
Perhaps my ideals are also colored by the fact that I know so many people, my sister among them, who cannot have children of their own. I see a young girl walking into a clinic and it makes me want to cry. Why not have the baby and give it up for adoption? There are so many families out there who would take that beautiful baby from you. But who am I to tell this girl to go ahead and carry the baby around for nine months? Then again, perhaps she should have thought about that before having unprotected sex.
But I have issues that force me to fence sit. I think a 16 year old who was raped should be able to choose to not have the rapist's baby. And I readily admit that flies in the face of my "life begins at conception" idea that all fetuses are children. But I also can't imagine forcing a young girl to endure carrying around the baby of the man who violently forced himself on her for nine months and delivering that child to the world.
I believe that when a mother's health is in grave danger, she should be allowed to abort. I can't imagine that one would choose the life of an unborn baby over the life of a women with a family, maybe a husband and other kids who she would leave behind.
I think late trimester abortions are reprehensible. At some point, you have to acknowledge that there is a baby, not a fetus, living inside you. Moving hands and feet, strong heartbeat, maybe even a little thumb sucking. I can't understand how even the most strident pro-choice backers can't acknowledge that a fetus at that stage in the game is a viable, living, breathing person.
I contradict myself at every turn on this issue. I can't reconcile one thought with another. It's a very complicated, oft times confusing manner.
I know abortion would never be the right choice for me. I'm just not sure if I have the right to tell you what do if you are in a situation that calls for a choice.
As for the topic of last night, I call BS on those who think that just because someone is pro-choice, they have no right to be horrified at the choice Amy Richards made. While abortion is never a 100% good choice, I think there's a vast difference between, say, someone who didn't intend to get pregnant (think broken condom) and is agonizing over their decision and someone who willfully went off the pill and cavalierly discarded two of three babies when a multiple pregnancy ensued. It's her attitude that kills me. It's the fact that she sold this story to the New York Times and that the NYT saw it fit to print. Amy Richards is no different than my old friend T., who probably had a frequent visitor's discount card for the clinic. I find them both reprehensible for different, yet similar reasons.
And as for the people who think that I've had this attitude that abortion was just fine and dandy right up until I read the NYT article, you couldn't be more wrong. Just because you have clearly defined lines on an issue does not mean people who don't see those lines are engaging in some kind of false emotion for dancing between them.
I see that writing this out has not only not clarified the issue for me, but has further confused me.
I know there are many people who are sitting here in the middle with me, unsure of which side they fall on. Perhaps we are being dishonest by calling ourselves pro-choice, just as our detractors are being dishonest by calling us pro-death.
So if I'm not completely pro-choice, and I'm not entirely pro-life (which is also a dishonest term), then what am I? And why do I feel the need to define who or what I am on this issue?
Damned if I know.
[I'm going to take a risk here and leave comments open on this post. But be forewarned, if the comments derail into any kind of fire and brimstone finger pointing or righteous name calling I will close them. If you have something to add to the topic, that's great. Please do not preach. That goes for both sides of the fence.]
We've been quite busy around here, hence the light posting. Yesterday was a blur of garage sales (where Justin picked up a light box for ten dollars!), lawn care, plumbing problems, bulk shopping (no chicken broth this time), cell phone shopping for the kids, dinner, clean up and finally, a relaxing end to the day by falling asleep while playing my favorite 2D video game.
Today being Sunday and, ideally, a day of rest, I thought I'd get our day started right by getting bagels (to go with the five pounds of cream cheese we bought yesterday) and the newspaper. I opted for Newsday, knowing I'd just skip over the opinion pieces and go right to the Sunday comics.
Honestly, one of the reasons I bought the paper (which I very rarely do) is because I noticed a lot of hits the past few days - and quite a few emails regarding - this piece I did on newspaper comics last year.
You smell a repeat coming on, don't you? Well, you're right, but in a minute.
Some of the emails I got on the subject asked the same question: Do I still believe that newspaper comics suck?
Why, yes, I do.
The main problem with newspaper strips is that so many of them rely on jokes that have been told time and time again. Bigwig brough this up last month, specifically dealing with Andy Capp.
Below I posted the entry I wrote last November about comic strips. There's a few questions at the end for you.
[This is what's known as lazy Sunday blogging a/k/a Keep Away From Politics Sunday]
the demise of newspaper comics, or Dagwood beats the crap out of Billy
I haven't bought a newspaper since September of 2001, and then it was only to clip articles about someone I knew. I read the paper online now; I get all the news I need that way and I don't have to wade through ads or ridiculous filler articles about stars getting married/divorced/pregnant/arrested.
I had a method of reading the paper back when I actually had it (Newsday) delivered to my home. I would read the entire sports section, flip the paper over, skim through the news, head for the editorials and then sit back and relish the real treat. Ah, the comics section.
Remember when the comics section brought daily delights? At its heyday, you could get Calvin and Hobbes, Far Side and Bloom County in one sitting. Everything else was just extraneous. [note: I refuse to date myself here and write about anything else before then. I did that already, anyhow]
You really don't have to pick up a paper today to know what's happening on the comics page. In fact, I will boldly predict what today's full-paneled, full-colored strips will bring: Cathy goes on a diet! Garfield eats Lasagna! Jeffy says something precious! Dagwood makes a sandwich and/or takes a nap!
Where's the fresh jokes? Where is the satirical commentary on modern life? Is life in comic strips really that predictable? I long for the days of Spaceman Spiff, talking cows and my favorite penguin. Yes, I know the penguin is back. It's just not the same anymore.
I imagine a world where all current comic strip characters live. Their daily lives are much like the lives they play out in the newspaper each day. Here comes Billy, running zig-zag through the neighborhood just to fetch his dad the paper, which was right on his front step all along! Ah, but next door neighbor Dagwood has had quite enough of this nonsense and runs after Billy, knocks him down and beats him with a Subway 12 incher. Cathy comes running out of her house to see what's going on and as Dagwood is mercilessly rubbing Billy's face in the dirt, Cathy gives in to her cravings and eats the Subway sandwich that Dagwood dropped. Uh, oh! Here comes the mom from For Better or Worse And they would all be entertained with a fantastic donut eating contest between Garfield and Cathy, and later on Momma will find Cathy puking her guts out and she'll realize what the rest of the world figured out long ago; Cathy has an eating disorder, most likely brought on by stress from dealing with both her overbearing mother and her passive aggressive boyfriend.
Of course, if I drew that comic land one day, it would end badly. I suppose some giant, drooling alien who goes by the name of Calvin and looks somewhat like a dinosaur would eventually stomp through town, crushing every last cliched character to death. Free at last. Ding Dong, Ziggy and his animals are dead.
I long for the days when comics weren't so treacly and warm and fuzzy. I don't want to see Grandpa's spirit hanging over Jeffy's shoulder, making sure he doesn't get hurt. If I wanted something like that, I would just start a Precious Moments collection. I want to see more strips where moms tell their sons to go play chicken with a train. I want to see more surreal silliness.
One can only live so long on a steady diet of shopping and lasagna before they give up and close the paper. Sure, there are still a few comics I find interesting, but I can just click and read and not have to open the paper funny page to find Dick Tracy still staring up at me as if he was still relevant.
In my comic world, Dick Tracy would be retired by now, living in a one bedroom apartment where he spends his day cursing at Matlock on the television while resting another can of Miller Lite on his beer belly. Every once in a while, Brenda Starr would stop over for a visit, but things would always turn ugly when Dick reminds Brenda that she hasn't aged well at all.
Not many of them have aged well, actually. And the ones that did packed up and left the neighborhood a long time ago. Guess you gotta know when to fold 'em.
Do you read newspaper comic strips on a daily basis? Which ones are your favorites? Are there strips you just stopped reading because either the storyline was going nowhere or they became repetitive? Are newspaper strips a dying commodity?
Feel free to add whatever to the debate. Or nothing.
Sir Elton John, reflecting on the shortage of successful pop songs condemning the invasion of Iraq, tells Interview magazine: "There's an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious. They're all too scared… Things have changed. I don't know if there's been a time when the fear factor has played such an important role in America since McCarthyism in the 1950s as it does right now."Allow me. F911 Ignites Box Office Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1 Celebrities Lash Out Against Bush Coalition of Celebrities Against Bush Celebrities Work with MoveOn.org Russell Simmons Unites Anti-War Stars Celebrities Challenge Bush Howard Stern Lambasts Bush Morrisey Slams Bush American Stars Slam Bush My god, can you feel the chill wind of fear blowing? The crushing of dissent, the blacklisting of celebrities....it's so frightening! It's a police state, I tell you! Anti-Bush movie stars, directors, producers and musicians are cowering in fear! The silence is damning. Has no one a bad word to say about the president or is everyone being stifled? Elton, please spread the word quickly. But be careful, or the black helicopters will come for you! Don't forget your tin foil sunglasses!
This is how my morning writing goes: I have no idea what I'm going to write about until I check my mail, look at the news sites and take a short trip through my favorite blogs, starting with Lileks. Usually by that point, some idea has inched its way into my brain and the cogs, greased up by caffeine, slowly begin their turn. I fine tune the idea in the shower and by 6am or so, I'm ready to write.
Some days, like today, there's an idea that comes ahead of time. I knew when I went to bed last night that I was going to write something about New York City in August and how my mother calls me every day to beg me to change my mind about going to the convention. I don't know if she's worried about protesters or a terrorist attack, but I have a feeling it's a combination of both.
There were several links in my email this morning - plus some that were hanging around in my "blog this soon" checklist" that sort of changed the course of this morning's topic.
Is the deployment surge just an exercise?
Intelligence briefing on Al Qaeda threat
The coming strike on America
Al Qaeda has nukes inside the U.S.
(the last three from Allah)
Wild in the streets - and follow up
So a few of those links are suspect. But it's not like I wasn't thinking those things anyhow.
Let's face it, I'm a what my mother calls a Nervous Nelly. My nervousness has just been more pronounced since 9/11. I'm also - again, my mother's phrasing - a Worry Wart. So let's just say the above links don't make me feel any better about the near future.
Like Likeks, I have a bug-out box. It's not as comprehensive as his; it just contains some basic medical supplies, a small radio, a flashlight and batteries. If I actually put together a box of the things I need In Case of Emergency, it would be too big to lug around. I'm a pack rat, even when it comes to emergency supplies.
When I was a small child, I used to hide canned foods under my bed, just in case the Russians came or aliens landed. I'd at least be able to eat some cold beans and corn while I waited to die. Dying at the hands of the commies would certainly be better than starving to death, no?
Reading through the links about nukes, I realize the futility of packing emergency supplies. But what if it's not nukes, but some other nefarious scheme by terrorists? What if we all have to evacuate? Lileks is headed for Fargo. I'm headed for....death.
I live on an island. What was the first course of action when those planes hit the towers? They closed the bridges and tunnels. Nobody in, nobody out of New York City. I imagine they would do the same thing should another attack occur. There is nowhere for me to go, unless I buy a boat just In Case of Emergency. Then we can set sail for Connecticut or Jersey. Yea, that's where I want to die.
Oh, it's not just terrorism. There's meteor crashes, tidal waves, earthquakes and asteroids. All those things the typical suburbanite worries about. No? It's just us Nervous Nellies.
We're an odd bunch, we paranoid worriers. We have an innate Spidey sense. We're known to say things like something's not right, I can feel it in the air. But I wonder if 9/11 sharpened our Spidey sense or if it made it go haywire. Because it seems to go off a lot these days. I spend whole afternoons and long, sleepless nights trying to get my tingling nerves to calm down.
My mother calls last night.
Are you still going?
Yes mom. I'm going.
I wish you would just stay home.
I know. But when have I ever done anything you wanted me to?
She sighs. It's the same conversation we have every day.
There's going to be trouble there.
Well, that's part of the reason I'm going, mom. I want to cover whatever trouble breaks out.
You'll get hurt. You might get killed.
They're protesters, mom. Not terrorists.
Despite all my worrying about impending nuclear war, tsunamis, alien invasions, bloody riots, Armageddon and terrorism, I keep a certain phrase on repeat in my head: There's nothing I can do about it. I'm not Superman; I can't turn back a tidal wave with the flick of my wrist. I can't deflect a nuclear warhead into the far reaches of outer space. So I go about my life. I just tend to look over my shoulder a lot. I prepare in the small ways I can. Flashlights, batteries, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a few Xanax, for that In Case of Emergency, Pass Out and Sleep Through Armageddon way of dealing with things. Yea, I know that part isn't in the handbook, but I don't like the handbook.
I suppose there are a thousand handbooks out there, one for every type of paranoia. Some call for duct tape and plastic sheeting. Some call for you to make a cardboard sign, stand on the corner and tell people to repent. We each deal with the specter of the end in our own way.
Ready New York supplies their own list. They call it a Go Bag. I call it a False Hope bag. Where the thoughts of my paranoia lead, no one is going to need an ATM card or comfortable shoes. You'll either be annihilated in less time than it takes to notice the sudden flash in the sky, or you'll be throwing bricks through windows of liquor stores, as everyone takes my advice to welcome the age of no vegetation, poisoned waters and glow-in-the-dark skin in a drunken stupor. Sure, maybe you can plot the fastest route to an unaffected, rural community that was spared the reaches of the blast or the aliens or the earthquake, but I've got nowhere to go. The bridges and tunnels are closed and I never did buy that boat.
And this is why I'm not so worried about the activists, at least on a personal level. Whatever havoc they create, whatever mayhem ensues, I have the ability to stay away from it. I can choose to stay inside MSG and cover the more mundane aspects of the convention. I can watch the bloody festivities from Faith's apartment, where I'll be staying. There are things I actually can do something about, and this is one of them. You guys go ahead and have your fun. Throw your marbles, or whatever you anarchists are planning. You go right ahead and bait the police into turning the tear gas on you. I've made the decision to avoid you and your puppet shows. I've got better things to worry about then getting hit on the head with a brick meant for Starbucks.
There's freak weather, hijacked planes, invisible gasses, plagues, zombies and aliens who do not die when splashed with water do worry about. I've got cans of beans to stock up on and bug-out boxes to pack. I think you should drop what you're doing and follow me. This Jack Daniels ain't going to drink itself, you know.
Underneath this cool exterior, where I joke about zombies and tsunamis, lies a very troubled Nervous Nelly. But I can't do anything about those things that worry me most, so I just trust that the people who can do something about it do it to the best of their ability. That may not be enough, of course. Sometimes the unexpected happens. And then you just look to the sky and think about repenting. I'll be damned if I'm going to go out at the hands of some wannabe hippie who smashes my head instead of smashing the state. But if a chain of events should occur that has that scenario playing out, my last words will be, 1968. I told you so.
I guess I'll call my mother and tell her I promise to stay inside the whole time I'm there. She's one of those Nervous Nelly types.
And I totally forgot what the topic I wanted to write about was.
"It's a slap in the face, not personally for Hillary Clinton, but for every woman in the Democratic Party and every woman in America," said Judith Hope, a major party fund-raiser.Every woman in America. Every. I've just been slapped in the face! Ow, that hurt! I'm not quite sure why I should have to feel the righteous indignation of a thousand screeching Hillary fans, but that handprint on my cheek isn't fading and I suppose I better do something about it. FAD suggests running naked through the streets in protest. But in the "give an inch, they take a mile" spirit, I'm afraid to bare my ass, as they might slap that as well. Who knows, maybe they won't let Nancy Pelosi speak. Or Patty Murray. Then I'll be slapped all over again and sorry, my ass only gets slapped by certain people. So no naked protesting. Instead, I'm going to open my office window and scream as loud as I can "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Maybe it will catch on and before you know it, there will thousands, no millions of women opening up their windows and screaming in that shrill, high-decibel Hillary voice. It will be a movement. A call to action. We'll all put red marks on our faces and wear pins that say "When you slap Hillary, you slap me!" Errr...can someone else go ahead and get this started? I have to ummm....wash my hair. Go ahead, I'll catch up.
"If you go back and look at the historical record, like I did--newspaper accounts, police records, and also just things historians have written," says Lembcke, "you don't find any record or any evidence that these things happened--or even that they were being claimed as happening--in the late '60s and early '70s." There isn't even one letter written by a soldier at the time referencing such an incident.Forget the historians. Go find some actual vets and talk to them. Just because the incidents aren't embedded in media stone doesn't mean they didn't happen. But when it's convenient, people like Rall and Lembke will say, if the media didn't tell the tale, it's not true. And then turn around and say everything in the media is a lie. bq. Michael Moore's documentary film "Fahrenheit 9/11" reflects the left's internal contradiction about the military. First we see U.S. forces indiscriminately bombing Iraqi civilians, torturing and sexually harassing prisoners and terrorizing women and children in their homes. But the film's longest segment focuses on deaths and injuries suffered by those who, in Moore's words, "defend our freedom." Well, which is it? Are they torturers or footsoldiers of democracy? I wouldn't really call it an internal contradiction. I'd call it hypocrisy. These are the people who claim they support the troops by saying bring them home now, but that turn of phrase is just another in their long line of disingenuous taglines. They call our soldiers Rambos and compare them to cold-blooded killers. They don't care about the lives of the soldiers. They want them home because it would mean an end to Bush's Illegal War on Brown People. To pull the soldiers out and leave Iraq to fend for themselves when they are not ready to do that would be to turn Iraq over to all the terrorist factions that are hiding under the rocks there. The ensuing chaos and breakdown of whatever semblance of democracy has been instilled there would be a great big victory for the Ted Rall left. Anything that makes Bush, his administration or the war look like failure gets the V sign from them.
There was a time when service in U.S. military was honorable and professionally rewarding. But because of politicians who use the military to pump up corporate profits instead of defending us, that was a long time ago. Americans with personal integrity should boycott the volunteer military and discourage everyone they care about to do the same.That's the left in a nutshell. Their ideals come before anything else. Before your safety, the safety of anyone else in the world, before the security of this country. Personal integrity? Integrity is giving up a lucrative career and certain fame in order to go and serve your country. Lack of personal integrity is villifying a person who does just that. Ted Rall is the last person who should be talking about personal integrity. bq. "They come from parts of the country where jobs are hard to find," an acquaintance condescendingly excuses the enlistees. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I'd rather sleep under a bridge, eating trash out of a Dumpster, than murder human beings for Halliburton. Talk about myths. Ted still believes the one that says everyone in the military is comes from destitution and joined the armed forces as a way out of poverty. I'll tell you what happened to personal responsibility, Ted. It's right here. And here. And here. Sitting at a desk drawing crude cartoons and writing screeds against the military is not some great show of personal responsibility and it certainly doesn't take much integrity. There are people putting their lives on the line so others can live free, and Ted wants you to boycott them.
Until military service becomes less of a scam, no one should sign up. Those who have should not reenlist. Who will defend the United States if attrition shrinks the volunteer armed forces? If we're attacked by a foreign power, as we last were in 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Americans will line up to volunteer. World War II, won six decades ago by a storied generation of draftees and volunteers, was fought to defend American freedom. But we haven't fought an honorable war since.You heard the man. Nobody sign up. Don't reenlist. Rall, in what has to be the height of ignorance, thinks you should wait until we are attacked and then sign up. Don't worry about having people in place to defend us, to keep us secure, to be there the moment something happens. If we're attacked by a foreign power, as we last were in 1941 at Pearl Harbor So, is Rall saying that 9/11 never happened, or is that an innuendo that he thinks we attacked ourselves? Either way, that has to be the most powerfully corrupt thought Ted has come up with so far, and that's no small feat. This from a New Yorker who walked through the debris and saw the destruction up close. Pat Tillman lined up to volunteer after that. But according to Ted, the war in Afghanistan is a lie, a farce, so Tillman's show of integrity doesn't count. I don't know who Rall thinks we should have attacked after 9/11 but only a misguided, brainwashed fool would think that the events of that day did not constitute an act of war. Rall is also one of those selfish lefties who is happy enough with Americans having freedom and doesn't care about the people of other countries. He is also ignorant enough to not see that democracy for everyone is a safer world for all. Would he prefer to let al Qaeda live on? Would he prefer that the "insurgents" in Iraq be let alone to do their thing? Ted Rall wants you to boycott the military. He wants the rolls to diminish. He wants the enlisted numbers to wane. Only then will he be happy. Imagine if Ted's dream came true and no one re-enlisted and no one volunteered. Imagine then another large scale attack on our country. There would have to be a draft in order to shore up our defenses and then Ted would run to his computer and bang out a column about how evil the draft is. I envision a scenario that brings the war to our own soil. I see Ted Rall cowered under his desk as his fabled "insurgents" and Michael Moore's Minutemen are dropping bombs in Rall's backyard. And I imagine that if a U.S. soldier were to rescue Rall, he'd welcome that soldier with open arms. See, with people like Rall, their personal integrity only reaches so far. Soldiers - whom you should not support - are only poor, ignorant killers until you need one by your side. If we're attacked by a foreign power, as we last were in 1941 at Pearl Harbor A man who believes that believes in lies. It's no wonder he now subscribes to the myth that Vietnam veterans were never spit on or treated badly. And years from now, he'll claim that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were treated with respect, even though he - and everyone who subscribes to the Ted Rall Doctrine - is doing a great job of spitting on them himself. And this time it's being set down in stone. [cross posted at RedState.org]
MR. THOMAS: There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox. They're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them, collective glow, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points.The Mr. Thomas in question is Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek. (via DP and IP)
EXPERTS fear up to 15,000 stray dogs will be poisoned before next month's Athens Olympics so the city looks "pristine". Authorities in the Greek capital fear the sight of packs roaming the streets will damage the country's bid to show it is modern and civilised, the RSPCA said yesterday. Greek animal welfare groups say slaughter of the city's estimated 15,000 strays has started. Eighty dogs have been found dead in Saronida, a coastal resort where members of the British team are expected to stay. One animal welfare activist said: "There's been a big increase in poisonings and we expect it to rise sharply."You got that? Greece will be stray-dog free before the Olympics, even if they have to kill every last one of them! Nevermind about the blackouts, lack of security, half-built venues and such. Gotta keep those stray dogs away. And don't forget to round up the humans as well! Low expectations, indeed.
Folks, we need your help! It's as simple as that. We are having a problem with the first shipping company that we used. The problem comes in the form of deposits that we were required to put down on the 3 containers that we shipped. For each container, we placed a $10,000 deposit to guarantee its return. This deposit was placed with the shipping company in the US, Atlas Line. This is where the problem comes in. The containers arrived and the shipping company in Kuwait responsible for the containers safety never received their deposits. We were still able to ship the contents of the first container on to Baghdad, but the 2nd and 3rd have been held in Kuwait because of this. We have tried working with the shipping company in the US but to no avail. They are currently holding $30,000 of Operation Give's money and we need resolution. We have bank records showing our deposits and their acceptance and cashing of the checks. We have also contacted Bank of America, the bank we use, and they have traced the checks and confirm that they were deposited by the US shipping company, Atlas Line. We are asking for anyone who can help us, especially anyone in the Atlanta area where the company's US office is based. Following is the contact information: Atlas Line President: Alicia Ludwig Atlas Line (USA), Inc. 650 Atlanta South Parkway, Suite 500 Atlanta, GA 30349 Phone: 404-766-4676 Fax: 404-209-8493
The food pyramid has outlived its usefulness and the Department of Agriculture is looking to give it an extreme makeover.
I took care of it for them. Knowing that many people were offended by the image of the pyramid to begin with (it made some think of Egyptian slavery) and knowing that the pyramid has taken an image beating since the Pyramid schemes of the 80's, I did away with that shape all together and came up with a more appropriate form for my nutritional suggestions.
I present to you, The Food Pentagram.
If we're going to kill ourselves with obesity, we may as well enjoy the ride.
Brought to you by Satan's Minions, Souls of Gluttony Division.
Yesterday, I compared life to Watchmen, leading several people to email me the link to this New York Times article from yesterday that refers to Watchmen. Ah yes, another "are comic books books?" piece.
I can paraphrase the entire article in one short paragraph:
Hey, there are people writing novels and biographies using pictures as well as words. You should take them seriously, but I mean only take the real mainstream, famous ones seriously. Jimmy Corrigan, Maus, Ghost World, hey let's even throw in a mention of that ubiquitious pretentious guy, Dave Eggers. Oh, don't forget Harvey Pekar. And some girls are writing and drawing this stuff, too! Graphic novels aren't really comic books, they are novels with pictures, if you read the right stuff and by right stuff I mean the stuff by the guys who win literary prizes because to read anything else would be pedestrian.
Ok, so I took some liberties there. But I get tired of these articles that purport to present comic books and graphic novels as real reading material and then go on to list only the titles that a stuffy college professor would agree to let you do a paper on.
Here's what bugs me:
Comics are also enjoying a renaissance and a newfound respectability right now. In fact, the fastest-growing section of your local bookstore these days is apt to be the one devoted to comics and so-called graphic novels. It is the overcrowded space way in the back -- next to sci-fi probably, or between New Age and hobbies -- and unless your store is staffed by someone unusually devoted, this section is likely to be a mess. ''Peanuts'' anthologies, and fat, catalog-size collections of ''Garfield'' and ''Broom Hilda.'' Shelf loads of manga -- those Japanese comic books that feature slender, wide-eyed teenage girls who seem to have a special fondness for sailor suits. Superheroes, of course, still churned out in installments by the busy factories at Marvel and D.C.....
Ok, so comic books are getting more than two shelves in your local Borders. That much is true. Finding the graphic novel section in any chain book store used to be a combination of adventure and detective work. Ask an employee and they would say something like take a left turn at romance novels, go three rows down, turn right at the lawn care books, follow along the wall with the postcards and coffee mugs, look for a small mouse, follow him into the tiny hole and you'l see the graphic novel section behind the soda machine. Great. And then you get there and you'd find one tiny shelf with about ten titles, six of which were issued in 1982 and the other four on the lap of a drooling fanboy who won't budge for the next six hours.
Now the graphic novel sections are larger, but they look like they've been swallowed whole and spit out by Tokyo Pop. Gone are the fanboys, who probably found the local comic book store more to their liking. They've been replaced by giggling 14 year old girls flipping through the pages of the latest in wide-eyed-girls-save-the-world fiction (for the record, I prefer my wide-eyed girl manga from Dark Horse).
The graphic novels mentioned in the article are all certainly well done; I've read most of them. And this isn't to take anything away from Speigelman, of whom I am a big fan. But I think the author misses so much - in his effort to keep up with the required pretentiousness of a critic, he further marginalizes 90% of the already marginalized graphic novels out there by citing only what can be described as literary GNs. They are mostly navel gazing works of a personal nature, self-reflection titles meant to explore human nature. He misses the titles that the core comic fans read - 100 Bullets, Transmetropolitan, Preacher.
Sure, these are not graphic novels in the sense that Jimmy Corrigan is. They are (or were) ongoing series that are later bound in collected versions. But they are - or were during their lives - all novels in progress. By citing the GNs he did, McGrath misses out on the core of comics in general - the action, the grittiness, the bam! pow! wham! that is present even in non-superhero comics. McGrath is writing about stories that were put to pictures. Comics, at least from my end, is where writing and art flow seamlessly together. In a good comic story the art is part of the words; the words, part of the art.
I'll be honest. The part of the article that sent me into "must attack this author" mode was this:
One solution to the drudgery of cartooning is to get others to do it for you. Companies like Marvel and D.C. essentially produce comics on an assembly line: one person thinks up the story, someone else draws it, another inks it, yet another colors it and so on. Most graphic novelists tend to be dismissive of such products, but a couple of people have emerged from the factory system and attained something like auteur status -- as writers whose comics are worth paying attention to no matter who draws them. Neil Gaiman, creator of the enormously successful ''Sandman'' series, is one such figure.....
I'm sure the artists involved with Sandman would be ever so pleased to know that they are considered a "factory system" or assembly line artists. I don't think there has ever been or ever will be a series of comic books or graphic novels where the art is so intrinsic to the story, where the life of the comic is so intertwined with the visual.
Perhaps I just have something against high-minded critics. McGrath is trying hard to convince us that comics and graphic novels in particular are good reading for everyone, but by pointing his readers to the least comic-like GN's out there, he's doing a disservice to the genre he is purporting to support with this piece.
Comic books will always have an image problem. No matter how you dress them up, there will always be those who dismiss them as literary junk food for kids. Those people never look beyond Archie or a few Spiderman books. But it's also not doing the industry any good to have the graphic novel genre taken over by smarmy literary elitists like Dave Eggers or even mass-produced manga. I'd hate to see the day when the only titles on the GN shelf are either biographies done in colored panels or school girls run amok.
There's always your local comic shop if those two things aren't your cup of tea, but for the casual comic observer who might get hooked on comics after accidently finding the graphic novel section at Borders, the smaller his options are, the less likely he is to embrace the genre.
Which begs the questions: Is the problem of the graphic novel and comic book in general the history of the genre? Is it the presentation of the current generation or the the perception by non comic-readers that touching a comic will turn you into Comic Book Guy? Or are critics of the genre just a bunch of literary snobs that should be trundled up and put in a dark room and made to listen to Jason Mraz cds for hours on end?
(After writing this, I see that Alex Knapp covered this a bit more succinctly than I and says this about the article: Yeah, they give props to Alan Moore, but Moore's so good that even critics can't ignore him. Exactly.)
Links and further reading:
Welcome to RedState.org, a Republican community weblog. In little more than two years, we have seen blogs blossom into a public square for the open exchange of ideas and opinions. Blogs are already a revolutionizing force, changing the way opinion-makers interact with new ideas ... defining candidates and campaigns in a critical election year ... and planting the seeds of democracy around the world. RedState.org is focused on politics, and seeks the construction of a Republican majority in the United States. We hope to unite serious, innovative, and accomplished voices from government, politics, activism, civil society, and journalism to participate in this work.Most of you will recognize the names of the founders of Red State. Ben Domenech, Mike Krempasky and Tacitus have put this great site together. There's already a stellar list of contributors; I'll be joining them shortly. Go check it out and give it a plug on your own blog if you can.
I had another one of those dreams last night. The sky was on fire, the air filled with the sound of humanity exploding.
I've been having dreams like this - at least once a week - since childhood, so they aren't necessarily brought on by current news and events. However, they are certain aspects to each of the dreams that incorporate current stories. For instance, in last night's dream, I could see the world from high above. You know those Bugs Bunny cartoons where they show Bugs traveling across the United States by using dashes across a map? That's how the dream was, like I was looking down at a map, I could see different states and then countries just disappear into a whirlwind of dust and fire. Over in Europe, there was a wall that stretched from one end to the other. A high, stony wall that was covered with foliage in some place, not unlike the walls in this dream. A disembodied voice said to me, pointing at the wall, that side is for Jews, the other isn't.
So the first thing I see when I check the news this morning is an explosion in Tel Aviv. A bomb on a bus, of course. And then there's this lovely story (via LGF) about a young mother traveling with her baby in France and being attacked by anti-Semites.
I'm feeling discouraged today. Hell, I feel discouraged a lot these days, but today I'm really feeling it and I don't know if it's just residue from the dream or a general malaise that's starting to crawl its way through my mind and into my heart.
The whole world is making a giant sucking sound right now. From Sudan to Iran, from the Gaza Strip to France, from New York to California, it's flush city. You'd need a plunger the size of a small planet to stop this sucker from overflowing.
For some reason this all leads me to thinking about Alan Moore's Watchmen.
The world of Moore's classic comic in some ways mirrors the world of my dreams, which reflect our current world; dark, scary, poised on the brink of disaster. There's an inherent distrust at work when you read the series. A character like Ozymandias seems so underhanded, yet his ways prove to be the path to peace.
Watchmen is basically the story of superheros trying to save the world from itself. It begins like this:
"The streets are extended gutters, and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"… and I’ll look down, and whisper "no."
Are we worth saving at this point? If superheros existed, would they even bother at this point in history? And what would we expect of superheros if they were real?
In Watchmen, Rorschach says: Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.
Easier said than done. I think our basic instinct is to compromise. We have to dig a little deeper into our hearts and souls to stand as one with our ideals. Sometimes it seems easy, even safe, to compromise, but safe isn't always right and safe doesn't always bring about the ending you desire. You may find yourself one day struggling to survive in a post-armageddon world and wishing that we didn't take the easy way out, that we said no to compromise. Compromising smells like weakness to your enemies.
We can leave it to our modern day human superheros to stand fast and true for us, as they are our own Watchmen. But, as the saying goes, who watches the Watchmen? And who watches those who do the watching? It's like looking into a mirror image, seeing the same thing over and over for miles; a question repeated ad infinitum only spurring more questions - or the same question - never an answer.
At some point, there has to be a place where we stop asking and start trusting. There really are no superheros. There are just humans fitted in costumes that we made for them and sporting powers that we gave them. Even if we strip them of those costumes and powers, we owe it to the world to see that someone else wears them. Someone who, in the face of armageddon, will say no.
Because I know some of you will mention it. I have heard about the proposed Watchmen movie. According to IMDB, Darren Aranofsky is attached, as they say. Though the most recent report I can find seem to indicate it's going to be another one of those on-again/off-again projects.
Personally, I think it needs to be a cable mini-series, as trying to cram the whole thing into a movie wouldn't work, and picking and choosing what to leave in and what to leave out would just turn the movie into another comic-to-film crapfest. However, let me be the millionth to cast Bruce Campbell as The Comedian.
But the committee absolved the Bush administration of charges that it put pressure on analysts to reach pre-set conclusions. The bipartisan committee said it found no evidence that administration officials pressured agencies to change their judgments on Iraq weapons programs. "The committee did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities," it said. It specifically cleared Vice President Dick Cheney, a leading advocate of the war, of charges that he tried to bend the evidence to fit his agenda. "The committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments," the report said.Also, some very interesting observations on the Niger
Edwards said it was "a great honor" to be there and insisted, "This campaign will be a celebration of real American values." Kerry thanked all the performers for "an extraordinary evening," hailed the "great producers" - Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and Jann Wenner - and said "every performer tonight ... conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country."They're talking about a star-studded fundraiser in which celebrities took turns making jokes about Bush, some using vulgar sexual innuendos and most mocking the president. So that's the heart and soul of our country? Priveleged celebrities telling dirty jokes about the president? Real American values, guys. Judging from the several reports I read about this gala, it appeared to be a hate filled rally against Bush, rather than a rally for Kerry/Edwards. Postive message, my ass. When Howard Dean faced the same situation (a fundraiser in which hate-filled celebrities got out of hand), he quickly denounced the vitriol at his party. Kerry and Edwards embraced it. It was also pretty revealing that Kerry had time to attend to this fiesta of farce yesterday, considering he had no time for real senatorial business:
"It is a great example of John Kerry's priorities that on the day he said he did not have time to receive his intelligence briefing on threats to America, he found time to attend a Hollywood fund-raiser, filled with enough hate and vitriol to make Michael Moore blush," Schmidt said. Schmidt was referring to Kerry's interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" earlier Thursday in which Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had been offered a briefing from the Bush administration about new terror warnings, but told King, "I just haven't had time." Kerry then told King he would be briefed later this week.Forget terror threats. Kerry had to go get his hate on.
Wackiness: 20/100 Rationality: 32/100 Constructiveness: 14/100 Leadership: 26/100 You are an SEDF--Sober Emotional Destructive Follower. This makes you an evil genius. You are extremely focused and difficult to distract from your tasks. With luck, you have learned to channel your energies into improving your intellect, rather than destroying the weak and unsuspecting. Your friends may find you remote and a hard nut to crack. Few of your peers know you very well--even those you have known a long time--because you have expert control of the face you put forth to the world. You prefer to observe, calculate, discern and decide. Your decisions are final, and your desire to be right is impenetrable. You are not to be messed with. You may explode.Damn straight. T-90 seconds. via ms. locks
Without doubt, we have the right to bomb the living shit out of Iran. As has been the case for 10 years, though, we probably won't, because we have what seems increasingly-futile hope that the Iranian democracy movement can change the regime at some point, and we don't want to turn those pro-US reformers against us.That's a good point and one I take seriously. I really, sincerely have this hope that they can make a difference. And they don't want American intervention. They want American support. I don't know where the two situations can meet. Iran has proven itself to be our enemy. Yet, if we were to attack in retaliation for their acts of war, we would diminish all that the pro-democracy activists have done to help themselves. Can they actually succeed? I believe they can if give them strength by letting them know we are behind them, and by letting the mullahs know that we are out here, supporting the revolution. It's important for this story about the Iranians arrested in Iraq to get out there. The more people that know about it, the more people will get behind the student uprising. It's three days until the anniversary of the 18 Tir uprising. We need to give the Iranians our support. If there is any group of people living under an evil regime that can change their country from the inside out, the revolutionaries in Iran are it. Roger Simon, who has been diligent in his support of the Free Iran movement, will be on XTV today at 2pm EST (that's fifteen minutes from as I write) talking about the Iranian struggle for freedom. The XTV link has the info you need to listen to it live. Please support the Free Iran movement. I have more here and here about it. Pejman has more.
Time to Trade Up Saddam Hussein, influenced by fascism, ordered the deaths of tens of thousands of people, fought two disastrous wars, turned his nation into an international pariah and ruined his country's economy. In other words, his record is identical to George W. Bush's. As we saw at his "arraignment" before a U.S.-picked Iraqi puppet tribunal last week, however, there is a difference between the two men. Hussein is much smarter, funnier and more erudite than Bush. When Saddam pointed out that Bush was the real criminal, who could argue? He even managed to defend the invasion of Kuwait! So why not swap them out? We get Saddam Hussein as our president; the Iraqis get Bush. Consider the benefits: we get gargantuan statues and a leader capable of using language--think how fast he'll solve the Palestinian issue! and they get, well, the guy who's really in charge anyway.Ted's just reaching now. See, Michael Moore is stealing all of Ted's thunder. Rall used to be the "go to" guy for asinine quotes. With F911 all the rage now, poor Ted (who is miffed that Moore didn't invite him to the opening of the film) has been relegated to the back of the shelf. What else could explain this steaming pile of crap? Last I checked, Bush wasn't gassing his own people, building torture rooms in the White House, running unopposed, watching while henchmen decapitate people who oppose his views, stealing oil for food money or growing a silly mustache. Ted knows this. He's just going through a rough time right now. Moore has surpassed Rall in conspiracy theories and outright lies about the adminstration and he's making millions doing it to boot. Teddy boy is languishing in New York, still virtually uknown outside of political junkie circles, still churning out badly drawn cartoons that repeat the same stale punch lines over and over again and still making about one hundredth the money that Moore is making. Moore is the celebrity du jour now. He's practically spearheading Kerry's campaign by proxy. And Ted, well, he's just still Ted. This latest post is just Ted's way of trying to out-Moore Moore. I think we should feel bad about this. I was thinking we could all send him an e-card. In fact, I made one that you could just add your signature to. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I think Ted would really appreciate it. I definitely take him for a wallow-in-pity kind of guy. (More on this at Ted's full of crap) Happy Bunny is property of Jim Benton. You can purchase Happy Bunny products here.