February 25, 2008 archive

Wanna see Jon Stewart in NYC tomorrow?

I’ve got one more ticket to the Daily Show tomorrow — any takers?  

John and Elizabeth Edwards Co-Launch the Iraq/Recession Campaign

John and Elizabeth Edwards may not be on the 2008 presidential campaign anymore, but they are on a different campaign: making connections between the costs of the Iraq war and our weak economy.  

Elizabeth Edwards, who is good about making constructive criticism of the media, observed that reporters

“certainly don’t cover the connection between the issues,” she said the American people see there is “undoubtedly a connection between oil, the costs of transportation in this country, and this war.”

(source: Will Thomas, HuffPo)

Thus, a new cause to spotlight, and the Edwardses are back fighting for the American people.

More under the fold…

Four at Four

  1. Well this is a promising letter to the Washington Post by Jay Rockefeller, Patrick Leahy, Silvestre Reyes and John Conyers. In Scare Tactics and Our Surveillance Bill, the two senators and two congressmen write:

    While the four of us may have our differences on what language a final bill should contain, we agree on several points…

    If President Bush truly believed that the expiration of the Protect America Act caused a danger, he would not have refused our offer of an extension…

    So what’s behind the president’s “sky is falling” rhetoric?

    It is clear that he and his Republican allies, desperate to distract attention from the economy and other policy failures, are trying to use this issue to scare the American people into believing that congressional Democrats have left America vulnerable to terrorist attack.

    But if our nation were to suddenly become vulnerable, it would not be because we don’t have sufficient domestic surveillance powers. It would be because the Bush administration has done too little to defeat al-Qaeda, which has reconstituted itself in Pakistan and gained strength throughout the world. Many of our intelligence assets are being used to fight in Iraq instead of taking on Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization that attacked us on Sept. 11 and that wants to attack us again.

    The president may try to change the topic by talking about surveillance laws, but we aren’t buying it…

    Unfortunately it seems the four powerful chairmen are agreeing to disagree on telecom immunity for right now, but the pushing back on the Bush administration scaremongering.

  2. The Guardian reports Guantánamo guards suffer psychological trauma. “The guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp are the “overlooked victims” of America’s controversial detention facility in Cuba, according to a psychiatrist who has treated some of them. In some cases, a tour of duty at the camp has made guards suicidal and prompted a variety of psychiatric symptoms, from depression and insomnia to flashbacks. The guards’ testimony also provides a harrowing insight into the treatment of prisoners…”

  3. The Washington Post reports in A chance to be heard for Katrina evacuees that they’re eager to vote in the Texas primary. “For the nearly quarter-million people… who were evacuated to Texas after the hurricane and its floodwaters left New Orleans devastated in 2005, powerlessness has been a constant theme, exacerbated by their reliance on goodwill and the government for help in starting over again. Angry at the Bush administration for failing them both before and after Katrina, many view the March 4 Democratic presidential primary as a chance to exert some control over their futures… No one knows how many evacuees have registered to vote in Texas or how many will show up at the state’s odd mix of primary and caucuses next week, but in interviews across this sprawling city almost everyone indicated an enormous desire to participate — adding an unknown and potentially pivotal element in a race that polls show is deadlocked…”

  4. The housing market continues to fall. News today that existing house sales have now declined to a nine-year low. The AFP reports “The National Association of Realtors reported January US existing-home sales dropped 0.4 percent from December to an annualized sales pace of 4.89 million units, above the consensus economist forecast of 4.80 million… At the January sales pace, it would take 10.3 months to exhaust the supply of homes on the market, up from the 9.7 months supply in December… The median price of an existing home fell 4.6 percent from the year before to 201,100 dollars. That was the fourth-largest price drop on record, and the other three came in 2007.”

There’s a bonus story today about TPM.

Torture and “Inevitable Demoralization,” from 1902 to the Present

Paul Kramer at The New Yorker has written a fascinating look at the use of torture by U.S. troops in the Philippine-American War, 1899-1902. Back then, the U.S. was accused of using the infamous “water cure” upon Philippine “insurgents.” A then-atypical confession by pro-war Judge Wiliam Howard Taft, head of the pro-U.S. Philippine Commission, described the technique:

The cruelties that have been inflicted; that people have been shot when they ought not to have been; that there have been in individual instances of water cure, that torture which I believe involves pouring water down the throat so that the man swells and gets the impression that he is going to be suffocated and then tells what he knows, which was a frequent treatment under the Spaniards, I am told-all these things are true.

Kramer’s article describes the political maneuvering around the torture scandal of that time, in ways that are eerily similar to today’s debates. What’s different, of course, is that other, more psychological forms of torture have been added since those early days of American imperialist wars. (Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers died in the conflict, and total Philippine deaths, both military and civilian, are estimated to be between a quarter of a million to one million people. It’s worth noting that U.S. military activities against Philippine “insurgents” or “brigands” continued until at least 1913.)

Pony Party: Monday morning blahs

Howdy folks! Here’s a way to cheer you up if you’re suffering from the Monday morning blahs.  The French taunting provides some of the best insults of all time. Expect, of course, for cucumber jokes. Those are beyond the pale!

Pony Party, NFL Withdrawal

McCain’s matching funds problem: more than just the bank loan

I haven’t seen this discussed much, but there is something that Matt Browner Hamlin pointed out earlier today that brings John McCain’s use of the public financing provisions to a whole new level (at least it would seem that way).

You see, McCain didn’t just “sort of pledge” it as collateral for a bank loan.  He also used it to shortcut his way onto the Ohio ballot.  So, to me (and I am just a dumb blogger), it would seem that either he is locked into the public financing or he can be ineligible for the Ohio republican primary and taken off the ballot.  Now, since he pretty much has the nomination close to sewn up, it would seem to be smart politics to make himself ineligible for the Ohio primary.  But the bigger picture here is the shenanigans that McCain is going through with respect to the matching funds in order to give himself either an advantage or stay in the race, and he is using campaign finance laws – the same laws that he claims to champion – in order to do so.

So much for his credibility, integrity and reputation as a “reformer”.

Docudharma Times Monday February 25

This is an Open Thread:

I was wrong to think that you were right

But now I´m strong and now I´m ready to fight

Monday’s Headlines: Park Police Face Senior Staffing Shortages: Clinton searches for the best message against Obama: Israel steps up border security: Turks send more tanks into Iraq against PKK: How he was sentenced to die: British director defends Beijing Games film as ‘art’: Unity tops agenda as an easy-going communist takes the helm in Cyprus: Norway’s ‘Doomsday Vault’ holds seeds of survival: Raul Castro succeeds brother as Fidel’s legacy remains untainted: Colombia rebels get foothold in Venezuela: Africa can’t afford cost of conflicts: For Kenya’s Human Rights Chairman, an Environment of Fear

N.Y. Philharmonic arrives in North Korea

American cultural institution makes historic visit to secretive country

PYONGYANG, North Korea – The New York Philharmonic arrived in North Korea on Monday on a historic trip as the most prominent American cultural institution to visit the nuclear-armed country, run by a regime that keeps its impoverished people among the world’s most isolated.

North Korea made unprecedented accommodations for the orchestra, allowing a delegation of nearly 300 people, including musicians, staff and journalists to fly into Pyongyang on a chartered plane for 48 hours.

The Philharmonic’s concert Tuesday will be broadcast live on North Korea’s state-run TV and radio, unheard of in a country where all events are carefully choreographed to bolster the personality cult of leader Kim Jong Il.

Congressional races round 2: Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho

Here’s part five of the second round of congressional races.  Earlier parts are here

Georgia has 13 representatives: 7 Republicans and 6 Democrats

Filing deadline May 2, primary July 15

Note that GA districts changed in 2005 due to Republican redistricting.

Hawaii has 2 representatives, both Democrats

Filing deadline July 22, primary Sept 20

Idaho has 2 representatives, both Republicans

Filing deadline March 21, primary May 27

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

Sunday Night Scribblings: The Love Interest

As I write this…the Academy Awards is going on.

On stage, Harrison Ford is talking about imagination. And a former exotic dancer who wrote the script for Juno (Diablo Cody) has just won the Oscar for writing Juno.

And that totally rocks!!!

But also going on is my own writing and trying to figure out some of the stuff going on in my novel. The interview is still in progress between my protagonist and antagonist.

McBad Guy has just threatened the life and wellbeing on my protagonist’s aunt. I wasn’t sure  how she was going to react to this threat. So I tossed in something that Lee Abbot would call a tank that I’ll have to fix when I merge the interview in with the rest of the book. In other words, my protagonist is wearing a wire.

And on the other side of the wire are a pair of guys listening to the bad guy threaten to hurt my protagonist’s aunt if he does not get what he wants. She turns tables on him by letting him know that the threat, and its implied confession to kidnapping her aunt, has been overheard and caught on tape. Tape that will make its way to the police…thereby making his life that much more difficult.

One of the guys on the other end of that mike is a Mentor. The other? The Love Interest.

Medieval Persia

When last we looked in on the history of Iran, the dust of Battle of al-Quadissiyah was just settling, and Zoroastrian Persia had fallen under the dominion of the armies of Islam.  As she has done with every other of her would-be conquerors, however, the culture of the conquered soon became inexorably tied to that of the new overlords; from Persian minds sprang some of the greatest achievements of the Golden Age of Islam.  Even gold won’t glitter forever, though, and the forces of time and history exerted themselves on a succession of kingdoms and dynasties for several centuries before one proved strong enough to make the unification thing stick.

Join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, for a whirlwind tour of nearly 1000 years of Iranian history, from the Abbasids to the Safavids, by way of the Ziyarids, if you will – plus an important announcement (he said grandiosely) from your resident historiorantologist.      

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