December 4, 2008 archive

Poor Dumb Tommy.

So, in 1995, just out of college, when I was still an actor, I was cast in a production of a play called Spiele ’36 about the two Jewish runners kicked off the 1936 United States Olympic team by American Bund members at the behest of Adolph Hitler (he, Hitler, didn’t want Aryan athletes to be seen bested by those damn Hebrews).

The Jewish runners were replaced at the last minute by African American runners, specifically Jessie Owens, which is how he, Owens, won his fourth gold medal.

But that’s all background to this tale.

The play was a co-production between George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, and in the George Mason production one of the Caucasian members of the team was played by an actor who got the unfortunate but utterly appropriate nickname “Poor Dumb Joey”.

Joey was a tad pathetic, not overly bright, but was hopelessly looking, so I’m sure he’s done fine in life.

But Joey, too, is basically irrelevant to this saga.

The guy who gets the title of this diary was the actor who took Joey’s role in the Chicago production. His name was Tom and he got automatically saddled with “Poor Dumb Tommy”… well… because that’s sort of thing just happens in the theater. Wrong place, wrong time.

Four at Four

  1. The Dallas Morning News reports the Bushes confirm purchase of Dallas home in Preston Hollow. The White House confirmed the Bushes will be moving to Dallas and keeping the former pig farm in Crawford as a prop when W wants to clear some brush.

    Bush’s “accountant in Midland, Robert McCleskey, purchased the house at 10141 Daria Place as a trustee on Oct. 3, according to records on file with the Dallas Central Appraisal District, which values the home at $2,078,660.”

    The new Bush House was built in 1959 and has 8,501 square feet of living space, including 896 sq ft of “servants quarters”. The house sits on 1.13 acres and has 4 bedrooms, 4½ baths, and most importantly for W — a wet bar.

    The Bushes are rumored to have purchased the property next door, which was listed at $1.6 million, as well.

Four at Four continues with prorogue in Canada, the Arctic’s tipping point, and solar power.

Open Thread


It’s late.  Do you know where your thread is?

Stiglitz, Galbraith, and McCain Advisor Call for $1 Trillion Stimulus

This is interesting.  Obama has not put a number on the stimulus package he will propose, but many reports put it between $500 Billion and $700 Billion for two years.  That is, maybe $350 B per year.

Now along comes a Nobel Prize winning economist who served in the Clinton administration and a Harvard economist who advised McCain, and both advise Obama to go big, REAL BIG:

Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University professor who was an adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain, and Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner who served in President Bill Clinton’s White House, are among those who say President- elect Barack Obama should push for a package of that size.

They need a stimulus of $500-to-$600 billion a year for at least two years to counter what is going to be a collapse in consumption,” said Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

Calls for $1 Trillion Stimulus Package Grow as Economy Tumbles

More, after the fold.

(also on Daily Kos)…

Citizens Petition: Should We Ask For a Special Prosecutor?

For anyone who hasn’t been around for a couple of days, we are discussing and trying to create a petition drive in the continuing quest for justice (or as close as we can get) for the crimes of Bushco.

Of course we want this effort to be as wide spread and effective as possible, so spending a few days developing it seems like a good idea. Some folks have helped work on the language, others have offered lists of suggestions on who to contact, and sharon/conchita has put me in touch with Bob Fertik over at (please click through and sign their petition re Nadler’s resolution to prevent pardons) and he has expressed support and willingness to work together. And many folks made the completely correct point that we need to tighten it up and make it more succinct. NL has proposed a general(?) meme of “Are we going to let them get away with it?” Good stuff!

In a comment though, Bruce brought up something that I think is very important, the concept of asking for a Special/Independent Prosecutor. So today’s question is….should we make the focus of the petition a request for a Special/Independent Prosecutor? Or keep it as a more general plea for action? This starts to get us into more specific options. Do we want to present such options in the petition? Should we include a paragraph suggesting options such as an investigatory Congressional Commission, (such as was used in Watergate) a prosecutor, (Patrick Fitzgerald?) or perhaps even the idea of a Truth Commission? Or make it more of a personal, general plea/demand to the new AG without suggesting these options?

And of course, what other suggestions and input have y’all come up with? Tomorrow I will try to pull all of this info together and publish a sort of State of the Petition statement that we can then start spreading around to the wider net for input.

Below the fold is the current draft. Please have at it with more suggestions and please feel free to do your own rewrite and publish it in a comment or as an essay. I am NOT at the peak of my game right now, so please jump in and take up my considerable slack!

Help Me Fight the War on the War on Christmas!

I feel kinda sorry for Bill O’Reilly whenever Christmas rolls around.  Each year he bravely wages the War on the War on Christmas while the rest of America goes shoppin’ there in the malls, sayin’ “Happy Holidays!” to each other like a bunch of socialists.  The baby Jesus wasn’t born on a happy holiday, people!  He was born on Christmas!  Well, probably not, actually:

The Bible itself tells us that December 25 is an unlikely date for His birth. Palestine is very cold in December. It was much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. Also the shepherds were in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter time. They are in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus’ birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.

OK, so Jesus might have been born on Oktoberfest.  Maybe that’s why the Germans drink so much.  They’re celebratin’ the joyous birth of Our Lord the way God intended — NOT by puttin’ stupid decorations on a tree and bakin’ cookies!  

Extremists! The Pot still calling the Kettle Black.



Breakaway members!  Rivals!  Outraged worshipers!  Secessionists!  Splinter Groups!  

OMFG, not another radical Extremist Muslim terrorist group in our midst?  Or, could it be that the Sharks and Jets are rumbling again?  

Please, tell me NO!!!

OK.  No.  

Just another day in the lives of “conservative” Christian evangelical worshipers here in the USA.

Prior to reading the following, please remember that Jesus taught that love, caring for your fellow man and understanding were the backbone of Christianity.  Not all Christians are listening to these teachings.  I guess they think that they know better?

“Invisible Wounds” a Documentary and Michelle Obama

Yesterday as I was searching out a few things I came across a recent documentary that was up on the UPI site in three parts, not long but another real good look at a subject many of us, especially Veterans, have been fighting a long battle to get into the public conscious, and stuck there once in, with the realization of the hidden damages, wounds, that Wars cause to those that are sent to occupy and the occupied.

Surveying The Landscape: Obama A Center-Right Pragmatic? Or Progressive?

Who is this guy? What is this guy?

I have long argued and have written much the past few days in particular that Obama’s past statements and actions, especially as indicated by his latest picks for a foreign policy team, show him to be a center-right imperialist/empire-ist who will simply do the bidding of, or at least be heavily constrained by, a combination of oil companies, corporate oligarchy and foreign policy establishment.

That he will be exactly that, at least when it comes to foreign policy, “war on terror” memes, and the likelihood of him continuing the imperialist policies of the past six or more decades that are creating the very terrorism that the “war on terror” started by George Bush so misguidedly and murderously has done.

Have progressives been suckered into supporting a President who will really govern from the ‘center-right’, and who is an imperialist hawk in sheeps clothing? A very good salesman, in other words, who has been very successful at coopting and defanging progressives and the antiwar movement?

I’m far from alone in my thinking about this. But hang in here for a bit. There’s an opposing viewpoint coming, further down.

As far back as July 2007 Ira Chernus, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of Monsters To Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin wrote, in an article published at Tom Engelhardt’s TomDispatch: Democratic Doublespeak on Iraq:

   …what does it mean to “leave Iraq”? Here’s where most of the Democratic candidates come smack up against that hard place. There is a longstanding bipartisan consensus in the foreign-policy establishment that the US must control every strategically valuable region of the world — and none more so than the oil heartlands of the planet. That’s been a hard-and-fast rule of the elite for some six decades now. No matter how hard the task may be, they demand that presidents be rock-hard enough to get the job done.

   So whatever “leave Iraq” might mean, no candidate of either party likely to enter the White House on January 20, 2009 can think it means letting Iraqis determine their own national policies or fate.


   So the Democratic front-runners must promise voters that they will end the war — with not too many ideologically laden ifs, ands, or buts — while they assure the foreign-policy establishment that they will never abandon the drive for hegemony in the Middle East (or anywhere else). In other words, the candidates have to be able to talk out of both sides of their mouths at the same time.

Docudharma Times Thursday December 4

Bush Looks For A Legacy

Looks Under A Rock And In A Cave Finds Nothing  

Thursday’s Headlines:

Insurers propose universal, centralized healthcare

Neo-cons still preparing for Iran attack

Iraqi guards open fire as migrants riot about deportation

Pakistan snubs India over terrorist ‘suspects’

Bombs found at station that was given all-clear

Zimbabwe moves to tackle cash shortage as soldiers riot

Zimbabwe makes desperate plea for international help over cholera epidemic

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg opposes euthanasia and loses power

OSCE Meets to Discuss Caucasus Crisis and the Region’s Future

Schools become latest targets in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez

Treasury Weighs Action on Mortgage Rates

Intervention Would Aim to Buoy the Housing Market by Forcing Down the Cost of Loans

By David Cho, Zachary A. Goldfarb and Dina ElBoghdady

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, December 4, 2008; Page A01

The Treasury Department is strongly considering a plan to intervene directly in the mortgage industry to dramatically force down rates and stimulate the moribund housing market, according to sources familiar with the proposal.

Under the initiative, the Treasury would offer to buy securities that finance newly issued loans for home purchases, according to the sources. But to participate in the government’s program, mortgage lenders would have to set exceptionally low interest rates, for instance, no more than 4.5 percent for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate loans.

A toxic legacy

One of the first problems Barack Obama will have to address when he takes office is Guantánamo. What fate awaits its inmates – and how disastrous are the long-term effects of its very existence, asks Julian Borger

The Guardian, Thursday December 4 2008

Ever since January 11 2002, when the first 20 prisoners were flown in from Afghanistan in orange jumpsuits and shackles, the Guantánamo Bay detention camp has been a hefty burden around the Bush administration’s neck.

The defence secretary at the time, Donald Rumsfeld, picked the Cuban enclave as the “least worst place” to hold captives accused of terrorism. But the effort to run a camp outside the reach of US or international law, so that “enemy combatants” could be held indefinitely without charge, steadily corroded America’s standing in the world. The images of the inmates languishing in small metal cages in Camp X-Ray, the rudimentary first phase of the complex, and the steady stream of reports of human rights abuses, have taken a daily toll. The camp’s existence has angered and embarrassed Washington’s closest allies, and become a recruitment tool for its enemies.



U.A.W. Makes Concessions in Bid to Help Automakers


Published: December 3, 2008

WASHINGTON – The United Automobile Workers union said Wednesday that it would make major concessions in its contracts with the three Detroit auto companies to help them lobby Congress for $34 billion in federal aid.

The surprising move by the U.A.W. could be a critical factor in the automakers’ bid not only to get government assistance, but also to become competitive with the cost structure of nonunion plants operated by foreign automakers in the United States.

At a news conference in Detroit, the U.A.W.’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, said that his members were willing to sacrifice job security provisions and financing for retiree health care to keep the two most troubled car companies of the Big Three, General Motors and Chrysler, out of bankruptcy.

Losing Odetta (And Miriam Makeba)

Damn! Odetta’s gone. And only three weeks before her, Miriam Makeba.

Two strong Black women, each an inherent part of the tide of liberation that swept Africa and America in the 1960s. More than that, each a gravitational force in her own right, helping pull that tide higher and further. It is hard for those not around in those long gone days to understand how much it meant to have Black women in the public eye standing up for themselves–simply by doing that, they were standing up for all Black women, and for a better world.

And neither stopped there. Both were actively political, in the best sense of the word. They lent their voices to the Black freedom struggle in the US and to the battle to smash apartheid and settler rule in South Africa. They sang songs of the oppressed and they sang songs of freedom.

And they did it for their whole lives, their whole lives. The threat they posed to the high and mighty meant they had to face redbaiting, blacklisting and exile. It never stopped them.

Nor did age. When Miriam Makeba suffered her fatal heart attack last month, she was on stage, performing in Italy at a benefit to support anti-mob journalist Roberto Saviano! Odetta’s last big concert, sung from a wheelchair, was at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in the Bay Area in October.

There’s plenty of Odetta and plenty of Miriam Makeba available at YouTube, to help you meet or remember these two remarkable women. I have chosen to close with another video, a trance-y instrumental by a new Cali duo, sonic manipulators Rabid Kangaroo. They first saw her, I understand, at that Bay Area festival and were inspired to compose this and crank out the video in three weeks.

Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion XIX

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

–Katharine Lee Bates


It’s a great song.   But times have changed…

America the Ugly

America, America

We’ve sung this song for you

America, America

We’ve forgotten if it’s true

Spacious Skies

Sky Eye

Spacious skies

once so beautiful

now soot-stained

filled with fumes

molecular soup

brewed in a cauldron

too globally warm

chemical change

America, Amerika

a nation turns its

reddened eyes from you

Tears flow

from those eyes

as air once clean

becomes clean only

by act of a government

that has lost the meaning

of words bathed

in the acid of corruption

so that the nation

loses its purpose

and our way

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 22, 2006

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