The Year Anything Was Possible

by lestro

To me, 2008 was The Year Anything Was Possible. I remember the moment it dawned on me. I had been thinking it all year long, but at about 8:27 p.m. (pacific) or so Oct. 29, I realized without a doubt that in 2008 the rules were being re-written and Anything Really Was Possible.

It had been a year of Believing and Hoping and doing the math over and over, but that night, I knew.

By the end of 2007 it seemed as though there was real potential on so many fronts. And as 2008 dawned, the depression and gray cloud that had hung over the US since the USSC handed Bush the White House finally began to peel back.

The end was finally in sight. His time was over. There really was light at the end of this tunnel. We only had to make it through 12 more months, 12 months in which we would see his influence wane as the next presidency began to take shape right before our eyes. On January 1, that still seemed like either Hillary Clinton (most likely) or Rudy Giuliani (equally as likely, really).

But just three days later, the rest of the country caught up to what many of us saw: a new candidate, who not only talked about change but actually, himself, seemed to represent the very shift this country needed – away from the bickering, away from the personal politics, away from the Boomers.

When, on January 3, Barack Obama, a half-black intellectual with a funny name shocked just about every pundit in the country by thrashing both Hillary and John Edwards in the Iowa Caucuses, the buzz began to build: this guy is different.  This guy could actually do it. Was it really possible?

On the Republican side, John McCain, the one-time Maverick who stood up to the establishment in 2000 and gave George W. Bush all he could handle in the primary (before Bush’s people [allegedly] started planting ugly rumors in South Carolina about Mac’s adopted orphan daughter and knocked the real war hero and bipartisan right off the map) was lagging. But thanks to Rudy’s ridiculous and ultimately suicidal decision to entirely forgo the first two contests, there was no clear leader, allowing smiley unknown Arkansas Conservative Mike Huckabee to sneak in and eke out a victory amongst the corn. Anything was Possible.

A few days later, Hillary came roaring back in New Hampshire, a state that was leaning heavily in Obama’s favor until he picked up the victory in Iowa – Anything Was Possible – and Johnny Mac once again found his name at the top of the pile and the buzz began to once again build behind the former war hero who at one time spoke his mind but had since become a Bush apologist. After being all but left for the wolves in late 2007, Mac was once again the guy to beat, especially after Rudy – whose decision to skip NH and IA meant no one had heard a peep from him in the media for weeks – finally folded like an off-suit 7-2 after Florida. Anything was Possible.

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It is no longer illegal to be gay in America

by twit

via Slog, there is a flickr stream from the Courage Campaign, in protest of the attempts to nullify the marriages of thousands of gay and lesbian couples in California.  For example:

100_4241 by courage.campaign.

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Theme music for an asteroid impact

by twit

oh Discovery Channel, the things you say:

video via The Viral Video Chart

The Dogma of the Apocalyptic Kiwi

 by The Kiwi

As the reach and scope of the Apocalyptic Kiwi continues to grow, it is high time to further articulate the role of the Kiwi in the grand scheme of things.

To this end, a new page has been added detailing the Dogma of the Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi.

beginning

Hail Kiwi.

Sweet Caroline, are we really talking about qualifications?

by lestro

Ever since she let it be known that she wanted to be the next senator from the Great State of New York, the biggest question on pundit lips has been ‘Is Caroline Kennedy qualified to be Senator?’

Come on, really?

She even got the dreaded Palin Comparison when in the early stages of all of this, a handler “whisked her away” after a reporter asked why she though she was qualified.

Honestly, how qualified do you really have to be to be a senator? Their job is to talk to each other and try to find compromise.

How about, “I’m older than 30, have been a citizen for more than nine years and I live in the state I am looking to represent. Which, coincidentally, puts me ahead of the person I am looking to replace…”

Fuck, we elect athletes and actors to the senate. The whole point of our system is that anyone can do it.

And let’s not forget that Kennedy would be taking over for someone who also had absolutely no qualifications other than her last name and wasn’t even from the state, but went on to do a pretty good job as senator. Read more of this post

A Very Ramones Christmas

 by lestro

It’s a little late in the day, but it is still Christmas. And it’s not like there’s ever a bad time for the Ramones…

A Wish For Wings That Work

by lestro

Well, today is Christmas Eve.

Or, if you are a non-Christian, today is Wednesday.

Either way, I love the Christmas season.  I am non-religious, but love that all major and most minor religions celebrate some kind of holiday during this time. Solstice, Ramadan, Hanukkah and Christmas all roll into one big holiday season.

But I love the season. I love the vibe and I love the whole Peace On Earth Goodwill Toward Men thing. Which I think is great advice and a wonderful thought, no matter which god you believe in or don’t.

And I love the specials. The cartoons, movies and other holiday programming help give this whole season a festive feel. But because I am non-religious, I am more of a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” guy than a “Charlie Brown Christmas” type.  In the former, there’s no mention of why the Whos are celebrating, just that they are, whereas in Charlie Brown, Linus gives his Reason For the Season soliloquy straight out of Luke.

But my favorite Christmas special is “A Wish For Wings That Work,” starring Bill the Cat and Opus. Based around characters from Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County and Outland comics, the special was made in 1991 and ran that year and maybe the one after that before being yanked from the network holiday canon.

But that doesn’t stop me from taking the time to watch it every year.

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“Ho Ho Ho! Death to the surveillance state!”

by twit

The Associated Press reports on December 23, 2008:

A YouTube video posted Monday shows four people dressed as Kris Kringle, white beards and red hats included, covering three speed and red light enforcement cameras in Tempe.

and in related news, via Slashdot:

High school students in Maryland are using speed cameras to get back at their perceived enemies, and even teachers. The students duplicate the victim’s license plate on glossy paper using a laser printer, tape it over their own plate, then speed past a newly installed speed camera. The victim gets a $40 ticket in the mail days later, without any humans ever having been involved in the ticketing process.

Ho-Ho-Ho-Horrors!  State and local governments might actually have to provide adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity for a hearing!  Just like the 14th amendment says!

The New York Times gets punk’d

by twit

It has been quite a long week for the New York Times.

On December 19, 2008, The Nation takes a big swing at the New York Times coverage of the Georgia/Ossetia conflict, suggesting that “the Times engaged in the sort of media malpractice that it promised its readers wouldn’t happen again after its disastrous coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq War.”  Then, the Standards Editor for the New York Times responds with a “defense” that ultimately seems to support the point the Nation was making.

On December 21, 2008, the New York Times publishes the article “White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire,” which plays into the delusional meme of George W. Bush simply being a well-meant fool.  Overall, it was a long and dull piece that still manages to be a nice reminder about how lucky this country is that Bush didn’t get his way on Social Security privatization.

But then, the article gets some of the spice it was missing when White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a snarly response and stated, “We make no apology for understanding the concept of regulatory balance.”

Today, however, brings this tiding of good cheer:

The New York Times admitted Monday it published a fake letter purportedly from the mayor of Paris criticizing Caroline Kennedy’s Senate bid as “appalling” and “not very democratic.”

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Gay penguin celebrities and their kids

by twit

via Neatorama, the recently notorious gay penguins in China have turned out to be great parents:

A pair of gay penguins thrown out of their zoo colony for repeatedly stealing eggs have been given some of their own to look after following a protest by animal rights groups.

… ‘We decided to give them two eggs from another couple whose hatching ability had been poor and they’ve turned out to be the best parents in the whole zoo,’ said one of the keepers.

‘It’s very encouraging and if this works out well we will try to arrange for them to become real parents themselves with artificial insemination.’

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Dap for Santa

by twit

via Wonkette:

Merry Terrormorrisms!

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This is a cute hippo

by twit

via Wired:

especially when it is going to bed in its pink sleeping bag.

It is true that hippos are ferocious and dangerous creatures, but this hippo has never ever been aggressive! (says the journalist stuffing apple slices into the hippo’s “happy” grin as fast as she can…)

Barack Obama, the battered wife

by twit

Obama recently responded to the outrage over Rick Warren with the statement that “what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable.”   This reminds me of the millions of abused spouses and children who try to do this, with the hope that if they are just nicer to their abusive family member, maybe the abuse will stop.

This is why it hurts so badly for Obama to have chosen Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation.  We know it won’t stop the abuse.  We know that it will only empower and enable the abusers.

A commentary at CNN describes some of the positions held by Rick Warren:

He adamantly opposes a woman’s legal right to abortion and dismisses common-ground efforts to reduce the need for abortion by comparing them to accommodating the Holocaust. He is disrespectful of progressive people of faith, suggesting that they are tools of the Democratic Party or more Marxist than Christian.

… Warren, in an interview with Beliefnet.com, has since equated allowing loving same-sex couples to get married with redefining marriage to permit incest and pedophilia.

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while we are waiting…

by twit

The Blue Ribbon Glee Club performs “Waiting Room” by Fugazi:

circuitously via Your Daily Awesome

Well no wonder they’re throwing shoes

by lestro

While the Great Shoe-Throwing Incident of 2008 will undoubtedly be the only thing anyone is talking about today (that and the uncanny ability of the Buffalo Bills to almost literally throw away a game in the final minutes), there is another big Iraq story today, one that might even help explain what drove an Iraqi journalist to risk EVERYTHING to take a pot-shot at the President of the United States.

Today the New York Times details a 500+ page draft report of the “official history” of the Iraq war and the picture is not a pretty one.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

According to the Times (and I’ll trust them – the actual report is here, if you want to read it, but at 500 pages, I don’t see myself getting through it today…), the last five years have been an unmitigated failure of leadership.

In the preface, Mr. Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Mr. Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Mr. Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Let’s be clear here: No one is slagging the military.

The military mission of defeating and overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying the capital was a magnificent success. The military, with a few notable exceptions, have acted honoarbly and done their very best to complete the undefined, politically-motivaed and completely nebulous mission(s) handed down by the civilian leadership.

This is NOT a failure or defeat for the US Military. They did their part.

This is a political and diplomatic failure. Yet another example of how everything the Bush Administration touches seems to turn to shit.

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Iraq comes full circle

by lestro

I remember very well the excitement of the first few weeks of the Iraq war.

It was a crazy time, with news reporters “embedded” and reporting live from the backs of Humvees and Bradleys charging toward the capitol, where the Butcher of Baghdad and his elite republican guard awaited, possibly with their chemical weapons and definitely spoiling for a fight.

I remember shock and I remember awe.

and I will never forget the triumphant images of the American soldiers helping Iraqis pull down the statues of Saddam Hussein. It was a big moment, a triumph and, really, a good day for humanity.  Whether you supported the war or not, there was no way around the joy and excitement that seemed to be pouring out of the Iraqi people actually did, for one day, treat us as liberators.

Of all the images, one of the things I remember specifically was the Iraqis beating the statue of Hussein with their shoes. Men ran up to the statue from all around Baghdad, hopping as they approached the fallen icon and taking off their sandals to beat the visage of Hussein with their shoes.

I remember the anchors and correspondents telling us that this was very significant because in Iraq, hitting something with your shoe was a terrible insult.  It meant you were the lowest of the low,  beneath even the soles of their feet and a tremendous sign of disrespect.

In Iraq, apparently, hitting someone with your shoe is like spitting on them while flipping them off AND calling their dead mother a whore.

It’s nasty stuff.

As you have undoubtedly seen, Baghdad has come full circle. Today, the man who “liberated” Baghdad (and who also plunged its residents into more than five years of terror, warfare and death) visited his catastrophic blunder of a legacy for the last time as Commander-in-Chief.

This morning at a press conference, an Iraqi threw both of his shoes at our president, who had no problem avoiding both shoes, after spending the last eight years dodging questions, prosecutions and the U.S. Constitution.

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Iraqi journalist hurls “a farewell kiss” at George W. Bush

by twit

and Bush manages to duck both of them:

via Breitbart:

An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki’s private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

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An Important Relationship in Trouble

by the Squid

According to Sharon Rivkin, there are seven signs that a relationship is in trouble, and in reading it, I began to feel that I am in trouble with a very important relationship in my life: my relationship with New York State.

I was raised in upstate New York and so was my extended family.  A few of us have left the state to live, but we all came back.  Now, with the sagging economy, dysfunctional legislature, massive $12 billion dollar deficit, general low wages and industry leaving the state in droves, I have begun to seriously look at this relationship and I am beginning to think it is about over.

1) Fighting has become the rule rather than the exception

Who would have thought that once the bulldozer called Eliot Spitzer left office, soon followed by the tough Republican Joe Bruno, that New York state legislature would become MORE dysfunctional.  New York’s State Senators all seem to be petty, power-hungry egomaniacs who are looking to serve their own self-interests before those of the citizens of this state.

2) You find yourself looking outside the relationship for comfort, care and understanding

While New York was getting pounded with an ice storm, Charlotte, North Carolina, had temperatures in the 50′s.  Taking the Presidential election in context, North Carolina was in play for the Democrats because people are leaving NY and other Northeast states for the South with its low taxes, pleasant weather, low cost of living and perception of growth both in industry and social prosperity.

And if you look at the tax rates for other states, five have no taxes at all, while others allow personal exemptions or overall lower tax rates.

Why would someone want to stay in a place where jobs/companies are leaving, taxes are high, weather is fickle and people running the state are self-serving pariahs?

3) You can’t remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place

Much like point two;  I have forgotten why I came back to this state.

4) There is little intimacy in the relationship

As a resident, I believe New York has forgotten about me and the other upstate residents.  The top three leaders of the state are from one of the five boroughs or Long Island.  There has always been a downstate vs. upstate rivalry, but that was partially kept in check by the very powerful upstate Republican Joe Bruno.  Since his retirement, I believe the upstate voice has been diminished considerably.

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How to play music like a war crime

by twit

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine … protesting against Guantanamo Bay at the Reading festival. Photograph: Chiaki Nozu/Filmmagic.com/Getty Images  (The Guardian)

via Slashdot, from the AP:

At least Vance, who says he was jailed for reporting illegal arms sales, was used to rock music. For many detainees who grew up in Afghanistan – where music was prohibited under Taliban rule – interrogations by U.S. forces marked their first exposure to the pounding rhythms, played at top volume.

The experience was overwhelming for many. Binyam Mohammed, now a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, said men held with him at the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan wound up screaming and smashing their heads against walls, unable to endure more.

“There was loud music, (Eminem’s) ‘Slim Shady’ and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over,” he told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. “The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night for the months before I left. Plenty lost their minds.”

and that’s not all…

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“with friends like these, who the fuck needs COINTELPRO?”

by lestro

If I may quote Propagandhi, from the album “Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes.”

But, uh, what’s up with this shit?  Don’t we have better things to be spending our money on than spying on Quakers?

Maryland officials now concede that, based on information gathered by “Lucy” and others, state police wrongly listed at least 53 Americans as terrorists in a criminal intelligence database — and shared some information about them with half a dozen state and federal agencies, including the National Security Agency.

Among those labeled as terrorists: two Catholic nuns, a former Democratic congressional candidate, a lifelong pacifist and a registered lobbyist. One suspect’s file warned that she was “involved in puppet making and allows anarchists to utilize her property for meetings.”

Other groups they infiltrated include, and I am not kidding, a group of Quakers. Quakers!

The Quakers are a religious sect dedicated to the original, pacifist teachings of Jesus that you should love your enemy and if he slaps you on one cheek you should not respond, but simply turn the other cheek to him.

So what did they find?

They sent Lucy to join local activists at Takoma Park’s Electrik Maid, a funky community center popular with punk rockers and slam poets. Ten people attended the gathering, including a local representative from Amnesty International.

“The meeting was primarily concerned with getting people to put up fliers and getting information out to local businesses and churches about the upcoming events,” the undercover officer reported later. “No other pertinent intelligence information was obtained.”

That proved true for all 29 meetings, rallies and protests that Lucy ultimately attended. Most drew only a handful of people, and none involved illegal or disruptive actions.

Excellent work guys! I am beginning to understand why you can’t find Bin Laden: you’re spending your resources spying on pacifists and punk rockers instead of actual terrorists.  You must be so proud!

So what types of folks did they officially label as Terrorists?

Nancy Kricorian, 48, a novelist on the terrorist list, is coordinator for the New York City chapter of CodePink, an antiwar group. She serves as liaison with local police for group protests, and has never been arrested….

Josh Tulkin, 27, a registered lobbyist with the Virginia state Legislature, is cited under “terrorism — environmental extremists.” Tulkin was deputy director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an environmental group that claims 15,000 members and regularly meets with governors and members of Congress.

“If asking your elected officials a question about public policy is a crime, then I’m guilty,” he said.

For the record, it’s not.

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One free ticket to hell

by twit

if you believe in that kind of thing…

While there are many posts on the Fail Blog where innocent people do not get injured in hilarious ways, such as this Price Fail:

fail owned pwned pictures

then there is this Dance Fail:

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No, you cannot grope Hillary Clinton

by twit

even if she is a cardboard cut-out…


Incoming Obama administration director of speechwriting Jon Favreau (L) and a friend pose with a cardboard cutout of incoming Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a party.

(Obtained by The Washington Post)

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The fundamentalist difference

by lestro

What a lot of creationists don’t understand is that evolution is not a world view, but is instead simply an explanation, and one that changes when new evidence is discovered.

Unlike the world of creationists, in which an ideological world view is laid out and everything must conform to it.

For example, according to creationist reasoning, there is no special section in the Bible talking about dinosaurs, therefore dinosaurs and man must have existed at the same time, damn the fossil record, carbon dating and whatever other evidence that science might offer. Nevermind the obvious, that if they existed at the same time, you’d think it would be mentioned in the fucking Bible, as Bill Hicks said.

In a recent NYT article, this difference is again made clear as recent experiments have completely blown away a long-standing theory of what the beginnings of the planet looked like, forcing scientists to adapt their views based on the new evidence.

You’ll never see a fundie do that.

Analyses of crystals in rocks in Australia, left, have formed a new picture of the early Earth, depicted with young oceans in the painting at right. (Left, Bruce Watson; right, Don Dixon)

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Our faithful Bush Administration

by twit

is keeping us safe by declaring “mission accomplished,” while standing in front of a backdrop far more brutal than a Palin Thanksgiving special.

via the Associated Press world news Dec 4, 12:11 pm (ET):

AP IMPACT: Pakistan police losing terrorism fight
BADABER, Pakistan (AP) – Brothers Mushtaq and Ishaq Ali left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had – beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd. They went straight to the local Urdu-language newspaper to announce their resignation. They…

Rice satisfied with Pakistan’s anti-terror stance
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she is satisfied with Pakistan’s commitment with its readiness to pursue any lead in the attacks in India that have sharply raised tensions between the two nuclear powers. Pakistan’s young civilian government, she said…

just 47 “joyous” days left of the Bush Administration…

… according to the Daily Show on December 3, 2008.

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