In Liberty We Trust

by joshua

In slow motion, and with annotation explaining what is happening, the video seems to show a high-ranking member of the New York Police Department spraying a substance — the video says it is Mace or pepper spray — toward several women who were standing behind a wall of orange netting. After the spraying, one woman can be seen dropping to the ground, screaming in apparent pain.

Video appears to show Wall Street protesters being pepper sprayed.

Red dawn feminism

by twit

Lunchbreath.

image via The Daily What

We’ve come a long, long way.

There’s so much more work to do, but I’m not sure that it is appropriate to continue to fly the feminist banner when doing it.

Since history tends to like dates and such, I’ll be so bold as to say that the day American feminism died was when Cosmo laid claim to the third wave.

When a radical movement goes that mainstream, I think that’s as good a sign as any that the tide has turned.

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the internets at work

by twit

In Zimbabwe, most people cannot afford to buy a newspaper because of the hyperinflation and most people cannot afford an independent newspaper because of the “luxury tax” on the sale of imported newspapers, including The Zimbabwean, which is printed in South Africa for distribution in Zimbabwe.

according to the internets, this flickr stream is a response, and it includes at least one billboard

update:  from The Zimbabwean on March 31, 2009:

To call attention to thew deplorable situation in Zimbabwe, TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS collected trillions of dollars worth of worthless Zimbabwe currency to create billboards, flyers and wallpaper. The purpose of the campaign is to support The Zimbabwean newspaper which has been slapped by the Mugabe regime with a 55% luxury duty tax making the paper unaffordable to most citizens.

The campaign is running in England and South Africa where it is hoped people will buy the newspaper to support its ongoing coverage of the country’s plight.

and TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS is an ad agency

Hey Paul Krugman, where the hell are you man?

by twit

Krugman recently wrote for the New York Times that “the zombie ideas have won,” which is unsettling, to say the least, considering he is talking about the Obama Administration’s plan to stabilize our economy.

Which brings us to the delightful way that our internets can manage to push the issue:

currently at #16 on the viral video chart

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because they’ve done such a good job

by twit

and they are “worried that the proposals distracting employees

Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., recipients of more than $100 billion in U.S. rescue funds, criticized congressional proposals to tax Wall Street bonuses.

Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis called the tax “unfair” in a memo to employees today, while Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit said his bank is “working in every appropriate way with policymakers.” JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon held a conference call with about 200 executives, saying the firm is concerned about retention and is working with lawmakers.

what are they going to do, move to a private island somewhere and live in a rich-people-only colony?

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Self-inflicted ‘union busting’

by lestro

It seems the Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Media and the new V Airlines, has no problem saying what no Boeing worker would dare even think:

“The strike hurt hundreds of thousands of our passengers,” Branson told reporters. “It messed up Virgin Atlantic, it messed up Virgin Blue in Australia, it ruined people’s Christmas holidays. It was absolutely and utterly ghastly.”

He continued, “If union leaders and management can’t get their act together to avoid strikes, we’re not going to come back here again. We’re already thinking, ‘Would we ever risk putting another order with Boeing?’ It’s that serious.”

Nice job Unions! Thanks to you, Boeing’s chief rival was able to play some catch-up and Boeing has already this year announced thousands of job cuts, partially to make up for revenue lost during the 57-day strike, which began on Sept. 3, right about the time the economy was circling the bowl and just a few weeks before it totally tanked, taking over every news cycle and the presidential campaign.

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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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“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!

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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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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truth, justice and punk fucking rock

by lestro

Punk rock is the true American art form.

In its purest forms, punk rock is simply a rage of personal freedom and anti-authority that is at the very heart of the American idea. That simple reflex – “fuck you, I don’t have to do what you say” – is what not only founded the nation, but continues to permeate every aspect of American life.

That challenge, that question, that pushback against being told what to do and how to live, it IS the American experience.

Every culture that comes into the melting pot comes here for the same reason: the simple freedom to question.

And no matter what, through even the tightest of home cultures, America – the idea of America – persists and infects.

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a definition of an “Eisenstadt”

by twit

Specifically, when you make things up out of thin air, and it turns out to be true… see what you want to see…

For example, the idea that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent:

was a hoax apparently true based in some reality, but smeared with an Eisenstadt.  According to the New York Times on November 13, 2008:

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

What is so funny is that before the rumor was exposed as a hoax, Palin’s campaign staff confirmed that it was true there was a basis for the rumor.  ABC News reports on November 14, 2008:

Longtime Palin staffer Meg Stapleton told ABC News’ Kate Snow that Palin had fumbled over an Africa comment, but that it was a misspeak not worthy of the press coverage it received.

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I have a new proposition: Ban Mormonism

by lestro

It’s been said again and again over the past few weeks, but the passage of Proposition 8 in California was a tremendous blight on the victory of a new, progressive coalition on the national stage.

This year, despite the tremendous Blue Wave that swept the nation, somehow voters in California, traditionally the most liberal state in the Union, passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, as ridiculous as that seems for a state that went to the Dems with a 60.9% – 37.3% margin.

On Saturday, all across the country, protesters gathered in support of gay rights.

“People around the country were watching this very closely,” said Kellan Baker, a Washington, D.C., resident who is organizing today’s protest there. “For Californians to go to the ballot box to strip people of civil rights they had been enjoying is, I guess, the last straw.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “San Francisco city officials, joined by the city of Los Angeles and Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties, have petitioned the [state Supreme] court” to again declare the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.  The LA Times reports that legal challenges include those brought by “groups including the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund” which “brings to four the number of lawsuits asking the court to overturn Proposition 8.”

The California Supreme court has overturned a gay marriage ban once before, earlier this year, setting off an economic boom and a legal recognition that in the government’s eyes, marriage is simply a legal contract between two consenting adults.

And a constitutionally protected right, something the California State Constitution vows to protect right off the top in its Declaration of Rights:

SECTION 1. All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.

That’s Article I, Section 1.

“pursuing happiness and privacy.” That’s nice.  I read on, but nowhere did I find,  “unless you like the cock.”

and don’t think I didn’t look…

But Prop 8 is an amendment to the constitution, codifying the idea that marriage is only legal between a man and a woman. It is the first time I can recall that we have ever voted in this country to remove a right, to eliminate one of the very things we create governments to protect.

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The Kiwi wishes to apply

by The Kiwi

So a park in Utah has a Ten Commandments display, but is refusing a monument to the Seven Aphorisms of the Summum religion (founded 1975).

The Summums are taking it to the Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments today.

The justices will consider whether a public park open to some donations must accept others as well. In cases involving speeches and leaflets, the courts have generally said that public parks are public forums where the government cannot discriminate among speakers on the basis of what they propose to say. The question of how donated objects should be treated is, however, an open one.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a religious issue without hypocrisy and irony (aside from the idea that the Summum believe the Aphorisms were on the first set of tablets the lord gave to Moses, though he destroyed them because the people could not handle the rules of creation…):

The Ten Commandments monument here stands in Pioneer Park, which pays tribute to the city’s frontier heritage, one that is mostly Mormon. The two sides differ about how best to honor that heritage.

Mayor Daniels said the monument broadly reflected local history. Mr. Barnard, the Summum lawyer, said the Ten Commandments did not play a central role in the Mormon faith. “If they wanted to quote from the Book of Mormon,” he said, “that would, at least, relate to the pioneers.”

“Mormons came to Utah because of religious persecution,” Mr. Barnard added. “The pioneer heritage in Utah has to be escape from persecution.

And for the record, the Seven Aphorisms actually make much more sense than the whole Mormon backstory.

The NY Times weighed in again today with a lead editorial:

The federal appeals court reached the right result, but regrettably, it ducked the issue at the heart of the case, which turns on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The real problem is that Pleasant Grove City elevated one religion, traditional Christianity, over another, Summum. The founders regarded this sort of religious preference as so odious that they included a specific provision in the First Amendment prohibiting it. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has a bad record on Establishment Clause cases, which made it easier for all of the parties to treat the case as a simple speech case.

The Kiwi absolutely agrees and would like to start the process of applying to have a Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi monument added to the park as well.  If one religion is allowed the free advertising in a public place, we deserve the opportunity to get our message across as well.

And we will not be undersold.

It’s easier to be happy when you are rich and ignore reality

by lestro

That’s our lesson today kids, brought to you by the letter “R”

The pollsters were in the field asking about happiness this month, a period when economic news was gloomy for everybody and presidential campaign news seemed especially baleful for Republicans. Yet they found 37 percent of Republicans are “very happy,” compared with 25 percent of Democrats; 51 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats are “pretty happy”; and 9 percent of Republicans are “not too happy,” compared with 20 percent of Democrats.

The partisan happiness gap — unbroken for nearly four decades — is impervious to electoral ups and downs. It has something to do with worldview.

Right, because a world view in which you refuse to let facts get in the way of belief is like the Land of Make Believe (plus, the party leader is an obvious puppet…) where everything goes your way and reality never gets in the way of a good story.

But seriously, says Lehane, if Republicans are more happy, it’s because they care less.

“The typical Republican is happy coming home to a 62-inch television, pulling out a fine bottle of cognac or Scotch, putting his feet on the table and enjoying the fruits of his labor, but not caring what’s going on in the world outside their living room . . . and their gated community.”

Government-funded researchers identified the happiness gap in 1972. Since then, the Democrats have been comparatively more bummed out not just during the tenures of GOP presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush. They were noticeably less joyful than Republicans even during the GOP fiasco of Watergate, and during the Democratic Carter and Clinton administrations.

Not to mention the money. It’s a lot easier to be happy when you are loaded.

What’s the Republicans’ secret to feeling groovy?

“They have more money,” Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project, writes in the new report. “They have more friends. They are more religious. They are healthier. They are more likely to be married. They like their communities better. They like their jobs more. They are more satisfied with their family life. They like the weather better.”

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Sarah Palin rallies the KKK

by twit

update: via Newsweek on November 5, 2008:

The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied.

You don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows:

Just wow.  Via Wonkette, the Washington Post actually reports on October 6, 2008:

“Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers,” Palin said.

“Boooo!” said the crowd.

“And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,’” she continued.

“Boooo!” the crowd repeated.

“Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.

So who is this nefarious Bill Ayers?  According to Palin, he is a terrorist:

“Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,” Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo.

A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain’s ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.

“This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” she said. “We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.”

However:

Her reference to Obama’s relationship with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were “pals” or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.

Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers’ radical views and actions.

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She knows your anger, she knows your dreams

by lestro

She’s been everything you want to be.

A full six months after she lost in the primary process and a full two months since she conceded the nomination, Hillary Clinton is not quite ready to give up the ghost of her failed presidential bid.

And her supporters are planning to disrupt the Democratic National Convention:

Frustrated supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) are planning multiple rallies at the Democratic convention in Denver, coupled with television and print advertisements.

The disenchanted Democrats want to express their disappointment with the party’s presidential primary process.

These are Democrats. Trying to kneecap the Democratic candidate:

The Denver Post recently reported that Clinton backers will hold signs that read, “Denounce Nobama’s Coronation.”

some of the Denver Group’s goals are contrary to the Democratic Party’s. Its goals include: an open convention; Clinton’s name placed in nomination with no symbolic roll call vote; speeches allowed by supporters of Clinton on behalf of her candidacy; a genuine roll call vote with Clinton as a legitimate candidate; and “no coronation.”

This is absurd. Hillary Clinton is no longer a legitamate candidate. It is important to note how this call for a revival of the Clinton candidacy is not about the policies offered by the candidates or their goals for this country. The difference between the goals and policies of the candidates are minimal. This is all about Hillary.

The big talk this year was that Obama was creating a Cult of Personality around him. It’s easy to see why. And Democrats have a way of doing that. It’s how they’ve won. Think Kennedy and Clinton.

The Republicans, on the other hand, build a movement and find someone to represent it, like an oligarch puppet. Think Reagan and Bush.

However, for all the talk of Obama as some sort of godhead, it’s not true. In fact, in many ways, it was just the opposite in this year’s primary battle.

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it’s coming back around again

by lestro

Kick in the township rebellion!

Days after Rage Against the Machine‘s Lollapalooza set threatened to become a riot, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune‘s website has reported [viaRolling Stone‘s Rock & Roll Daily] that the band will play Minneapolis’ Target Center on September 3.

Making this show more than just another tour date is the fact that it’s happening during the Republican National Convention, which will take place in the Twin Cities from September 1-4.

So here’s what we’ve got: a “revolutionary” band whose most recent show at a mostly peaceful music festival incited the crowd to violence, causing many injuries to concertgoers in the process, playing a show in the same city and at the same time as a huge event celebrating the political party most opposed to that band’s message. (Not to mention the fact that the last time Rage played a party convention, things didn’t go so well.)

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Remember this symbol

by lestro

Something tells me we are going to be seeing a lot of it in the next few weeks…

A student carries a sign board reading disaster after she took part in the Mianyang leg of Beijing Olympic torch relay outside the Jiuzhou stadium on Monday in Mianyang of Sichuan Province, China. The three-day Beijing Olympic torch relay held in the quake-hit Sichuan province, the last relay leg before Beijing.

(August 04, 2008) Getty Images via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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“Republican leaders just sent out a notice looking for a bullhorn”

by twit

No, not as an energy conservation measure…

The Politico reports many things about this hot first day of August on the esteemed floor of our nation’s Capitol, including this:

Update 5: The scene on the floor is kind of crazy. …

Update 6: Republicans are literally hugging each other on the House floor. …

Update 7: Rep Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) just pretended to be a Democrat. …

Update 8: It’s over.

Right at the stroke of five Georgia Rep. Tom Price announced that House Republicans were ending their impromptu protest on the floor of the chamber, ending a five-plus hour rebellion with a round of “God Bless America.”

The assembled tourists, aides and members in the chamber gave Price and his compatriots a standing ovation.

They left the chamber to shouts of “USA! USA! USA!”

as well they should.

Iranian dissident leader escapes to America… with a video camera

by twit

Via the International Herald Tribune:

After nearly 8 years in prison, Ahmad Batebi fled Iran, documenting the journey on a pocket-sized video camera.

A July 13, 2008 video report can be seen here. More information is available from a July 13, 2008 article:

… He rose to fame in 1999, appearing on the cover of The Economist magazine holding the bloody T-shirt of a fellow student demonstrator – an image he first saw when a judge slapped it before him and declared: “You have signed your own death sentence.”

At the age of 31, after nearly eight years in Iranian prisons, subjected to torture and twice taken to the gallows and fitted with a noose, Batebi had fled.

His own awakening began in the fourth grade, when his teacher, fed up with the distortions of an official history textbook, burst out: “Go out and read other things to try to get the truth.”

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anarchy for breakfast

by twit

Via the Raw Story, it looks like there are some plans developing to welcome the Republican National Convention to St. Paul, Minnesota:

Since last summer, an anarchist group calling itself the RNC Welcoming Committee has been advertising its intention to be present at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN this September, even releasing a video showing black-clad figures cheerfully spreading the word.

here’s the video:

but don’t worry, the government is getting ready, too:

CNN’s Ed Lavendera reports that Denver and St. Paul officials have said that the types of weapons being purchased are “top secret.”

Apart from the traditional pepper spray and rubber bullets employed by police for controlling large protests, Denver, Colorado and St. Paul, Minnesota officials may be spending large sums on weapons CNN calls ’science fiction sounding’.

Weapons such as the sonic ray gun, which emits a head-splitting frequency and deafens large groups of people.

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Stripteasin’ for Justice: “La Diosa del Metro”

by twit

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happy Minutes” via the BBC:

Police in Chile have arrested a stripper who was attempting to remove her clothes outside the presidential palace in the capital, Santiago.

Her arrest comes three days after she performed a series of striptease dances on the Santiago underground, the metro.

Monserrat Morilles told reporters that her performances were aimed at challenging the prudishness of Chilean society and that they would continue.

yes, yes of course there is video:

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Hillary For Worldwide Emperor

by twit

https://i0.wp.com/imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/MMPH/28364~Remington-Steele-Posters.jpgSome of Hillary’s most avid supporters are under the impression that she has been offered the Veep slot on Obama’s ticket. So they have created a site, that allows comments without moderation, with the following inspirational message:

Hillary, don’t take a VP slot. Stay in the Senate (or retire or go worldwide).

We won’t let you sacrifice your own future to prop up Obama.

No Remington Steele presidency!

Go worldwide? Is it time for the Emperor of the World election already?

Click here to sign the petition, and don’t forget to leave a comment! Certainly we can all agree that we do not, under any circumstances, want Hillary anywhere near a ticket led by Obama…

Since so many of us actually want Obama to win.

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Biofuels are a crime against humanity

by twit

We should have known something was wrong the instant biofuels became so enthusiastically supported by the Bush Administration, but it still is something of a surprise that the World Bank has for months sat on a report that details the crimes against humanity caused by the biofuels industry.

Fortunately, there is someone with a conscience working at the World Bank who helpfully leaked the “damning” report to the media. Via the Guardian on July 4, 2008:

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government’s claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.

The World Bank report also includes an analysis of what this means for the world:

Rising food prices have pushed 100m people worldwide below the poverty line, estimates the World Bank, and have sparked riots from Bangladesh to Egypt. Government ministers here have described higher food and fuel prices as “the first real economic crisis of globalisation”.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident

by lestro

Today is July 4, Independence Day.

Every year, I make sure to take 15 minutes out of my barbeque/fireworks/beer time to make sure I read the Declaration of Independence.

It’s a good reminder of who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to believe in about this country.

Unlike the Constitution, which is a working document designed to create and maintain a government that would protect the rights of its people, the Declaration is a statement of Ideals.

It is a philosophical treatise on human rights and government, as well as a point-by-point breakdown of exactly why and how King George was violating those rights.

And I love the simplicity of it: “Hey King George, here’s what we believe and here’s why you’re a jerk. Now piss off, we can take it from here. Love, Thomas Jefferson, et al.”

The very idea that governments draw their power from the consent of the governed and that we elect our leaders to represent us in a larger government was groundbreaking at the time.

America is less a country and more of an idea. We are a nation based not on the divine right of some inbred blueblood (except for the past two elections, of course), but a simple – yet breathtakingly groundbreaking – philosophy. The Declaration is the embodiment of that philosophy.

Written by Jefferson, parts of the declaration are very lyrical, soaring statements on all men being created equal and having the right (among others) to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, while others sections detail nearly 30 specific grievances and reasons for going it on our own. A nation founded on the pursuit of happiness (even if by “all men” he meant “all white, land-owning men”) is and was a truly amazing idea.

What’s even more important is the idea that it is not governments that bestow these rights, that these rights are “unalienable” and bestowed by the Creator. Governments exist simply to “secure these rights.” That is still a pretty radical idea now, let alone in the time of the Divine Right of Kings.

It’s not easy either. We’ve spent the 232 years since then trying to figure out exactly how to live up to such lofty ideals. Well, 225 years anyway. The last seven have been a pretty good exercise in deconstruction of these ideals.

But if we ever have questions about what we are supposed to stand for and why, we need to simply check our founding philosophical document. The philosophy of the nation is right there in the first paragraph.

The Declaration, however, not only separated us from Mother England, but also leaves the door open for future revolutions by laying out the reasons that governments can be overturned: whenever a government fails to secure our rights or ceases to draw its power from the consent of the governed, it is not only our right to overthrow them, but our “duty.”

That’s pretty punk rock when you get right down to it.

So while we all take time today to celebrate our national birthday and pursue our own happiness, be it a barbeque, fireworks or parades, take a few minutes and re-read the Declaration. It’s a quick, inspiring read of just more than 1300 words. Besides, we should all remind ourselves every now and again exactly what we’re doing over here, just to be sure we haven’t lost our way.

Happy 4th.

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Vermont Law School pretends to fight for equality

by twit

How embarrassing. For an institution with the motto “law for the community and the world,” one has to wonder why they are engaging in self-mutilation that flies in the face of the most deeply held principles of the school.

Vermont Law School has long opposed the “don’t ask don’t tell” military policy, which is a great thing. They joined several schools in a lawsuit that went up to the United States Supreme Court, challenging the loss of federal funding that followed the refusal to permit military recruiters on campus. And they lost in a unanimous decision by the Court.

The response by Vermont Law School is to continue to bar the military recruiters on campus. Which means, according to the New York Times on June 30, 2008, that the school will not receive an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 in federal dollars each year that the ban continues. The new dean expresses how proud he is to “speak truth to power,” and how great it is to sacrifice such an enormous amount of money for such a tiny school.

I suppose I should send my Vermont Law School diploma back in protest, because I don’t want to display it anywhere if it means being associated with backward and destructive political action. If that school taught me anything, it was to speak out against foolish policies that ultimately hinder the fight for equality.

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Introducing our national nightmare

by twit

Via Maureen Dowd, writing for the New York Times on June 29, 2008:

Afterward, Carmella got her idol to autograph her sign, telling the smiling Hillary, “You’re going to be the next president.”

She told The Times that she and her friends were all voting for John McCain and that Hillary was just doing what she had to do.

“But I have a gut feeling,” she said with macabre faith, “that something’s going to happen so that she becomes the nominee.”

[emphasis added]

Somebody PLEASE get the Secret Service and the FBI on this… it is her certainty that really seems to qualify her as the kind of psychopath to keep an eye on.

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hooray, it’s Monday

by twit

Let’s have a riot for food, since nobody is expecting such a thing:

“We’re still trying to figure out why so many people showed up.”

Since the economy is going so great, food prices are so low and that price of gas makes us the envy of the world…

Milwaukee police said they have restored order but will remain outside of the Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center after a crowd awaiting free food vouchers became unruly this morning.

it just makes no sense that 2,500 people would show up at a welfare office first thing on a Monday morning, and then start rushing the door…

Police responded to the building about 7 a.m. after 2,500 people lined up on the sidewalk and eventually began to block traffic in the street. A number of people had rushed the door, and some people became caught in the crush; however, there were no serious injuries, according to Schwartz.

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the twit reads the news

by twit

whoops: Those levees they had thought would hold the Des Moines river back have breached. Total evacuation has been ordered and is well underway in affected areas due to the coordinated efforts of the earlier voluntary evacuations and the police going door-to-door before dawn to wake and assist the people still there. The BBC has video from Cedar Rapids.

damn: Tim Russert is dead. Long live Tim Russert:

What we hope to do in this campaign is recognize there are big differences on big issues between John McCain and Barack Obama – the war in Iraq, Iran, Social Security, taxes. You don’t need to get into this other stuff. If it does surface, then I think the mainstream media has an obligation not to just instinctively put it out there without vetting it.

wow: Protests in Tibet continue, including a report about a monk using a sword to defend himself from officials attempting his arrest and then managing to escape into the mountains before 200 Chinese officers arrived.

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To my sisters planning to vote for McCain

by twit

I realize it hurts that Hillary didn’t get the nomination, especially after all of the early media attention that said she was the inevitable candidate. It was a historical moment on its own, providing clear evidence of the cultural shift that finally allowed a woman to become known as the most credible candidate for the  Democratic ticket.

I realize that she was going to vindicate every woman, create a victory for every female held back and left behind by this sexist culture of ours. She called much-needed attention to the inequalities faced by women in America and the unfulfilled promises of liberty and justice for all.

Now the internet is ablaze with former Hillary supporters promising to either vote for McCain, to not vote at all or to write in Hillary on election day. As a woman, from my heart to yours, I ask you to remember why you supported Hillary in the first place. You care about the plight of women, you are sick and tired of being treated like a second-class citizen, you want change to come and you want it now.

I ask you to consider how staying home on election day, writing Hillary in or voting for McCain abandons that clarion call.

Will you work further destruction on your sisters and daughters in order to protest Hillary’s loss of the nomination? Will you work to secure a darker future for all women, now that your first choice is no longer available?

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