Saturday, January 03, 2009

MILK - the movie - updated

I noticed in the credits that it was Giuseppe Di Stefano singing "E lucevan le stelle" in the scene where Scott, unable to take the endless campaigning, walked out on Harvey. I am not sure if that was the first scene that brought tears to my eyes but there were many to come. I got misty at several points even reading the credits, and then thinking about it as I walked to the parking garage.

The younger generation's reactions to Milk would be of interest to me. Many will know nothing of the times and stories in this film. I was not in the Bay Area in the late 70s but I heard the stories. I remember Anita Bryant and the Florida Orange Growers. You could not get a screwdriver in any bar in West Hollywood at that time and it was years before I drank orange juice again. I remember the Coors boycott, though I could not join in, being a non-beer-drinker than and now. Most importantly, I remember the Briggs Amendment, Proposition 6, with its threat to all gay teachers and their supporters (and hinting at worse witch hunts to come). The threat of that evil proposition infected my life and relief at its defeat was staggering.

I held my breath every three years when the General Convention of the The Episcopal Church convened, praying they would not vote on gay ordination, fearing I would never be able to preside at an altar again.

Though I do not remember the exact year (1976? 77?), I do remember the New Year's Day when I was no longer a felon because private consensual acts between adults were no longer felonies in California.

All the vintage footage of the Castro was a real blast from the past - and from the present. I was just walking up and down Castro Street in September. While I always felt like an alien visiting there (we used to joke about being tourists from the burbs, even if the burbs were just across the Bay), it has been a place where it was OK to be gay. Not so when Harvey Milk and Scott Smith arrived there, but certainly as long as I remember. My ex and I did not hold hands in public anywhere but in the Castro or during Pride Day. OK, sometimes during church.

The incidents of gay bashing are still astonishing. The rhetoric against gays is staggering. Though the social ambience has changed greatly since the late 70s, these have not gone away. You can still be taunted, harrassed, beaten, or killed just for being who you are. The FBI hate crime statistics show that in 2007 "15.9 percent were targeted because of a bias against a particular sexual orientation," with just over 1500 victims. It was 15.3 % in 2006, 13.8 % in 2005, 15.6% in 2004.

Bishops around the world fulminate against us. Hateful closeted queens (cough, B16, cough) wish all of us except their personal secretaries would just go away. Many people are, simply, terrified of us or of some imagined something we represent for them.

One of the most radical things Harvey Milk called for (in the movie, at least, I don't know how closely the film hews to facts in all instances) was for every one of us to come out. He felt that if folks realized that they knew us, their hearts would be turned. It was a heart-stopping moment in the film for me. I am out. 100%. You cannot know me for very long (maybe a day, perhaps a week, and maybe only fifteen minutes) without knowing I am gay. But I remember the terror of the closet, fears of being disowned, disfellowshipped, cast out - of being fired, refused housing, being spat upon, being betrayed, or worse. When Harvey calls for one of his campaign staff to call home and come out to family, it is frightening. I can imagine the call ending with a rupture that can never be healed. Not every parent joins PFLAG.

It is a great movie. Sean Penn, not surprisingly, does an amazing job of portraying Milk. The combination of acted and archival footage is skillful and effective. The rising backlash at that time of voters overturning progressive laws felt like a fresh kick in the gut.

Again and again I felt personal links to the film. At the end we are treated to snippets of what became of central characters, along with photos of the persons depicted in the movie. Throughout the movie I was not linking Cleve Jones with the man who conceived the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Bam, another visceral hit. I remember visiting a site where the quilt was assembled and stored (it moved more than once) and I remember working on panels and seeing the names of people I know on panels and displays of portions in the lobby of Kaiser Hospital in Oakland and in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, and the section we hung in a quilt show at Saint Cuthbert's.

I have driven and walked through the Civic Center neighborhood, attending operas at the War Memorial Opera House, and concerts at the Davies Symphony Center, and tonight I thought: San Francisco has the most beautiful city hall in the world.

In short, the story of Harvey Milk is part of MY story, and that of LGBT folk all across the United States. Watching this movie reminded me of the struggles of the past, the fear, the defeats, the agony, the victories. It reminded me of how far we have come. It reminded me how far we have to go.

I don't want protests, in any usual sense, when the invocation is given at Obama's inauguration. What I would love to see is millions of lighted candles held high on behalf of all those who have suffered in the struggle and in hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Holy Harvey, pray for us all.

MissLaura gives her review of the film at Daily Kos today.
--the BB

A moving and beautiful post

Folks, I want to recommend a diary (currently at the top or the recommend list) over at Daily Kos. It is titled "I'm dying. Updated." kwickkick wrote it and asks us all to support our new President in the battle for universal health care. The diarist is a 34-year-old man with pancreatic cancer who knows he will not see 2010 come in. No calls for pity, just a passion to live his remaining months well and urge us to do what is right.

May he journey well this year, surrounded with love and filled with peace and joy.
--the BB

This merits highlighting

The important thing
is to know that
to serve does not mean to belittle
but rather
to reveal one's heart
in support of others.

Take the kids to work day

Based on historic precedent, work will get very busy next Monday and on throughout January. So we took advantage of the last slow day for a work visit yesterday.

Here you can see Belle on the left and Eddie and Maggie on the right, hanging out at Aunt Jen's desk.

And here are Dillinger, Norbert, Vic, and Carlo (they brought their attorney just in case). Carlo's magistrate's wig is a bit askew.

There were no incidents (that I'm aware of) and we all got home safely.

I detoured to a friend's birthday party, which was fun. Terrific eats.

Planning to see Milk this evening, so a review may be forthcoming.

Maggie and Belle give a shout out to Grandmère Mimi.
--the BB

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Southern Strategy and its effects - updated (2x)

Some very interesting comments from Paul Krugman:

The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision...


Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.


Will the Republicans eventually stage a comeback? Yes, of course. But barring some huge missteps by Mr. Obama, that will not happen until they stop whining and look at what really went wrong. And when they do, they will discover that they need to get in touch with the real “real America,” a country that is more diverse, more tolerant, and more demanding of effective government than is dreamt of in their political philosophy.
The snippets have more context and coherence if you read the whole article, of course.

I do not believe Mr. Krugman is saying anything remotely like "all Republicans are racists," which would be utter nonsense. But the strategies the party has pursued have consistently and repeatedly used both "dog whistles" and overt language to whip up fear of non-white groups, to scapegoat them, and to make government serve the white and wealthy.

We should also all be aware of their vote suppression tactics, consistently and repeatedly used in election after election. Whose votes are being suppressed?

Check out the 2008 electoral vote map (via Daily Kos) and do your own demographic analysis:

Consider the alternate reality of Faux News and the mouth-breathing Limbaughs, Hannitys, and O'Reillys. Their world is a scary world in which responsible people (those already in charge) do reasonable things to protect "us" from all kinds of evil forces. Strange how their evil forces do not usually include mega-corporations whose greed destroys the middle class and the poor.

Are you, personally, more threatened today by al Qaeda or by inadequate or non-existent healthcare, or perhaps the loss of your retirement savings? What does your household worry about the most on a day-to-day basis? What constitutes "terror" in your daily life?

Now, what and whom are you told to fear? And who is telling you to be fearful?

Just some questions for us to ponder as we go into 2009.

Update: h/t to DemFromCT

Clammyc has some pointed comments for the GOP:
Trying now to distance yourselves from Bush and "the fake republican party who were not conservatives", even though you wanted more money for war, more money for corporations, less regulation for the financial institutions who are now getting corporate welfare and stood up for torture as "fraternity pranks" (and who the hell can argue "for torture" without being laughed out of the room?) and more presidential power and leaking classified information and "the nook-you-luhr option" – every single thing that resulted in the laughable view of your party by people of all ages and other demographic breakdowns that don’t include "angry old white men with entitlement issues" or "low self esteem cowardly loud arrogant proud-to-be-clueless chickenshit chickenhawk".

And you think that anyone takes anything that you say or think seriously? Tom DeLay and G. Gordon Liddy and Karl Rove offering "friendly professional advice" to Democrats and republicans as to what this country needs? Thinking that McCain lost because he was too nice or too liberal or not anti-immigration enough or too soft on torture? Trying to defend "Barack the Magic Negro".

To put it simply, this mentality and these ideas are precisely why your party lost.

--the BB

Thursday, January 01, 2009

4221 - updated (2x)

Latest Coalition Fatalities

12/31/08 MNF:
Soldier dies from wounds
A U.S. Soldier died, Dec. 31, in Balad, Iraq from injuries sustained during combat operations, Dec. 30. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

12/31/08 MNF:
U.S. Soldier killed by indirect fire
A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died from wounds sustained during a mortar attack in Baghdad Dec. 31. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

photo via IGTNT
Pfc. Christopher W. Lotter, 20, of Chester Heights, Pa., died Dec. 31, 2008, in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he was shot by enemy forces in Tikrit. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team...

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Benjamin B. Tollefson, 22, of Concord, Calif., died Dec. 31 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire in Ghazaliya. Tollefson was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

New Year's Day 2009

Mount Taylor viewed from the base of the Sandias

The Sandias

The Sandias shifting my view northward

The Sandias viewed from a stoplight on Paseo del Norte

I did get outside. It is a beautiful New Year's Day in Albuquerque.
--the BB

Waaaaaaaaaaaah! - updated

During a lunch meeting two blocks from the White House, where he served under his longtime friend, President George W. Bush, Mr. Gonzales said that "for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."

Sorry, Abou G, you were one of the enablers of the SCWOT. Its casualties are the Iraqi dead, the lost and wounded MNF troops, the US Constitution, and the Geneva Conventions. You also trashed the US Justice Department, leaving our legal system in shambles. You get no sympathy for having stood by W all those many years. If you'd let him go for jury duty and reveal his drunk driving charge decades ago, we all might have been spared the horror of Bush. Suck eggs.

Helpful reminders for Gonzales' highly flawed memory can be found at Crooks and Liars where Jon Perr describes AGAG's numerous lies to Congress (which - does anyone pay attention any more? - is a crime).
--the BB

Happy New Year

Boundless Sea of Love and Energy,
our future and our God,
may all your dreams for us come true

--William Cleary
Prayers to an Evolutionary God

The year in review

The western sky, 30 December 2008
Viewed from Trader Joe's parking lot, Albuquerque

Jane R presents the challenge:
For this meme, you take the first sentence of the first post of each month and line ’em up.
Here we go!

Sometime, during the day tomorrow, the PayPal facility will close. [The Cidade de Deus project]

Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. [John Edwards leaves the race]

Israel Takes Gaza Fight to Next Level in a Day of Strikes

[Sigh. And more sighs.]

Glenn Greenwald responds to the Newsweek article on John McCain by Michael Hirsch and reminds of something we really must not forget.

Hello, friends! [From New Orleans]

In which the denizens of Desert Farne run amok in the Big Easy [Mimi, Maggie, Belle, and the BB have an outing]

They may be our final recourse against tyranny (since Congress is doing such a lousy job of it).

I am about to board the plane homeward!

We'll let the conservatives evaluate Governor Palin's fitness for the vice presidency:

Hiring firms take a dim view of resume padding. [About Palin]

The sun rose over the Manzanos a few minutes ago.

I had a visit from the blogger at Holy Hell….

Anyone else?
--the BB

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Irony is dead

bmaz posted this at Emptywheel yesterday:
U.S. prosecutors want a Miami judge to sentence the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 147 years in prison for torturing people when he was chief of a brutal paramilitary unit during his father's reign.
A recent Justice Department court filing describes torture — which the U.S. has been accused of in the war on terror — as a "flagrant and pernicious abuse of power and authority" that warrants severe punishment of Taylor.

"It undermines respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule of law," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller in last week's filing. "The gravity of the offense of torture is beyond dispute."


No further comment necessary.
--the BB

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ruby Tuesday

January 17, 2003

February 22, 2003

Liquidamber leaves, St John the Evangelist 2003

The Cunning Runt introduced me to this meme. He got it from Mary at Work of the Poet. Don't know if I will keep it up, but here's some gratuitous redness for you.
--the BB

Take it back

In a great example of government of the People, for the People, and by the People, Quaker Dave has put forth a great suggestion. Fran tipped me to it (thank you, Fran).

Part of Obama's appeal was his expression of faith in the People, saying We can do it, not that he can do it.

So let's do it.
--the BB

Monday, December 29, 2008

Le catch-up

Il n'y a pas beaucoup de choses à vous dire.

Lots of chillaxin over the long weekend. Lunch with a friend, getting together with a buddy, preaching at Canterbury, going to the gym, a festive party (with musicians and awesome food) in Santa Fe. And back to work today, followed by an energetic after-work conversation over coffee and, in my case, hot chocolate at the Flying Star. Sounds busier than it was, but now you're all caught up.

There is much to say

There is much to say about Somalia, Gaza, the economy, 2008 in retrospect, female genital mutilation in Kurdistan, Pakistan and India, a Canadian avalanche, voting in Bangladesh, etc. I have been doing things other than blogging lately and lack the energy to add my commentary to it all, except to note that Mitch McConnell is a hypocrite and asshole of the highest order (see link on economy above). Some of you will recall (with varying degrees of horror) my comments about obstructionists and chainsaws. McConnell's latest antics bring that mood back. I am sure there are good people in Kentucky who deserve better than Mitch. I hope they can organize and kick him out of office so far that his sorry ass lands several states away. Perhaps Gitmo.

I know that I don't really care about Bristol Palin whelping. Teenage boys knocking up teenage girls and babies ensuing is hardly news. Happens all the time (including among my own relatives in several generations). Ho. Hum. Anyone who gives a shit - outside the circle of family and friends, for whom it is legitimately a cause of wonder and joy - needs a life.

We now have a study showing that those who take virginity-until-marriage pledges are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who take no such vows - and are more likely to do so unsafely. How can this surprise anyone? Ignorance, denial, and fantasy do not make a recipe for happy outcomes.

Wait. Was I typing about premarital sex or Bush administration policies? In either case, somebody gets screwed with predictable consequences.

Ugh. Much too grumpy for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

In happier news: 20 days and 22 hours until Chimpy McCokespoon is out of office.

God loves this world. I need to remember this and take a deep breath.

Let us not only pray for peace in the world but also work for it.
--the BB


D0D Identifies Navy Casualty
Master-at-Arms Seaman Apprentice Joshua D. Seitz, 19, of Pensacola, Fla., died Dec. 25 in Manama, Bahrain. He was assigned to Naval Security Force, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.


12/29/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Cpl. Charles P. Gaffney Jr., 42, of Phoenix, Ariz., died Dec. 24 in Paktika, Afghanistan, when his combat outpost received enemy rocket fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Continuing the heart thread - 12/28/2008

Here is an update on my friend BJ's father (original prayer request here):
Just got back on line. I knew you would be my life line….It has been an amazing few days…my niece has spent time with him every day….this is the first we’ve seen of her since my mom’s funeral 2 ½ years ago. He is never alone…friends, folks I would have never thought of have shown up, sent him food, flowers, love….people I think he’s been mean to, are even there. He is getting worse and the doctor’s can’t figure out why…more tests tomorrow. I’ve slept in his room the last two nights…he sleeps better when there is someone there he knows. His personal nurses have been great…it is much more comforting than I expected…your loving prayers have helped beyond measure..
--BJ in Oakland

Thanks for the prayers and keep 'em coming.
--the BB

How things have changed. Oops, they haven't.

It Will All Be Over Soon
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Everyone can relax. This thing is clearly getting ready to wind down. Ask the brilliant minds up at the Pentagon. Back in April 2003, a formal Pentagon planning session stated emphatically that the U.S. occupation of Iraq would be coming to an end in December 2004. It is December by my calendar, so clearly we should start planning the tickertape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

We can have Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seated in the lead car, and let the love and adoration of this nation wash over him like a bath of warm milk. Perhaps he will choose that glorious moment to reveal the 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 1,000,000 pounds of sarin, mustard and VX gas, and the 30,000 munitions to deliver the stuff we all went to war for in the first place. We can festoon the Canyon with plastic sheeting and duct tape. It'll be a party of historic proportions.

Surely Don can make it to the parade. His Pentagon couldn't have been wrong about the whole deal being done in December, because he is far too smart. Never mind that Senator McCain is calling for another 100,000 troops to be sent to Iraq. One wonders where the Senator thinks we will get those soldiers. Perhaps we could abandon Afghanistan, Europe and the Korean DMZ to throw every warm body into the fray. Perhaps there is some deep black program we don't know about that allows the military to hatch fully grown, fully trained soldiers like chickens on a production line. Perhaps any young people reading this should make sure their Selective Service cards are close at hand. Never fear, though. It'll all be over sometime this month.

via Hoffmania

Donald Rumsfeld is sad. Poor sad Donald. Why is Donald sad?

Because a lot of troops died in Mosul?

Because they really need armor?

Because he had to hand-sign so many death letters yesterday?

No, no and no. This snotbucket dickhead Rumsfeld is sad because - he's being criticized.
Subdued Rumsfeld 'Truly Saddened' by Criticism

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding to mounting criticism even from fellow Republicans, said on Wednesday he was "truly saddened" anyone could think he was not laboring to protect U.S. combat troops.

An uncharacteristically subdued Rumsfeld addressed his critics with an unprompted statement at the start of a Pentagon briefing, and said he stayed awake a night worrying about America's fighting men and women.

Asked whether the recent criticism had affected his ability to do his job, Rumsfeld said: "You get up in the morning and you think about what our troops are doing. And I must say, if they can do what they're doing, I can do what I'm doing."

Screw you anyway, Donnie. When the hell did these tough guys suddenly develop such a thin skin?


Steve Rendall was saying this:
A bizarre debate has emerged regarding whether journalists have a duty to investigate and assess the credibility of sources and their claims. Some highly placed journalists seem to say such judgments are not their job. Citing what they say are journalistic principles, they claim that investigating and reporting about the veracity of claims and the credibility of sources is just not what they do.

In fact, it's not only their job, it's an essential task of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists is very clear on the subject: At the top of the group's Code of Ethics, under the heading "Seek Truth and Report It," the very first tenet implores journalists to "test the accuracy of information from all sources." Another tenet stresses the importance of gauging the credibility of sources: "The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability."

But from the Iraq War to the 2004 presidential race, reporters shirked their journalistic duty to take a critical approach to official and partisan claims—to document them when they are true, and debunk them when they are false. Indeed, many journalists have become little more than stenographers, repeating whatever they are told without question.
--FAIR (the whole article is worth a visit)

And so it was throughout the imperial Bush presidency.

(Speaking of imperial presidencies, remember the White House guards with their cute little uniforms and caps under Nixon, those trappings quickly abandoned? How quaint it all seems to next to the accretions of power accomplished by Cheney and Bush.)

It appears things may be shifting slightly but it is still the few, such as Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart on TV and the "left blogosphere" who cry foul when lies and distortions are promoted without question or verification.

Because we miss her:
Merry Christmas to all
Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate

12.23.04 - AUSTIN, Texas -- And a Merry Christmas to all, including people who have white Christmas trees decorated entirely with purple balls. Merry Christmas to the Red states and the Blue states, to the R's and D's, and to all the troops stationed in Afghanistan, including the French troops there -- Mais oui, Christmas, y'all.
Merry Christmas to all the people who had to eat bugs on reality shows this year and to all the professional athletes who have not gotten into duke-outs. (Lumps of coal to the rest of you jocks.) Merry Christmas to the homeless and the people in the shelters, and especially to those who are feeding the people in the shelters. Season's Best to all the cops who collected for Blue Santa this year, and a Tiny Tim Salute to all the prisoners, including Martha Stewart. Her cell-wing lost the prison's Christmas decorating contest this year -- when it rains ...

Here's to all the Americans on both sides of this year's unusually peppy fights over the allowability of religious symbols on public property. This annual battle, in which the American Civil Liberties Union strives once more to make itself as popular as the Grinch, is over the part of the First Amendment that says the government cannot sponsor religion. I always liked what former Gov. Ann Richards said when informed there were demands that the large star on top of the state capitol come down. "Oh, I'd hate to see that happen," she drawled. "This could be the only chance we'll ever have to get three wise men in that building."

Feliz Navidad to all our immigrants, legal and otherwise -- may La Migra be far away and tamales close at hand. By the way, there are some new legal rights groups that will go after the scum who hire you and then refuse to pay you. Joyeux Noel to all our friends in Canada, and please overlook the pifflebrains who keep insulting you.
Merry Christmas to Tonya Harding and to Nancy Kerrigan, to the Red Sox and to the Cards, and possibly even to George Steinbrenner. Here's to the Texas Legislature, about to convene once more, depriving many a village of its idiot. Here's to John Ashcroft, how we'll miss him -- he was so sexy. A Cool Yule to all the jazzmen and their fans. And wishing a warm holiday to all the citizens with rings in their noses who find going out in subzero weather such a trial. And to those with tattoos, whatthehell.

Happy holidays to the sailors and ballroom dancers, the birders and the bingo players, the squaredancers, the folklorists, the scrapbook makers, the railroad buffs and everyone else with a harmless passion -- we appreciate you all. Here's to the carolers and the altar guild, the vestrymen (vestrypersons?) and the Santas, and to all who volunteer. Here's to everyone who suffered in the Florida hurricanes, including the claims adjusters -- may your days be merry and bright.

Festive greetings to the circus folk and the airline attendants trying to get all the Christmas presents into the overhead bin. Here's to all the proud new grandmas and grandpas, and of course, the aunts. Here's to everyone in the emergency room on Christmas Eve: It could be worse -- you could be Martha Stewart.

A joyous time to all the cooks, making everything from roast goose to turnip fluff, and especially to all the kitchen staffs of all the restaurants that are open on Christmas Day. Here's to everyone who got divorced this year and deserves a break -- may you even part with a kind thought for your ex.

A special holiday wish for all the Americans in Iraq and all the Iraqis, too -- peace on earth. Here's to those who are grieving -- isn't "loved one" a horrid expression? -- whether it is Joe or Tammy, or even Athena the perfect poodle we mourn.

May Baby Jesus' birthday be mellow for the tense, including the lady who said she shrieked both over having dinner with me and how the toilet flushed on the recent Nation cruise. Me and the toilet -- I'm so honored.

Here's to all the racetrack players and cabbies and guys who stop to help fix flat tires. Here's to all the non-Christians, may this day be special for you, as well. To all my brethren and sistren in the newspaper biz, even the editors, and to all the weathermen who report the unidentified flying object on Christmas Eve. Here's to everyone who sent a fruitcake and got one back. Here's to all the salespeople in all the stores who actually made it through without losing it this year, especially in the lingerie departments, where I used to work during the holidays.

And here's to all the rest of us, imperfect though we are. One thing I have learned over the years is that you should go ahead and eat the fudge, because the diet starts next year. And to all, a good night.

(c) 2004 Creators Syndicate
--via Working for Change

William Pfaff was writing this in December 2004, so we really cannot pretend we didn't know:
PARIS - A historian in the future, or a moralist, is likely to deem the Bush administration's enthusiasm for torture the most striking aspect of its war against terrorism.

This started early. Proposals to authorize torture were circulating even before there was anyone to torture. Days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the administration made it known that the United States was no longer bound by international treaties, or by American law and established U.S. military standards, concerning torture and the treatment of prisoners. By the end of 2001, the Justice Department had drafted memos on how to protect military and intelligence officers from eventual prosecution under existing U.S. law for their treatment of Afghan and other prisoners.

In January 2002, the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales (who is soon to become attorney general), advised George W. Bush that it could be done by fiat. If the president simply declared "detainees" in Afghanistan outside the protection of the Geneva conventions, the 1996 U.S. War Crimes Act - which carries a possible death penalty for Geneva violations - would not apply.

Those who protested were ignored, though the administration declared it would abide by the "spirit" of the conventions. Shortly afterward, the CIA asked for formal assurance that this pledge did not apply to its agents.

In March 2003, a Defense Department legal task force concluded that the president was not bound by any international or federal law on torture. It said that as commander in chief, he had the authority "to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security." Subsequent legal memos to civilian officials in the White House and Pentagon dwelt in morbid detail on permitted torture techniques, for practical purposes concluding that anything was permitted that did not (deliberately) kill the victim.
--my links are not working but it is from the International Herald Tribune, 12/22/2004

If we knew this much in December of 2004, why has that m**********r not been impeached?

Speaker Pelosi, just so you know, you have failed in your primary duty of upholding the Constitution of the United States.

Bush Makes Small Cut Back On Troops To Give Illusion Of Progress

by georgia10
Fri Dec 23, 2005 at 09:36:53 AM PDT

Today, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld makes a "surprise" announcement of what we knew all along: the US is cutting back on troops after the Iraq election. There were 160,000 troops in Iraq prior to the election. Rumsfeld announced that two brigades would not be deployed, around 7,000 troops. And yet the media reports that the cut of two brigades will take that number below 138,000. Am I the only one confused here?

Ah, but read further down to clarify:
The Pentagon sent an extra 20,000 troops to Iraq to bolster security during the recent elections, and Rumsfeld has previously said those 20,000 would be withdrawn in January to return U.S. force levels to a 138,000 baseline.
So, contrary to the belief that this is some sort of turning point for troop withdrawal...excuse me, "readjustment"....the military is merely engaging in the same strategy it's used for the last three years: pump up the numbers prior to a major political event, draw then back, then wait for the violence to surge again so you can send more troops in. Notice, significantly, that the troop number will return to a "baseline" of 138,000. We're back to square one. And that's being touted as progress?

We were discussing FISA:
Does War Make Presidents Kings?
by Armando
Fri Dec 23, 2005 at 09:34:26 AM PDT

Despite much noisemaking, even from non-conservative sources, it is now clear that legal justification for President Bush's authorization of warrantless domestic electronic surveillance rests entirely on the argument that Article II of the Constitution vests the Executive with plenary Commander in Chief powers which can not be restricted by the other branches of our federal government. The Justice Department's feeble apologia for the President's actions makes clear that the claim that FISA permits what the President has authorized is based on the view that if FISA does NOT permit it, then FISA is unconstitutional:
Armando really delves into the legal complexities, considering precedents in constitutional law. I really love how he wrote articles like this.

Josh Marshall:
When was the last time there was a major terror alert? They were something like a regular occurence for the eighteen months or so before the 2004 election. And through 2004 the administration pushed the line that al Qaida was aiming to disrupt the elections themselves. But as near I can tell there hasn't been a single one since election day.

Jerome à Paris concluded an article on the economy with this:
So in a nutshell:
• Bush is giving the money to the rich
• Americans cannot find jobs but can borrow easily
• the underlying economy stagnates
• the reported economy grows thanks to debt spending, both public and private
The only question is: when will it end?
I guess we're learning the answer to his question of three years ago.

--the BB