March 31, 2005

"Don't make me bust out my Constitution"

Senator Byrd urges Americans to keep the Founding Fathers close to their hearts:

"'I carry a pocket-sized edition of the Constitution with me every where I go, whether I'm back home in West Virginia or speaking out on the Senate floor. Now you can, too. You can download and print the DSCC's exclusive personal Constitution.' Byrd's appeal accuses Republicans of threatening to 'undermine the system of checks and balances described in the Constitution and the fundamental rights we hold dear' by changing the rules governing confirmation of judges.
'The best way to defend the Constitution is to elect more Democrats to the United States Senate.'"

(More after shameless personal plug picture...)

I got my pocket Constitution from Cato--a group that comes pretty close to being the antithesis of the DSCC. They obviously swing right, but had something to say when Congress overstepped its bounds last week:

"'Republicans today are as guilty, almost, as the Democrats were over their long reign in power,' said Roger Pilon, director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, a group that advocates limited government and individual rights. 'Now that they find themselves in power they are not at all reluctant to use government for the ends they favor.'"

Good old Pilon, always managing to take a good natured shot at the dems even when he's condemning republicans. As he told us kids in DC, they're both wrong--evil bifurcators, they are. Little DC humor for you there.

Culture of life...when it's politically expedient

David Corn weighs in on what we should take from this feeding frenzy:

"There remains much to process in the Schiavo matter. Why did so many Americans become emotionally bound to the case of this woman? Why did they care so much for this one life? Are they as concerned about the lives of civilians killed during military actions in Iraq? Or those who die in the United States because they lack access to quality health care? How far does the "culture of life" extend? (CNN broke from a noontime White House press conference on the release of a new report on WMD intelligence to return to its coverage of the Schiavo story.) George W. Bush and the Republican congressional leaders believed it was necessary for the federal government to intervene in this case, why did they not take further action after the federal courts turned down the Schindlers' appeals? DeLay, for one, argued that the federal court decisions were an arrogant usurpation of power because, in his view, these judges disregarded the law passed by Congress. If that was indeed the case, then shouldn't Congress have appealed those decisions to the Supreme Court or passed another law? But DeLay and the others choose to do nothing—after polls showed their intervention was tremendously unpopular with the American public. So how much did they care about Terri the person as opposed to Terri the issue?"

March 29, 2005

Mr. Popular

59 ex-diplomats have vocalized their opposition to John Bolton's nomination as UN envoy. They had this to say in a letter to the head of the committee that will decide whether Bush's unilateralist nominee will get the chance to show his contempt for international law in person:

"'John Bolton's insistence that the UN is valuable only when it directly serves the United States, and that the most effective Security Council would be one where the US is the only permanent member, will not help him to negotiate with representatives of the remaining 96 percent of humanity,' read the letter from the former diplomats, who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations."

Hopefully the committee will take their advice...though if he's confirmed it wouldn't be the first time someone got the job in spite of great opposition.

March 25, 2005

Simple, elegant.

Been around for a while, but still too good to pass up. I love a good poo joke.

Smarter than a flaming bag of poo on the White House doorstep.

"Biggest douche in the universe"

It's not enough that in diagnosing Terri Schiavo, Faux News (Nancy Grace on Headline News, for that matter) is relying on sketchy doctors who have been on the end of more disciplinary action than Nobel peace prizes (non-existent ones at that). Now they've gotta bring in a psychic--John Edward.

DOOCY: So she may not be able to talk with her brain, but she can with her soul --
EDWARDS: But she's clear on what's going -- and I can tell you that she's definitely clear on what's happening now around her.

That's pure medical science talking. South Park can tell you all you need to know about this guy.

"I am not a douche!"

March 24, 2005

Wilco frontman on file sharing

"'I look at it as a library. I look at it as our version of the radio,' Tweedy said. 'It's a place where basically we can encourage fans to be fans and not feel like they're being exploited, which is basically what the whole industry is geared to do.'

Tweedy encourages fans to tape Wilco shows and has distributed tracks over the Internet for free months before releasing them on CDs.

He agrees artists should be compensated, but 'you try to encourage people to feel more like a patron of the arts instead of a consumer.'"

File sharing creates a more level playing field for independent artists.

March 23, 2005

G.O.P. Right Is Splintered on Schiavo Intervention

CATO's gotta be going nuts over this...which is the party of big government now?


"'My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing,' said Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut"

¡Adelante, marchemos compaƱeros!

So much for "spreading democracy." Washington is apparently trying to stop the election of leftist Nicaraguan party leader and presidential candidate Daniel Ortega.

"Tomas Borge, the former interior minister who is currently No. 2 in the Sandinista Party, said the United States is using a complaint about surface-to-air missiles left over from the war to try to derail a bid by Ortega to retake the presidency in elections next year.

"'The United States is trying once again to meddle in Nicaragua's internal affairs, because they are desperate and scared by a certain Sandinista victory in the upcoming elections,' Borge, the party's vice-secretary, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview."

March 22, 2005

I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party.

Alright, so I should be weighing in on this week's crazy unconstitutional fiasco,'s spring break, and I'm taking a bit of a hiatus. Just got a new laptop and rented a cello, so I'm busy with the new toys and catching up with friends at home.

I couldn't not post about this--I'm really out of touch with TV, since I don't have cable...but it looks like the networks might be attempting to crawl out of the programming cesspool that is reality TV by cranking out some new comedies. And by god, Steve Carrell is starring in one of them--The Office. I might just have to call my cable company.

I don't know what we're yelling about!!

Update: I was giving NBC too much credit--it's not an original series, it's an attempt to duplicate the success of the British series The Office.

March 16, 2005

Senate gives cute arctic wildlife the finger

ANWR oil output

Karen Wayland, legislative director at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), on today's Senate vote to authorize drilling in ANWR:

"Drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge won't make a dent in gas prices at the pump or break our dependence on Middle East oil.

"This was really a vote for Big Oil, not for the solid majority of Americans who oppose turning America's last great wilderness into a vast, polluted oil field.

"President Bush and his Senate allies resorted to a sneaky budget maneuver to get their way. Now, Congress is one step closer to trading away an irreplaceable national treasure for a few drops of oil that we wouldn't see for a decade or more.

"If the oil industry can drill in the Arctic Refuge, then no place, no matter how pristine, will be safe."

March 14, 2005

Einstein's Birthday

"We must inoculate our children against militarism, by educating them in the spirit of pacifism.... Our schoolbooks glorify war and conceal its horrors. They indoctrinate children with hatred. I would teach peace rather than war, love rather than hate."

March 13, 2005

Sunday morning (well, afternoon)

Thought this place could use some art.


Sunday morning
Slow beats seething
Through the screens in
The open windows
Eggs frying
Legs shaking
After we stayed lying
So long in bed
Sunday morning
Both of us reading
And looking up occasionally
Looking up occasionally

Sunday morning
You're doing your thing
And I am doing mine
Speaking words
More a formality
Cuz we can feel we
Are of one mind
Sunday morning
Sheets still warm
Kitties swarming
Around our feet
Life comes easy
Your sweet company
Making it so complete

Of all the Monday through Fridays
We joined the crusade
Of all the Saturday nights
In which we were made
Of all the exorcisms
I've done with your ghosts
Still it's Sunday morning
I miss you the most

"Video news releases" from the Ministry of Love

Government propaganda without attribution:

"Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production."

Ironic, especially considering this is the message being sent:

"'There needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press,' Mr. Bush told reporters in January, explaining why his administration would no longer pay pundits to support his policies."

March 11, 2005

Transparent government

"Seven groups interested in journalism are joining with The Associated Press and other news organizations to promote accessible, accountable and open government.

The Sunshine in Government Initiative seeks to combat what the groups see as increased government secrecy since the 2001 terrorist attacks. The coalition will lobby for legislation and seek to educate the public about First Amendment issues."

AIM improves teens' writing skills

"Though plenty of adults grumble about e-mail and instant-messaging (IM), and the text messages that send adolescent thumbs dancing across cellphone keypads, many experts insist that teenage composition is as strong as ever - and that the proliferation of writing, in all its harried, hasty forms, has actually created a generation more adept with the written word."

OMG! ur j/k, right? LMAO, b4 I used AIM, I sooo wuz a bad writer, LOL!

...I won't hesitate to block you if you type like that.

I can actually vouch for this--e-mailing, IMing, texting, ehem...blogging--all good practice, especially when one is trying to hone one's rapier wit.

March 10, 2005

A few of my favorite things...

iPods, radio, and blogs, married together in the trifecta that is...podcasting!
I've gotta get on this...when I have enough harddrive space to download iPodder (I've only got enough room for music now, which brings up another point--why can't you access music on your iPod when you connect it to your computer?).

Thou shalt not pollute

Not everyone believes the rapture will be a cure-all for environmental degradation. These Evangelical leaders are diverging from Reaganite Cornucopians, taking stock in data on the very real impact of global warming, and urging environmental action. Imagine, tree-huggers banning together with an otherwise right-wing group of 30 million+ Christians, bearing slogans like "What Would Jesus Drive?" Interesting prospects for bridging the cultural gap.

International law? Just kidding!

After a memo between Bush and Gonzales allowed the Hague to have jurisdiction in calling for new hearings for 51 prisoners on death row (wha?! White House and international law??), the State Department announced the U.S. would reject the protocol that allows opponents of the death penalty to fight sentencing of foreigners. Ah yes, that's more like it.

"'It's a sore-loser kind of move,' Professor Spiro said. 'If we can't win, we're not going to play.'"

Dizzouble Dizzouche

WaPo columnist sounds like a tool trying to explain the subtle nuances of Snoop Dogg’s brand of “nuevo pig latin”

“Throughout the years, other hip-hop artists would add -izzle suffixes or 'iz' infixes to their lyrics. Retired-yet-still-recording rapper Jay-Z spouted in Snoop Dogg's 'Drop It Like It's Hot (Remix)': 'Got haters on my jizzock / plus the frickin cizzops / all of whom want to hit me with shizzots til I drizzop.' Then Snoop D-O-Double Gizzle, as he sometimes calls himself, added fuelizzle to the fizire with 'Doggy Fizzle Televizzle,' which began airing in 2003 with characters such as schoolteacher Mr. Dizzle.'"

Mainstream media trying to decipher the world of hip-hop...hi-larious.

On a related note--a self-deprecating Jon Stewart pointed out that no one could be more awkward than himself, "Whitey McWhitington," in discussing "pizzeace in the Mizzeast."

You're killin' me, Smalls.

Blogger is on the fritz this morning...what happens when you need to post a rant about Blogger not working and you can't because, well, it's not working?

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

1.) Why is Jacko still making headlines?
2.) Why is AP prioritizing the news in this order?

AP: Top Stories

Michael Jackson Arrives Late to Court - 22 minutes ago
Suicide Bomber Kills 30 at Iraq Funeral - 47 minutes ago

March 09, 2005

"Liberal indoctrination" actually breeds hawklets

Lionel Lewis debunks the myth that pinko professors are defiling the youth. (Turns out Washington's "Vulcans" are a product of the very same institutions that are accused of having a liberal faculty that's inhospitable to conservatives).

Also, shockingly enough, college students are mostly intelligent people who can ::gasp:: think for themselves, so they mostly aren't blindly led by their professors (even if they are all commies to begin with...which they're not...thought I'd clarify, in case you weren't following my oh so subtle sarcasm):

"Indeed, it has long been known that it hardly matters what professors teach students. What matters is what they come away with—and that is pretty much what they bring with them when they first set foot on campus. The broadest range of ideas can be found on all but the most doctrinal campuses, and students can readily find a niche without having to change their beliefs. Research spanning six decades has shown that the effect of college on the attitudes, values, religiosity, and political views of students, on elite campuses and elsewhere, is almost nil. In light of this research, it hardly makes a difference if the professoriate is mostly liberal or conservative, teaching Leo Tolstoy or Leon Trotsky."

No crisis

The head of the Government Accountability Office said Social Security "does not face an immediate crisis." Also: polls show that the public is largely not in favor of personal accounts. Probably too early to rejoice, but it looks like Bush's agenda is getting shut down.

March 08, 2005

International Women's Day

Calling for stronger committment from governments worldwide, women say they are worse off today than 10 years ago, when the platform for action was set forth at the UN conference on women in Beijing. Equality of education is still sorely lacking in Africa and in the Middle East, sex trafficking continues, women have only marginal representation in government, and access to reproductive health service is dismal--kicked while it's down by Bush's Global Gag Rule.


In recognition of progressive change enacted by women, Amy Goodman interviewed Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate and founder of Kenya's Green Belt movement on Democracy Now.

March 07, 2005

Human scum.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...Bush named neocon Undersecretary of State John Bolton the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. His appointment can only spell future diplomatic disaster (as if we weren't already knee deep in it). The man is as hawkish as they come. Who could forget when he cozied up to Kim Jong Il, dubbing him a "tyrannical dictator" leading an "evil regime," in a country where life is a "hellish nightmare". North Korea responded in kind, refusing further diplomatic relations with Bolton, a man they deemed to be "human scum." Right you are, Mr. Bush, a perfect choice for UN ambassador--the man who said "there's no such thing as the United Nations," and ''if the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.'' This is the administration's not so underhanded way of saying they don't give a rat's ass about the UN, or support from the international community, at a time when they need it most to heal the wounds they created in the Middle East.

I had the opportunity (for which I am grateful, despite the fact that I have some serious qualms with his politics) to sit at a conference table with Bolton at the State Department and ask him a question last year. I brought up a report from the daily Ha'aretz from February 2003, when he told Israeli officials that "it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea after Gulf War Redux." I asked him to reevaluate this in light of the situation in Iraq, and he gave me the brush off, scoffing, "well, you weren't there, so..." So it's personal--the man is on my shit list. If there is any way to oppose his nomination, I am there.

"Who vants a mustache ride!!"

March 06, 2005

The republican wing of the democratic party

Great piece from The Nation on the decline of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and the rise of a new grassroots directed party with Dean at the helm:

"Dean won't be alone. The progressive infrastructure that helped keep Kerry alive and began crafting a sharper Democratic message--America Votes, Progressive Majority, Camp Wellstone, Democracy for America, Center for American Progress, Air America Radio, Media Matters, the blogosphere--now exerts a greater degree of influence, bankrolled by new, wealthy outsiders and small donors who share similar goals. George Soros and Peter Lewis have pledged $100 million over the next fifteen years to support a permanent idea factory rivaling right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the mushy centrism of the DLC's Progressive Policy Institute. 'We've come to represent a way of doing politics that is dangerous to people in DC who have a nice little niche,' says executive director Eli Pariser. 'Bringing in the grassroots will mean a loss of influence for some of the establishment folks.'"

March 05, 2005

Press room politics

Russell Mokhiber of Common Dreams throws McClellan a curveball--"Does the pesident believe in Commandment No. 6--'Thou shalt not kill'--as it applies to the U.S. invasion of Iraq?"

I was sitting next to him November 17th when he asked this question:

MOKHIBER: Kofi Annan, in September, he said that the war in Iraq is an illegal war. If it's an illegal war, then the 100,000 who have died there, according to the Johns Hopkins School, are victims of war crimes. Now, the President is going to Canada later this year, and the largest circulation newspaper in Canada yesterday wrote a column, printed a column titled "Should Canada Indict Bush?" -- raising question of a war crimes prosecution. They have a war crimes law in Canada. And I'm wondering, has the general counsel --
MR. McCLELLAN: Do you have a question, or is this just a statement of opinion?
MOKHIBER: It's a question. Has the White House Counsel looked at the President's legal exposure to a war crimes prosecution?
MR. McCLELLAN: Russ, I think that it's a ridiculous question that you bring up. You were out on the Nader campaign, I think, at the time when this issue came up, and we addressed it at that time. And I'm not going to go back through it again.

It was impossible transcribing the gaggle for Talk Radio News because McClellan was so effective at making his responses free of any useful information.

Yes, they let me in the press room. And I'm not even a prostitute for the military.

I'm in the Press Room, derp!
Why do I look like I'm 14?

March 04, 2005

Cyber dissidents

"A California judge said in a preliminary ruling that bloggers should not have the same protection afforded to journalists under US law."


"Web logs have become a popular forum for dissent. And the Iranian government has responded by arresting dozens of bloggers."

Government backed killing

"A top militia leader says the Sudan government backed and directed Janjaweed activities in northern Darfur, according to a videotape released by Human Rights Watch today...

Hilal states that the government of Sudan directed all military activities of the militia forces he had recruited. 'All of the people in the field are led by top army commanders,' he told Human Rights Watch on videotape. '…These people get their orders from the Western command center, and from Khartoum.'

'Musa Hilal squarely contradicts the government's claim that it has 'no relationship' with local militias,' said Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Africa division.'"

What you can do about Darfur.

Good news?

"The United States bowed to global opposition today at a United Nations conference on women's equality and dropped its insistence that a document being put to a vote later in the day include an antiabortion amendment."

...but apparently delegates stopped pushing for an amendment because they thought they'd reached an understanding with UN leaders. Reminds me of something Jeb Bush said in Florida after the gay marriage initiatives, that an amendment would be redundant when coupled with the DOMA, which already sufficiently "defended" marriage.

March 03, 2005

"Fear and loathing in the blogosphere"

Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo journalism as a precurser to blogging.

Purple ocean

Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern envisions a global labor movement. The NYTimes Magazine had a good article on the future of unions and the future of the democratic party--the two run parallel, and right now they're both in a rut.

Stern calls for progressive change:

"The economic policy of the Democratic Party, he says, ''is basically being opposed to Republicans and protecting the New Deal. It makes me realize how vibrant the Republicans are in creating 21st-century ideas, and how sad it is that we're defending 60-year-old ideas.'' Like big labor, Stern says, the party needs to challenge its orthodoxy -- and its interest groups -- if it wants to put forward a program that makes sense for new-economy workers."

He proposed to divert half the AFL-CIO's funds into organizing a revolutionary union movement, but the idea was voted down . Stern had threatened to leave the AFL-CIO, but he hasn't said yet if he will stick to that plan.

Join the Purple Ocean.

March 02, 2005

If the world ended tonight...

I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it--our life--hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.

But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever how beautiful it would become again! Ah! if only the cataclysm doesn't happen this time, we won't miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X, making a trip to India.

The cataclysm doesn't happen, we don't do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn't have needed the cataclysm to love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.

-Marcel Proust

"Journalists are beach combers of other people's intelligence."

Bill Moyers is my hero.

Seeing him live the other night reaffirmed my commitment to journalism. He described the ideal journalist as being someone who is disciplined, insatiable curious, and a good student--one that takes a test and quickly forgets the information, moving onto the next thing. He said "journalists get paid to write things they know nothing about" and that he thinks of himself as an "amateur--a lover of all things."

He contrasted journalism with poetry--something else I love. He described poetry as a medium that allows much more freedom and unabashed truth than journalism. Journalists are bound by caution, lest they become pundits.

The audience was riveted, you could hear the collective "hmphs" of thoughtful assent, the warmth of admiration palpable in the packed auditorium. He spoke with such clarity and honesty, with insight and profundity but without pretense. We really need more like him.

My little town

Mavericks Surf Competition

To Be of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

-Marge Piercy