Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why does Hillary hate the Democratic Party?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

a) Because the Clintons, Bill and Hillary alike, are out for themselves, not their party.

b) Because, while she was once the sure-thing nominee, the party has decided to go with Obama, who is ahead according to every meaningful metric.

c) Because she's been trying to change the rules in the middle of the race and the party won't let her.

d) Because the very sensible compromise approved by the DNC today regarding Florida and Michigan isn't what she wanted, which was whatever would benefit her the most at Obama's expense.

e) Because of all of the above.

Answer below, at end of post.


I don't have much to say about today's DNC decision to seat all of the Florida and Michigan delegates at the convention, each with half a vote, as I have already addressed the issue at length here and here. (See also Creature's post on the day's events.)

I suppose it was necessary to find a way to seat the two delegations -- from two key states, which is key (would the DNC have worked out such a belated compromise if the controversy had involved, say, Rhode Island and Idaho?) -- and, indeed, this was probably the best resolution to the compromise the DNC could have reached. Essentially halving the results in Florida makes a lot of sense, given that none of the major candidates campaigned there. Hillary was pushing for a more favourable resolution in Michigan, where she was the only major candidate on the ballot, beating "Uncommitted," but, in the end, the DNC rightly found a way to seat the state's delegates without penalizing Obama.

Here's how it works out in terms of pledged delegates:

Florida: Hillary 105, Obama 67

Michigan: Hillary 69, Obama 59

Hillary picks up a net total of 48 delegates. As each delegate will have half a vote, this works out to 24 delegates/votes at the convention.

Which means, of course, that Obama is still ahead. According to the AP, the delegate totals are now:

Obama: 2,052

Hillary: 1,877.5

The new magic number is 2,118. Obama needs 66 delegates to reach that number. And he can reach it over the next few days, with the last primaries set for Puerto Rico tomorrow and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday.


Needless to say, the Clintonites aren't happy, and one of the top Hillarylanders, Harold Ickes, who is actually a member of the party's Rules Committee, suggested that the fight would go on.

Yes, Hillary and her people are insane, delusional, and destructive of the Democratic Party and its hopes for November. To call them sore losers is a massive understatement.

And it's not just Hillary and her people, it's her supporters, too, many of whom took to the streets against the DNC. TNR's Eve Fairbanks reports:

Howard Dean may hope that the "healing will begin today," but two blocks away from the northwest Washington Marriott where the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting right now to try to figure out Florida and Michigan, the Hillary protesters are occupying an utterly alternate (and healing-free) universe: a universe in which one of the big lawn rally's speakers yells that the Democratic Party no longer is in the business of "promoting equality and fairness for all"; in which a Hillary supporter with two poodles shouts, "Howard Dean is a leftist freak!"; in which a man exhibits a sign that reads "At least slaves were counted as 3/5ths a Citizen" and shows Dean whipping handcuffed people; and in which Larry Sinclair, the Minnesota man who took to YouTube to allege that Barack Obama had oral sex with him in the back of a limousine in 1999, is one of the belles of the ball.


Has it come to this? We tend to assume the Hillary camp's hot rhetoric--that Obama's less ready than McCain to be commander-in-chief, that the DNC in Florida is like Mugabe in Zimbabwe--is studied, purposeful, that they can't really believe it. That may be true at the Lanny Davis level, but by the time it trickles down to Hillary's most grassroots supporters, it becomes deadly serious.

I suspect (hope?) that most of Hillary's supporters aren't like this. I suspect (hope?) that most of them will put aside whatever lingering anger and frustration they have and vote for Obama in November.

The simple fact is, their candidate lost. Hillary lost.

It was a long, tough, and sometimes bitter race, but that's just the way it is.

With high-ranking Hillarylanders like Ickes and Lanny Davis still pushing for a fight, however, and with so many Hillary supporters refusing to put aside their anger and frustration, and, it seems, unwilling to vote for Obama (and prepared to vote for McCain, whether out of spite or because they really do prefer McCain to Obama, as crazy as that is), I'm not sure that simple facts about the way it is are enough to put an end to this madness.

Hopefully -- hopefully -- Hillary will do what she needs to do and bow out gracefully once the primaries are over with the votes in Montana and South Dakota next Tuesday.


Answer: e (obviously).

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Why does Obama hate religion?

By Creature

Some interesting news coming from AMERICAblogs' Jacki Schechner. She says Senator Obama has resigned from his Chicago church. I guess it was just one too many outspoken pastors to deal with politically. I'm not sure how much this helps (though, I do think it helps a little) seeing as how Obama's detractors will still scream about him sitting in pews for 20 years without protesting the crazy. For some that narrative will never die.

Update -- Lynn Sweet confirms: Obama no longer believes in god.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Florida and Michigan in the balance

By Creature

I'm watching the DNC committee meeting and I'm finding it strangely compelling. Whatever the outcome, I'm sure outrage will be had and lies will be spun. Our democracy hangs in the balance. Or not.

Update: Florida gets its full delegation seated at half value. Even Harold Ickes is on board. It's a shame the Clinton supporters in the audience are not

Update II: Ickes is not going down quietly on Michigan. Hillary Clinton has reserved her right to take Michigan to the credentials committee. We are fighting until Denver. Oy.

Update III: Michigan is to be fully restored with one half vote. Clinton gets 69 delegates and Obama gets 59 delegates. The Michigan democratic party is on board, yet the Clinton folks are not. They will be belligerent to the end (just like their McCain-heckling supporters).

Update IV: I guess what really matters here is not what the Clinton's do, it's that they have lost (the primary and their control on the party). The Michigan/Florida debacle is settled to everyone's liking except for the Clinton camp. It's over and in all likelihood Barack Obama will clinch the nomination Tuesday night.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Understanding Your FBI

By Carol Gee

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is 100 years old this year. To commemorate the occasion the website features the story of the violent death of Bonnie and Clyde, folks who came from my current neck of the woods.

Prowling around the FBI website turned up some interesting finds. First was the page for the National Security Branch. National Security Letters made the news last March. Breaking news yesterday regarded the formation of a Northern Virginia Public Corruption/Government Fraud Task Force. Let's hope that they can give us some genuine protection before the big elections in the fall.

Around the Internet -- The search term "fbi" returned 57,600,000 entries, including - of course - Wikipedia's. I feel sure that the FBI has someone assigned to monitor the Wiki site to assure accuracy, given that they had 28,576 employees in 2004. The FBI seems almost ubiquitous. And we are told that every single one of them is out there to protect us in some way.

Just so you can't say you didn't know -- The 2008 Republican National Convention is September 1-4, in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. -- Depending whether you inside or outside of the fence at the Republican Convention, this news will hit you from opposite psychological directions.

If you are a Democrat you need to know from,* (5/26/08) that the "FBI [is] Recruiting Infiltrators for GOP Convention Protesters." To quote:

This gets complicated. According to - City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Moles Wanted, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is recruiting people to infiltrate anti-GOP protest groups in the run-up to the upcoming Republican convention.

The law is clear that police may attend public meetings undercover to see what people are up to. And of course undercover operations in private settings are also legal, although there should be guidelines as to when they are appropriate. And of course it’s good citizenship for private citizens to report crimes when they witness them.

Republicans have been informed,via the Top Ten questions section of the convention website, to quote Number 5, emphasis mine:

How will people who live and work in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area be affected during the week of the convention? Detailed planning for a major event like this is obviously very important - and I want to assure you that we will have comprehensive transportation and security plans in place. . . Most convention guests will be transported to and from official events using mass transit, mainly in the form of buses, which will minimize the number of vehicles using the roadways during the event.

Security plans formulated after September 11, 2001 did not, in my opinion, include nearly enough protections for civil liberties. And that is where the United States lost its way. This story from (5/27) Dissident Voice* on torture makes it clear that torture was known about and eventually condoned at all levels of government, including the FBI, from early on in the Bush administration. The FBI did speak up or a time, but they were no match for the rest of the group.

*Hat tip to"betmo" for the *items. I always appreciate that she knows so well what I like.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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The end, or three more months of sour grapes

By Creature

Democratic consultant Chris Kofinis sees Senator Clinton riding a pony into the sunset:

"After June 3, you're going to see a wave of superdelegates beginning to go Obama's way," said Democratic consultant Chris Kofinis, an aide to former U.S. Sen. John Edwards during his presidential bid this year.

"And when Sen. Obama reaches the magic number, whenever that is, Sen. Clinton is going to do what every Democrat will do -- acknowledge he is the Democratic nominee and help unify the party to defeat John McCain in November."

I will be very surprised (and willing to eat a ton of crow) if Sen. Clinton does what every Democrat will do. See, technically the magic number isn't reached until the votes are counted on the convention floor, and since Senator Clinton has been running on technicalities for months, I do not see her stopping now.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rachael Ray, Dunkin' Donuts, and the bigoted lunacy of Michelle Malkin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You want insane? This is insane:

Dunkin' Donuts has pulled an online advertisement featuring Rachael Ray after complaints that a fringed black-and-white scarf that the celebrity chef wore in the ad offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.

The coffee and baked goods chain said the ad that began appearing online May 7 was pulled over the past weekend because "the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee."

In the spot, Ray holds an iced coffee while standing in front of trees with pink blossoms.

Take a look at the image. Do you find it offensive? If so, how?

Oh, because Rachael Ray's scarf looks like a keffiyeh? And because such Arab headdresses, worn by men, are offensive? Did that even cross you mind?

Well, it crossed the "mind" of at least one bigoted right-wing lunatic, Michelle Malkin, who claimed, in response to the ad, that the keffiyeh "has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad."

Right, sure. And of course Rachael Ray -- she of 30-minute meal fame, she who has introduced EVOO, yum-o, and delish to our culinary lexicon -- is so easily mistaken for Yasser Arafat or your generic al Qaeda beheader.

It's a fucking coffee ad! For Dunkin' Donuts!

In point of fact -- if I may respond to Malkin's bigoted lunacy from the perspective of, you know, reality -- a keffiyeh is a common piece of clothing of many variations. Yes, Arafat wore one and it become, in a way, associated with Palestinian nationalism, and, no, Malkin isn't the first to link it to jihadist terrorism, but, as a University of Chicago anthropologist put it, in response to Malkin's response to the ad, "making an association between a kaffiyeh and terrorism is just an example of how so much of the complexity of Arab culture has been reduced to a very narrow vision of the Arab world on the part of some people in the U.S. Kaffiyehs are worn every day on the street by Palestinians and other people in the Middle East -- by people going to work, going to school, taking care of their families, and just trying to keep warm."

But, then, such reality is lost on the Malkins of the world, those who associate not just a piece of clothing but much of Muslim life with terrorism.

But this assumes that the scarf Rachael Ray is wearing in the ad is actually a keffiyeh. It isn't. It's a fucking scarf!

Now, all this happened several days ago. Since Malkin's complaining, Dunkin' Donuts has dropped the ad. Malkin has praised the company for the move, but, as a once-frequent consumer of its products (I went to college in the Boston area), and as one who prefers reality to bigotry-based lunacy, I'm appalled.

And my friend Steve Benen, updating the story today, gets it right -- right in the title of his post: "Dunkin’ Donuts caves to the right’s fear of clothing accessories." And he reminds of just how offensive Malkin is, she who actually compared the keffiyah to a KKK hood, as if all Arab men are akin to white supremacist lynchers.

"I think I need a scarf to keep my jaw from hitting the floor," says our Capt. Fogg over at The Impolitic.

Alas, it's just more of the same, the all-too-predictable same, from Malkin and her right-wing ilk.

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To Libby

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Be well, Libby. Our thoughts are with you.

-- all of us at The Reaction


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The backpedal begins

By Carl

I'm not sure who is in charge of "message" in the Obama campaign, but
this smacks of silliness:

WASHINGTON — With his experience and leadership credentials under sharp criticism, Senator Barack Obama and his advisers are trying to clarify what has emerged as a central tenet of his proposed foreign policy: a willingness to meet leaders of enemy nations.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, sought to emphasize, as he and his aides have done continually over the last few days, the difference between avoiding preconditions for talks with nations like Iran and Syria, and granting them automatic discussions at the presidential level.

While Mr. Obama has said he would depart from the Bush administration policy of refusing to meet with certain nations unless they meet preconditions, he has also said he would reserve the right to choose which leaders he would meet, should he choose to meet with them at all.

Let me get this straight: after six months of chiding from Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Dodd, Richardson, and now, John McCain, someone in Barack Obama's campaign finally woke up at 2 AM a couple of nights ago, slapped his forehead and said "HOLY SHIT! "NO PRECONDITIONS"???? WHAT ARE WE, IDIOTS?"

Now, "no preconditions" means "no preconditions," unless you are putting preconditions on the word "preconditions". Sort of like, "Depends on what your definition of 'is', is."

Apparently, it didn't really mean "no preconditions".

This is a rookie campaign being run by highly inexperienced operatives, and I can almost bet that by Denver (if not, after), Obama will be asked to make some serious changes to his senior staffing.

Or, to put it in flip flop terms, he was FOR appeasing Iran BEFORE he was against it:

This week, Mr. Obama said that he was still considering meeting with Iranian leaders, though he would not necessarily guarantee a direct meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

“There is no reason why we would necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad before we know that he is actually in power,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “He is not the most powerful person in Iran.”

Last week, Mr. Obama offered a similarly nuanced explanation about meeting with President Raúl Castro of Cuba, saying he would do so only “at a time and place of my choosing.”

The caveats belie the simple answer Mr. Obama gave during a debate last summer, when the issue was first raised in a major public forum. Without hesitation or qualification, Mr. Obama said he would hold direct talks with America’s enemies, drawing strong and immediate criticism from his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?” asked Stephen Sixta, a video producer who submitted the question for the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate.

Mr. Obama, the first candidate to respond, answered, “I would.”

Several aides immediately thought it was a mistake and sought to dial back his answer. But on a conference call the morning after the debate, Mr. Obama told his advisers that he had meant what he said and thought the answer crystallized how he differed from his rivals.

“I think that it is an example of how stunted our foreign policy debates have become over the last eight years that this is an issue that political opponents try to seize on,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on Wednesday. “It is actually a pretty conventional view of how diplomacy should work traditionally that has fallen into disrepute in Republican circles and in Washington.”

Even after Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called his position naïve, Mr. Obama refused to shy away from it, at times speaking explicitly in terms of a potential meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

In other words, it would give Ahmadinejad a lot more credibility with the world community than it would with the US government and would do more for Iran than it would do for America, which is an awful way to go about diplomacy, which has long been defined as the art of letting someone get your way.

Now, at no time during this or any subsequent debate or Q&A on this point has Obama ever amended this statement: attack the conventional way of diplomacy and "no preconditions" to meeting world leaders.

So apparently, Senator Obama has come to his senses and joined the "reality based" community of conventional realpolitik!

Now if only the Democratic Party would come to its senses...

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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The unbearable banality of David Brooks

By non sequitur

Let's begin with what's really important here: myself. I've changed my nom de blog from jeffaclitus (or whatever it was the last time I posted all those months ago) to non sequitur. He not busy being born is busy dying, Only he who changes stays akin to me, etc.

I haven't posted much in the past year or so, but I couldn't resist a quasi-public forum to ridicule this column by David Brooks. Brooks's basic argument is that nerds have gone from pathetic wedgies-in-waiting to confident cultural icons.

But even as “Revenge of the Nerds” was gracing the nation’s movie screens, a different version of nerd-dom was percolating through popular culture. Elvis Costello and The Talking Heads’s David Byrne popularized a cool geek style that’s led to Moby, Weezer, Vampire Weekend and even self-styled “nerdcore” rock and geeksta rappers.

Hey, thanks for alerting us to the existence of Elvis Costello and David Byrne. Oh, but wait--Vampire Weekend! Uh-oh, someone knows a kid in college. But what about the Decembrists? Are they not nerd enough or not cool enough? Or did they just not show up in Brooks's frantic googling of "cool nerds"?

The future historians of the nerd ascendancy will likely note that the great empowerment phase began in the 1980s with the rise of Microsoft and the digital economy. Nerds began making large amounts of money and acquired economic credibility, the seedbed of social prestige. The information revolution produced a parade of highly confident nerd moguls — Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and so on.

Yeah, you're right. No one has ever made fun of someone who knows a lot about computers. Certainly not Bill Gates.

But the biggest change was not Silicon Valley itself. Rather, the new technology created a range of mental playgrounds where the new geeks could display their cultural capital. The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds. Now there are armies of designers, researchers, media mavens and other cultural producers with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis.

I never thought I'd say this, but we're looking at the poor man's Tom Friedman. Where Friedman parades a long-list of well-known and well-placed people he "was just talking to at Davos," all reiterating the same twenty-year old platitude about globalization to which Friedman's devoted his column (and which he delivers with all the breathless enthusiasm his 90 IQ can muster), Brooks just lists a series of, well, not-very-recent technological and internet developments, apparently thinking that this shows him to be astonishingly au courant (what is this "Facebook" of which you speak?). Because nothing says "I know all the cultural trends" like suggesting an intrinsic link between text messaging and nerdery (or geekdom). Who's the purest embodiment of nerd chic you know? Idk, my bff jill?

Then there's Brooks's description of these new "cultural producers
with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis." I mean, come on. I don't know anybody like that. I mean, I'm certainly nothing like that...just because I blog under the name "non sequitur" and have already made snarky references to Vampire Weekend and the idk girl...

They can visit eclectic sites like and Cool Hunting, experiment with fonts, admire Stewart Brand and Lawrence Lessig and join social-networking communities with ironical names.

Seriously, this line made me laugh out loud. Oh, those kids, with their ironical names. And their experiments with fonts. In my day it was mind-altering drugs, but hey, times change.

There's really not much point in quoting and mocking the rest of the article. My favorite part comes at the end; it's a line set off from the rest of the article, written in italics: Paul Krugman is off today. It almost reads as an apology. In any case, it should.

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A brief update on what the Democratic Party is doing about the roguery of Florida and Michigan

By Michael J.W. Stickings


Democratic Party lawyers have determined that no more than half the delegates from Florida and Michigan can be seated at the party’s August convention, dealing a blow to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s efforts to seat the full delegations from those states.

The rules committee of the Democratic National Committee meets on Saturday to determine whether to seat the delegates from these states, which were penalized for holding early primaries.

Half? Yes, at most. (See a background post on what to do about Florida and Michigan here.)

Why? Let's remind ourselves of the facts:

1) This wasn't Obama's doing, and, contrary to Hillary's not-too-subtle allegations, he isn't to blame.

2) The DNC set the rules (way back in August 2006), Florida and Michigan broke the rules, the DNC penalized Florida and Michigan. (It's that simple.)

3) With the exception of Mike Gravel, the candidates agreed not to campaign in Florida prior to the primary there on January 29. Hillary held three fundraisers two days before the vote, however, and then went there to declare victory, but it was in no way a meaningful victory because it was in no way a meaningful contest.

4) While Hillary decided to remain on the ballot in Michigan, along with Dodd and Gravel, Obama and several other candidates (including Edwards, Richardson, and Biden) withdrew from the primary in October 2007 and had their names taken off the ballot for the January 15 primary. (Kucinich tried but failed to get his name removed.) As with Florida, Hillary and her campaign and her surrogates have declared victory, but, again, it was in no way a meaningful victory. In second and third place, respectively, were "Uncommitted" and "Undecided."

And now Hillary wants those results to count? Well, of course. She wants both the delegates and the popular vote totals, both of which would count in her favour.

Here's how I put it the night of the Florida primary (before I had endorsed Obama): "So Hillary played along with the ruling, avoiding Florida, until it was in her self-interest, after her bad loss to Obama in South Carolina, not to. And, in declaring victory in what was a non-competitive race, she now wants the vote to count, for Florida to get its allocation of delegates after all? What do you think she'd be saying -- what do you think her husband would be saying -- if Obama were trying to pull a stunt like this? Or what if Obama had simply won and was respecting the ruling? There wouldn't be a peep out of the Clintons. And so she's declaring victory and her supporters are lapping it up. It's all quite despicable. She wants the delegates, but she also wants the momentum heading into next week's Super Tuesday. And apparently she'll stop at nothing to get it."

But, you see, this is Clintonian ethics at work: When you're losing, change the rules... and go back on your word and do what you said you wouldn't do... and smear your opponents... and play fast and loose with the truth... and claim to be the victim of a massive conspiracy.

If nothing else, this long and sometimes bitter race has shown us what makes the Clintons tick.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Landing on Mars was a 50-50 chance

By Carol Gee

(NASA image -- Mars "Sol Zero")

The Phoenix mission's planners thought it was going to be that tough and so did I. All of us who are long time "space junkies" sat through another nail-biter as the robotic effort played out millions of miles away on the polar ice cap of the planet Mars. "NASA's Phoenix Spacecraft Lands at Martian Arctic Site" was NASA's understated news release title. To quote from the story about how difficult the challenge was expected to be:

Among those in the JPL control room was NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, who noted this was the first successful Mars landing without airbags since Viking 2 in 1976.

"For the first time in 32 years, and only the third time in history, a JPL team has carried out a soft landing on Mars," Griffin said. "I couldn't be happier to be here to witness this incredible achievement."

. . . Phoenix uses hardware from a spacecraft built for a 2001 launch that was canceled in response to the loss of a similar Mars spacecraft during a 1999 landing attempt. Researchers who proposed the Phoenix mission in 2002 saw the unused spacecraft as a resource for pursuing a new science opportunity. Earlier in 2002, Mars Odyssey discovered that plentiful water ice lies just beneath the surface throughout much of high-latitude Mars. NASA chose the Phoenix proposal over 24 other proposals to become the first endeavor in the Mars Scout program of competitively selected missions.

Space junkie bloggers are having fun with the news. "Heaving Mars," was the clever post title by DarkSyde at DailyKos; it refers to frost heaving. A Texas Kaos post, "Phoenix has landed on Mars," has some good video links by "boadicea," a proud grad of the University of Arizona. Robert Roy Britt at Live Science blogs on Space and Astronomy worries that talk of life on Mars will start up again.

This mission is scheduled to be active for about three months. It is a study in organizational cooperation between NASA's launching the lander, Lockheed Martin developing the spacecraft, and the contributing academic community. Peter Smith of the University of Arizona is the principal investigator for the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first winner of NASA's Scout Program competition among 20+ proposals. Washington University in St. Louis is also deeply involved in this Mars weather study.

NASA's latest report says that communication has successfully been reestablished between Mars and Earth, after period of being on standby for some unknown reason. It is through this complicated communication that we have the privilege of seeing the imagery from the Phoenix mission that is so spectacular!

Hungry for more pics? Tariq Malik at, reports on "The Top 10 Martian Landings of All Time," culminating with kudos to Mars rovers, "Spirit" and "Opportunity." To quote:

Reaching Mars is a hard and unforgiving endeavor, with little room for error. More than two-thirds of the 36 missions launched toward Mars have been lost due to failed components, rocket glitches or grievous errors that sent probes crashing into the martian surface or missing the planet altogether.


NASA May 27 News Items from FLORIDA SPACErePORT. This post includes good summaries of:

  • the comparison of what Iraq war spending could have purchased for the space program;
  • the space program as a progressive cause for the Netroots Nation;
  • plans by Russia and Europe to build new manned spacecraft;
  • Senator Nelson on Presidential candidates and space policy; and
  • the latest news about Soyuz.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Radio listeners diss McCain's Mini-Me

By J. Thomas Duffy

This had me rolling on the floor.

Stumbling around the WWW, I came across the post "Joe Lieberman Is Ann Coulter" over at No More Mister Nice Guy, and included in it was this list.

It comes from NPR's All Things Considered's ongoing series "Vocal Impressions":

"In "Vocal Impressions," a monthly contest, listeners provide word pictures brought to mind by distinctive voices."

They put it out in their latest offering, the voice of McCain's Mini-Me, Senator Joe Lieberman (R-I, CT).

It's hysterical!

Joe Lieberman

A flat tire on a Segway

A soggy brown paper bag

A turtle standing on a stack of telephone books

A grease stain on a new silk blouse

Max White [the father character on the TV show Alf] reprimanding Alf for trying to eat the family cat, Lucky

The straining engine of a previously owned Yugo

An exhausted math teacher who needs to explain what a square is for the Nth time

A person suggesting we form another committee to look into a "mission statement" after a two-hour meeting

The fine, boring, important print in your insurance policy

Ben Stein being smothered with a pillow by Ralph Nader

A dog's squeak toy after the squeak has been removed

The cowardly lion's petite weaselly, older brother

A discarded banana peel

Like Gumby and Pokey were his speech therapists

As to Steve M.'s post, hitting on Mini-Me Lieberman for his continued embrace of the Final Days Minister, John Hagee:

I think there's a real possibility that he'll go too far. His trajectory is starting to look a bit like Ann Coulter's -- every criticism generates an even greater desire to provoke, and no apology is ever forthcoming.

The problem is, when you're provoking at this level of public scrutiny (i.e., if you're more mainstream than, say, Michael Savage), you eventually find yourself, like Coulter, regularly testing the limits, and eventually you go over the edge, with the mainstream press watching, because you're just in a unilateral rhetorical arms race. Coulter went over the edge when she started fag-baiting heterosexual Democratic politicians while declaring Jews "incomplete" Christians (along with attacking 9/11 widows and embracing McCarthy); Lieberman, I think, is just going to keep backing Hagee (and probably other Christian Zionists) ever more publicly while making increasingly strident McCarthyite attacks on Democrats until, by November, I expect to see him in the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal or on a Sunday talk show saying flatly, "Yes, I do think Barack Obama hates his country and would like to see it destroyed." His buddies in the media, like Coulter's, will continue to see him as not having gone too far, but it will be increasingly clear, particularly to Senate colleagues, that he's gone too far.

Maybe Stumblin Bumblin' John McCain's Mini-Me Lieberman can be talked into, when he speaks at Hagee's summit, doing it in costume, say, as Gumby or Pokey ... Or a soggy brown paper bag ...


Bonus Links

Lieberman’s capacity to be a Republican hack knows no bounds

Biden Slaps Down McCain's Mini-Me

Garlictorial: Why Wait - Toss Lieberman Over To The GOP Now!

Breaking News! Lieberman Pledges To Support “Whichever Party Elects Me”; Post-Debate Bombshell - Lieberman Announces Plan C – Will Run In All 50 States; Hires Nader For ‘Underdog” Experience; Pledges To Support “Whichever Party Elects Me”


Crooks and Liars: It’s confirmed. Lieberman is still speaking at Hagee’s July CUFI Summit

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Good luck with that, Chief!

By Carl

The key issues of this Fall's campaign will largely center on the shepherding that George W. Bush has done, or more correctly, not done, these past seven years.

Too bad for John McCain, of course.
Still he'll try:

When President Bush ventured here for a private fundraiser with John McCain on Tuesday night, his first real campaign appearance with the presumptive GOP nominee, the event was closed to the news media and their only joint public appearance was a photo op on the airport tarmac that lasted less than a minute.

The same ground rules will cover Bush's trip to Utah on Wednesday, where he will appear with former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to woo big-money Republican donors to McCain's cause.

The fleeting public appearances of an unpopular president on behalf of the potential heir to the leadership of the Republican Party underscore the delicate balance for McCain, who is trying to appeal to a restless GOP base that continues to embrace the president while reaching out to moderates and independents who want to move beyond the Bush administration. For now, the senator from Arizona remains locked in a tight race for the White House -- evidence that Americans see him as a brand apart from the GOP.

Democrats are not big on the "re-branding stuff," in other words, and so will have much work to do to make John McCain seem like the second coming of Dumbya.

Bush has one and only one major asset to lend the GOP and John McCain: his Rolodex. Here is a man who last night raised $3 million for the campaign. That's staggering when you realize that Obama has to work hard to pull in a million a day. Too, campaign finance rules have been loosened a little in that the
party can now spend more money touting the presidential candidate than ever before.

Despite the tumbling poll numbers for Bush and the Republicans in general, John McCain remains competitive against either of the Democratic candidates, with Clinton holding a slightly better advantage overall. Bush and his party hover somewhere in the low 30s. McCain consistently pulls in the mid-40s.

That's a testament to two things: First, his ability to appear on programs like The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live and not look lost in the camera, and second, his maverick image still sticks around, despite this photo:

Staggeringly, Obama is running a full ten points behind the Democratic Party in terms of his poll numbers. This is likely a testament to the fact that his candidacy represents a distinct disconnect between the kind of candidate the Democrats have actively sought over the past two elections cycles and Obama's more liberal policies and voting records (as well as the personal predicaments he has put himself in).

In short, it's going to take Obama a lot of effort to define himself for the general election, precious resources that could be used to combat McCain's image, and define McCain ahead of his campaign. It's clear that his image and Bush's image are not the same. That's going to be a very tough sell.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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If not the Senate and House, then who?

By Carol Gee

What we know is that the Bush administration has failed during its two terms of office. News of porous borders and corrupted Homeland Security personnel does not need to make the front page of The New York Times for us to understand the executive branch's failure. A trip to fill up your vehicle points out legislative failure at oversight and regulation of the oil industry. If not the executive and the legislative branches, what about the judicial branch of our government?

Several Supreme Court decisions in recent years have raised a great deal of controversy, the most damaging one was the decision that gave the 2000 presidential election to the new "corporatocracy" that married government to corporations for the benefit of the very few. At the very least the clearly divided court's decisions garnered little public support for the ultimate judicial outcomes.

What are these failures about? At a minimum such failure results in low public approval ratings, so low that McCain has to figure out how to distance himself from the failed Bush administration. According to the 5/27/08 story from Reuters, "The Reuters/Zogby poll last week found Bush's approval rating had fallen 4 percentage points to 23 percent, a record low for pollster John Zogby. Congress fared even worse, however, falling 5 points to 11 percent."

What is the big deal? At what did so many fail? The failure was to properly uphold and protect the Constitution. What happens when a Constitution lacks the weight of authority? Then who is left?

That leaves just us, the people. We are left to make the best of the bad deal we have gotten, as L.A. Times columnist Meghan Daum writes that "Recession has its benefits." No kidding, that is the headline. And veterans in East Texas better not have PTSD, because that diagnosis does not have much standing at a local Vets' office.

Without the rule of law that allows no citizen to be above the law, we have anarchy. Historically, empires have fallen and nations have failed under similar circumstances.

Are you now convinced that it is time to get involved in the upcoming U.S. elections -- all of them?

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Childe Barack

By Capt. Fogg

My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.

-- Robert Browning


When does enough become too damned much? Immediately, when we're talking about any US election and this one is exceptional only in that it went over the top before it even started. The latest bit of fake outrage at the Republican "he said, she said" buffet is that Barack Obama told a whopper when he said an uncle of his helped liberate Auschwitz. The man actually participated in the liberation of Buchenwald.

No straw lacks enough buoyancy to be grasped at by the party drowning in its own deceit.

Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief,

said RNC spokesman and ethical cripple Alex Conant. No, they don't, but he wishes they did. He wishes they would raise the kind of doubts that should have prevented the coke and booze-addled serial failure, cynical liar and duty shirker George Walker Bush from being elected to public office. George, the guy who promised to keep us out of foreign conflicts and nation building and to restore honor and dignity to the Presidency.

grandmother's brother, was a member of the US 89th infantry division that went into Buchenwald and that's a fact. It has no more or less significance than if it had been another camp, although of course Auschwitz is in Poland and was liberated by the Russians. No honest man could identify this as a lie, but then we're talking about Republicans.

No candidate's programs, promises, plans or platforms ever survive first contact with reality anyway, It's all for show, but if Obama is being dishonest by naming the wrong concentration camp and George Bush was honest by claiming he had never been arrested for drunk driving, then it's time to stop talking about honesty and begin talking about gross, offensive hyperbole and ruthless hypocrisy. It's time to get real about who's exaggerating and how it reflects on the GOP and its candidates.

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To bomb Iran or not to bomb Iran? And is there a conspiracy afoot?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For what it's worth, Asia Times Online is reporting is reporting that Bush "plans to launch an air strike against Iran within the next two months," this according to "an informed source" later described as "a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously."

My friend Cernig thinks the source is Richard Armitage, which was my first thought. Who else could it be? Not Robert Zoellick, who is currently head of the World Bank. And not Lawrence Eagleburger, because he was actually secretary of state at the very end of Bush I's presidency -- although he is more of a "career diplomat" than Armitage is. Not Strobe Talbott, a former journalist who is now head of the Brookings Institution (and a Clinton friend). And not Clifton Wharton, who is an economist. (The latter two were in office during the Clinton presidency.)

Actually, though, there is no such thing as as "assistant secretary of state." Below the secretary of state is, most immediately, the deputy secretary of state and, reporting to the deputy, various under-secretaries. Evidently, ATO got it wrong.

But did it get the story wrong? Maybe not, but why did the source go to ATO and not, say, to an American publication? And what was the point of the leak?


Unless it was Talbott, Clinton friend, who is, on Hillary's behalf, trying to drum up attention to a possible war with Iran in order to shift the media narrative away from Obama's presumptive nomination and, with superdelegates and electability in mind, back towards an ominous issue that might favour Hillary?

(And it would go like this: If war with Iran is imminent, suddenly war with Iran becomes the #1 issue in the general election -- surpassing both Iraq and the economy. McCain, it is supposed (by the media, but also by Hillary), has the necessary foreign policy and national security credentials. Obama, it is supposed (by Hillary, and less so by the media), is weak on foreign policy and national security -- Remember Hillary's infamous 3 am phone-call ad? Remember Hillary saying McCain is more qualified to be president than Obama? If war with Iran is both imminent and the #1 issue in the general election, the superdelegates would have to rethink things. A lot. Suddenly Hillary would look a lot more appealing. Perhaps Obama's poll numbers would go down. Perhaps doubt would creep all around the Democratic Party. Perhaps the media would start talking up Hillary's candidacy again. After all, if Obama couldn't match McCain on Iran -- he would no doubt be in favour of war and would have the alleged gravitas to back it up -- but Hillary could, wouldn't Hillary be the more desirable nominee? Wouldn't going with Hillary be the only way to stop the Republicans from keeping the White House? Well, so it is supposed, according to this Hillary-friendly scenario. As an Obama supporter, I don't agree with it, but I can see how others would. And I can see how Hillary would do such a thing to get elected.)

Or is that just way too conspiratorial?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The mouthpiece strikes back

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From The Politico's isn't-this-exciting (?!) preview of What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception:

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

And that there was a Rove-Libby conspiracy to deceive the public, and McClellan himself, over their their roles in the Plame Game (you remember, the Valerie Plame CIA leak case).

Well, fine. Guest blogger dday at Kevin Drum's place thinks we could be in for a reputation-saving "free-for-all" as more and more Bush Administration memoirs are published, and that may be true, but, in this case, McClellan's insider revelations only confirm what most people already know: of course the Iraq War has been a disaster; of course propaganda was used to sell the war; of course the media were too soft on Bush in the run-up to the war; of course Rove and Libby were in on the Plame leak. Hardly dramatic stuff.

David Corn thinks McClellan should apologize for being "an enabler." Well, maybe, and Corn makes some good points, but all he was was a mouthpiece for the warmongers and propagandists. And now he's profiting off having been such a mouthpiece, and, obviously, he wants to sell some books.

We'll see if there's more to the book than these few nuggets of obviousness, but let's keep in mind that all we have so far is a preview at a fairly friendly media outlet, one that seems to be helping him sell books. Come on, do you really think a long-time loyalist like McClellan has betrayed Bush in any meaningful way? Do you really think the book is an open and honest look at what went on in Bush's White House?

It's all just marketing. There's no good reason to read McClellan's book, let alone to pay money to buy it in the first place, and so it's being sold to us as a work of betrayal, or conscience.

Sure, maybe he's located his conscience, or decided to cleanse himself publicly, and maybe he wants to save his reputation, or whatever he thinks his reputation should be, or distance himself from some of what he did, which he may or may not know was wrong, but the mouthpiece is still a mouthpiece, now out for himself, cashing in, and one doubts that he is all that different from what he used to be, not so long ago, when he was saying what the warmongers and propagandists told him to say.


Update: Anderson Cooper made a big deal of this tonight, and, well, I suppose it is a big deal, or at least a much bigger deal that I suggest here. I still think McClellan's criticisms are obvious, but it is significant that he has made them in such a public way. And it is significant, too, that the media are making a big deal of them, though of course they are playing right into his hands (and his publisher's hands) in promoting the book and in focusing so heavily on the juicy bits.

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Cradle of life, catching fire

By Carl

While you've been reading about
this scuba diver getting lost at sea, or that skydiver missing his balloon, or this or that presidential candidate making his forays into actual debate on an issue, a billion people are facing outright war.

Item 1 --
Guinea soldiers seize chief over pay dispute:

The troops, who say they have been owed money for up to 12 years and protested over the same issue last year, also fired shots into the air.

The protests come the week after President Lansana Conte sacked Lansana Kouyate as prime minister.

(emphasis added)

Item 2 --
Pipeline blown up in Niger delta:

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) group said in an email that it had attacked the Royal Dutch Shell pipeline in Rivers State.

The militants, who want a greater share of oil revenues for the area, said they blew up a flow station and were retreating when soldiers opened fire.

Item 3 -- Mozambicans flee South Africa riots:

Mozambique's government says about 20,000 of its citizens have fled South Africa because of the wave of attacks on foreigners in the past two weeks.

In South Africa, at least 50 people have died and a further 35,000 have sought shelter because of the attacks.

In a related item...

Item 4 --
Death toll climbs in South African violence:

South Africa has given fresh figures on the numbers of people killed and displaced by the wave of attacks on foreigners over the past two weeks.

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told the BBC 56 people had been killed and more than 650 injured. Previously, 50 deaths were reported.

More than 30,000 had been displaced or forced from their homes, he said.

Other organisations said this was a gross under-estimation and that at least 80,000 had been displaced.

According to South Africa's Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), as many as 100,000 Africans may have been driven from their houses.

...which is related to this item...

Item 5 --
Tsvangirai confident of victory:

The Movement for Democratic Change leader accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of seeking to "decimate" opposition structures ahead of the vote.

His first engagement was to visit supporters hurt in political violence.

Mr Tsvangirai's return was delayed amid an alleged army plot to kill him, which the ruling party said was "fantasy".

Just imagine if Al Gore had to flee to Mexico in 2000 to get a sense of what this story means in Southern Africa. Or for a real world example, all you have to do is contemplate the asassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Item 6 --
South Sudan on the brink of war:

Clashes in Sudan's oil-rich town of Abyei could pitch the north and south of the country into civil war again, a senior official from South Sudan says.

"We are on the brink of war," Pagan Amum, secretary general of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), told the BBC.

Up to 90,000 people have fled after a week of fighting and the disputed town is now controlled by northern soldiers.

You may better know South Sudan as Darfur...

Item 7 --
ANC calls to retake the streets:

The secretary general of South Africa's governing ANC has called on party members to form local committees to combat violence against foreigners.

Gwede Mantashe says that they should work to "take the streets back from criminals", whilst giving support to the police and help to the victims.

The unrest has now spread to Cape Town, with people assaulted and shops looted.

It is roughly a thousand miles from the Zimbabwean border, the source of all these refugees that are creating such a ruckus, to Cape Town, so imagine if riots over Cuban immigrants in Miami spread all up the East Coast to Washington, DC! And the ANC is effectively claiming the South Africa government, which has been curiously quiet through it all, is inadequate for calming the population down and is suggesting vigilante actions may be necessary.

Had enough? You are free to go back to debating the merits of the two Davids from American Idol. This has been your moment of waarheid.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Raiders of the lost recount

By Capt. Fogg

I've yet to read any reviews of HBO's latest creation Recount. It's about the deep, wide and muddy river of corruption that runs through Southern politics and about how democracy was torn from the banks and washed away while America looked the other way or snickered or gloated -- or participated in what may have been the most shameful election meddling in the last 50 years.

The reviews, I'm certain, will fault it for bias, because it damns the Bush organization and the Florida political machine of Jeb Bush. They're certain to say that it's fiction, loosely based on the truth and that there are (hold your nose) always two sides to a story.

There aren't, of course. There's the truth and as many lies as there are liars to tell them and truth is not to be found by bracketing it with lies or finding the mean between the false extremes. It's not fiction that Katherine Harris, who represented both the State of Florida and George Bush's campaign, used $4 million dollars to commission a list of names similar to the names of convicted felons and without confirming the data or informing anyone on the list, used it to turn away tens of thousands of registered voters from the polls without letting them cast provisional ballots. It's not bias to assert that she used every trick she could employ to stall and obfuscate the recount she was required by law to make.

It's not fiction that 80 years of precedent was overturned and replaced by contrived new rules for counting ballots. It's not fiction that minority voters in Florida were warned by people identifying themselves as State Police to stay away from the polls. The infamous butterfly ballots that the nattering nitwits on Fox told us were without problems had major problems. I have 20:20 vision and had difficulty making them line up properly and difficulty making the worn and dull stylus punch cleanly and even in being sure the beat up machine was holding the ballot properly. If you want to believe I can't read or that I think Pat Buchanan is a Democrat or that I'm just plain stupid, go ahead -- but you know better. This is, however, the age of marketing magic and with a wave of the wand and a flap of the jawbone it all becomes the result of stupid, old (the same thing) grandmothers who can't follow instructions and unsavory far left liberal America hating effete Volvo driving welfare abusing Democrats.

It's not fiction that recounts weren't performed as requested, that gangs of Republican thugs, flown in from out of state by courtesy of Bush's best friends at Enron, physically halted the Miami-Dade recount or that the legally mandated recount was deliberately stalled by Republican operatives so as to run out the clock.

It's not fiction that The Republicans on the US Supreme Court recognized the unconstitutionality of this mess, but none the less permitted it "just this one time."

The 2 hour production did cover the invalidation and subsequent re-validation of absentee ballots that had no postmarks, no witnesses and no dates by Republican election commissioners anxious to obtain as many military votes as possible. It didn't mention my county where the Republican commissioner actually took the ballots home without supervision and decided on her own that they must have been valid. There were never any repercussions.

"Democrats go wah. They go wah wah wah" said Ann of the Thousand Lies. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a snicker.

2000 was the year I gave up on the United States of America and although I've since repented to a degree, I will never again have faith in the ability of our democratic Republic to operate as it was designed to do, free of the ability of entrenched power to bend it to their will and against the will and control of the electorate. Since that day, the ability of our government to control what we know, what we believe, and whether or not our votes get counted has grown further. Their power to know what we read and who we talk to has grown and their power to create false history is unmitigated and all but unchallenged.

Recount ends with a dolly shot of a vast warehouse full of boxes containing all the Florida ballots and perhaps it deliberately parallels the famous final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark, slowly revealing, as the camera recedes, the vastness of the endless stacks of crates of artifacts relegated to the dust and official oblivion. It's a metaphor -- a powerful one.

It's not hard to look at history and see the pivotal moments when civilizations begin to fail, governments begin to fall and liberty begins an inexorable slide into the spider hole of authoritarianism and corruption. So far, the presidential election of 2000 seems likely to feature as such in some future volume of the Decline and Fall of the United States of America.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Trotta's tasteless joke

By Libby Spencer

As I said at my own blog, I'm willing to give Hillary a pass on the Kennedy assassination remark, but I'm not willing to do the same for this hatemongering by Liz Trotta on Fox News. She's allegedly a professional journalist and doesn't have any reasonable excuse. In the midst of a rant about Hillary, she said this:

Trotta: …and now we have what some are reading—as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama , umm, ah… Obama, well both if we could…haha. ...

She actually giggled, quite taken with her own cleverness and the moderator totally glossed over it. "Talk about how you really feel," is all he said.

Trotta has since sort of apologized.

Oh yes, I am so sorry about what happened yesterday and the lame attempt at humor. I fell all over myself, making it appear that I wished Barack Obama harm or any other candidate, for that matter, and I sincerely regret it and apologize to anybody I have offended. It is a very colorful political season, and many of us are making mistakes and saying things we wish we had not said.

This said after ranting on and on about Hillary's dark soul and how you just don't talk about assassination. Considering her bizarre 'joke,' Trotta should look in a mirror. She's unfit to offer any serious analysis on politics. In a sane world, Fox would be reprimanded by the FCC and Trotta would be out of a job. Not that it will happen. It's okay if it's not about a Republican.

It's exactly this sort of irresponsible 'humor' that has turned our political discourse into a bad joke. TMV has the video and Steve Benen has, as always, some excellent commentary and contact info should you care to register your opinion to Fox and the FCC directly.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)


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What to say when the words won't come?

By Carol Gee

In the United States today is Memorial Day, 2008, and our military, whose dead we honor today, are still in harm's way in Iraq. I have opposed the invasion of Iraq since before it happened, and and yet I have unqualified feelings of respect for those who fight the war in good faith, despite the bad faith of their leaders. It is because of this ambivalence that I have very few words every year on Memorial Day. Today is no exception. In place of what I cannot say, I borrow from others, who also have had trouble with words this weekend.

I begin with this photo that whispered something about the war to me the moment I saw it. My hat is tipped to my blog friend, Margaret, who comes from Lebanon, Glued Blue Glass, aka Margaret's Wanderings, who posted "Exhaustion" with a number of wonderful photographs that she recently took of the flood waters in her area. I have included one of them to illustrate this post. I regret to say it is without her permission ahead of time, because she does not have an e-mail address through which I can ask. I do not think she will mind, however, because of this quote at the top of her blog under, "Words I Live By." I quote :

Those of us who grow in war are like clay pots fired in an oven that is over hot. Confusingly shaped like the rest of humanity, we nevertheless contain fatal cracks that we spend the rest of our lives itching to fill.
-Alexandra Fuller

"BlogIraq Murdered in Baghdad" is the cryptic headline of Saturday's post from my blog friend Fayrouz in Dallas. Her few words say it all about the war in Iraq:

Sometimes, Iraqi bloggers stop writing because the situation in Iraq is futile.

This time it's different; BlogIraq was murdered while investigating corruption in Iraq. It's a sad reminder that the situation in Iraq is far from being stable.

Echoes of the Vietman war are background behind a discussion thread at Forum Lucidity in recent days. PseudoCyAnts poignantly posted the video and lyrics to "Warhead"- Otep. The last verse speaks it for me:

The elephants march to war
Deny the big lie
My tribe
Join me
An alliance of defiance, in the warhead
An alliance of defiance
All are welcome here
Give me your tired, give me your sick, give me your indulgence and decadence
He lied, they died, keep the peasants terrified
This is a catastrophe
You must lead if they get me
On my command
Break free

Just a little bit says a lot -- "La Popessa" at Make it Stop! Make it Stop! had to break her post up into smaller parts on successive days, each containing the minimum word requirement: Heading Towards Memorial Day - Part 1 on female veterans difficulties; Heading Towards Memorial Day - Part 2 on the military casualty figures; and Heading Towards Memorial Day - Part 3 on the associated other casualties of the wars.

To conclude -- This newly bookmarked website, Alternate Brain, has a great Memorial Day post that talks about the war. It begins with this:

Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the people who sacrificed their lives so you can live the life you do in this country.

And The Sirens Chronicles' Memorial Day, looks at what it is about and what it's not about, in a couple of good posts.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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