Saturday, January 09, 2010

The honest intolerance of Brit Hume

In an op-ed column in today's Post, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson argues that it was not Brit Hume who was intolerant for advising Tiger Woods to abandon Buddhism and seek salvation in Christianity but Hume's critics for chastising him for doing so. Indeed, Gerson argues that Hume was merely asserting a religious freedom that lies at the core of American society:

The assumption of these criticisms is that proselytization is the antonym of tolerance. Asserting the superiority of one's religious beliefs, in this view, is not merely bad manners; it involves a kind of divisive, offensive judgmentalism.

But the American idea of religious liberty does not forbid proselytization; it presupposes it. Free, autonomous individuals not only have the right to hold whatever beliefs they wish, they also have the right to change those beliefs and to persuade others to change as well. Just as there is no political liberty without the right to change one's convictions and publicly argue for them, there is no religious liberty without the possibility of conversion and persuasion.

But that's not the point. I don't deny this -- namely, the connection between religious liberty and proselytization -- and, I suspect, nor do Tom Shales, Andrew Sullivan, and Hume's other critics.

Proselytization is more common in some religions (like Christianity) than in others (like Judaism), but, more broadly, "claims about the nature of reality that conflict with the claims of other faiths" are common to all, or virtually all, religions. In a liberal democracy, though -- and this takes us back to Locke, perhaps the major philosophical influence on the American Founders -- religious practice, including the making of such claims, not to mention proselytization, is expected to be conducted in the private sphere. We expect a preacher at a Sunday-morning church service, for example, to make claims about his or her specific faith, claims that put that faith above other faiths and that essentially deny the validity of other faiths. What we do not expect is a similar outpouring of (self-)righteousness from a supposed newsman on a supposed news network.

This does not mean that there should be no expression of religious faith in public, or even on a news network like Fox. Larry King, for example, regularly has religious guests who promote their own faiths, some with the sort of arrogant zealotry that is all-too-common nowadays on the theocratic right. Again, the problem here is that Hume, to use Sullivan's words, brought "pure sectarianism" into what was a "secular discourse." And that crossed the line.

And yet Hume is a commentator now, not an anchor or reporter, which means his proselytizing wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been had it come from, say, Katie Couric. And so what he did was merely to expose his own religious prejudice, a prejudice, I suspect, shared by many (self-)righteous Christians who believe that the only way to salvation, and to happiness generally, is to embrace Jesus Christ. This is nonsense, I believe, but at least Hume was being honest.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Aimee Mann: "Wise Up"

Let's put up some Aimee Mann tonight. She's one of my favourite singer-songwriters, I listen to her frequently on the iPod, and, well, she's just wonderful. Here's "Wise Up," originally from the Magnolia soundtrack, from her Live at St. Ann's Warehouse DVD. Great song, great scene in the movie.


Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 08, 2010

It's a family affair

By J. Thomas Duffy

We go tabloid tonight, not to make light of another awful domestic violence incident, but only to highlight two monster lines by other writers, and for the fact that the famed PartyofNoicans' prestigious "family values" were on dubious display once again.

All the more juicier that the animal neanderthal wife-beater is tied to the Bush Clan.

Former White House lawyer charged with attempting to kill wife in New Canaan

A prominent attorney and former White House lawyer was charged with attempting to kill his wife at his New Canaan home Wednesday night.

John Michael Farren, 57, of 388 Wahackme Road, was charged with attempted murder and first-degree strangulation after police received a panic alarm from his home shortly after 10 p.m.

This guy pitched the doubleheader, working for both, the 1000-Points-of-Light Bush, and the considerably dimmer Bush Grindhouse.

You can click through the link to read the grisly details of Farren beating his wife with a metal flashlight over being served divorce papers, ironically due to his "explosive temper," and then goes all Three Stooges/Niagara Falls when she hits a panic alarm, beating her more.

The folks we want to tip our cap to are...

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, in his post "the gop luvs them some fambly values" for:

Well, we wonder if britt hume has some religious counseling for this guy?

We also see why gay marriage is being voted out all over america. it would only cheapen the institution

And TBogg, over at Firedoglake, with the great title, "Damn. I had "David Addington" using a "pool cue" in my office pool," for:

Former Bush counsel John Michael Farren, 57, of 388 Wahackme Road (oh, cruel irony) went a little apeshit when his wife served him with divorce papers:


It is entirely likely that Farren will be defended by John Yoo who will explain that beating a woman unconscious with a flashlight is an entirely legitimate response during a time of war… on marriage.

Wonkette gets an honorable mention for its "Former Bush Lawyer *ALLEGEDLY* Murders Everyone," and the wry salary reference.

Oh, you know their pious, pompous, bullshit façade about "family values" is going to haunt them forever.

Meanwhile, we'll turn it over to Sly to sing them a lullabye:

SLY & The Family Stone -- It's a Family Affair

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Don't get raped in Dubai

Dubai -- the flashy, self-glorifying Gulf emirate -- is home to the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, and it's also home to some of the most disgustingly conspicuous consumption in the world, a mecca, of sorts, for the grotesquely super-rich. (Although, yes, I admit, I would like to stay at the Burj Al Arab sometime.)

But, contradictorily enough, it's also home to some pretty serious repression and oppression, most notably of women, and to a legal code that includes elements of Sharia law.

And it's best not to get raped there: 

A 23-year-old British woman on holiday in Dubai told police she had been raped, only to be arrested herself for having illegal sexual intercourse.

The woman, a Muslim of Pakistani descent, was celebrating her engagement to her 44-year-old boyfriend, and was allegedly attacked when she passed out in a hotel lavatory.

Despite approaching police about the attack, she was arrested after admitting to "illegal drinking" outside licensed premises as well as having sexual intercourse outside marriage. Her fiancé was also charged with the same offences.

The couple from London are now reportedly on bail and understood to be awaiting trial after having their passports confiscated. Should they be found guilty, they could face up to six years in jail.

The woman, who is said to have accepted her boyfriend's marriage proposal during a three-day break, admitted drinking too much alcohol as they celebrated at Dubai Marina's Address Hotel. The waiter is then said to have followed her into the toilets and raped her while she was in a state of semi-consciousness.

Lovely, eh? What a wonderful place.

Yes, it's an impressive building -- if pointless, unless the point is penis envy -- and, yes, there seems to be a lot that's impressive there, but Dubai leaves an awful lot to be desired, not least with a justice system that is, simply, unjust.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Cry havoc -- please!

By Capt. Fogg

Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay were arrested very early this morning in New York as part of an investigation into a foiled plot to explode a bomb on the 8th anniversary of 9/11/2001. Najibullah Zazi and two other men are already in custody on charges related to this attempt. The evidence against the men seems substantial and we can expect that he won't be the only one to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Of course, this is an outrage. If we had a real Republican he-man in office we wouldn't be calling this a foiled plot or talking about trials and convictions, we'd be screaming terrorist attack - terrorist attack and the cruise missiles would already be on course for somewhere.

So, I'm sure it won't be long before Snarlin' Dick is back on TV explaining to us that our educated and therefore unmanly President is pretending, by not running naked through the streets screaming TERRORIST ATTACK, that "we are not at war." Of course it takes considerable screaming and snarling to keep the discussion away from what a real war really is -- especially one in which victory is nearly impossible to define much less than to achieve.

Like our valiant war on poverty, war on drugs, war on crime and war on pornography, this one resembles a struggle against human nature; that nature including religion, nationalism and the tendency to hate people we see as exploiting and manipulating us. Fail to make that all change and you fail to win. In saner times and amongst saner people the eternal struggle against crime has usually been seen as the job of law enforcement and indeed this failed plot was foiled by good police work and a little luck. To men like Cheney, the danger in foiling plots and prosecuting the criminals who attempt to carry them out is precisely that we have a harder time crying war and without a war, we have to conduct ourselves more in accordance with the law and indeed with reasonableness and sanity.

That the terrorist acts carried out in Oklahoma City and at the World Trade Center resulted in the perpetrators being caught, imprisoned and even executed will remain a thorn in the paws of people like Cheney for whom the system needs to be shown as not working when it's under a Democratic administration and working well when under a Republican. So what if it results in hundreds of thousands of innocent casualties, the destruction of countries, the exile of its citizens and of course, the creation of vastly increased anti-American hatred. In this respect, Cheney's objectives, being aided by every attack and thwarted by every foiled attack or captured terrorist, are often congruent with the objectives of al Qaeda and similar groups. In other words, America's success -- Obama's success and Clinton's success in finding and capturing terrorists -- hurts Cheney and Associates, hurts their chances of defaming the Democrats, returning the berserkers to power, and keeping those huge Halliburton checks rolling in.

If you're following this line of reasoning, you won't be surprised that I'm concluding that Snarlin' Dick wants more than anything to keep us all crying "terrorist attack" and to keep them coming. By the way, isn't being on the side of terrorists treason?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

She called him O'Biden: Yet more from the annals of the ridiculousness of Sarah Palin

Oh, Sarah Palin, will the hilarity of your ignorance and phoniness never end?

Sarah Palin's charming opening debate line for now-Vice President Joe Biden -- "Hey, can I call you Joe? " -- was scripted after she repeatedly referred to him as "O'Biden" in preparation sessions, former McCain campaign senior adviser Steve Schmidt told "60 Minutes."

You know, if the whole Palin thing had never happened, if she'd never amounted to anything in politics and had remained, say, an embarrassingly bad sportscaster in Alaska, and if you'd made it all up, from her rise to Wasilla mayor to Alaska governor to '08 Veep candidate and right-wing Republican darling, including all that happened along the way, and if you developed her as a fictional character, giving her all the lines she has said in real life, all the gaffes and inanities, that is, if you fictionalized her out of nothing and told her story the way it has developed, no one would believe that anything like that was possible and people would likely ridicule you for going way over the top. Not so much because her story, her political rise, is incredible, but because she is simply way over the top, a simply unbelievable figure. And I don't mean that in a good way.

How so unbelieveable? Well, if she were simply a fictional character, you'd say there's no way someone that ignorant, that phony, that so supremely unqualified for public office, let alone for high state and federal public office, would ever amount to much. And, given that, you'd dismiss the whole story as ridiculous. You'd say it could never be true and, as fiction, is basically worthless -- an amusing diversion, perhaps, but not much else.

I mean, come on... O'Biden? Seriously?

Well, sure. It's Sarah Palin. Did you really expect her to know what she was doing?

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Something in the water

By Capt. Fogg

New York City water tastes like turpentine
Lord, Lord
And I ain't gonna drink it any more

-- from an old blues song

There must be something in the water if former New York Mayor Ed Koch is insisting that "hundreds of millions" of Muslims are terrorists, but that we're all too afraid to mention it for fear of offending. I don't think it's turpentine.

He didn't give Foxman Neil Cavuto any source for this magic number yesterday or for any other part of his assertion or did he attempt to explain why anyone would feel we're afraid to offend countries we're bombing, maintaining sanctions on, or already occupying. Is it true what they say about New Yorkers if not blowing someone to bits is considered timidity or perhaps an excess of politeness?

And then there's Rudy "9/11" Giuliani who announced to ABC's George Stephanopoulos today that there were no domestic terrorist attacks on George W. Bush's watch:

[W]e had no domestic attacks under Bush; we had one under Obama.

There must be a lot of something in the water. Between 9/11 and the Anthrax bio-attack, there were over 3000 victims of domestic terrorism. To think there were people who wanted to elect this putz president!

The real agenda of course, is to find fault with the president for not running down the street screaming "terror - terror" which the victims of Republimentia feel is the best way to deal with an unsuccessful suicide bombing. He needs to be more theatrical, to talk more of fear than of courage, to scream and yell and look for bogey men rather than calmly to get on with the business of improving our defenses. Sadly it's not just ex-mayors of New York drinking from this well. They're hardly alone in their hatred of Democrats of color and they're hardly alone in their desire to make the government so dysfunctional that they can slither back into control amidst the chaos. There are millions of them, you know.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

New Jersey Senate votes down same-sex marriage bill

Not great news from my one-time home state. From The Star-Ledger:

The state Senate rejected a same-sex marriage bill today, a major victory for opponents who contend the measure would infringe on religious freedom and is not needed because the state already permits civil unions.

The 20-14 vote defeating the measure followed an hour and a half of public debate inside the packed Senate chamber. The nearly thousand supporters and opponents of the bill held rallies on the Statehouse steps.

The measure fell seven votes short of the 21 needed for passage.

First, enough with "religious freedom." All that means is institutionalized bigotry. What should matter are the human and civil rights of individuals, the freedome of individuals, not whether religions are free to discriminate.

Second, at least New Jersey allows same-sex civil unions. This isn't enough, I agree, but it's not like the state is like, say, Alabama.

For how it all played out yesterday, see Pam Spaulding. Up next is the Assembly, which is scheduled to hold a vote next Monday. Then, of course, the courts.

Ultimately, New Jersey will legalize same-sex marriage, but it will take time. In the meantime, the fight for the right of gays and lesbians to be treated like equal citizens continues.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

I want to blog

By Creature

See, I want to blog. I want to say something about the news of the day. But if I did, all I would be saying is STFU over and over again. Rudy, STFU. Cheney, STFU. Hoekstra, DeMint, King, STFU. I could go on, but you get the point. There are no arguments against these guys, because they just make shit up and the media lets them. I really need the stupid to go away.

Update: BooMan feeling the same way yesterday.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

The exaggerated and unrealistic expectations of Barack Obama

Politico's Ben Smith posts a defence of Obama by a reader, Ellie Light, and I think it's a really good one. Read it all, but here's some of it:

Right after Obama's election, we seemed to grasp this. We understood that companies would be happy to squeeze more work out of frightened employees, and would be slow to hire more. We understood that the banks that had extorted us out of billions of dollars, were lying when they said they would share their recovery. We understood that a national consensus on health care would not come easily. Candidate Obama never claimed that his proposed solutions would work flawlessly right out of the box, and we respected him for that.

But today, the president is being attacked as if he were a salesman who promised us that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never made such a promise. It's time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything.

Though I continue to support the president, I have been deeply critical of him on a number of issues, and I think he deserves such criticism even, or especially, from those who support him.

But I also think he has suffered, in terms of sagging approval ratings, not just from obstructionist Republican opposition and an inept Democratic majority in Congress but from exaggerated and unrealistic expectations generally. It really is like many people thought he could just come in and perform Herculean tasks, cleansing Washington of its institutional corruption and dysfunctional malaise and bringing in change by presidential fiat, succeeding simply by virtue of being... Barack Obama.

That was never to be, of course, and he knew it, and many of us knew it, but for some reason he is still being attacked for not performing up to those lofty expectations despite the fact that he has actually accomplished a great deal this year (e.g., economic stimulus plan, health-care reform, improving America's image abroad).

For all his faults and for all his policy missteps -- and we can continue to argue over them -- Obama has been what I think he told us he would be, more or less, and we would do well to measure him not by the standards of exaggerated and unrealistic expectations but by the standards of a reality that he himself understands all too well.


Bookmark and Share

Joe Lieberman: A case study in how to piss people off

Joe Lieberman, as you know, has been at the center of the health-care debate in Congress. And why? Well, because he held out and held the process hostage with a vote the Democrats needed to win over. Along with Ben Nelson, he gave Democrats -- 57 of whom, along with independent Bernie Sanders, were already on board -- the 60 votes they needed to override the Republican filibuster.

Lieberman succeeded in forcing the bill to be watered down, but it was never clear what he was actually for. Rather, he just seemed to be against whatever his former party was for until, at long last, the bill stripped of the public option and with the Medicare buy-in idea killed, the latter of which he had been in favour of as recently as last summer, he got off his high horse of self-righteousness and voted with the decisive majority.

Lieberman may see himself as someone who is above partisan politics and who is committed to centrist principles, but he is really a man of vindictiveness and retribution. Republicans like him when he's a thorn in Democrats' sides and Democrats enable him to keep doing what he's doing by refusing to cut him loose, and he's still a favourite of the Beltway media, but what he has succeeded in doing, in being against reform until he was finally for it, is alienating and pissing off his own constituency in Connecticut.

As HuffPo's Sam Stein is reporting, a new poll shows Lieberman losing support across the board in his home state:

More than 80 percent (81 percent) of Democrats now say they disapprove of the job Lieberman is doing with only 14 percent approving. Among Republicans, 48 percent disapprove of the senator with just 39 approving. And among independents, 61 percent disapprove of Lieberman's antics with just 32 percent approving.

"It all adds up to a 25% approval rating with 67% of his constituents giving him bad marks," the study concludes. "Barack Obama's approval rating with Connecticut Republicans is higher than Lieberman's with the state's Democrats."

Lieberman, undoubtedly, will interpret the results as a vindication of his maverick nature -- yet another example of just how unwilling he is to tie himself to any particular ideological camp. In actuality, it seems to be more a reflection of just how out of touch the senator has grown with the constituents he represents.

I think that's exactly right, but, of course, Lieberman will take none of it to heart. We'll see what happens in 2012, when he's up for re-election -- will he run? if so, what party? or would he remain an independent? -- but it's good to know that the people of Connecticut see right through him.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Things that make you go "Hmmmmm..."

By Carl

Senator Harold Ford, Jr...
of New York???

His stature undoubtedly derives from his five consecutive terms as a United States representative and a bitterly contested campaign for the Senate, but Mr. Ford, 39, has introduced himself to New Yorkers as a self-assured, nattily dressed political insider on Fox, NBC and MSNBC.

Over the past two years, he become a regular on shows like “Morning Joe” and “Meet the Press,” pontificating on everything from death panels to Barack Obama’s popularity.The appearances have given Mr. Ford’s name a familiar ring but have revealed little about his politics, which will become the subject of intense scrutiny over the next few weeks as he decides whether to run against Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand this fall. He has given himself 45 days to sound out potential donors and party leaders about a campaign.

Attentive readers of this blog and mine, Simply Left Behind, now have an explanation to
this bizarre encounter we had two years ago. Not in a million years would I have imagined that it was leading up to this possibility, but the fact that he met with Joe Trippi in a quiet little restaurant (albeit not in the corner) certainly intimates Ford's intention to re-enter political life.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Ford, you may recall, had his hopes for Senate in Tennessee dashed in part by a
race-baiting TV ad. So to a degree, his candidacy in a state less predisposed to listen to hate-mongering and more disposed to listening to issues is sort of "get even." Too, he's an intelligent man with good ideas who is not as liberal as many would pick him out to be, so he could be a sale in areas of New York State that Hillary Clinton carried with surprising regularity.

On the other hand, Kirsten Gillibrand has not exactly been a horrible Senator. She is, however, somewhat tainted by her unfortunate and necessary association with Governor David Paterson, whose approval ratings are abysmal, even if they have softened somewhat these past few weeks, Gillibrand has also carried a lot of the water for the Democrats in the Senate, voting strictly along party lines despite being more conservative than the party in general.

Which is saying a lot, considering how far to the right the party has had to move to pass legislation this year.

This has the earmarks of a White House wishlist, between this trial balloon and the pressure President Obama has placed on Patterson to forgo re-election. Patterson has led an oddly charmed life since that pressure was made public: no one serious, it seems, wants to run against him, except perhaps Andrew Cuomo. Republicans have shunned the race like Puritans in a sex club marathon.

My guess is, the budget outlook is so bleak, no one wants to be the one left standing when the music stops. In this regard, Patterson will likely thrive into a second term, simply because he hasn't backed down from the challenge.

But I digress.

The potential for a Gillibrand-Ford lock-up in the primary is interesting. Ford would likely capture most of the lower counties, like the city, Westchester, and Long Island, while Gillibrand would run strongly in the central parts of the state, like the Leatherstocking district and the Hudson Valley.

So the toss-ups would be the university towns way up north, like Ithaca, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. Those are a strange admixture of blue collar whites who have suffered mightily in this Bush depression, and scholarly-types. Ford appeals to both, to be sure, but Gillibrand's support amongst the working class folks would be hard to crack.

Look for pressure brought to bear on Gillibrand to quit the race, and perhaps lock horns with Patterson for the governor's chair, or an offer of a post that would be hard to turn down (ambassador or sub-Cabinet appointment). I don't think the state party wants to have this on their hands after the
2009 state Senate debacle.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Ahhhh ... We called it ... Leno moving back to 11:30

Oh boy, did we beam a big smile when the NYT News Alert dropped in the mailbox, shouting "NBC Plan Would Move Leno to Late Nights."

Seems that there be some shakin' up goin' on at 30 Rockefeller, and as the TMZ headline says, "NBC Shakeup -- Jay Leno Comes Out on Top."

The Winter Olympics are going to kill off the 10 pm disaster that Leno helmed, and, when the network comes back, it's "Hereeeeee's Jay" at 11:30.

And while NBC officially said no final decision on the plan had been made, two senior NBC executives who had talked to the top management about the moves said that under the plan being discussed, Mr. Leno would definitely shift back to 11:35 but in a half-hour format, while Mr. O’Brien would slide back his start time by a half hour and then produce an hourlong show.

But, in an earlier post, Carter had this:

Mr. O’Brien, meanwhile, has seen his own ratings suffer. He has trailed the CBS late-night star David Letterman by about two million viewers a night. Mr. Leno had easily been the winner in that time period previously.

Me smells the Godfather/Clemenza treatment coming up for Conan:

How's Conan? ... Oh, Conan. You won't see him no more.

Whether putting Jay Leno back at 11:30, if that's what they decide to do, is the right move or not -- that remains to be seen. It's certainly depressing, content-wise, for those of us who greatly prefer O'Brien's style to Leno's and hoped that when this all went kablooey, Jay would be the one who moved on. In any event, a couple of the network's executives are about to face a giant room full of TV critics, so they're going to wind up having to say something.

Now, The Retro Part (and, remember, from above, Conan's shrinking ratings).

But here's the unspoken reason NBC was so hot to do this deal:

They wanted Leno in the house, as a safety valve, should Conan O'Brien crash and burn moving from his off-beat 12:30 am time-slot to the primo 11:30 Tonight Show shrine.

Leno establishes the 10 pm time-slot, makes it workable, and then, after some major ego pampering, and dancing-on-eggshells PR, Leno bumps back to the 11:30 pm Tonight Show to pull it out of the ratings (i.e. losing money) ashes.


This time, they're keeping Leno in the house, as a "just in case."

And don't think Conan O'Brien doesn't know it.

Jesus, he has Leno staring at him for an hour before he goes on.

Pressure? ... What pressure?

Now, if the Olympics really end up sucking ...

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tsutomu Yamaguchi ... Most fucked person in history dies

By J. Thomas Duffy

Yeah, we know the title is jarring, but, even going that graphic, that in-your-face, doesn't do justice, doesn't begin to come close to what Tsutomu Yamaguchi went through in his life.

His plight, his "lot-in-life," became a wry joke to illustrate just how much a sorry-assed-loser a person might be.

Yet Tsutomu Yamaguchi was anything but a loser:

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, victim of Japan’s two atomic bombs, dies aged 93

He was an impassioned and articulate man, a respected teacher, beloved father and grandfather — but none of these explain the unique distinction of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who has died in Nagasaki aged 93.

He was the victim of a fate so callous that it almost raises a smile: he was one of a small number of people to fall victim to both of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

On August 6, 1945, he was about to leave the city of Hiroshima, where he had been working, when the first bomb exploded, killing 140,000 people. Injured and reeling from the horrors around him, he fled to his home — Nagasaki, 180 miles to the west. There, on August 9, the second atomic bomb exploded over his head.

A few dozen others were in a similar position, but none expressed the experience with as much emotion and fervour. Towards the end of his life, Mr Yamaguchi received another distinction — the only man to be officially registered as a hibakusha, atomic bomb victim, in both cities.

In an interview he did early last year, his only with a British newspaper, Yamaguchi described what happened:

Among them was the young engineer – who was in town on a business trip for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – who stepped off a tram as the bomb exploded.

Despite being 3km (just under two miles) from Ground Zero, the blast temporarily blinded him, destroyed his left eardrum and inflicted horrific burns over much of the top half of his body. The following morning, he braved another dose of radiation as he ventured into Hiroshima city centre, determined to catch a train home, away from the nightmare.

But home for Mr Yamaguchi was Nagasaki, where two days later the "Fat Man" bomb was dropped, killing 70,000 people and creating a city where, in the words of its mayor, "not even the sound of insects could be heard". In a bitter twist of fate, Yamaguchi was again 3km from the centre of the second explosion. In fact, he was in the office explaining to his boss how he had almost been killed days before, when suddenly the same white light filled the room. "I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima," Mr Yamaguchi said.

It is nearly incomprehensible, the thought of surviving, not one, but two nuclear blasts.

Was he bitter, did he hate the Americans?

No, he remained a human being.

From Wikipedia:

As he aged his opinions about the use of atomic weapons began to change. In his eighties, he wrote a book about his experiences and was invited to take part in a 2006 documentary about 165 double A-bomb victims called Nijuuhibaku ("Twice Bombed"), which was screened at the United Nations. At the screening he pleaded for the abolition of atomic weapons.

Yamaguchi became a vocal proponent of nuclear disarmament. In an interview he said "The reason that I hate the atomic bomb is because of what it does to the dignity of human beings." Speaking through his daughter during a telephone interview he said; "I can't understand why the world cannot understand the agony of the nuclear bombs, how can they keep developing these weapons?

And this:

"My double radiation exposure is now an official government record," Mr Yamaguchi told reporters.

"It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die."

Yeah, it can tell the younger generation, as well as the current one.

But will they see, will they listen?

Here's hoping Tsutomu Yamaguchi has the absolute best, most tremendous, most peacefully satisfying afterlife ... ever!

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Britain under snow

Check out this incredible NASA satellite image of Britain, taken early this morning, from the Telegraph.

As you may have heard, Europe has been hit hard so far this winter, and pretty much all of Britain is covered in snow -- which, you may know, isn't exactly normal.

I just talked to my mother -- who lives in SE England with my father and sister (my brother lives not too far away from them) -- a short while ago, and the village they live in, up in the Chiltern hills between London and Oxford, is virtually inaccessible except to 4WD vehicles. I've been there in winter, and I'm sure, like always, it's incredibly beautiful, but it's not exactly convenient for those who live there.

Schools are closed everywhere, grocery stores can't get food in, and there just isn't the infrastructure, like the fleet of snow ploughs we have here in Toronto (where we're used to this sort of weather), to dig out the country, which means that rural roads like the ones leading to and from our village haven't been cleared.

And don't say this is evidence that global warming is a hoax. I have no time for such idiocy. Weather does not equal climate, global warming can lead to crazy weather, and I've already addressed this many times before -- including here.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

The shameless hypocrisy of Peter King, supporter of terrorism

No, not that Peter King, that Peter King (who seems to call himelf "Pete," perhaps to distinguish himself from the more famous other Peter King.). Obviously.


Rep. Peter King (R-NY) -- "America's Worst Congressman," according to Alex Massie, who may very well be right -- is one of the leading Republican point men on terrorism and the "war on terror," that is, one of the leading Republican attackers and smearers of President Obama. He's an ardent promoter of torture, and has virtually nothing of value to add to the discussion. There's certainly nothing in the way of constructive criticism, just the militant right-wing line spoken with a distinct New York accent. Basically, he's a bit like Cheney, only seemingly much more stupid.

For example.

When asked by George Stephanopoulos yesterday on Good Morning America to "name one other specific recommendation the president could implement right now to fix" America's policy on terrorism, he responded with this nugget of nonsense:

I think one main thing would be to -- just himself to use the word terrorism more often.

That's it. Nothing more.

As Steve Benen notes, this is "a terrific example of why Republicans aren't taken more seriously when it comes to the substance of public policy... One gets the sense Republicans won't be truly satisfied until Obama develops a tic-like affinity for Bush-era rhetoric." Which is amusing, isn't it? One of the common Republican criticisms of Obama is that he's all talk. Well, here's a leading Republican saying that the "one main thing" the president can do to wage the war on terror more effectively is... talk, and specifically to talk terrorism, as if American can best protect itself with rhetoric.

Now, I'm all for acknowledging reality, and terrorism is terrorism, but King's criticism really is utter nonsense. It's not like Obama is opposed to using the word, and it's not like Obama is hiding behind vague language. If anything, he shows a far more mature and nuanced understanding of reality, and of the reality of the threats America faces, than, say, Peter King, who sees the world in black-and-white, us-versus-them terms.

But, for King, and for Republicans generally, it's all about attacking Obama and the Democrats, and scoring political points, not contributing anything meaningful or helpful -- or supporting their commander-in-chief in a time of war. And in attacking Obama over the use of a single word, King exposed just how lame, desperate, and intellectually bankrupt he and his party are.

But that's not all. As Jonathan Chait notes at his new blog at TNR, citing Massie, King was once (and may still be) an ardent supporter of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army (IRA), the mass-murdering terrorist organization that plagued Northern Ireland for so long, from 1969 to 1997. (The IRA abandoned its armed campaign for Northern Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom in 2005. While it is still considered a terrorist organization in the U.K., and while it is an illegal organization in Ireland, it is now largely a non-violent political movement. Two offshoot groups, including the so-called Real IRA, still engage in terrorism.) Massie, quoting an old New York Sun article:

In 1980, Mr. D'Amato, then the senator-elect, fulfilled a campaign pledge and went to Belfast on a fact-finding trip, taking Messrs. King and Dillon with him. It was the start of Mr. King's long entanglement with the IRA, and he took to it with the zeal of a convert.

He forged links with leaders of the IRA and Sinn Fein in Ireland, and in America he hooked up with Irish Northern Aid, known as Noraid, a New York based group that the American, British, and Irish governments often accused of funneling guns and money to the IRA. At a time when the IRA's murder of Lord Mountbatten and its fierce bombing campaign in Britain and Ireland persuaded most American politicians to shun IRA-support groups, Mr. King displayed no such inhibitions. He spoke regularly at Noraid protests and became close to the group's publicity director, the Bronx lawyer Martin Galvin, a figure reviled by the British.

Mr. King's support for the IRA was unequivocal. In 1982, for instance, he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County: "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry."

By the mid-1980s, the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic were openly hostile to Mr. King. On one occasion, a judge threw him out of a Belfast courtroom during the murder trial of IRA men because, in the judge's view, "he was an obvious collaborator with the IRA." When he attended other trials, the police singled him out for thorough body searches.

Where he is now militantly anti-terrorist, he was then militantly pro-terrorist. It all depends on context, that is, on his own biases:

  • Irish terrorists: good.
  • Muslim terrorists: bad.

He could argue, of course, that what really matters is what the terrorists are fighting for. Americans, after all, admire the revolutionaries who fought for American independence from Britain and revile the revolutionaries who, say, support Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. And there's something to that. Not all revolutionaries are the same, just as not all terrorists are the same. But if that's what King means, he should just come out and say so. Instead, he just comes across as a shameless hypocrite who supports terrorism by his own kind and opposes terrorism against his own kind. That makes him a partisan, and consistent in his biases, but also an enthusiastic supporter of terrorism when it suits him.

And, lest we forget, the terrorism he supported was directed not at an enemy of America but at an ally and long-time friend of America, not at some oppressive regime but at a major liberal democracy, at the founder of liberal democracy. I understand that the IRA and its sympathizers saw Britain as an oppressive and unjust state, the British government as an oppressive and unjust regime, and the British military as the primary agent of oppression and injustice of the Catholic population in Nothern Ireland, but the IRA committed atrocious acts of violence not just against political and military targets but against civilian ones as well.

And Peter King was apparently all for such violence, and all for what the IRA was about. Should he not be held to account for what the IRA did? Either way, he should not be lecturing Obama about how to conduct the war on terror, not least when all he has to offer is stupidity.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Unholy and Anti-American Trifecta

By Capt. Fogg

The latest proof that "Obama is tearing apart the fabric of America" as Sean "Insanity" Hannity recently observed, hit my in-box with a time stamp only minutes ahead of Urban Legends refutation of the e-mail claiming that our president was the first to hit the "unholy and Anti-American Trifecta." It's claimed he failed to show up at the Army Navy game, or to attend any Christmas religious observance, and stayed on vacation following a terrorist attack.

He must be doing rather well if this is the smelliest crock they can come up with -- and of course and as usual, it is indeed a crock. George W. Bush, the president most often described during his term as the right hand of Jesus missed 5 out of 8 of them. Woodrow Wilson didn't attend a Christmas church service in 1914, nor did Herbert Hoover in 1929, nor Lyndon Johnson in 1968. It would take some research, but I'm willing to bet this isn't unique or uncommon. Presidents haven't always been expected to be examples of public religiosity after all and Christmas was opulently celebrated at the White House this year, even if Fox took pains not to notice.

As to staying on vacation after a failed terrorist attack in which nobody but the attacker was hurt, the claim would require that he had ignored it and had spent the day on the beach, which of course isn't true. The President travels with his flying White House and a large staff, briefings were held, he ordered beefed up security and passenger screenings and ordered a review of the terrorist watch list and made statements to the public.

This being the 21st century, being in Honolulu or being in Washington DC has little bearing on the effectiveness of the president. Certainly jumping on AF 1 and heading as fast and far away from DC, as the previous president did after an actual and successful attack doesn't make the current President look all that bad, nor does the fact that the Republican broke all records for vacation time.

Please do remember, far milder criticism of Bush resulted in cries of treason from the same people who insist that the country is being destroyed and make up lies to prove it. He's here, he's President, he's black. Get the hell over it and stop trying to sabotage my country.

(Cross posted from Human voices)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

On a clear day

By Capt. Fogg

"I don’t see a clear angle on the anus." Said Adam's Apple Ann Coulter to Bill O'Reilly Monday night.

Never mind Ann, I think we have a very good angle on an anus right here.

Objecting to the idea of Body scanners at airports, Ann insisted they wouldn't be effective because you can't look up people's rectums or under their foreskins, so those would be a great place to hide bombs. Of course Muslims circumcise their sons but that's OK, nobody expects sanity from Ann and her fans wouldn't know sanity -- or an asshole -- if they saw it.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Terrorism gone wrong

Presumably these guys weren't the jihadist A-squad.


Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Fourteen suspected terrorists died Tuesday night when the bus they rigged with explosives blew up prematurely, police said.

The explosion occurred as the suspects were riding the bus in the province of Kunduz, said police chief Abdul Raziq Yaqobi.

Yaqobi said the suspects wanted to attack Afghan police or foreign soldiers.

Do they still get the virgins?

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Thunder and lightning

By Carl

Barack Obama
showed some stones yesterday.

This shouldn't be news. I suspect the reason it is is the last administration was in woefully short supply of stones, particularly when it made mistakes. "Heckuva job, Brownie!"
After an earlier meeting with his security advisers, President Obama said US intelligence services had enough information to place the Nigerian suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, on a no-fly list, but had failed to connect the dots, adding: "That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it".

I should point out that the only person who suffered any consequences of the 9-11 terrorist attacks was
Sibel Edmonds. Indeed, the only admission by anyone in authority in the Bush administration with respect to the 9-11 tragedy was from Condi Rice, which she called a "failure of imagination".

As if terrorists bringing four planes down a month after the infamous August 6 PDB was like the release of

But I digress.

President Obama's point yesterday, that we had all the pieces but no one to put the puzzle together, was supposed to be solved by the Department of Homeland Security, set up by "President" Bush and alowed to squander seven years of financing to put on a dog and pony show of protecting Americans' security. We were given rainbows, told tweezers and nail scissors were deadly weapons (perhaps they anticipated an attack by an army of Jackie Chan clones), and asked to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting.

Instead of putting together an infrastructure that would in real time share information between agencies and prevent a lone terrorist from boarding a plane loaded down with explosives. Yes, Bush and his team stopped Richard Reid (for want of a lighter, admittedly on the "no-fly" list. Too bad Reid wasn't.), and then rested on their laurels.

Bush and Rove et al spent those last seven years wetting their pants trying to get us to wet ours, with continual incidents of false flag terror alerts (timed in election cycles, no less).

President Obama's inference, that intelligent people are now running the intelligence services so let's cut the crap, is an even better reaction than expected. Had Abdulmutallab (and I thought Ahmadinejad was hard to spell!) succeeded, I would hope the implication that heads would roll would be carrid out, starting with his own Cabinet pick, Janet Napolitano, who now has to work hard to persuade Americans she can handle what on the surface seems to be a job cut out for her. I'm sure the details are far more complex, however.

2009 was a difficult year for Obama, even tho the end showed glimmers of an administration that can reverse the deep troubles this nation is in. If this kick-off to campaign year 2010 is any indication, this should be a good year for Obama and the Democrats.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Will Ford challenge Gillibrand in New York?

According to the Times, "Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee, is weighing a bid to unseat Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in this fall's Democratic primary."

I wasn't exactly much of a Gillibrand fan when Gov. David Paterson appointed her to replace Hillary Clinton last year, but my sense since then is that she's done fairly well.

And how is she any worse than Ford? (She certainly has her colleague Chuck Schumer's support, and that's huge.)

Does New York need yet another carpetbagger, and a centrist one at that, one with close ties to Wall Street and who is being pushed to run by prominent, NYC-oriented donors and insiders who don't like -- and look down upon -- Gillibrand's upstate credentials?

Well, that will be for New Yorkers to say, should Ford run, but my sense is that sticking with Gillibrand might not be such a bad thing.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

France moves to ban "psychological violence" in marriage

Britain's Daily Mail:

Married couples in France could end up with criminal records for insulting each other during arguments.

Under a new law, France is to become the first country in the world to ban 'psychological violence' within marriage.

The law would apply to cohabiting couples and to both men and women.

Would this mean no trash talking during fantasy football season?

While it seems initially like a good idea, and while real "psychological violence" can be incredibly abusing and ought to be addressed, I have my concerns. Who is to say what amounts to such violence and what doesn't? That is, who is to say what is criminal and what isn't? Couples fight and shout and say things that shouldn't be said, after all, and sometimes things can get nasty. That's normal, isn't it? Yes, it can go too far, but the risk is that the law could be far too broadly applied, with the state intruding into people's private lives, including into their bedrooms, with heavy-handed Orwellianism.

So while a man or woman should probably have some legal recourse in the event he or she is abused in this way, and while there may be occasion for the state to intervene with criminal charges, this is a delicate area where the state should be careful to tread. The intent may be admirable, but this law, it seems to me, fails to account for the nature of the intense, intimate relationships between consenting adults (if one partner doesn't consent, that's another matter). To the extent that the law is even implementable, it's a potential quagmire of abuse and misuse.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Why conservatives don't like Avatar

"'Avatar' arouses conservatives' ire," reports the L.A. Times.

Because, of course, conservatives are big on white-on-non-white colonialism and raping the environment, and so hate the movie for its liberalism (because, apparently, it's objectionable to treat non-whites like human beings and to preserve the natural environment as sustainable of human life), and many of them, including those quoted in the article, are cultural simpletons and ideological extremists who wave the flag and push the cross with oppressive glee and domineering, hegemonic enthusiasm.


Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Sen. Byron Dorgan announces retirement

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has announced that he will not stand for re-election this year, "creating a major pickup opportunity for Republicans," as Chris Cillizza puts it.

North Dakota is a solidly red state, after all -- despite Dorgan's solid hold on the seat since '92 -- and whoever the Republican nominee is (probably Gov. John Hoeven) will be a heavy favourite to be Dorgan's successor.

So is this "un-spinnably bad news for the Democrats," as Nate Silver puts it? It's hard to think otherwise at this point.

And with a loss likely, Democrats will just have to look elsewhere to pick up a seat to maintain the status quo.


Dorgan isn't the only Democrat stepping down this year. As Cillizza is reporting, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is "expected to announce he will not seek re-election" at a press conference later today.

The difference here is that the Democrats should hold the seat, with State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Dodd's likely successor. (Given Dodd's deep unpopularity in his home state, Blumenthal should be a stronger Democratic candidate anyway.)


But back to Dorgan. Through my connections at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, I published two guest posts by him this past fall, and I encourage you to check them out:

He was at times too centrist and Republican-friendly for my liking, but he was solidly liberal on many of the issues that really matter, and his retirement will be a loss both for the Senate and for the Democratic Party.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright

By Carl

In the forest, in the...nude?
Well, sort of...:
(CBS) While Tiger Woods remains holed up in seclusion more than a month after his Thanksgiving Day crash, never-before-seen images of the world's No. 1 golfer have surfaced in this month's Vanity Fair, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.

A bare-chested Woods graces the cover of the magazine -- Woods holding a dumbbell in each hand.

The shots, taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz back in January of 2006, give a rare glimpse into the life of the world's most guarded athlete.

The words I've heard bandied about here are "intense, dedicated, raw".

In other words, practically (save for "dedicated") the opposite of his persona.

There's a lesson here for all of us who admire celebrities: don't.

Don't admire anyone who hires a publicist or a manager or an agent or charge d'affaires. The image you are admiring is likely not what that person really is, and if you have to aspire to a fictional character, then aspire to fiction with your eyes open. Admire Captain Kirk, or Luke Skywalker, or Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Or admire what Woods could have been, because it's clear he is not whom he was presented to be.

I have often wondered why we swallow these images whole. Part of me thinks it goes back to the Bible, and those tales of superhuman endurance and semi-divine men and women who walked our planet and left footprints that by rights we are unworthy to follow, but who probably were human to begin with.

Even Jesus had a temper, in other words, but we are offered him as a God who was perfect, which we should aspire to even tho we are guaranteed to fail. Similarly, we conflate heroism on humans, taking a talent or small act and assuming the entire soul follows in those footsteps. And vice versa. We assume evil is evil through and through, even if simple observation of the people around us shows that people are neither good nor bad, but a mix, so even saints and devils must have a little of both.

It's clear that Woods was not the ultranice citizen of the world he claimed to be. In these photos, he shows a complete narcissistic side of himself, a man in love with being Tiger Woods, a man who gives flinchingly to others of whom he is.

Ask Elin if you don't believe that last bit. In exchange for selling his soul, his essence, he signed a bondage agreement with a wife, his sponsors and a sport that values dignity and comportment above improved play or score. The scary bit is, what's going on in that sport that is going on in other sports, that golf is not talking about openly? How different will golf's image be once the steroid and amphetamine scandals erupt from the clubhouses?

How will golf survive? It won't attract the kind of sponsors it does now, upscale investment banks and luxury cars, and it won't be able to assume an image that's more down to earth (maybe if the LPGA was forced to play in bikinis and have implants, and the PGA was forced to play in Speedos and have full contact).

And maybe it shouldn't. Golf has always tried to walk a fine line between sport and diversion. Golf is a sport the way walking is a sport: it's a fine way to pass time if you've got gobs of it to waste, but to sit and watch someone engaging in it is an even bigger waste of time. In this regard, setting up a webcam on a busy street ought to be classified as sport.

And it dumbs down the definition of sport while it debases its true nature. Fractally, this reflects in Woods' own persona. He's dumbed himself down in order to fit into a sport that denies his true nature. The most interesting comment I've heard on the entire mess was on the Today Show this morning, when some yahoo told him to show up at the Masters riding a Harley, tattoos all over his arms, unshaven, win the tournament, throw away the green jacket and hook up with the first woman he comes across in the press tent after demolishing the competition.

I concur, actually. Be who you are, Tiger. Stop pleasing everyone else around you. You are the most talented golfer on the planet, and you shouldn't have to lower yourself to some image that others have of you.

Does it really matter if you earn $100 million a year or $50 million a year? Endorsements will come simply because of the talent. It may take a while, but you're very young and eventually people will not only forgive you, they'll come to see your point of view.

Fuck redemption. Teach the world a lesson about getting the fucking sticks out of its collective ass.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share