Saturday, May 08, 2010

Robert Gates is in the House!

By J. Thomas Duffy

This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn't I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He's six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you'd better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge.

It's a Good Life (The Twilight Zone)

No doubt, military-industrial contractors, around the country, will spend the night attempting to summoning Anthony, from the Twilight Zone, pleading with him to wish Secretary of Defense Robert Gates into the cornfield.

Look at all the bad things he's saying, they'll tell Anthony.

Doesn't that make Anthony angry, they ask Anthony, in-between whispers to wish Gates into the cornfield.

Then, they'll down their second/third/fourth martini.

Robert Gates was in the house!

Robert Gates ... In the mother-fucking house!

Speaking at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kan., on the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, Gates let those contractors know;

Robert Gates is in the mother-fucking house!

“Eisenhower was wary of seeing his beloved republic turn into a muscle-bound, garrison state—militarily strong, but economically stagnant and strategically insolvent,” Gates said.

Gates acknowledged that saving money in the defense budget “will mean overcoming steep institutional and political challenges, many lying outside the five walls of the Pentagon.”

Apart from making the case against the alternate engine for the F-35 and more C-17s, Gates raised the alarm over Congress’s resistance to increasing the premiums and co-pays on the military’s health insurance. The Pentagon has attempted in the last several years to make modest increases to the co-pays and premiums in order to bring the health care costs under control, Gates said.

“Leaving aside the sacred obligation we have to America’s wounded warriors, healthcare costs are eating the Defense Department alive, rising from $19 billion a decade ago to $50 billion—roughly the entire foreign affairs and assistance budget of the State Department,” Gates said.

In case tightening collars denied oxygen to their brains, and the contractors were gasping for air;

“Another category ripe for scrutiny should be overhead,” he said. “According to an estimate by the Defense Business Board, overhead, broadly defined, makes up roughly 40 percent of the Department’s budget.”

Gates said the Pentagon’s approach to coming up with the requirements for specific programs and contract must change. Requirements for weapons systems should be based on a “wider real world context,” he said.

And, not to be overlooked, Gates threw down against the Congress;

“For example, should we really be up in arms over a temporary projected shortfall of about 100 Navy and Marine strike fighters relative to the number of carrier wings, when America’s military possesses more than 3,200 tactical combat aircraft of all kinds?” Gates asked in a reference to the congressional push to buy more Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets.

“Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?”

Here that Congress?

Robert Gates is in the mother-fucking house!

Libby Spencer, over on The Impolitic, knows that Robert Gates is in the mother-fucking house.

I've been thinking about this for the last few months. It's good to see DefSec Gates address wasteful military spending. He takes on all the sacred cows inside the Pentagon including medical benefits and so-called overhead, but I think the big money is in unnecessary equipment.

John Nichols, over on The Nation, knows Robert Gates is in the mother-fucking house;

The question, of course, is whether members of House and Senate -- Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals -- are prepared to recognize that real world context and operate within it.

The fact of the matter is that no discussion of cutting spending, balancing budgets and reducing deficits is serious if it does not include a discussion of how to cut Pentagon waste and abuse.

The Secretary of Defense is ready for that discussion.

Hear that military-industrial contractors?

Hear that Congress?

And Anthony, you ain't got a cornfield big enough, cuz....

Robert Gates is in the mother-fucking house!

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Bossa Nova Bomb?

By Capt. Fogg

I struggle to understand why Brazil needs nuclear submarines. It's a country where the interior is extremely difficult to penetrate or control and where the coastal cities have horrifying slums controlled by gangs and where poverty is rampant. How real is the threat of invasion? How real is the desire to be the alpha dog of South America?

Of course one benefit of having nuclear powered subs is that the military can impose secrecy on the fissionable materials it stockpiles as fuel and in that secrecy can use it to make nuclear weapons. There are indications that this is just what they're doing or are about to do, with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva expressing irritation at the US monopoly on nuclear weapons in South America and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

So why the hell does Brazil, it's recovering economy notwithstanding, need the Bomb? I suppose it's because it simply feels it can -- and with the US busy chasing its own tail, hell bent on self-destruction and anarchy, who is to say it can't?

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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You can't make this up

By Mustang Bobby.

Sarah Palin is at it again:

"[O]ur Constitution, of course, essentially acknowledging that our unalienable rights don't come from man; they come from God. So this document is set up to protect us from a government that would ever infringe upon our rights to have freedom of religion and to be able to express our faith freely."

As Steve Benen notes, the concept of "unalienable rights" comes from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, and nowhere in the Constitution is God or the bible cited as a source for anything. Anyone who was paying attention in Grade 5 history class could both tell the difference between the two documents and tell you what is and what isn't in them. And you can't make this stuff up.

Her defenders will say, "Oh, well, she just misspoke; she does know the difference." No, apparently she does not, because she went on to rhapsodize:

"I think we should kind of keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They're quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 Commandments. It's pretty simple."

Aside from the glaring misinterpretation of reality, what boggles the mind is that a lot of people actually take Sarah Palin seriously and consider her to be a viable candidate for President. Of the United States.

The question then becomes not how stupid are the people who would consider such a possibility without falling down, but how the hell can anyone in their right mind even let this sort of discussion take place? Sarah Palin can blather on with her gross and willful misinterpretation of history, and she's entitled to whatever opinion she wants, but the idea of taking her seriously as anything other than an ignorant laughingstock is deeply disturbing for the future of our country.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Friday, May 07, 2010

The Reaction in review (May 3-7, 2010)

A week's reactions that deserve a second look:



By Creature: "Jobs" -- The king of succinct closes our week with some very good news on the U.S. economy.

By Capt. Fogg: "Audacity" --  Fogg at his finest, with one of his trademark rants, argues persuasively  that it takes a great deal of audacity for the right wing fringe to accuse liberals of the sin of hate.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Bigots, rent boys, and right-wing Christian hypocrisy -- update" -- Michael posted twice on the "George Rekers hypocrisy extravaganza."  See also Wednesday's good piece.



By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Hung Parliament?" -- The Reaction's Canadian editor effectively explains what is going on with the parliamentary election in the United Kingdom.

By J. Thomas Duffy: "CSI Metropolis" -- Duffy the movie buff reports that footage has been restored to the old classic, Fritz Lang's, 'Metropolis.'

By Distributorcap: "May 4 Ohio" -- Our newest contributor has presented an outstanding post about the killing of students at Kent State in 1970, bringing important perspective to the current polarization of the body politic.



By Creature: "Energy bill in doubt" -- Our associate editor figured out why: "A + B should = C, but it never seems to when $ is part of the equation."

By Capt. Fogg: "Joe the Dumber" --  The good captain exposes the outrageousness of Sen. Joe Lieberman, asking, "
What does Lieberman hope to accomplish other than to give hope to the barbarian Right that we can do as we like to anyone who isn't a citizen?"

By J. Thomas Duffy: "Top Ten Cloves: Reasons Dick Cheney was visiting Saudi Arabia" -- In one of his trademark special roundup features, Duffy counts down why the ex-Veep might have visited Saudi Arabia  (with good links).


By J. Thomas Duffy:  "Postcards from a sad edge" -- JTD's fine review of "a great Roy Cohen Op-Ed" on fascism titled, "The Banality of Good," includes interesting illustrations as well as a couple of bonus links.

 By Capt. Fogg: "Heckuva Twist, Brownie" -- Fogg's wonderful capacity for irony makes this post, on the Broewnie (of Katrina fame) outrageous accusation against President Obama, a fun read.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Craziest Republicans of the Day:" (2 posts) Tom Emmer-MN and Ron Kirkland/Randy Smith -TN -- This day Michael noticed an awful lot of right wing Republican craziness going on regarding the Constitution and DADT.
By Creature: "No vote on SAFE Banking Act?" -- Quoting Simon Johnson's take that there will not be a vote on the Kaufman-Brown amendment, Creature argues that a vote  would be "a chance for preening politicians to put their constituents ahead of their big-money donors."  Creature urged phone calls to senators.



By Distributorcap: "Black is the new green" -- In his Reaction debut, the newest pony in our stable of writers, makes the very well written argument, "This massive oil spill is not a bump in the road to energy independence but rather another in a long list of somber warnings that we have to change our ways . . ."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Roman Polanski breaks his silence and admits nothing" -- In the latest in his series of posts on Polanski, Michael concludes, "I'd be a bit more sympathetic if he showed an iota of remorse, and if he were truly and genuinely honest both with himself and with us."  (Links to previous posts included).

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By Creature

Republicans may try to poo poo the new jobs numbers, but the fact remains: more jobs were added in the last month than had been added in the last four years. That's a good thing. Economists are happy and all signs point to even greater gains. Republicans should start looking for a new shtick.

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Amusing Photo of the Day: Guard the Vatican, Swiss!

From the G&M:

New recruits of the Vatican's elite Swiss Guard march during the swearing in ceremony at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The Swiss Guard, founded in 1506 and consisting of 100 volunteers who must be Swiss, Catholic, single, at least 174 centimetres tall and beardless, celebrate their 502nd anniversary this year.

Damn. No wonder they rejected my application. I'm well over 174 cm, I think, but it looks like I fail on all other counts. (By the way, can you be "elite" wearing those stupid costumes?)

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By Capt. Fogg

We're all aware that one of the rhetorical games people use to portray political opponents negatively is to call them name callers. A skillful user can frame any kind of protest as a hatefest and in our time, when the most vociferous denunciation of the sin of homosexuality seems to come from people who hire male prostitutes, it's not surprising that the angriest political protesters spend more time accusing others of the sin of anger. So the people out in the streets flaunting weapons and sometimes vicious signs make it a point to take offense at those "hate-filled" liberals who like to point out not only the misspellings, the sometimes amusing disparity between facts and their beliefs and often vicious rhetoric. "Look at the way they call us 'Teabaggers'" say the offended parties, foam on their lips still fresh from calling the President a Communist, Kenyan, Maoist disciple of Adolph Hitler. "Liberals are having a field day of hate."

What will they call me for pointing out that they were the first to use that silly term themselves? Jay Nordinger writing for the National Review Online has to admit it, but can't do it without repeating the calumny -- those liberal extremists like Rachel Maddow are nasty, childish name callers -- never mind that we "patriots" started calling them Nazis and Communists years ago for valid criticism of the Republican Administration: baby killers! Grandmother killers! America haters! Terrorist supporters! They should be more respectful or at least neutral.

Sure, there's name calling and there's name calling. Massive tax cuts intended to boost the economy were just that a few years ago, but now they're irresponsible and massive debt increases according to "Tea party patriots" ( to use the term that Nordinger insists we should use if we really were fair minded) and aren't I just a nasty name caller for pointing out the stunning hypocrisy? Isn't this just a hate site for publishing that? No, the Liberal Media like the National Review, controls the discourse and that is why it's become so nasty. By Liberal Media of course, I mean those terrorist sympathizers and Trotzkyites who want to grab your guns and turn your children Gay.

I'd hate to play poker with such people. It's more than just Botox that enables the propagandists and media manipulators and their candidates to say such things with straight faces. So when the Republican candidate for the Governorship of Florida comes on the air last night and with the flippant demeanor of someone explaining to preschoolers that fish swim and birds fly, tells us that "Obama thinks that more government is the solution to all problems."

I have to be in awe of his training, self control -- the sheer dishonesty of his audacity. As he was speaking, of course, one of our time's greatest ecological disasters was and is poisoning vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico and soon to poison a good part of the Atlantic ocean and all the sea life -- and all the result of taking government mandated safeguards out of the equation: the sum total of the Bush energy policy as written by BP and Exxon and Halliburton. When BP drills elsewhere in that oh so socialist world, they have to use a device that would have prevented this spill, but thanks to core Republican policy they got to save $500,000 and cost us untold billions. God only knows what the final cost of this disaster will be or how many decades it will take for the Gulf to begin to recover.

But there you are, I'm indulging in "hate" again when I should listen to Rush and accept that man made disaster is "natural" and after all, oil is part of nature and it's a liquid just like water and nature itself wants the oil cartel to make billions and billions and billions -- far more than it wants us to be healthy and prosper. I do try, but as they tell me I'm a liberalcommiefascist, it can't be easy to rid myself of that ugly old hate and go along with the flow.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Bigots, rent boys, and right-wing Christian hypocrisy -- update

More on the George Rekers hypocrisy extravaganza -- on which I first posted here -- from the Miami New Times:

The male escort hired by anti-gay activist George Alan Rekers has told Miami New Times the Baptist minister is a homosexual who paid him to provide body rubs once a day in the nude, during their ten-day vacation in Europe.

Rekers allegedly named his favorite maneuver the "long stroke" -- a complicated caress "across his penis, thigh... and his anus over the butt cheeks," as the escort puts it. "Rekers liked to be rubbed down there," he says.

In his first interview since New Times broke the story Tuesday, the 20-year-old escort, who prefers to go by the name Lucien, contradicts Rekers's contentions that he hired the escort to help carry his luggage and that he was trying to save the soul of a lost sinner.

Although Rekers does have physical ailments that make it difficult for him to haul suitcases, Lucien wasn't hired to carry luggage on their European vacation, the escort says.

"It's a situation where he's going against homosexuality when he is a homosexual," Lucien says.

Personally, I don't care what Rekers is into -- as long as it doesn't involve children or animals. But I do care that he's made a career out of promulgating anti-gay propaganda and working to "convert" homosexuals, and that he's been a major player on the bigoted, anti-gay Christian right along with the likes of James Dobson.

Forget this "Lucien" character. Rekers can go fuck himself.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Hung Parliament?

The latest from the BBC:

The Conservatives are on course to be the largest party in a hung parliament, after nearly 400 election results.

Tory leader David Cameron said it was "clear that the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern".

The Lib Dem vote was up 0.9% on 2005 and Labour down 6.4% after 399 results. The Conservatives are up 3.9%.

Although Labour are set to lose over 90 MPs, Gordon Brown said he wanted to play a part in the UK "having a strong, stable and principled government".

Downing Street says the Labour leader, re-elected in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, will try to form a coalition in the event of a hung Parliament.

But shadow foreign secretary William Hague says any attempt by Brown at securing a pact with Lib Dems "would be a shameless piece of politics".

Well, no. Presumably the Queen would ask Cameron first if he could form a government, but he'd only be able to form one with minority support in the House of Commons. If Brown could successfully put together a coalition with the LibDems, perhaps by agreeing to a national referendum on electoral reform (as the LibDems want the country to adopt a proportional representation system for elections to Westminster), among other things, he could make the case that he has the support of a majority of MPs and is therefore in a position to form a stable government. (If Cameron were to form a minority government, a Labour-LibDem coalition could defeat it on any confidence vote, forcing another election.)

But this is all just talk right now. Of course Brown is talking as if he could form a coalition government. What else is he to say? He can't give up -- not yet. I just wonder if the LibDems are prepared to sign on to Labour for the long run, or if they'd not rather sit back, let Cameron govern for a time, and try to build on their fairly strong support for the next election. I also wonder if Labour really wants Brown to remain in power, particularly at the head of a coalition government. Surely much of the party would rather just move on, even in defeat, putting the Blair-Brown years behind it and moving forward under new leadership.

We shall see. At it stands right now, Labour and the LibDems don't even have enough seats collectively to overcome the Tories. It's 213-157-33.

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A big, bad night -- NHL playoffs and British politics

No blogging from me today -- well, until now. A bad headache sidelined me last night and continued into today, which otherwise turned out to be a busy day.

But we do have new contributor Distributorcap's second post, a poignant look back at the killing at Kent State ("four dead in Ohio"), a post by JTD on Fritz Lang's Metropolis (a fine film, if not at the level of Lang's magnificent M), and four short, sharp, snappy posts from Creature.

I'll be back later with more, and I'll have more tomorrow as well, but right now I'm focused on:

a) Habs-Pens Game 4; and

b) British election returns.

As for the former, it's not going well. Pittsburgh's up 2-1 and I just don't think Montreal can keep up. The win over Washington was amazing, but the Penguins are a stronger team than the Capitals, more relentless overall, a solid team, where the Caps were all individual talent that the Habs were able to neutralize. But I'd say this is a bonus. I didn't expect us to get past Ovechkin et al., and so I'm just happy we're here, and happy that there seems to be hope for the future. Also, I'm a huge Crosby fan, and so if we can't win the Cup, I wouldn't mind seeing Pittsburgh repeat. Though I'd probably root for Vancouver over Pittsburgh this year. (Though Chicago may beat Vancouver anyway.)

As for the latter, it's also not going well. Well, it is, with Labour up 8-3-2 over the Tories and LibDems, but it looks like Cameron's Conservatives will pull off a victory and end up with a minority government. I can't say I care much for Labour these days, but I actually like Brown despite his foibles/failings and see him and Labour as the least bad option of the three. Ideologically, I like a lot about the LibDems, but I just don't think Clegg's ready for #10. (For the latest results, see here. For my thoughts on the election from last week, see here.)

Okay, blog to you later.


UPDATE: First, the Habs won! 3-2. Awesome. And unexpected. At least we're sure to go at least six games now.

Second, the story in the U.K. tonight is that the LibDems are lagging way behind in third place despite doing well in the popular vote (such is what happens in first-past-the-post systems) and that the Conservatives have a solid lead over Labour, so far winning most of the home counties -- in fact, if it weren't for Scotland, this would be a Tory landslide. England is blue today, and it looks like Cameron will be the next PM.

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CSI Metropolis

By J. Thomas Duffy

This was some bonus news, that came out yesterday;

Footage Restored to Fritz Lang's ‘Metropolis’

For fans and scholars of the silent-film era, the search for a copy of the original version of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” has become a sort of holy grail. One of the most celebrated movies in cinema history, “Metropolis” had not been viewed at its full length — roughly two and a half hours — since shortly after its premiere in Berlin in 1927, when it was withdrawn from circulation and about an hour of its footage was amputated and presumed destroyed.

But on Friday Film Forum in Manhattan will begin showing what is being billed as “The Complete Metropolis,” with a DVD scheduled to follow later this year, after screenings in theaters around the country. So an 80-year quest that ranged over three continents seems finally to be over, thanks in large part to the curiosity and perseverance of one man, an Argentine film archivist named Fernando Peña.

And why is this a big deal?

Made at a time of hyperinflation in Germany, “Metropolis” offered a grandiose version — of a father and son fighting for the soul of a futuristic city — that nearly bankrupted the studio that commissioned it, UFA. After lukewarm reviews and initial box office results in Europe, Paramount Pictures, the American partner brought in toward the end of the shoot, took control of the film and made drastic excisions, arguing that Lang’s cut was too complicated and unwieldy for American audiences to understand.


That a copy of the original print of “Metropolis” even existed in Buenos Aires was the result of another piece of serendipity. An Argentine film distributor, Adolfo Wilson, happened to be in Berlin when the film had its premiere, liked what he saw so much that he immediately purchased rights, and returned to Argentina with the reels in his luggage.

For too long, all these decades, 'Metropolis' was thought to be a science fiction movie.

From Wikipedia;

Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of the science fiction context to explore a political theme of the day: the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism.

The full-cut version now straightens that out;

The cumulative result is a version of “Metropolis” whose tone and focus have been changed. “It’s no longer a science-fiction film,” said Martin Koerber, a German film archivist and historian who supervised the latest restoration and the earlier one in 2001. “The balance of the story has been given back. It’s now a film that encompasses many genres, an epic about conflicts that are ages old. The science-fiction disguise is now very, very thin.”

When it comes out, and if 'Metropolis' is in a city near you, go check it out

Yet ...

While I have seen 'Metropolis' a few times, I was more partial, and liked better, Lang's "M", the riveting thriller, starring Peter Lorre, that "has become a classic which Lang himself considered his finest work."

Bonus Riffs

Ohhhh ... That's What Avatar Is About ...

One For The Film Buffs ... Max Ophuls

Rififi Director, Jules Dassin, Blacklisted, Dies at 96

Swedish Film Icon Ingmar Bergman Dead at 89 ; Police Depressed, Working Through Emptiness, Not Ruling Out Foul Play

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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FinReg amendments

By Creature

In a fair world the Kaufman-Brown break-up-the-big-banks amendment and the Sanders audit-the-Fed amendment would pass forcing the White House to make a choice the left has had to make since forever: support a bill they don't like in exchange for getting shit done.

I'm an Obama supporter, but watching the White House twist on this would be sweet after all the public-option bitter.

Update: Kaufman-Brown voted down 33-61. Not good. Not good at all. I expected better.


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The GOP's Tea bag conundrum

By Creature

How long will TeaBagger enthusiasm last when their candidates are losing elections? With so much invested in demonizing establishment GOP candidates, I don't see how they rationalize a vote for the same.

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May 4 Ohio

By Distributorcap

On Thursday April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon ordered American troops to invade Cambodia. On Monday May 4, 1970 the violence of Southeast Asia reached a university campus in Central Ohio.

In the span of less than 2 minutes, the Ohio National Guard sprayed bullets into a crowd of students protesting the expansion of a hated war. Four students were dead, nine others were wounded.

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Nixon had won the 1968 election over Hubert Humphrey, primarily due to America's growing bitterness toward the war in Vietnam. The split grew so severe, President Lyndon Johnson was practically run out of the election - withdrawing from contention on March 30, 1968. American troop levels in South Vietnam had peaked in 1967, and by 1969 - there were actual troop withdrawals from the war. Nixon's expansion surprised and angered the American population - especially those in college.

The day after Nixon's announcement, demonstrations sprung up around the country. Friday May 1 saw a 500 student protest on the Kent State Campus. That night there was looting in town. The next day Mayor Leroy Satrom asked Ohio Governor James Rhodes to sent National Guard troops to Kent. Later that night the ROTC building on campus was in flames. The National Guard was forced to use tear gas to quell the mayhem.

On Sunday, Governor Rhodes held a press conference, calling the protestors revolutionaries, communists and brownshirts. He threatened to ban any further demonstrations. On Sunday night there was another protest on the Kent State Campus.

On Monday, over 2,000 students gathered for another sit-in in the center of the University. After three days of violence and unruly crowds, the Ohio National Guard was ordered to disperse the crowds. When the police began to make there way into the crowd, rocks were tossed at a patrol jeep. When the Guard returned a bit later, this time they used tear gas. Wind weakened the effects of the gas - and again rocks were tossed at the National Guardsmen.

More Guardsmen were called in and began to advance on the students. As the student retreated over a small hill, the guard followed, ending up on a practice athletic field. Some of the students continued to taunt the Guardsmen. Then at 1224p - shots rang out in the direction of the students. 29 of the 70 or so National Guard fired their weapons.

Four students were shot dead, nine were wounded. Two of the four dead were protestors, the other two were literally walking to class.

In the aftermath of the shootings, hundreds of colleges and high schools closed down due to student strikes and protests. It is estimated over 4 millions students protested in the months following. Kent State closed for six weeks.

For years debate and allegations raged. The Guard claimed they fear for lives. Other shooters claimed it was an accident. Each side blamed the other.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground.
How can you run when you know?

In many ways, Kent State was a turning point (in a period with many turning points). Photographs of the dead were distributed around the world, including one of the most "iconic" images of the entire anti-war movement - 14 year old runaway Mary Ann Vecchio screaming in shock over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller. On May 9, over 100,000 people marched in Washington. Nixon was persuaded to leave town for his safety.

Ten days later, 2 students were shot dead at Jackson State while protesting.

In September - 25 people (including 24 students) were indicted due to the ROTC building fire. One was convicted, and 2 pled guilty. Eight of the Ohio Guardsmen were indicted. In 1974, the charges against the guard were dropped. A civil case against the guard, the governor and the University resulted in verdicts for all the defendants. That case was also tossed. The case was then settled and the defendants had to publicly apologize.

To this day - it is not known exactly why the shots were fired.

In 1970, America was deeply split over a war that was going nowhere and killing thousands of troops. In 2010, America is again deeply split - a split that has been exacerbated by a war that is going nowhere and killing American soldiers. And like in 1970 - America is finding itself not only involved in a misguided and immoral foreign war - but at war with itself.

But this time the societal split is not just along generational lines. It is cultural, it is religious, it is economic - and like 1860 it is now racial. I fear for the next Kent State.

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

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By Creature

BP CEO Tony Hayward:

BP “will honour all legitimate claims for business interruption”. Asked for examples of illegitimate claims, he said: “I could give you lots of examples. This is America — come on. We’re going to have lots of illegitimate claims. We all know that.”

The disdain from our corporate overlords is unending.

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Lindsey Graham likes his terrorists packing heat

By Creature

In Graham's world not all constitutional rights are created equal.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Top Ten Cloves: Reasons Dick Cheney was visiting Saudi Arabia

News Item: Why Was Cheney in Saudi Arabia?

10. Moonlighting for Fox News - Trying to get Saudis to say Oil Spill is Obama's fault

9. Picking up royalty check, for invading Iraq

8. Trying to give The Politico a scoop

7. Made a pit stop, after visiting Prince Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in the UAE, who lined up someone for Cheney to beat and run over

6. Looking for a buyer - Wants to put his old Secret Bunker on the market, for big bucks

5. No here will go hunting with him any longer

  4. Saudis wanted to hear, first hand, the telling of the Leahy "Go-fuck-yourself" story

3. Felt he had to, personally, go over and explain his rabid, nitwit daughter Liz

2. Moonlighting as "Bag Man" for the Carlyle Group

1. Working out a "No Extradition" deal, in the event he gets prosecuted

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Exposing the hypocrisy at the heart of the anti-government GOP

WaPo's Dana Milbank exposes the utter hypocrisy of anti-government conservatives like the ones who head up the Republican Party these days:

There is something exquisite about the moment when a conservative decides he needs more government in his life.

About 10:30 Monday morning, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), an ardent foe of big government, posted a blog item on his campaign Web site about the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "I strongly believe BP is spread too thin," he wrote.

The poor dears. He thinks it would be a better arrangement if "federal and state officials" would do the dirty work of "protecting and cleaning up the coast" instead of BP.

About an hour later came word from the Pentagon that Alabama, Florida and Mississippi -- all three governed by men who once considered themselves limited-government conservatives -- want the federal government to mobilize (at taxpayer expense, of course) more National Guard troops to aid in the cleanup.

That followed an earlier request by the small-government governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal (R), who issued a statement saying he had called the Obama administration "to outline the state's needs" and to ask "for additional resources." Said Jindal: "These resources are critical."

About the time that Alabama, Florida and Mississippi were asking for more federal help, three small-government Republican senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama and George LeMieux of Florida, were flying over the gulf on a U.S. government aircraft with small-government Republican Rep. Jeff Miller (Fla.).

"We're here to send the message that we're going to do everything we can from a federal level to mitigate this," Sessions said after the flight, "to protect the people and make sure when people are damaged that they're made whole."

Sessions, probably the Senate's most ardent supporter of tort reform, found himself extolling the virtues of litigation -- against BP. "They're not limited in liability on damage, so if you've suffered a damage, they are the responsible party," said Sessions, sounding very much like the trial lawyers he usually maligns.

All these limited-government guys expressed their belief that the British oil company would ultimately cover all the costs of the cleanup. "They're not too big to fail," Sessions said.

I apologize for the long blockquote, but that's some hilariously revealing stuff there. Go read the whole piece.

For more, see Steve Benen: "It's the kind of routine hypocrisy and ideological inconsistency that occurs on a nearly daily basis."

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Energy bill in doubt

By Creature

If a disaster like the one unfolding in the Gulf is not enough to ensure an energy bill with a huge push toward clean energy and an ever bigger push away from the dirty than we are doomed as a country.

A + B should = C, but it never seems to when $ is part of the equation.


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Los Suns

The Phoenix Suns, the NBA's team in the Police State of Arizona, has done the right thing in coming out firmly against the abhorrent immigration bill.

Managing Partner Robert Sarver, with the full support of the players (and with the approval of the league), has decided that the team will wear "Los Suns" jerseys for Game 2 of its second-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs tonight. It's also Cinco de Mayo today, but the decision is a direct response to the legislation.

The Spurs apparently want to wear "Los Spurs" jerseys but may not be able to get them on time. (The Suns wore "Los Suns" jerseys earlier this year.)


I looked around our plane and looked at our players and the diversity in our organization. I thought we need to go on record that we honor our diversity in our team, in the NBA and we need to show support for that...

I don't think it's the right way to handle the immigration problem, No. 1. No. 2, as I read through the bill, it felt to me a little bit like it was mean-spirited and I personally just don't agree with it. In addition, one of the main priorities right now for our state is to get jobs for people. The enactment of this bill just puts us farther behind the eight-ball in attracting companies to do business here and I think it will have a negative economic effect and a negative effect on our ability to create jobs for people who are looking for work.

Hopefully, it's all going to get worked out and the federal government will step in and there'll be a national solution. I realize that immigration is a problem and we have issues that need to be dealt with. I just don't think this bill accomplishes that.

The great (and Canadian) Steve Nash:

It's a clear-cut issue for me. I don't agree with this bill. I don't agree with the spirit of the bill or the message it sends, not only to people in our community but how it represents our community across the country and the world.

I think the bill opens up the opportunity for racial profiling, racism. I think it puts the police in an incredibly difficult position that isn't fair to them. It's an infringement on our civil liberties to allow the possibility for inequality to arise in our community.

General Manager Steve Kerr:

It's hard to imagine in this country that we have to produce papers," Kerr said. "It rings up images of Nazi Germany. We understand that the intentions of the law are not for that to happen but you have to be very, very careful. We feel like it was well-intended but maybe not well-executed. As a result, this state is taking a huge economic hit.

I think he's being too nice. The legislation is not "well-intended" -- and the consequences obviously aren't just economic. It is a proposed law crafted by conservative white Arizonans and aimed directly at non-white (and mainly Hispanic) Arizonans. The intention is pretty clear.

Good for the Suns for taking a firm stand and sending a clear message on a significant political issue, a rarity in professional sports these days.

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Bigots, rent boys, and right-wing Christian hypocrisy

Dan Savage provides us with our Headline of the Day:

Well, maybe.

In this case, the bigot is George Alan Rekers, co-founder (with James Dobson) of the right-wing fundamentalist-evangelical Family Research Council, member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization that supposedly "cures" homosexuality, and author of Shaping Your Child's Sexual Identity, the title of which says it all.

The Miami New Times has the details. Rekers was spotted with a "rent boy" (from, as one might guess) at Miami International Airport last month. The rent boy's online profile "touts his 'smooth, sweet, tight ass' and 'perfectly built 8 inch cock (uncut)' and explains he is 'sensual,' 'wild,' and 'up for anything' -- as long you ask first. And as long as you pay."

Good times. Especially, it seems, for right-wing, anti-gay Christian bigots.

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Joe the Dumber

By Capt. Fogg

Senator Joe Lieberman is a cheap, pandering whore without a principle in his head and without much concern for history. Instead of being able to come up with some means to combat and prevent acts of terrorism, he's still looking for ways to make a criminal organization into a superpower complete with Army, Navy, Air Force and probably nuclear missiles. Any one working for a foreign terrorist organization should be stripped of his rights as a citizen. He doesn't bother to clarify whether that's before or after a fair trial, but I suspect the whole idea of a fair trial is anathema to his sort of Neanderthal conservatism. What an idiotic response to a failed truck bomb: attack the cornerstone of American liberty.

I wonder if he stops to contemplate how the Jews of Europe were suddenly deemed by the German government as being agents of a hostile foreign power and stripped of citizenship -- allowing the confiscation of their property and their exile to death camps.

No, someone willing to kill hundreds of people at random in Times Square is going to be deterred by a subsequent withdrawal of his citizenship? The shade of Mohammad Atta is laughing in Hell. What about domestic terrorist/murderer Tim McVeigh? Oh, that's OK, he wasn't working for foreigners.

What does Lieberman hope to accomplish other than to give hope to the barbarian Right that we can do as we like to anyone who isn't a citizen? God only gave rights to Americans, you see.

Whether he doesn't bother to or doesn't have the brain power to dismiss that worthless gesture of idiot rage is something not worth speculating on, but it's obvious that Joe Lieberman is all about Joe Lieberman trying to get attention by once again trying to rattle the cage of the ignorati instead of adding anything worthwhile to an important effort.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Cheney's Chernobyl

Thank you, Skippy.

And spread the word, people. It's not Obama's Katrina, it's Cheney's Chernobyl.

How so? Check out William Galston at TNR (read it all -- it's important):

First, an oil-drilling procedure called cementing -- which is supposed to prevent oil and natural gas from escaping by filling gaps between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole bored into the ocean floor -- has been identified as a leading cause of well blowouts. Indeed, a 2007 study by the Minerals Management Service (or MMS, the division of the Interior Department responsible for offshore drilling) found that this procedure was implicated in 18 out of 39 blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over the 14 years it studied -- more than any other factor. Cementing, which was handled by Halliburton, had just been completed prior to the recent explosion. The Journal notes that Halliburton was also the cementer on a well that suffered a big blowout last August in the Timor Sea off Australia. While BP's management has been responsive to press inquiries and relatively forthcoming as to its responsibility, Halliburton has refused to answer any questions -- an all-too-familiar stance on its part.

And that's not all:

Second, the oil well now spewing large quantities of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico lacked a remote-control acoustic shutoff switch used by rigs in Norway and Brazil as the last line of defense against underwater spills. There's a story behind that. As the Journal reports, after a spill in 2000, the MMS issued a safety notice saying that such a back-up device is "an essential component of a deepwater drilling system." The industry pushed back in 2001, citing alleged doubts about the capacity of this type of system to provide a reliable emergency backup. By 2003, government regulators decided that the matter needed more study after commissioning a report that offered another, more honest reason: "acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly." I guess that depends on what they're compared to. The system costs about $500,000 per rig. BP is spending at least $5 million per day battling the spill, the well destroyed by the explosion is valued at $560 million, and estimated damages to fishing, tourism, and the environment already run into the billions.

There's something else we know, something that suggests an explanation for this sequence of events. After the Bush administration took office, the MMS became a cesspool of corruption and conflicts of interest...

So here's my question: what is responsible for MMS's change of heart between 2000 and 2003 on the crucial issue of requiring a remote control switch for offshore rigs? What we do know is that unfettered oil drilling was to Dick Cheney's domestic concerns what the invasion of Iraq was to his foreign policy -- a core objective, implacably pursued regardless of the risks. Is there a connection between his infamous secret energy task force and the corrupt mindset that came to dominate a key program within MMS? Would $500,000 per rig have been regarded as an unacceptably expensive insurance policy if a drill-baby-drill administration hadn't placed its thumb so heavily on the scale?

Very good questions indeed.

It's one thing (and bad enough) to do offshore drilling, quite another (and worse) to do it according to Bush and Cheney, that is, without the appropriate safeguards.

We are witnessing the catastrophic consequences of that gross negligence and irresponsibility, stemming directly from Cheney's pro-corporate (pro-Halliburton) laissez-faire ideology, in the Gulf of Mexico and, increasingly, along the oil-coated shores of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

It's an environmental nightmare, and Dick Cheney, along with those on his side (the drill-baby-drillers and the enablers of corporate recklessness), have some explaining to do.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Postcards from a sad edge

By J. Thomas Duffy

If the Teabaggers think they have it tough, being called names, dissed, and otherwise, not taken seriously, it's a walk-in-the-park compared to others.

At least they are not being murdered for their opposition, for slandering the President, the government

Roger Cohen, in today's NYT Op-Ed page, has a great read - "The Banality of Good";

What was it like? I would ask myself, the years I lived in Berlin. What was it like in the leafy Grunewald neighborhood to watch your Jewish neighbors — lawyers, businessmen, dentists — trooping head bowed to the nearby train station for transport eastward to extinction?

With what measure of fear, denial, calculation, conscience and contempt did neighbors who had proved their Aryan stock to Hitler’s butchers make their accommodations with this Jewish exodus? How good did the schnapps taste and how effectively did it wash down the shame?

How's them apples for an opener?

Cohen quickly elucidates;

Now I know. Thanks to Hans Fallada’s extraordinary “Every Man Dies Alone,” just published in the United States more than 60 years after it first appeared in Germany, I know. What Irène Némirovsky’s “Suite Française” did for wartime France after six decades in obscurity, Fallada does for wartime Berlin. Like all great art, it transports, in this instance to a world where, “The Third Reich kept springing surprises on its antagonists: It was vile beyond all vileness.”

Fallada, born Rudolf Ditzen, wrote his novel in less than a month right after the war and just before his death in 1947 at the age of 53. The Nazi hell he evokes is not so much recalled as rendered, whole and alive. The prose is sinuous and gritty, like the city he describes. Dialogue often veers toward sadistic folly with a barbaric logic that takes the breath away.

"Vile beyond all vileness ..."

I don't know if you can even begin comprehending, processing such a magnitude of evil.

The book is based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel, whose postcard campaign — “Hitler’s war is the worker’s death!” — frustrated the Gestapo until the couple’s capture in October 1942 and subsequent beheading. Fallada, a sometime morphine addict who lived in and out of asylums, got hold of the Hampel police files through a friend in late 1945, wrote a journalistic account that year, and then, in a burst of creativity, the novel.


The book pulses with the street life of a terrorized city, full of sleaze, suspicion, drunkenness, desperation and murder. It proclaims the bestial sadism of which man is capable and the enormous moral stature of decency. It has something of the horror of Conrad, the madness of Dostoyevsky and the chilling menace of Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”


From Elizabeth Bachner;

If Primo Levi told me to crawl underneath the Brooklyn bridge, naked, and read the graffiti there -- if he were here to suggest that -- I’d be swinging over the side of that bridge right now, even though it’s 30 degrees and the middle of rush hour.


So when I heard that Primo Levi had declared Hans Fallada’s long-obscure Every Man Dies Alone to be “the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis,” I tucked into its 500 pages with a feeling of razor-sharp glee mixed with dread, worried and hopeful that it would make me unable to live in the same way anymore.


Himmler planned on the Holocaust being an “unwritten page of glory.” Every unearthed manuscript or reprinted book like Every Man Dies Alone defeats that plan.

Go check out Cohn's entire article, it's a good one.

Bonus Links

Hans Fallada, From Wikipedia

Video of Anne Frank Surfaces on YouTube

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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A tale of two governors

1. Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a conservative Republican and occasional secessionist, suggested that the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may have been "an act of God" that could not have been prevented." Needless to say, he wants offshore oil drilling to continue.

2. Also yesterday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican with an independent streak and a solid environmental record, reversed his position on offshore oil drilling in the wake of the spill. He is now against it: "You turn on the television and see this enormous disaster, you say to yourself, 'Why would we want to take on that kind of risk?'"

Perry, evidently, is insane, while Schwarzenegger continues to be one of the few voices of reason and responsibility in a party that generally shuns reason and responsibility altogether.

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Heckuva Twist, Brownie

By Capt. Fogg

When you want to get the best advice on how to treat a disaster, who're you gonna call? Well certainly not the "enviros" who might know something about nature and how it works. Certainly you don't ask advice from people who have been telling you it was going to happen any day now after the day actually arrived. That would be to close to admitting you were wrong. No, you want to hear from someone whose personal record of handling catastrophic situations has become a metaphor for bungling and incompetence: you ask Brownie.

Of course the hottest new dance, the Tea Party Twist, has the baggers in knots trying to blame Obama for the latest Gulf oil disaster, the kind of disaster we've all been warned about and have been laughed at for worrying about. We dare not mention George and Dick who actually were partying it up while New Orleans drowned and doing Lord knows what for days afterward since it might diminish the outrageous new claim that Obama stalled doing anything about this oil spill so as to maximize the tragedy and give him an excuse to "pander to the environmentalists." You remember them, they're the guys who were to blame for the high prices that made the oil industry so happy?

Come on baby, let's do the twist:
"This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, 'I'm gonna shut it down because it's too dangerous,' " No, this would never have happened but for President Hussein.
"This president has never supported Big Oil, he's never supported offshore drilling, and now he has an excuse to shut it back down."
whined Brownie through the microphones at Fox without regard to the fact that "back down" would indicate that it had ever been shut down and that Obama hadn't been saying all along that he was in favor of drilling when needed if it could be done safely. No he hasn't yet joined Rush in claiming that environmentalist hippies in diving gear sunk the platform and he hasn't mentioned the failure of the safety equipment from Halliburton -- who would dare? Why mention that the free market is supposed to take care of this, not that durned Gummint. Who would be so unpatriotic and nonpartisan as to mention the truth? Lady Sarah after all says we need people to trust the oil industry. That means we need people to distrust the (Democratic) government if not Democracy itself.

So let's go, the band is playing and it's the Blame it on Obama Cha-Cha. Who can resist? Play it loud and you won't hear me blaming this on official drill baby drill Republican policy.

Blame it on ObamUH
Blame it on ObamUH!

Come on everybody!

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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(More) Craziest Republicans of the Day: Ron Kirkland and Randy Smith

More and more CRDs...

As Think Progress reports, at a recent Tea Party event featuring candidates for the Republican nomination for Tennessee's 8th Congressional District, Ron Kirkland and Randy Smith objected to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and made some rather nasty comments about gays in the military:

Kirkland, a Vietnam veteran, said of his time in the military: "I can tell you if there were any homosexuals in that group, they were taken care of in ways I can't describe to you."

Smith, who served in the first Iraqi war, added: "I definitely wouldn't want to share a shower with a homosexual. We took care of that kind of stuff, just like [Kirkland] said."

Kirkland later said it was just a "joke" but that "[t]hings don't go well in military barracks when you have 50 guys sleeping on top of each other." "It was just the reality of the way things were. It'd be the same as having men and women in the same barracks." Which makes you wonder how women would have been "taken care of." Smith, meanwhile, later said he was only concerned about hazing and violence, even though what he said tells us that he "took care of that kind of stuff," presumably through hazing/violence. As for his other comment, what is he so worried about in the shower? Does he honestly believe that a gay man wouldn't be able to resist trying to get it on with him? When homophobia and arrogant self-regard combine like this, it's all so ridiculous as to be disregarded as utterly insane, if it weren't for the fact that it comes wrapped in bloodthirsty rage born of insecurity and self-loathing.

But this is what you get in the Republican Party these days, candidates for national office who think nothing of essentially sanctioning violence against gays, and admitting proudly that they are guilty of it themselves.

It's the party, that is, of Code Red:

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Who cares?

By Capt. Fogg

Can we call public reaction to the Gulf oil spill predictable? I'm not surprised that a CNN poll yesterday shows 47% don't approve of the way the President has handled it, but I would be surprised if many of that group really have no idea of what Obama has or hasn't done -- perhaps the majority of them, perhaps more. Of course the poll isn't scientific and it didn't ask how many people approve of BP's safety record or of the Halliburton safety equipment that failed. It's just another chance for people to show that they really disapprove of the man being in office. Another CNN poll today shows that 61% favor the continuation of drilling. I wonder how many of them live far inland.

Has anyone else noticed the lack of notice that 11 people are missing and presumed dead; either burned alive or drowned in the oil rig explosion and sinking? Shouldn't we be lionizing them for having died for cheaper oil which after all is the only thing that keeps us free and in God's good graces? No, that's predictable too. No talk of sacrifice when it comes to oil please, since it may lead some to consider what sacrifices are worth it and who should be making them. It may prompt people to ask whether the loss of jobs and industries makes the penny or two's difference in the cost of crude worth more and more destruction of the oceans we depend on for food and oxygen.

It's all too easy for us to keep the blinders on. We're too occupied with this week's groceries and next week's mortgage payment and American Idol and Obama bashing and besides we're so damned ignorant of how nature works we can't make the connection between the fish sticks and the fish they come from - if there is any.

Yes, the free market will take of everything and a bull will eventually find his way out of a china shop and besides I don't have time to care about it. I've got to pick up the kids from school and take them to soccer practice and yoga and put gas in the SUV . . . .

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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