Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Depressing "Aha" Moment

our Demon has been preoccupied, ever since she began this old-fashioned broadside of a blog, with a single question:
What the hell is wrong with this country that things have gone so horribly awry in terms not only of civil discourse in politix between Americans themselves (the bitter carping & shout-fests of competing soundbytes & talking points said "debate" has become), but worse, how the extreme hard right has so successfully skewed the national conversation such that they've managed to invade a sovereign country, sell us on the necessity of same with no more honesty nor compunction than a used car salesman peddling a beater with a turned-back odometer, & have generally succeeded in turning a tempest in a teapot into a "Global War on Terror" ~ and here's the clincher, the cherry on top ~the "normalization" of lying, spying, extraordinary rendition & torture as the ordinary stuff of daily political life.
Are we outraged yet? (Apparently not.)
Once upon a time long ago, I was visiting Western Germany, & one of my hosts asked me (an Irishwoman, & in all sincerity), "What is the difference between your liberals & your conservatives in America?" I had to admit then, "Not much," with a laugh, but that was some time ago, & I no longer think it's a wryly amusing matter.
The question was prescient.
In fact, I now think that our complacence as liberals & our willingness to tolerate the pernicious effect of corporate money in politix as well as our inattention to other matters such as how easy it is otherwise to jerry-rig voting machines, & to jerrymander voting districts, has come back to bite our asses, big time.
Worse, & I hate to even think it, much less say it out loud ~ our high level of tolerance & blind adherence to 18th Century Enlightenment principles, based on calm, rational discussion & belief that if we provide a "marketplace of ideas" and conduct ourselves appropriately, "the truth will out," and a sort of rational sanity will prevail.
That was before the Neocons snuck up on us, consolidating their power slowly, & now, in the full flower of the Bush years, our own liberal brand of tolerance has allowed the rabid neo-cons to storm us like the radical bunch of Berserkers they are, hell bent on undermining every legal underpinning of democracy here at home and wreaking untold havoc on the rest of the world.
The problem is that the "marketplace of ideas" paradigm only functions well where accurate information is shared in transparent fashion. We're fed only propaganda, shallow jingoism, lies, distortions & cover-ups, & it's getting mighty hard to defend our core principles in the face of all that noise.
So, where now, intrepid fellow liberals?


Friday, October 26, 2007

Lying, Spying & Torture (In No Particular Order)

~ As I was sayin' ~ a compendium of very recent news ~

Dems force White House to provide info on wiretaps:,,2199279,00.html

Mukasey's nomination for AG stumbles on torture:
Circuit Court redacts info on torure:

France deliberating whether to file charges against Rumsfeld for torture:

Jurist Guest Columnist on Extraordinary Rendition:
"'Extraordinary rendition' is an oxymoron. It is a blended term that implies there is a legal basis for kidnapping people and delivering them to third party country thumbscrew and shocks-to-the-gonads artists. Plain old rendition, of course, is the delivery of people to justice in foreign jurisdictions under the terms of treaties and in accordance with other legal constraints. The 'extraordinary' part of "extraordinary rendition," on the other hand, is simply a codeword for extrajudicial kidnappings that can only be taken in the pitch black world where law cannot go. These 'snatches' have mounted into the hundreds over the last six years, but there has never been any judicial or statutory authorization for this activity. "

Also from Jurist: Former Gitmo prosecutor alleges political interference:

State Department hampers investigations of Blackwater by conferring immunity:;_ylt=ApukQGn88bHEnyTKLOshH1xh24cA

Bush was aware of legal problems with jurisdiction over Blackwater; said he delegated the problem ("That's how I work"):

UN Human Rights expert, "Scheinin, a law professor from Finland appointed by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, issued a preliminary report after visiting the United States in May. His final report was issued on Monday, coinciding with the report to the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee."

He urged the US & CIA to end the practice of extraordinary rendition here:, also express[ing] regret to the committee that he couldn't interview detainees at Guantanamo in private."

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The Daily Twitter ~ Conservative Reaction to California Wildfires

Bonehead of the Day Award to Glenn Beck
~ Outstrips his nearest competitors Limbaugh, O'Reilly & Coulter ~

o, kittens, your Demon does not think large swaths of the California countryside burning out of control is funny, really ~ just the (by now predictable) unhinged & out of touch conservative reaction to it.
Seems Beck had a stellar moment in hate-spew radio when he confused the uber-conservative San Diego county with liberals & other wastrels deserving of a natural disaster.
In case you missed it, here it is, courtesy of that scourge of America-loving right-thinkers everywhere, Media Matters: " A handful of people who hate America are losing their homes today..."
In the meantime, the infamous Bush-based FEMA was rolling out another instance of its by-now-familiar reaction to another unthinkable natural disaster--a PR campaign & media-manipulation gambit replete with fake news & fake reporters ~ who turned out to be FEMA staffers, at least according to the WaPo:
"Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices.
"They were given an 800 number to call in, though it was a 'listen only' line, the notice said -- no questions. Parts of the briefing were carried live on Fox News (see the Fox News video of the news conference carried on the Think Progress Web site), MSNBC and other outlets.
[FEMA official] "Johnson stood behind a lectern and began with an overview before saying he would take a few questions. The first questions were about the 'commodities' being shipped to Southern California and how officials are dealing with people who refuse to evacuate. He responded eloquently.
"He was apparently quite familiar with the reporters -- in one case, he appears to say 'Mike' and points to a reporter -- and was asked an oddly in-house question about 'what it means to have an emergency declaration as opposed to a major disaster declaration' signed by the president. He once again explained smoothly.
"FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker interrupted at one point to caution he'd allow just 'two more questions.' Later, he called for a 'last question.'
"'Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?' a reporter asked. Another asked about 'lessons learned from Katrina.'
"'I'm very happy with FEMA's response so far,' Johnson said, hailing 'a very smoothly, very efficiently performing team.'
"'And so I think what you're really seeing here is the benefit of experience, the benefit of good leadership and the benefit of good partnership,' Johnson said, 'none of which were present in Katrina.' (Wasn't Michael Chertoff DHS chief then?) Very smooth, very professional. But something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.
"Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We're told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of external affairs, and by 'Mike' Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John 'Pat' Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin. [Emphasis mine.]
"Asked about this, Widomski said: 'We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute.'
Oh well ~ we only want Happy News, after all. And Bushco knows we want our government to deliver it to us, even if it means resorting to empty PR stunts, or something we would have expected from the old Soviet Politburo or Communist China (before they were our "friends.")

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Red Alert ~ Dumbledore is Gay!

Your Demon's vote for most scintillating tidbit of the day: former welfare queen & Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outs the headmaster of the Academy by revealing that Dumbledore is gay!
One can only hope that the news will help throw the American presidential elections toward the anti-gay right, fueled as they are bound to be by enraged parents demanding federal Constitutional amendments banning the reading of fictional works featuring gay characters (AND witchcraft) by their naiive little tots, poisoning said tots' minds irretrievably.

This is very important news, & I hope y'all are sufficiently distracted by it.
In other news, as we in the U.S. face another winter of stagnant wages, the greatest gap between rich & poor since the roaring '20's, kids without healthcare, & astronomical heating bills, the WaPo reports that we have a new definition of "energy hog" (besides your SUV) to worry about:
"One year ago, a 32-year-old trader at a giant hedge fund named Amaranth held huge sway over the price the country paid for natural gas. Trading on unregulated commodity exchanges, he made risky bets that led to the fund's collapse -- and, according to a congressional investigation, higher gas bills for homeowners.

"But as another winter approaches, lawmakers and federal regulators have yet to set up a system to prevent another big fund from cornering a vital commodity market. Called by some insiders the Wild West of Wall Street, commodity trading is a world where many goods that are key to national security or public consumption, such as oil, pork bellies or uranium, are traded with almost no oversight. "

Read on regarding this underrated plague, visited upon us by the American genius for "free markets:"

And, in a related nod to the GOP's belated concern for balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, thereby driving them deeper into destitution, consider this, in today's news, as well:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About 30 million low-income American households who will need help paying heating bills this winter from a U.S. government program will be left in the cold because of a lack of funding for the program. "

Now, good Christians, get back to worrying about fictional characters' sexual deviances, and the untoward effect even the availabilty of such smut on the shelves of your local bookstore is bound to have on your childrens' minds.
Are you your brother's keeper, after all? No? I didn't think so.

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