I have another demonstration uploaded on my pastel site. Click the pic to go to the (image intensive) demo.
The Prairie Angel returns from her galactic wandering and finds mischief afoot!
I have another demonstration uploaded on my pastel site. Click the pic to go to the (image intensive) demo.
Fired for your religion
I had the chance to interview Dorothy Morrison yesterday. She's the author of several magical books we stock in my store, and she and K.R. Sellars, author of the Rowan Gant mystery series, are going to be having a book signing with us on August 27th. Dorothy has recently moved to my local area, so I jumped at the chance to interview her. I hope the interview will be online soon.
But what I wanted to talk about here is her experience as a practitioner of a non-majority religion. You see, shortly after her first book, Magical Needlework, was published, she had a local booksigning - that is, in the town she then lived. And immediately thereafter, she was fired from her job running the local Humane Society.
You see, the board of directors knew she was Wiccan, and knew she practiced wiccan magick. They didn't have a problem with it... until everyone else also knew.
This is a kind of discrimination that is particularly pernious. Because it allows those who discriminate to say that they don't have a problem with [blacks, gays, Jews, wiccans], but they need to worry about people who do.
This is the soft bigotry of 'as long as it isn't In My Face'. You know the kind of thing I mean... "I don't care [what people do in their bedrooms, what church they go to], as long as they don't shove it in my face."
Soft Bigotry says "I don't mind sharing the planet with people who are different from me, as long as they agree to pretend that they're exactly like me. Or at least practice their 'differences' out of sight so I can continue to pretend that everyonne is just like me."
What conceited asses. Clue Alert - I hate to hurt your widdle feelings, but it's not all about you. It never was.
Buy Dorothy's books direct from her publisher:
I've been visiting with the pandas most days; not sure if you're following along at home or not. If not, here's a couple good shots of cubby finally.
You can (sometimes) watch mom and cub at PandaCam on their website.
How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?
None. Nothing is wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect.
Why do you hate freedom?
From Bad Apples to Gov't Policy
Kinda weird how this works. First the abuses at Abu Ghraib were the work of a few 'bad apples' poorly supervised. Now the WH wants to ensure that they retain the ability to abuse whomever they want.
The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.
Vice President Cheney met Thursday evening with three senior Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to press the administration's case that legislation on these matters would usurp the president's authority and -- in the words of a White House official -- interfere with his ability "to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack."
Too bad they weren't making this argument during trials of England and Granger - they could have filed an Amicus Curiae brief for the defense about how those brave kids were just defending us effectively from terrorists.
It should come as no surprise that they're also blocking the release of all the rest of the photos...
Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.
The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.
The photographs were some of thousands turned over by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, the whistle-blower who exposed the abuse at Abu Ghraib by giving investigators computer disks containing photographs and videos of prisoners being abused, sexually humiliated and threatened with growling dogs.
Yeah, you can't see them and we can't tell you why. Because we say so, that's why. Uh-huh.
Still a mystery
How did the now-famous State Department memo, last seen in Ari Flescher's hands aboard Air Force One, get into the hands of Republican House Organ Talon News, specifically in the hands of White House Organ Jeff Gannon (R-$200/hour), who made reference to it when interviewing Joe Wilson?
Did the person who, *ahem*, slipped it to him, in a manner of speaking, have legitimate access to it? If not, where did that person get it?
How cooked is he?
From American Prospect:
White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
Then there's the Wall Street Journal on the State Department Memo:
A classified State Department memo that may be pivotal to the CIA leak case made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband's intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn't be shared, according to a person familiar with the document.
A special prosecutor is investigating whether Bush administration officials broke the law by intentionally outing a covert intelligence operative. Investigators are trying to determine if the memo, dated June 10, 2003, was how White House officials learned that Valerie Wilson was an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The memo's details are significant because they will make it harder for officials who saw the document to claim that they didn't realize the identity of the CIA officer was a sensitive matter. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, may also be looking at whether other crimes -- such as perjury, obstruction of justice or leaking classified information -- were committed.
The Atomic Flame
From Mercury News. Posted without comment:
By the time the monks reached San Jose's Japantown on Sunday afternoon, the bright red lantern they were carrying had traveled more than 5,700 miles, illuminated by a fire that has burned for nearly 60 years.
The so-called ``atomic flame'' is a remnant of the inferno that scorched Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, the day a U.S. bomber dropped the ``Little Boy'' nuclear bomb upon the Japanese city.
Now, a handful of Buddhist monks are bringing the flame back to its origin. During the next 3 1/2 weeks, they will carry the flame south and west, passing through California, Arizona and part of New Mexico until they reach the Trinity Site at White Sands Missile Range, where the world's first nuclear weapon was detonated on July 16, 1945.
The monks, dressed in traditional robes and rope sandals, set out from San Francisco on Saturday morning, the 60th anniversary of the test. They plan to reach the test site on Aug. 9, the day the atomic bomb known as ``Fat Man'' exploded over Nagasaki. ``In the eastern calendar, 60 is the end of a cycle,'' said the Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, one of the Japanese monks, as he prepared to begin the journey across the American West. ``I would like to bring the flame back to the place it came from and extinguish it in the hope that there won't be another use of nuclear weapons ever again.''
Over the past 60 years, monks have walked back and forth between Nagasaki and Hiroshima, praying for peace and disarmament.
The Rev. Daijo Ohta, Zen Master of the Kotaiji Monastery in Nagasaki, recounted how the flame originally was preserved by a man who had returned to Hiroshima after the bombing and found his uncle's home incinerated and his family dead. Tatsuo Yamamoto took embers from the fire to a nearby village, Hoshinomura, or Village of Stars, where his grandmother used them to kindle a flame to illuminate the family's Buddhist altar.
It has been burning ever since.
The Amazing Moving Goal Posts
Wow! Lookit 'em go!
President Bush changed his stance today on his close adviser Karl Rove, stopping well short of promising that anyone in his administration who helped to unmask a C.I.A. officer would be fired.
"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration," Mr. Bush said in response to a question, after declaring, "I don't know all the facts; I want to know all the facts."
First it was "anyone found to have leaked to the media", now it's "committed a crime". You'll note that this formulation allows Rove to continue to run our country while awaiting and during any trial...
Keep an eye on this - I predict that the next place the goal post winds up will be something like "anyone convicted of a crime will no longer have any place in this White House", leaving open the possibility that Rove will be able to continue to run the country from prison...
Now that's a phrase you don't hear very often these days. Maybe it's time to bring it back?
Let's admit it - the ONLY way that Bush did not know about the criminal conspiracy to out Valerie Plame was if the puppet-masters who run him decided he was too stupid and volatile to be trusted with the information.
And there's simply no way Cheney didn't know about it.
In honor of recent events, I draw your attention to a classic in my Wonkery Shop - the "Impeach Cheney First" line of fine products.
Click bumpersticker for mugs, tees, notebooks and more.
What he said
Kevin Drum articulates what has consistently pissed me off so much about the current adminstration. (Well, one of them, anyway.)
If there's any single thing that I hold against George Bush more than any other, it's the way that, with almost animal instinct, he decided within days of 9/11 to use it as nothing more than a routine opportunity to destroy his domestic enemies, rather than as a unique and fleeting chance to unite the country and destroy our foreign enemies. That tawdry instinct came from Karl Rove and people like him, and it's that instinct that is destroying the modern Republican party. Someday the few remaining grownup conservatives will figure that out.
Yeah. What he said.
Worse than Nixon
Kevin Drum offers proof of the new meme: even Nixon didn't leak classified information when his opponent, JFK, was claiming things that they both knew, from classified sources, was a lie.
Worse than Nixon. What a legacy.
Questions for the Press Corps
You know, they should be able to think these up on their own...
For Bush, when and if he ever again is visible in person in front of actual journalists: "Okay, then will you fire him if he's indicted? Convicted?"
For Scott: "Scottie, those days when, from WH access logs we know that Gannon visited the WH and there was no press briefing, who was he visiting? Was it you? Karl?"
(I just think that given Gannon's main area of expertise, this last question would be ... enlightening on a whole lot of issues.)
How thick is your tinfoil?
Use this useful guide:
0. The administration is doing the best they can with the situation they are given. The elections were fair and the democrats lost because their platform was lacking.Thanks for the guide go to FreshLaundry of Bartcop
1. The administration lies to cover it's own ass, but there are a lot of much smarter people than me in charge and they have our best interests at heart. The elections might have been meddled with, but by rogue republican operatives and not the administration itself.
2. The administration lies its ass off, stole the election on purpose, and corruption has filtered down from the highest levels. However, no one could have stopped 9/11 and we need to keep fighting the war on terror because we are in it now.
3. The administration might have allowed 9/11 to happen, but no one could actually do something like that to their own people - plus, there is no way they could get away with it. They are evil and power-hungry and have sent us into war on a false premises and pared back our freedoms because they fear us as much as the enemy. They have just taken advantage of a bad situation and are suffering from severe paranoia and xenophobia.
4. The administration planned 9/11. They funded it through black budget sources, forced our own anti-terrorist organizations to back off, and gave an enemy the precise times, dates, and methods - including scheduling the attack during a 'military training exercise' to heighten confusion. They planned to go to Iraq before ever getting into office. They (and their predecessors) routinely use the CIA to depose governments and prop up others against international law and without anyone's approval. They are seeking world domination. They are sociopaths. They are only interested in control, power, and money and have no love for the American people - they are willing to use us as cannon fodder to meet their own ends. If left unchecked, they would dismantle everything America stands for. Everything remaining, that is - democracy is already dead.
5. I hope extraterrestrials come and save us from the illuminati. This sucks.
For the record, I'm about a three. While I have long maintained that 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to George Bush Jr, I think he and his minions are too stupid to have actually pulled it off and got away with it.
So-Called Friend King of Jordan squishy on terror
... wants allies to address 'root causes'.
Yeah, let's just invite them over for milk and cookies and talk about feelings, huh? Is that what you're saying?
Heaven forfend we listen to an actual Arab leader, even an ally, on what might be behind 'terror'...
Are there any caves in London we can go smoke out?
Bush to London: better you than us
Rove calls Blair soft on terror
Lot of that going around:
First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff, Turkish media reported.
In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile, the Aksam newspaper said. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned, Aksam reported.
Milk and cookies
Whenever you try to talk about 'root causes' of terrorism, you are immediately set upon by all the monkeys who are on the RNC's blastfax list for talking points. The attack was designed by Karl Rove (R-felon) and was recently deployed - to outrage - by the man himself. The argument is - 'libs', or 'dems' (or whatever insulting diminutive they choose to deploy) are squishy on terror - they want to 'invite terrorists over for milk and cookies and talk about feelings'.
I've seen this same 'milk and cookies' phrase posted on numerous 'mixed' boards, so the wurlitzer is pumping the meme into the ideosphere.
The canard is a straw man, of course, and it's being deployed because the Right doesn't want any real investigation into the real causes of terrorism. Thus the content-free bullshit like 'they hate us because we're free' claptrap that often emerges from the mouthpiece in the WH.
What the Right ignores, or pretends to, is that the 'root causes' discussion has nothing to do with people who are currently terrorists. This is not about taking people out of al Qaida training camps and putting them into therapy to make them become NON-terrorists. It's about finding out what causes a brand-new baby to grow up to become a terrorist. Because, duh, once you know that, or at least have a selection of causes you can work against, you have some chance of shrinking the future supply of terrorists. So that when the current batch manages to blow themselves up, there will be fewer and fewer to take their place, unlike now, when it's like sowing dragon's teeth.
So why doesn't the Right (and here, of course, I mean the Far Right, as characterized by the leadership of the GOP and the administration) want to know what causes terrorism?
Well, because they have a pretty good idea. And they aren't causes that they want to do anything about. Poverty and ignorance are two root causes. And to irradicate that would require, well, money that's better spent giving tax cuts to your buddies.
A derived cause, of course, is Islamic Fundamentalism. Or to be fair, religious fundamentalism. And you find fundamentalism in poor, illiterate populations. (see my post below about Toyota moving to Canada because of literacy problems in the southern US.) Educated, prosperous people usually don't hold to a primitive theology. The very nature of education makes it unlikely - questioning beliefs and challenging one's hypotheses are not only encouraged, they're required.
Remove the ignorance and you stand a good chance of lessening the hold fundamentalist beliefs have on the population.
And this is one of the prime reasons the American Right will never be in the forefront on removing the causes of fundamentalist-based terrorism. Because it would put them in a catch-22; if they educate and make prosperous -all- the world's people, they lose their base - the 25% or so of the US population that believe a fundamentalist version of Christianity. If they only EXPORT the education and prosperity, in order to preserve the necessary ignorance of their core voters... they create economic enemies who will beggar us (as is indeed already happening.) The only thing the Right has to offer against 'terror' is a policy of smokin' 'em out of caves. And that has been shown to work sooo well.
the War on Terror (TM)
Something I recently understood that might help you all unpack the codewords that will be spewed over the next few days/weeks...
One thing that has always perplexed most of the left side of the blogosphere is the question of incompetence vs ideology. To wit: how come everything the administration does 'against terror' only makes the issue worse. Are they stupid? Blinded by their own shiny theories?
You'll never understand it until you internalize one thing. This administration, and implicitly their enablers in the punditocracy, do not want to 'win' the 'war' on terror. They need terror.
Hypothetical: huge cosmic shift in the universe and suddenly terrorism is no more. Al qaida - gone. Called to the mothership or home to Allah or whatever - doesn't matter. Everyone who wants a homeland has a homeland, everyone who wants to separate peacefully separates, every current reason for terror - gone overnight. Poof.
You can go to any country and interview any citizen: you, there. What do you want that you don't have? and hear them say something along these lines: 'well, maybe more time with my children, but other than that, I'm good, thanks.'
Visualize this universe. Do you have the picture firmly fixed in your mind?
Okay, can you simultaneously imagine that in this happy, peaceful universe, anyone in their right minds would ever vote for a Republican again?
In a Terror-free world, what would be the political issues? Healthcare. The burgeoning collosal fraud that is the current banking industry. The looming economic disaster that will follow Peak Oil.
Would you expect the conservatives to do anything useful against any of these issues? Would their policies be at all in line with the wishes of the majority of the populace?
I don't think so either.
So the only way they can hold on to the power they need to loot and plunder the rest of us is through the judicious use of fear. Fear of the Other. Coming here and HURTING us.
If there were no terrorism, it would be necessary for neocons to invent it.
Suddenly an old maxim makes sense in a new light. Truly the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
More Magical Mystery Science...
... from the good people who brought you the 6000 year old Earth.
Four years ago, as the state labored to eradicate citrus canker by destroying trees, officials rejected other disease-fighting techniques, saying unproven methods would waste precious time and resources.Jeez, Katherine, if I'd known you were looking for Alternatives, I'd have put a bid in on this one. Our own staff chemist, Sister Celestial Rose, can create Vibrational Waters that can do anything you want. It's an ancient technique recovered from Lemurian Seed Crystals and lowers entropy and raises quantum levels and harmonizes chi and everything.
But for more than six months, the state, at the behest of then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris, did pursue one alternative method -- a very alternative method.
Researchers worked with a rabbi and a cardiologist to test "Celestial Drops," promoted as a canker inhibitor because of its "improved fractal design," "infinite levels of order" and "high energy and low entropy."
But the cure proved useless against canker. That's because it was water -- possibly, mystically blessed water.
Meanwhile, some scientists were wondering what role an ancient branch of Jewish mysticism played in the development of the solution.
One document in the state's files indicates an official had searched the Internet for information on Hardoon and Spokojny and discovered both practiced Kabbalah, a religious movement whose followers include celebrities such as Madonna. Hardoon also teaches Kabbalah.
Mystically blessed water is a vital part of the faith and is sold for $3.80 a bottle at Kabbalah centers throughout the country.
Believers maintain the blessings performed over the water change its molecular structure and imbue it with supernatural healing powers. The traits attributed to so-called Kabbalah water -- "elegant crystalline structures" and "high energy and low entropy" -- are virtually identical to those of Celestial Drops.
Hardoon said he did not want to discuss any possible connection between the two.
Now that people are speculating that some of the leaking may have gone from reporters to the White House, isn't it time to revisit the Gannon question?
We know from access logs that he was frequently admitted to the WH on days when there was no press availabilities. Who was he talking to? or rather, visiting? Could he have learned Plame's identity during a Rough Trade form of pillow talk? Could he have helped his 'friend' work the phones to shop the info around?
Found while doing something else
Head over to the Whiskey Bar for Billmon's touching take on the Fourth.
I know what he means.
Americans too stupid for Toyota
So they're moving to Canada instead:
Ontario workers are well-trained.
That simple explanation was cited as a main reason why Toyota turned its back on hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies offered from several American states in favour of building a second Ontario plant.
Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.
He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.
Hey, you don't want them going to school and learning all about that eviloshun.
When are we going to face up to the fact that giving our educational system over to the flat-earth fundies is cutting off our nose to spite our face?
Oh, but I forgot - plutocrats need an illiterate and uneducated populace to stay in power.
Read this LATimes story about life inside North Korean now.
Then stop and wonder if our lives are going to be any better when the oil runs out.
Now Atrios joins the conversation here. I always thought the American preoccupation with 'hours' versus actual work accomplished was slightly insane. Talk about measuring the wrong thing!
Anyway, glad others are talking about it.
Weirdly, agreeing with McClellan
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the stamp is "an internal issue for Mexico." But he said, "Racial stereotypes are offensive" regardless of their origin.(at Link)
But according to Mexican President Fox:
President Vicente Fox said Friday that U.S. activists who have called a new Mexican postage stamp racist don't understand the issue and should read the comic book.
"They don't have information, frankly," Fox said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
See for yourself at the Talent Show - if you don't find the images offensive, you wouldn't recognize racism if it hung you from a tree.
Schadenfreude Part II
Now all the blogs are reporting that it has been said on the MacLaughlin Group that the Plame leaker was Rove.
Even better, Josh Marshall is hearing that we may soon know the originating source of the Niger-yellowcake forgeries.
I have long expected to discover that the Niger forgeries were Made in the USA, just on the cui bono principle. Why would Italy care whether or not the US invaded and occupied Iraq?
Anyway, I shall consider it a birthday present from a Kind Universe if anybody is frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs in the next two weeks - the Universe gets big BIG bonus points if it's Rove, more for Cheney. If Fitzgerald/US Marshalls have any sense of style, a Fourth of July arrest could be seen as a gift to a grateful nation on its birthday.
Let's all enjoy the SCOTUS situation - it's got to be miserable for a wide range of Repugs right now.
Think about it - the WingnutRight is going to expect a Roe-overturner in return for their faithful devotion lo these many years. And if they get one...
Yes, a number of politicians are going to be out of a job in '06. And we can say goodbye to one-party rule.
Not too soon, either, in my estimation.