Saturday, May 06, 2006


What appalled us this week

I'm inundated by the daily deluge of appalling news. But I'm not alone, so I thought I'd survey the week through the eyes of others who were appalled and the news that appalled them.


Since today is Derby Day, the day of the great Kentucky Derby, we should consider what becomes of the horses. Most of them live out a blissful retirement, but not all. Some may end in a French or Belgian restaurant surrounded by a little sauce bordelaise or in a can of gourmet dog food.

That's what happened with 1986 Derby winner Ferdinand. He was sold to the Japanese to be used as a stud. But Ferdinand sort of dried up as did the profits. So before you could say "horsemeat," Ferdinand was shipped to that great slaughterhouse in the sky to free up space on an island that hardly has room for golf.

Upon hearing the news Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield—

I was really shocked and appalled... Here we are still slaughtering horses in the U.S. I wasn't aware of that and I don't think many people are aware.

He has a bill he hopes will put a stop to this—

The bill would prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivery, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of a horse or other equine for slaughter for human consumption. Even if they were trying to move it to Mexico or Canada, it would be a violation.

This will create a dilemma for horse farms that is similar to the problem EU countries face when asked to extradite persons to the United States. The EU countries can't extradite if the person is at risk of execution in the receiving country. So the EU countries have to exact a promise from U.S. federal or state governments not to bring capital charges against the accused.

The U.S. may yet adopt such a humane policy for its two-legged citizens, but first we must try it on horses.

Finnish authorities appalled by May Day riot

Finnish authorities on Tuesday expressed sentiments of surprise and reprehension over the May Day riot in the centre of Helsinki where firefighters attempting to put out blazes and police trying to protect them were attacked.

The riot developed late on Sunday night when up to 200 young people, described by the police as anti-globalisation demonstrators, converged on the disused Finnish Railways warehouses opposite Parliament and lit fires.....

PM 'appalled' at VCs sale offer

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is appalled by attempts to sell the double Victoria Cross medals awarded to war hero Charles Upham.

Captain Upham's family wants to sell the medals and his daughter, Virginia Mackenzie, said she thought they might be worth up to $7.65 million.

But isn't that sort of "incentivizing" heroism? What's wrong with that?

In the U.S. we've decided to skip the heroism and go straight for the money. It's estimated that there are now more fake military medals in circulation than real ones. Rep. Salazar of Colorado is working on a law, the Stolen Valor Act. This would "make it illegal to make a false public claim to be a recipient of any military valor award, such as the Medal of Honor, a Silver Star or Purple Heart." As with all our other problems, a new law making bad taste illegal should fix this right up, don't you think?

Motion in House of Commons on Doda massacre
London: Britain's House of Commons today said it was "appalled" by the massacre of unarmed Hindus in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir and asked India and Pakistan to persevere in their efforts to end such "cross-border terrorist outrages."

BB shots hurt two juveniles: Witnesses appalled; arrested man says he fired after provocation

Witnesses were appalled and a Palatka man was charged Thursday with misdemeanor battery after the man fired a BB gun at juveniles, according to police reports. Two of the juveniles -- one 13, the other 14 -- sustained minor injuries.

This was in Florida where shooting to kill is everyone's right. The kids were lucky it was a BB gun.
Bruce Springsteen Was Appalled By Hurricane Katrina Response

Bruce Springsteen yesterday slammed the official response to Hurricane Katrina during a performance at New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival as "criminal." Springsteen took the opportunity to hit out at politicians for the way in which they handled the aftermath of the disaster, which killed over 1,300 people across America's Gulf Coast region last year.

He told the crowd, "I saw sights I never thought I'd see in an American city. The criminal ineptitude makes you furious."


One of the most appalling stories of the week comes, not surprisingly, from George Bush's home state where we find Carswell, "the only — allegedly — full-service federal prison hospital for women in the country."

“I believe there should be a congressional investigation and based on those findings, I would expect criminal charges to be filed against those persons who have inflicted pain and suffering on the inmates, as well as those in authority who condoned these practices. These women have been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and their constitutional rights have been violated.”

The speaker is no radical prison reformer, but a retired judge who spent 12 years on the state appellate bench in Texas, two years as Harris County district attorney, and more than a decade as a criminal defense attorney. And the inmates Ross Sears is describing are not being held in some distant dictator’s jails, but in Fort Worth, at the Carswell Federal Medical Center for women.

.... He knew nothing about the conditions at Carswell until a friend asked him to represent Holcombe, 66, who had been sent to Carswell in 2002 following her conviction for a white-collar crime.

“I was appalled at what she told me,” he said.

If we are going to torture people abroad, practice at home is essential.


And finally a little fun—

Drag-queen actor lifts British movie

When reluctant shoemaker Charlie Price turns his factory upside down to produce a pair of ghastly boots for a man-size drag queen, said queen, Lola, is appalled.

They're drab. They're dowdy. Worse -- they're burgundy.

"Please tell me I didn't inspire burgundy," pleads Lola. She/he quickly lays down the color-scheme laws of footwear. The boots can only be one color. "Red!" bellows Lola. "Red is the color of sex, fear, danger and signs that say, Do Not Enter!' "


Observation of the Day

The colloquial term is outing, the reporting on anti-gay officials Republican or Democrat. I call it reporting. Nobody 'outed' Clinton for having sex with Monica Lewinsky; that was a report. But with a man, it's outing. That's a double standard, and homophobic. —Michael Rogers of BlogACTIVE speaking at the Equality Forum, as quoted by Raw Story

Friday, May 05, 2006


Certainty of the Day

One thing is certain: there will not be amnesty. There must be consequences for breaking the law —Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman speaking to the Colorado State Chairmen's Meeting on the matter of "those willing and anxious to put tar on roofs in 100-degree weather to provide food for children they love"

As we look to the future of this administration and the Congress, this is certainly a point that Republicans should ponder.


Capitalist Conundrum of the Day

Our problem today is one of supply and demand - demand for workers without the supply —Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman addressing the Colorado State Chairmen's Meeting

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Word of the Day

to table: (1) to put up for consideration (British and Canadian press), (2) to postpone consideration; shelve (U.S. press)

'Table' is one of those terms that contains both a meaning and the opposite of that meaning. (If anyone happens to remember what they're called, drop a note in the Comments.) The contrary meanings can play strange tricks when reading news via the internet.

For instance, today I saw a headline "UN draft on nuclear Iran tabled," from which I supposed that some affront to the Iranian regime had been postponed. But the report was from the BBC, and when taken with the story, the meaning was "Iran threatened at the UN"—

The resolution urges Iran to "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development" and "suspend the construction of a reactor moderated by heavy water".

It threatens to consider "further measures as may be necessary" to ensure compliance - a reference to possible sanctions.

On the other hand, reading "Property tax bill tabled for 2006" and thinking in the American way, I knew immediately that some politicians were trying to avoid a decision. And sure enough, there it was in the lead paragraphs—

Floridians won't get to vote this year for the chance to move property tax protections when they do.

Instead, lawmakers suggest a study.

And my point? Just be careful. Be very, very careful.



Kenneth Bazinet of the NY Daily News reports that President Bush was perhaps a little forgetful when he came out in favor of an English-only national anthem—

On the campaign trail in 1999, Bush would often sing along as the national anthem was sung in Spanish during stops in Hispanic communities, GOP scholar Kevin Phillips wrote in his book "American Dynasty."

After Bush was elected, Cuban exile and pop vocalist Jon Secada also sang the "The Star-Spangled Banner" in both English and Spanish at the 2001 opening ceremony of the presidential inaugural, according to media reports at the time.

Bazinet tries to help out by explaining that—

Bush and Secada sang the actual national anthem in Spanish, and not the new song with different lyrics and music that has angered many English-speaking Americans.

But he acknowledges that Bush's stated position is that "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English."

My opinion? Despite efforts over the years to claim that Bush is fluent in Spanish, I doubt he had a clue what he was singing. "White House spokesmen" are skeptical too. According to WaPo's Peter Baker,

White House spokesmen and former campaign operatives said they could not recall whether that happened, though given the level of Bush's Spanish proficiency, they seemed dubious.

It seems that Bush's language ability has been officially downgraded.


Wager of the Day

I’m ready to bet Republican money, which after all hires the illegal workers, has too much at stake to let their party go off on a racist toot. You can let the right-wing radio commentators bloviate all they want, to get the young jackboots all stirred up, but it’s still Wal-Mart hiring these people. Believe me, their employers are big Republican donors. —Molly Ivins in "Race Card Backfires on Republicans"


Lead of the Day

Evo Morales' sudden energy nationalization in Bolivia could fuel growing demands for an end to the free-market economic policies that have done little to ease grinding poverty across the Andean region. —Helen Popper for Reuters in "Bolivian nationalization may spur Andean leftists"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Red Scare II: Mayday! Mayday! It was May Day all over again

¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!
"The people united will never be defeated"
—Chant heard during the protest marches on May 1

On Monday I commemorated the landing of the Unelected Fraud (also known as the National Embarrassment) upon the decks of the USS Abraham Lincoln. But there was a more significant event: We saw some of the largest marches since the Sixties. We saw a general strike and boycott, practically unknown in the U.S. And we watched what surely must be unique to our times—public demonstrations by a massive number of non-citizens.

The media didn't know what to do. CNN showed images of the marchers filling several city blocks, then "balanced" them by interviewing some Hispanics "leaders," seated around a table, who opposed the action. Yesterday online the Washington Post's main page said "Impact of Boycott for Immigrants Unknown," though the actual story title was "Boycott Gives Voice To Illegal Workers." The Chicago Tribune asked "Was Congress Watching?" but left it unclear just what the Congress was supposed to see.

Putting all the burden on the Senate (since it was actions by the House of Representatives that brought on the protests in the first place) the Tribune's editorial ended equivocally—

Did Monday's protests move the participants closer to citizenship, or to expulsion? If that question is to be answered--if the emerging American consensus on immigration reform is to become law—the Senate must now act and then negotiate. But marching to the Senate's beat makes for a mighty quiet shuffle of feet.

No advice there. But the NY Times knew which side it was on—

The worst among our citizens and politicians are eager to depict illegal immigrants as criminals, potential terrorists and alien invaders. But what we saw yesterday ... were regular people: the same types of assimilation-minded moms, dads and children we wistfully romanticize on holidays devoted to, say, St. Patrick and Columbus.

If these extraordinarily positive events were a protest of anything, it was the idea of the immigrant as temporary and unwelcome guest worker....

A silent, shadow population is speaking with one voice. The message ... is clear: We are America. We want to join you.

It's a simple message. It should be sinking in by now.

Times reporter Randal Archibold covered the protests in L.A. and noted that

The protesters, a mix of illegal immigrants and legal residents and citizens, were mostly Latino, but in contrast to similar demonstrations in the past two months, large numbers of people of other ethnicities joined or endorsed many of the events. In some cases, the rallies took on a broader tone of social action, as gay rights advocates, opponents of the war in Iraq and others without a direct stake in the immigration debate took to the streets.

Remembrance of May Day's past. El pueblo unido... The people united... I began to hum the Internationale. What could be up? I had to wait for the PBS NewsHour to find out.

The movement's been hijacked and innocent Hispanics have been deceived!

Leslie Sanchez and Juan Jose Gutierrez. Their respective positions are the reverse of those shown in the layout.
Reporter Ray Suarez garnered the "perspectives" of two guests: Juan Jose Gutierrez, "director of Latino Movement USA, a Los Angeles-based group that helped organize today's boycott" and Leslie Sanchez, "chief executive officer of the Impacto Group, a market research firm focused on the Hispanic community ... [who] served as director of the White House Initiative on Hispanic Education under the first President Bush."

Sr. Guterriez was extremely sane and articulate but sported a heavy Spanish accent. Subtitles might have helped. Ms. Sanchez on the other hand was all perky, anglophone and glib, and you just knew that one of her ancestors had sailed aboard the Pinta, Niña or Santa María. Well, I'm used to stacked decks.

Ray Suarez asked Gutierrez to speak to the mission of the protest, to which he responded—

What I envisioned ... is that the American people are going to begin paying attention to the very just quest by immigrants for legalization.

I think that, as every poll is beginning to indicate, the tide is turning. And today's boycott ... is going to make Americans move fast in the direction of doing the right thing, of urging Congress and the president of the United States, who have been politicking on this issue for way too long.

And, you know, ultimately I think that the American people is going to see right through all the politicizing of this issue....

The American people aren't going to see through anything if Ms. Sanchez can help it. Here's where I spilled my jelly beans—

RAY SUAREZ: ... First, as Juan Jose suggested, did this get America's attention?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, Impacto Group: I really think, overall, it's a fizzle, and I know it's probably too early to tell, especially on the West Coast. But the reason I say that is we have to look at what the intent of this was.

The intent, according to many of the organizers, was to wreak economic chaos. It [is] not a coincidence that they picked May Day, the international socialist day of the worker, to celebrate this.

This is not like the protests you saw in March and April that were organic, in the sense that they were Hispanic-sponsored immigrant groups, faith-based-oriented Spanish language radio, and they came together collectively to talk about the things my colleague here just mentioned.

This animal today is completely different. I think it's much more politicized. It's organized by umbrella groups that have an intent other than immigration reform. And I don't think they've got, you know, what they said they wanted all weekend, which was havoc on American cities.

Why, according to Ms. Sanchez, what we had just witnessed was nothing less than a Communist plot to overthrow the American government! And notice the simple, guileless, even "faith-based-oriented" nature of the original protests. But now these poor protestors have been deceived by their puppet masters!

Back in the Fifties and Sixties you heard this kind of red-baiting rhetoric all the time. It was thought that black people only wanted their civil rights because the Communists were "stirring them up" and putting radical thoughts in their heads. But with true Communists now rarer than the giant panda, even I was surprised to hear such an accusation in the Year of our Lord 2006.

It didn't faze Moderator Suarez, however. Without so much as a follow-up question such as "Would you care to name names?" Suarez continued the interview as if nothing remarkable had been said.

Fortunately, Mr. Gutierrez was able to respond—

RAY SUAREZ: Juan Jose Gutierrez, is it so different? Did the immigrants from many places, but certainly from Latin America, out on the streets of the country today put forward those ideas, that Leslie Sanchez says they hold, by staying away from work, by not spending money?

JUAN JOSE GUTIERREZ: No. What the people did today is that they took an American position for their constitutional and civil rights in this great nation. Nothing could be further from the truth that, just because some people from the left happen to join us in solidarity, that that in itself describes the remarkable historic event of today.

And responding to another of Sanchez' points of misinformation, Gutierrez added—

You know, when this lady is talking about the American people, you know, she makes a whole lot of mischaracterizations that have no base in reality.

Ms. Sanchez has given us a preview of some of the rhetoric to expect. But don't dismiss it just because it's dated and ridiculous. If reality has a liberal bias, as Stephen Colbert quipped in front of the National Embarrassment, it still lacks the media outlets to get the message out.

So if you hear any nonsense about these protests being engineered by Communists or socialists, remind the speaker that in the United States May 1 is Loyalty Day. And that's the law!

Related posts
Just when I was getting comfortable in the Holocene (8/28/04)
The truth about the truth (10/13/04)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Foolish Question of the Day

Do you think if there was any real evidence, we would have reached a settlement? —Rush Limbaugh on his talk show, as quoted by Brian Skoloff

Why, yes! In fact, that seems to be precisely why Limbaugh reached a settlement. (We're talking of course about those drug charges—now reduced to a single charge—that Limbaugh has been facing.)

Let's put it another way. If there was no real evidence, do you think Limbaugh would agree to this?—

Under the deal filed Monday, Limbaugh cannot own a gun, must submit to random drug tests and has to continue treatment for his acknowledged addiction to painkillers....

The deal also requires that Limbaugh be available to a court officer for questioning throughout the 18-month period.

If the charge is false, what does this say about Limbaugh? After all, it isn't that he doesn't have the money to fight the charge—a position most of us would be in. And fighting a false charge would seem to be the honorable, ethical, even patriotic course to take. But maybe that's not Rush.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Anniversary of the Day: "Mission Accomplished"

The National Embarrassment

It was the first time a sitting president has arrived on the deck of an aircraft carrier by plane....

Moments after the landing, the president, wearing a green flight suit and holding a white helmet, got off the plane, saluted those on the flight deck and shook hands with them. Above him, the tower was adorned with a big sign that read, "Mission Accomplished."

—report by CNN from aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

Upon landing, the National Embarrassment was greeted by the Teletubbies, also known as "side boys." (It's an old naval custom.) Tinky-Winky (left, in lavender) is alleged to be gay. His red handbag, not shown in the photo, may have been removed for security purposes.

I thought it would be enlightening to see what the media were saying and writing on that auspicious day.

Greg Mitchell surveyed the NY Times coverage for the week, from which I excerpt the cheerleaders—

Elisabeth Bumiller

President Bush's made-for-television address tonight on the carrier Abraham Lincoln was a powerful, Reaganesque finale to a six-week war....1

Editorial, May 2

As presidential spectacles go, it would be hard to surpass George Bush's triumphant ''Top Gun'' visit to the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln yesterday off the California coast. President Bush flew out to the giant aircraft carrier dressed in full fighter-pilot regalia as the ''co-pilot'' of a Navy warplane. After a dramatic landing on the compact deck -- a new standard for high-risk presidential travel -- Mr. Bush mingled with the ship's crew, then later welcomed home thousands of cheering sailors and aviators on the flight deck in a nationally televised address.

The scene will undoubtedly make for a potent campaign commercial next year. For now, though, the point was to declare an end to the combat phase of the war in Iraq and to commit the nation to the reconstruction of that shattered country….

But Media Matters has the goods. Here are but a few—

Chris Matthews of MSNBC:

  • He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics....
  • Here's a president who's really nonverbal. He's like Eisenhower. He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West.
  • The president's performance tonight, redolent of the best of Reagan...
  • The president there -- look at this guy! We're watching him. He looks like he flew the plane. He only flew it as a passenger, but he's flown --
    .... He looks for real. What is it about the commander in chief role, the hat that he does wear, that makes him -- I mean, he seems like -- he didn't fight in a war, but he looks like he does.

And then there's the sexual innuendo and gay-bashing. G. Gordon Liddy, felon under Richard Nixon, was gushing—

Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know -- and I've worn those because I parachute -- and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those -- run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count -- they're all liars. Check that out.

Security Concerns

Karen Young of the Washington Post wrote the next day,

For once, there were no security concerns to keep Bush from pressing flesh, and he made the most of it, hugging and patting everyone on the back -- from the greasy flight deck crew to F-18 pilots waiting to fly home this afternoon.

This couldn't have been correct. CNN reported,

A second pilot and a Secret Service agent were in the rear seats of the plane when it landed.

Bush wanted to swoop onto the deck of the Lincoln aboard an F-18 Hornet, but the Secret Service nixed the idea -- they didn't like leaving the president unguarded in a fighter jet that only has space for the president and a pilot.

And so, as we sail into the sunset, I leave you with an image I hope will last from that memorable day—

The Commander-in-Chief with SS protection aboard ship. Observe the two gentlemen in the background wearing business attire.

Related post
Suddenly there was an explosion—Our brave, macho President (10/30/04)
George Bush: Cheerleader-in-Chief of Social Security "reform" (2/14/05)

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