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Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Difference Between Politically Incorrect and Historically Wrong

"The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History" seems quite a piece of work:
The introduction bills the book as an effort to 'set the record straight,' but it is actually an attempt to push the record far to the right. More than a history, it is a checklist of arch-conservative talking points. The New Deal public works programs that helped millions survive the Depression were a 'disaster,' and Social Security 'damaged the economy.' The Marshall Plan, which lifted up devastated European nations after World War II, was a 'failed giveaway program.' And the long-discredited theory of 'nullification,' which held that states could suspend federal laws, 'isn't as crazy as it sounds.'

...It is tempting to dismiss the book as fringe scholarship, not worth worrying about, but the numbers say otherwise. It is being snapped up on college campuses and, helped along by plugs from Fox News and other conservative media, it recently soared to No. 8 on the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list. It is part of a boomlet in far-right attacks on mainstream history that includes books like Jim Powell's "FDR's Folly," which argues that Franklin Roosevelt made the Depression worse, and Michelle Malkin's "In Defense of Internment," a warm look back on the mass internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

...Then there was the large Christian school in North Carolina that assigned its students a booklet called "Southern Slavery: As It Was." At first, the school argued that the booklet - which describes slavery as "a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence" - simply provided a valuable "Southern perspective." But after North Carolina newspapers reported on its contents, and quoted local pastors expressing their concern, the school quietly withdrew the text last month, apologizing for the "oversight."
Sick people.

Jack Clark 10:16 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110706579671261983

Once Lula was a hero of the left - now they heckle him off stage

Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was heckled on the stage at the World Social Forum yesterday by the same international activists who hailed him as a saviour when he swept to office two years ago. The left-wing firebrand sat stony-faced on stage as he was booed before delivering the keynote address at the annual alternative gathering timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum at the luxury Swiss ski resort of Davos.

...Mr Da Silva mounted a spirited defence of his first two years in office, saying Brazil is creating millions of jobs through a stabilised economy and becoming a strong political voice for the elimination of poverty from South America to Africa. His critics point out that average real wages in Brazil have dropped 6.1 per cent since he took office in January 2003 and the President has created only 2 per cent of the 250,000 jobs for young people that he promised by 2006.
Kind of a misleading headline, no? He wasn't heckled off the stage, according to the article. In any event, he's going to have to produce a lot more tangible results for the people inside Brazil or he's going to get booted out of office.

Jack Clark 9:59 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110706474559955182

Friday, January 28, 2005

Yes on Park Smoking Ban

The Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 3 on Tuesday to ban smoking in public parks, making San Francisco the first major American city to embrace such an expansive ban on tobacco use.

'This is the first one that includes all the parks and recreational centers in a county,' said one supervisor, Michela Alioto-Pier, who sponsored the bill.

The bill needs the approval of Mayor Gavin Newsom to become law.
How wonderful! I hate it when I'm in a park and the fresh air turns to cigarette or -- the worst!! -- cigar stench.

Jack Clark 10:02 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110697855842640476

Cartoon Character... or Political Animal?

To the Editor:

Your editorial about SpongeBob SquarePants ("Nautical Nonsense," Jan. 22) missed the point about the condemnation of this cartoon character by Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Similar challenges to fictitious characters have played a key role in the political strategy of conservative Republicans for years.

Dr. Dobson and other cultural conservatives exploit such dubious threats as SpongeBob SquarePants to illustrate their allegations of a liberal elite's assault on religion, family and children.

Moreover, they seize on the ridiculing of their critiques - like your editorial - to justify their crusades for "traditional" values.

These well-planned campaigns are designed to lead voters to overlook conservative policies and their own economic self-interest and vote for those who position themselves as defenders of cultural normalcy. After all, why should politicians address falling wages, prolonged unemployment, crashing pensions, evaporating unemployment insurance and outsourced jobs when you can get millions of voters to go for the cultural head fake and take out their anger on cartoon characters?

John A. Lawrence

Washington, Jan. 24, 2005

The writer is Democratic staff director, House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
"Cultural head fake" is a great phrase.

Jack Clark 9:59 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110697838432340999

Kucinich: Iraq Elections Will Be A Farce

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) today said that Iraqi elections, to be held on Sunday, will be a farce. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and John Negroponte, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, Kucinich cites a total absence of international election monitors in Iraq for Sunday's elections. The closest international monitors will get to Iraq on Sunday will be Amman, Jordan
LOL. Plus, as many observers have noted, the voting is taking place while the country is occupied and controlled by 120,000+ U.S. troops. The U.S. troops have the guns, U.S. troops have the money, U.S. troops have the power. Do you really think Iraqis are going to vote in a way that displeases the U.S.?

Jack Clark 9:36 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110697697969343040

Is It Time For A Corporate Death Penalty Act?

The Corporate Death Penalty Act could provide that every member of the Board of Directors and executives of a corporation who knew, or should have known about the likelihood of their product or services to cause death, will be subject to the death penalty if their product or service results in the death of an individual or group of individuals.
I second the motion.

Jack Clark 9:07 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110697522424114952

Do You Feel Guilty for the Sins of Bush and Blair?

At the third-tier stage, many people are so uncomfortable that they'll grasp at any straw to get relief from threatening feelings of guilt. "Conservative" friends, talk show hosts, columnists and religious authorities help soothe away any sense of guilt by pointing out how the harmed person "had it coming", "asked for it", "is just whining", "doesn't deserve sympathy", "needs a kick in the pants", or "probably deserved it."

These "conservative" moral relativists then boost the guilty party's ego (at the very moment it's most in need of re-assessment and critique) by persuading him or her that "no harm was done", "don't worry, you tried your best", "you meant well", "it's actually you who's the victim here, not them" or even "so what?", "you're making a mountain out of a molehill" and "who cares?".

The Rightwing Media's Achievement: Guilt-Disabled Americans

This is what "conservative" talk show hosts and newspaper columnists around the country have created: the guilt-disabled American. Without guilt, we are capable of anything. Without guilt, we can be led on an invisible leash by leaders who are likewise guilt-disabled, because we no longer have the need, nor the ability, to think for ourselves.

Without the capacity for guilt, we can't "second-guess" our leaders, i.e., use our heads. There is no need, because we've learned the excuses by heart. Even before the next dirty deed is done, our minds stand at the ready with automatic rationalizations and excuses.
Quite interesting analysis of a pernicious effect of the right-wing media.

Jack Clark 9:05 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110697510128959540

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Tell Them, 'Because our Fathers Lied'

"The master class has always declared the wars;
the subject class has always fought the battles...."
- Eugene Debs

...Many years ago Rudyard Kipling wrote in his Epitaphs of the War:

'If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.'

At the same time, one of England's most promising poets of WWI, Wilfred Owen, wrote a famous anti-war poem. After presenting a series of ghastly images relating to the death of a soldier by mustard gas, Owen tells us that if we could witness such scenes, then

'My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory. The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro Patria Mori.'

For those of us without an Oxford education, the translation of the Latin is, "It is sweet and fitting that you should die for your country."
Powerful quotes, no?

Jack Clark 10:13 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110689280445771856

Global Warming is 'Twice as Bad as Previously Thought'

Global warming might be twice as catastrophic as previously thought, flooding settlements on the British coast and turning the interior into an unrecognizable tropical landscape, the world's biggest study of climate change shows.

Researchers from some of Britain's leading universities used computer modeling to predict that under the 'worst-case' scenario, London would be under water and winters banished to history as average temperatures in the UK soar up to 20C higher than at present.
If Rush says it ain't so, it ain't so. These researchers are all commies, terrorists or both.

Jack Clark 10:10 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110689265202931312


These two charts (here and here) by Media Matters deserve more attention, for they overwhelmingly refute the ridiculous notion of "liberal media" dominance on cable TV news.
Definitely check out and print these two charts, then shove them up the nose of the next right-winger who says the word "liberal media" to you.

Jack Clark 10:05 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110689231954309694

Bottom line question about Bush

[M]any of us are wondering at present if he's a genuine sociopath or just a simpleton fanatic...
Love those turns of phrase.

Jack Clark 10:00 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110689204074134994

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Senators Who Voted Against War Crinimal Rice

The U.S. Senate voted 85-13 Wednesday to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. Here are the 13 senators who voted against her confirmation:

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
John Kerry, D-Mass.
Carl Levin, D-Mich.
James Jeffords, I-Vt.
Jack Reed, D-R.I
Mark Dayton, D-Minn.
Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii
Evan Bayh, D-Ind.
Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
A true roll call of honor.

Jack Clark 2:05 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110677710499361957

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dumbest and Most Immoral Christians on Earth Are Back!

Most American groups, including those affiliated with religious organizations, strictly avoid mixing aid and missionary work. But scattered reports of proselytizing in Sri Lanka; Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim; and India, with large Hindu and Muslim populations, are arousing concerns that the good will spread by the American relief efforts may be undermined by resentment.

...The Americans in Sri Lanka belong to the Antioch Community Church, an evangelical church based in Waco, Tex. Two members of the church were arrested, and accused of proselytizing, by the Taliban in Afghanistan in August 2001. When the United States invaded the country several months later, pro-American Northern Alliance forces freed the women, who church officials say did speak with Afghans about their personal "relationship with Jesus."

The Antioch Community Church is one of a growing number of evangelical groups that believe in mixing aidgiving with discussing religion, an approach that older, more established Christian aid groups like Catholic Relief Services call unethical.

...A Jan. 18 posting from the team in Indonesia says the country's devastated Aceh Province is "ripe for Jesus!!"

"What an opportunity," it adds. "It has been closed for five years, and the missionaries in Indonesia consider it the most militant and difficult place for ministry. The door is wide open and the people are hungry."
Remember these imbeciles? They haven't learned their lesson, and they're at it again. "The door is wide open and the people are hungry"?! F**K these people. No tears will be shed by me when they suffer the inevitable consequences of their immoral taking advantage of the "least of these": of course the exact opposite of what Jesus commanded those who would believe in him!

Jack Clark 10:00 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110671924596405365

Funny Letter

To the Editor:

In 1991, when photo radar systems were being introduced, Herb Caen reported in The San Francisco Chronicle that a Pebble Beach motorist received photos of his speeding car and an accompanying notice from the police of a $45 fine.

In turn, the motorist sent the police department a photo of $45. The police department responded by sending the motorist a photo of a set of handcuffs. I think he paid the fine.

Bill Bernstrom

Hoboken, N.J.
When I first read this, I laughed out loud for quite a while.

Jack Clark 9:39 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110671799174810612

Abuse, Torture by Iraqi Police Called Routine

Despite the millions of dollars spent by the U.S. and other nations to improve their performance, Iraqi police still routinely abuse and often torture detainees, according to a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Iraqi authorities routinely torture prisoners, a leading human rights group said, citing examples of abuse which will sound all too familiar to those who suffered under Saddam Hussein. Prisoners have been beaten with cables and hose pipes, and suffered electric shocks to their earlobes and genitals, the US-based group Human Rights Watch said. Some have been starved of food and water and crammed into standing-room only cells.

Methods of torture include routine beatings using cables, hosepipes and other implements; kicking, slapping, and punching; prolonged suspension from the wrists with hands tied behind the back; electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, including the earlobes and genitals; and being kept blindfolded or handcuffed continuously over several days, according to the 93-page report.
Freedom, Bushian-style.

Jack Clark 9:33 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110671761086938439

Jesse Lee Peterson Imbecility

"The recent actions of Senator Byrd to try and block the confirmation of Dr. Rice are a slap in the face to black Americans," complained the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND).

"Though he claims to have dropped his Klan robe and now sports a suit, his actions prove that he's still the same old racist Byrd," the Rev. Peterson told NewsMax. "We're calling on all Americans to repudiate this modern-day Bull Connor."

...He extended his condemnation to Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry, who he said were also "enemies to black people" because they support the efforts of the one-time night rider.
All these Democratic leaders are obviously also anti-white, because they opposed Bush, Cheney, etc. They're obviously anti-Hispanic as well because they oppose Gonzales. They're probably simply anti-human, and want an animal to be selected for the post, right Rev. Peterson?

Jack Clark 9:19 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110671676809662942

Psychology of Some Liberals

'My personal experience with some liberals is once you cross the line where you have a $1 million home, $800 stroller and a nanny, then deep down inside you are a Republican, and because you fear that, you lash out at anybody who seems to fit that persona,' said Ms. Troy, who started attending the services at the coffee shop with her husband and two children in September. 'They have to hate Christians or Republicans because deep down they feel 'I'm afraid I could be one.' '
In other words, the elementary psychological principle that you criticize in others that which you most don't want to recognize in yourself. Interesting, but no banana. As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes criticizing immoral Republicans or phony Christians is just that, legitimate criticism of immoral Republicans and phony Christians.

Jack Clark 2:50 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110669344523566567

Monday, January 24, 2005

US Support for Torture

Take Uzbekistan, one of the most repressive regimes in central Asia. In April 2002, a special UN rapporteur concluded that torture in the country was 'systematic' and 'pervasive and persistent... throughout the investigation process'. In the same year, Muzafar Avazov, an opposition leader, was boiled alive for refusing to abandon his religious convictions and attempting to practice religious rites in prison. In 2003, Bush granted a waiver to Uzbekistan when its failure to improve its human rights record should have led to its aid being slashed. In February 2004 the US secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, visited the country's dictator, Islam Karimov, and said: 'The relationship [between our countries] is strong and growing stronger. We look forward to strengthening our political and economic relations.'

Yet the US continues to shower the country with aid, docking a mere $18m last year (around 20% of the total) after expressing its 'disappointment' that Mr Karimov had not made greater strides towards democracy. Pan down the shopping list of tyrannical states in Ms Rice's in-tray (Iran, Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Cuba) and you will find no mention of Uzbekistan. Why? Because Uzbekistan, with an estimated 10,000 political prisoners, hosts a US military base that offers easy access to Afghanistan and the rest of the region.
Under the definition of hypocrisy in the dictionary, there's a group picture of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Powell and all the rest of their thug comrades.

Jack Clark 9:23 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110663058955500536

Exit Poll Companies Attempt Whitewash

The research firms that designed the $10 million polling system used by news organizations during last year's presidential election have concluded that the system erroneously showed John Kerry to be leading the race not because of a technological breakdown but because of more human variables. These included the relative youth of the pollsters, who were more successful securing interviews with supporters of Mr. Kerry as they left polling places than with those of the actual winner, President Bush.
As Thom Hartmann points out, these polling companies would have us believe that in battleground states where Kerry was predicted by the exit polls to win but then lost, there happened to be these "human variables," but these "human variables" did not exist in other states where the exit polls were accurate. How convenient. What a farce!

Jack Clark 4:59 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110661475357894810

McDonalds Hot Coffee Lawsuit Facts

Here's what the talk show pundits and columnists neglected to mention about the McDonalds coffee burn case:
79 year old Stella Liebeck suffered third degree burns on her groin and inner thighs while trying to add sugar to her coffee at a McDonalds drive through. Third degree burns are the most serious kind of burn. McDonalds knew it had a problem. There were at least 700 previous cases of scalding coffee incidents at McDonalds before Liebeck's case. McDonalds had settled many claim before but refused Liebeck's request for $20,000 compensation, forcing the case into court. Lawyers found that McDonalds makes its coffee 30-50 degrees hotter than other restaurants, about 190 degrees. Doctors testified that it only takes 2-7 seconds to cause a third degree burn at 190 degrees. McDonalds knew its coffee was exceptionally hot but testified that they had never consulted with burn specialist. The Shriner Burn Institute had previously warned McDonalds not to serve coffee above 130 degrees. And so the jury came back with a decision- $160,000 for compensatory damages. But because McDonalds was guilty of "willful, reckless, malicious or wanton conduct" punitive damages were also applied. The jury set the award at $2.7 million. The judge then reduced the fine to less than half a million. Ms. Liebeck then settled with McDonalds for a sum reported to be much less than a half million dollars. McDonald's coffee is now sold at the same temperature as most other restaurants.
I know this is from a long time ago, but the right-wing screamers will be screaming about it again, so best to know the facts.

Jack Clark 1:28 AM [+]  2 comments
Post #110655531391222371

RFK, Jr: Fascist America

In the book, Kennedy implies that we live in a fascist country and that the Bush White House has learned key lessons from the Nazis.

'While communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business,' he writes. 'My American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as 'a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism.' Sound familiar?'

He quotes Hitler's propaganda chief Herman Goerring: 'It is always simply a matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.'

Kennedy then adds: 'The White House has clearly grasped the lesson.'
Wow, he ain't pullin' no punches! Run, Robert, Run!

Jack Clark 1:21 AM [+]  0 comments
Post #110655490372928364

Fake Democracy

In a fake democracy, citizens play a role defined by the power elite, but are not truly empowered or engaged. In Cuba and other fake democracies, citizens are hostages to raw state power that controls personal freedom. In the U.S., citizens are hostages to consumerism. Controlled distraction replaces brute force. Instead of overt government propaganda, U.S. Citizens are victims of sly corporate media.

...To say the U.S. has a representative form of democracy is to hide the greater truth that we have little more than a formal democracy, not one in which citizens can trust their representatives to serve the public interest. Our representatives serve the power elite. To recognize that there no longer is any public disgust and outrage that ordinary Americans have virtually no access to their “public servants” compared to corporate and other special interests, is to recognize how much we have become a fake democracy.
Nice concise exposition. We have fake democracy run by fake Christians.

Jack Clark 12:15 AM [+]  0 comments
Post #110655453980366196

The Hidden Passages in Bush's Inaugural Address

When Bush thanked the American people for granting him patience in “good measure,” he was echoing Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure. . . .”

When Bush talked of the “ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever,” he was echoing Hebrews 13:8, which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Many more examples are given. Perhaps that's why Peggy Noonan called it a "God-drenched "speech. The pundits who just counted the times Bush used the word "God" were not onto Bush's game, apparently.

Jack Clark 12:10 AM [+]  0 comments
Post #110655421348000850

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Norman Mailer on the Real Christians

If by 2008, the Democrats hope to come near to a meaningful fraction of such voters, they will have to find candidates and field workers who can spread the word down South - that is, find the equivalent of Democratic missionaries to work on all those good people who may be in awe of Jehovah's wrath, but love Jesus, love Jesus so much more. Worked upon with enough zeal, some of the latter might come to recognize that these much-derided liberals live much more closely than the Republicans in the real spirit of Jesus. Whether they believe every word of Scripture or not, it is still these liberals rather than the Republicans who worry about the fate of the poor, the afflicted, the needy, and the disturbed. These liberals even care about the well-being of criminals in our prisons. They are more ready to save the forests, refresh the air of the cities and clean up the rivers. It might be agonizing for a good fundamentalist to vote for a candidate who did not read the Scriptures every day, yet some of them might yet be ready to say: I no longer know where to place my vote. I have joined the ranks of the undecided.
Yup, maybe we can covert some right-wing pseudo-Christians into real Christians. Actually, not convert, but SCARE! Fire-and-brimstone is what these people react to. Just what my Matthew 25 approach accomplishes.

Jack Clark 11:40 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110655244396369896

Bush's Hand-Picked Expert: Global Warming at Point of No Return

[H]he personally believes that the world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive".

His comments rocked the Bush administration - which immediately tried to slap him down - not least because it put him in his post after Exxon, the major oil company most opposed to international action on global warming, complained that his predecessor was too "aggressive" on the issue.
I wonder how they'll try to character assassinate him?

Jack Clark 11:35 PM [+]  0 comments
Post #110655214762764168

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