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Okay, got this link from the folks over at Corrente: seems that it is at least possible that one of the reasons the feds have been so slow to rebuild New Orleans is that there is oil under the city that they and their oil company cronies would very much like to get at. Truly, is anyone surprised? We’ve suspected that there was some sort of land grab in the works for some time, now. This just clarifies who the grabber will be – and really, is the oil industry any surprise here? The alleged president and his buddies are all about the oil, after all…
Again, as I read news coverage about the denial of basic constitutional rights, I find myself wondering exactly what country I am living in these days. The NY Times had a great story a couple days ago about Donald Vance, a U.S. Citizen and whistleblower who contacted the FBI because he was concerned about some things he saw at the company in Iraq that he was working for. Vance and one of his co-workers were held without trial, without access to legal counsel, and without good cause in Iraq for several months. The conditions would not pass muster under any reading of the U.S. Constitution that I am familiar with, other than perhaps our alleged president’s understanding of the rights of our citizens. This story is disturbing and yet somehow not surprising in the current environment.
Thanks to John Amato over at Crooks and Liars for the link to this troubling story.
(A warning: this article contains minor spoilers – though whether they truly constitute spoilers given that almost everyone knows the details of The Wizard of Oz, the story that provides the inspiration for Wicked, is a question only you can answer.)
I just wanted to pass along a recommendation to my nonexistent readers: if you get the chance to see the musical Wicked, I would encourage you to do so.
Yes, I realize that theater reviews are a little outside the norm for a political blog, but then, Wicked is a little outside the norm for a musical that is based on a children’s story. For a play that is about the witches of Oz, Wicked has a surprising political relevance in this wonderful age we’re living in. The Wizard has consolidated his political power by uniting the people of Oz against a common “enemy” (talking animals), and proceeds to demonize Elphaba, his only real opposition, in the public eye by calling her a wicked witch. Any resemblance to current political events is purely intentional – as evidenced by a joke about a regime change when a house lands on Elphaba’s sister.
The play has a heavy dose of social commentary as well. Elphaba, intelligent and socially conscious as perhaps only one who has been an outcast can be, suffers ridicule from her classmates, her family, and indeed most of society, because she is born with emerald green skin. Glinda is loved by one and all in spite of being a shallow and sometimes spiteful airhead because she is beautiful and blond. The people of Oz are easily manipulated by the powerful and the beautiful. Again, any resemblance to modern society is purely intentional.
I am reluctant to say more about the play, because I don’t want to spoil any specifics for those who have not yet seen it. Want to know more? Go see the play. Really.
Oh, Tom DeLay, you disingenuous man. You are deliberately missing the point in all the outrage over evangelical Christians in the military. No one is outraged about the presence of Christians, even evangelical Christians, in the military. While the old cliche that claims there are no athiests in foxholes is demonstrably untrue, I don’t think anyone would argue against allowing members of the military to practice Christianity. What is troubling is that there is evidence that some in the military hierarchy may be using their positions to proselytize or, even more troubling, to condition advancement upon espoused religious beliefs. More specifically, espoused beliefs in evangelical Christianity.
What you seem determined to ignore is that America was founded in part by people who came here hoping to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. Countless immigrants over the past two centuries have moved here hoping to be able to practice their religious beliefs free of outside interference or coercion.
Thus it understandably is upsetting to many people, including many Christians, to hear that men and women in the military may be experiencing pressure from their superiors in the military hierarchy to adopt or espouse certain religious beliefs that may be in conflict with their own beliefs. It is particularly troubling when one hears that careers may be damaged by failure to adopt those beliefs.
Tom, I know you’ve said your religious beliefs are deeply important to you. I will not question your sincerity. Instead, I ask you to consider an alternate reality, in which your religious beliefs, the beliefs you were raised with and hold dear to your heart, are not substantially the same as the majority of your countrymen — think of a Christian living in a predominantly Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu country. Now imagine that your superiors at your place of employment (I know you wouldn’t be in the military, since it appears you’re part of the chickenhawk brigade) pressured you to adopt their views, or made it clear that your advancement at work was dependent upon you converting to their beliefs.
How would you feel then, Tommy Boy?
You may have seen this already, but in case you missed it, Tom DeLay has started a blog – it apparently went up on Sunday, and was initially up for about 75 minutes with unmoderated comments, resulting in lots of posts of the “You crook!” and “F— you!” variety, and a few more thoughtful comments, whereupon it was taken down by Tommy Boy or one of his minions until they could figure out how to set it up with moderated comments. The posts are back up now, but it looks like it’s being heavily moderated. Some critical posts are getting through, but there already appear to be complaints from some commenters that previously-submitted comments haven’t been posted.
But wait, I hear my nonexistent readers say, don’t you reserve the right to cancel comments? Yes, indeed I do – abusive or threatening comments. Though at this point I’d be grateful for any comments at all, and would probably limit myself to mocking the grammatical and factual errors of those who flame me. And I welcome any kind of thoughtful criticism or reasoned disagreement – the whole point of free speech is that ultimately through intelligent discussion bad ideas will be discredited and good ideas will gain wider circulation. While I believe that the ideas and ideals I espouse are good ones, I freely admit to being human and therefore capable of making mistakes, so I like to hear opposing viewpoints. They may change my mind, or they may ultimately strengthen my resolve in my original views, but it is better to hear all sides of an issue (even the moronic ones) than to pick a viewpoint – particularly because that viewpoint is trumpeted by certain individuals or political parties – and ignore all evidence to the contrary.
But back to Tommy Boy. It looks like one attentive blogger kept a copy of one of the original posts plus comments before they were yanked from circulation – you can find it here. Entertaining reading, and something you’re not likely to see again anytime soon.
Okay, I had class this evening, so I couldn’t watch Countdown‘s live broadcast, but I’m watching the post-Colbert Report rebroadcast now. They just showed the alleged president’s joint press conference with Tony Blair before the British press, and all I can say is, damn, British reporters are not shy about asking the tough questions. I love it. We need to get some of these guys into the regular White House press gaggle. It’s not fair to make David Gregory do all the hard work…
P.S. I tried to find a clip of the press conference online, without success. If anyone is aware of one, please e-mail me a link.
Pity poor Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia), who has the nerve to complain that the Democratic Party wants to increase the Congressional workweek from approximately two and a half days a week (Tuesday afternoon until about 2:00 Thursday) to roughly four days (Monday evening to Friday afternoon). This proves, he claims, that the Dems “don’t care about families.”
You see, many in Congress fly home on weekends to visit their families. And now they won’t be able to fly home until Friday afternoon, possibly not getting in until sometime Friday evening. After which, they will have to fly back to D.C. on Monday mornings, in order to make the unreasonable 6:30 pm deadline for scheduled action on congressional bills. For which they are paid the paltry sum of $165,200 per year (for the rank-and-file members), plus an automatic annual cost-of-living adjustment, plus benefits that are a huge improvement over what the average American worker receives, plus pension (if they serve a whopping five years, which most do given the reelection rates for incumbents) and retirement benefits that are better than Social Security (and not dependent on the Social Security program’s solvency when they reach retirement), plus perks that would again make most of us green with envy.
And yes, as many will point out, they could all probably make more money than that in the private sector (if you ignore the benefits, at least) – but then they might have to actually work for a living.
But perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way. Surely, if Kingston believes that the current Congressional workweek is more supporting of families, he will be working in the next session to extend similar workweeks to the rest of us? From the folks over at firedoglake:
“It is wonderful to see a Republican like Jack Kingston supporting working families like this — wherein some folks have to work two and three jobs just to make ends meet. I look forward to his future legislative proposals to give every working person in America the same benefits he’s been able to enjoy as a Republican Rubber Stamp the last few years: great medical benefits, working only three days a week, passing little to no legislation — other than the full-of-earmarks rampant cronyism bills for pals of the GOP, six-figure salary, free trip perks…you know, what we all get to enjoy in our everyday lives. Oh, wait…”
Planning on flying through Phoenix anytime soon? You may want to reconsider that decision. The voyeurs at the TSA are going to be testing the use of a prison x-ray screening system at that airport in the coming months. It has supposedly been modified to “blur” certain areas, and the screen will supposedly be viewable only by TSA employees, not other passengers. Know what? I don’t care. This is way too invasive for routine use against law-abiding Americans.
This is getting out of control, folks. Just how much privacy do we have to give up? I don’t want to go through one of these, and I defy you to find a woman who would be comfortable with this, no matter how allegedly safe backers claim the system will make passengers. Who the hell wants TSA employees perving on their bodies? Sure, some things may be blurred a bit, but this is still more revealing than your average bathing suit.
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation website (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Electronic Freedom Foundation), we are told that our beloved government is preparing to make “risk assessments” of all U.S. travelers as they enter or leave the country. Risk assessments will apparently be maintained in government records for forty years, and you will not be able to gain access to your risk assessment score. That’s okay, though. Everyone else, including police, airlines, federal, state and local government agencies, and their contractors (hello, Halliburton!) will have access to your information.
Somebody, remind me – what country are we living in? ‘Cause, I thought this was America, not Cold War-era East Germany or the Soviet Union. This is terrifying to me, and (aside from my thoughtcrimes recorded in this little blog) I would not be considered the slightest risk to anyone. What about Islamic American citizens whose only crime is practicing a religion not shared by the alleged president? What about political activists who have pissed off the high and mighty? Are they/we to be prevented from exiting (or returning to) the country? Will airlines start refusing to sell tickets to those whose risk scores are too scary? Remember, you cannot access your score (legally, anyway), and there is no way to appeal it. It will be kept for forty years – hell, even bankruptcies are only maintained on your credit report for seven years.
Does anyone out there have any good recommendations for countries where they still have civil liberties, in case things get a little to scary here? It’s a difficult question, because this used to be the country fled to in order to escape oppression. Now, it would appear that we are the oppressed…
Okay, here‘s the most giggle-inducing editorial in recent memory, on the Department of Health and Human Service’s recent laughable abstinence-only program for…
…wait for it…
…all adults under the age of 30. I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing and wipe the coffee off your monitor.
But here’s the thing — wasn’t abstinence a major theme in Orwell’s 1984? Ah, yes, here we go…from the Wikipedia entry on 1984:
“The Party imposes anti-eroticism on its members (sponsoring the Junior Anti-Sex League, etc.), since sexual attachments might diminish exclusive loyalty to the Party.”
Well, there you have it. The Republican Party is hereby officially dubbed the Big Brother Party of No Fun. Of course, we’ve suspected as much along, but it’s always nice to have official confirmation of these things.